Friday, February 8, 2013

An Answer To Chris (Townsend2.Xanga.Com)

This post is in answer to questions and statements  asked/made by Chris (Townsend2.Xanga.Com) both on this blog and on his own.  His questions deserved thoughtful answers and I've tried to be as honest and forthright in replying to them as I could.

1.  You are arguing against something that you have no knowledge about.  Christians know something that you don't, but instead of investigating it, you've made up your mind(s) that it's false without evidence to the contrary.

Chris, unless you know me, how can you make a statement like this?  I was a born-again fundamentalist for years, a member of a Wesleyan street church dealing with dope addicts, prostitutes, cat burglars, and people released into our program from prison.  I was a house parent for men in the group and I taught our adult Sunday School program.  I have a huge library of Christian reference books and literature, all well worn from research.

2. God exists whether you want to believe it or not.

Well my friend, the idea makes sense but in execution it's a bit lacking.  If God did exist, He wouldn't need my belief in him in order to do so.  He would not be like Tinker Bell or Santa Claus in that respect.  However, the opposite is also true.  If God did not exist, it wouldn't matter if you or millions of other Christians believed in him or not.  Belief does not establish the fact of existence or nonexistence.  I could list here thousands of gods who had millions of believers in their existence, but they did not exist then and no one believes they exist now.  If we take history as our guide, it would not be wrong to posit that Christianity will eventually disappear and people will replace it with a belief in some other nonexistent deity.

3. Mormons are absolutely wrong.

You speak as if you know, Chris, but you know not.  There are well over 3,000 sects of the Christian religion; each claiming to be the sole owners of "the Truth."  Historically they have killed, maimed, and tortured each other in an effort to exterminate those believers, men, women and children, they felt were absolutely wrong.  This started during Paul's travels and continues right up to today.  Perhaps you would like to take up the sword of Christ and exterminate these Mormon heretics?  Or perhaps they might start their own inquisition.  Can you imagine yourself in a chair facing and angry inquisitor more than willing to torture your beliefs out of you?  Historically, that is not as farfetched as it seems.

4.  Why do you spend so much time trying to disprove the Bible?

I don't have to disprove the Bible.  It does an excellent job of disproving itself.  I have always believed that if the Bible was the Word of God than it MUST be 100% true.  If it isn't 100% true than the whole book isn't worth the paper it's printed on.  I simply point out things in the Bible I've found to be less than 100% true.

5.  Have you gained anything since you've started on this journey?

Freedom in my own humanity and in the humanity of others. 

6.  Since you became an atheist have you felt any better about life?

Yes, considerably.  I'm no longer living in a world where morality is set by what's printed in a comic book.  I find it much easier to look at my fellow humans and see them for who they are rather than judge them for their actions or beliefs.  That, my friend, is such a breath of fresh air.  I could care less if someone is a Christian or a Jew, black or white, gay or straight, male or female.  I believe everyone has a right to express their opinions on any subject, just as I do AND I try to help them to do just that.  Because of the sharing of opinions with so many different people, my life has broadened by leaps and bounds.  I would never go back to the narrow views I held about other people again.

7.  Why don't you disprove Allah or Zoroastrianism?

I don't live in a country where Islam is the predominate religion and I personally know no followers of Mohammad.  Nor have I ever run into a follower of the prophet Zoroaster.  We at Table 54 are not trying to get people to give up their religion.  I write about topics that the three of us discuss at lunch.  We're all over 65 years old.  There's been a lot of water that has traveled beneath our bridges.  J was brought up Jewish.  E has been an agnostic for a long time.  We read extensively, we listen to what those around us are talking about, and we converse with people on all kinds of topics.  In our retirement home we have a minister, a college professor who taught logic both overseas and here in Toledo.  We have church members and people who wouldn't be caught dead in a church.  We have people who are highly intelligent and people who's minds are beginning to slip away.  Between the people who live here, the newspaper, TV, music, and movies, we have a lot to talk about.  If the subject of Islam or Zoroastrianism ever comes up, I'm sure you'll read about it.

8.  Have you found it more interesting in the Christian religion?

Not sure what you mean by this, Chris.  I grew up in the Christian religion.  It's the only religion of which I have been a member.  I grew up Catholic.  Then I was a Jehovah's Witness for a while.  While in England I was introduced to Mormonism.  I was a Baptist, Lutheran, a Presbyterian, and finally a Wesleyan.  I have met and spoke with many priests, pastors, ministers, teachers, lay workers, and hundreds of people sitting in the pews of various churches.  My father was a Reformed Mennonite.  I went to Mennonite Bible School as a child for about three years.  The best church I ever attended was a small Mennonite chapel tucked in the backwoods between Perkasie and Quakertown Pennsylvania.  I went there  with my Grandmother.  The minister was a plump little guy and he had a congregation of about 20 - 30 people.  I've always had a lot of respect for him.  My Grandmother told me that during the depression, when so many people had no work, this man paid the mortgages of a number of people in his chapel who would have otherwise lost their homes, my Grandparents included.  That left an impression on me.

9.  How did birds develop the ability to fly through natural selection?

Well, neither J, E, or myself are naturalists or paleontologists, Chris, so anything I say here is simply stuff I heard along the way.  I've never doubted evolution, even when I was in the church.  I've read two or three books about the subject, much of which went way over my head.  Here's what I can tell you.  If you take the position that birds evolved from small dinosaurs, you begin to see the way natural selection works here.  A typical farmyard chicken has basically the same bone structure, right down to the claws, of a velociraptor.  Feathers, it seems came about as a better way to nest their young.  Archaeopteryx followed with feathers covering the entire body which still retained its teeth and claws.  Over the years shoulders grew bigger and stronger and more able to provide the upward thrust needed to lift their bodies off the ground. Their bones began to hollow and their weight lowered.  Some became smaller in size.  All this to allow them to get into the air without divine intervention.  Why did natural selection tend towards flying?  In birds it was probably for the same reasons that led insects to fly.  Being small, the air gave them safety from larger ground animals.  It was easier to locate the food they ate, much easier than for animals on the ground.  They could find a mate more easily, especially one from a different gene pool.  The advantages of flight are many and it is easy to see why natural selection moved birds ever onward toward lives in the sky.

10.  Why have people died for this (Christian) idea?

I'm supposing you are speaking of men and women who chose to die for their faith rather than convert or give up their beliefs.  I would imagine that they did so for the same reasons men of science and medicine died for their ideas at the hands of Christian inquisitors.   As far as religion is concerned I couldn't name one on the face of the planet that hasn't had a martyr for the cause.  This includes many sects of Christianity itself.  Christians killing Christians who won't change from one sect to another could be named in the millions.  The things we do in the name of God and Christ.

11.  Why am I so adamantly defending my position?

Like anyone else, I defend my positions adamantly when I'm questioned adamantly.  Usually I'm just writing about conversations that three old men are having at their lunch table.  In that respect I'm not defending anything - I'm reporting what we think and say  Sometimes I read blogs where information is stated as truth and I question it.  That is much the same as yourself I suspect. 

In conclusion, Chris, if people want to believe the earth is only 6,000 years old or they want to believe in talking snakes or donkeys, or if they want to believe some will experience bliss after death in a heaven or eternal pain and torture in a hell even if there is no way to ascertain who (men, women, children) is going where, I have no concern with that.  There are many unusual beliefs out there held by people just as sincere as yourself.  In the meantime I'll continue to report what we at Table 54 have to say about the world we live in.  Whether that concerns a cat that found its way home from 2000 miles away or college kids who want to pack heat in school or stuff that comes up about the Bible or Christians.

Thanks for your questions, Chris.  I hope I was able to help you to understand our positions.


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