Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Murder is Murder, Period!

July 17, 2016



Qandeel Baloch (Fouzia Azeem) was spending Eid al-Fitr (a Muslim festival for “breaking the fast”) with her family. Her brother seems to have thought it meant “Festival for Breaking the Neck” or some such as he strangled her while she slept.

A woman in Pakistan fighting for women’s rights in a nation and a religion which is intolerant to both. Her brother, Waseem, claimed it was an “honor killing”.

The phrase, like Waseem himself, is an oxymoron.

Perhaps he should be the victim of the same for being an utter disgrace to his family, his nation, his religion, his sex, his species, and the planet as a whole, as well as to the God he claims to worship.

There is no honor in strangling your sleeping sister. Heck, it doesn’t even soundly “manly”! I don’t care what freakin’ “religious” beliefs you might have. Any religion that condones this stuff is an abomination, and do not think I am accusing Islam alone for it. The Catholic Church did similar atrocities for centuries before they became “enlightened”. And it wasn’t just them as it also held true for Jew, Christian, Protestant, Muslim, Sunni, Shiite, Jain, Hindu, Shinto, or practically any other religion ever devised by Man.

It doesn’t matter if you are Jew, Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Sunni, Shiite, Jain, Hindu, Shinto, or Scientologist, religions are almost universal in reserving justice and death to the Almighty and I do not recall Him abrogating that responsibility to any of His creations whether they be Jew, Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Sunni, Shiite, Jain, Hindu, Shinto, or Scientologist.

In 2015, it was Sabeen Mahmud, a supporter of Abdul “Mama” Qadeer Baloch – killed by assailants. In 2012, it was Malala Yousafzai – shot by a Taliban gunman. These are not the only ones as there are around a hundred of these “honor killings” done every year in Pakistan, a location permanently removed from my list of places to travel. A location where you can apparently kill a family member for any reason whatsoever but claim it an “honor killing” and get the Stay Out Of Jail Free card.

The question one has to ask oneself is why are men so damned afraid of women? Can it be that they – alone – are the creators… you know, like the Creator?



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Atheism

July 27, 2013

nocross

One of the fastest growing segments of the “religious” landscape is none other than atheism.

The Christian community is disheartened over the numbers and wonder what they can do to turn the tide against the “non-believers”…

Actually, they don’t have to do anything. Since the journey on this realm is really all between the Creator and the individual, is has nothing to do with all the Christians around, despite their “do-gooder” attempts to “save” everyone around them.

That was really not what their Jesus was talking about. Paul, perhaps, and the early Church Fathers for sure.


One thing that need to be understood about atheism is that there isn’t just ONE branch of it, there are quite a few.

And just like all the variant forms of religion in the world, so too with atheism: it is not set in stone.

As many people leave the ranks of atheism to “get religion” as those who “lose faith” and leave the church.

And there are many followers of atheism who are still actively involved in the search for whether or not there is actually a God.

So cut all these people some slack – both those in or out of “God’s favor”.

We are all on our own journey anyway, wherever it may lead us.

And people find their comfort in many varying philosophies.

There has to be said something for all the diversity under creation…


What’s Wrong With Religion?

January 25, 2012

I have often heard people – believers as well as atheists – moan about what is wrong with religion, whether one specific one or merely religion in general. Having spent a lot of time involved in a wide variety of religions I think I have the answer to that question.

There is nothing wrong with religion.

Each religion, each cult, each philosophy answers a need in someone. And as we were all created different, we have different needs. Hence the plethora of religions. Many people have converted from the religion they were raised in to join another that more closely answers their individual needs. Thank goodness we have religious freedom!

The only difficulty arises when one person belonging to one of them thinks it is so wonderful that everyone should get involved. Starry-eyed evangelism can be very annoying to many.

Still, we should take it in the spirit it is given. People love to share the joy they found with others. They want others to find the same joy. That the joy they have found will not resonate the same with everyone else does not occur to them. Many people don’t seem to know this, fully expecting it to mean as much to everyone. Their exuberance can rub people the wrong way.

Still that does not mean there is anything wrong with the religion. Or the adherents.

So rather than get annoyed and try to change or shut up the person spouting their faith at us perhaps we could simply alter our own feelings of annoyance. It is far easier to change yourself than others, after all. Allow them to proselytize without lashing out at them, revel with them in their joy, and move on with your life.

I believe that is the sort of thing Jesus was teaching.

Goodbye Satan

January 21, 2012

The concept of Satan, as viewed by Christian faiths, is the primary reason I turned away from the church as a youngster. It made absolutely no sense.

If God was omnipotent, omnipresent, etc, why would He have a problem – a competition, of sorts – with one of His creations? Having an opponent sounds like they are equals. And that is ridiculous to consider!

The word “satan” means, simply, “adversary” and could be thought of as nothing more than an opponent of the speaker. And it is not used normally in a comparison between non-equal opponents. One might think it was sacrilegious to even consider than God had an equal… and yet it is common “belief” in Christian churches.

He started as a supposed angel of God who rebelled out of an inflated sense of self-worth. Somehow he became the Lord of Hell and the bane of God. Now we have this mythology built up about how Satan came to contend with God over Earth and how he wins people away from the good side to rot forever in the fires of Hell.

And I’m afraid I just can’t buy into that fairy story.

The Almighty does not have an opponent. There is no being anywhere of comparable magnitude to even be considered an equal.

Period!

Now, using Satan and the fires of Hell as a fear tactic by the church to entice people over to their side does sound like it has the ring of truth to it. If you cannot convince people to join your church because of the goodness of God and His works, perhaps they feel that fear might turn the trick instead.

It is bad theology and a bad sales technique.

Except that it seems to have worked splendidly for two millennia.

the Miracles of Jesus

January 15, 2012

Many authors have tried to explain the how and why of the miracles performed by Jesus. And by that I mean, translating them into “believable” scientific explanations… as if “miracles” require any sort of basis in our sciences.

Laurence Gardner explains the walking on water as nothing more than a plank they normally used to baptize people on; when Peter walked on it later he did not know its course and slipped off it. Funny, that someone would not already be familiar with such a local custom, if such it was, and slip off the darned thing.

Raising Lazarus from the dead was nothing more than an initiation into some sort of Mithraic cult (raised on the third day like JC was later, mirroring the cult thing… although why JC would need such initiating is never explained). True there was a strong following of this cult throughout the Roman Empire at the time and later and perhaps its inclusion somehow resonated with the Roman audience, but I really don’t see how the Cult of Mithras would get conflated with this story.

And several writers have mentioned that the feeding of the multitude (or multitudes, if you include the second such event) was nothing more than feeding them intellectually, filling them spiritually. It had nothing to do with fishes or loaves. (Although why would they be able to pick up more after the event than the original fishes and loaves?)

Okay, whatever.

Perhaps some of the miracles could have been metaphor or even sleight-of-hand in a way to get people’s attention or the use as a learning aid.

Maybe.

But, if such was the case, why would He bother saying “These things I can do, you can do and greater”? [John 14:12] If He had engaged in nothing more than semantic posing, ancient sleight-of-hand, and metaphorical mind-games, what were we supposed to be able to do “greater than”… nothing!?

So, what we have boils down to this: if they were actual miracles, as the book says, then they do not require any “scientific” explanation whatsoever. If you think they do require some sort of verifiability from an outside source, then you are probably not ready for taking the “leap of faith”.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, God created atheists as well. And I don’t think He created them so the religious would have someone to argue with or try to convert. His ways may be mysterious but some of His actions are very transparent, and that is one of them.

And, of course, I will touch on the subject of atheism again. It is territory I am completely familiar with.

If Jesus Came Today…

January 12, 2012

Of course, if He came riding on the clouds with the angels trumpeting around Him, we would all know for certain who it was.

But, if He came quietly, talking to small groups, spreading His Word quietly, slowly, ministering to small earnest groups in meed of such, would it appear to the rest of us that He had really returned?

Some of the scriptures tell us that His Second Coming will be with the fanfare and trappings of a mighty conqueror. That image of the Prince of Peace is a little hard for me to summon after reading the quiet peacefulness of His Ministry.

So, what if He came more quietly, like some itinerant preacher quietly spreading His message of hope and forgiveness? Would any recognize it was He?

I doubt it.

There is one preacher today who, in my opinion, is preaching a message that is very similar to that of Jesus. He rarely mentions scriptural verses, rarely mentions the sacrifice of Jesus, and spends most of his time talking about your personal relationship with the Almighty. And – Hey! – isn’t that what Jesus did as well?

I am not trying to say that this one preacher IS the Second Coming, only that if Jesus did come again, would we even recognize His teachings?

Unfortunately, most of the “mainstream” religious organizations think very poorly of this preacher and his message. And that says very little for them, I believe. Their “brand” of salvation has become too formulaic, too sterile, a little too closed. In fact, they themselves sit in judgment on a preacher who refuses to be so judgmental.

As Casting Crowns said in one of their songs, “Jesus paid much too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come”.

Perhaps their brand of Christianity allows them to sit in judgment on others with a calling such as theirs.

Perhaps they simply cannot stomach the very positive and uplifting message of this one preacher.

Perhaps they feel somehow superior because they have had divinity school and this other fellow has not.

Or perhaps they are simply jealous of his success.

Either way, Joel Osteen does not seem to pay much heed to his detractors.

In much the same manner as Jesus.

What You Don’t Know About Atheists

January 11, 2012

Most people think atheists are simply people who do not believe in God.

They are not people who don’t believe in one god or another, as most people in one religion look down upon the gods in other religions… sort of a “our god is better than your god” attitude.

No, atheists no not believe in any deity whatsoever. They believe that the world is nothing more than the mechanical, physical existence we see around us. To them, there is no more. What they see is what they got.

But, as in any other sort of theism, there are shades and degrees of atheists.

No foolin’!

My father called himself an atheist for years, then changed it to “agnostic”, and finally called himself a Buddhist before he left this Earthly realm.

I wavered between agnostic and atheist for years. My eldest son went from Gnostic to atheist to pagan to shamanic back to atheist. My youngest son wavers between deist and atheist.

A recent study was done and found that “atheists” knew more about the Bible than Christians. The radio host who announced this little tidbit added that it was because the atheists knew more so they could argue the points with the Christians.

Ah, if the answer we only that simple, that self-gratifying to the Christian thinkers. Unfortunately, as usual, it is not all about them.

The reality is that it is so much easier for some people, seeking truth on a level they can understand, to simply announce themselves as “atheists” so they cannot be corralled into a single way of thinking. They are still looking for the answer. That is why so many are well versed in the Bible: they are still searching.

Christians are already comfortable with what they have found and feel no need to study the Bible. Some read it, as a matter of course, but most are familiar with the stories and tales they get from Sunday School or the weekly sermon. They already “get” it and do not have to try and understand the scriptures… or the lines between the lines of scripture.

The majority of atheists I have met are in this transient phase of atheism. Many will stay there perhaps for the rest of their lives, still seeking an answer. Many more will find an answer that satisfies and will move from the ranks of the godless.

So, when you encounter someone who calls themselves an “atheist”, please remember that for most it is a temporary address only. Allow them the time to find God in their own way, in a manner that answers their own particular needs.

Trying to sell your particular brand of faith is not something they will be able to respond to very well. As with most searchers, they probably know infinitely more about the facts and figures of your religion than you.

Simply allow them their search and allow them the means to come to God in their own way, their own time, if such should happen, as they say, in God’s own time.

After all, the Almighty created us different. And do you think He did that as an oversight or as some horrible mistake? Or a cruel joke allowing some to easily find faith and others who would struggle with the concept?

No, I believe it is a lesson for each of us to learn. There is more than one way to skin a cat and more than one path to finding God.

To the faithful, it is an easy answer: faith. To the ones who question everything, the path is harder to find – all the paths in our religious world seem to be marked for those who can find the faith so easily. Perhaps if we opened a method for the other sort of people to understand the Divine, their journey would be easier as well.

But that would require the faithful to stretch themselves a little.

To those who have had such an easy journey, perhaps you could do some of the work rather than simply lament over the lost sheep or by calling them names? If God created atheists – or people prone to that sort of thing – it might have been put there as a problem to solve for those who so easily grasp faith.

Something to solve, rather than gripe about. You could simply call them those “shallow-minded” people as one popular Christian song labels them, or you could put your mind to doing some charitable works instead, and something that might actually stretch you.

I’m not trying to be judgmental on this topic but it seems name-calling and turning your back is not the solution to the question.

Is that what Jesus would have done?

Thank God for the Atheists!

January 9, 2012

On my way home from work every day, I pass by the county courthouse. A quaint old building with a long and glorious history, having survived the Civil War and a couple of battles in the vicinity.

Recently, a poster has been set up on the lawn near the street corner by the courthouse. It started early last year and was interrupted just before Easter but resumed shortly afterward.

The posters are from the American Atheist Association and they have some novel concepts.

One poster displayed a quote on scientists (by a scientist, of course) and regaled them as heroes for bravely searching for truth in the face of the opposition of ancient misconceptions.

A very nice poster…

But first you have to agree with a couple of opinions in the quotation: 1stly, that science has actually found “truth”, and 2ndly, that the ancients’ beliefs were misconceptions.

I am certain most viewers driving past would have agreed with the statement, never questioning the definitions of the terms like I did.

Perhaps you might have as well.

But I had seen the earlier posters. I found their choices exceptionally humorous.

First they showed the stable of the atheist pantheon, Charles Darwin. Darwin himself was shocked when people tried to use his theory to take God out of the natural equation. He was a very religious man.

Next they showed Jefferson, a father of modern thinking, and a devout believer in free-thinking. Strangely, he too was a very religious person. It’s true that he did not subscribe to the institutionalized religions of his period but he was a firm believer in the Almighty.

And then they had the quote of Einstein about God not playing dice with the universe shows that his mathematics and physics – at least to his own mind – verified what he knew of the creator.

And how could they forget the founding giant of all modern mathematics, that darling of the ungodly, Isaac Newton? Except that his volumes on calculus were being used to verify the existence of God.

Why the atheists have to use so many very religious people to bolster their notion that God does not exist may seem very strange.

But that is one of the anomalies of this existence. You know, not seeing the forest for the trees.

Now all we need for them to do is honor, Copernicus (a cleric of the Church), Pythagoras (who used geometry to understand the Divine), Gregor Mendel (a monk), and the originator of the Big Bang Theory, Georges Lemaître (a priest at the Catholic University of Louvain).

As many already know, the history of science is littered with the very religious folk.

And every now and again we need to be reminded of that.

Thank you, atheists, thank you.

Seventy Years and Counting – Happy Birthday, Stephen Hawking

January 8, 2012

Unquestionably one of the greatest mathematical minds of our time, Stephen Hawking has defied the odds and continues to function mentally even while his body is practically useless.

Like many in the scientific community, Hawking is an atheist. In his early book, A Brief History of Time, he spoke metaphysically of the Almighty: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we should know the mind of God.”

Since then, however, he has either altered his views or simply ceased being as politic.

More recently he has said, “The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

This seems to imply that there were working rules in place before the universe actually began. He thinks “the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”

Most religious people would say that Hawking simply chooses to ignore the vast implications of God in our daily lives or the miracles spoken of in the Bible. But, like most those with a scientific bent, the Bible and all those miracles of God’s intervention are no more than myths. Hawking believes there is no heaven and no afterlife, calling it a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

But Hawking can see the world only through one lens – the scientific one – and may not even know there are two sides to this coin. Not all scientists are atheistic and many can see the other side as well. It is not so hard to do, especially when you come to realize that there are at least two ways to view the universe.

Hawking contrasted religion and science recently by saying one is based on authority (religion) and one is based on observation and reason (science). To learn a bit how authority governs science, I direct you to Stargazers and Gravediggers by Immanuel Velikovsky. To learn a bit how observation and reason governs religion, check out Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas.

I may not agree with everything in the two volumes I just mentioned but I mention them only to show that Stephen’s defense of science’s freedom and the dismissal of religion’s authoritarianism is nothing but one view of the situation. I am sure there are more than I have mentioned as well.

Also, it should be noted that though Hawking seems to think God is somehow under the direct control of religion, such would actually be far wide of the mark. The last time I checked, religions were instituted by Man, and not by any Divine action, regardless of what claims stand to the contrary within certain religious institutions.

Still, Hawking’s achievements are monumental to our understanding of the universe and – regardless of the view or interpretation derived wherefrom – I believe all understanding is good for all our futures.

And Stephen Hawking stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the greats in the scientific world: Copernicus, Newton, Galileo, Pythagoras… even though each of the latter were using science and math to prove the existence and plan of the Almighty, we can benefit from all of their contributions.

Bless His Soul

January 7, 2012

Atheism is probably the fastest growing segment in the religious groups in America.

This could be because of the growth of technology or it could be the greater concentration of people in cities. Either way, it has many proponents in many walks of life.

Christopher Hitchens was one of those and quite vocal about his proud atheism until his death last week at age 62 of cancer. Many of his critics thought he would “find religion” before the end but he remained in the same mental framework to the end.

One has to commend him for his perseverance.

But, what about his atheism? He summed it all quite humorously in his volume God is Not Great. It is a stinging diatribe against practically all religions in the world, throughout history. Though many scholars can point out the errors in his arguments and his conclusions, I think everyone involved – including the late Mister Hitchens, as well – missed a rather vital point in his argument.

His premise was that God is not great but all he was able to show is that Man is not great, religion is confusing – to say the least – and that many throughout history have gone quite wide of the mark in the name of the Almighty.

What he failed to show in any of it was that God lacks greatness. It is easy to show that Man is flawed – an historically simple no-brainer – or that religion, any religion, is built on falsehoods perpetrated by Man, again, or interpretations that can be shown to be slightly shoddy in construction.

However, none of that reflects on God.

Mister Hitchens seems to have plenty of bile stored up from the interactions he has had during his life with various religious folk but he seemed to have somehow forgotten that they – like himself – were simply people with their own particular hang-pus and outlooks and interpretations for what they see going on around them. We each have our own interpretations of the universe and, though from inside our own head, it may seem like THE correct view, we should always remember that the view from another’s eyes may be completely different.

So Hitchens was able to show that religions built by Man are not great – but what built by Man can possibly stand beside any of the truly awe-inspiring Divine grandeur around us? – and are flawed in fashions typical of humans.

Naturally, critics found it rather easy to rip apart Hitchens arguments. One not familiar with the scholarly debates going on in religious circles would not understand the finer points. What Hitchens considered a slam-dunk was more of a rim shot that fell outside the net.

But he at least did it with a lot of humor.