Archive for the Atheism Category

It’s the Community Stupid!

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, Church, God, Jesus, Religion on November 9, 2008 by Scott

connectedForget about those grumpy people sitting in the pew next to you who never speak or the people who walk past you in the halls racing to beat the Baptist to Luby’s…religion makes people nicer.  Maybe.

Paul Bloom makes the case…or not…that religious people are nicer.

There is evidence within the United States for a correlation between religion and what might broadly be called “niceness.”

In Gross National Happiness, Arthur Brooks notes that atheists are less charitable than their God-fearing counterparts: They donate less blood and are less likely to offer change to homeless people on the street. Since giving to charity makes one happy, Brooks speculates that this could be one reason why atheists are so miserable.

In a 2004 study, twice as many religious people say that they are very happy with their lives, while the secular are twice as likely to say that they feel like failures.

But not so fast.

Society Without God by Phil Zuckerman looks at the Danes and the Swedes—perhaps the most “godless” people on Earth.

They don’t go to church or pray in the privacy of their own homes; they don’t believe in God or heaven or hell. But…they’re nice to one another. They have a famously expansive welfare and health care service. They have a strong commitment to social equality. And—even without belief in a God looming over them—they murder and rape one another significantly less frequently than Americans do.

A 2005 study by Gregory Paul looking at 18 democracies found that the more atheist societies tended to have relatively low murder and suicide rates and relatively low incidence of abortion and teen pregnancy.

The positive effect of religion in the real world is tied to a community component—rather than a belief in constant surveillance by a higher power. Humans are social beings, and we are happier, and better, when connected to others.

The Danes and the Swedes, despite being godless, have strong communities. Most Danes and Swedes identify themselves as Christian. They get married in church, have their babies baptized, give some of their income to the church, and feel attached to their religious community—they just don’t believe in God.

Bloom has simplified it for us all.  It’s not about God, its about community.  Just donate blood, give some money to the homeless guy on the corner, and make some friends and all of our issues will go away.

No wonder we keep hearing all of the megachurch Pastors preaching on community and getting connected.

Imagine No Religion

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, Church, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Religion on June 9, 2008 by Scott

Spending time in the Rocky Mountains this week.  Driving through the Rockies, its impossible not to be awed at God’s creation.

Back in Denver the Freedom From Religion Foundation is causing a stir with its “Imagine No Religion” billboard.

“More than 2,000 religions have fueled division and rancor among peoples and hindered scientific and social progress,” said Michael Lee Smith, spokesman for the FFRF

“The world would be better off without organized religion,” he said.

Better off without organized religion?  Hmm… Who was it that came to organize this “religion” in the first place?

Passer-by Joseph Sanchez said the billboard doesn’t upset him but that he doesn’t agree with it. “I’m not really big on organized religion, but I love religion,” he said. It’s important for people to keep religion somewhere in the back of their minds but not to take it too seriously.”

That last comment just might be the greatest challenge we face in our culture. Keeping religion in the back of their minds…

Sounds like people are already imagining no religion.

Lesbian Be-Leaver

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, God, Religion on March 26, 2008 by Scott

spaceball1.gifI saw this letter at C. Michael Patton regarding someone’s departure from the God-thing.

This seems to be another example of the church failing. We readily show grace to someone who admits sexual sin and wants forgiveness, as we should, but when someone is in that place where truth hasn’t quite taken hold of them, and is living a sin in either thought or action, we remove them from the roles until they repent or they are viewed as an unbeliever with unknown sin.

If you’re a tweener…well, we’ll see you when you get there.

Here is her letter… Continue reading

The Church Of Oprah

Posted in Atheism, Blogs, Christianity, Culture, Jesus, Religion on March 11, 2008 by Scott

newearth.jpgChristian Newswire had an article on Oprah’s comment on February 28th…

“I really do believe I was born to be a vehicle for this information to come to all of you. If you want to be a part of it, if you want to find out who you really are, join the largest interactive classroom in the world. It’s free, because I want to begin to transform the world one reader at a time.”

The curriculum is Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth

  • “The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light.”
  • “Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. To sin means to miss the mark, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence.”
  • “The man on the cross is an archetypal image. He is every man and every woman.”

So it’s all about self…under the precept of saving the world through some inner generosity, it is about finding it within yourself to love without boundaries because love is never wrong. And part of that is truth and part of that…not so much. But she does want to change the world.

I contrasted this with a post at swerve on Moral Margin

  • In the name of being culturally relevant, some expose themselves to unnecessary temptation.
  • In the name of relaxing, some are entertained by sin.
  • In the name of ministering to people, some spend unsupervised time with the opposite sex.

This says there is something within us that we’re not sure why it resides there but it calls us to believe in something more than ourselves…trusting in loving and living within boundaries. To believe that just because we feel it, that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it the light that we should follow.

And to know Christ is more than a prototype or abstract thought process.

Virgin Birth

Posted in Atheism, Blogs, Christianity, Culture, Faith, God, Jesus, Religion on December 26, 2007 by Scott

The Barna Group published research findings ….

Three out of four adults (75%) said that they believe Jesus Christ was born to a virgin, Mary, as described in the gospel narratives. Of the six Bible stories examined in the survey, this story was the most widely accepted.

A majority of all but one of the sixty population subgroups studied in the research took the virgin birth at face value. The exception was atheists and agnostics (among whom just 15% said this really happened). Some people groups in which a majority rejected every other Bible story tested broke that pattern in relation to the virgin birth. Mary’s virgin birth was accepted as literally true by two-thirds of upscale adults (66%) and by a bare majority of the unchurched (53%). Even a strikingly large share of those who describe themselves as mostly liberal on political and social issues (60%) adopted the biblical view of Christ’s birth.

Downscale individuals were substantially more likely than upscale people to characterize each of the six stories as factually reliable.

Protestants were more likely than Catholics to accept each of the six stories as literally true.

People who live in the South were more likely than residents of all other regions to embrace the truth of all six stories.

So…do you believe it and in its generally accepted biblical context, or do you believe the context that in that culture virgins were also considered those women who conceived when having intercourse for the first time…or is it all hooey? Can someone actually be a Christian if they waiver on this issue? Is there Christianity without this part of the story?

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter.

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

Faith-Based President

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, Culture, God, Leadership, Religion on December 22, 2007 by Scott

Before we vote…before we use faith as a barometer for addressing this nation’s issues…know your candidate…will his actions mirror his words.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State. History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life…. The National Government regard the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed…. It will be the Government’s care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavoring to develop them.

One of these is a quote by Adolf Hitler and the other is Thomas Jefferson. What are you looking for in a President?

Anybody Important?

Posted in Atheism, Christianity, Church, Culture, God, Leadership, Movies, Politics, Religion on December 11, 2007 by Scott

So we were sitting around listening to the news coverage surrounding the shootings at the church in Colorado…mh…and my wife says “anybody important?”. Now that can be taken out of context but it brought to mind if the church really has someone more important than another.

Is your senior pastor more important…discipleship pastor…worship pastor…children’s pastor…? What about people who walk through the doors…are the people who tithe more important…the homeless…the unbelievers…the volunteers? Do you/we/I distinguish between the importance of others…did Christ?

As we watched the Da Vinci Code, does a cup that Christ drank from really matter…do we think he would have cared about that? Did he die so people could separate themselves by what day of the week they worship?

What matters to you…show me your checkbook and it will reveal to you what’s important to you…show me your calendar and it will reveal who’s important to you.