Finding one’s path…

I saw an article in the Toronto Star titled, “Pope Francis says it’s better to be an atheist than a Catholic living ‘a double life.’” It fit in very nicely with some thoughts I’ve been having lately.

Namely, that we each find our path alone. Early in our lives, our parents instilled beliefs in us either directly or by religious proxy. As we grow old enough to think for ourselves, we embrace or reject what we’ve been taught and fine-tune our own beliefs.

What I don’t understand is how someone can claim to accept the entirety of a belief system like Christianity, but really only practice the parts they like. For example, many Christians are against same-sex marriage because it violates the sanctity of marriage and their religious teachings. Yet at the same time, many of these same people have divorced and remarried. I would suggest that divorce is much worse for marriage than two people getting married, who happen to be of the same sex. Further, the Bible does not allow divorce. So how can anyone who has divorced and remarried stand up and claim to defend of marriage?

I certainly do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, but the last time I heard, this is one of the tenants of Christianity. So how can Christians remarry? Work on Sundays? Lie? Steal? Masturbate? Have sex before marriage? Eat pork? Get tattoos? Gossip? Eat shellfish? The list seems entirely endless, and largely nonsensical, but it’s the word of God, right?

Even worse, your average neighbourhood Christian priest seems to steer clear of these topics!

It would be one thing to simply take on the Christian ideals you like as your own and not call yourself a Christian, but if you profess to be a Christian, how can you rationalize picking and choosing what you will practice?

If you really believe there is a hell, this would seem an unwise course of action! Yet many (most?) self-professed believers do it.


Disclaimer: I selected Christianity simply because it’s the religion I’m most familiar with. The same could be said for any of them.

Memetic disappointment

I saw this fantastic meme on Facebook:

I love it because what he says is brilliant and because he said it some 1900 years ago. But as with many of these graphics, there are a few problems.

The guy in the image is not Aurelius. It’s Caracalla. Wrong emperor.

Even worse is that the quote doesn’t belong to Aurelius at all. According to Wikiquote,

No printed sources exist for this prior to 2009, and this seems to have been an attribution which arose on the internet, as indicated by web searches and rationales provided at “Marcus Aurelius and source checking” at Three Shouts on a Hilltop (14 June 2011)

It’s so disappointing, but I’d rather know than spread incorrect information.

Tennessee Bible veto

In April, Tennessee Governor Bill Hallam vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.

Even though he believes in the Bible, Hallam gave a number of reasons for his veto:

  • Official endorsement of the Bible would violate state and federal constitutions, according to the governor and Attorney General Herbert Slatery.
  • The governor worries that passage of the bill “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.”1
  • He also said, “If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance.”2

That last item is particularly poignant as supporters of the bill have “tried to argue the move would highlight the economic and historical impact the Bible has had on Tennessee, saying printing the Bible is a ‘multimillion-dollar industry’ for the state.”3 Talk about trivializing the Holy!

In my opinion, the first issue invalidates consideration of the next two.

Of course, with a story of this nature, it was all over Facebook, both the facts from news outlets and opinion from individuals. Among those opinions is this gem:

What a mess. Who cares about civil liberties, indeed. Religious fundamentalism concerns me a great deal, and I make no distinction between Islamic and Christian fundamentalists, the latter of which certainly includes Ms. Snider.

Replace every instance of God with Allah, and Jesus Christ with Mohammad, and the message reads true, like some screed in which ISIL is taking credit for a bombing.


  1. Joshua Barajas, “Tennessee governor vetoes bill to make Bible the official state book,” The Rundown (PBS Newshour blog), 2016-04-15.
  2. Dave Boucher, Holly Meyer and Joel Ebert, “Gov. Bill Haslam vetoes Bible bill,” The Tennessean, 2016-04-14.
  3. ibid.

Belief

Any time there’s a news story about some sort of religious issue, the comments eventually erupt into theist versus atheist argument. I suppose it’s bound to happen. Then, a theist claims that atheists believe there is no God, and since they have belief, atheism is just another religion. Frankly, it’s tiresome.

Atheists don’t believe that there is no God. Rather, atheists do not believe there is a God. I don’t hold a belief, but rather an utter lack of belief. It’s an important distinction.

I’ve read an amusing thought that suggests a lack of belief is as much a religion as not collecting stamps is a hobby. That sums it up pretty well for me.