Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a peculiar Pollyanna

I’ve occasionally used the posts of a Christian minister to riff off of when it comes to showing how strange Christian arguments about their god and their religion.  It’s a way to have an actual Christian’s quotes to review and to point out how their claims don’t always work out quite like they intend.  For those who may not be familiar with the term “Pollyanna” it is from a movie, and has come to mean someone with a overly optimistic outlook, that every thing is wonderful and perfect, generally considered someone more than a bit naïve.

Pastor Dave has had a series of posts about creationism and his religion.  This is the most recent.  The basic argument is that the universe is evidence of this version of this religion’s god and that it is a result of this god’s “greatness”, which is a rather vague term, and its “goodness”, which shouldn’t be too hard to define but with many Christians, anything that this god can be claimed to do is “good” by default, a very circular argument.

He claims that “In Creation, we see God’s beauty, holiness and wisdom. For example, we see his holiness as God makes distinctions separating light from darkness, day from night, land from sea, sea from sky. This is the same God who will separate a people out for himself as a holy nation. This is also the God who, in his wisdom, creates an ordered and structured Universe.”

Now, considering what we know of the universe, it often isn’t very pleasant, and indeed, 99.999999999999…% of it is inimical to human life, supposedly this god’s favorite “creations”.   It includes the vacuum of space, guinea worms, gamma ray bursts, flesh eating bacteria (a some awful photos), water that is very deep with great pressures (also pretty gross), temperatures of millions of degrees and of many hundreds below zero, toxic gases, toxic liquids and things with lots of unpleasant venoms.   It takes an amazing amount of pure willful ignorance to try to make this argument, and an assumption that people are either too ignorant or simply too unintelligent to question it.  It could also simply be a lot of pure malice to control people by telling them such nonsense.

It also shows that the religious must try to convince themselves that they are special and above all other humans.  It’s not hard to see through history just what such ideas have done to humanity.

Pastor Dave tries to argue that this god cannot be a distant god, perhaps like the one that deists have invented, but a personal god that is constantly interfering with his creation, quoting John Calvin in that one cannot have a god that was just a momentary creator and claiming that “Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation.” The pastor makes the following claim: “God’s goodness, kindness, compassion and love are reflected in his providence.”   Calvin’s words reflect this: “After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.”

Really?  Goodness, kindness, compassion and love.  In this world, shown by this god.  Hmmm.  I wonder, can we tell this to the children who have their body parts cut off in Africa?  I guess the sparrow gets cherished and screw the children.   I guess it’s easy if you are comfy in a first world country to make such baseless claims and need external validation for your religion.

We also have the claim of predestination, which means that this god intends that everything happens as it does and approves of it.  I guess again, this god needed children who were made amputees in one of the worst ways possible, hacked by a machete.  “Providence describes the way in which God is concerned for the well-being of his creatures and so orders and sustains the very detail of Creation. Providence is a consequence of God’s Will and Decrees. In other words, everything happens because God predestines it.”.  and we are told that miracles do occur and are “natural” and are part of predestination.   In that there is no evidence for miracles period, there is no reason to think they real, much less natural or supernatural.   Having been a Presbyterian, I know quite a bit about the claims of Calvinists and predestination, which is nothing more than excusing a god, and declaring oneself to be extra special that one will be saved because this god chose you.  They aren’t much different from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this. And many Christians are sure that predestinationalists are entirely wrong.

Pastor Dave also wants us to know that this god works through “intermediate means” like him.  What he doesn’t explain is how does this work when pastors like him don’t agree on what this god wants.  He also wants us to believe that this god works through “processes of the water cycle and crop generation to bring this about”.  Hmmm, if this god can do miracles, why does it rely on natural processes that show that the claims of its bible never happened at all, and why does every other religion claim that their gods are responsible for the same natural processes?   And why do these natural processes fail sometimes and we have famines?  He also doesn’t quite get the “god of the gaps” idea.  The God of the gaps is a term where non-Christians have noted that the claims for his god aren’t true, and this god is only now able to be claimed as cause for processes we do not understand yet.  He wants to claim that his god is controlling all natural processes but that doesn’t work out very well for him because he wants to pick and choose when his god does something magical and when it does something by natural processes.   It’s awfully convenient to cherry pick like that, insisting that coincidence should be considered a miracle, and then be able to show no evidence at all that this god does anything.  It’s also quite funny to see him declare that his version of his god created a “mature universe” aka as it is right now,, when there is no evidence of that at all and indeed plenty of evidence that the universe became what it is today and wasn’t always this way.  Why some Christians try to lie about such things, when accepting the same science that shows that the universe has changed, as long as it makes them comfy, is rather ridiculous.  As for an orderly universe, yep, it does have certain physical laws that seem to control it, however, it’s a bit of a bummer when a star goes supernova and destroys what is around it.

Now, we get to the part where Pastor Dave claims this: “Providence encourages us to trust God’s provision and to depend on him every day.”  So how does that work out with the people who were murdered in that church down in Texas?  How many people does Dave think were praying desperately as the murderer was methodically walking around and shooting people in the head?  Did God need a baby to die of a high-power gunshot wound?  How about a good part of a family?  How about those people who were in the assisted living home in Philadelphia just today which burnt in a 5 alarm fire? Continue reading

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – wanting a theocracy? Certainly seems so. Also, cheating for fun and profit

not really sure who he is other than an actor and Catholic

In my last blog post, I pointed out how Trump and his minion Sessions are doing their best to create a theocracy in favor of their supporters conservative Christians. I then had some a conservative Christian, silenceofmind, participate in my comments. He asked what religion was being favored, and promised as soon as I told him, he would answer my questions. He of course lied and never answered the questions put to him. Still waiting, but why would one expect a conservative Christian to be honorable at this point?

He did his best to try to convince me, and others, that the “religious freedom” document released by Trump and Sessions wasn’t only for conservative Christians who have repeatedly tried to get their version of their religion treated as law. Seems he forgot this gem of Donnie’s: “I’ll tell you one thing: I get elected president, we’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again. Just remember that. And by the way, Christianity will have power, without having to form. Because if I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power. You don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have someone representing you very, very well. Remember that.”- January 23, 2016, Dordt College, Sioux City, Iowa.

Always fun to see again and again how wrong someone can be and how hard they try to avoid being caught.

He kept on with this on his own blog where more lies were told by an even greater number of TrueChristians™.   Oh, the hairshirts were worn and the ashes were scattered on how anyone daring to disagree with their version of their religion was a “mortal danger” to that religion. They of course forget that there are plenty of Christians who don’t agree with them at all.

And now we have even more evidence that yes, Trump and Sessions are indeed trying to create a theocracy for their conservative Christian followers, followers who ignore their very own bible when it comes following a man like Trump: Exodus 23:1 You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness” (and yes, Christians I can quote the bible and hold you accountable to that which you claim is the “truth”.  Also, humans being against liars and lying isn’t anything new to the human race.  It’s really pathetic when you try to claim that it is only a Christian view. See Code of Hammurabi)

Sessions, when building this memo, had “listening sessions” that unknown people were invited to. The Department of Justice has yet to release this information on who got a chance to give input to this memo. However, we can count on conservative Christian groups to be loud when they want to make their version of their religion law. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that has to spell that out in their name since no one could tell from their actions, has spilled the beans and let everyone know that they were invited and they are please that they, an organization that only defends conservative Christians, got their way. The Family Research Council (only for families that fit their description) was also hot to trot on this memo, to the point of already having things in place for it before it was announced. Most curious, that. It seems that Tony Perkins, often a guest of the White House, may have had a hand in the cookie jar, when the memo has that religious groups may be funded by the gov’t, who would choose one sect of a religion over another and one religion over another to make these decisions.

Of course, not one liberal Christian group has announced their involvement in these “listening sessions”. What they are doing is denouncing the memo and pointing out that it is indeed only meant to protect bigotry and ignorance.

We also have a lovely story today about Roy Moore, the fellow in Alabama who tried to get the ten commandments into a courthouse. Well, evidently those commandments and that bible doesn’t mean much to ol’ Roy since he intentionally lied when he said he wasn’t paid by his non-profit, ironically called The Foundation for Moral Law. It’s amazing how being paid $180,000 a year and needing a bodyguard (so much for faith, eh?) might slip a man’s mind and just be “forgotten” to be put on the major form that the IRS requires from charities, the 990 (I worked for a non-profit so know these well). It’s a shame that he and his family (they are of course employed by the onstensible “charity”) decided to lie to the government that is put into place by his god, if one believes Romans 13. One can guarantee many excuses will be given by TrueChristians™ about this, desperate to acknowledge that one more Christian has lied and has profited by the lying.

So, SOM, JB and all the other conservative Christians out there seeking to try to spread false information, your fellow Christians just let the figurative cat out of the bag and have indeed been behaving badly.   Your supposed messiah president lied to one group when he said he supported LGBT people and then betrayed them. He can be quoted as promising worldly power to conservative Christians. A much lauded conservative Christian has been discovered to be ignoring his ever-so important godly commandments Now, what does the bible say about liars and those who follow them?   What verse says this is just peachy and okay?

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – more inept lies and intentional deceit from TrueChristians™ , Natural Disaster edition

(note to my readers: if you followed this blog for food and travel, you may want to skip this post.  It is my unvarnished views on politics and religion)

I believe in contesting the lies of bullies and cowards at every turn. Susan Stamper Brown is a conservative Christian opinion writer. In that, we can expect her to be as deceitful as possible in her writings and her attempts to have her very own “facts”. In her recent opinion piece “Global Warning Alarmist Need to Lose the Arrogance”, she has tried to claim that one shouldn’t assign blame to humanity for natural disasters and complains when comedians point out that the theists, who have repeatedly threatened anyone who didn’t do as they wanted, suffer from these disasters too.  She whines about how dare they make natural disasters “leftwing attack dogs”.   (she also is a coward on Facebook, inventing her own echo chamber, but she can be reached at writestamper@gmail.com as per the link above)

Now, how many times have we heard threats about natural disasters from TrueChristians™?

Many Christians have made these threats often, with a local example of how Pat Robertson claiming that Dover, PA would have “problems” after removing creationism from its schools: “God is tolerant and loving, but we can’t keep sticking our finger in his eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them.”  

Pat also claimed that the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was a result of this god of his getting rather late revenge on Haitians since they rebelled against slavery. Jerry Falwell is famous for claiming that the 9/11 attacks were the fault of people not obeying his god, and once called on it apologized for his false claims. Since he said similar things after this, his apology was not something to take seriously. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, claimed that Hurricane Katrina was punishment. The American Family Association claimed that Hurricane Isaac was punishment.

Of course, the best in irony is that Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group, had his house flooded in a hurricane after claiming that natural disasters were punishment for non-Christians. He claimed that natural disasters were “God is trying to send us a message.” When he was agreeing with Jonathan Cahn who claimed that Hurricane Joaquin would hit Washington DC. Let’s see what exactly was said (transcript from http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/jonathan-cahn-hurricane-joaquin-may-hit-dc-as-punishment-for-gay-marriage/) Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation: Antics of Christians in the news, in a blog, and in a newsletter(NSFW because of what they said)

(note to my readers: if you followed this blog because of your interest in my recipes, brewing or drink reviews, you may want to back out now.  Anything that is titled “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation” is my unvarnished views of politics and/or religion. You’ve been warned 🙂 ).

Here are a few random things about religion. The first is about an opinion piece published in the New York Times by someone who really is afraid of anyone not like him. The second is a brief bit about what a pastor thinks about justice and the bible, and the third is just a few bits of crank mail from my FFRF newspaper and a link to a good blog post about the new bible “club” in the White House. The newspaper also has some very nice essays written by young atheists of color for a scholarship contest.

The NYT ran an opinion piece by Rob Dreher, a conservative Christian, “Trump Can’t Save American Christianity”.   Of course, Mr. Dreher is certain that his version of Christianity is the only true one.  He’s also one of the fellows who thinks that Christians really need to segregate themselves from anyone who disagrees with them.   Of course, that’s rather inconvenient and even he doesn’t follow his own recommendations.  Writing for the NYT isn’t exactly conducive to doing what he says.

He’s also jumped from Methodism, to Roman Catholicism, and now is with the Eastern Orthodox church.   Funny how the magical and divine “truth” can change, isn’t it?

In the article, Dreher wonders if Trump can do anything to alienate conservative Christians.  At this point, it certainly doesn’t seem to be anything, considering the circus that has been going on for more than 6 months.  Ah, but Dreher is sure that Trump isnt’ the problem, it’s is an “increasingly faithless people” aka those who don’t agree with Mr. Dreher.  He claims that the lack of people who agree with him will lead to a “calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate”.   Of course, all we have is this chicken little nonsense about how bad it will be, nothing to show what this would be or anything to support the claim.

One of the claims that Mr. Dreher makes is that Americans are not following “authentic Christianity” and are following something a Notre Dame researcher calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, something that Mr. Dreher insists is a “pseudoreligion” and it isn’t his version of Christianity.   The problem here is what is “authentic Christianity”?  We see that Mr. Dreher has gone from one sect to another, which would seem to indicate that Mr. Dreher has no idea what it is either.  If he gets disappointed with one, he decides another might have the right answers, and that certainly isn’t an unusual thing for Christians.

Now, Mr. Dreher is sure that all of the nonsense that conservative Christians have done with the Republican Party aren’t enough, and that the GOP isn’t doing what he wants.  The slide into the secular abyss is because his religion failed somehow.  Ah, but how you may ask?  He’s sure that Trump is a symptom of this problem, which at least he may seem to realize that Trump is no kind of Christian, literalist or liberal, a thing that many Christians can’t quite seem to grasp.  What he returns to is that Christians (again only those who agree with him) need to separate themselves from the world.   They cannot listen to anyone who has a different opinion, they cannot consider that they are wrong.

Conservative Christianity has been its own enemy when it comes to losing believers.  The constant adherence to outright lies is rather stupid in this age where information is easily available.  People have realized that the myths of the religion are nonsense and that morality does not come from one sect of one religion.  As always, this particular form of Christianity depends on fear and ignorance to exist, and Mr. Dreher certainly uses those tactics in his article.  “You must run away! You must not listen to anyone else except me!”   Everyone else must be cast as an enemy to fear.

As much as Dreher may see Trump as a symptom, Dreher is using the same pathetic attempts at controlling people.  He seems to need external validation and keeps poking his head out of his imaginary fortress to get it.     Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Christian “Science” and the art of the con

Well, this week, the Christian Scientists here in Harrisburg mailed out fliers about how they were going to have a healing talk down at their church, by Josh Niles (a supposed veteran which make me wonder why the local VA hospital isn’t empty).   There are few things I find more disgusting than theists making baseless claims on how they can heal people when hospitals are full, especially veterans’ hospitals and children’s hospitals.  The deceit that is involved is amazing for a religion that supposedly cares about the truth.

I shot them an email and asked for evidence of this healing, and why they can’t heal anyone who actually has been hurt.   They unsurprisingly directed me to the party line, and offered no reason why they haven’t healed amputees, people with documented cancers, etc.  The claim was “Christ Jesus had a remarkable healing record and Christian Science has an excellent record too.” Directly me at this “excellent record.” I pointed out that they had no evidence, and I received this in reply “You may recall that there was a multitude of sick people at the Pool of Bethesda and only one was healed by Jesus. That man was receptive to what Jesus said to him and was obedient and was healed.   The rest were “waiting for the moving of the waters”, a material approach of hope for healing and then only for some that made it to the pool.” The problem with this is that JC only talked to one fellow at the pool, who was just like the others. Why not speak to the others and heal them? And why doesn’t JC say “hey man, illness is an illusion, and only prayer in this certain way will heal you”, like the CS leader Mary Baker Eddy?

Well, how about we look at that “excellent record”?   As a background, Christian Science, aka the Church of Christ, Scientist and The First Church of Christ, Scientist,  is a sect of Christianity invented by various people and Mary Baker Eddy is the most famous of them.  She claimed that sickness is an “illusion”, is the result of thinking “wrongly” (aka blame the victim) and can be cured by prayer alone.   They also think that only their claimed spiritual world is real and that reality, this place that we inhabit is illusion.  I do have a lovely ladle of molten steel they might take a dip in if they are sure of this.  We also have the claim that CS is getting back to the “real” Christianity, a claim that many many sects make.

Incidentally, a word to advice to Christians (and other theists) who are reading this, ready to insist that CS isn’t “really” Christianity: think about how your sect compares with this one and how all of you have no evidence for your claims.  However, I will admit that Christian Science is only slightly less silly and bizarre than Scientology in my estimation ( just read about malicious animal magnetism, which is hard to distinguish from spiritual warfare, imprecatory prayer and thetans).

What is amusing about this is that the religion doesn’t say you can’t use modern medicine, but they claim that their prayers are better than it.  So, it isnt’ surprising that these are the stereotypical Christians who praise their god when it was the hard work of medical professionals who actually helped them.   Of course, they’ve managed to also murder children and kill themselves with this ignorance.  One might counter my claim of murder with claims that these people don’t know what they are doing, however, if their religion allows going to medical professionals, then they know that they have an alternative and one that works.  Either that, or they are truly delusional (delusion: a belief that is: certainty (held with absolute conviction), incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary),impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre, or patently untrue)  and should be considered as mentally ill as the next person who has delusions.  You’ll note that the common definition of a delusion has religion or culture as an out for such beliefs, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, other than to protect the sensibilities of those particular beliefs.

So, we have a religion that claims that they can heal, much like how evangelical Christian preachers who claim they can heal, practioners of other religion and practioners of various types of spiritual or energy healing.  We also have record of MBE making claim that she was not healed in order to attempt to seek damages from the city. Continue reading

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – on this Fourth of July

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a good post for the Fourth of July, our national holiday here in the US.

“On this date in 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” was adopted, after a vote approving it on July 2. Its secular purpose was to “dissolve the political bands,” and it inaugurated the anti-biblical idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Jefferson was a Deist who was highly critical of Christianity, and whose revolutionary document made references to a “Nature’s God.”

Jefferson was indeed highly critical of Christianity and created “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” aka the “Jefferson Bible” by keeping only what he found to be the worthwhile bits of the gospels.  Hew as not a Trinitarian and he found Paul to be a “corruptor”. His “Nature’s God” is not the one in the bible, nor are the values in the Declaration biblical values. His letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly (if you remember your 9th grade science, he’s the fellow who discovered a bunch of gasses) is revealing about what he does believe.

The Declaration says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  

The laws of the bible, which, per the bible, are still in effect since the heavens and earth haven’t passed away yet, do not support these truths at all.  They indicate that there are special humans that are indeed “chosen” above others.   It also has a lot of laws in it that, if followed, would be considered crimes today, e.g. murdering anyone who isn’t following the Sabbath (whenever that is).

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

And what does the bible say?  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. ” – Romans 13  This is where the concept of the “divine right of kings” comes from for Christians.   The bible claims that governments come from its god; the Declaration directly denies this.

Of course Jefferson was no saint.  He believed that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were less than he was, and tried to promulgate this nonsense, for the declaration also says this “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” 

And then we have, what Ray Comfort, wannabe theocrat, vermin in chief,  and supporter of the failed Ark Park, has to say about the holiday: “Get a fun hat, or a full costume, and simply extend a tract with a warm smile saying, “Happy Fourth of July.” The holidays make giving out tracts easier than ever. It’s a very disarming and inviting time of the year to receive a gift from a stranger.” 

Really? The image is from the video that Ray presented as such a good idea.  You’ll note that it takes deceit to get people to take his tracts since they don’t mention a bit about his religion when you look at them.  They go out of their way to hide their religion behind an Uncle Same costume and an image of a million dollar bill, that has this pathetic threat and demand of obedience on the back of it.

As always, it’s all about them needing external validation for their beliefs and bothering others, making false claims for their own benefit.  They want only their version o Christianity to be the religion in the US.  I’m quite happy to stand against such theocratic nonsense and enjoy my democracy today.  Ray can shill for his religion because of those rights that Jefferson et al put into the US law.  It’s a shame he chooses to abuse such a thoughtful gift from two plus centuries ago.

If you want a bit of amusement, click this link to hear Christian emails sent to the FFRF read aloud (definitely not safe for work considering the foul language used by some of these Christians).   This a couple of years old, though they are still going on strong in the paper.  If you’d like to see the most recent, I’ll make a scan.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – when the SCOTUS ignores facts to funnel public monies to churches

Unsurprisingly, the conservatives on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ignored the fact that church in the recent Trinity Lutheran case admitted that their playground that they were requesting state funding for was part of their ministry.  It was not a case of “but think of the children” in wanting a safer playground, but “we are using the playground to proselytize to children, and we don’t want to use our own money to make it safe.”

It’s a shame that so many Christians find that they must lie about so many things. So much for claiming that their holy book is something that they follow, when it says that their god hates lies and liars.

“The most important fact in the Supreme Court’s recent decision, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, didn’t even make it into the majority opinion. The silence of the seven judges who held that Missouri must give taxpayer funds to a church on this point was deafening, especially to anyone looking beyond the superficial media reporting and its inevitable shot of a playground. This crucial fact, passed over in the majority, was highlighted by the dissent upfront.

The omitted fact is simple: The playground at issue was, by the church’s own admission, part of a ministry directed at children and intended to propagate the faith. Here’s how the church explained it:

  1. The Church uses “teaching” to carry out its mission to “make disciples.”
  2. The Church does this partly through “the Trinity Church Child Learning Center,” which has the playground that is the subject of the case.
  3. The Learning Center serves as “a ministry of the Church and incorporates daily religion and developmentally appropriate activities into . . . [its] program.”

This case is not about playgrounds or skinned knees or keeping children safe. It’s about the government funding a religious ministry that targets children…”

For the entire article, please click here.