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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Faith, Prayer and Humanity

CNN has an update on the story about the parents of a girl with diabetes who died because they decided to pray for her rather than send her to the doctor.

As always, PZ Myers has more on this tragic event.

I would point (maybe wag...) my finger at any believing Christian (I have Rhology, in particular, in mind) and ask them point blank whether they would take cold hard, fact-based, tested, secular, humanistic, agnostic science and medicine over the fantastical sky-fairy god of their very own religion when it comes to health and well-being of their children. If they say science and medicine, then I have to wonder just how much they really do believe in their magical sky daddy they call Jesus/God. If they say faith and prayer, then I have to wonder how much they really love their own children, since they could so easily be cured via human knowledge and ingenuity but are assigned certain death if faith and prayer is used.

Let us go back to the CNN article and look at a few statements of the Jesus-believing parents and friends. I really am curious as to just how out of the mainstream of Christian thought they really are:
Family and friends had urged Dale and Leilani Neumann to get help for their daughter, but the father considered the illness "a test of faith" and the mother never considered taking the girl to the doctor because she thought her daughter was under a "spiritual attack," the criminal complaint said.

Test of faith. Sounds reasonable enough from a Christian perspective. But we are presented with a tangible proof of just why it is not. A girl -- a young daughter -- needlessly died from an easily treatable and controllable disease simpy because the parents chose to trust God over trusting humans and human knowledge. Just look at what that faith in God got the girl; death. If this does not make you feel bad then I can only say that you are hollow and rotten inside. If you have faith in God them you have to side with the parents. That makes you a horrible person as well. If you trust in faith in God, but still would take your very own child to see a doctor, then you are admitting that faith in God is fantasy, and mere shadow in the light of reality. The whole "spiritual attack" is but icing on the cake. For if you are Christian, then you have to accept evil forces at work. And denying faith or prayer in lieu of human ingenuity and humanistic healing, then you have to deny the whole dark side of your belief. And in doing so, then you cannot accept Jesus, for his act was one of fighting an evil force, and not one of making an empty gesture in the face of only one being -- God (no devil).
According to court documents, Leilani Neumann said in a written statement to police that she never considered taking the girl, who was being home-schooled, to a doctor.
"We just thought it was a spiritual attack and we prayed for her. My husband Dale was crying and mentioned taking Kara to the doctor and I said, 'The Lord's going to heal her,' and we continued to pray," she wrote.

So how did all that praying work out? One dead little girl. Look at it this way: With medical help and friends and family praying, many children are healed and live. With praying alone, all children die. What is the random variable there? Medicine and science. Those things create healing. Prayer never does.

I wish the moral to this story was that faith and prayer are useless and superstitious wastes of effort and only through human knowledge and ingenuity can people live better lives. But you and I know that this will not be the real case. For all Christians will simply say that there was not enough faith or prayer present, or that it "was not God's plan" or some other fantastical baloney. They will never get it. They will never see that religion harms, it never helps. Especially in cases where simple human intervention and reality-based knowledge would help.

I do this, I write and I stomp my feet, because if I can get get even a few Christians to realize the absurdity of their beliefs (even if they are liberal Christians) and reject that, and accept real-world and truthful knowledge, then so many of our little tragedies (like this one) could be avoided. For accepting personal responsibility for ones own actions makes those actions much more personal, over attributing them to some magical sky fairy and absolving oneself of all personal responsibility. That is why atheistic morality is now and always will be far superior to any religious-based morality; because it is solely and uniquely based in the personally responsible category. No atheist can claim they did what they did because some sky daddy wrote it down in some musty old book.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Expelled! is Ignored

The anti-science "mock"-umentary and Ben Stein comedy vehicle "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" just opened this weekend. The IMDB unofficial tally (note this is a dynamic page and a week from now the results will change) has the opening weekend take of Expelled at $3.15M. Falling just short of the children's actual comedy, "Horton Hears a Who" which amassed $3.5M.

[Update: Expelled only achieved $2.97M in the final tally. Horton managed $3.51M]

Maybe it is time for all those Christian conspiracy-theorists to just pack it up and go home if they cannot even sell their B.S. propaganda to Christians enough to surpass a bad Dr. Seuss movie.

Oh, and just what did Ben Stein's faux-documentary have to say about Christians who accept evolution (and thus destroy his entire thesis)? ...Why nothing, of course. No interview of Ken Miller at all. Certainly a gaping hole in his whole "believe in God and therefore be expelled from all science" theme. And who is Ken Miller?

Final Update: Check out this review by Alexander J. Sheffrin in the Christian Post. He says:
In an impressive opening weekend, the film debuted at No. 9 at the box office, earning a respectable $3.2 million while only appearing on 1,052 screens.

And now for some quick math.. $3.2M divided by 1,052 screens gives us $3042 per screen over the weekend. Now I am going to be kind here, lets assume just two showings per day for the three days. That means six total showings per screen. Also assume $9 per ticket (person). So divide $3042 by $9 and that that gives you a total of 338 people per screen. Divide that by six showings total per screen and that gives you a total of 57 people per showing. Now does 57 people in a theatre of lets say an average of 200 total seats sound like it could be described as "impressive"?

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A reason to Return to the Catholic Church?

Well, to be honest I'm only partly kidding. This is a priest who has a glimpse into reality, and could make a convincing case for Christianity -- If he were to remove all the miracle and supernatural stuff ala Thomas Jefferson.

These two clips have made the rounds on the internet. Here at Crooks & Liars and at BradBlog.
First here is what you saw on the O'Reilly Factor:

And here is the interview which actually took place:

It is clear to see that Bill O' is speaking as a completely hypocritical Christian and the priest as a true Christian. I don't know, but through all Bill O's ranting, he is coming close to placing himself in the role of anti-Christ (thanks to Rapture-Ready). Lying about men of God in the name of Jesus? Sounds pretty bad to me.

But again I have to give this priest many many kudos. He knows what is going on and what is true and real. Bill O' still does not.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

God's Real Plan Revealed

PZ Myers has a post up over at Pharyngula about a family of Christian missionaries. In this he cites a story about a plane crash and its survivors as well as fatalities. PZ's take on it is dead right. I encourage you to go over and read it.

But I am seeing some subtext here, and I thought it important enough to point out. We now have an actual peek into just what "God's Plan" really is.

"God's Plan" is to kill off all those who are not evangelical, fundamental, or Christian missionary types. For if there is no one left to preach to or convert, then all those missionaries' work is done and they can all go home and watch tv for the coming of Christ. For the more dead, the fewer there are to convert.

For the survival of a family of missionaries is much more important than the deaths of dozens of people for which God had no plan.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


I don't care what your political leanings, your religious leanings, or any other "leanings" are; but I am curious as to what you think.


Would you rather die for what you believe in -- say your rights in this country, or would you rather live and give up those rights?

See Crooks & Liars.

In my view, I would rather be a little less safe and a lot more free (but I see religion, for example, as what it is -- oppressive in said rights). I do acknowledge that there are others who are the opposite. I just see them as wanting it if -- and only if -- the limiting of rights is as exactly as they would have them, and not someone else would like to place upon them.

Food for thought.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rhology and Morality

A while back Rhology challenged me to respond to a thesis of his. I did. He then challenged me to respond to a moral situation. I did, here.

He then wrote a non-rebuttal rebuttal (read the comments --ignore mine for obvious reasons -- they are hilarious). I responded on his blog. But along the way I re-challenged him to examine his theistic morals/morality.

His response:

..Crickets chirping..

I really did not think my meager challenge would amount to much, because of its sheer simplicity. But maybe simplicity is the hardest thing to refute after all. Occam's razor and all that.

Here was my simple and meager challenge:
And finally. Here is my situation. You believe in the Ten Commandments I presume. One of which is, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Now presume your neighbor is married. His wife comes to your door; she is bloodied, barely conscious, obviously been hit by a baseball bat (or other blunt instrument) and says to you, protect me, my husband is trying to kill me. So you bring her in and give her all the aid you can, and call the police. Then your neighbor comes banging at your door, he has a gun and a bloody baseball bat. "Do you know where my $%@$#$ wife is?" Do you bear false witness against the wife and tell your neighbor, "No." Or do you tell the truth that she is inside (and the police are coming)? Sometimes lying is a good thing, but you would never know that from the Ten Commandments. Another example is a parent who sexually abuses their child. Should that child submit to the abuse and be right under the fifth Commandment that all children should "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you". Or should the child dishonor their parent and bring to light the evil that that parent does and therefore violate God's unequivical dictate?
Because it was buried within the comments of a post Rhology had been responding to, but is now ignoring, I will assume he did not read it. So I will pull it forward and open it up to everyone. What are your thoughts?

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And Now for Something Really Surprising

Get this! I actually agree with something written over at Rapture Ready.

Ron Graham pens a tangential critique of some book I will never read because it says something so dumb that reading it will not add one useful bit of knowledge. That is where we agree.

Ron and I agree that evangelism is not dead. Evangelism will exist as long as there are living Christians.

But as for the rest of his post... Well need I really comment?

Enjoy for yourselves.

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A New Perspective on an Old Meme

As you may well know, I am fascinated by Christian thought, rationalization, and theology. I read as much as I can, given my resources (of course). I generally prefer reading and learning about the more popular Christian sources -- in spite of the fact that I write about the more, shall we say, extremist, sources. Very rarely do I ever write about, say, liberal Christian views or theology.

There is a reason for that. It is not really interesting. The differences between liberal Christianity and secularism is almost undetectable. The only difference being the source of the supernatural (or lack thereof). Morality and life-views are almost identical outside of this mysterious supernatural realm. Giving liberal Christians, or even lapse Christians a pass is hardly difficult to fathom. They view the real world much as agnostics and atheists do: It is all up to us to make our lives better; some magical fairy sky-god isn't going to do all our work for us.

Which leads me to this abrupt realization. I, throughout all my reading journeys, have never come across something so stark and so startling as this statement:
Many religions describe many different gods. Buddhism has Buddha and other gods; Islam has Allah; Hinduism has 300 million different gods from which to choose; and while Judaism’s god seems very similar to the Biblical version, Judaism’s god is one that requires little faith and lots of works. Any god that is different than God Himself is a false god, and there are many in the world today. [emphasis mine]

In other words, there is no Judeo-Christian God. There is a Jewish god and the one, true, Christian God. The two are not the same.

I just wonder if the god of the epistle writer, James, is not the one true God either...
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? [James 2:18-22 NKJV]

James seems to be saying that gobs of faith (as was shown by Abraham) and lots of works. But then again James only wrote one minor epistle in the New Testament, so he can be ignored.

Oh and the source of that quote? Jason Lovelace in his piece, "The False Gods of this World" over at Rapture Ready.

Would it be bad of me to remember this and pull it out any time some Christian mentions "Judeo-Christian God" or uses the Jewish (i.e. Old Testament) bible as proof that Jesus is part of some trinity of gods which includes said Jewish "God"?

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Nekkid Ladies and Dick Cheney

There is a news story floating through the internets about a photo on the White House web site showing a reflection of a naked woman in Dick Cheney's sunglasses. (Example here).

(Link here to original)

The problem is this, it is not a person at all. It is a reflection of Cheney's hand holding his fly fishing rod.

While a good story and I am sure it will continue to make the rounds, it is nothing in reality.


(P.S. is there any reality, or space-time dimension, in which a woman would want to be naked in front of Dick Cheney?? The cost of that would dwarf anything Elliot Spitzer ever paid for sex....)

[Late, late update:] But I will say this much, what is up with his teeth? Are the millions he reaped from Halliburton not enough to get his teeth cleaned and capped?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Atheist Statistics

I really hate to base yet another post on a YouTube video, but...

(Thanks to Dirk Diggler over at Unscrewing The Inscrutable)

Personally, I have to really think on the implications of these types of statistics. For on the one hand it shows that the more you learn about the world, and the universe we live in, the more likely you are to dump God. But on the other it shows, quite starkly, just how right the religious right is in their hatred of education and learning. Keep people stupid and they belive in God, allow them to be educated, and they begin to ignore pre-historic god figures. Facts and reality do not jive with any sort of God-belief at all.

The bible, in its entirety, is my best proof of this. I have spoken at length about the problems, errors, and outright unfactual "facts" found in the bible. I have even written a book about this subject. God kills babies, willfully, and with intent. But today God hates abortion. I guess god hates doctors taking over His role? Oh wait, doctors today heal people of illness, yet in biblical times, it took a prophet of God, or his own Son, to heal the sick... Christians Unite! No longer is abortion the only right-to-life God morality issue, going to the doctor is just as evil. Or something like that.

And of course, my thanks go out to Rhology. For he has proven beyond all doubt, that fact, proof, education, are all in the eye of the beholder. With Rhology, if it is supernatural it is real and proof in and of itself, and the pittling proof and facts I offer of this world we all know is nothing compared to his causeless god who caused the cause-needing Universe. For with logic like that, I am but a child in a world of doctorates.

I obviously, can only be defeated by a level of knowledge and fact which can possibly claim that even though the bible tells us the value of pi is 3.0, that in reality it is only an approximation because of the imprecise language of the ancient Hebrews, but on every other matter (that is not related to science or mathematics) the Hebrew text is completely and utterly true and factual and the absolute words of God (not word of God).

So we are back to fact and fantasy, education and ignorance, academic and religious. Statistics show that the more one leans to former and less the latter, the more one tends to be atheistic.

All the more reason to make sure all our children are better educated.

This is pretty cool too:

Let us close with Dolly Parton, a Tennessee establishment:

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Rhology's "Scenario"

In my post "Atheist Morality" Rhology challenged me to this scenario: (Which he gave me permission to copy in its entirety, and is shown below.)

This is probably my last post before the Christ-mas holiday takes me away from the computer for a while. Merry Christ-mas!I'll celebrate by posing a slightly disgusting question for atheists to answer as they like:

Situation: You are traveling in a foreign land and go to an out-of-the-way picturesque temple. There you meet a native, there to offer religious piety. He finishes lighting
his candle and then greets you, speaking serviceable English. Edit: He introduces himself as Tkalim.He offers to tell you a little about his religion. You, being the courteous gentleman/lady you are, invite him to proceed. He tells you that he and his whole society worship 5 gods of the fish, air, earth, fire, and tree. He then tells you that part of his worship devotion is to go with all the men of his society to steal girls between the ages of 3-8 years from their families in the nearby large city, take them into the jungle, and rape them.

Once raped, the tribesmen leave the girls in the jungle as an offering to the tree god. He says he knows of no girl that has ever returned to the city to her family.

Once he finishes his story with calm voice and clear eyes, he falls silent.

I have something to say to him about this practice. What would YOU say? How would you try to explain that what he is doing is wrong? *Is* what he is doing wrong? On what basis?


I am sorry, I meant boring! First of all just how stable would this be as a moral imperative? Certainly the members of the society who had their girls stolen would be quite (and I say this delicately) pissed. Surely after enough time they would retaliate. This retaliation is what we commonly know as war. They would have a good reason, their girls were being raped. Now is war moral? If your self-preservation is on the line then yes. Clearly we have a situation where war is moral. But what of the other side. They were following a "moral" practice and now are fighting for their lives because of it. Is that moral? No. Because win or lose, they lose valuable resources: their men, their religious practice during the war, and much time and effort which could have been avoided.

As for the coda. How horrible is that for those on the side of morality? They say it is acceptable because none of the victims complained?? Read the Bible. It is rife with victims who never complained (most likely because they were women or children who were stoned to death); and yet died because of moral tenets that everyone today would call vicious and horrid (killing children because they were disobedient, killing virgin women because they were raped and their rapist wanted nothing to do with them, etc.)

Morality is sick when it comes from any supposed supernatural outside-of-human-experience source. Morality only becomes useful when it stands the test of time and human experience. That is precisely why things such as incest, slavery, and plural marriages are now immmoral when they used to be moral within the framework of the Bible, and things like interracial marriage and freedom are now moral when they used to be immoral.

I don't make these rules or decide morality. And it certainly isn't the Bible either. Society does, and it does so only after time and (human) experience determines it as moral. Morality is uniquely human, even in Christian and Jewish circles (which claim to use the same faux source -- God).

Oh, and as for any argument that I ignored/failed to respond to/provided no substance for, Rhology's actual argument. Take what I offer as fair and balanced. For I have never once claimed that because the bible never says anything about genetic manipulation or cloning it is ignoring or providing no substance on those specific issues. (I simply claim that the bible is a work of its times and that it predated real science -- thus has nothing to say on it at all).

Update: Rhology, I never imagined that you would consider your very own duaghters being raped a moral act, if that rape was performed in the name of some god (any god at all), whom of supposed supernatural origins, could never be contested via human experience that rape is bad. In other words, would you Rhology, allow your daughters to be raped if God ordained it, but would call it immoral if some other god ordained it, both being via supernatural origins.

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