Showing posts with label fundamentalists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fundamentalists. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Free Streaming of New Documentary About Christianity's Obsession with Sex & Purity

Not a scene from the movie, but I found it strangely fitting.
Have you ever noticed that the more fundamentalist and conservative the Christians, the more obsessed they appear to be about sex? It seems to range from remaining chaste before marriage to marrying Jesus and remaining chaste for the rest of their lives. It seems like sex is a really big deal for Christians.

No Sex Please, We're Purity Nuts.

So, there's a really interesting movie that's going to be available for free streaming over at Vimeo, tomorrow: Give Me Sex Jesus (@GiveMeSexJesus).
Give Me Sex Jesus tells six personal stories of struggle from within the Evangelical community to remain sexually pure until marriage. But what happens when our bodies and desires do not behave?

A handsome couple saves their first kiss for the altar; a gay son comes out to his famous family; a transgender man searches for authenticity; and a feminist confronts double standards. While the control of desire is universal, the salvation of these people depends upon it.

Since the 1990s, the Purity Movement has been at the center of a national conversation about sexuality that extends from the pew into the Oval Office. Give Me Sex Jesus invites you into the pleasure, shame, and humor at the intersection of faith and sex in America.
It's is a production of Side Hug Films and is produced and directed by Matt Barber and produced and written by Brittany Machado (@BrittLynnMach). It comes as a result of a successful Kickstarter campaign launched in 2012 and completed in 2014. (This last point answers my own question about why the movie is being released for free.)

According to the press kit, the film will contain taped interviews from a wide array of people - both pro sexual purity and con.
Interviewees include Dr. Richard Ross (founder of the Purity Movement, True Love Waits), Stephanie Drury (Stuff Christian Culture Likes), Chris Bright (grandson of founder, Campus Crusade for Christ), and Dr. Amy DeRogatis (author, Saving Sex). Personal stories include a couple who saved their first kiss for the altar; a gay son who came out to his famous family; a transgender man who searched for authenticity; a feminist who confronts sexual double standards; and more.
You can watch the trailer below.

Give Me Sex Jesus - 2015 TRAILER from Matt Barber on Vimeo.

The film's website even features a supportive from atheist blogger, Hemant Mehta:
They’re not pushing an agenda that says Christians are right or wrong. They’re only interested in telling the stories of people who grew up with these rules around them and explaining where this sex-negativity (my term, not theirs) comes from.
I found another short clip from the film on Vimeo which explores how purity has racial baggage in the United States due to its history of racial segregation and minority persecution.

Give Me Sex Jesus: The Impure History of Purity from Matt Barber on Vimeo.

Looks real interesting! So apparently if you go to the site, you can watch the movie tomorrow starting 6pm PST, for free.

(Image source)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Buh-Bye, James Lunney! Thanks For the Good Times & This Great Farewell Speech!

For the past year, we've been following the speeches, tweets and blog posts of creationist not-macro-evolutionist British Columbian MP James Lunney, who left the Conservative party because they just weren't religiously conservative nor creationist enough for him. We knew back then that Lunney was in his last year as an MP and would not be running again. So, alack alas, all things must come to an end.
As a Christian, I want give thanks to God for directing the life path that is before me and giving me the opportunity to serve my community. Lifelong service and learning is a commitment that has sustained me for more than half a lifetime, and I look forward to taking the life lessons from these amazing 15 years here into the next chapter of my life.
That was from a farewell address he did in Parliament yesterday, probably, you can watch the entire thing here.

I'll actually miss Lunney -- I'm not being sarcastic -- because he truly was never hesitant about saying what was on his mind and what he believed in, no matter out outlandish it was. He also spoke out about militant atheists and secularists and he really didn't hold back on his last speech either.

Here's the relevant portion from the transcription provided on Lunney's blog.
I recently raised alarms about those among us as Canadians who seek to rebrand our nation with a godless image. As I leave this place after fifteen years and five elections. I urge members to take note of this serious assault on the foundations of our nation.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges that Canada was founded on a belief in the supremacy of God. Our parliamentary precinct has scripture inscribed in the stones, on the Peace Tower and throughout the Memorial Chapel, the heart of the Peace Tower.

Famously in the wood over the doors in the fourth floor shadow cabinet room are carved the words, “Fear God” and “Honour the King”. Some of us served in opposition and saw that regularly.

Those who are determined to change that piece by piece and stone by stone to recreate Canada in a secular godless image propose to use their influence, their positions of authority, their money and our courts to this end. The recent Supreme Court ruling on prayer at city council in Saguenay has sent repercussions across the country and greatly advanced the godless rebranding exercise. This ruling basically redefines freedom of religion as freedom from religion. Big banks and corporate CEOs have used their money and influence to advocate against a Christian law school at Trinity Western University. Medical licensing authorities have unilaterally expunged doctors’ long-standing conscience provisions, forcing costly legal challenges.

The most published and read book in the history of the world is in fact a record of God’s dealing with man from the beginning of time. It has advice for those who despise God’s counsel and oppose his purposes:

“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

It also says: In fact, it says on the Peace Tower:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
“Remove not the ancient landmark…”
“Woe unto those that call good evil and evil good…”
“Be not many teachers…”
“Woe unto those who teach men to err.”
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

It is not the Christian Right, if such can be found in Canada, that they seek to overthrow. It is the God of heaven and earth, who has been building His kingdom throughout the ages and evermore in our turbulent times.The world the godless would build is a world without hope, a world of expanding darkness. It is our godly inheritance that has made Canada the great success it has been. Apart from Him, we have no remedy for sin; we have no moral code to build on except His precepts. Godlessness is and will be accompanied by increasing social disorder, violence, lawlessness and depravity; it is spreading around the world. Colleagues, let us keep the lights on in Canada.

If we reject His loving kindness and so great a salvation, we will surely meet Him as judge and those who set themselves against His purposes can expect to hasten the encounter. For those who would destroy the foundations of our great Nation, I say, fear God. He knows your thoughts, your address and your expiry date. He has invested heavily in Canada and He will defend His investments out of love and compassion for our nation.
Well, at least we know where he stands on that one.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Duggars 2.0 & 'Institute for Creation Research' Expert say 'No Such Thing as Atheists'

Jessa and Ben Seewald at Arby's. (source)
Just to fill you all in, Jessa Duggar got married and is now Jessa Seewald -- but she'll always be a Duggar.

Previously, I wrote about Jessa's comments about the Holocaust. They upset a fair number of people. Before that, I wrote about her ideas on atheism -- which are completely unsurprising for someone who's been raised in a bubble (see here and here!)

Well, Jessa and Ben have been making Youtube videos lately, and the most recent lets us all know that atheists don't exist. You see, I may think I don't believe in god, but I really do! I'm just fooling myself ... something or other. Better watch this video.

The bring in an expert from The Institute for Creation Research which presupposes the veracity of the Genesis story before doing any of their actual science or whatever you want to call it.
All origins research must begin with a premise.1 ICR holds that the biblical record of primeval history in Genesis 1–11 is factual, historical, and clearly understandable and, therefore, that all things were created and made in six literal days. Life exists because it was created on Earth by a living Creator. Further, the biblical Flood was global and cataclysmic, and its after-effects therefore explain most of the stratigraphic and fossil evidence found in the earth’s crust. It is within this framework that ICR research is conducted.
There's this hilarious footnote at the end of the page:
1Neither evolution nor creation can be scientifically proved, since they are dealing with history instead of repeatable science. For more information on this topic, see “The Nature of Science and of Theories on Origins“ by Dr. Duane Gish.
Well, I suppose you'll have to deal with evidence. Got some? Probably not.

The good "«' Dr'»" Jason Lisle spends six minutes doing things like explaining away the problem of evil by positing that if God didn't exist, nothing would be evil because... 'standard' or some such nonsense. He also dragged out the usual insult to atheists that according to our system murder is about the same thing as eating someone else's ice cream... or something like that. I forget.

I do remember him telling me that I'm suppressing my belief in God in unrighteousness. Whatever the hell that means!

Here's what Wonkette had to say:
Yeah, there’s a whole lot more of that nonsense — like, six minutes of it! — but you get the idea. Dr. Lisle can prove the existence of God because the Bible says he doesn’t even have to prove the existence of God, THE BIBLE SAYS! And anyone who doesn’t buy into his bullshit is clearly deluding themselves, hahaha, poor dumb bastards.

Anyway, that should clear everything up about creation, evolution, the Bible, and the non-existence of atheists. But do be sure to stop by the Institute next time you’re in Texas if you have any more questions, because surely Dr. Lisle will be happy to not explain it to you further, because he doesn’t have to, THE BIBLE SAYS. Also, he has written many “books,” including one called Taking Back

Astronomy, good fucking god, and you can probably buy all of them at the Institute, and Ben Duggar-Seewald-Whatever says you should buy them books, uh huh, because then you’llpt  learn stuff too.
Amen to that!

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.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Pastor Convinced Katy Perry Is Totally In a Relationship With Satan

Katy Perry
I think I'm guilty of being a Katy Perry fan. Not so much for her music, although she does have a couple of good songs. It's her brilliant ability to drive Illuminati conspiracy theorists and fundamentalist Christian pastors into a crazed frenzy. It's like she's not even trying.
A Tennessee pastor branded popular singer Katy Perry a devil worshiping entertainer in a sermon Sunday and charged that she boasts "having a physical relationship with the devil" in her song "E.T." taken from her 2010 album Teenage Dream.
If you watch the video, it seems like she's just talking metaphorically about having fantastic freaky out of this world sex with someone. Or maybe it is the devil or aliens or something -- who cares? Well, pastor Charles Lawson of Temple Baptist Church in Knoxville totally cares.

"'Futuristic lover, different DNA, they don't understand you. You're from a whole 'nother world, a different dimension, you open my eyes. … And I'm ready to go, lead me into the light.' The light? Is not the Lord Jesus Christ the light?" he asked his church.

"That's not who she's talking about, but she says: 'Infect me with your love; fill me with your poison. Take me, take me, wanna' be a victim, ready for abduction. Boy, you're an alien; your touch so foreign it's supernatural, extraterrestrial.' And on she goes in praise and worship and singing to Satan," he charged.
However, Lawson doesn't only have a beef with Katy Perry for setting up the youth to accept the anti-Christ with no question. He's go ta problem with Beyonce, Lady Gaga, the Beatles and their hand-holding and satanic yellow submersibles.

So it turns out he just has a problem with pretty much anything that's not Laurence Welk.

Still, I find it immensely entertaining -- even more than the music, I think.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Pat Robertson: Why Would You Become a Slave to a Vegetable?

Powerpuff Girl Blossom attacks the alien vegetable king in the classic Beat Your Greens!
Goddamn it! I knew this since I was a kid! HUMANITY IS ENSLAVED BY VEGETABLES! Wrinkly Pat Robertson told us so.
Cocaine is a product of a vegetable. Alcohol is a product of a vegetable. Marijuana is a vegetable. And yet people are enslaved to vegetables. And you were made in the image of God! God made you in his image to reign and rule with him. He gave you incredible authority. Why would you become a slave to a vegetable? Why? Why would you do it?
Why? For the love of all that's rational, why!?! You may be thinking: Sean, you're just taking this all out of context. Surely Pat Robertson cannot be making so little sense! Well, watch this video and try to figure out his subtle context, if you can.

What, you actually were able to skim some sludgy meaning off the top of the murky pond that is Robertson's ramblings? It seems like he's talking about marijuana being a vegetable which enslaves people? Well, that makes me question his use of vegetable and his use of slavery.

Robertson channelling the Almighty.
Are you sure that's what Robertson meant? Be honest, based on his track record, can anyone be sure what he means?

Well, pass the 'veggies'... and the Doritos!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Radical Imams & Rabbis Coming to a Community Centre Near You!

Pierre-Olivier Zappa over at TVA Nouvelles wrote up an informative column about some of the more compelling (read: radical) religious leaders who will be either visiting or setting up shop here in Montreal in the upcoming month.

There are quite a few on the page. Why not take a look at a radical Muslim event and then a radical Jewish event? For radical Christians, I'll refer to to the Westboro folks and their ilk.

This past Saturday, Salah Assawy was to drop by the Outremont Community Centre with another imam for a crowd of 300. Assawy is the Secretary General of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) which is an organization that issues fatwas to help Muslims live properly here in the West. He's also founder and president of the Mishkah Islamic University of North America which was founded as the Sharia Academy of America. Can you figure out why they might have felt compelled to change the name?

Indeed, Assawy is really into Sharia Law for everyone. Hardcore.
Al-Sawy explicitly preaches “Shari’a rule” as a form of governance. He said, “Not ruling by “Shari’ah is the reason for all that the Ummah [Muslim world] is afflicted with … misfortune, neediness, adversity and disaster.” He said that the Devil has “deceived them into believing that the Shari’ah is not appropriate for every time and place” and that Sharia’s hudud, or penal code, is “harsh and barbarous.”
Oh, and he also seems to believe that folks like me probably would best dead. It's so gratifying to me that the Montreal branch of his Mishkah university is in my very own borough.
A 2009 fatwa by Al-Sawy rules that critics of Islam’s founder deserve the death penalty, stating, “repentance does not lift up the set punishment for cursing and insulting the Prophet, i.e., execution.” A 2006 fatwa issued by al-Haj explicitly states that the punishment for leaving Islam is death, but it can only be carried out by an Islamic judiciary system and not individuals.
It can only be carried out by an Islamic judiciary system and not individuals? What a relief!

It's not just him though. The AMJA issues several fatwas from various scholars. One such scholar is Hatem al-Haj who has a few interesting things to say about marital rape.
A 2009 AMJA fatwa endorses marital rape: “As for the issue of forcing a wife to have sex, if she refuses, this would not be called rape, even though it goes against natural instincts and destroys love and mercy, and there is a great sin upon the wife who refuses.” A 2006 ruling by al-Haj states that the punishment for a married man guilty of adultery is stoning.
Yes, this is someone living in 21st century North America. This organization is also apparently totally down with female genital mutilation circumcision too:
In 2010, al-Haj approved of female circumcision, stating that the AMJA version of it is different than what is practiced in some African communities. He claimed, “Some extremists from the West and their devout followers in the Muslim world would like to brand all circumcision as female genital mutilation.” He said that because the West has not objectively studied the issue, “all of their propaganda about female circumcision is nothing more than bigotry.
It's a shame I missed this event because I would have loved to see exactly why our information about FGM is nothing more than bigotry.

Well, it turns out the city canceled the event, presumably when news in this TVA story broke in the Quebec media.

As I wrote previously about radical anti-democratic imam Hamza Chaoui, I have no problem with these men sharing their retrograde ideas. Those who have issues with them can have non-violent, non-harassing protests and information distribution outside. It's my opinion these ideas should not be silenced or they will be driven underground to fester. They must be confronted head on. It would be especially great to see the more liberal elements of these religions speaking out against speakers like this.

Now then. Why not mark February 27th on your calendar for an evening with Israeli rabbi Yosef Mizrachi? He's really big on reincarnation and believes that autistic kids and down kids are just reincarnated souls who need minor correction before they go up to heaven -- basically bad karma from previous lives.

Well, that's just kooky. According to the TVA story, he also claims that Jews get cancer when women dress inappropriately and couples flirt too much. It's all those erotic conversations, Facebook, drugs, alcohol... Apparently the Jews also deserved the Holocaust.
Chaque minute, un Juif est frappé par le cancer. C'est en raison de l'habillement des femmes, des relations entre filles et garçons. C'est en raison des conversations érotiques, de Facebook, de la drogue et de l'alcool. Toutes ces tragédies s'expliquent ainsi», enseigne-t-il. Le prédicateur ajoute que l'Holocauste est une punition méritée par certaines communautés juives.
Frimet Goldberger over at the blog The Sisterhood at The Jewish Daily Forward wrote about Mizrachi (and others) in her post Rabbis Gone Wild -- About Modesty and (Gasp!) Zumba:
... There is another, particularly intriguing, rabbi — let’s call him the Ladies Rabbi — Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi. This popular Sephardi rabbi travels from town to town, lecturing about anything that strikes his fancy (mostly women) and debating Christian ministers. His website is called Divine Information, clearly a sign that his is the word of God, and he purports to merge and make sense of the Torah and science and many other things besides.

In one of his most popular and fascinating speeches, Rabbi Mizrachi — in one fell swoop — manages to spew anti-Muslim invective while praising devout Muslim men who “don’t let” their wives dress as provocatively as Jewish men let their wives.

“Even the Muslim murderers,” he cries (around 27 minutes in), “who blow themselves up with suicide vests and kill babies don’t allow their women to go out dressed the way our women do. If she shows one inch of her body (pointing at his wrists) they’ll kill her in the village. We should cry from embarrassment, cry from embarrassment! If Muhammad and Mustafa the murderers from Hezbollah don’t let their wives dress like this — what they’re better than us?”

Much like the Satmar rabbi who studied Causative Holistic Medicine at the Institute of Blame Women the Ladies Rabbi, Yosef Mizrachi, believes that tumors and cancerous cells are direct results of sin.

“Today, the number one cancer by women is breast cancer,” he explains (at around 49). “Second cancer for women, womb cancer. Third, brain cancer. The three parts that women make sins with men — the breast, the womb and the head — cancer goes over there.”
Well said.

The TVA video report associated with the story ended off with Zappa asking just how far freedom of speech can go. I believe these men should be allowed to spew their nonsense because silencing them compromises the very value we wish to protect.

On the flipside, these men should be ready to receive healthy doses of criticism and ridicule.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

ISIS: The Tell-Tale Signs of a Religious Death Cult

Isis militants featured in VICE News documentary The Spread of the Caliphate: The Islamic State. (source)
There's an interesting opinion piece over at CNN by Peter Bergen asking just what the primary motive is for ISIS seemingly making enemies of absolutely everyone but themselves. Jordan and Egypt are the latest countries to strike back at the group militarily in retaliation for barbaric murder.

The answer is something which is stunningly obvious to many people, yet certain groups, including some in the progressive left (of which I am one) seem utterly unable or unwilling to see: serious serious religious belief.
We live in an increasingly secularized world, so it's sometimes difficult to take seriously the deeply held religious beliefs of others. For many of us the idea that the end of times will come with a battle between "Rome" and Islam at the obscure Syrian town of Dabiq is as absurd as the belief that the Mayans had that their human sacrifices could influence future events.

But for ISIS, the Dabiq prophecy is deadly serious. Members of ISIS believe that they are the vanguard fighting a religious war, which Allah has determined will be won by the forces of true Islam.
It seems like in the west, my fellow left-wingers do tend to be very secular -- many seem to have grown up in environments of progressive religion or no religion at all. Coming from a very conservative Catholic family, I have noticed a sort of strange denial in my progressive brothers and sisters. They simply cannot conceive of anyone taking any religious belief seriously enough to murder others. It must be widespread poverty... economic woes... politics... cannot possibly be religion!
This is the conclusion of an important forthcoming new book about ISIS by terrorism experts J.M. Berger and Jessica Stern who write that ISIS, like many other "violent apocalyptic groups, tend to see themselves as participating in a cosmic war between good and evil, in which moral rules do not apply."
ISIS members devoutly believe that they are fighting in a cosmic war in which they are on the side of good, which allows them to kill anyone they perceive to be standing in their way with no compunction. This is, of course, a serious delusion, but serious it is.
Although more violent, this puts ISIS in the same theological category as extreme US Christian groups who are trying to fulfill Biblical prophecy of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem to hearken on the End of the World.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Malaysian Atheists Using Christian Holiday of Halloween to Make Muslims Godless?

Much like the situation here in Canada, it seems like Malaysians are understandably confused about what Halloween is all about.

The article starts out reporting that the Malaysian National Fatwa Council, which has been busy lately reminding people not to touch dogs,  just put out a fatwa prohibiting people from celebrating Halloween. They concluded this was a Christian celebration of the dead which was against Islamic teachings.

I found this curious. Perhaps they read that recent propaganda piece about Kirk Cameron and got confused? Well, the article got a bit more precise  when the Council conceded that people didn't seem to actually celebrate the holiday in even a teensy weensy bit Christian way.
Despite declaring Halloween to be a Christian festival, the council noted that it is now celebrated through costume parties, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted locations, pranks, and horror story-telling.

“Halloween is celebrated using a humorous theme mixed with horror to entertain and resist the spirit of death that influence humans,” it said.
Right. Interesting take on this.

Well, I think the Duggar family would agree with the Council and have Halloween banned in America because it's un-Christian, go figure.

It's towards the end where things take a curious turn.
Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has also waded into the issue, urging the state authorities, including the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Council (Mains), to monitor the event.

Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman also claimed on Saturday Halloween celebrations are organised by non-Muslims worldwide to shake the faith of Muslims and turn them godless.

Abdullah said it was likely that atheists were behind the events, claiming further that Halloween celebrations were also intended to spread atheism.
Hold on --- is this a Christian celebration or an atheist one? Are atheists using a Christian holiday to foist their lack of belief onto people using funny costumes, candy and jack-o-lanterns? How does the Rocky Horror Picture Show factor into this, anyway?

I had no idea us atheists were so damned organized. Think of all we could achieve to better the treatment of atheists in Western countries if we'd only stop wasting energy trying to convert all the Malay Muslims to atheism! People! Come on!

Feel free to read up more about the presidents interesting conspiracy ideas about existential threats to the Malay Muslim community from liberalism, pluralism, the New World Order, the Jews, Christians and Chinese.

Of course, he's absolutely correct about an all-pervasive atheist agenda to use Halloween to render the world godless. Sure... absolutely...

Monday, 27 October 2014

Zach Dasher's Campaign Ad as Scary as You'd Expect It to Be

Gun in one hand, Bible in the other. (source)
Remember that Zach Dasher guy in Louisiana? He's running as a Republican for Congress, is related to that Duck Dynasty guy and said things like this.
Porn at its core is materialism. Sex and porn is reduced to the material. Bodies. Bodies being used in the most superficial form. It's not even real. And this is where atheism and postmodernity join hands. This is where the atheist grabs hands with the postmodernist thinker and they join hands and they march together. Because atheism says all there is is material and the postmodern says all that matters is the material ... and they find that common ground and they indoctrinate our children with this bankrupt philosophy...
And a whole bunch of other freaky stuff. Well, now he made this scary video with guns, Bibles 'n I Believe.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Kirk Cameron Said Something About Halloween

Christian woman dressed up as a woman for Halloween. Wait a minute! That does make sense! (source)
Here's an article about the highly complex historical influences that played into the formation of what we now know of as Halloween in Canada, the United States, and across the world. It's long, nuanced and shows you just the sort of history you'd expect for a holiday as goofy and fun as Samhain... I mean All Souls Eve, or whatever. Complicated, isn't it?

Too complicated, man! Who has time to read all that when you can just skip to what Kirk Cameron has to say! Well, I extracted most of what was left of this Christian Post advertisement for his upcoming Christmas movie (and his entire career in general). I take this lovely sweetmeat and I place it here now for you! Here's your treat -- you should have done the trick.
"When you go out on Halloween and see all people dressed in costumes and see someone in a great big bobble head Obama costume with great big ears and an Obama face, are they honoring him or poking fun?" Cameron asked.

"They are poking fun at him," the actor said, answering his own question before comparing the concept of costumes to early Christianity.

"Early on, Christians would dress up in costumes as the devil, ghosts, goblins and witches precisely to make the point that those things were defeated and overthrown by the resurrected Jesus Christ," Cameron continued. "The costumes poke fun at the fact that the devil and other evils were publicly humiliated by Christ at His resurrection. That's what the Scriptures say, that He publicly humiliated the devil when He triumphed over power and principality and put them under his feet. Over time you get some pagans who want to go this is our day, high holy day of Satanic church, that this is all about death, but Christians have always known since the first century that death was defeated, that the grave was overwhelmed, that ghosts, goblins, devils are foolish has-beens who used to be in power but not anymore. That's the perspective Christians should have."
I'm certain all those people dressed up as naughty nurses or police officers or USB adapters are truly mocking those instruments of Satan. Or is it just ancient Christians in the Bible who go door-to-door dressed up like witches collecting Chick tracts?

Are we supposed to paint our doors with lambs' blood or something here? What's the story, Cameron? There's more questions here than answers.

No, I will not watch your movie.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Soggy Pale Blue Dot: Brace Yourselves For The 'Ringwoodite' Flood Evidence

So, prepare yourselves for a deluge of new Christian 'proofs' for a world flood brought on by a brutal god that killed off all life on the planet but a single family and a bunch of smelly animals living in a really big boat for days and days.

Oceans of Water Locked 400 Miles Inside Earth

Scientists have finally found some evidence supporting a long held suspicion that there is a vast amount of water locked in solid form inside minerals deep within Earth's mantle transition zone -- three times more water than all the oceans combined.
Deep within the Earth's rocky mantle lies oceans' worth of water locked up in a type of mineral called ringwoodite, new research shows.

The results of the study will help scientists understand Earth's water cycle, and how plate tectonics moves water between the surface of the planet and interior reservoirs, researchers say.
This is, of course, fascinating. This water is locked inside a rare mineral under extreme pressure and temperature conditions. By 'locked' they mean it literally. The oxidane is squeezed into the mineral's very molecular structure! That's really cool.

The good folks over at Answers In Genesis think ringwoodite and water deep in the transition area is cool too. Not just because it's nifty but because they believe it further backs up Biblical accounts. I'll give you a hint with this still from a recent blockbuster movie.

Yes, this is more proof of the big flood with the ark and the dove and animal manure galore.

After explaining the science involved -- which I am ill-qualified to review in any detail -- Answers in Genesis geologist, Dr. Andrew Snelling concludes that:
As we examine this discovery in light of the history of the global Flood documented in God’s Word, we see that water not only changes everything about the way a planet works in the present, but also about 4,300 years ago at the time of the global Flood. Dr. Snelling explains:

What is the profound significance of this discovery? It confirms the capacity of the mantle to have housed the water that was released when the fountains of the great deep were broken up to commence the Flood, and the huge volume of water that was released through these fountains for as much as 150 days, providing more than enough water to help submerge the whole globe, just as described in Genesis 7:11–24 (NKJV).
... And kill everyone -- well, not all at once, of course. What kind of god worth his own salt would bungle things up enough to require a complete reboot? What an incompetent and unpleasant chap.

You know, scientists had a strong hunch that this ringwoodite stuff could have held a vast amount of water for awhile now. However, there wasn't good evidence for this so no conclusions were made. So, as soon as someone can provide evidence that all this ringwoodite got energized enough to shoot its water out all the way out to the surface (think it would have cooked everyone?), I don't think we can go jumping onto the Bible Bandwagon.

Any evidence for a deluge of global scale 4,300 years ago would still not lead to any god. It would only be evidence for just the flood. Sorry, that's how it works.

Speaking of 2300 BCE, I wonder what the Egyptians thought of that with all their 4,300 year old pyramids and unbroken civilization and stuff. Or all these other people? Or did Noah and gang jump out of their boat and pretend to be Egyptians and Akkadians taking on their cultures and languages and everything? That's a creepy idea almost as freaky as a spook in the sky! Wait, no, that's actually almost as silly an idea as someone with 24th century BCE technology building a boat big enough to fit two of every living thing on the planet -- or anyone actually loving, honouring and worshipping a fictional character that would devise such a wretched genocide.

Now that my mind has mostly recovered from being blown, it makes a lot of sense really. All this water isn't that surprising, if you think of it. I mean, this planet of ours is pretty soaked with water. It's only natural for this water to seep as far into the planet as it can. That's sort of the nature of water, really.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Christians Are Willing To Raise The Dead. People Just Won't Let Them!

Okay, so this is just going to be a short one about Christians who think they can raise people from the dead.

Raising The Dead: Evangelical Christians Want To Practice Resurrections
Leppitt says that when her brother died, she and her husband prayed over his body for nearly an hour and believe that he moved at one point, and that if they gain access to more bodies, they can deliver better results. 
"Practice makes perfect," she was quoted as saying.
The Leppitts are part of Global Awakening fellowship (UK Branch). They seem to believe that they could deal with this whole death thing once and for all if more people would only let them lay hands on dead people.

But that's not the pièce de résistance. There's this hilarious group, The Dead Raising Team(tm), who are like some kind of elite resurrection rapid response squad. They swoop in - upon request from the friends or family of the deceased - to pray for resurrection. They are going to be featured in their own documentary - in which they are apparently unable to raise any dead people. Jesus Christ, performance anxiety affects us all.
Tyler Johnson runs a ministry called the Dead Raising Team in the US. He claims to have brought several people back to life. He says he even persuaded the authorities in his state to issue him with an official photocard which lets him through police lines at car accident sites. 
Johnson appears in a new documentary film called Deadraisers, which follows enthusiasts as they trail round hospitals and mortuaries trying to bring people back to life. Sadly, those they pray for in the film remain resolutely dead.
Oh, and this group even offers training!

And here's the trailer for their raisin' the dead movie, which can apparently be rented on Vimeo for 10 bucks. That's not cheap... but possibly good watching at your next Skeptics event?

DEADRAISER - Trailer from Mountain Light Cinema on Vimeo.

Back to the Leppitts, who, as far as I know, do not have their own documentary film. They're still praying for the dead to come back. They're still a-pluggin'.
Alun and Donna have not had any success with dead raising either. Last year, Donna's brother died of a heart attack. By the time they got to the mortuary, he had been dead for eight hours. They prayed over him for nearly an hour, and although at one stage they thought they saw him move, that was as good as it got.
Of course, this sort of thing can be extremely harmful for those vulnerable ones who are in the process of grieving. I cannot help thinking about this while at the same time finding the whole thing amusing and hilarious. If it were a relative of mine or a good friend employing these people - even for free - I would probably be quite upset.

Vjack over at Atheist Revolution made a much more thoughtful analysis of all this: Raising the Dead.

For hours of entertainment, check out the BBC article above, or read about it in The Freethinker.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Trinity Western Law School: Setting The Tone For Discrimination

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 Stéphane 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.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Disturbing Messages From Creationists Who Attended the Debate

Wut? (source)
Okay, I usually don't just dump a link without some sort of analysis of my own, but I think you really need to take a look at this. Now we know what Bill Nye is really up against.

22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution
I asked 22 self-identifying creationists at the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate to write a message/question/note to the other side. Here’s what they wrote.
Buzzfeed's Matt Stopera made a major win with this story where 22 pictures really tell the whole tragic story.

It's amazing how completely these people seem to misunderstand what science is and how it works - along with the proper use of the word their. I can only guess they've picked up this nonsense in their churches.

Before the debate, I wondered if Bill Nye was really the right guy to go up against the likes of Ken Ham. After seeing the debate and who's in the audience -- at the museum and in thousands of homes and churches -- I think Bill is the best man for the job. Him teaching the facts and calmly addressing nonsense may not have made for an entertaining battle at some moments, but it will have the greatest impact on the ongoing war against ignorance.

Go and see for yourself. I chuckled, I shook my head, I cried inside.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Ray Comfort Declares War! Ray Comfort-Facebook-Bots, Attack!

Ray Comfort and a banana.
Okay, that might be a wee bit hyperbolic.

I have a fondness for New Zealand although I've never been there.  But I actually have a couple of lamb shank steaks roasting with potatoes, rosemary and cherry tomatoes in the oven right this very minute!

Okay, so otherwise I know very little about New Zealand, but when it comes to down under, I mean, if you were to include Australia then I'll admit to having an ongoing crush on Natalie Tran.

It's too bad Ken Ham also comes from Australia, but I diverge.

Speaking of crazy yet highly entertaining preachers, Ray Comfort comes from New Zealand.  Like Australian Ken Ham, I think he's probably a nice enough guy, who I'd love to have a beer with but he is still pretty kooky.  He's kind of like that old guy you probably know who lives on your street and occasionally starts talking to you about weird stuff after you are silly enough to respond to his cordial greeting while you're in a hurry to get to the store.

Well his movie - 180 - pissed the hell out of me and apparently his Facebook has over 100,000 likes. Just imagine 100,000 people pushing the movie 180?

I'll admit, I could only get through about 10 minutes of it.  I'll try later, I promise.

Ray Rallies The Troops!  Are Any Of Us Safe?

This is no joke!  The battle has begun!  One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

"It suddenly dawned on me how Facebook is an incredible medium for the gospel. One of my posts was seen by 1.2 million people – many of whom are non-Christians," Comfort told The Christian Post via an email exchange. "Think of what it would cost and how much work it would take to have a Billy Graham-type crusade that reached 1.2 million people. But we can reach that many at no cost and with just a click of a keyboard button."
He added, "The average Christian can't stand on a soapbox at a university and preach, but he or she can now engage the unsaved and have their comment read by multiple people, all from the comfort of their own home. It means that a stay-at-home mom can reach out to the lost during a break from the kids. It means that those who are busy at work can reach the unsaved during their lunch breaks." 
Comfort, who has more than 105,000 people "liking" his "Ray Comfort" Facebook page, warns on his site that "YOU WILL BE BANNED FOR CUSSING OR BLASPHEMY."
Everyone man your stations.  Comfort-Bots could be headed your way.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Humanism & Human Rights In Uganda: An Interview With East African IHEU Representative Deo Ssekitooleko

IHEU East African region representative Deo Ssekitooleko.
Just weeks ago, Uganda narrowly missed passing a barbaric and oppressive anti-homosexuality law that had the potential of sending gays and lesbians to jail or even a death sentence and even promised stiff penalties for those who witheld information concerning the identities of hidden gays and lesbians - making it a true witch hunt.
Furthermore, if passed, the bill will require anyone who is aware of an offence or an offender, including individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations who support LGBT rights, to report the offender within 24 hours. If an individual does not do so he or she is also considered an offender and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 250 "currency points" or imprisonment up to three years.
Although the parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga promised to pass the bill as a Christmas present to the country, the bill was never taken up last year.  It's due to be taken up in parliament sometime after  February 4th of this year.

Given the precarious situation of human rights in Uganda for homosexuals and the rise of extreme Christian Fundamentalism across the country, I was interested to discover what the Uganda's Secular Humanist organizations thought about the situation.  Furthermore, I wanted to know what they were doing to protect the rights of gays and lesbians and the state of Human Rights in their country and what we can do in the rest of the world to effect change in Uganda from afar.

I was able to catch up with Deo (Deogratias) Ssekitooleko over e-mail and he was gracious enough to answer my questions.  Deo was the original founder of the Ugandan Humanist Association and is the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) representative for the East African region.

I have taken some liberties with Deo's responses to make them more natural English.  Rest assured that Deo has reviewed this final copy to ensure I didn't alter the meaning of any of his original responses.

GP: Tell me a little about yourself.
DS: I am a Humanist and social welfare activist who believes in tolerance and a secular, scientific and rational way of life. 
I attended several Ugandan Universities, including Makerere University which is the oldest university in both Uganda and East Africa.  I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany & Zoology, a post graduate diploma in Education (Biology & Teacher Education) and a Bachelor of Arts in Democracy and Development Studies and a Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Studies.
GP: What brought you to become a Humanist and when did it happen?  What are your past duties and achievements within the Humanist movement?
DS: I founded the Uganda Humanist Association (UHASSO) to oppose superstition, promote human rights and social welfare, oppose all forms of discrimination and promote the scientific understanding of  the  world. The process of this struggle started in September 1993 when I was a student at Makerere University. 
I also organized the first International Humanist conference and General Assembly of IHEU in Uganda, Africa in May 2004.

In addition to all this, I have promoted Humanism in the East African region (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) and I've worked to attract European and American Humanists to sponsor East African groups.
GP: What are you responsibilities as IHEU Consultant/East African Consultant?
DS: My responsibilities are to promote Humanist Groups and projects and the message of Humanism  through conferences, seminars and Humanist literature.
GP: Do you consider yourself a social activist for change?  If so, what are some of your experiences as an activist?
DS: Yes, I do.  I have helped to found several Humanist groups in East Africa.  However, because of limited funding they move at a slow pace.   I have been invited to speak on Humanism in Africa, Europe and America.
GP: What is the situation in Uganda for gays and lesbians - open or closeted?
DS: Uganda is an extremely homophobic country.  Religious groups which promote homophobia are strong, well-funded and have a lot of influence.  People in same-sex relationships are undermined and scorned.  Such relationships are regarded as abnormal and illegal here.
GP: What is your opinion about the Anti-Homosexuality bill that is now making its way through Ugandan Parliament and was destined to be passed by Christmas by Rebecca Kadaga?  Do you think there was a reason it wasn't passed at Christmas and what do you think its chances are in February?
DS: The Bill is un-constitutional because it interferes with various articles in the Ugandan constitution and it will have to be amended before it's brought back for discussion. 
The failure of the bill to be passed is precisely because of its being un-constitutional.  There is also a fear that the country will lose outside donors as well as concern over the local and international campaign against it.
GP: What is the position of the IHEU and humanist organizations in Uganda and neighbouring African countries to this bill?  What is being done in these areas by these organizations and what are the obstacles?
DS: The IHEU and other Humanist organizations in Uganda are all opposed to the current bill.  Various Human rights organizations are not well coordinated but are campaigning against the bill.   Above all, there is a need for better coordination of resources.
GP: What could people in other countries - especially Europe and Americas - do to help?
DS: They should push their governments pressure the Ugandan Government not to pass the bill. 
They should facilitate, through funding human rights organizations, to form a strong coalition that can form a unified force to oppose the bill and sensitize Ugandan society about tolerance of minorities and respect of human rights. 
In particular Humanist organizations should fund the newly formed Secular Coalition for Human Rights (SECOHURI)*.
GP: Is there any opposition to this bill in the Parliament?  If not, why do you think it is?
DS: No other opposition is being heard.  But whenever the bill is up for debate many members opt to be absent.
GP: Was the climate always this bad for homosexuals in Uganda?  Or has it gotten worse in the last decade and why do you think this is?
DS: It has not always been like this.  The emergence of strong Pentecostal religious groups has escalated the situation.
GP: What are some of the other interesting ongoing projects humanist organizations are undertaking in Uganda and surrounding African countries?   How can we all help?
DS: Some ongoing projects are Humanist schools (so far three in Uganda); Women's Rights groups which help minority groups; Social welfare projects for poor people; Groups that promote a scientific outlook (e.g. fight witchcraft in places like Malawi); Conferences and Symposia which bring Humanists together in East African countries. 
You can best help by contacting these groups.
Editor's note: The first place to look for contact information for these organizations is the Uganda Humanist Association (UHASSO) website.  Sites include:

GP: What role do you see organizations like IHEU taking in the future on the Ugandan, African and World stage to advance causes important to Humanists and to make the world a safer place for people of non-belief?
DS: Empower established groups through capacity building projects and  seek to establish more groups throughout Africa.
GP: Do you have any further comments?
DS: We wish to see strong collaboration with you on how to promote SECOHURI as a first stage of our Interactions.

I thank Deo for his time answering my questions and hope to hear more from him in the future on this blog!

*After the interview I asked Deo how to best get information about SECOHURI and he let me know that the initiative is still very early on in its development.  He will share more information as it progresses and I'll be sure to pass it on here or you should check out the Uganda Humanist Association website for updates!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Understanding Catholics: Part I : Whence Reason?

I do believe I have a new favourite Catholic blog.  It's Accepting Abundance by home-schoolin'-ex-Atheist-fundamentalist-yet-post-Vatican-II Stacy Trasancos.  This knocks Leah Libresco's Unequally Yoked down to second position in my personal ranking of Converted to Catholics.  Maybe it's because Stacy started out a Baptist, while Leah started out non-religious.  Sorry Leah... well, not that you likely care.  Maybe I'm all Ideological-Turing-Tested out.

And why am I so smitten with this new blog find?  Truth be told, I simply cannot get enough stuff that annoys me.  I love being annoyed - it's my default setting.  Go ahead, check my configuration!

Her posts on Atheism and childhood indoctrination are so wonderfully provocative to Atheists like me that I'd be damned if she wasn't just trying to wind us all up for extra traffic to her blog.

You know, fire us all up into a really frustrated frenzy that drives us back for more like so many hundreds of teaming salmon swimming up river.

And I know nearly every one of her posts has the effect of slamming me into her colourful comments section.  There she Socratizes her opposition down in a highly confusing yet respectful way using references to what this Pope said; or that Saint wrote; or what Immanuel Kant thought.  (This is secret code that only smart Catholics seem to comprehend).  These compact theologically-backed refutations are glimpses into some other way of thinking and they boggle my ex-Catholic mind.

Thankfully,  if there's one thing I like almost as much as being annoyed, it's being really confused!  To my confused and annoyed brain, her comments section pops with near incomprehensible arguments which are not unlike the bursting of those tiny little orange caviar bubbles when I eat a good sushi platter.  Unexpected, salty, perhaps a little gross but still surprisingly good.

I recently commented in a post about her post about Atheism a Growing Evil.  Well, since then she has produced so many new gems that I am unable to keep up with them all!  Her latest post on Atheism is short enough that I may be able to express nearly all my confusion over it in a couple of blog posts.  I hope you will all find it enlightening.

Explaining Reason: Atheism or Christianity?

So, the question seems to be where Reason comes from.  Many Christians seem to be obsessed with this sort of thing.  Can it be explained by an Atheistic outlook or a Christian outlook, or neither - oh wait, she's not giving us that option.

The post starts by telling the reader that the topic at hand - Reason - was written about by a Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, who later changed his name to Benedict and became the Pope.  This means listen up, Catholics!  This is important because a Pope-to-be wrote about it! Here's something the Pope said in a book in 1987.
He explains why such culturally shocking assertions, such as the subordination of the University and the State to the Church, are naturally and rationally ordered relationships for the common good, and it all begins with an explanation about reason.
You know, I detect a conflict of interest here.  I mean, isn't that just the sort of thing a Catholic clergyman would write?  Why can't we call just go back to before the Enlightenment?  To those gold-old-days - the Middle Ages?  Back in the Glory Days when the State and University were subordinate to the Church.

Popes were definitely in charge of School
and State in the 10th-century.
She goes on to remind her readers that Atheists aren't too keen on that idea.  I also have heard State Religion wasn't all that popular with the Founding Fathers down there in the States as well.  Even if they were religious, it's dubious they would have been Catholics.

Anyway, we are asked whether we've ever wondered how to respond to the insistence that faith should play no part in academic instruction or public policy.  Well apparently Ratzinger has the answers to this and Stacy will give us the low down in future essays.  For now she will concentrate on the question at hand Whence Reason?

Rubric one: Can Atheism Explain Reason?
The word “reason” is repeated a lot today, but without an understanding of what it really is. Atheists lay claim to it, assuming that it is the opposite of faith. The word has its root in classical Latin, ratio, and it means intellectual power, the capacity for rational thought.
You know, I've always been a little uncomfortable with the bandying about of the word Reason by the Atheist and Freethought community.  So I agree with the first sentence!  Hell, I can't say I have a firm grasp of what Reason means either.  It's like one of those big archetypes - Love, Will, Intellect.  Like Forms or Ideas, it all starts getting uncomfortably Platonic after awhile.

Things get tricky soon because both Reason and Faith seem to have multiple slippery definitions attached to them.  Personally, I would say one possible description of Reason is indeed intellectual power, the capacity for rational thought.  I prefer the application of logical principles to the available evidence.  One uses Reason as a process to sift through and judge each piece of Evidence based on its merits.  Faith is what happens when evidence is overwhelmingly lacking.

These are deep waters.  There's a lot going on in these tightly woven paragraphs.

Okay, time to put on your crash helmets for this next part.  I'll break the next section down into parts.
A tenet of atheism is that reason is a product of human evolution, just another step along the pathway that began with the Big Bang, a “random byproduct of the ocean of irrationality from which everything actually sprang.”
The Large Hadron Collider.
The only tenet of Atheism is a lack of belief in God.  Anyway, I'm a materialist, so I'll play along.  Yes, the ability to think (Reason) is the product of evolution (not just human).  Yes, it is another step along the pathway that was preceded by (not necessarily begun with) the Big Bang.  And yes, I suppose you could say it's a byproduct a series of irrational events.  I think the word byproduct is there to trivialize the whole thing.  There's nothing trivial about it though.  It's our story and the story of everything.

I guess all the evidence that stacks in favour of purely material universe sprung from a Big Bang and evolving constantly through unguided processes are merely the byproducts of a supernatural god orchestrating the whole thing?
But how can this be? If reason is real, then it is as inconceivable that the Big Bang is the primordial beginning of the universe as it is inconceivable that a circle can be squared.
This confused me because I thought there may have been an argument somewhere in here.  But there isn't.  It's just incredulity.   Yes, reason is real.  But it's not a thing.  It's like how digestion means digestive power, the capacity for converting food into energy.  Not all words are things.  Not everything is real in the same way.
That is — it is impossible.
 Waiting for an argument.

The foundation of rationality cannot be irrationality; reason cannot spring from the unreasonable. No, atheism has no explanation for the existence of reason.

Then whence God?  This, again.  Science continues to demonstrated that thought is an emergent property of a brain - a collection of matter.  Why haven't the scientists all jumped on the God idea?

Life can exist without rationality.  Bacteria, amoeba, and many small life forms do not have anything resembling Reason.  But as one follows your way up the ladder using lifeforms that remain today as your guide, one notices a gradual increase in awareness and ultimately reason itself.

I am assuming that irrationality and unreasonable here means a lack of Reason and doesn't reflect their more colloquial meanings.  They could otherwise bolster an argument solely with more emotional cues.

Well, I spent so much time gushing over the blog that I done went spent up all the space for this post! I'll save looking at the evidence for until next time.   Keep your crash helmets handy, because it only gets more confusing!

If Stacy does read this post, I hope she does realize that under my sarcastic exterior is someone who was once a Catholic and is now an Atheist.  Someone, who is truly confused to death when he reads Catholic blogs like hers.  It's highly likely she would be just as confused reading my blog.

Part II is available: Understanding Catholics: Part II: Whence Reason?

Editor's note: I would like to clarify that I meant the Aristophanes (Clouds) meaning of the verb "to socratize", not the Marquis De Sade version.  Although, I would surely never suspect any of my sensitive readers to read anything so base as that French philosopher, I was forced to read his works for myself for research purposes only.  I assure you.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Guest Post: Sheldon Cooper, From Christian Fundamentalist to Closeted Agnostic Blogger (Part 2)

Guest Post by Sheldon Cooper

Editor's Note: Here's the second part of the de-conversion story of blog reader Sheldon Cooper (not his real name).  Sheldon comes out of a fundamentalist Christian household and had to overcome deep religious programming, OCD and depression in his quest for truth that finally brought him to Agnosticism.

You can find the first part here.

The Seeds Of Doubt

There was no apparent reason for these doubts to come upon me as quickly as they did, but they arrived and struck hard. I would read the Bible and all of the passages that I thought made sense  or that I had long tried to rationalize/explain away suddenly didn't make sense or seemed downright indefensible. Reading the Old Testament again with a fresh perspective was very shocking. Children had to be stoned to death for disobedience to parents? Women who were raped were forced to marry their attacker?.

I started reading the Old Testament's Mosaic law, and I started to notice that it's not all that much better than  the Islamic Sharia law.

Imagine my confusion when comparing the New Testament to the Old Testament. I felt like I was reading about two different gods entirely. The Old Testament depicts a god of vengeance and death and Jesus in the New Testament tries to depict a god of mercy and love. Even more confusing is Jesus' contradictory attitude towards the Mosaic law. He seemed to oppose the law and its harshness, telling people to turn the other cheek, and saving a woman from a Pharisee lynch mob that wanted to have her stoned to death for having an affair. On the other hand, he says in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to destroy the law.

My doubts grew even more when I looked at all the impossibilities: Noah's Ark; a talking snake deceiving a woman; and a talking donkey telling off Balaam.

Just taking the story of the Ark literally is mind boggling. Apparently all the Earth's creatures, plus feed for them fit into a wooden ship that, based on the dimensions listed in Genesis, would have only been about half the size of the Titanic!

Another funny thought is that termites and carpenter ants would have had to have been on the Ark as well - a wooden ship!

Here's an unpleasant thought: If Adam and Eve and family were the only people on earth in the beginning, there's no other way that humanity could have multiplied without incest. Never looked at it that way, have you?

New Channels Of Communication

It was during this time of doubting that I  started becoming a regular contributor to a local website's discussion board and I started to get to know some people from there.  At this time I still hadn't decided to give up my beliefs, but I was still searching/questioning.  I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, the god of Christianity isn't such a loving, merciful god after all.

Then I got to know a husband and wife who ran a music store specializing in hard rock memorabilia and CD's. I don't know what led me into the store, that day I first entered.  Growing up, I was never allowed to listen to anything considered "rock music" - definition: any contemporary music, (but country was allowed, ironically!).  So, it was quite an experience: first going inside, with all the the T-Shirts and other assorted memorabilia (almost all black), some with death metal themes, and music playing from speakers.

Though I don't agree with Wiccans
 on anything spiritually related, I find
 it to be a very beautiful religion, the
symbolism, the history, and the open-
mindedness of it's adherents. 
What was a culture shock more than the music and its related memorabilia, was the fact that the wife in this family was Wiccan. I had never met a Wiccan before, not in encounters online, and definitely not in person. You see, growing up fundamentalist, I had always been taught the lie that Wicca = Satanism.

Imagine my discomfort at the time when I found out she was Wiccan? Her life ran completely contrary to what I was brought up to believe, and in fact she proved to be a better person than most of the fundamentalists I knew. She was far more open-minded, more accepting of me for who I am, and had this practical wisdom that I haven't seen in very many people, as though she was more mature and had learned more from life than 5 people in their lifetimes.

I'm saying all of this to demonstrate that to remain in fundamentalism, it's necessary to isolate yourself from the outside world.  It's the only way to go if you want to keep up the illusion that the outside world is evil and to be avoided.  Once you enter the outside world, you find that some people are indeed evil people.  But by and large, most people are good and are just like you. Many people live out their lives in a fashion that is just as moral, or even more moral than the circles than you are used to being in.

It was also astonishing to me how much more direct people were outside the regular circles.  It's as though most people didn't feel like they needed to put on a veneer, to hide what they did or who they were.  For better or for worse, people are more honest because they are not trying to put on a veneer, and put on an act of "holiness" to mask who they truly were.

It was not long after this that I knew that I could no longer deal with with the doubts and conflicts that came from attempting to believe something that deep down wasn't true. I  knew I wasn't a fundamentalist anymore nor a Christian of any variety.  But it took me a good year to finally figure out that I was an agnostic, and admit that to myself - which didn't come without a struggle of its own.

I knew that I could no longer believe in a god who was neither just nor merciful.  Just looking at the realities of the world around me proved both concepts to be rather ludicrous in my mind.  But giving up the concept of there being something divine out there proved to be a challenge.

A world without a spiritual realm or deity seemed empty, pointless, as life had no meaning.  But after some time, I started to get my sense of wonder back. It seemed incredible and awe-inspiring to me, that of all of the billions of years that this earth has existed, that we are here for just a short time, to enjoy its vastness and infinite beauty.

For a while, I knew that I was an agnostic but I didn't really feel motivated to talk about it.  I'm still mostly closeted to this day and have only told three people from my past fundamentalist circles about my change in beliefs. I had no interest in becoming a blogger, or taking part in online discussions, but I started becoming curious about what led other people to leave their faiths, especially Christianity. Did they leave for the same reasons that I did? What is there stories?

My searching led me to the website, where I found some great people, many of whom had stories similar to mine, and some far worse.  It was a great place to unload, and share our stories and frustrations. My search for atheist and former Christian blogs also led me to this blog. I find the perspective here interesting, and it is a great insight into daily life in Canada.

I became a regular commenter here. Once, I made a rather long-winded comment, and joked that it should become a blog post in it's own right.  Godless Poutine made the suggestion that I should start my own blog because it was good therapy.  I considered the suggestion, but I really didn't know what I would blog about. I started the foundations for the blog in Blogger, merely as an experiment to see if I could do it, I figured if this doesn't work out I can delete it. I just started posting random observations on life from my perspective, I didn't think the blog would amount to much. I never believed that I would be able to keep going with new material for the blog, or that people would read it. I was wrong on both counts.

Jack Schaap.
One day, I had found out that my sister's former pastor, Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) minister Jack Schaap, had been arrested, and later plead guilty to sexual abuse charges. I started researching the IFB movement, and found that it was much like a onion, the more you peel back the layers, the worse it stinks.

I hadn't had much contact with the group since my childhood, and the horrible things that I was finding out about them in my research, I knew I couldn't keep silent. This group, which I had been a part of in the past, I was beginning to find out, is really just an organization of sociopaths, and much deserved the "cult" label that many of it's critics and former members gave it. This harmful organization needed to be exposed, and I had found my inspiration, my mission as a blogger.

Check out Sheldon's Bio Page or jump directly to The Ramblings of Sheldon.

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