Thursday, April 24, 2008

Casting the Mold - Part 2 - The Deaf Man

Evidence has a funny way of sticking around. Facts don't just change with time. No, in deed they stay around and continue to nag at you. Facts can suck when they disagree with what you believe. Facts force you to change your view to follow in line with those very facts. Unless, that is, you are a person of faith. In that case, faith appears to be a given way to ignore facts.

Now, I understand the principles of faith, and I understand its role in a child's development. If a child didn't have faith in their parents, then they would likely not live to see the next year. They must take it on faith that when daddy says don't run out into the the road or you will get hit by a car, that he must know what he is talking about. But then, every child eventually grows up.

The problem with faith as an adult, is that you must suspend critical thinking at its root. If I tell you that there is an invisible creature watching you at all times, I will call bullshit and not believe you. Why is that? Because as a child I was taught, we were all taught, that these invisible creations of our mind are not real. A child who grew up in another time, a time that believed in fairies and goblins, would more than likely believe that there were invisible creatures that followed you around and caused mischief. That child would grow up to have faith that these unseen things were indeed real.

But our society has out grown that to a large extent, no longer believing in gods that rule everything, nymphs, fairies, or dragons. But most of us have stopped short of one more god. And in this god, there is all sorts of beliefs and faiths. Now, as long as they do not have a requirement for all of the world to buy into their beliefs, there isn't a problem. Faith in a god, while antiquated and associated with superstition, is not a problem, at least not for me.

But there are a certain group of "god fearer's" that take this a bit far. These people are the same type that believe in the end times theology. Well, not all of them, but they are a type of person, a specific type of person, that believes the bible is the inerrant word of god. This type of belief and faith is what I have a problem with.

Evidence has been cited and uncovered in multiple different forms and fashions that has shown that the bible is not only imperfect, but very easily discernible as being written by men for their own purposes. There are out right lies, fables, impossibilities, ridiculousness, and provably false claims. Now, all this is fine if its a book you can take the good and leave the bad, but this group refuses to do so, largely stating they take it on faith. Now of course, their faith is ultimately placed in man, since it was a man who told them this book was perfect and infallible. So try as they might, they cannot have a divine reason for this faith. Ultimately, if they grew up Muslim, they would believe the same thing about the Koran.

But these type of people fall back on faith as if its some miraculous thing that negates evidence. But thats not the case. A belief taken on faith alone, that is proven false or unlikely, simply means you have put your faith into a provable false idea. It makes that person look ridiculous. Its the equivalent of seeing a green ball, but having faith it is red because some book told you so. Now the chemical make up of red is much different than green, and thus I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this ball is green. No matter how much faith you have that it is red, it will never be red.

So this type of faith isn't really any type of real faith at all. It is the act of making oneself deaf to evidence. It is the act of making yourself deaf. Todays world cannot continue on and move forward until we as a people can stop accepting this as an 'OK' position to have. Its not okay to simply ignore the evidence because you want to believe in something. But further, its not okay for you to ignore the evidence, then try to force the rest of us to accept that this is some how normal or okay, its not! It is wrong, dead wrong, and its about time the world stands up and tells these people that its not okay to just "have faith". If the evidence proves otherwise, you should change your view, period. Self imposed deafness only seems to happen to literalists who believe every word of the bible is true and infallible. Faith is a weakness, and being deaf to evidence isn't a bonus, its a defect.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Casting the Mold - Part 1 - The Blind Man

Casting the Mold will be a three part essay on how 'End Times Theology' is working to destroy the world as we know it.

We have come to a part of our history that is catastrophically close to sending us into a downward spiral. We now have communications that will enable us to view events that happen around the world within mere seconds of their occurrence. We now watch more current events in real time than ever before in the history of the world. One would think this is an absolutely fabulous thing.

Unfortunately, this magnificent coming of the technological age cannot seem to shake off the shackles of superstition and fear. The end of the age, long since prophesied for a millennium, are now said to be upon us. This theology in christianity is not old hate. In fact, the birth of end time theology is fairly recent in religious history, having been born with John Nelson Darby in the early 1800's. They of course dispute this, saying it was actually as old as the bible itself, often citing Augustine of Hippo in "City of God" as the beginning. While Augustine of Hippo did mention the seventh age as the millennium in which the city of God would come, he was not and did not refer to this in the same manner as current dispensationalists.

Prior to John Darby and his new radical timeline for the end of the world, Revelations was accepted to have been written about Rome. It was written during the point when people were waiting for Messiah and Rome had finally gotten tired of the Jews, and Nero walked right into the Holy of Holies in the temple and put his own image in there. This was accepted because it made the most sense. It was the right time period and everything in Revelation could be coincided with Rome at the time.

But Jesus never returned and the end of the world didn't happen. But in the 1800's, John Darby translated the Bible himself and, not knowing history that we now know, decided Revelations must be about a future apocalypse, not a point in time that had long since passed.

He was slow to get a following, but today, dispensationalism has a huge following in America. Most are premillennial dispensationalists, believing that all the bad stuff, the "tribulation", will happen and be followed by the millennial reign of Christ on earth. They also believe that the true believers will be taken out of this world in what they coined, the rapture, a term not found in the Bible at all. There is some debate as to whether this rapture will happen before, during, or after the bad times, the "tribulation".

Now all this is just quaint superstition and I could really care less if they just did their thing and didn't allow this to change how they interact with the world, and thus not change the world for the worse. But that isn't the case. Todays dispensationalists have allowed themselves to pen everything as a sign of the end times. They see a Tsunami on TV, thats a sign. Hunger in Africa? End Times! Poverty, disease, war, torture, violence, all signs of the end of days!

What this has done is created a very dangerous blinder on a good amount of people. When you see horrible things happen on TV, you should feel sad and have emotion and have a desire to help. But these people don't see that at all. They see food shortages and disasters and other horrible events, and instead of helping, they thank their lucky stars that Jesus is coming soon and that this is another glorious sign of his imminent return.

With blinders like these on, they are allowing major problems with this world to pass in front of their eyes and do nothing. They don't really see the issue, they don't really understand the danger, and they won't really do anything to help. And why would they? After all, its just a "sign of the times" and Jesus will be back soon and everything will be better. And while a majority of America wallows in superstition, the world around needs the help that religion once offered to it.

If the new face of religion is wicked superstition and callous blindness to what is happening to the world, then I wish someone would take them out of the world, off to la la land! The rest of us need to mobilize to stop world hunger, poverty, disease, and global warming. We have to have our eyes, and pocket books, and hearts open wider because the dispensationalists, as a general rule, are blind to the reality of the world at large. America can no longer ask the christian right to assist in making the world a better place. Religion in America is no longer serving a useful purpose or helping anyone but themselves. Blindness, it seems, also comes from god.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Extending Creation - Desparate to Keep the Faith

I suppose I should be happy and reading these types of opinions. It should greatly over joy me. After all, this is a path that leads towards sidelining religion, while not getting rid of it. This is a path that leads to people not involving their faith in day to day life. But it does not make me happy. No, it annoys me greatly in fact. What am I talking about? I'm talking about the new creationist craze of theistic evolution. That is, the idea that God created the world via evolution, and even at times, special creation, in which everything but humans were evolved.

This is a way to rationalize what they can't get around in evolution, with what they want to be true in faith. This allows them to comfortably step from the realm of blind adherence to a "perfect" book, and accept that some parts of it maybe true and some may not. Now, at first, this doesn't seem so grand. But think about it. Once you can let go of blind faith in a 2000 year old text, then you are on your way to freeing your mind from the shackles that have been placed on it. This is a good thing.

However, I have come from faith. I have come from evangelical blind following faith to this moment in time in which I am an atheist. I took a one year slide that led from firm belief to nothing, and its all thanks to reading the bible. But I get annoyed that these people, when show the blatant wrongness of their beliefs, fail to make the next logical jump. I know I know, it takes time, but how can you defend these types of errors in the bible when I know you have the logic to break from that? Yet they cling to partial trues like they are salvation, terrified of the consequences of letting go of their faith completely. In fact, it almost seems as though the step to not believing in a literal 6 day creation traumatized them to believe even deeper than before, frightened to discard some other long held true from their faithful past.

How many times can a Christian defend gods command to dash babies heads against the rocks as something that was common at that time period, yet not see the foul immorality of what they are accepting? One can hope that its not for long. I will keep railing against these types of people until they crack. You cannot deny one bit of ignorance then accept the next. If its time to cast off ignorance, then do, don't let it hang around. Fear is your worst enemy, logic your friend, if the day is not ceased, then you will eventually cave into fear and back into the darkness that held you captive for so long.