Tag Archives: good without god

Athemyths: Without God, There is No Purpose!

A recurring myth among religious individuals is that without God, life has no meaning or purpose. There are many reasons why a theist may hold this idea, none of which are grounded in reality. This is usually a refusal to accept death as the ultimate end and an appeal to emotion, in which a person assumes that their life has a meaning or a purpose given by God or presumes that there is an objective meaning to life.

First, there is no evidence that there is any objective meaning to life and it cannot be established with any epistemic certainty. Testimonies do not hold up to scrutiny as they are subject to the myriad biases of your brain. Holy texts are riddled with contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright falsities. Until there is a reliable means of establishing an objective meaning of life that provides substantial evidence, the appropriate response is to suspend judgment. Sure, it is an uncomfortable thought to some that there might not be any objective purpose to life, but the inability to accept this does not mean that we should adopt fallacious concepts to satisfy our ego.

Second, there are many people that do not believe in your deity, or any deity, and it would be preposterous to claim that the 1.2 billion Chinese who have no predominant religion, or the millions of people who claim to be nonbelievers, are not leading meaningful lives. The existence of a god is not required in order to have a meaning or purpose in life. Meaning is subjective. What you find meaningful someone else may not. There is plenty of meaning to be found in literature, music, science, and human connection, to name a few. To think that these things somehow lose their meaning if there is no god is absolutely absurd.

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Finally, this myth presupposes that the god given objective meaning or purpose in life aligns with their own. What if it doesn’t? Without evidence to support the claim, there is no way to know if your subjective meaning or purpose of life coincides with any objective meaning or purpose of life. Most Abrahamic religions hold that the purpose of life is to serve God. What good is life if you are going to spend it grovelling in fear at the feet of a celestial dictator? What good is life if your only purpose is to worship, praise, and be a subservient slave to a cosmic master? Would you accept that same purpose if it were a terrestrial dictator or master? If God is the ultimate embodiment of love why isn’t he held to a higher standard?

As an atheist, I have everything to live for and nothing to die for. The finality of life is exactly what gives life meaning. Death only appears on the surface to invalidate any meaning or purpose of life because it seems to give rise to an idea that there is no reason to do anything all, like garner knowledge or improve the self, if we are going to die anyway. However, there is a point to garnering knowledge or improving the self and that purpose is to enjoy life. The very finite nature of life prevents us from knowing and experiencing everything our world has to offer. That ephemeral epiphany allows us to relish in the moment, whether it be the laugh of an elderly loved one or the taste of your favorite food. These things matter and have value because the opportunity to experience them is finite in nature.

Suspending the real fantasy, the thing we call life, and devaluing your earthly life, the only guaranteed life that you have, is truly living without a purpose or meaning. That would make religious believers that perpetuate this myth the real nihilists.

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts

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Free Will is Not Biblical!

I am frequently told by Christians, usually ones that have never read their Bible, that their god has given us free will to choose. Today, I will be addressing this misconception.

There are a few reasons why Christians mistakenly believe this. One reason is to deal with the problem of evil. The problem of evil usually goes like this:

1. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2. There is evil in the world.
3. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God does not exist.

The common apologetic is for the Christian to declare that their god has endowed us with free will and evil exists because we choose to do evil or we have chosen to sin. This allows them to get away with not placing the blame on their god as the author of evil (despite Isaiah 45:7).

Another reason they may say we have free will is because it is unacceptable to think that we will be held accountable for our actions unless we have free will. In other words, if everything is predestined and there is an eternal place of torture and unending agony, then God is responsible for every single person that endures that suffering.

There is one other reason that is sometimes used and that is that love demands a choice. To word it slightly differently, without free will we would all be robots who have no choice whatsoever.

Seems like this all makes sense, right? Even the Greek philosophers knew that the lack of free will led to some extremely unsettling implications, but where does this idea of free will come from? To be totally honest, it is Christian fan fiction. Free will is not taught by the scriptures. The Bible makes it very clear that predestination is a major theme and that all things happen according to God’s will. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Most Christians herald Jesus, or Yeshua, as divine, the Son of God, and the Word. It is my understanding, then, that his words must be extremely valuable and without error. In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

This verse explicitly denies that man has a free will ability to equally accept or reject the gospel. The Greek text of this passage denies, in no uncertain terms, any inherent ability to either choose Christ or reject Him. The primary reason is that the Bible teaches that man is in bondage to sin and has a natural tendency to suppress the truth or to refuse the gospel at all costs. The Bible would have us believe that when a nonbeliever hears the gospel, he will always reject it.

The Greek text says ouvdeis dunatai evlqei/n prosj me (oudeis dunatai elthein pros me). This verse literally says that no one has the ability, in and of themselves, to cause themselves to believe in Christ. This one verse alone denies free will and since Christians think that Jesus is God incarnate, this is sufficient grounds to reject this idea once and for all.

Christians believe Jesus was God, but if there is one man responsible for Christianity—it would be Paul. You would think that a man who established the very fundamentals of Christian doctrine would know exactly what he is talking about, right? Let’s take a look. In Romans 8:7-8, Paul states, “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Emphasis added).”

I don’t think he could have made it any clearer than he does in this passage. It is painfully obvious that submitting to and pleasing God is directed by God himself.

In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

This verse is so straightforward that it should not need an explanation. Man, in his natural state, is unable to accept God or the things attributed to his spirit.

Let’s take a look at one more example from Romans to put the nail in the coffin. In Romans 8: 28-30, Paul says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been CALLED according to HIS PURPOSE. For those God FORKNEW he also PREDESTINED to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Emphasis added).”

This passage explicitly states that God calls people according to his purpose, he knew who they were from the beginning of time, and he selected them from many.

At this point, the free will argument should be totally blown out of the water, but allow me to present more verses that will demonstrate the Bible denies free will (Acts 4:27-28, Acts 16:14, Isaiah 10:5-16, Psalm 105:25, Ezra 6:22, Proverbs 21:1, Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:3-6, Ephesians 2: 4-10, Romans 9: 10-15, Romans 9: 16-19, Romans 9: 20-21, 2 Timothy 1:9, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

There are even a few verses that speaks of the ones that God has not chosen and what fate he has decided for them (Revelations 13:8, Ecclesiastes 7:13, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-13).

With the verses I have supplied directly from the book that Christians believe to be the holy inspired and inerrant Word of God, we can draw the following conclusions:

1. Humans cannot believe in Christ of their own choice.
2. Humans cannot subject themselves to God’s Law of their own choice.
3. Humans cannot accept the things of the Spirit as being true of their own choice.
4. Therefore, humans do not have free will.

Theologians usually respect the early church fathers as authority figures and believe they were inspired by their god to establish church doctrine. In that case, it is worth mentioning that there are many authority figures or church fathers who were respected predeterminists and held that free will was not a biblical concept, including; St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.

I have demonstrated, thoroughly, that the Bible denies free will and any element of choice in any works that we do. The Bible teaches that from the beginning of time, God has selected who will receive salvation and he will punish and reward people based on what he has predestined. Also, the Bible teaches that all things are in accordance with God’s plan. How does that make you feel? It seems unfair, immoral, and downright evil by any standards, right?

If the Christian God exists, then there is no doubt that it is the most malevolent being in the entire universe. A Good Christian God would choose that everyone be saved; however, the Bible explicitly makes the case that the Christian God has chosen for many to suffer. This plan of God, according to the Bible, has absolutely nothing to do with free will and everything to do with exercising power—without any regards for morality or free will.

This leaves us with quite the dilemma, either:

1. God is evil or immoral because he chooses that many will perish
or
2. The Bible is not the Word of God

Choose carefully.

*This post is adapted from a paper that I wrote in seminary that received a failing grade from my instructor. However, it was overturned by the Dean, who also was one of theologians who was paramount in translating the New International Version. I received a perfect score on the paper. I thought that was worth mentioning.*


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New Science this Week #4: Curing Cancer With Cancer

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details the findings of researchers that have discovered a way to turn harmful cancer cells into harmless immune cells.

As these researchers threw everything they had at these cancer cells, they discovered that they found a way to turn these cancer cells into white blood cells that will actually fight the cancer cells.

For our scientifically minded viewers, the paper states,

Precursor B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is an aggressive cancer of white blood cells with a poor prognosis. The cancerous cells in this disease are immature B cells, which are unable to fully differentiate into normal B cells. We show here that cancerous cells from B-ALL patients can be reprogrammed, causing them to change into cells that resemble normal macrophages and can perform macrophage-associated functions such as the consumption of bacteria. Importantly, unlike typical B-ALL cells, these reprogrammed cells are no longer able to cause disease in immunodeficient mice. Finally, we show that this reprogramming process may occur to some degree in patients with B-ALL. This indicates that reprogramming B-ALL cells into macrophages might represent a previously unidentified therapeutic strategy.[1]

This discovery is huge and may be able to help thousands of people around the globe get treatment for their cancer. In the United States, once every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and once every 10 minutes someone dies of a blood cancer.[2]

[1] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/13/4074.abstract

[2] http://www.lls.org/diseaseinformation/getinformationsupport/factsstatistics/


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New Science this Week #2: Childhood Trauma Alters Neural Responses to Stress

We’ve known that traumatic childhood experiences have affected the psychology of the person who experienced them, but now we have the data and the evidence to back it up. Even better, we are even learning exactly how these experiences affect future decisions and experiences.

Yale’s Marc Potenza and colleagues examined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data for 40 boys and 24 girls between 14 and 18 years old with varying exposure to maltreatment-related trauma. This ranged from prenatal cocaine exposure to abuse and neglect. In particular, the team wanted to see which brain regions were activated in response to individually tailored stimuli: personally relevant stress, favorite foods, and neutral and relaxing scenarios (like sitting in the park or unwinding in your own room).

The team found that, compared to the low-trauma group, participants in the high-trauma group showed greater activation in several cortical regions in response to stress. These areas showing “hyper-responsivity” to stress cues have important roles in emotional regulation. As for the neutral or relaxing cues, the high-trauma group showed a significantly decreased activation in the cerebellar vermis and right cerebellum. With their roles in processes like regulating arousal, this decreased activation might reflect diminished self-control. The two groups didn’t show significant differences in their responses to favorite-food cues.

The work indicates that “youth exposed to higher levels of trauma may experience different brain responses to similar stressors,” Potenza tells Reuters. “These findings suggest the possibility that there might exist different sensitivities to the relative allocation of brain resources to stressful stimuli in the environment and may hold multiple implications for prevention and treatment efforts.”


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Hypocrite of the Week #8: Pastor Interrupts and Cancels Lesbian Funeral

A pastor interrupted and canceled a funeral upon the discovery that she was a homosexual. Bigotry at its finest.

Think Progress reports,

When hundreds of Vanessa Collier’s closest loved ones crammed into the pews of New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado on Saturday to attend her funeral, they settled in for the mix of melancholy and merriment that often accompanies a burial: mourning, storytelling, and a passionate celebration of life.

But after about 15 minutes, Pastor Ray Chavez abruptly brought the service to a halt. In a move that shocked those present, Chavez said he wouldn’t proceed with the ceremony because Collier, a mother of two, was a lesbian.

According to the Denver Post, Chavez said he would only continue the service if images of Collier and her wife, positioned around the casket, were removed. The family, outraged, refused, and “picked up programs, flowers and eventually the dead woman’s casket itself” before relocating at a mortuary across the street. The scores of attendees, many of them reportedly lesbians themselves, followed suit, abandoning the church.

“It was humiliating,” Victoria Quintana, Collier’s friend, told the Denver Post. “It was devastating.”

Hurt and frustrated, dozens of friends and supporters of Collier reconvened in front of New Hope Ministries on Tuesday to protest the pastor’s decision. Holding images of the deceased, who police say is thought to have committed suicide, the demonstrators shouted chants of “Give us an apology!” and “Shame on Pastor Ray!” According to the group’s Facebook page, the protestors also noted that Chavez, who reportedly referred to Collier’s sexuality as an “alternative lifestyle,” has yet to refund the family the cost of the funeral.

“You will not find Jesus at New Hope but you will find hypocrisy,” one sign, held by a protestor, read.

The New Hope Ministries church website does not list a denominational affiliation, but the pastor’s shocking decision is representative of a larger debate over homosexuality within American Christianity. According to a recent analysis by Tobin Grant of the Religion News Service, the majority of Catholic, Black Protestant, and White Mainline Protestant churches now allow openly gay people to be church members, and a growing number of major denominations have moved to ordain LGBT people and even perform same-sex weddings. Evangelical Christians are far less accepting of LGBT people, but the faith-based movement for LGBT equality is starting to break into conservative Christian circles: severalevangelicalleaders — including famed theologian David Gushee — declared a less antagonistic and sometimes even affirming stance toward homosexuality in 2014. Meanwhile, a Southern Baptist church in California broke ranks with the church last year when their pastor told the congregation that he no longer thought being gay was a sin (the church, however, was later expelled by the Southern Baptist Convention).


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5 Things That Christians Should Know

1)    Believing in a god does not make you a better person.

Some of the most evil, horrible people believe in a god. To quote Matthew McCormick, “Is it true that unless God exists, then no one would act in a morally decent, law abiding fashion? It’s hard to know what the critic is getting at if they say yes. They might be thinking that it’s only the fear of God or respect for God’s commandments that makes people behave themselves. But again, this is myopic. There have been billions of people in history who don’t believe, don’t know about, or who have taken no note of God in their deliberations, but they have behaved morally. So it’s not believing that God is present that keeps people in line. Whether God exists or not, there are people who think he does not and who behave morally. So it seems implausible that his existence or non existence makes any real difference in their behavior.”

2)    Morality does not come from God.

Morality is always subjective and circumstantial. Slavery was once accepted in parts of the western world and the Bible was used to show God’s support of slavery, however, we now know that slavery is immoral and we don’t own slaves. The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves. Our morality has evolved and has changed, despite what your objective law giver prescribes and we have proven that morality is subjective.

3)    Marriage was not invented by Christians or their god.

The first recorded evidence of marriage contracts and ceremonies dates to 4,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia. In ancient Rome, marriage was a civil affair governed by imperial law. But when the empire collapsed, in the 5th century, church courts took over and elevated marriage to a holy union. As the church’s power grew through the Middle Ages, so did its influence over marriage. In 1215, marriage was declared one of the church’s seven sacraments, alongside rites like baptism and penance. But it was only in the 16th century that the church decreed that weddings be performed in public, by a priest, and before witnesses.

4)    The Bible contains, at minimum, transcriptual errors.

For example, biblical scholar Gleason Archer has stated: “Even the earliest and best manuscripts that we possess are not totally free of transmissional errors. Numbers are occasionally miscopied, the spelling of proper names is occasionally garbled, and there are examples of the same types of scribal error that appear in other ancient documents as well.” Do copyists’ errors appear in other ancient documents, too? Most assuredly! Corruptions in the writings of the Greek classics are very common. Take, for instance, the secular works of Tacitus. They are known to contain at least one numerical error that Tacitean and classical scholars have acknowledged as a copyist’s mistake. These scholars recognize that at some point in history, a copyist accidentally changed a number (from CXXV to XXV). Why is it, then, that biblical critics will not recognize the same possibility when supposed discrepancies are found in the Bible? Just as those who copied secular historical documents sometimes misspelled names and numbers, scribes who copied the Bible from earlier texts occasionally made mistakes. The complexity of the Hebrew language and its alphabetic/numeric system no doubt served as an even greater challenge for the scribes. Bart Ehrman has a great speech on this very topic.

5)    Before attempting to convert anyone to Christianity or defend your theology in a debate, please have a working knowledge of what that actually entails.

You wouldn’t debate physics if you were not a physicist and you would not perform a surgery if you were not a surgeon, but you would if you were a creationist. There are many polls that suggest that Christians do not read their Bible. A poll over at Bible Gateway gives a rough estimate that 40% of Christians have never read the entire Bible.

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I would like to propose a 614th commandment—educate thyself.

-Aeolus


Aeolus is an atheist activist with a background in literature, psychology, and religious studies. Aeolus is also the host of the REASON live show and avid atheist admin for Religion Hurts Humanity and Philosophical Atheism. You can follow him on twitter @GodWorksOut, instagram @GodWorksOut, his Youtube channel, or connect with him at Facebook.com/AeolustheAtheist

The Quran’s Challenge to Nonbelievers

The Quran issues a challenge to all of humanity, especially nonbelievers, to create a book like the Quran, 10 chapters like it, or 1 chapter like it. It then goes onto say that no matter what you do, you can never create anything like the Quran. Now I could insert a bad joke here about how the Quran is such a terrible book that we wouldn’t want to regress as a society by literally completing this challenge, but I will take it in its intended context. The Quran and people who believe in its divine nature hold that the book itself is a miracle and the actual challenge is to create something better than the Quran itself. I’d argue that this has already been performed by all of the literary greats, but I did it anyway just because I wanted to add my name to the list of people that have done it. I also wanted to specifically say that I completed the challenge. Many people have completed the challenge unaware that they were doing so. I did it knowing that I did it with the intentions of rubbing it in because well, fuck islam.

Here is my chapter that is better than the entire fucking Quran.

*The Aeolian Panacea*

Question everything. Believe nothing and accept things only on evidence. Use Reason and Logic to reach all conclusions. The scientific method is the best tool there is–use it wisely. Value your fellow man above all else. That means no stoning, no beheading, no burning people alive, and especially no honor killing.. Do nothing that will victimize your fellow man. Always try to promote positivity and help others. Recognize your own worth, but do not place it above your fellow man. You will respect and treat all human beings equally at all times no matter what. Do not force any beliefs you have on to anyone else. If you can’t demonstrate it with science, logic, or reason then it isn’t a belief worth having. Religions are forbidden. Worship is forbidden. Anything worthy of worship would never require or demand it. Governments can be corrupted and evil. Therefore, if you must establish governments, they will be run by committees of citizens that are not allowed to have any ties to anyone that may corrupt them, nor can they accept any form of payment for their service. In all things that you do, act for the greater good of all humanity. Finally, just as you value your fellow man, you should value the earth. It is our home, your children’s home, our future, and our legacy.

I would really appreciate it if you…

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