Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Never forget the past as you nourish the present."
Chaim Potok
In The Beginning

Using Dead People

When I first came across "Steve Jobs' Reincarnated As 'Divine Being' According To Thai Buddhist Sect" on HuffPo I laughed quite a bit. A few minutes afterwards, however, it sank in a bit more and I was not nearly as amused. Some people will probably believe this ridiculous crap. Even worse than that is that this group is probably going to use it to try to make money and gain notoriety. Generally, I find using dead people for selfish purposes despicable. If you can find a way to use the death of someone to benefit society as a whole I don't have too much of a problem with that. For instance, had Jobs gotten legitimate medical treatment when he was first diagnosed rather than pursue "alternative medicine" he would probably be alive today. Using his death to demonstrate the dangers of such pseudo-medicine is acceptable. Making up some bullshit story about Jobs' "afterlife" to line your own pockets or gain attention is fucking sick!

I'd also point pout that promoting or making use of someones work after their demise is different from using their death. What a person did or produced is generally far more important than the circumstances of their death.

Generosity: A Perennial and Misleading Question

"Religion And Giving: More Religious States Give More To Charity" Do they really? I have three problems with studies like this: who's giving, who are they giving to, and why are they giving? If there is no attempt at answering all three the study is of little meaning or use. All three are equally important if you want to equate it with generosity. One of the few references to methodology behind the study involve the IRS. Basically, some of the most important information in determining level and nature of giving would automatically be missing.

I am an excellent example of how this actually plays out. Some of my volunteering and donations would not show up on tax records to begin with. As an individual I have donated time, resources, and money to a variety of causes through various groups. If you track charitable groups by their affiliations you would learn very little about me or why I have chosen to donate or volunteer. For example, I have acted as a chaperon for Catholic affiliated events. That probably sounds odd coming from someone who loathes the church and outright hates the Pope, which I do. Whether others agree with my motivation or not I find them perfectly sound. My wife is a lifelong Catholic and has been involved with youth ministry. It is import to her so I support her in her efforts. I also see no reason not to separate the individuals from the institution. If one less chaperon meant a particular event not happening why should I fill in. Kids were looking forward to it and I thought it would be shitty not to let them have it because the hierarchy of the church (no doubt was chosen for them) are a bunch of assholes. The same is true for a variety of project. If a group in my area is looking to aid the homeless/jobless with a food drive I don't give a shit if they have a religious affiliation.

Basically, I do not necessarily pay attention to who I am giving to if it is for a worthy purpose. That is not always accounted for in these studies. It can be rather misleading. I do not consider it charitable if the individual or group is looking to get something out their volunteering or donations. On a larger scale, Bill Gates is NOT a philanthropist. Everything he does that gets labeled as such seems to have major ulterior motives. Many religious individuals and groups I do not accept as being "generous" since they often have very personal self-serving interests. Many, though certainly not all, see volunteerism and donations as part of "good works" which is in their minds essentially an admission ticket to heaven. Sounds more like bargain shopping to me. Serve a few hours here and there or donate a bit at a time and in compenation you get eternal life.

The last thing that is not always accounted for is the idea of shear numbers versus percentage. Regardless of motivation, if religious people did not give more in terms of numbers it would be a rather pathetic statement about them. Depending on how you define "non-religious" we only make up between 1% and 9% according to most studies. Flip that around and think about it for a minute. Believers account for somewhere between 91% and 99% of the population. If they did not give more with those numbers in mind they would have to be truly stingy bastards. The studies that have looked at believers versus non-believers as a percent of the population have varied in their results. This current study uses percentages but not in this manner. There does not seem to have been any attempt at accounting for non-believers as a percent withing the states they talk about. Instead they are making blanket assumptions about the demographics of each state then comparing the states to each other. In other words, this study is useless in regard to the underlying question it claims to tackle. True, it directly seeks to compare States but it uses that to imply deeper significance, which it cannot support.

Overall, I don't buy into the common perception that religious people are more generous. After all, by the standards of such a bias we have far less reason to give and yet we still do. We cannot count on an eternal reward and even many of us who see it as having a potentially positive affect on the here-and-now have no guarantees that it will. Many of us give simply because we believe it is the right thing to do. I'd be curious to know how many religious people can honesty claim to do the same (references to Jesus and God are disqualifiers since that is an external motivation).

Enough with Ayn Rand

Enough already. Ayn Rand keeps being used by a variety of groups for various social, economic, and political purposes. Why? She was not that impressive. The selfish bitch has been dead for thirty years and unfortunately there is no sign that she's ever going away. It is truly mind-boggling how blinded so many have been. At best she was a second-rate novelist who liked to pretend she was a philosopher. She was not a philosopher or an economist or a social/political leader. The religious right and left have both used her atheism to bash each other and the two major political parties. That is silly since I have yet to read anything indicating her atheism motivated her to do anything. Economic conservatives use her to support highly suspicious policies despite her lack of economic understanding. Libertarians use her as a role model for individual freedom which is laughable since the closest to leadership she ever came was in creating a cult of personality. She viciously harassed and attacked any one within her group who disagreed with her. Some go on about her championing reason. That is also laughable. Her grasp on reason and critical thinking was as pathetic as any creationist you'll coma across. The moment actual logic and reasoning didn't support her ideas she set them aside and used her cult-like methods to brow beat those around her into submission.

Ayn Rand was a terrible person and an even worse model for just about any belief system that can be thought of. In some ways she is the ultimate bad example. Between her personal life and her "philosophy" of Objectivism every group that has attempted to use her would see things even they find despicable if they ever actually paid attention. I wish they'd get a clue because I'm getting fucking tired of hearing about this megalomaniacal hack.

Todd Akins: Another Religious Right Crusader

I can understand why some politicians are tempting to talk about being "stunned" or "shocked" by the type of statements Todd Akin has made, yet again. But anyone taken by surprise either has not been paying attention, has no memory, is delusional, or just plain stupid. I've been tracking the far right since I was in high school. I have no problem admitting that I have been paying attention for rather personal reasons. These crazy assholes scare the shit out of me.

In regard to Akin specifically, his statements are no more offensive than many others he's made. The mainstream media does not always pay attention to him either. Unfortunately when they do the tend to frame his comments or actions as if they are an anomaly. They are not. Akin has always been a religious right crusader. A partial list of the bills he has introduced over the past few years is a pretty good indication of what he really cares about.

H.Con.Res. 284 (110th): Encouraging the President to proclaim 2008 as “The National Year of the Bible”.

H.Res. 598 (110th): Supporting the goals of the Ten Commandments Commission and congratulating such Commission and its supporters for their key role in promoting and ensuring recognition of the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of Western law.

H.R. 699 (110th): Pledge Protection Act of 2007

H.Res. 153 (108th): Recognizing the public need for fasting and prayer in order to secure the blessings and protection of Providence for the people of the United States and our Armed Forces during the conflict in Iraq and under the threat of terrorism

*Parents Right to Know Act

*Pledge Protection Act

A handful of days later with media attention (finally) a large number of Republican/conservative pundits and politicians are now asking Akin bow out of his reelection bid. I'd be fine with that but would point what a bunch of hypocrits and selfrighteous assholes they all are. I have no doubt that had the media and the general public shrugged it off or not paid more than a moments attention they never would have gotten indignant. Most of them have said very similar things or worse. The GOP platform itself is not that far removed from such ignorant spiteful dehumanizing crap.

* I didn't include specific year or bill number since he introduced each of these acts multiple times. You might be aware that the "right to know" is more about chipping away at reproductive rights. The pledge was basically him having a hissy fit over atheists pointing out that "under God" was not historical, honest, or constitutional.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism"
Sir William Osler

Faith + Ethnocentrism = Ignorant Dumb-Ass

Pastor Ortberg seems to have a pathetically weak grasp on both historical research and critical thinking. His "Six Surprising Ways Jesus Changed the World" is based on little more than his own interpretation of Christianity and a woeful lack of historical knowledge. None of the six areas he lists (Children, Education, Compassion, Humility, Forgiveness, and Humanitarian Reform) originate with Christ or Christianity. Though it is true at various points in time Christianity has led various reform movements, it is not proof that this is uniquely or even consistently Christian. It isn't. Virtually all the ideas and activities referenced by Otberg had been carried out by other cultures and belief system before, during, and after the advent of Christianity.

This all, of course, assumes that every point he brings up is valid in itself. They are not. Many are highly debatable. For instance, his simplistic views on education are incredibly inaccurate and naive. His first example, monasteries, is a particularly telling one. The monastic system was far more diverse than most people realize. The level of education offered varied widely. In some the eduction, though very focused and propagandistic, was pretty good. At others it was virtually nonexistent. In every instance it was limited in regard to who received it. Education was not valued for itself but was a means to an end. It had nothing to do with public education as Ortberg implies. It also was not "academic." If I had to choose an educational system from ancient times through medieval I would go with a Confucian style of education. Oh yeah, other cultures had formalized education before the rise of Christianity. I could go on but the point should be obvious to anyone not blinded by their own biases.*  Every area he mentions has similar problems. He seems blissfully unaware that most of what he claims as Christian predates Christianity. He also doesn't seem to be aware of how inconsistent and spotty Christianity's record is on all six.

Yes, I have biases too. I do, however, consciously try to set them aside when trying to determine what is or isn't likely to be true. I try not to let my own preferences interfere with any research I am interested in or impede critical thinking.

Civilization is not a Dependent of Religion

I've never fully understood why many theists find the need to justify their beliefs on blatantly grandiose ideas. This desire routinely leads the religious to make rather ridiculous and provably false claims. Being able to explain what you believe and why is important but it does not have to be anything breath taking and profound. A simple reason that is well founded is better than a monumental one built on the shakiest of foundations. One such notion that seems to keep creeping up with greater regularity is the erroneous view that religion both invented "civilization" and that civilization cannot exist without religion. Both are wrong. This is not to imply that religion has not played a role in the development of civilization or that it does not still serve various functions within contemporary society. It does and claiming otherwise would be just as false.

However, the nature and extent to which religion has shaped civilization, and vice versa, varies from culture to culture and era to era. It is mind-boggling to me that it never occurs to any of these theists that Civilization is a composite of different ideas and activities that far surpass anything a single institution can account for. Even if religion never evolved into a major aspect of culture civilizations would have still formed around the world. The very idea that we humans would not have developed languages, the arts, economic systems, political systems, etc, without religion is not just ignorant it is out right stupid.

The fact that religion is a major component of cultures around the world is not proof that it must be a component. I don't doubt that religion in some form will continue be an element of our civilization(s). But just as its role in the rise of civilization has varied I see no reason it won't continue to do so. It may end up being a minor/trivial aspect or it may see a revival. There is really no way to predict. Claims of the past, unlike predictions, can be systematically examined. They have been and the conclusions are pretty clear. Civilizations have risen from a wide source of influences not from a single source.

Scripture can be Interesting

Even though my overall view of scripture tends to be negative, I do not want to give the impression that I believe it is completely without potential. Personally, I think the very idea of scripture leads to far more harm than good. Like everything else that exists scripture is not pure. It is not all one way or another. There are positive aspects mixed in with the negative. One religious tradition that has always seemed slightly better than most is Taoism. I have sometimes joked that if I ever had to choose a religion it would be Taoism. It, like other religions, does have its own set of rites and rituals but does not seem to focus on them as much. It is one of the more philosophical faiths. I first read the Tao Te Ching in middle school and have read it numerous times since. Also like most religions the scripture of Taoism varies within translation, version, and edition. The specific volume of the Tao Te Ching I read first (I've since read a handful of different ones) is still the one I prefer.* Below is one of my favorite passages. It has its flaws but overall I find it to be very thoughtful.


Your name or your person,
Which is dearer?
Your person or your goods,
Which is worth more?
Gain or loss,
Which is a greater bane?
That is why excessive meanness
Is sure to lead to great expense;
Too much store
Is sure to end in immense loss.
Know contentment
And you will suffer no disgrace;
Know when to stop
And you will meet with no danger.
You can then endure.

*Tao Te Ching. trans. D.C. Lau. New York: Penguin Books, 1963.

In Advance: Stop Whining!

I have not heard much in the way of backlash to American Atheists newest billboard campaign but I'm sure it's coming. A lot of theists just can seem to help turning into spoiled little cry babies the moment atheists speak up. I know there are some atheists who will also argue that they are in poor taste or are too hostile. Nonsense. There is nothing wrong with blunt criticism so long as it does not condone or encourage violence. The critics also fail to consider a number of other points.

First, when have theists ever shown restraint when criticizing atheists or even other theists? If you can't take the criticism don't offer any of your own. For that matter, keep your religious views to yourselves. If theists stopped making public statements about their religious views I'd be happy to stop pointing out how foolish they are.

Theists also have no reason to get pissy about atheists expressing themselves since they basically own our culture. Don't see it? Look around and listen. Our culture is saturated with religious symbols, expressions, and ideas. Why they see us as threatening is a bit mystifying. Unless, of course, deep down they realize just how worthless their faith really is.

Third, the insistence that someone's faith should not be used for political purpose I would agree with, with a few exceptions. The ads target both Obama's Christianity and Romney's Mormonism. It is certainly fair to do so since both men have made public statements about their faith and both men have used religion for political purposes. They opened the door. Religion should not be injected into public policy. The moment any one does so it is not only fair it should be obligatory to attack and ridicule them for it. If they claim to represent all of us then they should set aside such divisive ideas and serve the best interests of all. If they can't figure out how to separate what is best for the general public from what they think their faith says is best for those who follow the religion they have chosen for themselves then they should not be in office. Those who want spiritual guidance can find spiritual leaders. I'm looking to elect a political leader not a clergyman.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"If history and science have taught us anything, it's that passion and desire are not the same as truth"
Edward O. Wilson
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Why Ask?

The title of pastor Timothy Keller's CNN Belief Blog post, "My Faith: The danger of asking God ‘Why me?'," seems slightly inaccurate to me. After reading it I think a better title would be "The Danger to Faith from Asking Questions." The piece is in no way about asking critical questions or encouraging thoughtful inquiries. It is about finding pleasant thoughts. It is about finding comfort. I do not have anything against making yourself feel better. That is perfectly fine. However, passing off pleasantries as if they are automatically profound or are the product of serious thought, that I have a problem with.

A good example of this type of faux-intellectual questioning and insight is this tid-bit Keller offers after oversimplifying and misrepresenting Nietzsche, "So abandoning belief in God doesn’t help with the problem of suffering at all." He never seems to notice that "belief" in general does not solve the problem of suffering. What led him to questions of "Why me" was his struggle with cancer. Here's a thought, medical research can help alleviate the problem of cancer. Faith does not make medical advances. Human activity and critical thinking, on the other hand, most certainly does.

The whole piece is essentially designed to make himself feel good about rationalizing his continued desire to believe in God after having been through an ordeal. This is not that uncommon. It is also not necessarily a source of insight. It is just a warmed over more pleasant bit of apologetics. I actually did feel for him and I am glad he is doing well. That does not validate the feeble arguments he tries passing off. It also avoids what really makes asking questions of God dangerous. It can lead to the realization that you are actually just asking yourself those questions. The reality that God and religion cannot survive serious sustained questioning is probably too scary for most believers. Assuming they allow such thought at all.

When the Bible isn't "Holy Scripture"

Mr. Enns would never admit that what he and others are essentially conceding are what individuals like myself have been saying for quite some time. That is, of course, that the only way anyone can pulling any meaning out of the Bible or most other pieces of scripture is to cherry pick and interpret. "It's not 'the Bible' but Holy Scripture (or, Who Gets Invited to the Barbecue?)" is just a variation of that same theme.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, yet another theist fails to see the glaring fallacies that his/her argument is built on.

"In chapter nine, Sparks talks about what it means to read “sacred Scripture.”
Not the Bible. Anyone can read the Bible–academics, atheists, Red Sox fans. But to read the Bible as Holy Scripture,
     'is to embrace it as authoritative discourse from God, as a book in which God directs us toward abundant life in Jesus Christ (p. 89).'"*

This is his first major mistake. The passage contains a circular argument and also uses the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. Basically, if you don't get the right interpretation/interaction you are simply not reading it right or treating it properly. Once you establish that bogus criteria you can simply dismiss any criticism or observation you dislike.

Enns then goes on to make another ridiculous mistake in his thinking.

"I’ll bet some of you didn’t see that coming from Sparks. You might think there is no way whatsoever that he can mean this after all he’s been saying about the Bible being broken and having errors in it. Well, if you can’t see how those two hold together, don’t just assume they can’t be and Sparks is off his rocker. Read the book and give it a try."

Apparently, Enns has never noticed how frequently and easily human beings can rationalize uncomfortable ideas and outright contradictions. There are plenty of theologians who have noticed all sorts of errors, contradictions, and just plain heinous passages throughout scripture. They still manage to gloss over and/or find excuses for them. I actually am considering finding a copy of Spark's book. That part, at least, he gets right. It is always a good idea to read the works of those writing on a topic that interests you even if you are pretty sure ahead of time that you are not likely to agree with them. We can always learn more. We can always, and should, reassess what we believe and why.

In the end Enns' main premise is utter nonsense. Unless someone is attacking the Bible by fabricating passages there is no legitimate reason to dismiss out of hand their criticism. If you pay attention to what you read then your interpretation is just as valid as anyone else.

*This is a reference to Kent Spark's book, Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority and the Dark Side of Scripture

The Church that Never Was

It seems that Mark Sandlin has forced himself to accept that foolish myth of a "golden era." He also seems to be deluding himself about the nature of organized religion.

Early on in his piece, "I Don't Want to Go Back to Church and Why I Will," he freely and clearly states a number of reasons he is quite happy without Church.

"I've been away from church for two months now and I have to say, I am more at peace than I ever have been. My faith is stronger than it ever has been. My family life is healthier than it ever has been. My desire to seek out God and follow the teachings of Jesus is stronger than it ever has been.
I do not want to go back to Church because life outside of Church is better."

So why go back? Apparently he believes that the church used to be quite different and can be again. Yes, I'm sure Christianity and the various sect/denominations have changed somewhat. Everything changes. That does not mean the underlying issues he finds most disturbing are all that different. He particularly talks about how hypocritical church has become. Sorry Mr. Sandlin but Christianity has always been rather hypocritical.

He gets a bit more detailed towards the end.

"The Church has developed a highly sophisticated system which allows it to both quote the Bible and believe whatever it wants without regard to the verses. That's not a particularly tremendous shocker, right?
Here's the thing though, this way of operating has become so indoctrinated into the system, so artfully woven in and out of the dogma, governing structures and informal peer-approval networks that from within the system it is nearly impossible for most people to see it has hypocritical. It is the air we breathe, the support system which gives us meaning, the stuff of church life. It's how you fit in."

I don't think he fully appreciates the whole reason scripture was developed. Christianity moved from an oral tradition to a scripture based one for the sake of authority and conformity. But this partially hides how diverse and contradictory many of the oral threads were and continued to be. Scripture really is a mish-mash of myth, legend, and folklore for the purpose of propaganda. It was always meant to serve those who gathered and promoted it. By its nature Christian scripture, like most scripture, is prone to contradicion and hypocrisy.

This is all before getting to the central figure of Christ. There are no eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life. The earliest written records related to the Christ narrative is scripture. If you go by scripture Christ is not consistent and he is not the ideal leader that so many assume him to be. Christ does behave in contradictory and hypocritical ways. If he is the gold standard for the faithful, how can the church not be laced with hypocrisy.

If anyone finds life better outside church then they should not bother going back. After all, what kind of petty asshole would God have to be to not want his children to be happy? Unless, Sandlin subscribes to a more abstract version of God in which case there is even less reason to be concerned. The perfect all powerful force simply would not be separable from anything. So Sandlin does no need to think about it. Whatever he chooses would have to be God's doing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away"
Philip K. Dick
How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two days Later

Accurate? Mostly. Biased? Slightly.

Jacques Berlinerblau's "Secularism Is Not Atheism" is pretty accurate but is still a little on the biased side. He is certainly correct that the two terms are not synonyms and that secularism is very important. His take on atheists, unfortunately, is a little less accurate and a bit more prejudiced. He seems as concerned with having secularism tainted by atheism as he is with the accurate use of the terms. Even though he is not outright hostile to atheists he still appears to use the term as if it is slightly dirty and distasteful. In the last few paragraphs he misrepresents a couple of atheists, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, in order to make an equally erroneous statement about secularism.

"Finally, we need to distinguish secularism from atheism because some atheists, of late, have taken a regrettable anti-secular turn. True, secularism is a proponent of religious freedom and freedom from religion. It sees the 'Church' as a legitimate component of the American polity. It doesn't view religion as 'poison' (to quote Christopher Hitchens) or hope for an 'end of faith.' As noted earlier, secularism has no dog in that fight."

Berlinerblau is confusing their personal preferences with what they deem acceptable for public policy making. They are not the same. Neither of the two referenced ever encouraged or condoned limiting the rights of people because of what they believe. They ARE NOT anti-secular in any way. In fact, both had on more than one occasion pointed out that it is the subjective nature and potential hostility around such things as religion that make it unsuitable for government. That is a secular point of view. Both on various occasions also expressed the need to fight for everyone's rights, religious or otherwise, not just those you happen to agree with. Also a rather secularist point of view. Berlinerblau also seems unable to separate religious individuals from religious ideas and institutions. Everyone has the right to participate in government. Everyone, however, does not mean institutions. It applies to individual citizens. "Church" is not an individual. Seeing "church" as a legitimate component actually is anti-secular. Catholics should never be barred from running for office or participating in politics in any way. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has no place and should never have any say in our government. The difference may seem subtle to some but it is essential.

Homosexual Rights = Human Rights

Even though I whole heartedly agree with the conclusion Mastin Kipp reaches in his July 31st Huffington Post piece the manner in which he reaches it is ignorant, mistaken, and even belittling. It is interesting that he starts "Why Jesus Loves LGBT People and Gay Marriage Doesn't Exist" by noting some of the contradictions in the Old Testament. That's pretty much where his critical thinking ends. He doesn't seem to be aware that the New Testament is just as loaded with the same level of contradictory crap.

He states, "But as far as I can tell, there is nothing in the Red Letters of The Bible where Jesus preaches against homosexuality. It's just not there. If it is, please show me so that I can stand corrected," and technically he is correct. The New Testament never claims that Jesus talks about homosexuality at all. However, this is misleading and rather disingenuous since Kipp goes on about the New Testament trumping the Old. The New Testament does have Christ making a rather clear statement about that.

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5: 17-19)

Basically, the view that the New Testament is compatible with Gay rights since it trumps the Old Testament laws that condemn it is Bullshit. That is, assuming you see scripture as having any relevance to begin with.

Kipp goes on to site another passage from Matthew (22: 40) that refers to Jesus emphasis of two commandments. They are to love the lord and to love your neighbor. They are nice sentiments and I in no way dispute the second but as for this passage being the final word on religious arguments over the permissability of same sex marriage it falls short. He attempts an end run around Matt 5:17-19 by trying to make more out of Matt 22:40 than is actually there*. There are numerous passages where Jesus makes similar claims about other ideas or commandments being the most important. They all can't be the most important. That would pretty much dilute the meaning of each by making "most" a useless word.

No matter how a particular sect or religious individual chooses to interpret scripture it all amounts to basically the same thing, crap. What Kipp doesn't seem to notice about his own arguments is that it is pointless. Religion is not and should not be the basis of either morality or law. I find it highly unlikely that as humans we will ever agree on matters of faith. We have a better chance of working out what is in our best interests without such subjective and superficial garbage. Personally, I think he belittles the fight for equal rights because he seems to equate homosexual rights with a theological debate. Homosexual rights are civil/human rights. Period!

*Note they are both from the same book of the Bible and there are not that many verses in between. I also find it interesting that the passage reiterating the Old Testament laws is first. If you want to interpret, which you have to, I would say that makes the earlier passage more important and the latter more of an afterthought.

The Devil Made Him Do It

I had been intentionally avoiding commenting on the Batman shooting but after Longenecker posted on Patheos and then was the subject of other posts on both Patheos and Huffington Post I found it too difficult note to at least write something brief. The most recent piece I have had the misfortune to have read is actually a repost from Religion News Service, "Rev. Dwight Longenecker: James Holmes, Alleged Aurora Shooter, Was Possessed By A Demon"

Put bluntly, if you actually believe in the Devil, demonic possession, and similar nonsense, you are not only a dangerously deluded asshole you are also in all likelihood a hypocrite and a liar. Christians who accept that  Satan is a a real entity independent of God are not monotheists*. More importantly, they actively use scapegoats rather than accept responsibility. Not the type of individuals I would ever trust. If they can blame invisible forces whenever it suits them why should anyone ever trust or respect them?

* I posted something along this line previously. January 28, 2012's "What's the Surprise?"