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Some thoughts on the misconceptions regarding disbelief

Created on Sunday, March 6, 2011      Bookmark and Share

I recently posted a link to a CNN article on my facebook wall (link here). The author of the article talks about how - after much research and careful scrutiny - he believes that the Bible condemns homeosexual behavior. From my own readings I would probably agree with him, although as we all know you can slice and dice the bible to back up your own dislikes. Susan B. Anthony told us this a hundred years ago when women were the ones being suppressed. Women had it even worse because the Bible is littered with misogyny and you don't have to do a lot of research to find it (here is a good reference).

The rest of the thread went like they often do. Invariably I was asked why I'm so fascinated with God and some other things. I thought I'd take a minute to post a few of the questions/statements here as I think they are interesting.
I never liked the God of the old testament, he was a nasty, controlling tyrant, too many rules, violence and death of innocents. The new testament is more about love and forgiveness of ALL people no matter who they are, it's easier to stomach. The Bible should be used as a reference I think, not as a guide to totally live by

This is a great example of how religion really is believing what makes you comfortable. What the author of this statement misses is that the OT and the NT are linked together. They aren't two different books, they are a continuation of the story. The OT prophesied a messiah and numerous men of that era claimed to be that person. The authors of the NT had to make the Jesus story fit what the OT said would happen (hence the need to put the birth in Bethlehem, something we can actually prove could not have happened).

Anyway, I'm off point. Are there good things in the NT? Sure, there are. But that's the thing - we don't need it as a guide. We know all of the things to do because we were taught them in kindergarten. Be nice to people. Say thank you. Allow people to be who they are. Both you or I could sit down right now and write something infinitely better (and far more readable) than what was written and none of it would include "follow me and you'll be ok". Besides, if you say that you shouldn't use the bible as a guide then you are going against what Jesus is supposed to have said. That's trying to have it both ways.

And remember - Jesus was put on the Earth to spread the word of God. That word was the Old Testament.
The Bible can justify almost every bigoted evil if you look hard enough, find the right translation & forget the entire POINT of God's teachings.

In a word, no. I could go in a lot of directions here. For example, it isn't so much the translations that are problematic. The contradictions between the accounts of the very basic part of the stories are reason enough to discount all of it (not to mention the fact that we don't know who wrote them but we do know they were written decades after Jesus - if he lived - would have died).
People can translate that (the belief that homosexuality is a sin) in many ways! I know what it means to mean and that is what matters to me. But i would never say that any religion has tainted this world!!

But when those personal religious beliefs are applied to the rights of someone else, what matters to you suddenly becomes an issue. That was the point that the original post was conveying.

The one thing you are being is judgemental. Do u have your degree in Theology? I dont know if you even realize it but you are trying to get people to believe what you believe and you say that Christians are the only one's that do that!

I merely layed out what the Bible says and how that has played out in our history. We see glimpses of that in the way women are treated in in muslim countries. After all, both religions come from the same Old Testament teachings. We were talking about Christianity in particular so I commented on that.
There are many different type of Dinominations (sic) of Christianity and if the bad didn't happen in the old testament then no good would have ever came out of it!!

So you're saying that the New Testament was kind of like a superhero that righted the wrongs of the Old Testament? My friend, that's the first time I've ever heard that take. Jesus was supposedly put on the Earth to teach the word of God. That word IS the Old Testament (reference here).
For a person who doesn' believe in God sure does talk about him alot!

We secularists/atheists hear this a lot. Please note that I say "secularist" first because that's what I consider myself first and foremost. The word "atheist" is really meaningless because it describes the disbelief in something. I reject the idea of the theological god. It has been said that you're also an atheist. There have been roughly 10,000 Gods in the history of humanity and you reject all but one. I just go one god further than you do.

Anyway, back to the point. My point with these kinds of posts is not to diss religion. If you take nothing else from all of this I hope that you see that. My point is to push humanity further along. In the case of homosexuality, the secularists (atheists and believers) have to fight what these ancient books tell us. I have to reference religion because that is what is shackling us in this discussion.

My point in bringing up the history of Christianity in our country was to reference the fact that 100 years ago people like me fought the same fight for women. The Bible is clear on few things but its dislike of women would be one of those things. If you were born a hundred years ago would you gladly have gone along with what it said? Of course not and that is why I referenced it.
Furthermore, we all choose our own path and what we believe, doesn't mean i have to agree with you or you agree with me, but don't try to make it sound like your way is the only way!!!

Once again, that is one of the points that you and many other believers seem to miss when this conversation comes up. Atheists are not out trying to convert people. We're not trying to push our agenda into public life. This is all about the struggle against people trying to push their religious belief into law and schools. I am a huge supporter of the right to worship but I am also a huge supporter of the separation of church and state. I think the proof is in the pudding - every day we see more believers joining the fight to keep religion out of public life because of how dangerous it can be. What you do in the privacy of your own home does not interest me in the least.
What i dont understan is how something that happened over 2000yrs ago is still destroying our world, yet not once did i hear ou say anything about all the people that rape kids and kill them, people,children going on shooting sprees killing many.

I do find it interesting that you said that you can't understand how something that happened 2,000 years ago is affecting our world when you're a believer in that very story :-).

Please keep in mind that I did not say that religion is the root of all evil (although many do believe this). I said that religion has been a HUGE stain on humanity and has been the source of much evil. Clearly many evils were committed for reasons other than religious belief.
You may want to read more into the bible to see the truth of what is said about who is going to hell and not!!

Actually, I've done this. There is no greater source for disbelief than the Bible itself. There is very little written about the idea of hell and what is said is very vague. That is why the various denominations have such different ideas about what it is. Like everything else in the Bible, if it was clear there wouldn't need to be so much guesswork.

More importantly, I've done reading outside of the Bible. The themes about the afterlife that are talked about in the Bible were directly lifted from the beliefs of the Egyptians and some of the pagan religions of that time. Each new religion is just a new take on what the previous religions have done. All of the themes in the bible - son of God, virgin birth, resurrection, etc - were done many times by other religions. If you believe your religion to be true then you must acknowledge that it coincidentally looks like all of the other ones.

What I can prove is that there further we get away from the bigotry, misogyny and hatred that is condoned (and demanded) in these holy books the better off we all are.
I could get technical and start resighting (sic) things that have happened in the old and new testament but for me that is not needed.

I purposely left this one for last. The one thing I haven't really done is approached this topic from the standpoint of the truthfulness of a religion. Once again, my goal is to keep religion out of public life so I generally shy away from those kinds of arguments because I really don't care what people do in their own homes.

I'll indulge myself a little bit here because you talked about the idea of getting technical. Like you, I was raised with the religious belief and carried that in one form another for much of my life. I had no reason to believe it other than it was introduced to me as a child. We all prayed and had feelings in our gut that came from God, but doesn't every religious person (remember, 10,000 other Gods) have that? Of course they do.

At one point I could no longer avoid something that had been nagging me. What if none of it was true. In religious belief we all just assume that someone else has done the work. Worse, holy men (regardless of which God they pray to) long ago figured out that telling people that "faith is a virtue" would fill in the gaps because there was no proof that any of it happened. If there was proof we wouldn't need faith. So instead they make the whole thing out to be a supernatural game of picaboo. Once again, all religions do this and that says everything you need to know.

So I did the work. I started out by reading and reviewing the books that were pro--Christian. As a thinking person, I was floored. There is absolutely, positively no reason to believe any of it happened. There are tons of documentation about everything that happened at that time (including accounts of other men that claimed to be the messiah) and not a single mention of Jesus or any of the miracles. The pro-Christian books all acknowledge this (please read this again as it is important) so the books have to try to account for why this is. It really is stunning. Here is my review of one such book - I went through their claims one by one.

The point of all of this is that people believe it because they want it to be true. I do not have the ability or the desire to try to comfort myself in these ways. In fact, I'm glad that it isn't true because (as you said earlier) I can't imagine someone convicting not only on my actions but on my thoughts. Christopher Hitchens spelled this out brilliantly - check out the two videos below (they are short).

A couple of years ago we were visiting friends and they were stunned to find out that I was an atheist. They were incredulous that someone could ignore all of the evidence that was out there. I said there was no such evidence. They then asked if I would participate in an exercise where we could lay out the evidence and talk about it. We did this here.

At the end of the day we all fall into one group or another. Either the truth matters to you or it doesn't. I can't imagine basing my entire life on something without investigating whether or not it is true. And that's why what happened (or didn't happen) 2,000 years ago haunts us today. To many people, the want to believe is still too great.

Short Video (Part 1)

Short Video (Part 2)

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