The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2009 January

Daily Headline

January 30, 2009 | 131 Comments


Daily Headline

January 29, 2009 | 15 Comments


Front Royal, Virginia, January 29, 2009
Special to The Raving Theist

Baby care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has merged with Planned Parenthood, forming a partnership that will cater to the nation’s higher-quality infant stock.

Johnson & Johnson had funded the abortion provider for years. Corporate spokesperson Kirsten Chirper said the merger reflected J&J’s commitment to “upscale parents who have put as much thought into producing their children as we have into designing our products.”

The new entity, J&J&P&P, will sell Johnson’s Wanted Baby Oil in selected markets. “Wanted babies born into loving, affluent families deserve a healthy glow that says ‘I was intended,'” said Chirper.

J&J&P&P will continue its Unwanted Baby Oil line until June 30, 2009. “While we understand that some parents bear the legal obligation to care for end-products of unintended pregnancies that they can never love, J&J&P&P has the responsibility as a corporate citizen to discourage such unfortunate mistakes,” Chirper explained. The company’s program under which baby oil bottle caps can be redeemed for $.25 apiece toward the purchaser’s next abortion will continue until the end of the year.

Compare and Contrast

January 28, 2009 | 62 Comments

Alfred Hitchcock never said that all actors are cattle; what he said was that all actors should be treated like cattle. I feel the same way about the implication that I have called President Obama a filthy, disease-ridden cockroach. I certainly did not. I said that he acted like a filthy, disease-ridden cockroach.

How else to describe his conduct in signing the executive order to fund overseas abortions? Recall that Obama received the enthusiastic support of every pro-abortion organization and promised that the first thing he’d do in office was to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. Recall that Obama celebrated his election with NARAL head Nancy Keenan. Recall that Obama has packed his staff with members of the abortion lobby. So one would think that when the time came to sign the first big pro-choice order, the President would proudly march on to the front lawn of the White House surrounded by cheering throngs of abortion lobby officials and sign a blow-up of the order with a giant pen at high noon.

But what did he do? He scheduled the signing for a late Friday afternoon. He barred the media from the signing ceremony. The actual the text of the directive was not released until three hours later, after Obama had fled from the room.

When cockroaches wallow in filth, they like it quiet and they like it dark. They don’t like people to see what they’re doing, and disappear when the lights go on. All you see after they scurry away is their disease-ridden droppings. So I repeat: President Obama acted like a filthy, disease-ridden cockroach. The description is a behavioral one, not a genetic one. If you are looking for a genetic comparison, the best one would be between Obama and his fetus.

Some of you have decried my comparison as racist. I am well familiar with this tactic because it was the favorite of the Obama campaign in deflecting any criticism of his policies, while it simultaneously promoted the candidates’ skin tone as one of the prime reasons for electing him. It won’t work here. So scurry away.

Daily Headline

January 27, 2009 | 203 Comments

Washington, D.C., January 27, 2009
Special to The Raving Theist

First Lady Michelle Obama will bring her considerable charm, poise and wit to champion the cause dearest to her heart: abortion.

A staunch supporter of partial birth abortion, the President’s wife has vowed promote family values by encouraging the killing of unborn human life at every stage of development.

Cashmere-lined green leather gloves from J.Crew smartly accessorized Mrs. Obama’s blood-speckled scrubs as she stood in the waiting room of an inner city abortion mill and vowed that no woman would ever suffer the “punishment” of an unwanted child.

The First Lady said that she would lead by example by volunteering every week as a patient escort, counselor, cashier or fetal parts counter. She further proposed a national partnership between the Girl Scouts and the National Abortion Federation to insure that no baby ever be born into a broken home like that endured by her husband.

“Whether she is transported over state lines by a caring aunt, an indifferent 42-year old boyfriend or a fugitive stepfather, every terrified 16 year-old girl needs someone to curtly grunt directions to the abortion room,” said Mrs. Obama. “And the most traumatic and confusing moment of her life should not be complicated by the burden of having to count out $250-$1,500 in small bills all by herself.”

Pausing to flick a clump of fallen plaster off her forest-green Jimmy Choo pumps, Mrs. Obama then gracefully scurried down a dark alley way like a fashionably-dressed, filthy, disease-ridden cockroach.


January 26, 2009 | 25 Comments

Atheist Trina Hoaks of the Atheism Examiner provides some balanced but oddly-worded commentary on Obama’s executive order rescinding restrictions on the funding of overseas abortions:

Although I realize that there will be believers and non-believers alike who will be disturbed by an Executive Order signed late today, I imagine certain Christian groups will be beside themselves. Certain liberal groups, however, will be overjoyed.

The Executive Order I am referring to is the one that reverses Bush’s order to
deny government funding of international groups that distribute abortion
information or perform abortions.

According to an Associated Press report on Yahoo! News, Bill Burton, a White House spokesperson, said, “Obama signed the executive order, without coverage by the media, late on Friday afternoon.”

Bush’s policy has long been criticized for its exclusionary nature. By denying
aid to agencies that offer abortions (and in some cases only offer information
thereof) some believe we have denied much needed monies to agencies that
provide other important services as well.

On the other side of the issue, people who are anti-abortion did not want
their tax dollars being spent on something they deem to be fundamentally

Being one of those shy, controversy-hating militant atheists, Hoaks herself does not express an opinion on the underlying abortion issue. But the mere act of posting about the topic on an atheist blog signals her belief that there’s some religious “problem” that needs to be addressed. It’s hard to pin down, however, exactly what she believes the problem to be.

Her opening words declare that both atheists and believers may be “disturbed” by Obama’s abortion-friendly edict. But before that sentence ends, we’re advised that a particular subset of the believers — Christians — will be “beside themselves.” The implication seems to be that opposition to abortion is rational and secular up to the point where the practice is mildly upsetting to the opposer, but irrational and religious (in a way only “certain Christian groups” can be) to the extent that the opposer becomes outraged by the killing.

Perhaps I am reading to much into Hoak’s words. In particular, maybe she does not attribute any irrationality to the state of being “beside” oneself. After all, atheists reach that level of emotion regarding any number of issues, and when they do, their anger is righteous rather than just plain old crazy. For all I know, Hoaks may be beside herself that the liberals are overjoyed.

Still, I am wondering why Hoaks’ dichotomy went from believers and non-believers in the first sentence, to “Christian groups” and “liberal groups” by the second. Why not continue the parallelism and say that “certain atheist groups” or “certain non-Christian” groups, are overjoyed? Certainly, there are at at least some atheists who believe that pro-choice policy is somehow derivative of atheism, and that “‘life begins at conception’ is a misogynist statement” that inevitably drives its adherents to religion.

Whether Hoaks falls into that group I cannot say. Probably not, as people who think that way tend to say so. More than likely, she is just disturbed.

Daily Headline

January 24, 2009 | 134 Comments


Washington, D.C., January 24, 2009
Special to The Raving Theist

President Obama ended the divisive national debate on abortion yesterday, declaring that “common ground” could be found in abortion industry-approved platitudes about finding common ground.

Obama stated that he had no desire to continue the “stale and fruitless” debate about rendering women fruitless by killing human beings in utero. Instead, the President Obama offered a “fresh conversation on family planning” consisting of cobbled-together snippets from thirty years of Planned Parenthood and NARAL press releases.

The administration’s new approach will consist of tracking down whatever impressionable pre-teens and adolescents have not yet figured out what a condom is despite unlimited internet access and 200 cable channels, and then discouraging them from having sex by educating them about every conceivable sex practice just in case they do, and giving them condoms.

Obama also ended the politicization of abortion by signing an executive order to release billions of taxpayer dollars to fund millions of abortions overseas. Although the President has allowed all other important signing ceremonies to be photographed, and the New York Times even published a front-page photograph of photographers photographing the Presidential pen, the press was barred from the abortion-order signing ceremony. Instead, the President signed the measure in a darkened room late Friday afternoon after the close of the week’s news cycle, quickly scurrying away like a filthy, disease-ridden cockroach.

Daily Headline

January 23, 2009 | 57 Comments


London, England, January 23, 2009
Special toThe Raving Theist

Citing the impossibility of having direct, immediate experience of another person’s consciousness, a group of solipsists is running ads on buses declaring “There Are Probably No Other Minds . . . Now Stopping Worrying and Enjoy Your Hallucinations.”

The campaign is the brainchild of Richard Dawkins, author of the self-published “The You Delusion.”

Dawkins said he got the idea from his life-long study of atheism. “Once I realized there was no proof of a higher intelligence in the universe, it struck me as a colossal leap of faith to believe that there were any other minds out there besides my own,” he said. “All of my experience of ‘them,’ however real it may seem, occurs exclusively in my head, and the fact that ‘they’ appear to exhibit signs of self-awareness similar to my own is simply another part of the same personal, subjective phenomenon.”

Dawkins added that he had long suspected that the sinful, chattering idiots by whom he found himself surrounded were too stupid to be real. He nevertheless expressed a certain affection for the amusing, imaginary creatures, even when they were bad. “Having brought them into being by the force of my will, I feel a strong, fatherly, near-infinite love for those whom I have made in my image.”

Rush to Judgment

January 22, 2009 | 56 Comments

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was asked by a major print organization to offer 400 words on his hope for the Obama presidency. His reaction:

I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, “Well I hope he succeeds. We’ve got to give him a chance.” So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, okay I’ll send you a response but I don’t need 400 words. I need four. I hope he fails.

Limbaugh further explained, “I’ve been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don’t want them to succeed.” MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, however, found this lack of support unacceptable and unprecedented:

[D]oes Rush Limbaugh hate this country? Wait till you hear what he said about the new president. He wants him to fail. What an amazing . . . I’ve never heard anybody say they wanted a new president to fail. Usually you want the new president to succeed and then later on you argue the politics of what he or she does. But to want them to fail at the outset? What’s that about?

Matthews may be confusing a presidency with a bachelor party. At a bachelor party, the participants may get drunk and give the groom their unqualified support in whatever he want to do, even if it’s a naked rampage through town. And later on — once sober and if they remember — they might argue the “politics” (i.e. propriety) of what was done.

With a presidency, however, the politics of what’s done usually gets discussed up front. The policies the President places on the table form the basis for decision on whether one wishes that he or she succeeds in carrying them out. One doesn’t just cheerlead without paying attention to the laws that are being proposed, and then read and evaluate them only after they’re enacted. It’s surprising that Matthews, with his prior Congressional experience, doesn’t understand this.

There is one sense in which Matthews’ opinion might make sense. For example, one might hope that President fails in reviving the economy, because that would make him popular and give him leverage to enact various social policies with which one disagrees. But as Limbaugh makes clear, he wasn’t rooting against the success of the economy, but merely against the success of policies which he believes will further hurt the economy.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses After Sunset

January 22, 2009 | 11 Comments

There, the title is my excuse for posting this picture that I took in a railroad parking lot tonight:


From some quick Googling, it looks like I’m just the second person who thought the sign was funny enough to post.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly where the joke lies. At first I assumed that the temporal restriction on committing the crime (“after sunset”) was the key. Even funnier would be “No Shoplifting After Sunset.” But then I thought that “No Loitering Afer Sunset” almost makes sense, and certainly “No Parking After Sunset” does.

So is it the “No?” After all, a “No Murdering” sign would be hilarious, sunset or not. There’s something comical about being reminded not to do what you so obviously shouldn’t, at least by a sign. (Being reminded by a stone tablet, or a statute, is a different story). But if that’s the case, why isn’t “No Trespassing” funny all by itself? Trespassing is definitionally a crime, so prefacing it with “No” should make it as funny as murder. But it just doesn’t, any more than “No Jaywalking.”

That leaves only the “Trespassing.” And indeed, a “Trespassing” sign (or “Trespassing Allowed” sign) would be laughable. Crime may not pay, but sometimes it’s pretty amusing.

A Prayer for Justice

January 21, 2009 | 172 Comments

My inauguration tribute to our new President was interpreted by some as uncharitably unChristian. I believe much of the confusion lies with my expressed hope that he be driven from office in scandal. Let me clarify what I meant. I do not hope that he will be “led into temptation” to commit some future wrongdoing that will precipitate his downfall. Of course I hope that he will go forth and sin no more. I do not wish him to commit additional crimes anymore than I wish his friends Governor Blagovich and Bill Ayers to do so.

But my expectations in that regard are quite low. Precisely because of my fears, I am praying that he will first be destroyed by some newly-surfacing evil from his past. It is a call for simple justice, justice that will prevent future injustices. Justice of the sort that stopped the President’s closest ideological soulmates, Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards, from further polluting our politics with their poison.

I reject the notion that I should declare my loyalty, reserve judgment and wish the new President success. Apart from running a career and campaign founded on deceit and a contempt for life, nearly every significant act he has taken since the election has the taint of corruption. He is vigorously and shamelessly promoting a tax evader for Secretary of the Treasury, an undertaking that even the degenerate editorial board of the New York Times finds disturbing. He is pushing for the appointment of an unaccomplished and inarticulate political heiress as Senator of New York. These are not selections based upon “the content of the their character” or any other form of merit. His choices degrade the very legacy he so cynically pretends to fulfill.

UPDATE: My commenters are correct. I should not pray for the President, or anyone else, to be “destroyed”. What I should have said is that I hope some past transgression will quietly be brought to his attention and that he will announce he is resigning from office “to spend more time with his family” so that he may repent.

It’s All About the “A”

January 20, 2009 | 10 Comments

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon is rejoicing over President Obama’s hat tip to non-believers in his inaugural address. She believes that “the inclusion of non-believers in the inaugural speech is such a big honking deal” because:

Acknowledging atheists as equal citizens to the faithful has a ton of policy implications, ranging from small things like the Pledge to bigger issues, like the right to use birth control and abortion.

Of course.

Happy Inauguration Day

January 20, 2009 | 66 Comments

Today the reins of our nation will be seized by a corrupt barbarian of still-mysterious origins who lucked into office with a record of no accomplishments, and with the assistance of a criminally-run fundraising machine, a compliant media, and his own glib but faltering tongue. My only hope is that he will be driven from office in scandal before achieving any part of his cynical and death-driven agenda.

Let us pray.

A Question of “Services”

January 19, 2009 | 35 Comments

To assist victims of human trafficking, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops provides food stamps, torture treatment, career counseling and other services. However, the Bishops do not provide referrals for abortion services or contraceptive materials, and forbid the social service organizations they use as subcontractors to provide such referrals. Consequently, the Bishops are now being sued in Boston by the “Reproductive Freedom Project” of the ACLU for accepting public funds to impose their religious beliefs upon their clients.

One of the kind and good people who has been involved with Catholic relief efforts is The Rosy Gardener of Hobbit-Sense at  Rosy offers some valuable perspective and analysis on the lawsuit:

I actually interned at a diocesan office that was responsible for diocesan efforts in helping immigrants and refugees, and probably would be the one to take care of trafficking victims that the USCCB took on. The staff itself was not all-Catholic, it may not even have been half-comprised of Catholics (and this was a relatively large group). And as an intern helping clients, I didn’t actually work with any clients who were Catholic. I worked with Jewish and Muslim refugees from the former Soviet Union. The faith I saw was that for some staff it was the reason they wanted to help people; nobody was denied services based on it, nor did anyone proselytise. So the entire imposition argument simply rests on refusal to provide some (few!) services that are against Catholic moral teaching.

                                                                 *  *  *
 Let’s say that the [government] was funding the Jainist equivalent of the USCCB.  Jainism as a religion considers vegetarianism part of its overall philosophy.  So, any help that anyone received would not involve animal products.  In clothing them, there would be nothing of leather (such as gloves in wintertime), in sheltering them they would use nothing that involved products taken from dead animals, and stocking up their refrigerator would not include meat, eggs, etc., even though the clients may be meat-eaters.  If the Jainists were to extract some promise of vegetarianism from clients, or to prohibit them from procuring meat on their own (neither of which would likely happen), then I think there would be a case for them imposing their religion on clients.  Well, the USCCB has done in effect the same thing:  they have not included in their aid things which they believe violate life.  The difference is political, not religious or philosophical.  I doubt any reasonable person would expect the ACLU to take on this hypothetical Jainist organisation.

With the ACLU and the abortion industry being so concerned about women being advised of their “full range of options,” I sometimes wonder if there are there any options that they would object to being required to discuss with their clients. For example, many pregnant women could earn quick money towards childcare/childbirth (or abortion) expenses through work in the prostitution or pornography industries, at least in jurisdictions where such activities are legal. Why not make such advice a standard part the “counseling” process – including tips on how to avoid coercion by traffickers — and condition the receipt of public funds on referrals to such employers? It makes at least as much sense as requiring the USCCB to give abortion and contraception referrals.

Ask the Grocer

January 18, 2009 | 36 Comments

American Atheists opened the new year by releasing a manifesto on the organization’s new legal philosophy. I prepared myself for a scholarly analysis of church/state separation issues, until I noticed that the author, AA National Legal Director Edwin Kagin, was pictured at the top of the page studying Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War.” His first battle is an assault on his reader’s intelligence, and that of grocers:

Most people would not be so uninformed, or so foolish, as to think they know more than their doctor if told they need to have heart surgery or die. Yet the same people will, without skipping a beat, presume that they know what the law is, how the law works, and what a proper legal judgment should be. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the law, and if one’s grocer unlawfully provides legal advice, the average person is likely to give that view some undeserved merit.

My own experience with doctors and lawyers is that a second opinion from anyone, including a grocer, could not hurt. It would depend upon what the grocer knew. And my experience with average people is that they weigh the grocer’s advice with this in mind.

Mr. Kagin not yet having clearly established his credentials as a legal philosopher, I was tempted to see if a better essay was available at the supermarket. Still, Mr. Kagin’s exalted position with American Atheists persuaded me to read on. However, the next seven convoluted paragraphs simply advised me in sweeping generalities that “the law” is a very complicated thing made by legislatures and courts and subject to change at any time. The only passage touching on AA’s specific area of concern was this:

By building on bad precedents, in time the very concept of separation of religion and government could be destroyed. The religious right understands this. We would be well advised to understand it as well.

I would be open to understanding it if Mr. Kagin would be open to explaining it. Up to this point, he has not said a word about what “the very concept of separation of religion and government” is, why it is important, or how the “religious right” poses a special threat to it. In only one paragraph does he mention a specific social issue, and once again the reader is left with no clue as to how AA, or anyone, should approach it:

[J]udges with liberal backgrounds are likely to decide an issue one way and judges who are proudly conservative will decide the same issue another way. And there are many highly emotionally charged, and controversial, issues around these days, issues for which there is no plain and clear answer, like “gay marriage.” In such cases, only the personal architecture of the individual judges deciding the questions will form the basis for decision. The Constitution could not predict, and give answers for, every fact situation that might arise in our nation’s history. This is where mature, well grounded, legal judgment is needed. There can be law quoted to support any kind of idea, noble or base, that anyone might ever present to a court. Go to a law library and look at the rows of stacks of law books containing written decisions. Someone lost every one of those cases.

But we still don’t know what a “mature, well grounded judge” would say about separation of church and state or any issue supposedly turning on that principle. Nor do we know what AA would say. The only hint we ever get is in the next paragraph:

It is the philosophy of American Atheists to win cases and to create favorable law. This is a change from the policy of the organization in the past. That philosophy was to file the case, no matter how unlikely a court victory might seem, to make the point urged. If something was wrong, it was felt that action should be taken, regardless of the immediate outcome. That philosophy had merit when different people were on the higher courts of our land. In the 1960s, a lawyer could bring a case of civil rights violation before the courts, be quite sloppy in pleading practice and, in the interests of substantial justice, the courts might well carve out an opinion that granted relief and that comported with basic due process of law considerations and with the guarantees of our Bill of Rights. This was a golden age of civil rights litigation. And the religious right hated every moment of it. 

I don’t see what the difference is between AA’s old policy and the new. Under either policy, they were trying “to win cases and to create favorable law.” Apparently, in the 1960’s AA could file a used Kleenex and the left wing courts would do something nice for them. Exactly what, Mr. Kagin does not say. If his essay is any indication of what AA files today, I’m not sure things have changed in any respect. But Kagin insists that it is the courts that have gotten dumber:

Things have changed. The persons of high vision on our highest court have gone to honored places in the history of the law. Justices Black, Douglass, Warren, Marshall and many other great defenders of freedom are no more.  By virtue of the philosophy of their appointers, persons of less noble character and less shining intellect, have taken their places. The past few years have seen an erosion of civil liberties, and a battering against the Wall of Separation between Church and State that is without equal in our history.  Irreparable damage to the First Amendment has been done that may not be repaired within the life span of our republic. 

Somehow I managed to run a virulently atheist blog for many years without the government shutting me down. If Mr. Kagin’s experience was different, he doesn’t explain how. If he’s correct, however, about the First Amendment being broken until America comes to an end, that’s not very long. This Tuesday, in my book.

The remainder of Kagin’s essay explains how AA will not humiliate itself by taking on the obviously losing cases of the sort that it was able to win in the past. This is subject to an interesting exception where “regardless of consequences” . . . the perceived consequences of not litigating would be worse than the possible adverse consequences of litigating.” Under this policy, AA will only take on a legally frivolous case where to do so would comport with AA’s “sound legal judgment.” So AA will ignore consequences while considering them and file legally sound but unsound cases.

I think it’s time they consulted a good grocer.


January 18, 2009 | 8 Comments


Trivia Question Answer

January 17, 2009 | 5 Comments

Norma McCorvey first revealed herself as the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade in an interview with the Baptist Press almost immediately after the decision was handed down on January 22, 1973. The story was picked up by the Associated Press, with the earliest version I can find published in the Silver City Daily Press (New Mexico) on Saturday, January 27, 1973:


The story also ran within the week in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Texas), the Lawton Constitution (Oklahoma), the Ada Evening News (Oklahoma), the Port Arthur News (Texas), the Odessa American (Texas), and the Northwest Arkansas Times. However, as noted in Liberty and Sexuality Since Roe v Wade, McCorvey’s identity then “receded into full anonymity for most of the ensuing decade.” Accordingly, some 1983 newspaper articles marking the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision erroneously indicate that McCorvey did not reveal her identity until 1980; a 1995 Newsweek article claims it as 1984; this internet source says it was 1989; and the Amazon editorial review of McCorvey’s first book suggests that it was 1993.

Afflicted as I am with some form of multiple personality disorder (or so Beelzebub advises me) I am reminded of the similar confusion over the “coming out” date of Shirely Ardell Mason — the woman upon whom the 1974 book “Sybil” was based. A psychiatric historian, Peter Swales, proudly announced her name in December 1998, about ten months after she died. As it later turned out, some people from her home town (Dodge Center, Minnesota) had figured out Sybil’s identity from various descriptions in the book, and the Minneapolis Star ran a story naming her and her parents in August 1975. Although that story was also picked up by Variety, it was collectively forgotten and Swales’ “revelations” nearly 25 years later came as a surprise.

Daily Headline

January 16, 2009 | 29 Comments


Friday Trivia Question

January 16, 2009 | 39 Comments

Washington D.C. will become a city of hope next week, as thousands
flock to participate in an historic event — the annual March for Life. The march memorializes the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, whose pseudonymous plaintiff was later revealed to be Norma McCorvey. Befriended by a pro-life activist while she was working at an abortion clinic, McCorvey ultimately converted to Christianity and has advocated for pro-life causes ever since.

Asking that politics, religion and morality be put aside, I hereby pose the following trivia question: When did McCorvey first publicly disclose her identity to a professional news organization (television, newspaper, magazine, wire service, etc.)? Please provide a source for you answer and be as precise as possible as to the date (or range of dates) of her revelation. Answers should be left in the comments to this post. Winner gets to choose the next category (e.g., dogs, reptiles, power tools) into which I will translate the Lord’s prayer. No winner will be declared unless the best answer received is accurate to within one year of the correct date. Please do not enter if you are one of the people to whom I previously supplied the answer.

Answer will be announced tomorrow, Saturday, January 17th, 2009. Submissions must be received tonight by midnight, EST.

Holy Mackerel

January 15, 2009 | 30 Comments

Prawn Eden is baiting me with some fishy puns. Let us pray that I not get hooked:

Our Flounder, who carp in herring, scalloped be thy clam.
Thy swimming’s fun, thy gills breathe on, in perch, angelfish and eel fin.
Kippers stingray our whaley squid, and swordfish us our fresh basses, as we starfish roe who shellfish lungfishes.
fishyAnd lead us not into crustaceans, but deliver us from seaweed.
For brine is the fin-dom, the gar, and the porgy, shore-ever and ever.


Flower Power (Updated)

January 14, 2009 | 20 Comments

On an earlier post, commenter Beelzebub compared my conversion to the moment in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version) when Donald Sutherland turned around and emitted a horrifying plant sound (at 1:50). That’s exactly what I did, and this is what I was saying:

The Florist’s Prayer

Our Flower, who art in heather, holly be thyme name.
Thy springtime come, thy willow bloom, on heath amaryllis jasmine.
Ginseng this sage our daisy glads, and forsythia our narcissus,
entomologistAs we forget-me-not those who crabgrass lisianthus.
And leaf us phlox into carnation, but deliver us from weevils.
For vine is the ginger, the sunflower and the morning glory, poinsettia and poinsettia.

Al mond.

Sorry, I know I went a little nuts at the very end.

UPDATE: For those of you who still doubt the rationality of plants, keep in mind that there is little dispute between believers and non-believers as to their intelligence. Atheist philosopher David Hume stated that “[t]he cause, therefore, of the world, we may infer to be something similar or analogous to generation or vegetation” (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part VII [176]), and the great Christian thinker Rene Descartes famously declared “Hyacinth, therefore I am.”

Daily Headline

January 13, 2009 | 54 Comments


Lord, Give Me Strength

January 12, 2009 | 12 Comments

A prayer for those of you who work out:

Our Barbell, who art so heavy, howling be my pain.
Thy gym’s no fun, it kills my buns, my girth is now 57.”
Give us free weights, our daily treadmill, and relieve us from benchpresses,
As we behold those whose triceps impress us.
And lead the hot into hydration, and deliver abs of steel,
For thine is the spin room, the power walk, and the core strength, for ever
and ever.

Isn’t it Romantic? (Updated)

January 11, 2009 | 379 Comments

Over at the snazzily revamped American Atheists site, Robin Murray O’Hair has some practical advice on “wedding the atheist way.” It’s refreshingly logical and utilitarian, unclouded by the sort of irrational emotion that drives so many people to marriage in the first place. After accurately noting that the wedding ring is “the only gift one can be sure of ever receiving from one’s spouse,” Ms. O’Hair cautions young lovers to apply that same sobering skepticism to the remainder of their nasty, brutish and short days together:

The particulars of Atheist weddings cannot be set; there can be no rule book for them, no collection of ABCs, for Atheists are realistic enough to recognize the uniqueness of each relationship. They should also be realistic enough to exclude impossible promises from the exchange of bonds. Atheists should balance their realism with their hope in any wedding. They should avoid such inane promises as to love for “all times” (how could they after death, anyway?), while expressing an optimism for the future of the relationship.

I cannot find the link, but a few years back The Onion had a headline in which a man passionately declared to his lover that “You are the Woman that I Want to Spend the Rest of My Next Three to Five Years With.” Or perhaps it was four to seven. Remember, each relationship is unique, full of highly qualified hopes and conditional promises.

UPDATE: The Onion headline I was trying to locate was actually Darling, will you spend the next six to ten years with me? More romantic that I originally thought. Closing line: “So, please, Julie Bramhall… Say you’ll grow early middle-aged with me.”

Along the same lines: My Beloved, Would You Do Me The Honor Of Becoming The Fourth Mrs. Charles Ballard?

Daily Headline

January 11, 2009 | 150 Comments


Daily Headline (Back to Cheese)

January 9, 2009 | 23 Comments


Daily Headline

January 8, 2009 | 14 Comments


Daily Headline

January 8, 2009 | 5 Comments


Daily Headline

January 8, 2009 | 32 Comments


Fruit of the Loons (and Vegetables)(Updated)

January 7, 2009 | 43 Comments

Some three years ago, in the comments section of The Dawn Patrol, I linked to a picture of a fruited hat.

Dawn invoked the no fruit rule.

I told her that her demand was fruitless.

They read me my Carmen Miranda rights.

I invoked my right to Romaine silent.

I lost my a Peel, which Artichoke you up if you’ve got a Heart.

I hereby Produce the full trial transcript.

Robert N G identifies the tribunal that heard the case at 3:18 pm (12/29/05) of the link provided above. Although it’s not on that thread, I recall that the majority opinion was written by Justices ALeeko and Frouter.

The proceedings spanned two years – do you wonder why I went bananas?

EMERGENCY AVIAN ALERT: Sorry for the interruption, but it has just come to my attention that the CEO of the Tyson poultry company has just stepped down at age 71. As an industry analyst told the associated press, “he’s not a spring chicken.”

UPDATE: Unspeakably Violent Jane says: In a previous post you said you were done with the puns. You lied. This is what I mean when I talk about the moral inferiority of theists.

A: No, I said it was just the penguining. My promise (yesterday) to stop it tonightingdale simply meant I would take a rest from the puns for the day sometime in the evening; I did not say I would never resume. Just like you might say you were going to stop looking for a lost ring outside “tonight” when it got dark. That does not mean you wouldn’t continue in the light when dawn broke.

Now start looking for your lost sole, UVJ. I’ve haddock enough of your carping. Salmon chanted day you will meet the greatest Fisherman of them all.


January 6, 2009 | 63 Comments

Trina Hoaks of the Atheism Examiner is a former Christian with “a unique perspective on atheism.” What makes her unique is that “[s]he is a ravenous reseacher who constantly seeks truth through exploration of evidence.” Today, she turns her finely-honed investigative skills to the question of why, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, atheists are underrepresented in the 111th Congress. Her shocking conclusion:

It isn’t surprising that there aren’t more atheists in political positions. After all, many states have in place religious restrictions on holding political office. That is to say that no atheist is allowed to hold office in certain states. It makes sense that atheists would not seek careers in politics.

Until states recognize that it is wrong to require that someone profess a belief in God as a prerequisite to holding office, atheists will likely continue to be underrepresented in the political arena.

Atheists, in other words, are underrepresented because it is illegal for them to be representatives, and they are thus sensibly discouraged by the prospect of prison. As proof of her thesis that the laws are wrong, Ms. Hoaks then points out that “[a]ccording to the US Constitution ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.'” So the anti-atheism laws are not only wrong, but unconstitutionally wrong.

As noted earlier, I was once raven-ously atheistic (take it to the other thread, please). However, my researching skills were ordinary rather than unique, so when faced with the same question years ago I followed my dull-witted hunch that if the Constitution clearly forbade something, the states couldn’t do it even if they failed to recognize it as wrong. Lo and behold, I quickly discovered that the Supreme Court liberated atheists to legislate and otherwise impose their morality upon others nearly fifty years ago, and I was forced to find something else to complain about. In other words, Hoaks is perpetrating a hoax.

I think the real reason atheists are underrepresented in politics is that they failed to take my advice to form the the National Atheist Media/Business Lobbying Association. With respect to journalism, however, they appear to be represented uniquely well.

On a Wing and a Prayer (Updated)

January 5, 2009 | 29 Comments

Many of you have asked why I returned to the nest.

Once upon a time, I was known as The Raven Atheist. I would occasionally alight to wet my beak at Dawn Eden’s blog, The Dawn Patrol. On February 16, 2006, she posted a entry entitled The Bird’s the Word, about an avian-themed headline she had inspired at The New York Daily News. The poignancy of it all drove me to leave the following appeal in the comments section:

Perhaps if you pray thusly I will convert:

Our Feather, who Lark in Heaven, Swallow be thy name.
Thy Kingfisher come, thy Bill be done, Heron Earth as Ibis in Raven.
Gizzard this Jay, Owl daily bread, and Corvid us our Thrush Thrashers, as we forgive Crows Hoot trespass against us.
And lead us not into Wren-Quail-Tern, but deliver us from Emus.
For thine is the Wingdom, the Plover, and the Lorry, for ever and ever.

A Hen.

For this, I have no Egrets.


Christine the Soccer Mom asks: Wren are you going to stop the punnery?

A: Tonightingale.

Carla asks: Leave me aloon.

A: Remember how Six feared Seven because Seven Eight Nine? Well, Toucan not leave One aloon.

Doogie says he has been chicken out my blog and demands that I “dodon’t stop.”

A: I promise you that this is only the penguining.

Lily cautions that I’ll end up in the nuthatch from waxwing my punnery skills.

A: With all the cuckoos from the comments section?

Lily now says she meant “waxwing poetical.”

A: It was a mynah error.

Carla says: Some chick once sang You Can Crow Your Own Way.

A: That was Phoebe Nicks of Tweetwood Mac.

Why Do You Really Care?

January 5, 2009 | 428 Comments

Some conversions from one belief system to another provoke more interest and emotion than others. Religious conversions seem to produce the most, to the extent that the term “conversion” is primarily associated with them. And conversions from atheism to belief in God (as opposed to conversions between
particular religions) may generate the most heat of all.

Conversions from one worldview to another do, of course, occur outside of the religious context. For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll examine the reaction to a hypothetical conversion from a belief in empiricism to a belief in rationalism. By way of background, the distinction between the two is roughly the difference between believing that knowledge arises from matter or from mind.

A strict empiricist adheres to the former view, that all knowledge is derived from observation of the world by the senses. Thus, the theory goes, We cannot determine whether water quenches fire, whether a ball will bounce, whether there is a cat under the bed or whether our feet are still attached to our legs without looking or experimenting. Even math, to the strictest empiricist, is some sense dependent on observation of the world, as we count particular things. If there were no things in the world there would be nothing to count. To know whether two marbles plus two marbles equals four marble we must simply put them on the table and count.

This (mostly) common sense view forms the heart of science. We look at facts and data to discover the truth about everything. Neither speculation nor even logic can tell us anything about what is out there, about what actually exists, about how things interact. One disturbing consequence of this view, as David Hume observed, is that we cannot make assumptions about how things we have observed will act (or exist) later, or when they are out of our view. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The “law” of cause and effect — or any supposed scientific law — is simply an inference we make upon seeing various events “conjoined” in some way after repeated observations. But logic cannot tell us whether matters will continue as they have; as Hume says, the “ultimate springs and principles are totally shut up from human curiosity and enquiry.” Only seeing is believing. Any firm conviction in a law is mere leap of faith.

A rationalist, however, sees reason as the starting and ending point of all knowledge. It is crazy to view the universe as merely a huge bucket of messy, random, and possibly ever-changing facts. Rather, all experience is a question of consciousness and thinking and reasoning — the facts may present themselves to our minds, but it is our minds which categorize, interpret and organize the information according to principles which are not provided by the data itself. The rationalist also “knows” that the laws governing the physical world are real and that all the events happen for some “reason.” It would be absurd to view a law as just a large collection of coincidentally connected events or anecdotes, just as absurd as doubting the existence of the rest of the world which lies outside of your immediate, empirically-confirmable view.

My discussion of empiricism and rationalism is necessarily incomplete, and the terms are broad enough so that that at least some formulations of the two worldviews may be compatible. But there is a history of spirited debate between the adherents of each view, with the “extremists” on either side believing that theirs excludes the other. In a particular case, the change in perspective could be as radical as a conversion from atheism to a deep religious faith. So with respect to conversion, my question focuses on why a “pure” empiricist who announced a new-found dedication to rationalism (or vice versa) would not be greeted with the same outpouring of love, hate, joy, sadness, praise, insults, prayers and cursing that often confronts side-
switchers in the religious context.

I have a couple of theories. First, a person who declared a conversion from empiricism to rationalism might discover that no one knew or cared about what what he or she was talking about. Even if dramatically illustrated with a picture of Spinoza, dressed in all his finery and otherwise historically accurate, the line between the underlying philosophies is not one which demarcates a battleground in modern society.

This not to say that some people do not have have strong opinions on the empiricism/rationalism debate, or that those unfamiliar with the positions, would not form a strong convictions as to one side or the other once the theories were explained to them. People still do debate whether the the world vanishes when they fall sleep, whether falling forest trees make sounds, whether gravity might reverse itself, or whether it is grounded by some immutable law. But discussions of such matters rarely engender great strife, even among those who would consider the opposing opinion to be nearly delusional. The converted empiricist is generally not confronted with accusations of stupidity, insanity, betrayal, intellectual dishonesty or fakery from his or her friends, family or blog-commentators.

Ultimately, the difference probably turns more upon morality and politics than anything else. Debates about religion are rarely solely philosophical ones about the nature of God. While the issue may not be expressly raised, the convert (or deconvert) is frequently viewed as having moved more forcefully in the rightward or leftward direction favored or disfavored by those greeted with the news. The empiricist/rationalist debate rarely carries the same baggage.

Daily Headline

January 4, 2009 | 14 Comments


HT: UnspeakableyViolentJane

Daily Headline (Updated)

January 3, 2009 | 27 Comments


Hat Tips: Helen of Random Musings, UnspeakableyViolentJane

January 2, 2009 | 5 Comments

I’m as converted as Uncle Ben’s Rice.

TRT, to a dear friend, 2009

Daily Headline

January 1, 2009 | 34 Comments

January 1, 2009, New York, New York
Special to The Raving Theist

Encouraged by kind e-mails from well-wishing believers, the Raving Theist has announced and completed his campaign to be the spiritual director of all Christendom just two weeks after converting from atheism.

TRT acknowledged that he was an “unconventional choice” but promised to work twice as hard to compensate for his previous lack of piety. Citing recent senatorial appointments and the apppointment of Obama by the media, TRT said that he had concluded that appointment, specifically self-appointment, was the most appropriate route to the office.

TRT dismissed critics who questioned his readiness to lead his suddenly-fellow Christians. In addition to citing his experience running a blog, he noted that as The Raving Atheist he had gained “unparalleled humility” from being so utterly wrong about the nature of the universe and his place in it. However, quoting Proverbs 27:2, he said that he would leave it to others to judge whether he was the most humble man on Earth.

TRT refused to answer questions from reporters but vowed to get back to them with answers on “that whole prayer thing.” TRT also said he would graciously welcome advice from readers on how to run their lives, and noted that he had already established a “team of rivals” in his comboxes comprised of warring factions of obscenity-spewing atheists and mortified believers.

TRT ran himself on a slogan of “Hope and Unchange,” alluding respectively to the prospect of eternal life and the nature of God.

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