Wednesday, January 30, 2013

“Dear Hump”: Advice to the religiously unafflicted

From time to time I receive letters asking my advice on how to handle uncomfortable religious situations. Thought I’d share a few with you.

Dear Hump,
My friends are mostly Christians. That’s fine, I don’t care. But I get awfully tired of them reminding me that they believe in Jesus on a daily basis. I’m at my wits end, what do you suggest?
Put upon in Texas

Dear Put Upon,
This requires some tact. Here’s my suggested retort:

"I WOULD believe in Jesus, but I have devoted my life to Moloch who has brought me fertile crops, male children, and victory in war...and I don't even have to attend church...just sacrifice to Him the first born child of one of my Xtian friends every year."

When they ask who Moloch is, tell them that if they were TRUE Xtians they'd have read their fricken Bible and know who He is! Moloch is the Greek form, Molech is the Hebrew form of this wondrous deity with an appetite for infants.

Dear Mr. Hump,
A Muslim at work whips out his prayer rug three times a day which management says is okay. But he also washes his feet in the toilets at work before each prayer leaving the toilet and floor wet and disgusting. I reported it to my supervisor who told me he can’t infringe on this person’s religious practices. Now what?
Yours truly,
Grossed Out in Arkansas

Dear Grossed Out,
Yes, I’m familiar with this delightfully hygienic (!) practice of Muslims in the workplace. They also have a propensity to not use toilet paper, and prefer to wipe butt with rocks or their bare left hand, in accordance with the Koran. They claim to then wash that hand. Keep that in mind should you be offered a high-five from one of them.

Since your honest initial complaint has fallen on deaf ears you’re going to have to raise the stakes. I suggest you casually inform your supervisor that you are Wicca. You can explain that the US Military has recognized Wicca as a legitimate religion, permitting Wicca grave markers in national cemeteries.

You’re not the average run of the bonfire Wicca, you are a devout follower of a little known Wicca sect that requires you to strip naked and dissect a bat or other small rodent and smear its entrails on the mirrors in the bathroom twice a day to cleanse them of evil spirits from the nether world. If he balks, be sure to remind him the Muslim is befouling the same area and hint at a religious discrimination suit.

If necessary, I’d be happy to provide you with a notarized letter that confirms this essential ritual, and a sample bat. Good Luck.

Dear Hump,
My new girl friend is from an Orthodox Jewish family. Her dad is a rabbi.

While she is more liberal / reformed than her folks, she only dates Jewish guys. So I lied and said I was Jewish. This was four weeks ago. She is now ready to become “intimate,” and I fear the jig will be up when she discovers I’m not circumcised.

Any advice on how to handle this would be greatly appreciated. She's hot, doesn’t even LOOK Jewish, and I really like her a lot.
Don’t Call Me Goy
Brooklyn, NY

Dear Don’t Call Me,

Well, this is a ticklish situation. Kind of hard to pull off (so to speak) the fake “Yiddisha boychik” routine without a properly bobbed schlong. That turtleneck on your putz is a dead give away. But don’t despair you have a few options.

First, level with her. Honesty is the best policy. If it was meant to be it’ll happen. If she freaks, well, it was going to happen sooner or later. Better to end it now.

If you’re not comfortable with that, and if you like this girl …and I mean a whole lot of like … I can hook you up with my Hump’s Home Self Circumcision Set, as seen on TV (Hump’s Home Self Baptism Set, Hump’s Home Self Exorcism Set, and Hump’s Home Self Hemorrhoidectomy Set are all sold separately).

Finally, assuming you’re not ready to make that level of commitment, and since I didn’t see any reference to “love” in your letter - and thus obviously aren’t about to lose your mind and become Jewish - as that moment of truth approaches, and she takes one gander at your shmeckle and starts to balk, you can suggest that it may be less of a problem for her to boff an uncut and non-delusional atheist than for her to explain to her dad why she ate that bacon and lobster sandwich at the goy restaurant you took her to last week.

Email me her picture and I’ll photoshop in a lobster roll with bacon bits so big it would choke a Time Square hooker. When dealing with the religiously afflicted, all’s fair in love and war.

Get back to me. I’m always happy to help.

Friday, January 25, 2013

“Atheism isn’t winning” and other insights into self deception of the religious

“Atheism isn't winning in the world. Quite the opposite. Besides atheists reproduce at a slower rate than people of faith. We’ll see who is right. ”

The above is a synopsis of a reply I received from a Catholic believer to a Huffington Post comment I left about another disgusting Church misstep. It demonstrates the degree of denial that pervades the unthinking mind of the religious. My reply follows:

Respect for reality, for science, for allowing women to control their own bodies is winning. Acceptance of people for who they are, not for who they love is winning. Realizing killing in the name of a god is delusional, is winning. Reason over myth is winning.

Oh… no, not among the third world nations, the least educated, the most impoverished, the most hopeless and repressed. In that respect you're right. Islam is growing faster than any other religion, then Mormonism and the Evangelical branches of Xtianity in those places. There religion and its promise of a better life after death will always flourish. For indeed, much as though a cup of warm urine would be welcomed by a dehydrated person in the throes of death, so too will those who have nothing to lose drink the poison of delusion and false promise that is religion and the supernatural.

The number of atheists in Europe, Japan, Australia/NZ, and the US has been growing in double digits for years, while those identifying as Christian has steadily declined. People come to reason on their own, not en mass like sheep through religious indoctrination. I know few who were born into an atheist family and "brought up" atheist. Virtually all the atheists I know were once religionists who came to reason - through reason.

It's not about reproducing so children can be brainwashed at infancy into belief or non-belief, albeit that's the Church's preferred method. It's about the exponential growth in respect for science and scientific discovery; communication via internet spreading fact and truth; undeniable shrinking of blind beliefs and growth in demand for evidence that makes secular numbers increase.

And no, we won't see. We'll both be dead. It will be another 60-80 years, based on poll extrapolations before the US is majority non-believers, and before the practitioners of supernaturalism and ignorance in the other industrialized nations are but a small Druids, and dismissed as clinging cultists, like Scientologists.

Meanwhile, I will happily watch the implosion of the Church under its own perversion, corruption and lies; watch its influence continue to decline, parishes close, priest position go unfilled, the unending prosecution for misdeeds; and watch countries start taxing them.

But deny all you like; reject the Pew and Gallop Polls over the past decade; turn a blind eye to the increase in secularism in the industrialized / educated / and producing world. It makes no difference. Christianity is witnessing its own near death experience. Reality doesn't change because you reject it, ignore it, or fear it.

{{{  NOTE TO MY READERS: I will be interviewed on "Atheists Talk", a radio show live from MN, this Sunday January 27 at 10:00 am (eastern) that's 9:00 a.m. Central time. Here's the link to listen live.  Sign in as a Minnesota state resident. .  Enjoy. }}}}

Friday, January 18, 2013

An Inaugural Benediction: If we weren’t a nation of deluded religionists

Apparently they had a little problem finding a clergyman to do next Monday’s inaugural benediction who didn’t have some embarrassing skeleton in his closet. The first one turned out to have issues. I can’t even remember now whether it was with homophobia or anti-Semitism, afterall when speaking of Xtians it’s hard to keep it straight. Whether it’s finding a pastor to endorse a candidate, or finding one to appoint for some quasi-governmental function this always seems to be a problem of sorts.

They finally found a shaman who it seems doesn’t have any history of publicly professing hate and prejudice as mandated by the bible. But never mind, we know where the holy witch doctor will take us with his sanctimonious mumblings. It will inevitably include some appeal to the Great Pumpkin to guide the country to recovery and higher greatness; some prayerful wish for this quasi-benevolent monster to protect our president, and perhaps implant some reason and civility into our congress. A veritable hand in hat begging for some divine intervention to stop violence and to end bickering that divides our nation.

In response, the god-thing will remain silent and unresponsive, as god things always do. God thing it seems has other things on its mind like laughing at that Notre Dame football player who had an imaginary girlfriend to match his imaginary god. Or simply wallowing in its own nonexistence.

Just once I’d like to see the obligatory invoking of the spirit world every four years replaced by something meaningful - something that captures the 21st century drive toward reason. Something like this:

"Let's all use our humanity, self determination and common sense, to make this a better nation for everyone. Let’s re-establish the tradition of bridging divides by compromise as our Founders envisioned it. Let’s assess our needs and priorities and stop taking extremist positions…in any direction.

Let’s quit demonizing those with whom we disagree, be it a fellow politician, or our neighbor down the street. Let’s quit depending on some story book character to take control and do something for us when all that does is breed false hope while shifting the responsibility for our nation’s direction away from our own minds and hands.

Let’s grow the hell up and get to work.  The lives and happiness of our children’s children depend on it.

There’s a benediction I could get behind. Perhaps my great grand children will hear those words spoken and see their president place his hand on a copy of the US Constitution instead of a hideous book of horrors, intolerance and lies. Perhaps some day – when man evolves further and supernaturalism and archaic beliefs are but a dim memory. Perhaps then will man's intellect, honesty, fairness and courage reign supreme unencumbered by fanatical Bronze Age and 1st century cultist mind enslavement and impotence.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why do some atheists have to be such hard headed “Believers”?

In one chapter of my first book I criticized certain atheists for what I describe as their anal retentive trait for dissecting everything ad nauseum - you know like if you were to greet them with "Nice day, huh?” they’d reply "Oh? Define ‘day’!"   Words mean things and we want to be sure we are on the same wave length lest we be talking at cross purposes or using inappropriate and inaccurate terminology. But there comes a point where it becomes an obsession among some atheists. All in all it’s a largely harmless, if a little frustrating, idiosyncrasy.

More recently I noticed another peculiarity that, while not the sole purview of atheists, certainly seems to be deeply engrained among some of our number. I’m referring to a rabid distrust of things that would appear benign to most people. Recently this manifested itself in a discussion on the current flu epidemic and flu shots.

I mentioned on my facebook page that the flu has killed twenty people in New Hampshire thus far this season. Given that the season started early this year, it is expected we will have the highest death rate in over a decade from the disease. Nationally as of this writing 47% of the states are reporting high admissions to hospitals, overwhelming some ERs. The rate of infection has caused the Center for Disease Control to classify it as an epidemic. Boston’s mayor declared a “health emergency.”

Imagine my surprise when my suggestion to my facebook friends that they protect themselves and loved ones and get their flu shots, as my wife and I did back in October, was met with outright indignation by perhaps a third of respondents to the comment. I was accused of having “drunk the Kool Aid.” handed to me by some Jim Jonesish consortium of the pharmaceutical industry, health care experts, and the government. Although not clearly defined by these skeptical folks, they seemed to imply it was a money making scheme at best, or an attempt to infect us with some “live virus” for an obscure and unnamed purpose at worst. I was waiting for but mercifully never heard the theory that this flu hype was a way for the government to obtain and file our DNA, although I suspect some number of them did harbor that meme.

If these weren’t atheists, one and all, I’d have half expected one of them to declare that Big Brother wanted to steal their soul, or mark them with the sign of the Beast.

It gets worse. Although zero evidence exists for it, and it has been debunked universally by medical science, I’ve repeatedly seen otherwise reasoned atheists say that childhood inoculations (i.e. smallpox, polio, whooping cough, et al) are the cause of autism. One of my fb contacts said she won’t get a tetanus shot and won’t let them inoculate her children. I consider that almost as bad as a faith healer or Christian Scientist who would refuse state of the art medical care in favor of faith. Both are delusional.

Skepticism is a good thing, it’s what makes atheists freethinkers; what separates us from the religionists and the woo-woo New Agers. But once we get hooked on some kind of irrational suspicion of medical science, ignoring history and fact, preferring to embrace some unsupportable conspiracy theory or a manufactured plot with no supporting evidence, we are no better than the religious who embrace blind belief over reason. And like fundamentalist blind belief, it’s no longer just a harmless idiosyncrasy; it becomes dangerous, potentially for everyone.

Go get your damn flu shot. It’s 62% effective, and even if you are among those who contract a strain of the flu after the inoculation your symptoms would be greatly reduced. If not for yourself… do it for your family and friends you’re liable to infect.   Besides, the government needs some of your life force for a very special ...OOPs... nevermind that last part!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Words to Live and Die by

I met Molly, a delightful octogenarian atheist, at a weekly philosophy seminar I’ve been attending. While chatting with her she proffered this wonderful phrase:

  “I don’t want my soul saved, I want to spend it.”

Not just some throwaway line, Molly lives that motto to the fullest. It’s her creed, her modus operandi, her reason for living. The more I thought about it the more I realized how marvelously profound it is.

Molly patently rejects the supernaturalist’s promise of life after death, of a “soul” that lives on in some ephemeral state of constant praise and worship to some egotistical boogieman. She doesn’t want any part of some canned-corn childlike concept of living forever in some bodiless condition dangled before her as some kind of carrot reward for self delusion and denial or reality.

Molly lives her life to the max, even in her declining years and with great effort just to be ambulatory. She commits herself to spending her remaining life term expanding her knowledge; establishing new friendships; exchanging ideas; experiencing new challenges. To do less would be to squander the only life she’s banked on. She’s not going to let anything get in the way of exhausting every asset of the life she inherited, and plans to leave not one cent of it behind. Words to live and die by.

Humans are thought to be the only life form that can contemplate their own death. I have many times and in various circumstances: In combat; when diagnosed with cancer many years ago; after a close call while driving; or while empathizing with a friend or loved one whose relative was facing imminent death. On all of those occasions I never once contemplated what happens after that final act. Never fretted over “what’s next?” Never had a moment’s concern about what’s in store, what it will be like, where am I going and do I deserve it? Fact is, fear of death never enters my mind. To paraphrase Galileo: “I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be frightened by the dark.”

Now, fear of the actual process of dying…well, that’s a whole ‘nuther matter. It’s rare for the act of dying, the causal factor, to be a pleasurable experience. If it was, people would be dying to die. Thus, I tend to avoid dying like I avoid the plague. But I’ll waste not one precious second of this one and only life worrying about what happens when the light is switched off and I slip into oblivion. I’ve seen what happens to dead animals and vegetation and I’m fine with that. I’m just dyin’ to become star stuff ...but then, we all are, no matter how much the religionists, New Agers, and mystics hope and pray otherwise.

Let those who buy into the Ponzi scheme of death avoidance squander their precious bankroll of life groveling before statues, and praising their imaginary benefactor. Like Molly, I’ll have invested a lifetime in my existence and I plan to spend it all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A minor epiphany from the one true God


3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

I had one of those Sunday night. It was so overwhelming, so moving, that I was stunned by an involuntary emotional response. I imagine this is what New Agers and religionists call having a “spiritual moment.” Let me explain.

60 Minutes aired a story about a team of scientists who, with support from the US military, were working to make fully articulated robotic limbs that could be controlled by the brain of paraplegics and amputees. By implanting tiny circuitry into the surface of the brain, and running leads from the skull to the artificial limb, a person was able to control the arm movement and hand manipulations simply through thought. Over the past five years they have progressed to the point where nerves in a severed stump can activate the full range of motion even allowing the fingers of the mechanical hand to sense the density of the object being grasped and send the signal back to the amputee’s brain. They expect to go wireless over the next few years.

The implications of this breakthrough technology are vast for paraplegics, amputees, stroke victims, people suffering from muscular and neurological diseases. It extends beyond limb replacement to the potential of restoring sight and hearing in the blind and deaf.

While the current configuration is in what is akin to the “Model T” stage, there is no doubt… read it again: NO DOUBT, that this will revolutionize the medical field, changing the very definition of quality of life for millions of people. It is the fantasy of the bionic man coming to reality. It heralds an age where people once condemned to a life of dependency will be restored to virtual wholeness… perhaps even better than the original human body parts.

I watched the prototype being used by a woman whose genetic disease left her a quadriplegic, and a man who had lost his arm below the elbow in an accident. I witnessed something special, and experienced an enthusiasm, an excitement, awe. Whatever it’s called, I was moved.

And then it hit me. There IS a God. A God that doesn’t promise fulfillment of desperate prayers, or hopeful response to sung praises and then fails to deliver. A God that isn’t hidden behind some veil of supernatural mystery, or housed in some mystical place of post death wonderment. A God that doesn’t demand blind belief; threaten punishment; kill its self/offspring as retribution for an imagined insult.

This God delivers what the gods born of man’s religious meme have never fulfilled and will never deliver. This God works not in a“strange and mysterious way” but with reason and purpose that can be observed and marveled at with each successive generation. A God who is dedicated to exploring, uncovering, lifting that veil of mystery bringing advancement into the light of day and open for everyone to see admire and praise. A God who delivers results that are the fruits of his reality, ingenuity, and pursuit of knowledge; not some hit or miss throw of the dice outcome by a make believe monster being whose infamous disdain for knowledge inspired a mythical eternal curse on mankind for daring to attain it.

My epiphany? Simply put: There is a God. It is here and now, and it is Us.

While Man as God can and does show his most heinous side - it is never worse than the imagined fiendish and inexplicable acts of the invented destroyer God that billions mindlessly worship, and whose non-existence cannot restore a single human limb.

You may say that wasn’t much of an epiphany - that anyone with a modicum of cognition unencumbered by religious mumbo-jumbo understands this. Maybe you’re right.

But when this old camel’s eyes spontaneously turned watery from the spectacle of this one human achievement – at witnessing the joy of those who experienced it and in anticipation of the multitude that will some day share that joy; at man accomplishing with mind and dedication what a billion trillion prayers to a pantheon of gods have never, could never and will never accomplish – it was as grand a “eureka” moment as a realist could hope to have.

Damn, reason feels good.