The Truth Is Not Always As It Seems

In the November issue of the Costco Connection magazine, there was an article by John McManus, a communication professor and longtime journalist. He is also the author of Don’t Be Fooled: A Citizen’s Guide to News and Information.

In the article, he made some points that I fully agree with and have even mentioned in other posts on this blog.truth

When faced with information claiming to be factual, consider:

  1. The source. Who is behind the message? Is the source independent (free of conflicts of interest)? Is the source an expert or experienced in relation to the topic?
  2. The motivation. Is it really informational or is it an attempt to sell something, someone, or a point of view? Many “persuaders” cherry-pick information to make their case, omitting relevant contrary information.
  3. The evidence. Does the information come from direct observation? Does it logically support the claims that are being made? Does it include/magnify heart-tugging anecdotes to make it more compelling?
  4. The contents. Is anything left out? Are inconvenient truths missing?

It doesn’t matter what your persuasion. Don’t believe everything you read or hear just because it validates your personal beliefs. Do the research. Learn the facts before you repeat the information. This is especially true when it comes to religion and/or politics.

Keep in mind that the “truth” is not always as it seems.

Leaving Christianity – Oh What A Relief It Is!

Oh What A Relief It Is!Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. It was not an easy road.

As Stephen Van Eck wrote on the website: “Once sucked into the parallel universe of Christianity, [a person] is too intimidated by threats and rationalizations to attempt escape. Even thinking along alternative lines will induce severe feelings of guilt.”
Writing my book helped tremendously because of all the research and reading I did. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.

I also found out some things about the Bible. As many others, I had been taught the Bible was “God’s Word” (even though the interpretation of what “He” said varies considerably among denominations). Through my studies, I discovered that much of what is in the bible is the result of stories, epics, myths, legends, proverbs, etc. that were passed by word of mouth from one generation to another. This is particularly true of the Hebrew Bible, but intrinsically typical of the New Testament scriptures as well. Can you imagine the burden that was lifted when I found out I wasn’t genetically inclined to sin and thus in need of someone to save me from being human??!?

Contrary to what one might think, the many discoveries I made did not turn me into an atheist. However, I definitely do not believe in a supernatural being who lives somewhere “up there,” who can be manipulated by prayer, or who has a “will.” Rather, my image of “God” is far more encompassing and has nothing to do with religious belief. In fact, I’m extremely reluctant to even use the word “god” because of all its connotations.

In any case, I find my life so much more fulfilling now. Truly, what a relief it has been!

Contraception Should Be A Personal Choice

Some states (mostly led by Republican governors) are all up-in-arms because church-affiliated businesses (hospitals, schools, outreach programs) may be required to provide contraception coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act that was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The objection centers around the fact that the rule, according to an AP news article, “violates the rights of employers that object to the use of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.”

Supposedly, such a law is a violation of First Amendment rights. But what is really at the heart of the matter is that many feel it is an attack on religious liberty.

I am aware that some religious organizations object to birth control, but what I don’t understand is why they feel threatened by this law. If they teach against contraception, then their followers wouldn’t take advantage of this coverage anyway. Right?

Perhaps what they are worried about is that they don’t have enough control and some people will actually use contraceptives if they were covered by insurance. Whoops!

IMO, to deny this coverage violates the rights of the individual — which are far more important than the rights of any organization.

The Book: Why I Believed

I’m currently reading an excellent book written by a former Christian who ‘believed’ for nearly three decades. In fact, at one time he served as a pastor and missionary so when he left ‘the faith,’ it was not a snap decision.

The writer has expressed many of my own ‘conscious’ thoughts and has also brought many of my ‘dormant’ persuasions to the forefront as well.

The book is titled “Why I Believed: Confessions of a Former Missionary” and was written by Kenneth W. Daniels. It is available to read online, or you can also purchase it as a paperback or ebook. Proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders, PATH, and UNICEF.

Last night, I came across a portion that jumped off the page at me. In my opinion, it describes many in the Christian faith today:

It is comforting to be able to look upon others more conservative or fanatical than we are and to believe our religion — or our particular version of it — to be more urbane and less prone to excess. Thus, the killing of infidels is now seen primarily as a Muslim practice, even though in times past it was a Catholic, Protestant and Jewish practice also, supported by various biblical texts.

I would add that not only in times past, but also in the current day, there are those in the Christian faith who feel that killing people who disagree with their interpretation of biblical texts is justified.

If you are someone who is confused or unsettled about your Christian faith, I urge you to investigate this book. This writer has not set out to ‘slam’ Christians. Rather, he humbly takes readers along on his journey from evangelical missionary to secular humanist. He urges those in the faith to closely examine what they believe and, more importantly, why they believe as they do. He asks that they be open to new ideas and even to consider that their belief system might be a mistake.

P.S. The book has been rated 4.5 stars at Amazon.

How Would You Describe God?

If an extra-terrestrial being were to walk up and ask you “Who or what is ‘God’?”, how would you respond?

I’m asking this as a serious question. It’s for a book I’m writing. No names will be used. In fact, you can leave an anonymous comment if you want.

Try to be as ‘generic’ as possible. In other words, do not tell me what God means to you; that is a personal matter and is not what I’m looking for. I just want to know the words you would use to describe “God.”

Thanks so much!