Thursday, January 31, 2008

Respect for Belief

I recently heard an atheist say he had more respect for Theist A’s religious belief, than he did for Theist B’s belief. While they were both forms of Christianity, one of them evidently was worthy of higher respect than the other.

What exactly entitles theist's "beliefs" to any degree of respect?
-Is it based on which flavor of unsupportable culturally induced sky daddy they worship; what supernatural or inventive "illogic" they use to support that belief; what dogma they pick and choose from the menu of belief; how deeply they believe it; how effectively they induct their young into their delusional belief?

-Is it whether or not they are a threat to Free Thinkers, or our freedoms, or the education of the young, or the advancement of science, or civilization as a whole?

-Should we respect a belief just because it is benign, less/non- confrontational, doesn’t require witch burning (any more), hatred of Jews (as much), or killing of apostates?

- Is their belief due the same, less, or more respect as people who believe in unicorns and faeries; the “miracle” of images of holy figures on their sandwiches; that the Earth is flat; that aliens built the pyramids; or who believe the world is 6,000 years old and that men rode dinosaurs?

I once had some New Age guy tell me he respected all beliefs. When pushed, and backed against a wall, he even agreed he'd respect a resurgence of Aztec belief including human sacrifice. Why? Because "belief is due respect”. Why?? "because it’s a belief”. Ridiculous.

Frankly, I have zero respect for any blind belief, whether it's a hybrid kinder gentler version, or the basic model. Belief in anything with no evidence is self delusion and unworthy of my respect. I’d have the same lack of respect for an atheist’s belief if he “believed” he was abducted by aliens.

Now, don’t confuse the lack of respect for “belief” as a justification for being disrespectful to “the believer”. There are a lot of believers of whom I am respectful in spite of their unfortunate enslavement to fable. They have other redeeming qualities. And, I would stand up for their right to believe whatever absurdity they so desire, just so long as it is legal, doesn’t impinge on my rights, or threaten society.

It’s the 21st century, the scientific age, an age that should be devoted to reason and logic. So, what logic should I be using to have "respect" for belief that is steeped in superstition, ignorance, medieval thinking, and the rejection of reality? Sorry, can’t think of any.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"So, Got Jesus?": The Selling of a Deity

I've never understood this strange need Evangelicals, JWs, Mormons, and hardcore Christians have to advertise and promote Christianity. T-shirts, "chick tracts", bumper stickers, roadside signs, catchy phrases, Church advertisements, the list is endless, and laughble. But for sheer annoyance, nothing beats the one on one idiocy of the door to door Jesus PR man. "Have you heard the Good News...?" (Yeah, the good news is my Pitbull hates your polyester suit and your white socks!!!)

They are selling a product. They may as well be pushing lint brushes, promoting a soft drink, or selling cake frosting. Difference is, the cake frosting doesn’t dull your mind, nor does its label threaten you with eternal punishment by the great Betty Crocker in The Sky for buying Pilsbury’s, or for preferring your cake unfrosted

Sure, Fundys interpret the charge of Jesus to go forth and preach the good news as their duty. They wanna do his PR work, but they don’t want to do it on the client’s, Jesus’, terms. If they really want to play disciple /apostle / recruiter and ensure a heavenly reward for their efforts they should sell all their belongings, give the money to the poor, leave their family, then follow Jesus and shoot their mouths off to anyone wishing to tolerate it. After all, isn't that what the Bible said he said (Math. 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22)? Oh, no … that’ll never do!! Poverty may have been okay for Jesus and his crew, but the guy at the gate of the NASCAR track isn’t gonna let ole Holy Roller Jethro in for free.
So, here’s my advise to evangelical Fundys, et al : If you're not willing to "go all in", walk the walk, and do it like Jesus told ya, then practice your faith without shoving it at people, pray in private and not in public like a hypocrite (Jesus said that too), and leave everyone the hell alone. If you won’t follow that advise, then at least stay out of my way, or failing that, wear a protective cup.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why Words are The Enemy of Christians

Have you ever noticed that when ever a word in the Bible causes a problem for theists that they take up a full page or more to try and explain away, reinvent new meaning, or otherwise distort that simple word in order to bend it to suit their needs? There must be literally millions of pages of apologetics written by Xtians trying to squirm their way out of the embarrassing and contradictory statements with which the Bible saddles them. In this case, a problem related to the human form and all of its ugly functions.

I once asked a Xtian: "Since Man was made in God's 'image" (Genesis), does this mean God has a penis? And if so, what does he use it for, and on whom?" Not very original, I'll admit, but always fun to watch.

But he surprises me and comes back with this: "Image doesn't mean physical attributes, it means the 'character' of god." He attaches a link to a few thousand word apologetics article that disassociates the word image from appearance. It's clear this Divine Penis problem has been plaguing believers for some time, as they've devoted an awful lot of inventive thought to it.

But, this creative redefinition of common words as a way to escape a problem has its own pitfalls. I.e. In Exodus, when God said "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven IMAGES..." it was clear it meant nothing other than what "images" means: physical likenesses, statues, idols, engravings, etchings, paintings, etc. God could not have meant the "character of graven images" ... images meant images. But you can find apologetics pages that will twist and turn and try escape clauses for that critical (and completely ignored) commandment as well.

It seems that god of theirs just can't quite get his message across clearly enough for people to understand without a lot of helpful redefinition, assumptions, obfuscation, denial and just plain bullshit from his faithful servants. Is this because their god is an inarticulate goofball, or because those ancients who invented god didn't expect people would actually question and analyze their foolish stories? As a Thinking person, I'll opt for the latter.

But, even if the intent of "image" in the Genesis story was "character", while "image" in the Exodus story was "physical attribute", then the problem becomes even more sticky for Christians, even more twisted ... now follow me:
  • If Adam and Eve were created in God's character, and since their character shows them to be disobedient miscreants who sinned, it thus stands to reason that...

  • their creator is also a miscreant sinner or have the capacity to sin.

  • If Adam & Eve had the "character" to do both good and evil, then by definition their creator must have the character to also be good and evil (sin) since they share common characteristics.

So much for the "perfect" God concept; unless by "perfect" they mean God is both perfectly evil AND perfectly good. He certainly can't be perfectly good alone, for how does a perfectly good being create beings in His Character that sin?

Oh what a tangled web they weave when first they practice the apologetics of myth and self deception.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

MLK, Jr. and an Opportunity Lost: A Reflection

Monday, January 21st is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Established to commemorate the preeminent leader of the Civil Rights movement, his name has become synonymous with the principle of non-violent protest and the struggle for equal rights for everyone. He will for all time be honored as a martyr for that great cause, and fittingly so.

His efforts were at the forefront of a movement, committed to free people from the oppression of discrimination. Free them from the injustice of segregation. Free them to exercise the same rights that the Founding Fathers reserved only for the white majority. It represented a major step in the transition from 3rd class to 1st class citizenship.

But, what he failed to do, which he was in a position to do, was to spearhead the final step of freedom for his people … emancipation from the bondage of the White Man’s religious myth.

91% of African Americans compared to 88% of White Americans describe themselves as religious.* While not a dramatic discrepancy, one can’t ignore the well established fact that there is a high correlation between religiosity and lower income. 25% of Blacks in the US live below the poverty level, twice the rate of Whites.**

Victim’s of their slave ancestors acceptance of the White culture’s prevailing Christianity, African Americans have for 150 years been a favored target of televangelist fakes, tent preacher charlatans, faith healers, even cult leaders (Jim Jones’ suicide denomination was predominantly Black).

If as James Madison said "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect." then the very last thing an undereducated, poverty ridden, newly “freed” people need are the shackles of religious mind slavery, much less the drain on their finances or distraction from secular self interest that invariably comes along with it. Prayers to Jesus to win the lottery, or deliver a financial windfall ("God will provide!"), or to rely on the promise of “Pie in the Sky By and By When You Die” as a reward for their poverty in this life, is at best repressive, at worst self imposed slavery. It works in direct opposition to self reliance, ambition, and personal responsibility, all qualities necessary to rise above and be freed from poverty.

Unfortunately, Dr. King himself was religiously enslaved, and could never have seen or accepted the fact that it represented one of the last great barriers to Black progress. So much the loss.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Religion's War on Science Marches On

“Catholicism and Catholic Universities have always been the center of scientific advancement.”. This inane denial of history almost sent me into spasms. Needless to say, it was uttered by a Catholic who’s brain had been steam cleaned by too many Catholic web pages. One need only think of Galileo’s trial and the threat of imprisonment for heresy; the suppression of Copernicus’ writings; and the live incineration of Giordano Bruno all at the hands of the learned Catholic church to put that nonsense to rest. In fact, even Gregor Mendel’s papers that were left in the monastery after his death were burned by the succeeding abbot (personal stupidity or Church directive ? One can only speculate). While Catholic apologists (read: revisionists) insist it’s all blown out of proportion, the written records of the Church say otherwise.

If Catholic / Christian opposition to scientific discovery had ceased in the 17th century I’d be finished here. But it hasn’t. It continues to this day.

The latest war against science by the spiritually impaired is over animal cloning. Right now cloning is only viable for breeding stock. If and when it can be reliably and economically implemented, this technology could dramatically increase animal product productivity, ease world hunger, and improve the lot of millions. Unfortunately. the cloning of specific animals that are high yield egg, wool, meat, or milk producers, etc., somehow displeases God and/or It’s disciples.

Statistics indicate that 79% of Protestants, and 61% of Catholics oppose animal cloning.
Of non-believers only 40% oppose it. It’s no coincidence, and no surprise either, that the higher the education, and the higher the income level of the poll respondents, the more likely they are to approve of animal cloning. Here’s the full article and data:

Some theists like to credit God, and not scientists or doctors, for discoveries that have enhanced or extended our lives. Interestingly, more often than not God gets credit for those things many years after the fact, after theists had opposed the innovation to begin with.( i.e.: “If man had been intended to fly, God would have given him wings!”). But, if God is the inspiration for those things theists ultimately come to accept as good… why does God not get blamed for discoveries and technological developments theists deem as bad? If all creative innovation is God’s will, why oppose it? Who is to say what "God Hath Wrought" is bad? Or perhaps scientists developing cloning are being given the formula by “Satan”!?!? The brains of believers work in strange and mysterious ways.

So, religiosity continues its opposition to Man’s advancement, and once again stands in the way of the improvement of the human condition. One can only imagine what scriptural chapter and verse Christians will pervert to justify their objections to cloning on religious grounds. As far as I know one has yet to be offered. How about:

“Let no one be found among you…who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…"
(Deuteronomy 18: 10-12); or better yet

"The poor you will always have with you" (Matthew 26:11)


Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting the Nose Under the Tent


There's an old Islamic proverb about the camel getting his nose under the tent, as a prelude to an invasion of your tent by said camel, the end result being akin to having the proverbial Bull running rampant in the proverbial China Shop. Whether you're an atheist, agnostic, monotheist, polytheist, or (I really hate this expression ...) just "spiritual", your reading this is tantamount to having that camel's nose entering your tent of thought. I'll try not to do more damage than necessary.

My purpose here is to prompt genuine thinking, encourage questioning, provoke discussion, challenge "beliefs", arouse ire, piss people off, educate, be educated, and frankly use this forum as a rant vehicle.

I am an atheist/naturalist. I accept that the natural world, the universe, is all there is. I reject the concept of God/gods as pure myth and fable. Period.

I am not a scientist, I only play one in chat rooms and message boards. I admire the contributions that science has made to Mankind. I respect the scientific method. I have no "faith" in anything in the religious sense of the word. Indeed, I reject the concept of "faith" as a theological construct. That I fully expect the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, isn't a matter of my having "faith", it's a matter of my basic understanding of cosmology. Thus, inlieu of mindless "faith" I possess a high level of "confidence", "expectation", and "probability" borne of said knowledge and real experience, that the sun will rise in the east ...yet again ... tomorrow.

To those theists who erroneously, a result of excessive brain rinsing by Xtian [Christian] websites, believe atheism to be a religion ... please, don't even go there. Read the definition of atheist at and come back when you're able to process that atheism is as much a religion as baldness is a hair color, or as not collecting stamps is a hobby.

As far as my name: Dromedarys have one hump, it's those Bactrian camels that have two humps.

Those are the basics. I plan to update this blog at least weekly, perhaps more often, until I rant myself out. Feel free to rant back. Thanks for letting me into your tent.