Sunday, March 28, 2010

Debating YEC: Is there any greater waste of intellectual energy?

I was surfing religion websites and blogs and came across a two page war of the words between three or four atheists and a YEC fundie. The subject was “Putting to rest the Young Earth Creationism Theory.”

As I leafed through the twenty-five or so posts two things became evident:
  1. That the atheists were presenting reason and science based discovery that has evolved and improved over a long period of time, right up to the most recent scientific evidence for Old Earth.

  2. That the fundie was repeating the same scripture that hasn’t changed in over 3,500 years as his evidence, and repeatedly tried to use pseudo-science to debunk real science.

There were perhaps sixteen or seventeen intelligent posts in this thread, all intended to debunk the foolishness of YEC myth. My mind boggled at the amount of detail, research, references, links, et al. It caused me to wonder -- would anyone put the same amount of effort into debunking things such as:

  • Flat Earthers?
  • The efficacy of witchcraft, sorcery, fortune telling, or levitation?
  • Alien Abduction stories?
  • The creation stories of American Indians, Hindus, or any of hundreds/thousands of other such tales?
  • Extra terrestrial’s having built Stonehenge or the Pyramids?
  • Any of the mythical monsters such as Nessy, Champy, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, Yeti?
  • Demonic possession?
  • Astral Projection?
  • Transubstantiation?

If the answer is "no" then I can only wonder why this one particular myth, which owes its start to the superstitions and inventiveness of pre-scientific ancients, and is dismissed by every credible scientist on the planet, is worthy of such attention. Science has demonstrated through the corroboration and cumulative data of multiple scientific disciplines that big bang (or similar event) and evolutionary theory is the cause of the universe and origin of species.

There is as much objective evidence for YEC as there is for alien’s building Stonehenge or the Pyramids. If scripture alone is “evidence” there are many more volumes of books on alien development “theory” than just the one Old Testament. The fact that the OT is pre-scientific age, while these nutty modern day alien proponents’ books are post-scientific age, shouldn’t give the Bible more credibility; it should give the Bible less credibility.

Hell, just by calling YEC a "theory" the well intentioned and time rich freethinkers have given it more credence than it is due. What next -- "Transubstantiation Theory" ? "Woman into Pillar of Salt Theory"? Will arguing against them change anything?
Urinating into the wind would be more productive.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thank God!!!

"I just thank the Lord that he shielded me when all of this took place."

The above statement was made by one of the guards who were shot by a right-wing nut case attempting to gain access to the Pentagon a few weeks ago. Both guards’ wounds were, fortunately, only superficial.

These kinds of devotional statements seem to fall from believers’ mouths faster than M&M’s can fall through the holes in Jesus’ hands. Whether it’s a crisis from which one escapes serious harm, a victory in a sporting event, winning an election, the remission of a loved one’s cancer, or even when fate and probability deals a hideous hand -- all reasoned thinking comes to a halt as the believer’s brain goes into supernatural mode.

At the National Republican Convention in 2004 Rudy Giuliani said: "Thank God, George Bush is our president."
Drew Brees wins the Super Bowl and the first thing out of his mouth to AP is: “God is great.”
A Canadian survivor of the Haitian earthquake said: "… thank God for saving my life … praise him for his greatness."
On a Christian apologetics site a father of a horribly deformed and vegetative baby offered: “God blessed us through [him] and [has] shown Himself to be more real.”

Can these peoples’ logic be anymore convoluted, ignorant and down right obscene? Please!

Fact: 80% of gunshot wounds are non-fatal.* God or no, the odds were substantially in the guard’s favor. ( )

Fact: If George Bush had not been elected President, over 4300 US service men and women who have so far died in Iraq would be alive today. If god is responsible for G.W. Bush’s presidency, then god is responsible for their needless deaths.

Fact: If “god is great” and thus credited with the New Orleans Saints’ victory, it assumes that if the Colts had won god wouldn’t be great. Or perhaps he’d be great but only for the Colts and not for the Saints.

Fact: If god is to be credited with saving a specific individual’s life, then logic has it that god must be blamed for the deaths of over 200,000 Haitian earthquake victims.

Fact: If having a deformed vegetative baby is god’s blessing for the parents, the inference is that it’s a positive for the infant versus normalcy or spontaneous abortion and/or that the baby’s condition is a good thing.

In short, these knee jerk statements of praise and thanks make no sense from any perspective if one takes a moment to evaluate their meaning. They are senseless not just because there is no god; or because the events / outcomes are all manmade or natural; or because they are a product of probability; but because the obverse of the outcome, the condition for which the thanks / praise are offered, are in and of themselves evidence of the fallacy of god ... or of an evil god.

All of this is lost on theists of course. Their bleating will go on. Heck, most of them haven’t figured out that “Thank God it’s Friday!” is rather pointless since Friday happens every seven days… like it or not.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sex and Scandal: “Don’t ask don’t tell” and the Catholic hierarchy

Seems the good Pope Benedict is implicated in a cover up of a child molesting German priest back in the 80’s. Instead of turning him into the authorities, the Pope directed him to get psychiatric counseling … all the while the priest continued on with his sexual predilections, being reassigned to another parish where his perversity continued.

Meanwhile Bishops are under fire over their exposed cover ups; and all over the planet -- Latin America, Ireland, UK, Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Australia, Canada – victims are coming forward attesting to decades of sexual abuse at the hands of priests. The cover-ups and denials of the Church hierarchy in those countries indicate they don’t have a much better track record than the pope, or US Church officials. So much for the hackneyed whine of the defensive devout that molesting priests are just a tiny, insignificant minority. That duck doesn’t quack anymore.

Oh, sure…the Church pays the necessary lip service. The pope condemns sexual misconduct, and I’m sure he’d wish it would all just go away. Some church officials are admitting they just weren’t aggressive enough; they didn’t realize the breadth of the problem or its life long implications to the victims.

And why should they? These aren’t psychologists. They aren’t typically trained psychotherapists, sex therapists, social workers, Special Victims Unit detectives. They are largely sexually repressed shaman who have been trained to read Latin, promote the Church to find new recruits, accept the impossible as real and reject the real as impossible. They are wannabe apostles to a myth, dressed in gender neutral opulent costumes, conducting foolish rituals, embracing magical liturgy, promising nonsensical rewards for belief, forgiving people for sins so they can clean their slates and repeat the sin, and mumbling the same old prayers that fall only on the ears of their awed and cowed parishioners.

It is to these self imposed eunuchs, these socially impotent pretenders, that responsibility rests for ferreting out perverts among their ranks; all while a goodly number of their own highly placed brethren are themselves doing exactly the same unholy acts. It’s the quintessential example of the inmates policing the inmates.

If the Church really understood the depth of the problem; if it cared as much about the victims’ well being as they do about their own financial stability; if it were genuinely invested in rooting out and resolving the problem and ending it once and for all; they would have taken draconian steps to fix it years ago. The pope could have appointed his own VBSMI (Vatican Bureau of Sexual Misconduct Investigation), with all the power and independence that the Church gave to Tomas de Torquemada, the 15th Century leader of the Spanish Inquisition.

When it came to rooting out and punishing imagined enemies of the Church, heretics and back-sliding converted Jews, Torquemada was all powerful and remarkably effective. But then, those were the good old days when the Church felt threatened by those innocents they considered ungodly. Now that it’s the “godly” themselves that threaten the innocents the motivation isn’t quite as strong. They don't want to hear the ugly truth, much less uncover anymore of it than absolutely necessary

It took 350 years for the Catholic Church to apologize for the persecution of Galileo; 750 years to apologize for the Inquisition. I’m going to guess that the thousands and thousands of victims of wholesale sexual abuse and cover-up by the Catholic clergy should get their apology in, oh … 2500 CE. This assumes the Church doesn’t fuck itself into oblivion between now and then.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hump’s New World Dictionary of Christian Gibberish

Every two weeks my across the street neighbor comes over for some 18 year old Glenfiddich scotch, finger food, and good talk around the wood stove. He’s a well read, well educated man, early fifties. He’s a non-practicing Catholic, and has two grown sons at least one of whom is an atheist. He’s bought two of my books (one for himself, one for his son) and I sense his belief hangs by a string; or maybe a slightly frayed rope. But either way he has way too much reason and respect for reality to be a hardcore theist.

This past Sunday afternoon the conversation got around to religion, no surprise there. He tossed a few Christian terms out to see if I knew what they meant: Immaculate Conception (that Mary was born without sin); The Assumption (Mary beaming up to heaven…) and the like. Catholics are really high on Mary. I passed with an overall grade of B+.

I got to thinking about how many words and phrases Christianity has spawned; things that have absolutely no other reason to exist in our language except to define terminologies for meaningless beliefs, acts or observances of things that never were and never will be real. It’s not peculiar to Christianity, all religions have them, but Christianity has developed making a lexicon of nonsense words into an art form.

It occurred to me that if we took some of those useless religious words and phrases and assigned them real world meanings maybe we can get the new definitions to catch on and replace the original meanings. Then we can incorporate them into secular speech, everyday language. This would sow the seeds of confusion among theists and eventually result in those words’ religious meanings becoming obsolete. Here are a few examples:

[The] Ass-ump-tion, noun - the cause of Christians’ backward thinking founded in a lack of interest in reading and educating themselves on 21st century realities.
I.e. “My belief that evolution is Satan’s deception is based on The Assumption that Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and Ted Haggard are at least smarter than the average monkey.” Also see: Vapid

Be-at-i-fy, verb - to bestow a pummeling upon the head and shoulders of televangelists, fundamentalist right wing politicians and media types in an effort to beat some sense into them. Also see: Open a Can of Whoop-Ass

Im-mac-u-late Con-cep-tion, verb - a prerequisite for priests having unprotected coitus with Nuns who have OCD that manifests itself in fastidious personal hygiene.
Also see: Wet-nap

Rap-ture, verb - the emotion secularists would experience if all theists suddenly disappeared from the planet. Also see: ecstatic.

Res-sur-rec-tion, verb - occurrence of turgid penile condition experienced by a minister, priest, youth pastor or any member of the clergy upon seeing an alter boy or unattended child under the age of consent for the second time. Also see: Viagra

Sec-ond Com-ing, verb - [editor’s note: too obvious; see Resurrection]

Trin-it-y, noun -
1. The belief, predominantly among middle age Latinos, that Trini Lopez was the true son of God. Also see: Lemon Tree Song
2. A ménage-a-trois involving devout clergy, and any combination of children, prostitutes, male prostitutes, and each other. Also see: Hypocrite

Ok, that’s a start. I invite my faithless readers to provide their own word definition ideas. Who knows…they may be in my next book.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Eternal Question that Proves God!! But only for the deluded

“Why is there something rather than nothing? What is your explanation for why we exist?”

This tired Christian apologetic for the existence of god is frankly unworthy of serious discourse. It is at least 1000 years old, has been posed and answered many times by philosophers and scientists, without the need of a supernatural explanation. And yet the logic of those answers go in one ear of the theistically impaired and out the other without even slowing down in between. To them the question is, in and of itself, evidence of a boogie man in the sky. When they pose it as some kind of self-evident, prima fascia proof of god they are pathetic in their childlike self-satisfaction.

Now don’t misunderstand. As a philosophical question, or as a question that helps explain quantum physics, it’s useful for mental exercise, discourse and understanding. It’s the religious implication, the theist co-opting of the question for an apologetic agenda to which I object.

Religionists who use this tact don't want the scientific / rational answers. They've been tendered; they abound on the internet and in books brimming with secular reasoning. Theists simply want to continue to repeat the question as a justification for their "God did it" explanation, which is their explanation for everything. They like to use it as though it were some esoteric mystical mind twister that can only be solved by injecting the supernatural.

It's tantamount to the old "If evolution is true, and man came from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?" That answer, as simple and as obvious as it is to people who understand evolution, natural selection, random mutation etc., and as often as it has been explained to the unthinking creationists, continues to be ignored by them. The question will be asked ad nauseum no matter how many times the gross ignorance it displays has been soundly and completely dispelled. They will continue to believe that is a chink in evolutionary theory's validity, when all it does is make creationists look vapid.

So, following Occam’s razor that states the best answer is the simplest one; the answer to the Christian's questions of “Why is there something rather than nothing? What is your explanation for why we exist?” is this:

A) Because natural phenomenon happen to create life under proper circumstances; and
B) We exist for the same reason that life likely exists on a multitude of planets in the universe; refer to "A" above.

And as a default answer:
C) There is something rather than nothing, because if there were nothing you couldn’t pose your insipid and hackneyed question.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Welcome to “Capitulation to Creeping Theism 101”

Good morning class. I’m Professor Hump. For the next three minutes I will be your instructor. Many of you have seen me on campus and know me to be an ardent atheist activist. But not today, not for this class. Today I will lead you on a field trip through the wonderful world of atheist accommodation in the 21st century.

Let’s begin by reading this news article about a man in Mississippi who demanded that the crosses carved into the courthouse pews that were salvaged from a church be removed. The Xtian mayor of the town plans to fight him tooth and nail. No whoosie THAT Xtian redneck, no siree.

You can bet your student loans, that if those pews had a Star of David carved into them the good mayor wouldn't have accepted them even for free. If they had a Wicca symbol, he'd likely have had them burned.

Now, let us examine some of the responses to this story posted by some alleged atheists to Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist blog.

Atheist A: “This guy needs to be a friendlier atheist.”

I bet many of you think that no religious symbols belong as a fixture in any court room in this country, in any way, for any reason. Evidently you’re mistaken as evidenced by Atheist A who suggests the complainant should roll over and just be a “friendlier atheist.” Thank you, Mr. Step and Fetch It.

Atheist B: “If the pews are functional ignore the crosses. You can be strong enough not to be offended by the trivial.”

I know just what he means. I feel the same way about the inclusion of Intel Design / Creationism in public school science books; or a giant cross erected on public land; or Biblical verses emblazoned on military rifle sights by the manufacturer; or a Muslim crescent hung on the wall of the local Motor Vehicle Bureau, etc.

If the books, rifle sights, parks, and government offices are functional we can just ignore those chapters; ignore those symbols; we are strong enough not to be offended by the “trivial.” Thank you, Mr. Neville Chamberlain of Non-Believers.

That concludes today’s introduction to “Capitulation to Creeping Theism 101.″ Tomorrow we will open with an invocation delivered by a fundamentalist evangelical pastor. Yes, I know this is a publicly funded college and we are atheists, but hey, he insisted so let's just be nice.

Your homework assignment is to find more ways to set back secularists’ hard won advancements by 75 years.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hump Considers Running for God: Here’s My Resume

Over coffee this morning I was thinking that I have all the necessary qualifications to establish my own godliness, even have people pray to me and worship me. So I have been pulling my resume together. Here’s what I have so far:

June 2007: My eldest son and his wife disobeyed me when I told them not to touch the bowl of dried banana chips. I threw them out of the house and told them they are cursed for life. They didn’t take it well.

September 2007: I decided I didn’t like the way things were going in my town. I blew up the damn which flooded the entire region killing every man, woman, child and animal in the county except for my friend Gary, his wife and child and their three Boston Terriers. They’re the only folks I liked.

January 2008: I convinced this “mentally challenged” guy that unless he killed his own son with an axe that I was going to heap some bad mojo on him. He was just about to lower the boom on the kid, when I stopped him at the last second. I was just testing him. He may have soiled his pants, I know his kid did. It was a hoot.

March 2008: My followers and friends needed some rules, so I came up with my "Top Ten List of Stuff Hump Wants You to Do.” I made sure the first four rules were all about me. Hey, I have a fragile ego.

May 2008 - August 2008: Lots of little things were pissing me off during this period. Maybe it was the heat, maybe I was just cranky, I dunno. Things like folks wearing their damn polyester/cotton blend clothes; people eating lobster with butter and lemon; farmers cross breeding cattle to get more milk production; men giving other men hand jobs, same with women; lots of other stuff like that that had no rhyme or reason … hundreds of them. So I decided those things are illegal around here. I’ve directed my followers to kill those who do the stuff that really irks me. No Damn Gleaning Fields on Thursdays During Baseball Season if you value your life, damnit!!!

November 2008: This big extended family down the road didn’t think much of me and my followers. They practiced some strange ways, ya know? I think they are Asians. Probably pagans. Some of them actually ate lobster salad with mayo on hot dog buns! Disgusting!!

So I told my friends and followers to set their house on fire and kill every one of them; their dogs, cats and farm animals too! I told them it’s ok to make an exception for the little girls. Hey, my friends like ‘em young. I tried to get my friends to wipe out the Town of Bellows Falls, Vermont too, but the town’s two cops had those aluminum meter maid electric carts, so they were too powerful for us.

March 2009: I decided to have another son. Mrs. Hump became hysterical at the idea and threatened me with a knife. I had no idea how to find myself a wife of child bearing age on short notice -- and my inflatable Mary doll wasn’t in any position to reproduce. So I snuck up on some stoner chick, gave her some Ruffies and nailed her. She never knew what happened. Late in December she gave birth to our son. She figured it was a virgin birth. Hey… I wasn’t about to confess to anything, so I let her think that.

January 2010: I was thinking my young bastard son is gay. I wasn’t sure, but he was spending all his free time with this group of a dozen or so effeminate guys with long hair and playing his X-Box. (I’ll admit he has remarkable control of that thing for a 13 month old, damn miraculous!)

So to make him prove his manhood I told him to get himself all worked up and pissed off, and inject some neighbor’s goats with anti-freeze and have them jump off a cliff. He did and they did. Then, to have him prove he’s no pantie waist tree hugger, I told him to kill a pear tree for not having pears on them. He babbled something at first about my being an idiot because there are no pear baring trees in January in New Hampshire. But he killed the tree anyway. He’s a good boy, bit of a smart ass and given to hissy fits though.

Spring 2010: I plan to have my little bastard son tortured to death, to show what a compassionate and caring guy I am to my followers. No doubt he’ll get a little rattled toward the end, but he’s a skinny kid and probably won’t last too long… three or four hours, max. He’s resilient though so who knows -- some defibrillator shocks and he might come back. “CLEAR!!”

Now, these are just some of the highlights. I have a lot more stuff to fill in, more detail. You know, pad my deity qualifications a bit. But I think I’ve got something going here. After all, how could anyone not love a guy like that?