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.

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.