atheism, books, religion

A New Mission: Reading Christory

Christian history is fascinating

I finished my goal of re-reading the Bible since the last time I used this blog regularly. In the interim, I have found a new focus: reading about biblical history and the cultural impacts of Christianity.

a bookshelf with Bibles and other Christianity-related texts
A snapshot of part of the religion section of one of my bookshelves. Most of these are ones I have yet to read. I’m having some difficulty getting all my religion books, read and unread, properly organized. There may need to be more bookshelves.

I’ve read dozens of books dealing with Christianity’s roots and influences on Western or American culture since I was last “here.” This reading has really changed the way I think about Christianity, Christians, and atheism, among many other things.

As a subject of study, Christianity is all the more fascinating for learning about its history. There are few more wide-reaching, long-running stories of political intrigue and cultural control than is Christianity’s past. And it is so interwoven with American history and culture that I LOVE reading and talking about it with anyone who will listen.

But make no mistake—reading biblical history and cultural examinations of Christianity has not made it any more believable. Quite the opposite.

Not only does studying Christianity’s roots make its claims all the more absurd, it makes it hard to believe that anyone else believes them either. But then reality up and smacks me in the face with the fact that, oh yeah, people actually DO believe this stuff is literal fact.

Right…

[insert awkward chuckle here]

The fremdschämen is so very strong sometimes.

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Backstage

O Hai!

I have re-discovered my old blog. Yay for that.

As more and more people are leaving Facebook, and I have long had a desire for long-form writing that is poorly served by Facebook, I’ll likely make use of this space more. Maybe. We’ll see…

atheism, morality, religion

Mission Debriefing: Genesis

Ah, Genesis… where it all began. Literally. So much good (or not) stuff here. If nothing else, it is fertile ground for vivid, interesting mental images. Some of those mental images are of massive amounts of death, but yay for creation stories! Creation stories are always interesting, regardless how nonsensical they might be.

The Good

Creation: This is a big one in terms of praiseworthy things. Creating all existence is awesome! Good on ya God! There’s some wrinkles to be ironed out in terms of how and why, but creating everything is definitely a great accomplishment and everything in history depended on it. We can quibble about impressive-good being different than moral-good, but for simplicity sake, I’m counting it.

Other things I marked as “good” was promising never to kill everyone (with a flood) again (9:13-16), and two different instances of blessing Abraham (12:2-3; 17:1-8). The blessings of Abraham were entirely arbitrary on God’s part as far as I can tell, but I think they still count. I’m still not sure if promising not to murder the population in a certain way counts as properly good—one would expect not murdering everything would be the default setting for anyone, let alone a supposedly loving, all-powerful entity—but the pickings were kinda slim.

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atheism, religion

Mission Debriefing: Prelude

I have been horribly slacking in my blogging activities of late. There’s work and getting sick and krav and all so many things to take up my time. Plus a lot of my at-home writing time has been taken up with writing about Wookiees. Because… well, Wookiees are awesome. But, if nothing else, the Christmas season—along with the almost obligatory hordes of internet whiners complaining about the “War on Christmas”—has reminded me that I’ve been shirking my “religious” mission.

As mentioned in my first “mission” post, I am slowly working on re-reading the bible. I am not simply reading it, however. I am taking many notes as I go. Mostly I’m focusing on what god does, and if it is good or bad. Also the devil, but hasn’t shown up yet. I’m keeping a running score.

I’ve been reading very slowly since anything that isn’t an article these days has a hard time keeping my attention. That said, I’m somewhere in Leviticus and have been reading a book of apocrypha in tandem. While I admit the apocryphal books are far more interesting and far less full of genocide than the books of the bible, they are not my focus. Gotta get back to that good old “good book.”

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antitheism, atheism, LGBT, reason, religion

Left Behind and the Fire that Keeps Burning

Torreano David Stanley is a 20-year-old from the Bronx who identifies as gender fluid—female most days. Photo by Michael Rubenstein for NBC News. Photo and article found at http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/left-behind-lgbt-homeless-youth-struggle-survive-streets-n157506
Torreano David Stanley is a 20-year-old from the Bronx who identifies as gender fluid—female most days. Photo by Michael Rubenstein for NBC News. Photo and article found in the link provided in the text.

This morning I read the article Left Behind: LGBT Homeless Youth Struggle to Survive on the Street and it inspired a surprisingly intense emotion for me. Yes, there was depression over the situation and sympathy/empathy for those individuals whose stories were told. That’s not too surprising.

But what did surprise me was an intense anger. A very sudden, very extreme flame up of anger. And specifically anger at religion. No, not just religion; anger at American christianity.

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culture, women

An OB/GYN writes to George Will about college rape

This is a very visceral description of one woman’s experience of rape that is hard to read, but an excellent response to the recent op-ed piece on the “privilege” of being a rape victim.

Dr. Jen Gunter

Dear Mr. Will,

I read your recent column on the “supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. sexual assault” and am somewhat taken aback by your claim that forcing colleges to take a tougher stand on sexual assault somehow translates into a modern version of The Crucible that replaces witchcraft with rape hysteria.

I was specifically moved to write to you because the rape scenario that you describe somewhat incredulously is not unfamiliar to me. Not because I’ve heard it in many different iterations (I have sadly done many rape kits), but because it was not unlike me own rape. The lead up was slightly different, but I too was raped by someone I knew and did not emerge with any obvious physical evidence that a crime had been committed. I tried to push him away, I said “No!” and “Get off” multiple times,” but he was much stronger and suddenly…

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religion

The Adam-and-Eve war continues at Bryan College

This post from over at Why Evolution is True brought up some points I have long wondered about with christianity; If people claim to believe that Adam and Eve and the garden are all just metaphorical, how does the rest of the boat that is the religion stay afloat?

Why Evolution Is True

To those who claim that there’s no incompatibility between science and religion, read this:

Bryan College is a small, conservative Christian school in Dayton, Tennessee, deliberately placed in the town that hosted the 1925 Scopes Trial, and where the school’s namesake, William Jennings Bryan (who was one of those testifying against Scopes for teaching human evolution), died shortly after the trial.

As I’ve posted before (here and here), the College is in a ferment over a topic close to my heart: the historicity of Adam and Eve.  It turns out that the college’s recent insistence that faculty and staff swear to an oath affirming that historicity is tearing the college apart. Even conservative Christians, it seems, have trouble believing that Adam and Eve were the literal ancestors of humanity.  That historicity has become increasingly problematic since the appearance of new papers in population genetics, showing that over the last few…

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