Religion: Historical Failure?

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With sayings like this, you protect yourself from any questioning. Falsification is impossible. Something doesn’t make sense? Simply invoke this saying.

When I was in Sunday school, I questioned my teachers. Mostly about Noah’s Ark (which in my opinion, remains the most absurd bible story) but also about the historicity of the Bible.

For example:

  1. Why was this God restricted in location? Why did the Native Americans (for example) know nothing about it?
  2. If believing in this deity (Jesus) was required for salvation, that would mean billions had died and gone to hell (or somewhere else uncomfortable) merely because they did not know about this deity, who had sacrificed himself on a cross.
  3. Where was this God when the dinosaurs roamed?
  4. Why did God change his demeanor over time? The OT version of God is vastly different than the one depicted in the NT.

As I read more into history and the various Gods, I started to realize that many of the Gods that predate Christianity or even Judaism, are similar in nature.

At first I thought this was the reason why the Christian God doesn’t show up in different cultures or areas or time periods – He had, but people were confused and named him differently, while he still retained the same aspects.

Of course now I realize that religions take ideas from previous religions and plagiarize them in some ways, but when I was a child I hadn’t yet come to this realization. The same could be said of resurrection cults that predate Christianity. For example, Osiris who was said to have risen from the dead, very much like Jesus was said to do later.

Another example of this can be found in the speech given by Red Jacket. It’s one of my favorite speeches of all time. Red Jacket gave this speech when missionaries asked permission to proselytize. You can find the entire speech here. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend you do. Here’s a short blurb that illustrates my point.

Brother, continue to listen. You say you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his mind, and if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right, and we are lost; how do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a book; if it was intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given it to us, and not only to us, but why did he not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?

Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit; if there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book?

Again, why did the Native Americans not know about this great, true religion? If the sole requirement is to believe, then the information should have been readily available to all people and any God that could do or know anything, surely would have known his plan was doomed to failure for so many people?

Again and again, these religions (Christianity among many more) run into historical questions that the faithful (and their religious books) fail to explain or account for in any satisfactory way. Usually, I was told that God worked in mysterious ways or that God had a plan and we aren’t meant to understand it.

Basically, I was told not to think about it too hard. Put your questions aside and just have faith. It doesn’t need to make sense – it’s just the way it is.

This isn’t enough for me, and I think any God worth the title would be more consistent and it would above all, make sense. You wouldn’t have to do mental gymnastics to understand where it fit in. You wouldn’t need to ignore parts of history to remain faithful. You wouldn’t need to put faith above thought. This being would fit and make sense.

So I’ve written a bit more than intended but I hope I’ve made my point. I’ve included a video at the end you may find interesting that deals with the same sort of argument I’ve made here. Also, please share your ideas on what I’ve written here, whether you agree or disagree. If you’re a person of faith, your comments are just as welcome here as someone who isn’t religious, such as myself.

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Freaking Out

I wasn’t going to write about the Supreme Courts decision to legalize same-sex marriage in America, but the reaction from the right is too damn funny not too. The amount of hysteria is in some ways very amusing, but in other ways so very disturbing.

For example:

Mississippi is considering pulling the plug on issuing marriage licenses altogether after the Supreme Court struck down bans on gay marriage Friday morning.

As the state’s governor and lieutenant governor condemned the court’s decision, state House Judiciary Chairman Andy Gipson began studying ways to prevent gay marriage in Mississippi. Governor Phil Bryant said he would do all he can “to protect and defend the religious freedoms of Mississippi.” To Bryant’s point of doing “all” the state could do, Gipson, who is a Baptist minister, suggested removing marriage licenses entirely.

Yup. You read that right. They’re willing to stop issuing marriage licences all together, just to prevent a very small percentage of same-sex couples from being married.

If that doesn’t constitute freaking the f*ck out, I’m not sure what does.

Then there is this:

For instance, Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have both signed a pledge that reads, “We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”

Huckabee also challenged the authority of our nation’s highest court when he said, “The Supreme Court can’t overrule God.”

I haven’t heard God chiming in, but these two are elected officials who have sworn to uphold the laws of the land. You’d think they could be removed from office for saying such things.

Then there was Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert who said:

“Founders and leaders including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and most all of the Presidents have noted that it is God who has been the source of this nation’s unfathomable blessings,” Gohmert stated. “But if Moses, Jesus, and contributors to the Bible were correct, God’s hand of protection will be withdrawn as future actions from external and internal forces will soon make clear. I will do all I can to prevent such harm, but I am gravely fearful that the stage has now been set.”

The stage has been set for what?

Who wants to bet that anything that can be perceived as being ‘bad’ will now be attributed to the granting of equal rights to same-sex couples? If there’s a hurricane, tsunami, mass shooting etc, it will be dropped onto the steaming pile of superstition that religion will then light on fire and throw onto the porch’s of those who just want the chance to be legally married and live happy, fruitful lives.

You know…the same thing heterosexuals are allowed to do any time they feel like it.

It’s not the end of the world guys and gals. No invisible man or woman in the sky is going to reach down and wipe America from the map. In fact, if there were a benevolent God, it would be a safer bet that it would descend on America wrapped in a rainbow flag and thank her for finally removing it’s head from it’s butt. If you’re going to label yourself the ‘Leaders of the Free World’, it might be wise to lead by example and spread a little freedom around instead of trying to crush a very small minority and prevent them from expressing their love in the same manner the majority does every single day of the week.

My Puppy at Play

Here, let me pose handsomely for you

So I just wanted to share a few pictures I have of Dexter playing with his friends. We like to send him to a place called ‘Country Paws’ about once a week so that he can play, swim and get some much needed exercise. That’s where these pictures were taken.

In this one Dexter is being unusually acrobatic.

In this one Dexter is being unusually acrobatic.

This is from Dex's birthday party

This is from Dex’s birthday party

I'm betting the person taking the picture has a tasty treat in their hand because Dexter sure looks like he expects something

I’m betting the person taking the picture has a tasty treat in their hand because Dexter sure looks like he expects something

I love this picture. It looks like Dex is yelling Oh sh*t!

I love this picture. It looks like Dex is yelling Oh sh*t!

Listen guys...there can be only one!

Listen guys…there can be only one!

Here, let me pose handsomely for you

Here, let me pose handsomely for you

Dexter would swim the day away if he could every single day. He loves to swim but if the grass is a bit wet, he won't want to go outside. Go figure

Dexter would swim the day away if he could. He loves to swim but if the grass is a bit wet, he won’t want to go outside. Go figure

So I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Paddle on, Dexter, paddle on!

My Adventures at a Catholic Graduation

GraduationMy step-daughter graduated from grade 8 last night. The graduation was held in a Catholic Church (yes, she goes to a Catholic school) and I went. It was quite an adventure and my wife kept looking at me side-long to see whether I was going to burst into flame or begin laughing hysterically.

I wasn’t turned into charcoal but I nearly burst into laughter many times over.

However, I can proudly announce that I didn’t laugh. I kept my nose buried in my handy e-book for much of the time instead.

So anyways, the church was very ornate. The priest sat on what I can only describe as a throne. It was raised on a dais; was rather too big and he often sat on it and looked down at us as if he were a king. The priest also wore green and white robes and instead of investing in a book holder, he would have a small child hold a gigantic bible in front of him so that he could read from it.

His first speech was (predictably) about saving up riches in heaven because riches on Earth were meaningless and hollow. I found this amusing since we were all sitting in a church that could feed thousands of people, and there was an offering plate clearly visible.

I guess these riches are only meaningless if regular people partake. Church groups are clearly not held to the same principles.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that his message (stripped of all its magical talk) is spot on. I don’t think we need to covet huge riches and I do think we should all be helping each other live better lives here on Earth while we can. I just find it hypocritical in the extreme when one of the richest organizations on Earth proclaims that being poor is better than being rich and can do so with a straight face.

He also explained how he became a Christian. Basically, he said he too went to Catholic school and one day while the teacher-priest droned on about Jesus, he realized he believed in what he was saying and that YES he believed in Jesus.

I couldn’t help think how unconvincing this argument (or tale) was and I wondered why he bothered to share it at all. Surely there were better ways to spend the time and more valuable things he could impart than his unconvincing tale of being indoctrinated by his teachers.

Anyways, the mass was full of standing, singing, praying, sermoning (not a real word I know) and kneeling. I stood when people sang. I stood when people prayed. I sat when asked too. I didn’t pray or sing myself and I did not kneel. A few times I felt the priests eyes on me but that’s fine. I don’t believe in what he’s selling and while I won’t embarrass my step-daughter or make a scene, I also won’t condone what he’s selling or partake in it.

About halfway through, they did communion. This is where I had to stifle my laughter.

The priest held a wafer over his head and stared at it intently for about 30 seconds as if this would magically turn the wafer into something more than plain bread. I found myself wondering how a grown man could do such a thing and realized that I was living in a culture that taught this was normal behavior and a valuable thing to be doing.

People shuffled up to drink from his golden chalice and eat his wafer. My butt stayed firmly planted in the pew. My eyes continually roving to my watch.

The mass took an hour. The actual graduation took about 20 minutes. Dump the magical stuff and we could have been in and out in under a half hour.

On the good side, my step-daughter got the academic achievement award. She also dressed in a Tuxedo and looked amazing. I was very proud of her. She went out with her friends afterward, and I was glad that I could be there to support her.

Shine on you crazy diamond.