The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2003 August

Strange Doctrines

August 29, 2003 | 5 Comments

An Atheist/lawyer/philosopher/musician is bashing the usual suspects over at his new blog, Strange Doctrines. So go read his takes on Kristof (one of my favorite Godidiots), the Ten Commandments monument controversy, intelligent design and Bob Hope (not the religious angle, but it’s a funny diss nonetheless). I especially enjoyed his commentary on a dim bright who demanded an exemption from her children’s school’s dress code to match that afforded to the religious students. After noting that the mother objected to the uniforms because they “hinder her children’s creativity… and freedom of expression, he writes:

Please. As an atheist schooled in private Catholic institutions from the age of nine, I hereby declare that my uniform (grey shorts/slacks-white shirtjack) never hindered my creativity or freedom of expression. (Much worse was the litany of seemingly irrelevant facts that I was encouraged to memorize and recite. Somehow, my folks never thought to object to those creative and expressive obstacles. Perhaps Wilkins will.)

And, hey, if Wilkins’ children ground creativity and expression on their ability to make a fashion statement, then their creative and expressive faculties need some development; uniforms would be good therapy for such an unhealthy dependence on chic.

In any case, I don’t think we enhance the rights of the nonreligious by aping formal manifestations of the more parochial mores of religions. Let religious folks object to meat on Fridays, full-face photographs, or khaki shorts, if they like. But such scruples set an example unworthy of our imitation.

Okay, maybe he’s a little too reasonable; The Raving Atheist wants every single stupid right the Jesus-loving mouth-breathers have, plus the right to force-feed them meat on Fridays and photograph them naked. But stuff his site with comments anyway, if only to set him straight. Once you tire of that, you can read his views on science and religion, and religion and government, here.

Appeals Court Reverses Ten Commandments Ruling after Reading Thoughtful Letters to the Editor

August 29, 2003 | 22 Comments

Atlanta, Georgia, August 29, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Reversing its prior ruling after reading some carefully-reasoned letters to the editor, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals today directed that a two-ton Ten Commandments monument be reinstalled in the rotunda of the Alabama State Judicial Building. The panel then unsuspended Justice Roy Moore and suspended itself.

The tribunal was heavily swayed by the missive of New York Post reader Bob Weir, who wrote: “[w]ith people being murdered, raped, robbed and cheated every day in this country, why in the world would a bunch of judges demand that the Ten Commandments be taken down from public . . . God help us if this madness continues.” Upon reading Weir’s letter, the bunch of judges said “oh my god he’s right it’s insanity we can’t have murder rape robbery and cheating every day let’s put the monument back before it’s too late.” The bunch further ordered that similar monuments be placed in all of the state’s public courthouses, post offices and libraries to stop crime everywhere forever.

Post reader/constitutional scholar Marty Perry also greatly influenced the panel’s decision to reverse itself. In a two-paragraph brief submitted to the court, he asked:

Do the liberal judges, atheists, et. al., have a problem reading the First Amendment? The First Amendment prohibits the government from supporting an establishment of a religion and forbids it from prohibiting the practice of religion.

Fine if you want to call that separation of church and state, but it is not separation of God and state.

“In our myopia, we simply misread the Constitution,” admitted the liberal-atheist bunch of once-mad judges. “As Marty suggests, it does not prohibit the state from declaring the One True God and enforcing his dictates upon the entire populace,” they said. “All it means is that the state must use public buildings, not churches, to forcibly inculcate its sectarian dogma.”

What made the court’s decision unanimous, however, was the final blow delivered by Professor Joseph Passaretti. “Eight Alabama Supreme Court justices say they are ‘bound by solemn oath to follow the law’. . . [d]id one, or more or all of them swear their solemn oath while placing their right hand on the Bible?” Passaretti asked rhetorically. Said former Chief Judge J.L. Edmonson: “That was the big ‘gotcha’ . . . Joe proved were a big bunch of hypocritical lying atheistic liberals who secretly touch the Bible we love every chance we get.”

G’day, Mary

August 27, 2003 | 24 Comments

The Aussie Bible is the New Testament “being told by the kind of bloke who stands around a barbecue in Bondi with his friends.” The action has been transplanted to Australia, and it’s written in the regional vernacular. For example, this is how Mary learns that she’s going to be the mother of God: “The angel said to her, ‘G’day Mary. You are a pretty special sheila. God has his eye on you.'”

The point, of course, is to help the local readers relate or identify with the story and its characters, more so than they would if the book were written in the usual, stuffy “thee-thou-thy” idiom. But I think the use of familiar language only serves to sharpen the contrast between the reader’s own experience and the fantastic events described. Crazy, demented lies are best put over in a muddled, formal jargon, delivered with a tone of solemnity and authority. Clarity is the weapon of the atheist (i.e., “you mean he knocked up this Jewish broad and nailed the kid to a stick to punish him for the bad shit everybody else did?”)

Furthermore, “you are pretty special sheila” is a pathetic excuse for what is presumably the Ultimate Pick Up Line. The Holy Spirit would more likely have ended up with a face full of Foster’s than a one-night stand. Plus, calling her “Sheila” could have led to a most unfortunate misinterpretation (“You go around with a Catholic name like “Mary,” but I know you’re a Jew — wanna fuck?”)

So boring is best. If you’re going to use Luke 1:28 to pick up chicks and save the world, The Bible Gateway offers sixteen slightly different ways to bag her with dignity:

New International Version

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

New American Standard Bible

And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

The Message

Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her:

Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you.

Amplified Bible

And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one endued with grace! The Lord is with you! Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women!

New Living Translation

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

King James Version

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

English Standard Version

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[1]

Contemporary English Version

The angel greeted Mary and said, “You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you.”

New King James Version

And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

21st Century King James Version

And the angel came in unto her and said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.”

American Standard Version

And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.

Worldwide English

The angel went into the house and said to her, `Be happy! God has blessed you more than other women. The Lord is with you!’

Young’s Literal Translation

And the messenger having come in unto her, said, `Hail, favoured one, the Lord [is] with thee; blessed [art] thou among women;’

Darby Translation

And the angel came in to her, and said, Hail, [thou] favoured one! the Lord [is] with thee: [blessed art *thou* amongst women].

Wycliffe New Testament

And the angel entered to her, and said, Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed be thou among women.

New International Version

The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.

Pixie Defaces Currency to Protest Courthouse Monument Ruling

August 26, 2003 | 38 Comments

Washington, D.C., August 26, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

An inch-tall pixie has erased a reference to the ceremonial deity from a dollar bill to protest the removal of a two-ton Ten Commandments monument from an Alabama courthouse, the Treasury Department announced yesterday. Wielding a pencil nearly three times his height, the tiny, man-like creature erased the word “God” from the motto “In God We Trust” from an oversized, foot-long single. The pencil was inscribed with the word “COURTS” to symbolize how the godless judicial system is brutally raping this country’s religious citizens.

pixieman.gif

God and all of America wept bitterly at the sprite’s poignant and symbolic conduct. “Now they finally realize where removing Justice Moore’s display might lead,” said the diminutive Mr. Wigglesworth. “If state judges are no longer free to secretly whisk highly sectarian, Judeo-Christian sculptures into courthouse rotundas at midnight, our right to be reminded of a more generic god during mercantile transactions is in jeopardy as well.”

Wigglesworth noted that deleting God from the currency “is just the top of the slippery slope that the lawless federal court is pushing us down.” He said that removing the word “God” from stamps, tax forms and highway speed limit signs could come next, if Congress ever enacted laws putting it on those things. “A citizen’s right be confronted with God-talk in every encounter with his government is being slowly but surely eroded,” he said.

God Squad Review LIV (Drugs, Cloning, Venn Diagrams)

August 25, 2003 | 30 Comments

Squad reader “J” wants to know God’s position on taking drugs. The Squad’s answer is recycled from a previous column on euthanasia, in which they opposed on the ground a person’s body belongs solely to God. As I pointed out then, this property law theory fails because one isn’t supposed to do anything to someone else’s property

Stoned

August 21, 2003 | 48 Comments

In rejecting Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal of an order directing him to remove his two-and-a-half-ton ten commandments stone monument from the rotunda of the Alabama State Judicial Building, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held:

The rule of law does require that every person obey judicial orders when all available means of appealing them have been exhausted. The chief justice of a state supreme court, of all people, should be expected to abide by that principle. We do expect that if he is unable to have the district court’s order overturned through the usual appellate processes, when the time comes Chief Justice Moore will obey that order.

Looks like they expected wrong. Although the United States Supreme Court rejected Moore’s appeal yesterday, the Godidiot Judge vowed has refused to remove the display despite the passage of the midnight deadline.

Two aspects of this case are extraordinary. The first is the utter frivolity of the judge’s position. Although courts have permitted the ten commandments to be displayed in public buildings alongside other religious and secular symbols as part of a historical or educational display, Judge Moore denied requests to include a tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a symbol of atheism. He insisted instead on the erection of a stand-alone Judeo-Christian shrine. As the Eleventh Circuit noted, nothing could constitute a more plainly unconstitutional state endorsement of religion:

Every government building could be topped with a cross, or a menorah, or a statue of Buddha, depending upon the views of the officials with authority over the premises. A cr

The Anti-Catholic League

August 20, 2003 | 8 Comments

The Catholic League bashed the critics of the “Bruce Almighty” for not liking the god-themed movie enough. Now, the League is after the critics of “The Magdalene Sisters” — a film based upon the brutal and systematic abuse of wayward girls in Catholic-run laundries in Ireland in the second half of the 20th century — for liking it too much. League president William Donohue draws some rather dubious parallels:

Imagine an anti-Semitic director who admits he packed into one movie every anti-Semitic theme he could draw on and then gets an anti-Semitic duo to distribute it. Next imagine film critics taking the anti-Semitic propaganda at face value and then offering anti-Semitic remarks in their reviews. Fat chance. For example, there will never be a movie about Jewish slumlords in Harlem or Jewish managers of black entertainers in the 20th century. If there were, and if it were to present a wholly one-sided portrait of the worst excesses of how some Jews exploited blacks, the ADL would be up in arms. And rightly so. But luckily for Jews, this is not likely to happen. Catholics are not so lucky—they have to endure Catholic-bashing directors like Peter Mullan shopping his anti-Catholic script to anti-Catholic distributors like Harvey and Bob Weinstein, only to have it reviewed by anti-Catholic critics.

Donohue might have a point if someone made a film called “The Gambino Brothers” that portrayed organized crime as a Catholic enterprise due to the religion of the family bosses. But in the Magdalene Sisters, the laundries are operated for the benefit of the Church and managed by nuns and priests. Is Donohue suggesting that synagogues purchased Harlem properties and installed rabbis as superintendents? Or that a similar, institutionalized religious arrangement controls the music industry? And if he’s so concerned about group stereotyping, why was he so angry with the critics who panned Mel Gibson’s upcoming film “The Passion” for portraying Jews as Christ-killers?

Donohue also misfires in attacking the film’s distributor, Miramax, which is run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. He asserts that “[i]f someone were to do a movie called ‘The Weinstein Brothers,’ one that focused on their legacy of anti-Catholicism, and sold it as being representative of how Hollywood views Catholics, it would be dishonest.” But all that Miramax has done is to release a movie which accurately depicts certain abuses by the Church over a fifty-year period. If legitimate criticism of the Church is anti-Catholicism, so be it; but the fault then lies with Catholicism, not the “anti-s.”

The Faith Card

August 19, 2003 | 3 Comments

New York’s Conservative Party is playing the faith card against Senator Charles Schumer, accusing him of harboring an “anti-Catholic bias” against federal judicial nominees. It’s a pathetic ploy — Schumer doesn’t care about a nominee’s belief in the Trinity or the Resurrection. What the critics actually want is a special preference for nominees who hold a particular set of moral views because they are Catholic. Although Schumer would oppose any candidate who was anti-abortion or anti-gay, he’s expected to suspend his agenda for those candidates, and only those candidates, who take those positions out of adherence to Church teachings.

The presumption should be reversed. Nominees who ground their ethical views in stupid, irrational, superstitious and dogmatic religious reasoning should be subject to special scrutiny. Even if their general position on an issue might coincide with one reached through sane, secular reasoning, there’s always a risk that their superstitious mindset might infect their judgment in a particular case. Supreme Court Justice Scalia rightly, in my view, supports the death penalty, but on the ground that “death is no big deal” and God sorts out all the bodies in the end. An innocent defendant facing lethal injection could hardly have confidence in the fairness of the process supervised by such a madman.

A recent letter to the editor asserted that “Schumer may use coded language, but it still comes down to a religious bias . . . [f]or him to claim he has no bias against Catholics but has a problem with their moral values is like saying he has no problems with blacks, just their pigmentation.” I don’t know if it’s a Catholic doctrine that one should be as indifferent to a person’s moral values as to his as his skin color, but if so, it’s just additional reason for anti-Catholic bias. And I’m sure that many people, including Catholics, are anti-Christian Scientist when it comes to the issue of treating dying children with prayer rather than medicine. But no one would argue that a Christian Scientist is entitled to a free pass to the judiciary because legalized infanticide is a tenet of his faith. That he holds such a view at all is ground for immediate disqualification; and his claim that he is commanded to hold it by a resurrected dead man would is best left to the consideration of a psychiatrist, rather than a panel of Senators.

Khaos

August 18, 2003 | 25 Comments

After Gigli, is there anything that can still embarrass a Hollywood executive these days? Apparently so:


KABBALAH CHAOS OVER MOVIE

IS Madonna’s hubby, Guy Ritchie, risking his reputation as a filmmaker because of the couple’s kooky obsession with kabbalah?

At one point, Sony was interested in producing Ritchie’s new project, “Revolver,” a crime caper set in Las Vegas, we’re told. But when studio execs saw the script, they balked because it was loaded with kabbalah references.

Ritchie and Madonna, along with pals like Demi Moore and Sandra Bernhard, have become increasingly devoted to the bastardized form of Jewish mysticism to the point where Madonna demands “kabbalah water” in all her hotel rooms.

“It made Sony very uncomfortable,” one Hollywood suit told PAGE SIX. “Kabbalah is seen as a kind of cult in some circles” – it’s been harshly criticized by famed cult investigator Rick Ross – “and no one wanted to be associated with it.

“Guy’s agents told him to rewrite ‘Revolver’ [without the kabbalah plugs] and maybe it would sell. He resisted at first, but when Sony passed and said it would only do the movie with a rewrite he said OK.”

Ritchie ended up doing a rewrite to everyone’s satisfaction. But only a few days after it was submitted he called his agents at William Morris and fired them. He also let it be known the rewrite would be scrapped.

“Guy apparently felt he had to be true to his kabbalah beliefs and not stick with the rewrite,” our spy says. “He was apologetic but felt he had to go to CAA – where Madonna’s agent [Bryan Lourd] was and where they would support his kabbalah vision for the movie.”

Madonna is, of course, trivializing “true” Kabbalah with her demands for special water. Real religions don’t build superstitions around water and wine and other liquids. Authentic Kabbalah is much more sophisticated. It’s downright scientific, in fact. Just read this excerpt from lesson one of The Wisdom of Kabballah:

Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag explains that the “Light emanating from the Creator” designates the desire to create beings and to please them. This phase is referred to as the Root Phase or Phase 0. In Hebrew, it is called Behina Shoresh or Keter, as shown in Figure 1.

Afterwards this Light creates a Vessel whose desire to receive pleasure perfectly matches it. The Light fills up the Vessel and pleases it. This is Phase 1, Behina Alef or Hochma.

God Squad Review LIV (Annulment)

August 18, 2003 | 1 Comment

The Squad offers false hope to a divorced Catholic woman who has remarried. “K” from Wisconsin can’t believe that God won’t forgive her, because she’s seen that even murderers get blessed before they die. But she’s been told by three priests that she can’t receive absolution because she’s considered an adulteress. She asks:

Does this mean that no matter how much I pray, I will not be forgiven? Am I going to hell, no matter what?

The Squad responds that “God does indeed forgive” and tell K that she has recourse in the form of an annulment. But the process they describe sounds worse than Hell itself:

When a Catholic couple realizes there’s something profoundly broken in their marriage, they should seek counseling. If, in the course of counseling, they discover that conditions exist — such as alcoholism, drug abuse, a significant behavioral disorder or misrepresentation of facts that, had they been known, would have prevented the marriage from being consecrated — the couple can seek an annulment.

In that process, the spouses are asked to review their childhood, courtship and marriage. If it’s clear to the priest that one of those conditions existed, the person must appear before a canonical tribunal.

The tribunal is presided over by a church judge and staffed by a psychologist, stenographer and “the defender of the bond,” a church official charged with the responsibility to make sure everything is done properly.

Also present is an advocate, who speaks on behalf of the person filing for the annulment.

After testimony, an annulment is either granted or denied. If granted, the other spouse can contest it, but eventually a final decision is announced.

Delightful. You get to air your dirty laundry, from childhood — before a panel of unmarried celebate men — so they can judge just how big a mistake your first marriage was. And your ex is invited to join in on the fun, with veto power no less.

And for K, most likely all for nothing. She never said she was tricked into marriage through the groom’s concealment of alcoholism, drug abuse or psychosis. She just said she left him for another man. Unless the annulment process is a farce in which the tribunal always manages to “find” some pre-existing flaw with the marriage, she’s going to meet a lot of unblessed murderers when she dies.

Hope-Less

August 17, 2003 | 21 Comments

What’s wrong with the following cartoon?

IntroHope.gif

That’s right — it was drawn by an atheist. As demonstrated below, all right-thinking, god-fearing cartoonists know that Bob is going to be entertaining troops for all of eternity:

Hope1.gif

Hope9.gif

Hope6.gif

Hope7.gif

Hope8.jpg

Hope3.gif

Hope2.gif

Hope4.jpg

Hope4.gif

hope5.gif

There does seem to be a minor theological dispute over whether Bob announces that he’s going to entertain the troops, or is simply told that they’re waiting for him. I’m also a little confused over who gets into the audience: is it 1) just those soldiers who died in action or 2) all soldiers, even those who left the service and later died of natural causes? And why do they need comedians at all — who needs a morale boost in Heaven?

Come to think of it, why does Heaven need an army? Perhaps to kill cartoonists who make jokes like this:

Bob.gif

If that’s Heaven, I’d rather be in Uday-Qusay-Yes-Way.

Let There Be Light

August 15, 2003 | 28 Comments

We have become so dependent on electricity for even the simplest everyday task. For most of us, it would have been an unbearable burden to try to live for more than a few days without power.

But it didn’t happen. At least not in the physical sense. But something like it happened — in fact, something far worse happened — in the spiritual sense at the very dawn of history when our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and caused a spiritual power outage for the entire human race. They cut themselves and all their descendant off from God, the source of all spiritual power.

From Jesus: Remedy For Universal Spiritual Power Outage.

Very well: the author was talking about the anticipated Y2k problems, not last night. But the point is still relevant: yesterday a bunch of people I don’t know disobeyed some rules I don’t understand, and as result I got punished — by having to sleep on my office floor all night and not getting home until 10 a.m. this morning. And then what? I look at my site and see I’ve gotten crap from readers about not doing enough commentary on the Dr. Laura piece, even though used my very last seconds of battery power to write it, and cut it sort just to make sure I’d have enough time to post it before my computer went dead and my city was plunged into darkness.

* * *

No doubt we’ll be hearing stories of all sorts of miracles from the blackout of 2003. Of the fifty million people affected, x-percent were in elevators, subways or trains at the time the power went down, and y-percent of that x-percent are going to believe that their escape from those conveyances was too narrow to have come about without divine intervention. And somewhere there’s a church whose lights went on while the congregation was playing, or a synagogue candle that burned 15 minutes longer than might have been expected . . .

Another Jew for Jesus

August 14, 2003 | 27 Comments

Eve Tushnet, move aside. From this week’s The Forward:

Dr. Laura Loses Her Religion

Radio Host Drops Judaism, ‘Envies’ Christian Friends

With 12 million Americans tuning in daily, controversial syndicated radio-show host Laura Schlessinger — known to all as “Dr. Laura” — is arguably the best-known Orthodox Jew in the United States.

Rather, she was.

In a shocking if little-noticed revelation, Schlessinger — who very publicly converted to Judaism five years ago — opened “The Dr. Laura Schlessinger Program” on August 5 with the confession that she will no longer practice Judaism. Although Schlessinger said she still “considers” herself Jewish, “My identifying with this entity and my fulfilling the rituals, etc., of the entity — that has ended.”

And with that, Orthodox Judaism lost its loudest mouthpiece and its most prominent “rabbi,” as it were, with the largest American pulpit — with the exception of, perhaps, presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman.

Syndicated nationally since 1994, Schlessinger has won over listeners with her hard-edged advice and razor-sharp tongue. Yet her brash style, not to mention her espousal of a strict “moral health” code — including controversial condemnations of homosexuality as “a biological error” — put her at odds with wide swaths of the Jewish community. Many found her moralist, black-and-white, you’re-with-me-or- against-me stance to be more representative of Evangelical Christians than of Jews, who were often among her most outspoken critics.

* * *

“I think Judaism is better off not being saddled and directly associated with Dr. Laura’s means,” he said, adding, “although she is still a Jew.”

* * *

Schlessinger began her August 5 program by noting that, prior to each broadcast, she spends an hour reading faxes from fans and listeners. “By and large the faxes from Christians have been very loving, very supportive,” she said. “From my own religion, I have either gotten nothing, which is 99% of it, or two of the nastiest letters I have gotten in a long time. I guess that’s my point — I don’t get much back. Not much warmth coming back.”

Schlessinger even hinted at a possible turn to Christianity — a move that, radio insiders say, would elevate her career far beyond the 300 stations that currently syndicate her show. “I have envied all my Christian friends who really, universally, deeply feel loved by God,” she said. “They use the name Jesus when they refer to God… that was a mystery, being connected to God.”

* * *

Of her conversion to Judaism, Schlessinger said, “I felt that I was putting out a tremendous amount toward that mission, that end, and not feeling return, not feeling connected, not feeling that inspired. Trust me, I’ve talked to rabbis, I’ve read, I’ve prayed, I’ve agonized and I came to this place anyway — which is not exactly back to the beginning, but more in that direction than not.”

* * *

“I thought she was a tough little lady — I didn’t think she’d chicken out so easily,” said Rabbi Isaac Levy, the chairman of Jews for Morality, who has staunchly supported Schlessinger’s conservative agenda. “She’s gotten a couple of kicks in the chin and she’s succumbed to it.”

[Link courtesy of Delilah of Liminal Liberal]

Intervention Requested

August 13, 2003 | 24 Comments

Sister Mary Karen is a brand new blog by Karen, a Catholic-turned-Atheist. Last year, at 24, she admitted to herself for the first time that she did not believe in the Trinity and was not a Christian. However, her “altar” ego, Sister Mary Karen, calls her a dirty slut and is trying to shame her back into Papism.

Karen has registered as a Democrat but that may not be enough to keep her in our clutches. As we learned from Theist Gal, Catholic-Atheist conversions are unstable and the rate of recidivism is high. One can be mocking “illiterate Christians,” calling God a “frightened kid’s teddy bear” and posting on atheist message boards one day, and be back kneeling at Mass the next.

All it takes is the terrorist demolition of a couple of skyscrapers and some friendly firemen to scare you back into the fold. So let’s dig our claws into her as deeply as we can while her mind is still functioning godlessly. Please write her at sistermary_karen@yahoo.com and promise to read her blog every day. And remind her that something like this or this awaits her if there’s any backsliding.

Authority (Part 2)

August 12, 2003 | 16 Comments

In an earlier post I criticized Jane Galt for employing an appeal to authority so common in religious debates. In particular, Jane had chided secularists for baiting the religious regarding their views on homosexuality and other social issues by “dragging verses out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy and waving them at Christians or Orthodox jews” She cautioned that anyone foolish enough to do so risked having his head handed to him by some wise Talmudic scholar. To support this claim, she linked to John Braue’s responses to some rude questions originally posed to Dr. Laura. I noted that Jane never discussed the actual language or merits of the responses, relying instead on the supposed brilliance the Holy Men.

Jeff Medcalf of Caerdroia disagreed in my comments section. His criticism (in italics), with my responses interspersed, follow below:

Your argument has a few holes in it. First, appeals to authority are perfectly accepted — even openly trumpeted — in political debate.

No, not the sort of appeal to authority that I was addressing. I wasn’t talking about merely borrowing from the ideas and works of another — of course everybody gets their arguments from somewhere. I was referring to the appeal to authority that involves nothing more than invoking the name of some scholar and suggesting that he could win any debate on the topic. I could save quite a bit of time by doing that right now — I could simply inform Jeff that he wouldn’t have dared to leave such a comment at DailyPundit because Bill Quick would whup his ass.

Those sort of arguments really aren’t “openly trumpeted” outside of the topic of religion. Jane Galt yesterday blogged about the pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to curtail the reimportation of prescription drugs. Not one of the twenty-one commenters thought it fruitful to point out to Jane that she’d never beat the President of Pfizer in a debate over the policy. And anyone who persistently left comments of that nature would be IP banned.

Second, you assume the falsehood of the Law of Moses with no discussion of its merits. “Jane” assumes the truth of the Law of Moses with a reference to authorities which (presumably) discuss the Law in detail. I’m not sure you’re ahead, here, once the sources are included by reference. You’d have to argue that the sources are wrong on some basis other than the fact that the Law’s axioms don’t make sense to you.

There was no need to debate the “merits” of the Law of Moses because their utter worthlessness was never in dispute. Jane did not “assume the truth” the truth of those laws

Morally Filthy

August 11, 2003 | 11 Comments

A member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial board of the New York Daily News and an assistant professor at Hunter College, Karen Hunter offers a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of the impending fall of Western civilization:

Moral decay is what we should recall

I’ve always been proud to be a citizen of the United States. And I’ve always thought of myself as pretty tolerant about most things that go on in this country.

But lately it seems to me the wheels are starting to come off. Recent events have driven me to the conclusion America is becoming morally filthy and socially damaged.

Gene Robinson was confirmed this week as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. He is an openly gay man who has a partner he has lived with for 13 years.

Whether you agree with his lifestyle or not is irrelevant. He has a right to live the way he chooses.

But does he have a right to stand on a pulpit and preach the word of God, which clearly states that his lifestyle is “abomination”? There are those who will say the essence of Christ is forgiveness. And while that’s true, we should hold our spiritual leaders to a higher standard, don’t you think?

In California, an abomination of the political variety is taking place. Gov. Gray Davis, who was reelected just last year, is going through a recall election.

* * *

In other news, we have a star athlete, Kobe Bryant, who is all over the front pages for an alleged sexual assault. Is anyone really surprised? We’ve placed our athletes on such a pedestal that many seem to feel they can get away with murder.

* * *

We boast about this being the greatest democracy in the world. And it is. But from the recall of a governor who was duly elected to the selection of a bishop who is gay to athletes who think the rules don’t apply to them, we have taken the notion of democratic freedom to an extreme.

* * *

John F. Kennedy once said: “I look forward to a great future for America — a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.”

What would Kennedy see if he looked today?

A gay man who elects to become a Bishop when there are still openings for circus geeks is, indeed, acting abominably. But if Hunter is implying that gays, rather than Bishops, are “morally filthy,” she’s much more tolerant than she should be. If God’s word says that homosexuality is an “abomination,” then Bishop Robinson certainly doesn’t have a “right to live the way he chooses.” The very sentence in which the word “abomination” appears in the Bible declares that he doesn’t have a right to live at all — he must “surely be put to death.” So Hunter shouldn’t preoccupy herself with the fact that Robinson is preaching (which apparently didn’t bother her when he was doing it for many year as mere priest); she should be lobbying for his execution. She doesn’t have to hold him to a “higher standard” — she just has to apply the very standards she purports to believe in.

But she’s right about how democratic freedom is being taken to an extreme. A democratically-conducted recall election borders on the undemocratic — as does just letting accused athletes go free by doggedly prosecuting them (as the Eagle County prosecutor’s office is doing with Kobe Bryant). Most extreme of all, however, was the abuse of democratic freedom involved in the selection of Bishop Robinson — the American citizenry recklessly voted to permit a private Episcopal committee to make the choice.

Finally, I share Ms. Hunter’s concern with how upset President Kennedy would be if he used his X-ray vision to see through his coffin lid. A man with the sort of “moral restraint” that compelled him to fuck a 19 year old intern would be appalled at a 13 year long gay relationship. In fact, the New York Post depicted JFK’s horror just the other day:

gaymarriage.jpg

God Squad Review LIII (Shopping for Religion)

August 11, 2003 | 17 Comments

“Anonymous” has to come to the Squad shopping for a religion. She doesn’t like Catholicism because the nuns smacked her hands with a ruler when she was a kid and taught her anti-Semitism. She enjoyed Judaism; she was married to a Jewish man for 17 years and “dearly loved the sense of family and connectivity and the tolerance displayed.” However, while she believes in a “higher power,” she “intellectually questions” many of the traditional religious teachings. And although her “sense of spirituality” is high now because she has a son in the service and a number of her relatives have been stricken with cancer, she’s afraid that any church she joins may promote a theology that conflicts with her own. So she’s thinking of building a private shrine in her home office where she can meditate and pray by herself.

Should she go it alone? The Squad says:

Don’t worry. Somewhere there’s a church for you.

There’s a priest you can relate to and nuns who use rulers only for measuring.

Your pains are deep and real and you need both God and a religious community to help you bear them.

The best way to ease yourself back into the waters of life that flow through organized religion is to check out the people God has sent to lead the churches in your area.

* * *

The reason to join is that the spiritual journey you’re on is impossible to complete alone.

I suppose it was too much to expect two men who earn their living from organized religion to answer differently. Gotta fill the seats somehow. But Anonymous clearly stated that she hates Catholicism and likes Judaism. So why does Father Tom get to claim her soul? Did Rabbi Gellman lose the coin toss?

Following the Squad’s advice will cause poor Anonymous even more intellectual pain. God has sent people to all the churches in her area, but they’re all saying different things. And the Squad has offered her no guidance on how to choose between them. Apparently it doesn’t matter, at least not in the Squad’s intellectually relativistic universe.

Presumably Anonymous will select the church that she agrees with. But if that’s the case, she’s probably better off praying in the corner of her office. The point of every religion is to declare what is true, not to conform to the beliefs of its followers.

Tears from Heaven

August 10, 2003 | 5 Comments

Practical solutions from a practical man, to a problem that has already caused 40 deaths:

Pope Urges Prayers for Rain in Europe

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy – Pope John Paul II urged people to pray for rain Sunday to ease Europe’s seemingly relentless heat wave and expressed worry about the wildfires devouring much of the continent’s woodlands.

“Vast fires have developed in these days in several nations in Europe, with particular intensity in Portugal, sparking deaths and enormous danger to the environment,” the pope told a crowd of pilgrims and tourists in the courtyard of his summer residence in the hills outside of Rome.

“It is a worrisome emergency which, fed by persistent drought as well as human responsibility, puts at risk the environmental heritage, a precious good for entire humanity,” the pope said.

“I invite all to join in my prayers for the victims of this calamity, and I exhort all to raise to the Lord fervent entreaties so that he may grant the relief of rain to the thirsty earth,” John Paul said.

Please note that you are merely invited to pray for the victims, but positively exhorted to beg for rain. The Pope is a hard-headed utilitarian. He knows that nothing can be done for the poor dead victims, so prayers for them are not essential. However, future deaths can be averted if what has been causing them — fire — is extinguished. Being a scientist, the Pope understands that water, in this case in the form of large quantities of rain, will serve that end.

[Link via The Talking Dog]

Free World

August 8, 2003 | 19 Comments

Godidiot Maggie Gallagher rambles about “The Future of Gay Marriage,” opining that “[f]or those who adhere to traditional Christian (or Jewish) sexual teachings, the future may look bleak.” In particular, she’s concerned that, at least in Ireland and Holland, hate speech codes are being used against Catholics just for “being Catholic,” i.e., expressing disapproval of homosexuality. She fears that this intolerance may spread to America, insofar as “[c]ommitment to religious freedom among powerful elites seems suddenly uncertain.” Noting that “[a] Vatican statement simply repeating a 2,000-year-old ethical tradition about marriage and sex has prompted a flurry of threats, overt and implicit, around what we used to call the Free World,” she asks:

Will the soft power of the state be aimed directly at oppressing faith communities who hold fast to traditional sexual morality? Will radio licenses be yanked, charitable tax deductions pulled, individuals or ministers who try to share traditional Christian (and Jewish) sexual values be threatened with prosecution here?

Up until two months ago, what we used to call the free world used to imprison gays just for being gay. But there’s never, ever been a prosecution of a Catholic for being Catholic, even when being Catholic entailed advocating discrimination against and imprisonment of gays. The Klan and the Nazis don’t get prosecuted here either, unless their hate speech turns to action against their preferred victims.

So I don’t know exactly what threat Gallagher sees to her precious “religious freedom.” She can pray anytime she wants and spew, as she frequently does, her religious hate speech. True, the government may no longer be cheering her on, financing her church, or depriving others of their freedom to suit her whims — but, after all, it is the free world.

Insane Judge Rules That Boy Scouts Are A “Religious Organization”

August 7, 2003 | 1 Comment

San Diego, California, August 7, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

An insane federal judge has declared that the Boy Scouts are a “religious organization” — just because the Scouts describe religious belief and practice as fundamental to the services they provide, require all members to profess a belief in God, compel all scouts to vow to do their duty to God, and expel members who do not believe in God.

Wild-eyed U.S. District Court Judge Napoleon issued the deranged decision Thursday, holding that San Diego’s $1-a-year lease of Balboa Park to the Scouts violated the Constitutional separation of church and state.

Television commentator Bill O’Reilly called for the impeachment of the obviously mad jurist. “This is another insane ruling that will eventually be overturned and the Boy Scouts of America are certainly not a religious group,” said an irate O’Reilly. “The Boy Scouts oath only says ‘To do my duty to God and my country and to obey Scout law.'”

O’Reilly also charged that “[t]he real story here is that the judge and the ACLU have teamed up to punish the Boy Scouts for winning the Supreme Court case that allows them to ban declared atheists and gays from membership.” In that case, the Boy Scouts argued that it was private organization entitled to impose any set or moral or religious beliefs it chose upon its members. And at oral argument in another lawsuit seeking to bar atheists from the group, the Scouts’ legal counsel held up the Boy Scout manual and noted that “[t]here’s God on the front cover . . . [t]here’s God on the back cover,” and said that allowing nonbelievers in would be like asking the NAACP to provide services to the Ku Klux Klan.

Top legal experts concurred with O’Reilly that the crazy California judge labeled the Boy Scouts a “religious organization” simply to penalize it for being a religious organization and for winning litigation allowing it to exercise all the rights of a religious organization. Jim Sparkman of ChronWatch called Judge Napoleon’s irrational decision part of a “campaign against religion and the Boy Scouts.” Sparkman added that if a ducks in a Balboa Park walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it should not be called a duck by insane federal judges.

Insane Judge Rules That Boy Scouts Are A “Religious Organization”

August 7, 2003 | 12 Comments

San Diego, California, August 7, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

An insane federal judge has declared that the Boy Scouts are a “religious organization” — just because the Scouts describe religious belief and practice as fundamental to the services they provide, require all members to profess a belief in God, compel all scouts to vow to do their duty to God, and expel members who do not believe in God.

Wild-eyed U.S. District Court Judge Napoleon issued the deranged decision Thursday, holding that San Diego’s $1-a-year lease of Balboa Park to the Scouts violated the Constitutional separation of church and state.

Television commentator Bill O’Reilly called for the impeachment of the obviously mad jurist. “This is another insane ruling that will eventually be overturned and the Boy Scouts of America are certainly not a religious group,” said an irate O’Reilly. “The Boy Scouts oath only says ‘To do my duty to God and my country and to obey Scout law.'”

O’Reilly also charged that “[t]he real story here is that the judge and the ACLU have teamed up to punish the Boy Scouts for winning the Supreme Court case that allows them to ban declared atheists and gays from membership.” In that case, the Boy Scouts argued that it was private organization entitled to impose any set or moral or religious beliefs it chose upon its members. And at oral argument in another lawsuit seeking to bar atheists from the group, the Scouts’ legal counsel held up the Boy Scout manual and noted that “[t]here’s God on the front cover . . . [t]here’s God on the back cover,” and said that allowing nonbelievers in would be like asking the NAACP to provide services to the Ku Klux Klan.

Top legal experts concurred with O’Reilly that the crazy California judge labeled the Boy Scouts a “religious organization” simply to penalize it for being a religious organization and for winning litigation allowing it to exercise all the rights of a religious organization. Jim Sparkman of ChronWatch called Judge Napoleon’s irrational decision part of a “campaign against religion and the Boy Scouts.” Sparkman added that if a ducks in a Balboa Park walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it should not be called a duck by insane federal judges.

God Performs Second Money Miracle for Devout Family Man

August 6, 2003 | 3 Comments

Hurricane, West Virginia, August 6, 2003
Special to The Raving Atheist

Last December, $315 million Powerball winner Jack Whittaker thanked the Lord for “letting the machine pick the right numbers” for him during the Christmas night lottery drawing. A family man, Whittaker promised to “take care of his family” and vowed to tithe some of the money to his Church.

God rewarded Whittaker with another $545,000 yesterday — returning that sum to him after it was stolen by thieves who drugged him while he was drinking at a strip club at 2:30 am on Tuesday morning.

“It was the least I could for Jack after all his work with the women of Appalachia,” said God. “Most of these strippers are underage runaways who were sexually abused as little girls,” He said. “By letting them bounce atop the sagging half-erection of a 55 year old drunken granddaddy while he stuffs gambling winnings into their G-strings, Jack returns them to the innocence of their West Virginian childhoods.”

Although Whittaker was already a multi-millionaire when he won the first three hundred million, God said he could find no more worthy soul upon which to bestow this second windfall. “Family values must always be rewarded,” he said. “Especially if they are promoted between midnight and 5:00 a.m. through gambling, drinking and prostitution.”

Casting Stones

August 6, 2003 | 24 Comments

I can’t for the life of me figure out what the author is trying to say, but this cartoon (reproduced below) from Page Six of today’s New York Post does raise some serious theological questions:

1. Is the Pope “without sin,” like the Virgin Mary?
2. Does saying “damn” put him into a state of sin?
3. Is the Pope really that fat?
4. Does the Papal Sceptre really convert into a slingshot?
5. Did the Pope officiate at the wedding, and then change his mind?
6. Are the Pope’s Parkinson’s impaired reflexes quick enough to shoot off a second rock just as the first hits its target?
7. Is the Pope’s objecting just to homosexuality, or to the fact that identical twin brothers are marrying?
8. Does Jesus have a halo?

popegays.jpg

Strange Bedfellows

August 5, 2003 | 19 Comments

Devout conservative Catholics like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League and columnist Maggie Gallagher would never cite to a work by Bertrand Russell as source of moral or religious authority. Yet they’re both defending a theological treatise co-written by Michael O’Keefe — a Zen Buddhist admirer of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac — and Steve Koren, a former writer for the Catholic-bashing Saturday Night Live. For some reason Donohue and Gallagher find the work — the script of the movie “Bruce Almighty” — so inspiring and uplifting that nothing about the credentials of its authors gives them the slightest pause. I can’t understand why, because nothing in the film’s lowest common denominator, deistic cracker-barrel theology bears the slightest resemblance to their Roman Catholicism.

Apparently what pleases Donohue and Gallagher about Bruce Almighty is how the film’s religious themes have pissed off all the critics. But those themes hardly come from the Catechism. As the New York Times reviewer put it, “[t]he movie’s fuzzy idea of God as a sly old Santa Claus who means well but can’t begin to answer all the prayers directed his way is a soothing pop confection intended to ruffle as few feathers as possible.” There’s no Jesus, Mary, or Holy Ghost, and certainly no message that belief in the Resurrection story is the preferred path to Heaven. As in “Oh, God” and other films of the God-As-One-Of-Us genre, the God of Bruce Almighty is a decidedly non-omniscient curmudgeon, so stupid that he turns his super-powers over to Jim Carrey. And far from being the source of moral authority, Bruce believes it’s best if everyone figures out things for themselves rather than relying on him (you “don’t mess with free will,” whatever that means).

The film does extol selflessness and true love, but so does every non-religious romantic comedy. It’s the mere addition of God that, in Gallagher’s mind, somehow transforms Bruce Almighty into “a frank homage to what used to be considered mainstream religion in this country.” I doubt she’d have said that, though, if Bruce had been depicted as the elephant-headed Ganesh. But he might as well have been, since the God-as-Janitor of Bruce Almighty is no closer to being the Catholic divinity than the Hindu God-as-Elephant. I suppose Donohue and Gallagher view Bruce as akin to the inoffensive Ceremonial Deity of the Pledge of Allegiance, but that God is certainly as much a denial of the Christian God as any other sectarian version.

As I noted in an earlier post, the depiction of God in Mel Gibson’s upcoming crucifixion film “The Passion” has provoked much controversy on the religious left for its alleged theological inaccuracies. Donohue has defended it, presumably because it closely mirrors his own conception of the Deity. Strange, then, that he and his Catholic brethren should simultaneously be extolling the virtues of a Janitor-God concocted by a pair of atheistic Hollywood screenwriters.

Blogiversary Special (Part 2)

August 1, 2003 | 38 Comments

Blogging about proof atheism has its special and memorable moments. Beneath are some of the highlights from the first year of The Raving Atheist. Please feel free to share your fondest memories in the comments section. I shall pay tribute to my favorite bloggers and readers in the next, and final, Blogiversary installment.

Worst Name-Calling

From the Blogosphere only (the things I’ve been called in my comments sections and in private hate e-mails are too numerous to recount).

Clubbeaux

Atheists somehow always seem to be first cousins of leaf-nosed bats with the brains of a garden implement . . . It really amazes me how devoid the most religious Atheists are of any positive human qualities such as tolerance, compassion, humor, intelligence and the like. True, fanaticism in any religion never produces the most sympathetic examples, but religiously fanatical Atheists are in my experience unusually bitter, decayed stumps of people (cf. Bertrand Russell). It’s probably because Atheism is alone among religions in clinging to emptiness and nullification as its defining belief, so maybe it’s to be expected that the zealous Atheists would be such empty, hollow, miserably crabbed creatures.

Tertius

“[A] most obnoxious, and all too familiar Internet Infidel.”

Andrew Olmstead:

“Steven Den Beste is talking about religion in the wake of some foolish criticism by the aptly dubbed Raving Atheist.”

Kindest Words

Modesty prevents me from reprinting here the text of this review of my blog by Bill Quick of the Daily Pundit. Coming at a time when I had very little traffic (and no comments section to boost my ego), it greatly inspired me to continue on my noble cause.

No Links for You

The following blogs have made a perverse point out of announcing that they are not linking to me. Now I know how God feels when I deny His existence.

Little Tiny Lies:

“I won’t help the Atheist out by linking to him.”

Licquia Family:

Steven Den Beste does it again, posting a very thought-provoking essay on the nature of belief in response to The Raving Atheist (no link, as the name fits; you can get to him via Den Beste if you really want to).

Arguing with Signposts:

“And no, there are no links here for the atheist. Find it on your own.”

Dean Esmay:

By the way, if Lysander is a Lite-Bright, I’m thinking that “Raving Atheist” chucklehead (I’m referring to that weblogger who calls himself “Raving Atheist”–I won’t link him because I don’t want to give him the traffic) ought to have someone tell him that too might Brightness can blind you. ;-)

Dean Esmay (again):

“I’d say the buffoon who calls himself “Raving Atheist” (no links for him) is obviously blinded by an excess of brightness.”

Eugene Volokh:

“I was reminded of this just now when I saw a post on another blog that mentioned that one of my earlier posts “vastly overestimates the intelligence of religious people.”

(That’s Volokh’s roundabout way of saying he’s not going to link to me).

Nastiest Blogwar

With Clubbeaux (see here, here, here, here, here and here).

Worst Moment

There are over six billion people on earth and three billion web pages on Google, so I figured the chance was very small that any grieving relatives would see this post mocking the death of a young child. I was wrong, and very embarrassed.

Even so, I did it again, and was caught again. However, all was forgiven after it was realized that I was praising the dead, not mocking him.

Most Unintentionally Funny Exchange in the Comments Section

Wiccans defending Wicca.

Most Misunderstood Posts

I’ve always thought it would be self-evident to anyone reading TRA that the “news” stories are completely fake. But these two were taken seriously, as demonstrated by the comments reproduced below:

Wiccan Troop Offers Welcome Alternative to Atheist Boy Scout

Your recent posting which purports to quote me as having offered membership in our SpiralScouts program to the Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert is a complete fabrication on your part. I have never had any such conversation with Lambert or anyone else on his behalf. This brings into question the truthfulness of your purported quotes from Mr. Lambert as well. Your comments are actionable and I must ask you to remove the posting as it is both fanciful and libelous and has no basis in any facts whatsoever. The SpiralScouts program was created as a religiously neutral alternative to Boy Scouts, and groups can even be sponsored by athiests if they choose to do so. Our only criteria for sponsorship is personal responsibility.That’s probably why our program has experienced explosive growth across the US and Canada, at the rate of 5,600% in the last 2 years. If you want to attack us, at least stick to the facts and refrain from having to create something with lies and quotes that have never happened, please.

Pete Pathfinder Davis
founder of the SpiralScouts movement

I responded, gently, to Mr. Davis here.

[Laci] Peterson Mother Commits Suicide After Reading Atheist Blog

I honestly didn’t know that LP’s mother had committed suicide. When a parent loses a child–especially under such horrible circumstances–it is a profoundly traumatizing expeience. It drives many to desperate searches for ‘truth’, consolation, and sometimes even to a higher knowledge of reality.

The reality is, however, that little, if any, religious rhetoric can mitigate the newly awakened awareness within the sufferer: that ‘god’ has somehow caused/allowed this child’s death under such cruel circumstances. Such a tragedy refutes a basic presumption of human families: that a child should die before his/her parents, and yet, he/she is gone. It is a great existential moment for the individual. Not all survive it. Not all have the courage/dispair to take their own lives.

Sounds to me like the mother, in her anger and dispair, chose to ‘give the finger’ to this god by taking her own life. Whether she will be proven wrong or not; whether there’s a god, or not, she has taken the power of death from ‘god’ into her own hands. She chose the ultimate act of freedom as her response to the silence of god. We should comemorate her.

Worst Sucking Up

By me, to Vodkapundit.

But I got the link. Does anyone have a picture of Glenn Reynolds?

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