Sunday, August 31, 2014


"The advancement and diffusion of the only guardian of true liberty."
Thomas Paine

Listinng things don't make them true

Mark Sandlin's "10 MORE Things Churches Can’t Do While Following Jesus" is complete crap. There isn't a single on on his list that can't be debated. It is true that you can find scriptural passages that support his favored claims but you can also find passages that contradict his views. I have written about this numerous times. The "truth" is that there is not a single Jesus in the the New Testament. There are a variety of personas that get portrayed under the name Jesus. Pick the Jesus you like best and you can find support for that version. There are a handful from Sandlin's list that I find rather entertaining since there are blatant counter-examples.

"3) Turn the poor away....
4) Narrowly define who is and who isn’t a Christian....
5) Define yourself more by what you’re are against than what you support....
9) Love the sinner hate the sin."

A couple passages I've referenced before immediately spring to mind. Mark 14:3-7 is Jesus' cute self centered "fuck you" to the poor that I have commented on previously. If Jesus can decide on a whim to ignore the poor why can't another self-righteous asshole do the same? Then, of course, there's Luke 19:27 where humanity's savior orders his followers to round up all non-followers and slaughter them. That rather short passage seems to kick the shit out of Sandlin's 4,5,9 and most of the other "10 more things..." to boot.

It is really pretty simple. Followers of Jesus can do just about anything they want in Jesus name and justify it with scripture. This might account for why Christianity became and continues to be so wide spread.

Duh, of course

The title question of one of Jonathan Merritt's most recent posts is so blatantly stupid I wasn't sure wether to bother commenting on it. In the end it was too ripe for ridicule to resist. "Have Americans made God in their image?" is yet another example of how willfully ignorant Merritt continues to be. Even the theists in fields like sociology, anthropology, and psychology have long since conceded that to some degree the cultural traits of a given society shape that society's views of God(s). Even when they are unwilling to admit that God is entirely a construction the admit that a great deal of projection goes into the concept. it also isn't a recently reached consensus. This understanding was establish before Merritt was even born.

I do understand that for Merritt the topic came up largely due to his interest in interviewing Matt Turner about his latest book that has this aspect of God as it's subject. He still selected Turner. He also does little to probe the author in any meaningful way. The interview doesn't come close to any new or even vaguely interesting insights. It seems designed more to make both men feel good about themselves. It is mostly unearned self-adulation. This topic has been written about repeatedly and in many instances with far greater depth.

If anyone is interested in the "American God" Froese and Bader's America's Four Gods is a much better choice. It is well researched and researched. It provides more insight and depth into this area theological study.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


"Don't let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them."
Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Idiot

Another pseudo-scandal?

To be honest I know very little about the details of Kendra Turner's expulsion. However, given the track record of such incidences it is relatively safe to assume that the media has once again fucked-up the story. I seriously doubt she was expelled for just saying "bless you" after a classmate sneezed. Considering how most of these stories play out I'd be willing to bet that either she has a track record of interrupting and causing disturbances in class that led to the teacher's actions or she has a record of attempting to proselytize during school. In the end the details once they finally come out won't really matter since the religious right will latch on to their preferred version of the story either way.

"Student Says She Was Punished At School For Saying 'Bless You'"

Pondering Faux History and Whiny Assholes

Right from the start David Gibson's "Analysis" is full of ridiculous shit. As a title, "America’s Christian conservatives ponder a ‘Babylonian exile’ (ANALYSIS)" sets the tone quite well. Comparing the US's religious right to the Biblical "Babylonian exile" of the Jews is utter non-sense. No one is forcing these self-deluded hypocritical assholes to do anything. They also still wield influence and resources far beyond what you might expect from their numbers.

It isn't just the stupidly of the title that irritates me. The implications of the very first sentence should annoy anyone who knows the actual history rather than the elementary-school rendition of it.
"From the moment they set foot on North American soil, the Puritans who came to the continent viewed their “errand into the wilderness” through a biblical lens, seeing themselves as modern-day Israelites building a New Jerusalem in the New World."
The "Puritans" fled England for the Netherlands in order to gain religious freedom. They got it. The left the Netherlands for the "New World" for expressly economic reasons. They came to find better access to resources and develop their personal wealth. It may seem nit-picky but it is common myth that the willfully ignorant religious right insists on using to make all sorts of other baseless claims.

Even though Gibson does not completely buy into all the bullshit the individuals he wrote to and spoke with about this "exile" he does very little to set the record straight. He even seems somewhat sympathetic to what all their griping really boils down to: their ability to bully other without question or limitations. I just don't get it. I do not understand why comparatively (emphasis on comparative) reasonable theists keep giving these overprivileged jerks yet another soap box. I also find it rather telling that Gibson and company don't see the innate contradiction. The religious right whines about not being taken seriously enough yet every mainstream outlet bends over backwards to give them as much of megaphone as anyone can possibly have.

Condoning and codling these dip shits doesn't help anyone.

Yoffie Vs The Strawmen

Over the years I have gotten the impression that Rabbi Yoffie is a nice guy who means well but really has no grasp on anything resembling critical thinking skills. He also comes across as somewhat complacent and lazy when it comes to many of the topics he chooses to write about for Huffington Post. His recent piece, "The Three Mistakes Atheists Make", is another example of his shoddy bias laden tripe. His "three mistakes" are a mixture of logical fallacies with little to no substance.

According to Yoffie these three are:
"1. They dismiss, often with contempt, the religious experience of other people.
2. They assert that since there are no valid religions but that religions do good things, the task of smart people is to create a religion without God -- or, in other words, a religion without religion.
3. They see the world of belief in black and white, either/or terms."

Even setting aside the vast sweeping generalizations that can be compared to equally stupid stereotypes like; "greedy jews" and "violent/criminal black", his three don't stand up to even the slightest examination. Even if every atheist automatically dismissed, contemptuously or not, so what? He destroys his own point without ever realizing it. For instance according to him, "Such arguments are legitimate, but they tell us nothing about the way that much of humankind experiences God...." Why does he single out this type of experience? People take hallucinogens and then claim all sorts of profound "insights". Are those automatically legitimate? Can't those be viewed as worthwhile "experiences". Most atheists I'm familiar with are unconcerned with such personal experiences so long as they are not used to influence public policies that will then effect everyone.

His second point is even more debatable and is far more nuanced than he allows. We don't all agree that religion in and of itself does good things. As I have commented on previously, most of the positive elements and effects are not innate to religion. Rather, the benefits are a side-effect of close social interaction. We certainly don't agree on approaches to dealing with religion when they encroach on social or political aspects of our society. I can only think of a few who seem interested in recreating religion without God. Idiots like Alain deBotton have been soundly refuted by numerous other atheists for just such an approach.

In point of fact, it is Eric Yoffie who sees things in black and white. There are very few atheists that use only a single argument let alone a single variation/approach to just one argument. This insistence is more of a reflection on theists like Yoffie then on atheists. Yoffie and others like him routinely fail to actually pay attention to the arguments and counter-arguments that are used by atheists. He seems to misunderstand and/or misrepresent what we say and write then turns around using such ignorance-laced crap to try to criticize us. These "three mistakes" are in fact not ours but his and his fellow travelers.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


"Men are most apt to believe what they least understand."
Michel DeMontaigne

Irony of "In God we trust"

One of the aspects of the drive to defend and further push the phrase "In God we trust" that I have always found both irritating and amusing is the innate contradiction it embodies. The pin head subset of theists who so zealously advocate for it utterly fail to see the irony. They insist that it must be endorsed by government and non-government institutions and agencies alike. They never acknowledge that by it's nature their drives rely entirely on humans. If they really trusted in God they wouldn't lobby for the phrase so vigorously. After all, if it were god's will wouldn't it just be the way it is. There shouldn't be any need for government endorsement. There shouldn't even be any thoughts of seeking government endorsement. To co-opt another favorite phrase of these idiots, doesn't this approach at least imply that they are "playing God"? Are they not implying that God can't accomplish things without human intervention? Judging by their behavior God doesn't seem to be all that much of a supreme being.

He started out so well....

The headline of Eric Simpsons HuffPo piece seemed so promising. The first two paragraphs of "Spiritual or Religious? False Dichotomy" were also pretty encouraging. Then it all turned to shit. The initial subheading, "In the first place, we are all spiritual", was a clear indication of were the rest of the piece was going to end up: right down the toilet. The next few paragraphs were excruciatingly stupid. It only got worse the further I read. The second subheading was "Next, we are also all religious." No we are not. Basically, Simpson's understanding of basic terminology was about as challenged as his grasp on reality.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


"I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting."
Bertrand Russell

Changing the debate, really?

Despite all the verbiage used by Sarah Bailey in her Religious News Service piece "Gay, Christian and … celibate: The changing face of the homosexuality debate" this whole mass of bullshit can be summed up in one word: suppression. Bullshit is also a pretty good encapsulation. A lot of people may agree that encouraging celibacy is more humane than most of the "ex-gay therapy" programs being used but that doesn't mean it is in itself humane or acceptable. It isn't. It certainly does not change the "debate".  It still amounts to a select group of theistic busy-bodies seeking to impose their ridiculous nonsense on others, in this case homosexuals. I fail to see how suppressing homosexuality among homosexuals is in any way a new approach to something that is not a problem and should not be a matter of debate. In the end this seems to be more about pretending that suppression and harassment of homosexuals isn't bigotry.

If they think that homosexuality is a problem then the solution is simple. They shouldn't participate in any sexual acts involving their own gender. What other consenting adults do in private is generally of no concern to anyone else. We have a variety of laws dealing with public sexual acts that apply to all preferences already. Problem solved. These assholes should mind their own fucking business.

Still Credulous Connor

After reading his blog for a couple of years it would be nice to think that Connor Wood is finally going to attempt to put some "science" in his "Science on Religion" blog. Unfortunately, reality and skepticism prevent such a welcome idea. Connor has finally found a study that he can apply something resembling critical thought. I actually do agree with many of the points he makes in "Informal Study Finds Bloggers Can’t Tell Fact from Fiction" but his motives are highly suspect and there is no reason to believe he will from this point on be more critical of the studies, surveys, and reports he comments on. It is notable that the one study he actually offers decent criticism of just happens to be the only one he's written about that does not agree with his personal views. Being critical of only those works that you dislike is in no way a scientific or skeptical approach.

On a personal note, I would be quite happy if the study Connor attacks turned out to be accurate. I'd love to see a set of better designed experiments and better collection of observational data in this area. This does not, however, prevent me from acknowledging that "Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds” is very shoddy and nowhere near conclusive.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


"The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not misuse it."

Creepy and arrogant

"Nursing home evangelism: Preaching at the last ‘bus stop to eternity’" is very disturbing. If groups like Celebrate America were primarily concerned with providing our senior citizens with companionship I would applaud them without question but that isn't their focus. The very first sentence of the piece sets the tone quite nicely.
"Rhonda Rowe and her team gathered around a diagram of the nursing home’s floor plan and determined how to split up to avoid praying with anyone twice."
Assuming that the seniors being visited were interested in praying what difference would it make if someone prayed with them more than once? Clearly it is not about spending time with seniors who just might be lonely and wants some company. It really is about imposing a specific brand of Christianity on what amounts to a captured vulnerable audience. That is seriously fucking twisted. Even more revealing is that these assholes can't even be genuinely personal about it. Just a few sentences later we are told that: "Rowe knelt between them and went through her 'Nursing Home Gospel Soul-Winning Script.'" So this vultures are not just insincere in their goals they are equally disingenuous in their approach as well.

It also seems a tad bit arrogant. Why are they assuming that these senior citizens are in need of saving? Is there any reason to believe the residents of nursing homes are a particularly sinful bunch? Throughout most of the article it seems pretty clear that these nursing home evangelists understand that what the residents crave most is company. If they were really living up to the values they claim why not just visit and pay return visits. Wouldn't genuine companionship achieve the goals they profess to actually work better? Why not look into creating programs that foster interaction between seniors and the rest of the community?

But, no, compassion and companionship don't seem to be their real goals. These self-righteous vultures are simply looking to make themselves feel good while pushing their beliefs on others. If I actually believe in such nonsense I would have to assume these sick fucks are themselves headed for the very place they use to scare others.

Political, discriminatory, but still correct

Salam Al Marayati's CNN Belief blog piece "President Obama's Ramadan slap at Muslims" does seem to get a few things correct. I agree with his assessment that Obama has at times treated Muslims somewhat differently than other religious groups. I also do think that this not only politically motivated it is also discriminatory. I take issue with any government official behaving in such a way. Despite the horrible reason for it, it is still correct. It is correct in that no religious leaders, Muslim or otherwise, should be invited "into the Oval Office for substantive discussions on domestic and international policies." As I have frequently pointed out, it is grossly inappropriate to inject religion into public policy.

Lots of people

Lots of people; That's the answer to the rhetorical question posed by Trey Lion's "Who Would Jesus Shoot?" I do agree with quite a bit of his commentary but find it rather silly and ignorant to appeal to religion for support. The assholes who oppose even mild gun control/gun regulation are just as religious as those who support such restrictions. It is also the height of self-delusion to turn to the Christ figure on such matters. As I have pointed out there isn't a single Jesus in scripture. At least one version was, according to the New Testament, a tempermental violent bastard. Luke 19:27 is a pretty blatant example:
"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."
Sorry, my initial answer is slightly inaccurate. Jesus would kill all non-Christians. Given that the Christians worldwide number around 2 billion, that means Christ would be just fine with slaughtering around 5 billion people. Somehow I don't think genocide is a good answer for reducing gun violence.