Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Atheism as a religion

Mike Dobbins has a book out called Atheism as a Religion. A Christian site shared an excerpt online and I can't help but take issues with some of the conclusions.
One sacred symbol to atheists is the 'A' that symbolizes atheism. Three 'A' symbols are prominent in atheism.
Sacred? How does that even make sense? Sacred is defined as 'connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration', 'religious rather than secular' or '(of writing or text) embodying the laws or doctrines of a religion'. Atheists don't have a god. We are secular. Atheism doesn't have any individual laws, nor is it a religion. So the term 'sacred' doesn't make sense for an atheist symbol. Furthermore, we won't threaten someone for burning an atheistic book or destroying an atheist 'A' symbol. Sure, we might be pissed if a believer destroys our property, but there won't be any religious fervor.
One 'A' symbol was created in 2007 by Atheist Alliance International and has a circle around it...A second popular 'A' symbol was created by Richard Dawkins and is a red letter 'A' on a right leaning slant....The third sacred 'A' symbol was created by the American Atheists and is placed in the middle of an atomic circle. 
The second is my personal preference. It is just more visually appealing to me. It also looks pretty nice on the back of my car.
As you can tell, not only are these symbols for atheism, there is atheist religious symbolism within them that only atheists or those who study atheism know.
Religious symbolism? No. But every well thought out logo has symbolism and  meaning greater than simply looking good. Is FedEx a religion because if has extra details to it? What about VAIO, Northwest, Amazon, The Bronx Zoo, the Hartford Whalers, or various others? Are they religions as well?
The Atomic A, as it is known, is allowed on gravestones of U.S. military personnel who are atheists. Atheism is so sacred to some atheists that they want the atheist 'A' to represent them to the world after their death.
Come again? It is common practice for the gravestones of military personnel to be marked with a symbol of their religion. While atheism isn't a religion, wouldn't it make sense to mark an atheist's grave with the 'A' instead of just leaving it blank (if that's an option)? And if it is optional, perhaps they hope to help dispel the myth that there are no atheists is fox holes.
Many atheists demonstrated just how sacred the symbol 'A' is to them in the Christmas of 2013. Since my hometown city of Chicago allows a Hanukkah Menorah and Nativity scene to display on government property during the holiday season, the atheists asked to display their own religious symbol so the government wouldn't give the appearance to be endorsing one religion or the other. The monument the Freedom From Religion Foundation chose was a giant Richard Dawkins letter 'A' which stood 8 feet tall and lit up red at night for all to see. Countless atheists showed respect for the 'A' by making a pilgrimage to the site where the 'A' was displayed and having their picture taken with the 'A' which I'm sure will be kept as a cherished keep sake for many.
I would say that 'pilgrimage'  would be a bit of an exaggeration. And so what if people took pictures with it? That doesn't suggest that it is in any way sacred to them. Maybe it was a picture for the novelty. Maybe they liked that they were being represented in the public square. What about a picture suggests holding it in a religious manner? People take pictures with sports mascots as well. Does this mean that sports mascots are religious figures as well?
They also advocated for their atheist faith by erecting a sign that read, "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Yes, because that is so much worse than telling every non-Christian that they are going to burn in Hell forever and ever and that they deserve nothing less...
The FFRF must go one further to state what they dislike about other faiths. I just can't imagine a Christian nativity scene ever placing a sign next to the nativity stating something cruel and hateful towards other religious faiths.
They don't need to post a sign. Just say the word atheist or Muslim in parts of the country (mainly the south) and brace yourself for the shower of hate.
For some reason, atheists at FFRF can still sleep at night doing this.
Maybe he should ask the believers I just mentioned...
This speaks very poorly of the character of leaders and members of the group. The positive message within atheism must be very weak if they must resort to such hateful, negative tactics.
Christianity should be the last group complaining about attacks, but I do agree that the message could have been better. While I agree with what it says can be true, I would have truncated it before the  'hearts and minds' bit and inserted something different.
An additional religious symbol is the atheist Darwin fish. The fish was traditionally a symbol of Christianity for early Christians to recognize each other and since many of Jesus's [SIC] disciples were fishermen who he would transform into 'fishers of men.'
A symbol that was a Pagan fertility symbol before it was a Christian symbol no less. They just love robbing the Pagans it seems...
The atheists have usurped the symbol to declare their belief that Darwin's theory of evolution proves God doesn't exist. 
Actually, we use it to show we accept the fact that is the theory of evolution. Evolution only proves that a literal interpretation of creation in Genesis is false. After-all, there are believers that also agree that evolution happened.
While it may have started as a parody on the Christian fish symbol, it is now an easy way for atheists to recognize each other, mission to non-atheists, and show their gratitude and respect to the person whose scientific work they believe is the foundation for much of their atheist faith, Charles Darwin.
Help us recognize other atheists? Yes. Mission to non-atheists? How? I don't feel that a person with a 'Jesus fish' on their car is trying to convert me. I simply feel like they are saying  "Hey look! I'm a Christian!" Show gratitude to Darwin? Maybe. Foundation of atheist faith? Not at all! As I said there are plenty of believers that don't contest that evolution happened. Also, there is no faith in atheism. Actually, most atheists are scientifically minded, which is quite the opposite of following faith.
Many more, less popular symbols exist including the empty set symbol of mathematics, the invisible pink unicorn, and the flying spaghetti monster. As the atheist religion continues to fortify itself certain symbols will likely tend to dominate as they work for uniformity and cohesion amongst all atheists.
Uh, no. As he's said before, most of them are parodies. There are different ones that each atheist may prefer. Since atheism isn't a  religion, it is not trying to coerce uniformity with something as trivial as symbols.
Atheists are also installing their own religious monuments across the United States. In July of 2013 the American Atheists erected a monument at a Florida courthouse that had allowed the displaying of the Ten Commandments...The group has said they will erect 50 more monuments in other locations where the Ten Commandments sit on government land...the atheists are very explicit about where their priorities are: building 50 more religious monuments to atheism.
Way to miss the point. American Atheists isn't building them as sacred monuments to atheism. They are building them because the courts ruled that the Ten Commandments displays can stay if they allow other monuments as well. So they installed the atheist bench monument to balance the conversation.

I would hope that the rest of the book is better, but the title and this sample doesn't leave me with high hopes...

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Gloomy with God

A reader wonders if some people are just naturally gloomy. What does Billy Graham think?
QUESTION: I work with a woman who just never seems to be happy. I’ve tried to be a friend to her, and she doesn’t seem to have any more problems than the rest of us, but she’s never cheerful or optimistic. Are some people just born unhappy? — Mrs. V.L.
In matters like this, details matter. Maybe they just aren't a people person, maybe they do have
something bringing them down but don't feel comfortable sharing this info. I'm certainly more of an introvert than an extrovert, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy.
ANSWER: We all have different personalities, and some people do seem to have a natural bent toward unhappiness (just as some have a natural bent toward happiness and optimism). Sometimes the reasons are obvious (an unhappy childhood, for example) but often they aren’t.
True, but sometimes the problem isn't that the person is unhappy but that they are simply perceived as such. Maybe the problem isn't with VL's coworker, but VL's perception of them. In a work environment where they may just be trying to be private and professional, this could be a very real possibility. Is VL overly perky? I know that would annoy me quickly.
I’m thankful, however, that you’ve made an effort to be this woman’s friend, because I suspect she may not have many friends. (After all, who wants to be around a gloomy, negative person all the time?)
Or maybe she just doesn't want to be VL's friend. Perhaps they want their relationship to be no more than professional. Maybe VL did something to turn her coworker off. Maybe the coworker really is just a sourpuss, but there's no need to so swiftly jump to conclusions when so many different possibilities are available.
As part of this, ask God to help you be a patient and good listener – and also a wise advisor and encourager. You may find, for example, that she has a very negative view of herself and feels she’s worthless, and you can help her realize it isn’t true. The Bible says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, NKJV).
It would be sad if she really does have a feeling of such low self worth. I wonder where that could come from...
The most important thing you can do, however, is to help her see herself the way God sees her.
Oh that's right! The Christian teaching that all are born dirty, vile, worthless and broken. That all are deserving of eternal torment simply for being born. If they believe that, I could see where such a low picture of self worth could come from.
God loves her just as she is
That's not true though. God's love is conditional, just like salvation. Don't worship Jesus? Piss off!
He loves her so much that His Son gave His life so she could become part of His family forever. The Bible says, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world” (1 John 4:9).
He loves us enough to commit murder? Sorry, that sounds more like a sadistic stalker than a glowing endorsement.
Then pray for her, not only that she’ll become a more cheerful person, but also that she’ll turn her life over to Christ. And if you’ve never made Him the center of your life, do so today.
Yeah... Because someone that is depressed must be something other than a Christian.  Talk about presumptuous.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Movie review: God's not dead

After Kevin Sorbo's recent rash of ugly and clueless remarks, and all I've been hearing about the upcoming Left Behind movie I felt it finally was time I took a look at God's Not Dead. I'll break it down below, but if the rating is all you want, the best way I can describe it is as a steaming pile... There was so much wrong in this propaganda film, it's not funny.

When you get down to it, this movie is no more than a way to promote terrible stereotypes and perpetrate the insane persecution complex that many Christians have developed.

God's Not Dead opens with Josh being warned about his philosophy class because of the crucifix he is wearing. So we start with the absurdity that being openly Christian is dangerous. Sorry, but in the USA that is the least dangerous religious view to hold. It is a far bigger danger to be openly atheist as recent studies have shown.

Dr. Radisson (the professor Josh was warned about) opens his class by telling the students to write 'God is dead' on a piece of paper. If they do so, he will allow them to skip the first three weeks of classes. No professor worth their salt would just skip material like that. Due to this, and other issues we will get into, I feel that anyone in the education community should feel insulted by Sorbo's portrayal of his character. Furthermore, this sounds absolutely nothing like the experiences had by any actual philosophy class experiences I could reference.

Then Josh is told that he will have to debate Radisson since he refused to write on the paper, and that if he fails to win will fail the class. This is again quite absurd. This is not how any class anywhere works! It is also odd that Josh is somehow the the only Christian in the class taking a stand. How is it that only 1.25% of this class is Christian in a country that is 78% Christian? This (and Sorbo's character) is but a playing up of the absurd myth that higher education is inherently atheistic and hostile to belief.

One constant theme in this film are the comically exaggerated stereotypes. Radisson is the picture of the angry atheist stereotype. I am an atheist and I don't walk around fuming all the time. I would have to say that I don't know a single atheist that is anything like Radisson. What more, Radisson is also irrational and immoral. His constant harassment makes him look like a total asshole. What the makers of this film failed to realize is that this is not at all representative of the vast majority of atheists, nor is it realistic or believable. Hell, as a supposed philosophy professor he doesn't even what the famous phrase 'God is dead' means! Nietzsche wasn't even talking about God's existence, when he said those well known words. You would think that a philosophy professor would, you know... know philosophy!

Another atheist in the movie doesn't believe in love and leaves his girlfriend when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This is unrealistic as well. If my wife were diagnosed as such, I would stay beside her to the end. Then what about the stat that believers get divorced more often than atheists? If we are better at marriage, chances are we are better at relationships in general.

The movie also cranks off the 'Muslims are oppressive, abusive fanatics' stereotype as well as the 'overly strict unsympathetic Asian parent' stereotype. What we are left with are inaccurate caricatures for characters and one giant straw-man in Radisson.
We get it, he's supposed to represent the myth that atheists are
all angry assholes.

Josh somehow wins the worst debate in the history of the world (I'll come back to the debate later) when Radisson admits that he hates God because his mom died when he was young. This means a few things. For starters, the evil atheist Josh was doing battle with isn't even an atheist. It also promotes the false claims that atheists just hate God, and that people are only atheist because something terrible happened to them. Neither point is true of me, or any other atheist that I know.

In the end Radisson is hit by a car and lies dying. He then turns to God on what is effectively his deathbed to perpetuate the claim that 'there are no atheists in foxholes'... that our lack of belief is so weak that we will all just turn back to faith in the end or when things get rough.

But wait... How can they simultaneously claim that tough times will turn people from God, yet that a dire situation will turn anyone to faith. These are two wholly contradictory constructs. So Sorbo and company... which is it?

The credits also feature a list of courts cases that are supposed to back up this idea of Christian persecution that permeates from this movie. But they really don't. There was one case where a five year old who was picked up by the scruff of his neck for praying over his lunch and then yelled at by a teacher and the principle. But looking at the facts, he was actually ten and was simply given detention for fighting at lunch. That's quite a difference there! Another student was disrupting class with a homophobic rant. When the professor told him to stop he somehow tried to make the claim that his religious rights were being violated. Then there are the philosophy students who are supposed to write a paper making the case for God's existence. The students that get bad marks tend to instantly claim religious discrimination. There is another, and much more likely possibility however. And it is actually the answer the professor gives when asked. They got a poor grade because their argument was poor.

Now onto the the Josh vs Radisson debate...

•Josh says that atheists can't prove there is no God... Well no shit Sherlock! It is logically impossible to completely prove that anything doesn't exist. If I were to claim that there is a magic Swedish meatball that can tap-dance and sing the complete works of Frank Sinatra in perfect French, it is also impossible to prove for 100% certain that it doesn't exist. So if Josh claims that not being able to disprove God proves that he does exist, then my magic meatball does as well. This is a shifting of the burden of proof of course. It is up to the believer to prove that there is a God, and not the other way around.

•Josh claims that things can't pop into existence out of nothing. When it is pointed out that the same would apply to God, Josh simply states that God is exempt because he is eternal. This is no more than special pleading. You can't just say that something is exempt from a rule without first showing that is it in-fact exempt. If Josh just wants to claim God is eternal, anyone could just counter that the energy the universe in comprised of is eternal and we are right back to square one. He may like to point out that everyday objects don't just pop into existence, but that's not we're talking about here. The question is if matter/energy can simply pop into existence out of seemingly nothing. And through the study of quantum mechanics and vacuum fluctuations we have found that they actually can!

Congratulations, that's a terrible argument...
•Josh claims that Genesis got the creation of the universe right all along, while science got it wrong. Okay, science doesn't always get the right answer right away, but as the evidence builds we get better and better answers. That's why the Big Bang theory is still the best explanation of the origin of the universe. After years and years of study, all the evidence is in it's favor. Also, the Bible didn't get it right. It actually got it very wrong. One thing some believers like to do is take what science has discovered and shoehorn it into vague passages and claim "See, see! That's what it was talking about all along!" It's a rather dishonest enterprise really.

•Josh quotes Gavin Jenson (who he claims is a philosopher, scientist and mathematician) who says that Hawking's argument of a self explanatory universe is circular. The problem is that Jenson was not what Josh claims. Rather he was a BYU graduate who majored in graphic design. His work has not been published or peer reviewed. Josh also doesn't seem to realize that claiming that it is logically impossible for something to be self explanatory would also disprove his claim that the Christian God is.

• Josh then says that evolution doesn't account for the origin of life, and that Darwin said that nature doesn't work in large jumps, yet life appeared suddenly anyway. The complaint that evolution doesn't explain the origin of life is an absurd one. The origin of life isn't even a part of what evolution is about. Evolution is about the diversity of, and change within species. The origin of life is a question for abiogenesis, not evolution. Josh's complaint would be akin to complaining that they didn't get a pizza for lunch when they ordered a cheeseburger instead. It is also quite odd that he would say that life conflicts with evolution moving slowly when life has been evolving for about 3.6 billion years. Additionally, the universe is 13.8 billion years old. So life has been evolving for about 26% of the universe's existence. That is far from a sudden jump as Josh claims. Actually, these are the types of time periods evolution expects.

•Josh says that God allows evil to allow us to have free will. There are many problems here. If God is supposed to be all-love, then him allowing evil would be evil and unloving. Also, theists like to say that God has a plan for us all. If he has a plan for us and he is omniscient, then he makes that plan knowing exactly what every one of our choices will be. Hence there isn't really any free will, because your life has been pre-scripted. The claimed omnicience of God also throws a wrench into the whole claim that he is testing us as well. If he is all-knowing then there is no need to test us because he would already know what we would decide to do under every situation possible. This would additionally mean that he is needlessly allowing unnecessary evil that he could prevent, making him sadistic.

Except for when he is committing mass genocide,
punishing people for a problem he created,
killing people to win a bet, condoning slavery,
needlessly condemning people to endless torture,
the fact that he actually created evil... Do I need
to keep going?
•Josh claims that everything is permissible without God. He argues that there is no basis for moral standards without God. Again, there are many issues. First, Biblical morality isn't an objective morality as Josh claims. Remember, God says not to kill, but also Commands and commits genocide while calling it good. So what we are left with subjective morality. But this doesn't mean that anything goes. There are many paths to morality, including naturally. Moral standards we form ourselves can be wonderful and still restrict certain behaviors. We arrived at the standards we hold be agreeing on what helps and harms us, what is fair, etc. Some would claim that a weakness of subjective morality is that it can change, but this is actually a strength. We can edit it as needed and fix mistakes. We once thought slavery was okay, but later realized the mistake and fixed it.
Meanwhile a reliance on God's word as the static standard would mean that slavery would still be okay, rape victims would have to marry their rapist, disobedient children would be allowed to be stoned to death, etc would still be allowed as well. So there is no problem with morality either.

•Josh claims that science has proven God even though it hasn't.

•Finally Josh asks Radisson why he hates God. Radisson then replies that it's because God took his mom's life from him when he was so young. Josh then says that you can't hate what you don't believe in, which is true. But that doesn't explain how he supposedly wins the debate. The charge was to prove that God exists, and Josh didn't do anything of the sort. At best he established that Radisson actually does believe in God. But that kills the whole point of this movie being atheist vs Christian. Despite the myth they are playing off of that atheists are just angry with God, Radisson is not an atheist. The whole debate was actually angry Christian vs Christian.

Radisson is also a terrible terrible philosopher as well if he couldn't battle off Josh's arguments or see that last trap coming from a mile away. He also did a terrible job at the debate. I'm not an expert, but I could have easily destroyed Josh's arguments with my eyes closed.

So in conclusion, God's Not Dead was a terrible movie. It was amazingly inaccurate and dishonest. It is obvious that they did absolutely zero research into the subject matter and instead decided to create a propaganda piece. In fact, it was so out there and full of errors, I wager that a better title would have been Crazy and Biased Email Forwards From Your Uncle: the Movie.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

College and Christians

Is a Christian making a mistake going to college? Surprisingly, someone actually asked that..
DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’m headed for college shortly, and I can’t help but worry about the pressures I’ll face as a Christian. It’s a large state university, and from what my friends tell me it’s not a very easy place to be a Christian. Am I making a mistake going there? — P.T.
Sounds like PT's friends have fallen for the myth that colleges are evil atheist factories that actively work to strip people of their faith. While it is true that college graduates are statistically more likely to disbelieve than those that didn't go to college, that has more to do with the gaining of knowledge
than anything else. The more one knows, especially about the sciences, the more likely they are to find themselves to be a non-believer. That's not saying that colleges have an atheistic bias, just that the facts do. And if the facts are against you, you're going to have a bad time.
DEAR P.T.: No, you aren’t making a mistake, not if you’ve prayed about your decision and sensed God was leading you there. The Bible says, “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).
Seriously? That's it?  Talk about a worthless answer. If they ask god and their faith remains fine, Billy will claim that God led PT there. But if PT loses his faith, Billy will say that God didn't lead him there and it's all his fault. When you get to decide what happened after the fact, you always get to be 'right', but there's no way to confirm it. It's all just a fancy dance to deceive people into thinking you actually have some sort of insight.
After all, God doesn’t want us to be isolated from people who don’t believe the way we do, or even ignore him or hate him. If we did that, we’d never make any impact for Christ or win others to him. Remember Jesus’ words: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/billy-graham/article1223421.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/billy-graham/article1223421.html#storylink=cpy
Jesus wants to protect us from the evil one? So he wants to protect us from God then? He did create evil after all (Isaiah 45:7), he killed far more than anyone else in the Bible (Satan only has about 10), and he's ultimately to blame for the totality of human suffering both in this life and the supposed next one.

Remember, he knowingly gave Adam and Eve a command he knew they couldn't even understand. He knew that leaving the tree there would lead to trouble but left it there anyway. Aside from creating evil, he created the Devil. He also created Hell. He could vanquish the Devil at any moment but simply doesn't for whatever reason. He curses every person in all history to Hell when he never had to. He creates an arbitrary way to escape Hell but leaves no evidence of it. He knows there is not enough evidence for most of the world and still does nothing. He could simply forgive without the need for blackmail, but instead just demands worship... Sorry, but God sounds pretty sick and evil. Plus he created every part of his system that is purposely designed to try and send everyone to torture just for being born unless the accept a barbaric human sacrifice as something good.
See yourself, therefore, as someone whom God is sending to your campus — not to be negative or obnoxious, but as a winsome and wise witness for Christ. The Bible calls us to be “blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine … like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16).
Just please don't claim oppression if you (wrongly) give a Christian theological answer on a science test and get it marked as incorrect. After all, it's not persecution if you answer that the Earth is 6,000 years old since it's just a very incorrect answer.
Make your commitment to live for Christ firm and unshakable, not just for college but for the rest of your life. Then ask God to lead you to a Christian organization on your campus where you’ll find fellowship and encouragement from other believers.
Yes, go to college and ignore anything that conflicts with your faith. Heaven forbid you go to college and actually learn something...

-Brain Hulk

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Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/billy-graham/article1223421.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/billy-graham/article1223421.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/billy-graham/article1223421.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Jesus is the answer

We've all heard a believer declare it, and have also seen it written on bumper stickers... 'Jesus is the answer'. But I must ask. What was the question?

Some questions wouldn't make sense to have Jesus as the answer. What is the square root of 25? What is your favorite color? How many Ford Mustangs where built in 1965? So, we'll stick to only 'who' questions.

Who killed Kennedy? Jesus. So much for thou shalt not kill.

Who framed Rodger Rabbit? Jesus.  Bearing false witness too I see.

Who let the dogs out? Jesus. Come on man, that's just rude and irresponsible.

Who won the 1993 academy award for best actor? Jesus... I didn't even know he could act (he sure looks a lot like Al Pacino).

Who led the Nazi party during WWII? Jesus again?

Who likes dressing in drag while watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show more than anyone else? Jesus.

Who was voted most likely to succeed from barren desert high school? Jesus! (Mary was so proud)

Jesus framed Rodger Rabbit!
Who was voted least most likely to succeed from barren desert high school? Jesus. (Mary was so embarrassed)

Who did Link defeat to free the kingdom of Hyrule from the grip of evil darkness? Jesus.

Who is the true prophet of Islam? Jesus.

Yes, I know this is all a bit silly. But so is the blanket statement that 'Jesus is the answer'.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ice bucket murder

The hate group with a friendly name is back with a ridiculous statement. According to the American Family Association, the ALS ice bucket challenge videos we've all been seeing actually promote murder. Yeah... You can't make up this level of crazy.

So you must be asking how videos of people dumping buckets of ice water over their head could possibly be a promotion for murder, and the murder of babies no less. Their problem lies with the use of stem cell research to try and find a cure. The twisted logic being used by the AFA is that the ice bucket challenge is causing people to donate and promote the ALS association. They are in turn using those donations to help fund research for a cure. One of those fields of research is stem cell research. And therein lies their problem. They think that stem cell research equals murder.

They ignore the fact that stem cells are by far one of the most exciting  and promising fields in medical research. They have returned sight to the blind. They helped cure one patients leukemia, they've been used to grow replacement organs. In short, they've been used to save and change lives. Yet to the AFA this is somehow a horrible field of study.

This is because they get hung up on the use of embryonic stem cells. They believe in the strange belief that an embryo is already a full human and that harvesting it for stem cells is murder. Almost every single opponent of stem cell research I've ever met turns out to be oblivious to the fact that embryonic stem cells are not the only kinds of stem cells.

Embryonic stem cells are the easiest stem cells to harvest, but they aren't the only kind. Stem cells can also come from adults. The leukemia patient that I mentioned received his stem cells from the bone marrow of the donor. It is more difficult, but adult cells have been coxed into becoming stem cells in the lab.

Stem cells can also come from the umbilical cord blood. New parents can now decide to donate their umbilical blood to stem cell research. There are also women that would like to donate their unused eggs to this potentially life-saving research. If they are finished having kids and those eggs will just end up being flushed down the toilet each month, how is that a problem for even the most rabid pro-lifer? An egg can be literally flushed down the drain, or it could be fertilized in a lab and be harvested for stem cells in 4-5 days time.

This illustrates the problem with the AFA's argument even if you were to grant their absurd notion that stem cell research ends a life. Almost all embryonic stem cells used in research come from eggs from in vitro fertilization centers. When IVF is done a collection of the mother's eggs are mixed with sperm and allowed to fertilize. After 4-5 days the eggs are now a collection of about 100 cells that is smaller that the dot on this 'i'. Some of these are implanted in the mother, and the rest are stored in a freezer. After the IVF results in birth, and the family has decided that they are finished having kids, there is a choice to make. Their choices may be as follows:

•Keep paying for them to remain frozen indefinitely
•Allow them to be defrosted/destroyed
•Donate them for adoption
•Donate them for research

Here we have two options where they will go to waste, one that is rarely used, and one that could potentially save who knows how many lives. Even if one where to donate they to other infertile families there would still be a massive surplus that will be going to waste if stem cell research is opposed. I feel that the choice to donate to research should be clear!

But any way you slice it, the AFA's argument fails. Stem cell research does not promote murder. These cells come from tiny 4-5 day old collections of cells that are almost always destined to become medical waste, umbilical cord blood, or for adult sources. None of them kill a child. But the AFA will continue the promotion of their out there views. I can only hope the their defiance and criticism of the incredibly viral ALS ice bucket challenge will only serve to expose them for the vile group they really are.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, August 25, 2014

God and family

A reader asks Billy Graham about family problems... How big of a mess can Billy make of his answer this time?
Dear Dr. Graham: Someone in our family is always having a crisis, and all of their problems end up in my lap. I get so tired trying to dealing with them. They mostly ignore my advice anyway. Sometimes I just wish I could leave. Why is our family so messed up? Mrs. McL.
I'm not going to pretend to know the details of exactly what kind of drama McL is dealing will, so there's little point giving advice. But I can say that simply giving up is very rarely the answer.
Dear Mrs. McL.: I've never seen a family that didn't have problems, and I doubt if I ever will. Since Cain killed his brother, Abel, families have been beset with conflicts and problems (Genesis 4:1-16). 
Starting with an unsubstantiated claim I see...
However, that's no excuse for being unconcerned about our families. God gave them to us, and it isn't his will for them to be constantly in turmoil.
Actually, I'm pretty sure I have my family through genetic lineage, and that I found my wife through us meeting online. But sure, claim that God is the one to do it and conveniently not show any evidence to back that up...

And how is it his will that families not be in turmoil when Jesus is said to have said this...
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple.
-Luke 14:26
 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.
-Matthew 10:34-26
How does anything about those two passages from the supposedly perfect Jesus sound like God doesn't want any turmoil within families? It actually sounds like he's commanding it!
I know your family's problems have become a huge burden for you, but how much worse would they be if they didn't have you? Even if they don't always heed your advice, you may be helping them in ways you'll never realize. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
If the peacemakers are blessed, does that mean that Jesus is cursed for ordering the purposeful creation of family discord? Obviously helping out is a great thing to do, but try to be consistent Billy!
The most important thing you can do is urge each family member who comes to you to turn to Christ and give their lives to him. They need Christ's forgiveness and his help to live as they should and make wise decisions about the future. If you've never given your own life to Christ, open your heart and life to him today.
What if religion is part of the problem? What if they are already Christians (very likely)? Suddenly this advice becomes even more worthless than it was from the beginning. One of these days it would be nice to see Billy actually try instead of giving his default answer to everything of 'turn to God'...

-Brain Hulk

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