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 – Not today

This is what happens when you don’t punch Nazis.

Bags of women's hair at the concentration camp at Auschwitz - Photo Credit, Polish National Archives

Bags of women’s hair at the concentration camp at Auschwitz – Photo Credit, Polish National Archives

 

Rather than putting up the usual pictures of pits full of starved, shot and tortured people. I thought this was more fitting. The people who were murdered in concentration camps were being harvested.

This is what those who support America First wanted to allow to keep happening.

There are some things that are always wrong and do not deserve to be protected or repeated. I have once supported the idea that I would support to the death that people have the right to say what they want. No longer. I am happy to punch Nazis. And I’ll be happy to die to make sure that they don’t do again what they did before.   It’s not punch who you think is a Nazi, punch who *shows* you he, or she, is a Nazi.

If we don’t punch the Nazi, then there will be no free speech of any kind to defend. There are Nazi wannabees in the Trump White House, who don’t think we remember that their kind said to turn away the refugees just like their forebearers who also touted “America First”, turned away the MS St. Louis, to hate anyone who is different, and who do their best to fracture the facts of the Holocaust so it doesn’t sound so bad. It’s too bad that not one Republican seems to be willing to stand up to these people, and lead the conservative Americans away from being supporters of Nazis.

This is where the new meme fits.

First they came for the Muslims

And we said “Not today.”

The current meme often has “motherfucker” appended to it. I find that entertaining but watering down the point. I’d suggest adding “Yippee ki-yay motherfucker” if one wishes after a suitable pause after the quote above.

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I had a Jewish man, a survivor of the Holocaust, take the time to find my contact information and thank me for a letter I wrote to the editor of the local newspaper standing against the attempts of some Christians to force their religion on students in public school in an attempt to create an “us” and “them”. I’m going guess he has probably died by now but in his memory, it will always be “Not today.”. Never think that you can’t do something, even if it is just a blog post or a letter to the editor. Enough of these and the evil retreats.

I recently watched the movie Conspiracy with Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci, playing Reinhard Heydrick and Adolph Eichmann, respectively plus many other excellent character actors.   This movie shows how such “gentlemen” conspired to annihilate people during the Wannsee Conference, mostly the Jews but their hate extended to others, Romany, homosexuals, the disabled, etc. One copy of the notes of this meeting survived and this is what the movie is based on. The one of the movie’s last lines is “”It is night in Moscow already. Soon it will be dark here. Do you think we will ever see the dawn in our lifetime?” It’s up to us to prevent the dark from coming.

And those of you who are about to type and call me a hater, or some such, for daring question you and not tolerating your nonsense, please do. You might want to consider why you’re defending such things and why you believe in a liar who claims that he’ll take care of everything. Many supporters of hatred and ignorance haven’t quite got the idea that their rights stop when they infringe on others. These rights are shared.

Here’s a quote often attributed to George Orwell, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” The quote is a shortened version of the opinion of the state, Oceania, in Nineteen Eighty Four (1984). (support Project Gutenberg if you can)

There are three stages in your reintegration,’ said O’Brien. ‘There is

learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance. It is time for

you to enter upon the second stage.”

“A world of victory after victory, triumph after triumph after triumph: an endless pressing, pressing, pressing upon the nerve of power. You are beginning, I can see, to realize what that world will be like. But in the end you will do more than understand it. You will accept it, welcome it, becomepart of it.’” 

“Forty years it had taken him to learnwhat kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needlessmisunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast!Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was allright, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had wonthe victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

 

and as a bit of biting humor

rangers

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – wannabee theocrats marching in DC today

what pro-control people want women to believe

what pro-control people want women to believe

Today there is a “march for life” in Washington, DC. There are a lot of women there, who insist that they are feminists. There may be some men who also would claim this, since being a feminist isn’t limited by sex. They all declare that they are “for life”, aka against abortion and birth control.

These people want to control others, and that is all they want to do. They want to tell women that they can’t. They can’t make their own decisions. They can’t believe what they want. They can’t be trusted to be intelligent enough to know what they want. They aren’t feminists, they are wolves in sheeps clothing. Feminism isn’t about telling a woman “no”. It’s about knowing that a woman can make her own decisions and that supporting women is important.

These wannabee theocrats demand that their opinion become law, that no one may choose to disagree with them. They want women to be punished for daring to make their own decisions and not obeying them. They claim that women need their help because of a myth with a talking snake. Most, if not all of them, want their particular version of one religion to be the law of the land, conservative Christianity. Of course, they can’t agree on which version of Christianity they want. They may insist that each other is doing to hell for accepting the Pope, for not accepting the Pope, for being baptized in one way or another, being divorced or not divorced, but they are harnessed in the same yoke for this one reason, in their pure hypocrisy.

They want to claim that they are for life, but they are against anything that would help the children that they wish forced on others to live. They are for punishment and obedience. They support the murder and terrorism of those who believe different than they do. They want no assistance be given to assure that these children have healthy food and a safe home. They want to keep families from having affordable health insurance. They want no assistance given to assure that these children have a good education, no matter if they are wealthy or poor . They want none but their religion taught to these children and they want only the families they approve of to take care of these children. They depend on lying to women to convince them to have children, intentionally misleading women by how they name their services. After the uterus is vacated, they are not interested.

Caring for another isn’t important at all, only forcing a woman to bear a child she cannot support, either financially or emotionally. They pretend that their churches will help these women but every shelter everywhere is desperate for money despite that there are pages upon pages of churches and other religious organizations in the phone book. They haven’t taken care of these families so far, so why should anyone believe that they will now?

These conservative Christians prate that this god would never give a woman more than she could handle, but they turn their heads when these women harm or kill themselves and their children because they could not handle those things, no matter how much they prayed and others prayed for them. They needed real help and that real help requires that people support them through real resources, resources payed by taxes and given to everyone, not just people who agree with the taxpayers or obey the rules of a religion that has no more evidence that it is true than any other religion.

These people want to take over the government, and force their religion on everyone. For all of their false claims of being unable to make their own choices, they do their best to remove the ability to choose from others. For all of their false claims of being pro-life, they do their best to ensure that those lives suffer as much as possible.

Hypocrisy personified, when this woman thinks she is being silenced and she’s walking down streets in the nation’s capital saying  exactly what she wants.

hypocrite

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 – fundamentalist white rural America

burialWhite, rural fundamentalist America is where I grew up.  This article on Raw Story (which seems to have come from Alter Net) gets it very much right.

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/

“When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. ”

Is this true for everyone in white rural America? Nope, but unfortunately it’s become the way to bet. Sometimes you can get free of such nonsense, sometimes you can’t and sometimes you choose not to.  We have had people, friends and relatives, we thought were humane people who supported the ideal of America, of the lady with the lamp beside the golden door, that where everyone deserved to be considered equal and to have the same rights.  We never thought they would decide that they could ignore racism, misogyny, lies, cheating employees, xenophobia, etc, for the promise that someone will fulfill “every dream they ever dreamed“.  I don’t think even a three year old child would believe this.  But they did.

I’ve read where some people have said it has felt like someone died when Trump won.  I think that is pretty accurate.  The people we thought we knew “died” that day, and their places were taken by people we didn’t recognize anymore.

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