Thursday, August 25, 2011

Genesis - How not to parent!

In the beginning… There was one really bad parent…

OK. I will be repeating this but it is important. The Christian premise is that God is all knowing, all powerful and all good. The Bible doesn’t support this but that is what they say…

Genesis… This guy builds a house. He is a really talented builder, in fact he is an “all-talented” builder. So suffice it to say it is a great house!

He moves his children into the house and tells them that they can do whatever they want in the house except eat the poison under the sink. Because he is all talented the house is perfectly safe except for this poison which he purposefully decided to leave there.

Now these are small children, not old enough to know right from wrong. Never-the-less, Dad puts the poison under the sink. Now Dad knows that this is no ordinary poison, this is a particularly awful poison that will cause his children pain, death and an eternal torment AFTER death. Bad stuff. He puts it under the sink anyway and doesn’t put any kind of lock on the sink. Then he does what I am sure any responsible parent would do he leaves the kids alone in the house and goes off to do whatever it is he does. Not only does father of the year not lock the cabinet under the sink he leaves the house unlocked so that anyone can come in.

A stranger comes in and tells the kids to eat the poison. They do. Remember these kids are neither of an age nor to they have the ability to tell right from wrong.

Further Dad has the ability to know well everything… so he knew the kids were going to eat the poison before he even made them. He knew when he was building the house, he knew when they were thinking about it and he knew when they did it. He also knew the stranger was going to come into the house when he left it unlocked.

He also has the power to be anywhere and do anything he wishes. In other words he could have with little to no effort stopped his children from eating the poison but he didn’t.

So we can clearly see from this story that the children are the ones at fault here! Right?

Like I said, Genesis…

Pretty much that is the updated story, well my version. And if this father were around today we would have CPS on him in a flash!

So in analysis, if God is all powerful that is to say perfect how can he create something that isn’t perfect? The answer is he can only do so intentionally. So according to the story:

1. God is perfect therefore God intentionally built the flaws in Adam and Eve leading them to eat the fruit (note the story doesn’t say apple.)

2. God is all knowing therefore he built these flaws with full knowledge that they would cause his creations would eat the fruit.

3. Knowing that he had created beings that would eat the fruit; God places the tree in the garden anyway. Being all powerful he could have placed it anywhere in the universe or nowhere at all, he could have surrounded it with a ring of fire, had Dragons guard it, encased it in rock. But no he just left it out in the open and told Adam not to eat it, even though he already knew Adam would because he specifically engineered Adam to do so.

4. Being all know he knew the Serpent (who was not Satan btw) would temp Eve. And he knew she would fall for it because he designed her to fall for it. Again being all powerful he could have kept the serpent away or struck it dumb or put it in a far distant continent but no, he leaves it in the garden.

5. All of this I can get past to some degree. You are an all powerful diety, you make some people and a snake and a tree know the people will eat from the tree at the urging of the snake because that is how you intentionally designed them. No problem. But then God acts surprised, gets angry, starts cursing the people and the snake. WTF???? Over…

So there are a few possibilities. God is not all powerful or all knowing, which would mean that this isn’t really God wouldn’t it? OR God fully intended all of this and just cursed everyone because well … he is mean-spirited.

Now I of course have posed these questions to the various Theologians that have passed through my life and gotten various explanations. The best on is the “freewill” and “test” theory.

It varies depending on who is telling it but goes something like God gave Adam and Eve freewill. He wanted them to choose to obey him and the tree in the garden was a test. The problem with this theory is that if God is God he never needs to test anything. He already knows the outcome so the test itself has no purpose. As he knows everything already no test could yield new information.

Also in the Genesis tale the big dude himself says, “22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” (Gen 3:22 KJV)

Who is us?

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There are no atheists in foxholes

I promised more posts… I really didn’t deliver. Sorry about that. At first I intended this to be a rebuttal of some things I had read online (see my previous post) but when I went back and read it again I realized that this is really about me. It is about what I think.

Now I do not have the comparative religious or philosophical education that some bloggers on the subject seem to have, so I can only speak from what I know and believe.

There are no atheists in foxholes. That is what I titled this post. For a bit of background I am a USAF retired SNCO. Despite that I am not offended by the aphorism. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers has a problem with it. If you would like to see their website is can be found here:

They have a campaign to dispel “that old myth”. Frankly I think they are missing the boat and need to be a little thicker skinned. Everyone knows Atheists serve; there are numerous famous examples from Pat Tillman to Ernest Hemmingway. The saying has far more to do with religion and the religious than it does with Atheists.

Wikipedia (not the greatest source, I know but it will do in this case) says, “The statement ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power.” I would call that a fair definition. It is an argument and a flawed one at that.

The first problem is the scope fallacy as in “all people will”. The argument is then proved false by simple anecdotal evidence. (yes another fallacy) But if there is even ONE person who does not react this way then “all people will” is demonstrably false. Some people in times of extreme stress or fear reject God, this is particularly true when witnessing the horrors of war. Some will conclude that no just God would allow such suffering.

If we change the scope to “some people will believe in or hope for a higher power,” then the argument might be true except that if it only affects “some people” then the unaffected group in the proverbial foxhole would be atheists.

So after establishing that the aphorism is a false argument one must consider who is making this argument. It is certainly not the Atheist. It is rather the religious who make this argument which says more about religion than about Atheism.

The statement this makes to me is that Religion is based on fear. When the religious argues that “there are no Atheists in foxholes,” they are basically stating that anyone made afraid enough or who suffers enough will turn to religion. Although, most religions claim to be based on peace and love they assert here that it is fear that drives people to them.

In my first post I talked about how it was conquering my own fears that led me away from religion. Here we have a religious argument that says that fear is what drives people to it. I agree. I choose not to be afraid.