Friday, December 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Peanut Butter Salvation

Folio Weekly, a Northeast Florida news and opinion magazine, has an excellent article on the downright pure nuttiness (ha!) that has infected some of the local megachurches.

Peanut Butter Salvation: Why a Southside megachurch thinks that goldfish swallowing and toe-licking will lead the next generation to God.
(link is to a PDF)

Some interesting quotes from the article:
Creaming the underarms of one of his youth leaders with
peanut butter was only one of Pastor Turner’s “challenges” at
the Deerfield Boulevard campus on Sept. 9. He
also liquefied a Happy Meal in a blender and challenged
four volunteers to chug it. And he tossed
raw pigs’ knuckles and chicken feet into a vat of
milk and selected two female volunteers to take
turns bobbing in it until one, then the other, surfaced
with a chicken foot in her teeth.
I guess it shouldn't shock me. I grew up hearing about people handling snakes. What's a raw pigs foot got that a snake doesn't? Er...maybe some parasites I guess.

This is how they are attracting teens to church. By staging "Fear Factor" like shows. What teen wouldn't want to see that? But where does this segue into Jesus? What lesson is being taught?

At least one parent wasn't impressed:
“It’s inappropriate anywhere, but that it’s
happening in a church is just horrible,” she
says. “What would you think if that was happening
in a home?”
The mother suggests that the act between
a minor and an adult in a private home
would seem not only inappropriate, but perverse
— and possibly illegal. But she says Pastor
Wyatt, 37, and other church leaders didn’t
concede there was anything wrong with what
they’d done. The woman decided not to allow
her son to attend the church again.
Yay! He was saved! (from that church).

In my opinion, this is what happens when inexperienced, uneducated people are put in charge of the lives of teens without any proper thought or supervision. Unfortunately, the story is worse when they are left with the supposedly experienced and educated...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Local Church Turns to Rationality for Swine Flu Prevention

I thought this was a pleasant surprise given the flu quackery from like likes of Fluff-Po:

Church Preaches Flu Prevention
Talking To Congregation About Staying Healthy

POSTED: Sunday, September 27, 2009

BRUNSWICK, Ga -- The congregation at First Jordan Grove Baptist Church studied more than just the Bible on Sunday. They also heard advice on how to stay healthy during flu season.

Pastor Ken Adkins said some members of his congregation have contracted the H1N1 virus and he wanted to make sure church members -- especially children and the elderly -- know how to protect themselves from getting sick.

“There is a lot of hugging, kissing, and handshaking going on in churches before, during and after church and Ibelieve people must begin to be more careful when it comes to this illness," Adkins said. "A church should be a place of empowerment."

A nurse was on hand for Swine Flu Sunday to give advice like washing your hands often and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze.

Church members were also given bottles of hand sanitizer during the service.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Boy Makes Me Proud

My son is now 10 years old and just started 5th grade. Aside from driving me crazy like any child should, he sometimes provokes good intellectual discussions that make me smile because it seems like at least somewhere along the line I did something right as a parent.

The other morning we were on the way to school and somehow got on the subject of the different types of gods people worship. I'm not sure how the conversation started but we talked about how when people didn't understand how things worked they attributed them to a god. So there were many gods: water, sky, thunder, moon, sun, etc.

I said something like "People wondered what that great warm ball of light was that rose every morning in the east. They thought it was a god and perhaps that worshiped it for fear that it wouldn't come up the next morning."

And my son responded: "You would think they would test that out and not worship it one day just to see."

Ah, logic. He makes me proud.

The conversation continued. He said that once people were able to go into outer space they knew God wasn't in the sky. I told him that some cultures believe God is everywhere and in everything, they are pantheists. He liked that idea, he thought it made more sense than trying to put God into one thing or another. We also talked about how the Christian god started out as something of a mountain god or sky god and evolved into an all knowing, all seeing, omnipotent type of god. At this point he got bored (he is 10 after all) and we changed subjects to something about school and homework and how his teacher is mean... :-)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Proof there is no God #32176456289

from CNN:

Girl grew up locked away in backyard shed

She was kidnapped at age 11.
She was put in a 10x10 box.
She was raped.
She had 2 children.
She lived like this for 18 years.

I challenge any of you out there to show me where the Bible or Koran or whatever explains this. What did an 11 year old girl do to deserve this?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Governor Crist Appeals To God To Stop Florida Hurricanes

I saw this in my rss feed this morning and just laughed:

God Protecting Florida From Hurricanes?

Gov. Crist Says He's Put Prayer Requests In Jerusalem's Western Wall


POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2009
Could it be divine intervention that's kept Florida safe from hurricanes since Gov. Charlie Crist took office?
Crist said he's not taking credit, but did tell a group of real estate agents Friday that he's had prayer notes put in the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year and no major storms have hit Florida.
Crist said each of the notes read, "Dear God, please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie."
The first time he personally put the note in during a 2007 trade mission to Israel. Last year, he gave the note to Sen. Nan Rich to be placed in the wall. This year he gave a note to a friend.
He told the group, "Knock on wood. I would ask you all to say a prayer."

I thought something was up when Florida elected the son of God as governor. Yes, his name is missing the 'h' but his is from the Greek version. (If they can do this kind of critical linguistic analysis on Obama's name then I can do it on Crist's!)

And he's being so humble about it by not taking credit. He's more like the Mark Christ than the John Christ I guess. (I knew something was up with John's book when he changed the day Jesus was killed.)

Yes, Florida is being governed by the son of God and is protecting the state from hurricanes. We must be in the end of times and Florida is "base".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How I Told My Mom I Don't Believe

Tonight I told my mom I don't believe in God.

She still loves me. There was no yelling. It went much better than I feared.

It all started Sunday during lunch. We went to Panera and had a really good conversation about Obama, health care, and the silly birthers. Even though she's evangelical and voted for McCain she supports what Obama is doing and doesn't like how he is being demonized.

She asked me if I wanted to see a concert at her church but it was happening at the same time I planned to call my wife, who is away visiting family. This got us on the subject of church and I thought I would be sly and see how much she really paid attention to the bible. As we were leaving I told her for her bible study today she should see what day each of the gospels says Jesus died on.

Well, after a few emails back and forth she came to the conclusion that while she didn't understand why John puts Jesus' death on the day before Passover, since the other 3 agree that it was on Passover then that's when he died. She called me to joke that at least this got me to read the bible and that's when our conversation started down a path that I wouldn't have guessed.

As I've mentioned before I didn't want my mom to know my lack of belief because I didn't want her to be sad or upset thinking I was going to hell. And while I never portray myself as a believer to her I never try to rock the boat much when we discuss religion. But she's always talking about the church. Her life revolves around the church. She's always suggesting I go to church with her. I used to go with her sometimes, like on Easter, but not anymore. So this conversation was just like any other but now she was telling me I really should read the bible again. I told her jokingly that if I read the bible then she has to read about evolution. I've never been shy about discussing science around her and she's adamant that evolution is not true and the bible is true.

Oh, no, she was not going to read about evolution. She said it sounded like I was being brainwashed by the scientists, to which I thought "you think I'm the one who's brainwashed." But instead I tried to explain some of the simple misconceptions about it and suggested that if she were willing we could sit down and I could go over it more with her. It was at this point that she felt compelled to tell me (I'm paraphrasing) "I know you don't want to hear this, but if I die right now God will hold me accountable because I'm supposed to spread his word. I know you were saved when you were younger but you really need to think about reading the bible and going up to the alter and offering your heart to Jesus. Why won't you do that? What would you do if you died right now and you were brought before God, what would you say to him? When he asks you why he should let you into Heaven what would you say to him?"

I said, "The sarcastic person in me would ask him why I would want to go to his Heaven." Ooh. Maybe I shouldn't have said that but she's backing me into a corner.

She said "What? You would rather go to Hell?"

I told her I didn't believe in hell. I guess I thought that was an easy one not to believe in. She told me hell was certainly real. I said, "Imagine sticking your hand in boiling water, just for a second. Now imagine that agony stretched over minutes and hours and years, trillions of years. Eternity? You're telling me that people who will suffer an eternity like that?"

She said, "If they don't believe Jesus died for their sins, yes."

I said, "It seems a bit harsh doesn't it? And if Jesus died for our sins and we were punished for our sins then why are we still being punished? Why is there so much suffering in the world?"

"You can't think about that, you have to read the bible and open you heart to Him."

At this point I felt like I was backed into a corner. I said "Mom, I just have a hard time dealing with the idea that God is up there while people suffer down here and he's not willing to do anything about it."

(I've been listening to Bart Ehrman's "God's Problem" and after hearing part of a transcript from the Nuremberg trials I was sickened by the thought of someone throwing a live child into an oven. All the killing of the holocaust is bad enough but I had never heard they had done this sort of thing. One of the witnesses said you could hear the children screaming across the camp.)

I said "Mom, where was God when those innocent children were being burned alive by the Nazis? What did those children ever do wrong, how did they sin?"

At this point I was sobbing. I get very emotional when I hear about children being hurt and it all just poured out of me. A said through my sobs "I'm sorry, I just can't believe in a God that would let that happen. I never wanted to have this conversation with you. I never wanted to upset you. I never wanted you to worry that I was going to Hell but I just can't bring myself to believe in a God that would let something like that happen. I'm sorry but I just don't believe in God."

She said, "I understand. I figured you didn't. Maybe someday you will believe again."

I said, "At this point I don't see how. You want me to go to an alter and accept Jesus into my heart, but if there really is a Jesus and I did that he would see I wasn't sincere and I was only doing it to make other people think something about me. I can't be dishonest like that. Unless God reveals himself to me in person I just don't see how I can believe in him again. I've tried to believe. This has been a long process. It may have been a spur of the moment decision when I was 19 to be saved but it has taken me many years to get to this point. The more I open my eyes and look at the world the less I believe in God."

There was some more back and forth that I don't quite remember. I felt compelled to assure her that just because I was an atheist it didn't mean I was a devil worshiper or something like that. I explained that if anything I was a humanist and I just wanted people to treat each other nicely. I ended the phone call saying I loved her and if she were in the room I would hug her. She said she loved me too.

She called back later and said that she had been praying about this and God revealed this scripture to her:
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
She said "So because I believe, you and your brother will be saved also." It's a good thing you can justify just about anything with the bible, she's already put up the defense against thinking I will burn in hell.

As I was telling my wife what had happened it occurred to me that she had said she already thought I didn't believe. It all made sense. She was always trying to get me to go to church or to read the bible. She was always trying to teach me something from the bible and thought that I was "brainwashed by the scientists." All of my worries all along were for nothing, she had already suspected. And my brother, too. I don't talk about religion with him but he's more outspoken than I am, especially regarding social issues, so I'm sure she thinks he doesn't believe, either. (I honestly don't know what he believes.)

As I'm typing this I feel a weight lifting off my shoulders. It felt bad not being able to speak my mind. I told my mom during our talk "I don't want my doubt to influence you. That's why I've kept my mouth shut when we talk about religion. I see how happy the church makes you and I don't want to be the one to take that away from you."

But I also see how fearful the church makes her. I wish I could take that fear away. I explained to her how much at peace I had become just accepting that the world is chaotic. I wish I could show her that it is OK to doubt. But I won't force my lack of belief on her. Nor will I back down now in an argument. If she pushes me on an issue I will push back...but nicely... ;-)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Intellectual Dishonesty and HR 3200

Over the past few years I've learned a lot about logical fallacies and the use of intellectual dishonesty to push arguments for the existence of god or the truthfulness of religious texts. That knowledge has bled into every aspect of my life and I'm constantly hearing people use these tactics in day to day arguments, especially in politics.

I recently received an email listing lines in the bill HR 3200 (referred to as Obama's health care bill) and why what they are doing in the bill is horrible. I will provide the full text of the email at the end of this post. At first glance you can look at most of the statements and note the overt use of appeals to fear. So, I downloaded the bill and started going through each claim in the email and replying to the sender as to why the claim is false. I gave up after only a few lines because it became obvious how intellectually dishonest the author of the email was and I just didn't have that much time to refute each statement. I'm sure someone at snopes.com is going over each of these right now. You can download the bill here (pdf).

I will list a few of my rebuttals in this post. But my fear is that this email, or one like it, will go viral and people will ONLY read the claims and not the original text. The end result of this type of viral email is that Americans will fear something for all the wrong reasons. If your position is to be against the bill you should have concrete claims to back up your stance. This email is not concrete.

Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!
So what does page 22 really say? We have to back up to page 21 where the sections starts. It discusses how rates for premiums are calculated. In figuring out what to charge they will study various types of insurance and compare employers who self insure with employers who purchase. The intent, as stated in the bill, is to ensure that there is neither an incentive created for employers to change to self-insured or to change the risk for large group insurers.
(b) STUDY AND REPORTS.—
(1) STUDY.—The Commissioner, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Labor, shall conduct a study of the large group insured and self-insured employer health care markets. Such study shall examine the following:
(A) The types of employers by key characteristics, including size, that purchase insured products versus those that self-insure.
(B) The similarities and differences between typical insured and self-insured health plans.
(C) The financial solvency and capital reserve levels of employers that self-insure by employer size.
(D) The risk of self-insured employers not being able to pay obligations or otherwise becoming financially insolvent.
(E) The extent to which rating rules are likely to cause adverse selection in the large group market or to encourage small and mid size employers to self-insure
(2) REPORTS.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commissioner shall submit to Congress and the applicable agencies a report on the study conducted under
23 paragraph (1). Such report shall include any recommendations the Commissioner deems appropriate to ensure that the law does not provide incentives for small and mid-size employers to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of large group insurers and self-insured employers. Not later than 18 months after the first day of Y1, the Commissioner shall submit to Congress and the applicable agencies an updated report on such study, including updates on such recommendations.

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get
Pure and simple, all plans have a list of covered and non-covered items. Mine does, yours does. If you think not then read you policy. But the email is obviously written to scare people who view the government as an evil empire. I could be wrong, but I think this bill only lays out what the minimum benefits shall be, not the total benefits. You can have insurance plans that cover more. There is nothing about this that says anyone must take the minimum, just what the minimums shall be.
SEC. 123. HEALTH BENEFITS ADVISORY COMMITTEE.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—There is established a private-public advisory committee which shall be a panel of medical and other experts to be known as the Health Benefits Advisory Committee to recommend covered benefits and essential, enhanced, and premium plans.
Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!
The person who wrote the email either a) doesn't understand English or b) is intentionally telling a lie. Go to page 8 for the glossary of terms:
(4) COST-SHARING.—The term ‘‘cost-sharing’’ includes deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, and similar charges but does not include premiums or any network payment differential for covered services or spending for non-covered services.
Now, look at what the section talks about that the email writer calls rationed health care:
(c) REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO COST-SHARING AND MINIMUM ACTUARIAL VALUE.—
(1) NO COST-SHARING FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES.—There shall be no cost-sharing under the essential benefits package for preventive items and services (as specified under the benefit standards), including well baby and well child care.
(2) ANNUAL LIMITATION.—
(A) ANNUAL LIMITATION.—The cost-sharing incurred under the essential benefits package with respect to an individual (or family) for a year does not exceed the applicable level specified in subparagraph (B).
(B) APPLICABLE LEVEL.—The applicable level specified in this subparagraph for Y1 is $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family. Such levels shall be increased (rounded to the nearest $100) for each subsequent year by the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (United States city average) applicable to such year.
(C) USE OF COPAYMENTS.—In establishing cost-sharing levels for basic, enhanced, and premium plans under this subsection, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent possible, use only copayments and not coinsurance.
(3) MINIMUM ACTUARIAL VALUE.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—The cost-sharing under the essential benefits package shall be designed to provide a level of coverage that is designed
Lines 4-16 as mentioned in the email define the LIMIT YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY EACH YEAR. This is just like my "out of pocket maximum" of $5000 I currently have.
This is not rationing your health care, this is protecting you from bad policies. And there is to be no cost for preventative items and well-baby visits.

The list goes on and on. They use references to illegal aliens and ACORN to appeal to the reader's hatred of those two things, even though the bill has nothing to do with them. Read the sections, if you disagree with me back it up with facts.

I've seen other news sites referring to sections of the bill as Nazi-like. For instance:
Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

Well, go to that page and read. Again, you have to back up a bit. This section is defining, in essence, the rules regarding a living will: a patient telling the doctor if they want life saving actions taken or to let them die. My mother created one of these when she had knee surgery. This section simply states who is authorized to sign one of these.
(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term ‘order regarding life sustaining treatment’ means, with respect to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that individual that—
(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care professional (as specified by the Secretary and who is acting within the scope of the professional’s authority under State law in signing such an order, including a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals and providers across the continuum of care;
(ii) effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual;
(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized within a given locality, region, or State (as identified by the Secretary); and
(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the individual.
The key word in that quote is "individual." This is not the government saying who can "pull the plug."

There are many more that I'd like to rebut, but I just don't have the time.

So, regardless of where you stand on this issue you should at least take the time to read the bill. If you don't understand what they mean then look it up. Don't just rely on a viral email to make your life choices. I received an endless amount of these types of emails in the run-up to the election and I often wondered who really based their decisions on anonymous emails.

The text of the original email is as follows:

Subject:Ready for your Change?
Received this from a researcher on the Health Care issue. ...


This is a list of various items in the Health Care legislation. At the end of the list is the link to the Bill now in Congress. And this list is far from complete!!!

HEALTH CARE BILL:

Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get

Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!

Pg 42 of HC Bill - The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your Health Care Benefits for you. You have no choice!

PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill - Health Care will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise

Pg 58HC Bill - Govt will have real-time access to individuals finances and a National ID Healthcard will be issued!

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access to your banks accts for elected funds transfer.

PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions and Community Orgs (ACORN).

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an Health Care Exchange to bring private Health Care plans under Govt control.

PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill - Govt mandates ALL benefit pkgs for private Health Care plans in the Exchange

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specs for of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt will ration your Healthcare!

PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill - Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example - Translation for illegal aliens

Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt Health Care plan

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specs of Benefit Levels for Plans #AARP members = Your Health care WILL be rationed


PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill - Medicaid Eligible Individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice

pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt Monopoly

pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill - Doctors/ #AMA - The Govt will tell YOU what you can make.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST automatically enroll employees into public opt plan. NO CHOICE

Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for Health Care for part time employees and their families.

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Emplyer with payroll of 400k & above who does not provide public opt. pays 8% tax on all payroll

pg 150 Lines 9-13 Business with payroll between 251k & 400k who doesn't rovide pub. opt pays 2-6% tax on all payroll

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill - Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from indiv. taxes. (Americans will pay)

Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans finan/personal records.

PG 203 Line 14-15 HC - "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" Yes, it says that

Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill - Govt will reduce physician services 4 Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor affected

Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill - Doctors, doesn't matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same

PG 253 Line 10-18 - Govt sets value of Doctor's time, professional judgement, etc. Literally value of humans.


PG 265 Sec 1131 Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries

PG 268 Sec 1141 Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs

PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151 The Govt will penalize hospitals for what Govt deems preventable re-admissions.

Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Doctors, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission Govt will penalize you.

Pg 317 L 13-20 OMG!! PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Doctors how much they can own..

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand

pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have oppt to apply for exception BUT community input required. Can you say ACORN?!!

Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 - Govt mandates estab. of outcome based measures. HC the way they want. Rationing

Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority 2 disqual Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing peeps in2 Govt plan

Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs ppl! WTF. My sis has down syndrome!!

Pg 379 Sec 1191 Govt creates more bureaucracy - Telehealth Advisory Cmtte. Can u say HC by phone?

PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. Think Senior Citizens end of life

Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of atty. Mandatory!

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides apprvd list of end of life resources, guiding u in death

PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program 4 orders 4 end of life. The Govt has a say in how ur life ends

Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An "adv. care planning consult" will b used frequently as patients health deteriorates

PG 429 Lines 10-12 "adv. care consultation" may incl an ORDER 4 end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOV

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment u will have at end of life

Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services=Non profit orgs. Hello, ACORN Medical Svcs here!!?

Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. 1 monthly payment 2 a community-based org. Like ACORN?

PG 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which means they will insert Govt in2 ur marriage

Pg 494-498 Govt will cover Mental Health Svcs including defining, creating, rationing those svcs

Here's the full Health Care bill that sits in the House.
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3200ih.pdf

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reaffirming My Disbelief in God

Why was I ever told there was a caring, loving God in my heart? Why was I ever fed this lie?

For every child that suffers through cancer or is abused or suffers any painful death I reaffirm my disbelief in the God I was raised with.

My heart goes out to the family of Thai Nguyen who died today after a long fight with cancer.

My son asked me the other day why I didn't believe in God. It wasn't a conversation I was ready for. But he continued to press me. Perhaps I was too harsh in my response but I said because of all of the pain and suffering I've seen, all the children hurt, kids getting their arms cut off in Africa, where was God when this was happening? I told him because of that I don't believe in God.

There is no excuse for the suffering in this world if there is a deity watching over us who deserves our worship. If God is there and cannot stop the suffering then he is not worth worshipping. If God is there and chooses not to stop the suffering then he is not worth worshipping. If God is there and causes the suffering then he is not worth worshipping.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Our Modern World: Genie sued - will he get to keep his bottle?

Genies get no respect. First they are portrayed as hot females who grant the wishes of their male master. then they are made to be buffoons by Robin Williams, and now this:

CNN: Saudi family sues genie, alleges harassment

A family in Saudi Arabia has taken a genie to court, alleging theft and harassment, according to local media.

The lawsuit filed in Shariah court accuses the genie of leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their cell phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, said Al-Watan newspaper.

Riiiiight...I'm sure such a silly case would be thrown out right away...no?
"We have to verify the truthfulness of this case despite the difficulty of doing so," Sheikh Amr Al Salmi, the head of the court, told Al-Watan. "What makes this case and complaint more interesting is that it wasn't filed by just one person. Every member of the family is part of this case."
Oh, that makes much more sense. The whole family can't be mistaken...

At least this time the news from Saudi Arabia is funny. At least it isn't about some grandmother being flogged or some child being raped/married.


WHATTAYA GONNA DO?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mystery Hunters

While browsing through the cable guide last month looking for something educational to record for my son and I came across a show called Mystery Hunters. It comes on Discovery Kids at the wonderful time of 1am but I have a Comcast DVR so that wasn't a big deal (we rarely watch things live anyway). It's a show that investigates claims of the paranormal, UFO's, and such.

The Wikipedia entry for the show gives a good description so I won't go into too much detail here.

I just wanted to get the word out that there is a good science based show out there for kids that is fun to watch and gives lessons in how to deal with strange things rationally. I like the fact that it isn't just dry facts. I like that they keep some of the mystery in each story while giving facts and science the final word.

My son really enjoys watching this show (so do I!) and I wish DK would put it at a more convenient hour for people who don't have DVR's (do people still use VCR's?).

Anyway...Mystery Hunters...good TV for kids...pass it on!

Update: You can watch some of the episodes online here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Abortion Jihad

I was in college when it seemed like a small war was breaking out between anti-abortion activists and abortion rights activists, with doctors and clinics caught in the middle.

I thought at the time that it seemed like an "Abortion Jihad." A holy war against abortion.

CNN: Man charged in slaying of Kansas abortion doctor

No motive for the killing was immediately known. If Tiller's killing stemmed from his work, he would be the fourth U.S. physician killed over abortion since 1993. Leading anti-abortion groups condemned his shooting, emphasizing that they wanted to shut down Tiller's practice by legal means.

During the 1990s, three doctors who performed abortions were slain in high-profile cases.

In 1998, a sniper killed Dr. Barnett Slepian in his Amherst, New York, home. Anti-abortion activist James Kopp was later arrested in France and is serving life in prison.

In 1994, Dr. John Bayard Britton and a volunteer escort were shot and killed outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. Paul Hill, a former minister, was convicted in the killings and executed in 2003.

And in 1993, another doctor, David Gunn, was shot to death outside another Pensacola clinic. His killer, Michael Griffin, is serving a life sentence.

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In addition, a nurse at a Birmingham, Alabama, clinic was maimed and an off-duty police officer was killed in a 1998 bombing by Eric Rudolph, who included abortion among his list of anti-government grievances.

With only 3 doctors in the entire country...now 2...who perform this type of abortion, it makes one wonder just how many are actually performed each year. And do people really think that a woman past the first trimester would really go through all the trouble of seeing one of these doctors just to get rid of an unwanted baby? Or would they only do it if their life were in danger?

A co-worker's wife just had her second miscarriage in 6 months. Who should be blamed for that? At least half of all pregnancies end this way. So what is responsible for most aborted babies? Us? Nature? God?

EDIT:

I just saw this related article on LiveScience:

New Surprising Results on Abortion and Religiosity

Unwed pregnant teens and 20-somethings who attend or have graduated from private religious schools are more likely to obtain abortions than their peers from public schools, according to research in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.


Monday, May 25, 2009

The Problem of Communication

The biggest problem I have with religions is that of communication. All religions that I know of are taught through some holy text that has been handed down over generations. We are born into societies that teach us these texts as fact and as the word of God. That is where my problem begins.

I'm not the first to think this. I was listening to an interview with Ryan Convington of Answers In Genesis Busted yesterday on The Infidel Guy podcast and heard him make a very similar argument like what I'm about to make.

Why is it that a God who created us has done such a poor job at getting his message out? Why is it that such an amazingly intelligent being could be such a poor communicator? If he made us then he knows how our brains work. He knows what makes us believe things. He knows what is required to make us accept something as truth. So why is it that we don't have one world religion that we all can accept as true?

Take Judaism as an example. There is a world full of humans but God decides to pick one group of people to be His people. But even among the Israelites there was doubt. So, God's solution was to tell one man, Moses, his story and give him some stone tablets with simple rules for living on them. But if God was so smart and all knowing then wouldn't he know what to tell Abraham or Moses so that when the word was passed along everyone who heard it was like "Ding! I get it!" But getting people to believe he was the one true God was a struggle. When large groups of people were encountered who worshipped another God was his solution to impart divine wisdom on them? Did he give the Jewish leaders wise words that would convince the others of the truth of Yahweh? No, he had them slaughtered. This God, who knows how we think and in some cases changes our minds (hardens hearts) cannot come up with a good, logical argument for getting people to believe in him. He must resort to violence and threats.

Next we have Christianity. Here is God's perfect chance to make people believe. He's come to Earth in human form and even with some cool parlor tricks he cannot convince everyone around him that God is real and people should believe him. All it took was some wise words that would open their minds to the perfect truth that is God. He did have some good sermons. The parables were powerful stories, but his ultimate solution was to sacrifice himself. Huh? How does that prove you are God? It does do one thing, it plays on our emotions. So perhaps God as Jesus was better at getting people to believe than God as Yahwey?

Some will argue that if you look at the world's population today we have billions who believe in Christ, so how was he a bad communicator? Well, for starters he could have written things down himself. Or had people dictate his stories as they were told. Why wait until a generation after his death to codify his words? We are now at the mercy of humanity's own poor communication skills. And it has taken 2000 years to get us to this point. It wasn't until humans invented better means of getting around the planet and studying other people's languages that so many people started believing in Christ. It was humans passing the word, not God. The problem created by that solution is seen in people like me. Once I learned how the book was written I started having doubts about its validity. I see the human flaws in the Bible. I don't see anything that may have come from God's mouth to my ears.

What would have been more believable to me? Why not have the Ten Commandments delivered to every society on Earth at the same time? At the time of Moses there were cultures all over the world, on every continent. Wouldn't it make us all believers if when we met cultures on other continents that they had the same set of rules as us, but written in their language? Why limit it to just one mountain in the mid-east? Or, as Ryan Covington said in his interview, what if Jesus has visited every continent? What if they all had the same savior story? It would be very hard to doubt something with great power a long time ago was able to spread a message around the world before the Internet.

I'm sure I haven't presented my argument as strongly as I should, so your comments and critiques are certainly welcome. But this is my biggest problem with all religions. If God is so great then why is he so bad at getting his message out?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Podcast Highlight: The Unbelievers

Meet The Unbelievers.

Their names are Hamish and Andy and they live in New Zealand.

I stumbled on their podcast last month while browsing the podcasts in the iTunes store and have finally almost caught up with all their episodes.

Each episode is generally spent talking about current events. What makes it a little different from the rest, at least from my point of view, is hearing the opinions of people who live in a largely irreligious country. They find lots of humor in how silly American politics are and our religious controversies.

They're funny to listen to. I cracked up when they described God as a "celestial security camera." Not sure if they came up with that themselves but I hadn't heard that before.

Every time I listen, though, I can't help but be reminded of the youtube video of Charlie the Unicorn:


Shun the Unbeliever! Shunnnn!!!

Anyway, if you haven't already subscribed I suggest you give The Unbelievers a listen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mmm...Cheesus!

I was sent 2...count 'em 2!! links to Cheesus videos today:



and



Wow...is God trying to tell us to stock up on Cheetos before the Apocalypse?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Modern World: Abuse of child witches

What is it about the logic of witch accusers? Back in the good ol' days of witch hunts here in the US and in Europe, if they floated in water then they were a witch, if they drowned then they were innocent. Either way, the accused were killed. No logic in it at all.

And here we are, hundreds of years later and this is a sample of more logical wonders:
Christian Eshiett was a rambunctious pre-teen who spent a lot of time cavorting with his friends in southern Nigeria. He would skip school and run away from home for days, frustrating his grandfather, who oversaw the boy's care.
"I beat him severely with canes until they broke, yet he never shed a tear," said Eshiett Nelson Eshiett, 76. "One day, I took a broom to hit him and he started crying. Then I knew he was possessed by demons. ... Nigerian witches are terrified of brooms."

So, fear of a broom means he's a witch.

At least the government of Nigeria is starting to take notice:

Government officials also have joined the fight.

Akwa Ibom recently added a clause into the Child Rights Act, saying that anyone found guilty of branding a child a witch would get up to 12 years in prison.

"This is groundbreaking, and Stepping Stones Nigeria applauds the Akwa Ibom state government for this," Foxcroft said.

Unfortunately, the Christian churches aren't helping:

"The role of the international Christian community in this cannot be underestimated," Foxcroft said. "Unfortunately, the fact remains that this belief system is being spread by so-called Christians."

I really don't think the solution to an irrational belief in magical powers is to replace it with a different irrational belief in magical powers.

Perhaps we should let them watch satire about our own irrational beliefs:



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank You, Mr. President

I would like to thank President Obama for not being Minister In-Chief and merely signing a proclamation that today is a national day of prayer.

Obama tones down National Day of Prayer observance

Of course, there are people who think even this is going too far. Whatever... Baby steps, people! Baby steps.

I think we can all learn from Bob:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Is this a disturbing trend???

...or am I suffering from confirmation bias?

From CNN: Florida man kills wife, 2 kids, himself, officials say

It seems like we are seeing a lot more murder suicides lately. Or are they just being reported more often?

Just Google MURDER/SUICIDE and it's sickening. I'm not sure, but I think this kind of crime disturbs me more than any. I'm sure someone can think of one that is worse, but what about one that happens this often?

What motivates someone to kill? I had a time in my life when I considered suicide, fortunately, I came to my sense. But how does one progress to killing their own children or their spouse? I have difficulty understanding most physical violence toward your loved ones.

When does your brain's ability to logically assess your situation break down into this kind of madness? What is happening in the brains of these people?

Two of the couple's children -- 5-month-old Zack and 7-year-old Ryan -- also were killed, but a 13-year-old got away, with the father chasing and firing after him, officials said.
It makes me ill to think about something like this. The child who survived must feel like his life is over.

Are there statistics kept on this type of crime? Is this the result of the poor economy? I just don't get it...

Friday, May 1, 2009

LOTR Fans Check This Out!

The Hunt For Gollum

Premiers online May 3rd 16:00GMT (hmm...that's 11AM EST???)

Looks very cool.

Monday, April 27, 2009

God Hates More Than Just Fags

Apparently, he hates Mexicans, too!

It's been deadly in Mexico, but not as yet in the United States. Do we know why that is?

"It's unclear. First of all, there might not have been enough cases in the U.S. yet to reach that point, number one. Number two: There might be other factors at play. The health of the people who have become ill and subsequently died in Mexico might be different than the health of our patients. We're looking at it all very closely."

Google map tacking the swine flu outbreak.

I wonder how long it will take the Fred Phelps nutjobs to say this is God condemning the illegal immigrants? If that's true then this is yet another example of how clumsy God's hand is at killing the people who stray from His Word. I keep saying people will take notice if everyone of a particular hated-by-God group would suddenly die of unexplained brain aneurysms above their left eye, or something very distinct are targeted at just those people. But these clumsy attempts at retribution look an awful lot like random disasters, further fueling the doubters among us and our sarcastic rants against irrational belief!

UPDATE:
As if to make my point more, an earthquake has struck in near Acapulco, Mexico...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Quiet Rant

I want to rant about something but I don't want to overshadow some good news.

You see, a young boy has cancer and has been going through the awful process of chemo. His mother recently posted that he is "all clear" and all the comments were happy and supportive, but there was one that pissed me off when I saw it.

It seems some church lady thought it necessary to mention they she and her friends had been praying and that "God is really good."

Give me a break, lady. If God is real then it was God who initiated the cancer in the first place. What makes God so good when the cancer goes into remission after blasting the kids body with all sorts of chemo?

OK. I'm done.

Monday, April 20, 2009

This I Used To Believe

I happened to be in the car Sunday when This American Life way playing on my local NPR station. The episode was titled "This I Used To Believe." It was a spin off of the recent series called This I Believe.

The second story was about a woman who was agnostic but reached out to thank the coach of a Christian high school football team for his effort to help an opposing team made up of kids from a correctional facility.

The woman, Trisha Sebastian, mentioned in an email to the coach how she was leaning toward agnosticism and the coach responded by trying to bring her back to faith.

It's a good story, though unresolved, that I think both religious and non-religious might enjoy. You can still download the audio through their podcast or from their web site. Perhaps you should listen to it before reading my commentary. I wouldn't want to poison the well.

You don't get to hear all of the conversation between Trisha and the coach but he comes off like every other southern protestant I've ever met. And when he pulls the Nazi card he just about lost her. Let that be a lesson for you fledgling preachers: If you want to convince an atheist that God is the right path then don't stray into Godwin's Law territory. Even the Jews don't find Darwin as the cause for Hitler's atrocities.

I think we've all heard his other argument before: We live in a fallen world, and this is the reason for all the bad in the world today. He finds comfort in that while we scratch our heads at how completely illogical the whole free-will/original sin arguments are. But this doesn't bother him because his reward is beyond this world. So, he's willing to shrug off all of the suffering in the world because he already has a ticket out of here, or so he thinks. And I imagine his good-will effort with the kids from the juvenile correctional facility were to bring them to God, because that is the only way he thinks their suffering will end.

After seeing how the world according to the bible makes no sense except that we are in the hands of a schizophrenic dictator who demands our worship, I don't know how I could ever go back to believing in him. It just doesn't make any sense.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Modern World: Judge Refuses to Annul 8 year-old's Marriage

No, not a marriage that was 8 years old.

An 8 year-old girl was married.

Saudi judge refuses to annul 8-year-old's marriage

(CNN) -- A Saudi judge has refused for a second time to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, a relative of the girl told CNN.

The most recent ruling, in which the judge upheld his original verdict, was handed down Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza, where late last year the same judge rejected a petition from the girl's mother, who was seeking a divorce for her daughter.

The relative said the judge, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, "stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty." The family member, who requested anonymity, added that the mother will continue to pursue a divorce for her daughter.

This kind of shit only happens in the American mid-west and in Islamic states. You SICK FUCKING PEDOPHILES! And anyone who doesn't protest is complicit in the abuse of children.

What's interesting here is that the judge didn't decline the annulment on the grounds that Muhammad, blessings be upon him, also had a young wife. No, it was because the girl's mother had no legal right to petition for her:
The judge ruled the girl's mother -- who is separated from the girl's father -- was not the girl's legal guardian and therefore could not represent her in court, according to Abdullah al-Jutaili, the mother's lawyer.

Women have no rights. Little girls have no rights. DOUBLE WHAMMY! Thank you radical Islam!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Eye of Sauron Turns to Downtown Jacksonville!

Sauron...er...PZ Myers...pointed out something about my town that I didn't know...

We have a nice little corrupt megachurch scandal going on!

His original post is here.

The controvery can be followed here.

Lots of money, lots of power, one can expect a scandal. I'm so excited to get something juicy here!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Modern World: Demon Toddler Beaten By Parent With Bamboo Sticks

Phung and Jackie Tran tried to beat the demon out of their 3-year-old child...WTF?

With a name like Jackie Tran I would expect better. I mean, how close is that to Jackie Chan? Huh? OK, that was a dumb joke, I know. Especially since an innocent little boy was hurt.

I love my son so much I don't understand how any parent can give more than a swat on the butt. It hurts me to see him sad or cry. So when I read about a parent abusing their child I simply can't understand it. The only explanation is that they are sick, mentally ill.

But then I have to ask, how can two people have the same mental illness? I can understand one being delusional, but how does the other one go along with it without being sick themselves?

Prosecutors say the parents, Buddhists and vegetarians, believed demons entered the boy through meat he ate.

Aaahh!!! That explains it! They were VEGETARIANS! No, wait...They were BUDDHISTS! But Buddhism doesn't really talk about demons. Perhaps the culture they were raised in had a lot of demon lore and that contributed to the belief that demons exist in meat.

Most people who read that article will think those people are crazy for thinking demons could possess their child through meat, but how far away is that from other more mainstream beliefs in American society? My own mother's church believes people can be possessed by Satan. Would they go so far as to beat a 3 year-old child? Probably not. But what does it take to make someone cross that line? How easy is it for a stable person to dip into that realm of delusion strong enough to make them do something horrible?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Our Modern World: Indonesian cleric weds 12-year-old

Ah, to be like the prophet, blessings be upon him.

Indonesia cleric detained for marrying 12-year-old
A Muslim cleric whose marriage to a 12-year-old girl triggered controversy in Indonesia has been detained along with the girl's father on suspicion of violating the child protection law, police said Wednesday.
I'm sure if you go far enough back in American or European history you will find evidence of old codgers marrying prepubescents like in this story. Hell, you simply have to look at what goes on in our western states like Utah to see it happening today.

So, I guess we can't cry foul too much to read about it happening in Indonesia...BUT WE SHOULD in all cases. These are children. They barely have any clue what life is supposed to be about and they are being deflowered by these pedophiles!

I don't know what the reasons were hundreds of years ago but it seems our modern child-marrying-pedophiles are all of a religious bent. I guess that's the justification they need to get their rocks off screwing little girls...it was good enough for the prophet, blessings be upon him, so it is good enough for me. It was good enough for Joseph Smith, so it is good enough for me.

It's good to see that in this case the perpetrator was arrested. At least there are sane people in charge over there.

ACLU Wins Lawsuit Against Ten Commandments

Oh, those godless heathens at the ACLU! How did this happen? They must have used some atheist magic potion to convince a judge to rule in their favor!

Kentucky counties fined $400,000 for posting Ten Commandments

Two southern Kentucky counties where officials posted copies of the Ten Commandments in courthouses have been ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $400,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and citizens who successfully challenged the displays.
How can this be? Our laws are based on the ten commandments so why is this a problem??? I kid...I know they aren't. If they were then rape would be legal since it isn't prohibited by the commandments. *sheesh* Silly secularists and their humanitarian laws!

It's not clear from the article where the fight began. They mention it has been ongoing for 10 years (ooh, 10 years, 10 commandments, can I get some numerological analysis of that?) and was "fought all the way to the US supreme court".

The fine is supposed to pay the legal fees for the ACLU, but why would they need any since they are on Satan's payroll? Huh???

Three cheers for the heathens at the ACLU!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

OK, For Once I'm For The Priest!

Cops Arrest Priest For Filming Them

In this case, the priest was trying to help out the locals (probably parishioners) and document police harassment.

A police report says the Rev. James Manship was confronted and arrested Feb. 19 because he was holding an "unknown shiny silver object" and struggled with an officer who was trying to take it from him. But a 15-second video released this week by Manship's attorneys shows East Haven police Officer David Cari asking Manship, "Is there a reason you have a camera on me?"

"I'm taking a video of what's going on here," Manship replies.

"Well, I'll tell you what, what I'm going to do with that camera," Cari says as he approaches the priest. The tape then goes blank.

Note to police: when someone is recording you with a video camera and you decide to falsify a report, DESTROY THE FUCKING TAPE YOU IDIOT!

Cheers to the priest for trying to help out minorities!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'God Spot' In Brain Proves Intelligent Designer!

LOL...I just had to use that headline for this article:

Belief and the brain's 'God spot'

I mean, if you were going to build a creature that you wanted to worship you, wouldn't you design a part of its brain that makes them believe in you?

But, what if you weren't very good at designing creatures? What if you did silly things like putting the penis next to the anus, or used the same tube for eating, drinking, and breathing, giving rise to a risk of choking? Then it wouldn't be a stretch to think that the designer wouldn't do a very good job at creating the belief centers of the brain, which explains doubters like me.

I don't REALLY think that what these scientists have found shows there is a designer, but I can totally see how there will be lots of ID and creationist people who would come to that conclusion. After all, they are the ones who only use scientific findings when it suits their needs and ignore all the rest.

Monday, March 9, 2009

America: Slightly More Rational Than 20 Years Ago?

Living in the south with two parents who both think we are in the end-of-days I tend to get the feeling that EVERYONE in this country feels the same as they do.

But, it seems I'm wrong:

15 Percent of Americans Have No Religion
Fewer Call Themselves Christians; Nondenominational Identification Increases


I feel like going door-to-door and asking people if they've heard the good news! LOL, I bet I would get run out of town if I asked people if they were excited to hear America is getting less religious.

Seriously, though, perhaps we need to start rehab clinics for the formerly indoctrinated. We could have group sessions..
"Hi! I'm Foo, and I used to go to church and think the bible was literally true."

"HI FOO!"
From the article:
The survey of more than 54,000 people conducted between February and November of last year showed that the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians has dropped to 76 percent of the population, down from 86 percent in 1990.

I doubt, though, that people who are non-religious will go as far as calling themselves agnostic, much less atheist. I still tend to the deistic point of view, though I'm effectively an atheist. I don't consider if a FOUR-LETTER-WORD like most people here.

Perhaps I should move:

The only group that grew in every U.S. state since the 2001 survey was people saying they had "no" religion; the survey says this group is now 15 percent of the population. Silk said this group is likely responsible for the shrinking percentage of Christians in the United States.

Northern New England has surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country; 34 percent of Vermont residents say they have "no religion." The report said that the country has a "growing non-religious or irreligious minority." Twenty-seven percent of those interviewed said they did not expect to have a religious funeral or service when they died, and 30 percent of people who had married said their service was not religious. Those questions weren't asked in previous surveys.

Our Modern World: 40 Lashes For Mingling

Oh, what an aweful hussy she was! Two men at the same time! And at her advanced age!!!

Saudis order 40 lashes for elderly woman for mingling

A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a 75-year-old Syrian woman to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from the kingdom for having two unrelated men in her house, according to local media reports.

But wait, there's a silver lining! She gets out of that horrible country! Deported, yay! Yay!

Some in the country are not happy:

The case has sparked anger in Saudi Arabia.

"It's made everybody angry because this is like a grandmother," Saudi women's rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider told CNN. "Forty lashes -- how can she handle that pain? You cannot justify it."

How does a modern society find itself living as if it were the year 1200? Extreme religious dogma. Blinded by the pursuit of God they trample over their own humanity as if it were a dung pile, only stopping to scrape the shit off their shoes every so often.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Did Nazareth Exist During Jesus' Time?

About a year ago I listened to an episode of The Infidel Guy where he interviewed René Salm about his new book The Myth Of Nazareth: The Invented Town Of Jesus. At the time I thought he made a pretty convincing argument that the evidence of a town called Nazareth was not established long after Jesus' time.

Here is a link to the Infidel Guy show: IG: The Myth of Nazareth

Now, James Randi has read the book and has some things to say about it. With all of the work he has done debunking frauds I would imagine that he has a higher standard for evidence than you or I...unless, of course, he is suffering from confirmation bias! (LOL, I say that tongue-in-cheek)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Where was God when this happened?

9 Year-Old Girl Raped By Step-Father - Catholic Church Has A Hissy Over Abortion


THIS PISSES ME OFF SOOOO MUCH! I'm fuming!

Question the girl should ask the HIGH AND FUCKING MIGHTY priest:

WHERE WAS GOD WHEN MY STEP-DAD WAS RAPING ME?

Nice fucking world you made for us!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Scientist Cock Fight

(I used the word cock in the title in hopes that I would get more traffic from the random Internet searches! LOL!)

Over at Rationally Speaking there is a healthy debate between Massimo Pigliucci and Ken Miller.

Orignial post here titled "Why I disagree with Ken Miller"

Rebuttal from Miller here titled "Ken Miller responds to Massimo."

They're too professional and polite. I want some profanity thrown around! Come on, one of you needs to drop an F bomb! haha, j/k.

I found Miller's explanation of why evolution requires suffering very interesting:
What you suggest is that a gracious God would have design a world in which there was no death, no pain, no suffering, no “waste,” and no extinction. Fair enough. But in that world, there would also be no room for a new species (since nothing would die to make room for it), no reason for evolutionary novelty (none of the competition that leads to natural selection), and no beauty (why produce beautiful flowers, plumage, or natural ornaments if survival is assured for every individual?). Furthermore, in the world you envision as ideal, there is no place for human courage, since there is nothing to fear, no place for virtue, since good is universal, and no reason to invent, discover, and create. Why bother to heal when there is no sickness, why help the poor and sick and disabled when they do not exist, and why face difficulties with courage when there are no such difficulties?

From a purely philosophical point of view, if I were working from the premise that there IS a God then I tend to agree with what he is saying as long as God is not very personal. It would have to be an impersonal God and not gentle Jesus meek and mild.

Looks like I will have to read more on the anthropic principle to better understand Massimo's response.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dr. Michael Shermer at UNF for the "University Skeptics Forum"

My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Shermer speak last night at what was billed as a debate about ID versus evolution. It took place on the University of North Florida campus.

A few people from an organization called "Reasons To Believe" were part of a panel of professionals who were to discuss their testable creation model while Michael Shermer was to provide arguments against what they were proposing. It turns out that the event was sponsored by a few Christian organizations and the "University Skeptics Forum" was a title from the Reasons to Believe organization. They were quick to point out that they were NOT young earth creationists or Intelligent Design proponents but had come up with a real scientific way to prove that the universe was created by God.

All three were given 25 minutes each to make their arguments, so we had 50 minutes from the creationists and only 25 minutes from the rational scientist.

Dr. Hugh Ross started things off with a whirlwind tour of how their biblical cosmology fits perfectly with both scripture and science. There were a lot of big words used and large numbers were presented as proof of the number of discoveries in astronomy that point to a divine creator. Each year more and more discoveries show proof of God. But he didn't exactly go into what these discoveries were, instead we were directed to read his book. He made many references to Genesis and the story of Job for evidence that scientific ideas were presented in the bible long ago but we just weren't reading it correctly. I should have taken notes so I can provide you with specifics but one of the things he kept talking about was how in the story of Job God is described as having "stretched" the heavens. He takes this to mean God created an expanding universe. But it is his ideas that are the stretch. He kept talking about how scientists will never find God by using a naturalistic approach because God is currently resting, we are in the seventh day still. But then he said that as an astronomer when he looks in his telescope he is looking back in time, back into the first 6 days, so if that were true would we not see God doing all that work from the first 6 days? Also, he was later contradicted by his own partner because the next presenter talked about how God was still remaking animals and that explained all of the fossils. So is he resting or is he still working?

The next presenter was Dr. Fazale Rana, who spoke about their theories of biological science that were supposed explained things better than evolution and were still backed up by the bible. Again, the 25 minutes was densely packed with lots of big words that made it difficult to figure out where to start with your rebuttal. One feature of his talk that I found humorous was his frequent use of quotes from Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould to back up his premise that what we see in nature is actually designed by a creator and not by evolution. Dawkins does comment a lot about the apparent design of things in nature but he does a very good job of explaining how evolution by natural selection makes that possible.

The final presenter was Dr. Michael Shermer. His presentation gave a broad smattering of ideas in the skeptical community. Rather than spend his 25 minutes making point by point rebuttals he simply tried to tackle some of the typical misinformation held by society on subjects like cosmology, evolution, and religion. I have a feeling there were a good number of believers in the audience who, like me until recently, had never bothered to learn about the parallels between Christianity and other believe systems from the Mediterranean area in first century like virgin births and resurrection, or the parallels between all of the creation stories from that area, or the flood stories. So, perhaps a few people were enlightened by what he said, or at least will be curious and start reading more.

Next, Shermer was allowed to ask direct questions of the first two presenters. He specifically brought up the expanding universe bible quote and showed how the description in Job of the heavens more closely resembled that of the Babylonian cosmology, probably taken from the time the Jews spent in exile in Babylon. Their response was that some guy, who's name they forgot, wrote a book, and he was a physicist and a theologian, and he proved that the description in Job was not that of a Babylonian cosmology. That was about as direct as any of their answers got.

The audience was then given time to ask questions. I think all of this information was sitting heavily on the moderator, Ken Amaro, because he started cutting off the questioners if they tried to ask followups. But the answers being given were so poor and went in so many different directions that followups were really needed. Only a few people asked Shermer anything; I was expecting people to throw bibles at him but nothing like that happened. By the end you could hear lots of groans from the audience when Dr. Ross would go on a lengthy answer that said pretty much nothing.

After things ended I went up and thanked Dr. Shermer for coming and I went over and asked Dr. Ross if all of his cosmology could be explained through Torah, why does he believe that the Christian religion is true and not the Jewish one. And if God is now resting in the seventh day why did he take time off to come down to earth as Jesus. He started to explain that there were some things in Romans that he uses and then went off on how the Jews don't read all of the torah and if they would just read the forbidden stuff that their rabbis told them not to read then they would see that Christianity was true. And we will have all of our questions answered on the Eighth day. It was at that point that I realized I was surrounded by people who were doing lots of nodding and I was in no position to try and argue my points since I am no biblical scholar. But I did get the feeling that they must have thought I was Jewish because of the wording of my questions and maybe they thought they could convert me!

Without reading their books and just going by what they presented last night my biggest problem with their "testable biblical cosmology" is that they cherry picked their evidence which ignoring other things in the bible that are just plain wrong. Gallileo was arrested for contradicting the biblical view of an Earth centered universe and we all know now he was right and the bible was wrong. Perhaps I will get a copy of a few of their books and use that as an exercise in debunking kooky ideas this year.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm so immoral!

Your morality is 0% in line with that of the bible.

Damn you heathen! Your book learnin' has done warped your mind. You shall not be invited next time I sacrifice a goat.

Do You Have Biblical Morals?
Take More Quizzes


I'm no better than heathens like PZ Myers!

Things to write about

I have a variety of ideas of things I'd like to post about but I never seem to find the time to get my thoughts in order. Here's a list of what I'd like to post about in the coming months (this serves more as a reminder to me since when I DO have time to write I draw a blank!)

  • Create a series of posts detailing why I'm NOT in this or that particular religion. Using the "outsider test" that John Loftus has talked about.
  • Talk about how I resolve the differences between me and my parents.
  • How does the religious climate in this country effect an immigrant?
  • Book reviews! I listen to at least one audiobook every week or two. I should be talking about them.
  • When I hear a good podcast episode I need to comment on it.
  • How do you raise a child to be tolerant of all of the belief systems yet not succumb to any of them?
  • 2012 is approaching and it ought to make for some humorous analysis of this temporal woo woo.
  • How do arguing about God and arguing about the best strategies in World of Warcraft relate? LOL...yeah...I think about some silly stuff.
There's more. I'll update this as I think of them and let this serve as a guide for the coming months.

edit - ok I remembered another one - "Woo in my life", examples of things I have believed that turned out to be crap.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Darwin Donations

Last month I posted a suggestion that we turn Darwin day into a charitable event. Well, today I made my Darwin Donations.

I donated 20.74 each to Doctors Without Borders and to this family to help with their medical costs. I added the 74 cents to note that it was a Darwin Donation and he was 74 when he died.

Regardless of the reason or the time of year I hope you all find the time and money to lend a hand somewhere. All of the people, including myself, who made a difference donating small amounts to the Obama campaign can do the same with charities.

*puts on Sally Struthers plea*
For the price of a triple venti non-fat latte you can make a difference!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama Throws Us Another Bone

The unbelievers were mentioned again! OMG! This time it was during a prayer breakfast of all things!

Obama throws secular organizations a bone!

I never liked the idea of the federal government funding church groups. That was Bush's brainchild. Let's suck up to the religious right and get some votes by putting money in their pockets.

But what about secular groups who want to help out communities without indoctrinating them into a religion? NO SOUP FOR YOU!

But now Obama has widened the scope of the faith based support to include any organization that wants to help their communities.

This is his prayer...

I like this part:
The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state. This work is important, because whether it’s a secular group advising families facing foreclosure or faith-based groups providing job-training to those who need work, few are closer to what’s happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods than these organizations. People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them.
Some of the talk seems a bit "pie in the sky" but at least he seems to be making an effort at removing the us versus them mentality that penetrates this country so much:
I raise this history because far too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another – as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance. Wars have been waged. Innocents have been slaughtered. For centuries, entire religions have been persecuted, all in the name of perceived righteousness.
There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.
But this part I disagree with:
But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.
Um...read the old testament! How many babies are slaughtered? So, yeah, he's kissing ass and ignoring the bullshit to try to form a happy consensus. Pie in the sky? Time will tell.

For those that think this whole thing should be disbanded, imagine if there were no faith base initiative created by Bush and Obama came along and wanted to form something similar but entirely secular. People would be screaming SOCIALIST! OMG! HE WANTS US TO BE COMMIE ZOMBIES! At least this way he can try to do some good at the community level by hijacking Bush's brainchild. And for that, I think he's a smart man.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Pedophile's Paradise

Well, if we had a shock-jock DJ discussing religious controversies he would have something to talk about in the morning:

A Pedophile's Paradise

This morning, 43 Alaskan Natives filed a lawsuit against the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), claiming a widespread conspiracy to dump pedophile priests in small Alaskan towns and shelter them from exposure.

Well, now, isn't that just peachy?

What would happen if your public school system did this? Find out a teacher is abusing children? Ship them off to Alaska! Don't you think that entire school board would be in jail?

WTF??????

Wanted: Atheist Shock Jock

I'm not a big fan of the vitriolic (thank the American Freethought podcast for getting that word stuck in my head!) Sometimes people who should seemingly be the levelheaded spokespersons of free thought end up simply being the sharp tongued critics of the simple closed minded.

I keep wanting people like Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers to "take the high road" but they don't. Sure, it's OK for them to act how they want, but I feel what is needed is more good-cop/bad-cop interaction and let the intellectuals remain intellectualish sounding.

Sort of like a radio shock-jock and his/her trusty level-headed sidekick. Think of combining PZ Myers with Howard Stern. Offset that with someone who is good at debating the closed-minded without losing their cool. (re-reading this I realize that PZ is actually very level-headed and does keep his cool, so maybe my analogy isn't correct)

I personally can't stand Howard Stern because he is doing the same thing he did when I was in high school in the 1980's. But imagine if his shtick was bashing the hypocrisy of the religious right (or the left in Obama's case)? Have guests from all points of view but stack the deck against the pro-religious the same way Sean Hannity cherry picks his left-wing callers.

I can imagine the ratings would jump simply from the controversy. Every time there is a new cult leader found abusing children (I include Catholic priests in that description) there would be a new topic to rail on. People would protest the radio station to have them taken off the air. The FCC would fine for saying god damned a lot. And if the ratings dipped they could have some lesbians on (Stern loooooves lesbians!)

So, forget atheist ads on buses....what we need is an in-your-face shock-jock on the radio...

What do you think?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Darwin Donations

February 12th is Darwin Day. And what better way to celebrate our evolved sense of empathy than to make a donation to our favorite charity in the name of Charles Darwin?

Darwin died at age 74 so you could make your donation end in 74 cents. If you can donate in someone's name then use Charles Darwin.

Lets see if we can put our money where our mouth evolved and do some good for the world?