Friday, February 27, 2015

Atheism Leads to Violence?

Does atheism inevitably lead to violence? Many in the media and in religious circles seem to make you want to think that is the case by the flurry of headlines that followed the tragedy in Chapel Hill. Three Muslim students (Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha) were shot and killed by Craig Hicks.

That isn't the part that has everyone talking though. That honor would go to the fact that Hicks is a self described atheist. As soon as that flash bulb went off the accusations and questions began. Did he kill them because of religion? Is this atheism's fault? Is atheism violent by nature?

The honest truth is that we don't know what Hicks' motivation was yet. There is a history between him and the deceased. But a parking dispute doesn't sound like something to kill over. Yet despite the lack of info, many a believer is pointing at Hicks' facebook page full of atheist pictures and stories just so they can say "See! He did it because he's an atheist!"

Personally I think that's a pretty silly conclusion to jump to, and not just because there's not sufficient evidence. In my opinion I can't see how atheism can be deemed to be what caused this violence. Atheism is not a belief system with a set of rules and demands. It is simply the lack of belief in gods. There's nothing more to it... you just don't believe.

I feel that some believers may feel as though I'm being hypocritical by saying that atheism can't be the cause when there are times where I would say that a particular religion can be considered the cause for some sort of atrocity. I would have to disagree with that claim. That's because where atheism has no holy book, rules, or creeds, religion does. Islam and Christianity both have passages that command the killing of those that don't believe.

The Bible has been used to subjugate woman, oppress homosexuals, justify slavery, and even justify genocide. Through history, there are monsters who have done horrors because they felt they were following the word of the Bible or Qur'an. Their beliefs came from and were justified by the teachings in their holy book. In those cases, I feel religion can be the spark that starts the forest fire. But atheism has no such holy text.

Maybe a potential answer is right at the top of Hicks' facebook page. His header image is none other than one in support of anti-theism. So it would seem that Hicks was more than just an atheist, he was an anti-theist. Anti-theists go further than simply not believing. They actively oppose religion.

Still, even though anti-theists are what many believers would call 'militant atheists', there's still nothing in there that calls for this kind of action. What Hicks did is abhorrent, and I don't know another atheist who would opine otherwise. In fact it has been my experience that atheists as a whole tend to greatly despise and avoid violence. It is possible that Hicks possessed a combination anti-theism and racism or some other prejudice? I could see that causing a perfect storm that could turn violent. But that would also be the case with a racist Christian, so is atheism really to be blamed?

Also, Hicks was also a bit of a gun nut. Why is that small fact being ignored by the conservative outlets that want to blame these killings on atheism? Where are the headlines that read 'Gun ownership leads to violence!' It seems that confirmation bias and sensationalizing wins the day.

Back on the notion that what Hicks did was due to him being an atheist... What about the many Christian murderers? Were they all Christianity's fault because they were Christians? What about the fact that the vast majority of US inmates are Christian? Why is the anomaly of an atheist criminal claimed to be indicative of a larger trend, while the regularity of religious criminals ignored? Surely if one atheist murderer is supposed to prove that atheism leads to violence, then the orders of magnitude more Christian murderers must 'prove' that Christianity leads to violence just that much more.

Obviously Christians will take issue with the notion that their religion is violent due to the acts of individuals. They will point to motive with a Christian killer, just as I suggest we need to learn Hicks' motive in these killings. Now they know how atheists feel about the Craig Hicks story. He does not speak for me, and I feel that what he did was terrible. My heart goes out to the families of the victims of this senseless act.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Church and Negativity

Is it a good idea to force kids to go to church? Billy Graham sure thinks so...
Q: I had to go to church when I was young, but I always resented it and quit once I got older. Now, I'm married with two small children, and my wife thinks we ought to start going to church for their sakes. But what's to keep them from resenting it like I did? -- M.M.
I'd suggest that MM follows his gut and not force his children to go to church... for their sake. It's my opinion that becoming a member of a religion should be a personal choice. Children should be allowed to grow to an age where they can make a reasoned decision if they want to attend or not.
A: Have you ever asked yourself exactly why you resented having to go to church? Was it because you found it boring and wished you could be doing something else? Or was it because you simply didn't like being told what to do -- no matter what it was? And if you start going to church again, will you have the same feelings?
I ask this because your attitude (whatever it is) will inevitably influence your children. In other words, if you resent going to church, they'll probably resent it also. Never forget, our children learn from our example, for better or worse.
Is that necessarily the case though? MM was forced to go to church, yet he ended up not wishing to attend any longer. His parents wanted him to go, yet he didn't want to after going for a while. According to Billy MM's parents wanting to be there and wanting him to be there would translate into him wanting to be there. That obviously didn't end up being the case. Perhaps the real problem is that MM simply couldn't believe in the religion of his youth any longer.
But perhaps God is trying to get your attention, and He's using this situation to do it. Right now, God means little to you; your disinterest in church is a sign of this. But God doesn't want you to remain a stranger, and I pray you won't.
Or maybe MM realized that the claims of his religion were not rooted in fact, or perhaps the ugly side made it too hard to remain in the fold. But I have to wonder, would Billy be so adamant that MM force his kids to go to church if it was a temple or mosk instead? Somehow I think his advice would change very quickly.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, February 23, 2015

All Religions Alike?

Some people take a more open stance on religion. They feel that in the end, while competing religions don't seem to agree, they all actually lead to the same place. That is the opinion of one reader, but Billy Graham doesn't agree...
Q: I think it's wrong for any religion to claim that it's the only way to God. In my view, all religions lead to the same place. Don't you think we ought to be more tolerant toward people of different religions? -- S.L.
I agree with SL. People ought to be more tolerant of people simply belonging to a different religion or none at all. He is also correct that all religions are equal... at least in one way. None have met the burden of proof required to prove that their claims are true.
A: Freedom of religion is written into our nation's constitution, and I certainly hope and pray this never changes. Over the years, I've visited countries that don't have religious freedom, and it almost always has led to persecution for those in the minority. Intolerance and religious hatred have no place in civilized society. The Bible says, "Show proper respect to everyone" (1 Peter 2:17).
I fully agree that our freedom of religion and separation of church and state are integral to the success and freedoms we enjoy. Yet while Billy talks in favor of these rights, why do so many like him wish to see them torn down so that they can force their version of their religion on all?
But I respectfully disagree with your view that all religions are alike, and all lead to the same place. Have you honestly ever studied the major religions of the world? If you do, you'll discover they often contradict each other, so how can they all be true? For example, some claim there are thousands of gods and goddesses, but how can that be reconciled with those who believe in only one God? It can't -- not logically.
True, they all can't be true if taken completely literally. The great majority contradict each other. The very act of accepting that one religion is literally true would automatically mean that certain other religions (or all other religions) can't be true.

But I think the point that SL is getting at is that if you don't take every religion 100% literally, they are actually just different paths or interpretations to God/the gods. I don't personally agree with this opinion, but it seems that the actual nature of SL's question was lost on Billy.

And yet there is one way in which all religions are the same... There is no evidence that actually supports them being true!
This is why I urge you to look at Jesus Christ as He is found in the pages of the New Testament. He made a startling claim -- that He was God, who came down from heaven to save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
And why not a different savior or god from some other equally unevidenced holy book?
Was Jesus a liar? No, because He backed up His claim by breaking the bonds of death and coming back from the grave. He came because He loves us, and He knew this was the only way we could be saved. Don't be deceived, but open your heart and mind to Jesus Christ. His words are true: "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). 
Sigh... Does Billy not realize that the Bible saying it happened doesn't mean that it actually did? The Bible saying that Jesus rose from the dead is no more proof of that that the Qur'an is proof that Muhammad actually rode/flew a winged horse to Heaven.

As Billy pointed out, all religions can't be literally true, but they all can be wrong. And since none are supported by the facts, perhaps that's a little notion he should ponder.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Stealing From God

David Limbaugh of WND wrote an article on a book called Stealing From God. He props the book up with the lofty claim that it 'skillfully challenges atheists'. But does it? Lets see what his article reveals...
By definition, Christian apologetics deals with defending the faith and, in the process, marshaling evidence in support of Christianity’s truth claims. “Stealing From God” does that, of course, but it does something else, too. It transitions from defense to offense and turns the tables on the atheist community, exposing the brittle foundation on which many of its beliefs (or non-beliefs) are based.
Turns the tables? Brittle foundation? Atheism tends to stem from there being a lack of evidence that there actually is a God. Is this book going to finally do what no other book has done yet and offer actual conclusive evidence of God?
Why would a Christian want to challenge the position of atheists, you ask? Why would one want to attack their arguments? After all, they are just passive unbelievers who mind their own business.
Ego? The call of their church to bring in new members so they can in turn bring more money into the church? Nosy?  Control freak? There's no one single answer to that question really, as those that do evangelize have their own motivations.
In many cases, perhaps most, that is quite true, though Christians have an obligation to spread the good news and offer the reasons for their beliefs to everyone they can, provided they do it with gentleness and respect.
So they'd be cool with Muslims repeatedly trying to get them to convert to Islam?
Please don’t misunderstand; my primary enthusiasm for this book isn’t based on the fact that someone has finally put atheists in their place and forced them to defend their views.
Put us in our place? Defend our views? All we've asked for is evidence! We don't believe in God. What is there to defend? I would ask David for evidence that there is a God if he was here questioning me. But I still don't see what there is to defend. I'm not making a positive claim, I'm just asking David to prove his.
It isn’t about one-upmanship to me or to Turek. This isn’t a game of gotcha, even with aggressive atheists, whom Christians are under a duty to care for as fellow human beings. The book is very respectful.
Wait, it's 'respectful' but you openly admit that there are those that you care for only because you're 'under duty to'... Does David know what respectful means?
I’m excited about this book because I believe that it fills a bit of a hole in the field of Christian apologetics. You see, I have long believed that many skeptics, not just full-blown atheists, shortchange themselves by ending their philosophical inquiry about Christianity when they encounter troubling questions about the Bible or wrestle with disconcerting issues such as the prevalence of evil and suffering in our world.
Um... What!? In my experience, skeptics never end their inquiry. As an atheist I revisit the question of Christianity every single time someone makes a challenge or claims that they have proof. Atheists by and large are open-minded, so we don't tend to just decide there is no God and never give it another thought. We love it when our ideas and thoughts are challenged.  If your beliefs can face these challenges and win, the challenge will only strengthen them. If they fail, you have learned something and can refine your beliefs.

Actually, it's almost always the believers that you will find are set in stone and unwilling to change or reconsider. So who is this book even actually directed toward?
In this largely secular, naturalist, materialist age, many find the Bible’s reported miracles as anti-scientific fairy tales and certain tough passages in the Old Testament as just too uncomfortable to square with Christians’ claim that they worship an all-loving God.
True, the Bible does directly contradict the popular notion  that the Christian god is all-loving and all-knowing.
But I believe that far too many doubters don’t dig much deeper once they discover perceived problems with Christian beliefs and use those difficulties – no offense intended – as an excuse not to believe.
Yes, aspects of Christianity are silly, and even ugly. But it always comes down to the evidence, or lack thereof.  Excuse not to believe? David may say 'no offense intended' but how else is someone supposed to take being implied to be a liar? Additionally, belief isn't even a choice, but I guess David didn't get that memo.
Why wouldn’t they want to believe? Well, some people are comfortable in their lifestyles and believe that Christianity would force them to take inventory and account of themselves. Others may not realize what’s at stake in resolving the question – and don’t let themselves ponder it much further.
It isn't about what we want! If it was about that I would believe in reincarnation... but I don't. Why? For the same reason I'm not a Christian... Lack of evidence. It looks to me that David is reverting into repeating the same old tired and false cliches so many Christian's do. To illustrate how silly this is what if I asked why David wouldn't want to believe in Islam? It must be that he's just comfortable in his lifestyle and is unwilling to take inventory and account of himself. See the absurdity now?
Others, such as college freshmen, shaken from their belief systems by wiseguy atheist professors, are ridiculed into abandoning their beliefs and haven’t the depth of knowledge needed to reinforce those beliefs.
Wow... Resorting to a myth to defend his myth. David must be getting desperate.
I don’t pretend to know all the reasons.
And apparently he doesn't even attempt to figure out the real reasons since he hasn't even mentioned any yet. Show me the evidence!
But I do know, based on my own experience in talking to some atheists and watching others debate Christians, that many atheists haven’t grappled with inherent problems with their own beliefs.
Atheism doesn't actually have any beliefs. In fact, atheism by definition is only the lack of one specific belief... belief in gods. But what is this supposed weakness? Do tell...
Inexplicably – to me, at least – they seem to think that because there are certain troubling questions with Christianity and the present age quasi-deifies naturalism and science, they can go philosophically AWOL and everything will be fine.
Um... No, that's not it at all! Does David still fail to realize why most atheists are atheists? I'm beginning to surmise that there's a lot about this topic that David probably finds inexplicable.
The reality, however, isn’t so simple. The existence of hard sayings in the Bible doesn’t mean that atheism makes sense.
Correct, ugly Bible passages is not a logical path toward atheism. But here's the thing... That has almost nothing to do with why most atheists are atheists. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, most disbelieve because there has yet to be a good and logical reason to believe.
If many of these atheists would apply their considerable mental agility to examining the reasonableness of atheism, they might find that it is much more difficult not to believe than it is to believe in a theistic God.
And how's that? As an atheist I ask for evidence. There is no evidence for the existence of the Christian god or any other. If there's no evidence for God, there's no good reason to believe in God. If there's no good reason to believe, atheism is much easier and much more logical. 
“Stealing From God” saves us much trouble in this inquiry because it lays out, with relentless logic, just how illogical non-belief in God is and, fascinatingly, how atheists actually steal ideas from Christianity to support their own worldview, never drilling deep enough into their own collection of beliefs to realize the egregious contradictions that coexist within them.
Seriously? Because this article has been a very poor representation if it is supposed to speak for this book. And what does atheism supposedly steal from Christianity? And more importantly, does it even matter? So what if atheism did borrow something from Christianity? That wouldn't make Christianity any more true. Christianity stole from the Romans, Christianity stole customs and holidays from the Pagans, Christianity based Bible stories and characters on those from earlier legends and religions... Is the author about to argue that Christianity's plagiarism actually proves the pagan religions of old, in turn disproving Christianity?
“Stealing From God” forces atheists – and other skeptics – out of their comfort zone and into the uncomfortable venue of examining their own conflicting ideas and their flawed presuppositions.
Flawed presuppositions? Such as? If you ask me this all sounds far too much like projection. This also shows the extreme lack of research since this book is challenging atheists to examine our own 'beliefs'... something we already do anyway. In fact, examining our own beliefs is why many atheists become atheists. Most were believers once and dared to examine what we believed. So the very thing that the author is challenging atheists to do can easily lead one away from belief.
Perhaps when they realize the extent to which their beliefs and so-called non-beliefs are resting on little more than shifting sands, they will take a second look at Christianity, whose difficulties will no longer seem nearly so daunting and for which there are satisfactory, glorious, life-giving and life-changing answers.
Sorry, but to me Christianity is the one that seems build on shifting sand. And again the presumption that atheists don't give religion a second thought. There are atheists that wish they could believe. There are those that want to believe.  But they just can't because there's no evidence to support belief. And yes, a Christian can claim that their faith is life-changing. But here's the thing... So will a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.
I hope, in a subsequent column, to share some compelling examples of Frank Turek’s dismantling of atheism. In the meantime, I strongly urge you to buy and read this incredible book.
For David's sake I sure hope that it's far, far better than what this article has offered, because the arguments here were really quite poor. But as I said above, I'm always open to being wrong and learning something. So bring it Mr. Turek, take your best shot!

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Ting

Full disclosure, this entry isn't about religion, politics, or even social issues. It's actually a promotion/review of what is, in my opinion, a great mobile phone company. So if you aren't interested in hearing my thoughts, or aren't interested in potentially saving money, feel free to stop reading now. But if you do like what you read, please consider signing up through my referral link so we can both save.

Sign up for Ting and Get a $25 credit.

Let's start with some back-story. I had been a mostly satisfied Verizon Wireless customer for about seven years. Call quality was always good, and the service was reliable. But there were two parts about Verizon I was far from a fan of. The first was the inconsistent customer service, especially when it came to reducing by bill. But the biggest problem was the price!

For two basic phones, 700min, unlimited messaging, and no data our bill was $74/mo. $65 of that was the plan, and the remainder was came from taxes and Verizon surcharges. For the last year I've been shopping for a Verizon replacement. Sadly I kept coming up empty. Every possible replacement was either too good to be true, and the majority of carriers simply couldn't beat what I was paying. $74 was too much, but was still the cheapest available... Would I ever find a better deal? Well, I am happy to say that I finally received my final Verizon bill for $0.00!

So who did I switch to? The answer is, probably someone you've never heard of... Ting. I'm sure you're wondering who Ting is, or if they are reputable. Ting is a mobile phone company that was founded in 2012 by the internet services company Tucows.

But can their service be any good? Yes, it can. Ting is an MVNO, so they essentially buy access to a larger carrier's network of towers. In Ting's case, that is access to the Sprint wireless network. Where I live and travel, that means coverage that is as good or better than what I had with Verizon. Go outside of Sprint's network and there's still no reason to fret since roaming jumps over tho the nation's largest wireless network (Verizon) for no additional cost.

The only downside to roaming on Verizon is that you will not be able to use data even though calls and messaging will still be active. So if you are thinking of switching to ting one of the first thing you should do is to check the Sprint coverage and reliability in your area.

Another awesome aspect of Ting is that there are no contracts, and no plans. Ting actually does something I've been wishing Verizon would do... They only change for what you use! There is a $6 charge per phone on the account. You then get charged for the amount or minutes, messages, and data you used that month. Each usage type is it's own line item. And each of those is broken down to Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Extra Large+ 'buckets'. For example, if you don't talk on the phone you will pay $0 for minutes. Talk 1-100 min and the fee is $3. 101-500 is $9. 501-1,000 is $18. 1,001-2,100 is $35. And anything other that is $35 + 1.9¢ per additional min.

Data and messaging use the same 'bucket' billing as well. And Ting has an interactive rates page where you can select buckets and find out what your bill would be with Ting. Just use the usage on your bill as your guide to see if you will save money.

My result is a new bill of $29 (before taxes)! That's much better than $65. And unlike Verizon, Ting only charges extra for the taxes they are required to charge. So that translates to a final bill of $32 instead of $74. If you ask me, paying half for the same, or in this case actually more, is one hell of a deal! But be forewarned Ting won't be cheaper for everyone. Just do your homework first to make sure. My wife and I mainly text on our phones and are fairly light on calls and data (predominately use wi-fi if we need internet on our phones) . So make sure you compare your bill's stated usage to Tings rate calculator. Chances are that if you talk a lot or use a metric tonne of data, Ting may not save you money and are already on a budget plan. It's all about what you use. I've even read reviews of members that saved money on data heavy plans. So just compare apples to apples and see if you will save with Ting.

The only real bump in the road for Ting is phones. Unlike the major companies Ting does not subsidize the price of phones by locking you in for two years and changing you extra for the plan to boot. So phones are full price in Ting's store. But you do have options. Because Ting is on the Sprint network, you can bring many Sprint phones to Ting. Just check the phone on Ting's 'bring you own device' page to see if it is eligible. I've only ever used T-Mobile and Verizon, so that wasn't an option, so I jumped on Glyde and purchased two pre-owned Sprint network phones for just over $60. And since I signed up for Ting through a link on a blog like this I got a $25 credit off my first bill, bringing that $29 down to $4! So my savings in the first month meant that I still saved a few bucks in my first month even with having to buy phones.

When I made the final switch I went to activate the phones before I ported our numbers from Verizon to Ting. Ting's website has great instructions to walk you through the process, but when I was setting up my billing details I unexpectedly got to try another perk of Ting's... Their great customer service. As I said I was setting up by billing details, but the website was not accepting the credit card I wanted to use for auto billing. So I called Ting's customer service number (in prime time) and after the phone rang no more than two or three times a live person answered.

The gentleman I spoke to was very personable and eager to help with my issue. He asked if I was using a proxy server, and stated that their system was flagging the activation as possible international fraud. It's at that point when we both noticed the email on my account was my email address (I'm a bit of an Anglophile). He suggested changing it to one on my domestic emails so that the activation wouldn't ping international servers. I did just that, and the remainder of the activation without a hitch.

So now that I've had an opportunity to test drive Ting, what are my thoughts? For me the call quality and reliability has been great. One difference is that unlike Verizon, picture messages count as data rather than just another message. But considering that we almost never used picture messaging, that isn't really a negative factor for me.

Then there is the online functionality. When you log in you will find a simple graph that shows your current usage and what you bill is so far. On your online Ting profile you can also turn different functions on or off. Don't want to get charged for data. You can turn it off. You can also turn off the aforementioned picture messaging as well as other functions.

You can also set up alerts and limits. Suppose you have a teenage child that talks non-stop, or uses data like it's going out of style. You can actually set it up so that you get an alert from Ting when the minutes, messages or data exceed a limit of your choosing. Alternatively, you can set your account to automatically turn off a function when your selected limit is reached. So Ting not only charges great rates, but offers controls to allow you to guard your account from rolling over to the next bucket if you need to stay within a specific price limit.

So all in all, I've found Ting to be great for my wife and I. We are admittedly light users, but we aren't the only type of users that can see some real savings with Ting. So I invite you to take a look and see if you can save money too. And if you do decide to switch, please consider signing up through the following link. Doing so will net you a $25 bill or phone credit, and I'll get a credit too.

And by all means, if anyone is on the fence on switching, I'd be more than happy to answer your questions.

Sign up for Ting and Get a $25 credit.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Does Humanity Deserve Love?

It often strikes me as curious, how negatively many believers actually view people and the world once you life the false veil of 'God's love'...
Q: I know you believe God loves us, but why should He? After all, the human race certainly isn't very lovable -- not if you read the headlines or look at the way most people live. If I were God, I think I'd just give up on us. — J.V.
Well JV is certainly quite the optimist... Judging the whole of humanity by the selective headlines aired by the sensationalist media is hardly conducive to reaching an accurate conclusion. The fact that JV thinks humanity deserves to be 'given up on' tells me that he certainly isn't looking at the whole picture.
A: If God looked at us the same way we look at other people, then you'd be right: there's no logical reason why God should love us.
Well isn't that gloomy... Some people do some bad things so no one deserves love? I think that's quite absurd! While it is true that there are those that kill, steal, rape, and take advantage of others, that is far from the total picture. There are those who tirelessly work to bring those people to justice. There are people who consider it their calling to help and feed those in need. There are scientists working on cancer, HIV, pioneering stem cell research and 3D printing use in order to save lives. There are everyday people who just try to brighten the day of another. There are teachers that try to help pupils see and realize their true worth. The notion that the headlines deem that humanity as a lost cause is both shortsighted and absurd. It also highlights the true negativity that is often symbiotically inherent in religion.
But God isn't like we are! He sees all the sin and rebellion in our lives, and yet He still loves us.
* As long as you worship him.
That doesn't mean He isn't concerned about the sins we commit, because He is. But one reason He hates sin is because He knows the damage it causes in our lives. Some of the most sobering words in all the Bible are: "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
Then it strikes me as a particularly unintelligent move for him to have created sin then...
Think of it: if God didn't love us, He wouldn't want us to spend eternity with Him in heaven.
That's actually the wrong question. The real question is that if he wants us to spend eternity with him in heaven, and if he loves us, why doesn't everyone go to heaven?
But He does, and that's why He sent Jesus Christ into the world. By His death on the cross Christ became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins, and by His resurrection from the dead He opened heaven's door to all who come to Him in repentance and faith.
But the death of Jesus and the requirement that you accept a human sacrifice and worship the sacrificial offering  in order to reach heaven are arbitrary and unnecessary. If God loves us and wants us to be in heaven, there is no need to install a pointless test (which itself is pointless if you have an all-knowing deity).

That is, if the motivation is love... But the true motivation of this supposed god is made more clear when you see that heaven is described as eternal worship. Suddenly the test makes sense. The Christian god's motivation for granting entrance to heaven is not love, but conceit. It is not a reward out of love, but merely a job interview for the blindly obedient.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, February 13, 2015

20 Years From Now

So I received another chain email that is big on claims, but not on facts or consistency...
20 years from now, I will be in Heaven --bye !!This was written by a woman born in Egypt as a Muslim.. Make sure you read the paragraph (in red) towards the end.
You can always tell a good chain email by the way they make their big point clear by putting it in bright bold letters...
Joys of Muslim Women
By Nonie Darwish

In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as 1 year old and have sexual intimacy with this child. Consummating the marriage by 9.
Let me guess... This email is going to define all Muslims by the most extreme, right? I very much agree that the premise presented is pretty sick, but is Christianity much better? The Bible doesn't even really touch on the subject, and historically many Christian countries of the past practiced the custom of child marriages. But then there's also Mary, who was already married and in her very early teens when she supposedly birthed Jesus.
The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman (who becomes his slave) and for the purchase of the private parts of the woman, to use her as a toy.
Again, the Bible allows the selling your own daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7-11), let alone marriage (well, it does include selling daughters as brides too...). And part of 1 Corinthians 7:4 states "The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband." The Bible even commands wives to 'submit to their husbands is several passages.
Even though a woman is abused she can not obtain a divorce.
It's the same in the Bible, but the man can get a divorce if he finds his wife 'displeasing'...
To prove rape, the woman must have (4) male witnesses.

Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the honor of the family. 
If you think that's bad, the Bible commands rape victims to marry their rapist:
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
-Deuteronomy 22:28-28
And so does Christianity...
The Bible also isn't kind to rape victims that don't/can't cry for help, or aren't heard:
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
-Deuteronomy 22:23-24
The husband is permitted to have (4 wives) and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion.
How is this any different than Christianity? The Bible is far different on marriage than many Christians think. The Bible allows multiple wives, concubines, and other combinations that many would frown on today.
The Shariah Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.

In the Western World ( Canada , Australia , United States and Britain ) Muslim men are starting to demand Shariah Law so the wife can not obtain a divorce and he can have full and complete control of her. It is amazing and alarming how many of our sisters and daughters attending American, Canadian, Universities and British Universities are now marrying Muslim men and submitting themselves and their children unsuspectingly to the Shariah law.
Again, the Bible also teaches that wives should submit. And a Biblical Cristian theocracy would also not allow women a divorce. That's the great thing about the USA having a separation of church and state. It won't allow these religious 'laws' to trump the law.
By passing this on, enlightened Canadian, Australians, American and British women may avoid becoming a slave under Shariah Law.
Where's the email warning women from being a victim of one of the ultra conservative Christian cults?
Westerners generally assume all religions encourage a respect for the dignity of each individual.. Islamic law (Sharia) teaches that non-Muslims should be subjugated or killed in this world.
In a way, it's a good thing that so many Christians don't actually follow the Bible. Let me show you why:
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you ... Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.
-Deuteronomy 13:6-10
Gee, that sounds like the Bible commanding exactly the same thing this email is crying about Islam doing. Awkward...
Peace and prosperity for one's children is not as important as assuring that Islamic law rules everywhere in the Middle East and eventually in the world.
*cough* Crusades, Inquisition, Witch Trials, Nazi Germany *cough*
(In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in Canada, Australia , the U.S. And Britain To elect the heads of Government by themselves! Rest assured they will do so...
Ooh, pretty! But seriously, don't make me laugh.

Islam in the USA makes up 0.6% of the population. From 2001 to 2011 the Muslim population only went from 1.5 million to 2.6 million. Meanwhile, the Church of Mormon torpedoed that 1.1 million gain with their own 1.9 million member increase in the same time frame. As any sane person can see, 20 years is far too short a time period to see Muslims become the majority.

Islam in Canada is 2.8%
Islam in Australia is 1.9%
Islam in the UK is 4.6%
(all taken from 2010 pew research study)
You can look at how they have taken over several towns in the USA .. Dearborn Mich. Is one and there are others....) ( Britain has several cities now totally controlled by Muslims)
Islam in Michigan (2000) is 1.2% of the population. And Dearborn is 29.7% Muslim. That's far greater than average, but I still wouldn't call that 'taken over'.
I think everyone in Canada , Australia , the U.S. And Great Britain Should be required to read this, but with the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on!

Maybe that's because the ACLU isn't in the business of sending around fear-mongering emails that are very short on facts...
It is too bad that so many are disillusioned with life and Christianity to accept Muslims as peaceful.. Some may be but they have an army that is willing to shed blood in the name of Islam..
Just like Christianity of old. Islam is still in those young awkward years in the same way the Christian church put those that dared defy them to the sword. And sadly, that element still exists, albeit much smaller. So why I must denounce those that would kill over something as silly as religion, Christianity is far from free to sit by and act all innocent.
While Canada, Australia, the U.S.A. and Britain are getting rid of Christianity from all public sites and erasing God from the lives of children the Muslims are planning a great jihad on North America, Australia and Britain .
In the USA we have the separation of church and state. While that means no Jesus in public schools, it also means no Allah.
This is your chance to make a difference...! Pass it on to your email list or at least those you think will listen.

Some of those I'm sending it to WILL NOT! Put your head back under the covers AND DO NOTHING!
Pass it on? Sure! But only after adding my corrections...

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Atheist to a Christian

Books World ran a story about a new book about an atheist who became a Christian. These books are a dime a dozen, and are often either forgettable, somewhat dishonest or are complete fabrications. But which way does it look like this book will go?
Author Levi Matthew hopes to reach even one atheist who might be curious about Christianity with his new book, "An Atheist to a Christian: One Man's Journey to God"
Um... Most atheists are interested in Christianity, or were Christians. So why does this seem worded as if curious atheists are a rarity?
"I lived the Atheist experience," Matthew says. "Since I was an atheist, I think this book will cause a spark in our society."
I highly doubt it, seeing how many books of this type there are. Likewise, There are also tons of Christian to atheist books. So is Levi afraid of those books causing 'counter-sparks'?
Matthew grew up in an unhappy home, all the while just wanting to be loved like other children. A friend introduced him to God at age 7, but he didn't know much about God and the Bible and he spent his teen years struggling to fit in and believe in God.
I'm sorry to hear Levi didn't have a happy childhood, but from what this preview is saying it sounds like he was an atheist by default (since all are born atheist) and because he never learned religion in his youth. In my opinion this isn't a very impressive position to be starting his conversion story from.
"I can relate to what atheists are thinking," Matthew says. "Atheists are scared that if God does exist, that they will be in Hell."
Apparently he can't relate to what we are thinking, as evidenced by that quote. I don't know one atheist that is worried about going to Hell. In order to worry about Hell, you must believe that it is a real possibility. I, and other atheists, don't. If I'm wrong and there is a God, I don't fear Hell. I'll accept whatever fate befalls me. Actually, believe it or not, the 'what if?' scenario of ending up in Heaven would be more hypothetically frightening if it exists as advertised.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Pastor's Pen: Evidence apparently has a feature called Pastor's Pen. And this time the topic of conversation is atheists and evidence. A pastor talking about evidence seems odd to me, but let's see what pastor Rick Bell has to say...
If you happen to be an atheist and read this, I am not trying to be snarky or proud. And I value you as a person, and really do wish you the best.
And I generally wish believers (and everyone really) the best as well...
But I’m amazed at how you can be so sure that God doesn’t exist.
That's where Bell is a bit confused. We aren't so much convinced that no god's exist so much as we are aware that there is no proof that he does, or good reason to believe that he does. In short, we're
waiting for evidence.
In my interactions with atheists, I have found that their usual battle cry is, “Show me the evidence!”  They claim they cannot believe in God because He doesn’t exist, and if He does, prove it. What usually happens next is a volleyball match of philosophical or scientific arguments that the Christian makes and the atheist refutes.
What's wrong with wanting evidence? Pastor Bell would probably require evidence to believe that Zeus is real, so why is it so abnormal to him that we require evidence for his god?
Many arguments are weak, but no matter what the Christian says, the atheist remains unconvinced, and often takes a position of the “high intellectual” who is dealing with the fool. The Scripture, however, says it’s the other way around: “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
Who's arguments is he claiming are the weak ones? Because in my experience, it's the arguments from believers that are laughably weak. And so what if the Bible calls me a fool? The Qur'an would suggest that pastor Bell is the fool. So is he moved by that book's claim? If not, why should I be moved by his?
I believe that atheism is an issue with the heart. It’s one or both of two things. The first is that one’s heart may be hardened, wanting nothing to do with God or religion. No matter what is said, the door is shut.  
This old chestnut is so wrong it's not even funny... In general, most atheists are very open-minded. We study religions, we were religious, we listen to opposing arguments. If we are wrong we want to know and learn from it. I was a Christian that became an atheist while studying my (former) religion. My non-belief wasn't the product of a hard heart. It was a byproduct of learning so much more than I bargained for.
The second is that the heart leans too much to that which is apparent, logical, and understandable. All the dots have to be connected. There’s little room for mystery.  Everything has to be explained. There’s little room for wonder.
That's ridiculous!  As an atheist I am still full of wonder. The beauty and wonder of nature and the cosmos captivates me. And what's wrong with seeking logical evidenced explanations? If we are supposed to surrender to fantasy and mystery, what about other religions? Is Bell supporting believers of Hinduism now as well?
In life, there must be allowance for what can’t be seen or understood, as well as for logic and reason. To be overbalanced in either direction is to be in trouble.
Which is why we tend to say that we don't believe there is a God, and not that there absolutely can't be a God. Show us the evidence and we'll have what we want and change our mind. Yet so many believers will tell you that they would never even consider being wrong. So which side is the one taking it too far again?
G.K. Chesterton noted in his book, Orthodoxy, that those who ended up in asylums were usually the rationalists and not the poets. The rationalists went mad because they expected chess-board logic in everything, and when life didn’t fit within their logic, the crash came.
I'm not sure I believe those claims what with all those in mental heath facilities that claim to talk to God or that they were doing his will. But what about the fact that the vast majority of US inmates are
Christians? What does that tell us about Christianity?
That’s not everyone’s story, but without faith in God, you are limited to a world system that cannot fulfill your deepest needs.
And those needs are? I'd say that the deepest needs are for happiness and love. Both of which I've obtained as an atheist.
That said, there’s plenty of evidence out there.
Such as?
Creation shouts it.
There's no proof that this 'creation' actually is a creation. And even if it was, it doesn't get us any closer to which god, or if it even was a god that created it. But the simple fact is that if you don't put the cart before the horse,  and don't cherry pick and twist data this cosmos absolutely doesn't suggest a creator!
Design, ethics, the hunger for significance.
How exactly? There are good aspects of this supposed 'design' but  there are also far too many things about it that are of a terrible 'design'. As for the others, how exactly do they attest to there being a God? Simply throwing out ideas with no proof or explanation isn't exactly impressive or persuasive.
The ability to think and reason.
Thanks to the wonderful brain that evolution has given us...
The empty tomb of Jesus Christ.
A claimed empty tomb, actually. Remember the empty tomb only exists in the claims of Christianity. There is no proof that Jesus ever existed. There is no proof he was actually crucified. There is no proof he was put in a tomb, rose from the dead, and that the tomb then layed empty.

And even if there was an empty tomb, that wouldn't be proof that he rose from the dead, or that he was the son of God. It would only be proof that the tomb was empty. There are far less magical ways tombs can end up empty, mind you. I wonder if pastor Bell would be impressed with the proof of the empty tomb of Sid the magic Honey Badger? He did the unthinkable and gave a shit for our sins, was sacrificed, and then rose from the dead. The tomb was empty! Sid be praised!
Atheists have heard plenty of shoddy arguments and rightfully rejected them, but there’s no lack of scholarly, philosophical and scientific works available that provide reasonable warrants to believe in God.
Again, such as?
It’s ultimately not the head that rejects those, but the heart.
Or maybe it's because we've never actually heard these claimed 'reasonable' arguments for belief in God... Could it be that Bell is only impressed by some arguments due to his bias?
The real evidence, however, is in the very people they argue with. I recently said to an atheist, “If there is no God, explain me. As I grew up, I didn’t care about God. I wasn’t a bad guy, but I had no selfless love. It was all about drugs, beer, and women!  How do you explain such a radical conversion, to the point that I would become a missionary to China?
How? Easily. Pastor Bell used belief as the thing to kick start this transformation. But it was only what initiated it, not what actually caused the transformation in full. That 'spark' can be caused by any number of things... love, a close call, a personal inspiration, a dream...

And talk about cliche... He goes with the tired drugs and party picture for non-believers. A picture that I as a non-believer couldn't be further from.

But since pastor Bell wants to ask 'how can you explain me?' How can he explain me? When I was a Christian I was incredibly close-minded. By time I reached middle-school I was quite prejudiced. My opinion of anyone who wasn't white wasn't great. Sometimes when the topic was 'blacks' it could border on racist. I had absolutely no compassion for illegal immigrants either. I talked about
'Mexicans' like I was Fox News.

I was also hateful and bigoted against homosexuals. In the days of my belief there was 'something wrong with those people'. But today I see everyone as the cousins that they are. We're all human, and no one group is somehow superior or better than the other. After I left belief I became a better person, an open-minded person, I discovered the wonder of the natural world, and I even found love. So how does he explain me?

Or how does he explain a believer in a competing religion that would share the exact same story that pastor Bell did? If a Hindu talks about their transformation, would that convince Bell of the truth and power of Krishna?
How do you explain all the answered prayers?
How so? What prayers? More often than not, it's probability. Other times it's cognitive bias. Or there's the dishonest trick that prayers are answered in 'yes', 'no', and 'wait'. A useless tool that defines all prayers into being 'answered'... for every single religion. After-all, those are the only three possible outcomes. I could use that answer to claim prayers to my orange juice were answered. So by all means, please elaborate, or show some actual proof that a prayer actually was answered. Otherwise, I'm simply answering a hypothetical...
And it’s not just me. The testimonies are legion across time and geography.
And what about the legions of Hindus that could also give testimony? A religion that still has many adherents and is  much older than Christianity is. Does that somehow make Hinduism more real than Christianity?
Yes, there are plenty of negative examples as well, but the existence of bad apples doesn’t negate the existence of the good.
Well, at least he got that correct...
The very evidence the atheist looks for is in the entire community of faith that they debate with.
He does realize that we don't just debate Christians, right? So the proof is that Christian's believe without proof... that they 'know' that their God is real. But also that a member of another religion believes in their own god, and 'knows' their god is real and the Christian one isn't. And in the believer in another religion that 'knows' those other two religions are wrong, and so on... I'm sure you get the point.

So what pastor Bell started with was a contention about atheists claiming the need to see evidence. A challenge he met by claiming there was, but never actually provided any of... He then went on to make terrible arguments that don't help his case one iota. Sorry, but you're going to have to color me unimpressed.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Darwin Day = Unconstitutional?

February 12th is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Across the globe many people do celebrate or at least recognize Darwin Day. But for some strange reason Charisma News writer Jennifer Leclair takes issue with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell officially declaring February 12th as Charles Darwin Day. Um... Why?
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell just declared Feb. 12 "Charles Darwin Day" in his state—just because a member of the Delaware Atheist Meetup group asked him to.  

Nevertheless, no one is persecuting Markell for his godless move.
Atheists are citizens too. They are allowed to make requests and voice opinions. It's actually quite a pleasant surprise to see atheists not just brushed aside by a politician without a thought. 

But what about declaring Feb. 12th as Darwin Day is godless? Darwin Day is about Darwin and science, not atheism.
Atheists love Darwin and his theory of evolution, which claims humans evolved from lower life forms. The problem with that theory, of course, is that it defies Scripture.
Actually, the problem is that scripture defies the evidence and reason itself. Yet somehow, people still believe and claim that evolution is the fairytale.
Markell proclaimed that "Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the development of life on earth."
Can't argue with that. As the old saying goes, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
I respectfully beg to differ.
Then no two ways around it, Jennifer is just plain wrong.
Darwin's theory of evolution has emerged as a deceptive tool in the hands of determined atheists who spend more time trying to prove God doesn't exist than reading His Word with an open heart.
Try again... Atheists tend to like evolution because we often also like science. And evolution is hard, heavily evidenced and proven science.

Also, by my reckoning, far more atheists read the Bible with an open mind than believers do. Doing just that is what made many of us atheists. Furthermore, if we're wrong, we want to know. So we are very open indeed.
Again, no one is persecuting Markell for his godless move. But let former Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pray in the name of Jesus in a public setting and all hell breaks loose.
Why was there a different response? Probably because both situations are wholly dissimilar! Markell declaring Darwin Day, as I said before, is not godless. It's an honoring of a scientist and science. Evolution is not a religion. Evolution is not part or atheism. Atheists greatly tend to accept evolution due to it being a scientific fact, but you can be an atheist and reject evolution, just as millions of Christians accept that evolution did happen. So evolution describing a Darwin Day declaration as 'godless' quite simply makes very little sense.

As for Jindal. If he led a public prayer in the name of Jesus and earned himself criticism, that would be because it was warranted. Public officials are not supposed to promote any one religion (it doesn't matter which religion) in that manner. Doing so risks a violation of the US Constitution's Establishment Clause. So one was a promotion of a religion, and one wasn't. That's all the difference in the world. Maybe Jennifer is too paranoid to realize it, but that's the truth.

I may not live in Delaware, but I intend to recognize Darwin Day this year just like I always do, and I hope you will too.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Devil of a Detail

Will the devil leave Christians alone? Well Billy Graham answers this question with a throw-away answer that he doesn't realize contradicts the very claimed nature of his god. But it's not about Billy this time. Rather, it's about how strange the question asked was...
QUESTION: I admit I give in to temptations very easily, and it would be great if God would just make them go away. Will the devil stop bothering me if I become a Christian? — J.E.
Wait, wait, wait... They believe that the devil is bothering them, yet wonder if becoming a Christian will help? It sounds to me like JE already is a Christian! Many religions have a concept of an evil force or being, but they/it often goes by a different name. I've only really heard 'devil' used as a proper name by a few groups. Christians and Satanists (sometimes Muslims too, but more in a figurative way).

So if JE already believes in the devil we must ask, are they a Satanist? This isn't likely since a Satanist worships Satan and probably wouldn't think he's actively messing with them. That leaves us with the presumption that JE already is a Christian. Maybe a lax one that doesn't give it much thought, but Christian none-the-less. With that assumed, it clear that the question asked wasn't a sensical one and that belief would not aid them any.

-Brain Hulk

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