I used to wonder (and believe I even asked you) if an aging agnostic would eventually ask, “is this all there is?”
The answers to that question could be mind-blowing.

You probably mean atheist and the fact is that most atheists die quite contentedly without ever asking that question. It comes from giving thought to life and belief and faith and knowledge and thinking is a pretty good thing.
I am agnostic however many people, you apparently are among them, who think that agnosticism is a belief or a faith. It is simply the acknowledgement that metaphysical notions are not known. If a genie appeared and offered to give me one wish it would be that everyone in the world become agnostic; there would be agnostic Catholics, agnostic atheists, agnostic Jews, agnostic Muslims, etc. Everyone would retain their belief/faith and they would freely tell others if they wished, spread the word like the Mormons do, but they would understand the difference between belief and knowledge. I like to think that if everyone understood that their belief was not any better or worse than any other belief and that we should be respectful of others’ beliefs the world would be a safer and happier place.

What do I believe? I believe that this life is wonderful. I like to make an analogy that fits well into the Christmas season. I like to think of life as a gift and I know that if I gave someone a gift that was unwrapped and the recipient exclaimed “great gift, Thank you! What else did you get me?” I would think that person was an ingrate. Just in case the analogy escapes you I’ll put it in terms of your belief. God gave you life and you are saying “is this all there is?” I think this life is wonderful and I give thanks for it frequently. I’m not looking forward to something else. If this is it, thank you! If there is more, wow! But my job in this life is to live it fully, to use the gift well and with appreciation.

From the Quran?

How do you feel about this quote? “If you reject my commands and abhor my laws you will eat the flesh of your own sons and the flesh of your own daughters.”

Wow, that’s harsh. It’s no wonder that people who get that kind of religious teaching could become radicalized. Can you imagine a religion that says people’s hands should be cut off?

http://kos.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=WovCxmndOvadFMsQ1M8E9oHPTdeUuOHQ

Check out this link. It is in German; I found it easier to read the subtitles with the sound off.

Tom Robbins reread

I recently picked up Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins and couldn’t put it down. I may go back and reread his other books soon; so many laughs and such good thoughts like:

Of course, as long as there were willing followers, there would be exploitive leaders. And there would be willing followers until humanity reached that philosophical plateau where it recognized that its great mission in life had nothing to do with any struggle between classes, races, nations, or ideologies, but was, rather, a personal quest to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain. On that quest, politics was simply a roadblock of stentorian baboons.

 

The Ten Commandments clarified

Can you really respect a God that dished out the Ten Commandments? Would you respect a boss who laid down such commandments? How about if the leader of your country acted like God.

You got a new job; it was the only job available so you really had no choice and your boss is laying down the law

1. I am the boss. I am your only boss. You shall have no other boss than me, ever.
2. Don’t even think about another boss or another job. I am a jealous son of a bitch and if I ever catch one of you even thinking about leaving here you will regret it. Not only will I make your life miserable but I will make your family’s life miserable, even your grandchildren’s lives.
3. It’s OK for me to call myself a SOB but you better not call me anything but Mr. Boss and Sir and it better sound sincere—no snide remarks behind my back either because I can see and hear everything that goes on not only here at work but even in your homes.
4. I built this factory in six days, believe it or not. A little joke there. You don’t really have a choice. You must believe it. I found it a good thing to rest on the seventh day and what is good for me is good for you. You, too, shall do no work on the seventh day but rather you must spend the day thinking about me. You will have to fast on the seventh day because I forbid you from letting anyone else work either. Perhaps, you could eat any food that was lying around, you know, just so you don’t work or cause anyone else to work and as long as you are thinking of me. Maybe you could, like, pick up an apple and look at it and say, “oh, beloved boss of mine thank you for giving me a wonderful job so that I can have this day to love and respect you and thank you for allowing me to eat this apple.”
5. This may be a little difficult to follow because I am the supreme boss who you must honor but you should also honor your father and mother, just not as much as you honor me. They aren’t supreme bosses like I am but they are there when I’m not so I kind of relinquish some power to them, because, you know, I can’t be everywhere all the time. But don’t forget that my spy-cams are everywhere.
6. You are not allowed to kill another worker. That’s a no-brainer. Once you start working for me, you are mine and nobody, but nobody, takes anything that is mine. It’s good for you too since everybody else is also forbidden to kill (There will be some exceptions when I will tell you to kill people. More on that later.)
7. Don’t fuck anybody but your own spouse. I told you that I was jealous so it’s only natural that some of that trait might wear off on others. Anyway adultery is just not a good thing. It’s not good for company moral.
8. No stealing. Hey, would you want someone to steal from you? OK? So don’t steal.
9. Don’t say false things about your neighbor.
10. Do not covet anybody else’s house, ditto anybody else’s wife, or his servants or his SUV.
Got it? Any questions?

Yes, Sir. What does covet mean?

It means want, desire, get a hard-on for.

Oh. Sir, are the covet things listed in order of importance? I mean, is it more important not to covet his house than his wife? And if I can’t even desire my neighbor’s wife, isn’t the adultery thing redundant?

OK, time to get back to work.

Oh, oh, Mr. Boss. Are we allowed to lie?

Read number 9.

But that just says don’t spread untrue rumors about people.

It means don’t lie.

But why didn’t you…

Oh, I forgot number 11. No questions. Actually I didn’t forget because I’m infallible. I was just teasing you.

If you are religious and you question your religious leader about the Ten Commandment and press for answers beyond the point where the only answer is “it’s a leap of faith”, your religious leader may invoke the eleventh commandment.

Run this same exercise for the leader of a country rather than the leader of a business and you may find yourself describing Moamer Kadhafi, Saddam Hussein. or Kim Jong-Il.
The Ten Commandments do not describe a loving or a lovable God. But, hey, you better accept them as God’s word or He will make you suffer for eternity which, as I understand it, is a long time.

Creationism vs Evolution

One of the arguments creationists use to dismiss evolution goes “If we evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?” They ought to look at their own religion for the answer. Catholicism evolved from Judaism and yet there are still Jews. Islam evolved from Catholicism as did Protestantism yet there are still Catholics. There are divisions within Islam and numerous forms of Protestantism all leaving still intact their origins. For those who are confused about how evolution works, I hope this helps.
Understanding evolution doesn’t mean you have to abandon or even question your faith. I would hope this brings you a better understanding of your faith. Genesis is a myth. It is interesting to contemplate how that myth came into being. The majority of Christians, Jews and Muslims already understand it as a myth and yet they remain Christians, Jews and Muslims. Take the good messages on living that the Bible holds and use them. Enjoy the myths as part of your heritage.

Dialogue with Ben

Ben: If I understand you correctly, you may not be able to comprehend why some people would hurt others, but you wouldn’t say that their path in life; their ultimate goal, is any less valid than your own. Have I represented you accurately?
Thomas: Not exactly. I can’t comprehend why people hurt others because I’m not in their skin, soul, whatever and because what I have learned about myself has made hurting others on purpose incomprehensible. I have no way of knowing why others do what they do and don’t see how I can judge them.
Ben: You said that in your worldview, the world should be a place “where everyone accepts everyone”. Why?
Thomas: “Should” is the operative word in that statement. It is not the way the world is, it will not be that in my lifetime and probably never but my view of a perfect world, heaven, if you will, is one in which everyone accepts everyone else. I use the word “accepts” rather than “love” because love is a word that has too much emotion and misunderstanding attached but I am basically talking about Christ’s central message of love for everyone. The reason everyone should accept everyone, other than because it is what Christ wanted, is that to do otherwise is frequently a source of conflict.
Ben: What if butchering another human makes someone happy?
Thomas: Accepting a person as they are does not include accepting certain behaviors.
Ben: Should we judge or encourage a serial killer like Tommy Lynn Sells?
Thomas: Judging his actions is a no-brainer. Putting him away forever or killing him is all fine with me.
Ben: Why should everyone accept everyone?
Thomas: It’s really hard to love someone if you don’t accept them for who they are. Accepting is not condoning or agreeing with; it is “I see you as a person.”
Ben: Why should we love everyone?
Thomas: Maybe you think Satan wrote Matthew 5: 43-48 and Luke 6:27 or are you picking and choosing? But rather than rely on the Bible I’ll give you my own answer from my own life. While trying to follow the advice from your savior, Jesus, I have found that the more successful I am at loving neighbors and enemies the happier I am. Hating Tommy Sells may make you feel better and if that is the case, it is what you should do. Finding it in my heart to love him, while difficult, makes me feel better. Do I love him enough to think he should be running around in society? Hell no.
Ben: Is your worldview morally superior to the worldview of Tommy Lynn Sells?
Thomas: Sells is a character in my life similar to the ghosts in Pac-Man. I have no morally superior worldview
Ben: Do you exist in a worldview of total relativism where anything is right for anyone?
Thomas: I exist in a place where there is only one person I can change and, thus, only one person to judge. Put me on Sell’s jury and I’d judge his actions unacceptable and I wouldn’t care much what happened to his body but I might feel some compassion for his soul (if I was in a dualistic mood). I have no idea what is right for you or for Sells or anyone else.
Ben: Would you appeal to the Bible? But if you do, why reject so much of it while taking just the parts that you like?
Thomas: Gosh, Ben, it seems to me you are rejecting the passages I cited above. Of course I take the parts I like as do you. There is enough contradiction in the Bible to make everyone happy.
As an aside, I’ve done some research into religion and serial killers and haven’t found one that came from an atheist upbringing so I was further amused at Sells statement: “I’ve made my peace with my maker.”

Dialogue with Michael

See comments for the beginning of this dialogue.

Michael: Thanks for the reply, Thomas D.  I am probably older than you…I’m 50.  Your life will be over in the blink of an eye and you will have spent so much of your time and effort with this website and it will all be in vain if you continue to hold to your current beliefs.  Besides, is it really bringing you satisfaction doing this?  If you indeed know the Bible, then call out to God and pray to Him for belief or faith and do it in sincerity.  If He doesn’t answer you, then at least you did as He commanded.  He responded to me when I did and He still does when I’m sincere.   That’s better than arguing semantics and philosophy all day.  That will never accomplish anything because people just don’t change their minds through “healthy” debate and arguing.  Anywho, I don’t mean any harm, just saying what I have experienced.  Btw, “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis had a large part in changing my mind about things.

Thomas: I’m 76 and I live my life as if the next blink may be my last. You may have heard of people whose lives have changed dramatically after having had a near brush with death. My thinking about life over the years has brought me to this wonderful place where I respect and love my fellow travelers in this journey we call life. I got to this place without a near death experience; in fact I am very healthy and active and have always been. I currently grow an acre of vegetables producing over 9,000 pounds last year.
Thinking for me is fun and hoeing the peas is a good time to think. I invite you to read my essay on love on Satanwrotethebible. I suspect you are put off by the website title. The essay on love is sincere and very much in keeping with Jesus’s teaching.

Michael: Wow, 76?  I wasn’t expecting that.  I am used to these younger kids who think they know everything and just want to argue.  I get caught up in their agenda, leave comments and usually regret it.  I grew up in the Mississippi Delta surrounded by farmland.  I even have a degree in Entomology, so it sounds like we aren’t that different.  Uh, yes, I guess I am put off by the website title…maybe even confused a little as to what you believe.

Thomas:You may be amused to learn that atheists visiting my site are also a little confused as to what I believe. My quote “Leave your leap of faith behind and use your God-given mind” leads them to think that I believe in God which confuses them because they assumed anyone who thought Satan wrote the Bible would not believe in God. In my writing I try hard to put myself in the other person’s shoes, to empathize. The notion of Satan writing the Bible assumes the person I’m communicating with believes in Satan and also believes the Bible is the word of God. If I don’t understand where they are in their thoughts, it is not likely I will be able to communicate with them. If you believe in Satan and read my essay “Satan Wrote the Bible”, please tell me where I went wrong—other than the title and conclusion, of course (ha, ha).

Michael: Okay, I read it.  It’s a very creative take on the Bible.  Let me ask this.  What if the Bible is indeed God’s Word (as most Christians believe) and that your idea about Satan writing the Bible is actually Satan’s influence on your mind.  I will go so far as to state, that Satan is influencing either your mind or the Christians’s mind about the Bible.

Thomas: Excellent! You are absolutely right! If you believe the Bible is God’s Word and if you believe in a force of evil with all the powers you attribute to Satan, then it is equally likely that Satan is influencing my mind as that Satan is influencing the Christians’s mind.

Michael: If Satan wrote the Bible, then God is not revealing His word to His people today. The creator has decided not to communicate with His people and that really doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Why wouldn’t God reveal “the real truth” as you state to us in a different way then?

Thomas: I think the creator has communicated eloquently and does so every waking moment of every life that is open to the Creator’s truth. The Creator gave us our bodies with their senses of smell, sight, sound, touch and brains to absorb all of that, to appreciate, to love, to embrace this gift of life. Did he create such dullards that they could not get the message?
Don’t you agree that Satan couldn’t create our bodies, our senses and the flowers, sunsets and billions of life forms and geological forms; that Satan was not a creator? Where we disagree is that you think God’s creation was not enough; that we can’t understand it, appreciate it, figure out how to conduct ourselves in this amazing thing called life without an instruction book.

Michael: Satan doesn’t have the power to allow Jesus Christ to fulfill all Old Testament prophecies for the Messiah.  Only God could have done that.  That would make Jesus the true Messiah that we should follow, which would destroy Satan’s purpose for writing the Bible.

Thomas: Isn’t your impression that Satan has the power to manipulate, that he has the power to cause books to be written, to influence people’s actions, etc. You are saying he doesn’t have the power to allow Jesus Christ to fulfill OT prophecies but all you are writing about is based on writing that Satan could manipulate.

{More to follow]

Good in the Bible

Dear Bible Believer, Let me get back to your original question: if Satan wrote the Bible, why is there so much good in it?

Put yourself in Satan’s shoes—you say out of jealousy he wants to destroy God’s creation. He wants us to destroy the forests and fields, to destroy the Garden of Eden, to kill all other creatures and each other; he wants us to deny the pleasure of our senses. You say he is smart and crafty; would it be smart to preach the destruction of creation? If he said he was God and preached destruction, killing and denial, would you follow that god? Satan is devious, right? So he causes the Bible to be written and in it he puts some good things like “Thou Shalt not kill. [It’s interesting that when asked to name the Ten Commandments, the first most people name is “Thou Shalt not kill”. It is number six in the Bible.]

While Satan would like to see lots of wars and have us kill each other he puts in the Bible “Thou shalt not kill.” That makes sense to us. It is wise advice. Then Satan fills the Bible with killing.

God is a brutal, bloodthirsty son of a bitch. Here’s one example:

And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed.  Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.  (Exodus 12:29-30)

In that one God did the actual killing himself but he also enjoyed ordering murders:

All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. God’s words to Moses in Leviticus 20:9

If you thirst for more of this check out:

http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm

Dear Bible Believer, how do you reconcile God’s actions, brutal actions and orders with the Sixth Commandment?

I find the teachings of Jesus to be excellent. He taught love. That was far and away the thing he preached most yet much blood has been shed over belief in him. When he says “I am the way. Only through me can you get to heaven.” Where did that come from? It is not loving. It is excluding. I frankly don’t believe he ever said anything like that. I believe those words were put into his mouth by disciples, preachers traveling around spreading his word and gathering followers. It served their purpose but it did not serve Jesus’s teachings or his legacy well.

Truth

Ah, the truth. The truth for you may be different than the truth for me. I think it is something each of us must find for ourselves. It is a pity that many people are taught at an early age that their religion is the only true religion and that they should not question it. If you are not questioning, you are not learning.

The truth regarding the contradictions in the Bible is that it was written by many men based on stories that were passed down orally through many generations with corrections, embellishments, errors and, I suspect, some intentional fraud. We should keep in mind that these men thought the world was the center of the universe and that the earth was flat. They should be admired for the philosophical/psychological truths they discovered but thinking should not stop.

Consider how much more we know today than was known 2,000 years ago about every field of thought—astronomy, geography, biology, chemistry, botany, psychology, psychiatry, etc.—while religious philosophy for Jews, Christians and Muslims has stood still.

If you have debated with someone who takes the Bible literally, you have probably reached a point in the debate where your opponent says, “It is a leap of faith.” That is where a debate between rational or logical thought and religious belief has reached an impasse. That is where I say, “Leave your leap of faith behind and use your God-give mind.” By the way, when I say that, I am not stating my own belief on the existence or not of a Supreme Being but rather using language that should resonate with the person I’m debating.

A new Religion

If Satan wrote the Bible, shouldn’t Jews, Christians and Muslims be looking for a new religion?
A new religion?! Oh, Please. We have more than enough religions. The religions many have grown up with are imbedded in their psyche. Communism was the largest experiment in getting rid of religion and it clearly failed to do so. However, new religions have formed over the years; some of them, most notably the Mormons in recent times, have been quite successful in drawing people to them from other religions. It is apparent that many people need religion perhaps to help them stay on a moral path or to help them through difficult times or to give them comfort. Religious rituals are important to some; songs and sermons can be uplifting as well as doing good.
I would not for a minute suggest replacing established religions with a new religion. I shudder at the thought of anyone taking my writings (this is not the only place I write) as the basis for a new religion because historically all of the great religions have strayed from the words of the teachers on whom they were founded.
My philosophy is introspective. To follow my path one needs to use his or her brain to think about this life, his or her life. I hope that what you find when you look inside yourself is a conscience that guides you. Much of your conscience may be in step with a religion or, more nearly, with the teachings of the original figure in the religion but the ultimate guide should be totally within you. We are all different. If you want to call what you find within yourself a new religion, fine; but keep it to yourself.