John Calvin, predestination, free will, and the ideal of justice for all

Read this:

http://predestination.com/John-Calvin.html

John Calvin wrote many pages about his belief in predestination, and it would be difficult to properly summarize them all here. Instead, here is an excerpt from The Institutes of Christian Religion. This text is from the chapter on predestination. You can read more of the chapter here if you wish. This is the excerpt:

Predestination, by which God adopts some to the hope of life, and adjudges others to eternal death, no one, desirous of the credit of piety, dares absolutely to deny. But it is involved in many cavils, especially by those who make foreknowledge the cause of it. We maintain, that both belong to God; but it is preposterous to represent one as dependent on the other. When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before His eyes, so that to His knowledge nothing in future or past, but all things are present; and present in such a manner, that He does not merely conceive of them from ideas formed in His mind, as things remembered by us appear present to our minds, but really beholds and sees them as if actually placed before Him. And this foreknowledge extends to the whole world, and to all the creatures. Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself what would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is fore-ordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death. This God has not only testified in particular persons, but has given a specimen of it in the whole posterity of Abraham, which should evidently show the future condition of every nation to depend upon His decision. “When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, the Lord’s portion was His people; Jacob was the lot of His inheritance.”

If you presume the existence of God and also his omniscience, then you may assume that God knows ahead of time who will be saved and who will be damned. Thus God being totally sovereign as well means he DECREES the eternal fates of individuals. The elect go to heaven, the rejected go to hell.

But where is the justice in that? If people have no choice in the matter, how can subjecting people to a final judgement make sense? Would it be reasonable for a suspect brought to trial for a crime to argue that he had no choice when he committed his acts of murder or theft? And if he was forced to do those crimes, wouldn’t that be a defense for NOT imprisoning him?

This dilemma would be solved by rejecting the notion of God’s omniscience….or by rejecting theism completely. John Calvin was a delusional idiot.

Not to mention he had put to death Michael Servetus for rejecting the Trinity and therefore being one of the Unitarians. Thus showing what a hypocrite Calvin was after he rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church! Freedom for me, not for thee.

My current thoughts on religion

In order for a religion to be true, its teachings must be consistent with reality. Science is the intellectual tool used to find out what reality is and used to be. Thus, any religious doctrine that contradicts modern science is false. That discredits any form of Biblical literalism. We know the creation stories in the Book of Genesis couldn’t have happened; they are just like all the other creation myths that were made up by primitive peoples before science as a means of discovery was invented.

Likewise, the flood myth of Noah is impossible. It too was a product of prescientific thinking, and has no input from reality. The Babylonians had their own flood myth, as did the Greeks, the Indians, and other peoples. Because…..flooding happens all over the world, but only for a short time and on a local basis. The notion of a worldwide flood lasting for several months is completely unfounded. So we can throw out many of the stories in Genesis.

Credible stories in the Bible seem to start with Abraham. But aside from those stories, we know nothing about him. Shockingly, that is also true of Moses. Did you know there is NO direct evidence that the ancient Hebrews were actually enslaved for centuries in Egypt? NO direct evidence that they wandered in the Sinai desert for decades after leaving Egypt? Archeology first records evidence of them only after they arrive in the land of Canaan and conquer it.

So we can throw out the entire Torah and with it, the ancient Jewish religion and its modern descendants.

Christianity? Started as an effort to reform Judaism under first Jesus and then Peter, but then got hijacked by this upstart known as Paul who also claimed to be an apostle but began teaching the Christian faith to Greeks and Romans. The result was a different religion that was more Pagan in form than Jewish.

Islam began as a means of making a religion that was for Arabs, but the conquests of the Arab Muslims resulted in many non-Arabs converting to Islam. The Quran has many stories that are similar to the ones in the Bible.

The Babi Faith began when the Bab proclaimed himself to be a new Messenger of God. He was killed for this.

The Baha’i Faith began with Baha’u’llah declaring himself to be the future Messenger of God the Bab had foretold. But if you can’t believe in the Bab……in Muhammad……in Jesus……in Moses……or in Abraham……how can you believe in God?

For me, the final solution with regards to religion after looking at ALL of them was to decide that NONE of them were objectively true, but that because people do have different spiritual and emotional needs, there needs to be many different religions in the world. And that means:

  1. Stop trying to convert the entire world to only ONE religion! That is unrealistic.
  2. Attempting to convert the entire world to NO religion by FORCE is also harmful. As long as human beings have free will, there will be a diversity of thought.

So I invented the concept of “Spiritual Orientation” as a means of explaining why there are different faiths and how people leave certain religions and convert to others. And here it is:

https://dalehusband.com/spiritual-orientation-series/

If we leave a religion, it’s because it clashes with our spiritual orientation. Let us respect religious diversity and freedom for all!

Translating “The Fatal Flaw in Baha’i Authority” into Persian and Arabic

I have decided to try to increase the impact of my criticism of the Baha’i Faith by translating my most powerful blog entry against it into the two languages most closely associated with its original Writings, Persian and Arabic. So I used Google Translate for this purpose. I hope the automated translations are accurate enough, but this sort of thing was done before to one of my works and the results were less than satisfying.

Continue reading

James Randi, supreme champion of skepticism, has died

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Preferred_official_head-shot_from_James_Randi_Educational_Foundation.jpg

I first heard of James Randi, who died on October 20, 2020, back around 1990 shortly after I deconverted from Christianity. He and his skeptical research on Christian “faith healers” like W. V. Grant and Peter Popoff wasn’t directly responsible  for my rejecting Christianity, but reading his book “The Faith Healers” (which included a foreword by my childhood idol Carl Sagan) was enough to make me decide to NEVER be Christian again.

But while he could lead people to the truth about religious and paranormal claims being false, he couldn’t force people to give up their delusions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Randi#Magician

Randi has been accused of actually using “psychic powers” to perform acts such as spoon bending. According to James Alcock, at a meeting where Randi was duplicating the performances of Uri Geller, a professor from the University at Buffalo shouted out that Randi was a fraud. Randi said: “Yes, indeed, I’m a trickster, I’m a cheat, I’m a charlatan, that’s what I do for a living. Everything I’ve done here was by trickery.” The professor shouted back: “That’s not what I mean. You’re a fraud because you’re pretending to do these things through trickery, but you’re actually using psychic powers and misleading us by not admitting it.”[37] A similar event involved Senator Claiborne Pell, a confirmed believer in psychic phenomena. When Randi personally demonstrated to Pell that he could reveal—by simple trickery—a concealed drawing that had been secretly made by the senator, Pell refused to believe that it was a trick, saying: “I think Randi may be a psychic and doesn’t realize it.” Randi consistently denied having any paranormal powers or abilities.[38]

Maybe some people who believe in such things really are insane. As for me, I will always go where the evidence leads me and not deny clear truth or accept falsehoods for the sake of my personal comfort, just as James Randi did not.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Randi#Personal_life

“One day, I’m gonna die. That’s all there is to it. Hey, it’s too bad, but I’ve got to make room. I’m using a lot of oxygen and such—I think it’s good use of oxygen myself, but of course, I’m a little prejudiced on the matter.”

Quoting such humorous wit is a good way to remember him.

 

A Powerful Statement about Authoritarians

By Martin Mycielski, Committee for the Defence of Democracy (#KOD) resistance movement. All rights reserved.

What to expect?

  1. They will come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. Nevertheless, their victory will be achieved through a democratic electoral process. But beware, as this will be their argument every time you question the legitimacy of their actions. They will claim a mandate from the People to change the system. Remember – gaining power through a democratic system does not give them permission to cross legal boundaries and undermine said democracy.
  2. They will divide and rule. Their strength lies in unity, in one voice and one ideology, and so should yours. They will call their supporters Patriots, the only “true Americans”. You will be labelled as traitors, enemies of the state, unpatriotic, the corrupt elite, the old regime trying to regain power. Their supporters will be the “People”, the “sovereign” who chose their leaders. Don’t let them divide you – remember you’re one People, one Nation, with one common good.
  3. Through convoluted laws and threats they will try to control mainstream media and limit press freedom. They will ban critical press from their briefings, calling them “liars”, “fake news”. They will brand those media as “unpatriotic”, acting against the People (see point 2). Fight for every media outlet, every journalist that is being banned, censored, sacked or labelled an “enemy of the state” – there’s no hope for freedom where there is no free press.
  4. They will create chaos, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger. It will be their argument to enact new authoritarian laws, each one further limiting your freedoms and civil liberties. They will disguise them as being for your protection, for the good of the People. See through the chaos, the fake danger, expose it before you wake up in a totalitarian, fascist state.
  5. They will distort the truth, deny facts and blatantly lie. They will try to make you forget what facts are, sedate your need to find the truth. They will feed “post-truths” and “alternative facts”, replace knowledge and logic with emotions and fiction. Always think critically, fact-check and point out the truth, fight ignorance with facts.
  6. They will incite and then leak fake, superficial “scandals”. They will smear opposition with trivial accusations, blowing them out of proportion and then feeding the flame. This is just smokescreen for the legal steps they will be taking towards totalitarianism. See through superficial topics in mainstream media (see point 3) and focus on what they are actually doing.
  7. They will propose shocking laws to provoke your outrage. You will focus your efforts on fighting them, so they will seemingly back off, giving you a false sense of victory. In the meantime they will push through less “flashy” legislation, slowly dismantling democracy (see points 4 and 6). Focus your fight on what really matters.
  8. When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength. Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.
  9. They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3). Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.
  10. They will try to limit freedom of assembly, calling it a necessity for your security. They will enact laws prioritizing state events and rallies, or those of a certain type or ideology. If they can choose who can demonstrate legally, they have a legal basis to forcefully disperse or prosecute the rest. Oppose any legislation attempting to interfere with freedom of assembly, for whatever reason.
  11. They will distort the language, coin new terms and labels, repeat shocking phrases until you accept them as normal and subconsciously associate them with whom they like. A “thief”, “liar” or “traitor” will automatically mean the opposition, while a “patriot” or a “true American” will mean their follower (see point 2). Their slogans will have double meaning, giving strength to their supporters and instilling angst in their opponents. Fight changes in language in the public sphere, remind and preserve the true meaning of words.
  12. They will take over your national symbols, associate them with their regime, remake them into attributes of their power. They want you to forget that your flag, your anthem and your symbols belong to you, the People, to everyone equally. Don’t let them be hijacked. Use and expose them in your fight as much as they do. Show your national symbols with pride, let them give you strength, not associate you with the tyranny they brought onto your country.
  13. They will try to rewrite history to suit their needs and use the education system to support their agenda. They will smear any historical or living figure who wouldn’t approve of their actions, or distort their image to make you think they would. They will place emphasis on historical education in schools, feeding young minds with the “only correct” version of history and philosophy. They will raise a new generation of voters on their ideology, backing it with a distorted interpretation of history and view of the world. Guard the education of your children, teach them critical thinking, ensure their open-mindedness and protect your real history and heritage.
  14. They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you that don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade. Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.
  15. They will eventually manipulate the electoral system. They might say it’s to correct flaws, to make it more fair, more similar to the rest of the world, or just to make it better. Don’t believe it. They wouldn’t be messing with it at all if it wasn’t to benefit them in some way. Oppose any changes to electoral law that an authoritarian regime wants to enact – rest assured it’s only to help them remain in power longer.

And above all, be strong, fight, endure, and remember you’re on the good side of history.
EVERY authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist regime in history eventually failed, thanks to the PEOPLE.


Authoritarian checklist:

  •  Win elections on fear & populist promises
  •  Reclaim power for the People from the “elites”
  •  Place cronies in positions of highest power regardless of their competence
  •  Purge highest positions in key government institutions
  •  Brush off any critical press as “fake”, “corrupt”, “acting against the People”
  •  Bluntly lie to the People
  •  Ban press from parliament/congress/White House or selectively limit their access
  • Limit press freedom & quietly take control of mainstream media
  • Label opposition & protesters as “traitors”, “elites trying to reclaim power”
  • Limit freedom of assembly
  • Fix highest court to be able to bypass Constitution “for the good of the people”
  • Limit minority & women’s rights
  • Ruin the economy to fulfil your populist promises in the short term
  • Alienate international partners and allies, “making your country great again”
  • Quietly fix electoral law under the disguise of making it better
  • Start over, until there’s nothing left…
    – With love, your Eastern European friends.

6 RULES for survival under an authoritarian regime


Rule 1
Don’t stay indifferent. It WILL concern you eventually. It will concern your family, your friends. Voice your objection IMMEDIATELY. Show them you care. RESIST.
Rule 2
They thrive on FEAR & IGNORANCE. Expose their scaremongering, show flaws in their arguments. Raise awareness, EDUCATE people around you. They will try to distort FACTS, rewrite history. DON’T LET THEM.
Rule 3
Organize protest movements, mobilize civil society. They’re well organized, so should you be. FLOOD THE STREETS. They WILL back off when they see your numbers. They depend on you – the PEOPLE.

Rule 4
Don’t let them DIVIDE you into different classes of citizens, “true Americans”, “patriots” vs “traitors”, “enemies of the state”. You’re ALL citizens, ONE nation, despite different beliefs and ideology. Make your diversity your STRENGTH. Stay TOGETHER for a common goal – survival of your country, of freedom and democracy.
Rule 5
Don’t give up, don’t get tired, and don’t try to wait it out. Don’t hope it will pass. It WON’T. They will manipulate the people, control the media to sway public opinion, fix the electoral system and STAY FOR GOOD.
Rule 6
If you don’t get them to back off or to step down, you better make goddamn SURE that when the next elections come, and if there’s still any democracy left, NO ONE will vote for the same bastard(s) again!

What if your neighbor, friend or relative supports the authoritarian regime?
7 RULES on approaching political opponents close to you
Rule 1
Don’t look down on them, don’t patronize them, even if you know what they’re saying has no factual basis or you find it offensive. Don’t preach, ask questions. Try to understand them, where they are coming from, what their problems are and why they see solutions to them in the regime. Treat them as people, as equals. They believe what they’re saying is true and they might have valid reasons for their support.

Rule 2
Don’t get emotional, don’t get provoked into heated arguments. Fight the other side’s emotions with your calm, logical approach. The angrier they get, the calmer you should be. They’ll calm down eventually.
Rule 3
Focus on what you have in common. Do you live in the same neighborhood? Do you work in the same company or sector? The smaller the community, the easier it is. Give examples, like “we all need to get this done for all of us, if we don’t cooperate neither of us will have it”.
Rule 4
Use their language, don’t treat it as inferior or below you – don’t seem patronizing (see rule 1). If they curse, curse with them. If they approach you with humor, don’t get angry or uptight about it, reply with humor. Show them you’re actually not that different (see rule 3). As long as you communicate on two different planes, you will never meet.

Rule 5
Don’t block their news sources, don’t turn away from their leaders and authority figures. Treat them as an insight to their worldview and tactics. Use them to your advantage, to better prepare for their arguments. Whenever you don’t agree with something or detect a lie, voice it calmly, expose it with factual arguments.
Rule 6
Pinpoint the practical, negative effects of their side’s actions, ones that affect them directly. Find examples of how they, their families, children or friends will be personally impacted by their policies, or how it will affect your shared community.

Rule 7
If all else fails, don’t turn away, don’t abandon your friends and family, don’t shun your neighbors. Remember – an authoritarian wants to divide you to control you. So invite them over to your BBQ, crack open a beer, and who knows, maybe they’ll realize you’re not so different after all.

With love, your Eastern European friends.

The downfall of Return of Kings

I was overjoyed to see this announcement:

Return Of Kings Is Going On Hiatus

Return Of Kings Is Going On Hiatus

After six years of continuous operation and 5,800 articles published, I’m putting ROK on an indefinite hiatus so I can take a break from the daily grind of maintaining the site. I don’t know when the hiatus will end.

The first factor for this hiatus is that site revenues are too low. We’ve been banned from Paypal and countless ad partners, which forced me to lay off the site editor last year and also lower payments to regular contributors. This started a negative spiral of declining content quality, site traffic, and revenues. Even the beloved comments section, which many see as the highlight of ROK, was badly hit when Disqus banned us. Currently, ROK receives half the traffic of its peak and less than one-fifth of the income.

The second factor is that I’m burned out. Keeping ROK updated, writing books, posting articles on my blog, doing live streams, and maintaining the forum has put too much on my plate. Out of everything on that list, working on ROK has become my least favorite activity because duties are centered more around editing other people’s work than creating my own.

I’m sure many of you understand that we are in the early stages of a censorship wave that will sweep through society. Scoundrels like myself get banned first, and then soon the hammer will come down on anyone who dares to share the truth. Personally, I believe that I will suffer death by a million cuts, but until then, you can continue to follow my work here:

[List of where he continues to publish his bullshit]

Lastly, I’m planning on doing a book tour in 2019, mainly in the United States. If you are interested in attending, complete this brief survey to help me identify which cities I should visit. The tour will probably happen in the summer.

In the meanwhile, if the situation with ROK changes, or I miss updating it, articles will return. Thank you for supporting the site all these years.

UPDATE: Here are some more thoughts on my decision…

[A video that has already disappeared]

What truth was he sharing? A sample of that may be found here:

An Ugly Anti-feminist

The truth is that he, like his fellow anti-feminist bigot Milo Yiannopoulos, wasn’t a victim of censorship, since only governments can do that. Paypal, Disqus, and ad producing companies are private business entities, and in a free market economy, they can choose freely to reject association with and enabling of hate speech and writing masquerading as political commentary.

Roosh made a CHOICE to bash women in hateful, childish language, and no one but himself is to blame for his website falling into disuse.

free_speech

When people like Roosh and Milo are able to discuss serious topics regarding men and women in a mature, fair manner, they may be allowed to return to the table of discussion on those topics. I won’t hold my breath about that.

Ed Brayton has died.

One of the most ethical atheists in the world was Ed Brayton, whose blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars I used to read often. He and I did have a falling out over different views of feminism (we are both pro-feminist, he was just more radical than me) and I forgot about him for a long time. And now I have learned he is dead.

Some of you no doubt know this already, but I have decided to end my battle to the death with death. I’m entering hospice care and would like to slip into the eternal abyss in the next couple weeks. I reached the point where I simply have no fight left in me. I wish it were not so. But I have a few things to say first.

First, a profound thank you to those of you who turned this blog into a community. It has meant the world to me that it has become not merely a place for me to write, but a place where we shared ideas and values and helped fight the battles for equality, justice and liberty. Thank you all so much. Also to my fellow bloggers here. You have all added to my life immeasurably and I am forever grateful.

I’m also very grateful for an amazing group of friends and family who have gone way above and beyond to support me and love me. And to the doctors, nurses and aides who have taken care of me along the way. But it’s a time like this that makes one evaluate their life and most important beliefs. So, to that task.

I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid to die painfully and with suffering. My hope is that hospice will put me on a morphine or dilaudid drip and knock me out so I don’t feel anything, then I can just slip away. That’s essentially what happened with my dear friend Connie a few years ago. And I hope we can do it at home, as we did with her. I’d rather be with loved ones than in a facility. I’ll stay either with my best friend Rick or my parents.

Regrets? Mostly about the things I’ll never get to do now. I would love to have made Secular Quemanism a reality. Perhaps someone else can run with the idea now in my place (Mike Slomka? Bueller?) I still think it’s a great and important idea. I won’t be able to continue to advocate for humanism as an important philosophy. That sucks. I just have so much more to say and do.

My greatest hope is that after I’m gone the world continues to become more fair, just and equal. What else could we possibly hope for and work for? I urge you all to keep fighting the good fight for those core values. Who should you look to for leadership? I nominate Dale McGowan, the finest example of humanism I know, and Matt Dillahunty. They should be the public face and voice of this movement, not Dawkins or Krauss or Shermer.

Don’t be sad about this, be hopeful. I got to make the decision myself and spare others from that awful task. I did it while still of sound mind, if not body. That means the world to me. I maintained my self-determination until the end.

In closing, let me just say thank you again. You made my life better, richer and more fulfilled and who could ask for more? Goodbye, one and all. I will miss you as I hope you will miss me. Be good to each other along this incredible journey.

P Z Myers, who I was once also a fan of and later came to dislike, paid tribute to Brayton.

A sad announcement from Ed Brayton

Ed Brayton and I had some contentious disagreements back in the day, but we managed to put all that behind us and set up the Freethoughtblogs network with a mutual understanding that we needed something beyond the atheist movement, some kind of organization that would support diversity and social justice and not just tearing down religion. He named the network — we agreed that we didn’t want “atheist” anywhere in our label, even if we were effectively an atheist group, because even then the word was getting tainted — and he and I together made the initial investment in the site. We owe a lot to Ed.

Unfortunately, he’s also suffered from serious health problems over the years, and left the network he built to run a blog on Patheos. This was an amicable decision with zero drama behind the scenes or in front of it — he just decided that he couldn’t cope with the day-to-day chores of management, and just wanted a space where he could write with no pressure.

His health has worsened. He’s been in and out of hospitals for a while. People have been asking me how he’s doing, since his postings have become intermittent, and I don’t know either! Unfortunately, he just posted this to Facebook:

I’m giving up and calling in hospice. I just can’t do this anymore. To those who know me in real life I love you and I’m sorry. I did my best.

He always has done his best, and he will be missed.

_________________

Ed Brayton has died

___________

In Memoriam: Ed Brayton

Next Sunday, 27 September, we’ll be remembering the life of Ed Brayton in a conversation.

If any of you would like to share a few words, write to me and I can send you a link. If you’d rather not make a direct appearance, show up and leave a comment in the chat — I’ll read some of them into the record.

Again, I had disagreements with both of them, but these were minor; I never considered either of them to be as treacherous and dangerous as someone like Thunderf00t, Wahid Azal, or others on my enemies list.

Rest in power, noble warrior for truth and justice. Those skeptics and progressive activists who live after you will continue the fight.

 

It seems I have finally met my match among critics of the Baha’i Faith!

Over the past decade, I have emerged as one of the strongest critics of the Baha’i Faith in the world, but I was blown away this year by a newcomer to the exBaha’i subreddit whose scholarly output puts me to shame……and I applaud him for his incredible expertise!

See for yourself:

Where I said:

You should win an award for this sort of writing! I am extremely impressed!

_____

If you have any academic experience, you should work on this topic and submit it to scientific journal.

He didn’t stop there!

And before that, there was:

And he even slammed Christianity too.

I would LOVE to work with this guy on a book slamming religions in general and the Baha’i Faith and Christianity in particular.