Monday, May 28, 2012

Still Alive

Just a quick note to answer the couple of people wondering if this project is still alive.
Quick answer: Yes!
Longer answer: Between work, minor surgery/recovery and a few weeks of enjoying NOT reading the bible, I'll be starting the Gospel of John in the next few days.

I have to admit that my interest in reading the New Testament is waning and the next few months could be a struggle.  But, we must all soldier on and face our burdens in life, and when we finish, we'll all get cake.  It's so delicious and moist!

In the mean time, enjoy some Jonathan Coulton!

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

More thinking leads to less god

Here is an article from Scientific American that correlates critical thinking ability to religious belief.
While I do think (and other studies have shown) that a person's knowledge of science, and their ability to think critically is proportional to their belief in unproven claims, I don't think this study was particularly strong.  Still it's worth a read for no other reason that it conforms to my belief system. ;-)

Analytic thinking can undermine belief

I'll be back reading the damn book this week.  The Gospel of John should be interesting because it's based on hearsay, based on hearsay.  At least that's what I heard.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Have you ever changed your opinion?

There's been a discussion in the previous post regarding our beliefs being prejudiced and biased.  I think this goes without saying, as we are the collective of what we are taught, think and observe.

But, have you ever had a deep held belief in which you've turned around on?
What made you change?
If you study a topic you believe in, do you also research/read the opposing opinions?

I was raised Catholic and went to church regularly as well as a Catholic grade school.  God/Jesus was an everyday thing for me. When I became a teenager, like many, I became interested in supernatural subjects like ghosts, ESP, UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle.  The movie The Exorcist came out when I was 13 and I was obsessed with demonic possession.  I read everything  I could on the subject.
I was convinced all these things were real and happening around me.  My parents chuckled and told me to think about these subjects critically.  They asked me to look for actually evidence and to look for other possible explanations to specific events.
They were very patient!
But, over the next 4-5 years, as I matured and learned, I did start asking the questions "Why?" and "How?"  I started learning about the world around me. With a little education, a lot of the supernatural disappeared.
One day I asked my mom why we should believe in a god when the natural world could be explained by natural processes (I probably didn't use those words.  And I most likely just didn't want to go to church.).  She didn't have an answer and gave me the official Catholic Church response.  "Don't ask questions." I found out that when it came to her faith, she didn't practice what she preached.

Long story short, I fell in love with science in high school and religion became less important to me.  I went to college wanting to become a NASA engineer and received AA degrees in Physics and Psychology before deciding that Video Production and Film History was the direction my career would lead.  I became an 'official' Atheist my last year in Catholic college when I took a class called Atheism and Religion.

But you ask, have I changed my mind on scientific subjects?  Yes.

In the past, I questioned man's impact on Earth's climate.  Our environment changes at a fairly slow pace and we have such a small data set of weather conditions over the last 125 years to draw on.  But, as more information is collected and as the amount of change has become (practically) logarithmic, it's became pretty clear that man can have a huge impact on his environment.

I also would like to believe in multi-verses and that idea that more then four dimensions exist.  It would make our 'uni'-verse infinitely more wondrous.  But, alas there is no actual evidence for them (yet).  They only exist in mathematical constructs which, like Zeno's Paradoxes, are open to logical errors.

When I look at the universe without a god, I see a place even more exciting and beautiful then the one I saw with a god!  Having no predetermined 'purpose' or 'meaning' give us infinite possibilities to explore and find our own purpose and meaning!

Morality is a human construct.  We've developed a social order over tens of thousands of years in order to live together and prosper.  Our values have shifted over the millennia.  It obviously doesn't work perfectly but it's gotten us this far.
A world with god and religion is indistinguishable but a world without (apart from the churches of course).  Just as many horrible, bloody acts of violence have been committed by the followers of gods as by those who commit horrible acts to fulfill their own needs.  And just as much good.  You can be good without god.

What's your story?
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Gospel of Luke 21-24 You don't say

Luke 21-24

The re-retelling of parables and end times predictions.

Once again Jesus sets up the prophesy of his death and resurrection by pissing off the powers that be and getting himself arrested

We learn that Judas was possessed by Satan before he betrayed Jesus and didn't do it willingly.
This feels like a  huge cop-out on the part of the storytellers in that it takes the human element out of the story.  Jesus wasn't really betrayed by an apostile/friend.

Jesus shares bread and wine with his followers.  Two thousand years later, some literalists believe that bread and wine blessed by a priest turns into the body and blood of Jesus.  Still, it's not as stupid as believing that if you trust in god hard enough, you won't die from a viper bite...

I need to bring up something that's kind of bugged me for a while.  Jesus tells Peter that he will deny knowing Jesus three times.  But, Jesus denies himself repeatedly when on trial!

22:70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

23:3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
23:9 Then he (Herod) questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

What did Jesus have to gain by being snarky to these questions and not being upfront about his "Son of God" status?  If he said he WAS the messiah, they still would have killed him!

Oh, and what the hell is wrong with Christians who hate the Jews because "They killed our Lord".  Did they not read the bible?  Are they just really stupid?  Both?  If the people of Jerusalem (the Jews) didn't call for Jesus' crucifixion, Christians wouldn't have a religion, or, more ironically, they'd be Jews themselves!!!

But I digress.  Jesus doesn't defend himself in court and is sentenced to death.  He is mocked and beaten on the way so that Catholic churches would have something to hang on the walls (The stations of the cross for those non-Catholics reading this).

Getting nailed to a cross is a heinous act, but I find the part where the soldiers give Jesus vinegar to drink while he's hanging there, dying to be almost as horrid.  The Romans were dicks.

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus says;
23:41 ... for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
I'm guessing that a dying man nailed to a cross didn't actually say this!  

Jesus dies and is taked by Joseph of Arimathaea and his maidens.
23:56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

They must have missed the part when Jesus said you no longer have to observe the sabbath, or did that just pertain to eating corn?

But, all is well that ends well.  Jesus comes back from the dead, is reunited with his friends, tells them 'I told you so!' and then rises to heaven.  We all live happily ever after until God decides it's time to kill all of us non-believers.

The Skeptics Annotated Bible has several interesting lists of contradictions regarding the crucifixion and resurrection in the right margin.  What do you think?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Rebirth Weekend!!!

Happy Ishtar, Eostre, Astarte, Ostera, Easter, Passover to all the supernatural believing folks and a happy Sunday to the rest of you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gospel of Luke 16-20

Luke 16-20

So, A rich guy dies and goes to hell and a poor guy goes to heaven.
Why? because the rich guy was rich and the poor guy was poor.  At least that's the only information we get from the parable.
The rich guy also seems like a nice guy, trying to warn his family of the horrors that await.

This line seems to say 'Forgive those who do wrong against you only if the they say are sorry.'  I'm I mis-interpreting this?

17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Jesus tells us we don't have to be gracious to others (and he seems to endorse slavery).
17:7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
17:9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Jesus is a little disappointed that only one leper in ten thanked him for being cured.  I would be too.

The Son of Man tells us that we won't see the end of the world coming.  Just like humans before the flood and the good folks in Sodom, we'll be happily going along with our daily lives when all hell breaks loose.  maybe literally.

I think Jesus' message is clear, 'Eat, drink, go shopping and be merry because today could be your last."

I found this nugget very interesting;
18:20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
Jesus list five commandments of the ten.  Which ones?  The ones that have nothing to do with god.  
Jesus was a Humanist!!!

19:30-37 repeats the story of Jesus taking something that doesn't belong to him, breaking a commandment that HE JUST SAID we should keep!  

I'll also again point out that Jesus is deliberately and consciously fulfilling the known prophesies.
'This is what the OT prophets said would happen, therefore, that's what I'm going to do.'  Hardly a sign of divinity.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Here is a short NPR interview with Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, who wrote a book called
Did Jesus exist? A historian makes his case

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