Master Fu and the Zen of atheism, chapter 1: The Catholic and the Bible

Master Fu and the Zen of atheism

Chapter 1. The Catholic and the Bible.


One day, Master Fu was eating with his disciples when a Catholic appeared. “Master Fu”, said the Catholic, “why do you insist on denying the word of God?”

Master Fu asked the Catholic: “Tell me, young man, how do you know your Bible is the word of God?”

“Because my Church says so, and my Church is enlightened with the Holy Spirit”.

Master Fu stared at him, and said: “Prove it.”

The Catholic proceeded to ennumerate the passages of the Bible which appointed to his Church as “the true Church that Jesus founded”.

“That’s your proof?”, asked Master Fu.

“Yes.”

“In other words, the Bible is the word of God because the Church says so, and the Church is right because the Bible says so.”

“That’s right”, answered the Catholic.

“But you don’t have any external evidence to prove anything you just said.”

“We have the testimony of the Church Fathers and the Christian martyrs.”

“And if they lied?”

“They couldn’t lie, they’re Saints.”

“Says who?”

“The Church.”

“And if the Church is wrong?”

“It can’t be wrong. The Bible proves it.”

Master foo then asked the Catholic to follow him to his living room. He unplugged the outlet strip from the wall, and everything that was connected to it got turned off. He then plugged the outlet strip into itself.

“What are you doing?”, asked the Catholic.

“Theology.”

And then the Catholic was enlightened.

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Explaining religion – or why religious people feel threatened by others

(Please wait for the comic to finish loading)

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Footprints in the sand (atheist version)

Footprints in the sand, atheist version

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The future the Bible didn’t foresee

“Space. The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.
Its 5 year mission:
To explore strange new worlds.
To seek out new life and new civilizations.
To boldly go where no man has gone before”.
— Star Trek opening

Toroidal space colony. Courtesy of NASA.

One of my favorite things to dream about was man finally conquering space. Recently I watched Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos: A personal voyage. One of the things I didn’t know was that we already have designs for spaceships that can travel to other solar systems. They’re pretty expensive to build, but they have already been designed.

I believe there will come the day when mankind will populate the galaxy. I’ve always wondered why the Bible didn’t talk about people traveling to other worlds. You know, establishing stations around the earth, and visiting other star systems.

So, the question is… why doesn’t the Bible give us hope for exploring space? I mean – if God created all those star systems, galaxies, and planets… why would He, in his infinite wisdom, create them for mere decoration, crushing our hopes of getting there finally one day, and exploring the whole universe?

Here’s a small science fiction utopia I wrote, roughly inspired by (and unworthy of) the works of Isaac Asimov and Dan Simmons:

In the future, mankind has mastered genetic manipulation. All diseases are gone, and our immune system has all the advantages taken from known species. Man can live and stay young for up to 150 years.

Instead of terraforming planets and extinguishing their existing lifeforms, man chose to change themselves and inhabitate all planets. These “ousters” have adapted their eyes to withstand the ultraviolet radiation from the sun; There are those adapted to microgravity, and there are those who have created insect-like wings to fly in low-gravity planets. The metabolism of these space-people makes them able to easily breathe ozone and toxic gases. Those who live in greater gravity planets, are much shorter and muscular than even the strongest human you could imagine.

Also, they have evolved a form of stasis appropriate for space travel – they won’t suffer from osteoporosis. Others are able to breathe underwater, and have built oceanic cities.

And yet, they kept their ears so they can listen to Mozart and Beethoven. Imagine an intergalactic concert where these superhumans come from the edges of the galaxy, to share a good time together.

All of this would be recorded in the not yet existing Encyclopedia Galactica.

Inspiring, isn’t it? Let’s compare it with  what the future holds for us, according to the Holy Scripture:
(roughly translated from my spanish Bible)

“When the thousand years have passed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will deceive the nations of the four corners of the world, God and Magog, whose armies, numerous as the sands of the sea, will gather for the battle… and they surrounded the camping of the Holy People, and the city that God loves. But fire fell from heaven and consumed them…

Then I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth; because the first Heaven and the first Earth had ceased to exist, and so had the sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven…

The trone of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They will see him face to face, and will carry His name on their foreheads. There will be no night, and those who live there shall not need lamps or sunlight, because The Lord will give them his light, and they shall rule for all the centuries.”

(Rev 20:7-9; 21:1-2; 22:3-5)

The New Jerusalem

That’s it?

A new city coming down from heaven? No planets to explore? (Granted, this city will occupy twice the size of Texas, but still…)

So, what will happen to the galaxies, and the globular clusters, and the other solar systems? No advancement of Science?

Okay, what kind of crap is this?

It is dull and boring. Why doesn’t God mention the stars and everything the universe is made of? Why?

Then, I realized, that the book of Revelations was written by people from the Iron Age, when the planets were just dots in the sky.

It wasn’t until the invention of the telescope in the 16th century that the planets could be clearly seen; Those were the times of Kepler, Galileo, Huygens and others.

The mere idea that there could be other worlds was unimaginable. The world had “four corners”. The Earth was flat. How come God never enlightened the prophets to tell them of these amazing things? And why did the promised future for us, “A new Heaven and a new Earth”, never included the space? Why not a new Solar System? A new galaxy? A new Universe, perhaps?

For one simple fact. This fact explains everything.

If there’s a God, He/She/It did NOT inspire the Bible.
The Bible was written by believers in a flat Earth,
who ignored the vastness of the Universe that is waiting for us.

Keep your New Jerusalem if you want, christians. I’ll choose the stars. As Carl Sagan said:

The sky calls to us.

If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.

Sci-fi art from art.eonworks.com

A more glorious dawn awaits: Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise. A morning filled with 400 billion suns.

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Would you kill an innocent for God?

I remember a shocking scene from a movie. A young recruit for the CIA was in front of a man. The man had been tied up and his face covered.

“Who is he?”
“It doesn’t matter. All you have to do is kill him.”
“What did he do?”
“It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he is a danger to the country.”

The young recruit didn’t think it twice. He had endured a long training for this, so he could be one of the best agents for the country.

The man could’ve been his own father, but he didn’t care. The agent loaded the gun and killed the man.

In this scene from the movie “Bourne Ultimatum”, CIA recruit David Webb murders a helpless man.

The young agent was no longer the man he used to be. He was now an anonymous agent who would serve his country. He was given a new name, and a new target to kill. A cold-blooded murderer had been born.

The story of Abraham bears a strikingly similar resemblance:

Abraham was told by God to offer his own son as a sacrifice for God. He obviously lied to the child, and was about to kill him with a knife. Miraculously, we read, an angel stopped him from murdering his own son, and was promised a numerous descendance, even greater than the stars in the sky, and the sands in the sea.

Isaac's sacrifice

The most prolific religion on earth was born due to a wicked initiation. The submission of a man, against all his love, to a God who commanded him to murder his own son – and not a grown up, but a child.

God wanted Abraham to murder an innocent child. The fact that an angel stopped him doesn’t matter. In his heart, he was willing to commit a murder.

And this is the beginning of today’s greatest religion?

In August, 2011, fundamentalist christian Michael Pearl and his wife Debi went to jail for beating their children so severely that one of their children died. Their justification? Biblical discipline.

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
– Proverbs 13:24

If some other person claims God told him to kill his children, what do well-intentioned christians say about it? “No, it’s not God who commanded them! It was the devil! They were crazy!”

It does not matter.

It doesn’t matter whether God, real or fake, or imagined, wasn’t the one who commanded them to kill their own children.

The only thing that matters is that someone BELIEVES God commanded him to kill. This is the power of faith. Turning an otherwise healthy man into a cold-blooded murderer. Because how dare he refuse to obey the Almighty!

George Bush claimed to be doing God’s will when invading Iraq. Ironically, so did the taliban ten years ago when crashing the planes against the WTC.

So I begin to wonder whether faith is really a virtue (as I was taught by the Catholic Church). Shouldn’t reason be a much greater virtue than faith?

Imagine I was Abraham, and God told me to kill my own child. What would I say?

“Bullshit. First, prove you’re God. Do miracles and stuff.”

Second, after proving himself to me, I would ask: What does God want with me killing my son? (Does the end justify the means?)

If God then provided me with a reasonable explanation, I would finally ask: Why don’t YOU kill him instead? You’re God! If you claim you’re all-powerful, why don’t you make me nearly-all-knowing so I can understand your plans? Increase my IQ by 1,000 units, fill my brain with knowledge about the world, and then let me decide what is best. Am I not reasonable enough to take a good choice?

“So, why don’t YOU kill my son instead? Unless… unless you’re really not all-powerful. Perhaps you’re a demon in disguise, and because you can only misguide people to act by themselves, you’re fooling me to kill my own son. So I can make you rule a kingdom with Iron Fist, through violence and treachery, using men as simple puppets, blinded by fear of you. Are you REALLY a God?”

In any case, the most reasonable choice would be to go to a psychiatrist and ask for a diagnosis (where else would you go if some voice that came from nowhere told you to kill your own son?)

But if Abraham knew the bare minimum about ethics, he would have done the right thing, and spare his child. A religion that is born out of a cruel and manipulative initiation rite is not worthy of being called “God’s plan”.

That is, of course, if the story of Abraham isn’t just a myth invented by jewish priests… which would make much more sense, by the way.

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