Showing posts with label christianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christianity. Show all posts

Friday, 3 July 2015

Parody Mitt Romney's Interesting Take on Christian Morality

Mitt Romney (source)
There are a lot of really good progressive politics shows from south of the border. In addition to liking the David Pakman Show, I also regularly listen to the hilarious Jimmy Dore Show, to which Mystery Science Theater's Frank Conniff is a regular contributor.

The program often makes fun of religion gone extra crazy on their Oh My God segment. Their most recent episode is a collection of some of their funnier stuff. In it there is a parody interview with a parody Mitt Romney (voiced by Mike Macrae) which very neatly explains much that is wrong with Christian -- or indeed most religious morality.

Here's an embedded player version cued up the the right part (8:25). The full episode is here.

Romney is making excuses for Josh Duggar and the coverup actions of his family after it was revealed he had incestuously molested girls -- including his sisters -- when he was younger.
Lemme explain. Jimmy, you secular progressives have it all wrong. You don't understand Christian morality. People like you think that acts are wrong. Things that people do are wrong. And that people are judged by the actions they make.

In truth the reverse is true. People are good or bad. If someone is, like, part of your class or race or tribe or religion, they're good people. If they do bad things, those are mistakes that God forgives. But if someone is not like you, then their sins are worse and they need to be set on fire.

That is Christian morality. I mean, what else would you expect from a tradition was born, literally, of tribalism?

Good comedy and satire can explain concepts so succinctly! If you liked that, I highly recommend you listen to the entire podcast.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Confederate Flag 'Brand': The Need to Critically Re-examine Symbols From Our Youth

A 1959 protest against admission of first 9 black students to an Arkansas white only high school. (source)
The following is a guest post by Phoebe Helen, a reader from Delaware, who is both an atheist and a Humanist. Due to her employment situation, she would prefer to use a pen name. It is about how we can be born and trapped into labels which mean very different things to different people.

I was frankly baffled over the past week to see one of my typically kind and tolerant facebook friends posting alarmist article after dismaying image after hyperbolic update defending the Confederate Flag and the protection of her Southern Heritage.  I watched with mounting agitation as day after day her passion on the subject grew. Where had this come from? Finally, I asked her.
I've been struggling with trying to understand why this is your issue, the thing you feel so strongly about that, as you said a few days ago, you are willing to take up arms (did you mean kill people?) over. I've not been arguing, I've just been trying to understand. But I don't. Please help me. What, exactly, is the heritage that you think this flag stands for, that you want to protect, other people's feelings be damned? I'm not getting it, and I know you are a nice person. Please define this "heritage" for me. Thank you.
I expected her response to include concepts like states’ rights and freedom of speech. Instead, I got:
It's first kisses, first dances. and first time falling in love. It's holding hands at the county fair and riding the upside down rides for the first time. It's football game noises and nachos accidentally spilled on a girl in a fur coat in front of me. It's hay rides in the fall. It's winter dances and the song Blueberry Hill. It's cutting classes and getting a burger at lunch. Every good memory I have as a young person has this flag in it. 
Ah-ha, I thought. This I understand. This is what kept me a Christian for so long. My “brand”. Wearing a cross necklace signaling to others, “I’m a good person.” Looking for symbols to find those ‘raised right’ the way I was, who could be trusted. My brand of people.

My friend’s thinking seems to be going something like this: She’s a good person. Her friends are good people. The flag is integrally woven into their collective childhood memories, and has become part of their identity. If we say, based on every available fact, that the flag is racist, her mind takes a dip in the pool of cognitive dissonance, where logic is lost in the murky depths. She does not self-identify as a racist. She has joyful images swimming through her mind with the flag as backdrop. Ergo, the flag is not offensive. The people attacking “us” and calling “us” racist are trying to associate our beloved flag with those crazies who have co-opted it into white supremacy. Get out the pitchforks to defend against this attack on our heritage, our memories, our very identities!

It’s a branding problem. The flag absolutely is racist. Those “crazies” using the flag are in fact following the ‘manufacturer’s instructions’ that came with the brand – Please use this flag to fight for superiority of the white race. Repeat as necessary until superiority achieved.

A similar thing is going on with Christianity. The most fundamental believers are considered by the religious moderates to be “the crazies” for trying to legislate six-thousand-year-old beliefs around values and science. They are following ‘manufacturer’s instructions for use of Bible’. Moderates and fundamentalists want to use the Christian cross to convey very different meanings, and each group thinks the others are not real Christians:
God is angry and vengeful, the cross is a battle flag, woe to the non-believer.

God is loving and tolerant, the cross is about acceptance, we adapt to changing times. 
Here is the thing about brands, which corporations know and fear – You don’t get to tell people what your brand means. They figure it out on their own, based on what they read and what they know about history and actions. If you fly your Confederate flag based on feel-good nostalgia, I am going to look at you and see a racist. If you wear your cross necklace based on warm-fuzzy feelings about love and forgiveness, I’m going to see you and get all jittery about right-wing extremists preaching intolerance and unconcerned with issues of social justice.

An important part of becoming a better society is coming to an understanding that some of the things that divide us are due to our tying our own self-identities to logos that don’t actually mean to others what we intend them to mean. Our ties to these brands weren’t consciously made based on our logical analysis of what this symbol stood for, comparing it to all other available symbolism, and choosing a banner that best suited our adult selves. You were most likely born into the symbols and raised to think everything that you love about yourself can be credited to the brand.
I’m a good Christian.

I’m a Southern Belle.

I’m a Southern Gentleman. 
Better would be:
I’m a good Person. I can read, think and understand exactly what a symbol stands for, and decide whether I actually do stand for what it really represents. 
The good news, as Bob Dylan would sing, is that the times, they are a changing. People are increasingly abandoning their associations with these symbols as a conscious decision to no longer lend their credibility to those who are “crazy”. Many are coming to understand this basic concept -- If others have a high likelihood of incorrectly interpreting my brand and thus developing a negative feeling about me, if I myself am appalled by what these “true believers” represent, then it is time for me to leave behind these brands to the ‘crazies’ and move forward. 

Minds once unthinkingly occupied by symbols are activating; people are waking up. They are dealing with the dissonance, and emerging intact. They still have their memories, their good behaviors, kindnesses and positive self images.  Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, they never needed their ruby slippers. They had the goodness inside of them all along.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Practical Advice on How to Deal With Spellcasters in Your Prayer Room

You know what can really put a damper on prayer room calls? Spellcasting witches and wizards and generic satanic sorts leaving their ghoulish spam mail all over the place, that's what. So learned Jennifer Leclaire, senior editor of Charisma.
Earlier this year, we started our Mornings With the Holy Spirit devotion and prayer calls at 6 a.m. One of my intercessors felt strongly there were unbelievers on the line one morning and some days there is clearly enemy resistance to our prayers. Of course, we always press through and God brings refreshing, inspiration and revelation despite what the devil has in mind.

On the call each morning, I encourage the listeners to leave a prayer request at Every day, we get a number of prayer requests for healing, reconciliation in marriages, financial breakthrough and more. Recently, though, the spell casters have invaded the site. Indeed, the prince of the power of the air has reared his ugly head at Thankfully, none of the requests go live since everything is monitored.
It seems that Jennifer is talking about spam comments on boards about (usually African) witch doctors. I know all about it because this blog gets them a lot.

I've gotten comments about doctors Aziza, Sambola, Shekiri, Adesuwa, Oga, Iyare, Ogidigan... etc... it goes on and on. I have gotten hundreds. They're all powerful spellcasters who will be able to solve any issue for you. I picked up a card from one in the Metro a couple of weeks ago as well.

Here's one of the shorter ones this blog received a couple of weeks ago.
Hey are you crying that your lover has left you and the kids for another woman, you don't have to cry anymore because i was in the same position till i heard about Dr. Ekpen of Ekpen Temple how he has help so many people in there are relationship, today i can boldly recommend Dr. Ekpen Of Ekpen Temple to someone for help. He did not fail me i also believe he can not fail you too contact him at ...
As expected, I only take these seriously by feeling mighty sorry for anyone being duped into believing these witch doctors are doing anything other than pilfering their money. While I'm not so sure about Leclaire and the folks over at Charisma. They really do seem to believe there is something more going on here than mere charlatanism.

Not necessarily a belief that these spells actually do something, but rather that they are a distraction from the true religion brought on by the devil.
Many others with fake names rave about this "powerful spell caster." But it seems there's some competition in the witchcraft camp because others who try to work their way onto the site are praising Dr. Benedict as the ultimate spell caster, who successfully casts love spells. Still others point to a man named Ezzia, the "very good love spell caster" and Dr. Ekaka. Oh, and let's not forget about Dr. Aisabu. All of these witches are trying to advertise their services at and the volume has increased over the last few weeks. Again, none of these ever make it on to the site because we moderate the comments. But the devil sure is persistent.
Although, Leclair has written recently about a revival and uptick of witchcraft -- a practice which can apparently lead to infirmities and hellfire.
As you may know, I've written a book dealing with spiritual witchcraft called Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Witchcraft and Religion. Many times, infirmities are rooted in the devil's witchcraft—and sometimes it comes from the spirit of Jezebel. The Bible talks about Jezebel and her witchcrafts (2 Kin. 9:22). Witchcraft can't heal you, but it can release confusion, sickness and disease, depression and other ailments. At our recent women's conference, Jesus healed 23 ladies—and several of them were afflicted with witchcraft.
I nearly forgot the practical advice. If you have spell casters in your prayer room or church or city or whatever, you're supposed to drive them out. 

What's most amusing here, I guess, are the two sole comments to her post about these charlatan sorcerer spammers:

That's right. Two spams about "Dr ovia" who will use magic spells to solve all your problems.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

There's a Hula Girl on My Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind & Embraced Life

Portion of book cover. (source)
Earlier this month, I put up a guest post by author logospilgrim, Trapped No Longer: I Left Religion, Found Beauty in This Life & the Courage to Embrace it As Myself

There, her words spoke of mental shackles and bonds which blocked her self discovery and undermined her mission to find peace and meaning in this world. They are one picture from a thick album which recounts the long voyage of discovery she traveled from fundamentalist Christianity, to Orthodox Christianity and finally towards Secular Humanism. It wasn't easy --all the while, she was discovering her own identity as an androgyne, bi-romantic asexual person. She was questing for a home within religions hostile to anything which lay to either side of their dogma blinders.

You can find the whole album, the entire story -- or at least all which has been put down into ink and parchment -- within her beautifully written mini odyssey, There’s a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life. I recommend it. It's simple and honest. It's humble and empowering.

From Amazon:
"I didn't need to be redeemed from any unacceptable state. I didn't suffer from any metaphysical disease. I was a living, mortal, fragile, complex sentient being, and that was fine. I could make my own decisions. I could think for myself. I had my own voice." In There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life, writer, lecturer, and maverick Logospilgrim candidly shares the remarkable and passionate journey that took her from religious belief to secular humanism.
I also found a single typo in the entire document, which is astonishingly good for a self-published manuscript. Believe me, I've read a number of self published books lately and this is truly refreshing.

Rather than dwell on the quality of the work itself, I thought I'd share a few passages with you from the book which stuck out for me, personally.
Then, confronted by my persistent defiance of miraculous prayer and by my failure to serve up an inspiring, praise-the-Lord metamorphosis, the pastor and his wife told me the following words: “We’re not sure you’re saved.”

We were in the kitchen. I heard the words and felt my heart sink into the ground. I felt... How can I describe the despair that went through me like a barbed lance?

“We think you’re going to hell.” That’s what I was told.

“There’s no hope for you.”

And it’s not that I didn’t try... I tried. I tried and I tried. I wanted to make Jesus happy; I believed in love. But I could never measure up. I was a disappointment. Between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, I think I must have cried in every dark corner I could find in that cafeteria-like Baptist church, with its plain walls and wooden chairs and many Bibles.

I remember holding on to mine. I remember underlining passages, running my fingers across the precious, thin white pages.

But my pain was like rust, causing bits of me to flake away and cave in and fall off. I wasn’t a good Christian like all the other young people. I often felt afraid of them. My self-hatred and my anger increased. Which made me even less acceptable. I could sense the pastor’s disapproval. I could see the way he’d look at me.

I didn’t want to stay in his house anymore.

They had a baby while I was there. I remember one time, the pastor’s wife was babysitting someone else’s infant, I forget whose. It was small, a fragile-looking thing, unlike their larger child, and it would weep and weep unless it was being held. She let it cry, and then at one point she picked it up, saying she would give it “a little break,” but she was clearly unimpressed. And she said that this baby
was “selfish.” It wasn’t being raised correctly. That’s why it was small.

I never forgot that.

I once asked the pastor what he’d do if their child had problems like me when it was older. He said that he was sure their child would be “a blessing from God.”

Well, I was probably not saved, and all that. What candyou do.

I had to leave. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

What if it was okay, just being a Homo sapiens?

The more I thought about it, the freer and more at peace I felt. The “dreadful consequences” of living without the divine force were dropping from my consciousness like the insubstantial threats, manipulative tactics, and rampant ignorance they’d always been.

The relationship I’d had with Christianity and its deities was now looking like an abusive marriage. As long as I submitted to them, I was “okay.” They would care for me, love me, protect me; all I had to do was accept everything I was told, only have the few friends they approved of, not think about anything they didn’t want me to, not question their authority, be completely dependent on them, obey all their rules, look the way they wanted me to, cower before them, and be pleasing to them.

This was bullshit. I didn’t need that so-called love. I was a living, mortal, fragile, complex sentient being, and that was fine. I could make my own decisions. I could think for myself. I had my own voice.
There are many more rather kickass quotes in the book. I really enjoyed it and parts of it resonated with me and would likely resonate with others going through the tough voyage of de-conversion.

You can get it in pretty much any E-reader format worth its salt. You can also get good old paper as well. Visit logospilgrim's bookstore  for more information!

Friday, 12 June 2015

"Does God Exist?" - Response The Final

Awhile back, I was challenged to a blogging debate by a Christian blogger, Anthony Freeland, who writes over at Truth Interrupted (which is not anything like Girl Interrupted). This last response will conclude the debate and then we'll all have a vote to see who won -- no wait, it seems like no Christians showed up on any of the comments threads, so maybe a vote wouldn't be nice.

Theist: Debate – “Does God Exist?” Opening statements for theism

Atheist: "Does God Exist?" - Response One

Theist: Debate: Does God Exist? Response 1 For Theism

And now without further ado, my response, which will more or less address the convenient points Tony laid out in his response.

Sean’s First Problem

I've got problems, but this one isn't one at all.

My alleged issue has to do with the burden of proof. Tony is arguing that a god exists and so, naturally, it is up to him to offer evidence for this. I may then ask for clarification, advance inconsistencies or question how conclusions are reached. It's highly likely this is not how things work in debates, though -- which is sad.
I have made a claim, so I have no problem with that. The problem is that he seems to think that he has no responsibility in this regard. It’s true that I initiated this debate but once he accepted and we got under way that became irrelevant. The proposition is in the form of a question: “Does God Exist?” The proposition therefore places an equal burden of proof on both parties. Let me explain why this is important.
Why, precisely, is there an equal burden of proof on both sides? Is this the case for any other question? Must I prove the non-existence of unicorns or space aliens? Nonetheless, this God fellow seems special, so we could have a separate conversation about evidence for his non existence.
I have given two arguments for the existence of God. There are more, plenty more. If Sean were to tear down both of my arguments, does that mean that it’s more reasonable to believe that God does not exist? Of course not.
Yes, there are apparently many. Must I then sit and tear down every argument for the existence of a god ever to have been proposed before we can conclude there is insufficient evidence to believe in a god? Is there any other assertion like this? Must I go through every Illuminati or space alien conspiracy ever posited before being justified in my non-belief?

There really do seem to be a lot of arguments for the existence of a god. I wonder why so many seem to be necessary.
If he wants to make a case for atheism, which is necessary if we should deny that God exists, then he would have to not only tear down my arguments but also erect a case for thinking that atheism is more plausible than theism.
I need not make a case for atheism. It is the duty of the theist to make their case and if it is sound and convincing -- backed up by some evidence -- then the atheist will be convinced. It is like this for any assertion.

Sean’s Second Problem

The term begins to exist sounds a little odd. It's probably because while attempting to prove a God, the theist will often posit that all things have a cause. To which the atheist will often ask, what caused God?

To get around this, some theists seem to have separated all things into two classes; those which began to exist and those that have never began to exist. Something which never began to exist? It seems as if there is only one thing which the theist believes has never began to exist -- the prime mover ('pssst:  God'). It's a very convenient piece of begging the question.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

We don't know if everything either began to exist or was caused. This is certainly true with tables and chairs and planets and stars -- as far as we know...

2. The Universe began to exist.

... but we just don't know for sure about the universe -- by which Tony seems to mean everything. Apparently, quantum physics and cosmology has a rather wide variety of views on this, although I am not an expert. Although our universe does seem to have begun at one time, it's unclear what precisely started it into motion.

3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

Probably so. Even if it was a quantum fluctuation of something which was already there. I simply fail to see how this point to a god or the Christian god. If anything it points to something causing other things. Perhaps there was some initial cause, maybe it was another universe, maybe an infinite number of universes -- we don't know.

“We Don’t Know”

Philosophy is admiral. I've read some Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle -- upon which Christianity seems to be based to a great deal. It can be very poetic and nice, but the universe has demonstrated to us over and over again that it does not fit nicely into our philosophical plans.

Mr Craig and the other theologians are perfectly welcome to examine the evidence and come to the conclusion that it backs up their theology. Until the scientific consensus agrees, I'll stick with I don't know.

The Rebuttals

This has already gone on for awhile and I, unfortunately, am very pressed for time. I'll try to get some responses out in rapid fire, but welcome further discussion.

I. Could Tony please explain how something which is immaterial and non-physical be intelligent and have agency?

II. We know about integers. These are numbers which are, in themselves, finite but which extend out infinitely. Floating point (decimal) numbers are similar --- they are infinitely divisible. Fractals go on forever (as far as we know). I believe it is much more plausible to believe in an infinite collection of finite events than a single starter event which doesn't follow any of the rules of which we're aware.

Tony is attempting to answer a great mystery with an even bigger mystery. He's asking us to believe in something which is immaterial and intelligent, outside of time which has apparently done something before our time existed... forever, I guess. It tells us nothing at all.

Furthermore, if space can be infinite at least within our perceptible dimensions when why not space-time? I guess we just don't know.

III. As to power, I was being sincere. By what mechanism does this immaterial god affect change in our world. Is it magick?

IV. I would be interested to know what the attributes are, then, of this god and how we may test them. If Tony could enumerate them, it would be fantastic.
V. It is a very interesting article that he referenced but is irrelevant. Just because the Irish were wrong, it does not follow that nothing in the world, nothing in the Universe, or the Universe itself could possibly be designed. This is call the Composition Fallacy. That is, that what is true of a part must then be true of the whole itself.
Sort of reminds me of stating that everything which begin to exist had a cause and that the entire universe must behave in the precise same way.

VI. Finally:
Claiming agnosticism in a debate doesn’t work. Stating that “we don’t know” in a debate in which you are trying to show that one position is more plausible than another is nothing less than conceding, because if we don’t know that it’s true, then if follows necessarily that we don’t know that it’s not true.
I wasn't trying to show the atheist position is more plausible than the theist position because a-theism is a lack of a theistic belief. We don't know is shorthand for saying that there is simply insufficient evidence for a premise to be credible. There is insufficient evidence for a god and so, atheism is the more reasonable stance.

If I were trying to prove another god -- say the Allah of the Muslims -- this would be a different debate entirely.

VII. As for the Moral Argument, I would be happy to discuss it in future. It's just that by the time I get to this portion of the debate, I've already written too much.

Here's what I would like to challenge Tony to. I would like to have a discussion with him about any single point of contention in this debate. We could drill down into it.

I would be open to doing this over Skype or Google Hangouts for a set amount of time -- say no more than 60 minutes per topic.

I think that could be very interesting.

PS: I apologize that I wasn't able to go further into this. Truly, Tony has done an amazing job of exploring every point and I'm simply unable to respond to everything. I have been stuck looking after my five year old son and it's been rather difficult to concentrate. During discussion, I promise to go much deeper into any of the many topics.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Trapped No Longer: I Left Religion, Found Beauty in This Life & the Courage to Embrace it As Myself

This is a guest post by logospilgrim, who recently published the beautifully written book There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life. I'll be doing a review of the book hopefully in the next couple of months.

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 22:5
“You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.” ~ Leviticus 19:19
Ever since childhood, I’ve lacked the ability to squeeze myself into nice, neat, clearly delineated categories. To make myself fit in tidy little boxes. Sooner or later, I rebel, I fight against this unnatural confinement. It’s in great part due to this, I believe, that I’ve never been able to remain in any mainstream religion.

They tell you that it’ll be better in the box; outside the box, it’s dangerous. It’s harmful. It’s sinful. It’s dirty. That’s a message I heard when I was still small and vulnerable to falsehoods disguised as supreme wisdom. It’s a message that’s hard to erase. It’s etched into you.

Outside the box, you won’t be okay. The fact that you’re thinking of getting out of the box means you’re ill or lost—or worse. Of  course you’re tempted by what’s outside: you’re essentially wicked, or at the very least unable to make the best kind of decisions on your own, because you’re not entirely in your right mind. Curiosity is bad. It’ll get you into trouble. Read Genesis again.

Now, the more loving authorities will say that their god loves you even if you decide to leave the box. But the truth is that he doesn’t love you as much as he does if you stay inside, like a good boy or girl.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” ~ 1 John 2:1
That’s the type of message I was exposed to, again and again: an infantilizing message that causes you to question everything you do, every thought you have. Can you really trust yourself? No. You’re too proud, or flawed, or blind, or whatever else. Being human is never good enough. You have to listen to Jesus, to the priest, to the elder, to the teacher, to the guru, to the master. You have to be obedient, and surrender yourself. You’re helpless without the one who knows better than you do.

You have to be guided by perfect rules and commandments. And you have to have the correct understanding of these rules and commandments. There are wolves and demons everywhere, eager to deceive you and lead you astray, both outside the box and inside your ailing self. Do you see now why you need strict guidelines, and overseers, and gates all around you?

No garment of mixed linen and wool must come upon you. Sheep to the right, goats to the left.

I’m genderqueer. I’m coloring outside the lines. I like to mix things up. This has been a “problem” for me for a long time. I feel happier, more comfortable, more at home in my skin when I wear masculine clothing, when I cut my hair. I’m not statuesque and look like a delicate, feminine man—what could be more blasphemous? I can’t look like someone who might have a Holy Penis when I don’t have one, right? I should know my rightful place. I can’t cross the line.

But I cross the line. Every time I do, I can see that it’s an arbitrary, imaginary line at that, just as imaginary as the religious fictions I once believed were true.

I can see why there are so many bizarre-sounding prohibitions in “sacred” texts. Once you start questioning what you’re told, there’s a fine line indeed between slavery and freedom; but if you’re fine with being forbidden not to mix linen and wool, whatever the fuck that even means, there’s not much you’ll question.

When I was still a Christian, I embraced a very mystical way of understanding the texts, one that left nobody outside of divine love—not even the devil. Everything would eventually be restored by love, everyone would find their way back to the waiting, open arms of love. My experience was that this radically inclusive way of looking at the world has two consequences. First, you reject the box—you need to go outside the box to love everyone—and then, the box simply disappears. You realize that there was never any need for it. It only existed because you were willing to live in it and let it enclose you.

Slowly but surely, you see that the world is what it is. Messy, sure, but also beautiful. Stupendous.

The dire warnings of preachers fade away, the old books crumble to dust.

There’s nothing to be afraid of. Me, my ties, my growing collection of tattoos, my thirst for knowledge, the people I love, the world I'm in, we’re all completely fine. There’s always room for growth, but that’s not the same as saying there’s something inherently wrong with me and everything else, that we’re afflicted by an existential mark or spiritual disease. No pure system will make our troubles and pain disappear; no amount of religious winnowing will create some sort of enchanted world where humanity is safe from disaster and questions and death.

Death isn’t the proof that we’re somehow cursed; it’s just something that happens because we’re physical and mortal. That’s all.

When the box, the “refuge” I’d lived began to waver like a mirage, one of the first things I did was start wearing men’s clothes, and it felt wonderful. More and more, I reintegrated, in a manner of speaking, the material nature of what I am. I saw that being material isn’t inferior to being a “spirit.” I learned, finally, about evolution, which made so more sense than any of the woo and fairy tales I’d been taught, and I realized that my brain is a fantastic illusionist. It’s vital to be knowledgeable about the nature of things, otherwise we’ll be fooled not only by every peddler of hogwash out there, but by our own brain, because of the way it works.

I’m so glad I crossed the line. I’m so glad I spiced up my life and sowed mixed seeds in my field. That’s when a multitude of flowers came out of the ground, all different and colorful and wild. The universe is more wondrous to me now than it ever was, and no eternal perfection could make my human moment in our universe more joyful and precious than it already is, exactly like this, with its ups and downs, its tears and laughter, its beginning and end.

Logospilgrim ( is a writer, renegade, and cosmic love vagabond, a secular humanist and gonzo maverick. You can find her books on her website,, and Amazon. She recently published There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life

"In There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life, writer, lecturer, and maverick Logospilgrim candidly shares the remarkable and passionate journey that took her from religious belief to secular humanism."

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Duggars, Web 'Porn Filtering' Software, And This Blog's Filtered Too!

A couple of years ago, I did a post on Covenant Eyes which is an online content filtering company popular with some Christians. They collect all your browsing history, including all the naughty sites and send a report off to the client's accountability partner -- usually this means a history of hubby's porn watching is sent off to his wife's email for inspection.
Covenant Eyes is perfect for the college/highschool student. Web filtering software poses difficult problems when you need to do research, because many of your searches get blocked. I have used covenant eyes for over a year and LOVE it because I can do my research for school, and there are no restrictions. Instead, covenant eyes simply sends a detailed report of every website I look at to my wife's email each week. She can see where I've been and what I've been doing. It adds a huge level of accountablility to my life in a non-restrictive way. I highly recomend covenant eyes.
Recently, the company sent out a survey to its newsletter subscribers -- I'm totally on it! -- asking for feedback on an upcoming e-book geared at helping singles stay away from online porn.
Good news—our brand new guide for singles is almost done! Written by a self-described perpetual single, this e-book will cover everything we can think of, from why even singles need to quit porn to how to deal with loneliness and bitterness, and ultimately lead a happy, fulfilled life.

Before we wrap it up, though, we want to make sure we’re not missing anything big. So do us a favor, and let us know: What’s the one question this new book needs to answer to be worthwhile?
My mom taught me that if you don't have anything nice or productive to say, you had better just not say anything. I seldom listen to this advice, but in this case I did. It all seemed pretty tragic.

Tragic? Maybe ironic like these two interviews with the Duggar family on their website about how they protect their kids from the dangers of explicit material on the Internet -- presumably using tools like Covenant Eyes! How'd that work out for them? I know, I know, Josh probably predates this software, but not their approach.

Why not give them a listen?

Interview 1Raising Kids in a Sexualized Culture: Interview with the Duggars

Interview 2Teaching Kids to Walk in Wisdom: Interview with the Duggars (Part 2)

Therein you'll learn that the Duggars never watch television, but they'll occasionally plug in a video projector to watch an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) -- Game of Thrones or House of Cards is right out. Still, even that show from the 1960s has some pretty sketch material.

Jim Bob explains:
Even with the Andy Griffith Show. It's a very wholesome show, but the problem is, they create situations where there are.. you know... situations that happen that some crisis comes up and they leave God out of the equation. They don't pray to God asking his help. Usually they solve the problem with deceit or manipulation and so it's really teaching how to live your life without God.
I guess Homer's Iliad is also pretty bad. Well, good thing sketchy situations don't happen in the Bible, right?

There are other nuggets too. I'm listening to them now and might share later!

This is all interesting, but why do I bring this up now? It's because due to a strange coincidence, I happened to notice a referring link coming into my blog from, which is Covenant Eyes and the URL contained the words blocked and allowed. I clicked on the link and it brought me to this!

The message:
You will be forwarded to the page you have overridden shortly. Thank you for your patience.
My site is on their filtered list! Although it's possible someone over there manually put me into their black list, it's also very possible that a heuristic algorithm just picked it up due to certain keywords in the pages.

Still, because this person clicked on the override, my site has appeared on someone's accountability list! It's an honor!

Incidentally, they were trying to get to this page on anti-abortion groups distributing vile graphic imagery of mangled fetuses door to door in Ontario.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

"Does God Exist?" - The Theist Responds

Alice in Wonderland, 1966. (source)
Not long ago, I accepted a challenge to an online blog debate on the topic Does God Exist? Anthony Freeland is my Christian apologist opponent and he's made his opening statements already. We were then both thrilled by the amazing response by our readers; almost ten comments on my post and over twenty over at his opening statement. (I think Tony got more action because only people who disagreed with his Christian position showed up and he engaged them -- other theists have yet to materialize.)

Perhaps theists will be on their way here now that I released my opening statement -- really a response to Tony's theistic assertions. I did this yesterday. Where are you, theists?

Well, to my surprise, Tony has already put in a lengthy response to my response over at his blog this afternoon. I have yet to read it in its entirety and digest it, but I can guarantee you that even the very first paragraph is immensely confusing and problematic.

So go take a look at it and please consider responding to his response! I'll try to get a formal response up within the next fortnight -- Tony says I can take my time!

We're already considering turning this into some sort of recurring discussion format. We could take a single question or item from the debate and try to expand on it and have some decent back and forth. Debates are lousy at drilling down single points. Discussions are ideal. Just ask Socrates if he weren't dead or perhaps even fictional.

I'll admit that I really do not do this debate thing very well. I think I must have some sort of anti-authoritarian streak in me that rebels instantly against the rigid structure of a debate. I tried to control it myself but it refuses to be told what to do. Perhaps this is behind the Alice in Wonderland metaphor I've been running with lately. Not only does she fall into a bizarre and incomprehensible land -- as is religion to many unchurched or long deconverted -- but it's also an escape from the rigidity of Lewis Caroll's Victorian times.

Wow, we had better get out of this rabbit hole only to fall into another, right?  Go check out his post, okay?

You can follow the debate on by clicking on the 'debate' label.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Finally a Book to Teach Your Kids Christian Mythology as Mythology

The book cover features the Hebrew myth of Lucifer being thrown out of heaven. (source)
Near the very beginning of my blog, back in 2012, I wrote about teaching religious mythology to son. Even though he was only two at the time, I was already thinking about what kinds of resources were out there and how I should expose him to often violent or misogynistic texts. I started with the story of Noah, then the Battle of Jericho and then the whole twisted idea of Easter.

Since then, I've been keeping a keen outlook for books about Christianity that aren't merely watered down Children's Bibles with the goal of spoonfed indoctrination. That's why I'm happy to see a Kickstarted campaign for Christian Mythology For Kids -- A Secular Family's Guide To Modern Christianity by freethinking mom Christine Trooien.

Watch this introduction video.

From their Kickstarter page:
Today, more than ever before, parents are raising their children free from religion. We have very few secular tools to teach our children about the Christian religions that still surrounds us. Secular children encounter bible stories from their peers, through pop culture, and from well intentioned relatives. Oftentimes the message that is delivered along with these stories is one of fear, promises or simply trying to convince young minds that these stories are somehow historical.

We wanted to introduce our children to christianity in a way that doesn't threaten them or coax them into thinking these stories are real. Children's books about Greek and Roman Mythology are wonderful, exciting stories that inform and entertain. Christian Mythology for Kids follows this format, but with a religion that some people still view as true. 
I've got a degree in Classics, and so I've studied the Greek and Roman mythologies. I've also read some Hittite and Sumerian myths as well. There are plenty of great children's anthologies of these myths out there and they do a good job of inoculating children from actually taking them seriously -- while teaching them valuable moral lessons (Aesop) or to never give up (Odyssey, Argonautica, Gilgamesh). 

A perfect analogy to this book would be a collection of Hindu mythology -- much of which would still be believed by millions of Hindus.
Exploring and discussing common Christian myths in a safe environment gives children an unbiased understanding before they encounter it in their daily lives. Christian Mythology for Kids also answers questions that children may have after hearing what their friends or relatives have to say. This book tells the story of each myth, followed by a brief logical or scientific explanation as to why it is mythology
At first I thought that this last part would surely be overkill. Why not just keep it to the story and let the child process it like any other myth? Then my wife reminded me that here in Montreal, we don't have people trying to cram it down our throats as being the slightest bit historical. I might run into the occasional it's a nice myth sort of Christian here in godless Montreal.

Based on the Kickstarter, Christine is located in Arizona -- quite different than secular Quebec! In places like Arizona, much of the United State south and much of Canada books like this would be absolutely necessary to provide children with the sorts of rebuttals necessary against even their school peers.

It would be different if there weren't people at every level of society pushing these fairy stories as fact!

Did I mention it also looks pretty entertaining for us grownups too?  Check it out!

Also go ahead and Like their Facebook page.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Supreme Court Ruling on Prayer: Some Interesting Effects

Here are a few interesting reactions to the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision on Wednesday to end prayer in Saguenay Quebec -- which has already had a national effect.

Veronica Abbass has written about the mayor of Cape Breton, who is kvetching about the ruling and vowing to pray in the hallway. Well, good for him.

Hemant Mehta has done some coverage of the mayor of Oshawa, who is threatening to have the prayer before the official part of the meeting within the chambers, which is, of course, a ridiculous and transparent ruse.

Larry Moran has reported that Mississauga is finally going to remove prayer from their city council meetings. Well, she'll obey the law, which I guess means removing the prayer. I wrote about this city in the past. Citizen Derek Gray even appeared before the city council meeting and a crowd of loud churchgoers to try to remove the prayer. That didn't work, but this situation seems impossible for them to weasel out of.

Born again Christian councilman of Halifax, Matt Whitman*, cannot seem to understand why an atheist would have any problem with prayer during city council meetings.
We have to live in a more tolerant world where if someone says 'God,' even if you don't believe in God, or if someone mentions a particular race or political statement, that you can't get so upset about it. This is supposed to be a world of tolerance.
Yes, atheists must tolerate Christians getting all spiritually fulfilled all over the chamber before actual business is done. Christians, on the other hand, should not have to tolerate atheists complaining that state endorsed God worship is alienating, marginalizing and intimidating.
"I like our prayer the way it is and I can feel connected to my God through our prayer. If someone else doesn't believe in God, they don't have to because of the prayer," Whitman said.
Just shut up and sit down and let Matt set the mood for the rest of the meeting by feeling connected with his God.

*Note: Originally I had Whitman down as the mayor of Halifax. Reader Veronica Abbass pointed out to me that the mayor is actually Mike Savage. He's fine with revisiting the prayer question. I guess that's what I get when I blog in the middle of the night.
In light of the Supreme Court ruling, Mayor Mike Savage says it’s a perfect opportunity to take a critical look at the invocation.

“For a long time we were a predominately Christian community. I think people felt it made sense to have the mention of God,” he said Thursday. “We are becoming more diverse, more multicultural.”

For Savage, prayer is a part of life, but he insists that his “beliefs shouldn’t be imposed upon anybody else.”
So, my apologies to the mayor and thank you to Veronica!

Meanwhile, in Quebec, on the day of the judgement, Catholic Bishop of Chicoutimi André Rivest was upset -- because, I think, his religion just lost a privileged position. The article plays back some soundbites. Here they are along with my typically subpar translations.
«Je suis très déçu du dénouement de cette saga. Avec ce jugement, on balaie tous les aspects religieux, et ce, sans nuances».
«Le combat du maire, c'est le combat d'une grande partie de notre population. Bon nombre d'entre nous sont chrétiens et dorénavant, nos croyances ne seront plus respectées».
«On a des droits individuels, mais aussi, des droits collectifs. C'est désolant de constater que l'on ne tient pas compte des droits collectifs dans un débat comme celui-là. »
«Le Mouvement laïque québécois milite, depuis des années, pour faire disparaître la religion de notre société. Ce combat a été conçu pour faire piquer du nez le maire. Pour que, en tant que personnalité publique, ce dernier perde la face devant les citoyens»
I am very disappointed of the conclusion of this saga. With this judgement, we are sweeping away all religious aspects, and this, without nuance.
The mayor's struggle, this is the struggle of a large portion of our population. A good number among us are Christian and from this point on, our beliefs will no longer be respected.
We have individual rights, but also collective rights. It's disappointing to admit that we are not taking account of collective rights in a debate like this.
The Quebec Secular Movement, has been militant for years, to make religion disappear from our society. This battle was conceived to bite the nose of the mayor. So that, as a public personality, this one loses face before the citizens.
Is this some sort of projection? A religion's beliefs need not be a dominant force in the province to be respected. What sort of respect does he then think Muslim and Jewish beliefs get in the province? Or do they not deserve respect?

As for collective rights. This is code for Catholic or Christian rights... or corporations... or an idea or something.

Well, it seems like the majority of Canadians aren't particularly keen on prayer in city halls. An online poll over at The Whig puts agreement with the ruling at 56% versus 31% against. A significant 13% were undecided. In other words, it seems like only a certain breed of activist Christian within government really cares.

Although the Quebec National Assembly dropped prayer way back in 1976, they still have that damned crucifix in the chamber and they're still refusing to take it down. This has been an ongoing thorn in the side of their Secular Charter efforts and the subject of at least one online petition and FEMEN protest. Really, if there's any hope of not looking like a pack of hypocrites, they need to move the thing to a museum.
“The (court) judgment did not mention the crucifix in the National Assembly so it’s important to mention that,” Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée told reporters after noting MNAs have voted twice, in the recent past, to leave it there as a heritage and artistic artifact.
Right, whatever. Prayer in the Assembly was an artistic artifact and that got tossed.

Surely in Quebec we can come up with something suitably artistic to hang up where the crucifix once was.

Hell, even this would be more meaningful.

Thanks to Stephanie for some portions.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Even Michael Coren Doesn't Think James Lunney Is Being Persecuted

Do you remember James Lunney? He's the Conservative MP that left his party and became an independent in Parliament so he could devote the rest of his time in office protecting his Christian faith (read: anti-(macro)evolution beliefs (read: creationism)). He's been increasingly against militant atheists lately.

Hey, remember Michael Coren? He was sort of like a Bill O'Reilly-lite that had his own show on the now defunct Sun News Channel (Canada's Fox News). He's written against those pesky militant atheists too!

Well now even Coren has essentially told Lunney to stop whining about being persecuted for his anti-evolution creationist beliefs.
As for "militant atheists", of course there are atheists out there and some of them are trying to influence the body politic. As someone who is a fairly prominent Christian, I have been debating with such people for years now. We all have the right to try to influence the culture but none of us has a right to assume we can dictate the result. And on a personal note, every time a Christian defies scientific truth it makes Christian apologetics all the more difficult.

Sorry, Mr. Lunney but your cries of persecution just don't stand up to scrutiny. It seems there may be some, well, evolving to do around this issue.
Wow, I agree with Michael Coren. Amazing. I suppose a stopped clock is really right a couple of times a day.

Monday, 13 April 2015

James Lunney Blasts 'Militant Atheist Evolutionism' in National Post Piece

Today's Monday and I have a migraine. So, I'm just going to offer you some extracts from James Lunney's dramatic piece in the National Post today: Christianity under siege (!!!!!). If you need to know more context about Lunney, read about it on my blog! He started out being anti-(macro)evolution, but now he's become a social conservative Christian warrior against MILITANT ATHEIST EVOLUTIONISM! Oh yes, he's turned up the rhetoric against militant atheists lately.
Bigotry and intolerance are the trademark of militant atheism and its adherents’ campaign against God. Conrad Black exposed as much in his eloquently written and defended articles recently. As a multi-racial, multicultural, multi-faith society, Canada has been known to a world in conflict as a standard for respect for diversity and inclusion. However, a religious defence of science seems to be the vehicle for the most vitriolic, pejorative, vulgar campaigns of intolerance and ad hominem attacks in Canada today.
Lunney is here referring to two flamboyantly written pieces also in the National Post. I write about them here and here.

My head hurts though, so back to Lunney. Here, he colourfully compares militant atheism to militant Islam.
These public shaming assaults are not in keeping with the nature of scientific inquiry or the character of an otherwise extraordinarily tolerant nation. They are the hallmark of scientism and evolutionism bearing all the hallmarks of religion, but unrestrained by any modicum of respect for anyone who contradicts the tenets of the faith. In this regard militant atheism is more akin to militant Islam than any of Canada’s multi-faith communities.
Only with regards to just this one thing, of course!
The notion that belief in God is incompatible with pursuit of science is a falsehood clung to by a dwindling cadre of atheists in the science community today. It began with Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, a brilliant scientist in his own right; and the father of eugenics. While Gregor Mendel, was laying the foundation for modern genetics, Galton was promoting the concept that belief in God was an impediment to the advance of science.
We all know who was big on eugenics? Lunney mentioned it before on an interview. I won't say who -- but why not guess? I'll give you a hint: Godwin's Law. With regards to just this one thing, of course!
Evolutionism is based on a false construct from another century; it is as repugnant as any other form of bigotry. If this campaign for a godless Canada were successful, the Canada that would emerge is one that few Canadians would recognize and most would not want to live in. The “shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist”; it couldn’t be better stated.
I just don't understand how Lunney could believe that he's the guy who really understands evolution -- in opposition to the vast majority of scientists out there. Science isn't a religion or a philosophy or some sort of political statement -- it's the result of centuries of investigation and examining the data.

Lunney's ability to believe that he's got the truth vs the vast majority of the scientific community reminds me of something Tara Hill, ex-anti-vaxxer from Ottawa said on her blog.
I just didn’t trust civic government, the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and people in general.  By default, I had excluded all research available from any major, reputable organization.  Could all the in-house, independent, peer-reviewed clinical trials, research papers and studies across the globe ALL be flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy?
Could they?

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Live Taping: Conrad Black & Christopher DiCarlo Talk About 'Decline of Christianity'

Last week, Canadian Atheist announced that Christopher DiCarlo would be appearing on a television program over at Vision TV co-hosted by Conrad Black! If you're in Toronto, you can be in the studio audience -- all whilst living in your shabbyshallow militant atheist world!

It's on Wednesday, April 15th. You can find space-time coordinates for the taping over at Canadian Atheist or at the program's website.

Dr. DiCarlo has some serious creds and I'm thrilled to see he'll be representing the Centre for Inquiry:
Dr. Christopher DiCarlo is a fellow, advisor, and board member of the Society of Ontario Free Thinkers and the Centre for Inquiry Canada. He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences and written many scholarly papers ranging from bioethics to cognitive evolution. His book entitled How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Asking the Right Questions was released world-wide by Prometheus Books in July 2011.
I first heard him interviewed on the David Pakman Show and I'd go just to hear him -- but you'll get to hear Conrad Black, defender of tired old proofs for God and spinner of fifty dollar words, talking about The Decline of Christianity! This ought to warm every shallow atheist's heart!
THE DECLINE OF CHRISTIANITY? Hosts Conrad Black and Faith Goldy explore the fate of Christianity in the wake of diminishing congregations and persecution in the Middle East.
Okay, I'm not a supporter of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. That's a legitimate problem -- unlike the fake persecution Christians are getting here in Canada.

So, I've been holding back on the name of the show until now. It's called The Zoomer. Unaware of what a zoomer was I checked out the definition for zoomers over at Urban Dictionary. Here are some of the many usages of the word. I left out some of the more obscene ones.
1 - zoomers (195↑: 36↓)A Slang term for Shrooms/Mushhrooms.

2 - zoomers (92↑: 15↓)word for magic mushrooms. -- last night i got all ripped on zoomers.

4 - zoomers (39↑: 45↓)In parts of southeast Michigan, Person who is tells tall tails and shows off..flashy person. Originally a person who drives around alot. -- Ever since he got his car hes become such a zoomer.

5 - zoomers (29↑: 38↓)A person who sells fake drugs and then takes off before being found out. -- Damn! that zoomer just sold me cat nip!
8 - zoomer (84↑: 96↓)A person who goes to Churchy and shags animals especially dogs up the butt. Zoomers are known to have a lot of money and shag eachother when there isnt a hairy animal in sight.

9 - zoomer (13↑: 27↓)Instance in which one accidentally inhales a small piece of Marijuana whilst smoking a cigarette of said substance.

10 - zoomer (15↑: 30↓)Similar in nature to a flaming hard core nerd, but spacier, and typically cross eyed.

12 - zoomer (6↑: 35↓)Exceedingly long pointed breasts.
Given his last two columns on atheists, I suppose it's plausible that one or more of the above could possibly apply to a program hosted by Conrad Black -- except for the really vile ones, of course -- but I'm more inclined to think that nobody under forty five actually knows what a zoomer is.

Wikipedia informs me it's a person born between 1946 and 1964 -- otherwise known as a baby boomer -- many of which probably took zoomers sometime in their far flung hippy pasts!

At any rate, it should be a very interesting conversation -- or potential showdown -- viewed with or without zoomers.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Oh Boy! The Left Behind Sequel Indigogo Promo Video Got Me Mad

Hemant Mehta proclaimed that my wish has been granted when he reported that producer Paul Lalonde is crowdsourcing for a sequel to the Left Behind reboot film which starred Nicholas Cage's facial expressions.

I believed him and was fully expecting to be greatly amused by the video on the project's Indigogo fundraiser page, until I watched it. Then I got angry. Not at Hemant -- how was he supposed to know? -- but at people who make these sorts of films.

Anyway, here's the video:

Check out "Left Behind 2" on Indiegogo and support it to help bring the next "Left Behind" movie to theaters!
Posted by Left Behind on Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Here's the opening lines with producer Paul Lalonde and his highly noticeable Canadian accent.
We don't know when it's going to happen. It could be next year. It could be next month. It could be today. But the world as we know it, is not going to last forever.

The countdown has started. We're living in the last days. But if the Rapture were to happen today, there are a lot of people who just aren't ready.

Some of them are strangers, but many are people in our lives, our families, our friends, people that we love. But whether they're half way around the world, or right across from us at the dinner table, the bottom line is, if they don't know the truth [standing in front of a Chic-fil-A], they're gonna be left behind.
A little later on:
There are a lot of people out there. People like you, people like me, that know that this is an important story and it's the story that needs to be told and it needs to be told in a big way, on the big screen, for the wold world to see.
Taken at face value, this film is hilarious because people have been waiting and dreaming of the Rapture for centuries and it just hasn't come.

It's just that... the world will as we know it well end. The message from the IPCC is dire. It's been getting worse and worse every time a new report is released.  The message is freaking clear, people.
Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally (high confidence). Mitigation involves some level of co-benefits and of risks due to adverse side effects, but these risks do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation efforts. 
We're seeing this at a local level everywhere. Hell, even insurance companies know it.

But we've got morons like Ted Cruz claiming that global warming is not happening -- using satellite data -- telling NASA to stop worrying about global warming and get out to space!

The corporate media is not spreading the message properly at all. Climate change is either ignored or seriously misrepresented with a lack of actual scientists and an over abundance of politically motivated talking head know nothings. Much like evolution, if climate change is covered, equal time is given to science deniers -- confusing the message.

Back to the video. It's the false victim complex that bothers the hell out of me. Listen, everyone's heard this story, thank you. You've had 2,000 years to tell it. All the praying and asking Jesus into your heart is not going to stop the warming of our planet and the increased violent weather. My insurance company assures me of this.

The tragic thing is, all you need to do is substitute the above Rapture-readiness message with Climate Change readiness and you would have possibly the most important message to spread humanity has ever known.

Where are movies like this? Not stupid disaster movies about fake ice ages, I mean real science based movies about what is predicted to occur over the next century or two on this planet.

The public doesn't respond to goddamn statistics and numbers and graphs -- who cares about those? Obviously no one but scientists.

We need personal stories just like the ones in the Left Behind movie franchise (but with better acting and screenplay). Stories about people whose city has run out of water and who have become refugees. Stories about victims of wars over natural resources -- lack of food, lack of clean water. Tales of people's homes being destroyed in Florida by unchecked hurricanes. Stories of flooding and increased diseases once only found in the Tropics. Pictures of huge algae blooms -- thousands of dead fish floating down the river for all to see.

Where is this? Why are we wasting our time and money on dreams which will get us nowhere unless we all really do want the end to come?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Rafe Mair's Defence of James Lunney's Creationism Misses the Mark

Rafe Mair has come out in defence of MP James Lunney's creationism and what a defence it is.

Namely, he's defending Lunney against Richard Littlemore's amusing piece, Social media smites creationist James Lunney, ex-Tory MP where Littlemore points out that the public has every right to point out politicians' silly beliefs when they see them -- for the sake of the common good!
When we lived in villages, everyone knew the fool. And when he said something silly, the people either pointed and laughed and or they turned away in embarrassed sympathy. In either case, they didn’t elect him chief.
By all accounts I've read, Mair is a brilliant lawyer with a great list of achievements. This defence is not one of them. Let's take a look at it.

After explaining that he is a lukewarm Christian (read: Anglican) and singing the praises of chiropractors as 'bona fide healers who the public vote for consistently with their wallets because they bring relief the medical profession cannot' -- something sort of like homeopaths and those scam artists in Florida, the Hippocrates Institute -- Mair got to the meat of his argument.
Dr. Lunney's main sin, evidently, is that he is a creationist and denies the theory of evolution as propounded by Charles Darwin. Evidently creationism is so way out a view as to be unacceptably unorthodox, not to mention embarrassing to the Prime Minister.
I shall have to send my time machine for Mair, as he's obviously stuck alongside Lunney and countless other creationists in the nineteenth century. It's possible, I supposed, he's missed the memorandum that Charles Darwin died in 1882. It may seem astounding to someone whose religion stands by the words of a man who died 2,000 years ago, but the science around evolution has changed since Darwin laid it out!

This betrays a gross misunderstanding of the science that only gets worse as the defence goes on. Scientists have not been sitting on their laurels since 1882. They've been testing, correcting and expanding the theory of evolution all along. Lunney is challenging the findings of multiple fields of biological science for over a century.

Mair redeems himself by getting the following right, though:
My religion believes in a man who could walk on water, who fed thousands with food sufficient only for scores and turned water into wine. He also raised the dead and ascended bodily into heaven upon his own death.

The senior Christian religion believes all that plus that when one takes communion, the bread and wine turn into the actual flesh and blood of Christ.

Mormons believe that the true beliefs were found by a guy named Joseph Smith, inscribed on golden tablets which he transcribed into a new "Bible", after which he somehow lost the gold tablets.

I could go on but only wish to make the point that there's not a religion in the world that I know of that doesn't strain normal credulity in its teachings.
Indeed. It's all completely ridiculous. So why on earth would you get your ideas about reality from it? Why in heavens name would you challenge the scientific method by substituting your favourite myth or fairy story?
Dealing with evolution I can't quarrel with what Darwin had to say. I'm no scientist and certainly it would appear from the physical evidence that he's right. However he doesn't go all the way and this is where I personally argue with evolution. 
Darn tootin! You're not a scientist and neither is Lunney and so why are we having this argument?

In fact, what is even meant by the above paragraph? If Mair admits he's not a scientist and that the physical evidence he sees confirms evolution, then why proceed?

It's because Mair takes issue with the completely unrelated problem of how life first began on our planet. He then has a problem with the very very completely unrelated problem of how the universe began!
The question I have is, where did the water and the amoebae come from? I go further than that. Science tells us that it all started with some matter the size of a golf ball exploding into the universe as we know it. Without dealing with just how remarkable that is, the question arises, where the hell did the golf ball and the necessary oxygen come from? 
Indeed. Where did the golf ball and the oxygen come from? If only the cosmologists had any sort of idea whatsoever, right? Then the biologists would know how the different species of animal came to be.

I mean, how are we supposed to know how golf balls even work until we know how they were made, who invented them, the inventor's birth place, parents, grandparents...

He then points out that if we all don't know for sure, then why is postulating an infinite being outside of time and space that knows everything and can do everything and is utterly beyond our comprehension or ability to explain any more silly? Why is a completely incomprehensible thing for which no one has any proof of more silly... than, say... trying to come up with actual plausible, testable solutions to the problem?

He goes on to point out that many religions -- which he's pointed out above make completely irrational claims -- reject evolution. I'll help him out with this graphic from Wikipedia.

This is completely predictable for belief systems based on dogma lifted from non-evidence based... well... fairy tales.  I'll then invite him to take a look at Project Steve on the same Wikipedia article:
The Discovery Institute announced that over 700 scientists had expressed support for intelligent design as of February 8, 2007. This prompted the National Center for Science Education to produce a "light-hearted" petition called "Project Steve" in support of evolution. Only scientists named "Steve" or some variation (such as Stephen, Stephanie, and Stefan) are eligible to sign the petition. It is intended to be a "tongue-in-cheek parody" of the lists of alleged "scientists" supposedly supporting creationist principles that creationist organizations produce. The petition demonstrates that there are more scientists who accept evolution with a name like "Steve" alone (over 1200) than there are in total who support intelligent design. This is, again, why the percentage of scientists who support evolution has been estimated by Brian Alters to be about 99.9 percent.
There are many scientific and scholarly organizations from around the world that have issued statements in support of the theory of evolution. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society with more than 130,000 members and over 262 affiliated societies and academies of science including over 10 million individuals, has made several statements and issued several press releases in support of evolution. The prestigious United States National Academy of Sciences, which provides science advice to the nation, has published several books supporting evolution and criticising creationism and intelligent design.
Oh, but it's still totally open for debate amongst believers of religions which assert the existence of flying chariots, arks containing every animal in the world, talking donkeys and snakes, etc. Science be damned, we still don't have buy in from those groups.
Since by any objective standards all religions are goofy, why is Dr. Lunney any goofier than the rest of us Christians, Muslims, Jews and so on?
Not at all. I would say his beliefs are right on par with the official doctrines of these religions. If he believes these things then he is just as deserving of the same sort of ridicule ardent believers of other silly things are.

Don't get me wrong though. I believe the vast majority of religious people in the 21st century, possess more sense than what their religion itself states. How could anyone function in the modern world if this weren't the case?
No, Dr. Lunney is right – this is a matter of freedom of belief and freedom of speech. That this embarrasses the Prime Minister and his resident toadies, or indeed Richard Littlemore, scarcely alters the basic right in a free society to hold one's own beliefs and express them without incivility and ostracism however unorthodox they are or how goofy they may seem to others, even to the vast majority. 
I'm not certain what Mair is asking for. Does this blog post cross the line? Are we permitted to point out the error and then required to apologize for our insensitivity or any sort of emotional harm it may cause? Are we allowed to satirize Lunney, or is that forbidden? Will we hurt all important religious sensitivities and risk jail time like in Russia, Iran or Egypt? Can we poke fun at the ridiculousness of his ideas and question other assumptions he may have which might affect his policy as a politician or would this be too offensive for him... for the law?

Where's the line, precisely, Mair? Who gets to decide when it's been crossed?

Because people demanding respect for their deeply held religious beliefs in our society and crying foul and screaming slander when they do not get it -- that does slide into the territory of blasphemy and blasphemy laws.

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