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Showing posts from May, 2016

Canoe Trip

By Richard Zane Smith ~ T here was a man and his wife who had two lovely daughters. He and his wife loved them both very much. He had just built a wooden canoe and he took his daughters out onto the lake to teach them fishing and paddling and simply to enjoy the beautiful day together. While they were fishing he told them of a story he'd never shared. When the daughter were both young he had risked his life entering into their burning house to save them. The older daughter was awed and said "Wow…dad you must really love us!" to which he smiled and replied "Yes I sure do!" The younger daughter became thoughtful. "When did you save us dad and why has mom never talked about it?" The father was a little hurt. "You don't believe me? Don't you love me?" The older daughter said "I believe you Daddy and I love you most of all." The younger daughter said "Of course I love you dad… I just love mom more."

How the Internet is killing religion -- Part 1

By John Draper ~ T his chart comes from a study by Allen Downey , a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts. The two charts show the correlation between the rise in the use of the Internet (the blue line on the top) and the percentage of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. As you can see, as more and more people use the Internet, more and more people have become less religious. Using data from the University of Chicago, Downey determined that the biggest influence on religious affiliation is religious upbringing. That is, people tend to believe what they were raised to believe. Similarly, college-level education correlates with the drop in religious affiliation. That is, people who go to college are less likely to be religious. Damn you to hell, higher learning! Here’s the kicker: Downey went on to say that 25 percent of the drop in religious affiliation can be correlated with the increase in Internet use. Acknowledging that

It's Obvious

By Carl S ~ E very Sunday morning, WizenedSage and I get together in the cafe to talk. (We don't think about the fact that the Enlightenment started from such meetings, but it's the same tradition.) Since we're both hearing impaired, we must be louder at times than the conversations around us. Sometimes, someone who’s overheard us comes over to comment, to agree, and, of course, to add personal input. Recently, a man who owns property next to me sat down to say he's been reading Christopher Hitchen's book, " God Is Not Great ," and others. He's concluded that now he understands what we're talking about. On the non-existence of God , he said that it's "obvious." There are innumerable believers who will counter, "It's obvious there is a God." Unlike Hitchens arguments, their "proof" is repeating what they've been told, not what they've considered from all sides of the yes/no arguments. They'

Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much

By Carl S ~ D o these words sound familiar? "You guys deny God and that Jesus is God, but you're fighting against what you know is true. You know in your hearts he's real, but you keep coming up with more protests, saying the evidence shows he can’t exist. He is your judge, and you're just taunting him to punish you, but he won't because he loves you. You only want to be immoral, so you use your denial of him as an excuse to sin. You're too strident, too protesting and you're lying to yourselves. You'll never convince me otherwise. You need to let go and let God. Stop being so negative. Find peace again by allowing him to do his work in you." On the other hand - aren't the ones saying these things protesting too much? If the God they claim really exists, why would they need to defend his existence so stridently? Can't their god fight his own battles; does he need them to do it for him? That's cowardly. Do they really think they&

What's Up

By Carl S ~ W hen my two children became teens, we all decided it was time for them to give away the stuffed animals of their childhoods. I enjoyed watching them pack up those characters and listening to the stories they shared about them as they grew up. Lately, I've thought of how my kid brother and I had relationships with our stuffed animals, which had their own personalities. I don't think any of us had an imaginary friend . We had enough of a grip on reality to be able to project our emotional involvement into shared story telling via "animating" our inanimate animals. They became just as "real" as Puff the Magic Dragon to a little boy, as the tiger "Hobbes" was to Calvin, as "Jesus" is to believers in him, each adapted to each individual's imagination. It would be interesting to find out if children like us ever were inclined to substitute an imaginary Jesus or god for our stuffed animals. Do kids who grew up like us,

The Terrible Reality that Would Exist if Christianity Were True

By Ben Love ~ W e all go through periods of depression. All of us. It doesn’t matter what we believe or where we’re from. Both Nietzsche and the Buddha were correct:   to live is to suffer.   Lucretius said something similar, “Life is one long struggle in the dark.” We all know that. No one needs to be told. And so it will come as no shock to my readers when I relay to them that I’ve been struggling lately with some depression. Not your everyday variety, mind you. No, darker than that. The 100 proof stuff. It will further come as no surprise that one of my Christian friends, upon learning of this, launched himself into a campaign, thinking that this depression was the window through which he could squeeze faith in God back into my life. His platitudes therefore came rolling out with marked predictability. I retained little of what he said save for one interesting statement (I’m putting my depression on the shelf for the duration of this essay, but I will revisit it at the e

God doesn't act because He can't

By John Draper ~ R eligious folks are often heard to say God works in mysterious ways. Ironically, when they say that, they’re usually trying to explain away an instance in which God apparently didn’t work. The child died of cancer. The promotion didn’t come through. The penis enlargement herbal remedy didn’t bear fruit. His ways aren’t our ways. The problem with this whole God Works In Mysterious Ways refrain is it turns Him into a . . . a . . . the right word eluded me as I was drafting this post. Originally I used a certain two-syllable expletive. You know the one. But my mom’s been asking me not to curse so much in my blog, so instead I used jerk in an early draft. When Mom read that early draft, she suggested the word wasn’t potent enough and offered monster. Seems to me that monster is more offensive than my two-syllable expletive. So . . . a mysterious expletive/jerk/monster. Take your pick. Whichever you use, He has a lot to answer for, which is why so many atheists a

Confessions of an Amateur Garbologist

By Carl S ~ U sually, when tourists and summer residents to our state come around every summer, they move in a different mode and have a very different itinerary from us full time residents. Rarely do I have much chance to go beyond small talk with them. David L. happened to be an exception, as lone travelers are apt to be. Dave was hanging around the cafe’ one July morning a year ago, and he turned out to be one of those unforgettable characters we sometimes read about but seldom meet. It turned out that Dave, who is what old timers would call a "plain vanilla" blue-collar worker , had a lot more to offer in life experiences than he had to learn from me. So, being willing to be fascinated, I took in a lot of what he related. Dave is a trash collector for a national collecting company. He said something about it being the, “anytime, anywhere, anything, and everything confidential" company, as unofficially coined by the employees. (They even haul away and dispose of nuc

God, Aspergers and suffering

By Bennyboy1992 ~ English: People with Asperger's Syndrome are often preoccupied with particular, specialized areas of knowledge, such as this boy's interest in molecular structure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I am a 23-year-old unemployed university graduate in the United Kingdom with Asperger's . I used to believe in God when I was younger but I gradually began questioning it around the age of 17 and 18, although I still tried very hard to convince myself it makes sense and would often look at apologetic websites. However, when I went to university, everything changed: Due to my asperger's syndrome, that makes it incredibly hard for me to make close friends, I miserably failed my first year and it was extremely stressful, shaking my confidence and my well being to the core. I was too afraid for ask for help due to my aspergers and had no friends who could help me out when I was struggling with the work. I was looking forward to university so much, but everything

The Main Reason I Turned Atheist

Atheist-No-Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) By Ben Love ~ H aving spent the better part of the last eighteen months writing intense essays documenting both the research and the personal experiences that led to my rejection of Christianity, I would wager that my readers are in no way uninformed regarding my embrace of atheism . Indeed, I’ve been quite vocal (perhaps to the point of loquacity) about the logical arguments that, once digested, slew what little fledgling faith I had left. Likewise, I’ve been even more vocal (and perhaps a bit too forthright) about my personal reasons for determining that Christian thought and religious faith are inherently erroneous. I often look back on my essays, particularly the ones that were written in the immediate weeks after my deconversion, and conclude that, at times, some of my early naysayers were right: there   was   a bit of belligerence cutting through the undertone of my work. Now, just as then, I attribute that to the anger I