Posts tagged ‘myths’

Challenging Religious Myths 1: No Morality without Religion

Fireworks 1Myth 1: Without religion we would have no moral values and our society would be worse off.

Surely, the argument goes, the benefit of having a god in your life is that it gives you rules to live by. “If God does not exist then everything is permissible,” said Dostoyevsky, and indeed, without the threat of eternal toasting what’s to stop us? And without a moral backbone based on religion, our society would suffer.

Of course, there are plenty of things to stop us from behaving totally selfishly. With, or without religion, human beings have tremendous capacity for empathy and often modify their behaviour because they know of the pain that they might cause others. And although religion is good at shunning, society is good at disapproving of behaviour in order to protect itself too. We have survived in our present form because we are good at stopping those things which are threatening to our tribe. With, or without a god, we are capable of love and altruism and nobility because of choice, rather than the desire to avoid the ultimate, eternal, divine shunning. I am sure that both theist and atheist would agree that morality based on positive choice is preferable to one based on fear.

There is also growing evidence that religion appears to have little clear positive benefit on society, and there is a case to be made that it is, in fact, very detrimental…

Continue Reading December 7, 2007 at 1:10 am 52 comments

YHVH – Conqueror of the Chaos Monsters

The god El fighting Zu.  From an Assyrian relief ca 860 BC.The other day, while browsing some Kent Hovind videos on YouTube, I caught an interesting remark. Hovind, a notorious young earth creationist, claimed that dinosaurs lived as recently as 5000 years ago. Our legends of fire-breathing dragons come from our memories of dinosaurs, and that those dinosaurs breathed fire. Now, where did Hovind get these ideas which have no historical or scientific support? I believe it to specifically be a reference to Behemoth and Leviathan, two creatures mentioned in Job 40 and 41. Since Behemoth has biblical reference outside of this passage, I thought I would look into Leviathan, and see what the Bible says about this creature, and various ways in which it can be interpreted. Let’s look up some of the Biblical references to Leviathan. Some Bibles interpret the Leviathan of Job 41 to be a crocodile. This was the view taken by my old church when I was growing up. Ken Hovind believes this to be a dinosaur. Let’s take a look at the description of this beast as given by YHVH in Job 41:

The Lord (YHVH), in expresses his power and might to Job thusly:

“Can you draw out Levi’athan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? (vs 1,2)

Implying that YHVH can do these things to Leviathan, and poor mortal Job cannot…

Continue Reading September 18, 2007 at 6:44 pm 92 comments

There are elves in Iceland and killer fans in South Korea

ElvesDid you know many people in Iceland believe in elves? It is true. Polls consistently show the people of Iceland believe in these humanlike creatures that live in rocks. This innocuous urban legend is simply an assumed part of their Celtic culture in which some Icelanders believe and some do not.

Electric FanIn South Korea there are many people who believe if an electric fan is left running in a closed room it will suck away all of the oxygen in the air and suffocate those in the room or that the fan slows the person’s metabolism so much that she or he dies from hypothermia. This urban legend is so strong that every electric fan in South Korea is sold with timer switch to shut it off after the person has fallen asleep.

Urban legends are funny things because this phenomenon shows how the human mind is often willing to believe something completely outrageous even in the face of fact and logic.

When the people of South Korea were told that no one outside of their country believed in death by fan, there were excuses given as to why this trend affects only the South Korean physiology. Sometimes people will believe what they want to believe regardless the validity of the facts staring them in the face…

Continue Reading September 12, 2007 at 6:55 pm 9 comments

Myths and the Creation of Meaning

Loch Ness MonsterI listened recently to a fascinating radio broadcast where Adrian Shine was discussing how, to date, he had failed to find the mythical watery monster of Loch Ness (Saturday Live, BBC Radio 4, 18/08/08).

Two things made this conversation interesting for me and took it above the realms of the usual “the-monster-must-exist-coz-I’ve-seen-pictures” story. First, this man was no fool. He was a serious naturalist who had spent over thirty years exploring and collaborating in over 200 university projects on the loch. He writes in learned journals and can do the science.

Secondly, when asked why he hadn’t found the leviathan, he simply stated that it didn’t exist. At least, there wasn’t a shred of scientific evidence that it did. And he should know, because he has spent the best part of a working life doing the sonar, going in the submarines, looking in the mud, sampling the plankton, testing the photographs, and analysing the data…

Continue Reading September 10, 2007 at 6:48 am 14 comments

Just how high did YHWH fear the men of Babel would build their Tower?

The Tower of Babel by Pieter BreugelAs a Christian, I was taught that the building of the Tower of Babel (in all likelihood, a ziggurat) was not an attempt to physically reach heaven, rather a spiritual attempt at humanistic arrogance.

The fact that the text says, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top {will reach} into heaven” merely reflects the naiveté of the builders’ view of the cosmos. The builders only imagined in their ignorance that YHWH lived above the sky, and could be reached if the tower were just tall enough.

I now strongly disagree with this view. The Biblical text, in both Old and New Testaments, makes it perfectly clear, in numerous examples, that God lives above the above the firmament of the sky in Heaven…

Continue Reading August 24, 2007 at 4:53 am 69 comments

Ignorance is Bliss: The Origin of Languages?

A ziggurat in IraqYesterday, I wrote an article which offered a radically different interpretation of the Adam and Eve story. I do love the stories of Genesis. They are obviously of timeless quality and influence. I was raised to believe that these amazing, but bizarre stories are true – literally true – the Divine account of the universal and human origins. A recent poll done by USA Today shows that 66 percent of American adults are of the opinion that God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years.I now believe that the book of Genesis like much of the Old Testament, is mythology. Hermann Gϋnkel in his book Genesis long ago laid out the different types of mythology (or as he called them, legends) contained in Genesis, and how to interpret them as ancient myth that make sense to the modern reader. Gϋnkel emphasizes that myth in Genesis is not fiction, rather it is legend that “adopts and works over certain data which come from reflexion, tradition or observation”.

I want to write my thoughts on the legend of how the human language became confused – The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). As a Christian, I was taught that the scattering of the languages was a result of the pride and pretension of humanity…

Continue Reading July 21, 2007 at 7:35 pm 12 comments

Garden of the Gods

From the Ghent altarpiece by Jan van Eyck And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, From the Ghent altarpiece by Jan van Eyckand brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. – Genesis 2:18-20 (NKJV)

I have always loved the creation stories in the Bible. They were probably among the first things that I read in Scripture, since I remember them from early childhood, and also they are in the front of the book! Christians have interpreted Genesis 2 and 3, the famous story of the Garden of Eden, to be the Fall of Man and the origin of Sin.

Continue Reading July 20, 2007 at 5:13 am 42 comments

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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