Raising Cain While I’m Abel

In the fourth chapter of Genesis, we encounter one of the most curious stories in the Blessed Old Leather-Bound Bible. This is the story of Cain and Abel, the divinely-inspired account of the first murder. Here are the first sixteen verses from the NRSV:

 

“Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying ‘I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.’ Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.’

 

“Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out to the field.’ And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the LORD said, ‘What have you done? Listen, your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.’ Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.’ And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”

 

The remaining ten verses of the chapter account for the descendants of Cain, including Enoch, who built a city and named it for his son (also Enoch), Irad, Mehujael, Methushael, and Lamech, who by means of his two wives Adah and Zilla whelped Jabal (the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock), Jubal (the ancestor of harpists and oboists), and Tubal-cain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The chapter concludes with an account of the birth of Seth to Adam and Eve, declared by the latter to be a divinely-appointed replacement for the unhappy Abel, and the peculiar observation that “at that time people began to invoke the name of the LORD.” (Hadn’t they already been doing that?)
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An Open Letter to the Whole Christian World

Here is what I wish I could say to the whole Christian world:

 

Christians, the hour of your deliverance is at hand. My paraphrase of St. Paul is quite intentional: it is he and his awful system that I wish to engage on your behalf. Your freedom depends on a single, simple act. Winning it will be almost effortless, and probably painless as well. All you need do is give close and honest consideration to a single proposition.

 

Rather than tell you outright what that proposition is, I’m going to illustrate it with a passage from a book which you consider to be the perfect, divinely-inspired Word of God. In Numbers 15 we find the story of a man who was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath. He was brought before Moses, who then consulted God in the matter. God’s judgment was unequivocal: he is guilty – stone him to death (just how God’s voice was perceived by Moses, we are not told). The stick-picker-upper received the very same penalty incurred for being homosexual (Leviticus 20:13) or for being a bride found non-virginal on her wedding night (Deuteronomy 22) or for being accused of witchcraft (Exodus 22:18) or for being disobedient to one’s parents (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Note: he received this penalty from the creator of a hundred billion galaxies, each of which contains a hundred billion stars (I’m rounding for convenience), orbited by uncountable billions of planets. Such a creator levied the death penalty against a man who was “guilty” of picking up sticks on the Sabbath. Does anything seem slightly askew in this picture?

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GOD and Modern Warfare

© Religion Erased

I was walking past a youngster the other day, his eyes fixed to the television. Sometimes I wonder what we let our youngest generations watch. What I saw unfolding was graphic, to say the least.

 

It was a man, soaked from head to toe in blood, beaten whilst people watched and laughed. Slowly, he was tortured to death in front of those that both loved and loathed him.

I said, ‘Kid, please stop watching the crucifixion of Jesus. Go play Grand Theft Auto or something.’

 

We use a very warped, biased logic when determining what is appropriate viewing for a child. We go to church to hear stories of murder and be threatened with an eternal lifetime of pain, no questions asked. The first image we see is this one, placed strategically for immediate acknowledgement and maximum effect.
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When Religion Kills: The Cowardice of the Dogmatic

As reported in the NY Times, Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-American blogger critical of religion, was murdered yesterday in Dhaka, Bangladesh, hacked to death by machete-wielding religious adherents. His wife was attacked as well and is currently in critical condition. If we are to follow in the footsteps of the current Pope, that bastion of progressive values championed by liberals ignorant of Catholic dogma, Roy got what was coming to him. Comparing criticism of religion with the cursing of one’s mother, an equivalency with playground childishness that is as ridiculous as it is inaccurate, he declared such usage of free speech as wrong and the person doing so should expect to be punched. That the Pope disavowed murder as an appropriate response is completely undone by this rationalized approval for violence.

 

In recent polling done by Pew Research (May-June of 2014), when asked to describe, by reference to temperature, how positive or negative a particular religious ideology is viewed, Americans scored atheism at 41 degrees, only one degree warmer than Muslims. Considering all the press concerning the possible rise of hate-crimes against Muslims, the lack of coverage concerning antipathy towards atheists seems to tacitly endorse the fact that such people deserve to be hated. This wanton disregard by leaders and social institutions shows the lie of their supposed dedication to making the world a better, more informed, place.
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Craig Hicks: Consumed By Rage

The tragic and detestable murder in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015,  of 3 young Muslim students at the hands of Craig Hicks has presented a critical opportunity for us to examine the rhetoric used in the ongoing debate between theism and atheism. This happening as it did, in the wake of the controversy caused by President Barack Obama acknowledging that atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity forces to the fore the need for clarification.

 

Does religion cause atrocities? There have been volumes written to answer this question with a resounding “yes” (perhaps most notable of these is God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by the late Christopher Hitchens, whose book reads like a Ciceroesque polemic against religion). It is an easy talking point for atheists: the atrocities committed during the crusades, the inquisition, the Muslim expansion shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, The Reconquista, The 30 Years War, The Holocaust, the human rights violations and war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians, almost everything the Catholic Church has ever done (like raping children and working to cover it up, or discouraging condom use in AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa, using Church resources to advocate and facilitate the 1994 genocide in Rwanda), 9/11, and so on. Theists are always quick to counter with examples like Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, The Kim regime of North Korea, Stalin, Hitler (who was a theist and had close ties to the Catholic church, and whose anti-semitism was nothing new in Europe and derived from medieval Christianity), and coming soon to an apologetics forum near you, Craig Stephen Hicks.
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Godless Offering Ep 19: George Zimmerman Did It Again

Christopher and Jonny discuss the recent George Zimmerman incident where he has officially been arrested and charged with assault for the 4th time in under 2 years. This probably does not come as a surprise to those of you who believe he was guilty, but given his release we need to analyze what happened and hopefully get him put away for his over aggressive nature towards others.
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Mercy Killing: Humane for animals; Immoral for humans

A couple weeks ago, one of my ducks was attacked by a stray dog. His spine was broken, a large portion of his back was torn off and it was clear, from the horrid wheezing and honking, that his right lung was punctured. It was all too clear that there was nothing I could do for him.

 

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I had to quickly decide whether to let him lie suffering or to hasten the inevitable by breaking his neck. I chose the latter. I couldn’t bear to watch him continue suffering needlessly.

 

When I posted what happened on Facebook, I was assured I made the right choice by many people. No one objected in anyway with what I had done. I had done “the kindest thing possible.”

 

This got me thinking about people I’ve known in much the same position as the duck. The only real difference I can think of is: the humans I’ve known, in most cases, had the ability to communicate their desire to continue living or not. It’s painful to think about the times loved ones have told me they don’t want to live anymore. The pain is too much, and they want to go ahead and die. They know it is coming. They know they don’t have much longer. They don’t feel as if they are living anymore anyway, “…so please, make the pain stop…”

 

Why is it right for me to have killed the duck – without him being able to tell me that’s what he wanted – but not okay to end the misery of someone begging for it? Exactly what is it that makes the second immoral?

 

Many people believe assisted suicide is selfish. Selfish for who, though? Selfish of the person living their last days in agony? That seems to be how a large portion of people feel about it. It would be selfish of a person to end their life, when so many people who love them would lose them. The people left behind would be hurt. There would be a void in their life that the loved one once filled. The suffering must be dragged out as long as possible, because every minute of time with that person is owed to them somehow.

 

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Who, again, is selfish? The dying person? No, of course not. It’s selfish of the loved ones to force suffering upon another, because they don’t want to lose them. The loss is inevitable. Yes, it is going to hurt. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, life will be different and it will be hard to move forward. How, though, does extending the suffering of another help that hurt? Does it?


I have to answer: No. It does not help the hurt. Losing someone you love is a pain that can’t be described – only felt. We’ve all felt it or will feel it in our lives. Unfortunately, dying is part of living. The kindest thing we can do for one another is minimize suffering when possible.

Hate the Faith Not the Faithful

Living in Australia, when you turn on the morning news and you see the words ‘hostage situation’ or ‘gunman’ or ‘terror attack’ floating across the screen the usual response would be to sigh and lament “Oh America, get your shit together…” As we all know, this was not the case yesterday morning. On Monday December 15th we Aussies were rocked with out own terror scare when a lone gunman took hostages in Sydney’s Martin Place in the central business district.

The incident, which was labelled #SydneySiege by the internet lasted from the morning and through the night and ended with most of the 17 hostages being released, however, two innocent lives were lost and along with the life of the gun man, now identified as Man Haron Monis.

So much has already been said in the past 24 hours. A deluge of articles from all directions have surfaced, some promoting tolerance, some defending their intolerance, and others simply begging for calm. The most amazing development has been the show of solidarity within the Australian community in the form of the #illridewithyou tag which shows non-Muslim Australians offering to ride with and stand up for Muslim Australians. It has been an amazing and inspiring display of humanism.

The tag has a dark side to it with many people criticizing #illridewithyou due to their flawed understanding of what it stands for. Many people assume that offering protection and understanding to a fellow human being is somehow showing support for religion, specifically Islam. It’s really not.

I personally support the movement and I hate religion, all religion. I can’t help but think that yesterday’s event may have been totally avoided if Monis did not consider himself under divine guidance. Monis was there for Allah, acting in his name, through directions offered in the Qur’an. If these things did not exist, where would his motivation come from? Perhaps somewhere else if he truly was a lunatic, but if in fact his actions were guided entirely by his faith-based beliefs, it’s safe to say this probably wouldn’t have happened. The families who lost loved ones yesterday would not be grieving and would not have presents under the tree that will never be unwrapped.
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Noah’s Ark: Building a Cult Mentality for the Christian Faith

My journey from theist to Atheist was a long and hard one. I did not lose my faith. Rather, it was a conscious choice to remove it from my life. There were many little “ah-ha” type moments along that journey and one of the biggest ones was when my view of Noah’s ark changed. I admit, I used to love this story, my god loved me so much that he saved us from the massive worldwide flood. The part I loved the most was that he saved all the animals (well, maybe not all, but two of each kind was enough to satisfy my young and vulnerable mind). I always had a soft spot in my heart for animals growing up and that was the main reason why this fairy tale appealed to me . As a young lad I even had to leave the room when the ant died in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

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