Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


You Can’t Get Anywhere with Those People


From the facebook files:  Climate change experts have an agenda and don’t want to be confused with facts.  “What facts”, you might scratch your head and ask.  Why, the Bible, of course.  Who needs science?  Who needs experiments?  You have all the facts you need right there in the Bible.  It says so right in there.

“Will the circle be unbroken
Bye and bye Lord, bye and bye” – Johnny Cash

You just can’t make this stuff up, people.  In the words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”


A Little Housekeeping

sweepingI’ve taken down my Pics ‘n Places page and replaced it with a Resources page.  At present it is relatively sparse but I plan on adding quite a bit in the near future.  It will have tabs for Epistemology, Cosmology, and some more “ologies” as I get around to them.   These are resources I am finding beneficial and I thought I’d pass them along.  Perhaps others can glean something from them as well.


Inculation, Inoculation, and Insulation – Insulation

Part 3 – Insulation
in·su·late  (ĭn′sə-lāt′, ĭns′yə-)

tr.v. in·su·lat·ed, in·su·lat·ing, in·su·lates

1. To cause to be in a detached or isolated position. See Synonyms at isolate.
2. To prevent the passage of heat, electricity, or sound into or out of, especially by surrounding with a nonconducting material.
i·so·late  (ī′sə-lāt′)

tr.v. i·so·lat·ed, i·so·lat·ing, i·so·lates

1. To set apart or cut off from others.
2. To place in quarantine.
3. Chemistry To separate (a substance) in pure form from a combined mixture.
4. To render free of external influence; insulate.
5. Microbiology To separate (a pure strain) from a mixed bacterial or fungal culture.
6. Psychology To separate (experiences or memories) from the emotions relating to them.
7. Electricity

a. To set apart (a component, circuit, or system) from a source of electricity.
b. To insulate or shield.

Satan’s first strategy is to keep religion intellectual.” – Rick Joyner, The World Aflame – The Welsh Revival and its Lessons for our Time

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19 KJV

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1 KJV—–

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NIV

All throughout the inculation process, once the presumption of God – and not just any god – but the Christian God has been accepted, once inoculation has taken place, insuring that the seeds planted are growing and there is no room for doubt, you are slowly and steadily being insulated.  Fully convinced that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired, holy Word of God, you diligently attempt to live every word of it as truth.

Deliberately you’ve surrounded yourself with like-minded people and are given dire warnings about keeping the company of non-Christians.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Oh, sure, you’re supposed to be nice to unbelievers but you are “in the world but not of the world” (John 17:11-16).  Unbelievers are acquaintances, not good friends.  Believers have no business cozying up to unbelievers in any sense – not in business or friendship.  “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9)

Dire warnings also accompany higher learning.  Answers in Genesis propaganda is liberally distributed to insulate against scientific contamination.  Aplogetics are used to ward off philosophical and ethical deviation from the scriptures.  By the time many students reach college age their minds are so filled with all of this information that they choose Bible colleges specifically so that they won’t have to be exposed to the evil secular ideologies.

Others, the ones who do go to secular college, often go through, at least, some questioning of the doctrines and theology they were taught.  Sometimes they lose their faith, and other times they can somehow retain their faith by accepting some form of theistic evolution or clinging on to the notion of inerrancy and completely dismiss evolution theory.  It is entirely predicated on confirmation bias.  As long as one can find something, anything to cling to, their faith remains in tact.  So even when they find evidence that doesn’t line up with the Bible, they find some way to either twist evidence or scripture to fit the presumption of Bible God.

Still others, like myself, don’t attend a post-secondary institution of higher learning.  As of 2009 only 30 percent of American adults had a college degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, though that number is steadily climbing.  So unless there is a specific desire or reason to avail oneself of any higher learning the only science, history, religion, philosophy, or any other subject one is exposed to is what they learned during the twelve years they were subject to the public education system in the U.S.

In the world of a fundamentalist Christian who believes in a literal translation of the Bible, it’s easy to live inside your little bubble,  especially given that deviating from the message can land you in hell.  The wisdom of the world is shunned because God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world and God’s wisdom is the best wisdom. And all of you smarty-pants atheists with your fancy book-learnin’ will look like fools when it’s all said and done. It’s easy for an atheist to assume that everyone is speaking or blogging using the same standards. Yet all of this insulation against the world gives a person who doesn’t know shit from Shinola an arrogance with which they speak. They think this special wisdom entitles them and, moreover, prepares them to enter debates on subjects in which they have no real knowledge and to speak with authority from the scriptures because they don’t need the world’s education.  One can remain a dumb as a box of rocks and feel completely satisfied that whatever that sciencey stuff that scientists talk about doesn’t apply to them.

In fact, the fundamentalist Christian can educate even the most intelligent, well-studied scientist or historian.  Just ask them.  Radiometric dating?  Must be flawed.  Archaeology?  Just look around, Archaeologists are finding Bible relics all the time!  Cosmology?  Who cares?  All you need to know is Goddidit.  In all cases and instances presume God, then make all the evidence support that.  Never, ever follow the evidence where it leads

Then the circle is complete.  That adult, with the much-lauded-by-the-Bible mind of a child, carries on the tradition, perpetuating the indoctrination to the next generation.  One would be hard-pressed (though it isn’t impossible) to penetrate the layers of insulation that have shrouded the mind of the true fundamentalist believer.

Maybe all the words of the Bible aren’t hokum.  The iniquities of the father are visited upon their children to the third and fourth generation.


Proof?!? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Proof!


Yeah….I don’t think the Word of God means what you think it means.

We don’t even have evidence that the Word of God is the word of god.  Perhaps no one reads that little preface to each book in their Bible?  That should be enough to at least raise a red flag – to make a person question certain presuppositions.  Maybe that preface isn’t in everyone’s Bible.  *shrug*

When each book is prefaced with, “We don’t know when this book was written – maybe sometime between here and here.  We don’t really know who wrote this book – it could possibly be the namesake but more likely someone who knew them or knew of them”, how is that not enough to make you dig a little further?  And how is it that you put so much trust in it’s divine inspiration?  J.K. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter.  People have vivid imaginations.  That does not divine anything make.

But when you are told time and again that it is sinful to even question the nature of the Bible because it’s God don’t have nothin’ to prove – why, even the rocks cry out his praise – and faith in the absence of evidence is upheld as a noble endeavor you find comfort in not asking the questions.  Questions like ‘when was the last time you heard a rock cry out anything’?

Meh, who needs proof?


Reflections on the Journey

If you’ve followed this blog at all you know I once was a die-hard fundamentalist, creationist, evangelistic, conservative, inerrant “Word of God” girl.  When I began to explore and question that stance I learned very quickly that there are those who believe anything less than that and you aren’t a Christian.  It’s sad, really.

I was told when I got “saved” that the only thing I had to believe was that Jesus did for my sins.  Later I found out that I had to believe that Jesus was not only the Son of God, but that he was God.  Then I was told I had to believe the Resurrection, then the Virgin Birth, then the Trinity, then the literal account of Creation.  Little by little I was sucked in to the fundamentalist mind-set.  Sucked in may not be accurate.  I went willingly.  Until I was at the point of all the other fundamentalists.  Anyone who dared disagree with even one point of the Holy Book wasn’t a good Christian.  Would I ever have said that out loud…that if you didn’t believe the same things I believed you might need to check your ticket to the afterlife….nah.  That would be rude.

Recently Like a Child posted about the slippery slope in the science vs. Christianity debate.  The problem is not the fact that there is a debate.  I like a good debate.  It’s healthy and you can learn a lot.  No, see, the problem is what happens when healthy debate turns into “my God can beat your God” and “I know you are, but what am I?”.  Like a Child referenced a recent article in the NYT and a subsequent article at BioLogos.     

Using another’s viewpoint about homosexuality, creationism, the immaculate conception, or a myriad of other points as a barometer of their Christianity is kind of anti-Christian.  I don’t have to be a fundamentalist to call on the supposed words of Christ.  Whether he said them or not they are pretty good words to live by.  “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13.35)

When the discussion breaks down to the point that you’re questioning another’s faith because their beliefs don’t measure up to your standards you are treading on dangerous ground.  I grew weary of the ying-yanging.  Not the debating between theists and non-theists, but the discussions that quickly deteriorate into name calling and questioning the faith of those within Christianity.   Yes, Paul did say to test the spirits. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.(1 John 4:1)  Once. One.time. How many times does the Bible say to “love one another”?  I lost count. You don’t have to accept beliefs you oppose.  But you do need to accept the people who believe them. 

I know that recently I haven’t blogged much.  When I have blogged it’s either been about my personal stuff or it’s been pretty snarky.  By nature I’m not really even a snarky person.  That got old for me pretty quickly.  I’d like to have reasonable, calm, respectful discussion about the issues at hand, whatever they might be.   

I’m still pretty unsure what I believe about God or whether there even is one.  Surely even if there is not a personhood of God 1 John 4:8 is true.  Whoever does not love does not have God because God is love.  And finally 1 Corinthians 13:1 speaks volumes for how people should be treating one another. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.


The Wonder Of It All

I used to think thoughts like:  “If this fantastically painted sunset is God’s throw rug His throne room must be truly something to behold”, “Just look at all the colors on that mountainside in the fall, it’s as if God painted each leaf with His own fingertip”.  My every thought about nature and life was encompassed by God and His hand in it’s creation. Naturally when I began to doubt I wondered if I could ever see nature and life with the same amazement and wonder as I had.  Would it have the same meaning?  Would there be a point to our existence?  Moreover would there be a point to my existence?

Some of those who enter the Dark Night of the Soul have come away nihilists. They feel empty, depressed, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied.  I can understand why, when everything you were before was ensconced in belief in YAHWEH,  nihilism would set in.  With your worldview shattered you ponder the meaning of it all.  Agnosticism/Atheism leaves something…well…missing.  Just like any other habitual practice, the void left unfilled creates a vacuum, a black hole, an empty space.  I can see why many who travel this road have lost their moral bearings without their God to hold them accountable.  This is the road I began to travel.  This is the route which can lead to self-destruction. 

I did not get very far down this road when I realized something very important. My life has the meaning I choose to give it.  It has no less meaning without a God.  That empty void is filled with family, friends and love – real love that I choose to give, not fake, forced love that I’m commanded to give – and living.  It is filled with watching my adorable three-year-old nephew and my precious Carmen and Alison grow and learn.  It is filled with work and travel and future plans.  It is filled with living in the moment. 

As for accountability; oh, I’m still accountable – not to an invisible God who will smite me for the least infraction of the rules – to my fellow man and to future generations.  While I was caught up in my God I didn’t give much thought to preserving this beautiful planet for future generations. I was going to be raptured at any moment.  Jesus was going to reign for a thousand years and after that there would be a new heaven and a new earth and this earth was going to be thrown into the inferno.   This beautiful earth:

Over the billions of years were formed vast deserts, towering mountains, deep seas,  the warmth of the sun, the gravitational pull of the moon which perfectly synchronizes the tides, richly painted sunrises and sunsets.  This is a measure of time which my finite mind can only attempt to grasp.  Forces of nature not only on earth, but within our vast universe that I can only try to imagine have sculpted this magnificent planet.  Speaking of this vast universe: it’s millions of galaxies – of which ours is but a small one, are revelations of just how tiny and insignificant we are.   Mankind special?  Special indeed – in our own minds.
Will I ever look at nature and life with the same amazement and wonder as I had?  Hardly.  I look at it with infinitely more.  I am in awe of the wonder of it all. 



Awe and Wonder…Wonder and Awe

In the beginning Godcreated the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; anddarkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon theface of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. AndGod saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from thedarkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. Andthe evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let therebe a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters fromthe waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were underthe firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. AndGod called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were thesecond day.

And God said, Let thewaters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry landappear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gatheringtogether of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And Godsaid, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruittree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth:and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed afterhis kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after hiskind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were thethird day.

And God said, Let therebe lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; andlet them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let thembe for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: andit was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day,and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God setthem in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to ruleover the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: andGod saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

And God said, Let thewaters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl thatmay fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created greatwhales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forthabundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God sawthat it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, andfill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And theevening and the morning were the fifth day.

And God said, Let theearth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creepingthing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made thebeast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thingthat creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God said, Let usmake man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over thefish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and overall the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. SoGod created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male andfemale created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Befruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and havedominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over everyliving thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given youevery herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and everytree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be formeat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and toevery thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have givenevery green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he hadmade, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were thesixth day.                                                                                    Genesis 1 (KJV)

In the beginning God created.  He spoke and it came to be.  From the power of His voice were formed vast deserts, towering mountains, deep seas,  the warmth of the sun, the gravitational pull of the moon which perfectly synchronizes the tides.  He painted rich sunrises and sunsets with a whisper.  Each and every plant and creature designed within the imagination of a Holy God, culminating in the  pièce de résistance of all creation; mankind. 

This is what I believed for most of my life.  Even before I was a “true believer” I believed God created the world by speaking it into being.  And I was in awe of the wonder of it all.  This is what I was taught in VBS and in Sunday School.  In the mind of a child was sparked amazement and wonderment that demanded reverence and admiration for the one to whom this was all attributed; Almighty God. 

And I thought about how significant we were in His grand scheme of things, creating everything else first and then deciding that without mankind and a suitable help meet creation was incomplete.  It was all for us that He had done this wonderful and amazing thing.  Part of becoming a Christian was realizing just how special we were that God would sacrifice His only begotten because of His unsurpassed love for us.  

When I began to doubt, no, disbelieve is a better word, I thought I’d never look at creation the same way again.  I used to peer upon a beautifully painted sunrise or sunset and think in wonderment, “If indeed that is God’s throw rug, what do you suppose His throne room looks like?”. 


Does God Speak?

There are a number of us who suffer from doubt and downright disbelief in the divine.  Many of us wonder just what it means for people to say God talks to them.  Some people claim God has spoken audibly to them.  Others say they are “impressed” in their soul.  Still others say it’s a feeling, like the wind.  You can’t see it but you know it’s there.  Then there are those of us who never experienced any of those things, who never experienced God speaking to them in any discernible way.

Ahab asked the question recently, “what do you believe is going on with people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray? Overactive imagination? Altered state of consciousness? Something else entirely?”

It is not my desire to belittle those who believe God has “spoken” to them.  But Ahab asked what I believe is going on with those who claim such.  Here is what I believe.  I believe it can be the product of an overactive imagination.  When we fill our minds with certain things our minds begin to play tricks on us.  I’ve known people who lied about something long enough that they actually believed the lie was the truth.  Some people believe they’ve seen angels or demons or the Virgin Mary.  Have they?  Is it all in their mind?

As I was researching some information for The Miraculous I came across a phenomenon called Stigmata.  The religious adherent believes they have received from God the wounds of Christ, though Christianity isn’t the only religion where stigmata is reported.   St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded case of stigmata and Sister Therese Neumann is said to be a confirmed case of such.  Those outside of the Catholic Church and in particular those who are skeptical of this phenomena associate such as markers of a form of hysteria or psychosis.  Each case is remarkably different.  The wounds manifest in the way that the stigmatic believes them to have occurred.  Some wounds appear in palms while others appear in wrists, some in the feet and others in the ankles.  It completely depends on the stigmatic’s idea of the crucifixion.  Simply put, it’s the power of suggestion coupled with severe stress or mental disorder.  There is strong suggestion that the wounds may be self inflicted and in some cases have proven to be such.

What do I believe is going on with people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray?  I believe it’s a combination of things, not the least of which is a strong desire for God to communicate with them along with the firm belief that he will communicate with them.  There are people who believe their deceased loved ones speak to them from the grave.  There are people who honestly believe they’ve been abducted by aliens.  Is it so difficult to believe there are people who honestly believe God speaks to them on a regular basis?  What do you believe is happening in the minds of people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray?