The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Grow Up

September 16, 2005 | 37 Comments

A friend I’ve known since childhood had a brother who was learning-disabled, but back then, at least, it was not so obvious on the outside. She also had another brother, normal, who resembled the other one, and on occasion would be taunted by kids who did not look closely enough to see the difference.

No such mistake was could be made about most of their unfortunate sibling’s friends, whose handicaps were greater. I visited her house often enough to see the full menagerie; some with Downs, some with Tourette’s, all different enough to be scary and creepy. And to be taunted, because children are human and children are cruel.

Gods, too:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron that in all future generations, his descendants who have physical defects will not qualify to offer food to their God. No one who has a defect may come near to me, whether he is blind or lame, stunted or deformed, or has a broken foot or hand, or has a humped back or is a dwarf, or has a defective eye, or has oozing sores or scabs on his skin, or has damaged testicles. Even though he is a descendant of Aaron, his physical defects disqualify him from presenting offerings to the LORD by fire. Since he has a blemish, he may not offer food to his God.

No second reading is necessary to see that it is a man behind that passage, a creeped-out, revolted, frightened, bearded old man, no better than you or me, no better than a child. Make all the excuses you want: that the restrictions were limited only to certain offerings, or that the Old Law was replaced by the New. For me it is enough that he directed such a slight ever, in any circumstance, against such helpless, harmless, suffering creatures.

After the curtain was pulled away the Wizard of Oz maintained that he was a good man but a bad wizard. Perhaps he was good, or became good, but he was never a wizard. I believe that people can change and grow, but they are never wizards. They pretend to be so, pontificating from behind curtains, but it does not take much to pull them away and see what they are.

So do not tell me that God grew up. I grew up. You grew up. People grow up. But they’re not gods.

Comments

37 Responses to “Grow Up”

  1. Kate B.
    September 16th, 2005 @ 11:03 am

    I don’t think anyone would tell you God grew up: growth is change, and God doesn’t change.

    Thing is, the Bible doesn’t give anyone faith. You have to read it already possessing that faith. If you’ve got that faith, you can take the rule of Augustine, from his De Doctrina Christiana: Anything in Scipture that seems to support immoral behavior or lacks charity must be interpreted figurally. (Pardon the paraphrase). If you lack that faith, no amount of figural interpretation is going to be convincing. Yes, it’s a closed system. Yes, it’s circular. So is every religion, as far as I can tell. You have to believe in Zeus before it matters that he slept with anything that moved. Feel free to stay outside the circle. But be aware that commenting from outside the circle has no effect inside the circle.

  2. AK
    September 16th, 2005 @ 11:23 am

    Right on, RA! Damn, my name is Aaron. I suppose that if I have handicapped children, they will be destined to be atheists.

  3. jahrta
    September 16th, 2005 @ 11:28 am

    AK

    If that is that case and they wind up atheists, better to have a physical handicap than a mental one, i suppose.

    I consider devout religious people to be profoundly mentally handicapped

  4. Vernichten
    September 16th, 2005 @ 11:44 am

    Kate B:
    “I don’t think anyone would tell you God grew up: growth is change, and God doesn’t change.”

    I guess your behavior or belief won’t change him, then.

    RA:
    “People grow up. But they’re not gods.”

    Prove it if you can.

  5. Kate B.
    September 16th, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

    “I guess your behavior or belief won’t change him, then.”

    When did I say it would?

  6. Vernichten
    September 16th, 2005 @ 12:32 pm

    Kate B.
    I never said that you did, I drew a logical conclusion from your comment. Whether or not you agree is up to you.

  7. Kate B.
    September 16th, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

    Well, then, you are correct. Since God doesn’t change, I can’t change him.

  8. Lucy Muff
    September 16th, 2005 @ 12:36 pm

    Aaron, if your kids be atheists then they be handicapped by dofonotion

    being without love of JESUS LORD is worse than be with no arm or leg and cannot poo alone

  9. a different tim
    September 16th, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

    “Commenting from outside the circle has no effect inside the circle”. Says it all really. Reason? Debate? Scientific evidence? Pointing out one of the (many) obvious injustices in religious texts? All from outside the circle. Best not to listen to anyone except those who share your point of view.

    They call it “blind faith” for a reason.

  10. Vernichten
    September 16th, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

    Kate B. said:

    “Well, then, you are correct. Since God doesn’t change, I can’t change him.”

    Then we agree there’s no reason to implore god for anything, including salvation, since he is heedless to your pleas. No need to behave any specific way either, so anything goes. Sweet.

  11. Josh Narins
    September 16th, 2005 @ 6:23 pm

    Kate B’s comments are why I expended some time and effort to become confused for the anti-christ.

    I knew the christians were never going to listen to an outsider, but the anti-christ? That’d get their attention.

    By christian reckoning, it is a great job. You get to destroy all the religions of the world and rule it for seven years.

    Heck, for that job, I’d volunteer to step down after seven years EVEN WHEN their near-2,000 years dead guy failed to appear.

    The other character who’d get their attention was someone claiming to be their precious, come again. It’s been done to death, and even if I can bring world peace, I think it is less honorable to fool them all in that particular way.

    :-)

  12. Ramses Morales
    September 16th, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

    Please, don’t forget that Jesus said that he didn’t come to change the law, but to make sure it is obeyed. In other words, good christians have to acknowledge that passage and look down on disabled people.

  13. Joe
    September 17th, 2005 @ 1:39 am

    Screw him if he doesn’t want my food, more food for me!!

  14. JJ
    September 17th, 2005 @ 4:06 am

    I almost feel bad picking on the fundie, but…

    being without love of JESUS LORD is worse than be with no arm or leg and cannot poo alone

    Someday I will not be able to poo alone. I am not looking foreward to this day.

  15. Tomek
    September 17th, 2005 @ 4:22 am

    Being atheists, we are I assume, glad taht our time wil not be wasted on fasle beliefs and rituals. Let us not nulify this fortune by wasting time arguing with these brainwashed ppl who joyfully associate themselves with such nonses…

  16. JJ
    September 17th, 2005 @ 5:43 am

    Being atheists, we are I assume, glad taht our time wil not be wasted on fasle beliefs and rituals. Let us not nulify this fortune by wasting time arguing with these brainwashed ppl who joyfully associate themselves with such nonses…

    If it were true that these poor brainwashed souls were mere curiosities in our world, I might agree with you.

    If it were true that their supernatural nonsense had no appreciable effect on my existence in the world, I might agree with you.

    If it were true that their make-believe superstitions had no effect whatsoever on the government with which I have a social contract, I would say that they should believe in whatever sky-daddies make them happy.

    But this is not the case. Their beliefs, moralities and superstitions have generated for themselves a direct effect on me, mine, and my world. Their adherents have been bought. The politicians by cash and reelections (which is cash plus power). The devout public has been bought by threats and promises. Threats of Hell and promises of Heaven (extortion, pure and simple). Threats and promises generate a great deal of pressure to “do the right thing”, on both the voter and the voted. Though if one takes a sober look at the situation, one can see that “the right thing” is never even within the realm of discussion.

    READ and LISTEN to your elected officials, before and after the elections. You will easily see that “the right thing to do” vanishes quickly after the elections, until, of course, the next election.

    Therefore I fight them, as they would fight me if I imposed my beliefs on them (which, of course, I wouldn’t do.) Frankly, I don’t care if you think the way I do. In my world-view, no one is going to suffer eternal damnation and suffering for making the wrong choice. Simply because eternal damnation doesn’t exist (though it’s a lovely story, thanks for sharing…).

    The simple fact is that they fight every day to impose their beliefs and morality on those of us that don’t adhere to it. Sadly, we have to fight with them.

    The reluctant fighter,
    JJ

  17. pee cee
    September 17th, 2005 @ 8:55 am

    you athiests sure talk about a lot about a God you don’t belive exists.

  18. pc
    September 17th, 2005 @ 8:56 am

    You athiests sure talk a lot about a God you don’t believe in. It’d be like me talking about aliens, or smart athiests

  19. Rob
    September 17th, 2005 @ 9:25 am

    No Pee Cee, its more like people on a conservative blog ranting about liberals, or people on a liberal blog ranting about Bush. And its not actually god that we’re ranting about but the idea or belief of a god that we’re ranting about.

  20. a different tim
    September 17th, 2005 @ 11:30 am

    Well, it’s an important question after all. Aside from the philosophical implications, human societies are often predicated on the existence of a God. Believers seem to think that they have the right to get plays, films and books banned that offend their beliefs, and to get those beliefs on to school curricula.

    I’d like there to be a God. It must be very comforting to believe that there is an all powerful supernatural being who loves us, and that when our bodies die something else carries on. I don’t think it’s true, that’s all. I just can’t turn my bullshit detector off like theists seem to be able to.

  21. a different tim
    September 17th, 2005 @ 11:52 am

    While I’m here, and purely as a discussion point, relevant article in today’s Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1572233,00.html – on this question of whether God can change. While most theologians follow the tradition of Augustine in seeing time as “block time” which an unchanging God is essentially outside, a minority who seem to be led by John Polkinghorne (a physicist turned priest) are pushing process theology in which God exists in time, may not know the future (because “the future is not there to know”) and point out that knowledge, which the block time position assumes God to have, is itself tied up with time bound processes such as memory. If 1) there is a God, and 2) Polkinghorne is right (and his arguments at the very least point out that if an extratemporal God has knowledge we will have to redefine “knowledge”) then God would be able to change after all.

  22. Kate B.
    September 17th, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

    “Then we agree there’s no reason to implore god for anything, including salvation, since he is heedless to your pleas. No need to behave any specific way either, so anything goes. Sweet.”

    Vernichten, that’s predicated on the idea that God would have to change his plan in order to save someone. That’s not the assumption. Nor is prayer intended to change God, but ot change the self by drawing closer to God. These follow from a first assumption that God exists in a certain way and operates in a certain way. If someone doesn’t subscribe to that premise, then they’re not going to get in on the conclusions that follow from it. Hence, the closed circle.

    Kind of like Euclidean geometry. If I don’t believe in a point, then I won’t follow the rest of it.

    It’s hardly the only closed circle.

    If you accept the idea that the senses tell you anything at all that’s true, you come to a certain set of conclusions. If, on the other have, your a priori assumption is that the senses can tell you nothing true about the world outside your own head, the assumptions are different. Hence, the different schools of philosophy.

    Of course, those are predicated on the premise that there is truth, an assumption in and of itself.

    Closed circle after closed circle. All we do is pick the first premise.

    And you can hardly say that reason forbids closed circles, when most of what I’ve cited are the inventions of human reason. Human reason can come up with alot, and not necessarily be consistent.

  23. Kate B.
    September 17th, 2005 @ 12:24 pm

    By the way, forgive me if I come across as trying to convert anyone–not my intention. Really, I just wanted to point out something in RA’s post that could be taken as a straw man. I don’t know anyone who would comment on Leviticus by saying that God has changed since then. What they would probably say instead is that the passage cannot be taken out of its historical contexts, both Hebrew society and New Testament interpretation. Of course, I have no idea how the Jews interpret this passage.

  24. Vernichten
    September 17th, 2005 @ 1:23 pm

    I’m sorry, I have to include this caveat before all of my posts, since someone has hijacked my name. It’s flattering that someone thinks my name carries enough weight to be worth highjacking, but please keep in mind that any post with my name may not be from me. Now, on with my post.

    I see Kate B., God has already picked out who gets saved. Either that or my behavior will change him. See, either I am going to Hell for not believing, or I can change his mind by grovelling and begging for succor. Somehow he must change, or else no one is saved, and if he does, he ain’t perfect. I’m sure someone must have pointed this out to you before.

    “If you accept the idea that the senses tell you anything at all that’s true, you come to a certain set of conclusions.”

    I have come to the conclusion that if my senses can tell me anything at all that everything that happens seems to happen because of what happened before it, no dead hippy needed.

    “And you can hardly say that reason forbids closed circles”

    Reason forbids immunity to new information.

    a different tim: “Believers seem to think that they have the right to get plays, films and books banned that offend their beliefs, and to get those beliefs on to school curricula.”

    A look at history shows that won’t be enough for them, and eventually they’ll kill you if they aren’t fought.

  25. Kate B.
    September 17th, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

    Vernichten–
    You left out the possibility that he’s going to save everyone, and the possibility that he opens to doors of Heaven and Hell to all and lets people take their pick–i.e., that they go where they want to go, and he doesn’t push them.
    If Christianity were indeed as simplistic as you’re painting, it would be laughable. But you can’t mount a good argument against it by oversimplifying. In fact, certain sects of Christianity have the security to say that you needn’t believe in any dead hippies to go Heaven. Dante puts pagans in paradise, for example. It’s a very rich tradition. If you’ve no wish to explore it, that’s fine. Just be sure you’re not immune to new information on it ;)
    Adios.

  26. Vernichten
    September 17th, 2005 @ 3:16 pm

    I’m sorry, I have to include this caveat before all of my posts, since someone has hijacked my name. It’s flattering that someone thinks my name carries enough weight to be worth highjacking, but please keep in mind that any post with my name may not be from me. Now, on with my post.

    Kate, don’t presume I don’t already know what it’s like to explore Christianity.
    Here’s my argument against religion:
    If you believe that there is something in the universe more important than your freedom, and consequently my freedom, then you are a threat. You will eventually want me to acknowledge this thing that is so important. The realization of that threat can be found in the destruction of embryos that could have been used in research to help me, personally. Since you are allowed to advocate some unprovable belief that includes irrational ideas about God, and it’s taken seriously and is held above critical thought, it allows other crackpots to push their unprovable beliefs and irrational agendas based on their unprovable, faith-based nonsense. You are on the opposing side from me, and it’s your fault because I would have left you, believers, alone had you done the same.

    I am willing to listen to any flaws in that argument.

    “…and the possibility that he opens to doors of Heaven and Hell to all and lets people take their pick–i.e., that they go where they want to go, and he doesn’t push them.”

    Threat of afterlife punishment, especially to those who believe in eternal damnation, is a pretty big push. And your comment helps my point, if they supplicate somehow he will change his mind about their afterlife experience.

    I am perfectly aware of Universalism, and my response there is, if no behavior can cause eternal damnation, then anything goes.

    “certain sects of Christianity have the security to say that you needn’t believe in any dead hippies to go Heaven.”

    So you’re arguing that there are Christian sects who do not believe in any kind of anointed one, AKA Jesus Christ? I guess I’m pretty ignorant of ancient Greek, but doesn’t Christ mean “anointed one”?

    “It’s a very rich tradition.”

    Haha. Define “rich”.

  27. Kate B.
    September 17th, 2005 @ 3:30 pm

    No, I argued that, according to some, not believing in the annointed one is not an automatic disqualifier for Heaven.

    And the flaw in your above argument is still that no one, to my knowledge, has proven embryonic stem cells more useful than adult ones, so why money should be spent on the research is beyond me.

    And, by the way, there are plenty of faith-based folks who support embryonic stem-cell research. I mean, hello Nancy Reagan? I have mentioned my position on them here, so how you can talk about me as a threat to you, personally is a little beyond me. Which is why I’m dropping this conversation now. So you can stop reading things into my posts that I didn’t write there.

  28. Vernichten
    September 17th, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

    I’m sorry, I have to include this caveat before all of my posts, since someone has hijacked my name. It’s flattering that someone thinks my name carries enough weight to be worth highjacking, but please keep in mind that any post with my name may not be from me. Now, on with my post.

    Kate B.
    If you left, then this is only for me I guess.
    Funny, dropping the conversation is an possible indicator of a closed mind. I’m not surprised, inability to rationally defend an irrational position is a prerequisite for believers.

    “…no one, to my knowledge, has proven embryonic stem cells more useful than adult ones, so why money should be spent on the research is beyond me.”

    Are you seriously backing this position?

    The reason that people who believe any nonsense and get taken seriously are a threat to me, personally, was illustrated in my post.

    Goodbye believer, off to spread more of the word I hope. We don’t really know much about your beliefs, so I guess you really failed here.

  29. Kate B.
    September 17th, 2005 @ 4:06 pm

    Vernichten, my point wasn’t to “tell you about my beliefs.” I already clarified that. And maybe I’m behond on my scienctific news, but last I heard, no one had yet actually developed anything useful from embryonic stem cells, whereas adult stem cell research has yielded quite a lot. If you have info to the contrary, could you link it, please?
    If you don’t want to drop the conversation, then fine. But I don’t see much point in continuing when
    a) you keep reading things into my posts, like my supposed position on stem cells, and
    b) you have out and out said that you consider me a threat, and then backed it up with some pretty hostile writing.
    Obviously, this conversation isn’t going anywhere. Have I mentioned that my comments from outside your circle can’t influence the inside of your circle? I have? Oh good.

  30. Vernichten
    September 17th, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

    http://www.txamr.org/prn062905.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell
    http://www.parkinsonsaction.org/nosubstitutestemcells.htm

    “you have out and out said that you consider me a threat, and then backed it up with some pretty hostile writing.”

    What did you think you were going to get here, a back rub?

    You haven’t refuted a single argument, you have hardly stated any of your beliefs and you’ve threatened to take your ball and go home. I am only affected by rational arguments, and you have provided none.

    I explained that your irrational beliefs allow others’ irrational beliefs, and those others are a threat, ergo, you are a threat. If I was free to argue fairly against your faith, their faiths wouldn’t be immune to critical thought either and those unprovable faiths would evaporate (for educated people) like a ghost in daylight.

    Back up your arguments with rational thinking or accept that you will always be at odds with rational people’s behavior, and your universe will remain a complete mystery to you.

  31. judekyle
    September 17th, 2005 @ 5:50 pm

    nice comment, jj. and an interesting site RA. i’ll definitely be back.

  32. Tomek
    September 17th, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

    JJ:

    Sorry man. I assume you live in America because here in Australia the fundies have not gotten much of a voice (yet anyway). Well, keep on fighting then, though it’d be good if something was done to counter these effects of fundies on your conutry because these ppl here are merely distractors.

  33. LucyMuff
    September 17th, 2005 @ 11:59 pm

    tomek, JESUS LORD is coming to australia. DO not worry, he will still hear you. Reason why there is so little respect for LORD and SAVOUR JESUS CHRIST in heathen asutralia is because entire land was filled with heathen originals who is now all alcoholics and criminals from great britain what they don’t want in the country no more. But just as story of the good theif in HOLY BIBLE so will JESUS and GOD acept your souls if you repewnt and acept JESUS into your life.

    NO MURDER KIDS IN MOM

    NO SINNING IN MANS BUM!!

    RESPECT JESUS

    that all you must be doing to get to heaven

  34. MBains
    September 18th, 2005 @ 5:34 am

    … to my knowledge, has proven embryonic stem cells more useful than adult ones, so why money should be spent on the research is beyond me.

    Thanks for the links to alleviate that bit of ignorance Vernichten. I was going to supply some of my own but you beat me to it. Nice.

    Of course, if someone believes humans are not animals then they were worthless towards changing that one’s understanding. It has been noted before that sound reasoning based upon a false premise makes for wonderful fiction; but little more. Kate B. sounds like she reasons well but her premises – that some primitive animals of our species have discovered proof of a god-thing – will continue to hold her back from using her reason effectively. Too bad and too typical.

  35. Annick
    September 18th, 2005 @ 10:58 am

    I read about your blog in the Daily New today and I was intrigued, I always find it interesting to read atheists thoughts since I am a believer. Just like you probably laugh and shake your head at believers I do the same to atheists. We both see our world through our own eyes and experiences. But I do not denigrade atheists, I just feel sad that they can’t or don’t or won’t believe. But I also don’t care that much since I believe everything in life is a choice, so I cannot fault someone for doing and thinking how they want to.

    But I just read what you wrote about your friend’s family that had “obvious” disabled family members, Downs Syndrome, Tourette’s Syndrome just to name a few of the “handicaps” you mentioned and you labled them as “creepy” and “scary”…wow that is cold. Interesting that you see a human being in a negative light simply because they are not your image of “normal”. How sad. I know people with Down’s Syndrome and they are very sweet and filled with love, always smiling and wanting hugs or at least acceptance and they are eager learners with a zest for life. I do not know anyone personally with Tourette’s, but I was in a store one day and the cashier had it, I only felt bad for him because I knew ignorant and cruel people could not handle his uncontrollable outburts. But I did not look askew at him for his condition.

    I personally look at people with various conditions and I feel empathy for them, perhaps I realize that none of us are perfect, some of us wear our differences on the outside for all to see while others wear them on the inside where we alone know them, but I have never looked at someone with Down’s Syndrome, or Tourettes, or CP or MS or whatever makes them stand out just a little more than others and been grossed out or disturbed…no I feel that way about others that like to make these people feel bad about themselves because that happens to be the way they were born and are. I can’t recall ever having a bad feeling toward anyone who is different, for some reasaon I feel intense love, who knows maybe I’m odd, but I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  36. a different tim
    September 18th, 2005 @ 11:23 am

    For some reason that post really annoys me.
    Don’t patronise us.
    We feel sad for you too, since you believe stuff that is so obviously nonsense.

    How many times do we have to say this? We do not “choose” to be atheists. We are led to that position by what seems to us to be clear and unassailable reason.

    TRA’s post is an honest statement of his initial felings. I am glad you so easily accept difference and feel “intense love” for everyone regardless. It would stick in my throat less if you were less self righteous. Many of the rest of us are not so lucky and have to struggle to overcome negative initial reactions. I think the fact that TRA doesn’t go along with his gut feelings and strives for a more enlightened view to be laudable.

    According to the Bible, however, your God would disagree.

  37. jahrta
    September 19th, 2005 @ 9:58 am

    Annick

    do you believe homosexuality is a choice too? do you think anyone would choose to be singled out for ridicule, derision and social persecution at every bend, going so far as to have the president of the united states attack your right to marry someone you love when there are SO many other more-pressing and pertinent matters to attend to?

    i’m happily married and hetero, not that it matters, just wanted to let you know that gays aren’t the only ones outraged by their treatment at the hands of your destructive and counterproductive religion.

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