left biblioblography: 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And Another One Bites The Dust

Cross-posted @ God is for Suckers!

(Hat tip to Pharyngula)

So it seems there was an Xmas re-conversion recently - a well-known blogging atheist was 'born again'.

I have always found this phenomenon fascinating. In fact (have I mentioned this before? If so, apologies), I've always rather fancied the personal visitation these folks have. But in the years of dropping psychotropic drugs (back in the days of my wastrel youth, I hasten to add), not once did I ever encounter an external manifestation (read: embodied hallucination). I saw the walls breathe, the colors dance, and caught my hands, but no seraphim serenaded me, no booming voice from above, not even a sweet whispered nothing in my ears.

Now granted, I used to hear voices in my head, but again, these were all internal, and so I don't count those.

I am sufficiently versed in the wholly bibble, so it can't just be the written rhetoric, can it? Or is it simple overexposure?

This siren's song of madness calls, and minds dash against the rocks of the psyche's Scylla...


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have A Wicked Winterval, Y'all

So it's Winterval again (see the second entry down):

Winterval is a portmanteau word coined by Mike Chubb[1] (former Head of Events at Birmingham City Council) to describe all festivities taking place around the end of the year (the winter in the Northern Hemisphere). It is a fusion of the words winter and festival and was intended to be an alternative description that encompasses the Neopagan (Winter solstice, Yule), Jewish (Hanukkah), Muslim (Ramadan and Eid), Hindu (Diwali) and secular holidays such as New Year's Day that take place during the last months of the year, rather than the Christian festivals of Christmas, Advent and Boxing Day exclusively.

I'm spending mine alone this year (no, no noises of sympathy, I chose this) - though last night, my nephew left a message on my cell's voice mail, telling me how Xmas isn't the same without me there, he loves me, all the usual notes a child can play on the lute of an adult's heart.

Problem is, he's about seventeen, and I suspect my (former) little sister put him up to it. I could be wrong, but that's unlikely.

Anyways, carpe diem, and all that.



Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Devil's Playground - Hey, Is That Beelzebub On The Monkey Bars?

Cross posted @ God is for Suckers!

(In which I manage to dodge/artfully evade the topic of the oncoming holiday)

Rumspringa-CoverI just finished watching the Devil's Playground. This documentary deals with the Amish custom of Rumspringa, of which the Wiki entry says:

Rumspringa (also Rumschpringe or Rumshpringa, derived from the Deitsch term for "running around or jumping") generally refers to a period of adolescence for some members of the Amish, a subsect of the Anabaptist Christian movement, that begins around the age of sixteen and ends when a youth chooses baptism within the Amish church or instead leaves the community. The vast majority choose baptism and remain in the church. Not all Amish use this term (it does not occur in Hostetler's extended discussion of adolescence), but in sects that do, Amish elders generally view this as a time for courtship and finding a spouse.

As a rule, of all the Christian cults, I rather appreciate how these folks tend to stay out of other folks' affairs. We envision them as religious anachronisms, as they tend to veer away from modern technology, but the film states that they shy away from anything that might endanger the community or family (the example was that a battery charger, not much of an impact, an automobile, a huge impact).

In fact, the doors are pretty much open to the adolescent at any time they want to return to the 'fold' - but if they return, and change their minds, to return to the 'English' ways? Then they are shunned.

My major issue with this group (as with any other religious nomenclature) is this sense of tribalism. In some ways, tribalism is a social networking tool, a meeting of like minds. The unfortunate side-effect is the exclusion of those deemed other. And when it is done in a religious context, somehow, some way, it just seems to make it that much worse. Basically, a group of human beings is isolating and outcasting another human (or smaller group of humans) over a bunch of superstitious hooey. A perceived non-crime committed by a non-criminal as per rules set by a non-existent judge.

Kafka, anyone?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back In Again...

My DSL connection has been down since Saturday evening. The Device Manager in WinXP reported that my Ethernet NIC card was working properly, which of course, was a lie. So I ended up buying a brand new DSL modem (this was prior to figuring out it was the NIC), which involved wading out into holiday traffic. Luckily, I have an old desktop computer, which I cannabilised for a card.
So I will be posting again (and soon!), for the benefit of those who actually read this blog.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So, Speak Up, Please - Who Are You Folks?

So I realize that I've kinda been letting things go - I have a pile of good excuses (but I think I've used them all up by now). My blog's 2 year anniversary is coming up toot sweet, but rather than invest in a lot of narcissistic nostalgia, this time around, I'd like to give a shout out to the folks who have been consistent readers.
I have on the right-hand (if you're facing the blog) column, a little box that shows how many people are subscribing via feed. This number has never quite broken 20, but has on an average stayed above the 10 mark. So thanks.
Here's your opportunity. Drop in. Leave a comment. Let me know who you are (approximately). The reason being, is that I forgot my password to feedburner, and wouldn't you know it, it doesn't email you the password, regardless of how many times you click on that 'forgot your password?' link.
So, let me know who y'all are, for nothing more than a passing howdy-do.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ah, The Smell Of Biblioclasm In The Morning...

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

Desecrating_Koran_in_Iran And of course, since Islam is a 'peaceful' religion:

Mumbai Muslim couple arrested for burning Quran

Mumbai, August 28:: A Muslim couple was arrested for allegedly burning a copy of their holy book in suburban Govandi area.

Mastan Shah and his wife Noor Bano Shah told the police that they were burning the book as it was very old and tattered and they did not want to throw it.

Angry neighbours who saw the holy book being burnt, assaulted Noor and Mastan. The couple's house was also vandalised.

And for another little ditty of dangerous delusion:

Students burn US flags in anger at Koran shooting

STUDENTS in Logar and Balkh have staged anti-American demonstrations in protest at a US soldier in Iraq who shot a copy of the holy Koran.

The protesters asked the United Nations and the international community to put the soldier on trial in an Islamic court.

More than 1,400 students from Porak High School, as well as tribal elders from 20 villages, took to the streets in Pul-e-Alam, the provincial capital of Logar in protest at the soldier’s actions.

During the two-hour protest, students blocked the Kabul-Gardez highway and burned effigies of President Bush and the US flag.

In fact, these are just books, people. Being an avid bibliophile, there was a time when I thought that was a sin (till I learned that the word 'sin' was just a fancy way of saying "Oops!"). Human beings are not only vaster repositories of knowledge, but are by and far more valuable than some musty old anachronistic book of rules.

Knowledge is a commodity, and life is priceless - and a book comes in a distant third by my calculations.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Little Moral Molecule That Could...An Example Of The Blind Criticizing The Blind Watchmaker, So Where Do They End Up?

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!blind_watchmaker

So this has been on my mind for a few days:

Can a molecule be moral? Of course not, no more than a particle can be political. Or particular - ask any carbon molecule (it bonds to just about anything...almost promiscuously, one might say).

Herein lies the crux the religious folks have with evolution. It infers that besides having no guiding principle, since we are all particles, we can just bounce about doing as we please. The scarier intimation being, if these so-called 'good religious folk' were stripped of their fantasies, the streets would run crimson, and rapine and pillage would be common.

While in search of an appropriate image for this post, I stumbled across this bit of idiocy, and like the rest of you probably do, I managed the interesting feat of the stunned open-mouthed grin.

Hardwired Nonsense

Evolutionists claim that morality is a product of evolution. As we saw in yesterday’s article, Marc Hauser claims that “evolution hardwired us to know right from wrong.” How did evolution, which is not a person, place, or thing, know what is morally acceptable? Of course, “it” didn’t, since there is no such “thing” as “evolution.”

Lie #1: Evolution doesn't need to be a 'person, place or thing'.

Lie #2: Evolution is reality.

Evolution is the backbone of modern biology.

 For the sake of argument, let’s suppose, following Hauser, that evolution did hardwire moral clarity.

Holy crap, did this guy actually use the term 'moral clarity'? Are you kidding me? History shows that there's never been any such critter.

 Why is it morally acceptable for a lion to kill and eat a gazelle but it’s not morally acceptable for a human to kill and eat another human being?

It's not acceptable for any species to prey upon itself. Of course, I don't consider the actions of the Donner party to be immoral: it's not like they were planning a barbeque. "Hey, throw a little more Earl on the barbie!"

Forces, ideas, concepts don’t have the ability to “hardwire” anything. Hardware requires software that is designed. What’s true in the lesser case (software designed for an inanimate machine) is ultimately true in the greater case (the creation of human beings with the capacity to think and create analogically).

Wow, a completely inadequate grasp of human psychology. Rates right up there as some of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Any advertisers or marketing experts should be rolling on the floor right now. Ever heard of Pavlov? Skinner? Brainwashing? Hell, anyone acquainted with religion should know better than to babble this inanely.

 How did evolution figure this out? There’s a more fundamental question that is rarely asked. Looking back over billions of years, how does the evolutionist account for the idea of morality based on the spontaneous generation of the cosmos?

This is a reference to another stupid article here, where Gary Demar insists that evolution has to be a person to be able to figure this out - he's got teleology on the brain, this one. Further, the jury's still out on this 'spontaneous generation of the cosmos' nonsense - that is, if anyone can actually prove the existence of non-existence.

The question “How did life originate?” which interests all of us, is inseparably linked to the question “Where did the information come from?” Since the findings of James D. Watson . . . and Francis H. C. Crick, it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life would be forced to explain how the information originated. All evolutionary views are fundamentally unable to answer this crucial question.

While abiogenesis is a semi-separate field of sorts, it doesn't invalidate evolution at all. In fact, this is somewhere between a non sequitur and a false dichotomy. Again, religious people think that attacking the source has some sort of validity.

Consider the computer. Not only must all the physical parts work flawlessly—parts which were designed and manufactured by people with minds and hands—the programming necessary to run the parts also must function without error. No one would ever propose that the computer evolved spontaneously or that the programming appeared out of thin air and found its way into the computer’s internal parts without some form of outside design and directive to operate the machinery in a specific way.

And of course, the non sequiturs keep on flowing. Comparing a machine to a biological unit is indeed apples to oranges. Machines don't grow. They have no offspring. A computer isn't born as a Commodore 64, and grows up to be a Cray Supercomputer.

Here's this idiocy...again.

In an article titled “The God Debate” that appears in the April 9, 2007 issue of Newsweek, atheist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, dialogs with Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddle Church, over the existence of God. Here’s how one series of exchanges went after Warren said that he believed in the biblical account of creation:

HARRIS: I’m doing my Ph.D. in neuroscience; I’m very close to the literature on evolutionary biology. And the basic point is that evolution by natural selection is random genetic mutation over millions of years in the context of environmental pressures that selects for fitness.

WARREN: Who’s doing the selecting?

HARRIS: The environment. You don’t have to invoke an intelligent designer to explain the complexity we see.

WARREN: Sam makes all kinds of assertions based on his presuppositions. . . .

Warren did a great job in asking the question “Who’s doing the selecting?” It’s unfortunate that he did not press Harris after he answered “the environment.” Warren asked “who,” and Harris answered with a “what.” How did the environment get here? Does it have a mind? Why is it always imbued with personality?

That 'God Debate' thing obviously settled nothing. The atheists cheered for Harris, the theists cheered for Rick 'I got a brain disease' Warren - it's idiotic. The answer wasn't a 'who' (His Holiness Hears A Who - the latest in children's books from Dr. Zeus), because there isn't a who. No, the environment doesn't have a mind. No, it's not 'imbued with personality'. Personify much?

These evolution articles remind me of a Danny Shanahan cartoon that appeared in the June 14, 1999 issue of The New Yorker. A Pterodactyl is perched on a limb talking into a tape recorder. The caption reads: “Memo to self: ‘Feathers?’” In his attempt to be humorous, Shanahan points out a fundamental flaw in the theory of evolution. There needs to be some personal intelligence behind the process. How did reptiles conceptualize the need for feathers? Of course, they didn’t. They couldn’t. Harris claims that it was “environmental pressure” that caused favorable evolutionary results to take place, including morality. The problem is evident: How does he know this? He doesn’t.

It's a lame effort. No, there doesn't need to be a personal intelligence behind the process. Further, there isn't. We're hardwired for a lot of items, some of them anachronisms. We're constructed originally to move about on all fours: we became bipedal, and ended up with back problems. We have unnecessary teeth, vestigial organs, and if we were to judge how much the 'intelligent designer' loves us, well, it likes squid better because their eyes are better constructed, and it loves dolphins better, because they breathe and eat through separate holes. The Heimlich maneuver escapes another species altogether.

I can break down all the poor engineering flaws in our bodies, but this is supposed to be a short post, not a novel-length criticism.

So the nutshell analysis, Mr. DeMar, is this:

  1. Either your watchmaker is a retard, OR
  2. your watchmaker is blind.

Really, it seems as if religion is an excuse for lazy people not to think at all.

While this was an eye-roller, it's been fun.

Till the next post, then.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gazing Into The Abyss...

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!imaginenoheaven

"If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

The elections are over, I'm back from my trip to China. I'm thoroughly pissed off that proposition 8 went through. I'll be ranting on this soon enough, but I have some other item I wish to share.

Recently, not only have I had a death in my family, but I've had some pretty close shaves myself. I was in the hospital about a month ago, for a procedure called a stent. I was experiencing shortness of breath, needle-like pains in the heart, dizziness, and the sense of impending doom. While some of you might be getting wide-eyed at that, I've been experiencing these issues for about a year. The doctors can't give me a fix on it. Still can't: I was told it was possibly a myocardial infarction, but the heart specialist turned out to be wrong.

I can field most of this fairly well, but the pounding of one's pulses in the eardrums as well as the sense of impending doom are sensations I can do well without.

And this last Monday, I came down with a very bad case of food poisoning, so much so that walking across a room for a few feet left me weak as a kitten. I had to lay over in Shiyan as the rest of my tour group went on to Xi'an, and I took a sleeper train over to join them the next day. Not an experience I want to have again.

And contrary to the popular stereotype ('no atheists in foxholes' horse manure, you know the drill), I didn't collapse to my knees begging for life. Nor did I weep bloody execrations to the skies above. I saved my breath and my energy, and survived without 'divine intervention'. Like most fancy themselves, I am made of sterner stuff.

Do I ever question my position on the afterlife? Of course I do: uncertainty shrouds this cloak of flesh we wear, always. Questioning everything is the way of the logical being.

If perhaps I were a weaker individual, I would draw solace from the superstitions of the past. Imagine some external force comforting me, filling me with life, power, survival. What a nice comic book sensation that would be.

But alas, no such luck. No hand was laid on me from on high. No ghost whispered 'Strive! Survive! Fulfill your destiny!' in my ear. No visions, visual or otherwise. Just fevered sweat, gushing liquids and the scrabbling mendacity to march forwards.

But I am here, that was another country, and besides, no wench is dead. (A no-prize to the reader that gets that esoteric reference!)

Life is good while I still have it. While I'm not afraid of that void that claims all, I'm in no rush to meet it headlong.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

I Am Returned - Bearing Gifts And Tales Of The Far East...

I got back on Wednesday, and have pretty much sorted my light cycle out (those of you who have flown through that black expanse known as the International Time Line will know what I mean).
It was quite the little adventure. The people were wonderful (the Chinese have a big thing about hospitality, and they get tickled pink when you fumble with their language), the food was awesome (I keep hoping to lose weight on these treks - not yet), and I managed to bring home 2 bronze medals for the USA.
On the flip side, the pollution gave me serious problems, I contracted a minor bout of food poisoning (which I bounced back from pretty well, but for a little bit there, thought I was gonna die), and after being on a sleeper train, I wanted to burn my shoes.
I went to some opening ceremonies. At one, in a stadium, my team and I marched in (along with teams from several other countries) to the shrieks and adulation of a huge adoring crowd. Humble I may be, I could get used to THAT toot sweet. Wow!
Just a blurb for now. Perchance I'll share more at a later date.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Away I Fly, To The East

So tomorrow I leave for China, to compete in the 3rd World Traditional Wushu Championships at WuDang. I shall be gone for 2 weeks.
I will be woefully out of my depth, and not expecting to win diddly-squat: contestant numbers are said to be in the upwards of 10,000 or more. So I'll rubber-neck, play La Tourista, network and get pointers on how to refine my art. Pick up maybe 20 more words in Mandarin (enhancing my limited vocabulary to the tune of 40 or more...encroaching senility has not been kind recently).
Other bits of sundry personal news: I've quit smoking (I have mild emphysema, manageable, but still sucks), and I had a picture of my heart taken (2, actually!) when I was in the hospital a few weeks ago.
I'll probably post on all that sturm und drang when I return in 2 weeks.
In the meanwhile, if you drop on by, do play nice in my sandbox.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Written In The Stars - Or So It Is Said

Cross posted @ God Is for Suckers!aries-sham 

When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way -
Stevie Wonder

Yet another daft chapter of our species from the history books - there was a time that astrology was considered a relevant 'science'. And no, I'm not talking about the Oracle of Delphi. Much closer to our own time period, in fact.

The 1640s and 1650s marked a heyday in the history of astrology in Britain. Astrologers were openly consulted by prince and pauper, and such was their influence on daily life that on the 29th March 1652 it was reported "hardly any would work, none would stir out of their houses" because of an impending solar eclipse.[1] The excitement generated by the astrologers' predictions of doom led to reports of the rich fleeing from London, farmers driving their cattle under cover, and markets being postponed.[2] Astrology at this time was part of everyone's life, inherent in the language and prevalent in the customs of the period. The massive sale of astrological almanacs, which during this period outsold all publications except for the Bible, indicates the widespread accessibility and acceptance of astrological philosophy.

Sound familiar?

By the 1670s however, astrology began to fall into a serious decline. Astrologers were stripped of their right to make political statements affecting the Church or State and the public seemed to be losing interest. The educated and influential classes started to look upon astrology as, at worst, superstitious nonsense and dangerous propaganda, and at best, a study in dire need of research and refinement. Almanac sales slumped, and many previously successful and busy astrologers were noting a fall in the number of their clients.

I think much of that can be tracked down to the 'science' not working at all. But evidently it rang a few bells:

Astrology and the Ecclesiastical Authorities often had a somewhat uncomfortable relationship. In general terms the Church was prepared to go along with a 'natural', or philosophical astrology, accepting Heaven's influence in a broad, cultural sense, but 'judicial' astrology, which dealt with individual predictions, met with staunch opposition; this was felt to undermine the supreme power of the Creator and the freewill of the individual to make the best of his circumstances. The Body of the Church held considerable power and wealth, so any tenet of faith that conflicted with their dogma exposed itself as a theological opponent and threat to the political scheme. Matters were hardly facilitated when, in 1631, an ambitious astrologer predicted the death of Pope Urban VIII, the effect being that many cardinals met to discuss who should succeed him whilst he was still alive and well. A Papal Bull condemning astrology was issued by the exasperated Pope, and the Church's tolerance with astrology fell to an all-time low. The monopoly of almanac publication had been renewed to the Company of Stationers by James I in 1603, and under the auspices of the government, they ensured that all published predictions were kept relatively tame and harmless.

The prediction, of course, failed. The consequences were predictable.

The article linked is an apologetic written by and for other believers. It tries to paint the picture of persecution - 'awww, those poor little dears! Why, there must be something to it, if people are against it!"

No, there isn't. It's all superstitious dreck. How on earth would someone prove that it was the invisible tentacles of electro-magnetism stemming from Mars that results in the need for anger management? Can't be done. Or that somehow, the feeblest of gravimetric motes from Venus makes one a superior lover? Can't be done.

In short, how can it be proven that just one planet (not the planet earth, I might note) has any impact whatsoever on an individual? How does one measure this sans the century-old tomes that claim it? How do you winnow out this ephemeral influence, put a yardstick to it, lick the thumb and take aim with one eye at it?

I will, upon my return from a well-deserved vacation, take an ample swing at the folks who claim there is such evidence.

So stay tuned, true un-believers.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Latest From Jesusland...Redneck Republicans Growing Their Corn Pone

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!jesusland

The black philosopher's idea was that a man is not independent, and cannot afford views which might interfere with his bread and butter. If he would prosper, he must train with the majority; in matters of large moment, like politics and religion, he must think and feel with the bulk of his neighbors, or suffer damage in his social standing and in his business prosperities. He must restrict himself to corn-pone opinions -- at least on the surface. He must get his opinions from other people; he must reason out none for himself; he must have no first-hand views. - Mark Twain: Corn Pone Opinions

If there's a political party that is likely to receive a Darwin Award, it most definitely (in my mind) has to be the GOP. These retards keep bankrupting the country (From Regan to Bush and Clone Bush), they've done nothing but lead America into financial ruin. And in pursuit of what? Keeping the status quo static at all costs, turning back the clock to a fantasy time that never was, yearning and burning for a utopic society that marches in white picket fence synchronicity.

The latest and 'greatest' is more of the blithering idiocy from the 'Governor next door' (didn't she do a fold-out pictorial in the Nome issue of Guns 'N Ammo?' No? Would be no shock if she had or did: the GOP is notorious for hypocrisy):

Palin heightens rhetoric on abortion

JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin charged into the culture wars Saturday in Pennsylvania, painting Sen. Barack Obama as a radical on abortion rights.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Saturday.

The stop comes amid news that Palin violated Alaska ethics law by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from the state police, a state investigator's report for the bipartisan Legislative Council concluded Friday.

Ethics woes aside, Palin focused her attention on abortion -- an issue that rallies the conservative base but some say alienates independent and women voters.

I've come to notice, that when a woman tends to be 'pro-life' (AKAP anti-abortion), they also tend to be pretty darn well-fed. The inference being, is that as a rule, they can actually afford to raise children. Personally, I'm both pro-choice and pro-life (no, no, no, I'm not wishy-washy, you can take both those terms out of their political connotative context: I'm mean them literally). Basically, the liberal refrain 'rare, safe, and legal'.

But, as always, the Right is wrong.

You don't want abortion? You don't want prostitution? You don't want illegal immigrants?

Hey, really folks, the answer is actually way easier than you think.

Combat poverty.

That's right. All those multiple millions you've pissed away on miniscule band-aids for those huge gaping wounds? Put that into education. All those dollars spent combating the symptom instead of addressing the pathology? Should've put them into feeding the poor. All those billions poured into battling bugaboos like gay marriage, vice squads, all those lost bucks on faith-based abstinence-only failures and creationist crap fests - it's squandered money.

Feed the poor. Raise their standard of living to something closer to the US middle class. Educate them.

Because you can't eat prayers. You can't feed starving children on hosannas.

Because the old texts are wrong. Man does live on bread alone.

Till the next post, then.



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scientology Vs. Psychiatry: What's Big Dispute, Anyways?


Cross posted @ God is for Suckers!

I trust it's no secret that I detest Scientology. As religions go, it lacks a great deal in cohesiveness, critical thinking, and I think it safe to say, the practitioners of it are pretty much close to rabid dogs.

One of the main staples of the Xenuphiles is the anti-psychiatry movement. In fact, they even accuse psychiatry of having induced the 9/11 attack. Oh yeah, they blame Hitler on psychiatry too. In fact, the woes of the world entire can be laid squarely to rest at the feet of psychiatry.

Is it me, or is this sounding...eerily familiar?

I chanced across a copy of Freedom a couple of weeks ago, and began reading it, not noticing the 'published by the church of Scientology' header in small print in the upper right-hand corner.

(On a side note, if you read one of their 'articles' on the website, you'll notice that any citations that come at the end of it, are just pointers to the article you just read. Religious folks sure have a thing for repetitive circularity, don't they?)

So, here's the skinny, the poop, the scoop, on why these Xenubites loath this profession:

Maw Confederation

The Maw Confederation are from "the Sixty-third Galaxy", says Hubbard in Aberration and The Sixth Dynamic, and they practiced "total psychiatric control" by pushing people's faces into supercooled sheets of glass. Hubbard claims this so-called "method of brainwashing" was developed about five billion years ago by a "whole-track psychiatrist". (Hubbard, Aberration and The Sixth Dynamic, catalog #5611C13 15ACC-22)

And these people want to be taken seriously?

For more general hilarity:

Aliens in ancient Egypt. Hubbard maintained that ancient Egypt was "a battleground between two space groups" who infiltrated humanity and become integral to Egyptian culture. (What is Knowable to the PC, 1961) In Responsibility and the State of OT, he claimed that the biblical Moses had a "disintegrator pistol", and also said:

"Ancient Egypt, if you care to look it up on the track, was a combination of Earth and space opera all mixed up as one. As the high Pharaoh stands on the side of the pyramid and blesses the multitude, he has to be careful that his cloak doesn't blow aside and reveal his ray gun."

Wow - so who knew that Hubbard actually had an original idea that resulted in a so-so space opera TV show?

The other fact under consideration, is that Hubbard actually lifted the techniques of psychiatry in order to found his ugly little cult. (True, the article linked to has spelling errors, and a little too much anti-communism fervor, but it makes a solid point.)

For those of you with investigative interests, here's two anti-Scamatologist websites to peruse at your leisure.

A vivid imagination is a healthy thing, as long as it doesn't dictate to you or others how to live.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mythological Hearsay - Where Are These Witnesses, Anyways?

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!500witnesses

I honestly admit it: I'm a Jebus Mythicist. I can say with a strong degree of certainty, that I'm utterly underwhelmed by the alleged 'evidence' that most Christians bring with them. They tend to whip out these frenzied copy 'n pastes from some website as if it were some grand salvo to sink the ship of one's atheism.

One can't blame the poor dears for becoming upset when they're laughed roundly out the door.

One of the more irritating 'proofs' I've seen trotted out is this idiotic '500 witnesses' bilge. Here is a link, for those of you who can stomach the intricate mental gymnastics necessary to re-affirm the faith of the believers.

But of course, this addled argument derives directly from the scriptures:

1 Corinthians,15:6:

After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.

Prior to my choice of becoming an atheist, I saw through this nonsense immediately.

If you've ever played the game of telephone, you'd know how daft this argument is. Apart from granting the existence of the Apostles, Mary Magdalene, maybe old Joe of Arimathea (let's say we just grant all the names from the NT), once the math is done, it's somewhat less than one hundred. Who were they? Did they have names? Name half of them, please. This is usually followed by a lot of fum-fah's, an occasional harrumph! and some pretty unspectacular logic. 'Well, they were Christians, so we should just go ahead and believe it.'

Needless to say, a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend doesn't fly in my book, or even in a court of law.

 The more we discover about perceptions, the more we realize that there are few absolutes, and grey areas multiply like so many gray hares. Case in point: this article points out just how spectacularly inept human memory tends to be;

What's more, a significant proportion of people seem to be highly suggestible and will quite readily change what they remember if given appropriate cues.

In one famous study, Dutch researchers questioned people about a 1992 accident in which a cargo plane had crashed into a block of flats near Schiphol Airport.

Ten months later, they conducted a survey asking if people remembered seeing the TV film of the plane hitting the building. More than half of the respondents said they had. A later study found that the proportion had gone up to two-thirds.

The problem is, there is no TV film of the accident. Asking the question had itself apparently changed people's memories.

So I think that pretty much puts paid to that argument. In a nutshell: we can barely trust ourselves, let alone our neighbors to give a factual account of an occurrence, but that 'eyewitness' accounts in an ahistorical set of documents should be considered more trustworthy is...madness. To be blunt.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Allegories Gone Wild - The Knight Of Lemuria

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!PowerInYou

While religious folks tend to get under my skin (the word gullible needs a far more gratuitous version - "You believe in...WHAT?"), what really grinds my gears are these spiritual predators. You know who I'm talking about. People like Madame Cleo, Allison Dubois or Uri Geller - I don't much cotton to liars and thieves. When they take it a step further, you get someone like Ramtha. And when I hear folks blather about this idiot, it takes all my self-control not to shake them by the shoulders and shriek "She's a fake! Atlantis never existed! Lemuria never existed! ARE YOU A MORON?!?!?"

(Deep breaths - gotta watch the blood pressure. Thanks a fucking bunch, Plato.)

So here's the skinny:

JZ Knight makes this claim about this 'spirit' that allegedly channels himself through her:

Ramtha is the entity that Knight says she channels. According to her, Ramtha was a Lemurian warrior who fought the Atlanteans over 35,000 years ago.[3] She says that Ramtha led an army of over 2.5 million across the continents, conquering two thirds of the known world, which was going through cataclysmic geological changes. According to Knight, Ramtha led the army for ten years until he was betrayed and almost killed.

Let's just dissect the geographical claim:

Lemuria (IPA: /lɨˈmjʊəriə/[1]) is the name of a hypothetical "lost land" variously located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The concept's 19th century origins lie in attempts to account for discontinuities in biogeography. The concept of Lemuria has been rendered obsolete by modern understanding of plate tectonics. Although sunken continents do exist — see Zealandia in the Pacific and the Kerguelen Plateau in the Indian Ocean — there is no known geological formation under the Indian or Pacific Oceans that corresponds to the hypothetical Lemuria.

Well, there goes that pet theory. But wait, there's more!

Atlantis (in Greek, Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, "island of Atlas") is the name of a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias.[1]

In Plato's account, Atlantis, lying "beyond the Pillars of Hercules", was a naval power that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune".

9600 BCE? The math don't add up. And if we had this incredibly advanced civilization for centuries, then obviously there would've been colonies. And Sumer would've been by far more advanced than it was (if it were a colony).

So - just hypothetically, if Knight does INDEED have some boogeyman spirit dripping honey into her ears, it's pretty much fucking lying.

And at the very least, she's guilty of murder:

JZ Knight has been involved in several court disputes, some personal (her divorce from Jeff Knight) and others business-related, for example, one involving the dissemination of material containing the copyrighted Ramtha. [2] In Knight vs. Knight, 1992-1995, Jeff Knight alleges that he lost years of his life by postponing modern medical treatment for his HIV infection, due to advice from his wife that Ramtha could heal him — he died before he could appeal the court's decision against him.[3]

So in summation - yet again, stupidity at it's extreme, kills. At the very least, it lightens your wallets considerably.

There are no laws against supernatural fraud, only material fraud. Which goes to show how truly gullible our species is.

Till the next post, then.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Always Remember, Remember, The Eleventh Of September


Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - Santayana.

The anniversary of Black Tuesday has arrived yet again. Seven years have passed. But we should not let this memory dim, this wound heal. It was an important lesson: it taught us that religion, that cheap rationale of the relusional, can be twisted like a knife into the metaphorical heart of things. Whether it is one human, several human beings, a cross-section of humanity, or an arrow into the heart of a nation.

Islam proclaims itself a religion of peace. But like all the other monotheisms, hatred and contempt for the flesh is the hidden corrupt blossom at the heart of it. The sickly sweet stench of attar clings to the meme, and neither the flowery rhetoric nor bonfires of incense can mask it.

Remember, remember, the 11th of September. Let not the memory recede into the dustbins of history. Wear the wound, and when the savages try (as they shall) to dilute it, to explain and rationalize it, skin your lips back, snarl, and point to it, and declare:

"No one deserved this. Innocent citizens died. It is unforgivable."

Never forget, never forgive.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Profiles In Atheism: The Parishioner Who Walked Away

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

I came across this little ditty at approximately the same time I was vigorously cheering Paine in his complete and utter lambasting of the Christian bible. This was a powerful article written as far back as 1924.

Why I Quit Going To Church

by Rupert Hughes

There was a time in this country when I should have been punished for not going to church. In the good old Puritan and Pilgrim days, though only a third or a sixth of the citizens were church members, the parsons were in power and they fined people and put them in the stocks if they stayed away or if the pastor did not like their expressions.

They whipped more than one for criticizing a sermon. They tried to sell two Boston children into slavery because they could not pay their fine for staying away from the church. And they would have done it, too, if the ungodly shipmasters had not refused to carry the children off.

It is incessantly astonishing how often the laity have had to restrain the clergy from cruelty. The Puritan elders held that "the gathering of sticks on the Sabbath may be punished with death." Sometimes a mob would rescue Quaker women from the whips, but in Cambridge, Benanuel Bower, a Quaker who obstinately stayed away from the Puritan church, was fined annually for twenty years, hauled down a flight of steps by the heels, kept in prison for more than a year, and with his wife publicly whipped several times.

But in these wicked and degenerate times, not only can I stay away from church without getting arrested, but I can tell why without being any more than reviled.

I did not quit going to church because I was lazy or frivolous or poetically inclined to "worship God in the Great Outdoors near to Nature's Heart." I don't believe that nature has a heart.

I quit because I came to believe that what is preached in the churches is mainly untrue and unimportant, tiresome, hostile to genuine progress, and in general not worth while. As for the necessity of paying homage to the deity, I began to feel that I did not know enough about God to pay him set compliments on set days. As for the God who is preached in the churches, I ceased to worship him because I could no longer believe in him or respect what is alleged of him.

I cannot respect a deity who would want or even endure the hideous monotony and mechanism of most of the worship paid him by hired men, hired prayer-makers and their supporters. When I think of the millions of repetitions of the same phrases of prayer and song smoking up to a helpless deity I feel sorry for him. No wonder he gets farther away each year. No wonder the ex-priest Alfred Loisy says (in his "My Duel with the Vatican") that "the eternal immutable, omniscient, omnipotent, etc.," who created the universe "by a caprice very imperfectly benevolent ... begins to be conceived with increasing difficulty."

As for the picture of God in heaven, "sitting on the Cherubim" or riding on a cherub (2 Samuel xxii, 11), and listening to everlasting praises of himself, it is simply appalling. I can no longer adore in a god what I despise in a man.

It is a long but powerful diatribe - so I will skip to the end, and leave it to the readers to explore the depth, strength and power of this statement in toto:

Our earth here! that is parish enough for us. Knowledge relieves miseries, brings comfort, saves lives, spreads beauty within the reach of the poorest. If the billions spent in huge empty buildings were devoted to housing the sick and the poor; if the billions spent on the wages of myriads of clergymen who waste their lives in calling aloud to their god Baal or whatever they call him, were spent in really useful human works, these often well-meaning and often gifted men would not squander so much history, so much power, so much eloquence on the hideous folly that "the fear of god is the beginning of wisdom" and the secret of virtue.

Two hundred million dollars spent this year in this country to adding to the number of half-empty warehouses of piety! Thousands of Ministers warring with one another and with common sense. If there is a god such as they insist on immortalizing from the fancies of ancient and ignorant nomads, what need has he of these innumerable dollars?

If there is a god and he is a god of love, God knows he must wish that his children's treasure and their toil and their fervor should be spent upon one another and on the countless miseries of this unhappy world, which might be made so beautiful. Instead of sanctifying piety, let us make a religion of pity, of mutual help, of the search for truth and power, and the increase of freedom.

 In the heat of the many frays we encounter as atheists, let us take moments to remember the brave hearts who stood against superstition, who fought the good fight, who brought the cold cool light of reason to bear on the atavistic shadows that haunt our species even to this day.

We can only hope that our children, or perhaps our children's children, will be free of the shackles of the oppression men call religion, that instead of searching outwards for some external vindication, they will find all they need in the moments of their lives and in reality.

So say we all?


Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Warren Report - Just Who IS This Guy, Anyways?

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!82037904DM001_McCain_And_Ob

I'd heard/seen these headlines about a pastor arbitrating the Obama/McCain discussion. Of course, this in and of itself is enough to curl my upper left lip into a semi-snarl. I mean, don't we just have a surfeit of these religious folks sticking their noses into the process as is?

So, as the title implies, I began poking around.

I am even less happy now. I am, well, for wont of a better term, horrified that this fellow has the ability to broker anything in our government, let alone a meet for the two presidential candidates.

So let's start out here (mind you, this starts the article, paragraph one no less!):

Rick Warren has Rick Warren syndrome. That's not a joke. He has a brain disorder. "I was born with it," he says. "I went to the Mayo Clinic, and the doctors said, 'We have found a dozen or so other people with this. There's no name, so maybe we'll just call it the Warren syndrome." He describes the ailment's chemistry as an inability to process his body's own adrenaline. Its symptoms are tremors, disorientation and pain, and, as he says, "it makes my brain move very fast." I ask — since a colleague of his has asserted it — whether Warren also has attention deficit disorder. Warren laughs heartily. "Am I ADD? Yeah, I'm probably ADD too."

How much of this impacts his judgment? I don't want to be politically incorrect or mean-spirited, but a brain disorder? He seems to do pretty well despite it - he's authored a number of books, and yes, you guessed it, they're all paeans to his specific superstition.

Here's the thing - this 'Warren's Syndrome' is extremely rare. I couldn't find a flipping thing on it anywhere. I even went as far as the Mayo Clinic's website and search there. Nada.

Another snippet:

A shift away from "sin issues" — like abortion and gay marriage — is reflected in Warren's approach to his coming sit-downs with the candidates. He says he is more interested in questions that he feels are "uniting," such as "poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and human rights," and still more in civics-class topics like the candidates' understanding of the role of the Constitution. There will be no "Christian religion test," Warren insists. "I want what's good for everybody, not just what's good for me. Who's the best for the nation right now?"

Yeah, a 'shift away' my ass. As I understand it, it's an "in for a penny, in for a pound" package.

If Warren were content to be merely the most influential religious figure on the American political scene, that would be significant enough. He isn't. Five years ago, he concocted what he calls the PEACE plan, a bid to turn every single Christian church on earth into a provider of local health care, literacy and economic development, leadership training and spiritual growth. The enterprise has collected testimonials from Bono, the First Couple, Hillary Clinton, Obama, McCain and Graham, who called it "the greatest, most comprehensive and most biblical vision for world missions I've ever heard or read about." The only thing bigger than the plan's sheer nerve is the odds against its completion; there are signs that in the small country Warren has made a laboratory for the plan, PEACE is encountering as many problems as it has solved.

All these assholes must've read the fuzzy wuzzy version, because pretty much anything 'biblical' usually entails huge swathes slaughtered en masse for just about any old damn thing.

During the 2004 presidential election, he seemed to toy with using his new influence to become the next Jerry Falwell or James Dobson. Although he did not officially endorse George W. Bush, the mega-author made no secret of his preference. Two weeks before the election, he sent an e-mail to the several hundred thousand pastors on his mailing list, enumerating "non-negotiable" issues for Christians to consider when casting their votes: abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, euthanasia and human cloning. Shortly after the election, two attendees of a Washington meeting of conservative religious and political heavyweights remember Warren's actively soliciting advice on how he might increase his clout with GOP politicians.

I'm with old James Madison (founding father) - these folks want to stick their nose into the political process? Start paying taxes.

Here's a serious capper:

Warren had an epiphany in 2003. His wife Kay had dedicated herself to the fight against HIV/AIDS, a brave move in a community where it was still often stigmatized. In Africa with her nine months later, he says, he heard a message from above. "God said, 'You don't care squat about the sick and the poor. And you need to change; you need to repent.'" He became fond of repeating that the Bible has 2,000 verses dedicated to the poor and that the Gospel of Matthew contains not only the Great Commission, in which Christ bids his disciples to spread his word, but also the great commandment, in which he tells the Pharisees to love thy neighbor as thyself.

So this clown hears voices. He admits as much here:

I'm willing to admit my presuppositions: there are clues to God. I talk to God every day. He talks to me.

Oh, and the icing on the spoiled cake is, yet another fucktard who thinks evolution is a belief:

If you're asking me do I believe in evolution, the answer is no, I don't. I believe that God, at a moment, created man. I do believe Genesis is literal, but I do also know metaphorical terms are used. Did God come down and blow in man's nose? If you believe in God, you don't have a problem accepting miracles. So if God wants to do it that way, it's fine with me.

And here's a direct statement from the Saddleback Church:

Although it cannot be stated with certainty, it appears that dinosaurs may have actually been mentioned in the Bible. The Bible uses names like "behemoth" and "tannin." Behemoth means kingly, gigantic beasts. Tannin is a term that includes dragon-like animals and the great sea creatures such as whales, giant squid, and marine reptiles like the plesiosaurs that may have become extinct. The Bible's best description of a dinosaur-like animal is in Job chapter 40. We don't know for certain if these are actually dinosaurs or are some other large creatures that became extinct.
This should not sound so strange. After all, God tells us that he created all the land animals on the sixth day of creation, the same day that he created mankind. Man and dinosaurs lived at the same time. There was never a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.

He hears voices on a daily basis. He also admits to having a brain disorder. He (and the other morons in his midst) think that dinosaurs were shoulder-to-shoulder with humanity.

He's a highly functional schizophrenic, is what he is. This guy should be in therapy, not directing anything resembling major political discourse. In short, he and his should butt the fuck out.Why on earth does he have this ability? Well, he's fairly charismatic. He's also made millions on his book (contributed 90% of it to his club, too).

And of course, the addled masses have a soft spot for all that warm 'n cuddly fuzzy wuzzy crap we call religion.

This gets up my nose in so many ways, I should have a deviated septum.

Final analysis: people as a rule aren't able to distinguish teh crazies. Wear a suit, be articulate, brownnose, and have some money is all it takes in this country. Because reason and evidence don't fluff the fuzzy wittwe heart.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Evolutionary Convergence - The Teleological Argument Approached Again

Cross posted @ God is 4 Suckers!Troodondinosauroid

I was reading about this over at PZ Myers' blog about how some claim that similarities in evolutionary pathways indicates some sort of designer's manipulation. Convergent evolution.

And here I will say it: there was a designer, there still is a designer, and the design is ongoing, a work in progress.

The designer that I speak of is the process of evolution. It has no face: no direction: no 'grand purpose' in mind. It just is, and it just does what it does and all the vocabulary and spin and sugar-coating and politics and rhetoric cannot alter that.

The creationist George McReady, spun it thusly:

For instance, we have the shark, the ichthyosaur (an extinct kind of fish-shaped reptile), and the dolphin (a true warmblooded mammal, and not a fish at all), all of which greatly resemble each other in external shape and general appearance. Each has the same long, sharp snout, the same powerful tail, the same general fishlike shape. And yet the first of these is a true fish, the second was just as true a reptile, while the third is a mammal, bringing forth its young alive and feeding them by milk, just as does a cow or a horse, though it lives in the sea.

Here the evolutionists have to say that this peculiar shape and general form has been evolved separately and independently in each of these three instances. Indeed, Henry Fairfield Osborn, President of the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, declares that a very similar shape and form has been independently evolved “at least twenty-four times.”—”Encyc. Brit.,” Vol. XX, p. 578…

From this large group of facts we become convinced that these many similar or identical structures, which must have been evolved quite independently (if evolved at all), make too great a draft on our credulity. At least, these hundreds of examples of “parallel evolution” greatly weaken our confidence in homology, or similarity of parts and organs, as a proof of blood relationship.

Well, no, to be honest, it certainly doesn't stretch my credulity: it's a far leap from the premise 'Look at all the similarities inherent among species' (given that we share a large percentile of DNA with a banana) to 'there's a divine hand behind it all'. If anything, these items reinforce the concept of natural selection. Certain forms work better in the water: other forms work better on the land. We should be surprised to see marine species using flippers instead of four legs, when they swim? It would be more interesting to see a gilled mammal. A literal 'sea-cow', that was gilled, grazed underwater, had four legs and horns, etc.

 So we have evolutionary relay, convergent evolution, and parallel evolution as constructs. No doubt some IDiot will use these as being contradictory to one another, when all three can be used as the situation fits.

As an aside, it amuses me to see how the hereafterians sputter in horror at the concept of a universe lacking a guiding hand. As if left to our own devices, we somehow become a psychopathic bunch of nerve endings unable to restrain our baser impulses.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wherein Rosie O'Donnel Ousts Herself As An Utter Nutcase

I was watching a Youtube clip at work (which sadly, is no longer available - boo-WEEE-ooo! The Illuminati are at it again!) of the View, which I consider pretty much a train wreck of a show anyways (any show that'd let a mental midget like Sherri Shephard on isn't worth watching).

Anyways, about four minutes into the thing, Rosie O'Donnel's asked about whether she believes there was a conspiracy. She answers no, redefines the term, and begins blathering on about WTC building number 7, where she said:

“I do believe that it’s the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel. I do believe that it defies physics that World Trade Center tower 7—building 7, which collapsed in on itself—it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved. World Trade Center 7. World Trade [Center] 1 and 2 got hit by planes—7, miraculously, the first time in history, steel was melted by fire. It is physically impossible.”

This was no stand-up comedy routine - she meant every word of it.

First time in history? Any historians and/or metallurgists watching that clip must've been rolling on the floor. Hello? Iron age? What does she think, that all those blacksmiths forged steel from? How did they do it? Wave a magic freakin' wand?

Anyways, Popular Mechanics pretty much trounced this idiot here, saving me a ton of work.

Personal opinion: stick to stand-up, Rosie. You're better with fantasy than you are with reality.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Allegories Gone Wild - The Roots Of Racial Totentanz

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

pest_totentanz_workshop I stumbled across this recently - turns out that Ben Stein actually won some kind of award for that mindless movie dreck called 'Expelled'. Actually, he's won two.

In this day and age of everyone getting a gold star, a trophy, or even a 'certificate of achievement' (available for a few bucks at any WalMart, OfficeMax or OfficeDepot), this hardly qualifies as more than a yawn.

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular nonsense, Stein attempted to prove that evolution was a 'dogma' in academic circles, blamed 'Darwinism' for the Holocaust, and other risibly specious claims.

While Francis Galton can inherit some of the blame (Darwin's cousin) by trying to apply the measures Darwin codified on a social level, his attempts to 'purify' the 'races' were dubious on ethical and moral grounds.

I note that my favorite primary source, answers.com, actually bypasses a singularly ugly chapter in eugenics history when bracing the subject.

I'm talking about America here, people. Specifically, I'm talking about American evangelists.


The National Purity Evangelist for the WCTU served as a lecturer for the National Purity Association, and a lecturer of the Correspondence School of Gospel and Scientific Eugenics. Her 1906 marriage manual, The Way of God in Marriage, exemplified an effort to weave scientific and biblical authority together into a virtually seamless argument. For this author, whose name was Mary E. Teats, children in the womb could be permanently injured not only by alcohol, but also by sexual intercourse during gestation and even by the mother’s thought processes while carrying her child. Echoing the starkly elitist rhetoric of activists in the eugenical sterilization movement, she proclaimed:

The great and rapidly increasing army of idiots, insane, imbeciles, blind, deaf-mutes, epileptics, paralytics, the murderers, thieves, drunkards and moral perverts are very poor material with which to "subdue the world," and usher in the glad day when "all shall know the Lord, whom to know aright is life everlasting." There are hundreds and thousands of men and women today to whom in the interests of future generations, some rigid law should say, "Write this one childless." Men and women whose habits of life are such as to curse their offspring, should be prohibited from marrying.

In a later section, she connected such unfortunates with Malachi’s prophetic rebuke of postexilic Israel’s offering of blind, lame, and sick animals as sacrifices. She scoffed at the notion that "the lame, halt, deaf, blind, mutes, imbeciles, idiots, drunkards and moral perverts" could be properly called "God-given children," or considered a proper offering and gift to God.

How very...pleasant.

(Snip)One particularly virulent practitioner of a public rhetoric devaluating such persons was John Harvey Kellogg. Kellogg was a colorful character, wearing several hats including medical doctor, educator, theologian, health reformer and inventor of the cornflake. An excommunicated Seventh-Day Adventist, Kellogg used his magazine Good Health to reach a wide audience, and the guest list of his Battle Creek Sanitarium reads like a Who’s Who of American elites of the early twentieth century. Kellogg was convinced that poor dietary and moral habits were leading America down the path of "race degeneration." His solution was eugenics, not merely as a set of policies, but as a quasi-religious ideology.

Well, there goes another brand I'll have to boycott in the interests of social conscience.

To be fair, the author of the document in question is not only a Christian, but outlines religious detractors to the concept. But also to be accurate, it's a far cry from the idiocy Charles Colson tries to propagate when we hear about the 'erosion of Judeo-Christian values' (christlation: "Those folks that AREN'T LIKE US ARE FUCKING EVERYTHING UP!").

But, since the religious are big on beginning sources:

However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. - 1 Peter 2:9


Exodus 19:5,6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then
ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is
mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.

Yeah, we know who got the ball rolling.

'Nuff said./p>


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Terror At The Games - Cry Jihad!

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

fatah_munichYes, it's been four years already. The games are being hosted in China for 2008.

And time for some more negative news about religion - especially one that claims to be 'peaceful':

(Snip) URUMQI, China -- Police shut down the bustling International Bazaar in the capital of China's restive Muslim region of Xinjiang on Friday amid threats from an Islamic group that attackers might target buses, trains and planes during the Olympics.
A sign at the entrance of the bazaar in Urumqi did not explain why the area, surrounded by mosques with minarets, was off limits as the country prepared to kick off the Summer Games thousands of miles (kilometers) away in Beijing.

"Choose your side," says the videotape's speaker, grasping a rifle and dressed in a black turban and camouflage with his face masked. "Do not stay on the same bus, on the same train, on the same plane, in the same buildings or any place the Chinese are," he warns Muslims, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. operation that monitors militant organizations.
The Turkistan Islamic Party is believed to be based across the border in Pakistan, where security experts say core members have received training from al-Qaeda.

Last month, the militant group issued videotaped threats and claimed responsibility for a series of bus bombings in China in recent months. The latest video features graphics similar to ones used earlier: a burning Olympics logo and an explosion imposed over an apparent Olympic venue.
The new video claims the communist government's alleged mistreatment of Muslims justifies holy war. It accuses China of forcing Muslims into atheism by capturing and killing Islamic teachers and destroying Islamic schools, according to the SITE. It also says China's birth control program has forced abortions on Muslim women.

I confess some ambivalence here: on one hand, I decry the use of violence inflicted on innocent passers-by (note the underlined sentence above). On the other hand, the Chinese government is notorious for human rights violations. I may have a bad attitude about Falun Gong, but I don't think they deserve the treatment they've received at the hands of the CCP. Likewise, I don't think any governmental policies should be inflicted at gunpoint, regardless of ideology. But then, I'm a product of middle-class America, where the thought police aren't quite as prevalent.

For those of you too young to remember, the picture that graces this post is from that pivotal moment in 1972 known as the Munich Massacre, perpetrated by the group Black September, a group composed of Muslims.

The things that people will do in the names of their superstitions is staggering.

Likewise, it's not much of a government when it stills dissent. The Uigurians claim they receive a great deal of harassment as well as political problems from the CCP.

It is to shake the head, and wonder where humanity will end up. When ideology of any sort ends up in blows and blood.

Anyone else have thoughts on this matter?

Till the next post then.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Shattering Of The Tablets Of Myth

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!bizarro-moses-ten-commandements

I have mentioned the roots of the Ten Commandments elsewhere - but I stumbled across this excellent article by Richard Carrier recently, and he gives persuasive argument for the root of the laws by which our society actually bides by:

I keep hearing this chant, variously phrased: "The Ten Commandments are the foundation of Western morality and the American Constitution and government." In saying this, people are essentially crediting Moses with the invention of ethics, democracy and civil rights, a claim that is of course absurd. But its absurdity is eclipsed by its injustice, for there is another lawmaker who is far more important to us, whose ideas and actions lie far more at the foundation of American government, and whose own Ten Commandments were distributed at large and influencing the greatest civilizations of the West--Greece and Rome--for well over half a millennia before the laws of Moses were anything near a universal social influence. In fact, by the time the Ten Commandments of Moses had any real chance of being the foundation of anything in Western society, democracy and civil rights had all but died out, never to rise again until the ideals of our true hero, the real man to whom we owe all reverence, were rediscovered and implemented in what we now call "modern democratic principles."

The man I am talking about is Solon the Athenian. Solon was born, we believe, around 638 B.C.E., and lived until approximately 558, but the date in his life of greatest importance to us is the year he was elected to create a constitution for Athens, 594 B.C.E. How important is this man? Let's examine what we owe to him, in comparison with the legendary author (or at last, in legend, the transmitter) of the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments. Solon is the founder of Western democracy and the first man in history to articulate ideas of equal rights for all citizens, and though he did not go nearly as far in the latter as we have come today, Moses can claim no connection to either. Solon was the first man in Western history to publicly record a civil constitution in writing. No one in Hebrew history did anything of the kind, least of all Moses. Solon advocated not only the right but even the duty of every citizen to bear arms in the defense of the state--to him we owe the 2nd Amendment. Nothing about that is to be found in the Ten Commandments of Moses. Solon set up laws defending the principles and importance of private property, state encouragement of economic trades and crafts, and a strong middle class--the ideals which lie at the heart of American prosperity, yet which cannot be credited at all to Moses.

Solon is one of two statues in the Jefferson Reading room - and while we're (slightly) on the topic here, Jefferson's commentary on Fortescue:

In truth, the alliance between Church and State in England has ever made their judges accomplices in the frauds of the clergy; and even bolder than they are. For instead of being contented with these four surreptitious chapters of Exodus, they have taken the whole leap, and declared at once that the whole Bible and Testament in a lump, make a part of the common law; ante 873: the first judicial declaration of which was by this same Sir Matthew Hale. And thus they incorporate into the English code laws made for the Jews alone, and the precepts of the gospel, intended by their benevolent author as obligatory only in foro concientiæ; and they arm the whole with the coercions of municipal law. In doing this, too, they have not even used the Connecticut caution of declaring, as is done in their blue laws, that the laws of God shall be the laws of their land, except where their own contradict them; but they swallow the yea and nay together. Finally, in answer to Fortescue Aland's question why the ten commandments should not now be a part of the common law of England? we may say they are not because they never were made so by legislative authority, the document which has imposed that doubt on him being a manifest forgery.

And this matters, why? Because English law is the basis and backbone of our judiciary system, that's why.

And so a trite refrain rebutted, another fairy tale bites the dust, and reality again - it is far more potent than the gossamer wings of fables, and by far more intriguing.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Violation Of Church And State - Bowing To Mecca (And A Brief Look At Crackergate)

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!DivineInter-X

 A blogversation at the NGB alerted me to this (a fanato-troll there brought this up as a challenge). Apparently, Muslims are getting special treatment - in US schools.

Some public schools and universities are granting Muslim requests for prayer times, prayer rooms and ritual foot baths, prompting a debate on whether Islam is being given preferential treatment over other religions.

The University of Michigan at Dearborn is planning to build foot baths for Muslim students who wash their feet before prayer. An elementary school in San Diego created an extra recess period for Muslim pupils to pray.

Which is an incursion on SOCAS, no matter how it's spun.  While I can understand (barely) how this is going on at Dearborn (given the demographic), this gets more ridiculous:

At George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Muslim students using a "meditation space" laid out Muslim prayer rugs and separated men and women in accordance with their Islamic beliefs.

No, no, and in capitals: NO.

Because the rules for one are the rules for all. I'm all for pluralism and diversity, but as the saying goes - give 'em an inch, they'll take the whole damn ruler. And of course, as the religious always do, they see it the way they call it:

"The whole issue is to provide for a religious foundation for those who are observant while respecting separation of church and state," says Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, based in Los Angeles. Many schools accommodate the Christian and Jewish sabbaths and allow Jewish students to not take tests on religious holidays, he says.

And they allow religious jewelry and yarmulkes, so what? These are not clear intrusions into the schools - prayer mats and foot baths clearly are.

In the San Diego case, a substitute teacher at Carver Elementary School alleged that teachers were indoctrinating students into Islam. The San Diego Unified School District determined that a teacher's aide was wrong to lead Muslim students in prayer. Carver still has a special recess to allow 100 Muslim students to pray.

Should've fired the yobbo.

The ACLU, which has often sued schools for permitting prayer, says it is waiting to see what kind of policy the school settles on before deciding whether to sue. It says promoting prayers is unconstitutional.

"If you start carving out time in the school day that you would not do but for the need to let students pray, then it begins to look like what you're trying to do is to assist religion," says David Blair-Loy, legal director for the ACLU in San Diego.


Thompson says such conflicts are bound to proliferate. He and other Christians, he says, are preparing to ask for equal consideration such as a Christian prayer recess.

"What you're going to see out there is more of these kinds of cases as the Muslim community tests how far it can go in the public school system," he says. "If this can happen for Muslims, it can happen for Christians and other religions."

All this ruckus over gobbledy-gook that doesn't even work anyways. Stupid.

Belief: it's for the hopelessly romantic and the romantically hopeless.

In case anyone hasn't been keeping up with Professor Myers' latest bandwidth gorge - he started here with a newsworthy story about a student getting jacked up over a cracker (guess you'd call that Crackerjacks), and has received a voluminous amount of threats online, via email, etc. Because of course, lunatics wax exceedingly wroth when someone actually cuts through the bullshit and tells them they're smoking ideological crack.

Threads on Pharyngula have bloated to well over a thousand comments (here's one and two of them - three's more than enough to kill off a few precious hours).

That some tasteless, pasty wafer is actually (or symbolically, or whatever) a cannibalistic substitute for an imaginary friend...I'd like to say it beggars the imagination, but it beggars the intelligence, more like.

It makes me wonder if these simpletons actually see the same colors I do.

It is to plotz, sometimes.

Till the next post then.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

What Price, Vendetta?


Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

It is perhaps, no shock to anyone who knows me, that of all the religious hooey that alternately shocks, dismays, or provokes outrage from me, Scientology is in the top three.

I live in Mountain View, and right there on Castro Street, is one of their 'illustrious' churches. Usually, there's a very quiet member passing out literature in front of it, and there has been more than one occasion where Anonymous members donning Vendetta masks have protested it right across the street.

This is a sterling example of how religion gets a free pass in our society. Call yourself a religion, don the mask of 'religious persecution', and reap the perks.

(Having a cadre of lawyers as members probably helps, I might add.)

Now, I disagree with Michael Shermer's take on this particular ballyhoo. These people are dangerous - more so than most of the other fundies we deal with (regionally speaking of course: no doubt there's a few 'good ole boys' in various states who'd pronounce "JEBUS LUVS U!" while booting you in the ribs).

A core precept is Fair Game - put forth by the Mighty Profit Enron Hubbard:

In 1965 Hubbard formulated the "Fair Game Law", which states how to deal with people who interfere with Scientology's activities. These problematic people, called suppressive persons, could be considered "fair game" for retaliation:

A Suppressive Person or Group becomes fair game. By FAIR GAME is meant, may not be further protected by the codes and disciplines or the rights of a Scientologist.

Later in December of that year, Hubbard reissued the Fair Game policy with additional clarifications to define the scope of Fair Game. He made it clear that the policy applied to non-Scientologists as well. He declared:

The homes, property, places and abodes of persons who have been active in attempting to: suppress Scientology or Scientologists are all beyond any protection of Scientology Ethics, unless absolved by later Ethics or an amnesty ... this Policy Letter extends to suppressive non-Scientology wives and husbands and parents, or other family members or hostile groups or even close friends.

Hubbard made it clear elsewhere in his writings that the policy would be applied to external organizations, including governments, that were guilty of having interfered with Scientology's activities. He told Scientologists:

If the Internal Revenue Service (in refusing the FCDC [Founding Church of Scientology, Washington DC] non-profit status) continues to act up or if the FDA does sue we can of course Comm Ev [Committee of Evidence] them and if found guilty, label and publish them as a Suppressive Group and fair game ... [N]one is fair game until he or she declares against us.

The policy was further extended in an October 1967 Policy Letter (HCOPL 18 Oct 67 Issue IV, Penalties for Lower Conditions), where Hubbard defined the "penalties" for an individual deemed to be in a "Condition of Enemy":

ENEMY — SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.

When a man named Peter Goodwin in Hampshire, England purchased a high-level Scientology course for £250 and resold it to friends for £50, Hubbard personally issued an Ethics order which "withdrew any future help from Goodwin and his associates, (presumably for eternity), and threatened the most dire retaliations."

If you read further down the link, you will find that Hubbard back-pedaled a bit, changing stances as circumstances warranted. But I've no doubt there's more than a few Scienmythologists who'd have any SP's head on a plate if they could.

ABC News has this report:

Over the past few months, Anonymous has picketed and protested at Scientology centers around the world from Australia and Atlanta to Brussels and Boston. They've also hacked into the church's Web site, posted numerous videos on YouTube criticizing the church and have been accused of harassing church officials.

Now the church is fighting back with its own public relations onslaught, releasing a recent video titled "Anonymous Exposed," which identifies individual it said were members of the group and accuses them of being accessories to criminal acts that include death threats and destruction of property.

"We wanted people who were unaware of what's going on to know about the criminal acts permitted by their leaders," church spokeswoman Karin Pouw told ABCNEWS.com, adding that the church is working with federal and local law enforcement. "[The video] summarizes our position."

Anonymous (members), of course, deny many of these allegations:

"Anonymous contains all kinds of individuals, academics, college students, members of law enforcement, media professionals and blue collar workers," a 25-year-old member of Anonymous with a computer science background told ABCNEWS.com in an e-mail, on the condition that he remain unidentified. "We are united by a mind-set, not by a membership card… We have no leaders and adhere to the true definition of a collective."

Responding to claims made in the church's video and statements from Church of Scientology leaders equating Anonymous with domestic terrorists, the Anonymous member wrote:

"Anonymous does not support, encourage or condone threats of violence in our campaign against Scientology. The 'bomb threat' video was reported to the FBI and to the media as soon as it was seen on YouTube. They were both told that this video was not produced by Anonymous."

So of course, Hubbardologists have made the usual spurious claims. Cries of 'persecution!', etc. Denial-of-service attacks launched at their websites. Then again, cry me a frelling river. Weren't these the same assholes who launched a 24 year attack on the IRS, using 'terrorist' tactics until they became tax-exempt? Yes, they were.

Boo-fucking-hoo, then. Turnabout's fair play, as the saying goes.

Once again, some UFOologists dive under that ridiculous umbrella of protection that is provided via government sanction, proclaiming an argumentum ad numerum as sufficient grounds to protect them against criticism no matter how rightful that critique might be, giving them a degree of cart blanch that non-religious aren't allowed to have.

In short, the nutters among us get more privilege. More protection. More say.

It is to cringe.

Till the next post, then.