Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – three different Christians and questions answered

barker-creationist-quoteI’ve encountered a few very different Christians recently. We have Dave, a pastor, who believes in diversity, but also believes that Christianity supports violence as long as they benefit; Rina who says that she must take everything in the bible literally because if you don’t, what is to stop you from finding a resurrected dead guy to be ridiculous, but is sure that stars aren’t attached to a dome and can’t fall on the earth; and Scientific Christian (you can find his blog through clicking on his avatar in the comments here where he is *quite* prolific) who lies regularly , wants to physically harm those who disagree with him, insists that the bible and translators are wrong if they disagree with him and the very same ones right if they agree with him and very much wants my attention.

As you can see, Christians vary a *lot*, and this is only scratching the surface. I’m guessing that each of these three would have issues with what the other two claim to be true.

The following questions were asked at Dave’s church. On his blog, it seems to be the intent on giving the answers to them at some time in the future so you may wish to follow to see what answered are given. I’ll give my answers here. Unfortunately, Dave does not have comments open on his blog. I may be responsible for that, in asking too many questions that pointed out the problems in Christian claims.  If you are a regular reader here, you’ve seen this information before.

Why-indeed shelley quoteIf God wants us to believe in him, why doesn’t he make it obvious? Why does he seem to play hide and seek with us?

That’s a good observation. This god doesn’t make anything obvious, and if one is to believe that this god wrote or directly inspired the bible, one has to ask, why does this entity contradict itself repeatedly and make promises that are not fulfilled. Christians will claim that this god constantly does miracles as evidence, but when it is pointed out that lots of people who need these miracles don’t get them despite prayers e.g. when priests are raping children or when parents murder their children by not getting medical attention, then we get the excuses that this god doesn’t always do miracles, that this god will answer them only if that is the best answer according to it, or it may get around to doing the miracle later. However, if you read the bible, it doesn’t say this will happen. Prayers will be answered immediately (the mountain moves), positively, (a father would not give their child a snake if asked for a fish), and that any prayer will be answered as long as you ask it in JC’s name. Christians offer the caveat that the prayer must be what God intended anyway, which means a prayer is worthless.

There is also the problem that the essential events of the bible have no extra-biblical support for them. There are mentions of Christians in historical documents but not of the essential events in the bible. It is very hard to pin down when these events supposedly happened since even Christians disagree on what happened and when.

If God is the creator of all things, who or what created God?

Most Christians will try to claim that their god has always existed and thus does not need a creator. The first cause (cosmological) argument is based on the assumption that the Christian god is the only god, and that has always existed. Most, if not all, other religions make the same claim, which leaves us with a lot of competing gods and no evidence for any of them.  There is also nothing that says that the laws of physics can’t simply have “always existed”.

lightningIf God made a good world, why are there things like volcanos, earthquakes and floods that cause so much suffering?

Most Christians will blame the “fall”, which depends on a literal belief in the bible’s claims, something that they don’t always agree on.

Why doesn’t God act to stop all suffering?

One would think that an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being would do this, eliminate all suffering. Christians disagree on the reason that their god seems to have no problem allowing it and indeed reveling in it. Some Christians are sure that humans deserve to suffer, that we all bear some responsibility for the “fall”. Some Christians claim that if there was no suffering we would not know what good was, which is a bit of a problem for their claims about heaven. Still others claim that suffering can lead to good, which is fine to argue when the actors aren’t omnipotent, but doesn’t work quite so well with an omnipotent and supposedly omnibenevolent deity. If this god cannot get things to work without evil, it evidently isn’t all-powerful. By definition there should be nothing that this god can’t do. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – 960,000 tons of what?

sabbathI’ve been crossing swords with a particularly tenacious Christian, “scientific christian” (you already know where things are going with that screen name) and the discussion has gone far and wide, though mostly staying around the idea of having evidence supports one’s claims. My apologies for anyone who commented in that thread and has thus been caught in the post storm. WordPress really needs to work on allowing people to disengage from comment threads.

Thanks to SC, I’ve discovered some pretty amusing claims in the bible (and that some Christians are unrepentant liars but I already knew that). SC is quite sure that the “exodus” happened and there was an “empty tomb” amongst other things. He’s also just as sure that the bible is wrong when it claims that there was hundreds of thousands of Israelites coming out of Egypt after the supposed exodus. He’s a great example of a Christian cherry-picking things when reality shows that their claims aren’t true. Suddenly, the bible and its multitude of supposedly deity-inspired translators are wrong, and obscure websites are correct when they claim only a few thousands left, because, you see, there is no evidence for 600,000 men plus the women, children and animals.

But to the fun stuff!

In the story of the exodus related in Numbers, we have the following: Numbers 11 “Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” (this story is also in Exodus 16. FYI, this is from the NASB bible)

So we have an area of approximately 706 square miles (15 miles is about what a person can walk in a day) covered 6 feet deep in quail. And per the bible, every man gathered a little shy of 2 tons of the quail. This would be, if my calculations are correct, 960,000 tons of quail.

And this isn’t the all the quail. That was just what was collected. As a cubic footage, we have approximately 1.180811 cubic feet of quail, or 118,080,000,000 cubic feet of quail. If one assumes the average quail as 9” x 5” x 5” this means that there are 15,350,400,000 individual quails and if each weighs about 6 oz (large for quail but we can afford to give a bit), we get about 2,878,200 tons of quail. Even if one assumes that the quails weren’t even, and assume 3 feet deep, we still get 1,439,100 tons of quail.

The middens would be full of quail bones and human poo, amongst other things.

Now on to the poo!

In Exodus, the Israelites are told to bury their feces because their god might notice in them, Deuteronomy 23: “12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14 Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.” Doesn’t speak very well for its omniscience, eh?

Humans poop about 125 grams a day. With 600,000 men, we get 37 tons of poo a day and that isn’t even counting the women, children and animals, grass eaters that poop a *lot*.

The “exodus” should have quite a bit of evidence for it, 40 years worth of garbage. It has none and Christians like SC, are reduced to claiming that just a few thousand left Egypt, while simultaneously stuck with the claims of the rest of the OT where Israel could field armies in the hundreds of thousands.

(admittedly, I suck at math. Feel free to check my calculations and correct me.)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a star in the east…. wait a minute…

christmas-star-failI think I’ve mentioned here on this blog somewhere that I ran the planetarium when I was in college as a work-study job. Every November and December, we ran a Christmas star show, which showed that the story was a lot of nonsense. But people still flocked to it because they didn’t pay attention and were sure that it was about them and their religion (rather like Christians being sure that the song “Take me to church” is flattering to religion. Hint: it isn’t).

One thing that I recently read about the Christmas nativity story struck me as something rather new (I got this from my FFRF newspaper and the article was by Barbara Walker, an author). It’s just one more in the pile of bizarreness, contradiction and nonsense that is the nativity story (the story everyone knows is a mash of Matt and Luke), but this point satisfies my love of astronomy and geography. Let’s look at a few verses (I’m using the KJV because the more extreme of Christians seem to favor it:

“2 2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

And then:

9 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.”

Now, some versions have footnotes that say that this “really” means that the magi saw the star while *they* were in the east, but the translations, ostensibly all guided by God, don’t say this. What they actually say is that the magi (a Persian term) saw this star as it rose. Stars rise in the east. Oh and Luke doesn’t mention a star at all, something that would be pretty obvious to shepherds (who aren’t out in the fields in December…) Sigh.

It’s a bit hard to follow a star that is in the east, to find someplace west of you, unless you go the loooong way around. There is an obscure prophecy in Numbers that mentions a star out of Jacob and it seems that this star had to make and appearance to validate the story.

As for the “war on Christmas”, I think it’s best done by idiot preachers screaming that Santa isn’t real to children (of course it was in the US). Seems like someone isn’t getting the attention he thinks he deserves, tsk.

In case you’re curious, a couple of older holiday posts:


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When you aren’t getting all of the story

twain-convictionsI’ve been thinking about how people often don’t get the whole story. They can do this by willfully ignoring information, trusting unwisely, or by simple laziness.   This election is full of all of these, perhaps most blatantly shown in the idiocy of people here in PA buying more and more guns, because, you of course remember when Obama took all of the ones we had….not.

When you don’t get the whole story and then find it out yourself, your world can suffer a heck of paradigm shift, depending on the discovered information. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I was drafted into the school choir. I just wanted to be left alone to read, so I was not happy about the whole thing (especially since the music teacher didn’t allow kids who wanted to be part of the choir in). I found myself reading the song book, and one of the songs was “This land is your land, this land is my land” by Woody Guthrie. It’s a simple tune so it was something you can teach kids.   But they don’t teach all of it. And there I discovered that a patriotic song can have some less than flattering lyrics in it. This was back in the 70s so I was vaguely aware of some people disagreeing with the government but to find it in a song that was always presented as perky jingoism, it was a game changer.

Religion often does this same thing, presenting things one way and really hoping no one does any research to discover what is claimed is wrong. Over the years, I’ve had a fair amount of push back from some Christians who get indignant when I point out that their religion is a cherry picked mess and this is largely from them blindly trusting their leaders, who depend on them being ignorant. I’ve been told that no one would do such a thing, to leave out the uncomfortable parts.

I’ve been toying with writing a post about this but was waiting until I could find a good example. I stumbled upon a blog by a pastor in England, Dave, who attracted my attention by writing some posts about atheism and things I knew weren’t true about Christianity. We discussed various topics on his blog (here and here for a couple) and then he shut down the comments section (although he was kind enough to leave up my comments). He may have had other reasons but the most obvious is that he didn’t want to answer questions and allow his congregation to see the interaction. I kept my follow on his blog anyway, and I was interested when he did a short series of posts on how to teach/preach about Revelation.

That book is weird at best and other than to get their jollies imagining getting their final reward, most Christians haven’t much of a clue what it has in it. And it would seem that Dave would like to keep it that way although it can a bit hard even for pastors since, if you mention the final rebellion against this god after an aeon of rule by JC, it is a little strange if you don’t mention the cause.

There is the statement that the sermon would entail requesting the congregants to read the book, but there is also the caveat that one should not look overly much at the details in the book, that they would distract from what the pastor would declare as the overarching themes. And if those verses don’t fit the themes that were presupposed before the reading, they will be ignored, as Dave skipped over the problematic death and destruction, and his god working with Satan, in his review of the chapters.

I got my example of expurgation of the inconvenient, and Dave also did a great job in showing that Christians don’t agree much on what the book means, or how to interpret it or even who wrote it. For all of the claims of how there is some universal truth to be found in the bible, that baseless claim is thrown into sharp relief in Revelation.

(Dave, if you do read this, I am most curious on how the sermons went, if you do indeed mention that God works with Satan.)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – they’ll still be here, and that’s fine – now we remember

The fellow is Ted Nugent, who once had a mildly popular rock song. He was sure that he was on some hit lit by Obama et al. His prediction failed too. Now emblematic of many Trump supporters.

The fellow is Ted Nugent, who once had a mildly popular rock song. He was sure that he was on some hit lit by Obama et al. His prediction failed too. Now emblematic of many Trump supporters.

Even though I have known that the US had people who were ignorant and hateful, they were always in the background. In my lifetime, which consists of the late 60s and onward, we kept moving forward, incrementally sure, but we did move. The David Dukes, the vast majority of both my spouse’s and my rural white ill-educated families, the fearful and ignorant conservatives I overhear at work, they were always there, but I was sure that they’d always be a minor thing, some humans will always be dumb. This is a post about what’s going on in the US politically, in case you didn’t guess.

Then came the wannabee despot, and all of these people were more than happy to follow him, a pied piper calling the rats out of the sewers. They want to think themselves something special but they aren’t; we’ve seen them waving flags on newsreel tapes from Nuremberg, from Red Square in Moscow, etc.   There are a certain fraction of people who want to be led, to be told that they are special and that they deserve better. That will believe claims that the demagogue of the day will grant “every dream you ever dreamed”.   You’d think humans would get it by now.

But oh no.

We have Republicans who are horrified that they are associated with this wannabee despot. S.E. Cupp, a commentator who has been on CNN and I think on MSNBC is upset that Republican women get it from “both sides”. Ms. Cupp, if you are getting abuse from Republicans, then you might want to consider why? Is it that the party is not friendly to women?   Your complaints are about as interesting as a homosexual person who is Republican who complains that the party doesn’t support them either. I’ve never been able to figure out the Log Cabin Republicans. Who is using who?

Oh and I’d consider being called a loser by an idiot like Trump a badge of honor. I have no idea why you would care or would complain about being called such a thing by such a twit. (and yes, Ms. Cupp is one big ol’ hypocrite as she has been for as long as I’ve been aware of her. She is an atheist but says she “really aspires to be a person of faith some day”. When she invents her own god that she can be proud of?).

Of course, we do have Republicans, who in theory should know better, but have no problem in following Trump and espousing his nonsense, which would indicate that no, they didn’t know better and were for this crap all along. We have more lies by a Christian, Newt Gingrich, that lovely fellow that ignores Christianity when convenient, that as soon as Democrats get into power, that somehow magically Ms. Clinton will remove “our father” from the Lord’s Prayer. This was in a speech to the Association of Mature American Citizens, a particularly fearful selection of senior citizens who evidently are sure that there was a magical golden age when they were young, forgetting the hatred given to people of different ethnicities, women, LGBTQ, etc. Ah, but these folks who so hate government (horrors if anyone gets healthcare through the Affordable Care Act) are really really concerned that this government that they are sure shouldn’t exist might not give them their Social Security payments and Medicare. Yep, these are the greedy twits that are your ignorant uncle at the table. I do have to wonder if the whole thing is a scam because it’s such a stereotype of your average Baby Boomer. Hmm, Newt and now Donny, both who have done many things against what are supposedly conservative Christian morals. Now, why would such people support those that make a mockery of their religion? Could it be that they are more interested in power than their supposed savior? Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – insisting on apologies for telling the truth

no-evidence-no-respectThere’s an op-ed by Christine Flowers, a conservative Catholic with a problem. She isn’t happy that her religion is presented in a less than favorable light by some emails that are supposedly from the Clinton campaign, released by Wikileaks. She demands that Ms. Clinton apologize for what one of her staffers said. Let’s see how this plays out.

Ms. Flowers is aghast that anyone would point out that her church is rather medieval in its outlook, and sophist in its approach. She, like many American Roman Catholics, has invented her own Catholicism, picking and choosing what she obeys. However, if you show that she and her church are without base for their claims and hypocrites, then the wagons get circled immediately. She claims she can’t bear to actually post what was said except for one excerpt, but we can do that easily enough.

This is the excerpt she posted “Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the (Supreme Court) and think tanks to the media and social groups. It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”

Hmmm, now, is there anything untrue about this? Well, there is and it’s from the fellows assuming that there is anything called “Christian democracy” since that term is never supported or mentioned by the bible’s Christianity nor by the Roman Catholic Church. Some more liberal Christians from various sects (including Catholics) do go by this, but it is an invention to match modern mores, not biblical standards. The truths stated are that the RCC has very systemic thought (going all the way back to the Church fathers aka Thomism amongst others) that is still considered dogma, and the completely ignorant ideas about women and homosexuals that the RCC tries to instill as law in any country they can. We have blasphemy laws still on the books in majority Catholic countries, and we have such wannabe theocracies like El Salvador where the RCC is so strong, a woman can’t get an abortion for any reason and children are forced to have babies or die in the attempt. We also have the RCC’s efforts to prevent sex education and their concerted effort in countries in Africa where AIDS is rampant to prevent anyone from taking any precautions at all, including wearing condoms. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “I’m shocked, shocked…..”

(addendum: unsurprisingly, we have some of those “shocked” people now insisting that Trump is perfectly fine now, including a number of pastors.  Thanks folks, nothing like showing the religious right is simply cowards and hypocrites)

“I’m shocked, shocked that gambling is going on in here.”

“Your winnings, sir.”

Just finished watching CBS Sunday Morning, where it had Ben Stein being just as sincere as Captain Renault in his indignation about how bad Donald Trump is. Ben Stein, as a lot of you know, is the same fellow who was involved with the nonsense “Expelled” about creationism in schools.

He’s just the latest in a long line of Republicans who are now condemning Trump, despite having no problem with Trump saying things about women, immigrants, Mexicans, veterans, etc, all disgusting and all lies. We have two choices in what they say here: it’s just hypocrisy, or it is people who made a terrible choice and now have finally come to their senses, and it took Trump touting how great sexual assault is to do it. Neither conclusion reflects well on these people, but if it is the second, at least they did come to their senses, like Captain Renault does in Casablanca.

Of course we still have Republicans who are saying that what Trump says is just fine, including people who self-describe as conservative Christians. They say that their god is using Trump. Well, if this god can’t come up with a better tool than Trump, then it isn’t much of a god, is it?

Trump apologized for something 11 years ago. And never once changed his actions or his words in those intervening 11 years right up to now, consistently treating women, and everyone else, like the bully he is. There is no reason to accept the crocodile’s tears.