Sunday, June 22, 2014


“Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.”
Ambrose Bierce
The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary

Ryan Bell has a long way to go

Though I still applaud Ryan Bell's interest in learning more about atheists, he really does have a long way to go to rid himself of a wide array of myths and stereotypes. His June 10th post, "Atheists’ favorite Bible verses", makes that pretty clear. Among others, he seems to have fallen for the straw-man criticism that all atheists insist that religion is 100% evil and that nothing positive can be found in scripture. That is completely wrong and a gross mischaracterization. I am very critical of scripture. Even casually skimming through the archive of this blog should make that clear but if you actually read and pay attention it should also be clear that I have not said it isn't possible to draw positive conclusions from a limited number of passages. I happen to think there is far more heinous crap in scripture (the Bible especially) than there is positive. That still is not the same thing. I have also written rather positive pieces about the Tao Te Ching and a few theologically inspired literary works (like The Conference of the Birds).

As a side note, I still really wish he would change the name of his blog. "Year Without God" is so blatantly false that it does diminish his credibility a little. He is not an atheist. He is not going a year without god anymore than he is going a year without oxygen. He is a believer who has decided to spend a year learning more about atheism.

And, though I do not have any "favorites" there are Biblical passages I do like. For instance one of the passages frequently used in Christian wedding ceremonies, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, is quite beautiful in its wording and meaning. I'd point out that nothing is pure anything. Scripture is not 100% evil. Perhaps 90%.

A phrase that should never be applied

If I ever again hear anyone use the phrase "constitutional scholar" in regard to Barrack Obama I will force myself to throw up on them. The Obama administration has once again failed to live up to a promise that was made prior to the 2008 election. In effect, they have yet again taken a metaphorical shit on the foundational principle of separation of church and state. As reported by Religious News Service, our spineless weasel of an Attorney General, Eric Holder, has endorsed the Bush II edicts on "faith based initiatives".

Details can be read at RNS:
"Obama Administration backs religious discrimination in employment "

Whiny Ignorance or Pandering Cowardice?

A recent CNN Belief blog post took a rather idiotic pot shot at the humor site Funny or Die by posing the question "Sharp satire or offensive stereotyping?" The blurb, "'Cosmos': the creationist version", is only a few lines but does managed to imply a great deal in such a short space. CNN's standards are rather low. Even for a blog this jab is as self-serving and stupid as it is short. I fail to see how such satire, it is satire, can be deemed a stereotype when there are entire denominations/sects whose doctrines and leadership clearly spell out a belief in the type of creationism being lampooned in the video.

I'm going to have to conclude that it both whiny ignorance and pandering cowardice.

The video can be found at:

Sunday, June 15, 2014


"If god doesn't like the way I live, Let him tell me, not you."
from a button

When privilege just isn't enough

That font of equality and reason,, is at it again. In an attempt to beat a dead canard into undead status they've published another one of their rants pretending to be a news article,"Annual atheists convention is free for everyone, except heterosexual white men." This seems even more disingenuous than usual since they participated a few times in the moral sleight of hand that has become all too common over the past few years. The claim that atheists are intentionally less-diverse and open than other demographics is full of shit to begin with. I have pointed out this bogus claim a handful times in the past. The most recent being "Getting sick of Chris "'Faitheist' Twit" Stedman" (May 18, 2014)

That the Secular Coalition of America is offer breaks to minorities they and similar groups have been accused of ignoring and/or discriminating against seems to defy the prior narratives. So what do the assholes at Examiner do? Attack them. Yup, you just can't do the right thing if you're an atheistic organization. But they can't just leave it at simple hypocrisy or double standards. They have to take it a step further. They insist that this is discrimination. A private function can charge any admission it chooses. It can give discounts to whoever they want. That isn't the same as discrimination since they are selling tickets to anyone interested. White men are not only allowed to attend, the majority in the audience are still in all likelihood going to be predominantly white.

Sometimes Advice Columnists Fabricate

I occasionally read the Religious News Service based Christian advice columnist Martin Elfert. He has always come across as a friendly well intentioned, if rather ignorant, guy. A recent column made me question his sincerity for the first time. The title of his Father Knows Best best post, "Can I regain my faith after becoming an atheist?", seemed a little odd but not completely dubious. It is not unheard for individuals to mistakenly identify themselves as atheist when the are in fact believers who don't have a specific religious affiliation (the bogus Spiritual vs Religious). However, the content itself implied that this instance went beyond such common misunderstandings.

The opening call for advice reads:

"Hey Rev!

I have been practicing science for a very long time and over the years have become an incorrigible atheist. I simply cannot let go of my deep-seated need for evidence, and to employ the best logic and reasoning skills I can muster, regardless of the circumstance. Certainly, I understand that I do not, or cannot, know or understand everything but that never keeps me from trying. Do you think I could ever regain faith and, if so, how?"

There were a number of red flags that went up as I read this initial part. I'm not sure why an atheist would refer to themselves as incorrigible. It implies bad behavior rather than doubts about your own beliefs. Most atheists I've come across are very familiar with the old bullshit view that atheists can't be ethical or moral just because they are atheists. This one term seems to be a gentler way to inject that bit of prejudice. It also seems odd to me that someone so concerned with evidence and critical thinking would worry about faith at all. Why would someone "practicing science" seek the advice of a theologian rather than another scholar with evidence based knowledge of religion, like a subset of psychology, anthropology, or sociology?

I find this person's claim to be an atheist very suspicious and way to convenient. Elfert's advice is also not that great. He never even bothers to ask about why the "atheist" is so concerned or how he came to be an atheist. His advice is just as likely to cause further confusion as resolve any doubts. Of course, this assumes that doubts are a bad thing from the start. That's highly debatable. Then the premise of his advice about regaining faith,"practice", can be interpreted by "the best logic and reasoning skills" as being a matter of self deceit and delusion. Is that really a solution?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Schaeffer is NOT and atheist

Looks like a question I posed about Frank Schaeffer, "Will the Interview Translate" (March 30, 2014), has now been answered. No. Frank has once again slipped into bizarro world. Somehow he seems to think it's possible to be a theist and an atheist simultaneously. It isn't. By definition you cannot be both at the same time. You also cannot have a square circle. It defies the very definition not to mention reality.

Schaeffer has never had a particularly good grasp on reality. His previous book, Patience with God, made it quite clear that he knows nothing about atheists. Coming across various pieces on his new book and even a short piece he himself wrote didn't really surprise me. It is still sad and disappointing that someone who speaks as well as he does in interviews is so inconsistent and, put bluntly, so bat-shit crazy when it comes to writing.

A few of the pieces on Scaeffer's most recent decent into idiocy:

"Atheist or believer? Frank Schaeffer is a bit of both" Religious News Service

"Meet the atheist ... who believes in God" CNN Belief Blog

Sunday, June 8, 2014


"The truth is rarely pure, and never simple."
Oscar Wilde

Secularism is a Global Issue

A recent opinion piece in the India Express touched on a number of issues that impact societies around the globe. It was written specifically with the election of Narendra Modi to the Prime Minister's office in India but is still notable for its connection to similar circumstance and themes elsewhere. Gurpreet Mahajan's "The divisiveness of secularism" is rather well written and quite interesting despite the title. Mahajan a decent job examining the intersection between religion and politics as well as pointing out some of the ways secularism is misinterpreted and misrepresented. Unfortunately, the author doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on secularism either. Compared to a wide variety of pieces I've read on secularism this is probably one of the best in recent years. At least, from a theistic perspective.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Is that "hope" I just stepped in?

Call me crazy but I don't find the whiny petty ramblings of an ignorant self-righteous asshole to be a good example of hope. Reverend Richard L. Shaw could let an atheist express their views on personal beliefs without going on the offensive. It doesn't matter that all his assertions are completely unsupported. Not once does he actually explain how "Christianity promises hope; atheism has empty message" is any thing other than a pathetic rehashed bout of mudslinging. It really is just a series of schoolyard style taunts.

Just because an atheist had the nerve to write in a newspaper that they find positive messages/purpose within their own beliefs the good reverend found the need to pen such ridiculous complaints as; "Thinking it a virtue that atheists don’t leave copies of Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s book in hotel and motel rooms, and that atheists don’t proselytize door to door, actually underscores the emptiness of that position. Of course they don’t!"
Or, maybe we don't find the need to peddle our views door-to-door or otherwise hound people when they want to be left alone. Not finding the need to get in peoples faces when it isn't necessary does not say anything about a persons beliefs/belief system. Oh, wait, it does. It says we are not the rude arrogant assholes that some theists like to project.

Shaw keeps going in the same direction with other little gems including;
"Whoever was saved from a contemplated suicide by reading O’Hair’s book, or was freed from a life of addiction, or whose marriage was rescued from failure, or at last found a life of meaning and purpose after wandering in ennui for years?"
"It’s not surprising that atheists don’t proselytize — or leave empty books for others to read. That itself speaks volumes for an inane philosophy, compared to the irrefutable proof for Christianity."

Umm, I wasn't aware that implied anecdotes were so easily converted into proof? This dipshit can't even take the time to jot down a few specific anecdotes. Perhaps deep down he realizes that he is full of crap. he certainly wouldn't be able to explain why suicide rates are far higher among theists than non-theists or why it is that atheists and the "nones" have the lowest rates of domestic abuse and divorce. I haven't met any atheists who lack meaning or purpose. Not yet anyway. As for Christianity being irrefutable, I pretty sure there are little over 5 billion people who would dispute that claim. You know, all those non-Christians currently drawing breath all over the world.

All of this spewed nonsense because an atheist wanted to share their views the same way countless theists do on a regular basis. What a fucking dick.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


"Complaints about evolutionary science being 'controversial,'' which is false scientifically, though (sadly) true sociologically, because they are raising the dust and then complaining that they can't see."
Helena Cronin
"A fearful Asymmetry: The Worrying World of A Would-Be Science"
What Should We Be Worried About

Does another schism matter?

Yet another Christian denomination, United Methodist, is on the verge of splintering. Does it really matter? I'm not sure. On the one hand, further divisions of Christianity could weaken religion's grasp on society. However, the likelihood of Religion ever going away is highly unlikely. Until religion loses enough influence it is far better to have a stable structure in place for such a powerful institution. Each splintering could erode its stability and encourage the extreme fringes to exert themselves thus making each additional schism potentially dangerous.

Then again, Christianity (like all religions) has always been very fractious. With tens of thousands of Christian denominations and sects already in existence a few more probably won't make that much difference.

3 for 3, Superficially

Geoffrey Mitelman's huffpo piece "3 Major Stumbling Blocks in the Science and Religion Debate" does identify some legitimate points. He just does it in a half-assed manner. The three stumbling blocks are definitely issues but not to the degree or reasons he seems to think.

His three are; 1. We create a false dichotomy, 2. Offense makes people play defense, and 3. Strawman arguments.

On 1, it is true that the debate between science and religion is a false dichotomy but not because individuals can reconcile them in their own minds. I've commented on this aspect before. It is a false dichotomy for two reasons. People are usually talking about different things when they argue with each other about science and/or religion. Until those arguing come to a common set of definitions there can be no discussion or debate at all. The notion of a "dichotomy" is irrelevant until those involved can actually talk about the topics at hand. The other problem is the implication that the two are somehow on equal footing. They are not. Even if theists think religion is more important than science their own behaviors and manner of argument belie such a stance. Try going about your day to day life without the benefit of science. Strip away all the technological advances we rely on and never even think about making use of any medical treatment/remedies. You can't do it! You can, however, easily go about your life without any aspect of religion. Despite what people claim, they do rely on, for example, gravity working. Do they rely on prayer?

His second point is warped in some rather telling ways. Mitelman focuses on how atheists offend theists. It never seems to occur to him that this is a blatant double standard. He also fails to account for the highly subjective nature of "offense." It should also be pointed out that whether the intention is to offend another is an important element. Not to Mitelman. His own primary example makes it clear that he is not as interested in open honest discussion as he says he is. It presents the "Reason Rally" in a rather negative way. He disregards that it was for a specific set of individuals and groups. The "quote" he uses is not attributed and is actually a phrase ("mock [you], ridicule [you], in public, with contempt.") not a complete sentence. Who said it? To whom? What is the subject? What was the context? There is nothing in it but what Mitelman himself implies about it. I agree that intentionally going out of your way to offend others is pointless and stupid. That does not mean we should be concerned that others are offend as a result of legitimate criticism, discussion, or debate.

Mitelman's last point is probably the best but once again he doesn't apply what he states to his own thinking. For instance, "On the other side, religion is much more varied and nuanced than 'follow the rules handed down by an invisible Father Figure in the sky.'" This is a strawman. He seems to think that the atheists who mock believers with the silly notion of a sky daddy actually believe that all theist think of God solely in that manner. They don't. Notice he again leaves out any attribution. I am certain that if he named an individual or group I could find ample evidence that they have criticized religion in a variety of ways that go beyond that one quip. 

Despite bringing up some legitimate points the piece fails miserably. I got the distinct impression that it was written more to justify his own self-righteousness than for any other purpose.

More Jesus related foolishness

I came across a handful of article this past week that just seemed so patently ridiculous even by the low standards of religion. I've picked just two to name; "The miracle of Jesus is not needing a miracle at all" on and "Who, What, Why: What language would Jesus have spoken?" from BBC's blog Magazine Monitor.

Reread those and take a few moments to spot why the titles (the content is actually worse) are so idiotic.

If you strip away the Jesus figures supernatural elements what is left? This, of course, assumes you didn't pick up on the semantic issues. Miracle - miracle = nothing. Without the miracles doesn't that make Jesus just another wandering preacher? The world has always had plenty of them.

Why would the language matter that much? Even after you make the huge assumption that the guy ever existed most of the claims about him would make his preferred language a rather trivial point. It is also problematic since it is an assumption in itself that he would have a favored language or be limited to a specific language(s). Isn't he supposed to be divine? Isn't one of the main points of his preaching to pass on his/God's teaching? If a divine being can't communicate their message effectively how impressive can that being really be?

And theists wonder why non-theists mock and ridicule their beliefs.