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?