Jesus Camp and Me

This year I will be turning twenty years old. A decade ago, half my life ago, I attended a camp called Camp Geneva in Holland, Michigan. This was not an evangelical camp, it was defined only as a ‘Christian Camp’, and indicated no denomination. I was lucky not to be brought up in a more disturbing form of Christianity, as my parents are Lutheran and Catholic (as they would describe it, the only difference is whether communion is symbolic or literal). Other than that, Catholicism is more ritualized and formal, Lutherans eat a larger variety of food after church, and so forth, both pretty chill.

The children in that film, “Jesus Camp”, are within just a few years of my age. They are brought up in a Christianity I would never describe as chill or calm. One of the focus children, Levi, is the same age as me. Some of these children are growing up taught to ignore the world around them for the sake of making it to an unobserved world besides this. Like misguided intergalactic salesmen they grow up trying to sign people’s lives into the cost of a ticket to a world no one has ever seen. These children experience a camp at which they cry every night and are told how flawed they are, for what they may not even know. These children are manipulated to ‘speak in tongues’, pound the ground, and move violently to impulses. They are told what to think about things entirely outside of their church and encouraged to have their lives overpowered by the one force of this mass of humans and pressures.

However, this camp experience, though mostly a recreational time, had some aspects which stick out chillingly from the background of archery attempts, capture the flag, and camp store ice cream. No worries, no one there spoke in tongues as they did in the film, nor did anyone fall on their knees and cry from what I can remember. But there were skits and talks on stage every evening and one of them I remember still as it caused me more trauma than just about any other experience I had in the churches and church functions I attended in childhood.  For this reason it’s a story I tell often when the subjects of indoctrination and fear arise.

One night we sat in our seats in the darkened auditorium/chapel late after dinner. On the stage were three yardsticks laid end to end. The speaker started to describe to us the scene. The yardsticks showed a lifetime and on the left a man in a red body suit and velvet horns took the stage. To the right, one in sandals and a white robe. As different councilors of ours entered, they walked downstage on the line of the yardsticks with the two men heckling them for attention. The speaker described the personal struggles of each character.

When a walker took the hand of the red velvet man, he lead them a few gentle steps from the yardstick while the robed fellow made anguished faces and grasped across the line for them until they were thrown violently to the ground where they lay. On the Jesus side of the sticks, the person would be lead to the back and side and helped into a kneeling prayer position. The devil would throw up his hands in frustration. All of this well and good, I contemplated how much more comfortable the people playing sinners must have been, not having to kneel.

The last walker turned back and forth between the two sides, inching slowly along the line. He reached the end of the line and stood, looking out for a moment. He turned left and right and decided to face to the Jesus side. ‘Oh good,’ we all thought, ‘no one else thrown to the ground.’ But the speaker informed us this was not so. The walker had run out of time, he said, and, though the walker faced the robed man, the scarlet clad actor grabbed him from behind and flung him brutally down onto the stage. The speaker told us how he’d waited too long to decide, and was cast down.

I have a few big problems with this. One, I simply don’t believe ‘educating’ children based on fear is proper. Children should be nurtured, not emotionally tortured and told they are individually worthless and only achieve worth through adopting given dogmas. Children should not be told their lives mean so little and there is something bigger than life. Children should be nurtured and taught what can be known with evidence, not what is assumed due to tradition. Two, the time-line was scrunched up and jumbled by the statements of the speaker that you could die that very night and, if you did, where would you be? These children have been told of their inherent undeservedness of a good end for ten to twelve years. These children have been told that you’re sinning even if you don’t know it. My prayers as a child only taught me to apologize and resign to waiting for things instead of trying for what I wanted. I apologized every night to some horrible figure who wanted me to be sorrowful for what I didn’t know I had done, but must certainly have done, due to my inherent flaws. I do not think it’s a healthy relationship to lay in bed apologizing and then feel so unsafe one is compelled to pretend to fall asleep so that the figure is still paying attention to them. I did this near every night. I was terrified as a child of dying and so I’d pray I wouldn’t die during the night and, just in case, pretend to fall asleep without ‘hanging up’ with a sign of the cross. No Amens for me as a child, it was ‘please don’t let me die tonight’ ‘please don’t have me die tonight’ and ‘I’ll go to sleep while you’re still watching close, just in case.’

Imagine this, if you would, as a human romantic relationship. What would you tell me, the young woman who I am, if I told you that every night I came home to my angry boyfriend, not sure what was wrong but knowing it must have been something I had done? If I told you that I would quietly whisper apologies into his ear and then ask him not to hurt me for it, not to let anyone hurt me, and accepted him as the protection I had against ills and fell asleep in his arms, gently squeezing to remind myself he was protecting me. If he never told me what was wrong but there was always something, would you tell me I should be apologizing? Would you tell me it was healthy to fall asleep in his arms and feel that he, my fear, was my safety? It doesn’t sound healthy to me.

I still apologize for nearly anything, though I’m getting better at it. I learned from my Christian upbringing to feel truly and deeply miserable whenever anyone is upset around me, and to accept that I’m not doing anything to help and, even if I want to help, am probably making it worse. Just as miserable as if I have really done something bad. I am very quick to apologize when I have done something bad. I learned how faulted I necessarily was, being human, in this way. And that is a grossly inappropriate thing to do to a child. Children should be taught to be accountable for what they have and have not done. Children should be proud of their strengths and unashamed of their flaws. Children’s flaws should not be exaggerated.

Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores

Legal Adviser for this post: Christjahn. Who Googled all the things I wanted to double-check and laughed when I drafted in strict judgments before I took them back out.

________________________________

By this point, we’ve probably all heard about the ruling of 30 June 2014, that “closely held” companies have some freedom to deny  insurance coverage of health care to their employees due to the religious beliefs of the company’s owner(s) superimposed upon the company as a whole.

It would probably be helpful to define what a “closely held” company really is:
Closely HeldOwned by the founder(s) of the company (meaning they have over 50% of the stocks in the company. These stocks are limited in number so that you can only get the majority of them by someone else selling their share to you.)
(Cornell Law School Definition)
OR
The majority of the stocks are owned by less than five individuals (IRS definition)

So the definitions disagree somewhat, which is bothersome, but ultimately nothing employee owned or owned in a big spread out stock way gets to be “closely held,” so this couldn’t be applied by HyVee, for example. This privilege was granted under the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (1993), which only occurs when the behavior of the religious person is not strictly illegal (see Employment Division v. Smith). [This act eerily instituted after marital rape became illegal, despite large religious protest.... twilight zone music and affirmation that this is, indeed, a joke].

The interesting things in this case are, however, not the legal definitions and precedent acts leading to the decision. More intriguing are the religious values of the corporation in stock investments, the medical science viability required to pass a ruling on medical exemptions, what kinds of things could be exempt from coverage by other religious groups, and the granting of person-hood to corporations.

 

As to the religious values of Hobby Lobby when applied to profits from their investments, I recommend this article by Forbes’ contributor, Rick Ungar (click the underlined words for the article). He does not hold back with his opinions, something for which I admire his writing but I will warn that if you are easily offended and deny the purportedly hypocritical actions of Hobby Lobby owners, you likely won’t enjoy the read. In short, just after starting their case which ended at the end of this June, the company added substantial stocks to its portfolios in companies who produce IUDs, “Plan-B” contraception, and drugs for abortions. One can easily see how, as almost all other companies are required to cover these services in their insurance, this could be a very successful stock. But, wouldn’t someone morally opposed to paying for contraception also be morally opposed to profiting from its sale?

Hobby Lobby has avoided covering two types IUDs and any “Plan B” / “Morning After” pills which prevent implantation of a zygote into the uterine lining (all that bloody nutritious tissue that females shed on a lunar cycle) because they claim that this is a type of abortion. However, they are not morally opposed to preemptive birth controls which thicken cervical mucus to make the passage harder for spermatozoa and thin the uterine lining to prevent implantation of a zygote into the uterine lining (all that . . . wait. I’ve said this before. Oh, this is silly, it would seem that the things they are morally opposed to and the things they are not morally opposed to do the same thing. Well, that’s funny. So, the pre-sex-ed understanding of ‘where babies come from’ by corporate officials is more important in law than medical understanding. Okay, now it all makes sense. Silly me, do disregard all of that, I was obviously too confident in Supreme Court official’s value of science over opinions.

What else could be exempt by this ruling, besides birth control? Well, not blood transfusions. Jehovah’s Witnesses are morally opposed to blood transfusions but they’ve decided that these exemptions are not to effect people’s health in extreme things like cases of blood needed, but in tiny little non-life-effecting things like pregnancy, it’s okay. So the supreme court gets to decide which religiously determined medical morals are valid and which are silly. Perfect, so that’s all taken care of.

I will now admit that I am a scientist, not a lawyer or professional philosopher, so I will not delve into the latest of the stated points deeply. However, one has probably gathered that I would prefer to grant person-hood to entities with united conscious abilities (though I’m sure individuals with DID would make this definition problematic and more philosophical decisions on what it is to be a person would have to be discussed and then invoked) and not gatherings of individuals. The question is raised, can a person be composed of a multitude of persons? If so, which is more of a person, the collective or the individual?

Why Are Atheists So Angry – Book Review

I have recently read a book by a prominent atheist blogger and now must blog it, for circular happenstances’ sake, if naught else. The book is Why are You Atheists So Angry?: 99 things that piss off the godless, by Greta Christina. I’m sorry that I can’t underline that, I only have italicizing and bold capacities. The book is a look at the problems that religion bring up in a society. For to start, there is a list of ninety-nine terrible things to infuriate the reader, from the subjugation of women in religions to deaths by preventable diseases in faith healing cases and all sorts of similar things.

Christina continues to discuss why she believes various forms of religious and spiritual belief are included in the problematic grouping, beyond the strictest and most oppressive groups around. She speaks about moderate religion, progressive religion, the groups who try to accept all religions as part of one big set of ideas on the god(s) they believe in, and various spiritualists, including all of them in the problem group primarily for the reason that unjustified faiths and beliefs make a person more and more willing to accept what people tell them without question.

This volume is a quick read and, though certainly one that will make you angry, it presents concisely a lot of the objections and criticisms to/of religion one hears from the secular side. For religious readers, it presents a good set of thoughts on why people from ‘moderate’ or unorganized groups ought to consider their thoughts on exemption from the harmful group which they may perceive they deserve. For atheists, it wraps up with a large set of resources as well as providing tips on talking to religious folks and what to or not to expect from these discussions.

Greta Christina visited Iowa State this past semester, and, though she has a talk by the same title as this book, she discussed What the Atheist Movement can learn from the LGBT movement. I would recommend attending a talk if one occurs near you, and the book is worth the read.

Animal Altruism

Altruism. Is it something special? Is it something unnatural, or supernatural? Or is it common and explainable by scientific thought? As one would probably surmise from the title of this blog and that of the group I represent here, I would support the latter claim. Altruistic behavior is consistent with biological thought and quite common.

In thinking about altruism, we should define altruistic behaviors. An altruistic behavior is one that benefits a given individual or individuals at a cost to the acting individual.

Also important to understand is fitness in terms of indirect and direct fitness. These, respectively, are measured in relative’s offspring produced (at a factor of relatedness, which decreases with farther away family ties) and the acting individual’s offspring produced, which are always (in sexual organisms) related to the actor at 1/2.

altruism

 

Now, what sort of situation could arise in which an organism would sacrifice its direct fitness for indirect fitness? An easy example to understand is that of older women in human populations who have ceased to reproduce and help their children raise young instead. This could be vastly more beneficial to the acting individual in that they could gain more related individuals (of a halved relatedness, in the case of no inbreeding) by making their children able to maintain a larger family group. Perhaps they would be able to produce a singular offspring whereas their existing children could have 5 to 8 offspring. In addition in this case, reproduction by older females is dangerous and could result in damage to the female or in damaged offspring. Her daughters, however, could likely be more virile and able to bear the burdens of reproduction.

Consider another situation. A nesting bird can reproduce in its first year of fertility, without developed skills in raising young. Alternatively, it can help its parents raise a next brood of siblings, and better learn skills required to raise young of its own. It is worth noting that caring for a clutch in one’s first year of mating capability will indeed result in having an extra clutch advantage over those who wait. However, the cost to the individual spans throughout its lifetime, as the hardships of the first year clutch lower its later success rate and result in smaller clutch sizes throughout life.

prairie dog

Behaviors like this are common in animals, and one can see how increased production of individuals carrying a gene or set which would encourage these behaviors would propagate faster than one which does not, as it would spread through more and more indirect relatives and offspring. Consider signalling in prairie dogs, which put’s the warn-er at risk but lowers risk of a predator to the others. This has been observed to be more common when a prairie dog is around her daughters or mother than around strangers, which would support the indirect behavior benefit idea.

If altruism is something supernatural and unexplainable, why then is it so easy to understand and explain in real world terms? Is there any reason our ultimate survivor-ship is insufficient to explain behaviors many would describe as ‘good’ or even ‘moral’?

Speaking of morals, I do not believe that there is any moral belief that can not be explained by empathy. Yes, simply empathy. If you are turned off by the science I have presented so far, perhaps consider my simpler opinion. Why shouldn’t one kill another?

Besides the easy reasons like ‘I could get in trouble and be jailed’ or ‘I really don’t want to wash more bloodstains out of my work shirt’ there is also the idea that you wouldn’t kill because you wouldn’t want to be killed. Try thinking about the family of the murdered and what they would think and feel. Understanding the repercussions of one’s actions and feeling empathy towards others could dissuade a person from an act like homicide. It does not need to be a written rule for most people to not kill other people, so long as their empathy is intact.

Is God Dead? Propaganda with Popcorn!

The smell of overly buttered and under-salted popcorn, the excitement as some people go to see films on artificial intelligence and super heroes, the somewhat squeaky movie seats and awkwardly placed armrests . . . ah, ’tis the theater. Earlier tonight I attended a showing of “God is not Dead” with another member of the club. Besides being possibly the first movie ever written entirely based on an internet thread of a made up story, it also had cliché script and entirely unbelievable characters (as well as un-believing character… get it?)

The premise of the film is there is a crotchety atheist professor of philosophy who makes it his personal duty to see to the non-belief of all of his students in deities (though, really, he only ever attacked singular deities of Monotheistic religions. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess this is due to the Christian theme). Early in the film, a list containing the names of a few philosophers is brought up. From then on, the philosophy is reminiscent of that of Jaden Smith. In other words, no philosophy whatsoever.

god dead meme

In addition to the regular atheist hate which I expected, there was also a disturbing amount of bashing of Muslims. Spoiler Alert! When a Christian female character from a traditional Muslim family is found out, her father beats her severely while her little brother looks on and throws her out of the house. Fortunately, she experienced no bruising from the brutal slaps to the face, and was able to fall off her bed, traverse backwards through a straight bathroom while defending Jesus, and end up back in the same room on the far side of the bed.
Perhaps I’m being too sensitive in this aspect, but the girl also looked strikingly less ‘foreign,’ for lack of a better term, than her actively Muslim family. Considering the portrayal of the latter, this is reminiscent of the complaints I’ve heard about Aladdin, and the difference in appearance of the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’.

Carrying on with the serious note, this film is rife with poor definitions, a poor representation of the actual debates which occur between theists and atheists, and some terrible misrepresentations of science and the evidence known to us.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down the exact definitions from the script which the “Professor” uses in his class. However, for standard definitions see the about page extension, “Quick Facts”.

My specialty, though, is science, so these issues struck me most of all. The main Christian character, Josh Wheaton (sounds like Joss Whedon to me), describes a quote from Stephen Hawking’s book The Grand Design as circular logic. This entirely ignores that there is scientific support for the claim.

  • “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

The movie focuses on the first sentence. The problem arises when we realize that this is not circular logic due to there being supporting evidence. If there were an extensive discussion of laws of gravity, the shape of the universe, essential instabilities, and so forth before the quote, it would be a simple conclusion to the presented evidence. However, the film entirely ignores the existence of actual empirical evidence and thus avoids discussion of science as well as philosophy.

In response to the terrible attempt to debunk inorganic origins of life while appealing to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection (or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life), I have a few comments. The following is the only mention of the origin of life in Darwin’s Origin of Species. 

  • “Probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some primordial form, into which life was first breathed”

Why doesn’t he discuss this important question more? Well, because Origin is not about the Origin of Life, it is about speciation. It is about a mechanism of gradual change, natural selection. It is entirely true that natural selection does not occur until there is something to work on. It is also true that natural selection only gets to work on genotypes by way of phenotypes, something you will never see Darwin discuss as the New Synthesis came around after his work. One cannot say that natural selection doesn’t work because we as scientists are willing to admit we do not know every detail of the world, including the exact way organic matter started to organize in a construct we would call alive. This is like saying “trains can’t run” because “how did the tracks get there?” or “no one picks what movies to watch because you don’t know the director, actors, set and location, budget, and producers which brought about the films”. In short, natural selection has absolutely nothing to do with the origin of life, it only starts after we have competition. If you’re interested in the basic requirements for natural selection, here you go:

natural selection

1. More organisms are produced than can reproduce
2. Resources are limited
3. Heritable traits exist in populations, some of which are better for survival than others

Another common misconception, natural selection is not ‘survival of the fittest’ (a term Charles Darwin did NOT coin), it is more like ‘survival of the good enough.’ Those good enough to mate get to have their genetic lineage continue. One could think of this in that it is not enough just to survive to puberty, one must also find a mate. Or one could consider that the sketchy traits can sneak through. You can probably think of quite a few people in sexual relationships you would not consider reproducing with.

Another Spoiler Alert! Silly silly silly ending. The atheist professor has a death-bed conversion after a hit and run car crash whilst trying to find his ex-girlfriend. This is cheesy enough, but it was even worse when his tragic death was celebrated (super spoiler, it’s actually a concert movie). Everyone is happy, a reverend diagnosed the medical problems the dying man was suffering from, God started a car for the reverends and dried their hair between scenes, and all the while a man has just died. I do not know a single person who claims to be atheist because they are “angry with God”. This is an assumption theists make all the time, and one that apparently leads not just to misunderstanding and hatred but also to poor filmography.

Richard Dawkins, New Management, and AAS 2014!

Hello! If you’re a follower of this blog or here for the very first time, you may notice there’s been little activity for quite some time. Well, this blog is now under new management, so I’ll be keeping you up to date on all the fun Secular things happening in and around Ames, Iowa, where our club is located. Also being rebooted is our twitter page, so feel free to follow us there if you’re a tweeter.

Our most recent event has been the final discussion meeting of Spring 2014, where we held elections and discussed our plans going forward as a club, including mobilizing our online presence and getting back into business with events and activities.

Recently, though, we had the wonderful experience of attending  “A Conversation with Richard Dawkins” with Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers, an event hosted by SecularityUSA, an exciting up and coming movement in Iowa for a more Secular Government for the United States of America.

Dawkins

Your New Admin during Q&A with Dr. Richard Dawkins, April 12

As previously mentioned, our meeting tonight was the last for this semester, but we’ll be having Ask and Atheist on Friday in front of Park’s Library on Iowa State’s campus from 11am-2pm. This will be our last event for the semester, but look forward to a great Fall 2014, we’ve got many plans in store.

How to Protect Yourself from Evil- An Alpha Perspective

Today’s topic was “How Can I Resist Evil” at the Hope Lutheran Church’s Alpha class.  This was supposed to explain to us what it meant to recognize evil and how to best counter this evil when we come across it.  I’ll go into some of the explanations of evil (Satan) and what it is we are supposed to do with that evil.

Well first off she started the sermon with a logical “proof” that was apparently self-evidently true.  “If there is an absolute good, then there logically has to be an absolute evil” and that is why we must accept that there is an evil “force” out there that is out to get us.  The problem with this is obvious first off, this only applies if you believe in an infinite good in the first place and there is no maxim that says there must be an absolute evil as an entity. As darkness is absence of light, evil could be the absence of good in this example; and it certainly isn’t sentient.  However, she labeled this evil as Satan as laid out in the bible and went through pains to show that god was “perfect” and Satan was created from god; therefore Satan is less than god and is not as powerful.  She reiterated this time and again most likely in case someone asked the obvious question: “if god is all powerful why does he suffer Satan or evil?” Well that question still stands, but we’ll get to some of the most grievous contradictions later, but for now we are supposed to understand that Satan is powerful, but not ALL powerful.  It’s “Common sense” as she says that Satan has to exist in this fashion.  Problem here is of course, we all accept that “Evil” or “Bad” exists….but not everyone attributes a sentience to that evil. That’s……weird.

But god made Satan.

Anyways, Satan is leading demons and is fighting a spiritual war against the forces of heaven. We poor hapless humans are caught in the cross fire and have to do what we can to defeat the demons. I know you’re probably thinking this is all figurative, but it doesn’t seem so. There are actually demons out there, they are actually cast out of people, and they are actively here to harm you and me. This is interesting stuff if we’re supposed to rely on evidence and be critical thinkers concerning the bible.

Evidence I ask? Well she’s got it in spades! The bible is our evidence for Satan, so we can easily prove the bible correct by using the bible.  No problems there. The other piece is its tradition. All Christian teachings throughout the ages have had some sort of devil figure either in literature or art that showcased the battle against evil.  If Christian theologian’s and writers believed in Satan during the Middle Ages and before, then obviously it must be true. Another bit was that not everyone believed in demons back during 1st century Palestine.  She mentioned a ruling class that didn’t believe in the dogma of the religion, but ran the churches for profit. She reviled them as “Fakers” and since they didn’t’ believe in the devil (or god) then obviously Satan was winning over them. Evidence for this is in the bible which can readily be fact checked with the bible.  Really, this is the other piece of evidence, discounting that other more coherent and older religions have claims just as similar or different as you can imagine.  This one Christian doctrine is the True One.

Moving on to more relevant sources of evil, she mentioned that demons and Satan are constantly in action all around us! She used the example of the copying machines in the church.  Whenever an important outreach event is about to happen there always seems to be a problem with the copying machines.  There is no way it is a coincidence since it always happens whenever the church has need of them.  It’s not as if the additional use and constant attention have anything to do with jam-prone machines in the first place, no! It’s demons and/or Satan.  A Christian radio station wouldn’t show up in a woman’s car, as it kept fading out to icky talk radio. Again, Satan at work, trying to turn this woman away from god! Pornography shows up on a church members’ computer that he knows he never viewed (It was later found out to be a computer virus). SATAN put that virus there! You get the picture-anything that we don’t want to happen is Satan, anything we DO want to happen is god. Very, very flimsy stuff.

Now we move on to another part that I especially had to snicker at.  She warned against people turning away from god in a search for more power via the occult.  She mentions astrology, sorcery, witchcraft, wiccans; these are all forms of Satan that seek to take power away from god and into human (Satans!) hands via super natural methods.  She particularly pointed to astrology and Wicca as a very harmful thing and how it was a disgrace that so many young women in particular were turning to Wicca and that right here in Des Moines (!) there were these groups going on! She marked them all as evil and said those of us who may or may not have looked at the horoscope/astrology/Wicca/sorcery/etc. should pray for forgiveness. ?  I’d hate to know what she thinks of Harry Potter or World of Warcraft.

One example she gave was of a bright young woman who claims to be a “witch” and wanted to cast spells to help people.  She thought that it was so sad that this girl was so bright, yet was leading down a path of evil. I mean, we all know how fickle young girls are and they may be trying to do something “Good” and may do something bad with their spells! They should certainly stay away from this kind of thing, because sorcery in the hands of a young person is dangerous.  One question I wish I could have asked the pastor: How is that any different than prayer? If a young girl wielding sorcerous powers is so dangerous since she’s wont to use her powers for evil, how is that any different than praying to god for a boy to like her, or a Facebook post to be erased? It’s the same thing, just not the pastor’s flavor.  I don’t know what is more troubling the fact that this pastor thinks astrology and sorcery are a threat to her church as real things or that she can’t tell the difference between her prayer and another form of “prayer”.  Oh and she mocked the psychic hotline as people that are silly and are misled…kind of like calling in to BTN or Pat Robertson or any other Christian prayer group, don’t you think?

Ok winding down now, we go back to Genesis and the idea of original sin and how Satan is there to trick Adam and Eve.  Now I read some the wording here and god says basically “don’t eat this fruit, or you’ll die”. Then Satan the snake comes up and says “Hey Eve, you should totally eat that fruit because it’s good, etc.” So Eve does. And they don’t die. Did god LIE to them? Beh,semantics.

Anyway, the reason I bring this part up is to show how backwards this thinking is in the Christian religion. God made a tree that would doom Adam and Eve. God makes Satan, knowing he’s going to trick the humans, and has Satan go do his trickery thing. Then god punishes everyone, but it’s not a curse. He CURSES Satan by doing the snake thing, but here merely JUDGES the humans with all the original sin, etc.  So it’s a JUDGEMENT when god does something evil, but a CURSE when Satan does it. Oh sorry, you weren’t cursed with cerebral palsy, you were JUDGED! Get it right. One way to look at this scenario is that god created a situation in which he knew he was going to have to bring the pain down on Adam and Eve, and he conveniently made Satan his scapegoat.  Satan technically told the truth, eat the fruit and you will know right and wrong. They did, and it made them recognize that they were “naked” if you take the bible in its figurative language. Then they were punished for it. The reason this scapegoating type thing is important is because the pastor said that is what Satan does. He points fingers, he shoves the blame away, the same way a person does when they do something wrong. However, this is exactly what god has done if you are going to maintain an internally consistent story. He creates a no win scenario, blames it on Satan, beats HIM down, then smites some humans. Who is the real evil one here?

But we can all relax! All this is alright because Jesus died on the cross for all our sins. All the apples eaten, the demons in copier machines, the pornography on computers, and yes depression (she blamed clinical depression on Satan too) are all simply water under the bridge. Just arm yourself in the breastplate of righteousness, the helm of salvation; the shield of faith (No science and reason getting in here!), and the Sword of Spirit and you can never be defeated.

Or reasoned with as a rational human being, you take your pick.

Jason Benell