Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – I get more fan mail or “someone sent me a million dollar bill”

poppyFirst, welcome to you new folks who have chosen to follow my blog.   We have a nice mix of Christians, atheists and agnostics. I’m not aware of any other types of theists. If you do use my blog as fodder for your own, please let me know.   Please feel free to comment or ask questions, I have very liberal posting rules here: basically, don’t be pointlessly abusive. That being said, don’t expect to use the commenting area as a soapbox. You will be held accountable for what you said and be challenged if what you claim is questionable.

Now onward…

Sent another letter to the editor lately and it got published. It was a smaller version of my blog post about the ever idiotic Cal Thomas. In the comments were the usual Christian Nationalists, the claims that the bible never says anything about slavery, etc. You know, the usual suspects and as usual, they ran away as soon as they figured out no one was buying their lies. It was entirely pleasant to see how many people joined the discussion and who had no problem in presenting evidence against the TrueChristians.

When I get LOEs published, I almost always get at least one piece of fan mail. This one was the usual cowardly person who managed to use the phone book and was unable to take responsibility for their action. The fan mail they sent me wasn’t a letter, alas, but it was this amusing little tract that they must have got from their purchase of Ray Comfort’s dvd “180”, his rather pathetic anti-abortion propaganda that seems to have been anything but a success. I guess that’s what happens when you lie egregiously. Ray is known to lie and lie again (repeatedly about Einstein’s beliefs among others). I guess it doesn’t count when he does it as long as it’s for his god? Even the bible says no to that little excuse (Romans 3).

The tract is in the form of a million dollar bill. I find it quite funny that “filthy lucre” is used to do, well what exactly? To lie to people? Perhaps raise hopes just for an instant to just dash them when someone sees it’s just one more TrueChristian threat? I’m guessing the worse TrueChristian twits leave these for “tips” rather than really tipping service workers. There was an instance of this tract being taken by the Treasury Department because some person tried to pass it off as legal currency. That indeed would take either a certain amount of ignorance, stupidity and/or malice.

The tract reads as follows: The million-dollar question: Will you go to Heaven when you die? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heard. The Bible warns that, if you are guilty, you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent his Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. You broke God’s law, but Jesus paid your fine. That means He can legally dismiss your case. He can commute your death sentence: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death. Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus alone, and God will grant you the gift of everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.”

Cherry-Picked-BibleSo, we have the usual threats of violence from Ray on how his god will kill us if we don’t obey it just like Ray says to. Ray is a big believer in following the commandments of his god, at least the first ten. Too bad for Ray, they go on far longer than those first ten, and there is nothing that says that the following hundreds are any less important than the first few.   And Ray certainly doesn’t obey those without exception, just like every other Christian; he doesn’t even follow the first ten with his lies about others. So, if this god exists, it must look at Ray as a blasphemer, who will not kill the people who need killing per this god, who dares to wear poly-cotton shirts against god’s will, who does not follow every single one of the laws in Exodus and Leviticus since the bible has JC saying that all of his father’s laws are to be follows until the earth ceases to exist.   And thus, Ray “Banana man” Comfort will be in hell, just like he says, if this nonsense is true.

He of course never says he’ll be in hell. Oh no, it’s everyone else who doesn’t follow what Ray says his god really wants. We also have the usual disagreement by Christians on whether predestination is a valid idea or not. Is it God’s will that no one goes to hell? Or is it? Can we choose? Can’t we? Well, Christians can’t agree. They also can offer the most amusing excuses: “God predestines who will be saved, and we must choose Christ in order to be saved. Both facts are equally true. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”   aka we know this is nonsense and therefore, it’s ever-so mysterious.

Ray’s claims of legality are rather curious. He seems to miss the point that this god is supposedly what determined what was a sin and then determined what it took to get out of it e.g. we have judge, jury and executioner. I am gratified that Ray has decided to admit that this god was what demanded the suffering and death of a being as a sacrifice to itself. But he does miss the point that sacrifice is substitution, a permanent event. To give one’s son only to get him back in a day or two isn’t much of a sacrifice. Indeed, it is no sacrifice at all for an omnipotent, omniscient being and is nothing but a shell game.

Finally, we are told to turn from sin, accept JC, and then read the bible and obey every bit of it.

Or we’ll go to hell.

For doing something, but Ray et al aren’t quite sure what.

Have fun with your sadistic fantasies, Ray. I suppose that’s all you have left when you don’t have any facts. You don’t even have your banana anymore.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Did you miss the social anarchy? Cal Thomas and the usual deceit by Christian conservatives

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Seems like we have a wealth of less than true comments here in the news from conservative Christians.

Here in the US, the Supreme Court has essentially abdicated its responsibility and has left a series of lower court decisions to stand when it comes to the legality of same sex marriage. They have let the Equal Protection Clause argument stand. From my perspective, it seems that the usual conservative justices are too afraid of speaking their opinions on the subject (mostly Roman Catholic) and want the whole issue to just go away so they aren’t exposed for the theocratic twits that they are.

Of course, this means that the usual conservative pundits are having a conniption that their ignorance and bigotry hasn’t a chance of becoming the law of the land. One pundit has a great column in my local Sunday paper; it shows just how nasty this type of person is. The pundit is Cal Thomas, the former VP of the infamous Moral Majority, which was neither moral or a majority, a sad collection of Christians who hated other Christians, other theists and everyone else. It, and its founder Jerry Falwell (see here for some good quotes from ol’ Jerry) did its best to make the US a theocracy. It died a deserved death when people realized its predictions of dire events were nonsense and money driven by fear dried up.

Cal does want some attention, so I am inclined to give it to him, if only to show that such people still exist. They occasionally crawl back into the light and it is worth seeing what misery they might be fomenting in the darkness.

In Cal’s column, titled What Next? (my local paper doesn’t have a link to it, so we’ll use the Albany Herald’s), he says that there are three points that need to be made about the SCOTUS action to allow the Equal Protection Clause (EPC) argument to stand without challenge. The EPC states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This was originally just applied to states but it was expanded to the federal government in the 1950s with the Bolling vs Sharpe decision.

Point number one is a baseless claim which may or may not be partially true. Cal is sure that the conservative justices are all about states’ rights and simply must have wanted the states to decide for themselves on matters of equal protection under the law. He is sure that the liberal justices must have wanted to accept these cases where states banned same sex marriage and that the lower courts over turned those laws. This doesn’t make much sense because if the SCOTUS let the lower courts ruling stand, as it did, the liberal justices would have to do nothing and still agree with the result and still have the overturning of DOMA on their side. If the conservative justices thought their arguments had merit, they would have wanted to establish that states rights trumped federal. They intentionally chose not to. Why would they allow lower court decisions that they did not agree with stand? It seems that they were not confident in their arguments at all and again, did not want to be forced to declare what they really believed, that some people have more rights than others according to religion.

Cal tries to make the argument that maybe (!) they conservative justices didn’t want to have another Roe vs Wade, because they didn’t want to create a controversy that would exist for a long time. Umm, Cal? Roe vs Wade didn’t create a controversy; it came about because of a controversy, if women could exercise their rights without interference from the government.  Same sex marriage has been a controversy for years; having one more ruling on it would make no difference to that controversy. You and yours would still be claiming that the sky will fall if you don’t get your religious beliefs made law.

Point number two is Cal trying to claim that it’s fine for the court to ignore its responsibilities because it stops “judicial activism”. If there is no ruling, then the judges weren’t activist and no one can complain about conservative justices being the same activists as they say liberal justices are. What an attempt to claim that well it’s no our fault if something bad happens and oooooh, it will, honest, really, just like every other prediction of disaster if we go against some religion. I live about 20 miles from Dover, PA, where another Christian conservative predicted dire consequences for saying that his religion was wrong and still nothing. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Did you miss the social anarchy? Cal Thomas and the usual deceit by Christian conservatives”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Study has evidence that religion does not make one more moral. Theist shakes his head furiously, hoping that equals evidence

threat__-650x487A research report “Morality in Everyday Life” was featured in the September 2014 issue of Science (this is just the abstract, there’s a fee to read it in its entirety). This research demonstrated that religious people and non-religious people did not differ in the number of moral acts that they did And of course, this sent the theists into a tizzy, because a common claim is that no human can be a decent moral human being without some magical being to enforce this behavior by promises of reward or punishment after a human dies. I’ve had more than a few Christians tell me how horrible a person they would be/were if they didn’t have their god requiring them to be decent so they can get their magical prize in the afterlife. (One can read more about the study in some articles at the NYT, a blog about empirical research on morality, the Daily Mail article mentioned below, and a pdf of an article from one of the participating universities in the study. As always, this study is not the final word on such things, until it is supported by more research.

Now with that as background, you’ll understand more as I address an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claiming that the religious have one up on the rest of us because religion is a moral “safety net”. This is by a fellow named Tom Purcell, a conservative who has been featured on such lovely things as the Rush Limbaugh show (one of the more verminous conservative liars in the US), the Laura Ingraham show (a woman who subs for Bill “I have no idea how tides work” O’Reilly on Fox News, and why yes, she *is* blonde and finds homosexuals e.g. “sodomites” and feminists abhorrent. Well, she does think that homosexuals should have some rights now just like so many conservatives who suddenly have an out family member.)

So, what does Mr. Purcell have to say? Well, boiled down, it comes down to a grudging acknowledgement of the study but a baseless claim that religion somehow “helps” having morality, even though the study showed that it did not. Unsurprisingly, this is another example of how a type of theist will do anything to ignore reality in favor of making false claims to shore up their religion. It isn’t only creationists…

In this study, the researchers reviewed the acts recorded and assigned them as they related to six principles related to morality: authority, caring for others, fairness, liberty, loyalty and sanctity, which I assume must mean the dictionary definition: the quality of being worthy of worship.   Again, the research says that religion has no impact on acts based on these things. All the research came down to is that theists may feel more positive emotions when doing/observing moral things, aka “I did good so I feel good. I see someone doing good, I think they should be rewarded.” and more negative emotions when doing/observing immoral things aka “I did bad so I feel guilty. I see someone doing bad, I think they should be punished.”

After reviewing the study, Mr. Purcell says “It is certainly true that nonreligious people can be principled and that regular churchgoers can be crooks in their business dealings.” Here seems to be the usual claim that not all Christians are “TrueChristians”, with the attendant circular argument that TrueChristians are Good are TrueChristians, etc.

Mr. Purcell argues that “many religions people” have a framework and community that helps them lead “more” moral lives. Which is again not supported by the evidence presented in the study. He claims that religion gives theists a “methodology”, that allows them to decide what is moral and what is not, what is “good” and what is “bad”. This is a problem since many things that are god-approved and deemed moral in the various holy books are seen now as very immoral and bad. This shows that religions are no objective way to know what is moral and what is not and thus, this “framework” is not to be trusted at all. This lack of any special powers of religion also jibes with the evidence that there is no difference between theists and non-theists when it comes to actions.

Mr. Purcell mentions that Greek philosophers had names for what is good: prudence, temperance, etc. They did indeed, and again it shows that no particular religion has anything special about it. The ancient cultures, from Greek to Chinese to Egyptian, were talking about morality long before any Abramic religions were around. The idea of the “golden rule” was nothing new. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Study has evidence that religion does not make one more moral. Theist shakes his head furiously, hoping that equals evidence”

From the Bar – a pair of autumnal beers

beerIn the midst of starting the new job, so here’s a quick post on some new beers we’ve tried. There were going to be more, but we tossed the other bottles in the recycling bin and I can’t recall them. Here’s the memorable ones.

Elysian Night Owl – probably the best pumpkin beer I’ve had so far. Just the barest touch sweet and a strong spice taste, far more than many other beers supposedly brewed with pumpkin and the sweet spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Occasionally, I like a half and half blend of beer and hard cider and this would be tasty with a cider like Strongbow.

DuClaw Guilty Filthy Soul – DuClaw’s unusual names are probably the amusement and aggravation of wait staff and bartenders everywhere. It does amuse me to order a “guilty filthy soul” to drink… This reminds me of a cross between a porter and a stout, with the richer mouthfeel added from the cocoa. It strikes me as tasting like a Tootsie Roll. I do like that you can’t really taste that it is a bit higher in alcohol, and it doesn’t end up tasting like a chocolate barleywine.

Now that I have a regular schedule (thank Sekhmet! if she existed), I hope to have a new beer in the fermenter this weekend.

That’s it. Drink well!