The sky is not falling

fourhorsemen

(note: I originally wrote this in the fall of 2008)

Well, I just got back from seeing “Religulous”–which I thoroughly enjoyed–and it caused me to think of a few things I haven’t given much thought to for awhile, but which I think are pretty timely.

There is a certain issue that has always bothered me a lot, even when I was at my most devout as a Christian. And here it is: it has always deeply disturbed me whenever I hear people say that they HOPE the End Times will happen within their lifetime.

In case you aren’t in the know, “The End Times” is Christian-speak for when Jesus will come back to earth and take all of his followers–both dead and alive–into heaven instantaneously (aka: the Rapture) Meanwhile, the rest of the world who is “left behind “more or less gets their shit tossed and enters into several years of hell on earth (aka: the Tribulation), before finally being tossed into hell itself (aka: The Final Judgment). And a bunch of other stuff is supposed to happen, like Jesus reigning for a Millennium on earth after the final judgement or something like that, but that’s the main gist of it. Christians differ on exactly when the rapture will happen. Some say it will happen before the Tribulation starts, some say it will happen midway through the Tribulation and others say it will happen at the very end. Whichever way it goes, I don’t see how this could possibly be construed as an event to look forward to.

Basically, if you are longing for the End Times to happen soon, then you are longing for the death and destruction and torture of billions of people (possibly including yourself). Let’s say you believe that the Christians will all be safe in heaven via rapture before all this shit goes down. If you want the rapture to happen soon, that suggests that you want anyone who isn’t currently a Christian to be eternally fucked. Because once the rapture happens and you’re left behind, that’s it, you’re screwed, there’s no going back. (Christians also differ on this, but I’m just going by the way I was taught, and the way I understood it myself from reading the Bible) It suggests that you want people to go through all these horrible things SOON. And if you believe that the rapture happens AFTER the Tribulation, then that suggests that you are looking forward to these horrible things happening to *yourself*. Why? So you don’t have to actually die, like everyone else? So that you get to take the easy way and just be instantly teleported into heaven without all the muss and fuss of a natural death? Is it really worth praying for the end of the world to occur, just for that?

Let me tell you, if you’re praying for the End Times to come soon because you want to be in heaven, I have good news for you. You WILL be in heaven someday soon. You WILL die, and according to your belief, you will be in heaven eventually. Hey, at least you only have to wait an average of 75 years, instead of 900 like some of those guys in the Old Testament, right? Have some frickin’ patience or just kill yourself now if it’s that big a deal. (that was a joke, har har. don’t leave me angry comments.)

Anyhoo, another common line is that “The End Times are at hand”. Every week, someone predicts a date for the end of the world to occur (obviously thus far, they have all been wrong). They say things like “Look at how horrible the world is! Things are worse now than they’ve ever been! It has to happen soon!” To that I say–and I apologize for my bluntness but—are you fucking stupid?! Seriously?

How about, oh I dunno….the Dark Ages? The Holocaust? People fighting to the death as entertainment? The witch burnings? Slavery? And you think things are bad NOW? Things have been WAY worse than they are now! There have always been wars, and there will always be wars. There have always been evil dictators, and there will always be evil dictators. There has always been religious persecution, and there will always be religious persecution. Things are no worse now than they have even been. In fact, they’re probably a lot better. People have been saying that the End Times will occur within their lifetimes for literally THOUSANDS of years. In fact, the Bible said it would occur within the *apostles* lifetimes. (whups!) I mean, if Hitler wasn’t the Anti-Christ who on earth WOULD be? It just makes no sense. Quit being such a Negative Nancy and quit with all this “omg-the-sky-is-falling!” BS. If you really think that the world is worse now than it’s ever been, open a damn history book.

Finally, if the Bible says that the End Times will occur during a time of wars, and people sinning their brains out, and horrible things happening….then what is the point of trying to make a difference now? What is the point of caring for the environment if it’s all going to be destroyed anyway? What’s the point of pursuing a peaceful world, when the Bible says it ain’t EVER gonna happen? What’s the point of trying to turn America into a Christian nation when the Bible makes it pretty clear that people are going to be vile sinners literally until the end of time? It’s all going to go down the pooper anyway….so isn’t that just delaying the inevitable? And hey, if you really want the rapture to happen soon, then maybe you should ALLOW the world to go to shit and speed up the process!

I just think this is an extremely damaging worldview for someone to have. Seriously, WHAT is the point of tying to improve life on earth at all, or keep people from sinning when the Bible out and out says that things will ONLY get worse? I asked this all the time when I was a Christian, and I never did get an answer.

So I just want to wrap up by saying this:

The end of the world will probably not occur for ages–much less in your lifetime–IF it occurs at all (well, aside from billions of years from now when the sun finally burns out, I suppose….). So try to preserve the world we live in and the people in it. Relax and enjoy your life here on earth. It just might be the only one you’ll ever get.

-Me

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Unbelievable

Every now and then I visit the blog of Brian Zahnd, who is the pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. My brother interned at this church for two years and was quite fond of it. I only visited a few times and remember enjoying it, but not getting much out of it other than an emotional high.

After reading the incoherent babblings of this gentlemen, I can now see why my brother came back from this internship thouroughly confused and fucked up.

Check out this latest humdinger entitled “Credo”  (ooh, how artsy!)

This is one excerpt, but I encourage you to read the full context:

http://www.brianzahnd.com/index.php?app=blog&p=263

“The Church has its apologists (from Augustine to Zacharias) so that not every individual believer has to be an apologist.

If you believe in the Church you don’t have to fight all your own battles. The Church will fight many battles for you. And that’s a relief.

But if you are a believer without the Church or apart from the Church, you have to defend the faith on your own. And not many are capable of that.

It’s nice to have an Augustine or an Aquinas in your corner. Let the skeptics mess with those cats.

But the Enlightenment influenced individual by himself as a lone(ly) believer has a huge responsibility, that quite honestly, he is probably not capable of.”


Ok uh….is it just me, or is he actually encouraging Christians to just take the apologists at their word and not look further into the answers for themselves? Is it just me or is he actually encouraging Christians to just sit back and be comfortable with the fact that their *feelings* say they are correct and to hell with the facts? Is he actually excusing Christians from actually looking into WHY they believe as they do, because it just might be too hard?

Those  pesky facts…always getting in the way and confusing us, right?

I’m really a little outraged over this. But this is also the same mind-numbingly  intellectually vacant individual who offered up this apologetic: “The very concept of God is so utterly unique that the existence of the very concept is ontological evidence for its reality.” http://www.brianzahnd.com/index.php?app=blog&p=197&phc=remember&spoon=0#comments-addnew

….HUH?!

(This whole blog is just full of lulz. I suggest you check it out. His extremely Zionist views will probably be another topic I’ll cover later on.)

I’m just…my mind is blown by the fact that this yahoo is actually the leader of a mega-church with over 4,000 active members. This isn’t just some dumb whacko on the fringes. He has his own TV show. He writes and publishes books. People actually listen to what comes out of this man’s mouth.

It’s terrfying. And anytime someone tells people not to think for themselves, not to question, to just be guided by their feelings….I just want to punch them in the face. I really do.

-Me

“Interesting reaction. But what does it mean?!”

While working, I usually listen to either music or youtube videos. I don’t remember how, but I stumbled across some videos for Hillsong United, a praise and worship group based in Australia (I believe) whose songs have permeated the worship services in evangelical churches across the globe.

I can’t even place the last time I was in a church service…it’s been over a year at least. So i decided to watch a couple of these videos for kicks and giggles and see if I remembered any of the songs. Now, I should mention that for years I had felt extremely uncomfortable in most praise and worship type settings. And now I remember why, because my reaction to this music hasn’t changed much.

It makes me feel sick to my stomach. It really does. It creeps me out and makes me want to leave whatever room its playing in. Aside from all the not-so-nice memories it floods me with, it just feels….off to me. I can’t really explain it but I’ll try.

First of all, the tone of the songs sound hypnotic and creepy to me. I’ve thought this, even when I was still a devout christian. Many of the songs just never sat well with me and sounded more suitable for a funeral dirge than anything else. I don’t know much about music theory, but a lot of the songs just seem to have this very unsettling mesmerizing sort of melody in the background. Songs like this, just give me the chills….and not in a good way:

And this filled me with a lot of guilt as a Christian. I thought “well, I love god. I’m supposed to like this music. why is it giving me a sick feeling in my stomach?” I felt guilty for thinking that a song sucked or had banal lyrics.

Secondly, it’s emotional manipulation at it’s finest. Music has strange effects on people, and worship music in particular. I grew to resent the way my emotions would be pulled this way and that during a worship service and I would feel as though I had little control over it. The music would set the mood for the whole room: if they play this song you’re supposed to feel happy now, if they play this song you’re supposed to feel like a guilty sinner now etc etc.

Third, If the point of a praise and worship service is truly just to bring glory and reverence to God, then why does it seem as though the people who lead praise and worship are almost always very attractive and fashionable people with stellar voices? It always just seemed a little arrogant to me. It seems as though it should be led by someone who really had their heart in the right place, not just whoever looks the best on stage or had the best voice. I mean, that’s kind of shallow, isn’t it? (As an aside, the christians I’ve met and known are some of the most vain and shallow people I know. But that’s a topic for another day.) I’m sure there are plenty of fat and unattractive or lower-class people who really love God and would give their all to a praise and worship session, but you won’t see them on stage. They lack the charisma, right?

Which brings me to my final reason….the band.

Oh my god.

Every tom dick and harry who loves god and plays the guitar wants to be on the praise and worship team. If I had enough money to form a decent wager, I would bet a large sum that the vast majority of people–particularly young men–who are all about being on the praise and worship team do it for one reason and one reason only: they want to be a rock star. That’s it.

They want the feeling of performing and being on stage and touching people, because it makes them feel cool and important. And dude, it’s like soooo much easier than actually working hard enough to be a member of a REAL band! (This is also similar to my opinion of people who are obsessed with being youth ministers because they don’t want to grow up and would rather feel hip and cool by hanging out with a bunch of teenagers all the time and tagging along on their trips to Six Flags… but again…that’s another topic for another day.)

The vast majority of worship groups/bands that I’ve seen, seem to be self-glorifying snobs and little more than an excuse for them to showcase their “remarkable” talents. I know a few people personally, where I know for a fact that this is the case. The whole event ends up feeling like some sort of hypnotic rock show, complete with lights and fog machines. It’s just a huge spectacle. They have lost the plot.

I’m not against good music during worship services, or flashy lights or whatever….if nothing else, it made church more interesting than if we’d just sung hymns. But let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Please explain to me how this is any different than a regular old concert:

If you want to have a rock and rollin’ spectacle for your worship service, fine…great. You do that. But don’t pretend that oh, you’re just worshiping God and it’s all about him, it’s not about you. (incidentally, I find it very ironic when these people sing that song “heart of worship” by Matt Redman.) If you want to be in a band, be in a band. But don’t do it under the guise of serving Jesus, mkay?

Now, I’m not a christian anymore. But this has been something that’s bothered me for years, even when I was still a devout Christian. So if anyone says something like “well the music just bothers you now because you’re an atheist and that’s your evil spirit inside of you feeling uncomfortable about jesus being praised in your presence”….I would like to invite you to go suck a nut.

I just find it frustrating that so many people allow themselves to be so sucked in by this stuff and be so “touched” by weird mediocre music led by a bunch of pretentious hipster ass holes. And after seeing it on youtube again for the first time in a long time, it only made me that much more happy that I no longer attend church and expose myself to that sort of blatant manipulation, hero worship and mass conformity. Yuck.

-Me

***DISCLAIMER*** Obviously, I cannot make a blanket judgment on every church ever created, since I haven’t been to every church ever created. This is only addressing my personal experiences in certain churches, and the general attitude I see in modern evangelical churches today. So don’t be all like “ur so judgemental!” I think I’m well within my right to judge my own experiences, thanks. I’m also not saying that ALL praise and worship music sucks….just the majority of it. Also not saying that ALL youth ministers have a peter pan complex, so don’t yell at me about that either. Let’s see….have I covered all my bases? Hm, probably not. Oh well.

*you get an e-hug if you can correctly place this quote.

I’ve got some splainin’ ta do

For my first post, I just want to explain the domain name of this blog and what it’s about.

The domain name is “atheistsnightmare”. This could be read as either “Atheist’s Nightmare” or “A Theist’s Nightmare”.  It works either way.

Or I guess you could also read it as “Athe is thsni ghtm are” or “a the is tsnigt mar e” or something like that but well…those don’t make much sense.

If you choose to read it as “Atheist’s Nightmare”, this is derived from that infamous Word of the Master video featuring Ray Comfort explaining why the domesticated banana is an atheist’s worst nightmare, due to it’s incredible design. Let’s watch, shall we?

What Comfort fails to realize is that the banana he is holding is not designed by any god.  In fact, it’s the result of  thousands of years of cultivation and domestication and breeding by HUMANS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana#Early_cultivation

. Whups!

And I find this video to be so incredibly funny (in a sad sort of way) that I named my blog after it.  Thanks Ray!

If you choose to read the domain name as “A Theist’s Nightmare”, that works too. The primary purpose of this blog is to explain why I rejected Christianity, faith and belief in the supernatural after 20 years of strong devotion to it.  I’ll also be posting arguments against religion, with most focus being on Christianity simply because it’s the religion I’m most familiar with after belonging to it for so long.

I used to post these sort of things using the “Notes” application on Facebook but I figured that putting them all here in one concise spot made a lot more sense.  And hopefully, I will get more readers this way.

So there you go. My first post. Whee!

-Me