The word of God? Not so much

When I was a kid, I tried to be the best little christian I could be. As a result of that, the following words are burned into my brain:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That has been etched so deeply into my memory that I couldn’t forget it even if I wanted to. It’s like the pledge of allegiance*: while I haven’t actively thought about it for over three decades, I remember it verbatim. So, while leafing through a booklet today while I was eating lunch -one of those books that is disguised as something other than the bible. You know, it has picture of a waterfall and a title like, “Ten easy steps to change your life” or something like it, then you open it up and get Rickrolled into reading the bible. I was surprised to see this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

I’ve added some italics to the passage above to highlight the changes. It has always been the argument of the church that the bible was the undisputed word of God. Sure, I’m talking about the gospel according to John here (purportedly written somewhere between the first and third century -depending on who you ask), but I’m also talking about the single most recognizable verse in the whole book. If they can change four words in the most recognizable verse of the bible in the forty years I’ve been alive, how can anyone believe that the rest of it isn’t, at best, paraphrased?

I can already hear the arguments, “The words have only been changed to make them easier to understand.” Or perhaps, “The words may be different, but the message is the same.” Which are both valid arguments, but which in no way change the fact that the words were altered. I’m not arguing that the message changed, only that the words changed. It may not change the meaning, but if they’re brazen enough to change this verse right in front of us, just imagine all the other ones that have changed over the millennia. Maybe the message remained the same (although that seems unlikely since we are forever watering it down to discount all the brutality, murder and sex) but it seems like the best case scenario is that it’s God’s word filtered through a game of Chinses whispers involving tens of thousands of people and lasting for hundreds of years.

Just saying.

*What’s funny about the pledge of allegiance is that I remember it as:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I highlighted a portion of the text there, because the way I remember it isn’t the way my Grandparents remember it:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And even the version they remember wouldn’t be the same as the one their Grandparents remember:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I wonder how our children’s children will remember it…

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

There is this little church down the street from where I live, well the one I am thinking about is actually across town -not the one that is actually right next door. I drive by it every day, yet have failed to note exactly what religion it is affiliated with, not that it matters I suppose -at least not for my purposes this morning.

This little church has one of those lighted billboards that is right on the highway, what would pass for a highway in a town this small at any rate. The message that is up on the little board can vary from trying to be thought provoking “What if God is waiting on a sign from us?”, to just plain humorous “Git ‘R Done for Jesus” (that was on display while Country Thunder was in town.

Whoever it is that puts the little messages up on that board seems to be making an effort to keep from putting up anything that would turn away your average non-affiliated person; never any of the doom and gloom, the end is near, repent or burn in hell type stuff. I don’t really think you can scare someone into religion anyway, at least not anyone capable of rational thought, but that is for a different post.

For the last week or so the sign has had a message on it that just pisses me off whenever I drive by. It says “Don’t put a question mark where God put a period.” I don’t know why this one gets to me so much, well I guess I must have some idea why or I wouldn’t be sitting here right now then, would I?

It really irritates me when anyone starts using phrases like “God said…”, or “The Bible says…”, especially so if they are trying to make a point using that as an argument. The reality is that if there is a God and he did say something it is certainly not what is written in the Bible.

While atheists believe that the Bible is nothing more than an old novel, even religious zealots have to admit that what is written in it was not written until well after the crucifixion of Jesus. It has been translated and revised so many times over the centuries that it is now impossible to say what it might have said at the time it was penned. God had nothing to do with it.

I am not sure exactly what question the billboard was referring to. Homosexuality? Birth control? Slavery? Female subservience? Evolution? It doesn’t really matter. Whatever it was referring to it was encouraging people to live their lives based on the limited understanding of a culture that lived over a millennia ago. If you want to live that way -believe in the bible as a literal truth- that is your decision, but try to at least be honest enough to admit that it is not the word of God, but the word of someone who claims that he spoke to God. Then think of the wild-eyed guy on the corner screaming “repent, the end is nigh!”, he also claims that he spoke to God, but he is just crazy, right?

So, here is my new theory; Religion = delusion + time

while writing that I was trying to find a link to an argument that I once read that said that God didn’t actually take a rib from Adam to create Eve, but that it was instead a different anatomical components that was removed and it was mistranslated in the bible. While I was not able to find a link to that argument, I did find a link to a completely different argument. If you are a firm believer in evolution (like me) you really should read this article. I have been debating this subject based on faulty logic for a long time, make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

Thanksgiving time

Thanksgiving is the one holiday that I have really never understood. Most of the holidays that we celebrate here in the U.S. are based on mythology that goes back to long before Christianity. Chrsitmas is celebrated because some ancient cult had a festival at the winter solstice, it was sort of absorbed into Christianity as the day of the birth of Christ, as well as some jolly fellow in a red suit. I don’t know why Christmas was scheduled a few days after the solstice,my best guess is that they (by they I am meaning the church in ancient times) wanted to give contemporary cults time to celebrate their tradition, while training their children in both… Bam!, Christmas is born (whether Christ was born anywhere near that time is a hot topic for Religious Scholars, doesn’t matter a bit to me though).

Mythology is where the average U.S. citizen would place the Gods that the people of ancient Greece or Rome believed in. Add a couple of hundreds of years and I bet the Religious Scholars will be laughing about Christianity, then place it squarely in the Mythology category.

There are many holidays that don’t celebrate any religious right (unless you consider secretaries Holy), but Thanksgiving has to be the most obscure of them all.

Thanksgiving is purported to be an annual feast that marks the day that the Native Americans invited the new settlers over for a grand supper. Wild Turkey was involved (whether that was the animal or the drink I certainly don’t know). Next thing you know the Native Americans are being slaughtered to near extinction.

That is not a Holiday. How does that though process go? Let us all celebrate the day that the Native Americans invited us to a huge feast, then we killed them by the thousands, raped their wives and daughters, forced them to move more and more west, until they (the ones who didn’t fight back) were eventually nicely stored in concentration camps reservations. Yeah! Let’s celebrate that! Hell, nobody had anything to do in November anyway.

Thanksgiving has transformed itself a bit over the years. It has become more of a yearly family reunion than a celebration. It is one out of two Holidays, that I can think of, that you really have to be at. Doctors, Surgeons, anyone in the emergency medicine line of work really, Firefighters (though they are likely on call), and 24-hour convenience mart employees have to work that day, the rest of us really have to go to the November family reunion.

I long for those days.

Thanksgiving, for myself and most of the relatives on my wife’s side of the family, is going to be a day spent at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. The Mother-in-law is still there. She had an additional surgery on Monday (to reinforce one of the bones in her upper arm), there is no way that she is going to be out of the hospital by Thursday. It is extremely important that everyone is there, not because she might die ( fear of imminent death has been resolved long ago), but because she needs to know that we are all willing her to overcome the issues ( some call it praying, but when it gets right down to it God created the cancer, therefore God has the cure, right? I put a lot more faith in my ability to just wish it away, hmm., I guess I am religious).

What is really, truly, sad is that I would likely have never written this post if my Mother-in-law had not been in the hospital. I have no doubt that the hospital’s Thanksgiving meal is going to suck, but I am going to be there eating it anyway. I guess now is the time that I should be thankful that I am not the one in the hospital.

What are you thankful for?

Existential musings

For the life of me I am not able to understand why it so important to religious people (only in the U.S.) to try to disprove the theory of evolution, or explain it away as only being a “theory” when the natural change of species has been going on for millennia, and is clearly shown through fossil records.

The religious belief that God created every living being seems to infringe on Darwin’s theory, yet even the Pope (sorry for the lack of a link, lost the page. If you google it, send it to me so I can add it back) has acknowledged that evolution would fill a lot of the holes in the biblical record. Sure Noah could not have had 1.8million species on that boat, but he could have had several thousand species, which were created by God, on that boat. Those species have evolved into all the species we have today, over time. Yet, that has nothing to do with the current fight about evolution.

Intelligent design is supposed to be an alternative to evolution. It is an alternative, and also completely wrong. So much fossilized evidence exists to support evolution that it is laughable to try to explain it away. Species on Earth have evolved. Case closed.

The fight that the religious people really need to get into is existential. There is either ‘Creationism’, which relies on believing that some entity built the entire universe one day when he was bored, or there is the ‘big bang theory’, which supposes that the universe was formed when a small meteor hit a huge mass in the middle of space. Both of the possibilities seem pretty false. In either case we have to wonder what created the creator.

If you look at existence logically there would be no existence. Whether you happen to believe in a God, or a ‘big bang’, something had to have happened prior to make that happen. Some one, or some thing, would have to create the God. Some one, or some thing, would have to create the huge mass (and small meteor that smashed into it) to make the ‘big bang theory’ plausible. Human understanding has yet to evolve to a level where we can theorize about it.

Petroglyphs and Hieroglyphs of long dead peoples certainly pre-date the bible, and are very obvious in the oral traditions of most people. Tell the same story enough times and it becomes the truth. But quibbling about evolution is just silly.

Scientists only argue that species have evolved over time, religious zealots have only argued that God created everything, while giving the species free reign to evolve over time. It is only the nutjobs in the U.S. that have argued that God created all 1.8million of them (the species so far discovered) and put them on Noah’s boat.

The existential part of the question is what we should really be looking at. Science doesn’t try to explain away the formation of planets and universes (religion does), science just wants to know who created the creator. Religious people often argue that life can not be created without life, so, who created God?

I don’t have any better answer on the atheist side. Someone had to send the huge mass that turned into the known universe rolling, then had to make a huge meteor hit it. Is there a God? That is an existential question. The problem becomes that, no matter how far back you go, you will never find the person who set the whole world to rolling. Even if you happen to find the creator of the whole universe, who created him?

Who created God?

I was actually looking around on the internet today, I didn’t find much of interest (goat porn sites aside), what I did find was the Sims. In the world of the Sims, they have no idea that you are controlling their actions, but, they do whatever you tell them to. Could it be that the human race is just a huge game of the Sims on someone else’s computer? They don’t know that they are digitally animated little characters, they don’t know that someone is watching their every action, they just do what they do. Were those little suckers to start to think existentially they might rule the world.

It all has to go back to who created the creator though. The most powerful entity of all time can’t possibly have just materialized, there must be evidence of that, right?

Yeah, the bible.

I have duct tape, it is pretty similar. Similar insofar as it is horribly useless, means nothing and can’t be substantiated. Yet, the duct tape performs fabulously, the bible gives way under the smallest amount of stress or scrutiny.

Duct Tape must have created the universe.

What year is it again?

I saw this fascinating article today. Yeah! Intelligent Design. It boggles my mind to think that this type of thing is actually being litigated in the year 2005. People are certainly free to their own opinions, but must they try to force them onto completely rational, yet impressionable, kids? I guess we will only know once they rule on the case. For now I will just simply have to laugh at the absurdity of one “scholar’s” quotes:

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A biochemistry professor who is a leading advocate of “intelligent design” testified Monday that evolution alone can’t explain complex biological processes and he believes God is behind them.

Behe, whose work includes a 1996 best-seller called “Darwin’s Black Box,” said students should be taught evolution because it’s widely used in science and that “any well-educated student should understand it.”

Behe, however, argues that evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life, suggesting the work of an intelligent force.

Behe contributed to “Of Pandas and People,” writing a section about blood-clotting. He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting “is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design.”

This is just to rich to pass up. Major props to the guy for trying to at least make it sound like he is not some anti-evolution nutjob. But doesn’t his statement about evolution come across as more of a back-handed insult to science? As if he thinks that evolution is complete crap, but we might as well let the kids learn it since all of those kooky scientists seem to base a lot of stuff on it.

My biggest beef with the whole article is in the last paragraph that I quoted, the part where it says, He told a federal judge Monday that in the book, he made a scientific argument that blood-clotting “is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design.” Now see, in order for him to make that scientific argument, wouldn’t it be necessary to present actual facts that support Intelligent Design? Just saying that evolution doesn’t explain it therefore it was God is hardly a scientific argument. A delusional argument yes, certainly not scientific.

Also, wasn’t the whole point of Intelligent Design supposed to take God’s name out of it? Wasn’t it supposed to appease the people who were bitching about their children being taught religion in schools? If it was then he totally lost the ball when he testified that anything that Darwin couldn’t explain was therefore an act of God -to paraphrase-.

Since he brought up God, the gloves are off.

I am going to dismiss the bible outright here, for the sake of religion. The bible is a bunch of folklore that had been handed down in verbal tradition for millennia before anyone got around to putting pen to paper. Once someone did put pen to paper the next transcriber didn’t like it, thus he changed a bunch of stuff, and so on, for all of history. I do find it pretty odd that they left things in there like the story of Noah though. In order to believe that story you must believe that 1) the entire earth was flooded. 2) Someone built a boat large enough to carry two of every living animal species (they didn’t make mention of the species that reproduce asexually). Yeah, picking the bible apart is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel a slut on prom night. So I won’t do that.

What I really want to know is where this Intelligent Designer happens to live. The entity can’t reside on the earth or any other celestial body, since he created all of that. Where’s his pad? Does he have a split-level joint (nice place, has a pool and everything) in in some suburban area in the recesses of a black hole where all of the other Intelligent Designers live?

Who created the Intelligent Designer? It is stone solid fact that life can’t appear spontaneously, intelligence is not something that can be divined from natural means, else evolution would make absolute sense. Then the question would be who created the entity that created the Intelligent Designer, and this would obviously go on to infinity, I don’t have the time to type that all out. I think you will see my point.

Intelligent Designer must not have a lot of friends (perhaps he won’t let them watch the game on his Big Screen, hogs all the beer, who knows), ’cause he seems to have entirely too much free time. What a workload the guy has. In the beginning all he had to do was to set down some genetic codes and DNA for a couple of million species (that is only known species. And only on the earth. Mind you, his design covers the everything in the cosmos). Now he must have to toil away endlessly creating new DNA for every new being, making sure that no two fingerprints are ever the same, making sure that the blood clots, etc.

That was fun.

The argument for Intelligent Design only attacks evolution. They find a hole in the evolution of a species and say “where’s your proof?” They are attacking lines of beings that, when viewed side by side, look like they are slowly changing form. Yet, were you to ask someone who supports Intelligent Design what their proof is they would simply say that evolution can not explain everything. Quite an argument.

What is going to be really sad is that, in the future, we will have found enough fossilized remains to definitively link every bipedal mammal to one another, and there will still be some religious idiots claiming that they (all the bipedal mammals) were on the boat with Noah. Delusion Intelligent Design will probably never go away, but, in a strange irony, I have no doubt that it will evolve. Just as Christians used to believe that God lived in the clouds, then swiftly changed gears once we visited the clouds.

The apocalypse is nigh

I suppose that I am a bit of a jackass, based solely on the title of this post. The world has been going to hell-in-a-handbasket for at least a couple of years (which I attribute directly to Dubya). Thing is that the weather patterns really are starting to look like my fuzzy memories from reading about the apocalypse. I mean with the tsunami’s overseas, then New Orleans turning into the biggest cesspool in recorded history, we may not have much time left.

If you happen to believe in any GOD, you really must be thinking that that GOD is really mad at us. If there actually is a God (or Gods) I guess I could see why. We have taken a beautiful planet and raped it. Invented chemicals that it can not break down; changed the course of many rivers to meet our own ends; placed lakes where they were never meant to be. Yes, if God created earth, people created earth 2.0 customized, which was good for a while.

Whether you believe in evolution, creationism or intelligent design, you must concede that the earth has been around for, at the very least, 3,000 years or so (what is the time frame for creationism by the way, I am far removed from my Christian roots). The earth went merrily about its daily business until pretty recently, probably the turn of the 20th century, then the shit started to hit the fan.

If there is a God, I am pretty sure that he never envisioned the day that mankind would start to screw around with the random rocks and chemicals that he left in the earth. Beyond that, I doubt that he would have ever thought that we would figure out how to create new elements from them that cannot decompose/degrade to start anew. If there is a God, he is obviously didn’t know that some of the chemicals we would manufacture would destroy the atmosphere that he spent so much time creating (though, in the King James version of the Holy Bible, he actually only spent one day on the Heavens and the earth, so not a lot of time). Still, we have found a way to destroy it. If there is a God, I guess now would be a pretty damn likely time for the apocalypse.

That all being said, I think it is just an odd coincidence that New Orleans has been turned into the largest, nastiest, bathtub on earth, so soon after the horrible tsunami’s overseas. Coincidences don’t have to have a divine meaning and, I, for one, think it is just that: coincidence.

Yet I ramble on…

The absolute worst thing about disaster is that it brings out both the best and worst in people. In times of tragedy there are two decidedly different attitudes: Help those in need, or, every man for himself. This is the truth in every tragedy that comes immediately to mind; For every man that offers his help to a stranger, there is someone that will lie, cheat or steal to make sure he survives.

It is extremely difficult to fault people who are involved in the tragedy for some types of looting; The stores are obviously closed, where do you get your diabetes medication? Considering that your house is now non-existent, and there is no one there to sell you the medicine, and you will die without it, how wrong is that, really? Of course stealing things like firearms, ammunition, electronic devices, etc. That is probably wrong. The news reports are never quite that specific though, they do tell the story when people raid electronic stores, or when firearms are looted, but what about the “looting” that is stealing medication for sick friends or family members? What about stealing pillows and blankets for people to sleep on while they wait for someone to come and help them? What about raiding the local supermarkets for canned food, as they watch the dead float by them?

I read a story today that said that another problem, possibly exclusive to the New Orleans disaster, is rape. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been pretty hard up a few times (pun intended) but I don’t think I would be able to rape other victims of the same tragedy (though put into that position who knows). It has to take some pretty weird logic to be thinking with “Little (add name)” when it is entirely possible that you may die. Come to think of it that is pretty sound logic; one more before I die… Not that I condone that sort of thing, just that as I typed it it seemed odd.

Of course, as usual, that one went way off course. The sentence where I said that “tragedy brings out the best and worst of people” was not meant towards any of the victims of the New Orleans disaster. I was going to go into details on the fraudulent “non profit” organizations that spring up after any tragedy. Though I don’t believe in a God, I hope those that try to profit through the suffering of others get their just due in this life (hopefully), failing that there is always the prospect of HELL, or being born again as a mistreated cat. All of which seem a bit too good for those that would try to scam people who just want to try to help out a little after such a tragedy.

The only organization that I would trust with my money for any donations is The Red Cross. They have been around a really long time, they do a lot of good, and they don’t telemarket. Also, if you have it in you, I am sure that there is going to be a huge need for blood (pun intended). The blood is free to give, the money comes out of your checkbook. Either way, I bet they will appreciate it.

The Incredibles; Support our Troops; Evolution Vs. Creationism

Once again I have taken a week off from posting. Again no real reson why. Laziness would probably be the most realistic reason. Either that or just a lack of anything to write about.

I had intentions of getting something typed out on Sunday, however, the wife and I decided to go see a movie before her free passes expired. The movie that we went to see was The Incredibles, which I had been wanting to see ever since it hit theatres, while she went only grudgingly even with free passes.

The thing that amazed me the most about the movie was the size of the audience. The movie was released on Nov. 5, 2004, we went to see it on jan. 16, 2005, two and a half months after release, to find the theatre at about 85% capacity. It was showing in a pretty small theatre (as most older movies do), and only had three showings that day, so maybe I shouldn’t have been quite that surprised. I honestly thought that there would be my wife, myself and about another three people there, hah. And I really thought that there wouldn’t be any children at all, which I based on parents getting sick of their children’s constant begging to see it within the first month after release. Again I was way off. We were among about four couples that were there, every other group had multiple children. Expecting the audience to be small, we didn’t arrive until just a couple of minutes before showtime, which meant that we were in the second row, staring up for two hours to watch it.

Why are the theatres designed that way in the first place? They could make it a bit wider and add a couple of seats to each upper row, maybe even move all of the upper seating closer to the screen (at the same height of course) and add an extra row in the back. I have never had a problem watching a movie from an aisle seat, and the back row is just about the best view in the house. I guess there are reasons why they have them set up the way they do, I just will never understand them.

How was the movie? It was everything that I had expected (of course I had read a lot of reviews going in), and far better than the wife was expecting. It was certainly the most entertaining cgi film that I have ever seen, of course I have only seen a few of them. The characters in this movie were so much more realistic than what you normally see in animated films. There are many layers to each of them. For the majority of the movie I found myself almost forgetting that they were super-heroes, right up until one of them got mad and used his/her powers in anger. The visual quality was amazing, the story was pretty good (though it seemed to try a bit too hard to be dramatic) and the dialogue really carried it. Simply put, The Incrdibles has set the bar pretty high for cgi films; It’s no longer about cutesy little fish and worn out fart jokes.

• While on the way to the movie, I noticed yet another “support our troops” sticker on the back of a car. I didn’t realize until recently that almost all of those ribbons are actually magnets (I had assumed that they were stickers). Seeing this one had reminded me of the mission that I have undertaken in my local area. The thing about those little decals is that they are supposed to be displayed vertically (at least they are done that way traditionally), yet some people put them on their cars in such a manner that it looks like a Jesus Fish. Normally I wouldn’t get upset about this type of thing, but in light of the war in Iraq being based on the delusions of the religious nut that leads our country, it pisses me off. It makes me think that they put it that way on purpose, which makes me think that they probably voted to reelect Bush. Which is sick, sad and wrong.

So I decided to set the world right. When I get to work, as well as when I leave, I walk through the parking lot and take the liberty of putting their ribbons on the car properly. I only change the ones that are very obviously meant to look like the Jesus Fish. There are some that are halfway between, but it looks like the people just put them that way so that you could read what was written on it horizontaly, those I let go. I am sure that this really won’t make a damn bit of difference to the world as a whole, but it sure does make me feel better. I did find that there are limitations to my desire to straighten out the ribbons though. For instance, in the parking lot of the movie theatre I saw one that needed to be changed, I left it alone. It is one thing to do this in the tiny little town that I live in, quite another to do it in the Metro-Phoenix area. That is to say that I really don’t think it is something I am prepared to die for.

• On sort of a similar topic, that being delusional religious people, I had a conversation with a guy named Rick the other day about eggs.

All my life I have believed that the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” was a pretty obvious gauge of religious belief. That is what the question is about, isn’t it? The way I see it, if you believe that the chicken came first that is saying that the chicken was created by someone/something. While if you believe that the egg came first, that would lend itself to the belief that the egg was the offspring of pre-existing animals that either cross-bred, or two animals of the same species that had a genetically mutated offspring. That would lend itself to the theory of evolution. Much like everything else in life, I never thought that anyone could believe that the question meant anything else (I always seem to think that everyone shares my views, right until they tell me they don’t). Rick, on the other hand, said that it was not anything like that. He said that the question was meant to be retorical, one of those meditiation thoughts along the lines of “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

I have tried to find evidence of my presumption that the question was an argument for or against evolution, but have had no success. If you happen to know how/why this question came about, please shoot me an email, I am really curious about it. Even if you don’t know how/why the question came about, but you have always believed that the fundamental reason for the question was evolution, let me know that also. I am really curious on this one.

That’s about all I have for now. Tune in next time to see photos of the craziest bitch on the net (if Zelda is willing to pose, that is).

Games and Religion (come to think of it, just games)

Yesterday’s missed post can be blamed directly on Roller Coaster Tycoon. I took the liberty of breaking the EULA so that I could install it on both of the pc’s here in the house, since I recently gifted my wife the Age of Mythology game (since she seemed to love the Age of Empires game so much). After that point, I was playing the roller coaster game and not typing much at all. It seems I have grown accustomed to the split keyboard, while I can still type on a normal keyboard, the typos would be horrendous. Well, that and I really wanted to keep playing the game anyway. Pick any of those excuses and take it to heart, ’cause that was the real reason… Now, on to bigger and better things.

• Interesting article in the news, or not. I do suppose that it would depend a lot on your personal religious beliefs. No need to link to it here, since the story itself only seeded a thought in my mind and has nothing to do with the story that I happened to see the quote in. While I don’t remember the quote verbatim, it went something like this:

“I don’t know what the truth is. The only way we will find the truth is to put all of the parties on the stand, under oath, then we will know the truth.”

That is a very good argument. Unless you happen to be talking to someone who is not religious. You see, I am not religious, and as such, I would lie with my hand on a copy of the ‘Holy Bible’ without a second thought. Is there really someone, anyone, out there that is so naive that they think that a person who would openly break ‘God’s Commandments’, would admit to it if they had their hand on a bible? Like you kill 39 women, then deny all of the crimes, but the second you put your hand on the bible you start saying you killed them all? Yes, interrogate him under oath…No one lies, ever…

Lest you all start thinking that I don’t believe in god, I offer you this tidbit. I don’t believe in god, it is a sham that organized religion created to get you to give them money. Yet, when I do commit the mortal sins, I ask for forgiveness to cover my tracks. That is religion in action! Instant gratification for hell-bound practices…Damn, I may be Republican after all…

• Thanksgiving is tomorrow, in the U.S., and everyone is celebrating it. My number one question is why the ‘native americans’ are celebrating it. Was this the last holiday they had before the white man started killing their warriors, raping their women, and forcing them into the reservations that they eventually made it into? Is the ‘white man’ remembered fondly for his ability to trade vodka for gold?

• My mind is in a bit of a flurry right now, please excuse me for ending this shorter than expected.

Religion in the News

So let us start off with some fun with maps, shall we?

This is a humorous little map that the wife emailed to me the other day. Well, it would be humorous were it not so close to reality. I post it here mostly only because of a piece that I was reading at the Washington Monthly about red and blue states, and how the colors for the parties seem to have switched recently -which I might add was explained in more detail on that site today, if that is something that you really care about-. While the colors in this map aren’t the correct colors for the way the election shook down, it sure doesn’t take a genius to figure out why it is divided the way that it is.

My only regret is that I live in part of Jesusland in that picture. And I mean it, seriously, my only regret in the entire world is that.

Which leads nicely into today’s ‘What the Fuck is Wrong With You People?’ segment. Yet another one of those stories that makes me wonder just what century we are supposed to be in. The headline reads Judge to Rule on Georgia Evolution Disclaimers. Here to quote a bit from the story:

A public school board in Georgia violated the U.S. Constitution when it placed stickers that challenge the theory of evolution on biology textbooks two years ago, a lawyer for a group of parents said on Friday.

That part makes sense to me. This is the United States, after all, and there is supposed to be a separation between church and state (although that seems a bit clouded judging by the current administration, and the half the country that voted for it). Challenging the theory of evolution in textbooks seems to go a bit beyond a child praying during a recess break, that is the administration knowingly forcing religion onto the students. That is a violation of their rights, right?

The U.S. Supreme Court (news – web sites) ruled in 1987 that creationism could not be taught in public schools alongside evolution.

Seems pretty black and white doesn’t it? I mean honestly, even if you are religious, and you really believe that the earth is really only a few thousand years old, and that God personally created Adam, etc. None of that changes the fact that it is illegal to be teaching it in schools. It is absolutely fine for you to tell your own child that the idea of evolution is such nonsense and holds no merit whatsoever, then show them the first few passages of the Bible which state in no uncertain terms that God created man. Explain to them that it must be true since it was written a really long time ago; That they should count their lucky stars that God spared Noah and his wife when he flooded the entire world, else humanity would have been extinct; Anything that anyone else tries to say is the devil talking. That is all your choice, to do as you wish at home, not force it on others in school.

Off topic, how do people who believe in creationism explain things like dogs? There are hundreds of different kinds of dogs. The ones that live where it is cold have really thick fur and are usually pretty stocky, while the ones that live where it is warm tend to have very thin, short fur and are more athletic. Did God create all of them like that in his infinite wisdom? If so, how can the breeds of dogs that man himself created be explained away? I have seen a few shows on the discovery channel showing some of the strange breeding that kennels have done to make a dog more suitable for a certain task. Is it really believed that God decides that since the kennels are fucking with the purity of his creations he will reward their efforts by divining a brand new breed of dog? Does that really make more sense than evolution to them?

Digressions aside, I guess I am getting a bit too worked up over the whole thing. I am not religious, don’t plan on ever being religious, don’t plan on ever having children who could have religion forced on them, and when I read the disclaimer that was on the books I guess it might not have been as bad as I had thought. It merely says,

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

While reading that I guess it doesn’t actually say anything about religion at all. What I do find a bit disturbing is that it says that the material should be approached with an open mind. Isn’t that sort of the polar opposite of how religion approaches things? If someone religious were to read the bible with an open mind, I am pretty sure that they would come away with a far different view of it than they currently have. The problem seems to be that really religious people have selective amnesia about the bible. That is pretty easily evidenced in the fact that when you are at church (if you have ever been there), you will be instructed to open your bible to certain passages, not certain chapters, just one line, from one chapter, from one book, from the bible. Were you to read the passage before it, or after it, you might be in for a nasty surprise. It is that sort of reading between the lines and taking things totally out of context that makes religion seem so frightening to me. You can grab any random book off of the shelf and open it up to four different pages, pick a line, then throw them together to make a seemingly good point.

“They appeared abruptly from behind every tree and statue.”
“Then the Emporor smiled.”
“He’d walk through the city on that first great day and the people would be silent when they saw their natural leader.”
“And then someone hit him again.”

Just for fun, I did just grab a book off of the shelf (which happened to be Terry Pratchett’s novel Interesting Times) and opened it to four random pages. I didn’t take the first line that I saw on each of the pages, but they were each from the page that I randomly opened it to. It really does read almost like I remember the church services from my childhood. In this scenario it would likely have been making a point that arrogance brought down the mighty emporor, while the penitent were spared. Hmmm. I like that story. Maybe I should become religious. If I can extrapolate a moral from four random lines in a humorous fantasy novel just imagane what I could do with the power of God behind me…I could be the richest televangelist ever! But I don’t think I would like to rape prepubescent boys, so I guess I am out. Oh well, it was a thought.
That’s about it for today. Tune in next time to see where my convoluted mind takes me.

On Religion

First and foremost, I want to assure you that I am not going to dedicate this whole page to talking about the new shoes (though I am in some sort of a Nirvana-like shoe state ever since the purchase of those little suckers), so you can read on with confidence, in what I got no idea.

• Flux, over there at BlackChampagne had a bit of an email tiff with the guy who does the movie reviews over at The CAP Alert website (Christian Movie Reviews…That is, reviews of new movies from a strictly biblical point of view; What sins are committed and the such). For my purposes here, I will say that the email exchange was often humorous (as it was displayed right in the blog on Flux’s site for all the world to see), mostly so when viewed from a distance, as a sort of study into the mind of the extremely zealous, religious nut-case (not Flux, but the Cap Alert guy).

Something about what the religious nut-case said in one (well all) of the emails prompted me to email Flux with my two cents. It turns out that there were a couple of people other than me that were also following the saga, probably in almost stupified confusion (I know I was) at what the Cap guy was saying. Flux actually set up a separate page just to host the email conversation with the guy and the resulting feedback. That page can be seen Here.

One of the feedbacks was talking about something called “cognitive dissonance”, a term that I had never heard of. I don’t truly understand that term, or the implications of it, well enough to argue about it. Just a quick break down of how I see it:

1) You have a very strong belief in something, could be anything.
2) You are offered undeniable proof that your belief is wrong.
3) You believe even more in that something, laying all facts aside.

Now, it seems to me that this is exactly what religion has been doing for thousands of years. I remember a story in the bible where a bunch of people were trying to build a staircase to God (which I think is the bible trying to explain away things like the pyramids and any other large structure that pre-dates christianity). God then made it so that all of the workers spoke different languages so that they couldn’t communicate. God didn’t want mortals to be able to reach the heavens (best described in the bible as clouds). Fast-forward that story a couple of thousand years, then note that we have space travel. Now, Heaven is no longer in the clouds, or in space, maybe mortals can’t even see it when they go by, I dunno. If it was true that you could build something tall enough to reach Heaven, wouldn’t that mean that Heaven was a tangible place? The bible said it was, oh, but, wait, there is that “cognitive dissonance”.

Religion, in and of itself, doesn’t make any sense at all. There have been hundreds of ‘known religions’, likely thousands that were practiced but not known to us today. Once no one really practices them any more they turn into Mythology. I just wonder why we wait until there are no more practioners of said religion before calling it a myth. Doesn’t crap equal crap regardless of the defenders of the one pile?

You may have noticed that I am a bit bitter towards religion. I think that is a pretty justified position to take, given my upbringing. My parents were not all that religious (technically, the only time I ever heard the word GOD when I was young was when dad was yelling at whatever he was trying to fix; It was generally followed by either ‘Damn’ or a string of obscenities that I am not going to list here). While my parents were not religious, I (and my brothers) were forced to go to church every Sunday. As a grown man, I think that maybe they were looking for a bit of time alone, but who knows. I did my best to listen to the guy yelling all of the bible verses, I did sing when necessary, I put a quarter in the collection dish every Sunday(I was like 6), I did the religion thing.

I went to ‘Vacation Bible School’, I went to a Wednesday Night program (called AWANA), I did all that I could to excel at this endeavor. My second year at “Vacation Bible School” was the first time that i actually walked down between the pews, kneeled down, and asked God to save my soul. I was in tears as I did that, I am still not sure if they were tears of joy or tears of fear or pain, I just know that I did it. I really, truly, wanted to be the best little christian that I could be…

Shortly after my parents divorced, at which point I was either 7 or 8, I was given a bible, from a woman, at a church that my mother was taking us to. I think that this was the first bible that was ever truly mine. It was a pretty bible too, it was white on the outside and put a lot of the verses in red on the inside. When I asked the woman who had given it to me why some of the verses were in red, she said that they were many of the verses that are cited during your average Sermon. That, of course, intrigued me.

I began to read the book just wondering why the passages that they ( the preachers ) quoted were so few and far between. Within about an hour I knew exactly why there were only a few of the passages in red; There are only a few passages that the Preacher ever wants you to see. It took me a couple of weeks, and I didn’t understand some of it, but, I read the bible, cover to cover. The Bible (at least the King James version of it) is rife with adultery, murder & incest. Were it not for the fact that religions are basing their lives on the damn thing, it might be on the best-seller list as just one hell of a novel.

Even after that epiphany, it took me almost four years before I just gave up and said that all religion is bullshit. I can not cite a single incident that led to this, there had been overwhelming scientific evidence for years, I had avoided it. There was some point where I just thought, okay, enough. It is all crap, life is not being governed by some higher power. If it is, I am certainly gonna be screwed for putting the fingers to the keyboard to write this.

The issue of “cognitive dissonance”, it seems, really does exist. It kept me from giving up on religion for a very long time. Now that I am free of the religious pull, I wonder how I ever got suckered into that garbage. Of course I was a child of parents who were sending me to church so that they could have some nooky time. Had my parent’s actually been religious, I might be writing this from the other side of the fence.

• The strange thing is that I do believe in Karma (to an extent). If you wrong someone, that wrong will come back to you. I don’t think that that implies a religion though. That is something that I keep in mind when I deal with people who are really irritating me (though they may not know it). If you treat your peers the way that you would want them to treat you, this would not be an issue. Unfortunately, the christian community is too involved in what everyone else is doing wrong to find fault in their own actions. Oh, to be so blissfull and naive…

Wrongs have a way of Righting themselves.