Tag Archives: bible

Freedom OF and Freedom FROM

religion, that is.

Today’s Age online had this article: MPs attack Bible ‘madness’, in which several MPs rail against the ban on bibles being handed out at citizenship ceremonies. One quote in particular proves that you can have a law degree, be an MP and still not understand basic principles:

Tasmanian Liberal senator Guy Barnett told the Coalition party room this was ”political correctness gone mad. There should be freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

Whether Barnett likes it or not, or whether he agrees with me or not, I think he is absolutely wrong and either has little idea about what freedom from religion entails or is so blinded by his Christianity that he doesn’t care. I however do heartily agree with the response by OzAz posted at March 02, 2011, 1:43PM (comment 130). I have reproduced here it in it’s entirety, with permission.

I hope Tasmanian Liberal Senator Guy Barnett, and the other deluded people who have no clue as to what “freedom of religion and freedom from religion” means, reads this comment if nothing else.

Freedom OF religion means to have the freedom to choose whatever religion you like.
Freedom FROM religion means you have the freedom not to have any one religion forced on you.

A country without freedom FROM religion enshrined in their constitutional system (something Australia doesn’t have) is always in danger of becoming a theocracy.

I’m sure some of the Liberal MPs and Christian’s commenting here would be quite happy with that, if it was a Catholic Theocracy.

But would you be happy with that if we became a Muslim Theocracy, under Sharia Law? Or maybe even a Hillsong, Exclusive Brethren or Church of Scientology Theocracy? I think not.

Get it into your head, Freedom FROM Religion doesn’t prevent anyone practising whatever religion they want. It just prevents any one religion taking over all the others and forcing everyone to practice that one religion.

It also means everyone is perfectly entitled not to be involved with any religion if they don’t want to.

Personal choice, I wants it; Freedom OF and Freedom FROM lets me have it.

I really do hope Barnett reads it, he obviously requires the education.

There are some other excellent comments, particularly the ones pointing out that government at any level should not be handing out bibles in a supposedly secular nation. Several comments also point out the problem with only handing out Christian bibles, especially as many of the new citizens are Muslims and a Koran would be more suitable to them.

As OzAz points out, freedom of religion and freedom from religion is not documented in Australia’s Constitution and probably should be. At least it should be in a Bill of Rights, something that we almost got but government decided we didn’t need, despite many people, myself included, wanting.

Do you agree that “Freedom of religion and freedom from religion” should be enshrined in either our constitution, or at least a Bill of Rights? If not you better have a very good reason, and I’d like to hear it.

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Is the Bible True or False

So,

Is the Bible True or False?

Or,

The Da Vinci Code Argument TM

Just because a book contains some factual references does not make the whole book factual.

There are some stories written in the Christian Bible that have archaeological, geological or other evidence to back them up; or at least indicate a strong likelihood for being based on real places, people or events. However this does not necessarily prove that what the Bible says happened to them, or what they said or did, is true or correct.

For instance, there is evidence that Jericho was an occupied area as far back as the Natufian period (10,800-8,500 BC), and in the Early / Middle Bronze Age (3100-1800 BC) had extensive defensive walls. There is also evidence that Jericho was destroyed in the Late Bronze Age (1800-1400 BC). (from The Archaeology of the Ancient City of Jericho)

However, is there evidence that the walls of Jericho were blown down at the sound of Joshua’s horn? No, and it seems highly unlikely.

We have evidence for Jericho (or at least dwellings in the area prescribed to be Jericho) actually existing and being destroyed at some stage, however, this does not prove the story of Joshua being true as there is no evidence for the sounds of horns destroying the city. True, the absence of evidence does not mean it didn’t occur, a supernatural occurrence might not leave any natural evidence, but it also doesn’t prove it did occur. Additionally it is now held that Jericho was destroyed in 1562 BCE, well over 100 years before the accepted time of the biblical story.

Despite some stories having some evidence, there are also stories for which, despite intensive searches and investigation, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever, and in some cases completely contradictory evidence.

… geological investigations [have] proved without a doubt that there was no planet-wide flood as described in the Old Testament of the bible, …

from Is the Bible Fact or Fiction? History of Archaeology, Part 3 :

So, let’s not ask if the Bible is true or false. Instead, let’s ask a series of questions.

1. Did the places and cultures that are mentioned in the Bible and the other ancient texts exist? Yes, in many cases, they did. Archaeologists have found evidence for many of the locations and cultures mentioned in the ancient texts.

2. Did the events that are described in these texts happen? Some of them did; archaeological evidence in the form of physical evidence or supporting documents from other sources can be found for some of the battles, the political struggles, and the building and collapse of cities.

3. Did the mystical things that are described in the texts occur? It’s not my area of expertise, but if I were to hazard a guess, if there were miracles that occurred, they wouldn’t leave archaeological evidence. [Personally I don’t totally agree with this last statement from the author of the About.com article, some supernatural miracles could leave evidence, not necessarily evidence for their supernaturalness but evidence something happened]

4. Since the places and the cultures and some of the events that are described in these texts happened, shouldn’t we just assume that the mysterious parts also happened? No. Not any more than since Atlanta burned, Scarlett O’Hara really was dumped by Rhett Butler.

There are many many ancient texts and stories about how the world began; and many are at variance with one another. From a global human standpoint, why should one ancient text be more accepted than any other? The mysteries of the bible and other ancient texts are just that — mysteries. It is not, and never has been, within the archaeological purview to prove or disprove their reality. That is a question of faith, not science.

In my opinion, if you have to rely on faith, then in all likelihood it isn’t true.

The fact that parts of the bible are somewhat backed up by some evidence, doesn’t mean the whole of the bible is factual, especially all the supernatural elements of it. There are far too many errors in the bible, and sections for which there is no, or contradictory, evidence, for the Bible to be accepted as a factual book.

Why I call it The Da Vinci Code Argument TM. The Da Vinci Code contains a lot of facts; places, names and events that are real. It also contains a lot of “FICTS” (a made up word that represents a fiction that has some basis in fact or sounds convincing enough that it might be a fact), it is though a work of fiction. The Bible is, in a way, similar to the Da Vinci Code; it contains some factual places, names and events, it also contains some “ficts”, but overall it is a work of fiction.

When the Da Vinci Code was released there was quite an uproar among some elements of society, particularly the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church and others spent considerable time and effort debunking some of the “facts”, “ficts”, myths and legends mentioned in the book. Dan Brown may have stated some points as facts that obviously weren’t, whether this was intentional or not is debatable, but ultimately everyone knew (or should have) that the book was a work of fiction.

It’s a pity that the Catholic Church and other Christians don’t spend as much time and effort debunking their own book, the Bible has been shown to contain many factual errors, contains plagiarised versions of older myths and statements about supernatural events that can never be proved. Rather than trying to bend and twist what little facts are in the Bible into declaring the Bible factual, perhaps it’s about time the churches came out and admitted the Bible is a work of fiction?

This post was inspired by a comment on Atheist Climber’s  Scared of Death post, in which sabepashubbo questions how can we say the bible is a work of fiction when it contains some facts.

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The Cognitive Dissonance is Strong in This One

Watched an awesome video last night on ABC1 TV Compass program called: Christianity: A History – God and the Scientists; do yourself a favour and watch it (streaming video or download, about 50 minutes). The presenter Colin Blakemore (a British neurobiologist at Oxford University and Warwick University)

interviews scholars and churchmen in order to understand how science transformed Christianity over the last four centuries. He shows how scientists born of the Enlightenment realised that the laws of the universe were there to be discovered, not read about in the Bible. He argues that science is the biggest challenge Christianity has ever had to face, and that it will eventually make religion unnecessary. from ABC Compass

It was a very informative show covering some of the history of science particularly how it pertains to Christianity. Despite Christianity actually starting many universities and initially encouraging thinking, they changed their mind quite quickly when anyone discovered something that went against church dogma (Copernicus, Galileo et al). The church doesn’t come across as being very open-minded (but has it ever?) and some of the methods used to dissuade free-thinking and scientific investigation were rather cruel (an understatement, torture methods used during the inquisition were horrendous), As Blakemore points out, the church didn’t always have to actually physically torture people, sometimes the mere threat was sufficient for people to recant their (correct) ideas. Self censorship is a powerful weapon.

The cognitive dissonance shown by some of the people Blakemore interviewed was interesting, the Vatican astronomer seemed fully conversant with all the latest astronomical findings and seemed quite happy to discuss the earth being 4.5 Billion years old, but some how still managed to fit God into the equation. But the greatest cognitive dissonance shown was by Dr Jason Lisle, an astrophysicist and scientific adviser for the Creation Museum! He fully believes the biblical version of creation that God created everything in six days, that dinosaurs roamed the earth alongside humans, including Adam and Eve. I could hardly comprehend it when Lisle replied to one of Blakemore’s questions with

“If we find some experiment that seems on the surface to disagree with the word of God, we go with the word of God”

at about this stage I think a part of my brain melted from the sheer idiocy. The scientific method, which someone with a PhD in Astrophysics should know, does not allow you to disregard results of an experiment just because you don’t like those results; you have to go where the FACTS direct you, like it or not. I could not understand how someone could get a PhD in Astrophysics and be so deluded, as the title of this blog says: The Cognitive Dissonance is Strong in This One. If you just want to watch Blakemore’s visit to the Creation Museum, including the interview with Lisle, check the link, it goes for about 4 and 1/2 minutes. But be warned, the Stupid It Burns!

the_stupid_it_burns.jpg

Blakemore’s visit to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) left me wide eyed with the sheer enormity of the project, that thing is HUGE. People talk about the majesty of some religious buildings, and I agree some churches are architecturally and/or artistically inspiring, but the LHC is truly majestic in its own right.

How could anyone not be amazed with what science can achieve? How can anyone disregard scientific facts and instead accept what was written thousands of years ago by people who knew no better. We know better now, it has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that much of what is written in the bible is wrong, that the bible is not a scientific book. So why do so many people still cling to the biblical fallacies, and prefer (misguided) belief over scientific evidence?

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God can make you Thin.

Yes that is thin, not think.

I was asked on twitter the other day about religious diets, the person (www.twitter.com/blazslav) was actually talking about “stuffing their minds” (with bad thoughts), but I interpreted their initial tweet to be about “stuffing their bodies” (with bad food).

It piqued my interest to see if there were any “religious specific diets” lo-and-behold there are. Quite a few in fact, and AOL Health has even done a review of some of the more well known ones. The AOL Religious Diets review can be read in full on their site, but here are a few excerpts, including the opening paragraphs:

“God, help me, I’m fat.”
Does prayer really help you lose weight?

I’d have to say no, unless you prayed so much you didn’t get time to eat?

Faith-based diets are increasingly popular with Christians making up the largest base for the new trend. Many pastors and church leaders are recognizing obesity in their congregation and preaching about weight loss as it relates to the Bible.

I admit I haven’t read every word in the Bible, but I don’t recall ever reading, or hearing of, any weight loss programs in it?

All these different diet methods share the common message, “Don’t run to the fridge, run to God.”

Well I can see some benefit in that diet tip, running away from the fridge means running away from food, and if you “run to God” you are going to be running for along time. Seeing as, if God exists no one actually knows where “he” resides (so you’ll be running in circles all over the place).  😉

Here is the list of the diets reviewed by AOL Health:

Faith-Based Diets
Divine Health & What Would Jesus Eat?
Maker’s Diet
Hallelujah Diet
Body By God
First Place
Weigh Down and Thin Within

Divine Health is based on a Mediterranean cuisine and encourages eating fish, salads and lightly cooked vegetables. The diet also encourages daily walking.

Maker’s Diet is “drawn from the book of Leviticus, the food plan is based on Old Testament dietary laws.” Like the previous diet, this diet also encourages people to eat less processed foods, sugars and pork.

Hallelujah Diet is “based on Genesis 1:29, the vegetarian diet primarily consists of eating 85 percent raw to 15 percent cooked fruit and vegetables.” In fact this diet is very nearly a vegan diet as it “restricts eating all meats, dairy or refined flour products, white rice or eggs.”

Body By God is a diet based on “foods given by God” namely natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, organic beef and poultry, fish and herbs. This diet also encourage exercise and encourages people to eat less processed foods, fried foods, sugars and pork.

First Place diet “instead of strict food guidelines or supplements, the focus of the group is spiritual awareness to replace food as comfort.” “The plan doesn’t leave out any food group but encourages members not to indulge on too many sweets or excess amounts of fried foods.”

Weigh Down and Thin Within diets have a similar focus to the First Place diet in putting emphasis on Bible study and prayer to rejuvenate spirituality and to replace food as comfort. There are no strict guidelines on what you can and can’t eat in these diets.

So are any of these diets any good, will any of them help you lose weight?

From the review in the AOL article and my own limited health knowledge I’d say yes, some of them will help you lose weight. Any diet that encourages you to eat less processed, fatty, sugary foods and more fruit and vegetables is going to be good for you. Any diet that encourages you to do more exercise is also good for you. Whether these diets are any better because they are God or Bible based is a very debatable point.

Personally I wouldn’t recommend a vegan/vegetarian diet to anyone, some people can lead healthy lives on them but you really have to know what you are doing to ensure you don’t miss out on any vital vitamins and minerals, or become undernourished.

One of the points the AOL article does raise that is mentioned in some of these weight loss programs is the problem of “comfort food”. Some people eat when stressed or depressed and this can often lead to weight gain, or make it difficult to lose weight. Reducing the emotional reasons for eating may be a necessary part of a weight loss program for some people. A few of the religious diets listed above promise to assist with this aspect of dieting, but I’m not sure prayer or scripture reading is necessarily the best method. I have the worry that “spiritual awareness” may only temporarily mask a deeper emotional problem, perhaps  it would be better for these people to seek help from a highly trained competent psychologist?

The bottom line when it come to losing weight, and/or fat, is to reduce your intake and increase you out-take.  Eat less and better, exercise more.
However, one should always eat sufficiently to ensure you don’t miss out on vital vitamins and minerals and maintain good health.

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bible study of the day

Don’t worry folks, I’m only studying bits of it to verify something I just read.

subtitled “bonking for god”

sub-subtitled “make up your freakin’ mind god!”

Gen 6:1  And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born unto them,

Fair enough, god’s made man and woman and they’ve started to procreate. I’m also guessing sons were born as well, but they are not of much interest at this stage, as we shall soon see.

Gen 6:2  that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose.

So if I read this right, gods sons (angels?) took a fancy to all the good looking daughters of the mere mortal men and took them as wives (whether they liked it or not by the looks of things). Of note in the Good News Bible  (GNB) the verse is as follows:

some of the heavenly beings saw that these young women were beautiful, so they took the ones they liked

Nothing about marriage here, just pure bonk fest by the sounds of it. Hey being a son of god has to have some perks.

By the way I thought god only ever had one son? But these passages indicate he’s got lots?

Gen 6:3  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not strive with man for ever, for that he also is flesh: yet shall his days be an hundred and twenty years.

So we could all have lived for ever but god decided that we couldn’t be immortal like him, so he set a time limit – maximum 120 years.

Gen 6:4  The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same were the mighty men which were of old, the men of renown.

Nephilim – for those that don’t know (I didn’t), are the children of angels and humans (see bonk fest in Gen 6.2 and 6.4). The Nephilim are also called Giants in some versions of the Bible, GNB and King James version (KJV) to name a couple. So the angels bonk the earthly women and they have ‘giant’ babies, ooohh that could be painful.

Gen 6:5  And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

So the story takes a major turn here, we’ve been discussing how the “sons of god” (angels) have been ‘getting it on’ with all the good looking human women. Having ‘giant’ babies who turn out to be “heroes of renown”; and god thinks the humans are being wicked? What the heck were they doing wrong, poor blokes had to suffer for second best after the angels took all the good looking women. Wouldn’t blame them if they were a tad upset and got a bit uppity.

Gen 6:6  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

So after going to all the trouble of making man and women, knowing full well that they’d procreate and have fun, he decides he’s made a mistake? He decides that ‘man’ is wicked and he gets upset that there are so many of them; but he thinks his ‘sons’ are nice guys? God doesn’t strike me as much of an ‘all knowing god’ like some people profess him to be. So god regrets making man, and then we get to the flood…

Well here endeth the lesson

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Atheist Bus Campaign comes to America

Ads proclaiming, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake,” will appear on Washington buses starting next week and running through December.

Nice slogan.

Lifting lyrics from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” the American Humanist Association are running the atheist bus campaign in Washington DC during December. full story here

Of course the christian groups have had something to say about it. The American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, had this to say:

“It’s a stupid ad,” he said. “How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.”

What? More crazy than it already is? With hundreds of different religions believing in dozens of different gods; fighting and squabbling amongst themselves, and dragging us innocent non-believers along with them.

‘Good’ can easily be defined as not harming others; pretty simple, no need for god(s).  The bible tells us whats good and bad? Huh? I think Wildmon should read some of the many passages that show otherwise. Lets see what I can find in less than 60 seconds….

22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake. 23 ¶And he went up from thence unto Beth–el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

2 Kings 2:22-24 (King James Version (1769) with Strongs Numbers and Morphology)

Now let me get this straight, if children call you names, or mock your bald head [Sean and Protium please do not send any angry bears my way 😛  ] you can curse them under Gods name, and God will send bears to rip the kids to shreds. Yep, I can see how you can determine ‘good’ from reading the bible.  *** snerk ***

At least the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority aren’t wimps and are allowing the adverts, unlike the Tasmanian and South Australian transit authorities who have refused some of the slogans the Atheist Foundation of Australia wanted to use.

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Various things of interest

After hearing all about the American Presidential election yesterday (note to the ABC, the A stands for Australian, not American. LOL), I decided to try and catch up on my blog friends, and some other news. Not surprisingly most of them were discussing the election.

However, there were a few exceptions:

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LOL Cat Bible (apologies to who ever it was that reminded me of this). If like me you are a fan of LOL Cats (and I know a certain Fiery friend of mine is; as is a certain cat, tortoise, dog, horse loving friend) and in particular Ceiling Cat, then you may well be interested in the LOL Cat Bible.

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Matt’s last post discussed the Compulsory Univeristy Fees. Not a topic that personaly affects me, but when Howard banned the old scheme there were a lot of people upset about it. The new Labour government’s scheme goes some way to redressing the situation, but it has problems. Anyway, if you are interested Matt covers it in depth.

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Whilst blogging last night I had the TV on in the background and noticed an ad for an interesting looking documentary. (SBS Sunday 9 November at 8:35pm)

The President’s Guide To Science,

The film makers asks some of the biggest names in science to have a quiet word with the new President, be it Obama or McCain [we all now it’s Obama]. The United States President is quite simply the most powerful man on earth, but past Presidents have often known little about science. That is a problem when the decisions they make will affect every one of us, from nuclear proliferation to climate change. To help the new President get to grips with this intimidating responsibility, some of the world’s leading scientists, from Dawkins to Watson, share some crucial words of advice. (From the UK, in English) (Documentary) CC

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Then there is this complety off topic article in todays paper:

WHEN a woman out jogging was bitten by a rabid fox, she ran on for another 1.5km with the animal still attached to her arm and threw it into the boot of her car.

They breed them tough in Arizona!

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OK one American election topic. The following picture was developed to remind voters that the election should be about the issues, not about race.

black_white

(from Ananova)

I’m sure some people voted for, or against, Obama because he is black, but I’m also sure many others voted for him just because they thought he was the best candidate.

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That’s all for now

 

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