Monthly Archives: April 2010

Spare the Children

I was a Christian when I was a child.  Wait, let me take that back.  I was raised in a Christian home, indoctrinated in the Christian faith, and told to do what the bible says.  I didn’t question any of it – I was a child in a Christian environment.  But children are too ill-equipped to become a follower of any religion.

Most of us don’t shop around for religions.  Whatever your parents believed, you probably also believe.  If your government mandates a religion, that is probably what you believe.  If your friends all share a faith, that is probably what you believe.  If you were born in a different country, to different parents, you would probably have a different faith.  Your God didn’t find you.  You are a victim of circumstance.  Probably.  We’ll get to converts in a moment.

First, let’s look at an example of indoctrinating children.  In countries that celebrate Christmas, a lot of children are taught the myth of Santa Claus.  It’s presented to them as fact, even though we know it’s a lie.  The story of Santa Claus is fantastic and full of inerrancy that even children easily pick up on (“So how does a fat guy fit through the chimney?  What if we don’t have a chimney?”) but we continue to lie.  We tell them that Santa has magical powers that allow him to pull off the unbelievable things he does like visiting the entire world in a night and building their toys with a legion of elves.  We tell him that he has to be believed with faith because you can’t visit his home (it’s in the unreachable North Pole) or see him while he delivers his goods (otherwise you won’t get any).  And it works.  Children believe it, because we present it as unquestionable truth.

Eventually, the magic wears off.  As kids grow older we stop lying to them, and they see the reality of mall Santas and Christmas sales.  Their peers don’t believe in Santa.  They realize it was all a lie.  But what if they didn’t?  What if we continued to teach them about Santa and his magic on a weekly basis…  perhaps in a Church of Santa?  What if all their friends were told to respect their faith, because it was sacred and holy?  What if children were raised to believe the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was complete fact?  What if children were told that anyone who confronted their Santa belief was merely testing their faith?

Children are impressionable.  They are programmed to listen and learn, otherwise they’d have a much tougher time surviving.  Anything we teach them will be learned and repeated.  They don’t try to figure out a political affiliation – they share their parents’ views on politics.  They don’t gain racism unless it is taught to them.  And kids will follow the leader when it comes to religion, too.

Religious parents don’t see this as harmful – indeed, if they are to be missionaries to their faith, why not start at home?  Because your children will buy it blindly.  If you are religious and don’t care about children learning your faith, remember that there are many different faiths and children being raised in all of them, being led in a direction you don’t agree with either.  And it’s hard to unlearn.  Kids are lucky enough to disbelieve Santa because we stop peddling it once they hit a certain age.

Now to converts.  It is possible to undo this learning.  When a child reaches maturity (around 18 or so) they can be taught contrary opinions.  It’s common for college professors to “reteach” students’ opinions and even undo propaganda (or teach new propaganda).  College students are impressionable on another level…  they can balance 2 beliefs and find their own.  And I know that they can even come to conclusions without being prodded, as I did.  Nobody taught me to be an atheist – it was just the natural path after my questions about the bible led to doubt and finally to disbelief.  Why believe in a different God when the one I had worshiped my entire life no longer existed to me?  I knew it was possible, even likely, to get fooled a second time.  And I believed I’d been fooled without a single person pointing it out to me.  I was very, very fortunate.

So now I challenge you, the reader, to do the unthinkable – pretend your faith is optional.  Did you know you can actually choose a different religion, or give it up entirely?  There is no faith that has you for life.  I was told “once saved, always saved” but that simply isn’t true…  it’s just a method for trying to retain membership (like the Catholic christening of babies, which I can’t even discuss with a modicum of kindness).

I chose to be an atheist. Once I stopped chasing false hope, stopped trying to cultivate a one-sided long-distance relationship, and stopped feeling guilty about stupid things like private thoughts I found I can enjoy life for what it actually offers.  Real freedom comes with making your own choices.  And if you choose to keep believing what you’ve always believed – that’s okay too.  Just make sure it’s your decision.*

-S Nova

*I know I’m offering an easy way out.  Changing your faith means changing your morals, your routines, your opinions, your life.  It can make you a pariah among your family and friends.  It’s not easy to make a life change.  I hope you don’t just blow this off with a quick “Nope, I’m fine, thank you” just because it’s easy, and actually take the time to consider who chose your belief system.


A Perfect Example

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  9“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:7-11

The bible contains a lot of “wiggle room”.  When it says “ask and ye shall receive” and then goes on to explain that God only gives good gifts, there’s always the inevitable answer to someone who asked and didn’t receive – you didn’t deserve it, God knew what was best for you, you didn’t ask in faith, etc.  There’s always some explanation for how the bible wasn’t wrong, but you were.

So let’s take the imperfection of the human out of the equation for the following experiment into how God doesn’t always follow through on his promises…  let’s look at the life of Jesus.

“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee,” Exodus 20:12

Here is a promise that if you honor your father and mother, you’ll have a long life.  That’s pretty simple and straightforward.  Did Jesus honor his father and mother?  Obviously…  remember, we’re using an example that removes the imperfect human from the consequences.  Did he live long?  At the ripe old age of 33…  no.  All of his disciples outlived him, and they all probably dishonored their parents are one point or another.

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Here is a promise that if you be good to a Jew (any Jew!) that you’ll be blessed.  If you’re mean to a Jew, you’ll be cursed.  Was Jesus blessed?  He was killed for a crime he didn’t commit.  He was insulted by the Pharisees, betrayed by his own people (who still don’t worship him to this day) and put down in this blog.  Sure, he got blessed, but he’s been cursed quite a bit for someone who never cursed a Jew.

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

Here’s the first promise mentioned in this very blog.  It’s not the same verse, but there are plenty of other verses to point to that and all say the same thing (Matthew 21:22, Luke 11:9, John 15:7, John 16:23, Psalm 34:17, Psalm 37:4-5, etc.), that if you ask God for something he’ll give it to you.  It’s the power of prayer.  So how does Jesus fit into this?

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:41-42.

This is an example of Jesus praying, asking not to be killed.  But we all know that he was anyway.  Clearly, you say, he was praying for God’s will to be done and it was.  But if he wanted God to do what God was going to do anyway, why pray about it?  When your flight is delayed, you don’t go to the airline representative and tell them that you want them to keep doing whatever they’re doing no matter how you feel about it…  that’s going to happen without you registering a complaint.  He prayed because he obviously wanted a favor from his Father (a reasonable demand from a man who deserved it) and was denied.  But after all, if your perfect son asked for bread, wouldn’t you give him a stone too?

-S Nova

Holding God to a Standard

Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Christians believe God is without sin.  They worship and adore him, and tell everyone of how great he is.  This is based upon bible scripture, like the above verse.  It is usually spoken to tell a sinner that he/she is a sinner (obviously the first part implies exactly that) but it also tells us that God is sinless (how can someone fall short of God’s glory for sinning if God also sins?)

Matthew 4:1-11 tells the story of Jesus in the wilderness getting tempted by Satan.  Satan tempts him 3 times and Jesus refutes him 3 times with bible scripture, each time pointing out that the action he’s being told to do is sinful and so he won’t do it.  Again, the implication is that God doesn’t sin, not because everything he does is above the law but because he chooses not to sin.

God resides in Heaven (Job 22:12), a place declared to be without sin (Revelation 21:4, 27), therefore he logically cannot commit a sin…  ever (according to scripture).

I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I want it to be clear before someone tries to refute me on this point – God is sinless.  And that’s not because everything he does is automatically above his own rules and laws.  It’s because he holds himself to a higher standard.  If, in fact, he told you to do what he himself doesn’t do, then he would be a hypocrite… and it’s obvious that God despises hypocrisy (but just for good measure check out Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 7:5; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29, and Matthew 24:51 says that there’s a place reserved for hypocrites, and it isn’t Heaven).

Exodus 23:13 makes it clear that you shall not murder.  It’s in the simplest of language, and couldn’t be any clearer – it literally says “You shall not murder.”  Taken out of context?  Exodus 23:12 says “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 23:14 says “You shall not commit adultery.”  These are part of the 10 commandments, and the commandment against murder says simply that.  Numbers 35:16-18 defines several ways to murder (all of them obvious).

Now, while the bible also lists many sins which deserve a death sentence, killing someone simply for any random sin isn’t allowed.  You’re not allowed to kill someone for lying to you, or for stealing from you, or for insulting you.*  For all have sinned (Romans 3:23) so there’s no such thing as a murder victim if you can kill for just any sin.

Genesis 19 tells the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  While the bible justifies the destruction of that city (it does, after all, say homosexual sex is worthy of a death sentence) it doesn’t justify Lot’s Wife being killed by God in verse 26.  She’s turned into a pillar of salt (which is obviously lethal) for looking back at the city.  Why?  For one thing, 2 angels were sent to Lot’s family and they commanded them to flee and “don’t look back”.  For another, many Christians nowadays justify it by saying she must have looked back in pity, and pitying the unjust was her crime.

But the commandment to avoid looking back was given without a warning of death.  God didn’t say (through his messengers, the angels) that it carried a death sentence, and even if it did it certainly could’ve been carried out by his servants (Lot’s family) as it so often was when someone broke biblical law.  Pity is never cited as a sin.  There was no “just” reason for God to commit this murder.

Another example is Genesis 38:6-10.  Judah’s firstborn was put to death by God for “wickedness” of an unknown quality, and then Judah’s son Onan had sex with his dead brother’s wife and he too was put to death.  In this case his death was for practice of birth control, which has never been declared as sinful in the bible.  Even if you take something out of context (such as ‘be fruitful and multiply”) to make it appear sinful,  you won’t find any scripture that says such a sin carries a death sentence.  It doesn’t, except when God is wrathful and kills despite his command not to murder.

In my last blog, I mentioned that touching the Ark of God carried a death sentence.  This was never stated in scripture as a deadly sin, simply that it had deadly results (1 Samuel 6 tells of 70 gentiles killed by God because they looked into the Ark of God and 2 Samuel 6 tells of a jew killed by God simply for touching the Ark because it was going to touch the ground, something that God said shouldn’t be allowed).  This, too, is murder without lawful backing.

What about murder by proxy?  Sure, God commanded Abraham to murder his son Isaac.  He took it back though, because allowing him to kill an innocent person in his name is sinful, isn’t it?  In Judges 11, Jephthah sacrificed his daughter because he swore to God that, if given victory, he’d sacrifice to God the first thing greeting him at his door…  and it happened to be his daughter.  Unlike with Isaac, God didn’t spare her just because she was innocent (or send something else to greet Jephthah!).  He let Jephthah cook her in his name.

There are countless examples then, and more today.  While many Christians take offense at “Act of God” referring to a natural disaster, doesn’t God control these things?  Didn’t he create a world that constantly kills the innocent?  Doesn’t he allow the murder of babies, killed before they can commit their first sin?  You may say that he can’t save all the innocent (Matthew 5:45 – [He] sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous) but that’s just ignoring cases like Noah or Lot where the innocent were spared before God poured out wrath.

And there’s the ethnic cleansing issue again.  Jews (His chosen people) were slaughtered in masses, and God didn’t intervene.  Was it because they were sinful and deserving of death?  Is it because God wasn’t powerful enough to stop it?  Stop apologizing for God.  He’s directly killed many people who didn’t deserve an earthly death, and indirectly killed billions more.  Have you done that?  Would you have done that?  I believe that you don’t fall short of the “glory of God” any more than I do.

-S Nova

*Look up the phrase “put to death” on an online bible lookup (my personal favorite is  You’ll see many, many examples of God putting people to death, and ordering it done.  In compiling this short list of sins not deserving of death, I actually had a tough time coming up with sins that didn’t earn it.

Ethnic Cleansing is Wrong! Always.

Hitler is historically despised.  He tried to wipe out an entire race in his conquest to take over the world.  I don’t think he’s despised for world conquering (after all, Alexander the Great isn’t notorious) but for trying to kill all the Jews.  That’s a pretty evil thing to do, right?  Saddam Hussein also killed many of his own people, the Kurds and later the Shiites.  While he didn’t make it his priority to destroy the entire world’s population of either group, these provoked the first Gulf War and later earned him an execution.

Ethnic cleansing, the violent removal of a group of people based on their race or religion, is pretty universally evil.  It’s a rare find to hear anyone speak in defense of it, and while I found a few pieces on the internet about clearing out minority groups, none of them advocated violence.  A lot of them were acutely opposed to cleansing through killing.  This blog is not in defense of ethnic cleansing of any sort, it is (as it often is) about Christian hypocrisy.

The God of the Old Testament often commanded his chosen people to kill.  While there are several commands about killing for committing crimes against God (worshipping false gods carried a death sentence, for instance) those can at least be shrugged off as simply a strong hand of justice (even if the crimes were rather silly, like touching the Ark of God).  What is simply unforgivable is God’s command to cleanse the promised land, Israel.

Through Numbers and Joshua (the two main books about the Israelites’ original conquest) God repeatedly tells his people to kill everyone they come across, armed men as well as unarmed men, women, and children.  This makes some sense in context – if you want to give your people land and there are already others living on it, they either need to be killed, enslaved, or driven out.  Why not enslaving or driving out, though?  Why murder people whose only crime is coincidentally living on the land you’ve been ordered to seize?

Numbers 31 offers just such a tale of enslavement, where Moses ordered the death of all male Midianites (no surprise, they occupied what would become Israel) and told his men to take the women as sex slaves.  Really.  Verse 18 is where he commands them to take the virgins, and the following  verses describe how they can do it and still not be “unclean” (read: sinful).

Even if these acts can somehow be justified in the context of the bible, why would anyone worship such a God?  He blesses his own people and the hell with everyone else.  Did they choose to be gentiles?  Did God order them to ‘get out’ before sending in his ethnic cleansers?

Where are the Philistines today?  Or the Midianites?  It’s the story of the flood all over again, with God killing everyone he doesn’t approve of.  The God of the New Testament is a God of love (never once killing a group of people, and never did Jesus kill a single person in the name of his father).  But to believe the entire bible is to believe that they are the same God.  I wouldn’t worship Hitler’s or Saddam’s Gods.  Killing in the name of a God wasn’t good then, or now.  It’s evil.

-S Nova

Opinion vs. Fact

You can’t win in the court of public opinion.  Every time you stand trial, no matter what your defense is, somebody will have a problem with it.  No matter what your opinion is, someone will always disagree, and no matter how you defend your opinion, someone will always say you’re doing it wrong.

If your opinion can’t be changed, you are mulish, stubborn, thick-skulled and single-minded.  If your opinion is flexible, you are wishy-washy and bend whichever way the breeze is blowing.

If you back up your opinion on your own expertise, you are biased or bought by a controlling interest.  If you back it up with the expertise of others, you are rehashing, beating a dead horse, and unoriginal.  If you back it up with feelings rather than facts you are an apologist and a bleeding heart.

If you are certain that you’re right then you are holier-than-thou and on a high horse.  If you’re uncertain then you’re ignorant and speaking out of turn.

There is nothing that your peers can’t disagree with, and no stance you can take that they can’t disapprove of.  But even this is just my opinion, as all of my blogs are.

I like to share my opinion.  Although my blogs are free to comment on, none of my readers ever do.  I get readers from Facebook,, and other blogs by way of “related links”…  but no matter what the source, nobody comments.  In a way this is nice – nobody disagrees with me so strongly that they need to share their opinion with everyone that reads my blog.  But it also means that nobody has been thinking about these topics and has something to add that I “left out”.

No matter how you feel about my opinions, at least you should recognize them as such.  While I believe that I’ve made the right call (who doesn’t agree with their own opinions?) I am aware of the difference between opinion and fact, and none of this is fact.  It’s heartfelt, it’s often supported by research or reason, it’s backed up with a lot of faith – but my views are not fact.  They aren’t written in stone, either, and they can be changed.  I’ll always welcome a dissenting or agreeing view, a comment, an added missing idea either for or against.  Maybe someday my opinions may change.

And who knows?  Maybe someday my opinions may become fact… like Greek Mythology (from belief to hoax).

-S Nova

Accepted Socialism

Socialists believe that society is better off if the state controls the wealth and services of that society (to some degree, either completely controlling in the case of nationalizing or generally controlling through laws and restrictions).  We, the people of the United States, believe in Socialism on both a federal and state level – to some degree.

I rent a trailer.  I don’t pay a property tax.  I don’t pay for sewage and water.  I don’t pay anything but rent and utilities.  The town I live in may receive some form of payment from my living here (after all, I assume my landlord pays for sewage and water) but not directly.  However, if my trailer is robbed, I can call the police.  The local police will visit me, take my statement, and probably pursue the robber as much as they can.  What they won’t do is leave me a bill for their services.  Their paycheck is paid by the town, and I’m not a local taxpayer.

If I’m visiting a city and my car is stolen, I can go to the police of that city and file a statement.  Again, they won’t bill me, even though I’m not a resident or taxpayer of their city.

This is Socialism.  The police are owned by the city.  Taxpayers fund them (although in this example not entirely – they hand out fines as well) but anyone in their jurisdiction is welcome to them free of charge.  The same is true of fire departments and public schools.  You can be unemployed and living on a friend’s couch (or on the street) and still be eligible for your locally owned municipal services.  These things are not privately owned.

On the federal level, we have Socialist items like the national military.  You don’t have to be paying federal taxes to get federal protection from the military.  Other examples that come to mind are Social Security and representation in the Senate/House.  These things require money, and they get paid from federal taxes.

Many opponents of Socialism are upset about the idea of paying for nothing…  after all, I pay for Medicare out of my paycheck every week and I’ve never drawn from it.  While it may be unfair at some level that the rich pay for the poor, I believe our society feels that there are certain inalienable rights for all Americans beyond those mentioned in the Constitution – education, justice, and defense (and for some, health care) no matter how poor you are.

The latest debate over health care is who should pay for it and how.  If everyone pays for it, despite how much personal benefit they get, isn’t that Socialism?  I think we’ve discovered that Socialism is acceptable to everyone in one form of another.  However, because of the major dissent from Republicans, the recent bill is not Socialist.  Health care has been made available to everyone now (including the working poor, like me!) and for the most part it will get paid for by everyone except the unemployed, who were already covered under Medicaid before this bill.

Federal ownership of hospitals is Socialism.  Strict control over how hospitals bill patients is Socialism.  Hiring doctors through a government agency is Socialism.  Universal coverage under a federal program is not Socialist – it’s just a new right.  Let’s hope it’s inalienable.

-S Nova

A Premise of Evil

Let’s start this blog with a basic algebra problem…

X = 12

Now, let’s assume that X is 15.  That means that 15 = 12.

Using the Algebraic Properties of Equality, we find that we can add, subtract, multiply or divide both sides by the same number.  So based on the premise that 15 = 12, we divide both sides by 3 to discover that 5 = 4.  By adding 20 to both sides, we find that 25 = 24.  Multiplying both sides by 2 gives us our final answer, that 50 is equal to 48 according to real and verifiable laws of mathematics.

But of course, 50 doesn’t equal 48.  Despite using logical and reasonable steps the whole way, we came to a false conclusion based on a false premise.  You can’t simply insert 15 for X, because X is not 15 in this case.  Wrong assumptions ruined the whole problem.

I’ve heard Obama called a Socialist many times.  This is generally by people who dislike him, and they use the word as slander.  After “googling” Obama and Socialist/Socialism I found not a single article that used the term positively (even when added with words such as ‘good’ or ‘positive’).  I’ve never heard Obama praised for being a Socialist outside of the internet, either.  This is because a growing number of Americans equate Socialism with evil.  Other political theories have also been seen by the majority as evil – including Communism, Fascism, and Nazism – as well as governments like Dictatorships and Theocracy.

What is evil?  The dictionary describes it as morally objectionable or as something that causes harm.  These definitions leave room for individuals and societies to define morals, and change them with time.  For instance, slavery has existed for thousands of years in multiple societies.  It is a lot rarer today as the modern world almost universally defines it as evil.  Two hundred years ago, when our own country was still a part of the slave trade, most of Europe and Asia was also.  Slavery was, at that time, almost universally seen not as evil but rather as just a part of  society.  The same is true about things like drugs, prostitution, and corporeal punishment.  Society defines morals, and this is known as society’s “Zeitgeist”.

Christians define evil by using sin as a standard – if the bible says it is sinful, it is also evil.  I made a case in my last blog that even though the bible concludes that ignoring the holiness of Saturday is sinful, modern Christians don’t see it that way.  I said tradition trumped the bible’s actual words.  What I mean is that even Christians define sin by Zeitgeist.  To take the example of slavery, you’ll find even the bible is filled with plenty of cases where slavery is found to be common and acceptable*.  Another good example is polygamy (marriage to more than one wife) which is never condemned in the bible but commonly practiced in it.

I don’t believe that Obama is evil.  I think that when Obama is called evil “because he’s a Socialist” it is simply because those who do the name-calling immediately recognize that many Americans equate Socialism with evil, and so they know that their listener will probably equate Obama with evil by use of the enthymeme.  Socialism is not necessarily evil.  After all, the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have saved our country from a depression.

I don’t believe Obama’s a Socialist, either.  He hasn’t seized any business for the government – even health care, which was already within the province of our federal government before him.  The latest example of Socialism, the one listed above, was actually committed under the leadership of Bush.  As to whether the Health Care bill was an act of Socialism – my opinions on this are in my next blog.

-S Nova

*For example, the book of Philemon is a letter written to a slave owner named Philemon about taking back his slave Onesimus as a “brother” – suggesting Onesiumus and Philemon are Christians.  There are no words of unkindness or correction for Philemon.  Also common knowledge is that the founding fathers, many of whom were Christian, were also slave owners.