Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – It’s spring and the PA legislator lies are in bloom!

prayer is like gamblingIt’s that time of year again, when trees are blooming and legislators give a sop to their  constituents, trying to make believe that their version of Christianity is the state religion of Pennsylvania and the US.  Last year it was the nonsense about the “Year of the Bible”, which I posted about here, and here, .  Now we have more stealing of money from taxpayers in order to bother people about religion. 

As Judge Christopher Conner said in his rebuke to the “Year of the Bible” nonsense: 

“However, the court’s determination that the defendants engaged in a “legislative act” for purposes of immunity should not be viewed as judicial endorsement of this resolution. It most certainly is not. 

At best, H.R. 535 is a benign attempt to reaffirm the underlying principles of the Reagan proclamation of 1983. At worst, it is premeditated pandering designed to provide a reelection sound bite for use by members of the General Assembly. But regardless of the motivation behind H.R. 535, its express language is proselytizing and exclusionary (e.g., “ Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people”). 

The court is compelled to shine a clear, bright light on this resolution because it pushes the Establishment Clause envelope behind the safety glass of legislative immunity. That it passed unanimously is even more alarming. 

This judicial rebuke of the resolution is not intended to impugn the religious beliefs of any citizen. To the contrary, the court’s disapprobation is directed to the blatant use of legislative resources in contravention of the spirit – if not the letter – of the Establishment Clause. At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit all of the citizens of the Commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs.” – Case No. 1:12-cv-536 decision 

I wonder if the good judge knows that these idiots have basically said “Fuck you.” in the new resolutions.  

Now, House resolutions don’t really mean anything.  They range from recognizing a museum for a good exhibit, claiming that Maggie Thatcher was a “great” American friend and British patriot, to naming a bridge after some fallen serviceperson.  It’s my opinion they are all just a waste of time and money.  Yes, it’s nice to memorialize someone by naming a bridge after them but that can be done on the local level.  They require time and resources that could be better used in other ways.   

The two resolutions that have been adopted are HR 17, authored by a Republican and HR 51, authored by a Democrat.   So, the blame for this nonsense isn’t limited to just one party. 

HR 17 is a resolution to recognize “National Fast Day”.  This is a bit of US Civil War nonsense which is now in the spotlight thanks to it being 150 years since American merrily killed each other by the hundreds of thousands over the right to own another human being as property.  Pennsylvania is home to ostensibly the most famous battle of the war, Gettysburg, so we get to hear lots about it.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – It’s spring and the PA legislator lies are in bloom!”

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned

(Today is March 8 and the Miltary Religious Freedom Foundation has called upon people to protest the United StatesAirForceAcademy’s action of using a malicious homophobic amateur website as a source for information on Jewish holidays.  They had no problem in using a neutral website like about.com to use as a link for Christian holidays.  It is a shame that the US Air Force Academy must continue in its religious intolerance and that its leadership still thinks that no one is noticing. General Welsh, homosexuals are allowed in the military now. Time you and your staff got over it.)    

Since Mr. Rogers has apparently been unable to continue to educate me on how “wrong” I supposedly am or to rebut my demonstration of his errors, I thought I’d take one last look at his blog to see if I could mine it for a blog post.  Getting my attention, telling me I’m wrong and then evidently running away when shown wrong just whets this leopard’s appetite for more. 

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets.  Yay, dead people! Yeesh.
yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets. Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

I found a doozyWhat about those who have never heard the gospel?”  It’s a good lead into talking about heaven and hell and free will in this season where myths about people being nailed to crosses as blood sacrifices and first born being murdered by imaginary deities are so popular.  

As a bit of an aside, I don’t believe in complete free will.  I think we are beings limited to the physical and chemical laws of this universe, including the chemicals that we’ve been exposed to that form emotions in our brains.  However, within that, I think we can make mostly free choices if we are educated enough about how emotions, trauma, heredity and upbringing mark our brains and thought processes.  We still can’t decide to fly without mechanical help though, sigh.  The title of this blog entry is a paraphrase of a very good sociology textbook I had way back when.

A lot of Christians and theists in general, have a problem with their god damning anyone who doesn’t believe in it. I’m glad they do since it shows that they are decent and humane people despite their religion. This is also the question a lot of kids ask when they realize that people aren’t all just like them.  They have friends who don’t believe like they do and they care about them. 

This issue gets even more problematic since belief is entirely dependent on where you were born and when. For example, someone born in Alabama, USA isn’t likely to have a Zoroastrian family or be taught Shinto philosophy.  To deal with the problem of divine punishment, we have different claims by different sects. Some sects of Christianity go for universalism, where everyone eventually gets to heaven, even if they have a short stay in hell to correct them.  We have the Roman Catholics who say “well, other religions have at least part of the truth” so maybe they won’t go to hell, but they certainly won’t get *our* afterlife presents.”  Some think that God knows better than humans, and is only concerned if you are a decent, humane person and worship doesn’t matter. Some think that there is no hell, but non-believers are simply annihilated. As you can see, so much for one supposed “truth”. 

In the blog post, Mr. Rogers talks about a book called “Letters from a Skeptic” where a Christian theologian exchanges letter with his father who is a skeptic and who asks the question above (supposedly the father converts).  What’s amusing is that Greg Boyd doesn’t agree with much of what Mr. Rogers claims as the truth.  It’s always a problem with Christians, they find something they like and then have to realize that the book they find really great is by someone who they are sure is going to hell. Again, I would guess that Mr. Rogers would decide that he agrees a little with Mr. Boyd, just like he thinks Mother Teresa was good too, though by his own sects words, she’s going to hell.  She’s probably there anyway, considering that one, she was a hypocrite (link to the paper mentioned, in French only at the moment) and two, she admitted to not feeling any god at all.  I do wonder how they can find the parts that are true and ignore the parts that aren’t.  That ol’ magic decoder ring again, I know. It’s used on the bible so why not use it on heretic writings if you find it convenient? 

Mr. Rogers, to his credit, acknowledges the problems that most Christians have with the idea of being damned for a very silly reason.  He also mentions the usual problem with missionary work, that if you believe that people who haven’t heard of God will go to heaven since they never had a chance to reject God, then the worst thing you can ever do is tell them about God since now they can reject the idea.  However, Mr. Rogers is sure that they’re damned anyway.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – How silly the Qu’ran is and a bonus photo of my cat

It seems like Mr. Rogers isn’t coming back, though I do hope that isn’t the case.  This is unsuprising.  The usual scenario is that the TrueChristiantm will convince himself that I didn’t “really” want to discuss Christianity and he’ll tell himself that I wasn’t honest.  That’s a real two-fer in lying.    

Mordred, my scrawny little black cat
Mordred, my scrawny little black cat

First a cute picture of my one cat, Mordred.  You’d never be able to force him to sit so pretty in my beer photography box but here he is, sitting there on his own.

Mohammed supposedly liked cats. A legend speaks about his cat Muezza.  I will have to say, I always have an irrational soft spot for anyone who likes cats.  Vladimir Putin likes snow leopards.  🙂 

I thought I’d address just how another religion could make an interesting mini-series with the nonsense found with in its holy book.  Islam has some similarities to Christianity and Judaism, claiming to be worshipping the same god, accepting some of what the other two claim but it does differ.  Here’s a link to translations of the qu’ran.

All postulate a rather bizarre opponent for their god.  In Islam, we have the devil/Satan in the guise of Iblis/Shaitan.  Now, for enitites that supposedly know that this god is omnieverything, they certainly make some rather ridiculous decisions.  Yep, let’s go against something we know we can’t beat.  A human emotion to be sure, since us humans are stubborn creatures, sure that our luck will get us through.  We all have doubts about how powerful something really is, but these angels supposedly knew better.  It sounds rather like the Israelites in the exodus,who supposedly saw this god do all sorts of magical things but still bitched about the quail and manna.  As usual, this god is a snotty thing and just says “I know better than you” when it comes to answering the valid question of the angels e.g. why the heck are you placing a flawed being in charge of earth when you got all of us?  Of course, just like in the bible creation story, we see that this god screws up.

Noah has arguments with the folks that live on the earth with him prior to the flood. He claims to be warning them but it’s rather hard for anyone to believe someone who can’t show that a god exists, much less that he can talk to it.  Even Noah’s son disbelieved Noah.  It does have Noah saying that if this god wants to kill you and not bother with showing he exists, that’s okay.   

 We also have the same Sodom and Gomorrah.  That’s another great one to have, showing how a father has no problem in offering his children to a rapacious crowd to protect two supposed angels.  He’s not told he shouldn’t do that, and to add insult to injury, the angels say “leave your wife here to die.”  Lot’s wife isn’t turned to salt in this one. I will have to say, at least the bible is easier to read than the qu’ran. No wonder it needs the hadith so badly. 

The Islamic Abraham is at least more honest than the bible one.  IA is “hey kid, you’re going to be sacrificed” (assumed it is Ishmael, but no name given) whilst BA is “let’s go for a walk.” (Issac in this)  Both should be great to see on screen, a father willing to do *anything* he’s told, including murder his child.  And a omnipotent god needing to test anyone?  Not so omniscient is he?  

Isn't this an awesome bird?  it's latin name is Upupa Epops!
Isn’t this an awesome bird? it’s latin name is Upupa Epops!

Solomon chats with ants and birds and it’s acknowledged that there is magic that can be confused with a god’s actions. (Sura 27). Solomon also gets upset with a hoopoe for being absent.  The hoopoe was out spying on the Queen of Sheba.   

Unsuprisingly, the qu’ran is just as rife with contradictions as the bible.  And often has the same problems.  There are a few sites out there (answering islam, being one of them) who are Christians who are so smug about how they’ve found so much wrong with the qu’ran; nothing like watching the pot call the kettle black.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Mr. Rogers and how willful ignorance isn’t a good place to start

blindThis post from Mr. Rogers addresses my supposed distortions claimed here.  I’ve added bullets in his post to make it easier to read.  As the reader will note, a lot of dealing with theists is repetitive.

There are many distortions in your piece, but let’s just start at the beginning, where you say, “none of the essential events of the Bible have been shown to occur at all.” That’s quite a broad statement! I’ve never heard of historians question that Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt,

  • or that the Hebrews fought the Canaanites to occupy Palestine,
  • or that King David and Solomon were powerful Jewish rulers,
  • or that Assyrian kings captured and deported Hebrews from the northern part of Israel,
  • or that Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon and Jews were exiled to Babylon, or
  • that Jews returned and settled in Palestine, or
  • that a man named Jesus existed during the first century in Palestine and was killed,
  • and His followers testified to His resurrection, or
  • Christianity began to rapidly spread in the first century.

These are all essential events of the Bible. Are you seriously saying that there is no evidence that these events happened? Now I challenge you to show that they did not occur. Answer that one, and we can then proceed to your next distortion.

John did a good job at replying to this, but I’ll answer too.  You have claimed that you have “never heard of historians question”  the events of the exodus.  That is a shame since they have.  You have offered a variant on the logical fallacy, the argument from personal incredulity.  Since Mr. Rogers hasn’t heard of something, therefore it must not be true.   Well, Mr. Rogers, I have a reading list for you.  The wiki entry on the exodus has a great bibliography on all of those historians who don’t agree with you.  Some of those events you list seem to have happened, for instance the Israelites being overwhelmed by the empire of Babylon and came back.  We can find evidence for that.  There were probably wars that had people captured and deported.  We know that Christianity spread quickly in the first century. We have evidence of that, contemporary writings, etc.  But JC existed? No we have no evidence of a man/god did miracles, gathered a legion’s worth of people outside of a occupied city at least twice, etc.  You try hard but mixing plausible events with implausible ones fools only those who want to be fooled.  I suggest you do not rely on willful ignorance to defend your faith. It always fails, especially in this age of easily found information.  No wonder the SBC is consistently shrinking.

You see, Mr. Rogers, myths often have roots in reality but that does not make them real.  We know that Athens exists but I doubt you believe that Athena and Poseidon contested over naming the city.  We know that humans love to make war on each other so plenty of battles probably happened. But having god have a magic box that the Israelites carried into battle that helped them win, no evidence for that.  We know that messiahs were a dime a dozen in ancient Palestine but we have no evidence one was really doing magic or was crucified or rose from the dead.  I can point to many books that have mention of real people and real events but they are fiction, like most political thrillers written today.  I’m guessing you’ll bring out the old “but why would people die for this?” argument.  People have cut off their penises and killed themselves because they were told a spaceship was coming to get them.  People often aren’t real bright when it comes to believing in things.

The exodus, described in the bible, is a massive event.  We have plagues, huge numbers of food animals dead, all of the first born murdered (animals and humans),  the entire Egyptian army destroyed,  and  supposedly this “about 600,000 soldiers on foot, besides their families. 38 An ethnically diverse crowd also went up with them, along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds.”  left  Egypt.  Assuming a wife and 2 kids, there were more than 2 million people plus animals wandering around for 20 years. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Mr. Rogers and how willful ignorance isn’t a good place to start”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Mr. Rogers and parables (not that Mr. Rogers)

kingHappily, Mr. Rogers has returned.  To make things easier, I am going to address his comments here in a blog post so we can keep things somewhat coherent.  His posts will be in italics and my response will follow them.

I don’t claim Christians are “better.” We are sinners, saved by God’s grace. I did not “desperately” hope that you were hurt. I don’t wish that on anybody, and I’m glad you were not. I’m just trying to discern why the extremely sarcastic tone. It’s interesting that you reacted so strongly against my incorrect projection on you of what you think and feel, yet you freely project upon me what I think and feel, saying I “desperately” wanted something to be so and referring to “preachers like you” as if you know what I’m like.

Now regarding a true Christian, it is someone who trusts in Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross to save him or her from sin, and decides to follow Christ with his or her life. You are reading into my words about Mother Teresa something I did not say or imply. I think she is a great model of a Christian, and I spoke of the wonderful way she lived out her faith in the blog post that you quote. I do disagree with her teachings on salvation, but to say that I say she “deserved to be damned” is not what I said or believe, at all. You took Luke 19:27 out of context. Jesus was telling a parable about a king saying to execute his enemies; this was not a command by Jesus to execute anybody. My blog on Bible translations already answered your question, but you didn’t seem to be paying attention. Yes, I know there are some people who think there is only one translation, but most Christians don’t think that. Are you going to judge Christians by a minority who are poor examples? Do you want me to judge all atheists by the bad representatives, like Joseph Stalin or Mao-tse-tung? That would not be fair to atheists, would it?

I have already given an example of your Bible distortions in your reply above. This is already getting long, so I’ll do a separate reply to point out distortions in your original post.

He thinks *that’s* long. 🙂

Mr. Rogers, all theists claim that they are better than everyone else simply by saying “we have the right answer and you don’t and will be damned/punished by our god”.  Most, of not all theists, claim that their god does things for them e.g. “miracles”.  Most theists, if not all, claim that those who do not agree with them are either stupid, duped, hateful or rebellious. That certainly seems like claiming you are better to me.  It’s like how fans of one American football team are sure that they have made the right choice and everyone else are “losers”.

As for if you hoped that I was hurt by someone who was defined by you as not a real Christian, I find that your immediate assumption that I was to be evidence of that hope.  You did not ask what made me an atheist, you made a faulty assumption that many Christians have in my experience, all certain that they were right in assuming that no one would ever leave their religion unless it was some person who was only pretending to be a Christian  upset the atheist.  I was indeed extremely sarcastic because I find the bible and many Christians’ cherry picking of it to be utterly ridiculous.  In my experience, movie makers and pastors do their best to ignore the more hilarious and nasty parts of the bible. I’ve sat through enough sermons and watched enough bible-based movies and television shows to know this well.  I decided to point out those parts that Christians do their best to pretend don’t exist, and I see I’ve hit a nerve.

I’ve been spending some time reading the qu’ran and finding just as many (for its size) stories that show how ignorant, violent and silly your god is in it too.  That’ll be a post in the future.

I see you find it “interesting” that I reacted against your *incorrect projection* on me.  Really?  You are surprised that I called you out on your lie about me?  As I noted above, you didn’t ask what made me come to the conclusion that there is no Christian god nor any god or supernatural at all.  If you were not intent on casting me as a strawman atheist, why not ask me directly? Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Mr. Rogers and parables (not that Mr. Rogers)”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A Pastor’s observations and my reply

I just love Harley.
I just love Harley.

Mr. Bob Rogers, a pastor with the Southern Baptist Convention, has commented on my post about the new History Channel mini-series “The Bible”.  Rather than allowing his comment and my response to languish in commentland, I thought I might post it here as an example of some other common Christian approaches to atheists.

“Oh, my, what a bitter tone we read here. So sad. I’d be glad to respond to some of your distortions if I thought you really wanted to listen, but I gather that there is a deeper issue here. Did a Christian hurt you? If so, I’m very sorry for that. Not all of Jesus’ so-called followers listen to His words to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).”

I’ve seen theists claim that atheists have to be bitter, sad, lonely, angry, hostile, stupid, ignorant, rebellious, etc.  I will more than happily admit to occasionally being angry and hostile.  I get that way when folks try to lie to me or about me and trie to cause harm based on an imaginary being.  I am not always angry and hostile and I also don’t think that theists always lie and always cause harm.   The assumption that atheists are only emotionally hurt is often used and I would argue is intended to devalue the atheist’s reasons.  Some atheists are indeed angry at Christians and upset that their former god doesn’t exist.  That’s not why I am an atheist. 

We also have the usual claims about what “real” Christians are.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you know what I think of those claims.

And for your delectation and amusement, my response:

Hello Mr. Rogers. Welcome to my blog. I see you are a pastor. From my perspective, your post does nothing to show that Christians are any better than anyone else, not even the professional ones. I am not bitter, though I’m sure you do desperately hope I am. That would be one of the few ways you could convince yourself that you are better off than me. I am also disappointed that you must make baseless assumptions that there is some “deeper issue” here and assume that I’m an atheist “only” because I had a run-in with a “bad Christian”. Nope, I’m not that dumb and if there were a god that was what is claimed, one bad apple certainly wouldn’t spoil the bunch. I know that people who happen to be Christians are often very nice people; most of my relatives are that. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A Pastor’s observations and my reply”