Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Maybe I Am Wrong?

All this time I had believed there was no god... but then I saw this proof...

god is a Steelers fan?

As a Bills fan, though, at most it proves the existence of the devil (as classically dressed is it may be).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bowie FTW

God:  "Go forth and multiply"

Bowie:  "Wham bam thank you ma'am"

Youtube....


When I was in college I worked in the student union (along with being a Teaching Assistant).  If I worked the reception desk, rec room, or candy/magazine store I was supposed to put a quick note in the log book to let folks know what was happening.  Starting many years before my time, the log books had pretty much become collections of doodles/poetry/stream-of-consciousness entries..  Generally, I was a good boy and just entered what I was supposed to.  The entry above with the two quotes almost got me fired...

Friday, August 20, 2010

PZ Myers Responds to Religious Whackos

I've been reading Pharyngula for a while now - it's been on my recommended list ever since I started one.  PZ Myers can be brusque to the point of seeming rude - but he is not.  He just does not tolerate fools, and lets those fools know that they are, indeed, fools.

Case in point - today's response to a "question" from some religious whacko.

I can only hope that, one day, I will be half as skilled at responding to fools.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What WON'T These People Believe?

 
"Invest with us - we believe in the same god you do - your money is safe with us..."

So, the market is dropping, folks are scared of losing their nest eggs, and predators see an opportunity.  These scammers market a scheme to those scared people, wrap it in religion, and sucker them in big time.  Original article here.

I think Chuck (comment #5 in the first link) said it best:  "God guaranteed the investment. I suggest they take it up with him in person."

Of course, these people believe that a bearded white haired being created the universe...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Portal

I've played video games since the time of Pong.  To say that has been a few years would be an understatement.  As many games as I have played, though, until recently the number of games I have played to the very end could be counted on the hands of somebody wearing mittens... and that's not counting thumbs.... or groups of fingers....  I believe the number I am looking for is Zero.

And then I played Portal.  Portal is a rather neat game where the player is given a gun that opens (are you ready for this?) portals - you go in one, and pop out the other.  The neat part is that momentum is preserved, so if you jump down 20 feet into a portal on the floor, and you have the other portal on a wall, you come shooting out.  Or, as is described in the game - "speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out."  I think I stuck with Portal because of the puzzle-solving part of the game.  The object is not to kill many beasts (as fun as that can be in some games), but to figure out how to go from point A to point Z.

Imagine my surprise when, at the completion of the game, I was serenaded by the AI I'd been fighting.

Portal "Still Alive"   (or if you prefer your songs sung by lovely skilled geek actresses)

So what do I find in my RSS feed today?  A parody of Still Alive called Still a Lie (page down once)Here's a slightly better version...

Enjoy this brief musical interlude!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome (I think)

Courtesy of PZ Myers and Pharyngula...

One of the first things a parent does to a child in a "good christian family" is to baptize the kid.  The underpinnings of that act are amazing...

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/07/the_warped_weird_world_of_chri.php

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can You Hear Me... Now

I grew up with lots of older brothers and sisters.  One of the side benefits of older siblings, besides the fact that I always knew my babysitters, was that I was exposed to a lot of older music.  For somebody who grew up in the middle of the disco era in the 70's, exposure to good music (aka - golden oldies and classic rock) was a good thing.  Although I can appreciate some BeeGees and "I Will Survive", all I can say about polyester, coke, and mirror balls is that they assisted in the creation of some truly awful music.

So as I am sitting here playing poker online, I am listening to some concept albums (not all are oldies - Green Day's "American Idiot" fits in very nicely with some Pink Floyd, Beatles, and The Who).  The Who's "Tommy" is playing, and I hear a song that has always bugged the crap out of me.  That song is "Christmas."  I like the music, but some of the words have bothered me since my pre-teen days.  ("Tommy" per Wikipedia)

"Christmas" has Tommy's "family" singing about the wonders of xmas and how excited children get about it.  But then they start singing about the poor kid who cannot be "saved" since he is unaware of his surroundings and everything around him, including the fact that "Tommy doesn't know what day it is... He doesn't know who jesus was or what praying is... How can he be saved, from the eternal grave?"

The pre-teen in me thought that was tremendously unfair to the poor kid.  I mean, he's never had a chance, he cannot even conceive of a god, and he will be damned for it?  That was totally unfair!

Now, though, that song takes on a different meaning to me - and still bugs the crap out of me.  Here is a group of adults who have gotten together purportedly to enjoy a holiday with each other and all their kids, and rather than doing whatever they can to make this poor kid's holiday as enjoyable as possible, they obsess about the impossibility of brainwashing this kid into worshiping some imaginary being.  During the adults' cries about their tribulations of "saving" a kid who can't even hear them, they effectively accept as fact the kid is sub-human ("Only if he's cured will his spirit future level ever heighten.").  Sadly, that pretty much reflects fundamentalists view of the world...

I suppose I should not obsess myself about this.  After all, the Tommy character does ultimately get to experience the classic religious experiences:
 - In "Do You Think It's Alright" and "Fiddle About", Tommy gets to live the Catholic Alter Boy experience, as Uncle Ernie "fiddles about" with him ("down with the bedclothes, up with your nightshirt.... fiddle about, fiddle about... You won't shout as I fiddle about...")
 - In "Cousin Kevin" he gets to experience an all powerful being who abuses and plays with him for sport.  Tommy's cousin Kevin is a sadistic, twisted torturer who plays with weaker beings for fun, abusing as he sees fit.  If that is not a godlike character straight out of the old testament, I don't know what is.
 - Tommy even gets to experience the delusion of knowing all the answers, and twisting other people into doing what he says just because he thinks that it what is needed to reach spiritual fulfillment.  Tommy tells his followers "If you want to follow me, you've got to play pinball.  Put in your earplugs, put on your eye shades, you know where to put the cork."   He even has his pederast Uncle Ernie act as a spiritual guide for the unsuspecting minions...

All is not lost though, as in the end there is a happy ending:  He is forsaken by his follows, who have wizened up to the fallacy of Tommy's religion.

"god's plans" - Children of Rape, and Sharon Angle

Sharon Angle, currently running for Senate in Nevada, has this to say to women, including young teens, who are pregnant due to being raped or from incest (I swear I am not making this up):  No abortion - your rape/incest and your pregnancy are all part of god's plan... if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. 



She has also implied, though later denied that implication, that armed revolution might be the next step if the right does not win this election.

So, Ms. Angle seriously believes that "(g)od has been in this from the beginning", and that her god's plan to improve this country is to have her elected U.S. Senator from Nevada.

I mean, the plans of Old Man Smithers and the other Scooby Doo villains make more sense than the "plan" above.

For more Angle craziness, check out http://www.sharronsundergroundbunker.com/.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ten... Number Ten... Number Ten...

I recently read a post online about a survey done to determine how many Britons knew the ten commandments.  For some reason, that just struck me as one of those "who the hell cares?" situations.  What effect on society does the knowledge (or lack thereof) of those things have?  So, I just had to put in my two cents' worth...

{original blog link}

"I have to confess – I couldn’t tell you all 10 commandments either. Granted, I also am unable to tell you the major tenets of Islam, or Buddhism, Taoism, or even Satanism (if they exist).

But, quite frankly, I am fine with that. If somebody wishes to memorize the tenets of their religion, then by all means they should try to do so. And if they are successful, more power to them!

However, to decry that only a small portion of the people around you can’t recite YOUR religion’s tenets is simply ridiculous. I mean, it would be like worrying that the average person cannot tell you the syntax rules for .NET, or can’t explain the detailed rules of soccer (as handy as those might be now that the World Cup is in progress), or can’t count to 100 in Hindi. Those folks who wish to know those things should learn them. But to proclaim that a societal problem exists because the folks around you can’t count to 100 in Hindi is as much of a waste as declaring a societal problem exists because they don’t know a list of ten things specific to one particular sect."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tree Lobsters - Some are Smarter than You'd Think

Or, as Frank Zappa once said, "Let go of my pickle."

I once posted one of these comics on a Facebook account.  A catholic gentleman I've known for years, whom I both like and respect, felt the need to respond:  "I've always been partial to Marmaduke, myself." 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Remember What Wil Wheaton Says...

Now these are 10 commandments I can live with...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"The West Wing" and Religion

A short while ago I was watching The West Wing while getting ready for work.  I like The West Wing - it is one of the few shows I have all the DVDs to.  One of this morning's episodes (Bravo shows two episodes most weekday mornings) was one of my favorites.  I did not realize that it was the pilot, but based on that one show, it is easy to see how it got picked up.

The show centered on a gaff made by Josh Lyman on a Sunday morning show, in which he stated "you're god is too busy being indicted for tax fraud" to an evangelical, and the political fallout from "insulting millions of christians."  At one point, to coddle the outraged evangelicals, the White House staff holds a meeting with some of the evangelical leaders.  After Josh apologizes (sincerely, it seemed) things get heated, leading to the following exchange:

John Van Dyke (one of the evangelical leaders): The First Commandment says Honor thy father.
Toby Ziegler: No it doesn't
Josh Lyman: Toby...
Toby Ziegler: It doesn't.
Josh Lyman: Listen...
Toby Ziegler: No if I'm going to make you sit through this preposterous exercise, we're going to get the names of the damn commandments right.
Mary Marsh: Okay. Here we go.
Toby Ziegler: Honor thy father is the Third Commandment.
John Van Dyke: Then what's the First Commandment?
President Josiah Bartlet: I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt worship no other god before me. Boy, those were the days, huh?

The President then goes off on the evangelicals for not speaking out against radicals, one of whom had just sent his granddaughter a Raggedy Ann doll with a knife in its throat.

During the entire show, respect was shown for people's belief systems, but little respect was granted to those who wished to abuse the power of their religion, or force it on to others.  This was true for any faith - if you want to watch a scene with anger, check out the episode where CJ announces that a girl's school in the Middle East was allowed to burn with children in it because radical muslims refused blocked access due to the school's unholy teachings.

The President Bartlet character was a catholic with very deep faith, but his religious beliefs were never forced on anybody else.  They guided his actions, but never predetermined them.  All of his actions and decisions were based on reality, not a book.  The show even handled his crisis of faith when Mrs. Landingham died well.

"The West Wing", the product of that damned liberal commie atheist Hollywood elite, showed religion and faith in better light than anything Pat Robertson could possibly dream of.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Separation of Church and State - Not Just a Good Idea, It's the Law



In addition to the christianists pushing for the merger of their god and our Constitution, we have dozens of lawmakers presenting the National Day of Prayer as Constitutional, even though a Federal judge just ruled otherwise.  Paliban Daily posts this entry from the Secular Coalition for America discussing the issue.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Separation of Church and State" is Beneficial To All

A couple of weeks ago Sarah Palin, failed/abandoned half-Governor of Alaska, started spewing nonsense about this country being a christian country and that the founders wanted their flavor of god to be the basis of all we did.
(Please see: Palin rejects notion that God is separate from the statePalin denies church-state separation, acknowledges Prayer Warriors affiliation, Sarah Palin Says We’re a Christian Nation — She’s Wrong, and Palin & the Religious Right: A Trojan Horse in the GOP)  


She's even prompted other christianists to add their two cents worth, including Chuck Norris.  After all - who should we listen to concerning the American government than a B-list actor who makes hyper-patriotic movies based somewhere JUUUUUSSTTT a bit outside of reality, a TV series that spends quite a bit of time on Indian affairs concerning Indians that are no longer in Texas, and certainly nowhere near Dallas, and is most recognized now for touting his exercise machine...


Anyways - Palin and her ilk are again doing the combined declaration of "cry for us for we christians are oppressed" and "this is a christian nation and god watches over us".  Any inkling of "Separation of Church and State" is met with "quit oppressing the 70-80% of us god-fearing christians", followed by playing loose with facts concerning the founding fathers' beliefs.  Read "Yeah, What She Said" and "...and What He Said, Too" for some thoughts on the founding father's beliefs...


The christianists have been kind of getting their way lately.  They are 2-1 in recent judicial rulings, with their only loss being a Federal justice ruling that a portion of the law that set up the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. Christianists did win two cases - one in which the words "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance was declared "patriotic, not religious", and the other declaring that a cross is not a religious symbol.  Talk about activist judges!  Declaring "god" is not religious, and the cross is not a religious symbol!


So the christianists are getting what they want - official recognition and interpretation of the bible as it pertains to the United States.  Based on those rulings and interpretations, I may need to change some habits I've built up over the years.  You see, I had a good friend in high school that was a good catholic, and he took offense to my exclamations of "god damn (it)".  Since that time, I have tried to refrain from using that phrase as it is unnecessarily offensive.  But a Federal court has ruled that god is not a religious term - so I think I will feel less self-conscious about using the phrase "god damn (it)" - how can it be offensive to religious people if "god" is not a religious term?  I might even create some art using bodily fluids and a cross.  Again - no offense should be taken due to the cross not being a christian symbol...

Friday, May 7, 2010

... and What He Said, Too

Adding to PalibanDaily's comments on the U.S. not being a Christian nation, here are 2 cents from Bad Astronomy.

Bad Astronomy is a neat site that has a mixture of Science (with a capital "S", no less!), hack demolition (specializing recently in demolishing idiots in the Anti-vaxxer community), and poor examples of astronomy and science in TV and movies.  Definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Yeah - What She Said

Jenny Donati runs a very nice site called Paliban Daily, and this post for May 6th, 2010, in reference to the unconstitutional National Day of Prayer, presents some great quotes from the Founding Fathers and other sources concerning the separation of church and state.

The post and Paliban Daily are both worth checking out...


You might also want to jump to Paliban World - a page on Paliban Daily that accumulates numerous atheist blogs, including NoYourGod.  You can find work from a LOT of fine bloggers there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WWtZWD?*

A nice relaxing song by Axis of Awesome.

h/t UnreasonableFaith

And for some unrelated fun from Axis of Awesome, check out this ditty played in Four Chords.


*What Would the Zombie Wizard Do?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Dangers of Blind Faith

There is faith all around us, in everything we do.
 - Every time I pull out a dollar bill, I am reminded that the currency is backed by the "full faith and credit of the U.S. government".  I have faith that the system designed to handle finances in this country and the value of that bill are valid - there is (ironically) a theoretical solid foundation to that dollar and every other one flying around;
 - When I am driving through an intersection and I have a green light, I have faith that the folks with the red lights at the intersection will actually stop and grant me my right-of-way;
 - When I drink some milk (or Silk or similar product), I have faith in the system that has been put in place to make sure that the food I eat is safe to eat;
 - When I turn on the TV and watch the evening news (ABC, NBC, NBC, or PBS), I have faith that the information being broadcast is true.  There may be varied opinions mixed in with that information, but the basis of those opinions are facts.

Faith is a wonderful thing - when based in reality.

Blind faith, however, is neither a wonderful thing, nor based in reality.  It does not matter if that blind faith is in a supreme being, a driver's ability or willingness to grant right-of-way when they should, the financial system, or even the food delivery system.
 - I have the skills and tools needed and the ability to protect myself should our financial system collapse.  (No, I am not a survivalist nor do I believe in any sort of armageddon - but I do believe in personal protection);
 - While I may have faith that the next guy will stop at a stop light, I still purchased a vehicle with many safety features in case some fool has had too much to drink, is IM'ing on their cell phone, or their brakes fail;
 - I give my food a quick sniff-test (for what that is worth), and have my doctor's phone number on speed-dial;
 - I double- and triple-check the data that is the basis of news reports, and filter out the bullshit.

Those that have blind faith are doomed to failure.  Those that foist that blind faith on the rest of us doom us.

A common refrain during Bush the Second's administration was that business was capable of regulating itself.  This was not limited to W's administration - it has been a factor in many administrations during my lifetime - both Democratic and Republican.  In the late 90's some new financial instruments came about (well, they existed prior to that, but started being used widely during that time).  Some financial geniuses decided that the market was the best regulator of, well, the market for these instruments.  In fact, a law was passed specifically prohibiting the governmental regulation of the market.  Those who had blind faith in the ability of the financial industry to regulate itself were wrong.... very, very wrong.  They failed to take into consideration that people controlled those markets, and that those people may consider their own selves and their own short-term needs and desires over the market's long-term well being.  The cost of that blind faith?  Trillions of dollars.

Another arena where blind faith by a few has failed many is the current oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  5,000 barrels of oil per day are being discharged into the Gulf.  The Deepwater Horizon was a reasonably new rig - built in 2001.  Those in charge of the rig, and of regulating the rig, had blind faith that a major catastrophe could not occur.  In fact, up until the April 20th explosion that killed 11 and led to the oil spill, some people responsible for the safety of the rigs, workers, and environment mocked the possibility of a major spill (see "Landrieu mocks offshore drilling safety concerns" at Daily Kos).  A U.S. Senator, sitting with a BP executive, deriding the concerns of those who feared a disaster... See what blind faith can get you?

It doesn't matter if that blind faith is in technology, markets, people, mythical creatures, or a church leader's connection to that mythical creature.  Accepting anything as gospel (so to speak) without any question will simply lead to trouble.  And if the person doing that is a leader, they are simply leading their people into trouble - and those people deserve better.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

To the Pope (NSFW... REAAAALLYYY NSFW)

To get this little ditty out of your head you will probably have to resort to Afternoon Delight, or maybe even Waterloo.  But it expresses things just oh so well.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pass The Loot and Load the Ammunition

This is Pastor Donnie Swaggart, son of Jimmy Swaggart:  "I've got my 45s loaded and polished."  Granted, the guy did not come from the highest quality genetic material (whether you determine quality to mean "ethical, decent human being", or "top-o-the-line huckster"), but this astounds me.

Whatever happened to followers of "the prince of peace"?  (Courtesy of Wikipedia - check out the second line on the page: "...(for) the religious figure, see Jesus.)  This bozo should be preaching about helping your fellow man, being good, acting good, etc.  Instead he proclaims that there is "a philistine in Washington".  Because of his perverted "holy" views, he feels violence may be justified.  After all, he has his guns loaded and polished.

The "man" needs to learn about the country he lives in.  Civilized people really, really need to learn about this country.  If you do not like somebody who is in office, fire them the legal way - by not electing them.  Have they broken laws?  Impeach them.  Don't like who they are working with?  Work to get your folks elected.  But to imply that armed revolution is justified now is simply treasonous.  I hope the Secret Service and FBI have their eyes on Swaggart.

Why is this guy NOT in a psychiatric ward?  If I were to go to a street corner, and start preaching that "there's an alien working in Cosmetics at the Macy's in Newark, the police would whisk me away for an evaluation.  But, because the voices this guy hears in his head are the same voices millions others claim to hear, he is given a pass.

Listen to the whole message if you can.  I did a while back, but could not bring myself to do it again for this post.

And I have mentioned this before, and I will mention it again - Swaggart and his ilk are not the only ones with guns.  I love my country, and I WILL defend its Constitutionally elected government.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Can't Draw, but I Can Link

Mark your calendars for May 20th - it's the first annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!


I can't draw, so instead I'll just add a few links for fun:

The brouhaha

http://www.jesusandmo.net/2010/04/20/aims/
http://www.jesusandmo.net/2010/04/22/bear/
http://www.jesusandmo.net/2010/04/15/fear/

Just remember - the gods wrestle over who gets to smite/kill a cute little kitten each time you chuckle at one of those cartoons (unless you are a dog person - then they wrestle for a puppy!)!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

STFU Unbelievers submission FTW

STFU Believers can be rude, crude, and even disrespectful.  Maybe that's why I like it so much!  Well, that and the brutal honesty of some submissions, and downright idiocy shown by some believers.

I really liked this one:  Via SullivanStreet

Bonus (2-parter):   Part-1Part-2

Friday, April 16, 2010

Unbelievable

Based on polls taken by Gallup between May 2005 and May 2007, one-third of Americans believe the bible is literally true.  (h/t FriendlyAtheist for the link)

Can yo believe that?

One out of three people read the bible, and say "yes - that actually happened."  One-third believe Noah built an ark, filled it with 2 of every species (except unicorns and dinosaurs), and waited for the rain.  One-third believe that a man lived to be 969 years old (give or take a century or two).

I have already discussed bible literalists - but I did not realize (and have a hard time comprehending) that there were so many.... The US population is approximately 300,000,000, and some simple math puts that one-third figure at one hundred million.

Of course, some questions are raised by the thought of "the bible is the literal truth"...
 - The first has to be: "Which bible?"  (Why are there so many versions?)  Some list Methuselah's age to be 969 years at death, while others put it close to 700.  Was he a ghost only partially there for 200+ years?  Which translation is THE translation?  (As a bible literalist once told me - "if god can create the universe, the earth, and man, don't you think he could find a good publisher?"  Well - which "publisher" is right?)
 - How old is the earth?  Science and carbon dating put the earth at between 4-5 billion yeas old.  Literalists looking at genealogies in the bible put it close to 8,500 years.  (Detractors of the 4-5 billion year age claim the reason there exists conflicting or confusing "evidence" of the earth's age is that the devil put that false evidence there.  Hmmm - you think that if god could find a good publisher, he could also find a good groundskeeper to remove such rubbish.)
 - If these 100,000,000 true believers are REALLY true believers, and if failure to follow their god's words and commands are sins, why are theses 100,000,000 people not going around killing gays, adulterers, non-believers, etc?  Please do not get me wrong - I do not want them to do those horrid acts, and if somebody does try to follow through on those acts, I will do what I can to defend myself and others targeted by their brand of mythology.  But it seems to me that if your really Really REALLY BELIEVE, you should be doing something about it.

Am I ever glad I am not a science teacher right about now...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

National Day of Prayer = Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin has ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.  I think that is appropriate - although the government can acknowledge that religion has played a part in this country's history, making a declaration of "OK - now EVERYBODY pray!" crosses that line that should exist between church and state.

Many religious may exclaim that the NDoP does not promote a single religion.  That is true - it does not promote a single religion, but prayer in itself is (to paraphrase Jim Morrison) a petition to a lord.  Whether that lord or higher being is jehova, zenu, the flying spaghetti monster, gaea, or buddha, the implications are that there is something out there.  The government, by declaring "PRAY!", takes that stance, and that is unconstitutional.

As PZ says:  Let the fireworks begin.

Monday, April 12, 2010

OMFG... Part IV

Well, at least that Bishop of Tenerife has some good company.  The troubles the catholic church is having with their child rapers?  As PZ writes - It must be…The Jews!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

xkcd for the win (again)


As Funny as Telling a Kid His Parents Died in a Car Crash!

Practical jokes have always interested me.  Not in a "my gosh, I love practical jokes and admire those who pull them" way, but more in a "how low does some fool have to go to get his jollies?" manner.

Practical jokes have been part of mainstream entertainment for years.  Candid Camera hit the airwaves in 1948, and was broadcast in one form or another through 2004.  Punk'd has been a hit on MTV for years.  Scare Tactics and Boiling Points , two of the more vile versions of this type of show, have also had their runs.

Now, christians frequently claim that theirs is a religion of love and peace.  Where in the lexicon of "love and peace" does "scare the crap out of a fellow believer by convincing them that their greatest fear has come true" fall?  A so-called comedian tricks people into believing that the rapture has occurred, but those people were "left behind", taping their horrified reactions.  That's not "love and peace" - that's childishness and downright cruelty!  How funny would it be to tell a child that his parents died in a car crash just to watch his reaction, then tell the kid "ahhh, just kidding."  That's what these cruel SOBs are doing.

While researching these painful shows, I did notice one interesting (but not surprising) tidbit - Candid Camera was last broadcast on PAX between 2001-2004.  PAX TV was launched by a christian who felt there was too much violence and sex on TV.  I guess he also felt there was not enough abject cruelty on TV.



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

OMFG... Part III

Is this audacity?  Myopia?  Obliviousness?

My guess is YesYesYes.  The Vatican is now claiming that the pedophilia and rape allegations are due to people not liking the Pope and church's "stance on abortion and same-sex marriage."

"By now, it's a cultural contrast," Sodano told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. "The pope embodies moral truths that aren't accepted, and so, the shortcomings and errors of priests are used as weapons against the church."

"The pope embodies moral truths"....  HE PROTECTED AND ENABLED PEDOPHILES AND RAPISTS!  I am curious as to which moral truths the protection and enabling of pedophiles and rapists embodies.

OMFG... part II

Try not to retch while reading this one from Pharyngula.

PZ links to a rather troubling (aka - completely disgusting) comment by a bishop.


My guess is that there will be a Part III, Part IV, Part V.... (I think the usage of Roman numerals is appropriate in this case.)

Maybe Hell Does Exist...

(No - this is not another post on raped kids, although the title certainly would fit.)

XKCD's version

Happy Happy Happy

Another gem from

Calamities of Nature

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

OMFG...

There are a few reasons I did not start writing about the catholic church and their serial rapist priests***.

First - So many folks were writing so much about it that I thought nothing more needed to be added.

Second - The atrocities were so numerous, once started where would I end?

Third - it was just so damned depressing.

This morning I was reading yet another story of yet another serial rapist.  This one involves not only a cover-up, but atrocities forced upon the weakest and neediest.  According to a lawsuit filed in Alaska, some pedophile priests were moved to low income, isolated areas in Alaska where the priests could run wild.  h/t Pharyngula for that story - read PZ's analysis/rant of disgust on the situation, but you may not want to read the whole story on a full stomach.  Preferably - have a good stiff drink next to you.

But wait - there's more.... Also courtesy of the same Pharyngula article, a link to a call for the Pope's resignation.

So, yes, there is still a lot being written, and I don't know where/when/how it will stop  And it is still so...damned...depressing.


***Please note - I do not believe that every priest or that even more than a small minority are sick rapists/pedophiles.  I attended catholic church for years, and even got to know the local priest in the catholic church during my teen years.  The Father lived in the house 3 doors down from me, right next to the church, and I delivered newspapers to him daily - he was a good guy, and was happy do discuss/debate religious issues in a constructive manner.  After a few of those discussions (some involving teachers and friends) we left each other agreeing to disagree - and to the best of my knowledge he never damned me to hell.  Most priests probably are very similar to him.  Sadly, the small percentage who are rapists and pedophiles were protected by a corrupt administration.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How Hard of a Concept is This to Grasp?

Don't.F**k.Children.

Rawstory.com shows how the Vatican has company in the Boy Scouts of America.  And not in a good way.

Pretty simple, really.  Everybody is born with 2 major orifices.  Females get 3, while males get to play fireman and have visual aids to count to 21..  (We'll ignore the nose and ears since those are not relevant to the situation.)  

It doesn't matter if you belong to the catholic church, Boy Scouts of America, NAMBLA (not the North American Marlon Brando Look-Alikes, but the sick mofos), or fundamentalist Mormons, sex for adults should be limited to consenting adults.  That means NO KIDS.

Really - how difficult of a concept is that?

A Good Rundown of a Corrupt Organization, and an Abused One

OpenLeft has a nice description of a corrupt organization, and a good organization that was abused to death.

Read it and weep.

Friday, April 2, 2010

That's Funny, I'm Not Laughing...

Just as during Bush the younger's administration the truth sometimes came out most clearly from Comedy Central's Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report), the truth about the catholic church's cover-up of child-raping priests and the current Pope's involvement in that scandal can be quickly described by a couple of comics: http://www.jesusandmo.net/2010/03/30/visit/ & http://www.calamitiesofnature.com/archive/?c=355.

Sadly, as funny as those two comics are, I am not laughing.

(Update - of course, The Onion has to get in their two bits:  The Onion's Take)

How can an organization that purports to do "god's work" and claim to be a tool for good let priests sexually abuse children, hide the fact that some priests did that, PROTECT those same priests from the law, and then reassign them to other dioceses to work with other children?

This happened in the US, UK, Brazil, Ireland, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, as well as the pope's native Germany.  (ABC story about the popes and the pedophile in Mexico.)  There is no excuse.


I had a discussion the other day with a buddy who was raised and is still a Catholic.  I asked him what he thinks about the pedophilia and how the church has handled it.  I figured he is like most Catholics - disturbed by the priests who rape the kids, and disgusted at the church hierarchy for the cover-up.  That is pretty much how he felt, he had said.  You could tell the crimes really, really bothered him, but that he hoped the rest of the parishioners, clergy, and administration would help the church recover.

I was leaning towards that view - that the catholic church would recover and clean house, but then I read this.  Two instances - eight years apart, but all too similar.  Folks so caught up in the wonderfulness of their guy, that they look right past the rapist part of that guy.
“We didn’t need to clap him,” parishioner Maura McClean said afterwards, “because I think God will applaud him”.
“But that was the reaction of the decent people of Armagh. I think he’s a true genuine person who’s done no wrong.”
Even if I believed in such a creature, I do not think any god would applaud a pedophile enabler.  And to that parishioner who stated he had "done no wrong" - I can only hope that nobody "does no wrong" to a child he is close to.

As a reader of Andrew Sullivan notes, one-time Cardinal Ratzinger was a micro-manager.  I find it hard to believe that he would call an American university about firing somebody, yet would not know anything about a child molester in his organization.  The Pope has stated that his flock should not listen to "petty gossip".  I've not heard any gossip.  I've read stories of rape and pedophilia and cover-ups, but no gossip.

And for one final WTF approach to the whole priestly pedophilia/rape/cover-up situation, read this and try not to get sick to your stomach.  That "not me - the devil made me do it" bullstuff did not work for Family Circus, and it shouldn't work for the child rapists and their enablers.


In a previous post about being raised catholic, I wrote that one action I may take is to contact the diocese where my parents had me baptized and where my first communion was, and request they remove my name from their records.  That takes place Monday. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means"

Inigo Montoya said that to Vizzini after Vizzini's repeated (mis)use of the word "inconceivable".  I think that quote is just as appropriate for the catholic church and their use of the word "celibate" (or "celibacy").

For years we have heard of child sex abuse by catholic priests in the United States.  A priest would abuse kids.  If he was caught, or is suspicion became too great, the church would move the priest to another city/diocese.  And as the commercial goes - lather... rinse... repeat.  The church hierarchy was complicit in allowing these pedophiles to continue raping young boys.

Celibacy is "abstention from sexual relations".  Some would argue that "sexual relations" means the act of intercourse.  Common sense has a more liberal view of sex - if genitals are involved in an act of pleasure, it is sexual in nature.  (We'll ignore the non-sexual contact with genitals when one washes oneself, unless, as Stewie Griffin said to Brian: "You were clean fifteen minutes ago. Now you're just on vacation.")

Celibacy for priests should effectively ban their coming in contact with another's genitals, or others coming in contact with the priests' genitals.  Yet many priests have been accused of sexually abusing children.... Priests being celibate?  "(They) keep using that word.  I do not think it means what (they) think is means."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Did I Go Too Far?

There are a couple dozen folks I went to high school with that, after no contact for 25 years, I now communicate with via Facebook.  As mentioned in an earlier entry, most seem to have fallen in with the very christian groups.  One's comments I even had to hide due to the incessant "oh my, ain't that J a great guy" right after her husband died of cancer.

Health care reform passed the House this past Sunday, so yesterday (Monday) there were a LOT of comments on the bill passing.  Way too many were decrying America's downward spiral into socialism/nazism/communism/obamaism (choose one or all - the folks making the claims did not seem to have a clue).  Here are some:
"Everybody sing - 'Welcome to the USSA...'"
"Home of the fee and land of the caved..."
"Well, we now took a step farther towards loosing our freedom last evening. We are well on our way to a Socialist country."
"Sorry guys...my freakin husband had said it passed...going to have to go and hurt someone now..."


All but the last were from ex-classmates.  Then I read another comment.


"Okay its time to put the coffee cup away and get motivated. I am so glad that the state of our country is not my savior. Jesus is and he never changes and provides in all situation",

I responded

"Here here! Why grant 32 million people affordable health care when you can simply slap a bible down in front of them! How about alternative medicine - you know, stuff like the torah, quran, or dianetics?
I am curious - what verse do you use to cure tonsillitis, and which verse is best for appendicitis?" 

To say the resulted in a firestorm ("fire" was not the 4-letter word I was thinking) would be an understatement.  Folks I did not know were berating me for being mean and uncaring.  I even had folks say they would pray for me.

One of her friends claimed that the writer was simply stating "time to get going and do the housework", but I did not read it that way.  I did offer to apologize to the writer if, as her friend stated, her comment was that innocent.  I sent the writer's friend, whom I do respect to a certain degree, the following note:

So where did my response come from?


I read (a comment) that I interpreted as "time to get off our butts, the country is going to pot, only the big J-man can save us now". Legislation is well on its way to helping 30 million people, and the response is "the country is going to hell - let Jesus help them"? Last I checked, a bearded and robed figure was not walking around emergency rooms curing folks (at least not for a couple of millennia) - that is being done by doctors and nurses. So when I read a note that says "let Jesus do it", that had to be straightened out.


I did not write what I wrote to be mean. Straight-forward (based on how I read her note), yes. Mean? No. (Mean would have been making my last sentence "I am curious - what verse do you use to cure tonsillitis, and which verse is best for appendicitis?... know any that cure Cancer???") I am aware of the hell she and her family has gone through. It was horrible reading about it, let alone living through it. I've lost two brothers already (sitting in a hospital next to my mother, siblings, and my brother's wife and kids waiting for one's body to die), so I don't screw with people about that sort of thing.

So, the question of the day is - Did I Go Too Far?

I may be biased, but my answer is "no".  (Would have been a "yes" had I included that cancer shot.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Affirmative Atheism"

In my first post for this blog (In The Beginning....) I stated:

"I am not a "militant atheist" - last I checked, I had not firebombed a church, nor shot any doctors, flown any planes into any buildings, etc., nor are those actions part of any plan I have. I've never tried to convert somebody from belief in a god to atheism, nor do I think I ever will. I will debate beliefs with somebody if they bring it up, but pox on me if I ever go door to door to instruct people about the lack of god (and pox on those that do go door to door to instruct people about their god)."

Based on that statement, it's pretty clear that I can add "fundamentalist atheist" and "evangelical atheist" to the list of things I am not.  I used to joke about being a "devout atheist", but that just fed into the ignorance of those who feel atheism is simply another religion.  John Wilkins, who writes Evolving Thoughts, has come up with the label "Affirmative Atheist", which seems to fit the bill nicely.  (h/t PZ Myers)

As John Wilkins wrote:  "I have often said that I want atheism to become a normalised aspect of modern society (and of course that implies also that I want religious belief and agnosticism, but not religious exclusivism, to be normalised)."  That pretty much covers what I would like, too.  I can deal with the stupidity of folks who call atheists "satanic" (how can one be satanic when one does not believe in Satan?), but I am distressed by the ignorant view of atheists.

I like that label, Affirmative Atheist.  

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Insight from Liam Fox

Liam Fox looks into Scientology.

Expect Tom Cruise to have a tantrum and start jumping on Oprah's couch again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Another Nice Christian Organization

By now, we are all sickeningly aware of the various sex abuse cases involving priests in the catholic church - here in the U.S., over in Ireland, and now in Germany.  Apparently, there is another nice christian organization that has a history of having officials abuse little boys while their "superiors" cover up that sexual abuse.

BSA - Boy Scouts of America.  That oh-so-holy organization that has booted out top ranking Eagle Scouts because they were gay or atheists, may have been covering up sex abuse for decades.  My only involvement with scouts was as a Webelo, although I never really belonged  - I did not submit the sign-up papers. Ironically, the one thing I remember from the handbook is that Webelo stands for "We'll Be Loyal Scouts".  (Wikipedia has a nice tidbit about the Webelo Scout badge requiring the demonstration of "religiosity"...)  I guess that loyalty only encompassed the BSA, not the boys...

I don't get it... I really don't.  Boy Scouts are supposed to be trustworthy.  Boy Scouts are supposed to be valiant.  When I grew up the BSA PR machine made it seem that Boy Scouts were the crem-de-la-crem of fine young men.  I do not doubt that most Boy Scouts, past and present, are darn fine people.  So how can these men attend these meetings, claim to be doing everything they can to make these boys better people, then rape them.  Worse yet, how can the leadership of the BSA then HIDE it, yet claim to be leading a good christian organization?

(more here)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Catholicism, and My Embarrassing Connection to It

I grew up Catholic.  My father was born into a Catholic family, and my mother converted to Catholicism so that she and my father could get married in a Catholic church.  My three oldest siblings attended Catholic schools for years (they graduated from public schools), and each of us (there are 8) spent some time in some sort of religious class, either after school or during the summer.  I even remember making macaroni art on paper plates (so take that, Kyle... Jews aren't the only ones who emote artistically with pasta!).

As a Catholic child, I went to church most Sundays.  I faintly remember and have heard stories of the whole family piling into the station wagon and going to church Sundays, but that kind of fell apart.  By the time I was 6 or 7 we were Good Catholics, helping create the overflow crowds in church on Easter and Christmas as a family.   Other than those two Sundays, Dad would declare "you kids need to go to church today", although he would only go infrequently.  I also remember going to the church on Sunday morning with a couple of older siblings and not going in - just hanging out in the parking lot until the masses were let go, then we would head home.  Mom and Dad must not have been fooled, because they became less insistent on our going over time.

All 8 kids went through First Communion, and the religious instruction that preceded. it.  I recall coming up with some bogus "sins" ("I fibbed to my mother", etc) when in Confession, and the yucky wafer that we had to eat for communion.  It was disgusting (and that was even without considering that I was being a cannibal by accepting it), and would paste itself onto the roof of my mouth, guaranteeing that I would be tasting it for the next half hour.  I believe my 6 oldest siblings made it through Confirmation, but my closest brother (2 years older than me - I am the youngest) and I never took that step.

Because I never was Confirmed, I guess I was never truly a member of the Catholic church.  As I understand the ritual, Confirmation is where a young adult swears fealty to Jesus and the Church.  Until Confirmed, young folks are simply attending with their family - they need to take that final step as an adult (or at least not as an infant - Confirmation seems to be around the ages of 13-14).  It seems to me that 13-14 is a bit young for somebody to be committing to something for life.  Shoot - the Wikipedia article in the above link notes that some consider the age for Confirmation to be as low as 7.  (I guess the priests wanted to ensure they only raped true Catholic alter boys...)

I really had nothing to say about any of the above.  Kids very rarely have any say about their religious upbringing.  Even so, as shown above I identify myself as having been raised a Catholic.  I have never taken the steps some folks have taken to distance themselves from the religion they grew up in, such as unbaptisms or decertification of their baptism.  I am torn about those actions.  Since I have done nothing as an adult to imply that I belong to the Catholic church, taking such an action would essentially give credence to the idea that my baptism and first communion actually mean something to me now - which they don't.  On the other hand, the symbolism of actively breaking away can't be discounted.

I will not bother with the decertification/unbaptism.  I may still write the diocese where my parents had me baptized to request they remove all records of my belonging to the church.  Since I had no decision in that membership, it is not unreasonable to correct the error my parents made.  But I am not sure.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Respect Needs to be Earned

Want some respect for your beliefs?  Then maybe you should believe something that is not so laughable...

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 1)
Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 2)
Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 3)

For more educational and entertaining videos, check out the Thunderf00t YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

So Much For 'Separation..."

Two troubling items from this week concerning the deterioration of the Separation of Church and State.

Number One:
In California, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional.  This is the same Circuit Court that ruled it unconstitutional in 2002.  Writing for CrooksAndLiars.com, Nichole Belle states one of the troubling aspects (for the record, I do not agree with her first statement about even saying "under god"):


The ruling itself is not so much an issue with me; I don't have a problem with saying "under God". But I do have an issue with Judge Carlos Bea's reasoning in his decision:
Bea wrote that the pledge is indeed a patriotic exercise, and the words "under God" must be viewed in that context.
"The pledge reflects many beliefs held by the founding fathers of this country -- the same men who authored the Establishment Clause -- including the belief that it is the people who should and do hold the power, not the government," Bea wrote. "They believed that the people derive their most important rights, not from the government, but from God."
At the risk of being crude - bullshit.  That is pure, unadulterated bullshit.  God granted me the rights I have in this country as much as the Trix Rabbit,  Harry Potter, and Captain Ahab granted me those rights.  PEOPLE granted me those rights - intelligent, caring people.  Some of those people worked on the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, others worked on later Amendments, and others worked through the Court system (sadly, it appears no system is infallible).  And, of course, the armed forces personnel who have fought to keep this country free.

The other aspect of this ruling is that, should the courts here in my home state of North Carolina decide to follow the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling, children in public schools will be directed to state a belief in a god every school day.  (Circuits outside of the 9th are not obligated by this ruling as nothing done in the Ninth Circuit sets a direct precedence in other Circuits, although it is not uncommon for one Circuit Court to lean on other Circuits' prior decisions.)  A few years back, the State of North Carolina passed a law that stated that the Pledge MUST be said in class every day.  Children do have the option of sitting out the Pledge, but how many 6, 7, or 8 year olds could contradict their teachers and the pressure laid on them by their peers to do this?

I have a niece that felt the U.S. was not worthy of her pledge due to the treatment of the Indians and other injustices.  In junior high decided she would not say it with her class.  Her teacher tried to force her to say it, sending her to the Principal when she continued to refuse.  The Principal was prepared to punish her for not stating the Pledge.  Fortunately, her parents were intelligent folks and were able to talk some sense into the school officials.  How many parents would go to bat with a school like that for their kids?

Basically, a state law requiring that children state a Pledge with "under god" in it grants state sanction to the existence of a god - which is clearly against Separation of Church and State.

Number Two:
Feel for the children of Texas, for they (in the words of the BadAstronomer) are DOOMED.

The Texas "Education" Board has just approved guidelines for textbooks to be used in the next 10 years.  If you were to name the five people most influential in the American Revolution and our system of government, Thomas Jefferson would HAVE to be on that list.  What did they do with Jefferson?  They removed one of the major basis of his actions - Jefferson's impact in the Enlightenment will no longer be taught.  John Calvin's religious viewpoint?  Yep - that's been added.  Jefferson and the idea of Separation of Church and State?  Nahhh.

Per a live blog during the dreadful meeting when that was decided (h/t The Loom and Carl Zimmer):

Here’s the amendment Dunbar changed: “explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present.” Here’s Dunbar’s replacement standard, which passed: “explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau,  Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone.” Not only does Dunbar’s amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history — Thomas Jefferson.

A majority of that Board considers themselves religious fundamentalists.  Their ultimate guide is not the Constitution, but their bible.  Their leader is so out of touch with even his Texas constituents that he just lost his bid for reelection - but that will not keep him from taking one last shot at true liberty and the ideas that lead to it. "We are adding balance," said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. "History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left."  His solution to that "skew"?  "They added apologetics for the McCarthy hearings.  Yes, you read that right. They added to the standards that America was being infiltrated by Communists, and therefore McCarthy was right."  (again, courtesy of Phil Plait of BadAstronomy)

Textbook publishers tend to give more weight to desires of big states when it comes to the content of their textbooks.  Large states such as Texas (as well as California, NY and Florida) have a huge impact on textbook content, so what those states demand the other states will get.  I just have to hope that most of the other states have sense enough to force the textbook publishers to create two sets of textbooks:
For Texas - "US History - GOD and country" (with a forward by Edith Hamilton)
For the rest of us - "US History - Mythology Free Version"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Holy Bacon, Batman!

Feed a man a fish, and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.  Teach a man to fry bacon, and JESUS CHRIST!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jeeze - Do You Think???

I was watching ABC News tonight, and up popped a story on the gay-hatred that is going on in Uganda now.  This is all being led by assorted religious leaders, who claim (similar to Christianist Lauren Ashley) that homosexuality is evil and subject to death per their bible.  One of the questions Diane Sawyer posed prior to doing a lead-in to Nightline (which also carried the story) was "could visits by conservative American christian leaders recently have encouraged the Ugandan hatred of gays?"  As the title states... jeeze - do you think that might have had an effect?!?

An American christian leader writes a book stating homosexuals will rape children, turn those children into homosexuals, and destroy society  That same leader then visits Uganda with other christian leaders and speaks with many Ugandan religious and government leaders.  Shortly after they leave, bills are being passed stating that gays can be put to death for being gay, jailed for being gay, and their family and friends jailed for not narcing on them.  Yeah - our own American Taliban / christianists helped push their hatred into Uganda, leading to the terrorism of an entire group of people there.

I just hope Nightline gives credit where credit is due, and does not let the American religious leaders who spurred the Ugandans to action off easy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Here's to Liam Fox

I have a growing respect for Liam Fox, whose writings can be found at his own site as well as Paliban Daily.  His latest post on intolerance is very, very well thought out and written.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

These are the Fools Andrew Sullivan Refers to as "Christianists"

Courtesy of Pharyngula, a scary description of some folks who take themselves way too seriously.  Why are they scary instead of just funny?  They are armed, and believe they truly are an army of their god.

The Dangers of Superstition

I remember back when I was in grade school the teacher showed a short film on superstitions.  This film showed "bad things" that can happen when people take foolish actions based on those superstitions.  The one "bad thing" I remember (there were quite a few, but this is dredging up a 40 year old memory) concerned a middle-aged guy avoiding cracks in the sidewalk.  He could not "step on a crack or he'd break his momma's back", so he was not watching where HE was going, only where his feet were stepping.  Two workers carrying a 2x4 across the sidewalk clotheslined the guy, much to the comic delight of the children watching.

Other superstitions growing up were the traditional ones:  The number 13 is bad, and Friday the 13th is REALLY bad (well, I guess if you are a Templar knight, it is really bad);  If you spill salt, toss some over your left (right?) shoulder or you will get bad luck;  You must give somebody who sneezes good wishes so that their soul will not leave their body with the sneeze (or to prevent the devil from entering the body);  Cross your fingers to bring on good luck!

Think about those superstitions...
13:  It is 1 greater than 12 and a baker's dozen is better than a regular dozen.
Friday the 13th:  Some folks think that since one bad event happened on a Friday the 13th over 700 years ago, all subsequent Fridays the 13th should be feared.  In 700 years there have been approximately 1,200 Fridays that fell on the 13th.  Many of them have been perfectly fine days, and can even mean MONEY!  (When I was paid weekly or biweekly on Friday, the date did not matter - I got paid.  Now I get paid semi-monthly, on the 15th and 30th/31st.  If the 15th is a Sunday, I get my money on Friday the 13th.).
Spilled Salt:  I think throwing away more of an item you just spilled and wasted is just silly, regardless of which shoulder you toss it over.
Sneezing:  Your soul leaves your body when you sneeze?  If it does that, then can you imagine what it does when you fart?  But nobody ever says "gesundheit" when you fart.
Step on a crack...:  Sorry, mom - I've never paid this one much attention.  Of course, you've never had back problems, either.

Superstitions are created when we give individual events or small sequences of events too much weight.  It's part of being human to find patterns wherever we look, so if we wore our red t-shirt while watching our football team beat the hated rival, then we will find a connection, a pattern.  A superstitious person will wear that same red shirt during the next game.  This will continue until: the wearer finds something with MORE connection to 22 men playing in a stadium 1,200 miles away; or the t-shirt falls apart; or the wearer realizes that nothing he does in his living room can affect the success or failure of 22 men playing in that stadium 1,200 miles away.

I was listening to the BBC Newshour on the way to work the other day.  One of the reports they aired concerned children, I believe in Africa, being beaten and threatened for being witches.  Witches.  Yeah, let's beat the children because they might just be witches.  What is the thought process behind these beatings?  Well, when something happens, there has to be a reason.  When a farmer's animal dies, there has to be a reason for that death.  If one of the local kids happened to be hanging around near the animals the day before, doing something the farmer could not see.... WITCH!

So these folks accuse kids (and each other, I imagine) of being witches.  When the accusation is made, others in the village gather around to beat the witch into submission.  What evidence do they have?  Sadly, the question becomes "what evidence do they need?"  Even more sad, that answer is "none".  One of the people interviewed stated that the government officially does not recognize the existence of witchcraft, but that a friend of his, a lawyer and official in that same government, has accused his own children of witchcraft.

But what is superstition except faith in something that has no basis in reality?  I've known folks from all walks of life laughing at other's superstitious acts, such as crossing fingers, wearing hats inside out (rally caps), or the wearing of that red t-shirt.  But those same folks have no problems making crossing themselves when walking by a cemetery, or wearing a piece of jewelry in the shape of a cross, or stopping the constructive activity they were involved in 5 times a day to kneel towards a place across the globe.  Religions are simply organized groupings of superstitions.  Watch a superstitious person with OCD for a while ("Monk"), then watch a "holy person" perform his or her duties.  Then tell me what the difference is.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Atheist Eve

The only problem with Atheist Eve is that it only comes out once a month.  So, enjoy today's (well, March's) comic, and spend the next 30 days reading the archives (conveniently linked to on each page).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ohhhh, He's Goin' To Hades for that Fib!

Faux News piece of crap talking head Sean Hannity apparently forgot that wonderful 9th (8th if you're Catholic - I guess they were too busy with the alter boys to learn to count correctly) Commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."  Friendly Atheist (Hermant Mehta) has a clip of Hannity spewing falsehoods about the recent meeting of White House officials and the Secular Coalition for America, claiming religious folks don't get such nice treatment (I guess they do even better...) and attendance of a person who was not there.

You'd think a nice Irish Catholic boy like SH would know better than to lie.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spare the Rod - Use the Quarter Inch Plumbing Supply Line Instead

I wish I could say this is very curious coming from a religion that supposedly follows "the Prince of Peace".  I really wish I could.  Sadly, for all the good words they attribute to Jesus, and all the praising and glorification of the son of god whose birth and death was to usher in a new image of god, some believers have not yet caught on.  Maybe they will in another 2,000 years.

Found on Salon is a story of parents who have murdered their 7-year old adopted child, and put another adopted child, this one 11 years old, into the hospital in critical condition.  Why did they do this?  The little girl mispronounced a word in her home-schooling lesson.  That may seem a bit harsh, but the parents subscribe to a brutal, sadistic, (and in my opinion) evil method of child rearing.  It is referred to as "child training" (as if you were training a dog to jump through a ring of fire, or as a proponent of the method wrote: "the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the same technique God uses to train his children"), and it has too, too many followers (see also).

I am not a parent, so I cannot comprehend the intentional, scheduled, beating of a child.  I do have a temper, so I can understand (not condone, but understand) folks who get into trouble for hitting their kids.  But to actively pursue a plan of beating a child proactively to make sure the child behaves?  Only a monster would do that, and only monsters would preach it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Funny - You Don't Look Like an Atheist!" (part 2)

Part 1 of "Funny - you don't look like an atheist" described some of the erroneous preconceptions believers have about the physical properties of an atheist.  Those preconceptions can be somewhat humorous, expecting atheists to basically look like lowlifes, or criminals, or satanists.  I mean, Jimmy Bakker was as low as they got, the finest criminals go to confession, and if atheists don't believe in a god, how in the hell (pun intended) are they supposed to worship a non-existent devil?

Part 2 gets a little more serious, and by "serious" I mean in part "depressing", in part tremendously frustrating.  This part focuses on that vile preconception of good vs evil, and whether atheists can determine one from the other.  Sometimes I am able to ignore fools who proclaim you cannot know goodness without a belief in their flavor of a higher being.  Their ignorant statements may be frustrating, but they whither away.  The depressing part is when somebody you know, whom you've been friends with for years, makes the declaration that "you can't be an atheist - you're too good."  How do you respond to something like that?

I heard it from a neighbor, a friend.  I knew she and her husband were hardcore believers, but they were the good kind of believers - they believed what they believed, but did not try to force it on anybody else.  They did say a quick prayer before eating, but never tried to get me to pray with them, or do anything related to their faith.  But one day we were talking and she described a visit she recently was paid by a couple of Mormon missionaries.  She had a good chuckle at some of the things they said and her response to them ("they mentioned only 250,000 are allowed into the inner sanctum of heaven, and asked if I would like to be one of them.  I told them 'sure - but which one of you will be pushed out because I was let in?'").  A couple more minutes of conversation about religion led her to ask if I have ever believed in (her) god.  The topic had been discussed in the past, and I told her that, no, I had never felt there was any sort of deity, or higher being(s) of any sort, and repeated that I was an atheist.  That's when she said "you can't be an atheist - you're too good."...

At first blush I was depressed by that statement - that somebody that I thought knew me pretty well would completely disregard a declaration that I was dead serious about with such ease.  But then, I started getting angry.  Not green "Hulk smash" angry, but as angry and frustrated as I had ever gotten with her.  She made another statement, this one about "you can't know good without knowing (her) god".... At that, I told her straight out how arrogant, how condescending, and petty those statements were.  "What you are saying is that, unless I believe EXACTLY WHAT YOU BELIEVE, that I cannot be on your level.  Without believing in your god, nothing means anything.  My parents taught me what is right, and what is wrong, but without a mysterious all-powerful ghost looking over my shoulder, they wasted their time.  Do you realize how arrogant that is?"

"Well, I didn't mean it like that" she said.
"But that is exactly what that means - unless I am exactly like you, I mean NOTHING.  What my parents taught me - nothing.  My experiences of 40+ years - nothing.  Philosophical debates within myself about existence, and the results of those debates - NOTHING.  That...is...arrogance."

The conversation dropped rather quickly - she is not one who enjoys direct confrontation like that, and I believe she sensed she had offended me.  Every once in a while, though, the subject of religion comes up, and I still get the question "you really don't believe there is a god?" in a somewhat astounded manner, as if it was inconceivable that somebody would NOT believe...   It was almost like somebody who loved peanut butter, and could not understand why anybody would not love peanut butter - even those with allergies to peanuts.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Funny - You Don't Look Like an Atheist!" (part 1)

I have heard that statement numerous times in my life.  It seems that I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to dispel erroneous preconceptions of atheists that are held by believers of all sorts.  The "looks" issue is one of the least of them.

I am not shy about announcing my religious (non)belief, and discussions about belief systems have popped up occasionally at the various places I have worked.  And, it seems that there is one person at each employer that makes that statement.... "Gee, you don't look like an atheist."  If I was quick-witted enough, my automatic response would be "well, I do take the time to file down my horns daily."  (I have always had a very high forehead - the spots where horns would grow has never seen hair...)

So it appears that erroneous preconception #1 is that we must look like, well, something other than "normal" (whatever that is).  Trust me, I am as white-bread as they come.  I guess the folks telling me I don't look like an atheist were expecting, oh, a hardcore biker dude, or punker, or a tattoo canvas - something that is definitely not me.  Funny thing, though - I have known hardcore biker dudes and dudettes, punkers, and heavily tattooed folks who were believers in a god (most the same god as the folks who made the statement). On the flip side, some of those who were viewed as having the appearance of being most holy ended up being anything but (see Jimmy Bakker, Pat Robertson, the current Pope...).  I worked with a lady who was as sweet to you to your face as anybody you'd ever meet, but behind your back, you were mud to her and anybody she could tell.  She tried to get people fired, rumor was she worked to bankrupt an ex-business partner of her husbands... quite the conniver.  So much for looks and appearances.

God's Early Warning System Needs to be Tweaked

Courtesy of Unreasonable Faith, we find out that a woman who raped was actually warned by her god that it was going to happen.  Why did she allow the rape to happen, then?  Well, it seems that SHE WAS ALREADY TIED UP WHEN HE TOLD HER, alone with an attacker.  Great timing, g.  What is your next trick - You going to tell us that Booth is going to shoot Lincoln?
(Although there are more gory (not graphic) details about it  here, Unreasonable Faith has a good rundown on the foolishness (fallacy?) of prophesy when it is too late to do anything about the prophesied event.)

This led me to think about other sources of prophesy.  Bizarre things like "The Bible Code", NospheratuNostradamus, tea leaves, tarot cards, astronomy, etc.  These "prophesies" fall into one or more of the following categories:

1)  Ambiguous - Astronomy, tea leaves, and tarot card readings (among others) - "Get together with friends today," "stay focused," "You're possibilities for success in your field of endeavor look very good in the days ahead" (all of these were culled out of this morning's paper).  They either describe a normal day's activity, or in the example "success in your field of endeavor", is so wide-open as to be true if you happen to not trip over your own shoelace.

2)  Hindsight is 20/20 - Nostradamus, Bible Code (and many, many more) - After a (major) event, folks scour over these sources of "prophesy" to find a quatrain to misinterpret, or biblical verse that "foretold" the event.  Humans have been writing for thousands of years, and the human imagination is vast.  Some time in the past, somebody thought of something that sounded like the event that just occurred.  Here - let me try one.... "A sphere will drop, a flame will appear, a red river will flow."  There - I can say I foretold the next war!

3)  A Room Full of Monkeys - Bible Code, others - If you take a big enough book, break it down into blocks of various sizes, "read" the book going forward, backward, and diagonally like you would a word jumble, you will find "hidden words".  These hidden words are then manipulated/combined in a haphazard way to create "prophesies".  Sadly, they are usually combined *afterwards* (hindsight being 20/20, after all) to "prove" the event was "foreseen".  Why don't they make these claims ahead of time?  Probably because, with nothing to guide them in putting the words together, they'd end up with something as meaningful as "mended as well as their bruises, their tempers and their hopes. Their plans were improved with the best advice. So the time came to mid summer eve, Elrond knew all about runes of every kind".  (That was taken from a spam email.)

I saw a documentary a couple of years back about prophesies, and one section centered on 9/11.  Of course, proponents of the Bible Code and Nostradamus all rushed forth AFTERWARDS to declare that their source FORETOLD that horrible event.  Penn Jillette had a line that was something like "If you have the ability to foresee these events, or you have information of them before they happen, AND YOU DO NOTHING ABOUT IT, YOU ARE EVIL, and should be prosecuted!" (I'll try to find the exact quote).  He nails it.

Whether your prophesies are bible related, or come from some other form of witchcraft, unless you come forward ahead of time, the just STFU.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Do They Have Against Gays?

What is it with the religious right and their absolute hatred of gays?  Not only do they push their hatred here in the U.S., but they also export it?

The fiasco of Uganda's recent "we can execute you if you are gay" bill, which was put together with the assistance of notable US pastors has been big news over the past few weeks.  That bill would allow anybody who is gay to be jailed and anybody who has AIDS to be executed..  But you know what - even straights are subject to execution - if they know one of those dreaded gays!


Seriously - if a person (regardless of sexuality) does NOT turn in a person whom they know is gay, they can go to jail.  If they know two gays, and are caught not turning in the 2nd, they are subject to execution!


Those whackos need to go read their good book again...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tim Tebow, his god, and the NCAA

Tim Tebow is headed for the NFL.  He may consider it truly the "No Fun League" (or maybe even the "No Fundamentalist League") since they will not allow him to wear his biblical verse reference under his eyes like the NCAA was happy to.  I had no problem with his noting those passages in his eye-black.  As long as the NCAA didn't restrict any other player from displaying similar items, all is fine.  Shoot - Tebow was just making a small statement of his belief.  He did not preach, from all I have heard he never put somebody down because they did not believe his flavor of god... it was just him making his own statement.

Of course, can you imagine the NCAA allowing John Smith, a reserver tight-end from Podunk U., to write "Satan Rules" in his eye-black?  Of course you can't - you'd need be be on a nasty 60's LSD flashback to picture that scenario happening.

So what can the NCAA do to prevent that from happening?  Well, they could bar all players from any eye-black message, but that would seem hypocritical since they allowed their golden-boy to do it for years - and the NCAA would NEVER allow themselves to be hypocrites....

HA!!!  Barring all eye-black messages is exactly what they JUST DID.  Now that their christ-boy has left the manger, time to make sure nobody sullies their eye-black with something that may offend another (at least another christian).  As long as they were confident that the message would be coming from a good, christian boy, they were fine with it.  Heaven forbid somebody declare "allh akbar" in white on black...  or even (dare I say) "No god".

Friendly Atheist has a slightly different outlook on "The Tebow Rule" you may want to read.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Do We Really Need a Religious Bill of Rights?

That is the question the Dr. Phil Plait, the author of the Bad Astronomy blog, asks here.

Individuals should be able to express themselves in a non-disruptive manner, and a t-shirt that states "Jesus is Lord" is not disruptive (unless the school discriminates against "Allah is Great" or "Satan is my God").  But to let students who are supposed to be learning about the real world (physics, biology, geology) answer with biblical or other religious platitudes is appalling.  And to require that a teacher get away with not teaching, and to do so without any penalty, is atrocious.

I hope that Colorado saves itself from the idiocy that is this foolish act (pdf).

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Update - It appears they saved themselves.... Courtesy (again) of Dr. Phil (the one who does astronomy, not Oprah's sad-eyed puppy).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coexist? It would be nice.

Paliban Daily has a tremendous article on the idea of religions coexisting.  It delves into that nice idea of religions coexisting, then gets into the nitty-gritty of how their tenets may prevent that from happening.

Sadly depressing in its honesty, but sometimes the truth is depressing.