I was raised Catholic and I was taught to believe that God was actually three distinct persons in one, somehow, and this was nebulous. But I was also told that there were a lot of other heavenly characters up there. I don’t believe that prayer is communicating with any sentient being, but a lot of people do believe this.
It is interesting that whenever someone tells me that they prayed and that they received wisdom, all members of the Trinity, and Mary, and all the saints and cherubim all agree with each other on all topics. It’s not like people seeking prayer guidance come away with this result: God says take the new job, whereas Jesus says wait a month and think about it, whereas Mary says go back to school, whereas the chorus of angels sings that you should give it all up and join a commune. It seems like there is a lot of Groupthink going on up there . . .
If one really studies the Bible, one won’t find much, if anything, about homosexuality. One will find plenty of verses telling women to shut up, telling people not to engage in public displays of prayer and telling people to not criticize their politicians.
It’s a good first step, as presented in the NYT:
Mormon leaders have acknowledged for the first time that the church’s founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, portrayed in church materials as a loyal partner to his loving spouse Emma, took as many as 40 wives, some already married and one only 14 years old.
“Apathist”: someone not particularly interested in the God issue. I do think this is the direction in which I’m headed. Much more of a conversation piece than atheist and agnostic. I learned of the word “apathist” while reading Frans de Waal’s FB wall.
I’m often hear Americans state as undeniable fact that Middle East terrorism is caused by religion. Their claim is that Islam is an extraordinarily violent religion, much worse than Christianity. I’m highly suspicious of this claim, recently made by Sam Harris. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that it contains hundreds of episodes of violence, many of them seemingly gratuitous. It is difficult for me to see how the Koran is any more violent than the Bible. Yet there is much violence in the Middle East and numerous commentators will thus conclude, simplistically, that Islam is especially violent and that therefore, Islam is the cause.
This analysis by C.J.Werleman provides some raw numbers and some history to work with.
The Suicide Terrorism Database at Flinders University in Australia, which documents all suicide bombings committed in the Middle East between 1981 and 2006, demonstrates that it is politics, not religious fanaticism that leads terrorists to blow themselves up. This is supported by research conducted at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, which was partly funded by the Defense Department’s Threat Reduction Agency. The authors, Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman, examined more than 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to present. Their research reveals that more than 90 percent of suicide attacks are directed at an occupying force.
We’ve spent the last half century waging and funding wars in the Middle East, playing one side off against the other, stoking ethnic rivalries, and arming regimes that inflict economic oppression upon their people. We’ve encircled the entire region with nearly 50 U.S. military bases and parked an aircraft carrier group permanently at their shores. The 17 Saudi 9/11 hijackers made their intent clear; they wanted the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia.
The belief that Islam is the root of terrorism doesn’t explain how Western-targeted terrorism coincides with the period post oil being discovered in the Middle East during the 1930-’60s and the establishment of the Jewish state on Arab Palestinian land. Harris also ignores the fact that Palestinian Muslims welcomed Zionist Jews in the 19th century. It was only when Jewish settlers began taking their land, and when Jews made it clear they did not wish to share the remaining land, that violence ensued.
A new movie, “God’s Not Dead,” is about to be released. From it, many church-going folks will have their stereotypes about atheists reinforced. Here’s a list provided by Nell Carter at Patheos:
1. Atheist professors are predatory, and they are out to convert everyone into ideological clones of themselves.
2. Atheists are selfish, self-absorbed, greedy jerks.
3. Atheists are cocky, self-sure, and totally enamored with their own superiority.
4. Atheists will openly threaten you, bow up, get in your face, stare you down.
5. Atheists are clearly incapable of love.
6. Atheists lack ethical boundaries.
7. They disbelieve in God because something bad happened to them.
8. Atheists are angry at God. You can just hear it in all of their voices.
9. Atheists are miserable because they believe life is meaningless.
10. Atheists have no basis for morality.
Hemant Mehta, the editor of FriendlyAtheist.com, is launching this book project on Kickstarter. It is a book making the argument that the relationship many have with “God” is like a relationship with an abusive boyfriend.
Our goal is to get people to reconsider their relationship with God. We all know people who feel like they need Him, but we are both atheists who enjoy happy, fulfilling lives without religious faith. We know it’s possible! So this is our way of offering a different perspective on God than the one people usually hear in church. If you’re religious, we hope it nudges you to think differently. If you’re not religious, we hope you find it entertaining and informative.
New video on Atheist TV feature video statements of prominent atheists, including an address given by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists at the group’s 1990 convention. The clips start at about 5:30 min. These were radical statements in the United States in 1990. They are much more commonplace today, though they still aggravate many believers.