Sunday, October 25, 2015

Me Blathering with My Mom about Christianity

Recently I had quite the lengthy discussion with my Mom about Christianity. As usual, I don’t know how it came about. It seemed to unfold before me so quickly that I became decidedly assertive in my responses.

Perhaps it started with her telling me that “I should be reading my Bible more” and that “My Biblical understanding was “PITIFUL”. She insisted that I must “Look to God for guidance.”

While I usually brush her suggestions out of my mind and off my shoulders, today I decided to engage. I told her that I have read the Bible. I understand most of the basic premises and doctrines threaded throughout the text. To that, she scoffed and said, “You don’t know anything!” She started laughing uncontrollably. The thought of me merely “thinking that I had a basic understanding of even one verse in the Bible” made her cackle.

I asked her, “Okay then. Please tell me exactly what it is that I don’t know or understand about the Bible. Be precise here. Is it that I don’t understand Salvation enough? Propitiation? Justification? Communion? Baptism? What underlying theme or doctrine do I not understand according to Protestant, Fundamentalist Christianity?

She was hesitant to respond but said, “You don’t understand that Jesus is in every book of the Bible!”

“Let me tell you what I do understand”, I said. “Christians believe that Jesus is symbolically interwoven into every book of the Bible—including most books in the Old Testament.  For instance, in Genesis Christians will suggest that Adam was a “precursor of Christ”…a symbol of Christ. I understand the Christian idea that “Jesus was the second Adam”. Adam’s sin ushered the world into the spiral of sin and damnation. Jesus—the Second Adam—brought the ultimate solution—his act of death on the cross would restore the relationship humans would have with God. Unlike Adam who sinned, Jesus would lead a sinless life. At the end, he would lay down his life as a living sacrifice for the sins of the world. All humans could be reunited with God again. We would now have access to eternal life instead of divine retribution in hell. This is where “free will” comes into play. Humans would have to exert their own free-agency to accept Christ into their hearts in order to be redeemed back to God.
Please tell me what I’m missing here? Yes, I think I understand Christian doctrine…theology.”

 I understand how Christians think and their interpretations of scripture. I took both Old Testament and New Testament Survey in college back in 1999. Remember?

Furthermore, I understand that Christians want to get to the heart of the issue—that Jesus is the centerfold of the Bible—and that everything comes back to him. “It’s not about knowledge and intellect it’s about the state of the heart” Christians will repeat endlessly. Christianity is the only belief system which has “God looking out to man” instead of “Man looking out to God”. I also fully understand this.  I know these basic premises of Christianity but I reject them based on the idea that I first, and foremost, do not see evidence for a God—and certainly not for the Christian God or Muslim God.

 She proceeded to tell me that I should, “Open my heart and stop rejecting God!”

I said, “You’re looking at this the wrong way! I’m not rejecting God or Jesus. I am no longer within the confines of your world-view. I think very differently now. I have a hard time rejecting something that I don’t believe in.”

I could just as easily say “You’re rejecting Mohammed” but to that you would reply, “I don’t believe in Mohammed (and his claims). You see how that works?”
  “Guess what?” My Mom interjected, “Mohammed was a real person and he believed that Jesus was a real prophet of God.”

“Okay then, fine.” I said.
“You’re rejecting the leprechaun who wants you to embrace him.”  Why do you keep on bringing up the subject of Leprechauns?” My mother said, incredulous.  There is no organized, developed system of belief with regards to Leprechauns. There is no text. The Bible has been around for millennia, the beliefs from it have sustained themselves over centuries and it is still one of the most quoted books of all time. It has been influential in many aspects of human history. “Yes”, I agreed. But it still doesn’t mean it is true. Supernatural claims require extraordinary evidence.

The conversation continued until I finally asked her if she would ever be willing to admit that she could be wrong. She insisted “Never. I would never give Satan a foot-hold by allowing the possibility for doubt.” At that point I said, “And that is where we differ. I will admit that I could be wrong. I will always be open to changing my mind.” This is where intellectual humility and honesty starts. If you can’t admit that you could ever be wrong, then…where can we go from here? You are, at the beginning, already asserting that you are right, THAT YOU ARE CERTAIN. The truth is, neither of us can be justifiably certain in our metaphysical positions of reality.

Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm Attending a Christian Women's Book Club

I recently began attending a CHRISTIAN WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB. Three-dimensional, corporeal female friends can sometimes be hard to find and I realized that this was the best I was going to get. My good friend hosts the book club. She is exceptionally intelligent, creative and an extraordinary communicator. She is married, has a degree in Architecture, her husband is a successful Oncologist and she has a two- year old son. Like me, she is pregnant with a baby girl and we both happen to be in the same trimester.

The moment I met her I could see that she enjoyed the pursuit of intellectual discussions, controversial ones…challenging ones. She wasn’t your typical boring woman who would talk incessantly about movies and television shows or “what she did yesterday” or “how funny her dog/cat is”.  She liked ideas. She would discuss world events and hypothesize about their effects. She wasn’t opposed to seeing things from a different angle. Furthermore, she composed herself with kindness and humility and had a “free-thinking” flow to her thoughts.

 I DID NOT introduce myself to her as an atheist, though I did mention that I was “no longer religious”. I didn’t want to excommunicate myself from the get-go.

We became friends almost instantly and have spent time together going to Flea markets or having tea in her kitchen. She is ambitious and has amassed quite the cohort of female friends—many of them pregnant or with young children and all of them are devout Christians.

We are currently studying the book, “The Envy of Eve”. This book exposes a common vice of women: Envy, Covetousness…Jealousy.  The book is written from a Christian woman’s perspective.  The general thrust of the book is that having these negative emotions steals your contentment in life.  The resolution for the negative trait of envy, of course, is to be more appreciative of what you do have. It is harder to let discontentment and jealousy seep in if you remain grateful for the wonderful things in your life—like having two working legs, being able to use your (limited) brain and having clean water to drink.

Abolishing jealousy comes back to mindfulness—approaching situations and navigating your feelings about them by being continually mindful. While feelings of jealousy can be easily aroused it is important to stop and recognize these emotions as they appear…and then dispense of them. Jealousy comes when we are constantly comparing ourselves to the success of others and then feel bitter that we are no where near as successful.

 Of course, this book is written from a theological standpoint and is drenched with scripture verses and the insistence to “stop and pray”. As usual, it seems that prayer and Biblical meditation are the prescriptions for having a jealous, covetous mind-set.

What struck me most about this Christian book study was how practical and useful the message was. From my vantage point as an atheist, I see things like jealousy and covetousness from a psychological or biological perspective and no longer from a Biblical perspective.

A major reason why jealousy exists among women comes back down to our human (biological) desire to find a long-term mate and reproduce with this person. Women can be jealous of other women because they are in competition with other women to secure a long-term partner and push their genes into the next generation.Thus—there are biological—not theological—reasons why women are jealous of other women. Women are also jealous of other women who are more successful in their career than they are. Competition begets jealousy—I think.

Anyways, it will be interesting to learn more from these women at the book club. I will just have to start reading the book. HA!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"Sorry Ladies, there really is a Man Shortage" Article

Just stumbled upon an interesting article:

I posted my own thoughts on this issue (somewhat related) in my most popular blog post (based on # of views) here:


Dating is a Numbers game-- My other blog post

I don't have much more to say on this--well I do--but I'll spare you them today. The only thing I will say is this:

Many young women (under the age of 35) still want to get married (or, at least find a long-term monogamous companion). Conversely, the percentage of young men who wish to do the same is far less. This trend only seems to be getting worse especially as we consider the statistics of who wants to get married in today’s world compared to who wanted to get married in previous decades. 

See additional links below:

Yes, statistics reveal that fewer men want to get married while women's interest in finding a long-term partner (especially as they get older) has increased.

Is it because of the job scarcity for men in America?