Thursday, June 30, 2011

More Facebook Funnies

One of my FB friends posted this:

May the Lord guide you today, your steps, your words, and your actions. Ask Him and He will give you the answers. And remember, sometimes silence IS an answer!


Even if I were still a believer, I wouldn't subscribe to the version of Christianity where any person can whip up prayers and homemade theology and then spread it around.  When I see some of the atheist arguments against the arguments for faith, I have to wonder if they've ever encountered Christians like this.  There's no philosophical debating with this kind of "theology."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

9/11 and Atheist Activism

I have met more than one atheist who became more open about their atheism because of 9/11. I wasn't shy about telling people I was an atheist, but I didn't read books on it or go to meetups or websites until 9/11.  Afterward, I found the Bush Administration's reference to the Crusades and to religious reasons for fighting back very ironic.  They didn't dial back their religiosity at all in the face of that negative example of what religion can do.  They actually upped it, but not the country.  I think turning to prayer to overcome other people who turn to prayer had to stick in the craw of at least a few believers.

Anywho, I discovered this video in which Sam Harris talks about how he was affected too:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Suicide Bombers and Polygamy

I have a theory about why young muslim men can be persuaded to commit suicide for a cause:  polygamy.

It is mathematically impossible for all young men to get married if they live in a society that allows men to have multiple wives, but does not allow women to have more than one husband.  The ratio of men to women in Afghanistan is 1.05 to 1, hardly enough to accommodate a polygamous lifestyle.  In Saudi Arabia, home to bin Laden, the ratio is even worse: 1.27 for each woman.

Is it any surprise that suicide "martyrs" are promised a harem in heaven?  Islamic law limits the number of wives to four (although bin Laden's slutty daddy had twelve -- apparently you can bend the laws if you're rich even in Islam).  And although polygamy is permitted, there has to be a good reason for it.  The man also has to prove that he is able to treat all the wives and children equally, i.e. besides being affectionate to them all he has to provide material support.

So what hope does a man have if he's educated enough to make a decent living, but not educated enough to make a polygamous living?  Palestinian suicide bombers are enticed by promises of financial support for their impoverished families.  For a middle-class Saudi man, that won't fly.  And unlike a Palestinian, that middle-class Saudi is giving up quite a bit when he sacrifices his life.   They have to up the ante to get them to fall on their sword so to speak.

I haven't seen anybody else make that connection.  This article on brought it to mind today, especially this part:

The holy killers left behind a testament they had shared among themselves, saying they were doing it for God: "Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty," they assured each other, "and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, 'Come hither, friend of God.' They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing."

They did it for the wimmin.  Believing that Heaven is a real place was prerequisite of course, but Heaven had to have more appeal than the Judeo-Christian ideal of an eternity of floating around in space and praising God's arse for eternity.  I think it's amusing that they expected virgins, though.  The reason for wanting a virgin on Earth presumably has something to do with ensuring your children will really be yours.   There's no pregnancy in Heaven, so why not have a harem of prostitutes?  They'd be a lot more fun.

There are many possible motivations for killing people, and suicide bombers share them, but promising a harem to unloved young men certainly adds to the mix of possible motivations.  Add the gullibility of religious adherents who will believe anything, and you can promise them the most ridiculous things to get them to off themselves.  The 9/11 hijackers certainly seemed to have polygamous ambitions.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another BIble-Reading Child-Abusing Murdering Liar

Lee has an online Facebook page that he has communicated with friends and relatives on. It also features a photo of Lee and lists some of his favorite things -- the Bible among them, along with a blog featuring religious-themed commentary

It's too bad he didn't read the parts that tell him not to hit a child or not to rape an underage girl.

oh yeah, there aren't any!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Does the Bible condone cannibalism?

This is a very interesting conundrum for Christians.  Leviticus 17:14 says:

For the life of every creature - its blood is its life. Therefore I said to the people of Isra'el, 'You are not to eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it will be cut off.'

Apparently blood is so vile this bears repeating in chapter 19:26 "Do not eat anything with blood."

If Christ is supposed to be the sacrificial lamb, and drinking his blood is salvation, what does this say about the book of Leviticus?  What does it say about Christianity?  What does it say about Christ's theology?  What does it say about the group called "Jews for Jesus?"  What does it say about the Eucharist?  What does it say about Christ being the "sacrificial lamb?"

17: 4-7 shows how blood is supposed to be used during sacrifices:
the people of Isra'el will bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice out in the field -so that they will bring them to ADONAI, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the cohen, and sacrifice them as peace offerings to ADONAI. 6 The cohen will splash the blood against the altar of ADONAI at the entrance to the tent of meeting and make the fat go up in smoke as a pleasing aroma for ADONAI. 7 No longer will they offer sacrifices to the goat-demons, before whom they prostitute themselves! This is a permanent regulation for them through all their generations.

This doesn't sound like what Jesus meant.  He was clearly either starting a new tradition or inserting a different cultural practice into his Judaism.  If his sacrifice on the cross is supposed to be represented by his blood he should be commanding his followers to splash blood on the altar.  His "Last Supper" doesn't sound much like a Passover Seder, either, since blood would be splashed on a doorway... and could not have been eaten as part of the meal.

Where did this cannibalistic ritual come from?  In the O.T. people sacrificed their children, but God supposedly condemned that as a foreign practice.  And cannibalism was a form of punishment or a way to deal with hunger after being smote by God.  So God certainly shouldn't have done it himself.  Sacrifice as atonement for sins by offering a burnt animal took place only at the Temple, and the sacrifice was given by sinners to the priests.  Jesus didn't offer to have himself burned, or offer burned flesh to the disciples.

It's easy to see why this new cult had trouble convincing Jews to join.  This supposed rabbi was teaching something totally unorthodox and repulsive to them.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Bible's contradictions, inconsistencies, errors and what-nots... What do they mean?

Well, it depends on whether you are a fundamentalist, and on how much of a fundamentalist you are.  If you subscribe to the "Fundamentals" as published 100 years ago, then you believe there are no irreconcilable inconsistencies in the Bible. If you are the kind of uber-fundamentalist modern fanatic, you believe there are no inconsistencies at all.  Of course, that also means you haven't actually read the thing.

The many contradictions, inconsistencies, and errors in the Bible are proof that the Bible can't possibly be the inerrant perfect document they believe it to be.  This means that their God isn't the perfect God they believe him to be, because the Bible is His book.  Or it means that the Bible is entirely the product of the human imagination, with a bit of history thrown in to make it more convincing.

And yes, Christians are taught to believe in the perfection of the Bible (which they know is perfect because the Bible says it is).

They get around the disagreements amongst the gospel accounts of Jesus' life by claiming the Bible is the accurate representation of what the witnesses said.  This doesn't account for the differences between the two genealogies of Christ, nor does it explain why Christ even has a genealogy traced through Joseph if he was conceived by the Holy Ghost.

The key word is "irreconcilable."  Reconciling the inconsistencies and contradictions of the Bible is part of  what's called "apologetics."

For the first time in history, we can read both sides of the debate online.  So as an example, the Jesus genealogy, this essay brings up some interesting points, including a curse on some of the kings in Joseph's lineage.  Thebibleanswer guy claims it's cultural, and anyway the Luke genealogy is through Mary's family.  Paul Carlson says that's baloney, since people of the time believed that sperm alone were the source of a baby and the woman was merely the incubator.

A Mormon site claims the Matthew lineage was about legal, not genetic, succession.  Fair enough.  Then they point out that Luke's version could apply to either Mary or Joseph since they were cousins.  This seems to come from what Catholics call "tradition."

Apparently, you can reconcile the infallibility of the Bible with its inconsistencies by having a Perfect Deity fail to insert qualifiers saying why the two are different.  You can also leave out aspects that could be read "wrong," such as a cursed king being part of Jesus' lineage.

And you can interpret writings as human-inspired despite the Bible supposedly being inspired by God.  If the reason for both lineages was to convince two groups of people of Christ's valid claim to be the next great King, then that makes them propaganda, not history.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Bible Contradicts Itself

*gasp*  Say it ain't so!  The Bible is supposed to be infallible!

Check out this post on biblical inconsistencies:

If that whets your whistle, check out the Skeptics' Annotated Bible's list of contradictions.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nutty Christian Caller (The Atheist Experience)

The Atheist Experience is a cable access call-in show in Austin, TX. They get a lot of very very strange Christian callers. This one is probably the most brainwashed nutters I've heard.  Note the complete inability to absorb the idea that people can speak for themselves and the preacher doesn't know everyhing:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Top Ten Reasons why Religion Is Bullshit

As an American of course I do tend to focus on Christianity's idiocy, but they're all baloney.  I tried to find something less offensive than Christianity, but all the other religions fail.

  1. Basis in the personal revelation of one person or a string of a few loonies.  Personal revelation can be lies, misrepresentations, migraine auras, hallucinations, delusions, or hoaxes.  Just not a reliable source of information for basing an entire lifestyle on. 
  2. Precarious transmission of the "Word."  Again, lies, misrepresentations and hoaxes are possible sources of "information."  There's also scribal errors, interpolations, deletions, and organizational or personal agendas to consider.  Just because a text is "ancient" is no reason to grant it any kind of status.  Just the reverse.
  3. Fairy tale explanations for the natural world.  Genesis is only one of hundreds of creation stories.  Every culture on Earth seems to have one.  This would indicate there's something innate about the human intellect that needs answers for things like the movement of the stars and why humans can talk but frogs can't.  The fact that there are so many of these stories leads to only one conclusion: they are all false.  The scientific method is showing all of them to be false, too.
  4. Human qualities of "gods."  The Genesis story gets around this by saying that God made us in his image, not the other way around, but it's not very convincing if you think about it. 
  5. Tribalism.  Us vs. Them.  Our group of primates wants to survive and make the other group not survive.  If we dehumanize them by making their belief systems wrong, it's easier to kill them.  They may look like us, but it's not murder if you kill someone who's different on the inside.  How do you know if they're different?  If they're our neighbors, only their gods will be different.
  6. Bullshit rules.  Rules about food.  Rules about sex.  Rules about hair.  Rules about clothes.  Rules about bullshit ceremonies.  WTF?  I can see how societies might want to regulate some antisocial behaviors, but what's antisocial about cutting your hair or eating a ham sandwich?
  7. Bullshit ceremonies.  Speaking of bullshit ceremonies, again, I can see how a society might want to put its seal of approval on marriages or say goodbye to the deceased (in a way that won't bring maggots into the town) but the rest...?  Christians have their cannibalistic ritual.  Hindus have magic powder that they dribble around.  Muslims stick their asses in the air five times a day.  Haitians dance around until they believe they've been possessed.  What a bunch of hooey.  I don't do any of those things and I don't think I'm missing out at all.
  8. Life after Death fantasies.  This is another commonality.  Sure, we don't want to die.  We also don't want to believe that our loved ones are truly gone when they die, but this life is very likely (like 99.99999%) all there is.  Again, the fact that every culture has this fantasy and that none of them have the same fantasy is pretty good reason not to believe any of them.  Notice that when people talk about Heaven they never mention anyone but the people they knew in life as hanging out there?  And maybe their pets.  They don't think that their granny might be in Hell or that they'll be sharing praise duty with millions of babies that died from cholera and dysentery before society started cleaning up water supplies.
  9. Fantasy of being able to make things go your way. This has probably been going on since before recorded history. Make it rain.  Make it stop raining.  Make the crops grow.  Make the antelope slow down.  Make the stock market improve.  Make my team beat your team.  Make the little girl with leukemia survive.  None of religion's promises to change events has ever been shown to make a difference except to give comfort and false hope to the people entertaining the fantasy.  Comfort and hope are not bad things, but do you really have to deny reality to feel better in times of stress? And doesn't it create more stress when things don't go your way despite praying or dancing or chanting for the supernatural being(s) to intervene?
  10. Resistance to change.  Sure, tradition is one of the things that binds a community but religion gives people an excuse to resist positive change.  People are against marriage not because of their prejudices.  Believers who aren't prejudiced seem to handle the idea of people making a lifetime commitment just fine.  Ditto, in the old (I hope) days when it was illegal for people of different races to marry.
That's my list off the top of my head.  From what I've read about current affairs, history, and other cultures, these things seem fairly universal and they are all detrimental.  The population of the world is about to hit seven billion.  That's twice what it was fifty years ago (if that).  Our species won't survive if we allow bullshit to keep us from solving our shared problems. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Can we Have a Moment of Silence, Please?

Nah, just kidding.

This article about a lawsuit in Florida really pissed me off.  An atheist is asking for a moment of silence to replace the city council's unconstitutional prayer.  It doesn't say why she wants that moment of silence, though.

I would like to know why a moment of silence is needed at all.  As a matter of cultural practice, it makes sense for any gathering to have a speech by a leader stating something about the shared values of the group and the purpose for the gathering.  Ritual is important, and it can set the tone for the event.  Silence is just people alone with their own thoughts - the complete opposite.

The origin of the practice is to give the religionists their moment without giving them their prayer.  It's a concession, not a suitable secular practice.  What is secular about making people shut up for a "moment?"  It's a moment for prayer for the losers.  It's a way of letting them have their prayer without letting them force their prayer on others.  It's still a moment for prayer.

Prayer is what's unconstitutional, not ritual.  Instead of getting rid of the tradition of starting proceedings with a brief speech, the city should adopt a ritual that celebrates their true shared values: the democratic process that brought them together.

They could start with the Pledge of Allegiance (original version).  Or they could make up their own.  It could go something like this: 

Esteemed citizens, welcome to the monthly meeting of the city council, elected by you, empowered by you, and dedicated to the mission of protecting and serving you and your interests.  In doing the people's business, we ask all in the room to be mindful of the highest principles of democracy.

Christians who make the argument that atheists believe in "nothing" don't need to be validated by a court case that pits atheism's moment of nothing vs. religionists moment of inviting their magic fairy's intervention in the democratic process.  We don't want nothing in place of a religious something.  We (should) want something that's positive and democratic.

Silence has its place.   Being alone with one's own thoughts at a funeral for a moment is a good thing.  All the mourners have special memories of the deceased and their relationships are individual.  I want silence when I'm trying to read.  I want silence in the operating room so my surgeon and the technicians can focus. 

Silence is good, but it's not a suitable substitute for public prayer.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't Feed the Trolls

Actual well-read, educated, coherent believers are welcome to post here.  Trolls are not.  Move along, subhumans.