All posts by David Madison

Guy P. Harrison – Quotes

Knockout Quote No 2, Harrison, the god who makes all the rules
Knockout Quote No 340, Harrison, Then there is popular belief among Christians that God sends billions of people to hell
Knockout Quote No 287, Harrison, Religions make the biggest claims with the least evidence
Knockout Quote No 286, Harrison, Humans have never been united in belief at any time in history Never
Knockout Quote No 282, Harrison, Good Thinking is not a stance or set of skills that come naturally to us
Knockout Quote No 281, Harrison, Religions constantly clash with science, Reality and truth are the goals of science
Knockout Quote No 279, Harrison, Science shows, while religions simply make claims and leave it at that
Knockout Quote No 278, Harrison, The belief system endures despite a profoundly strange and wholly unproven premise
Knockout Quote No 253, Harrison, This religion stands in direct opposition to the full blossoming of a human mind
Knockout Quote No 216, Christianity would have us not only stagnate but move backward
Knockout Quote No 180, Harrison, The war in China, fought for Jesus, claimed an estimated 20 million lives
Knockout Quote No 172, Harrison, Faith is like Kryptonite to the scientific mind
Knockout Quote No 141, Harrison, Why would god go forward with an obviously bad design?
Knockout Quote No 135, Harrison, Those same whispers from many gods for many centuries
Knockout Quote No 137, Harrison, Look around; life is not fair. What could be more obvious?

 

Knockout Quote No 131, Harrison, We don’t need gods to connect with something spectacular
Knockout Quote No 100, Harrison, Many thousands of excavations have been conducted
Knockout Quote No 99, Harrison, All the monumental religious controversies
Knockout Quote No 94, Harrison, if the gods really do need money
Knockout Quote No 91, Harrison, instruction manuals for achieving a divided, angry, and violent world
Knockout Quote No 88, Harrison, Atheists have found only empty air
Knockout Quote No 65, Harrison, millions of creatures are being eaten alive
Knockout Quote No 63, Harrison, We are a god-inventing species

Joseph Daleiden – Quotes

Knockout Quote No 142, Daleiden, Those who drive into the future looking in a rearview mirror
Knockout Quote No 275, Daleiden, The gospels tell of Jesus driving devils out of sick people into pigs
Knockout Quote No 267, Daleiden,The reasoning which proposes that the death of Jesus was an act of reparation
Knockout Quote No 259, Daleiden, There has been no shortage of people who declared that they spoke for the gods
Knockout Quote No 219, Daleiden, Christianity has demonstrated its destructive antihuman values
Knockout Quote No 218, Daleiden, Looking at the mess the world is in, it might seem easier to prove a Devil than a God
Knockout Quote No 166, Daleiden, Christianity had a great product, immortality. And did it sell!
Knockout Quote No 165, Daleiden, Yet another little horror story, Ananias and Sapphira
Knockout Quote No 153, Daleiden, Little that is original in the teachings attributed to Jesus
Knockout Quote No 152, Daleiden, Most people superimpose their own value systems on a religion
Knockout Quote No 143, Daleiden, I that all 2000 years of theology could come up with?

Randel Helms – Quotes

Knockout Quote No 7, Helms,Inattentive readers will be even more surprised to learn that the Bible is a self-destructing artifact
Knockout Quote No 301, Helms, Each of the canonical Gospels is religious proclamation, the form of largely fictional narrative
Knockout Quote No 297, Helms, The gospels are indeed imaginative literature, fiction

Dan Barker – Quotes

Knockout Quote No 53, Barker, Lay all the preachers in the world end to end
Knockout Quote No 179, Barker, as long as there are people gullible enough to donate to religion
Knockout Quote No 58, Barker, Let’s leave the Jesus myth buried next to Eastre
Knockout Quote No 57, Barker, I discovered there is no need for Christianity
Knockout Quote No 54, Barker, When you ask a Christian to demonstrate

David Ramsay Steele – Quotes

Knockout Quote No 117, Steele, Christianity is indeed pretty absurd
Knockout Quote No 158, Steele, This kind of God is an incoherent notion, an absurdity
Knockout Quote No 123, Steele, Centuries of state terror in Christianity’s behalf
Knockout Quote No 121, Steele, How come the Designer keeps screwing up?
Knockout Quote No 119, Steele, A contemplative cockroach might conclude

Funny Atheist Quotes

Knockout Quote No 434, Maguire, This ‘nice God’ hypothesis does run into some knotty problems
Knockout Quote No 493, Conner, Christians just live in a different time zone than the rest of us
CCKQ No 570, Conner, The Bible really needed an editor with a shredder
CCKQ No 570, Conner, The Bible really needed an editor with a shredder
CCKQ No 571, TBO 100, I read the Bible cover-to-cover as a young man, but I'd rather read Proust in Finnish than do that again
CCKQ No 571, TBO 100, I read the Bible cover-to-cover as a young man, but I’d rather read Proust in Finnish than do that again
CCKQ No 570, Conner, The Bible really needed an editor with a shredder
CCKQ No 570, Conner, The Bible really needed an editor with a shredder
Knockout Quote No 486, Hubbard, the answers are usually blah blah context blah blah mysterious ways blah blah metaphor blah blah
Knockout Quote No 468, Conner, It is the Holy Spirit that convinces someone of the truth
Knockout Quote No 465, Gericke, Yahweh is like Donald Duck
Knockout Quote No 463, Without Malice, The one thing you would never hear such a being say is, Oops, didn’t see that coming
Knockout Quote No 462, Without Malice,Thus 2,000 years of Christians going at each other’s throats over idiotic dogmas
Knockout Quote No 444, Conner, The Holy Spirit is flitting around the world whispering into the temporal lobes of billions of people
Knockout Quote No 170, Twain & Bunker, Faoth is…
Knockout Quote No 169, Carlin, This guy would have been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago
Knockout Quote No 260, Wilde:Bierce, A theologian is like man going into the depths of a cave at midnight
Knockout Quote No 265, RealHarryWiddifield, Your prayers are fart bubbles in the bathtub of the cosmos
Knockout Quote No 306, Sayers, “I don’t think you ought to read so much theology,” said Lord Peter
Knockout Quote No 308, Tarico, Athletes huddle in prayer before a game, just in case those random bounces aren’t random
Knockout Quote No 380, Zingrone,So, go bowling next Sunday instead of attending church and have a good time
Knockout Quote No 430, Bo Daniel, It’s all part of God’s plan is such a breathtakingly witless defense
Knockout Quote No 420, Congerton,The Holy Fact Checker seems to have been on sick leave
Knockout Quote No 422, Carter, So many theologians love to meet at pubs.
Knockout Quote No 424, Lindsay, Religion is believing there’s a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in your yard
Knockout Quote No 428, Carlin,You know who I pray to? Joe Pesci
scene-du-deluge

Excerpts from 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief, 1: The Prologue

Prologue: My Journey Into, Through and Out of Faith

A field of corn on a central Indiana farm shows signs of stress from a combination of little rain and excessive heat. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jennifer Stewart)
(Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jennifer Stewart)

On the northern Indiana prairie where I was raised in the 1940s and 1950s, two religions commanded the loyalty of the locals: basketball and conservative Christianity—and in that order. The energy and devotion lavished on basketball far outpaced unflustered adherence to the obligations of faith. No one would have said that basketball was more important, but the imbalance of emotional investment was obvious. Even today, a drive through Hoosier suburbia reveals this priority. In almost every driveway there is a basketball backboard and hoop. Future archaeologists will be convinced that these were the implements of the dominant cult.

When I was growing up and coming of age, I had zero interest in basketball. I did run the popcorn machine at the basketball games, but the closest I came to playing the game was in high school gym class. I resented this enforced athleticism, and protested by simply standing at one corner of the court while everyone else ran back and forth.  A basketball is a hard object , and I—being a 90-pound weakling—was alarmed to have one thrown at me. I even detested the sounds: the squeaking of the shoes on the floor and awful twang of the ball hitting the floor.

Photo credit: Jeff Roberts
Photo credit: Jeff Roberts

The runner-up cult, however, was the one for me.

A Kinder Gentler Approach

Christianity received the full measure of my devotion, largely under the influence of my mother. My oldest brother once said of her—long after we had both walked away from Christianity—that she was the most Christian woman he had ever known. By this he meant that she was guided by compassion and generosity. She really did try to live her faith.  When we were growing up, giving children ‘a faith to live by’ was considered an element of good parenting, and my mother was equal to the task.

I don’t say this uncharitably, because I was not subjected to a hard-nosed fundamentalist version of Christianity. I recall no emphasis on guilt, damnation and Hell; there was no trauma in my mother’s version of the faith. Nor was there anything cloying about it. A young friend of mine today, who was raised in an evangelical family in Tennessee, says that a common question that family and friends ask each other is, “How is your walk with the Lord going today?” The companionship of the Lord, it seems, is felt throughout every waking hour, and many people excel at this “God-is-your-pal” brand of Christianity. I never once heard my mother ask anyone, “How is your walk with the Lord going today?” Such smarmy piety was alien to me, even though religion

cropped-live-by-faith-copy
Photo credit: livingbyfaith12stepsatatime

was part of the fabric of our life: Sunday church attendance was mandatory, as was grace at meals and reading the Bible.

My mother and I read the Bible together.The Billy Graham Crusades were on TV in my teen years, but my mother found him irritating. She had no use for his theatrics, waving the Bible above his head and coaxing tearful conversions to Christ from his listeners. She disdained emotionally charged religion: ‘getting carried away with it’ was

unseemly. My mother prayed, she studied the Bible more deeply than most laypeople do, and if she ever doubted the existence of God, I saw no hint of it. Her faith ran deep, and she got on with life, mindful that God was there and mattered—but she was not checking in with the Lord on an hourly basis.

It’s a mystery to me how my mother, born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1905, turned out not to be a fundamentalist. She believed in evolution and in a non-literal reading of the Bible. She could say of this or that in the Bible, “Well, you can’t take that literally.”  She had a good laugh when I asked if Hell was at the fiery center of the earth.

Gladys Yegerlehner, photo courtesy of genealogy lady.net

Immersion in Books

My mother never attended college, but she probably attained the equivalent of a degree by being a voracious reader, until Alzheimer’s wiped her memory clean. She loved biography and history, and assumed that the Bible should be studied as well as read. When I was in high school—and this is crucial to my story—she purchased The Interpreter’s Bible. This was a hefty, 12-volume commentary on the entire Bible, which included, in adjoining columns, the traditional King James translation (1611) and the recently released Revised Standard Version (1947 & 1952). On every page, accompanying these texts, were two other sections aimed at explaining the texts: the exegesis and the exposition. These books were for ministers, for those who were seriously into Bible study.

The Interpreter’s Bible (photo credit: Amazon)

The exposition was usually written by preachers, who explained the spiritual lessons of every Bible chapter. More often than not, these lessons were unctuous drivel, and even at that early age I could spot at least some of the drivel. The exegesis, however, had substance. This was the science, the research-based analysis of the texts. It was written by scholars and critical issues were tackled: where the texts came from, who wrote them, the meaning of words in the original Hebrew and Greek. It discussed translation problems, contexts and challenges. For the most part, The Interpreter’s Bible was the product of liberal Protestant scholarship, which meant that it was not fundamentalist propaganda about the Bible. The Bible’s flaws, fault lines and contradictions were acknowledged and analyzed candidly, usually without resort to ad hoc arguments to prove that  the Bible as God’ infallible word.

I can say, without fear of contradiction, that mother was the only person in town—other than the pastor, possibly—who owned The Interpreter’s Bible. Not long after a new pastor was appointed to our church, mother asked him a question about something she had read in the commentary. He was surprised: “You have The Interpreter’s Bible?”

Of course, these twelve books were at my disposal. I was an enthusiastic teenage Christian, and I was gifted with mother’s curiosity, love of reading and thirst for knowledge. I was drawn to the exegesis, and had no trouble cozying up to liberal Protestant scholarship and adopting a critical attitude toward the Bible. And since my father’s first career had been teaching high school science, we grew up with respect for science; questioning evolution would have been considered eccentric. At that point, belief in God was fairly secure; there may have been a few cracks in my faith, but not many. When I went off to college I was a liberal Christian soldier. Well, I was a priggish liberal. I believed fervently, as my mother did, that swearing, smoking, drinking and sex (outside of marriage) were verboten.             [To be continued.]

Darwin's first sketch of the evolutionary tree of life. Photo credit: American Museum of Natural History
Darwin’s first sketch of the evolutionary tree of life. Photo credit: American Museum of Natural History

Copyright 2016, David Madison, PhD, www.tentoughproblems.com