Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mormonism is Wrong

There's a persistent Mormon named Seth Rogers who is well known to atheists bloggers. Criticize the Mormon religion in an atheist blog, and Seth is right there to set you right. Three months ago I wrote a blog about the Mormon Church's immoral stance on homosexuality, and the debate is still going on.

After I wrote my final response in that thread, I realized it was blogworthy, not something that should be buried in a long tirade of Mormon apologetics, so here it is.

Mormon apologists make the classic mistake that's repeated over and over by religious apologists everywhere: they assert that the burden of proof is on the non-believer.

Mormonism makes a staggering number of amazing claims that defy both common sense and the historical and archaeological records.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Shut Up Pesky Creationists

This talk by Dr. Ken Miller is really amazing both in how clearly it refutes creationism / intelligent design, and also because it illustrates the uphill battle that science faces against religion.

Science is hard. This is highly technical stuff, and it is beyond the grasp of the average American. It's a complex, technical argument, but worse, it takes five minutes of paying attention. How can Dr. Miller convince a nation that thrives on sound bites and watered-down science to pay attention?

Happily, my audience has a longer attention span. Enjoy, it's great stuff!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Incredible Stonewalling by Pope to Protect Pedophiles

Will it ever stop, or is the Roman Catholic Church simply doomed to die of stupidity? The latest report is just outrageous: The Pope is rebuking one of his cardinals for speaking out against pedophilia.

Apparently the Pope is more concerned with his authority than he is with children's lives and well being. Cardinals aren't allowed to criticize each other, only the Pope gets to do that. So when one cardinal broke this rule and criticized another for blocking a probe into allegations of child abuse, what did the Pope do? Did he join in the criticism, thank the cardinal for bringing it to his attention, and root out the sick, corrupt priests, bishops and cardinals who were sodomizing little kids?

Of course not! Instead he issued a rare rebuke of one of his cardinals – the whistleblower who is trying to help the abused children.

It's clear where the Pope's priorities are: protecting his authority is paramount. Protecting kids doesn't seem to be of interest.

Whooping Cough: Religion's Deadly Denial

Horrible memories of whooping cough were brought back to me last week when a friend sent me a link about a new whooping cough epidemic in California (CNN, too). I actually contracted whooping cough as an adult, and it was one of the most horrifying experiences of my life.

And it was triggered by religious ignorance and my own ignorance of the disease.

My whooping cough started as a mild cold with an annoying cough. But before long, it was a vicious, deep, wracking, relentless cough. My throat felt like fire, my head pounded from the pressure, my ribs nearly broke from the force, and I tore the muscle in my diaphragm. And not just for a day or two ... this went on for weeks. I took so much codeine cough syrup that it made me slightly psychotic and I started raging at my young children for the tiniest offense. I could barely work even though I was working full time at home. I only slept an hour or two each night. The cough didn't completely go away for over two months, and even six months later I would occasionally be wracked with another fit of deep coughs.

I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially a little baby. But that's exactly what the religious anti-vaccination nutjobs are doing.

These epidemics happen from time to time around America, and they are one hundred percent the fault of religious fanatics who go on anti-vaccination crusades.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Anti-Rationalism Meme is confirmed by science

One of my favorite topics (I wrote about it in The Religion Virus) is called The Anti-Rationalism Meme. It's the idea that faith is more powerful than reason, that when there is a conflict between your mind and heart (more scientifically, your logic and your emotions), that faith must ultimately win.
"Divine revelation, not reason, is the source of all truth."
– Tertullian of Carthage (150-225 AD)
Strong words indeed. Basically the Anti-Rationalism meme declares that all of physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology and archeology can be dismissed out of hand if you believe something is true.

So I couldn't pass up this headline: When science clashes with belief? Make science impotent. The article describes some clever social experiments where they investigated people's willingness to discard scientific evidence or dismiss science as irrelevant.

The basic problem is that everyone wants to feel well educated and modern. They want to think of themselves as enlightened and informed. You can't just dismiss science as wrong and still get any respect. So science still rules the roost when it comes to respect.

And yet ... what do you do when you want to believe something that science says can't be true?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Montana College Still Holds State-Sponsored Prayers

Montana State University-North doesn't get it. I thought colleges were supposed to be places of higher learning. Don't they teach history and constitutional law there? Don't they read newspapers?

Court after court has ruled that state-funded schools can't sponsor prayers, Montana State University-North wants to hold school-sponsored prayer. They want to keep their Christian prayer (yes, they say it's non-denominational, but we all know it's Christian) in their graduation ceremony, and never mind that many of their students are atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.

Why, in this day and age, do Christians feel they can use the state or federal government to force their prayers on other people? Is there some reason that their private prayers and their prayers in church are ineffective? Doesn't God listen

Oldest Known Paintings of Catholic Saints Include Naked Boys!

This one is too funny to let pass.
ROME – Twenty-first century laser technology has opened a window into the early days of the Catholic Church ... the first known icons of the apostles Peter and Paul. Vatican officials unveiled the paintings Tuesday, discovered along with the earliest known images of the apostles John and Andrew in an underground burial chamber ... The images, which date from the second half of the 4th century, were uncovered using a new laser technique that allows restorers to burn off centuries of thick white calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the brilliant dark colors of the paintings underneath. ... [The] gem is on the ceiling, where the four apostles [Paul, Peter, John and Andrew] are painted inside gold-rimmed circles against a red-ochre backdrop.

The ceiling is also decorated with geometric designs, and the cornices feature images of naked youths.
Gosh, it seems like modern Roman Catholic pedophile priests are just following a long and honorable tradition, started by St. Paul himself!

Ok, I know that ideas about nudity and the human body were much more natural back in Roman times,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Best Christian Headline Ever: "Sarah Palin's Breasts are Real"

This may be the best Christian headline in history: Sarah Palin's Breasts are Real; Not So With Growing Number of Faithful.

How can you top that! Last week the web was abuzz with rumors that Palin had a boob job, which would have been quite a disaster for her political image.

Most Christians view boob jobs with a wink and a smile. As Dolly Parton said, "Why not?" Dolly was wonderful for her no-nonsense philosophy: if it makes a woman feel better and more self confident, what's wrong with that?
I have got little feet because nothing grows in the shade.
– Dolly Parton
But some of Sarah's hard-core supporters (no, not that kind of support!) don't share Dolly Parton's humorous and kind philosophy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jon Stewart Skewers YOU AND ME for Oil Spill

The BP oil spill catastrophe isn't my usual topic, but yesterday Jon Stewart took on America – YOU AND ME – about our dependence on oil. Everyone in America, including you, should watch this video. It's funny, but really, really scary.

What have we been doing for all these decades? Watch at least the first four minutes of this. If this doesn't wake you up ... well, maybe that's the problem!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday, June 17, 2010

State Department Angers Baptists by Recognizing Transgendered Choice

Our friends over at Liberty Council ("Restoring the Culture by Advancing Religious Freedom...", or so they say) are severely annoyed. It seems the U.S. State Department has decided to recognize transgendered individuals by changing their passport to reflect the reality of their gender change.

It makes sense to me. A guy walks up to some customs inspector in a third-world country, and his passport says he's a woman? Or vice versa? That makes no sense, and only invites problems, discrimination and persecution.

But Matt Barber at Liberty Council feels the passport change reflects support for a 'gay' agenda! Not only that, Matt has the right solution: cure these homosexuals of their gender confusion.
"What these people need is to be steered to counseling where they can be counseled in such a way that their false gender identity comes into line with their gender reality."
In other words, these people are sick and need to be cured, brought back to the gender that God gave them. Of course, if one follows that argument,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Would you rather be happy or know the truth?

Far too much of religious faith is based on this scary fact: People believe what makes them happy, not what's true. Worse, they even admit it proudly.

There was a great discussion yesterday over at Unreasonable Faith called Thoughts of a Dying Atheist. One exchange summarized one of my favorite topics:
John C [a Christian]: So sad, such utter darkness and despair. “Nothingness” is not the truth, is not the offer that the Truth (Himself) makes you, its far better and its…true.

Ty: No despair. And nothing is sadder than delusion masquerading as hope. You’ll wind up in exactly the same place all the rest of us will, you’ll just have wasted the one life you had first. What could be sadder than that?
Ty hits the nail on the head. I'd rather live the truth, however sad, than to live a lie. Darwin himself said it best:
A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, a mere heart of stone.
In other words, what we want to believe doesn't matter. We have to seek truth, no matter how unpleasant. In my mind, this is the single most important sentence that Darwin ever wrote. It is the very foundation of the scientific method, the very thing that made all of Darwin's other discoveries possible.

Religion works in the exact opposite direction from Darwin's advice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Forgiveness From Christian School

Is Southland Christian School trying to encourage lying and abortions? It sure seems like it.

The Christian school in St. Cloud, Florida fired teacher Jarretta Hamilton because she became pregnant three weeks before her wedding date. When she asked for maternity benefits, someone at the school asked her when she'd become pregnant and she told the truth. They promptly fired her for "fornication" – sex outside of marriage.

Now I may not be a Christian, but I grew up in Christian society and have studied it extensively. Their concept of confession and forgiveness always struck me as peculiar, but it's their way. If you make a mistake and are sorry, you make amends, you're forgiven and it's over and done. Right? So you'd think if Mrs. Hamilton was honest about her mistake, the Southland Christian School would applaud her honesty. If she confessed her sins to Christ and asked for forgiveness, He would forgive her, so you'd think the school would do the same.

Apparently not.

And consider the fact that Mrs. Hamilton didn't get an abortion to cover up her fornication.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Africa's Vicious CHRISTIAN Terrorist Army

Americans like to vilify radical Islam, to blame Islam for all of the war, terrorism and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. How often have you heard about how much better Christians are than Muslims? How many times have listened to Muslims defending Islam as a religion of peace after Christians called it a terrorist front?

But did you know that one of the most evil organizations in Africa is a Christian terrorist army? The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), founded on the Ten Commandments and Christian principles, is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, for conscripting thousands of underage girls as prostitutes for their soldiers, for abducting thousands of young boys and forcing them to fight, and for the massacre of thousands of civilians in a series of senseless attacks on villages, usually by hacking them to death with machetes.

Any Christian who knows the history of the LRA will immediately jump up and say, "They're not real Christians!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Evolution Predicts: Benedict Will Dig Catholic Church's Grave

The Roman Catholic Church is falling victim to one of the best-understood aspects of Darwin's evolution – sexual selection. They're becoming a self-perpetuating failure.

Sexual selection is one of the most interesting and weird aspects of evolution. I'll explain using an example. Suppose some women, due to random genetic variations, just happen to like men with unusually large noses. Who will they marry? Probably men with large noses. Now think about the children of these unions: They'll inherit the large noses from their fathers, and they'll inherit their mother's fondness for large-nosed men. So at the next generation, and on down through their descendants, men with small noses won't have very good luck, and men with larger and larger noses will be favored.

We see this all the time in nature. The tailfeathers of peacocks and birds of paradise, the huge antlers of moose and the elaborate dances of fruit flies are all excellent examples. We even find it in ourselves. For example, a woman's shapely figure is purely "for show." Other great apes such as chimpanzees and gorillas have no trouble producing milk without large breasts. And we men have genitals that are something like four times the size, relative to our body mass, of the other great apes. It's purely for show, and has nothing to do with our ability to have sex. The other apes do it with much smaller "equipment."

What does this have to do with the Roman Catholic Church? Everything.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jon Stewart skewers Glenn Beck on Beck's Israel Lies

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to watch Jon Stewart skewering Glenn Beck about the Israel ship attack.
Beck shows the video of the Israeli commandos being attacked while boarding the blockade-busting ship from Turkey, and then tries to claim that Fox News is the only network "willing to show" Israel's side of the controversy. "Turn on any media out let, other than this one. They're not going to show you this!"

Stewart then goes on to show virtually EVERY other news network airing that video, including MSNBC, before Fox News!

What a hoot!

I guess in addition to being in the Liar's Club and the Hypocrites Club, Glenn Beck now gets to join an exclusive club of his own, the Dumb Reporters Who Don't Check Their Facts Club.

Of course, real reporters will object to Glenn Beck being included in their ranks. It reminds me of the old joke:
The Potato Princess came home one day and announced to the Potato King and Queen that she was engaged! To Dan Rather of 60 Minutes! She was very excited, but the King instantly put an end to her joy. "Why, you can't marry him! You're a royal potato, and he's just a commentator!"
Ok, dumb joke. But Beck is so annoying. Why can't conservative news networks get real, honest conservatives? Remember William F. Buckley? I admired him even though I disagreed with just about everything he ever said. Oh, for the good ol' days when there were conservatives worth arguing with.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Rapture: Immorality Disguised

Do Christians believe the world will end, that we don't need to plan for the future?

A friend of mine once came into some money and decided to completely gut and remodel his house. To celebrate, he held the biggest, wildest party you've ever seen, and told everyone "Don't worry, I'm remodeling, trash the place!" He even provided plenty of beer and pretzels, and even spray paint for graffiti on the walls. It was quite a party. But even he was shocked at the damage his friends caused. It went beyond spray paint and spilled beer – people got violent and really tore the place up.

The other day I "overheard" a couple of Christian friends of mine on Facebook discussing some esoteric theological details of the rapture, the idea that some day soon Jesus will return and all Christians (dead and alive) will be gathered together to meet Christ on his return to Earth. They were contemplating what the various Bible verses mean: is rapture a worldwide event or something that happens to each person? Is it coming soon or is it some far-future event? There are dozens of these confusing and unanswerable questions about the rapture.

I think they overlooked the most important aspect of the rapture. The very idea of a rapture, that the world will end, makes Christians immoral. It's just like my friend's house: if you think the end is near, there's no reason to take care of anything. Trash the place! Use it up! Throw it away!

James G. Watt, who was Secretary of the Interior under President Ronald Regan, once famously told Congress,

Monday, June 7, 2010

Most Incredible Prophecy: Incredible Horse Hooey

I obtained a copy of The Most Incredible Prophecy via an inappropriate proselytizer – a doctor who forces it on her HMO patients! That's unethical, but I figured as long as I had the video it might make good blog material. So I sat down with my Coke and notepad for a good study ...

It's so bad I couldn't even watch it to the end. I hereby nominate the producers and writers to The Liar's Club. It's incredible all right. Incredibly bad science.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Are Americans Any Better Than Terrorists?

The ultimate test of a civilized people is not how they act when things go well. It's easy to be kind, fair, charitable and forgiving when there's no war, the economy is strong, and the weather is great.

No, the real test of a civilized people is how they behave when the chips are down. Do they turn mean when attacked? Do they forget about forgiveness when someone they love is hurt? Are Constitutional rights forgotten when vengeance is needed?

The other day I saw this posted on a Facebook page. WARNING: This is graphic and shows a man dying.

The video itself is shocking enough. I don't care who it is, watching a man die should never be funny. Even our enemies are human beings, and at the least we should mourn the tragedy that made this man want to kill us.

But what's really disturbing are the comments, both on the YouTube page and on the Facebook page where I saw it. People think this video is funny. There are comments like, "Hahahaha" or "LOL!" or "He deserves it the f---er!".

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

God: The Ultimate Wife Beater and Child Abuser?

Why is God like an abusive spouse or parent?

This isn't a trivial question or a joke. A couple days ago I had one of those "Aha!" moments in which I realized there is an incredible parallel between how religion works and how abusive men keep their victims in line.

Read the following statements, and see what you think. Can you tell God from a wife/child abuser?

Victims feel unworthy.Christians feel unworthy.
Victims feel guilty.Christians feel guilty.
Victims blame themselves for things they didn't do.Christians blame themselves for things they didn't do.
Victims feel that when bad things happen to them, they're being punished.Christians feel that when bad things happen to them, they're being punished.
Victims feel responsible for the abuser's anger and unhappiness.Christians feel responsible for God's anger and unhappiness.
Victims want to appease their abuser.Christians want to appease God.
Victims get huge rewards from a tiny morsel of approval from the abuser.Christians get huge rewards from a tiny morsel of approval from God.
Victims have an inexplicable love for and attachment to the abuser.Christians have an inexplicable love for and attachment to God.
Victims reject advice from anyone who doesn't like the abuser.Christians reject advice from anyone who doesn't like God.
Victims claim that their relationship with the abuser is normal and healthy.Christians claim that their relationship with God is normal and healthy.

Now try it for God vs. the abuser...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Hypocrite's Club: Glen Beck Attacks Obama's Children

Last week I wrote about The Liar's Club, people who are willing to lie for their political viewpoint. Glenn Beck made it into that club with no dissenting votes.

Well, today he's joining the rarefied strata of society of people who belong to both the Liar's Club and the Hypocrite's Club! Congratulations, Glenn, it's quite an accomplishment. After making a huge stink about how the media should leave politicians' children alone, Glenn spent over four minutes insulting the intelligence and education of Malia Obama, the President's eleven-year-old daughter.

We're not talking about a passing joke. We're not talking about a mild insult. We're talking about an extended conversation filled with cruel, satirical imitation and insults.