left biblioblography: March 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Funny – Frisky Dingo

I’ve mentioned before, that I really liked this show. Sadly, it only went 2 seasons, and Adultswim didn’t renew.




Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Invention Of Lying – A Movie Review

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace – Imagine, John Lennon

I recently watched this movie, and I have to say: I absolutely loved it.

Because, let’s admit it – as an atheist, I cannot abide dishonesty. It was the initial attraction it had for me after all. The uncompromising pedantry, the brutal clinical analysis of details, the utter logic of it. And religious people? They lie. Perhaps in small ways, even more so in large ways. The mental gymnastics of rationalizing their worldview, the  semantic dishonesty, the dance of belief so fragile that a light wind can shatter it and the denial afterwards.

So the plotline was a refreshing concept: a parallel world where nobody understands the concept of lying. Wow. What I wouldn’t give to live there, I tells ya. You’d know where you stood immediately with anyone you’d meet. Conversations where people never ever used ‘weasel words’. If you were going to score, you’d know it. Ask a question, and there’s no dancing about, just a straight answer.

And one of the more beautiful aspects of the flick, is that there was no such thing as religion. Not one jot nor tittle.

So one day, as shown in the trailer, Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) lies and gets more money from the bank than he has. He begins to experiment with this newfound ‘power’, much to our collective amusement.

And the big hit at the Judeo-Christian religion, is when his mother is lying in bed, scared of death, not wanting to go into cold nothingness, and Mark makes up a huge fib about what is obviously termed heaven here, and is overheard by the doctor and nurses. The ‘word’ spreads like wildfire, and people begin camping on his doorstep. So Mark writes the ‘nine commandments’ on the back of two pizza boxes, and addresses the crowd by telling them about the ‘man in the sky’. Much hilarity ensues.

I rather liked the subplot, where Mark is trying to woo Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner), who isn’t interested in him at all, and…well, watch the movie. Some critics didn’t like the idea of a dumpy little guy getting a hottie, but it does happen, and screw those shallow pricks anyways.

And some of the religious kooks weren’t too hot about it, anyways:

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film the three and a half stars out of four saying "in its amiable, quiet, PG-13 way, [it] is a remarkably radical comedy" while Empire gave the film 1 star out of 5 saying the "ramshackle plot detours into a hideously ill-conceived religious satire". The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops rated The Invention of Lying as "O - morally offensive"] However, Xan Brooks of The Guardian was more favourable, giving the film four out of five stars, although he was critical of some aspects: "It is slick and it is funny. But it is also too obviously schematic, while that romantic subplot can feel awfully synthetic at times."

But hey, if you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined the race.

Anyways, till the next post.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Speaking Of Equinoxes….

Here’s a film that I saw as a child – and even as a little kid, I realized how truly laughable the film was. Truly among the worst (and unintentionally hilarious) films ever made. It’s got everything: a mad scientist, visits to the loony bin, giant monsters, demonic possession – yes folks, a perfect example of Hollyweird’s effort to pack too much content into too little time.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Allegories Gone Wild – Newton’s Nuttiness

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!isaacnewtongrave

Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors. – Isaac Newton

So, here’s the question: how many of you, in your travails amid the blogosphere, have had this canard trotted out? They’ll trot out a famous name: “Hey look, this brilliant genius way back when believed in gawd, and he was RILLY RILLY smart!”

Not only is this an argument from authority, it obviously only uses selected highlights to lure in the believer. Arthur Conan Doyle believed in faeries in his senile dementia, John Nash Jr. had schizophrenia, Bobby Fisher not only got involved with an apocalyptic church but he’s also a raving anti-Semite, Anatoly Fomenko is by all accounts a brilliant mathematician but also a crazed historical revisionist….but I think you’ve caught the gist of it. Or as an old co-worker of mine once said, “Just because you’re smart, doesn’t mean you’re not stupid.”

Isaac Newton is indeed one of these. A brilliant physicist, one of those ‘somebodies’ the religious trot out to prove a point. However, by today’s standards, old Isaac was…well, for want of a better word, a bit of a fruitcake:

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727), the noted English scientist and mathematician, wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies.

These occult works explored chronology, alchemy, and Biblical interpretation (especially of the Apocalypse).


Newton's scientific work may have been of lesser personal importance to him, as he placed emphasis on rediscovering the occult wisdom of the ancients. In this sense, some have commented that the common reference a "Newtonian Worldview" as being purely mechanistic is somewhat inaccurate. After purchasing and studying Newton's alchemical works in 1942, economist John Maynard Keynes, for example, opined that "Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians."

Obviously not the magician in the same sense as Houdini.

In the pre-Modern Era of Newton's lifetime, the educated embraced a world view different from that of later centuries. Distinctions between science, superstition, and pseudoscience were still being formulated, and a devoutly Christian Biblical perspective permeated Western culture.

Like I said, selected highlights. Skipping to the ‘selected highlights’ (hehehehe):

Of the material sold during the 1936 Sotheby's auction, several documents indicate an interest by Newton in the procurement or development of The Philosopher's Stone. Most notably are documents entitled, "Artephius his secret Book", followed by "The Epistle of Iohn Pontanus, wherein he beareth witness of ye book of Artephius", these are themselves a collection of excerpts from another work entitled, "Nicholas Flammel, His Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures which he caused to be painted upon an Arch in St Innocents Church-yard in Paris. Together with The secret Booke of Artephius, And the Epistle of Iohn Pontanus: Containing both the Theoricke and the Practicke of the Philosophers Stone". This work may also have been referenced by Newton in its Latin version found within Lazarus Zetzner's, "Theatrum Chemicum", a volume often associated with the Turba Philosophorum and other early European alchemical manuscripts. Nicolas Flamel, (one subject of the aforementioned work) was a notable, though mysterious figure, often associated with the discovery of The Philosopher's Stone, Hieroglyphical Figures, early forms of tarot, and occultism. Artephius, and his "secret book", were also subjects of interest to 17th Century alchemists.

Somehow, Dawkins’ refrain of not being so open-minded one’s brains spill out springs to mind. His library on alchemy sounds like an incredible waste of time.

Newton studied and wrote extensively upon the Temple of Solomon, dedicating an entire chapter of "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms" to his observations regarding the temple. Newton's primary source for information was the description of the structure given within 1 Kings of the Hebrew Bible, which he translated himself from the original Hebrew.

The temple of Solomon? You mean that edifice that is thoroughly lacking in any archeological evidence whatsoever?

Oh, and talk about delusional:

Newton considered himself to be one of a select group of individuals who were specially chosen by God for the task of understanding Biblical scripture. He was a strong believer in prophetic interpretation of the Bible, and like many of his contemporaries in Protestant England, he developed a strong affinity and deep admiration for the teachings and works of Joseph Mede. Though he never wrote a cohesive body of work on Prophecy, Newton's belief led him to write several treatises on the subject, including an unpublished guide for prophetic interpretation entitled, "Rules for interpreting the words & language in Scripture". In this manuscript he details the necessary requirements for what he considered to be the proper interpretation of the Bible.

Mild messianic complex, anybody?

In addition, Newton would spend much of his life seeking and revealing what could be considered a Bible Code.

(Points to head, rotating index finger, whistling.)

He placed a great deal of emphasis upon the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, writing generously upon this book and authoring several manuscripts detailing his interpretations.

Perhaps the most crazed book of that diatribe of shepherd tales.

Unlike a prophet in the true sense of the word, Newton relied upon existing Scripture to prophesy for him, believing his interpretations would set the record straight in the face of what he considered to be "so little understood".

And yet, so few believers know that this even exists. So much for being ‘chosen’.

In 1754, twenty-seven years after his death, Isaac Newton's treatise, "An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture" would be published, and though it does not argue any prophetic meaning, it does exemplify what Newton considered to be just one popular misunderstanding of Scripture.

But today, in the 21st century, our understanding is exemplary: the bible is crap, scripture is nonsense.

Although Newton's approach to these studies could not be considered a 'scientific' approach, he did write as if his findings were the result of evidentially-based research.

Of course he did: don’t they all? Isn’t that the whole point of presuppositionalism?

And dig this – he thought Atlantis was real:

Found within "The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms", are several passages that directly mention the mythical land of Atlantis. The first such passage is part of his Short Chronical which indicates his belief that Homer's Ulysses left the island of Ogygia in 896 BC. In Greek Mythology, Ogygia was home to Calypso, the daughter of Atlas (after whom Atlantis was named). Some scholars have suggested that Ogygia and Atlantis are locationally connected, or possibly the same island. From his writings it appears Newton may have shared this belief. Newton also lists Cadis or Cales as possible candidates for Ogygia, though does not cite his reasons for believing so. Within the same material Newton mentions that according to ancient sources, Atlantis had been as big as all Europe, Africa and Asia, but was sunk into the Sea.

Is there an emoticon for ‘tasered into disbelief’?

Enough. I believe my point has been made. In summation, Newton was a phenomenal physicist, and we still employ many Newtonian principles to this day. But his religious (and yes, occult) beliefs would serve to get him laughed at in many venues in our century as well as the last. He is, in short, the last person on earth anyone should use as an argument from authority in relation to their belief system.

And to top this minor post off, here’s a link to an essay by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, titled the Perimeter Of Ignorance, which is far more eloquent than I could ever hope to be.

Till the next post, then.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kissing The Blarney Stone – But Keep It PG-13, Me Bucko…

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

FUstpatty01 There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were. – Old Irish saying

Being half Irish myself, I find the Sons of Eire a delightful lot. They appreciate a good song, a good toast, a good joke and a good story. Of course, a steady diet of wine, women and song tends to be a little less healthy, but so be it.

It’s a big holiday in the US, there’s no doubt about it. It seems like many ethnicities get at least one day apiece (some of them even get an entire month), and the Irish are no exception. My preference would be that we call it Shamrock Day, as the notion of ‘saints’ becomes ever more anachronistic with the passing of time.

So who was this ‘Saint Patrick’?

Saint Patrick (Latin: Sanctus Patricius, Irish: Naomh Pádraig) (c. 387 – 17 March, 493) was a Romanized-Celt, a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognised patron saint of Ireland (although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints).

Two authentic letters from him survive, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16 he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked.

By the eighth century he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland. The Irish monastery system evolved after the time of Patrick and the Irish church did not develop the diocesan model that Patrick and the other early missionaries had tried to establish.

Most available details of his life are from later hagiographies from the seventh century onwards, and these are not now accepted without detailed criticism. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster would imply that he lived from 340 to 440, and ministered in what is modern day northern Ireland from 428 onwards. The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty, but on a widespread interpretation he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century.Saint Patrick's Day (17 March) is celebrated both in and outside of Ireland, as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland it is a both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation and outside of Ireland, it can be a celebration of Ireland itself.

Most of what little is known has been pieced together, but here we can cut straight to the blarney, lads and lasses:

Pious legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island, though all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes; one suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place, as shown for instance on coins minted in Gaul (see Carnutes), or that it could have referred to beliefs such as Pelagianism, symbolised as “serpents”. Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God' (as opposed to the Arian belief that was popular in Patrick's time)

Methinks me spies a wee bit of a yarn there.

Some Irish legends involve the Oilliphéist, the Caoránach, and the Copóg Phádraig. During his evangelizing journey back to Ireland from his parent's home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood walking stick or staff. He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was evangelizing and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.

It took him no small turn of the clock to finally sell his snake-oil, no doubt. There’s more, but we Irish are a long-winded lot and enjoy makin’ a story where none is needed (for an example of this, ask the price of a vegetable from a grocer anywhere in Eire, and you’ll likely be regaled with a long history of that particular legume’s lineage). If you take the time to study pagan Irish mythology, you’ll find a huge diversity equal to any evolutionary tree.

Anywhoways, have a happy Shamrock day, and do drink green beer responsibly.

'Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arís.' (May we be alive at this time next year.)



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Funny – The Single Most Hysterical Moment In ‘Borat’

This clip ALWAYS brings tears of laughter to my eyes:



Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Devil Made Them Do It? Sorry, Padre, No Absolution For You, As There’s No Such Critter…

Cross posted @ God is 4 suckers!priggfdgee

And of course, with the latest spate of child abuse scandals rocking the Catholic Church, who you gonna blame?

That’s right – the devil:

Holy See's chief exorcist about abuse charges in Catholic Church: Satan is at work inside Vatican

Did the devil make them do it?

I think the answer should be obvious on this one.

The recent spate of sexual abuse allegations rocking the Catholic Church show that "the Devil is at work inside the Vatican," Father Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist of the Holy See, told the Times of London.

An exorcist? You mean the poor man’s version of a psychotherapist – somebody who has absolutely no clue about how reality works?

"When one speaks of 'the smoke of Satan' in the holy rooms, it is all true – including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia," Amorth told the newspaper.

That’s probably somebody just taking hits off their bong – come to think about it, it would explain a lot.

Amorth, who told the paper, that he knows a thing or two about exorcisms having handled 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said the Holy See was infested with "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the demon."

So, there’s about 70,000 people out there who were psychologically traumatized by this fake shaman? The head shudders.

Amorth's accusations come at a time when the Vatican is facing scrutiny on a number of fronts:

Doesn’t matter – a Catholic priest AND an exorcist? Talk about the medium of irrelevance.

* One of Pope Benedict's ceremonial ushers was among those implicated in a gay prostitution ring – after being caught on a police wiretap.

* Catholic authorities in Germany on Wednesday announced a probe into allegations the Regensburger Domspatzen Boys Choir – once led by the Pope's older brother.

* Major pedophilia cases involving priests have also surfaced in Ireland and the United States.

"Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God," Father José Antonio Fortea Cucurull, another exorcist, told the Times of London. "To affirm that some cardinals are members of satanic sects is an unacceptable distance."

Well folks, the jig is up. There’s no one up in the clouds, or beneath us in the dirt. So there’s no more hiding behind vestments and imaginary people.

The days of blaming deities for one’s problems are over. Finito. Ended. No more. No ghosts, goblins, angels, devils, fucking phantasms to blame for your spasms (or illegal orgasms).

It’s time humanity came fully into the 21st century. Kicking and screaming or weeping and the rending of ash cloth, it doesn’t matter.

Live in the real world, with the rest of us.

Till the next post, then.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tuesday Funny – Classic Family Guy Moment

I think the clip is pretty self-explanatory:



Saturday, March 06, 2010

Because Nothing Brings People Together Like Religion – Unless Of Course, You’re Gay In Uganda

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

gay_witch_hunt_in_uganda (Hat tip to Andrew Brown at the Guardian)

A gay witch hunt in Uganda

Why are the English archbishops silent over Uganda's grotesque anti-homosexuality bill?

A bill currently before the Ugandan parliament (pdf) proposes seven year prison sentences for discussing homosexuality; life imprisonment for homosexual acts; and death for a second offence. Sober observers believe it will be passed. The Anglican church in Uganda appears to support it, and the Church of England in this country is absolutely silent. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester solemnly denounce violence in the Congo, where they have no influence at all, but on Uganda they maintain a resolute post-colonial silence.

The position of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is more complicated, and his silence more eloquent. He is himself Ugandan by birth. One of his younger half-brothers, pastor Robert Kayanja, is a highly successful pentecostal preacher in Kampala, running a church called the Rubaga Miracle Centre. Such people are highly rewarded, and the business is extremely competitive. A rival preacher, the gloriously named Solomon Male of the The Arising Church was accused this spring of kidnapping Kayanga's assistant and torturing him for five days to get him to confess that his boss was gay and partial to young men.

So…churches are big business in Uganda? Somehow this is no surprise. That these backwards assholes are discriminating based on sexual preference? It takes religion to do that. So, just who started this nonsense in the first place? Why, surprise! It was a Christian Fundamentalist group:

A United States fundamentalist group is at the heart of Uganda's anti-gay law. Originally known as The Fellowship, an international organization founded in 1935, today it is known as 'The Family', described by Jeff Sharlet in his book The Family: Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, who investigates the political power of 'The Family', a secretive fundamentalist Christian association. 'The Family', under the reclusive leadership of Douglas Coe, is described by prominent evangelical Christians as one of the most, or the most, politically well-connected fundamentalist organizations in the United States.

Ugandan lawmaker and alleged member of the 'The Family', David Bahati sponsored Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, also known as the "Bahati Bill".

That these maniacs have in-roads to our government is scary enough. But that they can prevail on foreign governments to discriminate against their own citizenry? That’s just bugfuck crazy.

And America’s favorite ferret minister, the inestimable Rick Warren, while not at the heart of this, is still a voice in the chaos (but not one of reason):

The Ugandan parliament is currently considering an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” under which any person “convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment.” If that person is HIV positive or has sex with a minor or a person with a disability, he or she would be guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” and face the death penalty. The bill also proposes up to three years of imprisonment for anyone who “fails to report within 24 hours the identities of everyone they know who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, or who supports human rights for people who are.” The bill would even “apply to Ugandans who commit homosexual offences, but who live overseas.” There are approximately 500,000 gay men and women living in Uganda.

Half a million? Get ready for the next big genocide, folks.

Pastor Rick Warren — whom President Obama controversially chose to deliver the invocation at his inauguration — is now refusing to condemn Bahati’s bill, which has been endorsed by Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa. Ssempa has been welcomed by Warren’s family and made appearances at his church. Newsweek reports that although Warren has distanced himself from Ssempa’s views, he won’t come out against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations in anybody else’s business.

There, fixed that one for you, you weasel.

Really, the politicians of this country need to realize that civil rights are more important than the votes of some crazy ass fairy-begging fuck who can’


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday Funny – Mo And Jesus

Truly a classic (click on the picture for a larger image):