Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson *might* have died

I know this isn't a very politically correct thing to say, but the guy was a pedophile who should be in prison. In my opinion, Michael Jackson died a couple years after he released Thriller--which, by all regards, was Quincy Jones masterpiece, not a Michael Jackson masterpiece. Still, he did have talent and promise early on. But somewhere along the way he snapped and lost it. If I will miss Michael Jackson, it will be the gangly kid with an amazing voice who sang with the Jackson Five and who went on to do Thriller. That Michael Jackson disappeared shortly thereafter, never to be seen again.

Jeff Mark
Author, Christian No More
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, March 23, 2009

Generalizing Atheists

Interesting letter: Belief has promoted good

Just a couple quick thoughts:

You can't generalize atheists any more than you can generalize the five billion non-Hindus. Or the nearly six billion non-Shintos. Or the few billion non-Christians.

And claiming that a particular religion is somehow "good" or has accomplished good things doesn't make that particular religion true. The Romans accomplished a lot of good (as well as bad) and they worshipped gods that nearly everybody today agrees don't exist. But to say that people who don't believe in those religions have accomplished nothing is an absurd statement. Sphere: Related Content

These people know if Satan exists

As many of you know, I don't believe that Satan exists. If you read my book, I spend a good deal of time talking about the issues of both Satan and Hell and why I came to the conclusion they're not real.

But this is bizarre: ABC's Nightline (which has gotten very strange in the past few years, quite frankly) is bringing on board four "experts" to debate whether Satan is real. Here are the people involved.

In one corner, arguing that Satan is not real:

  • Deepak Chopra, famous spiritualist who, interestingly, wrote a rebuttal article against Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. We don't really know what religion Chopra belongs to, but from what I've read he's both critcized and defended Christianity.
  • Carlton Pearson is a Christian preacher who believes God exists and is loving, but wouldn't condemn people to Hell; he doesn't believe Satan or Hell exist. (Kind of a strange do-it-yourself Christianity if you ask me.)

Then in the other corner, arguing Satan is real:

  • Mark Driscoll: A somewhat controversial preacher who, I might add, does have a Master's of theology.
  • Annie Lobert: The woman who started Hookers for Jesus. Why she should be considered an expert, I have no idea.

My take: Satan isn't real because Christianity and the Bible are based in myths. Jesus isn't real; God isn't real; the Holy Spirit isn't real; and as such neither is Satan or Hell. However, if you suspend belief momentarily and treat the Bible as real (bear with me here), you still find little or no evidence that Satan is real. In my own book, I point out that Satan and Hell actually occupy just a tinyl, miniscule portion of the Bible, and the references aren't at all clear. Anything beyond that is an invention of the person reading the Bible. So maybe the Carlton Pearson isn't the one with the do-it-yourself Christianity after all. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Satan made her do it!

It's amazing the way people will rationalize things. In this news article, a woman was charged with theft from a church. Over the course of three years, she stole over $70,000. She sounds pretty sad and remorseful, but I think it's also sad that she's ultimately blaming it on some supposed external force, Satan, as if it's his fault and not hers.

Here's the news article.

Curious to the former Christians reading this: When you did things you knew were wrong, did you ever rationalize them and blame it on Satan? Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the beginning...

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This is Genesis 1:1, the very first verse of the Bible. Children memorize it. Adults repeat it. Everybody knows it. The only problem is it's incorrectly translated. The original Hebrew doesn't say "God". Rather, it says "gods" (plural). So in fact, the original is: "In the beginning, the gods created the heavens and the earth."

The Old Testament has been rewritten and reinterpreted so many times over to match the expectations of the Christian religion. But how can the religion be true when its sacred document has been rewritten and fixed up and changed?

Christians today pride themselves on their supposed monotheism. But are its roots of the ancient Hebrew religion even monotheistic? When you let go of your pre-programmed notion that the ancient Hebrews were monotheistic and begin reading the Old Testament with an open mind, you start to find that this notion of "monotheism" is anything but true.

In fact, the ancient Hebrew people did believe in multiple gods. Officially, they only *worshipped* one of those gods. But they believed many, many existed. In fact, many of those other gods they believed in are gods from other religions, carry-overs from the religions of the surrounding people that influenced the beliefs of these ancient Hebrew people. People of the time quickly and easily absorbed the religions of others. Their superstitious beliefs let them easily think that other people had their own gods, gods who really existed but were looked down upon by their own god.

These other gods are mentioned at times in the Christian Bible. (Baal is one. There are others.) But while the ancient Hebrew people actually believed these other gods existed, they simply "demoted" them to the level of demon. But the belief was there.

As you read the Old Testament, you'll see many bizarre sentences that become more clear when you accept that the Hebrew people believed in multiple gods. There are many places where God is supposedly talking to others. For example, in Genesis 11, God is worried about the people building the Tower of Babel, and he has a conversation with somebody (it doesn't say who) and refers to "us" in plural: "Come, let us go down...". In other places he warns people of worshipping other gods, and the assumption among most Christians today is that these other gods existed only in the minds of those worshipping them. But when you let go of that assumption and read the stories at face value, it starts to become clear that the authors of the Old Testament (and the people being described in the stories) actually believed these other gods were *real* -- just not to be worshipped, that's all. In other words, they believed in competing gods. Look at how the God character warned the people that he's a jealous god. It was as if he was suggesting these other gods existed and were real.

And indeed today many Christians who are particularly superstitious often believe in demons and other evil beings (Satan included) who have supernatural abilities, but aren't gods per-se. But regardless of whether they're to be called a "god" or not, they are the same thing.

And thus, the opening verse of the Bible tells much more than people today seem to realize. The ancient people believed in multiple gods, and the Hebrew people from whom the Jewish and subsequent Christian faiths emerged believed in multiple gods, just like all the other people of the time. And they believed that these gods worked together to create the universe.

It's interesting how people will spin this, however. In my book I spend some time explaining how people will rationalize such difficulties and spin it in their own minds to "make it work." I mentioned Genesis 1:1 to somebody yesterday, a Christian, and his response was that the word "gods" in plural here simply refers to the different aspects of the one true god. That's an example of completely making up a rationalization to fit what one wants to hear.

And it's totally absurd. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something to offer

From time to time I read blogs and even editorials where the writers criticize atheism as having nothing to offer, and for believing in "nothing" while Christianity has tons to offer.

Here's a recent article on by somebody who seems to have studied very little about Darwin, evolution, atheism, archeology, and even the history of his own church. (His writing reminds me of when I was younger and believed that you could make outrageous claims in your writing without backing them up and people would believe it without question. No research or preparation whatsoever went into his article. What's surprising is he appears to be an older fellow; most people eventually learn this about writing, but apparently he never did.)

Other than pointing out the obvious problems (no, we don't worship Darwin), I'll focus on one point in particular that he makes:

The problem as I see it is that Atheists seem to have a great deal of passion about …ah…ah…um……nothing. You got it, they have a passion for nothing. They don’t believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Heaven or Hell! So what do they believe in………nothing, that’s what.
Yeah, so? And?

I do not believe in his God that he promotes, and if he (or you all!) read my book Christian No More, it becomes very clear why I stopped believing in this God that instructs people to sacrifice their children, kill innocent people, and wipe out entire cities, all while maintaining outrageous, narcissistic rules about how to get accepted into this supposed Heaven.

Many times I've heard Christians talk about the great promise of what is to come if we believe that Jesus both existed and is the Son of God, and if we also repent our sins: Everlasting life in Heaven.

But what these people fail to realize is that they offer to us no compelling evidence that what they're offering is even real.

I've said this before in earlier blogs, and I've said it in my book, and I'll say it again: What do we have to offer? Nothing. I'm not making outrageous claims of some glorious afterlife.

But I do actually have *something* I can offer, but I'm not really the one offering it. You are offering it for yourself. And that's a life without fear and terror of what might happen to you as a result of simply being human. And a life of accepting yourself for who you are. Now that sounds pretty good.

p.s. If you like this, please Digg it. :-) Sphere: Related Content

Friday, December 5, 2008

UNC Chapel Hill Library: No Christmas Trees

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I just found this news item. This year, the library at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill campus will not have any Christmas trees in the lobby although in the past they have done so.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we'll probably see more news on this, but here's a link to the story:

UNC-Chapel Hill Library Drops Christmas Trees

(Just for clarification for those not familiar with the university, Chapel Hill is the name of the town. This is not a private or Christian school.)

It should be interesting to see how people react to this, but it's important to realize that this was their own decision to do so -- no "militant atheists" sued them or anything like that. Sphere: Related Content