Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Cause and Effect – exhorting violence leads to violence

Well, this has been quite a week here in the US. We have had a conservative sending bombs to famous liberals from his van plastered with all of the hate that Trump has spouted, and then we have had a conservative shooting up a synagogue here in Pennsylvania.

I went to college in Pittsburgh for a while and walked by this synagogue often.

Now we have conservatives doing their best to deny that Trump’s constant hateful diatribes encouraging violence be done to anyone who disagrees with him had anything to do with this. They keep bringing up the shooting of the republican Scalise at the baseball game.   What they forget is that they can’t point to a democratic president constantly saying people should be harmed or anyone else of any similar vein doing what Trump is doing. It is a false equivalency, nothing more than an attempt to ignore reality and cause and effect. They want the hate and divisiveness but don’t want to take responsibility for it.

Of course, Trump and Pence have spouted just how concerned they are about the Jewish folk being shot. It comes from one Christian who needs to believe that all Jews will be killed for his fantasies about the idiotic “end times” and a man who claims he is Christian but pretty much fulfills the definition of “anti-christ” at least if you just look at the good parts of the bible. They both have no problem in blaming the synagogue for not having a armed guard ( oh what a freudian slip, I initially typed “god”, not guard) to protect them from angry stupid white men who need military grade weapons to get out their frustrations of their own failures.

This is domestic terrorism by conservative Christians, just like when they blow up abortion clinics and murder doctors.

If you support Trump and you support the NRA, you are the problem. You are those who support wannabee Nazis and confederates on these days leading up to Veterans’ Day, where those people fought against everything you now stand for.

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation: why do they choose to make false claims? – next up, DP Monahan

Well, for a blog called “truth and tolerance”, DP doesn’t demonstrate either. I’ve seen this particular Christian around on other blogs.  He tries to be friendly to the atheists he contests with, but when you get him on his own blog, he has no problem in making a lot of false claims about others. It’s rather pathetic.

DP goes after a video where Dr. Michael Shermer is talking about why humans believe in gods and presenting the hypothesis where humans see “intent” in many things that are simply natural. This “offensively stupid thought experiment” is only that because DP presents his strawman version of the actual hypothesis. Nothing in the hypothesis indicates that humans were always running for their lives at the slightest noise. Humans developed to think that there is a cause and effect behind every noise and movement, and then may have attributed to a intelligent being these cause and effects.   It’s amazing on how a Christian evidently needs to lie so badly that he ignores his own supposedly holy book’s words that people should never lie, not even if they think it’s for their god’s benefit (Romans 3).   He also desperately tries to argue that all thought experiments somehow assume “everything” (whatever that means) and that they prove nothing, which is debatable and something a theist must try to claim since what we do know of our remote ancestors doesn’t match with their myths.

DP goes onto thrash his very own strawman and of course ignore the actual hypothesis and what it says. DP also has evidently not seen a antelope run from a cheetah or a zebra from a leopard. They don’t do what DP says : “they will run a few steps and then look back to make sure.” I’ve also personally walked through a woods and scared the crap out of deer, quail, etc. They did pretty much the same to me.

Humans were frequently victimized omnivores, who have offspring that need tending for a very long time. They have no natural weapons, and were at the mercy of predators. DP seems to think that humans always had weapons, which show his complete ignorance of anthropology. Of course, being a creationist, this type of Christian has to ignore reality to keep their religion.   Humans can be predators, but they are not always predators. And just because something travels, explores, and takes risks doesn’t mean it doesn’t attribute natural occurrences to magical beings. It seems we are built to assign meaning to occurrences and, again, expect an intellect behind occurrences.   Humans would not necessarily be afraid of the wind, but they may have assigned that wind to an intelligence source causing it.

DP presents this paper from the NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3689871/ and says it shows that they are “naïve skeptics”, but he does not admit that the paper also says that children have no problem in believing in Santa Claus and the reason why is “In fact, much of children’s apparent credulity, we propose, can be accounted for by their receptivity to the testimony of others; in fact, this receptivity may be precisely what makes children seem, to many, to possess a credulity bias.” The paper is actually quite good; it’s a shame that DP never seems to have read it but only assumed it supported him. It’s no surprise that he didn’t look up the original experiment and then tries to claim his presumptions have to be true. That can be found here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002209651100035X?via%3Dihub (I’ve not yet found it outside of a paywall)

The idea behind this hypothesis is that religion grew to be a way to make humans behave in a certain way for the benefit of the group e.g. “God will get you if you don’t do *this*”.   DP tries to make the claim that since not all religions have “abstract ethical content” (whatever that might actually mean) and an afterlife, this means that the hypothesis is wrong. He claims that “some traditional religions” make little reference to ethics, but does not indicate which of these do that. We also have him saying that the idea that a god watching one’s every move is a poor motivator for good behavior, “at least for those of us over three”. What he forgets is that is exactly the threat that Christianity makes, and yes, it is a very silly thing for adults to believe. These are a few verses from the bible that contradict what DP wants to have us believe:

20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” – 1 John 3 (and hmmm that verse does present a problem for Christians who claim that god doesn’t give believers all they ask for)

“For my eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my presence, nor is their iniquity concealed from my sight.” – Jeremiah 16

“Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” Hebrews 4

We also have DP saying that “no religion is self-evident”. Now, I’ve been told the exact opposite by Christians for years, namely with this bit of nonsense “19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” Romans 1 Indeed, this bit of scripture says exactly what DP says it doesn’t ““Good Principles Self-Evident to All Humans”

DP thinks that if he was a “high brow atheist”, he would believe that humans were fully able think like us from the start, which is a baseless claim dependent on a belief in creationist nonsense. Yes, right now, our brains are quite highly developed, and many of us can recognize complex patterns, are able to anticipate what reality is from observation. We’ve developed language, and we are still the apes that saw effect and may have assumed an intelligent cause e.g. gods. Yep, we are story-tellers too, and that shows that there is no reason to think that stories are reality; humans love to make up stuff.   Religions are no the story of the world, because they all differ. They are an indication that there is no one magical truth, that some certain god is in charge. Religion does show that humans act in certain ways, but they have no evidence that they themselves are true.

All DP wants is to pretend that a “real” atheists would agree with him; and we generally don’t. He wants to claim that there is nothing to replace his religion and implies his religion does no harm, but ignores all of the various philosophies that are out there that don’t need gods at all. He, like many Christians, wants to pretend that all atheist are no more than nihilists or “cold materialists”, and tries that old canard that without his version of his god, all human experience is “ultimately absurd”.   Again, all DP has is his attempts to appeal to fear and to expect ignorance to support his religion.

Rain Distribution: A Godly Contract

a wonderfully snarky observation about god and droughts

The Accidental Satirist

THIS AGREEMENT is entered into this 10th day of February between God and drought-ridden nations. Nations hereby retain God to use his best efforts to keep all of the countries in the world supplied with enough water for hot showers and things, subject to these terms:
ARTICLE I
OBLIGATIONS OF GOD
1.1. God, in his omnipotence, swears to bring enough rain to the world unless he accidentally brings drought. Noah only fixed the flooding situation. Droughts are totally still a thing.
1.2. God, in his omniscience, swears that if He *does* accidentally bring drought, it’s the nation’s responsibility to pray for rain or else He can’t very well be expected to bring it, now can he?
1.3. Actually, that last clause suggests that God makes mistakes, so scratch that. Where there is drought, God sent it on purpose. Uh. Let’s try again. Where there is drought, it serves as punishment…

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – questions posed to an atheist

As I am wont to do, I was roaming about wordpress looking for silly claims about atheists by theists.  While chatting with his son about another blog post, I found this list of questions by a pastor that has his church not too far from where I grew up.    So I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Most of what he thinks are great questions are the same old ones you’ve seen me address before on this blog.   This is such a collection of them, I figured it could give folks a “one-stop shop” in seeing them.

These were addressed to another atheist and supposedly that atheist never returned to answer Bill’s questions.  So here we go!

1) Why should I put my trust in you and your philosophy for my future and eternal destiny? Jesus Christ has far more credibility than anyone else. His words have greater wisdom and hope than any other philosophy and what it ultimately offers.

I’m not asking you to trust me.  Trust has nothing to do with it.  You’ll die and be recycled in this universe.  It seems that the main reason you believe is that you are afraid of death, nothing more.  And the idea of do unto others has been around far longer than your particular religion, so we’ve already got that as a philosophy without your or any version of Christianity.  In that the ancient Egyptians and Chinese seems to have got the idea earlier than you, should we follow those religions?  You have nothing to back up your claim that JC is more credible than anyone else.  You can’t even show that this magical being exists. 

2) When I am dying, what hope will you offer me? 

Why do you need hope when you are dying?   Fear of death is likely the reason that humans invented gods and religions.   If you hope to get well, the cures and therapies invented/discovered by the sciences that show that evolutionary theory and the Big Bang Theory are true, might help.  Your religion makes promises but there is nothing that shows those promises are true.  No heaven, no hell, no Chistians able to heal as promised.  My hope when I’m dying will be that I did my best while alive helping others and enjoying myself.  

3) What great accomplishment(s) do you claim to have done (fulfilled prophecy, miracles, resurrection, other feats and accomplishments) so I can examine the

evidence to see if your belief system has merit? 

I don’t need to do miracles to point out that being compassionate, etc has merit.  It can stand on its own.   However, you do need to do some miracles, since your bible claims that any baptized person who has accepted JC as savior will be able to do what he did. 

4) Why is it so important to you that I (and others) do not believe in Jesus Christ?

Because religion causes people to harm others, mostly because religion tries to claim that some people are “better” than others.   Humans make up religion and their gods in their image, and they want to claim a magical being validates their actions, no matter how heinous they are.

 5) What positive effects will atheism have on my life and eternity?

 Not much.  You might stop wasting time and resources on something that doesn’t exist and cease being frightened of hell and the devil.  Atheism won’t have any negative effects either.   It’s just not believing in imaginary beings because there is no evidence for them.

 6) Why do the fossil records reveal fully-formed creatures, but no transitional forms? Where is the socalled“missing link”? Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – questions posed to an atheist”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – wannabee nazis and confederates are soooooo stupid

Let see one of the more stupid things: shoes.

Now, we have morons burning the Nike apparel because Nike paid Kaepernick to represent them.   I am all for the kneeling in protest of bigotry, ignorance and pure stupidity when it comes to so many people in law enforcement being idiots when it comes to black men.   Not all law enforcement officers are stupid, and that means most of them, but when it comes to more than one a week of someone being a damn fool with a weapon, then it’s an issue.

We also have idiots who are claiming to support other shoe companies because they have athletic shoes with the US flag on them.  Now, lest we forget, that isn’t supposed to happen and these wannabee white supremacists don’t even what the US Flag Code says, and heck most of them want to fly a flag with a swastika on it or the battle flag of a country that decided to kill their fellow citizens because they wanted to own people and allow people to own other people in the new territories.

This is what the flag code says  “The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. “
And when this shoe is worn out, it will be tossed as trash, with diapers, rotten tomatoes, cigarette buts, etc.
My husband, brother and father served. They don’t find a shoe that ignores the flag code to be supporting them at all. Indeed, it just shows that the people who want no one to ever mention that there is such a thing as white privilege and that there are severe problems with racism are terribly ignorant about what the US stands for, including the flag.   Kneeling shows respect to the flag; sweating into it, stomping around on it, certainly doesn’t.
Lots of claims of patriotism from people who don’t know US code, who fly flags of enemies of the US, who have no problem with immigrants who honorably served this country being thrown out, and who have no problem with a president who cut funds for veterans and pay to the military, and who want to go back to the bad ol’ days where racism was okay.   One would think that they do have to claim to be patriots since they don’t do a thing that would make you think they are.
Oh, and to add to the stupidity, one of the most poor and stupid of the southern states, Alabama, has a law that will allow a spousal rapist to sue his victim if they want to get an abortion and the parents or legal guardians can force an underage woman to have a child she doesn’t want.  Now, let’s just see what happens if man of color tries this with a Caucasian victim.  The south should have become a protected area and never forgiven for what it chose to do.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – various thoughts about religion and a God Squad bit of nonsense

For those who follow my blog for food, wine, etc.  these posts titled “not so polite dinner conversation” ain’t that.  It’s all about politics and religion.

Various bits on the topic of religion:

I’ve been watching Christians fuss at each other on John Branyan’s website (you can see some of his comments here on this blog).  For people who each claim that they have the truth about a magical being, they do have a problem convincing each other.  I wonder if it could be the lack of evidence?  For those who don’t know, JB fancies himself a Christian comedian.  He is funny in a hilariously unintentional way.

Here in PA, there is a big report coming out that shows just how incompetent and malignant the Roman Catholic Church is when it comes to protecting children.   It also shows how imaginary or evil this god must be if it exists and allows these horrible things to happen.

It’s also been awhile since I’ve looked at one of the God Squad’s columns.   This time Rabbi Gellman doesn’t fare any better than the last ones. IF you want to take a look at some of my past blog posts about the rabbi and his peculiar theology here are a few:   Where Gellman tries to claim free will to excuse his god’s failures with child abuse.

And tries to claim that it doesn’t matter if this god of his punishes people or not.  What a lovely way to try to argue that those priests, etc  are just fine as they are.  Rabbis are known for their abuses too, so I’m sure the rabbi has some skin in the gam when trying to defend his fellows.  Or you can just put “Gellman” in the search field to your right.

The most recent is part of a sequence of questions the rabbi tries to answer.   He is quite a twit in the initial questions, and pathetically wants to tell people how to love their family and pets.  He does advise to just “omit” things, just so the pastor/priest/rabbi doesn’t have to say something less than what the rabbi considers “dignified” and so “graciously” says he will understand.

What I want to focus on is what the rabbi has new to say about the topic of free will.  He’s crashed and burned on this subject before, see above.  But it’s even more bizarre now.  Now, that event in the garden is what this god wanted…. Even though he got awful pissed about it, per the bible.   Let’s see what he says:

Q: Is there any possibility that we have no free will? Could God control our every thought and action, causing us to act like robots? Is there any evidence that this is not true? — From J in Wilmington, N.C.

A: Yes, J. It is possible that free will is an illusion. Yes, it is possible that God controls our every thought and action causing us to act like robots. There are, however, several problems with this possibility.

The first problem with the possibility that God controls everything we do is that God seems to be doing a really poor job. If God is all knowing and all powerful and all good, then there seems to be no good reason why the world is filled with so much evil and so many bad choices.

The second problem with a world without free will is that nobody would be morally responsible for their bad choices. It would all be God’s fault. We humans would merely be, in your words, “robots” — and robots are not moral agents. Robots cannot be held responsible for what they do. Moral accountability requires free will.

The third problem is that the Bible explicitly teaches us that we DO have free will precisely because God wants us to grow into our humanity and accept moral responsibility for our actions. 

The first text that clearly addresses free will is the Garden of Eden narrative. Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The act that humanizes them is an act of acquiring moral free will. Now there is a Christian problem with the Eden texts and it was highlighted in a roaring 16th-century debate between Erasmus and Martin Luther. Erasmus thought that people had free will. Luther thought that since the eating of the forbidden fruit was the original sin, people could never use their free will to overcome sin. People were doomed without the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus and thus were not really accountable for their sins.

A more direct and definitive text bearing on the biblical teaching about free will is from Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV), “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” So God has set before us a choice between good and evil, life and death, and expects us to use our free will to make the choice of life.

I do not know, nor can anyone know with absolute certainty, if free will is real or just an illusion in a fatalistic universe, but what I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that I can only live in a world where I am not God’s robot, but rather God’s partner.

Again, the rabbi ignores that his god never mentions free will in the bible (wait a moment if you are Christian and think that it does) and does all it can to remove it repeatedly from many many people.   Gellman must have free will or his god is a monster, and he can’t have that.   We have Adam and Eve who have no free will, because they don’t have any idea what that is and they are made to be what they are.  They have no knowledge of good or evil, and we have this god either allowing evil into the garden intentionally or that it was unable to keep it out.   However, the rabbi now wants to claim that this god wanted that whole thing to happen, because it gave us free will.  Really, then why would this god punish A&E for doing what it wanted?  Indeed, why did it punish the “serpent” for doing exactly what it supposedly required, per Gellman?

The rabbi does a great job at pointing out that with a god like is presented in the bible, and not his newly invented version, there is no reason to have evil in the world, so many bad choices, etc.   And yes, no one would be morally responsible for their choices if a god made them do what it wanted, just like this god did in the story of Exodus, in the story of Judas’ betray which was required by this god, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the rabbi doesn’t say where he gets his claim that the “bible explicitly teaches us we DO have free will precisely because God wants us to grow into our humanity and accept moral responsibility for our actions”.  Perhaps someone else knows where this is, but having read the bible a couple of times, I don’t recall this at all.  Indeed, the bible says the exact opposite of this in Romans 9 where it says that this god created peopled to be damned or saved at its whim aka “grace”, with no action by humans able to change this.

The rabbi does quote Deuteronomy 30:19 ““I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Which is where most theists run to when they want to claim free will is in the bible.  But they always quote it without what it says around it.  Here it is:

11 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

 15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God[b] that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

 Now, doesn’t that first paragraph sound rather familiar, someone who goes and gets this forgiveness?  But this god doesn’t offer that, it says follow the commandments given in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  You obey or your die.  Not exactly a choice, no matter how it is presented. It is the classic “offer you can’t refuse”.  This god is no more than a mafia don.  And funny how this promise from this god never pans out, and this god, supposedly being omniscient, would know that his supposed chosen people would fail in his laws.  You’d think a rabbi would know this, and not quote out of context, but cherry picking is nothing new to the theist, especially those who fancy themselves leaders and teachers.

Unfortunately for Rabbi Gellman, he does not live in a universe where he is this god’s robot or partner.  But he does reveal that what the believer wants is far more important than the supposedly holy texts that they claim are what they follow.

From the kitchen and the bar – experiments in game meats and some new wines

the pale lumps are very large garlic cloves

A month or two ago, D’Artagnan (the company that sells fancy meats here in the US) had a really good flash sale and I got a selection of game meats: a duck, venison shanks and a wild boar roast.   We had the wild boar first (actually a hybrid of European wild boar and feral pig that are running amuck in the south of the US).  It was good, though dry and we did lard it with extra pig fat.  The meat is very lean and all the darker color that you see in some pork cuts from regular pork.  I wasn’t that impressed, but I will say that I cook a tasty pork shoulder and am somewhat spoiled about what good pork is.

This weekend we cooked the venison shanks.  They were about 4 inches thick, and were New Zealand venison.  My husband found a recipe for a very garlic heavy braise, and since I’ve been wanting to cook something with a *lot* of garlic (readers will know I consider it a vegetable), we went for it. 

The wine used was a Simply Naked pinot grigio and of course the 4 bulbs of garlic.  We have rosemary and thyme in our garden.  It’s so shady, I’m glad that anything edible grows there.   I also have quite a few really poisonous things, like monkshood, jimsonweed, foxglove, etc. 

The meat was pretty indistinguishable to me from good beef.  We cooked it until the cartilage melted, making the meat succulent.  Not much fat on these, so the sauce isn’t as greasy as a beef based sauce would be.  They do come with the bone in, so I scooped out the marrow.  It was a little strong flavored for me, though I can see how some people would love that.  We just had the rest of the pinot grigio with it and it went surprisingly well with such a dark meat.   It’s nice and light.  We also got a bottle of their unoaked chardonnay, and it was good too, though a little richer than we wanted for the recipe.

We also got a few new wines to try.  We’ve been looking at the less than $10 that the PA Fine Wines and Good Spirits stores have.  If you are of an age in PA, you’ll know these stores to be “state stores”.  One of the wines was Regio Cantina Donpa Aglianico del Vulture 2013.  We really got it because it had this as a description ““This initially shows funky aromas of stalky underbrush, wet soil and a whiff of damp fur that slowly blow off to reveal toast, leather and dried blackberry jam. The dense full-bodied palate evokes prune, chocolate and a hint of tobacco alongside firm tannins.”  Alas, it wasn’t nearly so odd, and I was a bit disappointed.  It is a good dark red wine though. 

That’s it.  Eat and drink well!   If you have a good roast duck recipe, let me know for my next experiment.