Coming Out Yogi

October 2, 2011

Brian asks:

Hey, I was a Christian for 10 years, pursuing Jesus with all my might during my devotions. The thing is, however, that I never grew in my faith. I also had some mood problems that prayer and Bible study never helped. However, since I started doing yoga and meditating, these moods are greatly reduced. I’m fascinated by this yogi philosophy and yogis are some of the most kind and compassionate people. But how do I get out of these church commitments where people need me and how do I explain to them what I’m doing? Especially when I know no one will understand?


Why Pray Before a Meal?

April 7, 2011

I’m often tempted to ask Christians who I see praying in public before a meal why they pray. Of course I would never be so disrespectful as to actually walk over and ask. I’m not offended by it, Christians have every right to do it and I support their right. But I do wonder why. So I’ll ask my questions here, where I can safely assume that someone reading a blog about atheism would be amenable to a conversation about faith and belief.

Social Aspects of Praying:

Do Christians feel that God prefers that prayers are said while in a certain posture, with head bowed, eyes closed, and hands clasped? Or is the prayer posture meant more as a performance for the benefit of those around them, rather than for God’s benefit? It seems a lot like the ichthus (fish) bumper stickers – it’s used as a public statement, a testimony. Is the prayer before the meal a polite way of witnessing, a way to show those around them that “I’m a Christian” without actually engaging anyone in conversation? On the one hand, I appreciate that most Christians would be respectful enough not to overtly proselytize those around them. On the other hand, statements to the effect of “I’m a Christian” is not much of a witness. For example, it says nothing about the reality of Jesus which is what a Christian witness or testimony really is. Or possibly, prayer before the meal is a display for other Christians, a way to tell other Christians that you’re one of them – sort of like the Shriner’s “secret” handshake.  Maybe it’s both.

Theological Aspects of Praying:

Thank you for this food we are about to receive…

Why do Christians pretend that God gives them their meals? It seems obvious enough where food comes from. The Earth produces food for humans and other terrestrial life. Life on planet Earth has evolved such that there is a food chain.  If I may oversimplify a bit just for illustration: plants consume non-living materials like minerals, water, CO2 and sunlight.  Animals consume plants, and animals higher on the food chain consume other animals.  Humans are near the top of the food chain (yes, we do have natural predators!).  Each of our meals has this natural origin.  If there is a God, then He doesn’t give us each meal, He gives us the entire Earth from which we get our food.  Why not thank God at every meal for the Earth rather than for the meal?  The meal seems insignificant relative to the gift of the whole Earth!

Other Quirks Regarding Prayer:

Why pray only for food?  Why not pray for water?  Water is even more essential to our sustenance than food.  We can survive without food for weeks but we can only survive without water for a few days.

Bless this food to our bodies…

“Bless this food to our bodies” isn’t even grammatically correct – the verb “bless” can take the indirect object, “body”.  You can bless the food, or you can bless our bodies, but you can’t bless food to our bodies.  Nevertheless, this phrase is very wide spread among Christians – try this search on Google (http://www.google.com/search?q=”bless+this+food+to+our+bodies”) and you’ll see what I mean.

My point is not that Christians are guilty of incorrect grammar – we all are.  My point is that Christians make this particular grammatical error only in prayers for the meal and not anywhere else.  So how does a grammatically incorrect phrase become so popular in prayer and only in prayer?  Does it sound more spiritual?

What do you think?

Whether you are Christian or not, what to you think about the Christian prayer for the meal?


Is Everything Meaningless?

March 12, 2010

Smokes to much Says:

A set of ideas occurred to me a few years ago, but I’m not sure what to make of them. I would be interested in reading some comments on them.
First idea: The physical universe is all that exists.
The matter and energy that our universe consists of is all that there is. No gods, no devils, no afterlife or any state of being, other than the one we now experience.
Second idea: The universe has an end. At some point, the universe comes to an end via heat death, absolute entropy, universal recompression to a single point or whatever. I’ve heard many opposing theories on the subject, but they all seem to agree that it will end somehow. I suppose it’s not unreasonable to think this. Everything in the universe has a birth and then a death, so perhaps the universe itself will also die.
When I combined these two ideas it occurred to me that if both ideas are true, one might conclude existence is meaningless.
If the universe is all there is, and if it comes to an end (whenever or however), then everything that has ever happened, or will happen, will be completely and utterly wiped out. No history, no memories, no artifacts to examine, no ruins to dig up. Like it never happened.
And, if that is true, nothing anyone has every done (or will do) matters in the slightest.
Become the biggest mass-murderer in history or find the cure for cancer. In the end it won’t make any difference because in a sense, none of it ever happened.
I don’t know if any of this makes sense or is nonsense. I would appreciate some feedback.


Is love eternal?

March 3, 2010

Walter A asks:

Is love eternal? I have heard the promise all the time: “I will love you forever. This life and on the afterlife”. This is assuming the loving person will move to a new plane where loving is allowed (heaven?).

Since there is no afterlife. Love ends with death.


Why do atheists target Christians?

December 23, 2009

Christian Says:

I am curious why Christianity seems to be the most targeted religion for atheists to attack. While I recognize that Christianity is the religion with the most followers worldwide, it really seems less like a strictly scientific numbers issue, and more like emotional personal vendetta most of the time. I see so much effort from the atheist community to debunk Christian beliefs, but very little going toward Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist fallacy for instance (also very popular religions).

With so much emphasis on Christianity, I would think atheists would realize how much it weakens their “reason”. First, it suggests that Christianity is the only religion worth attacking, which may just be insulting to other religions as well. Second, it gives the appearance of a hidden (anti-Christian or even satanic) agenda to most Christians. Third, it makes these atheists just look like angry kids rebelling against their Christian parents or the Christian society they were raised in. None of these things are very compelling to a Christian to abandon the faith they work very hard to keep. Just sayin’.


Can Atheists believe in an afterlife?

December 10, 2009

tea asks:

There are many ways to debate this. Most new atheist explain or argue that if you don’t believe in god, then it is impossible to believe in anything supernatural or an afterlife.

I personally believe that 99% of what people claim to be a supernatural or religious experience is just the mind creating delusions. And I find myself rolling my eyes when I listen to someone explaining they had some type of “experience”. But I do find myself believing in something more. I feel that the mind is very powerful and 99% of the time it is just my brain creating a delusional world for me to live in because I can’t find the scientific explanation. But there is still that feeling. The feeling is that I am connected to something bigger then myself and that there is a purpose to everything.

I still live my life as an atheist. I use logic and reason to live my life. And I don’t live my life by any dogmatic point of view. I also live my life in the here and now, not waiting for some “next life” to happen. I just want to see other atheist feel about this subject.


The Gift of Faith

July 5, 2008

I recently wrote about a spiritual gift test I had taken online. Besides being amused that fundamentalist Christians seem to believe that ordinary talents that we all possess are somehow supernatural gifts, I was struck by one gift in particular: the gift of faith. I thought about this when J.D., another poster on this blog, took the test and came out with a score of 0 (that’s zero: zilch! nichts! nada! zippo!) for his gift-of-faith score. According to SpiritualGiftsTest.com, the saved receive their spiritual gifts, including the gift of faith, upon salvation. They justify their claim with the following verses:

1Co 12:4-10; Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Rom 12:3; …God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

But wait a minute – isn’t faith required for salvation? Then how is faith one of the gifts that one receives after salvation?

It gets worse. If our faith is a gift from God, and if salvation requires faith, then those who are saved were chosen by God to be saved (just as Calvin thought). Then those of us who do not believe were not meant to believe. If God created us and we were not meant to be saved, then it was clearly God’s plan to create us for the purpose of torturing us throughout eternity for our unbelief.

One popular (if inane) chorus that Christians often chant is that it takes too much faith to be an atheist. Rather than respond with reason which all to often falls on deaf ears and sluggish intellects, we should simply quote 1Co 12:4-10 and respond: “it’s a gift from God.”


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