Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a new poll indicating a more secular America, and a hardening of evangelicals

The Public Religion Research Institute has come out with a new poll on the religious attitudes in the US, specifically about gender and sex: “Majority of Americans Oppose Transgender Bathroom Restrictions”    It indicates that attitudes are changing, with white evangelicals losing ground for their claims of having a divine “truth”.   Curiously enough, this group voted overwhelmingly for Trump, a man who ignored them until it was politically convenient.  This does show how much a promise of returning people back to a time when they felt in control can get their support.

A Salon article about the research, says the following: “Despite all the conservative posturing about how their movement represents “real” America and liberal political attitudes are restricted mainly to the “coastal elite,” new research from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) suggests that, at least in political terms, most Americans are secular in their orientation. While many Americans may still hold conservative personal beliefs, when it comes to the issue of church-state separation, large majorities reject efforts by the religious right to use the power of the state to impose conservative Christian values on others. 

In fact, the polling data shows that there’s really only one group of Americans that rejects a secular society: White evangelical Christians. And this study is just further evidence that a lot of the political polarization in our country is the direct result of white evangelical Christians realizing that they are no longer dominant majority, and lashing out angrily in an effort to regain the levels of dominance they used to enjoy.”

The need for no change and obedience to their demands is what many Christian conservatives evince.  They need that external validation for their beliefs; the mere existence of anyone who doesn’t agree with them (and isn’t being punished by some god) shows that their beliefs are not quite what they claim.  If they do not get this obedience and agreement, they often seem to act out like a three year old who isn’t getting her way.

For additional information on the actions of those who need to imagine that they and theirs are in authority, I recommend Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – hmmm, God or Tyvek(tm)

This is Ray “Banana Man” Comfort’s latest little trick

Shucks, it’s a tract printed on Tyvek(tm) or some similar tear-resistant material.  So, poor ol’ Ray has to depend on modern science to try to pretend that there is something magical happening.  Funny how a pair of scissors or a nice knife can overwhelm this sad attempt at using parlor tricks to convince someone of a divine being.  Humans are pretty clever tool users.

Let’s look at the back, shall we?

Ah, always great to see TrueChristians depending on anything but their god.   Hmm, Ray, have you lied, oh, about how something can be torn?  Are you choosing to lie to try to trick people?  For all of the claims of hell, it seems that it’ll be full up with TrueChristians like Ray.  as for that last sentence “Then read the Bible daily and obey what you read (see John 14:21). God will never let you down.”  I wonder, how many people has Ray killed for breaking that Sabbath that Christians can’t quite agree on when it is.  Or is this just something that is too inconvenient to obey if you read it?  (and for observant readers who want to know what John 14:21 says, I’ll even give you a bit more: “20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”) 

You can get a whole 5 of them for $7.  And indeed as Ray says in his newsletter, you’d better get out there and do something useless like put a tract somewhere and pay him for them, because, well, let’s have Ray say it himself “Are you going to leave a gospel tract somewhere today? Whatever you do, do something today. Tomorrow may never come.”



Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a gathering of thoughts about various recent events.

and this is the fellow that some atheists claim is a nice guy

and this is the fellow that some atheists claim is a nice guy

Vermin-in-Chief Ray Comfort, the fellow who tried to get atheists to take his book by giving out food gift certificates and was shamed in to giving said certificates to people who need food (still $7,000 unaccounted for), wants to tell his followers to tell the Jewish people that they are so very “angry” about the bomb threats and defacement of their cemeteries but hey, let me tell you about Jesus.”

Directly from the email that Living Waters sent out: “You can use these sick acts as an excuse to extend some extra love to the Jewish people in your life. With sensitivity and empathy, tell them how angry you were to hear of it. Lead the conversation into the Jewish Messiah who died on the cross, in fulfillment of the Holy Scriptures prophecies.”

Because it’s always good for Christians to use things to spread their nonsense and tell Jews, “Hey, you’re going to hell, but a shame about those tombstones.”

The Kellyanne Conway on the couch thing? Can you imagine on what the GOTP would have said if FLOTUS Obama would have done that?   We had enough comparisons of her to an ape from the usual deplorables. I wonder, does Conway know to take her shoes off before she climbs on the furniture? I think I learned that before kindergarten. Oh, it seems that some dickhead Democrat male made some comment about a woman kneeling. Jackasses on all sides, it seems.

Trump now wants to blame anyone and everyone for the failed military operation in Yemen, but simultaneously wants to claim it recovered very good intelligence, and now they have what appears to be a snipe hunt going on, with claims of “hundreds” of names that they are supposedly tracking down that they supposedly found during the raid. The vet who sits in the same room with me wonders about someone who blames the soldiers for something he approved over dinner and then ignored while it was going on.

Witches supposedly tried to cast a spell on Trump. Alas, no more effect than a prayer. Now where are those “real” spells so many Christian twits claimed that I would learn from playing Dungeons and Dragons?

Good article on what the EPA has done for the US, and how fucking stupid it is to think to dismantle it from Popular Science.

Good article on abiogenesis and how the RNA world model might not be correct.

All for today.  If you are a new reader or old, please do visit the Boss’s Office to see my stance on how I allow comments.  Bring your facts with you if you care to discuss things with me.

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.)