The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2005 October

God Squad Review CXLVII (Honoring a Rapist)

October 31, 2005 | 55 Comments

Must a daughter always honor her father, even if he’s a scumbag? A reader challenges the Squad’s recent support for the Fifth (or sometimes Fourth) Commandment, noting that she “spent a lifetime growing up being degraded, called vile names, beat up so badly [she] had welts all over [her] body and sexually violated over a period of years.” In a meandering, awkwardly-worded answer, the Squad goes on the defensive — but never really addresses whether there are exceptions to God’s perfect laws:

Sexual abuse by anyone is wrong. When people in the church abused others, they were wrong. When your father abused you, he was wrong.

When you say you had a distant relationship with your father while he was alive, we applaud you because to do other than that would have put you right in the boxing arena. His jabs, physical, emotional and sexual abuse cannot be tolerated in our society.

In recent years, we’ve come to realize how widespread such abuse is, and even the church had to face its own sinfulness in this area. People like yourself do a great service by sharing your stories. So many people can relate to your experience. The good news is that you and many others are doing something about it. You’re not just a “whistle blower”; you’re trying to save humanity.

Now that your father is dead, he can only hurt you emotionally. May you find grace to acknowledge his wrongdoing, move away from any relationship that would lead to abuse, and set out, with the help of counseling and spiritual direction, to live as whole a life as you can.

What, exactly, is the moral of this answer? Note that the Squad immediately introduces the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, without any explanation of its relevance to the reader’s problem. Are they suggesting that people maintain a “distant relationship” with the Church as well? If so, where are they supposed to get the “spiritual direction?” And what’s with the analogy to a “boxing arena” — is father-daughter rape a regular part of that sport?

I’m also creeped out by their suggestion that she “find the grace to acknowledge his wrongdoing.” The phraseology is more than a bit odd. Usually, one “finds the grace” to forgive someone, after that person has acknowledged his own wrongdoing. What does “grace” have to do with realizing it was bad that daddy raped you? Is that revelation some sort of gift from God?

Say It Ain’t So

October 28, 2005 | 3 Comments

A truly shocking revelation in today’s edition of Editor & Publisher, America’s Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry:


Similar Themes in Many Rosa Parks Cartoons

Sometimes, editorial cartoonists take a predictably similar approach to a subject.

That was the case with cartoons paying tribute to civil rights legend Rosa Parks, who died Monday. Daryl Cagle’s blog (http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/blog/) posted 10 of these cartoons — all showing Parks boarding a bus to heaven and/or getting to sit in front of that heavenly bus.

“In the world of editorial cartooning, there exists no greater visual metaphor or device than the ‘Pearly Gates’ cartoon,” wrote Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune editorial cartoonist Mike Lester in a note posted with the cartoons. “Actually, it’s not an editorial cartoon at all. It’s a greeting card.”

Lester, who’s syndicated by Cagle Cartoons, added that the day Parks died he correctly predicted to his editor that many cartoonists would do drawings involving the “Pearly Gates,” a bus, and a quote that went something like: “Come on in, Rosa. We’ve got a seat right up front.”

Positively omniscient, that Lester guy. Just like Jean-Paul Fastidious. Of course, things have gotten easier to predict since they passed the new standards.

Invisible Pink Unicorn Decries “Cult” of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism

October 28, 2005 | 27 Comments

New York, New York, October 27, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

The Invisible Pink Unicorn — the world’s oldest and most respected parody deity — has denounced Flying Spaghetti Monsterism as a “cult.”

“Mainline philosophical atheism has being cheapened by the introduction of this recent, imperfect analogy,” said the IPU. “Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is a commercial fad which exploits the needs of the non-gulllible for quick and easy ridicule of religion.”

The IPU noted that the FSM is visible, rendering impossible mockery of the theistic argument that God’s elusiveness proves His existence. “Countless Christians have fallen into the trap of arguing that absence of evidence for me is evidence of my absence, only to realize, too late, that the same standard vanquishes their own phantom God,” she said. “But they can just point to pictures of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and say “that’s ridiculous.'”

The IPU also touted her own long intellectual pedigree, noting that she was painstakingly developed by bearded engineering graduate students at infidels.org. “The Spaghetti Monster, however, was cooked up in a couple of minutes by a lone crank in an angry letter to a Kansas school board, a document which proves he was just made up.” In contrast, the IPU’s origins are mysterious, clouded in the murky pre-history of internet usenet boards.

Last Stop, Heaven

October 27, 2005 | 24 Comments

One of the advantages of dying — at least in the obituary cartoon universe — is that you get to spend the afterlife reliving the moment of your greatest triumph. But what if you’re Rosa Parks, and your moment consisted of an acrimonious confrontation with a racist white man over a bus seat? Apparently the script gets re-written a bit:

ParksBusFront.gif

parksfront2.gif

Parksanywhere.gif

While it’s certainly nice of God to maintain an all-Caucasian workforce at heaven’s bus company, it might not be authentic enough for Rosa’s taste. Remember, her problem wasn’t getting a seat at the front of an empty bus — it was keeping it once the bus filled up with members of the master race. Being chauffeured around in a private coach doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. Perhaps the drivers will drop the friendly facades and start hurling nasty epithets at her, but they seem too happy to do so. Or maybe they’re smiling because they know the bus will eventually start plummeting down through the clouds, and Rosa doesn’t have any wings.

Or maybe she does:

ParksWings.gif

Which makes you wonder why she needs the bus at all. Apparently this cartoonist thinks it’s so she can make a living:

parksdriver.jpg

And I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. is serving coffee at the Woolworth lunch counter. At least their boss is someone they respect:

ParksJesusFinal.gif

God Proves Existence to Little Girl by Only Partially Destroying her Life

October 26, 2005 | 38 Comments

New York, New York, October 26, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

A little girl who lost a cat, a dog, a DVD player and a Nintendo GameCube in a burglary perpetrated while her family was at Sunday services has had her faith restored — the dog was returned two years later with a crippling back injury!

According to the New York Post, a beagle stolen from eleven year old Gisselle Robles was reunited with her on October 10th after an animal shelter identified the dog by a microchip implanted under its skin.

“All the time, [Gisselle] was praying for her to return,” said mom Jacqueline Robles. “When she held the dog, she said, ‘Mommy, now I know God lives.'”

God said that it was the least He could do, given that the Robles were out worshipping Him when their home was invaded, ransacked and looted by crack addicts. “I would have returned the cat, too, but I thought it would make a good meal for some of the Asian Tsunami survivors,” He added. “Plus, it went brain-dead after I smashed its skull against the dog’s back.” God promised to give back the DVD player and Nintendo game once the Gaede twins grow bored with them.

Reading Between the Headlines

October 25, 2005 | 14 Comments

An Associated Press reporter lets his politics show:

Judge leaves things as they are for now in fetus custody fight.

Actually, the fight is over the custody of a baby. Pennsylvania child welfare authorities want to place the boy in foster care because the father is a convicted sex offender believed to have sodomized his own daughter, and the mother is alleged to be a coke and meth abusing prostitute. The mother is eight months and some weeks pregnant, and the court has issued an order requiring her to notify the agency within 24 hours after her son is born.

So why does the headline label this a fetus custody fight? The dispute is over the fitness of the parents. The state isn’t planning to pin the woman down and rip the kid out of her uterus. That would be an “abortion.”

Which is what the headline is really about. In the world of pro-choice politics, it’s forbidden to talk about the future in a normal way if a fetus is involved. It’s bad manners to assign the clump of cells any name that would detract from its abortability. Perhaps it’s the reporter’s preferred solution to this unfortunate situation — but as far as I can tell none of the parties involved has even remotely suggested that alternative.

A Modest Proposal

October 24, 2005 | 64 Comments

Cenk Uygur over at the Huffington Post has an interesting theory about Christians, Jews and Muslims. They’re wrong. Fortunately, he sugarcoats his thesis for easy swallowing:

I know most of you don’t actually read your religious texts, and when you do, you assiduously try to avoid the parts that make no sense whatsoever or hide underneath the comforting grasp of your religious leaders who have concocted a bunch of circular logic (a crime to even use that word in regards to Christianity, Islam or Judaism) to shield you from the obvious folly of the written text.

So, I’m not calling you stupid if you haven’t really read the material. And I know how powerful brainwashing is. We all received it when we were young and it is exceedingly difficult to break its grasp. But people dance around the issue out of politeness because they don’t want to call you what you are — ignorant.

There are a lot of people I love dearly and respect wholeheartedly who believe in religion. I hate to do this to them. But we have killed far too many people, wasted far too much time on this nonsense for us to keep going in this direction for fear of offense.

Jesus was a lunatic. God is not coming to your rescue. He hasn’t come to anyone’s rescue in thousands of years, including Jesus. Mohammed was a power hungry, scam artist and ruthless conqueror. Moses and Abraham were figments of the imagination of some long dead rabbi. He would probably laugh his ass off at all of you who still believe the fairytales he made up thousands of years ago. He probably wouldn’t even believe it if you told him.

Did I mention Judaism? The chosen people? Come on, get off it. People walk around in clothes from 18th century Russia, thinking they have been chosen by God when they look like a bunch of jackasses. I’m tired of all the deaths because we did not want to give offense. Orthodox Jews are wrong and ridiculous.

Commenter Rhett, however, has seen through this conservative strategy:


Guess what Cenk — I’m a progressive Democrat and a believing Muslim! My faith informs my attitudes toward social justice, equality and compassion for the weak. Attacking people of faith is a losing proposition, since human beings will be revering Moses, Jesus and Muhammad long after you’ve been forgotten by history. It is the ignorant and bigoted attitudes like these by some atheists on the Left that drives people of faith into the arms of the Republicans.

Over 250 comments and counting . . . go joint the fun!

[Link courtesy of Jennifer]

God Squad Review CXLVI (Meeting Loved Ones in Heaven/Pascal’s Wager)

October 24, 2005 | 8 Comments

Do we meet our loved ones in Heaven? An 81 year old who “question[s] everything” because of his engineering background wants to know, among other things, how the Squad would vote on that issue. After expressing their certainty that there is an afterlife, the Squad provides an answer you could spend an eternity trying to decipher:

As to whether we meet our relatives in heaven, Tom votes 10 [absolutely believes it], and Marc votes 8. The question is whether our souls rise into heaven like people in an elevator or like a drop of water falls into the ocean.

Tommy votes for the elevator and Marc votes for the ocean, but then it could be like an elevator in an ocean! The big issue is whether or not our souls are recycled through reincarnation, placed into the bodies of newborn babies to live again and try to get a better spiritual score. If that’s not true, and this life is our only life (until the end of days and the resurrection of the dead), then there’s no need for our souls to remain distinct after death. If our souls are reused, then they must remain distinct, and so it’s likely they would have some free time to check in with Grandpa Mike.

When reincarnation became “the big issue” for this Judeo-Christian duo I don’t know. But it seems to me that the implications of their theory would be the opposite of what they suggest. The soul that remained the same person through a single existence would more likely enter heaven in a distinct form. A soul that becomes, successively, a medieval serf, a Wild West cowboy and then Adolph Hitler would have to be fungible and generic rather than distinct; the distinctness is lost by “reuse.” And who, exactly, would have the free time to check in with Grandpa Mike? The surf, the cowboy or Hitler? What if Grandpa Mike was reincarnated as grandson Billy? Would he visit himself in heaven? The only thing more nonsensical than their analysis is their concluding suggestion:

In any event, if you’re into calculations and odds, why not follow Pascal’s Wager, in which you believe because if there is a God, you’ve bet on the right team, and if there is no God or heaven, it doesn’t matter, anyway, because after death, it’s just you and the worms.

I won’t delve to all of the flaws of the wager (see here for the short list), but one of the most basic problems is that there are multiple possibilities for the afterlife and betting on a God isn’t so safe if you bet on the wrong one. The Squad doesn’t instruct its readers on whether to bet on reincarnation, but the ones who reject it may run into a very, very angry Shiva when they die.

Movabletype Upgrade

October 20, 2005 | 6 Comments

Upgrading to the latest and greatest Movabletype!

I’m aware things are a little screwy. The comments will work, they just don’t look pretty yet.

-Chris

Eat This

October 20, 2005 | 18 Comments

If you want a Kosher meal in prison, all you have to do is say you

Cats, Dogs and Whores

October 19, 2005 | 10 Comments

Pointy-headed academics scoffed when George W. Bush identified Jesus as his favorite

Logic Behind Bars

October 19, 2005 | 21 Comments

A court ruling that that atheist inmates at a Wisconsin prison have the right to meet as a study group spurred Newsday to question its godless readers whether, as the court ruled, atheism is a religion. (For some unexplained reason all of the respondents are retirees between the ages of 65 and 77, but that

Religious Display Celebrates Historical Importance of Unconstitutional Religious Displays

October 18, 2005 | 22 Comments

Babylon, New York, October 18, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

A Long Island official who hung two banners proclaiming

Another World

October 17, 2005 | 4 Comments

There’s another world just waiting up ahead
So you just drive Mr Baylis
Don’t you worry ’bout the weather
I asked the rain to hold off
and so far it looks just fine

Kasey Chambers, Mr. Baylis, 2000

God Squad Review CXLV (Rebellious Children)

October 17, 2005 | 161 Comments

How does God want us to deal with smart-assed college kids? A father asks the Squad what to do about his once

Out of the Cave

October 14, 2005 | 62 Comments

Kill the Before Life

October 13, 2005 | 20 Comments

[I]f my Mom was unable to have raised me right and provided for me adequately, I would definitely have wanted her to abort me.

AK in Comments section to Permutations post

Permutations

October 13, 2005 | 222 Comments

Atheists are generally speaking liberal (or at least libertarian) on social issues, but there

Enough

October 12, 2005 | 4 Comments

Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.

Thorton Wilder, Our Town, 1938

It Takes a Village

October 12, 2005 | 9 Comments

YE young debaters over the doctrine
Of the soul

Animal Crackpots

October 11, 2005 | 17 Comments

American Hindus Against Defamation once bullied a couple of companies out of putting the elephant-headed God Ganesh on sandals and toilets, and is currently working on taking the Trunked One off of underpants. One interesting aspect of their advocacy is that they only seem to pursue inadvertent slights to the deity. You won

She Asked for It

October 10, 2005 | 17 Comments

Lauren of Feministe is up to her usual misandrist, racist, anti-capitalist, whinin

Rapturous

October 10, 2005 | 13 Comments

The online theology quiz Battleground God stirred up some controversy a couple of years ago, with many test-takers objecting to flaws and inconsistencies in the grading methodology. The spiritual health quiz offered by Rapture Ready, however, employs more straightforward criteria. Plus, most atheists get to meet Isaac Asimov in two easy clicks.

[Link courtesy of Prayer Tulip]

Nearer My God

October 10, 2005 | 10 Comments

Science has not discredited religious faith. Christianity is as viable in the post-Einstein world as when it first caught fire in the West, the stupor mundi that transformed two millennia of men and women who acknowledged God as the generator of human activity at its noblest, from the earliest martyr to Martin Luther King.

William F. Buckley, Jr., Nearer My God, 1997

God Squad Review CXLIV (Flirting with Islam)

October 10, 2005 | 5 Comments

Rabbi Marc Gelman, the Squad

Exploding Python Casts Doubt on Divine Omnipotence

October 9, 2005 | 10 Comments

The Everglades, Florida, October 9, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

An incident in which a python exploded after eating an alligator has raised concerns about God

Buy & Sell

October 8, 2005 | 14 Comments

Here

Setting an Example

October 7, 2005 | 24 Comments

There

Literally Speaking

October 6, 2005 | 14 Comments

We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision . . . We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.

Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, The Gift of Scripture,, 2005

[via Bill the Giraffe]

Teaching The Controversy

October 6, 2005 | 491 Comments

[The Raving Atheist welcomes frequent commenter A Different Tim as today’s guest poster].

If I may break in to the general round of recrimination and abuse that we all visit TRA for . . .

As I write, a rerun of the Scopes monkey trial is being held that could determine what your children are taught at school, and may make a laughing stock of American education. I

And Now for Something Completely Different (Updated)

October 5, 2005 | 45 Comments

Having reflected on the matter at length, I am deeply ashamed of myseries of posts last week attacking the religion of Jill of Feministe. My conduct was disrespectful, uncivil, and completely unworthy of this blog. Devotion to God is indeed a deeply personal matter — and regardless of its perceived inconsistencies, faith is something that no decent person should mock.

So from now on, Jill can jibber-jabber like a brain-fried, hopped-up, pop-eyed God-monkey on crack and I won

Manhattan D.A.: Jewish Holidays a Big Joke

October 4, 2005 | 4 Comments

New York, New York, October 5, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

In the course of responding to the news that former Tyco executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz had been denied release pending appeal, New York City

Historicity

October 4, 2005 | 142 Comments

Is the Bible historicical?

Premium Pricing Popularizes Jewish Holy Days

October 4, 2005 | 4 Comments

New York, New York, October 5, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Seeking to imbue Judaism with the prestige of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, synagogues have a adopted a premium pricing strategy which has sent High Holy Day ticket prices skyrocketing.

Synagogues now charge hundreds of dollars for tickets to attend services for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, called the High Holy Days because they are among the most sacred in the Jewish calendar. Choice front-row seats now sell for as much as $360, compared with $150-$250 for their Christian counterparts at Radio City.

The expense of participating has become a simmering issue within the Jewish community. The National Jewish Outreach Program, a nonprofit that aims to provide basic religious education to Jews so they remain within the community, said its research on the impact of the costly tickets revealed that they were a turnoff and should be reconsidered.

But congregational leaders dismiss charges that ruthless price-gouging gives Judaism a bad name.

Humor

October 3, 2005 | 91 Comments

Why is a person’s sense of humour almost always in direct, inverse proportion to the strength of their religious belief? ( or, to put it another way, “Why are Christians miserable?”)

Submitted by Bill the Giraffe

Violent

October 3, 2005 | 10 Comments

Men are, without exception, disgusting, vile, uncouth, sickening bastards.

Viole, Castrate All the Little Boys, 2005

More On

October 3, 2005 | 219 Comments

More on Why Would a Homosexual Want to Join the Church? over at The Dawn Patrol, with analysis by Dawn, Lauren, me and others in the comments.

You can be mean here, but be nice there or she’ll delete your comments and I’ll stop linking to stuff like this anymore.

And don’t pretend you don’t know the difference between mean and nice.

God Squad Review CXLIII (Treating Obesity)

October 3, 2005 | 10 Comments

A 350 pound woman who was recently widowed has abandoned church and complains to her friend that

Insanity

October 2, 2005 | 8 Comments

How is criticizing and attacking insanity any better than being attacked for a lack of insanity?

Asked by The Raving Atheist, in comment to The Raving Atheist

Oink Oink

October 1, 2005 | 26 Comments

Feministe celebrates the life of Constance Baker Motley, the first black woman to become a federal judge. She was a close friend and contemporary of civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, visiting them in jail, serving as their lawyer, and she was the guest speaker at the 1965 Southern Christian Leadership Conference founded by the two men.

Just a hunch here, but . . .

The civil rights leaders of Motley

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