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?