Okay, I had to admit - religion is just too absurd
I used to be a devout believer. But when I questioned and researched religion, I had to conclude that it was just too ridiculous, impossible, and absurd. Even when I was a devout Christian, the fairy tales didn't satisfy my desire to understand. My beliefs are based on logic, rational thinking, and intelligence. Religious beliefs are based on superstition, fairy tales, and a suspension of thought. To be a believer required me to ignore my intelligence and rational thinking.
Do most Christians know that what they believe is probly wrong? Yes, but they don't want to deal with that. I had a student who admitted in class that she did not want to question her beliefs because she was afraid of what she'd discover. She suspected that her beliefs were not well-founded. It was easier and more comfortable for her to believe in ignorance than to face the truth.

A house of worship burning down is absurd.
The very place where people honor, adore, and cherish their love for God.
The 10 Commandments are absurd.
The moral instructions are found in every law code in the world, including Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and secular governments. There is absolutely nothing inherently Christian about them. Murder, perjury, and theft are covered by the criminal law code, not the Constitution. So, what does that leave for the Constitution to take from the Ten Commandments? Not a single thing. Not one.
The story of Adam and Eve is absurd.
Am I a sinner because, 6,000 years ago, some woman (made from a guy's rib) was tricked by a talking snake into eating a forbidden apple? And, if there is no 'original sin' then there's no need for salvation through Jesus and the basic premise of Christianity disappears.
An entire religion founded on the sin of seeking knowledge
According to the tenet of Christianity, one unforgivable sin started it all in the Garden of Eden. This sin condemned mankind to death and has served as the basis for the mistreatment of women for 6000 years. This original sin was so bad that God couldn't forgive it without human sacrifice and it has tainted every person who ever lived. What was this sin? Murder? Rape? Torture? Genocide? The enslavement of other human beings? Nope. This horrible sin was, drum roll, the desire for knowledge.
The Church did not want its subjects to have knowledge, because then they might think for themselves. They needed them to obey what the Church told them to think.
The foundation of original Sin supports the notion that Christianity was created primarily to control subjects in the Roman Empire.
Acts of God: tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes are absurd.
Millions of innocent men, women, children, and fetuses are brutally killed by his work.
Priests abusing boys and being protected by the Church is absurd.
Traumatic and harmful, but justified by 'Men of God'.
The ineffectiveness of prayer
Christians pray for God to act a certain way, even though he has a 'perfect plan' for them and the universe. Example:
For several decades we have Prayed for our Troops - yet they continue to die awful deaths. Some conclusions:
• God doesn't listen attentively to our prayers.
• God ignores us.
• God must not like it when we tell him what to do.
• God is just not going to intercede to save lives.
• God listens and answers prayers but then bungles the task.
• God is just a mythical being that we use to help us feel better.
What is your theory on why US troops continue to die even though many Americans have been praying for their safe return?
The Bible is absurd!
If you disagree, then you haven't read it thoroughly. More here.
Written by men to espouse their belief and further their personal cause, holy books are biased (a new gender-free version has just been introduced), and translated so many times that their original messages have been altered by men trying to explain it in their own terms. In the Bible's New Testament, why are there 4 gospels? Why not just 1? or 10? Does God think we are too stupid to get it with one book?
• If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son. Then shall his father and his mother. bring him out unto the elders of his city. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. - Deuteronomy 21:18-21
• Six days of work shall be done, but the seventh day shall be a holy day - whoever does work on that day shall be put to death. - Exodus 35:2
• Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. - I Timothy 2:9-14
• If a man discovers that his bride is not a virgin on their wedding night, the men of her city must stone her to death on her father's doorstep. - Deuteronomy 22:13-21
• He that curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death. - Exodus 21:17
• Slaves need to obey their masters, even if their masters are harsh. - 1 Peter 2:18
Offering a product (life after death) that can only be verified when you die is absurd.
Does anyone ever ask for their money back?
The basic premise of religion is absurd
Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths and folk tales. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was poorly translated into several languages. The resultant text, believers feel, is the best guide to our complex and technical world."
Later, came lies by money-grubbers that had discovered a new way to market the "myths and tales" to make a buck. - Tom Welter
For God liked the world somewhat, so he allowed the only son he ever bothered to have to suffer briefly, so that some people could escape the hell which he created. The Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, with God, on the wishes of God. Some kind of divine osmosis. So Jesus was his own father - this is where we all go ew and tell our kids to step away from that silly book.

God destroys churches, kills Christians, and destroys his statues

What's left of the Sallateeska Baptist Church in Shawnee OK after a fire got 'out of control', Febuary 2008. The pastor said of the fire, "God is always on his throne and knows what is best." Then why do they plan to rebuild? If God knows what is best and he destroyed the church, why won't they take his not-so-subtle hint? Tornado damage to the Union Grove Freewill Baptist Church in Arkansas, Febuary 2008 - the same day, a fire destroyed part of the New Covenant Methodist Church in Edmond OK.

The Shiloh Baptist Church in Robertsville, Missouri, sits damaged Saturday, January 1, 2011, after a New Year's Eve storm passed through the area. God saw fit to demolish this house of worship (and kill 27 people in this community). The pastor is sitting on the steps but there is no firm evidence to confirm that he, his eating habits, or his fashion sense was the cause of God's wrath.

Why would an All-Powerful and All-Loving God or 'Mother Nature' (a nice euphemism for the power of almighty God) destroys houses of worship dedicated to him? These are the very places where His many faithful gather, where his love is shared, where numerous prayers originate, and where steeples, angels, and icons stand as testament to his existence.

I can think of several reasons why God would destroy churches:
1. God decides that there are too many 'bad' people in the congregation and wants to annoy them by having them suffer and raise money for a new structure.
2. God wants to kill some of the church members (as he killed many 'sinners' in ancient times). This seems unlikely since most church destruction occurs while the buildings are empty and God would certainly know that.
3. He may be pissed at the pastor/priest/bishop and want to make him/her suffer. This seems odd since there are more loving, more humane, and less destructive ways of annoying church leaders.
4. God can just no longer stand an ugly building. Since God is the Intelligent Designer, he may just choose to destroy those structures he deems to be too ugly. But, I don't know why he waits until structures are completed since he certainly can see the plans and renderings that are proposed.
5. According to the fotos above, God is pissed at how fat Americans have become. This doesn't make much sense since many destroyed churches don't have fat pastors and there should be better ways to punish fat people.
6. We can't truly understand God or His motives - He may destroy things just out of spite or just for His own amusement - I suspect He gets bored watching us mortals screw around all day. Watching a fire or tornado and watching people panic could be a real hoot for Him.
7. God goofed and allowed a fire or tornado to get out of his control. This seems unlikely since He is All-Powerful and All-Knowing.
8. The church buildings are destroyed by naturally occurring events (tornadoes, fires, lightning strikes, etc.) and God decides not to intervene (see reasons stated above).
9. Churches are destroyed by naturally occurring events, arson, or accidents and God has nothing to do with it since He is just a figment of belief in the minds of delusional people.

Tornado in Joplin, May 2011

142 were killed and thousands more affected by a massive F-5 tornado. Several churches were destroyed, and religious leaders tried to offer meaning. "You could see the enormous challenge they are going to face, as they preach funerals in the weeks to come," Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said after meeting faith-based leaders this week. "God allows things to happen that we don't know why," one of the pastors said earlier this week. "But when we look back, we always hear the good things that happen as a result." (But what about the many deaths, injuries, and losses, and much suffering?)

Church steeple falls and kills lifelong churchgoer
Thursday, July 2008, the Grace Assembly of God church in Oklahoma City was moving to a new location and a new building. Winfred and Charlyne Stafford, longtime church members, went to watch as a crane hoisted the new steeple to the top of the new building. The crane's arm crumpled, fell, and smashed the Stafford's car, instantly crushing Winfred. "He was a great Christian and a man who knew God personally and walked with God for many years." said the Reverend. Note - Winfred should have earlier found a different walking partner. How great a Christian was he if God could watch and allow his horrible death? Reverend Hancock, "We're looking at it from the perspective that God is a God of grace. God is a God of mercy. God is a God of love." The Reverend is clearly delusional and should be placed in a rehab center soon. Charlyne: "This is the way God chose to bring him home." Crushed to death. She should probably join the Reverend at rehab.

An 'Act of God' destroys the 'King of Kings' statue
In June 2010, a landmark along Interstate 75 near Cincinnati was destroyed when a bolt of lightning struck the Kings of Kings statue at the Solid Rock Church, setting it on fire. Believed to be the largest sculpture of Jesus Christ in the United States, it was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus. There were lightning resistors and grounding rods in place around the statue, but they failed to divert the bolt from the Heavens.
Some people said the fire is a message from a higher power. "It resembles the old days when they made a big golden lamb and some people are saying it is a sign from God to get rid of idols." Some said the structure represented a garish waste of money that could have been devoted to humanitarian causes. “God struck God, Jesus struck Jesus.”
“Of all the things that could have been struck, I just think that that would be protected. It’s something that’s not supposed to happen, Jesus burning,” said someone who noted the giant sign for the Hustler Hollywood adult store across the street was untouched. The statue will be rebuilt. “We are blessed. Now we get to build a brand-new one, all paid-for (because of insurance coverage). This time we are going to try for something fireproof." (to avoid another clear message from God.)

God has spoken, in our nation's capitol

An earthquake in Virginia was felt in Washington DC, where it toppled these stones in the National Cathedral. Other than the Washington Monument, there was very little damage in the capitol. What was God telling us by destroying this angelic figure in a House of Worship?
A few days later, a crane toppled at the Cathedral, sending its operator to the hospital, damaging two out-buildings and crushing four vehicles that belonged to contractors. The crane was lifting supplies to the top of the cathedral (as part of the earthquake repair) when it collapsed without warning. "We don't know why it collapsed," the DC Fire Chief said. The Rev. Bautista looked out his office window, saw the yellow crane sprawled on the ground, and thought that people must be hurt. When he learned that no one had died or was seriously injured, Bautista called that miraculous. "You can see that this was a divine hand that kept something else from happening."
But, I guess that divine hand can't or won't stop accidents in the first place. Does He just intervene after the fact to show His mighty power?

Deeply religious man crushed by God

October 2012, Newburgh, NY. For months, David Jimenez would pray, at a crucifix, that his wife would be cured of ovarian cancer. And she was. David attributed the cure to his devotion to that cross. Because of that, he got permission to clean the crucifix, which was long-neglected. But in doing so, the statue dislodged, toppled onto him, threw him down to the parking lot, and crushed his right leg.
Lesson: God has a great sense of humor.

God watches some of his young worshipers burn to death

31 children, ranging in age from toddlers to 12, and one adult were killed in Colombia on May 2014 when fuel exploded on a broken-down bus returning from Sunday school classes at a small Pentecostal church. The whereabouts of the pastor was unknown. "Last night they wanted to burn him alive, so for his own safety they removed him from the town," said a woman who attends the church.

God and the 9/11 attack
The morning of September 11, 2001, God knew that two planes would hit the World Trade Center. God had the ability to stop them, but he chose not to intervene. The deaths and suffering were all part of His Great Plan.
Evil is part of God's Plan. Despite President Bush's statement that "we will rid the world of all evil", the faithful know that there will always be evil in the world since that is an integral part of God's Wisdom as taught in His Word, the Holy Bible. The anti-religious stance of President Bush will not stand in the way of the Truly Faithful. God has warned us in His Word that there would be the unfaithful that would counter His Work. Terrorism is part of His Plan and a crucial and necessary component in His efforts to show us The Way. We cannot overcome terrorism, because we are not, nor will we ever be, more powerful than God. God uses terrorists to fulfill His Wonderful Plan for Earth and its inhabitants. Glorify and be thankful for the terrorists for they are His Servants.
September 11 served as a wake-up call for all the nonbelievers and non-religious. The Awesome Power of Almighty God shone through that day. Nothing stands in the way of His Will. Not tall buildings, not thousands of people, not grief, not media hype, not irreligious presidents and world leaders, and certainly not prayer. Praise Him and All Glory to His Name.

The power of pilot prayer

A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray before crash-landing his plane and killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court. The 2005 crash off the coast of Sicily left survivors swimming for their lives, some clinging to a piece of the fuselage that remained floating after the aircraft splintered upon impact. A fuel-gauge malfunction was partly to blame but prosecutors said the pilot had succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land the plane instead trying to reach a nearby airport.
Compare this to the landing on the Hudson River earlier this spring. That pilot relied on his years of experience and his wisdom. He maintained a calm composure as he did exactly as he had been trained to do. He said he was so busy landing the plane that he didn't have time to pray. Or take the time. When I am on a plane, I would much rather have a pilot who is logical, rational, and relies on his training than a pilot who relies on God to save him and his passengers.

Progress or primitive?

In Mecca, during Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday in Islam, more than 3 million pilgrims last year filed past three stone walls representing Satan and pelted them with stones to, symbolically, denounce the devil. Human crushes and pileups have killed hundreds, most recently in 2006. This hajj is a religious duty for every Muslim able to carry it out. The first day of stoning also marks the feast of sacrifice, when Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son. A butcher calls out "In the name of Allah!" and then slits the animal's throat.

Another spiritual conundrum

Many Christians get married in front of God and their Christian friends, some of whom are praying to God for the marriage to succeed: "What God has put together, let no man put asunder." God, all-powerful, has put two people together - that should that seal the deal. Yet Christians get divorced at the same rate as everyone else. (Southern Baptists get divorced at a higher rate than atheists, 29% compared to 21%.) How do these people rectify that blessing from God when they decide to divorce?

"Jesus died for your sins" is just absurd.
We’re told this God-man atoned for the sins of man. No sense can be made of how the death of Jesus actually forgives sins. There is no relationship between punishment and forgiveness at all. We forgive people who have not been punished and sometimes we won't forgive people even after they've been punished. To say that in order to forgive someone they must first be punished does not even describe forgiveness. It describes revenge. Revenge can never be a moral reason for acting and revenge has nothing to do with offering forgiveness. We don’t need for people to ask forgiveness in order to forgive them. Sometimes it’s better for our mental health to forgive someone regardless of whether or not they're even sorry for what they’ve done.
Some conclusions:
• Religion is primarily a social construct. People have a need to hang with other people who think like they do.
• Religious people are rarely independent thinkers - they like being compared to sheep (shepherd, flock.)
• Most religious people have not read the Bible in their entirety - they have no idea what idiocy is in there.
• It looks bad to all your other religious friends to question "the Word".
So basically, religion is a really expedient way for people who really aren't that smart to gather a whole lot of power. Maybe in the end that's really smart. But, if that's the case, then religion is merely a tool for the acquisition and protection of power by large numbers. And that is precisely why we have had so much bloodshed in history - religion as a veil for power. Today is nothing new. Religious persons simply turn that part of their brain off and completely forget history and question the role of it all today. Religion, at best, is intellectual laziness, at worst, it is a completely uncritical view of the world, past and present. Religion is merely a social club with catastrophically dangerous geo-political dimensions.

Jesus Christ is thought to be the most influential person in history, but there is no evidence of his existence. No birth certificate, no writings by him, not a single thing. The only evidence of his existence is the Bible, and we know the Bible is not evidence. You would think that someone as important as the Son of God would have had a bit more written about him in his day. After all, stars were formed for his birth, wise men traveled to a cave full of sheep to see him. Yet nobody once thought "we should be writing this stuff down". We have knowledge of emperors and rulers from many years before Jesus, and yet nothing from the most important man of all time? The only thing we have are the gospels - books written by his followers nearly 70 years after his death. We all know that memories fade over 70 years, and that his followers would likely strive to make him look better than he really was. My grandmother can't even get her own kid's names straight; yet it is believed that Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John had perfect memories in their 80s. And their writings have been translated and re-translated for the needs and desires of different people and different political and social moments throughout time.

The belief that a walking dead Jewish deity who was his own father although he always existed, commits suicide by cop, although he didn't really die, in order to give himself permission not to send you to an eternal place of torture that he created for you, but instead to make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh, drink his blood, and telepathically promise him you accept him as your master, so he can cleanse you of an evil force that is present in mankind because a rib-woman and a mud-man were convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. - Anonymous

Each of these figures - Mithra (Persia 600 BC), Krishna (Hindu 3228 BC), Buddha (563 BC), Attis (Greece 1,200 BC), or Jesus Christ (0 AD) - was:
1. Born of a virgin
2. Performed miracles
3. Was crucified
4. Rose from the dead after 3 days
5. Nativity heralded by a star?

Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, tales, and gibberish. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successfully. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject." [creation vs. evolution]. - Tom Welter
Those primitive 'people' were sincere but mistaken and sloppy in their research & transcribing and just thinking with the limited knowledge they had at their disposal.
Later, came lies by money-grubbers that had discovered a new way to market the "myths, tales and gibberish" to make an easy buck and manipulate and control the masses.

The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful and wealthiest entities on Earth.

There are some positives
1. It allows some people to feel better about themselves: promising an eternal afterlife provides hope and comfort and believing that a superpower is with them and can take care of their problems can also be comforting.
2. The Catholic Church has a mission to feed the hungry and provide for the poor.
3. It is the largest non-government provider of education and medical services in the world.

But, is it worth it? Some observers say the Pope is becoming "increasingly irrelevant". The idea of a man with a monopoly on God's word is an invention of Medieval church leaders. Promising fairy tales and superpowers, he cons people into false hope and the inability to think and act more rationally and responsibly. Banning birth control leads to guilt, abuse, abortions, unwanted pregnancies, teenage mothers, unwed mothers, sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, and overpopulation (fortunately, many practitioners don't fully obey the edicts on birth control).
According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection and independent studies commissioned by the bishops, 2012:
• More than 6,905 priests have been accused of sexual impropriety since 1950.
• More than 16,463 victims identified to date, although there is no national database.
• $2.5 billion in settlements and therapy bills for victims, attorneys fees, and costs to care for priests pulled out of the ministry from 2004 to 2011.
How many people could have been fed, housed, and helped by that 2.5 billion dollars?

Two things the Catholic Church does really well
1. It conducts the perfect marketing scam.
Most companies sell a product that you can return for a refund if it doesn't fit or you don't like it. But the largest business in history sells products (and millions of people buy them) that you can't take back. In fact, the products you buy are never even delivered - you never even get to see them.
The products? Forgiveness of wrongdoing and life after death. A promised forgiven life for all eternity, in a joyous place with all your loved ones (at least, the righteous ones).
The Catholic Church sells products that it never has to produce. What a brilliant scam on gullible people.

2. Blatant hypocrisy.
When the Pope travels, it looks a lot like a large corporation putting on a show to impress its shareholders (and also of one who doesn't really trust God for his safety). The popemobile is a modified Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle with a special glass-enclosed 'room' that has been built into the back of the vehicle. The pope enters through a rear door and ascends several steps. After the pope sits in his chair, it is elevated up into the glass 'room' by a hydraulic lift, allowing the pope to be more visible. The vehicle's security features include bulletproof glass windows and roof and reinforced armored side panels and underbody. Estimated cost: $116,842.50

The Church contends that if one trusts Jesus and prays in His name, God will answer. Think of the thousands, or millions, of people who pray for the safety and protection of the leader of the Church - the Holy See, the Pope. Yet, despite these prayers and the assurances from the Holy Bible, the Church spends a hundred thousand dollars to buy a vehicle to protect the Pope. "God, we trust that you will protect the Pope, but we're not quite sure you will, so we're going to buy an armored vehicle to protect him. Amen."
The Church can't have it both ways - asking its parishioners to put their complete trust in God and also show tangible evidence that the church, itself, does not have such trust.

Events are like an extravagant Vegas show production (Medieval Vegas) with costumes, sets, and special effects. All calculated to appeal to the unthinking, easily-swayed, and gullible ticket-buying audience.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." NIV Matthew 6:19
"Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." NIV Luke 18:22
They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. NIV Acts 2:45

Think how much more beneficial the church would be if it simply acted more Christ-like.

And God just watches

God just watches while his 'children':
• have raunchy sex (grandma may also be watching, with interest)
• murder, even the killing of innocent people
• sexually abuses boys, even his priests
• torture and enslave, like during the years-long Holocaust
• starve to death, many of them innocent children
God watches his creations (tsunamis, hurricanes, fires, tornadoes) destroy property, kill some of his innocent children, maim adults, and tear apart families.
Why do people choose to worship such a cruel evil being?
On the morning of September 11, 2001, most people died in one of 5 ways:
1. Quick death from the impact and explosions of jet fuel. Some of these people, those who were on the planes or in the buildings looking out, probably had a few moments of terror, but not for too long.
2. Death by fire. The flames engulfed people and these people watched their bodies burn as they ran or fell to escape the rapidly approaching flames.
2. Smoke inhalation, as some were stranded for a few minutes in the upper floors as they filled with acrid smoke. They spent their last few minutes of life gasping for air and struggling to find a haven where there was less smoke. The struggle for air was so bad that some people . . .
4. Jumped out of windows. These people died from fright in mid-air or died when their human body struck a slab of concrete after falling for over 80 stories.
5. Some survived all of the above, including many rescuers, only to feel, for a few terrifying moments, the building start to shake and quiver. A few of these probably had enough time left to feel the sheer terror of having their bodies ripped apart.
It is quite likely that many of those people, those who had a few moments of time left, prayed to God - some for a painless death, some for life, and some asked Him to watch over their families.
Did God enjoy watching the almost 3,000 people die these horrible, painful deaths? He had the power, ability, and strength to stop those planes from hitting the towers. God simply chose not to use that power. Would his goals be better reached by allowing the gruesome deaths - pain, suffering, families ripped apart, billions of dollars spent, chaos in the community?
In 2013, God created a tornado and sent it to destroy an elementary school in Moore OK. Why would he steer it into the school with innocent children. Did he just watch as the concrete block wall fell on the kids, crushing them to death? Did he feel satisfied?
Why did God choose to watch the innocent children at Sandy Hook school get slaughtered? I ask believers and the answers range from 'We don't understand God's perfect plan', 'That wasn't God, that was Satan' (thereby admitting that Satan is more powerful than God), to the honest, but ignorant 'I don't know.' I have yet to hear an intelligent answer to the question.
The tsunami of 2004 killed over 200,000 people. The cause: when God created the earth, he didn't get the tectonic plates quite right and they keep moving and causing volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Seems like a pretty poor job for an all-knowing all-powerful creator.
I can accept that there might be a cruel vengeful god who demands love and adoration. I can't understand why millions of Americans choose to worship and obey him and join this evil cult.

Where was God?
By Sam Harris
In Buffalo, there is the remarkable story of a local firefighter who awoke from a coma after two years. When his family was interviewed about the seeming miracle, they said "we prayed, and God answered our prayers". When the medical staff was interviewed, the doctors said "we tried a new medication". Now, my question is, if you had to rely on only one treatment, prayer or the new medication, which would you keep and which would you give up?

Consider: the city of New Orleans was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. At least a thousand people died, tens of thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and over a million have been displaced. It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Katrina struck believed in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while a hurricane laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the prayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned there. These were people of faith. These were good men and women who had prayed throughout their lives. Only the atheist has the courage to admit the obvious: these poor people spent their lives in the company of an imaginary friend. Of course, there had been ample warning that a storm of biblical proportions' would strike New Orleans, and the human response to the ensuing disaster was tragically inept. But it was inept only by the light of science. Advance warning of Katrina's path was wrested from mute Nature by meteorological calculations and satellite imagery. God told no one of his plans. Had the residents of New Orleans been content to rely on the beneficence of the Lord, they wouldn't have known that a killer hurricane was bearing down upon them until they felt the first gusts of wind on their faces. And yet, a poll conducted by The Washington Post found that eighty percent of Katrina's survivors claim that the event has only strengthened their faith in God.

If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil. Pious readers will now execute the following pirouette: God cannot be judged by merely human standards of morality. But, of course, human standards of morality are precisely what the faithful use to establish God's goodness in the first place. And any God who could concern himself with something as trivial as gay marriage, or the name by which he is addressed in prayer, is not as inscrutable as all that.

There is another possibility: the biblical God is fiction. As Richard Dawkins has observed, we are all atheists with respect to Zeus and Thor. Only the atheist has realized that the biblical God is no different. Consequently, only the atheist is compassionate enough to take the profundity of the world's suffering at face value. It is terrible that we all die and lose everything we love; it is doubly terrible that so many human beings suffer needlessly while alive. That so much of this suffering can be directly attributed to religion - to religious hatreds, religious wars, religious delusions, and religious diversions of scarce resources - is what makes atheism a moral and intellectual necessity. It is a necessity, however, that places the atheist at the margins of society. The atheist, by merely being in touch with reality, appears shamefully out of touch with the fantasy life of his neighbors.

Religion: hatred, death, suffering, and oppression
For thousands of years all the bloodiest and most brutal wars have been based on religious hatred. Religious people kill each other and then talk about peace and the sanctity of life. Religion relies on threats, fear, intimidation, and propaganda to convert followers. From Bertrand Russell in Why I am not a Christian: Religion is based primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing - fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder that cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand.
Christopher Hitchens said, soon after 9/11, "Destroy this dangerous thing before it destroys us." From the book Napalm & Silly Putty by George Carlin: Major religions teach that the Supreme Power wants us to worship the sanctity of life. But, God is one of the leading causes of death and has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Moslems, Christians, and Jews all take turns killing one another, because God told them it was good. The sword of God, the blood of the lamb - vengeance is mine. Millions of dead people. All because they gave the wrong answer to the God question: "Do you believe in my God?"

The Bible is not the word of God
Written by men to espouse their belief and further their personal cause, holy books are biased and one-sided (a new gender-free version has just been introduced). Most holy books have been translated so many times that their original messages have been altered by men trying to explain it in their own terms. In the Bible's New Testament, why are there 4 gospels? Why not just 1? or 10? Does God think we are too stupid to get with one book? Virgin birth? Jesus died for my sins? (What does that really mean?) Are we told it is the word of God so we would read and obey? Holy books were written by men establishing man-based religions. If they were truly written by an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God would they contain so many absurdities, so many outdated laws, so much hatred, and so much intolerance?

Religious doctrines are constantly changing
We don't see WWJD around much more - now its not appropriate with our beliefs of seeking revenge on terrorists, so we conveniently ignore WWJD and find new doctrine. Or we put our beliefs on hold when they no longer suit our values. The Mormon church would not allow Negroes to attain priesthood - now they can. The role of women throughout religious history changes to suit popular culture and pressure, not true to holy book doctrine.

Christianity is not direct to God
Christian doctrine says one must go through Jesus to talk to God. Why would a loving all-powerful creator not allow his children to talk to him directly? Some Christian slogans: Magnify Jesus, Jesus is Number 1, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is the Way. Why concentrate on the messenger and not the message or the source? Christianity builds a barrier between God and man: Jesus.

Christianity encourages low self-esteem
The theology espouses that Christians are born sinners, separate from God, not worthy, and may go to hell. Just because some early mythical fairy tale character ate an apple and defied the story's mythical creator? Why would a loving all-powerful God create something awful like hell? Isn't it more likely that the men who were espousing their beliefs created hell as a threat to encourage followers to obey? Mormons believe that unless you are baptized a Mormon you will go to hell. Most Non-Mormons believe Mormons will go to hell. Seems almost all of us, then, are destined to suffer for all eternity in Hell.

Self-esteem comes from the power within oneself - the power, confidence, joy, and peace that rational and logical strong esteem provides. When one trusts oneself implicitly, there is nothing to fear, not what man can or shall do to you. One does not need the approval of others or of ancient doctrines to feel useful or important. When faith in oneself is strong, one experiences strength, confidence, love, peace, and joy. When one's faith is weak, one is open to fear, depression, and sadness. The journey to spiritual fulfillment is a relationship with oneself that provides comfort, security, and hope for the future. One does not need religion to love fellow inhabitants of the universe and to live an ethical upstanding life.
Norman Vincent Peale wrote, "The ecstasy of human existence, the human experience". Science and rationality forms the foundation of human's ability to protect and take care of ourselves. It is more beneficial, empowering, and enlightening to examine and question religion and to accept reason, logic, and scientific discovery. There is more awe and wonder in nature/science than in religion - the edge of a black hole, the aurora borealis, sunsets, trees, the birth of a baby, each explained by science, none is a miracle.

Religion is superstition
Mankind crossing its fingers - religion's sole functions are 1) to comfort and console those who cannot bear the suffering and death that are ultimately the lot of every human being, and 2) to offer meaning in a world where meaning can never be established. Religion, in other words, is a fortress of lies built to keep out the terrors of existence and nonexistence. For those in power, it is useful in still another way: Since time immemorial, the powerful have used religion to distract the oppressed, to encourage them to focus on the next world so that they will acquiesce to the injustices of this world. If you would have your slaves remain docile, teach them hymns. On balance, religion has made the world a worse place. It has generated magnificent art and wonderful music and spectacular architecture, and millions of people have, over the centuries, done good and beautiful things in its name, but on balance it has not been good for the world. Those millions of good people would have done just as much good without it. Mother Teresa would have been saintly without the New Testament. Martin Luther King would have been a paragon of eloquent courage without having been baptized. Gandhi would have overturned an empire leaning only on his walking stick. Virtue would exist without Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Hinduism, which, in their vanity and vaporishness, are no different from the Roman's belief in household Gods or the Druid's belief in tree spirits. A magic act is a magic act, whatever robes we clothe it in. But because of religions like these, the world has experienced centuries and centuries of backwardness and unnecessary suffering. Throats have been slit in their name, hearts exploded, the best minds distracted or destroyed, sweet people tortured, millions of children sent horribly to oblivion.

Perhaps the most absurd of religion's superstitions is the notion of the "holy" place
The idea that this patch of earth or that building or that city or nation is somehow sanctified by some God has left us with the bombs and guns and bodies of Kashmir and Belfast, of Baghdad and Jerusalem. "Next year in Jerusalem." Oh, the lives such words have cost! Why not "Next year in Memphis" or "Next year in Singapore" or "Next year on the banks of the Platte"? What is land but land? What is a building but a building? We have a president (Bush) convinced that he is plugged in to the will of God, and his conviction is leading the United States to holy war in Iraq. He believes that God is on his side, just as Osama bin Laden believes that God is on his side, and the PLO thinks God is on their side, and the Irish Republican Army is certain God is on their side. The list of those who have made war in the name of their God is too long even to start here.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is convinced that the United States is a country with God's special blessing, and Attorney General John Ashcroft thinks his views on abortion and the Bill of Rights come straight from the mind of his right-wing Christian God. Our leaders say they want to make the world safe for secular democracy - but what they really mean is that they want to make a world receptive to their Western God. Religious wars are the most tragic, because they are built so deeply on a deluded sense of righteousness. Have nonbelievers started wars? Of course. They have started wars for land, politics, or pure villainy. But I don't know of a single nonbeliever who has killed simply to make others stop believing. On the other hand, the world has millions who will kill in order to make someone else believe as they believe.

This circular reasoning is the same used by religions to justify their faith. The Bible introduces the concept of how to save yourself from sin, a concept introduced in that very same Bible.

Your absurd God: A rambling essay directed to literalist believers
• God created everything, he is:
      Omniscient - knows everything, even before it happens
      Omnipresent - everywhere at the same time
      Omnipotent - can do anything
• God could stop all evil and cruelty but doesn't, allowing innocent people to be imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Including abusing of children and animals.
• God could eliminate the harmful bacteria and viruses he created, but he has chosen not to. Science has conquered many of the terrible things that God created. Not too long ago, scientists were condemned for this as most religious people opposed vaccination, pasteurization, anesthetics, and even lightning rods on buildings (sickness and lightning were punishments from God).
• God was with Timothy McVeigh before, during, and after he blew up the Murrah Building. He was with the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center. God was around when Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein and all other tyrants were working their evil, but he chose not to use his power to change their behavior. It is difficult not to conclude that God greatly enjoys seeing immense amounts of suffering. Otherwise, why doesn't he put a stop to such actions?
• When the concept of hell arose, virtually all humans believed in torture (and slavery) and felt this was deserved by those who had wrong beliefs or had 'misbehaved'. What an immensely cruel God. If one truly believed anyone was burning forever, one would be driven totally insane by such a horrendous reality. Most people really have no fear of what happens after death. Thus, we should be as kind and civil as possible during our short tenure on earth for there is no evidence that we pass this way again. Nonbelievers need neither threats of hell nor hopes of paradise to make them behave responsibly. Very few non-believing Americans become criminals.
• God lets Satan (and his 'army of demons') have his way with us. What a silly concept.
• God already knows what you will be praying for before you do and knows what he will do about your request, then what's the use of prayer? If one enumerates the few times a 'miracle' has been claimed versus the multitude of times there has been no such occurrence, well, it seems that nothing fails like prayer.
• God knows before a given human is conceived that this person will develop 'wrong' beliefs and spend eternity burning in hell. You say all humans have free will. But your God knows what that choice will be. Therefore, he creates people knowing that they are bound for eternal torture. What sense does that make?

Christianity: The oldest con game in the world
By Jane Everhart

Religion is a “con game” because it is a vast conspiracy, reaching into all corners of the world, to extract money and realty from ignorant, gullible people in exchange for promises of a luxurious afterlife, forgiveness of their sins and staying on the good side of some God who supposedly can have bad things happen to you if he takes a mind to it.
But aren’t these promises from religion a bit like a Mafia protection scheme? The Mafia would charge shopkeepers a “protection fee,” which meant that its wiseguys would not throw bricks in the shopkeeper’s window if they got paid weekly to not do so. Isn’t paying a priest to pray for you much the same thing except that, with the priest, you don’t know what you are being protected against? The wrath of God?

A friend who works for a nationwide tax preparation company reported that she was astounded by the amount of money given to churches by families whose tax returns she was preparing. It was not unusual for a working class family of modest means to donate as much as $25,000 a year to their church.
How does religion manage to wring $25,000 a year out of a middle-class family? The church uses blame, guilt and fear to extract cash from its supplicants by subtle and psychological processes, in which religion creates rules, which you break, and then you are offered redemption for the rule-breaking, but there are things you must do for penance, which usually consist of the recitation of ten “Hail Mary” prayers and whatever the church thinks they can get out of you in the way of monetary gratitude.

And then there are the phony promises, hyped up schemes and bogus tales that religion tries to peddle to us:
THE CONCEPT OF “SOUL.” The soul is an invisible part of you that, spirit-like, lives on and goes to heaven after you die. Nobody has ever seen a soul, there is no tangible evidence that a soul exists and a soul should not be confused with personality or emotions. Your brain is composed of neurons and synapses that cease to function when you die and so your personality dies with you. When a priest or minister says he wants to “save your soul,” watch out, because he likely wants money or another follower to increase his power.
“JESUS LOVES YOU.” “Look,” I say to the one anointing me with this Jesus-loves-you phrase, “Jesus doesn’t even know who I am. So stop trying to get me to feel that someone up there has the warm fuzzies for me. It’s just another ploy to separate me from my discretionary income because, of course, you’re counting on the fact that I wouldn’t want to have this guy stop loving me.”
FORGIVENESS OF SINS. Here’s a scam that has got to be the world’s most effective producer of guilt-fees on the planet. You can kill, steal or torture dumb animals but if you go to the confessional and own up to it, the priest is duty bound to not only not mention it to the cops, but to expiate your sins and send you to heaven clean as a newborn babe. For that, the priest demands loyalty, of course, plus the usual ten Hail Marys, and a promise to sin no more.
VIRGIN BIRTH. Mary gave birth to Jesus, the alleged son of God, without being inseminated vaginally by a human male. She is deified for this, sanctified, and held up as a virtuous ideal. But what about the rest of us, we women who were unlucky enough to get pregnant the old-fashioned way? The church has dubbed sexual intercourse “sinful” and “dirty” for 2,000 years. Sex can only be engaged in under the rules of the church, and that means standing up in front of a priest and promising to love, honor and obey till death do you part, which means being bound to another person for the rest of your life even if he (or she) turns out to be Jack the Ripper.
HEAVEN AND HELL. This has to be the all-time most profitable moneymaking scheme in the history of the church. Imagine a punishment that is there for any religious infraction - but you can’t see the punishment or experience it until you are dead. The church doesn’t have to administer the punishment; all it needs to do is say that it will happen.

Imagine also the church’s reward system: a serene afterlife with no earthly worries. So, say you have confessed to your parish priest that you have indulged in extramarital sex. The punishment for that, the priest whispers through the confessional screen, is two years in purgatory. (How does he know this?) Or, the priest tells you, ten Hail Marys and a donation of a new roof to the church will do a lot to demonstrate your remorse. I suspect many Catholic churches keep their infrastructure in marvelous repair thanks to the wandering eyes of sinners. That the donation is also tax-deductible doesn’t hurt (even though that deductibility suggests government collusion).
It takes courage to be a non-believer. We provide no security bubbles to our constituents by lying about the hereafter; we offer no false comfort, no promises of redemption for a bribe. Non-believers deal with reality, and we think reality is enough.

Why Christianity is successful
1. Being a Christian is easy. It provides a convenient set of ethics that is handed to us (usually by our parents). One does not have to invest time, energy, or work real hard at it. It is socially acceptable and preferred in most of the US.
2. Religion satisfies social needs. Church/temple/mosque provides a community of like-minded people who are accepting and welcoming of newcomers. One can make and see friends and have support groups. This social network, with its bonding rituals, satisfies a need to belong and to be accepted by others.
3. Religion absolves one of responsibility. Trust the Lord. "God made me do it". One is told to have faith and trust implicitly.

Humans have sought and continue to seek a connection to a greater power or connection in the universe. Our brains may be wired to seek such a connection. Human species have sought acceptance, solace, and explanations by inventing 'supreme beings'. Primitive peoples worshiped the sun, darkness, and lightning in awe. They didn't understand them and, since our brains seek understanding, they invented explanations that provided comfort. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans (as well as almost all ancient cultures) worshiped multiple gods - gods of war, love, wine, etc. As our collective consciousness of understanding, literacy, and intelligence has grown; we have acknowledged that multiple gods is just the stuff of myths and fairy tales. We seem, however, to refuse to give up on the idea of at least one 'supreme being' - Jehovah, Allah, Holy Trinity, Buddha, Ganesh, Mother Earth, etc.
If a belief system doesn't make much sense, we invent beliefs that provide more satisfaction. Many belief systems prior to the birth of Jesus Christ were based on virgin births, visiting wise men, celestial superstars, etc. Much of the Christian New Testament is based on writings in other holy books. Just new twists to establish new followings.
Many people, instead of searching, simply accept the creeds and explanations, no matter how bizarre, of established cults, especially those that are more mainstream and prominent in that culture.

Jim Jones, David Koresh, Jim Bakker, and the Mormon Joseph Smith; all are men who satisfied their egos while trying to build a following by providing explanations for the universe, life, and death. They developed myths as truths (tithe to God, the Bible/Koran is God's word, the existence of hell, people are born sinners). They sought control and to shelter their subjects from outside influences: "read only my word, listen only to me, only I will take care of you". They played on their subject's insecurities and fears. They amassed large followings of people who sought spiritual fulfillment without having to think, to make the spiritual journey easier.

Why some people believe in absurd myths
Fear - the myths of hell and Satan, fire and suffering, are powerfully frightening.
'Lucky' people see opportunities. If there's a puddle in sidewalk, kids will jump right in (and enjoy it). Adults will not only walk around, but bitch about it as they do. Results come, not from what you say or do, but from what you think, feel, and believe. You need no excuse to feel good.
Celebrate life. Visualize, see it as it is. Then visualize it as better than it is, and work to make that happen. Whatever you focus on feels real. Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear. We too often focus on what we're afraid of.
Religion helps explain things we don't understand. Popular cultures use superstition to provide meaning. A loud noise from the sky - it must be a sign from the God of Thunder, farmers need rain - ask the God of the Harvest. We don't (can't) understand the origin of life or the origin of the universe so we attribute it to a supreme being who works in mysterious ways.
Religion makes great promises.
      Salvation: life after death. The concept and its realization seem quite preposterous. Of course we can't understand it. Cultures have always been fascinated with the idea that there has to be something better than this life - the Egyptians and their elaborate burial chambers of possessions, reincarnation. Religion preys on that idea that, no matter how unfulfilling life is, there will be something better.
      Peace of mind. Religion provides some entity to trust with problems and troubles. Once you accept that you can receive these without religion, or even God, then the value of religion is diminished. Very religious and holy people face problems and poor health and adversity. Can we face those with strength from within? Must we rely on mythical superpowers?
Religion makes life easier. It is a convenient set of ethics that is handed to us (usually by our parents). One does not have to think, invest time and energy, or work at it. We each live our lives by our own value system. Forming this set of values can be difficult - tough decisions and choices must be made. Buying into an existing set of values makes that process easier and absolves of responsibility for forming and adhering to our own. This is attractive with busy times, kids, etc.
Evidence of how difficult it is to establish a set of values is the numerous cults within mainstream religions. Each cult exists because it disagreed with some value in the parent cult so it broke off and formed its own 'religion' or belief system (was it King Henry who couldn't get divorced without sinning so he started his own church whose doctrine said divorce was okay?). The Southern Baptists recently disagreed on the role of the wife in a household - subservient to the husband or not. Those who disagreed formed a new division of the Baptist Church. Which belief system is true? Which was truly inspired by God? Religion is an easy club to belong to. It relies on basic primate troop behavior: masses follow the alpha leader, without having to think or decide - just go along, its easy.
Religion provides comfort. The spiritual traditions - ceremonies, the rituals, the costumed robes and hats, stained glass windows, the beautiful music - all satisfy a need for conservative tradition and shared heritage. They provide comfort, familiarity, a sense of importance, and enjoyable aesthetics. Parents found comfort in religion so they raise their children to do so, also. That provides a sense of tradition, heritage, and connection. We each seek pleasure, ease of pain (from loneliness, fear, loss) - following religion eases the pain and provides safety. In tragedy (death, loss) religion provides comfort (they are going to a better place, we'll be together again some day) and a sense of security. Maybe its as simple as stated by the French author, Alexis de Tocqueville, who studied the young nation of the USA in the 1830s:
      As long as religion rests solely on sentiments that console
      man in his misery, it can win the affection of the human race.
Following a religion satisfies social needs. Synagogue/Mosque/Church provides an outlet to see friends and have support groups. This social network satisfies a need to belong, to be accepted by a group with its bonding rituals; to be comfortable. Religion provides a sense of belonging with a shared heritage. That makes us comfortable and allows us to feel connected. That feels good. Subscribing to the ancient rituals allows us to connect to the smells, bells, and costumes and to connect to our roots, a heritage of a global connection.
Following a religion absolves one of responsibility. Trust Jesus/Mohammed, Let Jesus/Mohammed do it. God made me do it. The devil made me do it. It wasn't my fault. I sinned. My faith is weak. Not my fault.
Religion is everchanging. It is moldable - it can adapt to whims of popular culture. Even the Pope and the Catholic church have changed doctrine to suit potential followers or to keep people in the flock. Institutions and people choose parts of a doctrine that they can tolerate or agree with, and reject the rest. This helps explain how many people can 'believe' in the Bible with all its terrible requests - they choose to ignore parts or to ascribe them to acceptable interpretations. We don't see WWJD around much more - now its not appropriate with our beliefs of seeking revenge on terrorists, so we conveniently ignore WWJD and find new doctrine. Or we put our beliefs on hold when they no longer suit our values. The Mormon church would not allow Negroes to attain priesthood - now they can. The role of women throughout religious history changes to suit popular culture and pressure, not true to holy book doctrine.

Look dear, it says right here in our Bible, that you're supposed to keep quiet.

While man was made in the image of God, the view in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is that woman was made in the image of man. Her humanity, therefore, is derivative, contingent, ersatz (Gen: 2-21-22 Koran 4:1; 39.6; 7.189). Of all the animals, woman was the last to be made but the first to sin (Gen 3:12). The Old Testament puts the monetary value of a woman's life at one-half to two-thirds that of a man's (Leviticus 27). The Koran elaborates: it requires the testimony of two women to offset that of one man (2:282) and every girl deserves exactly one-half her brother's share of inheritance (4:11). God suggests in his tenth commandment that the woman next door is your neighbor's material possession which, along with his house, slaves and oxen, must not be coveted (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21).

“Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified,” former President Jimmy Carter noted in a speech to the Parliament of the World’s Religions. “The belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo.” Mr. Carter, who sees religion as one of the “basic causes of the violation of women’s rights.” “We all recognized that if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.”

There is plenty of fodder, in both the Koran and the Bible, for those who seek a theology of discrimination. The New Testament quotes St. Paul (I Timothy 2) as saying that women “must be silent.” Deuteronomy declares that if a woman does not bleed on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” The Koran stipulates that a woman shall inherit less than a man, and that a woman’s testimony counts for half a man’s.
Today, when religious institutions exclude women from their hierarchies and rituals, the inevitable implication is that females are inferior. The Elders are right that religious groups should stand up for a simple ethical principle: any person’s human rights should be sacred, and not depend on something as earthly as their genitals.

From Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith
The God of Abraham has made it perfectly clear that a woman is expected to live in subjugation to her father until the moment she is pressed into service to her husband. As St. Paul put it: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands." (Ephesians 5:22-24). The Koran delivers the same message, and recommends that disobedient wives be whipped (4:34). The suppression of women under Islam achieved hideous precision through the writings of Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), perhaps the most influential Muslim since Muhammad.

The net effect of religion (especially in the Abrahamic tradition) has been to demonize female sexuality and portray women as morally and intellectually inferior to men. According to God, if the victim of a rape neglects to scream loudly enough, she should be stoned to death as an accessory to her own defilement (Deuteronomy 22:24).

According to God, women have been placed on earth to service men, to bear their children, to the keep their homes in order, and above all to not betray them by becoming the object of another man's sexual enjoyment. And so it falls to every man to shield his women from the predations of his rapacious brothers and oblige them, until death or decrepitude, to fulfill their most sacred purpose - as incubators of sons.

More cults are forming within the Christian church. Estimated at over 300 currently, the newest are breakoffs from the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church due to a split over the ordination of gay clergy. Makes me wonder how they state that they are guided by God in their decisions. Why would a supernatural being, in his unwavering wisdom, guide groups to be so opposed to each other's doctrines? I wonder if many religions are not from God but from men. Like when Henry the 8th created a new religion since the current one in England did not allow him to divorce and, by God, he wanted a divorce; so maybe it was time for a better religion.

Freethinkers are people who have moved past emotion, familiarity, and comfort to think and reason for themselves.
• The Bible is not real.
• Religion is not real.
• Hell is not real.
• So, my faith can't be real.

If this is a ‘Christian nation’ as the ignorant people claim, then why does the USA have a Department of Defense and spend billions of dollars on the military? Didn’t Jesus teach us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. While the OT stated, An eye for an eye, Jesus changed that to turn the other cheek and love your enemies. What would Jesus do? Would he attack and kill innocent people, even in the name of ‘national security’? I don’t think we can be both a Christian nation and a murderous nation. Pick one.

The rapture: you know its absurd - over 2,000 years of Any day now!

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins lays out some absurd beliefs associated with Christianity:
• In the time of the ancestors, a man was born to a virgin mother with no biological father being involved.
• The same fatherless man called out to a friend called Lazarus, who had been dead long enough to stink, and Lazarus promptly came back to life.
• The fatherless man himself came alive after being dead and buried three days.
• Forty days later, the fatherless man went up to the top of a hill and then disappeared bodily into the sky.
• If you murmur thoughts privately in your head, the fatherless man, and his “father” (who is also himself) will hear your thoughts and may act upon them. He is simultaneously able to hear the thoughts of everybody else in the world.
• If you do something bad, or something good, the same fatherless man sees all, even if nobody else does. You may be rewarded or punished accordingly, including after your death."
After laying out this rather insane set of beliefs, Dawkins asks, “What would an objective anthropologist, coming fresh to this set of beliefs while on fieldwork in Cambridge, make of them?”

Obey God - even if he wants you to kill your own child. Love him even if he asks something horrific. Is this really a good moral lesson to teach young children? This may well scare kids. "I hope God didn't tell my parents to kill me." Picture from "My Book of Bible Stories"

Millions of people buy into this: God sends his only Son to earth knowing that He will die a painful gruesome death. Imagine having spikes driven through your hands and feet and hanging by them. What kind of a Father would choose to do that to his Son? Are those ‘family values’ we should aspire to? Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised by murder and violence among people in our Christian nation - the One we worship set the example. Many Christians explain the Son’s suffering and pain by quoting that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only [begotten] son.’ Is this the same world in which millions of God’s children are starving, dying in religious wars, in poverty, and experiencing tremendous pain and suffering, much of it caused by God? I doubt a tsunami or a tornado is the result of man’s free will. If we are all God’s children (which we can’t be since the Bible states that Jesus was His only Son), why would He not take better care of us? And why do so many of us choose to worship such a murderous uncaring being? Some believers try to find a way to reckon with these issues. They can’t find a way that makes sense, so they revert back to ‘We don’t always understand how God operates’ or something just as silly.

Religious fundamentalists brutally executed a 13 year-old girl who was convicted of adultery. She was raped by 3 men and when she reported the rape to the authorities; that amounted to a confession of adultery in the eyes of the court. “The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt.” said the presiding cleric. The girl was then dragged screaming into a soccer stadium in front of a crowd of 1,000 people, buried up to her neck, and stoned for more than 10 minutes by 50 executioners. Militia members fired on a few people who tried to intervene, killing an 8 year-old boy. The 3 rapists were not arrested. From The Week, November 2008

Virtually every unsolvable problem we’ve faced in the past has turned out to be quite solvable, and the script has nearly always been the same: a band of clever, motivated people - scientists usually - find an answer. If the popular God beliefs were true, they would have solved the world’s problems long ago. Millions of starving people clearly demonstrate the ineffectiveness of religion and prayer. For thousands of years, believers have been begging their Gods to solve the exact same problems that believers are begging their Gods to solve today. How could religion be any less reliable?

Ultimately, only the laws of science and mathematics are universal to us all. Life, therefore, must be nothing more than what we choose to make of it. We are determined, however, by natural selection to trod on and make the best of it. In short, where there is life, there's hope. Our species has but this one tiny blue dot in a vast galaxy, which itself is only one of hundreds of millions (if not billions) of galaxies.
Rather than wasting our time, resources, and energies promoting competing versions of Bronze Age goat herder myths and medieval fairy tales, how much better off we'd all be if we worked together for the betterment of our species and our planet. How much better off we'd all be (and our children after us) if we worked earnestly to believe in life before death; if we would lay aside the violence and divisiveness and credulity which have so long defined us in realms religious, and instead work together for a species free to pursue its destiny.
All humans are born without religion. Then, depending where on earth you are born, a religion is given to you. Your religion is essentially a crap shoot. Based on probability alone, if you are born in Texas or Oklahoma you will be Christian. If you are born in India there's a very strong chance you will be Hindu. If you are born across the border in Pakistan, you will most likely be a Muslim.
Does this seem ridiculous - People are killing others because of their beliefs which are a result primarily of where they were born.

Calling a birth a blessed event or a miracle is absurd
Some Americans feel that a woman giving birth to a baby is a "blessed miracle".
Sorry, but, that's just primitively ignorant. Non-religious people also give birth to healthy babies so not all births are blessed, which means there is a good chance that none of them are. What about the stillborn and birth-defected babies delivered by religious moms who prayed for a healthy baby?
Scientists and educated people know exactly how a baby is made - the procreation act, the cells dividing, the growth - everything. It is certainly awe-inspiring, but there is nothing miraculous about it. A beautiful sunset is not a miracle (its just light - different wavelengths of sunlight refracted by particles in the air). A blooming flower or a verdant tree is not a miracle. And on and on. Wonderful things to behold, but not miracles.

Many supposed miracles are explained by the Law of Large Numbers - given a sufficiently large number of chances, even highly improbable events will occur. After billions of days pass on planet Earth, eventually the slim possibility of a giant asteroid collision becomes a reality, and its resulting death to dinosaurs. After billions of human births, eventually some poor soul is born with two heads or the gear of both sexes.
A few years ago the Baltimore newspaper reported some 'spooky stats' that a baby was born on Halloween and, incredibly, each of the baby's parents was born on Halloween, as was the delivering doctor. Wow, seems like a miracle.
To gauge how long before something like this might happen again, figure roughly 100 million assisted world births annually, with 300,000 on Halloween. Of these 300,000 babies, only 1 in every 365 would have Halloween moms, or about 1,000; of which 1 in 365 would also have Halloween dads, or maybe 3 or 4 a year. Add in a Halloween doctor or midwife, and the next such occurrence won't happen for 100 years. But that's only for Halloween. If you toss in New Year's and a few dozen other special days, you're looking at this bizarre coincidence occurring every decade or so.
So, while its pretty bizarre and seems just too weird to accept, it can easily be explained - its not miraculous. Unfortunately, some people base their personal values and spiritual beliefs on the occurrence of such perceived miracles - the existence of miracles must mean there is a God. He works in mysterious ways that we just can't quite fully understand.

An objective look at the absurd Ten Commandments
From www.ebonmusings.com: Only 30% of the Ten Commandments coincide with American law. More notably, the three moral instructions are found in every law code in the world, including Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Secular governments. There is absolutely nothing inherently Christian about them. As a final kick in the teeth, murder, perjury, and theft are covered by the criminal law code, not the Constitution. So, what does that leave for the Constitution to take from the Ten Commandments? Not a single thing. Not one.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)
Those who say it does not violate the separation of church and state to post the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms and courthouses clearly have never read the Ten Commandments. The very first one explicitly commands us to worship the god of the Bible, the Judeo-Christian deity Jehovah, and no one and nothing else. How can this not be considered the most blatant violation imaginable of the First Amendment? Imagine the fit Christian fundamentalists would have if Hindus demanded to be allowed to post in public places sections from the Bhagavad Gita declaring, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Brahma"? This sort of intolerant exclusivity is the antithesis of the principles of civilized society, and stands opposed to every enlightened government's policy of neutrality toward religion. The Ten Commandments prove themselves to be a religious document, not a secular one, and as such, have absolutely no right to be displayed in public places with taxpayer money. To do so would be to give the unmistakable appearance that one religion was favored over all others and that religion in general was favored over non-religion. Who does the Religious Right think they're fooling when they argue that they should be allowed to post them in schoolrooms?

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)
The second commandment is essentially a continuation of the first one. But in its prohibition against making images of "any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth", it shows again how Western democracy is not built on the Ten Commandments; just the opposite, the Ten Commandments are fundamentally opposed to the individual rights and freedoms that must form the basis of any true democratic society. The first commandment is against religious freedom, while this one opposes freedom of expression. This commandment also says much about the personality of the Biblical god. In the space of one verse, he identifies himself as jealous, cruel and unjust, a tyrant unable to stand competition who harshly punishes the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. This absolutist decree contradicts yet another founding principle of modern democracy, the free-market economy - a plurality of schools of thought, a bazaar of ideas that have won out because they proved themselves worthy, not because of fiat on the part of a higher power. If children are to be punished unjustly for their fathers' sins, how can Jehovah then turn around and protest that he shows mercy to whoever keeps his commandments? These two statements simply cannot be reconciled.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
And we continue with the religious commandments. This one contradicts yet another of the inalienable rights granted to the citizens of progressive nations - this time, the freedom of speech. For God to threaten punishment for those who use his name in vain (i.e., in ways he arbitrarily determines it should not be used) would be like the US Congress passing a law that made it illegal to criticize the government. This commandment is not in accord with the principles of democracy; like all the others so far, it is against them.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)
It is a rule about how a specific god is to be worshiped within the context of a specific religion. The hypocrisy of those who would claim it does not violate the separation of church and state to post this on public property is breathtaking. And, again, this commandment contradicts the principles of capitalism and the free market that have made America and the other First World nations the economic powerhouses they are. Why shouldn't people be able to work whenever they choose to?

Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)
"Honor your father and mother" is too broad, too absolute, to be a good guide for behavior. Should we honor absentee, neglectful, or abusive parents? Should we honor parents who do a poor job raising their children? Should we honor parents whose religious beliefs cause them to beat their children, deny them an education, or withhold needed medical treatment from them? Loving, caring, competent parents certainly deserve to be honored. But no one automatically becomes worthy of respect merely by having a child.

Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13)
Humans had it figured out that it was bad to kill each other long before the Bible was written. But, does this mean we're not allowed to kill animals and plants for food? Does this mean we're not allowed to kill in self-defense? What about justifiable wars, abortion, euthanasia, or capital punishment? If the law is to be understood literally, as a blanket order forbidding all killing, then the Bible clearly breaks its own rule numerous times. The Old Testament prescribes death as the penalty for even the most trivial offenses and most notably, Yahweh himself orders the Israelites to wage war on their enemies on many occasions, often even explicitly instructing them to wipe out entire foreign tribes to the last man, woman and child - a crime which today we would call genocide. If such actions do not fall within the boundaries of the Sixth Commandment, then what actions can it be understood to forbid?

Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)
Whatever one might say about adultery as a violation of marital trust, a cruel thing to do to someone who loves you, and unfair to one's family - it is a consensual act between two adults - hardly worthy of inclusion in what is supposedly the most important list of laws ever codified. Why not a prohibition on the much more serious crimes of rape or child sexual abuse? Leviticus 20 lists of sex-related crimes, prohibiting incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, having sex with a menstruating woman, but, nowhere - not once - does the Bible ever explicitly say that sexually molesting children is wrong.

Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15)
Stealing in almost all cases is indeed wrong. I will therefore only note that in several verses (Exodus 3:22, Exodus 12:35-36, Ezekiel 39:10) God instructs his chosen people to steal from and plunder their enemies, and move on. And again, this ethical principle predates written history - even Paleolithic man had similar social rules in place to keep social order.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
Like the commandments against stealing and killing, this one is too absolute and not detailed enough to be a comprehensive standard for behavior. What if one can prevent a greater crime by lying - such as the Germans during World War II who hid Jewish families from the Nazis? Or, is it right to lie in situations where the truth would needlessly hurt a person's feelings? And again, few if any Western nations have laws forbidding lying (except in certain restricted circumstances, such as perjury).

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, nor thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox or ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's. (Exodus 20:17)
Redundant? Didn't "Thou shalt not steal" take care of this already? And how can you obey this one, you choose to steal, but no one chooses to covet. Thought cannot be outlawed; and why should it be, as long as you can control your actions? The free-enterprise system that forms the basis for the Western economy is fundamentally dependent on coveting. If people didn't covet, capitalism wouldn't work.

Of these ten laws, four are purely religious in nature - they serve no purpose except to dictate how to worship a specific god, and in their exclusivity they contradict some of the most fundamental individual rights that modern democracy takes for granted. Three are generally good moral principles, but they are too vague to stand on their own, and they are not among the laws of behavior that Western nations use. Two make good general rules for behavior that Western nations do use, but they are too broad and not detailed enough to be comprehensive laws, and in any event they are moral principles so simple and obvious that people and societies came up with them and knew to abide by them long before the Bible was ever written. And one is apparently redundant, duplicating the effect of another commandment, yet in a way that could never be enforced.
Three of them stand in opposition to the principles of free-market capitalism that have made First World economies so successful. Two forbid freedom of religion; one forbids freedom of expression; one forbids freedom of thought; one prohibits free speech. And for what is supposedly the most important list of laws ever created, the Ten Commandments fail to prohibit several very serious crimes that all progressive nations do have laws against. And the Bible contains many instances of divinely sanctioned breaking of these laws with impunity. These laws are not pillars of Western society. In fact, it is just the opposite; humanity had to break away from these absolutist decrees before it could establish free societies where people had rights. The Ten Commandments simply have nothing to do with the laws and order of modern civilization, and being a religious document, they deserve no place on public property; to do so would be a clear and blatant violation of the vital principle of separation of church and state.

The fundamentalists want to destroy freedom and rework America and other nations to be theocracies where their power will be absolute. Their lofty platitudes are a sham, a smokescreen to hide their true ambitions for Christian dictatorship. For the sake of humanity and our descendants yet to come, we must all fight the cancer of religious fundamentalism. We must all work together in the spirit of Jefferson and Madison (both Deists who denied the syncretic superstitions of their day) towards the day when we, as a species can leave theocracy and superstition behind us and step into the light of democracy and reason together for all time.

Calling America a Christian nation is absurd
From the Freedom From Religion Foundation

The US Constitution is a secular document.
It begins, "We the people," and contains no mention of "God" or "Christianity." Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust" (Article VI), and "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (First Amendment). The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase "so help me God" or any requirement to swear on a bible (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8).
In 1797 America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that "the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington's presidency, and approved unanimously by the Senate under John Adams.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."

What about the Declaration of Independence?
We are not governed by the Declaration. Its purpose was to "dissolve the political bands," not to set up a religious nation. Its authority was based on the idea that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," which is contrary to the biblical concept of rule by divine authority. It deals with laws, taxation, representation, war, immigration, and so on, never discussing religion at all. The references to "Nature's God," "Creator," and "Divine Providence" in the Declaration do not endorse Christianity. Thomas Jefferson, its author, was a Deist, opposed to orthodox Christianity and the supernatural.

What about the Pilgrims and Puritans?
The first colony of English-speaking Europeans was Jamestown, settled in 1609 for trade, not religious freedom. Fewer than half of the 102 Mayflower passengers in 1620 were "Pilgrims" seeking religious freedom. The secular United States of America was formed more than a century and a half later. If tradition requires us to return to the views of a few early settlers, why not adopt the polytheistic and natural beliefs of the Native Americans, the true founders of the continent at least 12,000 years earlier? Most of the religious colonial governments excluded and persecuted those of the "wrong" faith. The framers of our Constitution in 1787 wanted no part of religious intolerance and bloodshed, wisely establishing the first government in history to separate church and state.

What does "separation of church and state" mean?
Thomas Jefferson, explaining the phrase to the Danbury Baptists, said, "the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions." Personal religious views are just that: personal. Our government has no right to promulgate religion or to interfere with private beliefs. The Supreme Court has forged a three-part "Lemon test" (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971) to determine if a law is permissible under the First-Amendment religion clauses. 1. A law must have a secular purpose. 2. It must have a primary effect which neither advances nor inhibits religion. 3. It must avoid excessive entanglement of church and state. The separation of church and state is a wonderful American principle supported not only by minorities, such as Jews, Moslems, and unbelievers, but applauded by most Protestant churches that recognize that it has allowed religion to flourish in this nation. It keeps the majority from pressuring the minority.

Isn't removing religion from public places hostile to religion?
No one is deprived of worship in America. Tax-exempt churches and temples abound. The state has no say about private religious beliefs and practices, unless they endanger health or life. Our government represents all of the people, supported by dollars from a plurality of religious and non-religious taxpayers. Some countries, such as the USSR, expressed hostility to religion. Others, such as Iran ("one nation under God"), have welded church and state. America wisely has taken the middle course - neither for nor against religion. Neutrality offends no one, and protects everyone.

The First Amendment deals with "Congress." Can't states make their own religious policies?
Under the "due process" clause of the 14th Amendment (ratified in 1868), the entire Bill of Rights applies to the states. No governor, mayor, sheriff, public school employee, or other public official may violate the human rights embodied in the Constitution. The government at all levels must respect the separation of church and state. Most state constitutions, in fact, contain language that is even stricter than the First Amendment, prohibiting the state from setting up a ministry, using tax dollars to promote religion, or interfering with freedom of conscience.

What about One nation under God and In God We Trust?
Francis Bellamy wrote the oath in 1892 as a pledge of patriotism, not an affirmation of religious faith, recognizing that this nation's citizens held diverse beliefs. In 1954, Congress added, under God, and added to money, In God we Trust, also in the mid 1950s. These additions were a response to the threat from the Godless Communists. It implied, however, that belief in a Judeo-Christian deity was required for citizenship.
• In God We Trust was absent from paper currency before 1956. It appeared on some coins earlier, as did other sundry phrases, such as Mind Your Business. The original US motto, chosen by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson - E Pluribus Unum (Of Many, One), celebrated plurality, not theocracy.
Under God
Francis Bellamy wrote the oath in 1892 as a pledge of patriotism, not an affirmation of religious faith, recognizing that this nation's citizens held diverse beliefs. In 1954, Congress added, under God. These additions were a response to the threat from the Godless Communists. It implied, however, that belief in a Judeo-Christian deity was required for citizenship. The strength of the founding fathers and early Americans was lost. We were not as strong. We admitted our fears, our divided nation, and our weakness.

God Bless America
This appeared all over the landscape after 9/11. It was sung at every major event. What does it mean? Bless us? Like on the morning of 9/11? Bless us as we murder innocent Afghanistan citizens? Just what blessing are we asking for? Are we assuming that God hasn't been blessing us? If He has been blessing America; with its crime, poverty, oppression, hatred, divorce, violence, arrogance, and low value of life; then we need to stop asking God for blessings or find a more compassionate God.
Over 4,000 American soldiers have died since we began praying for our troops in Iraq.
Maybe we should have prayed for their troops. Or prayed to a different god. Why would any god bless and honor man-made boundaries and territories on a map?

Why be concerned about the separation of church and state?
Ignoring history, law, and fairness, many fanatics are working vigorously to turn America into a Christian nation. Fundamentalist Protestants and right-wing Catholics would impose their narrow morality on the rest of us, resisting women's rights, freedom for religious minorities and unbelievers, gay and lesbian rights, and civil rights for all. History shows us that only harm comes of uniting church and state. America has never been a Christian nation. We are a free nation. Anne Gaylor, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, points out: "There can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent."

A government theocracy is absurd
Wisdom from Clay: I support the separation of church and state. I don't want somebody else forcing their beliefs on me; Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or anything else. And I'm certainly not going to force my beliefs on anyone else. It manipulates a persons' free will and in my eyes that is very dangerous. Hitler did it to a great extent and look how that whole thing turned out. He nearly destroyed an entire race of humans. I also don't necessarily support the 'concept' of gay marriage, but why should I have any more right to marry than my homosexual neighbor? Because of what the Bible says? Why would I expect someone who doesn't even believe in my God (not that all gays don't believe in God, it's just an example) to follow His commands? The fact is, I shouldn't. If we had a Mormon President and he passed a law that said I could have 10 wives if I wanted, would I do it? No, because I have a choice. I live in America. I choose to believe what I want to believe, and nobody can force me to believe anything else. That's the beauty of this whole system.

God is an all knowing, all loving, and genuinely perfect being in all ways. Absurd.
Many people believe God is one who helps us and loves us unconditionally. He appears to some in dreams, or in stains in glass, and sometimes as a potato chip. He inspires many and is always there to take credit for good things. But he cannot be proven, nor is there the smallest shred of evidence of any God ever existing. The Bible is the only evidence that any Christian has of God. The Koran is the only evidence that any Muslim has of Allah. And the Bible and the Koran are not evidence. Any rationalization of a belief in God or Allah is strictly circular or an attempt to answer an unknown.
Jesus Christ is thought to be the most influential person in history. But, there is no evidence of his existence. No birth certificate, no writings by him, not a single thing. The only evidence of his existence is the Bible, and we already know the Bible is not evidence. Someone as important as the Son of God should have had more written about him in his day. Stars were formed for his birth and wise men traveled to a cave full of sheep to see him. Yet nobody thought "we should be writing this stuff down." Come on, we have knowledge of emperors and rulers from years and years before Jesus, and yet nothing from the most important man of all time?
The only thing we have are the gospels - books written by his followers nearly 70 years after his death. We all know that memories fade over 70 years, and that his followers would likely strive to make him look better than he really was. Some grandmothers can't even get their own grandkid's names straight; yet it is believed that Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John had perfect memories in their 80s. And their writings have been translated and re-translated for the needs and desires of different people and different political and social moments throughout time.

In order to believe in God, people have to create all sorts of strange excuses. These excuses and rationalizations make intelligent people uncomfortable. Using critical thinking skills, answers to the above questions make no sense at all. Instead, if one assumes that God is imaginary, a funny thing happens: the answer to every one of the above questions makes complete sense. Our world only makes sense when we understand that God is imaginary. One has to willfully discard intelligence and rationality and accept many bizarre rationalizations to believe in God.

Some refreshing honesty from Billy Graham, America's Preacher
Ask Billy Graham, January 07, 2015
Question: My cousin wants nothing to do with God. If he were a bad person or had messed up his life, then maybe he'd realize he needs God. But he's not this way, and he just laughs at me and says he doesn't see any reason to bother with God. How can I convince him otherwise? - A.G.
Billy Graham: You may not be able to convince him; it's very hard to persuade an independent, successful, self-sufficient person that he or she really needs God.

Your religion is more absurd than mine
The fallacy of conventional wisdom, from an Internet source

The Fang people of Cameroon believe “that witches have an internal organ that flies away at night and ruins other people’s crops or poisons their blood. These witches sometimes assemble for huge banquets, where they devour their victims and plan future attacks” (from Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer). The Fang really believe such crazy fairy tales, which are laughed off by those of us in the sophisticated West. You have to wonder - how can people believe such nonsense? This shows our amazing hypocrisy with respect to the esteem in which we hold our own superstitions and the mockery we express toward other people’s superstitions.

In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins lays out some fundamental beliefs associated with Christianity:
• In the time of the ancestors, a man was born to a virgin mother with no biological father being involved.
• The same fatherless man called out to a friend called Lazarus, who had been dead long enough to stink, and Lazarus promptly came back to life.
• The fatherless man himself came alive after being dead and buried three days.
• Forty days later, the fatherless man went up to the top of a hill and then disappeared bodily into the sky.
• If you murmur thoughts privately in your head, the fatherless man, and his “father” (who is also himself) will hear your thoughts and may act upon them. He is simultaneously able to hear the thoughts of everybody else in the world.
• If you do something bad, or something good, the same fatherless man sees all, even if nobody else does. You may be rewarded or punished accordingly, including after your death."
After laying out this rather insane set of beliefs, Dawkins asks, “What would an objective anthropologist,
coming fresh to this set of beliefs while on fieldwork in Cambridge, make of them?”

Those raised in this particular religion have been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is not silly, not weird, and not any less far-fetched than the beliefs of the Fang people of Cameroon. But, that prejudice has made them blind to the fact that the claims of Christianity are (like those of Islam, Hinduism, Shintoism and all the others) profoundly and shockingly weird. Christian beliefs are just as fantastically crazy as the Fang people’s beliefs.  The vast majority of humans follow only what they've been taught to follow by their parents, never stopping to think or examine their religious beliefs and hatreds, no matter how silly.

Religious hatred (as in the vast majority of the world's current wars and conflicts) is not passed on by logic and reason - no, it's passed on through family ties and strong childhood conditioning. Cyprus, Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor, Northern Ireland, Kashmir, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, on and on - all worthless fights over matters religious that others inherited from their parents before them. Dr. Dawkins sums it up: “The findings of anthropologists seem weird to us only because they are unfamiliar.  All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them.”

Ultimately, only the laws of science and mathematics are universal to us all. Life, therefore, must be nothing more than what we choose to make of it. We are determined, however, by natural selection to trod on and make the best of it. In short, where there is life, there's hope. Our species has but this one tiny blue dot in a vast galaxy, which itself is only one of hundreds of millions (if not billions) of galaxies.
Rather than wasting our time, resources, and energies promoting competing versions of Bronze Age goatherder myths and medieval fairy tales, how much better off we'd all be if we worked together for the betterment of our species and our planet.  How much better off we'd all be (and our children after us) if we would lay aside the violence and divisiveness which have so long defined us, and instead work together.

God is a human concept. God is the name we give to our belief that life has meaning, one that transcends the world’s chaos, randomness and cruelty. In Exodus God says, by way of identification, “I am that I am.” It is probably more accurately translated: “I will be what I will be.” God may be better understood as verb rather than a noun.  The name of God is laden, thanks to our religious institutions and the numerous tyrants, charlatans and demagogues these institutions produced, with so much baggage and imagery that it is hard for us to see the intent behind the concept. All societies and cultures have struggled to give words to describe these forces. It is why Freud avoided writing about the phenomenon of love. Faith allows us to trust, rather, in human compassion, even in a cruel and morally neutral universe.  This is not faith in magic, not faith in church doctrine or church hierarchy, but faith in simple human kindness. It is only by holding on to the sanctity of each individual, each human life, only by placing our faith in the tiny, insignificant acts of compassion and kindness, that we survive as a community and as a human being. And these small acts of kindness are deeply feared and subversive to institutional religious and political authorities.

I am troubled by the large number of people who choose to believe in fairy tale mythology - who swear that the God they worship is real and that all the miraculous stories in the Bible are definitely true - even the ones that show their God to be cruel and hateful. What can I do? How can we nonbelievers help the more ignorant see the error of their beliefs and the dangers put upon society by delusional and irrational thinking?
Religion provides nothing that can’t be achieved without it (love, hope, compassion, etc) except for the irrational promise that one can live forever in heaven. But religion provides a basis for hatred (against Negroes, homosexuals, girls who get abortions, etc), false hopes, poor medical practices, war, murder, and more.

Why are there 4 Gospel chapters in the Bible, each telling essentially the same story as the others? Why would the author, God, feel a need to repeat a story? Why wouldn't he get it right the first time? If its more important than the rest of the stories, why not repeat it 7 times? Or why wouldn't just twice be enough? Why not just write it once and command us to read it 4 times? If he wanted to show 4 different viewpoints, why wouldn't an all-knowing deity be able to show the appropriate viewpoint in just one try?
The most common reason given for the 4 Gospels is "Some things we were just not meant to understand. God's ways are mysterious." Sorry, that's such a lame cop-out excuse.

Some weak Christians
Whenever the government rules to remove references to religion from tax-supported entities, Christians get all upset and outraged. Is their faith so weak that removing the 10 commandments, a nativity scene, or a cross from a flag - would threaten their religion? Doesn't that speak to how shallow, weak, and fragile their faith or their religion is?
Statistics support the notion that highly religious people are less educated and less intelligent. This lack of thought shows up when Americans state that the Founding Fathers were Christians and 'if you don't like it (the way I think), you can just leave this country, the greatest country on earth'. More ignorance surfaces when Americans state that God has been taken out of schools and there is no more prayer in schools.

"My God can beat up your God."

They might as well give up, God is on our side.
They might as well give up, Allah is on our side.

Allah Bless America
The terrorists believed that they were doing God's will, serving him. Both sides feel their God is the 'right' one, their cause is the just one, their 'crusade' is the right one.

Over 2,000 American soldiers have died since we began praying for our troops in Iraq.
Maybe we should have prayed for their troops. Or prayed to a different god.

Christians and Cruise Control
Christians, by virtue of their faith, will simply vanish at the Rapture. Those that are driving will not have time to turn off their vehicles or steer to a safe stopping place. Fortunately, as one's foot leaves the gas pedal, the car will gradually slow down. However, many of those rapturees will be driving with cruise control. When they rise up out of the car, that car will become a deadly weapon to other vehicles on the highway. We need to address this emergency now, before its too late. The rapture, despite those who swear they know when it will happen, may come at any time and will be unannounced.

1. Congress should pass legislation making it illegal for Christians to use Cruise Control.
Such legislation will save countless lives. Granted, the lives saved will be those of heathens, but they should still be worthy of God's grace.
2. Disclaimers should be printed in car manuals: Cruise Control is to be used only by non-Christians. Do not use if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

3. A campaign to encourage saved Christians to not use cruise control could stave off legislation, if enough believers adhere to the request. The campaign and its accompanying graphics could make a good design project.

Jim's Prayer Book
Lord, I read in your Holy Book that you have commanded us to sell all of our possessions.
Heavenly Father, you know that I can't sell my iPhone (or give it away.)
Am I destined to suffer in Hell for all eternity?
If I lease the phone, would it technically not be a 'possession'? Would I then be okay?
Oops, new wrinkle, I'm going to exercise the Free Will you gave me - I'm not selling my air conditioner, either. Nor my coffeemaker.
Lord, do you hate me because I choose to not obey you?
Faithfully awaiting your answers.

Ten Reasons Why Christianity is absurd

Above: Chart of religious background of prisoners

33,820 denominations of Christianity. Are you sure you picked the right one?

Jesus (the Caucasian in the middle with the outstretched hand): So, I get back to Earth and they've put up all these
crosses everywhere. I'm like, What the Hell! You think if JFK comes back he wants to see sniper rifles everywhere?

Below: Fake Jesus. More accurate Jesus (a Middle-Eastern Jew). American Jesus.

Links to other religious essays
The decline of Christianity
The value of prayer
The Bible: some questions to ask believers
Stickers to place in hotel Bibles
Religious costumes
Quotes: Words of Wisdom about religion
Islam for the novice
Atheism explained
Jim's spiritual journey