Pride & Prejudice

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Ken Ham took a swipe at Gay Prides recently on his crackpot Answers in Genesis. He didn’t, for once, harp on at length on about how sinful same-sex everything is (if it’s same sex, it’s sinful) but takes the perspective that because Prides involve the word ‘pride’ they are prideful – and that, my friends, is a sin too! This remarkable insight allows the Hamster to gay bash from a completely different angle, though predictably the result is the same. LGBTQ people are lost in sin, and it’s a double whammy; they don’t just wallow in their sexual sin but in pride too, and, my, how God hates both of those!

In the context of Gay Pride, ‘pride’ doesn’t quite mean what ol’ Kenny thinks it does. He takes his definition from some esoteric evangelical dictionary that defines pride as “both a disposition/attitude and a type of conduct,” which according to Ham boils down to that old chestnut, Rebellion Against God, which, he says epitomises gay people.

As usual, he’s wrong. What Gay Pride represents, in both its public and personal forms, is gay people’s rejection of any shame imposed by others about who they are and their refusal to remain hidden; not so much pride but joy, liberation and self-assertion. I’ve been to one or two Prides myself and these have been their predominant characteristics. They reflect the exhilaration gay people feel about being themselves and escaping from the constrictions of the closet. For many, this can be a long and difficult journey, as it was for me. Gay people have every reason to be pleased with who they are and what they’ve achieved and Gay Prides are a way of declaring this self-acceptance, self-esteem and, yes, love – to their communities, city and the world.

‘Pride’ of this sort is no sin (neither is any other, because there’s no such thing as ‘sin’) but other kinds of pride – say, Donald Trump’s arrogance and bluster – are particularly distasteful. Thank goodness Christians don’t suffer from that sorts of pride!

They don’t for example, think they’re superior to the unsaved and especially to LGBTQ people. if they did, they’d spend their time judging everyone else and finding them lacking. They’d lambast gay folks and suggest they should cured or silenced or even executed. They’d disparage atheists, sceptics and unbelievers at every turn. Thank God Christians don’t demonstrate this sort of pride!

Praise the Lord they don’t think they somehow merit living forever! What a relief they don’t think a magic trick of God’s is going to make that possible because, really, they don’t deserve to die; there’s something about them that is worth preserving forever. Thank goodness they can see that this life is all there is and the little bundle of hopes, fears, neuroses and prejudices that make up most of us, don’t really merit unlimited continuation. To think that really would be prideful!

Hallelujah that Christians don’t think the particular brand of mumbo-jumbo they subscribe to is the only one true religion. If they did, they’d spend their time disputing with one another about who’s right and who’s apostate, misguided and deceived by the devil. Praise Lucifer we don’t see pride like this emanating from Christians everywhere!

So, one last message for Kenny and those who put down others, or call them out on their ‘pride’:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7.1-5).

And if you think you have removed that log from your own eye – isn’t that just another manifestation of, well… pride?

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What has God ever done for us?

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Back in my Christian days, I used to sing a hymn with a line that went ‘give and give and give again what God has given thee’. It was a fine if largely ignored sentiment – like those of similar nature demanded by Jesus – but I was reminded of it recently on hearing for the umpteenth time of just how much God has given us.

Join me in taking a look around to see.

Everything around me here in the room is… well, not to put too fine a point on it, man-made, that is devised, created, crafted and manufactured by human beings. No supernatural intervention appears to be have been required in the creation of the technology you and I are currently using, nor in the creature comforts that surround me: the chair I’m sitting on, the cushions, the clothes that are keeping me warm this cold winter’s day, the glasses I’m wearing that enable me to see properly (and have done since I was a young child), the carpet that keeps my feet from bare boards, the boards themselves, the house that they’re part of. No god was involved in the making of these things and the many more conveniences that make life in the Western world as comfortable as it is. You name it, humans made it.

It’s true that many of these items utilise natural resources – wood, cotton and so on – but the cultivation of these is again the result of human effort. There’s a clue too in the name of such materials – ‘natural’. Nature produces them, which as Darwin made plain 150 years ago, does not require any god pulling any strings behind the scenes.

The same applies to our bodies; they are the product of natural processes. I was created by my parents who in turn were created by theirs and so back to a time before any of us were human; no god was steering the direction of evolution, nor, despite what Ken Ham thinks were we created as we are today in six days. And when our bodies let us down, as they inevitably do? Even the most ardent among us do not depend on god’s willingness to heal us – he is, as in so many other respects, notoriously unreliable – we go instead to the physician and the surgeon, to medicine and technologies; in short we turn to other human beings and the creations of human beings; we turn to science. The vast majority of Christians do this too, which says much about their faith in an Almighty who can work wonders (but doesn’t). When the chips are down they don’t, as Ham puts it, reject the ‘foolish ways of man’, but turn to the skills and provision of their fellow men and women. They help far more than – infinitely more than – any imaginary god.

So it is with ideologies, philosophies and religions; they too are human inventions, everyone of them. In the West we enjoy the benefits of living in capitalist democracies with their attendant conveniences and freedoms. No god-on-high handed down such systems. Jesus was rabidly opposed to riches and wealth and there was nothing democratic about his intention to be king of the world.

Everything we have, from our ideologies and morality to science and technologies we  created ourselves; no god was involved. The messes we’ve made too; these are our responsibility, from the damage we’ve inflicted on the environment and the climate to the wars we seem endlessly to engage in and the often often appallling way we treat each other. We are culpable. No god is going to come down from heaven to right these wrongs. No god ever has; we have to sort things out ourselves. That has always been the case and always will be.

If it’s not, then those who of you who promote a god need to show him to the rest of us. Show us your god – not through the actions of human beings because those are just that, the actions of human beings. Show us something your god made that is not better explained as a product of nature or of human beings themselves. Provide evidence of your Christ, his angels and his heaven that is more than the delusion shard by you and your co-religionists; show us that they are beings with an existence independent of the human mind.

You can’t, you say, because that’s not the way of spirituality, not the way of a transcendent god.

How very convenient.

 

Say Hul-loa to the Loa loa, another of God’s amazing creatures

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Answers from the Depths of Ignorance

by Hen Skam on October 22nd 2017

What a great God is our Creator God! Like it tells us in his Word™, he made everything in only six literal days, 6,000 years ago. Then, after planting fake fossils in pre-aged rocks, he found he had a little time on his hands so set about making deadly viruses, pathogens and parasites.

Now, these amazing examples of God’s handiwork didn’t evolve! That would be ridiculous. No, they were made by God just as they are now. So let’s take a look at one special ickle-bitty critter called the ‘Loa loa‘.

You see, this little creature, carefully crafted by our wonderful creator, has an intriguing life-cycle which involves it living for some of the time in the human eye. Once it has burrowed its way in, it quietly eats the eye from the inside, and unless treated with medicine (derived from man’s fallible word, so obviously not recommended) it can render its host blind. It may also lead to early death, but as the Loa loa is found only in Africa, we needn’t worry too much about this. Instead, let’s acknowledge what a blessing it must be to serve one of the Lord’s creations in such a way!

How foolish it is of our atheist friends to think that such an amazing creature could have evolved! There are many more animals like the Loa loa, each and every one of them is the handiwork of the one true Creator God. What an amazing, loving God he is!

 

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s pseudo-scientists.

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Good For Nothing

HamWhere does morality come from? Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis says it can only come from (his) God. Atheists have no grounds for morality, he claims, because, without a God to tell them, they’ve no way of knowing the difference between right and wrong .

As usual, Ham is being creative with the truth. Clearly atheists are as capable of being moral as anyone else. Equally and also evidently, Christians and other brands of believers are capable of deplorable immorality. Hardly a week goes by without more reports of Christians abusing, cheating, lying and killing in Jesus’ name.

Why do Christians act so despicably when, supposedly, they have God’s Spirit inside them – that’s the God from whom all morality flows, according to Ken Ham. Why doesn’t his indwelling Spirit guide Christians so that they always behave morally, or even just considerately?

I don’t have the answer. Perhaps Ken Ham or some other knowledgeable Christian can tell us.

No, morality doesn’t derive from any god. It has evolved, inevitably and like much of our behaviour, from our being social animals. Living in close proximity with other humans has meant we have developed ways of behaving that take these others into account, as well as the repercussions of our behaviour on ourselves.* The principle of treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated is very old – much older than Christianity.

Morality, though, is not absolute and is far from infallible. Non-believers, like the religious, make mistakes and don’t always treat others as they should. But the fact they behave well most of the time is evidence that behaving morally has nothing to do with a god, especially not the capricious, murderous psychopath of the Abrahamic religions.

Ken Ham’s position, and that of other religionists who tell us we have no grounds for morality without such a god, is as offensive as it is absurd.

 

* There are innumerable books that consider our moral evolution; you might like to try Frans De Waal’s Primates and Philosophers; How Morality Evolved or Christopher Boehms’s Moral Origins.

 

My creed (sort of)

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I was asked recently by a good Christian friend, now I’m no longer a believer myself, what I ‘place my faith in’ these days. Despite the claim from some Christians – Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis, for example – that atheism itself is a religion, we atheists generally don’t have ‘faith’ in anything; we are much more interested in knowing, in evidence and in not accepting on trust whatever self-appointed authorities might tell us. Nor do we have ‘faith’ in the ‘goodness’ of man as Christian Voice’s Stephen Green tells me we do. Though we might recognise that the only way to solve the many problems we face is going to be through human endeavour; there is no god who is going to bail us out.

So in these liberating post-Christian days, my world-view differs from my friend’s and other believers’ in a number of crucial ways. This post looks at the first three of these and there’ll be three more next time. Together, these make up something of a creed for me, even if some, like these first three, are expressed as negatives:-

There are no supernatural beings.

There is no empirical evidence that supernatural beings exist. There is, however, plenty of evidence that such ‘beings’ are the creations of the human imagination. It follows from this that are no fairies, ghosts, demons, spirits (holy and otherwise), angels, Santa Claus, Satan, Zeus, Osiris, Baal, Allah, Yahweh, resurrected Christ, or God of any sort ‘out there’.

And, no, books written by human beings are not evidence of the external, independent existence of any of these characters. Such inventions bring us back squarely into the realm of the human imagination.

Neither, as Romans 1:20 claims, is the natural, physical universe evidence of a supernatural realm. To argue that it is is the same as saying that because there is an Athens there must be a Zeus, or that the existence of tea-shops proves Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot must really be orbiting the sun. That which is material, visible and natural can never be proof of something that is invisible, immaterial and supernatural. And in the end, there is no difference between something that is invisible, immaterial, supernatural and unprovable – and that which is non-existent.

Faith is no substitute for evidence (and wishful thinking doesn’t work).

Declarations, statements and views that begin ‘I believe’ are suspect and not to be trusted. They usually mean the person uttering them has no evidence for their belief. Otherwise, why believe? Wouldn’t you ‘know’ if you had evidence? ‘Believing’ does not make the object of your belief a reality. ‘Believing’ that you have eternal life won’t enable you to live forever. Hoping you’re going to Heaven when you die doesn’t mean heaven exists nor will it get you there in the future. Having ‘faith’ in Jesus will not make you right with God for all sorts of reasons. In short, wishful thinking doesn’t work.

Science, not religion, offers the best explanations of life, the universe and everything.

Religionists (wilfully?) misunderstand the scientific use of the word ‘theory’; they insist it is a synonym for guesswork or argue that because some scientific theories, like evolution, cannot be replicated in the laboratory they are therefore null and void (see Answers in Genesis again with its battle cry of ‘were you there [when the world was made]?’ No, and neither was Ken Ham, nor the writers of Genesis, nor any deity; see above). But a scientific theory offers an explanation which can be tested against observable phenomena and processes. It asks ‘is this what we might expect if the theory (explanation) is accurate?’ If yes, the theory is validated, repeatedly. If no, the theory has to be modified to fit the facts or completely reformulated, again so it accurately mirrors what is observed. The scientific principle of actively seeking out evidence that might refute a given theory, or aspects of it, ensures a process that can be trusted. Note though, that having such trust in science is not a matter of faith: it is about considering the evidence and developing knowledge from it.