Monthly Archives: March 2015

It’s Transgender Day of Visibility!


And in honour of this day, I’d like to make some depressing states a little bit more visible.

An study based out of Ontario (Canada) found that 20% of trans people had experienced physical or sexual assault due to their gender identity. It also found that 34% were subjected to verbal threats or harassment.

That same study also found that half of trans people were living on less than $15,000 a year. To put this into context, I made $15,000 a year working part time at $12 and hour. To rent a cheap apartment, it would cost between $6000-$9600 a year. Where I live, you’d be lucky to pay the $9600. A years worth of groceries costs about $2400. That’s $12,000 just for food and shelter. Cheap utilities cost another $2400 a year where I live, which brings that total up to $14,400. The rest of that would likely go into transportation costs. This is just barely enough to live on.

That study went on to state that 77% of trans respondents in Ontario had seriously considered suicide, and 45% had actually attempted suicide.

A different study that I looked at focused on how LGBTQ students feel in Canadian schools. It found that 74% of trans students had been verbally harassed about their gender expression.

It also fund that 37% of trans students had been verbally harassed daily or weekly about their sexual orientation.

It found that 68% of trans students had been verbally harassed about their perceived gender or sexual orientation. It also stated that “Trans youth may report experiencing particularly high levels of harassment on the basis of perceived sexual orientation because often trans individuals are perceived as lesbian, gay, or bisexual when they are not.”

Finally, it found that 49% of trans students had experienced sexual harassment in school in one year (either 2007 or 2009).

None of this is okay. Everybody should feel safe and welcome in their country and their school. And everybody should have the same opportunities when it comes to economic security. That’s why today is so important.

http://ontario.cmha.ca/mental-health/lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-people-and-mental-health/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/peter-goffin/transgender-hate-crimes_b_3818530.html?

http://mygsa.ca/setting-gsa/homophobia-transphobia-statistics

http://www.straight.com/news/600-reasons-why-canada-needs-pass-transgender-rights-laws


Parents: Support Your Children


This seems to be something that a lot of parents fail at. I spend a lot of time with people who identify as LGBT to one degree or another, and they all receive different levels of support from their parents. I personally don’t receive much support from my parents. The atheists that I know also receive different levels of support from their parents. Many of the people I know were raised in secular families, so they have no issues, but this is not the case with all the people I know. Even some of the people who prefer not to label themselves aren’t always supported. As such, I know a lot of people whose love for their children is very much conditional. I find this very sad.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your children. When your children turn away from the beliefs that you hold, or when they do something that goes against your beliefs, it is understandable to be afraid for them. But abandoning your children, or neglecting them, or making them feel as though they can’t rely on you, is not a solution to this problem. Be afraid for your children if you must, but love them unconditionally regardless. Hurt your children as little as possible, even if you feel hurt by them. You are their roll model. You are the person that your child should be able to turn to in times of need. I don’t remember the last time I was able to rely on my parents for anything. And I know a lot of people who don’t have the support of their own parents.

As a result of my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I refuse to allow myself the possibility to love them conditionally. I want to be there for any children I have. I want to be the first person they turn to when they need support. If they choose to become theists, or they get into a lot of trouble (these are the only two things I can think of that would genuinely bother me), I’m not going to let that get in the way of my relationship with my children.


Atheism 101: Atheism and the Koran


My last post discussed the Bible. This one will focus on the Koran. So what does the Koran have to say? And why don’t atheists agree with it? Please keep in mind, this post is about the Koran and not about how terrible Islam is. Please do not leave Islamaphobic comments. And, if you are a Muslim and are unwilling to read criticism of your Holy book, please do not read this post (though I’m assuming I’ll have a lot less people automatically jumping to the conclusion that I don’t know what I’m talking about with this post).

For one, non-believers are treated as criminals deserving of death simply for not believing. Sura 2:191 says “You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict thems whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.” Basically this is saying that it is okay to kill non-believers. Now, this isn’t exactly an odd thing for a religious book to say: Deuteronomy 17:2-5 says “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” However, the concept that a person is deserving of death simply for not believing is incredibly problematic. Sura 4:101 parrots the view that unbelievers deserve to be killed. It says “When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.” The act of simply not agreeing with your religion makes us enemies? That’s a scary thought. Though, what’s even scarier is that some people actually agree with this passage. I can’t help but feel that any person who believes that my disagreeing with them makes me the enemy is dangerous, because I don’t know what they might do to me. Sura 5:33 says “Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter.” What constitutes waging war? If this is referring to actual physical attacks, then, while I don’t agree with the methods, I do agree that defending oneself is acceptable. However, I do not agree that anything less than physical attack is deserving of this kind of treatment. The problem with this passage is that it doesn’t clarify what making war means, and earlier passages suggest that simple non-belief is enough to be considered the enemy. Sura 9:29 adds to this concern by stating that “Fight those who do not believe in Allah-until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a states of subjection with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” Basically, attack non-believers for no better reason than because they are non believers, and make them submit to your will and become your slave. Apparently making people believe like this is easier than, I dunno, revealing yourself to the world? Sura 9.123 goes so far as to say “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you.” Really? Kill your loved ones for no better reason than because they don’t agree with you? That seems a bit harsh.

The Koran also has some problematic things to say about the rights of women. In Sura 2:282 it says “Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses.” Basically, women are only half as trustworthy as men. And Sura 4:34 says “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” This is saying that women are created to be the slaves of men. Women are not allowed to be self-sufficient and instead must rely on men, and they must do as the men bid them do. Again, this is not an odd concept for a Holy book. 1 Peter 3:1 says “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” And 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 says “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” The problem with this type of passage isn’t the context, it’s that people still believe it today. People still believe that women should be subservient to men. This is why these passages are a problem.

Like the Bible, the Koran also has some issues with its scientific accuracy. In Sura 12:4 Joseph apparently saw eleven planets in a dream he had. There aren’t 11 planets in our solar system. There are 8 planets and possibly as many as 100 dwarf planets (though there are at least 5). Sura 21:33 claims that the sun floats in an orbit around the earth. We know that this is not true. And Sura 27:61 says that the earth is fixed and does not move. Again, we know this is not true. The earth revolves around the sun. Like the Bible, these are only issues for those who take the Koran literally. However, there seem to be a larger percent of Muslims who claim that the Koran is scientifically accurate then there are Christians who say the same of the Bible.

All of the problems I presented are reasons why atheists don’t agree with the Koran. Thugh the biggest reason is simply that we don’t find the god claim compelling. We do not believe that there is enough evidence to support believing in Allah, just like we don’t believe the Bible provides enough evidence to believe in God.

https://atheistforums.org/thread-5493.html
http://the-militant-atheist.org/quran-quotes.html
https://godkillzyou.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/an-atheist-me-reviews-the-quran/
http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Science/
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/science/long.html


Taxes are not evil. The Rant


Taxes are not evil, taxes are not bad, taxes are not good either. Taxes are a necessary part of being a member of a larger community. Taxes and tithes have existed throughout the ages and, in more recent history, have normally been collected through some form of currency. But there have always been some expectations that you will give back to your community. As our connections to our larger communities have grown more abstract, as a result of our communities swelling into massive cities, and it became simpler to connect with people all over the world, our sense of allegiance and to whom we feel indebted too also changed, as it becomes harder to appreciate how the work of the rest of our community impacts our lives. The most common place this occurs, in my experience, is in how people talk about taxes. “I don’t want no government stealing my money” is an attitude I regularly encounter both in my personal discussions about social policy and all the time on the internet. It’s as though taxes get taken and you never gain any benefit from them.

Now, before anyone bursts out, I understand that for any given system of taxation and the levels of corruption in a system you going to see different effects, and yes, I’m sure there are a few examples scattered around (the most obvious being certain aboriginal communities in North America) where people really don’t see any benefits from paying taxes. Accepting those exceptions doesn’t change a thing as I’m speaking in generalities. We as individuals benefit immeasurably from the social structures around us. With the dawn of enlightenment and the rise of concept of individualism, also came with a disconnection from more communal thinking. So while many benefits arose from that way of thinking (and we still get many benefits) it makes people more willing to think that they are “self made” and have not real conception of the benefits wright from a stable society as they are just assumed. The costs forgotten.

Yet the benefits wrought by a stable society cost a lot of resources and time. Though that cost is nothing compared to if every person had to handle themselves.

For example lets look at roads. Could you imagine a world where every person had to look over their own section of road? Could you imagine every single person having to organize and pay for the little section of road in font of their home to be paved? Assuming everyone on your street were willing to pave theirs? You’d still probably end up with a patch work of roads of various qualities and outside your immediate area you might lack plausible routes, and whole sections of road decay as no one maintains it. And there might be road taxes where people set up tolls to make their money for the roads directly from commuters. Now, of course market effects can take place, and some people will die out and others will succeed, but monopolies, and the resulting extortion, would run rampant and different groups would be able to control great swaths of road, allowing them to charge whatever they like for the use of their roads.

Now imagine that for every utility, water, gas, electricity, you could have any of it or you’d end up getting it from some Baron who has massive control over your area. Sure, you might collectivize to control your own local resources, but then you’re back to having a government. Sure it’s a small government, but you’re probably subsisting whomever runs the community’s organizational effort. You can’t escape the sort of efficiencies you get from controlling and organizing large amounts of resources from the single governing body, and, given human history, that generally means you either have some sort of democracy of changing leaders, or some kind of totalitarian government run by a single person and their immediate power base or some kind of council.

What’s the point of all this rambling? One way or another, unless you go live out in the mountains completely off the grid, you’re going to have to give up some of your resources back to the community you live in. That isn’t a bad thing, that’s the responsible thing to do. Most of you reading this will also lie in democratic countries with something like freedom of speech and the ability to have your voice heard. So if you don’t like something that’s being done in your local government, or you don’t think tax money is being used correctly, well, you’ll need to do something about it. Make some phone calls, and send some letters. Talk with some other people and convince them to do the same. The answer will never really be as simple a raising or lowering taxes, and getting rid of taxes is utterly impossible without dissolving society as we know it.

So next time you hear someone talk about how they don’t like paying taxes or complain about how their tax dollars don’t work exclusively for them, remind them they are not the center of the universe. Remind them that society is not made just for them. Remind them that they gain far more in benefits then they are forced to pay back (thankfully we are not playing a 0 sum game here). So if they don’t like taxes, they would go live out in the wilderness where the fruits of there labour can be hoarded without the “threat” of taxation.

Taxes are not Satan. Although, unlike Satan, taxes do exist.

Withteeth


Do Prayer Spaces Belong on Secular University Campuses?


If so, what should they look like (ie. should they be multifaith or for an individual faith)? And who should pay for them? And what rights issues might be violated by providing them?

If not, why not? What should the religious do if they find they must pray while on campus? And what rights might be violated by not providing them?


That’s Not A Real Feminist Issue


I see this comment made a lot in the comment sections of feminist pages. If a woman says that she was blamed for an accident because she’s a woman and the man who hit her was in the military, people will say “That’s not a feminist issue, it’s an issue with military power.” Yes, it is an issue with military power. People act as if people in the military can do no wrong. People in the military do have privileges that the rest of us don’t have (though I’ll happily keep my lack of military privilege in exchange for not having PTSD). But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also a feminist issue. People don’t automatically assume that the bad driver ahead of them is male. They don’t tell women “you drive like a man” in a mocking tone when they mean “you’re a bad driver.” The perception that women are bad drivers because they are women is a feminist issue because the assumption is sexist and leads people to treat women differently than they treat men.

Likewise, other “not real issues” are in fact real issues, and they really are important if we want to create a world that is equal for everybody. Men taking up to much space is a real issue. Why? Because your dick does not need so much room that you get to take up two seats worth of space while I’m forced to squeeze into half a seat. I used to ride the train for an hour to school and an hour back home again 5 days a week for two years and yes, I did experience this issue. Transit seats are already too close together. On a full train, I’m already forced to sit of stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers. When I have some asshole sitting next to me putting his leg over the line dividing his seat from mine, that’s infringing on my space. And it’s something men do. Don’t believe me? Go take a ride on a bus or a train and look around. Most of the women will have their legs crossed and their arms resting over their laps. Why? Because women are taught from a young age that this is polite and this is how ladies sit. The men, however, will often have their legs spread out crossing the line dividing their seat from another, regardless of whether or not someone else is sitting in the seat. Men and women also behave differently regarding where they put their bags and how they talk to their friends on transit. Women put their bags on their lap unless they are too big. Men almost always put their bags between their legs, which is often in the way of people getting on and off. Men shout over top of people to continue talking to their friends, but women generally stop talking if they are separated from their friends in the train or bus. So why is this a feminist issue? Because it’s a matter of entitlement. Men feel entitled to the space even if they are negatively affecting someone else to use it. Women feel as though they must make themselves small so as to have as little effect on others as possible. This is how we are raised, and it is a problem. Men shouldn’t feel entitled to the space other people are in, and women shouldn’t feel as though they should disappear in order to make room for others.

Are these minor issues? Yes, but that doesn’t mean they have no roll to play in larger issues. The same issues that lead grown men to not realise how much space they are actually taking also play a role in the “boys will be boys” attitude that people use to ignore a boy’s aggression and in the belief that men can’t control themselves when women dress provocatively. It’s all the same issue of “men are aggressive wild beasts that need to be tamed” that hurt both men and women. And the military privilege is much the same. Women in the military are treated like infiltrators who shouldn’t be there. The privilege is mostly enjoyed by men because they fit the strong warrior trope that all men are supposed to fit (even if they actually don’t). So yes, these are real feminist issues. They are feminist issues because they are yet more privileges that men get to enjoy that are denied to women. They are feminist issues because they help create a world of inequality. And they are feminist issues because size doesn’t matter when it comes to inequality. If something is unequal, it’s unequal. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a little bit unequal. And it doesn’t matter if other people have it worse elsewhere. African women being raped because they want to go to university doesn’t mean that the inequality I face here doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. My inequality is still inequality. To say otherwise is to allow systematic inequality to persist. And small issues add up to create major issues. Personally, I’d rather deal with them while they are small.

Oh, and I can oppose that rape of African women, and other major inequalities faced by women, at the same time as I oppose the minor issues. So why would I have to pick one or the other? To say I should ignore minor inequalities because they are small is beyond ignorant. So, before you use the “that’s not real feminism” line, actually think about the issue. Think about what the person is saying about it, listen to their reasoning, and think about how that issue can play into other issues. And stop telling me that my experiences and my issues don’t matter.


What Atheist Conferences are You Looking Forward Too?


The Atheist Conference season has started. From March until September hundreds of Atheist Conferences will be taking place (of course there are conferences that happen throughout the year, but this is when most of them take place). For those of you who intend to go to a few of them (or just one), which ones do you intend to go to? Why did you pick that one, or those ones? And why do you want to attend them, or attend conferences in general?

This year I will be attending Gateway to Reason in St. Louis and Secular Women Work in Minneapolis. I chose those two because Gateway to Reason has a lot of speakers and was relatively cheap, and Secular Women Work is a new conference that looks well worth supporting. I go to conferences to meet people and to go some place that I wouldn’t otherwise go to. Those two will be the fourth and fifth Atheist Conferences I will have attended (followed by TAM, INR4, and LogiCon).


On Mental Health


Lately my mental health has been poor. I’ve been over-stressed because I had 4 assignments due and a midterm all last week, both of my clubs are struggling due to campus-wide apathy, and I haven’t yet recovered from the stress caused by the conference in February. All of this came together in my being unable to deal for the last little while. As such, I thought it would be a good time to talk about mental health.

In an event I attended today, we talked about how different things are in different communities, namely the queer community in my city, compared to mainstream society. I don’t know how things work in other places, but queer communities are generally meant to be safe spaces. As such, a lot of really personal information gets shared that you wouldn’t hear about in mainstream society. For example, mental health isn’t really discussed in mainstream society, or, if it is, it’s generally discussed in a “we must end the stigma” kind of way. People don’t generally sit down and talk about their mental health. But mental health is a much bigger deal in queer communities. Where in straight society (ie. groups with mostly straight cis people, or classroom settings, etc.) it is difficult to determine if anybody else has a mental illness, in queer communities you can almost assume that 1/4 to 1/2 the people there have some sort of mental illness. In fact, LGBT people are more likely to have a mental illness than straight people: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201124355.htm, http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/. In my community, it is common for people to talk about their mental health very openly. Everything from who has the same psychiatrist to what medication people are on to who had the latest break down gets talked about. It’s not a taboo subject, and everybody feels safe because we have created a safe space. To a lot of us, this is normal. We find it more odd that other people don’t talk about mental health so openly. Especially since hiding mental health issues is very damaging.

I wish mainstream society would adopt this openness with talking about mental health. I wish people stopped seeing mental illness as a taboo and started seeing it as a part of life. That’s what it is: something that some of us have to deal with while simultaneously leading ordinary lives. Mental illness isn’t scary until it’s not dealt with, and it isn’t allowed to be dealt with in a society that tries to hide it. But it’s just another part of life when it is dealt with. When it’s dealt with, it can be lived with.

So talk about mental health. Make it something that can be talked about. Make it something that’s okay for your loved ones to talk about, especially if you suspect they might be dealing with an undiagnosed illness. Create the safe space required for everybody to feel okay about who they are, and to seek the help they may need. And don’t be afraid to share your own stories, or your own issues. Even if your family and friends don’t understand, someone will. And talking about it helps those who don’t suffer from mental illness to understand what you’re going through. It can be tough to come out and share your story, but it’s worth it.


There Is More Than One Interpretation of the Bible


So why do so many people assume there is only one?

Whenever I make any post on the Bible, I inevitably get a ton of responses telling me that I don’t understand and I’m misinterpreting what the Bible says. I even get this from atheists. To a certain degree, this is amusing, but mostly it’s just annoying.

Yes, I understand that Christians are taught one interpretation, and they are taught that theirs is the only true interpretation, but they still need to understand that others disagree with them. As to you atheists out there who react the same way the Christians do: why do you think that yours is the proper interpretation? You may want to think about this before you cry “you don’t understand.”

I say this as a historian. The Bible was written thousands of years ago. We are able to get a basic understanding of the Bible, and we can determine it’s relevance in the modern world, but it has been translated so many times and into so many languages that even scholars who study the Bible debate proper translation and meaning of various parts of the Bible. I’m not saying that I know exactly what the Bible is saying, and I’m not saying that my version is right, but I am saying that these attacks of “you don’t understand” are misplaced and show there own level of misunderstanding. I’m not a Biblical scholar, and I don’t trust my own knowledge of the Bible to criticise it without help, so I got help in that area. Thus why I add sources when I discuss the Bible: I want to know that people who have looked deeper into the Bible than I have are asking similar questions.

I’d also like to point out that, while I do look to others to double check my issues, I’m also reading the Bible for myself without anybody telling me how to interpret one thing or another. I double check my criticism to make sure that I’m not completely off base, but my criticism is also based on what the Bible means to me. Again, this will not be perfect, but I am putting in the effort. So instead of attacking me and making assumptions about my understanding, my knowledge, or my intentions, do you think that you could actual read what I’m saying, take my words at face value, think about them for a day, and then tell me why you disagree rather than simply telling me I’m wrong or accusing me of things? That would be much appreciated.


Atheism 101: Atheism and the Bible


Atheism 101

This post is a long one, which is why it has taken me so long to write it. Please bear with me.

Atheism and Christianity are often viewed as being at odds in the west. They are seen as at war with one another. A lot of this seems to be caused by the theists’ inability to imagine how anyone could not believe in their god, and a lot of it comes from the fact that atheists are actively fighting to create a place for themselves in Western society. However, some of it is caused by how atheists view the Bible.

It is not uncommon for atheists to hear comments like this:
“Recently, I have had a lot of conversations with atheists. Many express a strong hatred of God. I have been at a loss to explain this. How can you hate someone you don’t believe in? Why the hostility? If God does not exist, shouldn’t atheists just relax and seek a good time before they become plant food? Why should it matter if people believe in God? Nothing matters if atheism is true.”

This is a gross misunderstanding of how atheists view the Christian God. For one, criticizing God is not the same as hating God. It is merely saying that the things this God does are not good things. For another, it is possible to criticize someone who you do not believe to be real. For example, In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel’s favorite author turns out to be a very rude and cynical man. It is perfectly fine to criticize him for being a jerk to two teenagers who are dying. However, saying that he’s a jerk does not mean that you believe he exists. The same can be said of God. I can say that the things God does in the Bible are terrible without actually believing that he exists. There is also the misunderstanding of how much Christianity actually affects the atheists who are criticizing God. There seems to be this assumption that we are just looking for reasons to hate Christianity. This is not the case. Atheists don’t just “relax and seek a good time” because we do not live in a vacuum. Believe it or not, your actions affect us. And your actions are influenced by your beliefs. You think the Bible is against homosexuality? That affects your belief that homosexuality should be illegal. That means that you believe that your religious views should be imposed on everybody regardless of whether or not they are a member of your religion. Same with the view that abortion is wrong that is caused by your belief that all people are made in the image of God. If your actions come from your religious views, and your actions involve imposing your beliefs on others through the creation of laws, then you are affecting the lives of others. As a result, we must fight to hold on to the right to be free from your religion. And no, atheists do not believe that nothing matters. Atheism is not synonymous with nihilism (more on this later).

A lot of Christians are curious about how to convince an atheist that God exists. They will ask questions like “What if I can logically prove that God exists?” The biggest problem with these logical proofs is that you must come up with a clear definition of exactly what you mean by “God” before you can go anywhere. A lot of philosophical arguments that go out to prove that God exists assert that they show the Christian God exists, but, in reality, they can only show that a god exists. That is, provided you find them convincing. Some Christians may reply to this by saying “Everyone already knows that when I say ‘God’ I mean the Christian God!” But this is definitely not the case. There are many different religions that exist that have very different ideas of what a god is. And even how many gods there are. And even if everybody did know that you meant the Christian God, that doesn’t mean that they know what you mean when you say “God.” Christians often disagree about what God’s personality is. Is he wrathful or loving? Does he hate homosexuality or does he not care? Does he send people to hell for not believing in him or not? How is your God defined? An atheist might not know what you mean when you talk about God because they may have a very different conception of God than you do. At this point, it is necessary to define what “God” means. I find that a lot of people ask us what we mean when we say “God.” As atheists, this is a difficult thing to define. There are many different types of gods, and I don’t believe in any of them. So what do I mean? I mean a large number of things: creator of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient creature, intelligent cause of morality above humans, superhuman agent with magical powers, etc. Really, my definition changes depending on who I’m talking to. But atheists aren’t the only ones who need to define what they mean by “God.” Just because you say you’re a Christian, that does not mean that I know what your definition of “God” is. You too must define your terms before we can take the discussion any farther. Once we have our definitions known, then a person can attempt to logically prove that God exists. Many of the current logical arguments for God do not define what they mean by God, so, even if they could logically prove that a god existed, they wouldn’t be proving that their god existed. Take the Kalam Cosmological argument, for example. This argument does not define which god exists, so, even if you take the argument as true, we’re still left with the question “which god?” As far as I’m concerned, even after centuries of philosophical arguments, there are no convincing logical arguments for any god’s existence. This leads a number of theists to conclude that we could never be convinced that gods exist, and that we are just determined to not believe. This is not true. Our having not yet been convinced does not mean that we can never been convinced. However, being as we think we’re right, we don’t think we will ever be convinced. However, this is irrelevant to the Bible itself.

So why don’t atheists agree with the Bible. I find this to be the most important question to focus on, because this seems to be what confuses Christians the most where the Bible is concerned. The reasons why we don’t agree with the Bible is because we don’t think it’s accurate. In Genesis 1:16 it said that God made two great lights. The greater light is said to govern the day and the lesser light is said to govern the night. God is then said to have made the stars. God apparently set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth. However, we know that the stars would have given light to the earth immediately, even though the closest star beyond our sun, Alpha Centauri, is 4.3 light years away. The light we see from the nearest galaxy to our own, Andromeda Galaxy, takes 2.2 million years to reach earth. That fact alone debunks the argument that the earth is only 6,000-10,000 years old (assuming you’re a creationist). It doesn’t take much to realise that this bit of the Bible is not accurate. But the scientific inaccuracies aren’t the only reason why atheists do not agree with the Bible. In Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 the trees are said to have come before Adam, but Genesis 2:4-9 says that the trees came after Adam. If the Bible is simply a metaphor, then this bit can be explained away as holding some deeper meaning. But if it’s not, if this was actually meant to have happened, then these inconsistencies are a real problem. Did the trees come before or after Adam? Genesis 1:20-21 and 26-27 says that the birds were created before Adam, but Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 says they were created after him. Genesis 1:24-27 says that the animals were created before Adam (because apparently birds aren’t animals?), but Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 says that the animals were created after Adam. Genesis 1:26-27 says that Adam and Eve were created at the same time, but Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-22 says that Adam was created first and Eve came sometime later. As a kid, I never learned the “they came at the same time” story. We were only ever taught that Adam came first and Eve was created from his rib because Adam felt lonely. This is a problem to me. Ignoring the inconsistency seems more problematic than addressing it, because it comes across as dishonest. And why go with that narrative. The “created at the same time” narrative seems far less problematic. Than again, if you want to tell women that they aren’t the equals of men, it makes far more sense to go with the story where women were only created to support men. On top of inconsistencies, there are also bit within Genesis that simply don’t make sense. In Genesis 1:31 God is said to be pleased with his creation but at Genesis 6:5-6 God was not pleased with his creation. So which is it? And how can an all knowing, all powerful God create something that they aren’t pleased with? And at Genesis 2:3 God is said to have blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. But in the Christian religion, God is generally said to be omnipotent. What did an omnipotent being require rest for? Genesis 2:16-17 says that God said to Adam that he was free to eat from any tree in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would God place temptation in front of two essentially naïve children? And why would he allow them to be tempted by the serpent? If God is all knowing, then he would have to know about the serpent and what it was planning or doing.
Genesis 3:1 says that the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals, and he told Eve that she could eat from any tree in the garden, including the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A talking snake is bad enough. But why would God bother creating the snake to be clever enough to trick the humans? Was he intending for the snake to trick them?
The Noah’s Ark story has its own set of problems. To begin with, according to Genesis 7:6, Noah was six hundred years old when the flood waters came down. And Noah entered the Ark with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives to escape the waters of the flood. So…eight people who were hundred of years old in the Bronze-Age built a ship the size of a football stadium with only felled trees and pitch? And they fit two of all the worlds animals on it? How did that work? In Genesis 6:19 it says that Noah was to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Genesis 7:19-20 states that the waters covered all the high mountains under the entire heavens. The waters apparently rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. According to science, constant, planet-wide, rainfall at the rate of 6 inches per minute or 360 inches an hour for 40 days and 40 nights would be required to cover Mount Everest under 22 feet of water. How did Noah even measure this for the record? And where has all of the water gone since? Then, in Genesis 8:8, Noah is said to have sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. Why did Noah require a dove to find land if he were able to speak to God to find out the state of the planet? At Genesis 8:15-16 God ordered Noah to leave the ark with the animals so they could multiply on the earth. When the ark landed, what did the carnivores eat? Creationists often tell us that the animals were all herbivores in the garden, but, after the fall, the meat eaters began to eat meat. This suggests that they must have been carnivores before they got on the ark. So what did they eat? And vegetation would have been destroyed by the flood, so what did the herbivores eat when they landed? God then tells Noah and his family to “be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 9:1. So…eight people of middle-eastern descent had children through incest and produced over 5,000 of today’s ethnic groups in a few hundred generations? How did that work? Later, in Genesis 9:20, Noah is said to have planted a vineyard, then he drank some of the wine and became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Why would the supposedly only guy worth saving spend his latter days drunk and naked? And why would this be worth cursing his son’s family over.

The Old Testament isn’t the only part of the Bible with problems. According to Matthew 1:20, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” This sounds like Joseph and Mary got married and had sex, then Mary got pregnant. It’s not so much that Mary was a virgin as it is that God blessed their child. But in Luke 1:28 it says that in the sixth month, God sent Gabriel to Nazareth to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin was Mary. Gabriel went said to Mary “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” So, in this scenario, Mary is a virgin who is not yet married, and the angle speaks to her directly. So who did the angle speak to first? And was Mary an unmarried virgin or not? The virgin bit is further confused when Isaiah 7:14 says that God will give a sign in the form of a virgin conceiving and giving birth to a son named Immanuel. And Matthew 1:23 says the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son named Immanuel. This is interesting because the Greek Septuagint, which Matthew used, translates as “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” but the Hebrew word “almah” means “young woman of marriageable age,” not a virgin. So was Mary a virgin or just a young woman about to marry?

And what about the trip to Bethleham? Luke 2:1-3 says that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. Why would the Emperor bother with a census? And why would they make everyone go back to their home towns if they didn’t still live in them? And why doesn’t Matthew mention the census Jesus’ birth is also questionable. In Matthew 2:11, it says that upon coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. But Luke 2:7 says she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Which is it? Was Jesus born in a house or a barn? In Matthew 2:1-2 it says that after Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” But Luke 2:15 says as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. So was it magi or shepherds who went to meet the baby Jesus?
What about righteousness? In Genesis 7:1 it says that God said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.” And Job 2:3 says that God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Likewise, Luke 1:6 says that both of them [Zachariah and Elizabeth] were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. James 5:16 says confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 1 John 3:7 says do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. But Romans 3:10 says “There is no one righteous, not even one.” So there are righteous people, but no one is righteous? What about Jesus’ crucifixion? Mark 15:25 says it was the third hour, and they crucified him. But John 19:14-16 says it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. So when was he killed?

These aren’t the only Biblical passages that lead people to question the Bible, but, as you can see, the accuracy of the Bible is questionable. You could argue that the inconsistencies are some kind of metaphor, but what is the metaphor? And why use a metaphor? But, if you think that the Bible is truly the inerrant word of God, how do you explain these inconsistencies? And why should I believe that the Bible was written as anything other than a fable created by people given the evidence that I have?

According to an article written by Chris Hallquist:
“One place where it’s worth saying a little more, though, is the issue of the historical reliability of the Bible. Or at least the New Testament. It seems that most people have gotten the word that the books of the Old Testament…may well have been written centuries after the events in them supposedly happened, so they’re not really historically trustworthy.
Many Christians, though, seem to just assume that the New Testament is historically reliable…It’s as if they expect atheists to agree, without any argument, that the Bible can be trusted.
“So let me say this very clearly: the vast majority of non-Christians…don’t regard the Bible as historically reliable…
“The Bible is divided into books. The majority of these books were actually inherited by Christianity from Judaism, and Christians call them the ‘Old Testament,’ though Jews don’t like that term. The books specific to Christianity are called the ‘New Testament.’
Different groups of Christians disagree about which Jewish books should be accepted into the Bible, but pretty much all Christians agree on the same twenty-seven books for the New Testament. The first four of these are the gospels, accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The next book is the book of Acts, an account of the early Christian church. After Acts are twenty-one letters, or epistles, attributed to leaders of the early church. And finally, there’s the famously weird book of Revelation.
“Nobody knows exactly when these books were written, but they’re generally dated to the first century A.D. on the Christian calendar. Since some people have misconceptions about the Christian calendar, here’s how it’s supposed to work: the year 1 B.C. was supposed to be the last year before Jesus’ birth, while the year 1 A.D. was supposed to be the first year after Jesus’ birth. There was no year 0…
“There are some problems with this. First, it’s generally thought that Dionysius Exiguus, the monk who came up with the B.C./A.D. system in the 6th century, he was a bit off in adding up the years. Second, outside of conservative Christian circles, it’s generally recognized that the gospels give inconsistent information about when Jesus was born. Still, it’s generally thought that Jesus was born within a few years of 1 B.C/1 A.D. So to say the books of the New Testament were written in the first century A.D. is to say they were written within 100 years or so of Jesus’ birth…
“It’s generally thought the books of the New Testament, in addition to having been written in the first century A.D., are the oldest surviving Christian writings. That is not to say Christians wrote nothing else in the first century, just that none of those other writings survived. Now that may not be quite right—there may be a little overlap between when the last books of the New Testament were written, and when the earliest surviving non-Biblical Christian writings were written—but it’s probably at least close to being right, close enough for our purposes.
“In addition to not knowing exactly when the books of the New Testament were written, we don’t know who wrote most of them. Certainly they were not all written by the same person. The gospels were traditionally attributed to apostles or companions of apostles, but this is widely doubted among mainstream scholars today. The authorship of most of the epistles is seriously doubted by mainstream scholars, but most scholars are confident that a number of the epistles attributed to the apostle Paul really were written by him.
“A final important point about basic New Testament scholarship is that the books of the New Testament were almost certainly not written in the order in which they appear in modern Bibles. In particular, even though the gospels appear first, they were very likely written after Paul’s (authentic) epistles: Paul’s maybe wrote in the 50′s, while there’s a good chance the gospels weren’t written until the 70′s or later (but again, we don’t really know).
“Now, in Christianity, usually when you hear someone called an “apostle” it means they were a follower of Jesus during his life. But Paul claimed the status of apostle based on his claim that Jesus had appeared to him after his death and supposed resurrection.
“So Paul’s (authentic) letters may be a good source of information about the early church as Paul knew it, if you take into account that Paul was taking a side in fights within the early church and that may have distorted his reporting. But Paul was not an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, and in fact says very little about the life of Jesus. That means that, in the eyes of almost all informed non-Christians, and may more liberal Christian Biblical scholars, the Bible contains no eyewitness reporting on Jesus’ life…
“The authors of the New Testament could easily have been just writing down legends about Jesus, and there’s good reason to think in many cases they were. The accounts of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke, for example, are both outlandish and hard if not impossible to reconcile with each other.
If you want a good introduction to how informed non-Christians, as well as many Christians, view the Bible, I strongly recommend Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman’s book Jesus, Interrupted. (Ehrman has written many excellent popular books on the Bible, but I’d start there.) But here, my goal is just to get you to understand that when Christian apologist Josh McDowell calls it an “obvious observation” that the New Testament is historically reliable, he looks completely ridiculous to anyone with a basic knowledge of Biblical scholarship.”

I added this large section of Chris’s work because I hear quite regularly that the Bible is historically accurate, and that no historians question the accuracy of the Bible. I also hear that the Jesus story is historically accurate (which is funny given that history classes don’t teach about miracles). I don’t know where the apologists who make these claims get them, though I’d imagine that they get them from something not made for thinking. However, I can guarantee that it is a lie. There is no historical event from ancient history that all historians are in agreement on. To suggest that all historians agree on the accuracy of the Bible is the first clue that the claim is a lie. The second clue is that it isn’t one typically made by historians (I know of an “historian” who has made this claim, but he has also been discredited as a historian for plagiarism). This is the second clue that the claim is a lie. In fact, as a history student, I’ve heard more historians, including Christian ones, discuss the inaccuracies of the Bible then I have heard making claims about the accuracy of it. So, before you go claiming that all historians accept the Bible as historically accurate, please do some research. The book listed above is a good place to start. As are some of Bart’s other books. And you can also look into Richard Carrier, another historian who focuses on the historicity of Jesus. Thomas L. Thompson, Kathleen Kenyon, John Dominic Crossan, Ed Parish Sanders, all of whom are Christians and Biblical Scolars, and William G. Dever.

Before I finish this very long post, I have one more bit to add. While doing the research for this post, I came across an awesome plea from a young atheist to Christians. Here it is:
“I have read the bible from cover to cover. How many people can actually say that? I will admit that I have forgotten many of the small details and even some of the major events, but at one time my eyes did glaze over the entire thing.
“At school, I once had a girl in my class ask why I knew so much about Christianity. When I told her, she was astounded that an Atheist knew anything about her precious little religion, and could not bring herself to find any reason at all that I could be capable of not believing in her god, had I read all of his wondrous miracles in the bible.
“What is considered a wondrous miracle anyway? I’ll admit that the ability to turn water into wine is pretty cool, but it seems like that should be a magical spell in some Harry Potter type book with an alcoholic wizard.
“And then there is Kings 2: 23-24 ‘And he went up from thence unto Bethel: 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. 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.’
“I guess if you are the bald man, the death of those who made fun of you for something you can’t help is a miracle, but it really isn’t fair to the kids. The reason we cannot even legally drink until we 21 is because children’s brains are not even totally developed until they are 21. God made us right? He is all knowing… so doesn’t he know they were just using their underdeveloped child brains to make the stupid decision of making fun of a chosen one of God? I mean, if anything, it is God’s fault that they made fun of the man. He made them to have underdeveloped brains!
“This is just one example of the many absolutely insane things that are written in the bible. I promise you that the language the bible is written in was made to bore, but if you want a violent story or just a little comedy, you can find it in your bible.
“But back to the original question of how I can read about the wondrous miracles of God and be an Atheist. It’s easy, all I had to do was actually read the miracles, and after reading them I don’t know how anyone could be Christian knowing what they say they think is true.
“So I encourage you to go out, whoever you are, whatever religion you are: read about your own religion, and read about someone else’s too. Maybe you will realize that you have wasted years listening to someone scam for your money, or maybe you become convinced that you have found the true answer. But at the very least, you will know a little more about the world. As the motto goes, knowledge is power.”

Atheists are often accused of not reading the Bible and of not understanding it. This gets very annoying very quickly. No, not all atheists read the Bible. In fact, most don’t. But most Christians don’t either. So accusing atheists of not doing something that most Christians don’t do is hypocritical. If I can’t know that I don’t believe in God until I’ve read the Bible, how can a Christian know that they do believe in God if they haven’t read the Bible? But it’s also a silly assumption to make. After all, a lot of atheists read the Bible despite the fact that they aren’t Christians and it makes no difference to their lives. This trend is why I added this last bit to my post. First, I want to point out that, yes, I can know I’m an atheist without reading the Bible. Second, it is hypocritical to charge atheists with not reading a book most Christians don’t read, especially when it is a book that has more relevance to Christians then to atheists. And third, the fact that I interpret the Bible differently than you do doesn’t mean my interpretation is less valid than yours. Please stop telling me that “I just don’t understand.” Maybe I understand better than you do. Or maybe we’re both wrong. Your assumption that you are right is not proof that you’re right, and the fact that you think it’s true and I disagree isn’t proof that I’m wrong.

http://creation.com/atheist-god-hate
http://infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/intro.html
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2012/07/why-atheists-dont-think-the-bibl-is-historically-reliable/#ixzz3RgU6uRxE
http://www.atheismresource.com/2011/hey-christian-read-bible-15-year-atheist-christian-school-speaks-out
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_the_Bible


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