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 mythical 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.

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.

Documents of the early Christian movement were a mixture of Jewish, Persian, and Gnostic beliefs, Greek mystery cults, and Egyptian concepts of the hereafter, the kind of religious diversity that flourished in the Roman Empire, until it became obvious that Roman authorities looked disapprovingly on theological differences that turned into civil disturbances. Ecclesiastics decided that peace with Rome was preferable to theological convention. Hence, with the insistence of the clerical community, clerics sought a unity of dogma in 325 that, once established with imperial favor under Constantine, made heresy and dissent unfashionable and then dangerous. That lives on. - Don Sharpes, author of Lord of the Scrolls

• 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. 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. Religious persons simply turn that part of their brain off and completely forget history. Religion, at best, is intellectual laziness, at worst, it is a social club with catastrophically dangerous global political dimensions.

Men and women who blindly follow their faith - without reason or logic - are the ones who fly planes into buildings, subjugate women, murder in the name of God, discourage birth control, strive to dictate school curriculum, demand discriminatory legislation, and on and on.
Why choose to worship a God who is that murderous, incompetent, and evil? To worship such an evil God so that one can feel better about their own problems and their acceptance into heaven seems just too selfish and insensitive to the families of the thousands of murdered people.

Believing in Jesus Christ is absurd
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 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.
- this is where we all go ew and tell our kids to step away from that silly book.

Posting the 10 Commandments is 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 an apple that she wasn't supposed to eat? And, if there is no 'original sin' then there's no need for salvation through Jesus and the basic premise of Christianity disappears.
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.
An entire religion founded on the sin of seeking knowledge.

Acts of God: tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes are absurd.
Millions of innocent men, women, children, and fetuses are brutally killed by his work.

Religious child abuse is absurd
Telling your kid they were born a "sinner" and that some monster called the devil is always chasing them to get them to do bad things; and if they don't choose to follow the "good guy" then the "good guy" himself will burn them in hell for all eternity - that is psychological child abuse. It's questionable parenting to think this mental intrusion on a kid's tender little mind is even remotely positive. This threat is only okay to you in the context of god doing it, but let some sick mind threaten to burn your kid in the basement and you'd be ready to get a shot gun and protect your kid. Why are people unable to see how horrible it is to teach your kid someone will burn them forever if they don't believe a myth?
Raze Pinter

Priests abusing boys and being protected by the Church is absurd.
An independent commission in Belgium reported that children had been sexually abused in every Catholic parish in the country. Hundreds of boys and girls were raped or molested by hundreds of priests, with some children abused over many years. At least 13 committed suicide. “None of us was prepared for the severity of some of the accounts of abuse," said a psychiatrist who headed the commission. From The Week magazine, November 2010

The Bible is absurd
If you disagree, then you haven't read it thoroughly. 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? There are even numerous discrepancies in the tales from the four authors. Some absurdities:
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

American believers are absurd

Symptoms of how gullible and naive some Americans are: 44% think Christ will actually return to Earth within the next 50 years. More than 50% of Americans believe that the universe was created 6,000 years ago (the Sumerians invented glue about 7,000 years ago). 73% believe in the existence of a place called hell (from a story in a book).
When I read about the continued efforts of religious extremists to make the USA a theocracy, I feel that our society is stepping backwards into a new Age of Mythology. While some societies move from ignorance (God of Thunder, God of the harvest, etc.) to enlightenment, America is coddling its ignorant and paranoid masses, apparently for the sake of power and control, by relying on belief in supernatural mythical characters. Statistics from PEW, Gallup, and Newsweek

Much of the old testament that is omitted by Sunday school teachers is bizarre and clearly not the work of a perfect God. Genesis is as reliable scientifically as Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mythology. The new testament is better, but there are over 100,000 discrepancies among early Christian texts. The new testament was edited first in 170 AD when Irenaeus limited the multitude of contradictory gospels to the 4 we know today and was edited again from 325-367 AD. Martin Luther put books known today by Protestants as the Apocrypha in a separate section in 1534 AD because he did not like the Catholic doctrines justified by 2nd Maccabees; Luther also expressed doubt about Hebrews, James, Jude, and the Revelation, so he moved those books to the end of the Bible. These are facts that historians can't deny. How can anybody claim the bible is 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. 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?

Why do Religious believers say that God's love is 'unconditional' when it is indeed, extremely conditional?

The myth of banning school prayer is absurd
1. One type of prayer (a personal and sincere conversation with God) is to quiet oneself, go away from the crowd, and enter into a sincere personal conversation with God that is shared from the heart and mind. This type is taught by leaders of all major religions, can be experienced at any time and in any place, and this type of prayer can never be legislated, monitored, or prohibited.
2. The other type of prayer is the insincere group rote prayer that is conducted over loudspeakers, printed in church bulletins, and recited in unison. This is usually written or printed in advance, read by one person, repeated in unison by many, listened to by many, and this type type can be legislated, monitored, and prohibited.

Which type is holier, more pleasing to God? Of course, its the first - the personal sincere conversation from the heart.
Which type do 'Christians' strive to include in society? Unfortunately, its the second.
True Christians should be seeking to ban rote prayer, the second type. Instead, many who claim to be Christian are blaming the country's ills on the Supreme Court ban, on the 'absence of prayer in schools', and on removing 'God' from our schools (how can that even happen?)
Is their faith really that fragile? Is their religion really that shallow?
Prayer has never left schools. There is no ban on prayer in school. There is no absence of prayer in school. God has never left schools. Or, at least, never left the minds of believers in school.
Yet, many 'Christians' continue to fight for insincere rote group prayer (and take time from school boards and courts on a useless debate).
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority in the Supreme Court case in Texas, says it well:
Nothing in the Constitution ... prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day. But the religious liberty protected by the Constitution is abridged when the state affirmatively sponsors the particular religious practice of prayer.
Two things have resulted from the Supreme Court ban on group, school-sanctioned, insincere, rote prayer:
• There is probably more prayer in schools, and more importantly:
The prayer is better: it is more personal, more sincere, more Christ-like.

Claiming the USA is a Christian Nation is absurd

Numerous religions are represented in the US Military. This is not a Christian nation.
Former Representative Katherine Harris of Florida says "God is the one who chooses our rulers. If you are not electing Christians, then, in essence, you are going to legislate sin."
If this is a ‘Christian nation' 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.

USA Capitalism & Christianity is absurd

(From an internet search) The modern Christian movement was formed in the 1930s by corporations who opposed the New Deal, and wanted to link free market capitalism to Christianity. The reach of this movement was massive and included things like contests for best sermon related to the free market capitalism and shipping out copies of The Road to Serfdom, that argues government power in the economy eventually guarantees tyranny. People, including Reagan and Hoover, got involved with these corporate funded groups long before the modern evangelical movement. Prior to the 40s-50s the US was not really considered a 'Christian Nation' partly why In God We Trust was not adopted as the official US motto until 1956. Other influential books: Princeton historian Kevin Kruse's One Nation Under God: how Corporate America Invented Christian America and Kim Phillips-Fein's Invisible hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal. It is frequently said that abortion is what created the religious right, however there is much evidence that, in the 60s, segregation was a main religious right motivator, which then formed the base for additional issues like abortion in the 70s.

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.
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.

Offering a product (life after death) that can only be verified when you die is absurd.
Does anyone ever ask for their money back?

Including Four Gospels in a Holy Book is absurd

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.

Sane adults joining a superstitious cult is absurd.
These cults require their adherents to believe that myths and fairy tales are true and worthy of worship and sacrifice, provide extraterrestrial saviors with no evidence at all for their existence, and require subservient actions: kneeling, bowing, meditation, and reciting of 'holy' scriptures.
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. 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.

Crash course on Islam
My father, Jim Watson (1917-2003), was a petroleum consultant who worked for many years at DeGolyer and MacNaughton in Dallas. He traveled all over the world and made many trips to the Middle East. Below is the transcript of a presentation he made in Dallas, probably sometime in the 1990s. Edited by James Robert Watson, PhD

Above right: 15th century illustration depicting Muhammad preaching the Koran in Mecca.

I was always struck by the devotion of the Arabs to their religion and how strictly they adhere to the rules and customs established by the Muslim faith through the Koran, yet how different they are from country to country. Nothing in writing has established where the first Arab came from although the Arabs were mentioned in early chronicles of the Persians, Romans, Greeks, Hebrews, and others of the pre-Christian era. It was only with the coming of Muhammad and the foundation of Islam that the history of the Arabs began to be recorded. Muhammad showed up somewhere between 570 and 580. He was a common mortal whose father died before he was born. His mother died when he was 6. He was raised first by a grandfather and then by an uncle in rather humble circumstances. At 25, however, he married a wealthy widow which gave him the opportunity to investigate the religious situation in Arabia. He was exposed to both Christian and Jewish influences through his conversations with traders and travelers whose religious knowledge was sketchy and not entirely based on fact. He was disturbed by the idolatry of his contemporaries and he recognized great differences between the disciplined religious life of the Christians and Jews and the materialistic paganism of his compatriots. He often withdrew to a cave on Mount Hira near Mecca to meditate and it was here in the year 610, when he was about 40, that he reportedly received divine insight from the angel Gabriel. After a number of visions he was convinced that he was the messenger of God and he dedicated his life to bringing about a change in the lives of the Arabs. For the next 23 years he received these visions and he would recite them to others who recorded them in a form which became the Koran. The magnificence of the poetic text uttered by a man who was basically illiterate was proof to the Muslims that he was indeed the messenger of God.

The Koran is roughly the length of the New Testament and is divided into 114 chapters called surahs which, in turn, are divided into verses or ayahs. Muslims believe that Muhammad was just the last in a long series of messengers which included Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Jesus is considered as the greatest of the prophets, except for Muhammad.

Muhammad preached of the eternal rewards awaiting those who pleased God by prayer and righteousness and the eternal punishment awaiting those guilty of murder, adultery, theft, dishonesty, and luxury. He had trouble convincing the residents of Mecca so he moved to Medina, about 200 miles north of Mecca where he was successful in converting most of the population to his way of thinking, which by this time had changed from being religious and prophetic to being more regulatory and secular. His success was so great that it wasn't long before Muhammad and his followers eased back to Mecca and conquered the city in the year 624. By 632, when Muhammad died, Islam had become the accepted way of life in Arabia. He never has been considered a saint or anything other than an ordinary man who was merely the messenger from God. The word Islam means surrender. That is, if you accept Islam, you surrender and submit yourself to the will of God. Muslims worship the same God Christians do and the word Allah is just their word for God. God is the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.

Islam differs from other religions in one major aspect. The Western mind clearly separates the two spheres of life - the spiritual or religious and the secular comprising political, economic, social, and cultural activities - separation of church and state. The Muslim makes no such distinction. Islam embraces all phases of life; it is a totalitarian system that controls all human activity. Another important difference between Islam and Christianity is that Islam has no ordained priesthood, no clerical hierarchy, and no mystic sacraments. It is strictly a lay religion - a practical one with no complicated theology and no unattainable ideals. It is for this reason that Islam appeals to less cultured societies.

There are few significant variations in the belief as there are in the Christian faith except for the fundamentalists who more strictly adhere to the rules than the run-of-the-mill Muslim. Danger arises from the fact that, according to the rules, anyone who dies in an attempt to further the cause of Islam is given an immediate pass through the pearly gates. Since it is very important that a Muslim finds eternal rest in heaven, this is a great inducement. There are two principal Muslim sects: the Sunnis, or Orthodox sect which comprises 80-85% of the total and the Shi'ites who comprise 15-20% and are a more radical group. When Muhammad died in 632 the Shi'ites argued that Ali had been appointed by Muhammad as his successor and he should, therefore, be the leader. Because this group was in the minority their will did not prevail and Abu Bakr was appointed as the first Caliph to succeed Muhammad.

The five basic dogmas of Islam
"There is no God but Allah" who is pre-existent, the creator of all things. As the Koran puts it, "He is God, the one; God the Eternal; he begets not and is not begotten; nor is there like unto him any one." he is powerful over all things and knowing all things yet is gracious, forgiving, merciful, and compassionate. He punishes only when punishment is due.
Muhammad is only the messenger of God - a warner and a prophet. He is considered equally with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus but is looked at by the Muslims as "the seal of the prophets" the last and the greatest. He performed no miracles unless it be that of the Koran - he was the means by which the Koran was revealed.
The Koran is the word of God dictated piece by piece through Gabriel.
A hierarchy of angels is headed by Gabriel. Muslims believe that the angels were created long before the world and that they perform different functions: they intercede for man; they act as guardians and support the throne of God. This belief is likely of Hebrew origin.
Judgment day is the immortality of the soul, reward for righteousness and punishment for the wicked. The Koran suggests that hell, where the damned will be scorched by burning fire, is divided into seven sections where the evil doers can be consigned according to the extent and gravity of their sins. The general picture of Paradise is an oasis of shady trees, running streams, and all facilities for rest, comfort, and enjoyment; where the faithful can enjoy a blissful eternity.

Muslims must adhere to the following acts of worship
A verbal profession of the unity of God and the prophethood of Muhammad.
Acts of prayer. A good Muslim must pray at 5 prescribed times a day and before each period he must carry out certain ceremonies of purification and ablution. Every mosque has facilities for washing, however, the worshipper often is in the desert or away from a mosque, in which case, sand or dust may be used. After washing, the worshipper stands straight and faces toward Mecca then, prostrating himself, repeats certain words or passages from the Koran. The 5 times are at early dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night. Friday noon is the only prescribed congregational prayer. The mosque itself has no pews and is unadorned with pictures. In fact, in the Arab world, you do not see photos or pictures of living things. All adornments are merely graphic designs. The approach of each period of prayer is heralded by a call to prayer by the Muezzin from the minaret. Originally this was done in person, but now in the era of electronics, this is done through a PA system, where the mosque can afford one. The call to worship is established:
         God is most great (repeated 4 times)
         I testify there is no God but Allah (twice)
         I testify Muhammad is the messenger of Allah (twice)
         Come to prayer (twice)
         Come to salvation (twice)
         God is most great! (twice)
         There is no God but Allah
Alms giving. It is the duty of all Muslims to help the needy. It is not necessarily a disgrace for one to beg since helping the poor is all part of the faith. A figure of 2.5% of your income is enough to qualify you for good treatment in the hereafter.
Fasting. The month of Ramadan is set aside for this purpose. During this 28 day period, the Muslim refrains from eating, drinking, or smoking from dawn to sunset. Since it is a lunar month it rotates around the year and is particularly arduous in the summer when the days are long. Although Christians and Jews practiced fasting before Islam, the purpose of the Muslim in fasting is not to mortify the body but to atone for evil deeds and more closely commune with God.

The fifth requirement of practical religion is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once during your lifetime. All men and women are expected to make this voyage except lunatics, single women with no male relatives, or those who really can't afford the trip. As the pilgrim nears Mecca he goes through the usual washing procedure then puts on a seamless garment and joins the other pilgrims. Guides instruct them as to the proper procedure. First, he must circle the Kaaba, the holy Place, seven times, kissing the black stone each time. This is a meteoric stone set in the southeast corner of the Kaaba. Like the Kaaba, it is a relic from pre-Islamic heathenism. Tradition says it came down from Paradise and on judgment day it will give evidence in favor of all who kissed it. Following his trips around the Kaaba, the pilgrim must run seven times between two hills as he repeats certain quotations from the Koran. Later he visits the Valley of Mina and Mount Arafat where more prayers are recited and a sermon is preached. On the way to Mina he casts seven stones at each of three pillars. These pillars represent Satan who allegedly appeared to Abraham on this spot. The sacrifice of a sheep or goat closes the ceremony and the pilgrim can then take off the special robe, shave, and return to the secular condition. While in Mecca, it is advisable to drink from the well called Zamzam, where Hagar and Ishmael once drank when they were lost in the wilderness. He should also find his way to Medina and do homage at the tomb of Muhammad. From this point on he is entitled to add the word hajj (pilgrim) before his name.

The obligation of waging a holy war has been raised almost to the status of a sixth religious duty by the more fanatical of the Islamic sects. Muslim theology divides the world into two parts: Islam the abode of peace and the abode of war which includes all non-Muslims. It is the aim of Islam to ultimately bring the whole world into Islam. These fanatics are the ones we worry about since they firmly believe that any violent act against the infidel insures their favorable reception into the hereafter where they can hob-nob with the angels.

There is relatively little crime in Saudi Arabia, which is a little more strict than other Muslim countries. Although not quite as tough as in older days, a thief gets his hand chopped off, an adulterer is put in a sack and thrown off the tallest building, and murderers are summarily executed. This sounds extreme but it gets the job done. This probably originated in days when there wasn't an elaborate judicial system in the country and some pretty basic rules of conduct were established.

It’s time to consider religion a disease that needs to be treated.
By Larry Roszkowiak
The most common symptom of religion is intellectual atrophy. When belief supersedes knowledge, the ability to acquire information and synthesize it into knowledge, falters from lack of use. In many cases, this ability produces "knowledge" that is hopelessly flawed.
External symptoms of religion can include the spontaneous and unexplained suspension of knowledge that had been both legitimately acquired and confirmed. This causes sufferers to make decisions based on faith and belief instead of facts and observations.
A symptom is the rearranging or suspension of ethical codes - of the individual, of the larger group, and the entire society.
My siblings and I were infected. As kids, we were. told, and actually believed, that somewhere there was a powerful old guy who watched everything we did and judged us We also"were told that this grand being's almighty judgments could be swayed and influenced. This influence was most commonly achieved through incantations, charms, and cash. As a child, I started to see this "god" as something akin to a crooked sports official who takes bribes, even while the match is in play.
Religion sufferers often hold a perspective that's rooted in an afterlife. This causes their interactions with their surroundings to be skewed by the belief that the events of life are of little consequence.
Unfortunately, religion sufferers are easy targets for liars. People who've contracted religion don't have to be pried off of reality, because they're already in a state of free float. Once you believe water can be walked upon, you'll believe anything.
Predators seek the vulnerable, and religion cultivates extraordinarily vulnerable people. The intellectual atrophies allow many religious sufferers to be easily turned into thoughtless followers. What they hold to be faith is often little more than a cultivated, intellectual laziness.

Nothing fails like prayer
If God listened to the prayers of men, all men would quickly have perished; for they are forever praying for evil against one another. - Epicurus, Athens, 341-270 BCE
We know that most prayer fails, but the value of prayer is that it makes those doing the praying feel better. They know God is not likely to change the preordained order of events just to suit their selfish wishes, but they feel better turning over their problems to an imaginary higher power. Prayer can provide hope and comfort for those who believe in such myths, but when it comes down to the wire concerning a medical need - most sane people would select medicine and science over prayer.

The largest and most accurate study so far of the effect of intercessory prayer, was conducted by a team led by Harvard Medical School cardiologist Herbert Benson, who is sympathetic to the idea that prayer has healing effects, and funded in large part by the Templeton Foundation, an organization devoted to the scientific improvement of our understanding of spirituality, and published in the American heart Journal. The study showed that cardiac patients who were prayed for had no better chance of recovery than those who were not. Even worse, patients who knew they were being prayed for actually did worse (possibly because of performance anxiety). However disappointing the outcome of the $2.4 million project was to the researchers, most believers are likely to remain unfazed. This has always been the quandary - science and religion are not playing by the same rules. No laboratory finding can compel a person to give up what is taken on faith. Looking to science to prove a miracle is a losing proposition, for both believers and skeptics. The skeptics continue to trust in science, the believers in miracles.

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". Sam harris, author of The End of Faith, asks - if you had to rely on only one treatment, prayer or the new medication, which would you keep and which would you give up? Wise people chose medicine.

Most people acknowledge that nothing fails quite like prayer. Every plane that has crashed probably had several people on board praying for a safe flite, victims of natural disasters most certainly had prayed to God to save them. We know most prayer fails, but the value of prayer is that it makes the one praying feel better. They know God is not likely to change the preordained order of events just to suit their selfish wishes, but they feel better turning over their problems to a perceived higher power.

3 children died without medical care.
Aaron, age 9, died of complications from diabetes after his mother did not get him medical help. She told police that she believed her son would be healed through prayer and faith.
Troy, age 4, died at his family's trailer home after being sick for a week.
Silas died hours after his at-home birth. His mother, 25, died 20 days later.
A bishop of her Church said congregations are strictly Bible-based. "We're a God-fearing people. It is our belief that God can heal any illness. I know if we put all our trust in God, he can heal us."
A man who left the church said, "They'll take their cattle to the vet, but won't take their children to the doctor. Is that messed up?" From the Tulsa World, May 2012

99 percent of Oklahoma in a severe drought
• Pastor of a church in Stillwater: "We need to pray for rain, and expect it to happen. There's nothing that takes him by surprise, and there's nothing that's out of his control. So the best thing that we could do is ask him and rely on him. It's kind of a bittersweet deal because it's the only choice we have, but it's the best choice we can make. The thing is, we ourselves can't do anything about it, Really, in times like this, faith is the most important thing." They are praying for rain to the same God who caused the drought as part of his Glorious Plan. Are they telling God his plan stinks and they want him to change to suit their needs? Seems you can't have it both ways - either you believe everything (including drought, cancer, tornadoes, and earthquakes) goes according to God's plan and prayer won't matter or you pray because you believe his plan sucks.

• "We're just hanging on, praying for rain. On Thursday nights, a few of the faithful join hands, squeeze their eyes shut, and pray for an end to the wildfires, for the thinning deer and cattle, for neighbors who have lost homes; and they pray for rain.
• "When enough people get serious and do whatever it takes to get God's attention, that's when we'll have our rain."
Shouldn't we describe this person and the thousands like him, delusional? They are spiritually ignorant, believing they can overcome God's will. How long will God wait before responding? Is there a specific number of people that have to join in before he will grant their request?
And when it does finally rain, many of these people will thank God and sing praises to his almighty power. Even with their ruined crops and the devastated livestock industry.
Isn't this what 'pray for rain' really means:
    Dear Lord, I know that you have created this drought according to your glorious plan.
    But, I don't like it and I ask that you change your perfect plan to suit me and my desires.
    I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, Amen.

Oral Roberts, the evangelist known to millions by catchphrases such as "expect a miracle," died from complications of pneumonia. His family and friends prayed and they trusted God that he would make a speedy and miraculous recovery. December 2009

A year before her disappearance, Susan Powell thought about divorcing her husband, but after fasting and praying about it, she made the decision to stay in her marriage. She was reported missing on December 14, 2009. From the article above: A prayer service attended by about 100 people. Friends and family are praying for her safe return. And on January 27, this appeal was published: "We'll keep praying." how effective were these prayers and a 24-hour fast by church members in their appeals to God?
In Febuary 2012, Susan Powell's husband murdered their two sons (apparently with a hatchet) and then blew up the house with the two boys and himself inside. He left a voicemail message: "I'm sorry to everyone I've hurt. Goodbye." After years of prayer, Susan Powell's body has yet to be found.
All prayers for her marriage, her safe return, and the safety of her children were completely ineffective.

The odds are good that every plane that has crashed had several people on board praying to God for a safe landing. There were most likely people on those 4 planes on 9/11 that were praying for a miracle, a safe resolution to the hijacking. Victims of the Katrina hurricane and flooding most certainly had prayed to God to save them.

God Bless America - we have been praying for God to bless America for about 200 years. God has sent hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods, and fires during those 200 years. His actions have killed thousands and thousands of innocent Americans. America has a high rate of crime, abortion, murder, and greed. Just how long will we wait for God to bless America?

For several decades now we have followed the suggestion to Pray for our Troops. Why do US soldiers continue to die awful deaths even though many devoutly religious people have been praying for their safe return?

A journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long time.
  "Pardon me, sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"
     "For about 60 years."
  "60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"
     "I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews, and the Muslims.
      I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop. I pray for all our children
        to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man."
  "How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"
  "Like I'm talking to a fucking wall."

Some theories why prayer fails
1. God doesn't listen attentively to our prayers.
2. God ignores us.
3. God must not like it when we tell him what to do.
4. God is just not going to intercede to save lives.
5. God listens and answers prayers but then bungles the task.
6. God is just a mythical being that we use to help us feel better.

To thine own self be true, musings from a former student
I grew up in a Christian home and attended a private non-denominational Christian school from 5th-12th grade. I asked many questions about faith, prayer, other religions, and scientific facts. But, all of my questions were answered with non-relevant answers from Bible verses or typical church answers. I wanted proof that what I was being told to believe was real. The proof never came.
During my freshman year in college. My friend was visiting in Stillwater and had to drive home pretty late to get back to Oklahoma Baptist for her campus curfew. On the way out of Stillwater, her car was hit by a drunk driver. She was immediately sent to the ER in Stillwater. After being put in ICU, the doctors told her parents and friends that there was nothing they could do and that her survival depended on the strength of her body to recuperate. For hours and hours we prayed and prayed that God would spare her life.
After her death, I continued to pray and ask that God watch over my friends. A month after my friend's death, another one of my friends drowned while kayaking. Six months later, my friend's little sister died in a horrible car wreck. A month after that, one of my best friends was murdered. During that funeral I had my last conversation with God. I asked him, Why, if he was such a benevolent God, would he take away my friends so violently? After I asked him to watch over every one of my friends, why would he do this? To prove a point? To fulfill fate? To simply be an asshole? I asked him to show me that he was sorry, or that he had a purpose. I asked him to just speak to me, to help me come to peace with what was happening to my friends.
I wondered if I was being too selfish, or maybe I was challenging God, a big taboo in Christianity. I wondered if there was something I did wrong, if I was living the sinful life. Then I finally decided that prayer just doesn't work. The only thing I understood was that this God had a plan, and praying to God wasn't going to change it. Fate is going to happen regardless, because it's fate. You might get the outcome you wanted, but it's only because fate had it planned that way.
So enough praying for your sick daughter to be healed, enough praying for people to give enough money to the church so that you can have new TVs for the youth, enough praying for the murderer of your close friend or family member to be found. Sometimes, it takes a little of yourself getting up off your ass and stop relying so much on an omnipotent being to do everything for you, especially if your daughter is sick and needs to be taken to the hospital. If you rely on prayer, you're bound to be disappointed.

Please don't pray for me
By William Hamby, edited by Jim Watson, June 2014
It feels like it's just about votes. If it is good for things to improve for me, why doesn't God just go ahead and do it? Why does he need your vote? I'd prefer not to live in a world where my success or failure, my sickness or health, and even my very life is a matter of whether or not you vote for me.
Do you believe that you are so important to God that he's actually going to change his mind just because you think he should? I doubt he is so petty and vain as to refuse to do the right thing unless enough people beg him. You're suggesting that of all the thousands of gods and religions, yours is the correct one, and you're in so good with your God that he will obey you.
You could do something that has been proven to work when someone is in need: Ask what you can do to help, and then do it. I realize that praying takes almost no effort on your part. But, it would mean a lot more if you went out of your way to do something that would immediately make things better - especially if you cared enough to ask.
If you insist on praying, please do it the way the Bible instructs:
"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. But when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

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'. 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?

The Shiloh Baptist Church in Robertsville, Missouri, sits damaged 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).

Why would an All-Powerful and All-Loving God destroy 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. 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.
6. We can't truly understand God or his motives.
7. The church buildings are destroyed by naturally occurring events (tornadoes, fires, lightning strikes) and God decides not to intervene (see reasons stated above).
8. 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.

Above left: a tornado in Joplin destroyed several churches. Above right: a church in Oklahoma City was moving to a new location and a new building. Two 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 their car, instantly crushing one of them. "He was a great Christian and a man who knew God personally and walked with God for many years." said the Reverend. How could God watch and allow his horrible death? Reverend, "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.

An 'Act of God' destroys the 'King of Kings' statue. 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.)

An earthquake in Washington DC 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?

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 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. 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.

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?

Exercising the Free Will that God gave to us all
Why do so many people choose to worship a God who would:
create a tornado, send it to an elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma, and just watch as it causes a concrete block wall to tumble onto innocent children killing seven of them, while many believers were praying to him for safety?
watch a young man in Connecticut slaughter innocent schoolchildren and who just watched their faces get blown off and splattered onto their classmates, while many believers were praying to him for safety?
create a tsunami, send it to populated areas, killing over 200,000 innocent men, women, and children, while many believers were praying to him for safety? (The tsunami was a result of the poor job God did in creating the earth - his continental plates are still scraping by each other.) he also aborted a large number of fetuses that were in pregnant women.
watch airplanes fly into buildings when he has the power to veer those planes off their intended courses, while many believers were praying to him for safety?

To call somebody ignorant is not an insult. All of us are ignorant of most of what there is to know. If, for example, someone does not believe in evolution, that person is one of these: ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked. To refer to that person as ignorant is to pay him/her a compliment - one is assuming that he/she is not stupid, insane, or wicked. However, a 2004 Newsweek poll shows that 48% of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form in the past 10,000 years. Are those people ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked?

A true belief system of love
When I was a Christian, I was required - required, no choice, I had to - believe that all Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Atheists would spend eternity suffering in hell. Billions of people on the planet right now, I had to believe, would suffer once they died. Friends, family, children - all destined to suffer horribly.
A Muslim is required to believe that Christians, Jews, and Bahais will spend eternity in hell. Billions of people. Suffering.
As an Atheist, I can (and do) believe that nobody has to suffer in hell. Not a single person. No one.
Now, which belief system is one of love?

Tests on religion's effectiveness
Many churches continue to focus on their numbers of baptisms and members to gauge whether they're doing a good job of reaching people for Christ. One needs only a general study of the ministry of Jesus to realize the lack of emphasis he placed on these. Better standards would be:
Is there hunger and poverty in the world?
Are children being abused and some of our elderly being neglected?
Are drugs and alcohol abused?
Is anyone being denied the medicine and medical care they need?
Is there still crime? Racism?
 Are there orphans who need loving homes?
Do the lonely and depressed still seek solace in suicide?
Are homes still being torn apart by divorce, hatred, and dissension?
There are more appropriate indicators of whether we're doing a good enough job of reaching people for Christ. Counting the number of people who pass through baptismal waters or put their name on church membership rolls each year has little to do with whether we're really doing the work of Christ. But it is a lot easier. By DL Tucker, Altus, The Oklahoman

    Do we need religion to alleviate suffering?
    Do we need religion to do good works?
    Do we need religion to love others?
    Do we need religion to feel good about ourselves?
    Do we need religion to have hope?
    Do we need religion to feel guilt?
    Do we need religion to feel shame?
    Do we need religion to feel arrogant and superior?
    Do we need religion to be intolerant of other's beliefs?
    Do we need religion to hate?
If there are other ways to do those things, then why do we need religion? Do we really have to believe in superstitious fairy tales to love our neighbors, refrain from killing people, or find a purpose in life?

What defines a ‘good person'?
Do no harm to others
Do no harm to other's property
Use products that respect the environment, minimize waste,
help others, take care of the sick and needy
Work towards peace, tolerance, and cooperation
Be courteous and considerate of others
Be an independent thinker, with skepticism
Work at being physically healthy
Does one need to be religious to accomplish anything on the list above? Some people believe that a person is defined as ‘good' only if he/she believes in weird superstitious and supernatural events. Delusional beliefs do not make someone good. Christopher Hitchens says there's something inherently insulting about the proposition that we humans would be incapable of choosing right from wrong if we didn't fear that a despot up in the sky would condemn us to hell. Another flaw in the assumption that we need religion to choose good behavior over bad. If that were the case, this world - which is full of believers - would be a far better place.

When I was a devout Christian, I kept the Sabbath somewhat holy - I fasted (only juice and water) and spent the day in quiet meditation after church and I would read the Bible each day, often memorizing a verse before going to sleep. I also refused to buy car insurance. Before starting the car, I would pray for a safe trip and for God to protect me, the car, and others from harm. I realized that if I paid for car insurance (beyond the state-mandated minimum) that I would be insulting God. "Lord, I know I have prayed for you to protect my car and I do believe that you will, but, you know, just to be safe (because I really don't think you'll take care of me) I bought some car insurance. Hope that doesn't piss you off. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, Amen." It really did seem to be a lack of faith if I bought car insurance. Jesus instructs us to believe with all our hearts, with faith and trust. So I did - and I refused to pay for more insurance than required by law.

The other day, I asked a 'Christian' if she paid for car insurance beyond the state minimum. She said she did. I mentioned that it seemed that was an insult to God and a sign that she did not trust the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe. She was aghast, "No, I trust him." Then why pay for insurance? "Well," she said, "it doesn't make sense to not have additional car insurance." I remained silent and let the absurdity of her comment sink in - it doesn't make sense for God to take care of us and our property and it doesn't make sense to trust implicitly in God's grace and protection. She was somewhat confounded as she now had to wrestle with this conundrum of reason and faith.

Although Robert Langdon studied religion for years, he was not a religious man. He respected the power of faith, the benevolence of churches, the strength religion gave so many people, and yet, the intellectual suspension of disbelief that was imperative if one were truly going to 'believe' had always proved too big an obstacle for his academic mind. "I want to believe, but its not that easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of miracles - immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The Bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture, they all carry similar requirements - and similar penalties. They claim that if I don't live by a specific code that I will go to hell. I can't imagine a God who would rule that way." From Angels & Demons:

Numerous studies confirm that the more intelligent one is, the less likely one is to be religious. Albert Einstein spoke about religion in an ambiguous way - the religious and non-religious have been searching his remarks for evidence that he was on their side. In May, 2008, a newly unearthed letter, written in 1954, was put up for auction in London. In that letter, Einstein called religion a "childish superstition" and "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses." he described the Bible as "a collection of honorable but still primitive legends." I guess that's about what you'd expect from one of the smartest people in history.

Religion May Be heading for Extinction in Parts of World
From FoxNews.com: A study, conducted by the American Physical Society, finds that religion may become extinct in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Researchers from the University of Arizona and Northwestern University took data stretching back 100 years for those countries.
"In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40 percent, and the highest number, 60 percent, was in the Czech Republic. The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction."

The study also found that "Americans without affiliation comprise the only religious group that is growing in all 50 states."
"In 2008 those claiming no religion rose to 15 percent nationwide, with a maximum in Vermont at 34 percent," the study says.

Today, Christians predominate in the USA. Among the least religious countries are Norway, Iceland, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, and Denmark; all have lower rates of homicide, teen pregnancy, teen abortion, illiteracy, and infant mortality; and greater life expectancy than the USA. They're also more inclined toward peace. Their policy decisions generally are based on rational discourse. In today's world, perhaps we'd be better off relying more on sound reasoning and less on unquestioning faith.

New England states and Alaska were among the least religious states. Oklahomans ranked 7th in worship attendance and 12th in frequency of prayer. 80% of Oklahomans believe in God with absolute certainty. This helps explain why Oklahoma ranks near the top in incarceration of women; household hunger; divorce; smoking; methamphetamine laboratories; youngest age to get married; teen births; and prevalence of obesity - and near the bottom in women's progress economically, socially, and politically; teacher pay; and population covered by health insurance.

Studies have long shown that the more intelligent one is, the less likely one is to be religious (religion defies logic, reasoning, and rationale thought). This chart is similar - addressing proficiency in writing to a variety of religions. Protestant is lowest and Atheism is highest.

Hummers for Jesus

Now, this is a beautiful hummer with lots of accessories - about a $60,000 car. A woman saw me shooting these photos with my phone and stopped to ask if I was admiring the car. I paused, not sure of how much I should tell her. I decided to tell the truth - that I was intrigued by the car and the LifeChurch decal on the back window - "I doubt Jesus would have bought a pimped-out hummer." her smiled drooped as she contemplated what I was saying about 'Christians' and priorities. She had no response to WWJD?
When Jesus returns to Earth, I hope he doesn't see this hummer. He may get angry - just as he did when he saw the moneychangers in the Temple.
LifeChurch is a mega-church in Edmond, Oklahoma. $60,000 is well above the annual salary for the average American. Granted, most Christians are not very Christ-like, but this flaunting of one's religion and one's fancy vehicle seems too inappropriate. Christians can have 'nice things', but a hummer is just blatant excess, well beyond a 'nice thing'. No one needs a hummer (unless their psychiatrist has prescribed it to compensate for paranoid insecurities, low self-esteem, or a really small penis).
If you buy a Mercedes, don't announce your belief in God We Trust. "I don't mind some of God's children going to bed hungry, I just trust him to provide me with a Mercedes." I have read the Bible many times and can think of no verse in which Jesus instructs us to buy expensive cars. Mostly, he says just the opposite. But, that may not apply here as most Christians do not read the Bible. When I pointed out to a female friend that the Bible says women should serve men and be quiet in church, she replied, "No, that can't be right!" I asked if she had read the Bible. No, only what is mentioned in church.
The Bible is like a software agreement - nobody reads the thing, they just click 'Agree'.

No woman wants an abortion, yet a million American women have them, every year.
The media and the religious right have made a big deal about abortion. The issue should be broken down into its two main components.
One part is to decide 'when does life begin?' Does life begin at conception - sperm into egg - or when the embryo is self-sufficient, when it can support its own life without nutrients from the mother? Many preachers have found evidence in the Bible that states that life begins at the moment of conception. Of course, they won't apply logic or reason - they take that "evidence" at face value and assume it to be true. Logically an embryo of a few split cells wouldn't stand up to scrutiny to determine its sufficiency as a 'life'. According to the Bible, a fetus is not a living person with a soul until after drawing its first breath:
Genesis 2:7 - God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being."
Job 33:4 - "The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life."
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a fetus is considered to be anything other than living tissue and it does not become a living being until after it has taken a breath. This means that a stillborn would not be considered a human being either. Of course, every living sperm has the potential of becoming a human being although not one in a million will make it; the rest are aborted.
In 1973, W A Criswell, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, said: "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed."
Important: If abortion was such a grievous sin, Jesus would have mentioned it. He said nothing.
If life doesn't begin at conception, then abortion is not murder. In the 1987 brief to the Supreme Court, Webster v Reproductive health Services, 12 Nobel Laureates and 155 other distinguished scientists declared that 'personhood' was not possible until brain development permitted consciousness - during 28-32 weeks of gestation (similar to the Jewish position, Genesis 1:27 & 2:7). Over 99% of abortions are performed well before the 28th week; the small number afterward are only for very serious medical reasons.
The other part is to decide what role the government should play in making these very personal decisions for women. Most people are opposed to abortion. Hardly anyone thinks its a good idea to remove embryos/potential people from a mother. Pro-Choice does not mean Pro-Abortion. People who support choice for women are usually anti-abortion but, more importantly, they are anti-government intervention. The preachers and the sheeple (sheep people) are attacking, figuratively and literally, Pro Choicers as anti-Christian, anti-decency, and pro-abortion.
Aborting a fetus is probably harmful for many women - to their sense of self, their guilt, and their feelings of evil in killing a potential child. We can most certainly do a better job of educating women and men about the consequences of getting an abortion. But making marijuana illegal does not solve its problem, in fact, it probably makes it worse. Making underage drinking illegal doesn't stop underage drinking. Making getting an abortion illegal most likely will not solve the problem and may even make it worse - some women will continue to see abortion as an option for an unwanted pregnancy. The abortion issue does need to be addressed - but by education, not legislation.

Those who say, "If you're a Christian, you have to be against abortion, and therefore you must vote Republican," are simply reciting talking points from false teachers. If you don't like abortion, don't have one. But don't judge others who may be in terrible circumstances that you can't possibly understand. Especially when your judgments are based on a politically motivated and questionable interpretation of the Bible.

From the Oklahoma City newspaper: It has been conservatively estimated that there are 1 million abortions each year. Since most women do not get abortions casually, its reasonable to assume that many of these fetuses would have become unwanted children. In 2001, 542,000 children were in foster care; of these, only 4 percent were in pre-adoptive care. What would happen to social services if almost a million more children were added to the foster rolls each year? When those who oppose abortion volunteer to adopt all these children, then we can consider their ethical concerns a little more seriously. Outlawing abortion won't end abortions, it will simply force some women to seek poor care or travel long distances to a doctor who does care.

Through all history, women have ended pregnancies somehow. They feel so strongly about this that they will attempt abortion even when it's illegal and unsafe.
In decades past, many American women died from botched abortions. But with abortion's legalization, "those deaths virtually vanished. If doctors and nurses do not step up and provide these services or if so many obstacles and restrictions are put into place that women cannot access the services, then the stream of women seeking abortions tends to flow toward the illegal and dangerous methods."

Religion too often demands belief in physical absurdities and anachronistic traditions despite all scientific evidence and moral progress. They speak of life's preciousness when railing against abortion but fail to acknowledge how they can support war, the death penalty, or governments that do nothing for people in perilous need.

Some refreshing honesty from Billy Graham
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?
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.

Display of arrogant ignorance

These are two large Interstate highway Crosses: one in Effingham, Illinois and one in Edmond, Oklahoma. As a devout Christian, I read and studied the Bible many times. I could never find any verses in which Jesus recommended that his followers spend money on large structures of the symbol of crucifixion. If you know of any Bible verse that confirms that Christians should build such ostentatious structures, please email me at the address below. Thanks.

Satan must work for God.

Here's the system: When people die, God passes judgment and decides where their souls should spend eternity. If its hell, then he must ask his fallen angel, Satan, to help him out. "Satan, old buddy, would you do me a favor and torture these sinners for all eternity? Make them suffer? Thanks, I owe you one."
So the two work in tandem, God sends them, Satan punishes them.
But, wait, doesn't Satan defy God and try to usurp his power? Why would Satan cooperate with his sworn enemy? Seems it would be more likely that when God asks for Satan's help to punish the sinners, Satan simply says, "No!" Or he says Yes, and then, just to spite God, allows the sinners to relax in a La-Z-Boy recliner watching TV (but no 'reality' shows), with the remote, an air conditioner, nachos, and a cooler of cold beer.

A few musings on religion from social media
I often hear that, for many people, God is necessary in their daily lives because, through God they find the strength to overcome the struggles of daily life. The wonderful thing is that when you finally recognize that God doesn't exist, the only thing left to realize is that the strength formerly found in God was within you the whole time. You have all the healing powers of hope, determination, and optimism within yourself. All you needed was to cast off the useless weight of religion to truly enjoy it.
Symptoms of how gullible and naive some Americans are: 44% think Christ (a character from a book) will actually return to Earth sometime in the next 50 years. More than 50% of Americans believe that the universe was created 6,000 years ago (the Sumerians invented glue about 7,000 years ago). 73% believe in the existence of a place called hell (again, from a story in a book). Its little wonder why we are fighting holy wars, murdering the non-believers, and clutching to religious icons.
When I read about the continued efforts of religious extremists to make the USA a theocracy, I feel that our society is stepping backwards into a new Age of Mythology. While some societies move from ignorance (God of Thunder, God of the Harvest, etc.) to enlightenment, America is coddling its ignorant and paranoid masses, apparently for the sake of power and control, by relying on belief in supernatural mythical characters. - Statistics from PEW, Gallup, and Newsweek.
What Intelligent Designer came up with cancer and toothaches? Who ‘designed' your appendix and tonsils, organs that do nothing but get infected and cause you grief? How intelligent is the famously fragile human spine or the narrow pelvis that makes childbirth harder for humans than for almost any other species? There are evolutionary explanations for all of these, but I hardly think there was much intelligence in designing halitosis, acne, and flatulence. - Lawrence Dorr, Letters, Time magazine
Brad Pitt, born in Shawnee Oklahoma, grew up in Springfield, Missouri, in a conservative Southern Baptist family. As a kid, he had lots of questions, such as “If I'd grown up in some other religion, would I get the same shot at heaven that a Christian has?" During high school, his religious doubts increased “I had crises of faith. I'd go to Christian revivals and be moved by the holy Spirit, and I'd go to rock concerts and feel the same fervor. I was told - ‘That's the Devil's music! Don't partake in that!' I wanted to experience things religion said not to experience." By the time he entered college, Brad had scuttled his fundamental beliefs. “When I got untethered from the comfort of religion, it wasn't a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self. I had faith that I'm capable enough to handle any situation. There's peace in understanding that I have only one life, here and now, and I'm responsible." - Parade magazine
I'll worship God as soon as I find one that is up to my moral standards. If I were God, I would have stopped those planes on 9/11, not have sent that tsunami to Japan, nor tornados to Joplin and Oklahoma; I would erase cancer for all children, feed the hungry, and stop suffering. Wouldn't you act similarly? Why worship a God that's not as nice or as moral as you are?
In 2009 16 Hindu diners went to a New Jersey restaurant, Moghul Express, and ordered vegetable samosas. But, people in the group realized they had actually eaten a meat-filled version of the pastry. Now, the group wants the restaurant's owner to pick up the tab for a trip to India's Ganges River, where they say they must cleanse themselves in order to save their souls after eating the meat.
Let me see - these people believe they must fly to India to wash in a specific river or their God will send them to hell for accidentally eating some meat. And these people choose to worship such a God.
God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller as time goes on. - Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Religion is an old relic that is no longer needed in today's society. Mankind is capable of so much more but it is being held back by 2000+ year old superstitions. It's time for us to embrace our future by moving away from religion.
Christians believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and they say that atheists are the ones that need help? - Dan Barker
If the faithful could stand outside of their delusion for a minute they would likely be shocked at how ridiculous their claims are.
Why do so many black people embrace Christianity when it has such a history of oppression and servitude?

That's God holding her up.

The woman above weighed 433 pounds; her health was in jeopardy. Chris, from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, worked daily with her for months. She wasn't able to control her eating on her own, but with the constant help, guidance, and sacrifice of her trainer Chris, she lost 202 pounds! Later interviewed on ABC:
"I give all the credit to God."  
How rude, inconsiderate, ignorant, insensitive, and mean. Shouldn't some of the credit go to Chris and some to herself? And where was God while she was overeating and getting dangerously obese.

Lets try this one more time.
Texas Governor Rick Perry initiated a Christian rally in Houston's football stadium. Perry, "Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy."
Some questions:
Haven't we asked Jesus to guide us through struggles (1929 stock market crash, years of the Dust Bowl drought, Iraq War, 9/11) before? Since he didn't do it then, why would he now?
If we are a 'Christian nation' founded by Christians, why would America even have to struggle?
Shouldn't we thank the Founders and the soldiers for our freedoms? Is Perry giving them the shaft? Are we, instead, to thank this fairy tale character?

This is so sad on two levels.

At a Texas Rangers baseball game in 2011, outfielder Josh Hamilton picked up a foul ball and tossed it toward fans in the bleachers behind a scoreboard. The toss was too short. A man in the front row with his 6-year-old son reached for the ball, leaned over the railing and fell headfirst behind the left-field wall - as the entire crowd gasped. The man, officer Shannon Stone had taken his son to the ball game. They even stopped on the way to the stadium to buy a new glove so they could catch a foul ball.
Josh Hamilton's Christian faith is a big deal in his life. Later, Hamilton said: "All I can think about is praying for them and knowing that God has a plan. You don't always know what that plan is when those things happen, but you will."
What a horrible thing that to say - this child saw his father fall, screamed, rode in the ambulance, and probly watched his father die. Hamilton who threw a lob that was a bit too short, suggests that God had planned this horrible death. And that Cooper might not understand it, but he will someday.

Gun maker swears on the holy Bible

This full-page ad ran recently in a popular monthly magazine. But rifles and the Bible? Selling rifles seems about as far from the teachings of Jesus Christ that you can get. Of course, the ad is probly aimed at the conservative Republican FoxNews Christian gun owner who won't see the contradiction nor the insult to God.

Look at this campaign logo. There is a church steeple with a cross on top and a flag flying from the steeple. The cross is above the flag and the flag (government) is emanating from the church. This is frightening. Can you imagine what would happen to freedoms in America if we became a Christian fundamentalist theocracy?
Another reason to keep religion out of government is that we won't be able to agree on which religion should dictate policy. There are hundreds of Christian denominations alone, even if we ignore the belief systems from Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and all the others that are represented in America. As a state senator, I doubt Pastor Blair would be able to govern in an unbiased manner for Jews, Muslims, and non-believers (each of whom Paul is required to believe will suffer for all eternity in hell).

Is God a comic or just cruel?
A former employee raped a 13-year-old girl in a church stairwell at a megachurch in Tulsa. He also admitted to forcible oral sodomy of another child and making a lewd proposal to another 12-year-old child. He apologized to the girls, then summarized a Bible verse in which Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. No one's perfect." Five other employees of the church, including the son and daughter-in-law of the pastor, face charges - accused of waiting two weeks to report the rape of the 13-year-old girl. God watched what happened in that stairwell as the man forcibly raped the girl.
Questions: Was God smiling? Did he enjoy watching? Did he consider intervening? Did his perfect plan for that girl include the trauma of rape? Did his insistence that we have 'free will' override the safety and health of his innocent children?

A horrible message

Messages such as this - posted as wise sayings - are a major reason why I have evolved from a devout Christian to a devout atheist.
The mind is a lousy master, but a wonderful servant!
The human mind is capable of much more than just being a servant and obeying superstitious myths. Notice that across the street is a Middle School - I wonder what those teachers think of this message across the street. Teachers strive to enlighten young people and encourage them to use their minds to question, research, and explore.

Another Bible-believer who hasn't read the Bible

He has a tattoo of the verse in Leviticus that has a reference to homosexuality being an abomination. A few verses later in Leviticus 19:28 is this verse (New International Version): Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

Blinded by their faith
After a father scolded his son for poor grades, the son went up to his bedroom and blew his head off. The father said that he put logic aside and trusted God's almighty wisdom. This is the question I asked them on their website:
Hi, thank you for your inspiration. I need some help with some better understanding.
I realize that God has a Perfect Plan for each of his children and that his Plan included your son, his horrible death, and your suffering (and the intense suffering of all parents for whom God's Plan includes a violent death for a child). I can accept that - when we choose to accept the Lord's Plan, we must accept it all, the good and the bad. But, I don't understand why so much violence, death, and suffering fits the plan of a Loving-God for his children.
Where I need help - I have a hard time choosing to worship such a cruel Father - one whose Plan is for us to experience such intense hurt and loss. We state that he loves us and that he is all-powerful; but, why should I honor, respect, and worship such cruelty?
Do you have any tips on how I can worship such a God?

From James Randi
I suggest that we might want to depose this incumbent God and start dealing with The Real World. He's proven - time and again - to be cruel, capricious, and vindictive. He drowns, crushes, burns, and starves millions of us every day. He created cancer, viruses, and germs to invade and destroy our bodies as he sees fit, and uses them very effectively. In his wisdom, he directed those in charge to impede stem cell research so that such a powerful approach would not be available to us and he wouldn't have to strain the Divine Intellect to disarm that defense. We amuse him as we flail about vainly trying to appease him. I vote that we dump him.
The power of god is all around us: Katrina, 9/11, tsunami, Iraq and Afghanistan, Joplin tornado. Since 2000, God has been directly responsible for the murder of thousands, most of whom were innocent, and including children and babies. While we may not understand nor be comfortable with his methods, we must respect, worship, and fear his awesome power as a brutal murderer.

God allows college student to die after tweeting, 'Thank you God'
A student at Gardner-Webb University, who was in a religion class, has died after she collapsed in class on her 21st birthday. She had tweeted that day, "Thank you God for another year of life." An emergency medical technician who is a student in the class helped with CPR until an ambulance arrived. Patterson died - she was a senior majoring in religious studies. - The Associated Press, January 2012

Why do so many 'Christians' not follow the teachings of Jesus?

Tim Tebow is a great sales rep for atheism. He reminds us each game just how ignorant many Christians are - is there a Bible verse in which Jesus instructs us to demonstrate our faith in a showy display in front of millions of people? No, but there are, however, verses such as these:
Matthew 6:1
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:5-6
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - New International Version, 1984
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. - New Living Translation, 2007
Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. - New International Version, 1984
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. - English Standard Version, 2001

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 7,000 priests have been accused of sexual impropriety since 1950.
More than 16,500 victims identified to date, although there is no national database.
$3 billion in settlements and therapy bills for victims, attorneys fees, and costs to care for priests pulled out of the ministry.
How many people could have been fed, housed, and helped by that 3 billion dollars?

The Catholic Church 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.

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 Pope-mobile 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 showing 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 abuse boys, even his priests
torture, like during the years-long holocaust or American slavery
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?

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. How many of those thousands of deaths did God watch until he had enough?

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 does God choose to watch innocent children in 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.
I can accept that there might be an evil, cruel, vengeful god who demands love and adoration. But, I don't understand why millions of people choose to worship and obey him and join this evil cult.

Where was God?
By Sam Harris
New Orleans was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. People died, thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and over a million have been displaced. 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 people 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. And yet, a Washington Post poll found that 80% of Katrina's survivors claim that the event has only strengthened their faith in God.
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.
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?

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, 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.
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?"

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.

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. The world has millions who will kill in order to make someone else believe as they believe.

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 seems that God greatly enjoys seeing immense amounts of suffering.
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. 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 absurd 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.
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 even administer the punishment; all it does is say that it will happen.

Why Christianity is successful
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. 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 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. That makes us comfortable and allows us to feel connected. That feels good.
Religion absolves one of responsibility. Trust the Lord. 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.
Myths of hell and Satan, fire and suffering, are powerfully frightening. Fear is exploited by religious leaders when logic or understanding won't work. 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 playing on their subject's insecurities and fears. They sought control and  amassed large followings of people who sought spiritual fulfillment without having to think.
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 provides comfort. The spiritual traditions - ceremonies, the rituals, the costumed robes and hats, stained glass windows, the beautiful music. They provide 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.
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. 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.

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.

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.

St. Paul: "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).

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

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.

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.

An objective look at the absurd Ten Commandments
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, 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)
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.

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.

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.

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 9/11 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.
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.
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. An ad 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.

Below: Chart of religious background of prisoners:

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

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

Some questions to ask Christians
From a variety of sources, edited by Jim Watson

Most of the following questions can only be answered with absurd excuses like "the Lord works in mysterious ways." or "We're just not meant to understand."
Why does God care if he is praised? Why does God need to be "served", and why can't we just do it from heaven?
God is this all-knowing, superbeing - why would he care if we mere sinful humans gave him credit for creating the universe?
How can a merciful loving God, send all non-Christians to hell?
Even the good ones. People from before Christ was born have gone to hell. However, terrible people, including Hitler, George Bush, and Jeffrey Dahmer, could go to heaven if they repented before death. How could he claim to be all-loving and yet create an endless hell and consign millions of people to it simply because they choose to not worship him.
Why do people with poor eyesight have to go to hell?
Leviticus 21:20 states that people may not approach the altar of God if they have a defect in their sight.
Are haircuts really forbidden?
It is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27 for men to get their hair and beards trimmed.
Do women really have to shave their heads before they can marry?
Trimming her nails and changing clothes I can understand, but why must she shave her head? (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)
Are women forbidden to wear men's clothing? Even women in business?
Deuteronomy 22:5 - A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing; God detests anyone who does this.
What is the best punishment for farmers? Stoning or burning?
Farmers sometimes violate Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as do their wives by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (linen/wool or cotton/polyester blend). Does the whole town have to stone them (Leviticus 24:10-16)? Could they just be burned to death, like those people who sleep with their in-laws (Leviticus 20:14)?
Is my grandmother in heaven able to hear me fart and watch me have sex?
Do you think it makes her uncomfortable?
Do I really have to get rid of all my possessions? Have you?
Luke 18:18-22: "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Why does Jesus say to ‘hate' everyone who does not give up everything to be his disciple?
Even though the Bible says to love thy neighbor - Luke 14:26-33: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."
Why did Jesus ask his father (himself), "Why hast thou forsaken me?"
He certainly knew God's (his) glorious plan and that it would result in his crucifixion? Was he just talking to himself? Was he scared? Did he regret going along with the plan to send him to earth?
Why won't God heal amputees?
We know that amputated legs do not spontaneously regenerate in response to prayer - amputees get no miracles from God. Does God just ignore amputees when they pray for miracles? "God must have some kind of special plan for amputees" - so you invent an excuse and then you stop thinking about it because it is so uncomfortable.
Why are there so many people starving?
As a Christian, you believe that God cares about you and answers your prayers, but you also notice that thousands of children are dying of starvation. It really is horrific. Why would God be worried about your life, while at the same time ignoring the prayers of these desperate, innocent little children? It really doesn't make any sense. To explain it, you have to come up with some sort of very strange excuse for God - "God wants these children to suffer and die for some divine, mysterious reason." Then you push it out of your mind because it does not fit with your view of a loving, caring God.
Why does God allow innocent babies to be born with defects or be mentally retarded?
Why does God cause or permit disasters?

Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, and floods kill thousands of innocent men, women, children, and fetuses each year.
Why does God create or permit incurable illnesses?
Most of those afflicted with cancer, Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy, and other diseases are decent and innocent people.
Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people?
      Genesis 22:2 - God commands Abraham ‘Take your only son Isaac, whom you love, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.'
      Exodus 22:18 - A command of Moses: "Do not allow a sorceress to live."
      Exodus 35:2 - God demands that we kill everyone who works on the Sabbath day.
      Deuteronomy 21:18-21 - God demands that we kill disobedient teenagers.
      Deuteronomy 22:13-21 - God demands that we kill girls who are not virgins when they marry.
      Matthew 15:22-28 - And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
      Samuel 15:3 - This is what the Lord Almighty says... ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant.'
There are lots of verses like these. Why would a loving God want us to murder our fellow human beings over such trivial matters? Just because you work on the wrong day of the week, you must die? If you think about it, you realize that it doesn't make sense. So you create some kind of rationalization to explain these verses (or you just ignore them).
Why did God allow Adolf Hitler to order the killing of innocent adults, children, and babies?
    Why did God allow the planes to hit the twin towers?
    Why does God allow child abuse?

If its because of 'free will', then why should we bother worshipping him at all?
"Fair Babylon, you destroyer, happy is he who repays you for the evil you have done us! happy is he who seizes your children and smashes them against the rocks." - Psalm 137:8-9 (NIV)
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother." - Jesus as told by Matthew 10:34-35 (NIV)
"From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths." - 2 Kings 2:23-24
Do you favor a large military force?
American Christians and the Republican party favor a massive well-equipped military. Where, in the Bible, does Jesus tell us to spend a disproportionate amount of money on our military? Did Jesus tell us to turn plows into swords and to attack and murder our enemies?
Do you agree with how God treats women?
"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." - I Corinthians 14:34-35 (NIV)
"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
"If a man (meets) a virgin who is not pledged to be married and (he) rapes her ... He must marry the girl ... He can never divorce her as long as he lives." - Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NIV)
"Have you allowed all the women to live? He (Moses) asked them ... Now ... kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." - Numbers 31:1-18 (NIV)
or how he treats teenagers? or families?
"He that curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death." - Exodus 21:17
"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 (NIV)
"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." - Matthew 15:22-28
or workers?
"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
Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense?
We know how science works - we happily use the products of science every day: car, cell phone, microwave oven, TV, computer. These are all products of the scientific process. Science is incredibly important to our economy and to our lives. But the Bible contains all sorts of information that is scientific nonsense:
      God did not create the world in 6 days 6,000 years ago.
      There was never a worldwide flood that covered mountains.
      Jonah did not live inside a fish's stomach for three days.
      God did not create Adam from a handful of dust. or Eve from Adam's rib.
Why would an all-knowing God write such nonsense? Because it makes no sense, we have to create some strange excuse to explain why the Bible contains such nonsense.
Why is God a proponent of slavery?
      Exodus 21:20-21 - God says that it is OK to own slaves, and it is also OK to beat them.
      Colossians 3:22-24 - Slaves need to obey their masters.
      Ephesians 6:5 - Slaves need to obey their masters just as they would obey Christ.
      1 Peter 2:18 - Slaves need to obey their masters, even if their masters are harsh.
God supports slavery, yet intelligent people abhor slavery and make it illegal.
Why are there 4 similar Gospels in the Bible? Why not 3? or 6?
They don't even agree with each other. If that story is so important that it needs to be repeated - why 4 times? Wouldn't 3 have made the point? or, if it's really important, maybe it should have been repeated 7 times! Four just doesn't make sense. Especially for an all-knowing Supreme Being of the Universe.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
That makes no sense. Do we have to create an exotic excuse to rationalize it?
Why does Jesus want us to eat his body and drink his blood?
It sounds totally grotesque. Why would an all-powerful God want us to do something that, in any other context, sounds like a disgusting, cannibalistic, satanic ritual?
Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians?
Christians get married in front of God and their Christian friends, all of whom are praying to God for the marriage to succeed. And then they say, "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. (Actually - Southern Baptists get divorced at a higher rate than atheists, 29% compared to 21%.)
Is this benchmark a factor? "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses." - Exekiel 23:20 (NIV)
Why don't more Christians read the Bible?
It was written by the smartest entity ever. They will benefit by reading it. They will learn more about their faith. But still they don't read it. What are they afraid of? Do they suspect that it will show them a vengeful, egotistical, violent supreme being?
Do most Christians, Jews, and Muslims 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 for her to believe in ignorance than to face the truth.
Why did God take six days to create the universe, and have to rest on the seventh?
If he is all-powerful, why didn't he just snap his fingers and create everything all at once, and not need to rest afterwards?
Is this the God you choose to worship?
The God of the Bible created evil, murdered thousands, and refuses to help the hungry, the destitute, the deformed, or the suffering.
Does God not like churches?
Why does he allow churches to burn down and why does he send his tornadoes to destroy houses of worship?
If God made man in his image, why do we have different hair color, height, and eye colors?
Isn't that evolution? In whose image was woman made? Why are there birth defects?
Why did Jesus die for my sins, without knowing me?
If he knows me and loves me, why would he send me to suffer for eternity in hell just because I don't accept him as my Lord?
Do these actions actually help?
We have been praying for and asking God to Bless our troops - yet thousands of them still suffer from traumatic injuries and die horrible deaths, including innocent civilians. Why?
We've been demanding that God Bless America for hundreds of years. What has that demand gotten us?
In the 1950s, we added 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance and 'In God we Trust' to our money (so appropriate) - for what purpose?
Why does God, as a wonderful forgiving God, hold Adam's sin over all our heads?
Why must we all pay for this by being classified as permanent sinners? If God was so pissed, why didn't he just kill Adam and Eve and start over? Why does he choose to hold this incredible grudge? Why not do the 'Christian thing' and forgive Adam?
Where did God come from? Who or what created God?
Does God have a mouth?
What for? Who does he talk to? Does he sing in the shower? Does he prefer a bath? Does he stink?
What does he eat? Is there a 7-11 up there? Do you think he has to wait in line behind the fat lady with the bratty kid? Do you think God gets a discount?
What difference does it make if people want to believe in God, even if he is imaginary?
Because people who believe in imaginary beings are delusional, people who talk to imaginary beings are delusional, and people who believe in imaginary superstitions like prayer are delusional. It's that simple, and that obvious. Religious beliefs hurt you personally and hurt us as a species because they are delusional. This often results in war, murder, hatred, bigotry, intolerance, arrogance, deception, and so much more that is not healthy for a progressive society.

If you really delve into the Bible you will see that it is a maze, a veritable labyrinth of contradictions, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, poor mathematics, bad science, erroneous geography, false prophecies, immoral comments, degenerate heroes, and a multitude of other problems too numerous to mention. It may be somebody's word, but it certainly isn't the product of a perfect, divine being. - Dennis McKinsey

'Unchanging' Scripture
The Bible is either the word of an almighty all-loving God and therefore must be obeyed or it is fantastic superstitious fiction with a few good parables and lessons. Here are a few contradictions from the 'perfect' word of God:
"For I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever." (Jeremiah 3:12)
    "Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn forever." (Jeremiah 17:4)
"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." (John 5:31)
    "Jesus answered: Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid." (John 8:14)
Jesus said, "For judgment I am come into this world." (John 9:39)
    "I came not to judge the world" (John 12:47)
"For God so loved the world" (John 3:16)
    "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)
    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
    "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)
"Jacob said, 'I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'" (Genesis 32:30)
    "No man hath seen God at any time." (John 1:18)
We should fear God (Matthew 10:28)
    We should love God (Matthew 22:37)
    There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18)
Fortunately, there are very few Bible-believing Christians in America. Most are CINO - Christian In Name Only, Social Christians, or PVBC - Political Voting Bloc Christians. But almost no American Christians are following the teachings of Jesus Christ or are attempting to be more Christ-like. Many American Christians own guns, favor increased military and war, favor the death penalty, want to build a wall to keep people out, live in fear, and show very little compassion for people that are different from them.

Some Easter questions: Pick your favorite Gospel
Religion has never let facts get in the way of a good myth. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian Easter were derived from Pagan celebrations. Christianity is based on the resurrection of the Christ - so that part of the the infallible, divinely-inspired word of God Good Book should certainly be very accurate. From Father Dan's Blog:
Who first came to the tomb on Sunday morning?
    __ one woman (John 20:1)
    __ two women (Matthew 28:1)
    __ three women (Mark 16:1)
    __ more than three women (Luke 23:55-56; 24:1,10)
She (they) came:
    __ while it was still dark (Matthew 28:1; John 20:1)
    __ after the sun had risen (Mark 16:2)
The first visitor(s) was/were greeted by:
    __ an angel (Matthew 28:2-5)
    __ a young man (Mark 16:5)
    __ two men (Luke 24:4)
    __ no one (John 20:1-2)
The greeter(s) was/were:
    __ sitting on the stone outside the tomb (Matthew 28:2)
    __ sitting inside the tomb (Mark 16:5)
    __ standing inside the tomb (Luke 24:3-4)
After finding the tomb empty, the woman/women:
    __ ran to tell the disciples (Matthew 28:7-8; Mark 16:10; Luke 24:9; John 20:2)
    __ ran away and said nothing to anyone (Mark 16:8)
The risen Jesus first appeared to:
    __ Mary Magdalene alone (John 20:14; Mark 16:9)
    __ Cleopas and another disciple (Luke 24:13,15,18)
    __ Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Matthew 28:1,9)
    __ Cephas (Peter) alone (1 Cor. 15:4-5; Luke 24:34)
Jesus first appeared somewhere:
    __ between the tomb and Jerusalem (Matthew 28:8-9)
    __ just outside the tomb (John 20:11-14)
    __ in Galilee - some 80 miles north of Jerusalem (Mark 16:6-7)
    __ on the road to Emmaus, west of Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-15)
    __ we are not told where (Mark 16:9; 1 Cor. 15:4-5)
The disciples were to see Jesus first:
    __ in Galilee (Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:7,10,16)
    __ in Jerusalem (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:33,36; John 20:19; Acts 1:4)
The risen Jesus:
    __ wanted to be touched (John 20:27)
    __ did not want to be touched (John 20:17)
    __ did not mind being touched (Matthew 28:9-10)
Jesus ascended to heaven:
    __ the same day that he was resurrected (Mark 16:9,19; Luke 24:13,28-36,50-51)
    __ forty days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3,9)
    __ we are not told that he ascended to heaven at all (Matthew 28:10, 16-20; John 21:25; the original Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8)
The disciples received the holy Spirit:
    __ 50 days after the resurrection (Acts 1:3,9)
    __ in the evening of the same day as the resurrection (John 20:19-22)
The risen Jesus:
    __ was recognized by those who saw him (Matthew 28:9; Mark 16:9-10)
    __ was not always recognizable (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:15-16,31,36-37; John 20:14-15)
The risen Jesus:
    __ was physical (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:41-43; John 20:27)
    __ was not physical (Mark 16:9,12,14; Luke 24:15-16,31,36-37; John 20:19,26; 1 Cor. 15:5-8)
The risen Jesus was seen by the disciples, presumably:
    __ only once (Matthew 28:16-17)
    __ first by two of them, later by all eleven (Mark 16:12-14; Luke 24:13-15,33,36-51)
    __ three times (John 20:19,26; 21:1,14)
    __ many times (Acts 1:3)
When Jesus appeared to the disciples, there were:
    __ eleven of them (Matthew 28:16-17; Luke 24:33,36)
    __ twelve of them (1 Cor. 15:5)

Wisdom from Penn Jillette

Take some time and put the Bible on your reading list. Try and stick with it cover to cover. Not because it teaches history - it doesn't. Read it because you'll see for yourself what the Bible is all about. It sure isn't great literature. If it were published as fiction, no reviewer would give it a passing grade. There are some vivid scenes and some quotable phrases, but there's no plot. no structure; there's a tremendous amount of filler, and the characters are painfully one-dimensional. Whatever you do, don't read the Bible for a moral code: it advocates prejudice, cruelty, superstition, and murder. Read it because we need more atheists, and nothing will get you there faster than reading the damn Bible.

How to improve the Bibles in hotel room nightstands

I was staying in a hotel in the Bible Belt and, of course, there was a Bible in the night stand drawer (sometimes, there's also a Book of Mormon). This was right after the school shooting at Sandy hook in Newtown Connecticut. Watching that news I wondered where God was. Was he just watching? Again? Innocent children dying a horrible death, most while praying to God that he keep them safe and alive. God, apparently, just watched their heads get blown off. I was disgusted at the calls for 'prayer', so I thought about writing a statement in the front of the book: Why didn't God stop that shooter in the Connecticut school? Was he not powerful enough, or did he just not care?
Or this: Why did God send a tornado to an elementary school in Moore OK?
But, I wasn't happy with the vandalism of a book. It doesn't seem right to deface the book. That Bible may provide some much needed guidance, inspiration, or comfort for a hotel guest. Granted, such feelings would be based on an elaborate myth, but, still, for many people, it is real and helpful. There's gotta be a better way.

Above right: handwritten notes left inside the Bible or below: printed cards or adhesive-backed stickers that can be placed in the inside cover.
Covert and simple installation
Make it look like it belongs in the book.
Bible study tips serve as an aid and courtesy to the hotel guest.
One could print up some cards/stickers and stash a few in a suitcase pocket.
They could include a web address with additional absurd Bible study verses.

A few verses to help with your Bible study.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 - A stubborn rebellious son, his father and mother shall bring him out and the men of his city shall stone him, that he die.
Matthew 15:22-28 - The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Matthew 10:34-35 - Jesus: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother.
I Corinthians 14:34-35 - In church, women must be in submission. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their husband at home; it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.
Exodus 35:2 - The seventh day shall be a holy day - whoever does work on that day shall be put to death.

Some inspirational costumes people wear to please their Lord

Women from a polygamist cult in Texas. A couple in sacred underwear - reserved for worthy Mormons.

The most revered and worshipped Man in the Catholic Church - the holy See - the Pope (with his minions). He probly looked better during the Medieval era when there was a lot of ignorance, superstition, and fear - oh wait, there's a lot of that today.

Theories on why people dress to impress
The men of the cult dictate it to keep women subservient and 'in their place'.
To please God. Really? If they do this, then God will love them more or their place in heaven is more assured? They choose to worship a supreme creator that is so petty, childish, and insecure that he demands people dress a certain way to please him and show that they will obey him. Jeez, this guy should get a life and leave these people alone to do good works.
They are afraid that if they don't, then they will go to hell or piss off God and he won't answer their prayers or he will smite them with lightning, floods, tornados, or some other disaster.
• They feel a need to frighten people into submission, especially those who don't dress just like they do.
• They want to fit in with their fellow believers. They are sheeple and apparently unable to think for themselves.
• They don't really have a reason other than they were told to dress like this and they obeyed.

The decline of Christianity
Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.
- Bertrand Russell

The results of recent polls show that the number of people who believe in delusional Jesus fairy tales and the occult are decreasing while the number of people who follow no religion are increasing.
Its not too surprising - we now know why thunder happens, we no longer need to ascribe it to a God. The more we learn how things happen, the less we have to rely on delusional beliefs of mythical Gods in heaven, less on a make-believe medieval mentality of supernatural force. America is on the move towards a culture based more on reason, compassion, and realistic intelligent solutions. We have progressed from multiple Gods (God of thunder, God of war, etc.) to just a few. The next logical step is to question the need for even those few. Religion is digging itself into a grave with its own backwardness, corruption and ideas of untouchability.

Religions and their numbers of followers
The charts above are statistics for the USA, below is worldwide, based on 2000 census data.
    19.6%   1,226,000,000   Islam
    17.4%   1,085,000,000   Catholicism
    15.3%      954,000,000   Protestantism
    15.2%      925,000,000   No religion
    13.4%      828,000,000   Hinduism
      6.4%      390,000,000   Chinese folk religions
      5.9%      364,000,000   Buddhism
      3.8%      232,000,000   Tribal religions
      1.7%      103,000,000   New religions
      0.4%        23,800,000   Sikhism
      0.2%        14,500,000   Judaism

If you choose to believe, please accept that it is because belief provides comfort, social connections, feelings of self-satisfaction, acceptance, and connections to family and childhood; not because there is a literary character that allows innocent babies to die but will help you cope with your pampered life. You come up with all the excuses (God works in mysterious. We don't understand. We're not meant to understand) but in the back of your mind you know that it's all a fantasy it's all make-believe but you're afraid to admit that because you find comfort in that and you don't want to let go.

Wisdom from Thomas
Humans have had many superstitions. What we now know as a comet or meteor was once held to be a "sign" from God. Lightning was mysterious, illnesses were curses, and earthquakes were warnings. As "enlightened" as we believe ourselves to be, we continue to hold on to many "religious" superstitions. Our problem is that we are relying on text written by people who lived millennia ago, who had no choice but to relegate everything they couldn't immediately rationalize to "God's Will"; and in languages that were mostly or completely dead, which were then translated by others who were only semi-literate. Do you really want to trust your immortal soul to a bunch of guys who hid under a rock every time there was a solar eclipse? Fortunately for the devout, Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a higher power. However, it's not really a question of does God exists; it's a question of faith. Faith is very powerful and can have a positive influence, especially during times of emotional distress. Or, it can be used to control and manipulate people.

Some factors affecting the decrease of belief in the supernatural
Many Christians are in a social political bloc that really has not much to do with being Christlike.
Diversity of religions in America - can they each be correct? Are they each chosen by God? Splinter sects are still forming even today.
Many people go to church, not for spiritual reasons, but for social and community reasons. The motivation to attend church is split 50-50 between religious and social reasons. That is, fully half of American churchgoers go to church services simply to network, see-and-be-seen or take part in social activities.
Witnessing the death and destruction of Acts of God - tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes. Seeing so many innocent children and adults die horrible deaths, at God's hands.
Frustration over prayers not helping. "Our thoughts and prayers . . ." just doesn't help much and it is becoming more apparent.
Wars and conflicts based on worshiping different Gods and adhering to different (but, ours is correct) holy books.
The primary American Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian and Islam) religions, which are programmed to uphold medieval philosophy and dedicated to their ancient pageantry, are extremely vulnerable to a dramatic shift downward in membership and attendance because of cybertechnology.
Technological devices will provide, for many people, a better alternative for social and community purposes than attending church. Many Americans will choose the internet over church pews.
Religion fails to meet contemporary needs of society. Based on 2,000-year old concepts, religion was developed when there were a mere 230 million people on the earth, today there are 7,000 million people. We have soared into outer space (and have not encountered even a hint of the existence of a heaven up there), cured diseases, and made numerous advancements in medicine; while the church is trapped in Medieval tradition and ideology.
Corruption within the church - the extent of pedophilia in the catholic church is now legendary. An attorney who represents 250 victims of sexual abuse by priests, reports that 3,000 pedophile clergy have been removed from the priesthood in the past six years, about six percent of all the priests in this country. There
are many more unreported cases and the actual percentage of pedophiles within the clergy is likely 10 to 12 percent. The sexual escapades of Ted haggard (and other fundamentalist ministers) with male prostitutes and others have made a mockery of the sexual standards of the church. The fiscal shenanigans of Tammy Faye Bakker and her husband, Jim Bakker, hurt evangelicals even after Bakker allegedly paid his debt to society by doing time in prison. It's a clash between the stringent morality of the church and its inability to enforce that imposed morality even on its representatives.
Ridiculous pronouncements. According to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, hurricane Katrina and the Asian Tsunami were due to god's displeasure with homosexuality in the US, Robertson stated that the Haiti earthquake was due to the Haitian pact with the devil. And while these idiotic statements turned off lots of people, it's tragic to realize that there are many ignorant fundamentalists who believed them.
Religion is not the problem. It is just a mythical belief system. The problem is people with low self-esteem who are insecure with their intelligence. They seek comfort, familiarity, acceptance, approval, and validation by belonging to a societally accepted system.

We are all agnostics
The existence of God is unknowable - one cannot know that God exists. One can only believe that he exists. There are many good folk tales to believe in. Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham are but a few. If one chooses to base a personal value system on folk tales, that is their choice. Hopefully, some of those people are questioning their sense of worth, esteem, security, and weaknesses to determine why they are believing in folk tales and not a more logical realistic based set of values. Most who believe in fairy tales do so because they have been raised to do so, conditioned to do so, brainwashed to do so. Its what they have been told to believe. That familiarity provides a sense of comfort that many seek today. Maybe not healthy (to believe in folk tales as adults) but very comfortable.
Many people confuse what they know with what they believe.

What will it take?
According to Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason - the 2005 tsunami, sweeping innocent multitudes from the beaches of 12 countries, failed to raise global doubts about God's existence. One wonders just how vast a catastrophe would have to be to shake the world's faith. The tsunami did not do it. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes don't do it. The World Trade Center attacks did not do it. The holocaust did not do it.
Will it take more violence? Religion is as much a source of violence today as it was at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews v Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians v Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians v Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants v Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims v Hindus), Sudan (Muslims v Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims v Christians)and Iran and Iraq (Shia v Sunni) - these are just a few of the places where religion has been the explicit cause of millions of deaths in the past decade.
Religious violence still plagues our world because our religions are intrinsically hostile to one another. If religious war is ever to become unthinkable for us, in the way that slavery and cannibalism seem poised to, it will be a matter of our having dispensed with the dogma of faith.
Will it take more time to evolve? Humankind has already moved from multiple Gods to one or three. God of War, God of the harvest - wherever we need help with getting something, we created a God for it.
Will it take more failed prayer? Most soldiers who have died in Iraq have had people praying for their safe return. Most airline crashes had people on board praying for their safe journey. Nothing fails with such high percentage as prayer. Of course, since God has a plan for us, our prayers probably don't really matter, anyway.
Just what will it take for reasonable people to see the error and danger of believing in and trusting mythological characters from books?
Contradictions in God's holy Word - the Bible?
• Tales of an unjust, vengeful, murdering God?
Violence in the name of God, Jesus, or the holy Ghost
Priest pedophilia
Child abuse, mothers killing children
Intolerance, hatred by 'loving' religious people
Corrupt church leaders
Contributions/learning from science, understanding rainbows, a baby's birth
God-made disasters: tsunamis, volcanoes, floods
• Man-made disasters: Murrah bombing, WTC towers, wars

How far do we have to go?
Where's the limit on how much silliness we should tolerate. Men having to wash their feet before they pray? The restrictive clothes, the discrimination, the blatant sexism of submission and domination? Do we just tolerate delusional people and look the other way. Seems so. But what do we do when their delusional beliefs affect others - do we tolerate that? Just where is that line? Is flying a jet into a building in the name of Allah inappropriate or do we accept it as okay in the name of tolerance and political correctness - we should respect their beliefs in the name of diversity. The men that flew the missile planes were from a culture that believed murdering non-Muslims for Allah was not only okay it would be rewarded. Why should we impose our values on their beliefs? How about when religious people want to inflict their personal values into government legislation? Is that to be tolerated? At what point do we just say, "Stop - that's just ridiculous."

Religion will soon be branded as just fairy tales. And that is okay.
Religion in developed countries is on its way out, because it is so absurd, irrational, and detrimental to human progress. Worship of Gods and religion will be relegated to the fringe. There will be followers, but religion won't be mainstream.
I look forward to the day the cross sits discarded beside the swastika as just another reminder of the dangers of blind faith. - Craig Smith
The Jesus tale seems to be nothing more than oral legend passed down among generations of storytellers. Someday, mankind will continue to evolve and mature and relegate the Jesus and other Biblical tales to the same pile of stories where Zeus, Thor, and Hercules reside in their status as mere myth.
In Iceland, the young people are almost unanimous in their belief that religion is just myths and fairy tales.
Christianity is more prevalent in the USA than in much of Europe. Europeans have been progressing and evolving for much longer than Americans. As Europeans flooded the USA, it was often the lower classes and less educated who sought a better life here. Those people brought their Catholicism and Protestantism with them. Now, the USA is being flooded by immigrants from Latin America - again the lower classes and the less educated.
In Swedish classrooms, religion is often associated with an obsolete time when people just didn't know better - as if religion used to serve a purpose but there is no need for it in the modern world. 'Religious faith is portrayed as incompatible with being a modern, rational, and independently thinking human being, according to Karin Kittelmann Flensner, who wrote a doctoral thesis. The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion.
There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, (and) science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. - Stephen hawking
Science gives you a standard to work against. Science, after all, is simply a logical, rational and careful examination of the facts that nature presents to us. Religion is a very damaging philosophy - because it's such a retreat from reality. - James Randi
Atheism is unstoppable. Reason and logic are pushing it along. With force. No amount of myth or fairy tale can block the momentum. The struggle is over. Let the believers have their comforting delusions.
Religion no longer has a place, it is on its way to becoming a philosophy out on the fringes of mature society. Out there with the other cultural fairy tales (the unicorn, Santa Claus, Paul Bunyan). God is and will continue to be not much more than a superpower cartoon character. The forces shoving religion to the side are rationality, inclusion, connection, and community.

Logic, reason, and compassion will overcome the superstition, myths, and delusion of religion.
Its just a matter of time before the mainstream belief is agnosticism and atheism, not religion.

Ways to respond to fewer churches
Repurpose the churches and religious schools into:
Bookstore, coffee house (above left: Europe, right: pizza at Times Square)
Rec Centers or gyms
Secular schools - public and private
Arts centers - theater, museum, gallery, offices
Community centers could provide some of the same benefits
      A physical meeting place with classrooms, auditorium, reception space, kitchen.
      Songs in a songbook. All you need is love and many others.
      Sunday programs with teaching, singing, fellowship, and discussion topics of love, helping, caring
      Outreach missions