Saturday, March 30, 2013

Die Hard at the White House

So, I just saw Olympus Has Fallen... I liked it better when it was called Die Hard. IT'S THE SAME MOVIE! Please, for God's sake, have a little creativity Hollywood.

So, a bunch of terrorists come and hold people hostage in the White House, and only one man can save them. Take out the words "White House" and put in "Nakatomi Plaza" then you probably thought I was talking about John McClane. Okay, forget the fact that the concept is Die Hard, there are three or four scenes that are not "inspired" by Die Hard, they're stolen from it.

The scene where the top of the building gets destroyed and a helicopter crashes: Die Hard. The scene where the hero talks to a villain but doesn't know he's actually a villain until he blows his cover: Die Hard. The scene where the hero is all bloodied and calls his wife one last time before the final battle: Die Hard.

I'm not making this stuff up, this movie is a creative vacuum. Of course, Die Hard also made sense... this movie doesn't do that. How did a freaking cargo plane get that close to the White House until the Air Force said anything? Why did the secret service just bum-rush a machine gun turret? Why did it take so long for the Army to be mobilized? At least in Die Hard, the building the terrorists took over wasn't the center of American government, so the hostage scenario was feasible.

Also, while I'm at it, let me complain about its nationalistic overtones. America good, North Korea bad... what a deep and intellectual argument. Why is the main villain so hellbent on screwing over America? What are his motives? Well, as the tootsie pop commercial told us long ago, the world may never know. By the way, I thought this move played too heavily on post 9/11 paranoia. The destruction of the Washington Monument was a cheap gut shot aimed at just shocking the audience.

So, is there anything about this move that doesn't suck? Well, it has some good action... things blow up and bad guys get shot... Oh, and Morgan Freeman's in there, that's pretty cool, right? I guess.

The bottom line is that if you have never seen Die Hard... or Air Force One or Rambo... then have at it. Just pardon the rest of us who are over 20 years old and have seen more than ten movies in our lives.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why I Left Christianity

Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a while now… but it’s only been today when it’s hit me: Christianity is not true. I’m not sure what triggered it today, but I have to be honest with myself. The fact is I never believed this stuff from the beginning.

I remember when I was “saved” it was May 22, 2012. What sparked my conversion was simple, it was crippling fear. I needed to believe in something. So, despite knowing better, I convinced myself that there was something inherently good about Christianity and Jesus in particular. It was God’s love, I told myself, that’s what mattered.

Yet I kept thinking, which is something religion has never liked. The truth is that Christianity just didn’t add up, not morally or intellectually. I will give examples, but in the interest of being concise, I will choose the most glaring issues.

First on the plate is evolution. Evolution is a scientific fact. I know a little bit about the subject, and I could never swallow creationist nonsense. Whether it’s regarding fossil evidence like the transitional Tiktaalik, or our genetic similarity to Chimpanzees, it’s clear that life evolved over millions of years. How does Christianity make sense of this? Well, it doesn’t. The author of Genesis was ignorant. If humans evolved from a common ancestor, then there is no Original Sin from eating of the Tree of Life.

The whole point of the Fall of Man is to highlight that mankind chose to sin against God. Well, if we evolved over the eons, then at what point could we have rebelled? We couldn’t have, it’s a natural process. So, the crucifixion of Jesus would have been pointless.

Next on the list is prayer and proof of God. To be blunt, I’ve never heard God and I have never even felt him. I’ve prayed a lot, but when I’m done I always have the same sense of dread: that I was just talking to myself. Even on the day I was “saved” I remember feeling emotional, but I didn’t feel anything supernatural, I was just crying like a weak child.

While we’re on the topic of prayer, I have one simple question: Why won’t God heal amputees? It’s obviously a rhetorical question, since there is no cogent apologetic response. Whenever we hear of “miracles” it’s always some growth inside the body going into spontaneous remission (which science can account for), it’s never something as clearly supernatural as a missing limb growing back. In short, “miracles” don’t happen.

Finally, the last thing that I’ve been thinking of is the doctrine of Hell. It just doesn’t make sense. If the mainstream Christian denominations are correct, then everyone who doesn’t know Jesus is going to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. I’ve heard mealy mouthed cowards like C.S. Lewis who have said Hell is “just” a place of separation from God for all eternity. If that’s supposed to be more comforting, then color me unimpressed. It’s still eternal suffering.

Of course, no Christian, no matter how fundamentalist, really believes in Hell. If this logic holds true, and everyone who doesn’t call Jesus savior goes to Hell, then that includes people who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel, like poor tribal Africans. Still, most fundamentalists are okay with that, since they are mostly white, and don’t know any poor tribal Africans.

However, I bet you that once some Bible thumper’s little kid dies from some accident or illness, they just know that God will make an exception. If a three year old dies, I can guarantee you that the kid didn’t know what “accepting Jesus” meant. There would be no exceptions if you truly believe in Original Sin. Sorry, but if your kid dies, and Christianity is true, he’s going to Hell. Needless to say, the concept of Hell is disgusting and evil.

Those are the major reasons. At least, those are the ones that first come to mind. I don’t make this decision lightly, but it’s the right thing to do. I can’t believe something that isn’t true.

It’s true that we as humans have made many terrible mistakes in our history. Still, I believe in the human spirit. I believe we are getting better. Look at how far we’ve come since the Dark Ages. No one can honestly say they wished they lived in 14th century Europe instead of now. The world isn’t perfect, but it’s getting better. It’s getting better because the hands of men have made it better.    

I’m not sure what I am now. An Atheist? Maybe. More accurately, I have moved beyond labels. I am still afraid, and it might be true that things might be harder for me without the artificial construct of religion. The consequences of leaving means that the Christian friends I have met will abandon me, but I can take it. I have to start moving on my own two feet.