Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Revisionaries

It's time to shine a light in the darkest corners and watch the roaches scurry for cover. This looks like an incredible documentary and one that everyone should see or at least be aware that this type of stuff is happening right under our noses...

Scary. Incredibly scary what these morons are trying to do to our children, to the future of this nation and to humanity. Keep them steeped in ignorance and mythology so they don't know right from left, much less right from wrong, or truth from bigoted baseless opinion. I think Christopher Hitchens, as usual, said it best:

Now, I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion and organized religion. Absolutely convinced of that. And I think it should be - religion - treated with ridicule, and hatred, and contempt. And I claim that right. So when I say - as the subtitle of my book - that I think religion poisons everything, I'm not just doing what publishers like and coming up with a provocative subtitle. I mean to say it infects us in our most basic integrity. It says: "We can't can't be moral without 'big brother', without totalitarian permission", means: we can't be good to one another without this, we must be afraid, we must also be forced to love someone whom we fear - the essence of sadomasochism, the essence of abjection, the essence of the master-slave relationship - and that knows death is coming and can't wait to bring it on. I say that is evil. And though I do - some nights - stay home, I enjoy more the nights when I go out and fight against this ultimate wickedness and ultimate stupidity.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What About God?

Great PBS documentary... very scary what we have to deal with in this country.

Ken Ham - "The Bible says God created the earth, covered with water, the sun moon and stars on day four - well that's very different to the big bang. If the big bang's true, well the bible got it wrong on astronomy. The bible says there was a global flood, but today we have a lot people saying 'No there wasn't.', well if the bible gets it wrong in geology... and the bible says god made distinct kinds of animals and plants to reproduce after their own kind. Well, today evolutionists would say 'No, one kind of animal changed into another over millions of years.', so the bible gets it wrong in biology. Then why should I trust the bible when it talks about morality and salvation?"

I think you answered your own question...

Monday, October 15, 2012

You Don't Have to Go Down in My Basement

Great talk by Dan Barker. My favorite part comes around 20:45

"Suppose you were walking by my house one day. You've been walking by for a long time and I were to go up on the porch and say:

'Hey! Stop! I've got some good news! Good news for you people! Stop stop stop!! You don't have to go down in my basement! This is great news! You've been walking by all this time. You've been ignoring me and I deserve to be recognized and honored and you've been ignoring me and it's made me so angry and so mad that I just get so horribly mad so I built this torture chamber down in the basement. And there's some hooks down there and there's some sharp things and there's some vats of sticky stuff and there's a furnace and there's some chains and it's horrible and there's flames!

But you don't have to go down there! I sent my son down there... And it was gruesome, I tell you, it was really horrible. But that satisfied my anger and now his blood was shed and now you're free. You don't have to go down. All you have to do, come on up here, just come up and tell my son that you love him and hug him and then you can move in with us. We'll live up in the attic and you can tell me how great I am. You can just tell me how much you love me and we'll do that. Won't that be great?!'

... So, would you keep walking?"

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Just Some Dried Mango

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The Catholic Church Still Doesn't Get It

By now, we all know of the worldwide epidemic of catholic priest pedophilia on young boys. These crimes are truly sickening and have gone un- or under-punished for years and years now. Some high profile cases have now begun to hit criminal courts here in the US with Philadelphia and Boston and Kansas City cases, but it appears there is little or no remorse among those who are still within the culture. The National Catholic Register recently interviewed Benedict Groeschel, a friar who you may recognize as you have flipped the channels past EWTN, the Catholic tv network. In this startling interview (I first saw on Religion News), Groeschel comes off as someone who knows only too well the desires and troubles of the pedophile priest:

"Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?
A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.

Why would that be?

Well, it’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.
It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.
But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?
Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.
If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why.
I think perhaps part of the reason would be an embarrassment, that it brings the case out into the open, and the girl’s name is there, or people will figure out what’s there, or the youngster involved — you know, it’s not put in the paper, but everybody knows; they’re talking about it.
At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done.
And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime."

This is not to accuse him directly, but the tone and tenor and phrasing just seems so dirty to me. If nothing else, he is completely oblivious to the agony and fear that the victims go through in their ordeals. Children who are placed in the care of supposed holy authority figures who then manipulate and act out their disgusting sexual fantasies on these minors, all the while not thinking this is anything more than just horsing around. This is a serious crime we're talking about and no one within the catholic structure seems to get how serious this is. A 10-14 year old child is supposed to be the mature one and not the adult? come on.

Then he goes on to talk about Sandusky (the poor guy? really? who in their right mind could have sympathy for him?)... "Why didn't anyone say anything?"- I'll tell you why, because the people committing the crimes have all the power and no one to keep that power in check from corruption, not to mention the public humiliation the victim must endure to come out against their attacker because of how heinous the discretion is. The power structure in place at Penn State to keep the Sandusky incidents a secret for so long is strikingly similar to the structure of the Catholic Church, but the church is far worse since the Vatican doesn't have to answer to any other authority like the police or fbi. They literally have the keys to the car and no one to catch them. On their first offense, they should not go to jail??? This is lunacy. How can anyone in their right mind want to be associated with such devilry? The parishioners? how do they continue to give tithes to this?

Unfortunately the answer is most probably a mix between ignorance of the real stories and the scope and scale of the problem by churchgoers, cover up and secrecy and twisting by the church, failed promises of change and self-correction that get swept under the rug, all combined with the powerful influence the church already has over the supposed souls of the congregants. People still fear hell and feel like the church is the only way to live forever. That is a powerful carrot to hang over their heads to continue to blind them to the facts that the church is nothing more than a bunch of corrupt mobsters peddling lies while raking in cash by the billions, helping no one, hurting billions by enforcing their ancient dogmas on others and having a system to shuffle around rapists to keep them from being prosecuted by secular state authorities. It is an evil, evil organization and this interview is as clear as day that nothing in their mindset has changed.

The National Catholic Register has since removed this story from it's website and put up this apology, and this one has come out from Groeschel himself. Too little too late in my book. They are scrambling because someone noticed and they feel caught. How no editor could have read this and thought it was ok to publish shows just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Luckily, the excerpts of import have circled the web and are there for all to see and make up their own minds about.

Wake up people and see what your church is doing! Why would you honestly and sincerely want to align yourselves with people and an organization like this? That talk like this? That act like this? Keep your faith and keep your money and go elsewhere for spiritual guidance if you feel you need it. It is imperative to get out of this strangle hold the catholic church has on this earth. The only way I can see to stop this cronyism is to dwindle the pews. Stop going, stop giving them your money. By showing up on sunday and tithing, you are complicit and giving the stamp of approval (whether you know it or not). The time has come to give up the catholic church!

The Freedom From Religion Foundation put out a letter earlier this year just to this effect and lists a whole host of major issues beyond pedophilia:

Dear ‘Liberal’ Catholic: 

It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church.
It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway?
It is time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem.
Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club? Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers? When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One. Think of the acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, social evils and deaths that can be laid directly at the door of the Church’s antiquated doctrine that birth control is a sin and must be outlawed.
A backer of the Roman Catholic presidential candidate says that if women want to avoid pregnancy we should put an aspirin between our knees? Catholic politicians are urging that the right to contraception should be left up to states? Nearly 50 years after the Supreme Court upheld contraception as a privacy right, we’re going to have to defend this basic freedom all over again?
You’re better than your church. So why? Why continue to attend Mass? Tithe? Why dutifully sacrifice to send your children to parochial schools so they can be brainwashed into the next generation of myrmidons (and, potentially, become the next Church victims)? For that matter, why have you put up with an institution that won’t put up with women priests, that excludes half of humanity?
No self-respecting feminist, civil libertarian or progressive should cling to the Catholic faith. As a Cafeteria Catholic, you chuck out the stale doctrine and moldy decrees of your religion, but keep patronizing the establishment that menaces public health by serving rotten offerings. Your continuing Catholic membership, as a “liberal,” casts a veneer of respectability upon an irrational sect determined to blow out the Enlightenment and threaten liberty for women worldwide. You are an enabler. And it’s got to stop.
If you imagine you can change the church from within — get it to lighten up on birth control, gay rights, marriage equality, embryonic stem-cell research — you are deluding yourself. If you remain a “good Catholic,” you are doing “bad” to women’s rights. You’re kidding yourself if you think the Church is ever going to add a Doctrine of Immaculate ContraCeption.
It is disgraceful that U.S. health care reform is being held hostage to the Catholic Church’s bizarre opposition to medically prescribed contraception. No politician should jeopardize electability for failure to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Question to ask your Bishop: Does he hold up an umbrella against the rain? Isn’t that just as “unnatural” as using a condom or diaphragm?)
Your Church hysterically claims that secular medical policy is “an assault against religious liberty.” You are savvy enough to realize that the real assault is by the Church against women’s rights and health care. As Nation columnist Katha Pollitt asks: Is it an offense against Jehovah Witnesses that health care coverage will include blood transfusions? The Amish, as Pollitt points out, don’t label cars “an assault on religious liberty” and try to force everyone to drive buggies. The louder the Church cries “offense against religious liberty” the harder it works to take away women’s liberty.
Obama has compromised, but the Church never budges, instead launching a vengeful modern-day Inquisition. Look at its continuing directives to parish priests to use their pulpits every Sunday to lobby you against Obama’s policy, the Church’s announcement of a major anti-contraception media campaign — using your tithes, contributions and donations — to defeat Obama’s laudable health care policy. The Church has introduced into Congress the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, ” a bill to place the conscienceless Catholic Church’s “rights of conscience” above the rights of conscience of 53 percent of Americans. That the Church has “conscience rights” to deny women their rights is a kissing cousin to the claim that “corporations are people.” The Church that hasn’t persuaded you to oppose contraception now wants to use the force of secular law to deny contraceptive rights to non-Catholics.
But is there any point in going on? After all, your misplaced loyalty has lasted through two decades of public sex scandals involving preying priests, children you may have known as victims, and church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top. Are you like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go?
But we have a more welcoming home to offer, free of incense-fogged ritual, free of what freethinker Bertrand Russell called “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men,” free of blind obedience to an illusory religious authority. Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.
As a member of the “flock” of an avowedly antidemocratic club, isn’t it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass.
Very truly,
Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Clergy Project

I read Dan Dennett's study in 2010 on clergy struggling with their disbelief while stuck in their pastor roles for various reasons ("Preachers Who Are Not Believers"), but ran across this podcast today from the Thinking Atheist from this past January. It is an incredible dilemma as people who have dedicated sometimes their entire life to lead others in faith finally realize that they no longer believe and face an extraordinary exit strategy, as their career and friend and family relationships all come crashing down at once. It is probably singly unique in that just a simple change in your philosophy can cause such widespread carnage across all avenues of your life. Many of these people are stuck with theological degrees or certain financial implications that keep them from making a quick transition to some other form of employment. The other huge issue is the reception of the new world view by the congregants and friends and family. Will they be ostracized and rejected from everyone they know and love? I can't help but feel for these clergy. It is nice to know that they do have somewhere they can turn for help. The Clergy Project was set up last year to serve as a safe haven for current clergy going through this cognitive dissonance. It is run and maintained by current and ex clergy and anonymity is respected as they build a community to deal with all of the issues involved in "de-clergifying":

  • Wrestling with intellectual, ethical, philosophical and theological issues
  • Coping with cognitive dissonance
  • Addressing feelings of being stuck and fearing the future
  • Looking for new careers
  • Telling their families
  • Sharing useful resources
  • Living as a nonbeliever with religious spouses and family
  • Using humor to soften the pain
  • Finding a way out of the ministry
  • Adjusting to life after the ministry

  • The Clergy Project website has incredible audio and written testimonials from some of the members and their stories are heartbreaking but also encouraging.

    The Thinking Atheist 1-10-12 Podcast #40:

    (Image by Evelina Kremsdorf)

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Mesmerizing Pendulum Waves

    Sometimes nature is just plain beautiful...

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Did Jesus Exist? - Richard Carrier

    Great talk by Richard Carrier about the historicity of Jesus:

    Dear God

    Heard this little diddy on the way in this morning...

    Dear God,
    Hope you got the letter and
    I pray you can make it better down here
    I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer
    But all the people that you made in your image,
    See them starving on their feet
    Cause they don't get enough to eat
    from God
    Can't believe in you...

    Dear God,
    Sorry to disturb you, but
    I feel that I should be heard loud and clear
    We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
    And all the people that you made in your image,
    See them fighting in the street
    Cause they can't make opinions meet
    about God
    I can't believe in you...

    Did you make disease?
    And the diamond blue?
    Did you make mankind after we made you?
    And the devil too!

    Dear God,
    Don't know if you noticed, but
    Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
    And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
    And all the people that you made in your image,
    Still believing that junk is true
    Well, I know it ain't and so do you
    Dear God,
    I can't believe in

    I don't believe in

    I won't believe in heaven and hell
    No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
    No pearly gates, no thorny crown
    You're always letting us humans down
    The wars you bring, the babes you drown
    Those lost at sea and never found,
    and it's the same the whole world 'round
    The hurt I see helps to compound
    That Father, Son and Holy Ghost
    Is just somebody's unholy hoax
    And if you're up there you'd perceive
    That my heart's here upon my sleeve
    If there's one thing I don't believe in...

    It's you...
    Dear God

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Global Atheist Convention- Hitchens Tribute

    Great compilation and tribute to The Hitch from the 2012 GAC in Australia this past weekend...

    Global Atheist Convention 2012

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Bob's Notes: Matthew 1-12

    I found a great youtube channel today, bobsmeerfak, and it is brilliant. He parodies stories from the bible playing them off as a "series designed for theological seminary students with approaching exams who have not had time to read the bible" as well as other various people. awesome... enjoy some clips from the Gospel according to Matthew:

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Moral Behavior in Animals

    Another great TED talk.... Frans de Waal delves into a very interesting topic - morality in animals - and he's a pretty funny dude too.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    White Wine in the Sun - Tim Minchin

    It's not christmas, but I just came across this fantastic animation today and wanted to share. The lyrics are incredible and Tim Minchin finds the true meaning of the holiday season: family

    I really like Christmas 
    It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it
    I am hardly religious
    I'd rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest

    And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism
    To the commercialisation of an ancient religion
    To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
    Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
    But I still really like it

    I'm looking forward to Christmas
    Though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus

    I'll be seeing my dad
    My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
    They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
    I'll be seeing my dad
    My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
    They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

    I don't go in for ancient wisdom
    I don't believe just 'cause ideas are tenacious, it means they're worthy
    I get freaked out by churches
    Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are spooky

    And yes, I have all of the usual objections to the miseducation
    Of children who in tax-exempt institutions are taught to externalise blame
    And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right or wrong
    But I quite like the songs

    I'm not expecting big presents
    The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolates is just fine by me

    'Cause I'll be seeing my dad
    My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
    They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
    I'll be seeing my dad
    My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
    They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

    And you, my baby girl
    My jet-lagged infant daughter
    You'll be handed 'round the room
    Like a puppy at a primary school
    And you won't understand
    But you will learn some day
    That wherever you are and whatever you face
    These are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world
    My sweet blue-eyed girl

    And if, my baby girl
    When you're twenty-one or thirty-one
    And Christmas comes around
    And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
    You'll know what ever comes
    Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum
    Will be waiting for you in the sun

    Whenever you come
    Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
    Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
    We'll be waiting for you in the sun
    Drinking white wine in the sun 
    Waiting for you...

    I really like Christmas
    It's sentimental, I know...

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Conform or Get Out

    Great response to Pastor Dennis Terry's hate-filled rhetoric. Well done.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Reason Rally Sum Up

    Seth over at Thinking Atheist put together a great video from the Reason Rally in DC last weekend... wish I could have been there!

    Hermant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist also has a great summary of the day's events with lots of photos and video clips.

    Best quote from the day was by Adam Savage (Mythbusters):

    I have concluded through careful, empirical analysis and much thought that somebody is looking out for me. Keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me when I do less then I ought, giving me strength to shoot for more than I think I am capable of. I believe they know everything that I do and think and they still love me and I’ve concluded after careful consideration that this person keeping score is me.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    Freedom From Religion Foundation - National TV Ad

    Currently airing now... where can I get one of those pennies??? For more info on FFRF, please see the link to the left!

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    The Life of a Booster Rocket

    Pretty amazing footage. I always wondered what happened to those boosters after they fell off...

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Evolution of the Moon

    Awesome digital representation of how we think the moon came to look the way it does now...

    We Stopped Dreaming

    Thanks to Glenn for sending this video along. Neil at his best, being science's greatest living ambassador.

    The Odyssey According to Mark

    I stumbled on these videos today and the premise seems intriguing. The videos are based on a book by Dennis MacDonald called "The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark". MacDonald tries to make his case that the gospel of Mark was the first written of the four gospels and its author was influenced heavily by the works of Homer, especially The Odyssey. I haven't read the book, but these videos by TruthSurge claim to expand on the evidence presented by MacDonald. Obviously, books like these would receive a lot of criticism from theologian scholars (here's one review) by calling into question the very truth of the jesus narrative - thus breaking down the entire religion, but many of the points made do have some merit and at least leave you scratching your head if nothing else. The whole series is worth watching if you can spare the time...

    Age-Related Mentia

    The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today

    I watched a fantastic documentary on PBS last night about a landmark court case involving the first amendment and the separation of church and state called "The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today".  Prior to the mid 1940s, religious education was very much a part of public school life. Some instruction was mandatory, others were "voluntary" but still had children feel as outcasts who did not wish to participate - the majority of which was of the protestant persuasion. Then along came Vashti McCollum, who intended to fight the state-sponsored religious education her children were subjected to in public school in Champaign, Illinois. She filed a lawsuit (McCollum vs. Board of Education) and pleaded her case against government endorsed religious education in public schools. She lost the initial trial and the state appeal before bringing it to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1947.

    (Vashti McCollum)

    In a monumental decision for the time (WWII had just ended, the posturing of the Cold War against communism was just beginning, many also feared the growing influence of catholicism and other "cults" in the country. The country's religious fervor was never higher. We added the motto "In God We Trust" to our currency in 1956 and "Under God" to the pledge of allegiance in 1954.), an 8-1 decision in favor of Mrs. McCollum set the precedent for all of the first amendment and fourteenth amendment Equal Protection Clause cases to follow.

    Supreme Justice Black wrote, "The First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left free from the other in its respective sphere". This was the first time this amendment was ever tested, and in doing so, the justices relied heavily on the writings of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson to see how the founders intended the amendment to be interpreted.

    In 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Church in CT:

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

    Both Jefferson and Madison had plenty to say on the matter. Please see the Intellects section above for links to many of their writings about the separation of church and state. The interesting part of this phrasing is that it really came from a devout protestant, Roger Williams of Rhode Island, back in 1644. In his "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience", Williams intimates that religion mixed with government tends to corrupt religion (however, the opposite is also true) when he says:

    "When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World."

    Quite interesting how the foundation of the first amendment is based on the premise that religious belief needed to be protected from government affairs when now it is basically the other way around. Most of the first amendment cases now are in efforts to protect secular indifferent government from the deleterious effects of particular religious influence. And it all started with a brave woman named Vashti McCollum. The PBS documentary is really worth watching. I have tried to find the full version online but have only successfully found the trailer below. Please check with your PBS station or PBS online to find times to view the program.

    PBS - The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Hillary Clinton: Women in the World Summit

    Great speech by Hillary Clinton at the Women in the World Summit this past week in New York City. She makes a ton of excellent points, but seems to ignore the obvious: that so much of the way women are viewed and treated in modern society is rooted in those bronze age Abrahamic religions. These religions perpetuate the ideas that women are to be submissive, subservient and subordinate to men. That women are the cause for "original sin" and are treated more or less as property. It is apart from these dogmas that women are finally being given their long overdue roles in society. They are leaders, they are independent and they should have a say in how our society is shaped. Why don't they see how this is all deeply rooted in our religions? And to finally remove religious restrictions and barbaric traditions, to be released from the shackles that hold us back in so many ways from treating each other properly, humanity as a whole can progress with everyone playing an equal part in how we mold our future.

    Watch live streaming video from womenintheworld at

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Christian Terrorism

    In the last decade or so, muslim terrorism has been front and center in everyone's mind around the world. Al Qaeda operatives and Taliban fighters among others killing in the name of their god and Islam. Suicide bombers, attacks on innocent civilians and various threats have increased fear all over the globe and tightened security restrictions for "free" societies.  This is a threat to civilization. One idiot with an IED could literally set off World War III, or some regime could get its hands on a nuclear weapon and start a chain of reactions that could escalate into violence all over the world as people align with country and various gods. Islam is well considered the most violent main-stream religion in the world, but many people don't seem to understand that Christianity is, in many respects, just as violent.

    There have also been a number of instances of Christian terrorism in the last few decades as well. With the Kony2012 documentary going viral in the last few days, this is starting to shed a light on some of these atrocities done in Jesus' name. Joseph Kony is the leader of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), a militant christian group based in Uganda, Congo and Sudan in Africa. They are widely known for their violence in raiding villages. They kill the men and women, abduct the young boys and enlist them into the militia, forcing them to kill others (including their own families), and take the young girls as trophies to rape. It is an awful existence for these people and the documentary done by Invisible Children is extremely moving and well worth watching. (Please do not accept this as my support of the non-profit. There are some conflicting reports of how accurate some of the details are in the film and how much a donation is actually put to the cause versus the overhead - which seems considerable. "Only 32 percent of the $8,676,614 Invisible Children spent in their campaign has been used in direct services to the people of Uganda". Please do your own research of Invisible Children before deciding to donate. They also appear to be an evangelical organization, so be wary of their intentions.)

    Kony and his group are trying to establish a theocracy based on the ten commandments and various points of christianity blended with some local african religions and mysticism. The people in these countries live in fear for their lives. The children are worried they will be abducted at night and forced into a war they want no part in. It is our responsibility as human citizens to help put an end to the bloodshed and terror caused by this christian group. President Obama did send in some troops in the fall but the point of the film is to generate more awareness so that it can become an item of strategic interest for our government (at this point it is not). Kony is considered a war criminal by international authorities but has evaded capture to this point, but the government of Uganda is also considered to have been involved in various war crimes. The whole thing seems like a big mess and its certainly not as black and white as it would appear from the documentary.

    The big story in christian terrorism last year was the attack in Norway in July by Anders Breivik. Claiming to be a modern-day knights templar, Breivik bombed a government building and then opened fire on a youth camp before being apprehended. He was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, but his intentions to kill were based on a christian ideology, a hatred for a perceived increased muslim influence in Europe and his longing for a return to the white/christian heritage he thought the continent should be based on.

    Some have also considered Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma City a "christian" terrorist act. It appears he was heavily influenced by the events of Waco, and he was certainly a christian. How much that effected the events on that horrific day is debated, but it was certainly a factor of some sort.

    Anti-abortion violence is also a form of domestic christian terrorism. People taking their ideologies to the extreme and killing, abducting, bombing in the name of their god and their religion. Local militia groups are also on the rise in the U.S. and have shown some violent tendencies. One could also argue that the influence the catholic church has on sex and birth control is in effect killing millions of people in africa for no reason other than religious dogma. Government positions and laws on homosexuality, especially those in christian african nations, are another example. These people live in fear for their lives just because of who they are, who they can't change. Yes, even governments can be guilty of religious terrorist acts.

    These are just a few noteworthy examples in recent times, but this kind of fervor is based in the same mindset of the atrocities of old. From the crusades to the inquisition to the witch and heretic trials. The justification for any of these acts can be found in the pages of your bible. It's in there. And people can interpret them in any way they like, but there are many ways to interpret the scriptures as a code of conduct with which to make the world conform to the teachings or die. The christian apologists of today can try to wiggle their way around the many passages calling for the murder of innocents (including children), slavery, oppression of women and other barbaric practices, but the text is in there and anyone with a screw loose can use them for terror just like muslim terrorists or hindu terrorists or any other.

    The common theme, it seems to me, is the unwillingness of people to scrutinize what they actually claim to believe. To verify if the tenants they hold so dear are true, worthy, or admirable. Is the god you claim to worship who you really think he is? Are the accounts true or even plausible, or physically possible or supported by verifiable evidence? Spend time actually reading your holy books to see that these awful words are in there and can be the justification for much of the violence and hatred and terror in our world today. You may choose to ignore those passages that don't suit you, and that is, of course, your prerogative to do so. Just know that by doing so, you are enabling others to commit the most heinous of acts in the name of your same religion and your same "god".

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    The King of Kings' Speech


    Monday, March 5, 2012

    The Most Astounding Fact

    Thanks to Bryan for the link! Neil philosophizing...

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Forget Jesus, Stars Died So You Could Live

    Who would have thought I would be interested in anything Miley Cyrus had to say? But when she quoted Lawrence Krauss the other day (upsetting her christian following) on twitter I was astonished and impressed. Maybe this girl has some sense after all; and maybe, just maybe, some of her followers will pay attention and begin to ask questions instead of plugging their ears and calling her a heretic. Here is the quote she shared, pretty innocent until that last line which ignited the scandal:

    It may be offensive to some, but it is in fact how we came to be. We know this now. This is not some crazy idea or hypothesis by one rogue scientist. It has been proven beyond a measurable doubt and is accepted by much of the scientific world. If it goes against your church's teachings, then perhaps your church is wrong on this one. Why is that part of the equation never questioned, considered even? It's always the thing that shakes the church that gets vilified, never the church itself.

    Here's a great "fireside" chat between Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins where they hash out some interesting and taboo topics. It's worth the 2 hours, I promise.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Crazy Watering Can

    Powerful video... does it make you think?

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    The Heretic's Guide to Mormonism

    The Mormons have been in the spotlight a lot recently with the hit broadway show, Mitt Romney running for president and the recent news of them baptizing deceased people, like Anne Frank, causing quite a stir. Here is a great talk exposing some of the main beliefs and idiosyncrasies of their faith. It seems crazy and weird because all religious beliefs seem crazy and weird when you actually break them down and think about them critically, theirs is just a much more recent version and thus we have enough current evidence and historical records from the time to completely refute everything about it. Enjoy.

    "It's the garden of eden, mother fuckers! right there!", David Fitzgerald

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    The Sermon on the Mount: Part I - The Beatitudes

    The sermon on the mount is perhaps the most important piece of scripture from the new testament as it basically lays out the foundational philosophy and ethics of jesus, and thus modern christianity. It is found in Matthew 5-7, and a similar sermon (or the same one, depending on your view) can be found over in Luke 6. We will look at both book's passages to break the sermon down and find out if this is really the best god and jesus can do to give us a moral compass.

    Jesus starts the sermon with what are commonly called the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11)*:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled

    Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy

    Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see god

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of god

    Blessed are the those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you

    Luke takes a little different angle on the beatitudes (Luke 6:20-26)

    Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven

    Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied

    Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh

    Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the son of man

    Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

    But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort

    Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry

    Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep

    Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets
    So, what can we gain from these verses? Obviously poverty is a virtue and wealth is a vice. There can be no other way to interpet this, really. It is pretty plain when you look at Matthew and Luke that those who live lavishly and even just contentedly in this world will suffer in the next, according to jesus. There is some attempt to cheer up the listeners who no doubt are poor and suffering and hungry. The commoners of the day lived a brutal life of existence and some of these verses can provide a bit of hope or inspiration. Even though this life sucks for you, there is an afterlife that is proportional in happiness to the despair felt now. An opiate for the masses.

    Some of these verses do provide a bit of moral decency in how to act. Showing mercy, being pure in heart and being a peacemaker are all noble things to aspire. In fact, one can argue that these are a reasonable foundation for some morals, but hardly enough. There needs to be more of these if we really are to believe we get our morals and ethics from an omniscient being. These are the only three jesus gives and they are pretty basic, but there should be a lot more if this is supposed to be our foundation. But another issue one can take here is do we only do good things for the reward of heaven? Or because it is good just to do them? It almost seems jesus is baiting us with eternal reward for something that should be second nature. What's more noble? A good deed done for an ulitmate reward? Or a good deed done in spite of any reward?

    Still other verses provide fodder for the "woe is me", persecuted christian outlook that we see constantly. Jesus seems to relish the fact that people will be persecuted in his name, and for being persecuted, they will be rewarded in heaven. Christians are told to rejoice in their persecution. These few verses allow the christian to avoid any and all criticism of his or her faith. Any little thing that can be construed as an insult or offensive or a persecution or an oppression or infringement to their religious liberty only reassures them of their seat in heaven and provides confirmation of their beliefs since jesus warns them about it right here. This type of thinking also can provide the basis for religious martyrdom when taken to the extreme.

    So, what can we learn here? Instead of really offering valuable insights on how to live, the main theme of the beatitudes seems to be that this life sucks and there's nothing you can do about it and don't even bother trying to enjoy yourself or better yourself or make your children's lives better because in the grand scheme of things, this life is pretty meaningless when compared to eternity in heaven. This is a major theme in the entire sermon really, which I will break down in future posts. To take no thought for tomorrow and don't worry about yourself now because life will soon end and you will be in heaven enjoying the rewards of living a futile existence here. While it may be heartwarming to some who are in complete despair and see no hope of improvement, this is really pretty depressing news, especially when you consider that there is no proof of an afterlife. This is the only one we know we have, and jesus is basically telling you to throw it all away. I don't see many deep moral insights here or at least anything that intimates a higher or more enlightened being authored them. Let's see what the rest of the sermon has to say...

    (Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch)

    *all text from the NIV version