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Archive for November, 2009

History Fail

Q: Does our annual Thanksgiving holiday come from the Bible? If so, did the people in Bible times celebrate it when we do today? I’ve always been curious about this. — K.J.

A: No. Your knowledge of both the bible and American history is atrocious. Based on your question, I would guess there is much in the bible that you are not familiar with. If you carefully read the bible with an open mind, you will find that it is full of errors, inconsistencies, and absurdities. If you also read about the history of the bible (both the Old Testament and New Testament), you will see there is even more reason to doubt it’s veracity. After realizing this, many rational people come to the conclusion that stories in the bible are either myth or legend, and are not to be taken as true.

I would also urge you to read about American and world history. You can start by reading about the history of the American Thanksgiving. Then you should go to your local public library and read some books about American and world history.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Fear of Death

Q: I was pretty wild when I was younger, but that was a long time ago and I’ve tried to live right since then. But how do I know if I’m good enough to get into heaven? I had a cancer scare a year ago, and for the first time it’s made me think about God. — M.R.

A: Many people turn to belief in a god due to a fear of death. They like the idea of an afterlife that is often part of a supernatural belief system. This allows them to believe they will live on after their physical death and even reunite with loved ones who have passed away. However, there are no rational reasons to support the existence of any gods or an afterlife. We can’t know for sure that these do not exist in some form, but I can say I am very confident that the Christian god is a human construct. For more of my thoughts on this, see other posts in the Rejecting Belief category, especially the following:

If you would like to explore what other have written on this topic, see my recommended Reading List

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Aggressive Dealings

Q: I’ve always tried to run my business honestly, but I have to admit I’m a very competitive person and I’ve always been fairly aggressive in my business dealings. Is this wrong in God’s eyes? Can you follow Jesus and still get ahead in the business world? — H.T.

A: There are no good reasons to believe that any gods, and especially Jesus, have ever existed. Therefore, you only have your personal moral code (and the legal code of your country, state, municipality, etc.) to guide you. Our system of capitalism is based on strong competition between merchants, brokers, tradespeople, importer/exporters, etc. and often rewards those that work hard and are most aggressive. I would advise you to ask yourself if your aggressive dealings cause undo harm to your competition and your customers/clients or are unfair in some way. If you feel that you are being fair and not causing undo harm, be aggressive as you like.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Cult

Q: I was very active in a cult for several years, but eventually I became very disturbed over their demands, and last year I got out. But down inside, I’ve always had a hunger for God, and it’s still there. Where do I turn? — A.L.

A: There really is no difference between a cult and a religion. They both incorporate supernatural beliefs, worship, dogma, and ritual behavior. Neither is based on rational thought or verifiable evidence. A religion is just a cult that is practiced by a larger number of people. Cults are often mentioned in a derogatory manner because they have been associated with physical and emotional abuse. I would argue that many mainstream religions are guilty of the same.

I would advise you to turn to rationality and freethought. If you read the bible with an open mind and research bible origins and Christian history, you are likely to conclude that the bible is nothing more than man-made fiction (and poorly planned and written at that). For more information on this topic, see this post and others in the Rejecting Belief category.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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No Love

Q: A friend keeps telling me that God loves me, but how do I know it’s true? My parents divorced when I was 9 and I was raised (reluctantly) by my grandparents, so all my life I’ve felt that no one loves me. Why is God any different? — L. R.

A: It’s unfortunate that you feel that no one loves you. There are not any gods that love you either, because they do not exist. Many people turn (or turn back) to faith in a supernatural deity or organized religion because they can offer a sense of community and comfort. However, there are many reasons to think these faiths and religions are built on falsehoods and myth. With no family as a suport network, you may want to establish a network of close friends that could provide fellowship and assistance when needed. If you do not have such a network, you can meet some like-minded people by performing volunteer work in your community or searching for a social group in your area at meetup.com. If you want to follow the rational path of rejecting your faith in supernatural deities, the online forum at EXchristian.net may provide some needed support.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Nations

Q: Does God ever give up on a nation, because it keeps shutting Him out of its life? I can’t help but wonder if that’s happening to us, with all our evil ways. — E. McD.

A: I’ll assume you are referring to the Christian god. Let’s compare the United State with the two most populous countries, China and India. These countries have relatively few Christians compared to the US. Approximately 78% of Americans are Christian while less than 4% of Chinese and less than 3% of Indians are Christians. The majority of Chinese (68%) are non-religious and the majority of Indians (80%) are Hindus. If the the Christian god was the one, true god, then the US should possess a distinct advantage over these other nations. For much of the past one hundred years, this would have appeared to be true, but China and India have shown tremendous economic growth over the last 10-20 years. From 1990-2005 China exhibited 10% economic growth per year. In the last decade, India has averaged more than 7% growth per year. During these same periods, the US averaged less than 3% growth per year. If the Christian god rewarded those who worshiped it, it would not make sense for these nations with very few Christians to show these larger economic growth rates. The most likely explanation is that the Christian god (or any other) is not real. Your god has not given up on any nation, because it does not exist.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Hard Times

Q: The hard economic times haven’t hit me like they have most people, but I’m getting tired of churches and organizations begging me for money because they say their income is way down. After all, I’ve got to think of my own future in case things get worse. Am I just being selfish? — Z.A.

A: You are not necessarily being selfish. This was my answer of October 17 to a similar question:

           The current economic crisis has affected a large fraction of the US and the world. It is smart to plan ahead and reduce your spending. Charity is certainly viewed as a virtue by most, but its important that individuals and families maintain the ability to provide food, shelter, education, and recreation for themselves. If the only way you can support your family is to reduce or eliminate charitable giving, then you should not feel you are doing anything wrong. If you would still like to contribute to your community, you could try donating your time to local organizations that feed and house the disadvantaged, teach people to read, or mentor young people. These activities may also provide you with rewarding, educating experiences and recreation.           

If you decide to give money to a church, you may want to first ask how it would be used. Some churches spend lavishly on ministers’ salaries and overly extravagant facilities. If you feel that your donated money would not used in a manner you approve of, you could make a donation to a charity (maybe even a secular one 😉 ) that would.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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