Sunday, August 30, 2015


"Getting rid of a delusion makes us wiser than getting hold of a truth."
Ludwig Borne

No, those arguments shouldn't be made

Though I appreciate Penwell's semi-sarcastic mocking tone in "9 Arguments From the Bible Fundamentalists Should Have to Make" and I understand it is meant to be more rhetorical than literal, the arguments he talks about have no real merit. No argument of substance can actually be made "from the Bible" since it tends to alternate between being vague, inconsistent, contradictory, and incoherent. It really doesn't matter if an individual or group leans more towards the liberal or conservative end religious interpretation since they both have ample material to cherry pick and repackage to suit their interests. No religious "argument" can ever be fully right or wrong based on scripture. Arguing over scripture is an act of self deception and willful ignorance. Basically, there are no legitimate arguments that can be made expressly from the Bible.

A bit late, and far too short

It is nice to see at least a few mainstream outlets acknowledge perceptions of the current Pope are inaccurate even if those pieces tend to be rather shallow and weak. One of the few recent articles to feebly point out this disconnect from reality came from Time in the form of "The Top 4 Misconceptions About Pope Francis." In comparison to all the misconceptions surrounding Francis this really is pathetic. If it were just a starting point for a series of short pieces on the myths surrounding the current Pope it might work well as a gentle way to broach the subject but I doubt Time will follow it up with anything even remotely resembling a substantial analysis. The author, a liberal leaning Catholic activist, never bothers to point out that the Pope has not actually even hinted at let alone attempted to change a single Catholic doctrine. The few practices he's made minor adjustments to are of little to no consequence and are easily ignored and/or over-ridden by local clergy. Sadly, this does not seem to be accidental either. The minuscule steps taken by Francis to combat economic corruption and child rape seem to have been designed to allow a lot of leeway for those most responsible for such crimes. The very few who have been punished in some manner are simply being used by the Vatican and its pontiff as a relief valve, a public relations sacrificial goat.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this Pope really is no different in reality from his predecessors.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Editing the "Bible"

The Religion Q&A blog's August 16th post, "Why were some verses removed from the New Testament?", actually pretty good. However, it does omit quite a bit that relates to the question posed.
The post does a pathetic job of dispelling one of the major myths/misconceptions that seem to be at the heart of the qustion.

I’m just shocked by the information I just received about the N.I.V. Bible, that many verses of the Scriptures have been removed. So I’m searching for a reliable version of the Bible to study from. Any suggestions?"

Cassandra seem to think that there is a single original "Bible." There isn't. According to the best available research there never has been a single complete original version of either the Old or New Testament. All versions of the Bible are interpreted and edited. What's worse for those self-deluded willfully ignorant dumb-asses who claim it is the "word of God" is that there isn't even a single original copy of any of the Books of the Bible (Old or New). There isn't one intact "original" copy of any of the Books. I thought it would be a good idea to repeat that. Not that it will sink into the the psyche of any who insist the Bible is authoritative. The Bible is simply a compilation of fragmentary ancient writing that the blindly devoted routinely repackage.

There is nothing remotely definitive or authoritative in any of the current versions of the Bible. There can't be since every Book of it can be debated as to which fragments are best to use for that specific part of the Bible. Not one Book has been agreed upon by contemporary theological and historical scholars. No one who knows anything about the Bible should be "shocked" by it's editing and selections. In reality, there are no "reliable" versions in the way Cassandra seems to want.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


"The starting point is neither selfishness nor altruism but the state of being bound together. It's an illusion to believe that you can be happy when no one else is. Or that other people will not be affected by your unhappiness."
Tor Norretranders
This Idea Must Die

It'll still be "whitewashed"

Though it is nice to hear that there will be a film that portrays African-Americans in a positive way this does not mean the film will automatically have any significant value as a film. It certainly doesn't mean the film won't "whitewash" other aspects of its theme(s), characters, or plot. In point of fact without ever having seen The War Room (I have seen the trailer) I already know that it will be whitewashing its main theme. According to Jonathan Merritt's review:
"The fifth feature film produced by successful Christian moviemakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick tells a story about the power of prayer."
Since the overwhelming majority of well designed scientific studies have all reached the conclusion that prayer does not work, the idea that there is such a thing as "the power of prayer" is complete bullshit. The few studies that found any merit are flawed and still don't show it as having any more significance than a placebo. Basically, it is all about emotional appeal and willful ignorance. It is dishonest propagandistic tripe. It is also interesting to note that the short trailer that is available at Internet Movie Database is chock full of militant language and imagery. That's a rather disturbing take on morals/values. If you have family and/or marital problems go to "war". So much for the notion that Christianity is innately loving and peaceful.

Conflat-a-palooza (polyamory edition)

Brian Pellott's review of a recent YouGov survey is interesting but very misleading. As with any survey, the wording is very important. Questions can be leading and biased. The results are only as accurate as the surveys construction. Unfortunately, none of the links in Pellott's "Most non-religious Americans condone polyamory, new survey finds" lead to the actual survey. I also could not find a copy on my own so I do not know how the questions were worded. What I can tell from his review is that within his own mind he has conflated a variety of interrelated but separate aspects of the issue being surveyed. He mixes together morality, ethics, criminality, personal views, and public policies among various others.

The conclusion that:
"25 percent consider polyamory, which YouGov defines as the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all people involved, morally acceptable.
14 percent consider polygamy, the marriage of more than two partners, morally acceptable."
May or may not actually reflect people's opinions since I can't analyze the questions they answered.

All I can really do is use my personal views to demonstrate these conflations. Personally, I do find polyamory immoral but not necessarily unethical and certainly not criminal. I find it hard to believe that more than two people can be as devoted to each other as a couple. I could be wrong but if I'm not than one or more involved in such a poly-amorous relationship would be, in a manner of speaking, second-class. I firmly believe that all should be equal partners. Claiming to love someone and then treating them as less important than yourself or another I find dishonest and potentially harmful.

With that pointed out I would add that this is not automatically unethical. The reference to "consent" in the conclusion is essential for my accepting such a relationship as ethical. If each adult involved understands and accepts the relationship they are entering into I see no reason why I should object. When it comes down to it, other people's romantic relationships (assuming they are consenting adults) should not be any of my business. It is a private matter. The government should also not be prohibiting or criminalizing it. This, however, does not lead to the notion of condoning it. I also don't think it should be given the same legal status as a marriage.

Basically, I personally disapprove of the idea of polyamory but see no legitimate reason for it to be either officially condemned or condone through public policy/government intervention. I wonder how many answering the survey answered the way they did because they also did not wish to outright condemn the choices other adults have made for themselves. I can easily see how I might have answered a survey in a way that would skew towards the false conclusion that I find polyamory "morally acceptable".

Monday, August 10, 2015

Interesting use of Mockery

Talia Lakritz' YouTube video, "18 Things Orthodox Jewish Feminists Are Tired of Hearing", is fairly entertaining but a review I came across of the video was a bit confusing to me. Had I never read Antonia Blumberg's take on the video I never would have even considered that it was meant to support the idea that Orthodox Judaism and feminism are compatible. I had assumed based on what I saw that it was intended to ridicule the idea that the two could be reconciled. Watch the video and see if you can find any trace of even a single argument for compatibility. I've re-watched it a few times and still don't see how the creator thought it would be seen as anything other confirming that the two cannot be put together.

After mentioning a number of criticism that Lakritz portrays Blumberg states; "Lakritz challenges these arguments in her video." There's a slight problem with this observation. There's no basis in reality for it. Lakritz essentially creates a dramatized stream of mockery with no real explanations and certainly no argument/counter-argument. And, even if she did the tone still seems to be to mock the beliefs and practices of Orthodox Judaism. The implication is that the Orthodoxy is innately sexist. Changing the mysogynistic elements would basically end a huge part of what separates Orthodox Judaism from its more liberal counterparts. Doesn't that prove they are not compatible? "Things Orthodox Jewish Feminists Are Tired Of Hearing" makes no sense. If Lakritz's intent is as Blumberg describes she may want to do some re-editing.