Saturday, December 27, 2008

Proof of God’s Non-Existence? Let a Jury Decide

While the burden of proof for a god’s existence is on believers, I’ve often thought about what would constitute proof that no supreme being/s exist?

In a court of law, when hard evidence is not available (i.e. deposable eyewitnesses, fingerprints, forensics, DNA, et al) lawyers depend on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is acceptable and often compelling. The prevailing accepted criteria to convince a jury in a civil case is by a “preponderance of evidence”, circumstantial or otherwise.

I propose that there is a preponderance of circumstantial evidence to show God/s does/do not exist.

1. Dispelled Supernatural Explanations- the Diminished God:

The scientific age is in its infancy. It is said that more discoveries have been made in the past 300 years than have taken place in the past 5,000 years. The infallibility of the Catholic Church has been all but dispelled as they capitulate to Copernicus’ model, and placidly accept Darwinian Theory. What for millennia the faithful attributed to the supernatural such as the “wrath of God” (i.e. earthquakes, lighting strikes; draught; extreme weather, plague); the “work of Satan” (i.e. deformed births, two headed sheep, plague); “demonic possession/ witches" (i.e. epilepsy, hysteria, catatonic states) have been shown by man’s scientific awakening to be natural, explainable, even reproducible/ repeatable events, & processes.

Similarly, radiologic dating, consistency of fossil species evidence within geologic strata, and other measurements both terrestrial and cosmologic which meet stringent scientific criteria , provide overwhelming evidence of Old Earth and Evolution; rendering Creationism and Young Earth fables just that...unsupportable fables with no scientific basis.

Thus, while the gaps in our knowledge still exist, they are steadily shrinking. Along with the shrinking gaps the “God of the Gaps” has diminished and continues to do so exponentially. I submit, therefore that each and every theist, clergy or layman, living or dead, who has ever acquiesced to the reality of a dispelled pre-scientific, biblically endorsed, theistically held belief (i.e. earth as center of the universe; a firmament; plague as punishment, etc.), is himself a witness to / proof that what theists once attributed to God’s Word or power is fallacy, and that this God’s credibility has diminished commensurate with those discoveries.

If a god was all powerful, all knowing and existing, his prior attributes & credibility could not be diminished by Man’s discovery. QED, God does not exist.

2. No Probable Cause for Belief:

The Bible is the sole document for belief in /support of the God of Abraham and supernatural Jesus. In 3,500 + years since the Old Testament, and 1,800+ years since the New Testament, no new evidence has ever been produced proving supernatural events described therein actually occurred. No corroborating eyewitness statements by disinterested parties, no archeological evidence, no scientific proofs or discoveries that substantiate the source documents.

For almost two millennia there have been numerous documented predictions by theists of the “end of times” / “second coming”. None of these predictions have come true.

Similarly, no new "miracles" have been forthcoming that could not be explained in natural terms. The "age of miracles" it seems has dissappeared with the advent of the scientific age.

If a supreme being existed who genuinely cared about its creations believing in him, common logic infers he would reveal his existence in undeniable and proof positive terms. He would do so without the need for fallible human interpretation, or suppression / suspension of the human ability to reason and logic (which presumably this god bestowed upon them), or dependence on man made excuses for the absence of this God's personal appearance.

In short: The evidence for the supernatural or God should be held to no higher or lower standard than the evidence for any other unseeable mythical being , i.e. werewolf, vampire, fairy, et al. I submit that in the absence of said evidence there is no probable cause to believe in a God/s existence.

Virtually all theists have on their side is "hearsay", which is the least valued of all evidence. So what can we deduce? This: if pure logic and a preponderance of evidence were the sole basis for a ruling, these two arguments alone could stand as overwhelming evidence for proof for no god.

Of course, my premise is based on "a court of law" scenario, where the judge / jury are impartial, and bound by the rule of law to decide by a "preponderance of evidence" irrespective of their personal opinion of the participants, or their own belief system. Unfortunately, given the lack of intellect of jurors, and their inability to overcome their own mental enslavement to religion, I doubt an impartial jury could be found. Certainly not in LA, or among justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, or Thomas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let's Honor the True Meaning of the Season

On December 25th, 4 CE a child was said to have been born to a Jewish virgin as she and her husband traveled to the place of his birth to be counted in the Roman census. A bright star shone over the birthplace so that the faithful will know. And so began the Good News of the birthday of the Messiah, the Son of Man, God’s Only Son.

Of course, there was no written record of any such census; nor did a Roman census ever require an entire population to relocate from their place of residence; nor was any special star evident; nor do pregnant virgins exist … then nor now. In fact, there are zero corroborating eyewitness accounts of any such star, census, or personage of Jesus ever existing.

We do know that the Romans held a festival on December 25, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun." It marks the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year which occurs between the 20th and 23rd each year, now reverses signaling the lengthening of days. To many pagan cultures the Sun WAS god and life giver. Indeed, if anything could justify worship it would be the life giving sustenance of the Sun. The Christian cult just co-opted the pagan observance, substituting the rites of “rebirth of the Sun” with the “birth of The Son” … as they co-opted so many other myths and practices for their hybrid Pagan/Abrahamic dogma.

But none of that is important. What is important is that this man-god worshipping death cult which marks its make believe inception on December 25th has persevered for almost 2000 years, and with it came almost as many years of deception, misery, intolerance, hatred, persecution, torture, subjugation, intimidation, ignorance and murder by its devoted followers in the name of their god.

So as you open presents under the pagan tree, huddle around the burning pagan Yule log, and celebrate the lengthening of the days, take a moment to remember the true meaning and reason for the Season. Offer a toast of happy birthday to sun gods Sol Invictus (pictured above), Ra, Helios, and Apollo. Be sure to thank them for the warming rays of their countenance, and for not having inspired their followers to self righteous persecution in their name.

Merry Winter Solstice

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Oil and Fundamentalist Christianity Don’t Mix.

With all the focus on fossil fuels and the price of gasoline, it lead me to wonder how exactly do “Young Earth” fundie Christians explain the formation of crude oil?

Virtually every accredited scientist / geologist on Earth agrees that crude oil was formed by the decomposition of organic materials, plants and animals, in an airless environment of 60 to 120 degrees C, under enormous pressure, for between 10 and 300 million years.
There are reams of scientific evidence for this process. There is another not widely held hypothesis called abiogenic petroleum origin, which doesn’t require organic materials/ fossils to create oil, but even that is predicated on an Earth that is billions of years old.

So what do the Young Earthers say? The Great Flood did it!! It buried trees and animals under sediment (in 40 days!!). The speed with which this occurred created enormous pressure and heat which created oil. Unfortunately, this simplistic and short cycle oil “creationism” can’t be supported by laboratory testing, scientific principles, or layered fossil evidence, nor can they offer any substantiation that demonstrates its efficacy in any scientifically sound way..

What Young Earthers DO offer is religious babble, because creationist ideas do not have to be scientifically sound or supportable, they only need be sound within the realm of creationist dogma. I.e. “God can make the Earth look like it was 100’s of millions of years old.” Well, that’s that! When someone invokes intentional deception by a supreme being or magic as the answer to anything, it pretty much puts the kibosh on any reasonable discourse with them. They are worshiping a God that needs to test his creations’ faith by making Earth look older than it really is. As Coral Yoshi said, “That’s a God with some serious self esteem issues.”

You won’t find any creationists with geology degrees working for oil companies, but more than one are employed by the Creation Museum, and probably Burger King.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice Storms, New Hampshire, and “Acts of God”

Saturday Dec. 13. Thirty minutes ago our electricity was restored after the worst ice storm in New Hampshire history knocked out power for ½ the residents of the state. My power was out for almost forty hours. There remain upwards of 300,000 NH families still without it. They say power may not be fully restored for three or four more days in spite of teams of electrical workers coming from as far as Ohio, PA, and Maryland.

It wasn’t so bad for Mrs. Hump, the dogs and I. We have an automatic propane generator that came on at 3 a.m. Friday. I called for a top off Friday morning, received it within an hour, and figured I had a good three days of gas to run my appliances, pump & heat my well water, provide lights and all the creature comforts.

By mid afternoon, surrounding neighbors without generators had been called or visited and invited to come over, take hot showers, fill water jugs and buckets for drinking and flushing, and generally enjoy the warmth of our wood burning stove, hot soup, and ample beer and liquor supply on into the evening Friday. Fortunately everyone around here has an alternate heat source, wood stoves or fireplaces, so no life threatening situations in spite of temperatures dipping into single digits overnight.

The Governor declared a state of emergency. National Guard was used to help clear streets of downed trees and storm debris in the hardest hit areas. Old folks with no alternate heat were evacuated to community shelters or neighbors spare rooms. People’s pipes burst from the cold and flooded their basements. FEMA provided emergency facilities’ with generators and cots; the Red Cross went into action. Thus far there has only been one death attributed to the storm. As disasters go, this one was well handled.

As I reflected on the myriad stories carried by our two local papers and the TV news coverage which preempted all regular TV programming, I realized I never once heard the words “Act of God”; or “Miracle.”; or “By God’s Grace.” uttered by a single reporter, nor any of the scores of storm victims interviewed. Not a single, “Thank you, Jesus!” Not one reference to God’s “merciful divine intervention” nor the angry pronouncement of “ His divine punishment for New Hampshire’s sinful, or stubborn, or … uh… err … maple syrupy ways.”

I realized in some other states (read: Bible Belt), the televangelists, every two bit bible banging clergy and their frenzied faithful, would be wailing in the streets and getting face time on every camera testifying, attributing their lot, lives & narrow escapes to the supernatural; explaining the mystical cause or meaning of the event; declaring its impact on their state as the “LORD’s Will!”, perhaps even a sign of His displeasure.

But nope, not in New Hampshire. Not a single supernatural platitude was to be found.

New Englanders are famously self sufficient and pragmatic. We understand natural occurrences, climatic changes. We are an educated people and don’t tolerate fools lightly. We include the overtly religious under that classification.

It helps keep their numbers to a relative minimum, and the few there are largely muted. It's not unlike how the cold climate helps keep us free of termites. I love New Hampshire.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hump declares his god.

"Well, if you don’t believe in God, you must think YOU'RE GOD." "If you don't worship God, what DO you worship?"

Likely if you’ve ever been in more than a passing conversation with a fundie you’ve been on the receiving end of those statements.

The problem this exposes is they cannot conceive of someone NOT having belief in the supernatural; can't fathom anyone NOT being dependent on some "greater power"; are incapable of believing people can lead perfectly happy and normal lives WITHOUT being a slave to the religious meme, and kowtowing to some ancient mythical superstition.

So in the future, instead of trying to explain how rejection of the god concept from Zeus to Isis to Jesus, et al requires no substitute, I’m going to declare a "god": My “gods” are Reason, Reality, Logic, and the Never Ending Quest for Knowledge through Discovery. It is manifested in the “Trinity” of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Naturalism. Its “church/temple/mosque/synagogue” resides within our minds.

I “worship” Critical Thinking; the Scientific Method; Supportable Evidence; Man's Drive, Desire and Ability to Learn; his desire to break free from the darkness of superstition and the blind belief born of nomadic sand people, or 2nd Century cultists, or Hellenistic seers, or aboriginal shaman.

My “gods” demand no tithing, no praying, no kneeling, no sacrifice, no vestments, no sacred garments. No symbolic consumption of human flesh or blood is necessary. It threatens no eternal damnation, nor dangles a promise of eternal reward. It doesn't demand blind belief with no evidence of the nonexistent nor the lockstep acceptance of any of its premises.

My “ gods' ” only dogma is continued expansion of knowledge; revising understanding as new discoveries warrant; reading; exchange of ideas grounded in reality; weighing hard evidence and making informed decisions unencumbered by any agenda other than recognizing how much there is we've learned, and how much more we can learn if not a slave to ancient fears and ignorance.

My “gods” have only two commandments:
1. “Ask questions & seek answers grounded in reality.”
2. "Go read a freekin science, history, or philosophy book. Education is a sacrament."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What would it take for you to believe in….

Alien abductions? Bigfoot? UFOs as genuine alien space craft? Ghosts? Witches? ESP? Fortune tellers? Demons?

For me (and I’d like to believe for a majority of people) it would take irrefutable proof, a preponderance of scientifically supported and testable evidence. And yet many people actually accept these things as real based on hearsay, “want-it-to-be-so”, or the flimsiest of evidence.

For these people it’s unimportant that haunted houses, fortune telling, or ESP have never passed a single controlled experiment. To the confirmed believer it’s enough to just “want to believe”, lack of genuine evidence doesn’t matter.

Imagine a child who was born to parents who were avid UFO believers; who accompanied their folks to UFO conventions from an early age; who read their parents’ UFO books and magazines of which there are thousands; who year after year overhear their parents and their parents’ friends talking about the latest sightings and the governments efforts to cover it up. What are the odds that such a child would become a dyed in the wool UFO devotee, and consider anyone who didn’t believe in UFOs deniers of “Truth”, or “deceived fools”? I’d guess damn near 100%.

Now, substitute for UFO believer parents, parent believers in God / Jesus and all the superstitious baggage that comes with it and you’d have the exact same impact on the impressionable child. The conditions that breed one irrational, unscientific, unproven, untestable belief are the same for all of them.

And just as any committed UFO freak will dismiss other popular mythical delusions as crazy and absurd, theists do the same thing by dismissing all other religions/gods as delusions or false beliefs. Coincidence? Hardly.

Even as they read this the connection will be dismissed by theists as unrelated to THEIR particular belief. Their minds can’t allow them to even acknowledge it. A blind spot in their minds.

Ok, gotta run. I have a Yeti symposium to attend. Now, those guys are the real thing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Satiating God's Blood Lust...Again.

Ah… how those theists love to appease their God with blood letting. What’s the latest count from India, where Muslims, were killing Hindus, and Jews, and Christians with delightful abandon? 175? More?

To those who would try to down play the religious factor, and call the cause “political”, please…spare us. Muslims comprised 100% of the perpetrators. And given that eight or nine Jews were executed among a Jewish population of something in the order of approximately 0.00001% of the Indian population pretty much eliminates their deaths as chance.

Was the hate for the infidel, and resultant enthusiastic murderous acts of those Muslim terrorists fed by Allah’s or Mohammed’s (camel turds be upon him) promise of a paradise replete with the reward of eternal virgins? Count on it.

Among the families of the deceased Jews, is their loss made more bearable by the martyrdom of their loved ones? Perhaps.

Does the belief that the Christian victims now reside with Jesus salve the pain and anguish of the senselessness of their loved ones deaths? Surely.

Is the suffering of the surviving families of the Hindu victims relieved by knowing that their dead will be reincarnated perhaps as a cow? Probably.

Did the believing victims pray for mercy and continued life in their last moments of terror? No doubt. Did it calm their horror? You tell me. We know for certain, it didn’t save their lives.

Now, imagine there were no delusions of supernaturalism, no promise of paradise, nor any life after death. Imagine no adamant claims of “the only TRUE way” fanning hatred and intolerance of beliefs that are equally moronic to ones own. Imagine if all people were free of the religious meme slave mentality. Imagine no need for platitudes, justifications and myths. Imagine those 175 people still alive. Imagine no religion.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving: Who Does an Atheist Thank?

There are all kinds of stories, real and embellished, which speak of the earliest thanksgiving feasts in the 17th century. In 1863 Lincoln proclaimed it an annual event "…as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Uh huh.

So, every fourth Thursday in November believers bow their heads, and presumably mumble some words of groveling thanks to their super being for allowing them to have their turkey, their homes, their jobs, their freedoms, their families, indeed everything that makes America good and life worth living.

As an atheist I mumble not.
I have no need of a single day of praise to thank a magical being whose non-influence due to his non-existence has had no effect on anything for which I am thankful. Instead, I have many days of thanksgiving:

- Every Election Day as I cast my vote, I thank our Founding Fathers for their bravery and foresight.
- Every Veterans Day and Memorial Day I thank every fallen comrade and every vet who ever fought to acquire and retain our freedoms.
- Every Columbus Day I am conscious of the contribution of that great explorer.
- Every Lincolns Birthday, and Martin Luther King Day I remember men whose words and deeds set people free.
- Every Independence Day I remember to thank those men and women who risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in order to bring this Great Experiment to fruition.
- Every family birthday, every anniversary, and each Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for my family… and thank them for being the people I love and who love me.

Yes, thanks are due, but not to some boogie man, not to some mythical sky being, not to some imaginary thing that hovers above, or within, or about, or below. Thanks are due to genuine human beings; real physical men, women, and children, past and present, whose sacrifice, foresight, commitment, dedication and love make our country unique, and our lives worthwhile. That’s who I’ll be thanking this Thanksgiving.

But, if you just can’t deal with reality, and must bow and grovel to some unseen god may I recommend Garuda, the Hindu bird god. He’s as close to a turkey god as you can get.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fossils, the Greatest Threat to Faith.

The oldest homo sapien remains so far discovered are 195,000 years old. They were unearthed in Ethiopia in 1967. In 2003 the oldest human remains in Europe were discovered … 35,000 years old. In 1958 human remains dating back 13,000 years were found in Colorado, the oldest found in North America thus far.

While all of these findings are accompanied by a +/- factor of a few thousand years the overwhelming evidence is Man is relatively old. It is corroborated by a variety of testable repeatable methods, and by scientists in a variety of disciplines. It is undeniable.

But it’s only undeniable if one accepts reality over blind faith. To over 50% of Americans, Archbishop James Ussher’s 17th century calculation of the Earth as only 6000+ years old based on biblical dating, is fact. Ussher declared that God formed the Earth on October 23rd, 4004 BC… with humans (Adam and Eve) following a few days later (approx 1:30 p.m. GMT, as I recall).

Some of these folks are just ignorant of the facts. Others, fundamentalists, hard core Evangelicals, know the facts and outright deny them. To them, Ussher’s calculation, the Bible’ inerrancy, over rule reality, modern science, and corroborating evidence. In the 21st century that’s what passes for reason for many Christians.

Those believers will adamantly insist that radiologic data , sedimentary layering, and every refined measurement at science’s disposal is flawed, faulty, inaccurate, thus meaningless. They will present ½ truths, pseudo-fact, and outright fiction in an attempt to discredit science, as though their faith depends on it. Why? Because their faith depends on it.

To these medieval minded folks once they admit their book of fables is not a science book, nor a book of history, nor the inerrant word of some super being, then their whole belief system comes into doubt. Their faith will be shaken to its core. Its foundation will collapse. Reality is a threat they will not / cannot tolerate if their belief is to survive. If they were able they would destroy every science book, and imprison or burn at the stake every paleontologist just as their early Church predecessors tried to do to halt knowledge and reason … the duel enemies of faith.

Instead, they wage a war of myth and misinformation. They build their Creationist museums repleat with dioramas of modern man riding dinosaurs. They home school their kids, stunt their minds, sacrificing their intellectual growth on the holy alter of blind faith and willful ignorance.

And they will tell their kids that some day they can grow up to become candidates for the office of President of the United States, like Huckabee, Brownback, Tancredo and Palin. And unfortunately in that regard they are correct.

Fuckin scary.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last Look at Politics, God, and the Future of the Republican Party

I’m pretty well up to here with politics for a while. Likely you are too. But as the post mortem of the election winds down the big remaining question is “what’s next for the Republican Party?” It’s a critical question … read on.

As I see it there are only two paths:

Either the Republican Party will become a reflection of centrist America from a social perspective, and retain its conservative fiscal ideals (which it abandoned over the past eight years); or it will become even more Right socially, more controlled by the Religious Right zealots, and more intolerant and exclusionary than it already is.

Either they will take a step back from invoking God as the justification for everything from provoking war to spread our brand of democracy at the point of a gun to people who neither want nor respect that objective; or they will continue to embrace it as “God’s Plan”.

Either they will recognize that marriage between people who love each other, irrespective of their sexual orientation, neither “picks my pocket nor breaks my leg” as Thomas Jefferson said about people’s religious beliefs; or they will continue to try and force their Biblical prohibitions on everyone.

Either they will respect a woman’s right to control her reproductive process, and stand aside from impeding medical science’s efforts to improve human existence through stem cell research … even while they themselves may decry it; or they will continue to try and force their beliefs on others and stifle scientific advancement through governmental intrusion.

Either they will finally accept the separation of church and state as declared in our Constitution, carefully defined by Founding Fathers’ writings, and underscored by the Supreme Court; or they will continue to attempt to make this a “Christian Nation”, foister their superstition on others by back door government edict, and continue the attempt to dumb down our schools’ science curriculum.

The course they choose will determine if they become a party which embraces the evolution of America’s values and thus present a viable alternative to the Democratic liberal agenda, or if they will surrender the party to the Religious nuts, sink further into a stunted, intolerant, backward mindset that places the prejudices and ignorance of their scripture above 21st century mainstream modernity, and secular common sense.

It may take a couple of years to see what faction of the Republican Party emerges victorious. But if the vapid religiosity of the Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee Creationists emerge as leaders; if Republican nominees seek the blessing and kiss the ring of the “Rev.” Hagees and “Rev.” Robertsons, and court the Dobsons, then it will be clear they have opted to become America’s version of the Taliban / the “Party of Jesus”.

If that happens, let them rot in their political irrelevance for it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christians Prove God!! Atheists Repent!!!!

Yes… that’s right. They have proofs of God! Brace yourself, here they are:

“What are the odds that Earth would be placed in orbit the exact distance from the sun to support life? What are the chances that all of the necessary elements to create and support life would conspire to present themselves on Earth? They are infinitesimally small …QED: God Did It!! ”

Darn! This is pretty convincing stuff. It seems they have us!!!

Certainly if Earth were the only planet and thus the only platform for life in the universe the chances that these things would occur on this one and only tiny chunk of floating rock would be infinitesimally miniscule. If that was the scenario I wouldn’t bet $1.00 against all the money and precious metals on the planet that such an outcome would occur. Hell, I might even acquiesce, give up my heathen ways, and shout “Hallelujah Jebus, beam me up into your Heavenly abode above the firmament!!!!” Mmmm … probably not.

But what is necessary to remind these Bible thumping, reality denying, science hating uneducated slaves to ignorance is this:
- There are an estimated 100 BILLION GLAXIES in the universe.
- Each of those 100 Billion galaxies contains at least 10 BILLION STARS (AKA suns).
- If conservatively only ¼ of all those stars have conservatively only two planets in their solar system (versus our nine) this equates to approximately 250 BILLION SOLAR SYSTEMS with 500 BILLION ORBITING PLANETS. This doesn’t include solar systems and planets that have become extinct over the past few billion years.

If only one in nine of those 500 Billion planets are capable of supporting life (we are after all the only planet of the existing nine in our solar system that is known to support life) that means the odds are that there are approximately 55.6 BILLION PLANETS out there which are as likely as Earth to provide all of the conditions necessary to formulate and support life. Don’t like that number?? Fine … half it, quarter it, call it 1/10th.

Bottom line: Far from Earth being proof of a sky daddy’s unique and singular creation, the “chosen” planet for some deity’s divine experiment, it is but one of billions of worlds upon which life is likely to be reproducing, causing mayhem, destroying their environment, waging war, and proffering that THEY are their deity’s/deities’ chosen planet. The odds of the necessary condition for life to exist on other planets are more likely than not.

Hopefully, those planets have fewer theists than we Earthlings do, and thus are more intelligent, less destructive. But since Earth is the only example we have it doesn’t seem promising.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

There's nothing Reverend about them.

Ever thought about the traditional religious titles that clergy are given? “Father”, “Your Eminence”, “Reverend” are some of them. Ever wonder how they got those esteemed and elevated titles?

The concept of priest as “Father” goes back to the Catholic Church’s insistence that their followers can’t relate to / commune directly with their god, but must have an intermediary between the faithful and the deity. That person is in the special position of granting god’s forgiveness / absolution to their childlike flock; thus, the “father figure”. The title comes in particularly handy for priests who like to play a special fatherly role to alter boys and other unsuspecting children. Fathers are to be obeyed, after all.
How convenient.

“Eminence”, infers a position of superiority, great achievement, like an eminent surgeon who has made contributions to the profession, and who sets the standard by which all other surgeons are judged. But the Catholic Church endows the title “his Eminence” upon those who have risen through the ranks of delusion and reach the pay grade of Cardinal. The fact that Cardinals infamously conspired with Nazi’s, promoted bloodletting during the Inquisition, and participated in persecutions of Jews and “heretics” down through history never seems to result in their losing their title of “superiority”. How strange. How telling.

The most common protestant clergy title is "Reverend". The word “reverend” means worthy to be revered; entitled to reverence. But, far from being bestowed only on those who are truly “worthy of reverence” by act or deed, the title is granted to every third rate charlatan and whack job who ever graduated from a seminary.

Enshrined in the “Scumbags Hall of Fame” are many illustrious “Reverends”:
The Rev. Fred Phelps, The Rev. Pat Robertson, The Rev. Jerry Falwell, The Rev. Jesse Jackson, The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, The Rev. Al Sharpton, The Rev. Jim Bakker, The Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, The Rev. Jim Jones, The Rev. John Hagee, The Rev. Ted Haggard, The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, The Rev. Billy Graham, The Rev. D. Spitz , The Rev. Michael Bray, and thousands of unnamed men of the cloth “revered” for their faith healing, deception, and child molesting proclivities.

These vile homophobes, insane messengers of hate & fear, blatant race baiting opportunists and provocateurs, thieves, adulterers, scam artists, murderers & those who suborn murder, domestic terrorists, anti-Semites, pedophiles, hypocrites, and just plain whack jobs never seem to lose their “reverence” in the eyes of their flock and the media. Somehow their ordination entitles them to be permanently revered, at least in name, regardless of how despicable or egregious their acts are.

It’s like when you hear an accused murderer rapist referred to by a police witness as “the Gentleman”. It’s a complete non-sequitur, an oxymoron.

So, the next time some jerk off tells you he is “Reverend”, ask him to prove it. And if you shake his hand, count your fingers, then wash your hand … rinse, repeat.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History in the Making

It’s just before 11:00 pm Eastern time as I write this.

Minutes from now the west coast polls close and minutes latter Obama will be projected President of the United States.

This country has turned a corner in how it thinks about race. It has rejected the old guard thinking, the politics of fear, and the Religious Right’s pick for VP. My “faith” in America has been restored.

You are witnessing history. Savor it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where are the Atheist Hate Groups?

Question: What do these groups have in common?
Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church (homophobic hate group); the Christian Identity Movement (anti-Semitic / anti-Black); KKK (anti-Semitic / anti-Black); Neo-Nazis / Aryan Nation / Skinheads (anti-Semitic / anti-Black); Phineas Priesthood (anti- race mixing/ anti-Semitic); Army of God (abortion dr. murderers / clinic bombers); Institute for Historic Review (anti-Semitic / Holocaust deniers).

Answer: They are all Jesus worshipping hate groups. Each inculcates “Christian values” within their group. Each holds the Bible to be the inerrant “Word of God”. Each justifies their hate, violence, discrimination and terror using the scripture. Each recognizes Jesus as their god and savior.

And these are just a sampling. There are many other Christian groups like these whose ignorance, hatred and intolerance cause death, destruction, fear, and intimidation in this country, in this day and age.

Liberal Christians will claim these people are “not True Christians”; that they misuse the scripture for their nefarious purposes; that the hate they profess is not supported by the bible. But they are mistaken, or in denial. They love Jesus, and accept him as their savior. Acts do not determine salvation … belief does. That’s the Christian doctrine.

Now, one doesn’t have to be Christian to be a hate group. The Muslims have plenty, and they cause thousands of deaths. But these Christian hate groups are our own home grown, flag waving, God fearing Americans. Oh, I’d love to say they “aren’t True Americans”, but by birth and by our constitution they are.

I did a search for “atheist hate groups”. Guess what… there aren’t any. Free Thinkers, those Godless heathens, don’t band together and picket gay funerals or bomb abortion clinics. They don’t create/join groups that burn down African American churches, paint swastikas on synagogues, or threaten to kill minorities and presidential candidates and claim it to be the will of some unseen entity. To do those things one seems to need a belief in God.

Last question: Why is that?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let’s keep Christ in Christoween

This picture is from a Christian site. As bizarre as it seems at first glance, it makes sense when you think about it… after all, Jesus WAS a zombie.

As silly and goofy as this picture is, there’s a deeper meaning and positive side to it. It represents the Church’s need to co-opt a pre-Christian, pagan Celtic ritual, a secular US day of fun, and connect it in some whacky way to Jesus, in an attempt to stick Jesus where he never was and doesn’t belong.

It’s evidence of Christianity’s fear of becoming irrelevant in a modern secular world, a fear well founded given the erosion in church attendance and decline in believers in the industrialized world. To paraphrase Martha Stewart: “It’s a good thing.”

Have a fun and safe Halloween, and if you see Jesus trick or treating ... guard your brain.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Religious Right’s obsession with YOUR morality explained.

What’s with the far right Christian obsession with other people's sexual behavior, reproduction, and "morality"?

In short: That THEY live by rules and "commandments" they believe are divinely established isn’t enough. We MUST ALL abide by their concept of right and wrong or the shit will hit the fan for EVERYONE.

Why? Because the all knowing God thing sees everything that man does. He peeks into bedrooms; he evaluates your sexual practices. He assesses your decision to have an abortion or to give birth. He knows when you are masturbating. No doubt his sensibilities are offended by your conduct. And if God thing's sensibilities are offended...well... you know how "He" can get. He has a history of smiting entire populations, civilizations, and indeed complete species when offended.

Hence the insane behavior and ranting of Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, the Right Wing fanatic politicians’ adamant demand that women be forced to give birth, that homosexuality be demonized, and push for a Constitutional amendment to prohibit homosexual marriage. To these people, and their sheep constituents, duty is to the God thing first, the country second, individual civil rights last. They are God's agents.

It's not enough for THEM to practice what the "good book" tells them. They have a vested interest in making sure YOUR genitals are applied to the appropriately opposite genitals, your reproductive processes controlled, and that in all things we fit their interpretation of their bible’s definition of morality... lest God thing get His thong in a twist and vent His wrath on us all.

But my Republican friends and acquaintances are unmoved by, blind to, this peculiar obsession of their religious Republican brethren… the same brethren who forced Palin’s nomination as VP. They are mostly too old to have abortions, and none are homosexual (or don’t admit to being such), and thus could give a fiddler’s fuck about governmental repression of civil rights by theocratic fanatics. To them it’s all about their taxes.

“…then they came for the homosexuals I remained silent; I was not a homosexual. And when they came for the Jews I remained silent; I was not a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Death Knell of the Republican Party?

I was listening to NPR today and heard a life long Republican Mickey Edwards decry whats happened to his party. A 16 year congressman, a senior member of the House Republican leadership as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, a member of both the House Appropriations and Budget committees, and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations operative says he is still a Republican but is voting for Obama. The first time he'll be voting Democrat in his life.

His reasoning is that while he is more in line with Republican policy than Democratic policy, McCain's dispicable campaign, his "irratic behavior", and Palin as a VP running mate is more than his conscience will allow him to tolerate. He also stated that Palin was not McCain's choice (he wanted Lieberman), but kowtowed to the demands of the Religious Right. Some Maverick.

He said that after this election there will be a fight for the "soul" of the Republican party. It will either become more inline with mainstream American perspectives, or it will become a far right Christian party and become less and less of a factor in American politics.

Between this guy & Colon Powell's defection to Obama, and my own abadonment of the Republican party after 40 years, it's becoming clear what is happening. The handwriting is on the wall.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin; young Earth Creationist, born again religious fanatic, opponent of sex education, proponent of incest / rape full term pregnancy, and the intellect who professes foreign affairs experience because her state is closest to Russia ... proclaims that her favorite Baldwin brother is Stephen Baldwin. Well, given that he is a Born Again religious fanatic, whose been through rehab more times than Lindsay Lohan, has an IQ below 100, and who posesses all the acting talent of a demented chimp, I am unsurprised.
I contributed again to Obama's campaign last night, having never contributed to a Presidential campaign in my life before this election. But I'll be damned if I'm going to stand on the sidelines and not put my money where my typing is, and watch a 1/2 dead old fool and a 1/2 crazy religious fanatic run this country for the next four years. We've already been there and done that.
If you have $10, $15, $25 available to be part of history... do it now!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Obama, the Anti-Christ, & Dementia

No doubt everyone has seen the email that has been circulating over the past year that proclaims Obama the “anti-Christ”, the “Beast” as described in the Book of Daniel, and Revelations. It details the foretelling of the arrival of the “666” emblazoned evil one, and all his attributes, some conveniently contrived for Obama’s benefit. It was emailed to me by my devoutly Catholic / rabidly Republican accountant earlier this year.
I have since found a new accountant.

The other day I received word from my atheist nephew that his mother’s husband (my wife’s brother-in-law), a staunchly Republican septuagenarian, forwarded the infamously moronic Obama / anti-Christ email to him. Evidently it’s making its second round with Obama’s lead in the polls provoking the Republican “faithful” to a frenzy of hysteria. Mercifully, I had myself removed from the old guy’s mailing list a few months ago when I received a racist anti-Obama chain email from him and realized he had nothing to say that I wanted to hear. My nephew doesn’t have the luxury of that option, unfortunately for him.

The funny thing is when I told this old guy back in January that I was an atheist, he too claimed to be a non-believer. Having never had any previous discussions with him about religion I had no reason to doubt his veracity. But now I was confused. How could a self proclaimed non-believer forward to everyone he knows an email that is steeped in ancient ignorant religious doctrine; a doctrine that would be dismissed (along with the sender) as idiotic and mindless theist political blather by any atheist or modernist believer with a working brain stem?

I pondered this for a while until my nephew threw in the coup de grace. It seems the relative also declared that of the four Presidential and VP candidates, he believes Sarah Palin would make the best President (!). That’s when it all fell into place: the old guy is suffering from dementia.

Now my only question is this: does being religious make you a senile halfwit…or does senility cause religiosity? If the latter I hope Mrs. Hump pulls the plug on me long before it comes to that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pascal’s Wager. I’ll take that bet!

Blaise Pascal, 17th century religious philosopher and mathematician, is famous for what is known as “Pascal’s Wager”. In short it posits that since the existence of God can neither be proven nor disproven, it is a better “wager” to believe than to not believe, since with belief you have nothing to lose. With disbelief, if God does exist you’re screwed.

Naturally that logic only works if the possibility of a god existing happens to be the one god you pick to worship. Problem is, if a god existed it could well be one of the thousands and thousands of gods man has worshipped for time immemorial… or even another god that man’s mind has yet to conceive. Thus, if one picks a specific god to worship, the odds of THAT GOD being THE GOD, the CORRECT GOD, is from a mathematical perspective, rather small…infinitely tiny.

So as oppose to having nothing to lose, a Christian may well find themselves confronting a god who is pissed as hell that his creation has been worshipping the wrong god and giving the wrong god all the credit his whole life. Homer Simpson figured it out when he said: “But Marge, suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder."

In fact, there’s a good possibility (better than even odds I say) that said god being would be more sympathetic toward an atheist who worshipped no god because there was no supporting evidence for any. If nothing else, atheism demonstrates the admirable quality of reason and logic that, presumably, this being would have wanted man to demonstrate…seeing as how this god would have provided those attributes to man in the first place.

Believe in God because you’ve got “nothing to lose and everything to gain”?? Yeah…nothing to lose except your ability to reason and logic; your grasp on reality; a loss of self sufficiency; and conducting your life encumbered by inane dogma and superstitious fears.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Distorting the Scripture for Fun and Profit, It’s the “Social Gospel” Way.

I’ve been hanging around Sojourner’s website. It’s one of those far left Christian sites that endorses redistribution of wealth (AKA taxing people to death) to solve the world’s poverty problems. The philosophy they espouse is called “social gospel”. It’s headed by a leftist minister/author whose hybrid concept of capitalism and socialism has made him famous among far Left Liberation Christians.

It’s different, than most Christian blogs. It attracts a variety of Christians: those who see the site leader as some kind of prophetic cult figure, some normal liberal thinking Christians, a self proclaimed “mystic” or two, an educated “non-theist Christian”, and the usual Religious Right whackos. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

But what’s not different is that the vast majority of them, from the guest blog authors through the commenting readers, is that hardly any of them understand scripture or refuse to apply it truthfully.

Oh, they love to quote verse. They will cut and paste and paraphrase it endlessly to support the thread topic’s political, social, or economic theme. The problem is it NEVER is an accurate interpretation of the genuine meaning of the scripture they are quoting. NEVER! Scripture is a tool to be adeptly manipulated.

When their misapplication, lack of understanding is pointed out, and their outright perversion of the verse to justify their argument is exposed, that’s when the fun begins. The labored excuses, the denial, the protestations, the accusations of being disrespectful, the invention of context, the anger, it’s remarkable to behold.

Take Paul’s admonishment in 1 Timothy which says women are not to preach, and must be silent in church. At this site the verse is denied as a prohibition against women as pastors, and twisted as an endorsement that women should be ministers. Yep, you read that right. At least two people insisted that Paul didn’t REALLY mean it for ALL churches … just Timothy’s church. How did they get that interpretation? Where was the scriptural evidence, the inference, the source document? Nope, nada… they got nothing. Why did the church fathers include 1Timothy in official canon if it was only for ONE church out of the hundreds? No answer… they just ignore and move on.

Another particularly vapid leftist Christian was bemoaning how the emergency “Wall Street Bailout” passed by congress will do nothing to spread the “Good News of economic security that Jesus promised the poor”. When I pointed out that the “Good News” Jesus spoke of had nothing to do with finance, but the spreading of the word of Jesus’ coming, the good news of God, salvation, the Kingdom, etc., and that it was mean to lift the burden of heavy spirit from the poor, not the burden of their economic plight… well, I may as well have been accused of being Satan himself.

That the explanation of “good news” I provided is corroborated by every Christian biblical site on the web, and every knowledgeable biblical scholar, and was documented for him, was of no importance to him. That there is zero reference to economic security, or raising the poor from their financial plight, or governmental intervention in wealth redistribution to benefit the poor anywhere in scripture doesn’t mean a thing to him.

Basically what it comes down to is some combination of outright ignorance, or intentional distortion in order to support an agenda. Hey, if they can use the bible to justify anything from slavery, to disenfranchising homosexuals, to anti-Semitism, to anti Choice, why not distort it in support of confiscatory taxation to support the poor. And while you’re at it, convince yourself you know what you’re talking about.

Christian ignorance of scripture and their intellectual dishonesty is more than skin deep. It goes right down to the bone.
UPDATE 10/7/08: Evidently pointing out textual criticism of the scripture, & correcting fake use of scriptural verse to support their idealogy is not welcome. I've been banned from commenting on Sojourners. So much for Christian tolerance :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Miraculous Jesus Pill: Use Only as Directed

I doubt there is an atheist alive who hasn’t heard a Christian attribute a spontaneous healing, injury pain reduction, or their recovery from an addiction to Jesus’ direct involvement. I dare say that there are thousands upon thousands of Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, and every other flavor of supernatural belief, who will likewise attest to their prophet, God, or gods’ beneficial healing power.

Not all of these things are lies or delusions. In fact, it’s likely that the majority of the claims are actually being truthfully attested to by the devout theist. How is this possible?

Let me quote from Wiki:

“The placebo effect or placebo response is a therapeutic or healing effect of an inert medicine or ineffective therapy, … due to the individual expecting or believing that it will work. The placebo effect occurs when a patient is treated in conjunction with the suggestion from an authority figure or from acquired information that the treatment will aid in healing and the patient’s condition improves.”

Whether it’s a sugar pill given by a medical authority, a monkey turd talisman given by a witch doctor, or a minister’s suggestion of divine intervention by murmuring a prescribed prayer, the power of placebo is undeniable and observable. What science doesn’t fully understand is how the mechanism actually works.

Unfortunately, unlike sugar pills, there is an addictive element to the Jesus Placebo. Once a beneficiary of that effect believes that all their ills, all their tribulations, all their personal weaknesses and failures can be overcome by the Jesus pill, they become addicted to it. That addiction is manifested by increased dependency on the supernatural, and a corresponding devaluation of their own ability, own self worth, own strength, and own accountability for their lives and future. i.e. “I couldn’t have overcome my alcoholism with out Jesus! Maybe he’ll help me get a job now.”

And when the illness / pain returns which it invariably does, a medical doctor will explain to the patient the reason, and prescribe an effective medication. But, there isn’t a shaman, a witch doctor, a minister, or a priest who will admit to the “patient” they were fed a faith placebo. Why should they? What possible benefit could come from telling them the truth? So, instead of prescribing a double dose of reality they deduce that the patient’s faith was weak, and prescribe more and higher does of their religious placebo.
“Take two Jesus’ and see me next Sunday.”

The mind is a wonderful thing. That religion messes with it so badly is akin to malpractice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Piety & Politics: READ THIS BOOK!

The Reverend Barry W. Lynn is the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. A devout and liberal Christian, an ordained and practicing minister of the United Church of Christ, and an attorney, Rev. Lynn has been an activist leading the charge against religious incursion into our government and our personal freedoms for many years.

I recently read Rev. Lynn’s book “Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom”. His grasp of our history, the Constitution, and the dangers of mixing religion and government is both educational and heartening to hear, especially from a clergyman. He doesn’t hesitate to openly chastise those bastions of the Religious Right who falsely promote the fallacy that our laws were derived from Christian or biblical precepts, or that this is a “Christian Nation”. This man stands at the top of my list of truth tellers, modern patriots, and defenders of our freedoms.

The following is the book review I posted to It’s not my typical review, but should serve as a strong recommendation to read this important work.

An Open Letter to Rev. Lynn:

Dear Rev. Lynn,

I just read Piety & Politics and wanted to say "thank you". I just said it by joining Americans United for Separation of Church and State moments ago, but I wanted to say it personally and publicly.

As an atheist I all too often fall into the trap of lumping all Christians together as bible thumping religious fanatics. People who, in spite of my Vietnam service, Bronze Star, and Army Commendation medals, perceive me to be "… non-patriotic, perhaps not even an American" as George Bush Sr. once said, simply because I reject their "beliefs".

People who would happily force every school to promote organized prayer, control women’s reproductive rights, intercede into family decisions of when the terminally ill should be allowed to die, impose their biblical interpretations upon our secular Constitution, and subjugate anyone who's sexual preference, personal philosophy, or religious views do not parallel theirs.

I know that the people of whom I speak aren't the majority of Christians, but I need to be reminded of that from time to time. Thanks for reminding me, and thanks for helping preserve America's freedoms from those who would truncate them.

I encourage every defender of the Constitution and the “wall of separation”, theist or atheist, to buy this book and read it before the presidential election. Here’s a link to it on You can buy it used for under $1.00 + $3.99 shipping.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"It takes more faith NOT to believe in God."

If you’ve never had a Fundie, or a Children of the Corn Mind Zombie theist throw that "It takes more faith not to believe in God" phrase at you, you simply haven’t been hanging around the right chat rooms or message groups.

It’s one of those platitudes they are taught to repeat. They think of it as the “Rubic’s Cube” of challenges… a real brain teaser. The technique is interesting because they use a theological term, "faith", and try to apply it to the scientific method which is devoid of faith and founded in evidence. Faith by definition is belief in the absence of solid evidence. Therefore evidence is the antithesis of faith, the opposite. They are like matter and anti-matter…they simply cannot coexist in one entity. Thus at face the statement is an exercise in the absurd.

There is overwhelming evidence that the Earth is very old as oppose to 6,000 yrs old as the biblical literalists believe; overwhelming evidence for evolution and none for Creation, nor an intelligent designer. Thus rejecting god/gods for an explanation for the species, or to reject a biblical time line for Earth’s age requires no faith at all.

Here's what eludes theists about this whole issue:
If we as atheists denied the concept of god simply as an arbitrary flat rejection, then indeed, it would be a decision predicated on faith. But, as thinking people, the rejection of a god concept is a result of accumulated evidence that support natural causes for the universe. Not just one piece of evidence, not just one theory, but multiple theories with vast amounts of evidence.

Since cumulatively, these natural, repeatable, and observable pieces of evidence contradict supernatural explanations that are devoid of evidence, it requires no "faith" to accept the natural explanation and reject the supernatural explanation. From there it’s a short step to testing and observing the ineffectiveness of prayer; the dearth of evidence for miracles, or reanimation of the dead, etc., etc. Pretty soon, without any agenda to defend, the illogic of god and supernaturalism becomes self evident.

That they can't fathom this simple reasoning, and thus keep rolling out the “it takes more faith not to believe” canard, I attribute to theistic mental block caused by the religion meme, or gross ignorance.

Science and reason neither demand nor require faith. They simply require examination of the data, the evidence, without an agenda that demands rejection / ignoring of any data/ evidence to keep it viable, which is precisely what theists must do to keep their faith

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Would a 1930’s German Jew Vote for the Nazi Party? Ask a McCain Supporting Atheist.

John McCain’s one time abhorrence of the Religious Right, their polices, their politics, their objective to insert religion into our lives, our constitution and our government, is a thing of the past. Now he embraces them. His selection of a charismatic fundamentalist VP who believes in Creationism, rejects Evolution, insists only ‘abstinence” be taught to school children, et al, is proof of that. It was a cynical ploy to cement their allegeance. McCain has sold his "soul" to the Religious Right to get elected.

But more than that, he has declared openly that when elected he will appoint judges in the same mould as Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. That is to say, the most conservative and religious members of the Court. Justices who have in the past made their pro-religion sympathies clear.

Why is this of importance now? Because the next administration will be appointing between one and three Supreme Court Justices. Those appointees will determine the tilt of the court for many years to come. Those appointees will either represent votes to retain our personal freedoms, or will be votes to truncate them in the name of religious fervor.

McCain has made a promise to the Hagees, Robertsons, Dobsons. He made clear that he would welcome the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Let’s make this real simple. McCain has become a tool of the Religious Right. He is a “maverick” like I am Jesus Christ. His judicial appointments will be a victory for the religious conservative extremists.

So, you atheists out there who claim to be dues paying members of Freedom from Religion Foundation, or Military Freedom Foundation, or Americans United for Separation of Church and State, or any other activist organization which seeks to preserve our freedoms from those who would impose their religious fanaticism upon all of us … a vote for McCain is a vote for the Religious Right and counter to where you are putting your both your mouth and your money..

- If you agree that the Right’s extreme fundamentalist religious precepts should not be part of our secular government;
- If you agree that the government should have no say in who can marry;
- If you agree that "abstinence only" sex ed shouldn't be gov't funded;
- If you agree the government shouldn’t be deciding what books should or should not be in libraries or what you can and cannot view on the internet;
- If you agree women should have complete control of their reproductive rights;
- If you agree that family alone should determine with their doctor when their brain dead loved one should be allowed to die;
- If you agree that homosexuality isn’t a choice but by genetic variation that shouldn’t be punishable by second class citizenship;
- If you agree that religious symbolism in our public schools and government buildings is a violation of the Constitution; and biblical precepts have no place in our secular laws;
- If you agree that teaching creationism in public schools works against our youth's intellectual advancement, and for religiosity;
- If you agree that pastors who use their church to overtly support a political candidate or party should lose their tax exemption ...

Then voting for McCain is the last thing you would do.

But, if you agree with George H.W. Bush that “Atheists aren’t patriots, and maybe not even Americans.”, or Falwell’s legacy, or Robertson, or Hagee, or Dobson then voting for McCain is exactly the right thing to do.

If you go that route, if you vote McCain, do yourself a favor: stop contributing to those atheist and “wall of separation” foundations, because you’re voting against those organization’s efforts.
You may as well be a 1930’s German Jew voting for the Nazis.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Of Conscience and Self Interest: Where I Stand.

I despise far Left Liberalism, as much as I despise the far Right Conservatives. The redistribution of wealth and the attempt to mandate economic equality; the wholesale giveaways that make people slaves to state handouts; the attempt to use government to cure all ills, these are the remnants of a defunct and anti-democratic , anti-capitalist mindset. I am for a strong military, smaller government, personal accountability, drilling for oil, and a rabid supporter of immigration enforcement. I couple that with a strong sense of social justice, a commitment to the Founding Fathers principles, a belief in personal freedoms. Thus, I've always applied the label "moderate" to myself.

Recently I made the cardinal error of expressing concern for working / middle class people who represent the vast majority of our population, and especially for those who live near the poverty level. As a result, I came under fire for my “liberalism”. It was a remarkable awakening.

With a group of friends up for the weekend I mentioned that healthcare was out of reach for many, the rate of annual cost increase outstripping the growth in average income.. The response was “I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours…what’s the problem?”.

Today I was exchanging stories about power outages (we had a three hour one this morning) in a conversation with another close acquaintance. I expressed concern for folks near him who experienced a forty-four hour power outage last winter , wondering how they were able to make it through without their pipes freezing … where did they go, what did they do? The response was “I have my generator, you have yours. What do you care?”.

Interestingly, the former is a Catholic, allegedly devout; the latter a non-practicing Jew. Both people’s incomes are mid six figures or better.

Naturally politics came up, and my voting for Obama caused quite a stir. Both chided me for lapsing into liberalism in my dotage. Good thing I didn’t tell them I gave my tax rebate to the local food bank, they’d have thought me insane. I was soundly lectured on the financial implications of voting “Liberal” versus Republican, and pretty much dismissed as having succumbed to opiate induced delusion.

I understand their perspective. For forty some years I voted strictly based on my wallet, and the rights of gun ownership [read: Republican]. But the past eight Bush years have cured me of that. My thinking is broader now. But even before retirement, when I was making the big bucks, I never lost sight of my humanity.

If a good employee got drunk, we didn’t just fire him, we sent him to a program and paid for it (we were non union by the way). If an employee couldn’t pay their rent because their spouse missed work caring for their sick kid, we’d float a long term no interest loan, or give them money from the company welfare account.. We could have paid less, but we paid more or as much as a union shop. And we didn’t do these things only to be altruistic. We did them with our businesses interest in mind. It attracted and retained good employees, it cemented their loyalty, it made for a better relationship between staff and management, reduced absenteeism, reduced the need for overtime and seasonal staff with higher productivity. Inventory shortage shrank. It’s a win win for everyone.

Yep, I want to see people being able to afford to heat their house this winter, and winters to come. Yes, I feel badly when I see old folks at the food bank or young couples with kids in tow that they can’t feed on their own. Guilty, that I am discouraged at the migration of jobs overseas, the growth in unemployment, that people are struggling to buy food and gasoline, and pay for their homes in tough economic times. Mea culpa, but I don’t want to see a sick kid suffer because his parents can’t afford to take him to a doctor. That “I’ve got mine.” doesn’t satisfy me. It didn’t before I retired, it doesn’t now.

The government isn’t the answer to all these ills, but it has a role to play directly or indirectly. If that makes me some kind of half assed “liberal”, well I suppose I can live with that. On the flip side: if some one is capable of working, can find a job, but won’t lift a hand to help themselves ... let ‘em starve. If that makes me a fascist, I can live with that too. But you see, it’s not all altruism. There is some self interest.

Just as I am convinced it’s in our country’s best interest to reestablish America’s international influence, credibility and military strength which has been all but destroyed over the past eight years by a demented “divinely inspired” jingoism and self righteous “religious crusade” to spread our culture; just as I decry the complete reversal of Teddy Roosevelt’s admonishment, instead speaking loudly but not even possessing a stick to carry… so too I am convinced that it is in our best interest not to see a larger percentage of our populace descend into homelessness, succumb to the cold, go hungry, or suffer from curable illness because of influences largely beyond their control.

If Obama is elected, and doesn’t improve our standing abroad, and our domestic condition, we get to do it again in four years. Continuation of Bush’s policies via McCain holds out no promise at all.

Some people will deny the importance of our declining national prestige; down play the threat of the fanatical fundamentalist Religious Right to our freedoms; and ignore the implications of a conservative shift in the Supreme Court. These same people will turn a blind eye to the suffering and gradual dissolution of the middle classes and what it foreshadows ... and all this to ensure retention of 2 or 3 percentage points of their earnings. It’s narrow thinking.

“I’ve got mine.” is as shitty a philosophy as was “Let them eat cake!”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why do Christians endorse tyranny? Just thank Paul.

Nothing speaks more of Saul of Tarsus’ / AKA Paul’s credulity, blind stupidity, and rejection of reality than his own writings. This one is classic:

Romans 13
13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same

Understand what Paul is saying here: Governments do not act against good people; it only acts against citizens who are evil. Thus, do not resist your rulers, for they have been placed there with God’s blessing.

In effect he was saying tyranny does not exist. And yet, if history has taught us anything it’s that a people’s own rulers have committed the most hideous acts against their most innocent citizens. A few notable examples among many more:

The Spanish Inquisition
The extermination of the French Cathars
Russian pogroms against the Jews
Stalin’s “purge”, deportations, and starvation of his own Soviet countryman
Nazi Germany’s “final solution” / The Holocaust
Pol Pot’s murder of 1/4th of Cambodia’s population
Sudan’s ethnic cleaning in Darfur
Extermination of Muslims by Christian Serbs in Kosovo

Those leaders were “ordained of God”?
Those rulers did not commit “terror to good works”?
The millions of victims of their governments had no reason to be “afraid of the power”?
And it was, or would have been, wrong for these people to “resist the power”?

I doubt one out of ten thousand Christians are even aware of these verses. Of those few who have actually read the bible most probably had no idea what Paul was saying, and just flew over it. But the Evangelical Christian Right Fundies buy into it, endorse it, 100%.

So, the next time you hear a fundie Christian say ...

“You shouldn’t fear uncontrolled governmental wire taps, illegal search and seizure, arbitrary access to your library book withdrawals, unhindered invasion of your internet access, being added to the no fly list, UNLESS YOU ARE AN EVIL DOER AND HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE!”

... remember from whom these bleating sheep got their mindless acceptance of tyranny from a leader chosen by God; from an ignorant Roman sycophant named Paul who insisted government leaders are empowered by God, and would never act against you if you’re innocent.

One can only wonder if Paul rethought his position just before Nero had his empty head cut off.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Faith Healers: The Ultimate Testament to Christian Delusion.

Do a Google search for “faith healers” and you’ll get to watch YouTube videos of the most despicable and bizarre acts of cruelty, deception, and gullibility on the face of the planet.

Diabetics, children with spin bifida, wheelchair bound paralytic elderly, people with practically every known malady come to these “revivals” desperate for a chance to have some self proclaimed agent of God heal them, where medical science could not. They come expecting that their faith in God, and faith in this man who claims to be the conduit for God’s healing power, will make them whole, will resurrect their dead organs, their disintegrated nerve cells, and their wasting muscle tissue.

Of course, time permits only a very few to be selected to receive a face to face laying on of hands by this agent of JESUS. And some will invariably collapse to the floor upon the electric touch of the healer, jump up, claim to be healed, and fade immediately into obscurity, never to be seen again, nor their medical histories made available for examination. How convenient.

So many others, the truly ill and incurable, are used as just so many pawns. When they are challenged before the thousands of eyes of the faithfully expectant, as to whether or not they felt the power of GAWD enter their bodies through the slap to their forehead, or a kick to their chest, their options are two fold: Say “YES, Thank You JAYSUS!!”, and be praised by the frenzied multitudes, be the focus of their hallelujahs, prayers, and waving of hands by their fellow sheep; or say “NO”, and be dismissed as lacking faith and given the bums rush from the stage to clear the way for the next act . There are genuine and immediate benefits to saying YES.

And yet, whenever those claiming to have been healed can be found by skeptics and debunkers, invariably there are two outcomes: either the perfectly healthy “healed” person can produce no medical records or genuine accredited physicians who will attest to their original illness; or the person is still in their wheelchair, still paralyzed, still succumbing to their disease, etc.

None of this is a new revelation. All of it has been documented by debunkers and the media for years. Faith healers are exposed regularly for their tricks and accomplices in the audience, for their less than holy life styles and illegal money making schemes. The Benny Hinns, the Todd Bentleys, the Peter Popovs, the Theodore Wolmarans, the W.V Grants, the list of the disgraced and exposed is legion.

And yet the faithful keep coming, they keep believing, they keep trusting and tithing. Every newly anointed healer, with their promise of having a divine gift brings the bleating flocks of the desperate ready willing and able to be duped and sheared of their money. Even those who were wheeled or climbed onto that stage and had their heads touched but who, sometimes after a brief improvement due to the placebo effect, are still succumbing to their illnesses, even they retain their belief that something good has or will eventually happen. There seems to be nothing that can shake them from their self deception and involuntary servitude to delusion.

While my reasoning side tells me to despise these sheep for their ignorance, gullibility, credulity, and blind denial of reality, more so even than the charlatans who prey upon them; my …what shall I call it … “humanity?” makes me just pity them. Not for the incurable illness of their bodies, but for the incurable illness of the mind that is the religious meme.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Loosing My “Faith” in America, a Country in Distress

With approximately sixty days before the national election, I have become less and less optimistic about the direction this country is going, and where it will end up. The reason? My realization that a large percentage of people in this country are utter morons.

There are some number of voters out there who claim they were once avid Hilary Clinton supporters, but because of the type of genitals the Republican VP nominee possesses, are now voting for McCain, abandoning any social or economic principles they ever had. Or maybe they are just using that as an excuse so they don’t have to vote for a black man. Who knows.

People who will enthusiastically support a Presidential candidate who 8 years ago decried the intolerance of the Evangelical right wing and it’s hold on his party, and now has abandoned that perspective, embraced them, and named an evangelical VP nominee in a move to placate them.

A VP candidate who believes the victims of rape and incest must be forced to bear children against their will. Who is a creationist, and would like to see her religious tenets taught alongside evolution in public schools.

A VP candidate who still believes preaching abstinence only to kids will counter adolescent sexual urges and protect them from unwanted pregnancies, in spite of the obvious fallacy that stares her in the face over the breakfast table.

A VP candidate who’s claim to foreign experience is having been a less than two year governor of the state “closest to Russia”, as the intellectually astute beer heiress and would be First Lady explains.

A VP who will be one heart beat away from the Presidency of a 72 yr old cancer survivor, but who has less experience in national or international affairs than 90% of the congressmen and senators in the legislature / 70% of sitting governors.

While the list of her questionable decisions and actions as governor and mayor continue to be unearthed and scrutinized by the media, the Right Wing attempts to ignore them while endlessly fawning over, and trying to legitimize and glorify, this cynical and purely political decision. Its transparency, its insincerity, its disingenuousness and its lack of benefit to the nation is obvious to anyone who still has a functioning brain stem.

But what frightens me more than anything is that the rank and file Republican mind sheep, the under educated, myopic thinking, one theme Christian devotees, consider her nomination some kind of brilliant revelation … a miraculous gift from God. Never mind that we may well find ourselves with this un vetted political novice, duplicitous hack, religious fanatic, and “moose hunting hockey mom” in the position of the world’s most powerful office sometime over the next four years. None of this matters to a vast number of Americans. What matters is she’s an Evangelical Christian fanatic, a woman, an ultra-conservative, and rabid anti-choice.

If this is the best the country can do; if this is what “energizes” the masses; if this is what we have come to as a country; then this country is in distress. I hold little hope for our future. I will mourn the final demise of our nation’s once proud status as western civilization’s bastion of benevolent measured power, intellectual and scientific advancement, and personal freedoms.

As if any semblance of that still exists after the past 8 years.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Christian Speak Translated Here

It’s just after three PM on Labor Day. I’m listening to a report about hurricane Gustav on NPR. The commentator is phone interviewing hurricane evacuees from Mississippi, areas of which are being hit harder than New Orleans.

One woman proudly explains in an upbeat voice steeped in a redneck southern accent:
“Well, looks like my house is under water. They say it crested at over 16 feet, and my house is at 16 feet. But I’m used to it. I lost a house to a hurricane five years ago, lost my second house to Katrina, now losing this one. But I’m not worried, God takes care of everything.”

To those who aren’t versed in Christian Speak this probably sounds confusing. One would not be mistaken to conclude that a number of things are very very wrong with that woman’s thinking. For instance, one might think:
“Hey, imbecile, maybe you should stop rebuilding your hovel in a flood zone.”; or
“God’s been trying to take care of everything alright, but you keep escaping anyway.”; or
“Has it occurred to you that if a God existed who gave a fiddlers phuck about you he’d stop screwing over you and your continuously flooded brethren in the first place?”

But to those of us who have studied Christian Speak here’s what “God takes care of everything” actually means.

It means that she has Federal Flood Insurance, for which she pays next to nothing because of her poverty / low income status. It’s funded entirely by tax payers who will bear the cost to rebuild her home and replace its furnishings with very little out of pocket expense to the home owner herself. So, what does she care if she gets a new home every three to five years as long as the government is stupid enough to keep throwing good money after bad?

You might say: “But that’s got nothing to do with God/gods or the supernatural?”, and you’d be correct of course. But to Christians who’s minds cannot make a distinction between supernatural intervention and the reality of taxation and misguided / mismanaged governmental programs, every handout, every avoidance of having to bear the brunt of financial disaster themselves, means GOD has worked his miracle. GOD has intervened. GOD takes care of everything.

The bureaucrats who will assess her loss, write the check, and hand her our tax dollars are simply agents of God, angels who will lift this woman from her homelessness to her newly built government supplied housing. And she won’t thank you or I for building her miserable little house. Her imaginary sky buddy will get the credit. Hallelujah Sister!!!

Christian Speak … a marvelous invention of the self deluded. Just slightly more annoying than talking in tongues.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is a “Gay Jesus” Offensive? Only to the Homophobic.

In an atheist blog where I am a frequent participant the owner posted an article about a college atheist group creating a poster of Jesus in a gay relationship. The picture is shown at right; full story here:

The atheist blogger was incensed and decried the atheist students’ insensitivity. His readers' comments, atheists all, were similarly indignant:

“It is meant simply to offend, it doesn’t open dialog!”
“It’s childish and does the ‘cause’ no good.”
“We’ll never win converts by offending them. It’s an ineffective tactic!”

How remarkably short sighted. How peculiarly unsophisticated is their perspective. How completely they miss the point. My take is completely different. The gay image of Jesus DOES provoke dialogue; IS an effective tactic; it’s perceived “offensiveness” has a purpose, and "conversion" isn't it.

Christians have promulgated anti-Semitism for almost 1,800 years. Yet they disregard, forget, or ignore the fact that Jesus was himself a Jew. His teachings were directed toward fellow Jews, not "gentiles", as a reform movement. Gentile conversions were an after thought, thanks to Paul. The demonization of Jews was subsequently embedded in their scripture and not attributable to Jesus. I would guess that Jesus would be disgusted by that.

Similarly, Christians habitually overlook Jesus' teaching of "Judge not, lest ye be judged". They condemn homosexuality and extend that condemnation to acts of exclusionism, incivility, even violence toward homosexuals. Jesus never said to do that. Indeed, if he will accept an adulteress logic says he would likely do the same for a homosexual, even though both adultery and homosexuality were punishable by death per the Hebrew Bible.
Jesus was alleged to be in his early thirties, referred to as "rabbi", traveled with 12 men, and was unmarried. In the Jewish tradition / Hebraic culture, an unmarried rabbi in his 30's is virtually unheard of. Additionally, there are some scriptural references that seem to hint at a very special relationship with one of his apostles. Many theologians and lay biblical scholars have speculated as to Jesus' possible homosexuality. There is no incontrovertible evidence pro or con.

But, if he ate, if he drank, if he urinated, and defecated; if he had emotions, then it’s entirely possible he had sexual feelings too. Thus, speculation as to his sexual proclivities is valid. If statistics mean anything, there was a 1 in 10 chance he was gay… assuming he existed at all. It may not suit the Christian sensibilities to think that way, but there it is … deal with it.

That Jesus might have been gay doesn't make him an evil person, doesn't discredit his teachings. Why should it matter? That it matters to Christians, or unthinking atheists -- that they see a gay portrayal of Jesus as an evil -- IS EXACTLY THE POINT! We live in the 21st century. We know sexual preference is genetically determined. A person should no more be condemned for being gay as for being bald, black, or short. It shouldn’t be perceived as evil, or reduce Jesus’ status, or subject him or anyone to abuse, anymore than Jesus’ being Jewish should justify anti-Semitic vitriol against him or anyone (as his "followers" have so enthusiastically done to Jews for two millennia.).

That gay Jesus poster instigates that discussion. It disturbs and shocks, and is a valid in your face attempt by a put upon minority to get Christians to think more broadly, more modernly, with more tolerance. They don't have to like it; it just has to stimulate thought. It does that, even among the unthinking.

The fact that some people, especially weak atheists, perceive the "Jesus as gay" portrayal as unjustifiable, leads me to wonder if they themselves are homophobic. Or is it that they are simply saying its okay for just Christians to be homophobes?

Why should it be so?