Friday, March 30, 2012

Trickle Down Miracle from Jesus the God of Canine Urinary Tracts

Facebook friend Susie asks: “Hey Hump. My friend's dog is very sick and all these people are "praying" for his recovery. He's started to pee again so my friend is saying God has been bombarded with prayer and that's why he's getting better. This makes me want to scream, especially since MY dog just died. I want to write a slightly snarky post on my wall, not enough to make my friend mad, but enough to let her and other mutual friends know that my dog was as deserving of life as her dog ... Don't really know what to say, but thought I'd vent a little and ask your opinion. Any ideas?”

Susie, sorry about your dog. I know how hard the loss of a friend is. Here’s a suggested response [revised and extended]. I'm afraid I don’t do “slightly” snarky. If you decide to use my letter, all or in part, be prepared to lose some friends.

"Dear Christian friend.

I’m so happy your dog has started to pee again. This miraculous occurrence must be quite a relief, no pun intended. It may not be up there with walking on water, raising dead folks, feeding the multitude with some loaves and a few fish, or finding homes for the millions of soon to be euthanized homeless pets, but it's a good thing.

It’s truly wondrous that with thousands of children dying of AIDS, draught and hunger in third world nations, people being slaughtered in the streets in Syria, child soldiers being made to kill their own relatives, and oppressive mistreatment of women at the hands of religious extremists here and abroad, that God opted to give his undivided attention to resolving Fido’s urinary problems.

Unfortunately my dog was not so lucky, and he passed away yesterday. I guess your God requires a prayer quorum to insure he is fully advised of, and is motivated to act on, a critically ill creature's needs. Evidently size does matter when it comes to prayer quantity in spite of his omniscience.

I imagine your veterinarian's involvement, the hundreds of dollars you paid him for his medical expertise, and the medication he prescribed, all the product of medical science and years of research, were back up just in case God decided to spare an African child from contracting a fatal case of the Ebola virus instead of saving Fido. Lucky for you he went with your dog.

Maybe if you all got together and prayed for my dog's resurrection you can convince God to do a miracle that modern science can't; maybe just a few hours out of your and your Christian friends' prayer time? And while you're already praying if you can include an appeal to stop the murders, rape and amputations in Sudan, that would be nice too ... I mean, if you think it would help.
He may not deem it as serious as a bad case of parvovirus in a German Shepherd, but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained.
Thanks. "

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hump’s Nominees for Hades’ Most Welcome Inductees

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t sit around all day reading the obits or watching CNN to see if people I despise have gone belly up. And unlike the religious fanatic nutters, I don’t offer up the time honored and biblically endorsed imprecatory prayers in an appeal to some Holy Sky Booger to off someone on my defecation list leaving their children fatherless, their wives widows. To whom would I submit my appeal anyway?

I wish death on no one...I just want them to go away, one way or another. But as I’ve said before, I’ve never claimed to be John Donne. Each man’s demise doesn’t necessarily diminish me in the fricken least. There are some folks whose descent into the realm of the earthworm buffet would make this a kinder, gentler, more intelligent, healthier, and all around better world.

That said, in no particular order of well deserved disdain, is my list of nominees for the title of Hades’ Most Welcome Inductees:

- Intolerant Moral Compass Setters:
These are religiously driven zealots who draw their sense of what is moral not based on civility, kindness, and the absence of cruelty and injustice; but upon what offends their deity and disgusts them personally.

This group includes the politicians, clergy, church organizations, self styled moral icons, and ad hoc “Million Whatevers Against” groups who claim they don’t hate gays, they just hate what gays do. They invent reasons why gay marriage threatens their own marriage; seek to over turn laws endorsing equal rights; and are fixated upon defending word definitions like “marriage” to ensure it doesn’t include devoted homosexual couples.

This group also includes the anti inter-racial marriage bigots, “homosexuality is a choice” morons, and crusaders against adult pornography, string bikinis, mini skirts, women eating bananas in public, and purple Tele-Tubbies.

-History Revisionists:
The unread who wallow in self imposed ignorance preferring to glean their understanding of history based not on the source documents of the time, but on carefully manufactured distortions, quote mining, and the discounting/ignoring of historical documentation that are contradictory to their agenda and thus considered “irrelevant.”

These candidates are the “Christian Nation” advocates who claim the Separation of Church and State is a fabrication to be torn down; that our Founding Fathers were Christians one and all; that this nation was founded on “Judeo-Christian Principles” and its laws based on the Ten Commandments, or by Jesus’ direct intervention. Some assert if you’re not a follower of Jesus you are not a true American.

Some of these folks aren’t actually ignorant of the true facts; we call them by their more colorful sub-classification of “Fucking Theocracy Endorsing Liars.”

- Keepers of the Genitalia / Womb Monitors
Popes, Bishops, priests, ministers, activist Catholic laymen, religio-Politicians, and sanctimonious religious hypocrites who themselves would change their minds if it’s their wife or kid in question – who oppose contraception and a women’s right to maintain exclusive control of her reproductive system.

These same people are typically enablers of sexually active and pedophile inclined religious organizations; some see AIDS as a divine punishment; most oppose sex education; a majority consider abstinence or an aspirin between a woman’s knees the only acceptable form of birth control; some have no problem forcing women to bear the children of their rapist or relatives and would fight to ensure a terminally ill deformed fetus is naturally delivered even though it may kill the women they condemn to deliver it.

- Science Hating Purveyors of Stupidity
This group includes politicians who sponsor legislation to introduce mysticism into public school science classes by demanding creationism be given scientific credibility where none exists. They call evolutionary theory a lie, a fake, a mistake, “just a theory,” or a delusion of Satan, while they have never themselves read an actual scientific tome on the subject and likely couldn’t fathom it if they did..

They take campaign donations from organizations who are devoted science haters like The Discovery Institute in order to promote ignorance and myth. These people are no longer confined to the most backward countries or least educated states. They exist everywhere, including the most educated and least religious states in the nation. We have at least seven in New Hampshire.

- Politically Motivated Conspiracy Theory Racists

The “Birthers”, the “Obama is a Muslim” and the “Obama is the Anti-Christ” crazies who could no more be convinced of the error of their obsessive beliefs than if they themselves were in the delivery room, attended church with Obama for 20 years, or if Satan himself told them they were asshats.

As I said- I don’t wish these nominees for Hades induction dead. Such a thing would be a waste of time and energy, and is simply impolite.
I just want them all to go to hell.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Camel comes clean: Confessions of a Post Rapture Pet Rescuing Spoofer

Three years ago this June the website known as Eternal Earth-Bound Pets was launched. Catering to the most religiously afflicted, it offered a pet recovery and rescue service that guarantees the pet’s adoption by earthbound atheists should the pet owner find himself suddenly Raptured and with Jesus.

Initially I enlisted the aid of a few internet acquaintances and relatives to come on board and represent their states as rescuer cadre to participate in interviews as the fame of this unprecedented offering became a hot topic with the media.

Radio, TV, bloggers, newspapers and magazines clamored for interviews. From Moscow Russia, to New Zealand, to Canada, Norway, South Africa and South America, it was a veritable feeding frenzy. NPR, CBS, BBC, CBC, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Business Week, Huffington Post, Religion News Service, The Associated Press and every local paper and 5,000 watt radio station across Middle America and Canada were beating down my phone and email address with requests for an interview.
The publicity spawned one or two clone pet rescue sites.

As poor old Harold Camping’s May 21, 2011 end times prediction approached, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets was such a hot media topic that I was giving interviews every thirty minutes for almost 36 hours straight. With every passing week, the number of states serviced, the number of rescuers I reported as employed, and the number of Rapture believing clients I claimed to have signed became larger and larger, adding to the excitement. It was like chumming the water for note taking / microphone bearing sharks.

The response from the public was over whelming. I received approximately seven thousand emails from freethinkers all over the United States and the free world applying for pet rescuer positions or franchises. Many hundreds of letters from non-Rapture believing Christians, including ministers and priests, wishing me luck and congratulating me on a stroke of genius; a smaller number mildly chastising me for taking advantage of their misinformed and scripturally confused Rapture believing brethren.

The hate mail from Rapture believers offended by me and my service, damning me to eternal torture, declaring me an animal rapist / dog eater, and threatening death and rape (in that order) for me and my wife was interesting to say the least, but not entirely unexpected. It was a confirmation of my long held perspective that extreme religiosity breeds extreme hate, or at least attracts extremist haters. Finally, there were emails from some believers who were actually interested in the service, others who feigned interest ... never to be heard from again.

The bottom line:
Eternal Earth-Bound Pets employs no paid rescuers. It has no clients. It has never issued a service certificate. It has accepted no service contract applications nor received any payments - not a single dollar – in the almost three years of its existence. If I had received a payment my conscience and ethics would have prohibited me from keeping it, as would my Episcopal wife’s ire.

EE-BP is and always has been a poe, a satire, a spoof, a poke at absurd religious belief - a statement and a challenge to believers to belly up to the bar to prove their compassion and genuine commitment to one of their most outlandish interpretations of the bible. And guess what ... they didn’t.

Perhaps I underestimated the intelligence of these born again believers as I fully expected that out of the many millions of US Rapture aficionados I’d have received some significant number of takers. As it was, I had to turn away only two people who seemed genuinely ready to contract for my services. Perhaps Rapturists don’t believe their own hype. Or maybe it was, as I was often told in emails, that their belief that survival during the seven year Tribulation following the Rapture would be so tenuous that they had no confidence in my ability to meet the contract terms. But, more likely it is the inherent disdain theists hold for non-believers, oft vehemently expressed in all cap emails, which kept them away in droves. Atheist is still a dirty word in this country. .

Net result.
First, I learned a lot about Christians both Rapture believers and non-Rapture believers; their differing perspectives, attitudes, interpretation of doctrine, degrees of acceptance of freethinkers. I made some Christian pen pals with whom I maintain an on again/off again dialogue. I met a lot of atheists, many are now valued facebook friends; a number of them come from the ranks of freethinkers who sincerely wanted to help with the project.

Second, maybe, just maybe, the parody got religious people thinking about just how extreme the whole Rapture concept is; got them to realize that the often referenced “all dogs go to heaven” is just the name of a 1989 animated movie, not Biblical doctrine. Maybe they questioned their depth of devotion to their beloved pets, and wondered what will befall them and why their God would allow it? Maybe.

Third, the site generated Google advertising income that helped support food banks.

Last, but not at all least, EE-BP was a great marketing avenue for my first book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles, which had a chapter that was the genesis for the business concept and which came out almost at the same time EE-BP was launched. Sales benefited enormously from the media attention which brought atheists to the website. Without that media hype my self published book would likely not have reached such a wide audience, an early top seller among amazon’s atheist themed books, and I would not have been encouraged to write my second, The Atheist Camel Rants Again. Indeed, the Eternal Earth-Bound Pets experience may become the basis for a future tome, this time a novel.

Thanks and Mea Culpa.
To those internet friends, New Hampshire friends and neighbors, some very few well known atheist bloggers, and my family who knew about this all along and kept it under their hats, thank you.

To the media who were unconscious of, but eager accomplices to, this little experiment and flight of fantasy, sorry and thanks.

Most of all to all my readers, Facebook friends, fellow members of freethinker groups and organizations, and all compatriots in reason to whom this is coming as something of a surprise and perhaps a little disappointment ... my apologies for the deception; it was necessary to perpetuate the illusion.

While it was fun to think we were hoisting the religiously extreme on their own petard of belief, my friends and followers and ethical Humanists will find it something of a relief to learn that this was a spoof, that no one was hurt, and no one is profiting from the “least among us,” by taking money from those who very likely could least afford it.

Why throw off the veil now?
It seems the State of New Hampshire’s Insurance Department has asked me to come and discuss my “insurance offering” (which, by definition, it is not) and provide them with the names of New Hampshire residents who have signed on and paid for the service. After three years of broad publicity the timing of this action is highly suspect.

The NH Insurance Department will be either disappointed or relieved to find out this is all a fantasy and that no clients exist except in my imagination and on the pages of many hundreds of publications.

I am proactively sharing this info with the media. It will likely inspire lively commentary. But, I wanted all of my friends and readers to hear it from the camel’s mouth first.

In the scheme of things, this entertaining little endeavor wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen when compared to the great spoofs/ hoaxes perpetrated by Saul of Tarsus (AKA St. Paul), Mohammed, Joseph Smith, L Ron Hubbard, and the many purveyors of the hoax of religious myth. Unfortunately, they aren’t around to expose their own spoofs. We have to do that for them. I’ll keep doing my part, you keep doing yours.

Your brother in reason,

Bart Centre
AKA Dromedary Hump, The Atheist Camel

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Danger of Creationism and Self-Imposed Ignorance

Subject: Question
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2012 18:11:09 -0400

Just wondering why you guys serve in food banks, animal shelters and such? If you are atheists then you believe in some form of evolution. With all forms of evolution you believe in survival of the fittest. The work you are doing in those service organizations is actually working against what you believe is best for humanity. Doesn't fit your belief system. At least be consistent.

Sent from my iPhone

My reply follows:


I imagine you spend very little time "wondering" and even less time thinking.

Your confusion and lack of understanding of what evolutionary theory is; its basic precepts; and its non-relationship to morality, humanism, and ethics is startling and dangerous.

While this is a business and not a teaching website, considering your frightening lack of understanding I will give you a simplistic explanation for “Survival of the fittest.” The term refers to random mutations of a species that best promote its survival in the environment in which it exists. That is, those animals who are best adapted for the climate, food supply, predator avoidance, etc., have a better chance of existing, and thus continuing those “best traits” through procreation with successive progeny carrying on those traits in their genetic make up. Those who do not possess those traits (i.e. are “less fit” to exist) tend to become extinct/ die out, taking their less suitable qualities for the species with them. Thus, the most “fit” qualities / characteristics of the species permit it to survive.

While morality and ethics do in fact evolve as cultures / civilization advances (i.e. which is why we eventually outlawed slavery in the 19th century; and why you opt not to fuck 12 year old children, which was the norm in Biblical times up to the Dark Ages), evolutionary theory as it relates to origin of species is unrelated to the cultural evolution of morality and ethics.

But here’s what’s troubling about your question, Scott:
obviously you've never cracked the cover of source material on the subject, preferring to glean your remarkably stunted concept of evolution from Creationist/ Christian apologetics websites who likewise have effectively avoided actual reading and absorption of evolutionary theory. Then, you take your utterly convoluted concept and regurgitate it to your own children, and to fellow congregants in the “1st Baptist Church of Self Imposed Ignorance.” You likely attend school board meetings where you dismiss evolutionary theory as “morally defunct,” an insidious danger to the youth of your town. Your own ignorance is responsible for promulgating stupidity - effectively shutting down any possible interest in education, exploration of science ... the “wonderment” and beauty of natural selection ... and condemning the children in your area to religious non-think and medieval rejection of reason.

If anything could be classified as immoral it would be your own actions, the product of your own ignorance.

I'm going to make the educated assumption that you're a Southern Baptist from the Deep South, to whom literal Biblical interpretation, rejection of scientific evidence, and the denigration of science and reality is not so much a hobby as it is a veritable avocation.

That said: I hope this reply helped you in some small way, albeit, I do not hold out much hope. This is a business site. Since we have no business to conduct subsequent communications from you will not be welcomed nor replied to.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Insipid Christian Comments 101: “Coincidence is the atheist’s excuse for not believing in God.””

The odds of any one individual being struck by falling space junk are estimated to be approximately 1 in 21 trillion. That’s a serious long shot.

And yet, if man and the planet Earth are lucky enough to survive for an extended period of time, and we continue to insert space junk into orbit, it’s a safe bet –at least even money - that one of our future relatives is going to get their oversized cranium crushed by the remnants of something earthlings shot into space. If I was to make such a bet, and take the affirmative outcome, it wouldn’t be based on “faith,” it would be based on statistical analysis.

“Coincidence is the atheist’s excuse for non belief.” has become a favored hackneyed platitude among the non-thinking. It is the cagier sibling of the “It takes more faith to be an atheist than a believer.” old saw that Christians roll out from time to time. Both of these one liners are pulled from fundamentalist apologetics sites and repeated ad nauseum. Hailed as highly insightful by the unthinking they are more reflective of an embarrassed admission of their lack of scientific understanding; a defense of their rejection of reason; and the wanton refusal to dissect their credulity than anything approaching serious argument for belief or against reason.

Would it be coincidence if someone is struck by space junk far off into the future? Not if you accept statistical probability as real. Does it really take faith to realize that since we have already discovered planets that orbit within their sun’s habitable zone (the “sweet spot” necessary to sustain life as we understand it), to accept that earth is just one of perhaps millions of planets in the universe similarly situated? We don’t have to take the existence of such a possibility on faith, after all, we have the model for it right

Does it really take more faith to accept in the probability that all the components – the necessary elements and conditions for life - converged on earth during its first 11 billion years to yield simple life forms some 3 billion years ago, than it does to accept a super boogieman of unknown origin decided to throw it together in a week, like some grandiose 4H project? After all, how many billions of planets failed to get hit with that "space junk" of life - or did, and it failed to take root?

Nothing about rejection of the supernatural is faith based, it is reality based. Faith is the rejection of what they call “coincidence,” what we’d call inductive probability. Faith requires no probability analysis, indeed demands the rejection of it. Faith needs no understanding of the chemical make up of the cosmos. Faith requires the dismissal of the scientific method; of observation; of corroborating evidence by varied scientific disciplines. Faith demands a divine purpose and prime mover. It requires turning a blind eye toward, even ridiculing, any reality that jeopardizes that which is accepted as a truth because the Bible tells them it is truth.

Faith has no problem with accepting divinely created mud-men and rib-women, talking snakes and donkeys; a place of eternal pain or eternal happiness after death; an earth only a few days older than the 6,000 years the biblical literalists claim man has existed. The fantastical becomes fact. It requires no analysis of probability, objective data, observation or anything remotely associated with science or exists in the suspended animation of non-think, in diametric opposition to reason and discovery.

In short, faith is the religionists’ excuse for remaining ignorant.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Atheist Camel & The Christian Left: Strange Bedfellows?

I suppose the old saying is wrong - perhaps you can teach an old camel new tricks. Or if not tricks, at least get him to rethink his self proclaimed anti-theist label. That’s what happened to me when I was introduced to a liberal Christian Facebook group and a blogging minister both of which invoked in me what can best described as an epiphany (the non-religious definition thereof).

Right about here is where I can just about hear the gasps and panicked ejaculations (the non-sexual definition thereof) from my readers: “The camel’s gone Jesus Freak on us!”, “He’s lost his humpin mind!”, “Say it ain’t so!” Relax. Take a breath. Pour yourself a martini, and sit back. Stay with me, because what I’m about to share here may be as perspective changing and as welcomed a comfort to you as it was for me.

But, first let me reassure you that as it relates to those theists who want to control our lives, and force their beliefs on us and our government, or who kill in the name of their religion I will always be an anti-theist. Nothing has changed there. I have always said that it is the duty of every atheist/freethinker to, in some way large or small, stand against and counter the religious fanatic agenda. I also retain my contention that religion is, in and of itself, a source of reality avoidance that civilization would be better off without... even in it's benign forms.

What I want to tell you is that we are not alone. As atheists / freethinkers we are not the only ones waging the battle to keep the Wall of Separation between Church and State standing tall and unshaken. We are not the only voice in opposition to a Christian US theocracy, or against imposition of religious precepts into government or our personal lives. We aren’t the only ones who find the Christian right extremist threatening to our freedoms as secularists, thinking people, women, or gays. Our disgust at the religious right’s historical revisionism, “Christian Nation” rhetoric, and divinely inspired candidacies and wars is not exclusively ours. If you ever felt like it was just us against the Santorums, Perrys, Huckabees, Bachmanns, Dobsons, Glenn Becks, Hannitys, Limbaughs, et al you should be happy to know you were mistaken.

I was introduced by a fb friend* to a 13,000 strong member group entitled “Christians Tired of being Misrepresented.” Reading their posts and objectives it was clear that they share our concerns and are actively fighting the religious right. Oh sure, they still revert to bible quotes, and speak of Jesus as a god, but they see Jesus as a liberal, not a war mongering, gay hating, anti-abortion pontificating American national. Here’s an extract of a posting at random:

“Deeply rooted Biblical traditions denied women and slaves their equal rights, and that was wrong. We’re doing it again, this time with increased vigor. Knock it off Christians.

If you are not known for the love you give all others, you’ve missed the point of the relationship with Jesus. We make Him look bad, really bad and our image sure could do with a boost. If we were to actually reflect the Man who came for all, loved all and served all, we’d get it right, finally.

And, this equality thing, it is a Jesus value. People outside the church, sadly, seem to know this better than we do.”

Not something you’d expect to hear from the stereotypical Christian. Nor do they proselytize there, or condemn those of other or no beliefs. I was welcomed there as a fellow traveler in the fight to retain that which the Religious Right would take from us or force upon us.

On the same page I also stumbled across Rev. Guy Lynch who has his own page entitled “The Practical Christian” as well as his own radio program and blog. His fervent support for gay marriage, equality for of the sexes, the separation of church and state almost brought a tear to this old camel’s eye. I even made a small contribution to his ministry and have established a dialog with him. Other than Rev. Barry Lynn, the director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, I had no idea that men of the cloth like this existed, much less a whole movement of like minded Christians. There are other such groups with much larger memberships. “The Christian Left” page has over 50,000 members.

With all the news reports of the Christian Right’s outrageous antics and war on reason it’s easy to lose site of the fact that they do not represent all believers in this country. I need to be reminded from time to time that not all Christians are a fanatical threat; that there are reasoned people of faith who share our ideals in spite of their Christianity (or as they’d probably say because of their Christianity). We can all take some comfort in the fact that the moderate and liberal Christians DO see the threat we see, Do object to it, and ARE actively speaking out and voting against it.

The old Arabic saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has never been more appropriate. To discover that tens of thousands of brothers in arms against the religious right are out there, and speaking up is a great relief to me. I don’t care one bit what their religious perspectives are. I’m proud to call them friend.

*{thanks to Cheryl Stone-Hamilton for opening my eyes to these new bedfellows}