Friday, December 11, 2009

A Spiritual Journey - Part One

In my previous post I had a really good discussion with Anette Acker, a Christian blogger that responded to my challenge. During the course of our conversation said asked me an excellent question: "If you're on a spiritual journey, why not ask God to lead you to his truth and see where that takes you? As you said, there can only be one truth, and any deity worth his salt should care about you finding it, right?"


Enthused about Anette's question, I composed a fairly lengthy response and posted it. Or so I thought. It disappeared into cyberspace. Within my response I described what have been my most spiritual experiences, including asking God the precise question stated above by Anette, and what I felt God's response was. Perhaps losing my post was a good thing, as I had used some real names, including those of my daughters. So, I decided I would make it the subject of this, my next topic, and rewrite my response to Anette in a more generic manner.

Since my daughters are included here, let me give you a little background. I have identical twin daughters from my first marriage, 17 years old, that are the absolute joy of my life. I'll call them Sharon and Susan (as a tribute to the identical twins in the movie "A Parent Trap" from 1961 and what we considered naming them).

Early in the pregnancy, Sharon was diagnosed with "velamentous cord insertion" which means her umbilical cord did not enter directly into the placenta. Instead, it attached to the walls of the amniotic sack and then veins traveled along the amniotic membrane until they reached the placenta. The symptoms of VCI vary widely, but in Sharon's case she simply received less of a blood supply that Susan. Because the veins are not protected and can be compressed by the stresses of birth, VCI babies are almost always delivered by caesarian section. Their mother went into labor at only 28 weeks, but this was brought under control by drugs for a month or so and they were born "only" 7 weeks early. Sharon was 16 inches long and weighed 3.5 pounds, 2 inches shorter than Susan at 18 inches long and weighing 5 pounds even. Both had typical symptoms of being born prematurely, such as apnea, but were sent home after only a month stay in the hospital. Except for Sharon being diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta a couple years ago (corrected by stent surgery) both are vibrant and healthy.

Because Sharon suffered somewhat while in the womb, her neonatologist told us that she would have a stronger personality, and that has proven to be true. Sharon is a very complex individual, has very strong opinions, and does not put up with any crap. She is intolerant sometimes, especially when it comes to ethical matters and she is perhaps the most honest person I have ever known. Susan, on the other hand is sweet, eager to please, and being 3 inches taller and stunningly beautiful, has more friends, including 4 boyfriends so far to Sharon's none. Yet I worry more about Susan, as she may lack the fortitude that Sharon has to stay out of trouble.

I recall strongly an event shortly after they were born when I was holding Sharon and we stared at each other, right in the eyes. Babies have not yet learned that it is impolite to stare, so it can be fun to see how long they will lock your gaze. In this case after a minute or so of staring I had this sudden and overwhelming feeling I was staring directly into the eyes of God. It was a spiritual experience unlike anything I have had before or since. I love them both equally and more than I ever thought I could love anyone, but I have this unique soft spot in my heart for Sharon that puts a lump in my throat and makes my heart well up with a combination of love, joy, sadness, pride, and awe when I even think about her, as I am experiencing now as I write this. To this day I cannot look her in the eyes for more than a second or two without these spiritual feelings returning.

Perhaps, unaware to me at the time, this was the beginning of my spiritual journey away from Christianity.

- To be continued -

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yet Another Question For Christians

In the Bible, 2 Samuel Chapter 11 and 12, there is the story about David that I talked about it a few posts back. What follows is a "Yes" or "No" question I submitted to Ray Comfort's blog on several occasions. To date, not a single Christian has answered it with a "Yes" or "No":

For a quick review, I’ll paraphrase, but I am being careful to give an accurate description:

God loves David, but David does something that is bad in God’s eyes. He has an affair with Bathsheba, has Bathsheba’s husband killed in battle, and David and Bathsheba have an illegitimate baby son. God is displeased about this and makes the baby sick to punish David for what David has done. David pleads with God to save his baby, but after a week God allows the Baby to die.

Now, suppose just theoretically that you are a perfect, loving, omniscient, and omnipotent God and nothing exists at all except for You. You are starting from scratch and can do anything at all. You know, of course, exactly how everything will turn out to the finest detail before you even commit to creating anything because you are omniscient.

Okay, here’s the question: Would You create a world where someday You would make your beloved David’s baby son sick, let it suffer for a week, then let it die?

YES or NO?

Monday, July 20, 2009

God is Guilty of Murder, Simplified

According to Christianity, God is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly loving. Based on the Bible, the following has occurred:

1. Nothing existed (well, except God of course)
2. God created everything, including us.
3. A bunch of stuff happens.
4. God kills King David’s baby boy to punish David (see 2 Samuel chapter 11-13). By the way, dozens of stories of God killing babies could be used here. This is merely my favorite.

I submit that it makes no difference whatsoever what happened during Step 3. If a perfect creator creates the universe out of nothing, the creator is directly responsible for whatever happens, and God is a murderer, plain and simple.

It’s so simple, yet Christians will dance, twist, distort, and redefine the English language to handle this obvious truth. They are brainwashed, plain and simple.

Here’s some analogies to help you:

1. A computer programmer creates and distributes a computer virus that under certain totally random conditions will decide to trash the host PC's hard drive. Who is responsible for this destruction? A Christian’s answer: The virus. My answer: The programmer!

2. A Pit Bull owner lets his dog run loose at a local park and “Killer” mauls a baby. Who is at fault? A Christian’s answer: The Pit Bull. My answer: The dog owner!

3. A father tells Tommy, his 4 year old son, to not eat the cookies that are placed on the table while he runs to the store. The father explains to Tommy that if he does, his hand will be chopped off. While at the store, Tommy’s mother tells Tommy it’s okay to have a cookie, which Tommy does. The father comes home, asks Tommy what happened to the cookies, and Tommy tells his dad that he ate them, as Mom said it was okay. The father holds his son’s arm to the table, raises a knife, and chops off his sons hand as he yells at his son “It was your choice!” Who is at fault? A Christians answer: Tommy. My answer: The father.

What would your answer be?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ray Comfort

I have for a while now been participating a little bit on evangelist Ray Comfort’s “Atheist Central” blog (click on his name above to go there). Ray is an ultra-conservative evangelist, noted for his association with Kirk Cameron, fear-based street evangelism, and his infamous video about bananas being the “atheists worst nightmare”. Ray makes a daily post, usually about evolution or the origin of life, and then allows anyone to post comments. Ray will rarely respond to comments, rather he will let the commenters duke it out amongst themselves. Ray makes it clear that comments become material for his books, and he has published many. There are some real whackjobs on his blog, but generally the “conversations” are quite civil and interesting, at least for a while The site has this policy about responses:

1. Any comments we deem abusive or outside the boundaries of Christian civility will not be published.
2. Any comments that don't properly, and respectfully, capitalize the name "Jesus" and/or "God," or use these in a blasphemous manner, will not be published.
3. Any comments that include website links will not be published.

I post under the name “Dave B” (which contains a link to here), but all of a sudden, none of my responses have been published. Here is my last comment to be ignored. I plan on retrying, perhaps tweaking it, until it gets posted in some form.


Ray, I have completely changed my mind about you. My first exposure to you was the infamous banana video, then I watched a recorded debate with you and Kirk against some atheists that I didn’t recognize at the time. My opinion of the outcome is not surprising given that I am an ex-Christian. I thought you lost. But I was impressed with your composure and conviction and felt your opponents were pretty arrogant. When I first came to your blog here I was even more impressed. I was thinking, “Wow, here’s an evangelical Christian that invites atheists to come and debate. That’s pretty cool.” The fact that you allowed anything, within very reasonable constraints, to be posted by anyone was great.

I’m not one for written debate as I always have trouble expressing what I am trying to convey, but I participated here anyway and it was fun. I was so impressed with some of the explanations that some very knowledgeable participants were taking a lot of time to prepare and post. Steven J, in particular, presents his arguments calmly, logically, and convincingly.

You’d ask some ignorant question to the effect “How stupid is it that atheists believe that everything came from nothing?” Then a furry of activity would ensue where it was explained in painstaking detail that atheists don’t actually believe that. I thought, “Well, that ought to teach him”. Then you’d ask something else like “How could both sexes evolve side by side?”, then a furry of activity would ensue where it was explained in painstaking detail exactly how that could have happened. I thought again, “Well, that ought to teach him”.

After a short while, though, things started to get repetitive. A few weeks later you would do it all over again, asking the same questions exactly as if you had never read any of the responses. At one point in fact, after being away for a little while I came back to your site and literally thought my browser cache was showing me old material.

I did some research and found other folks on other sites that had been here to Atheist Central and had given up. They explained The Ray Formula. Get the unwary atheists so worked up and frustrated that they would over-react and say something personal, aggressive, or emotional. Then you’d grab hold of those comments and use them in your books and other material as a shining example of how “unreasonable” atheists are. Then repeat the process again and again and again…

I believe that evangelists fall into two camps. First camp are those that are sincere and really think it is their mission in life to save souls from Hell. The other camp is nothing but a big money generating scam, a big act to line pockets with cash from the ignorant, people like Benny Hinn, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard.

After witnessing the blatant deception, quote-mining, side-stepping, and ignoring of every single valid counterpoint that Steven J and others make, especially this absurd refusal to even give your opinion about the age of the earth, I am convinced you are living a lie.

I am but a mere engineer, making a good living, but I will never achieve the income levels or notoriety that you have achieved. But at what price Ray? Every person in my life that knows me personally respects me for who I am. You, on the other hand, are not only the laughing stock of your opponents, but are becoming the laughing stock of the mainstream Christian community as well.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The God Gene?

I have been reconsidering something I have been telling people for a few years now. I have stated before that I used to be a Christian. That somewhere around the age of 47 I had a series of life-events that allowed me to reassess my beliefs. I am coming to terms with perhaps the truth that I was never a Christian to begin with. Rather I was a “Christian of Convenience” that merely went through the motions because it was the path of least resistance.

I am saying this because I am coming more and more convinced that there is a “god gene”, a genetic characteristic that allows, no forces, an individual to believe in a higher power. I simply don’t have it.

This concept makes more sense to me all of the time. Look at people like Banana Man Ray Comfort. He just won’t let go, no matter how silly his arguments are or how convincing the arguments against his positions are. He just glazes over and continues his mission.

I think if it is proven to be true, this “god gene” concept may go a long way towards religious peace and more tolerance of people like Ray Comfort. I will try to explain.

The more I have gotten into the ex-Christian thing, the more convinced I am of the absolute truth that there is no need for a biblical god to exist and there is absolutely no proof that he does. In fact, the Christian concept has become absurd to me, making no sense at all in a scientific, spiritual, ethical, or moral sense. But people I love all around me would literally die for it. Why is that? They aren’t stupid. They aren’t insane. What is going on?

The best analogy I can think of is homosexuality, It has been determined that this is also part of our genetic code. I have never tried to convince a homosexual that my role as a heterosexual is “better” or “makes more sense” than theirs, but I suspect if I did I’d have about as much chance of converting them to “go straight” as I would converting a Christian to an ex-Christian. It would be impossible to convert them, as their beliefs are the only one that makes sense to them.

I believe that “belief” is not a choice. I didn’t “choose” to be an ex-Christian, it just happened after I took a good look at it. I soaked up the evidence and my beliefs are what they are. I could never just choose to be a Christian. It would be fake. Just as it was my fist 47 years. But the fakeness was no big deal, in fact it helped me to get along with my social peers.

So, if this god gene thing is true, wouldn’t we ex-Christians be more tolerant of Christians knowing that they are not that way by choice? Sure, the fake ones like me could be convinced, but the ones that have gone through a religious upheaval and still emerged a Christian have no choice. No amount of convincing, whether it be logic, science, morals, whatever, would convince them otherwise because it is genetically impossible.

Or am I being too simplistic? I mean, it’s not a “Christian gene”, it’s a “god gene”. There are many alternatives to Christianity that still believe in a higher power. Could someone that possesses this gene be talked into any type of god-based religion? Thoughts?