Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – this year Easter is on April Fool’s Day

Problems not only geology but animals. Happy Lent!

Hello, I’ve changed my wordpress theme for my blog since it was getting a little hard to read, even for me, with the grey on black.  If it’s a little too big for you, you can change your zoom on your web browser.

I’ve done various posts about Easter over the years I’ve been blogging.   The story of the crucifixion and resurrection is even more contradictory than the Christmas story, with events claimed to have happened in one gospel which would preclude events happening in other gospels.  What we generally get is a version that combines whatever the Christian wants to claim, though its a synthesis of all four gospels plus Acts.   I was watching Rick Steves’ travel special on how Easter is celebrated in Europe and he gave a version that mixed everything together and ignored the problematic bits.  It was still a very good special, and worth sitting through the pledge breaks to see it.

People like me, who question Christianity and its claims, often get told that the details don’t matter when we point out the repeated contradictions in the Easter story.   That is a common answer for a lot of questions about Christianity, we shouldn’t question why things are so screwy.  In a recent God Squad column, Rabbi Gellman answers a question from a high school student: “Hi, I am a junior at Mercy High School in Middletown, Conn. I wanted to say how happy I am to know that there is someone out there willing to answer questions from teenagers. Not a lot of adults do. My theology class enjoys reading your articles and reflecting on them every day. My question is does God punish wrongdoings like people say?”

And what is Gellman’s answer?  “This is my answer: IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. It doesn’t matter whether or not God punishes evil or rewards goodness because on the highest level of human virtue is the understanding that goodness is its own reward and evil is its own punishment.”

However, it does matter.  If this god doesn’t do as the bible claims, both in the OT and NT, then there is no reason to believe in the books or the god.  This god is claimed to be the judge and jury on what is good and evil and this god repeatedly hands out punishment in the bible.  Now, what the rabbi seems to be doing here is finding an excuse to ignore the question by the student because if he says that this god does punish evil, the next question is “How?”  “Where?” and most importantly “When?”   And since the rabbi cannot show that this god does anything at all, much less punishing the wicked and helping the good, he finds himself with a problem.  In reality, there is no divine intervention to show that this god exists or gives a damn about morality.  Indeed, we can see that this god’s morals change with how humans change, not the other way around.

Gellman tries to avoid the problem by insisting that people should be good because being good is the “right thing to do”, it’s beneficial, etc.   Well then no one needs this god at all.  There is no need for a blood sacrifice to appease a god for humans being just as this god would know they would be.  The whole thing is nonsense.

I would challenge the Christians who read my blog to actually read the gospels and Acts and consider the discrepancies in the stories, e.g. number of angels, what JC did, etc.  If the most important story for your religion is so screwed up, then why should anyone believe it?

Other posts on Easter, with more juicy details:

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – what has become the annual easter post

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Easter, the supposed events and implications

What the Boss Likes – welcome to Easter, syncretic religion at its best

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – that ol’ war on Easter



From the Bar: a couple of new things to drink, vindaloo, and a movie

This weekend we made a chicken vindaloo.    This was from the Saveur magazine recipe and it just wasn’t quite what I had grown used to in most indian restaurants.  What the recipe produced was a chicken and potato curry stew but not much of the vinegar tang that I like in vindaloo.  So I ended up taking a can of tomato sauce (I didn’t have tomato paste) and cooking it down with a bit of balsamic vinegar to get the flavor profile I wanted.   Then it came pretty close to what I was wanting.  We had this with jasmine rice. 

We’ve also been trying some new alcohols lately.   With our Indian meal, we tried a new cream liqueur called Somrus.  This stuff is delicious!  It has a wonderful mix of cardamom, rose, and other exotics.  It’s built on a rum base.  We made a lassi and poured some in.   My spouse just poured some over a brownie, which  he has found very good.

We also tried a new wine, Macaw Tannat from Brazil.   This is a nice simple red wine.  The grape is supposedly notoriously tannic but this wasn’t bad at all.  It’s nothing complex or expensive but a decent table wine.  

We also tried a mixed six pack of beers from a local microbrewery, Howling Henry’s.   Pretty good beers, and one really odd but good one, Basil Onion Pale Ale.   This is one of the few beers I’ve had that I’d consider savory, the others being Shock Top’s Twisted Pretzel beer (alas, discontinued) and Dogfish Brewing’s Ta Henket, the Egyptian beer. This would be great in a beer bread.  

Lastly, I’ve been stressed out about work and have been hiding by watching a lot of TV.  We watched the first of the Mythica movies which was a lot of fun.  This is what D&D movies should be.   All the way around a perfectly decent sword and sorcery movie with amazingly decent CGI.  This was partly funded by a Kickstarter request.  Unfortunately, it has Kevin Sorbo in it, who has become a Christian twit in his “God is not dead” type movies, but he’s not bad looking.  In the first, he’s only on screen for about 10 minutes.

That’s all.  Eat and drink well!


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – probability, evolution and theists

In a prior post, I went over how many Christians attack evolutionary theory without either knowing what it actually is, or willfully ignoring what it actually is.  I pointed out that many Christians, including the pastor who wrote these things, try to make false claims about its supposed randomness, which he, and they, think is such a great and wonderful attack on the theory that they benefit from every day.

The pastor posted two posts on his blog, in an evident hope to support his claims.   Let’s see how he does.

To begin with, he tries to excuse his claims by saying that the average person uses the terms accident or chance.  That may the case; it’s still wrong, and creationists use these terms intentionally to try to cast doubt on evolutionary theory.  The pastor just parrots what they say and these creationists certainly do their best to hide behind science when they want, witness the attempts by the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, etc. when they try to claim how ever-so scientific they are, insisting that any second now, they’ll have actual evidence for their myths.  It’s been decades since they’ve made that claim and still no evidence.

There is no evidence that the universe came about by accident or chance.  Indeed, the evidence points to the laws physics being quite enough for it to come into being and they may be just as “eternal” as theists claim their gods are.

The pastor displays his ignorance about other religions when he repeats his failed claim that “people saw this world as being the by-product of the wars and love affairs of gods”.   Some religions do indeed see this as true, and quite a few make the same claim that the pastor does “Creation reveals God and leaves us without excuse.”   None of them can support this, and putting the words in bold doesn’t make it any truer and no better than the claim of an imam or a guru or a Wiccan priestess.   He also claims that the gods of other religions didn’t mean to make the universe and humans.  That is incorrect too and that ignorance would have been cured by a very quick internet search. For example, Ahura Mazda was an uncreated being that intentionally created humans as a good thing.   Jainism believes that the universe has always existed, no creator needed.  Egyptian myth has Ptah creating the universe with a “word” and speaking humans into existence or Neith wove everything in the universe intentionally on her loom.  When one cherry picks myths, one gets a wrong answer that all religions have what Christians often seem to be trying to make as a set of “primitive” beliefs.  In other religions, there are indeed purposeful creation of human beings.  The pastor’s claim that humans are only a “by product” in other religions is wrong.

It doesn’t seem that creationism and the pastor’s version are getting off to a good start.  His idea that humans *must* be created by a god intentionally doesn’t make his religion unique nor does it support the common Christian claim that humans have to be created to be worth something.  Per his religion, we must worship his god because his god created us to do so.  That no evidence can be shown to support this claim, there is no need of worship (and paying preachers) at all.

The pastor claims that there can’t be reason or purpose for his existence without his god.  I do feel sorry for people who feel like that since that makes them afraid, very afraid and very dangerous to people who dare to point out that they can be wrong.   When one’s entire self-worth is based on being right about a god that has no evidence for it, it can make for desperation.  I would posit that this desperation is why a lot of young men and women kill themselves (and others) for Islam.  They have nothing else that tells them that they are worth something.

Happily, humans can have many things that make life worth living, which gives a reason and a purpose: family, friends, pets, justice, art, etc.  The pastor, like so many ignorant Christians, wants to claim that having no god means nihilism.  They have to make that false claim since they have to be able to give a reason why someone must agree with them in order to get that external validation.  They must play on fear.

Things still aren’t looking good for this Christian version.  The pastor’s quotes from Dawkins are a little strange. They do show that evolution is not based on randomness as creationists would claim. They are all from Climbing Mount Improbable and the main gist of this book is that evolution isn’t improbable like theists may claim since it does things slowly, makes many mistakes, and doesn’t always work or get the best answer to a problem.   We can see that if we take one of the bits and look at it in context.

“We have arrived back at Mount Improbable, back to “smearing out” the luck: to taking what looks like an immense amount of luck – the luck needed to make an eye where previously no eye, say – and explaining it by splitting it up into lots of little pieces of luck, each one added cumulatively to what has gone before. WE have now seen how this actually works, by means of the accumulation of lot of little pieces of ancestral luck in the DNA that survives. Alongside the minority of genetically well-endowed individuals who survived, there were large numbers of less favored individuals who perished. Every generation has its Darwinian failures but every individual is descended only from previous generations’ successful minorities.”

The pastor claims that there are three problems.

  • That the defenders of evolution have not allowed for the use of everyday language to sum up a point or to describe the perception that arises out of their theory.
  • That a lot of people don’t really know how things like chance and probability work.
  • That whilst it would be reductionist to think of evolution purely in terms of random/blind chance, it would be similarly reductionist to ignore the element of chance present in evolutionary theory as well.

It is not that the “defenders of evolution” haven’t allowed for the use of everyday language, it is that we aren’t interested in the false claims of creationists being spread by their ignorance of the subject they attack.  It is true that many people don’t know how probability works and that includes creationist. I’ve found this website that does a good job at simply explaining probability. And yes, we know that the pastor is using “accident” and “random” as attacks against evolutionary theory since the creationist’s only argument is that the universe must be designed and must be intentional.   Creationists try to use the ignorance of others about chance and probability to make their false statements.  The last point is a strawman since no one has said that no chance at all is in involved.  The only ones who have tried to imply that evolution depends entirely on chance are the creationists since, again, they must draw a distinction between their divine design and everything else.  Varying probabilities are involved and one can see that from the quote from Dawkins above.

(as an aside, probabilities are something that a lot of folks don’t understand. The probability of life on earth is 1 (certain) since we are most definitely here.   We don’t know exactly how things started, and we may never know, but we know it happened. The evidence may be long gone since the surface of the earth is constantly being remade.

So, for abiogenesis we don’t know exactly how it started, but we know the laws of physics and chemistry so we can do the experiments to get ideas on how it may have worked. We may, at some point, succeed in making life, but even then we may not have come upon the exact way it happened on earth because there could be more than one way for abiogenesis to occur.

Now, we have plenty of evidence that evolution has occurred. We have evidence that there are physical laws and they don’t change randomly.   We have physicists that propose theories and we have the experiments and observations that these theories are accurate descriptions of how the universe behaves. This makes for a high probability that they are correct.

And then we have the claims about various gods, including the Christian one. We have no evidence that any gods exist. We have no evidence that they somehow influence the universe. We have no evidence that any god created the universe.   We do have evidence that prayers do not work as advertised. With these facts, there is no reason to assign a high probability to the claim that this god exists.)

It’s rather fun to watch creationists now try to walk back their false claims about evolution.  This has happened again and again since evolutionary theory was mentioned.  By dribs and drabs, creationists have accepted the pieces of evolutionary theory that they could not reject without looking completely idiotic.  Oh well, the bible was literal….. until it became metaphor.   There was no evolution….until some creationists decided that that there was “microevolution” but golly, no macroevolution.   And now we have Christians who say that the bible has nothing to do with describing the world as it is, but not it’s only a guide for morality and spirituality (which it fails at too).

Now, the pastor wants to claim that we are “really” talking about probability.  And indeed, we have been all along.  In this universe, we know that everything isn’t random and chaotic, which is exactly what evolutionary theory says and how the world works.  However, when a theist claims a miracle,  and that the events of the bible really did happen, then they are claiming that yes, “anything can happen”,  that people can fly against the laws of physics, that a whale can swallow a man, that the dead can be made alive again, the universe is random and chaotic.  However, they don’t live their lives this way.   They claim that they have a god that is the “unknown known” that makes miracles happen, but they have no evidence for the actor nor the miracles themselves; they inject the deus ex machina which they cannot show exists or that it is even probable.    Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – probability, evolution and theists”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – what makes Christianity Christianity?

On my last blog post, we briefly discussed what are major and minor differences between the sects of Christianity. You see, often when I point out that Christians don’t agree on what their religion means, or what their god want as a reason to not believe any of their versions, some Christians tell me that the differences are only “minor”.   When I point out that differences on baptism, on communion, don’t seem minor, the discussion often stops. I asked Pastor Dave what was considered non-negotiable for him as part of Christianity, a major difference he couldn’t accept, and he directed me to the Evangelical Alliance Statement of Faith. I’m pretty sure this is the right one since Dave didn’t give me a link.

  1. The one true God who lives eternally in three persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

So you do disagree with other Christians who don’t agree with this.

  1. The love, grace and sovereignty of God in creating, sustaining, ruling, redeeming and judging the world.

Here it seems you disagree with the idea of free will as most Christians claim it exist. Divine control doesn’t work with free will.

  1. The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God-fully trustworthy for faith and conduct.

In this it would seem to show that you think genocide, that the murder of a child for another’s sins is okay, that killing the innocent is okay, that stealing from others is okay, that lying to others is okay… all as long as your god approves of it, though it commands otherwise in other parts of the bible. You would also have to agree that hailstones are kept in warehouses, that bats are birds, that this god could not find Adam and Eve in the garden, etc. We have a god that depends on subjective morality in that morality changes for what something/someone is. This is not what Christians agree on.

  1. The dignity of all people, made male and female in God’s image to love, be holy and care for creation, yet corrupted by sin, which incurs divine wrath and judgement.

Why did this god of yours make humans corruptible? And why does your god, in your bible the written word of god, say that some people are made to only be destroyed. Other Christians don’t believe in what you do, believing in universal salvation, predestination, that some things you think are sin aren’t, etc. Is this an important disagreement? It sure seems so.

  1. The incarnation of God’s eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ – born of the virgin Mary; truly divine and truly human, yet without sin

Again, just another repeat of the first bit, and still not agreed upon by Christians.

  1. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross: dying in our place, paying the price of sin and defeating evil, so reconciling us with God.

This is about the only thing that Christians agree on, but again, there are Christians who don’t think one needs to non-Christians to accept Christ to be also considered deserving of eternal joy.

  1. The bodily resurrection of Christ, the first fruits of our resurrection; his ascension to the Father, and his reign and mediation as the only Saviour of the world.

Another pretty common Christian belief, though they do differ if one just has to believe in Jesus, or to accept him as savior or if this god has to permit one to be able accept Jesus as savior. In that last, there is no universal savior since this god prevents some people from ever accessing this “savior”.

  1. The justification of sinners solely by the grace of God through faith in Christ.

Just like here. So much for free will.

  1. The ministry of God the Holy Spirit, who leads us to repentance, unites us with Christ through new birth, empowers our discipleship and enables our witness.

And so much for free will again.

  1. The Church, the body of Christ both local and universal, the priesthood of all believers – given life by the Spirit and endowed with the Spirit’s gifts to worship God and proclaim the gospel, promoting justice and love.

In that murdering a child for another’s sins isn’t justice, and it isn’t love when you tell someone that what they are is wrong; this seems to ring very hollow.

  1. The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth.

Well, per your own people, there are no “lost” people, but those who your god intentionally rejects for no more reason than whim. They are damned by what is in their book of life and no chance to accept JC after they are dead (Christians often try to add that so their god doesn’t seem like such an ass). We also have Christians not agreeing on what heaven and hell are too, so again. And there is the problem where this god works intentionally with this evil entity, allowing it free *after* all of the nonChristians were murdered, and after JC has reigned over those believers for an aeon.  For what reason?  Only to intentionally allow more human to be destroyed and more blood to be spilt. A lot of Christians don’t like to be reminded of Revelation.

It seems like there are major differences among Christians, belying what Pastor Dave has said.

Again, with such major differences, and no one able to show that their version is any better or more true than the next, there is little reason to accept that any of these things, often built on fear and ignorance, are true.

Next, we’ll be looking at evolution and how some Christians present it.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – and back around again to creationism and which version of Christianity is the “right” one

A friendly warning to those who followed my blog for food and drink posts. The below is my unvarnished opinions about religion.  You may wish to leave now.

Well, we have yet more creationist nonsense from Pastor Dave, who has spent a few days discussing how one should properly do baptism and communion; the two things that are probably most important about Christianity (only baptized believers can do miracles like JC per Mark, and one must take communion or not be Christian in more than a few sects) but no one can agree on how it should be done.  He will not allow comments nor will answer questions about his claims.

But here one can consider what he has claimed. He, of course, is not the only Christian who makes such claims; I use him and his posts as a starting point and as an example. These claims are nothing new or special. I’ve thought of a couple more new things to address about Genesis, but other than that, if you’ve read my posts before, you might find some of the information repetitive. I hadn’t realized that Pastor Dave had been once employed in the aerospace industry; one would have thought he would have developed better logic skills there than he demonstrates. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians apply a certain level of logic and rationality to the rest of their life, and their religion isn’t held under the same glass.

Dave demonstrates his ignorance of evolutionary theory, and of what scientists actually say about what we can say about the universe (aka reality as we know it).   Let’s look at some things that Dave calls lies.

We started our discussion about Creation and the Fall by naming some of the lies we can believe about this Universe. It is probably worth reminding ourselves of them.

–          That this world is just here by accident or chance. In earlier times, people saw this world as being the by-product of the wars and love affairs of gods. In modern times, we are more likely to see the world as it is resulting from atheistic evolution.”

Well, since scientists don’t think that the world is here by chance or accident, that’s a false claim made by Dave, either out of intent or ignorance.  The laws of physics work well in explaining how this world ended up as it is, and indeed as a “creator” with no end and no beginning.  Believing that some god created it is no more believable than other religions’ claims of the world being a byproduct of wars or the love affairs of gods.  More than a few religions claim that their god and only their god was the creator; none of them have evidence to support this.

–          That the world around us and God are one and the same thing. This is sometimes called pantheism. This leads to people worshipping nature.

Well, what is wrong with worshipping nature, other than you get nothing back from nature for such worship?   It’s the same problem that most theists have with people being of other religions than their own or believing in no religion at all.  Those people are a threat to their need for external validation and their belief.   The existence of other religions and agnostics/atheists seems to terrify theists.  We dare to not give them what they want.

–          That God is distant from this world. He may have been the first cause, but he has just put the rules in place and left the Universe to get on with running itself. This is usually referred to as Deism.

Of course, Dave can’t show that his version of his religion is true, and that other version of religion aren’t.  Since this god cannot be shown to do anything in this world, there is no reason to assume that this god is close to this world (or far away).  It is required for Dave’s version of Christianity, but it is not shown to be true.

–          That “matter” (physical creation) is evil and that only the spiritual world is good. This is known as Dualism and is particularly associated with Gnosticism.

Hmmm, some versions of Christianity make this exact claim.  And Dave calls it a lie.  Now, how does he know?  There’s also the problem that nonbelievers don’t think that matter is evil or good.  It just is.  Dualism is also when a believer claims that the body and soul are separate things, often making unsupportable claims that somehow the brain isn’t involved in what a person is.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – and back around again to creationism and which version of Christianity is the “right” one”

What the Boss Likes and from the Bar – alcohol in crafts and some beers

I’ve been looking for a new craft to try. I’m not much of an artistic type; generating artsy things isn’t my best ability, though I can copy pretty well. I first came upon pour painting when you make paintings from various techniques of pouring, tilting and smearing paint. That’s pretty neat but It takes some space and a lot of paint. I’ll wait til the warmer months to try that.

Then I found alcohol inks which are even brighter and you can do them small scale with even less talent, at least in my case. I decided to try this in making some switchplates for my newly remodeled kitchen. The other is a ceramic tile.  It’s an odd craft, I think better for someone who is happy with what chance does than any intent, though I’ve seen some folks who can really control the ink.  I haven’t got that talent yet, and maybe never.

And for the alcohol in the beers. We got another mixed six from our local distributor, three were worth mentioning.

Doc G’s Orange Blossom Wheat: a nice wheat beer with a marmalade/cooked orange taste. It’s not very sweet at all, which makes easy to drink. DuBois (prounced doo-boyse) is a town here in PA.

Rivertowne’s Hala Kahiki Pineapple ale: tastes like pineapple soda. Very good and I hope to get more for the summer.

Founders Sumatra Mountain Imperial Brown Ale with coffee: one of the most coffee tasting beers I’ve had. Would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I’m also sitting here watching “Cast a Deadly Spell”, something I’ve watched quite a few time, but I still love it. It’s a mixed genre movie with a hard boiled detective who was in the “war”, a dame, and lots of magic, including WWII gremlins, and the Necronomicon. And speaking of the Necronomicon, we also started watching Ash vs. the Evil Dead, a series on Starz. It’s as graphic, blood and sex, as you might expect from Starz, but it is pretty damn funny.   I do love Bruce Campbell.


From the Kitchen – finally that bread that I’ve been trying for a decade + to make and a dip

Well, I finally did it! (happy porcupine dance)

I made a loaf of bread that has all of the holes in it I wanted. It only took more than a decade since I’ve first started trying baking bread.

I started baking bread since I do love that smell through the house. I started baking the standard sandwich loaf that my grandmother made dozens of loaves of, being a farm wife with 5 kids and the usual helpers. She raised this family back when they were still using draft horses along with tractors.

But I wanted a holey, crispy/crunchy loaf like the French are so good at. And it took a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (publishers of Cook’s Illustrated) to make it. I will admit, I’ve made fun of them for years, wondering why someone would need to cook 50 chickens to get something right. But the method of understand and analyze does work in cooking (as it does in the sciences). I’m guessing that someday that recipe will vanish from KCET’s website, so you may have to become a member of ATK or ask me nicely to get it. 🙂  In the photos, you’ll note that a 500 degree oven just about chars parchment paper.

Yes, it take a bit of time to do. It’s worth it. We ate it with warm triple crème brie, cherry preserves and a fig and olive relish mentioned in this post.

So, tah-dah!

I also made their sticky buns and they are amazing! The use of a cooked water and flour roux, a technique from Asia called tangzhong, makes all of the difference. I’m thinking of subscribing so I can have access to all of these all of the time.

We also made queso fundido. I’ve tried this before and just can’t get the liquid texture I like in restaurant versions. So we stumbled upon Herdez Queso dip and it’s perfect. We heated it in the oven until hot, and topped it with fried chorizo (the fresh kind, not the preserved Spanish kind).

That was dinner with Fritos. I love tortilla chips, especially Xochitl brand since they are so thin, but sometimes a girl has to have her Fritos.


That’s all.   Eat well!