Thursday, June 26, 2008

Playing the Fundies to Your Advantage

In early May I placed an order for a specialty accessory for one of my guns from a firm in the Midwest. While searching their website I found one of those insipid “Jesus is Our Lord and Savior” testimonials on one of their pages. It screamed “Fundie!!”

Now normally, I wouldn’t deal with religious nuts that don’t have the intellect, or good sense, to separate their business reality from their religious fantasy, but they are the only source for their patented product. I shrug, dial the phone and place my order.

Anna, the lady taking my order, was knowledgeable and friendly. She warned me each part was made to order and could take up to four weeks, since it’s a small family business. They will, however, be charging my credit card immediately. Okay.

Five weeks later, nothing. So I call and ask for “Anna”. She apologizes and says it’ll be another week. Ten days pass, still no delivery. I call again this morning, but this time with a plan. Here’s the convo verbatim to the best of my memory:

Me: “Hi Anna, this is Hump from New Hampshire.”
Anna: “Oh, yes, hello.”
Me: “I was wondering how my part was coming.”
Anna: “Oh, yes … let me check on that.”
[on hold for a full minute]
Anna: “Sorry Hump, Tim hasn’t gotten to it, but it should be within a week or so.”
Me: {pissed off but hiding it under my sanctimonious love of Jesus} “That’s ok Anna, Jesus has blessed me with patience. God Bless you and Tim. If there’s anything you can do to help speed the …”
Anna: “Hump, can you hold on for one second please?
[on hold for 20 seconds]
Anna: “Tim says he’ll will have this done and in the mail to you this afternoon.”
Me: “God Bless you, Anna. Thanks so much.”
Anna: “And may the Good Lord bless and keep you as well, Hump. Bye.”

Now, I suppose it could have been just my good luck that Tim miraculously found the time to produce my part that day, after having put me off just seconds before. But I think not. It’s obvious my devotion to Jesus moved them.

I suppose a theist would say I was being deceptive by intentionally misrepresenting myself as a Christian in order to gain favor. My perspective, however, is entirely different. Much like the ancient pagan priests used their knowledge of celestial movement / eclipses to subdue their weak minded people, I simply used my knowledge of fanatical Christians’ own weaknesses to my benefit. Why should a business give preference to a customer because they think they share a superstition in common? And if they do, aren’t they themselves being “un-Christian” in their business practice?

Besides … they are already operating under a delusion. One more induced by a far away disembodied camel won’t harm them one bit.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Is Atheist “Dismissal” of Theists Wrong? Convo with a Christian.

I had a nice exchange with a “half way realist” Christian recently. I say “half way”, because he has accommodated science with his superstition, as many liberal Christians have been doing. He accepts Evolution, and I sense he questions the efficacy of modern day belief in miracles, and the mystical aspects of theism, but just can’t quite make the final step into reality yet.

In the course of our exchange he decried the tendency of atheists to:
1. get angry at Christians, and
2. dismiss Christians / believers out of hand.

What follows is my response to him:

I only get angry when Fundies try to dumb down our schools with Creationism / ID; or when their moral dictates from their supreme being impinge on the freedoms of Americans; or when they distort genuine science / invent pseudo-science in an attempt to justify myth; or when government picks my pocket to suborn religious organizations. Otherwise, I just make fun of them as a hobby ... no anger.
As for being "dismissive" of others life's experiences / choices, that then give rise to their "beliefs" or lack thereof, allow me to elaborate.
I am dismissive of people who invest their lives in conspiracy theories that are unsubstantiated;
people who believe Area 51 houses alien corpses or those who think the US government contrived 9/11 for some nefarious purpose. I am dismissive of people who to this day believe we never landed on the Moon, that the pyramids were built by aliens, that witches are real, that sorcery exists, or that the Earth is only six thousand years old.

I imagine that you dismiss many if not most of these things as well ... in spite of whatever experience, instinct, rumor, or enthusiasm may drive these people's beliefs. You may reject these examples as being dissimilar to YOUR religious belief and thus think yours is less deserved of dismissal. But, to one who sees all fable, myth, flights of fancy, and inventions of the mind the same way there is not one iota of difference to me.

Do they have the right to these absurd thoughts and beliefs? Absolutely.
Do these beliefs deserve my respect? Nope. They warrant only ridicule, or disgust, or at best, dismissal.

Your religious belief is no less deserved of my dismissal than any other unsupportable, un-provable, un-testable, un-substantiated belief / belief system grounded in fantasy. I owe it no more respect, and it deserves no less dismissal, than would a modern day practitioner of Aztec sacrifice to the Sun God, or someone who believes that Athena sprang from the head of Zeus.

That you, and many other Christians have been able to accept science and logic and incorporate it into your belief system, creating a hybrid as it were between total dependency on supernatural, and acceptance of reality is a good thing. I welcome and commend it. I see it as a step in the evolution of religion that began some 300 years ago with the advent of the scientific age.

But, that you must still retain that illogical grasp on supernaturalism, and can't just acknowledge the teachings attributed to Jesus as a refinement of morality and good guide for civilization, is tantamount to why we still have a vestigial tail, and body hair. Eventually, that too will pass.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What’s More Christian Than a Good Old Fashion Book Burning?

… Well, to be honest, Jewish persecution, and the murder and subjugation of indigenous peoples is MORE Christian… but let’s not split hairs. Book burning is right up there when listing Christian proclivities toward institutionalized barbaric behavior.

Wiki lists fifty-nine of the most infamous book burning episodes in history. It goes back as early as the 3rd century BCE and as recently as May 2008. It lists acts of book burning in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, America, the Far East, virtually the entire world, or more succinctly, what we refer to as “the Civilized World”, by various cultures . While certainly not a complete list of every such event, it captures the most historically note worthy.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly twenty-three of these acts of book burning, almost 40%, were by Christians, both Catholics and Protestants. The subject matter of the volumes that drew their ire was diverse: science, philosophy, competing interpretations of Christian doctrine (AKA heretical texts), Jewish text, fiction, history, and various “black arts”.

The earliest of these burnings were more than ceremonial, they were intended to obliterate any competing information or position, whether factual or opinion, that was counter to the teachings of the established Christian hierarchy. It was meant to completely eradicate such thought so as to prevent it from becoming known and spread. For if knowledge became accessible to the masses; if dissenting thought becomes rooted; if people begin to question doctrine and mandated thought; then the powerbase of the Church becomes undermined, and its source of sustenance jeopardized, namely the masses.

Many volumes were lost to history, some survived. In a few notable cases, like Michael Servetus, 16th century physician and discoverer of the human circulatory system, the author was burned alive along with what was believed to be the last volume of his heretical work. Fortunately, three volumes of his dissertation against the non-Biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and for a purer and kinder flavor of Christianity survived. It only cost him his life, his thoughts live on in his book, and through Unitarianism.

While secular institutions and other religions are guilty of similar acts of intolerance and barbarism in their thirst to retain power and suppress free thought, not one institution, not one other religion, not one nation or political persuasion throughout history comes close to Christianity in pure volume of book burnings over such a sustained period of time. It continues to this day.

If prizes were awarded for suppressing ideas, attempting to control people's thoughts, keep people in ignorance, and destroying civilization’s most revered source of knowledge, Christianity would win hands down. Congratulations Christianity, we knew you had it in you

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gun Rights Are Bestowed by GOD!!!

Ok, try not to let this freak you out, but I’m a member of the NRA. Yep, the National Rifle Association. Have been since I was thirteen years old. As an avid gun collector and informal shooter, it behooves me to contribute to an organization whose primary objective is to ensure I continue to have the right to pursue my hobby.

But, unfortunately, my membership puts me in the company of some really weird folks.
I’d venture that almost every Fundie in the country is a member of the NRA. That doesn’t diminish the value of the organization … it just embarrasses me.

Today I received my monthly NRA magazine. I flipped through the technical articles, the collector’s section, the section on examples of Americans who defended their lives and property with guns, etc. Then I came to the “Letter from the President” page. Here the president of the NRA gives his monthly inspirational talk.

This month he wrote on the Presidential election. As one would expect, he came down hard on Obama and Clinton, and their strong anti-gun stance. I know all this, and have decided to vote for Obama anyway. My reasoning being that given the direction this country has gone, and is going, under a Republican / theistically beholding administration, it’s time for me to put my personal interests aside for the good of the Nation as a whole. I don’t know if Obama / the Dems will be as bad, but unlikely it can be worse. In the event any crazy gun legislation is proposed under an Obama administration, I will do what I have always done: actively letter write, stay politically involved, and trust that the NRA and Congress will prevent well meaning but utterly stupid gun laws from passing that will do nothing to reduce crime but would impinge on my Constitutionally guaranteed gun ownership rights.

But here’s the clincher. In the course of reading this article comes this statement:
“Gun ownership is a God-given Right.”

Forget about the fact that the Founding Fathers didn’t include mention of God when they wrote the Constitution, not even once; and many of them were Deists who totally rejected the concept of a Creator intervening in Man’s affairs.

Don't consider the fact that if the gun rights granted under the 2nd Amendment are divinely provided, then one has to logically assume that the 21st Amendment, which repealed the prohibition of alcohol, was also the work of God, as presumably would all the Amendments.

Never mind that by inferring gun ownership is endorsed by a deity that NOT owning a gun would, logically, be a blasphemous insult to this gun loving deity.

Ignore the little detail that the Bible never once mentions the right to own guns.

Yeah, forget and discount all that and just realize that the very statement of “God Given Right” infers supernatural justification for / endorsement of gun ownership and thus puts the 2nd Amendment on a par with the Ten Commandments, kosher dietary law, and the admonishment to stone your unruly children!

One can only wonder if this “God-given right” extends to felons and terrorists, much less Muslims, pagans, and atheists. After all, “they is all God’s chil’en”. Maybe it’s just applicable to law abiding, US citizen Christians and Jews. But who’s to know since God evidently hasn’t seen fit to inform us of his perspective on who qualifies to pack iron. No doubt the president of the NRA, evidently God’s chosen Prophet on matters pertaining to firearms, could advise us of God’s position on that. Then the only question left is WGWJO? *

The Christian stupidity I have to endure as a member of this organization is troubling. (sigh)

*What Guns Would Jesus Own?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Does a Candidate’s Belief Effect His Fitness to Govern?

Recently, a blogger who I respect and who’s opinion I value, said that even if Osama were Muslim it wouldn’t stop him from voting for him. While I respect his position, I don’t share that philosophy. I could not vote for a Muslim, any more than I could vote for a Xtian Fundie, a devotee of Voodoo, a Satanist, a Scientologist, or any other belief system outside the mainstream-moderate-culturally acceptable - middle of the road- Judeo-Christian, or atheist candidate.

Putting aside the admittedly emotional elements surrounding Muslims, it reminds me of the statement often fronted by Christian Fundies in defense of their most theistically infected standard bearers: "A person’s religious belief has no effect on their competence of holding that office".

Since atheism isn’t a belief / belief system, that statement is antithetical to an atheist candidate (not that there are any admitted atheist candidates). Certainly any political or social or ethical belief an atheist holds is open to scrutiny as to suitability to govern, but not his atheism, since it is not a belief, it’s simply a lack of belief.

An atheist candidate would have no supernaturally driven agenda. There could be no split allegiance between upholding the laws of man (Common Law / the Constitution), and some "Higher Moral Authority" handed down by some fictional divine being or prophet. There is only The Law… and evolved human ethics and culturally accepted morality. Unlike theists, there is no conflict of allegiance in the atheist mind, and no chance of decision making being based on prophesy or bizarre doctrine that welcomes or hastens Armageddon, or that may offend the sensibilities of a mythical supreme being, or that is “interpreted” as having been God Sent.

Thus, where no Constitutional prohibition exists for government to interfere with scientific advancement (i.e. stem cell research); or medical advancements (i.e. the distribution of the Human Papaloma Virus preventative vaccine, or over the counter sale of morning after contraceptives), then there is no lawful nor logical reason to impede those things which contribute to the common good and improve the human condition.

Where the Constitution has never been interpreted to impede the right of the terminally ill to die a dignified death and end ones interminable suffering, or to prevent people of the same sex from being recognized as married, then the governing atheist's position would be unencumbered by some nonsensical question of "What Would Jesus Do?", or "What did the bronze age writers of the Old Testament have to say on the matter." , or "Lets consult the Koran."

While in their fevered and imbalanced minds, theists might perceive atheists as a threat to the free practice of their religion, such an opinion has no evidentiary support. It would be in direct contradiction to the Constitutional guarantees of the 1st Amendment to which any American atheist would subscribe.

I hold that any supernatural / mythical belief held by a candidate potentially puts that candidate in conflict with governing in accordance with the law, reason and good sense. My position is simple: All other qualifications being equal, in lieu of a atheist, the less religious, and the more main stream / liberal the religious flavor of the candidate the better off we all are.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Can Religious Myth and Science be Reconciled? Should it be??

Recently an ex-Catholic cum agnostic made the following statement:

“There is no need for fighting between religion and science. There is plenty of room within the various stories and fables of the religions for science to fit in”.

I couldn’t Disagree more.

Trying to reconcile miraculous myths by proffering natural phenomenon or scientific explanations is an exercise in the absurd. Things like the Nile turning red (“Oh…it was an earthquake that released clay….yada, yada, yada.”); or the frog plague (“Oh… a water spout could have caused that.”); or Moses staff turning into a snake and eating the other staff/snakes of the Egyptian priests (“Oh…well… uh… that could have been an optical illusion caused by….yada, yada, yada.”). Please. One might as well justify how Superman “could possibly” fly given the right wind currents and a properly tailored cape.

But then things get even stickier…

1) What is the scientific basis for, or where does science fit into, the Resurrection of Jesus fable, or his raising of Lazarus?

2) What physical law observed by science permits the fabled feeding of the "multitude" by miraculously multiplying a finite number of fish and loaves?

3) What is the scientific explanation for water being instantly converted into fermented grape juice?

4) How does our scientific knowledge about geology and the universe, support the mythical places known as Hell and Heaven?

Answers: 1-3 there is none; 4 it doesn’t.

Why is this important? Because these myths are the basis for the faith of the theistically impaired. It is their justification for Jesus' divinity, and establishes the mythical realms of eternal reward and punishment in exchange for acceptance or denial of their preferred myth. It is those myths that have given rise to 1800 years of mind enslavement, horror and injustice.
There is no room in genuine science, nor justification, to cut and fit natural law / scientific reality so it is accommodated within religious fantasy in order to give that fantasy a semblance of plausibility. That’s pseudo-science. Real science trumps religious fantasy, dispels it, supplants it, and renders it unsupportable fiction.

Science’s tenets and principles have increased man’s knowledge, brought him out of the darkness of ignorance and superstition, have reduced the size of the “God of the Gaps”, and eventually should bring about its virtual demise. And when it does, religious exclusionism, intolerance, homophobia, misogyny, ignorance, and attempts at theocratic supremacy will go with it.

In the struggle of science vs. myth, reason vs. blind belief, there can be no accommodation, no middle ground. Pick your side.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Part II: Criminality, Ethics, & Christian Hypocrisy

As a follow up to my prior post on Christian criminality, I offer this first hand evidence of their hypocrisy and use of dogma to justify criminal acts. My apologies to those of my readers who are familiar with this account from its post in a message group of which I am co-manager.

Last November, in a Christian Debate chat room, a mind numbing Evangelical Fundie from Minnesota tells the room he's going turkey hunting with his son next morning. On a whim I did a search for Minn. hunting seasons. Guess what ... turkey season didn’t open until December 7.

So I ask this good Christian how is it that he's going to shoot game out of season? I mean, WWJS? Isn't it wrong to knowingly break the law, and worse, to teach his son it’s ok to ignore conservation laws? His reply was remarkable in its hypocrisy. I shall paraphrase:

"You're not a hunter, you wouldn't understand." [In fact, I hunt small game and have purchased a hunting license every year since I was 13 years old (except during my military service years). I push him again.]

"Why do you bring up Jesus, you're an atheist!!?? Maybe you should let Jesus in your life." [Undeterred by his attempt to obfuscate the issue I pressed on.] Finally he blurts this out:

"I've sinned many times in my life; been drunken, used drugs, committed adultery, and hunted out of season & exceed the limit. Jesus has always forgiven me. He'll forgive me again."

There it was! Even after having admitted premeditated intent to break the law; even while knowing he's setting a bad example for his son; even realizing that he has admitted to a room of people that he has no regard for conservation law, or respect for the preservation of game species, he can justify it because Jesus has always forgiven him and will again ... tomorrow.

This is what passes for Christian morality and ethics. Indeed, it’s a contributing factor to why Christians are more prone to criminal activity and represent a disproportionately higher population of prison inmates than atheists: they get a pass, a clean slate from their God, they just have to ask.

Yet I, an atheist, who acts in accordance with the law, shows respect for game by harvesting them only in season, who would no more teach my son to do otherwise than I would teach him how to steal a car... I am the "heathen" bereft of ethics and morals??

Gee, if only I had my own imaginary man-god to cleanse me of my crimes. Then I too could act like a mindless slob hunter and unethical law breaking scumbag with impunity. I guess being theist has its benefits.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Christians and Criminality

Ok, let’s get the stats out of the way first.

According to various surveys, Christians (Protestants, Catholics, AKA Jesus worshipers) represent between 78% and 83% of the US population. Do your own Google, you’ll see. The atheist population is estimated between 8% and 16%.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Christians represent 83.8% of all convicts in prison. While atheists make up only 0.21% of the prison population.

Thus, Christians make up a disproportionately larger number of convicts to the total Christian population of the US (84% to 80+%) while atheist convicts make up a disproportionately smaller number to the US atheist population (0.2% to 10%) … and dramatically so. Considering that Christians claim that without Jebus / God atheists can’t have morals or ethics, this is rather shocking.

This leads one to ask the obvious question:
If Christians are guided by the word of God; worship a man-god dubbed “the Prince of Peace”; claim to hold a higher moral standard than godless heathens, etc., etc. then how is it they represent such a disproportionately large percent of the criminal element, while atheists barely register as a blip on the evil doer meter?

Well, you know what the Xtians will say. They’ll drag out the ever popular “But those people aren’t REAL Christians” . Naturally that would include Ted Haggard, Warren Jeffs, Jim Bakker; the hundreds of convicted pedophile priests, ministers, and religious youth leaders, et al. Thus, all the Christians in prison aren’t REALLY Christians, because the REAL Christians say they aren't.

The other attempt at denial is the old : Well, they converted to Christianity while in prison and weren’t Christians when they were convicted.” Naturally there is zero proof or evidence of that. Indeed, while some will “find the Lord”/ become born again in jail, the majority of prison conversions tend to favor Islam as the preferred route, which is the fastest growing religion within prisons, just as it is in the rest of the world.

Finally, out of desperation, they’ll claim that those who called themselves Christian are really atheists. Evidently, these thousands upon thousands of supposed atheist prisoners have banded together to make Christians look bad … like that’s all they have to worry about in prison.

But the answer is more down to Earth and mundane than all that. I’ll proffer that Christians are typically less educated, come from a lower socio-economic background , are less rational, less intelligent, earn less income, and thus are more likely to be impoverished and turn to crime, than your average atheist. Further, Christians don’t have to worry about their personal actions or abiding by man’s laws since their dogma guarantee’s them salvation and forgiveness no matter how many they kill, what they steal, or who they rape. After all, this is just a temporary life on “Satan’s Earth”, the real reward is to follow, so why not play fast and loose with ethics and morality?

Ever wonder why so many mobsters, biker gangs, Aryan Nation / neo-Nazi groups, gang bangers, and Mafioso are Christians? When was the last time you heard of an atheist mob, hate group, or outlaw biker gang; or saw a hardcore gang banger with an atheist symbol tattooed on his forearm? Let me answer for you … NEVER.

I guess the only question left to answer is: Are they criminals because of Christianity, or are they Christians because they are criminals? Which ever it is, they sure cause a hell of a lot of misery and pain to society … those god fearing Christians.