Friday, June 29, 2007

Are Christians Pagans?

Yes, I know I said I retired my blog, but someone sent me this video link. It's simply too cool to not pass along. I don't know if anyone is still checking in here, but this is definitely worth the time:

Now back to retirement...

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Parable of the Deep Dark Well

A few months ago I penned my very mediocre first post and a lot has happened. I have engaged in lots of discussions with lots of people across the belief spectrum. Some of the conversations have been great and some – not so much. It has been a fantastic experience. However, a strange thing has happened and I feel like I have a much better understanding than I did before. No, I’m not accepting Jesus Christ as my personal lord and savior (odds on that happening over 1 billion to 1). I understand that I will never change the minds of those who want to believe. For those who don’t believe, I’m merely preaching to the choir. For those in the middle, there are plenty of resources out there to help them question their god and make their own decisions. I don’t have much more to add to the discussion and I feel very much at peace.

I have learned that I don’t have to be anonymous and hide my beliefs. I proudly display a Darwin fish on the back of my truck and have received exactly one response. A nice woman stopped me a few weeks back in a parking lot and asked me a few questions about the truck. She said her husband was interested in one. We had a conversation for a few minutes and she then thanked me for my time and said, “I knew you were a reasonable person when I saw your Darwin fish.” I’ve never been flipped off or yelled at or discriminated in any way. Just one person had something to say about it and it was complimentary.

At work, I always feared discrimination amongst the very vocal Christian group. Who knows, I may be discriminated against in the future, but I don’t think I would work well with a believer. I also believe that although they are very vocal, they are a tiny minority so there is nothing to fear. I am fully out and it’s liberating!

So instead of blogging anonymously, I plan on living by example. I want people to see my relationship with my wife and children (there is a new one on the way!) and understand that it is possible to have a good family and good life without god. If they want to learn more I’ll offer. If they are not interested and want to cling to their beliefs, so be it.

That being said, I would like to close the blog with a story told to me by my dad. If anyone knows the author, I will update this post and give credit where credit is due. Until then, this is just a story told from one generation to another which I plan to share with my son when he is old enough…

There was a man who lived in America and felt that he just couldn’t grasp the meaning of life. He went to the churches and the synagogues and studied, but none of it satisfied his thirst for true knowledge. Through his studies, he learned of a great and wise guru who lived in India.

The man scraped together his savings and sought the guru. Upon arrival in India, the man relentlessly pursued the guru. His quest took him to the peaks of the Himalayas where after several months of asking, climbing, and seeking; he finally found the guru.

The man approached the guru and the guru smiled. “My son, what is it that you seek?”

“Oh wise guru, I have searched for you for so long. Please, please tell me – what is the meaning of life?”

“Life, my son, is like a deep dark well.”

The man was speechless for several moments. “Life is like a deep dark well,” he repeated blankly. For several minutes he just stood there absorbing the knowledge of what the guru told him.

Finally, he yelled back, “Life is like a deep dark well! I spent my life savings coming here; I tracked you down for months, and all you have to say is life is like a deep dark well?”

The guru look surprised as no one had ever questioned his wisdom before. He responded simply with, “You mean it’s not?”

The point of the story is that no one has the answers for us. No priests, preachers, rabbis, imams, or holy books. This life is precious and beautiful and tragically brief. We need to appreciate life for what it is and cherish the time we have here. Making life better for other people is a worthy goal, glorifying a non-existent deity and clinging to dogma and ancient writings is not.

If anyone needs to reach me, I am still at


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mel Gibson, My Inspiration (seriously)

Way back in 2004, my wife and I got in a debate over whether or not to see “The Passion of the Christ”. I am not one to shy away from a controversial movie, so it would seem strange that I was on the side of not seeing it. My reason for not wanting to see it was I felt there was very little for me to learn by watching someone get brutally tortured and killed for a few hours.

There are some atheists who do not believe in a historical Jesus. I am not one of them. For me to believe that there was man named Jesus, that he lived in the first century, that he was a Jew, that he had a following, and that he agitated the already worked up Jewish population to a point where he was crucified doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. From what I know about history, the proceeding sentence seems credible to me. The issue I have is whether this man was the Son of God and redeemer of our sins to which I say, “Rubbish!”

Regardless of who I feel Jesus is, Mel wanted to make a biblically accurate movie of his last hours. That’s my inspiration. I would love to see movie that started with the Book of Exodus and tell the literal story as found in the Bible. Sure, everyone knows about Moses being raised by the Pharaoh and righteously fighting for a Hebrew slave. We’ve all seen “The Ten Commandments”. How many people know about how God allegedly rained manna from heaven? How many people know why the Israelites started worshiping a golden calf? Does the laymen know that God ordered the slaughter of 3,000 Jews (Exodus 32)? The genocide of the Moabites (Numbers 31)? That God punished Moses for using his staff to produce water from a rock instead of speaking to the rock even though he had used his staff in the past? All of the really truly awful, horrible things God says and does along the way?

The problem a director would have is how to maintain a consistent tone throughout the movie. Mel made “The Passion” somber and dramatic. What would we do when Moses leaves the Israelites to talk to God for 40 frickin’ days as God spells out in agonizing detail how to build the Arc? For me, it would go from somber to silly – like the scene in “Monty Python’s Holy Grail” with the Knights Who Say Ni. Just imagine Moses sitting there desperately trying to stay awake as the LORD dictates little gems like Exodus 27 (

1 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.
2 And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.
3 And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.
4 And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof.
5 And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.
6 And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass.
7 And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it.
8 Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.
9 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:
10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
11 And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.

The above quote is just a small sample of a section of Exodus that rambles on and on for three entire chapters. Meanwhile, while Moses is scribbling notes away like crazy in his notepad, the rest of the congregation is scared without Moe to lead them. They think he’s dead and God has left them and that’s why they start worshipping the golden calf. If the average person saw a literal interpretation of the Bible on the big screen, I believe there would be a lot more atheists.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex

I have a friend who was raised a devout Catholic. When she was in high school, her boyfriend pressured her to have sex. She resisted, but ultimately wound up having anal sex with her boyfriend to keep her virginity intact.

I would argue that once you take it up the ass, you are no longer a virgin, but what do I know? Why, why, why would someone do this?! Because from the time she was old enough to understand English she had been told over and over again the pre-marital sex is a sin. This dogma led her to find another way to satisfy her boyfriend and her needs and try to fool God. I have said it over and over again that even if the OT/NT God could be proven to me, I still wouldn’t worship Him. However, even this atheist would think that God would not be deceived by such trickery.

Sex is one of the most powerful human urges. Unfortunately for most, religious dogma has an enormous impact on sexual behavior. In some ways, I even think that the religious rules around reproduction made a lot of sense a few millennia ago. In ancient Greece or Rome, the average life expectancy was a mere 28 years old. Getting married at 13 or 14 and reproducing right away makes a lot of sense with these kinds of odds. It’s not like our ancient ancestors were cramming for the SATs, trying to get into good schools, competing for a well-paying job, buying houses, and then having kids. They were dying at 28! They only had a few years to find a mate and start reproducing.

The emphasis on female virginity makes sense too (in a weird sort of way). If your bride was not a virgin on your wedding night, how could one be sure that if she were to get pregnant right away that the child was yours? Let’s have a show of hands from the men reading this column who really want to raise another man’s kid… That’s what I thought.

So, telling children to wait until marriage before having sex made sense. Since men don’t even go through puberty until they are 12 – 14 years old and they could be married to a woman as soon as they were even aware of their sexuality, it wasn’t really asking a whole lot. And if they made the wrong choice in mates and their wife made them miserable, they were only going to live another decade or so anyway.

Does this make sense today? Most states won’t even allow marriage under the age of eighteen. Birth control is (or should be) readily available and so are paternity tests. It takes years for a new adult to establish themselves in society. How is a 21st century is teen supposed to resist the most basic human urge for over fifteen years? Is this even healthy? I’m sure the religious folks would say they should find an imaginary friend, name their friend Jesus, and pray to Him for strength against sin. I think I have a better idea…

The Wagerist idea is to really understand what sex is. It’s a decision. Wagerists always strive to make good decisions. Sex can be unbelievably fun. It is an important part of a relationship. It comes with serious consequences including pregnancy and STDs. One in four sexually active Americans has the Herpes virus! It can make a relationship far more complicated and last longer than it should. Women (and men) are more likely to put up with abuse when in a sexual relationship.

Whether or not you have sex shouldn’t be a question of sin. There is no sin. It’s a matter of respecting your partner(s), protecting yourself, and understanding the consequences of your actions.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Deliver Us from Evil

Yesterday was a challenging day for the Wager family. Baby Wager had a minor surgery to remove his adenoids which will hopefully be beneficial to his overall health. There was a lot of crying and fussing, but that was by Mrs. Wager. Baby Wager did really well overall. Anyway, I took the day off from work to help out and Baby Wager wound up sleeping for eighteen hours following his surgery. I finally had some time to watch a movie I had laying around the house. Mrs. Wager and I decided to watch “Deliver Us from Evil”.

The movie is a documentary that covers the Catholic Church’s cover up of the pedophilia scandal. It was well done, interesting, the people who volunteered to be in the movie were definitely courageous, but overall it left me depressed. The producers lay out a reasonable case that the cover-up goes all the way to the current pope.

After spending all day thinking and worrying about our own child, I looked at my wife when the movie was over and asked her, “It was a good movie, but now that I’ve seen it, what exactly am I supposed to do with this knowledge?”

My wife answered that we need to make sure that Baby Wager has the ability to stand up to authority. It turns out, it’s not easy. See the Milgram Experiment. We are biologically programmed to listen to authority figures which is a shame that the church uses this to enslave us.

Another interesting point in the movie was the issue of clerical celibacy. One theory was that the moral absolute that priests remain celibate made all sex by priests equally bad. I may be a moral relativist but come on! A priest having an affair with an adult woman (or man for that matter) is wholly different from a priest RAPING a six month old infant (this actually happened and the priest got promoted). This absolutist mentality is causing far more harm than good. Kind of says something about the whole absolutist philosophy, huh?

Some additional fun facts from the movie:

* 10% of the seminary graduates are pedophiles

* There are 100,000 cases of clergy abuse now pending in the US

* 80% of sexual abuse cases do not get reported, therefore there have probably been 500,000 cases of abuse

* There are currently 556 priests under investigation in the Los Angeles daises alone

* The Catholic Church has paid out over $1 billion since 1950 in sexual abuse hush money. Think about where your money goes if you are a Catholic and the plate comes to you.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moral Relativism

I have had an email conversation with a Christian at work. I’m not saying he speaks for all Christians, but his comments are remarkably similar to the comments I see elsewhere. It seems to me, from my conversations, that there is a need for absolutes amongst believers. My code of ethics won’t work, so I’m told, because it lacks moral absolutes. Guess what – life is relative!

The emails started with my challenging the notion as to why Christ had to die for us to be saved (still an absolutely bizarre notion to me). I received back a few questions that were designed to help me find God. I was asked how do we know cold without heat? Also, I was asked if I believed torturing babies was wrong.

I answered that cold and heat are actually arbitrary labels we throw onto objects. All objects have some level of heat in them and there is a universal cold limit known as Absolute Zero. Nothing can get colder than that. Liquid oxygen may be a few tenths of a degree Kelvin, but there is still some heat there. The analogy (and what is religion besides a bunch of really goofy analogies) breaks down because the measurement of temperature and labeling “hot” and “cold” is purely relative. On a hot day a 33 degree Fahrenheit beer may be called “cold”. If it were left outside and reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it might be called “hot”. However, the universe doesn’t really care about these labels. The beer has some measurement of heat regardless of whether it appears hot or cold to the human observer.

On to the baby killing… Of course I’m against baby killing. I don’t need a God to tell me this is wrong. I turned it around though and asked about baby starving. Is it OK to starve a baby? I’ll admit it here, I’ve starved my own child. It’s true. When he was seven weeks old and we had to switch him to formula (due to food intolerances), I was responsible for the 3AM feedings. His cries would wake me from my sleep and I would turn the monitor off so my wife could continue sleeping. Now my son, who I love more than anything, found himself awake, alone, scared, in the dark, and for all practical purposes he was starving. And what did I do? I would go to the bathroom and urinate for a minute before attending to him. I left him starving and crying and took care of my own needs before feeding him. I’m sure plenty of parents have made the same decision too. My point? Starving a baby is relative too! It’s all friggin’ relative.

However, my believer friend insisted that God is the ultimate authority and that’s why we know baby killing is wrong. I asked about Numbers 31 where Moses ordered the slaughter of all male children and non-virgin women. His response?

“Let me ask this - Is it possible that God's action in commanding Israel to wipe out the Midianites was actually a benevolent act? If the Midianites were part of Satan's plot to interfere with the coming of the promised Messiah - the one to save the world from sin, is it not a good thing that such a plot would be brought to an abrupt end? The Midianite children - is it possible that by dying early they were actually saved? The answer requires that you think outside of the earthly box and see what's going on in the spiritual realm. If you do not even accept the existence of God, how can you accept an answer involving God's plan for the world? How could you possible see how death can bring life?”

So let me get this straight, an entire group of people were possessed by Satan and they were better off being massacred because at least this way they would be saved? Sorry, the bullshit flag has to come out on this one. God is a rationalization for a massacre here. Someone decided these people had to go and then used absolutism to excuse it. Anyone who didn’t agree was told that it was part of God’s plan and we can’t question Him. Using theology this way, just about anything can be rationalized. Under relativism, we (as a tribe, family, society, individual) are asked to challenge authority. With God’s absolutism, manifest destiny and the “kill ‘em all and let God sort it out” mentality can run wild (and has).

Plenty of people claim to speak for God. Ted Haggard was once a highly respected preacher in the Evangelical community. He eventually got outed for frequenting a gay prostitute and buying meth. He eventually admitted to having a homosexual affair while preaching against the sin of the gay lifestyle. The entire time he fooled an entire religious community. He later claimed to go through a three week transformation where he is now 100% straight and seeks to help others in his position. Is there a Holy Spirit detector that we could have used on Ted while he was having a gay affair? Can we use the detector now to see if he is truly moved by the Spirit? Of course not! There is no Holy Spirit that moves us. Ted spoke for Ted just as he speaks for Ted now. I’d be willing to bet a substantial sum of money that it’s only a matter of time before he’s back to being gay.

So the options come down to relativism or absolutism. Relativism requires careful consideration and a challenge of authority. Absolutism requires blind obedience and crediting decisions with the divine. Of course, no one can really tell who is speaking for God or not, because anyone who claims to speak for God is really speaking for their own subconscious. Before I close on this subject, I’d like to give a shout out to a young reader who goes by Master Jedi Dan. I would like to point out that Obi Wan Kenobi told a young Anakin Skywalker, “Only the Sith deal in absolutes.”

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Sin Free Life

Christianity attempts to answer the question of sin. The premise is, we are all sinners and Jesus was perfect. If we accept Jesus into our hearts, then we can be forgiven for our sins too. Hooray for Jesus! I have an alternate proposal for dealing with the question of sin, but first, let’s take a look at what the word sin means (from

sin1 noun, verb, sinned, sin•ning.
1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2. any act regarded as such a transgression, esp. a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3. any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense: It's a sin to waste time.
–verb (used without object)
4. to commit a sinful act.
5. to offend against a principle, standard, etc.
–verb (used with object)
6. to commit or perform sinfully: He sinned his crimes without compunction.
7. to bring, drive, etc., by sinning: He sinned his soul to perdition.

In Wagerism, there is no sin. The world is not split into good and evil with some acts considered bad (don’t eat pork!). No, it’s a complex system of decision making. Every decision has a consequence and there are good and bad decisions. There are laws too, some are just and some are unjust. Wagerists like to see unjust laws overturned, like the law in Washington State that prevents me from buying tequila at the supermarket and keeps the state run liquor stores closed on Sunday. Some bad decisions are completely legal. Wagerists do not look to the government to save them from themselves. Wagerists ask how the consequences of their actions will affect their community, their families, and themselves.

Wagerists might make some bad decisions along the way. When that happens, a good Wagerist will stop and reflect on the trail of decisions that led them to this point. Then after careful and deliberate thought the Wagerist will come up with a plan to start making good decisions. Very few bad decisions result in a dead end. Most will just take the Wagerist along a path they do not want to continue. If enough bad decisions are made, getting to a better path may be difficult but rarely is it impossible.

So there it is, if you want to live a life free of sin, simply throw your Bible away. Don’t let an archaic scroll tell you that eating shellfish is bad or if you have sex before marriage you have sinned. Understand that you can make your own decisions and be comfortable living with the consequences of your decisions. It’s that easy, no imaginary friends needed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


A lot is made in Christian theology about forgiveness. Jesus forgives us of our sins. God forgives us of our sins by sacrificing His only son. Forgiveness to Christians is available to all who open their hearts to Jesus. And I think that’s crap.

Praying to a man who is also God who died 2,000 years ago is not the way to go about forgiveness. It might make you feel better, but it’s a fairy tale. Real forgiveness comes from understanding the action that you have done that harmed another person. It comes from telling the person that you are sorry for what you did. Sometimes, you can make it up to the person. Sometimes you can’t. You can change your behavior and not make the same mistake again.

I truly wish I was able to receive forgiveness as easily as a Christian. Confronting someone I have wronged is hard. I have done it and will continue to do it because it is the only way that true forgiveness can take place.

If I were to cheat on my wife and I were a Christian; I could pray, confess if I were Catholic, feel really bad about it, and be forgiven without telling my wife. I could feel really bad about it, wait a couple of years, do it again, and not tell my wife. I could still go to heaven so long as I pray and feel really bad about it. My religion would constantly teach me that as a human, I am nothing but a sinner and the sins that I have committed were the result of my sinful nature. That’s OK though, because although the wages of sin may be death (side note: who thinks of these things? Wages of sin? Does anyone think that sinning gets paid?) Jesus’ sacrifice will spare me the torment of hell.

I prefer to think of myself as someone who tries to do the right thing. Sometimes I think I’m doing the right thing and it doesn’t work out. Sometimes I make bad decisions. However, if I were to cheat on my wife, I’d like to think that I would at least tell her about it and figure out what to do from there. She would be the person harmed the most and I would have to acknowledge that she might leave me for my actions. I’m not saying that Christian men don’t tell their wives, I am saying that from a punishment/reward perspective there is a much bigger incentive to keep their mouths shut.

Wagerists also acknowledge that they have to forgive themselves. When I make a bad decision, all I can do is review the data that led me to make the decision. I learn what I can and I don’t beat myself up over it. For example, if I’m trying to lose weight and I go into the kitchen at work and then eat a cookie, I don’t believe I was predestined to fail. I think to myself, I wasn’t planning on eating that cookie but then I saw it in the kitchen. Wait a minute, there’s always junk food in the kitchen after lunch – maybe I should avoid the kitchen in the future after lunch? No deity needed.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Judeo-Christian Morality

In my last post, I laid out what I believe morality is all about. Namely, what do you do when no one is looking? Yes, I am a relativist and I don’t have the absolute of God or religious authority on my side. I inherited my sense of morality both biologically and from the Brooklynites. It has served me well so far. I’d like to take a look at what Judeo-Christian morality has to offer instead of my personal and relativistic view of the world.

In 2003, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore disobeyed a federal court order to remove a monument dedicated to the Ten Commandments from a court building. He was eventually unanimously removed from office for this refusal. Mr. Moore and his supporters have steadfastly claimed that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of our society. Let’s take a look at what makes our country great, shall we? Instead of the abridged version, I’ll be quoting from the long (and far stranger) version as found in the KJV Bible, Exodus 20.

First Commandment:
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

[Wager] Really? Is morality tied to monotheism? If so, only Jews and Muslims in the US are living by Judeo-Christian values since Christians are polytheists.

Second Commandment:
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

[Wager]God is still putting out orders not to worship idols as those Israelites certainly loved to do. Still, those crosses with Jesus on it look a lot like an idol to me… Just saying.

Third Commandment:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
[Wager]Three commandments and I still don’t see anything that resembles morality. Just a bunch of “worship me, worship me!” Also very disturbing that a courthouse would have a monument that talks about crime passing down through generations!

Fourth Commandment:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

[Wager]I like vacation too, but I don’t think this is a good example of morality. There is a lovely story in Exodus involving a man collecting firewood on the Sabbath. Moses says, “Stone him!” And they do! Doesn’t sound very moral to me.

Fifth Commandment:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

[Wager]In most cases, honoring your parents makes a lot of sense. However, some people aren’t fit to be parents. Do we have some wiggle room here! Azmodeus, start honoring thine parents…

Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt not kill.

[Wager]Finally, something we can all agree on and it only took six commandments. Still doesn’t take the Judeo-Christian God to come to this conclusion.

Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt not commit adultery.

[Wager]Again, hard to argue with but most cultures have rules against this too.

Eighth Commandment:
Thou shalt not steal.

[Wager]Good rule.

Ninth Commandment:
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

[Wager]Another reasonably good rule.

Tenth Commandment:
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
OK, coveting things may be bad and all, but notice how a wife is thrown in there with slaves and oxen.
That’s it – God’s magical top ten list and 3 out of 10 are instructions to worship Him exclusively. One is about taking a day off out of every 7 in order to honor Him. One is about honoring parents, which is good, unless your parents are assholes. Just about every other commandment exists independently in every culture without the Judeo-Christian God. Noticeably missing is any notion of children being born innocent, the amorality of slavery, racial equality, women’s suffrage, freedom of (or from) religion, or a host of other things that make our modern society great. If this is the Judeo-Christian morality upon which are entire society is based, as Mr. Moore claims, we are doomed. I still say, “Who needs God?”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Atheist Morality

I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day Weekend as much as I did. Now that I’m back, I’d like to continue in my series comparing my made up religion against Christianity. Before I get started, I would like to reiterate my policy on posting. There are only two ways to get a post deleted: either make absolutely no sense whatsoever or make a threat of violence. So far, only one post has ever been deleted. I don’t agree with MJD, The Listener, or Bible Student that often, but I’m glad that they are here otherwise there would be no worthwhile discussion.

I have seen many theists state that we need a higher authority in order to have morality. I’d like to share a personal story. About three years ago on the day before Thanksgiving, I was running late to a meeting. I pulled into the parking lot a few minutes before 10AM. I looked forever and finally saw a spot. It was tight, but I thought I could fit in it. It turns out that I couldn’t and I scraped up a beautiful new Lexus in the process.

The lot was unmonitored, no one was coming into work, and no one was leaving for lunch. Absolutely no one saw me do it. I backed out, found another spot, and then looked at the damage I caused. I had hit a parked car! There was no one to blame but myself. What was an atheist to do?

I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and hastily scribbled out a brief apology, my name, and my phone number. I invited the owner of the Lexus to contact me and left a promise to take care of the damage that I caused. I placed the note under the windshield wiper and left for my meeting.

I’m not nominating myself for a morality medal here. I’d like to think that anyone – atheist, Jew, Christian, or Muslim would have done the exact same thing. The point of this story is that I don’t believe in heaven or hell and there was absolutely no reason for me to do it from a reward/punishment perspective. I have heard over and over again that there can be no morality without God. I am an atheist, a heathen, a heretic, and an infidel. There is no Holy Ghost which guides my actions, yet I still know right from wrong. In this case, leaving the note was morally right.

Lest anyone think I was following Jesus’ teachings of “do unto others as you would have done unto you” (which, by the way, existed before Jesus and does not depend on “Judeo-Christian” values) I dare you to slap me in the face. I assure you, I would not “turn the other cheek” but respond with a swift kick to the gonads followed by a quotation from Clausewitz, “Violence tends to escalate.”

Back to the story… I was expecting a mild rebuking from the owner of the vehicle as well as to pay a few hundred dollars in restitution. Later that afternoon, I received a call from the owner – thanking me! The owner stated that her faith in humanity was restored by my note. Funny that she would thank me considering this country is 90% Christian. That is not to say that a Christian would not have done the same thing. I’d like to think that they would. What surprised me was that the owner believed that most people wouldn’t have left the note.

I didn’t feel that I had a choice since I answer to myself. I am able to tell right from wrong and I would have to live with the knowledge that I had caused harm to someone else. A Christian, however, would have another option available to them. It would be possible for a Christian to hit the car and not leave a note. They could then go ahead and feel bad about it, pray to their imaginary friend named Jesus, and receive forgiveness. This option would be a heck of lot cheaper. Again, I’m not saying that all Christians would chose this option, but it was an option that Wagerism doesn’t offer. Not believing in heaven and hell actually thinks help my sense of morality. Morality is about doing the right thing when no one is watching.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Christianity vs. Wagerism Part II: The Gift of Reason

I have laid out the origins of Wagerism, which is not a religion it’s just my own personal way of looking at the world based on the observations from the time I’ve been able to enjoy here. I fully admit that I’m making this up as I go along. I hope I’ve established how this differs from the origins of Christianity which was made up by a whole bunch of people over thousands of years, translated multiple times, and claims to be divinely inspired but with any skeptical inspection appears to be made up too. My writing is not inspired by the Holy Spirit because I have cheerfully committed the unforgivable sin and deny the Holy Ghost.

I would like to address the way I make my decisions. There is an economic concept called utility that varies from person to person. I try to maximize my personal utility while not taking away utility available to the world or my family, friends, co-workers, etc. My perfect day, utility wise, may not look like your perfect day. That’s OK so long as your perfect day, utility wise, doesn’t interfere with my utility. Still with me? Maximizing utility and making good decisions™ is difficult. A lot of thought goes into the bigger decisions and there is a huge burden to being wrong.

For every big decision; I have to really think of how much utility I would get from other options (opportunity costs), how my decision is going to affect other people, the opportunities that this decision will create, etc. Being in charge of your own life may be empowering, but it’s also exhausting!

Hypothetically, what if I got a great job opportunity in Chicago? I’d have to really think about it because it would have a huge impact on my wife and her family. Before even bringing it up with her, I’d have to make sure it was something that would benefit our family and would be good for both of us.

If I decided this is something I really wanted and the opportunity was so good that it would have to be at least considered, I would bring it up to my wife. My wife may disagree with me. Her concept of maximizing utility may be way out of line with mine in this case. This decision to move or not could be the most significant decision that we will face for years. All other decisions will be a result of this decision. The pressure!

I write a lot about the need to rely on oneself, but sometimes it really helps to talk to someone. I might call up The Kiwi to chat over a pitcher of Mac and Jack’s. I would not ask The Kiwi to make my decision for me, but he could certainly help me understand my wife’s reluctance and also understand how difficult the decision may be for me as a married guy. Even after one or more pitchers were consumed, I doubt any resolution would come from my conversation with The Kiwi, but undoubtedly some good would come of it. My understanding of the decision that I will need to make will be expanded and I will have a different viewpoint on the pros and cons of the decision.

During the decision making timeframe, my wife may also contact The Kiwi. The Kiwi is her friend too. They may eat lunch together and discuss the decision. The Kiwi may help her to understand my position.

After we both talked to The Kiwi independently, I may reference something The Kiwi said. My wife may then be startled and say, “Really? Because when I talked to The Kiwi, he said the exact opposite.” If our decision was going to be heavily influenced by advice provided by the neutral Kiwi, we could suspend our conversation and consult him together. All we would have to do is provide an offering of a case of Redhook and The Kiwi would gladly talk to us both and help us analyze this decision.

That’s how difficult decision making that affects the family looks under Wagerism. Wagerists may find themselves in a position where consulting trusted advisors becomes necessary to help broaden the perspective of a decision. That’s what making good decisions™ is all about. As much as I am a rugged individualist, consulting with other people on important decisions can be incredibly useful.

What if, I wasn’t a Wagerist? What if instead, I had an invisible friend that I like to talk to and I named this invisible friend Jesus? I bet I could talk to my invisible friend Jesus and get some pretty good advice. Jesus’s advice would probably side with me, since he is, after all, my invisible friend. It would be hard for Jesus to be neutral or to understand my wife’s side of the argument.

What if my wife also had an invisible friend and she named her invisible friend Jesus? What if my wife talked to her Jesus about our decision? In all likelihood, her Jesus would give her a different answer than my Jesus. Too bad our Jesuses can’t come to us in the physical world and listen to us together. Basing our decision off of the advice provided by our invisible friends named Jesus is not a good way to go about making decisions.

Sometimes, invisible friends named Jesus provide good advice. President Bush’s invisible friend named Jesus told him to stop drinking. That’s good!

Sometimes, invisible friends named Jesus provide bad advice. President Bush’s invisible friend named Jesus told him to invade Iraq. That’s bad!

When it comes to the Gift of Reason, Wagerists realize the importance of their decisions and try as hard as possible to make good decisions™ that will provide the most benefit to the world around them, their families, and finally themselves. On really difficult decisions, sometimes Wagerists may find that they need to talk to their friends and family to help understand all aspects of the decisions they may need to make. Finally, Wagerists feel that consulting invisible friends does not help in the decision making process and instead provides a disingenuous rationalization for doing what they wanted to do in the first place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Christianity vs. Wagerism Part I: The Origins

A few days ago, I got tied up in a meeting and the group of folks I normally eat with tired of waiting for me. I grabbed something at the cafeteria, ate at my desk, and discovered I had half an hour between meetings. In that time, I hastily sketched out the guiding principles of my life and what I base my morality on. It was nothing earth shattering and it could be improved upon and expanded, but it was a decent starting point. We’ll call this post the foundation of Wagerism. I’d like to point out how Wagerism differs from Christianity.


Christianity: Christianity begins with Creation. Man arises in the Garden of Eden, sins, and is cast out. God is upset with his Creation and floods the world sparing only Noah. The world repopulates. God strikes a strange bargain with Abraham trading the descendant’s of Abraham foreskins for the land of Israel. The only problem was that there were people there already called Canaanites. God assures Abraham his descendants will be many and he is establishing a mighty nation. From the beginning, the Hebrews struggle, even with The One True God on their side. Abraham himself was forced to leave Israel, which belonged to him as promised by God Himself, not once but twice. Abraham’s great grandson eventually is sold to Egyptians and prospers there. A famine hits the divinely blessed Israel and the Jews are initially welcomed in Egypt until they are enslaved. Four hundred years go by and God decided to free His Chosen People. Instead of having a conversation with Pharaoh and pointing out the immorality of slavery, God instead decides to “harden his heart” and bring death and devastation upon the Egyptian people. Even though the Egyptians enslaved the Hebrews for four hundred years, their fate is nowhere near as bad as some of the other pagan tribes the Jews encounter on the way back to the Promised Land which flows of milk and honey (funny that these are not pictured on the Israeli tourism brochures). Along the way, God hands down the complete book of morals which form a pretty good foundation for hating homosexuals, slavery, and female repression. The Jews even after witnessing the power of the LORD firsthand can’t seem to stop their desire to worship idols. God commands the Jews to remember that He delivered them from slavery and this rite continues today as the Passover Seder.

Once in Israel, the trials of being the Chosen People do not end. Israel is invaded time and again and the Jews invent blame the victim mentality. For every failure of the Jewish state can be traced back to intermarriage and idolatry. So, that’s Judaism for you: circumcision, possession of Israel, xenophobia/racism, genocide against non-Jews, and blame the victim. Not much of a religion, huh?

It does, however, get better. After thousands of years of being pissed at Adam and Eve, God came up with a way that we can ALL come to know Him. The simplest way to accomplish this would be for God to forgive us once and for all, show Himself, and provide a clear and moral set of rules to live by. That’s not what happened. Instead, God had a virgin impregnated (one might say raped) and brought His only begotten son on Earth in the form of Jesus. Jesus was both fully human and fully God at the same time and managed to exist in two places at once so Christians are not polytheists (are you still with me?). Jesus taught by making a bunch of metaphors called parables, worked a few miracles, abstained from sex and masturbation, and then was cruelly tortured and killed. His death is cause for celebration because it opened the gates of Heaven to everyone, even a sinner like you!

The whole Jesus phenomenon is best described in this article:

The only thing I don’t like about this article is that I didn’t write it and therefore can’t take the credit. It sums up exactly what I think of the Christian mythology, except I might have called God an asshole instead of a dick but that’s just splitting hairs.

So Jesus died and all was forgiven if we just accept Him into our hearts. Forty years or so after his death, people finally got around to writing down all of His teachings. How much was corrupted through oral history forever remains unknown. Also along the way a one-time Jew and Christian tormenter named Paul met Jesus in a dream and began to spread the good word to everyone. That’s right – Paul never once talked to the living Jesus. Paul is considered to be one of the most influential people in the spreading of Christianity to non-Jews and NEVER ONCE MET THE MAN HE BASED HIS FAITH ON!

Paul made a lot of key decisions early on like making circumcision optional. This made it easier to convert the pagans. I can easily see The Great Kiwi’s distant ancestor contemplating Judaism until he was told he would need to be circumcised whereupon he responded with a, “You want me to do what to my what now?”

It should also be noted that at the time Christianity took root, the Jews were horrified to be living under Roman occupation. The idea that foreigners could govern them on holy land rocked the foundation of their religion. They were absolutely DESPARATE for something to believe in. If God could not keep Israel for them, was God real?

Enter Christianity which promised a desperate people a new deal. And it spread. Eventually the Roman Empire was divided into Christians and Pagans until Constantine I decided to adopt Christianity. Before forcing the religion on the entire empire, there was a little pow wow at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, approximately 300 years after the death of Christ, where extremely important theological decisions were made and establishing a Christian theocracy.

The early founders of the Church warned of the End Times believing it would happen in their lifetimes. Two thousand years later and fear of the End Times is still a fear technique used against unbelievers. Jesus and God haven’t been seen in 2,000 years I don’t think we have much to worry about.

So that’s Christianity. Pour a foundation of a corrupt religion (Judaism), sprinkle in mythology, human sacrifice, and a promise. Threaten people with hell. Tell those who do not see the Truth in the Word that they have not received the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible that everything Jesus said was misinterpreted or made up. One of the most influential people in the early Church never even met Jesus, but we’re supposed to believe that his dreams were guided by a Holy Ghost?

Based on the observations of a sole skeptic who spent too much time reading a Christian discussion group at work. All ethics and morals of this made up way of life were admittedly not divinely inspired but based on the principles that as a species we should strive to not hurt each other at a minimum and leave the world a better place. Wagerism respects individuality, does not rely on faith, and does not claim the miraculous or the supernatural.

That’s how the origins of Wagerism differs from Christianity. I ask you which one seems more credible?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Intermission Time

I have presented my understanding of the Christian concept of hope and as well as my view of hope. I have done so without comparing the one to the other which I plan to do shortly. Before I get into the comparisons, I would like to share a quick conversation with a friend of mine.

I have friend, we’ll call him The Kiwi. The short version of how I came to know His Kiwiness is that I sold him a TV two years ago and have not been able to get rid of him ever since. The Kiwi and I don’t hang out as much as we used to because we both have little ones at home. Every so often, during the work day, we have little IM exchanges. This happens a few times a week. The Kiwi pinged me the other day to show me this article. I eventually got around to reading it and got a good laugh. He then asked for the URL to this blog. I gave it to him and there was no immediate response. That is the nature of these conversations. They start but the end point is ill defined. One of us usually gets interrupted by real work and all communication abruptly ends. That’s what I thought had happened.

Several minutes later, my IM window popped up again and The Kiwi quoted from the comments section of my blog, “Yes, for an atheist, you have written a pretty good synopsis of the idea of the hope Christians have.”

I proceeded to tell The Kiwi that I was actually disappointed by that comment. The general indication I got was that my little synopsis of Christian hope was accurate. I really do understand it and that kind of bummed me out. The Kiwi got a laugh as he had the same thoughts as well. We discussed for a while it’s not our lack of understanding that drove us away from religion; it’s actually our understanding that makes us atheists.

The Christian notion of hope, to me anyway, seems to be based on having low self-esteem and belief in the supernatural. Really, that’s all that’s being “offered”.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Life is Random, Get Over It

I have been blogging for a month or so about what I don’t believe in. It’s time to take a stand and state for the record what I do believe in. I would like to state, for the record, that I do not speak for all atheists – just this one. I truly believe that life is random.

In a comment, Bible Student states that I worship a religion of common sense and reason. Thanks for the compliment. I fully admit to being a polytheist and I worship the gods of rationality AND probability. Even though I believe life is random, I do have hope. The decisions that I make affect the randomness. I am not an alcoholic and I am not a Christian, yet the serenity prayer makes so much sense to me (modified for atheists):

I need to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

That’s what I base my hope on. There are things that I can control and things that I can’t. If I focus on the stuff that I can control by consistently making good decisions, my life seems to go pretty well. Every once in a while, bad things seem to happen, but I can will my way through it by making good decisions. Over time, I like to think that I have learned from my experiences and these lessons guide me to help make better decisions.

The rough patches of my life were not predestined in order for me to learn a lesson. They were either a result of bad decision making or random. I do not need to believe in the supernatural to feel better about myself or my life. My faith in myself , my family, and my friends carry me through.

OK, so I’ve laid out the concept that stuff happens and I am in control of my destiny, how can this possibly compete with heaven? What do I have to offer someone? Here are the gifts I plan to give to my son:

The Gift of Life

This is the only life we get and it could end at any time. I could get ill or hit by a bus tomorrow, so that means today counts! Life is wonderful and meaningful. If I do not like aspects of my life, I have to make decisions for change. My happiness is my responsibility and I accept that. I have the power to make myself happy and to care for my family. There is no afterlife, so this life must fully be appreciated in every moment.

The Gift of Reason

Since I am responsible for my decisions, I need to make my decisions carefully. I need to be comfortable with this responsibility. I need to constantly learn to ensure that I make the best decisions possible.

The Gift of Morality

I know right from wrong and it’s my responsibility to raise my children with good values.
It is my responsibility to ensure they know they need to leave this world better than they found it.

The Gift of Forgiveness

Strange concept for an atheist, huh? I do have experience with forgiveness… When I was a younger man, I dated a girl who was pretty and nice and sweet to me. I was a dick to her. I know this. I lacked the maturity and the honesty to say to her that I couldn’t give her what she wanted. When I broke up with her, I was spiteful and hurtful because I lacked the emotional intelligence and honesty she deserved.

I met this girl in a chance encounter years later and I looked her in the eye and said, “Hey pretty lady, I’m sorry that I was jerk to you when you were so sweet and nice to me.”

And she smiled and said, “I understand. You were young. You didn’t know how to handle yourself. You have said you were sorry, and it’s OK.”

She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and I was forgiven with no supernatural interference. It happens all the time. I can be a jerk to my wife in the morning and then IM her in the afternoon and she says, “It’s OK. I forgive you.”

Sometimes I get too hard on myself. I make a decision and the outcome isn’t what I expected. I analyze and analyze to try and figure out how I got to the outcome that I got. If I made a mistake, I forgive myself and move on.

The Power to Change

Life throws curveballs and one path may seem right at the time and then later it’s not. I do not ask the supernatural for intervention or guidance. I am responsible for change. Nothing in this life is written in stone and there are always options if we look for them.

All five of my gifts are observable and open for analysis by a third party. My gifts will guide my son to be a good person and reach his potential. They will guide his life and empower him to make the difficult decisions that he will face in his life. None of my gifts require the divine. All of them should give him hope. They are all free to him so long as he is willing to accept the awesome responsibility of being in charge of his own life. Life is random, get over it – take responsibility and make good decisions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Christian Hope?

In my very first post, I told a story that involved a Believer asking me what my world view offers, what kind of hope I could pass on to my children, and the reward that would be given by living life on my terms. I’m going to answer all of those questions… in my next post. First I would like to address the Christian message of hope and see what it can do for me.

If I were Christian, I would have to believe that I am a sinner, brought into a sinful world through a sinful sexual act, and that I have zero chance of being sin-free. That’s OK though, because even though I would have to see myself as a wretched excuse of flesh – I can be loved unconditionally and all I have to do is ask. It’s that simple. If I just open my heart to Jesus, accept Him as my Lord and Savior, and follow His teachings all of my sins will be forgiven.

My horrible wretched sinful life can be redeemed by the sacrifice Jesus made to save us all. It doesn’t matter if I am rich or poor in this life because what happens here on Earth is for only a few short years. If I follow Jesus, I can have an eternity in Heaven. None of the pain, sorrow, or loss here on Earth can equate to the joyous Heaven that awaits for me by accepting Jesus.

If my wife leaves me, if my toddler son dies, if I lose my job – that’s only temporary. Heaven is forever. Anyone can get to Heaven by seeing the truths inherent in the Bible. This gift that Jesus gave humanity should be cherished and kept close to our hearts and carry us through the hard times. This gift gives us hope even to a wretch like me.

So that’s Christian hope. I may not be a good person, but Jesus is. If I love Him, he will give me an eternity in Heaven next to God. This gift is free and all it requires is faith. The faith I have in God’s plan can carry me though the worst trials of this Earthly life. I’m deliberately making this post short because I want to be sure that I have accurately captured the notion of Christian hope. If any of this is wrong, please correct me.

Monday, May 14, 2007

An Unlikely Mormon Apologist

I managed to watch “60 Minutes” last night and the lead segment covered Mitt Romney. For those unfamiliar with this candidate, Mitt is a Mormon running for president as a Republican. He is credited with being a very successful businessman, saving the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, and as a governor of Massachusetts balancing the budget every year without raising taxes. Those three points are often overshadowed by his faith.

The problem with his faith has more to do with running as a Republican considering how active the evangelical community is in the party. I am a member of a Christian email group where I work and I constantly see Christians of all denominations attack Mormons. They say that they are polytheists, Joseph Smith was a fraud, and the religion is founded on lies. I would have a hard time disagreeing with any of those points. Anyway, after weeks of Mormon bashing, someone posted an email to the group that basically said, “Hey, didn’t Jesus say doctrine should be judged by the fruits it produces? Mormons typically have great families, lead good lives, and their communities are great. Let’s leave them alone because the fruits are good.”

I’ll go a step further. I grew up in Arizona, attended USAFA, and worked in Utah for over six months. I have met and befriended plenty of Mormons in my lifetime. I believe that we shouldn’t propagate stereotypes or try to classify people and that most behavior fits into a bell curve. Some people of one classification are good. Others are bad, but there is a huge spectrum and most fall in the middle. I will go on record and say of the hundred or so Mormons I have met, the vast majority were great people. Working in Utah was one of the best experiences of my life, there is nothing quite like the Mormon work ethic. The Mormons I did work with worked extremely hard, were very focused, and went home at 5:00! They were able to accomplish so much during the day and didn’t care about face time that they were actually able to create work life balance. In my line of work, leaving at 5:00 usually resulted in snide remarks about working a “half-day”. In Utah, it was not only acceptable but encouraged! Sign me up for any other project there!

OK, back to the email chain. Some other Christian responds with (name removed to protect the stupid):

“I could not disagree more (respectfully of course). If the doctrine is not a Biblical, Christian doctrine then the culture surrounding the false doctrine does not justify that false doctrine. We can all agree that the Mormon culture and societies are good things, but so are many other religions around the world. Are their doctrines good too? Looking at the culture’s fruit is not the right thing to examine. We must look at the object of the religion’s faith and if it not Christ then, by definition, it is false and not good. This statement applies to any religion.”

This “Christian” is saying the Mormons are heretics and it doesn’t matter if their religion producing good results because they are not worshipping God correctly. Results don’t matter – dogma does! So let’s take a look at where Mormon beliefs and mainstream Christian beliefs differ…

Jews, Christians, and Mormons start with the common story of the Old Testament. God creates the world, gets pissed at his creation and floods it, changes His mind, chooses a group of people for the Promised Land, leads His Chosen People out of Egypt, gives them Mosaic Law and the 10 commandments, works a few miracles, watches a temple dedicated to Him built and sees it destroyed, watches Israel invaded a few times, sees the second temple built, and then Christianity enters the picture (you try summing up the OT in a paragraph!).

Christians then believe that God came to earth via an impregnated virgin. Jesus was both fully God and fully human at the same time. Jesus had earthly temptation and desires but was absolutely free from sin. He worked miracles including walking on water, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, and curing the sick. He never had sex. It’s also implied that He never masturbated, but it’s not outright claimed because no one could possibly believe this. That would be the greatest miracle of them all. Far more unbelievable than raising the dead – that a man could live for over thirty years without sex or jerking off even once! But alas, I digress…

So the most perfect man ever known, flawless in every way, is then brutally tortured and killed. Jesus knew that he was going to die, that it was part of God’s plan, had the power to stop it, and went along with it because he loved humanity so much he was willing to sacrifice His life for the greater good. Three days after His death, he came back from the dead and provided all of us a way to enter heaven by accepting Him into our hearts. By praying to Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him, we can all be saved now. Yeah!

So that’s Christianity – the Old Testament plus the New Testament. Mormons come in saying that during the three days between the death of Jesus and His resurrection, Jesus went off to North America and established a ministry to the native peoples there. His ministry in America was recorded on special golden discs which were translated by God’s prophet, Joseph Smith.

Mormons believe that every individual can have a direct communication with God and that God speaks to the prophets of the LDS Church. God apparently is not very decisive because he told Joe that polygamy was cool and then reversed himself with a “revelation” to the lead prophet right when Utah was applying for statehood. Go figure on the timing of that one…

However, if you can believe all the tall tales of the Old and New Testaments, how farfetched is the Book of Mormon? You’ve already swallowed miracle after miracle, life after death, and resurrection. Why couldn’t Jesus come over to America? You buy the premise and you buy the bit, it’s the fundamental rule of comedy.

So even if Joseph Smith was a complete fraud, the cult – I mean religion he founded really does produce good communities and good families. The basis of the belief system is no more crazy than Judaism, Christianity, or any other mainstream religion. No one is getting hurt by it, so why don’t we leave them alone? Better yet, since most skeptics will agree that it was all made up, why can’t we just make up an even better religion based on common sense and reason?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reflections on Baby Wager's First Birthday

It’s a very big week for Mrs. Wager and myself as our son turns one on Saturday. Baby Wager has now fared much better than the multitudes of fish and plant life that have had the misfortune to be placed in my care. I am enjoying the fatherhood experience more than I could have possibly imagined, but I’m afraid that I’m starting in the middle of the story again.

About nine years ago, I was working on a project with a guy in his thirties (and he seemed old to me at the time). Let’s call him Ego Maniac (not his real name). One day, he had just got off the phone with his wife and was shaking his head in disappointment. I tentatively asked if everything was alright.

Ego Maniac sighed and said yes, it’s just that his son was a bit of a disappointment to him. I was blown away by this statement. I pressed EM a little further. “How so?”

“He’s just more into video games and band than he is into sports.”

“Is he healthy? Does he get in trouble? Is he doing OK in school?”

EM shook his head at me condescendingly, “You don’t understand, we’re just nothing alike.”

I was horrified. “Why should he be an exact clone of you? Shouldn’t he find his own way in life so long as he isn’t doing stuff to hurt himself and others?”

Ego Maniac paused and asked me, hypothetically, if I had a son, would I have him circumcised? I immediately answered yes.

He gained confidence. “See? You would want your son to look like you!”

I didn’t even hesitate when I countered with, “That has nothing to do with it. I’d just like for him to have the opportunity to get a blow job in sixteen or seventeen years.”

I was a long way off from becoming a parent at that point in my life, but I started to think about it a lot after that conversation. I decided that my goal as a parent would be to help my child learn how to make good decisions. Good decisions do not need to be the decisions that I would make, but decisions that would lead him or her down a path towards their own happiness.

I happen to really like sports. I feel that my high school life was enhanced through sports. I gained confidence and grew my social network by being involved in a sports program. However, should Baby Wager not like sports and choose to participate in band – that’s OK with me. Band is a good decision. He can learn confidence from band, be around other students with common interests, interact with other adults, and it looks good on a college resume. It might not be what I want for myself, but so long as he makes good decisions, I am successful as a parent.

I wholeheartedly believe in discipline. My son will learn that his decisions have consequences. The more good decisions he makes, the more freedom he will be given. If he starts making bad decisions, he will find he has less and less privileges. If I am successful, he will leave our home equipped to find his way in the world and care for himself.

I will not, however, threaten him with “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.” It’s stupid, cruel and not true unless I’m willing to face murder charges. I will not expect him to revere me. His respect will be earned. There will be times when he will not like me and I’m sure those will be the most difficult times as a parent. It’s part of my job.

I guess that’s how me and the fictional Yahweh differ. Yahweh created humanity so that they could revere him and he constantly gets disappointed with His own creation. The moment they stop worshipping Him, he’s ready to flood the earth or commit some other act of genocide. Yahweh plays favorites amongst His children and wants to keep them from attaining success. See Tower of Babel. As for me, my child and I have years to figure out who he is. It is my goal to ensure that he is successful on his terms and reaches his potential, not mine.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Two Young Atheists Test Their Faith

From my freshman year in high school until the end of my junior year, I probably spent as much time on a skateboard as I did in a classroom. Azmodeus wound up living about fifteen minutes away from me and we frittered away a lot of time skating at a nearby junior high school. At first, we utilized the benches and walls and just skated around. The more we hit this spot, the more “hell ollie” began to call to us.

At the school, there was a basketball court that was raised about five feet from a walkway. In between the court and the walkway was about fifteen feet of dirt. Azmodeus was the first person I ever knew that believed it was actually possible to clear the fifteen foot horizontal gap with the five foot vertical drop. He then proceed to do it. He could make it look effortless.

The feat was not technically difficult. All you had to do was go really fast, ollie, and stick the landing. Simple. Once Azmodeus started doing it, others followed. The first few times I tried it, I didn’t really commit to it. I’d go through the motions like I wanted to clear it, but I was phoning it in. I’d kick my board out from under me as soon as I took off and made sure that I landed on my feet. I kept on looking at the worst case scenario – if I landed in the gap on my board I was going to take a nasty fall due to the speed. If I landed in the gap the best case scenario was a bad fall. The worst case was going to be a broken bone or a concussion.

My phoning it in and Azmodeus’s mastery of hell ollie continued for months. It got to the point where I wanted to avoid skating that spot. Eventually, we wound up at the school with a large group of guys. Azmodeus attempted to clear hell ollie and missed.

Before he had a chance to try it again, I made up my mind that this was going to be the day. There were only two obstacles that had to be overcome – physics and fear. I knew I could handle the physics. I had been skating for a few years and had the physical ability to clear the gap. I had to put trust in myself that I was going to be able to clear it and just do it. I stopped looking at the worst case scenario, cleared my mind, and did it.

After clearing it on the first try of the day, I had one of the best feelings of my young life. I had faced fear, put my faith in myself, and accomplished a feat that only the best skaters were even trying. There were guys who we skated with every day who never did it. I did it in front of multiple witnesses and no one could take it away from me.

Now Azmodeus and I were friends, but this is/was one competitive dude! He barely acknowledged my accomplishment and went to try it again. And failed again.

On it went for the next hour. I would go and clear it. Azmodeus would watch, try, and fail. The more he missed the gap, the angrier he got. After an hour had gone by, he stopped skating and started flinging his board at the ground shouting obscenities. The rest of the group was amused by it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that anyone enjoyed watching him fail, it’s just that Azmodeus was one of skating’s alpha dogs and every now and again it’s nice to see an alpha get his comeuppance.

If you’ve read this far, you may be asking why the hell this little anecdote is being written about in an atheist’s blog? The answer lies partly in response to MJD’s question of whether or not I still talk to Azmodeus. The answer is yes and I bring up this day at every opportunity! It took his worst day of skating and my best day for me to be better than him, but for one glorious afternoon it did happen. In a lifetime skateoff, I’m sure the record would be 666-1, but I did manage one victory and he’s such a competitor that it’s fun to remind him.

The other part of the answer that actually relates to the purpose of this blog is a matter of faith. Azmodeus and I had radically different family lives and experiences during the first fifteen years of our lives. We had both come to the same conclusion - that there is no God. Every time I failed to clear hell ollie, it was not a matter of not praying hard enough. It was a matter of believing in myself. When I did manage to clear it, God Almighty did not intervene on my behalf. The rules of physics were not altered. The difference was I trusted myself and I made it happen.

On the flip side, Azmodeus’s sudden inability to clear it was not divinely inspired either. He was having an off day. For just a moment, one afternoon, he lost faith in himself. It had nothing to do with not sacrificing the right animals or saying the right prayers. He just lost his focus. It happens to everyone.

Good and bad things are going to happen to everyone. Some of the things are random. Some of them we control. Through it all we are served well by believing in ourselves and the people with whom we chose to associate with. After twenty years of scoffing at God and trusting myself, my life is going just fine.

Monday, May 7, 2007

My Friend Azmodeus

My last post concerned a time in my life that was difficult and how I made it through, without God. Miracle posted a personal story on how he made it through a difficult time, with God. His story can be found at Without trivializing the details, Miracle believed that in high school he felt alone as friends and family chose to smoke pot over his friendship. Apparently, the two are mutually exclusive. Through faith, Miracle was not alone as God was with him through his trials.

I have to admit, I can’t completely relate to Miracle’s story because I had a lot of advantages growing up. My dad never offered me a joint nor did I ever live in a trailer. I am the product of middle-class educated parents and a planned pregnancy. My parents provided a great home and were supportive growing up and emphasized education.

That being said, I have a friend. Let’s call him Azmodeus. Like me, he is a confirmed atheist. I met Azmodeus when we were fourteen. By the time he enrolled in my high school, he had been moved to over fifteen different schools. He had grown wary of befriending anybody because the moment he had become comfortable, he would move again.

I have been able to piece together the following facts of Azmodeus’s life. His mother was a teenager when she became pregnant. She may or may not have dropped acid during pregnancy. His biological father was not in the picture and apparently he tried to kidnap little Azmodeus at some point. His father’s current whereabouts are unknown. Azmodeus’s mom took up with a real loser that we’ll call Log. Log was physically and mentally abusive as well as an alcoholic. Log never had a real job and always sort of existed. Life altering family decisions (like moving across the country) were decided at random.

To escape his home life, Azmodeus was into skateboarding, guitar playing, and art (specifically drawing). With absolutely no structure or guidance, he was VERY good at all three. Azmodeus and I spent hours after school skating. I had been over to his house many times and can verify the story.

Without putting words in his mouth, I am sure that Azmodeus felt very much alone. At fifteen, he was more mature and much smarter than his mother and step-father. He had very little control over his life and needed some way to get through high school. His way of getting through it was to find stuff he was good at and channel his energy into it. It comes down to believing in yourself and doing things that build up confidence and self esteem rather than creating an imaginary friend.

It is possible that the imaginary friend can get you through a difficult time, but it’s not a long term solution. Focusing in on the things you can control, developing skills that will be useful later in life, and dealing with adversary seems like a better way to handle the situation.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Who Needs God?

I had an offline conversation with Miracle and we agreed to cross pollinate to each other’s blogs. He proposed that we could write an article about something in our lives and we could learn from each other by showing how our faith or lack thereof affected this pivotal moment. I proposed the first article should be about how we got through our lowest point in our life. Me without God, Miracle with Him. Anyway, here is my posting. Miracle’s post will be up on Friday. I will probably respond on Monday and let miracle respond to me whenever he is ready. Check out Miracle’s site when you have a chance:

Also, there was a great article about gaining/losing faith while in a war zone. Check out:

And Finally, here is the first post in the series of conversations between Miracle and I entitled “Who Needs God?”

When I talk to Believers and ask how they know God exists, the most common answer I get is a personal story of how God helped them through a difficult time. Unless someone leads the most charmed existence, some tough times are in store for everyone. It’s how we handle them that determines our fate. In the midst of a crisis, I would be the last person to criticize one’s ability to get through the ordeal. However, many Believers cling to their faith years later. It seems to me that they give God far too much credit.

At the age of eighteen, I was enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy. I had literally dedicated six years of my life to reach my goal of being accepted. Once I was accepted, feelings of triumph quickly turned to fear. The day I left for the Academy, I was afraid to be exposed for a fraud. I thought I was going to learn that I was a big fish in a small pond. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to hack it academically or physically. I was afraid of failure.

I made it through Basic Training all the same and my fear subsided quite a bit. I arrived in shape and mentally prepared and had earned a certain degree of respect from the upperclassmen. The school year started and to my surprise, I was thriving academically. The fear was being pushed aside and was being replaced with confidence. I started to believe that I wasn’t lucky to be there, but I belonged there.

A month into the academic year, I woke up feeling sick. Nothing too bad, just a cold. I decided I could tough it out, except it didn’t get better. By Friday, I decided to go to the clinic hoping that I could be put on bed rest. Several hours of uninterrupted sleep, I was convinced, would get me over the sickness. If I could get off duty Friday, I would have the rest of the weekend to recover and be fine by the next week.

Except, I didn’t get bed rest. I got handed a prescription for Amoxicillin and was told that I had a sinus infection. I dutifully took the antibiotics, as prescribed. Several days later, I was actually feeling much better but still taking the drugs. I was instructed to finish the bottle of two doses daily for ten days.

On the eighth day of the cycle, something strange began to happen. I had a rash all over my chest and neck and my eye swelled shut. I went to the emergency room on base and was treated. Amazingly, I was told to finish the cycle. The very next day I went into anaphylactic shock. I spent the next three days in an Intensive Care Unit on base under constant observation.

On the third day I was discharged. I had just came through a very near fatal medical condition and was sent back to my squadron with one week’s worth of “academics only” restrictions and then it was back to full duty. The only problem was that when I was sent back, I was nowhere near the condition I was before the incident. Physically, I was ruined. My knees refused to straighten all the way and my shoulders were so swollen that I could barely do pushups. Even worse, I was put on a regimen that included taking prescription level Benadryl five times a day for the next six weeks (chief side effect: extreme drowsiness).

The transition from high school to college is tough. The transition from civilian to military is tough. Doing it high out of your mind is extremely tough. In my mind, I had two choices which included dropping out or beating this problem. I was singular in my focus but determined and made up my mind not to fail. I averaged about five to six hours of sleep a night (I like to get eight hours if possible) and taking huge amounts of Benadryl. I had to stand up in all of my classes to stay awake and whatever free time I had was dedicated to studying. I was away from my family, I didn’t know anyone coming into the Academy, and had so little time to socialize that I didn’t have many friends. I was alone.

I never once even thought to turn to prayer. This was my problem and my problem only. There was one way to solve the problem and that was through sheer force of will. No matter how tired I got, no matter how much abuse was heaped on me, I refused to quit. I never once used my illness as an excuse. On a Friday night, I fell asleep at 6PM and didn’t wake up until 9AM the next day. When my roommate told me he went to get pizza, I was indignant that he didn’t invite me. He told me that he and two of my classmates were literally shaking me at around 8 and I refused to wake up. He figured if I was THAT tired that they should leave me be.

By the time finals rolled around, I was off the drugs and mentally much clearer. I finished my first semester making both academic and military honors – the majority of the time completely high. It wasn’t faith in a deity that got my through, it was unwavering faith in myself. To credit God with this accomplishment would negate the effort and willpower I put into making this happen.

The predicament I found myself was not a moral judgment. My illness wasn’t caused by stupidity, addiction, or bad life decisions. It was random bad luck following an expert medical opinion. My severe drug allergy is rare and the vast majority of people would have been fine following my course of treatment. This was not a life lesson – I don’t know what I would learn besides never take Amoxicillin again. To think that my life was pre-planned by the divine, to me, would be the height of arrogance. I do know that I made up my mind to get through it and I did on my own.

In American football, the most thankless job is that of the field goal kicker. The kicker is a specialized position that may play only a very few downs per game. They do not advance the ball or defend the field. They come in only when their specialized skill is required. They do not make or break tackles and they rarely even break a sweat during the course of a game. Since they do not take the physical punishment that virtually every other position doles out on its players, they are often underappreciated by their teammates and the fans. If a kicker makes a field goal, they are not celebrated and are thought to be just doing their job. If the kicker misses – then they are a worthless bum who should be fired. It’s a very difficult position to be in. The Believers have somehow turned God into the opposite of a field goal kicker. If they pray and they’re prayers are answered then they give credit to God. If they pray and the prayers are not answered, then they convince themselves that God had other plans for them.

Instead of prayer and faith in the reverse field goal kicker, why not turn to hard work and faith in oneself? If experience has taught me anything, it’s that I am far more dependable than God.

Monday, April 30, 2007


From the comments:
“@ AW - Jewbashing is ugly. please stop. It does not make you a better person. In fact belittleing (sic) any culture that you obviously don't understand only reflects bad upon yourself. Sit with a rabbi someday and ask him some of your questions. I think you'll be very suprised (sic) to know what he will respond.”

I have been called many things in my life, being called a Jewbasher is an absolute first. I am, in fact, an ex-Jew! I still value a culture that can produce both Einstein and Jack Black and respect the culture. I just don’t dig Yahweh and find the religion absolutely repulsive. Almost every Jew I’ve ever met has not read the OT and have been spoon fed the nice parts of the story while skipping past the ugly. However, I feel like I’m starting in the middle of a story, so let’s step back a little.

In the beginning… Two Brooklyn Jews married and had two children. The youngest they named Wager. They looked upon their creation and said that it was good. They moved to Arizona when Wager was four years old. Being Brooklyn Jews, they spent most of their lives around other Jews. Occasionally in NYC, they may have been the minority, but it was rare. The schools on the East Coast actually shut down for Yom Kippur and other Jewish Holy Days. In Arizona… not so much.

The Brooklynites did not do much to bring Wager into the Jewish religion. Wager was circumcised in a hospital on his third day, not be a Moyle on the tenth as tradition dictates. Hanukkah was celebrated but Sabbath candles were never lit. The female Brooklynite would occasionally say stuff that started with “Jews believe…” but she never had a Bat Mitzvah and is very ignorant of the actually Torah. The male Brooklynite was very wise in the ways of the Jewish religion and did not think it was worth passing on to his descendents. To this day, he classifies himself as “agnostic”.

Wager has never, ever admitted this to anyone before (not even his wife), but when he was four and a half, he actually believed he was speaking to God and Jesus on a regular basis. Shortly after a memorable airplane ride, little Wager learned that he could open up tubes inside his head to relieve the pressure on his ears. Whenever, Wager did this, a deep bass humming sound was heard within his head. At first, it seemed like a neat little trick but soon he was doing it frequently. Somehow, Wager was convinced that when he heard that deep noise inside his head, he was talking to God and Jesus.

One day, Wager told a friend that he talked to Jesus. His friend responded with a simple, “Jews don’t believe in Jesus.”

Wager was very puzzled so he asked the Brooklynites. The male Brooklynite stated that Jews believe that Jesus was a man who may have said some very interesting things, but was still just a man like the rest of us. From that day forward, Wager never talked to God again and acknowledged that the noises he was hearing was a direct result of him opening the tubes that connected his throat to his ears.

Years passed and there was no religious indoctrination. Wager’s sister passed her thirteenth birthday without a Bat Mitzvah. Then, one day, Wager was about ten years old and was at a street fair when he passed a person preaching. It was real fire and brimstone type stuff and the man was very passionate about the notion of salvation and avoiding hell. Wager had no idea what the man was talking about, but he was scared because he knew that he was not saved. Wager went unto the Brooklynites and declared that he needed to learn about God. The Brooklynites were overjoyed and enrolled him in the nearest temple.

At this point, Wager was a year behind in the process to become a Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment). However, he was determined. Wager spent the entire first year learning how to read Hebrew and by the end of the year, he was able to read and write. Wager didn’t think the first year about what any of it meant, he merely went to temple as instructed and learned as he was told. Learning to read a new language was hard enough so there was no time to challenge the status quo.

By the second year, Wager was comfortable with the ritual of being a Jew and could read the Hebrew language but was unsatisfied when it came to what it MEANT to be a Jew. None of this was taught at his temple. Wager started to refer to it as a “Bar Mitzvah factory” and believed that he was acting like a trained monkey. He found it ironic that so much emphasis was being placed on learning how to read Hebrew so he could have a Bar Mitzvah in front of his friends and family who DIDN’T SPEAK A WORD OF HEBREW. It all seemed so pointless. By the end of year two, he felt that he was no closer to God.

As his Bar Mitzvah approached, Wager sincerely believed that there was no God. However, by now it was too late. Plans had been made, airfare had been purchased, a photographer hired, etc. Wager and the Brooklynites came to an agreement that he would have his Bar Mitzvah and then he would be free not to go to temple again. So Wager dutifully performed in front of his friends and family, made $2k, and never set foot in a temple again.

By the time Wager was sixteen, he was out of the closet and open about being an atheist. Numerous students tried to save him by taking him to a Bible study or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or whatever. All to no avail. One of Wager’s most respected friends at one point even invoked a form of Pascal’s Wager on him where he said unto Wager, “Wager – thou dost not partake in any activity that would be offensive to thine God. Thou dost not drink nor act in a promiscuous fashion. Since thou wouldst not need to change thine behavior in any way, why dost thou not start believing in God, you know – just in case?”

Wager stood fast in his beliefs and received the nickname “the benevolent atheist”. Since Wager liked the name “benevolent atheist” much more than his previous handle, “the six foot Jew” (Wager is 6’4”), he made sure that it stuck.

More time passed and Wager had met Mrs. Wager. They knew each other (chuckle) and a Baby Wager came along. Wager started thinking very long and very hard about how he would raise his infant son so as to avoid all the confusion that he had to go through. He thought long and hard about it.

One day, Wager got bored and put together a little essay. He looked it and said that it was decidedly mediocre but posted it on a blog anyway. A few weeks passed by and Paul accused him of being an anti-Semite and Wager found this hilarious.

Anyway, that’s my – I mean Wager’s story. I just wanted to clear up that I’m not anti-Jew specifically. I am anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, and anti-Muslim as I find all such Abrahamic faiths equally worthless.

Friday, April 27, 2007

God Hates Fags

Apologies for the use of the f-word, but I’m referring to a certain fringe group that likes to “protest” military funerals because we (I’m writing in the US) have become too tolerant of homosexuals and that will bring God’s wrath upon us. I realize that they are a fringe group and are not representative of all Christians. Thing is, Biblically speaking, they do have a leg to stand on.

What does God say about homosexuality? He is surprisingly clear for a change. One need only consult Leviticus 18:22 (KJV):

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

And Leviticus 20:13 (KJV):

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

The first quote shows that God sees homosexual sex as an “abomination”. The second quote shows how God believes we should deal with said abomination – we ought to kill them because they brought it upon themselves. See? He’s very clear where he stands and he clearly hates gay people.

The New Testament is nowhere near as clear as the Old Testament on the subject of homosexuality. Sure, you could quote Matthew 15, Mark 7, or 1 Corinthians but it doesn’t have the same zeal as the quotes from Leviticus. If you really want to hate homosexuals, your case is strengthened mightily by the OT.

Do you ever notice that it’s Christian and Muslim groups that have the biggest problem with the gay population? Have you ever seen a Rabbi calling gays an abomination or protesting gay marriage?

Here is why I find the Christian right gay hating thing interesting… When God comes to Abraham, he essentially gives only two rules. Rule number one is to acknowledge that Yahweh is the only God and rule number two is that male children must be circumcised.

That’s it. Just two rules to live by. This is way before God gave a laundry list of rules to his prophet Moe, he’s keeping it simple at this stage. Christians, whether they want to acknowledge it or not, fail to keep rule number one as they worship three distinct stooges – I mean gods. Additionally, circumcision has become optional for Christian born baby boys. These are THE most important commandments and the Christians ignore them.

What else gets ignored? After Jesus’ sacrifice, apparently kosher rules are now out. So, if you’re a Christian, go ahead and have a bacon cheeseburger. Other strange things that can be found in Leviticus (borrowing from and

"Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is apart for her uncleanness," Don't even look at a menstruating woman. 18:19

"Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with a mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woolen come upon thee." No polyester blends for the holy. 19:19

After a woman gives birth, a priest must kill a lamb, pigeon, or dove as a sin offering. This is because having children is sinful and God likes it when things are killed for him. 12:6-8

Both parties in adultery shall be executed. 20:10

Don't do any work on the day of atonement or God will destroy you. 23:29-30

God tells the Israelites to make slaves out of their neighbors and their families. The "heathens" and "strangers" are to be their possessions forever. 25:44-46

So, if you really want to hate homosexuals, you have to hold fast to two versus in a very long book full of really strange and stupid rules. Then you have to pick and choose which rules you want to follow. Bacon cheeseburgers – good! Gays – bad!

Doesn’t exactly make much sense does it? I really have no reason to care about the gay issue. I have exactly zero gay friends so it doesn’t affect me in any meaningful way whatsoever. The only reason it bothers me is because the religious look to their holy book to damn a whole group of people, who historically, have never done anything to harm anyone. They then proceed to discard entire portions of said book and hold fast to the portions that allow this persecution. That’s why it pisses me off.

I do not speak for all atheists, but I do speak for this atheist. Here’s my take on homosexuality – there’s very little difference, morally speaking, in being gay or being left handed. Sure, most of the world is BORN right handed. Society more or less assumes that everyone is right handed. However, a minority of people are born left handed. That’s OK though because left handed people can be good or bad, they just do it writing with their left hands. So long as the lefties of the world work, pay taxes, and don’t hurt anyone – they’re all OK in my book. The same goes for the homosexuals, since I don’t believe in God or any of the stupidity found in the Bible, your all OK with me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Allow Me to Retort

There are a couple of possibilities regarding the study of the Bible.

Possibility 1: It’s all a bunch of rubbish. Put me in this camp. Speaking for myself, I sincerely believe that it was written by a bunch of primitive people in an attempt to explain the world around them. It fails miserably at doing that as well as providing an absolutely horrible set of morals.

Possibility 2: It’s 100% the real deal. Every dreadful act in here actually happened as designed by God Himself. In my humble opinion, this is absolutely improbable.

Possibility 3: It’s allegorical. Some of it happened the way it is described in the Bible. Some of it’s been exaggerated a little bit. You know, the Israelites went through the Reed Sea (approximately 3 feet deep) rather than the Red Sea. The allegorical camp will tell you it’s the symbolism and the message that matters not the EXACT details.

I’m sure that the only thing Bible Student (you honestly disgust me) and I will agree on is that those in the allegorical camp are wimps. If it’s allegorical, which parts are to be taken literally versus symbolically? Help me understand, if it’s allegorical, what am I supposed to learn from Sodom and Gomorra? If angel rapists appear at my door, I should offer up my virgin daughters??? What the fuck?

Bible Student’s explanation as to why God allowed the virgins to live is repulsive. To quote: “An exception from prohibition concerning foreign wives, since there would be no religious or social connection with the pagan nation. There were no heathen in-laws for the Jew to mix with, after the battle.”

It seems like the Jews were always pissed at the notion of the shicksa (a derogatory word for non-Jewish woman). It goes down to the root issue of an entire group of people believing they were singled out by God Himself to inhabit a certain strip of land. Here’s a hint to all Jews. God doesn’t like you. See the destruction of the second temple. See the Middle Ages. See the Spanish Inquisition. See the Holocaust. You are not special! Get over yourselves and start intermarrying.

Bible Student’s defense of the slaughter of the non-virgins is meaningless as well as failing to address the senseless slaughter of the male children. Why? Because they weren’t circumcised?

MJD says: “God never endorsed those wars anywhere in the Bible, neither did He personally tell anyone to start those wars. Yes, they were done in His name, but it doesn't mean that He told people to start them.”

Interesting. God doesn’t endorse these wars… Let’s see what our current president has said speaking to a group of top Palestinian officials:
“I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq…” And I did. And now I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go and get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis the security in the Middle East.’ And by God, I’m gonna do it.”
(Source: American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips, Introduction page xxxviii)

God apparently told President Bush to go to war with Iraq. There are some possibilities here:

1. President Bush doesn’t believe he has a personal relationship with God, but wanted to invade Iraq and wanted to provide a good story to his fundamentalist fan base.
2. God actually told him to do it.
3. President Bush thought about it, came to a decision, and then determined the decision to be of divine influence.

MJD, as long as the God I don’t believe in allows the President to live, He is allowing His questionable name to be dragged into this war. I’ll make you a deal, if God smites the President Old Testament style, I’ll shut down this blog. I’ll be specific too, no heart attacks, airplane crashes, cancer, or other natural causes will be accepted. I will accept a lightning strike or turning into a pillar of salt. Unless God smites the President, then he is guilty of ordering us into the Iraq war.

Here’s the thing, everyone makes a bunch of decisions daily. The President had to make a decision after he rhetorically blasted Iraq pre-invasion. It was either back down or attack. He might have struggled with this decision (he might have flipped a coin or he might have spent less than a second deciding). The voices guiding him, were in his head. However, being so steeped in Christian mythology, he might very well have believed his little internal discussion to be the voice of God. This is the exact reason religion scares me. When every psychopath starts believing their every desire is the voice of God (can’t prove that it’s not) what kind of society will we have?