Sunday, December 26, 2010

Is Jesus worthy of our respect?

Ask a Christian precisely which of Jesus’ “teachings” are so unique and valid, and what contributions he made to societal conduct or the advancement of civilization that makes his personage worthy of worship and respect; then stand back and marvel at the sound of silence.

Recently I read a comment from a Xtian proposing that even if one doesn’t buy into the supernatural deity status of Jesus and dismisses the miracles attributed to him in the New Testament, that one must certainly respect and honor the teachings of the man.

My response: “Really. Such as?” I asked for ten things that Jesus said that uniquely define him as a great thinker, great teacher, contributor to societal development, or the advancement of civilization. I’d settle for five. I’m still waiting.

I expected that he will eventually come back with “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Earth shattering! Also known as the Rule of Reciprocity it was professed by Confucianism, Buddhism, the Hindus, the ancient Babylonians, Hebrews, Egyptians, Greeks, et al, .all well before the Common Era.

Digging deeper I assumed he’d proffer that Jesus endorsed loving your neighbor as yourself. Yet, the same man said he came to instigate discord among family members, turning father against son, mother against daughter, etc. (Luke 12:53). Besides, “love thy neighbor as thyself’ was first written in the Hebrew bible (Leviticus 19:18) fourteen hundred years before Jesus was said to exist. Not a new concept; hardly worthy of awe and admiration; if it were Xtians would be Jewish and revering Moses as “God’. By the way…by neighbors they meant fellow Hebrew neighbors. If you were a Canaanite neighbor to a Hebrew your love experience may vary. Jesus’ perspective was the same as the Hebrew Bible’s.

Maybe he’d offer “love your enemy”(Matthew 5)? Really? Much as how Jesus loves us all but has no bones about sending freethinkers (his enemy one supposes) to Hell for non-belief, we are to love those enemies who would kill us and who we kill in war? Short of mercy killing how does loving those you must kill or who want you dead, logically reconcile in a rational mind? Since love and killing are so closely entwined in the philosophy of Jesus there should be alarms going off and eyebrows raised…not worship and respect. In fact the very concept is antithetical to reason or the human condition. Anyone who says they love Osama bin Laden, or Adolph Eichmann, or the guy trying to blow up the plane carrying them and their children is one of two things: a liar or a psychotic.

Perhaps “do not worry about tomorrow… [God will provide]” (Matthew 6) holds some value? Imagine if the whole world did as Jesus admonished and just didn’t worry about where their next meal was coming from, or their mortgage payment, or where they will sleep tonight, or how they will pay for their children’s higher education. Those aren’t prophetic words by which to live. No one besides a welfare dependent crack whore or third world beggar would consider living like that.

The religionist came back with none of these. Instead he said he’d have to do some “research.” He also tossed out the ever popular “You seem to be angry.” platitudinous Xtian hand grenade and invoked martyrdom at the hands of my “militant atheism.” So much for his original contention of Jesus’ admirable teachings being worthy of respect.
Virtually everything else Jesus said (and there wasn’t an awful lot) related to honoring god, being meek, talking down wealth and productivity, taking abuse, praying to a non-existent being, fixating on sin, and threatening badmouthing you to his Dad if you don’t buy his exalted position.

No. Only with belief in the supernatural -- belief in and fear of what the imaginary afterlife holds, does Jesus’ have any value. Without that Jesus is worthy of the same respect and admiration due any one of the thousands of cynic preachers and religious fanatics of his time; and eminently less than any of our Founding Fathers, Jonas Salk, or your kid’s favorite teacher.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let’s not forget the Reason for the Season and let’s remind them of it too

Ah… the beloved icons of the Christmas celebration bedeck homes, churches and public places throughout the Christian world announcing the coming of their second most holy day. The d├ęcor, the symbolism, the holy date itself heralds the advent of the holiday they so adamantly defend against secularization and atheist derision; the one they insist must be acknowledged by “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” I’d wager not two in ten Christians realize that their holy day and all its trappings have as much to do with their fabled Jewish man-god’s birth as does Ground Hog Day.

Xmas tree: Roman celebration of the feast of Saturnalia (Dec 17-23); Pagans decorated their houses with clippings of evergreen shrubs. They also decorated living trees with bits of metal and replicas of their God, Bacchus.

[ I wonder how Xtians reconcile their most beloved symbol of Christmas with the Bible’s admonishment against the use of trees as a religious rite:
Jeremiah 10:2-4 KJV "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." ]

Yule / Yule log / holly / mistletoe: winter festival of Norse pagans. Ceremonial log, herbs, and decoration associated with nature worship and winter solstice celebration.

Santa Clause: see Odin

Gifts in stockings: Norse god Odin filled children’s shoes with goodies.

December 25: The celebrated birth date of the pre Jesus gods Dionysus, Osiris, Tammuz, Sol Invictus, Attis, and others observed by various pagan religions who worshipped the Winter Solstice event on or about Dec 25.

Virgin Birth: The gods Horus, Tammuz, Perseus, Mithra, Krishna all preceding Jesus.

[ Early apologist and church father Justin Martyr argued that Satan intentionally created pre-Jesus virgin birthed gods to confuse future Christians: "When I hear that Perseus was begotten of a virgin, I understand that the deceiving serpent counterfeited also this." ]

Star Sign: foretold the birth of Julius Caesar (100 yrs before Jesus), Krishna (1400 yrs before Jesus). Also Pythagoras, Isaac, Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, David, Micah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Elijah, Zechariah, Balaam, Balak, Malachi, Aaron, Elisheba, Miriam and Moses all had mysterious stars associated with them.

Wise men/Magi: Three wise men announced the birth of the Egyptian god Osiris; Magi brought gifts at the birth of the Persian god Mithra.

Yep, let’s celebrate the reason for the season: a gaggle of mythical pagan gods; nature worship; the Winter Solstice’s promise of more daylight and the “rebirth” of spring. And let’s stop them from hijacking the true meaning of the season and attributing it to some mythical Jewish kid. Call it by its real name. Say it loud and say it proud! “Merry Saturnaliadionysusosiristammuzmithrakrishnasolinvictusattiswintersolstice-Mas” Or, you can just say “Heathen’s Greetings” for short. Have a safe and happy one with your family.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Praise the Lord and lose the lard: Jesus’ fat camp may be your kid’s salvation

It’s no secret that the US has a major problem with childhood obesity. Thirty percent of our children are overweight or obese. While much lip service has been paid to the issue one man of God claims to have the ultimate answer.

The Right Reverend Doctor Jackie Butkes runs the Praise Our Redeemer King Youth Kamp and Indoctrination Depot affectionately referred to by its clients and campers by its acronym PORKY KID. Located in Ft. Myers, Florida “Porky Kid” promises to bring your chubby youngster closer to God, and closer to the weight of a non-porcine species. During Reverend Dr. Butkes’ annual recruiting tour of New England I had the opportunity to interview him with an eye toward finding out the secret to the success of his camp. His only stipulation was no microphones and no notes. So naturally I recorded it.

Hump: Reverend, I understand that your camp guarantees significant weight loss through a personal relationship with Jesus. How exactly how do you accomplish that?
Rev. B: Find Jesus!
Hump: Uh, sorry Reverend, I’m not in the market for proselytizing and I’m not sure how that’s relevant to…
Rev B: No, No…that’s how we do it. We have the kids find Jesus!
Hump: So, sort of a combination of New Testament Bible study and intensive reading of Biblical criticism, the transcripts from the Jesus Seminar, and various perspectives of the Church’s founding fathers to give the children the sense that the power of the Lord will help sustain them through their weight loss crusade?
Rev. B: No. One of our counselors dresses in a beard, sandals and a diaper and hides somewhere on our camp grounds. We tell the kids to go find Jesus or they get no food that day.
Hump: That’s pretty Machiavellian. You’d think parents would be a little disturbed by that technique.
Rev B: Nah. The kids don’t tell their parents. We tell ‘em if they tell that Jesus won’t love them, that God will send a pair of bears to tear them apart, and that their parents will die and go directly to Hell.
Hump: Seems a little harsh, coercive, and even abusive.
Rev B: Hey, we guarantee the fat kids will lose weight. This works. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Jesus said that.
Hump: No he didn’t. But never mind. Is that the whole weight loss program--.hide and seek with a fake Jesus?
Rev B: Not hardly! One of our most effective methods is playing “Wander the Desert Or You Get No Dessert.” That’s where we drive the kids out into the middle of our ten square mile compound blind folded. Then we take off the blind folds and tell them to find their way back to camp.
Hump: With a counselor and water I assume.
Rev B: Did Jesus have a counselor and water with him when he wandered the desert for 40 days and 40 nights? I don’t dang-diddly-doo think so!
Hump: But it’s Ft. Myers Florida. The average day time temperature in July and August is like 90 degrees with 90 % humidity!
Rev B: That’s right. We like to give our campers a taste of the Holy Land along with a relationship with Jesus.
Hump: But it’s dangerous; kids could die out there!
Rev B: And they have. It was God’s will. We tell their parents that they were Raptured ahead of everyone else because Jesus was so impressed with their sleek new body.
Hump: And the parents believe that???
Rev B: Of course they do, they’re Christians. Believing is what we do. Besides, what’s better ... having a slim but constantly hungry and whining kid who you know is just gonna get fat again; or having a kid in great shape playing dodge ball with the Lord and hobnobbing with the angels? Plus, the significantly reduced food expense seems to console them.
Hump: Yeah. Uh ... well, one last question. What about this promise of a closer relationship with Jesus? Nothing I’ve heard so far suggests you do much to promote that.
Rev B: That’s ‘cause you haven’t been to our camp after lights out, and listened to the kids in their individual “Tomb of Jesus” bunk rooms. I doubt you’d have to wait more than five minutes before you’d hear the kids praying to God and whimpering for His divine intervention. In fact, talking in tongues is not uncommon among our campers.
Hump: I imagine food and water deprivation, mental and physical abuse, and being enclosed in a one person cave each night might be the predominant factor.
Rev B: Oh ye of little faith! Did not Jesus say: “Suffer the little fat ones to suffer -- for verily it is better to look good than to feel good.”
Hump: No, he didn’t. Actually the last phrase of that sentence was said by a Billy Crystal character on Saturday Night Live about 20 years ago.
Rev B: Whatever.
Hump: Frankly, Reverend, I think what you’re doing is patently deceptive, cruel, brutal, primitive and barbaric!

Rev B: Hey, what did you expect? … It’s a Bible camp!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taking Atheist Activism to the Extreme - Crossing the Line to Big Brotherism

Anyone who has read The Atheist Camel Chronicles knows I am no shrinking violet when it comes to anti-theist activism and calling religious teaching what it is … promulgating superstitious nonsense. But there are limits to what I am willing to do to curb the spread of theist non-think.

I don’t remember when or why I joined a facebook cause entitled “Ban Religious Child Grooming” but evidently I did. I was reminded of this when I received an alert from an administrator about some religious event or organization’s effort to proselytize children. Clicking on the link to the page I read the “about us” section and withdrew from the cause post haste, hopefully not losing a facebook friend or two in so doing.

No one is more aware of the travesty that religious delusion wreaks on civilization. I am well acquainted with the ill effects religious training of children in their formative years has on their acceptance of secular reality, as well as its long term impact on the propagation of the God Virus. And while I applaud their sensitivity and awareness of the ills of religious indoctrination, advocating banning the teaching of anything; any belief system, presumed fact, unproven theory, conspiracy theory, world view, et al, when it is endorsed and approved by the parent guardian of a minor, is a recipe for disaster.

Foundational to the Ban Religious Child Grooming credo is this:

  • Only proven fact should ever be taught as being actual facts. [So much for teaching String Theory]

  • Without religious child grooming the twin towers would still be standing [How could anyone possibly know this? One wonders if that is an actual “ fact” or assumption]

  • Without religious child grooming thousands of wars would never have occurred. [“Thousands”? Is that an actual fact? Sounds like exaggeration at best, hyperbole at worst.]

  • The proven fact of evolution also acts as 100% proof that the biblical accounts of creation are a sham and a deception. [ only if the religionist interprets the creation story literally; if interpreted as a euphemism for natural causes of creation is it still deception, or just a parable?]

  • The age of consent laws and the fraud laws should already be protecting children from religious child grooming, but these crimes are basically ignored. [“Fraud laws”? Would a parent be liable for fraud for proffering Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy to their 5 year old? Is promoting belief in God /gods in and of itself religious child grooming?]

One tends to get on pretty boggy ground when one speaks of “actual fact.” Evolutionary theory has already undergone some minor changes since Darwin’s day. It is likely new discoveries will enhance/change our understanding of the “actual facts” of evolution. Should we ban the teaching of evolutionary theory because it is more certain than not that what we think we know as fact now will be tweaked, corrected and certain details of it proven to be erroneous, thus not “actual fact”?

Last week NASA discovered a new life form on Earth; new bacteria that lives on and reproduces arsenic in place of phosphorous. Up until last week biologists were quite sure that no such life form could exist on Earth, that all life forms shared common chemical compositions which did not include arsenic as a primary source of life sustenance. That fact would be declared wrong, in hindsight and under the proposed ban, such teachings would have been illegal. Every biology book would be guilty of passing on non-fact. I wonder what the statute of limitations would be, and the penalty.

Once upon a time the teaching of a solar centric universe was banned. Proclaiming ones atheism was banned. Reading unpopular books was banned. Practicing certain religions was banned. And not just by religious authority, but by secular governments as well. Banning almost never has the desired effect. All banning achieves is driving the undesired activity underground … the use of illicit drugs and the prominence of prostitution is witness to that.

But beyond this the slippery slope becomes a cliff. If we empower the government to ban religious teaching of children, irrespective of its absurdity and [potential] negative impact on the child and society, we open the door to banning any new thought or hypothesis or unpopular idea. It is Big Brother at his very ugliest and virulent.

I’m all for aggressive activism, but only when rights and freedoms aren’t trashed and the reality of historical precedence aren’t ignored. To do otherwise makes us exactly what we as thinking people despise: intolerant, short sighted, unthinking and dangerous.

Monday, December 6, 2010

“The vast majority of Muslims reject violence." Let's Define “Vast”

The violence Islam has perpetrated across the globe over the past 40 years or so is committed by a small percentage of radicals who, we are constantly reminded, distort Muslim values and the words of the Koran. Time and again we are told that the “vast majority” of Muslims are peace loving people who deplore violence in the name of their religion. To question this is to open ones self up to accusations of “Islamophobe” and/or “far right alarmist” by the enlightened politically correct.

I am neither phobic, far right, nor an alarmist. I am however skeptical by nature. I require objective evidence before I accept as fact statements proffered as true. I am dubious of claims that are repeated so often that, like mindless religious sheep, people baa in agreements and buy into them. I’ll leave that kind of non-think to theists. Give me some scientifically gathered data for a claim.

I have long wondered exactly what is meant by “vast majority.” I would venture to say that hearing that terminology most of us would apply single digits, perhaps 2% to 8%, to those Muslims who support violence…the “vast majority” of peace loving Muslims thus being 92% to 98%. We’d be grossly mistaken.

The Pew Research Center, perhaps the world’s most highly respected institute for scientific polling, has issued its latest findings on Muslim attitudes on politics and opinion in seven Muslim nations. Here is a brief synopsis of their findings:
· The median percentage of those surveyed who support the most radical terrorist organization, al Qaeda, is 22%, almost one out of four.
· The median percentage for those who support Osama Bin Laden is 21%.
· The median percentage of those who support Hezbollah is 35%.
· The median percentage of those who support suicide bombing is 20%.

Here is the full report;

Given this data it appears that “vast majority” of peace loving, anti-terror, anti-extremist Muslims means approximately 65% - 79%. Or, to look at it another way, between two (2) and four (4) out of every ten (10) Muslims in these countries endorse the use of violence to promote fanatical Muslim objectives.

Oh to be sure, approximately 75% opposing violence is a majority compared to the roughly 25% endorsing it. And I’m certainly happy that it’s not the reverse percentage. But while that would be a land slide if we were speaking in terms of election results, when it comes to dismissing Muslim support for fanaticism, violence, death, and hostility against non-Muslims -- to use the term “vast majority” is not only a little optimistic, it’s an outright distortion.

If two or three out of every ten Americans endorsed the murder of innocents to promote their agenda; or endorsed Timothy McVeigh; or supported fanatical survivalist groups; or applauded abortion clinic bombing; or felt that blowing oneself up in pursuit of a political goal was sometimes justified, I dare say we’d be rather alarmed. But because we are speaking of a specific religion and culture, we are willing to discount the 25% as just a “small minority’ of that group.

The next time you hear the politically correct head in the sand apologists down play the violent nature of Islam, you may want to challenge their understanding of “vast majority” or “small minority.” Or, you may prefer to ignore scientific fact and rely on blind belief. We know how that works.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

“By their senselessness yea shall know them.” - Name these religions & win a prize.

If you are a frequent reader of my blog and books on theism, or stay current on the whacky activities of the deluded, you should be rather well versed in the doctrines of various religions. The most bizarre beliefs are usually marked by such nuttiness that its absurdity can be summarized in one sentence that uniquely identifies the denomination. So, without any further ado “NAME THAT CULT/RELIGON!”

  1. This group believes that if they attain the proper level of religious righteousness they will ultimately be gods and goddess of their own planet. (value 5 points)

  2. This group insists that 75 million years ago an evil galactic ruler, named Xenu, solved overpopulation by bringing trillions of people to Earth in DC-8 space planes, stacking them around volcanoes and nuking them. (value 5 points)

  3. These believers practice of symbolic cannibalism goes one step further, believing the food and drink actually is the blood and flesh of a man-god. (value 3 points)

  4. If you believe that UFOs spawned most religions, mind transfer is possible and cloning can lead to reincarnation you’d fit right in with this bunch. (value 10 points)

  5. Whites are “delightsome”; blacks are the accursed of Cain. (value 5 points)

  6. During Childbirth, the mother should be silent because it is believed that the noises evoke bad memories when the child gets older. (value 10 points)

  7. Oldest “three gods in one” religion in modern practice. (value 5 points)

  8. “Gheblac heberiso proargh quiazchloc fuelcmip.” (value 3 points)

  9. Their deceased messiah never said he was God, but his oft intoxicated followers insist he will return. (value 5 points)

  10. The devout focus on obtaining the material wealth of an advanced culture through magic, and expect their messiah to return on Feb 15 in some unknown year. (value 10 points)

  11. The practice of this sect’s most important ritual is illegal in three states. (value 5 points)

  12. At least 165 children have died since 1975 directly resulting from the practice of this belief. (value 5 points)

  13. By swinging a live chicken around their head three times prior to a specific holy day they can purge themselves of their sins. (value 5 points)

  14. They encourage the ritual bloodletting of the scalps of children on a holiday commemorating the martyrdom of their religion’s most revered saint (value 10 points)

  15. This religion demands your death if you leave the fold (value 3 points)

  16. Everyone who is not a member of this sect is knowingly or unknowingly under the devil’s control. (value 10 points)

I’ll post the answers in a few days. Meanwhile submit your best guesses in the blog comment section or on my facebook page. The first person to get them all correct will get a signed copy of my book “The Atheist Camel Chronicles.” If no one gets them all the highest score will win. (Offer open to US residents only, sorry. Only one answer per question. You may enter multiple times. Like Papal Infallibility the decision of the camel as to the correct answers is final).

99 points = You are Omniscient and possibly God!
98 – 75 points = Apostle material to a god of your choice
74- 68 points = You should have your own cult
67 -50 points = Your time in purgatory will be reduced by 50%
49- 30 points = Read more, watch Jersey Shore less.
29 and below = You are obviously theist …why are you even here?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prayer Requests: Desperation of the deluded

I stumbled across a website that encourages Christians to submit their prayer requests. They promise that the faithful will take up their cause and help them petition god for redress. On a whim I Googled “prayer requests” and found thousands of similar sites.

Picking a few of these sites at random I scrolled through the appeals for prayer requests from hundreds of sad and desperate people. Each story, each testimony was more pathetic than the one before it. Here are a few extracts:

  • “Lord, I am asking for a husband.”
  • “Dear Jesus, please make a miracle happen for my whole finances and income really soon ...”
  • “Please pray God will rid me of my doubt, fears, disobedience, and replace them with unwavering faith, courage, and willingness to obey God.”
  • “Please pray that my anxiety and panic will leave me. I suffer greatly when I am alone or travelling and I pray that God will make his presence felt… I also pray for a job closer to home to reduce the panic. I pray it is something I love instead of dreading getting up each morning.”
  • “I am falling back into a dpression [sic] again after losing my mom and husabnd [sic] i have met anew guy but i am unsure if he loves me Please pary [sic] to God he is the right one because my lomliness [sic] is unbearable.”

There are literally thousands of these cries for help on just this one site.

As I read these prayer requests I was met by three conflicting emotions. First, the realist in me caused my initial response to be one of scorn; that people could possibly believe their financial, relationship, and emotional problems will be solved by typing in appeals to an imaginary god on the internet and enlisting the prayers of fellow believers. After all, unless god is senile one prayer request should be sufficient to get its attention and prompt the necessary response. If they have prayed and haven’t gotten relief, why not just accept “No!” for an answer? Why would a quorum, a veritable petition of prayers, be necessary to get this loving and caring and all knowing god to react? Why not conclude the obvious, that there is nothing there listening?

But then the humanist in me replaced that dismissive scorn with genuine sadness and empathy. These are folks who, presumably, were indoctrinated into supernaturalism through no fault of their own. Whether from childhood, or as a result of weak minded susceptibility in later life, they have come to believe that they are but helpless pawns in a chess game of life where the pieces are moved by a great unseen spirit’s hand. That they are merely microscopic cogs in god’s great plan. That their own effort, self-determination, and choices are insufficient to influence their life for the better. That only through divine intervention can their life be salvaged. I sincerely pity these people.

Ultimately, my anti-theism flooded me with anger. Among the prayer sites I perused not one of them encouraged the prayerful to seek professional attention. Not one of them suggested getting psychiatric attention for depression or anxiety which through medications could give them almost certain relief. Not one of them offered secular readings that could give them self help guidance. Not one of them directed them to a marriage counselor, financial consultant, career counselor or grief counselor who could aid them in getting a grasp on their lives and make it a happier existence. .

Instead, by their very existence, these sites promote dependency on supernatural intervention which will never come. They discourage affirmative action and self-determination. They prolong the pain of these desperate deluded folks, some of whom will very likely destroy themselves when secular resources could have been their salvation. They are guilty of benign neglect of the very people they call their brothers and sisters in Christ.

And for every believer who comes back to testify to Jesus’ deliverance from their problem, and thank the site for their type written prayers, there are likely thousands who will quietly slip under the waves of hopelessness and drown in despair dragged down by the weight of religious ignorance -- all while the life jacket of secular reality bobs untouched on the surface.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Atheist Church" a more counter productive and inane concept would be hard to beat

Well, it’s happened again. I was surfing the net and found an atheist site that was taking a poll of its membership asking about whether one would approve of / attend an atheist "church". I was disgusted for a number of reasons.

First, the term "church" is antithetical to atheism. A church is a place of worship, for theists. They might have just as well proffered an atheist synagogue, or mosque, or coven for all the sense it makes.

Secondly, with so many confused theists calling atheism a "religion" and all the atheists working to counter that foolishness by repeating the old canards like “atheism is a religion like baldness is a hair color,” or “like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby," to be talking about an "atheist church" is giving already confused theists ammunition to renew their claim of “atheism = religion.”

Thirdly, exactly what do all atheists have in common to justify a close knit social structure akin to a theist church? Do we all share a "belief system" in common or a common "world view"? I doubt it. You don't know mine, and I don't know yours, and nothing in being atheist defines wider personal convictions or world views.

Do we feel the need for some "spiritual support" (oy!) by a group of like minded "non-believers?" Atheists share in common only one thing, the ONLY thing meant by "atheism": non-belief in God/gods. Period. Not much there around which to form a close knit church-like social structure much less one with rituals, dogma, doctrine, rites or even a secret handshake. Frankly, I wouldn’t even be attracted to a night of bingo with a room full of atheists.

Oh yes, we likely share some basic axiomatic principles, like respect for science, the need for objective evidence to accept something as a fact. Most of us accept evolutionary theory as genuine. Some large percentage of us supports equality for women, a women’s right to control her reproductive processes, and gay rights. But that isn’t atheism. That’s modernity, rationality and 21st century thinking.

The concept of a church which seeks to somehow service my needs (whatever they may be); or the needs of the “atheist community” (whatever that is), simply because we share only non-belief in God/gods, is not only unnecessary but irrational and counterproductive to how Freethinkers are perceived. That's not to say I object to atheist clubs, reading groups, discussion forums, or activist organizations to discuss issues, raise awareness and to ensure atheists’ rights and the separation of church and state are kept sacrosanct. I belong to a number of those and they serve a clear and defined purpose. But the concept of a formalized "church" is down right misguided and oxymoronic and sets back the hard won credibility of the atheist movement 50 years.
Some pathetic atheists say having our own church and going to "services" would make atheists look better, more moral and thus acceptable to believers. My response to that is: Thanks, Uncle Tom ... if I need to try and "pass" I'll let you know.

On the other hand, if by calling every atheist organization a church, mosque, synagogue or coven we all get a major tax break … count me in and call me Reverend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Probability or Purpose?: How do your religiously infected friends explain this?

Zahra Baker was a 10 year old girl from North Carolina. Her parents divorced, her father had custody. A bone cancer survivor, she had her leg amputated and lost part of her hearing as a side effect, but by all accounts was a happy and well adjusted little girl. Missing for weeks, her prosthetic leg and part of her remains were discovered not far from her home. Her stepmother who admitted writing a fake ransom note is now the primary suspect in her murder, possibly aided by the child’s father.

I heard this report for the first time this morning. I was appalled that so much sorrow, pain, and horror could be condensed into the ten short years of that child’s life.

As a realist I understand it however. Divorce is rampant, with almost 50% of marriages ending in separation. Childhood cancer is a fact of life affecting approximately two out of every ten thousand children in the US each year roughly 0.02% of children. The horrific acts of abuse, violence, and inhumanity against children, while inexplicable to most of us, are an unfortunate reality. The murder of children under the age of 15 years old represents approximately 1,300 / 6% of US murders annually. A child has approximately 0.00014% chance of being murdered.

The odds of any one child experiencing what Zahra Baker went through are beyond my ability to calculate. Sadly, Zahra was the loser in a trifecta of astronomical statistical improbably. But that is exactly what it was

So how do religionists explain this? Can they dismiss this as a horrific statistical reality born of a convergence of random natural occurrences? No…they cannot… not even if they want to. Because according to doctrine their god has a “purpose” for every person. Their loving god, who watches over his creations with unlimited beneficence; a god who answers the prayers of believers, doesn’t play with random statistics. Everything is by it’s design, even Zahra's miserable life and death.

So what will they say if you were to ask them what god’s purpose was for this little girl’s birth, suffering and ultimate death? There aren’t a lot of options from which they can choose. While apologists have written several million words trying to explain away why their god permits these things to happen to innocents, it always boils down to the vapid platitudes that believers have adopted in lieu of thought to avoid coming to grips with reality: “God works in strange and mysterious ways.”, “It’s all part of God’s plan, who are we to understand it?”, “God needed her in heaven.”, “God wanted her to experience the ultimate pain in order to appreciate the ultimate happiness.”, “She’s in a better place.”, and the ever handy “Free will!” whatever the hell that means. Sometimes they will dig really deep and proffer that “God is a good and loving God.”, as though that explains/ excuses it all.

Want to know how deeply your theist friends have swallowed the Kool Aid of unquestioning religious non-think? Want to gauge exactly how encompassing is their self delusion and surrender to vacuous apologetics? Want to witness what complete abandonment of reality sounds like? Ask them to explain Zahra Baker, then stand back and watch the dance of denial.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Price Glory? Hump’s new business venture is every myth’s godsend.

After many years of researching prospects, evaluating market potential, and creating a business plan with almost unlimited possibilities the stage is set and I am now ready to peel back the veil of secrecy from my latest and greatest project.

Move over J. Walter Thompson! You may be the most renown advertising, marketing and public relations firm on the planet for things and beings born of the natural universe, but you missed the boat this time!


November 10, 2010; Langdon, NH, USA

Subject: D. Waterfilled Hump & Sons, Ltd. announces launch of the first and only public relations service to the fading fabled, marginalized mythical & superfluous supernatural. Clients named.

Whether you were once feared as a night stalking blood sucking undead spirit; lauded as a magical pot of gold harboring Irish imp; or worshipped as a malevolent god of vengeance and blood sacrifice; if your star has faded and you’ve lost your following
D. Waterfilled Hump & Sons will restore your reputation to its once shining glory.

“There are a lot of once great supernatural beings who have fallen on hard times.” explains Dromedary Hump, CEO and founder. “Belief in supernatural has waned. These myths just aren’t getting any respect anymore. We’re committed to changing all that.”

In a marketing coup D.W. Hump & Sons have signed some of the greatest names in supernatural myth and fable. “Our first client was Odin. He was in a rather depressed state when he came to us since his name hasn’t been mentioned in any serious way since the 1958 film The Vikings, staring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.” Hump explains. “We did a story board and threw out some battle axes to see if they’d stick, so to speak. His people loved the ideas.”

The firm isn’t just focusing on restoring pagan gods to prominence; they’ll take on pretty much any myth.

Eldest son J.R. Hump, Executive Vice President of Things That Go Bump in the Night will be exclusively committed to mythical monsters and non-violent fables. “It’s a specialty area. The mythical beings we have under contract are a mixed bag. Some were once feared and respected, but their reputations have succumbed to over exposure.”

No cookie cutter approach here. Each client fable has their marketing campaign uniquely tailored for them. “Dracula is planning a major comeback with our help. We already have him set up with a speech therapist to lose the hokey Eastern European accent. More sex, less creepiness is our approach for this icon of horror.” Says J.R..

J.R. expects to have the Tooth Fairy under contract by the end of the year, and is negotiating with a number of female demons. “Succubus has approached us. She’s really looking for a complete image makeover. We’re thinking name change. Maybe ‘SuckYourBus,’ or ‘Linseed Lowhand,’ it’s up in the air for now.”

“Basically we’ll do whatever we have to do to get the gullible to keep believing in our clients, or if belief is nonexistent, to resurrect their reputation and image.” Says J.C. Hump, CFO and VP of Pagan god Refurbishment and the younger son. “Speaking of ‘resurrecting’, we’ve transformed the old dead, reborn, and almost extinct gods Tammuz, Horus, and Osiris into a boy band ‘The New Holy Trinity’.” J.C. adds. “They open in Las Vegas on the 25th and then go on tour in the Middle East during the Spring Solstice.”

Asked about that faded and somewhat jaded mandarin, Dromedary Hump explains: “Jesus of Nazareth has his own world wide PR team. Unfortunately between their child molesting, hate speechifying, politically untenable positions, and propensity for being money grubbing fakes in His name, they’ve been doing more harm than good.”

But, Mr. Hump has a nose for sniffing out opportunity. “We’ve talked informally. Jesus knows His credibility is practically shot and He’s losing followers by the millions to reason, science and intellect. I assured Him that if push comes to shove we’ll expand ‘The New Holy Trinity’ into a quartet, give Him top billing and call it something like ‘The Dead Man-Gods Four’. I think it’s just a matter of time before He comes around.”

Hump offered some inside details on his approach for the tarnished King of Kings’ image restoration: “We’d dump the mullet; do some reconstructive surgery on His hands and feet; a little nose work; trim the beard; full dental caps; change His symbol from an execution devise to a circumcised penis; quietly stop capitalizing references to him. It’d be a hard sell, but if he can hold a tune old women and young boys will be throwing their underwear at him in no time. Justin Bieber watch out!”

D. Waterfilled Hump & Son’s, Ltd. is a privately held limited liability corporation.
For more information, or to discuss resurrecting your mythical reputation contact:
D. Hump,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Catholic hierarchy in quandary over US Catholic attrition: Maybe they should ask an atheist

The National Catholic Reporter reports that “… Catholicism is experiencing the largest loss of faithful of any religious denomination in America.”

The reasons for this decline seems to elude the Catholic hierarchy. Could that be the same hierarchy that still believes in demonic possession? Go, figure.

While the Catholic leadership seem to be bamboozled by this and spend their time gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands over the exodus of the faithful; as an atheist I am able to better see the forest fore the trees. Why are they losing membership in America in spite of the influx of Hispanic immigrants who are overwhelmingly Catholic? Let me count the ways:

1. The Church's inane position on contraception: The pope’s claim that condoms contribute to AIDS is proof of blatant denial of reality and scientific truth. Meanwhile uncontrolled birth rates in 3rd world countries are sucking their resources dry, a recipe for global disaster. In thirty years the population of the planet is expected to double. Where will the already scare water necessary for this population explosion's existence come from? Continuing this absurd stance is tantamount to endorsing environmental and social disaster and the wholesale spread of famine and disease.

2. This bizarre fixation with genitalia: Whose penis is going into whom? What rights do women have over their own uterus? The condemnation of masturbation. The insistence on celibacy for priests. Declaring homosexuality to be a crime against god and an individual choice. It’s time to acknowledge that sex is part of life, part of the natural world, and not subject to supernaturalist control or dictates by men who use their penis only for urination … or are suppose to.

3. Institutionalized Hypocrisy: Not a single Nazi was ever excommunicated, yet the church excommunicate’s nuns who support women in the priesthood, or who report priestly misconduct; they threaten excommunication for politicians who support a woman’s right to choose. Is this “God’s justice”? It certainly isn’t Man’s.

Clergy wearing gold threaded dresses trimmed in ermine, and jewel encrusted hats that look like a psychotic went wild with a Bedazzler; gold chalices and solid gold crosses; all while people shell out money to the church they can ill afford to give up. Christ would be spinning in his grave over such finery if he ever existed, for is it not written that he said to his apostles when he sent them out to preach the Word: "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. (Luke 9:3). What’s wrong with this picture could be discerned by a reasonably astute twelve year old.
Meanwhile, as I write this, the Vatican’s bank is being investigated by Italian courts for money laundering. Already, the authorities have seized $30 million of the Vatican bank’s funds.

4. Enabling of Molesting priests: Cover-ups; insufficient action against those who perpetrated it or enabled it. Not a single excommunication for sexual misconduct or Church subterfuge to date. Not one powerful action that would purge those suspected of being perverts, or prevents the ordination of them. Again, as I write this, 10,000 pages of previously secret documents have been discovered that prove the Diocese of San Diego, California intentionally covered up known molestations by priests, and transferred them to other Diocese.

5. Superstitious nonsense: The gross foolishness of transubstantiation; of exorcism; of demonic possession; of bleeding statues and supernaturally empowered relics and bones; of miracles old and new. Only the weakest minds, the hardcore unquestioning, the core of the Church’s mostly aged faithful, still buy it. Educated youth are abandoning these absurdities in droves.

6. The Politicizing and foolishness of "sainthood”: Silly and archaic, it borders on polytheism. Mother Teresa endorsed pain as a glory to god and withheld pain meds from the dying. Is that the behavior of a saint? By whose definition of morality? A patient prays to an obscure dead nun, experiences cancer remission (while on chemo therapy and radiation) and suddenly the dead nun is working miracles and ready to be given goddess like status? Please. It's the 21st century. Only the feeble can still possibly believe this clap trap. Is it any wonder why the average age of the dedicated Catholic non-Hispanic church-goer is 50 years old?*

In short, the primitive dogma of Catholicism has become obsolete in the 20th/21st centuries. It’s time the Church adapt to the scientific age, come to reason. Time to drop the spooky nuttiness. Time to abandon the madness of dictating human’s sexual and reproductive behavior. Time to adjust their focus to more relevant issues of the era, and in meaningful ways, that directly enhance the lives of people in the real world. Catholic hierarchy you’ve been placed on notice; your parishioners are steadily moving toward reality, your best efforts to stem that tide not withstanding.

Of course, all this is wasted on those who have made careers as professional purveyors of superstion and as go betweens to a make believe spirit and the religiously infected. But who cares? Whether they adapt to a more reasoned modernist approach to morality and the real issues of life and human well being, or choose to remain mired in ancient ignorance and irrelevance -- it’s all good. After all, their losses are our gain.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

I may have been wrong about the Tea Party. Mea Culpa??

I've been rethinking my position. Maybe I've been too hard on the Tea Party (AKA Teabaggers).

  • Maybe Sarah Palin IS a great intellect, just taken out of context.

  • Maybe Delaware's O'Donnell is right that masturbation should be a crime and that the 1st amendment doesn't prevent government co-mingling with religion.

  • Maybe Ted Danz the congressional candidate from upstate NY who says a no marriage should be recognized as legal unless it was sanctified by a "RELIGIOUS UNION" has a point.

  • Perhaps Glenn Beck is right, that we need to put God back in our country.

  • Maybe a founder of the Tea Party who says a sitting congressman should be prevented from serving and ousted from his duly elected position because he is a Muslim, has a point.

  • Maybe churches who enjoy tax exemption SHOULD be allowed to promote one party over another from his pulpit and as a spokesman of God.

  • Maybe Jefferson, Madison and Adams really wanted this to be a Jesus following, Christ embracing Christian Nation, and that only through some subterfuge were their personal writings vehemently against both it and the Jesus as resurrected divinity doctrine. Maybe someone expunged all references to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit from the Constitution.

  • Maybe that other candidate from Delaware was right...that it WAS Hitler who coined the term "Separation of Church and State", and everyone who accepts such a concept "is a Nazi."

  • Perhaps the signs they hold depicting Obama as a terrorist, as Hitler, as an African witch doctor, and in white face really aren't expressions of bigotry and extremism. And maybe that email they circulate and signs they hold declaring him the"Anti-Christ" isn't so far fetched after all.

  • Maybe we do need more prayer in school, and more religious symbols on public property; and less study of Jefferson and the 1st amendment's Establishment Clause's intent in our public school books.
Maybe I was just plain mistaken in believing that the Tea Baggers are largely made up of under educated ditto heads, fringe right wing reactionairies, religious fanatics, hate filled and bigoted racist homophobic white trash. Maybe I was wrong; maybe I owe them an apology. Maybe ... but I fucking doubt it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

“Will the men of an unspoken religion praying in coach, please put away their prayer rugs and fasten their seat belts for take off.”

Country wide, affiliates of National Public Radio are in a tizzy trying not to lose membership funding during their Fall fund raising efforts. Apparently the fallout from the Juan Williams affair is doing just that.

I was among those who early on voiced their displeasure with NPR's decision to terminate Juan Williams. I emailed NHPR (New Hampshire Public Radio) and told them I was no longer going to be a paying member. The reply from the station’s program director Abby Goldstein, while defining a quasi-arms length relationship between NHPR and NPR, also included a boiler plate statement explaining (aka justifying) NPR's decision to terminate Williams’ employment. Bad decision on her part.

I'm damn tired of this Politically Correct knee-jerk reactionary nonsense. I'm especially tired of pretending that Islam isn't a world wide threat to peace. The words "Muslim terrorist" it seems must now be replaced by "extremist," or "religious extremist," or “religious fanatic” with no other term of specific religious affiliation; as though the word Muslim must be kept out of the equation. One may as well extract the "m" from E=mc2, and say it makes no difference to the formula. It does.

I'm fed up with the hypocrisy of people who likely share the exact same perspective Mr. Williams expressed re: men in Muslim garb at the airport or boarding his flight make him nervous.

  • Are we to deny the reality of the hundreds of terrorist attacks by fanatic Muslims for the sake of political correctness?

  • Are we to pretend that such people boarding our own flight would / should provoke no more concern or angst in us than would the 75 year old white woman in a wheel chair?

  • Is Mr. Williams’ honest statement, and his admission of the admittedly unfortunate feeling it provokes in him, grounds for dismissal? Can verbalizing it instead of keeping it internalized genuinely affect how he analyzes the news for NPR? Has his credibility been undermined by speaking truth?

This isn't about painting every Muslim with the broad brush of terrorist. They are not, and that is not what William's did. It's about using reason born of experience; about discerning a potential risk to one's well being as a result of learned threat. It's a basic instinct, key to human survival, for self preservation.

This isn't about which side of the political spectrum you are on, although the politically correct Far Left say it is and the nutty Far Right want it to be.

I'm a social liberal, a moderate Independent, and a person with enough honesty to know that to deny the feeling Williams described is either Political Correctness run amok, or gross denial of reality ... AKA stupidity. I won't support any organization that promotes either of those two alternatives; or one that punishes people who reject them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Close Encounters of the Religious Kind

I was startled when I opened the door and found Kdlgr standing there mouth agape and breathing hard. I hadn’t expected to see him back so soon, but there he was – beady eyed, a viscous slime dripping from his pie hole, his Rastafarian like head tendrils all askew; worked up and on the verge of hysteria.

“Kdlgr, you look terrible, what the heck happened?” I asked. “Hump, dude…I need a drink. Can I come in?” he rasped and clicked through clinched fangs.

I held the door wide; he ducked down and made his way to the living room, his green reptilian scaled eight foot tall frame collapsing hard into the brown leather recliner. I grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels and poured him a flower vase full, neat, just the way I knew he liked it. He slurped it down. I handed him the bottle. I figured it best to let him finish a second drink before I started to quiz him. He was a frightful mess.

I met Kdlgr in the Fall last year. He had just arrived on Earth and had an unfortunate incident with one of those three-hundred foot tall windmills recently erected the next town over. Four miles, and seven minutes later I had a house guest. He was dripping a nasty looking fluid from a gash in his thorax. Mrs. Hump and I patched him up. He explained that he was a respected social scientist on his planet. His mission was to become familiar with Earth culture. The approach: to blend in, become as inconspicuous as possible, and meet as many humans as he could on a one-on-one basis all the while keeping as low profile as a reptilian giant alien can.

As I had expected that wasn’t working for him.

His eyes were a little glazed now, and his breathing more controlled but still labored. He took another long gulp of Jack and started spilling his guts … figuratively this time.

“Hump, it was horrible.” He croaked.
“Start from the beginning, and slowly.” I replied.
He took a deep breath. “So I was in disguise, you know… the trench coat and fake beard you lent me. Your people hardly gave me a second glance. I made my way down the East Coast; the places Mapquest calls Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey…. Oh, by the way, New Jersey smells like the sphincter of a Galeneese dipdophoil worm.” I nodded in concurrence.
“Anyway, things were fine. I met many intelligent people, gathered much data about your culture, history, scientific advancements and what you call fornicating. Then I made my way to a place called Missishitty.

“Uh, that’s Mississippi.” I corrected him.

“Yes, Mississippi. I came across this white building; walked in and sat among the occupants. They had their eyes closed and were all waving their arms in the air while some guy with white puffy hair urged them on. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Their language was like a hybrid of Hycatefic and gutter Romelian but made less sense. Next thing you know they were flopping to the floor, falling over each other. I was scared there was a radiation leak in my beaferl pack, it was that bad.”

“Ah! Ok, they are Pentecostals. It’s a Christian religious sect.” I explained, recognizing the bizarre antics.

“Yeah, whatever.” He dismissed my interruption and went on stopping just long enough to finish the third vase of Jack. “I was scared, and got up to leave. But before I could get out they surrounded me making these weird sounds. One of them told me about this god thing; that it created life on your planet in the past 6,000 years; that it made all humans in its image.” He paused – “No offense Hump, but this god must be one ugly motherfucker.” I nodded.

“Anyway. The guy with the white puffy hair and gold chains told me about how this god tortured his own offspring to death and that he did it for ME!!. That freaked me out, but then things started to get really bad, Hump. Next thing you know they ripped off my trench coat, and attempted to take my pressurized suit off. I wasn’t about to show my bindlegh to a bunch of crazed Earthlings. When I tried to stop them, they grabbed me and carried me over to this pool of H2O and were about to throw me in, mumbling something about washing away my sins.”

I winced. Mrs. Hump and I found out the hard way last year when we attempted to wash Kdlgr’s wounds that H2O is to him what sulfuric acid is to human flesh.

“Jesus Christ, then what happened??” I blurted out.
“DON’T USE THAT NAME, IT SCARES THE PDLKT OUT OF ME.” He roared back, almost jumping out of the chair.

He went on. “Well, I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I mean, my very essence was at stake. Honest Hump, I couldn’t think of anything else to do.” He stammered, sounding like a guilty kid ready to confess sticking a firecracker up a frog’s ass.

“What?? What did you do Kdlgr?” I cringed, and waited for the shoe to drop.

“The unthinkable, Hump the unthinkable!!! I killed them all and ate their carbon based life forms.” he blurted out.

I fell back into my chair, took a long draught from my Grey Goose martini with three olives, and let out a deep sigh. “Whew, Kdlgr, you scared the shit outta me. For a second there I thought you were going to tell me you converted.”
Talk about close encounters.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Please bow & empty your head for Reverend Bugger’s invocation.”

Whether at a graduation ceremony or some solemn public gathering it’s not uncommon for a clergyman to be invited to deliver an invocation to launch the event. Although they may exist, I have yet to hear one that is anything more than the shaman calling upon a magical spirit to bless the assembly, and other wise invoke his/its supernatural guidance.

Invocations sometimes precede governmental sessions. While they are suppose to be generic, the occasional fanatical pulpiteer will thrust his preferred deity’s name into the script in violation of the 1st amendment prohibition on the endorsement of a specific religion by the government. The fact that some of the attendees don’t recognize said deity and find it exclusionary, or even offensive, is lost on the Bible thumper. More likely, the sky pilot couldn’t care less if it irks some, perceiving it as his divinely directed duty to shove his god down peoples’ throats welcome or not.

Of course, if the invocation is delivered by a pagan , AKA non-Abrahamic religionist (which happens about as frequently as Halley’s Comet, albeit, it’s far too often if you ask the followers of the predominant faith), and the deity mentioned happens to be one with four arms and an elephant’s trunk, you can be assured the howls of disgust and the cry of “blasphemy!” would be deafening. This is never perceived as hypocrisy by the offended shepherds and sheep of the one “true” faith.

This sectarian tradition isn’t disappearing any time soon in the US. After all, it would be political suicide for a public official to come out against religious invocations. But this doesn’t mean religionists have to own the right to deliver invocations at public events by default. Atheist activists have the opportunity, indeed the duty, to get onboard the invocation train.

What would an atheist’s invocation sound like? How about an appeal to reason; a wish for respect for attendees’ opposing positions; an imploration for community, civility, compromise, goodwill, empathy and logical discourse? All of those things are grounded in realism and foundational to productive discourse. It’s what the thinking in an advanced society do.

A word of advice: unless your invocation precedes an atheist meeting you’ll want to suppress the urge to blurt out - "Thanks for coming. I have no supernatural horse hockey to feed you as though you are a herd of mindless medieval peasants. I have too much respect for your intellect. So, let's get on with reality and the event." After all, you’ll want to be invited back hopefully before Halley ’s Comet’s next appearance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Thing behind the curtain & It’s self appointed press secretaries

Leave reality behind for a moment and allow yourself a bizarre flight of fantasy.
Imagine that the President of the United States, arguably the most powerful man on the planet, has never been seen. He never ran for office, and was never elected by official ballot. No one has ever personally met him. He never meets with foreign officials. He never speaks publicly. He never appears in person, in pictures, or on TV, the radio, or the internet. He is said to have written, or at least “inspired” a book to be written, that defines his political positions and vision for the nation; albeit, the original text has never been seen only redacted and reshuffled copies of the original manuscript exist.

And instead of having just one press secretary to interpret his book of policies, issue his edicts, explain his positions, and define his objectives he has thousands upon thousands of self appointed spokesmen-spin doctors speaking on his behalf. Many if not most of their interpretations and explanations are in diametric opposition to some of their fellow spokesmen’s understandings and pronouncements. Each of them accuses the other of being false spokesmen, or “not true press secretaries.”

The result would best be described as chaos. It wouldn’t take long for the American public to become disillusioned and completely dismissive of the nation’s leader and his self-appointed quasi-official mouthpieces. Surely calls for impeachment would follow; people would be on the verge of revolution; the heads of the soothsayer spokesmen would roll in the streets. Shouts of “Mr. President show yourself and speak to us directly! Prove you are who your spin doctors say you are, or which one they say you are if you ‘are’ at all! Resolve the confusion and conflicts among your official un-official professors once and for all!” would ring in every city, town, village and hamlet in the nation.

Absurd you say? Who could imagine such a thing, or allow it to happen? How anyone could give that president or his “ministers of spin” any credibility, much less entrust him or them to guide their lives for even a moment much less a four or eight year term is simply implausible.

And yet the vast majority of Americans, and billions of people around the world, not only endure such a construct, they endorse it, embrace it, couldn’t conceive of existence any other way. Not just for four or eight years, but for their entire lives. Just substitute the word “God” for the title “President,” and “Clergy” for his thousands of press secretary minions and what I described in my hypothetical construct becomes as real and as natural as a priest’s erection at a choirboys’ rehearsal.

One would think (if in deed one can think at all) that when your invisible divine being needs an army of contradicting spokesmen spin doctors all of whom claim to be speaking for it, you can pretty much figure the reclusive and inscrutable divine thing they profess to speak for is either senile and confused, mute and in a coma, or non-existent.

But no. Instead the faithful take sides. They form into competing parties that proclaim THEIRS to be the one true “party of god”; THEIR spokesmen best represents THEIR god’s / gods’ wishes. THEY represent the true invisible silent god, the others worship a false invisible silent god and follow the interpretation of false prophet / not a true believer spokesmen.

Sound crazy? It is. It’s the stuff of fantasy stories like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, or Gulliver’s Travels. Stories that if they were real places with real people would be a nightmarish existence where fiction is taken as fact, lies accepted as truth, confusion and contradiction perceived as clarity and cohesion, edicts of genocide and violent punishment perceived as just, good and loving.

If forced to live in such a world I would do what I do now - use every opportunity I had to proclaim: “Pay no attention to the thing behind the curtain, it does not exist; and the one speaking in front of the curtain is full of shit.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Catholic Church and Fideism

Recently a Catholic reader said this about my dismissal of theists as blind believers, lemmings, and unthinking purveyors of mindless platitudes: “… we Catholics are also against fideism.”
For those not familiar with the term:

fideism –noun
- exclusive reliance in religious matters upon faith, with consequent rejection of appeals to science or philosophy.
- a philosophical view extolling theological faith by making it the ultimate criterion of truth and minimizing the power of reason to know religious truths.

In short when it comes to religious matters fideism implys all you need is faith, reason need not apply.

So, while the Catholic Church has been willing to allow a certain degree of reason to be mixed with it’s blind faith such as finally accepting evolutionary theory (with certain caveats) and ultimately rejecting the geocentric model of the universe-- it is hardly anti-fideist . They may be perceived as more progressive than some other denominations of Christianity, and certainly Islam; but I wouldn’t call anything about Catholicism “reasoned.”

Since the existence of god or the supernatural has never been demonstrated by objective reasoning, in spite of the failed attempts by Aquinas, to continue to maintain that reason can prove god’s existence is plain Catholic self delusion. Reason that is reduced to subjective absurdity, distorted by the infusion of faith (i.e. “the proof of god is all around you.”) is not “reason” anymore so than calling astrology a science or calling a faith healer a medical professional.

Unless and until theistic philosophies / belief systems retain the fundamental precepts of religion that are good and not rooted in supernatural, and abandon those things that are in diametric opposition to reason, then reason will always be the enemy of faith, as Martin Luther said.
What kind of things? For starters things like saying condoms spread AIDS and their use is in opposition to some god’s will; masturbation is a “sin” ; homosexuality is a choice and a “sin”; dead things reanimate; the “trinity” is real; proffering that a man committing suicide repays the trespasses or takes away the imaginary sins of others; that life after death is real; that torture for an eternity for non-belief is genuine; that nonbelievers are immoral at face; that man is here for a greater “purpose” than are any other species of plant or animal life; indeed any belief in the supernatural.

None of those things permit reason to displace the illogic and fantasy necessary to retain ones religious belief or a religion's dogma. All of them reject scientific proofs, objective reasoning, history, zoology, cumulative secular knowledge, advances in morality, prima fascia statistical and observable evidence and common sense.

To suggest that any religion, including Catholicism, promotes reason as equal to or even approaching par with faith is simple self delusion. It’s an attempt to co-opt reason as a way to justify their blind following of myth, to establish Catholicism as a higher order of Christianity versus Protestantism. If Catholics read the bible in its entirety (which the majority do not), and without Catholic apologetic sites to reinterpret and thus smooth its obscene and unreasoned acts in an effort to transform them, make their “context” seem reasoned and palatable -- their reason would overwhelm their faith. Catholicism would dissolve even faster than it is now in the industrialized world.

No, sorry -- saying Catholicism opposes fideism is simply ignoring the facts of what superstitious belief demands of its adherents. The Catholic Church HAS to discredit reason in order to stay viable, just like any other religion, sect, or cult… that they pay reason lip service in their doctrine of pure faith is simply a shell game to get believers to accept they aren’t mindless unthinking zombies. But, they are.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Breaking the “We promote Family Values” Code

Mrs. Hump and I were sipping coffee and watching the morning news when a new car dealership commercial came on. Since car and furniture commercials are all we seem to get here, having a new one to start our day wasn’t a real attention grabber. That is until I heard the dealer proudly announce the fact that their dealership was “built on family values.”

“Family values?” The term is something of an enigma. I’m not privy to what the precise definition is, and I certainly haven’t the vaguest idea of how a business can be “built” on family values. Whatever it’s meaning apparently it is understood only by those to whom the term “family values” is like a secret handshake, a code word, a wink and a nod to some shared doctrine.

Over the past twenty-five years or so, Evangelical fundies / the Ultra-Conservative Christian Right seems to have used the term to identify who is with ‘em and who is agin ‘em. Evidently folks like defrocked Rev. Ted Haggard, soon to be defrocked Bishop Eddie Long, thrice married Newt Gingrich, playboy Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana), airport men’s room limbo king Larry Craig (R-Idaho), prescription druggie Rush Limbaugh and the pedophile protecting Pope endorse and promote family values. Meanwhile people like Barney Frank (D-MA), Ellen DeGeneres, President Obama, Christopher Hitchens, and everyone who supports equal rights for gays and a women’s right to choose are intent on devaluing if not destroying family values.

I’m used to seeing the term applied liberally in campaign ads run by Republican candidates. Apparently the passing of the health care bill, the recession, the unemployment rate, illegal aliens, the 911 attacks, hurricanes and floods are all attributable to the erosion of family values. Who knew?

I hear the term drip from the greasy lips of evangelical preachers and post-polygamy Mormons who have no problem crossing the line of church and state separation, and investing church millions trying to overturn laws in states in which they don’t even reside.

From what I can determine the rise of atheism, decline of religiosity, the push toward stem cell research, acceptance of evolutionary theory, inoculating children against polio, the use of birth control, aborting a fetus that was the product of rape or incest, opposition to the war in Iraq, legalization of gay marriage and rampant unrestrained masturbation has contributed to the demise of family values. Is it any wonder Christian families are divorcing in record numbers.

What the family values proponents agenda has to do with your family, my family, my son’s family, my neighbors’ families, or anyone’s family can only be conceived in the fevered minds of religionist nuts. It appears that they perceive any behavior not specifically endorsed by their ancient book of fables as an affront to their families’ very survival. It seems how they raise and discipline their kids; what they watch on the tube or view on the internet; how much time they spend together; what books they read and what fantasy they believe in, is somehow degraded, devalued, negatively impacted by those of us who do not share their politics, religious precepts, sexual practices or concept of what family values means.

I expect the family values hypocrisy mania to remain the war cry of Teabaggers, Christian theocrats and Conservative fear mongers for years to come. That it has now become a business marketing tool however comes as a complete surprise. How long before “Our chickens were raised with Family Values” becomes a KFC motto to get more god fearing Republican whackos to eat their buckets of deep fried fowl?

The next time that car dealership commercial airs, I’m going to catch its name and send them an email. I’ll ask that since their dealership was built on family values they probably don’t want contraceptive using couples, atheists, gay & women’s rights advocates or masturbators as clients lest it undermine their family’s longevity or company’s stability. I‘d hate to make a trip down there for nothing.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

“... one nation, under Jesus, with liberty and justice for all Christians”

A new nationwide umbrella non-profit organization dedicated to restoring our Nation to the original Christian values so that the silencing of Christians will no longer be politically correct.

Christian Nation Foundation will reclaim and restore our nation's Christian heritage and values by acting as an umbrella organization for all like-minded Americans of all faiths in the cultural war against secular progressives.

Christian Nation PAC, a political action committee, will bring the necessary and persuasive action so that no one will ever believe America is in a post-Christian era.

The above is an extract from Christian Nation . While they claim they do not seek to make Christianity the state religion, somehow I’m not reassured, especially since they have decided to ignore and distort historical fact and use rhetoric that would lead the unknowing (or easily led) to believe Christianity is a put upon minority in jeopardy of being eradicated. If only it were so.

A Google search for “Christian nation” reveals thousands of Christian nation endorsing sites, blogs, and religious pundits’ perspectives. Even the Catholics, who by certain Protestant sect standards aren’t even true Christians, get into the act: “Our constitutional legal system is still based on the Jewish/Christian Bible, not the Koran or other holy book.”

They offer no support for that assertion. How could they?… there is none. If there were a prohibition against slavery in the bible; or perhaps a guarantee of equal rights for women; if genocide weren’t endorsed by the bible, but condemned; if blasphemy, homosexuality, and touching an attackers genitals weren't punishable by death or amputation; if the bible didn’t council stoning unruly children to death; or didn’t demand fealty to only one god … well, then perhaps then they could claim the Constitution parallels the Jewish/Christian bible. The legal precepts and prescriptions for punishment of the Bible couldn’t be further from US Constitutional law.

In fact the constitutional legal system is based on Common Law which has its roots in pre-Christian 5th century Britain. Christianity did not come to Britain until the 7th century. Jefferson knew this, and wrote about it in a letter to T. Cooper on February 10, 1814.

But none of this means anything to the Christian majority. They are as willing to turn a blind eye to historical fact and accept distortion and myth in its stead as they are willing to reject scientific reality and whole heartedly accept supernatural magic stories for the formation of the universe and life on Earth.

Why should we care about this Christian Nation issue? After all, it’s those Muslims who are seeking to “Islamize” America, right? Here’s why:
“Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the “State of the First Amendment 2007” national survey released Sept. 11, [2007 ]by the First Amendment Center.”

It’s not just a handful of whackos like Hannity, Beck, Palin, and a few Bible belt congressmen. Sixty-five percent! That's 195 million of 300 million Americans who are confused, misguided, uneducated, or just plain wrongheaded.

In comparison even if 100% of Muslims in the US wanted Shariah law, or were hell bent on converting America to Islam, they would represent only 2.5 million / less than 1% of the population of the US.

Fanatic and ignorant religionists and religionists with an agenda are dangerous, no matter what prophet or man-god they follow or worship. We must be on guard against them in any form. But with the growth of secularism in this country; with the new found courage and openness of atheists to challenge religious intrusion into our lives and government; with our unwillingness to accept the role of 2nd class citizens, Christians are becoming scared.

They are scared that their delusion is being marginalized. They are scared that people who once were satisfied hiding in the closet to avoid persecution are gaining equal rights, equal status with “normal folk.” They are scared that the rejection of archaic male dominated Biblical prohibitions and antiquated myths will cause it all to be discarded on the giant trash heap of rejected religious doctrine.

That fear is manifesting itself in a resurgence of Christian Nationalism, Christian Non-think; Christian Propaganda; and Christian Historical Revisionism that shows no sign of abating. Turn a blind eye to it at your peril. If you aren’t already a paying member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State then repeat after me: “…one nation, under Jesus, with liberty and justice for all Christians.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Hideous Grind of Life; the Wondrous Effect of Faith.

Last week I received the following message from a facebook friend:

“A Catholic high school classmate of mine posted this: ‘The only way to find happiness in the grind of life is by faith. A faith-filled life means all the difference in how we view everything around us. It affects our attitudes towards people, toward circumstances, toward ourselves. Only then do our feet become swift to do what is right.’ How would you counter this?”

My reply follows, revised and extended:

It's unfortunate that some people are so shallow, their lives so unfulfilling, their grasp on reality so loose, and their willingness to surrender their personal responsibility for morality and ethics to an imaginary being is so strong; and that is precisely what that childlike testimony of your friend expresses. That he disparages life as a “grind” as oppose to a marvelous and wonderful experience to be savored and enjoyed to its fullest all by itself, is the mindset of so many Christians whose pained existence and/or perspective on life as just god's waiting room causes them to seek escape into the fantasy realm of religion.

Did Mother Teresa's faith influence her "attitude toward people?" Indeed it did. And it caused her to glorify the pain of her patients as "god's gift, a blessing.” As a result her order withheld pain medication that would have eased the misery of her patients in their final weeks, days and hours. This in spite of the millions of dollars her order amassed. Somehow I don't see that as a good attitude towards people, or doing what is right by any measure of reasoned thinking. Your friend will likely rationalize that to have been a wonderful thing, for such is the affect of faith on the mind.

A “Faith-Filled Life” effects how religionists view everything. Some faithful view the unnecessary death of a child caused by parents withholding medication in favor of prayer as "God's Will." Others view competing religions as from the devil and provoke hatred and inspire terror by mindless acts of book burning for Jesus. Others encourage the spread of AIDS among third world peoples by rejecting the effectiveness of condoms and the reality of the human sex drive. Still more reject scientific evidence and proofs of the natural world- passing along the foolishness and intellectually crippling their children - because it contradicts an ancient myth written by Bronze Age misogynists.

Faith causes some people to fly airplanes into buildings; blow up clinics; discriminate against their fellow human beings for their sexual preference; mutilate genitals; kill apostates; justify sexism; disparage all other beliefs or lack there of because THEIR faith is the "true" faith and the only way to properly live and die.

Yes, it takes the expectation of a supernatural reward for them to be moved to "do what is right." That or their "doing what's right" is motivated by the proselytizing agenda of their imagined man-god or church shaman. Their sense of right is not out of pure empathy, compassion and humanity. To them it can’t exist without make-believe. The fact that empathy exists in all humans, save sociopaths, is lost on them. No, only when their minds are willingly vacated of all personal responsibility and the void filled by make believe do their “feet become swift” to do the right thing. That is what they call happiness, and doing what's right; it’s what I call zombie like denial of reality and crediting natural human emotion to the supernatural.

We the thinking can do what’s right, and we do. We can enjoy life to its fullest and experience happiness, and we do. And we do it without the fallacy of life after death rewards, the mind-numbing drug of religious delusion, or attributing our charity, happiness and personal success to a boogie man.

But all this will be lost on the religiously deluded, your friend included. The ignorance of faith is indeed bliss to them. They cannot see beyond what they have been programmed to see ... and that never included questioning their belief, or challenging their tiresome platitudes.
[[ Thanks to Generosa for the inspiration for this posting]]

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I’m not a Liberal: I’ll let Justice Stephen Breyer explain

On ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said that he's not prepared to conclude that -- in the internet age -- the First Amendment condones Koran burning. Here’s his reasoning:

“[Justice Oliver Wendell] Holmes said it [free speech] doesn’t mean you can shout 'fire' in a crowded theater,” “Well, what is it? Why? Because people will be trampled to death. And what is the crowded theater today? What is the being trampled to death?”

In essence, Justice Breyer is saying that the danger posed by burning the Koran is as clear and present a danger as is falsely alarming a crowd of people, enclosed in a structure, that their life and limb are in imminent danger thus causing uncontrolled panic and injury in an effort to escape the nonexistent danger.

This presents a number of problems for me as a moderate. First, is it only the Koran that should be so protected by truncating the first amendment’s protection of free speech? Is it only because the psyche of some number of Muslim fundamentalists represents some imminent danger, or would the holy scriptures of Christianity, Judaism, LDS, Hinduism, or the Buddhist texts, et al be equally protected? If not, does that mean that only those who are so religiously fanatic as to be driven to knowingly cause mayhem are due this special book protection?

If so, what about those of us who will fly into a violent murderous frenzy should anyone dare burn a copy of “god is NOT Great,” “Origin of Species,” or “The God Virus?” Will those books be protected, and their burning not be allowed as free speech? Or because they were written by men of reason are they exempt from such protection? Or is it because atheists have no history of mass hysteria over stupid or unreasoned acts that our favored books need not be protected?

How does that work in a nation of equal protection under the law? How does anyone not see that as providing special treatment to a class of people just because their mentality is such that they can justify violence in response to an act of non-violent expression?

Shouting fire in a crowded theater is not protected by the 1st amendment because the implication of danger is equal to all the unwilling participants in that theater regardless of their age, gender, race, nationality, religious belief or no belief. Additionally, and most importantly, the danger is not caused by a mental construct willingly embraced by voluntary adherents capable of controlling their reactions. The danger is a result of a tangible and objectively observable reality of the fear of uncontrolled fire and the human drive for self preservation. It’s instinctual.

I’ve agreed with Justice Breyer’s decisions about as often as not. But his liberal interpretation of the 1st amendment vis-a-vis free speech is more than a slippery slope. It’s like roller skating blindly on the edge of a very deep chasm. In his willingness to trade a little of our freedom for a little safety he denigrates the very meaning of the 1st amendment. It isn’t meant to protect speech that thinking people or non-thinking people approve of, it’s meant to protect speech that is abhorrent to thinking people and non-thinking people alike. I don’t want that protection undermined.

My politics tends toward liberalism on social issues, albeit, I’m more comfortable calling myself a Moderate. I’ve often thought about why I could never identify with liberals. Justice Breyer’s position on the 1st amendment’s freedom of speech helped reminded me why.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And the Theists said: “Let there be Hell on Earth.”

Nine years ago today a cell of Muslim fanatics flew airplanes into buildings in NYC, Washington, D.C. and into the ground in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3000 Americans were consumed in the flames of a man made hell. While a singular event that Americans will never, should never forget - creating hell on Earth has been the trade mark of religionists for millenniums. Fire is the stock and trade of religionists..

Some of the earliest pagan religions burned their human victims alive. A super heated bronze statue of the god Moloch (AKA Molech) was used by his adherents to burn alive selected first born infants each year to bring good crops and ensure fertility of the people. Mercifully, drums were beaten so the cries of the infants were drowned out and the parents of the sacrificed didn’t have to hear their screams of anguish.

Fire was the element of choice during the Spanish Inquisition to force confessions from heretics. It was used to slowly roast the Templars, Cathars, Jewish convert backsliders, Christian dissidents, and enemies of the faith real, perceived or invented.

The pogroms of Christian anti-Semites throughout Germany, Russia, and Eastern Europe found fire to be an effective cleansing agent, when applied liberally to Jewish villages and enclaves.

For five centuries the screams of men and women declared witches by the faithful reverberated across Europe and colonial America as flames charred their flesh. It continues to this day as Africans embrace Christian tradition, abide by God’s words in Exodus 22:18, and seek out their own witches to roast.

Whenever an insult to their imaginary god or pedophile prophet is perceived, Muslims the world over flick their Bics to burn American and Israeli flags and effigies of Western political figures.

Devout Christians in the South after the Civil War found that a wooden cross soaked in a flammable substance, and burned at night on the property of targeted blacks and Jews was, and still is an effective terrorist tactic. Plus, it casts a lovely light upon the lynched.

Christians discovered early on that at 451 degrees Fahrenheit the paper of books that challenged Christian doctrine, offered alternative answers to “biblical science,” entertained children with tales of make believe wizards, or was otherwise deemed evil or offensive to God and his devoted minions - burned rather nicely. Sometimes the volume was chained to the leg of its author before both were reduced to ashes. Fortunately, plastics melt at a slightly lower temperature making the burning of cassette tapes, vinyl records, CDs and DVDs much easier for today’s zealous faithful to exercise their flaming rituals.

Yes, religionists have always been drawn to fire like mindless moths. Christians say fire represents purity and light and is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Funny how at the same time fire is also the torture method of choice in that mythical horrific place their god invented to punish non-believers for an eternity. What’s not funny or mythical, is the reality that religionists have been causing Hell on Earth for centuries, with no end in sight. For as long as relgions exist the inferno will rage on.
If a Satan existed, it would be carrying a cross or a Koran, quoting scripture, claiming the exclusive "Truth," and using flame to underscore its devotion. To paraphrase Pogo, an old comic strip character: Religionists have met Satan... and he is them.