General Information

Update: Weekly Format

So now that I have finished the entries to my journey, you might be wondering, where does this blog go from here? Never fear, this blog will still be chock full of daily content for your viewing pleasure. Entries will mostly follow a weekly format as described below.

Monday: Extra-Biblical Teachings/Crazy Christians/Strange Bedfellows
Tuesday: An Aspie In Iowa (Posts dealing with Autism/Aspergers)
Wednesday: Wednesday Woo & Strange Questions
Thursday: Arguments Against Atheism
Friday: Free-Thought Friday & Eat Me
Saturday: Something Different Saturday
Sunday: Satanic Sunday & A Pentecostal Atheist Bible Study

I will also write various posts as they come to me. I love writing and will continue to fill this blog with interesting tidbits that you might find both entertaining and informative.

Thank you so much for following this blog and for your continued readership, I appreciate each and ever one of your comments, your likes, and your questions. It has been a wild ride so far and I have loved every minute of it. You readers are fucking awesome!

Arguments Against Atheism

Arguments Against Atheism: Pascal’s Weak Wager

Today starts a new series of articles on the various articles against atheism. I thought I would start with the most convoluted argument that I can honestly think of. Blaise Pascal stated that (paraphrased): “Reasonable people should live as if god exists, even if he doesn’t, just in case he does exist and therefore we would risk going to hell if we deny his existence.” Basically it is an argument towards pretend faith simply due to the idea that it might prevent us from experiencing hell. To demonstrate the illogical nature of this argument, allow me to give the following example.

Say I told you that there was a restaurant in town which sold some great food, only there is a catch. You have to pick the one item, from 3,000 items on the menu, that won’t give you food poisoning. You would probably abstain from eating at that restaurant, even if I told you that if you chose not to eat there I would punish you in the future at some undecided date and time. Food poisoning is an awful condition and regardless of what punishment I might have in store for you at a later date, abstaining is the much safer choice.

“Food poisoning is an awful condition and regardless of what punishment I might have in store for you at a later date, abstaining is the much safer choice.”

This is also true with matters of faith. With somewhere around 3,000 different faiths in the world today, the thousands of extinct faiths from the past, and even the thousands of denominations within certain faiths that promote different strategies and ideologies for salvation, the choice is not 50/50.  In fact you would find that your chances of picking the exact right faith, the exact right denomination, and the exact right interpretation of scripture to be nearly identical to the choice of abstaining from faith. Both being 1/3000th+ chance of being correct.

“Both being 1/3000th+ chance of being correct.”

Folks use this argument as an effort to instill the fear of hell within the minds of those who might currently be experiencing doubts. I have a hard time believing that anyone who is as atheist would be swayed by such a weak argument. To give another example of how weak this argument is, let me provide the following example.

Lets say I sit you in a room surrounded by 3,000 curtains. I tell you that behind one curtain there is the keys to a mansion, millions of dollars, and the woman or man of your dreams. Behind every other curtain there is a man with a gun waiting to shoot you in the head. I then offer you the choice of walking away without looking behind any of the curtains. Which option would you choose? Walking away is the option that atheists choose as the likelihood of selecting the correct curtain is so small that it is much better to simply walk away even if the chance for some great reward might actually exist behind one of those curtains.

Believers will often times use personal experiences and anecdotes to try to support their choice of the correct faith.  The problem is that you can find these types of experiences and anecdotes in any faith that you choose. So you are then faced with the idea that either all faiths are correct or that none of these faiths are correct. Personal experiences and anecdotes do absolutely nothing to provide proof for the claims of any faith.

God

“…it assumes that an intelligent designer, capable of speaking the universe into existence, creating all life and all the laws of the natural world, is actually a complete moron.”

The second thing that makes this an incredibly weak argument is that it assumes that an intelligent designer, capable of speaking the universe into existence, creating all life and all the laws of the natural world, is actually a complete moron.  Think about it. Let’s say I absolutely love The Rolling Stones, I join their fan club and discussion groups, and begin telling everyone just how great The Rolling Stones are.  Would you take my claims seriously if I couldn’t name a single one of their songs, couldn’t tell you any of the members of the band, and didn’t actually own any of their albums? Immediately you would know that I was simply pretending to be a Rolling Stone fan, yet god isn’t intelligent enough to see through this ruse.

The idea that you could pretend your way out of some type of infinite reward or punishment seems to point to a creator who would make pond scum seem intelligent. In no way does this form any basis for a good, loving, or just god. It simply points to a god that enjoys a good lip service. So you have to ask yourself, when anyone presents this argument to you, are they actually an atheist just pretending to be a believer because they still fear the possibility of hell?

 

Something Different Saturdays

Something Different Saturday #5: Theist Mindset

For last weeks Something Different Saturday, click here.

For nearly 30 years I was a theist. If you have followed this blog you will know that I was a Pentecostal pastor, raised to believe that I was an end times prophet. With that in mind I should be fairly well able to describe the theist mindset. Some will of course state that I was never actually a believer, they will assert that only a non-believer could ever really leave the faith and if god had actually touched my heart I would still be a believer. These arguments are used by those in the faith community to immunize their own beliefs from true scrutiny. Others will say that this is only my experience, which is true, but I think you will find that my experience is shared by many who have left the faith and so I feel it is good to share.

dinosaursGrowing up I always loved learning, that might seem strange to hear from someone who was a fundamentalist but it is true. Having Autism means that I have very focused interests with History, Archaeology, and Paleontology being a few of those interests. From as early as I can remember, dinosaurs were a huge part of my life. I still read any new article that I come across involving the subject.

So it might also come as a shock that I both believed in a young earth as well as admitting that dinosaurs made this fact an impossibility. How could this be true? How can someone hold two separate contradictory thoughts and believe them both just as firmly?

If you have ever partitioned a hard-drive than maybe you will realize just how this was possible.  A partitioned hard-drive can act as two completely separate hard-drives, each with their own programs, operating systems, and faults. The same was true for my mind as a theist.

evan.jpgMy brain was partitioned. The vast majority of my thoughts were logical and reasonable.  There was however a portion of my brain where logic and reason were not built into the operating system, this was my faith center. In that portion of my brain all of the things from the bible were completely reasonable; the 6 day creation, Noah’s ark, the tower of babble, angels, the devil, demons, etc…

It is my opinion that the majority of theists are of the exact same mindset. Part of their brain is closed off to reason the other is completely open. This is why when something forces both parts together, the believer can become the non-believer in a short period of time. The same can also be true in the reverse, some non-believers can become believers in a short period of time.

UnicornWhat proof do I have of this phenomena outside of my own experiences? Ask a theist if they believe in leprechaun’s, fairies, unicorns, or big foot? Some might, but the vast majority will state that these things can’t exist because they are completely illogical. Then ask if god fits into this same scenario and their mindset will switch. They will state that god is completely logical and apparent to anyone who actually looks…

Go one step further and ask about Zeus, Dionysus, Hercules, or any other god outside of the one they believe in. They will more than likely go back to the logic and reason center stating that these God’s cannot exist because they are illogical and make no sense.

How else can this be explained outside of the closed off portion of the mind?

So what can you do with this information? Sadly the answer is, not much. If religion was a matter that could be reasoned away from then I have a hard time believing that it would have existed to this point in history.  Like myself, I believe that the easiest way to break the barrier between these two portions of the brain is through life experience. Most often this comes in the form of a traumatic event.

Traumatic events have a way of refocusing the mind in ways that were impossible prior to them. This is especially true in the areas of faith. Think of it like this, what is “Free-will?” Free will was in essence an idea created to explain and answer the reason for suffering in the world. From ancient Greece, the philosopher Epicurus, came up with the following problem.

Epicurus_bust21.) 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.

This problem has been the bane of believers and theologians for centuries. So the theologian introduced the idea of free-will, or that man shapes this world outside the ability of god, god cannot mess with free-will or else humans have no real choice in whether to serve him or not. So the equation becomes…

1.) If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2.) There is evil in the world.
3.) Free-Will Exists which allows evil to exist.
3.) Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god does exist.

The entire idea of free-will is centered around the need for an out for god. If free-will does not exist and we are much more like the animals that we believe ourselves superior to, then god is the reason for suffering and he cannot be a good and loving god. In many cases a believer can be perfectly happy with the free-will equation until a traumatic event occurs that appears to be no fault of their own.

For me this came in the form of my cousin’s suicide and the idea that a good and loving god sent him to hell. I was no longer capable of accepting a good and loving god in the equation. God became dark, distant and evil. My mind began to open where it had once been closed and I was finally able to use logic and reason on the subject of faith. Once this became possible, faith fell apart and what remained was one departitioned mind.

I try to remember this in the conversations that I have with theists. Many are quite intelligent, logical and reasonable, in all areas outside of their faith. They are who I once was for a long period of my life. With this in mind my discussions and debates with theists became much more civil and caring. I no longer resort to anger when someone challenges me on the facts of my former belief. They have to claim that I was never a believer in order to still keep the disconnect within their own minds in place. One day they might be in the same shoes as I once was and I would like to be there for them if that becomes the case.