For those that may be unaware, the "Banana Man" aka Ray Comfort, is an evangelical Christian, who also happens to be a popular foil for many atheists on the web. He recently participated in an on air interview with Matt Dillahunty on "The Atheist Experience," and I had difficulty restraining my laughter, but please watch and judge for yourself. http://www.atheist-experience.com/
This blog post is not so much about that interview, but about Ray's blog post on "Atheist Central." He seems to be expressing his dying wish for us heathens to "come to the lord" before it is too late, and we end up in the--as he says--"a very real and terrible Hell." Oh Ray......again, you made me chuckle. If Ray was aware of the history of his religion, he would know that "Hell" is a construct based on a conception the Zoroastrians thought up first. Like almost everything else Ray claims to believe in, Hell was COPIED from beliefs of another group. He would also know the early Jews were wandering nomads who were either enslaved or ruled over by other groups, so quite naturally, they adopted the customs and behaviors of these groups as well. Think of the African slaves, or the Native Americans who were forced to adopt Christianity or be tortured and killed. Much the same thing happened to the Jews. Hence, Christianity is a mish mash of beliefs from the Egyptians, Romans, Babylonians, Zoroastrians, etc. Hell does not exist, except of course, in Ray's mind.
Now, onto one of my favorite quotes in Ray's diatribe:
"So, to be saved from death and Hell, you must have "knowledge of sin." Do you have it? Did the Law of God get through to you, or did your pride stop it from doing its incredible work? I trust you have been humbled by the Commandments, so that you can appropriate the further knowledge that the gospel brings, knowledge that can save you from death."
"Sin" again, is a Christian construct. I do not believe in sin. I do however, believe in right and wrong, and I also believe that what we do is nothing but CHOICE--and we have the ability to choose to either do the right thing, or do the wrong thing. We use Normative Ethical Theories to make ethical choices in our lives--not Bronze Age mythology.
If we were created perfectly, by a perfect god, then how would we even have the ability to make a mistake? We cannot be "born sinners" as that would mean a perfect god created imperfect beings, which makes no logical sense, unless of course he planned it that way. Pelagius, a contemporary of Augustine, claimed we DO have the ability to choose, as he believed "responsibility implies ability." The belief in original sin as set out by Augustine however, implies that humans have no "free will" to make the correct choices. i.e. We DO NOT have the ability to choose right. Augustine believed we are born in sin; but to believe that Jesus washed away our sins is to absolve ourselves from taking responsibility for our own actions--which has resulted in a society filled with people who continue to make poor choices, believing of course, that they can't help it--they were born that way. Oh, how wrong Augustine was!! Christians, what you do is nothing but CHOICE--and you CAN make the right choices! I dare you. Go ahead.
The definition of pride has also be skewed by Christian dogma. According to Aristotle, pride is nothing but self respect, and is the mean between being humble and arrogant. One can never have too much pride, if pride is the proper amount of self respect. I consider pride to be the highest virtue because if you have pride, then you will not disrespect yourself, and you will uphold all of the virtues.The confusion comes about because christians want to make humble a virtue instead of a vice. Humble is defined as:
1. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble.
2. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.
So Ray, if you are listening, I just want you to know that I am a "proud atheist" and I am not afraid of death. Death is a part of life, and my energy when I die will, according to the First Law of Conservation of Energy, become something else, as energy cannot be created or destroyed. What that is, I will never know, but I won't waste precious life worrying about it.