Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Those Damn Arrogant Atheists!

I recently joined a new facebook page entitled "Atheism - we believe in ourselves." I don’t join every facebook atheist group, but I like to give support to facebook friends who invite me, or who start a page. I also am not crazy about the use of the word "believe" in the name, but I won't push the point.

One member of the group posted this: "Its self centered and unenlightened to say one believes in oneself."

I found this a rather silly comment. What? -- Is it more enlightened to believe in a Sky Buddy who manipulates your life and promises you eternal existence after death? If not, what's the alternative to belief in oneself -- dependence on others to manage your life for you? People who do not believe in themselves lack self esteem; lack independence; lack self reliance; never take risks that could advance their career, or give them a competitive advantage in life or any endeavor.

In discussing this in another atheist forum one member said this: "... announcing to believers [in his very Catholic country the Philippines] that one believes in oneself as opposed to an invisible being in the sky, it simply comes across as putting one's self over God. It is therefore to be expected that (some) believers will find it arrogant and self-centered ..."

Do we not put ourselves over all imaginary beings? I know I do. Do we need to be ashamed of that? I’m not, couldn’t be more proud of it. And if theists find us arrogant in our acceptance of reality over superstition and open dismissal of their delusion do we need to concern ourselves about it? Can’t see why. I could understand that being the case fifty or one-hundred years ago, or during the Spanish Inquisition, but not now. Not any more.

I'm unconcerned about bruising the sensibilities of those who prefer we remain contrite in our acceptence of reality and reason, or that we remain invisible to the theist majority. We must embrace confrontation. If it wasn't for Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris, Ray, and others who have kicked wide the door and said "Enough!" to false respect for theist beliefs, to religious dominance, to salving theists’ fragile sensibilities, we'd all be pretending to be believers. I doubt I could even have this forum.

The degree of religiosity in the Philippines, I dare say, is no worse than the degree of religiosity in certain parts of the US. Mississippi, the most religious state in the union, has 96% believers according to the Pew Forum poll. Yet, there are a number of groups down there who openly declare their atheism, challenge fundamentalist intrusions across the line of church state separation, and are quite vocal. Yep, they are probably perceived as arrogant by their believing neighbours, especially given their "book larnin" and godless rationality. Good!

Yes, I put myself over gods, all of them. Yes, I have complete confidence in my ability to manage my life without incorporeal nonsense. No, I won’t hide my rejection of belief in a closet, or fret over my presumed “arrogance” that is born of self-confidence, education, self-reliance, and respect for reality. Besides, what’s more arrogant than the ignorance of faith in the great “Truth” to which each religion stakes claim?

If my “in your face” demeanour causes religionists angst -- too damn bad. If it incites them to something more -- bring it on.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Right & Wrong: Chastised By a Xtian, Hump Exposes a Theist Blind Spot

This email to Eternal Earth-Bound Pets by an irate defender of the faithful needs no introduction:

“You should be ashamed of yourselves!!! You are not providing a service, you are nothing but scam artists playing on peoples fears.” …

“Your ‘service’ is comprised of atheists, correct? Atheists do not believe in the Rapture, correct? So you know perfectly well you are taking people's money strictly on their fears of leaving their pets behind.

“… It angers me that you are taking advantage of people to supplement your income. I'm angry because there seem to be so many people who are easy targets, those who do not stop long enough to think about what they're doing.” … “ Surely you can agree … Christian or atheist, this is wrong.”

My response:

Dear Lisalf,

If I understand you correctly, Lisalf, in order to "target" people one must first be a believer.

You see, I wonder how many of these letters you've written to Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, Benny Hinn, or any of the thousands of churches, pastors or priests to whom each parishioner is an "easy target" and has been for centuries. Picking their pockets, bludgeoning them with guilt, leading them to believe their donations feather their nests in heaven, and giving them false hope in exchange for a prayer offering. Indeed, the less affluent one is, the greater percentage of their income is lifted from them; in spite of even impoverished conditions.

These believer shaman don't just supplement their income from the pockets of their faithful flock, it is their very livelihood. They feed at the trough day in and day out at the expense of the willingly lead ... the fearful and the hopeful. And yet, what does the guilt coerced contributor get in exchange? A guarantee of salvation? A promise of eternal life? Assurance of life in the stratosphere with furry animals and wings on their shoulder blades? These promises, these assurances, have the same effect as the promise of a ride across the Styx … and even then the dead must pay Charon, cash, to reach the Underworld.

I wonder Lisalf, how many of these letters have you written to these purveyors of myth for money? Is it just the thinking and un-indoctrinated to fable for whom you hold such antipathy and scorn, such adamant accusation of greed and mental extortion? Or do you write letters to Peter Popoff, and the Pope's treasurer, suggesting that they too know neither right from wrong? No need to reply. We both know the answer to that.

That you fail to see the value of my service, a genuine, real, here and now reality upon which a person can find hard and fast contractual commitment; yet readily see a value in the hallelujah shouting, the falsely pious ecstatic shaking and speaking in tongues, and the telling of ancient tales that of themselves are fear inducing not-so-veiled threats that have played on people's fears for millenniums -- speaks to a rather singular and narrow perspective. A narrow perspective you owe to those who have shunned reason and reality, and who profit from it.

Yours in reason,
Creator / Co-Owner Eternal Earth-Bound Pets

Monday, February 15, 2010

Crazy Xtian Emails

The past few days have been rather exciting. Eternal Earth-Bound Pets business and my book have been receiving world wide notoriety. The Bloomberg News, Business Week magazine, AOL News, print media across the country, and just about every news source and blog on the net has been running our story.

As a result the hits on the website went through the roof … 6,000+ a day. Emails to Eternal Earth-Bound were flooding in, and still are. On Sunday we were receiving emails at a rate of one every 10-15 seconds! Most of them are from atheists congratulating us on a great concept and applying for pet rescuer positions. Others are from Christians. The most infected of the Jesus worshipping crowd decided to let us have a piece of their mind. In so doing I fear they left very little of their minds for themselves, having so little of it to spare.

So I thought I’d share a few of their thoughts (I’m being generous with the term “thought”) for your reading pleasure. All typos are left in tact. Names and email addresses are genuine. I won’t include my responses to them (everyone gets a response) -- I’ll just let you imagine your own. Enjoy.

If, as I understand it, atheists do not believe in such matters as do Christians, why would you even consider having a web site and service like this? Does that allude to the fact that you do, in some minimal way, believe? … To me, to have a business like this gives credence to the fact that you believe that the rapture will happen. So, why profess to be an atheist? Just looking for some enlightenment! Maybe I do not completely understand what an atheist is. Thanks!
[ Hump note: This is a reoccurring theme. It seems some Xtians can’t comprehend that you don’t have to be a believer in Bigfoot to offer Bigfoot believers insurance against Bigfoot damage to their homes. It’s too deep a concept, or perhaps they figure only their theist shaman are entitled to their money for doing nothing.]

Where did you ever get the idea pets do not have souls? Have you ever heard DOG is GOD spelled backwards? Your organization is a joke. I wouldn't leave my dog or any pet with such ignorant individuals. I would be more concerned with your daughters doing the football team if they have no one to answer to. Please, don't tell me they have been raised right and would never do that. How nieve! God please you. mg
[Hump note: I came to the conclusion this guy’s daughter and god are of the female canine variety. But then, I’m “nieve,” so what do I know? ]

I was initially wondering why someone who is sure there is no God could ethically charge for the service they are offering? Don't you honestly believe you are bilking professing Christians out of what is albeit not a princely sum, but nonetheless an amount for which you don't believe you will ever provide any service? Your FAQ's did provide the disclaimer that you could be wrong, so I'll grant you that you've left yourselves an out. So now my question (other than why would a Christian who believed in the rapture not also believe that God could manage taking care of their pets?) is this: How will you know when and if the Rapture has occurred, since your inclination would be to believe any expanantion other than that God had removed all of His followers from the face of the earth?
Dan Adams
[Hump note; Once again that “How can a non-believer offer this service?” As for how will we know if the rapture happens -- can you imagine not noticing 1 billion Xtians missing from the planet in the blink of an eye? Hell, just by the increase in the average IQ of the remaining Earthly occupants we’d know the rapture occurred.]

People have actually sent you money? You have actually taken it? Wonders never cease. Barnum was right. But what a bunch of cynical opportunists you are. And you pass yourselves off as normal people who love their families and so forth. Humbug. Why didn't you set it up as a multi-level Ponzi scheme so you could make some real money? Please don't email me back. I don't want to have to wash my computer's hard drive out with soap.
[Hump note: The concept of spray disinfectant hasn’t reached her section of Arkansas yet. So naturally I emailed her back. That ened that. Must have been too much Irish Spring in the mother board.]

Are you for real? You think that God does not accept animals into his Kingdom. You are mistaken. These animals were created by God Almighty. God has promised me my puppies would go up in the Rapture with me. When the Rapture occurs terrible catasrophic events will start the 7 year Tribulation. You will not have time to care for pets. You will be running into the Mountains,trying to escape all the hell thats coming to planet earth. God speaks to his holy people. Gods judgement has started the countdown. You still have time to Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord & Savior. Time is short. Jesus died for the sins of the world. What if you are wrong saying there is no God and you end up in Hell. That would of been your fault. Because God gives us a free will to live for him or Satan. I pray you make the right decision. I will pray for you.
[ Hump note: Immediately following the reading of this email I locked my doors and loaded a gun.]

If the rapture were to happen would you believe then? If no what do you think could have happened. If yes, then what are you planning on doing? Do you have any family members that do believe that would then cause you to be in mourning and unable to care for the pets in the chaos? Melyssa
[Hump note: Another reoccurring theme, the “... would you believe THEN?!” question.
Uh, well ... if Dracula knocked on your door, turned into a bat, and sucked your neck would YOU believe THEN? I imagine it would be hard not to. Now what?]

So you do believe God exists? Why start a business banking on God's arrival if you don't believe He exists, right? There's a little faith in everyone. I'm glad to see yours shining through.
[Hump note: I guess this implys that anyone willing to take money from the terminally stupid also believes in God. Who knew? The concept of insurance against god arriving seems to be lost on Rick. ]

This is the most RIDICULOUS thing I have ever heard. You ATHIESTS should be condemmed
[Hump note: A Xtian who obviously never read the Buybull. If he had he’d know that the Bible is actually the most ridiculous thing, and that according to it atheists are already condemned.]

I know you don't believe in the rapture, but if it should occure, what then? Would you believe then? If so, will you turn your eyes to the Lord? There will be many in that time who see the truth and the Lord will save them, though they will still experience the devestation to come. Please know you can always turn to God and He will take you in. He loves you, even when you don't love him!
[Hump note: I’ve read about what theists do when they love you even when you don’t love them … priests and Youth Ministers especially. Thanks, I’ll pass!]

Your theology is skewed," All dogs go to Heaven". God wants us to be happy so he takes our pets with us! Just one more point, without the holy spirit you won;t have a chance of understanding any scripture at all, it's like reading someone else's mail. ..... NO what I have that you do not is faith that is what God os all about an I am worshiping the right God because I have faith in my Lord Jesus Christ he made me right in the eyes of God, and about your news I am so very sorry to let you know its all the same hasn't changed for 2000 years, Wars, hate, killing, sex crimes, robberies, murders etc. Have I missed anything it hasn't changes for 2009 years, IN fact since the days of Adam and Eve, Cain and Able. ...... By the way I eat Pigs, Cows Fish, Birds, but my Dog is my best friend Jesus will let he come with me he gave her to me. Father God I lift this mans soul to you speak to him and show him your truth-- you did that for madam Marie O Hare's Son -- do it for him In Jesus Name Amen.
"Christ's Second Coming is absolutely as assured as his first" Michelle P Neff
[Hump note: This is just one of about ten “All Dogs go to Heaven” email references. It seems these Xtians decided not to draw their belief from scripture, but opted to go with the more believable Holy Word of a Walt Disney Cartoon Movie. I have no idea who
Marie O Hare’s son is (or who Marie is). I'd look it up but I’m too busy trying to figure out why the writer’s dietary preferences are of interest to me.]

If I get some interesting crazy Xtian emails to share I’ll collect them for a sequel. Now we should all go read something secular and meaningful. I fear these letters could have a deleterious effect on our IQs.

[My thanks to Holey Hands for the idea for this article]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Disgusted by the Bible? Just "Thank God" !

I've read the KJV and NIV Bible from end to end. It's remarkable that so many people who claim to have read the Bible can still retain any reverence for it, give it credibility, and not be disgusted / repelled by it. Perhaps the answer lays in the selectivity of what books of the bible they read, and which they ignore. Perhaps they prefer instead to see a kindley Magician-Man-god that does tricks and shows a kinder gentler, post therapy/rehab attitude ... while still retaining the ability to wantonly kill pigs, destroy fig trees, and steal donkeys.

In voicing this opinion I was taken to task by a fellow atheist:

“There's no point in being disgusted/repelled by the Bible. It portrays how we were more than two thousand years ago. The vengeful Old Testament God is how the primitive people of this time period would have imagined their deity.

Similarly, you can read The Iliad and observe how war and superstition were so predominant in the Greek world.” “Both The Iliad and the stories of the Bible were invented in an attempt to find meaning in a cruel, violent world.”

And he would be correct if the Bible were read by everyone as simply a reflection of an earlier civilization's thought processes and justifications. Then indeed the horrific acts can be viewed in the context of the times. Nothing more need be said

But that is far from the case with the Bible. The events depicted are attributed to a god who is still worshipped to this day. That god is credited in this scripture with establishing rules and instigating behaviors that by any reasonable interpretation are both cruel and counter productive to human development.

When myth is assigned divine authority, by a god that is still worshipped and held in reverence today by millions of followers in spite of horrific wonton acts with which they credit it, acts that should be abhorrent to anyone with an objective perspective of humanity and morality; but instead is excused, apologized, rationalized and justified by the unthinking ... that is what makes it repellent and disgusting.

No one still worships Moloch who demanded live infant incineration (see picture above); nor the Greek pagan gods that chained men to rocks and sent birds of prey to eat their livers for eternity; nor the gods of the Aztecs and Mayans that thirsted for massive quantities of human blood, as many as twenty-thousand victims in a single day. If they still did, and if there were scripture for those religions, and if the modern day adherents praised those gods and that scripture and declared them good and just and worthy of respect -- I dare say every atheist, and every follower of the Abrahamic religions would be united in their repulsion and disgust for those religions' scriptures as well. Obscene would not be too strong a description.

No, there is "no point" in being disgusted / repelled by the Bible. There is no point to being saddend by "Old Yeller." There doesn’t have to be a point. Disgust and revulsion are emotions that the Bible envokes in me. Emotion doesn't need a point. It just is.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Political Correctness can kiss my godless ass.

You may have read last week that in New York a 6 year old boy was suspended for bringing "a gun" to school. It was two inches of injection molded plastic shaped like a space gun. It was the toy gun of his toy Lego figure!

About the same time a big brouhaha erupted when White House Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel used the word “retarded” to describe some members of his own party. Evidently the word is taboo. We now have a perfectly good “R” word that no one is allowed to utter lest they horrify the sensibilities of the PC police. It’s become the “N” word for the “mentally challenged” or “special needs children,” or whatever the proper term is these days.

Both of these insane tempests in a tea pot are the result of Political Correctness run amok. It reminded me of when I was taken to task for typing the word “Xtian,” short for Christian, on an internet message group. This fundie was deeply offended and went into a rant. Was I afraid to type the name of the Lord and Savior? Did I have so little respect for God that I abbreviated His name? How dare I defile the one true religion and insult its faithful adherents?

Never missing an opportunity to educate the undereducated I explained that the term “Xtian” is based on the Greek word “Christos” which starts with the letter Chi which is written with the letter X. The abbreviation "Xtian" goes back to the 16th century, and was common usage. I also confirmed that while I had no respect for his Imaginary Friend, had as much fear of it as I have for a Stephen King villian, and could care less about defiling his religion or belittling his fellow religionists -- the use of Xtian is not in and of itself an insult. In keeping with my characteristic modus operandi I believe I ended the lesson with the phrase “You witless fundie Xtian retard!” I feel badly about that now. In the future I will refine it, bring it up to code, by replacing the term “retard” with “special needs person,” although it loses something in the translation.

Religionists have no compunctions about using less than flatering epithets when referring to atheists. “Godless,” “heathen,” “the irreligious,” “hell bound non-believer,” and “fool” (from the scriptural verse that says those who say there is no god are fools) are among the most popular. Evidently Xtians don’t feel any pressure to be PC (Properly Christ-like) where atheists are concerned; not that I give a fiddler’s damn. For just as African-Americans may casually refer to their friends by using (Oy!… I have to do this eh?? Ok… ) “the N word,” I occasionally refer to my fellow atheists as “godless hell bound heathens.” It’s a term of endearment, and the highest compliment I can pay a freethinker.

As hard as it may be to believe, I can be induced to throw out derogatory terms for the most religiously afflicted Xtians. I endeavor to use them only on those occasions where decorum and good taste have been suspended having outlived their usefulness. They include but are not limited to: Bible Banger, Bible Thumper, Holy Roller, Papist, Popeblower, Bead Mumbler, Mind Slave, Mindless Medieval Peasant, Dead Jew Worshipper, Death Cultist, and Kool-Aide-Sipping-Blood-Imbibing-Flesh-Devouring-Polytheist-Throwback.

For the followers of the notorious 6th century warlord prophet and pedophile, the nomenclature becomes substantially more vivid, conjuring up visions of sand simians, dune jockeys, and head gear that would be equally useful for wiping up camel vomit. When it comes to the religiously deluded let no one say I’m not an equal opportunity non-PCist

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rationality -- The Work of Satan!

A dedicated Atheist Camel reader and friend emailed me for advice. The issue was this:

“I've been mulling over something that I know would get thrown in my face if I ever discussed my atheism with certain members of my family. That is the notion that science and rational thought are a work of Satan … that he is the one putting all these rational thoughts in our heads.”

My reply follows:

This kind of “argument" comes from the most profoundly religiously infected. No matter what you do to disprove it with reason, since reason is the enemy of faith, their rejection of reality will be unmoved.

First, understand that the underlying distrust and hatred toward science by the most religious is rooted in their fear that science disproves god. But science doesn't seek to disprove god. Science shows that the things attributed to god/gods/ supernaturalism are more easily explained by physics, chemistry, biology, etc. etc ... natural law and observable repeatable principles. If people wish to reject what they can see for what they can't, science doesn't care one way or another. Science doesn’t waste it’s time on fairy tales or fools.

But let’s go to the devil, so to speak. If a devil is responsible for putting rational thoughts in man's minds then Satan must have been responsible for the invention of small pox vaccine; polio vaccine; heart, lung, liver, etc. transplants; medicines to control diabetes; chemo therapy to save the lives of cancer patients; Lasik surgery to restore eyesight; and the countless discoveries and inventions that have reduced human suffering and extended the lives of theists and non-theists alike. All of which are as a result of the rational human mind; the minds of men and women who were not satisfied with "it's God's Will."

If these rational discoveries by rational people are the influence of an evil entity, then perhaps the devil is good and it is god that is evil. For if god is responsible for the creation of all life forms (Genesis), and is responsible for all the good and evil on earth (Isaiah 45:7), then it was god who created the hideous life forms we know as smallpox and polio. If the devil was the root for rational thought which gave man the power of science that defeated god's evil disease creations, then maybe the Satan worshipers are right.

But again, the problem you will encounter in argument with your fundie family members will be that they aren't held to any definitive limitations. That is, if you blunt their illogic and show a rational reason why their position is fallacy, nothing stops them from inventing a new supernatural justification. You know how that works, we’ve seen it time and again: i.e. "Uh, well maybe all the animals on the Ark were babies and didn’t take up much space or need food, or ... uh, or maybe god put them into hibernation so they wouldn't poop or eat each other ,or … uh . .." And on it goes. When all else falls, the default to the usual ... "God did it, and God can do anything." negates any potential for fruitful exchange.

In the case of Science & Rationality = Satan they may proffer that man was responsible for the creation of virus, and illness, and that god gave scientists the rationality necessary to cure them. But again, what is the basis for that reversal? What scripture will they distort and interpret to support it? It flies in the face of their original premise of rationality and science being the work of Satan.

We the rational are at a disadvantage in these kinds of theological masturbatory discussions. We hold ourselves to, are limited to, strict observable and predictable and repeatable events ... the very definitive guidelines of natural law and science. We can’t adjust our argument by begging some supernatural “shoulda, coulda, woulda” explanation. We are held to real world explanations that we know are scientifically sound.

A word of advice -- you will not convince your family with any argument from reason or reality. The hypnotic grasp of the God Virus is not that easily cured. If anything it will intensify their defensiveness of the indefensible. Do not risk alienating your family for the sake of being right. In the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “… just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.”