Monday, April 4, 2011

Horrific Violence Breeds Horrific Violence

What would you do if someone instructed you to murder your child as a show of loyalty? Grab your child and run? Call the police? Or would you be loyal and do it?

Christians young and old are taught to honor Abraham for being willing to murder his only son, Isaac, at God’s request. What kind of parent would really do that? 

Religious people so often say that violent scripture is just an illustration of the real point -- a parable -- and that we need to read deeper to get the real meaning. The problem with interpretation: everyone's is different. And the Bible and Quran are often interpreted by psychopaths as instructions to kill innocent people.

For example, Andrea Yates drowned her 5 young children in their bathtub in Houston, Texas in 2001. A devout Christian, Ms. Yates read the Bible feverishly, and she and her husband "home-churched" their children three times a week. Amazingly, Yates was on firm scriptural ground when she murdered her children. Just like Abraham, when Yates felt that God required her to kill her children, she did it without question. Yates apparently takes a literal view of Christian scripture, and who can blame her? If you really believe that the perfect word of the loving creator of the universe is right there in black and white, who are you to question it? Some devout believers will do anything they believe gods are instructing them to do.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Be Healed!

Demon possession and sin as sources of sickness are described as actual problems in the Bible, and it takes fancy intellectual footwork on a reader’s part to not recognize that. Most people laugh at Benny Hinn and other faith-healers, but the Christian Bible is on Benny's side.

It’s time we be clear: Jesus claimed to be a faith-healer, and much of his ministry allegedly involved casting out demons. Here are just two examples of the dozens of passages about demon possession in the Christian Bible (Hebrew Bible plus "New" Testament). Isn't it interesting that none of these miracles left behind any evidence that we can actually verify today? Is that the only reason some people still believe these myths? These days, why do we generally require evidence in order to believe peoples' claims about faith healing? 

[Jesus "heals" a young man apparently suffering from epilepsy:]
Matthew Chapter 17
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him.
15 "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.
16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."
17 "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me."
18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

Mark Chapter 1
23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out,
24 "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!"
25 "Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!"
26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

Belief Makes Things Real

"Reading the Will"
By Frederick Daniel Hardy
British, 1862-1911

A belief is like a lever that, once pulled, affects just about everything else. If I told you that you just inherited 15 million dollars, and if you believed me, that belief might have a powerful and transformative effect on your life, like none you could ever imagine. Notice that your belief and its effect would be unrelated to whether I was telling you the truth.


This is a photo of one of the wounded in a riot in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan on April 1, 2011. Religious zealots burning a book in Florida caused religious zealots in Afghanistan to murder at least 12 innocent people and wound several others. Enraged by the Quran burning in Florida, the rioters were looking for Americans to kill. Unable to find any, they attacked the next best thing: the United Nations compound that was there in Afghanistan to help these very people. 2 of those killed were beheaded by the rioters, who had just been incited to violence at Friday prayers.

Is it time we admit just how much religion harms us? Do we need these violent, tribal legends in order to be good people? Or do they actually make things much worse?