This blog intends to provide some balance in the religious debate by providing a counterpoint to Billy Graham's religious advice. On his website http://www.billygraham.org/ he responds to readers' questions by quoting from the bible. I am attempting to respond to those same queries by resorting to reason and rationality.

I must acknowledge a debt here to Jeff Hope who started in this vein but who has unfortunately taken a hiatus. His blog is http://atheistsanswer.wordpress.com/. Jeff has inspired me to continue.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Tyranny Of Geography

QUESTION: Today's comes from PR...
"My family came from a country that doesn't have many Christians, and I'd like to ask you a question. I understand Christians believe Jesus was devine, but isn't God supposed to be pure and holy? How could He have anything to do with a sinful world?".

The fact that your family came from a country with few Christians should tell you something about belief: it is dependent on geography. Different cultures have different deities, and over milennia this can change. Why is India full of Hindus, Iran full of Muslims, and Italy full of Roman Catholics? Why did these various gods reveal themselves to people based around man-made borders? The answer is obvious: because the gods are man-made.
You pose a theologically interesting, but in reality meaningless question: How could a pure god exist in a sinful world? A belief system could make up any reason to rationalise this. Asking questions such as this is to ask the wrong question. Instead ask yourself why different cultures and different countries have different deities.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Judgement For All

QUESTION: Today's comes from JM...
"Does God always judge people who are evil and deliberately do wrong? I'd like to think he does, but there are still a lot of evil people left in the world, and most of them seem to go through life without much bad ever happening to them."

Before your question can properly be answered we need to clarify two concepts. Firstly you mention evil people as opposed to good people. Please take a moment to think of a way to discern who is evil and who is good. Apart from some obvious villains such as mass-murderers it is extremely difficult to identify these character types. We are all a combination of varying degrees of these character types, and this can change over time. Are you an evil person or a good person? How many people are one extreme or the other?
Secondly you mention the concept of doing wrong. What guidelines would you draw up to determine whether an action is wrong or right? Most, if not all, decisions in our daily lives cannot be categorised as one of these extremes or the other. Different actions have different consequences for different people over different time periods. Often the consequences cannot be discerned in advance.
It's tempting to subscribe to the notion that the world's baddies will get what they deserve some day, and if it doesn't happen in this life then it will happen in another. However, the problem with this is identifying the baddies from the goodies and framing a moral structure to judge them. These are impossible tasks that religions claim to be able to achieve, however, they cannot exactly explain how. Beware of charlatans providing false hope.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Ritual

QUESTION: Today's comes from TK...
"We moved to a new city last year, and the church we've started attending is more formal or traditional than our old one. Recently, they've been talking about Advent, and I'm too embarrassed to admit I don't even know what it means. I know it has something to do with Christmas, but what?".

There is an Advent calendar which has a chocolate to eat on each day leading up to Christmas, but I haven't read anything in the Bible about this nor concerning Advent in any form. Christianity claims that the Bible is the whole truth but there are many Christian rituals and beliefs which don't appear there. Where do these come from? Are they holy or just some cultural curiosity? How did they originate? Why?
Don't be timid to ask questions when in church. Religions prosper when they are dictating terms to unthinking followers. If you are not sure on something or if it sounds implausible, speak up. Too many people just blindly accept what is told them without any period of reflection.
There are many differences in belief and ritual between denominations, and yet they all miraculously consider themselves to be right. If the church you have changed to does not satisfy you then go to another, or don't go to any, or start your own!


Sunday, November 21, 2010


QUESTION: Today's comes from E.McL.
"I've always believed in God, but some people I know are always talking about having a personal relationship with God, and I'm not sure what they mean. Is this different from just believing in God?".

A personal relationship is one that is the same as you have with another person. It doesn't necessarily have to be with a human being but it has to have the same characteristics, ie you can both see, converse with, and feel each other. Patently it is impossible to achieve this with a supernatural being whom you can never see, hear, nor touch. It is absurd to postulate that a human being can have a personal relationship with a supernatural being.
Religious recruiters tell you that to have a personal relationship with their god you need to work at it because good relationships rarely happen without effort on both sides. This is a convenient ploy to avoid people's natural disbelief. When you say to them "where is this god?", they avoid the issue by putting the onus on you to "work at it". In fact all you are doing is working at deluding yourself. Stop wasting your time trying to convert yourself.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time For Reflection

QUESTION: Today's comes from JR...
"I'm old and sick and don't have much time left, and as I look back over my life I know it's been wasted. I thought I was having a good time, but now I realize it's too late and I'm not ready to meet God. Maybe someone will learn from my bad example."

We all know that we are mortal and that our time will come sooner or later. The later years are often times of reflection, and it seems that you are not content with your life so far. You write that you had a good time - don't be upset about this. There is no point in leading a miserable life and you may well have made others happy in the process. Life is about enjoying yourself, helping others, and leaving the world a better place than when you arrived. If you feel you have underachieved in any of these areas, then set yourself some goals while you still can.
I can assure you everyone can look back and find fault with themselves, but don't let this induce feelings of guilt. Religions constantly try to make us dissatisfied with ourselves, and followers can end up wracked with guilt. Resist this guilt trip. When you look back, focus on the positives and your achievements. Be content that you are human. If you think that others can learn from your experiences, then write them down or even start a blog!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Scant Comfort

QUESTION: Today's comes from MWR...
"I'm having a hard time these days, both physically (several surgeries in recent years) and spiritually. I know I asked Christ to come into my life when I was a teenager, but now I wonder if I'd go to heaven if something happened to me. How can I know?".

You are obviously having a hard time of life at the moment despite asking Jesus to come into it. His presence and protection hasn't made any difference, as his followers lives are besieged by the same trials and tribulations as non-believers.
Belief systems make extraordinary claims. Their promise of a specific outcome if you die can never be satisfactory because no one really knows what will happen. It is normal to have doubts about anything that you are not sure of. The reassuring thoughts provided by religion are supposed to make your life more comforting but they do not deliver - believers' lives are wracked with doubts.
As things stand at the moment you will find more solace in getting suport from the things that can demonstrate some solidarity: friends; family; your own thoughts and feelings; medical science; and the world around us. Draw comfort from those things that demonstrate strength, not those that promise it.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Narrow Upbringing

QUESTION: Today's comes from PN...
"We did our best to raise our two sons in a loving home, and we always took them to church and urged them to follow Jesus. One has turned out very well, with a fine family and active in his church, but our other son was always rebellious and now is in prison for dealing drugs. What did we do wrong? We must've been terrible parents to have such a son."

As is instintive to parents you have tried to raise your boys to the best of your ability. Obviously there are many factors that affect how a person turns out, but you need to ask yourself if you had raised them under a different belief system whether they would have turned out differently. The one who turned to crime and was always rebellious appears to be resentful that you have tried to dictate to him what spiritual life he should lead. A normal result of such narrow parenting is that the offspring are caught between their inherent disbelief and guilt that they are not following their upbringing. Even though you meant well, it would have been better to raise your children with open enquiring minds. In that way they would find a spiritual direction that brings them contentment, not guilt. All parents should realise that choosing a belief system is a subjective exercise that varies from one individual to another. Hopefully the rebellious one can find a role model who won't try to constantly force some belief down his throat.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Taking Responsibility

QUESTION: Today's comes from RW...
"My husband says he doesn't feel any need for the church or Jesus because he thinks he can make it into heaven on his own. I admit he's a good person, but how can I make him see this isn't enough, and that he needs Jesus in his life?".

Imagine a place where there are no unpleasant people, no crime, nothing goes wrong, you can have anything you want, and those people who died before you and you really miss will be waiting there for you. Couple this with the human being's natural fear of death and you get something too good to be true. The lure of some heavenly life after death is understandable, but anyone's opinion of what happens after death can only be speculation. However, curiously enough there are plenty of people who claim with absolute conviction that they know all about the hereafter and how to get there. These people are to be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Your husband seems to desire heaven without wanting the religious dogma that goes with it. he is obviously confused by the conflicting messages that various belief systems claim. You claim he's a good person so what are you complaining about? He seems to be taking responsibility for himself, not relying on unsubstantiable religious myth peddled by a delusional man of the cloth. Furthermore if anyone claims to not need these priestly charlatans they are discredited by being accused of having excessive pride. They have the exits covered, so be careful.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Being Lead Astray

QUESTION: Today's comes from LS...
"My nephew refuses to look for a job because he says he knows what God wants him to do, and until God leads him to the right job, it would be wrong for him to take another. But he's mainly depending on his mother-in-law to support his family. Is this right?".

So your nephew knows what god wants him to do? How does he know this? There has never been any god ever that has communicated directly to any sane person. Communication from deities is only ever in coincidences and signs that need to be interpreted. Your nephew's information from god is really what he himself wants to do. In a similar fashion many people are deluded that they know what their god wants, but they are merely using religiosity to justify their own ends. The danger in this situation is that no-one can talk sense into them because they only answer to what they believe is a higher authority. People can hold all sorts of bizarre beliefs based around supposed communications from a deity, and the world is stuck with them.
In the case of your nephew, his family is suffering the lack of a breadwinner due to him being misguided as to directions from some deity. You won't be able to talk him out of it, as he will see your entreaties to be the work of the devil. Organised religion claims another victim.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Think About It

QUESTION: Today's comes from SMN...
"I'd really like to find God, but I get confused because there are so many religions. I didn't grow up in a religious family, but I've studied some of the main religions, although I haven't made much progress. Maybe you can help me".

When you observe the vast number of people world-wide you can see there is an innate desire and curiosity about the supernatural. To be curious is perfectly natural. Rather than trying to satisfy your curiosity it would be more pertinent to wonder why you have this spiritual urge. When you can understand this and put it in perspective you will not feel any need to choose one of the world's belief systems.
I'm not surprised that in your studies you have made no progress. There are innumerable belief systems which all claim to be the only true one - just ask an adherent of any of them. However, if you have studied them you will have concluded that they all have the same underlying fundamentals: a unique deity; a holy text; a set of rituals. When you have acknowledged the human being's susceptibility to such systems you will realise that they are all human constructs, and thus there is no correct one. Most people choose a deity based around the beliefs of their family or community. You are fortunate that you weren't brought up with any particular beliefs hammered into your head.
I encourage you to think carefully about this issue. The more you think the less you can be swayed by any irrational impulses.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unanswered Prayers

QUESTION: Today's comes from CDF...
"If God sometimes says 'no' to our prayers, then why bother to pray? I admit I have a hard time trying to figure out when to pray and when to just keep quiet -- although if something looks hopeless, I really don't see any reason to pray about it."

From time to time throughout our lives we are faced with challenges and hurdles. Sometimes these obstacles appear to be insurmountable by ourselves and it is natural to seek help wherever we can. However, praying to a god has never been proven to have any effect. Religious people don't have better health, don't have more good fortune, and don't avoid death and injury any more than the rest of the population.
Consider the concept of praying for the weather. A religious person will pray for rain and when it rains two days later they thank their god. However, weather happens every day anyway and so it may just be coincidence. Also how many other people live in your city? What were they praying for? It is very ego-centric to credit the whole city's weather to your prayers. Furthermore, your next door neighbour may be praying to Allah for rain - so whose god gets the credit? Perhaps your neighbour may be praying for sunshine, in which case you can imagine the heavenly tog-of-war as one god pushes the clouds above your place and the other god pulls them away again!
Your last sentence inadvertently touched upon the essence of this issue "....I don't see any reason....". The total disengagement of prayer from reason should be enough to show us that prayer is futile. Whilst there is nothing we can do about the weather, there is a well-known saying that applies here: One pair of hands doing something about a problem is more valuable than one thousand clasped in prayer.


Monday, August 16, 2010

QUESTION: today's comes from SK...
"The kindest, most thoughtful person I know says she is an atheist and doesn't even believe in God. I always thought we needed to believe in God before we'd behave like she does, but I guess this isn't necessarily tue, is it?".

It's not hard to find plenty of people who don't believe in god and yet who are decent human beings. It is one of the great deceptions of Christianity that people need to believe in a god to have a fulfilling life. There has never been any correlation proven between law-breaking and religiosity. You will find the full gamut of people in both the religious and non-religious camps. This concept, peddled by Christians, that if someone changes to worship the Christian god their life will improve, is unsubstantiable and arrogant. It is a direct insult to those of other faiths and those with no supernatural faith.
Furthermore it's not hard to find religious people who are wracked with guilt and beset by doubts. They certainly do not have any inner peace - some such as a recent pope will self-flagellate because they have been brainwashed to believe that they are unworthy sinners. Churches even coerce their flock into coming once per week to shore up their flagging faith. Atheists do not need this regular cheer-leading session: what's logical and rational one day will be logical and rational the next.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

QUESTION: Today's comes from P.McD...
"How did the men who wrote the Bible know what happened thousands of years before they were born - things like the creation of the world, for example? I'd like to believe the Bible, but I guess I have too many unanswered questions."

The men who wrote the bible claim to know what happened because they were inspired by some god. Their tales of creation, Noah's ark, people being swallowed and regurgitated by whales, burning bushes, etc have been proven to be false or impossible. The only conclusion is that these stories are made up. The creation myth has been debunked by evolution and geology. The flooding of the world at the time of Noah has no correlation with the experience of any culture outside the Middle East. You need to ask yourself why these impossible events occurred so much back then but never now.
If you are tempted to believe the bible's creation story because you want to have faith then it would be a worthwhile exercise to check out other versions of creation in wikipedia. Just type in "creation myth" and see if you can believe any of the preposterous nonsense listed there.
Furthermore you say you'd like to believe the bible. From the prevalence of belief systems over the centuries it appears that you are not the only one ready to believe something. It seems to be a human trait to want there to be something more - some higher plane of life. It is natural to search for this, but don't let a flawed publication such as the bible hinder your quest for the truth.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

It Depends On How You Look At It

QUESTION: Today's comes from SL...
"A friend of mine says you can prove anything from the Bible, and therefore it doesn't make any sense to believe it. To prove her point, she claimed the Bible even says in one place that there is no God. I don't agree with her, but I didn't know what to say."

There are many denominations of Christianity. Wikipedia catalogues a myriad of these, and they exist because each has their own interpretation of the bible. If the bible were clear in its message there would only be one denomination, but it patently is a very interpretational text. There are several groups in my neighbourhood who lead radically different lifestyles based around the same bible. It's not hard to find justification for extreme views from a book in which the divine being takes extreme action such as: listing the rules for slavery; destroying whole towns (men, women, children, babies, animals); treating women as possessions; requesting animal sacrifices; and drowning the whole world's population except the eight on the ark. What tends to happen is that the reader already has their view of life and then scours the bible to find corroborating verses, and disregards the rest. If they can't find justification then they twist the text to suit their ends.
Also bible followers claim it to be the ultimate source of life guidance, however, this task can also be fulfilled from other works such as Aesop's Fables or the Laws of Hammurabi. Furthermore the bible makes claim to successful prophesy, but so do the writings of Nostradamus if you interpret them favourably. The bible is a very interpretational text and there are many sources of moral guidance, so read them all and selectively draw inspiration from all of them.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Guilt Trip

QUESTION: Today's comes from JK...
"I think people's guilty feelings are just a psychological hang-up. We feel guilt because we don't do what others expect of us. But if we'd quit worrying about that, our guilt feelings would go away. I don't buy what you preachers say about our need for forgiveness."

You are correct when you say that we feel guilty because we don't do what others expect of us, but there are other factors that come into play. Our feelings of guilt come from our consciences which are shaped by a number of influences. Firstly, there is our upbringing where principles are instilled into us by our parents and teachers. There is a direct correlation between what they teach us and our consciences. Second, there is society in general which shapes our understanding of living together. There is a direct correlation between what society teaches and our principles. Thirdly there are the laws of the country which are very definite in what is permitted. There is a direct correlation between these laws and our actions. And finally, there are our own thought processes whereby, as we mature, we realise truths about the world from our own life experiences. There is a direct correlation between what we learn from ourselves and our mistakes, and how we treat others.
However, there is no correlation between anyone's god and our consciences. There is no link here, in fact there is not even any semblence of consensus about what form god takes, much less what principles he tries to distill in us. This regular but futile attempt to give god credit for our behavioural principles is completely unfounded.
So by all means quit worrying because worrying is just a destructive emotion. However, your conscience will remain, and the more you listen to it the more harmonious your life will be.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Irrelevant Belief

QUESTION: Today's comes from DN...
"Some of the best people I know aren't Christians, and in fact they aren't even religious. On the other hand, some of the most selfish people I know claim to be Christians. How do you explain this, if Christianity is supposed to make a difference in our lives?".

It's easy to verify your observation that there are decent people who aren't Christian, as they can be found in all walks of life. They may belong to another religion or may not be religious at all. What impels us to be good comes from our upbringing, our society, and our conscience. There has never been any statistics gathered that prove that Christians commit fewer crimes. Which god anyone believes in doesn't seem to make any difference to the life they lead. Supernatural belief is irrelevant to this. Decent people are identifiable from their words and deeds. Anyone who thinks clearly can see the irrelevance of religion.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Futile Mission

QUESTION: Today's comes from GH...
"This summer, our church's youth group is going on a mission trip overseas for a couple of weeks. They'll be doing some construction work for a church there, but do trips like this honestly do any good? What can a bunch of unskilled teenagers do that the local people can't do for themselves?".

In this question you don't mention anything about the destination country, so it can be assumed that it is a second or third world country. However, there are even missionaries who go to first world countries and it amazes me that they knock on my door to enquire if I have heard about Jesus Christ. Do they really think that I haven't? What a waste of time, money, and effort! No matter what level of wealth the destination country enjoys, the purpose of this trip is to convert people - that's what a mission is. Every culture has some sort of deity and/or belief system. I can't see the benefit that changing someone's deity will bring, all it will do is improve the stats for the missionaries. Changing the god someone worships will make no difference to their life.
Your youth group probably has the characteristics of most young people in that they are idealistic and full of energy, so even though they are light on experience, they have plenty to offer. As for helping with construction of churches in poorer countries it would be more beneficial if they helped in the construction of something useful such as wells or health clinics. When people build houses of worship the only benefit is to their religion, there is no benefit to the local populace because they undoubtedly already have a set of beliefs.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Sky Is Falling

QUESTION: Today's comes from PF...
"My friend keeps sending me e-mails about what's happening in the world, and some of them are really scary. We seem to be headed downhill faster and faster -- economically, socially, morally, you name it. I don't see much of anything good happening in our country, do you?".

At first thought there appears to be so much wrong with the world today: terrorism; climate change; AIDS; economic crises; etc. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that civilisation as we know it is in decline. However, when you think back to earlier times, even though they didn't have the problems we have now, they still had other huge problems. In the last 100 years there have been: global pandemics; world wars; the great depression; the holocaust; etc. Before that there were: regular wars; rampant disease; widespread ignorance; etc.
How many times do you hear an old person (or a person old at heart) moan about how things used to be so much better? If you hear this, challenge the speaker to describe how things used to be and ask them exactly when this utopia occurred. Invariably they are unable to do so without resorting to selective memory. Other people say that the young people these days are dreadful and just don't care. I remember in the early 1970's when I was a teenager the older generations said the same about us. Everything old is new again. Things are different now, but not worse.
Furthermore there are sections within our society in whose interests it is to make us alarmed, such as politicians, media outlets, and religious leaders. Media outlets prosper by making us worried about disasters that befall us, so they sensationalise everything that happens to engender a reaction in their audience. Our news services are so efficient that the slightest calamity anywhere in the world is immediately broadcast into our loungerooms. Politicians and religious leaders want us to believe that society is degenerating so that we look to them for support and leadership by voting for them or by joining their congregations. My advice is to be concerned about society, do what you can to improve things, but don't waste your mental health by worrying.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Alternate Spirituality

QUESTION: Today's comes from RK...
"I went into a shop the other day and the owner started talking with me about her beliefs, which I found fascinating. She says she has the ability to communicate with spirits from centuries ago, and she's into all sorts of things of a mystical nature. I'm interested in spirituality. Could this be what I'm looking for?".

It's not hard to encounter someone who will try to impress their beliefs upon you. It happened to you in a shop, but it can happen when someone stops you in the street, or knocks on your door, etc. This demonstrates that these beliefs must be conveyed to others via human discourse. Believers may genuinely think their dogma to be authentic, but no spiritual dogma is inherent in us and it is never conveyed directly from the supernatural beings themselves, so it is obviously man-made.
You tell us that you are interested in spirituality. This is quite common because it's an area that defies rational analysis and for some reason the human being is receptive to such thoughts. Just look at the number and popularity of movies, TV programs, books, etc that are based on the supernatural. By all means be entertained by these sources (I'm sure the shopkeeper is fascinating), but beware giving any credibility to other people's delusions.
Furthermore any spiritual person will warn you off other belief systems bacuse they deem them to be erroneos and hence misleading. They describe other beliefs as superstitious and dangerous. This leaves the open-minded enquirer with a choice between competing systems. The only logical conclusion is that none of them have any credibility.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Deteriorating Health

QUESTION: Today's comes from QR...
"My husband retired a couple of years ago, and now all he does is worry about his health. He only has a few minor problems (like anyone his age) but all he can think about is how he might become disabled some day, and things like that. How can I change this? Or should I even try?".

They say that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. It is inevitable that as we age our health deteriorates as our bodies slowly wear out. This is a reality that everyone has to face, as the human body is having to live longer than our ancestors' did. Your husband needs to come to terms with his mortality. It is not a topic that sits easily with our desire for life, but is an unfortunate reality. The human lifespan is tiny in relation to the totality of time and it is hard for us to accept how fleeting our life really is. It is normal to want to live forever, and religions often pander to our insecurity about death, but being philosophical about our demise will make it easier to accept and easier to accept our deteriorating health. Furthermore praying about health has never been proven to make any difference, and worrying about it can actually have a deleterious effect. Staying interested in other people and active in mind and body will help you maximise life's enjoyment.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wrong Question

QUESTION: Today's comes from AN...
"Why does the devil keep trying to win the battle between good and evil, when he must know that at the end of time he's not going to be the victor? God is going to win in the end, isn't He?".

Your question makes a few assumptions, such as the existence of a devil, a god, good, and evil. None of these concepts exist in anyone's life. Life is not a choice between good and evil. How often do you ask yourself "what is the right thing to do in this situation?", and how often do you fail to arrive at a satisfactory answer? You are asking yourself the wrong question. There are many actions open to us at any one time. These actions have different consequences for different people over different time frames, and a lot of those consequences cannot be predicted. Life is not black and white.
There is no point to living your life in the hope that one day a supernatural being will completely remodel the world so that it becomes a fantastical place where all your dreams come true. This would be a waste of your life and of your mind. The concepts of a devil and a god and angels and archangels and spirits and apocalyses and saints are total fantasy.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Awkward Questions

QUESTION: Today's comes from DN...
"A friend of mine claims to be interested in Christianity, but whenever I answer one of his questions, he just comes up with another question. Do you think he's sincere, or am I wasting my time trying to talk to him about Jesus?".

It is perfectly reasonable to ask questions. No discipline should be afraid of having to justify itself, however, Christians become very defensive and doubt your motives if you start asking probing questions. They have been taught that any idea or thought which casts doubt on their faith is the work of the devil and needs to be resisted. They claim the only way to accept that Jesus is really the son of god is through faith. But if a hypothesis can't stand on its own two feet then it is not worthy of our support, especially the unquestioning support that belief systems require.
Don't criticise your friend for asking questions - if your answers were satisfactory then he wouldn't have to keep asking more. Perhaps you should be asking yourself some awkward questions such as: why you need to have your faith reaffirmed every week; why you accept things to be true that you cannot prove; and why the particular god you have chosen is the only one that really exists.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Atheist Blogroll

Today's news is that this blog has been proudly added to the Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist Blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lacking Direction

QUESTION: Today's comes from JN...
"I just got out of college, and I'm in a panic because I don't have any idea what I want to do. Right now, I'm working in a restaurant, but I don't want to do that the rest of my life. I admit I goofed off more than I should have but now it's catching up with me. How can I decide?".

There's always a kid in every class that knows what they want to do for a living from a young age. They invariably go on and make a success out of it. However, don't be perturbed that you have not settled on a direction yet as there are plenty of people like you. At this stage it would be worthwhile to have an in depth analysis about yourself: what are your abilities, interests, and goals? Use a trusted person to help, preferably an older person who has more life experience than you do. What have you studied in college? Does it lead to any vocation that would be suitable? What other training could you do?
In the meantime stay with the restaurant work at least until you decide on your next direction. Any decision you make is not necessarily for life. Plenty of people change careers a few times in their life. Consider travel. Go and work in an exotic far-away place. The pay won't be much but you'll learn a lot and the resultant maturity will stand you in good stead. Keep an open mind and back yourself!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Helping Others

QUESTION: Today's comes from MWR...
"I know I ought to pay more attention to God and be more active in my church, but I'm so busy trying to keep my business going that I have a hard time fitting everything in. Does God understand this, or is He upset because I'm not giving Him as much attention as I should?".

It takes a lot of time and effort to start up a business and to keep it going. Use as much time as you need to make the venture stable and profitable. However, keep in mind that there are other important things in life, such as your friends, family, and health. Try to achieve a healthy balance in life but don't allow the business to stagnate as all of your efforts thus far will be in vain. Beware of worshipping a god who gets upset because you supposedly don't spend enough time on him. Is such a deity worthy of your respect?
As for charity, there are those who have time, those who have aptitude, and those who have money. If your business goes well enough for you to support your dependents and to provide for the future then you should consider giving a generous donation each year to a worthwhile charity. Make sure to give directly to the charity, not to a church, as the latter will use a sizeable proportion on propping up their infrastructure and a lot of your efforts will be wasted. You don't have to spend a lot of your personal time to be a charitable person - it's just as important to support those who do.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Help Yourself

QUESTION: Today's comes from LF...
"I've always tried to do my best and live by the Bible's statement that "God helps those who help themselves" because I want to go to heaven when I die. But recently a friend said she thinks this may not be what the Bible means by this statement. Is she right?".

There's not a human being who has not done something wrong in their lives. Thus there is no totally good person and no totally bad person. We are all a combination of these to varying degrees, which changes over time. Patently any religion that preaches that good people go to heaven will end up with an empty heaven, and empty pews. So Christianity gets round this by proclaiming that Jesus Christ died for our sins and if you accept this you will go to heaven. On the surface (like most religious dogma) this appears to be just and to make sense, but on examination it is extraordinarily arrogant. According to it any member of another religion, or indeed atheist, who leads an exemplary life cannot go to heaven, and anyone who leads a rotten life will only need to sincerely accept Jesus on their deathbed to ensure a berth in heaven. Furthermore those people who never even hear about Jesus throughout their entire lives are doomed to the fires of hell forever. Christianity appeals to people's vanity by convincing them that they have chosen the right religion whilst all the other belief systems are made out to be phoney. Christianity preys on our fear of death to offer us something that is arrogant, unjust, and cannot be proven.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stand On Your Own Two Feet

QUESTION: Today's comes from NR...
"In my view, religion is only for weak people who can't stand on their own two feet. Life isn't easy, but it's useless to lean on some imaginary "God" for help. We have to fight our own battles and can only depend on ourselves. I don't have any use for religion."

Life isn't easy. There are pitfalls and pleasures, setbacks and triumphs. It's hard to negotiate life's journey by yourself, so we all need the support of friends and family. Some people like the idea of there being an ultimate authority to help them. This is a parallel to when we were children and we could always run to our mummy when the going got tough. However, it is part of growing up to take on responsibility, and anyone who leans on an absent being is abrogating their responsibility to themselves. Saying prayers into the cosmos has never brought any tangible results, and is patently a worthless waste of time. You have obviously thought about things and made a decision. Congratulations. Many do not have the strength to do so, particularly when it involves going against what they have been taught since childhood. Don't let a run of misfortune weaken your resolve to be in charge of your own destiny. There is no god to intervene in your favour.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Onward Christian Soldiers

QUESTION: Today's comes from JE...
"Our son is planniing to enlist in the military in a few months. I know we're supposed to believe God will take care of him, but right now we've got a bad case of nerves and our fears are a lot stronger than our faith. How can we get over this?".

There's no denying that doing military service is dangerous. The main purpose of the job is to kill others and put your own life on the line for your country. No amount of praying will change this fact. Furthermore there are no statistics that show religious soldiers have a lower casualty rate than others. Unfortunately for your family there is no divine spiritual being to take care of your son.
The mainstream religions preach peace and loving your neighbours. However, it doesn't seem to be put into practice as every army has their chaplain to bless the troops as they go into battle. How often do you hear priests condemn war?
Instead of wasting your time praying, how about thinking about the issues at stake. What battles will your son be expected to fight? Do you support these conflicts? Does he? Do the supposed enemy belong to another religion? How will these conflicts be viewed in decades to come? If you feel strongly let your political leaders know your feelings. They are very susceptible to public sentiment.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Extrapolation From Nothing

QUESTION: Today's comes from MG...
"Did you read about those scientists who think they've uncovered the image of Jesus from what might have been His burial cloth? Maybe now we'll know what he looked like. Or do we already know?".

We do not know what Jesus looked like because no one recorded it at the time. Trying to reconstruct his image from a cloth two thousand years later is such an inaccurate exercise that it is not worth pursuing. That a cloth can survive this long engenders a high level of scepticism. Beware of this supposed scientific venture. Invoking scientists to try and recreate someone's image from a cloth lends no credence to whether he actually was some deity. There is no scientific evidence for Jesus or that his alleged miracles actually happened.
There are major figures from long ago who had their image recorded, and if Jesus was really the great leader that his followers profess then it follows that many people should have drawn his face. However, they didn't and you have to ask yourself whether he was such a prominent person or has his reputation become enhanced with the passage of time by people desperate for a concrete sign from god. Having a religious belief that is founded on faith is constantly problematic as the followers always have a nagging doubt in their minds as to its veracity. So much so that they desperately latch onto the slightest shred of evidence.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pointless Food Rituals

QUESTION: Today's comes from CC...
"I'm very committed to making sure our family eats healthy foods and gets lots of exercise, but my husband says I'm overdoing it. Does the Bible say anything about living a healthy lifestyle?".

There's not going to be anyone who could argue against healthy foods and lots of exercise being a worthwhile guide. However, what exactly this means is not cut and dried. As we learn more about nutrition and how the body works we modify these guidelines. One of the key words in a healthy lifestyle is balance. Don't become too fanatical about diet. Eat a bit of everything and enjoy your repast without guilt.
The Bible lists animals that should be eaten and vice versa. However, these rules do not apply now as farming techniques have changed and our perceptions have changed. For example pigs were forbidden to be eaten because they were unclean animals, but this does not apply now. Don't deny yourself the luxury of eating bacon - it is one of life's pleasures! Some religions instruct their followers to eat unleavened bread at certain times. There is no nutritional reason for this. Outdated rules such as this prove the worthlessness of following an ancient text that was written for a time long gone. Most belief systems have pointless eating rules which serve no useful purpose: Don't eat certain foods; Eat particular foods on particular days; Kill animals in a certain way; etc.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two Day Christianity

QUESTION: Today's comes from LK...
"I admit we're mainly 'Christmas and Easter' Christians, since those are the only days we go to church. But what's wrong with that? Weekends are the only time we have to ourselves, and God wouldn't want us to neglect our family time, would He?"

There are well over a billion Christians in the world, but church attendances are poor. Obviously most of them don't go to church, and attendance is dropping especially in the Western world. So you are typical Christians in that you have taken on the dominant religion in your neighbourhood and country because you think it's the right thing to do. You are obviously satisfied with your life and are intelligent enough to realise you don't need guidance from an organisation that clings to unverifiable doctrine and has proven itself to be morally bankrupt many times over.
It's time to ask yourself the big questions regarding your belief and view of the world. If you examine the situation objectively you will not find any need for any god. However, there are some principles that Christianity unfairly takes credit for that you may wish to uphold. These include things like "treat others as you want them to treat you", "care for others less fortunate than yourself", "leave the world a better place than you found it", etc. So use your leisure time wisely. Time spent with loved ones is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but also mutually beneficial.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Preying On The Young

QUESTION: Today's comes from JH...
"Our daughter came home from college at Christmas and told us she'd become a Christian there. We're not religious, however, and recently she's turned very negative toward us for not believing as she does. Is this the way Christians are supposed to act?".

The greatest gift any parent can give their offspring is an unencumbered mind, and you have obviously given that to your daughter by not indoctrinating her when she was young and impressionable. However, people at her age are very idealistic and someone has recruited her by appealing to her idealism. They have told her that to be a decent person she needs to convert to Christianity which they tell us is the superior religion. The corollary of this stance is that she now thinks that you are inferior idealistically and spiritually, which is an attitude typical of religious people. No wonder religions are so often in conflict. There are hundreds of gods and all of their followers think they are worshipping the one and only. It is important at this stage to let her realise that you and the rest of the family are decent people with a firm set of morals and principles, and that you didn't need a deity to arrive at them. However, don't try to directly talk her out of her new-found faith as this will just make her defensive. It's an awkward situation for you, as it's hard to sit down and have a rational discussion about something so irrational. Having different members of the family with different belief systems is another way that religions divide people up.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Taxing Problem

QUESTION: Today's comes from RMcD...
"Last year I earned some extra money working on the side and I didn't see any reason for paying income tax on it this year. Several friends did the same, but my wife says this was wrong in God's eyes. What does God have to do with taxes? That's not a spiritual issue."

Is it wrong to pay less than your share of taxes? Of course it is, and it is shortsighted as well because the government uses the money to provide services for you and everyone else. What does your conscience tell you to do? Your conscience is that part of yourself that compels you to do the right things. It is programmed into you genetically, by your upbringing, and by society's standards. You're grown up now, so there is no parent or any other being hovering over you to force you into anything. Look inside yourself and decide. Ultimately you are the one who has to live with your decision.
You may think that doing a small transaction in the cash economy will make no difference to the national economy, but when taken to extreme it can be devastating. Just look at the mess that Greece is in at the moment. Due principally to the cash economy their government hasn't been collecting the proper amount of taxes for years on end, but have been spending as if they had. Inevitably the national debt mounted up until the country became totally broke, with the country's debt now above 100% of GDP. If you don't want this to happen to your country then pay your share of the country's bills.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Outdated Beliefs

QUESTION: Today's comes from DR...
"Over the centuries, we've changed our ideas about every other area of knowledge, so why shouldn't we change our ideas about God? Why should I believe in a religion that's almost 2,000 years old?".

If you examine the history of spiritual thought you will see that there has been constant, albeit slow change. Over the centuries belief systems have come and gone. They have often been dominant for hundreds if not thousands of years, but inevitably they die out and are replaced. Religions always postulate some explanation for natural phenomena, but the totality of human knowledge is increasing all the time obviating the need for any religious explanation. We no longer worship the sun as the ancient Egyptians did because we understand it, and we don't worship Posiedon the god of the oceans because we now understand the waves and tides etc. We no longer think that the way to stop a volcano erupting is to throw in a virgin. Similarly the current crop of religions will die out. Unfortunately history tells us that they will be replaced by another raft of religions, and unfortunately the cycle will inevitably repeat. The human being seems to have an inbuilt need (or want) for there to be some sort of overarching spiritual guidance. I don't have the gene for this but the majority of the world's population seem to have it. The best we can hope for is to make people realise that we have a choice - that we don't have to follow the beliefs of our family or community. The more people think about these matters, the more likely that irrational beliefs will die out.
In a way you could see belief systems as being in some sort of Darwinian struggle for survival. They compete with each other for territory and do their best to propagate themselves. Followers are constantly being recruited and barriers are put in the way of apostates. The weak religions die out and the strong last for centuries. Classic survival of the fittest!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


QUESTION: Today's comes from LP...
"I know we can become addicted to things like alcohol and drugs, but is it possible to become addicted to other things? My cousin spends hours and hours every day exercising, and it's almost like an addiction with her."

It's quite true that it's not only alcohol and drugs that you can become addicted to. Any activity can become addictive, such as video games, sport, and even religion. However, it's important to delineate between interest and addiction. An addiction has two main components: you are compelled to do some activity; and there is some damaging effect from that activity. What is the downside of your cousin's exercising? Keeping oneself fit and healthy is admirable, but does it take all her time so that other aspects of life are neglected? From the information you've provided, it is unlikely that your cousin is addicted. Why don't you pull on some shorts and join her - you might find out something. At the very least your fitness will improve!
There are plenty of people around the world who become fanatical about religion. It is illuminating to check them against the addiction indicators: compulsion and damage. I'm sure you could find plenty of positive matches, but try telling some religious fanatic that they need to acknowledge they have a problem and to start detox.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Distant God

QUESTION: Today's comes from ZS...
"I don't have any trouble believing in God but He seems very far away -- like a distant relative I've never met. People talk about getting close to God, but what do they mean by this, and is it really possible?".

So you believe in a god but don't actually know anything about him. I can tell you that you will never receive any response from him because there never has been and never will be. Any feedback such as answered prayers can all be explained in other ways. This lack of response is telling you that he does not really exist, other than in your head. There seems to be a need in some human beings for there to be a higher spiritual power and it is ok to hold such a belief, but avoid the delusion that there is actually a being in existence somewhere. If you hop into a helicopter and fly all over the world you will see the manifestation of this need in many different (and at times quite bizarre) ways. The various cultures around the world have a multitude of gods, and each one is considered to be the one and only. Some belief systems worship many gods, but the common theme is lack of response from them. Be wary of anyone who tries to peddle a god to you because they can never have any proof. However, they act as though they are totally convinced and in so doing betray their lack of intellectual rigour.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Different Children

QUESTION: Today's comes from GR...
"Why are children so cruel? Our son has some slight physical handicaps, and it's really hard for us to watch some of the children in his class make fun of him and call him nicknames that are hurtful. We've thought about saying something to his teachers, but we don't want to be complainers".

Children can be hurtful to those they see as different. It seems to be programmed into our nature to be conscious of differences. Perhaps it was an aid to survival in more primative times for like beings to band together for protection. I would certainly approach his teacher about this, as well as any religious teachers of the other students because they aren't doing their job properly. They should be teaching the children that it's ok to be different. It's worthwhile to point out to your son that he is different, but also point out that all students in his class have a point of difference. The more different types of children are in a class, the more likely they will, with the right teaching, come to accept each other and grow up tolerant.
In my locality there are many different schools run by various religions. Children are divided up based on the religion of their parents and educated separately. This cannot be conducive to harmony as young people grow up with mutual distrust and lack of understanding. All children should be educated together, with religious instruction kept for a separate time.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Too Much Altruism

QUESTION: Today's comes from KJ...
"I work in the emergency room of our local hospital, and to be honest, I'm about burned out. I get very discouraged because most of the people who come here are here because of their own bad decisions -- too much drinking, drugs, fighting, you name it. We patch them up, but two weeks later they're back. Why bother? Should I change careers?".

You obviously have a job that is more stressful than most. Also you obviously have an altruistic streak whereby you get fulfillment from helping others, but are getting frustrated that your efforts are not making any difference. How long has it been since your last holiday? If it has been a while then take a long break and see how you feel upon your return. If you've had the usual number of breaks recently then you may be ready for a change in direction. Recent research has shown that people such as paramedics have a significantly higher rate of burn-out and mental health issues. How do your co-workers fare? It may be time to move on. What else could you do? Are there any medical roles where you get to use your skills in an environment where you'll be more readily appreciated? Think carefully. You only get one life. By all means help others, but don't waste all of your life in sacrifice for others thinking that you'll get some reward after you die. This is unsubstantiable delusion.
Above all don't ask yourself "what is the right thing to do in this situation?". How many times do we ask ourselves that very question? And how often are we unable to find an answer? We are actually asking ourselves the wrong question. There is no right answer. Life is not black and white. There are different courses of action that have different outcomes for different people at different times, and a lot of the outcomes cannot be seen from where we are now.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Treatment Of Animals

QUESTION: Today's comes from KH...
"Our daughter is very tender-hearted toward animals, and recently became a volunteer at our local animal shelter. We're glad she's found something that interests her, since many kids her age (she's 16) drift along without much purpose. She feels this is what God wants her to do with her life, but is God really interested in things like this?".

In caring for animals it's great that your daughter has found something that motivates her. It's intrinsic to human nature that people have empathy for other living things, some have it more so than others. Also some animals are cuter and friendlier than others, but they have the same intrinsic value as those that are not quite as loveable. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that animals also serve mankind, by providing food, clothing, guide dogs, etc. In recent times civilised countries are becoming more conscious of the treatment of animals, and as a result farming has become more humane. This change has come about because society and the times we live in have changed. Agitation for better treatment for animals has not come from religion. In fact some religions still insist on animals being killed in a particular way, which has no correlation to the welfare of the animal. What's more the Christian bible has many references to the practice of sacrificing animals to satisfy god. The method to do so is clearly spelled out in several places. Bizarrely, Noah was so grateful with god for saving him from the flood that he constructed an altar and sacrificed many animals as a gesture of thanks. He only started with two of each so who knows how many species he made extinct!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tax-Free Havens

QUESTION: Today's comes from MH...
"I just paid my taxes, and it makes me angry to see all the churches, charities and other organizations that don't pay a cent in taxes, while I have to pay until it hurts. They ought to pay their fair share just like everyone else. I know you don't agree, but that's my position."

Back in the past when tax exemptions for religions and charities were formalised it was assumed that they used all of their money (after covering costs) for charitable works. So the making of this law was reasonable to bring maximum benefit to society. However, when you look more closely, religions are stockpiling assets (been to the Vatican lately?) and using vast sums in proselytising. Moneys spent on feathering their own nest and recruiting followers are not charitable works and so should not be above the tax laws.
The recent global financial crisis brought to light how staggeringly wealthy some religions are. The Anglican diocese in my region lost a hippopotamian $160 million through poor investment decisions, yet they are operating only slightly below normal. How wealthy they are is anybody's guess. They are accountable to no one. I think the likelihood of them selling all of their possessions and giving to the poor is extremely slim.
There are even some religions which make products for sale in competition with regular enterprises, eg breakfast cereal. This is unfair as they have the advantage of not paying tax and so can compete on a playing field that is sloped to their advantage. I agree with you, MH. The tax-exempt status of religions and charities is unfair and should be stopped. The best you can do is write to your local member of parliament and keep this issue in the public domain. Perhaps eventually weight of public opinion will bring change.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mothers Day

QUESTION: Today's comes from BF...
"I've had a rocky relationship with my mother most of my life, and in fact we've hardly spoken in the last year. But recently, the mother of a close friend of mine died, and it's started me thinking if I ought to try to change this. But how do I go about it? Or is it even possible?".

There are some truisms that are quite apt: You only get one mother; you can't choose your relatives; blood is thicker than water. It is understandable that you want a good relationship with your mother - she probably wants this too. However, for reconciliation to occur both parties need to meet halfway. So start with a small gesture such as a card on Mothers Day or her birthday, and give her an opportunity to respond in kind. Also it would be instructive to think back on what has gone wrong in the past. There is no point in dredging up past indiscretions, but nevertheless lessons can be learned from them. What does she have to complain about with you? Is there anything that you could change to smooth the process? Do you have any siblings? What sort of relationship do they have with her? Could you get them to invite you to an event at which your mother will attend? The presence of others could temper any overt ill-feeling and provide a foundation for the future. Try to be honest with her without being judgemental. Reconciling a deep chasm with anyone is a challenge, so good luck.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Words In Your Mouth

QUESTION: Today's comes from SL...
"I grew up in a church that always used printed or memorized prayers in its services, and I'm having a hard time learning to pray on my own. I even worry if it's wrong to try praying in our own words, because we might say something wrong and offend God. Is this a danger?".

When deciding on your spiritual beliefs you should look inside yourself and decide what you know to be true. Be careful to distinguish justifiable truths from wishful thinking. Trying to follow someone else's system of beliefs will inevitably lead to inner conflict. The prayers that you were given to say are an example, whereby you feel you are being holy but the prayers do not come from your heart and hence are meaningless. How do you feel about someone putting words into your mouth and telling you what to say? Most people would reject this, as the majority of the population pride themselves on making up their own mind. Religions such as Christianity are by their nature dissatisfying because they come from sources external to yourself. My advice is to decide what you believe in and ignore external influences.
Your question covers praying and worrying and wondering if you are fitting in with the correct dogma. The time and energy used up here would be better spent on thinking things through, making up your own mind, and enjoying yourself.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Hope For The Future

QUESTION: Today's comes from KM...
"I get very disillusioned with the way our politicians squabble all the time. Do you see any hope for the future, or is our nation headed for the trash heap like every other civilization?".

Squabbling politicians are a fact of life in the democracy in which Westerners live. There is a governing party and an opposition and they are opposed to each other and so argument and conflict are inevitable. The purpose of this is so that legislation gets a thorough review before becoming law. The media focuses on this conflict because it provides news. Successful legislation and committees are not newsworthy. Keep in mind that the wheels of parliament turn in their own way and be thankful that we have freedoms and protections that other countries do not have.
How often do you hear the lament that "everything is dreadful now". When someone says this you should ask them when it was that were things so rosy. Sure we have problems and challenges now but this has always been the case. A lot of the problems of the past have been fixed, and unsurprisingly new problems rear their heads. There will always be challenges and the next generation will rise to meet them. Be careful of belittling the next generation. They are as principled and committed as your generation were at the same age.
Looking over the history of humankind there have been civilisations that have risen up and subsequently faded away. In the same manner this will happen to the dominant countries in the world today. However, do not despair about this - the wheels turn very slowly. However, to safeguard later generations it would be prudent to not make enemies in this day and age, and to care for others who are weaker and poorer than yourself. Looking after others will have positive consequences for all involved.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Door To Door Sales

QUESTION: Today's comes from AMcK...
"Some people came to my door the other day to talk about religion, and (if I understood them) they said it's a mistake to say that Jesus was the unique Son of God. We're all sons of God, they said. I don't know much about religion, but are they right?".

Your dilemma underlines one of the weaknesses of Christianity - that is there are so many interpretations of the doctrine and hence so many divisions within the faith. Even learned people who have studied the bible for decades cannot agree on basic tenets such as the one you are perplexed about. Strangely, they all think they're right, so much so that they will doorknock all over the world to convince others to follow their interpretation. I often wonder why they feel the need to do this. Why aren't they content to let people make up their own minds? Can it be that they seek justification for their own fragile beliefs by convincing others to believe the same dogma?
You will find that the evangelists that you mention will use verses from the bible to justify their viewpoint. Then they will use other verses from the bible to justify their use of the bible as the ultimate authority. They don't seem to understand what a circular definition is. The following is a circular definition: 'The bible is the word of god because the bible says so'. Beware of following people who generate such zeal from such shaky evidence.
So are we all the sons of god? It is pointless speculating on such a question. Instead ask yourself whether we are all the same? I have found that, underneath, we are all the same. Do your own research and you will uncover uncontrovertable evidence - and you won't need anyone coming to the door to talk you into anything.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Stairway To Heaven

QUESTION: Today's comes from LF:
"Is there any way I can know -- really know -- that I am going to go to heaven when I die? I believe in Jesus and have given my life to Him, but I still can't say that I know beyond doubt that I'll go to heaven."

There are plenty of theories around concerning what happens after death. They include: some sort of judgement; eternal life; punishment; reincarnation; etc. However, there is no way anyone can possibly know exactly what happens, and as such any theories can never be more than speculation. People come up with theories that reflect what they would like to happen, usually revolving around such things as "you don't actually die - you live forever", "you get judged as a good person", "you get reunited with your loved ones who pre-deceased you", etc. These theories are merely wishful thinking. The human being has a very strong survival instinct, so it's not surprising that people are receptive to after death theories.
Plenty of people profess to be sure that they are going to heaven, but you're bound to find that everyone has doubts. Even someone such as yourself who has dedicated their life to Jesus has doubts. This is normal. I recommend that you stop worrying about what will happen after death and make the most of your life here on Earth. If you lead a decent and fulfilling life then, if there happens to be some post-death judgement, I'm sure you will come out favourably.
The idea that only those who accept Jesus Christ as their saviour will go to heaven is not compatible with an all-loving god. Would such a god consign all non-Christians to eternity in hell because they happened to be born into a family practising another religion? There are plenty of decent people in other faiths, and I'm sure that a god who loves all people equally would not treat them the way Christianity tells us that he would. This proves to me that the Christian idea of heaven is false.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can you choose faith?

QUESTION: Today's comes from GP:
"How can I know which faith is right for me? There are dozens of churches in my city, and I can't visit all of them. I don't come from a religious family, but now that I've moved away from home I feel I need to change. But how do I start?".

To comprehensively tackle the problem of which church to join you would have to analyse all of the available options and compare each to your own view of life. However, this exercise would merely confirm that you already have a valid life view and so have no need for religion.
There are indeed dozens of denominations of Christianity (as there are in Islam and Judaism). Wikipedia can give more details of what they are. The Christian ones all worship the same god and read the same bible yet they lead vastly different lifestyles, some of which can be quite bizarre. The ensuing bickering over policy between faiths is quite sad to behold. This proves how open to interpretation the bible actually is. I'm sure if you put your mind to it you could find a verse which justifies just about anything, which makes it a useless tool by which to determine life's principles.
An interesting exercise for you would be to ask yourself why you "feel the need to change". Having just moved away from your family you may be seeking some activities and companionship. There are many clubs, sporting organisations, faith-free charities, political parties, and special interest groups that you can join to enhance your life.


Visions From God

QUESTION: Today's comes from PMcL:
"In biblical times, did God speak to people in a voice they could hear? If so, why doesn't he do it today? I'd have a much stronger faith if I only heard His voice speaking to me once in a while."

It is a regular occurrence in the Old Testament that God spoke to people. He did it many times but mainly to a select chosen few, such as Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah. Sometimes they had conversations with him several times in one day. God even appeared in "person" on a few occasions, the first being in the Garden of Eden. It is inconsistent that a god who loves all people equally would make it so easy for some to know him but so difficult for others. It is also inconsistent that God appeared in biblical times but not earlier or later. Furthermore it is inconsistent that God appeared to people in one small part of the world, ie the Middle East, but not in any other part. All of these reasons make it extremely unlikely that the Christain God exists now or at any time. Even if he does exist, why worship a being that plays favourites to such an extent?
Some people in modern times claim to have heard the voice of God, however, they are actually hearing their own subconscious minds. Take the example of Pastor Danny Nalliah who had a vision from God saying that the terrible bushfires in Victoria Australia in Feb 2009 were God's punishment for the Victorian Govt passing decriminalisation of abortion laws. No need for me to tell you what the good pastor's viewpoint re abortion is! It's funny how these visions always say what the recipient wants to hear. Ask your local priest whether the vision Pastor Danny Nalliah saw was really from God. If they say "No", then which visions do they believe in? All of Christianity is based on such visions.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Faith Healing

QUESTION: Today's comes from KS:
"I don't understand what's happening to my wife. She seems to have lost any joy for living, and some days she almost can't get out of bed. Her doctor says she needs to go on an anti-depressant medicine, but some friends say we just need more faith. She wants me to make the decision, but I don't know what to do."

From your description it is highly likely that your wife is suffering from depression. This is a mental disease that can afflict anyone, even those with stable happy lives. It is a medical condition and you would be best to take the advice of your doctor, or if still uncertain seek a second medical opinion possibly from a psychologist. Some mental afflications are due to phyiological reasons and hence can be cured by medication.
If your friends say that you ought to rely on faith alone ask them for some case histories of depression sufferers who have tried faith - either by going to a faith healer or to a person of the cloth. I would be very surprised to find any evidence that faith healing has had any success in this area.
If you try both solutions, ie medication and faith, and your wife is subsequently cured, who gets the credit? You can see this situation all of the time. People follow the advice of medical science for a cure then credit a god with providing the solution. There are no statistics that correlate Christians with better health. Therefore faith and prayer make no difference.


Friday, April 23, 2010


QUESTION: Today's comes from VL:
"How can someone be a Christian and yet secretly do something that's obviously illegal? Someone in our church was convicted of embezzlement recently, and now she's headed for prison. How could she do this but still go to church every week? "

I can understand your bewilderment. You are obviously under the misapprehension that people who go to church are "good" people, and those that don't are not. There have never been any crime statistics gathered to support this fallacy, and hence is one of the great furphies of religion. There are just as many people leading decent law-abiding lives outside of religion as inside it. There are just as many scoundrels outside of religion as in it. We are all capable of breaking the law and will do so if we can justify it to ourselves. Who wouldn't steal if their loved ones were starving? The presence of a deity supposedly hovering over us makes no difference.
I have been to church and observed everyone acting holier than thou, but reverting to their normal persona for the rest of the week. Maybe they think anything is okay because they will be forgiven? The weekly rituals of religion are actually a distraction. People attend church, sing, recite prayers, and participate in a ceremony and come away thinking that they are somehow holy and cleansed. They would have been better off doing something character building.