Sunday, March 25, 2012

Random Bible verse of the Day: John 3:16

John 3:16 - Fuck doing good things; just believe!
Ok, I'll admit it, this isn't random at all.  No, I googled the most popular Bible verses and has a list of its top 100.  How could I resist?

And what verse sits atop this mountain of filth?  John 3:16 of course.

The verse, is short and sweet and christians seem to like it:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Aside from the fact that this is a completely evidence-free assertion, it strikes me as propaganda with a shallow message - believe and you'll live forever.  What about being a good person?

Well, perhaps Isaiah 64:6 can shed some insight:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags...
And just to make sure I've read the inspired work of God correctly, let's cross-reference Ephesians 2:8-9, which seems to shed some light on the issue of what gets you into heaven:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Oh ok so I guess Christianity isn't really about being moral or adding value to society.  That must explain why Christians are always talking about how you can't be moral without god.  Oh wait, no that doesn't even make sense.

But wait, Ephesians 2:8-9 says "not by works"...yet Ephesians 2:10 [yes, the very next sentence] says:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So now I'm all confused.  You are not saved by your "works", but god has created you to do predetermined "good works".  So no free will?  If not, then are we really free to meet the condition that John 3:16 lays out that "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life"?

If yes (we are free to believe and thus live forever), then is our free will constrained to our ability to have "faith", while our "good works" have been predetermined?

If no (we don't have free will), why does Jesus even bother lecturing us in John 3?  God has set the path for us to follow and we are incapable of deviation.  And if this is the case, why then does this supposedly benevolent god bother to create people who have been predetermined to not believe?  If the unbelievers are not free to choose whether to believe or not, yet they still get sent to hell, hat seems pretty sadistic to me.

The beatings will continue until morale improves!

Yet again, it seems, I have come to the conclusion that the bible is utterly worthless as a guide as to how to live one's life.  The contradictions and obfuscations are so thick, the only way to make sense of it is to invoke tortuously twisted logic, or accept that the Bible isn't the word of an omniscient being, but that of Bronze age politicians manipulating the masses for their own gain.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Reason Rally Success!

Reason Rally was today, and it was great fun for all.  Well, maybe not so much for the WBC, but that's another story.

Anyway, just a quick post to get the vids of some great speakers out there (I'll update as more are available). 

Richard Dawkins:

My personal favorite, former Westboro Baptist Church member, Nate Phelps:

Christina Rad, aka ZOMGitsCriss:

Sean Faircloth gave a passionate speech:

And Adam Savage (embedding was disabled...sorry!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reason Rally - Bad Religion Sound Check

I was able to go down to the National Mall today and check out the set up for tomorrow's Reason Rally, and I got to see Bad Religion, who will be performing tomorrow, do a sound check (video below).  I've never really listened to them, but they sounded really good.

This is the peak week for the DC cherry blossoms, so there were a ton of tourists on the Mall milling and quite a few stopped by to see what the music was for.  It was really quite interesting to hear people's reaction when they saw the big Reason Rally logo along with its sponsors, American Atheists, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science & Reason, Freedom from Religion Foundation, et al.

Here are a couple:

Middle aged woman upon seeing the logo for the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
<Breathlessly> Oh that's just horrible! Let's go.
Middle aged man to his teenage daughter while enjoying the music:
Well, I suppose the atheists have just as much a right to be here as anyone else.
A portly fellow probably in his 30s:
Huh, I always thought it [atheism] was just for a bunch of fat white guys sitting in their basements ranting on the internet.
Older man and his wife walking by, but then he notices the sign with Richard Dawkins' name:
Man - No shit, its Richard Dawkins!
 Woman - Who??
Man - You know, Richard Dawkins, the evlolutionist... oh man
Woman - What? You know him??
Man - Are you shittin me!?  Of course I do!
Woman - Yea right; do you send each other christmas cards or something??
Man - Yup and I've been hiding them from you...

Here's a clip of the Bad Religion sound check (audio isn't great, but you can still appreciate the music).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fund Planned Parenthood

Just for that I'm donating $100!
In a bout of vanity, I was checking out my humble blog when I came across this ad in the margin:

You can probably imagine, especial since I've suggested donating to Planned Parenthood, that I in no way support this ad.

So what to do about it?  I'm looking into my options with google, but I'm not too hopeful.

But really, I see this as an opportunity: you're going to put ads whose message I oppose on my website, then I'm going to do the opposite.

The sight of this ad has inspired me to donate $100 to Planned Parenthood (receipt posted below).

If you have the means, please consider a donation as well, however nominal.  I'm sure every bit helps.

Oh and here's a breakdown [pdf] of Planned Parenthood's annual expenses lest you are under the impression that all they do is perform abortions (not that that should matter - I'd just as enthusiastically support them).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random Bible Verse of the Day: Song of Songs (and Eroticism!)

I find this to be obscene.  Someone arrest Santorum.
Allow me a brief introduction to this episode of Random Bible Verse of the Day...

As I noted the other day, Rick Santorum, is on a crusade to eliminate porn.  Besides his evidence free assertions that porn has negative social outcomes, simply defining what constitutes as 'porn' is a huge stumbling block as there is tremendous variability in the nature of 'porn' such that at some point it becomes 'art' (presuming for the moment that 'porn' isn't 'art').  And at some other non-linear point, it becomes educational or research for science.  I would defy anyone to try to delineate the boundaries of 'porn'.

This got me thinking about society's aversion to what has, for some reason, been widely been defined as obscene.  Take the middle finger, for example.  We see other people's middle fingers every day and no one seems to get too bent out of shape.

But when it is only the middle finger that is exposed, we become quite offended - especially if directed at us personally.  And perhaps that is quite reasonable to take umbrage if personally directed toward you.  After all, it is the commonly understood meaning of the middle finger which conveys the sender's ill will toward the target.  That much is certainly understandable.

Yet, where I have trouble figuring out, is why society is so sensitive to 'the middle finger' in general.  Like this:

Guess where you can put this thumb!?!!

Quite racy, it is.

But why blur it out?  We all know what's going on.  Hell, the blog even tells us "...Chuck Cecil gave the finger to a ref..."

Its as if the actual image of the middle finger extended while the others are down will corrupt our brains...even though everyone that sees such a blurred out image is mentally reconstructing the image anyway!

If you were really serious about sheltering your audience from the indignity of having to see a middle finger and all of its vicious implications, you wouldn't show the blurred out shot or even mentioned that it happened [which is probably what China or Iran would do].

Its the same thing as The Game.

Don't think about Pink Elephants.  Seriously, stop thinking about Pink Elephants!!

I think I've made my point.

But not quite.

I write this post because I came across a sultry little Bible passage that caught my eye that goes by the name of Song of Songs.  Yup, its a whole book in the Bible.

It starts off relatively tame:
Take me with you and we'll run away; by my king and take me to your room.  We will be happy together, drink deep, and lose ourselves in love.  No wonder all women love you! (1:4)
Ok, maybe the imagery is rather startling for the Bible. Let's jump ahead to the good stuff:
The Woman - Wake up, North Wind.  South Wind, blow on my garden; fill the air with fragrance.  Let my lover come to his garden and eat the best of its fruits.
The Man - I have entered my garden, my sweetheart, my bride.  I am gathering my spices an myrrh; I am eating my honey and honeycomb; I am drinking my wine and milk.
The Women - Eat, lovers, and drink unitl you are drunk with love!
The Woman - While I slept, my heart was awake.  I dreamed my lover knocked at the door.
The Man -  Let me come in, my darling, my sweetheart, my dove.  My head is wet with dew and my hair is damp from the mist.
The Woman - I have already undressed; why should I get dressed again?  I have washed my feet, why should I get them dirty again?  My lover put his hand to the door, and I was thrilled that he was near.  I was ready to let him come in.  My hands were covered with myrrh, my fingers with lquid myrrh as I grasped the handle of the door.  (4:16 - 5:6)
Regardless of the various theologians interpretations of this book, and specifically this passage, there is no denying its erotic imagery.

So, I'm curious, even forgetting for the moment that this came from the Bible, if Rick Santorum is also interested in criminalize erotic poems, novels, or narratives?  If not, isn't the effect the same as visual 'porn': people are imagining sex acts.  (As an aside, I wonder if Santorum would, if he could, criminalize the thought of hardcore sex or softcore porn?).  If so, would Santorum criminalize the Bible given the passage above?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Let the GOP into Your Birth Canal

If you stopped having sex, maybe you wouldn't be so poor.
Rick Santorum and his religiously wacked conservative cohorts seem to be hell-bent on coming up with the most ridiculously ill-advised and/or stupid public policies.


This is perhaps the one piece of proposed public policy that I find the most outrageous:
Women in Arizona trying to get reimbursed for birth control drugs through their employer-provided health plan could be required to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason such as acne, rather than to prevent pregnancy.
Why the fuck should it matter for what medical reason a drug was prescribed?  Because the employer has religious objections to the use of contraception?  Why should society blithely accept an individual's or and organizations [are we really going down the Citizens United route where corporations can have religious convictions?] religious convictions?  How is this anything other than religious people finding clever ways to enforce their own paternalistic tendencies on other individuals' private lives?

And what problem, exactly, does this bill set out to solve?  The bill's sponsor, Rep. Debbie Lesko tells us:
government shouldn't be telling employers, Catholic organizations and mom and pop (businesses) to do something that's against their moral beliefs.
In other words:
government shouldn't be telling employers, Catholic organizations and mom and pop (businesses) to maintain employment of people that don't follow their religious doctrines in their private life if that goes against the employers moral beliefs.
This stupid, slutty, Satan bitch is starting to get it!
 More generally, why should society accede to the notion that protected religious practices include the imposition of religious values on others?

We shouldn't.  I don't.  You don't believe contraception is moral (or whatever)?  Fine, don't take contraception.  I'll tell you you're misguided and are potentially engaging in risky behavior on several levels.  But I won't tell you that you must take contraception.  Please extent that courtesy to the rest of society.


Now we move to the Doonesbury comic strip kerfuffle.

Around a dozen U.S. newspapers have raised questions about an abortion-related “Doonesbury” comic strip set for publication next week, and some will likely not run it, the syndicate behind the cartoon said on Friday.

The cartoon’s story line for Monday through Saturday focuses on a Texas law that requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women before the procedure, said Sue Roush, managing editor for Universal Uclick, the syndicate behind “Doonesbury.”
The law, which went into effect earlier this year, is intended to give pause to pregnant women before having an abortion and possibly reconsider their decision.
A similar bill was signed into law earlier this week by Virginia’s Republican Governor Bob McDonnell that also requires women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. . .
The Texas law “Doonesbury” is highlighting has proved controversial since lawmakers approved it last year.
It requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women, show and describe the image to them, and play sounds of the fetal heartbeat. Women can decline to view images or hear the heartbeat, but they must listen to a description of the exam.
You would think that with the internet being several decades old, newspapers would have learned that by essentially censoring this kind of commentary, they are only creating more news: that they are censoring content.

It is called the Streisand Effect.

The consequence is that the internet takes notice and becomes more even more interested in the content that was being censored, and thus why I am writing about this myself.  Pro-tip to would-be censorers, if you find something objectionable that everyone already knows about, don't censor it to avoid controversy.  By doing so, you're creating more controversy and thus more attention to something that you didn't want to get so much attention in the first place.  Your efforts are futile.

 I'll leave you with a comment posted to the Doonesbury forum by Andrea from Bay Area, CA [emphasis added]
What plans do politicians such as Mr. Santorum or Gov. Perry have to restore the dignity of these children? They devote a great deal of campaign and legislative time ranting about the sanctity of the embryo or fetus whilst berating gay kids (whither John 13:34? 1 John 3:17?) and vetoing bills that would fund school lunches and health care for children (fun fact: lacking health insurance is a major risk factor for death in children who become very ill). If these comic strips make people angry, they should. Thank you for having the courage to show that these are real women whose lives and privacy are being invaded. Anyone who cares about the sanctity of life should be angry; politicians such as Santorum, Perry, Brownback et. al. hatefully demean women while ignoring the very real needs of children who are no longer politically important because they are out of the womb.


Let's end with Rick's declaration of war against porn:
A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.
 Am I surprised that his post includes not one iota of evidence for this claim?  Hmm...  Why would we expect any citations for such a claim?  Certainly, this is the kind of assertion that just makes sense.  Right?  I'm sure his biases are completely independent of this claim.

And let's set aside his evidence-free claims for a moment.  Even if we grant that they are accurate for the sake of argument, there are certainly free speech implications associated with such a proposal to "vigorously enforce" obscenity laws.  Delineating between what is "obscene", art, and [yes] educational is not so easily determined.  There certainly isn't any objective standard that I'm aware of that would focus these blurry lines.

Welcome to the new stupid.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Random Bible Verse of the Day: (Hey) Jude

Hey Jude,  atheists ain't so bad.
Jude goes on a bit of a rant to warn his fellow believers of the evils of the godless.  It is an interesting book in that while it may (though I doubt it) accurately reflect the actions of his contemporary non-believers, it certainly doesn't reflect modern atheists. 

Let's have a look one sentence at a time:

(Jude 1:12-13)  They are like clouds carried along by the wind, but bringing no rain
Oh, you must mean people like Hector Berlioz, Percy Grainger, or Sergei Prokofiev.  Totally un-inspirational

They are like trees that bear no fruit, even in autumn, trees that have been pulled up by the roots and are completely dead
Yup, I know the type.  Surely you're referring to Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell or Isaac Asimov.  These jerks never contributed anything to society

They are like waves of the sea, with their shameful deeds showing up like foam
Of course, this couldn't possibly refer to Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Fallwell, Larry Craig [pdf], Ted Haggard, John Ensign, or Mark Sanford, etc

They are like wandering stars, for whom God has reserved a place forever in the deepest darkness
I actually think this is an apt simile; the bright minds of Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, Stephen Hawking, and Thomas Edison (yes, the inventor of the freakin-light bulb), are intellectual stars that are responsible for lighting up the darkness so promoted by rubes like Rick Santorum
Few people, religious or not, are as brilliantly prolific as those mentioned above, but non-believers make up a greater proportion of society than you might think.  Depending on how the question is worded, polls have found non-religious people constitute up to 15% of the US population.  And while they may not necessarily be re-defining physics, they are actively working to make society better.  Just google "atheist community service" and you'll find ample evidence of this fact.

And yet, we're still the least trusted and least electable demographic group in the US.  My personal feeling is that this is likely due in large part because the general populace doesn't personally know any atheists.  Atheists don't have a human face for them to relate to.  There's no personal relationship...that they know of.  There's a good chance, especially if you live in or near a large metropolitan area that you know at least a few atheists.  But the catch-22 of it is that they are probably likely to be reluctant to talk about their non-belief because religious people are so overwhelmingly dominant in the public discourse, which heavily contributes to non-believers not wanting to speak out, less they be rebuked and ostracized.

On a personal  note, when I began to talk about my lack of belief frankly with friends (as the topic came up), I was pleasantly surprised that so many friends were of the same general opinion on religion and the existence of god.

I think this highlights the importance of not hiding one's godless views: 1) there are more people than you think that are in the same boat and 2) if we are to ever hope of weakening religion' sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal, anti-intellectual grip on US society, it will require making ourselves known and promoting ourselves as the normal, moral, and concerned citizens that we are.

If you live in the Washington, DC area or are inclined to make the trip, the Reason Rally is being held on the National Mall on March 24th.  It should be a great opportunity to see the breadth of the movement, connect with other non-believers, and hear a great lineup of speakers.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Truly Offensive

So why am I writing this post?
You know what really pisses me off?  Atheists.

Talk about a nihilistic perspective.  I mean really, if you don't believe in God, what do you believe in?  Theyre's really no in-between about it.  You either glorify our creator of everything that is sacred by wearing your Sunday best and going to Church or you believe that life is just an accident with know greater purpose.

Just thinking about the mere fact that these people actually exit makes me sick to the stomach.  It is clear that Satan's grip on Our Great Country is only getting stronger; squeezing out the few remaining true Christians that actually remain and converting everyone else to hedonistic atheism.

While the're not busy denying the existence of are exultant Father, they're tearing down our traditional institutions of marriage by promoting same-sex marriage or fighting for women's "rights".  Its almost like theire on a mission to make the world free from are Father's rule.

Did I mention that just thinking about thare mere existence causes my migraines too flare up.

So when I saw the news that this ad was being submitted too appear on buses of the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) in Pennsylvania, I was overcome with anger, sadness, depression, bitterness, hate, and envy:

They're just so smug with that period at the end.

Repulsively repugnant. Absolutely abhorrent.  Unrepentantly unacceptable.  Flagrantly foul.

I about had a heart attack when I saw this.  (Now that I thought about it, I can't believe I actually wrote the a-word myself at the beginning of this post... they're, just cleaned it up.)

It's like they need all of GOD's-green-Earth to know there out their.

...and THINK OF THE CHILDREN!  My Lord, can you imagine all the questions a little one would have if they saw this ad????  How could I ever explain to them that are all powerful God can't stop Satan from spawning these leeches on society (or that leeches are part of God's Wonderful Creation!!?)?  The idea that there our people that don't have the same worldview as them would be devastating to there little hearts!

I don't know what this world is coming two.

But what I do know is this: whatever councilman or congress critter that supports such offensive expressions of free speech as this will not get my vote.  I will pray day and knight to The Lord to remove these disgraceful people from power.

Praise are Savor and God Bless.