Missions

In a group I am in on Facebook we were talking about Christian missions and how they seem kinda silly.  People spend lots of money and time to go places to spread the word of god.  I understand as Christians you are called upon by god to spread his word but when you are going to countries where Christianity is already abundant what is the point? It has always seemed to me like an interesting way to get your congregation to pay for your family vacation/homeschooling field trip.  

But my real serious question that came up was why do Christians not actually try to spread the word to the people who really need Christianity?  Why do I only hear about missions to places like South America and Africa usually?  There are a lot of people in these places but a lot of them have not only been introduced to Christianity but are active Christians and many are already there doing missions.  Why don’t I hear about missions to the Middle East?  Isn’t that the real test of your faith?  Really go out there are try to spread the word to people who have no access to your god’s word.  Sure it would be dangerous, but wasn’t it dangerous for Jesus to run around telling everyone he was the son of god? Of course you aren’t as good of a person as Jesus but shouldn’t you, as a Christian, aspire to be as good as Jesus?  Go out and actually experience real persecution.  Not persecution of your faith because a judge decided that gays can get married in your state but the type of persecution where you have to have secret meetings in basements of sympathizers to even share your message and then hope nobody rats you out to the government whose laws are the laws of their majority religion (and by majority I mean only) because you will likely be hunted down and killed.  

What you don’t want to die? Don’t you trust that your god is stronger than the evil and that you are good enough to be saved from that? 

This is where I think that deep down christians do doubt the whole thing – they are not willing to make that sacrifice.  They are not willing to put their life on the line because they do not believe that their god will save them because time and time again christians have seen evil win over and over despite the supposed power of their all-knowing and loving god.  

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The Comment that Warranted a Post

So I am replying to a comment and realize this is a post worthy reply I am crafting here.  

The comment posted by Brittany here is as follows:  

Indeed, I did know that. :) However, Jesus isn’t regarded as fully man and fully God as he is in Christianity.

And it might interest you to know that at conception, a baby already has its own unique DNA separate from the mother (eye/skin/hair color [everything] is already determined), the heartbeat begins before the 21st day, the foundation for every organ is established by 3 weeks, and the real scientific fact is that life begins at conception. Not at some arbitrary number that someone picks out, whether it be 40 days, after birth, 4 years, or when that person is no longer a teenager. The embryo is less developed that you and I, but it is exactly at the right stage of development as it should be. The stage we were both once at and that everyone goes through. Inconvenience shouldn’t determine whether or not we “have a soul” or are truly a “person.” And if you check out in utero images and legit scientific books, it pretty much throws that whole “mass of cells” argument out the window. :)

 

I do know all of those things- but along with that I also know that if life begins at conception (and scientifically pregnancy begins at conception) then the body aborts life all the time because conception often happens and implantation does not.
So that would leave me to wonder if god considers life to begin at conception then why is all life not given a chance? Why do all pregnancies not end in babies? I am not even talking viable living babies – I am talking why do they not all implant and why do 20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage? Is this a flaw in his design? Or is it because god has something to teach that family? In which case god has created life for the sole purpose of taking life?

Also doesn’t god know EVERYTHING? So why create life in someone whom he already knows is gong to take that life? If it is the devil tricking people into making bad decisions – are you saying that the Devil is more powerful that god?

So your all-knowing god creates life to take life  and when knowing life will be taken he is powerless to stop it?

Answers from an Atheist Part 2

Q:  What do you think is the “final straw” that causes most atheists to become atheists?

 

A:  I always like this assumption – that there was a “final straw.”  I think for most atheists there was no defining moment where they were like “Oh hey this god stuff is bullshit.  I am done with it.”

Sure I do think there are some people who have things happen in their life that are so drastic and life altering that they literally do lose their religion.  This is especially true when they would have been considered good christians and who prayed and asked for god to help them and nothing happened.  When you are told that your prayers will be answered and they aren’t you tend to think its a bunch of lies especially if it happens over and over.  So you either have to believe you aren’t good enough for god to answer your prayers, you didn’t pray enough or that there is no god listening.

I didn’t have a “final straw” moment.  I did have a moment where  logical things I had seen that drew me towards Mormonism became the logic that pushed me out the door.  Sometimes I think I should have the missionaries over to discuss this and see what they have to say about it.  Even so that moment didn’t make me have a sudden disbelief in god though it did provide a loophole in which to take a look deep inside myself.  It still took a few years before I was able to actually define the feelings I had been having about god.

Its incredibly hard to be raised to believe in this god  in a country where everyone seems to believe in it too and have doubts.  I truly believe there are many people out there who say they believe in god simply because everyone else does.  Peer pressure is incredibly hard to overcome.
I think that more likely Atheists’ “final straw” is more a coming out – when they are finally fed up with hearing things like “it was in god’s plan” or “god is good” or just any of the other things that are thrown out on a daily basis by well meaning Christians.  So then they post it on facebook , or tell their family and there is a relief to be able to be who you are and openly (maybe) not believe in what everyone else seems to believe in.

Becoming Atheist is a process of introspection and logical and reasonable thinking over time but coming out as an atheist is the “final straw”

Answers from an Atheist part 1

I guess either no one really reads this anymore – and can I blame anyone when I have barely been posting? Or every one who is Christian isn’t actually interested in getting to understand the other view. Or you feel like you have heard it all already.  Whatever the reason – it’s ok.  So there were not many questions but I am going to spread them out over a few posts because no one wants to read a novel here.

Q: If I’m recalling correctly, you said earlier that you *wanted* to believe. What percentage of atheists do you think feel this way? Do you still feel that way yourself (again, if I am remembering correctly)?

A:  When I say that I “want” to believe it is because it would be infinitely easier to feel that I wasn’t in control of my life sometimes.  Oh that bad thing that happened? It’s god’s plan, not my fault.  For example when Jack fell off the bench at the soccer game last year and I watched his eyes roll into his head as he passed out and I wasn’t sure he was breathing.  I watched his entire future life pass in front of me and all I could think was it was all my fault.  If he died, or had brain damage, or was paralyzed then it was all my fault because I wasn’t paying enough attention. People who believe in god seem to feel that way at first about things but then they say that it is god’s plan.  That  god doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  All those lovely phrases that to most atheists (and many christians) are insulting at the worst and insensitive in the least.

Its not that I want to believe because I think it would be better but it is more that often I don’t want to take responsibility for everything that I don’t like or to think that there is a higher power out there that knows better than I do and will make everything right.

The analogy of god as a parent really is accurate – someone who will let you fall but then pick you up, kiss your boo-boos and make it all better.  Who doesn’t “want” to believe in that?  So yeah I want to believe but I just can’t.

I still feel this way but again only when I am feeling like I just don’t want to take responsibility for what is happening in my life or when I really wish there could be a big giant daddy that comes in and makes everything all better.

As for other Atheists I know some have said they do think this too, but again only sometimes.  The problem with having this deity who is always in control is the inverse of having them take responsibility – its when god is given all the credit.

Right now I have the best single semester GPA I have ever had in my life.  I have worked hard for this and my family has  sacrificed – especially my oldest who babysits a lot so that I can go to the library and study or even just lock myself in my room to get my homework done.  This is my hard work and my success.  Not god’s.

So even if sometimes I say I want to believe – its only because I want someone else to blame when things are going down the toilet.

Ask an Atheist Day

I imagine if you do not know a lot of atheists then you would have no idea it is “Ask an Atheist Day.”  Well it is and here is a little blurb about it

atheist“National Ask An Atheist Day is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public – particularly people of faith – to approach us and ask questions about secular life.”

Since this blog should be as much about me learning about Christianity as it should be you learning about secular life.  Both groups have extremists and it and it a shame when anyone is pigeonholed into those beliefs as if they speak for everyone.

So ask me a question.  I will answer what I believe and what I think most atheists think in regards to your question.

I will answer every single question (as long as they are appropriate) in a subsequent blog post.  I figure since people tend to come back to my blog over a week after posting I will give everyone a week to get their questions posted in the comments.

If you don’t want to post publicly you can always email me – victoriousolive [ at ] me [dot] com

(also I am sorry for my lack of posting as of late but trying to keep straight A’s in 16 units at school with half being science classes is pretty much taking up my whole life)

Science vs Religion

In January I started back to school.  I already have a Bachelor’s degree but it is in Sociology and not a science so I have a lot of prerequisites I need to do before I can apply to the School of Nursing.  
I am taking both Biology and Chemistry right now and what I cannot understand is how do scientists combine their belief in a creator with what they know scientifically to be true?  

My chemistry professor has a Master’s in Biochemistry yet from what I have gathered from his Twitter account he is very much a Christian.  I think he might even be Mormon from some of his tweets.  I don’t want to ask him about it because even though my grades are not subjective I don’t want my lack of belief to effect his grading but also it might be slightly inappropriate.

Then my biology professor has a PhD in Marine Biology.  He has to believe in evolution or how else could you really teach it to a 132 people a semester? I only know he is a Christian because I am sure that is not a T he is wearing on his neck everyday. 

How do you believe in evolution and the story of Adam and Eve at the same time?  How can you even be part of a culture that has people actively calling your kind (scientists) fakes and in cahoots with Satan to fool the public in not believing in god?

Like I really do not get it.  

Why?

I have been thinking lately about why I have not only kept this blog going (even if in a very limited state) but recently I even bought and changed the URL to http://www.temporarychristian.com.

I feel like this is something important to me. I am not looking for a god but I have found at with the right people I can really enjoy going to church. Crazy I know but really not unusual.

Last year I read an article about the atheists in the pew. Lots of atheists are going to church for the community aspect and because it does provide a way to talk about religion with you kids. One of the complaints about religion by anti-theists is that children are indoctrinated at an early age to not only believe but that there is no other options. Children grow up thinking that they will be disowned by their family if they are non-believers. Being an atheist is considered the unforgivable sin right? This isn’t just here-say but based on the fact that very few atheists grew up that way. More often than not they come from very religious families. Families that you probably sit next to in church every Sunday. The type of people you think are great Christians.
The thing is I don’t want to do exactly what I criticize religious parents for doing. I don’t want to indoctrinate my children into my disbelief. I want them to be exposed to different things. I want them to experience all sorts of different religions.
For myself I would just like to feel part of a group a bit larger than my family. A selection of open-minded friends to get together with on the weekends sometimes. People to talk about day to day stuff with. Basically the same thing I think everyone wants in life.
I think it’ll take a bit to find those truly open-minded people who don’t be friend me simply to try to “save” me but its ok I think it’ll be worth it. Plus it will be fun (and free donuts) along the way.

Look at me…

Helping a friend with her sacrifice for Lent.

Thanks to a series of events I am pretty sure the universe hates me but everything that happened today has freed my friend up from babysitting my kiddos and now she can go get her ash “smear” at Lenten services tomorrow.

She wasn’t sure what she was going to sacrifice for Lent. I pointed out that thanks to many changes she has made in her life recently she has given up a lot of vices and there isn’t too much left. I suggested instead of giving up something she takes on something that brings her closer to God.

I suggested down loading the You Version bible app on her iPhone and starting a reading plan. I remember from last year they have multiple plans spanning the full Lenten period or a few shorter ones.
Lent is only 40 days but it does cover a 46 day period because technically Lent doesn’t include Sundays (which was a major flaw in the movie “40 Day and 40 Nights”) but I think any good reading plan would actually last all 46 days.

My thought was she would give up time otherwise wasted on the Internet or TV and replace it with spending time with the bible.

Then I wondered “Who’s going to believe I’m an atheist if I keep talking like this?”

Crazy Busy!

Why did I decide to do this the same time I was starting back to school?  I must have been crazy.

So of course I was doing good til yesterday.  I only had 2 little snafus (aka 8 ounces cokes) but then for some reason yesterday it all hit me like a ton of bricks.  All the sleep I have been missing trying to get my new life in school rearranged finally came back to haunt me and it did it in the middle of biology class.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I kept dozing off and the worst part about it was that I was sitting in the front row.  There is NO WAY my professor didn’t notice me dozing off.
I felt so bad.  I even got like 5 hours of sleep the night before which was like a record compared to the previous week.  So yesterday I broke down on my no caffeine, no soda and  hightailed it to the nearest Starbucks for a Java Chip Frappacino with an extra shot.

Go big or go home right?

The thing is I don’t feel guilty.  That is the benefit of actually not believing in a god.  Sure I was giving up something but more often than not it wasn’t really a big deal and I was only letting myself down.  I don’t have to be worried about not being good enough.  I don’t even have to be humbled by the experience.  I just start over.  Or not.  It really is whatever I want.
It was 21 days and I made it 14.  I think that is pretty good with or without a god to back me up.

I mean this is the original reason I started this blog in the first place.  I was giving up atheism.  Well obviously that wasn’t for good because I don’t think you can truly change an atheist’s mind about any god just like you can’t change a theist’s mind about their god.  I think the only place there is room for change is with agnostics.  They think there is something out there but they aren’t sure what so they are one step closer than I am.

I am still ok with that because I still don’t see how any god would fit into my life.

Temptation is Everywhere

I cannot imagine being someone who is actually doing something like giving up solid food or something that really is hard to give up like cigarettes or drugs.   Food you need to survive and the other two are highly addictive.  Temptation is really everywhere in every form.  I didn’t even think much about sodas until I was giving them up.  Then I had to drink a parting 1 Liter on Sunday night (of course!) and I can only imagine how many cigarettes were smoked, coffee was drank or food was eaten by others that day.  We act as if giving something like soda or cigarettes or Facebook up is the end of the world so we need to fill up on it.  We aren’t bears and its not hibernation but might as well be.  I wonder if Binge and Purge is a cultural thing or just part of the human condition?

For me, Monday was an incredibly easy day for giving up soda/caffeine.  I didn’t go anywhere and I don’t have any soda in the house.  I do have a Keurig and lots of coffee pods for it but coffee isn’t really my caffeine nemesis, soda is.  I go all the time without drinking coffee which is why a Keurig was a great gift from my father for my 35th birthday.  Now if someone had bought me a Soda Stream, Monday would have been much more difficult.

Tuesday was different.   I started back to school on Tuesday.  I have decided I want to be a nurse when I finally decide to grow up and lucky for me there is a great school here that has a nursing program with a great reputation.  Of course since my degree is in sociology I have at least 4 semesters of pre-requisites to take before I can even apply to the actual nursing program.  
So Tuesday was day one and I only had 1 class and I brought a POM juice with me BUT I had errands to do after class before I headed home.  I even met my dad for lunch at Subway and instead of my typical soda with my sandwich I had a water.   I skipped the chips too because I knew chips would be salty and that would make me want the sweet of the soda.  

Even then yesterday was a cake walk compared today.  Mondays and Wednesdays are my big day.  I leave my house at 10 am and don’t get home til almost 10pm.   I didn’t take enough to drink and somehow I didn’t see a water fountain until 530pm.  The only thing that made it easier at first was I didn’t have any cash for the vending machines but when I drove to the other building (its a ways away and I had limited time or I would have walked) I could have gotten a soda.  Man I seriously thought about it.  

Now I know that the idea is to pray for strength and to remember what God gave up (his son) for people’s salvation.   I understand that but since I haven’t taken the dive back into the waters of the Bible yet I am just playing along for the giving something up for giving it up’s sake.   

I do want to post the sermons that explain the purpose for the fast BUT I still haven’t watched them.  So as incentive I will post them here for you to watch and then I will have no choice but to finally do it too (maybe I should have given up being a procrastinator for my fast!)

This is the First Sermon

And the Second

I wanted to add that just seeing the still frames made me realize I really miss this church.  I NEVER in my life thought I would say that and some days I wish I had someone here that could take me to a great little church like Oasis here.  And if any of my former church peeps are reading this blog I would love for you to comment just so I know you are out there 🙂