Santa or Religion: Which is the Lie?

A few weeks ago I read a post by my friend and fellow dad blogger Joeprah, dealing with “Santa Guilt,” and asking the question: Why do we lie to our kids about Santa?

He brings up a few good points. In essence, we’re telling our kids that a big, fat man in a red suit watches them 24/7 to determine their naughtiness/niceness. And yes, it’s slightly weird that he lives in the Arctic Circle and surrounds himself with midgets. But moving on. If boys and girls are good, they will receive a visit from the fat man when he stuffs himself down a chimney and drops off presents, all during a whirlwind tour in which he somehow manages to defy the space/time continuum and deliver presents to each and every house in the world all in one night. But the bad kids don’t get anything, or worse, a lump of coal.

Apparently Santa didn’t get the memo about reducing his carbon footprint.

And even if our kids buy this lie, eventually they’ll figure it out. And as Joeprah pointed out, sometimes they get pissed. And rightfully so I guess. They want to know why they get punished when they lie, but their parents can lie to them for years and then tell them it was all for their own good.

I get it, it’s contradictory. And I hate the superficial consumerism and materialistic nature of Christmas as much as the next guy. I understand that paying $19.99 just to plop your kid down on a fat stranger’s lap and take a picture is a little warped.

That’s why I’m vowing — here and now in front of all 13 of my loyal readers — not to lie to my son anymore. That’s right, no more Santa. Instead, I need to tell my son the truth about what Christmas is all about. After all, the truth will set you free. So without further ado, this is the “truth” I will bestow upon my son instead of that garbage Santa nonsense.

I will tell Will that Christmas is about God and God’s son Jesus. He needs to know that an omnipotent being no one has ever seen or heard, lives up in the sky on the clouds with angels. And this God is always watching us, and judging us. He’s keeping tabs on all of us because if we’re “good” we’ll go to heaven where we can frolic with the angels among the white, puffy clouds. But if we’re “bad” (and let’s face it, “bad” can be anything from masturbating to being a homosexual) we will burn for all eternity in a fiery pit called hell, watched over by a red-skinned horned beast.

And it’s totally true that God was bored one day and just decided to create heaven and earth. And he did it all in six days, taking time to nap on the seventh. But one of his best creations was man, a man named Adam to be specific. And even though Genesis says God created Adam and Eve at the same time, Chapter 2 says it was just Adam. And then, in the first known game of “Operation,” God decided to take one of Adam’s ribs out and create a woman. Eve. But the two of them fucked it up for everyone because they listened to a talking snake and ate an apple they weren’t supposed to. No seriously, this is the truth.

But let’s get back to Christmas. You see, a woman named Mary was dating this guy named Joseph. And Joseph couldn’t have been too happy because Mary was a virgin. Yet despite never having sex with Joseph, she somehow became pregnant. And, since the proposition that Mary was a cheating whore is apparently out of the question, it became glaringly obvious that this was Immaculate Conception (or Annunciation, I can never keep them straight). Yup, that’s right. God raped impregnated an innocent woman with his seed, aka Jesus. This is the truth, I’m not making this up.

And we celebrate Christmas because that’s Jesus’ birthday (even though it’s widely speculated he was actually born April 17, 6 BC). Jesus was born in a manger and three strange men came to give him gold, frankincense and myrrh. Just what every baby needs right?

And this man went on to do great things. He could walk on water. I’m talking right on the surface without going under. And when he was done walking on the water — POOF — he turned it into wine. And my son needs to know the truth, that the only way to get to heaven is to go to church every Sunday and eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood. No, really. That’s the truth and those are the rules.

And speaking of the rules, don’t worry about remembering them all because they’re all listed in a book called the bible. And that book is TOTALLY truthful. It actually tells you exactly how to live your life as a morally upright citizen. For instance, it says a man shall not lay with another man or else it is considered an abomination and you will immediately be put to death. So take that you homos out there! But it’s not just the gays. Oh no no no. The bible actually calls for parents of disobedient and rebellious children to have their kids stoned to death by all the older men in town. How’s that for truth, mofo?!

For you girls out there, you should also know the bible says it’s OK for parents to sell their daughters into slavery. Furthermore, anyone working on the Sabbath should be put to death and any man with long hair is shameful. This, despite…well…

And even when they tried to kill Jesus, he wasn’t having it. Oh sure they thought they killed him, but three days later he ascended into Heaven and then reappeared to his followers. Totally true, he came back from the dead!

So there you have it. Screw that Santa crap. It is downright dangerous to lie to your kids about the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent, supernatural being like Santa. We need to tell kids the truth. We need to tell children that an all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent, supernatural being called God knocked up a virgin on Earth and put his seed in her belly. And that seed turned into a magical little baby called Jesus who did so many great things, that even to this day millions of people feel the need to symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood. We need to tell our kids that historical inaccuracies and impossibilities like the parting of seas, talking burning bushes and gigantic boats that carried pairs of the world’s 10 million species during a huge flood are just minor stumbling blocks that can be overcome by saying “Hey, it’s in the bible.”

Frankly, I’d rather make up good-natured stories about a jolly fat man dispensing joy around the world for one night a year than spin yarns about Creationism, severed ribs, people rising from the dead and nuking a whole city just because a few gay people lived there.

But in the end, I don’t see how perpetuating the Santa myth is any worse than spreading the absolute fairytale that is organized religion. At least with Santa there are presents and cookies involved. That beats eating human flesh blood and having to fork over 10 percent of my salary to God any day.

So Merry Christmas. And here’s to the “the truth.”




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57 thoughts on “Santa or Religion: Which is the Lie?

  1. Wow! We clearly have a difference of opinion. I won’t go into why I believe you are wrong on both issues. Why? I’ve seen many, many blog owners take comments they don’t like and use them as the basis of yet another post to attack the person making the comments. Clearly demonstrating little tolerance for differing viewpoints, not to mention a lack of class. Perhaps you are better than that.

    Suffice it to say that you have your opinions, and like everyone else, I have mine. But isn’t that one of the great things about blogging in America? We can say whatever we want on our blogs because they’re our blogs and we STILL have freedom of speech. You exercised that right, and rightfully so. And I do the same on mine.

    As I say in the comments section of my own blog, “I might not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

    Merry Christmas

  2. Agreed, we are both a long way from the trinitarian church youth group aren’t we…..

  3. You. Are. Awesome.

    Rome actually moved the celebration of Jesus’ birthday (they can do that ’cause God said so) to coincide with a pagan holiday and thus it became Christmas. Go figure.

  4. Yeah, we agree to disagree on this. My feelings on religion and santa are quite different than yours and almost opposite which I find ironic. Either way, I will still drink a beer with you. Cheers and Merry Christmas.

  5. Matty: Differences of opinions are fine, as is tolerance. Speaking of which, my wife disagrees with me 100% on this topic. She’s Catholic and we constantly battle to find middle ground so I know tolerance all too well. But to claim I “lack class” is a reach. This is my opinion, one which I feel strongly about. Why do I lack class simply because I expressed it on my personal blog? Sounds like you think I lack class simply because I don’t agree with you. I think you’re better than that.

    Buck: Thought you’d like this. And yes, a long way from Trinitarian.

    Jenn: Thanks!

    Old Guy: If I waited until after christmas it wouldn’t be very timely now would it?

    Kimberly: I certainly do have issues. But this is not one of them.

    Joeprah: I hope you know this wasn’t a personal attack on you. I referenced your post because it was the only relevant one on the topic and it was well-written. But that’s where the connection ended. When I re-read it I realized you might take it as a personal attack, which is absolutely wasn’t. Just a dissenting opinion. And if the Pats and Baltimore meet in the wildcard round of the playoffs in Foxboro, I’ll see about getting you a ticket if you’re game!

  6. Hmm, food for thought for sure. I now have most of my office reading your blog.

    I imagine the classlessness that was being referred to was the rape comment. That one was a bit strong. Anyways, I know that I read your blog becasue I never know what it is going to say, but I know it will say something. I am surrounded by people who tip-toe their way through life, so reading the thoughts of someone who walks firmly and tall is refreshing.

    Merry Christmas, and please tell MJ and will I said Merry Christmas as well!

  7. Jules: Agreed, the rape comment was strong. But it was over the top to prove a point. As was the majority of this post. My main intention was to point out the hypocrisy of worrying about lying to your kid about Santa, but being perfectly OK with perpetuating religious stories which have more far-reaching consequences because they represent entire belief systems. And I know I come on a little strong, but what can I say? Fat guys can’t tip-toe! 😉

    Goznot: Thanks. Much appreciated!

  8. I don’t think Matty was saying YOU lack class…maybe just you are on thin ice. BTW the parting of the Red Sea…a fact not a myth and it still happpens to this day. The “miraculas” timing, on the other had may be a stretch.

    I won’t wish you a Merry Chistmas because you don’t believe in any of it and I don’t want to offend you.

  9. Different View: And how, may I ask, am I on “thin ice?” Technically I could say the same thing about all the believers out there, who spend the holiday season trying to stuff the religious aspects of Christmas down the throats of the rest of the population with nativity scenes and live mangers.

    But the term “Merry Christmas” doesn’t offend me? I may not be religious but you don’t have to be religious to catch the holiday spirit. I love winter, snow, Christmas trees, being around family, giving presents, etc. Christmas is what each individual makes of it, and I routinely wish people “Merry Christmas.”

  10. Um. Buckle Up. I may have got carried away here….

    Wow. Hmmm…. Theme for my holiday blog, theme for my holiday blog… I’ve got it! God was a rapist.

    Way to dial up the commercial prospects generated by this blog. Idiot. And speaking as someone who would identify himself as an atheist if pushed to answer honestly (I’m a lapsed agnostic), you were kind of a dick.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with your principles. Religion has done more to obscure evil in modern times alone (we’re not talking the crusades here) than every PR firm on the planet combined. And I strongly believe that bad shit happens when you all you tell children about wrong or right ends in because God said so. But that said it is possible to have a religious upbringing without absorbing some of the hate baggage. It’s not even that tough, especially when you have a walking bullshit detector as a father (even if he does believe in ghosts you hypocritical dumbass).

    But when God’s not around to tell you what’s right and wrong then the responsibility falls to you. And either you’re not 100 percent sure about a few things out there or you’ve just asserted your own snap judgments in place of the imaginary man’s (a possibility we shouldn’t rule out in your case). The point being, there are lots people looking to religion for help finding answers- help we all should acknowledge we need- and lots of those people still think about the answers they get. Lots of people know the meaning of the word allegory. Lots of people can still acknowledge the context around their religious teachings. Lots of people are simultaneously rational and religious people. I think I now know what those people feel like when they see someone screaming god hates fags.

    All I’m saying is show some fucking respect.

    Oh and your last post made you sound like some kind of hippie pagan wiccan. “I love winter, snow, Christmas trees, being around family, mother earth…”

    No offense to the hippie pagan wiccans out there.

    Happy Solstice!

  11. “God is a rapist” should’ve been the name of this blog.

    First of all, I don’t believe in ghosts. Yet. Although I may kill you just to see if your residual energy sticks around to be even more of a pain in the ass to the living.

    Of course there are rational religious people out there. Of course those people use the bible as it should be used, which is to view it as a collection of allegorical stories which should be referenced in parts, but not taken verbatim. And so it goes without question that my ire is not directed at those people, but instead at those who believe God and the bible is infallible and every single thing written therein should be considered fact.

    But even having said that, shouldn’t the constraints of your religion bind you to either accept it all or reject it totally? What good is it if you’ve got one foot in and one foot out? Say what you want about the crazy bible thumpers who believe every word of the bible is true, but at least they’re consistent. Consistently nutso, but I respect their commitment to the bit.

    And technically, God does hate fags. It’s in the bible, remember?

    I am not a hippie pagan. I just happen to like cold weather, snow and Christmas trees. Although I liked that movie “The Craft” but I think I can chalk that up to my irrational attraction to Fairuza Balk.

    Blessed Be, asshole.

  12. I didn’t say you were on thin ice I think Matty was saying that you were approching thin ice in his view.

    Unless you (or the Bible nutsos) have been reading ancient Aramaic lately, we, as twenty-first century English speaking people shouldn’t either accept it (the Bible) all or reject it totally. We have been reading interpreatations for centuries. However, I do agree that it should be all or nothing with most aspects of a particular belief system. The “Chinese Menu” approch of one from column A and one from column B smacks of the worst kind of hypocricy

  13. I have always taken the stance that you should treat religion and politics the same way. Stick to the parts you believe in, and not pay attention to the ones you don’t. I don’t go for the all or nothing approach. Rick is the same way, and it’s working for us. We baptized Charlie as a Catholic, but whatever religion he decides (IF he decides) we’ll be fine with (except for Pagan/Wiccans like you). 😉

  14. HAHA Different View. Looks like we posted at the same time. Agree to disagree. I like the “chinese menu” compairison. Looks like my husband’s Chinese background is infiltrating my believe system again. Damn Chinese.

  15. Liz: Tell Rick to keep his fortune cookie religion to himself. And if possible, could you tell him to put in a few good words with the Chinese govt regarding climate change? If temperatures get any warmer all we’re going to smell all the time is Kung Pao Chicken in the air!

    By the way, my ReCaptcha words are “continued ching!”

  16. Nice job, Bear. You write better than you draft fantasy football players. I’m with you. Even though that may cause you to change your position.

  17. Buddah tells me to screw over the “round eyes” for all of the tiny penis jokes. Sorry, nothing I can do big guy.

  18. Rick: Oh well, worth a shot. And if makes you feel any better, TheBear is a round-eye and suffers from TPS (Tiny Penis Syndrome). Hence his bitchiness in that last post.

    By the way, Charlie is one cute kid. Hopefully he and Will get a chance to play together at some point.

  19. And now for something completely different (this might take some time folks)…

    I’ll have you know my dick is so big I lost a leg in ‘Nam and no one’s noticed yet.

  20. How many times have I told you, that joke just isn’t funny. Usually you’re good about letting the bad ones go, but you’ve been pushing that Big Dick joke for years and it just isn’t sticking. Especially when compared to:

    “My dick is so big it only plays arenas,” and “My dick is so big there’s still snow on it in the springtime” and “My dick is so big movie theaters now serve popcorn sizes in small, medium, large and My Dick!”

  21. I still say that’s funny. But at least it’s original.
    What about political big dick jokes:
    My dick is so big it got awarded the Noble Peace Prize just for being My Dick.
    My dick is too big to fail.
    My dick is so big Sarah Palin can see it from her backyard. Actually not anymore. Restraining order.
    My dick is so big polling suggests it could be elected as a third party candidate.
    What I’m saying is, my dick is more clever than your dick.

  22. My dick is so big it had a dream. And that dream was of an even bigger dick.
    My dick is so big it rescued four people during Hurricane Katrina.

    However, my dick will never be as big as Hillary Clinton’s!

  23. My dick is a bigger dick than Joe Lieberman.
    Ich bin mein dick.
    My dick is so big republicans are constantly saying the science isn’t settled on how big it actually is.
    My dick is so big it’s going to be held at Gitmo.

  24. findingme: You never know what you’re gonna get here!

    Different View: Drew Carey’s book “Dirty Jokes & Beer” was one of my favorites. As was his show. Not to mention the actress who played Kate and her form-fitting sweaters. Those were very, very real.

  25. I am not a Christian but I am a nit picker…to whit:

    The Immaculate Conception refers to MARY being conceived without sin (but with intercourse) the “conception” of Jesus is called the Annunciation followed by the Virgin Birth.

    Floating around Facebook is a piece from The Onion about “Creation” surprising the Sumarians who already had a thriving civilization before God dropped in.

  26. Picky, Picky: We’re trading big dick jokes here, it’s hardly an expert theological discussion. But you’re right, I did substitute Immaculate Conception for Annunciation and for that I apologize. But my point still stands, in that whatever term you want to put on it, it still consists of becoming pregnant with God’s child despite a lack of intercourse. Which, I believe, is silly.

    But I did laugh at the Sumarian comment and I can only imagine how indignant they must’ve been when the Creator “created” all the things they already had.

  27. Sorry Finding Me, things were getting sort of serious and I find that nothing lightens the mood like a big dick joke contest. I like To Go’s idea. Even though I had a decent one about Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, and My Dick.

    How about:

    My dick is so big that right now it’s in my living room with an angel on top of it and presents underneath it. And by presents I mean my balls. Merry Christmas!

    My dick is so big dick is so big it can go for eight nights straight. Shalom!

    My dick has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. It’s a Festivus Miracle!

  28. I know “we” were trading big dick jokes…I am also To Go! (An old Kip Addotta line as in A Joke To Go.)

  29. I may have missed it but I guess I should comment as the only Christian willing to stick his neck out.

    First, yes very offensive, but certainly not stuff I haven’t heard before, pretty standard anti-christian/religion view points. We could go point by point but how boring would that be!

    So I actually have a question for you and The Bear, and no its not about your dicks. I am a pretty skeptical person, and follow those circles quite closely. So I feel like I understand in general where you’re coming from and why (though your anger about the whole thing suggests there might be something deeper). Evil was mentioned, I still don’t understand how an atheist can describe good or evil. I’m not being sarcastic, I am really wondering how do you come up with what is right and wrong? I have read many articles and listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts with atheist hosts and have not heard that really explained well.

  30. HAAAAA!!!! Best Christmas post ever!! I, for one, tell no tales of Santa or Jesus. Although, I’d choose the Santa tales over the Jesus tales that made me feel bad as a Catholic kid any day. Santa is a feel-good fantasy. Jesus? Not so much. The kid will believe what he wants, what he’s picked up along the way, until he asks the very pointed questions. The day he asks me if there really is a Santa is the day I say, “Of course not.” I assure you he won’t be pissed. He’ll probably play me, like I played my mother, and keep going with the “Santa lists” as long as possible so that he has a shot at getting what he wants. We, as a family, like Christmas for the tree, the lights, the decorations, the family get-togethers, and the kid likes the presents.

    If he wants to believe in god, that’s up to him. If he wants to pick a religion when he grows up, whatever. I may not like it, especially if he picks some cooky religion, but I won’t force my non-beliefs on him or anyone else. He’s had teachers that talk about god (which should probably bug me but doesn’t), and he mentions it here and there but never wants to know more. He certainly realizes we don’t go to church, that we have no claimed religion, and he seems perfectly fine with all of it. I’d rather teach him to believe in himself and let the rest fall where it falls.

    Oh, and my dick is way bigger than Hillary’s.

    Merry, merry, ho, ho, ho…

  31. Mike: I re-read my post and I don’t see a reference to “evil” anywhere. But I’ll answer your question anyways…

    First of all, I don’t think I’m an atheist. I say I don’t “think” I’m an atheist because frankly I’m not sure what exactly being an atheist entails. I don’t have a name for my views. I do not believe in God and I’m unsure about some cosmic/Karmic spirit out there that guides the universe. So whatever label that earns me, I guess you can tag it on me.

    But to your question about evil, why can’t an atheist describe evil? Why can’t an atheist (or anyone for that matter) determine good and bad? We all determine for ourselves what is good and evil, right and wrong. We determine those things mostly by our own beliefs, upbringing and background. There’s no big mystery there, that’s just how the world works.

    And finally, to your point about this being offensive. I find it hilarious that Christians have an inherent expectation that their viewpoints be accepted, especially around Christmas. Yet when someone dares question those beliefs, he/she is automatically offensive. It’s quite a nice hypocritical double standard that amuses me to no end.

  32. How in the living hell did this turn into a ‘whose dick is bigger’ issue! You men always go there don’t you? I’m exhausted…

    Interesting post Daddy Files (but yours ALWAYS are). Whatever you think, the last thing I do is want to judge anyone as I live in a glass house. I know you are a good person and a deep thinker and I find you very interesting. I live in the Bible Belt so I feel the pressure all the time. One of the first questions people ask around here when they meet you is ‘where do you go to church’. I’ve always found that interesting…

    Merry Christmas and HAPPY F-ING NEW YEAR!

  33. Mike –

    What does right or wrong have to do with God?

    While there are always grey areas, right or wrong (while subjective sometimes) is a pretty basic thing. Do you need to know what God thinks before you decide what is right or wrong? Sometimes right or wrong is just determined by your own moral compass and by the rules of society in general. I can’t believe you can’t see how an aethiest could determine right and wrong! Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean you are unable to determine right and wrong.

    I have respect for organized religion, and I believe it fills a need in the world among people. Do I buy all the tenants of religion? No, some of it I find a bit far out. But while I don’t believe a deer can talk, I did enjoy watching Bambi! So you can be a functioning member of society, and tell the difference between good and evil, even if you don’t believe in God. Evil doesn’t have to have a name, or wear a hat, or horns, or be determined by a higher power. Evil is just evil. And like pornography, I know it when I see it.

    Merry Christmas!

  34. Mike–

    My boss is a self-proclaimed Athiest but she says some good/evil things just make sense…things like “don’t sleep with someone elses husband”; “don’t take things that belong to someone else”; “don’t blame others for things you did”. You don’t have to belive in God to be a good (or moral) person.

  35. Mike, I have a counter question for you. Do you get your morality only from your 2000 year old holy text? If so, it would explain your myopic view of morality.

    I’m a militant antitheist and for those that say that there needs to be respect for religion, I ask why? Should we respect the Muslims who remover their daughter’s clitoris during female circumcision? Should I respect those Christians that want theology taught in a science classroom? Creationism would be dismissed in a hot second if it went through the rigors of the scientific method, but that isn’t what Christians want. They want creationism taught as a legitimate theory (and further indoctrinate a belief system). This of course doesn’t surprise me. I only have to look at Martin Luther who wrote in Colloquia Mensa: “For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but – more frequently than not – struggles against the Divine Word…” stating that contempt for the divine springs from reason. Of course it does. A reasonable adult would laugh at another adult who firmly believed that the Tooth Fairy, Santa, or the Easter Bunny were real. This is why I laugh (and die a little inside) when people believe in an invisible man in the sky. Faith hurts people. Is it moral for the Church of Christian Scientists to allow their children to die while praying over them instead of getting the medical attention that would have saved them?

    The Bible is riddled with inconsistencies, but somehow it’s the unerring word of God. That seems fairly unreasonable and thus unworthy of consideration. Hell, it can’t even be decided if Jesus was a peaceful guy or not. To wit,

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34

    Or how about when he advocated the killing of disobedient children:

    “For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” (Matthew 15:4)

    That guy sounds like a dick to me. I don’t find that very moralistic at all. Plus he thought that all of the barbaric laws of Leviticus (some of which Aaron has stated) were valid:

    “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)

    “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail” Luke 16:17

    So, you’ll have to excuse me while I defer the stoning of individuals who get their hair cut and disobedient children to you. My atheist morals don’t allow that.

    Oh, one other aside on the morality of God, the body count of people killed in the Bible:
    God 2,270,650 (roughly)
    Satan 10 (but keep in mind most of this is when God told Satan to kill Job’s family to test him [What a nice guy God is!])

  36. Look, I don’t care who or what you believe in. As long as you aren’t stoning people, committing crimes, or hurting children – go knock yourselves out. Believe in what you want, and enjoy it. Whatever gets you through the day.

    But I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season. I don’t feel the need to denigrate what you believe in so I can feel better about what I do or don’t believe in. I’ll just muddle through, and keep trying to figure it all out for myself.

    Enjoy the weekend, the holiday, and your families. Excuse me now – I have to go sacrifice a goat.

  37. It has nothing to do with making myself feel better about what I believe in. It has everything to do with fighting for what is right and just. Fine, lets set aside the fact that faith allows the oppression of women in Darfur, is used as an impetus for violence in the Middle East (or until recently England and Ireland), or shields pederasts. What about government officials that are selling off national parks to oil companies because our officials believe the Rapture is soon upon us (or at least are using it as an excuse). Religious beliefs are insidious because those that believe in their religion always believe they are on the side of righteousness whether there cause is just or not.

  38. Daddy Files: Sorry for the confusion, but TheBear mentioned the evil. Oh and I don’t know how its hypocritical to be offended by harsh words about your belief system. You were basically calling it idiotic, and by association, me at the same time, that’s reason to be offended right?

    Thanks for the answer. I’m sorry, but I have to go here, its just for scale. I think that Hitler was actually doing what he believed was “right”. He had a lot of conviction that he was doing something “good”. But I’m pretty sure that everyone here would think that he was evil, or at least did some awful things. So. it can’t just be what you think is right as an individual. So morality comes from outside of the person. Where does it come from?

    The Brother in Law: 🙂 Did you copy that off a website? Bible 101 is context. You can take a sentence from anyone on the face of the earth and make them sound bad, that’s politics. You should read through the New Testament, Jesus was challenging the religious leaders of his time. He was actually a pretty loving and forgiving person, in his actions as well as words.

    I don’t want to be misinterpreted here, I am not defending all Christians actions, no good (or thinking) Christian would. We know that we are still people subject to the same crap as everyone else. If Martin Luther had said that as a complete statement, he was an idiot, However, again I point out that context is important. He also referred to reason as a gift from God. So again, please study what you quote before you state one liners as fact. I also believe in evolution, my God is bigger than a process.

  39. Mike, I have read the New Testament. In fact I have read the Bible in its entirety several times in its different versions. I have also had an individual who reads ancient Greek translate specific passages of ‘original’ text so the vernacular translations would not corrupt meanings.

    Is the account in Matthew of Jesus recommending the emasculation of men as an easier way to gain entrance to heaven sound like a loving idea? How about God’s law in Deuteronomy that if a man is caught raping a woman that he must pay silver to her father and then marry her? Who would ever think that’s a good idea?

    As I stated before, Jesus believed the laws of the Talmud were valid (and thus he would support the aforementioned). To your point of context, Jesus was criticizing the Jewish people for NOT following the laws to kill disobedient children. This is stated clearly in both Matthew and Mark’s account (Mark 7 9:13). That is not a loving person in any way. I would have to engage in some pretty serious and intellectually dishonest mental gymnastics to find any other meaning than the obvious because the context is pretty clear. It amazes me that Christians can just gloss over passages like the ones I have mentioned (not to mention the inconsistencies in the canonical gospels: the repenting of the thief in one Gospel, but not another, where Jesus goes after his birth, his inconsistent lineage back to the House of David, etc, etc). It makes me have to ask, have you read the Bible in its entirety?

    To the point of Martin Luther, if he’s an idiot and his ideas are not valid, that would pretty much invalidate the entire Protestant Reformation as well as the Protestant belief system as a whole (and for a man who is considered divinely inspired he sure was one hell of an anti-Semite, but I digress). I don’t think it necessary to quote the entire Colloquia Mensa. The main point is the Martin Luther knew that in the bright light of reason the supernatural and superstitions (religion) cannot hold up, because it is absurd on its face. To wit, a funny definition of Christianity I read:

    Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree…Yup, makes perfect sense.

  40. Mike, I think your question is a great one, provided it’s an honest one. There’s two ways of answering it, one tears down, and the other builds up. First there’s the issue of where one gets morality WITH god. It’s not the bible. Not really. We’ve come so far from the common practices found in bible stories that we have to cherry pick many of our lessons (and that’s just the watered down wussie King James we’ve got today- the original texts have got some real scorched earth shit in them). The process of contextualizing the bible (or bible 101 as you call it) is nothing more than a rational/cultural process. The god reliant system I find the most compelling puts forth that in order to build a moral system you must first grant that there is such a thing as Good and what is the concept of a pure goodness but the concept of god. This is where liberal deists hook a lot of atheists back into the fold. God is love and all that. But really, that’s just a linguistics game. You’re either redefining God (and changing what it is to believe in god- most decided not an imaginary man in the sky or creator) or you’re redefining love (mid-argument, a real no-no). We have a word for love. It’s love. We have a word for good. It’s good. I don’t need God to create these things. They’re here. I have a concept of them independent of any god. Bottom line, if you’re not taking all your judgments from the Big Man himself you’re doing your own thinking on these things and ultimately using the same methods of reasoning I am.

    I think the problem most people have with atheistic morality is not where we get right and wrong. We could talk about Rawls (a Christian) and his veil of ignorance, or Kant (an atheist) and his categorical imperative, or a gut instinct moral compass, but all it would prove is that the faithful and atheist alike consider the most of the same factors when making moral decisions. What most people ultimately have a problem with is what makes an atheist choose right over wrong, good over evil. Why not be completely self-interested if there are no other-worldly systems of punishment and reward. If there is no higher power than you why doesn’t the atheist lay claim to all things he likes as moral and all things he dislikes as immoral (something the religious have been doing with their cherry picking process as the brother in law pointed out though ironically somewhat selectively)? The problem with that question is simple: not all atheists are alike. I think most of us (as I definitely fall into this camp) are what many people define as Humanists. Though there’s some wacky stuff with all groups (especially religions some might say) most of the stuff out there about humanism describes a conscientious atheist fairly well. As a humanist you can accept the social side of religion, exchanging gifts, holding gatherings, celebrating your relationships with your friends and family. In place of a faith or spiritualism, you instead acknowledge your place in human society. I am part of something larger. I am part of a family, a group of friends, a culture, a race and the betterment of these things if mutually accepted betters us all in ways systematic selfishness can’t come close to.

    If you really want a to know more than a thumbnail of this stuff check out “Good without God” by Greg Epstein. I hear it’s quite good.

    Goodness I hope you haven’t spent too much time on Christmas Eve reading this pretentious crap. Don’t get me wrong I believe it. I’m pretentious.

    But Christ. It’s Christmas. Spend some time with your families for god’s sake!

    Merry Christmas.

  41. TheBear: Thank you for the helpful answer. I’m still not quite sure where the concept of good is coming from. But I think you have hit on one big contention with the atheistic belief system by many not only Christians. I think somebody from any religion would say they have something pulling them back to some kind of center, while the atheist’s center is self selected. Though I have met many nice atheists, I don’t understand what keeps them doing good when its not in their best interest.

    The Brother In Law: We have something in common! We have both read through the Bible several times and know people who can read Greek.

    Again context, and despite what TheBear says I don’t think its cultural process to view a text in its entirety (no offense Bear) and not one sentence.

    Jesus also said he who is with out sin throw the first stone, saving the life a woman who had an affair and by the law should have been put to death (John 8:3-11). I’m sure after reading through the bible so many times, you have realized how sarcastic Jesus was (an admirable attribute I think), his main point was about the hypocrisy of the leaders.

    Even if Jesus was advocating for the death of children(which he isn’t it was more in reference to adult children screwing their parents), so what? What can you give me from your militant atheism to tell me why that’s a bad thing? I still haven’t heard from you on what you form your morality on.

    Stalin and Pol Pot pretty freaken evil people, didn’t need a religion to drive them on. People in general are self centered bastards, and given power that usually leads to many deaths, no matter their beliefs. I think one of your main premises that religion is the scourge of man is flawed, man is the scourge of man.

  42. I agree Mike, man is the scourge of man. Because I believe the idea of God and religion in general is a creation of man. Sure there may be some real-world historical events referenced to build up believability, but I think the bible and all the “lessons” within are made up. You know, like the moon landing.

    But seriously, when you ask what is good and what is bad, it is definitely subjective. Murder is widely considered wrong, but what if an intruder breaks into your home and you shoot him in self defense? And while man is inherently flawed and our laws with it, I choose to put faith in man. I put faith in things that are tangible. Will that lead to disappointment. Yes, but no more so than buying into an old book filled with half-truths and inconsistencies.

    In short, we need to employ common sense when dealing with good/evil, right/wrong. Not all of it is black and white and there is a constant struggle to identify it appropriately. But that’s life. And I’d rather take this route than live by the strict definition of a book and a faith that attempts to be all-encompassing, but isn’t.

  43. Looks like I missed quite the discussion. Being a naturalist pagan myself, the only thing that is scarier than the bullshit in the bible is people that believe the bullshit in the bible. The things carried out in the name of religious belief (not just Christianity) are sickening. I just adore it when our righteous politicians get on their soap boxes about Muslim extremists yet Limbaugh is ‘the most influential person in the gop.

    Oh, and Bear….kiss my entire ass. I am neither wiccan nor a hippie.

  44. JEE, no offense intended. Aaron is something of a self-loathing naturalist in my opinion and tends to get heated when you label him with that stuff. Ergo, it’s fun to do it. Still, I offer my apologies for being reductive of your beliefs.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’d do it again. I think it’s healthy to poke a little fun at the belief systems of others. And before you pick that up and run with it Aaron, there’s a big difference between poking fun and stabbing malice.

    As for any other pagans, wiccans, hippies, unitarian universalists, or anyone else (in whatever combination) I may have offended- for what it’s worth I think you’re all crazy to some degree. For the same reasons I think all religious people are. But at least the pagans, wiccans, and hippies tend to be somewhat more interesting and/or thoughtful than most, and for that I’d be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate them a little more. Especially at parties. What can I say? I like drinking homemade wine and smoking, um, clove cigarettes from time to time. Sorry unitarian universalists, but there’s nothing interesting or thoughtful about indecision. Make up your fucking minds already. Jesus.

  45. I’m pretty sure my self image can take a few knocks from a grown ass man that got into a ‘my dick is bigger’ contest on a blog. Especially one called Daddy Files 😉

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