The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2005 February

Submit

February 28, 2005 | 3 Comments

As previously announced, The Raving Atheist will be hosting the Carnival of the Godless this Sunday, March 6, 2005. Guidelines for submissions may be found here. Deadline is Friday, March 4 before midnight EST. Please e-mail your offerings to both cotg-submission@brentrasmussen.com and ravingatheist@hotmail.com to insure receipt. In addition to writing “COTG Submission” in the subject of the e-mail, please include the following information:

* The name of the your blog.
* The post title.
* The post author’s name or pseudonym.
* The post’s permanent link.
* A short, one or two line sentence description of the post, referring to you or your blog in the third person, which can be reproduced by me without any editing to introduce your link. For example: “Brent Rasmussen explains why all atheists should satisfy their diaper fetish with midget prostitutes in a Dunkin’ Donuts dumpster twice a week like he does,” not “My post is about what I do with midget prostitutes twice a week.”

Failure to comply with these rules, particularly the last one, may result in your post being rejected and/or your being pelted by bags of excrement. Christians welcome!

Missing

February 28, 2005 | 15 Comments

At four a.m. on 80 East
It’s in the nature of the beast
To wonder if there’s something missing


Richard Shindell, Next Best Western

God Squad Review CXXII (Missing Mass)

February 28, 2005 | 38 Comments

An excellent, well-behaved student no longer wants to go to Mass because he finds that eating Christ’s flesh and blood is “boring and repetitive.” So his mom asks the Squad whether she should force him to participate in the cannibalism ritual. They pull out the old eagle/pinball analogy to show that the consequences of missing Mass (attention all Jews) are rather dire:

Eagles perch on cliffs to keep their eggs safe from predators, but doing this makes the eagle chicks vulnerable when they try to fly. Young eagles are taught to fly by being kicked out of the nest when they’re ready. They flap their wings frantically as they plummet toward earth.

Then, just as they’re about to hit the rocks and die, the mother or father eagle swoops down and catches the little eagles on their large pinion feathers, and like a flipper hitting a pin ball, the parents whack the little buzzards back into the air, where they again try to fly on their own. Finally, they get the hang of flying, and the task is done.

You must know when it’s time to whack your son into church and when it’s time to let him find his own way through God’s good heavens to the place where we all know our souls take flight.

The last time someone asked this question the Squad merely suggested bribing the child. Nowadays, you apparently have to throw the kid off the roof a few times before he’ll join in the bloody orgy. Wouldn’t it be easier to just throw a few more crunchy bones into the Christ feast to make things more interesting?

* * *

In their answer to a second letter, the Squad explains that God made evil in the world so that we could enjoy the higher good of free will. At least I think that’s the point they’re making:

Having free will doesn’t mean you can choose to do anything you want. It means you can choose to do anything it is possible for you to do.

A poor way to start off making their point: from this assertion, it’s obvious that God does make it impossible for us to do some things that we want to do. So our freedom is curtailed at least in that respect. My inability to fly or turn acorns into elephants or make myself invisible isn’t seen as a significant limitation on my free will. Why not just make it impossible for me to hurt anyone on Earth, in the same way that’s it’s impossible for me to wipe out the population of the planet Zebnar by blinking my eyes?

God could indeed have created us incapable of choosing evil, but would that really be a better world?

Yes, if the words “good,” “evil” and “better” have any meaning. It would also be “better” if we were not plagued by earthquakes, tsunamis, disease, things which have nothing to do with the exercise of our wills.

Were you a more developed, mature and self-actualized person when you were an infant? We don’t think so.

What’s the point here: that infants are worse off because they (allegedly) can’t choose evil? I agree that it’s good to be a mature person, but having a long history of evil isn’t all that necessary to it. People who do have that kind of record are general known as “criminals,” and they’re quite unnecessary to my moral development. And often they do not mature or self-actualize; it would be a “better” world if God made their heads explode just before they did really bad things to others. That wouldn’t really result in a net loss of free will; even though the serial killer would lose his free will, his potential victims would retain theirs.

Maturity brings with it a deeper understanding of the world, ourselves and God. This is what we call wisdom, and it comes from exercising your free will and learning from the consequences of your actions.

Making the little mistakes that lead to maturity isn’t really the same as doing evil. And presumably a person who is about to do an evil thing already knows what the consequences are, or he wouldn’t be in a position to judge that it was bad in the first place. So going ahead and doing it isn’t actually necessary to the learning process.

The exercise of this freedom is a prerequisite to being able to love another person or God. Without freedom of the will, we cannot love. Even though this power of free choice carries with it the possibility of perversion into evil purposes, it’s still better we have it because it alone allows us to love, and all the evil in the world cannot justify the elimination of our capacity to love.

I suspect I’d have the capacity to feel pain, pleasure, love, hate and a wide variety of other emotions whether I had free will or not. And I’m sure there are a lot of people who never experience suicidal depression or homicidal rage, and yet still have free will despite their inability to feel such things.

What they meant by that last clause I’m not sure. I think they meant to say that ridding the world of evil wouldn’t be good, if it eliminated our capacity to love (which it wouldn’t).

Whore-Actress Punished for Sacrilege

February 24, 2005 | 69 Comments

Jerusalem, Israel, February 24, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Cock-hungry slut puppy Natalie Portman was chased off a movie set by a group of Orthodox Jewish men after defiling the Western Wall, according to the New York Post. Chanting “Whores! Whores!”, the crowd drove the sleaze-dripping thespian twat away from the holy site after she was caught nearby with fellow actor Aki Avni filming a scene which included the salacious and lascivious oral act known as “kissing.”

“YHWH did not build this rock-structure for depraved, meatpole-riding, jizz-drinking f_ck-house cunts to stain with their clit juices,” said Chief Rabbi Moshe Shafran. “We cannot permit a leg-spreading hosebag cooze slattern to insult our G_d of love by simulating lip contact,” he declared. Shafran also noted that couple did not even have the modesty to wear hoods over their heads and perform the act through a sheet or blanket. In the past, men and women who so much as prayed together have been cornered by righteous mobs and pelted by bags of excrement.

Israeli filmaker Amos Gitai later negotiated with the Orthodox group to shoot a new version of the scene. Instead of the kiss, whore-Portman menstruates and is consequently stoned, hacked in to meaty chunks, dipped in urine and fed to wild dogs.

Massaging of Teenage Breasts a ‘Religious Activity,’ Court Rules

February 23, 2005 | 11 Comments

Satsumasendai, Kagoshima, Japan, February 21, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

A Shinto priest accused of indecent assault for massaging the breasts of a 15-year-old girl was found not guilty after a court here ruled that his act was a “religious activity.”

“There is room to accept that his act was a religious activity, and reasonable doubt in saying he possessed sexual intent,” Judge Atsushi Tomita said in handing down the ruling at the Sendai branch of the Kagoshima District Court last Wednesday.

Prosecutors had demanded that the 36-year-old priest, Ryoichi Sakamoto, be jailed for two years over his actions.

Sakamoto was arrested and charged with indecent assault after he touched the breasts and other body parts of the junior high school girl at a religious facility adjoining his home in October 2002 and December that year.

During the trial, Sakamoto admitted that he touched the body of the girl, but said it was “a religious activity in order to help her,” and maintained that he was not guilty.

In giving the ruling, Tomita acknowledged that Sakamoto had touched the breasts of the girl, but said of his actions, “(In the sect to which the defendant belongs) there are some cases in which the skin is touched directly, and one cannot say that this did not constitute a religious activity.”

Judge Tomita observed that it would be highly unusual for a man in his mid-thirties to be attracted to the uncovered, budding mammaries of a female scarcely out of childhood. “Gentlemen are attracted to women their own age,” Tomita noted, crediting Sakamoto’s testimony that no impure thoughts crossed his mind as the girl’s pubescent breast-meat melted into his slowly-kneading palms. The judge further acquitted Sakamoto of caressing the warm, creamy flesh of the teenager’s naked buttocks, finding that no reasonable jurisprudence could interpret such conduct as other than a protected religious practice.

American courts were quick to follow suit. On Friday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state statutes prohibiting Catholic priests from teasing the firm, blooming young stalks of manhood out of the underpants of trembling altar boys unconstitutionally infringed upon the free exercise of religion.

God Squad Review CXXI (Divine Retribution)

February 22, 2005 | 9 Comments

Was the Big Tsunami God’s punishment for wrongdoing such as wearing bikinis or celebrating Christmas? The Squad recoils at the very suggestion:

The innocent victims of the tsunami disaster were not being punished for anything. To say or believe so adds a measure of guilt to survivors already suffering. If natural disasters were God’s punishment for the wicked, Hitler would have been struck by lightning, and Stalin would have been swallowed up by an earthquake.

And the whole world except for Noah would have been drowned in a flood, to pick a more obvious analogy. In any event, the examples the Squad does pick hardly helps God’s case: he should have smitten Hitler and Stalin, and saved the innocent Tsunami victims. Looks like He’s gotten his priorities exactly backwards. You’d think the Squad would at least point out that Hitler was defeated in part by a very cold winter, although maybe that shouldn’t count because it was when he was invading Stalin’s country.

In any event, as the Squad itself points out, there’s this problem with its theory:

The Bible does record that the rebels who sought to depose Moses and God were consumed in an earthquake, but just because God used that technique once doesn’t mean that every earthquake is God’s punishment for the wicked. And how could any spiritually sensitive person worship a God who would kill children and other innocents?

Uhhhhhhhhhh . . . isn’t Passover about the slaughter of innocent children? Didn’t God use all sorts of horrible plagues just to tease the virtuous Job? It wasn’t just blasphemous deposing rebels who felt God’s wrath. For Chrisstake, He killed Himself and his perfectly innocent own Son. So He’s used that “technique” over and over; but even if it were only “once” I don’t see why any spiritually sensitive person would trust Him. I mean, Andrea Yates and Susan Smith killed their innocent kids, and no one is saying “Oh, they just used that technique once, let’s put them in charge of daycare centers.” I suppose the key to understanding the Squad’s analysis is this unintended confession of theirs:

What you must remember is that every profession, including the clergy, has its fair share of people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Indeed. Which brings us to the their second answer, to a reader who notes that in Iraq “[t]he hatred among people of different faiths seems insurmountable” and wonders “[a]re we all praying to the same God?” Rather than concede the futility of religious thinking, Squad pretends that “every religion teaches the same set of ethical beliefs”

Round-Up Round-Up

February 18, 2005 | 2 Comments

Intelligent design and medical quackery are some the featured topics at the Skeptic’s Circle round-up hosted this week at Orac Knows.

Read up on creationism, TV psychics, spiritual healing, snippets from Yahoo religion chat rooms and more at the Carnival of the Godless at over at Bora Zivkovic’s Science and Politics blog.

Thinking Nurses

February 16, 2005 | 51 Comments

The Thinking Nurse, an atheist studying to be a learning disability nurse, shares his thoughts on the differences between theistic and humanistic nursing. In particular, he focuses on the argument by a religious nurse that humans should care for one another because they are all created in the image of God:

[One] danger is this question of the

The Jesus Meter

February 15, 2005 | 23 Comments

Mark Giselson of Norwegianity last month employed a Jesus Meter to measure the number of Christ references by the “Northern Alliance” of blogs. Finding that with the exception of Hugh Hewitt and a few others the conservative political sites largely ignored our Lord and Savior, he wondered:

[A]re they just being politically manipulative, talking Jesus once in a while to help keep the coalition in line? If they’re really Christians, why have I never seen any links to religious sites in their blogrolls? Where are the Bible quotes? The Powerline dudes especially have a six-figure readership now — why aren’t they witnessing their faith?

Could it be that it’s difficult to trash talk liberals when Jesus is in the room? Or is Jesus no more relevant to their daily lives than he is to mine?

Captain’s Quarters ranked relatively high Jesus-wise, but Giselson found that after subtracting posts about “The Passion” and the like CQ didn’t seem “terribly obsessed with Jesus.” CQ, predictably, took exception to this “questioning” of his Christianity. Although he rightly objected to Giselson’s methodology (my blog would blow the needle off the meter if mere Jesus-counting was the criteria), I found the rest of his criticism a bit of a cop-out:

[W]hat appears to have escaped Giselson’s notice is that we are political bloggers, not religion bloggers. I’ve some experience with Catholic apologetics, but I don’t find that a topic that interests me enough to write posts on it. I do sometimes write about my faith, when inspired to do so, but mostly I refer people to the Anchoress and to Joe Carter for better work in these areas.

First, at least part of politics is determining religion’s role in government and society, so the distinction between political and faith-based blogging is not always so neat and clean. CQ himself has expressed disapproval of public schools which “abandon any mention of God” and has sniped at the ACLU for forcing the Pentagon to stop sponsoring any Boy Scout group so long as the organization requires a belief in God. One would suppose that if his faith was as important to him as those views suggest, CQ would be highly interested in the supporting details. But instead he sees fit to delegate his thinking to others. With occasional exceptions:

Interestingly, my posts on Mel Gibson directly spoke to matters of faith; I’m not sure why Giselson discounts them out of hand. Perhaps it’s because he never bothered to read them. If he did, he has some comprehension issues that would explain this post.

I, for my part, did read CQ’s posts on Gibson’s brilliant art; did he bother to see the movie? I’ve given at least ten reasons why The Passion is an hideously, unspeakably immoral film (here and here), none of them having to do with its alleged anti-semitism, Gibson’s Holocaust-denying father or the fact that Gibson believes that his own wife is going to hell for being a Protestant. I do, in fact, question that sort of literalist Christianity and I question the sanity of anyone who takes it more seriously than The Wizard of Oz. From CQ’s posts I still haven’t a clue why he believes it. Perhaps Anchoress or Joe Carter can tell me. Once again, CQ refuses to explain:

Why don’t I write more about Christianity and my faith? I don’t think CQ readers will find my insights terribly interesting, for one thing. I also tend to consider my Catholicism as a private matter rather than blog fodder. When I’m inspired, I write about it; otherwise, I leave it to those more inspired than me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t consider myself a practicing Catholic or that my faith doesn’t have much import in my life. I think that point would have been obvious to most people.

I guess the point should have been obvious from his passionate defense of a blood-weeping Madonna statue. Although CQ questioned the fonts in the Rathergate memos, he overcame any skepticism about the crying Virgin. What I don’t understand is why CQ insists such things will bore his readers, or why he isn’t more inspired to write about them — if Colonel Killian had risen from the dead to say that in 1973 he’d used a time machine to get a copy of Microsoft Word 2004, I bet CQ would have squeezed out a few posts on that. I mean, whoa — a blood-weeping Madonna statute. A private matter? It conclusively proves that Catholicism is true and all other religions (and atheism) are false, and it’s a lot clearer a sign than a mere Hiroshima-force Tsunami. If I believed that the statue did what it did it would have a hell of a lot of import in my life — I’d be running around screaming at people to convert, killing them if necessary to save their immortal souls.

Yet CQ is strangely apathetic about it all. He doesn’t seem to care that the Boy Scouts permit belief in any god, or even that they permit disbelief in the Virgin Mother (somehow this watered-down multiculturist syncretist polytheism counts in their favor). And while he opines that “missing the fact that at least one of the three Power Line bloggers is Jewish also demonstrates Giselson’s idiocy,” he never criticizes the idiocy of that Jew Powerliner for denying what the bloody weeping statue so clearly proves. Perhaps this is the reason:

Jesus instructed his followers not to judge the status of others’ souls or faith. That arrogates to man what is God’s alone. When I start a faith-based blog, then perhaps Giselson can gain some insight into my faith and its strength or weakness. Until then, Giselson should remember to put his straw-man dolls away when playing with his keyboard. The confusion obviously overwhelms him.

Now confusion is starting to overwhelm me. Apart from the fact that writing a political blog involves a great deal of judging of one’s fellow man, why does CQ think that Jesus’ instructions might permit a faith-based blog? Aren’t Anchoress and Joe Carter already doing enough arrogation of what is God’s alone? And isn’t that crack about straw man dolls a slap at Santeria?

God Squad Review CXX (Interfaith Marriage)

February 14, 2005 | 70 Comments

A Squad reader who is going to wedding officiated by a rabbi and a priest wants to know about the procedures for interfaith marriages. At first the Squad makes it sound easy, noting that “ceremonies of an ecumenical nature can have clergies from both faiths represented . . . [i]f one member is Jewish, they can be married in a church, a synagogue or hall chapel.” But then come a few inconvenient details:

Most rabbis will not officiate with a priest or in a church. In order for a priest to officiate at an interfaith marriage, the priest must get the Catholic partner to sign an official church document saying that he or she will do his or her best to raise the children Catholic.

The church believes that the children’s religion is so vital that it cannot be overlooked. Almost no rabbis will officiate at a wedding if the couple has decided to raise their children Christian.

So an interfaith couple can get married anywhere; it’s just that almost no one will agree to marry them. My solution: dump your faith and get married by a drunken Elvis impersonator in a Las Vegas whorehouse. It’ll still have more dignity than a ceremony run by cretins who would let religion stand in the way of love.

Speechless, Immobile Pope in Full Control

February 9, 2005 | 47 Comments

The Vatican, February 9, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Questions regarding the Pope John Paul II’s divinity were swept yesterday when a Vatican official revealed that the pontiff could run the billion member Catholic Church “even if he reached the point where he couldn’t speak.”

“It is sufficient that one’s will be expressed, and be expressed in a clear way,” the official, Cardinal Mario Francesco Pompedda, told the newspaper La Stampa. “It can be expressed very well through writing, and in any case can be expressed also with clear and significant gestures.”

The Rev. Miroslav Droszdek, a Polish priest, said he visited John Paul briefly but the pope did not speak.

“Outside of the spoken word there is the language of the heart and the language of faith,” Droszdek said. “It is enough . . . in this way we understand each other.” Droszdek denied speculation that the pope was a lifeless heap of protoplasm being carted around in a wheelbarrow. “And even were that the case,” Droszdek said, “his Holiness could communicate through smoke signals formed by the fumes arising from his decomposing body.”

Insofar as his advanced Parkinson’s disease renders writing impossible, Vatican observers predict that the Pope will dictate the Church’s far-reaching social policies and manage its vast financial holdings through significant gesturing and heart language. “The ability to govern such complex matters through grunts, wheezes and cardiac palpitations requires supernatural powers of encryption,” said Droszdek. Nevertheless, Droszdek noted that on off days the pope delegates some duties to the Holy Mother, whose image forms in the puddles of urine collecting beneath his throne.

God Squad Review CXIX (Catholic/Lutheran Conversion)

February 7, 2005 | 33 Comments

A mother whose daughter married a Lutheran in a Lutheran Church boycotted the wedding and has had no contact with her child, son-in-law or their baby. The Squad tells the concerned friend who wrote in about this situation that the mother is going too far:

We support continuing the faith traditions we inherit, but there comes a time when our children must make their own faith decisions. We don’t have to support those decisions, but in our opposition we must never foreclose the opportunity for love and forgiveness.

This woman has serious control issues that go way beyond her religious disagreements with Lutherans. It’s past time for her to forgive her daughter and re-create a true family nearly broken. Especially with a new grandchild, she ought to realize that it is not her role to judge but to be loving and compassionate.

How does the Squad know that the mother is acting out of “control issues” rather than pure religious conviction? After all, God Himself must take the difference between Catholicism or Lutheranism very seriously, and know which is true and which is false. If the daughter’s conversion is wrong enough to require “forgiveness” it’s clearly heresy. And certainly, God doesn’t believe that people should continue false faith traditions, or that everyone should make “their own faith decisions” if they’re the decisions that get them roasted on an eternal spit.

Nailed

February 6, 2005 | 152 Comments

If you went up to Jesus when he was nailed to the cross and asked “Are you a hero?”, would he say yes or some modest shit like “oh no no no no I’m just doing my job.”

Carnival of the Godless #2

February 6, 2005 | 3 Comments

Carnival of the Godless #2 is up at Prof. PZ Myer’s Phayngula. He’s excerpted sample quotes for those of you who are short of time or attention span.

The Skeptics’ Circle has debuted at Saint Nate’s Blogs.

Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

February 4, 2005 | 17 Comments

This classic dialogue from last night’s Happy Days 30th anniversary special got a big laugh:

Fonzie: “My new girlfriend is a virgin.”
Richie: “How do you know?”
Fonzie: “She told me.”
Richie: “How do you know she’s telling the truth?”
Fonzie: “Virgins don’t lie!”

Thousands of years of theology have been built on the same silly routine (see Proof No. 287), but few people ever get the joke.

Kabbalacaust

February 3, 2005 | 7 Comments

The Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by rejecting Kabbalah, says a senior figure in of the Kabbalah Centre — a sect patronized by Madonna and Demi Moore. This outraged Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, a “genuine” Kabbalah scholar who considers the Centre to be a cult. But Schochet doesn’t explain why he believes the Centre’s explanation to be wrong, or offer his own theory about the true causes of the Holocaust or God’s role therein. Instead, he launches an ad hominen attack against the Centre for its alleged exploitation of the rich and the vulnerable. True as that may all be, it’s perfectly irrelevant to the question posed.

I couldn’t find any of Rabbi Schochet’s thoughts on the Holocaust online. But he does post some of his wisdom on Kabbala Online.Org. There, he explains why true Jewish mysticism can never be “mumbo jumbo” or a cult:

It is not speculative philosophy based on human insight nor theories derived from human reasoning. It is a study, as it were, of Divinity and of the relationship between G-d and His Creation, based on the premises of revealed truth.

“Revealed truth” being, of course, the Torah. So abandon your human insight, experience and reasoning in favor of a book chock full of stories about God’s vengeance and genocide. Maybe the Rabbi’s right after all — the Holocaust wasn’t caused by the rejection of Kabbalah.

Singing in the Shower

February 2, 2005 | 55 Comments

No singing in the shower, cautions a leading Rabbi. Mordechai Eliahu, former leader of Israel’s Sephardic Jews, says that it’s okay to hum as long as you do it without a word of Hebrew crossing your mind — but God gets angry if He hears the holy language sullied by use in the bathroom.

Wonder if that’s why He pumped poison gas into the showers of Auschwitz?

Damn — I hate it when a perfectly good post goes so bad so suddenly, especially if it’s in a Holocaust-trivializing way. Deep down I know it’s wrong to make light of the subject, unless it’s in that Springtime for Hitler number from The Producers or on reruns of Hogan’s Heroes or that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry made out with his girlfriend during a screening of Schindler’s List. So if you’re one of my countless concentration camp-surviving readers, I’m sorry, and you can leave me to peruse these more respectful links on last week’s Auschwitz-liberation memorials.

For the rest of you, I’ll try to make it up by exploring some of the serious theological explanations for the Holocaust. Let’s start with this sobering perspective:

God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. The creator of the universe is smart, as is shown in the works of his creation. With this mindset the Holocaust, probably the most horrible human tragedy, is put into perspective. “His thoughts are not our thoughts.” Maybe “our priorities are not His priorities” would be a better way of stating the previous statement. Much lasting good has been brought about by the Holocaust. It is known by many people that we learn, we become better, and we experience good by going through the crucible of suffering, and I will give only a few of the examples of this. Because of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is being removed from the church, i.e. the world-wide body of believers of Jesus, and its theology. Another example of good that has come out of the Holocaust would be the establishment of Israel.

Lest you get the wrong idea, this doesn’t mean that God planned the Holocaust as a teaching moment — as the writer later makes clear. The fault ultimately lies with humans, who God gave the free will to chose good or evil. As Governor Pataki suggested, Germany could have prevented the Holocaust by choosing to enact hate-crime legislation similar to the bill he signed in New York. But depriving them of their free will to do bad would not have been a solution; Hitler would not have been fully human, and would we really want to live in a world where the Nazis were just mindless robots who had no choice but to do good things like pet kittens and plant flowers?

Nor can God be blamed for “allowing” the Holocaust. He gave the Jews many warnings about it in the Bible, and the opportunity to avoid it by obeying his law. As the Ultra-Orthodox Jews know, the Holocaust was righteous and just punishment for the scandalous and disrespectful conduct of the Reform and Conservative Jews, and the Zionists.

Hmmm. On second thought, don’t sing in the shower.

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