Friday, April 1, 2011

Confessions of a Godless Heathen

Happy April Fool's Day, everyone! Or, for those of you who are French: Poisson d'Avril!

Click on this link if you have no idea
what this picture is about.

I just want to preface this post by saying that this isn't an April Fool's joke. This is a legitimate and 100% honest post.

So, being that it's now April, it's time for a new monthly theme. I decided that I would try to do a non-fiction theme every other month, just to keep things varied and interesting. I rarely see a lot of non-fiction reviews on other book blogs and thought that it would be fun to incorporate my love of non-fiction into my blog.

The theme this month is Religion, Faith, and Spirituality, a topic that is often the subject of debate, anger, war, etc. There's even a sort of social rule of thumb: the three things you shouldn't talk about are politics, money, and religion. Well, today (and for the rest of the month) I'm throwing that rule of thumb out the window and talking about religion. Today, in fact, I'll be talking about my own experiences with religion.

I always like to disclose information that might influence the way I review a book (see, for example, my rant yesterday about Abe Lincoln). I feel that it's important for me to discuss my religious background before diving headfirst into a month full of books about religion so that readers can understand my perspectives and my biases.

I grew up in a Protestant home. We went to a church that was conveniently located in our backyard. Literally. Every Sunday we would walk through the pastor's back lawn (he lived next door), cross the bridge over the tiny creek that separated our land from the church's land, and go through the parking lot to the front doors of the church. This went on until I was about ten or eleven. At that point in my life I was huge on religion. And I mean huge. I was in Youth Services every Sunday. Every summer I'd go to Vacation Bible School, every Christmas Eve I'd participate in our church's celebration. I even spent one summer at a Bible camp.

Things changed, however, in middle school. I stopped going to church and I really can't explain why. It was like I'd just gotten fed up with it. Of course, all preteens and teenagers have that rebellious streak in them but this streak would last. I started paying attention to the way that some Christians treated other people. I started to learn about how Christians had used the Bible to justify horrific things like slavery, oppression, and war. I started to think, what if all of this religion is just getting in the way of God?

My grandmother was kind of like that too. She didn't go to church and didn't believe that she had to in order to show her love for God. She believed that through private study, prayer, and living a good life she could just as easily be a good person and a good follower of Christ. She was never pushy about religion (although as I got older we would end up debating things like evolution and same-sex marriage just for fun) and she never thought that people who didn't go to church would go to Hell. She saw as well as I did that there were people who claimed they were Christian but who didn't have the actions to back that claim up.

I started to believe the way that she did for a while, continuing to keep an open mind about Christianity and not throwing it out the window completely. That changed when I was a freshman in high school. My family moved across town and my mother started going to a different church. My sister would tag along with her but I was still in that I-don't-want-to-go phase. She finally dragged me along one Sunday and it was almost as if that was the Sunday that I was supposed to go. It was that day that I heard a sermon that made me turn my back on Christianity forever.

It was a well-written sermon, I'll give it that. Clever. Contemporary. But it was the most despicable thing I had ever heard. It was called "The Devil's Toy Box" and it was about the different toys that Satan plays with. "Satan," the pastor said, "plays war but when he plays he uses real weapons and real people die. Satan also plays doctor, but instead of curing people, he creates new diseases with which to kill people."

If Satan did have a toy box, I'm pretty sure it would
have a serpent stuffed animal inside.

"Okay," I said to myself, sitting in the pew. "I'm with you so far. Sort of. I mean, how many wars were perpetrated by 'men of God?' It's not historically accurate to say that 'Satan made me do it' when you're talking about things like the Crusades." But then the pastor said something that made me want to stand up and walk right out of that church.

He said: "When Satan plays with Barbies he uses Ken and Ken."

I lost it. I really did. Silently, of course, because I didn't want to make a scene with all of those true believers around. I probably wouldn't have made it out of that church alive. But inside I was fuming. How dare he use religion as a way to spread hatred of homosexuality? War and disease are true evils in this world regardless of whether there's a god or not. They really do kill people. But gays and lesbians? They don't even belong in the same paragraph as nuclear weapons and smallpox.

I physically, emotionally, and spiritually left church that day. And I haven't looked back since. I don't regret it. I cannot in good conscience belong to a religion that supports the mistreatment of an entire segment of society. Besides, by that time I'd really stopped believing in God altogether.

There have been times in the last decade or so when I've looked into other religions. I've considered converting to Buddhism. I even went through the obligatory nature religions phase. But the truth is that for me, personally, religion leaves me feeling hollow. I can appreciate the beauty of a cathedral or a mosque or a temple but when I step inside it feels empty.

So why, in the name of everything holy, do I consider myself to be spiritual? Or, rather, how is it possible that I can call myself that? I don't really believe in a creator of any sort; in fact, I'm rather scientifically minded when it comes to things like that. Yet I cannot say for sure that there isn't some sort of higher power.

I like to say that if I were filling out a form of some sort and there was a choice marked "Apathetic" under Religion I'd put my check in that box. For all intents and purposes I consider myself to be Agnostic. It's the lazy man's religion. You can get out of bed in the morning and say "Maybe there's a god and maybe there isn't" and then move on with your day. Organized religions make me feel suffocated because they expect you to follow what they believe exactly.

I can't do that because I don't think that there is one right religion. In fact, I believe there are as many ways to approach whatever higher power there may be as there are stars in the universe. What you believe is right for you. It may not be right for the person sitting across from you or the family living next door. Who cares? What matters isn't that everyone believes the same thing. What matters is that everyone believes what they think is true and uses it as a way to better themselves and their community.

Because that, in a nutshell, is what I believe the true purpose of religion and faith are. Even people who don't believe in a higher power can live a purposeful and meaningful life through their beliefs. They know that you don't need to be good because a book tells you to be good; you need to be good because otherwise what's the point of life? Even the non-religious know that life on Earth is short. To be a horrible, miserable person is to waste that life. Committing crimes, lying, cheating, stealing: each of these things cheapens your experience of life.

I'm not saying that Christians and Jews and Pagans and Hindus are only good because of what a holy book says. Like the non-religious, they follow secular laws and common sense as well as what is laid out for them in their religious texts. But those who are religious tend to believe that being good is about the afterlife as well. They think about what will happen to them once they shed their mortal coil.

This is where there is a divergence of belief. The non-religious don't live their lives with the end in mind. They live for the present and the future here on Earth. Does that mean that if, by some chance, there is one true religion that they will burn in the fiery pits of torment? I don't believe so.

First of all, I tend to think that belief is a very powerful thing and that what you personally believe is what will happen. I believe there is a soul and if you are devout in your belief that if you live a good life you'll go to Heaven or Valhalla or the Summerlands or wherever your religion teaches you will go, your soul will go there. Secondly, even if I am wrong about my first point, if there is a person who has lived a good life, does that person have to suffer because they didn't believe in the right deity? If that was the case, then what's the point of being good?

Before this turns into a philosophical treatise, let me conclude by saying that I don't call the potential higher power "god". I like to refer to it as The Universe. This is mostly because I see that higher power as being a universal principle. Who's to say that every single god or goddess who has ever been worshiped on this planet has not been the same higher power? If there is something out there, how can we know what it is? How can we even fathom it or put a name on it? Isn't it more likely that we as human beings break this higher power up into deities because it is far easier for us to comprehend that feeling we get that there is someone or something bigger than us?

So why, if I'm an apathetic Agnostic, am I spending an entire month on the subject of faith? Because it intrigues me. I like learning about what other people believe. I think that a lot can be learned about people and culture by studying religion. That's why the books that I chose this month cover a variety of beliefs, including non-belief.

Some of the things that I say this month may offend you. Some of them might make you think. Others might be exactly what you believe. And that's the beauty of it. Religion is personal. Faith is ever-changing. Belief is what holds our values and morals in place. No two people are alike with respect to religion--even if they're sitting in the same pew or laying out prayer rugs right next to each other or sporting the same Darwin bumper sticker.

Since when did Darwin become a trademark?
I'm not quite sure that little TM should be there.

So, long story short: my name is Gabriel and I'm a godless heathen. But that doesn't mean that I won't respect you or your beliefs. It also doesn't mean that I'm looking to adopt them. I like my own beliefs just fine.

I'm really excited about the books I've chosen for this month and I hope that you guys are too. If you have anything to say about anything this month, don't hesitate to say it. The comments section is there for people to use as a platform for discussion and debate. Just please be respectful of each other and don't bash other religions.



  1. Would you mind if I questioned you? Meaning, if I wish to know more on where you stand on certain subjects you you mind me asking you questions?

  2. As long as this Q&A doesn't end with you trying to covert me, you can ask anything you want. :D

  3. I promise I won't try to convert you. :] And if anything sounds like I am, just tell me. Sometimes I get a little carried away.

  4. So do I, but not about religion. I'm really politically-minded and I tend to talk people's ears off about what I believe. I think that that shows that people like you and I have strong convictions and that's really admirable in a country where many people, especially those under thirty, can't even spell conviction.

  5. Haha. Yeah.

    Well here is your fist question. And mind that I'm only asking because I want to know why you didn't think of it and if you did what are you thoughts.

    Do you think everyone who calls themselves a Christian is a Christian?

  6. I love this question!

    I definitely don't think that at all. In fact, I think that there are a lot of labels that people give themselves that aren't supported by their actions.

    There are a lot of people who say they are Christian because they go to church or because they were raised Christian or because they think that it's more socially acceptable. These people do not necessarily live their lives according to what the Bible teaches (no matter what they might say). Many so-called Christians interpret things for themselves according to what they want to believe or listen to religious figures who have agendas outside of living a peaceful life in Christ.

    The issue is, however, that there are many passages in the Bible that are ambiguous or that refer to situations which may no longer be applicable. There are other passages that get taken out of context or that get twisted to fit what those in power would like to see happen (see, for instance, the use of the Bible as a justification of slavery or the insistence that women have no right to hold positions of power within the church).

    So, no, not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is a Christian, but with so many different denominations of Christianity and so many different interpretations of the Bible, it isn't always easy to determine what exactly a Christian is.

  7. Let me make it clear that I do not believe that the bible justifies slavery, just like I don't think that it justifies rape or thievery. And yet the Saints mentioned in the bible have committed these crimes. Perhaps this is why people believe that the bible "justifies". "If the Saints did it why can't I?" I've heard this a lot lately. Okay....:]Here is my next question:

    Do you believe that the bible only gives the good examples?

  8. No one learns from only good examples.

    Let me put it this way. If no kid ever burned his house down because he'd been playing with matches, would children know that it's dangerous to do so? Likewise, if Lot's wife hadn't turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at her ravaged city, would there be any lesson in the story?

    I don't think that the Bible is a history of the world at that point, although, as with any religious text, there are historical truths in it. I think, honestly, that much of it is allegorical, that these are stories that are meant to deliver a message to the followers of Christ.

    For example, did Jonah actually get swallowed by a whale? Did God and the devil actually sit down and talk about a guy named Job? Probably not. What the writers of the Bible did do was use their words to inspire people as well as to teach them. In order to teach, you must have lessons to learn from, both good and bad.

  9. You said, "The issue is, however, that there are many passages in the Bible that are ambiguous or that refer to situations which may no longer be applicable." Could you explain what you mean a little further?

  10. One example that I can think of off the top of my head (and this applies to other religions as well) is the idea of not eating certain meats. There is historical evidence to show that religious laws against consuming meat (such as not eating the meat of animals with cloven hooves) were put in place as a safety precaution after a disease similar to hoof and mouth began afflicting animals in the Middle East. This issue alone has caused wars and schisms within various world religions because it is seen as being the word of God but in actuality it may have been a sneaky way for governments to protect their people from dying.

    That would be a situation that is no longer applicable because today with our interconnectedness, people can be told when there is a danger of contamination much more easily than thousands of years ago where people were not always within easy traveling distance. At that point, saying that God told you not to eat a certain type of meat is much easier than sending a messenger out every time the threat came and then again when it had passed.

  11. Yes but I think that's pretty obvious. That doesn't make the bible ambiguous or no longer applicable. So God told people from the years "Before our Lord" (A.D.) that it wasn't safe to eat that kind of meat. To me this shows that the God of the bible is a caring and observant one. Tell me something else, you can't say it's these things without a few more reasons. Why else is it what you say it is?

  12. Let me answer your question with a question: if the Bible wasn't ambiguous would there be so many different sects of Christianity? And would there have been so many changes in interpretation over the centuries? The Protestant/Catholic division would never have occurred if there was no ambiguity. Many people in Europe disagreed with the Catholic interpretation of the Bible and felt that their own interpretation was the correct one. Yet, Protestantism itself has spawned dozens of denominations within itself because there are some issues where agreement just isn't possible. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism have each seen splits of a similar nature based on doctrinal disagreements.

    Let's take the issue of spanking your children. Here's an article from Religious Tolerance:

    A quote from the article says: "Some conservatives Jews and Christians feel that the Bible requires parents to use corporal punishment. Spanking is not optional. Many feel that it is the only biblically approved way to discipline children." The article then goes on to talk about the Golden Rule, citing several passages from the Bible that talk about treating others as you would like to be treated and raising the question of whether or not spanking is moral because it is treating someone in a way that you would not like to be treated.

    The basic idea behind this article is that there is dissension among and between different sects of Christianity and Judaism about whether or not the Bible not only condones spanking of children, but also whether or not it prescribes spanking as the only way to punish them. This means that for some, grounding your child or taking away privileges goes against the Bible's teachings. For others, spanking is seen as being a bad thing and going against the Bible's teachings of love and non-violence.

    And here's another question: is ambiguity a bad thing? I don't think so. I believe that if a text didn't hold some ambiguity then religions would never grow and change. Society itself would stunt its own growth because no one would ever question something and therefore new ideas would never come to light. The history of the world has been shaped by ambiguity, religious or otherwise.

  13. Ooo, now I like your question...haha. But let me ask a question to you answer/question to my question:

    Do you think that God intended for there to be so many sects in Christianity?

    Also it is in my opinion(because that article was stupid)that the bible says to beat the sin out of your child with a rod. I don't know about you, but I'm thankful that I was not beaten when I was younger. I think any child would take a spanking over a beating. And furthermore, why are we debating this? (Not meaning you and I) There are far bigger issues to discuss. Are there not?

  14. Also, if you are a parent, then you have no worry over your child spanking you back. I swear, that child would get the beating of his life if mine. I'm the parent, your child. I may not be perfect, so be better than me. This is why that article was stupid. Stand up and be a parent, not my friend. I don't need friends, I do need a parent. Get what I'm saying?

  15. To be honest, I think that if there is a higher power of any sort, that he/she/it doesn't really like the fact that we as humans have divided he/she/it up in any sense of the word.

    Agreed, the article sucked but I'm at work so I couldn't go and dig through a Bible and I had to suffice with a Google search. LOL

    I also agree that there are more important issues. You may take offense to this and I don't mean it to sound offensive, but I think that the message of a religious text is far more important that how it is said. Meaning, you can quote seven thousand passages about love and its different forms and all of that but do the words really matter or is it more important that the Bible tells you to love people? Similarly, if a holy book tells you not to kill, is it more important that it gives you specific details on who not to kill or is the overarching message what's really at the heart of that religion?

  16. As to your second post: we are one hundred percent in accord on that fact. My mother is the kind of parent that tries to be friends with her children and it drives me nuts.

    I don't think it's necessary to discipline a child harshly unless the situation warrants it (i.e., if that child was going to harm himself or someone else because of his actions), but I also think that discipline of some sort *is* necessary.

  17. I don't think He intended us to be divided either. But I do think that there is only one way to go to heaven. Do you believe in a life after death?

    Also, I'm sure your mother means well. My parents sometimes have to fill in where friends just don't know how. Oddly enough I feel like I can be more open with my parents than with any of my friends. But that does not mean that they are my friends. They are in fact, parents. Not friends. Just wanted to clarify that point. :]

  18. Do I believe in life after death? The answer is that I honestly don't know. I do believe in the soul so I guess I must on some level believe that something happens to it. For me, and I know that this will seem strange, I think that the likeliest thing is reincarnation. It's one of the oldest beliefs in the world and is found in many of the world's major religions. Yet, there is no real way for any of us to know until we die.

    Personally, and I think this is true for many people who are Agnostic, I prefer to dwell here in the present and better myself for the sake of my life here on Earth. I don't see that this is much different from those people who live their lives with death (and their immortal soul) in mind. In the end, we are all trying to be better people regardless of our reasons.

  19. I feel that my questioning has come to an end tonight. And maybe for a while.

    You are so odd :]

  20. I haven't had that much fun in a while, to be honest. I like being able to debate and talk with people, especially about controversial issues.

    And thank you. I consider "odd" to be a compliment. :)

  21. Your welcome.

    In a way it could be.

  22. Lol. I just thought it would be funny to let you know I'm on my way to church. :]

  23. LOL! And I slept in until 11 this morning. :)

  24. Yes but I listened to one of the greatest speakers in all of South Carolina. Father Larence.

  25. You know I was thinking about what you said, about the bible being ambiguous. And I think I disagree with that. I think there is one meaning to everything written, and it is never your job to find out what it is. I do however think that there are many lessons from one phrase or story. Maybe that is what you meant. I don't know. I do have a another question for you though:

    In what way is the bible not good enough for you?

    Again, not a question to convert you. I simply want to know why its good enough for me and not for you.

  26. It's definitely not a question of it not being good enough for me. Like most sacred texts, the language is beautiful, the stories are inspiring. For me, though, there are personal issues that I have with most faiths that are based on my own convictions.

    For example, whether or not the Bible (or any text) actually says things against homosexuality (there is debate within the religious community about what those passages actually mean), people interpret it that way and use their faith as a way to deny rights to a whole segment of the population. I cannot believe in a religion that discriminates against anyone.

    Because I think that the higher power belongs to all faiths and not just to one, it is my belief that everyone must find their own way to that higher power. Some people see it as God (Allah, YHVH), for others it is the Goddess, for still others it is one of innumerable other deities. For me it is The Universe. It's just a title, obviously, and not the actual universe but that is just how I see it.

    I am in no way disrespectful of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Vedic texts, or any other holy book. I don't see myself as being above anyone in terms of my religious convictions, nor would I ever try to dissuade someone from believing in their faith. Personally, it is all a matter of me not finding what I'm looking for, the faith that calls to me.

    I may never find it and, truthfully, that doesn't concern me. If, in the end, I burn in Hell for it then you are right and I'm wrong and that's fine by me. I would much rather burn for staying true to my convictions then to live happily ever after because I lied to myself.

  27. A true Christian does not discriminate. But there is a difference between discrimination and non-toleration. Christians do not tolerate murder. That is not discrimination. And they do not tolerate homosexuality because it clearly (absolutely no way metaphorical) stated in the bible, that a man will not sleep with a man. Muslim government (note that I said government instead of all Muslims as a whole) killed a lot of Americans on 9/11. They believed that their god or whatever it may be that they have, moved them to do so. Christians believe their God does not tolerate homosexuality. What do you think about all this?

  28. That's one of the reasons why I absolutely will not consider myself a Christian. Ever. I understand that it is your faith and that you believe unequivocally that every word of the Bible is the word of God. That is your prerogative and the prerogative of many other people as well. I respect that. I know that there are those who will not "tolerate" homosexuality but I will never count myself among them.

    I do think, however, that the fact that you would even put murder and homosexuality in the same paragraph is, to me, insulting. The two are in no way related to one another. Furthermore, I cannot and will not dictate the way that I treat people based on a book, no matter what the book is. I believe that if God in the Christian sense is so loving and kind he would never, and I mean never, encourage intolerance of people he had made. All men, according to Christians, are created by God. This includes homosexuals. They are people with rights just like everyone else. And they are being treated with the same injustice with which blacks, women, and other marginalized groups in society have been treated. If that is how the Christian God wishes things to be then I have no desire to follow him.

    Also, it was not Muslim governments that were behind the 9/11 attacks. It was a radicalized group of Muslims, led by a man (Osama Bin Laden) who was put into power by our own government by the way. This is much different than the Crusades, which were not only implemented but encouraged by the church and governmental leaders. Many more people died at the hands of Christians during the Crusades than on 9/11. I'm not saying that one is better than the other. No one should kill based on religion. All I am pointing out is that Christians are demonizing an entire religion based on the actions of a few men and yet they expect people not to demonize Christianity based on thousands of years of murder in the name of Christ, a man who preached tolerance and non-violence.

    This is one issue that we will never see eye-to-eye on. I respect you as a person and I am in no way trying to insult you or your beliefs. You are a very intelligent and convicted young woman and that is admirable. I will not, however, let anyone try to tell me that my beliefs are wrong simply because they believe their beliefs are right.

    That being said, I am guilty sometimes of the same crime. We get so wrapped up in our own little world and we wish for everyone to stand beside us in our beliefs. It just isn't possible. Dissension will always exist. That does not mean that we have to take our dissension to the level of violence nor that we should let our differences divide us. We are all human, regardless of who we are. Respect is so important and, yet, it is one of the things the world is lacking in most.

  29. I wasn't trying to attack your faith. I was just asking a question. And before you called this a debate and it's not. It will be if you keep calling it that though. I can't type much more I have somewhere to be. But you can be sure I'll have more questions later :] If you don't mind of course.

  30. I guess discussion or Q&A are better words to describe it.

    And I know you weren't trying to attack me. By the time I wrote that last response I was exhausted and still had two hours of work left so I was already a little edgy. That's also an issue that's very close to my heart so it tends to set me off and I apologize, because it definitely looks as if I was attacking *you* and I in no way meant to do that.

  31. Apology accepted. Nicely handled too. We can stop if you like. I mean I'd love to ask more questions, I just don't want you mad at me:/

  32. I'm definitely not mad at you. First and foremost, you're the only person who ever consistently comments on my blog and when you do it's usually something constructive or controversial or just generally not formulaic. I don't think I could ever be mad at you.

    Secondly, we are both two people who are, as I have said, very strong in our convictions. There will be times (quite often, I'm sure) where our beliefs will butt heads with one another and there will be no compromising. Which is fine. I think the world would be a boring place if we all agreed with each other all the time.

    Thirdly, your questions have been interesting and thought-provoking. The only issue is that when two people discuss religion for an extended period of time, usually they will either come to an understanding or they will end up in a shouting match. I have a feeling that the latter is more likely with the two of us, but if you have more questions that you would like to have answered, I'm okay with that as long as you understand that there will be some issues that may be touchier than others.

    It would be the same situation if the roles were reversed and I was asking you the questions. Because we barely know each other, we don't know which nerves we may hit. I could say something that could offend you so much that you'd want to track me down and beat me senseless and I would never know what exactly it was that set you off, you know?

  33. Hahaha. Yeah. I get what you're saying.Y Let me just remind you that you are the one who said you were dropping the rule of thumb. :] And this might be why we have the rule of thumb. And until you completely cut me off, I will want to keep asking questions. (it's just they way I am. ) You are very funny. And you cover up well. Also, I just have to ask. This thought just popped into my mind so here goes, an you don't have to answer if you don't wish to. I would totally understand:

    Are you a homosexual?

  34. And thank you. All those comments made me happy :]

  35. Sorry it took me so long to comment back. I haven't been near a computer all day.

    I'm definitely not cutting you off yet. And I think that there is a reason for the rule of thumb but if I'm reading about religion this month, I feel like it would be hypocritical of me not to be open and honest.

    As for your question, I'm actually bisexual, which I feel is even more frowned upon by society because both heterosexuals AND homosexuals have a hard time believing that such a thing exists. They either treat you like you're a kid in a candy store who can't make up his mind or they act like you're really greedy or that you're just lying to yourself. I can tell you from personal experience that being bisexual doesn't guarantee you have a date on Friday night and it actually leads to you being turned down twice as often. LOL

    And before you ask, yes I believe that I was born this way. And, let's be honest, who would actually *choose* to be marginalized and hated by society anyway?

  36. I don't have time to answer you in more detail, but I do wish to explain that I did not ask that oh so personal question because I wanted to make sure speak was worth my time. With you last few comments, I just thought I should be clear that even though part of who you are is made known to me, I will not stop commenting. :] Also, this does explain why you said the subject was dear to your heart. At least now I have an idea of where you are coming from when you make certain comments. Again, also, if you would like you may ask me anything you wish (although I doubt there is much you wish to know about my faith). I just feel like it might be a little unfair to keep you answering all my questions when I give very little back. I'm sorry for this. But as you have already stated, this might just end up in a scream match. So maybe not. Either way, a sincere commenter,


  37. One of the reasons why I haven't been asking you any questions is because I grew up in a Christian household. I know quite a lot about the religion and the Bible and I find it just as interesting as I find any other religion. It's not that I don't "wish to know about your faith," it's that I'm more interested in learning about faiths that I don't know as much about.

    Also, I definitely didn't mean those last few comments as a slam to you. I just figured that that was a question you were likely to ask. :)

    I know that you would never stop following my blog because of who I am. First of all, where would you get your daily dose of crazy? :) Secondly, you know that I appreciate your comments, even the ones that I don't agree with. I'm one of those people who likes to talk to those who have very diverging ideas.

    If you would like to stop asking questions, that's fine by me. I'm an open book and am willing to answer anything that you're curious about but if you're not comfortable continuing then that's fine too. I don't want to put you in a place that would compromise what you believe. I also don't ever want to make you feel as if I'm attacking you.

    This Q & A has been fun and I look forward to your other comments in the future. :)

  38. You may think you know a lot about Christianity. But you and I were raised in two completely different households, my faith is surely different than what yours was when you were little. Like I said before, I will never want to stop asking questions. Tell me, what do you think about the passage of Jesus and the woman at the Well?

  39. That is true. I'm sure that we were raised very differently. I'm also not quite sure of what to ask. If I think of something, I'll ask it.

    I think that the story of the woman at the well is a parable about the spiritual nourishment that God provides to those who follow him. There are stories like this in other religions as well and the reason why Muslims pray five times a day is because prayer for them is a source of this type of nourishment. For those who follow the Bible, their nourishment is provided by prayer and by reading the scriptures. For other people, their nourishment comes from their own religious practices.

    This story is very much like the tale of the loaves and the fishes. There was not enough food for the crowd gathered but Christ multiplied the food so that everyone could eat. This is symbolic of the idea that in Christ there is enough love and nourishment for everyone.

    I understand the implications of the parable and I find it to be a beautiful story, but that does not mean that I find my nourishment from the same source that you find yours. I can appreciate just as much the similar tales in other texts but that does not mean that I find my nourishment from them either.

    Regardless of what you might think, I highly respect people of faith. It doesn't matter what that faith is; all that matters is that they live their lives according to what they believe. A lot of my beliefs do not come from religion, but that doesn't mean that I live my life without morals or values. It simply means that I derive those beliefs, morals, and values from a different source.

  40. What I meant about "you may think you know a lot about Christianity" was that you don't know everything about it and unlike you I'm a Christian with no doubts about my faith. So It's most measurably different than the type of faith you had in Christianity. Maybe you didn't have doubts either, but from what I've read you had, had doubts for a while.

  41. Ah, I see you already posted...let me just read what you wrote before you post a reply.

  42. I just went over that verse today. I wanted to know what you thought because you have a different viewpoint. And regardless of what you think, I cannot convert you. And I'm not trying.

    Moving on, I went over another verse today:

    Numbers 22, what do you think?

  43. Oh, I didn't think that you meant anything bad by it. I definitely don't know everything about anything, let alone a faith that I no longer follow. My faith as a child was strong, but as I grew older I just lost it. I didn't even feel bad about it, which probably sounds insane to you. Nor am I really looking for a different one either.

    I think that's one of the reasons why I have so much respect for people who are firm in their faith. Having once been devout (although young) I do remember what it was like to believe in something bigger than yourself with every fiber of your being. That people can hold onto their faith no matter what the world throws at them is honorable and should in no way be denigrated.

    I think I'm just one of those people who doesn't feel the need for religion. I'm fascinated by it, but mostly on a cultural level. That is not to say that I'm better than those who do have a strong faith. The argument could be made by some that I'm much worse than these people. I like to think that I'm just me, no better nor worse than anyone else.

    But I'm not alone either. There are millions of people who do not have strong religious beliefs (atheists, agnostics, humanists, etc). Obviously that number is far fewer than those who believe in a definite higher power, but that doesn't necessarily mean that one group is right and the other is wrong or vice versa.

  44. I don't think you're trying to convert me. I think that if you managed to you'd be okay with (not gonna happen) but I don't think you wake up in the morning going, "Hmm...what can I do today to get Gabe to believe in God?" I'm definitely not that high of a priority on your to-do list. :)

    I actually don't know what to think of that passage. I'd never read it before but reading it now it didn't raise any thoughts. What do you think it means?

    Also, can I just say how awesome the internet is? Searchable online Bible = a way easier way to locate a passage. I studied ancient Greek for a year and the book that I used in class had passages from both ancient Greek texts, as well as passages from the Bible in the original Greek. The only way I could get through some of them was by using a searchable Bible.

  45. I will not argue with you on any of those points. But your non-physical countenance (if that can even be a phrase) has lightened up. I'm glad to see you don't think I'm trying to make you believe the same. It is hard for me to understand that you don't feel bad. It actually hurts and I'm not sure why. Not "hurts" as in I'm offended, but "hurts" as in helpless. It's a curious feeling. Ugh, but you come up with many different versions. Look up the ESV and search the verse. It's a better translation. Anyway, I've had many thoughts on the verse and I don't think I understand it to its fullest extent.

    Even if I was getting up in the morning a think about those things, I would never tell you because it would just push you to think differently. But don't worry, I'm not...or am I?


  46. LOL.

    I know that as a Christian you are bound to try and save people. I'm not offended by this, just as I am not offended when the nuns that I work with say that they will pray that I feel better when I'm sick. It shows the deepness of your devotion and that you care about other people's souls, health, feelings, etc.

    The only people who offend me are the ones that are pushy, especially the ones that don't engage you in a conversation. I once had a woman shove a religious tract through my car window while I was waiting for my grandfather in a store parking lot. I was literally just sitting there with the window down and she shoved it at me without so much as a "hello".

    I don't care if people from other faiths talk to me about their religion. I enjoy listening to people even if I don't agree with them. It's something that I learned from my grandfather. I like to say that he's just as likely to talk to Hitler as he is to talk to Gandhi. He just likes to get to know people and that was instilled in me from a very young age. But if you're not willing to talk and if you're going to be intrusive and physically stick your hand through my car window, I'm going to tear up your little tract because you're being rude and not respecting my private space. I mean, seriously. It was my car window. That's just really creepy.

  47. I really need to check my spelling. I just start typing so fast, I miss just about every other sad.

  48. I didn't even notice, actually. Although it's probably because I'm exhausted.

    I'm trying to put together this presentation that I don't want to do and instead I keep getting drawn back to Blogger because it's so much more interesting than what I should be doing.

  49. Hehehe. That's funny. I probably would have torn it up too :] But your wrong about one thing, and yes I'm being a little legalistic...but we as Christians are not bond to save people. We are bond to tell you about God...obey His word...Love Him...and that's pretty much it. Never does God say we are bond to "save" people. We can't save people. It's not what we do.

    Nuns are so cute. Tiny and modest all the time...:]

  50. Ahaha. I'm sorry. I should probably go to bed anyway. Goodnight, Gabriel.

  51. Night, Nonners. I'm sorry if I used the wrong turn of phrase. I meant basically the same thing, it was just more of a cynical way of saying it. Although, I do know some people who call themselves Christians who use the word "save". We already established, however, that there are people who say they are one thing when really they are not, so it's really a moot point.

  52. Oooh, I just thought of a question for you!

    What validity, if any, do you believe science has? Or, to put it a better way, do you think that science and religion are incompatible with each other?

  53. Hahaha. I kept saying bond and not bound. You knew exactly what I meant too. That's so funny. I can't answer now because I'm only on my nook. But I will later today.

  54. Okay on with the that I'm not surrounded be little people :]

    Actually, I think that Christianity and science go hand-and-hand. From what I've experienced and seen they work ,more so, together than they do against each other. Get what I'm saying?

    I actually think that science is the proof of Gods existence.

    Does that answer your question?

  55. I get what you're saying. I'm always amazed when people say that science and religion (of any sort) are at odds with each other. I think that you can be a rational scientific person who knows that rain makes rainbows and that earthquakes happen because of plate tectonics and still believe in a higher power.

    That definitely answers my question. It just popped into my head and I was like, "Ooh, I bet she'll have a really interesting answer to it."

  56. Not interesting. Sorry :/

    But I will say that the "Scientific community" pretty much hates me. My Biology teacher once tried to tell me that 1) Jesus wasn't real, 2) he wasn't crucified by Pontius Pilate, 3) God does not exist, and 4) I failed a paper because it was on Darwin's theories not being incorrect, but skewed and over exaggerated.

    You do not fail a paper the detailed and researched! You just don't. Maybe a B I'll even take a C...but and F? No way. She is out of her mind.

  57. My grandmother once failed a paper because she stated that Lenin's role in the Soviet government was akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Her teacher was a Communist sympathizer so he gave her an "F". She went to the principal who told her that not only was it an "A" paper but that the teacher had no right to fail her. She got the "A" after all. :)

    Your teacher had no right to tell you those things even if she didn't agree with you. I wrote a paper on Dr. Zhivago for my AP English class and my teacher vehemently disagreed with my thesis but she still gave me an "A" because it was well-written and because I backed my thesis up well.

    A lot of people, even non-religious people, believe that Darwin, while right on some things, was wrong on others. I personally believe in evolution but that doesn't mean that I think that Darwin is the end-all-be-all of evolutionary research.

    Also, I wouldn't say that the whole scientific community hates you. That's a lot of people, many of whom do believe in a god of some sort. Your teacher was completely out of line. Some people just cannot separate their personal beliefs from curriculum and that goes for the religious and the non-religious, as well as the political and the apolitical, alike.

    There's a professor at my college who's like that. I'm very liberal (as if you couldn't tell) but she's even worse than I am. One of my friends who is a conservative Republican took one of her classes and the following exchange occurred:

    Assignment: Write a letter to your Congressman asking for the troops to be brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    My Friend: What if I don't believe that the troops should be brought back?

    Professor: Then you fail the assignment.

    I was floored by this. Just know that you're not alone. Things like that happen to people all the time. It's definitely not fair, but I think it's at least comforting to think that there are others out there who, regardless of their beliefs, are trying to stand up for them.

  58. I believe in micro evolution, not macro...or is it? I'm pretty sure it's micro.

    That's just crazy.

  59. Micro-evolution is changes within a species or population, whereas macro-evolution is changes across various species and populations...I think.

    It's all really confusing, but I think of it this way:

    I see proof that there are changes within populations. My DNA is more similar to that of someone of a different race than it is to someone within the same race. This is because over time genes within a population that continues to intermarry and, therefore, interbreed, changes in order to avoid genetic mutations that could lead to sterility and/or physical deformities. It's called genetic drift and it occurs within populations, not without.

    Other than that, I have no definitive proof that other forms of evolution have occurred. This doesn't mean that it doesn't happen, but I'm not a scientist who studies this sort of thing so I haven't seen it. I tend not to think about it too much because it isn't all that important within my own life or beliefs. I have nothing against evolutionary theory, especially since I believe in evolution; I just don't care much.

  60. Thanks for doing all that research for me.