The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2005 January

God Squad Review CXVIII (Dealing with Illness)

January 31, 2005 | 17 Comments

An otherwise “faith-filled and optimistic” Squad reader is mad at God because she’s the only support for her stroke-disabled dad and was recently diagnosed with lupus. Apparently, God serves pretty much the function of a wall in such situations:

It’s OK to be angry at God. God can take it, and you need to hang your pain and fear on somebody. That’s what God is there to do for you. Go ahead and scream and yell.

In fact, a wall might be better because you can’t bang your head against God. But on second thought, the advice makes even more sense if you substitute “Dr. Mengele” for “God.” I’m sure his patients screamed and yelled at him, and he could take it, too. And he offered a similar “deal”:

God gives us life for just as long as it is God’s will for us to have it, and then God takes it back. That’s the deal.

And if that’s not good enough for you, you can always try a little masochism:

One way to accept the cards God has dealt you is to view your illness not as a curse, but as an invitation by God to live through your pain into a new place of acceptance, love and serenity.

So many people we have known who struggled with illness became much better people when they were sick than when they were well. This spiritual truth is the result of the humility that illness teaches her best students.

I’m definitely going to sit in the front row of Professor Brain Cancer’s class and raise my hand all the time. At least when I’m not polishing apples for Profs. Stroke and Rabies.

Roots

January 30, 2005 | 187 Comments

Recent conversation with a family member
“So, when did you decide to become an Atheist?”
“I was born an Atheist, I decided to become a Theist and then reverted back to my roots.”
Chris M

Heil Brent

January 30, 2005 | 1 Comment

The Carnival of the Nazi-Stalinist Godless is up at Unscrewing the Inscrutable — with plenty of suggestions on how to inflict needless suffering on the weak since there’s no God to stop us.

Carnival Fatigue

January 27, 2005 | 5 Comments

The Carnival done worn me out. When I orginally signed up, I thought it would just be a cut-and-paste job. It was, but a very complicated cut-and-paste job. If I find the energy to do a post tomorrow it’ll just be a light one on the holocaust.

Anyway, a single malformed quotation mark in the code screwed Randian atheist Ian Hamet of Banana oil out of a link. I hereby bequeath all of my Instapundit-assisted hits (the few that are still trickling in) to his post on the Bush inaugural. If his comments are closed, e-mail your abuse to him at ian@ianhamet.com. But whatever you do, do not — I repeat, do NOT — look at this post-inaugural spycam shot of the Bush twins buck nekkid in bubble bath.

Carnival of the Vanities # 123

January 26, 2005 | 86 Comments

Welcome to the 123rd edition of the Carnival of the Vanities! We’ve got hardcore atheists, wimpy agnostics and apatheists, non-practicing Frisbeetarians, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Hindus, Jews and tons of undecideds and “Won’t Say’s.” The submissions are grouped according to faith category, for as we all know, religious beliefs are the core of who we are and guide and inform all of our values.

First up are posts by or about atheists. Next come the various denominations of theists whose atheism only extends to those gods worshipped by the other obviously false superstitions. Last are categories of topical submissions by those who, for some strange reason, view life through a lens not devoted to the worship or denial of a supreme being.

Bloggers whose names are boldfaced belong to the religion identified in the category; unless otherwise indicated, those in plain font didn’t supply an affiliation. I’ve paraphrased the post description where necessary; my occasional and randomly-dispersed comments, appear in italics.

RELIGION

Atheist and Atheist-Related

Christian blogger Ashli of the S.I.C.L.E. Cell explains why the reasoning behind atheist George Carlin’s pro-abortion comedy routine is truly “laughable” — and she does it all with secular arguments.

Don’t miss her photographic refutation of his quip that “most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place” — a not so gruesome picture of a former fetus! Read the whole twelve-part series!

Heartened by the success of the Jesus-myth, Brian Flemming of Brian Flemming’s Weblog is trying to start an urban legend from scratch. Please feel free to copy his story and spread it far and wide — depending on what the development of this story, and the blogs and websites involved in spreading it, may be featured in a documentary.

Does Brian seriously think that atheists could be as successful as spreading crazy lies as Christians? By the way, if you already believe in his fault.

El Capitan, one of the non-practicing Frisbeetarians over at Baboon Pirates, is at The Bus Stop to Hell with a Gen-U-Wine fire & brimstone bible-thumping street preacher.

DarkSyde of Unscrewing The Inscrutable has written A Midwinter Night’s Mare — an introduction to the peak oil phenomenon, for those who enjoy Edgar Allan Poe tales.

Chip Gibbons of The Binary Circumstance is surprised and dismayed by the use of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, to justify the war in Iraq.

Hey Skipper over at The Daily Duck offers an annotation of Steven Den Beste’s fine essay on why “Ethics can’t be based on belief in God.” He also deconstructs Dennis Prager’s contrary argument that morals are not possible without God.

I guess this would also cover the God Squad’s one-line argument that “If there is no God, there would be no reason to do good.”

Randian atheist Ian Hamet of Banana Oil has fun fisking a Berkeley linguist (Lakoff) analysis of Bush’s inaugural address.

I know old Ayn despised Ronald Reagan; I wonder what her take would be on Bush.

Jeremy Richey’s Blawg suggests some activities that might help atheist Michael Newdow get over his latest legal defeat.

Norbizness of Happy Furry Puppy Story Time With Norbizness attempts to partially eviscerate two Townhall columns dealing with religion (one on the history of religion in America and one on why secularists suck), but ends up making fun of Dennis Prager, comparing him to the bastard offspring of Sam the Eagle and Mama Cass.

Sam Harris was much nicer to Dennis.

Orac of Respectful Innocence, a cancer surgeon, discusses how alternative medicine testimonials are used to deceive people, as well as the religious connotations underlying them. He also posts on how conventional doctors are not above using deceptive marketing to push unproven diagnostic tests.

In the wake of the tsunami, Atheist/agnostic Mithras The Prophet having a thought experiment, mulling over the possibilities maltheism — the theory that God does exist, and is evil.

Then how come after 9/11 everyone wasn’t saying “God does exist, and is Allah?”

Andrew Quinn of Verit

Heeeeeeeere They Come

January 25, 2005 | 13 Comments

Looks like cartoonist ringmaster Daryl Cagle got my message:

carsoncagle2.gif

If you thought bloggers were narcissistic, consider the implications of the above. God’s first words to Johnny Carson are about obituary cartoonists. Apparently the Almighty thinks that the talk show host’s chief concern upon finding himself dead will be that caricaturists who employ obvious cliches in their tributes to him will be properly punished.

If you’re interested, the current score is Heeeeeeeeeree’s 4, Carnac 4.

God Squad Review CXVII (Talking with the Dead)

January 24, 2005 | 19 Comments

A Squad reader has a terminally ill mother who has begun turning away from her hospital bed and “talking” to her deceased sister Rhoda. The reader’s convinced that “Rhoda was talking to Mom on some level,” and has begun reading all the books she can on life after death. Her husband and daughter think she’s crazy, but the Squad has a different view on the question of insanity:

A: We have good news and bad news. You’re not crazy. That’s the good news. However, your husband and your daughter are definitely crazy, and that’s the bad news.

We’re not going to go on record as confirming or denying that living people can speak to the dead. We do harbor a deep suspicion about most of the so-called psychics who are all too eager to charge you for placing a call to the green pastures and still waters area code. We are, however, deep believers in the possibility that your mother was indeed speaking to the soul of her sister.

We’ve seen so many instances of signs and communications, of hopeful visitations and striking coincidences that we come down firmly on the side of those, including God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mohammad, Moses, all the prophets, and most of all, Oprah, who believe death is not the end.

* * *

When Jesus rose from the tomb, he appeared to Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28 1-8). And, of course, after death, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, ”Peace be with you.” (Luke 24 36-37) Jesus surprised ”doubting” Thomas when he came and stood amongst his disciples and said to Thomas, ”Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20: 24-28).

We believe (or at least Tom believes) that these stories about Jesus are true. Why not put Rhoda at the end of the list that includes all those others? It’s too bad that time has passed and the biblical canon is fixed. Otherwise, there might have been a verse from the Bible that read, ”And Rhoda appeared . . .” At least it would have settled your family’s theological dispute.

Attention to all those who don’t think that Alzheimers victims are talking to the dead: You’re crazy! Not so crazy that the Squad will go on record as saying so, of course: the fact that telephone psychics charge money to chat with the deceased casts some doubt on the matter, as does Rabbi Gelman’s presumably sane decision to reject Jesus’ post-crucifixion communications. But they both agree that Rhoda’s soul can talk, or at least be talked to

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

January 23, 2005 | 8 Comments

The death of Johnny Carson presents a difficulty for obituary cartoonists — what should St. Peter say to announce the talk show host’s arrival in Heaven? Now, cartoonists are an original lot, but this one is bound to stump even the most creative of the bunch.

In any event, I’m glad to see that the obituary cartoon parodies are now coming out in advance of the real ones. Although I’ve sworn off doing them, Norbizness has apparently decided to take up the mantle. His photoshopping is, unbelievably, even worse than mine, and the cartoon makes no sense at all. In other words, just about what the genre deserves.

Carnival of the Godless

January 21, 2005 | 30 Comments

Reading my mind and pre-empting my planned post for today, Brent Rasmussen of Unscrewing the Inscrutable has founded the Carnival of the Godless, a weekly (Sunday) round-up of atheist-related blog posts. I’ll be hosting COTG on March 6, 2005. I’m not bitter or jealous that he beat me to the punch on this, although I do have some reservations about his choice of logo — which seems evocative of the somewhat outmoded, 1940’s-era stereotypes of freethinkers:
cotgfinallogo.jpg
In any event, it’s his blog’s name on the thing, not mine. For my part, I’ll be introducing a weekly “Atheist Round-Up” of all the non-blog news items you e-mail me but I don’t get around to posting on. So keep

Carnival Time at TRA

January 20, 2005 | 7 Comments

The Raving Atheist will be hosting the 123rd The Carnival of the Vanities next Wednesday, January 26th, 2005. Founded by Silflay Hraka in September 2002, the Carnival offers a second chance to showcase that magnificent, ground-breaking post that should have gotten an Instalanche and 683 comments but somehow scrolled off your main page without even attracting viagra spam.

To participate, put “COTV Submission” in the subject line of an e-mail sent to me at both ravingatheist-at-aol.com and ravingatheist-at-hotmail.com, containing the following information:


Title of your Blog (required)
URL of your Blog (required)
Title of your post (required if it has one)
URL linking to that post (required unless you inexcusably still lack permalinks)
Description of the post (preferred, but see below)
Religious (or non-religious) affiliation (not required)

Submission deadline is Monday, January 24th, 2005, 11 p.m. (EST). I will send a confirmation to all entrants; please leave a comment at this post if you do not hear from me within 24 hours. Late entries will be accepted at my discretion, the degree of begging necessary inversely proportional to the time remaining before the Carnival.

No specific topic or theme is required, although entries dealing with atheism or religion will likely be listed first. Submissions from religious bloggers of any denomination are welcome and will be treated with all the respect they deserve. However, the truly devout should consult with clergy to determine whether a link from me will jeopardize their salvation (see, e.g., 1 Corinthians 5:11). You might consider poking around this blog bit (particularly the Atheist News) to make sure that you really want to be associated with it.

Failure to submit a description of your post will put me to the trouble of characterizing it. If that happens, please keep in mind that interpretations differ, and ours may differ (especially if the post is about religion) to the point that you institute a libel suit against me (which would ultimately be dismissed with costs, attorney’s fees and sanctions).

Complicated

January 19, 2005 | 44 Comments

Anthony Flew’s conversion from atheism to ambiguous deism perplexes Victor J. Stenger. Me too. Apparently Flew was impressed by contemporary scientific claims regarding fine-tuning and intelligent design, but I don’t see how they add anything to the ancient observation that nature operates mathematically rather than randomly (whatever that might mean). I’d understand if he’d looked through a telescope and saw the stars of the Milky Way form the words “Surrender, Anthony Flew,” but all that has seemed to have impressed him is that things are more complicated than he thought:

Flew says, “the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.” I am surprised that such a noted philosopher cannot see the fatal flaws in the Intelligent Design argument, as exemplified by Michael Behe’s “irreducible complexity” and William Dembski’s “design inference.” They assert that a complex system can only arise out of something with high intelligence. Although complexity is difficult to define, we can reasonably expect a highly intelligent entity to be highly complex. Thus, it can only have arisen out of something even more intelligent and complex, in infinite regress. It’s Intelligent Designers all the way down, not Aristotle’s first cause, as Flew seems to think.

Fortunately, we can avoid an infinite regress. We can just stop at the world. There is no reason why the physical universe cannot be its own first cause. As we know from both everyday experience and sophisticated scientific observations, complex systems develop from simpler systems all the time in nature

Revisionism

January 18, 2005 | 9 Comments

Not only is the evil atheist conspiracy trying to take Christ out of Christmas; according to Booker Rising, it’s trying to take Him out of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

Despite (white) liberal attempts to whitewash and Europeanize him by turning him into a secularist icon, Rev. King embodied the black American social gospel tradition — with its twinning of Christianity and liberty. While possessing a doctorate in theology from Boston University, he was primarily a preacher. It was his Baptist faith which anchored his views and activities, not the reverse. Yet how often do schools teach about the role that religion played in Rev. King’s activities and in the civil rights movement in general? Let predominantly black schools attempt to do so, and the ACLU will clamp down.

Very well — let’s abolish the ACLU and let the true story be told to all our schoolchildren about how the Baptists vanquished those racist southern atheists. We can start by reading them excerpts of King’s famous 1963 speech:

We find we have replaced faith with fear . . . and though we may give lip service to the Almighty . . . in reality, government has become our god. It is, therefore, a basically ungodly government and its appeal to the psuedo-intellectual and the politician is to change their status from servant of the people to master of the people . . . to play at being God . . . without faith in God . . . and without the wisdom of God. It is a system that is the very opposite of Christ for it feeds and encourages everything degenerate and base in our people as it assumes the responsibilities that we ourselves should assume.

* * *

It is this theory that led . . . men to briefly bare the ungodly core of that philosophy in forbidding little school children to say a prayer. And we find the evidence of that ungodliness even in the removal of the words “in God we trust” from some of our dollars, which was placed there as like evidence by our founding fathers as the faith upon which this system of government was built.

* * *

We invite the negro citizens of Alabama to work with us from his separate racial station . . . as we will work with him . . . to develop, to grow in individual freedom and enrichment. We want jobs and a good future for BOTH races . . . the tubercular and the infirm. This is the basic heritage of my religion, if which I make full practice . . . . for we are all the handiwork of God.

* * *

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever.

Oops! Right year, wrong speech: that was actually from Alabama Governor George Wallace’s inaugural address. In the interest of truth, we’re going to give copies of that to all the kiddies too, right? And teach them about how the Southern Baptist Convention stood side by side with Govs. Wallace and Faubus in opposing the integration of the very schools in which they sit? Or perhaps this current example of the SBC’s bible-based wisdom?

But let’s move on to King’s own beliefs. Booker provides a very helpful link at the end of his post to an essay by an evangelical writer who, citing to King’s own writings, concludes that the “Reverend” wasn’t even a Christian. Indeed, King thought that the religion’s core doctrines — Christ’s virgin birth, resurrection and deity — were a lot of unscientific claptrap stolen from Greek mythology. Is that the Baptist faith which we’re going to tell the kids “anchored” his views?

I don’t think the ACLU would object to that. But what of the organization’s own role in the civil rights movement? Maybe we should quote this language from a racist brief the ACLU submitted in a famous Supreme Court case:


Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

Oops again! Those are the words of the judge who upheld the anti-miscegenation statute that the ACLU had struck down. Can we put that in the textbooks?

Sticky Business

January 17, 2005 | 124 Comments

Commenting on the biology/evolution textbook controversy in Georgia, Kafkaesqu

God Squad Review CXVI (God and Children)

January 17, 2005 | 4 Comments

A parent of an “imaginative” 4-year is concerned that he’s “talking to God,” and doesn’t know how to deal with his “stories.” The Squad (in its McCall.com column) responds:

Our general point of view is that there’s no problem whatsoever when people of any age talk to God. The problems arise when people hear God talking back to them.

I wonder why it doesn’t work both ways? I know that when I talk to people, who exist, I can actually hear them talking back and nobody accuses me of having a “problem.” I also know that when I see a person talking conversationally in an empty room, I do have a problem with it if they’re over, say, four years old.

There’s a huge difference between your son talking to God and talking to an invisible, purple rabbit. One is real and the other isn’t (or at least isn’t purple).

* * *

We believe that adults can kill childhood piety by considering it abnormal or by conveying their skepticism or atheism to their children.

Where to begin? Squad: If you’re trying to avoid conveying atheism, it’s a poor tactic to make any sort of comparison between God and an invisible colored animal. You see, the godless are fond of talking about something they affectionately call the IPU, and it’s not an Integrated Processing Unit. (Hint: it’s horned and horselike, but not purple). You’re just doing our work for us. Also please note: it’s easier for a real rabbit to be purple than invisible.

The Squad’s Newsday column is also concerned with children. This time it’s a 9-year old who is so terrified of death that most days he can’t pass a day without crying. His Catholic parents have assured him that “there awaits a beautiful heaven at the end of our lives” with God and Jesus, and have him sing himself to sleep to the tune of “Jesus loves me” — but he’s still scared. Apparently the trauma has to do with the death of his grandma five years ago and a dog on Christmas Eve. The Squad opines:

We urge you not to give up on psychological counseling for your son. Obviously, you should try to select a therapist who has both experience with children and a sensitivity to your religious beliefs. What your son needs to know is that everything is all right with the universe, and that he is not about to die nor will you be next to die and leave him abandoned and alone.

The spiritual problem is that there’s no guarantee everyone he loves, or even your son himself, will live to a ripe old age and die contented.

What you’re doing seems just right to us — patiently repeating to your son that everything will be OK. This is the task of all loving parents, and historically it is the message of all faiths and the reason religion is a central feature of every culture.

See how comforting and convincing religion is? All sorts of Jesus talk and the kid is still scared shitless, and even the adults who assure him that “everything’s okay” recognize there’s no guarantee that his worse fears won’t come true. And what, exactly, is the role of the shrink in all this? To convince the kid that his parents aren’t pathological liars?

[McCall link via David Liberman]

Corn Off the Cobb

January 14, 2005 | 57 Comments

Education in Georgia is evolving:

Biology Book Stickers Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the immediate removal of stickers placed in high school biology textbooks by school officials in suburban Cobb County that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying they were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

I told you so.

Kosher Khaos

January 13, 2005 | 16 Comments

New York’s new Kosher laws went into effect this week. The old regime was ruled unconstitutional in 2002 because it employed state inspectors to enforce Orthodox Jewish dietary laws. As I’ve argued before, the new statute is worse because state personnel and resources are now used to track compliance with not only the Orthodox edition of God’s cookbook, but with every version. Under the guise of “consumer protection,” taxpayer funds are being wasted to promote scripturally-based religious superstition

Concerned

January 11, 2005 | 96 Comments

Johnathan V. Last of the Daily Standard, commenting on the Rathergate Report:

You may not be able to authenticate a document from a Xerox copy, but surely you can discredit it. If, for instance, I handed you a Xerox copy of a note purporting to be an email from Saint Paul to Saint Peter, you could, after careful study, conclude that it was a forgery. If, that is, you were concerned with such matters.

Attention Powerline and Little Green Footballs: Bill Burkett and Mary Mapes just handed me a Bible. Get on the case. If you’re concerned about such matters.

Bad Girl

January 10, 2005 | 70 Comments

What would it be like to have an omniscient being monitoring your every word — and then punishing you by broadcasting your malicious gossip for all the world to see? Probably something like this:

I came across a website while looking for something else. The website was called “Raving Atheist”. I never knew there were people in this world like these atheist. Anyway, there is an article with scrappleface on an atheist site. That’s how I found scrappleface. Any Christians that want to visit the atheist site can and then pray for them. It’s hard to stay on that site long though. Agape, JB

Posted by: Prayertulip at December 31, 2004 06:14 PM

According to the Bible, gossip is the antithesis of righteousness and faithfulness (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 11:9; Rom. 1:29, Prov. 11:13), the product of corrupt mind (Rom. 1:28), and is used by wicked people (Jere. 6:28) to stir up trouble (Jere. 9:4).

God Squad Review CXV

January 10, 2005 | 9 Comments

A Squad reader wants to know how to pray to lose weight. After noting that diet and exercise are useful (and that they have had trouble following that regimen), the Squad replies:

The fact that it’s so easy for most of us to be sedentary and to eat junk is what makes eating less and moving around more so difficult. This is where prayer can help. We both pray about losing weight, but we never pray to lose weight. We pray for the strength to avoid temptation and for the diligence to stick to an exercise regimen.

To pray to lose weight is to pray for a magic cure, and prayer is not about magic. Prayer is about hope and courage. Don’t minimize the difficulty. Most who diet do not succeed. So pray for the courage to do for yourself something that will undo what you did to yourself.

And when you’re at the gym, don’t ask God to lift the barbell, but pray about lifting the barbell. Want to bench press 450 pounds? Have some friends lower the weight on to your chest, and pray for the strength to lift them off. If that doesn’t work, pray about having that strength.

As I noted here, the Squad gave an even worse answer to the same question two years ago.

Particularly Ironic

January 7, 2005 | 10 Comments

Radio commentator Scott Thomas, who doesn’t think atheists can be patriotic, is a bit of an atheist himself — at least when it comes to the Goddess Mother Earth. In view of the big tsunami, he’s outraged that certain environmental groups think She should be protected and worshipped — a devotion he finds “particularly ironic in light of the secular dismissing of the Biblical God” he worships:

In the aftermath of Sunday’s natural massacre, what must these people think of their goddess?

Now I know why Rush Limbaugh refers to these folks as “whackos”. Mother Earth is a sentient (self aware) life form . . . a Goddess, who has protected humanity for millions of years?

In light of this belief, I have a chance to ask her disciples the very question I get asked, regarding God, in times of great disaster.

What kind of Goddess would, by her very own hand, cause tens of thousands of people to die?

Was she upset by offshore oil drilling in the Indian Ocean? If so, why not just topple the oilrigs? Was she upset by the harvesting of billfish north of Australia? Why not just sink a few boats?

If Mother Earth is sentient, why is she not discerning? Were all those victims SUV drivers?

And, if she has the capability of wiping out 100,000 people in a matter of minutes, why would an environmental extremist worry about drilling a few holes in ANWAR? If these relative pinpricks upset the “vibrations of Mother Earth”, it appears she is quite capable of letting us know and, if need be, taking care of the transgression herself.

Good questions indeed, which Scott doesn’t bother to answer regarding his own God, or the alleged Goddess he rejects. Plainly, the answers would strongly militate against the existence of either. But he makes a very good point — environmentalists who believe that the Earth is a sentient, benevolent being are as whacko as he is.

Whether the particular environmental practices identified are consistent with the long-range survival of humanity is, of course, an entirely different question. And Thomas once again supplies no answers. I agree with him that the risk of hurting the feelings of some imaginary Mother Nature shouldn’t deter oil drilling or billfish harvesting, but that risk wouldn’t count against blanketing the Earth’s surface with hydrogen bombs, either. What’s relevant is the risk to humanity.

Scott’s column provoked some angry responses. The ones he highlights are mostly from pagans offended that he would “trash” their spiritual path, which he dismisses as “mythology.” I agree, but Scott never explains how his fundamentalist Christian beliefs escape that same label. Other than to insinuate, in the following exchange, that the Bible is somehow self-evidently true:

“Would someone please inform Mr. Thomas that in Genesis 7:12, God indiscriminately kills every living being of the Earth and Sky, save for Noah’s family, seven of every clean animal and two of every unclean animal? . . . Julian Strychen

Would someone please inform Julian that in Genesis 1:1 God created the earth? It’s His to do what He wants with it.

Yikes. Wasn’t the whole point of his original piece that the alleged extremist environmentalists were crazy for positing and worshipping a being that was cruel, arbitrary and irrational? Scott also notes that he “used the occasion of this tragedy . . . to ask the same question that Pagans and Atheists use to “trash” my spiritual path all the time.” Putting aside his confusion of Pagans with atheists, this seems to be an admission that the questions have a powerfully trashing effect, whether upon Mother Nature or God.

Vessel of Truth

January 5, 2005 | 6 Comments

That fine Christian blog Vessel of Honor 2.0 is hosting this week’s Carnival of the Vanities. There’s a buffet of religious postings (scroll down to the “Smidgeon of Religion” subheading), and a stray link to Revealed Truth’s post about “about a screwball atheist’s latest attempt to fight the evils of religion and its perilous influence on government” (the Christmas tree recycling bag scam I wrote about here).

For my part, I submitted the tribute to Jerry Orbach et al. For some reason, Mr. Vessel labeled it “bizarre,” suggested that I needed another hobby, and stuck it under the catch-all category for posts “So Unique They Couldn’t Be Categorized.” I don’t get it. It’s standard Christian theology that the dead meet Jesus in the afterlife, which is precisely what the cartoon depicts. So what’s the objection? Too literal? This, from a guy who believes that the universe was created in six regular calendar days and that “the world will unite to destroy Israel under the Antichrist at Armageddon.” Bizarre indeed.

On the other hand, he’s not without his charms. Like me, he believes that Jack Chick cartoons accurately reflect biblical Christianity and that the Rome is the Great Whore of Revelation. We part ways, however, over whether the Last Days will see a Vatican-run One World Government engineered by Satan (I think “government” is imaginary).

Yours truly will be hosting the Carnival on January 26th. (See here for a general description of the event). I’ll post submission details about a week before. Crackpots welcome.

Rising to the Bait

January 4, 2005 | 59 Comments

Reader Forrest Cavalier accepts the challenge posed by my last post (his “CCC” references are to the Catechism of the Catholic Church; since I’m too busy to insert all the hyperlinks here, get them from his comment, where you can read his other remarks):

10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of your god.

Refer to CCC 2104 …requirement of charity, which urges Christians “to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith.”

9 – You feel insulted and “dehumanized” when scientists say that people evolved from lesser life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

Symbolic interpretation is important. See CCC 110 and CCC 286.
Refer to CCC 337…Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work,” concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day…

8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Trinity god.

Refer to CCC 43 (Human language is incapable of concise explanations of God.) and CCC 237 (The word “mystery” means “incomplete understanding” it does not mean “no understanding.”)

7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” — including women, children, and trees!

Refer to CCC 122 “Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,”

6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

Search for “Economy of Salvation” One perfect sacrifice was necessary and sufficient to provide infinite grace.

5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loop-holes in the scientifically established age of the Earth (4.55 billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by pre-historic tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that the Earth is a couple of generations old.

Refer to CCC 159 (“there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason.”)

4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects — will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet you consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving”.

Refer to CCC 1037. To go to hell “…a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.”

3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to prove Christianity.

Refer to CCC 50 (Reason alone doesn’t suffice. In case you didn’t hear, Kurt Godel proved it early last century for you secularists too. No faith required to follow the proof. Hofstadter explains it pretty well in Godel, Escher, Bach.)

2 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

See CCC 2737 (God doesn’t answer a wrong prayer.)

1 – You actually know a lot less than many Atheists and Agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history — but still call yourself a Christian.

And Frank has his own top ten list:

Top Ten signs That You’re An Atheist

10 — You use the fact that many people worship false gods to vigorously deny the possibility that a real god just might exist.

9 — Your intelligence is insulted when someone suggests a higher intelligence created us in his image and yet go on believing that all of our brain power somehow “evolved” from muck.

8 — You laugh at the notion of a triune God but have no trouble understanding that your hand, heart, and eye, while distinctively different, are all a part of the same person.

7 — Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” committed in the name of religion, but you don’t flinch when hearing about how an “officially godless” country like the former Soviet Union slaughtered millions of people.

6 — You are either unable or unwilling to see the distinction between Greek mythology (which had no historical evidence to support it) and the life of Jesus Christ (a real person who performed real miracles and was witnessed by hundreds and hundreds of people AFTER he rose from the dead).

5 — You are willing to spend your life looking for the “missing link” in the fossil record when paleontology has never once unearthed a single fossil that indicates a transition from one species to another.

4 — You characterize those who share their faith with you so that you won’t have to spend an eternity in hell as “intolerant” when their motives are your well-being.

3 — While history, archaeology, philosophy, theology, and mathematics are all legitimate intellectual disciplines you accept Darwinism as fact in the face of evidence to the contrary because there is no “purely scientific” alternative.

2 — You completely ignore the fact that there have been many cases where doctors have given no hope for cures and modern medicine has provided no answers and yet a patient has made a complete recovery in what the doctors can only describe as a “miracle.”

1 — You accept as the absolute truth the claims of scientists who hold to Darwinism and outright reject the claims of scientists who hold to an intelligent design theory — but still call yourself “intellectually enlightened.”

Countdown to Insanity

January 4, 2005 | 21 Comments

Too busy to post anything original today, so I’ll just leave you with this “Top Ten Signs You’re a Christian” list posted in the comments by reader Glenstonecottage (via Godless Geeks):

10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of your god.

9 – You feel insulted and “dehumanized” when scientists say that people evolved from lesser life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Trinity god.

7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the “atrocities” attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in “Exodus” and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in “Joshua” — including women, children, and trees!

6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loop-holes in the scientifically established age of the Earth (4.55 billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by pre-historic tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that the Earth is a couple of generations old.

4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs — though excluding those in all rival sects — will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet you consider your religion the most “tolerant” and “loving”.

3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in “tongues” may be all the evidence you need to prove Christianity.

2 – You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 – You actually know a lot less than many Atheists and Agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history — but still call yourself a Christian.

No doubt one of my faithful Christian readers will offer a point-by-point refutation of this outrageous calumny. Or perhaps one of my faithless atheist readers will offer a point-by-point “refutation.”

God Squad Review CXIV (Joke of the Year)

January 3, 2005 | 14 Comments

The Squad announces the winning entry in their “Joke of the Year” contest, which they say contains “a message about religious blindness and how what we accept in our faith we sometimes have difficulty tolerating in others”:

Mike and Murray owned a hat store in Manhattan and had worked together for many years. They rode the train in from Queens every morning, and back home together at night.

One day on the train, Murray saw Mike reading the Bible, and said: “Mike, you’re my best friend and you’re a smart man. Could you answer me this? How could someone as smart as you believe all those miracles it says Jesus did in the Bible? Do you really believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with a couple of fish and a couple of bagels? Do you really believe he turned water into wine? Come on, Mike, you’re too smart to believe those stories.”

Mike thought a moment, turned to his friend Murray and said, “I do believe those miracles, Murray. I believe them. And how about you? You’re a smart guy. Do you believe the stories about the miracles Moses did? Do you believe Moses split the Red Sea with his stick and turned his stick into a snake?”

Murray looked incredulously at Mike, and said, “Mike, that was Moses!”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Get it? The Jewish guy thought the Christian was stupid for believing in fairy tales about Jesus’ magical powers — not realizing that his own belief in Moses’ magic tricks was just as stupid! And even when this was pointed out to him, he still insisted that the stories about Moses were somehow more probable! If he had an ounce of sense he’d realize that everything in the Bible is a crazy lie and become an atheist!

At least I think that’s the point the Squad was trying to make. Unless they’re suffering from religious blindness themselves.

Useful Concepts

January 1, 2005 | 10 Comments

The highest tsunami casualties were suffered in the Aceh territory in the northern tip of Sumatra, accounting for approximately 80,000 of the 150,000 now reported dead. But things could have been much worse without Allah’s protection. As Muslim teacher Ivano Yusuf points out, the people of the Aceh region were the earliest in Indonesia to accept Islamic teachings. That wisdom is saving lives to this day:

Yusuf told the story of an Aceh woman carrying a child through the streets three days after the tsunami. The woman found a dirty bottle filled with sewer water and she was preparing to drink it. She saw a man familiar with Islamic teachings and asked him “Is it halal?” — is it lawful?

“In this stressful moment, she and her baby have not had anything to eat for days, and yet she is still able to use the concept of halal in her life,” Yusuf said.

I guess the Ty-D-Bol Man isn’t an Iman, because when I ran into him while scavenging around New York City after 9/11 he told me it was just fine to drink out of toilets. Perhaps one day modern science, too, will warn us of the perils of consuming the products of our rectums.

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