Tag Archives: atheism

Understanding the man in the sky

the invention of lying

As I watched the ‘invention of lying’, I got the feeling the idea of the man in the sky had been blown out of context. He is portrayed as a cold and vengeful being. If I got a chance to speak with Mark and all the people in that movie, I would help them understand that God is merciful, and loves us unconditionally.

If God was actually vindictive like Mark and the rest of the cast made Him appear, there wouldn’t be believers in the first place. I would also help them understand that there is God, and there is Satan; two powerful beings fighting against each other. God builds, while Satan destroys. Ergo, from a Christian’s perspective, Satan is the root of all evil.

Later Mark finds out Anna is getting married to a guy he hates. She goes to see him at his place and finds him looking all unkempt with an overgrown beard and hair, and as he’s gotten right out of bed, he opens the door covered up in a white sheet. His ragged look depicts Jesus. After Anna leaves, his friend later comes and convinces him to attend her wedding and he accepts.

In the ‘church’ where the wedding is taking place, there is an image of mark holding the pizza boxes in place of the image of Jesus crucified on the cross. As the movie plays on, I get a lot of the religious stuff that is indirectly brought out, poking holes in Christianity; and the movie I had initially thought was some sought of fantasy turns out to be an anti-Christian thing, depicting Jesus as the greatest liar.

When Mark stands to oppose the marriage, they say only the man in the sky can stop the wedding. Anna goes ahead to ask Mark what the man in the sky wants. He refuses to tell her and walks out. He visits his mom’s grave and tells her, only he knows she is still there, buried in the ground, contrary to what he told the world about ‘heaven’.

Anna finds him and he tells her he lied to the world about the man in the sky, and that he made it all up; the man in the sky doesn’t exist.

Looking at it from Mark’s perspective, it’s understandable why someone would believe there is no God. There is so much evil in the world, and what’s the point of living a life full of misery so that one can live happily ever after in the afterlife?

Growing up, I always wondered why someone would believe there is no God. I was brought up in a very religious setting and my belief in God became the foundation on which my life was based. But with the advancing technology, the internet and all, I have met people and made friends who don’t believe in God. So now I understand that one’s disbelieve in God doesn’t mean they are evil.

I have tried researching on what atheists believe; what makes them come to the conclusion there is no God, and one thing I have come to understand is that basically the difference between atheists and Christians is that whereas the former don’t believe in the metaphysical world, the latter ‘see the unseen’, through the eyes of faith.

With this in mind, I know it would be difficult explaining the whole idea of an Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and an Omniscient God to someone who doesn’t believe in a ‘supernatural world’.

The people ask Mark, why the man in the sky had to wait that long to reveal himself. I imagine that would be indirectly, questioning Jesus’ arrival; why He came into the world when so many people had suffered and died? Previously, before Christianity began, God was there, and He used to make more indiscreet appearances, talking to people and sending prophets.

However, that didn’t seem to work. So He eventually sent His son Jesus, making Him the ultimate sacrifice, whose blood would cleanse us all and save us from eternal death-the wage of sin.

And about people making choices in life, like with Anna’s wedding, God gave us all free will, to do whatever we want. For a minute, let’s all say God is real. So what would happen if He didn’t let us choose? For starters, we would all be Christians, whether we liked it or not; however, because of His Omniscient nature, He knows things we don’t, and because He loves us so much, He helps us make the right choices.

When God created the world, everything was good. The world was untainted by sin and evil. But then, the devil came in, tempted Eve to eat the fruit, which would help them know right from wrong, and she tempted Adam. Subsequently vices like jealousy sprung up, making Cain turn against his brother Abel; and that was the origin of sin and death. Eve and Adam’s choice led to that and now we have to live with the consequences.

All in all, faith is a complex thing. It’s all about one’s personal beliefs based on their upbringing and life experiences. If, for instance, anyone asked me to give proof that God is real, I would say it’s because I feel His presence in everything. But would that be enough to convince someone who is sceptical about God’s existence? No.

Each one of us has valid reasons why they believe in God or not, and epiphanies don’t just happen; they are triggered by some experience. Something interesting I realized is that from a logical perspective, the arguments many atheists make for not believing in God actually make sense. So the principal aspect that makes all the difference is faith, which essentially defies logic.

In my opinion, this debate about whether God is real or not may continue for a very long time. What we need to do though, is respect each other’s choices and live in harmony, in spite of the varying beliefs.

Man in the sky

invention of lying 2

Recently I watched this movie: the invention of lying. It’s a 2009 release, starring Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais, where they try to show how lying started. My small sister had me watching it after telling me she always wanted to watch that movie and even though I found it slow at first, I got curious…

In the movie, people live in an alternate reality, where no one knows what lying is. As a result, they are brutally honest, always hurting each other’s feelings; because truth is, as much as we condemn lying, those little white lies help a great deal.

Ricky Gervais’ character, Mark, had just lost his job and had been kicked out by his landlord. Frustrated, he decides to go close his bank out. When he gets to the counter the teller tells him the computers are down; so she asks him how much money he has in his account. Then, a reaction in his brain causes him to lie. Instead of saying he has $300 in his account, he says $800; the money he owes his landlord.

Right then, the computer comes back online and the teller finds out he has $300; but since no one knows what lying is, she believes him, assuming the computer made an error and she goes ahead to give him $800. That becomes the world’s first lie. Amazed at being able to say something that is not true, he goes to a bar and tells his friends about it.

After that first lie, he tells more lies, after realizing that sometimes lying is good because it prevents people from getting hurt, especially when the truths are really bitter and difficult to handle. He prevents his friend from getting arrested for drunk driving by lying to the traffic police that he is not really drunk, and prevents his frustrated neighbour from committing suicide.

Excited about his new discovery-lying-he calls up Anna; a beautiful, wealthy woman he wanted to go out with, but who didn’t like him as much because of his bad financial status and his physical appearance.

Later, Mark gets a call that his mom has suffered a heart attack. He goes to hospital and finds out his mom is dying and is really afraid to die because she is scared of ending up in nothingness. Compassionately, he tells her not to be afraid because she will be happy where she is going. He introduces the concept of afterlife and heaven.

Soon after, his mom dies and the doctors, who were listening in the entire time he was talking to his mom marvel at the whole concept of afterlife. The whole world gets to learn of his new discovery and people camp outside his house so he can tell them more about life after death.

Obviously he knew he had lied to his mother so she could pass on peacefully, but Anna asks how his mom felt after knowing she would be happy where she was going and how he personally felt when he helped his mom die in peace. He says he felt good in both instances. She asks him to imagine how he would feel helping the whole world if he told them all he knows.

Giving in to the pressure, he sits down to write what he would tell the world; which eagerly waits to hear his revelations. Eventually he steps outside with the ‘ten rules’ written on pizza boxes. Here I get the impression he is mimicking Moses, when he received the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai.

He goes on to read the rules, which he claims have been given to him by the ‘man in the sky’. Mark tells the people gathered outside his house that when they die they will go to a happy place where they will all live in mansions and eat ice cream, but that will be if they don’t do bad things.

They ask if the man in the sky is the one who causes cancer and accidents, to which he says yes. Enraged, they say they should get rid of the bastard in the sky before he causes them more harm. Mark quickly adds that the man in the sky also brings the good things too. In response they ask, “So the man in the sky is sought of a good guy and a bad guy?”

Mark shrugs and says yes. He tells them that the man in the sky rewards them for all the bad things they’ve gone through here on earth when they die.

After that revelation, there are numerous headlines in newspapers: man in the sky continues to kill babies with AIDS; man in the sky helps woman live for 104 years; man in the sky kills 40,000 people in tsunami.

Mark subsequently finds himself questioning the same things he told the people; for instance asking Anna not to sleep with someone she is not married to, then realizing she was going to give him a gift voucher for sex with her for his birthday. He feels befuddled when he realizes he just missed a golden opportunity to sleep with her.

When relaxing with his neighbour, who wanted to commit suicide, he asks if he is happy since the discovery of the man in the sky and if he’s found love, but he says he is just taking things easy because he knows he will eventually live happily when he dies.

From what I understood, the neighbour indirectly says, there is no need for one to struggle to be happy on earth because all that will be given on a silver platter when they die…

 

How to deal with non-believers

united-seeing past differences

I’ve never understood why, but some Christians treat all non-believers like they’re sinners and will therefore go to hell. Well here are a few words of enlightenment: be wise in the way you act towards those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone (Colossians 4: 5-6).

Sometimes I come across Christians who say they are saved, but the things they do/say leave me with so many doubts about their salvation. In many of my posts, I’ve talked about the issue of judging others; acting all self-righteous and all. What makes me question someone’s idea of salvation is not because I feel I’m a better Christian, but because I wonder, if I wasn’t really a believer already, how many of the Christians I’ve met would convince me to give my life to Christ?

From what I have gathered over time, everyone has a justified reason as to why they do/don’t profess a certain faith. If someone is a non-believer, does that mean they will automatically be damned to hell on judgement day? Not really. In any case Jesus believed that some pagans are better than those who call themselves believers.

Some of us feel like they are warranted to condemn others because they are believers and in their eyes, those who don’t believe in God are sinners. According to many Bible verses, God hates self-righteousness. In Luke 18: 9-14, Jesus told a parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else:

“Once there were two men who went up to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like the tax collector over there. I fast two days a week and give you a tenth of all my income.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his head to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’

I tell you,” said Jesus, “the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For everyone who makes himself great will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be made great.”

So when a believer shouts, “You will go to hell!” to a non-believer, what does one suppose God thinks of that believer? It is not our place to condemn. Only an ignorant person would assume that all those who don’t believe in God will be damned.

In his letter to the Colossians 2: 16-19, Paul says, “So let no one make rules about what you eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon festival or the Sabbath. All such things are only a shadow of things in the future; the reality is Christ. Do not allow yourselves to be condemned by anyone who claims to be superior because of special visions and who insists on false humility and the worship of angels.

For no reason at all, such a person is all puffed up by his human way of thinking and has stopped holding on to Christ, who is the head of the body.”

Identifying ourselves as Christians, makes us believe we know exactly what’s wrong; who is right or not, but the truth is, only God knows who is guilty/innocent. If a believer assumes that a neighbour who doesn’t go to church has already booked a ticket to hell, then one ought to know that those we condemn might actually be the ones who are actually right in the eyes of God.

In Proverbs 16: 2, King Solomon says, “You may think everything you do is right, but the Lord judges your motives.” So it really doesn’t matter if one spends all their time in church praying, fasting and tithing religiously every month.

Jesus condemns hypocrisy. In Matthew 23: 23-27, He says, “How terrible of you teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the law, such as justice and mercy and honesty.

These you should practice without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel! How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of your cup and plate, while the inside is full of what you have gotten by violence and selfishness. Blind Pharisees!

Clean what is inside the cup first, and then the outside will be clean too! How terrible for you, teachers of law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside. In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.”

In very simple words, Jesus is the holiest man, who has ever walked this earth, yet He didn’t go around castigating those who didn’t believe in Him/His Father. He loved everyone, without discriminating and used the best examples to inspire love for His Father and not fear in people’s hearts. So if He didn’t despise, why should we?

If Jesus popped in on a conversation between you-a Christian-and a non-believer, would He be proud of you, or would He unleash the ‘hypocrite!’ admonishment on you? If you were a non-believer, would a Christian doing the things you do, both in public and in private, convince you to join the faith?