Saturday, September 29, 2007

Let's all praise Jesus Christ

Melanie Therese Goodwin of Arlington went to be with her Lord Jesus Christ on September 25th. Melanie was a bright, gifted young woman who loved God and who made the world a better place. The loss of Melanie's sweet spirit is a tragic loss to the world. She possessed God-given abilities to sing and act, and used them to share her faith in Jesus Christ. Her gifts in this regard often were on display in theater productions at school and at Theatre Arlington. Melanie was born August 4, 1988 and graduated from Bowie High School in 2006. She was a sophomore at The University of North Texas studying Radio/TV/Film. Melanie is survived by parents, Glenn and Peggy Goodwin; sister, Candace Goodwin; brother, Glenn David Goodwin; and, grandmother, Isabel Goodwin; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Memorial services will be Saturday, September 29 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 2045 SE Green Oaks Blvd in Arlington. Memorial donations can be made to Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main Street, Arlington.

OB6 Obituaries, Notices
Published in the
Morning News from 9/28/2007 - 9/29/2007.

— At a press conference held by the Carrollton Police Department on Sept. 28, it was announced that police are still searching for Ernesto Pina Reyes of Denton for the murder of Melanie Therese Goodwin of Arlington.

According to Carrollton Police Public Information Officer John Singleton, on Sept. 25, at approximately 11:30 a.m., a Carrollton Police officer was dispatched to 3220 Keller Springs Road, location of TransTech, where he found the charred remains of a white female.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner identified the victim through dental records. An autopsy determined the cause of death as blunt force trauma.

Surveillance video obtained from TransTech, revealed that about 4:30 a.m., a vehicle matching Goodwin’s vehicle entered the parking lot and a man matching Reyes’ description dragged a body from the vehicle to the location where Goodwin’s body was found. The video also showed the unknown male igniting a fire at the location where Goodwin’s body was located.


my opinion

Friday, September 28, 2007


We are now on the Atheist Blogroll, which means we better start coming up with some interesting stuff for others to read!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quiet Time: (im)Perfection & Wisdom

My 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Ruth, told us: "Math is perfect. It always works. There is always an answer that is correct, and most of the time, you know exactly what you're looking for in the answer."

Third grade was the first time anyone had told me that something could be perfect. The perfection of math was the first standard of perfection I had in my mind as a measuring stick. I've been a "counter" since I can remember (at least since 2nd grade when I counted the steps I took to get to school), so math is something that naturally appeals to my mind and the way it works.

Math requires no opinion. Even imaginary numbers are complete and perfect. It works backward and forward. It is provable. Mathematics is a man-made, man-discovered, and man-named concept. It is perfect, yet it advances (which to me makes it UBERperfect). It cannot be taken out of context. Errors in calculations are easily found and corrected.

When we study math, there is no gray area (aside from mathematical intellectuals seeking new ways to explain concepts or occurrences). We know that X means multiply. We know that Pi roughly equals 3.14159. We know squares have 4 sides, that circles have angles within them that sum to 360 degrees, and that right triangles always have one 90 degree angle in them. We know how many inches are in a foot, and how many feet are in a mile. We know concrete facts in math; not because someone told us that we must believe 1+1=2 in order to survive, but because someone taught us how to prove it, and required us to show our proof to prove we understood the concept.

All of that brings me to the problem I have with the bible; the claim that it is the inerrant word of God, meaning it is perfect in form.

Aside from my ability to be a good mother, one of my most cherished traits is intellect, or wisdom. I feel I have a keen understanding of many things and many people. I truly desire to understand things and concepts and people. I hunger for knowledge. I enjoy other people who are as eager to learn and dissect things as I am.

My search for wisdom in the bible started with some "good" results, ones that seemed to be in favor of my fondness for wisdom.

Proverbs 3:13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.
So I'm not a man, but mother nature isn't a woman, so I'll take it.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
This makes wisdom sound very important.

Proverbs 19:8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.
Here, it is good to be proud of your wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. (12)Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
Wisdom is better/more beneficial than money - it can even be what preserves life!

Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Even Jesus' wisdom is commended, as he is favored by all.

All of this seems to point to wisdom being a virtue. Then, the other side of wisdom...

Ecclesiastes 1:18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
Wait, something that can preserve my life can make me grieve? 6 chapters later, wisdom can preserve life? Is that grievous?

Ecclesiastes 2:15-16 Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?" I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless." (16) For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
So, since everyone must die, there's no point in doing anything? Understanding anything?

Acts 17:17-34 In this story, Paul is appealing to intellectuals and philosophers of Athens, utilizing his wisdom and knowledge to convince them that their unknown god is now known through Christ. He only gained a few followers, so...

I Corinthians 1:18-25 Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are not particularly wise, and cites the prophet Isaiah as saying "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Therefore, when talking to mental midgets, Paul's stance on and appeal to intellect falters, whereby bringing in the notion that God chose the fools to shame the wise, so that no one can boast....

The only 2 things that I could find as being actually ascribed to Christ himself on the topic of wisdom were a little disconcerting also.

Matthew 11:25 At that time, Jesus said, "I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."

Mark 4:10-12 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked about the parables. (11) He told them "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables (12) so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!"

Obviously, unlike math, the bible is not perfect. No one can seem to agree on the value of wisdom, and even Jesus seems to revel in the cleverness of his own cryptic teachings. These verses are like variables in math, and if the bible were perfect, each variable could be taken as a singular and be perfect. That is to say, if the bible is perfect, everything about it would be perfect, and there would be no need for "study bibles" and human intervention and translation. It would be universal in language and meaning.

While trying to gain further understanding of some of these verses, some bible studies I came across said that "wisdom" and "understanding" actually refer to the wisdom and understanding of God and the nature of God. Spiritual wisdom/understanding, if you will. Seems quite presumptuous that I should go into reading scripture knowing that anything said about my brain is actually referring to my heart.

I will also mention that NONE of the first 5 verses (the ones I thought were positive) about wisdom and understanding were listed in either the topical index or the concordance of my bible (The Quest Study Bible, New International Version). All of the others were. Is it really any wonder why I subscribe to conspiracy theory?

I'm blaming Paul for this one.

Quiet Time w/ Elisha

The books of Kings contain many incredible accounts, some applicable to history --- stories of David, Solomon, Elijah, the schisms between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, --- and many accounts that defy logic or reason. Among these snippets of wisdom we find mass murders by our god himself, god creating droughts due to sin, the value of Pi equaling 3, Solomon having 700 wives and 300 concubines, the fact that you BETTER not pisseth against a wall, and if your father has sinned against god you’d better watch your back -- to name a few. All of which could be discussed in their own context. Although my cynicism is obvious, the intentions of these posts are quite sincere. I actually sat down and re-read both books and they are quite intriguing despite some of the untenable stories.

One quaint tale that I present for discussion can be found in the second chapter of 2 Kings.

19 The men of the city said to Elisha, "Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive."
20 "Bring me a new bowl," he said, "and put salt in it." So they brought it to him.
21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, "This is what the LORD says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.' "
22 And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!"
24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.
25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.

I admit -- I posted this story first because it’s so bizarre. The impact of the tale, though, raises some serious questions as to the balance of god’s justice and the contradictions of morality in the Old and New Testament.

Also an Islamic prophet, Elisha (not Cuthbert) was Elijah’s main man up until the time Elijah ascended up into heaven on a chariot. It was said that he was a more peaceful and personal prophet than his predecessor. After the mantle was passed he soon began winning over the people of Jericho when he performs this miracle in verse 19. Elisha then heads to the city of Bethel where he encountered a flock of unruly miscreants.

Apologetics will go to great lengths here to justify the actions of the prophet and of god as acceptable.

So goes the rationalization:

· Elisha was a prophet of god and as such, he was a man specifically ‘chosen’ by god to communicate his will or message. And if you mock them -- you mock god.
· These youths [little children (KJV), small boys (RSV), young lads (NASB)] were actually young men. The Hebrew word for lads ‘naar’ is used and the translation is not totally agreed upon. Perhaps false prophets of Baal, perhaps idolaters, perhaps just rogue thugs.
· These miscreants were not just mocking Elisha in the way we perceive today. Obviously under satan’s influence, they were cursing him in a very scornful, degrading way. Baldness in that day was a disgrace upon man similar to leprosy. And you don’t treat a man of god like that.
· Go on up... refers to Elijah and his ascension and that was seen as a denial/mocking of god’s work.
· Under god’s authority, Elisha issued the judgment in the name of the LORD
· Thus, god taught them a lesson on respect and obedience.

Regardless of the age of the youth, the take-away is apparently: respect people, especially those in positions of higher religious authority. If I believed this to be anything other than myth, I would seriously question why god needed to massacre 42 youths to convey this message.

Moreover, if Jesus and god are one being, how is this not a violation of his moral instruction to (Matt 5:44) love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you?

What does this tell us about god’s justice in relation to today’s world?
Does this point to an answer for the capriciousness of evil that occurs in our world?
Judgments from god?
Has Pat Robertson been right all along?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

If there is no immortality, why shouldn’t all things be permitted?

As a non-believer, I believe that without the existence of god all things should be permitted. Morality has always existed based on the dogmas that religion laid out for us in order to place certain values on certain human aspects. Without this adherence to a moralistic dogma I am now free to act in an openly amoral way.

Now, I’m not referring to acts that would constitute an illegality, rather, let’s just focus on those decisions that a person makes that would construct his or her own social/emotional framework. Love, compassion, mercy, kindness, i.e. all of the values and virtues a man can posses. All of morality is now useless without god.

At this point I would hope that someone would have picked up on the sarcasm. And more to the point, I would hope that theists who claim this line from The Brothers Karamazov use it as a throw away comment. I have found no scriptual relevance to this supposition yet the glib claims are frequently seen. The absurdity of this baffles me. Conversely, I do not believe that theists’ morality is solely determined by its scriptural mandates.

"If man has been kicked up out of that which is only impersonal by chance, then those things that make him man-hope of purpose and significance, love, motions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication-are ultimately unfulfillableand thus meaningless."
—Francis Schaeffer in The God Who Is There

Wow. Just wow.

Unless morality is used as god’s dangling carrot – which I suspect it is--- how does the soul’s (for a lack of a better word) final destination dictate whether or not a moral compass existed during it’s mortal life?

I will leave this open for discussion – the Texas game is about to come on.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It's a societal mantra to only want the best in life for your child(ren). When you become a parent, you understand why. When you become a parent, you understand why everyone says parenting is such an enormous responsibility. You, as the parent, must decide what "the best in life" is so you can do your best to make sure your children get it.

Where we live, the United States (and within the "Bible Belt" in particular), it is a normal part of life to be a Christian and go to Sunday church. In some parts of our fair berg, it's almost ABnormal not to.

Every Sunday morning, Jared and I joke about where we'd like to go to church that day. Sometimes it's Starbucks with a crossword puzzle or two, sometimes it's Taco Cabana with a margarita on the patio (aka the "late" service); depends on our moods. Since we have no children on Sundays, we get to do whatever we want.

Now, back to the kids...
What IS the best in life? Of course, like most any other question, it depends who you ask. It would be nothing new for me to express what I want for my children and the kind of mother I want and strive to be, so I will refer you to a post I wrote last year. I like to read it every now and then to remind myself what I want, and have always wanted for my kids.

(You should be reading the other post at this point...)

Ok, now that you're back, please notice: I did not mention God/god, church, or spirituality.

Jared and I are the only people I know who do not subscribe to religion or theism. I don't have any non-Christian/theist friends that I know of (I don't have that many friends at all because I'm picky and stingy with my love). That means that just about every single other person involved in my children's lives carry the armor of God with them and show it to my children.

Until very recently, I have not been confident in stating that I am an atheist. Until very recently, I have strayed from talking to my son about my beliefs. He's only ten (as he told me the other day), but he's old enough to hear what I have to say if he's old enough to hear the other side (consequently, since birth like most of us). I don't know why I haven't broached the topic before; peer pressure/society makes me feel like the evil mother out to A-theize her innocent child. How sad, that we are all so used to atheist being a negative word that even AS such a person I am resigned to silence.

Do I want my child(ren) to be (an) atheist(s)? Not necessarily. I want them to be whatever they want to be. If it's Jesus that moves their souls, and they've made that choice after having enough insight, evidence, and life experience, so be it. To me, training a child to be atheist is just as bad as training a child to be Christian. Or Muslim. Or whatever. Indoctrination is indoctrination. The careful way to avoid this is to be honest and understanding. I honestly am atheistic. I understand that my child is not. I'd rather he go to church and learn about what I may think to be absurd rather than be ignorant to it all. I have told him that it is fine to learn, because to make an informed choice is important. Conversely, I will tell him that I don't believe there is a heaven or hell, so threats and promises are moot to me.

William Makepeace Thackeray said, "Mother is the name of God in the lips and hearts of little children." Until children are taught about God of the heavens, they don't know what he/it is. Their minds don't look at a flower and instantly wonder where it came from or how it got here; they think it's pretty and bright. It is what it is. Simple. Pretty. Natural. Mother is the be-all-end-all for most young children. The nurturer.

Mother is where they came from, though they don't know it specifically by name until they're taught. I can't be certain, but I assume that a baby nursing on a mother's breast is comfortable doing so for the same reason your own pillow's aroma and softness comforts your mind into slumber; familiarity. The beating heart; the way a voice sounds when heard with an ear against the chest; the rhythm of breathing; the pressure of being held close; it's all familiar, and to a baby, it's possibly the only familiarity. I know that some creationists/Christians/Theists might ask how I could possibly aver that God himself didn't plant seeds within us that we might have a familiarity with him. I would answer that I have never seen an ultrasound of god. I've never heard God like we can hear the sounds inside the womb. I know about babies; I've held my own, the ones who so amazingly grew inside my body. I don't know anything of the sort about god.

My ten year old is just now getting to the hard questions like, "if you hadn't met (sperm donor), who would I be?" and "who made up the words for things?" I believe in telling kids when they're ready, not when I'm ready. Of course, to do that you must first know your children at the very deepest level and have a profound respect for who they are. There are things that need to be said before they are asked, but I don't think God is really one of them. Still, some of us send our kids off to Sunday school with their nickel for offering and their Precious Moments bibles, hoping that someone else can teach the hard stuff; answer the hard questions so we don't have to....provide our kids with the 'truth' we believe but don't quite know how to explain. There are trained kid-indoctrinators for this parents, have no fear.

To step outside your small life and realize what it is possible to do to a child's mind is amazing. I have seen and read about 5 year old white supremacists who have more hate in them than I do for the person who has wronged me in the worst way (metaphorically). We have all heard about Islamic fundamentalist children in training to be terrorists.

We can plant whatever seeds we choose, state things as fact, or just portray something as truth, and because we are the parents, our children take us at our word when they are small. I love it that children are people with minds, and can think rationally at a certain stage of development. Take my son, for instance, at the age of 8:

Cam: "Mom, I don't think the Easter bunny is real."
Mom: "No? Why not?"
Cam: "Because rabbits are mammals, and mammals don't lay or bring eggs."
Mom: "Well, that's very good Cameron. You're right, there is no Easter bunny. It's just a tradition."
Cam: "There's no Santa either, is there?"
Mom: --pause-- "No, there's not."
Cam: "I KNEW it! But mom, you'll never convince me that the tooth fairy is you, because you NEVER have cash."

Critical thinking at it's best. Drawing on knowledge and experience at the same time. Deluded? Yes. Precious? Yes. And one day he'll catch me putting money under his pillow and rethink his logic. :)

My whole point/thought here is this: You can't raise your children to be anything they want to be under the veil of religion. Period. It stagnates thought, hardens hearts against differences, and produces an innate inferiority complex, all while providing grounds for superciliousness and bigotry. Christians, don't believe me? Don't agree? Tell me where I'm wrong in that. Tell me that you knew, at the age of 5 or 10 what prejudice was. Tell me that you don't think differently now about gays, Jews, infidels, murderers, blasphemers, whores, sots, and gamblers than you did when you were a child. You do. We all do. Someone taught us what those things mean, and taught us how to feel about them.

The innocence of childhood is, in my opinion, is overrated. Yes, I love malapropic statements by children. Yes, I love the honest inquiry. When you tell someone that you've revealed the "there's no Santa" revelation to your child(ren), you get a pitiful look that says, "oh, how sad. why'd you do that?" Why is that? "oh, you've just revealed to your child that you're a liar and you won't lie about it anymore, how sad."

Christianity ruins the innocence of children more so than atheism does. Christianity places rules and boundaries that people wrote about eons ago on people of today, translated and interpreted by whomever stands at the pulpit. Children in Christianity who aren't taught to check their facts are doomed to a life of inferior arrogance. Don't look unkindly on me for revealing the truths as I know them rather than letting a complete stranger decide the spiritual needs of and path for my children. Don't you believe God/god gave these children to ME for a reason?

I'm not raising them to hate anyone. I'm not raising them to put themselves above anyone or to hold themselves to a higher standard. I'm not raising them to be so scared of damnation in death that they are closet sinners. Living scared is not for me. Reverence to an invisible and absent god is not for me. Pity for the theistic faithless and worshipers of a different god is not for me.

I prefer here and now. My children are human. My lover is human. I care about humans in the season of life that they are in right now. Not later. Not after death. Now. The spirit of life isn't holy - it can be ugly and flawed. It is imperfect and innocent at its best, and monstrous and murderous at its worst. A 6000 year old story does not give me wisdom for today in America. I can look around and see happiness, sadness, pain, agony, injustice, love, and need without needing to guess why bad things can happen to good people, or why sometimes the bad guy wins. We are all here now. We all have the capacity to help someone in this world and provide a view of love and caring that will pass through generations. This is what will help our human race to survive; what we do now.