I’m So Happy

It is challenging to keep coming up with things to write about having to do with religion and one of the thousands of gods I doubt. But once or twice each month some smatchet* fool just hands me a beer and says, “Now, watch this.” How do they do it? It’s pure fooking magic, I’m a-tellin’ y’all. Wham! No muse required.

I simply open a news link on my computer for a bit of depressing now what. And there it is in all that radiant reading glory. The reason why so many of us will take a royal pass on jumping into the Christian corral (or is it chorale?).

Some Pentecostal pinhead preacher in the far east parts of Nashville was literally told, directed, and commanded by none other than the main God himself, personally spoken in English, to cancel a bogus communion thingy and instead have a good old-fashioned book burning. Just like mort old Grandpa Adolph used to do, only this holocaust called specifically for some young adult fiction. It appears that God wanted to mess Satan over with a Harry Potter hot foot, of all things.

Preacher Pinhead claimed his followers had a “biblical right” (well hell yes. God told them to do it) to burn cultish books (as I clear my throat and raise both brows) and such, which they deem as threatening to their religious rights and freedoms. Yep. There ya have it, that ever-loving godly dude who gave his only son, etc.

Videos show a bonfire and people tossing books and other papers into the blaze. Praise god almighty!!! No more gall dang witchery from that ‘Hairy Pooter’ and his kind.

To be fair, no real news here. Harry Potter books were burned when first released. Other members of this panicked sleazeball-slime branch of Christianity, with similar religious loons claim such things encourage witchcraft.

I called J.K. Rowling. She said that she is heartbroken that her publisher will now have to print (and sell) more books to replace those burned. Wink, wink.

Why did this guy do this? This book burning party wasn’t the first time Dudly Dumbass made headlines. He’s denied the entire pandemic (clearly, he’s not an undertaker on the side), he preached that the Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee, was a “coward” for activating the National Guard to help hospitals battle it, and he is full of Trump-related BS conspiracy theories. He and his followers are also full of dangerous buzzard bait and swallowing every bit of it.

But look what I got. Blogger fodder as this snarkastic atheist points and laughs; and all the other Christians yell, “He’s not one of us.” I heard that same yell when Planned Parenthood medical clinics were bombed and killed people. Yes. He is exactly one of you!

And as for burning, here’s what else he said, “I ain’t messing with witches no more. I ain’t messing with witchcraft…I ain’t messing with demons.”

Should I send him a thank you letter?

Bill

P.S. *English contains an embarrassment of riches for when we want to say something colorful about someone. A contemptible person may be a blighter, cockloche, dandiprat, dirtbag, dogbolt, shagrag, stinkard bastard, beast, bleeder, blighter, bounder, or boor. They may be a bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, cretin, crud, crumb, or cur. Also, a dirty dog, rat fink, heel, hound, jerk, joker, louse, lout, pill, pinhead, rat, reptile, rotter, or a Yiddish schmuck; some are scum or scumbags, scuzzballs, or skunks. Anyone can be a sleaze, sleazebag, sleazeball, slime, slimeball, slob, snake, or a plain old so-and-so. Brits can also be sods, stinkards, stinkers, swine, toads, varmints, or any of various vermin. So why do we need smatchet? Just because there be so many contemptible people out there.

 

No kidding. Harry freaking Potter.

 

 

Truths About Choices

By what process do we make most important decisions? How do most of us select a religion or denomination to follow?

The who

What do Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelical Christianity have in common? With each other, about as much as they share with Judaism or Islam, and little more than those last two have in common with each other.

Within and between many religious or Christian groups the divisions are astounding, even to a cynical skeptic like me. They’ve pretty much all killed one another in the name of the god they claim to believe in. The god who knows and is responsible for everything, including them.

One thing they do share is the opinion that all atheists are immoral, criminal crackpots and meanies. Most recently I’ve been accosted for not thinking like a true American. Wowzer. Me?

Six of seven sacraments, a Boy Scout, several US Department of Defense careers (two honorably in uniform), Christian education and Bible Study teacher, Parish Council President; a father, and grandfather to about a dozen; and some right-wing crack-pot thinks it’s his job to enlighten me!?

Buddhism is a religious exception. There may be others. Many followers of this path are not a good fit as I define a religion (you need a god). I see Buddhism as more of a philosophical tradition. However, much of that philosophy and tradition can be woven with other religious beliefs. While Buddhists don’t believe in any gods, there are things that can help (or hinder) such people toward enlightenment. Meanwhile, back at the Reality Ranch…

The how

The rest of us, mostly Christians in America, have several methods for choosing a tribe or religion to follow.

  1. We’re born or adopted into it by our parents or guardians.
  2. We convert into it for any number of reasons.
  3. We are forced into it in various ways.
  4. For community and social reasons. Like, we want a church home for our family, and we find something that seems to work okay.
  5. We discover it through careful analytical thought and examination of all religious beliefs, practices, philosophies, dogma, and whatever else belongs to the trappings of a religion. (Yeah, right.)

For example

My wife, Yolonda, and her three siblings were raised in The Church of Christ. They grew up in Texas. The entire family of kids moved on to other Christian denominations in adulthood because of their displeasure with the denomination of their parents.

Yolonda converted into the Catholic Church about twenty years ago (I was born Catholic), at least in part because I was giving the denomination a final attempt.

One day she said to me, “What I like about being Catholic is that you can be a normal human being and still go to Heaven.” If you know much about the Church of Christ, you know why she said that. Her decision to join me in that, and our eventual decision to leave it twelve years later, is another story. But we gave the faith lots of pray, pay, and obey for as long as we could.

Looking around

While I piddled with eastern religion and philosophies prior to the making one last run at the faith of my birth, neither of us ever took any path other than Christian and Catholic, until we both gave that up.

Looking back. the religious trek in our long marriage may seem chaotic, but that is what real searching looks like in hindsight. It’s called street cred. You must jump into the pool to feel the water. It is kind of like watching a pinball bounce around inside the machine. It seems chaotic, but the player knows what he or she is doing until the ball passes the flippers and is lost. To the ball, it is all random.

My truth

I was not born into atheism. I cannot name one atheist person I knew prior to age 21. Even after that, I’m not 100% sure I knew any names until I staked my claim. Atheism was never suggested to me as an option, nor was I forced into it. I resisted for socio-cultural reasons even as I slowly and continually moved toward it. There was no community satisfaction or social attraction similar to having a church home to being atheist.

If anything, it was the opposite as I noticed a few folks moving away from me socially. However, I did get to hear other friends confess their somewhat closeted atheism to me later. That still happens, although seldom.

My choice

I simply decided that I do not believe any god exists (as in is real), and I should be true to myself (see #5 above).

This is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, not the Bible, where Polonius says to Laertes, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” I enthusiastically, atheistically, and poetically agree.

Bill

 

Can It Be Naught?

I forget what I read this week that put me onto this line of thinking. I read a lot of stuff that I do not understand or get. That’s fine. This whole business is crazy. One guy even told me that it was his job to get me to think like him. I am envisioning those of you who know me wanting to see him try to do that. Right?

Just to be clear, he not only wants me to be Christian; it’s with the Evangelical crowd that I must swear allegiance. On top of that, he called me a leftist for no reason. I liked the idea and told him so, but the real lefties might not agree. He wants me to be a right-wing guy. It seems I do not think like an American is supposed to think.

But when I peeked at his blog thingy, I noticed that he supports the creation of everything from nothing hypothesis. I am not sure what drug I need to take to help me comprehend nothingness. They talk about it, but how can they conceive of that? I cannot.

It is all something. We cannot portray or imagine anything but something. The movie clip from The NeverEnding Story attempts to portray the power of nothing, but it is all something. Evil is something. Absence implies something. There absolutely cannot be nothing.

In nothingness there is neither a beginning nor an end. When the Universe came to exist, nothing would cease because something existed. If there ever was a when of nothing, but there was a god or gods, then either god was nothing and still is, or god invented God.

So, all this buzz about creating everything (anything, something) from nothing makes zero sense. But at least that is something. Right?

Bill

What Matters More?

I am far from being an expert on the workings of the LDS religion, church, cult, or whatever it is. A friend told me about his father who was a convert to Mormonism. Apparently, if one is a good LDS, God will grant an enlightenment at some point. I have no idea what that is, but it sounds like speaking in tongues for some other denominations.

Anyway, my friend told me that his father went to an LDS bishop late in life to complain about either God or the Mormon religion not delivering on the promised epiphany. The bishop apparently then confessed that not everyone gets it. I’m unclear on the details, but I suspect a deconversion. My friend’s dad died shortly thereafter. So, then what?

One person commented on this blog that I must confess my belief in God before it is “too late.” The too late being when I am already dead, and God (who is love, who is forgiving, who sort of died for our sins) punishes my soul with Hell for eternity because I would not, could not, or did not believe that he, or she, or it was real. That commentator was trying to tell me what much of Christianity teaches. Goodness does not matter. Belief is all that counts. It sounds crazy and stupid, but the Bible backs them up on this.

Bottom line, if you do not believe in any god, or if you have serious doubts, you are doomed for eternity, according to the “good book.” That’s the theory, anyway. Nothing else in your life matters. In fact, you can be a lying scum bag, a murderer, a rapist, or all of these, and still be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven, provided you claim that you think God is real (i.e., profess belief). This makes sense to millions of people. But not to all of us.

In her memoir, Anne Rice raved about her Secular Humanist friends and how wonderful and kind and caring and what good people they were. How they do all these wonderful things for others. Many are, of course, people who do not hold much belief (or faith) in any god. Anne was at times a very devout Catholic. In that Christian denomination, belief was taken for granted. But it was (and still is) how you live and treat others that matters most. For them, ass holes burn regardless of belief status.

I sat face-to-face in a confessional one day. The Priest said, “God does not care about all that, Bill. What He cares about is how we treat one another.” Two other Priests told me essentially the same thing.

No matter what I believe about the existence of any god, I am convinced that how we treat each other is paramount. Therefore, if I treat my fellow man, nature, and the environment (God’s creation?) as well as I can, I’ll bet God would give me the same break he would give Anne or any of her wonderful friends. As for the Christian jerks, if there is a god, I have my opinion.

Happy Friday,

Bill

Were You Really?

Are we what we do, what we say, or what we think and feel? Would the real me please stand up?

I usually take folks at face value regarding their claims. I accept that they are what they say they are. Why not? However, when I observe their behavior, I may become skeptical, or I may decide they lied. It happens.

I have met and heard of several people who, once firmly spirited into religious life, claim that they had been atheist before they found God, or vice-versa.

And things do change: “I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see,” etc. Are people less likely to be honest, or more likely confused, when they use past tense? Maybe so. I also know people who will not say the word wretch when they sing the hymn, Amazing Grace. I agree. They probably never were miserable wretches.

I read a blog post where a former minister, now an atheist, theorized that most Christians who claim to be converted former atheists were probably not atheists, but were nones. He made a good case for his opinion. I have no way of knowing, but I’ve decided that I agree for several reasons.

Were they really atheists? Were they just ducking religion as so many claim atheists are doing? Did these people openly embrace atheism during the period of their lives when they claim to have been atheist.

Were they agnostic? Were they once practitioners of some religion before they left, sometimes angrily? Did they mentally equate some religion with the existence of God where they tossed the baby (God) out with the dirty bath water (religion)?

Setting aside false claims of unlikely death bed conversions, or someone laser-locking onto a flippant comment (like okay, maybe there is something), or confusion with the meanings of words, I suspect it is extremely rare for a convinced atheist to reach another conclusion and embrace any religion, much less Christianity. I suppose it happens. But very seldom.

The whole sociological and psychological phenomena of human religion and other beliefs are fascinating to me. When I openly declared my atheism, my wife’s comment was, “I’m not ready to go that far yet.” I doubt that she will ever say she is atheist.

Since I believe there is no god in the sense claimed by Abrahamic religions, virtually all religion becomes an interesting, often bizarre, form of human behavior for me.

I am not in the dark. I am informed and aware. I am neither lost nor wretched. I am happier being openly atheist than I ever was as a pay, pray, and obey Christian. While I may have been atheist in my thoughts and practices (or lack of) long before I said I was, it is hard for me to imagine someone like me honestly jumping back on the believer band wagon.

They were nones.

May you have a wonderful year 2022,

Bill

Is no evidence proof of no gods?

Atheists are often asked what evidence would be sufficient to enlighten us enough to agree that a god exists. Most of us can’t answer because what we need is irrefutable, repeatable, and clear proof. I would say “God” (or one of them), but how do I know if an entity is a god? One lady suggested that if Jesus appeared in my car next to me, I would believe. That can be hallucination. Since I have no way to validate the real Jesus, I must disagree with her.

I am more likely to confront an extra-terrestrial alien than any real god. And religion is a different matter altogether. Separating God and religion seems impossible for most basic believers because that is where they were led into the delusion.

When I used to say that I believed in a god (it was more like a something), that was not because I had any evidence. As I matured along with my beliefs, God went from what I was told to something downright obfuscated. If anything, I hung on to belief despite a complete lack of evidence.

I moved on to admitting that I did not believe any god existed. That was not because there was no evidence, but because such existence became permanently illogical to me. Of course, while a deity made no sense, there was supporting evidence in the form of no evidence of existence. That’s were I am on this.

When I commented on Nan’s blog that the existence of gods can be neither proved nor disproved, I was challenged by another atheist (RaPaR) with the argument that the lack of evidence supporting a god is evidence that no god exists. Well, I decided to check out this lack of evidence is evidence of absence argument (a rabbit hole). Apparently, I walked in on years of debate and discussion by scientists and philosophers. It’s nothing new, and it’s not a shallow idea. It deserves more than cursory consideration.

Two distinct concepts are absence of evidence and evidence of absence. Their relationship and distinction get rolled up in the aphoristic antimetabole, Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I agree. It isn’t. However, we cannot logically simply dismiss real evidence nor thousands of years of none.

This discussion works best for real world things like medical efficacy, drug testing, and vaccine research. However, as Paul Simon wrote in The Boxer, “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.” Why let silly things like evidence, lack of it, or proof and facts get in the way?

Here’s my argument. If the monotheistic Abrahamic God exists, why not any of the other five thousand or so gods as well? The amount of evidence for any of them is virtually the same. Only the number of gods differ. Monotheists are currently at bat, but polytheists have a bigger bull pen.

Important words that relate to evidence and proof are often used by believers. They are outward sign, testimony, bearing witness, and of course that old troublemaker, faith. Who needs it when you have proof? And which of those words provides evidence of a god?

A key defense of my hypothesis is knowledge or knowing. Many people claim not only to know that a god exists, but they further claim to know what God wants. They claim to know God’s mind. That is nuts. What does it mean to know something? The word is epistemology, but why go there?

Obviously, while I may have believed a god existed, I never knew such a thing. If I ever made such a claim, it was bullshit. I will let you go here or decide what knowing means on your own.

The unarguable logic fallacy is claiming existence of a god or supporting such a claim based on a lack of evidence to the contrary. If no one can provide evidence of non-existence, that does not make it so.

You can fill a library with the published books that claim to prove a god exists. Ten proofs, nine, six, however many you want. Why are we skeptics still unconvinced? It’s because religious books sell well, even when they are crap.

Until Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day; Happy Human Rights Day, Dewey Decimal System Day, Animal Rights Day, and Nobel Prize Day.

Bill

The Continuum of Confusion

Howdy, Y’all,

Opinion surveys often make a statement and ask us to respond on a continuum, or scale, from strongly disagree on one extreme to strongly agree on the other, with neither agree nor disagree at the center.

Consider this statement: There is a God.

Believers would mark agree, atheists would check disagree, and agnostics would tick one of the I don’t know choices. We would all be responding to the same question based upon our opinion of the statement. Nothing more, but predicable.

How we define ourselves (believer, agnostic, or atheist) is one thing. How we define others needs to be understood in terms of how they see themselves. But people are complex. Beliefs and religions vary widely. Despite our best efforts to find common ground, we hold different meanings for many of the same words, especially the three in parenthesis above. As we strive for clarity, the water gets muddy.

One of the areas of confusion is seeing everyone on the same continuum. It is difficult for believers, especially Christians, to accept that atheists really, sincerely, deeply, and profoundly, do not believe in any god, much less theirs. Not believing is inconceivable to so many.

It’s difficult for me to accept that people believe the following.

At some point when there was allegedly nothing, God decided, I’m going to create a material universe with stars, galaxies, and planets. On one of them I’ll create animals and humans. Then I’ll drown most of the nasty bastards and start over with some incestuous drunkard. Yet, many do. I don’t know why or how. Even when I believed, I did not believe that.

We do not all belong on the believers’ continuum. Only they go there.

The following continuum is mistaken. In my opinion, it creates confusion and mental blocks.

Believer<………………………> Agnostic <………………………..>Atheist

Nope. This is biased in the same way the word atheist itself is biased. The focus is believing (theology, theism, or religion). The obvious confusion is that agnostics are halfway believers. Another is that atheists are somehow distant believers, albeit weak ones. Believers and atheists should have their own scales, like this:

Strong Believer<……………………………………………….>Weak Believer

Strong Atheist<………………………………………………….>Weak Atheist

Agnostics could probably be scaled according to degree of uncertainty, but why bother? They are merely saying that they don’t know if there is God, or that such a thing is unknowable. None of us “know” if there is a god, yet despite no evidence, many bet their life there is one. There is no continuum there. We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t know anything that is unknowable.

Atheism is not the other side of the believer coin, even though it seems so. It is an incredibly simple conclusion drawn, often after years of effort. No proselytizing, no religion, no scripture to read or learn (as such, but many of us have read it all), and often no personal help to guide us.

There are other views and things can get complicated. For example, this one. Each group has their own bubble. Where they overlap, we creatively use both words. Funny, eh?

As difficult as it may be to comprehend, not everyone believes, not everyone knows, and not everyone cares. I would flip gnostic and agnostic on the knowledge scale above because gnostic relates to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge as in knowing. Whereas, agnostic is more, I’ve not the faintest idea, nor shall I ever.

Skeptically yours,

Bill

 

Five Reasons Why I Identify as Atheist

Last week I posted five reasons I don’t believe in God. By default, that is what an atheist is: a person who, for whatever reason, has serious doubts about the existence of any god. However, doubting deities is one thing. Publicly embracing atheism requires careful thought. The decision must not be made lightly.

Influential people have claimed that to be atheist is the worst thing a person can do. Worse than murder. Bush, Sr. said, “No. I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.” He never recanted that. I could rant on over this, but not today.

The bible has many verses regarding killing people who do not believe. All of these do not say to kill them.

Friendships, marriages, jobs, political office, and many other social aspects of life can be negatively affected just by telling the truth. Bush seemed to think it negates US citizenship.

Pat Tillman was a war hero who was shot and killed in Afghanistan. This story gets interesting regarding the fratricide by which Tillman died, the subsequent discovery of coverups and lies by the US Army/Government, and the discovery that Tillman was at least agnostic, if not atheist.

Since this sham occurred on Dubbya’s watch, I wonder who may have questioned Pat Tillman’s patriotism. I have no evidence that Tillman ever identified as atheist or agnostic. Many people do not and should not do so. That’s my point. (Tillman’s Biography by Jon Krakauer)

My reasons:

  1. I had nothing to lose. Back in the day I thought older folks went back to church, religion, and God as they aged, possibly to ensure a pleasant afterlife. That may be true for some, but not for me. Most of my family and friends were either dead or saw things somewhat as I did. Any estrangements had already happened for other reasons. I no longer worked, so I had time to learn.
  1. Someone asked me if I was atheist. I vaguely remember discussions about beliefs and religion during my late teens and twenties. I recall people telling me their thoughts about atheism and atheists. It’s not uncommon for people to ask me about religion, but until this person asked, everyone assumed I believed in God. Answering the questions meant coming out.
  1. Faking it is not making it. If there is a God, she knows who does not believe in his existence. I’m sure many who are wrapped tightly in religious practice do not believe any of it. Is it anyone else’s business? Probably not. But I felt a little guilty about my silence. When asked, I felt the promise of openness and honesty being better paths for me.
  1. During the three days I pondered the question of coming out I began to feel better, even though I never felt the least bit bad about it. I felt a certain freedom. I was not in bondage by religion, but by my own silence. The timing was right. I was ready. It felt great to say I am atheist. It still does. No regrets.
  1. This may not seem like a reason to be atheist, but in hindsight, it was. A world of information opened to me. My world view and philosophies regarding life became more manifest, in my opinion. I could run the race and wear the tee-shirt. While I was never unhappy about any of it, I felt more joy. I realized that I did not have all the answers and I needed none of them. I tried to learn as much as I was able (still do), but it was finally 100% up to me. I felt like I was being honest to myself and to the world. I no longer had to reconcile reality, truth, and facts with some religion or God someone else created.

Regarding using the words atheist, skeptic, agnostic, apostate, nonbeliever, free thinker, and whatever, whatever, whatever; I just don’t care. Atheist is not ideal to many of us because it defines us by what we are not. But it works for me because I have nothing else. I am not “one of the good ones.” We are all good and, in my opinion, better than many religious folks.

For the record, I’ve never murdered or raped anyone. I’ve robbed no banks and I do not lie on my income tax. I believe in love and compassion. I enjoy most of nature. And dogs like me. I like cats, but you know how they can be.

It’s almost December, a month of more US holidays. Happy and Merry everything to everyone. My Thanksgiving poem was published yesterday over on pluviolover.com. But who do you thank when you are atheist?

Bill

 

No God for Five Reasons

I don’t honestly know when I realized that I did not believe God was real. I was about 15 years old when I became dismissive toward my Catholic faith.

A few years later, when I learned what an agnostic was, I jumped on that because it saved me from being labeled an atheist. And it was mostly true. I didn’t know if God was real.

That was approximately 60 years ago. I can now say that I am convinced God is not real. Because of that, I can also dump angels, saints, devils, heaven, hell, eternal life, and even the handy trope, there must be something.

I was reading Greta Christina’s “Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Believe in God.” Since my reasons (and experience) are not identical to hers, I decided to post my five reasons. That’s enough.

  1. As George Carlin said, I tried to believe in God. For many years I tried. It was hit and miss. Eventually, I immersed myself in Catholic religious practice, after I had previously tried several Protestant denominations. They seemed shallow and superficial. I did it all: Church attendance, ministries, leadership, Bible studies, fasting, lots of extra praying, and much more. I envied believers. So did Thomas Merton as he explained in his autobiography, The Seven Story Mountain. I considered the thinking and philosophies of eastern religions. I prayed to God to cure my unbelief. I said the Apostles Creed (aka the profession of faith) as often as I thought of it. I wanted God to be real. I wanted to believe it. I eventually wrote an analogy to reflect my experience and the eventual outcome (The Man in the Room). I tried everything. Nothing worked.
  2. The Problem of Evil is a big deal often ignored or dismissed by believers. Is it denial? Too much cognitive dissonance? The abundance of evil in the world and universe creates conceptual problems for us about God. It means that God doesn’t care, doesn’t know, or cannot fix it. Of course, we’ve all heard, “God works in mysterious ways.” I suppose some sort of deist is possible for me, but I still say the more reasonable explanation is that there is no god or creator to step up and take responsibility.
  3. The existence of any kind of God is less logical than ghosts, tooth fairies, Santa Claus, or Leprechauns. God fails every logic test. All attempts to explain anything about any god’s existence results in mental tap dancing. I might as well believe all the aforementioned myths exist along with the thousands of named gods we’ve created throughout and before history.
  4. It does not work for me to say, “I am. Therefore, God must be.” The lack of evidence of God’s reality or existence is overwhelming. Unless it is the Sun, a biblical golden calf, or something more than a burning bush, I see no god, hear no god, taste no god, feel no god, and I’ve no idea what a god might smell like.
  5. Along with evil, there is much good in the world. I’m uncertain if that applies to the universe. People are quick to credit God for good stuff. I wanted there to be a good God. If God is no good, forget it. Love is good. So, they say God is love. Health is good. So, they claim God heals. Not dying and life everlasting are good, as is staying out of eternal damnation. So, they play the God card. The very fact that I wanted there to be a God who met my requirements and did as I asked contributed to my eventual disbelief. When I looked around, everyone else was doing the same thing. Creating their God in their image.

I hope that clears everything up.

Bill

If there is a god, religions are still bad

I seriously doubt any spirits exist with the nature and capability most people consider a god to have. I’m convinced of that, but I don’t know and neither do you. If either of us could prove it, one way or the other, we would certainly tell all and put the great debate to rest. But callers keep trying to do so, and they keep Matt busy on The Atheist Experience.

Many true believers still would dig in if we could prove the negative hypothesis, but if God were proven to exist, the I told ya so’s would flow like Niagara Falls.

I claim to be atheist, but I am also (in my opinion, we are all) agnostic. How so? Because not one of us can possibly ever know if there is a spiritual god.

That is the essence of the biblical golden calf in Exodus 32 and I Kings 12. The calf is supposed to be the supreme act of apostasy. It is, for the people in the story. It’s the rejection of a faith once confessed. Moses seemed to be lost. Was he talking or toking with the Father up on the mountain with the burning bush?

It was a biblical metaphor. Everyone knew the calf was not a god. It was a man-made statue. Aaron, Moses’s brother, was the maker of the object, which was apparently decided democratically by the people. But this is bible stuff, not history. I don’t want to ponder there.

The great sin, for which they were allegedly killed, was loss of faith or belief. Jewish (and Christian) scripture is replete with hate toward non-believers and apostates. Biblically, killing us not only acceptable, it’s also God’s will.

And for what? Thought crimes? Having a different opinion? Remember, believers of other religions (or denominations) are also damned as evil and justly subject to eternal you-know-what. Kill them all! (Sarcasm, mine.)

This unfair and stupid opinion thus becomes a lie believers can scripturally attribute to God (or Allah, if you’re in that lane). I have been told that I am “one of the good ones.” She knew me and decided I was an exception. The implication is that others who do not believe in some god or religion are evil and do harm. Without any evidence, people of other religions or of none, people who’s only crime is to point out that the king has no clothes, are recreated as evil. That moniker is not for doing any crime or moral wrong. It’s for having a different opinion.

And yes, we resent it.

Bill