Thursday, June 28, 2012

So, Mrs. Bachmann, how's that prayer stuff workin' for ya?

On the day of a historic Supreme Court decision that will change the face of health care in this nation for the better, it is proper and fitting to post this extract from a 2009 news report entitled:  

Bachmann:Prayer and fasting will help defeat health care reform

“That’s really where this battle will be won — on our knees in prayer and fasting. Remember: faith without works is dead. So we’re asking you to do all of it: pray, fast, believe, trust the Lord, but also act.”
  - Michele Bachmann

This is the face and the mentality of the Republican Party.  Be proud Republicans.
I for one would have been happy to have joined her in prayer ... prayer for her to fast herself into a coma.  Alas, it seems her continued existence and Obama's health care plan, were some Gawd's will.

(Thanks Rachel H. for linking me to this story)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What’s really behind this atheist’s conversion to Catholicism?.

A friend and reader (TY, Sue) brought to my attention the matter of Leah Libresco, a twenty-four year old prominent atheist blogger for Pathoes and the Huffington Post who has announced she decided to become Christian   And not just Christian, but is converting to Catholicism - arguably the sect most ensconced in extreme supernaturalism.  It seems she claims to have succumbed to Christian arguments about morality being God given and decided there must be a god. Naturally, the religious community is rejoicing. "Heaven is roaring its approval'" exclaimed one sheeple.  Story here:

Her more detailed explanation sounds much like convoluted Chopra-esque double-speak: random words thrown together into indecipherable gobbeldy-gook that she is probably  very proud of.
Conversions of the faithful from belief to atheism/agnosticism  are common, happening by the thousands every day.  But an atheist conversion to religiosity, a person of reason who presumably respects evidence, science, and modernity and is immersed in secular readings and education is rarer than an uncircumcised Jew.  People of reason don’t commonly succumb to delusion and ignorance and just abandon reason because of hackneyed argument proffered by a religionist in debate that has been blunted and refuted ad nauseum. 

The few atheist conversions to the dark side of belief I’ve heard of are rather famous.  CS Lewis, the author and Xtian apologist claimed to have been an atheist who found Jesus. Problem is, as I discussed in The Atheist Camel Chronicles, he was 15 years old when he came to Jesus, and said he was an atheist because he was “angry at God.”  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that being fifteen and “angry at god” (an oxymoron for a genuine atheist) does not an atheist make.

Another famous, and presumably genuine, atheist convert is  Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, who says he was an atheist while a graduate student, but then was asked by a patient what he believes in, causing him to examine the existence of god. (that’s the short story).  He was also swayed by CS Lewis’ insipid (oops sorry), by CS Lewis’ apologetic arguments for the existence of god. While he embraces the concept of a supernatural being, he rejects young earth and creationism (pick and choose religionist).

Collins has deluded himself so effectively that he has created a unique comfy little zone that allows him to accommodate non-evidence supported supernatural belief and yet still practice the objective evidence driven demands of genuine science..  He does it brilliantly. He has convinced himself that his work in deciphering the human genome is deciphering the language of god.  Thus, he is an anomaly among his peers in the hard sciences whose work and discoveries have lead well over 90% of them away from belief and firmly planted in the reality of atheism/agnosticism.  
When I consider these examples the concept of my chucking rational thought and respect for reason out the window, and dropping back to medieval non-think isn’t something I can even fathom.  It would be akin to my suddenly rejecting everything I know about the universe and embracing the geocentric model of the solar system.  Or waking up one day and having the epiphany that the rainbow isn’t just refracted sunlight passing through water’s REALLY god’s reaffirmation to me personally that he won’t be pulling another one of his famously murderous great floods.

So what to make of this?  What’s behind this young atheist blogger’s sudden belief that eating a magical wafer and drinking wine is cannibalizing the actual body and blood of a 2000 year old dead man-god?  That a demon can infest ones body? That dead things spontaneously come to life; that virgins give birth; that hundreds of saints are standing by to act as a conduit for your prayers to god; and that telepathically telling this being you accept him as your master will give you eternal life in heaven after you become worm chow?  In my opinion, and by my experience, there are at least four possible explanations for this girl’s sudden abandonment of  reason:

1.  She harbored but suppressed the culturally induced beliefs of her parents and boyfriend (a Catholic by the way)  all along, perhaps unconsciously;  and now feels left out and  yearning to be embraced by the community and receive the nurturing she see’s in church centered religious life.
2.  She is an immature girl who has succumbed to the pressures of her boyfriend and his Catholic circle of friends and is experiencing the equivalent of the Stockholm syndrome.
3. She is suffering from a mental imbalance or undetected brain tumor.
4. She is pulling a world class poe; will eventually out herself, laugh at how everyone   fell for her gag; and make quite a few thousand dollars from a tell all book.

If it’s one or two... she’ll be back to reason eventually.
If it’s three... sorry, get well soon..
If it’s the last, she had better be prepared for a major backlash from the media.  They hate being fooled.  Trust me...I know.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Just how much institutionalized malfeasance would you excuse, and why?

Vocal and persistent comments supportive of the Catholic Church from apologists posted to USA Today’s online religion news stories got me thinking: exactly how much illegal, illicit, and unconscionable behavior would I tolerate before I would withdraw my support from an organization to which I belong?

I’m not a big joiner.  I tend to do my own thing.  But, I do belong to a few organizations, mostly freethinker oriented.  I pay my annual dues, get their newsletters and communications, respond to certain appeals to action or for donations, and attend meetings from time to time.  My life doesn’t revolve around these groups, but they provide me with a connection to the atheist community, an information flow which I find helpful for my writings and activism.  They are also on the front line in keeping creeping theocracy and religious intrusion at bay.

But what if one of these national organizations were engaged in cover-up of ongoing illegal activities of its paid employees?  What if a meaningful number, or even just a few of  the employees of one of these groups were  engaging in slave trade, or running a child prostitution ring, or purveying child porn, or simply molesting children or the mentally infirm?  And what if the senior executives of that organization knew about these activities for a long time and let them go on with nary a slap on the wrist, or just turning a blind eye?

What if the organization decided to keep the authorities out of the picture; took matters into their own hands by moving the guilty staff to other branches of the organization;  paid off or threatened victims with some action by a “higher authority” whatever that might be?

What if those people who committed the crimes were kept on the payroll, given retirement benefits, while their activities were swept under the rug for decades by their bosses, and their bosses’ bosses?  What if that organization’s modus operandi of cover up was an unwritten operating standard in order to preserve the organization’s credibility, prestige, membership, and financial solvency?

When this all unraveled;  when it became exposed; when years of massive abuse, institutionalized cover-up, denial, lies, and ruined lives floated to the top like so much sewage in a cesspool and continued to bubble up to the surface ten years after the organization promised to clean house and end it  ...  could you continue to proudly proclaim your allegiance? 

Could you slough it off? Could you justify your membership by saying “It’s just an aberration, it could happen anywhere,” or “it was only a few people, and some of the hierarchy,” or “I don’t believe it - most of the victims are probably lying,” or  “My organization is no worse than that other organization.” ? 

Could you keep paying dues, contributing to support something which has at its root a sickness that is so engrained and so deep that it continues the deviant destructive behavior today in offices all over the country, known to management yet still kept under wraps, hushed, ignored?  Wouldn’t that make you an active participant in promulgating a great evil?

I for one could not ignore it.  I could not support it. I could not allow my name to be included among that group’s membership. I’m better than that.  My life is not dependent on any one group so that my instinct for justice, and my outrage against abuse of power in its most heinous form, could be ignored or justified.  I would protest loudly and resign in indignation.

“But,” some might say, “you’re taking a myopic view.  The organization is bigger than a few miscreants, and their supervisors, and their supervisors’ supervisors who perpetrated these wrongs and allowed them to go on.  Look at all the good the organization has done. Besides, it was launch by THE truly great freethinker of all time. You can’t just leave because of this.”

Yeah...I can. 

You see I wouldn’t be leaving an organization that was allowing its pumped up self importance to become its sole raison d'etre at the expense of its conscience and morality and those it promised to serve -  the organization will have left me long before I left it. 

Catholics cannot understand or absorb this.  Or worse, they justify it or down play it and continue to enable their secretive den of self serving shaman. They are so tied to this misogynistic fraternity of sickness, subterfuge and supernatural delusion that they fear their life (or soul) is in the balance and thus demands their continued support.   Damn the laity and paid apologists who make a career out of lying in defense of the church permitting the perpetuation of its ills.

The Vatican has had its way manipulating people for almost 1700 years. Fight it as they may, the end of their influence is just coming into view. The enablers’ transparency cannot hold back the tide of reality.   The sooner it gets here and washes away the filth that is the Catholic Church, the better off the planet will be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Word of advice to a prayerful young car salesman

Scott  _ _ _ _ _
XXX Holden Hill Rd.
Langdon, NH 03602

Dear Scott,

I’m one of your neighbors to whom you sent your letter announcing your new position as salesman at the Toyota dealership in Keene. I live just down the hill at the “Camel Ranch.”  Congratulations and good luck on your new career. 

Interestingly, your timing is propitious since my wife and I are about to replace her aging 2001 Nissan Altima.. Even more coincidental, while I have traditionally purchased my cars from Nissan of Keene (a neighbor being the dealership owner, as you probably are aware) a friend suggested I look into the Toyota Camry.  Note that I said coincidental, not a miracle, nor part of God’s plan, not even an answer to your prayers- which brings me to the reason for this letter.  I have some advice to offer.

I’m presuming you’re young.  Then again compared to me most people are.  I surmised this for two reasons: first, because you just did a hitch in the Air Force and didn’t mention that it was a career choice; and second because your letter was... well... unpolished. But that’s forgivable.  The fact that you took the initiative to reach out and promote your self to friends, neighbors and relatives to try and develop a clientele is admirable.

But you made a misstep in your closing paragraph that comes close to being unforgivable. I’m not entirely sure what you meant by “My prayers and heartfelt appreciation is with you.”  

You see, Scott, I don’t want your prayers.  I didn’t ask for your prayers. I dismiss prayer as both silly and a waste of time.  I can’t even imagine what you would pray for, and to whom, on behalf of a complete stranger who you’ve never met.  I also don’t think you are genuinely praying for me, or for the other complete strangers and prospective clients to whom you sent your letter.  My educated guess is that it was an empty and meaningless knee-jerk platitude.

I don’t care if you just assumed it was a harmless nicety; or that it was heartfelt because of a religious upbringing; or whether it is something the Air Force taught you - their propensity for attempts at religious indoctrination of airmen having been widely reported.  Religious references have no place in a business letter; that is unless you’re selling Bibles, religious paraphernalia, actual pieces of the True Cross, or a time share in Jesus’ tomb.  It’s simply inappropriate.  It won’t endear you to the already religious because they know it’s an empty platitude since they use it themselves. But it can alienate you from reasoned and thinking people who reject religion as nonsensical pap at best; a world wide evil at worst.

I was [  ]
ß this far from throwing your letter in the trash and bypassing Toyota altogether.  But I will put aside your inadvertent offense born of your being a business neophyte and likely completely unaware of how insipid your prayer reference comes across.  I will not hold it against you.

When my wife and I come to your dealership we will ask for you.  Calm yourself Scott.   It is not an answer to your prayers. The Hindu god Ganesh is the god of good fortune, and I doubt he is on your list of prayed to deities.    If my non-belief is an impediment to your selling me a car pass me onto another salesman who knows how to differentiate between earning a living, and promulgating their delusion. Just be sure you keep your religion, prayers, and offer of an extended warranty to yourself.

[[[Note:  I haven't sent this letter...yet.  Mrs. Hump threatened to turn me into a gelding camel if I do.  Weighing the cost benefits.]]]]

Friday, June 8, 2012

What’s behind the “sudden epidemic” of Christian hate?

The media has been a blaze with news reports of Xtians launching hate campaigns across the nation.  Not just your usual everyday Xtians, these are pastors – leaders of flocks, men of God, and followers of Christ.

Of particular note are these:
May 2, Pastor Sean Harris of NC, tells his congregation to beat their gay children  until they turn heterosexual.

May 25, also in North Carolina, Pastor Charles L. Worley demanded gays be put into concentration camps until they die out.

June 5, Rev. John Hagee (the same reverend John McCain originally courted and won the support of in 2008, then dumped) called for atheists to leave the country because we are hated and are bringing it down. .

And most recently on June 8 Pastor Terry Jones, of the Koran burning debacle which resulted in riots and death across the middle east and endangered our service people, lynched an effigy of President Obama from a gallows in front of his church (see pic above).

A friend asked my opinion of what was going on.  Why this sudden spate of hateful rhetoric from the pulpit?  Was this venomous rhetoric in place of preaching God’s eternal love and kindness some kind of inexplicable epidemic that has infected the preachers of the “Prince of Peace’s religion”? 

Hardly, I explained.  This is simply the norm amongst the most devout purveyors of Christian kindness. That it is so readily observable is attributable to the internet’s and Youtube’s sharpened view of what otherwise would have been just fuzzy local events. These messages of hate, violence and intolerance have been preached from the pulpit and readily accepted by enthusiastic Christian sheeple for time immemorial. It is just less overt than the Christian inspired mass violence of pre 21st century practitioners..

“Wait a minute.” My friend interrupted.  “Christianity is all about love, exemplified by the sacrifice God made for us. Jesus said ‘Those who are without sin should cast the first stone.’ He said  ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.” He said ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’... What these men are saying isn’t at all what Jesus had in mind.”

And of course he’s right, but not in the way he thinks. If Jesus ever existed, what he had in mind was freeing Israel / Judea from foreign occupation, and restoring the Jewish throne, just like all the other Jewish “messiahs” that preceded and followed him. His kindly admonishments were for his own people, observant Jews who embraced and abided by the 613 rules/laws of the Tanakh. He had jack shit to say about how to treat those of varied races, those born with differing sexual preferences and those who weren’t your “neighbors” in belief.  He expected everyone to simply revert to the Tanakh, the Torah, AKA the Old Testament for guidance.  In short: “In the absence of Jesus’ enlightened Rule #2, revert to ass kicking vindictive Rule #1.”

What these good Christian pastors are doing is precisely what the “good book” tells them to do.  Oh selectively to be sure. After all, it’s much more convenient to justify and promote God’s endorsement of retribution for those you already hate, and for beating your children, and promoting the extinction of homosexuals, and the expulsion of heathens who don’t share your delusion, than it is to endorse his rule against wearing mixed fiber clothes and not eating Shrimp Creole.

Nah, it’s not an inexplicable epidemic of mass hatred infecting Christians.  It’s simply true Christianity conducting its business as usual... exposed to the world by modern technology.

 Eventually the veil will be totally lifted, the pretext dropped, and some enterprising pastor will have bumper stickers made and distributed to his congregation with a time honored, if unofficial motto:
“Christianity – Sowing Hate, Embracing  Ignorance & Killing with Kindness for Almost 2000 Years.”  

Monday, June 4, 2012

My apologies for those inappropriate Google ads.

I have deleted my Google Adsense account from The Atheist Camel.  They were posting ads on this page that I found personally offensive from anti-Obama, to pro-life, to Jesus praising, etc. in spite of my trying to get those types of ads blocked.

It isn't worth the few dollars they'd pay me to whore my blog to mindless right-wing and religious crap.

My apologies if you were as offended as I.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Watching a Theist Explode: Witnessing the end of faith?

When reality dawns on a devout Xtian stand back- you don’t want to get any of their fear and confusion splattered on your Birkenstocks.

I have a couple of Xtian internet friends that I’ve known for many years now.  A moderate / liberal “Christ follower” she’s only a short jog away from being rational.  Her husband, also an accepting Xtian, is a tad more afflicted with the God Virus. He’s a Bible banger, but mild mannered, not comfortable with debate and typically avoids confrontation. He’s from the hills of the Bible Belt, she’s from the North East.  I’ve shared some of my experiences with them in The Atheist Camel Chronicles.

So, imagine my surprise when out of the clear blue sky I get this posting to my Facebook page from “Jethro” (paraphrasing from memory):
“I’ve had enough!!  You spend page after page trying to disprove Jesus; more time than I do praising Him. Deep down you must really believe or you wouldn’t spend so much time denying Him.  I hope you find Him some Day. You just got called out BITCH!!”

This was so out of character for him I contacted his wife who was also taken aback at the bizarre outburst.  Having suffered a serious injury he’s been on and off mega narcotics, is suffering a great deal of discomfort, and has been out of work for a long time because of it. He has been under enormous physical and financial stress for almost two years now.   I hold no anger at his rant - no harm done. I hope he gets better and things turn around for the both of them soon.

But what’s interesting is that no where on my Facebook page have I ever attempted to disprove Jesus, nor any mythical figure.  Nor have I attempted such in my blog, or in my books. Trying to disprove the existence of Jesus, God, Isis, Ganesh, Mithra, Moloch, Big foot, or aliens among us would be the ultimate waste of time. I dismiss them simply because they lack objective evidence for their existence; not in a “spiritual”, live, dead, or zombie state.

And why does an atheist’s rejection of a scientifically unsupportable concept imply some sort of repressed deep seated belief to theists? Does the theist’s own denial of the thousands of gods man has dreamt up over millennia similarly imply they are harboring a suppressed belief in the pagan gods, many of whom are worshipped by millions to this day?  If the answer is “no” then why is it so easy for them to ignore that fact and project belief on those who simply reject as fable just one more god than they?

The predominant opinion is that these religionists simply lack the will or intellectual capability for self-reflection and analysis.  They cannot equate their own rejection of other peoples’ gods to an atheist’s legitimate rejection of their Xtian God. The “truth” of their belief is so evident to them, so obvious in spite of the absence of objective proof that for anyone to not accept it they must be “angry at God,” or “deceived by Satan,” or just in denial. 

But what could possibly have been the catalyst to prompt such a hostile outburst and unprovoked and uncharacteristic challenge from “Jethro”?   I have a theory. 

You see, he and his wife believe strongly in the power of prayer. Oh, not enough to entrust God to cure his physical condition without ongoing professional medical care, but enough to credit God with every crumb of positive fortune that falls into their laps.  If someone gives them $20.00 to pay for medication (they have little or no health care coverage), then it was God’s influence.  If their church fund provides them with groceries, or gas money to tide them over... their prayers were answered. If they get a cost of living increase on their disability payment, God did it. If his symptoms subside and he can walk without agonizing pain for the afternoon, Jesus had a hand in it. 

However, this self deception of attributing supernatural causes to natural and humanitarian acts of charity plays just so long / goes just so far.  It’s one thing to chalk up misfortune to a “test of faith” - it’s a whole ‘nother thing when conditions become such that the worry and tribulations never improve, never resolve and show no sign of ever abating.  When the landlord issues his final notice; when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from; when you suffer because there is no money for meds, or gasoline, or repairs, or electricity - and this continues for years with no foreseeable relief- in spite of daily appeals to the supernatural, one might begin to question the efficacy of prayer, or God’s benevolence, or perhaps even the existence of a god itself.

So what prompted Jethro’s inexplicable explosion and impassioned protestation of my supposed dedication to the disproval of Jesus and his tortured illogic of my harboring a repressed belief in his man-god? I proffer it is his own reckoning with reality as it begins to seep through the cracks of his failing faith. When one implores the non-existent with desperate pleas day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year and is met with deafening silence and inaction while others around you are prospering and enjoying good health even in their rejection of religious supernaturalism then “Why hath thou forsaken me?” or more likely “Where the fuck are you??” is a reasonable response.  After all, even mythical Job’s suffering was limited to weeks, or months at worst. Years of it would be untenable.

So, perhaps Jethro wasn’t entirely mistaken. Maybe Jesus IS being disproved, and an underlying repressed acceptance IS being harbored.  But the disproval is not of my making, it’s his; and the acceptance is one of hard reality – also his own. He is grieving the loss of a long held and all but unshakable belief and is understandably scared to death at the dawning of this revelation. Jethro’s psyche is hovering somewhere between “denial” and “anger“ in Kessler’s and Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief.

Welcome to the brink of rationality, Jethro.  Welcome to the cross road of free thought. Let not your heart be troubled. Although you don’t see it just yet, I promise you that there is comfort in the knowledge that you are the only master of your one and only life.  I hope it serves you as well as it does me. Embrace it.