left biblioblography: August 2008

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.