The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2003 February

Mister Rogers, R.I.P.

February 28, 2003 | Comments Off

Mister Rogers was a kind and gentle man who devoted his life to entertaining and educating children. I am not the least disturbed by editorial cartoon tributes, such as this one from today’s Augusta Chronicle, showing the one-time Christian minister being greeted at the Pearly Gates. But a different version (see below) appeared in several regional editions, revised in apparent attempt to cater to America’s growing Hindu population. I do find this sort of theological pandering objectionable, and certainly as gratuitous and mean-spirited as any of the mockery commonly attributed to atheists:

ROGERS.jpg

The Noble Atheist

February 27, 2003 | Comments Off

A reader this morning e-mailed The Raving Atheist the following “Top Ten” list under the subject line “Funny Christian Humor”:

Atheists are a very noble group of people. Here are some reasons.

1) Atheists are compassionate. They don’t start schools, hospitals, orphanages or nursing homes, but they know that the people who do are a bunch of hypocrites.

2) Atheists are honest. They alone have the courage to admit that TRUTH is whatever fifty-one percent of the people say it is.

3) Atheists are grateful. They know that it’s better to spend an hour on Sunday morning sleeping or watching TV than to get together, read and sing.

4) Atheists are wise. They know that the best thing you can do in life is work your tail off to succeed in your career, so that you will have more money than you ever need when you die.

5) Atheists are logical. They know that the only way to explain the universe is to say it popped into existence all by itself. Or maybe it really doesn’t exist anyway. Wow, even more logical.

6) Atheists are tolerant. They know that God doesn’t exist, so therefore religions are just social clubs. But boy do they get mad at people who belong to social clubs.

7) Atheists are brave. They know that heaven is just a myth to comfort people who fear death. And hell is just a myth to….um…uh…yeah, hell is just to comfort people too!

8) Atheists love freedom. They know that those religious hypocrites are just trying to impose their morality on everyone. But the atheists will fight them by making laws to put them in jail for imposing their beliefs on others.

9) Atheists are great leaders. What do Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Dr. Kevorkian all have in common?

10) To sum up, Atheists are everything that Christians, Jews, Moslems and Hindus are not! What a bunch of great people!

A Google search revealed that the author of this thought-provoking work is a Catholic Priest, Father Matthew Kowalski of the Blue Cloud Abbey Benedictine Monastery in South Dakota. I must admit I was shocked to discover the source. For after five or six close readings of the list, I realized — as you may too, if you read carefully between the lines — that what appears at first blush to be praise of atheists could also be interpreted as constructive criticism. It thus comes uncomfortably close to something that to Pope Himself recently condemned: a form of ironic literary expression known as “sarcasm.”

I was tempted to issue a violation but I am most certain that Father Kowalski would never knowingly disobey the Pope. His respect for the Holy Father is too great. As he explains in his essay What’s the Pope got in common with Modems?, “when you hear someone talk about the Pope’s teaching authority, or the teaching of papal infallibility, think of this error-correction process . . . [t]he Pope is here to keep you and me from error.” I am sure if Father Kowalski believed that his atheist link violated a Papal edict — especially one that applies even inside a fiery furnace — it would have been torn down before you could say “Hail Mary.”

As to the substance of Kowalski’s ten-count indictment, I would issue a point-by-point refutation but for the fear that I myself would be tempted into sarcasm (those not so constrained, however, are invited to submit their thoughts for publication). Suffice it to say that I am grateful than an eleventh count of pedophilia was not handed down, although I suppose I could have then turned to the Father’s helpful tips on how to avoid legal liability when one’s “enemies” level such charges. I also applaud the ecumenical spirit of item No. 9, secure in the knowledge that the United Christian-Jewish-Moslems-Hindu Alliance joins Father Kowalski in opposing what he sees as the civil rights movement’s Toxic Pseudo-Gospel of “Moral Relativism, Socialism, Feminism, Animal Rights, Homosexual Rights and Affirmative Action (Reverse Discrimination).” They probably also oppose the use of gender-neutral language, which inspired Kowalski to express his outrage in a letter to America, the “oh-so-liberal journal published by Jesuits” — a letter which prompted an angry anonymous phone call from a woman who called him an “evil person,” although “at first [he] thought [she] was an old friend, because [he] do[es] know some saucy women who talk like that in a mischievous way.”

And I personally will join the Father in his crusade against copyright infringement. Having removed the footnotes from his pedophilia piece “to make plagiarism at least a little harder,” I am sure that Father Kowalski would be appalled to know that the reader who sent the atheism list did so without any credit to the source. Unfortunately, the reader’s return e-mail address, ebonics@webnet.com, appears to have been altered to render it untraceable. Perhaps the Father, who has an engineering degree and appears to be a computer buff (and who despite his vows of poverty is in a position to write a review of a digital video disk recorder, which in turn reveals that he owns two DVD players) could use his obvious technological talents to track down the offender.

Godidiot of the Week: Alice of “Go Ask Alice”

February 26, 2003 | Comments Off

Two college students. He’s a devout Catholic. She’s a raving atheist. They’re thinking about getting engaged, but are concerned that their religious differences might lead to problems in the future. So they seek the counsel of this week’s Godidiot, “Alice” of Go Ask Alice — the pseudonym of a team of Columbia University health educators and health care providers.

Most of Alice’s advice is touchy-feely psychobabble about exploring each other’s feeling about religion and spirituality. But she concludes her answer with this recommendation:

Speaking with a rabbi, pastor, or minister with whom you feel comfortable could also help. Some members of the clergy are more comfortable with interfaith relationships and marriages than others . . . Congregations and community centers sometimes run discussion and support groups for interethnic and interfaith couples as well.

Interfaith relationships? Interfaith couples? Alice — you need two faiths to be interfaith. The girlfriend is a goddamned atheist. She doesn’t have a faith. She’s rational. You can pull the interfaith crap only where both parties share the delusion about an invisible being and can reach some sort of compromise about how to prostrate themselves before it. And talk to the clergy? To what end? The poor girl is going to have enough trouble making her boyfriend see the light, without having to deprogram someone who is paid to spout God-talk.

Think Less, Lose Weight

February 25, 2003 | Comments Off

As The Raving Atheist predicted last August, the New York State Attorney General’s outrageously frivolous bid to resurrect the State’s Orthodox Kosher Laws was rebuffed by the United States Supreme Court. However, as I also predicted, the State has announced its plans to legislate an even more outlandish and expensive Kosher scheme. So don’t expect the website of the State’s Division of Division of Kosher Law Enforcement (yes, there is such a thing) to be shut down anytime in the near future. To read about how your tax dollars will soon be squandered, in the name of “consumer protection,” to deploy an army of police-rabbis to enforce God’s dietary rules, go here.

But don’t expect a cent to be spent combating real consumer fraud, such as the eat anything, lose weight “God Diet” Although the Federal Trade Commission routinely prosecutes scammers who make unsubstantiated claims for weight-loss products such as Exercise in a Bottle, nobody’s going to lay a finger on the crooks who claim that you can just pray away the pounds. Yes, of course, some of the religious hucksters suggest only that you ask God for the strength to resist your hunger rather than for miraculous, as-you-sleep, holy liposuction. But most diet pills also claim to give you the strength to curb your appetite; if they’re just placebos, like God, why go after the people who sell them?

I noticed that there’s not much of an emphasis on exercise in any of the faith-based diet schemes. One of the doctors quoted does advocate using Christ as a “role model for good habits in eating, exercising, and living a healthy and balanced life,” but I can’t begin to imagine what a Jesus work-out would be like. Walking on water? Chin-ups with your hands nailed to a crucifix? Pardon me, but the Messiah was not known for his muscle tone. And everybody knows that he threw like a girl.

There’s also the obligatory “what would Jesus eat” angle. We’re told that the answer is “pretty easy if you know your biblical history.” Naturally, “Jesus didn’t eat processed foods packed with sugar and fat because there were none.” So we’re advised to use olive oil instead of butter. But how about after the meal? Jesus didn’t use toilet paper, either, did he? And how do we get to the food in the first place? We know Jesus didn’t drive an SUV; should we all ride on donkeys?

As to drinking, a glass of wine every day is Jesus-like, especially if it’s your Last Supper. But as for me, I’m just going to take John Leguizamo’s advice in today’s New York Post regarding vodka: “Martinis are like breasts. One is not enough and three are too many.”

Last Stop, Buddhism

February 24, 2003 | 37 Comments

The Raving Atheist has shied away from attacking Buddhism because it purports, in many of its incarnations, to be atheistic. But I’ve always considered it a bit silly and pretentious, particularly off-putting in its embrace of Masters and gurus claiming to have reached a state of “enlightenment” — a state which, of course, they cannot remotely begin to describe. Frustratingly, however, a religion without God doesn’t provide much of a target to attack. You can debate the divine attributes for hours with a Catholic before he scurries off to hide behind “faith,” but the most you’ll get from a Buddhist before he twists himself into the lotus position is an incomprehensible riddle.

John Horgan of Slate, however, has helpfully painted a bulls-eye for me on Buddha’s fat belly. In “Buddhist Retreat: Why I gave up on finding my religion,” he points out that the claim that Buddhism “rejects the theological impulse” is not entirely accurate:

Actually, Buddhism is functionally theistic, even if it avoids the “G” word. Like its parent religion Hinduism, Buddhism espouses reincarnation, which holds that after death our souls are re-instantiated in new bodies, and karma, the law of moral cause and effect. Together, these tenets imply the existence of some cosmic judge who, like Santa Claus, tallies up our naughtiness and niceness before rewarding us with rebirth as a cockroach or as a saintly lama.

Horgan concludes that “Buddhism is not much more rational than the Catholicism I lapsed from in my youth; Buddhism’s moral and metaphysical worldview cannot easily be reconciled with science—or, more generally, with modern humanistic values.”

I, too, have long been irked by the Eastern attitude toward science. Having long ago lost the battle against the laboratory, most Western religions (other than extreme forms of fundamentalism) are content to say that faith addresses different truths than science, and that any scriptural passages that conflict with science are merely metaphorical. But as Richard Dawkins has noted, the mystics claim that their platitudes are the very foundation of scientific thought:

Another kind of marriage has been alleged between modern physics and Eastern mysticism. The argument goes as follows: Quantum mechanics, that brilliantly successful flagship theory of modern science, is deeply mysterious and hard to understand. Eastern mystics have always been deeply mysterious and hard to understand. Therefore, Eastern mystics must have been talking about quantum theory all along.

Similar mileage is made of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (“Aren’t we all, in a very real sense, uncertain?”), fuzzy logic (“Yes, it’s okay for you to be fuzzy, too”), chaos and complexity theory (the butterfly effect, the Platonic, hidden beauty of the Mandelbrot Set–you name it, somebody has mysticized it and turned it into dollars). You can buy any number of books on “quantum healing,” not to mention quantum psychology, quantum responsibility, quantum morality, quantum immortality, and quantum theology.

A strange stance, indeed, for a religion whose ultimate goal is to deny the reality of Reality. And even in pursuit of that goal, Horgan observes, Buddhism fails:

Much more dubious is Buddhism’s claim that perceiving yourself as in some sense unreal will make you happier and more compassionate. Ideally, as the British psychologist and Zen practitioner Susan Blackmore writes in The Meme Machine, when you embrace your essential selflessness, “guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-doubt, and fear of failure ebb away and you become, contrary to expectation, a better neighbor.” But most people are distressed by sensations of unreality, which are quite common and can be induced by drugs, fatigue, trauma, and mental illness as well as by meditation.

Ultimately, Horgan concludes that Buddhism does not successfully answer the “radical questions about our inner and outer reality” and announces that “[t]he remaining question is whether any form of spirituality can.” Attention, John: once you’ve taken the Religion Train from Catholicism all the way to Buddhism, it’s time to get off.

God Squad Review XXXII

February 24, 2003 | Comments Off

Ecumenicalism is again on the Squad’s menu this week, in its reply to a Christian reader who doesn’t want the kids to be prejudiced against other religions. He asks “[a]re Christians allowed to celebrate in the Passover meal, or do you have to be Jewish?” The Squad suggests going to a Seder “with some Jewish people who know what they’re doing,” although they don’t specify whether it’s the Orthodox, Conservative or Reform ones who know best. However, they do note that wherever you go, “[t]he connection between the Passover meal and Christianity is very strong — according to the Gospel of Matthew, the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples was a Passover meal.”

Not only that — but Jesus himself was Jewish! He wasn’t just visiting some Jewish friends. The Squad also neglects to mention why it was his last supper; in yet another amazing “connection,” Jesus was killed by the Jews! And don’t forget the most ecumenical connection of all: like the Christians, the Jews worship Jesus as their Messiah!!!

Pope Hits Out Against Sarcasm

February 21, 2003 | 3 Comments

The Vatican, February 21, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Pope John Paul II described sarcasm as a modern form of martyrdom, suggesting a sarcastic person delights in “isolating the righteous with mockery and irony.”

“We know that the persecutor does not always assume the violent and macabre countenance of the oppressor,” he told this week’s Wednesday audience at the Vatican. He was reflecting on the attitude of the three young Israelites who sang in the fiery furnace, to which they were condemned by King Nebuchadnezzar.

“Despite the extreme danger, when the flames were already licking their bodies, they found the strength ‘to praise, glorify and bless God,’ certain that the Lord of the cosmos and history would not abandon them to death and nothingness,” John Paul II said.

The Pope also condemned alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, metaphor, allegory and understatement as part of a new campaign to replace the seven deadly sins with literary devices. He declared that consideration was being given to banning an eighth device, known as “quoting,” in which the exact words of an obviously insane subject are presented verbatim and without comment for three paragraphs for their own self-parodying effect before a second layer of deliberate ridicule is introduced.

However, the Pope assured his listeners that incomprehensible and tortured analogies would not be banned. Turning back to the example of the Israelites, the Pontiff praised the young men for not saying that “the frightening flames are ferociously flaying our flesh” and for not imitating the sounds of their own burning bodies with the words “snap, crackle and pop.” John Paul II further noted that the men neither understated the degree of pain involved in being burned alive nor engaged in hyperbole regarding it, assuming that were possible. The Pope warned that God reserved the worst fate imaginable for those who employed literary devices — death in a fiery furnace.

In a display of ecumenical good will, The Raving Atheist joined John Paul II in decrying the use of sarcasm and related techniques to isolate the righteous with mockery and irony. “The battle for men’s hearts and minds will be won through truth and truth alone,” he declared. “Let us cast down our high school English textbooks and confront each other with honesty and extreme literalism.”

(link courtesy of gmanedit)

Rift Between Deists and Non-Deists Growing, Study Says

February 20, 2003 | 2 Comments

New York, New York, February 20, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Tensions between the conflicting worldviews of deism and non-deism are mounting worldwide, according to a study released yesterday by the Union Theological Seminary. Deism is the belief that the universe was designed by a god who disappeared or died after its creation, and who plays no role in human affairs or the maintenance of the world. Non-deists assert that the universe arose from the operation of natural laws, unassisted by a god or any other conscious, supernatural force.

Martin Rodgers of the United Council of Churches-Deist decried what the study described as a growing tide of godlessness. “Yes, the universe is godless — now — but not because there never was a god,” he said. “No one can look at the world and not see the hand of a great designer, although, obviously, nothing is left of that hand today.” Rodgers added that those who fail to recognize the orderliness at the root of the creation would likely run their lives in a disorderly and perhaps untidy fashion, at least initially.

American Non-Deists President Ellyn Johnson compared belief in a now-deceased God to a child’s belief in Santa Corpse. “But once children grow up, they come to understand that their gifts are not delivered by a cadaver in a red suit,” she said. Johnson also dismissed the charges of untidiness, noting that natural laws, although unconscious, are just as uniform and orderly as the operations of any mind.

An ecumenical committee has been form to ease relations between the opposing camps. Committee chairman Michael Sumner called on the groups to focus on their common beliefs rather than differences. “Everyone recognizes that we are presently living on a tiny speck of dust on the edge of a cold, dead, indifferent void, left completely to our own inadequate devices and headed toward a certain death,” he said. “Let us rejoice in that fact.”

(Suggested by Emily of After abortion)

Saint Elsewhere

February 20, 2003 | Comments Off

Saint of the Week Ellyn vonHuben lives in Illinois — not Wisconsin as originally limericked. The replacement poem reflecting this fact can be found here.

Important Announcement: Saint of the Week Award

February 19, 2003 | Comments Off

Alternating, more or less, with the “Godidiot” award on Wednesdays, The Raving Atheist will bestow a “Saint of the Week Award” on the blogger whose basic decency, humanity and intelligence transcend whatever theological differences might separate our worldviews. Selection will be made without regard to belief or non-belief, although in view of my eschatology, no posthumous miracles will be required for sainthood. I will attempt to list the five finest attributes of the winner, together with corroborating links. And possibly a limerick.

And now . . .

:::::: DRUM ROLL:::::::

The first Saint of the Week award goes to Ellyn vonHuben of Oblique House (see below).

Saint of the Week: Ellyn vonHuben of Oblique House

February 19, 2003 | 1 Comment

Ellyn of Oblique House is the inspiration for the Saint awards; I actually wrote this post about her last week but had to finish up the Minute Particulars/The Secularist Critique/Veritas awards ceremony. I have been following Ellyn daily since I first came across her blog last September, and have been bookmarking my favorite links to her posts ever since.

Ellyn (not “Ellen” or “Lynn”) is a devout Catholic mother of six (four girls/two boys) from Wisconsin. In addition to her prolific blogging, she works in the Church rectory and homeschools her children. These are among her finest traits:

Compassion. Apart from caring for six children, Ellyn hosted a homeless man on her couch for six months and cared for an abused rabbit. She thinks squirrels are cute and has opened her home to ferrets gerbils and frogs. Not to mention her love (albeit somewhat new-found) of plants. Too many religious (and non-religious) people demean animals in their quest to glorify humans; Ellyn has opened her heart to all forms of life.

Courage. Anyone who makes the decision to homeschool her children earns my instant respect. Mothering is a full-time job without it; Ellyn is doing overtime everyday. It’s much easier to make one’s children wards of the public schools by day and the television by night. Homeschooling has an unfortunate and undeserved reputation as the refuge of creationist Luddites who want to shield their kids from civilization; Ellyn is simply a modern mother who knows she can do a better job than the state, and is doing it.

Good taste. Ellyn cooks Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup (my favorite), and I know without even asking that she uses milk instead of water and never buys the repugnant roasted garlic or low sodium variants of it. She admires Asparagirl from afar, a person I have photographed from up close. She watches Spongebob Squarepants, reads Esquire, GQ and Mad Magazine. She knows that the Music Man was the best musical ever made, and she means the original with Robert Preston, not the made-for-TV abomination with Matthew Broderick that aired last week.

Civility. Ellyn understands the importance of civility at all times. Despite her fervent pro-life views, she understands that teaching children to chant “Al Gore is a baby-killer” is not the best way to teach right from wrong.

Versatility. In addition to English, Ellyn knows French, Latin, Pig Latin and Instant Message Language.

Ode to Saint Ellyn

There once lived an Ellyn vonHuben,

Were she a cigar, she’d be Cuban.

She resides in Wisconsin

In a state I’d call “non-sin,”

When she dies, God will say, “How good you’ve been!”

John Gotti Puzzled by Actor’s Choice of Religion

February 18, 2003 | Comments Off

New York, New York, February 18, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Action-film star Steven Seagal’s flirtation with Judaism and Buddhism left the late John Gotti “perplexed,” according to a column in Sunday’s New York Post by Gotti’s daughter, Victoria. Mr. Gotti, a plumbing supply salesman who died in Illinois last June, was a life-long Catholic. Sources close to Gotti disagreed on the reasons for his puzzlement regarding Seagal’s chosen faiths.

Gotti family acquaintance Louis Gigante, a priest, identified doctrinal differences over the dogma of the Assumption as a potential source of friction between Gotti and Seagal. “John was a devoted Marian who believed that Our Lady’s corporeal ascension was accomplished without corruption of her flesh,” he said. “Steven, on the other hand, believed that the separation of Mary’s soul from her body and the body’s consequent corruption would be prerequisites to her death and resurrection.” Father Gigante said that Gotti could not grasp why, as either a Jew or a Buddhist, Seagal would have a strong opinion about the doctrine one way or the other.

Former Gotti colleague Salvatore Gravano, a plumber’s assistant, disputed Gigante’s account. “John was an advocate of jus ad bellum, a key principle of which is proportionality,” Gravano noted. “He found Seagal’s use of violence in his movies — albeit fictional and usually outside of the context of war — to be disproportionate.” Gravano said that Seagal’s embrace of Buddhism, which eschews violence under any circumstances, greatly compounded Gotti’s confusion regarding the actor’s religious beliefs. “But I can assure you, unequivocally, that John and Steven concurred on all meaningful aspects of the dogma of the Assumption, adopting, with minor variations, the promulgation of the doctrine by the Apostolic See as set forth in the Encyclical of Pope Pius XII issued on November 1, 1950.”

God Squad Review XXXI

February 17, 2003 | Comments Off

They’re administering a religious S.A.T. at the Squad this week, with this question from a reader:

How do you discover God’s plan for your life? After going to many churches, I’ve heard the following:

a) you may never know what that plan is but there is one;
b) pray and God will tell you what to do;
c) discover your talents and use them wisely.

True to form, the Squad answers with a somewhat self-contradictory “all of the above.” But having said that, they soon cast doubt on choice “A”:

We’ve never been comfortable with the image of the plan for your life being written on a card in a box in a castle on a hill surrounded by dragons — and you have to fight your way to find the secret message.

Never, of course, does the Squad challenge the premise of the question — that there is some Godly “plan” that each of His puppets must carry out. The only question for them is the difficulty of discovering what the plan is. Why this matters to them is not clear, since presumably one carries out the plan whether one finds out what it is or not. And, given the premise, whether one is permitted to discover what the plan is, is part of the plan itself. Que ser

A Valentine’s Day Olive Branch

February 14, 2003 | Comments Off

Via Veritas, this sensitive, intelligent and excellent new pro-life blog, After Abortion. It appears, so far, to be firmly grounded in the only true sources of morality — human emotion and experience. Yes, there’ll be a fair amount of God-talk, but I’ll overlook it in the service of a good cause.

See what you get when you’re nice to me?

Gentlemen’s Disagreement

February 13, 2003 | Comments Off

Godidiots Emeriti Minute Particulars and Veritas respond to my scurrilous attacks in the sub-basement of yesterday’s comment section. The exchange between myself and MP is a model of civilized discourse from which we can all learn. Among the topics discussed is blogetiquette, including the propriety of mis-linking one’s adversary blog to Moe Howard.

Did I Say That?

February 13, 2003 | Comments Off

Some Paleo-cons (I think that’s what they’re called) at Original Dissent got a hold of my post on the William H. Buckley/Leon Wieseltier godidiot feud over the new Catholic policy on the conversion of Jews. They quote it in full, emphasizing certain passages for god knows what reason. I’m not quite clear on the politics of it all, but I think they might give my anti-Catholic anti-Judaism a bad name.

Godidiot of the Week: Chris Burgwald of Veritas

February 12, 2003 | Comments Off

This week’s Godidiot, Angelicum-trained Chris Burgwald of Veritas, probably should have been added as the Third Stooge to last week’s co-recipients, Minute Particulars and The Secularist Critique (I think he’d be the Larry). He’s endorsed MP’s criticism of “the goofiness that comes from [my] fingers” and TSC’s response to some of my “ridiculous ranting.” Before I discuss any of Veritas’ specific utterances, however, a few general observations about this theological trio and their methodologies.

What I find most amusing is that of all the things I’ve written about, the only one that has so far provoked their wrath is my discussion of the first cause argument. Is that really, really, really what they find so ridiculous, goofy, and offensive about my blog? First causality is a rather dry topic to get so worked up about; as MP says, what you get from it is “about as interesting as watching the water level in a swimming pool rise.” Even among Catholic theologians (including MP and TSC) there are differences regarding the proper interpretation and implications of the argument. I doubt those little old ladies in the black dresses kneeling at Mass, or for that matter, the Catholic laity in general, have even ever heard of it.

Presumably religion, including Catholicism, is important because of its implications for morality and social policy. In my Basic Assumptions section, I state that “any attempt to premise moral, social or political doctrine upon a belief in god is fruitless and potentially harmful,” and many of my posts are devoted to developing this premise in discussions of issues such as abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, homosexuality and sexism. My Assumptions also challenge anyone who asserts a special right, or is attempting to dictate a social policy based on god-belief to prove not only that god exists, but to prove how the policy derives from the belief. Most of my criticism of religion is based upon the failure of those sort of proofs.

TSC’s blog is presumably devoted to proving the superiority of the religious outlook to the secular one, but in its two weeks of existence has yet to take a concrete position on any specific moral issue. Although he does say that he “might think that one religion is superior to another,” this is of little help since he won’t even say which religion he believes in, or precisely what sort of Catholic he is. Lately he’s been railing against science and materialism, but even if what he is saying about them makes any sense he never gives a specific example of how they impact on human happiness.

Veritas does express moral opinions but it’s not always clear how they tie into god-belief. Consider one of his posts from Monday:

Ideas tend to work themselves out…

On this past Friday’s episode of Law & Order: Special Victims’ Unit, the show closed with a father who had sold pornographic pictures of his prepubescent daughter since she was an infant defending himself and those like him. He claimed that just as society had once condemned inter-racial marriages and homosexuality before “coming around,” so too would society eventually come to accept pedophilia.

Scary stuff, indeed. But there is something of a point hidden in there: the consequences of the sexual revolution — which tore sexual intimacy away from childbearing and the family — are slowly working themselves out. While I certainly wouldn’t want to be misunderstood to mean that accepting homosexuality necessitates an acceptance of pedophilia, both exemplify a tragic misunderstanding of human sexuality which has become rampant over the past forty years or so.

The point of all this is that homosexuality is bad. It’s one of the “consequences of the sexual revolution.” Why it is a bad consequence is not at all clear; Veritas does not identify who is hurt by it, or how it is “tragic” in any way. True, a fictional heterosexual father who sells pornographic pictures of his daughter has linked homosexuality to pedophilia, but Veritas himself specifically disclaims that connection.

Presumably homosexuality is bad because the Catholic Church says that God thinks it’s bad; again, Veritas doesn’t give any other reason. But since God also opposes pedophilia, why does Veritas go out of his way to avoid being “misunderstood to mean that accepting homosexuality necessitates an acceptance of pedophilia”? A rejection of God’s will is a rejection of His will; why distinguish in any way between the two cases?

You’ll also note that the fictional father links the acceptance of inter-racial marriages to pedophilia. Why doesn’t Veritas oppose those marriages as well? They’re probably just as much a consequence of the sexual revolution. Aren’t they an expansion in the pool of people who are sexually attracted to each other? Don’t tell me that they’re more “natural” than same sex unions — the rate of inter-racial marriage is under 5%.

Finally, how is pedophilia a consequence of the sexual revolution? Has it really become that much more popular or accepted over the past forty years? Isn’t it a fact that it is taken much more seriously these days, that you hear a lot more about it in the news because people are refusing to permit it to be covered up anymore? I agree that there are some who still condone and protect it, but isn’t secular society at large taking measures to punish those evil-doers?

Parting Shot

Angelicum. Angel, I cum. Sorry, Chris, I couldn’t resist.

Columbia Shuttle Cartoon Contest Winner: Leigh-Anne of “Over Coffee”

February 11, 2003 | Comments Off

I am declaring Leigh-Anne of Over Coffee as winner of The Raving Atheist’s contest for the sickest cartoon using religion to trivialize the Columbia shuttle disaster for this entry:

Columbia.jpg

Actually, Leigh-Anne wins not so much for the sickness of the entry but her powers of rationalization. Although I would have preferred a cartoon of all seven astronauts in halos being addressed by St. Peter, I did say I would accept them actually inside Heaven engaged in some scientific activity. The cartoon clearly shows them inside the Pearly Gates and Leigh-Anne persuaded me that looking at the sky (which includes at least two Saturns) constitutes a form of space exploration.

Leigh-Anne also scored points for simple decency. Her blog is a link on “Leigh-Anne’s Animal Advocacy Network,” which is devoted to animal rights and rescue efforts. The site makes mine look dirty in comparison. Of course, my site looks dirty in comparison to some porn sites, but not by as much.

As her prize, Leigh-Anne wants your blood. Accordingly, she has also requested that I do a decent thing and post the following announcement (go to her announcement if you are outside New York City):

****

On Valentine’s Day don’t just give your heart…
Give your Blood and Give Life…

In case you haven’t read the news, the American Red Cross has had some trouble of late with potentially contaminated blood resulting in a large quarantine of the blood supply to the Tennessee Valley Region. In addition to this quarantine, the fact is that winter months are typically slow donor months which can cause blood supplies to dwindle.

So here’s my idea

Reverse-Transubstantiation Turns Atheist’s Blood into Alcohol

February 11, 2003 | Comments Off

Los Angeles, February 11, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

A rare case of reverse-transubstantiation turned an atheist’s blood into red wine at a Los Angeles blogger’s party last Friday, scientists have confirmed. Although the transformation was originally attributed to vodka consumption, The Screaming Atheist yesterday conceded that he was actually drinking the blood of virgins as part of a satanic ritual. “Believe me, there is no shortage of virgins at a blogger’s bash, so I seized upon the opportunity,” he said.

Under Catholic doctrine, transubstantiation is the process by which wine is turned into the blood of Christ during the sacrament of the Eucharist. However, because Christ’s blood is wasted on atheists, Jesus occasionally reverses the process to replenish the supply of usable wine. With his blood alcohol level nearing 100%, The Screaming Atheist was rendered unconscious for the remainder of the event. Christ later purged TSA’s body of toxins by converting the alcohol into vomit and urine.

Reserve transubstantiation also converts human flesh back into bread. Any blogger who ate what might have appeared to be a twelve-inch circumcised pretzel stick at the Bash is advised to call their local archdiocese for assistance.

Atheist Blogger Undeterred by Mortifying Public Humiliation

February 10, 2003 | Comments Off

Los Angeles, California, February 10, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

An atheist weblogger who fell into a theologically-induced alcoholic stupor at a crowded blog party will continue with his shrill, anti-religious moralistic pontificating despite the apparent stain upon his reputation. The Screaming Atheist — rendered unconscious for approximately four hours Friday night at downtown L.A.’s Xanadu by six overly-strong White Russians — declared that the incident had only strengthened his resolve to expose the falsity of God-belief and the stupidity and hypocrisy of its adherents.

“It’s not exactly like I was toppling skyscrapers with airplanes or buggering boys in the rectory, now, was it?” he asked rhetorically. “Nor was I even a belligerent drunk like those homophobic Papists in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.” TSA noted that he fully cooperated with the restaurant’s so-called “bouncer,” a term that he disputed should even be applied to someone you tip $10 to help you stand up and hail a cab, a fact that anyone who had bothered to question the alleged “bouncer” would have discovered.

The Screaming Atheist’s vodka-coma was innocently triggered by a series of sudden and unexpected theological queries by a “Mr. Twill,” who asked, as it can best be recalled, whether it was at least possible that some watered-down deistic, non-omnipotent form of consciousness played a role in the formation of the universe, although in hindsight it is doubted that Twill is sufficiently versed in theology to have phrased it precisely like that. Ultimately (and this is the last thing that TSA recalls saying), Twill was advised anything remotely capable of universe-creating would have long since converted itself (or TSA, if its love were truly so great) into an unfathomably large sphere festooned with an infinite number of penises orgasming piston-like into the endless void, while simultaneously the inner sphere itself experienced every conceivable intellectual, romantic and other pleasure for all of eternity — rather than devoting even an infinitesimal portion of its omniscience listening to the conversation we are having right now or making me a party to it in my present condition. This last thought short-circuited TSA’s brain.

In addition to minimizing the gravity of his conduct, The Screaming Atheist pointed out that the very fact that he found a need to minimize such innocuous-in-the-ultimately-meaningless-scheme-of-things conduct demonstrated that he had probably never done anything worse, the word “worse” best interpreted in the context of a standardless, relativistic, godless morality in which it probably means little more than that whatever other bad acts he may have committed were unwitnessed, unlike his conduct at the party or his later leaving the cab to urinate on a crowded expressway. Whatever the case, TSA contrasted his relatively blameless conduct with that of various sober God-believing bloggers present that night, whose theism he deduced from the fact that if, had they grasped the truth of atheism, they too would find themselves psychologically compelled to devote their blogs to declaring its virtues and analyzing every issue through a not-always seemingly relevant or applicable theological lens. Specifically, TSA noted, for all of their piety, the most any of them did before walking away sniggering was to ask “are you okay” when, for all they knew, he was dying or dead from alcohol poisoning. TSA also pointed out that some of them, not actually knowing whether he had died, rushed home to dishonor his memory by posting on their blogs gratuitously cruel and unflattering details such as how he was “hunched over the table with something dripping out his mouth” or “hunched over in an oh-no-I’m-about-to-puke pose” or “doubled over into a human C” or “look[ing] like he was going to pray at the porcelain altar.”

No, in fact, he was not dead but drying out in the back of a cab now-parked behind a Dunkin’ Donuts, pretending to the Egyptian-Muslim driver that the theological-equivalency of the participants in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict caused him to feel a political neutrality which he did in fact not, the whole matter so deftly phrased so as to seem to not really be attacking religion at all, especially not Islam. But if his co-bloggers did not know this, do they also not know that a force capable of affixing a pig-snout to the face of Benjamin Kepple could as easily use his digital camera at the next blogger bash to take easily misinterpreted pictures of them “scratching” the insides of their own noses? Not that he would stoop to tactics as ad hominem as theirs, his venom being reserved for the unpleasant, impersonal and philosophical task of destroying the hope-giving but false world-views of Godidiots like themselves.

TSA vowed, however, that he would not forgive those who attempted to frame The Raving Atheist — a New York blogger, who accordingly to Allan Baruz, is a “much thinner, younger man” — by placing a “Raving Atheist” nametag on TSA’s sweater. The fact that it was placed there is not seriously disputed; the unanimous testimony of all witnesses who saw TSA was that his drunken body displayed Raving’s name, quite legibly printed. If this proof of “how it got there” seems question-begging, theist tormentors, it is no more so than your own proof of “how the universe got here” and any attempts to refute it will backfire by demolishing the edifice of your own theology.

The Raving Atheist himself has disclaimed any desire for vengeance. “I can see why any of a number of the Godidiots to whom I have laid ruin might do this, but I do not blame them because it is the only weapon they have left,” he said. “However, I shall not use it against them as disproof of their beliefs, for the truth of an idea is not dependent upon the conduct of those who hold it.”

God Squad Review XXX

February 10, 2003 | Comments Off

Love is the topic of the Squad’s Valentine’s week essay, and they accurately, if tediously, identify the elements of life’s strongest and most intimate emotion. They note that “[l]ove is not an idea but a relationship,” something that “shows itself in the long run” and that “requires sacrifice, patience, listening, compromise and . . . courage.” But they ruin it at the end, of course, by declaring that the best form of human love is “the closest thing to the way God loves us all.”

If one’s spouse suddenly announced that she felt an intense love for even six other people — all of them utter strangers and some of them serial killers — one would question not only her fidelity but her sanity. Yet God presumably loves, infinitely and indiscriminately, every one of over six billion human beings, and each one of us is supposed to return this invisible affection. This concept of Christian love, a love directed into the air without any appreciation of the differences that actually make people lovable or unlovable, is completely empty.

People who declare a deep love of God never describe, unless they are delusional, any kind of conversation, communication or other interaction which could give rise to a legitimate emotion. They talk to the sky and infer that whatever muddled “answer” they work out in their heads has been placed there by the Almighty. On the other hand, in his omniscience God presumably has knowledge of our every thought and deed. The “relationship” is closer to one between a celebrity stalker and his victim. Except the stalker, while poring through massive scrapbooks on his victims, never summons up the courage to confront them.

It’s not a healthy concept. It’s devoid of any romantic, sexual or other intimate content. It’s an idea, not a relationship.

Don’t Ask . . .

February 8, 2003 | Comments Off

. . . me about last night. GOD. DAMN. IT. Who put my name tag on that pathetic man?

Guest Rave

February 8, 2003 | Comments Off

(Welcome to the Amish Tech Support Blog A Day Tour, where Laurence Simon is trying to write on a different blog every day for the year.)

I think there ought to be a sequel to “Being John Malkovich.” Instead of crawling into a tiny door behind some file cabinets and becoming John Malkovich for fifteen minutes, people ought to be stuck in Christopher Walken’s head as they’re desperately trying to claw their way out through a welded-shut manhole in Brooklyn.

Reward

February 7, 2003 | Comments Off

When I wrote my Wednesday post, I originally considered offering a bounty for the first Columbia-Shuttle-Astronauts-Greeted-By-St.-Peter-At-The-Pearly-Gates cartoon because I suspected, despite my protestations otherwise, that such an outrage was inevitable. Phil Dennison of Spielberg-Fan.com read my mind and supplied this comment with links to some offending creations which come pretty close to the mark. Jason Malloy (whose comment regarding the Texas Tech creationism recommendation controversy has been restored by Haloscan, see here),
provides a link directly one with St. Peter in it, although I think I saw the same one while scrolling down through Phil’s links.

However, most of the cartoons just show the shuttle itself sailing through space with a halo above its nose. Another shows it in the hand of God (unless that’s the Amazing Colossal Man). This is not sick enough. Hence, I hereby announce a contest. I want a cartoon that 1) depicts the individual astronauts striding into Heaven, 2) shows all of the astronauts, even the Jewish one, wearing halos, 3) has St. Peter (or a later Pope, or an angel) at the reception desk actually saying something to the new arrivals. A cartoon that does not show St. Peter is acceptable if instead it shows any of the astronauts engaged in some scientific activity in Heaven.

The Prize: The Raving Atheist will write a post on any religious topic, from any viewpoint, pro or con, strictly meeting the winner’s specifications. For example, if you despise me, you can have me post a sincere, heartfelt, non-sarcastic and non-ironic tribute to any Catholic (or Jewish or Islamic or Hindu) organization, person or blog, and the posting will be published without any disclaimer or explanation. The winner may also substitute a post of his or her own, credited or uncredited.

Honorable mention will be given to the first person to identify (with a source) the religion of astronaut Kalpana Chawla. I could not find it anywhere on Google. Do not tell me she is an Indian, that is not a religion. I have a feeling that some cartoonists have avoided the Heaven clich

Godidiots of the Week: The Secularist Critique and Minute Particulars

February 6, 2003 | Comments Off

This week’s Godidiots are the Catholic tag team of The Secularist Critique and Minute Particulars, who have been hotly disputing my interpretation and assessment of Aquinas’ first cause argument. Specifically, TSC and MP have leveled two charges: 1) that I have fabricated a contradiction in the first cause argument by inaccurately imputing to it the premise “everything has a cause” and 2) that I have misrepresented what the first cause argument proves, or is meant to prove, about God’s powers and attributes. What their arguments on these points actually show is, to quote TSC himself, that “[t]hey are a bunch of fools, they are so obviously stupid and irrational, not like [me] I am so very logical.” But I’ll respond to their quibbles nonetheless.

On the first point, TSC argues that “‘everything has a cause’ is in no way the same as saying ‘nothing is the efficient cause of itself.” He ascribes instead to Aquinas the principle that “[e]very beginning of existence requires a cause” because “self-caused existence is contradictory.” But the word “beginning” appears nowhere in the text; TSC has just smuggled this term in so he can later claim that God is exempt from having a cause because He is a form of existence without a beginning. So what we are left with is that “every existence (or being) requires a cause.” Everything. Including God.

MP takes a slightly different approach, asserting that God is not a “thing” within the meaning of everything or nothing. In fact, what Aquinas talks about is a sequence of “efficient causes;” God is also an “efficient cause” — the “first efficient cause.” What Aquinas says is that there is no case in which “a thing” is found to be the efficient cause of itself, he is not exempting God from this category. God is among those “things” which are efficient causes, and as such, is not self-caused. Rather, He is a first and uncaused thing.

As I stated in my earlier posts, there is nothing self-contradictory about an uncaused first cause, or about an infinite regress of causes. Neither TSC nor MP dispute this. So, apart from the contradiction described above, it’s difficult to understand why either of them think Aquinas’ argument is sound. The whole point of it is to prove that there is a first cause instead of an infinite regress. If both scenarios are still possible, how has Aquinas’ logic accomplished anything at all? And you’ll note that Aquinas’ entire disproof of the infinite regress is the statement that it is “plainly false.” Because there has to be a first cause.

TSC and MP descend into a rare form of double-talk in addressing my second point regarding what we can know about the alleged first cause. As I originally noted, “[b]eing first or being infinite doesn’t imply being omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent or, for that matter, even conscious.” Amusingly, both Godidiots attempt to derive the divine attributes from the “being infinite” — my reference to the infinite regress of causes — which is the very possibility rejected by Aquinas’ argument! Of course, they do so by changing the meaning of infinite, in completely question-begging fashion, to mean omnipotent, etc., etc. I suppose it does . . . after all, there are an infinite number of real numbers between seven and eight, and we all know how they control the universe.

MP, to his credit, initially hedges a bit on his claims for the first cause argument. He appears to agree with the “polite commentator” (an “m jct,” who rivals me for the sheer nastiness of his invective), who states that “logically, [my] criticism of the godidiots is akin to criticizing a baseball player for not kicking a field goal.” The god you get from Aquinas’ arguments, MP says, is “impersonal and about as interesting as chewing chalk.” So the argument isn’t really about God at all, it turns out; it’s just a metaphysical distraction about firstness or infiniteness.

Aquinas, of course, expressly states that “the existence of God can be proven,” and quotes the God of Exodus. It’s all part of an elaborate verbal bait-and-switch game: claim that “God” can be proven through logic, and then imply that this “God” is somehow the same God of the Bible. MP concedes that the Christian god is only known through “deliberate revelation,” and TSC today declares that “a religious person doesn’t need any syllogism or proof, he doesn’t need any evidence at all, all he needs is a good reason to trust someone or something as an authority and that is good enough.” It’s more than a little odd that the one thing about my blog that these Godidiots have gotten all worked up about is my alleged misuse of reason, when they abandon it at the first inconvenient objection and declare that it doesn’t get us anywhere anyway.

In sum, the first cause argument is self-contradictory, unsound, and ultimately meaningless. The universe either had a cause, an infinite series of causes, or has existed, for a finite or infinite amount of time, without a cause. Aquinas doesn’t establish which possibility is the true one. Nor does he prove that the cause, the series of causes, or the universe itself, are conscious or anything else.

Pettiness

February 5, 2003 | Comments Off

Out of common human decency, The Raving Atheist never exploits tragedy to score cheap theological points or mock the sincerely devout. I have stated this policy on several occasions (here, here, here, and here) and I do not intend to depart from it today. The Columbia space shuttle disaster was a terrible national tragedy which claimed the lives of seven brave and talented people, an event which should not be used by religious or irreligious partisans for political gain. The magnitude of the loss was such that attempts of that nature would rightly be viewed as petty, mean-spirited and small at a time when we all need to come together and affirm our larger goals and common humanity.

It is, in fact, this very reason that I find myself compelled to speak out against what appears to be an unfortunate trivialization of the catastrophe in certain quarters. Now, I’ve become accustomed to seeing, when some celebrity or other notable dies, newspaper cartoons showing the departed being greeting by St. Peter at the gates of Heaven — usually accompanied by caption reflecting the Saint’s sentiment that “God’s been waiting for a good shortstop” (or saxophonist or dancer or whatever the deceased excelled at). This clich

Another Recommendation

February 5, 2003 | Comments Off

Due to a last-minute oversight, I neglected to credit Jason Malloy for alerting me to the creationism controversy at Texas Tech and providing the necessary links for yesterday’s Rave. I also recommend that you read Jason’s update and insightful analysis in the comment section to that posting; as he points out, the professor who refuses to give recommendations to creationists is himself a Catholic.

A Recommendation

February 4, 2003 | Comments Off

A Texas Tech University biology professor who denies recommendations to students who reject evolution is under investigation by the United States Department of Justice for religious discrimination. On his website, professor Michael Dini advises students to be prepared to answer the question “How do you think the human species originated?” and warns that “[i]f you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance to further education in the biomedical sciences.” Dini justifies this anti-creationist policy on the grounds that “it is easy to imagine how physicians who ignore or neglect the Darwinian aspects of medicine or the evolutionary origin of humans can make bad clinical decisions” and that “good scientists would never throw out data that do not conform to their expectations or beliefs.”

The case will ultimately be decided in the professor’s favor on other grounds having to do with academic freedom and discretion, and free speech. That being said, The Raving Atheist believes that it is perfectly legitimate to discriminate against people based upon their beliefs, where those beliefs are relevant to the situation at hand. A person is, in essence, nothing more than a collection of beliefs, so beliefs are really all that we can use to judge one another. Religious beliefs should command no special deference and, if anything, they should be viewed with suspicion since so many of them are false, meaningless or arbitrary. It would be ludicrous to ignore such beliefs in evaluating a student’s scientific competence where they directly contradict the very conclusions of the discipline in question.

Is this the sort of conflict that presents itself in the Texas Tech case? I don’t know. A prerequisite to any recommendation from professor Dini is an “A” grade in one of his classes. Presumably this means that an eligible student will have some degree of scientific proficiency. I am not fully persuaded by the professor’s explanation regarding the effect upon one’s clinical decision-making ability. People tend to partition their brains and compartmentalize their religious beliefs, suspending them when necessary to function in the everyday world. Catholic doctors don’t substitute red wine for blood during transfusions because they believe in the doctrine of substantiation (although I suppose a Jehovah’s Witness, if any of them are doctors, would refuse to give one). That a person ignores evidence in formulating his religious creed isn’t proof that he will do so in his professional life.

With respect to evolution, one can believe that Satan planted the fossils to deceive or test mankind, but still be able to accurately describe the archeological record in terms of what Satan intended to make us think. It would not affect one’s competency in the subject any more that the belief that God actively directs every stage of the evolutionary process, or that God created the natural laws at the beginning of time to make the plan possible. All that is necessary is the ability to describe that process or plan in terms of the available evidence, regardless of one’s metaphysical theory regarding how the evidence got there.

People also hold all sorts of non-religious philosophical beliefs which do not intrude upon their professional competency. One could believe, at some intellectual level, in Bertrand Russell’s “five minute hypothesis” — that the universe and all of our knowledge and memories of it were created just five minutes ago. Although we have no reason to believe it, it’s not falsifiable; no evidence could possibly count against it. Some atheists believe that numbers are merely arbitrary human conventions, in the same way that religious people believe that God created them and can make 1 + 1 = 3 at will. Again, these sort of meta-beliefs do not necessarily affect one’s ability to be a mathematician.

Creationists, of course, frequently do attempt to twist the evidence to conform to Biblical truth. Professor Dini is perfectly within his rights to determine whether that is the sort of mindset he is dealing with, or whether the creationism is something that is kept in a closet and taken out only for church. Likewise, the professor is entitled to decide whether the kid pontificating about the five minute hypothesis is a fun-loving philosophy major or a certifiable loon. The question is not whether the belief is religious or not, but whether the student seriously believes in it in any way that matters. And certainly, as noted before, the religious nature of the belief should not immunize it from “discrimination.”

I suspect that the Justice Department is interested in more than defending a student’s right to hold an idle, private, personal religious belief. It likely wants to defend creationism, at some level, as a co-equal scientific theory. If that is the case, I don’t understand why it is concerned only with professor Dini’s recommendation policy; it should be re-grading his evolution exams as well, making sure that all those students who wrote that the Earth is 6,000 years old got equal credit. And if the Justice Department’s position is only that false creationism beliefs don’t affect professional competency, it should examine all of professor Dini’s recommendations to insure that he did not unfairly penalize some equally false but irrelevant secular philosophical belief. If it’s wrong to discriminate against religion, it’s equally wrong to discriminate in favor of it.

God Squad Review XXIX

February 3, 2003 | Comments Off

Divine-command morality is out the window at the Squad this week. “M” of East Islip obeys speed limits only when the cops are in sight, breaking the law the minute the coast is clear. The Squad advises M that the fear of the police is “an immature and infantile reason to do good,” and that one should “do the right thing just because it is the right thing.”As the Squad explains it, “[t]he key move in the moral life is the move from acting out of fear of punishment to acting out of love for the truth and the good . . . which, in our opinion, is the same as acting out of the love of God.” In the case of speed limits, “[d]riving at (or within five miles of) the speed limit” is true and good because it “allows you to react to traffic problems in time to save your life” and the lives of others. However, it is good “not because [it] is the law or because of that police car cruising behind you.”

A surprising about-face, indeed, for the Squad. In the past they have assured us that God has indeed set up a very elaborate system of reward and punishment, Heaven and Hell (here and here) to regulate moral conduct. Indeed, they have indicated, without God and his threats and promises there would be “no reason to do good.” And doing right for right’s sake isn’t necessarily a component of being good: things like Jesus-belief and baptism may well take precedence over our usual notions of rightness.

I fully embrace the notion that obeying traffic laws is good because doing so saves lives. But the theory is completely incompatible with the notion of an afterlife. No lives are really lost if there is an afterlife, and if, in fact, the afterlife is better than this existence, there’s no reason to save our earthly lives at all.

Stop the Investigation

February 2, 2003 | Comments Off

Just watched Jeff Flock of CNN ask a child development specialist how she explained to the kids “why God took the space shuttle.” Her answer: “It was their time to go and He needed more people to play with in Heaven.” Whew. I thought He was punishing the United States for its arrogance. In any event, this will spare NASA a long and expensive inquiry into the disaster.

Anti-Secular Gods Decry Anti-Anti-Secularism

February 2, 2003 | Comments Off

Everywhere, February 2, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Alarmed by the rising tide of anti-anti-secularism, a number of concerned deities have spoken out to condemn the critics of the opposition to the rejection of religion. “The fool in his heart hath said,

Don’t Look at Me

February 1, 2003 | Comments Off

Yes, I heard Bush’s speech, and no, I’m not that mean. Actually, I’m just too busy right now to comment. More on this next week.

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