“A God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell — mouths mercy, and invented hell — mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!”
I’m often asked by theists I meet, particularly evangelicals proselytizing at the local library I visit, why I’m not a theist, or more specifically, why I’m not a Christian. There are several reasons for this, but a few stand out:
First, like Bertrand Russell, I simply have learned too much to find any of the Christian dogmas credible, particularly the fundamentalist notion of Biblical inerrancy — I’m quite aware that the Bible has been repeatedly edited, reedited, censored, and “updated” many times over the centuries by theological and political opportunists, which would not be the case if the book were truly a perfect work written or inspired (whatever that’s supposed to mean) by an all-knowing God who you think could write a book, well, perfectly.
Second, even considering Christianity alone, some sources have estimated the existence some 30,000 Christian sects, churches and denominations, many of which do not even consider others to be Christian! Each claims the Truth™ for itself, at least implicitly, and there’s no objective way to tell which one is correct, which one to choose. After all, no matter which one is chosen, you still go to hell according to the devout believers of all the others for choosing the “wrong” religion.
Third, being “saved” does not interest me — WHAT MADNESS IS THIS????? — because I know just enough about psychology and neuroscience to strongly suspect that souls and ensoulment do not actually exist or occur. Couple that with a strong suspicion of the nonexistence of any divine agency to do the saving, from hell or whatever, and I have what I consider good reasons indeed not to engage in theism.
Non-Christian religions, as interesting as they are, aren’t much better, and no religion has ever had a plausible way of convincingly showing it’s claims true to a critical and knowledgeable nonbeliever, causing further problems for the credibility of any religious belief system or invocations of Pascal’s wager.
This is why I’m a nontheist, and will likely remain one of full conviction to my deathbed, though I could be wrong…
Peeps who are horny for the apocalypse disturb me.
I mean, after last week’s failed rapture prediction, its originator, preacher Harold Camping, is backtracking by saying after the fact that his biblical numerology, (which he was so certain about being perfect before both his 1994 prediction and the one just this month), was wrong and that he now says it’s October 21st instead.
People have done this sort of thing for centuries, and the story never changes: Clergyman uses something resembling math to calculate something from a book of the Bible, predicts the End of Everything™ and like clockwork, the End passes by without even a single hallelujah by the ascending Elect, awaiting the next guy to make the next prediction, etc…
Mister Camping…Why is it that you, like everyone else who uses contrived pseudo-mathematics to make these sorts of predictions, have such authoritative confidence in your claims until after the fact?
Why don’t you, you know, check the math before you make your claims?
All it does is fill people susceptible to these claims with false hope and needless fear, and often results in serious harm being done to themselves and others in senseless acts of violence.
Why bother? Is the money you get in donations worth it? This merchandising of fear and confusion?
I ask this because it’s massively irresponsible… immoral even… to spread claims like this…
I find this appalling, for what sort of truly moral person wants people who don’t share his beliefs to suffer in eternal torment or destruction?
Why convince people to want this?
Why only be good in anticipation of reward in paradise as opposed to those of us without religion, who see value in being good for its own sake, not just fear of punishment nor hope of reward for what we neither desire nor believe even exists?
I predict that the next End Times prediction will fail, and when it does, it puts yet another nail in the coffin of religion’s credibility and relevance in a world that can do well enough without it.
- Rapture Predictor Harold Camping: Apocalypse Rescheduled for October 21 [Oops] (gawker.com)
- That Nutjob: Rapture Happened ‘Spiritually’, Apocalypse Still Slated For October 21st (geekologie.com)
- Harold Camping: Apocalypse Rescheduled For October 21 (gizmodo.com.au)
- Apocalypse now (ladyashlie.wordpress.com)
- Preacher Harold Camping apologizes for lack of apocalypse, reschedules Rapture for Kim Kardashian’s birthday (popwatch.ew.com)
- Harold Camping Moves Goalpost: October 21 is the New Rapture (towleroad.com)
- Watch: Harold Camping Emerges From His Home The Day After His Failed Rapture Prediction (towleroad.com)
- Apocalypse still imminent: Rapture now coming in October (guardian.co.uk)
- Harold Camping: May 21 Judgment Day Did Happen (newsfeed.time.com)
An acquaintance and I were engaged in a rather impromptu discussion of the subject of the biblical book of Ezekiel, and in our verbal sparring he claimed, as has Erich Von Däniken, that the Old Testament book described a real, physical event, the literal visitation to the prophet by an alien spacecraft, and pointed me in the direction of this book.
It’s a work of fiction describing, sort of, the idea that there was something much more interesting going on than just the prophet being out of his ever-lovin’ tree during a mystical experience, and Josef Blumrich’s book goes into elaborate detail on the mathematics of this ‘spacecraft’s’ technical specifications, the math taking up a good portion of the book.
Well, having read Ezekiel prior to this review, I couldn’t help but note that there was no hint, no mention anywhere, in the prophet’s description of what he saw, of any relative scale, physical measurements, or any sort of quantitative descriptive terminology that would permit the alleged technical specs to be defined in any manner at all.
There was literally nothing at all in the biblical book which Blumrich could have possibly used to derive his elaborate and elegant math.
Surprisingly, this niggling detail did not impede the author’s brilliantly fertile imagination…
Could it have really happened? I doubt it. I mean, aside from the fact that’s there’s still the debatable question of the Old Testament prophet’s actual historicity, much less that ET had come a’ calling during the Bronze Age to a lone Middle Eastern patriarch to take him for a spin.
If Ezekiel did indeed exist, then given the evidence, it’s far more likely that nothing physical happened to be explained, beyond something biochemical going on in his brain at the time, and that he was simply spaced-out, instead of hitching a ride to outer space.
If you like somewhat dry, technical science fiction, then this book is for you, but with a wee bit of amphibole, I cannot recommend this book highly enough as a serious scholarly work. Read into that what you will…