Questions I Need Answers to from Christians

How do you resolve the question of suffering? Why do so many people suffer for no apparent reason? Does anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus go to hell? If it’s “free will”, why are we made so poorly in the first place?

Do you think homosexuals are evil? Is the bible literal? Do you think that committing genocide is OK (the flood)? Do you think evolution is false? How do you reconcile contradictions in the Bible? How do you see revelation, do you think the world is going to end and Jesus is going to come back? Should women be silent and obey men? Is polygamy OK or not?

Why do you believe in a god? Why do you believe specifically in the Christian god? Why is Christianity different than the thousands of other faiths that are incredibly similar?

Do you believe that government should be secular or faith based? How do you feel about capital punishment? Was Peter right or was Paul when it comes to the question of following the old laws? Can you wear cloth of mixed fiber? Is slavery OK, because the bible says that it is?

How can a god who is so constantly described as being jealous and having other human foibles and flaws also be described as perfect? How can he commit genocide and destroy cities and people in wrath and also be all-loving and good?

Where did Cain’s wife come from? Was it incest all the way down the ages? Do you think the earth is 6000 years old, like Bishop Usher said?

Why did Jesus kill the fig tree? Why is Judas condemned for doing the one thing absolutely necessary to lead to Jesus’ resurrection?

Do you agree with the church’s policy of torturing and killing Jews? Do you agree with the church’s support of Hitler? Do you agree with the church’s murder of innocent women accused of witchcraft? Do you believe in witchcraft? How do you think the guy who owned the pigs felt when Jesus infected them with demons and drove them off the cliff?

Why do you think the texts included in the New Testament are true and the ones excluded are not? Have you read the lost gospels, have you read the early gospels, have you done any historical research on the origin of the books in the bible? Why would God send his son to a place with a bunch of illiterate desert people instead of to the Chinese?

Do you think it’s reasonable to kill dozens of children for making fun of a bald guy? Is killing all innocent firstborn in Egypt reasonable? Is rape acceptable? Why does Jesus say he will return in the lifetime of his followers?

How can anyone with one of these horrible, painful, easily broken and incredibly gross human bodies possibly believe in “intelligent” design? Everyone’s body sucks. They get sick, they fail, they get old, they get flabby, with hair in places you don’t want, and often no hair in places you do want, it’s easily poisoned, depressed, scarred, destroyed, and doesn’t last very long. Add to that the millions of common diseases that make people miserable — allergies, asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease — and the minor irritations we face almost daily — bad vision, imperfect hearing, imperfect memory, itches, aches, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, sore feet, smelliness, and moodiness — how can anyone believe in a good god?

Andrew Sullivan is a Dick

Today he posted about Hitch’s Cancer and said the following:

I’m devastated by the news. We need Christopher around for a long, long time. I do not know the details and understand his need for privacy. But he seems in good spirits if this classically British understatement is symptomatic of his mood:

“I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me.”

May the God he believes poisons everything be with him. And a simple word of encouragement: surviving a potentially fatal disease can be a form of liberation. I look forward to an even more liberated Hitch.

I’m glad that he cares, and I feel much the same way towards Sully as I do towards Hitch, they’re both interesting to read even when I totally disagree with them which isn’t infrequent.  But what a dickhead thing to say.  He doesn’t believe God does anything because he doesn’t believe in God, he thinks that religions poisons everything because it’s false.  It’s in the damn title of the book he wrote, it’s not difficult.

And then, using the opportunity of someone’s major, potentially fatal illness to insist on pushing your religious bullshit is… well it’s fucking rude bullshit.

Your Friendly Next Door Atheist, Please Don’t Evict Me

My apartment building has new project managers, who also happen to live next door to me. They are a very young, blonde couple with two very young blonde children. They are incredibly polite, though I do hear their baby crying all the time.

They are, of course, god-botherers, having moved in here while he goes to seminary. I feel both good and bad that my radar skills are so honed that I knew he was a seminarian long before he told me (and the rest of the apartment building) through a letter to everyone. I suppose it must be difficult being a priest because you can’t say what you do without saying what you believe, and therefore implying what you think about people who believe differently.

Perhaps it’s overly paranoid of me, but I worry that there’ll be some prejudice against me should he find out I am not into the Jeezy Creezy, and as he is in a position of authority it’s one of those :/ things. Plus his kids are cute, I’d hate for him to be like, “Stay away from the evil monster lady next door.” On the other hand, priest types are usually more interested in conversations with the non-believer than the average Christianist, I think they think it hones their skills.

Slightly related to this is something that came out about Elena Kagan recently — she supported a landlady’s right to refuse to rent to an unwed couple on religious grounds, despite the Fair Housing Act. This is one of those ideals versus real life problems — ideally people would be free to discriminate and the free market would prove that they don’t do well and no one would want to discriminate anyway, but in the real world, you have to balance rights — which is more important the right to housing or the right to discriminate? Maslow has some thoughts on this, but basically my right to resources offered to the public trumps your right to refuse me those services because you don’t like me.

Also today, the guy at the 7/11 near where I work let me get $10 in quarters. Maybe he’d have done this for anyone, but I’m going to say it’s because I’ve made a real effort to talk World Cup with the people in the 7/11, even though they can be somewhat difficult to understand, and I’m always very nice to them. I have a weird psychological need to get along well with all the people who do jobs I would hate to do.

I’m thinking about going to TAM for just one day, which would be 175 instead of 450. Have to figure out work situation first, but it could be cool. Penn&Teller have cancelled and I’d miss Adam Savage, but I would see Randi and Dawkins. And I’d get to, you know, be there.

McDonald’s Likes the Gays in France, hates them in the US

Then what’s that I smell? Floatin’ down from the North–could it be the aroma of hypocrisy? - 1776

Perhaps you’ve had the fortune to see this kind of weird commercial that McDonald’s is airing in France, or to see maybe the really homophobic reaction of Bill O’Reilly to it.  Bill O screamed and railed that it would never be aired in the US, because we don’t truck with that sort of thing.

This led to much mocking of Bill O as well as some sad acknowledgement that he was probably right.  Well, Mr. Don Thompson, COO of Mickey D’s decided that he was going to speak to the press about this very important issue.

I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don’t impose those on anybody else. I’ve been in countries where the majority of the people in the country don’t believe in a deity or they may be atheist. Or the majority of the country is Muslim. Or it may be the majority is much younger skewed. So when you look at all these differences, it’s not that I’m to be the judge or the jury relative to right or wrong. Having said that, at McDonald’s, there are core values we stand for and the world is getting much closer. So we have a lot of conversations. We’re going to make some mistakes at times. (We talk) about things that may have an implication in one part of the world and may be the cultural norm in another part of the world. And those are things that, yes, we’re going to learn from. But, you’re right, that commercial won’t show in the United States. (Emphasis mine)

So, I just want to make sure I understand all of this.  He’s a Christian who doesn’t impose his values on anyone, but McDonald’s made a mistake by showing a gay-friendly ad and they stand for core values that apparently don’t include showing that commercial in the US.  Those core values are, of course, that they will make an attempt to fake the values of wherever they’re trying to sell hamburgers.

I sent them an e-mail, I doubt I’ll get a response, but I’ll post it if they do.  I actually like McDonald’s OK for fast food, and they’ve got a decent score with the HRC, so this homophobia may be particular to Mr. Thompson.  Or, more likely, a simple corporate attempt at having it both ways.  “We like the gays, because, let’s be honest, everyone in France is gay anyway.  But there aren’t any gays in Iran… or the US.”