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Religion: Some Random Observations
Sometimes you have a new thought, an idea, or eureka moment, but it’s not gutsy enough to expand into a reasonable length article or essay. So, here’s a potpourri of irreligious thoughts that won’t exactly put me in a favourable light with any deities (if any) that are too good not to record, but with not enough meat available to flesh out.
# We have probably all seen videos of evangelical or fundamentalist prayer, revivalist, etc., etc. meetings. Now I assume that God, assuming a God of course in the first place, has 20/20 hearing. So why is it necessary for all and sundry leading these meetings to scream their bloody fool heads off? Who are they really trying to impress by risking not only laryngitis but their vocal cords? I mean it’s not small and normal “hallelujah, praise the Lord!” but “HALLELUJAH, PRAISE THE LORD!!!” only in even larger type than this.
# Is it my imagination or have I noticed that the extreme religious right wing, those vehemently anti gay, anti same-sex marriage, anti abortion, anti national health care, anti environmentalism (i.e. – climate change), anti gay-adoption, always happy to attack non-religious institution and people for their bucketing or ignoring of Biblical teachings, are absolutely silent when it comes to giving a thumbs down on the child sex abuse issue by various religious institutions and personnel. Any religious institution is good and God-fearing by definition; anything else isn’t good and has turned their back on God.
# Christianity, be it the extreme right wing variety of fundamental evangelism or the more middle-of-the-road varieties, is based on one and only one thing – that God exists. Yet they never, ever, offer up any proof, or even evidence of that alleged ‘fact’ except to endlessly and endlessly quote the Bible – a very suspect document IMHO. From the pope right on down the theological line to your local vicar, no proof, even evidence, is in the offering.
If I accuse someone of something, say murder, then the burden of proof is on me to show beyond any doubt that that someone is guilty as charged, not on that someone to prove anything to the contrary. In like fashion, if someone claims that God exists and has certain attributes, then the burden of proof is on that person to prove his or her claim.
# Latest loony bit from the religious right – God does not want you (or anyone) to retire, because the word “retirement” or “retire” does not appear in the Bible! God does not want you to retire because people who retire begin to then suffer the consequences of rapidly deteriorating health – God doesn’t want that!
# There have been numerous attempts to find the Biblical Garden of Eden; all have failed. But all you really need to do is find the Cherubim and the Flaming Sword that God left to guard the east access to the Garden and the Tree of Life after He gave Adam and Eve the boot out of Paradise (Genesis 3:24). What could be easier? I mean how many Cherubim and Flaming Swords do you see day to day? There’s nowhere in the Bible that states that they have been relieved of duty, so they must still be standing guard. Surely someone must have seen them in recent times.
See Also: Wilensky-Lanford, Brook; Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden; Grove Press, New York; 2011.
# There are many hundreds of alleged relics associated with Jesus, his family, disciples, the evangelists, etc. Unfortunately, none surfaced until hundreds, sometimes many, many hundreds of years after the fact. There are often multiple copies of relics, all claiming to be THE one true relic. There are enough pieces of the holy [wooden] cross floating around to build Noah’s Ark! Anything subjected to actual scientific analysis and dating has failed to date to the relevant time frame or when it should of. Most churches refuse to allow holy relics in their possession to be subjected to scientific analysis – they probably don’t want their illusions shattered. But no amount of proof that a relic is a fraud will shake the belief of the true believer.
See Also: Nickell, Joe; The Jesus Relics: From the Holy Grail to the Turin Shroud; The History Press, Gloucestershire, U.K; 2008.
# Do you have greater credibility for your personal worldview and biases, or are you taken more seriously if you invoke God, Jesus and/or the Bible in support? Perhaps you may think a wicked city like Las Vegas should be destroyed. Thumbs down, but then you say well look what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah. You’d get short shrift if you advocate executing disobedient children, until you can cite the Biblical chapter and verse which states the exact same thing. Wacky ideas get the thumbs down; Biblical wacky events that mirror those ideas – thumbs up.
# Anybody reading the story of the crucifixion in Matthew, Mark or Luke will note that for three hours, between noon and 3 pm apparently, it became very dark. John doesn’t mention this, and Matthew and Mark only note the three hours of intense darkness. But Luke (23:45) notes specifically that “the sun was darkened’. That clearly implies a solar eclipse. However, there are several problems with this. The first is that the crucifixion of Jesus took place at Passover. Alas, Passover happens or is celebrated when the Moon is in its Full Moon phase (or when the Earth is between, but not quite in direct alignment with, the Sun and the Moon). A solar eclipse can only happen when the Moon is totally dark, that is when it is in its New Moon phase (when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun). So, when the crucifixion happened, that is at Passover, the Moon was Full, not New, therefore no solar eclipse. The second problem is that the New Moon only covers the Sun causing a solar eclipse thus causing intense darkness, for a maximum just shy of eight minutes. That’s just a tad less time than Mathew, Mark and Luke allow for. The third problem is that the crucifixion happened as far as can be determined in April of 30, or 33 or 34 CE. There is no solar eclipse in Jerusalem in April in any of those months and years and is therefore irrelevant, misleading and immaterial. So, either it’s all just fiction, added in for dramatic effect, or it was a miracle (which is probably the official church line). I’d opt for the fiction myself.
# Be sure to check out Wikipedia’s entry for ‘List of scandals involving evangelical Christians’ – very, very enlightening. Also, if you have access, read the following:
Gardner, Martin: “Prime-time preachers” (in) The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher; Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York; 1988; p.223-245.
# This is an interesting Right Wing Watch Cindy Jacobs story.
“Cindy Jacobs’ five-year-old daughter can stop tornadoes.”
Apparently her trick is to shout out “I told you to be quiet in Jesus’ name!” and the tornado just goes poof.
My response: Hello, my name is Alice and I’ve gone through the looking glass into wonderland – whee!
# Speaking of the Right Wing Watch, their coverage of the extreme right wing fundamentalist religious personalities like Pat Robertson, Bryan Fischer (especially Brian Fischer), Cindy Jacobs, Glenn Beck; and dozens more, show that these individuals and the organisations they represent (like the American Family Association) are stridently anti-President Obama, and have been since Obama rose to the fore in 2008. I’ve never witnessed any American president being subjected to the vitriol and abuse that President Obama has routinely been by the religious right. Amazingly, it doesn’t seem to be a racist thing, it’s just Obama stands for everything the extreme right wing is against like gay marriage. So, Obama is the antichrist; Obama doesn’t believe in the Bible; Obama hates America; Obama isn’t even an American citizen; Obama is anti-Israel; Obama is pro-Muslim; Obama is a closet Muslim; Obama is a closet gay; Obama is America’s Lenin or Stalin; Obama hates the military; Obama is an illegitimate president; Obama should be impeached. There’s a lot more negatives, but you get the drift.
But it’s not so much about what Obama is (sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me) but what Obama’s agenda is. Obama will declare himself God; Obama wants to destroy the American economy; Obama wants to raise a black army and kill whites, especially right wing Christian whites; Obama wants gun control to disarm his enemies; Obama wants to precipitate another Civil War; Obama will turn America into an Islamic state; Obama discriminates against Christianity; Obama declares war on white America; Obama is out to destroy the family unit; and on and on and on it goes without any shred of evidence whatever.
While that might be an example of America’s freedom of speech, I wonder whether or not any of these individuals will apologise in January 2017 when Obama leaves office and nothing whatever has come to pass that even remotely confirmed these outlandish shock, horror, it’s the end of the world or at least America, claims. My gut feeling is that there won’t be an “I’m sorry” or “I got it wrong” from anyone that’s a member of any one of the extreme right wing fundamentalist religious groups. By then they will have moved on and will be bucketing some other person.
# Why is it that a select number of those with a religious conviction feel they have a moral and ethical right to disturb and inconvenience you, at their convenience of course, in order to shove their religious worldview down your throat? The nice thing about atheists is they don’t disturb and inconvenience you; they don’t do doorknocking!
# Ancient art works that depict ‘flying saucers’ all seemingly have a religious, especially New Testament, Jesus/Mary themed context: Why? Perhaps because the religious figures central in the artistic works aren’t supernatural but flesh-and-blood of an ‘ancient astronaut’ variety.
# Imagine the following: Destroy every religious text of any persuasion in existence; eliminate every religious institution; sack anyone involved in organised religion (or even disorganised religion); purge the name of any and every deity ever proposed, and then for good measure wipe clean the memories of every person with respect to anything and everything to do with religion in any shape, manner or form. Let’s turn the entirety of humanity into a flock of another kind, just like real sheep who presumably have no concept of all the sorts of things religions go on, and on, and on about.
Firstly, that would make for a much more peaceful planet, but that’s not my real point here. If the human race all of a sudden had no inkling of religion and associated rituals like prayer, deities, and thou shall nots, and miracles, and associated baggage – the slate wiped clean – would we invent it all over again and if so would it all be in the same old form as we know it now?
All of our religions cannot possibly be correct, but all of them could be wrong. Assuming that’s the case, could there be out there a really bona-fide god or gods – supernatural deities – with some sort of associated baggage that we have no comprehension of? Say these hypothetical supernatural entities have never made contact with Planet Earth.
# Why is religion (and history too for that matter) so popular vis-à-vis say science or economics. Religion (and history) is told in story form and we’re natural born story tellers and recipients of say bedtime stories. Whole bookstores and libraries are filled with variations of “once upon a time” “they lived happy ever after”. There are multi-tens of thousands of movies and TV shows that play upon our need for stories. So that’s one reason. Another reason that religion is so popular is that it comes as a package deal. All the Big Questions (is there a God, your purpose, the meaning of life, free will, your soul, an afterlife, etc.) are wrapped up together in a nice box with a lovely pink ribbon. Reject religion, reject the pretty box of answers to your Big Questions, and you have to actually do some hard intellectual yakka to find out your own answers to those questions, individually, one at a time. So most take the easy road, the package deal, instead of striking out on their own, seeking their own intellectual answers come what may.
# In May of 2013, the current Pope (as noted on the “Huffington Post”) said that atheists were okay for salvation and a place in heaven providing they had lived the sort of life that God intended. Alas, the very next day a spokesperson for the Vatican refuted that – no way can an atheist get on the good side. Well, so much for papal infallibility! It really is all so phoney – an absolute joke.
# Miracles (if they exist) are God’s correction fluid (whiteout) – assuming God exists. If existence is affirmed on both counts that actually makes a mockery of an all-knowing, all-powerful supernatural deity since it would have been logical and preferable to have set in train the necessary conditions that would have negated the need for a later miracle. For example, don’t bother to raise the dead; rather ensure they don’t snuff it in the first place!
# Despite many references in the Bible of God talking to someone, Adam and Eve, Cain, Jacob, Jonah, Moses, etc. we never get an actual description of what God looks like. He speaks in a cloud or as a burning bush. All images of God, artworks, are of the human imagination. So, what did God really look like and why was He ashamed to actually show His face (something true unto this very day). Perhaps God doesn’t want to be seen because He was starkers – absolutely naked – and perhaps, assuming some mortal actually saw God, well no one dares mention the ’emperor’ who has no clothes. If humans were made in God’s image, and God was ashamed of His nudity (as Adam and Eve were ashamed of there lack of clothing post their nibbling on a forbidden snack), then perhaps that accounts for our reluctance in most public environments to show off our birthday suits.
# If you’re really honest about things, what’s THE most important wish list part or objective or goal or aspect of your life? Is it money? Is it power? Is it reputation? Is it winning the Nobel Prize? Is it success? Is it having the most perfect family? Is it pitching a perfect major league ballgame? Is it becoming POTUS, or perhaps Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Is it (fill in the blank)? No! More likely as not, your number one priority it is NOT DIEING! Well good luck with that ’cause it ain’t gonna happen.
So, what’s the next best objective? An afterlife! Why? What’s really annoying about snuffing it is lose of consciousness. The idea that your consciousness that you spent a lifetime building up from scratch will just dissolve into grey goo to be consumed by bacteria is pretty abhorrent. If you have an afterlife, the minimum you must retain is consciousness or self-awareness. You may still be old and grey and can’t get it up; you may not have access to alcohol and tobacco and other similar addictions; you may only get TV reruns and old magazine issues to read; you favourite pizza may not be on the menu; you may even have to share your afterlife with your ex-boss, or your ex or your in-laws, others you’d rather not share anything with or be within ten miles (or kilometres) of; in short not everything will be just hunky-dory, but at least you’ll retain your consciousness for all eternity (and be bored witless even before the first several thousand years or so passes by). Is that a price you are willing to pay?
# There are many, probably a majority of the population, who will claim to have had some sort of up close and personal experience with God, or Jesus, or angels, or some sort of supernatural entity. They will of course use that very personal experience as not only evidence, but proof that God, etc. exists. And it is extremely difficult to counter argue their conviction based on their experience. However, I too have had an intense up close and personal experience too, but one which I’m sure shows that these sort of profound spiritual experiences are some combination of wishful thinking (a desire to believe) and mental hallucinations.
Now like many hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, I like to put out food for wild birds, especially in environmentally stressful times like winter or during a drought. Over the course of many years, I’ve had thousands of visitations – what bird is going to turn down an easy free feed? At the end of the day, there’s usually some cleanup to be done like sweeping up all the leftover birdseed husks, etc. And so it came to pass one early evening, I was waiting for two birds to finish up before I did the daily cleanup. And in due course they flew off, up over my roof. And so I went outside to start the cleanup, but there sitting on the apex of the roof were the two birds. As I looked up at them, they looked back at me, and for some inexplicable reason, I received a telepathic message from the two birds: “thanks for all the food; we’ll be back tomorrow”. And then they flew off. It was so real an experience that I just stood there stunned, in fact so moving was that experience, so bonding was that human-animal encounter that tears immediately started welling up in me.
This was the first and only time I ever had such a vivid even spiritual feeling that remains as vivid and as spiritual now as it did seconds after the fact. But clearly I was imagining the whole thing. Birds cannot speak the human language. Telepathy doesn’t exist far less exist between birds and humans. Birds probably have no concept of being given a gift and thus no mental concept of giving thanks.
So yes, when someone says they had an up close and personal encounter with God (or equivalent), I’m sure that they are 100% sincere and a believer. But I’m equally convinced it’s a case, as was mine with the two birds, of self-deception.
# Despite anti gay, anti same-sex unions, anti marriage equality sentiments vehemently expressed ad nausea by extremists from the religious Far Right Wing, and endlessly going on and on and on about how the Bible states or defines marriage as between one man and one woman and thus the constitutional legality of gay marriage is a violation of God’s law, I fail to find any such Biblical reference or conformation. It’s certainly not one of the Ten Commandments!
I fail to spot in Genesis where Adam and Eve were actually married, or for that matter even in love. Adam and Eve were living in sin right under God’s righteous nose! Well one could suggest that Genesis 2: 21-24 suggests marriage since the word “wife” is used in the last verse, but that was a generality statement that is apparently nonsense since that same verse also uses the term “mother” and “father” before there ever was such a thing as parents or parenting. There is no place that says Adam and Eve were married or were husband and wife. There’s a sort of rehash in Mark 10: 6-9; Matthew 19: 4-6; and Ephesians 5: 31 whereby if you take the generality phrase, one not referring to any specific pair or twain of individuals, that phrase “one flesh” might be a synonym for “marriage”. However, since the Bible makes ample use of the word “marriage”, well it should just come right out and say “marriage is between one man and one woman” – but it doesn’t.
Overall, marriage as defined between one male and one female might be implied in the Bible, but it is never specifically stated. However, that didn’t stop a lot of the upper crust patriarchs from practicing polygamy (Genesis 29: 15-30).
# Of all the various worldviews people possess, they seem most inclined to fight over their concept of God, not over country, not over politics, but over their religion. It’s been said there many times that while good people do good things and bad people do bad things, it takes God and religion to make good people do bad things.
# Anyone who has made more than a cursory examination of the ‘ancient astronaut’ theory knows how incredibly popular the concept is. Ancient alien (was God as astronaut) books like Von Daniken’s “Chariots of the Gods” (and film) are bestsellers. In fact I understand that the History Channel’s documentary TV series “Ancient Aliens” is their most viewed and the best selling DVD they have put out. Then there have been sci-fi movies and TV series like “Stargate” that have picked up on the theme, as well as countless documentaries, websites, and articles. Collectively, all of this testifies that the idea has hit a very responsive neve indeed. People perhaps realise that there is something highly unusual, even anomalous about the human species, the origins of humanity and our ancient history that traditional religions and supernatural deities inadequately come to terms with, fail with plausible explanations, fail entirely with respect to these hundreds of enigmas.
# If Islam is the religion of peace, how come so many Muslims kill other Muslims (Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.)?
# Of all the follies that humanity has ever embraced, belief in a supernatural deity ranks head-and-shoulders above anything else. Never have so many have spent so much time on absolutely nothing. It boggles the mind. It would be absolutely hilarious were it not for the massive degree of death and suffering religious belief has inflicted on the relatively helpless. It’s a pity that all those true believers will never have any coming to terms with their delusions since once they snuff it, there’s no resurrection or afterlife to bask in.
# Name the most evil thing Satan or Lucifer did (past tense) in the Bible. Now name the most evil thing God did (past tense) as related in the Bible. Now ask yourself, who is the more evil of the two? Who most approximates Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Saddam Hussein, and those of a similar ilk? If you should spell that entity’s name backwards, you should get a K9.
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