Thursday, January 12, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Without attempting to discount a family's traumatic experience, this book seems opportunistic and unbelievable, preying on the insecurities and beliefs of people who would very much like to think that there's something more after death. The problems arise in Burpo's naive assumptions that their child never overheard them talking about certain subjects, never stumbled across photos, and most importantly, wouldn't have made up a story about Jesus if it weren't true. Children are really hard to predict and they have very active imaginations, even going so far as to tell people what they want to hear if they think it will make them happy.
At several points, Burpo attempts to "clear the air" by stating that he's not a superstitious person or that he doesn't have some sort of confirmation bias. But he's a Christian pastor! It would be impossible (I choose this word over "improbable") that he could approach this subject without injecting some of his own personal views and opinions -- especially when he's relating conversations to which only he and one other person were (maybe) a party. Remember, the man writing this book is relating fantastical stories in a manner very similar to his preferred scriptures and asking you to accept them in the same way without verification that he accepts the Bible. You're free to believe as you wish, but Burpo doesn't make a convincing case to me and I was sorry I put money in his pockets (or his church coffers) by buying this book.
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Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I have issues with prayer. First of all, I don't believe prayer works. Second, I believe that even if prayer were a valid form of communication or intercessory action it causes certain problems for the one receiving the prayers. Let's examine these problems:
Prayer is Confusing!
Imagine you're a god and your followers communicate with you via prayer –– that is to say, telepathic means by either speaking out loud or thinking specific things. Your task is to listen to every single one of these prayers and answer them according to some method of prioritization and feasibility. It probably wouldn't be too difficult if you had one or two followers or maybe even 10. But what if you had a million or a billion followers? With each follower asking for different things (some of which are bound to be in direct conflict with each other) how do you even keep them straight?
Prayer is Favoritism!
Once you've gotten all of these prayers your task is answering them all. You can answer them with a "Yes," "No," or "Wait." The ones you answer with a "Yes" are obviously more feasible or have a higher priority than the others. But what makes one prayer more feasible than others?
If little Billy asks for snow in July because his friend is dying of cancer and wants to be able to sled before he dies, why wouldn't it be within your power to make that happen? Billy's heart is obviously in the right place and when he says this prayer I'm certain he means it earnestly. Somehow these types of prayers always seem to be answered with a "No."
If Martha can't find her keys and prays for help (and you know she'll eventually find them anyway, once she calms down and thinks about it) why would you choose to answer that one over Billy's? It doesn't make any sense, but this is what we see happening all the time. Does this mean you like Martha more than Billy or his dying friend? It kind of seems that way.
How do you, as a deity, get around showing favoritism when it's perfectly clear you'll never be able to please everybody?
Prayer is Contradiction!
In the following verses Jesus said some variant of, "Whatever you ask in my name it shall be given to you."
- Matthew 21:22
- Mark 11:24
- John 14:13-14
- John 15:7
- John 15:16
- John 16:23-24
Having said this, did Jesus realize that people would be asking for things that directly contradict either (a) god's will (b) the laws of nature (c) other prayers or (d) anything that would actually be beneficial to humanity? If he knew any of these do you think he would have said it? And if he knew that people would ask for things that are never fulfilled would he have been so cavalier in making such a promise? I think not.
Prayer is Showmanship!
All of the supernatural points aside, praying has become an art form for many a religious person. Instead of doing it quietly and humbly as a personal conversation between you and your god, you insist on doing it out loud using the most eloquent words you can think up, hurling praises and flattering your deity for everyone to hear. You think it makes you pious. I think it makes you look ridiculous. Do you honestly think your god is impressed with the flapping of your arms or the wavering of your voice?
Prayer is Inaction!
Have you ever stopped to think that the time you spend praying could be put to better use actually doing something? Sure, praying for somebody makes you feel like you're helping them but has anybody ever averted a real, tangible crisis by praying instead of acting on it? If you can think of a single instance I'd love to hear about it.
Prayer is Short-Sighted!
Think of all the things about which you've prayed. How many of those things benefited more people than just you? How many of those things benefited more than just the people you know? How about more than just your community? Or your country?
Why don't the people who really believe prayer works pray for world peace? I mean really put your heads together and earnestly ask your god to bring about a change in people's hearts and minds so that we see the end of war, hatred and violence? Honestly, do you think that's a worthwhile goal? If not, why not?
Let's start thinking, people. Please.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I swear, stupid people are outbreeding smart people by a large margin! I was just made aware of a poll that the San Antonio Fox affiliate conducted on their Web site asking if the Ten Commandments ought to be posted in all public school classrooms, following a proposal by representative Dan Flynn. Thankfully, there were enough rational people voting in the poll to push the results to 1.19% Yes and 98.77% No. However, read through the comments and very quickly you'll come to this gem:
It would definitely help with so many kids taking guns to school, dishonoring their parents, lying, stealing, doing immoral things and most importantly not giving God the recognition he deserves. by Nancy
Really?! Having stone monuments posted in a classroom is going curtail gun-toting, disrespectful children in public schools? I'd love to have some of what Nancy is smoking. Oh, wait. Would that violate any of the Big Ten?
OK, so here's the problem as I see it: the introduction of the Ten Commandments in school classrooms has absolutely no purpose other than the forcing of religion into our lives. It doesn't matter how you try to word it or disguise it, the sole purpose of this proposal is to shove your religion down our throats! The Ten Commandments aren't educational, don't apply to all world religions, start off with divisive rhetoric, and will cost taxpayers money that could actually benefit the schools in tangible ways. In short, it's a lose/lose situation!
The argument that the Ten Commandments don't solely apply to Christianity is false. I'll make a blog post about this soon.
The argument that the Ten Commandments contain sound moral guidelines is false. That'll be included in my upcoming blog post.
The argument that the Ten Commandments compel people to behave is demonstrably false, ignorant, naïve, and just plain fucking stupid. If the presence of these magical rules "helped" with curtailing bad behavior don't you think the religious community wouldn't have nearly the amount of problems it historically and currently has? Are you really that blinded to reality that you cannot see this?
Let's start thinking, people. Please.
I've been informed of a new project which will reach its conclusion in the near future. It's a book entitled "Jesus Potter, Harry Christ" by Derek Murphy which examines the mythos of Jesus Christ as a literary figure in contrast to Harry Potter, who has garnered much animosity and fear from Christians. I'm particularly intrigued by this idea in the wake of discovering another book, "Nailed: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed at All" by David Fitzgerald.
The character of Jesus is surrounded by a haze of vague preconceptions, credulity and wishful thinking –- especially when it comes to fulfillment of prophecy and miracles. I'm looking forward to reading both of these books very soon and giving my thoughts on the matter afterward.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I have friends on my Facebook account – either those with whom I currently associate or old friends from High School – who are believers in some sort of deity. This being the United States, the overwhelming majority are, of course, Christians. These friends (not all of them, but several) will periodically post status messages proclaiming the greatness of their god, or the greatness of their faith. Some examples would be:
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. ps 91 11-14
God IS SO SOSOSOSOSOSOSO GOOD..... still praise you when my throat is sore... you are an awesome GOD.
There's nothing wrong with you believing whatever you want. However, you should realize by now that not everyone else is going to believe it just because you do. That being the truth (and it is), you shouldn't be surprised when somebody disagrees with you and chooses to comment on your status. Since Facebook allows for commenting on statuses, you must have expected that your friends would be able to do this. So, why do you type responses like this when that happens?
Help, I'm Being Persecuted!
I think your hate for God is clouding your judgment and has cause you to become angry in the conversation. Just because you live by a different belief than me or others does not make yours right. You came on this page of someone who has faith to blast there faith in order to try and cause confusion in her mind. You have allow the devil to enter your thought system to destroy faith and I am here to help you see the what you have allowed to come into your life. If you choice to walk away from that, that is your free will. No one should ever force another to believe like them.
First, why do Christians have such dreadful spelling and grammar? I don't want to flippantly draw a parallel between religious belief and intelligence, but they almost make it too easy to do so without trying. Obviously, not 100% of Christians write poorly but it's definitely prevalent enough so that I'm picking up on a pattern.
Second, how in the world do you figure I'm mad at or hate god? Does having a contrary opinion automatically mean I'm filled with hatred? That's ludicrous! This is a classic Christian persecution complex and it makes me want to pull out my hair a handful at a time. What gives you the right to project feelings onto me that I'm not experiencing? Get over yourself!
The Hypocrisy, It Burns!
All of that being said, when it comes time for me to update my status on Facebook I sometimes (more often, recently) quote a notable atheist or make my own observation about religion. I do this with full expectation that somebody will disagree and probably comment on it. I don't accuse them of hating me or some imaginary being and I don't project my insecurities onto them because they've shared their opinion. Why is it that the atheist is being more Christ-like than the believers?
Let's start thinking, people. Please.
Monday, November 22, 2010
This has bugged me for quite some time and I have yet to get any kind of explanation for it from Christians, let alone from god. Tell me this isn't completely weird, in describing an all-knowing creator:
Prior to creating the world, God set a rule for Himself that the people He was going to create for the express purpose of loving unconditionally would not be allowed anywhere near Him because He would purposely instill them with a degenerative condition to which He is allergic and which cannot be cured but only conceptually controlled by a symbolic treatment of Jesus' blood; and because He set this rule for Himself He is unable to break it even though it doesn't make any sense, causes Him grief, forced Him to kill His son, and He's omnipotent?
Weird. Let's start thinking, people. Please.