Evil In Eden

http://mobi.godanriver.com/godanriver/db_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=LKGCIXpi&full=true#display

Please take a moment to read the story linked above.  I will give a brief summary here.  

A couple from Eden, NC was arrested in connection to the death of their 17 month old daughter named Toni.  The following is excerpted from the report:

The warrant for Antonio Gwynn said that he restrained the toddler in a car seat for more than 15 hours without food or water.

After 12 hours, he pushed a blanket into the mouth of Toni Gwynn “in order to stop child from crying and thus restricted the airway causing the child’s death,” according to the arrest warrant.

This story makes me sick to my stomach!  As a parent of three myself with one of them being an infant, I cannot fathom how any person could do this to a defenseless child!  Evil is the only word that fits this crime, but even that word is not harsh enough.

I do not want to comment on the parents’ guilt or innocence.  Remember, they are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.   Some facts gathered from the report and arrest warrant are:

1.  A 17 month old child died.

2.  The child (Toni) was strapped in a car seat for an estimated period of 15 hours.

3.  The child is believed to have died of asphyxiation from a blanket being pushed into her mouth.

These facts are just based upon this one report.  I have not seen the evidence myself nor talked to witnesses.  So, I do not claim to know these facts as proof beyond a reasonable doubt about the incident.  But let’s go with them for the sake of this article since a magistrate saw enough probable cause to issue arrest warrants.

Now, I want to give you two hypothetical scenarios.  Each one will have questions that I want you to answer honestly.  Remember your answers and do not read ahead (I know!  Telling some of you not to read ahead has caused you to skip to the end already!).  If you cannot answer the same way to the last set of questions as the first, you are being intellectually dishonest.

1.  Suppose there was a third person involved in this incident.  This person knew the child was being held hostage in a car seat.  This person was also in the room with the child.  He or she was watching as the child suffered.  Not only that, but this person had the ability and power to stop the this incident.  Would you think this person should be held morally accountable?  Would you consider him or her to be a good person?  Would you believe this person loved the child?

2.  Suppose a cop is walking his beat.  He passes a building and turns down a dark alley.  He begins to hear the sound of a woman in distress.  She is yelling for help.  The cop shines his flashlight around and discovers that a man is raping this woman in the alley.  The cop runs up close to the incident and stops.  He tells the woman, “I am here for you.  I will protect you.”  Then he just stands there.  He knows what is happening.  He is present at the incident.  He has the power to stop it.  The rapist finishes his evil deed and flees the scene.  The cop does not give chase.  The cop tells the woman, ” See, I told you I would protect you.  I love you.”  She screams, “You didn’t do anything!  Why didn’t you stop him?”  The cop replies, “I could not violate his free will.”  Would you say this was a good cop?  How would you feel if somebody told you, “You should be thankful to the cop that you made it out alive”?  Did this cop protect her?

I think I know how any reasonable and moral person would answer these questions.  Yet, the Christian God falls into the category of the cop and supposed third person of our scenarios.  According to Christian theology, God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (all places), and omnibenevolent (all good).  Then it follows that God was at the house in Eden, NC as this infant was being tortured and suffocated.  He knew that it was happening.  He had the power to stop it.  And since He is all-good, He should want to stop it.  Yet, He did nothing.  Christians, should God be held morally accountable?  Do you still consider Him good?  Did He love her?  There is no difference in God being there and this hypothetical third person.  So, if you answer differently, you have to explain why.  I don’t want you to try to answer these questions to me, but answer truthfully to yourself.

Consider the second scenario.  Even though it is an imaginary scenario, God could be equated with this cop for every rape that has occurred.  Why would a rape victim be told to pray to the person that was present when the incident transpired, but did not do anything?

I know a lot of you are probably upset or saddened to read these challenging questions from me.  These are issues I have struggled with for years.  I used to make excuses and try to make it all work because I wanted to believe.  Finally, I realized that I was not being honest, and my arguments fell short.  I do not imagine that I have changed anyone’s mind with this article, but I hope it will challenge you.  

 

P.S.  I know many of you are probably wanting to bring up the argument of free will.  That God gave humans the ability to choose and God cannot or will not violate man’s free will.  I think this argument fails on many fronts.  I will deal with this argument in my next blog post.

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Ideas for Independence

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Tomorrow (July 4th) is Independence Day in America.  It is a day set aside to remember when America’s Founders declared their independence from the British government.  I do not want to talk about the history surrounding the holiday, but I want to give some ideas of how to be independent yourself.

I.  Individuality

You are an individual.  You are unique.  Do not let anyone take that away from you.  So often we are forced to try to fit within certain guidelines.  As humans we like to associate things.  This helps us to understand our surroundings.  So, we have created labels.  Labels based on geography  (American, Canadian, Mexican).  Labels based on political ideology (Republican or Democrat).  Labels based on religious beliefs (Christian, Muslim, Jew).  Sometimes this pressures us into thinking we have to fall into one of these categories.  You may not line up under any particular political party or religious belief.  Yet, the pressure to conform sets in.  An independent person defines him or herself.  Some people describe themselves by their profession.  I enjoy the job that I work, but it’s just the means of an income.  It is what I do not who I am.  Come to your own conclusions of what type of person you are.

II.  Information

Knowledge is power.  Expose yourself to as much information as possible on any given subject.  It has been said that ignorance is bliss.  There is definitely some truth to this statement.  But ignorance can also be a tool of control.  Some people have irrational fears that others can exploit to control them.  Irrational fears are typically based on lack of knowledge.  Parents use this tactic all the time. For example… (How many parents have ever used this?)  If you keep that face, it is going to freeze like that.  The child lacks the knowledge to know that this will not happen.  So, the child complies with the instruction.  This is just a simple example.  Con artists are experts at using your ignorance against you.  Many car sales people or repair personnel will take advantage of someone they determine may lack knowledge of vehicles or vehicle maintenance.  The next time you buy a car, do some research on prices, car styles, safety features, etc.  This gives you power and will probably prevent you from being ripped off.

III.  Influence

I like the second definition given for influence at dictionary.com: the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another orothers:

I find it amazing how humans can convey their thoughts from one person to another.  We are able to use air coming out of our lung passing through our vocal chords to make sounds.  These sounds are made into words which convey ideas.  This sound is received into another’s ears and processed by the brain.  We do this with such frequency that we rarely stop to appreciate it.  Even when one person cannot hear, the other person can use sign language to express his or her thoughts.  Right now you are looking at shapes (letters, words, sentences) which are creating thoughts inside your mind.  These thoughts can stir up emotions within you.  And if an argument (line of reasoning) is powerful enough, it can change the way you think.

Can’t we influence others without intimidation?  Can’t we influence others without indoctrination?  Isn’t using persuasion better than using power?  Use the power of language to convince others of your side.  Do not resort to threats, force or fear.  Nobody lives their lives in a vacuum.  We influence others and are influenced by others daily.  You can influence someone in a positive or negative way.  Being independent means removing the negative influences and keeping the positive ones.

In conclusion:  Be an informed independent individual with a incredible influence.

Freedom of Thought (Part 2)

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I have received a lot of feedback about my last post, “Freedom of Thought”.  I would like to continue along those lines in this post.  In this post I really want to challenge you.  I challenge you to be honest.  Evaluate your beliefs. 

I.  Challenge

Put your beliefs to the test.  Challenge them.  Ask the tough questions.  Do not just ask, “What do I believe?”, but “Why do I believe it?”  Why should I believe what you believe?  Do you believe things because of fear, faith, or fact?  Do you do things a certain way because that’s the way it’s always been done?  Asking questions is a great way to cut to the core of an issue and find the truth.  I feel that if somebody says that something cannot be questioned, it is because there is something to hide.  Suppose a politician was accused of embezzling government funds.  Bank records indicate that the same amount of money that was stolen was deposited into his account.  The IP address used to make the transfer came back to the politician’s computer.  The media becomes aware of the facts in the case and decide to question him.  He says, “I am an elected official and should not be questioned because of my position.”  Would this be acceptable to you?  Wouldn’t your first assumption be that he was trying to hide something?  

II.  Consistency

Applying the same standard to your beliefs as you would to others beliefs.  You reject one religion’s claims because they are illogical, immoral, or indecent.  Will you apply the same thinking if your religion’s claims are pointed out to be the same?  Say you are a Republican and you point out a failed promise made by a Democrat.  Will you also point out when Republicans fail to keep promises?  Everybody likes to think they’re right and it can be difficult to admit when we’re wrong.  Consistency brings honesty and fairness to the discussion.  

III.  Change

This is the tough one.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Are you willing to change your beliefs if they are found to be wrong?  This takes courage and commitment.  Don’t be afraid to change your beliefs because of what someone else may think about you.  True friends will accept you based on your character.  Something I really want you to ponder…Should I believe something just because others say I will be punished for not believing it?  This is just a fear tactic.  You should believe something because of the truth and validity of the claim based on sound reason and solid evidence.  

Conclusion:  I am not telling anybody to change their beliefs.  I am just posing a challenge.  You have to apply these principles and answer these questions for yourself.  If we are not willing to apply these rules to our own beliefs (whether religious, political or otherwise), then we are being intellectually dishonest.  Never be content with the amount of knowledge you possess.  Ever since I have freed my mind to think outside the box and the book, I have a hunger to learn.  A whole world has been opened to me!  Science, history, logic, and philosophy are my main interests at the moment.  We have more access to information than any time in history due to the internet.  It would be a shame to waste it.  I am trying to add my two little cents worth by writing this blog.  Please consider what I have written.

Freedom of Thought

I read a lot of articles about freedom.  Most people think about freedom as free from the restraints and coercion of government.  While governments do their best to take our freedom, we limit our own freedom in many ways.  Debt can be extremely limiting to your freedom.

Let us consider the freedom of thought.  Do you feel free to think about issues your way?  Will you allow yourself to read the arguments of those with opposing views?   Are you free to question what you have always been taught?  Do you challenge the status quo?  Remember, errors continue when they are not challenged.  Answer these questions honestly.  If you answered “No.” to any one of these then you are not free in your mind.  Mental shackles usually hold us longer than physical ones.

Let me give you a little of my background.  I was raised in an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church.  IFB churches are notorious for forcing you to see life through their tainted lenses.  You are expected to accept whatever the pastor teaches without question.  If you do question anything, you are considered “backslidden” or  rebellious.  For many years I went along to get along.  I had questions, but I pushed them to the back of my mind. I convinced myself the “devil” was making me doubt.  I surrendered to preach, and even attended bible college for two years.

Through a long process of events (that I will not go into now), the questions came back and accompanied by more.  I continued to put on a front and preach anyway.  Finally I realized that I was nothing more than an impostor.  I was basically an actor that would put on a performance and repeat rehearsed lines.  I was doing this to maintain an image for others.  Recently I have gotten to the point that I cannot put on the show anymore.  I am no longer preaching and have no desire to be in full-time ministry.  I am no longer associated with the IFB and actively expose it as often as possible.  This may shock some of you or some may have expected it.  I have to be true to myself and my family.

Now, I have such freedom of thought.  I ask questions that aren’t supposed to be asked.  I challenge premises.  I read as much as I can.  I do not feel bound to believe things because I am told it is true.  I am not ashamed to say I do not have all the answers.  I can say, “I don’t know.”

I challenge you to “think outside the box” (if I can use a cliche’).  Question everything.  Do not let a man behind a pulpit tell you what to think!   Allow logic and reason to guide you.  Cast off the chains within your mind and enjoy freedom!