Showing posts with label christian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christian. Show all posts

Thursday, 25 September 2014

OMG! Anti-Christs! OMG!


I just learned something tonight! Author and Certified Accountant, John Dillard (or Gary?), over at Christian Post blog just informed me that not only can a little horn and first beast be the anti-Christ. It turns out that anyone could be the anti-Christ! THEY COULD BE EVERYWHERE!

Who Is the Anti-Christ?
Have you ever thought that the anti-Christ may be one of your best friends? How about sitting next to you at a sporting event? Or how about he may be baby-sitting your children or teaching them at school? Did you know that any atheist is anti-Christ? Also any agnostic is also an anti-Christ! While we are at it let's see what the Bible defines as the anti-Christ.
Tiny little anti-Christlets all over the place -- multiplying like TRIBBLES! They could be anywhere -- taking care of your kids! Teaching your kids real good.

They also walk in GAY PRIDE PARADES! Just take a look at the picture on the article. Anti-Christs, indeed.

I guess I'm supposed to be an anti-Christ now? I just don't have enough time.

Listen, dude, I don't hate Jesus. He had some mostly decent things to say most of the time -- well, whoever wrote his lines.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Pastor From Anti-LGBT Church Becomes Alberta's Minister of Education

Christian Pastor and Alberta Minister of Education Gordon Dirks. (source)
So Gordon Dirks is changing jobs but he'll still be Minister Dirks. Up until a few days ago he was a pastor over at the Centre Street Church in Calgary but then he got appointed -- not elected -- to become the Minister of Education in Alberta.

The Centre Street Church published their Statement of Theological Principles and Ministry Practices from 2011 online. Here's what the church officially believes.

p. 18
We believe that God in His love for humanity intends marriage as a life-long covenant
between a man and a woman for their own well-being and the well-being of children, and for the benefit of the whole human race.

God instituted marriage as a sacred and honourable institution (Heb. 13:4), for the
blessing of companionship (Gen. 2:18), and as a continuation of the divine work of
creation in the history of the human race (Gen. 4:1). Marriage is a physical union
(1 Cor. 6:16). God intends marriage to be a monogamous, life-long union (Gen. 2:24;
Ex. 20:14) between a male and a female who are each living in the physical gender in which they were born (Gen. 1:27; Gen. 2:18, 20-25; Ps. 139:13-16; Mark 10:7-9). Marriage is constituted first in mutual covenant and is a solemn, binding agreement entered into before God and others (Mal. 2:14). The marriage covenant is intended only to be broken by the death of either the husband or the wife. God views the breaking of this earthly covenant very seriously (2 Sam. 12; Mal. 2:16). While divorce is always contrary to God’s intentions, divorce and remarriage are permitted where the marriage covenant has been violated by adultery (Matt. 5:31) or desertion (1 Cor. 7:15). Separation is permitted where necessary for the safety and wellbeing of the members of the family.

God calls His followers to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21) and to “...live a life of love, just as Christ loves us.” (Eph. 5:2) It is in this context of mutual submission and love that God calls wives to submit to their husbands and
husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:22-33).

You know, submit is not really the same as love. 

Anyway, people have been getting a little concerned about that. If we read into this then perhaps Dirks is against marriage equality. Who knows? There's more, though. LGBT activist Olav Rokne points out, the church also has an all too sad and predictable view sexuality.

p. 19
We believe that God created men and women in His own image and pronounced them good. “...male and female He created them...And God saw all that He had made and it was very good.” (Gen. 1:27-31) Human sexuality is therefore a beautiful part of God’s creation. All human activity, including the expression of sexuality, should honour God (Eph. 5:2; 1 Cor. 6:13b, 18-20). Followers of Jesus Christ are to live lives of purity, including sexuality purity. “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality...For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thess. 4:3-7)

We affirm that God is honoured by the mutually intimate physical expression of sexuality when this expression occurs between a man and a woman within a monogamous marriage. However, because of sin, all human nature, including human sexuality, is subject to abuse and misuse. God is dishonoured by: sexual obsession, intimate physical expression of sexuality outside of marriage and sexual activity between persons of the same sex, between an adult and child, between close relatives, or between a person and an animal (Phil. 4:8; Eph. 5:3-5; Rom. 1:25-27; Lev. 18:6, 20, 22-23; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).

God’s desire is to bring healing and wholeness to all aspects of our broken lives, including dishonourable human sexuality. Sexual sins, like all other sins, can be forgiven by God through Jesus Christ upon confession and repentance (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:8-10; Rom. 6:23; Rom. 6:11-14).
So much for transgender and transexual people. Gays and lesbians are lumped right in with pedophiles, incestuous relatives and those who indulge in bestiality. This church apparently sees LGBT people as being very perverse and broken like just like these other groups. Not exactly the sort of view I would like to see the Minister of Education to have.

No doubt this -- along with being in the opposition party -- lead the NDP education critic Deron Bilous to question why Gordon Dirks was appointed to the office in the first place.
NDP education critic Deron Bilous said it speaks volumes that Prentice appointed Dirks to the post when he could have chosen one of more than four million other Albertans.

“I think Mr. Prentice has made a very foolish mistake on his first day on the job, and we’re calling for Mr. Prentice to rescind his appointment of Gordon Dirks as education minister,” Bilous said. “If he was serious on action, on ensuring human rights are protected and that we continue to fight for equality in our schools and in our society, then why did he appoint Gordon Dirks as the minister of education?
Look, maybe Dirks doesn't believe all this stuff. Perhaps he just worked at the church for a gig, you know? I went digging for his own views and found a few utterances in this Leader Post article where they did the same.
Most sermons are full of anecdotes, discussions of biblical texts and typically end with a prayer of commitment. The sermons occasionally mention “sexual immorality,” but rarely go into specifics.

“Listen up, he said, I take sexual immorality seriously,” Dirks paraphrases Jesus in a Nov. 2012 sermon on the book of Revelation.

In an August 2013 sermon entitled “people of the way,” Dirks urges followers to imitate the early Christians who “began protecting the weak and vulnerable.” They built an “amazing culture of compassion” that erased cultural, racial and social boundaries and “practised sexual purity.”
Right, it's pretty unclear. Unlike school board trustee candidate Candace Maxymowich, who unabashedly let everyone know her Creationist, anti-choice, pro-abstinence-only sex education views, Dirks has played it pretty close to the vest.

Dirks is well aware that people are nervous about his church's strict and retrograde views. He's already met with LGBT activist Kris Wells.
Kris Wells, the director for the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta, got a call around supper time Monday night inviting him to a meeting in the premier’s office Tuesday morning.

Wells met for an hour with Education Minister Gordon Dirks, Premier Jim Prentice, newly appointed Health Minister Stephen Mandel and their staff to discuss a range of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues.
The Leader Post tried to contact Dirks for more information on his views. They hadn't gotten any response at the time of the article's writing. Perhaps in response to the concern, Mr Dirks tweeted the following.
In fact, unlike his church, Dirks says his record is clear on LGBT issues.
“My record in this province and in this country is quite clear,” Prentice said. “In that respect, I was one of the very first people in this country to support same-sex marriage. That happened over 10 years ago. And I intend to carry on my personal views about protecting and standing up for the rights of all Albertans, and as premier of Alberta that includes the LGBT community.”
Wells is willing to give him a chance but he expects action.

Columnist Licia Corbella, who has written before about how she wished atheists would stop ramming their minority religion down the throats of the majority, has pointed out in a recent opinion piece that the concern about Dirks' Christian point of view is sheer anti-Christian bigotry. I'll admit it, it's possible there could be some of this going on. However, on the other hand, it is not at all bigoted to be concerned about someone who's church -- at which he pastors! -- holds very bigoted views about LGBT people. There are many churches to choose from and Dirks chose this one.

Speaking of which, Corbella says that Dirks only held executive administrative roles with both the Canadian Bible College and Rocky Mountain College, private Christian universities. Yes, and he was a pastor at a church which held some pretty interesting views on LGBT issues!

She goes on to describe how happy we should all be with Christianity for having founded Public education. Yeah, anyway.

Something perhaps more useful she points out is Dirks' extensive experience within the school board.
Dirks, 67, is perhaps best known in Calgary for being a trustee with the Calgary Board of Education from 1999 to 2010, and being the CBE’s chair four times during those years. He is widely considered the best and most competent board chair in memory and came in at a time of great turbulence, which he helped smooth over with his diplomacy, competency and calmness.
This sounds like someone who may well be qualified for the job.

I would be curious to see what sorts of views Dirks has about evolution and sex education as well. Who knows?

Well, until someone knows, I guess I'm fine with letting Dirks demonstrate himself. I would wager that the vast majority of Canadian politicians are moderate to devout Christian. Many of them are likely fine secularists. Then of course, some of them are dangerously fundamentalist -- take a look at the Conservative party.

I'm highly suspicious but until he does something sucky, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

So, Gordon Dirks, don't let what your church tells influence your politics. We'll be watching you.

And then there's this...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

By George! -- Christian Lesbian Singers & Platonic "Softy God" Atheisms


Okay, I am trying to take a step back and think about a response to Richard Dawkins latest tweet about how Down's Syndrome fetuses should be aborted for morality's sake. This is a situation where I need to just breathe deeply and process. So I thought I'd just comment quickly about something which doesn't make me want to scream and pull out all my hair.

Here's something calming for your palate. Robert P. George over at First Things has weighed in, sort of, about Christian singer Victoria Beeching. She came out a lesbian last week and endorsed same-sex marriage. She's apparently trying to change Christian views of these things from the inside out -- I suppose if her music is good enough she might have some traction there.

Haha! Yeah, as if that's going to happen.

Anyway, George relates her sexual predilections (ugh!) to the different Platonic atheisms, somehow.
I must confess to not having heard of Victoria Beeching before she made news by publicizing her sexual predilections. But the theology by which she proposes to justify her behavior and demand the approbation of her fellow Christians turns out to be far from new. Plato described and condemned it in his great final work, known to us as “The Laws.” There (at II: 885b4-9) he identifies three forms of “atheism” . . . (or what we might today call “godlessness” or perhaps “secularism”).
I'm not quite sure how this paragraph works, honestly. Anyway, he jumps into three forms of atheists which Plato -- whose hero Socrates got accused of atheism -- outlined. Plato was not friend of atheists, by the way.

The first form is the mere denial of the existence of gods and George recognizes this as the prevalent form of atheism today. I would rephrase this as a mere lack of belief in any gods, but this seems fairly acceptable to me.

The second form is the acceptance of god(s) which play no discernable role in our universe and do not concern themselves with us. George calls this deism which seems reasonable enough to me. Perhaps neo-platonic ideas like the nous or monad would also fall into this category. This would be the fancy pants philosophers' god.

The third form is the soft and fuzzy caring God that I think many non-crazy-fundamentalist Christians may subscribe to. Apparently, according to Plato and Robert George I guess, this is a form of "atheism" deserving of air-quotes. Yeah, that makes no sense to me either.
The third form of “atheism” accepts that there is a God and that God is concerned with human beings. But this “God” is soft-spirited and easily placated or appeased. He makes no stringent moral demands of human beings. He wants us to like ourselves and like him. So it’s fine with him if we do pretty much as we please, whatever we please. He is an “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.” divinity—the perfect deity for an Age of Feeling.
Bzzzzzzzz... sorry, that's not atheism.

It's fascinating to see Christians who believe homosexuality is a mere sexual predilection and who apparently cannot accept the idea of gay Christians.  Somehow people like Victoria Beeching worship the wrong god or are in fact "atheists."

Well, George doesn't see atheisms #1 and #2 along with Dawkins as a threat to Christianity. It's really just a God who will accept gay people for who they are and not be a complete monster. Yes, that's the real challenge to Christianity!
Many believers, however, are being led, as Victoria Beeching has been led, into Plato’s third form of atheism—belief in an imaginary God made in the image and likeness of man, as man is conceived in the pseudo-religion of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism. It is a most convenient “God” who is always willing to say, “do whatever you feel like doing, darling; I love you just the way you are.”
You mean a God that behaves like a loving 'Father' who accepts their children for who they were created as? You know, like all parents of gay children should behave.

Anyway, that's not atheism it's still theism and many would still call it Christianity. Deal with it, because the times are changing, okay?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Christian Radio Host: Ebola May Solve America's Atheism Problem

Rick Wiles (source)
There's this guy on TruNews Christian radio who keeps on saying these really false and offensive things -- most likely to get attention. Recently he was going on about Gay Nazism.

His name is Rick Wiles, and he just said this:
"Now this Ebola epidemic can become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague. It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming… Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion."
"If Ebola becomes a global plague, you better make sure the blood of Jesus is upon you, you better make sure you have been marked by the angels so that you are protected by God. If not, you may be a candidate to meet the Grim Reaper."
Holy cow! Fourteen hundred people have gotten this disease and suffered brutally and over 800 have died. We have orphaned children because both parents have died. Or is that his solution? I suppose if we were all dead we wouldn't have any of those things Wiles is against. Seriously though, wishing a plague on those who you do not approve, really?

Oh, but it's not him... God did it, right? Is he not aware that a large proportion of the affected populations are Christian? Does he even care about those people over there?

In fact the only two Americans infected with the disease so far are both Christian missionaries! Ebola case count in gay San Francisco: zero.

As for having the blood of Jesus upon you, whatever the hell that means, it would appear that the only effective treatment so far is purely scientific. Oh, and then there is the new experimental drug ZMapp being developed by scientists. Wiles can keep his Jesus blood, I'll go for the medical treatments, thank you.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Christians Who Watch Game of Thrones Are 'Recrucifying Jesus' (And Puppies Too!)

(source)
Okay, I'll admit it. I'm the only one in my circle of friends who isn't in love with Firefly, hasn't watched every episode of Battlestar Galactica, isn't all caught up on Doctor Who and is not completely obsessed with Game of Thrones.

My first exposure to Game of Thrones was a Saturday Night Live skit, so I recognize my view could be a little skewed. Oh then there was that Huffington Post sixteen minute compilation of sex and nudity scenes from the programme. Oh and then there was that controversy concerning the rape scene.

Yeah, having never actually watched a single episode, I'll admit that my mind has likely been warped into seeing it as a kind of big budget SCA softcore erotica series -- but I'm sure it's probably much more -- although I suppose it would be just fine if it were just that anyway. Really, no problemo.

I'll tell you who's not fine with nude men and women doing all sorts of fun and visually appealing sexiness on cable television: preacher John Piper, that's who!
He has blood-bought power in his cross. He died to make us pure. He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14). If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.
Or in other words, when you're watching those beautiful fantasy-world characters get all busy with each other while secret onlookers get themselves orally busied with while others watch them through another peephole -- and things get a little tingly down there so you you start getting sort of busy with yourself, just remember that you're not just killing a puppy! Did you hear me? You're not just killing a puppy! You're re-killing Jesus, or God, or that white bird, erm...  Anyway, it's bad, Christians! Stop fapping! Stop killing Jesus!

Stop ramming your spear into Jesus. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

Anyway, he actually gives 12 reasons Christians shouldn't watch the show and I'm betting that even with the Huffington Post sexy scenes cut out he would still find something wrong with the programme. He just seems to be that kind of guy. You know, maybe it still wouldn't advance our holiness enough or something.

I have a laugh-cry relationship with all this points but here are a few highlights to consider before you can listen to his audio while watching the above scenes on mute in another window.
The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.
Well, if I believed in God then I suppose he would have been watching me watch this programme anyway, so no big surprise for him. And Hellz yeah, I would give him a big high-five and say: "God, the human body is a thing of amazing beauty and lust is a fantastic gift and sex and masturbation are totally awesome! You nailed it! Thank you!"

I mean, I don't get his point.
When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls. They disobey 1 Timothy 2:9, and we say that’s okay.
It's hard for me to see if Piper has a problem with women's sexuality in general or women actors being nude or appearing in sex scenes. I fail to see how these actors do not care for themselves.
Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy.
I'm not certain how I would feel if I had a daughter who was an actor but I tend to think it would likely be not significantly different than the parents of these actors and any actor at all who appears nude or in sex scenes -- most of the successful ones. In the end, there is nothing at all wrong with the naked body or having sex with anyone so long as it's consenting adults. I don't believe I would be as squeamish with my wife  --- she is an adult and they would be acting.

However, I'll admit, I would probably give watching my daughter's sex scenes a miss -- as I would also not wish to be in the same room when my grandchildren are being conceived!  Really, would you want to be in the same room as your daughter while she's baby making? (The 'correct' answer here is: 'no.') Why is this so complicated?

Why is this question only about daughters, wives and girlfriends? What about sons, husbands and boyfriends? Double standard?
It is not artistic integrity that is driving nudity on the screen. Underneath all of this is male sexual appetite driving this business, and following from that is peer pressure in the industry and the desire for ratings that sell. It is not art that puts nudity in film, it’s the appeal of prurience. It sells.
Male sexual appetite? In my experience, the fan base seems pretty equal between the sexes and this Wired article confirms it.
“This kind of treatment of women as if they’re narrow, fantasy-averse, or pervy, makes me want to slowly and carefully lower my forehead to my desk repeatedly in imitation of Mad Men’s Peggy Olson,” Slate writer Alyssa Rosenberg wrote in a fine answer to the Thrillist post, adding that “there’s something bizarre about the inability to imagine that some women dig stories about swords and sorcery.”
It's very possible that some female sexual appetite could also be satisfied by this programme -- a concept that some fundamentalist men likely find terrifying.

And...
Men and women who want to be watched in their nudity are in the category with exhibitionists who pull down their pants at the top of escalators.
Uh, yeah. So I guess I'll give this programme a try. I've heard good things about it lately.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Little Ironic?: Pope Francis Opposes Recreational Drugs

I just don't know. There seems to be something vaguely ironic about this slideshow picture on a recent CNN article about the Pope's opposition to anyone using recreational drugs because...
"Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," he told participants at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome.
(source)
In case the Pope forgot, alcohol is a drug and alcohol addiction -- alcoholism -- is no joke at all. Thousands of people have died from this disease. It tears up families and destroys lives. I suppose the Pope is just fine with that.

Of course, if alcohol were made illegal (again in the States), the Church could be exempted from the prohibition like they were at the beginning of the last century. Because: 'religious freedom' and because --- after all -- 'it's not wine, it's Jesus blood,' or something.

Luckily, like other matters, the world is moving on and progressing in the right direction while the Catholic Church remains in the Middle Ages. Public opinion in the United States is moving to the much more reasonable idea of legalizing drugs like marijuana which have been shown to be practically harmless compared to alcohol.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Shocking News From Tim Lambesis! Christian "Metal Bands" Are Often Not Christian At All!

Set for Stryper in 1986. (source)
Remember Stryper and all those other Christian Metal bands from back in the day? Well, I don't. My first introduction to Christian Rock and Heavy Metal 'music' was through Seth Andrews' Thinking Atheist awhile back.

Anyway, it turns out that not only are they sort of not really good but also they're apparently sort of not really Christian half the time... two-thirds of the time... nine-tenths of the time.
But the revelation becomes perhaps even more disturbing, when Lambesis says As I Lay Dying has toured with more "Christian bands" who actually aren't Christians than bands that are. In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, he estimates only one in 10 Christian bands he toured with were actually Christians.
This shockingly ridiculous revelation (not Revelation, which is also shockingly ridiculous) is over at Charisma News: Heavy Metal Christian Rock Star Tim Lambesis: 'I'm an Atheist'. It's just out today but has almost 5,000 shares on social media.
"I actually wasn't the first guy in As I Lay Dying to stop being a Christian. In fact, I think I was the third. The two who remained kind of stopped talking about it, and then I'm pretty sure they dropped it, too. We talked about whether to keep taking money from the 'Christian market,' '' Lambesis said. "We had this bizarrely 'noble' thing, like, 'Well, we're not passing along any bad ideas. We're just singing about real-life stuff. Those kids need to hear about real life, because they live in a bubble.' "
So why keep pretending you're a Christian? Well, if your income relies on record sales, you're kind of stuck bending the truth.
I was trying to put out a fire. I was afraid it would affect As I Lay Dying sales, which would affect my overall income.
Before we judge Tim Lambesis too harshly for this, remember the Clergy Project which is a very worthwhile project. If Lambesis' estimation of nine out of ten Christian bands not really being Christian is really true -- I have my doubts -- then perhaps we need a special parallel project just for them - but would the music get any better? I mean, really, is there hope? That's my question.

Of course, the Rockstar Project wouldn't accept Lambesis. Not so much because he's already went and outed himself but because he admitted to hiring a hitman to kill his estranged wife. That's not ethical behaviour for a human: Christian or atheist. Yeah, that's not great material at all.

I'll put on my prophet hat right now and predict that we'll start hearing the 'no true Christian rockstar' fallacy in three... two... one...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Anglican Church Cannot Accept Gay Marriage Because "Christians Could Get Hurt"

Head of Church of England, Archbishop Justin Welby (source)
The head of the Church of England, Justin Welby, was on a radio program not long ago where he had a very interesting response to the question of his church accepting same-sex marriage.

African Christians will be killed if church accepts gay marriage warns Anglican leader
He was asked by one caller as to whether the Church of England would accept same-sex marriage after it was legalized. 
Welby replied, "The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here."
Basically, he's saying that although it pains him in the middle of the night to see the mistreatment of LGTBI people in Britain, he has to balance that suffering with the kind of persecution Anglicans may receive in African states where being gay is illegal.

This comparison is pretty odd on this front alone, but what's really odd is how he seems to completely ignore the plight of LGBTI people internationally.

I'm sure Welby is a smart man - he was made head of a major international religious organization. So I can only imagine that he must be aware of the dreadful treatment of homosexuals in places like Nigeria or Russia - where they are stone to death and beaten in the streets. Surely that would change his calculus?

I don't really know what to make of him simply leaving these people to suffer and die when regional church leaders often use the positions of organizations like his to justify ongoing persecution.

Savi Hensman on his blog over at Ekklesia asks the same question that hit me.
I do not doubt his sincerity. However in the interview he failed to acknowledge the even greater suffering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Christians in some non-western countries, and the responsibility of certain church leaders there for stoking up violent hatred, which may have backfired.
Amen!

Perhaps Welby is more worried about the future of his Church than the future of LGTB people in the UK and all across the world. Perhaps he doesn't want a schism similar to the internal conflict that struck the church regarding women clergy.

One bishop, the head of the Uganda Anglican Church, has already more or less threatened they'd leave if the C. of E. ever endorsed gay marriage.

Priorities. Priorities.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Trinity Western Law School: Setting The Tone For Discrimination

(source)
At the time of writing this post, in the United States, seventeen states have already legalized same-sex marriage. Things are changing faster than anyone could imagine with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DOMA). Internationally, it seems like another country legalizes same-sex marriage every other week.

Here in Canada, we enjoy legal same-sex marriage in all of our provinces and territories. We were actually the fourth country to legalize it, which makes me very proud to be a Canadian.

University of Ottawa law student St├ęphane Erickson wrote an excellent opinion piece in the Globe & Mail about how the upcoming Trinity Western law school is in the wrong for discriminating against students who are in relationships with partners of the same sex.

Trinity Western law school has no right to judge its gay students

But all legal jargon aside; let’s call a spade a spade. This is wrong. It’s plain wrong. Denying access to education – above all legal education – based on one’s sexual orientation or lifestyle choices is wrong. Whether it’s a private institution or a public institution, it remains wrong. It’s wrong because it is hateful. It conveys the message that religion can indeed be used as shield, as a cloak, to discriminate, to judge and to perpetuate vile and harmful ideas – be it against women, ethnicities, sexual minorities, or other contributors to society that have been historically and systematically forced to silence, to shame, to the periphery.
Erickson has a good if not tragic point; he is himself a gay Roman Catholic. The Vatican has a huge problem with homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

His questions are good ones. How can a single law school respect both secular laws and their bronze age mythology at the same time? How can they serve two masters?

At the end of his piece, he asks this poignant question.
I therefore ask this of Canada’s soon-to-be law school: If a person is gay and loves another person of the same sex, and seeks to further his or her understanding of the law, notably in the areas of religious freedoms, and has good will, on which authority do you stand to judge him or her?
My answer is a simple one. They base it on their book, naturally. How could they do otherwise?

This new institution is for young students who ultimately wish to learn about the LAW. This is more than the petty laws of humans; those which have helped bring about some measure of equality for men who love men and women who love women. These young minds will learn how to fold and bend human temporal laws to serve their ultimate religious law, to serve their mission.

I think this will be a school which enslaves the law of the land to the verses of a book which would ultimately have gays and lesbians regulated back to their historical position of persecution.

Erickson deftly expresses concerns that underlie my objections to the school and no doubt the objections of many others.
The obvious questions follow: How is a law school, which does not recognize the legitimacy of civil unions, same-sex marriage, and non-traditional family structures, going to ensure an accurate and sincere legal education? How is the Charter going to be taught with respect to women’s rights, LGBT rights, and other issues pertaining to sections 15 and 7? Moreover, and maybe most importantly, how is the school going to ensure that students feel safe in an environment morally bound by religious doctrine and skewed interpretations of sacred texts? All these questions have been asked, with no – or very few – answers from the University.
I think the answer is apparent. They have no real intention of doing this. This is why they require their own separate school. This is why they have cloistered themselves away. Society is growing increasingly suspicious and intolerant of their attitudes towards LGBT rights.

Canadian society and its laws have become a hostile place full of scorn and ridicule for those who do not approve of the increasing public acceptance of LGBT people.  They cannot tolerate LGBT people being in relationships with those they love, marrying, having or adopting children -- living their lives and treated like human beings.

The condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle as a kind of sickness by the religious seems more and more ridiculous and vile with each passing day. As multiple sexual orientations and gender identities become ever more normalized in a more broadly inclusive society, it is these people who are left in the dust. Frankly, they start looking like the religious who were on the wrong side of the civil rights movement.

I believe the creators of this new law school don't like the direction things are going. Maybe they will try to raise an army of lawyers to swing the pendulum backwards. One can only hope they fail.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Churches In Kenya Refusing to Vaccinate Their Children

Okay, this weeks' Witchcraft Wednesdays is too action packed for me to fit into a single post. So I'm breaking it up into mini posts. Here's the first ranty one.

So, religiously motivated anti-vaxers in Kenya.

Sects lock health officials out in polio vaccination drive
Health workers administering the polio vaccine faced fierce resistance Tuesday from more than 30 families who subscribe to a sect that does not believe in modern medicine. Armed with machetes, stones and other crude weapons, villagers from Piavi-Subukia in Njoro, Nakuru County, protested against the vaccination, hurling insults at journalists and health workers as they locked their children in the houses. The villagers are said to be members of a sect called Church of God.
I like how the article refers to the church as a sect rather than a church even though I'm pretty sure it's just another brand of Christianity. At least this implies they also believe these families are nuts.

The CDC gives Kenya a Level 2 warning on their three level severity chart when it comes to polio risk. So polio is a real risk in Kenya.

One parent claimed that since Jesus never took drugs (cuz it don't say in the B-ay-b-el) it means his children shouldn't either. It's surprising to me that he didn't recall that he's the one who believes this Jesus fellow was god and rose from the dead. Those are some pretty spiffy tricks that I doubt his children have when it comes to polio affliction.

Authorities did the right thing and wrestled the villagers down forcing the vaccine drops into the mouths of the children -- who are innocent in all of this tragedy and do not deserve to be crippled or die because their parents think medicine is witchcraft.
“You are worldly people out to tarnish the hearts of our children. You are evil and your drugs are witchcraft,” he shouted amid fist fights.
Many of the women were in tears watching their children get the drops. One woman told media that she forgave her parents for forcing her to get the drops because they were unsaved.

Another religious cult resisting immunization is called Yesu Ma Kende, which I know has something to do with Jesus because Yesu is apparently Jesus in Swahili. However, ma seems to mean Mother and Kende apparently means scrotum or testes. So, yeah, I'm not sure what's going on there. Any Swahili speakers, please help me out.
‘‘You are my enemies and are looking for trouble; you are going against my faith. I have always tried to explain to you my case, but you don’t listen. I made a vow with my Lord that I will never accept immunisation, lest disaster befalls me,’’ she said. 
It really goes to show how religious faith and conviction can really backfire and lead to people being immunized from facts and reality. And of course, it's little children that will suffer.

And another church.
The couple, members of a Dini ya Yesu church from Nyamusi area, said they believe it is only God who has powers to heal humankind. Followers of the church believe the sick should not seek treatment from hospitals. 
Isn't it amazing how religious superstition can delude parents enough to turn against science and ultimately let their children die of polio?

Here's a picture of iron lungs that were used in America as recently as the 1950s to keep adults and little children alive when their own muscles were too weak to even breathe after their bodies were wracked with polio. Oh and if you do survive, you can end up with permanent damage and crippled for life.

Iron lungs (source). I believe the person to the lower left is a young child.
During the polio epidemics, the iron lung saved many thousands of lives, but the machine was large, cumbersome and very expensive: in the 1930s, an iron lung cost about $1,500 - about the same price as the average home. The cost of running the machine was also prohibitive, as patients were encased in the metal chambers for months, years and sometimes for life: even with an iron lung the fatality rate for patients with bulbar polio exceeded 90%. (source)
Could you imagine your son or daughter being constrained to a breathing machine for life because they didn't have access to a few drops of vaccine? Thank you, religious nonsense.
In the United States, the 1952 polio epidemic would be the worst outbreak in the nation's history, and is credited with heightening parents’ fears of the disease and focusing public awareness on the need for a vaccine. Of the 57,628 cases reported that year 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.
Read my lips: Take... the... drops... because... Jesus... didn't... help... these.. children.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Nicholas Frankovich Wonders If Atheists Really Exist

William F. Buckley Jr. leaning precariously, as he often did. To my knowledge
he never fell while on the air.
Back in 1955, legendary conservative brain-person, William F. Buckley Jr. -- with whom I would have loved to hang out in his younger days were I alive and had enough cash on hand -- founded a magazine called the National Review.

He was no doubt a very smart and charming sort of fellow. This made him all the more aggravating to listen to back in my proto-liberal childhood days.

I was subjected to near lethal doses of him on his Firing Line programme, where he always seemed to win pretty much any argument. I didn't understand the topics at hand, but I can remember waiting and hoping he would fall over on his chair from over extending the upper part of his body to the side.

I suppose this made me a mischievous little runt, but please forgive me. If memory serves, he came on right after the Lawrence Welk Show and no amount of bubble machine could save me from that sheer boredom. So by the time Buckley's stuffy baroque theme song bounced around our living room, I was already desperate for stimulus. I'm sorry, Bach.

I also recall eating a lot of roast beef with horseradish and Yorkshire Pudding on those evenings. Honestly, if we were any white-Traditional-Catholic-conservative the albedo of the planet would have increased and global cooling would have surely set in.

Buckley wrote this:
“I believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.” 
Meanwhile, Nicholas Frankovich writes for the National Review and he wants to know if atheists exist.

Do Atheists Exist?

A new “godless” church makes you wonder. 

What other kind of church would atheists make?

Of course, William F. Buckley Jr. had that one right. Yes, Nicholas, they do exist. Let's dive a little into his interesting essay anyway.

He's talking about the Sunday Assembly phenomenon, which I've been covering on and off since their beginning.
“Church has got so many awesome things going for it (which we’ve shamelessly nicked),” Jones and Evans confess in a short piece that appeared in the New York Times to mark the launch of their venture. Stuart Balkham, an earnest convert, told the Guardian that at a London meeting he attended the Assembly was “unashamedly copying a familiar Church of England format,” which he thought was great.
Frankovich can't understand how atheists, agnostics and nones can just get together in a room and be happy together while celebrating life and science and feeling awe at existence.

His first mistake seems to be to assume that atheism could actually be a religion -- which it isn't. But even if it where, this doesn't make it something other than atheism. Like many other religious writers I've seen, he seems to smuggle extra meaning into a word that ultimately means nothing more than non-belief in any gods and then tries to cancel it out.
If “religion” remains the inevitable word for a certain moral and philosophical seriousness, however, atheism is, or should be, counted as religious after all.
No. A certain moral and philosophical seriousness does not have to be religion. In fact, I would say that religion lowers the bar, muddies and dilutes proper consideration of ethical questions. Anyway, he makes a pretty good point that some mainline Protestant religions and some world religions are either so watered down or overtly atheist. It then sort of gets thrown away.

Okay, I love this sentence!
We live in a post-secular age, having run up against the limitations of procedural liberalism, which, while regulating the market on which God and the Devil compete for souls, remains scrupulously disinterested in the outcome.
I believe the theory is that secularists now have control over the rules of war between these two fictional characters and they don't care -- maybe because they are made up characters.

He then mentions a few atheists whom I've never heard of who are actually suggesting more religion for us all because our culture derives its morals from religion. My only response to this is relief that I've never heard of these so-called atheists, because they sound like terrible human beings if their only solution for us is to feed more delusions to the hoi polloi. Really, shame on them for thinking so lowly of human kind.

He then proceeds to pick away at the stated goals of the Sunday Assembly.
Wonder more: No one disputes that atheism is compatible with wonder at the physical universe and how it works. Wonder at how it came to be just so, however, soon leads to wonder at how it came to be at all, a question that atheists typically sidestep. The pleasure of contemplating it is forbidden fruit to which the Sunday Assembly approaches nearer than a good atheist ought.
Wow, does this ever annoy me. It's astounding that the finger is pointed at us for sidestepping the question of why there is something and how it came to be. While an honest admission of we don't know (yet) is apparently a sidestep, the bold and unsubstantiated claim that some magical man in the sky did it all by snapping his fingers is a perfectly reasonable solution to the problem? He then caps this off by throwing in what a good atheist ought not to do. This motif of defining our proper behaviour - what a good atheist should be -- from without is showing up with ever increasing frequency in theist essays.

He seems to almost recognize that accusing atheists of not having a proper answer for everything demands he back it up with his own theory. He does this in the ever predictable way: Mystery that nobody can ever hope to understand!
Philosophically if not historically, the theism of Judaism and Christianity, as well as of Islam and major religious currents outside the Western tradition, begins with the observation that the mystery of being is irreducibly mysterious, absolutely immune to attempts at demystifying it. 
You atheists don't have an answer! But we do! It's God! What's that, you ask? Mystery!

Then, like Dante, we are whisked down into several strata of something, I guess. The path is so windy, it's hard to say where we're going. Once someone pulls out Wittgenstein, you can bet that all hope for clear understanding is near totally lost.
The articulation of thought about what that mystery is — “Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is,” in Wittgenstein’s succinct rendition of the matter — has been so honed by succeeding generations of thinkers descended from the union of Greek philosophy and Jewish, Christian, and Islamic theology that it’s now difficult for anyone, whether theist or atheist, to improve on their exact formulations. So the atheist seeking to communicate an accurate answer to the question “Why is there not nothing?” will find himself borrowing theologically inflected terminology. Inescapably, he affirms the most fundamental of theological precepts. He agrees with it implicitly. He asserts that he doesn’t. His disagreement is first of all with himself.
Yeah, sure. Now which shell is the peanut under? I've completely lost track.

Well, once that's all been explained, he moves the post further by claiming that the God folks like Dawkins is attacking isn't the real God anyway. How convenient. 

Next stratum: Talking about Greek and Hebrew translations of the verb to be.

Next stratum: Hellenism's spread over the Mediterranean. Plato. Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas. Latin translation of the verb to be.

Next stratum: Moses asking God why there's something other than nothing and God can't stop talking about himself.

Next stratum: Atheists attack a personal god who's a patriarch -- you know, the one in the Bible -- but that's not really God (see above).

Next stratum: He blames Atheists for being too impatient in their understanding of God. They are too quick to assume the've understood God (something that apparently cannot be understood at any intellectual level) before dismissing him (as some kind of funny feeling). Apparently, the closest answer to the question is a feeling. Yeah, not good enough. The burden is on the theist to make their case.

Next stratum: Quantum theory. The nothing of vacuum that still has the random coming into existence and bursting away into non-existence of particles. Brace yourself for a possible Chopra Maneuver.

Finally, God is stripped of any sort of personal or knowable structure and reduced down to Nothing at all! Because, nothing is still something.
It’s become too familiar, this ordinary English word for what we tend to talk around rather than talk about. So forget “God.” Call him “Nothing,” if you prefer
The mistake Frankovich seems to make here seems to be common among theists. Everything is something in language. Nothing, like God, is a word. I can make up another one -- blauberbluch. I define this word to mean both nothing and something at the same time. After all, nothing is something... it's a word. 

There is no such thing as nothing because as soon as it's something it's not nothing -- unless you're just talking about words.
Notice how “nothing” can function for the atheist as “God” does for the theist. Are the two only using different linguistic tokens in parallel efforts to express the same ineffable thought? 
It's amazing. It's like God and nothing are somehow equivalent!
No, following wonder to its logical conclusion does not by itself make an atheist suddenly Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. It only means he’s not an atheist. Someone should tell him. 
No. He's still an atheist who is filled with awe for life and the world and happy to be on this planet.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My Manic Mailbag: Christian Leadership Coach Wants Me to Publish His Articles or Review His Book?

(source)
I guess my blog has been around long enough to attract a higher level of spam these days. And it's only with the spirit of Christmastide that I now share it with you. Happy Holidays!

I got this email a few days ago from Sarah.
Hi There  
I am Mark Furlong's assistant. We are very interested to contribute to your site.  You can view our website here: http://www.markfurlongcoaching.com. We can deliver quality articles that your readers will certainly be interested in. We will also promote your site in return for this favor. 
Mark Furlong also just recently published a new book entitled The Divine Design: How to Receive God in Your Everyday Life.  It is a short book (25,000 words) which focuses on the priority of connecting and receiving the life God so gladly shares through Jesus. He is a Bible teacher and leadership coach and these teachings have been well received wherever he taught them. It is available here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FOG58CA .
Let me know if a book review or a guest post will do better for your site. 
I am excited to hear from you. 
I'm also very excited to do such a review! I eagerly emailed a response saying it would be my utmost pleasure to review the book on my site. The last review of a Christian book took up a whole series on this blog. Granted, it wasn't a very favourable review. But who knows! Maybe this book will convert me to Jesus!

Mark Furlong's site promises that his services will help you:
Maximize Your Impact. Become an Entrepreneurial-Minded Business or Ministry Leader People Want to Follow.
Well, I've heard from people in the Clergy Project that running a ministry is very much like running a business. In fact, it's often one of the only truly transferable skills ex-pastors can leverage when coming out as atheist.

Anyway, here's hoping I get my free copy!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Conservative, "Radical" Feminist & Evangelical Christian Want Team Up to Block Online Porn

A few seconds of "stable" image (source).
I can remember when my father bought me a combination boombox and black and white television. It was a highlight of my childhood.

Sitting in my room, alone, I laughed at David Letterman (I think he was better in the 90s) and terrified myself watching The Day After and other nuclear war themed movies from that era.

Then there were those latenight softcore movies always on the French channel - a stark contrast to the anglophone offerings of blood, guns and explosions. Inevitably, things would just start getting interesting at the moment they cut for commercial!

And then there were those scrambled channels on the downstairs television, which was hooked up to cable. I can remember weekends after staying up watching a 2 hour Doctor Who marathon on PBS. I would tune into these channels and wait, hoping to catch something for a few seconds when the picture stabilized. The colours were all still inverted, of course. Around the same time, modem-based BBS systems allowed me to download images at a painfully slow rate - so long as my mom didn't pick the phone up.

Forgive me. I was a 12 year old boy.

Well now a conservative MP, a radical feminist and an evangelical Christian have joined together to block online porn.

Apparently, it's become a PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY SITUATION by just the sorts of people you'd expect to find it so.

Conservative MP, radical feminist and evangelical Christian come together to block online porn in Canada

They want to have ISPs monitor and block objectionable online content -- for now, it's pornography, maybe later atheism? -- and force people to opt-in if they wish to see it. They claim to be doing it to protect the children but I think it's pretty evident none of them would shed a tear if all porn just disappeared completely.
“If we can get a man on the moon, certainly we can figure out a way to protect children from unwanted porn,” said Winnipeg Conservative MP Joy Smith, who is formulating a private member’s bill that would automatically block access to online pornography. Anyone wanting to access porn would have to contact their Internet service providers.
And, naturally, the ISPs would have to charge some kind of fee for this activation. It would drive up the price of such material and likely have a negative impact on the porn producers - but it's all for the kids.

There is, of course, a simpler approach. It involved monitoring your kids rather than letting the computer be a babysitting device. In fact, it's evangelical Christians who have come up with services to do just that. There are many monitoring and blocking services out there for parents to choose from. It is even possible to monitor the sites visited at the hardware level in your router itself.
Anti-Internet-censorship activist Bennett Haselton, founder of peacefire.org, a website that creates portals to get around blocked sites, said the burden of proof should be on anti-porn activists ‘‘to show that what they are blocking is harmful somehow.” 
“In the United States and Canada and most other developed countries, an entire generation now has grown up that, for the most part, actually did have unrestricted Internet access, and they’re not mentally warped by it. There’s no evidence that they’ve been harmed by it,” said Mr. Haselton.
Even so, as a parent, I don't want my child to see pornography. Listen, I get it.

So, for the time being, I've locked the IPAD and have removed the web browser ability. We've also put in "safe browsing" mode for the Youtube app. Later, when he gets more savvy, I will add reporting software to our router so I will be kept abreast of which device is going where. Perhaps I'll also purchase some additional software.

But among some of my most technically savvy friends there is one common thread. They all know that the best filters and blockers (even run by the ISP) can be worked around.
Mr. Haselton, however, said filters may not pose accessibility issues for internet-savvy individuals. “No filter blocks new proxy sites after they’re released, so if people can get access to proxy sites, then, yes, they can get around the filters,” he said.
And that's why my geeky friends all use the simplest and most effective means. They put their child's computer in a public place, like the kitchen! And they turn off the Internet connection or block the device from the Internet during times where it cannot be monitored. It's simple! It's like the television.

I tell you what. Why not have this as opt-in program for parents who wish to have their Internet filtered by censoring companies - who may very well either be fundamentalist Christian or have a widely evangelical customer base. Then, rather than charging people who do not want every website they visit logged, scrutinized, categorized and potentially blocked, they can charge those who don't mind some company controlling what they should or should not see.

The Conservative MP, Joy Smith, claims she received a letter from a distraught 10 year old who feels horrible for having viewed porn.
“Yesterday, I got a letter from a young boy 10 years of age telling me he was addicted to porn,” she said. “It just brought me to tears.”
For real? What 10 year old boy would even know he's addicted to porn? And what ten year old boy would think of writing a letter to his MP!  Please!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Atheist & Pastor Develop Temporary "Mini-Shelters" For Homeless

Jeff Gruban (left) and Pastor Ward Draper. (source)
It's nice to see atheists and religious folk cooperate. I don't mean backing down or compromising your beliefs or principles. I mean setting them aside every so often to combine forces and do some good for the community.

Well, this happened in Abbotsford, BC recently.

Mobile homeless shelter tested in Abbotsford: 
Home on wheels developed by local pastor and atheist for $200

It's actually all over the local news. Ward Draper is pastor of 5-and-2 ministries while Jeff Gruban is a spokesperson for the Fraser Valley Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists.
The shelter – two metres long by 0.9 metres wide by 1.2 metres tall – has an axle with two hard wheels on it and a castor on the front, along with handles, a locking door, a sliding window and some shelving. The structure also has a sealed corrugated plastic roof. 
"These little shelters are more sealed than a tent and they're up off the ground so people can stay drier," says Gruban.
The city mayor is impressed with the initiative but is cautious for now and would like to halt further development. He would like to ensure that the structures are safe and meet various fire and health codes.
Banman said he didn’t want to see the city become “the bad guy” if it had to nix the shelters if serious concerns arise after they’re built. 
Fire safety, adequate ventilation, exiting the shelter and personal security were all issues that need to be examined and vetted with fire, police and health officials, he said.
Draper believes these structures (which can be locked from the inside) are far safer than tents - many homeless use candles for light and presumably warmth. Besides, these trailers are off the wet ground and more sturdy in winds.

They plan to build around 40 units and secure some land for a semi-permanent homeless trailer park similar to Portland's Dignity Village homeless community. The goal of such a community would be to house homeless people until more permanent housing could be built.

Stanley Woodvine on his blog sqwaab is not impressed by the new mobile structures and has some good points.
Remember, this is Abbotsford, part of British Columbia’s Bible Belt — God forbids a lot here. But I agree with his Worship, the boxes look like rickety fire traps. And, I for one wouldn’t want to be tucked into one when rowdy, young, weekend drunks happen along. This is a class of individual who never tire of knocking over mailboxes, and, newspaper boxes, and, occasionally setting fire to things.
He also brought up waterproofing issues with the particle board and how the mayor put out a soundbite that he was impressed with the initiative and then, at the same time, put on the brakes so no more could be made.

I guess these houses on wheels would also be easier for police to whisk away than tents as well?

Well, anyway, it's nice to see people working together.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Hold On To Your Brains, Seattle!

1950s horror movie meets evolutionary pseudoscience... with a dash of
religious philosophy.
At least a decade ago, used to frequent a local repertoire cinema here in Montreal.  Almost every Friday they would offer up some ghastly B-movie for our viewing pleasure and I would eat that cheese up with extra crackers.

So, Seattle, what are you doing this coming Friday?  Well, our spinner-of-pseudoscientific-yarns friends over at the Discovery Institute have just the thing for you.  It's a double feature! Bring your 3-D glasses and sick bags because it's going to be a B-movie kind of ride.

Friday in Seattle, Plantinga Will Speak on "Why Science Needs Religion: Science's Untold Conflict with Atheism"




You know, what remains of my brain after the understandable mind-implosion his material caused can remember little of Plantinga's work.  I think it was Jon Loftus' book Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity that introduced me to him but my memory for things like this is fuzzy. Perhaps my subconscious mind is shielding my ego from past traumas? All I remember is whatever Plantinga was trying to convey to me didn't seem to resemble anything vaguely close to Christianity - at least on this planet.

You can find some discussion of Plantinga over at the Sandwalk blog, Alvin Plantinga Explains Why Naturalistic Evolution Is a Self-Defeating Proposition.
Alvin Plantinga looking like he needs a heated
room with a chair.
Since the Renaissance, atheist academics have preached that science is the antidote to belief in God. In response. Plantinga (Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism) claims that atheism in fact undermines scientific theories and that religious beliefs support and encourage scientific inquiry. ...
In Where the Conflict Really Lies, he explains why claims by leading scientific atheists are unconvincing and shows how science can in fact bolster the case for theism. 
And his ideas are taking the scientific community by storm!  Right now, as we speak, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss are holed up in an undisclosed location, doors barricaded... in hiding!  No, wait, that's not happening at all.  In fact, it seems to be the opposite, actually.  I wonder why that is?

You'll also get to see Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Jay Richards, who famously debated Christopher Hitchens as a lead up to the movie Expelled.  Ben Stein moderated.

As you probably know, the Discovery Institute in Seattle have been known to have an out of this world view of science that only vaguely resembles the scientific consensus of this planet.  They're the ones who push Intelligent Design with publicity shots of fake scientists.

Well, why not find out for yourself? Bring your biologist friends! Dress up as a transitional fossil!  It's FREE!
Dr. Plantinga's talk begins at 7:00 pm at University Presbyterian Church at 4540 15th Avenue NE, Seattle, and will be followed by a response by Discovery Institute's Dr. Jay Richards, co-author of The Privileged Planet, and by a Q & A with the audience. 
While the event is FREE to the public, registration is required. RSVP online now! Tell your friends! For information about event parking, visit the UPC website. 
The event is sponsored by the Ideas and Arts Task force at University Presbyterian Church and by Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture.
In all seriousness though, it is good to be exposed to opposing arguments and Alvin Plantinga is probably the most renowned Christian philosopher around these days.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Banana: Created By God To Be Ray Comfort's Worst Nightmare?

The first time I heard of Staks Rosch was on Stacy Transancos' Accepting Abundance, which is still, by far, my favourite Catholic blog ever.

Stacy was addressing Staks in her post Schooling an Atheist on Grammar, which I found so very delightfully irritating that I was forced to launch a series of posts in response.  I never did quite finish those because I promised to read some book about Catholic Theology and, well, I'll still reading it.

Staks returns into my little godless world to tell me all about how the banana is no longer the Atheist's Nightmare.  Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron declared this to be true some time ago and the video made its way to be infamous.  It gave Comfort the title Banana Man.  I know I always think of bananas when I see Ray, he is simply bananas.

Ray Comfort: Doesn’t like the ‘B-word’

'B' is for banana.

I personally don't care who Ray bans from his Facebook wall, as I have little desire to visit or read it.  Although he did recently declare war on atheism on his Facebook page - so I guess some monitoring is in order for intelligence purposes: monitoring troop movements etc.

Anyway, Staks sums up the irony rather well here.

Here, Comfort implies that he would ban atheists from his page if they even mention the fruit. While he of course has the right to ban whoever he wishes from his page without explanation, it is a little ironic that he has such a strong reaction to the thing that he claimed was an atheist’s nightmare.

Ironic indeed.  Maybe, if there is a God, He finds Ray and Kirk so annoying that he actually didn't create the banana specifically for us as humans to eat.  Perhaps the banana was specifically designed by God to become Ray's namesake, a fruity focal point of ridicule just to get back at Ray Comfort.

The banana is so perfectly suited to make Ray Comfort look ridiculous that I fear he'll have to admit it, God created it to make him look silly.  Maybe God has lost faith in himself long ago and has become an atheist and so passes his time creating yellow fruit in order to play an elaborate joke on Ray.  If I were a god I might do it.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Canadian Government Shows Its True Colours By Funding Anti-Gay Religious Groups In Uganda

Julian Fantano (source: CBC)
So, I turn my back for a week or so to fund-raise for a school that could very well be part of the solution to social problems in Uganda and look!  The government goes and gets caught red-handed adding to the problem in Uganda. They've been funding an anti-gay organization working within one of the most homophobic countries on the planet.  The group is Crossroads Ministries, who make that terrible show my grandma used to watch all the time, 100 Huntley Street.

The first thing I heard about this was on the evening of the 11th.  I had just finished furiously typing away to finish off the landing page for a fundraiser to benefit the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda.  This is a school that is actively working to stamp out homophobia and religious superstition in one of the most homophobic and religiously superstitious places in the word.  Sort of ironic, isn't it?

Due out the door, with other tasks pressing, I peeled off my first tweet about the fundraiser and seconds later I got a tweet back from Kevin Smith, the president of CFI Canada.


I honestly was so pressed for time that the reference to Julian Fantino went straight over my head.

Julian Fantino is the minister in charge of this business and he defended his stand by claiming they fund results-based programmes.  It has absolutely nothing to do with religion!

I guess this isn't much of a surprise.  Just recently it was found this government has been very keen to work with religious charities over and above secular ones.  Don't believe me? First, you've got the study by the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid that shows the Conservatives boosting funding to religious organizations by 42% between 2005 and 2010.  Then, you've got folks like Conservative MP David Anderson who's primary concern seems to be to ensure public sphere space is given to religious institutions and people who are speaking to faith issues and then the initiative they need to take in order to have their voice heard.  You know, like promote Jesus and stuff, which is evidently way more important than feeding them or teaching them about science.  Results, results.

Now that I look back at all this, I wonder how many Humanist schools, gardens and chicken coops $500,000 would buy?  I'm sure Crossroads is doing many great things to help Ugandans. Don't get me wrong!  But wouldn't it make more sense to help initiatives that do not see homosexuality as a sin (had to use the Google cache version) in a country where gays and lesbians risk death?  I mean, why strongly condemn Uganda's medieval stance on homosexuality with your mouth and support an anti-homosexuality group with your wallet?

Meanwhile, I know it's a day late, but a tardy Valentine is a Valentine nonetheless.  Why not pop over to this Change.org petition to end the Kill the Gays Bill in the Ugandan parliament - you know... what our goverment should be doing rather than fund an anti-gay organization in a country where gay people could get killed for merely existing?