Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned

(Today is March 8 and the Miltary Religious Freedom Foundation has called upon people to protest the United StatesAirForceAcademy’s action of using a malicious homophobic amateur website as a source for information on Jewish holidays.  They had no problem in using a neutral website like about.com to use as a link for Christian holidays.  It is a shame that the US Air Force Academy must continue in its religious intolerance and that its leadership still thinks that no one is noticing. General Welsh, homosexuals are allowed in the military now. Time you and your staff got over it.)    

Since Mr. Rogers has apparently been unable to continue to educate me on how “wrong” I supposedly am or to rebut my demonstration of his errors, I thought I’d take one last look at his blog to see if I could mine it for a blog post.  Getting my attention, telling me I’m wrong and then evidently running away when shown wrong just whets this leopard’s appetite for more. 

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets.  Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets. Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

I found a doozyWhat about those who have never heard the gospel?”  It’s a good lead into talking about heaven and hell and free will in this season where myths about people being nailed to crosses as blood sacrifices and first born being murdered by imaginary deities are so popular.  

As a bit of an aside, I don’t believe in complete free will.  I think we are beings limited to the physical and chemical laws of this universe, including the chemicals that we’ve been exposed to that form emotions in our brains.  However, within that, I think we can make mostly free choices if we are educated enough about how emotions, trauma, heredity and upbringing mark our brains and thought processes.  We still can’t decide to fly without mechanical help though, sigh.  The title of this blog entry is a paraphrase of a very good sociology textbook I had way back when.

A lot of Christians and theists in general, have a problem with their god damning anyone who doesn’t believe in it. I’m glad they do since it shows that they are decent and humane people despite their religion. This is also the question a lot of kids ask when they realize that people aren’t all just like them.  They have friends who don’t believe like they do and they care about them. 

This issue gets even more problematic since belief is entirely dependent on where you were born and when. For example, someone born in Alabama, USA isn’t likely to have a Zoroastrian family or be taught Shinto philosophy.  To deal with the problem of divine punishment, we have different claims by different sects. Some sects of Christianity go for universalism, where everyone eventually gets to heaven, even if they have a short stay in hell to correct them.  We have the Roman Catholics who say “well, other religions have at least part of the truth” so maybe they won’t go to hell, but they certainly won’t get *our* afterlife presents.”  Some think that God knows better than humans, and is only concerned if you are a decent, humane person and worship doesn’t matter. Some think that there is no hell, but non-believers are simply annihilated. As you can see, so much for one supposed “truth”. 

In the blog post, Mr. Rogers talks about a book called “Letters from a Skeptic” where a Christian theologian exchanges letter with his father who is a skeptic and who asks the question above (supposedly the father converts).  What’s amusing is that Greg Boyd doesn’t agree with much of what Mr. Rogers claims as the truth.  It’s always a problem with Christians, they find something they like and then have to realize that the book they find really great is by someone who they are sure is going to hell. Again, I would guess that Mr. Rogers would decide that he agrees a little with Mr. Boyd, just like he thinks Mother Teresa was good too, though by his own sects words, she’s going to hell.  She’s probably there anyway, considering that one, she was a hypocrite (link to the paper mentioned, in French only at the moment) and two, she admitted to not feeling any god at all.  I do wonder how they can find the parts that are true and ignore the parts that aren’t.  That ol’ magic decoder ring again, I know. It’s used on the bible so why not use it on heretic writings if you find it convenient? 

Mr. Rogers, to his credit, acknowledges the problems that most Christians have with the idea of being damned for a very silly reason.  He also mentions the usual problem with missionary work, that if you believe that people who haven’t heard of God will go to heaven since they never had a chance to reject God, then the worst thing you can ever do is tell them about God since now they can reject the idea.  However, Mr. Rogers is sure that they’re damned anyway. 

The bible does have an answer for this, at least for some Christians. Romans 2 says if you don’t know the law, you aren’t judged under it.  You simply are beholden to whatever this god can communicate to you through your “heart”.  By this assumption, the problem of being born in the wrong place and wrong time is averted. It becomes a problem of this god being able to make itself understood and the individual accepting what should be an obvious truth if this god is indeed omni-everything.   

But Mr. Rogers ignores this bit and uses this from Romans: Romans 10: 14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!”  It’s no surprise a pastor (and Paul) would love these verses since they amount to a lot of employment security.  You can’t just worship God and follow your heart, no, you must have a preacher tell you what to think and what this god “really” meant.   

If we want to support Mr. Roger’s stance, we can go to 2 Thessalonians 1, where Paul is happily fantasizing of those who don’t agree with him being “eternally destroyed”. There is no exception for Paul here when it comes to not knowing about this god.   “This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  

predestinationMr. Rogers says that one can figure out what his god “really” meant about the fate of those who don’t know his god from reading Acts 17.  Very predestination oriented, this would make a Presbyterian proud! 

Mr. Rogers cites these verses “Acts 17:26 From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. 27 He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” 

So, from this, it says that God put us where he wants us when he wants us and that we might only “perhaps” have a chance of finding out about this god.  We can go back to Romans and have one more good bit about free will and how this god hasn’t built it into his supposed plan at all. Mr. Rogers claims that his god knows our hearts and knows who will accept him “God knows our hearts. God knows who is going to seek Him.”  Yep, that’s pretty much per the bible. Let’s refer to Romans again, where it says that “18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction?” 

Darn, again free will claimed by Christians takes a hit.  

In this chapter of Acts, Paul is in Athens and finds that the Greeks have a plinth that has “to an unknown god”.  Now, the history behind this is that they were covering their bases, just in case their pantheon wasn’t complete.  They didn’t want to offend any god that might get miffed and send an earthquake or some such disaster (unsurprisingly, a petty quality shared by the Judeo-Christian god). 

Paul, of course, thinks this simply *has* to be an altar to his god. Paul claims that this god of his doesn’t live in shrines and doesn’t need sacrifice.  Now, those who have read the bible know that Paul is obviously not talking about the god of the bible then, since this god does indeed live in shrines and does indeed need sacrifices. The OT is just pesky in its existence for poor Paul with its claims of shrines (the ark, the innermost realm of the temple) and sacrifices demanded.  We have the same in the NT with the continued sacrifice and the curtain in the temple ripping, that inner sactum. If God didn’t need these things, then he wouldn’t have gotten so upset when he didn’t get them (of course he simply could be a brat.)  Paul is also sure that the ancient world that he knows is the only group of people to exist and that his god now isn’t going to take ignorance for an excuse anymore.  He can’t know and therefore makes a pronouncement based in ignorance; a pronouncement that can’t be true just from considering reality and how if this god did all of this, it failed tremendously.  

That’s what gets all theists into trouble, both Paul and Mr. Rogers, assuming that what they believe is the truth, unchangeable thereafter. For example, Paul is sure that God/JC will be back soon.  So’s Mr. Rogers. It’s just that they are over two millennia apart.     

Mr. Rogers poses this question “Could it be that God put people who are less likely to seek Him in strongly evangelical areas, and He put people who are more likely to seek Him in non-Christian areas?”  He goes on to claim that the most church filled areas have more people who disagree with his version of Christianity (those “unchurched” people aka those who Mr. Rogers are sure are not TrueChristianstm like him)  and those areas with few churches have more than he can preach to and convert.  Why, yes, Mr. Rogers, that probably is indeed the case since those places you go to are dirt poor, ill-educated and will accept anything anyone tells them if it means a better life in the here and now. This situation also speaks to the idea that people who know you know how you’ve failed in your claims and if they already have churches of their own, there is no reason to change.  In the bible, it has JC being unable to impress his hometown and being unable to perform miracles.  Now, why would that be?  Surely a god can do a miracle anywhere he wants to?  But if a miracle worker is a fraud, his hometown is the worst place he can go, where everyone knows him and it is convenient that he decides he can’t perform since there is too much disbelief. (Matthew 16, Mark 6 and Luke 4. John doesn’t mention this at all, perhaps since John is the one whose case for JC being god is the strongest.)  

In support of this, Rogers cite a claim of how a whole village of Muslims converted with no missionaries around. It was a miracle.  And with no evidence like all miracles, it’s just as much a story as any a theist tells.  His source is the International Mission Board, a part of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Gee, a organ of the SBC saying that missions are working and that more and more people are “open” to their nonsense all without any actual data at all. How entirely not surprising, since if they didn’t say this, they wouldn’t be able to fleece the flock for more money for more missions.   They must interpret the bible so it encourages missions rather than discouraging them and they must assume everyone knows about their version of their god and has no excuse.  All Mr. Roger’s stories are just that, stories ginned up like something from Weekly World News, all happening with no observers, no locations given, and of course no names.     

Of course, I'm a Monty Python fan.

Of course, I’m a Monty Python fan.

Rogers also uses that wonderful old chestnut, Romans 1:20 where the Christian insist that one just has to look around at the universe to know that the Christian god did it.  As usual, that never works out, since each religion claims the same thing.  Australian aborigines say it, Amazon tribesmen say it, etc.  There is no evidence of anyone knowing this god of the Christians from their “hearts” or acknowledging that it did anything or that anyone can reach out to it. No, the other cultures have created their own gods to claim for that, all different. 

All of this shows that no matter if Rogers and his church want to go on missions, it makes no difference. Without consideration of justice or fairness, God has already decided; it makes no difference if they are presented the Southern Baptist Convention version of Christianity or Roman Catholicism, etc or not. The die has been cast, if one is to believe the bible, and all missionary work ends up being is a very human endeavor by those who want external validation by making *their* flock bigger.

Well, that’s enough about Mr. Rogers.  As the saying goes, there are plenty more ichthys in the sea.   🙂

Postscript – Hello Christians who have follow my blog or who have liked posts on it.  There are far more of you than I ever thought possible, from youth pastors, to regular pastors, to lay Christians who simply have blogs to spread Christianity.  Be sure to click on the photos under “likes” to meet your fellows. 

Care to comment on anything you see here?  I have no problem in letting your comments through and addressing them. 

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12 responses to “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned

  1. This is just another logical/moral fallacy of Christian doctrine. Honestly, the religion is so full of holes these people spend most of their lives doing nothing but making excuses for its shortcomings.

  2. I don’t think that people like my mother, die-hard Catholic, realize that their religion is founded on a HUMAN SACRIFICE … So, the story is dressed up a bit and people weren’t offering him up as a sacrifice … but it’s still a human sacrifice to please a god. And, not just any human, but god’s ONLY SON.

    And, let’s wear the torture device around our necks, too!!

    • yep, the choice of the torture device seems to underline it is religion based on human sacrifice. If the lamb or fish were the prevalent symbol, as it seems they were at various points, Christianity wouldn’t seem so focused on violence.

  3. Am enjoying this! Why religion needs apologists if it were true beats me, I think it would rather have been obvious to anyone the truth of religion.

  4. I saw the plague puppets at Think Geek, I think. I sooooo wanted them. I don’t know what that says about me, but you just don’t see plague finger puppets everyday.

    I enjoy your posts, but one thing that always bugs me to ask you is: Why do you care if someone is religious or not. Isn’t it one’s own business if they choose to have faith or not? Not that I want to argue, because I don’t. I really don’t care either way if someone is religious or not.

    • Hello Tela!

      (folks, this woman makes the most awesome wire wrapped jewelry and cut stones. Go look!)

      I remember the first time I saw the plague puppets. The grocery story that I use serves a large Jewish population and I just howled when I saw them. I also want a set but I think that’d encourage them.

      I don’t mind being asked questions at all and that one is a common one for atheists to be asked. I don’t care if someone is religous and keeps it to themselves. For instance, I have no problem with the dozens of churches, the couple of synagogues and the one mosque I walk by to work. I don’t even mind if they have as many bells, nativity scenes, menorahs, calls to prayer as they want. However, many believers don’t keep it to themselves and religion can be very harmful because religion demands that you claim that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

      Take Christianity in the US for instance. Some Christians claim that anyone who disagrees with them deserves to be tortured for eternity; they repeatedly insist that humanity is filth. They try to tell homosexual people that they are sick and wrong and have no evidence just baseless opinion. They try to tell women what they can and can’t do. They try to put their religion into law and force others to follow it. They try to claim that the public square is their and theirs alone. They try to keep other religions out, even other sects of Christianity. They try to control science, only wanting that which makes them comfy and trying to hide that which shows their religion’s claims to be wrong. The one big creationism in schools trial was about 20 miles from here in Dover, PA. Some religous parents harm their children who have no choice in the matter, sometimes killing them for their faith. And all of this based on something that has no evidence at all.

      All of the above, and more, are what make me speak out against religion and to demonstrate how harmful and flawed it is.

      • Thank you 🙂

        I guess, in my perfect world, everyone would be comfortable to believe and worship as they chose or chose not to, so long as it didn’t effect others negatively. I’m pretty libertarian that way.

        I don’t adhere to any religion, but I am not an atheist, either. I suppose, I am agnostic. As such, the arguments on both sides perplex me. I wonder why some atheists seem so hell bent on destroying Christianity or the practice of it. And, by the same token, I wonder why some Christians/Jews/Muslims feel they have to shove their religion down other people’s throats. The rhetoric on both sides gets so heated and hateful. The whole argument makes me want send the parties to the corner to come out shaking hands.

        I have met so many Christians whom I have adored, who have not been bothered by my belief (or lack of belief). I have met others who were convinced that I was going to go to hell (whatever that is). They saw it as their duty to prevent that. On the one hand, I hated it; on the other, I thought, well… they think they are doing me a solid. You know? It’s like thanks, but no thanks.

        I have met some atheists who simply don’t believe and that’s their bag. I have met others who were just hateful and intolerant of religious views. They seemed like very angry people and I avoided them. In all honesty, after reading your posts, I thought you might fall into the latter category, and of course, you still might, but your answer sounds like you genuinely feel a need to undermine the arguments of those Christians who, to me, are doing good Christians a disservice by pushing an intolerant, ugly agenda ie, anti homosexual, etc. I’m not as literate or as well written as you are. I hope you get my point.

        I do understand and agree with your arguments. I am not arguing any of your points. You make them logically and in an entertaining way. You seem very passionate about this and I was simply curious as to why. Actually, reading your posts reminds me a lot of my mother who was just about the best Scots-Irish debater on the planet who also loved to play devil’s advocate for any subject. (Much to the chagrin of my poor father.) She was as well read as you seem to be, too. 🙂

        I would love to see you take on Westboro Baptist Church 🙂

  5. Pingback: Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A question “Why do you speak out against religion?” | Club Schadenfreude

  6. “The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.”—C. H. Spurgeon

    • hello, “Christian”

      This quote is interesting. It does show that Spurgeon doesn’t know his “truth” very well, in that Calvin, Augustine and Paul disagreed in some rather big ways, especially Calvin and Augustine. And, if one reads the bible, Paul doesn’t even agree with Jesus Christ.

      Your claims of truth are baseless and the usual claim by so many theists who have no evidence to support what they want to pretend is the truth. However, if you think you have evidence to support your claims, and this quote’s claims, I welcome you to do so.

      I was a Presbyterian, incidentally. When I was losing my faith, I looked into a lot of sects of Christianity to see if they were any more valid. I found that it is ridiculous on how many sects there are and how many of them hate the others because of how much they disagree on what this supposed “truth” is.

      It comes down to each Christian creating this religion and its god in their image, mirroring their own desires and hatreds; each insisting that they have the only truth and decrying anyone else, all with no evidence whatsoever for any of it.

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