Religion

Is Religion Another Away of Understanding Truth? by Sean Carroll

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Contrary to what many Evangelical apologists think, scientists do not have (or think they have) answers for every possible question about the universe, life, and human existence. While science does answer many questions that humans deem important, there are yet many unanswered questions that scientists diligently seek to answer. Because science does not have ALL the answers, Evangelicals often say that religion is another empirical and equally valid way of determining and understanding truth. Of course, when science conflicts with religious truth what happens? Most Evangelicals reject that scientific truth, and put their faith in what the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God says about the matter. This is why there are millions of American who believe the universe is 6,021 years old, Adam and Eve were real people, and the earth was destroyed by a flood 4,000 or so years ago. This is also why snake oil salesmen like Ken Ham can build million dollar monuments to ignorance such as the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.

As Physicist Sean Carroll makes clear in the following two-minute video, scientists do not have all the answers, nor have they ever claimed that they do. But, regardless of the lack of answers, science still remains the best way for us to understand our world.

Video Link

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Bert Farias Says Christian Children Should Be Taught to Be Extremists Like Hitler’s Brown Shirts and ISIS

bert-fariasYears ago I was part of an apostolic team of fathers who mentored, equipped and empowered radical youth. We believed then and still do now that we are to help define and lead a countercultural movement. It is our passion to upset the sinful status quo of society and the church. Youth are key!

In 1933 Hitler said, “If I can separate the youth of Germany from their parents I will conquer this nation.” He started a movement called “The Brown Shirts” in which 100,000 youth stood in Berlin with their right hand raised and screaming. “Hitler, we are yours!” Imagine our youth pledging that kind of allegiance to King Jesus!

It is rumored that, around that same time period, the Communist leader Joseph Stalin made the following statement concerning youth: “If we can effectively kill the national pride and patriotism of just one generation, we will have won that country. Therefore, there must be continued propaganda abroad to undermine the loyalty of the citizens in general and the teenagers in particular. By making readily available drugs of various kinds, by giving a teenager alcohol, by praising his wildness, by strangling him with sex literature and by advertising to his and her psycho-political preparation, create the necessary attitude of chaos, idleness and worthlessness.” If demonically inspired men can affect our youth this way, imagine what divine inspiration will do!

Sin has wasted our youth. We’ve not given them something worthy to live for, and something worthy to die for. To do anything below what they were created to do will bore them. That is the reason many of our young people turn to drugs, alcohol, immorality and other sensual thrills. That is why they need to be awakened to their ultimate purpose in Jesus Christ.

In revolutionary countries youth are trained in combat and weapons. They are taught principles of Communism and the tenets of militant Islam. They give themselves wholeheartedly to the goal of world domination. Someone once said that Satan is preparing his army, but the church is entertaining her children. We need a radical departure from the standard method of training young men and women for ministry. We need a touch of wholesome extremism to launch a counterculture JESUS revolution!

Yes, just as a certain kind of passivity limits the ministry of God’s kingdom, a certain kind of extremism will expand it. The Bible is a book of extremes. Extreme acts of God and history-changing events (like the dividing of the Red Sea and the resurrection of Jesus Christ among so many others); extreme characters (men and women who changed the world); extreme demands to follow the Lord (denying yourself, taking up your cross daily, etc.); extreme blessings for obedience (Mark 10:29-30); extreme consequences for unrepentant sin and disobedience (Luke 13:3, Matt. 7:21-23).

— Bert Farias, CHARISMA News, Extremism: The Key to Launching a Spiritual Revolution, January 30, 2015

Bert Farias is the founder of Holy Fire Ministries

 

Second Century Christian Apologist Justin Martyr Says Jesus is No Different From Other Deities

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And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Æsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Cæsar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods. But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions. But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things. And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire.

Justin Martyr, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Chapter 21

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: The Bible is the Solution for Institutional Racism by Dave Brat

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This is the one hundred and twenty-second installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is an audio clip of a radio interview given by U.S. Representative Dave Brat (Virginia). Brat is a Calvinist.

Audio Link

Right Wing Watch reports:

Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks asked Brat yesterday, “Help me understand, what is Black Lives Matter rioting about in Charlotte?”

“Well, that’s just sub-groups,” Brat responded, “some of these radical groups that are funded out of George Soros’ pot of money and just some confused people.”

In contrast, he said, he recently visited a prison and met with former heroin addicts who told him that they wanted him to “get the Bible back in the classroom and religion back in the classroom so my kids and grandkids don’t end up like me.” Because of the lack of religious instruction, he said, these men were “never taught what was good and bad in life in the public school system.”

“The Democrat policy in education is holding back an entire generation from being successful,” he said, “and then you end up with this racial system when your school system … [is] teaching them about isosceles triangles but we’re not giving them any hope.”

“There is institutional racism,” Brat told Fredericks, “and if Obama and Hillary want to talk about institutionalized racism, I just mentioned the source of it. It’s their own policies. that’s where the institutional racism is, right? When you don’t tell people what is ethically good and bad, right, if you cannot even define what a morally good life is anymore and you block the Bible and you block the Judeo-Christian tradition and you block the Baptist church, which is fundamental in the African-American community, from being the voice of power and the only hope you give is a broken federal system of government …”

He added that since Martin Luther King Jr., we haven’t had “any nationally prominent philosophers or theologians out there promoting the Judeo-Christian tradition in the African-American community and across the board in education.”

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Intellectualism Comes From Satan by Jesse Lee Peterson

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This is the one hundred and twenty-first installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of a sermon preached by Jesse Lee Peterson. Peterson is “president and founder of BOND (the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny), an American religious nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to “Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man.”

Excerpt from video:

I notice that the people who are really into the intellect are nutcases. Absolute nutcases. Because of this intellectual thing taking over and the people rule us, we now have so-called same-sex marriage. That wouldn’t happen if we weren’t into the intellect. Common sense would dictate that is not going to happen and common sense wouldn’t care what you thought about it because we would know that that’s wrong.

Intellectuals are also responsible for the fact that we now have drag queens running around in the military. Can you imagine jumping down in a foxhole, running from bin Laden, and there is a man in there with a dress and lipstick on? It would shock you. You would rather be out with bin Laden,” Peterson stated, apparently so dedicated to being anti-intellectual that he’s totally unaware that Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

….

People simply need to rely on the intellect of God, because human intellect is a tool of the devil, which is why all intellectual people are insecure people … because their father is weak, their father Satan is a deceiver.

Video Link

Kindred Spirits in a Pathless Land — Part Eight

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Guest post by Kindred Spirits

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven

Susan Blackmore — Out of Body Experience

Susan Blackmore had an out-of-body experience in 1970 that she thought was astral projection at the time. She later earned a PhD in Parapsychology. She’s now an atheist, practices Zen meditation on retreats but does not consider herself a Buddhist, and researches consciousness, out-of-body experiences, and memes, among other things. (Her website)

An account on her website of her out-of-body experience, which links to another web site with a more complete discussion of her out-of-body-experience, due to additional notes and comments made long after the original writing.

“Out-of-the-Body, Explained Away, But It Was So Real…..”, by Susan Blackmore:

“The next day I tried to check up on things I had seen and immediately discovered that some were wrong. For example, I had ‘seen’ old metal gutters on the roofs of the college when in the morning I realised that they were modern white plastic ones. I had seemed to travel through rooms above Vicki’s room which were not in fact there, and had seen chimneys which did not exist. This led me to all sorts of sceptical questioning, but more to elaborate my astral theories than to abandon them. For many years I continued to think of my experience as an astral excursion.”

[…..]

I do not believe I would ever have become a parapsychologist had I not had this experience. Yes, I was interested in the paranormal before it happened, but parapsychology did not become an abiding passion until this night. Afterwards I knew that there were other non-ordinary states of consciousness – other ways of being – that seemed somehow more real, more right, more direct than ordinary life. This had two effects on me. One I wanted to repeat the experience, and two I wanted to understand it.

As far as understanding is concerned I assumed, initially, that I had to understand the nature of the astral world and astral travel. I knew that my lecturers at Oxford would not countenance such ideas and that science in general rejected them utterly. I assumed that only parapsychology could help and therefore conceived an overwhelming desire to become a parapsychologist and to prove them all wrong. The story of how I set about to do this, and how I ultimately changed my mind, is told in my autobiography In Search of the Light.

[….]

Meditation

Many years later I began to realise that it was the clarity of awareness that I wished to find again, not the out-of-body experience itself. I began learning meditation in about 1975, but only intermittently. In 1982 I went on my first Zen retreat, and in 1986 I began to practice mindfulness (being in the present moment in daily life) and took up regular daily meditation which I have continued to this day. I have described some of this in In Search of the Light and in various articles. Through this practice I have found that the confusion of ordinary awareness can be dropped, or let go, and clarity is simply there. It is not something to be sought or obtained. I no longer try to have more OBEs.

Reading her story, imagine if someone with a different starting set of assumptions had the same experience, what conclusions would they draw? E.g., would a Christian assume they had been drawn up to the seventh heaven, as Paul was, and therefore believe that all the Bible was true? (Also, would Paul have experienced galaxies, given that the cosmology of the time did not know they even existed?) Would a Hindu devotee of Krishna have assumed that therefore all of the Bhagavad Gita was therefore true? Ie, Does anything about the experience support any particular religious tradition over another? Does it require that all of that tradition is therefore true? That all of that tradition’s dogma and doctrine is true? Salvation by grace vs good works? The details of the trinity? Papal infallibility? Young earth vs Old earth creationism?

It was interesting that she had an insightful perception about the chimney’s early on, and yet it still took quite a while before concluding psi and astral projection were not real. And it can’t be blamed on childhood indoctrination. Also, it took many years of experimenting with drugs and other attempts to repeat the out-of-body experience, before she concluded she just wants clarity of insight into the real world, and meditation gets her that. In short, our own ability to fool ourselves is quite strong!

There are additional essays on her website that are interesting, although it’s been too long since I’ve read them to recommend any particular ones – just sample any topics you’re interested in.

A “Loving” Christian and His “Loving” God

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Yes, Hell is a REAL place. Hell, Michigan is located 100 miles from my home.

There is no need for me to comment on the following graphic. It’s message is clear: Love God or after death be tortured in hell for eternity. Do Evangelicals really think this approach works? Or is the real motive behind such tactics so Christians can say, Lord, I told that atheist blasphemer Bruce Gerencser the truth! When he dies and splits hell wide open, he will have no one to blame but himself. Lost on the Tom Bakers of the world is the fact that I once preached this message and have heard it hundreds of times since my divorce from God. I get it, if I don’t submit to the demands of a “loving” God and worship him, after death I will spend eternity in hell — suffering horrific, never-ending torment.

Now, back to the football game. Truly it was hell today watching the $%*%$ Denver Broncos beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

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BTW, I did not respond to Tom Baker. He and several of his fellow evangelizers have now deleted their comments from my Facebook page.

Fox’s ‘Lucifer’ — Hated by Evangelicals, Loved by Heathens

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Chloe Decker and Lucifer Morningstar

Fox’s hit show Lucifer began its second season this week, wasting no time as Lucifer Morningstar and others continue to mock all that Christians hold dear. Last season ended with Lucifer’s mother escaping hell. The latest episode finds Lucifer, played by Tom Ellis, explaining to his therapist (played by Rachael Harris) his Dad (God) and Mom’s relationship:

Lucifer: Very well. In human terms, once upon a time, a boy met a girl, and they fell in love. They had sex. The only trouble was, they were celestial beings, so that moment created the universe.

Linda: MM, the Big Bang?

Lucifer: Never knew how appropriate the name was until now, did you? Anyway, they became Mum and Dad. They had a whole litter of kids, including yours truly. And they built a house. They called it Heaven. They were happy. Dad was… Well, Dad, and Mum… Well, Mum was rather lovely in the beginning. But things change, don’t they? Dad started going into the garage and tinkering with a little project he called humanity. Mum grew cold… Distant. And pretty soon, they were both neglecting their family.

Linda: And then one of his children started to act out?

Lucifer: Indeed. Yeah… So Dad got pissed off and tossed me out of the house.

Linda: And what did your mother do?

Lucifer: Nothing. She just stood there and let it happen. Anyway, a couple of thousand years later, Dad kicked her out, too. Cast her into Hell and put her in a cell. So, I did the same for her as she did for me. Zilch.

This season introduces to viewers a new character — a forensic scientist named Ella Lopez (Aimee Garcia).  Lopez, a crucifix-wearing Christian, thinks that the Lucifer in the Bible got a bad rap:

Ella: You must be Detective Decker’s civilian consultant.

Lucifer: Lucifer Morningstar.

Ella: Cool.

Lucifer: I was expecting a different reaction considering your choice of bling.

Ella: Oh. Dude, I had a friend named Adolf. Okay, Adolf. I didn’t hold it against him. And besides, I think the Devil gets a bad rap.

Lucifer: Oh. You do, do you?

Ella: Sure. I mean, what did he really do that was so bad? What, rebel against his dad? Ask some naked lady if she wanted an apple?

Lucifer: Be still my heart. Do go on.

Ella: I suppose he does run Hell. That’s not so great, you know, with the torture and eternal damnation.

Lucifer: I’m retired. And besides, I didn’t create Hell. I just worked there.

Ella: And now you’re talking in the first person. Wait. Are you…

Lucifer: The Devil?

Ella: …A method actor?

Lucifer: What?

Later in the episode, Lopez answers Detective Chloe Decker’s (played by Lauren German) questions about God, angels, the Devil,and the afterlife:

Chloe: Do you believe that it all really exists?

Ella: What do you mean?

Chloe: Say, angels. Or the Devil. That sort of thing. That’s all a metaphor, right?

Ella: Maybe. Maybe not.

Chloe: Oh, okay. That’s pretty…I just thought there would be more faith in your faith, I guess.

Ella: Oh. No, see, my aunt was a nun, okay? And she always taught me that doubt was really important. Right? I mean, if you don’t question something, then what’s the point of believing it? I doubt so that I can believe.

Chloe: So, then, if you had the chance to prove it was all real or fake, would you do it?

Ella: I mean, that kind of defeats the point, don’t you think? It’s faith…

I wish more Christians would take Decker’s approach. Hebrews 11:1-6 states:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Christian apologists spend countless hours scoring the Internet looking for opportunities to rationally defend their faith. As science continues to make belief systems such as Christianity largely irrelevant, zealots fight back with worn-out, stale, irrational arguments for the veracity of their beliefs. Have they not read Hebrews 11? The essence of Christian belief is FAITH. Attempting to “prove” Christianity to people such as myself is a waste of time. I am unwilling to surrender reason to faith; unwilling to just believe. Either someone believes, or they don’t. I don’t, and Lucifer Morningstar’s tale of heaven and hell is every bit as “real” to me as that which is found in the Bible. It’s all entertainment, and these days I think Fox’s ‘Lucifer’ is far more entertaining.