I post mostly messages and commentary about religion and politics, and the scary occasions when they collide.
I am a: Liberal, Green, Christian, Math teacher
Lover of Math, Philosophy, Animals, Civil Rights, and Arguments of all kinds.

24th April 2014

Question with 1 note

sarka asked: I am so out of the loop, so unhip and uncool. I had to look up Flying Spaghetti Monster, and when I finally did I was like, OMG okay I don't even wanna know. Maybe I'm just getting too old for this. I do love your blog, however.

Hehe… aww, thank you! Flying Spaghetti Monster isn’t really one of the better atheist arguments, even if it is somewhat amusing. You could be, ah, forgiven from knowing about it!

23rd April 2014

Question reblogged from Hands That Help with 19 notes

Anonymous asked: I get annoyed whenever people say that Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever is a "religion". It isn't, especially since it's made to mock other religions. I just don't know how to exactly explain to jerks that religion is a lot more complicated and complex than just believing in something and wearing specific garments to that religion. Sorry, I just had to vent.

youratheistfriend:

Much of what I’ve seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster used for, aside from a good chuckle now and then, is illustrating the privilege that the religious enjoy within American society. The example that springs to mind is someone being able to wear a pasta strainer as a hat in a driver’s license photo because they claimed it was part of religious garb. Head coverings are allowed for official state ID only if they’re part of religious attire. 

The question might be, then, why would a person want to wear a pasta strainer on their head, since they obviously don’t believe in the associated deity? It should be obvious why the believer does- the symbol has meaning for them! I’m not sure I’d call that a privilege, unless non-believers really think they’re missing out on wearing ridiculous garments, for some reason? 

Additionally, it’s a good absurd example for people who ask “But how do you prove God isn’t there?” The answer being “I can’t. But I also can’t prove that there isn’t a Flying Spaghetti Monster who created everything, and you don’t believe in that.”

But the question isn’t what the “unprovable God” looks like, whether male or female or pasta, but the fact that atheism is no more a proven concept than theism… but theism seeks to explain a very basic question that, thus far, atheists(generally) have not: Why are we here, and where did we come from? FSM doesn’t answer those questions, which are the most relevant to the God-issue. Not appearance.

liberalchristian:

Not a problem, I understand.

I see the comparison of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as exemplifying the trouble with many in the atheistic/anti-theistic movement, in the way they go about attacking faith. First, it’s not a logical argument against religion, nor FOR anything else(questionable whether it’s intended to be)- so what’s the point? It questions nothing about theology(which most atheists are uninterested in), it doesn’t provide a realistic comparison for God(strawman fallacy), and it doesn’t point out what might be actual problems with religious belief(though many religious people are capable of doing this themselves!).

Why do they use it at all? …Most likely, because doing any of the things that I mentioned would be a lot harder than mocking someone else’s belief. It demands nothing more from the one using the FSM example than the ability to memorize a few catchy internet slogans, and it makes their opponent angry, and consequently, foolish for arguing with them. For the atheist, it’s a “win” with no risk and no effort. For the Christian, it’s a loss the moment it begins.

Frustrating as it may be, there’s just no reason to answer that particular “challenge.” It’s not an attack on faith or religion for anyone wise enough to realize- as you noted- that religion is a lot more complex than that. Thus, there’s nothing to defend, and the atheist in question wasn’t planning on listening anyway. Walk away :)

God bless!

And that is not a Strawman fallacy because the only usual comparison is that Christian’s claim God is there with no evidence and the claim that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there also has no evidence. As far as I’m aware, the Flying Spaghetti Monster ordered far less genocides in the relevant lore. 

If by “the only usual comparison” from Christians means, “Christians who are no more familiar with theology than atheists who use the FSM example are”, then I might agree with you. But the church itself and apologists who study these questions have been doing so for thousands of years… and comparing FSM to their work is most definitely a strawman fallacy! Your last sentence is also an argument-by-outrage fallacy. The question of whether God exists is irrelevant to the question of whether you like or agree with things He might have said.

It should also be said that a person’s inability to argue well has no bearing on whether their particular belief is true… and that is so regardless of whether the person in question is religious or atheist.

Thanks for the comments. :)

Tagged: religionatheismatheistchristianitychristiantheology

Source: liberalchristian

23rd April 2014

Question with 19 notes

Anonymous asked: I get annoyed whenever people say that Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever is a "religion". It isn't, especially since it's made to mock other religions. I just don't know how to exactly explain to jerks that religion is a lot more complicated and complex than just believing in something and wearing specific garments to that religion. Sorry, I just had to vent.

Not a problem, I understand.

I see the comparison of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as exemplifying the trouble with many in the atheistic/anti-theistic movement, in the way they go about attacking faith. First, it’s not a logical argument against religion, nor FOR anything else(questionable whether it’s intended to be)- so what’s the point? It questions nothing about theology(which most atheists are uninterested in), it doesn’t provide a realistic comparison for God(strawman fallacy), and it doesn’t point out what might be actual problems with religious belief(though many religious people are capable of doing this themselves!).

Why do they use it at all? …Most likely, because doing any of the things that I mentioned would be a lot harder than mocking someone else’s belief. It demands nothing more from the one using the FSM example than the ability to memorize a few catchy internet slogans, and it makes their opponent angry, and consequently, foolish for arguing with them. For the atheist, it’s a “win” with no risk and no effort. For the Christian, it’s a loss the moment it begins.

Frustrating as it may be, there’s just no reason to answer that particular “challenge.” It’s not an attack on faith or religion for anyone wise enough to realize- as you noted- that religion is a lot more complex than that. Thus, there’s nothing to defend, and the atheist in question wasn’t planning on listening anyway. Walk away :)

God bless!

Tagged: religionatheismanti-theistatheistchristianity

20th April 2014

Question with 5 notes

Anonymous asked: so to piggy-back off of the other anon's question. does sexual immorality include masturbation or homosexuality? and how exactly do we know?

Well, it’s better to take a cautious view of what sexual immorality might mean, and not assume that it refers to ANY form of sexually-related acts. Claiming that sexual immorality refers to either because they are often viewed that way by many Christians today is circular reasoning- Christians back then might not have agreed.

Homosexuality(same sex acts, rather) is a complicated issue, and I answered it generally in response to the last question.

As for masturbation, the only possible direct reference to it in the bible is the story of Onan in Genesis, who ‘spilled his seed’, rather than obey the command to give his brother’s widow a child… but in context, it is far more clear that that story is about breaking one’s familial obligations, not about the particular way that vow-breaking was done. 

How do we know which acts are banned and which are permitted? We ask about, we talk about it, we do biblical research, we look at modern research today that might indicate whether X is harmful or not… then we make up our own minds about it. If you occasionally get it wrong, that’s both understandable and inevitable. Perfection isn’t required of Christians, and caring is far more important.

Tagged: religionsexualitybiblechristianity

19th April 2014

Question with 22 notes

Anonymous asked: As a Liberal and a struggling Christian, how do you reconcile the parts of the Bible that go against your political beliefs? As much as I want to follow the word of God, I can't follow rules demanding women be silent and transgender/homosexuals be damned.

There are no parts of the Bible that go against my political beliefs, as there are no parts of the Bible that demand a particular political belief. The only requirement to call oneself a Christian is to believe that Christ is the son of God, and He has forgiven us of our sins- believing in every word(or even reading every word) might be a “good idea”, but it is something that has to be worked out over a lifetime of faith… not as a prerequisite to believe in Christianity.

That is my perspective on it, anyway. For specific political beliefs, I’d have to read the specific related verses:

1. Women should be silent. There is a lot of scholarly disagreement about what Paul meant by this line, what the issue was within THAT CHURCH that he was addressing in the letter which contains it, and whether he in fact wrote that verse at all. The one thing I can say is that by all accounts, this verse was NEVER FOLLOWED in Christian churches in the way that people tend to interpret it today(usually as an attack on the bible, not as an argument that women actually should be silent). Even in the days of Paul, women held positions of authority within the church, taught on the scripture, prayed openly, and were generally not silent. Was Paul taken out of context? Was he ignored or misquoted? We don’t know. Without further evidence either way, I feel free to ignore it.

2. The bible potentially bans certain types of same-sex sexual acts. It says nothing about homosexuality or transgenderism, as neither concept existed in the minds or language of those who wrote it. Whether or not God has adopted such concepts Himself is unknown. As far as them ‘being damned’, there are at least two options here-

-Same sex acts were condemned for cultural reasons, or under some other context that we either no longer have or are not familiar with. I.E. homosexuality as practiced by loving partners is not a sin.

or

-Same sex acts are considered a sin by God. If so, those who engage in them can feel confident in the knowledge that, like 100% of the rest of us humans, they are sinners in the eyes of God.

In either case, it would have little relevance to the question of whether homosexuals can gain salvation or forgiveness. It does have relevance for Christians who would think that they are somehow better than other people by virtue of what they assume God considers to be damnable. That view is born of pride, which is unequivocally a worse sin than anything that a same-sex couple could do.

So, I don’t worry about that either. My God is a just one, and those who ask for and want salvation will have it. Ultimately, that’s all Christianity is about.

Tagged: religionchristianitybiblehomosexuality

19th April 2014

Question with 3 notes

Anonymous asked: i'm sorta confused about the bible's view on premarital sex. i can't seem to find a verse that explicitly states that its wrong, so is there another passage that implies it?

"Sexual immorality" is how the bible defines premarital sex. Corinthians 7:2 is pretty clear on this: "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”- referring specifically to the temptation towards sex before marriage(as compared to adultery). There are a number of other verses that make it clear that the only proper place for sex is within a monogamous marriage.

 

Tagged: religionchristianitybible

9th March 2014

Post with 3 notes


radicalhufflepuff said: Arguably, the Gnostic Christians believed in multiple gods; would you say they aren’t Christian? What about Mormons, who believe in the potential for all humans to become gods?

The Gnostics were not Christians- whatever they chose to call themselves, their teachings were considered heretical or at least non-canonical to the faith by the church, along with their gospels. The Mormon example is not really paganism, and is a fairly controversial belief among other Christians.

However, the better question might be, why is there a need to combine Christianity and paganism, and to what degree? If one worships multiple gods but still wants to follow certain Christian teachings, they are free to do so. The reason why I say that you can’t be both a pagan and a Christian is not because I’m some sort of gatekeeper of anyone else’s faith: It’s because of how Christianity and paganism are broadly defined. They are mutually exclusive. You can either follow Christ/the Trinity as the one true God, or you can worship multiple deities. If you believe that Christ is one of many gods that you worship equally, then you’re not Christian.

This doesn’t mean that they are a bad person or going to hell or anything else. It is simply a matter of definitions. 

Tagged: christianityreligionpaganismtheology

9th March 2014

Question with 1 note

Anonymous asked: Do you think that the possibility of extraterrestrial life is compatible with Christianity? Also what do you think would be the implications on Christianity if humanity were to come in contact with alien life.

Sure, I think it’s possible. The bible doesn’t preclude the possibility of other forms of life(whether we end up interpreting them as angels or demons or something else…), and the fact that it doesn’t specifically name “beings from another planet” only indicates that:

1. The Hebrews didn’t need such information and/or would not have understood it even if they were told

2. It is not relevant to Christianity

OR

3. There are no aliens

As far as how the discovery of alien life would impact Christianity, well, there’s thousands of different denominations with different ways of incorporating new information. I like this question, but it seems that most often when it’s discussed, the assumption is that the alien life will be atheistic- what if they’re not? What if they’re Christian, or something close to it? What if they believe in something entirely different but not wholly incompatible with “earth religions?” It’s hard to think that they’d have no beliefs at all(even if only in random chance/evolution) if they’re intelligent beings… and would the nature of the aliens themselves affect how religious people interpret them? Suppose they look like our conception of angels/demons?

There’s just too many unknowns to answer how aliens would affect religion, if they exist at all. Bottom line, I don’t know, and I’ll wait and find out with everyone else… but it’d make for interesting science fiction in the meantime.

Tagged: religionchristianityaliens

7th March 2014

Question with 1 note

Anonymous asked: Can you mix paganism and Christianity?

There are some pagan/Wiccan beliefs that are not incompatible with Christianity(the rule of three, for example). You can’t believe in multiple gods and be a Christian, no. So, it would depend on the particular form of paganism, and what belief.

Tagged: religionwiccapaganismchristianity

25th February 2014

Question with 8 notes

Anonymous asked: this might be a disturbing question, but i struggle with self harm and i've read that self-harm is a really awful sin. i tried to look in the bible but all i really found were self-harm in the terms of idol worship or demon possession. i dont fit into either of those categories. i know that it's bad to self-harm and im trying to stop, but are there any scriptures talking about this? (and also will my struggle possibly land me in hell?)

I don’t find it disturbing. But sin is not the issue with self-harm: living with it without seeking treatment causes harm to yourself. Causing yourself harm should be avoided, regardless of your religious views. Why fear hell when you’re putting yourself through torment in -this- life? 

There are some scriptures which mention the act, but the sort of self-harm/cutting described is mostly related to pagan rituals and idol worship, as you’ve noticed. Those ritualistic beliefs were considered sinful, but for the vast majority of people who engage in self-harm today, that’s not the reason they’re doing it. The scriptures you may want to search for instead are those related to depression or anxiety:

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Being depressed, anxious, or suicidal- none of these feelings are sinful or wrong. They simply are, and they can be accepted and dealt with, but there is no need to do that alone. Most people can’t, and no one has to. But the advice I can offer you is limited, so if you need other resources, these are some hotlines/support sites that may be of assistance:

http://self-injury.net/resources/hotlines#self-injury

http://www.cuttingdepression.net/self-harm-hotline/

http://insteadofcutting.tumblr.com/hotlines

Please remember that God loves you, and loves the body you were given as much as you should. It is the only one we have throughout this life, and acting on self-harm won’t cure the underlying emotion. You seem like a good person, and I’m sure that you wouldn’t cause harm to anyone else, even if they asked you to. You would seek help for them- So love yourself just as much. 

Tagged: religionself-harmdepressionanxiety