Saturday, August 7, 2010

336: Women Shouldn't Speak in Church

1 Corinthians 12-14
"...women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." - 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Chapter 12 starts with Paul explaining that everyone won't have the same spiritual gifts. Some will speak in tongues, and some will be able to heal, while still others will be able to prophecy. Interestingly, Jesus says that those who believe will receive all these gifts at once (Mark 16:17-18). The plot thickens, though, because this is one of those sections in Mark that the NIV says wasn't there in the first manuscripts. Is fake-Jesus, or makes-up-random-shit-Paul a more legitimate source of truth?

Chapter 12 ends with a long section about all believers being one part of the body of Jesus. All believers, says Paul, are different, but they are all exactly the way that God wants them to be (that they may fit into the body of Christ). This is obviously why the idea of people being born gay is so abhorrent to Christians.

Chapter 13 is about love. Paul says that all the gifts of the spirit are useless without love. What he has to say about love is relatively famous (it's quoted in several bad romantic comedies, and thusly requoted on Facebook ad nauseam), I'll quote it:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I certainly can't criticize the message, and I can see why it fits so well with a romantic comedy (even though Paul isn't talking about romantic love). But I'd like to compare Paul's ideal love with the love of our "all loving" God.
Love is patient: I wouldn't call God particularly "patient". But the argument could be made that he was "patient" with the Israelites, even though he rather seemed to enjoy killing them off. The real question is, what does patience even mean to a timeless being? Can something be patient if it can't experience time?
Love is kind: Of course, one would need to properly define "kind" before you could make an argument for or against God's kindness. But I would hope that we can all agree that killing women and children for the crimes of others doesn't qualify. Or how about leaving Adam and Eve to the temptation of the serpent, thereby dooming all of humanity for the rest of time. That doesn't sound very kind either.
Love does not envy, boast, and is not proud: This is where God really begins to fail. The God of the bible is, as he admits, a jealous God (which I think is a pretty solid synonym for "envious"). God boasts of his wonderfulness almost constantly in the Old Testament. And God is certainly proud (otherwise he wouldn't boast so much). In fact, I am unable to find but a couple books of the Old Testament that aren't God constantly boasting about how wonderful he is. This may be deservedly, after all if you create the universe you probably deserve to boast a little. But surely the point Paul is trying to make is that you don't boast even if you deserve to, everyone can boast about something.
Love is not self-seeking or easily angered: God is the epitome of self-seeking. He created mankind that we may worship him constantly. God, at least in my opinion, is easily angered. Even if he's not easily angered, when he does get angered he ends up killing off entire societies.
The last, and best, one I'm going to talk about; Love keeps no record of wrongs: Again, God is the epitome of keeping records of wrongs. Humanity is still being punished for Adam and Eve's wrongdoing.
Someone please explain to me how God is "all loving". God doesn't even meet the definition of a little loving (according to Paul).

Paul ends chapter 13 by saying that there are three things: faith, hope, and love. Among these, love is the greatest. How is this true? If you are only full of love (with no faith or hope), God will have no qualms about throwing you into an eternity of hellfire. The same can be said about hope. Why wouldn't Paul say that faith (i.e. the way to eternal salvation) is the greatest?

Chapter 14, for the most part, is about Paul explaining how the gift of prophecy is greater than the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul explains that speaking in tongues really doesn't get you anywhere, because nobody has any idea what you're saying. Prophesying, on the other hand, will gain you much more followers. Even though Paul says speaking in tongues isn't very important, he doesn't pass up the opportunity to rub in how great he is at it: "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you".

The last part of chapter 14 is about orderly worship. He says at most three people should speak at one time (this is "orderly"?). Paul then says that all women must remain silent in church. If they have a question about anything, they should wait till they get home and ask their husbands (who somehow have the answers to all life's questions). This is because it's disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. I've been to church, this command is not followed at all.

This command, of course, seems ridiculous in modern times. But it's in the bible. Why aren't churches following this like they do the abolition of homosexuality? I've heard several explanations for Paul's abolition of women speaking in churches, ranging from "this command was only for the Corinthians" to "it really just means that women shouldn't interrupt in church". It's very clear that Paul is giving general guidelines for how a church should be run, not specifically a Corinthian church. And the second argument just isn't in the bible. Paul clearly says that it's disgraceful for a woman to speak, at all, in church. Can we call the bible, or at least Paul, outdated yet?

*News*
Christopher Hitchens gave his first interview since his diagnosis. If you don't want to sit through the whole 9 minutes, fast forward to the 8 minute mark (if you want to watch more than 9 minutes, hit the link at the bottom for the unedited interview).


There it is, there will be no death bed conversion. Even if there is a deathbed "conversion", Hitchens himself is denying that he would ever say that in a lucid state of mind. Maybe now I'll stop getting Google alerts every day with random people just sure that Hitchens is going to find Jesus.

(via CNN [full interview])

Friday, August 6, 2010

335: Women Must Cover Their Heads

1 Corinthians 9-11
"If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man." - 1 Corinthians 11:6-7

Paul starts chapter 9 by again asserting that he is an Apostle (i.e. one of the twelve), and saying that he's seen Jesus. Both of these claims are only backed up by his own eyewitness account. I've said this before and I'll say it again, by Paul's definition of apostleship, anyone could claim they've seen Jesus, write a few letters, and then expect to be taken seriously by everyone for the next 2000 years.

Paul goes on to say that those who spread the gospel should expect material reward for their efforts. He says in the same way that those who spread seed expect to reap profits, that those who spread the gospel should expect to reap rewards. This, indeed, seems to be the philosophy that the twelve are currently operating under. Considering they get all the money from the church and decide when/where to distribute it. But does this, in any way, align with the message of Jesus? The Jesus who blatantly told everyone to give away all their money? I think not.

Paul then immediately contradicts himself by saying that he's not taking any of these "expected" rewards, because doing so would be "discharging the trust committed to [him]". So which is it Paul? Is taking material reward for preaching the gospel a violation of trust, or an expected reward for a job well done?

Chapter 9 ends with Paul saying that he acts the way the Jews act, to win the Jews, and he acts the way the weak act, to win the weak, and so on. This surely inspired St. Ambrose's, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" some 300 years later.

The next chapter starts with Paul telling us that when God killed people in the Old Testament, it was as a warning to us. A warning of what? That he's going to start killing again? Again, Paul is unable to go more than a paragraph without contradicting himself and says, "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." God warns us about things that he is going to prevent us from being overly tempted by?

This saying, ("God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear") is pretty similar to "God doesn't give people more than they can handle", which is by far the most infuriating saying in modern Christendom. Why are there hoards of people going to hell (at least from the Christian perspective) every day, if God doesn't tempt us more than we can handle? In fact, from the Christian perspective, the only message some people get their entire life is the message of "temptation" (i.e. Islam, Confucianism, or any other religion that isn't Christianity).

Paul then says that we shouldn't eat food sacrificed to idols. But only if the person giving you the food tells you it's a sacrifice. This is because you're refraining from eating the food for his sake, not your own. I guess eating food after someone says it's been sacrificed to an idol somehow legitimizes the sacrifice?

Chapter 11 is where things really get bad for Paul. I'll let the first few sentences speak for themself:
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved.
First of all, I thought God and Jesus were one being? How can something be the head of itself? Second, and more importantly, this whole paragraph is completely out of touch with modern reality. All woman have to pray with their head covered? The head of all women is men? This is another great example of Christians completely disregarding some teachings in the bible (women have to have their heads covered), while completely embracing others (homosexuality is wrong).

The section just goes down hill from there. Paul goes on to say that men shouldn't cover their heads, because they are the glory of God, and women should because they are the glory of men. Paul then says, "For this reason, and because of the angels, the women ought to have a sign of authority on her head". Because of the angels? Does it make angels sad when women aren't subjugated?

Paul then tells us to judge for ourselves if it is right for a woman to have her head uncovered. What happened to objective morality? He seems to assume that we will all come to the same conclusion, though, because he says, "Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?". Yeah, those guys with long hair are disgraceful and generally abhorrent to nature:


Oops, sorry Jesus (yes, I realize Jesus probably didn't have long hair). In any case, this is all completely objective. What is "long hair"? Since we are given no concise definition, I could easily define "long" as going down to your ankles.

The rest of chapter 11 is about not eating meals until everyone arrives. This is because that's not the way they did it at the last supper. Paul also says that if you haven't properly thought about the sacrifice of Jesus before you take the sacrament, you are condemning yourself.

*News*
I would hope by now that everyone has heard of the reversal of Prop 8 by a California district judge. I knew it wouldn't take too long for some fundie to try to use the bible/religion as a rational basis for the rejection of gay marriage. Well, here it is, and from the Washington Post no less:
The decision called California citizens' decision to define marriage as "irrational," which suggests that their decision was absurd and beyond the pale. What's really irrational is the judge's dismissal of marriage between a man and a woman - the basic bedrock of our society - as if it were some kookie idea. What's irrational is his ignoring the will of the people with real life experience of marriage, who have voted down gay marriage not only in California, but throughout the United States whenever legalization of gay marriage has been put to a vote.

...

What is even more irrational is the judge's dismissal of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment and Freedom of Religion with these damning words: "Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians."
First of all I don't have the slightest clue why this is an issue that should be up for a majority vote. No rights issue, from the abolition of slavery to the allowance of interracial marriage has been (or should have been) up for a majority vote. And if they had been they would have surely been rejected by the majority. Second, how is the judge "rejecting" marriage between a man and a woman? Allowing gay people to marry doesn't "reject" straight marriage any more than allowing women to vote "rejects" the vote of a man. Finally, why is this a violation of freedom of religion? Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom to push your religion on minorities. Or freedom to impose your religious morality on everyone through state law.

Imagine if it were acceptable to push biblical morality on the government for any other situation. Should we disallow men having long hair because Paul calls it abhorrent to nature? Why is it that no judge would ever be condemned for upholding the right for men to have long hair? Surely this would be the same kind of religious "bigotry" that this judge committed when upholding the right of gay marriage.
The judge's placing religion and government at odds amounts to Constitutional irrationality. It is no small irony that his anti-religious position is enshrined in a ruling deemed to oppose bigotry. The U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens freedom for religion. That precludes government from weighing in on the "acceptability" of religious beliefs.
The government can absolutely weigh in on the "acceptability" of a religious belief when someone makes it into a law and gives it to a federal judge. Again, this argument wouldn't hold water for any other biblical morality. By the way, that's freedom of religion, not freedom for religion. If it was freedom for religion we would have to divide our states based on theological leaning. You can't possibly make a law that would satisfy all religions simultaneously.
Judge Walker devoted three pages of his decision to make his case for the bigotry of religion, an insult to the tens of millions of religious people in the nation. This is not to deny that some people act despicably and portray their bigotry against gays as religious expression. So too do those who spew anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and anti-whatever sentiments. They're an unfortunate result of our human condition that lets the morally weak, even morally decrepit, walk among us. Bigoted people are an unfortunate result but not a reason to upend the U.S. Constitution.
It seems that the writer of this article thinks that federal judges are not even allowed to mention religion in a negative light. I assure you that the U.S. Constitution says nothing about what the attitudes of judges should be. The true upending of the Constitution would be to allow religious organizations to dictate what should be made law.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

334: Give Him to Satan, That his Spirit May be Saved

1 Corinthians 5-8
"When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 5:4-5

Paul really loses it today.

The first thing he says to the Corinthians is that he's heard about sexual immorality among them. The sexual immorality being that men have been sleeping with their fathers' wives (aka their mothers?). He goes on to say that, instead of being in fellowship with these men, they should hand them over to Satan that their sinful nature will be destroyed and their spirit will be saved. Wait. What? Send them to Satan so their spirit will be saved? Now Satan is saving people's souls? I must be missing something here.

This is not to mention that Paul has just spent numerous chapters saying that people shouldn't judge each other because everyone is a sinner. In fact, if you judge someone for a sin you're probably doing the sin yourself (says Paul). Now we're not only supposed to judge the person, but we're supposed to personally deliver him to Satan?

Paul then says that he's written that it's ok to hang out with people that are immoral. But now, says Paul, "I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat." This is most definitely a verse that Christians have intentionally passed over (and probably for good reason, considering Jesus would not have approved). You're not even supposed to eat with sinners? One of Jesus's main messages was that it was ok to be around sinners (he did it himself all the time).

In the beginning of chapter 6 Paul tells the Corinthians that they shouldn't take their disputes before civil courts, but they should judge among themselves. We know how well that worked out with the Catholic church.

Paul then continues his completely anti-Jesus rant: "Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." He goes on to say that that's what some of them were until they found Jesus, but now they're somehow cured of their nastiness. I thought it was all about believing in Jesus, not your actions. After all, Paul just said that we're all sinners, but we'll be saved through salvation in Jesus. Contradictions abound.

The last part of chapter 6 is about how terrible sexual immorality is. Paul says that all other sins are outside the body, but sexual immorality is against the body. This is especially terrible because our bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit. I guess we all have the Holy Spirit now?

Chapter 7 is long and repetitive. Paul says that divorce is terrible, and once a man and a woman are married, they should stay together forever. He then says if a man is married to a non-believing woman, or vice versa, then the non-believing spouse is sanctified through the believing spouse. Does this mean all non-believing spouses go to heaven?

Paul then lays down an interesting rule, he says that if a man is already circumcised, then he should not be uncircumcised when he comes to Jesus, and vice versa. I didn't realize it was possible to uncircumcise someone.

Paul spends the rest of the chapter explaining that it's a far more noble position to remain unmarried. The only reason you should get married is if, as a result of not getting married, you would have to give into lust and sin.

The entirety of chapter 8 is Paul trying to overturn the Apostles decision on eating meat sacrificed to idols. He again says that it doesn't matter what a man eats, even if it's food sacrificed to idols. Who the hell does Paul think he is? What gives Paul the authority to overturn a decision made by the twelve? Paul's only source of authority seems to come from his own over sized ego.

*News*
I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this article:
Sometimes I wonder what it's like to be an atheist. We all know an atheist is a person who does not believe in God.

A lot of atheists have their own reasons why they do not believe in God including parents who never brought them to church. The parents may be believers of God but the simple act of not bringing the child to church puts this non-belief in them.
Oh no, not this again. I thought I didn't believe in God because I'm a rebellious teenager, or I have deep seated father issues that I don't know about. Anyway, go on:
I once stayed in an atheist's house when I went to another place for a few days. It was interesting experience to go to a non-believer's house because the atheist housed us, fed us, treated us very well, talked with us, and made sure our stay was very comfortable. These are basic values that any person has around the world.
They gave you food? They talked to you? Someone find out who this is and take away their atheist card!

Was this person expecting to be beaten and thrown into the iron barred dungeon that every atheist has? This is what happens when biblical illogic (i.e. all atheists are nasty, immoral people) meets reality. People generally treat guests with basic hospitality, whether they're Christians, Jews, Muslims, or atheists. I'm shocked that this is news.
I could swear by the atheist's actions that he believed in God.

Even without God, the basic premise of being a good person was written all over him. This guy did not drink, get violent, treated his wife and child well.
You mean, morality isn't based on the illogical belief in an inherently unfalsifiable God? This is a classic case of why it's important that atheists make themselves known. This person had someone in their life tell them that atheists were nasty, terrible people (it could have been the bible), only an atheist can break that stereotype. Harvey Milk said it about the gay rights movement, but it seems to apply here:
Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

333: The Easy Way, or The Hard Way

1 Corinthians 1-4
"What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?" - 1 Corinthians 4:21

Just what we always wanted, more of Paul's ranting.

Paul writes this letter to the Corinthians because he hears that there are divisions among them. Some of them say they follow Apollos, some say Paul, and others say Jesus. Paul says that he (or is this some other Paul?) was not crucified for their sins, so they shouldn't follow him.

Paul goes on to say that, for those who don't believe, the message of Christ is foolishness. This is because God says, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise". Is God sending people to hell again? Indeed, Paul says that only those chosen by God can see that the message of Christ is not foolishness. It seems the New Testament has only changed when God punishes people for no reason, not if.

He then goes on to insult the intelligence of the early church. He says that when these people were called by God, they were not wise by human standards. In fact, God specifically chose these people because God wants to use the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. So God is letting stupid people into heaven, and letting the smart ones go to hell, just for the sick satisfaction of "shaming the wise"? Is this the same being I'm supposed to believe is "all loving"?

In chapter 2 Paul backs up a little. He says that the followers of Christ really do speak in wisdom. But it's secret God wisdom, that nobody but them understands. That's a pretty convenient type of wisdom that doesn't have to be very wise.

Paul then says something that I'd be shocked if some Priest hasn't latched onto, "The spiritual man makes judgement about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgement". What happened to "judge not lest ye be judged"? I think this should from now on be known as the "hypocrisy approved" clause of the bible.

Chapter 3 is all about laying your metaphorical foundation with Jesus. Because if you lay your foundation with Silver or Gold your house will surely be burned. I guess in metaphor land, Silver and Gold are highly flammable while Jesus is fireproof.

In chapter 4 Paul says that the Corinthians have become wealthy kings, while Paul is the scum of the earth (which is a good thing, of course). He then says that he's sending Timothy to re-educate them in the ways of Jesus. Finally, he urges the Corinthians to become more like him.

*News*
All atheists are just rebellious teenagers! It must be true, because this guy wrote a book about it:
A professor of philosophy and religion at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., Spiegel has written a 130-page book, The Making of an Atheist, in response to the New Atheists. But unlike the numerous responses that have emerged from Christian apologists, Spiegel's book focuses on the moral-psychological roots of atheism.

While atheists insist that their foundational reason for rejecting God is the problem of evil or the scientific irrelevance of the supernatural, the Christian philosopher says the argument is "only a ruse" or "a conceptual smoke screen to mask the real issue – personal rebellion."
Of course, with this explanation he doesn't actually have to bother answering the problem of evil or addressing the lack of evidence for God. This is not to mention that a good portion of the atheists I know (including me) weren't raised in religious homes. What am I rebelling against?
He admits that it could appear unseemly or offensive to suggest that a person's lack of belief in God is a form of rebellion. But he said in a recent interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society that he was compelled to write the book because he is convinced that "it is a clear biblical truth."
Ok, let me just get this straight. His argument is that atheists can't possibly have a legitimate reason to say the bible isn't true, because the bible says so? Scientology and Pastafarianism say the exact same thing, I think the writer is just rebelling against their perfect revelations. But don't stop reading yet, he's got anecdotal evidence!
Spiegel, who converted to Christianity in 1980, has witnessed the pattern among several of his friends. Their path from Christianity to atheism involved: moral slippage (such as infidelity, resentment or unforgiveness); followed by withdrawal from contact with fellow believers; followed by growing doubts about their faith, accompanied by continued indulgence in the respective sin; and culminating in a conscious rejection of God.
That's a fun theory, but I've got some bad news. If you're consciously rejecting God (i.e. you acknowledge that he exists but reject him anyway) you're not an atheist. He seems to be accusing all atheists of not actually being atheists. But wait, there's more:
"It appears that the psychological fallout from a defective father must be combined with rebellion – a persistent immoral response of some sort, such as resentment, hatred, vanity, unforgiveness, or abject pride. And when that rebellion is deep or protracted enough, atheism results," Spiegel explains.

In essence, "atheists ultimately choose not to believe in God," the author maintains, and "this choice does not occur in a psychological vacuum."
If anything, wouldn't the lack of a father make you seek (read: "make up") a new father (God)? Why would the lack of a father make you want to be extra fatherless? Not that having a father has anything to do with atheism. Of course atheists, at some point, choose not to believe in God. Just like, at some point, all Christians consciously choose to believe in God.

All of this makes for a very convenient conclusion for Christians, where they don't actually have to address any of the concerns of atheists (as he mentioned, the problem of evil and the lack of evidence). If my position is so obviously indefensible, give me some logical reason to be a Christian.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

332: Eat What You Want & Romans: In Review

Romans 14-16
"As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean." - Romans 14:14

Chapter 14 is again about not judging other people. Paul says that everyone's faith is different, and some people's faith allow them to do some things, while other's faith disallow the same thing. I'm really not sure what he's trying to say here. There are different rules for different people? The example he gives is that if one man's faith is strong, he can eat all kinds of food. While if another man's faith is weak he can only eat vegetables. How strong does your faith have to be to be gay?

He goes on to randomly say that, as someone who is in Jesus, that he doesn't believe anything is unclean to eat. What happened to Jesus not erasing any of the laws of the Old Testament? And what happened to not being a "slave" to sin? If we can disregard dietary laws why can't we disregard everything else? This is also contrary to the Apostles' letter to the gentiles saying they couldn't eat strangled animals, or animals sacrificed to idols.

Paul then clarifies that if you have doubts about what you're eating, then you are condemned. But if you eat with faith then you'll be fine. So you just have to be fully convinced what you're doing is right, then that makes it right?

Chapter 15 is all about Jews and Gentiles accepting each other because they all have Jesus in common. Paul also talks about his plan to visit Rome. Now I'm really confused about when Paul is writing this (not that it matters that much).

The entirety of chapter 16 (almost) is just Paul listing people that he wants to greet in Rome. Paul also says to watch out for people that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus, and to keep away from them. Wait a minute, how do you decide that they're doing something contrary to Jesus? Didn't we just talk about not ever judging someone, and how some people's standards are different based on their level of faith? Jesus spoke in parables, Paul speaks in contradictions.

*News*
Romans really starts to look like what I would call stereotypical "Christianity". That is, disregard random Old Testament laws, talk about sexual uncleanliness, talk about Jesus's salvation of humanity, etc.

Romans is interesting, though, in that it doesn't necessarily claim to be divine revelation. It's merely Paul's observation through the Holy Spirit. But with this criteria, any modern Christian (who is supposed to be endowed with the Holy Spirit) could write a letter and it would be just as legitimate as Paul's. That would be like putting Billy Graham's column into a book and calling it scripture.

For a book that seems to be the foundation of modern Christianity (or at least modern Christianity's rhetoric), you'd think the source would be a little more legitimate. It hasn't been so long, after all, since Paul was sending Christians to their deaths. Now he's supposed to be one of the authorities on Christianity?

Aside from his own self testimony (Jesus says self testimony is invalid, remember?), there is no evidence that would make Paul any sort of authority on Christianity. But, of course, we can't let lack of evidence ruin a perfectly good story.

*News*
Don't worry about your finances. God will take care of it:
Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:32-33 (NLT)

*God promises to meet all your financial needs, if you (1) ask him for help; (2) learn to be content; (3) practice giving in faith; (4) maintain your integrity; and (5) trust him with your life
It took me about 5 seconds on Google to reveal the bullshit in this statement.
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)-- Christian aid workers were closely monitoring the situation in Kenya Saturday, February 11, amid reports that Christians are starving as famine spreads across the African nation and nearby countries, effecting millions of people.
I guess these starving Kenyans just didn't "learn to be content" enough. Maybe these rules only apply to American Christians? Even on an infinitely more superficial level, Christians every day lose their homes because of financial troubles. That's far from God "meeting all your financial needs".

This is my favorite part:
Worry is really just a form of atheism. Every time you worry, you’re acting like an atheist. You’re saying, “It all depends on me.” That’s just not in the Bible.

Worry is a warning light that you doubt the love of God. Yet, the Bible says God “provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.” (Psalm 111:5, NIV)
Rick Warren (the writer of this article), just like Jesus, forgets to add any qualifiers to this statement. Some things are perfectly healthy to worry about. "Am I going to get hit by a bus crossing the street?", that worry causes you to look both ways. If you worry about your financial situation, you're probably more likely to keep a budget. In short, it does depend on you.
And the book of Romans tells us that God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for you to pay for your salvation. If God loves you enough to send his own son to die for you, don’t you think he loves you enough to take care of your bills?
If God doesn't love people enough to prevent children from dying agonizing deaths from cancer, I don't think he's going to bat an eye if you can't pay your credit card bill. Please, work to make your life better (even if you have to worry a little), don't wait for God to do it for you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

331: Obama was Sent by God, The Bible Says So

Romans 11-13
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." - Romans 13:1

Paul spends the entirety of chapter 11 explaining that the Israelites aren't bad people. In fact, Paul says that it was because Israel was so bad that God had to give salvation to everyone. So the gentiles only received salvation as a result of God trying to give the Israelites salvation? A better question is why he didn't God foresee all this trouble and give salvation to everyone sooner? It seems that a lot of people are burning in eternal hellfire just because they didn't have the privilege of being born after Jesus.

In chapter 12, Paul says since we have received God's mercy that we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices. After we do this, and "transform" our minds, we will be able to test and see God's pleasing and perfect will. I see how this works, you simply have to accept that God's will is pleasing and perfect (by accepting Jesus), then you will be able to see that God's will is pleasing and perfect. By those criteria, I can prove anything to you.

We then have another section that some Christians conveniently forget to read. Paul says that we should bless those who persecute us, and that we should live in harmony with one another. Of course, living in harmony requires acceptance of other's beliefs/practices, which seems to be a problem with some Christians (I'm looking at you, Pat Robertson, Westboro Baptist Church, etc.).

Paul then goes on to say that we should not repay evil for evil, and we should be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. Everybody? I don't think anything can be right in the eyes of everybody. He also says that we should not take revenge on anyone, but instead allow for God's wrath. I guess George Bush didn't quite get to this part of the bible.

Finally, chapter 13 is all about obeying government officials. This is because, Paul says, no authority comes to power without God. I'm curious what God saw in Hitler that he made him come to power. Paul even says that anyone who rebels against government authority is actually rebelling against God. Christians seem to be great at following (and quoting) this passage, until a Democrat is the president.

Paul ends chapter 13 by saying that all of the commandments are summed up by "love your neighbor as yourself". I'm curious where stone the gays/sabbath breakers/adulterers, falls in with "love your neighbor as yourself".

*News*
Does religion give you some sort of exemption from violent crime? A New Jersey judge seems to think so:
She said on Nov. 16, 2008 her husband ordered her to strip naked and said, "Now we're going to start punishing you. Then he started to pinch my private areas." She said that while she cried, her husband proceeded to engage in non-consensual sex that was very painful to her.

The wife told family court her husband said, "This is according to our religion. You are my wife, I can do anything to you."

An imam who testified at the family court hearing agreed, saying a wife must comply with her husband's sexual needs, but noted that he is forbidden from approaching her "like any animal," according to court records.
The judge heard the evidence of this rape, and ruled this:
But in his ruling, Charles, a former assemblyman and state senator, said he did not feel the husband "had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault . He was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was consistent with his practices and was something that was not prohibited."
He had the intent to have sex with someone against their will. I don't see the judge's hesitation. How much more intent to sexually assault can you have? It also says in the bible that rapists are obligated to marry their rape victims. Would this ass hole back that up too because it's "consistent with practices". We can go even further with this, it says in the bible (and surely in the Quran as well) that's it's ok to stone people for a number of reasons. That's also "consistent with his practices" does he get off for that too?

This is the very reason that those crazy Christians are afraid Sharia law is going to take over America if we start letting people build Mosques. It's unfathomable to me that any real judge would actually support the idea of Sharia law exempting anyone.

Thankfully, the appellate judge isn't an idiot:
The appellate court reversal on July 23 states that Charles recognized "the case thus presents a conflict between the criminal law and religious precepts.

"In resolving this conflict, the judge determined to except (sic) defendant from the operation of the state's statutes as the result of his religious belief. In doing so, the judge was mistaken."
"Relativistic morality" wins again. Yes, Christians, that "objective morality" you tout, when applied in Islam allows people to rape their wives. When you understand why you reject the "objective morality" of Islam you will understand why I reject your objective morality.

(via NJ.com)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

330: Paul Agrees, God is a Douche

Romans 8-10
"For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." - Romans 9:17-18

Paul's rant seems to get longer and more mind bending by the day.

Paul starts out chapter 8 by talking more about sinful nature vs. the Spirit. He says that you are either saved through the Spirit of Jesus (the Holy Spirit?) or you are controlled by your sinful nature. This sinful nature, as Paul previously defined, is laid out in the Old Testament laws.

Paul continues on, saying that if we live with the holy spirit we will never die, and if we don't we will die. I'll assume he means to say that we'll live an eternal spiritual life as opposed to physical life, but he never actually says this. Paul conveniently leaves out any mention of hell. Why isn't he warning us about the eternal hellfire if we don't believe in Jesus?

This is where it gets interesting. Paul says, "It [morality?] does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy". He uses the example of Pharaoh, and how God hardened Pharaoh's heart (preventing him from freeing the Israelites) so that God could glorify his name (through plagues). Paul seems to have just shat all over the idea of "free will".

First of all, thanks for backing me up Paul. Whenever I bring up the God hardening Pharaoh's heart incident I'm invariably met with, "No no no no, you're reading it wrong/taking it out of context/not translating it right/trying to find fault with the bible" (example). Paul is clearly saying here that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Either admit that God did it, or admit that Paul doesn't know what he's talking about.

Paul then tries to vindicate God, he asks the hypothetical question, "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?". Man, Paul explains to himself, has no place questioning God. He says this would be like a potter's lump of clay talking back to him.

The problem with this example is that no clay actually does talk back to it's pot maker. To relate this to my own field, if I could create a sentient computer, wouldn't it have the right to not be enslaved or unreasonably punished? If I somehow tortured my sentient computer, would that be intrinsically moral just because I created it? I don't think so. But I also wouldn't form my creation so that it was unable to detect me and left to forever ponder my existence. So I guess Yahweh and I have some fundamental disagreements.

Chapter 10 is all about salvation through Jesus (again). Paul says that Jesus was the end of the law. But wait, I thought we had to live out the law so that we won't be slaves to sin. In a way we're still bound by Old Testament laws, because if we're being "slaves to sin" we can't be slaves to the Holy Spirit. With this logic, Jesus hasn't really done anything. I think Paul's blathering may have scrambled my brain.

Paul then asks some very good questions:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?
This is essentially my question of how tribal people/Iranians can be saved by Jesus if they've never heard of him. Unfortunately, Paul just answers this by quoting an OT passage that says that the word of Christ has gone "to the ends of the world". This simply isn't true.

*News*
I don't even know what to say about this one:
I am not a religious person but I realize religion’s importance to provide moral guideposts for a civilized society.
So this is someone who's not religious, saying that people can't be moral without religion. Go on:
The smear and vitriol that some on the Left have heaped on religion, especially Christianity, has brought us to what they gleefuly call “a post-biblical period.” They go back centuries to the Crusades and the Salem Witch Trials as examples of religious abuse. However, they say little about the moral vacuum they have created. We have rampant crime, STDs, drug addiction, divorce and many unwed mothers. Then there is the putrid stench of corruption in the federal government and some of our state governments so pervasive that to correct it will be tantamount to cleaning the Augean Stables. Much of big corporate America is just as bad, but the government’ answer is more regulations.
First of all, there's no evidence that rampant crimes have anything to do with atheism. As for STD's and unwed mothers, wasn't it the religious organizations championing the ineffective "abstinence only" education programs? I'm also finding a few websites that say atheist divorce rates are considerably lower than that of the religious in general. The writer then descends into a political argument. Government is corrupt? How is that an argument for religion?
I believe that morality is the glue of society and if we Americans cannot agree between us on what is right or wrong, then Big Brother will.
Who does this guy think is deciding what is right and wrong right now? One of the biggest duties of any government is to make and enforce laws. This could be a news flash, but God doesn't descend to punish criminals. If he did there would probably be a lot more dead adulterers/Sabbath breakers.

America has decided what's right and wrong (the Constitution?). "Big Brother" does enforce the laws that our Representatives have decided on. I don't think people deserve to be in jail for breaking the Sabbath laws, or being an adulterer. It's time to reject these biblical "morals" and start embracing true morality that actually cares about humanity.

 

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