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Archive for March, 2010

Attack

Q: I just saw a movie that was a clever attack on the Christian faith (in my opinion). Although it was only a story, it claimed Jesus was just another man and there isn’t any reason to believe He was the Son of God. Why would someone want to tear down people’s faith? — J.W.

A: The Christian faith is easily attacked because it is an obvious fiction that a huge number of people believe to be true. Jesus (if he ever existed at all) was a normal person and not any kind of god. In his book Godless, Dan Barker had this to say about faith:

    “If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are admitting that the assertion can’t be taken on its own merits. If something is true, we don’t invoke faith. Instead, we use reason to prove it. Faith is intellectual bankruptcy.”

Having faith in something that is unreasonable and cannot be proven is dangerous for the individual believer and our society at large. Faith in non-existent gods has caused war, oppression, rape, and tyranny. We’d all be much better off if the people of the world were to reject faith and embrace reason and compassion.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Slowing Down

Over the last 6 months, I’ve answered 134 of these questions. Both the questions and Billy Graham’s answers are as ridiculous as ever, but the questions and my answers are starting to get too repetitious. Therefore, I will be decreasing the frequency of my postings to about 2 per week. This way I can hopefully focus on issues that I haven’t addressed before. I will continue to ping the Atheist Blogroll when I put up a new post.

Thanks for reading!
– Jeff

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Rational Uncle

Q: My uncle just laughs when I say something about the Bible, because he says it’s full of errors and contradictions. How can I answer him? It’s hard to talk to him about religion because he doesn’t feel any need for God. — K.F.

A: Before answering your uncle you should read the parts of the bible he is talking about. There are lists here, here, here, and here. You will then see that your uncle is correct. The bible is full of contradictions and errors. As I wrote just last Friday, Christians must choose which parts to follow and which parts to ignore. I think that if you must make this decision, the validity of all of the bible is highly suspect. How could you know which parts are important and which are not? The most logical explanation of the errors and contradictions in the bible is that it was written by many different people over a long period of time, and had nothing to do with any gods.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Singularity II

Q:Do you think computers will take over the world some day? I admit I don’t understand them very much (although I’m learning to use e-mail, which is pretty good for someone in her late 70s!). But they seem to have taken over so much of our lives that I worry about this. — Mrs. M.B

A: I answered a very similar question last December.

Q: Do you think computers might take over the world some day? I like to read science fiction stories where they do this, and computers are so powerful today that I wonder if it might actually happen. — L.F.

    A: I have always been fascinated by this idea. When I was young, one of my favorite movies was Colossus: The Forbin Project in which the titular computer gained control of all of the world’s nuclear weapons and set about to rule the world. More recently, much science fiction has been written about a technologocal singularity which is usually related to the development of self-improving machine intelligences. The idea is that these machines would continue to make themselves more intelligent, and that pre-singularity humans (us, now) would not be able to predict or comprehend what life in the post-singularity would be like. I’ve particularly enjoyed stories by Vernor Vinge and Charles Stross on this theme. There are even some that think a technological singularity is likely to occur within the next century. While I find these stories and novels immensely entertaining, I don’t know enough about computing or machine intelligence to know if these estimates are realistic. In the meantime, I will continue to seek out good science fiction and enjoy myself.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Hypocrites

Q: If Christianity is true, then why are most of the so-called “Christians” I know hypocrites? I’d rather be a complete unbeliever (which is what I am) than someone who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t act like it. At least I try to be a good person, and they don’t. — J.H.

A: I think that many self-proclaimed Christians are hypocrites precisely because Christianity is not true. The bible has so many inconsistencies and contradictions, that its is logically impossible to live by all of the rules contained therein. People who believe that the bible is the “word of God”, must necessarily choose which parts to follow and which to ignore. They do this even if they don’t realize it. Therefore, they may appear to act hypocritically because they are in fact ignoring certain parts of the bible. The hypocrisy is most noticeable when people choose to interpret the bible (choose which parts to follow and which to ignore) in different ways.

I also think that some Christians behave in deplorable ways because they believe that only faith (not good works) is required for salvation after death. (I’ve addressed this topic before.)

This picture is relevant to your final comment about trying to be a good person without religion.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Grief

Q: My husband died several months ago (of cancer), and they have been the hardest months of my life. People try to cheer me up by saying he’s in heaven now, and I believe it, but it doesn’t take away the hurt. How can I get over this? — E.W.

A: I am sorry for you loss. I have never suffered a loss of this magnitude, so I don’t think I can give you any good advice beyond suggesting that you seek out a grief counselor (hopefully, a secular one).

I am also sorry that you were tricked into believing that the teachings of the Christian church are true. While no one can definitively say whether there is some sort of afterlife or not, we can with utmost confidence say that the Christian god and heaven are not real. The rational arguments in favor of this position are overwhelming. The same can be said of all afterlives (heavens, paradises, hells) described by other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Baha’i. I think that belief in the afterlife is an immature reaction to the reality of death. Death of a loved one is very difficult to deal with. Believing that you will be reunited with that loved one in an afterlife may provide some comfort, but it is a false comfort. We should realize that our departed loved ones will live on in the memories of others and in the legacies they generated during their lives. This is something real that we can take comfort in.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Pain Relief

Q: I’ve had severe back pain for over a year (after two unsuccessful surgeries), and now I’m afraid I might be getting hooked on my pain medicine. But I’m afraid to tell my doctor for fear he’ll take me off it. I need your prayers. — J.McF.

A: You should tell your doctor about this as soon as possible. She should be able to tell you if you are actually exhibiting signs of addiction. If you are, your doctor should also be able to prescribe a different pain killer and help you recover from the addiction. I hope you can find some relief from your pain soon.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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