left biblioblography: 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Deconstructing Stan - Analyzing The Analyst

Cross-posted at God Is For Suckers!friend+of+a

This episode of Sock Puppet Theatre is brought to you by Stan, via his website , interestingly titled 'Atheism Analyzed'.

I ran across this fellow here at Pharyngula. So I began puttering about the site, seeing just exactly who this cat is, and what he was about.

I found it terribly odd, that his logo was 'Friend of Atheism', and yet in a post time-stamped November 16, 2007, he refers to himself as a 'Forty Year Atheist'. Strange, but I shrugged and forged onwards.

What I found, was...intriguing. Not very friendly, I might add. (I found it semi-irksome that he spells atheism with a capital 'A', as if it is some sort of religion, when nothing could be further from the truth).

Here's a brief snippet:

As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions. I determined to expand my previously feeble knowledge of the subject, and to analyze what I found to be the positions of my fellow Atheists, using only the principles of logic and rational thought.

I will return to this shortly, as it will tie the threads together.

First and foremost, I believe the correct terminology is 'Retreat behind scholarship'. This is a standard tactic: surround a central thesis with so much material, that if you attempt to critique any sort of point in an effort at brevity, it can easily be misconstrued as a strawman. Of course, a good quote to apply here is ""The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit." - Francois FeNelon

Our 'friend' here is...well, pretty much a pauper in the war of words then.

I'm going to make an effort to nutshell most of this - and our overly sensitive buddy will no doubt holler about 'ad hominem' attacks, logical fallacies, and any other abuses this self-styled Vulcan will accuse me of. Be assured, gentle reader, that I went to dine at his table without presupposition: I came away with a bad taste in my mouth. Masquerades are better suited for Halloween and costume balls, not philosophy.

This'll be longer than I like - but in the interests of 'honesty', I'll fisk away. Bear with me:

The Atheist Worldview

Unlike, say, Buddhism, Atheism has almost all of these features. Let’s expand each worldview component to see how Atheism fits:

1. Cognition of reality, and levels (Godelian) of reality:

a. Natural essence (First Principles of existence and truth)

Atheism is first and foremost Naturalist and Materialist. For now, we will assume that the Atheist accepts the First Principles of existence and truth.

He defines this elsewhere. Let's lay out the terms here. Truth is defined as: 1. Conformity to fact or actuality, 2. A statement proven to be or accepted as true, 3. Sincerity; integrity, 4. Fidelity to an original or standard, 5.
a. Reality; actuality.
b. often Truth That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

Existence is defined as - "The fact or state of existing; being."

I might also add, that Gödel's second incompleteness theorem states that "If an axiomatic system can be proven to be consistent and complete from within itself, then it is inconsistent." While this is primarily applied to mathematics, evolution (small capital) falls squarely under this umbrella.

b. Intuitive essence (First level of validation)

By accepting the First Principles of existence and truth, by default the Atheist affirms the existence of intuition, which is the means for validation of the innate truth of the First Principles. This will produce stress for the Atheist, who might deny the concept of intuition, but who will exercise intuition by accepting the materialism of the First Principles. This produces a violation of the second First Principle: a paradox, within which the Atheist lives.

I've personally never had a problem with intuition - most folks don't. I think of it as an amalgamation of experiences processed via the five senses. In fact, I'd bet anyone who's been around children can attest to the fact that most kids don't do intuition in their early lives. Otherwise, we wouldn't have to teach them not to run with scissors, that the burner is too hot to touch (burnt hand teaches best, I always say), or that look of complete confusion when they do something that's completely counter-intuitive (if you have kids, you know exactly what I'm talking about).

c. Spiritual essence (Second level of validation)

Atheism will specifically deny any spiritual essence. This denial becomes part of the Atheist Statement of Faith, coming up.

Denial? If you mean 'some supernatural unseen derivative force manipulating my thoughts so I do the right thing', hell yes, I deny it. Got proof?

Here's where it starts reading like a Thomas Aquinas tract, with a few Jack Chick homilies tossed in:

Evolution is the Origin Story of Atheism. It is the Atheist’s ABSOLUTE Truth, unassailable, unquestionable cant; dogma. It is manipulated into forms for explaining not only the cosmos, life, and human origins, but also the origin of morality, and anything else that had an origin.

I'm still waiting for a better explanation: none is forthcoming. One-hundred-and-fifty odd years on, it stands the test of time, empiricism, and scientific inquiry.

b. Purpose of Life Story

Life is a random accident according to the absolutist dogma of Evolution. Atheism therefore sees absolutely no purpose to life beyond the perpetuation of one’s own genes, as natural selection occurs. So the sole purpose of life is genetic self perpetuation. Denial of this sole purpose leads to other paradoxes.

Balderdash. I've gone into this foolishness here - semantical games are so tiresome. Oh wait...here's a good quote from one of our 'high priests':  "Evolution has no long-term goal. There is no long-distance target, no final perfection to serve as a criterion for selection, although human vanity cherishes the absurd notion that our species is the final goal of evolution."

c. Value of Life Story

Again, life being a random accident according to absolutist Evolution cant, life has no value; there are no values in a randomly assembled world. The evolutionist claim of evolved morality is not accepted by many Atheists. Some claim that human value is in procreation; others claim that value is found only in the ability to produce. So life, by itself, has no inherent value, and eugenics can (and has) become a “legitimate” topic.

So I've pulverized the 'accident' theory, both semantically as well as philosophically: but apparently, we need some mysterious 'other' who is basically untouchable, doesn't talk to us, and we're supposed to have some 'relationship' with? Blogger, puh-lease. So make your own damn purpose. Also relying heavily on the pejorative term of 'eugenics': there's negative eugenics (as practiced by the Nazis), and transhumanism (positive) eugenics.

d. “Becoming” Story

The evolution of life to produce the evolutionist is the “becoming” story. There is nothing else to become, once one has naturally materialized, so to speak. However, “becoming” an Atheist is seen as total liberation from annoying moral restrictions, and restrictions of any kind including western, rational, non-contradictory thought. There is a thought that humans will evolve into something higher-ordered, becoming a race of super-humans. However there is absolutely no sign of such a genetic lineage so far.

I don't know where to begin with this. First up, the 'liberation' is from some obnoxious Iron age moral code that's an anachronism. Secondly, evolution doesn't progress in a straight line. 'Super-human'? Is he kidding? Read many X-men comics? I might refer the logorrheic author to the concept of telos.

e. Afterlife Story

With nothing else to become, once the spark of life has gone there is nothing left but the material fodder for worms (M.M.O’Hair).

Hey, I'm not a big fan of this, but reality is what it is. Unless of course he's channeling the afterlife through a Ouija board. Or, as Asimov put it so succinctly: "So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You'd better rearrange your beliefs, then. Because you certainly can't rearrange the universe."

2. Statements of Belief

a. Statement of Faith (Non-negotiable)

The dogma of Evolution is taken on 100% faith as follows; faith that there is no other possible position; faith that “science” will find all the answers; faith in the [irrational] connections drawn between supposed “ancestors”; faith in the supremacy of the mind of man.

Still waiting for an alternate explanation. Oh, whoops. Excuse me.

A Faith Statement might be as follows:

I have complete, non-negotiable FAITH in the following tenets:

· Faith that the supreme intelligence in the universe is me, embodied in my mind.

'Supreme intelligence'? Is he serious, folks? What's the criterion for 'supreme', anyways? Define intelligence, please.

· Faith that the appearances of design are false.

Look up the word pareidolia, please.

· Faith that the first life self-assembled from warm chemicals in goo.

Prove otherwise.

· Faith that the universe is a self-induced, random occurrence.

Prove it.

· Faith that a “multiverse” that we can’t see is a rationale for a random universe producing life (Anthropic principle is false).

String theory's all nice, but unprovable. See here for my take on that.

· Faith that my mind is an assembly of random mutations, with no actual purpose beyond survival of the fittest. (A Meat Machine). Even so, it is the supreme intelligence in the universe.

The mutations are random, but the rest of it's not. 'Survival of the fittest' is actually yet another anachronism.

· Faith that the brain and the mind are one thing, inseparable.

Umm...since a lobotomy can seriously alter my personality, this is just a homunculus - which is described by the dictionary of philosophy as "A small person. A bad idea in the philosophy of mind is to explain a person's agency, or intelligence, or experience, as if there were a smaller agent, or intelligent thing, or experiencing subject ‘inside the head’. But homuncular functionalism decomposes complex functions into simpler ones, thereby avoiding the obvious regress."

· Faith that there is no intelligence in DNA.

Again, define 'intelligence'.

· Faith that if I can’t sense it, it does not exist. (No metaphysical existence).

Duh, yeah. Argument from ignorance.

· Faith that empiricism is the one and only true path to all-encompassing Truth and Enlightenment.

Let's call it 'confidence', shall we? Is there some other method that works in a lab? I call this the 'argument from capitalization' - atheism, capital A, truth, capital T, etc.

· Faith in Evolution, which is unquestionable; it is non-negotiable truth. See “Heresy”, below.

Everything is questionable. Problem is, it's hard to separate the 'facts' from the 'truth' (as demonstrated in my earlier definition).

· Faith that, because Evolution is non-negotiable truth, life has no meaning.

Covered this already.

· Faith that after death there are only worms.

It's fact. I don't like it. But my preferences don't change the matter.

Here's where it gets a little nutty:

b. Statement of Ethos

Anyone familiar with Jeffrey Dahmer, Madelyn Murray O’Hair, or Peter Singer will realize that the ethical code of Atheism is “Any Code I Desire” (A.C.I.D.) In fact any code that benefits me, right now, at this very moment. The code is total Narcissism.

In my book, anyone who invokes Dahmer is out the window. Here's a clown who drilled holes into kidnap victim's heads to turn them into love slaves, fer cryin' out loud. And when feet are held to the fire, every sociopath blames something in society. And for pity's sake, he was raised in a fundamentalist family. At 14, he was killing small animals and putting their heads on stakes. If anything, he was NOT THE POSTER CHILD for religious upbringing.

The rhetoric that follows is just ludicrous:

c. Statement of Heresy

The fight for the minds of school children is in fact a battle to eliminate heresy from the religious world of Atheism by means of governmentally-enforced installation of the Sacred Text of absolutist Darwinism into the schools. Referral to a second Godellian level of validation (spirituality) is heresy to the Atheist, who will take it as a serious affront to the Atheist Faith. So the exclusive installation of the sacred Precepts of absolutist Darwinism into the minds of children is imperative.

Yeah, whatever this guy claims to be, a 'friend to atheism' is obviously a lie. Let's disregard the mountains of forensic evidence: let's discount the repeatable, testable hypotheses implemented in the process: let's dispute every niggling detail and dismiss everything in toto. It's all a big conspiracy drafted up by the evilutionists (bu-hu-hahahahaha!) to pollute our childrens' precious bodily fluids! (It's hard not to descend into mockery - this guy's just rife with so...much..cognitive...dissonance.)

d. Statement of the Sacrosanct

Naturalism, and Materialism are sacred Beliefs. Empiricism and Forensics are the Sacred Rituals. Absolutist Evolution is Sacred Truth, unquestionable and therefore sacred dogma.

My irony meter's in the shop, or it'd explode right about now.

e. Statement of Evangelism

Evangelism is highly organized and fatly funded; the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have been government funded to the tune of millions. Evangelism is done primarily by threat, just as is Wahabi Islam; it is a form of domestic terrorism. A heretic is threatened with financial ruin by litigation by the fattened Atheist Evangelists. However, indoctrination is already state-imposed in many public school systems. The next generation is under constant evangelistic siege.

Somebody's been taking WorldNutDaily way too seriously. Comparing atheists to terrorists now? The mind boggles. Wonder if he votes Democrat? I'd bet the rent not.

f. Statement of Evil

As with any cult, evil is seen everywhere in the form of other religious faiths. In a stunning twist of logic, the purveyors of the ethical code that protects the Atheist (Christianity, the Bible and the Ten Commandments) are deemed evil. And any attack on the Sacred Precepts of Absolutist Darwinism are evil. The credo is that “science is not to be corrupted by the inroads of ’religion’ in the classroom”. So the denial of the next Godel level and the internal Type 2 (b) paradox are institutionalized.

Oh, so now we're the thought police? Is this guy serious? Does he poke a stick under a rock, and find a conspiracy there?

4. Hierarchy

a. High Priests

The celebrity scientists and philosophers clearly are the high priests of Atheism: Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Stephen J. Gould, Bertrand Russell, Theodore Dobzhansky, Carl Sagan, celebrities all. In politics, Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Mao. In the media, pick a channel; in Hollywood, pick a movie star; in the U.S. Senate, pick a Kennedy or a Clinton.

Oh, wow. Just, wow. High priests? The invidious 'celebrities' are in on it too? And of course, he plays the 'evil atheist dictator' card. Hitler, an atheist? The guy who banned books on evolution? The same guy who said,

"For this, to be sure, from the child's primer down to the last newspaper, every theater and every movie house, every advertising pillar and every billboard, must be pressed into the service of this one great mission, until the timorous prayer of our present parlor patriots: 'Lord, make us free!' is transformed in the brain of the smallest boy into the burning plea: 'Almighty God, bless our arms when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!"
- Adolf Hitler's prayer, Mein Kampf, Vol. 2 Chapter 13"

This guilt by association crap is getting staler by the minute.

b. Teachers, evangelizers

The tool of Evolution, plus the duality of modern secularism has made most school teachers into evangelists for Atheism. The media of all types is also secularly dualist, and promotes not only Evolution, but all forms of corrupted thought that contributes to secularization.

Yeah, try telling Ken Miller that. Or Francis Collins. This little ditty should put the kibosh on this garbage. Oh, wait...they're in on it too!

c. Becomers

Every young person on the way to college is a potential “becomer” for the Atheist evangelist to victimize. In fact, the inroads into lower schools made by Planned Parenthood operatives has made even first graders into to potential candidates to victimize.

So now Planned Parenthood is recruiting kids? Holy shit, we're everywhere! Plotting the demise of Western Civilization! (He said, pulling at his handlebar mustache, while tying the damsel in distress to a railroad track.) How absolutely vaudevillian.

5. Sacred Legacies

a. Texts, documents, unquestionable absolute truths.

The theory of Evolution, being the only hope for the Atheist, is the holiest of absolute, unquestionable truths. In fact, by way of contradiction and paradox, the completely relativistic universe of the Atheist is interrupted by one Holy, Absolute, Unquestionable, Unassailable Truth: Evolution.

Still waiting for an alternative that doesn't espouse exogenesis, or 'goddidit'.

Without Evolution, the Atheist has no logic at all because everything else in the Atheist world is relative; only Evolution is Absolute Truth. With Evolution, the Atheist need only deny a few details here and there, such as in Darwin’s Dodge, and Darwin’s Horrid Doubt, along with the other Darwinian falsifications (Coming up in the Chapter on Evolution). Then all the rest of life is free of all restrictions.

So we're all moral relativists? I've actually dismissed this as a cheap generalization: apparently I'm not the only one. And claiming that moral relativists are vested in an 'absolute truth' (I'll skip the capitalization: it's quite obnoxious) is such an oxymoron, it crosses the eyes.

So Atheism satisfies the criteria for religion-hood. In fact it’s a better fit than some other religions, such as Buddhism. Atheism is the religion of self, of narcissism.

Mixing and matching - this guy's a theist, just from these babblings alone.

So later on, this fella goes on to say the following:

Catch #1: Moral Honesty Benchmark:

An Atheist who claims to be morally honest is making that claim in a personal environment where there are no absolute morals (premise (c)), and thus no reliable benchmark. So without a moral benchmark to measure honesty, he is not honest in his claim to be so. Such a benchmark would have to be determined at higher Godel level to be valid; a higher level would be outside the environment of the Atheist’s supreme mind, and thus not recognized by the Atheist. However if he admits dishonesty, he is still without a benchmark to measure it, and the admission of dishonesty is dishonest. So he is caught in a paradox of perpetual dishonesty, Type 2 (b).

Catch #2: Intellectual Honesty:

If an atheist is to claim intellectual honesty, then he must admit that he cannot be morally honest in the absence of a benchmark for measuring moral honesty. But he cannot, without being caught in the previous paradox, producing another paradox of Type 1.

Catch #3: Co-opting Benchmarks:

If, on the other hand, the atheist claims moral honesty based on cultural (external, non-Atheist) standards for honesty, then he has to admit that he is co-opting benchmarks that are outside his beliefs, such as Judeo-Christian ethics. This is, of course, dishonest. (Especially when taking some ethical precepts, while rejecting others in order to favor certain predilections such as homosexuality, sexual paganism and abortion, etc). He is co-opting another Godel level, which he has already rejected. This contradiction produces a paradox of Type 1, and Type 2 (b).

Catch #4: Creating Benchmarks:

When making up benchmarks, or claiming that they evolved, the Atheist is confirming that there are no absolute benchmarks. Again claiming any kind of honesty without a firm benchmark is dishonest.

Thus, no matter which way it is turned, the sphere of atheism reflects an image of dishonesty, either intellectual, moral or both.

Therefore, a claim of honesty, either moral or intellectual, by an Atheist is a logical paradox, type 1 and type 2(b).

Didja catch all that? In summation: all atheists are liars. Where'd he purchase this thing, at the Paradoxical Pretzel shop? I call trilemma! I mean, this bozo invokes Gödel, famous for his incompleteness theorems? Does he tie this into that nonsense about the Uncaused Cause? (I haven't dug around for it, truthfully, because there's only so much casuistry I can stomach, folks.)

Let's tick the fallacies off:

The Frozen Abstraction (atheism as a religion), False cause (atheism is dishonest, immoral, based on the weak premise that evolution is completely wrong) better known as post hoc ergo propter hoc, Weak analogy (argument from design), Equivocation (Truth AND Existence, capitalized), the Tu quoque, oh hell, I could go on for days, but if we were to actually never use any fallacy whatsoever, chances are pretty good there'd be no dialogues at all.

Icing on the cake time, troops:

So let's backtrack a bit: remember this, at the beginning?

As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions.

So, culling the aforementioned quote and synchronizing it with the preceding blockquoted paragraph, I have this to ask:

You were a dishonest, immoral A-theist for forty years, by your own words. Why should we believe you now? Do spare us the 'mine eyes have seen the light!' bit.

Final amateur armchair psychologist diagnosis - all hail, the Pretender! I for one am getting more than a little tired of these folks who swing full tilt from one extreme to the next, devoid of the self-awareness that this is likely a bi-polar disorder, rather than a moment of extreme enlightenment.

I'm all for someone changing their minds, and explaining it duly. But this bit of drivel is enough to cross the eyes and make the knees all wobbly.

Hope you enjoyed this vaudevillian bit of Sock Puppet Theater. Can't say that I did.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Constantly Evolving...The Year In Review, Part Deus

My dear friend Stardust tagged me with this meme, and I am now getting around to it (Yeesh, nearly four months...I'm too laconic for my own damn good sometimes).

This is Year Two, Anno Dominatrix, In The Year Of Our Pain (I of course am joking - submission's never been my thing. So some of you can put away the dog collars, whips and bowls. Hehehehe).

I've gone into my 'exegesis' here, here and here, outlining my personal journey to this monumental decision that runs contrary to the consensus in this country. As with any new road, there are some elements of discomfort, nervousness, isolation.

1. I started googling on atheism, and found the Nogodblog. I threw in my 2¢ worth in (which thread? I don't quite recall), and a blogger there (name of Heathenz) told me my opinion was worth a whole lot more.

I began with my first post on December 24th, 2005, titled OF BLACK EYES, BASTARD CHILDREN, AND BAD KARMA - where I raged against double standards, advised my readers against the adoption of such, etc, etc, et al.

2. I began as most atheists do: examining core concepts of exegesis (AKA biblical higher criticism) as well as the archeological aspects. I still do this on occasion.

3. Being an avid fan of human nature, I also began examining the more prevalent behavior patterns among the faithful. Augustine's injunction of "Never judge a philosophy by its abuse" is a load of crap from where I sit - by that logic, we should play nicey-nice with the KKK or the freakin' Nazis. How else ARE we to judge it then?

4. I began branching out from there - quickly becoming a champion (or at least a voice in the clarion call) for gay rights, Original Intent, abortion, both defending and bashing Islam (not to mention Scientology, Mor(m)onology and various other religions), defending atheism (I'd link some more, but there's a nice column on your left outlining all my labels), smacking creationism, defending evolution, and in general, kvetching about bullshit in general. Walking this path, I've managed to upgrade my knowledge on scientific matters to a great degree (without getting a degree - I'm an autodidact in these matters).

5. By March of 2007, I was invited by Stardust to join the ranks of the Gifsters -and it's confession time. I began hanging about there somewhere in late 2006, and I felt a twinge of jealousy that I'd not been invited on. I kept my peace on that subject - I never asked, not once. Build on that as you like, or just ask. In the meantime, I'd begun challenging believers right and left. To the date of this writing, nobody's come to bat on any of the subjects I've challenged them on. Hell, I've even gone after Chuckles Ignoris. I've received some emails - one from this bozo about this post - I was told he'd 'pray' for me, and I replied with the pat, "I'll do the thinking for the both of us". The other one was this extremely polite Muslim, who'd promised to get back to me on these three posts back in September. He's redirected me here - it's fairly ridiculous (more on this soon!).

It's gotten a wee bit frenzied lately, what with the job and all. So much so, that I'm not around at my hang-outs as much, I post once a week (cross posting at GifS on Sundays), whereas I used to do 3-5 posts a week, and for those of you who have received no comments in response to your own - multiple and profuse apologies. Lately, it seems that I've said my peace, and if you comment during the week, I'm usually tuckered out by the time I get home (around sevenish or so), so I've been an exceptionally poor host.

I average somewhere between 50-100 visitors a day, but commentary has been sparse (or non-existent).

As for anti-atheist emails, I receive none. Seriously. No one's tried to convert me, no drooling Jukes and Kalikaks (although that particular study's been deflated - I can't use that obscure, esoteric phrase ever again) threatening me with hellfire or raised fists.

I'm still ambivalent about being pleased or nonplussed by that.

Be that as it may, wish me a happy bloggo-versary. And my thanks to the few, the proud, the readers of this tiny crest on the oceans of the blogosphere.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Starting To Look A Lot Like...Nothing?

Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!

Bizarro-atheistxmasIt's that time of year again - and if you're anything like me, you probably have a few Xmas jingles doing a dance step inside your head (due to the incessant playing of said tunes on the radio and boob tube).

I get a tad maudlin this time o' year, probably due to the decades of conditioning and fond childhood memories. So humor an old man, willya?

I was about eight years old, when I discovered there wasn't a Santa Claus. I stayed up late, and snuck out quiet as a mouse (thinkin' I was the only thing stirring, to paraphrase the rhyme), hoping to catch old Kris Kringle in flagrante delicto as it were, and with my little eye, I did spy...my folks assembling our presents.

That next morning, I demanded the truth. My folks fum-fahed, and finally admitted - there was no Santa Claus!

Delighted by my discovery, I (almost) immediately divulged this bit of info to my closest friend Greg, who lived across the street from me...and was rewarded with a bloody nose. My first foray with truth versus fantasy was greeted with fists. A harsh lesson, indeed.

So here I am, some forty-odd years later, a little smarter, somewhat more mature, and just a bit better at dodging the odd punch.

I still celebrate it. Yes, it's hard to be a major buzzkill this time of year, after years of celebrating a family tradition. (Good thing I haven't joined the alleged 'War on Christmas'.) Let's face it - it's a good excuse to take some time off, rub shoulders with those annoying folks you call relatives, and maybe come away with something other than a hangover. I confess, I rather like Xmas. Just strip away all the religious nonsense, please.

And of course, the Grinches come out in droves, ranting their usual nonsense about our cultural traditions (hey, traditions change, most notably along with the increasing diversity of a country), carrying on in the style of your standard conspiracy wackjob, and altogether or separately, making complete and utter asses of themselves.

Maybe no one's noticed, but the Huffington Post has declared the 'War is over! (Imagine me snickering into my palm like Muttley.)

Somehow, the phrase 'wag the dog' springs readily to mind.

I'm all for renaming it Winterval - this exclusivist attitude on the part of the religious is irksome, to say the least. We hear this all year round, don't we? It's our country, it's our gwad, it's mine, mine, mine, you can't have it, let alone complain or criticize it.

"Peace on earth, good will towards man" - when exactly did the escape clause get worked into that? (Another symptom of how deeply religion's entrenched in our culture - I can pretty much sing the lyrics to that nod to the 'on high'. Blecch! 'Mercy mild' my homesick ass.)

Anyways, y'all have a wicked Winterval, y'hear?


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deifying The Disabled - How Religion Slips Mental Illness Under The Radar

Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!mentalillness

"Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics go and live in them. Psychologists charge rent." - Unknown.

Right on the heels of my prior post, more bedlam erupted in the form of a lone shooter in Colorado. Another senseless tragedy.

Stardust pointed out rightly, here, that there was an immense silence from on high - no intervention (outside the perceived nonsense that survival of this, or any incident, is indicative of such), no parting of the heavens, no blinding light, no angels stepping in, in short, no miracles whatsoever. Just another sloppy sentence in the book of humanity's history.

I'm not a big fan of the idea that religion impels folks to commit unspeakable acts, or enact tragedies. I'm of the mind that these incidents would've occurred regardless of epistemology.

My main peeve, is that obviously deficient world-view that religion improves people, when in fact, all one has to do is scan the news feeds (or even historical events) to put the lie to that sentence.

Augustine is quoted as saying, "Never judge a philosophy by its abuse." Which, as far as I'm concerned, is an unmitigated load of crap. How else are we supposed to judge it then? One may as well argue that every system has its good points, regardless.

My other major issue, is that a system based on the supernatural tends to overlook obvious symptoms of mental illness. If a hereafterian meets with someone who claims to have visions (read: hallucinations), has glossolalia (read: blathers gibberish) or hears voices (read: schizophrenia), and overall makes claims to have some sort of alternate reality that's agreeable to the listener, the possibility that the exponent of these 'worldviews' is unhinged is (usually) glossed over.

Again, history is rife with these examples. Indeed, one has only to scan any religious texts to find evidence where lunatics were not only given a free hand, they were actually applauded for misconduct (I'd link to a few examples, say like this little ditty, or perchance this one, but knowing this readership, well over a hundred such instances will get trotted out anyways).

Time to trot out a bit of objectivity:

I have stipulated elsewhere, that I used to hear 'voices'. It's actually fairly common in most folks. Despite its commonality though, there's a stigma attached. It tends to isolate people. Left to our own devices, we then have the habit of rationalizing why we are the sole recipient of these auditory hallucinations. There's even a movement for those folks (I'm voice-free now - so I'm on the outside looking in).

And, in fact, hallucinations of many varieties are common among the rational and irrational alike.

So there doesn't seem to be any really clear-cut definition as to what signifies mental illness - I've always maintained that everyone is something of a 'lunatic', there are simply degrees of acceptability.

So when does it become unacceptable? How about here? (Note the religious language - 'haunted by demons' is so much more fraught with romantic meaning than being a squalid crazy.) How about this little event? Or this one?

In my humble (amateur) opinion, I think that the issue rolls around the ability to anchor oneself to reality. It is one thing to daydream, to have fantasies (large and small) that harm no one, it is another thing to live in accordance with those fantasies, and it is entirely something else again to force them on others.

Repeating myself: it is harm inferred and harm incurred that is the yardstick we use. In the case of Murray, we see that, even though he was a few shades more irrational than the crowd he sought refuge with, his symptoms match some of those we'd find in any ascetic fanatic living in the desert.

So, nutshelling it:

There are numerous examples that illustrate that as a species, we see, hear, touch, taste, and even smell something illusory - and on a small scale, this is somewhat acceptable (it kind of has to be).

On the broader scale; religion tends to sanctify the borderline lunacy, and throw roses at the chemical imbalances, proclaiming a deus ex machina - that is, until the marginal mental illness blossoms into something of a nepenthes rajah writ large and prone to cannibalism.

And the sheep wander about with that nonplussed look on their faces, because no one saw it coming. After all, they prattled enough to the unanswering sky, didn't they? Their shepherd certainly loses enough lambs, does he not?

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Sunday, December 09, 2007



"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers." - Grossman's Law

Today's episode of Scapegoat Theater (yet another holdover anachronism from that most loathsome of tomes, the wholly bibble) features that most casuistic of mental processes - the easy answer to complex social problems.

Our first contestant is Denyse O'Leary - who claims that Social Darwinism motivated the Jokela school shootings.

The best counterpunch is this post from the Panda's Thumb.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

Our next contestant is our old, dear friend, Ken Ham, who blames the Virginia Tech shootings (along with the Columbine killings) on the stripping of God from the science classes.

Since any of these romantic, 'metaphysical' quibblings are untestable, unfalsifiable, and lacking in solid evidence, they have no place in a lab, let alone in a classroom. Stick to philosophy courses.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

The third contestant is Dinesh D'Souza, who claims that evolution is responsible for the aforementioned shootings:

“For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho’s shooting of all those people can be understood in this way–molecules acting upon molecules.”

Not even going to go into length (or link) on how retarded that statement is.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

Fourth up, we actually have the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (actually, his father) claiming that 'atheistic beliefs' cut Jeffrey free from any restraints.

What, pray tell, kept Gilles de Rais from going apeshit crazy? Richard Ramirez was of another variety, but still, religious. "I'll see you in Disneyland," was his retort to getting a death sentence.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

Next up, Lee Strobel tells of the debunking of the Miller-Urey experiment that 'led him into atheism'.

Clearly, Strobel hasn't a clue as to the differences between evolution and abiogenesis. Also, Talkorigins addresses the Miller-Urey experiment adequately. One might note, that unless Herr Strobel was using a bit of hyperbole, one scientific venture does not an epistemology make.

Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

The list goes on, but I'll top it off with a real charmer -  contestant number six is good old Chuck Colson, who in a tirade of tolerance, made this statement:

"This is a virulent strain of atheism which seeks to destroy our belief system," Colson said.

Atheism as a disease? How on earth would he eradicate it (if hypothetically this were so)? What happens next, if Chuckles gets his way? Contextually speaking, a disease infers a cure, does it not? Would he enforce some sort of atheist vaccine? Repeal the First Amendment? Of course, Chuckles isn't a big fan of the SOCAS (it's uni-directional, dontcha know?).

It's getting ridiculous. No, wait, it already IS ridiculous. Blaming all of societies ills and woes on one particular source without taking in the complex equations that factor into that laundry list falls under Grossman's law (cited above). This sounds suspiciously along these lines:

"The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation… until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern Country." - Woodrow Wilson

But I digress...Thbbbt! Wrong answer.

I'd hand out consolation prizes (booby prizes in this case), but rewarding stupidity is enabling it.

If I were a coward, I'd shut up about it, and become one of those 'casual secularists' the religious are always prattling about.

But I'm not, so I won't. I'll say it loud and proud: I don't believe. And I have good reasons not to. Multiple good reasons, in fact.

If that makes me a militant atheist, so be it. (And folks wonder why we're so loud and pissed off. Yeesh, get a clue, willya?)

This is the Apostate, signing off.



Thursday, December 06, 2007

So The Holidays Are Here Again...

 Hi y'all - on a rainy day, home sick (actually had dental surgery done - YUM! Dental pain being a great argument for atheism and/or dystheism), thought I'd update my gentle readers as to what I've been up to.

The scary individual to your right is none other than your humble deponent himself, all duded-up for Halloween. The tentative tri-title for this is:

A. Michael Jackson's confusion,
B. Ebony and Ivory, or
C. The Mime From Hell

Pick one that suits your fancy. Interpretation is such a tricksy matter.

I went to the Google Halloween bash for a few hours, and it was a lotta fun. I wish I had some pictures - there were some thoroughly AWESOME costumes - including the Burger King, and assorted others too numerous to go into here. My favorite was a young gal who dressed herself up in what looked like a brown gumdrop, with a halo and angel's wings, and announced on stage (yes, there was a long line-up at the Googleplex), that she was 'Holy Shit!'

My Thanksgiving holiday went pretty good - we began digging in, someone insisted on doing a prayer, and my little sister announced to all and sundry that I wasn't to be included - and they went ahead with a Cafe Christian homily ('Gwad is good, Gwad is great, thank you for the food we eat, amen!'), while I kept slathering food on my plate.

Musta gained 10 pounds and shaved a decade off my life, what with the rich food.

For those of you who are still interested in what I look like, the following videos are of me, doing sections from my workout, in a local park.

Though truthfully, I thought I was a little better at it than these videos show. My weaponry sets are kinda new: my hand sets/forms are miles better (at least I think so).


Straight sword:

Yes, I do indeed wave these things about in public parks, including doing my spear/staff form and a fan form, not to mention my Yang, Chen, and Fu style Tai Chi forms. Really, what good is an art form, if there's no one about to appreciate it?
Anyways, enjoy.

Hope you're having a wicked Winterval.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Allegories Gone Wild - And The Walls, They Came A-Tumbling Down...Or Did They?

Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!

(Or, how some bad construction turned into a fairy tale)jericho20

When the walls
Come tumblin down
When the walls
Come crumblin, crumblin
When the walls come
Tumblin, tumblin down
- Crumblin' Down, John Mellencamp

A quote from McDowell's Evidence That Demands A Verdict kept circling in my mind lately. This one:

"It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever contravened a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible's almost incredibly correct historical memory" (Dr. Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert [New York, Grove, 1960], p. 31).

I went searching, and found these as well:

"Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the Bible, but always confirms and verifies the facts of the biblical record." - Dr. J. O. Kinnaman.

(I couldn't find much dirt on the first or the following gent, this little piece really outlines what a wack-a-doodly-o Herr Kinnaman was.)

Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, "After forty-five years of scholarly research in biblical textual studies and in language study, I have come now to the conviction that no man knows enough to assail the truthfulness of the Old Testament. When there is sufficient documentary evidence to make an investigation, the statement of the Bible, in the original text, has stood the test" (Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, Speaker's Source Book, p. 391).

Stood the test? 'Almost incredibly correct historical memory'? Not only do we know that indeed, the Great Deluge never occurred, the Tower of Babel was an utter fabrication, and the Exodus was likely the expulsion of the Hyksos (who were actually running the show, not the abject slaves they were painted to be), a great many of the alleged 'historical events' that occurred in the benign Necronomicon were either

A. Altered, or
B. Not jotted down properly at all.

Case in point: Jericho.

Conservapedia actually says this:

At the moment there is no consensus in the archaeological community on when or how Jericho was destroyed.

However, the different conclusions are not over whether evidence was found that matched the biblical description, but over the timing.

There's nothing quite like...understatement.

The answers.com entry has this to say:

A destruction of Jericho's walls dates archaeologically to around 1550 BC in the 16th century BC at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, by a siege or an earthquake in the context of a burn layer, called City IV destruction. Opinions differ as to whether they are the walls referred to in the Bible. According to one biblical chronology, the Israelites destroyed Jericho after its walls fell out around 1407 BC: the end of the 15th century. Originally, John Garstang's excavation in the 1930s dated Jericho's destruction to around 1400 BC, in confirmation, but like much early biblical archaeology, his work became criticised for using the Bible to interpret the evidence rather than letting the facts on the ground draw their own conclusions. Kathleen Kenyon's excavation in the 1950s redated it to around 1550 BC, a date that most archaeologists support. In 1990, Bryant Wood critiqued Kenyon's work after her field notes became fully available. Observing ambiguities and relying on the only available carbon dating of the burn layer, which yielded a date of 1410 BC plus or minus 40 years, Wood dated the destruction to this carbon dating, confirming Garstang and the biblical chronology. Unfortunately, this carbon date was itself the result of faulty calibration. In 1995, Hendrik J. Bruins and Johannes van der Plicht used high-precision radiocarbon dating for eighteen samples from Jericho, including six samples of charred cereal grains from the burn layer, and overall dated the destruction to an average 1562 BC plus or minus 38 years. Kenyon's date of around 1550 BC is widely accepted based on this methodology of dating. Notably, many other Canaanite cities were destroyed around this time.

If the dates of certain schools of archaeology are to be accepted, then scholars who link these walls to the biblical account must explain how the Israelites arrived around 1550 BC but settled four centuries later and devise a new biblical chronology that corresponds. The current opinion of many archaeologists is in stark contradiction to the biblical account.

The Wikipedia entry on Biblical Criticism (the neutrality of the entire entry is disputed, gee, what a frelling surprise) has this to say:

The account of Joshua has more difficulty vis-a-vis the archaeological record, since Jericho and other settlements do not show signs of violent disruption in the time period required for the Israelite invasion (However, the Bible tells of the rebuilding and population of Jericho, among others destroyed by the Israelites). Neither does there appear to be any systematic destruction of cities, but instead only independent events occurring at significantly different times, more in agreement with events presented in the Book of Judges.

(Emphases mine.)

This wholly bibble is just rife with so many writhing contradictions, it's just staggering that anyone could take the bleeding thing seriously. As if it's not bad enough the adherents of said Iron Age tome seem to be incapable of ironing out their differences about what the flipping thing says (and 2000 years of constantly arguing over it says all you really need to know how farcical the whole brouhaha is), the raging historical inconsistencies are yet another nail in the coffin of this dying, blind shambling giant.

Which of course, prompts the outcry, "This is all outta context!" (Christlation: 'The bibble doesn't say what it says, it says this [insert allegorical dance step of choice here].")

I think the word I'm searching for, is Pshaw!

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pity The Poor Palestinians...Why, Exactly?


Cross posted at God's For Suckers!

Time to stir the hornet's nest, it seems.

One of the items that set my teeth on edge, is this humongous blind spot leftist atheists have in regards the Palestinians.

I know, I know - I've gone on at length about this topic. Follow the link, please...while people do learn from repetition, there's only so many times I can parrot the actual facts before I'm ready to put a fist through a wall in frustration.

And this - well, I confess I start seeing red when I hear/read this egregious horseshit:

Commodifying Honor in Female Sexuality: Honor Killings in Palestine

The family constitutes the fundamental building-block of Palestinian society. Family status is largely dependent upon its honor, much of which is determined by the respectability of its daughters, who can damage it irreparably by the perceived misuse of their sexuality

Every year, hundreds of women and girls are murdered in the Middle East by male family members. The honor killing-the execution of a female family member for perceived misuse of her sexuality-is a thorny social and political issue. Palestinian activists campaigning for equality find it difficult to stop the killings altogether. Legitimacy for such murders stems from a complex code of honor ingrained in the consciousness of some sectors of Palestinian society.

'Thorny issue' my homesick ass. Yeah, a real progressive society, I daresay. (To give credit where it's due, there are Pali's who are actively working to change this.)

Does this stem from any religious proclivities? Apparently so:

The Kurds of Turkey and Iraq who practice honor killings are not Arabs, nor are the predominantly Pashtun peoples of Afghanistan who engage in the practice. If honor-killing is a survival of an Arab, pre-Islamic custom, then it has been exported to Kurdish peoples and those in Afghanistan and the Indian sub-continent, a "fellow-traveler" during the early (pre-Ottoman) historical spread of Islam. Therefore, I do not buy into the argument that honor-killings have nothing to do with Islam. They are a living part of its history. Adultery, according to Sharia principles, is punishable by death, and most honor-killings involve suspected adultery. Apostasy is also, according to some Islamic schools of thought, punishable by death.

Of course, nothing is quite monochromatic, as this link shows there are varying degrees of Sharia law in different countries.

Honor killings are a barbaric, archaic holdover from earlier traditions. Note also, that the Palestinian Authority still doesn't prosecute, as this is a holdover from when the Jordanians ruled the Gaza Strip, the last vestige of which was in 1988, via a law that is nearly 50 years old.

Back to this link:

In 2005 in Israel there were 15 recorded honor killings, with three of these taking place in the municipality of Ramle. Palestinians have engaged in savage honor killings, and with the rise of the Islamist group Hamas, there may be a rise in such murders. In April 2005, a young woman was killed for the "crime" of being with her fiancé in the Gaza 3 strip. Her killers were said to be Hamas' morality police, the Anti-Corruption Unit. Twenty-two year old Yusra al-Azzami was in a car with her fiancé, and was shot from a vehicle which contained five masked men. After Yusra was shot, her dead body was dragged from the car and beaten with iron bars. Later, the fiancé and (her) sister were also beaten.
In the Palestinian territories, there has been an increase in honor killings. Last month a 40-page report was compiled by Ohaila Shomar of women's rights group SAWA. Until 2004, there were 10 to 12 murders of women each year in Palestinian territories. Over the past three years, there have been 48 murders of females aged from 12 to 85 years old. Of these cases, 32 have been honor killings. The Times states that last year, 17 Palestinian women were honor victims. 12 were killed in the Gaza Strip and 5 were killed in the West Bank.

For more gut-wrenching facts:

The reasoning behind honor killings is alien to the Western mind. Though not recent, the case of Amira Abu Hanhan Qaoud, a mother of nine who killed her teenaged daughter Rofayda on January 27, 2002 shows a callousness that shocks. Rofayda had been raped by her two elder brothers in their shared bedroom in their Ramallah home.
She became pregnant
. On December 23, 2002, Rofayda gave birth to a baby boy at a women's shelter in Bethlehem. She returned to the family's three bedroom home in the suburb of Abu Qash. The family and village heads signed a promise that they would not harm the teenager. The two brothers were jailed.
Amira Qaoud did not keep her promise. She bought razor blades, and ordered her daughter to slash her own wrists. When Rofayda refused, her mother smothered her with a plastic bag, slashed the girl's wrists and hit her with a wooden stick. The killing took twenty minutes. Amira Qaoud said: "She killed me before I killed her. I had to protect my children. This is the only way I could protect my family's honor." Her nine year old daughter Fatima echoed her sentiments, saying: "My mother did this because she does not want us to be punished by people. I love my mother much more now than before."
In Palestinian territories, a murder is regarded as less serious if it is an honor killing, and thus honor killers receive from six to twelve months' jail. This stems from Jordanian legislation from 1960. Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code affirms that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery with another, and he kills, wounds or injures one or both of them, is exempt from any penalty...he who discovers his wife, or one of his female ascendants or descendants or sisters with another in an unlawful bed and he kills, wounds or injures one or both of them, benefits from a reduction of penalty." In addition to this, Article 98 of the Penal Code allows a educed sentence if a perpetrator kills in a "fit of fury".

Even though the FSM (geez, I long for the days when the only acronyms we knew were NFL and NBA, but oh well) is a fairly heavy Christian apologetics site, this doesn't negate the facts. Here's yet another report from the BBC:

She was last seen at half past two on a Saturday afternoon looking down from a window in her family's apartment.

They live on a main road, in a building that houses an ice-cream shop. Outside a religious procession was making its way through the streets.

Someone walking in that procession, who knew her face and her troubles, glanced up and saw her.

Less than two hours later, she was dead - her skull crushed - reportedly by blows from an iron bar.

Her name was Faten. She was 22-years-old, a Palestinian Christian from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

After her lifeless body was found, her father and an aunt were taken into custody.

So let's take inventory:

We have a group here (mostly Arab Muslims, not restricted to Palestine) that

A. treats women like property (read: shit), and
B. teaches their children to not only hate the 'invaders', but also that it's good to fucking blow them up.

And 'fess up, folks: if this were any other religious group, the bunch of Pali apologists among you would be hollering, nay, bellowing your lungs out, for something resembling justice, wouldn't you? Demanding fist-in-palm that some sort of reforms be set in place, some form of gob-damned education be instituted, some mechanisms be put in place to halt this hideous activity?

Do please, spare me all the old vacuous homilies: the 'this is all Israel's fault!' folderol, the Palis are responding to invaders of their home turf (who had it first, anyways? What's the statute of limitations on that sorta thing?), the long-winded arguments over land ownership (I, for one, don't buy the 'empty land' argument of the Zionists), or the romantic painting of Palestinians' plight as underdogs.

It's a paintbrush dipped in blood, for one.

Oh, and do please spare me the rubbish that I'm intimating that Israel's above reproach, because it's not. Just about every government on earth is in need (dire or otherwise) of serious reform. There are varying degrees of lunacy to be found in any ruling body: take as your yardstick, the current events of the situation, measure, and cut accordingly.

So, in a nutshell: I'm going to withhold any sympathy, until these loons actually get their shit together, stop begging Allah (peanut butter and jelly be upon him) for an intercession that'll never come, and actually alter their approach (because let's face facts, folks: it's going onwards of about 60 years of butting heads against brick walls, and there's a lotta spilled brain matter, and little in the way of erosion of said wall) that somewhat resembles something other than an Iron age anachronistic behavior pattern.

Choose the lesser of two evils, I always say: choose wisely.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

When The Religious Rule The Religious - Marriage Is Going To The Dogs


Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!

I was reading some news off my newsfeeds for the BBC, which put me in mind of this quote, circa 2005, by one 'Dr.' Jerry Sutton:

"The most religious nation in the world is India, the most irreligious nation in the world is Sweden. We are a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes."

In fact, the simile has multiple parallels for both countries (India and the US). While their government borrowed heavily from the British, the constitution is the power, not the parliament (that's reversed in Britain). The term 'secularism' was inserted via a Constitutional amendment in 1976. As noted in the entry, the 'freedom of religion' has some serious consequences:

Left-wing critics note that the right to change one's religion is restricted in a handful of states. While no state has ever banned conversions altogether, and while most anti-conversion laws are directed only at "fraudulent" conversions obtained through bribery, fraud, or coercion, these laws may have been implemented unfairly. Furthermore, these critics note that religious violence is a serious problem in India, as reflected in events such as the 2002 Gujarat Violence. Right-wing critics note that Muslims, Hindus, and Christians have their own separate civil codes-and that while the Hindu code has been ' Westernized," no efforts have been made to reform Muslim civil law. They also note controversial efforts to "appease" Muslims through actions such as subsidizing pilgrimages to Mecca-though even Hindu pilgrims have certain benefits.

What really prompted that quote from 2005, was this entry - Man 'marries' dog to beat curse

An Indian man has "married" a female dog, hoping the move will help atone for stoning two other dogs to death.

P Selvakumar, 33, said he had been cursed since the killings, suffering paralysis and a loss of hearing.

Judging by the following paragraphs, I'd say he's been 'cursed' by some severe psychosis.

The wedding took place at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu state. The "bride" wore an orange sari with a flower garland and was fed a bun to celebrate.

Superstitious people in rural India sometimes organise weddings to animals in the hope of warding off curses.

Feel free to lug this out next time some mook pulls the 'same sex marriage will lead to people marrying their poodle and couch' gambit. After all, homosexuality is illegal in India.

'Tried every cure'

Crowds cheered the newly-weds at the end of the ceremony in Sivaganga district, about 50km (30 miles) east of the city of Madurai.

The "bride", who is called Selvi, was led to the temple in Manamudurai wearing a sari before vows were exchanged in a traditional Hindu ceremony.

What did Selvi do? Bark them out, or howl them?

A relative of the groom who attended the wedding said he hoped Mr Selvakumar would now be cured.

"Fifteen years back Selvakumar was physically fit. But, once he attacked a pair of dogs and thereafter Kumar could not move his limbs freely," the relative, Ramu, told the BBC.

Yeah, it couldn't be the lack of medical treatment in a 3rd world country, could it? Why did he attack them? They were mating in public, that's why. Oh, the horrors! Oh, the (non) humanity!

"He tried every cure for his ailment but could not be rid of his disability.

A list would be nice, but I'm guessing 'every cure' is pretty much limited to charms, talismans, and maybe the occasional trip to some fakir/faker in the street.

"On the advice of an astrologer and others, he decided to marry a bitch to get cured. Then we arranged Selvakumar's marriage with a bitch."

The restraint I'm exercising here is...difficult at best. So I guess mAnn Coulter is still single?

Further on this:

However, Selvi later became restless and ran away. She was subsequently caught and brought back to her husband.

Got cold paws, huh? Imagine "Lassie Come Home" in Prakrit. Or the 'Runaway Bride' debacle as reported by the Hindi version of Faux Noise.

Sadly, this isn't an isolated example - for instance, when a woman married a snake last year. And, as reported by the preceding link,

Marriages between humans and other living beings are not uncommon in India. A tribal girl was married to a dog near Bhubaneshwar recently.

(Special note - I wrote this, and then discovered my good friend Stardust has already done some pieces on these items. D'oh!)

On a more serious note, monkeys are going somewhat apeshit over in India, biting babies and accidentally killing a mayoral deputy - and again, religion rears its ugly head: 

Part of the problem is that devout Hindus believe monkeys are manifestations of the god Hanuman and feed them bananas and peanuts, encouraging them to frequent public places.

So, here we have a nation of Indians ruled by Indians, and what do we get? Human-animal marriages. Local fauna doing harm to humans. Human sacrifice and witch burnings. As well as some inhumane examples of exorcism. And even some cases of widow-burning. And while not in India, one Nepalese fellow decided to rid himself of an unruly appendage, via the eight-armed Goddess of Harm, Kali.

So the lopsided simile has become, with a touch of research, a valid example. We really do need the 'Swedes' to run things, or otherwise, we'd have a whole lot more crazy-ass fairy-beggars running rampant in the streets, flagellating themselves and bellowing into their foam-flecked beards, blathering in tongues and puncturing themselves with serpent teeth.

Religion sure brings out the best in people, doesn't it?

Let the innuendoes and double-entendres commence.

This is the Apostate, signing off.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pissing In The Ear of Gwad - Unconditional Love, My Homesick Ass - I Just Might Glurge


Cross posted at God's for Suckers!

"Castles in the sand, must fall into the sea, eventually" - Jimi Hendrix.

I realize that I've gone off on a tangent on this before - but the utter weirdness the religious invest in is somewhere between addled and insane.

Take this particular hoary old chestnut - "Gwad wuvs you THIS MUCH" (aka the old 'unconditional love' gambit).

Not realizing, of course, that the thought rarely (if ever) matches the 'deed'.

So here we have a quantitatively HUGE amount of supplicants (read: beggars) asking for some form of pittance from on high.

What does their book say about this?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receives; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8].”

One can, with a little dishonesty, play the 'translation changes the message' game - but the aforementioned quote is not only open-ended, but fairly clear. Every Christian is considered the 'favored child'. And regardless as to whether the mendicant gets his/her request granted, it's always the fail-safe: "It was meant to be."

And then there's this 'unconditional love' nonsense. I contend there is no such thing among us mortals: even a mother's love for her child is conditional. Andrea Yates springs immediately to mind. Or Abraham's readiness to sacrifice Isaac, for another. Or Medea, for that matter (albeit that last example is mythological. In fact, the one prior is as well).

Let's dissect this little ditty, with one of my favorite points: the Glurge story. Snopes.com defines this as

"Think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in: It's supposed to be a method of delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickly-sweet concoction that induces hyperglycemic fits."

As an example, the famous Internet hooey about how a young woman prayed, and spared a rape, has darker undertones. Not only is the tale sparse on details (names, locations, times), the fact is, that while this young woman was (allegedly) spared a horrible experience, someone else was not 'passed over'. Along these same lines, a missionary is spared a robbing and murder because of 'guardian angels'. Again, sparse on details, time-constraints are asynchronous, an unverifiable story. As opposed to, say, this one? Or perhaps these women were less than favored? Or perhaps these five?

So, in fact, Gwad plays favorites. For every wish granted like some genie in a bottle, there's at least a thousand (perhaps more: likely in the millions) where the aforementioned promise is broken. Where the door's unopened: the question, unanswered: the sought, never found. And no doubt, some are found more worthy of others (these of course, are items that would've sorted themselves, without pleading to the deaf sky).

So, in short, knee-mail is free mail. It lacks postage, and the address is non-existent. So it goes nowhere fast, and lands in fantasy Neverland - or, to put a different spin on the whole shebang, if a prayer is uttered and there is no divine ear to hear it, does it make an impact?

Obviously not.

And the mental masturbation continues.

And to top off the tank, a quote from one of my favorite skeptics:

Pray, v.  To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.  ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

And Today's Word Is....


Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!


This is an item that has been nagging at me lately: do the religious invest in self-loathing?

Let's see what the definition says:

Self-hatred, self-loathing, also sometimes autophobia refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group to which one belongs. For instance, 'ethnic self-hatred' is the extreme dislike of one's ethnic group. Accusations of self-hatred are often used as an ad hominem attack.

Hmmm...on outwards appearances, it seems not. Specifically, they usually love one another and themselves with an abandon that borders on narcissism.

Let's examine a further snippet, same source:

The term self-hatred can refer to either a strong dislike for oneself, one's actions, or a strong dislike or hatred of one's own race, gender, or sexual orientation. When used in the latter context it is generally defined as hatred of one's identity based on the demographic in question, as well as a desire to distance oneself from this identity.

Now, here's an excerpt from Boiling Point: Dealing With The Anger In Our Lives, by Jane Middleton-Moz:

'All self-hate is based in shame, the belief that "no matter what I do, I will never be good enough."

I think the sharp-eyed reader can guess from context, where I'm going from here.

Let's now examine the definition of original sin:

According to Christian theology, original sin (also called ancestral sin, hereditary sin, birth sin, or person sin) is the fallen state of humanity. In the history of Christianity this condition has been characterized as something as insignificant as a slight deficiency to something as drastic as total depravity. Western Christian tradition regards it as the general condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are born, distinct from any actual sins that a person may or may not commit later. Eastern Christian Tradition too identifies original sin as physical and spiritual death, the spiritual death being the loss of "the grace of God, which quickened (the soul) with the higher and spiritual life"[1] Others see original sin also as the cause of actual sins: "a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:17, NIV), although, in this view, original and actual sin may be difficult to distinguish.[2]

Of course, the bible goes on at length about this unattainable goal, this bar set far too high for us mortal men:


Matt. 5:48 - "you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"
I Cor. 13:10 - "when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away"
Phil. 3:12 - "not that I have already become perfect, but I press on..."
Phil. 3:15 - "let us...as many as are perfect, have this attitude..."
Col. 1:28 - "that we may present every man mature in Christ"
Col. 4:12 - "stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God"
 Heb. 5:9 - "having been made perfect, He became source of eternal salvation"
Heb. 7:19 - "the law made nothing perfect"
Heb. 7:28 - "a Son, made perfect forever"
Heb. 12:23 - "the spirits of righteous men made perfect"
I Jn. 4:18 - "perfect love casts out fear..."

There would be those who claim the language is different - I think not. Here's a nice little translation of the word perfect as used in the wholly bibble:

The second of this verse's two problems, and the crux of the matter, is the word perfect. In the Hebrew text, this is tamîm (Strong's #8549), and its basic meaning is "complete" or "entire." It does not mean "perfect" as we think of it today, as "without fault, flaw, or defect." Other English words that translate tamîm better than "perfect" are "whole," "full," "finished," "well-rounded," "balanced," "sound," "healthful," "sincere," "innocent," or "wholehearted." In the main, however, modern translators have rendered it as "blameless" in Genesis 6:9.

Balanced with the English definition, they're hardly that far apart.

So here religious folks have this unreachable goal, taught they're the flawed creation of something essentially 'flawless' (a more mixed signal to the subconscious mind, I can't imagine), and the only way to 'perfection' is accepting the yoke of being sub-standard, always and 'forever' falling short of the mark conjured up by the fevered imaginations of some Iron-age desert nomads long ago.

A mug's game, in short.

There is no 'test', via which we are graded when our time on this earth is done. The only gantlet we run is this one, no other.

We wear this cloak of flesh, in the blink of a metaphorical eye in geological time. We should neither despise it nor wallow in it, but instead to walk in it and wonder at the rainbows of life we live in, and are a part of.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Design Without A Designer - The Teleological Teat, Revisited.


Cross posted at God is for Suckers!

I've been perusing The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Mark Isaak - and it's a compilation of the plethora of casuistic counter-evolutionary claims, and it's a long, looonnnggg list of complaints lodged against evolutionary theory, most of them niggling little nuggets of nonsense.

More often than not, I am stunned by the addled idiocy of my fellow humans. When I was younger, I'd be stunned into silence by the utter stupidity of some verbal diversionary tactic of the mental midgets.

I seriously advise picking up this book. It gathers the commoner counter-claims, and lays them to rest in a rational, logical fashion, quite similar to the Talkorigins site.

As I've pointed out before, the teleological is the more difficult of these discussions, at least on a superficial level. Some simple investigation usually lays the majority of these items to rest.

Here's a few tasty little morsels:

Could life arise spontaneously? If you read How Cells Work, you can see that even a primitive cell like an E. coli bacteria -- one of the simplest life forms in existence today -- is amazingly complex.

This is a ridiculous comparison. A 'primitive' cell today is by far more complex than a primitive cell a billion years ago. Argument from incredulity. Try a different tack - I use the term 'compounded simplicity'.

The cosmos is fine-tuned to permit human life. If any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, life would be impossible. (This claim is also known as the weak anthropic principle.)

The Talk Origins link covers this nicely:

The claim assumes life in its present form is a given; it applies not to life but to life only as we know it. The same outcome results if life is fine-tuned to the cosmos.
We do not know what fundamental conditions would rule out any possibility of any life. For all we know, there might be intelligent beings in another universe arguing that if fundamental constants were only slightly different, then the absence of free quarks and the extreme weakness of gravity would make life impossible.
Indeed, many examples of fine-tuning are evidence that life is fine-tuned to the cosmos, not vice versa. This is exactly what evolution proposes.

The argument from long odds:

...the odds calculated by Morowitz and Hoyle are staggering. The odds led Fred Hoyle to state that the probability of spontaneous generation 'is about the same as the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junk yard could assemble a Boeing 747 from the contents therein.' Mathematicians tell us that any event with an improbability greater than one chance in 1050 is in the realm of metaphysics -- i.e. a miracle.1

This is perhaps the most specious of arguments. We're here, and what criterion is used to generate this number? But really, how on earth do you calculate these odds? Do we have alternate universes that have these components misarranged for comparison? Yes, this is abiogenesis - but I've seen this concept applied to the argument from fine tuning, (see above) i.e., if select items were just a little bit off kilter, we wouldn't be here.

Of course, the (not-so) clever word play creeps in - "Hey, if you use the word 'design', it implies a designer!" Well, design is in the natural order of things, but it doesn't necessitate a supernatural first cause. Or the good ole "So everything was an accident!?!?", which I disemboweled here - because after all, language is a two-edged sword, is it not?

But we are. And everything just is. And we all make our own purpose, no?


Till the next post, then.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Allegories Gone Wild - Sucking At The Teleological Teat Of An Appeal To Wonder


Cross-posted at God is for Suckers!

I ran across this little ditty, courtesy of Old Earther, Hugh Ross.

And it's...well, just a touch on the wild side.

Arguably the most hotly debated theory in physics is string theory, the concept that at the core of every fundamental particle resides a tiny string or loop of energy that vibrates in nine different dimensions of space.

Ummm...no, that's ten to eleven different dimensions. Yeesh, get it right before you spout off.

The significance of string theory is that if it or some other multi-space-dimensional theory of physics accurately describes physical reality, then religions that insist on a doctrinal construct of God and his dealings with humanity demanding no more than the equivalent of the dimensions of length, width, height, and time must be wrong while religions like Christianity whose entire doctrinal system fundamentally requires the equivalent of many extra dimensions could be correct.

Wow, so I guess anyone who's ever used the Akashic records must be on an equal par? Or howzabout the Hindus, or even the Buddhists?

Apparently not, as the next paragraph demonstrates:

Because Christianity among the world’s religions remains alone in its appeal to the equivalent of many extra dimensions and since humans can only visualize phenomena within the dimensions that they personally experience, the “could be correct” transforms into “the Bible’s words must be uniquely and inerrantly inspired by the One who created the universe.”

Many extra dimensions? Such as? Heaven and hell, and all that malarkey? That's like, two extra. Unless there's something I'm missing. Most likely, it'll be a string of scriptural verses (unsupplied in this article) that simply waffle on poetically about a certain deity, his 'wonders to behold'.

Any theory as loaded with theological implications as string theory is bound to be controversial. Such controversy should not be interpreted as implying that the theory is lacking in evidence. However, the greater the controversy, the more the need for evidence to overcome doubts about the theory. In that context, it is welcome news that theoretical physicists have demonstrated a seventh confirmation of string theory to complement the six that already exist.

Umm...the theory is lacking in evidence. In fact, most string theorists have no evidence to back up their assertions, because string theory is very lacking in evidence. Any evidence at all.

This seventh confirmation comes from a team of theoretical physicists exploiting a facet of string theory to explain what previously had been mystifying aspects of the Nernst effect (the crosswise flow of heat and charge currents in the presence of a magnetic field) in high-temperature superconductors. Specifically, they demonstrate how the physics of a black hole in negatively curved spacetime that includes an extra dimension of space produces a set of transport equations directly from quantum mechanics field theory that predict certain features of the Nernst effect.

All this is good and fine, but what does it prove, exactly?

String theory was invented to explain how gravity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics could coexist.


However, until now, this coexistence could only be outlined in the broadest terms or used tor explain details that could not be directly observed.

Or predicted, or repeated.

By predicting from string theory an effect that can be observed in the world in which we presently live theoretical physicists have provided additional evidence that string theory indeed is the pathway to unify all of physics.

Ummm...this was in relation to the Nernst effect - where's this 'additional' evidence?

Such additional evidence translates into more evidence for the extra- and/or trans-dimensional doctrines that are unique to the Bible among the world’s great holy books.

So here's the nutshell: here's this unprovable set of theorems (they're interesting, I'll grant you that) that attempt to synchronize the apparent disharmony between gravity, magnetism, the weak and strong nuclear forces with relativity and quantum mechanics, and Ross here tries to mesh this with his untestable, unprovable theory (in his case, it's definition #6 of the word theory) in order to appear scientific.

Like it or not, this is the new battleground. Quantum physics, string theory, the saccharine shepherds will warp science to bring more 'lost sheep' into the fold. This is known as the fallacy of the spurious relationship, which is defined as "In statistics, a spurious relationship (or, sometimes, spurious correlation) is a mathematical relationship in which two occurrences have no causal connection, yet it may be inferred that they do, due to a certain third, unseen factor (referred to as a "confounding factor" or "lurking variable")."

 So gird yourselves for battle, with slide rules as swords and particle accelerators as artillery.


Till the next post, then.