Reason for the Lack of Posts

Posted: April 12, 2011 by justmeangie in General
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Blast from the Past

Posted: March 19, 2011 by skepticalprogrammer in General

Angie and I were looking through some old pictures the other day, and we found this old picture: my old car from almost 10 years ago. The bumper stickers say so much about how my life has changed over the last 10 years.

Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman

Posted: March 19, 2011 by justmeangie in General

I am currently reading this book. It’s pretty interesting so far and I hope to write a response when I’ve finished. I like that Ehrman, who started out as a bornagain Biblical literalist, honestly was not out to prove anything, but only to find truth. After following the logic and evidence for 30 years, he is now an agnostic and New Testament scholar. To read about that step-by-step process reminds me of my own “deconversion” even though our journeys were very different.

Anyone else read this book or plan to? What are your thoughts?

Rob Bell, Hell, and the Evangelical Uproar

Posted: March 15, 2011 by skepticalprogrammer in Atheism
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Recently a pastor friend of mine shared a link to a critique of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins. For those who haven’t heard about the controversy, the Evangelical Christian community is in an uproar because in Love Wins Rob suggests that a loving God would not send anyone to “Hell” as hell is traditionally defined. Instead of the traditional eternal torment and torture in a fire with no hope of escape for all eternity, Rob speculates that Hell could be more aptly described as the pain and suffering we put ourselves through when we live apart from the wonder of God’s creation.

The critique above basically sums up Rob’s book as the path to Hell (as traditionally defined, not as Rob defines it), and shows the author’s lack of critical thinking skills by using a number of logical fallacies to demonize Rob’s claims. One fallacy in particular that bothered me can be found in the following passage:

Throughout the book he engages in what can best be described as exegetical gymnastics, particularly in dealing with the Greek word aion, a small word that is crucial to his arguments.

While this word is commonly translated as “eternal” or “everlasting,” Bell argues that it can also mean “age” or “period of time,” or even “intensity of experience.” Using this approach, he briefly argues from the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:31-46) that eternal punishment isn’t eternal, but rather an intense period of pruning.

Now here’s the thing: aion and aionos definitely can mean “age” or “period of time,” they also mean “eternal.” The word’s context helps us to determine its meaning. So if we assume that these words primarily mean “age” or “period of time,” what happens when we apply that definition to John 3:16 where aionosis used?

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have life for a period of time.

Not as encouraging, is it? While Bell might argue here that “life abundant” might be a better fit (playing on the “intensity of experience” angle and tying it to John 10:10), at the end of the day, we’re left with an approach that gives more credence to living your best life now than it does to worshipping Jesus.

Rob Bell’s argument is not that aion primarily means “age”, or even that it means “age” more often than eternal. Rob’s argument is that in the passages that are often used to describe hell aion can be translated more accurately as “age” or “period of time”. As anyone who has translated text can tell you, context is everything. While translating from English for example, the phrase “Firing up a bowl” would translate very differently depending on whether you were talking about pottery or a party; likewise the Spanish word Mariposa can either reference a butterfly or a homosexual depending on the context.

Why then would someone who is obviously familiar with translating from Greek make such a rookie mistake in logic? I believe the answer is that he is terrified of the implications of Rob’s assertions.

Without Hell, Christianity will die.

As a former Evangelical I can tell you that the thought of those I loved (or even those I didn’t know) ending up in Hell was enough for me to go out of my way to ensure that they never had to endure that torment, and I was from a church which focused on God’s grace rather than hell most of the time. Others such as my wife however, were not so lucky. Growing up in a more conservative background, she heard about the horrors of eternal damnation regularly in sermons, “Judgment Houses”, and everyday conversation. Because of this, she experienced fear and guilt when she began questioning her faith, partially because she had been conditioned to think that not believing would bring her eternal and excruciating pain. When it comes to converting others to Christianity, you would be hard pressed to hear an alter call that does not mention Hell as the alternative to faith in Jesus. Overall, without hell there is very little reason to convert to Christianity, or to avoid deconverting from Christianity.

Coming Soon…

Posted: March 13, 2011 by justmeangie in General
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Little one will be here within the next few weeks. I am hoping to write about the experience as soon as we are back home and settled, but I wanted to let you know in case there is a lack of posts suddenly. If that happens, it most likely means he’s arrived and we are busy! 🙂

This video brings tears to my eyes. Every time. I hope it touches you as much as it did me.

Major life events do not need to invoke religion or a deity to be special and meaningful to the individuals involved.

Seriously. I wouldn’t think something so simple would need to be said, but recently, I realized even more just how saturated our culture is with religious language and thought. People seem unable to express even basic human sentiments without invoking the supernatural.

skepticalProgrammer and I have been searching for a song to play in the background of a slideshow with Little Bit’s hospital photos. You wouldn’t believe just how difficult it is to find something that isn’t completely focused on God/Jesus/Religion rather than the special occasion of a baby being born or the relationship between parents & child. After weeks of searching, we decided to either go with something instrumental or Phil Collin’s You’ll Be in My Heart. There were hardly any secular (or even loosely religious) options available. Can people really not celebrate an enormously special occasion without all the supernatural platitudes? Can’t your baby’s birth, or your marriage, or your graduation, or your anniversary, or any other significant life event be about the PEOPLE involved, their lives, their accomplishments–the simple beauty of nature and humanity?

And after all the frustration of trying to find an appropriate song, I am even more frustrated to know that when he is born, well-meaning friends and family will be telling me over and over again how blessed I am and how wonderful God is for giving me my beautiful baby boy and a loving husband. Yeah. Thanks. But no. The true beauty is in the fact that my husband and I met against all odds, connected with each other, fell deeply in love, spent many years together learning, growing, changing, becoming closer and closer. That we, as an expression of our love, engaged in a sexual relationship which 8 1/2 months ago resulted in half of his DNA and half of my DNA creating a new life that is living and growing in me at this very moment…a life that we will love and nurture and cherish for the remainder of our own lives. That is beauty. That is love. That is happiness.

God is not necessary. In fact, it would be nice if we could just leave him out of the event all together and instead focus on welcoming this amazing new life to the world.

As Tim Minchin puts it, “Isn’t this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex wonderfully unfathomable world? How does it so fail to hold our attention that we have to diminish it with the invention of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?