The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2003 May

Blame Gideon

May 30, 2003 | 87 Comments

They still use it to swear in witnesses, but just look what happens when the “Good” Book ends up in the wrong room:

Death Sentence Overturned Because Jury Used Bible

DENVER (Reuters) – A judge overturned a convicted murderer’s death sentence because jurors consulted Biblical passages such as an “eye for an eye” during death-penalty deliberations.

Robert Harlan was convicted and sentenced to death in 1995 for the murder of Rhonda Maloney, a waitress who was driving home from work when Harlan forced her car off the road.

Harlan also shot and paralyzed good Samaritan Jaquie Creazzo who tried to come to the woman’s aid.

Jury members stayed in a hotel during deliberations and court officials made sure newspapers were not delivered to their rooms, but the jurors did find bibles in the rooms.

“The jury supervision performed in this case was extremely negligent and appallingly lax,” Vigil wrote in his ruling. “Jury resort to biblical code has no place in a constitutional death penalty proceeding.”

Vigil has not yet set a date for Harlan’s resentencing.

“We respect[fully] disagree and will appeal,” Adams County assistant district attorney Steve Bernard said. He also said the record was not clear about whether a bible was brought into the jury room.

In a five-day hearing last month, Harlan’s attorneys argued that several jurors consulted biblical scripture during jury deliberations, particularly two Old Testament passages from Leviticus that read, “fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.” And, “whoever kills an animal shall restore it, but whoever kills a man shall be put to death.”

Prosecutors had argued that the sequestration order applied to news media coverage and that jurors should be allowed to draw upon their personal moral code including the Bible while rendering a verdict.

Although prohibited now, direct appeals to Biblical authority by both the prosecution and defense apparently used to be quite common in criminal trials. The story above reminded me of the murder trial summations in Truman Capote’s non-fiction “novel” In Cold Blood:

[Defense attorney] Fleming’s [sentencing] speech, described by one journalist as “soft-sell,” amounted to a mild churchly sermon: “Man is not an animal. He has a body, and he has a soul that lives forever. I don’t believe man has the right to destroy that house, a temple, in which the soul dwells….” Harrison Smith, though he too appealed to the jurors’ presumed Christianity, took as his main theme the evils of capital punishment.

* * *

[Prosecutor Green’s summation]: “I have no intention of engaging in theological debate. But I anticipated that defense counsel would use the Holy Bible as an argument against the death penalty. You have heard the Bible quoted. But I can read, too.” He slapped open a copy of the Old Testament. “And here are a few things the Good Book has to say on the subject. In Exodus Twenty, Verse Thirteen, we have one of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not kill.’ This refers to unlawful killing. Of course it does, because in the next chapter, Verse Twelve, the penalty for disobedience of that Commandment reads: ‘He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.’ Now, Mr. Fleming would have you believe that all this was changed by the coming of Christ. Not so. For Christ says, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.’ And finally — ” Green fumbled, and seemed to accidentally shut the Bible, whereupon the visiting legal dignitaries grinned and nudged each other, for this was a venerable court-room ploy — the lawyer who while reading from the Scriptures pretends to lose his place, and then remarks, as Green now did, “Never mind. I think I can quote from memory. Genesis Nine, Verse Six: ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’

The trial recounted in the novel took place in 1960. At that time daily Bible readings were still mandatory in many public school systems.

As I’ve noted , I support capital punishment. I would have voted for it were I on the jury in the Robert Harlan case, or on the jury which deliberated in the case described in Capote’s book (a quadruple homicide; the killers were hanged in 1965). And I subscribe, to a degree, to the retributive principle expressed by the Biblical maxim “an eye for an eye.”

Nevertheless, I agree that the Bible has no place in the jury room. A criminal trial determines the moral culpability of a particular person for a particular crime. Seeking the general, abstract counsel of an imaginary being can only distract jurors from this duty. It shifts the focus away from the issues such as guilt or innocence, mitigation, and whether the punishment fits the crime. Instead, the focus becomes whether the punishment is authorized by a book, or whether the juror has “permission” to impose a sentence already authorized by law.

In the Harlan case, as noted, the defendant murdered a waitress homebound after a day’s work, and paralyzed another person brave and decent enough to intervene, Presumably the jury learned how the victims were picked at random, learned about of the suffering of their families and about other aggravating factors. It’s hard to fathom the mindset of a juror who, after all hearing all that, would think that the Bible might offer any help in the decision-making process. Probably the thought process went something like this: “Well, yes, that’s terrible, but I must go consult my personal moral code

The Nigerian Scam Meets the Raving Atheist (Part VII)

May 29, 2003 | 10 Comments

Recap: In previous correspondence (see e-mails 1-8, here, 9-11, here, 12-21, here, 22-30, here, 31-36, here and 37-54, here), a Nigerian con artist — motivated by my promise of a $275,000 payday — has responded to an extraordinary number of perverted theological inquiries posed to him by people he believes to the officers and directors of a multi-million dollar Christian publishing house, Raving Industries. Thinking he’s about to receive the money, he agrees to become the company’s permanent “Spiritual Advisor” and answer up to five religious questions a day. At the last minute he’s crushed by the revelation that his new employer has naively send his money to a different e-mail scammer — a Mr. “Christopher Besteden” — who claims to be Ntha’s partner. Dr. Ntha becomes hysterical and sends a series of intemperate e-mails condemning Besteden as a “fraudster” and imploring Raving Industries not to deal with him. The company, however, assures Ntha that they know he is merely denying his relationship with Besteden as part of “security” measure intended to protect the parties in the case of an investigation by governmental authorities.

Last week, I tempted the Doctor with another $1.3 million — on condition that he 1) send an e-mail confirming that he actually knows Besteden, and 2) write three poems about Jesus. He refuses, apparently afraid that the other scammer is just attempting to humiliate him further, and the transfer is postponed. This week I give Dr. Ntha another chance at riches and he responds with a little clumsy reverse psychology.

Part 55: Holier Than Thou

Although he was told that nobody would be around at Raving Industries for five days, Dr. Ntha and his partner jump the gun with a couple more desperate e-mails. They refuse to acknowlege a relationship with Mr. Besteden, even though I’ve made it clear that their “partner” is no longer in a position to divert their share of the loot. Instead, they bury me with scripture in an attempt to convince me that Besteden is an impersonator, and that they’re so pious that they wouldn’t lie even for a million dollars. This, of course, is a lie, a lie calculated to convince me to send them a million dollars.

Subj: Read the Price of falsehood in Revelation chapter 21 verses 8.
Date: 5/21/2003 4:53:32 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com
CC: GreerJared@aol.com, [John Doe], RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Greeting to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Sister Eva, Mrs. Anne Dennison-Leigh, Ravinga,

I received your mail with the contents well noted and understand for which my thanks. Am just coming back from mid week service and it happens that the topic of the service is exactly what is happening in this transaction, the study case is that of Esau and Jacob Genesis chapter 27 verse 1-46,Hebrew chapter 12 verse 16 and 17,so impersonation is old as the world, you can imagine where a brother impersonate his own brother to receive his blessing from their father without their father knowing that he is blessing the wrong person.

However, you see I cherish this transaction so much but the price of falsehood is terrible which everybody that is aware of it will try as hard as possible to avoid, read the following portions of the bible for the price of unfaithfullness/falshood;2 kings chapter 5 verse 1-27,Joshua chapter 7 verse 1-26;8 chapter 8 verse 1-29 in this quotations you will understand the full implications of lies.

Finally, if the Almighty God can deliver Daniel from the lion’s den for being faithfully (Daniel Chapter 1-28) also Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nogo from the lake of fire (Daniel chapter 3 verse 1-30) He can as well deliver me as he is impartial God. I have tried all I can to prove to you that all am saying is nothing but the truth but if you think otherwise, well its left for you, I told you that the money you wanted to transfer US$1,375,000 will be enough for the expenses to transfer the money US$38.6M into your nominated account

Read the price of falsehood in Revelation chapter 21 verses 8.

I will be waiting for your response.

Yours in Christ,
Brother Ntha

Subj: Re: Wire Transfer Report
Date: 5/22/2003 5:37:12 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: [John Doe]
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com
CC: GreerJared@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Dear Sister Eva, Mr. Ravinga, Mrs.Anne Dennison-Leigh,

After going through your various mails and the mails my friend Dr. Akpu copied me I began to wonder why you are still insisting that he Dr.Akpu knows this Besteden and as a civil servant how Besteden will have foreign account as the Lloyd has him as the beneficiary, also you are asking me to send you confirmation letter as a partner to Dr Akpu and colleague while am just assisting them receive the money for expenses and not a partner as you may think.

Am stressing all this because my friend is much disturbed if not I should not have to reply your various mail, at least I know a lot of people will compromise their faith by telling you that they know him just to satisfy you as you just need to confirm there will be no more dispute if you transfer the money. But Dr.Akpu keeps to his faith as a reputable Christian.

I will advise you to look into the matter carefully and make you are not making any mistake and if you are no more interested in assisting them receive the money you let them know but if you are still interested you should forward the money for expense as he said that the money you want to transfer will take care of the expense till you receive the money in your nominated account.

Thanks,

Mr. [John Doe]

CEO, [BBB Limited]

Part 56: Renegotiation

I pretend that Mr. Besteden has renegotiated Raving Industries’ share to help resolve a partnership dispute. Again, Dr. Ntha is promised $1.3 million if he’ll only write a few Jesus poems — and is told that the deal’s off if he fails to comply.

He’s also been told that for some obscure “tax” reason, Raving Industries doesn’t care if Mr. Besteden keeps the $282,350 he’s already received. In addition to tormenting Dr. Ntha with the idea that Besteden has gotten away with financial murder at his expense, I wanted Ntha to feel emboldened to rip off Raving Industries in a similar manner without worrying that the company would later be trying to track down the funds.

Finally, after teasing Ntha with the disclosure that Besteden’s going to be feeding at the trough as Raving Industries financial advisor even if the deal is called off, I take advantage of his position as our unpaid Spiritual Advisor to grill him about the “problem of evil.”

Subj: Dispute Resolution
Date: 5/26/2003 10:15:52 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe] drakpuntha@xyz.com
CC: DennisonLeigh, Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. Vincent Obiazor

cc: Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

Upon my return from the monastery I was distressed to learn that various partnership disputes among you have delayed the progress of this venture. Mr. Besteden advises me that the primary dispute involves approximately 0.75% of the ultimate commission. To resolve this question matter Raving Industries is willing to reduce its 35% share to 34.25%. I understand that whatever remaining issues you may have are relatively minor and should be settled once the financial question is resolved.

As we have discussed, to expedite this matter we shall deposit the first installment of $1,375,000 into Lloyds TSB Bank, Special Account [Type 4], (Beneficiary: C. S. Besteden) on Thursday, May 29, 2003. However, the funds will be deposited for accounting purposes only and will be frozen until receipt of the confirmation letter and poetry. If the requested information is received on or before Wednesday, May 28, 2003, we will transfer the second installment of $1,375,000 to HSBC Guernsey, London, Account No. 011-505-278-360, Sort Code 40-32-28 (Beneficiary: Aviex Limited) on Thursday as well and all funds will be immediately available for withdrawal.

We will consider our agreement with you terminated if the information is not timely provided as set forth above. Raving Industries’ fiscal year closes on June 30, 2003 and any tax benefits of the transfer will be lost if it is not completed by that date. As we have discussed, you will not be required to refund the $282,250 insofar as we can fully recover the expense as a charitable tax deduction, without incurring the additional transaction costs associated with a return of the funds. Additionally, Mr. Besteden has agreed to continue as our Nigerian political advisor for a stipend of $6,500 per month.

Dr. Ntha, to you as our Spiritual Advisor Director Ravinga poses the following questions:

1) Why does God permit suffering in the world?
2) Why does God permit innocent children to die?
3) Why does God not punish wrongdoers on earth?
4) What function do diseases serve in God’s plan?
5) Do evil people ever go to Heaven?

Yours in Christ,

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 57: A True Christian

Who knows? Maybe Dr. Ntha is a true Christian. And he’s hearing voices. But he’s still trying to rip me off for over a million dollars.

I don’t know why Ntha is suddenly concerned about Reverend Swill. When I originally annointed Ntha as Spiritual Advisor, I told him that Swill, an ordained minister, would be asking all the religious questions and that all of Ntha’s future correspondence should be forwarded to him. However, Ntha failed to do this so I ultimately deleted Swill’s AOL screen name. I guess he began to copy him on the correspondence and found that his e-mails were being returned as undeliverable.

Subj: PLEASE GIVE THE PHONE NUMBER OF BESTEDEN.
Date: 5/26/2003 6:51:07 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: DennisonLeigh@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, [John Doe]

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Sister Eva, Ravinga, Mrs. Anne Dennison-Leigh.
I welcome you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and praying that God will grant you more zeal to work in his vineyard.

Firstly, Raving Industries percentage remains unchangeable 35%,that is our initial agreement and our word is our bound. and Please for Christ sake give me the phone number of this Besteden as I know he may not call me but this my direct phone number 234-1-8047731, secondly my worries is over since you can deduct the money you mistakenly transferred into a Lloyd account as charitable tax, It is a good news to heart because I was finding it very difficult to initiate you in a transaction you have lost your hard earned money as I know that I cannot lie, see what happens to Gehazi in 2 kings chapter 5 verse1-27 because he lied, if I know these Besteden I could have told you but whereas I don’t know him I cannot compromise my faith because of anything. the only way to solve this problem is for you to give their phone number as I have provided mine but I know that he will not call me as he maybe afraid for impersonating somebody as it is a criminal offence here in Nigeria.

However, my dear brothers/sisters in Christ it will a shameful thing to our Lord for me to compromise my faith because of material thing, I have prayed many times because of this transaction but whenever am praying I will be hearing a voice singing this particular track from Don Meon album for me GOD WILL MAKE A WAY WHEN IT SEEMS TO BE NO WAY. You know that the questions I asked you about my official car to ask Besteden last time you have not given me any response about that, this could have be a better solution for to understand that what am telling you since last week Thursday is nothing but the truth. I DON’T KNOW THIS MAN, but if you can give me his number we will fix a meeting and know each other..

Director Ravinga, regards to your questions
(1)God permit sufferings in the world because of disobedient to his words, suffering is old as the world read the following portions of the bible for more details; Ecclesiastes chapter 4 verse 1-3,Genesis chapter 5 verse 29,Genesis chapter 3 verse 17-19,Eccleslastes chapter 8 verse 11.

(2)Bible made us to understand that death is transformation and it is debt that everybody has to pay read the following portions of the bible for more explanation, Aisia chapter 35 verses 10,Revelation chapter 17 verse 17,1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 52.

(3) Before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, God punishes the wrongdoers on earth but after our Lord came and died for our sins God prepares a hell fire for the wrongdoers.

(4) Diseases do not serve any function in Gods plan.

(5) Heaven is prepared for the righteous, so evil people will not enter into it rather they evil people have their portions in lake of fire. Read Revelation chapter 21 verse 4.

Please for Christ sake give me the phone number of Besteden so that we can resolve all this dispute as you resolve dispute only with the person you know or you can go ahead and send the money US$1,375000.00 to the HSBC account and we will proceed as we initial planed.

How about Rev. Swil?

I await your very urgent response,

Yours in Christ,
Brother Ntha

Part 58: Party’s Over?

I give Dr. Ntha the kiss-off. I tell him he’s lost everything and his worst enemy will continue on our payroll. Will he continue to answer my questions?

Subj: Termination of Agreement
Date: 5/28/2003 4:03:47 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, drakpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe’
CC: Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries, RevSwill, DennisonLeigh

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. Vincent Obiazor

cc: Mr. Christopher Besteden

Gentlemen,

Pursuant to my e-mail of 26 May 2003, the NEPA transaction is hereby terminated for your failure to comply with the conditions precedent. As agreed, please destroy all documents relating to our negotiations.

Mr. Besteden, this confirms that your account for the purposes of your monthly stipend has been changed to into Lloyds TSB Bank, Checking Preferred Type 1 (Beneficiary: C. S. Besteden).

Dr. Ntha, insofar as you have continued to direct your correspondence to me I have been forwarding the theological questions of all members of the Directorate to you. Since we have now concluded the business part of our relationships you may henceforth send your answers directly to him. He has asked me, however, to forward the following questions to you (please respond to RevSwill@aol.com):

1) Do Jesus, Mary and God always know what each other is thinking?
2) Do Jesus, Mary and God talk to each other, or communicate with thought waves?
3) Are Jesus, Mary and God together at all times?
4) If not, do they set up special meetings to discuss important matters?
5) Where do Jesus, Mary and God meet to discuss things, if they do hold meetings?

Yours in Christ,

Eva Greer-Jared

UPDATE (6/5/03): The saga continues here.

The Beste Theory of Atheism? (Part 2)

May 28, 2003 | 103 Comments

Steven Den Beste originally objected to my form of “proof atheism” on the ground that it didn’t account for every meaningless, hypothetical, apathetic deistic non-Christian God of the Philosophers. He chided me for too strongly equating “God” with the Christian God and proposed a couple of non-Christian constructs, Fred and Balder, as counter-examples. After I pointed out that nobody actually believes in Fred or Balder — and that any Christian bloggers who thought his “it’s all a matter of faith” principle were deluded if they thought it applied to their God — Den Beste posted the following comment to my site:

I do not agree with you that it is possible to disprove the existence of the Christian God. Nor do I “share your disdain for a tooth-fairy God” etc.

He elaborates on this statement here, making three related points:

1) My position that the Christian God (or any god) is disprovable rests on a confusion between induction and deduction. Specifically, I’ve failed the to recognize that induction (while sometimes highly reliable) does not provide, like deduction, conclusive, logically-provable results.

2) My case against the Christian God is largely an inductive one, and thus a non-objective and non-provable one.

3) There’s not enough consensus on the nature of the Christian God to allow for a generally applicable deductive disproof.

Tellingly, Den Beste concedes that at least some Christian gods are deductively disprovable. He also concedes that even within the uncertain and unprovable realm of inductive reasoning, “[n]ot all religious positions are equally worthy of respect and many are only worthy of utter contempt” — and that in particular, creationists are “idiots.” I think these concessions alone demonstrate that our differences (if we have any) have very little to do with the inductive/deductive distinction or some metaphysical issue of “provability.” The notion that a god decided to have a son just 2,000 years ago (after waiting somewhere between 20 billion and an infinite number of years) to effect a bizarre salvation-by-belief scheme is every bit as idiotic as any 6,000-year-old-earth creation theory.

But to address his technical points:

My Basic Assumptions do not rely exclusively or even heavily upon induction; nowhere in them do I elaborate upon a single scientific or empirical theory. Rather, every single one of the numbered disproofs of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God listed in my first assumption is purely deductive. They depend exclusively upon logical contradictions in meaning arising among the terms “omipotence,” “omniscience,” “omnibenevolence” and others. So to the extent that any Christian God is defined in any part by reference to those terms, it is as deductively disprovable as a square circle. It is completely irrelevant that some of those gods may also have an empirical, historical, inductively-based component

The Uncola

May 27, 2003 | 27 Comments

Evangelical Christians are conspiring to “lure” and “woo” Muslims, say a front page article in today’s New York Times. Christianity Today mocks this shocking revelation, pointing out that that’s the whole point of evangelism.

As I’ve noted before, advocacy about important matters is considered an all-American pastime in every area except religion. While it’s fine to be a member of a particular faith, it’s impolite to persuade others to join you in being part of that faith. It’s a strange attitude, given that religion is often said to represent the “ultimate truth” and be the most important part of a person’s life.

Sometimes, though (and always, in my book) the decision is as trivial as the choice between two soft drinks. That’s that moral that the CT piece, perhaps unintendedly, promotes in recounting an article (similar to the Times one) that appeared last year in another publication:

In May 2002, Mother Jones ran a cover article titled, “False Prophets: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Aims to Eliminate Islam.” The shocking revelation of the article was that evangelical missionaries, in a “stealth crusade,” are serving in Muslim countries and sharing their faith. It reported that the mission was to “wipe out Islam.”

In reaction, [Christianity Today] Books & Culture executive editor Michael G. Maudlin wrote, “The religious illiteracy demonstrated by Mother Jones should be embarrassing. What did they think missionaries do? . . . If this is our attempt to eliminate Islam, then we are guilty as charged. In the same vein, then, Pepsi is guilty of wanting to eliminate Coke drinkers.”

Coke and Pepsi? Try Atheism — The Uncola.

Apatheism

May 27, 2003 | 10 Comments

Jonathan Rauch cheerleads for “apatheism” in The Atlantic this month. Apatheism, says Rauch, is the “disinclination to care all that much about one’s own religion, and an even stronger disinclination to care about other people’s.” It’s not a religion itself, he continues, but an attitude:

Apatheism concerns not what you believe but how. In that respect it differs from the standard concepts used to describe religious views and people. Atheism, for instance, is not at all like apatheism; the hot-blooded atheist cares as much about religion as does the evangelical Christian, but in the opposite direction. “Secularism” can refer to a simple absence of devoutness, but it more accurately refers to an ACLU-style disapproval of any profession of religion in public life — a disapproval that seems puritanical and quaint to apatheists.

Rauch notes that even the most devout religionists can be apatheists: he has Christian friends “who organize their lives around an intense and personal relationship with God, but who betray no sign of caring that I am an unrepentantly atheistic Jewish homosexual.” And he concludes that the world would be better off with more apatheists: “people who feel at ease with religion even if they are irreligious; people who may themselves be members of religious communities, but who are neither controlled by godly passions nor concerned about the (nonviolent, noncoercive) religious beliefs of others.”

I myself am pretty much an apatheist as to astrology, numerology, elves, leprechauns and the like. I know they’re hogwash, but people for the most part don’t take those things very seriously, and don’t generally clamor to have the associated beliefs enforced or privileged by the law. But God is taken seriously, and religious belief has unfortunately been accorded constitutional protections and benefits that no other ideology receives. Frequently these special rights are exercised in a very coercive manner which makes apathy impossible, a point which Rauch only fleetingly acknowledges and grossly underestimates. I’ll become an apatheist when the legislatures repeal religiously-sanctioned child abuse laws, religious exemptions from narcotics laws, anti-gay sodomy statutes and religious tax exemptions.

Rauch portrays himself as an innocent bystander caught in crossfire between equally unreasonable evangelical Christians and raving atheists. It’s a bit like blaming both sides when you’re in the middle of a gun battle between the police and hostage-taking bank robbers. Every single church/state separation dispute that ever arises originates in some unilateral, coercive aggression from the religious side. Atheists don’t go marching into churches attempting to silence private services. But the religious do insist that all public school children pay tribute to God on a daily basis, and Congress passes unanimous resolutions and stages demonstrations to express support of this preference.

I suppose I’m expressing the sort of “ACLU-style disapproval of any profession of religion in public life” that Rauch thinks apatheism would cure. Mary at KnotMag agrees with him, opining that “[t]his kind of thinking would help clear up disputes about using the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and all those types of lawsuits.” I can guarantee you that it would not. Even apatheists such as Rauch would shed their laissez-faire pretense the instant the the word “God” in the Pledge was replaced by “Jesus,” “Vishnu” or “Allah” — quaint and puritanical as their new-found objections might seem.

And Rauch’s deeply devout Christian friends simply aren’t as religious as he thinks. If they believed that their “unrepentantly atheistic Jewish homosexual” friend were truly in danger of hellfire, they’d rush in to save him as surely as if he were trapped in a burning house. Morally speaking, there would be no distinction between the two situations, except that the prospect of eternal damnation might call for a more drastic response. His neighbors are apathetic because they’re not crazy, not because they’re tolerant.

The main problem with Rauch’s apatheism is that it’s not a feature of many religious beliefs. Dr. Linda Karges-Bone of Prayerful Parenting Online put it best:

God’s word foretells of Apatheism. Revelation 3:16: “So, because you are lukewarm

Happy Memorial Day

May 26, 2003 | 4 Comments

In Memory of Atheists in Foxholes

foxholes.jpg

And all the $@#@%#!! Godidiots too.

Sunday Sermon

May 25, 2003 | 16 Comments

The world plainly resembles more an animal or a vegetable, than it does a watch or a knitting-loom.

David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

What’s Catholicism Got to Do with It?

May 24, 2003 | 4 Comments

“Gays and Catholics: Can we tolerate both? How do we live with our deepest differences?”

Those questions form the title and introductory sentence of this column by former Godidiot Maggie Gallagher. The context was the debate over Senator Santorum’s remarks supporting the constitutionality of Texas’ sodomy law, laws which criminalize homosexual conduct and place gays in prison for being gay. Gallagher herself finds the idea of criminalizing private sexual conduct “troubling,” but doesn’t necessarily oppose it if the majority wants it:

I know I do not want to see sex elevated to a constitutional right. Decisions about how to regulate sexuality should be governed by the normal democratic process, not by the weird values of people who go to law school.

Curiously, the only reference to Catholicism is made in a parenthetical toward the end of the very last paragraph:

Disagreements about homosexuality are not going to go away because (unlike racism) they are not based primarily on prejudices, fear or animus but on profound disagreements about the meaning, purpose and function of human sexuality. I believe that men and women are made for each other, that we are a two-sex species designed for sexual, not unisexual, reproduction. You may disagree. That is fine. I am surrounded by people who disagree with me on sexual matters. We can live together in civil society without hating or oppressing one another.

We can, that is, unless you believe Sen. Santorum’s name-calling critics, who suggest we have to choose between tolerating gays and lesbians and tolerating common sense (not to mention Catholicism) in public life. Aren’t there enough grown-ups around to do both?

Of course it’s insane to talk about civility and non-oppression and tolerance when the only question in dispute is whether your side of the debate should be permitted to continue to imprison those on the other side of the debate, but my question now is:

What’s Catholicism got to do with it?

Gallagher’s thesis is that anti-gay sentiment isn’t based on “prejudice, fear or animus” but upon some rational secular considerations. She doesn’t identify the Catholic arguments against homosexuality, other than to imply that they’re aligned with in some way with “common sense.” But this is all I found in Section 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

(Emphasis supplied) And, as you’ll recall, just last month the Vatican declared that gays are “without any social value.”

Gallagher had another column about the Texas sodomy laws in yesterday’s New York Post (not included in the online version), noting that the Supreme Court will soon be ruling on them. This time, she doesn’t mention religion at all. Without the spectre of the Bible looming in the background, without the Pope around to pat her on the head, she can’t quite summon up the courage of her Catholic convictions:

Does society or law have any business regulating the sexual or intimate relationships between men? I don’t know. Probably not.

Way to go, Maggie! Maybe someday I’ll become as tolerant as you and call for the repeal of all those terrible laws imprisioning Catholics for being Catholic. We can tolerate both.

False, or Irrelevant?

May 23, 2003 | 7 Comments

It’s illegal for a hospital to treat a bleeding, unconscious woman with prayer, gang-rape, beheading or other measures that might be otherwise be dictated by religious belief, I noted on Wednesday. In particular, I concluded that “[t]he law declares, for all intents and purposes, that those religious beliefs are false . . . [i]t is atheistic.”

Reader “PM” disputes my analysis:

I’m not sure that it declares them “false” so much as “irrelevant,” in which case I don’t see it making a judgment one way or the other (correct me if I’m wrong).

This precise objection was addressed by Professor Stephen L. Carter in The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion. Writing on the courts’ propensity to compel transfusions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Carter writes:

What sort of statement does this make about the response of the legal culture to the underlying religious belief? The usual answer is to say that the legal system’s refusal to take account of the religious claim that the transfusion must lead to perdition is a statement not that the claim is false, but that it is irrelevant. There is, however, a logical sense in which the refusal to take account of the claim is to treat it as false. For if the claim is true, life eternal would seem plainly to trump the transient life available on earth. Put otherwise, if the claim is true, the Witness is better off dead — dead, that is in the ordinary language, materialistic sense of the word. That is precisely why the transfusion is refused — because the Witness has reached that very conclusion. By forcing the Witness to live and be damned rather than permitting her to die and be saved, the state is necessarily treating her religious claim not as irrelevant, but as false.

This is about the only point on which Professor Carter and I agree; as I noted here, he’s a moral monster who believes that no religious belief is false, and that any moral belief is justified so long as it is backed by a religious rationale.

But to return to PM’s query, let’s suppose that the hospital adopted an alternative medical, rather than religious, procedure to treat seriously injured, unconscious patients. Instead of closing the wound to stop the bleeding, let’s say that the hospital set the patient afire to incinerate her outer body and then repainted the remaining core. On what grounds could the state medical authorities object to this practice? Could they say, as PM suggests, that they were not declaring the belief in the efficacy of alternative burning procedure “false,” but merely “irrelevant”? Could they honestly say they were being “neutral” towards the two procedures — not “making a judgment one way or the other” between them? If so, what grounds would they have for banning the second procedure at all?

Let’s further suppose that a doctor was sued for performing a transfusion against a Witness’s wishes. Could the doctor argue that although he extracted a red liquid from a donor’s veins and injected it into the veins of the Witness, it was not a transfusion, because the red liquid, even if it started out as blood, was transformed into saline solution upon being injected? Would the theory be rejected as “false,” or merely “irrelevant?”

But I’m not necessarily disagreeing with PM’s point. It’s not false — it’s merely “irrelevant.”

Update: Commentator June writes:

“Irrelevant” means “makes no difference” — like going through a green light.
“False” means “is harmful” – like going through a red light.
A red traffic light is a (visible) statement by the law that it is incorrect or harmful to proceed. Running a red light is criminal, not merely irrelevant, behavior.

The law may not explicitly DECLARE some religious beliefs to be false, but it clearly IMPLIES or PRESUMES that they are false, at least when it comes to medical treatment.

I agree with the general sense of this statement, but I must make clear that I am equating falsity with factual falsity, not mere harmfulness. The law would agree with the witnesses that a slightly prolonged “physical” life followed by eternal toment in Hell woud be more far harmful than an immediate physical death followed by life in Heaven. But the law nevertheless requires the prolongation of physical life. I cannot see any rationale for this determination, unless it is a factual determination that the Witness’s beliefs regarding an afterlife are false. If the law accepted in any meaningful way the notion people face an eternity of suffering as a consequence of blood transfusion, it would ban them not just for Witnesses, but for everybody. The law bans plenty of treatments which have positive short-term effects (Fen-Phen, for example) but which have very serious, negative long-term effects. Eternal torment in Hell would would qualify as a very serious, negative long-term effect.

And to beat a dead horse, suppose a doctor adopted a practice of transfusing slightly tainted blood which generally led to death after ten or fifteen years. If he justified the procedure by asserting a belief (contrary to all evidence) that the tainted transfusions actually extended life by ten years, how could the law prohibit him from performing them other than by declaring his belief to be factually false?

The Nigerian Scam Meets the Raving Atheist (Part VI)

May 22, 2003 | 25 Comments

Recap: In previous correspondence (see e-mails 1-8, here, 9-11, here, 12-21, here, 22-30, here and 31-36, here), a Nigerian con artist — motivated by the promise of a $275,000 payday — has answered a bewildering number of theological inquiries posed to him by the controller and Board of Directors of a multi-million dollar Christian publishing house, Raving Industries. Thinking he’s about to hit the jackpot, he agrees to become the company’s permanent “Spiritual Advisor.” Last week, I called in the London Metropolitan Police, who have yet to respond. Additionally, I advised Dr. Ntha that Raving Industries had received an e-mail from a “Mr. Besteden” and transferred $200,000 to him upon the presumption that he was one of the Doctor’s partners.

This week, Dr. Ntha goes off the deep end — tormented by the idea that he has lost nearly $300,000 to another smooth-talking “Christian” scammer. Worse yet, the new con man is mocking him, insisting that he answer additional theological questions and write Jesus poetry.

Part 37: Who is Mr. Besteden?

Dr. Ntha is puzzled about the mysterious Mr. Besteden, but doesn’t quite appear to comprehend that he’s just lost $200,000 to him. He answers Mr. B’s questions nonetheless, asserting that God can’t be proven through logic or science.

Subj: REPLY ASAP
Date: 5/15/2003 2:51:02 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: DennisonLeigh@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Greetings to you all in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Sister Eva,

I received your mail of this with the contents well noted and understood for which my thanks. But I don’t understand who Mr. Bestenden is and why he should withdraw any money on my behalf not to talk of keeping it for my use also the said US$41 Million from NEPA. And most important when Did Mr. Bestenden spoke with me, as I don’t even know him in the first place please I will like you to give me full explanation about the above issue.

However, I will like trust and sincerely to be our watchword throughout all this transaction also let our word be our bound because I gave you only one account which is HSBC, I don’t understood the account at LLOYS TSB bank % S. Bestenden, I just stating all this dearly to avoid any confusion on your side I nominated only one account with HSBC with which I will be expecting the money you said on Tuesdays.

Most importantly, I have told you that I can only answer the questions that will assist you grow spiritual you know that all these questions are total relevant to your spiritual growth. You already known that Gods existence can not be proven through logic neither will it be confirmed through science also God is active as the bible tells us that God does not sleep nor slumber according Genesis chapter 1, God is very active from the creating the world.

Please reply this mail immediately with the explanation of question especially regarding Mr. Bestenden.

I await you very urgent response.

Yours in Christ

Brother Ntha.

Part 38: Clarification

Ms. Greer-Jared innocently explains how she’s sent all of Dr. Ntha’s money to another Nigerian scammer. She unwittingly passes along the new con man’s taunts, including the news that he’s bought a new car with his windfall.

Subj: Re: REPLY ASAP
Date: 5/16/2003 10:22:28 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Dear Brother Ntha,

Our Divine Mission has almost come to Fruition!

As I advised you in our last communication, we received an e-mail from Mr. Besteden on Tuesday informing us that he needed to transfer excess funds from received under a NEPA contract. I assumed he was one of your associates, and called him immediately and asked if it related to the Kanji Dam Terminal Station project. He assured me it was the same project, and explained his relationship with you. After Miss Dennison sent him all of your e-mails, he explained why we would be receiving only $38.6 million of the $41 million.

Last night I spoke to him again and discovered what all the confusion is about: As your Christian brother, you know him only by the name Christopher Blessed! However, he corrected me about his phone conversation: he did not speak to you, but to Mr. [John Doe]. I apologize for my misunderstanding. Christopher advised me that Mr. [John Doe] would telephone you and explain why the funds must be processed through his Lloyds account instead of his HSBC one. I assume you have spoken to him by now. Miss Dennison-Leigh wired him the balance of the funds ($82,350) this morning in view of the urgent need to compensate certain subcontractors, as I am sure you are aware.

Christopher was delighted that you will be working at our orphanage and says you are especially good in dealing with children. He said that you also write religious poetry, a talent that we greatly admire. Indeed, Director Kepple has asked if you would be so kind as to send us three poems about Jesus.

Christopher sends his deepest love to you. He asked me to tell you that he has just purchased a beautiful new car, and looks forward taking you for long, prayerful Sunday drives in it.

Yours in Christ,

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 39: “I Don’t Know Why You Will Descent So Low”

Dr. Ntha starts to get a bit testy, realizing that a rival scammer has, in fact, taken him for about $200,000. Once again, he denies knowing Mr. Besteden and asks that we stop payment on the last $82,350 we’ve claim to have wired him.

Subj: Stop that payment, and call the money back.
Date: 5/16/2003 12:56:15 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: DennisonLeigh@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Greetings to you all in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Sister Eva,

I don’t understand what you are saying about sending money to Mr. Besteden or Christopher blessed, look I don’t know him. If you don’t stop that that transfer immediately, you will lose that money, can you imagine that I have been asking you to give me your phone number which you keep promising to give me at the time, call me now on my direct phone number [123-1-1234567] and I have called Mr. and he told me that he never discussed with any body regarding the account expect me.

Please stop the transfer, I initiate you in the transfer. Mif Christopher or whatever he called himself has collect the money, you have lost that money as I don’t know him like I told you yesterday, you better stop the last transfer of US$82350, or else you loose it again, why don’t you paid the money on Tuesday as you said, you paid it yesterday instead of Tuesday you said I don’t know why you will descent so low by sanding all my correspondence to someone I never met and I told you that any mail you received in respect of this transaction must be relayed to me and you told me that you will do that, but now you told me that you received a mail and pay US $200,000, without confirmation, you loose that money and if you don’t stop that last transfer you have you loose all.

I await your phone call.

Yours in Christ,
Brother Ntha

Part 40: Back-Up

Mr. “John Doe” — the friend Dr. Ntha asked to set up a London bank account to receive the proceeds of the scam — writes to deny knowing Mr. Besteden, and to suggest that we’ve been very gullible.

From: [John Doe]
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: DennisonLeigh@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Following my strange telephone conversation with Dr.Akpu Ntha and subsequent email received from him subject to the transfer of the money said to have effected on Monday and today respectively into my account.

Let me make this point clear at this point, I have never been contacted by this so called Christopher or besteden, I have never in my life have any communication with the above name (bestenden) and nobody called me in respect of the account with the name Christopher or bestenden in recent time.

Furthermore the Lloyd account claimed by the above name to have belonged to me is a crystal lie. I have no account with the said Lloyd bank. The account I have is only in this HSBC Bank and that is the account I gave to Dr. Akpu Ntha.
I want you to understand that I have no relationship whatsoever with the above written names. I therefore conclude that you are dealing with impersonators and crooks on the guise of being my friend or an associate. The money I was made to understand you paid was not paid in my account and should not be cashed from my account.

To this effect, I will advise you to call any money you have paid to these fraudsters for your own good. I am boldly telling you that the money you paid to these people is completely waste.

According to the mail sent to me by Dr.Akpu Ntha it indicated that the money you paid has cleared which the so-called Christopher used to purchase a new car. Let come in here, on what purpose did you pay this money? Is it for pleasure or for reconciling the expenses that will be incur in the course of this transaction you have at hand with my friend because I took time out to ask him everything base on this business you have with him. Why must this Christopher use that money to purchase a new car? On what stand? You just have to ask yourself some questions and also call on intervention of almighty God to know the person you are dealing with because my friend told me that you are a core Christian.

Most importantly: You are advised as a matter of urgency to withdraw all the money you paid to this people which you believe that you are paying into my account. If you could not call back the one you paid on Monday us$200,000.00 then you can call back the one you paid today(us$82,350,000.00) it is very serious matter you can not trifle with.

Take everything here serious and act fast before it is too late. Act today and now.

Part 41: Prisoner’s Dilemna

There’s a philosophical problem known as the prisoner’s dilemma which illustrates the various risks and benefits a prisoner may face in deciding whether cooperate with the authorities or remain loyal to his partners in crime. Here, I pretend to believe that Dr. Ntha is only denying his relationship with Mr. Besteden for “security” purposes, and tempt him with $15,000 to go along with this scenario (albeit tormenting him with the fact that Mr. Besteden is going to get $145,000 more than he). After being chiding for his use of improper language, Dr. Ntha is made to understand that Mr. B. has consumed about $1,500 of food. The Doctor is also hit with a follow-up demand for the Jesus poetry.

Subj: (no subject)
Date: 5/16/2003 7:23:20 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe]
CC: DennisonLeigh, Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. [John Doe]

cc: Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

I am somewhat displeased with the un-Christian language contained in your latest e-mails to me. I understand from Mr. Blessed that for security reasons you could not discuss your phone calls or relationship with him, but words like “fraudster” and “crook” are hurtful even when used in a humorous way. Mr. Blessed explained that you are old friends who frequently joke with each other in such a manner, but please remember that Raving Industries is a religious enterprise whose employees are quite sensitive to questionable language.

Mr. Blessed advises me that an additional $175,000 is required to finalize the transfer. Because this was not part of our original agreement, we shall be deducting that amount, plus an additional $5,000 interest charge, from your share of the $38.6 million when received. Mr. Blessed has directed me to divide the $175,000 into deposits of 1) $15,000 into your HSBC account and $160,000 into your Lloyds account. Mrs. Dennison-Leigh advises me that the funds shall be available for withdrawal on Tuesday, 20 May 2003.

As I advised Mr. Besteden, Raving Industries will not reimburse you for meal and entertainment expenses in excess of 1% of the total transaction funds advanced to you. Accordingly, a total of $4,600 has been allocated for that purpose. We have been provided with receipts for $1,435.00 by Mr. Besteden so the remaining balance is $3,165. In view of the ultimate profit to all of the parties once the transaction is completed, we consider this arrangement to be fair.

Dr. Ntha, I would greatly appreciate it if you could send me your three poems about Jesus as soon as possible. Mr. Blessed has read me some of his own Christian poetry over the phone but tells me that you are by far more gifted.

Yours in Christ,

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 42: In Denial

Apparently $15,000 isn’t enough. Mr. “Doe” and Dr. Ntha send near-simultaneous e-mails refusing to acknowlege a relationship with Mr. Besteden.

Subj: OFFICIAL REPORT FROM BBB LIMITED,RE.QUESTIONABLE TRANSFER
Date: 5/17/2003 7:39:48 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: [John Doe]
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: libertychamber@lawyer.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

ATTN; Raving Industries.

FROM; BBB LIMITED

SUBJECT;OFFICIAL REPORT FROM BBB LIMITED,RE.QUESTIONABLE TRANSFER

Dear Mr,Ravinga/Miss Eva GreerJared,

I, MR [JOHN DOE],THE CEO OF BBB LIMITED HEREBY STATE AS BELOW.

[1]THAT ON 24 APRIL DR AKPU NTHA APPROEACHED ME TO ASSIST HIM RECEIVE A TRANSFER AMOUNTING TO US$282.350{TWO HUNDRED AND EIGTHY TWO THOUSAND THREEE HUNDRED AND FIFTY UNITED STATE DOLLARS ONLY FROM RAVING INDUSTRIES WHICH I ACCEPTED WITH GOOD FAITH KNOWING DR NTHA FOR MORE THAN A DECADE AS VERY RELIABLE CHRISTAIN BECAUSE BEING A CIVIL SERVANT HE DONT HAVE FOREIGN ACCOUNT AND I ON BEHALF OF MY COMPANY ACCEPTED WITH GOOD FAITH.

[2]I TOLD HIM TO INFORM ME AS SOON AS THE TRANSFER IS MADE AND HE TOLD THAT THE MONEY WILL BE READY FOR WITHDRWAL ON MONDAY 12TH MAY 2003 AND I CALLED MY ACCOUNT OFFICER IN HSBC LONDON ON THIS DATE AND THERE NO INDICATION OF THE REMITTANCE.

[3]ON 16TH MAY DR AKPU NTHA CALLED TO INFORM THAT ONE SAID BESTEND/BLESSED CHRISTOPHER HAD A PHONE CONVERSATION WITH ME AND CHANGE THE ACCOUNT TO LlOYED BANK FROM I DONT HAVE ANY ACCOUNT IN LlOYED BANK PAST AND PRESENT.

[4] MY ONLY COMPANY ACCOUNT IN LONDON REMAINS THE ACCOUNT I GAVE TO DR AKPU NTHA WHICH IS AS FOLLOWS;

HSBC GUERSEY LONDON,

SORT CODE;12-33-56

A/C# 123-456-789-101

BENEFICIARY;BBB LIMITED.

ON SAME DAY I WAS MADE TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE MIS -TRANSFER THE SUM OF US$282,350 TO LlOYED BANK BELEIVING TO HAVE TRANSFER SAME TO MY COMPANY,WHICH UP TILL NOW STILL IN THE POSSESSION OF THE IMPOSTER BY NAME BESTEND OR CHRISTOPHER.

[6] I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE MEET THIS SO CALLED BESTEND OR CHRISTOPHER AND MY COMPANY ARE WRITTING THIS OFFICIAL REPORT AS DIRECTED BY OUR LAWYER IN CASE IF YOU CONTINUE DEALING WITH THIS SAME CHRISTOPHER/ BESTEND YOU IT WILL BE AT YOUR RISK ANY WE DONT KNOW HIM EITHER IN PERSON OR HAVE ANY PHONE CONVERSATION IN LIFE,SO ANY FURTHER DEALING WITH HIM WILL BE A TOTAL LOSE {BE WARNED.}

[7]YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WORK WITH YOU,IF YOU SEND THE MONEY TO OUR BANK IN HSBC WHICH REMAINS ONLY THE ACCOUNT OF THIS COMPANY IN LONDON,USE IT TO TRANSFER THE ALL THE US$175,000 ON TUESDAY 20TH MAY 2003,AS DR AKPU SAID THAT YOU FAIL TO ACT ON THIS INSTRUCTION YOU WILL STOP DEALING WITH YOU/YOUR COMPANY AND SOURCE FOR ANOTHER PARTNER WHO WILL RECEIVE THE MONEY US$38.6 IN ABROAD FOR THE MUTUAL BENEFIT AND THE PERSON WILL BE USED TO REPLACE YOU.

N/B;IT WILL BE AT YOUR BEST INTEREST TO DESIST FROM CONTACTING THIS CROOK/FRAUDSTER EITHER BY PHONE OR MAIL AND CPNTINUE WITH WHO INTRODUCE YOU IN THIS BUSSINESS DR AKPU NTHA YOU WILL NEVER REGRET DOING BUSSINESS WITH,BUT SHOULD YOU CONTINUE DEALING WITH BESTEND/CHRISTOPHER YOU RUNING THE GREATEST FINANCIAL RISK AS DR NTHA WILL SOURCE FOR ANOTHER PARTNER AND YOU WILL LOSE ALL THE MONEY YOU HAVE SPENT,DR NTHA TOLD ME THIS MORNING THAT THEY WILL ALLOW YOU REDUCT THE MONEY YOU SENT TO BEST END{US$282.350}BUT IF YOU PAY ANY MONEY TO THIS LlOYED ACCOUNT,IT WILL BE AT YOUR OWN RISK AND THEY WILL STOP COMMUNICATING WITH YOU AS THEY DR AKPU REMAINS THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN TRANSFER THE MONEY US$38.6 TO YOUR ACCOUNT IN SWITZERLAND.

STOP COMMUNICATING THIS CROOK BY NAME BESTEND/CHRISTOPHER EITHER BY PHONE OR MAIL FOR YOU OWN INTEREST.

Subj: YOU MUST ACT ON THIS MAIL TO CONTNUE DEALING WITH ME OTHERWISE I WILL STOP DEALING WITH YOU
Date: 5/17/2003 8:57:40 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, [John Doe]
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus christ.

Dear Sister Eva,

I received your mail with surprise,Firstly am placing my hand on my bible to vow that I never in my life know this contact in contact with this rogue so called Blessed christopher,you should understand that christainity forbids lies,so I cannot tell you anything apart from the truth and the truth is that,I DONT KNOW ANYBODY WITH THAT NAME BESTEND OR BLESSED CHRISTOPHER.

now think on this.

if he knows me as he claimed,he could have contact me rather than sending you to me,he send his love me through you,he asked me five stupid questions through you,you can read that question and see why it is so stupid questions even a christain child cannot ask that question,he ask you to tell me that he bought a car with the money meant for expences,he said that his name is bestend and latter said blessed christopher,he said that the amount is US$41 and when you copied him my mails to you he said it US$38.6,he said he spoke with me and when you asked him after reaching me he said that it is mr [Doe] that he talked to on phone and up till this moment Mr [Doe] still never know him or ever discussing with anybody with any of the names he claimed to be his name,you can see that the account name of the two accounts is not same,he said am a poem writer but i have never write any poem in life,if I know this man, I could have told you my dear sister in christ.

However,my follow partners,I want you to understand that we have been duped to the tune of US$282.350,that is if the last money you sent to this crook through Lloyed bank has been withdrawn by him,we have accepted to reimburse you this money from the US$38.6m,if you still want to receive this money on our behalf which the only way for you to do that is by listen to my intructions and stop any further dealings either by phone or mail with this crook so called Blessed christopher,you reduct all the expences only if you can send this US$I75,000.on tuesday through this acoount in HSBC belonging to Mr [John Doe],but if you make any further transfer to this Lloyed account,you will not only loose this money but we will stop to communicate with you and source for another reliable company to receive the US$38.6 with their account and they will receive your intended percentage,and all the money you sent to this crook will be a waest as he does not any money to transfer to your account.

Am now reconfirming the account in which you can send the expences money and I will receive it,send the US$175,000 on tuesday 20th may 2003 through this account,

HSBC GUERSEY LONDON
SORT CODE;12-34-56
A/C# 123-456-789-101
BENEFICIARY;BBB Limited.

This is the only account access to and for the security of this transaction stop contacting this rogue calling himself blessed christopher to avoid any furhter confusion by him even if he called you,plesae dont entertain his phone calls anymore to avoid any further confusion but if any case you still continue with him we will discontinue with you,this is our final decision.use the HSBC account for to receive this money US$38.6M in your Sparkesse trogen.

Reply me asap to confirm the receipt of this mail and your promise to act on it.

Await your response,

Yours in Christ.
Brother Akpu Ntha

Part 43: Impervious

I again pretend to believe that Dr. Ntha’s vehement denials are simply part of a “security” arrangement to protect the transaction. And a hint is dropped that he may not even get the $15,000 he’s expecting, being that Mr. Besteden is in a position to veto it.

Subj: Wire Transfer
Date: 5/17/2003 1:20:45 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe]

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. [John Doe]

cc: Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

While I understand that for governmental security reasons you must officially deny your partnership relationship with Mr. Blessed, I have asked you to refrain from using un-Christian language in your correspondence with me. I was particularly offended by Akpuntha’s statement that he placed his hand on the Bible to deny knowing his friend Christopher. Although I know that Dr. Ntha did not actually do so and would never use the Bible in such a blasphemous manner for the purpose of mere business, the mere suggestion is quite upsetting.

Christopher does not speak of you in such harsh terms or use words such as “crook,” “fraudster” or “imposter.” I have prayed with him over the telephone and know him to be a true Christian. Please follow his example, for I know that you are devoted Christians as well.

As I indicated in my last e-mail, Raving Industries shall on Tuesday deposit $160,000 into your Lloyds account and $15,000 into the HSBC account. However, Mr. Blessed has indicated that the division of the funds into separate accounts may not be necessary. He will advise me on Monday whether the deposit of the full $175,000 can be made into a single account.

Dr. Ntha, Director Kepple is still recovering from his recent face surgery and would very much appreciate receiving your three Jesus poems in your next e-mail. He has taken great comfort in the past from your words and his spirits would be greatly lifted by the additional inspiration.

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 44: “Crying Pouring My Heart Out In This Mail And Praying For The Almighty God”

Dr. Ntha is simply hysterical with anger, rage and disappointment. And he’s temporarily changed his e-mail address, paranoid that Mr. Besteden has somehow hacked into his computer.

Subj: LET US REASONING TOGETHER
Date: 5/18/2003 8:28:14 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: drakpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RevSwill@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Greetings to you all in the name of our lord Jesus Christ

Dear Rev,Swill / Mr,Ravinga,Sister Eva,

I still receive your mails with more surprise/shock as it is very hard for you to abide with my instructions and for Gods sake,Am still placing my hand on my bible to vow again that I never in my life come in contact with this self acclaimed official of NEPA christopher,you are becoming more confused because you continue entertaing his phone call and mails,am telling you the simple truth as a christain brother,I know that he told you not to call me or give your phone number if we are same partners as he claimed he could have called for a meeting to at least for the last solution to this confusion rather he keeps ripping you off your hard earned money,you are loosing your money because you trust me but you must understand that God bears me wittness for all that have happened,as I cannot killed myself for you to understand the truth,bible says that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free,but since you refused the truth you are in very big bondage. take it from me that you have lost the us$282,350.00. to a rogue called bestend or Christopher, there is no reason why this rogue called Bestende will be involved and I said that he is not,afterall we are not sharing the money US$38.6M, but I know that he does not in his life know ME, this is the people that are denting the image of Nigeria internationally, I am crying because you have betrayed me, I told you never to disclose this transaction to a third party because I am putting it clear to you again that they have duped all of us to the tune of US$282,350. They succeeded in carrying out this act simply because that you trusted him because he claims to know me but I want you to understand that he used the advantage of all our mail/communication which you are passing to him believing that we are one party whereas we are not,for Gods sake you are my partner so I cannot be afraid to tell you the truth as HE SAID THAT FOR GOVERNMENT REASONS WE CAN DENY OURSELVES,THIS IS A PURE LIE.WHY IS HE NOT DENYING ME? IF WE MUST DENY EACH OTHER AS HE SAID.whatever you are losing AM also losing same as a brother and a partner.your welfare is my concern

I am not happy with you, I must tell you, you betrayed me, your brother, I warned you earlier but you stabbed me at back when I least expect it. I trusted you because you told me that you all are Christian and you trusted me also because you know that I am a Christian. It hurt me badly to know that my fellow Christian is been duped and when confronted to inform him the true shape of things he could not believe me, I know the full meaning of all the words am using{rogue, imposter ,crook and fraudster}I don’t know any other names to qualify someone who claims what he is not, tell me another word to use for such a person, I will start using it, if we are same as he claimed why did he advise you not to send that money to the HSBC account we have agreed to use it to receive this money as initially planned for expences to falicitate the transfer of US$38.6M to your account for safe keeping, if you think carefully you will understand that all our initial arrangement has been changed entirely since this man appears in the scene yet you have not asked yourself a question,why the recent changes? am advising you now you refused, why should I deny him for any government reasons after all ,you are our partner that suppose to know all the arrangement,you are not a government official or a security personnel, and for that we will tell you all the truth, all the truth now he is making arrangement for you to pay the US$175 000, to his account which if you transfer it with that account you are loosing it to a swindler again which you can never in your life recovered,if he is truly our partner he should not be bothered with the acount we all ealier accepted to use which is HSBC, he does not use harsh word on me because he is duping us,that is why he is soft speaking but am harsh because we are loosing money, nobody looses money and be happy, if you are aware of what we are loosing you will be more harsh than me.you should understand that I can never tell you lies but simply because he is privileged calling you on phone,I have worked for NEPA for 26 years and never come in contact with that name,if he knows that we are same people why is he insisting to be collecting the money through the account the beneficiary is unknown as who he claims to be the owner of the account does not know him either, you can as well see that the account/beneficiary name are different,if he knows me as he claims he should not be imperating you to forward the money through an particular account. why most it be that Lloyed account that who claims to be the beneficiary does not know him,he should allow me to handle the process as we planned as am handling it ever since we started this project and you can understand that everything is going well untill lately when this so called christopher intercepted our mails because my laptop was bad lately and I replied your mail in public internet shop, I strongly beleive that somebody came in contact with your emails address and contact you claiming to know me,you know that am not a computer wizard am just a civil servant that knows little about computer.so I beleive somebody,those that are working there intercepted my mails.and because of this stop using my old email address,use this new mail from now;drakpuntha@xyz.com,and from now i want to deal with you and my co worker in the Lords vineward Rev,Swill,and Sister Eva let everyother of your staff stay clear or else you will loose your hard earned money to swindler so called BESTEDEN LATTER CHANGED TO christopher.

PLEASE ASK HIM THIS OFFICIALS QUESTION ABOUT ME,SINCE HE KNOWS ME AND HE CLAIMS TO BE MY CO- WORKER;

WHAT IS THE NUMBER OF MY OFFICIAL CAR?answer,La 8743 fst

WHAT IS THE MAKE/BRAND OF MY CAR?answer,CAMRY 2.0

WHAT IS MY DRIVERS NAME? answer MR. ADE LAWAL

WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF MY OFFICIAL CAR?answer,purple,

WHAT IS MY STAFF PASSPORT NUMBER?answer06

if he is what he claims he must know all this answer,this man is duping us it will be better we accept it now before it too late.

Let us look at it this way;the way things are going is like what is happening in someones mind when temptation crept in you will have the voice of God advising you silently while the devils voice will be sounding very loud,doing whatever he can to convince the person to do his wish,Am the voice of God speaking to you silently telling you the truth,if you want us to transfer this money{US$38.6M} to your account in Switzerland as initially planned send this US$175,000 through the account in HSBC that we know the owner,Mr,[John Doe],and as earlier planned.we can accept you to collect from our money that you will receive, the money that you wrongly transfered to a swindler totalling US$282,350 as that money can NEVER I repeat NEVER BE RECOVERED AS THIS MAN IS UNKNOWN TO ALL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS TRANSACTION, it is a bitter truth but i have to tell you, i have called emergency meeting yesterday night of all the people concerned in this transaction and tabled all the confusion contained in your last mail and none of my colleguea can identify that man with any of the names he claims to be his name that is why I did not reply the mail i received yesterday earlier than now, as the meeting ended very late ,I dont know why I will deny him of being our partner since all the partner aggrees in all our arrangement,for Christ sake I dont know this man,am swearing with my bible,I DONT KNOW HIM.If you should know that i initiated you in this transaction,and there is none of my colleague that have contacted you before as I was only the person that was mandated to handle this transaction been a well respected man,that is why you are dealing with me alone since we started this transaction and you accepted my offer wholehearted when you confirms that am a christain ,my dear brothers in christ,i can never tell you lies just because of material thing,why am crying pouring my heart out in this mail and praying for the Almighty God intervention is that my brother is been ripped off his hard earned money,please remember that this money in question US$282,350,IS FOR EXPENCES BUT THIS SWINDLER RECEIVED THE MONEY AND BOUGHT A CAR,HE SAID IT OPENLY,MY BROTHER THE MONEY YOU SENT IS IT FOR EXPENCES OR FOR A CAR?Stop further communication with that man so called christopher or whatever he calls himself for the last solution to our predicament and to forstall/avert further ripp-off.use the HSBC account to transfer the money for the expences on tuesday 20th may 2003. and for heavens sake stop relaying our further dealing to this man not to talk of paying any money to that Lloyed bank again,remember that we are about to entrust a very big amount into your care,so we can never afford to tell you any lie relating to this transaction,I can never mislead you as a christain not to talk of when we have such big bussiness relationship,ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION WHY SHOULD I CONTINUE TO DENY THIS MAN, ALSO WHY MR [JOHN DOE] IS DENYING HIM?HE{MR [JOHN DOE]} HAS EVEN NOTIFY HIS LAWYER,IF WE KNOW HIM THERE WILL BE NO NEED TO DENY HIM AS WE ARE NOT YET SHARING THE MONEY WE ARE INTENDING TO TRANSFER TO YOUR ACCOUNT IN SWITZERLAND,that is if you will now act on my instructions,as that will be the only solution to our problems.OTHERWISE BEFORE YOU WILL REALISE IT YOU WILL BE LOSING ABOUT US$500,000 to this fraudster so called christopher.

Please am waiting for your reply and remember to give me a word to qualify someone ripping people off their hard earned money and who is also claiming what he is not,remember that initially he accepted that I dont know him with BESTEDEN BUT blessed christopher,he believes that as he is ripping you your hard earned money,he has been blessed,he could have been answering blessed besteden to prove that his name is blessed christopher.

Tell Director Kepple that am sending him quickest recovery by the Blood of Jesus but am not a poem write at least i could have send you a poem since if am a writer as he claimed.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Ntha.

Part 45: Temptation

I again pretend that Dr. Ntha’s last screed was just a “security” measure to give him later deniability if apprehended. But will Dr. Ntha go along with this, and write a poem, for $1.3 million?

Subj: (no subject)
Date: 5/19/2003 7:23:30 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, drakpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe]
CC: Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries, DennisonLeigh

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. [John Doe]

cc: Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

Most blessed is the Word of He who died for our Sins!

I understand from Dr. Ntha that there is some concern that our Brother Christopher has not issued the appropriate letters denying his participation in this venture. Please be assured that he has sent us such letters, separately, and we have placed them on file as part of the official record. Should it become necessary, for government security purposes, to produce evidence concealing Mr. Besteden’s interest in the transaction, we shall produce them to the appropriate officials.

Once again, I am somewhat dismayed by the tone of your correspondence. All that is necessary for security purposes from you is a letter stating that you are not acquainted with Mr. Christopher Blessed. The un-Christian language was not necessary. Hopefully, we will be able to complete the transaction with issuing the denial letters, but it will be somewhat embarrassing if we are compelled to do so.

I understand from our economist that the dollar-to-pound exchange rate is expected to be more favorable on Thursday, 22 May 2003. Accordingly, at Mr. Blessed’s instructions we shall transfer the funds to the HSBC and Lloyds accounts on that date. Mr. Blessed also advises us that a tax waiver has been obtained to permit the transfer to us of the full $41 million. In consideration of this increase, we shall be transferring to you the sum of $2,750,000 on Thursday, subject to reimbursement once you have transmitted the contract funds to our custody. The fund shall be split among the HSBC and Lloyds account equally ($1,375,000 each) subject to further instructions.

I once again respectfully request the three (3) poems about Jesus for Director Kepple. Given our prior relationship and our substantial effort on behalf of this venture, I do not find the request to be unreasonable.

Finally, in view of the apparent confusion on the matter, please be advised that Mr. Blessed has agreed to reimburse for his new Lexis out of his personal share of the profits. Such reimbursement shall be over and above the repayment required for the sums already expended by Raving Industries on your behalf.

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 46: Experienced Legitimate International Businessman

Dr. Ntha’s partner, an experienced and legitimate “international businessman,” tries to convince me that Mr. Besteden is a “fraudster, rogue, imposter, crook.” He’s writing now because the Doctor is “greatly disturbed” by the bounce things have taken.

Subj: BE CAREFUL OR YOU LOOSE YOUR MONEY AGAIN.
Date: 5/19/2003 4:33:44 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: [John Doe]
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, libertychamber@lawyer.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Dear, Eva Greer-Jared,

I received your latest e mail I want you to understand we are saying, I know that as Christians those words fraudster, rogue, imposter, crook are irritating and un- Christian but that if the user used it wrongly, but those words the true explanation of the matter, it may be hard for you to believe but that is exactly what is happening, that man has defrauded you, I know it may very hard for you to accept being that the money belongs to your company, but have it in your mind that if you don’t accept it now and make any further remittance to the account in Lloyds bank you will be liable to pay the money back to your company, we have tried our best to called you back to the true picture, but you refused, I have nothing to loose the Lloyds bank knows who is withdrawing the money, so I can never be hold responsible, the account name is not my name, am even sending you this mail because of my friend DR, Ntha who is greatly disturbed due the transfer, I have advise him to stop disturbing himself since you don’t want to listen to his words, that it is even better that the money he wanted to transfer to you is still safe here and the money you are been duped off is your own personal money he should forget about it and source for another person, but refused and keep repeating that his brother is being duped because of him that you trusted him so much that is why you sent the money to the man because he said that he knows Dr, Ntha and he owed God duty to correct being the person that initiated you in this transaction, am telling him that you can transferred the US$38.6m to you and you send the money to the fraudster, but he said that you are just confused that if he did not transfer that money to you that you will not see how to recovered the moneyUS$282,350 that was ripped off from you by the crook.

Regards to what Christopher said that for security reasons that I will not discuss what we discussed on phone with you, listen my dear woman, am an international legitimate business man, my company is registered company and we are paying our taxes to government regularly, so have the authority from our government to transact businesses, so what a hell is he talking about for security reasons? as partners what ever he discussed with me can equally be shared with you, as all I discussed with Dr, Ntha has been made known to you through my official report on the issue, he said earlier that he discussed with Dr, Ntha on phone and he accepted to receive the money on his behalf and you transferred the money without confirmation from Dr, Ntha knowing fully well that it is not you initial agreement with him to split the money into two different account and to prove to you that that man is an imposter you ask about discussing with Dr Ntha he said it was me he discussed with on phone, why me? Am not one of their colleague am just assisting receive the money as code of conduct of civil service did not permit Dr, Ntha to operate foreign account, you can see that the imposter did not give any reason for the change of the account, this is all what you will put in consideration to understand that you have lost that money you sent to him. Christopher but if you think otherwise you can send the US$175,000 to him through the Lloyd account I bet you highest in matter of weeks you confirm truly that you lost all the money sent to him.

As experience international business man that has been on the field for more than 30 years you have no reasons whatsoever to doubt me as you must have known that am not gaining anything to receive that money via my account in HSBC, though I have nothing to lose either, like I said before am just concerned about my heart friend Dr, Akpu who has been restless since you notice that you have been ripped off your money.

I wish you the best of luck in anyone you choose either to continue loosing your money be sending it to Christopher or send it through my account for the intended use.

NOTE; he must accept that Dr Akpu may not wish to source for another foreign partner to transfer their money to but remember that the decision of his colleagues to source another person.

Thanks,

Mr, [John Doe],

CEO, BBB Limited.

Part 47: Dumbo, Attorney at Law

Now some clown-lawyer named “Dan Jumbo” from the “Supreme Council of Nigeria” is giving me legal advice. His prose bears a striking similarity to Dr. Ntha’s.

Subj: LEGAL BREIFING.
Date: 5/19/2003 5:08:06 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: libertychamber@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

LEGAL BREIFING

ATTN;RAVING INDUSTRIES.

FROM;SIR DAN JUMBO (ESQ)

I SIR, DAN JUMBO THE PRINCIPAL ATTORNEY OF THIS CHAMBER LIBERTY CHAMBER,WAS NOTIFIED ON FRIDAY 16TH OF MAY 2003 AT 009 HOURS GMT BY MY CLIENT MR [JOHN DOE],THE DIRECTOR BBB LIMITED WHO IS MY CLIENT CONCERNING YOUR GRAVIOUS MISTAKE WHICH LEADS TO YOUR TRANSFERING A WHOOPING SUM OF US$282.350,TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY TWO THOUSAND-THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY,TO A ACCOUNT IN Lloyd BANK BELEIVING TO HAVE TRANSFERED IT TO MY CLIENTS ACCOUNT.WHILE THE REVEARS IS THE CASE.

I WANT TO INFORM YOU AS THE ATTORNEY OF THIS THIS COMPANY BBB LIMITED,THAT MY CLIENT DON’T HAVE ANY ACCOUNT IN LONDON OTHER THAN HIS ACCOUNT IN HSBC WHICH HE HAS FORWARDED TO YOU,SHOULD YOU CONTINUE TO SEND ANY MONEY TO ANY OTHER ACCOUNT OTHER THAN THIS MENTIOND ACCOUNT IN HSBC,YOU ARE RUNING A RISK OF LOOSING YOUR MONEY BECAUSE BY THE TIME YOU WILL COME FOR YOUR MONEY,WE HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCES AT HAND TO DEFEND MY CLIENT IN ANY COURT OF LAW IN THE WORLD AS HE MY CLIENT HAS MADE OFFICIAL STATEMENT TO YOU STATEING ALL HE KNOWS ABOUT THE INCIDENT AND SHOULD YOU CONTINUE NOT TO ADHERE TO HIS INSTRUCTIONS YOU WILL HAVE YOURSELF TO BE BLAMED,BOTH THE MAIL HE SENT TO YOU ON THE SAID DATE WHICH WAS COPIED TO ME IS CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE IN A WRONG HAND,MY CLIENT HAS NO DEALING WITH THE PERSON IN QUESTION MR BESTENDE OR CHRISTOPHER,IT WILL BE ON YOUR OWN INTEREST TO AUTHOMATICALLY DESIST FROM ANY FURTHER COMMUNICATION/CONTACT TO THIS MAN ON BEHALF OF MY CLIENT AS HE IS UNKOWN TO HIM,I DON’T SEE THE REASON WHY MY CLIENT WILL DENY THIS MAN IF HE KNOWS HIM.

AFTERALL YOU ARE NOT DEMANDING FOR THE RETURN OF YOUR MONEY AND EVEN IF YOU LATTER DO,WHICH I KNOW DEFINITELY THAT WHENEVER YOU REALISE THAT THE MAN IN QUESTION IS UNKNOWN TO MY CLIENT,IT IS A CRIMINAL ACT FOR MY CLIENT TO ACCEPT THAT HE KNOWS HIM WHEREAS HE DO NOT.

STICHES IN TIME SAVES NINE,

I REMAINS,

YOURS AT LAW,

SIR DAN JUMBO ESQ.

(Member of the Supreme Council of Nigeria)

Supreme Council of Nigeria

Part 48: “I Can Not Recollect When I Was Humiliated And Take Advantage Of This Way”

Just wait til all your friends see this website, Dr. Ntha.

He won’t write poetry for $1.3 million, apparently because he’s convinced that Mr. Besteden will again snatch it away at the last minute. Note the rather morbid subject line.

Subj: THERE IS A WAY THAT SEEMETH RIGHT UNTO MAN BUT THE END IS DEATH.
Date: 5/19/2003 2:55:15 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: drakpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, DennisonLeigh@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Dear Sister Eva/Ravinga

I received your mail with more shocking news, the money you are about to transfer on Thursday 22/05/03,what is it meant for?

It still bit my imagination why you suddenly changed and stop taking instructions from I that initiated you into this business. From on set, I warned you about the secret nature of this business and the denger it will pose us if government eventually find out. There is no way the government will not prosecute us and each and every one of us will pay the maximum penalty. You in turn made a promise not to compromise. But lately, the story took another dimension and you went back and do that which you promise not to do, Brother, it is quite unfortunate and painful to note that it leak to a third party from the person I trusted and rely upon.

I would appreciate if you will clarify me on these questions, what contract payment are you pursuing? Is it ours or that of Christopher Bestend Blessed as he claimed to be called. Can you do me a favor and go back to my proposal which I sent you for your assistance in this business? I will also implore you to go back and read the one you received from this so-called Christopher and carefully go through them and compare the two and find out the one you are working on because I am sure that I have never met the person in question for the first time and as far as this transaction is concern, we have different objective. I have been dealing with you for the past one month and we have never had any misunderstanding, everything was going on smoothly before the emergence of this Christopher bestend.

Let me repeat this question, are you pursuing our thirty-eight million six hundred thousand US dollars (us$38.6) or are you pursuing that of forty one million (us$41m)also all the questions I ask you yesterday about my official identity is unanswered Am still demanding for the answer.

I know that to deceive you will be the last thing I will do in my life, I want you to use your senses, call all your partners who are involve in this business, have a meeting with them over this matter and hear their opinion/or revelation. Or better still, you can seek the help of your pastor/reverend but that will amount to publicity.

In accordance with one of the mail you sent to me on Thursday, I was surprised to have received such a mail from you. When I got the mail, to be sincere, I was totally confused, and that prompted my question of asking if the Bestend is one of your partner because I was unable to understand the mail, can you please go and read my mail of Thursday to you. The BESTENDE, If I may ask, is it an English or Local name? Because I have not hear such a name in my life. In that your mail of Thursday, you do mention that he proposed a business on the us$41m they want to transfer on Tuesday13th day of may while we have dealing for the past one month, but today he has changed that he want to transfer that our very fund us$38.6m. Read their first mail carefully tries and find out if they are the same with my first mail to you. . I believe that you (brothers/sisters in the company) are no longer kid in business. You just have to do everything within your power and know what you are involving your money.

I am convinced that the person in question got to know my Christian background from my mail you are sending to him. I am of opinion that he discover a few things about me from my mail you are sending to him he thereby use my mail as a shield to any question you might ask him if not he not he will not have anything to account of me.

I will promise you that I will arrange a meeting with him as soon as you give me his contact and phone number. Because I know that you are talking with him over the phone.

There are thing that you do that I still do not understand, you call this person on the phone but you cannot call me, how come you send him your phone number but when I asked you for your mobile phone number you told me that you don’t have a mobile.

One more thing that you are doing that I do not like is that you are copying any massage you are sending to me to them. I don t fell safe at all. I still maintain that I do not know him. Non of my colleague could give account who the person really is.

In view of his request to transfer the money to a separate account, HSBC and Lloyd, I will tell you what will be the end result. This is what he will tell you before you make the payment, that it will not be necessary if you separate the money to HSBC and Lloyd account. You know that is what he has been doing, insisting to be in possession of receiving money this is what he will tell you. He will like to time it when it is time to make the payment just listen to what he will tell you. Lets wait and see if what he said to transfer the money to the two account(HSBC AND LLOYD BANK) will take place. He must definitely tell you to change it because he has another objective. This paragraph , I promise you, it must come to pass but the question is can you come back to yourself and be reasonable with me and reason with as we initially do.

Let me make emphasis on your third paragraph, I have told you the way I should tell a Christian brother to make you see reason but you are still adamant, I have put in my best to give you the picture of everything but you refuse to take a break listen to since the of this person. But, God knows that I am not lying, it is only God that can tell you what is really happening. God also know that they are what I call them. How I wish we can at least see you face to face, I believe I can explain everything to your better understanding.

The US$41m in question is what I do not know about, how can you be so gullible? How will ordinary person will turn you around like kid, how can Mr.. Besteden will be jumping to US$41 to US$38.6M? in fact I am beginning to suspect that us$41m is not in existence. Today he will tell you 38 and tomorrow he will tell you 41 and fact his story has no base that is why he will tell you to pay part of the money to one account today and ask you to make all the PAYMENT to his account when is time to effect the payment approached, he is very flexible in his word, I wish I can lay my hands on his mail to you, I must dictate some slip from his write-up.

Why this incessant request to write a poem to you, I have made it clear that I am not a poem writer, but I am very devoted to the service of our lord Jesus, I serve him with all my heart but that is not to accept what I can not do. I am not a poem writer. It has never occurred to me to write a poem in my life.

You do mention that you will pay the money in the separate account subject to further instruction, why that statement, who instructing you now? Are you taking instruction from Christopher or me? Why must he instruct you on the business I started with you on a good faith. Why are you betraying me at this point? That we supposed to proceed to procure all the needed documents.

You are hurting me badly I must tell you. You make me look stupid before my partners, what will I tell them on the transfer they entrusted on my hand. I can not recollect when I was humiliated and take advantage of this way. Mr Christopher is taking advantage of me.

If you think that we are working together, send the money to my account and find what his reaction will be and least your fund will be in a safe hand. Do not be carried away, send the money to my account if we are together and hear his response.

I want to inform you that there are so many cases of fraud going on in Nigeria and that is why I am protecting you. I don’t want you to be a victim most especially as a Christian brother. Because of this fraudulent activities going on in the country. American /united nation government persuaded my Government to sign Financial Crime into law which the senate committee did not hesitate to sign into law. To this end, I want you to please read this mail carefully and make use of it, work on everything I asked to work on, get all the answers ,I still maintain that by Thursday he will instruct you to transfer all the money to Lloyd account, let us watch out and see if that is not what is going to happen on the said date.

I await for your response.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Ntha.

Part 49: A Guarantee

I am trying to convince Dr. Ntha that if he’ll only write the Jesus poems and confirm that Mr. Besteden is his friend, he’ll be a millionaire in two days. Guaranteed.

Subj: Wire Transfer 5/22/03
Date: 5/19/2003 4:01:11 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: DennisonLeigh
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, drakpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe]
CC: GreerJared, Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. [John Doe]
Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

Ms. Eva Greer-Jared will be in Germany until Monday but has left me the following instructions regarding completion of the transfer.

1) On Thursday, 22 May 2003, Raving Industries shall transfer a) the sum of $1,375,000 to HSBC Guernsey, London, Account No. 123-456-789-101, Sort Code 12-34-56(Beneficiary: BBB Limited, and b) the sum of $1,375,000 to Lloyds TSB Bank, Special Account [Type 4], (Beneficiary: C. S. Besteden).

2) Mr. Ravinga reports that our accounting department requires the funds to be deposited into two (2) separate accounts. Due to tax and currency restrictions, further instructions to change or combine the accounts designated above cannot and will not be accommodated However, Mr. Ravinga advises Mr. Besteden that once the funds are transferred into the HSBC and Lloyds accounts, the partners may divide and reconvey them amongst themselves in whatever manner best suits their objectives.

3) Raving Industries has approved the requested reimbursement to Mr. Besteden for fuel-related expenditures up to $250.

4) Although Raving Industries has received the requisite confirmation and denial letters regarding the partnership arrangement from Mr. Besteden, a check of our records reflects that we have received only denial letters from Dr. Ntha and Mr. [John Doe]. Accordingly, please forward to this e-mail address a confirmation letter indicating that the partners to this venture are 1) Dr. Akpuntha Ntha, 2) Mr. [John Doe], 3) one Muslim partner, and 4) Mr. Christopher Besteden.

5) Director Kepple repeats his request for three (3) poems regarding Jesus. Please forward them, together with your partnership confirmation letter, by 20 May 2003.

6) I shall be out of the office from Wednesday, 21 May 2003 until Friday 23, 2003. The transfer shall be automated before the close of business tomorrow, contingent upon receipt of the requested confirmation letters and poetry.

7) Contracts regarding the transfer of $41 million to Raving Industries shall be forwarded to all parties on Tuesday, 27 May 2003 and returned, signed electronically, by Thursday, 29 May 2003. The transfer shall occur no later than Thursday, 5 June 2003.

Anne Dennison-Leigh

Part 50: No Problem

Dr. Ntha’s partner has no problem accepting the money, but he’s not the one who has to write the poetry.

Subj: Wire Transfer 5/22/03
Date: 5/20/2003 8:24:32 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: [John Doe]
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com
CC: GreerJared@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, drakpuntha@xyz.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Dear Mrs.Anne Dennison-Leigh,

I received your mail of this day clearly.

Like you said that you will be transfering the sum of US $1’375.000, on 22nd may 2003 through my account in HSBC I will inform my account officer but you should forward the payment slip for references and reconfirmation to your Partner Dr.Ntha and copy me same.

Looking forward to your reply.

Mr. [John Doe],

CEO,BBB Limited.

Part 51: No Can Do

Dr. Ntha’s can’t get past the notion that no matter what he does, Mr. Besteden is going to ruin things again at the last minute. Plus, I think he has some poetry-related phobia.

Subj: AWAITING YOUR WIRE TRANSFER REPORT ON 22/05/03 AS YOU SAID.
Date: 5/20/2003 8:53:39 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: drakpuntha@xyz.com
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com
CC: [John Doe], GreerJared@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Mr. Ravinga, Sister Eva, Mrs. Anne Dennison-Leigh,

I received your last mail with the contents well noted for which my thanks.

I want you to understand that this continues request for confirmation letters and poems is a pure ploy to make the transfer of the whole money into one account which is Lloyd bank because anybody that knows me know that I don’t know anything about poem so Christopher blessed as want to be called is using it as a weapon to continues be in possession of receiving money, the last result I repeat is that at the end the whole money will be transferred to the account of Mr. .Besteden he has done it before and I know that he will do it again when he will ask you to transfer all the money then you will understand all what am saying.

However, I will appreciate if you can transfer the US$1,375,000 to my nominated account in HSBC London as that will be enough for the expenses to transfer the sum of US$38.6M as we initially planned though the money not be in your account in Switzerland on or before 29th may 2003 as we planned but it will be ready for withdrawal even before the new date 5th June 2003 for conclusion of the transfer and remember that you will only deduct from our money (US$38.6M) the US$282.350 you transferred to Lloyd bank and the money you will be transferring through HSBC account as that is the only money we can account for and your percentage 35% while the balance (our share)will be intact in your custody until when it will be convenient for us to come for it.

Please I will appreciate if you can send me the phone number of Mr. Besteden at least to have a resolution on the confuse state of this transfer as that will be the last solution since you believe that I know him also I have never in my life write any poem of any sort, if Mr. Besteden know me as he claims he should have known that.

Remember that I said that this continues request for poem and confirmation letter is because I said that I don’t know anything about poem and he Christopher want to capitalized on that and use it as an excuse to ask you to send all the money through Lloyd bank for the reason best known to him and when this happen may you will realize that all I have saying all long is nothing but the gospel truth.

Remember to send me evidence if the money is transferred as you said.

I await your positive response.

Yours in Christ,

Brother Ntha.

N/B; Attn; Mrs. Anne Dennison-Leigh I will appreciate you including your phone number while replying this mail.

Part 52: Last Chance

I spell it out for him again: Mr. Besteden has absolutely no control over the money we are going to send you. Just write the Jesus poems.

Subj: Wire Transfer Report
Date: 5/20/2003 9:36:21 AM Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Wire Transfer Report
Date: 5/20/2003 9:36:21 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: DennisonLeigh
To: drakpuntha@xyz.com, akpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe]
CC: Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries, GreerJared

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. [John Doe]
Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

My instructions from Sister Greer-Jared are to arrange for an automated transfer of the $2,750,000 into the two separate, designated accounts upon receipt of the confirmation letter and poetry. Mr. Ravinga, not Mr. Besteden, has made the final determination regarding the distribution of the funds. Additionally, Director Kepple, not Mr. Besteden, has requested the poems.

I am not privy to the partnership arrangement between you gentlemen. My instructions are merely to obtain written confirmation of your agreement to avoid future disputes. I have received such confirmation from Mr. Besteden (together with the necessary denials) but have yet to receive confirmation from Dr. Ntha and Mr. [John Doe].

If the requested information is not received by the close of business today, my instructions are to postpone the transfer until matters can be clarified upon Sister Greer-Jared’s return on Monday, 26 May 2003. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Anne Dennison-Leigh

Part 53: Blowing It

A Nigerian scammer who refuses to lie for $1.3 million. Maybe he is a Christian, after all.

Subj: YOU CAN CONTACT SISTER EVA IMMEDIATELY FOR ADVISE.
Date: 5/20/2003 5:04:52 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, GreerJared@aol.com, [John Doe]
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus.

Dear Sister Eva,Mr.Ravinga,Mrs.Anne Dennison-Leigh.

I received your mail of this day with the contents well noted and understood for which my thanks.

However,I want to put it clear to you that nothing on this earth not even this transaction will subject me to lie,I dont know this man and I dont know him, I cannot please you and displease my creator,this is pure injustice for you to put words into my mouth for the sake of this transaction,Please do me a favour copy me the copy of the agreement the other party sent to you for my perusal because I dont understand why are they opreating from behind the scene as I dont know or seen him,if you want to be sincere I have asked you times without number to send their phone number and yours which till this moment am yet to receive it from you and as I told you in my last mail that Mr.Besteden want to capitalize on this issue of poem and the confirmation letter to ask you to transfer the whole money to the Lloyd account because if he knows me as he claims he must have known that I dont know anything about poem writing you should understand that I answered all the questions you asked me in the past so I dont see why I will not answer this particular one if I know what to answer remember that I even answered the five questions asked by Besteden the very first day he appeared in this transaction.

Meanwhile there is nothing like dispute between the two parties(I and besteden) because I oberserv that my objectives is different with that of Mr.Besteden according to him he is working towards US$41 which I know nothing about while am working towards transfering to your account the sum of US$38.6M as we initially planned and like I said in my last mail that if you send the money US$1,375,000 to the account I nominated (HSBC) that it will be enough for me to transfer the US$38.6M to your nominated account in Switzerland.if you really want to transfer the money as planned to be effected on 22/05/03 instead of waiting for Sister Eva till monday you can call her for advise.

Regards to the poem been requested by Director Kepple,Am so sorry that there is nothing I can do about it as I have never in my life write ANY kind of poem.so he should bear with me as I dont know anything to do about it.

I await for your very urgent response.

Yours in Christ,
Brother Ntha.

Part 54: Time to Think

Now Dr. Ntha has five days to contemplate how royally he’s screwed things up.

Subj: Wire Transfer
Date: 5/21/2003 7:08:44 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: DennisonLeigh
To: akpuntha@xyz.com, [John Doe], drakpuntha@xyz.com

To: Dr. Akpuntha Ntha
Mr. [John Doe]
Christopher Blessed

Gentlemen,

Because of your failure to provide the requested information, the transfer has been postponed.

I shall be out of the office from today through Friday.

Sister Greer-Jared is at a religion retreat at a German monastery and is hence uncontactable. You may discuss matters with her upon her return Monday.

Anne Dennison-Leigh

UPDATE (5/29/03): The saga continues here.

The Legal Presumption of Atheism

May 21, 2003 | 4 Comments

Opponents of church/state separation frequently complain that the “religion of atheism” has been imposed as the law of the land. People talk like this generally don’t know anything about theology or the law, and haven’t thought through the consequences of their position. They’re right that an atheistic presumption is applied in nearly every situation that matters, but wrong to think that there’s any viable alternative.

Let’s suppose a woman is brought into the emergency room of a public hospital, unconscious and bleeding profusely. Which of the following courses of action should the law require?

1) Do nothing. The woman’s plight is god’s will.
2) Pray for her recovery, but do not administer medical care.
3) Administer medical care, but bring in state-paid employees to pray that things go well.
4) Administer medical care, but let her die if a blood transfusion is required.
5) Test her to see if she has been raped, and, if so, behead her for either fornication or adultery.
6) Gang-rape her for violating God’s rules against walking the streets without a male escort.
7) Kill her for being an infidel.

Let’s further assume in each religion whose choice is listed above, failing to make the correct decision will result in eternal damnation for not only the woman, but for all staff members involved in her treatment.

What to do?

Don’t say, “God wouldn’t approve of any of those choices,” or “God would require only appropriate medical treatment.” All religions are equal, remember? One religion is no better or more provable than any other. Your opinion of what god wants is no better than anybody else’s.

Don’t say, “but the state must intervene in cases where a person’s health or life is at stake.” The woman’s earthly life is nothing compared to her eternal life, and she will burn forever if the wrong choice is made. The state cannot deny the existence of Hell, or weigh the value of an afterlife against this life, without making a religious determination.

Don’t say, “nobody has the right to impose their religion on somebody else.” First, the woman is unconscious, we don’t know what her religion is, and there’s no time to find out. Second, may religions require that their rules, and God’s punishment, be applied to all other people. To declare that people of one religion do not go to the Hell provided for by another religion is to make a religious determination.

Plainly, only a law prohibiting the application of any of the listed religious choices would be acceptable. And that law could be not said to be merely neutral or “agnostic” — it clearly discriminates against at least seven different religions. The law declares, for all intents and purposes, that those religious beliefs are false. It is atheistic.

As I’ve noted before, over forty states have ignored the atheistic presumption and enacted statues encouraging child murder by religions exemption. Since most sane parents don’t want to become child-murderers, the deaths are relatively rare, but these statutes serve to normalize the idea that killing is fine as long as it is supported by a religious reason. The only effective and consistent argument against such laws is an atheistic one — that the child-murdering god does not exist. Someone who maintains that all religions are equal under the law is simply not in a position to pick and choose which gods are acceptable and which are not.

Kill Thyself

May 20, 2003 | 6 Comments

Perfectly sane people commit suicide for a variety of reasons: money problems, broken hearts and other personal tragedies. Crazy people do it too, generally for crazy reasons, or no reason at all. Society usually attempts to step in in either kind of case, endeavoring to reason with the reasonable or medicate the unreasonable. I suppose in some sense everyone has a right to dispose of their life as they see fit, but I’m not (except in cases of terminal illness accompanied by untreatable pain) opposed to well-intentioned intervention efforts. I think they’re particular justified where the person’s mental or emotional state is so dramatically impaired that the act can’t be reasonably viewed as an exercise of free will.

Should society apply a different standard where the reason for suicide is a religious one, i.e., a refusal to accept a life-saving blood transfusion or some other safe and effective medical treatment? Should the patient in such cases be treated, perhaps, as just a little bit disturbed? Yale Law Professor Stephen L. Carter says no. In fact, he’s insulted by the suggestion. He’s appalled at the way hospitals treat death-seeking Jehovah’s Witnesses:

The machinery of modern medicine has not been impressed either [with the Witnesses religions arguments against transfusion] . . . except with the possibility that the Witnesses have gone off the deep end; at least one hospital’s protocol apparently requires doctors to refer protesting Witnesses to psychiatrists. Although the formal text of this requirement states as the reason the need to be sure that the Witness knows what he or she is doing, the subtext is a suspicion that the patient was not acting rationally in rejecting medical advice for religious reasons. After all, there is no protocol for packing consenting patients off to see the psychiatrist. But then, patients who consent to blood transfusions are presumably acting rationally. Perhaps, with a bit of gentle persuasion, the dissenting Witness can be made to act rationally too — even if it means giving up an important tenet of the religion.

Professor Carter finds this attitude to typify this country’s disrespect for religion in general:

And therein lies the trouble. In contemporary American culture, the religions are more and more treated as just passing beliefs

Conversion

May 19, 2003 | 131 Comments

People change their minds about many things, important and trivial, over the course of a lifetime. Liberals become conservatives, Republicans become Democrats, pro-choicers become pro-lifers, opera-lovers become rap-lovers, etc.

They convert.

Frequently the change of mind isn’t entirely self-induced. People read books and newspapers, watch television, and even have conversations with family, friends and others.

They are persuaded.

But conversion, when it comes to religion, is a bit of a dirty word. The persuasion used to effect a conversion is often labeled as “proselytization” or “evangelism.” The presumption is that people aren’t really supposed to change their mind about religion, and that attempts at persuasion are inherently coercive and unwelcome. And it’s not just when the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Moonies come knocking. For example, I’ve learned that just presenting arguments and conclusions regarding religion in an atheist blog is considered evangelistic — even though entering the site and reading it is completely voluntary. Arguments for a tax cut at a political blog don’t receive the same reaction; a comment attacking the author for trying to “impose” his view upon his readers would be met with either puzzlement or outright derision.

Rachel Lucas has opined that “the last thing to debate online is religion.” For her, religion involves “the most important beliefs a person can have” and a “real” discussion on the matter with any one person can take years. Why the internet is a bad place for that discussion to occur isn’t clear, but if religion is truly as important as she contends it would seem that gettting it right — exposing oneself to persuasion and possible conversion — would also be important. One’s views on the death penalty, euthanasia, abortion, etc. are also important, but no one would suggest that all debate on those issues should be shut off simply because people feel strongly about them. And there’s no stigma attached to becoming a “convert” to one view or another on such issues.

Many people hold this schizoid view that religion is at once 1) a set of deep, carefully-considered unchanging absolute truths and 2) a set of arbitrary, faith-based beliefs which differ from person to person, one set being as “true” as any other. Both views cause a certain resistance to conversion. It’s futile, not to mention impolite, to challenge what a person holds to be absolute truth; and equally futile to suggest a change where there’s no truth involved, where choice is akin to one between chocolate and vanilla.

But people do convert. The first conversion occurs in childhood. To my knowledge, few babies spontaneously utter the words “Jesus” or “Mohammed,” “Ganesh,” “God” or even “Ceremonial Deity.” They hear those words from others, usually their parents, and a long, involuntary period of indoctrination inevitably follows. This seriously undermines, I think, the notion that one’s most deeply-held, important beliefs should be immune from attempts at conversion because they have resulted from years of careful contemplation and reflection. To the contrary, the beliefs have been accepted, in the first instance, without any deliberation or understanding at all.

Formal religious training rarely cures this defect. It seldom, if ever, addresses the core concept of God, and almost no child reaches maturity familiar with the words omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc., much less the multiple definitions that have been proposed for each term. At most, they are call upon to debate the “meaning” of the Trinity, of the Resurrection, of the Five Questions or of some other superficial, made-up sectarian doctrine that makes sense only if one has studiously avoided serious discussion of the harder God questions. I once brought up the topic of free will with an acquaintance who could debate the finer nuances of Kosher law, and was met with a puzzled stare and a question: Do you mean “Free Willie?”

Let’s suppose that a person’s first exposure to religion was delayed until high school. The Bible, The Qu’ran, the Book of Mormon were taught alongside Greek and Roman legends and various tribal creation myths. Would any teenager, after deep and careful consideration, become convinced of the existence of Zeus — to the exclusion of Poseideon and Jesus? Or in Jesus, Allah and Hera to the exclusion of all others? More likely she would reject them all, or, if insane, accept them all.

But few people reach maturity without any views about religion. They’ve already been converted once. And the presumption is that religion is a one-round game of musical chairs — once the music stops, you’re stuck in whatever chair you happen to sit in.

This notion is surprising when religion is viewed historically. People didn’t just wake up one day thousands of years ago and discover that they were Catholic or Protestant or Muslim or Jewish. Somebody made up each the hundreds of sects that comprise each religion and attempted to persuade others to join; there were crusades, inquisitions, reformations other forms of free-spirited debate. Yet, today there’s this idea that leaving one’s original faith is a betrayal, the abandonment of one’s most deeply-held beliefs, even though they’re a set of beliefs that were themselves formed as a consequence of a conversion.

Meryl Yourish recently left a comment disputing the notion self-protection is the reason that Jews don’t evangelize. In it, she expresses another common attitude towards conversion:

Jews are not non-evangelical out of reasons of personal safety. Judaism is a religion taken most seriously by its adherents, and we try to talk people out of converting during the conversion process. The reason behind that is that you are never “excommunicated” as a Jew, and a nonpracticing Jew is seen as a loss to the community.

There are a few small Orthodox Jewish sects that attempt to attract converts, but for now, it’s only a tiny minority.

The fact that Jewishness happens to be socially unacceptable in many places has nothing to do with our lack of evangelical Jews.

The logic of this is extremely hard to follow. If, in fact, Judaism is a true and important belief taken seriously by its adherents, why talk people out of converting? Why is the “tiny minority” of Orthodox sects wrong for evangelizing, if their beliefs are in fact the best ones? What arguments could possibly be raised against Judaism, if it is that intellectually compelling? Why is a nonpracticing Jew a “loss to the community” if, presumably, the person has left due the lack of intellectual rigor needed to maintain a belief in the all-important tenets of Judaism?

As I’ve noted before, The Anti-Defamation League also takes a strong stand against conversion. It expressed “distress” over the Catholic Church’s canonization of Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who died in Auschwitz. They also accused the Jews for Jesus for engaging in “subterfuge and deception” (here and here) in connection with an ad campaign which featured Holocaust survivors who had converted to Jews-for-Jesus-ism, including Marion Parkhurst, who lost a child while at Bergen-Belsen (where she also encountered Dr. Mengele). Interestingly, the ADL’s objection wasn’t based upon the premise that converting from Judaism was bad, or that evangelism is bad. Rather, the ADL argued that Marion Parkhurst’s deeply-held religious beliefs were false:

“Jews for Jesus” seeks to convert Jews to the belief that Jesus is the Messiah; it misleadingly claims that accepting Jesus as the Messiah is compatible with Jewish theology . . . It is impossible for a person who is Jewish to worship Jesus Christ. That is the fundamental distinction that sets these faith systems apart.”

In other words, of all the world’s religions, Jews for Jesus is the only one that contains some impossible internal contradiction. Believing in Ganesh and Shiva apparently doesn’t present that problem, but Moses and Christ are somehow logically incompatible. Presumably, Marion Parkhurst is under some metaphysical compulsion to convert, despite the stigma against conversion in nearly all other circumstances. I suspect many people, people who would never think of criticizing a religion on the much more compelling logical grounds set forth in my Basic Assumptions, would nevertheless find the ADL’s argument compelling.

I agree with the ADL that truth is a good reason to convert. In fact, I believe that it is the only reason to convert. But atheism is true, and Judaism, Christianity and Jews-for-Jesus-ism are all false. It’s false that all “deeply-held personal beliefs” are equal. It’s false that whatever set of beliefs you were born into are true, unless those beliefs were atheistic.

God Squad Review XLIV

May 19, 2003 | 11 Comments

The Squad gives advice to someone who is self-conscious about having “almost no chin” and wants to know if getting an implant is appropriate:

Our advice is to wait until you think through all the risks and reasons. Elective plastic surgery can make people feel better about themselves but also may launch an obsessive pursuit of an ideal standard that’s spiritually debilitating and idolatrous. Finding the right balance is difficult, but possible.

So plastic surgery is permissible, provided one does not become over-obsessed with one’s appearance. Fair enough. But as I’ve noted before, the Squad has opposed body piercing (including the wearing of earrings), on the grounds that “[a]ny practice that involves self-wounding or self-mutilation is prohibited by Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious authorities.” Tattoos are forbidden too, as they are “nonreversible stupid body woundings.” The Squad believes “[t]he real spiritual problem with all of this is the arrogance that assumes the body we’ve been given is imperfect and in need of some further decoration . . . [t]he body is a holy thing, not an Etch-A-Sketch tablet.”

Unless a body piercing somehow involves an anchor, surgery is by far a more permanent and invasive practice. So why does the Squad approve of surgery with the “right balance” but condemn piercing as “prohibited”? I haven’t done a survey, but I suspect it’s this: there are a lot more Jewish and Catholic plastic surgeons than there are Jewish and Catholic body piercing and tattoo parlors.

The Force of Logic

May 18, 2003 | 66 Comments

As demonstrated by Dr. Robert Morey, logic can be effectively employed to disprove the existence of God. The fallacy of false assumptions, the fallacy of arguing in a circle, the fallacy of irrelevance, the fallacy of equivocation, and the strawman fallacy, among others, form the shaky foundation upon which all theology is built. So I can add nothing to Dr. Morey’s unimpeachable conclusion:

The average Muslim has been deceived by Muslim apologists who use such logical fallacies without regard to reason, fact or honesty. But there are many Muslims who want to be rational in their religion and thus have an open mind to rational discourse. Once they see that their arguments are based on logical fallacies, they will be open to the wonderful news that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins on the cross.

(link courtesy of Madhu “MadMan” Menon, Defender of Justice, Destroyer of Evil, and Keeper of the Knowledge)

Laci + Peterson + Satanic + Cult

May 17, 2003 | 3 Comments

According to today’s New York Post, Scott Peterson’s lawyers are now floating the theory that Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner were victims of a satanic cult. (Note that Elizabeth Smart’s kidnappers were a “religious cult” because they believed in nice, but misguided, things like Jesus and child-rape).

I’ve run a couple of sensitively-written news items on the Peterson case (here and here) but I never used the word “satantic” in either of those posts. Nevertheless, somehow my blog has become the first-listed Google and Yahoo result for the search “Laci + Peterson + Satanic + Cult.” So to make matters perfectly clear, I must say this: I do not subscribe to the ridiculous new defense theory and consider it to be a terrible insult to the memory of two beautiful people.

Spread the Love

May 16, 2003 | 84 Comments

Welcome, Mark Shea Fans!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!

The item Mark so kindly directed you to is below the introductory note that follows.

[Introductory Note: First time visitors to The Raving Atheist who want to be incredibly offended by attacks on their idiotic, superstitious, baby-talk, sky-god religious beliefs please visit the following links corresponding to the appropriate faith (or just stick your religion’s name into the “Search” box):
Catholic (here, here and here)
Jewish (here and here)
Muslim (here and here)
Evangelical Christian (here)
Wiccan (here and here)
Mormon (here)
Buddhist (here)
Agnostic (here)

P.S.: If you disagree with anything I say about your religion, it’s because you are stupid, lack the slightest background in theology and need to be re-educated. Please sit down, shut up, and read every entry in my entire site so that you can begin to think sensibly about things. Go here first for proof that there is no God, and for an explanation of why all attempts to derive morality from God-belief are futile and potentially harmful.] [Updated 5/17/03]


Based on an e-mail I just received, I think I have finally driven poor Dr. Ntha out of his mind.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Those who do not wish to wait a week to see my last few exchanges with him may go to St. Blog’s Parish and leave a completely non-sarcastic, sincere, complimentary comment on any three (3) of the blogs listed there. Leave the names of the three blogs you visited in my comments section and I will send you a copy of the correspondence before midnight tonight, New York time.

Disagreeing to Disagree

May 16, 2003 | 72 Comments

It’s interesting how many bloggers who agree with Steven Den Beste on the topic of atheism disagree with me, even though there’s not the slightest practical difference between Den Beste’s atheism and mine.

As I pointed out in a previous post, Den Beste agrees that the existence of the Judeo-Christian god may be disproven. That god can be shown, depending upon the precise definition, to be internally inconsistent or empirically false, just like a square circle, an invisible pink unicorn, or the Wizard of Oz. Of course, notes Den Beste, disproving the Judeo-Christian god doesn’t disprove the existence of dead mythological gods like Balder the Norseman. Nor does disproving the Judeo-Christian god exclude the possibility of a hypothethical, apathetic God named “Fred” that just watches the universe without interacting with it in any way — its non-interaction indistinguisable from that of the invisible, inaudible, undetectable rhinoceroses that are stampeding around you in the room this very moment.

But disproving the Judeo-Christian god does disprove the Judeo-Christian god. Den Beste labels me evangelistic not because I attack that particular god, but because I too “strongly equate” the term “God” with the Judeo-Christian one while giving too little attention to Fred or Balder. So to Den Beste, the Judeo-Christian god — despite its popularity — is somewhat of a strawman, an easy target, no more worthy of attack than elves or leprechauns. My zealotry, then, consists only in taking the Judeo-Christian god too seriously, and not also considering ridiculous, but at least hypothetically possible, constructs such as Fred or Balder. So Den Beste’s condescension towards the Judeo-Christian god is thus in some way actually greater than mine. It’s so clearly impossible that it’s not even worth discussing.

A number of bloggers who have commented on his posts seem to have missed this point, not realizing that Den Beste’s assertion that atheism and theism are both a matter of “faith” only applies to trivial, meaningless constructs such as Fred or Balder in which nobody believes and which Den Beste himself calls “ludicrous. Devout Christian Tertius calls Den Beste essay “a very sensible, well-reasoned and non-inflammatory piece.” Frank of IMAO, also a believer, calls Den Beste’s piece a “nice essay.” Rachel Lucas, an atheist who is apparently nonetheless sympathetic to her father’s Christianity, calls Den Beste is a “genius.” The confusion seems to stem from Den Beste’s assertion, quite mistaken, that the failure of atheism as to Fred implies the failure of atheism as to the Judeo-Christian god.

Oblivious to the problem, Frank calls my Basic Assumptions “idiotic.” But Den Beste never disagreed with my first assumption demonstrating the Judeo-Christian god to be internally inconsistent or empirically false; he impliedly endorsed it. Frank, of course, never addresses the contradictions I identify as arising between the attributes of the traditional God; instead, he observes that the law of identity may not be disproven by simply claiming that the two “A’s” in the statement “A is A” are two different A’s. This only bolsters my arguments, since presumably Frank recognizes that the law of contradiction upon which my disproofs rely is also immune from attack.

Similarly, Tertius calls me “a most obnoxious, and all too familiar Internet Infidel” — blissfully unaware that Den Beste shares my disdain for his tooth-fairy deity. What apparently pleases him most is what he perceives as Den Beste’s liberal view that “it’s all a matter of faith,” a notion which, of course, Den Beste applies only to faith in Fred or Balder. Tertius’ tolerance, though, does have its limits. For while “[w]e are free to make choices,” he says, not all faith-based choices are correct: “[w]hether it is the right choice, is another matter, an important matter, perhaps the only thing that really matters.” In other words, while it’s impossible to prove or disprove god, it’s a certainty that those who make the wrong choice burn.

One blogger who got it right was Andrew Dalton of Venting Steam. I can add little to his analysis of the bait-and-switch game theists (and some agnostic atheists) sometimes use to suggest that gods like Fred (designated PNOG in the quote below) refute atheism as to the Judeo-Christian god (designated TNOG):

So many non-dogmatic discussions about God end up terribly confused, because different groups of people end up using the word “God” to mean very different things. For most of the known history of Homo sapiens, the idea of a “god” referred to an intelligent, conscious being possessing fantastic powers over the physical world. Such deities were originally highly anthropomorphic, having a human form and human emotions such as anger, jealousy, love, and lust. Many modern religions have tidied this up a bit, by taking away the deity’s bodily trappings. Nevertheless, it is the powerful, intervening, conscious, and “personal” deity that still constitutes the heart of all religions claiming belief in a “God.” This is the theologians’ notion of God (TNOG), and many people have pointed out the awful contradictions in this idea.

The philosophers, however, have a different idea. For centuries they have been discussing God, but their concept of him/her/it has come to bear little resemblance to what lies at the center of the world’s religions. Their “God” is sanitized, stripped down, and tucked away from daily interference with the laws of nature. This God has no use for the smiting and commanding so characteristic of Thor, Zeus, Yahweh, or Allah. His nature is simultaneously constrained and open-ended, ever-flexible so as not to step on toes of physicists (or anyone else possessing actual knowledge). I’ll call this the philosophers’ notion of God (PNOG). Why does this matter? Read on:

There is a logical fallacy known as as the “straw man,” in which one person sets up a caricature of his opponent’s idea in order to easily attack it. It is a fallacy because it plays to the listener’s emotions while leaving the opponent’s actual argument unaddressed. The idea of God is different in the sense that we usually see the opposite. In this “reverse straw man,” a person argues argues for his own position by using an idea that seems better than the one he is actually defending. In particular, arguments about God frequently substitute PNOG in place of TNOG in order to covertly make TNOG appear more plausible.

One problem is that no one actually believes in PNOG. There are deists, to be sure, but deism is an academic theory. The deist has to settle for PNOG, because anything remotely resembling TNOG must be booted out tout de suite by anyone with a nominal commitment to reason.

Update: Mike of Critical Thought has a good objection even as to the allegedly “apathetic” Fred.

Update: To further fuel your righteous rage against Den Beste’s traitorous, pandering conduct, read Jason Malloy’s comments here and here.

The Nigerian Scam Meets the Raving Atheist (Part V)

May 15, 2003 | 8 Comments

Recap: In previous correspondence (see e-mails 1-8, here, 9-11, here, 12-21, here and 22-30, here), a Nigerian con artist — motivated by the promise of a $275,000 payday — has answered a bewildering number of theological inquiries posed to him by the controller and Board of Directors of a multi-million dollar Christian publishing house, Raving Industries. Thinking he’s about to hit the jackpot, he agrees to become the company’s permanent “Spiritual Advisor.” This week, I call in the cops.

Part 31: The Met

The Metropolitan Police Service of London has set up a Fraud Alert webpage with a special section devoted to the West African advanced fee fraud (apparently that’s what this is all called). Faced with an approaching deadline for payment, and provided with an actual name and an actual account number, I decided it was time alert the authorities. I stalled Dr. Ntha with this e-mail and called “the Met” the morning after I sent it.

But how do you explain to someone that you have obtained the evidence of the crime you want to report by running a horrifically offensive atheist website, posing as a Christian Publishing house, and tormenting a Nigerian scammer with theological questions for four weeks? I rehearsed the explanation in my head for some time before concluding that there are proofs of God which sound more convincing. I considered simply referring them to the website, but then I pictured these helmeted Bobbies actually looking at The Raving Atheist and poking about the links and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . . I decided I didn’t want to be prosecuted in the Hague for some crazy international hate crime. I resolved to simply say I had received a suspicious e-mail, was aware of the scam, and had obtained some information they might be interested in.

The bloke I spoke to (he had a thick bloke accent) said that since I hadn’t sent any money yet, I just should e-mail the account information and let them investigate. So I gave them what I had. If it turns out they can trace the funds in it to other victims, he said, they’ll freeze the account and track down the perpetrator.

Since Dr. Ntha didn’t respond to my last religious survey the last time, I repeated the questions. My main purpose was to provoke some anti-atheist sentiment out of Mr. Ntha. Atheism, as we all know, is just “another religion,” and Mrs. Dennison-Leigh (and atheist herself) was going to become quite prickly, quite quicky if provoked.

Subj: Wire Transfer
Date: 5/8/2003 10:29:45 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: DennisonLeigh
To: akpuntha@xyz.com
CC: Raving Atheist, GreerJared, RavingIndustries

Dear Mr. Ntha,

While we have no objection to utilizing a British bank account, and have confirmed that [ABC Bank] accepts online wire transfers, we still need to know the names of those who will have access to it. Accordingly, please supply me with the following information:

1) The names of all authorized corporate signatories to the [XYZ Corp.] account;
2) The religions of all authorized signatories to the account,
3) The names of any atheists who are authorized signatories to the account,
4) The religions of all of your partners who will have indirect access to the funds, and
5) Which, if any, of your partners are atheists.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Anne Dennison-Leigh

Part 32: Holy War

Dr. Ntha’s grammar, never a model of clarity, is more garbled here than ever. I think he’s saying that he doesn’t trust his imaginary Muslim partners, and is cutting them out in favor of his imaginary Christian associates. Hence, he claims, the money must be transferred to a different account. In reality, I assume he had just used the first account to bilk somebody else and needed to close it out fast before it was frozen by the authorities.

Regretably, he remains neutral on the atheist issue.

Subj: Wire Transfer
Date: 5/8/2003 2:35:02 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, GreerJared@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Greetings to you all in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Mrs. Anne Dennison

Evangelism

May 14, 2003 | 19 Comments

Steven Den Beste labels me an “evangelistic” atheist, apparently because I believe atheism is true and say so. Den Beste himself is not a zealot, he says, because he has “little interest in trying” to convince others that atheism is true and is “content to let others make their own decisions.” Now, I don’t know what it would mean to make a decision for another person; I’ve never proposed cutting open people’s head and implanting my own thoughts. So I don’t understand, as I’ve said before, why simply attempting to persuade others of the truth atheism is evangelistic in a way that advocating the truth of any other proposition is not. Den Beste spends some time trying to persuade his readers that atheism is not provable; if evangelism consists of the attempt to change minds, he’s evangelistic, at least as to that particular form of atheistic agnosticism.

A while back I mocked the plan of three western states to rename the U.S. 666 highway. The sole reason for the proposed change was that that number, in some interpretations of the Book of Revelation, is the number of the “beast.” No meaningful proof was offered of the beast’s existence. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s website, the evidence consisted of 1) a statement from a drunken driving suspect that “Triple 6 is evil . . .[e]veryone dies on that highway,” 2) the opinion of a local resident who “blamed Satan,” and 3) a magazine cartoon depicting the devil riding a car on the highway. Nevertheless, under pressure from Native Americans who had long supported the change because of the number’s “satanic connotation,” elected officials from Colorado, New Mexico and Utah filed applications asking that the highway’s name be changed to U.S. 393.

Let’s compare my “evangelistic” objection to this waste of taxpayer funds to a similar sort of complaint made by Den Beste the very day after his last post on atheism. In “How low can we go?, Den Beste criticizes the University of Massachusetts for proposing to replace its Minuteman mascot with a gray wolf. The school’s athletic director, Ian McCaw, noted that the Minuteman hadn’t been selling many sweat shirts and hats, a finding that was verified by focus groups. McCaw also identified “gender, fireams and ethnicity issues.” Den Beste’s analysis:

In other words, the Minuteman is white, male, and carries a rifle for purposes of shooting other humans, which makes him the iconic representation of the worst that America has to offer, from the point of view of multiculturalists. Worse, this white male potential-murderer is actually held up as a positive symbol, someone to be admired.

Which means that it constantly serves as a subtle reminder that sometimes it’s useful to own guns, and sometimes white men have actually been the good guys. No wonder they want to get rid of it; it might actually make white male students stop feeling guilty.

Why is my objection to the highway name change more “evangelistic” than Den Beste’s objection to the mascot change? The U.S. 666 proposal is based upon an insane, unsubstantiated supersitition which is eminently less debatable than the financial and multiculturalist considerations proferred by the University of Massachussetts. Perhaps I can’t “disprove” the beast’s existence in every metaphysical sense that might be proposed by Den Beste, but it seems to me that his burden in disproving the University’s case would be far higher.

I think the difference is this: whereas ordinary politics wears a suit, religion wears a dress — and nobody wants to hit a girl.

The Beste Theory of Atheism?

May 13, 2003 | 28 Comments

Atheism cannot be proved, says Steven Den Beste in a series of posts (here, here and here) purporting to demonstrate his “major and deep disagreement” with the second of my Basic Assumptions. In reality, there’s no meaningful difference between our positions. Although he characterizes me as an “evangelistic,” “militant” and “Christian-bashing” atheist, he too places belief in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Gods on the exact same philosophical shelf as invisible pink unicorns, square circles, astrology, Santa Claus, Leprechauns, the tooth fairy, the Wiccan God and Goddess, Siddhartha and Zeus. As to those entities, he does indeed belief atheism to be an eminently provable matter. The only deity with respect to which he considers disbelief to be a matter of faith is “Fred,” a metaphysical straw-man which plays no part in any theological system except Den Beste’s own disingenuous and coy brand of “belief atheism.”

The scope of my atheism is set forth in my first assumption. There I say that there is no God because “all definitions of the word ‘God’ are either self-contradictory, incoherent, meaningless or refuted by empirical, scientific evidence.” This is the only form of atheism I purport to “prove” in the language he quotes from my second assumption. And Den Beste concedes that Christianity and dozens of other religions may be demonstrated to be internally inconsistent or empirically false (proofs which I supply in my first assumption).

His only quibble is that, under his more encompassing definition of atheism, I must also disprove some completely powerless, deistic construct which does not interact in any detectable way with the universe (Fred), or some dead mythological Norse God named Balder. But those gods — even if they are not self-contradictory or incoherent — are simply meaningless. Den Beste admits as much as to Fredism, stating that “[a]s a real religion it’s ludicrous” (for an illustration of why, see Rift Between Deists and Non-Deists Growing, Study Says). And while it’s possible (and not falsifiable) in some sense that the universe is a giant brain, or that every tree, rock and atom is conscious, or that the universe was created five minutes ago, or that we are all brains in vats, those sort of theories do incredible violence to any notion of reality or science. Den Beste well knows that the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Heisenberg Principle, Quantum Mechanics, evolution and all empirical theories simply collapse in the context of that sort of skepticism. Those crazy hypotheses play no role in anybody’s way of thinking outside of college dorms and mental institutions.

More to the point, as noted above, I am under no obligation to disprove such hypotheses to prove my atheism as against the religions which are actually in contention in this world. In a rather odd departure from his usual logicism, Den Beste declares that disproof of Fred, Balder and all other non-Christian Gods is “essential . . . [f]or those who go beyond embrace of atheism for themselves and need it as a weapon with which to bludgeon Christians.”

Logical disproofs of the Christian god lose their force unless Fred is also refuted? There’s an old joke about a lawyer, camping with his grandmother, who puts on his sneakers to flee from an approaching bear — and when grandma suggests he can’t outrun a bear, he retorts that he only need outrun her. So to prove my atheism with respect to Christianity and similar beliefs I don’t need to outrun Fred, only Jesus, Allah and the self-contradictory theories upon which their divinity rests.

A few words about my so-called “evangelicalism.” Professor Volokh raised the same snide, condescending charge against me even though, as I pointed out here, he placed Jesus, Allah, Ganesh, the Wizard of Oz, and the Loch Ness Monster on the same metaphysical plane. Den Beste is no different, although he, unlike Volokh, effects a studied disinterest in reilgion rather than being concerned with what is “best” for it. And while Den Beste claims that he doesn’t “see atheism as a belief to be inherently superior to any other,” he does indeed assert its “exceptionalism” as to traditional monotheism and virtually every faith other than Fredism. He “became an atheist for good and sufficient reason,” and necessarily considers the reasons asserted by the mainstream religions to be bad and insufficient. He knows very well that virtually every religious group in the world would be insulted to hear their God equated with the Wizard of Oz or a square circle or an Invisible Pink Unicorn, and would consider such comparisons to be highly evangelical. His evangelicalism may not be couched, like mine, in obscenity-laced rants, but it is evangelicalism nonetheless.

And even Den Beste stoops to a bit of overt (but perfectly justified) condescension in the course of his proof:

[I]t’s not at all uncommon for a young person to vocally embrace atheism, or some very strange religion such as “The Church of the Goddess”, as part of a more general revolt against parental authority, which on some level all young people go through as part of the maturation process. It’s the same kind of thing as dyeing their hair green or getting a piercing or tattoo; it’s as much about scandalizing the grownups as anything else. Most people grow out of that, fortunately.

Unless I’m misreading something here, the plain implication is that Wiccan and other pagan earth religions are “very strange” and somehow less mature than Catholicism, Judaism, Islam or Hindi, and that sporting green hair, piercings and tattoos is qualitatively different from running around with forehead dots, mitres and funny robes. Now, I hold no brief for the Wiccans or any related New Age nonsense — see Wiccan Teen Defends Right to Be Beaten Up for Aggressively Silly and Obviously Made-Up Religion and Wiccan Troop Offers Welcome Alternative to Atheist Boy Scout — and, indeed, the Archpriest of the Wiccan Aquarian Tabernacle Church and founder of SpiralScouts, Pete Pathfinder Davis, threatened to sue me for the latter post (I told him to “go fuck a witch”). But you can’t, like Den Beste does, posture yourself as a tolerant, neutral atheist co-religionist while selectively condemning particular creeds (notably, his position on piercing and tattoos mirrors that of the God Squad, which declares that “”[a]ny practice that involves self-wounding or self-mutilation is prohibited by Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious authorities” and condemns tattoos as “nonreversible stupid body woundings”).

I am not so selective. Contrary to Den Beste’s supposition, my criticism is not limited to Christianity, although it is a necessarily a frequent target given its dominance on the American political scene. Interested readers may consider my posts on Catholicism (here, here and here), Judaism (here and here), Islam (here and here) Evangelical Christianity (here) Wicca (here and here), Mormonism (here) Agnosticism (here), Buddhism (here) and others. And I’m fully conscious of the limits of atheism (here, here, and here), including my own (here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Given Den Beste’s actual beliefs, there’s no reason for him to be tolerant. His philosophy-lab objections are particularly ill-directed at my blog, which, as the subtitle explains, is an examination of how “How Religious Devotion Trivializes American Law and Politics” (I don’t go after astrology, psychic phenomenon and other psuedoscience because those forms of irrationalism are not usually protected or favored by the First Amendment, and have no constituencies pushing to have such beliefs enacted into law). There is a very real movement in this country to make religion the touchstone of ethics, to assign moral rights to people based upon nothing but their faith. As I’ve noted before, I primarily focus on injustices arising from 1) penalizing innocent people and innocent conduct on the basis of false and irrational religious beliefs and 2) awarding people special privileges based upon their religious beliefs. For example:

1. Over forty state legislatures have enacted laws allowing parents to withhold simple, effective, life-saving medical treatment from their children provided they get a note from a preacher verifying that they believe in faith healing.

2. Relying upon religious tradition, the Supreme Court has ruled that a state may imprison gays for having sex. Gays may not marry or receive many of the benefits available to heterosexual couples.

3. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believes that executing innocent people is “no big deal” because God makes things right in the afterlife.

4. Commercial and residential property owners must pay higher taxes to make up for revenue lost on tax-exempt religious property.

5. States maintain taxpayer financed kosher law enforcement divisions to insure that religious dietary strictures are being followed by private commercial establishments.

6. People who profess a belief in God receive special privileges (exemptions from narcotics and traffic laws, from financing abortions, and receive lighter prison sentences and special food) that non-believers do not.

7. Many state laws require public school teachers to lead their students in declaring that this is a nation “under God.” No state law requires public school teachers to lead their students in declaring that there is no God.

8. Public schools may teach that stories about about Greek deities are “mythology” but may not apply that label to stories about Moses, Jesus, Allah or Ganesh.

These injustices do not result, as Den Beste implied, from evangelical squabbles between extremists on opposite ends of the theist/atheist spectrum. Virtually every religious group advocates for some privilege or exemption based on its own particular theory of exceptionalism. No atheist group does that, the only “evangelicalism” from that corner being resistance to assaults on the personal liberty and finances of non-believers. When atheists object to these sort of laws, they are not silly teenage children rebelling against Christianity; they are the adults, stepping in to save the big religious babies from themselves.

Let’s suppose, for a minute, that we apply Den Beste’s presumption of equality of all religious beliefs. Why should Den Beste’s prejudice in favor evolution trump the fundamentalist faith in creation? There’s nothing falsifiable about the theory that God create the universe four thousand years ago or five minutes ago — why should the atheistic, naturalistic framework trimuph? Why not substitute prayer for medicine in all hospitals? Why not invalidate all contracts allegedly drawn up six minutes ago, and repeal all family statutes on the theory that nobody is related to anybody because we were all created simultaneously? Crazy, yes, but why is that any crazier than the theory that belief in a resurrection myth is the sole prerequisite for eternal life? Why not impose resurrection-belief as a requirement of citizenship? Certainly, that would represent a limitation of freedom in this life, but how could that deprivation remotely compare to the penalty of eternal damnation?

Santorum Applauds Polygamy Crackdown

May 12, 2003 | 9 Comments

Selangor, Malaysia, May 12, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Malaysia’s richest state last week tightened its polygamy laws for Muslim men, prompting words of praise from Senator Rick Santorum. Under the new, stricter Islamic rules enacted in Selangor, men may still take up to four wives — but must show that they can be “fair” to each of them.

“These new tougher polygamy laws will inevitably lead to fewer tax breaks for homosexual and sibling couples,” said Santorum. “If decency in America is ever to be restored, we must follow Selangor’s example.”

Other Malaysian states have relaxed their polygamy laws this year, a move applauded by UCLA professor Edward Hkolov. “America needs more religious freedom, not less,” said Hkolov, ejaculating into the mouths of a two-headed Siamese twin goat. “And there is nothing more all-American than the Judeo-Christian incestuous gay polygamy of the Dahm triplets.

Correction: An astute reader has correctly pointed out an offensive use of language in this post. The proper term is “conjoined twin” not “Siamese twin.”

Clarification: Due to the juxtaposition of various concepts, some readers were left with the impression that The Dahm Triplets are conjoined. They are not.

God Squad Review XLIII

May 12, 2003 | 7 Comments

God’s a sadomasochist, says the Squad to a reader who can’t bear to think about her deceased mom on Mother’s Day:

[Y]ou might want to thank God for the pain you feel this Mother’s Day. This may seem strange or even cruel, but your pain is an exact measure of the love you had for your mom and the void her passing left in your heart. The greater the love, the greater the pain.

Now I understand the sentiment here, but why has a perfect God set things up this way? I enjoy many tasty meals, but I don’t experience stomach pains proportionate their deliciousness after I’m finished. I certainly wouldn’t thank the chef if I did; I’d sue him for food poisoning.

Tip to mothers: become a real pain to your children the day before you die. Make them change your bedpan and scream until they want to put a pillow over your head. And with your last breath tell them you’ve written them out of your will. That way, they’ll experience joy in both your life and death.

Atheist Mother’s Day

May 11, 2003 | 2 Comments

Happy first Mother’s Day to the wife of atheist blogger Andy of World Wide Rant. Like any decent atheist father, I’m sure he’s volunteered to change all the diapers today. Not at home, but here.

Taking Sides

May 10, 2003 | 10 Comments

Judith Weiss of Kesher Talk puts herself in good company:


I have to agree with Clubbeaux about raving atheists. Agnostics just admit they don’t know. Most of us are agnostics at least occasionally. But it takes a lot of effort to be an atheist. If you go to the trouble of slapping that label on yourself you are most likely reacting against something, rather than creating something of your own.

Ms. Weiss doesn’t reveal whether she’s an agnostic as to Leprechauns, Allah, unicorns or Jesus, or as to the proposition that the moon has a tootsie roll center. But it would take “a lot of effort” for her to outright deny any of those things, to slap upon herself the label of a “Leprechaun denier,” etc., so I assume she takes a sensibly neutral stance as to each. And in the time she has saved by not “reacting against them,” she has created Judaism.

I will admit that I am an agnostic in some areas of belief. For example, I haven’t the slightest idea whether my e-mail was working the week I submitted my Carnival of the Vanities entry (Pope Hits Out Against Sarcasm, I believe) to Ms. Weiss at Kesher Talk last February. I do know for certain that I sent it to her twice — once a couple days before the Carnival, and the second time on the day of the Carnival with a note questioning why my entry did not appear — and that on neither occasion did I receive a reply, or a message that the e-mail was returned as undeliverable. I also know that every other time I submitted an entry to a Carnival, it was posted.

Perhaps my e-mail was broken that week; perhaps I simply used the wrong address. And time has faded my memory, so I guess that, like God, the reason I missed out will forever have to remain one of the eternal mysteries of the universe.

Atheist minions, I command thee . . . ahhhh, never mind.

Israeli Court Nixes Women’s Rights

May 9, 2003 | 4 Comments

Jerusalem, Israel, May 9, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Ending a fourteen-year battle over Judaism’s holiest site, the Israeli Supreme Court has barred a Jewish Women’s group from praying at the Western Wall and directed them to worship at an alternative site known as the Hoochie Cooze Corner. The decision rejected a feminist coaltion’s demand for the right to be spat on, cursed and beaten by men at the Filthy Cunting Twat section of the Wall.

Anat Hoffman, spokesperson for Women of the Wall, condemned the ruling as a severe blow to religious freedom and equality. “The court has adopted a narrow-minded, crabbed conception of God which reduces women to third-class citizens,” she said. “The halakha plainly grants us full second-class citizenship, entitling us to stand in a sex-segregated dirt-pit while silently mouthing Torah passages condemning our very gender in the presence of men who hate us.”

Hoffman noted that even the Wall’s Rabbi, Meir Yehuda Getz, has conceded that a woman at the Wall is like a pig at the Wall. “Why must we, then, be reduced to the status of rats?” she demanded. “G-d has made us in the image of swine, and no man should be permitted to deprive us of our pig-dom,” declared Hoffman. She later added that “we are a turtle with wings.”

Hoffman sharply questioned the logic of the court’s directive. “How could an omnipotent, omniscient being who can only hear us if we lip-sync in front of a rock possibly receive our prayers if we are talking aloud thirty feet away?” she asked. Hoffman, who hails from BDSM-friendly San Francisco, further questioned how the enraged male worshippers could possibly urinate all over her group’s impure, talliot-entwined pig-turtle bodies from that distance.

Hoffman had eariler decried sexism in a phone interview given while the matter was on appeal. “One of the ways they marginalize women is to say they are crazy,” she said. “To do something women haven’t done in thousands of years is crazy, and when you do it, you get a clinical label.” What’s even crazier, she said, is the reason Israel’s Religious Authority gave the Women of the Wall for not allowing them to pray there. “It wasn’t because it was disturbing to others, but because it’s disturbing to the Wall,” she noted. “We’re in the Twilight Zone.”

In a related story, the Vatican turned down Andrew Sullivan’s plea to pray at the Fag-Roasting Blowtorch section of Shrine of Lourdes. A papal council ruled Wednesday that gays shall be restricted to offering prayers performed by inserting their cocks into holes in the nearby Wall of Penis Guillotines. “However much I appreciate the opportunity to celebrate my castrasted, sexless earthly existence in the presence of God, simple human dignity demands that I be permitted to contemplate also the tormented, burning afterlife that awaits me.”

My Essence

May 9, 2003 | 8 Comments

Events of late have driven me into a deep and probing self-examination.

At long last I realize what I truly am, and what constitutes the very essence of this blog:

The Raving Atheist is an Engine of Love, powered by Truth.

The Nigerian Scam Meets the Raving Atheist (Part IV)

May 8, 2003 | 9 Comments

Recap: In previous correspondence (see e-mails 1-8, here, 9-11, here, and 12-21, here), a Nigerian con artist — motivated by the promise of a $275,000 payday — has answered a bewildering number of theological inquiries posed to him by the controller and Board of Directors of a multi-million dollar Christian publishing house, Raving Industries. In my last e-mail, I proposed that he forget about the money and become the permanent “Spiritual Advisor” to the Board, answering at least five religious questions a day. This week, we plan our life together.

Part 22: Smoooooth

I had really hoped to get rid of this guy. But Dr. Ntha calls my bluff and raises the ante.

Subj: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 4/30/2003 12:48:48 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, DennisonLeigh@aol.com, RevSwill@aol.com

Dear sister Eva,

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I received your email with joy because I have not done more than what I have been doing on daily basis am finding joy in discussing bible, because as more as you read the bible as closer are you to God, God said in Hosen chapter 4 verse 6 that “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge” also see Joshua chapter 1 verse 8, 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 15, proverb chapter 18 verse 15 and most importantly Mathew chapter 6 verse 33.

In fact, I feel most honoured today in the whole world as you write me to work as your spiritual adviser and I prayed that God will grant me more knowledge to handle this post to his glory, I accepted your offer is under statement as am filled with joy to work with you.

However, am working toward retirement upon conclusion of transferring this money into your nominated bank account, because I have acquired acres of hand for my intended pet project orphanage. you see St. Paul was a tent maunder, just to make sure that the gospel are moving forward read Philippians chapter 4 verse 11-12 and chapter 3 verse 7-8, also read Acts chapter 18 verse 1-3, 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 9, so I want to use my own share to build orphanage for the less privileged, also this transaction will go along way to actualize this dream, so that I can reach for the need help, so the pending business transaction cannot compromise our relationship rather it will straighten it as I will retire from Civil service and have full time for the gospel regard to the number of questions, I don’t think that the numbers matters, what matters is that am expanding the gate in heaven red Psalm, chapter 96 verse 2, John chapter 21 verse 15 so that, any question that you know that, it will bring you closer to God, it will be delighted to answer it, but you must act on them accordingly.

Finally let me know when you need the account to transfer the expense money, so that we can conclude within the stipulated time.

May He that started this good within us perfect it to his glory.

I await your urgent response continue to grow in the faith and remain bless.

Yours in Christ

Brother Ntha

Part 23: Testing Limits

He’s agreed to answer all of my questions and work at an orphanage. Will he also forgo his share of the $38 million and give me his land?

Subj: Re: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/1/2003 6:42:56 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Dear Brother Ntha,

We too are filled with joy and gratitude at your commitment to service with the Lord!

Director Paul Frank-Stein proposes that if you make a gift of your land to Raving Industries, the expense money can be righteously be used to fund the orphanage. Our status as a tax-free charitable corporation will maximize the potential future investment value of the funds and provide a lasting legacy to your piety.

The transfer will be made to Sparkasse Trogen by the close of business tomorrow. Please provide us with information regarding the location and size of your property so that we may best plan for our glorious future in service to the children of Jesus Christ.

Yours in the Lord,

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 24: Altruism

In a touching display of altruism, Dr. Ntha protects his friends’ share of the loot.

Subj: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/2/2003 6:08:05 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@zwallet.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Dear Sister Eva,

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I received your mail with the contents well noted and understood for which my thanks.

The land in questioned is a very big land that can be used for my complex or anything and I can give it out for any charity, development, but you know that it is personal property and not that of my colleagues, my colleague have different views on now to spend their own shares of the money (US$38.6M) so whatever they are after is to get this fund into your nominated back account in sparkers Trogen, and once the money are transferred into your account and shared as agreed, then we will proceeds to the other investments like the orphanage and the industries you mentioned in your last mail.

Please reply immediately.

I await your very urgent reply
Remain bless
Yours in Christ
BROTHER NTHA

Part 25: It’s the Children

I’m sure Dr. Ntha can convince his colleagues to volunteer in hospitals, food kitchens and orphanages. But I’d also like to know what will happen to all the children if they die.

Subj: Re: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/2/2003 11:54:47 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@zwallet.com
CC: Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries, DennisonLeigh

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Dear Brother Ntha,

God bless you in Christ’s name.

The sum of $282,350 (36,846,676 Naira) is currently on deposit in Sparkasse Trogen and available for immediate transfer. The account does not bear interest so we would prefer to complete the transfer to your Nigerian bank as soon as possible. I will have Mrs. Dennison-Leigh e-mail you the details early next week. She advises me that she can create an anonymous “password” account that you can access, and place under your own name, once she provides you with the account number and private code.

We were pleased to learn that your property will provide a spacious playground for God’s blessed children. We understand that your colleagues may disagree with you regarding with which sort of charitable endeavor is most appropriate. However, we are confident that given the large size of the fund, the preferences of all religions will be accommodated. Raving Industries operates hospitals, food kitchens and schools in a number of countries and will gladly lend its resources to whatever endeavors your partners chose.

Relating to the orphanage, Director Clobbeaux sent me the following faith-questions:

1) Do children who die and go to Heaven remain children there for eternity?
2) If the children grow up in Heaven, do they continue to age forever or stop once they become elderly (70-80 years old)?
3) If a child is blind, deaf, or missing a limb, will it have this same disability in Heaven?
4) Do women have children in Heaven?
5) If a fetus dies, does it remain forever a fetus in Heaven?

Thank you once again for becoming our Spiritual Advisor. Our cup runneth over!

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 26: You Call that Heaven?

What, no sex? God’s been in our bedrooms staring at us fucking for thousands of years, and all of a sudden we’ve got to stop?

Subj: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/4/2003 12:21:39 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com, DennisonLeigh@aol.com

Dear sister Eva,

Greetings to you all in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.

I received your mail with the contents well noted and understood for which my thanks.

However, I don’t understand how you or Mrs. Dennison-Leigh is intending to transfer the money. But she must understand we (CIVIL SERVANT) are not allowed to operate foreign account, so I don’t know how the said “Password” works because if the is send to Nigeria bank directly we have problem with our government as it will raise eyebrows which may effect the whole transaction negatively, so I advise you send the money though a corresponding bank so that the money will not be directly received by us for the security of all the people involved and that of both the expenses money and the money we are transferring into your account which we have done everything humanly possible to protect till this date, we will furnish with the account details of the corresponding bank when the money is ready to be transferred, also it will be best. If we can receive the expenses money during the week, to enable us perfect all the arrangement to transfer the [funds] into your nominated account as earlier schedule.

Regarding my Land, I welcome your ideas about developing the property but I want it to used for orphanage, we will discuss that in detail after the disbursement of us$38.6m. And I will like to work with you as partners, we can still acquire more lands for your company, if you want to establish have in Nigeria.

Regards to the questions of Director Chibbeaux, like I said before I will love to answer questions that will help you to grow in Christ (only), in all chapters if the bible where children are mentioned god chinch them so much and we believe they are without sin you can read the following Jonah chapter 4 verse 10, Mathew chapter 19 verse 13,mark chapter 10 verse 13-16; Luke chapter 18 verse 15-17. With the following portions of the bible most of questions are are answered according the bible during eternity, there is nothing like night and day so they cannot become elderly or younger read revelation chapter 20 verse 12 also read chapter 21 verse 4. Also woman cannot have children since there is no difference between man and woman in heaven, so there will be no sex, there is no disability in heaven since disability has to do with tears and pain but god will wipe away their tears as stated in revelation chapter 21 verse 4 meanwhile god is the Alpha and omega, his ways are above our understanding.

I await your very urgent response
Remain bless
Brother Ntha.

Part 27: Niggers

By this time I’d scoured a certain delightful blog, and discovered one of its owner’s true interests.

Subj: Re: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/5/2003 9:02:24 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: GreerJared
To: akpuntha@xyz.com
CC: DennisonLeigh, Raving Atheist, RavingIndustries

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Dear Brother Ntha,

The Virgin Honors us with Her Chaste Presence!

Mrs. Dennison-Leigh advises me that if you have already established an account in a Nigerian account for the transaction funds, she can wire the monies into it directly without the need for a password arrangement. Upon her return this Wednesday (7 April 2003) I shall have her e-mail you to advise you what information is required from your end. I understand that generally no more than an account number and bank routing number is required, although it depends upon which bank is used.

Director Clobbeaux has provided me with some additional questions for you. Specifically, he has some questions about what is meant by the “Mark of Cain.” We understand that in some religions, it is believed that God punished Cain for killing his brother Abel by turning him into a Negro. Dir. Clubbeaux therefore wishes to know whether you believe:

1) If the story of the Mark of Cain is true,
2) Why you believe God created different races,
3) Whether the Jewish people are a “chosen racec:title=
4) Whether you believe that God does favor certain races over others, and
5) Which races are God’s favorite ones.

Thank you for your counsel in these matters.

Your in Christ,

Eva Greer-Jared

Part 28: Setting Limits

Dr. Ntha announces a new policy regarding which questions he will address. But he answers everything nonetheless, even throwing in a gratutitous answer concerning omniscience.

Subj: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/5/2003 12:54:25 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: GreerJared@aol.com
CC: DennisonLeigh@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dear sister Eva,

I received your mail with the contracts well noted and understood for which my thanks.

However, I believe that the date mentioned by you is not right (7 April 2003)Wednesday, I hope you mean (7 May 2003) which is Wednesday. Anyway I will be waiting for Mrs. DENNISON-LEIGH e-mail by Wednesday, I can reply to her mail and I pray that we will get this issue resolved on Wednesday to enable us conclude within the stipulate time as we have set everything in motion waiting for the transfer of the expenses money and as soon as we received that we will perfect all the arrangement and get the found transferred to your nominated bank account.

Regards to the questions of director clobbeaux, I will henceforth reply to only the questions that will help you to grow spiritually. And to your question, according to the book of Genesis chapter 4 verse 15, the portion said and the Lord set a mark upon Cain, and not God turn him into a Negro, whatever the bible say, is nothing but truth in all shape and that of Cain is not exceptional, God created man but the due our different whether race came into existence, bible let us know that Jewish people are chosen race not because of their colour but because of their personal relationship with God, God does not favour any race or colour, God is God of Justice, who is not interested in our outer being but air inner being (our soul) so there is nothing like God favorite racec God’s favorite race is the righteous one no matter their colour but their obedience to his words makes them his favorite.

May the good Lord grant us strength to conclude this transaction, because HE IS THE BEGINNING AND END, HE KNOWS THE END OF EVERYTHING EVEN WHILE WE ARE STILL PLANNING FOR IT.

I await your very urgent response,

Remain bless,

Regards,

BROTHER NTHA.

Part 29: Polling

Ms. Dennison-Leigh needs to know the spiritual purity of the account-holders.

Subj: URGENT RESPONSE
Date: 5/7/2003 5:37:11 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: akpuntha@xyz.com
To: DennisonLeigh@aol.com CC: GreerJared@aol.com, RavingAtheist@aol.com, RavingIndustries@aol.com

Dear Mr. Ntha,

At the direction of Ms. Eva Greer-Jared, I request that you provide me with the following information to complete the transfer of the sum of $282,350:

1) The name of your Nigerian bank;
2) The routing number of the bank;
3) Your account number at the bank;
4) The names of all authorized signatories to the account;
5) The religions of all authorized signatories to the account.
6) The names of any atheists who are authorized signatories to the account.

The funds shall be transferred to you within three hours of receipt of this information, or, if received less than three hours before the close of business, three hours from the start of the next banking day. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Anne Dennison-Leigh

Part 30: Sooooo Close

He’s portrayed himself as a na

Story Time

May 7, 2003 | 5 Comments

Outlined on the blackboard was the day’s history lesson: The Life of The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The teacher away, mischievous little Bobby snatched a piece of chalk. “Niggers are criminals! Niggers are criminals! Niggers are criminals!” he scribbled.

Footsteps in the hallway. Bobby flew to his desk, slumping into his seat just as the door opened.

Miss Hathaway glared angrily at the blackboard, then turned to face the class. From the corner of her eye she glimpsed Bobby’s chalk-stained fingers. “Who did this?” she demanded.

Silence.

“Who did this?” More silence. Her gaze now fixed on Bobby.

From the back of the classroom, Peter could see Bobby squirm. “Teacher,” Peter cried, “I did it!”

A blast and an explosion of light. Peter’s brains splattered like oatmeal across the wall. Watching the smoke drift from its muzzle, Miss. Hathaway leaned the shotgun against her desk.

“Fucking atheist plagiarist,” she muttered.

Godidiot of the Week: Clubbeaux

May 7, 2003 | 52 Comments

“It really amazes me how devoid the most religious Atheists are of any positive human qualities such as tolerancec compassion, humor, intelligence and the like,” says this this week’s Godidiot, Clubbeaux, speaking of Yours Truly in his post The sad Atheist strikes again. Atheists like me, he asserts, are “unusually bitter, decayed stumps of people”; we’re “shallow” and “unreflective,” we’re “empty, hollow, miserably crabbed creatures” and “the first cousins of leaf-nosed bats with the brains of a garden implement.” Atheism is “the religion of scowling unthinking misery” and The Raving Atheist himself is an “emotionally deficient loon” who spreads “vicious gutterwash” and “sick hatred.” Indeed, he notes, one of my submissions to the Carnival of the Vanities at his site was “unbelievably cruel juvenilia” — a fake news story mocking the grief of Laci Peterson’s mother.

Clubbeaux, on the other hand, is Mr. Tolerance himself. He has engaged in “enjoyable, and courteous, and pleasant” discourse with members of every faith tradition — with Orthodox Catholic and Protestant Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and even atheists — some of it “over a beer or two.” Indeed, even one of his “really good friends” is an atheist, Andrea Harris of Spleenville, and like the rest she’d be “a riot to go grab a beer with.” And he even took pity on The Raving Atheist, trying, unsuccesfully, to spare me the embarrassment of having the world see my cruel words in print.

I explained yesterday my reasons for the Laci Peterson post. Since Clubbeaux believes that God grants people eternal life, why did he consider the post so cruel? Didn’t agree with the premise — that God specially chose Good Friday to return the bodies? Indeed, doesn’t the choice of that day prove the existence of the Christian God (and refute the existence of the Jewish, Muslim and all other Gods)?

And was it really the cruelty of the post that upset him? Did he really think there was a chance that Laci’s mother would see it, and, if so, why did he increase that chance by reprinting it? Interestingly enough, Clubbeaux himself composed a parody of one of Great White’s songs, “Rock me,” which deals with the club fire that killed over 95 people. Does he think they’ll be playing that at any of the memorials? Does he think that any of the relatives of the victims would laugh at it if they came across his blog? Of course not — but he knows that there’s not the slightest chance that they’ll see it, and that it’s perfectly legitimate satire.

And let’s examine Clubbeaux’s objection to the parody of mine that he did elect to post in the Carnival. My story criticized the decision of the Orthodox Churches in Toronto to continuing the sharing of spoons at communion — despite health department warnings against it, and despite the fact that the communicable disease SARS had already claimed 20 lives in that very city. He found my mockery of the notion that God would draw the disease out of the communion cup to be “lame,” but thought it was “funny” that the priests were engaging in such irresponsible behavior. However, as noted here, churchgoers are wearing surgical mask and gloves during communion in Hong Kong, and at least one church in Toronto has limited communion to bread only. And amazingly, just the day before Clubbeaux posted with approval this report criticizing lax security at local hospitals in the face of the epidemic. But when I questioned him about the Orthodox churches’ conduct in the comments section to the Carnival, his glib, dismissive response was “[b]y the way, just out of curiosity, did any of the parishioners catch SARS? I didn’t hear of any who did. Not that it’s relevant or anything.”

Despite Clubbeax’s alleged “enjoyable, courteous and pleasant” discourse with the Rainbow Coalition of religions, his tolerance actually only goes so far. He fully agrees with “Rev. Jerry Falwell’s correct characterization of Muhammad as a ‘terrorist.” He finds it hard “to believe that any God worthy of the name would dictate a book truly accessible only in classical Arabic, and set up a lot of Arab-based earthly requirements if His interest was all humanity in all places at all times” (as if there’s any mention of China in the Bible). He criticizes Muslims as “always quick to see Allah’s hand in events” (although I’m apparently crazy for denying that God returns bodies on Good Friday or draws diseases out of communion cups). And, he says “[o]f course Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moonies and Unitarian/Universalists have nothing whatsoever to do with Biblical Christianity; leaving a Christian church to become a Moonie isn’t converting, it’s apostasizing.”

I can’t really comment on precisely what Clubbeaux does believe; there’s precious little serious theological discussion anywhere in his blog. He never states his basis assumptions like I do. In fact, he’s said that “it’s impossible to argue that the God depicted in the Bible could ever be completely comprehended by us anyway” and he can’t rule even rule the existence of a giant invisible turtle.

However, elsewhere he asserts confidently, “sooner or later it comes down to the brute fact that you’re a Christian because you believe that’s the only way to salvation.” But for Clubbeaux, this belief is useless for deriving any moral principle; he’s ” sick to death of cardboard [religious] leaders claiming to speak for me on the economy, the war with Iraq, school vouchers and now gas mileage.” Believing that Jesus died for you (whatever that means) is enough, and otherwise anything goes. He certainly never explains how a belief in a man dying on a cross guides his positions on abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty or any other disputed moral issue.

But he nevertheless does moralize quite a lot. In an intolerant, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and immoral kind of way. Let’s start with the racism. As we all learned yesterday, the ugly, offensive words comprising the entire second paragraph of my post yesterday were not my own. They were Clubbeaux’s. They were “plagiarized” (as he so delusionally put it) verbatim from his February 24, 2003 post, Running on empty and his accompanying remarks in the comments section. They constituted his only reaction to the trial of a Klansman who murdered a sharecropper to in an attempt to lure the Rev. Martin Luther King down to Mississippi for his own assassination. In case you missed Clubbeaux’s words yesterday, here they are again:


Is it just me, or are genuine racial crimes — ones where the victim’s black, anyway — so rare in America now that we’re reduced to prosecuting thirty-year old cases to maintain the beloved liberal fiction of blacks suffering en masse at the hands of the white establishment? You know someone I’d consider a true black leader? Someone with the sand to stand up and point the finger at the black community and say hey y’all stop committing so many crimes, y’hear? Get jobs and keep your nose clean and stop running around with hos and get married and raise a family and don’t give The Man anything to point his finger at. Someone who can sell that instead of hey, all your trouble be The Man’s fault, ain’t nothin’ you doin’ wrong bro, lookit what they done to Dred Scott, that’s what it’s all about.

.
Yes, I suppose there’s a defensible sociological point in there somewhere, but can you imagine the pathology that would cause someone to believe that the only motive behind prosecuting a horrendous, Klan conspiracy-murder would be that of maintaining a “beloved liberal fiction?” Doesn’t common human decency and a sense of justice call out for redress of such a crime?

I was willing to excuse this post as an aberration, and isolated incident, but a rather suspicious pattern emerges when one considers the rest of Clubbeaux’s writings on race. Whenever he defends free speech rights, it’s always the speech of white racists; whenever he attacks racist speech, it’s always the speech of blacks. He was positively gleeful last year when the D.C. sniper turned to be black; although he’d been rooting for it to be middle-eastener for weeks, it was an unexpected bonanza when the shooter turned out to be “a black anti-American Muslim — three of the very groups most cherished by the media today” (blacks shouldn’t be cherished?) And he couldn’t manage more than a half-hearted yawn when Trent Lott proposed that things would have been better with a segregationist president, quickly changing the topic to Al Sharpton’s racism and Senator Byrd former Klan membership.

He does link to an amusing site depicting over-eager, presumably guilt-ridden whites trying too hard to impress their black friends with their liberality. But what sort of things does Clubbeaux discuss with his one black friend (he says that “nearly every white Southerner has at least one black friend”)? Perhaps The Seven Points of black victimology? The growing nostalgia for Apartheid? Or perhaps he leads them in prayers that God will reverse time and make the killer of Susan Smith’s children the mysterious black man she originally accused before herself confessing, much like Scott Peterson’s mother prayed for a body-switch to save her son?

Clubbeaux’s treatment of women continues the sad pattern. Writing on the Augusta National Golf Club, he writes that it “has a 100% gold-plated Constitutionally-certified all-American right to admit whomever it damn well pleases and exclude anyone it damn well pleases from its grounds.” But is that right? I, too, recognize the “100% gold-plated Constitutionally-certified all-American right” of the Boy Scouts to exclude atheists, but it’s clearly wrong, and there’s little point in blogging on something like that unless you’re going to express your moral position. But I guess Clubbeaux’s silence on irrational exclusionary club practices is a clear enough statement of his approval.

And gays? Although they can’t marry, and whether they can be legally imprisoned is still an open question in America, Clubbeaux only post about them is that they’re “more equal in Massachusetts.” Why? Because gays can get certain health benefits that unmarried straight couples can’t. Yes, believe it or not, gays aren’t required to get married like straight couples are. Why? Because it’s illegal.

“Vicious gutterwash” and “sick hatred” indeed.

Judge for Yourself

May 6, 2003 | 19 Comments

As I explained to my dear Catholic friend Emily of After Abortion in a comment to my Sunday post, “everything will become clear to you on Wednesday.”

Perhaps I’ll jump the gun a bit.

It all started when I decided to submit my third most offensive post ever — Holiday Miracle in Laci Peterson Case — to the Carnival of the Vanities. As my long-time readers know, I am a pro-life atheist and I have openly mocked those who disagree with me on the topic of abortion (see here). I proudly link to at least six Catholic sites that I know to be pro-life (Veritas, Benjamin Kepple, Eve Tushnet, Minute Particulars, Oblique House and After Abortion) and at least one Jewish one (Pro-Life Guy), despite their idiotic adherence to a belief in sky-god babytalk. As I have noted on several occasions, I believe that the religious left (and many atheists) trivialize the abortion issue by denying the personhood of the fetus, and that the religious right trivializes it by denying the finality of death (see here and the links in that post to my previous essays on the topic).

This being the case I was quite horrified by the statements of New Jersey NOW spokesperson Mavra Stark opposing a homicide prosecution for the death of eight month old unborn Connor Peterson. I corresponded with Emily about it over time, sending her various links (see her April 21 and May 5 posts). After Laci’s mother injected religion into the issue by suggesting that God returned the bodies on Good Friday, I decided I would try a little experiment with the Carnival submission mentioned above. If challenged by pro-choice leftists or atheists who objected to my cruelty, I would suggest my comments were far less offensive that those of Ms. Stark. If challenged by the religious right, I would ask what the “big deal” was since my post fully comported with their delusional concept of God’s mercy.

The scheme took a rather odd bouncec however, when Clubbeaux turned out to be the Carnival’s host. I knew nothing about him at the time I submitted the post, and was surprised at his rather vocifierous response to my question in his comments section regarding why he chose my second-listed back-up post instead of the Peterson parody. The ensuing controversy brought his site nearly 300 comments over a period of days, probably exceeding the number previously received over the course of its entire existence.

Having announced that Clubbeaux would be my next Goddiot, I scoured his site over the weekend and discovered that he was an intolerant, immoral, homophobic misogynistic racist (more on that when I do the Godidiot post). With the assistance of my friend Jody of Naked Writing, I hatched a little plot to set him up. To keep Clubbeaux’s interest, I wrote my second most offensive post ever — Mother Commits Suicide After Reading Atheist Blog — and my e-mail correspondence with Jody tells the rest of the story. The story of how my most offensive post — today’s “Some Thoughts about Race”

Some Thoughts About Race

May 6, 2003 | 91 Comments

The Raving Atheist rarely strays from matters theological, but after reading this story I felt compelled, for the first time, to stray off-topic to address an important issue. This Friday, a frail, wheelchair-bound 72 year old man will be sentenced for the 1966 slaying of a black sharecropper (a crime prosecutors say was staged to lure Martin Luther King Jr. to southern Mississippi to be assassinated).

Is it just me, or are genuine racial crimes — ones where the victim’s black, anyway — so rare in America now that we’re reduced to prosecuting thirty-year old cases to maintain the beloved liberal fiction of blacks suffering en masse at the hands of the white establishment? You know someone I’d consider a true black leader? Someone with the sand to stand up and point the finger at the black community and say hey y’all stop committing so many crimes, y’hear? Get jobs and keep your nose clean and stop running around with hos and get married and raise a family and don’t give The Man anything to point his finger at. Someone who can sell that instead of hey, all your trouble be The Man’s fault, ain’t nothin’ you doin’ wrong bro, lookit what they done to Dred Scott, that’s what it’s all about.

Bishop to Lieberman: Don’t Call Yourself A Catholic

May 5, 2003 | 2 Comments

Washington, D.C., May 5, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

A Roman Catholic Bishop has ordered Senator Joseph Lieberman to refrain from calling himself a Catholic, according to the Weekly Standard. The Connecticut Democrat, who rendered himself ineligible for communion over 20 years ago with his divorce and subsequent remarriage to a corporate consultant, has drawn the Church’s ire for his pro-choice position on abortion. In a strongly worded letter to Lieberman, Bishop Robert Carlson declared that the Senator could not include any references in his congressional biography or campaign documents that identified him as a member of the Catholic Church.

Reached after religious services with his wife Haddasah and his daughter Hana, Lieberman refused to comment on the controversy. “I am not going to participate in a debate that is intended to politicize anyone’s religious beliefs, especially on the Sabbath,” he said. The Senator, who met his current wife on Easter 1982, didc however, remark that he considered himself to be a lifelong member of the religion into which he was born.

Some commentators have defended the Bishop’s directive to Lieberman, arguing that Catholic officials have the right to prevent people from lying about their membership in the Church. Sources close to Lieberman, however, have noted that the Church lacks any authority whatsoever to issue orders to non-members. “The Bishop could not threaten to excommunicate Lieberman unless it considered him a member,” said one observer. “And if he is a member, then it is the Church that is promoting lying by asking him to falsely declare that he is not.”

Lieberman’s Senate colleague Tom Daschle condemned Bishop Carlson for his hypocrisy. “The Church has no business ordering Joe around while simultaneously promulgating doctrine contrary to his beliefs,” Daschle said. “To paraphrase Groucho Marx, it should have refused to be any church that would have him as a member.”

God Squad Review XLII

May 5, 2003 | 1 Comment

What’s a girl to do when she finds out that her fiance only went to church with her because she dragged him? That’s what “K” asks the Squad this week, feeling “deceived” upon learning that her boyfriend Kevin doesn’t attend services when she’s out of town and that he feels that going to services is “nice but not necessary.” The Squad responds by noting that not all couples share the same passion for religion — “[y]our fiance doesn’t feel as strongly about his faith as you do, but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become a flaming atheist.”

No, K, but it might. It might mean that he’s been a flaming atheist most of his life but loves you so much that he doesn’t really care what silly delusions you harbor inside that otherwise sensible head of yours. In fact, you might discover that he’s been accommodating not only you, but the remaining 95% of the world his entire life by celebrating Christmases and Easters and Passovers, by taking communion and wearing yarmulkes, and by submitting himself to every other variety of religious rite and ritual for family and co-workers and friends because that’s simply the way things are.

Yes, K, perhaps you have been “deceived.” But not by him. Not in any way that matters.

It’s . . . Alive!

May 4, 2003 | 8 Comments

The blog with the most amusingly perplexing premise I’ve yet encountered — The Secularist Critique — has come back from the dead after a completely unexplained (but not unwelcome) two month absence. Presumably he’s returned to extend his world record for the “most posts arguing that religion is better than non-religion without taking a position on an actual moral issue.” His latest post (Sunday, May 4; permalinks appear broken) criticizes atheists for attempting to formulate ethical systems, but, of course, doesn’t identify what the ideal religious system would be or why all of the existing ones disagree on every disputed moral question.

And Saturday, May 3 post is an all-time classic. We’ve all seen of the ontological, teleological and cosmological proofs raised against atheism — but have you ever heard of the typographical argument? Please leave a comment or two at that post; the guy suffers from a unique form of madness that I want to encourage. But do not — I repeat, DO NOT — attempt to engage the blog-dweller in a debate. If you value your sanity.

Peterson Mother Commits Suicide After Reading Atheist Blog

May 3, 2003 | 38 Comments

Modesto, California, May 3, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

The mother of pregnant murder victim Laci Peterson killed herself last night after discovering a post by an atheist blogger mocking her grief, according to the Modesto Times. In a suicide note found next to her body, Laci’s mother, Sharon Rocha, said she decided to take her life after reading a parody news story entitled “Holiday Miracle in Laci Peterson Case” from The Raving Atheist blog. The story derided her belief that God chose Good Friday to wash Laci’s legless, decapitated body ashore. Rocha indicated that she found the link to the post in the blog Clubbeaux, which, in turn, she had found through a Google search for “Christianity + Jesus + Love.”

“I have been stripped of my delusions,” the note said. “The universe is a cold, uncaring place in which life is short, meaningless and full of suffering.” Rocha said she became convinced of the hard truth of atheism after reading The Raving Atheist’s Basic Assumptions and various other posts in its archives. “I tried to find some counter-arguments at Clubbeaux, but all I found was mysticism and double-talk,” the note continued. “In fact, he confirmed that there was no more reason to believe in God than in a huge invisible Spirit Turtle at the center of the Milky Way.”

The Raving Atheist laughed at Mrs. Rocha’s plight. “Maybe God will raise her from the dead next Easter,” he said. “Ha, ha, ha, aren’t I funny.”

Atheist Organization Softens Image with New Mascot

May 2, 2003 | 19 Comments

New York, New York, May 2, 2003
Special to the Raving Atheist

In an effort to bolster its popular appeal, the nation’s leading atheist organization yesterday announced the adoption of an official mascot — a gentle, furry creature named Hagrid. “Hagrid is the new, friendlier face of atheism,” declared Ellen Johnson of American Atheists. “Like many atheists, he’s a bit misunderstood, but we’re certain that his sweet, soft and colorful appearance will melt the hearts of America.”

Hagrid.gif

Johnson also unveiled a new line of atheist merchandise featuring Hagrid. In addition to mugs bearing his image above an atheist slogan, the organization will sell a cuddly plush toy in his

tarantulamug.jpg

likeness targeted at children. “Just imagine a child’s surprise at awaking in his room at 3:00 a.m. to see Hagrid on the pillow next to his head,” said Johnson. “He’ll quickly understand that even

RS203tarantula.jpg

though there is no God in the universe, none of us are ever alone.”

Avenge Me

May 1, 2003 | 55 Comments

Atheist minions, I command thee to swarm to the comments section of Clubbeaux and heckle future Godidiot David Sims for this scurrilous attack on your fearless leader: The Sad Atheist Strikes Again.

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