“The universe gives back what we send out.” “Everything happens for a reason.”
These are among the most widely repeated dogmas of New Age thought.
I propose a simple test of the validity of a philosophy such as this.
If you would be ashamed to express your philosophy to someone who has lost a child in a tsunami, then it’s probably immoral… and false.
[Excerpts from my guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]
From the 2014 film Heaven is Real, based on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent about their 3-year-old son Colton’s NDE tale.
The University of Michigan made the stunning announcement this past week that the “near-death” experiences so many people have isn’t really Jesus calling us home. It’s our brain trying to kill us:
Excerpts from Mandisa Thomas’ essay yesterday for CNN. She delivers a much-needed message.
African-American atheists represent a small but growing segment of American atheists at large.
Most blacks, though, identify as religious, and the church is intricately tied to tradition, history and culture.
I am atheist — and I am black.
Yes, we exist — even if many in the media sometimes don’t notice us. In a CNN special that aired on Tuesday, for example, people of color were not as well-represented as American atheism’s more familiar face: You know, white males.
In fact, African-American atheists represent a still small — though growing — segment of American atheists at large…
Most blacks identify as religious. Belief in God is touted with pride, and the church is intricately tied to tradition, history and culture. It is not uncommon to assume that I attend services as a black woman. The question often isn’t if I go to church — it’s where. And even if one doesn’t go to church, surely they still have faith — because our people have endured and overcome so much hardship that it had to be the work of a god… It can be extremely difficult to discuss religion objectively in the black community. Many have social, emotional and financial stakes invested in this institution, so for one to even say they have doubts is like committing treason. Continue reading
[Excerpts from my guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]
By Bo Gardiner
They’re baaaaaaackkkk… those smarmy Christians and evil atheists have returned to your neighborhood theater! Pure Flix’s Do You Believe? opened yesterday in theaters nationally to the same critics-hate-it/audiences-love-it response that their film God’s Not Dead received last year.
You may remember… my atheist-annotated trailer for it:
Do You Believe?’s predecessor God’s Not Dead was a disturbing collection of clichéd anti-atheist caricatures and American Christian persecution fantasies. Pure Flix marketed it well; thousands of churches held special screenings, and an online store sells GND shirts, hats, keychains, bracelets, window decals, and souvenir cups.
Did the filmmakers tone it down after hearing our criticism that GND encouraged divisive hatred and bigotry? With God’s Not Dead earning over $100 million worldwide on a $2 million investment, what do you think?…
At “punishingly preachy.” Comparing it to what he calls “the lunacies” of God’s Not Dead, which he describes as “pretty awful — a frequently ridiculous stew of straw man arguments, stacked decks, an overwhelming persecution complex,” he calls Do You Believe? “so ridiculously ham-fisted that it almost makes its predecessor seem reasonable and open-minded by comparison.” Of this new crop of the godless, Sobczynski says:, Peter Sobczynski describes Do You Believe? as
… the most grotesque of the bunch [is an] EMT [who] proselytizes to a dying accident victim instead of doing his actual job and winds up being sued for everything he has by the secular humanist widow and her money-loving, religion-hating lawyer… The lawyer, by the way, is married to a cynical doctor… who refuses to believe in miracles and, in one especially astonishing scene, gets irrationally upset at the sight of a couple saying grace before eating…
Subtle as a sledgehammer to the toes and only slightly more entertaining…
I quite like this guy, who surely deserves his place on the film criticism website that bears the name of the much-missed (atheist) Roger Ebert.
Jordan Hoffman at The Guardian had a similarly intelligent reaction:
It’s a fascinating look at the persecution complex many evangelical Christians feel…
Variety‘s Scott Foundas is equally blunt:
… “Do You Believe?” is agitprop plain and simple, less interested in varieties of religious experience than in proffering the old televangelical/tent-revival assurances that faith will not just save your soul but also cure cancer, PTSD and whatever else ails you… “Do You Believe?” proves about as spiritually enlightening as a Kmart throw rug.
Even the Salt Lake Tribune calls Do You Believe? “preachy,” with “heavy-handed dialogue, thinly drawn characters” and “bad writing” that takes
… predictable shots at family planning clinics, humanists and even science — with Sean Astin, as a cynical ER doctor, designated as the rationalist a-hole…
Several reviewers shared my sense of Do You Believe?‘s unpleasant racial overtones…
[For the full piece, see my latest guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]
by Bo Gardiner
[To read my entire post, go to The Friendly Atheist.]
Charisma News is praising a video in which families of murdered Egyptian Christian Copts thank ISIS for making martyrs of their loved ones. In it, a smiling man named Beshir who just lost two brothers to ISIS chats with an audience and callers:
Beshir: ISIS gave us more than we asked… ISIS strengthened our faith… I thank ISIS because they didn’t cut the audio when they screamed declaring their faith. Believe me when I tell you that the people here are happy and congratulating one another. They are not in a state of grief but congratulating one another for having so many from our village die as martyrs.
Caller: Today I was having a chat with my mother asking her what she would do if she an ISIS member on the street… She said she would invite him home because he helped us enter the kingdom of heaven.
Beshir: How beautiful!
Caller: I asked her what will you do if you see those ISIS members passing on the street and I told you ‘That’s the man who slayed your son.’ She said “I will ask for God to open his eyes and ask him into our house because he helped us enter the kingdom of God!
Meanwhile in the U.S., Franklin Graham, son of iconic evangelist Billy Graham, is finding a massive response among American Christians with the announcement that ISIS has triggered biblical Armageddon and the triumph of Christianity. One of his Facebook posts on the matter has already received nearly 150,000 likes and over 40,000 shares:
The evil of ISIS really shouldn’t shock us — it is fully in keeping with their ultimate agenda of hastening a final apocalypse. God’s Word tells us that there will be a final battle one day, but it will result in the defeat of Satan and all those allied with him. One thing is for sure — one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
[To read the rest, go to The Friendly Atheist, A Most Unsettling Trend: Christians Rejoicing in ISIS.]
Then there are the times we can just let believers make our case for us.
Moody Adams Evangelistic Association, publisher of evangelical videos, tapes, books and a magazine, has just posted The 5 Reasons God Permits Storms. You will undoubtedly be won over:
To scare you until you beg Him for mercy.
“Storms are allowed to lead men to seek the Lord: ‘So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm… that they may seek thy name, O LORD… ‘“ Continue reading
Two weeks ago we learned that the Gulf Coast United Coalition of Reason (CoR) had its Mobile billboards taken down by Lamar Advertising:
The CoR was told Lamar had received a large amount of complaints about the billboard and that he questioned the motivation to take the billboard down… “They just want to start a fight,” [Lamar VP Troy Tatum] said.
Today the good news is that the group won that fight, and successfully persuaded Lamar to put the signs back up. The news story at AL.com rather downplays the disagreement, noticeably omitting any mention of complaints about the billboard’s message:
“Don’t believe in a God? You’re not alone,” and “Good without God? So are we” read the billboards re-erected in Mobile, Pensacola and Pascagoula after a contract dispute. The original billboards went up in early Jan. but Mobile’s was yanked down two weeks later.
Sherif Gaber, a 22-year-old student at Suez Canal University, was given a prison sentence yesterday by an Egyptian court for “contempt of religion.” Sherif was turned in by his own college president and arrested at home in an excessive raid officials somehow thought required five military-style vehicles:
A student from Ismailia was given a one year prison sentence by a court Monday for contempt of religion relating to activities on campus and atheist statements online.
Sherif Gaber, 22, was studying at Suez Canal University in 2013, when teaching staff and fellow students reported him via a petition to the institution’s President. They said he had made posts supporting atheism on Facebook, and suspected him of being behind a page called ‘The Atheists’. Subsequently, the university’s then-president Mohamed A. Mohamedein personally filed a legal complaint against the student to the local prosecution on the grounds of contempt of religion…
Gaber said that… on 27 October 2013 he was arrested from his home at 3am. “[I couldn’t believe] the strength of the security of the state – three armoured cars and an army vehicle, surrounded my house,” Gaber said. “I said there must be another Osama bin Laden living in the same tower… I didn’t know I was that dangerous.”
A few days ago California news interviewed residents wanting this “controversial” United Coalition of Reason billboard taken down. Next, in Mobile, Alabama, Christians did succeed in getting the identical billboard removed. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has posted it on his Facebook page for comment, and he certainly got them.
For your scannng pleasure, I’ve handily selected and categorized some, including the Weepers, the Stone-Throwers, the Persecuted, and the Gloaters… Continue reading