Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sexual Revolution: How One Pedophile Destroyed America

I know most of my readers are strong advocates of the wall of separation between church and state, but if you ever had even the slightest doubt, read this article on World Net Daily. It's scary stuff.

They start with the laughable claim that Alfred Kinsey, the sex researcher who pulled us out of the dark ages of sexual repression, was a pedophile. From there, they build a case against every advance we've made about sex and sexuality since 1950, and conclude that our legal system should return to Bible-based laws!

Here is what these ultra-conservative religious nutcases would do:

"Pre-Kinsey, sex laws were based on biblical authority and considered an area of 'public rights,' meaning we recognized sex had civil consequences on society," Reisman said. "Post-Kinsey sex laws are based on 'scientific authority' and are considered 'private rights,' which claims sex has no social consequences."

In other words, if they were in charge, the government would have the right to peek into your bedroom and decide what's legal and what's not.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

City of Angels: Why is Christian Philosophy so Negative?

We watched an old Meg Ryan / Nicolas Cage movie last night called City of Angels. It was a decent romantic tragedy, though a bit slow moving. But it got me to wondering: why is Christian philosophy so profoundly negative? Why does happiness always come at a terrible price? Why is love a zero-sum game where if someone wins, someone else has to lose?

(Spoiler alert!) In City of Angels, Nicolas Cage plays Seth, an angel who watches over the good citizens of Los Angeles. Meg Ryan plays a heart surgeon (Dr. Maggie Rice) who is having a personal crisis over the fact that some of her patients die. Since Seth is an angel, he doesn't have human senses like touch, taste or smell. To make a long (literally) movie short, Seth falls in love with Maggie, discovers that angels can "fall to Earth" and become human, and so he gives up his immortality for love. After a good dose of reality (cuts, bruises, rain and getting robbed), he gets to spend one blissful night with Meg Ryan before she is hit by a truck and killed.

I totally don't get this. This is one of the weirdest things about Christianity: whenever something good happens, it has to be balanced by something tragic.

Seth the angel is immortal and he loves saving people from danger and comforting them when they die. He gets to hear the choir of Angels in the sunrise every morning. But God has given humans the greatest gift of all. Seth is denied the pleasures of touch, taste and smell. He can't feel a caress,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Christians Beaten by Atheists, Jews and Mormons on Biblical Knowledge

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life just published an interesting new survey about how much Americans really know about religions. Much to everyone's surprise, the atheists and agnostics came out on top!

The headlines are filled with stuff like Atheists Outdo Some Believers (NY Times) or Atheists and Agnostics Know More About the Bible than Religious (National Public Radio).

But not so fast! It turns out that Atheists didn't really win, it was more like Christians lost. The atheist/agnostic category got the best score at 20.9 out of 32 questions. But look at how it really went down:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

IHOP vs IHOP, Pancake House has No Sense of Humor!

It's IHOP versus IHOP in a battle of trademarks!

It seems the International House of Pancakes (IHOP-pancakes) is out to get the International House of Prayer (IHOP-prayer) for trademark infringement! A religious group in Kansas City made the foolish decision to use a long-established trademark as its own logo.

What the heck were they thinking? Did IHOP-prayer think maybe Jesus would intervene and convince IHOP-pancake to ignore this deliberated infringement? That maybe IHOP-pancake would just love to have their pancake house associated with a Christian prayer group?

Or maybe they didn't even bother to check the law books about trademark rights, brand-name dilution and so forth.

Whatever their reasons, it was a dumb move. The law is crystal clear: IHOP-prayer is going to get hammered on this one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tea Party: Living in an Alternate Reality

I finally figured the Tea Baggers out. The problem isn't that Tea Baggers are wrong or stupid. They're not an evil mob hell-bent on returning us to the dark ages, even though that's exactly what their agenda would achieve.

No, the problem is the internet and cable TV, which have allowed them to build a new reality, a different reality than the one in which the rest of us reside. They live in one world, we live in another. Unfortunately, our two worlds occupy the same physical space.

We used to interact with our neighbors. We went to a few churches and schools, shopped at our local stores, and maybe joined a club or took dancing lessons. We had to rub shoulders with our neighbors, many of whom had political views quite different from our own. We were immersed in the diverse mainstream political culture. It was unavoidable.

On top of that, our TV and radio stations numbered just a few, and they were required by law to provide access to all viewpoints. Our newspapers might be liberal or conservative, but they never were radical.

In other words, we couldn't avoid hearing our neighbors' viewpoints.

But in a weird twist of irony, the information age has spawned a new new cultural phenomenon: deliberate ignorance. Instead of two or three TV stations and one newspaper, now we can select from hundreds of sources for our information. Why is that bad? Because we can listen only to what we want to hear. We can choose to be ignorant of other views. We can find a news station, a web site, and an online group of friends who will do nothing but reinforce and even amplify our world views.

It doesn't matter how nutty, outrageous or even factually wrong our views are, we can find a dozen web sites of self-congratulatory friends who will supply us with "facts" to strengthen our position and with moral support to make us feel good about ourselves. Worse, we can avoid encountering anyone who might have a different view of the world.

The internet and information age were supposed to bring the world together,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Republican Hypocrisy: Christine O'Donnell's Witchcraft More Important than Politics!

Once again we're learning that Christianity is a virtual requirement for elected officials in the United States.

Christine O'Donnell, the Delaware candidate for United States Senate, is homophobic, she refuses to give interviews to anyone but Fox Noise, she recorded an anti-masturbation video that's downright creepy, and she was a media consultant to the sado-masochistic Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ. She's never served as an elected official, and in fact has no relevant political experience.

But none of these glaring problems would disqualify her from serving in the upper house of Congress of the most powerful country in the world. She can be a crazy, inexperienced, air-headed Sarah Palin clone and still be a viable candidate.

But when an episode of Bill Maher surfaced where O'Donnell admitted to dabbling in witchcraft in her youth, the proverbial smelly stuff hit the fan. Now even the likes of Karl Rove are calling her to task and questioning her viability as a Republican candidate.

Why is it that religion is still a requirement for office in the year 2010? This is the home of religious tolerance, the country where government and religion are supposed to be separate, where no religious test is allowed for any public office.

I find it deliciously ironic that Christine O'Donnell's own party is turning against her

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kicking the Pope Around ... Again.

After losing the California governor's race in 1962, Richard Nixon gave his famous reply, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore..." He blamed the media, rather than his own arrogance and poorly run campaign, for the loss.

When is Pope Benedict XVI going to give us the same pleasure? When is modern history's most unloved Pope going to do the right thing and resign his corrupt reign of indifference? Even Santa Claus wants Benedict to resign!

The Pope's remarks to a UK audience yesterday in which he compared modern atheists and secularists to Hitler are so pathetic it challenges my ability to make a witty remark. Doesn't he know about Godwin's Law? By mentioning Hitler, he automatically lost the debate and he doesn't even know it!

What seems to concern Benedict today? Could it be the safety of our children?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Zealand Earthquake: God Thanked ... for Building Codes!

Reader "JJJ" sends this little tidbit.

Most of Christchurch, New Zealand city officials were praising engineers and architects last week after the city was hit by a massive earthquake that shifted the ground by fourteen feet. In decades past, the city's building codes were updated and many buildings were reinforced to better withstand earthquakes, and this foresight paid off big time. There was very little loss of life; the retrofitting was a huge success.

But the Angelican Dean of Christchurch, Reverend Peter Beck, had a different view:
"Thank God for earthquake strengthening ten years ago."
Wait a second ... thank God for the building codes? What about the earthquake itself, wasn't that God's work?

Church Members and Gangs: Prove it with Tatoos!

A Christian Church in Anaheim, California (just a few blocks from where I was born!) has discovered what gangs have long known: you can get more loyalty from your members if they tattoo themselves with your gang sign. Or in this case, with a Christian tattoo. It seems the minister and several others promised that if 200 people came to an event they were holding, they would go under the needle and get tattoos.

As one man put it, "... two previous tattoos required years of reflection, but that the City Church ink was a no-brainer. 'I said, you know what, you're my pastor, got to show my support.'" I'll agree with that, it's a no-brainer!

I have a ... let's call him a really good friend ... who has some very elaborate tattoos, some of which are very Christian indeed. Unfortunately, this gentleman has become quite the atheist. He has a pretty laid-back attitude about it, his past is a still a part of him and always will be even though he's moved on. But it illustrates, so to speak, why body art might not be the place to write your girlfriend's name ... or your commitment to Jesus!

Here's a little clip for fun...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Scandal of Atheism

Atheists are facing a grave scandal today that threatens the very roots of atheism.

It is almost identical to the one that enveloped philosophy itself around the end of the nineteenth century. Back in the early 1900s, the question was this: How do I know that you really exist? Maybe you're just a dream of mine, maybe the whole world is a dream. I claim the external world doesn't exist. You say you're real, not just my dream? Prove it!

And so you try ... and it turns out to be impossible. No matter what you say, I can counter by pointing out that in my dream, that's what you'd be likely to say, that it's just my own mind dreaming up answers to my questions.

To most people, it seems like a silly question, but philosophers were very perplexed. Immanuel Kant famously called it "the scandal of philosophy" that philosophers couldn't even prove the existence of the external world.

But the great philosopher Martin Heidegger saw this "scandal" for what it was: a made-up problem. He famously wrote:
The 'scandal of philosophy' is not that this proof has yet to be given, but that such proofs are expected and attempted again and again.
Heidegger's view was that the question was essentially useless (not his words, but that's the idea) – one can make up all sorts of impossible questions, and the only scandal is when you take them seriously and waste whole careers, decades and centuries trying to find answers.

Atheism faces an almost identical scandal today. We've been sucked into a silly argument that has no answer,

Monday, September 13, 2010

James Corbett, Teacher Extraordinaire, Persecuted by Christians

Over the weekend I stumbled across a story right in my own back yard. It's about James Corbett, an extraordinary teacher who is being persecuted in California's courts by a bunch of Christians. His crime? He treats Christianity like any part of history, subject to genuine scrutiny and criticism.

Dr. James Corbett teaches Advanced Placement European History at Capistrano High School. Even his detractors admit that Corbett is a truly great teacher, and the Advanced Placement scores of his students confirm their opinion. Corbett's philosophy is simple:
"The only virtue for Socrates was "knowledge." He reached it by questioning the most deeply held beliefs of his students by which I mean all of Athens and ultimately all of us. What troubled the Athenians about Socrates, however, was not listed in the charges. His crime was that he prompted people to think. ... Every teacher who makes a student think takes the risk that he will be attacked by parents and others who see themselves as guardians of cherished political and religious myth."
Corbett goes on to explain how all students who sign up for his class know what they're getting into – they sign a paper saying the class is going to be provocative, their parents receive a letter, and they know from their fellow students. In fact, that's why many of them select Dr. Corbett's class: it's the best.

Apparently Chad Farnan, an average student who admitted that he hadn't even been doing his assignments, was fine with Corbett's study of European history, until they got to Christianity's role in that history. So Chad took a tape recorder to class (which is a violation of California law), and recorded a few two- to five-second snippets of Corbett's history lessons. Here are the gems:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Koran Burner Terry Jones was Kicked out of Germany

More scandals about Koran burner Pastor Terry Brown: He was kicked out of his German ministry in disgrace and fined by the government for lying about his education. You can read the details at The Guardian (UK).

Pastor Jones, Koran Burner, is also a Creepy Old Man

I guess we shouldn't be surprised to discover that Pastor Terry Jones, the man who plans to burn Korans on 9/11, is also a creepy old man. The Smoking Gun (a great resource for finding dirty laundry) found the DWOC Church Rulebook for the Dove World Outreach Center, and boy is it weird. It starts off with a bang:
"The goal of the Academy is for each student to develop a stabile [sic] lifestyle of Discipline in order to become a strong apostolic Fife [sic] Fold Minister..."
Ok, so maybe the man isn't good at spelling and grammar. So what? Maybe he's just a common guy trying to spread Jesus' word! Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and read on... (By the way, from here forward I'll skip the "sic", because there are just too many! Assume the mistakes are his, not mine.)
  • No back talking (pride), but asking for permission to speak
  • When being confronted concerning a bad attitude or any other issue repentance and apology is expected instantly!
  • Attitudes like pride, fear, resistance ... will be corrected instantly!
  • Given orders, can not be changed...
Ok, so maybe he's barely literate and he likes strong discipline. I mean, he's a minister, teaching the gospel to students, right?

Well, not exactly. It seems they want to control every part of the students' lives.
  • [Lunch] break ... is testing time
  • Sweets, cake and things like that are not allowed
  • No alcohol
  • No eating out in restaurants
  • Students will be put on the scale once a week to follow the tendency. Each student received his weigh goal, that must be reached, otherwise this category is failed.
Ok, so they're strict about diet. But surely they are family oriented, right? Wrong.
  • During Academy you are not allowed to visit family members or friends or receive visits.
  • ... wedding, funerals or Birthdays are no exception...
  • No phone calls.
  • Singles are not allowed to have romantic relitionships to the opposite sex.
  • Family member working on the property, the students are suppose to have a healthy distance. ... Concentrate on the work ... there should not be anytime being left for small talk anyway.
  • In order to obey God, we have to leave the family behind!
Ugh. This is the stuff cults are made of.

If I found one of my kids joining this cult,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Send Pastor Terry Jones to Afghanistan to Burn a Quran

I have the perfect solution for Pastor Terry Jones! Let's give him a ride to downtown Kabul in Afghanistan, and give him a Quran and a book of matches. Then we'll see just how committed to Christ and the Bible he really is!

I'll bet General Petraeus, who has strongly condemned Jones, would be happy to help out. Why, I'll bet Petraeus would love to give Jones a ride in a nice, fast jet straight from Florida to the front lines.

But maybe Petraeus doesn't want to rile things up in Afghanistan – who could blame him? So here's a better idea: Pakistan. It seems the United States Embassy in Pakistan has also condemned Jones for his self-centered, unpatriotic and foolhardy grandstanding. I'll bet they'd be glad to give him a ticket to Pakistan. The embassy could take Jones down to the center of Islamabad, hand him a Quran (they have a lot of Qurans in Pakistan) and a match, and let Jones do his grandstanding there!

It seems to me if Jones is really committed to Jesus and his Bible,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Creationists are "Surprised" That Convergent Evolution Works

I try to avoid commenting on anything from the "Discovery Institute" because any response lends legitimacy to their creationist drivel. But their latest attack on science is a subtle trick that once again relies on the ignorance of their readership.

Recently, scientists Christin, Weinreich (Brown University) and Besnard (Imperial College) discovered a fascinating side effect of evolution. Scientists have long known about something called convergent evolution, where species that evolve independently in different parts of the world end up looking remarkably similar. The tasmanian wolf (or thylacine, right) is a classic textbook case: it has remarkable similarities to North American and Eurasian wolves, yet it's actually a marsupial, related to the kangaroos.

The cause of convergent evolution is simple: a solution that works in one part of the world works everywhere. The traits that make wolves a successful predator in America also work for the thylacine in Australia.

Did you ever wonder why horses, cattle and antelopes and sparrows have eyes on the sides of their heads, while dogs, cats, owls and humans have eyes in the front? Simple: dogs, cats, owls and humans are predators, and they hunt horses, cattle, antelopes and sparrows. The prey animals need to have a 360-degree view because danger can be anywhere, while the predators need to see only the prey, and see it well. The stereoscopic front-facing eyes of predators converged (came about independently), as did the widely-spaced, 360-degree-view eyes of prey species.

Convergent evolution is a remarkable but well-understood part of the Theory of Evolution. But Christin et al reported on a remarkable evolutionary parallel that happens at the molecular level: in many cases the phenotype's convergent evolution (the eyes, teeth, organs or metabolic features that we can see) are accompanied by genetic convergent evolution. That is, the very same genes and gene sequences that control something in one species are found to control the same thing in another species!

That was quite surprising ... scientists had always assumed that when traits evolved separately and in complete isolation, there would be no genetic similarity. Yet there it was.

And that's where the trouble began. The Discovery Institute creationists seized on the word "surprising" in the scientists' article and started waving it around,

Friday, September 3, 2010

1001 Inventions: The Once-Great Islam's Great Decline

Nations and cultures in decline seem to revel in their past greatness. In fact, if you find a culture that's loudly proclaiming its past accomplishments, it's a sure bet that the culture is in decline. Young people look forward, old folks look backwards, and so it is with cultures and nations. Just go to the British Museum and you'll see what I mean: the country that once stretched around the world now rules an island, but loves to bask in its history.

Look at any culture that lauds its past, and you'll find a culture that's been defeated, beaten back, or overrun. You'll see a culture that's lost its greatness, and now can only remember its past.

Apparently this is true of religion too, and Islam is giving us a wonderful illustration. A new exhibit, 1001 Inventions: Science in Muslim Lands, is glorifying the "Golden Age" of Muslim scholars. During this period, from the mid-8th to mid-13th century, Islamic scholars led the world in

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Helping Christians Push Back Against the Gay Agenda in the Classroom

Wow, it seems that Christians, who vastly outnumber all other faiths and atheists combined, are a persecuted minority in America! Those darned gay activists are managing to kick Christians around the block and force their gayness on everyone.

Today's underdog is Focus on Family. In this amazing video, we learn just how sinister the homosexual agenda is!
We've got some back-to-school tools that will help you identify and push back against the gay agenda in the classroom.

If there's one characteristic trait of the gay agenda in the public school system it's this: it's sneaky! ... It's designed to look like something else to make it hard for parents to realize what's going on. ... Homosexual activists have become very adept ... at sneaking in these homosexuality lessons into things with innocent sounding titles. ... We've seen teachers give books to students in the name of 'diversity lessons,' and let me just mention that the gay activists have become very adept at using ... cute little pictures of furry animals ... to familiarize [children] with the whole idea of same-sex parenting and gay marriage.

That's the key to this whole thing. We need to be accepting and embracing and tolerant, but there's not a lot of tolerance and embracing and accepting of Christian values and the families that want their children raised with Christian values.
Do I have this right? They're facing discrimination and intolerance ... because they're not allowed to discriminate against gays? Yes, that's what they're saying: its anti-Christian discrimination when Christians aren't allowed to discriminate.

What's really scary about this video is how they've completely twisted their hatred of homosexuality into a paranoid delusion. Nobody, nobody, is pushing homosexuality on anyone.