Agnosis Skeptikos

The introspective wanderings of a one-time Christian turned agnostic

Senator Sues…. God?

Posted by agnosis on September 18, 2007

Ok, what the hell? I mean, really – what the hell?

Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers filed suit against God Friday, asking a court to order the Almighty and his followers to stop making terrorist threats.

The suit (.pdf), filed in a Nebraska district court, contends that God, along with his followers of all persuasions, “has made and continues to make terroristic threats of grave harm to innumerable persons.” Those threats are credible given God’s history, Chambers’ complaint says.

Chambers, in a fit of alliteration, also accuses God of causing “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects, and the like.”

Read more…

I hope this is a joke, truly, because otherwise this is just an exercise in insanity. First of all, suing God? And second of all, expecting him to actually listen? Apparently someone hasn’t been reading his Old Testament lately.

Update: Here it is – apparently he’s filing this suit in an attempt to make a point about frivolous lawsuits. Thanks, Ernie – point taken. As you were.

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Logic Proof for God’s Nonexistence

Posted by agnosis on September 17, 2007

I just found this logic proof for the non-existence of God (via Planet Humanism):

Premise 1: All actions are prompted by need, want, or desire.

Premise 2: A perfect immutable being has no needs, wants or desire.

Premise 3: God is a being as described by premise 2.

Premise 4: Creation would have been action of the creator.

Premise 5: The universe exists.

From P 1 & 2: God does not need, want, or desire anything.

Conclusion: the universe couldn’t have been created.

This is the response I posted:

Your conclusion as founded upon your stated premises is valid, however, I’m not convinced of the validity of Premise 2. I’ll buy that Premise 1 is likely true; I certainly can’t think of an instance that would disprove it. Premise 2 is difficult to ‘prove’, however, as no one has ever met a perfect being. I think I would agree that a perfect being would have no needs, being perfectly self-contained, at least presumably. But the question is, would a perfect being truly have no needs or desires? And if a perfect being, particularly one who would presumably be all-powerful (or at least powerful enough to create a universe) did have needs or desires, would having said needs or desires make this perfect being any less perfect, particularly given than said being would be powerful enough to fulfill those needs and desires for itself?

Interesting logic proof. I like it, even though I think it’s flawed.

Posted in Critical Thinking | 2 Comments »

The Problem with Debunking

Posted by agnosis on September 13, 2007

I find myself annoyed with all the atheists, agnostics, and anti-religious folks who devote endless hours and countless words in their efforts to debunk religion (with Christianity being a primary focus, at least this side of the pond). The reason I’m annoyed isn’t so much the fact that they are debunking religion, so much as the fact of how much time and effort is being placed into this activitiy.

Being agnostic, I’ve no place for religion on my life anymore, and I do get annoyed with so much of the irrational, circular reasoning that religious folk use to sustain their illusionary belief systems. On rare occasion, when I think the circumstances warrant it, I’ll address a particular issue on a discussion board or blog, but I’ll speak my piece, state my opinion, and move on. I’m under no delusion that I’ll actually influence anyone’s stance – on the contrary, I’m confident that such discussions only serve to actually further regiment people in their own beliefs.

It is, for this reason, why I get annoyed with fervent attempts to debunk religion. I see entire blogs and discussion boards devoted to debunking religious beliefs, to shred the teachings of these systems, and to point out their fallacies and inconsistencies. Many of these websites also sport a fair bit of sarcasm and condescension, which really only serve to inflame religious readers’ ire and to reinforce anti-religious sentiment.

I have never seen a religious person read one of these sites and leave comment to the effect of, “Oh, you are so right. I’ve been so blind all this time. Thank you for shining the light of truth into my eyes. You’ve just changed my life for the better.” This never happens, I think, because of the way these debunking attempts are laid out with the aforementioned sarcasm and condescension. Sure, there are a few sites that discuss religious fallacies that treat their religious readers with respect, but they seem to be rather few and far between.

It just seems to me that these blogs and discussion boards that are so wholly dedicated to eradicating religion are wasting their time. Religion will always exist because there will always be people out there who seek to find meaning and truth outside of themselves, who are more willing to rely on myth and legend than they are on fact and rational thought. I’m annoyed by these sites because of the time and effort they waste on stirring up controversy and animosity that really only serves to further polarize religious and non-religious groups. I think that if atheists and agnostics would stop treating religious folk like complete idiots, it would go a lot further toward creating a harmonious environment for discussion that might actually cause more religionists to see just how flimsy their belief systems really are. Not everyone will convert away from religion, of course; as I said a moment ago, there will always be those who are unable to give up their beliefs in some divine entity. It just seems to me that creating hostility toward religionists is very counterproductive.

Does anyone think I’m wrong?

Posted in Rants | 3 Comments »

“Do Unto Others…”

Posted by agnosis on September 4, 2007

Jessica Hagy has a Venn diagram that I quite like – and the comments that follow are an interesting dialogue on the Golden Rule. Personally, I think the diagram is trying to represent humanism as the bridge between religion and secularism, two ideologies that do not play well together. The discussion about the Golden Rule reveals a bit of a flaw in the popular wisdom as well as the fallacy of practicing the rule 100% literally. I like the intent of the Golden Rule, but I don’t wonder if the Wiccan Creed might be a little better – “An ye harm none, do as ye will.” I don’t endorse Wicca any more than I do Christianity, but I think the notion of the Wiccan Creed covers the bases of interaction with other human beings a little better than the Golden Rule does, since the idea of the creed encompasses psychological and spiritual harm just as much as it does physical harm. But either way, taking the spirit of the Golden Rule or the directive of the Wiccan Creed, there’s no reason why people can’t live in peace with another, despite differing ideologies. Right?

(Source: FriendlyAtheist)

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Posted by agnosis on September 4, 2007

FriendlyAtheist has an interesting bit about the deconversion process away from religious belief and into atheism. For me, it was a process of about four years for me to find my way into agnosticism. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully convert into atheism – that seems a little too drastic of a switch to me – but the process definitely was not instantaneous. The problem for me was countering a lifetime of training and belief, and that’s not something that a person can usually just give up in an instant. There are doubts and questions that, at first, seem to be answered adequately by religious belief. After awhile, though, the answers to the doubts and questions start to sound – and feel – hollow, shallow, contrived. They pile up and combine with experience to push the religious belief you’ve held for so long aside and prove it inadequate. I tend to think that, ironically, the intellect, the rational mind is part of what makes the process take time because the mind has to process the tension between the long-held religious beliefs and the newly-found anti-religious leanings. Some find their way back to religion. The rest of us, though, discover that the old religion is no longer a part of who are, and we discover that we are now either agnostic or atheist – and that just takes time.

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments »

Journey Into Agnosticism

Posted by agnosis on August 31, 2007

I’ve grown up in the church. Every time the doors were open, my family was there. Of course, that was, in large part, aided by the fact that my dad was the pastor and my mom was the pianist. Sunday School, Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening service, and Wednesday evening prayer meeting. Usually there was choir practice on Sundays, as well, that brought us to the church building an extra hour or so before the evening service. Add that any and all special events, like youth group meetings, revival services, church picnics, etc., and it’s safe to say that most of my young life was taken up by church-related activities. I usually enjoyed the picnics, and the revival meetings were usually fun because special speakers would come in, many of whom had special talents like singing or playing the glasses or other novel things. I even enjoyed the regular services sometimes.

Mostly, though, I found church to be a real drag. I hated losing so much of my free time to something that was, for me, so terribly boring. I have to wonder now if I didn’t, on some level, think of church as rather pointless, even then. I think I might have, even on a conscious level, have considered that fact, but that was so long ago and kids tend to dismiss a lot of their own thoughts and forget about them. I just know that I hated getting up on Sunday mornings to go to church when I would much rather have stayed in bed for an hour or two longer.

I envied my non-church friends who got to stay home and play and watch cartoons and play their video games when I had to be dressed up and in a boring building, sitting in uncomfortable pews for several hours listening to messages that I’d already heard a dozen times before. I knew that I was supposed to think of church as important, but for me, ‘important’ was equivalent to ‘boring’ in much the same way that ‘vegetables’ to a kid usually means ‘gross.’ My parents believed church was important and drilled into my head that it was so, but the gravity of that importance was always lost on me. I didn’t know why I couldn’t just stay at home while they went to church. But I think part of the ‘importance’ of my being in church had as much to do with public appearance as it did with making sure I was indoctrinated properly.

I lived almost two lives throughout high school. On the one hand, I presented my Christian face to my parents and church, but I was less faithful when I was with my high school friends. I was never a party animal, never took up (or even tried) smoking, alcohol, or drugs, even though I was offered all those things several times. Part of it was fear of discovery by my parents, but most of it was simply that I never wanted to dump those poisons into my body. But I did use swear words and took the Lord’s name in vain on many an occasion. At one point one of my peers even confronted me by calling me a hypocrite. I was thunderstruck, of course, by both his boldness and by the truth of his words. I admit I was ashamed at the time, but it never really caused me to change the way I was doing things.

I repented of my ‘sinful’ ways in college and for several years made a concerted effort to live a more righteous life according to both the doctrines I grew up under and according to the greater understanding of Biblical doctrine I was learning at my university. My faith was energized and fresh. I was excited by my newfound closeness with God. I got involved with several ministry teams, and even found myself heading one up during my fourth year.

But then I burned out. I found myself weary of the faithful, Christian life and its rules, regulations, restrictions, and expectations. I still tried to put on the brave face, but underneath it all I’d given up. I’d put my daily routine of devotions and prayer away, and I just never found the energy or desire to pick them up again. I even began to really question whether I ever wanted to have those back. They had never provided me with any lasting strength or change in my life, and so I just didn’t see the point in laboring over something that had so little lasting impact.

Now I’ve come to the point of agnosticism. I’ve been disillusioned with the Church, Christians, and religions of all shapes and forms and want nothing to do with the lot of them. I look at Christianity and see inconsistency in the doctrine itself as well as in the behaviors and beliefs of its followers. I’m not willing to rule out the idea of an intelligent creator of the universe, but if one truly exists, I’m not sure it actually looks like the God of Christianity. I’m more inclined to think that something created the universe then sent it spinning away to fend for itself. I’m not sure that it would even still care that this universe exists, having grown bored with it long ago.

Ultimately, I’m left with a personal sense of contentment now that is greater than anything I ever experienced as a Christian. I’m free to live my life the way I see fit, to live as good a life as I can before I die. And I think that’s the most that anyone can ask. I’m seeing more of my goals accomplished now that I’ve given up Christianity; I’m getting more done now that I’m free of the ridiculous restrictions I’ve been burdened with for most of my life.

It’s strange, really – I never knew I could be this happy and content with my life, but I feel peaceful and even joyful. Mind you, I’m not singing-and-dancing-in-the-streets joyful. I still have my share of hardships and daily struggles, but that’s part of life and I’m happy to confront them and deal with them one by one. I’m just happy to know, finally, who I am and who I want to be and to be able to see things falling into place to achieve those goals.

I have a lot of years ahead of me, and I’m looking forward to seeing where life takes me.

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Lose the Sneer – It Doesn’t Wear Well On You

Posted by agnosis on July 26, 2007

Robert Sawyer highlights a book that presents the atheistic viewpoint without all the snideness and biting remarks. One quote from Sawyer brings up something I’d like to address:

Well, some atheists reacted negatively to my piece, and several said I was setting an impossible standard because one couldn’t talk to religious people without becoming sneering and arrogant, since, well, atheists are right, right, right, and any idiot should be able to see that.

I much prefer Sawyer’s approach to presenting atheism. Granted, I’m not a full-blown atheist; I’m not wholly willing to rule out the notion that something may have brought everything we know into being. There’s no evidence to prove there is an intelligent creator, but by the same token, there’s no evidence that there isn’t, either. It’s this very fact, in part, that has caused me to turn my back on Christianity because so many Christians are willing to just throw logic, rationality, and well-proven evidence right out the window when such things conflict with their beliefs – and they often do so with sneering, condescending attitudes.

On the other hand, however, I have much the same complaint against a fair number of atheists and agnostics, who themselves adopt sneering condescending attitudes because, as Sawyer’s quote above demonstrates, many of them believe it is the only way to deal with those who hold religious beliefs. Frankly, it’s the fact that so many atheists are so condescending that prevented me for so long from giving up my faith – and it’s part of what prevents me from converting to full-blown atheist (the other part being the aforementioned lack of evidence pro or con for a creator).

So, it’s refreshing to see Sawyer embrace an approach that doesn’t involve sneering and condescension and to point out another author who does the same. There’s hope yet that there are a few people out there who are willing to be grownups.

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Challenging Faith

Posted by agnosis on July 20, 2007

I realized something a long time ago but never really explored the topic then. The reasons for ignoring it at the time are ironic to me now.

Christians ignore topics that challenge their faith for one primary reason – they are afraid that said topics will actually undermine their faith. Essentially, they would rather bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the issues that have been raised don’t exist than acknowledge the issues as they are and take the risk that they might be proven wrong. I believe that, for the most part, they are afraid to explore these issues in detail because they might suddenly find that their long-held beliefs really are as insubstantial as vapor. They’ve been so secure in their beliefs for so long that finding out suddenly that they might have been wrong all this time would rock their world in a frightening way.

For the longest time, I disregarded the findings of science. So sure was I of my religious beliefs that I was certain that, in certain areas of research, I was sure that science must be wrong. After all, man is finite, as is his understanding of the universe. Therefore, to my way of thinking, some of his findings in the realm of science could easily be wrong. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before, you know? Now, of course, I realize that some of the things we know about the universe now could still be wrong, but I’ve come to a place where science trumps religious faith. The evidence is just too overwhelming, and science and my former faith conflict at various points in such a way that both simply can’t be right. And when science displays testable theories that have been verified time and again, I discovered that it is the faith that must be set aside. There are simply too many things there that don’t add up in the face of scientific evidence. Add to that the fact that so many Christians behave in very unChristian-like ways, and I find that faith has soured in my mouth.

Give me evidence and hard facts. Those make sense to me. Faith no longer does.

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Bad Astronomy

Posted by agnosis on June 28, 2007

I’ve been following a blog called Bad Astronomy for several weeks now. I stumbled across it in my quest for new and interesting things to read. BA has actually served, in part, to aid my decision to become agnostic. I have really come to appreciate his detailed approach at exposing the flaws in many of the “scientific” claims from the religious community (with creationism being one of his favorite soapboxes to get on). If you enjoy science and like learning new things, check out BA and get a taste of some of what’s going on currently in his field. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Edit: This video entry actually demonstrates a large part of why I’ve left the Christian faith. If Christians can’t be honest with their “science” and must, then, resort to lies to convince anyone of the veracity of their biblical claims, then that must cast a large shadow over the supposed “truth” of their claims. Of course, I would have preferred that Killian had avoided name-calling in the comments to his video, but of course, it’s not like he started it. It’s just too bad that these kinds of debates inevitably degenerate into that sort of behavior – but that’s a rant for another day. For now, I’m comfortable just pointing out the weaknesses of “Christian science” and the role they’ve played in my leaving that way of thinking behind.

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments »


Posted by agnosis on June 28, 2007

One of the big questions blaring in my head right now is this: If Christianity is such a powerful faith, where then is all the power? Christianity claims the power to change lives, to turn even the ugliest character and turn it into a shining example of God’s redemptive powers. It claims to have the power to bring new “sheep into the fold.”

But if this is the case, I ask you, then why don’t Christians look or act any different from anyone else? If Christianity effects such powerful changes in the lives of its adherents, why is it that most churches are divided on themselves and split over trivial issues? Why are Christians some of the worst when it comes to backstabbing, name-calling, hate-mongery, and the like? If Christianity is so damn powerful, then why aren’t Christians any different from anyone else? Shouldn’t Christians then be the ones leading the way to peace and tranquility and mercy and forgiveness, instead of being the first ones in line to spew their harsh words of anger and bitterness and strife?

I’ve no use for such people. I’ve no use for powerless religions, and I forsake Christianity for the powerless and ineffectual religion that it is. I see nothing there to draw me to it, its people, or its God. What those Christians do in actuality, no matter what words they speak and say they believe in, I can do without their supposed faith. Why in hell would I want to take on the burden of such a religious system?

I wouldn’t. And I don’t.

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