Why do Christians have hobbies?

If Christians really believe they’re going to heaven when they die and that this life is nothing compared to eternal life in heaven, then why would they do anything other than focus 100% on doing what Jesus would want? Wouldn’t that be trying to save people so they could go to heaven too? Literally nothing else in life should matter. Nothing else should hold any importance.

I understand practical things to further this goal like having a job to support yourself and your family and take care of life’s true needs. One needs food and shelter, safety and security, etc. But why would they have any kind of hobbies that aren’t focused on God? Why would they watch sports or movies, listen to secular music, play video games, etc? Every moment not spent on furthering the the cause of leading people to Jesus is wasted.

I’m reminded of the end of the movie Schindler’s List, where Schindler is in tears because he could have saved more people.

This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people. [removing Nazi pin from lapel] This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it. At least one. He would have given me one. One more. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.

Literally nothing else should matter. If it turns out that Christianity is true, then I picture Christians lamenting every misused moment, in tears over the souls they may have saved, while they played Call of Duty for 10 hours a week for a year instead. If you’re not a gamer that may sound like a lot, but I assure you, it isn’t. An hour or two a day, maybe 3 or 4 on the weekend… it adds up fast. Multiplied out it adds up to 520 hours a year! That’s more than 21 days. Three weeks worth of time that could have been spent focusing on leading people to Jesus.

If I believed I would be given one billion dollars if I lived a certain way for one year, and focused 100% on some certain thing, you can bet I could do that. Of course there are certain caveats, like a reasonable assurance of safety, and that I wouldn’t be required to do anything immoral, etc. But the point is that with the expectation of reward I could, and would, act a certain way or not act a certain way.

Now what if, in addition to this, the thing on which I had to focus was something I wholeheartedly -100% believed in? What if I believed it was the absolute best thing I could possibly be doing? In my case it could be LGBT rights, or advocating for science, or (if I were qualified) doing research to cure cancer. I could have a huge positive impact on the world, and receive a huge reward at the end.

Am I being unfair in comparing living a certain way for one year vs a lifetime? Perhaps. But consider eternal reward in exchange for a mere 80 or 90… even 100 years of doing what you consider the best possible thing to do. If anything, I think my comparison is generous. One year for one billion dollars, vs one lifetime for eternity. Last I checked, eternity is more than one billion lifetimes. Eternal life is the priceless reward Christians believe they will get.

So what’s going on? I can’t really say. I’m not going to do what some Christians do, which is claim to know what others really do or don’t believe. It’s very annoying when Christians claim that atheists really do secretly believe, but we’re just denying God because we “want to sin”. I’m not going to be so presumptuous, but it sure is an interesting question.

So why do Christians have hobbies?

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William Lane Craig’s blather about Ryan Bell

So I was thinking about what William Lane Craig (I know, I know) had to say about Ryan Bell and the his “year without God”. Spoiler alert: Ryan Bell now identifies as an atheist and we’re quite happy to have him. Shortly after Bell originally announced his experiment about a year ago, Craig had this drivel:

Oh, I think it is disastrous spiritually. But I wonder how he is going to live? A couple weeks ago we did a podcast on exploring the real consequences of an atheistic worldview and that, on atheism, things like civility, politeness, moral values, treating others honorable, marital fidelity are all illusions of human consciousness fogged onto us by the evolutionary process and social conditioning. I wonder what is Bell going to do? Is he going to also during this year quit working for peace and justice? Is he going to now no longer be concerned about the treatment of women – those issues that got him into trouble with his church? Just what does he think the consequences of atheism really are? Which ones is he going to try on? If he really comes to accept the view that atheism leads to the kind of moral nihilism that our other friend did, Bell is going to really have a disastrous year.

But let’s unpack this.

Oh, I think it is disastrous spiritually.

Oh of course! Honest and open inquiry is just no good at all. I’m confused though. We keep hearing about how obvious it is that a god exists, and that Christianity is obviously true. So why should this sort of thing be a problem? Why are the concepts of god and Christianity so frail as to fall apart given simple and honest questioning?

A couple weeks ago we did a podcast on exploring the real consequences of an atheistic worldview and that, on atheism, things like civility, politeness, moral values, treating others honorable, marital fidelity are all illusions of human consciousness fogged onto us by the evolutionary process and social conditioning.

I’m constantly amazed that apologists and their kind seem so intent on telling atheists what we should believe. Not only is it insulting, it’s just plain wrong, and it makes him look incredibly ignorant.

I wonder what is Bell going to do? Is he going to also during this year quit working for peace and justice? Is he going to now no longer be concerned about the treatment of women – those issues that got him into trouble with his church?

Now here’s where the mega-eye-roll starts, and this is sort of my main point. Among former believers who are now atheists, I know of no one who fits what Craig is saying. I know of no one who decided to care less about social justice after deconverting. Most former believers I’ve talked to care far more about those issues now (myself included). Realizing that we’re on our own, and have a responsibility for each other, and that there’s no sky daddy watching out for us, is a big realization.

Many atheists actually have a far better sense of social justice that includes, oh you know, LGBT rights and equality.

And is he actually serious about the treatment of women? That seems like a very poor choice for an example, given what the Bible has to say about treatment of women. I think we’ll stick with our non-biblical treatment of women as equal human beings, not property. I’d go into it but wow would this be a long article. But let’s see… here’s a short version and a long version.

Just what does he think the consequences of atheism really are? Which ones is he going to try on? If he really comes to accept the view that atheism leads to the kind of moral nihilism that our other friend did, Bell is going to really have a disastrous year.

And we come full circle, back to the appeal to consequence. This is such a ridiculous and fallacious argument. Even if it were true that atheism leads to moral nihilism and utter despair and kicking puppies, that doesn’t mean a god exists. Why Craig constantly insists on this argument is just baffling. It’s literally logic 101.

Now, a couple things. Yes, I realize that there are atheists who are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad people. I don’t personally know any, but yes, they exist. There are people who think that atheism means they can do whatever they want and that nothing matters. Again though, that doesn’t mean a god exists. Those people are wrong, and if they harm others, we can correctly take action against them.

I also realize my tone toward Craig may be a little aggressive in this article, but wilful ignorance just really bothers me. I know some other atheists will disagree with me here, but William Lane Craig is a very intelligent man. I know it’s popular to talk about what a blithering idiot he is, but it’s simply not true. He’s very intelligent and accomplished, but that makes it all the more frustrating that he uses such obviously wrong arguments, and that he continues to use them after being told why they are wrong, based on facts and/or logic.

All in all, I think Ryan Bell had a pretty good year. I saw no disaster.

“Erotic Liberty vs Religious Liberty”

“Erotic liberty vs religious liberty” is the new buzzphrase for bigots who want to attack LGBT people and deny equal rights to others, all based on religious beliefs.

The implication of “erotic liberty” is that those damn dirty gay people just want to get off at the expense of the “religious liberty” of devout Christians trying to stand up for Jesus. Christians who, bafflingly, seem intent on fighting tooth and nail to deny equal rights to a group of people over something that doesn’t even effect them. That’s called bigotry.

It’s hard to conceive of a more ignorant and bigoted phrase. It should hardly need to be said, but the fight for LGBT equality is not about eroticism. It’s about marriage. It’s about equal rights and equal treatment and protections under the law. It’s about all kinds of things, but eroticism isn’t really one of them. That’s what opponents of equal rights don’t understand. That’s what they refuse to understand.

But if they insist on the term “erotic liberty”, then the fact is that LGBT people want the same “erotic liberty” as everyone else. That’s where this new buzzphrase really fails. It doesn’t even say anything new. It’s still Christians trying to deny LGBT people the same rights that everyone else has. So we’re back to square one, and that square is equality. If they want to deny equal rights to a group of people, that’s still called bigotry.

The phrase appears to have originated with Albert Mohler, who is no stranger to saying ridiculous things. I’ve been told Mohler is one of the “brightest mind[s] in evangelical Christianity”, and that “leading secularists would have to recognize Dr. Mohler has one of the brightest minds in our country”. Oh boy, I don’t think so. From everything I have read from him in regards to LGBT people, contraception, atheists, and even yoga (among plenty of other issues) that he thinks are a problem for Christians, his arguments are painfully bad. I’m no expert. I don’t have a doctorate in anything. I’m a very amateur philosopher, and I found it comically simple to pick his arguments apart on just about any issue.

People like Mohler want to force LGBT people back into the closet. They want to turn back the clock to when LGBT people were treated like freaks and weirdos and second-class citizens. They want LGBT people to think of themselves as broken and sinful. Nevermind the depression. Nevermind the suicide. Nevermind the bullying when people think LGBT people are sick. Nevermind the cognitive dissonance of LGBT people trying to reconcile their natural orientation with what they’re told they should be. They don’t care about any of that. I know Christians don’t like this label, but too bad. Yet again, that’s called bigotry.

The upside to all of this is that the tide is against those who would use such rhetoric to push their bigoted views. Love is winning over hate. More and more people are coming to realize that everyone deserves equal rights. Marriage equality is advancing state by state. It’s not fast enough, but it’s happening.

But the really good news is that, despite all their stamping of their feet and hysterical shrieks of persecution, we don’t have to care what religious people think of all this. The separation of church and state, clearly defined in the US Constitution, says that we don’t make laws based on any religion. Unfortunately not everyone gets this, but that’s too bad for them. As with other civil rights movements, we shall overcome.

The war on Christmas

The “War on Christmas” rhetoric ramp up every year, and this is a banner year.  From Sarah Palin’s newest bit of drivel to the American Family Association pathetically counting the number of times “Christmas” is mentioned in store circulars, the hysterics are reaching epic proportions.  So how about this “War on Christmas”?  Well there may be a few problems with that.

It never ceases to amaze me how Christians will kick and scream when their special privilege is challenged, or we try to be more inclusive.  That’s really what “Happy Holidays” is about.  HOLIDAYS.  As in more than one.  There are many holidays this time of year, not just yours.

And that’s another thing.  Hey Christians, it’s not yours.  Almost all of the symbols and traditions are stolen from Pagans, and then in Christian tradition, claimed as their own all along.  Well, no.  You guys stole all the stuff from Pagans, who are willing to share by the way, but of course Christians will have none of it.  They’re going to kick and scream and throw tantrums over their stolen holiday.

A holiday they’re not even supposed to celebrate.  It’s in the Bible.  Jeremiah 10:3-4 says, “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”  Deuteronomy 18:9 says, “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.”  Considering almost all of the symbols and traditions are Pagan, and the Bible specifically says to not decorate a tree in your house, Christians trying to claim Christmas as their own is really getting problematic.

So what IS Christian about Christmas?  Why the baby Jesus of course.  Except for one thing: if Jesus existed, he wasn’t born in December.  Almost no one thinks he was.  Again, reading the Bible, most scholars come up with somewhere between March and October.  Nobody knows for sure, but it wasn’t in December.

But Christians wrongly and selfishly claim it as their own.  They take any opportunity to yell and scream, because they just LOVE to be offended and act persecuted over nothing, and will seek out opportunities to play the victim.  Sorry, we’re not buying it.  Now shut up and enjoy the stolen holiday.