Friday, October 31, 2008

Gotta love Christian "charity": Dungeon Master's edition

Brought to my attention by a Dungeons and Dragons-themed web-comic comes news that this year's GenCon (read: nerd-related event) decided to donate some money to the late Gary Gygax's favorite charity: Christian Children's Fund. I think you know what is coming...

Apparently, this particular charity never got the memo that it is no longer the 1980's. Hysteria over the evils of roleplaying games is not mainstream anymore, and most people no longer entertain the notion that there is Satanic conspiracy behind every corner. Basically, this is not Jack Chick's America. But, Christian Children's Fund was unaware, so they refused to take the $17.000 that they was given to the charity by people who are clearly trying their damndest to worship Satan through dice rolling and $30 rulebooks. Which is, apparently, the fast track to becoming a real 17th level wizard.

The money was promptly given to a less insane organization, who was not willing to let their inane ideological preconceptions to get in between people donating money, and frickin' children who need the money to get the bare necessitites. I now have reason to despise those smultzy commercials they put on T.V. all the more, now that I know how willingly they throw away cash, and children's lives, in order to maintain ideological purity. Morons.

Fearmongering? Nahhh...couldn't be...

Oh noez, Obama iz radical!!!!1!!

But of course, throughout history when dangerous, radical men have offered themselves up for leadership, their moderate supporters have rationalized their early support by hoping that the dangerous man is really a sensible man like them and doesn't believe some of those wild things he has said to his more fervent followers.

But as the campaign clock ticks down to its last days and hours, prudent people have to consider the possibility that beneath that easy manner and calming voice is the pulsating heart of a genuine man of the radical left.

What "wild things"? "Dangerous" how? Doesn't the "radical left" (per definition of "radical" that pertains to potential calls to violence) mostly consist of, I dunno, PETA? Your innuendo is weak, child.
(Obama) was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better.
Awesome! Why should I care that Obama can mindrape people?

The agitator's job, according to Alinsky, is first to bring folks to the 'realization' that they are indeed miserable, that their misery is the fault of unresponsive governments or greedy corporations, then help them to bond together to demand what they deserve, and to make such an almighty stink that the dastardly governments and corporations will see imminent 'self-interest' in granting whatever it is that will cause the harassment to cease. "In these methods, euphemistically labeled 'community organizing,' Obama had a four-year education, are complaining that he is teaching people how to protest against perceived injustice? Wow. Is your problem with this that they didn't just lie down and accept their lot in life, that they want to have a government that is actually beneficial to the general populace, or that they didn't use weaponry to make their displeasure known? Seriously, I would like to know.
But those accurate, in context words of Obama must raise in the mind of any reasonable person the suspicion that Obama's heart and soul is dangerously close -- if not fully seized of -- a Marxist (or perhaps Marxist Christian liberation theology) view of human and economic relations.
LOLWUT? He said that the Warren Court wasn't too radical because it didn't deal with redistribution of wealth, said that redistribution of wealth isn't a practice that the federal government was designed to do, and that whatever redistribution we need needs to be done at a local, grassroots level. If merely mentioning money changing hands outside of market transactions, and that we have a major problem when it comes to wealth distribution that cannot be resolved through free market activity alone, counts as Marxism, I would hate to know what you call actual Marxists.
An envious world smells a momentarily vulnerable America. The political beneficiary of Republican failure believes our Constitution is fatally flawed. He may be a committed Marxist. And if he held the presidency for four years, it would be the longest stretch that he ever held a full-time job.
"Envious world"? Conceited of you. They are not so much envious, as pissed that we are arrogant enough to assume that every problem they have with us is due to envy. Obama thinks that the Constitution has one flaw, in that it does not explicitly mention methods of dealing with market activity. And he is not a committed Marxist. The smear machine is being brought up to 11. They are in a pinch. Please...please...don't mess this up America!

A Very Merry Halloween!

Just a taste of my favorite part of the holiday: delving into the strange and supernatural for fancy alone. Enjoy.

Pick your favorite (mine is probably the picture with chess pieces).

Unintentional Hilarity is Hilarious

This video is a youtuber's attempt to make a similar themed McCain ad even more explicit in its accusations, and even more dramatic. The result is popping Obama's head onto Communist propaganda posters while some dramatic plays in the background. All spurred by Obama daring to suggest that the government should do something to help out the poor. You couldn't get a better parody, even one that was actually designed as a parody!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

These are the issues?

Who would've guessed that religious groups would go around telling you what you should fret about when making your choices at the voting booth? This is unprecedented, people!
It helps you avoid choosing candidates who endorse policies that cannot be reconciled with moral norms that used to be held by all Christians.
Did white hoods, dog tags, and a spotless kitchen just flash into anyone's mind, or was that just me?
But some issues concern “non-negotiable”moral principles that do not admit of exception or compromise... No one endorsing the wrong side of these issues can be said to act in accord with the Christian faith.
Until, inevitably, the moral zeitgeist of our culture shifts beyond your reach, and you collectively try to change your position on certain parts of scripture to once again fit harmoniously with modern society through a nice, wholesome application of selective interpretation.
Intrinsically evil actions are those which fundamentally conflict with God’s law and can never be deliberately performed under any circumstances. It is a serious sin to deliberately endorse or promote any of these actions.
So what? You're frickin' Christian! Vote for the puppy rapist, and repent by mumbling sorrowfully to Jesus and giving yourself a few lashes. God's law means crap to most of you people unless it means that you get to tell other people how they should behave.
Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide.
As is killing in self defense, the death penalty, and any form of military violence. Except, you know, the victims of that kind of homicide can feel pain, and leave families and friends behind.!!!
Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest,the fault is not the child’s, who should not suffer death for others’ sins.
It is true that, from the perspective that abortion=murder, it doesn't make sense to make it permissible when the pregnancy is not arrived at through willingness or fault of the mother. But, yeah, when you damn nuance from the outset, that's to be expected.
Often disguised by the name “mercy killing,”euthanasia also is a form of homicide. No person has a right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person.
OBJECTION! While I agree that no one has the "right" to take the life of any "innocent" "person", I do not agree that people have no right to take their own life. Seriously, what the f$#% are you going to do to stop them? It's their life, their body, and they can die if they want to, how they want to.
In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person.
So says someone with the privilege of having not known the suffering involved. Euthanasia not prompted by the explicit wishes of the recipient is wrong. Helping someone end their own waning life in order to avoid excessive methods of preservation, or just to avoid having to spend weeks, months, or years in agony is hardly "intrinsically evil", especially if you think that they are off to go dancing with the angels afterward.
Human embryos are human beings. It is grossly immoral to kill embryonic humans in order to use their bodies as medical consumables
Sing along with me. (Ahem...NSFW).
Recent scientific advances show that often medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells can be developed by using adult stem cells instead.
Yes. Very recent advances, and it is still a most less efficient, much more costly method of going about the experimentation.
Every child has the right to be born of a father and a mother. Human cloning violates God’s design by trying to create a child with only a genetic father or only a genetic mother.
You're just making shit up now, aren't you?
True marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
You all knew it was coming. "No!!1 Not teh gayz!!!" makes it first appearance.
Legal recognition of any other union as “marriage” undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in an objectively immoral arrangement.
How does broadening the definition of marriage "undermine" marriage anymore than it already has been when you guys make it little more than an indefinite term sex contract? High divorce rates, prompted by the religious tendency to oblige people to get married before giving one another a "test drive" (wink wink), as well as the impracticality of marriage and tendency to cohabitate in lieu of it, has done far more to undermine marriage than allowing two non-straight people to marry ever could. As for "objectively immoral", I respond: "ha".
Our society will not escape unscathed if it undermines true marriages by pretending that homosexual unions are equivalent to what God designed.
You see, the problem with your thinking here is this: God has nothing to do with anything! "True marriages", legally, have nothing to do with your religious ceremonies or perspectives. They are secular contracts, legal unions, a bond between two people like those that have existed in societies far before your religion, and in countries before Abrahamic faiths ever haunted the dreams of small children and innocent young goats. As for "God's design", also irrelevant from the perspective of a society that doesn't/shouldn't give a damn about what you think God's design is.
Do not just vote based on your political party affiliation, your earlier voting habits, or your family’s voting tradition. Years ago, these may have been trustworthy ways to determine whom to vote for, but today they are often not reliable. You need to look at the stands each candidate takes. This means that you may end up casting votes for candidates from more than one party.
OMG! Nuance! Bipartisanship! Knock me over with a feather! (I guess it is kind of mitigated by the fact that they are bipartisan about issues, only when voting for the person that best meets their religious criteria. So...yeah...).
Do not vote for candidates who are righton lesser issues but who will vote wrongly on key moral issues. The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.
This would actually make sense if your "right to life" wasn't exclusive to citizens of the womb. I'm afraid that only established, conscious life is worth fretting over, and the best way to do that is by opposing war, having a fair justice system, a working health care and educational system, a good economy and financial security for the already alive. Preventing suffering and making life worth living should be a goal above and beyond making sure that we don't interfere with the birthing process and are forbidden from helping people die with dignity. It's the irony of your position: you adamantly protect "life" by insuring that our actually lives are worse.
Unfortunately, today many Christians have not educated their consciences adequately regarding key moral issues.
Well, that was my daily dosage of irony.
A properly informed conscience will never contradict Christian moral teaching.
Man, do I have some rape questions for you.
Some issues allow for a diversity of opinion, and Christians are permitted leeway in endorsing oropposing particular policies. This is the casewith the questions of when to go to war andwhen to apply the death penalty.
Mostly, because your God is a warmonger, and you are a religion that is disturbingly obsessed with inflicting punishment (ironic, given Jesus's focus on forgiveness). Which is, of course, the only reason why the discussion of war and the death penalty (despite being "murder") qualifies as a "negotiable" topic. Interpretation. In time, the above will also have to fall into this same morally ambiguous realm, unless you collectively wish to give up any illusions of credibility.

Sigh. Despite being dreadfully typical when it comes to these topics, at least the pamphlet doesn't outright tell how to vote. It just implies to not vote for those filthy abortion, gay-marriage supporters. Obviously, not standard of any political party I am aware of...

Cyber Piles of Death

Just added a blog list to sites that I frequent to decrease my dependence on my favorites menu, and added a playlist containing approximately 200 songs that appeal to my tastes, and only mine.'re welcome (?).

Oh, and only one of you bothered to predict the manner in which you are going to die? Weak...

Though the person who did vote had good taste. If it's a death good enough for Elvis, it's good enough for all of us.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is this a Free Speech Zone?

Keith Olbermann and Bill O' Reilly make their music debut.

Here's to three months until a temporary reprieve.

Oh, and while I'm making crappy video posts, might I add: we're all going to Hell.

[Note: neither video is technically work safe. Then again, this entire blog might not qualify. I don't bother going into those details...]

Who would've guessed it.

And this is why I support people getting into relationships with people of different religious faiths. Wouldn't want to segregate ourselves out of a pool of readily available and willing partners, now would we? Now, armed with this burst of insight, I am off to church. Perhaps I should go to Jesus camp this summer as well...

Evolution, Science, and Atheism.

On the subject of a very peculiar question ("does evolution imply atheism"), I must answer an emphatic "no". Evolution, in of itself, has no relevance to religion, gods, the divine, the supernatural, or anything else beyond the biological descent of lifeforms. When your particular idea of god is solely dependent on a specific origin of life that is contradicted by evolutionary theory, than that deity shouldn't have stuck its feet where it didn't belong, and can be rightfully decimated for daring to tread where science has clearly shown the error of your ways. Otherwise, gods whose applicable creation stories, if any, do not overlap with evolutionary theory are left intact, and as inconsequential as ever, comfortably beyond the realm of objective verifiability.

And, then the broader question of whether science itself implies atheism is similar. If the god's descriptions do not have any observable, objective, testable influence on reality, than it is unverifiable, beyond the realm of science, and thus irrelevant. This doesn't imply atheism, because it doesn't suggest that these supernatural beings do not exist. It has a dismissive agnosticism towards them, because they do not matter in regards to objective scientific inquiry. Now, if one was asking whether a purely scientific view of the world, holding everything to that standard of proof, necessitates atheism, than I would say yes. And I would also argue that this is probably the most intellectually honest way of doing things. But, then again, I'm a bit biased...

Are you are a novelist? Well, now's the month to change that.

It's almost National Novel Writing Month! Hooray! The time of year where an elite cadre of devoted internet dwellers decide to torment themselves for a total of 30 days by trying to belt out a 50,000 word novel by the end of November. All for bragging rights alone.

I don't remember when I gave up last year, but I gave up hard. I am still enjoying that forfeit, even in retrospect. The quit is sound, the quit is good. The state of the quit is strong.

But, I guess I'll give it another shot this year. Smart people tend to learn their lessons once, but I am glutton for self-inflicted punishment (and crappy plot concepts).

I've got your socialism right here: [obscene gesture]

The next person who says the word "socialist" is going to get their damn head chopped off for purposes of stress relief (myself excluded, of course). If you think that playing the Red Scare card is a valid argument against trying to get some money from the massive hoards being built up by multi-millionaires in order to have a tad more for the coffers of minimum wage workers (and everyone else, dammit), then why do you also not cry socialism in regards to ANY form of taxation? Why do you not also weep when those filthy commies in the White House and legislatures force you to pay for fire and police departments, schools, the salaries of government officials, and our precious, precious military? Is it only "socialism/Marxism/communism/whatever the hell you want to label it" when we decide that people with more money can afford to pay more money? Is "socialism" of this kind only a horrible atrocity that should not spoken by decent Americans when it is applied to something beyond what we have already readily applied it to?

We get it: you are still trying to relive the good ol' days of McCarthyism, and desperately defending the rights of the obscenely wealthy to preserve their stores of cash from ever entering circulation ever again with not only impunity, but government sanction. And I am sure the millions of other people whose net income is expended entirely on necessities with little to none left to spare are very appreciative of your dogged pursuit to insure that those whose income far surpasses necessary living expenses can pay at the same rate as those who are lucky to have any savings at all. Real America commends you for your effort. And it is time for that America to end.

Edit: And look at that...Marxist by association. Uggghhh.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Somebody forgot to take their meds...

Apparently, two neo-Nazis decided that they would try to futilely lash out at the society that shows so clearly that they are incompetent, petty bastards. How will they fight back, you ask? With violence, of course. The only way that pathetic manchildren could possibly ever imagine to compensate for their shortcomings. But, for whatever reason, they couldn't do it without stealing the necessary weaponry first. Can't be committing crimes with readily available, legally purchased guns, can we? And the plan? To shoot up a predominantly black Tennessee high school. And then drive around the country in their car, randomly killing more people. The finale? Trying to run down/gun down Barack Obama. And, I shit you not:
"Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats
during the assassination attempt"
Ahahahahahaha. White supremacist Mr. Peanut and Uncle Pennybags were caught before even reaching stage one of their plan (the "robbing a gun store" part). Which is good: it wouldn't be nearly as hilarious if they were actually successful. They are just two morons who thought that they could take out 108+ innocent civilians, escape, kill more people, and assassinate Barack Obama in a blaze of glory, when they can barely prevent their own dumbasses from getting caught in the planning phase. And that fact is good for more than a few chuckles.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Empty Skies

Roiling puffs, in streaks, spread
boiling over in bleak blue above,
drown the skies in their dreary gray,
strangling hue from abandoned roadsides.

Cold, thick air wavers, flows
twisting and howling, then fading;
a lightless river beneath a muffled sun
washing our will away with its weight upon us.

The drip-drop chases footsteps away
silencing the bustle, leaving pavement cleared
where brilliant, bountiful hordes would stand before.
Where they fear to tread today.

In empty world, quiet, quivering
with ranks of men in shelter, sorrowed
mourning an unlit morning, I marvel
at a murky, mellow, sunless sky
trudging through drizzle with a forgotten smile.

Obama: Pissing off fundies with the truth.

When you question the faith of someone who points out the plainly obvious fact that our society and behavior just isn't consistent with what the Bible demands of us, you might just be a fundie.
As for the rest of us, we can rest assured that Obama is sane almost entirely due to people like those who made this video bitching about him. In that since, the folks at World Nut Daily provide us with a valuable resource: a surefire test of which person is the least likely to drop nuclear bombs in the hopes of summoning Jesus.

Edit: Google video embedding is teh suck. Youtube version to the rescue.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Requoted for Truth

PZ Myers got e-mail. And for once, it wasn't about cracker smashing:

Dear friends, In these times, with extremely serious, complicated crisises
confronting us both economically and internationally, we need to have
intelligent, educated people as president & vice president:

Educational Background:

Barack Obama: Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a
Specialization in International Relations.

Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political

Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester

North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study

University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism

Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester

University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Kind of hard to believe that we may be electing a new President who is even LESS educated and intelligent than Bush. Yes, the very Bush whose very name is an embarrassment and a liability to that very candidate, ahd who has similar politics, is probably MORE competent than McCain, before factoring in senility.
And, you want flip-flopping? Sarah Palin apparently flip-flopped all across Idaho before she landed her B.A. in journalism (which, of course, is a major that causes me to raise my eyebrow ever so slightly). Is she trying to hide something by hopping from school to school like that? Trying to avoid showing that she doesn't love America enough to commit herself to one of its fine learning institutions, which are the pride of the entire planet? So, where do your loyalties lie, Ms. Palin? Pick a University, we're at war!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Et tu, Sanity?

What. The. F$#%#$#@$#%^$uck.
So, on one side, we have the party of the closet racists and lynch-mobs-in-waiting. And on the other we have the party of otherwise sane people who decide to go around beating people with conservative politics in order to...I dunno, prove that Democrats are devoted to politics as well as routine criminal activity.
I have never been more ashamed of this country's politics, or of the liberal base of this country, than now that it has been revealed how completely nuts some of them are. As much as there has been outrage and suspicion involved in the typically underhanded tactics used by the GOP and the anger at some of their rallies, the Democratic base have been the actual ones to go out and commit violent crime in the name of partisanship.
Please, fellow blue-bloods, if you are reading this, pay close attention: VIOLENCE ISN'T NICE! Bad Democrat. Bad. Put the damn weapons down, and think for a f#@$%ing second.
Sigh...I guess this is what happens when your party base has a sizable chunk of dumbass kids contributing to it, who are apparently not rational enough to know when it is and is not socially acceptable to carve a "B" into the face of a person you disagree with.

Jesus Christ...

In fairness, these cases, despite being more frequent than I would like, are incredibly divergent from the mainstream constituency, and the man who cut a "B" into a McCain volunteer's face had already robbed her before being aware of her politics (...which...makes it better...I guess [?]). Arrgghhh...damn exasperating, though.

Edit: Hmmmmm....

Edit Edit: Why am I not surprised? Well, it was nice when my righteous fury was directed in a more diffuse manner for a few hours. But, after verifying, once again, that they are bald-faced liars, my indignation is now back in its proper, right-facing position. Chalk another one up on the big list of neocon distortions and lies for me.

Grieving without Gods

We've all heard it before: "How can atheists comfort people whose loved ones have died"? Or something to that effect. Really, the issue can extend from helping people deal with their grief, to coping with the inevitably of your own death, to just plain getting through hard times. And, understandably, for a group that draw their emotional strength and support from their religious faith, it is utterly baffling that people without any religion could deal with such stress and answer such injustices. But, in all honesty, I would argue that, despite lacking the crutch that religious conviction can offer us in trying times, nonbelievers may actually have a leg-up when it comes to the very problems that belief supposedly helps others overcome.

Apologizing for Tragedy:
I am afraid that I cannot begin this discussion without first addressing the shortcomings of invoking the divine in order to justify the misfortunes that we experience. I am not going to address the potential for treading into just-world bias territory, and thus using your perception of ultimate fairness to blame the victim, since it rarely occurs in the context of consoling the bereaved. But I will mention that the belief that everything happens for a reason does tend to implicitly lead to a similar conclusion: this seemingly unfair, horrible occurrence was necessary for some unknown reason, and possibly deserved. Whether you feel exalted due to this idea is solely a matter of perspective. There is no telling whether seeing a greater purpose behind everything comforts someone or disturbs them in light of recent events, but either way, it brings about its goals by ultimately suggesting that you have no control over such occurrences (even if they can be triggered inadvertently by your actions). It is the dictate of a higher power, and not everyone can hear this and take it as consolation. Obviously, this comes as a surprise when such things are idly brought up in the form of platitudes as stock responses to grieving parties. Aside from justifying death by invoking a potential afterlife, any other injustice just cannot be easily banished with the grating problems of Theodicy unconsciously grinding in the background for the duration. Which is where we come in.

Freedom to Feel:
It is perhaps a rather old trope: the idea that suppressing your emotions, whether it is for the sake of adhering to social norms or just due to one's own philosophy about the merits of such emotions, will ultimately just strain you. It will drag you down, until you finally break and let it all out. It is suggested that just letting it all out as it comes may be less harmful. Which, is more or less correct. To feel proud of successes, to feel joyous in celebration and good company, to feel angry when slighted, and, most importantly, to feel sad when met with tragedy, is what it means to be human. Yet, sadness disgusts us. It is deemed ignoble, something to suppressed, hidden, and avoided, even when justified. And all the more when you are foolishly weeping over the corpse of someone who you will inevitably meet again, and whose death was a necessary end to reach a loving and all-knowing entity's goals. Yet, we still weep. We still cry. And the best thing that can be done is to let that person do so. To be able to not have their personal tragedies
dismissed, qualified, and deemed to be less significant by others for the sake of getting on with life and saving face. Just being there for the person in such a state is good enough, the human element and the presence of a sympathetic ear, a person to cry alongside you.

Of course, with the benefits of not needing to explain away legitimate tragedies in order to fit into the framework of a fair-minded and benevolent deity, there is our alleged shortcoming: an inability to explain anything at all. From the view that there is no greater, god-given purpose, atheists are deemed to be incapable of offering up comforting platitudes of our own, in addition to just a shoulder to cry on. In a world where human life is without cosmic meaning or importance, who are we to fret about injustice? Existence is cold, pitiless, and uncaring, and the world rife with tragedy without promise of otherworldly reciprocation for our troubles.

My answer is a humble "so what?". The fact that the world wasn't built for us does not make humans any less important to one another. Bad things happening across the world shouldn't stop us from caring when such things happen to our neighbor, or even ourselves. And even if the universe isn't itself necessarily fair, we must go on as long we live, because, as far as we know, this mean little rock is all that we've got.

The Deep Sleep:
One of the main selling points for religion, and the one that is perhaps the most effective in offering comfort for the dying and their relatives is simply that you can call do-overs on existence. There is an afterlife, and it is kick-ass (usually, and sometimes only if you meet certain entry requirements, which are rarely brought up by anyone during the more dire hours). So why is the man on his death bed still afraid? Why are the bereaved still crying? Is it just standard inconsistency in their beliefs, or is it something a little more...intriguing? Far be it from me to assume it to be true, but I do kind of get the impression that these people know the full weight of death, even when ostensibly trying to use their belief in a next life to deny, or cushion it. Despite the buffers, and despite how illogical it is for them to fret over what is merely, from their perspective, a brief departure to a better place, they exhibit feelings that are more consistent with what atheists see death to be: the end.

I only bring this up, because the fact that we lack belief in any given rendition of the afterlife (or any afterlife at all) is brought to the forefront when questioning our ability to comfort. And it is true: the buffer that is a hypothetical life after death should offer amounts of solace that you just cannot bring to a funeral otherwise. Yet, as alluded to above, it is far from universally effective (for reasons unknown). In addition, what merit do such methods of comfort have if they 1. aren't necessarily true and 2. often include what could be called "punishment lives" as well as "reward lives"?

So, what do we have to offer on this matter? Just some perspective. As nice as afterlives sound on paper, they would be fatiguing. Existing is hard work, and when it isn't, it is outright boring. And if this were not true, would we really be the same people? Eternity is damn long, especially in light of how tiresome it is just to exist for a few decades on a world as dynamic as Earth. And yet, dying as we know of it is just fading into unconsciousness. You pass away, pass on, and all that remains that could be called "you" is, well, your remains. The process of dying is potentially painful, horrifying, unjust and cruel. But when you are actually dead, none of that matters to the person who is dead anymore, because the pain stops, the memories fade, and the eternal coma has been entered. Once again, this issue is matter of one's particular taste, but I don't personally mind the idea of slumbering forever, or of just passing into oblivion. Being non-existent is relatively painless.

The idea that you can live forever simply makes this life, the one that we actually know exists, less important and even arbitrary (depending on the theology), and it is necessary to acknowledge life's finite limits, while simultaneously dealing with the inevitability of death, in order to function. Trying to get around this, while it does help to deal with untimely deaths, puts you in a precarious position: you need to convince yourself to remember that life is infinitely long when at a funeral, and yet try to force it to the back of your mind when you are trying to provide for your family, progress in the job market, or generally struggle in any other manner against currents that should be dismissed as inconsequential if you did conveniently ignore your own immortality.

Where We Stand:
To put it briefly, those of us who do not rely on divine explanations are actually in a rather robust position when it comes to dealing with the problems that confront us. We are not constrained to force meaning into every event, and try to put positive spin on true misfortune. We similarly do not wrest the perception of control from grieving parties in an attempt to console them. We can feel free to stress the importance of humans to one another and the importance of this one life. We can accept the inevitability of death, and find comfort in that just going unconscious is a far milder fate than damnation, and is equally as peaceful as any paradise could be. And we can care. Just like anyone else can.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Short Answer: No and No.

I came across a quaint little site called, and have decided to tear into its articles about God's existence and the divinity of Jesus, as a prelude to my upcoming attempts to shred up some CARM articles, in lieu of D'Souza inanity (which spawns too rarely to pique my interest anymore). So, first for the question of whether God exists (spoilers in the post title).

Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
Sigh. I don't know how I deceived myself into expecting anything different from this kind of drivel...

The Earth's size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth's surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.
The term "sustain plant, animal and human life" should be rather telling, since she has cleverly shifted from making the goal of "design" the production of life to the production of life identical to that which we experience as a product of Earth's particular environs. Plant, animal, and human life as we know them on Earth are apparently ends in of themselves, and only significant if they occur together. Even if we were to find that life was possible on other planets, it wouldn't matter from the author's perspective, because the goal is humans, and any planet that fails to produce human life is a failure, and proof that our planet was designed, solely on merit that humans exist there.

Blah, blah, blah, same thing for Earth's distance from the sun, rotational speed, and, for some reason, tidal pull. And a hell of a lot of it for water.
I'm sorry, I just can't bear to deal with more Goldilocks Zones (heh heh, pun). Also: WTF, on the claim that oceans would stagnate without tidal pull. Waves and underwater currents caused by heating variation kind of help out with that too....
A brain that deals with more than a million pieces of information every second, while evaluating its importance and allowing you to act on the most pertinent information... did it come about just by chance? Was it merely biological causes, perfectly forming the right tissue, blood flow, neurons, structure? The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.
Yes, yes, our brains is fantabulous. But, that doesn't mean that it had to be constructed by a phantom architect. They did most likely come about through entirely naturalistic, biological causes. It is a strawman to call it "chance" in the sense that the brain just popped out of thin air, whole and functional, however. It came about by chance, through gradual change and direction, the honing of brains of other animals, which are, in essence, just elaborate clumps of neurons. In that sense, it did not have to form the "perfect" structure, it just needed to continually form a slightly better one than the previous a few hundred, thousand, or million times over billions of years. As for the traits that you attribute to brain function: as impressive as cognition is, it really isn't a valid reason to start invoking the supernatural.
The alternative to God existing is that all that exists around us came about by natural cause and random chance. If someone is rolling dice, the odds of rolling a pair of sixes is one thing. But the odds of spots appearing on blank dice is something else.
Wow. What? So you are claiming that God has to exist simply because you think that there is no other possible mechanism through which existence, the planet, life, etc. could come into being? Very nice. The analogy that you make is a testament to that assumption.

Also, natural causes are an inadequate explanation for the amount of precise information contained in human DNA. A person who discounts God is left with the conclusion that all of this came about without cause, without design, and is merely good fortune. It is intellectually wanting to observe intricate design and attribute it to luck.

Patently ridiculous. This is akin to me grabbing a bag full of three hundred M & M's of various colors, throwing them on the floor, and claiming that the arrangment they wind up in is perfect, a testament to a greater guiding will, and daring you to call such a superior arrangment "luck". It is not intricate. It is not design. It isn't even luck. It is just how things wound up. In the case of DNA, after gradual bits of directed additions, removals, and alteratons. But still, far from a outright goal, and far from perfect.
Throughout history, billions of people in the world have attested to their firm, core convictions about God's existence -- arrived at from their subjective, personal relationship with God. Millions today could give detailed account of their experience with God. They would point to answered prayer and specific, amazing ways God has met their needs, and guided them through important personal decisions
An argument ad populum? Consider my mind blown. Just because people consider their coincidences divine will, their good fortune divine blessings, and their conviction divine guidance is not proof that it actually is. It is no more proof of the supernatural than any other gut feeling or chance happening is for any other superstition.
What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, andenergy refuting something that we don't believe even exists?! What causes us to do that?
Abject horror at the fact that so many people allow such things to dictate their life and justify them to dictate the lives of others (?).
I didn't realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him.
Way to self brainwash. God weighs no more heavily on the mind than Odin, Vishnu, or Nyarlathotep. What does weight heavily on the mind is the psychobabble that is so readily uttered by a good quarter of the world's population about how "God" is somehow the best non-answer to all our problems, ever. And, some people buy it. Hook, line, and sinker.
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that
Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or
prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God.

Wow. So the reason why Christianity is true is because your founder claimed to be the thing that you worship? How, in the name of all that is good and sane, does that serve to increase all? I guess this brings us to issue number dos: Is Jesus God? First, an updated "lord, liar, and lunatic" shell game, with "legend" as a welcome new option:
One possibility is that Jesus lied when He said He was God -- that He knew He was not God, but deliberately deceived His hearers to lend authority to His teaching. Few, if any, seriously hold this position. Even those who deny His deity affirm that He was a great moral teacher. They fail to realize those two statements are a contradiction. Jesus could hardly be a great moral teacher if, on the most crucial point of His teaching -- His identity -- He was a deliberate liar.

And this is part one of our series of dismissing accusations by simplifying human nature to levels of consistency that just aren't reflective of reality. The quality of moral teachings has nothing to do with your own morality (that is to say, hypocrites can have valid points). And lying is kind of a weak form of immorality anyway. So, not as much of a contradiction as you claim.
A kinder, though no less shocking possibility, is that He was sincere but self-deceived. We have a name for a person today who thinks he is God. That name is lunatic, and it certainly would apply to Christ if He were deceived on this all-important issue. But as we look at the life of Christ, we see no evidence of the abnormality and imbalance we find in a deranged person. Rather, we find the greatest composure under pressure.

What an interesting gambit: comparing Jesus to a straw madman in order to get Jesus off of the hook when it comes to being called out for being mistaken on his own perception of divine importance. Not all "lunatics" are dysfunctional, but, considering the way that Jesus lived, his tendency to go from serene to wrathful, and his willingness to suffer and die, it is very possible that he actually was "abnormal" and "inbalanced", just not in the stereotypical babbling incoherently while foaming at the mouth manner.
...there was no reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written later than A.D. 70.For a mere legend about Christ, in the form of the Gospel, to have gained the circulation and to have had the impact it had, without one shred of basis in fact, is incredible.
For this to have happened would be as fantastic as for someone in our own time to write a biography of the late John F. Kennedy and in it say he claimed to be God, to forgive people's sins, and to have risen from the dead. Such a story is so wild it would never get off the ground because there are still too many people around who knew Kennedy.
Self-refute much? If the earliest Gospels were written at least 40 years after Jesus's alleged crucifixion, that leaves ample time for mythbuilding to occur, and it also leaves ample time for those who knew Jesus to die. In addition, the "without one shred of basis in fact" is a strawman, given that you began the paragraph saying that the only thing that was "legendary" about Jesus was the idea that he was a God. Everything else was just embellishment, which people tend to eat up. And your counter-example proves it. One need only look at the plethora of conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy asssassination, arising quickly after, and persisting long past relevance, to see this fast-pace, long-term mythbuilding process at work.
could claim to be God, and you could claim to be God, but the question all of us must answer is, "What credentials do we bring to substantiate our claim?"
In my case it wouldn't take you five minutes to disprove my claim. It probably
wouldn't take too much more to dispose of yours. But when it comes to Jesus of
Nazareth, it's not so simple. He had the credentials to back up His claim.

How would you go about disproving this? Especially if you get to define what God is and is not beforehand, and get special privileges to redefine old definitions if you show enough magic tricks?
"I am Talaki, goddess of the invisible moon. I have no tangible powers, but I will totally mess you up in the afterlife if you cross me. Prove me wrong."
Blah, blah, blah, we know Jesus is god because the Bible tells us/implies that he is sinless (or at least acts it and is good at covering it up, like the many good politicians that have fallen into his religion). And also because of his miracles, the fact that he knows that he was going to die, and the Ressurrection.

So, basically, we know that Jesus is God because the Bible says that he is, and also strongly implies that this is so when it doesn't outright say it. Bravo. Convince that the Bible is worth jackshit and you might have won me. Otherwise, you might as well be reading from the Book of Mormon to prove to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet by quoting himself saying that he was.
They gave the soldiers money and told them to explain that the disciples had come at night and stolen the body while they were asleep. That story was so false that Matthew didn't even bother to refute it! What judge would listen to you if you said that while you were asleep you knew it was your neighbor who came into your house and stole your television set?

You could know this by: 1. Being a light sleeper. 2. Confirmation from a third party. 3. Evidence left behind (dropped objects, tracks, etc.) 4. Admissions from the guilty party. 5. Allusions to planning the act beforehand that only become clear in retrospect.

Stealing the body of Christ is something totally foreign to the character of the disciples and all that we know of them. It would mean that they were perpetrators of a deliberate lie which was responsible for the deception and ultimate death of thousands of people.

Once again, your complaints are overly reliant on people remaining consistent in all aspects of their behavior. Besides, considering that everything you know about the character of the disciples come from the disciples, you can't really say for certain what they would or would not do, since they most likely idealized their own natures.
Each of the disciples faced the test of torture and martyrdom for his statements and beliefs. Men and women will die for what they believe to be true, though it may actually be false. They do not, however, die for what they know is a lie.

Not convinced, because you are oversimplifying. Only a small portion of what they are dying for might be a known lie. Hell, many of them might not even be aware of it. They are willing to die for their devotion to a leader, even if it means lying about what actually happened to him, and pretending that his stowed away corpse is alive and kicking out yonder. They are dying not because they believe in a lie, but out of conviction to why they made the potential lie in the first place: loyalty to a beloved leader.

A second hypothesis is that the authorities, Jewish or Roman, moved the body! But why?Having put guards at the tomb, what would be their reason for moving the body? Also, what about the silence of the authorities in the face of the apostles' bold preaching about the Resurrection in Jerusalem?

Dammit, when will you stop making these broadbrushed dismissals? It is true that it doesn't make sense for the collective authorities to fake a Resurrection if they immediately thereafter try to repress mention of the very idea, but individual authority figures, or guards themselves, acting independently of their power base and only according to their own unknown will, could have very well had a hand in it.

In this view, Christ did not actually die. He was mistakenly reported to be dead, but had swooned from exhaustion, pain, and loss of blood. When He was laid in the coolness of the tomb, He revived. He came out of the tomb and appeared to His disciples, who mistakenly thought He had risen from the dead.

Countdown to most hilarious apologetic yet in 5...4...3...
Is it possible to believe that He would have survived three days in a damp tomb without food or water or attention of any kind? Would He have had the strength to extricate Himself from the graveclothes, push the heavy stone away from the mouth of the grave, overcome the Roman guards, and walk miles on feet that had
been pierced with spikes? Such a belief is more fantastic than the simple fact
of the Resurrection itself.

Obviously, it's simply not possible for someone to have been falsely diagnosed as dead, and survive a horrendous ordeal. And without eating or drinking for three days (in a damp tomb), don't get me started on how that spells doom. I mean, obviously, the only possible explanation is that he was dead, came back to life, regenerated his wounds, and was released from the tomb by angels. Much more probable.

It is impossible that One who had just come forth from the grave half dead, who crept about weak and ill, who stood in the need of medical treatment, of bandaging, strengthening, and tender care, and who at last succumbed to suffering, could ever have given the disciples the impression that He was a conqueror over death and the grave; that He was the Prince of Life.

ORLY? One would think that being alive would be sufficient enough to inspire much exultation, regardless of health. And, since they already thought of him as their personal holy philosopher-magician, it isn't surprising that they would see even his collapsing on their doorstep as profound and heroic. Seriously...stop trying to pretend that the human mind is so predictable.

Finally, if this theory is correct, Christ Himself was involved in flagrant lies. His disciples believed and preached that He was dead but came alive again. Jesus did nothing to dispel this belief, but rather encouraged it.

Since he most likely spent his three days in the tomb recovering, and possibly some of the time unconscious, he probably thought that he was dead. Kind of hard distinction for someone to make, no? Hell, people whose hearts have stopped are still said to have "died" even today. No accounting for nuance, eh?

And that's it. That is all they have. The anthropic principle, a bad understanding of what "chance" is, the "everyone else is doing it" argument, a few intentional misrepresentations of human nature, thought, and social complexity, and bad defenses of the Resurrection (which, I believe, was recently found to not even be in the original transcripts of the New Testament...oops). What was that about not needing blind faith? It may not be "blind faith" per se, but normal blindness coupled with faith is pretty much the same effect.


Poll Results: I am going to vote for:
-The lesser of two evils: 4 (80%)
-The greater of two evils: 0 (0%)
-A guy that I could have a beer with: 1 (20%)
-Someone who is sure to lose: 0 (0%)
You guys disappoint me...

That's more like it. Vote with some balls, people.


Why...why are Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart just so brilliant? They yet again force me to post one of their videos. I would cry abuse, if I didn't love it so.

He would've guessed that Zeus would beat Chronos...


Wordlessly, head awry, cloud-legs crumbling
along unseen paths, groping, grasping, blind.
Feathered skull, flighty, now grounded, stumbling
onward past crater-claimed self, far behind.
The shell-shocked self arises, from pulp and body-grind
Fuzz stuck in skyborne visions, crashing down
new sight born, and old, cotton world, unwinds.
Battered still, fallen long, yet walks, a clown
no longer, no stranger to a grass-rock mind.
With wings forsaken, abandoned tin crown
Cloud-Sleeper, dreamless, rests in figleaf gown
and, daylight, stands in muck rain murk, to drown.
Drops fall, screams and sorrows, meeting the gray dawn
Struggle, strife, life streams out, yet life goes on.
Escape is needed, wings craved, crown retaken
As dreams of dirt-clad self are lost, to sleep unshaken.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Post of Proof

For the lolz:

"This post was influenced and approved by maddening psychic communication with Dread Lord Azathoth. Also, he definitely exists.
It is in his opinion morally acceptable to beat toddlers with bags full of cinderblocks for purposes of recreation. Anyway:
Part A, 10:15 P.M.: One day, there will be a shape in the waters which burns with the fire of a darkened sun, and will set forth upon the world to bring firmament to bloom with crimson roses.
Part B, 10:20 P.M. : Oh look, a guy just came out of the water and claims to have come from a black hole, and I swear that he totally set the sky on fire before mysteriously disappearing. Srsly. We call him Todd"

Todd fulfilled the prophecy. This shows that the post was indeed influenced by Azathoth. Since it was created via the aid of a profound and wise supernatural agency, it must be accurate. It says that Azathoth exists. Therefore, Azathoth exists.

Lets go beat us some toddlers.

Richard Dawkins always finds the funniest articles...

Somebody is getting awful grumpy across the pond. Those evil secularists are making the religious feel all sad, by people implying that religious belief is intellectually dishonest. That's just mean, and obviously there is only way to confront this heinous presumption: blowing out tons of hot air. Who needs to actually refute anything when wordy indignation serves just as well? An example right of the gate:

Belief in the Almighty is now widely held to be a priori evidence of primitive stupidity.
A profound single tear drips down my cheek as I stare on in mournful yet robust silence. I'm sorry that people associate your baseless assumptions with stupidity. We will be more considerate of your sensitivities to that fact in the future.

In fact, we are living in a deeply irrational age, where millions are putting their faith in such mumbo-jumbo as astrology, parapsychology, paganism, witchcraft or conspiracies between sinister groups and extra-terrestrial forces.

**cough**Many of the people who believe in the reality of those things are also Christians**cough**
All of which goes to prove the truth of the old adage that when people stop
believing in God, they will believe in anything.

I think the adage needs a slight adjustment: "When people believe in God, they will believe in anything, but deny for it the sake of orthodoxy. When they stop believing in God, they now have an excuse to admit that they believe in those things". Sure, not as catchy, but it fits the reality better.
Nevertheless, the belief has taken hold that religious faith is inimical to
reason, as defined and exemplified by the scientific mind.

Religious faith isn't inimal to just doesn't quite follow from it. And the reference to "the scientific mind" as a qualifier is telling, because it clearly suggests that she thinks that it is insufficient. Thus, religious faith isn't inimical to reason because you need to put on your "religious mind" goggles in order to see the special forms of logic that support it. Or, basically, religion isn't irrational, it just uses its own special, unverifiable and incredibly subjective form of reason which she be held to be on par with objective reasoning. Riiiight...
near God-like status afforded to Professor Richard Dawkins - the Savonarola of atheism - on the basis of his aggressive contention that evolution accounts for the origin of life, and that anyone who believes the world had a creator and a purpose should be exiled altogether from intelligent discourse

Assert that atheists worship leading atheists: check.
Refer to evolutionary theory as some sort of blind dogma: check.
Cries of persecution: in spades.
Dawkins has been meeting his match in a remarkable Oxford mathematics professor called John Lennox, who argues for the existence of a creator on the basis of science -and demonstrates that, on his own scientific terms, Dawkins's arguments fail the test of reason.

Notice how we went from whining about people thinking religious belief is irrational, to just invoking criticisms of Dawkins's arguments. Hell of a sleight of hand. Present us with "secularism", palm it, and then juggle around "Richard Dawkins" for the rest of your circus act.
The fact that secularism has taken on the characteristics of religious fanaticism, in espousing dogma inimical to human flourishing and punishing dissenters in order to slam the lid on debate...

Oh good, we're back. Too bad I have no idea what she is talking about. What dogma does "secularism" have, why is it harmful to "human flourishing", and how do we quash debate? Is she talking about evolution, because that sounds like a standard creationist attempt to bitch about not being given the right to preach in a science classroom....
London argues that the rise of secularism has so hollowed out Western society
that it has left it acutely vulnerable to the predations of radical Islam.

In what respect, Charlie (err...Melanie...)? Has secularism made us vulnerable by making it so that we can't be sufficiently militant enough to wipe them off the face of the earth? Or has it made it so that they are too accepted in our society, despite not being given a position either? Or is it just because we haven't let Christians form the theocracy they so desire, with which they would have quashed the Muslim menace easily in their righteous attempts to claim the Middle East for Jesus? What has secularism done to us to make us weak against an enemy that exists due to our militarism anyway?
The decay of religion, he says, has given rise to moral relativism, which regards all beliefs and principles as being of equal value and truth as a relative concept.

Oh noez! Not moral relativism! We can't possibly admit that other people may be right, or simply have a different perspective that is equally valid, sans evidence to the contrary! We can't possibly admit that the moral absolutes we have been given are insufficient, and that circumstances can justify different moral behaviors that we may not be able to comprehend from a luxurious and emotionally distant philosophical position! Because that way lies tolerance of our fellow human beings. And we can't have's not what Jesus would do...
This has given rise to multiculturalism, which masquerades as the promotion of
equal rights but is actually a disguised form of cultural and national self-loathing.

Wow. Attacking multiculturalism. How original. How non-xenophobic of you. Why exactly does it count as "cultural and national self-loathing" to say that "we could be wrong about this"? And where do you get off complaining about something leading to "self-loathing" when it is basically the core tenet of your religion?

This in turn lies behind the idea that nations are illegitimate or passé, and that the world's problems can all be solved by everyone on the planet coming together to harness the power of reason to arrive at a solution.

Well...they kind of are, aren't they? Countries are just arbitrary chunks of land that we have decided to assign to whatever groups we so agree upon. We make the land, its occupants, and the system that those occupants make to control themselves, the land, and the way that they function together, synonymous with another, but they need not be so. And heaven forbid that people actually cross international lines in order to solve our collective problems together. Once again, Jesus would be pissed.

But, in robbing people of their national identity and capacity to believe in anything except the fiction that reason trumps all, this is an essentially irrational negation of self-interest.

"National identity"? The fact that you even think that is a good thing is rather telling, no? And, how the hell is it a "negation of self-interest"?

No less irrational is the overreach of science which, as London writes, has been
hijacked by secular fundamentalists who want to supplant religion by asserting
that only in science can truths be found.

Fine. You can't find truth in science either. It is just all elaborate, formula-based, highly-evidence, reproducable and logically verifiable guesswork. Obviously, it is a far worse method of finding out the nature of reality than elaborate, illogical, unverifiable, and unevidenced guesswork is. It is the only possible way to find out things about our world, clearly.

Science generates more questions than it can answer. The more science unravels the mysteries of the world for us, the more mysterious it becomes. And, as the many scientists who are also religious believers demonstrate, there is no inherent conflict between religion and science.

Yes. But, you see, those mysteries that appear in the place of every discovery are of increasingly small significance in comparison to the discovery that revealed them (at least from a human perspective). And all that religious scientists prove is that compartmentalization is alive and well, as it has been for time untold.

The dogma that science provides the answer to every question and so supplants
religion has led to a junking of the moral codes deriving from Judaism and Christianity that underpin western society.

You's not like those "moral codes" were very good to begin with. Hell, most of our best laws that the Western world of recent decades have been lauded for occurred either without basis in such codes, or even in opposition to them. So, once again, a single tear...

This loss of cultural nerve has created an unwitting collusion between secular zealots and the Islamists who have declared war upon western civilisation, and who believe - correctly - that a secular west will be unable to resist them.

So wait...your moral code did involve racism, belligerence, and overeager opposition to different religions after all. I thought that was just implied...

Science, rationality and the pursuit of truth are intimately related to the
religious traditions of the west. If those traditions are not defended from
within against the threat from without, this will be how the west was

Science, rationality, and pursuit of truth are intimately related to the Ancient Greeks, and was ignored in favor of the presumptions of theology until rather recently. Even when they were revived over time by the ever benevolent and wise Catholic church, it still didn't want science to stray too far from those presumptions (since they wanted to claim a monopoly on truth, not pursue truth) and didn't want unbridled rationality let loose within a four-mile radius of a cathedral. Trying to take credit for past scientific accomplishments really doesn't change the veracity of your religious faith, however.

Oh, and you end with fearmongering. Really, you guys can't think to go out on any other note, can you? Speaking of which, praise me or burn for eternity! The Seeker has spoken!

Real America: The Quiz

I always knew that my town wasn't American enough. We need some trucker hats, stat.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This is what Christians actually believe

I am hoping that the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry is as representative of a fundamentalist view of the Bible as it seems to be, and isn't indicative of the mainstream. Because, after wandering through this quiz, it becomes clear that they have willfully decided to believe the most stupid of possible options. I'd swear that it was a parody if it weren't consistent with what most Bible literalists actually think.

To Semantics Hell and Back Again

I'm sure you've heard this interesting little sleight of hand before. It is inocuous enough, and amounts to nothing, but serves as a good enough of a dig to begin a nice little series of attempts to pivot beyond original definitions and equivocate into favorable territory. It is the "Atheism is a religion" argument. And I chose a particular rendition of it that has all my legwork done for me. But first, for the warm-up.

So from my perspective, Atheism would be better thought of as "Anti-Theism"
since most Atheists proclaim heavily against there being a god.

This is what we in the business would call a "sampling error". The only people who would be willing to admit that they were "atheists" would most likely have a more strong position on the matter, and a stronger position against theism, than others due to the stigma of the word "atheist", which most weak atheists try to avoid. Some people who are atheists could give a damn about religion. The ones who actually care are the ones that you will run into.

It is impossible for us limited human beings to know for a fact that a god does not exist. To know absolutely that a god does not exist one would have to be omniscient. Since no one is omniscient then it stands to reason that there is a chance that a god exists. This then becomes Agnosticism instead of Atheism.
Le sigh. Yes, it is "impossible to know," but that hardly matters because it is "impossible to know" whether any other unverifiable supernatural entity or other conception of a deity exists either. Of course, your God can actually be dismissed if you are willing to do so on the fact that your conception of a god is often self-contradicting as well as contradicted by experience of objective reality (specifically, in regards to seeing God actively influencing reality through violations of natural law and direct communication, as well as the "problem of evil" not being satisfactorily reconciled...). But even that much is irrelevant when you realize just how pathetically trivial providing the "possibility" of an unknown with a specific quality really is (e.g. Russell's Teapot). Also, agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive.

Well, listen carefully now it's kinda tricky, they MUST take it on FAITH - **GASP** dirty word - that no god exists. Atheism is just a word, but those who promote the idea that there is no god have turned it into the "religion" of Atheism.
Yeah. Faith. Whatever you say.

The term atheism comes from the Greek word atheos, meaning godless. Atheos is
derived from 'a', meaning "without," and 'theos', meaning "deity". Simply put, Atheism literally means "no god".
Actually, he is right. Preparing for gigantic leap...
They promote the idea and come up with a belief system to try and prove that there is no god. In fact Atheists by their own admission adhere to a set of doctrinal beliefs!
Wooo...barely made it! So atheism means "without god", and you go through all of that etymology just to insert your own baseless opinion on the matter? Bravo. In fairness, he is right that many atheists (not all) try to "prove that there is no god", in the sense that in order to not have any beliefs at all they need to know why, so they should figure out why they feel justified in not taking up any given form of god-belief. Proof isn't necessary for this (since the people who take it upon themselves to describe the intricate colors and patterns on a set of encyclopedias beyond time and space bear that burden). Just a good amount of rational doubts, and a realization that it is dishonest to lend one evidence-less fairy tale more credence than another.

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006, Religion is:
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe...
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects...
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world
council of religions.
4. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
5. thing one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice
And atheism doesn't qualify for definition one, since the sets of beliefs regarding cause, nature, and purpose come from the individual...atheism just rules one possible (non)answer. Same for two. Same for three. Number four couldn't be true without presupposing that lack of belief in god is a religious belief. And five could be true on an individual basis. Once again, apathetic atheists are your undoing.

I'm not sure how Atheists can read those definitions and say that they aren't
religious about their beliefs.
And that's the issue. You want us to say that we are "religious" in the sense of being zealous and confident (as per definition 5) in order to turn around and say that we are "religious" by every other definition. Many atheists might admit that they are "religious" about their beliefs (not necessarily their atheism, though, but sometimes even that) but only in the sense where "religion" is used as a thoroughly entrenched metonymy for firm and confident belief in something, as a reference to more traditional usages of the word which predate it.

Some would argue that those are broad definitions of the word religion. Well,
it's a definition none the less. Just because it's broad doesn't mean it isn't a
relevant definition.
This is truf. Completely irrelevant. The fact that it is a definition is nice, but it doesn't mean that you can make it qualify as every definition just because it fits one. It could only be considered a religion in a trivially significant fashion (given, by your own admittance, that it is a broad one). Since you can make virtually any position held with confidence into a "religion" this way, you have made gaming strategies, political opinions, and disdain for specific forms of criminal activity into "religions" as well.
The same dictionary goes on to define Atheism as:Atheism (A'thE-iz"um),-n,:
1. The doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. Disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings
Issue here: very few people are atheists per definition one. You can decide to attack atheism on that front, but it is once again an issue of taking a definition that doesn't apply to your current context, and using it anyway under the cover of another, more applicable definition which just happens to be irrelevant to your argument. It is patently dishonest, and as such, very effective.
Of course Atheism isn't like other complex Religious systems... It's just a religion with less complex and less organized structure.
Unless internet usage is our sacrament, and college classrooms our congregation, I don't think that you could even say that it is a "system" at all. We have nothing uniting us, physically or ideologically, and many of us like it that way.
An Atheist's belief system is founded upon one factor: the non-existence of a deity. Everything that an Atheist does believe then is colored by that one belief – thus a system of beliefs. For example: Belief that there is no god must lead to the belief in evolution since it would be impossible to believe in creation if no supreme creator existed. So evolution is part of the Atheism belief system.

Wow. That is wonderful. So, we have a "system of beliefs" because we are unable to believe in creationism due to our lack of belief in deities? You are arguing that we have a system of beliefs because we do not believe in something that is essentially an extension of your own belief systems into realms where it doesn't belong? Thumbs up.
Just like a religion that does believe in a god and everything that they believe
is colored by that one belief.

Not equivalent. Belief in god, in of itself, does not influence you. It is the details that the religions provide of that god, its desires, history, influence, power, nature, and plan for your lives that "color" believers. In other words, their "system of beliefs".
To put it more simply, a person's religion is simply the sum total of his/her
beliefs about God and the supernatural.

Where in the name of f#@$ did you get THAT definition? (Though it isn't half bad...)

Atheists DO have regular meetings, by the way. They just held their 34th
Annual Convention in Minneapolis, MN this past March 21–23 2008. They had
special speakers, teachers, and collaborators who teach the intricacies and
doctrines of the FAITH of Atheism

Then don't I feel left out. Also: furries, anime fans, and Trekkies have now been hoisted to religion status too. Please...stop while you're ahead...
Why do Atheists deny that Atheism is a religion? For many reasons, but probably
the most significant is that some Atheists, for their own political reasons, assert that Atheism is not a religion but instead is the total absence of religion.

Mostly, of course, I deny it because the idea is frickin' retarded. That's just me, though.
But this is like saying that "black", which physicists define as the total absence of color, is not a color. I have a black cat. When people ask me what color my cat is I answer "my cat is black". In other words, the color of my cat is black. In common practice throughout the world, "black" is understood to be a color, despite the technical definition of the physicists. Likewise, "Atheism" is a religion, despite any technical definitions to the contrary.
You should have just stopped talking. It doesn't matter what the layman's view on the subject is when it comes to determining truth. It is good to keep their view in mind when talking informally (as in, you are not delving into philosophical, scientific, or legal issues). But, on the issue that you mentioned (separation of church and state), the technical definitions trump your insistence that black qualifies as a color rather than the lack of color (or presence of all colors, depending on your perspective).
If black is a color, then Atheism is a religion.
Well then, we agree. I'm glad that you have conceded. I claim victory in the name of me. Commence the celebration.