Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Christians Lie

NOTE: The following is something I posted in a message group last year. I am posting it here now because of a recent message group incident, where a theist has been posing as an atheist, while disseminating recriminations and absurd distortions of atheism, science, and the theory of evolution. Lest we forget:

Whether its claiming prayer cured them from AIDS, or spontaneously healed their severed spinal column; or swearing they have seen /spoken to Jebus, or angels, or Satan (pick one or more); or avoid providing support for thoughtless and unsubstantiated statements offered as fact; or distorting scientific proofs by inventing inaccurate characterizations (i.e. "Evolution says men came from monkeys"; "many scientists believe in ID"), it appears theists just have a problem with honesty.

While some of it may be attributed to hyper-religiosity (an accepted clinical term associated with schizophrenia), or just plain ignorance, there seems to be a propensity toward intentional deception. My studied opinion is that when a theistic assertion cannot be supported by evidence; or when they are faced with irrefutable proof of scientific theory, or the logic of a rational mind they have nothing left except distortion with which to defend their position / belief. They lie out of desperation to protect their faith. It’s virtually a reflex.

More than one eminent theist has endorsed lying to promulgate the faith:

"How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived." Bishop Eusebius, 4th century Christian scholar

"Do you see the advantage of deceit?

... For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind ...

And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived." John Chrysostom, 5th century theologian, Treatise On The Priesthood, Book 1

"We should always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides." Ignatius Loyola, 16th century founder of the Jesuits

and finally this doozie...

"What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them." Martin Luther, 16th century theologian, monk, Christian reformer, rabid anti-Semite

Add to this the forgeries of documents and re-writing of history by Christians and lying is clearly not only very Christian, it’s a veritable sacrament.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Letter to a Unitarian Minister: Where I Stand

Some weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor of a local “Shopper's News” circular. It was in response to a rambling Christian fanatic’s assertion that the US is a “Christian Nation”. I provided facts and historical documentation that refuted the theist's idiocy. Surprisingly, they printed it in their next issue.
[ see "Christian Nation" ]

Today I received a letter from a total stranger, a Unitarian Minister thanking me for what I wrote, and endorsing my position. The following is my letter in reply to the Reverend. I offer it here not only as an insight as to what drives my activism, but also as a possible template for others who might want to use some of my perspectives in their own public writings.

Dear Reverend W------;, March 26, 2008

Thank you for your kind words in support of my letter to the Monadnock Shopper News. Frankly, I had anticipated a firestorm of responses from Christians, all based on emotional appeal, and denial or lack of knowledge of our country’s history. That I did not is probably attributable to NH’s demographics. Had I published it in the “Little Rock, Ark. Shopper News” I’d likely have to dictate this letter through wired jaws.

I was a Psychology major / Religion minor in college, and an atheist in a foxhole in Vietnam (‘68- ’69). In 2004 I retired early, after thirty two years, from a senior position with a major national retail company, my wife and I moving from New York to our home here in New Hampshire. I’m an atheist whose philosophy is perhaps bested summarized as Secular Humanist.

Having been on the receiving end of Christian intolerance in the army; after witnessing the transformation of my Republican Party into the “Party of Jesus”; seeing the efforts of medieval fundamentalists to insert Creationist / Intelligent Design hocus pocus into public school curriculum; and watching the Christian war on science right into the 20th/21st centuries, et al., I have gradually become something of an activist anti-theist.

The last straw, or perhaps the ultimate awakening, was the realization that there are misguided utopian millennialists who’s perspective of the world, and how it “should be”, is founded in self-righteous, archaic, and dangerous Christian dogma. For the past seven years this mindset has resulted in alienating us from the rest of the world. It positioned the US as a country to be feared and hated, not respected. It has embroiled us in a senseless conflict that has wasted American lives, eroded the potential for stability in the Middle East, all the while diverting attention and resources from this nation’s real priorities … improving the lives of our citizens and those of the generations to follow.

Thus, while I recognize the importance of fighting the threat of theist extremists who wish to harm us from without, I am also very aware of our home grown theist extremists whose religious zeal threatens our liberties and freedoms from within. Therefore when I read or hear of attempts to distort and undermine the gifts with which our Founding Fathers endowed us, either through ignorance, attempts at revisionist history, or outright religious fanaticism, I cannot, I will not remain silent.

I am a contributing member of a number of national organizations which have been formed to protect our rights and maintain Jefferson’s “wall of separation” between church and state. I have enclosed a list of them that I would urge you, your freedom loving friends, and congregation to consider supporting, irrespective of their philosophies, personal “beliefs” or lack thereof.

Again, my thanks for your nice letter.

Yours truly,

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Having been born of the virgin Anahita, in a cave, on December 25; with twelve disciples, the god Mithras travelled far and wide as a teacher and illuminator of men. At about age 30 he began his ministry, offering salvation based on faith, compassion, knowledge and valor.

Suffering a violent death, Mithras arose from his tomb an event celebrated annually at the Spring Equinox. After the earthly mission of this god had been accomplished, he took part in a Last Supper with his companions before ascending to heaven, to forever protect the faithful from above.

The similarities to Christianity go on in much more detail: baptism, that he atoned for all man’s sins … etc. Coincidence? Did the followers of Mithras co-opt their god fable from Jesus and the Christian tradition? Not likely, since the cult of Mithras preceded Christianity by over 600 years.

How do Christians deal with this? Well, one of two ways. They either deny such a god figure existed, out of ignorance or avoidance, or, like the famous 2nd century Christian apologist Justin Martyr (1 Apologia, 66, 4), they denounce the devil for having sent a God so similar to Jesus – yet preceding him.

As Christians celebrate their Easter, they are in fact celebrating the Resurrection Festival of Mithras. His will be done.

Some of many source materials:

Friday, March 21, 2008

When Logic and Belief Collide: The Christian Dilemma

In a friendly liberal Christian blog site a rather long letter from a Christian working with war refugee children in Sudan was posted. Clearly the writer is a dedicated and committed person, and is doing good works which of course she attributes to God’s calling. Among the readership of that blog are many platitude murmuring Christians. The kind who leave comments like this:

“Until the world acknowledges Sudan and gets on it knees and cries for God's mercy on this region, it will not substantially change at the hands of governments.”

I am a tolerated atheist guest there and it’s not a debate blog, so I'm not about to reply and play mean old logical atheist spoiler (something which at least one Fundie has already accused me in the past). So, out of respect for the owner I opted to withhold comment. Instead I sent the Fundie’s platitudinous comment along with four questions to a Christian friend. Here they are:

1) If god were omniscient, omnipotent, Omni benevolent, obviously he would be aware (omniscient) of the conditions in Sudan; obviously he would have the power to do something about it (omnipotent) ; and obviously he wouldn't need to be begged for "mercy" to respond, he would do the right thing independently (Omni benevolent). So, why is prayer needed, and why doesn’t he do the right thing now without prompting?

2) Since this Fundie infers that prayer volume is necessary to resolving Sudan’s problems, it presupposes that god reacts to, and prioritizes his responses, based on numbers and or intensity of prayer. So, if one person's prayers aren't sufficient to provoke god’s action, how many does it take? 72 people? 123,000 people? 3 million people? All 6.7 billion people?

3) Christians always tout that “God gives man free will", and thus does not intervene and influence man's thinking by manipulating his brain. If this is basic doctrine then the prayers for “God’s mercy” must be asking for god's direct, divine and miraculous intervention in Sudan. So why is the Fundie expecting god to effect a substantial change through governmental (Man's) action, unless he doesn't believe in "free will” or he’s asking God to violate his doctrine?

4) Finally, when was the last time civil strife and war was directly stayed by god's direct intervention and not by the intervention of a stronger saving military force ... or threat of same? Remembering that with "free will" God doesn't instigate men’s minds to form saving forces. As far as a force of arms, God would be limited to an army of his personal heavenly host.

Unfortunately my Christian friend demurred and opted out. Instead offering that any answer she could supply would never satisfy my purely logical thinking process. She also inferred I was intent on ridiculing her beliefs (irrefutable reasoning does have a way of sounding condescending to theists, I suppose). But I surmise that what was really happening was that inescapable dilemma theists have always wrestled with for years: the brain whispers reason…logic!” but the religion meme shouts “STOP THAT!!”.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Trinity as Proof of God

I’ve heard the argument made by Christians that the concept of the Trinity is so unique to Man’s experience, so outside the realm of human comprehension and understanding, that it stands as proof of God. Then reason rears its head and spoils everything.

The concept of trinity didn't originate with Christianity. It was a Hindu concept long before Christianity (the three personages of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva in ONE God, as shown at right). The Egyptians and ancient Greeks also had a trinity concept. The theme of trinity, albeit non deity related, was a Platonic theme as well. The early Christians were aware of this. Combine that with the fact that Christian scripture (the “Word of God”, don’t forget) is devoid of the term Trinity, and that "three personages in one God" was ratified and adopted by the church at the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. ... by VOTE, and how anyone could perceive Trinity as anything else but a man made invention co-opted by the early Christians is beyond me.

There were all kinds of doctrinal decisions & edicts made from the 4th through 8th centuries in an effort to define the supernatural/natural qualities of Jesus, and establish a single dogma from many prevailing views. Trinity was just one of them. Is it anymore a mystery as to how Trinity was created than how a god with two faces, or one with four arms, or one that sprang from the head of another was conceived? Are any beyond the realm of human comprehension / imagination? Isn’t each one of those gods outside our "experience"?

As for it being outside our understanding, it’s on a par with any unusual fictional concept. Do any of us understand the forces, biology, natural laws or mechanisms that allow Superman to fly, or have x-ray vision, or superhuman strength? Do we require an understanding of how Prometheus’ liver regenerated each day so it could be torn out and eaten the next? Do we even bother to give it a second thought? Is it worthy of consideration? Is it proof of supernatural? Not if you still have possession of your ability to think rationally.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Atheist Asshats. Who’d of Thunk It?

During informal discussion in an atheist group the conversation turned to the indoctrination of children by their religiously impaired parents, some labeling it child abuse. A tad extreme for my taste, but I understand the basis for that thinking. It progressed from that to discussion of bad/neglectful/abusive parenting in general.

At that point it took a turn that surprised the hell out of me. One of our members actually called for the governmental licensing of prospective parents. Evidently the state would administer a test and if the prospective parents passed then they would be afforded permission to procreate. Procreation without said license would be a criminal act.

The primary proponent, who found at least two other similarly minded supporters, opined that since the government requires a permit prior to building an extra bedroom, or a license prior to purchasing a gun , why not ensure prospective parents are adequately knowledgeable in child rearing. He went so far as to suggest fine, imprisonment, and child confiscation if parents didn’t submit to testing and licensing…even stating that those who prostested and would circumvent such a law would, by definition, be unfit parents and should have their children forcefully confiscated by the state..

This person is approximately twenty years old (my guestimate), I know he doesn’t have children and isn’t married, and for all I know has been raised in a cave and fed road kill during his formative years. More likely he is upper middleclass, well fed, and living with his unlicensed parents. But his adamant stance that the government, in order to protect the relative few, would impose on all their role as supreme and sole arbiter of who can and can’t reproduce frankly scared the shit out of me.

I had always given atheists more credit than that. I had always assumed (yeah, I know…spare me the ASS/U/ME diagram) that any thinking person even vaguely familiar with 1984, “Big Brother”, Brave New World, all of the gross excesses of Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Utopian societies that Huxley and Orwell warned us of , would shun the concept of sacrificing basic human rights and biological imperatives and willingly turn their control over to a central authority. I had always given credit to Free Thinkers as being the keepers of the flame of Ben Franklin’s admonishment that (and I paraphrase here) "Those who would sacrifice a little liberty to gain safety deserve neither.”

I was wrong on both counts. Atheism and intellect is no guarantee, no assurance, that they are all defenders of freedom and human rights, anymore than every theist can be tagged as a theocratic suborning intolerant fascist. Live and learn.

Personally, given the choice, I'd prefer to live in a "Christian Nation" ruled by mindless, medieval, science hating Christian Fundies, to one where Utopian Authoritarians assume the role of regulators of reproduction and become the arbiters of the nuclear family.

Hopefully I'll be long dead before either of those two scenarios present.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The "Supernatural" Needs No Explanation

Many times atheists will get themselves all in a tizzy trying to explain how supernatural can’t exist, because when the physical law for a supernatural event is discovered it becomes “natural” law. But I contend that they are over thinking this.

Yes, its true, theists have for ever attributed natural events for which they had no explanation to God, Satan, Miracles, the realm of the supernatural. Lightning strikes, two headed calves, eclipses, Black Plague, famine, drought, locust, floods, foreign invaders, Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, epileptic seizures, you name it, at some point in pre-scientific man’s history, and not very long ago, it was an indicator and omen of some god’s wrath, mercy, or the workings of an evil being.

That we now know what causes these things dispels attributing them to the supernatural pretty much for everyone in the modern world. The more knowledge man attains, the fewer the default explanation of “God / the supernatural did it” thus, the smaller the “God of the gaps” explanation has become. God has gotten much smaller over the past 300 years thanks to the scientific age and discovery.

But I have never seen, nor has any theist ever shown me a supernatural event. Therefore, the cause, the natural law necessary to explain the event, never comes into play, because there is no event / no effect, to observe and explain. Thus to attribute a non-event to some natural law is trying to find an answer to a question never asked.

As I see it there are four levels of "supernatural" non-events for which no "natural law" causation explanation is needed:

Physical Manifestations: The appearance of Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, or Jesus as stain on a men’s room floor, is as close to physical supernatural evidence as theists seem to get. The fact that the later is comprised of urine and shoe tracks (and looks as much like Willy Nelson as it does Jesus to an impartial party) pretty much negates any serious compulsion to invoke "natural law" to explain it.

Wishful Thinking : A devout Xtian once told me he attributed hearing a hospital nurse singing his terminally ill relative's favorite hymn to proof of God's presence. No natural law need be presented to explain it. The fact it was a Catholic hospital repleat with singing nuns, and the need for a "sign" by a highly receptive and distraught subject speaks for itself. But trying to get that across to the religiously impaired and willfully credulous is hardly worth the effort.

Hear Say: Jesus’ resurrection, Moses parting the Red Sea, frog plague ... some people, non-theists no less, try to come up with natural cause explanations for these fables. But, these stories are as much evidence of actual events or proof of supernatural as Star War’s Bobba Fett is proof of inter-stellar bounty hunters, or “ET” is proof of alien visitations. How much time really need be devoted to exploring the possibility that "ET" might possibly have been a mutant possum?

Non-Miracles: The fiery plane crash that kills everyone on board except the infant who’s thrown clear ... “IT’S A MIRACLE!!”. And Aunt Sadie’s cancer going into remission … “MIRACULOUS!!!" Well, would it have been a “miracle” if everyone in that horrible crash survived except the infant child? Hmmmm? And wouldn’t it have been more “miraculous” had Aunt Sadie NOT undergone surgery, chemo and radiation therapy and instead depended ONLY on the miraculous healing power of God through prayer? No natural law explanation needed, since nothing supernatural has been demonstrated to require it.

So, where are these supernatural events which defy natural law and necessitate evaluation with the scientific method? When Aunt Sadie’s rotting corpse drops by for tea with Jesus in tow , call me. I’ll be right over with a qualified scientist

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cabin Fever and Camel Fervor: It Ain’t Pretty People!

I’m taking a brief respite from religion topics to regale you with something totally different. Do not fear, this departure from my usual atheistic and anti-theistic diatribe is temporary,. Here’s the situation….

New Hampshire thus far has had 112 inches of snow. The record is 122 inches that fell during the winter of 1873-74. The result is “cabin fever”, a condition brought about by isolation, too much TV and too little else to do besides listening to NPR, tending the fire, reading, and from time to time pretending I’m the Alpha dog … which prompts fits of laughter from my dogs since they don’t take me very seriously.

Things have gotten so bad I find myself looking forward to the twice weekly trip to the town dump (making deposits, not pick ups). To make matters worse, Mrs. Hump has laid down the law: no more walking around the house with an axe, wild eyed, hair all askew, yelling “Heeeere’s Humpy!!” ala Jack Nicholson in The Shining. She claims it’s upsetting to the dogs. [Note to self: find out who’s been scrawling “REDRUM” in lipstick on the bathroom mirror.].

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of time to mull over stuff that’s really gotten my hump in an uproar. Not the big stuff, like Creationists, war mongering Evangelicals, the Clintons, or the price of gasoline …. I’ve come to terms with those things. No, I’m talking about those little annoyances whose repetitive and cumulative obnoxiousness just irks the shit out of me. I made a list but it’s a long one so I’ll just share a few:


1) Chipotle Sauce. Why have I never heard of chipotle sauce before 2007? Why is it now featured in every fast food outlet and “family restaurant” advertisement? Tacos, meat loaf, hero sandwiches, fish, chicken, salads …everything is slathered with chipotle sauce. WHY? Can this be a side product of 12 million illegal’s inflicting their third world tastes upon unsuspecting American palates?

I have never tasted chipotle sauce and vow I never will. I have lived a long time without it and figure I can make it a few more years in chipotle sauce deprivation with little or no ill effect. But, if I ever find the person responsible for the chipotle sauce hysteria I will inflict severe bodily harm on him.

2) Duplicate Mexican Food. Or what Americans think is Mexican food. Now I have nothing against our Hispanic I mean “Latino” brothers, as long as they are here legally, or are in their own country. But I get damn fed up with these fake foods that keep popping up. Taco and burrito, fine. But, Chimmichonga ?? Quesadilla?? Chalupa?? Gordita?? WTF!!!???
Who are they kidding!? Six names for the same rice, beans, and mystery meat, slathered with that fricken chipotle sauce and packed into a flour wrap or bent cracker. Thanks amigo, but, this Gringo will just say “no way Jose” to this undocumented marketing attempt.

3) Zoom, Zoom. A kid with no whites in his eyes, wearing a dark suit, stares into a camera and creepily whispers “Zoom, Zoom”. An unseen Caribbean accented guy excitedly chants “Zoom, Zoom” to a reggae beat. For the past ten years these Mazda commercials have caused me emotional distress. What does this kid, who looks like a reject from “Children of the Corn”, or this Rastafarian guy who’s likely high on ganja, have to do with a Japanese car? Just as troubling is the very word “zoom”. Its application to Ferrari, or Lamborghini would make perfect sense. Its use as a tag line for some unremarkable mid-priced Jap import is grounds for fraud and should be punishable by forced hara-kiri.

4) Furniture Store Commercials. These may be regional. Here in the North East we have “Bob’s”, “Bernie and Phyl”, and some other company owned by two aging, balding, hippy brothers wearing 1970’s style pony tails. Appealing to the lower economic scale of the consumer pool, they all insist on doing their own commercials, lending their insipid personal touch to shill their chipboard, pine, and plywood bedroom sets, and tacky recliners replete with cup holders, a hidden microwave and a built in urinal.

“Bob” calls every thing he sells by his name like “ Bob O’ Pedic” bedding; “Bob-A- Licious” dinette set, “Bob-O- Sational” faux leather sectional. Bob has a smile that measures 4” x 6 “ that he flashes continually through his clinched teeth and scraggly grey goatee. Bob says things like “the competition is BUSTED!!!”, “and “THAT’s the way it is!”, and “It’s Untouchable!!”, and the ever creative “C’mon Down!!”. Bob lives in mortal fear of his homosexuality being exposed, so he employs a terminally perky, highly annoying, blond woman as a pseudo-wife. She enthusiastically repeats his every word and makes crazy hand gestures. She should be burned alive. Bob deserves a nice crucifixion.

“Bernie and Phyl” are just pathetic. They are a septuagenarian husband and wife team. Poor Phyl evidently has some kind of palsy that makes her head shake uncontrollably like a dash board bobble head doll on a bumpy road. But never mind, Bernie drags her out in front of the camera anyway like Jerry Lewis used to drag out a kid in leg braces during the Muscular Dystrophy telethon. Bernie doesn’t appear to have actual lips.

Their vacuous theme song pervades their commercials. Their two glassy eyed, doughy, thirty-something, community college educated sons, being otherwise unemployable, have latched onto the family business. They stare blankly into the camera looking like perfect clones of their parents. They mumble through their lipless mouths in their heavy Boston accents something about their great deals, as I the viewer wonder why Bernie and Phyl never practiced safe sex.

Well, I feel better now. I could go on, but I have an appointment. The dump opens in an hour and I have to tunnel my way to the car.