It is commonly imagined that atheists think there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding. The truth is that atheists are free to admit that there is much about the Universe that we do not understand.
It is obvious that we don’t understand the Universe but it is even more obvious that neither The Bible nor The Qur’ an reflects our best understanding of it.
There could be life on other planets. Complex life. Technically accomplished civilization. Imagine a civilization that’s a million years old, as supposed to a thousand. Atheists are free to imagine this possibility! They are also free to admit that if such brilliant extraterrestrials exist, The Bible and The Qur’an are going to be less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.
It is also often imagined that atheists are, in principle, closed to spiritual experience. But the truth is that nothing prevents an atheist from experiencing self-transcending love, or ecstasy, or rapture or. in its simplest form, awe. In fact, nothing is preventing an atheist from going to a cave for a year or a decade and practice meditation like a proper mystic.
What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified and unjustifiable claims about the cosmos on the basis of those experiences. There’s no question that disciplines like meditation or prayer have a profound effect on the human mind. But do the positive experiences of, let’s say, Christian mystics, over the ages, suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity?
Not even remotely! Because Christians have been having these experiences, but so do Buddhists, and Muslims, and even atheists! So there’s a deeper reality here and it makes a mockery of religious denominations.
The fact is that whenever human beings make an honest effort to get at a certain truth, they reliably transcend the accidents of their birth and upbringing. It would be absurd to speak about Christian physics, although Christians invented physics and to speak about Muslim algebra, although Muslims have invented algebra. It will one day be absurd to speak about Christian or Muslims ethics or spirituality.
Whatever is true about our circumstance, in ethical and spiritual terms, is discoverable now! And can be articulated without offending or making device of claims about the unique sanctity of any book or dedicating our lives to rumors of ancient miracles.
Finally, there is this notion that atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in the 20th century. Now this is actually amazing because this is the most frequent objection that I have come across but I’ll deal with it briefly.
It’s amazing how many people think that the crimes of Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot and Mao Zedong were the result of atheism. The truth is this is a total misconstrue of what went on with those societies and these psychological and social forces that allow people to follow their dear leader over the brink.
The problem with fascism and communism was not that they were too critical of religion, but the problem is that they are actually LIKE religion. These are utterly dogmatic systems of thought. More than half a decade ago, Rick Warren suggested that North Korea was a ‘model atheist society’ and that any atheist, with the courage of his conviction, should want to move there.
The truth is North Korea is organized exactly like a faith-based cult, centered on the worship of Kim Jong-un. The North Koreans apparently believe that the American shipments of food aid that they receive from them to keep them from starving from death are actually devotional offerings to Kim Jong-un.
Is too little faith really the problem with North Korea? Is too much skeptical inquiry is what is wrong here? Auschwitz, the gulags, and the killing fields are not the product of atheism. They are the product of other dogmas such as nationalism and other political dogmas.
Hitler did not engineer genocide in Europe because of atheism. Hitler does not even appear to be an atheist because he always involved Jesus in his speeches, but that is beside the point. He did it on the basis of other beliefs and dogmas and the purity of German blood.
The history of Muslim Jihad does have something to do with Islam. The atrocities of September 11th did have something to do with what 19 men believed about martyrdom and paradise! The fact that we’re not funding stem cell research at the federal level does have something to do with what Christians believe about conception and human soul.
It’s important to focus on the specific consequences of specific ideas.
I want to make it clear that I am not holding religion responsible for every bad thing that a religious person has done in human history or to be balanced against all the bad things that the atheists have done. I’m only holding religion responsible for what people do and will continue to do, explicitly for religious reasons.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re privileged to have with us a man known all over the world as the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ! How are you, Jesus?
JC: Fine. Thanks, and let me say it’s great to be back.
Can you tell us after all these time why you came back?
JC: Mostly nostalgia.
Could you tell us Jesus a little bit about the first time you where here?
JC: Well, there’s not much to tell. I think everybody knows the story by now. I was born on Christmas and uh, actually that always bothered me because that way I only got one present. You know if I was born a couple of months early I would have had two presents. But look, I’m not complaining. It’s only material.
Were you really born in a stable?
JC: Nah. I was born on a hospital. Bethlehem Jewish Hospital, but the hospital was located in a stable. That’s how the story got started.
And is it true that there was no room at the inn?
JC: Oh no, they had room. We just did not have reservations. My father Joseph, God bless him, he was a simple man. He did not travel much so he forgot to make reservations.
There’s a story that three wise men…
JC: Well there were three kings that showed up. I don’t know how wise they were. They did not look wise. They said they followed a star. That doesn’t sound wise to me.
Didn’t they bring gifts?
JC: Yes. Uh… God, frankincense and, I believe, myrrh. Which I never did find out what that was. You do not happen to know what myrrh was, did you?
Uh, well, I believe it is a reddish-brown, bitter gum resin.
JC: Oh great! Great! Just what I need! A gum resin. What am I going to do with a gum resin? I’d rather have the money. That way I can go out and buy something I need. You know, something I would not normally buy for myself.
What would that be?
JC: I do not know. Maybe a bathing suit? I never had a bathing suit. Maybe a Devo hat or a bicycle. I really could have used a bicycle. You realize the walking I did? I must have Canaan six or eight times, up and down, North and South, walking and talking, doing miracles, telling stories.
Tell us about the miracles. How many miracles did you perform?
JC: A grand total of 107 miracles, not counting the loaves and fishes.
Why don’t you count the loaves and the fishes?
JC: Well, technically that one was not a miracle.
It was not?
JC: It turned out a lot of people were putting them back. Did not like them. Actually not all of those miracles were pure miracles, anyway.
What do you mean? What were they if they weren’t miracles?
JC: Some of them were parlor tricks, optical illusions, mass hypnosis, hallucinations, and acupressure. That’s how I cured most of the blind guys. Acupressure.
So not all of the New Testament is true?
JC: No. Some of that Gospel stuff never happened at all. It was just made up. Luke and Mark used a lot of drugs. See, Luke was really a physician and he had access to drugs. Matthew and John were okay, but Luke and Mark would write anything.
What about raising Lazarus from the dead?
JC: First of all, he was not dead. He was hung over. That’s all.
But in The Bible, you said he was dead.
JC: I said he LOOKED dead. I said ‘Hey, he looks dead!’. You see Lazarus was a very heavy sleeper, plus the day before, we’ve been to a wedding feast and poured away a lot of wine.
Was that the wedding feast at Canaan where you changed the water into wine?
JC: I do not know. We went to an awful lot of wedding feasts.
But did you really turned water into wine?
JC: Not that I know of. One time I did turn apple juice into milk but I really don’t recall the water-into-wine thing.
Alright. Speaking of water, let me ask you about another miracle. What about walking on the water? I mean, did that really happened?
JC: Oh yeah. That was one that really happened. You see the problem was I can do it but the other guys could not do it! They were jealous. Peter got mad at me so he got these special big shoes that if you start out walking real fast you can float on the water for a little while. That of course, after a few yards down he goes into the water and sank like a rock. That’s why I called him and said ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I shall build my church’.
Well that brings up the apostles! What can you tell us about the apostles?
JC: Well they were a good bunch of guys. You know, they smelled like bait but they were a good bunch of guys. Fourteen of them, we had.
Fourteen? The Bible says there were only twelve.
JC: Well, that was according to Luke. I told you about Luke. Actually, we had fourteen apostles. We have Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, the other James, Thaddaeus… Let’s see, how many is that?
JC: Okay, uh… Simon, Judas, Matthias, who replaced that bastard Judas, and Red.
JC: Yeah. We called him ‘Red the apostle’.
Red the apostle? He doesn’t appear on The Bible.
JC: That’s because he kept pretty much to himself. He never came to any miracles. He was a little strange. He even thought that the Red Sea was named after him.
What about Judas?
JC: Hey, don’t get me started on Judas.
Okay, well, what about the other apostles? For instance, Thomas. Was he really a doubter?
JC: This guy, Thomas, you could not tell him nothing, you know. He’s always asking me for my ID. As soon as I see him, he’ll go ‘Got any ID?’. To this day, he does not believe I am God.
Are you God?
JC: Well, partly. You know that. I am a member of The Trinity.
Yes. In fact, you’ve written a book about The Trinity, haven’t you?
JC: That’s right. It’s called ‘Three is a crowd’.
As I understand, it’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on The Holy Ghost.
JC: Listen, it is not an attack. You want to know what it is? I do not get along with the Holy Ghost. Right? So I leave him alone. That’s it. What he does, it’s his business.
Well why? What is the reason?
JC: Well first of all, you never know what he is going to be. Everyday that he shows up, he is something different. One day, he is a dove, another day he is a tongue of fire. Always fooling around! I do not bother with the guy, I do not want to know about him, I do not want to see him and I do not want to talk to him.
Well, let me change the subject. Is there really a place called Hell?
JC: Oh yes. Hell. Sure. There is also a ‘Heck’. It’s not as severe, but we got Heck and Hell.
What about Purgatory?
JC: Hmm. Don’t know nothing about no Purgatory. We got Heaven, Heck, Hell and Limbo.
What is Limbo like?
JC: I don’t know. No one is allowed in there. If anyone was in there, it would not be Limbo. Then it would be a place.
Getting back to your previous visit, Jesus. What can you tell us about the last supper?
JC: Well first of all, if I had known I was going to be nailed to a cross, I would have had a bigger meal. You never want to be crucified on an empty stomach.
The Crucifixion must have been terrible.
JC: It was awful, I got to tell you. Unless you have gone through it yourself, you could never know how painful it was. And tiring. It was very, very tiring and embarrassing. More than anything, it was embarrassing. Right in front of everybody to be crucified. Well, I do not know. I guess it redeemed a lot of people.
Were you scared?
JC: Yeah. In the end, I thought it was going to rain. I was afraid I might get hit by lightning. But all in all, I would say that when I was here I had a good time.
What do you think about Christianity?
JC: Well, I’m a little bit embarrassed about it. If I had to do it all over again, I think I’d start one of them Eastern religions like Buddha did. Buddha was smart! That’s why he’s always laughing.
You would not want to be a Christian?
JC: No. I do not want to be a member of any group that has a man nailed on to two pieces of wood as a symbol. Especially if it is me! While, Buddha is laughing, I am nailed to a cross.
I have a few more questions, do you mind?
JC: Hey, be my guest! How often do I get here?
Are there really angels?
JC: Well, not as many as we used to have. Years ago, we had millions of them. Today you can’t get the young people to join. Got to dangerous with radar and heat-seeking missiles.
What about guardian angels?
JC: Well, we still have guardian angels. But now, it’s one angel for every six people. Years ago, everybody has their own guardian angel.
Do you really answer prayers?
JC: No. First of all, most of them do not even get through! I mean, you got sunspots, you got radio interference. Years ago, we answered them all because the world has fewer people back then and they prayed for something simple. To light a fire, to catch a yak, something like that. Today, you got people praying for basketball teams, people praying for longer fingernails. We just can’t keep up with them.
Well, I think we are just about of time! I certainly want to thank you for visiting with us.
JC: Hey, no sweat.
You have any last thought or words of advice?
JC: You mean how to remove perspiration stains from a garment, something like that?
Uh, no. I mean spiritual advice.
JC: Well, I do not know how spiritual it is but I’ll say one thing: Don’t give your money to the Church! They should be giving their money to you!
Well, thank you, Jesus and have a good day!
JC: You too. Thanks for having me on this here interview today. Oh and by the way, big bands are definitely not coming back!
I object to the use of “usage” when it’s used in place of “use”. There’s nothing wrong with using “use”. It’s been in use for a long time and I’m used to it. It isn’t that “usage” isn’t useful, I simply have no use for its current usage. The use of “usage” should be consistent with good usage. I prefer to say “My use of the internet” rather than “My usage”. If I meant it collectively, I might say “The Philippine usage of the internet” but, so far, I haven’t meant that.
And as I’m using space on “usage”, I’ll use some more on “utilize”. Using “utilize” instead of utilizing “use” is one of those attempts to make things sound more important than they really are. Sports announcers and commentators do that all the time. They imply big words incorrectly.
“He’s not utilizing all his skills!”
They don’t understand that an athlete does not “utilize” his skills. He “uses” them. The coach “utilizes” his players while the players “use” their skills.
Don’t use “utilize” when you should be utilizing “use”.
Another sports announcing crime is the use of the word “differential” when they mean “difference”. For example,
“There was a 12-point differential at half-time.”
No. Sorry. It was a 12-point “difference” at half-time. Differential is a mechanical or a mathematical term, and by mathematical I don’t mean San Antonio Spurs 55, Indiana Pacers 43. “Difference” and “differential” are different.
Go Spurs Go!
It also annoys me that people sometimes claim to see a “linkage” when they actually see a “link”. I think “link” is fine. “Linkage” reminds me of a car’s transmission. In fact, my car’s linkage is located somewhere near the differential.
“Stoppage” is another troublesome word. The most frequently heard euphemism for a labor strike is “work stoppage”. Apparently, labor strike sounded too Marxist for the locals. “Stoppage” sounds like an obstructed bowel and stoppage is much too close to sewage for my comfort.
“Usage”, “linkage”, and “stoppage” remind me of “outage”. “Outage” sounds like something is done when a gay person’s identity is revealed. But actually, its most frequent use inscribing a loss of electricity. A “power outage”. We used to say “power failure” but I guess my countrymen do not want to admit failure, even when it manifests.
Regardless, we ought to find better way to answer the question “What happened to the lights?”
By the way, I recently heard the following sentence in a local news report:
“Because of the tropical storm, about a thousand families are without power.”
And I thought, “Gee, when you think about it, about 93 million people in The Philippines are without power. They just aren’t aware of it.”
I don’t care for athletes who point to the sky after they have accomplished something on the field or court. Especially the ones who kneel down, bow their heads and make a big show of being believers.
You know something? God does not like that shit. He is not impressed with spiritual grandstanding. It surely embarrasses him. When athletes kneel down to him, he is probably saying
“Get up, you phony show-off bullshit athlete! Pay attention to the fucking game! I took the points!”
Imagine the conceit of these people who think God is helping them and looking for his for their acknowledgment. I say play now, pray later. It’s better if they don’t pray at all. Sheesh.
A lot of people in this country want to tell you what you can and cannot talk about. Sometimes they will you can talk about something but you can not joke about it, like Manny Pacquiao’s latest loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, catastrophes or crimes like rape.
They’ll say “Rape is not funny!”, I say “Fuck you, I think it’s hilarious. How you like that?”. I can prove rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Daisy Duck. See? Hey, why do you think they call him “porky”? I know what men are going to say. “Daisy was asking for it! She was coming on to Porky. She had tight feathers on. Porky got horny and he lost control!”.
A lot of men talk like that. They blame it on the woman, you know. They will always say “She had it coming! She was wearing a short skit.”. Does not seem fair to me. Does not seem right. But I believe you can joke about it!
I believe you can joke about anything. Just depends on how you construct a joke and what the exaggeration is. Every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing way out of proportion.
For example, have you ever seen a news story like this: “Some burglar broke into a house, stole some things and while he is in there, he raped an 81 year old woman.” and you think to yourself: “WHY?! What the fuck kind of social life this guy have? I wanna ask him why did he do that!” but I know what I will hear:
“Hey! She was coming on to me! She had a tight bathrobe on!” and I’m thinking…
“Next time, be a little more selective, will ya?”
Now, speaking of rape, but changing the topic slightly .. You know what I wonder? I wonder if there is more rape around the Northern Hemisphere or near the Equator. Per capita. I know the populations are different. I think it’s the Northern Hemisphere. Most people will think it’s the Equator because it is hot down here and people don’t wear a lot of clothing, guys can see women’s tits and they get horny and there’s a lot of raping and fucking in general.
But that’s exactly there’s less rape near the Equator. Because there is a lot of fucking in general! You can tell the countries and territories near the Equator has a lot of fucking. Look at the population figures! Billions of people live near the equator!
Near the North Pole, how many Eskimos we got? No one is getting laid there! It’s too cold!
An Eskimo says to his wife “Hey honey, how about some pussy?”, she says “Wally, are you crazy? It’s 150 below!”. Eskimo guys are deprived, they’re horny and every now and then, they got to rape somebody.
Now, the biggest problem an Eskimo rapist has is trying to get wet leather leggings off a woman who doesn’t want to take them off. Have you ever tried to pull leather off someone who is trying to kick you in your nuts? Takes a lot of effort, and in the process you’d lose your hard-on. In fact, at the North Pole, your dick will shrivel up like a stack of dimes. That’s another thing I wonder…
Does a rapist have a hard-on when he leaves the house in the morning? Or does it develop during the day while he is walking around and checking out a girl?