Worthlessness

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There are two things I dislike about Christianity, well, two main things at least. The first is Hell, as I’ve made clear in previous blog posts. The second is the fact that religions like Christianity teach people that they are worthless.

I have been in a few conversations with people about this, the most recent being where someone told me that “As sinners, humans are filthy and horrifyingly unworthy in the face of the holy God. When they are met with this holiness and glory, they will fear the judgement, the ineffable contrast, and the unimaginable shame.” Well, there is enough depression and low self esteem in the world, and religion isn’t helping!

Religion tells people that they are worthless, unworthy sinners who deserve to burn in Hell for eternity. That is not a nice message, and that is not an enticement to believe. On a related topic, this is also a reason excuse as to why God does not reveal himself – humans are not worthy/ready for it.

Besides the fact that such a lesson is a horrible one, there is still no evidence of this nonsense. Sure, humans can be ridiculously illogical and immature, and as a whole we are not a very nice species, but worthless and unworthy? I am pretty sure that worthless beings wouldn’t be able to do half the things our species has accomplished.

Anyway, I can see why the religion does this. Christianity is largely built on guilt and self-hatred. Everything is a sin, and you are doomed for just existing. Everything makes you a sinner, and it is designed to make you feel guilty. This can make people more insecure, and they are more likely to turn to their God. And of course, the religion was made by humans, who then used it to control the masses.

Image Courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The New Bible – Genesis 33

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Jacob finally meets Esau, and continues pretending that he is his servant. And it turns out that Esau brought 400 men with him to meet Jacob for no good reason whatsoever.

  1. Esau approached with his 400 men, so Jacob divided his people into two groups.

2. He put the female servants and their children in the front, so that they would die first if they were attacked, Leah in the middle, with Rachel in the rear.

3. Jacob went ahead and bowed down seven – not six, or eight. Exactly seven times before Esau. As we’ll see later, God has a thing about the number seven.

4. When Esau saw Jacob he ran up and embraced him. “Who are these people with you?” He asked.

5. “They are the children God has given your servant” Jacob replied. Because even though God hadn’t done much, he insisted that he was praised when people had children, so he felt that he was doing something important.

6. Jacob’s people approached and bowed down to Esau.

7.  “What are the flocks you sent ahead for?” Esau asked. “Don’t you ever listen – I mean, they are a gift to find favor in your eyes” Jacob said.

8. But Esau said, “I have plenty, keep that small gift of hundreds of animals for yourself.”

9. But Jacob insisted, “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift, for seeing your face is like seeing the face of God – you’re a mentally unstable and forgetful individual who hasn’t killed me yet for some reason!”

10. Esau forgot the insults almost immediately and accepted Jacob’s gift.

11. Because the herds could not move that quickly, Jacob went behind with his people, as Esau traveled ahead.

12. Esau returned to Seir, his home, and Jacob went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and his people with his many, many sons. Good thing Abraham and Isaac had passed on their super-fast building knowledge.

13. He bought some land from the people in the land of Caanan – the land that God STILL hadn’t given to him, and set up his tents.

14. Jacob built an altar there and named it El Elohe Israel, you know, as you do.

The New Bible homepage can be found here.

How to read the Bible

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It is widely accepted that the Bible cannot, or at least shouldn’t, be read as a literal story, or an accurate historical account, but how exactly should the Bible be read?

Taking Genesis as a literal account is clearly a bad idea, what with science disproving the creation story and all of that, but one must ask themselves, why would God put such nonsense in a book that is supposed to be the ‘Truth’? You can argue that it is metaphorical, and come up with some sort of idea that the creation story is supposed to represent, like the most common one, being that humans apparently ‘fell from Grace.’

But the problem with interpreting the Bible as a metaphor is that you can never be quite sure if your interpretation is the correct one. There are about 30 – 45 thousand denominations of Christianity, but many, many of these denominations have their own interpretations, some even thinking that the other groups will go to Hell because of their misinterpretation. So how can you be sure that your interpretation is the correct one?

As far as I’ve found, you can’t. You would have thought that a god who loves humans and wants them all to go to Heaven would at least provide some clear and decent instructions on what to do, how to live and how to go there, but we get a giant book (most of it pointless filler) with thousands of different ways to interpret it.

And then there comes the odd and random things that are hard to make any sort of story out of. Noah’s ark could kind of symbolize that God will drown people if he doesn’t like them, but a giant ship and all of that stuff? Seems rather unnecessary. Can we get morals or lessons out of talking donkeys and 900 year old men?

So, unless you interpret the Bible as literally as possible, you really have absolutely no way of knowing whether your interpretation is the right one or not, and according to some, that mistake could land you in Hell.

Image courtesy of Janaka Dharmasena at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The New Bible – Genesis 32

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Jacob is getting ready to meet up with Esau, and he hopes that his bigfoot-like brother will have forgotten the whole thing about Jacob stealing his blessing and birthright. But first, he has a wrestling match with God. Completely normal, I know.

  1. Jacob left the hills where Laban had caught up to him, and renamed yet another place, saying that he had seen angels of the Lord there.

2. He sent messages ahead of him, to the country of Edom, where Esau was living. He told them to say, ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban for the past 14 years,

3.  I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’

4. He of course pretended that Esau was his lord, because if he mentioned the birthright he stole from him Esau would probably plot to kill him again.

5. The messenger returned and delivered a message to Jacob, “Well, Esau has gotten your message, and he is coming to greet you,” he said, “he has an army of 400 men with him.”

6. Jacob divided his people into two groups in ‘great fear and distress’, ignoring the fact that God was with him, aka. stalking him.

7. “If one group is attacked, the other will escape” Jacob said. He then prayed to the Lord, “God of Abraham, and Isaac, and me, and everybody else apparently, who told me to go back to my country, and said that you will make me prosper.

8. I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant, like the fact you haven’t killed me, or the fact you didn’t warn me about me having to marry Leah before Rachel, or… nevermind.

9. Anyway, Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me.”

10. Jacob found a gift to give Esau, it wasn’t much, it was only two hundred and twenty goats, two hundred and twenty sheep, thirty camels, fifty cows, and thirty donkeys. Like I said, not much.

11. He sent his servants ahead of him with all of those animals, instructing them to tell Esau that they were a gift to him from his ‘servant’ Jacob.

12. That night Jacob took his two wives, two servants and eleven sons – funny how there was no daughters, isn’t it? – and crossed the ford of Jabbok. He sent across his belongings, and then God decided to have a wrestling match with him.

13. God, the all-powerful deity, wrestled with Jacob all night, and was unable to overpower him.

14. In fact, God only won by touching the socket of Jacob’s hip, essentially cheating.

15. God went to leave, but Jacob wanted him to bless him.

16. “What is your name?” God said, forgetting who it was he had been stalking for the past 14+ years. Jacob told God his name, but God didn’t like it, so he changed it.

17. Just like Jacob and his ancestors had a habit of renaming things without permission, God renamed Jacob.

18. ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, it shall be Israel, because you have struggled with God” the Lord said.

19. “What is your name?” Jacob asked, “None of your goddamn business,” God replied, “In fact, I have a lot of names.”

20. Jacob named the place Peniel, because he had seen the face of God and lived. Apparently God is Medusa now.

21. And to this day (not really) the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the hip of any animal, because God had touched one man there. A little extreme, but that is God’s specialty.

The New Bible homepage can be found here.

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Religion and aliens

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With so many planets and galaxies in the universe, there is an extremely high chance of alien life existing. And contrary to what many people think, especially creationists, a planet does not need much to support life, theoretically at least. Generally all a planet needs for life is water, an organic compound, and energy.

Obviously a planet needs to be rocky, and not a gas giant, and the laws of physics need to apply and all of that, but that is pretty much guaranteed. But for abiogenesis to happen you need water, heat, (which can come in the form of sunlight, geothermal vents, plate tectonics, etc.) And a collection of organic compounds that can combine to form DNA. Other things help, and without an atmosphere the life won’t be able to come out of the sea, but for microbial life you don’t need much.

With the amount of planets that we have discovered that have the potential to have life, there is a high possibility that alien life exists, but what does that mean for religion? While religion and aliens could be compatible, it raises some questions:

If God loves us so much, why did he make life-forms on other planets? Especially if they are intelligent life-forms.

Was there an alien Jesus? Or are aliens doomed to burn in Hell because Jesus was sent to only our planet?

While the Bible does not say anything about alien life, it would seem odd that if God was so focused on humans and the earth he would make life on other planets. The discovery of alien life would not damage religion that much, but people would have to again adjust their faith to fit around the discovery, just like people did when evolution was discovered, and when we learnt that earth was not the center of the universe.

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Starbucks VS Christians

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I saw this article the other day, and I just had to write about it. Apparently, out of ALL of the things in the world, Christian evangelists are getting worked up over the fact that Starbucks changed their Christmas design.

I didn’t know this before, mainly because I have only ever seen one Starbucks here in NZ and that is a few hours away, but apparently they change their cup design every year. This year, instead of putting snowflakes, Christmas trees and other seasonal things on their cups, they have gone with a plain, politically correct color scheme of red, white and green.This has made Christian evangelists unhappy, and some are even claiming that Starbucks ‘hates Jesus’.

Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” wrote former Arizona pastor Joshua Feuerstein in a viral Facebook post that had at least 8 million views Saturday night.

OF COURSE! Starbucks have upgrade their cups, so they must hate Jesus! I wish I could say that I have never before seen such a ridiculous argument, but unfortunately I have. Some Christians have even gone so far as to say that they will never buy anything from Starbucks again, and they have even gotten criticism from pastors in the UK, saying that they are ‘playing it safe’.

This entire thing is a ridiculous overreaction, and just another sign that religion can really cause some stupid things to happen. I must also note that many of the Christmas traditions are Pagan anyway!

The New Bible – Genesis 31

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After fourteen years of working for Laban, Jacob decides to go back to the land that he fled from, hoping that Esau had forgotten that Jacob stole his blessing. In the last chapter Jacob used methods of selective breeding that are scientifically impossible so that he could get away with taking more goats, and now he decides to flee from Laban.

  1. Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were onto him and his tricks, and he noticed that Laban’s attitude towards him was not what it had been.

2. So God told him to get away while he had the chance.

3. Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were.

4. He told them what he had heard, and claimed that Laban had cheated him by ‘changing his wages ten times’. He said, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.

5. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength, but your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times.

6. If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young.

7. So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.”

8. So Jacob blamed God for his biologically impossible trick, and then went on to tell them about a dream he had.

9. In the dream, God took credit for Jacob’s trick, and said, “I am the God of Bethel, not the God of Christians, but the God of Bethel. That’s my new name. Anyway, you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land at once.”

10. And Rachel and Leah replied, “Do whatever God has told you, surely we also get a share of what God has given you.”

11. So Jacob took his wives, his children, his goats, and all of the goods he had acquired in the land of Paddan Aram, and he set off to go to his father in Caanan.

12. Jacob had not told Laban he was going, and it took Laban three days to realize that they were all missing.

13. Laban gathered his relatives and set off to pursue Jacob. He caught up to him after seven days in the hills of Gilead.

14. God came to Laban in a dream, saying, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, good or bad”. And Laban replied, “What am I supposed to do? Stand there and stare?”

15. “Hey, you’re the guy that’s chasing him, not me” God replied, being as unhelpful as usual.

16. As lots of people do in the Bible, Laban ignores God. He pitched his camp near Jacob’s and said to him, “What have you done? you have deceived me and ran off with my daughters, you didn’t even…”

17. Jacob got bored listening to Laban’s long, long speech and just nodded, pretending to listen.

18. “Don’t blame me, it was God’s fault. He was the one that told me to leave” Jacob replied.

19. Rachel had gone and stolen Laban’s ‘household gods’ for no good reason whatsoever, and Laban was going to look for them. Jacob said that whoever had stolen the gods would surely die, and it was time for some more trickery.

20. Laban searched through the camp but could not find anything. When he entered Rachel’s tent she hid the household gods in the saddle of a camel and sat on it, refusing to move.

21. Jacob said to Laban, “What have I done that made you hunt me down? What is my crime? Put what you found that belongs to you here in front of your relatives and mine, so that they can be the judges.”

22. “I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks….”

23. It was now Laban’s turn to tune out and pretend to be listening.

24. “And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes…”

25. “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed…”

26. Some time later Jacob finally shut up, and by this time Laban was bored with the whole situation.

27. “Tell you what, I’ll make a covenant with you, because he moral of the story is that covenants and long speeches solve everything!” Laban said.

28. So Jacob and Laban made a covenant. They made a pile of stones and ate by it. Not like any covenant anyone had ever made before, but whatever. Laban called the heap of stones Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.

29. The pile of stones was made a witness, and the covenant was made. And the next morning they split up, Laban going back home, and Jacob once more setting off to return to Isaac and the land of Caanan.

The New Bible homepage can be found here.

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ten Questions For Christians

This video, posted by a YouTuber by the name of TruthSurge, features ten questions that he claims that Christians can’t answer. Whether they can or not is debatable, and I probably won’t be debating them, but by all means head over to his channel and discuss it with someone there.

The video is the second part of a two part series, and I featured this one instead of the first because the first is more aimed at Young Earth Creationists. What with the sound effects and faces the video seems more like comedy than anything, but it might be an interesting watch.