so i am the only atheist in my whole family. my Grandmother is agnostic but the rest of the family is made up of Catholics, Born Again Christians, Evangelicals, and Baptists… so naturally i often get into some crazy discussions with various members of my family. Today i received this in a fan mail message from one of those family members and i thought it’d be fun to share it with all of you as well as my response. anyhow have a look.
message from family member:
Why do most Christians pick and choose which Old Testament verses to fit their views (Leviticus 18:22 for homosexuality and 1 Corinthians 6:13 for premarital sex etc) but conveniently ignore others like Leviticus 19:27 (don’t get haircuts) or 1 Timothy 2:12 (women shouldn’t talk) and so on. I thought Jesus’ teaching and death replaced all the OT teachings so why are they always brought up like theyre relevant?
The key to understanding this issue is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on us today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).
In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” Old and New Testament law. (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the sacrificial system, He fulfilled all of it.
“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). Obviously, if we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us. God bless you!!! :):)
Let’s try to look at the Bible as though you have never seen it before.
Imagine that we are good friends. One day we are talking:
Me: Wow, you will not believe this new book I’ve been reading!
You: What’s it about?
Me: It is a manual for living a better life. It is also a guide to creating a better society for ourselves and our children. It has changed my life!
You: That sounds like an important book. Who wrote it?
Me: The author is supposed to be the smartest person in the universe.
You: That’s amazing — if the author is the smartest person in the universe, the book must be absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait to see it. Do you have a copy with you?
Me: Absolutely! I carry it with me everywhere I go! Here, have a look for yourself…
You open the book to a random page, and you find this:
Any of the people of Israel, or of the aliens who reside in Israel, who give any of their offspring to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone them to death. I myself will set my face against them, and will cut them off from the people, because they have given of their offspring to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. And if the people of the land should ever close their eyes to them, when they give of their offspring to Molech, and do not put them to death, I myself will set my face against them and against their family, and will cut them off from among their people, them and all who follow them in prostituting themselves to Molech.
If any turn to mediums and wizards, prostituting themselves to them, I will set my face against them, and will cut them off from the people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes, and observe them; I am the Lord; I sanctify you. All who curse father or mother shall be put to death; having cursed father or mother, their blood is upon them.
If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbour, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. [Leviticus, chapter 20]
You are not quite sure what to say. You look at me for a moment.
You: I thought you said that this is written by the most intelligent person in the universe. If we are going to follow what this author says, we have to kill half the people in America. We are supposed to kill everyone who has cursed his father or mother, everyone who has committed adultery, and every homosexual.
Me: Well, that’s in the old testament, you see. The book is really two books, and the “old” part of the book doesn’t really apply.
You: Are you saying that the smartest person in the universe once wanted us to kill every adulterer and homosexual, but then changed his mind? That somehow makes it better? If the “old part” no longer applies, then why did you hand it to me when I asked to see the book?
Me: Well, parts of it do apply.
You: Didn’t you just tell me that it doesn’t apply?
You open the book to another random page and you find this:
When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person’, then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.
Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee. But if someone wilfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution.
Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.
Whoever kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death. Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death.
When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery.
When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property. [Exodus, chapter 21]
Again, you are dumfounded. Here the author of the book is advocating slavery, the branding of slaves, and the wholesale beating of slaves. You are not quite sure what to say. You look at me for a moment.
You: You have to be kidding me. Here the “smartest person in the universe” is telling us that slavery is OK and that we are free to beat our slaves.
You open the book to another random page and you find this:
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. [1 Timothy, chapter 2]
You are nearly speechless. But you manage to find your voice.
You: Is this some kind of joke? “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” That is totally sexist! In America, there are millions of female teachers and we have women throughout our corporate and govenment hierarchies. No intelligent person believes that women should be silenced.
As you page through the book further you find that it is totally sexist from beginning to end.
You keep opening the book to random pages, and nearly everything you find is utter nonsense. Either it is meaningless, completely irrelevant, disgusting or downright wrong.
If you are a scientist it is even worse, and it starts with the very first line:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…
That’s not true. In the beginning a natural event created the universe as we know it, and the earth did not form until billions of years later. The creation story in Genesis is completely wrong. Simply read Genesis and you can see it. For example, the Bible says that light and darkness are created after the water but before the sun. Everyone knows that the sun came first, then the planet and its rotation (which is what causes light and darkness to occur on a daily basis) and then the water, and this all happened over million of years. There are many other problems with the Bible:
Man did not come from a handful of dust through some mythological being. Man evolved from other species like every other living thing has for hundreds of millions of years.
The Bible talks about a world-wide flood that covered earth in 5.5 miles of water and killed everything, yet we know it never happened. That is clear from the archeolgical record.
There was no tower of Babble.
The list goes on and on. The Bible is nonsense in a thousand different scientific ways.
Ask yourself this simple question: Why, when you read the Bible, are you not left in awe? Why doesn’t a book written by an omniscient being leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement? If you are reading a book written by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe, wouldn’t you expect to be stunned by the brilliance, the clarity and the wisdom of the author? Would you not expect each new page to intoxicate you with its incredible prose and its spectacular insight? Wouldn’t you expect the author to tell us things that scientists have not been able to discover yet?
Yet, when we open the Bible and actually read it, we find it is nothing like that at all. Instead of leaving us in awe, it leaves us dumbfounded by all of the nonsense and backwardness that it contains. If you would look at the Bible fresh, and read what it actually says, you find that the Bible is ridiculous. The examples shown above barely scratch the surface of the Bible’s numerous problems. If we are honest with ourselves, it is obvious that an “all-knowing” God had absolutely nothing to do with this book.
The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by primitive men. A book that advocates senseless murder, slavery and the oppression of women has no place in our society today. It is time for us to recognize this simple fact.
*much of my response was referenced from http://whywontgodhealamputees.com
I think Mormonism is a hysterical con, invented by a swindler to get pussy.
Understanding original sinThe story about Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Bible’s book of Genesis is very important to Christians. This story, also known as “the fall of man” and “original sin,” is so important because it explains a great many things about Christianity and the Christian God.
For example, the story of “original sin” explains why an omnipotent God allows so much suffering to occur on our planet. It also explains why Jesus needed to come to earth to be crucified. It explains why human childbirth is so painful. It explains why human nature can be, at times, so cruel and evil. It explains the sacrament of baptism. According to this page:
[original sin is] The sin of Adam and Eve, the essential event of the Fall of Man. According to the most common teaching of Christians, all descendants of Adam and Eve — that is, all people — share in this sin and are, from the time they are conceived, in a state of sin. In German, the term used is Erbsunde, meaning “inherited sin,” a more explanatory term than the English one. Jesus, through his Crucifixion and Resurrection, atoned for original sin. All who believe in Jesus and accept baptism are freed from original sin and experience salvation.
The question that we will explore in this article is a simple one: is the Bible’s story of original sin valid? Does this story, whether it is literally true or not, have any importance to mankind? The goal is to help Christians to look at the story of original sin from a fresh perspective and analyze its meaning.
The Creation Story
“The fall of man” starts with the creation of man. Genesis 2:7 describes the actual creation process in this way:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
After creating man, the Bible says that God moved man into the Garden of Eden:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the Garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’
Here we are faced with an enigma — a talking snake. From a scientific standpoint this snake is impossible. There is no such thing as a talking snake. Snakes (and reptiles in general) have neither the physical structure nor the brain power to speak. There simply are not enough neurons in the reptile brain to process language.
Even in the context of the story, the talking snake is a bit hard to swallow. The story seems to be saying that God created not one but two sentient species — humans and serpents. Yet the Bible makes no mention of the serpent’s creation nor does God provide any warning to the serpent to stay away from the tree.
Let us ignore this as a quibble as well. Perhaps the serpent is God’s way of personifying Satan in the story.
After Adam and Eve disobey God and eat from the fruit of the tree, here is what happens:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’
And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I told you not to eat from?’ ”
- God is the all-knowing creator of everything. The questions he asks in this passage — why does God ask them? Since God is all-knowing, he already knows the answers. For example, something as simple as “Where are you?” is unnecessary for an all-knowing being. God knows EVERYTHING, so there is no need for him to ask any question of anyone. Let’s dismiss that with the thought that God is playing the role of the coy parent in this scene.
- If you take the “omniscient” train of thought a little further, you realize this: Since God is all-knowing, it means that at the moment that God put the tree into the garden, his omniscience would allow him to instantly know the entire course of human history. He could foresee every single person’s birth, life and death in full detail at that moment. If God did not like what he knew that Adam would do, then why did God set it up that way? And why would God be at all surprised by what happens?
- Most people also wonder about the tree. The tree is called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Therefore, Adam and Eve would not have any knowledge of good and evil until they ate from the tree. So how would they know the difference between right and wrong until they ate the fruit? In other words, they had to eat the fruit before they would know that it was wrong to eat the fruit. If someone doesn’t have any knowledge of right and wrong, how can the person commit a sin? And how can you punish the person for doing wrong?
- Most people also wonder about human nature. God created Adam, so God designed the placement of every cell in Adam’s body and brain. Therefore God knows all about human nature, and how Adam and Eve will think and react in every situation — God is the one who created human nature. Certainly God had an omniscient reason for creating human nature in the way that he did.
When you read this story and really think about it, you realize that Adam and Eve are a very special case. Look at it this way. When normal people like you and me are born as babies, we know absolutely nothing. We have to learn about our native language, culture, rules, laws, history, etc. from our parents over the course of many years. Adam, on the other hand, is created from the dust of the earth. Like Frosty the snowman, Adam, “came to life one day.” The instant that he is created in the Bible, Adam is an adult who can speak and think.
This raises a number of questions about Adam’s state of mind:
- Where did Adam’s initial language come from? God must have pre-programmed that in.
- Where did Adam get his knowledge of how to eat, how to drink, how to bathe, how to walk, etc.? All of these skills normally come after several years of training. God must have pre-programmed them into Adam too.
- Where did Adam learn how to respond in conversation, how to be polite, how to interact with others, etc.? Normally a parent teaches all of these social skills as well. God must have pre-programmed them into Adam.
- How old is Adam? Did God pre-program Adam at the level of a 5-year-old? A 10-year-old? A teenager? A twenty-something? A middle-aged man? A senior citizen? The Bible does not say, but it is important. If God has pre-programmed Adam at the level of a five-year-old, or even a teenager, then it would be hard to get too mad at Adam for making a mistake. Five-year-olds and teens make mistakes constantly — that’s how they learn. On the other hand, if God has pre-programmed Adam at the level of a twenty-something, then Adam’s entire world view, attitude, moral code, political stances, attitudes toward women (see chapter 15) and so on have been pre-set by God. By age 25, most humans have been through 12 years of school plus college, they have dated a number of people and are married, etc., so they have stored a huge amount of information and experience in their brains. Albert Einstein at age 26 was married, had a child and had finished the theory of relativity. God could have programmed Adam with the same level on knowledge, understanding and experience that Einstein had at age 26. In that case Adam might have made different decisions, and humanity would have advanced technologically at a remarkable pace.
So why is God surprised in any way by the events that unfold in the garden, and why is there any need to punish mankind? Since God is the one who created and pre-programmed all of the actors, God made all of the decisions on what would happen in Eden. When God asks “Have you eaten from the tree that I told you not to eat from?”, why bother asking? God programmed it to happen. God can see the full swath of history — billions of years forward and backward down to the atomic level. That is what omniscience is all about. God created Adam and Eve, God pre-programmed Adam and Eve, so God knows exactly what Adam, Eve and the serpent will do together. Adam and Eve were doomed from the very beginning.
This is what makes the creation story and the notion of “original sin” seem so ridiculous to non-Christians. Adam did not “sin.” For one thing, Adam would have no way to know what a sin is until he ate the fruit. For another, Adam had no control whatsoever over what he did and therefore it was not a “sin” to act that way.
Responding to God
If Adam was smart, what he would say to God in response to a question like, “What are you doing?” is something like this:
“Look, God, you tell me. You are the one who created me. You are the one who arranged the neurons in my brain. You are the one who created human nature. You are the one who pre-programmed me with my language, my knowledge of the world, my code of ethics and everything else. You are also the one who created and pre-programmed Eve, and you are the one who created and pre-programmed a talking serpent. You have absolute control over every single thing that is happening here. You are the one who can see billions of years into the past and the future. You tell me — what am I doing? Quite obviously, I am doing exactly what you designed and programmed me to do. How could I possibly do anything else?”
“You know, Adam, you are right. I created you. I arranged every cell in your body and brain. I created human nature. And I pre-programmed you, just as you say. I know exactly how you think and what you will do in every situation. In addition, since I am all-knowing and beyond time, I can see exactly, nanosecond by nanosecond, how your life will proceed. I can see, in exact nanosecond detail, how the lives of the trillions of people who will follow you will unfold. I know everything. I understand everything. I am perfect. In creating you the way I did, I did so perfectly and with complete foreknowledge. I understand exactly why you ate from the tree. In fact, I already knew exactly what you would do when I planted the tree. I am glad that you now understand the difference between good and evil. Otherwise I would not have put the tree there. ”
“I will greatly increase your pains in Childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.”
Adam is punished in a similar way — God convicts Adam and gives him the death sentence. Post-fruit, God says:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you will return.”
It is hard to imagine the relationship with God getting any worse than this, but it does. Just three pages later, here is what God has to say about the human race:
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the Earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth — men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air — for I am grieved that I have made them.’”
When you think about it like this, you cannot miss the huge problem with the Bible. The Bible is supposed to be the error-free product of a perfect, omniscient being. Everything you have been told since birth tells you that the Bible is the perfect word of God. However, your common sense tells you something far different. When you actually read the Bible, what you find is that it is ridiculous. None of this happened. None of it came from God. All of it is a fairy tale. The Bible, quite obviously, was written by primitive men rather than God. “Original sin” is completely meaningless because it is an ancient fable. With that realization you come to understand many other things as well, as discussed in detail in the book.
What I would ask you to do is simply think about the Bible and the creation story as a rational human being. Read the book to learn more.
30 Days: Christian / Atheist # 3
30 Days: An unscripted, documentary-style program (from Morgan Spurlock) where an individual is inserted into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion or profession for 30 days. In this documentary: an atheist mother living 30 Days with a Christian family. Enjoy It. Part #3.
30 Days: Christian / Atheist # 2
30 Days: An unscripted, documentary-style program (from Morgan Spurlock) where an individual is inserted into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion or profession for 30 days. In this documentary: an atheist mother living 30 Days with a Christian family. Enjoy It. Part 2.
30 Days: Christian / Atheist # 1
30 Days: An unscripted, documentary-style program (from Morgan Spurlock) where an individual is inserted into a lifestyle that is completely different from his or her upbringing, beliefs, religion or profession for 30 days. In this documentary: an atheist mother living 30 Days with a Christian family. Enjoy It. Part #1.
Bertrand Russell on God (1959)
Nobel Prize-winning philosopher/mathematician, Bertrand Russell, explains why he does not believe in God.
Religion does three things quite effectively: Divides people, Controls people, Deludes people.