Christianity: It’s Just About Being Nice to People?

Someone wrote to us from a “non-English speaking country,” to say that his friend asked him why he, as an atheist, objects to Christianity—since it’s only teaching people to be good to one another? The writer said he wasn’t very familiar with Christianity and asked me why it should be such a big problem for people to teach their children to be kind? What did I think about that? Here is what I replied:

 

Thank you for writing.

I encourage you to do a Google search for “Why do we need salvation?”

What Christianity teaches is not just to be a good person.

It teaches that all people are wicked. Many of the churches teach that even children are born wicked. Because of this, people need to be “saved.” If you ask “saved from what?” you will hear about some sort of punishment or torment, usually. Some sort of hell, or some sort of eternal separation from god—that is darkness and despair. According to Christians, this is what all humans deserve—sometimes even children deserve hell for being born sinful. Churches believe that human beings all deserve to die—not just that we will die, but we deserve to die. And some churches think every human deserves to be tortured for eternity—just because we are human, and that is how horrible every human being is.

I think that is a horrible lesson for children. I think people are good. Sometimes we can do bad things. But we are basically good people—most of us. We do not deserve to die. We do not deserve to be tortured or tormented forever. That is awful.

So, to show his “love,” god decided that he would send part of himself to Earth to become a human being. He was born, grew up, and preached to people for a few years. Sometimes he said nice things—like treat people nicely. And sometimes he was pretty bad—chasing people with whips and comparing one woman to a dog, because she was a different ethnicity. Sometimes he taught good things—like help people in need. And sometimes he taught irresponsible things—like do not prepare for your future, because god will take care of everything for you.

Then, after a few years, it was time to “save” everyone. And here was god’s plan: Since Jesus had not done anything bad, he was considered to be clean. In the Old Testament, the sacrificed animals had to be pure and not sick or lame. They were sacrificed to god as payment for all the wrong-doings the person had done. But god was tired of all these animals, and so he thought a really good sacrifice would be to have a perfect human being slaughtered for him. So he wanted a human sacrifice this time—not just more animals. And so he had Jesus beaten and tortured and crucified to death as a human sacrifice. Jesus had not done anything wrong—but other people had. And so god thought it was a good application of justice to kill an innocent person to pay for other people’s crimes.

So, Jesus was sacrificed to god, and god was happy with that.

Then after three days, Jesus came back from the dead to show everyone that he was more powerful than death. And when people saw it—they were happy because they believed him when he told them that they could be more powerful than death, too. All they had to do was devote their lives to Jesus and follow his rules and believe he would bring them back to life after they died. They had to follow him and be grateful that he was a human sacrifice. And they had to also admit they were worthless, evil creatures that needed to be washed cleaned in the execution blood of Jesus.

Every weekend after that, they all would meet together and drink wine and eat bread—that represented the blood and flesh of Jesus. And they would have a symbolic cannibalism snack to remind them about the bloody human sacrifice.

And this is the core teaching of Christianity.

 

The letter writer responded to say, “Thank you for taking your time and answered my question, it was pretty funny how you put it, about what Christianity is based on, hahahaha it made me laugh, and again, thank you and keep up with the show :)”

Apologists: only dudes can have good reasons to be an atheist

A few weeks ago, Hemant Mehta hosted a guest post on his blog: “The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist Shares Her Story.” The post was by Rachael Slick, daughter of radio host and CARM founder Matt Slick. Viewers of our show may remember that both Matt Dillahunty and I, in two weeks running, spoke directly to Matt Slick about his pet topic, the Transcendental Argument. (Episode 592; episode 593).

I found Rachael’s story very moving, myself. As a lifelong atheist with a supportive family, I have never had to actually fight very hard for my atheism except in circumstances of my choice. Stories of deconversion are interesting to me as they recount an experience I’ve never had, and it must have been doubly challenging to shed a faith that is hammered home by a strict religious upbringing. This is an excerpt from her post.

[Read more...]

So we thought, we have this new building and all, let’s use it!

And reviving a certain long-dormant podcast that we all missed seemed just the thing.

We were dead. But we got better.

We were dead. But we got better.

Yes, beginning August 7, The Non-Prophets returns with a biweekly schedule on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Jeff Dee returns to the host’s chair, with Denis Loubet and Russell Glasser in support, with occasional participation by Martin Wagner (dat’s me!). The first episode will be pre-recorded as the show finds its feet again, but after that it should be going out live. And it will be a pure podcast this time, no Google+ hangouts. So it’s very much back to the old days.

Open thread on episode #823

Have at it.

It never ceases to amaze me how often we keep having to go back to “Atheism is a religion too!” and “Why don’t you just call yourselves agnostic?” Cripes. Doing this show for a decade and a half, and every week still manages to feel like you’re teaching a remedial course in Disbelief 101 to unwilling students with no desire to learn.

Open thread on FtBCon panel: God is Love? Relationships in a Godless World

Beth Presswood will be on the upcoming live broadcast in 25 minutes, 4 PM Central. She is joined by  Anti-Intellect, Jamila Bey, James Croft, Ania Bula and Miri Mogilevsky.

Panel page is here:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cavadhvhrkg3vu01m1toris9j2c

Chat room continues to be here:

http://client00.chat.mibbit.com/?server=irc.synirc.net&channel=%23pharyngula

Open thread on FtBCon panel: Evangelical Atheism

In a few hours I’ll be joined by radio veteran Jamila Bey and “Quiverfull” survivor Vyckie Garrison, to discuss being an “out” atheist an winning arguments with various types of people. Hope you’ll tune in.

I’ll also post open threads on this blog later today about Beth Presswood’s panel, “God is Love?” and the video game panels today and tomorrow that will be attended by me and Lynnea, respectively. See you there!

Here’s a quick outline of my section of the talk (subject to being abridged if there’s a lot of back-and forth conversation):

  1. Introductions
  2. Why should atheists evangelize?
  3. Does it even work?
  4. On “Playing to win”
  5. Approaching people you know, or: On being a dick
  6. Identifying your audience
  7. Sources of information

Vyckie Garrison will take on the REALLY hard stuff: how to talk to fundamentalists.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oPtfKmyOZU&feature=c4-overview&list=UUkNBr7xIGu3v5JdxMX0sv4A

Don’t harsh my narrative with sexyfun!

This is amusing, though darn it, I wish I’d captured screenshots before the inevitable happened. (Some folks say they have done so.)

So this youth minister, who does the usual thing of framing moral issues strictly in terms of self-denial and guilt, writes a blog post in which he says, among other funny things, “I have never met anyone who is actually happy about having sex before they were married. All I’ve ever seen and heard is massive regret.

A number of folks, including myself, LOLed, and fearing Mr. Buer just wasn’t getting out of the house enough, left comments on his blog introducing ourselves as regret-free sex-positive people who saw no need for either a Bible nor a ring before making hay whilst the sun shines. And gosh darn, wouldn’t you know it? He just up and deleted all our comments and closed the whole article to further comments!

Well, now we know he’s lying when he says he’s never met people like us. But I guess if he wants to inculcate guilt among his readers, he has to keep pretending he hasn’t.

Funny how, in insisting that the Bible mandates “sex is for marriage and nowhere else,” Aaron’s forgotten some of its freakier Brazzers moments, like the time Lot’s daughters got him drunk and incestuously double-teamed him, all with God’s apparent approval. The Bible is absolute this and absolute that, except for the inconvenient parts you can pretend to ignore (rather like inconvenient comments)!