Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ten Sound Reasons for Christian Apostasy

Although Dr. Sam Harris’ "Letter to a Christian Nation" is only about 100 pages in length, I would argue it is even more persuasive than his much-acclaimed "The End Of Faith." Although Dr. Harris, once again, sinks deep into the morality morass, he nevertheless presents an irrefutable argument for apostasy from the primitive Christian mythology. I, myself, am an apostate, having left Catholicism several years ago. [I became an atheist after studying anthropology, biology, philosophy, Darwin’s theory of evolution and cosmology, among other academic endeavors.] This piece presents ten sound reasons to abandon the Christian faith. Dr. Harris’ book inspired this discussion, and the various bullet-points often will contain quotes from his text. After my concise rundown, I shall share five choice Bible passages, which should make apostasy even more natural.

1. Christianity—in all its obnoxious denominations—is illogical, irrational, unreasonable and, of greatest import, unscientific. From mammalian parthenogenesis to talking nonhuman animals, from repeated corpse resurrection to impossible human longevity, this particular brand of mythology is unscientific to its core. Various absurdities, found in both the Old and New Testaments, simply cannot be reconciled with science-based reality and natural principles.

2. The Bible, in the not-too-distant past, reasonably has been interpreted to permit—or even condone—“witch” burnings, slavery, torture, female subservience and all manner of detestable horror. True, some passages in the Good Book speak about love, charity, forgiveness and solidarity. However, other passages—equally numerous if not more—prescribe stoning people to death for fictitious offenses such as gathering sticks on the Sabbath. In short, the very same tome that pious people clutch in church on Sundays was in the bloodstained hands of murderous primitives inflicting the thumbscrew on innocents guilty only of non-conformity in a Christofascist, pre-scientific world.

3. James Ussher's Bible-based dating of Creation—that it took place nightfall before October 23, 4004 BCE—is egregiously, laughably fictitious. As Dr. Harris snickers, “This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.” A 6000-year-old Earth is so absurdly in conflict with the evidence as to make the proposition strictly comical and unworthy of scholarly attention. In contrast to the Bible’s small and young (and non-existent) universe, cosmologists have discovered that there are more than one hundred billion (10^11) galaxies in our universe, each featuring hundreds of billions of stars. The sun—the center of our solar system—is merely an ordinary star, in an ordinary galaxy. Our universe is roughly 13.7 billion years old. And, who knows if we might live in some sort of grand cosmic multiverse, of which our universe is merely an insignificant speck.

4. Atheism is the only consistent position with respect to faith-based religious mythology. Christians, for example, are non-believers with respect to every faith except Christianity. Christians are utterly atheistic about every deity (of the infinitely many which could be conceived) except Yahweh. How oddly inconsistent. Muslims, too, reject every world religion save for Islam, which, to them, has a monopoly on absolute Truth. How is it reasonable to reject 10,000 faith-based religions, yet cling to the absolute authority of one? The only reasonable method by which to choose one religion over another would be hard evidence—something all modern religions lack equally. Absent hard evidence, isn't faith in Yahweh equal to faith in Enlil (or any other fantastical imagining)?

5. Historic “heroes” of Christianity are worthy neither of respect nor reverence. Dr. Harris writes, “It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas). Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews and witches.” Here, once again, we return to severe punishments prescribed for fictitious offenses. The Christofascist societies of centuries past (ruled over by the same Bible one finds at Sunday Services) bear a frightening resemblance to the modern-day Islamofascist Middle East, into which we have butted our collective nose.

6. Yahweh is woefully unworthy of worship. As portrayed in the Old Testament, he is the very embodiment of human frailty: vicious, vengeful, jealous, egotistical, insecure and, most frighteningly, endlessly murderous. Yahweh also seems to have difficulty separating the important from the insignificant, as evidenced by the Ten Commandments. Dr. Harris writes, “And what are we to make of the fact that, in bringing his treatise to a close, the creator of our universe could think of no human concerns more pressing and durable than the coveting of servants and livestock?” Yahweh’s special list of ten alternates between self-aggrandizement, statements of the obvious, pronouncements of the silly and declarations of the trivial.

7. No God, the Christian character or otherwise, should be worshipped given the results with which we live. If Yahweh is real, then cancer, smallpox, AIDS, malaria and aphasia are all products of his cloud-enshrouded laboratory. “Acts of God” such as Hurricane Katrina and the devastating tsunami of a few years ago are exactly that—the life-extinguishing playthings of the creator of the cosmos. Then there are starvation, homelessness, birth defects, genetic disease….

8. Piety can directly result in mass death. Dr. Harris writes, “Christian missionaries have been known to preach the sinfulness of condom use in villages where no other information about condoms is available. This kind of piety is genocidal.” He continues, in a note, “If you can believe it, the Vatican is currently opposed to condom use even to prevent the spread of HIV from one married partner to another.” This is truly sickening, folks. In the fundamentalist mind, agonizing death is preferable to the imagined sin of sex aided by contraceptive.

9. Virulent Christian anti-Semitism helped create the environment in which the Holocaust took place. Dr. Harris writes, “…the anti-Semitism that built the Nazi death camps was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity. For centuries, Christian Europeans had viewed the Jews as the worst species of heretics and attributed every societal ill to their continued presence among the faithful. While the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominantly secular way, its roots were religious, and the explicitly religious demonization of the Jews of Europe continued throughout the period. The Vatican itself perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914. And both Catholic and Protestant churches have a shameful record of complicity with the Nazi genocide.”

10. Let us turn, for just a moment, to the admirable "Atheist Universe" by David Mills: “The Church angrily denounced the introduction of medicines, antibiotics, anesthesia, surgery, blood transfusions, birth control, transplants, in vitro fertilization and most forms of pain killers. Supposedly, these scientific tools interfered with nature and were therefore against God’s will.” The Church’s modern-day anti-science positions, obviously, should come as no shock. Diminishing human suffering never has been a high-level concern. After all, in a mind deranged by religion, there is another life to which to look forward. The earthly is merely ephemeral and, thus, suffering is a-ok.

A Supplement: Five “Classic” Bible Passages

And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Numbers 15:32-36

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

Deuteronomy 13:6-11

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Numbers 31:17-18

And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:

And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.

And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.

Exodus 11:4-6

And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

Exodus 32:27-28

Baptism is merely a meaningless incantation and a splash of water. One must not let oneself live a life of blind faith, when the evidence—and our species’ innate moral imperative—so obviously guide us away from the Bible.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this here (your) blog and find it intrigueing. I would not consider myself an atheist but perhaps an agnostic, perhaps. I spent most of my adult life as a Christian and I can tell you from the Christian's perspective why they believe the Bible and are fixed to that belief.
One reason is fear, fear of going to hell and eternal torment. This fear governs much of the Christian's activities, choices and motivations although the Christian is not aware really that underneath it all is based on such fear (and therefore motivated in selfishness). Another reason is the lack of faith in oneself to know good from evil or to be able to be good in this life without the promise of a reward in the next life(besides the fact they they are taught that the heart is deceitful and you can't trust your own heart). Another reason is the desire to see justice and since there is not much justice in this world, the Christian must believe that every person will get what they deserve (except themselves as most Christians can not see their own wrong doings and believe that they are exempt anyway--hey, isn't that what the good book says). The people's who wrote the Bible were fantastically clever and thought of every conceivable means to get followers. Anyway, just wanted to share an x- Christian's (who finally got brave enough to stand up to the threat of going to hell in order to find truth) point of view on your thought provoking subject.

3:47 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite question: Why are you a Christian? The follow up: Did you investigate other options before you decided? Ask this and be amused.

Well done.
Thanks much for the information.

9:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. People take more care when buying a new car than when choosing their religion. This should tell you a lot about religion and religious people.

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Rob Kinyon said...

I'd like to point out that Wicca (and other forms of Neopaganism) are both thoroughly inclusive of other faiths, but panentheism is another way of stating Quantum Mechanics. You might be interested in looking at it.

10:04 AM EDT  
Anonymous mark said...

We are controlled by our belief systems, for instance you will read only those authors that agree with you, which is fine, I do the same thing. However many of your stataments are based on sterotypes when speaking about those who believe in God.

The points you bring up are a little more complex and not as black and white as you would suppose. Oh well, it does not matter, no minds are ever changed.

A good blog by the way, you express yourself very well and I enjoy reading your post, even if I don't agree with much of it.

Also many of those who leave comments also suffer from a shollow black and white understanding of faith. Of course atheist get it back, probably worse than theist do.


9:50 AM EDT  
Anonymous Scott W. Spears said...

I wouldn't bother with building a case against God. If God is real along with the Bible, then all you are really doing is searing your own conscience for not seeking to understand nor looking to find the answers from God. It makes sense that if you are seeking God, God would help you find Him as well as the answers you seek.

Being how the theory of evolution has filtered throughout science, one can easily be misled by hypothesis built on top of another hypothesis as all findings are referred to the evolutionary time table without verifying the validity of that time table. They ignore all findings that contradicts the time table and refer to them as anomalous if found somewhere that does not coincide with "evolutionary" findings. Since grants and fundings are given towards the evolutionary theory, kind of hard to see how anyone can be impartial in their quest for the truth in science. Even the Mars Rock supposedly had proof of life in the headlines was later debunked as false in small print in the media.

Regardless of your studies, you cannot deny that there are scientists in micro-biology, genetics, and other fields that would attest to evidence that suggests a grand designer.. hence God.

As for the Bible, one can find evidence at the actual Red Sea Crossing where this great escape took place. Skeletal rib cages with coral formations on them as well as chariots wheels has been found. King Solomon had placed two pillars with dedications carved on it, one on each sides of this crossing to authenticate the site. More evidence can be found across the Red Sea... of a mountaintop blackened as if by fire and no other mountain surrounding it shared the same trait. There are more archeological evidence and yet... the world looks the other way.

Being raised up on catholicism, it would be hard for you to see christianity for Whom it is about. Apostasy means standing apart from the faith.

Dear Editor,

I hope by sharing my faith, God will help others see how the simplicity of the Gospel has become complicated with the added religious call of the day to resort to their own power or go after the rudiment of the world in how the world seek after other spirits.

I do not believe in a man's commitment to Christ in following Him. I believe in God's Covenant to us that Jesus, Our Good Shepherd, will help us to follow Him thus the just shall live by faith so that even a child can come to Him by trusting Him and His promises to us that He will help us live as His. The Gospel has always been about Jesus Christ. It is not about how serious a man is to God, but applying faith and trust in Jesus in how serious He is toward us in saving us and enabling us to live as His thus His glory as Saviour as well as the Good Shepherd.

I do not believe in chasing after the Holy Spirit or to get more of Him when the promise for all those that come to Jesus is that we shall never hunger nor thirst anymore for we have become a new creature in Christ and thus become new wineskin filled with new wine thus sealed as His. To take our eyes off of Jesus to signs and wonders is to ignore what the indwelling Holy Ghost is leading believers to do, and that is to testify and glorify Jesus Christ the Lord for it is His name which is above every other name.

Jesus is our resting place. For without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Thus the just shall live by faith. If anybody wanted to walk with God, they can do now with Jesus Christ without being a member of a church to do so.

As apostasy abounds, Jesus did warn of false prophets. Even prophecies about the mark of the beast to buy or sell are coming true as technology are setting up the system for it. So there is cause to seek answers to things that turns people off from seeking the Lord.

Why all the evils in the world? This is life outside the will of God... nothing good. If God is good, then stepping outside His Will, we wind up falling from all that is good, God. And because of lying men, we would want God to provide the Way back to Him, thus it is on God to fix us, and to bring us Home to live with God again through Jesus Christ the Lord.

And because God has provided the Way, Jesus foretold robbers and thieves that would come between us and Him. The falling away of the faith in the christian churches has occurred.

So bottomline, when you stand before God, you will not be able to point to other people for blame when you were too busy looking for reasons and excuses not to believe. God promised that all those that seek Him shall find. To learn of Jesus, is to learn of God. If you want to know God, seek Him. If you prefer the darkness because you do not want Him to deliver you from it, all you are doing is joining the crowd that you point to for not wanting to believe in Jesus for what He came to do.

All your big "intelligent" words in the world will not form a lie when you stand before God. Be honest with yourself. This is your soul. This is your eternity. Do you really want to waste your time ranting when you should be looking and asking Jesus to help you find the answers?

I'll say this now, nothing you have shared here as done anything to convince me that you have looked, because you were too busy fuming from the apostasy known as catholicism. Don't hide behind that thief for not seeking the truth. Use the King James Bible and ask Jesus for help in understanding His Word and help you find what you have been told about evolution that nothing has been proven yet at all! He will help you for He is the Good Shepherd. He is to me.

6:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Viator said...

So, let me get this straight.. the reasons to abandon the Christian faith are:
1- It's not science.
2- The Bible contains detestable material (that nobody follows anymore)
3- There's an estimate of when creation happened that is laughable - but created by a human.
4- Something about consistency...?
5- Some ancient Christians did bad things. (we'll ignore the good ones)
6- Yahweh/Old Testament was an angry representation of God (we'll ignore the New Testament)
7- God is not fit for worship since he doesn't stop everything bad from happening. (because after all, he controls us and everything, right? :)
8- Fundamentalism is dangerous (but doesn't exist in a non-religious context? LOL)
9- If there were no Christians, the Jews wouldn't suffer. (after all, Christians are anti-semitic...huh?)
10- "The Church" is anti-science (but, which church is that exactly?)

Wow, dude. That's some pretty hardcore stuff. Super tough to debate with. OH, and don't forget the scriptures you quoted from the Bible. Regarding those, how do you explain the inconsistency that the Bible also has scripture that expresses the opposite of your selections?

I guess what I'm really asking is: why does it matter so much to you? Just be a non-Christian and enjoy it, instead of coming up with 10 reasons why you can't bring a sound argument but will do it anyway because you hate Christianity. Oh, I forgot, you're devoid of hate because you're better than Christians, right? :)

5:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Kevin said...

Sad and specious "reasoning." Unfortunately, most so-called "Christians" make such delusional apostasy as is exhibited here look reasonable...and that evil Bible foretold that this would happen. Oh, I forgot, that's not scientific. Sorry...

3:14 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yawn. Why is a meatsack like you telling me that the Christian God is unworthy of worship? Obviously, you've never explored the "why" of everthing you bring up and what humans have done in the name of God. So, until that time comes, just remain smug and over confident that you've got it all worked out.

7:06 PM EST  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

A "meatsack" like me? Why the mindlessly harsh rhetoric directed personally? When one reads a comment beginning like that, one naturally believes that the person has little, or nothing, of genuine interest or thought to contribute.

I am, for myself, the sole moral arbiter, in terms of what I find right or wrong, moral or immoral, virtuous or wicked. As such, any god character is apt to be judged by me, in accordance with my standards. The Christian bible describes a god who transgresses the moral code that I have invented, to which I hold myself and others.

Of course, though, my principal criticism of the Christian faith is not a moral one but, rather, a scientific one, centered on the Christian revelation's palpably false truth-claims.

1:44 PM EST  
Blogger USMCPatriot said...

Scott W, Spears said:

"God promised that all those that seek Him shall find. To learn of Jesus, is to learn of God. If you want to know God, seek Him."

Actually it is the Bible which makes that promise, and it is simply attributed to god by the men who wrote it. But more to the point, many millions have honestly and desperately sought god and have not found him - therefore the only logical conclusions are either scripture is wrong or god does not exist. Millions more believed they had found god, only to later realize they have deceived themselves out of human frailty. Dan Barker is an excellent example of that.

This is the point where true believers will counter with apologetics such as "their hearts were not true when they sought god" or "Satan deceived them" and so on and so on, but those are nothing more than excuses to maintain one's delusion and keep on believing what is comforting.

10:41 AM EDT  

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