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, 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.