I recently discover a very nice site, Jesus Never Existed, that provides a plethora of information showing that Christianity is a manufactured religion (but aren’t they all?). They provide sources for much of their material, which is a good thing. Some of what I’ve read I’m familiar with, but a lot of it I haven’t encountered before.
If you are interested in the history of Christianity, check them out.
The organization Recovering From Religion has started a hotline for those who are recovering from religion. This is in response to all of the “…countless emails and phone calls from people seeking help on their journey away from faith, at all hours of the day and night”.
If you are recovering or have recovered from religion, you know how terribly painful a process this can be. Not only are you abandoning a life-long set of beliefs, but you face ostracization from friend, family, and co-workers. You also live with the fear of the negative reactions you may receive when people find out you are an atheist.
I have applied to answer the Hotline and to help out with their Facebook page. If you are recovering from religion, or are an life-long atheists, and want to help, go and apply. It is a great cause that will help the millions who are struggling with losing their religion.
I read a lovely blog post. It is about people with disabilities. Please read it.
My comment on this:
I grew up with a learning disability. I was teased, bullied. But I’ve succeeded beyond what any of those people who made fun of me, or even most of the teachers and guidance counselors could. My son has autism spectrum disorder. Family, friends, strangers in the supermarket, all would try to tell me how to handle him, how to raise him, how to “fix” him. He is not “broken”. He never was. He is his own person. He is my son.
Where did the universe come from? This is a question that has taunted humans probably since we first became sentient.
Most of the attempts to answer this question over the millennium have come from religion, but in the past 20 years or so, real progress has been made in physics to answer this question. Science seems to say that the universe could have been created from nothing.
The renowned physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawkin has postulated that the universe could have arisen from fluctuations in the quantum foam. Others, such as physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, in his new book, “A Universe From Nothing”, suggest something along the same lines.
I’m not going to go into the science since it is far beyond my capabilities. I’m also not going to get much into the religious and theological arguments. What I do want to look at is a basic, simple premiss: we, as humans, don’t understand time.
We experience time in a linear fashion. This means that we have memories of a past, experience the present, and have expectations of the future. Therefore time, to us, seems have a past, present, and future. Physicists call this phenomenon The Arrow of Time, and due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as well as other factors that involve mind-numbing math, it always flows in one direction.
The most important thing about time, and the hardest one to wrap our heads around, is that time is not separate from space. Time and space are inextricably linked and are collectively referred to as space-time. Time can not exist without space. One of the consequences of this is that time has only existed as long as space has.
Space-time, and the universe it’s self, began, as closely as we can currently work out, 13.7 billion years ago in the Big Bang, from a singularity (a point of infinite mass), similar to the singularity in the center of a black hole (in fact, some scientists postulate that our universe exists inside of a black hole, but that’s a post for another time).
Scientists have a pretty good idea of what happened as the universe expanded back to about 10^−11 (one hundred billionth) seconds after the beginning of the Big Bang. What happened before that time is unclear. Here, at the very beginning, as in the heart of a black hole, the laws of physics as we know them break down. Nothing inside the singularity can be glimpsed from the outside, but we should be able to, theoretically, go back to the very instance of the beginning. We are close, and the more we study sub-atomic particles with tools like the Large Hadron Collider, the more we are able to learn about these very earliest moments.
The important thing to understand here, for the purposes of this discussion, is that time did not exist before the Big Bang. Since time did not exist until the moment the universe began, the question, “What existed before the universe?”, is non-sensical. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a “before”, it is just that our minds are incapable of conceiving that particular state of things. It most likely was not a time, or a place, or an anything that we can define in terms that human language can express. Only mathematics can express this situation and translating those mathematics into human language is likely impossible, simply due to our innate inability to grasp a concept that literally doesn’t exist in our universe. We just don’t really, and can’t really, understand time. We are trapped in the flow of time, just as a leaf is trapped in the flow of a river. Traveling helplessly onward.
Therefor from my thinking, asking ”What existed before the universe?”, is meaningless. Wether it was created, or if it sprang into existence due to some fundamental laws of physics that we don’t completely understand really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that once it was in existence, everything in it has been subject to laws of physics that are, as far as we can see, so deeply woven into the fabric of space-time that they can not be broken.
The upshot of this means that our universe is self-contained and is subject to those laws. This precludes the existence of a personal God: one who can answer prayers and perform miracles. If there is a god, then it is entirely outside of the universe, and as such, unable to influence, or even know of, anything within it. Hence, worship or prayer to it is useless, except as a way to give ourselves solace if we so choose.
Call it god; call it a quantum fluctuation; call it George, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we are here, if only for the very briefest of moments. Let’s make the most of it.
Yesterday I talked about the horror behind the story of Noah. I had considered expanding on the concept horror embodied in the idea of sacrifice found in the Bible by also talking about the who Jesus story, but decided to just keep it simple and stick to Noah. I saw a comment on the Noah post that made me wish I had talked about Jesus.
It’s sad to hear that this is what the message of Christianity is becoming about. Dead religion will tell you one of two things about God…(1) He’s schizophrenic (He loves you but He hates you) or (2) He’s mysterious (nobody can figure Him out). But here is Jesus, who arrives later on as the Messiah. It is in Christ where God’s nature is revealed, and He is a God of Love.
Things may still be unclear about the Bible and there seems to be a lot of contradictions on God’s nature. But, the Cross made a significance, a proof, to how much God loves us (John 3:16). Hope that helps!
His argument is one made by many Christians to negate the nastiness of the Old Testament: that God suddenly became a merciful and loving god once he sent Jesus (or became Jesus, the Bible is a bit confusing on that point) to save us all.
Even if you grant that this argument is valid, the whole idea of sacrificing someone, someone who is supposedly innocent, is just as horrible and depraved as anything in the Old Testament. Sure, it’s just one guy, not every person on earth, but the number of those sacrificed isn’t the issue. The issue is the need for a blood sacrifice at all.
I was raised Catholic. I could never understand why God required a sacrifice to free us from sin. If he is all powerful, why not just forgive our sins and be done with it? The priests explained to me about Original Sin. That didn’t make any sense to me either. Why would God punish every human who ever lived just because the first two people sinned? Why not just forgive Adam and Eve their sins? Or if He couldn’t find it in his all loving heart to do that, why not just strike them both dead and be done with it? He’s God. He could just make more.
The idea that Jesus, the only son of God, the innocent lamb, had to die just because the rest of us were sinning bastards is insane. That isn’t love, it is sadistic and cruel. Worse, it is pointless. If God is all powerful, then either forgive each of us our sins or smote us, don’t go killing your only son, especially when he doesn’t deserve it.
The idea that the god of the New Testament is now a loving, merciful god as opposed to the angry, vengful god of the Old Testament; that he is somehow a new and improved god, is absurd. The sacrifice of Jesus is no different than asking Abraham to kill his son, or the killing of all the first born of Egypt. It is just as cruel, just as horrible and depraved.
The fact is, God, both the old and new versions, is a dick, pure and simple.