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Entry 27 – Purging Prophecy for Pornography?

March 15, 2010

A story recently from WLTX.com made me think a little more than usual about being considered an atheist. 

A student group on the campus of the University of Texas, San Antonio asked students to turn in their Bibles and get pornography as a replacement.  The campaign was dubbed, “Smut for Smut”. 

I was saddened and frustrated by this story.  Let me explain. 

I’m certainly no fan of the ‘uber-Christian-right’, and their tactics for acheiving Christian theocratic dominance around the world. 

And I think I understand the WHY of tactics such as the ones used by the campus group in San Antonio.  It isn’t lost on me that for too long the Christians of the United States,and the world for that matter, have enjoyed a certain sense of political power (i.e. in the more recent past, think Focus on the Family, Moral Majority, Billy Graham Crusades, the National Prayer Breakfast, The Family aka ‘C Street’, etc.)  The ‘New Atheists’, as they are often referred to in the media, I would imagine feel empowered with their new found status as an ‘up and coming’ group in society.  They have strong logical arguments for their positions on the metaphysical world, or the lack thereof, and want to get these arguments out to those who will listen. 

I would even consider myself one of these ‘New Atheists’.  I feel emboldened by the Dawkinses, the Dennetts, the Harrises, and the Stengers of the world today.  I don’t live my life any longer under the auspices of a higher power watching over my every move and thought, waiting to see if that last move or last thought was ‘Godly’ enough, or worthy of His majesty’s glory and praise.  I scoff at supernatural explanations where naturalistic ones will suffice. 

However, when we, as ‘New Atheists’, or agnostics, or whatever the latest label of the day is for those who don’t believe in the supernatural, purposely go out of our way to offend people of faith, I think we do ourselves and the rest of the community a great disservice.  I think we stoop to their level of discourse; brash, insensitive, and no thought to how someone might interpret such harsh methods.  I think in the long view of history on this planet, offensive tactics toward a particular group of people do more harm than good,  agitating and heating things up, rather than shedding light on the situation. 

I see nothing wrong with stating that you don’t agree with a certain position.  But do you have to go for ‘shock value’ when you state this position? 

Isn’t it more tactful and strategic to simply resist fanning a dogmatic ‘flame’ that in many respects is  just a smoldering ’ember’ from a bygone age?  I’m reminded of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man skits from Saturday Night Live in the 1990’s.  Carvey’d bemoan the ‘kids today’ and repeatedly conjur up the cliche of the ‘world going to hell in a handbasket’.  And he LIKED IT!  😉  That grumpy old man is the grumpy old religious idea that dies hard, but in the end, it dies. 

In a way it’s kind of sad to see these beleagured religious explanations for our origins going the way of the idea waste pile.  These ideas once held such promise, and were widely accepted and respected world viewpoints. 

Now, with the rapid advance of science and technology, these explanations for our origins seem less and less powerful as they once did when we didn’t have molecular genetics departments in most large universities, or the Large Hadron Collider trying to split atoms into tinier and tinier quanta. 

I liken people who always invoke ‘god(s) of the gaps’ defenses when there is no other current naturalistic explanation for something to those who still rely on dial-up internet for accessing the world wide web, or people still using floppy disks when the flash drive or ‘nerd stick’ can transfer and store so much more information quickly and efficiently. 

But, in the end, if these people want to invoke God and other supernatural explanations for phenomena they see around them, then let’s let them be.  Seriously, let’s let them have their faith and eat it too.  But, in this letting, let’s let them have this faith with the understanding that if this faith gets to getting into public policy where legislation is passed to make a particular KIND of faith THE faith of the governed, then the faith letting has gone too far.  

My mother always likes to point out, from Hebrews 11:1 of the King James Bible that ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I don’t even know what that second part really even means (Bible Scholars out there, please instruct accordingly), but I think if you want to have faith, please, go right ahead.  Just please understand that the rest of the rational world is not going to operate on the same principles as you do with this faith, and this rest of the rational world shouldn’t be made to feel like we should operate on irrational principles of faith. 

I like Mark Twain, and I think a more apt summation of ‘Faith’ comes from his 1894 Following the Equator.  In this work, Twain writes that ‘Faith is believing what you know ain’t so!” 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 26 – What Would Beck Do (WWBD)? Really?

March 14, 2010

A story that appeared today in my news reader prompted a short comment that I thought I would share.  The story comes from the Examiner and is written by Laurel Davis

Full comment is as follows:

It’s completely legitimate to ask, at what point do you call one person’s interpretation of a ‘sacred text’ (i.e. Christian Bible, Jewish Talmud, Muslim Koran, etc.) wrong. These ‘sacred’ texts were all snapshots of what people, yes people, just like you and me, thought at the time was important to write down.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And people today can, and very much do, interpret these texts in a multitude of ways.

To ask yourself what Jesus would do in this situation I believe is cutting yourself quite short in terms of being able to socially act justfully.

Jesus, if Jesus really is the Jesus that is portrayed in the Gospels and Paul’s letters, really wasn’t all too concerned about trying to make this world that we live in a great place. He was focused on an after-life life, told his disciples to ditch their families and lose all their possessions, and preached that he didn’t come to bring peace to the world, but a sword.

What really matters is what YOU think about what should be done.

Looking to a text that was written centuries ago to find out what you should do with your life now is in my humble opinion a monumental waste of time.

Getting about to helping bring about change in your local community is much more of a valuable activity; helping that tough neighborhood become a place people want to stop AT instead of drive THROUGH, as one example.

It’s really just that simple.

Blowhards like Beck just spew nonsense and non sequiturs to get ratings for their shows.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Thanks for stopping by,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 25 – Just one more…I promise…shout out for defining ‘atheism’

February 18, 2010

As you already know, I’m a fan of the ‘A Moment in Reason’ podcast as well as The Misanthrope’s Journal (see ‘Sites of Note’ to your right).  Recently the AMIR podcast tackled a mundane, yet important topic of defining atheism and its many iterations of understanding to as many iterations of people.  I thought it was worth a mention as I don’t think I’ve heard a more succinct discussion of the ‘what to call ourselves’ controversy surrounding ‘atheism’ and ‘agnosticism’.  Gene, the host, does a wonderfully deft job of explaining how someone can be both an agnostic and atheist at the same time, and also ‘turns the tables’ so to speak on the theists who would think their position superiour to an agnostic or atheist in terms of ‘moral high ground’.  If you have any etiological doubts about how you refer to your faith or lack there of, this podcast is worth a listen. 

Click HERE to get to the episode.

On another note, The Misanthrope sent me a link to a newspaper article defending the aforementioned ‘moral high ground’ for atheists.  It’s written by Donald Clegg at the Spokesman-Review and the following is an excerpt:

“Does anyone really think that the abandonment of a faith or belief in God, for instance, suddenly causes a person to lose all moral conviction, to become rootless, without principle? Fidelity is simply what remains after faith (in its conventional sense) is abandoned.

This is the shortest defense of pure atheism I can offer, one which I think is sufficient to the task, as it’s not my main concern” …MORE

Please click HERE to go to the full text of the article.

Kudos to Clegg for writing, and the Spokesman-Review for publishing.  Helping stop the pervasive urban legend that atheism is some kind of amoral, corrupt, despised, insert denigrating adjective to the nth degree belief system is an important step toward our global society progressing as a whole towards tolerance and inclusion. 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 24: Santa Got Run Over By The Truth, Dear!

January 30, 2010

Although I know we’re a full month outside of Christmas 2009, I’ve been mulling around for answers to another question a family member of mine posed right around the major gift giving event of the year. 

“What are you planning to tell your newborn son when he’s ‘of age’ about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy?”

Getting past my sarcastic retort…’You mean they’re not real?!!!”, I thought I’d attempt a written response. 

My family member (again, remaining nameless to protect the guilty as charged) offered that they are deciding against perpetuating the myths of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus to their kids. 

And while I respect their willingness and tenacity to not do this with their children, I’ve thought about this alot, talked it over with my wife, and I’ve come to the conclusion that perpetuating these myths of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus to my son are really not all that big of a deal.  Let me explain. 

I think ,as a kid, having magical characters swoop in during assigned times of the year to perform assigned magical duties is just one of those brief, yet harmless rituals we can give our kids.  Reality will hit in so many different ways all through the course of their life, that to give them this dose of un-reality, if you will, is, as I see it, a bit of gift.  I do understand that foregoing this ritual can spare some heartache in the end (‘You mean Santa Claus isn’t real?!!!’  Sob…Weep…Wail…) However, the fun you impart to the kids in the stories of these three legendary characters, I think more than makes up for the letdowns later.  I have no scientific studies though to back this up, only anecdotes.  Speaking of which, I honestly don’t think I am all that scarred from my own parents doing the same to me regarding the same three mythical characters in my first decade on the planet.  I rather look back at the perpetuated illusions as a good bit of fun. 

Slight aside…I’ve recently started listening to an excellent podcast entitled, ‘Reasonable Doubts’.  On episode 59, the hosts interview Dale McGowan, the author of a new book entitled, “Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical Caring Kids Without Religion”.  It’s really one of the best discussions I’ve heard yet on how to handle ‘sticky’ issues regarding what to tell your kids about religion, myths, morals, and everything in between.  I highly recommend listening to this Reasonable Doubts episode entitled, “Parenting”. 

McGowan’s main stance is on teaching critical thinking to your children.  He takes no hard stance on what you should tell your kids about religion, the Santa Claus myth, or any myth for that matter.  Rather, he believes in using all supernatural claims that your kids hear about and ask you about, as ways to enhance critical thinking abilities.   I just hope I’m savvy enough when my son gets to the age where he’s questioning my wife and I on these things to be able to question back his questions with critical thinking exercises.  I really want to get McGowan’s book, and start preparing for that day.

If you are a parent (and even if you’re not), where do you stand?  Do you think it’s better to be honest at all costs with your kids regarding Santa Claus, and the host of other mythical mighties?  Or do you feel like you can play make believe with your children, keep these characters strong in their imagination for their first decade, and then duck out unscathed? 

Interested to hear your takes on the issue.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 23 – Religion: why so fit?

January 19, 2010

A dear family member of mine, who will remain nameless to protect the guilty, over the holidays asked me two poignant questions regarding my entries thus far. 

1.  “What do you think of the recent evolutionary biology literature related to trying to find an “adaptive benefit” to religion?”

2.  “Given that religion is so obviously fanciful and downright silly – think virgin birth, resurrection after death, single person inexplicably also 3 people, etc. – why do so many people – really, almost everybody on the planet – profess belief in it to some degree?” 

Getting out of the way, up front, that I am in no way, shape, or form close to being an evolutionary biologist, nor claim any kind of expertise in how I like to refer to it as,  ‘meme‘ transfer, (Richard Dawkins originally coined the term), I thought it would be a good exercise to explore these questions a bit further for my post today. 

My reaction to the first question is that I think it’s as fascinating, as it is ironic.  Especially when you consider how visceral a reaction you get from some Christians when you even mention the ‘e’ word (evolution), in any context.  Evolution of thought and consciousness is something that I think should be of interest to all of us, and something I am looking forward to in this life hearing more about.  Scientists discovering the inner workings of the animal mind; what’s not to like?!  And while I think sometimes the conclusions of the studies are a bit over-reaching, they are nonetheless incredibly interesting.  I wouldn’t be surprised if in our lifetimes scientists discover a suite of ‘god genes’, if you will, in all populations of people the world over.   

As to the second question, I think religion in general, and Christianity in particular, appeals to a wide audience because of its ability to tell a compelling story.  If we humans on planet Earth are all completely honest with ourselves and each other, we are incredibly gullible for a great story.  We flock to movie theatres in droves to see plot driven accounts of two people ‘finding’ each other and falling in love, despite all the odds (think ‘The Notebook’, ‘Titanic’, ‘Casablanca’, etc.).  We beg our spouse, family, and friends to spin us a good ‘yarn’ at the dinner table.  We watch crime dramas, reality TV shows, and situation comedies on television like it’s going out of style. 

As simple as it sounds, religion, in all its forms, as I see it, is just the ultimate story telling experience.  And its ability to persist in our memetic code, if you will, is testament to its ability to weave a cast of characters so full of tragedy and redemption that we keep coming back for more.  Oral or written, these stories have been, and still are, embellished, embraced, toned down, tuned up, canonized, choreographed, you name it, to appeal to a wide array of people wanting to be entertained.  And believing in these stories is comforting.  Let’s face it.  The story about an afterlife where you zoom around on a Jesus scooter on streets paved with gold takes a certain ‘edge’ off of the cold, hard reality that we are all mortals, and waiting to die at some point in our lives. 

There are so many wonderful books out there that speak to this very subject of our willingness to believe these stories.  A few that spring to mind are Carl Sagan’s classic, ‘The Demon Haunted World’ or Michael Shermer’s ‘Why People Believe Weird Things – Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of our Time’.  I don’t think I can really add more to the ‘equation’ so to speak than what these wonderful treatises on why we believe what we do have already contributed. 

I will say this though, as strange as I might look at the possibility of anything being born of a virgin, resurrecting from the dead, or inhabiting 3 different states of being, I am fully convinced that these same people that do believe in these things that I find quite strange, find me NOT believing in them equally strange. 

Let me say that again, the same people that believe in these, what appears to me to be strange and fanciful, supernatural stories, are most likely looking at me with an equally strange stare of NOT believing in same said stories.  

And it is at this nexus, this intersection, that I think the conversation between me and the true believer in these supernatural stories can make some ‘headway’ if you will.  I want to try and have some understanding on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.  I want there to be an honest discussion of the reasons for these beliefs, or the lack there of.  I don’t want to spend time name calling or trying to make people who think these stories true to be strange (according to my viewpoint) or feel like a moron, or any less of a person.  Most likely there are reasons for why people believe what they do.  It’s really just a matter of trying to understand why, while not making this same person feel inferior or less than intelligent for holding said belief. 

What do you think?  Am I being a bit naive on this point?  Am I capitulating too much to the ‘other side’?  Is this too ‘Pie in the Sky’ mentality to think that an honest discussion can occur on such topics? 

Curious to know your thoughts, and thanks for stopping by,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 22 – Donating Beyond Belief to Help Haitians

January 16, 2010

With the recent events in Haiti, I ask you to check out a site that has helped me sort through a number of charities in terms of their ability to provide the most help with the least religious overtones in their helping.  

The Haitian people are suffering immeasurably in this latest natural disaster, and I think, regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, we can all agree that helping these people in their ‘hour of need’, so to speak, is a good thing to do.

I just recently saw an article in the Huffington Post, published on New Year’s Day by Valerie Tarico, that caught my attention.  The article, entitled, “Hey Atheist — Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is” is about a new foundation that attempts to put a nicer ‘face’, if you will, on atheists and agnostics who are concerned about humanity every bit as much as theists and religious people.  The foundation is called ‘Foundation Beyond Belief’ at http://foundationbeyondbelief.org and offers much information on various charities that are providing help to people in need simply because it’s the right thing to do, not because of any theistic belief system.

While I think in times like these, whatever you give to help to whatever charity is much appreciated. 

But, as an agnostic, I want my donation to go to agencies who are helping the needy, and doing so without a religious agenda. 

This is not a ‘knock’ on these religious charities.  You do good work, and in the end, sincerely, I am glad you exist. 

I just think it’s time for, as Tarico’s article speaks to, atheists and agnostics to demonstrate that we have emotions too, and just because there is a NATURAL disaster from what we believe are NATURAL causes, we don’t just turn away from those NATURALLY affected.  We want to help as much as the theists do, we just don’t ascribe any SUPERNATURAL pretense to our helping, or appeal to a SUPERNATURAL being for relief. 

WE, the human beings of planet Earth, are the relief.  We must do our best to help our fellow human beings on the planet at all times, but especially during the most dire of times for people affected by forces beyond their control.  There should be plenty of ‘room at the table’, so to speak, for people who want to help without religion, and those that want to help with. 

Thank you for reading this entry, and I hope you will find time to do something to help out during this most difficult time for the Haitian people,

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 21: Concluding comments on “the lunch” and why a naturalistic outlook for me works best

December 16, 2009

So…after 20 entries of trying to explain to my family and friends what I meant by my comments last year about my Dad passing away (see Entries 1 and 2), I am down to this last entry on ‘the lunch’ and why supernatural outlooks just don’t work for me any more. 

In terms of how I view my life:

1.  I have a wife that loves me dearly and we enjoy each other’s company(for the most part, except when we don’t 😉 )

2.  My wife and I have a new little one now who eats, sleeps, and poops on weird schedules.

3.  My wife and I have jobs we both enjoy doing.

4.  We both have friends and family to visit with and love. 

So far, the 1-4 life deal above has been pretty good to me, to us. 

I really have no complaints.

Is life perfect for me?  Are there times where 1-4 aren’t functioning quite right?  Absolutely not, and a resounding yes, respectively. 

I have days where I ask myself why I even considered exiting the bedroom.  There are problems in my life, just like there are in just about every other of the 6 billion people on the planet’s lives.  Some problems are much worse than others (see  Tiger Woods), while others are not so bad. 

And while I have family and friends who like to alleviate problems in their lives with supernatural thinking, and injecting a supernatural being ‘into the mix’, so to speak, to find comfort, I have gone a different way. 

I know these same family and friends will not understand that there is comfort to be found in this ‘different way’, but I humbly ask that you respect that I have come to different conclusions about ‘your way’, and think looking at life in a naturalistic fashion is ‘my way’. 

When I read and reread the Christian Bible, and books like Rick Warren’s (see Entry 13), they all seem to me incredibly limiting in explaining the scope of human experience.  Their theses and logic are so dichotomous, rigid, and teleological.  Life just isn’t like that in how I’ve come to know it. 

In the same way you, my family members, desire me to come over to your way of thinking about the world, I sincerely would love it if you could come over to mine.  However, I will do my best to never, ever try to push my way of thinking on to you, or try to sway you toward my way of thinking.  I will, however, just throw this little caveat out there.  If you are inclined to want to begin to let go of supernatural thinking, then I invite you to call or write me anytime. 

I’ve spent the last 16 years doing it (lettting go of God, essentially), and I’d be more than over-ecstatic to share with you my experiences.  Maybe it wouldn’t be as scary knowing that another in your family and friend circle took the leap so to speak?   And trust me, on this, it is a very scary thing letting go of supernatural thinking, letting go of God.  I make no excuses for that reality.   

However, the ‘letting go of God’ can be, and is for me, incredibly rewarding once you get to a place of ‘stasis’ (the ‘God doesn’t have a bullet with my name on it’ equilibrium point*), and can make sense of your journey through this life.   

Thanks for reading all these incredibly long entries that were originally part of an even longer letter to my family and friends.  And thanks for bearing with me to finally get this in writing.  

To you, my family members who questioned me that day last year about where my Dad was after passing away on this earth, I don’t begrudge you or harbor any ill will.  Truly I don’t.  Rather I say “I love you dearly, but I have to speak up sometimes for I what I believe in too.” 

Please know again that these entries (1 to 21) were a labor of love…just not supernatural labor 🙂   

For next time, I’ll be addressing some topics a  family member of mine on the other side of the aisle (yes, there are other atheists in the family, gasp!) have suggested I cover.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

TRC

the.recovering.christian@wordpress.com

Entry 20 – What is “liberal” education, and how do I keep it away from my kids?

December 13, 2009

We are quickly coming to a close on all the topics I wanted to cover with that lunch last year with my family (see Entries 1 and 2).  There is just really one more thing I wanted to address that came up at that lunch.  Some in my family have speculated that I must have been “corrupted” during my undergraduate and graduate school years from “liberal professors”.  Some even go so far to say that they are glad that they and their children never went off to college and got “poisoned” by these said professors.  I’m not really sure they quite understand just how insulting that kind of sentiment is to me, and I would imagine anyone else who has ever decided to go to college for additional education. 

Granted, people can abuse the privilege of getting a college degree.  They can not take the experience seriously.  They can waste all of their four years on fraternity parties and alcohol, and not give a second thought to how incredibly important it is to understand history, science, mathematics, art, literature, and the entire human experience.  And also granted that it doesn’t require someone to get that knowledge from within the confines of a university or college.  One can just as easily go to their local library and do the exact same thing free of charge.  It’s just that in our society, we have set aside the cultural norm of letting 18 to 24 year olds (or thereabouts) spend about 4 years of their lives involved in intensive study of the things that we as a society deem important (i.e. the same list above, history, science, mathematics, and the like).  

Insinuating though that people who go off to college simply lose their faith in the supernatural because a professor professes “liberal” ideas is really quite a disingenous and unreasoned argument.  It also completely discounts a human being’s ability to think and reason in the first place.  If I took everything I heard from my professors as “the truth” I would be doing a disservice to myself and society.  The point of college, and really any kind of education anywhere, in my humble opinion, is to help the student think on their own, critically analyze ideas, and see if the ideas work or don’t work.

Sure, there are facts and figures to learn, but at the end of the day, if you can read a newspaper, watch a television show, have a conversation with someone, and know how to find out for yourself if things you’ve read or heard are correct, then you are pretty much well on your way to being a completely self-sufficient, self-correcting, self-actualized human being.  And, I might add, a productive part of any society. 

I didn’t have very good critical thinking skills going into my undergraduate education, and even today, I still feel as if I have a long way to go to becoming gifted in terms of thinking critically.  But I believe the process has started for me, and the journey of learning is one of the most amazing journeys I’ve been able to make. 

Again, going off to college and graduate school do not automatically qualify you for obtaining said critical thinking skills.  Those are hard fought, so to speak, by the individual, and a four year institution piece of paper does not guarantee that that kind of learning took place.  What does guarantee the learning process took place is if the person can use reason and logic in the defense of their beliefs about the world in everyday conversation at the workplace and at home.     

 Now I have family members that believe in the supernatural wholeheartedly, and are incredibly financially successful at what they do.  Some have started businesses from the ground up, literally.  Some have kids and grandkids that are just an absolute joy to be around.  These same family members have other family members that love them back and care deeply about them (myself included).  Some of these family members never went to college, but are just as smart, and in many cases, much smarter than someone who did.  Some have even studied many different aspects of the human experience and come away richer, in both senses of the word, for it. 

I would hope that you, my fellow family members, who are still reading these entries could at the very least respect me for my ability to think on my own, and not automatically label me as a drone of the “liberal professors” who dole out their “liberal poison” to unsuspecting minds. 

My mind is not unsuspecting.  It has suspected for a long time that good ideas are difficult to come by, and incredibly precious once they have “arrived”.  I don’t criticize my supernaturally believing family members in their ways of thinking about life, or their choices as to how they’ve educated themselves.  I respect them.  I hope they can respect me.

Next time, my concluding comments on the “lunch” and a branch off to other topics that I find interesting. 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 19: We the People…in Order to form a more perfect…Christian nation?

December 9, 2009

 Quick note on those select individuals we like to call the “Fathers” who came from England and other parts of Europe to start anew on the shores of what we now call the Atlantic Coast. These same individuals with the support of a majority of people eventually started a new form of government, and spent a very long time (11 years) drafting a guiding document that would be purposely secular. Let me say that again, this guiding document was purposely secular. 

If you don’t believe me on this one, please take some time to look up for yourself what actually transpired between September 1786 to September 1787 in Philadelphia, PA. It’s an amazing story, full of drama, intrigue, and suspense. I think if you study just this one year of U.S. History you will be hard pressed to call our country one founded on “Christian” fundamentals, and one such “Christian Nation”. This latter term has got to be one of the best urban legends circulating at the present time. I implore you to look up the primary source documents from this year during the Constitutional Convention attended by our numerous “forefathers”.

There were bitter fights during the convention revolving around how to deal with slavery, how States would be represented in the national government system, and also, yes, about what role “God” would play in the wording of the final document called the “Constitution”. At the end of the day, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, and many others signed off on a secular piece of paper that would guide our Nation into the history books, if you will, as a model for democracy to the rest of the world.

The document is still secular, yet it includes provisions for people who do believe in the supernatural as well as those who don’t. And in the end, those two groups of people have exactly the same goal; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I hope that our country can continue to exist with these two groups of people for some time to come. I believe the formulators of our republic worked very hard to create a government that allowed freedom for those who DO believe in the supernatural, and those that DO NOT.

It is our charge as citizens of this country to respect the freedom to practice NON-belief as well as belief. It’s the very freedom that is provided by our constitution to practice religion, that actually provides the same freedom to those that don’t want to practice.

Please, if you are one to think that the United States of America is a ‘Christian’ Nation founded on ‘Christian’ principles, I implore you to, at the very least, honestly study that year previously mentioned in this post.  I think you will be quite surprised by what you find.

Next time, a liberal education…the horror!  Oh, the horror!

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com

Entry 18 – An Agnostic in Islam’s Court

December 4, 2009

Thought I would interrupt the ‘already scheduled program’ to bring you a ‘special report’. 

I posted this story on another favorite blog of mine called The Misanthrope’s Journal.  Here it is…

Was waiting to see my dentist the other day and I picked up a recent Time Magazine with a picture of the Fort Hood Suspect, Hasan, on the cover. A huge banner over his face read, “Terrorist?”

A man sitting on a couch in the waiting room saw me with the magazine and said to me, “Terrorist, huh?”

I muttered something like, “Yeah, that was a horrible situation what happened at Fort Hood.”

The man came back with, tongue in cheek so to speak, “Yeah, but Muslims, they have a religion of peace.”

I muttered back with a neutral “Hmmm”.

Then I went to that place in my brain and asked, “Wonder if I should try and stick up for Islam here at least in small measure?” Answer came back, “Yeah I guess so”. So here is what I said back…

“Yeah, but you know, I think pretty much all religions are ‘on the hook’ so to speak when it comes to this sort of thing. Religion by its very nature is exclusionary and can breed fanaticism in its followers…” something to that effect.

Man, kind of chuckled at my statement, feeling smug, as I saw it, in what he was going to come back with next. “Yeah, but Christianity isn’t like that.”

He spouted off a verse in the New Testament (can’t remember which one), but it was something to the effect of Jesus’ statements about love and peace.

And while I don’t deny that Jesus made these statements (assuming Jesus’ statements have been accurately recorded by his followers, Jesus was actually a real person, and his statements were passed down accurately down through the millennia…whole other issue there), I think there are many others like the verse in Matthew Chapter 10, verse 34 where Jesus says he came not to bring peace, but a sword.

Conversation kinda died.

Luckily, he found a good ‘out’ with the billing lady who was passing through the lobby, and easily transitioned away from a difficult religious issue with a…”Hey, about my bill from last time…”

I think more than organized religion, and the question of whether a religion is a religion of peace or a religion of violence, the more accurate question is was Hasan a critical thinker?  I’m guessing he pretty much sucked at it.  And I think that had he been a good critical thinker he might not have changed the worlds of the people he killed and the families of the same so completely and sadly.

If Hasan had received more critical thinking training and less religious counseling, maybe his mental state would have improved and the outcomes witnessed from his extremist interpretations of the Koran never realized.

Please, if you want to be religious, that’s fine, we live in a country that respects your right to practice your religion.  But I beg you to NOT check your brain at the door.

With every dose of religiousity you take in the mosque, in the synagogue, or in the church, ‘wash’ those pills down, so to speak, with a healthy amount of sketicism and critical thinking.

I promise next time to get into the subject of America as being founded as a ‘Christian’ nation.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

TRC

the.recovering.christian@gmail.com