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Showing posts from 2013

Celebrate the Magic 12/6/13

The big shells were so loud, they set off car alarms in the cast parking lot, and could be felt deep in your lungs.

Twenty-five Years in the Adventist Church

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"Every [Christian] sect is a certificate that God has not plainly revealed His will to man. To each reader the Bible conveys a different meaning." -Robert G. Ingersoll quoted in The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (p. 182). There are six sections here. If you would like to skip to one, use these links:

Those Jokes About it Being a Cult Aren't Funny: It Is A Cult.Adventism is a Strong, Self-Reinforcing DelusionSDA Theology is Fundamentalist and Extremely Conservative.No Private Interpretation vs Present TruthSelected Resources on AdventismHubPages Comment Collection
1. Those Jokes About it Being a Cult Aren't Funny: It Is A Cult. In at least three ways it fulfills standard cult definitions.

First: Despite official denials, one person dominated the founding years, in the same way Joseph Smith dominated the formation of the Mormon church. Ellen G. White's career as the SDA (Seventh-day Adventist) prophet from her teen years in the 1840s to her death in 1915 shaped a maj…

Single Payer Healthcare Please!

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UPDATE (06/02/2017): California Senate passes single-payer health care plan! Finally, some hopeful news to report!  UPDATE (02/02/2015): What It's Like When You're an American Using Britain's NHS  UPDATE (11/19/2014): Canadian woman hit with $950K medical bill after unexpectedly giving birth in US hospital UPDATE (6/21/2014): US Doctors migrating north to escape dysfunctional US health insurance system. pnhp.org/news/2014/june/us-doctors-migrating-north
UPDATE (05/16/2014): Canadians love their system, contrary to  US health insurance lobby propaganda: pnhp.org/news/2014/march/doctor-who-schooled-us-senator-thrilled-by-canadian-support
UPDATE (12/31/2013):  Outrageous costs of U.S. healthcare:viralnova.com/hospital-bill/
UPDATE (10/31/2013): LISTEN TO REASON! The following two links both let you listen in on an intelligent conversation between host David Feldman and Dr. Paul Song and Dr. Nancy Niparko from Physicians for a National Health Program. They explain why America n…

Review: Battlestar Galactica

Why My Opinion Might Matter To You
Glen A. Larson and Ronald D. Moore’s 2004-2009 version of Battlestar Galactica was the best science fiction I've encountered on screen so far.

If you knew how important science fiction is to me, and how much of it I've watched in search of that elusive perfect combination of “science” and “fiction”, you would be more impressed by that statement than I imagine you to be. Believability is the most important factor in my critical judgment of the quality of science fiction, especially that which is made for the screen. Whether the screen belongs to a movie theater, my television, or my gaming device, I can only grant a fully attentive glance to a story which grabs my mind and my heart from its first few frames, and leaves me wanting more when the credits roll. If at any point in the storytelling I am distracted by inferior sound, music, visuals, acting, plot, or pacing, then what began as a fully attentive glance degrades into less and less unti…

Category Errors?

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[This is a reconstruction of a discussion which began on the morning of October 31, 2013, on the Facebook link-sharing platform. All spelling/grammar errors are from the original; we are strictly cut-and-pasting here, with a bit of font adjusting. I reconstruct it here so that I may involve more voices in that discussion, because I'm curious where it may lead...]

Tom Doud via Word On Fire Catholic Ministries
October 31 at 10:12am [shared only with Tom's Friends--hence my efforts here]

Great line from article '
"This is why the new atheists and their army of disciples are committing a category mistake when they confidently assert that scientific advances cause religion to retreat onto ever-shrinking intellectual turf or when they stridently challenge religious people to produce "evidence" for God."
Happy Hallows Eve


Jim MilesThe next sentence after that quoted by Tom is the one which explains the real problem in the attempt at understanding between atheists an…

Economics As Religion

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Economics = Religion If we allow the term "religion" to stand for rituals and doctrines binding faithful believers into distinct groups, we can see important similarities between economic theory and religions such as Christianity. These two ancient social organizing principles- religion and economics- are not often compared. In the United States, an intersection of the two is emerging in a third ancient institution: politics.

Before politics enters this discussion, it must be understood that there is little difference in practice between religious systems of belief and economic systems. What are sometimes labeled Schools of Economic Thought function more like religious institutions than academic ones. Economics is a religion, and that is not a terribly controversial idea, or a particularly new one. Both religion and economics train high priesthoods who master bodies of fairly obscure doctrine which go largely unquestioned by their loyal followers. These masses of trusting …

Power Junkie Nation

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It's like a drug. There’s a rush. A feeling of euphoria. Power intoxicates. When a man cherishes the rush of adrenaline from the exercise of power, and fancies himself to be powerful, instead of distrusting his own deceptive nature, he succumbs to this ancient addiction. He is drunk with power. A power junkie is born.

And the world takes note of him, begins to size him up, judge him, evaluate his threat level.

Power is a lot like a drug. We all have a deep-seated need to control our lives, to achieve goals, to accomplish and succeed; that is a healthy and normal human need. But needs can be corrupted into unhealthy obsessions. When the power need corrupts a man, it corrupts absolutely, and overrides his common sense and morality, just like drugs and alcohol can do. It maximizes his selfishness.

And many in the world take notes from his success, applaud him, and then target him for destruction (competition, merger, acquisition). Their power addiction is threatened by his power add…

Logic Demands Change My Mind

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Change is Hard
"What happens when one has striven long and hard to develop a working view of the world, a seemingly useful, workable map, and then is confronted with new information suggesting that that view is wrong and the map needs to be largely redrawn? The painful effort required seems frightening, almost overwhelming. What we do more often than not, and usually unconsciously, is ignore the new information.
"Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive. We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous, heretical, the work of the devil. We may actually crusade against it, and even attempt to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of reality. Rather than try to change the map, an individual may try to destroy the new reality. Sadly, such a person may expend much more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place."-Dr. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less T…

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 4

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I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; Lesson #2; Lesson #3; This Lesson



#4 "The Bible is Inspired History" (which brings along corollaries like "The Bible is an Inspired answer to Big Philosophical Questions" and "The Bible's Inspired Prophecies of the Future tell us Where We're Headed" and "The Bible's Inspired Gospel Story is the Only True Way to Avoid Missing Out on an Eternal Life of Bliss")

Nope. Mr. Miles, your old Bible Teacher, is here to tell you: that ancient book we tried to make seem so relevant, up-to-date, and modern is in fact just SO FULL OF OBVIOUS CLUES that it is NOT INSPIRED, well... I'm honestly ashamed to think of how many of you I convinced otherwise. I'm …

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 3

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I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; Lesson #2; This Lesson; Lesson #4

#3 "Faith is a virtue."

Nope. Virus-like phenomenon corrupting the logical and critical reasoning faculties of believers, maybe. But not a virtue.

Faith is what Peter Boghossian calls it: 'belief without evidence,' and 'pretending to know things that you don't know'.

I wouldn't deny that we want to believe in something. The universality of religion demonstrates the pervasiveness of the human craving to put our trust in something. (Speaking of Professor Bohgossian, please read his book, which I would adopt as my only required textbook if I was still teaching, A Manual for Creating Atheists).

Now I would teach people to believe in themse…

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 2

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I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
Lesson #1; This Lesson; Lesson #3; Lesson #4



#2. The next biggest idea I taught was: "Everything was created by God."

And by the way, I was a self-described hard-core 'young earth creationist' (YEC!), determined to believe that six thousand years is all there was to the history of all life on earth; that is, I took the first ten chapters of the book of Genesis as literally as any fundamentalist Christian, just like most of my academic colleagues in the SDA church, and the rank-and-file members in the pews.

The way I'd teach that now is: Bullshit. (Sorry, but no other word quite captures it). The biggest problem I have with this, besides the mountain-chains-worth of evidence backing the cur…

Mr. Miles' Bible Class Lesson 1

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I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I'm a secular humanist, and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.

Lesson Menu:
This Lesson; Lesson #2; Lesson #3; Lesson #4

#1. The biggest idea I used to teach was: "God exists."

The way I'd have to teach that now is: Bullshit. It's a popular-- strike that-- very popular delusion, but popularity doesn't make bullshit into not-bullshit.

Ironically, that is one of the main tenets of Seventh-day Adventism (without the 'bullshit' word). The whole SDA message is focused on a kind of global conspiracy theory, in which Satan has managed to delude the whole religious and non-religious world into a massive deception. The SDA "great controversy" conspiracy theory culminates in a showdown supposedly predicted in the book of Revelation (I'll get to that la…

Christian Atonement Claims Forgiveness Requires Punishment

Why require punishment in order to give forgiveness?

This is the question nagging me in the wake of my exit from the ranks of Christian believers. In hindsight, the doctrine seems so strange; even more so because when I was within the clutches of my Christian delusion, I never once picked up even a hint of its illogical and weird barbarity. It was the most acceptable and widely-accepted fact of the faith: Jesus died so that my sins could be forgiven.

Atheist Reasons

I recently heard a good definition of atheism:

Reason.

The person defining it this way expanded it to include another idea:

Atheists do not insist that they know God does not exist. More precisely, atheists have no reason to believe in God.

Evidence has not been presented in an amount sufficient to convince atheists of the existence of a higher power. It is not necessarily true that atheists are closed-minded to any or all offers of such evidence. After evaluating the evidence offered thus far, the atheist simply remains unconvinced. Not rebelliously unable to be convinced, and not stubbornly unwilling to be convinced. No. Rather, the atheist is sincerely choosing to remain faithful to what he or she knows to be true, often against great social pressure to give in and profess belief in a supreme being.

Jesus Changes Not

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"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever"

"For I am the LORD, I change not" ________

There is a logical contradiction in the beliefs of Christians, especially those who accept the whole Bible as their authority, not just the New Testament. But even those who lean heavily on the New Testament Jesus must cope with the connections Jesus himself made between himself and the Old Testament God.

That connection is very explicit throughout all four Gospels, but especially so in John's gospel. On multiple occasions, Jesus describes himself using the clear (to Old Testament readers) label of 'the I AM,' that distinct title God offered Moses at the burning bush when specifically asked "whom shall I say sent me?" The Old Testament God taught Moses the title "I AM" because he knew his people, Israel, would recognize him by that ancient name. The Jews in Jesus' day still knew that sacred title, because they were most offended …

Spiritual Boundaries

NOTE: This was written January 11, 2013 in the style of a personal journal entry. As such, it is not a counter-apologetic statement. It is a personal statement reflecting my journey and state of mind at that time. I reserve the right to continue my journey, and change my state of mind!

I was born just 47 years ago, and have learned a little bit about myself since then.

Delusion Doesn't Mean Dummy

[The following is my answer to an accusation that I was calling Adventists "a bunch of dummies" in my essay found here http://jimmiles.hubpages.com/hub/What-Twenty-Years-in-the-Adventist-Church-Taught-Me]
"Delusion" doesn't mean "dummy."
If I believe something based on insufficient or faulty evidence, we can fairly say that I am ignorant. A new ad campaign by Amnesty International "has highlighted the unintended consequences of imposing the death penalty by focusing on a handful of prisoners who were eventually presumed innocent after death." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_Sy8jU6sS4). People within our justice system were operating under common beliefs about forensic technology as it existed up to their time. These people include forensic pathologists, attorneys, and judges-- people whose occupations require more than average intelligence and a degree of mastery of logical reasoning and the scientific method. They were no dummi…

We Must Just Trust

There's a certain frustration I have with apologists. They retreat to the following defense at times. When the critic of Scripture says, "If this is accurate, such and such part of the Bible says something unacceptable;" the apologist cries, "Vague! Ancient! this all occurred so long ago, and was written so long ago, that we just can't know everything about it! We must just trust!"  And when the critic of Scripture says, "the Bible was written so long ago, and its events so long ago, we cannot trust its claims about anything and everything, especially not for modern man," the apologist switches to the opposite side, and cries, "Inspired! Infallible! God knows all and guided his word to be the perfect view-port into God's will for man! We must just trust!"

The Great Divide?

This is the fourth of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion.
I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.

POINT #4: THE GREAT DIVIDE?

In order to generically address many of both Tom and Gil's most recent comments, I would say the following.

We're talking across a great divide. On my side, I am skeptical about the Bible and its many claims. I am skeptical about the existence of God, and all things supernatural. On their side (Tom and Gil's), however different they are to each other in their doctrinal specifics (SDAs have VERY little in common with RCs on church dogma), they are both at the opposite end of what we could call a belief spectrum-- they are both convinced that God exists, and that He spoke through the Bible's writers.

All Scripture Is Inspired By God; Therefore I Reject God

This is the third of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion.
I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.

POINT #3: ALL SCRIPTURE IS INSPIRED BY GOD; THEREFORE I REJECT GOD
Gil said:
 "...in order to be fair with God, we need to realize that we can't explore His mind as an open book. ... I don't think it is possible to know all the issues involved... Since the Bible isn't verbally inspired...there are passages that don't set forth God's character as it really is...
"... God's plan is to save the human race... I accept this by faith realizing that I do not have all the answers but that the time will come when all will be revealed." That extensive quote represents several paragraphs, but I think my excerpts capture the essential message of the whole. And the whole thought perfect…

Rape Allowed By God Because Might Makes Right

This is the second of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion. I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.
POINT #2: RAPE ALLOWED BECAUSE MIGHT MAKES RIGHT

I reviewed the video, and the words spoken in it do mistakenly give the impression that God commanded rape, and not simply allowed it. Gil has asked, "As far as their accusation that God commanded the rape of virgins, where is that found? These guys are out to beat up on God and they are not intellectually honest about it." I agree with you as far as the speaker on the video being mistaken when he implies that God commanded rape. God did not command rape in Moses' era, nor do I find such a command anywhere in the Bible. As far as jumping from a mistake like that to concluding that the speaker is therefore intellectually dishonest, I cannot go that far.…

God Arbitrarily Exercises His Power To Protect

This is the first of four points I made in a Facebook discussion found here: https://www.facebook.com/jim.miles/posts/10152361298826758
I feel like I missed lots of points made earlier in the discussion. I only mention names for reference; anyone is welcome to offer comment.
POINT #1: GOD ARBITRARILY EXERCISES HIS POWER TO PROTECT
Gil said: "There are situations where if you don't destroy the enemy, the enemy will destroy you." This doesn't work as a justification for the biblical cases of divine destructive power, it seems to me. Here's why.
Way back when war broke out in heaven, beings more powerful than humans fought for both sides, God's and Lucifer's, and nobody was destroyed. Exile was a better option at that time, and we are left to guess at the reasons for this--the Bible does not reveal why God did this. Instead of destroying the disobedient Lucifer-turned-Satan, God let him live to spread his disloyalty to God's recent creation, the human b…

Violence As Atonement

The Violence of Phinehas Called An Atonement by God Evidence exists that Jesus praised and commended the violent act of Phinehas. That is a serious statement, one which may bring forth from Christians the familiar defense, namely that it is taken "out of context."
First, for context's sake, please note the following.
It is not controversial that Jesus was the God of the Old Testament, the Law-Giver of the Exodus. The gospel of John reinforces this constantly (John 1:1-14, Jesus is the Creator of Genesis), and Paul's writings confirm that the One following Israel around and tending to all their spiritual needs "was Christ" (not the Father God, as popularly misunderstood, 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Therefore, whatever "the LORD" said to or about Phinehas which is directly quoted in the Old Testament is actually what Jesus said about him. This is the reason that the evidence is placed at Jesus' feet, not at the feet of some more vague reference…

Post-Christian

I was asked "Why do you call yourself Post-Christian?"
I'm sure that I didn't create this term, but I don't know if it has different meanings from my own. So, I'm glad you asked, so I can be clear.

What I mean by calling myself "post-Christian" includes: I am not an active member of any church.I am not a follower of or a believer in any non-denominational group or individual.I have not become an atheist or agnostic.

Immoral God

If God has revealed himself in the entire Protestant Christian Bible (as I used to believe, and spent a teaching career convincing teens to believe), then He must answer for his horrible behavior. Otherwise, reasonable people cannot be expected to respect him as a moral leader. Regardless of whether or not he is truly a savior of sinners, the fact remains that after being saved, a person would then be expected to live in close proximity to God and be eternally known as officially endorsing everything ever done by this person who claims to be a legitimate king. We can be certain that God expects us to use our own judgment in these matters, given the pains taken to inject such reminders throughout the Bible. Such as, "Come, let us reason together," (Isaiah 1:18) and "Let each be fully convinced in his own mind," (Romans 14:5) and "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve," (Joshua 24:15) and "do you not know that we shall judge …

Apologies for Jesus

The following is a contribution I made to a discussion in the comments section of spectrummagazine.org

Apologists for Jesus abound today. It's fashionable now to re-imagine the Jesus of the Bible into a more familiar kind of progressive, humanistic, socially responsible guy. Not that he wasn't already a kinder, gentler deity than the disciplinarian OT Almighty, but now he needs to be somehow more like us. And by us, I mean us LIBERALS.

When they (the SDA progressives) want to claim biblical authority for a Christianity Lite makeover, they have to seriously twist the Scriptures. I remember doing it when I counted myself among the SDA liberal apologists. Now that I'm out from under any religious connections, I look back on the Christianity Lite I was pushing and realize how far removed I had to get from the plain reading of the Bible in order to be able to recreate Jesus in my own image.

Amok Capitalism Time

When you measure the promise of capitalism against its actual historical progress in the United States, it needs to be given the proverbial pink slip. Its resume & references were obviously inflated to the extreme. Adam Smith made us believe that an Invisible Hand would magically guide all participants in the free market to the best possible outcome for all involved. He lied! That invisible hand is more like a pickpocket's than some benign, divine mathematician's. It's not the hand of God, it's the hand of Greed.

A society duped into allowing a principle as violent and corrupting as Greed to be their basis of interacting with each other gets what they asked for: a proper fleecing by the wealthiest among them.

Apologists for the Greed system (who generously provide their free PR for those who don't need it) nowadays blame capitalism's failures on the measures adopted by previous generations to slap back that pickpocketing hand. Just get rid of …