Monday, May 25, 2009

The Problem of Communication

The biggest problem I have with religions is that of communication. All religions that I know of are taught through some holy text that has been handed down over generations. We are born into societies that teach us these texts as fact and as the word of God. That is where my problem begins.

I'm not the first to think this. I was listening to an interview with Ryan Convington of Answers In Genesis Busted yesterday on The Infidel Guy podcast and heard him make a very similar argument like what I'm about to make.

Why is it that a God who created us has done such a poor job at getting his message out? Why is it that such an amazingly intelligent being could be such a poor communicator? If he made us then he knows how our brains work. He knows what makes us believe things. He knows what is required to make us accept something as truth. So why is it that we don't have one world religion that we all can accept as true?

Take Judaism as an example. There is a world full of humans but God decides to pick one group of people to be His people. But even among the Israelites there was doubt. So, God's solution was to tell one man, Moses, his story and give him some stone tablets with simple rules for living on them. But if God was so smart and all knowing then wouldn't he know what to tell Abraham or Moses so that when the word was passed along everyone who heard it was like "Ding! I get it!" But getting people to believe he was the one true God was a struggle. When large groups of people were encountered who worshipped another God was his solution to impart divine wisdom on them? Did he give the Jewish leaders wise words that would convince the others of the truth of Yahweh? No, he had them slaughtered. This God, who knows how we think and in some cases changes our minds (hardens hearts) cannot come up with a good, logical argument for getting people to believe in him. He must resort to violence and threats.

Next we have Christianity. Here is God's perfect chance to make people believe. He's come to Earth in human form and even with some cool parlor tricks he cannot convince everyone around him that God is real and people should believe him. All it took was some wise words that would open their minds to the perfect truth that is God. He did have some good sermons. The parables were powerful stories, but his ultimate solution was to sacrifice himself. Huh? How does that prove you are God? It does do one thing, it plays on our emotions. So perhaps God as Jesus was better at getting people to believe than God as Yahwey?

Some will argue that if you look at the world's population today we have billions who believe in Christ, so how was he a bad communicator? Well, for starters he could have written things down himself. Or had people dictate his stories as they were told. Why wait until a generation after his death to codify his words? We are now at the mercy of humanity's own poor communication skills. And it has taken 2000 years to get us to this point. It wasn't until humans invented better means of getting around the planet and studying other people's languages that so many people started believing in Christ. It was humans passing the word, not God. The problem created by that solution is seen in people like me. Once I learned how the book was written I started having doubts about its validity. I see the human flaws in the Bible. I don't see anything that may have come from God's mouth to my ears.

What would have been more believable to me? Why not have the Ten Commandments delivered to every society on Earth at the same time? At the time of Moses there were cultures all over the world, on every continent. Wouldn't it make us all believers if when we met cultures on other continents that they had the same set of rules as us, but written in their language? Why limit it to just one mountain in the mid-east? Or, as Ryan Covington said in his interview, what if Jesus has visited every continent? What if they all had the same savior story? It would be very hard to doubt something with great power a long time ago was able to spread a message around the world before the Internet.

I'm sure I haven't presented my argument as strongly as I should, so your comments and critiques are certainly welcome. But this is my biggest problem with all religions. If God is so great then why is he so bad at getting his message out?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Podcast Highlight: The Unbelievers

Meet The Unbelievers.

Their names are Hamish and Andy and they live in New Zealand.

I stumbled on their podcast last month while browsing the podcasts in the iTunes store and have finally almost caught up with all their episodes.

Each episode is generally spent talking about current events. What makes it a little different from the rest, at least from my point of view, is hearing the opinions of people who live in a largely irreligious country. They find lots of humor in how silly American politics are and our religious controversies.

They're funny to listen to. I cracked up when they described God as a "celestial security camera." Not sure if they came up with that themselves but I hadn't heard that before.

Every time I listen, though, I can't help but be reminded of the youtube video of Charlie the Unicorn:

Shun the Unbeliever! Shunnnn!!!

Anyway, if you haven't already subscribed I suggest you give The Unbelievers a listen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I was sent 2...count 'em 2!! links to Cheesus videos today:

and God trying to tell us to stock up on Cheetos before the Apocalypse?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Modern World: Abuse of child witches

What is it about the logic of witch accusers? Back in the good ol' days of witch hunts here in the US and in Europe, if they floated in water then they were a witch, if they drowned then they were innocent. Either way, the accused were killed. No logic in it at all.

And here we are, hundreds of years later and this is a sample of more logical wonders:
Christian Eshiett was a rambunctious pre-teen who spent a lot of time cavorting with his friends in southern Nigeria. He would skip school and run away from home for days, frustrating his grandfather, who oversaw the boy's care.
"I beat him severely with canes until they broke, yet he never shed a tear," said Eshiett Nelson Eshiett, 76. "One day, I took a broom to hit him and he started crying. Then I knew he was possessed by demons. ... Nigerian witches are terrified of brooms."

So, fear of a broom means he's a witch.

At least the government of Nigeria is starting to take notice:

Government officials also have joined the fight.

Akwa Ibom recently added a clause into the Child Rights Act, saying that anyone found guilty of branding a child a witch would get up to 12 years in prison.

"This is groundbreaking, and Stepping Stones Nigeria applauds the Akwa Ibom state government for this," Foxcroft said.

Unfortunately, the Christian churches aren't helping:

"The role of the international Christian community in this cannot be underestimated," Foxcroft said. "Unfortunately, the fact remains that this belief system is being spread by so-called Christians."

I really don't think the solution to an irrational belief in magical powers is to replace it with a different irrational belief in magical powers.

Perhaps we should let them watch satire about our own irrational beliefs:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank You, Mr. President

I would like to thank President Obama for not being Minister In-Chief and merely signing a proclamation that today is a national day of prayer.

Obama tones down National Day of Prayer observance

Of course, there are people who think even this is going too far. Whatever... Baby steps, people! Baby steps.

I think we can all learn from Bob:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Is this a disturbing trend???

...or am I suffering from confirmation bias?

From CNN: Florida man kills wife, 2 kids, himself, officials say

It seems like we are seeing a lot more murder suicides lately. Or are they just being reported more often?

Just Google MURDER/SUICIDE and it's sickening. I'm not sure, but I think this kind of crime disturbs me more than any. I'm sure someone can think of one that is worse, but what about one that happens this often?

What motivates someone to kill? I had a time in my life when I considered suicide, fortunately, I came to my sense. But how does one progress to killing their own children or their spouse? I have difficulty understanding most physical violence toward your loved ones.

When does your brain's ability to logically assess your situation break down into this kind of madness? What is happening in the brains of these people?

Two of the couple's children -- 5-month-old Zack and 7-year-old Ryan -- also were killed, but a 13-year-old got away, with the father chasing and firing after him, officials said.
It makes me ill to think about something like this. The child who survived must feel like his life is over.

Are there statistics kept on this type of crime? Is this the result of the poor economy? I just don't get it...

Friday, May 1, 2009

LOTR Fans Check This Out!

The Hunt For Gollum

Premiers online May 3rd 16:00GMT (hmm...that's 11AM EST???)

Looks very cool.