Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Emile Varsava's Letter to the Editor - Sarnia Observer

In a recent edition of The Sarnia Observer, Emile Varsava writes:
Sir: After Adam and Eve were put out from the Garden of Eden, the Bible states that they had two sons, Cain and Abel (they had other children also), Jealousy developed between Cain and Abel, because Cain's sacrifice to God was not accepted like Abel's was. In anger, Cain killed his brother. God called to Cain, and asked, "where is your brother Abel?" Cain answered, am I my brother's keeper? The Bible does not state if God answered Abel.

Centuries later, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus gave the answer to Cain's question, am I my brother's keeper.

Lawyer asked Jesus, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus asked him what is written in the law, he answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with thy soul, with thy mind, and love thy neighbour as thyself. Jesus said thou hast answered correctly. The lawyer asked, who is my neighbour? Jesus told him the Good Samaritan story. How a certain Samaritan stopped to help a man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead.

The Samaritan poured wine and oil on the victim's wounds, put him on his own steed, took him to an Inn, paid the innkeeper to look after the victim until the Samaritan returned. Jesus told the lawyer, "go and do likewise." What Jesus said to the lawyer, Jesus is saying to all of us, go and help those in need.

John's Gospel tells us to love one another. Our live must be active, we must all be Good Samaritans. The doctrine of feeding the hungry was introduced by the Prophet Isaiah, who lived 750 years before Christ. Isiah said feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, help those in need. This is the foundation of Christian faith.

-- Emile Varsava Sarnia
If that were all that the Christian Faith was all about, I can't see many people being against it.  However, I think the foundation of the Christian faith is dogmatic acceptance of unbelievable (literally) doctrines.

As an aside, when one reads a letter like Emile's they should be driven to ask "Is that why Christians spend billions and billions annually on their massive houses of worship?" but I digress.

Without getting into whether or not Jesus or Isaiah existed, the reality is that the idea of taking care of others pre-dates Christianity by many many years.  Humanity has existed for a couple hundred thousand years and it is clear that co-operation is what enabled our species to thrive.  It didn't take some sky-fairy to tell us that murdering was bad for us to realize that permitting murder wasn't in our best interest.

Since all of us (but the truly wacky) realize that Adam and Eve (Cain and Abel, etc.) did not exist, the premise of Emile's first paragraph is no stronger than referring to a Berenstain Bears story or one from another children's book.  (Though I think the Berenstain Bears probably make the points better without getting into a jealous papa bear that kills off thousands of his "children" for owning something like a stuffed teddy bear.)

Emile goes on to relate her reading of Luke when she speaks about the lawyer asking Jesus how he is to gain eternal life (which almost certainly does not exist).  The "law" states that you must first love "god" (what a jealous bugger he is!) and then love thy neighbour.  The concept of mutual respect, again, predates Christianity and can be derived from a naturalistic set of morals based simply on the goal of reducing human suffering (and likely was arrived at that way in the beginning).

In other words, (and using Emile's), "the foundation of the Christian faith" is copied from earlier myths and societies.  That's not much to base your beliefs on!

Though the bible does suggest some pretty good things, we can't forget the other doctrines of many faiths that are based on the very same book (not to consider the many things that were justified/supported for years by the bible - slavery and other horrific ideas like an eye-for-an-eye or stoning people to death for not believing). 

Many people use the bible, today, to support the restriction of human/equal rights for women, homosexuals and others.  It also interferes with science education, medical research and other attempts on reducing human suffering (ie. population/birth control, contraceptives, vaccinations and others).  It leads people to hold irrational beliefs about the destruction of our planet and how we should treat it - the idea that only "god" can destroy what he has created.

So, Emile, let's agree that we should work together to alleviate the suffering of others.  Let's give credit where credit is due, however - to humanity.  The golden rule was a man-made construct as your letter suggests (Isaiah wasn't "god") - we need not believe in any "gods" to accept it and we need not give credit to anyone or anything else. 

And keep that in mind the next time something "amazing" happens - like when miners are rescued from a collapsed mine by technology and humans - thank those who are like you and I - the people who want nothing more than for the human condition to be improved.  It is no time to be thanking a "god" - it is time to be amazed and intrigued by human ingenuity, the search for "truth" and the continuing advancement of technology.  The world, as it is, is amazing enough - we don't need to make crap up.


Anonymous said...

How does a letter like this even get printed? Was she responding to an article or editorial?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make sense at all. Why wouldn't someone write a letter that only says "in times like these we need to reach out and help our neighbours by supporting food banks and others services that help others in need".

We don't need to reference a dead palestinian to make it the correct thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Did you send your letter to the editor?

they might reject it because it is too long

RealityinSarnia said...

The Observer is a right wing rag of a paper. They support religious bullshit and their paper is bigoted just like the rest of the Sun papers.

Where is the free speech and the comment sections on line? They refuse to publish rebuttals to the letter to the editors unless it publishes your name and town. How can us non-theists say what needs to be said without giving away our personal security and protection?

They should rename the paper "The religious observer rag"