God Bless America
Right? We hear it every Independence Day. It’s what we hear around election time. I mean, why wouldn’t we want to endorse a candidate who has “the right morals”?
I’m taking a break from my current topic which has been combating the “100 Reasons God Doesn’t Exist,” because I’ve been noticing a bigger and bigger problem with Christianity in America. The more I’ve been seeking God these last couple years…the more I’ve noticed that people have somehow got it into their heads that the U.S.A. is the New Israel, that America is God’s chosen land.
Side note: did you know other people in the world think Americans have an ego problem? I can’t figure why…
Let’s clarify something, though, before some of you get your red, white, & blue undies in a bunch: I love my country. I love my people. America is my home. I want God to bless America. The problem, as I see it, is that when some Christians say “God bless America,” they’re not just asking God to bless America, they’re asking it on the basis of their belief that America is acting in accord with God’s will. This is like when a Christian goes up to their pastor after a service and says, “God bless you pastor, for doing what you do, thank you so much.” The person wants God to bless the pastor, yes, but implicit in that statement is the reason for why that pastor should be blessed. And what breaks my heart is that, come any sort of American holiday, all of the sudden churches are draped in Red White and Blue as if Uncle Sam took a giant deuce all over our church campuses. Pardon my ‘Merican, but I don’t know how else to properly convey my opinion of the decor; there are more flags on U.S. holidays at churches than there are crosses or Christian symbols on any given Sunday. RUN AND TELL THAT.
Now, I understand the founding fathers liked the Bible; they even derived a lot of the laws of our land from the Bible. There are things about our constitution, like the protection of inalienable rights because of the belief that all of us are made in the image of God, that I’m fond of. That, however, does not make the U.S. a Christian nation, and it definitely does not mean that as Christians we need to be proud of our government, or that we should support it AS Christians. Let’s remember that not every single person in government is a Christian, and nor has it ever been that way (I can’t back that up, but I’m willing to bet my citizenship that there’s been some non-believers). Let’s also not forget that this country was founded through a bloody revolution.
Hold on, we have to pay HOW much for tea?! That’s freaking ridiculous! Man, I would KILL people in order to pay less for tea…
Or the numerous atrocities that the American “Christians” pulled against the Native Americans? Or the racism institutionalized through slavery? The racism through segregation after that? Or the racism that still gets perpetuated under a different guise to this day in legislation that keeps minorities in ghettos, their schools in poor shape, and black men behind bars (I won’t go into that, but even if you don’t know what I’m talking about, or do and don’t agree, this argument is no less without it)? How about the many wars we’ve started? The dictators we’ve put in place (Saddam Hussein), or countless women and children we’ve killed in the Middle East, caught in the midst of our mad fervor to fight terrorism (ironically becoming terrorists to many in the Middle East)? Even if you’re not a Quaker like me and you believe in Just-War (I’ll convert you later), there is no way in heaven, hell, or on earth that you can honestly tell me that the U.S. government is one that upholds Christian values. How is it that we can affirm verses like “It’s harder for the rich man to enter heaven than to fit a camel through the eye of a needle” and in the same breath uphold America as Christian when it’s THE RICHEST NATION ON EARTH? How do we read the story of the Good Samaritan on Sunday and on Monday ignore our neighbors struggling under the weight of medical bills or suffering because of their inability to even go to the hospital in the first place?
Am I saying that the U.S. hasn’t done any good things? No. Am I saying that the U.S. is some malevolent beast bent on violence and domination? No. Pretty much most people in the world, no matter who they are, like to THINK they’re doing the right thing, that they’re “fighting the good fight.” But I also like to think I’m a lot smarter than I am, that I’m a better writer than I am, and that I’m a WHOLE lot funnier than I really am. But that doesn’t make me so, and neither does wanting the U.S. to be Christian make it Christian. Christians, in my opinion, are the people who take the words of Christ and the Scriptures of the Bible seriously.
If we’re so Christian, why don’t we take these verses seriously:
Matthew 22:39 “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself…”
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God”
Matthew 5:43 “Love your enemies; pray for persecutors”
John 18:11 “Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath…”
John 28:36 “If my kingdom were of this world…my servants would fight”
Romans 12:17 “Return no one evil for evil…live at peace with everyone”
2 Corinthian 10:3-4 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
2 Timothy 2:24 “The servant of the Lord must be gentle to all”
Please, tell me if that sounds like America to you. And tell me if I’m wrong and why.
I hope this post encourages Christians to re-think where their allegiance lies.
I hope this post encourages non-Christians to know there are other kinds of Christians out there.
P.S. This video epitomizes my lament. We are the Crusades.
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This actually happened.
Reading this post on Believing in God is Immoral may or may not literally have the same result with you. The post is #4 of 100 on why God doesn’t exist. My post you have now embarked upon is a counter-series to this silliness.
Until now, I have not held the author, McCormick, in the highest regard scholastically, but still have recognized the fact that he’s a professor and is misguided, yes, but not completely without merit in his argumentation; this post changed that. It naively masquerades as a legitimate argument, but in reality is the emperor without his clothes. It is nothing but a scalding, emotionally fraught, straw-man argument. If you don’t know what a straw man is, Google it; I don’t have time to hyperlink the whole internet (SHEESH).
His argument is this: A ton of religious people say that you can only be moral and good if you believe in God, and that without the fear of divine punishment, all of us would rape, pillage, and plunder all that is good in the world. With reckless abandon we’d dive into all licentiousness! (Google that one too) If we were just evolved monkeys, we’d have no sense of law or morality. BUT, this fails to acknowledge how immoral it is to believe in God in the first place, so his argument goes. Why? I’ll tell you why! I mean, isn’t it wrong to believe in a claim that:
1) you know is false? -Well, if people believed it to be false, we wouldn’t have martyrs. Bad, naughty, atheistic presumption.
2) contributes to the confusion or false beliefs of others? -If God exists, and the Bible is true, then this doesn’t lead people astray. Again, bad presumption. This ASSUMES from the get-go that God does not exist.
3) encourages supernatural, spooky, non-critical, fuzzy-headed thinking? -Not sure what that last one was, but I don’t think it’s immoral…? As for the rest, you assume that “supernatural” is false, when it potentially could be true; it hasn’t been ruled out yet. As far as non-critical, I’d say all of my posts have been fairly critical, and the only instance in which these atheistic posts have been critical is in a pedantic, demeaning sense. Plenty of critical thinking here.
4) fosters fear and anxiety? -The Gospel is actually supposed to be used for love and peace. The amount of those two in my life has increased 100 fold, and just because there are people who have misused the message, does not mean it’s inherently bad. Even secular philosophers have agreed that the Bible has a great message. Ghandi, for Pete’s sake, who no one can say fostered fear and anxiety, loved what the Bible taught.
5) creates complacency about social problems, social policy, and the future of humanity on this planet? -Legitimate claim here, except that’s only characteristic of mainstream, ultra-conservative, American evangelism (due to their own ego-centric eschatological views), which is rather a minority compared to the amount of other Christians. Let’s not forget MLK Jr., Bishop Carlos Belo, Archibishop Desmond Tutu, or Nelson Mandela, who have championed social justice at high costs and by no means created complacency.
6) undermines the advancement of science? -Funny how a lot of the leading scientists have been Christian, including Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Gregor Mendel, and in the modern era Francis Collins, who headed the Human Genome Project, or Hugh Ross and his team at RTB. Undermines science, you say? I say “nay.”
7) contributes to the stagnation of human progress? -Not sure what you mean, but I can tell you that you find Christians in every social justice issue and on the frontiers of science. I guess you define “progress” differently?
8) encourages a historically outdated, over-simplified worldview? -And by this you mean what? That humans have inherent worth, are unique, ought to love one another, and live in peace? Yeah…that does sound outdated.
9) stalls our progress in dealing with new, complicated and important moral issues? -Oh, you mean like how we should deal with apartheid, genocide, human rights, abortion, and sexual relations? Unfortunately (and by unfortunately, I mean fortunately), there are lots of reasonable, loving, and caring academics who approach those issues like Jennell Williams Paris (sexuality), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (human rights, genocide), Nelson Mandela (apartheid), and Tim Keller (abortion, human rights).
10) has no good evidence in its favor? -I’m…not even going to get into this one. Just read the rest of my blog.
11) encourages cultural and ethnic strife? -Oh you mean like evolution did as Darwin wrote about the evolution of races? Because you can’t be talking about how in the Book of Revelation there were people of every nation and tribe standing together before the Lord.
12) gives people false hopes? -Presumptuous, again.
13) is self-deluding? -I’ll take this as a light-hearted joke, and not an actual point.
14) fosters fear, confusion, and fuzzy, magical thinking in children? -The latter part I still fear is not a bad thing anyways…? But fear and confusion is a part of childhood, buddy. The only thing that I knew I could count on as a kid was God’s goodness, and it was clear and comforting.
15) fosters false beliefs in children? -I don’t see people coming under fire for Santa Claus at Christmas, but again, false assumption.
16) impede’s children’s acquisition of our most important, modern advancements in knowledge? -I was raised Christian, and that never stopped me from questioning flaws in Newtonian physics in relation to Quantum physics, dilemmas with the space-time continuum and time travel, human genome intricacies, or the air-speed velocity of a swallow (European or African).
17) is a case of akrasia (acting against one’s better judgment)? -Man, you really need to read my blog, because I act in my best judgment for some good reasons.
The rest of the post beautifully persuades, with many o’ literary device, the reader to accept the “truth” that a belief in God is a weakness or an inability of a person to cope with life and its difficulties, a result of someone’s personal and communal reiteration that God is real. We’re all Dorothy’s who want there to be “no place like home” so badly that we actually convince ourselves, despite the staggering facts that say otherwise, that there is a home, a paradise, where we’re meant to be. It all started as something “we knew wasn’t true but we hoped was,” and need a 12-Step to get off the God drug.
It was at this point that my head exploded.
I really am trying my best to not blame the author right now, because it is very likely that he just knows some really bad Christians, or better yet just sees Christians post dumb things on the internet (obviously didn’t see this blog, though). The fact is, however, is that Christianity is tough. There’s a reason we use discourse like “dying to ourselves,” because we forsake that which our bodies often tell us are good. We re-think the world as we see it from a self-centered view and replace it with an other-centered view in which we no longer are the main character, but God, where we come to point at which we can no longer deny God’s presence in our lives and decide to leap over our chasm of doubt and embrace the reality of something greater than ourselves which is just as real as the very computer on which I type. The fact is that nothing in our lives are 100% verifiable. Nothing about anything is certain, so we have to put our faith in SOMETHING, and if we’re going to live our life as if it is true, then we had better be sure that we have good reasons to do so. After a lot of critical thinking and reading, I came to the conclusion that God must exist. I fought the idea philosophically, and I wanted God to not be real–that meant I could live as I wanted to live–but when I was honest with myself, I knew it was not true, and I had to face the shame and guilt of my sinful past, in which I had done good, yes, and was able to do moral things, but the amount of sin I had accumulated alongside those good deeds was like a planet among the stars.
“Hi, I’m Christopher and I’ve truly believed since 2008.”
P.S. Shout-out to Danielle for reading my posts and reminding me to write another one.
100 Reasons Why God Doesn’t Not Exist #4
The article I’m responding to is Begging the Question: Miracles and Nature, just one in a series of posts about “Why God Doesn’t Exist.”
The original article talks about how Christians like to use the fine-tuning argument to prove the existence of God (i.e. without God we wouldn’t have such an orderly, finely-tuned universe) while at the SAME TME saying that miracles performed by Jesus also prove God (i.e. actions that defy the laws of the universe). You can’t say the laws of the universe prove God’s existence, and then say the lawlessness of God also proves His existence. It’s circular reasoning to say that either lawfulness or lawlessness both prove God.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Well, first I’d like to thank the author for his honest attempt at representing the argument by Christians; he truly evaluates it for its merits and downfalls, portraying it for what its worth. Okay, that was sarcasm, I’m not sure if you knew that. …now you know.
There’s a few issues that he fails to acknowledge, however. The first is that IF God exists, then of course everything that happens is a result of God. God’s very existence, at least as depicted from the traditional Judeo-Christian perspective, demands that nothing would contradict his existence, and that all evidence would point to Him. So yes, “no matter what happens, miracle or not, God will be credited.” Sorry, that’s just what is logically demanded on the assumption that God exists. When discussing whether or not God exists, we have to take 2 different assumptions and go from there: 1) If God exists then we would expect _____ and 2) If God does not exist then we would expect ____. McCormick, the author, thinks that it is fallacious to presume God and then account for his activity, but this just isn’t true. The better approach is to evaluate BOTH perspectives to see which one better accounts for our reality.
OK. Now…does a miraculous God contradict an orderly universe? Let’s first discuss what a miracle is. Hugh Ross, a Christian apologist, talks about two kinds of miracles: transcendent and nontranscendent. Transcendent would be considered supernatural, like Jesus walking on water, whereas non transcendent would be divinely directed natural means, something that has a natural explanation, but obviously came from God. This could be like the plagues in Egypt , where there is a scientific explanation, but when you have a person prophesying the phenomena (Moses), and it actually occurring as he said, the timing of the events and their affectation are clearly divinely guided. What about transcendent miracles though? Well, I think I can simply say: It’s God. He has the power to manipulate and create anything. So his own creation is easily manipulated. When healing, is it magic? Or is it a rapid manipulation of molecules or atoms into a different state? God could easily not directly defy the laws he created and manipulate matter. He could perform transcendent miracles without violating any of the laws of physics and so forth, because they would be isolated in a small location. Or He could create an orderly, finely tuned universe and intermittently bend some laws in order to make His presence more known.
Miraculously enough, I can have my cake and eat it too.
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#2 Post on “100 Reasons Why God Doesn’t Not Exist.
Original Post: “A God Who Performs Miracles is Evil” by Matt McCormick. Evangelical Atheist.
I wish I could say this was a joke, but it’s not, so I will respond to it legitimately.
The article basically says that since God is all-powerful, he should be able to cure all people/things/animals/etc, but he doesn’t. IN FACT, as if he’s just throwing it in people’s faces, he cures some people and not others. In a hospital, a person might miraculously be cured while someone else slowly dies of a degenerative disease. This is equatable, goes the argument, to the incident a few years back involving Kitty Genovese, who was killed outside her apartment in NY, who screamed and cried for help while no one did anything; no one came out to help, and no one even called the police. Plenty of people heard, but they remained indifferent. Or it is similar to a doctor administering a vaccine to only a few children in a hospital instead of all of them, resulting in others receiving the disease. Since God is able, and idly stands by as people suffer, he must be an evil God. The fact that he cures some and not others is just malicious.
Okay, so there’s a lot to unpack here, and I hope you have already begun to see some of the flaws. The first flaw is this: God is indifferent. There is no mention in the case of Kitty Genovese as to what the reasons for why no one helped. I can imagine that plenty of people did not come to her aid out of fear. They may not have even called 911 out of fear, fear that the person would find out who called the cops when they police come to the door. Or they may have thought that whatever was going on wasn’t their business. I think we can safely say, however, that a vast majority of them were not “immoral in their indifference,” as McCormick so judgmentally quips in his post. Think about it, we all read or hear of this story (many of us have) and we express our unbelief that something could ever happen like without anyone even dialing 911! Yet…a lot of people did not. Why? Is that area just some place where all the immorally deficient go? Or is there something more to the story than “those people are just horrible (my own interpretation of McCormick).”
(if logic bores you, then skip to next paragraph 😉 ) My point is, people had reasons for not acting. They might not have been good, but they were reasons that prohibited them from acting. In the same way, God has reasons for everything that He does. Whether or not you want to say that God is good or bad is another discussion, but at the very least, IF God did something, THEN God exists. Easy. McCorcmick, however, is trying to say that IF God is good, and there is evil, THEN God does not exist.
Wait…those statements don’t exactly match up. Because what’s missing is, “Good and evil cannot co-exist.” But there’s been no work done to connect those statements. Just because one exists, it does not exclude the other. In fact, because one exists, it shows that the other does! If you’re in a bright room and you see no darkness, not even a shadow, you would not know what darkness was. But if you put a table in the room, and see that underneath the table there is darkness, then you would be able to distinguish them; you’d have light and dark. So McCormick, by acknowledging evil, proves that evil and good CAN co-exist. Which means his logic fails! We could stop right here and say his argument is wrong, but we’ll go on just for funsies.
Now some of you really don’t care about logic, so I’ll take another route. Suppose God loves everyone, and knows what’s good for us, and wants what’s good for us. But in order for us to be our own beings and to love (which is good) we have to be free. So right away God has limited his abilities in what He can do, because he has decided to create free will. He is limited in this sense (because God is logical, right? We can’t trust a nonsense, silly God, you silly goose). But God still wants us to know what’s good, and in order for us to truly know good, we have to know Him, because He IS good. God, being omnipotent then, will do whatever it takes to get us to know Him, but will have to work around the free will of humanity. This means that he allows evil, yes, but not out of indifference, it is out of love and out of sorrow at our pain.
He does do miracles, yes, but he does them so that they point back to Him, so that we can know Him. If he did miracles all the time, and never let us feel pain, we would become like spoiled children. When I messed up as a kid, like forget about a project and not have the materials, my parents could have easily stepped in and helped me so that I could finish it. But in order for me to learn to take care of myself, to be responsible, and to not be careless, they would let me suffer. My parent’s were not punishing me, just as God doesn’t cause all the pain in the world, they just didn’t step in so that I could begin to see. God does the same thing with us, on an individual level, as well as on a communal level.
When people take care of us all the time, it can become mundane, ordinary, and we don’t appreciate it. What good does that do if God becomes mundane to us and we forget Him? There’s a whole life after this, and if we have to suffer momentarily, but get to be with God and be forever joyful afterwards, isn’t it worth it?! If I have a disease and it’s killing me, should I dope myself up on morphine all day and feel good or should I instead take medicine to heal myself and painfully struggle through it so I can live a long and healthy life afterwards?
The answer to that is easy.
It’s not YOLO. It’s YHWH.
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100 Reasons Why God Doesn’t Not Exist #1
Here’s the post I’m responding to. Read it first IF YOU DARE.
Why is there a 300 year old gap between the events of Jesus and the oldest existing Biblical manuscript???
Well, the simple answer is…there isn’t. That’s the thing about the internet, you can pretty much say whatever you want and no one will know. The oldest extant (which means “still in existence”) manuscript that we have is the Rylands Papyrus, or P52 for short., and it dates to 117-138CE. It’s a portion of the Gospel of John. It’s also the image above. Anyhoozies, this professor McCormick makes a few mistakes in his post that lead him to believe in a 300 year gap. Since scholars believe that Mark is the oldest gospel, and the oldest gospel of Mark we have is 300 years old, then there must be a 300 year gap AT LEAST. This is problematic. He must not know much about textual criticism, because if he did he would know that Mark is usually believed to be the first Gospel written based on textual criticism, and that even secular scholars, like Bart Ehrman, agree that Mark was probably written and circulating around 70-100CE (some even say earlier, although I’m not well-aware of all the arguments for why). Matthew is argued at 70-100CE, Luke 80-100CE, and John 90-110CE (although some argue, with good merit I think, that it was composed before 70CE, before the fall of Jerusalem). I should also note that most texts of antiquity don’t even come close to the small gap that Biblical texts have. The oldest copy we have of Sophocles is 1,400 years after his death, and we don’t have many copies, yet it’s taken as credible. Most manuscript evidence we have for other historical pieces number by the handful, while the Bible has over 5,00 Greek manuscripts, 8,000 Latin manuscripts, and over 25,000 manuscripts when you include all of multiple languages put together.
“OKAY HOL’ UP, HOL’ UP, HOL’ UP,” you’re probably saying right now. “Jesus died around 30(ish)CE, so that’s still like a 40 year gap.”
Well, you’re quite astute, my little Holmes. Very good. But to fabricate a story of a man rising from the dead, healing people, and raising other people from the dead, is a pretty wild story, especially while there are still people alive who knew or knew of Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, the Biblical authors, like Paul, even challenge people to go and double check their information and truthfulness. They name all the cities Jesus was in and name people he healed. Those are pretty brazen claims for people to make. As far as witness reliability, let’s not forget that Jesus was crucified. The Jewish leaders and Roman officials saw him as dangerous to the political system. Jesus’s own disciples all fled when he was killed. So witness fabrication is a possibility, I will grant you that, BUT does it really make sense to risk your life for something you know wasn’t true? In the climate in which the Gospels were written there was a lot of Christian persecution, up until the 4th century CE. Christians were brutally killed, publicly, and if they didn’t risk their life they risked social ostracizing. The only thing we risk in America in proclaiming the Gospel is funny looks and a little ridicule, at best. Also, this was a largely illiterate society, so people didn’t prefer written accounts, they wanted people to TELL THEM. The Gospels are stories. People liked stories. It would have been more reliable to hear it from someone than to hear it read. So things were only written down when the first hand accounts (the disciples) were dying. The disciples’ disciples were the ones who would have distributed the accounts, after having been written by the disciples.
“Well yeah, but why don’t we have the originals though? If they cared about it that much.”
That’s another good point, and I’m really glad you asked. Let’s talk about that. Remember, people were not literate. This means that only a few people could actually read, which means there were only need of a few written accounts. The smaller number of documents, the less likely they would be preserved. Also, officials would have destroyed the Gospels when found. If you were a first, second, or third century Christian, and you risked being killed, imprisoned, or ostracized from your family, do you think you’d flaunt your Gospel, if you even had the privilege of having one?
We are a highly document-oriented society. We don’t believe something unless it’s in print, stamped with some scientist’s or official’s name, but that just wasn’t the case in the first century. We have to remove our own cultural lens in order to understand the past. Whether you believe the miraculous of Jesus or not, we have to believe that the Gospel accounts of Jesus accurately reflect the beliefs of people in the first century, people who were willing to risk their lives for him, otherwise we have to discount practically all the established facts of ancient history.
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I know. It’s a double-negative. But as much as it kills me to use it, I use it for a reason.
See there’s this other blog I found called The Atheism Blog, and the author seems to think he’s dropped quite the intellectual bomb on Christianity. He made a post called 100 Reasons Why God Does Not Exist. What he has done there is quite a feat; he wrote 100 reasons why he thinks God doesn’t exist. The blogger is Matt McCormick, a professor at CSUS. I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too, “There’s no way it could be wrong then, because a Cal-State professor authored these posts.” Well before you start tearing your Bible at the seams, let’s remember that everyone has biases, and just because someone is a professor does not mean they are going to approach a hot-topic issue like religion with the purest of academic scrutiny and critical evaluation. Now that goes for me too, so read everything I post with a grain of salt and really think about it. Evaluate it for its merits and pitfalls, and tell me what you think. It’s a shame that people can’t usually discuss religion, or worldviews, I should say (that’s inclusive language, so we can talk about people who aren’t religious), without getting a bit too heated.
What I’m going to do is go through these posts, one at a time, and rebut them. It’s going to take a while I’m sure, and some might be longer than others, but it’s important stuff, and you should know the material whether you’re Christian or not. I mean think about it: if God really does exist, isn’t He worth considering the notion? If it turns out He’s not real, no biggie. But if it turns out He IS real, then He’s the biggest biggie of all.
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