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Archived Letters

Sunday, July 29, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

GET A LIFE!

Your gospel story quiz made me angry.

I took it twice, the second time through I recorded the opposite response to each question and still received a zero.

Maybe you think it's clever to quiz people on the contradictions, my time is valuable and you wasted it with your impossible quiz.

Get a life.

~Alana Cooke, MA, MEd

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Thursday, July 26, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Griffith University Society for Skeptics and Freethinkers

My name is Jayson Cooke and I am a Psych Science student at Griffith University Gold Coast campus in Queensland Australia. I am in the process of starting an on-campus cultural group "Griffith University Society for Skeptics and Freethinkers." I was hoping you may be able to help out in some way, any way really. I really believe we can contribute towards something great here and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

The Centre for Inquiry On Campus group (http://www.campusfreethought.org/ ) has kindly provided promotional and educational material which has been a great help but in order to achieve our goals of not just preaching to the “converted” I will need all the help I can get. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated and I have just finished setting up a myspace group page to be found at http://groups.myspace.com/gussf

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and for the inspiration.

Jayson D Cooke

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Monday, July 23, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

I feel a connection with you guys

A letter from Michelle N

I have enjoyed reading this site for months now. I'm not good with computers and mine is an antique.

I left the faith a few years ago. The main reason was the hell doctrine. My mother took me to a Lutheran church as a child (pretty laid back,no fire and brimstone). My dad would drop us off and go get a coffee. My mother had faith but was not fanatical: more of a "Sunday Christian." It was the warnings of hell by an elderly women at a friend's youth group that scared the shit out of me. I tried to feel close to god, but was convinced He hated me. I was also convinced at age 22 that I had somehow committed the Unpardonable Sin. I practically had a nervous breakdown, just waiting to die and face my unchangeable fate.

Every night was spent weeping for all the people who were destined for hell. I started to realize that being a Christian meant shutting off the part of the brain that feels compassion. How could anyone accept their loved ones -- or anyone for that matter -- going to hell for all eternity? I didn't believe that even the most evil of us deserved that.

Humans are scared,fragile creatures, and none of us asked to be thrown into this world. If we screw up it's God's fault and the responsibility lies with Him. I went from having library of books by apologists, to books by John Shelby Spong (whom I still admire), to books by atheists.

I now consider myself an agnostic, leaning toward atheism. At 27, I'm glad to be free of the mental hopscotch that goes with religion, and I am pretty vocal about it, which alienates people. But it helps weed out the sheep. Besides, I feel a connection with you guys that i really can't get any where else.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Lame, illogical arguments

Sent in by Cathy M

I do not consider myself a part of the Christian-sect; however, I find this site to be filled with the most cynical of former Christians -- and what's the point? Why would these folks need encouragement? I think it's because they still carry the Christian belief that they will burn in a place called hell for turning their backs on a God whom they believe to be vengeful. (case in point: why does the anti-spam question ask if fire is hot or cold? Freudian slip?)

It seems to me the whole purpose of this site is for folks to reassure themselves they made the right decision in leaving the Christian doctrine; yet over half of the arguments are illogical, lame -- as if the bloggers aren't quite sure they did the right thing.

One blogger argues against God and somehow introduces religion as part of his argument against God -- there is no relation between the two: God is God. He did not create religion -- religions were invented by men who attempted to control the masses.

It would appear your ex-christians discovered fallacies in the Christine doctrine, but that is no reason for them to slam the beliefs that others still follow. Everyone has their own truth, but not everyone has the same truth. It's whatever gets you through life and death.

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Friday, July 20, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Where is our God?

Sent in by BTG

I would like to submit my full story sometime later on when I have the time. Until then, I would like to bring up something that crossed my mind as I was sitting down on a bench in the middle of a garden. I began to gaze at a mamey tree. The cycle of life came into my mind.

Obviously, it was birthed out of a pod from a previous tree, and it grew into what it is right now. That tree, which is currently full-grown, has had many different pod-filled fruits come out which it will hope to birth dozens more trees. And then, someday that tree will die.

What becomes of the tree? Surely, it's seedlings live on to hopefully become trees, but does the tree in question go to some sort of magical garden in Heaven? Or does it wither away and vanish from existence for all eternity, as I fear may be the truth?

This applies to all living microbes, animals, insects, and humans that are on this earth right now. When we die, what becomes of our consciousness? Does our consciousness live on in our "soul" and go to Heaven or Hell, as the Christians would like us to believe? Or do we fade away into the abyss, never to "be" again?

Where is our God?

Why hath he not answered to us when we were Christians and prayed to him in order for him to save us from not believing in him?

Why, when we prayed for our gravely ill relatives, grandmothers and fathers, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, pets, friends, and everything else, he turns His back and lets them die?

Is He even real as the priests, clerics, and fundies claim he is?

Where is our God?

I must be a ranting madman, but I had to let that out. In the near future I will be writing my own testimonial. Until then...

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Monday, July 16, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Methuselah and tooth decay

Sent in by The Atheist Tooth Fairy

Before I state my question, first some basic history about myself.

My wife is a very devout Christian woman, while I'm now a complete atheist, one who not only doesn't believe in God and the bible, but also sees zero evidence for anything supernatural on this earth as well.

You can surely imagine how the debates must go between my wife and I. My ongoing efforts to show her with extensive proof that the bible is nothing supernatural to 'worship' and her telling me that she'll be praying for God to give me my faith back, for to my wife my problem is surely just a matter of 'fixing' my faith to get me back on track etc.

In all my research of the supposed supernatural things of the bible that Christians and atheist debate about, there is one interesting item I never see anyone talk about. This subject came up during one of our many little debates with my wife, about the extraordinary claims of the bible.

If one assumes that folks of the old testament, like Noah, lived to be a few hundred years old, then such a life span raises some obvious practical questions.

Even if we suppose our DNA was different back in those ancient days and that our bodies didn't degenerate as quickly as they do in modern times, then we might make the assumption that such things as our internal organs and even our skin, just repaired themselves much more efficiently than we see today. Perhaps there were no "free-radicals" in those days that caused cell damage.

Such natural degradation of our physical organs obviously still happened, just more slowly, as humans of that long ago era still eventually died from getting old.
However, the rate at which we degraded in those times, wouldn't seem to have external causes, but it was more like our life spans were pre-programmed pretty much as they are today....just for a longer period of life.
Let's call this slower body degradation of those times, "Internal Influences", which would allow such organs as our hearts, kidneys, brains, eye's, ears etc. to maintain a better health state than we see in modern times.

This leads to the question of "External Influences" that might make it very difficult to survive for something like 600 years. No, I'm not talking about being killed in battle or even succumbing to some dreaded disease of the times but something far more simpler and all too common.

That simple external problem would be Tooth Decay.

I won't even go into the problem that half of us have, about impacted wisdom teeth that require surgery to rectify, but one could surely ask if we were made perfect (as my wife insist if the case) then why did God give us such problematic unneeded extra teeth? Shouldn't ALL of us have larger jaws to accommodate such extra teeth?

I won't ask God why we don't grow an extra set of adult teeth when our primary set of adult teeth decay or even fall out, but it sure would have been nice if he had done so for most of us.

Now unless you can tell me that God only invented a substance called SUGAR once he shortened our lifetimes to what they are now, then I have to assume they had sugar in those ancient times and if they did, it surely turned to acid in our mouths as it does today, and thus it surely broke down the enamel that protects our teeth from decay, just as it does today. Oh, but as I recall there was fruit in the Garden of Eden. Was it sugarless fruit perhaps? Perhaps God changed the formula for fruit later on.

So then that leads to the obvious question of how one could survive for say 600 years and still have teeth to eat with all that time.
Perhaps the answer is that they did lose their teeth in the first hundred years and for the next several hundred years they just gummed their food to survive? Perhaps God supplied them with a blender to liquefy their food for 500 years.
Hey, I'm trying hard here to find the answers to an obvious problem.

Now I'm sure as often happens when talking to Christian apologist, they will do their normal thing of the "Insert Miracle Here" in the equation.
Surely in their minds, God came along and either gave them a new set of choppers every so often, or perhaps he put super fluoride in their water.

From a practical mind however, we know eating sugar causes tooth decay and short of one of those miracles, it surely would have left these long-lived ancients with no teeth to chew with for the majority of their super long lives, yes/no?

Unlike the assumption I've made where some super DNA keeps our organs healthy for a longer period of time in those old days, the problem with tooth decay is that our teeth aren't naturally degrading of their own accord, but instead are being 'attacked' by the very external foods we must eat to live.

So is there anyone out there who can explain to me how the God of the bible solved this very basic human problem of tooth decay?

Just another practical question that the bible doesn't seem to answer for some strange reason.

Signed,
The Atheist Tooth Fairy

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Sunday, July 15, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Combating faith with reason -- can it be done?

Sent in by Monk

First, let me say that I am adamantly atheistic. I want to make that known to put my question(s) in the proper context and identify myself as a sincere seeker of knowledge (as opposed to a rabble-rousing “troll”). Having said that, I ask:

How is it possible to make an informed decision about anything when so many sources claim to have the inerrant truth? (This could apply to several subjects, but let’s limit it to religion for now). I reasoned my way out of what little faith I ever had using solid, verifiable evidence…but what about the religious masses? The findings of science, scholarly history, atheism, etc., etc., are enough for me. Yet, what is true and reasonable to me may not seem that way to someone else.

In my experience, you cannot combat faith with reason. Why? Because you cannot combat emotion with reason, and I would argue that faith is nothing more than an aberrant and misguided combination of otherwise healthy emotions. How can we, as non-believers, proselytize for our cause when our greatest weapons (reason, logic, PROOF, evidence, etc.) are utterly rejected before they are even heard? Must we wait for some fanatic with a ‘nuke to start a REAL Armageddon before the religious communities at large realize their insanities? I sometimes wonder if even the devastation of nuclear war would jar the convictions of some people.

Frankly, this makes me despair.

I see little hope for a brighter, more rational future. I think religion is too firmly entrenched, and I’m afraid it may prove our undoing. For a real wake-up call, read the works of Sam Harris (to which I am very much indebted): Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith. We cannot just sit back and wait. My ultimate question is to ask: “what can be done?”

Input, please.

—Monk

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Saturday, July 14, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Seeking an answer to a question

Sent in by Jim

Before I ask my question, I want to provide a brief overview of my religious background--a mini-testimonial. My Mother was a very religious person (Southern Baptist) who dedicated me to God at birth, bred me for the ministry, read to me from the Bible every evening, required me to say my prayers with her every evening, and she took me to our church for every single event which occurred there: weekly prayer meetings; Sunday morning and evening Bible study and services; Bible Study classes during special weeks during the year; revival services; Vacation Bible School; etc.

I attended the Baptist college in my state as a ministerial student, majoring in philosophy with a minor in religious studies. After graduation from college, I attended seminary and earned my B.D. degree. During my first year in seminary, mymother died, and as a result of that, I was able for the first time in my life to begin to "decide" what I really wanted to do with my life.

During the second year of my three-year seminary program, I began to have lots of doubts and misgivings about many of the Christian beliefs and doctrines which I had grown up believing. Consequently, I came to believe that I should abandon the ministry to pursue a teaching career in philosophy.

I attended graduate school to pursue my Ph.D. in philosophy, completed that program, and sought and obtained a full-time teaching position at a college as a philosophy professor. At that point, I left organized religion, rejected Christianity, and I am now an agnostic.

My Question:


I very much need any good responses anyone can give me in order to reply to a close friend who charges that I abandoned Christianity and became an agnostic because of my very religious upbringing, during which the religious views I held had been pretty much predetermined by my Mother's influence over me. In short, my friend claims that I abandoned Christianity and became an agnostic because "religion had been forced upon me by my Mother."

I have tried to identify the fallacious reasoning used by my friend and have found some answers. But my friend's claim is primarily a psychoanalytical claim, a claim about personal reaction to my past.

Any help would be appreciated.

Sincerely,
Jim

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Monday, July 09, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

YMCA and the establishment clause

Sent in by SailorFraud

This is in reference to the YMCA evicting the atheist youth group, Camp Quest, posted in March 2007. I sent a letter to Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) and got a response that they will respond when they have the time.

AU recently sent me an email with detailed questions. The letter is posted below. Can you please answer their questions, or direct me to someone who can answer them, or perhaps post it on your site so the audience can answer them?

Thanks!


Thank you for contacting Americans United. I apologize that it has taken a while to get back to you. As you might imagine, our office has been extremely busy.

Because the YMCA is not a public entity, its actions probably do not constitute an Establishment Clause violation.

Do you know if the YMCA is receiving public funds to maintain these camp grounds? Do you know if the YMCA owns this land or if it rents it from the city?

I look forward to your response.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

From the Internet Infidels:

On Sunday, July 1st, Internet Infidels released the first installment of a series of debates called The Great Debate: God or Blind Nature? Philosophers Debate the Evidence. It aims to bring together nine distinguished philosophers in a series of four debates, each with a different focus on evidence for and against naturalism and theism.

You can view the first installment, a series of exchanges between physicalist Andrew Melnyk and dualists Stuart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro on "Mind and Will," here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/debates/great-debate.html

This is the "live" table of contents for the entire series of debates, giving you a general idea of what's planned for the forthcoming installments. The remaining installments will be released about every two months after the release of the first, i.e., September 1, November 1, and January 1.

In the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would assist me by linking to the Great Debate Project website itself (my first preference) or, if it is easier for you, by "tagging" the Secular Outpost entry, from your own blog or website, as soon as possible:

http://secularoutpost.blogspot.com/2007/06/internet-infidels-online-debate-god-or.html


If you want to write up your own entry for your own blog or website, alternative descriptions of the project are given on the Secular Web's July 1, 2007 What's New entry and Naturalism subject index, respectively:

http://www.infidels.org/new.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/naturalism/

The reason that I say "as soon as possible" is because we only have a window of about one month from the initial announcement to solicit thoughtful questions meant for the contributors in this first debate. This first installment, as well as those to come, represents a unique opportunity for *anyone* to pose questions directly to the contributors. I would be happy if the readers of your blog, or you yourself, "interrogated" the contributors for this collection.

The Q&A sessions offer a rare opportunity to bring the concerns of average readers into the debate, concerns that are no doubt all-too-easily overlooked in the debates themselves given the necessarily narrow focus of the contributors on select topics. Personally, I often find myself disappointed by the fact that, on certain topics, philosophers often seem to talk about the same things--typically issues that have become the standard "problems" in the field--to the exclusion of virtually everything else. Thus I view bringing in questions from "average readers" as an important aspect of this project--potentially even more important than the papers themselves.

Although this project was funded and is hosted by Internet Infidels, it should be of interest to both naturalists and theists, as the agnostic editor Paul Draper has brought a sense of objectivity and balance in his choice of topics and contributors. Additionally, we hope to challenge the theistic *and* naturalistic contributors with an equal number of tough questions from readers.

So any assistance you can offer in promoting this series of debates as widely as possible would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, KA


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