So my iPhone is in the process of updating to the latest software, 3.0. It failed the first time because I’m doing it through a Windows XP install within a Linux virtualbox, and I wasn’t paying attention to the USB status. 🙁 So it had to restore and now I’m anticipating my application data will be lost (like my budget record). Oh well, I’ll soon have copy-n-paste and that’s a good thing. 🙂
So, now that it’s summer, I’ve still almost completely ignored this blog. But, I spend most of my social e-media time on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/liamrw) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/mechphisto), I don’t feel compelled to write articles on here even though I have tons of saved links and news items and others’ blog content I want to comment on. Darn you short attention span time wasters!!
Anyway, so, the iPhone is updating, I just finished re-planting some cilantro and Greek oregano into a new window-box planter…thought I’d at least get one interesting item I’d like to share out of the way today.
“vjack” over at Atheist Revolution has a recent post entitled: “Did Jesus Abolish the Old Testiment.” It starts with a question he received from one of his readers, that goes in part like this:
…why Christians cherry pick from the bible. I brought up stuff from the old testament, like women not being allowed to dress fancy in church. His response was, “That’s mosaic law and we are under a new law now.” I didn’t know how to respond to this. What would you say?
vjack’s response I think is incredibly reasoned and thought-provoking. Well, OK, not to me at this moment, I have to be honest. Because his response, which I agree with 100%, is a response I came up with on my own (and so do many many many former Christians) while I (1.) first read the Bible in its entirety around age 17 or 18, and (2.) once again a few years ago when I was working through those questions and issues that actually reading the Bible sparked so many years earlier.
It’s not a bad thing, and I mean no negative intent, when I say vjack’s response is not interesting to me…in fact, I mean it as both matter of fact and a complement. See…I was reminded of something this week as my wife and I watched Richard Dawkins’ “The Root of All Evil?“, and part way through we started discussing liberal/non-fundamentalist Christianity and the atheist response. And I gave answers and opinions and analysis which were kernels of understanding I came to on my own a few to several years ago, wrapped with wording and terms and nuance gained from other freethinkers I’ve since read who also deal with the same issues and questions. Then, when we continued to watch the documentary, my words were virtually echoed back to me by Dawkins.
Agnosticism and atheism have been on an upswing lately, people have started coming out and talking about it, and not being ashamed or afraid of being non-believers. It’s almost like a fad in appearance. But it’s not new by a long shot. Ancient Greeks wrote about doubt regarding the gods their contemporaries worshiped, including questions like: “Does [god] command what is moral because [he] decides what it morality; or does [he] do so because morality is absolute and [he’s] simply relaying the message? If the former, then morality is still relative…believers have simply shifted the responsibility up one level. If the later, then what is the need for [god] as a middle-man if morality is absolute and universal?” For example.
Then there’s Lucretius and Marcus Aurelius. And after that slews of freethinkers (at least, those not murdered by Christians during the Dark Ages), to Spinoza and Bertrand Russell, and now Hitchens and Dennett and John W. Loftus, who basically have been saying the same things for centuries regarding God(s), belief without evidence, religion. Because let’s face it: atheism is the final point of critical thinking for any person of any culture, any background, former religion or belief system. Any individual, anyone, can come to atheism on their own through thinking through the questions and thinking critically about the supposed answers. The reasons for non-belief don”t change through the ages (like religions constantly do in order to survive in changing and evolving cultures). Atheism doesn’t require any books, tomes, scrolls, or prophets. No figures of authority, no priests or rabbis. No spiritual revelation from any of the over 2,000 gods humans have created.
Religious belief requires revelation. For example: it is impossible for a person to become a Christian without coming into contact with the Bible or another Christian (who uses the Bible). A book that requires stores and libraries full of books to try to interpret it, explain it, rationalize the contradictions and inherent issues in order to bolster a person’s belief in it. Atheism only requires one’s working brain to come to the same conclusions freethinkers have been coming to for millennia.
And so, some years ago I would have found vjack’s response thoroughly interesting and informative. Now, it’s old hat. But, that’s a good thing. It continues to show that for 2000 years the same arguments hold up and continue to be inadequately answered by the believer.
That said, seriously, read vjack’s response. 🙂 It may be old hat to me, but it’s a good read! And, he has some fantastic links toward the end of his post to some resources which pose issues that demand response from the believer.
Also, some of the comments on vjack’s post are great as well. Some annoying or just plain worthless. But some, like this one, poignant and well-said:
The question is, why do you follow a different law? And, if you are supposed to follow a law that contradicts what is in the old testament, why even have the old testament in the first place? It is obvious that it simply creates confusion, so why not simply publish a version of the bible that is only the new testament and use that at church?
The reality is that no believer knows exactly what they are supposed to believe or follow, which is why they pray for guidance. Given that, if one has that kind of access to a deity, why would they need the bible in the first place? Couldn’t you just ask for guidance and go from there? Or, does this deity only answer some of the time, and how do you know when your god or gods is/are answering? You see, there are endless questions, none of which have answers that are going to (1) satisfy the skeptic, and (2) convince a believer otherwise. I guess the best that I hope for is that they begin to try to actually answer these questions honestly with themselves, which is how I became a skeptic in the first place. That eventually led me to atheism, although I realize that doesn’t happen with everyone.