Tuesday, December 23, 2008

News for the Week

Since we won't have a regular show for the next couple of weeks, I'll be keeping the blog updated with interesting news in the world of religion.

First up: Scrupulosity Disorder. In this article, about a study coming out of Brigham Young University, we discover a form of religious obsessive compulsion, revolving around "obsessive doubt about moral behavior often resulting in compulsive religious observance." The study apparently says that such behavior can result in "depression, apathy, isolation and even suicide." There's a lot of line-drawing confusion coming up in this issue as the problem stems across all religious beliefs and certain treatments and approaches will therefore be valued null or negative between different cases. Interesting stuff. I hope to be able to read the actual research when I return to the University. In the mean time you can find the article for sale here at The Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

Next: Bad Time Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches. In this report we discover that as the recession hits Americans hard they are being knocked off their feet and onto their butts...in pews. As Rev. A.R. Bernard says, "It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us. When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors." Wow, that's sweet--yeah, a real sweet sentiment. Other people's suffering is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their vulnerability and fill their moment of emptiness with something equally empty, but providing the illusion of fulfillment.

Rev. Don MacKintosh said, "I found it very exciting...We need to leverage this moment, because every Christian revival in this country’s history has come off a period of rampant greed and fear. That’s what we’re in today — the time of fear and greed." Indeed. Yes, you will grow because of the common folk's fear of recession and your greed.

Yes, I know perhaps I'm being a bit shortsighted, and perhaps some of these preachers have good intentions at heart, but at the very core of it is the outright exploitation of people in need.

Third on the list: We have the Vatican in the news in two very unfortunate ways. First, in their Dignitas Personae and second in the pope's statement against homo/transsexual people. According to the New York Times the document titled Dignitas Personae, "ratchets up the church’s condemnations of embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, the “morning-after pill” and a host of other techniques it regards as violations of human dignity." Great. Just what we need. The religion that influences the minds of at least one fourth of the American public sends out a statment that attempts to even further stagnate the push for basic human rights. At the very least be honest with us! It's not a violation of so-called "human dignity," it's a violation of your god's wishes. You don't really want to protect human interests here on Earth, so much as you want to ensure you avoid infuriating the big man upstairs as long as you can.

And the pope's statement against the gays and trannies is just abominable. Apparently saving the world from homosexual acts is just as much an imperative as saving the environment is. I really can't think of anyting coherent to say about this at the moment. Just read the article and decide for yourself.

All the same, it was not even what I read about the pope's statement that infuriated me the most--it was what I learned when I read something else in a sister article.

The pope’s remarks come on the heels of the Vatican's refusal to join a United Nations appeal for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality launched on December 18 by 66 countries, not including the United States which also refused to sign the non-binding declaration.

Now, granted I don't know all the facts about the situation, but I'm failing to see how there could be any decent excuse for the United States abstaining from a measure like that. There are some truely terrible things going on in this world, and it's mostly centered around our lack of moving forward into the future, our fear of leaving behind the old, outdated moral code, and adopting a new one, one that includes everyone.

More from the world of gay: Apparently, Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration and this has started quite the uproar in the gay community. Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," is reported to be "an outspoken opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage." I think Gene Robinson, openly gay bishop in the Episcopalian Church says it best when he said:

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation.”

What on Earth is Obama thinking, putting, at the front of his presidency, a man who so clearly is in opposition to what Obama told us he was about? This is despicable, and while I hope Obama will change his mind, I'm not holding my breath. I will be working at the inauguration and will almost certainly get to hear the speech live and in person. I'll let you all know what I think.

And last: an update on the Washington State Christmas display scandal. Now a Festivus pole will soon be joining the Nativity and the Atheist sign. Merry-freakin-Chrsitmas! I love it.

Well, that's all for now folks. I'll be back in a few weeks with another news update, or, perhaps, a rant. Right now I need to get to bed so I'm all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for Christmas Eve. That's right--the Evangelical Atheist is giong to be celebrating Christmas and enjoying every minute of it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Mail

I recently came into contact with a conservative Christian who had some rather...unorthodox views. See for yourself. As an aside, my Youtube account has a notification in it's description calling for any religious person to provide evidence for their religion, seeing as the vast majority seem content with quoting their scriptures or offering a simple command to repent or die. It was this, he claimed, that spurred him to contact me.

I accidentally deleted the first comment he made. Basically, he was claiming to prove that I was "lost," and gave me a link to a site called Return of the Nephilim, which was steeped in UFO conspiracy theories loosely tied to Christian eschatology.

Here was my reply to some of the things I found on the site:
The last site I saw which suggested that our problems were in part extraterrestrial was the Joy of Satan. Before that, it was the Scientologists. As a general rule, I never believe UFO cults and I take conspiracy theorists' words with a grain of salt. Let me guess: 9/11 was done by the Rothschilds in conjunction with the Freemasons, right?

But that aside...

Matthew 24:37 refers to the "days of Noe," which is correct on your part, because the Nephilim were the supposed reason for the Flood (despite no evidence in the fossil record of any significant veering off in an entirely new direction, ending in a sudden mass extinction). However, the passage had not only described in some detail the actual apocalypse, which made NO reference to the Nephilim (understandable because they had been killed in the Flood), but also gives a false prophecy, claiming that the generation Jesus speaks to will not be gone before the Second Coming (Matthew 24:34).

For a more serious objection to the entire idea of non-redemption through hybridization, it is not mentioned exactly why there would be no redemption. Impurity was a an ancient Hebrew concept which is not followed by Christians today, unless you still consider mixing of the races a sin as they did. Angelic beings and human beings supposedly both have free will, which is what most Christians (aside from Calvinists and some other groups) consider to be essential for salvation, the ability to choose to be saved. Thus, hybridization between men and angels is not valid grounds to reject the possibility of redemption.

Let's also remember, this is God. He can snap his fingers and find a far more humane way of dealing with these unruly angels than to drown all of them. And yes, I am questioning his decision, because there is a question to be asked. If he has every option available to him (being omnipotent), why choose that one over something equally effective yet more compassionate?

The idea of a messiah and of atonement was not even PRESENT at the time that the Book of Genesis was written, so why assign future values to past peoples? If we are to understand the Old Testament, we can only understand it in the context in which it was written, which means that we simply can not force ideologies into it which were not there.

There's a wealth of other information on why a global flood would be next to impossible, as well, so I won't elaborate on that.

So now you can understand why your ideas aren't taking on. If I may suggest a few articles to you...

His reply:
i appreciate and commend your willingness and so far openness to discuss.

as for the nephilim, i need not and do not want to put emphasis on them alone. it is just that the website is called "return of the nephilim." as to the identity of "extraterrestrial greys", the book Communion, by Whitely Streiber, a multiple abductee, shows unintended parrallels between close encounters of the third kind and demon violation spanning consecutive centuries.

the flood was not done due to angelic-human intermarriage, so far there is no evidence for this claim alone. genesis teaches that the flood was God's judgement on the wickedness of man and the evil rife in the world.

as for God using a flood instead of making everyone but noah and his family drop dead, a flood leaves evidence, which we see today, that God has already and is willing and capable of judging mankind.

i only recommended return of the nephilim as it carries a main theme, the "ufo" activity of demons. i did however say not to consider every word of it. there is a lot of crap in books and online.

and yeah, i love what you call "conspiracy theories." some are baloney, rather obviously, but there are sources, such as alex jones, who show evidence for each of their claims.

all the best.

may the force be with you..............

My Reply:
Assuming for a moment that abductions exist, there is nothing suggesting them to be "demon" related. In all likelihood, it's aliens which have been misconstrued as demons. However, I will stress that it might be something completely different,as every age has a different way of explaining phenomena.

For example, demon possessions are today understood through psychology, whereas they were understood in the past as being caused by malevolent spirits. Old theories are discarded and new ones replace them, just as the idea of demons died out a long time ago in most scholarly discourse in favor of better explanations of what we see in the world.

And no, there is no evidence of a global flood. I know of no reliable geologists or paleontologists who hold to that claim, because they tend to know what evidence is present in an ancient flood, evidence which is not present on a global scale. That, and we are still faced with the reason WHY that flood was necessary, a question that can be understood through our understanding of the culture in which the texts were written, but not through actual history or a logical analysis of the character of Yahweh.

His Reply:
you write: Assuming for a moment that abductions exist, there is nothing suggesting them to be "demon" related. In all likelihood, it's aliens which have been misconstrued as demons. However, I will stress that it might be something completely different,as every age has a different way of explaining phenomena.

every abduction account suggests that aliens are demons, as biblically and historically described.

you write: For example, demon possessions are today understood through psychology, whereas they were understood in the past as being caused by malevolent spirits. Old theories are discarded and new ones replace them, just as the idea of demons died out a long time ago in most scholarly discourse in favor of better explanations of what we see in the world.

escusemoi, have yo come across the possession of annaliese michel? psychology does not and cannot explain everything. the idea of demons did not die out a long time ago. real demons are alive and well among us this very day. go to an average bookstore, and go to the "mind, body and spirirt" section, and see how many books there are about "demon spirit contact". there is a market for it becuase people devotedly practice "necromancy" because it is real contact with spirits. however, those who practise it do not know who or what those "spirits" really are.

you write: And no, there is no evidence of a global flood. I know of no reliable geologists or paleontologists who hold to that claim, because they tend to know what evidence is present in an ancient flood, evidence which is not present on a global scale. That, and we are still faced with the reason WHY that flood was necessary, a question that can be understood through our understanding of the culture in which the texts were written, but not through actual history or a logical analysis of the character of Yahweh.

do you know of kent hovind?

My final reply:
"every abduction account suggests that aliens are demons, as biblically and historically described"

You'd need positive evidence claiming them to be something rather than aliens. Until then, all you're doing is speculating. Thus far, the dominant theory has been extraterrestrial, though even this is based upon pure speculation. You would also need to point out that the Old Testament was referring to alien abductions. I'd be more at ease with actual biblical scholars suggesting that, but thus far I have found none who make such claims.

"escusemoi, have yo come across the possession of annaliese michel?"
After a little research into Anneliese Michel, I've already found that she had suffered from a number of different psychiatric problems prior to the possession and was already intensely religious, which would make it all the more likely that she would interpret mental illness as being supernatural and demonic in cause.

"go to an average bookstore, and go to the "mind, body and spirirt" section, and see how many books there are about "demon spirit contact""

Don't assume something is true because Barnes & Noble has a section of books devoted to it. Half the books in those areas don't even fit the criteria most researchers would demand. Obviously, I can't be trusted to dissect each of them, but I can at least understand where they're coming from. A number are very uncritical and are only meant to pique the interest of people who like ghost stories, or they are meant for people such as Wiccans, Qabaalists, or Satanists, who have very unorthodox views anyway. I have yet to see a spirit, so I feel that I do have reason to be skeptical.

"do you know of kent hovind?"
The young earth creationist who got his degree from a diploma mill and was convicted of embezzling money? Yeah, and I don't happen to take his ideas as being reliable for obvious reasons. [CORRECTION: Hovind actually went to prison for tax offenses]

At this point, he stopped replying. I've seen plenty of people with very odd views, especially on Youtube, which tends to swarm with all sorts of strange people (I once found a page devoted to the teachings of the Black Israelites), but this guy is up there on my weird meter. It's enough to half convince me that I was talking to a troll. He did seem to know a little bit about certain things, though, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Not that it helped his argument much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We Get Mail!

Since we're not exactly the hottest thing out there right now and aren't getting a flood of e-mail, I thought I'd share this one with you since I thought it was fairly interesting and, despite a progressively deteriorating use of language, is fairly indicative of the average fundie Christian in general. First his message, and then my response:

Science and Religion Clash

Intelligent design is no less far from the scientific method than evolution or spontaneous generation. It is the theory of how everything in this world is so uniform that it must have been created by a powerful force with intelligence and therefore living. I’m not referring to creationism, strictly defined as the universe being created in 6- 24 hour days. The Bible does not specify that, rather days are a period of time, not the whole universe but just the earth could have been created in- say 6- 20,000 year ‘days’.. The contrasting theory is that everything came from a singularity, the concept of something or the lack there of, with no time, space, matter, or energy. The foundation of the Big Bang Theory is more inconclusive on where the energy came from to create all existing matter and energy than that a designer had first created time and hence in theory infinitely exists. Spontaneous generation is the theory of life emerging from molecules in a ‘soup’. Those molecules of organic elements are believed to have formed into amino acids eventually becoming a single celled organism that could grow and reproduce, eventually becoming intelligent enough to comprehend, wonder, imagine and love while putting together this e-mail. The chances of the compounds forming amino acids and then DNA are extremely slim by themselves, let alone in such a hostile condition of the early earth. Evolution is flawed simply by the understanding that cells cannot mutate what there is no original formula to make. Such as fish scales eventually becoming bird feathers. The chances of a mutation being beneficial such as enabling a fish to grow legs and only breathe are almost as slim as the amino acids forming, 1 in 1000, I believe. The rest are mostly neutral and some harmful.
There is a point of rationality that is irrational, fogging the view, refusing to see potential because the laws seem to contradict it. Einstein altered Newton’s accepted laws. Has evolution been successful in making man better, more peaceful (Matthew 24:1-14) or smarter potentially? I bet thousand year old Egyptians could hack a computer if exposed to the same environment a skilled hacker has been exposed to.

You discussed the hypocrisy of religion in particular: Christendom. Look up Matthew 24:23-26 and think twice about referring to all Christianity as hypocrisy built on lies and fear.

The attitude: “Why should what God say go?”
(From a Bible perspective, not atheist or Hindu or the couple who want an open marriage and to believe in God)
“Father knows best”, so just because the neighbor tells me to do it means I can go against him cause I’m myself?
“God Is Love” 1 John 4:8
Questioning God’s right and just ability to rule is the very theme of the Bible. In the beginning…God Created man. Adam and Eve, the Bible’s first humans lived in perfection, they were created in God and Jesus’ likenesses, that is, possessing the quality of love. They also had free will, deciding what they want to do when. Their choice whether or not in accordance with the laws of their maker. One angel chose to go against God, he wanted glory from the creation. In the form of a serpent he approached Eve and told her to eat from the only tree forbidden to them. He implied that God was holding something back from them when he gave this command. That although they were told in that day (again day being a longer period of time) they would die. The devil told otherwise, in that day they would know right from wrong and become like God himself. They died and passed death and imperfection onto their children. The question is, are humans better off without their guide to slaughter and to hate?
And what of Hellfire? Simply it is a miss interpretation. Hades or She’ol are other names, just a reference to the grave were everyone who has died goes. The dead are unconscious- Ecclesiastes 9:10. This is biblically true because of what is foretold in Revelation 24:13,14; Hades spat up the dead, in reference to the resurrection, and Hades (hell) was thrown into the Lake Of Fire (Gahanna…(gahenna?)). This is illogical if hell is a physical place. The two are deaths. Hell is temporary and the Lake Of Fire is everlasting destruction- not torture but something destroyed forever, gone.

Before you exploit all of Christianity as hypocrisy and nonsense. Do research about what the Bible really says instead of what the Churches say.

I responded:

Hi, thank you for writing into the show! I’ll respond to your e-mail in the order in which you wrote it.

First, give me ONE shred of evidence for intelligent design. One. Next, give me evidence that the Bible is literally true, especially in its creation accounts. Your descriptions of ID are useless unless they can be backed up. Indeed, the Big Bang theory may not be true, but that doesn’t mean that we immediately insert God. It is not rational to simply say, “We don’t know how it works, therefore, God did it.”

Next, you talked about the chances of life starting on its own. The fact is there are a number planets around our sun (a star), 100 billion stars in our galaxy, 50 glaxies in a supercluster of galaxies, and thousands of superclusters on top of that. Add to that the moons that surround planets and the near 10 billion years that all the chemicals on all those planets had to bump into each other and you start to see that it’s not quite as unlikely as you might think for a self-replicating chemical to form. Besides, we know it happened. You know how we know? Because we’re here. Yes, it might be unlikely, but we beat the odds. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be around to know it.

As for the chances of beneficial mutation, again we take natural selection over time as our model. Let’s go with your estimate of 1 in 1000. If we had one million reptiles we see, based strictly on the probability, that we might expect to have 1000 beneficial mutations. And that’s with just one millions reptiles in one generation. Think about it over millions of years and millions of generations. The ones with neutral continue to survive, the ones with harmful mutations die and spare the rest of the gene pool.

Your next point, about humanity’s recent evolution is an interesting one, however you neglect a few points. First, you neglect that there is only a few thousand years of “civilized” human existence, and therefore not nearly enough time for us to evolve as a species. Second, you neglect to notice that humans are distinct in our social interactions. Humans work to keep those with negative mutations alive instead of letting nature kill off the weak. Humanity will have a difficult time evolving in the future due to our hospitals and medical advances. Indeed, in the wild, the less intelligent children would have died most likely and the children with the higher intelligence would have survived better, had an easier time of propagating their genes, and would have spread their “smart genes” further down the road. But in our world it is fairly easy for the less intelligent to survive and therefore their weaker genes will be kept alive.

As for the feathers and scales thing: I admit I don’t know, but I sure as heck am not going to act like I do and just invoke God. I’ll do some research. And if I can’t find anything, I’ll be comfortable knowing that all the patterns of evolutionary research have shown that there is a mechanism to all nature and that although it is currently unknown, there is one to explain the feathers thing.

As for your next point about my denouncement of “Christendom” as hypocritical, I’m not sure what you were getting at. I read the passage and all it said was that there would be false Christians. Okay, so tell me who the true Christians are and I’ll tell you how they too are hypocrites.

The language in your next “point” about “why should what God says go” kind of breaks down, so I had a really hard time understanding what you were trying to explain with the neighbor allegory.

As for Hell? Read you Bible, man. Mathew 13:41-42. ‘Nuff said.

Before you try to defend your indefensible religion of destruction and hate, do research about what the Bible and Science really say instead of what the Churches say.


I'll be sharing this on probably the first episode of the next season of Atheists at the Table. Leave your thoughts in the comments section and I'll talk about it on the show!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Show from: Dec. 10

This was our Christmas episode! Myself, Mike, Paul, and a special guest were with us today to discuss Santa and the origins of Christmas. Here's the transcript of what I read during the show with items linked. Enjoy!

The topic today is Christmas! First off, Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s a great holiday whether you’re Christian, atheist, or Jew. I know I, for one, will be celebrating it. I’ve got a couple of talking points today. We’re going to take a look at the physics of Santa, as provided by our friend and co-host, Paul. Then we’re going to do a comparison of the mythological figures known as Santa and Yahweh, followed by an investigation of the origins of Christmas traditions, and ending, finally, with a look into when Christ was probably actually born.

So first, the physics of Santa Claus!

  1. No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.
  2. There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to the Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.
  3. Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, and assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of his sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course we know to be false but for the purpose of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc. This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.
  4. The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (refer to point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal load, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.
  5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy per SECOND, EACH! In short, hey will burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create a deafening sonic boom in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal* forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

So how do we counter for these problems, since, as any child knows Santa exists, just like god. Ion shields. That’s right. Ion shields. God has a particle shield just like in Star Wars that keeps him from burning up in the atmosphere. But what about the heat from the air resistance? Well, why do you think the polar ice caps are melting? And how does Santa get moving that fast? Well, Gaute Einevoll, who works with physics in organic systems, figured out that Santa Claus of course uses vacuum energy. The sleigh and reindeer use repulsive energy to compensate for the force of gravity and therefore can fly. See? It’s so simple! And how does Santa know what you’re thinking? Well, did you ever wonder why you always wear those winter hats that have the little fuzz ball at the top. That’s right, it’s a transmitting device that sends out a signal from your brain of what you thinking.

See, with a little creative thinking, you can work out any problem. It is kind of interesting, when you think about it, how paralleled the characters of Santa and the Judeo-Christian God are. They both have apparent omniscience, knowledge of all things, as Santa always knows what you want and if you’ve been good enough to get it. They’re also omnipresent, everywhere. You ever go mall hopping during the Christmas season? You notice that there’s a Santa in every store! It’s because Santa can be where ever he wants, whenever. Santa is also somewhat omnipotent. He can get his hands on the coolest toys and can do all those crazy things that physics won’t allow. Just like God, Santa lives outside of time and physics; I mean, it’s the only way to explain all his powers. They both have a specific moral code. God has the ten commandments and such, and Santa judges who’s naughty or nice. They both have reward/punishment systems. God has hell, Santa has coal. We have similar practices regarding them. We pray to God to get what we want, we sit on Santa’s lap to get what we want. God has angels to do his bidding, Santa has elves. Heaven is a supposedly magical place “up there.” Santa lives in a magical place “up there” at the North Pole. And of course, they both have their messiah, savior, figures. God has Jesus Christ, and Santa has Rudolph! And last, but not least, let’s remember, they have the same amount of evidence regarding their existence!

Just a little food for thought. So let’s talk a little bit about the religious origins of Christmas. First, when was Jesus born? (I also used this link) Hold on for this one, folks: it wasn’t December 25th, 1 AD. That was a date adopted by the early Christian church for a variety of reasons, namely to keep peace with local pagans and polytheists, who were the majority back then, to blend in, and for a smoother transition into Christianity becoming the majority religion later on. December 25th coincided with the popular Roman holidays celebrating the birth and rebirth of a series of sun gods from different cultures, as well as Mithras, a popular god of the day. Using the bible, some common sense, and some astronomy, the birth of Jesus Christ can be placed at around the 29th of September. A number of clues in the gospels lead us to this result. First, the census, which would have been impractical to conduct during the winter. Next, the fact that the flocks of sheep were still out and about. The flocks were brought out of the field before October. Jesus could not have been born on 1 AD or BC, since he was born during the reign of Herod, who died in 4 BC. Therefore, that is the earliest Jesus could have been born.

Looking into some of the Christmas traditions (I also used this link) we find that they often pull their roots from ancient pagan winter solstice festivals. These festivals would celebrate the rebirth of the sun, since the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and the day when the sun is lowest in the sky. After that the sun would begin to rise again, and be “born.” These pagan festivals used symbols of feritility and life to decorate their houses, such as evergreens, mistletoe, and holly since these plants stay green throughout the winter. Yule logs were originally used in ancient Germanic pagan rituals and were burned for all of the festival. Yule has its origins in a pre-Christian winter festival celebrated by the Germans. Mistletoe was used by druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ to celebrate winter.

A few other fun facts: The poinsettia’s association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. The term x-mas comes from the Greek spelling of Christ which starts with an x. The term Christmas derives from the phrase Christ’s mass. Just a couple of trivia points for all of you out there.

We also discussed:



Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Trouble with Religious Moderates

This is a transcript of my rant from the Dec. 3 show:

Well, last week an offended listener called Binghamton University’s president and complained about my show. The complaint trickled down to the general manager of WHRW and then to the Public Affairs Manager who called me in for a meeting this afternoon.

So this is the land of the free, hunh, folks? This is what it’s come down to. Censorship of thoughts, ideas. This nation has become so damn terrified of words it’s afraid of its own shadow. Its citizens have become like pathetic children who were too mollycoddled by their parents in their toddling years and now can’t fend for themselves in the ruthless abode of primary school.

It’s unfortunate that one displeased listener can cause such unnecessary hubbub. ONE listener complains and I am called in to be chastised for saying that certain religions are ridiculous and certain persons intellectually dishonest. Of course that’s my opinion! Of course it’s not necessarily fact! What, you have some person out there who hears me say that his religion is untrue and suddenly he converts to atheism? Come on, give me a freaking break. Anyone who would do something like that IS intellectually dishonest; and that’s my sincere, sincere opinion. We have a disclaimer presented at the beginning of the show that’s supposed to cover this crap.

“This program may contain language or material which may be considered offensive. The views expressed are those of the engineer and his guests and do not reflect the views of other WHRW members or management, and we therefore ask you to carefully consider whether you or your children should listen.”

Why the heck am I playing that goddamn disclaimer if it’s ultimately meaningless? *sigh*
I asked the PA Manager how in heck I could go about conducting a show about religion that doesn’t offend SOMEBODY. I asked her if they had a specifically Christian show. She said they didn’t, but I pressed on, asking her how she thought that if she gave a show to Christian they would be able to promote their views without offending somebody, like a Jew or Muslim or Hindu, or me?

She said that on her show she mentions that religion is a private thing, and made sure to emphasize that I probably wouldn’t agree with her. Well I didn’t and I let her know. I let her know that that religion isn’t private anymore, and probably never was. Religion is blowing up buildings, killing children, destroying minds, infantilizing education, and distorting politics. It is bringing down a civilization that doesn’t want or need it anymore. Religion is like the pathetic kid who tries to hang out with the cool posse but doesn’t realize that no one wants him around. Society doesn’t want religion anymore. Society wants to grow, to take grand steps forwards without having to worry about whether or not they stepped on someone’s toes. We don’t want our morality to be defined by the barbaric ideas of an age gone past, and we don’t want our science stunted by the “honest beliefs” of ignorant nomads. We don’t want our wars run by people who believe their command comes from their imaginary friend, and we don’t want our laws made and our money spent of the waste of time that is religion.

Of course, I’m no expert. These are my opinions. However, and again this is my opinion and in no way reflects the policies of WHRW, I feel confident in saying that if someone wanted to run a Christian radio show they would be left unhindered to say that Jesus is the one true God and that atheists are going to hell and that Hinduism is a false religion etcetera etcetera. Unhindered, I’m sure. And yet I believe that those statements could and most probably would be taken as offensive by someone, somewhere. And they wouldn’t be asked to repeatedly affirm that what they say was their “mere opinion” often throughout the show. Christians wouldn’t be required to have opposing view points.

I sincerely apologize to the listeners who may have been used to hearing from our Jewish and Catholic co-hosts however I do not control them and they have busy academically filled lives. When they had to step down from the show I brought in atheist speakers because they were the ones who wanted to come on the show to fill the spots. And I think the show has done wonderfully with our new panel.

I’m frustrated, I am, but I’m also happy because my conversation with the Public Affairs manager gave me just the motivation to tackle a topic I have put off for too long now: the trouble with religious moderates.

Indeed, today I am going to explain my position against religion in all its forms, from extremists to moderates.

First: extremists. They suck. End of story. And if I have to qualify my hatred of religious extremism which is synonymous with murder, genocide, infanticide, moral corruption, and evil, with the statement that it is my opinion, then there’s seriously something wrong with this world…but then again, I’m no expert.

But on the flip side of the coin we have moderate religious folks. Your Sunday Christians. Maybe only Christmas and Easter Christians. Or perhaps even the “oh crap, where are my car keys, don’t let me be pregnant, lets win this game, I didn’t study for this test” every once in a while Christians. What’s the problem with these folks?

The essence of it is that they create a base on which religious extremists can stand, perpetuate dangerous tenants and dogmas into future generations, is often psychologically crippling its adherents, and they often support legislation and institutions that lead to a poorer society. A four prong issue.

I came across an excellent article titled “The Problem with Religious Moderates” by Sam Harris. It is excerpted from his book “The End of Faith,” in my opinion the best book on secularism. I am going to read an excerpt from this excerpt which will start this little argument of mine out.

“People of faith fall on a continuum: some draw solace and inspiration from a specific spiritual tradition, and yet remain fully committed to tolerance and diversity, while others would burn the earth to cinders if it would put an end to heresy. There are, in other words, religious moderates and religious extremists, and their various passions and projects should not be confused. However, religious moderates are themselves the bearers of a terrible dogma: they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance-born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God-is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss.

We have been slow to recognize the degree to which religious faith perpetuates man's inhumanity to man. This is not surprising, since many of us still believe that faith is an essential component of human life. Two myths now keep faith beyond the fray of rational criticism, and they seem to foster religious extremism and religious moderation equally: (i) most of us believe that there are good things that people get from religious faith (e.g., strong communities, ethical behavior, spiritual experience) that cannot be had elsewhere; (2) many of us also believe that the terrible things that are sometimes done in the name of religion are the products not of faith per se but of our baser natures-forces like greed, hatred, and fear-for which religious beliefs are themselves the best (or even the only) remedy. Taken together, these myths seem to have granted us perfect immunity to outbreaks of reasonableness in our public discourse.

Many religious moderates have taken the apparent high road of pluralism, asserting the equal validity of all faiths, but in doing so they neglect to notice the irredeemably sectarian truth claims of each. As long as a Christian believes that only his baptized brethren will be saved on the Day of judgment, he cannot possibly "respect" the beliefs of others, for he knows that the flames of hell have been stoked by these very ideas and await their adherents even now. Muslims and Jews generally take the same arrogant view of their own enterprises and have spent millennia passionately reiterating the errors of other faiths. It should go without saying that these rival belief systems are all equally uncontaminated by evidence.

While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism. We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don't like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God.

Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question-i.e., that we know there is a God, and that we know what he wants from us-religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of the wilderness.”

This is the “moderate base that upholds the religious extremists” that I spoke of.
Allow me to add my two cents. The religious person in general adheres to the idea that beliefs should be respected, most likely stemming from the idea that if they don’t support the rights of other to believe what they want, what’s to stop others from denying their right to believe as they see fit. I was next going to describe my theory of the Tower of Religious Extremism, but in my literary travels I discovered that Mr. Harris has a very similar idea that is so eloquently put that I wouldn’t dare deprive you of its brilliance. the title of the article is "God's Dupes." Here goes:

“Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death.

Outside this sphere of maniacs, one finds millions more who share their views but lack their zeal. Beyond them, one encounters pious multitudes who respect the beliefs of their more deranged brethren but who disagree with them on small points of doctrine — of course the world is going to end in glory and Jesus will appear in the sky like a superhero, but we can't be sure it will happen in our lifetime.

Out further still, one meets religious moderates and liberals of diverse hues — people who remain supportive of the basic scheme that has balkanized our world into Christians, Muslims and Jews, but who are less willing to profess certainty about any article of faith. Is Jesus really the son of God? Will we all meet our grannies again in heaven? Moderates and liberals are none too sure.

Those on this spectrum view the people further toward the center as too rigid, dogmatic and hostile to doubt, and they generally view those outside as corrupted by sin, weak-willed or unchurched.

The problem is that wherever one stands on this continuum, one inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism. Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists — men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin's Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals — who aren't sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally — deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality. And in this way centuries have come and gone without an honest word being spoken about God in our society.”

Yes, and the moderates go to church more often than the even-more-moderates who just think a person needs spirituality in their lives, but the even-more-moderates support the moderates right to church as much as their hearts desire. By this layering of protection we have shielded anyone and everyone from criticism. Think about it. After 9/11, did we attack their religion, saying how it was evil and dangerous? No. Because the suicide attackers were merely devout believers. If we attacked the religion we’d have to tell Muslims around the world that their religion was wrong. And then what’s to stop people from attacking Christianity. No, instead we called them “cowards,” which was, in my sincere, sincere, opinion, one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

How are non-hardcore Christians as well as secularists and people of differing beliefs further imposed upon by the fundies? Consider Blue Laws, put in place by the religious to undermine the rights of the non-religious or alternately religious to use their times as they see fit. In our very own New York we are not allowed to purchase alcohol between the hours of 4 AM and 8AM on Sundays, which may also vary by county. In Pennsylvania, car dealerships must be closed and hunting is prohibited on Sundays. Bergen County New Jersey forbids all forms of employment on Sunday, citing the “supposed” physical, intellectual, and moral good of the community. You’ll find more of these in various other states.

Our right to choose is being attacked most ferverently by the religious. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t atheists out there against abortion, but it is the religious community that is most actively working to lobby to enact laws that will overturn Roe v. Wade. Yeah, ‘cause coathanger abortions as so friggen great. But then, I’m no expert. But just consider someone you love getting raped, impregnated against her will, and then being forced to carry through to term. Imagine a couple with a child they know will have a severe mental or physical disability. Isn’t it their right as parents to spare their child the pain before the child can even conceive of pain?
Let us consider gay rights or rather the lack thereof. Let us consider the hypocritical proponents of the save-the-family institutions. You will find, very often that even liberal Christians are uncomfortable with gay marriage. The one’s a little more gung-ho, are behind Proposition 8 and various other &quote pro-family quote& organizations. I have an idea. How about we build up more families. Loving families, where Biblical patriarchy isn’t enforced in a “spare the rod spoil the child” fashion. Just recently Arkansas made it illegal for unmarried persons to adopt—a transparent way of keeping gays from adopting. Yeah, let’s keep our religious ideals held as high as possible, in front of our eyes if necessary, and completely ignore the well being of the children. This law keeps unmarried heterosexual couples from adopting as well as single heteros. This law hurts so many people, especially the helpless children.

Let’s consider the religious right’s fight against stem cell research, one of the most promising fields of research today. If you want to say that the Crusades and the Inquisition are in the past, perhaps, but the mass murder that went with that sort of religious fervor isn’t. By preventing stem cell research, just how many people do you think will die needlessly? And the blood is on your hands, Christian moderate for not speaking up, for not acting out.

Catholic missionaries in places like Africa discourage Condom use leading to the spread of HIV throughout an already disease ravaged land.

The religious promote abstinence only education which has been proven to be not only ineffectual, but dangerous, leading to higher teen pregnancy ratings and STD transmissions. What did you think would happen when you failed to mention safe-sex to a bunch of hormone charged teenagers?

What about a person’s right to choose when to die? Euthinasia. It is a person’s right to decide what to do with his or her own existence. If they are in pain, if they cannot bear to live, then who are we to force them to stay alive, especially in terminal cases. Why are we forcing someone to go through, say, another three months of torture just to die, so that we can feel morally upstanding? Why don’t the moderates speak out? Probably because they agree in most cases. They might say it’s God’s job to say when you die. I say there is no God and we can decide. Live with dignity, die with it.

Moving on. In Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Texas, I cannot hold office because I am an atheist. In court I have a choice to testify on a Bible if I so desire. And if I don’t, and there is a Christian in the jury, do you not think that some prejudice will be held against me? That my word won’t be taken at value? Even a moderate Christian in the jury would likely have this response. Consider a study done at the University of Minnesota that found Atheists to be the most distrusted minority in America.
Religious institutions don’t pay taxes, even the liberal churches, increasing the financial burden on the rest of us. DO you really think all those mega-churches need to remain tax free? How much money could the country pull in if we started taxing them like you would any property owners in the U.S.? I have no idea, but I can say with a fair amount of confidence that it would help. But, of course, I’m no expert.

The national motto of “In God We Trust” excludes not only the secular population, but polytheists, pantheists, and deists. “In God We Trust” did not become the national motto until 1956. “Under God” was not added to the pledge until 1954. As children and adolescents we are compelled to recite the pledge every morning of school. What is with the publicly sponsored religious indoctrination? And where was the uproar? There was none, because Christians are, and have always been, the majority in America, and even the least extreme among them probably thought it was “nice,” especially during the era of Communist fear. I do not trust in God, and I don’t even think believers should trust in God. He hasn’t done so well thus far. As George Carlin said, “If this is the best god can do, i am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a supreme being. This is the kind of crap you'd expect form an office temp with a bad attitude.”

How about the dumbing down of science and education with intelligent design? Even the moderates often support this one, at best saying, with an innocent tone, “Well, let’s teach both sides, let’s teach the controversy.” It was heard recently across international television when uttered by Sarah Palin. That should be enough to tell you it’s a bad idea. Intelligent design is not science. It is non-predictive, and does not work off of the scientific method. There is no reputable research done in to the field that supports its claim. I am no expert, however I’ve done significant study in this subject, and I give you my understanding that ID is at best unintelligent and ignorant of the facts, and at worst dangerous.

The religion supported by moderates leads to unpunished abuses of children. There’s the story of a girl in Texas who was exorcised against her will and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder because of it. The court ruled in favor of the church, saying that it couldn’t get involved in religious affairs. There’s the story from Little Axe, Oklahoma where a woman filed suit against a school for providing special privileges for certain Christians which led to detractions from those outside the group. This woman was repeatedly assaulted and her house burned down. The cafeteria worker who assaulted the lady was supported by the community and money was raised for her to pay the fine enforced on her. How about the ever popular Catholic priest scandals? How about the psychological damage done when you tell a child that they might go to Hell, and that many of the people they know and perhaps love are going to Hell?

Atheist kids aren’t even allowed in the Boy Scouts anymore. As a former Boy Scout, I have to say, “For shame.”

Religion, even on the moderate level is sexually repressive and, therefore, often psychologically detrimental.

Religion, even on the moderate level discriminates against women, the “progenitors of sin,” who are subservient to their husbands. It is discriminatory to gays, as I previously mentioned.

And let’s not forget the recent measure by the United Nations to favor a treaty outlawing defamation of religions. You heard that right. A law to prevent freedom of speech. I am…honestly…speechless.

Let’s go through that one more time: Blue Laws, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-stem cell research, anti-human dignity, anti-political freedom, anti-free speech, anti-America in the way of refusing to pay taxes, the institution of monotheistic terms into the pledge money and government, anti-science, anti-proper education, anti-sex, anti-condoms, anti-safe sex, anti-not abusing your children, anti-women, anti-kids, and I’m sure there’s a whole lot more out there. All because of either the direct actions of moderate Christians, or the moderate Christian’s, albeit unwitting, support of the extremist factions.

Religion does not help society. In a study published in the “Journal of Religion,” titles “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies,” it was found that societies that were more secular fared better societally than countries like, say, the United States. The U.S., arguably the most religious of all the western nations fares worst in terms of homicide rates, general crime, violence, education, and social dysfunction. The report concludes that while religion may not cause these ills, it certainly doesn’t help them.

Religion is a blight on the face of humanity, a position held by many for quite some time, only now it’s being proved. I’m sorry if I’ve offended any of you listeners out there, but it’s true. You are enablers of religious extremism, and the hard and fast of it is that you can’t honestly speak out against the extremists without it coming back to attack your religion. How can you ask someone else to believe less than you do and then expect others not to ask the same of you? But, of course, I’m no expert. It’s sad, this state of the world.

I want to see a secular Earth. I believe it will be healthier than the one we have right now. No, I don’t want to wave a magic wand and make everyone suddenly atheists. There are many people out there who could not function without their imaginary teddy bear in the sky. Instead I want society as a whole to continue moving in the secular direction, letting each new generation develop it own mental toolset for dealing with a world without god, without, angels and demons, without pixies and fairies. Without heaven and hell. I believe we will see more peace on a secular Earth. You see, with religious dogma, there is no compromise. It’s what the big boss upstairs tells you or nothing at all. You can’t argue with that. But when everyone realizes that this life is the only one they’ve got and that we’ve got to work together to sustain a happy life, I think that we will solve our problems much more readily. Of course that’s my opinion, but it is my sincere, sincere opinion.

Show from: Dec. 3

Long show today! Hour and a half, since the show after us never came in.

Last week we received a complaint from an offended listener. It caused a bit of hubbub so I dedicated today's show to ranting about freedom of expression and then a longer rant about the Trouble with Religious Moderates.

We were missing Zach today, but in his place we had Arliss, a Christian!

Check out atheisttable.blogspot.com for a copy of the rant I went on in today's show.

Feel free to write us at atheisttable@gmail.com

Christian Queers

There’s something that really gets under my skin, pisses me off, if you’ll excuse a crude statement. And it’s Gay Christians. Not the happy kind, the homosexual kind who try to reconcile their Christian beliefs with their homosexuality. That goes for gay Jews and gay Muslims, two fold. Two fold for Jews because they lack the so-called “redeeming quality” of the New Testament and all that lovey-dovey crap that gets misinterpreted as real love all the time. Two fold for Muslims because of the Quran, which adds on to the anti-queer bullcrap that gets spewed from the religious. It is my firm belief that you cannot be an honest Christian and be comfortable with your homosexuality. If you are, then you are simply ignoring your scripture to satisfy whatever will make you sleep well at night. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, this practice of being dishonest with one’s self; however, in this instance it leads to the perpetuation of dangerous and evil beliefs. I’m speaking to you, Christian Queer! Your “holy” support of Christ and his fag-hating ways keeps the Bible alive as a source of dogma and allows it to be fed to the rabid fundamentalists, such as Fred Phelps, Jimmy Swaggart, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Binghamton University itself was home to one of these raving lunatics just a few weeks ago at the end of September, when he stood outside the Student Union crying out about all the “sins” of the students, with a massive sign advertising ex-gay websites. And that guy was a nice one. We’d have had a real issue if we had gotten a “true” Christian on the campus, who would have cried out for every gay man, bisexual, and lesbian who had engaged in sexual acts with a member of the same gender to be stoned to death immediately, and then would have reminded his audience that they were, at the moment of their death, transported to hell to burn for all eternity.

So let us argue this with scripture, because, when you discuss it at the Christian level, that is what it ultimately comes down to. It doesn’t matter if YOU think God loves everyone, it doesn’t matter if YOU think God IS love. The Bible has the answers, yes it does. First, let us deal with that issue of hate. Does God hate? Yes. He does. There are several verses that speak of it, but I shall pull here a few indisputable ones. Let us try Psalm 11:5, The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Or, Proverbs 6:16, These six things doth the LORD hate. Hosea 9:15, Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13. It’s all there. So the god of Abraham hates, end of story.

Now I suppose it’s best to examine the arguments against homosexuality based in the Bible. I’m fairly certain we’re all aware of the story of Sodom and Gamorrah. There’s a city filled with wicked people, and the focus of the story is on the group of men who come to righteous Lot’s door asking to have sex with his two male guests. Lot offers them his virgin daughter but the men insist that they want the hunks in the back. Those guests happen to be angels and God, and God proceeds to kick some serious ass. The next most commonly used part of the bible is Leviticus which contains two verses pertaining to the butt-pirates of the world. Leviticus 18:22 reads, Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 20:13 reads, If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. That seems pretty damn straight forward to me. If a man has sex with another man he should be killed and is responsible for his own death. I.e. he had it coming. Think about THAT the next time you remember Matthew Shepard. There are several other Old Testament verses that speak very negatively, particularly fatally, of homosexuals, but I’ll let you look those up yourself instead of boring you here with it

So we move on to the New Testament. Romans 1:26-27, which shows a contempt for lesbians as well (for shame!), reads, For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And also Romans 1:31-32 reading, (Those) without natural affection…are worthy of death. Let us not forget Corinthians 6:9 which reads, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind shall inherit the kingdom of God. Let us move away from the writings of Paul and examine the Letter of Jude, brother of James, presumably the brother of Jesus. In the 7th verse it is written, Likewise, Sodom and Gamorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

In all of these examples, proof enough I would hope in a book that is meant to be the inspired word of god, I never once used a verse that used terms that could possibly be reinterpreted or retranslated to mean something else. The Bible uses the term Sodomite and Dog to refer to gay men, however, I refrained from using verses with those terms in this sampling to avoid any possible confusion.

Now we examine the claims for Gay Christianity. The most common arguments are that the words are being mistranslated, however, that does not hold very well, especially in the case of Leviticus, which directly calls for the death of homosexuals. The next argument is that the laws laid down in Leviticus were rules for a savage man, a hunter-gatherer type of person. Low civilization man. They base this off of the idea that there are a lot of very involved hygiene and dietary laws that don’t really apply in today’s world. First off, I don’t see it saying anywhere in the Bible that if things get comfortable enough for you, if the world gets advanced enough that the rules just stop applying. The words of the Lord himself seem to very clearly state that gay men should be killed. End of story. Then they want to say that Jesus did away with the Law, that, as Galatians 5:14 says, The entire law is summed up in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself. But taking that in the context of Biblical love, which is described as so-called “natural” love, loving your same-sex neighbor in a romantic way would be out of line, and not considered an act of “true” love by the Almighty. If we do not love how the lord intends us to love, then we are lost.

Jesus himself says that the greatest commandment of the law is to “Love the Lord God with all your heart and your soul and your mind.” How could one do that when they are constantly aware that they are an “abomination” to the lord? How could they continue to act on their homosexuality when the result would be flying rudely in the face of their God? And do not think that Jesus condemns the cruelty of the Old Testament. Indeed, he reinforces it. Jesus himself says, “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Indeed, not until after the events of Revelations (which, at last check, have not occurred) shall any of the old law become a moot issue. Even if we go further with some theological interpretations of the gospel, we find that Jesus did away with the ceremonial law, i.e. law dealing with diet and clothing and the like, and keeps the moral law, the one’s applying to adultery and homosexuality. That makes significant sense in fact. Condemnation of adultery is placed right alongside condemnation of homosexual acts as well as a few other “unnatural” things. Jesus preaches against adultery. By the relation of the idea that all those things in Leviticus were under the same general category of moral law we can, by relation assume that Jesus denied homosexuals their holiness. Besides, it’s not like the Bible recorded every single word of Jesus. He could have said things directly against gay people, and almost assuredly did if we take the word of Paul.

What does all this show us? The Christian, Jewish, Muslim God, Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, El Shaddai, El Adonoi, Jehovah, hates gays and will almost certainly send them to hell, if not at least call for their death here on Earth. If you try to argue it from a Christian standpoint you will lose, as long as you are being honest and taking the bible for what it is. That’s why I urge you gay Christians to drop the Christian and just be gay! Be proud, be loud, be whatever you want, but don’t support this religion of hate. Yes, you heard me. A religion of hate. The only reason Christianity is seen as a religion of love is because hate doesn’t sell well throughout the ages. Love and hope do. Hate doesn’t sell well in today’s Western society, not among all this political correctness. Just think of all the people Christians should be out killing in accordance with their Bible. No, don’t think about it, go read it. Open up Leviticus, get a cup of tea, or beer, or milk or whatever to relax yourself for the long trip through that book, and READ what your Lord commands of you. Reads about all the things that God hates and views with displeasure. I have the sneaking suspicion that a whole lot of people, especially gays, are attached to Christianity for it’s supposed messages of love and acceptance. And, if not for that, at least for the reason that they were raised with it. Stop listening to your preacher and all the watered down, distilled nonsense they throw at you week after week. God hates, and hates with a passion. The Bible is not about love. It is a dire warning to anyone who would take its message seriously. I ask you to think for yourselves and to step away from all this Casper, zombie, vampire mythology and live your life as it is yours.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Show from: Nov. 19, 2008

Our panel today:
Edwin (Friendly Neighborhood Evangelical Atheist)
Catherine (Hopeful Agnostic Atheist)
Paul (Agnostic Atheist)
Zach (Strong Atheist)

Today we talked mostly about things in the news focusing the last half of the show on the secular advertisements going up int he U.S. and the U.K.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Show from: Nov. 12, 2008

Finally! The whole panel of atheists was here for the show!!

Edwin (Friendly Neighborhood Evangelical Atheist)
Justin ("I don't believe")
Catherine (Hopeful Agnostic Atheist)
Paul (Agnostic Atheist)
Mike (Somewhere Between Agnostic & Atheist)
Zach (Strong Atheist)

That's the crew. One day we hope to welcome back Jessie the Redheaded Jew and Mark the Pantheistic Catholic with a Taoist Twist to the show, but until then we'll be riding along as a panel of six atheist trying to make our way along the radio waves :)

Show from: Nov. 5, 2008


Show from: Oct. 29, 2008

Finally got all but one (Catherine) of my co-hosts to attend the show!


Show from: Oct. 22, 2008


About the Atheist Blogroll

Just wanted to put out a quick recommendation: if you haven't noticed or checked out the Atheist Blogroll on the sidebar of the page, I suggest you scroll through and pick out a few blogs to browse. I've been rather lucky with it in the past and have found some really excellent writers while searching through there.


Show from: Oct. 15, 2008

This show was a bit rocky since I ended up more or less winging it when I found out last minute that my cohosts would all be absent. But despite the vacation time I got some listener interaction and it was overall enjoyable.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nov. 12 Show Notes

Here's the links and citations to all the articles we talked about on the show.

“The God Delusion”
By Richard Dawkins
Pg. 317-325

Is Religion Child Abuse? What About the Children?
By Chuck Colson

Uncited by Colson:

Mapping American Adolescent Subjective Religiosity and Attitudes of Alienation Toward Religion

Religion-related Child Physical Abuse: Characteristics and Psychological Outcomes

Running From Hell: Growing Up in America’s Most Hated Family

Friday, November 7, 2008

Life, Love, and Meaning as an Atheist

Something I noted about life as an atheist as opposed to a theist is the idea of meaning in life. Christians and other theists always want to say how an atheist has no meaning in their life. They want to know how one can function without the idea that there’s someone watching out for you, someone, something, that has an ultimate plan. I beg to differ. In fact, I intend to turn that argument around. As a theist, believing in an afterlife and an ultimate plan of a Great Creator, their lives have no meaning. Within the context of eternity, infinity, unending life, anything you do has minimal significance, especially when you consider that a lot of what you do is probably playing into the plans of some other being. One way or another, the significance of ANY action shrivles to zero on an infinite time scale. The only thing that might warrant meaning in one’s life is saving someone else’s soul from eternal damnation; but most people aren't pursuing that anyway.

As an atheist, antitheist, and more or less a naturalist, I recognize that everything I do has a finite amount of goodness or negativity. If I save a life, I have done something powerfully wonderful. People only have a certain amount of time to spend existing and pursuing this intricate thing called life. If I help them preserve that, I’ve given them what might be just a little more time, but something that is immeasurably valuable. In a life there is a very distinct and measurable quantity of opportunities for happiness allowed! If I make someone happy, I have contributed to a very limited area of possible opportunities for that person to be happy! I’ve filled a gap in their brief time on Earth with joy. If a composer writes a song I only have so much time to listen to it, to appreciate it. Every note becomes more poignant. Everything becomes more precious, more meaningful, when you realize that this is all you get.

Indeed, it's why I've been a bit melancholy lately. I'm at war in my head! Particularly as a university student, there's so many wonderful options available to me, but I can only choose one! Whichever I choose I have to make the best of; I won’t have any other chances! I won't have eternity to try other things. Sure it’s a bit intimidating, a bit scary, but accepting this will allow me to make the most of my existence. For me, every endeavor has become so much more worthwhile for me.

Things are extreme. If I screw up, I REALLY screw up. If I hurt someone and turn them away from me, that’s it. I won’t have a chance to reunite in heaven one day when everything’s all better. When I taste food I marvel at the beauty of such a concept. When I sit with a beautiful girl I’m trying to impress, somewhere in my mind I’m laughing with joy, even as I tremble, just thinking about how an inanimate universe conspired to give me consciousness, to give me this opportunity to feel this wonderful and this vulnerable; this chance, this glorious gamble for bliss or blandishment.

I’m terribly glad I don’t believe in a God. I don’t think I could deal with that. The idea that I’m a pawn in his ultimate plan would just make me feel small and used. The fact that this guy who’s supposed to look out for me has allowed bad things to happen to me, and to other people, would overwhelm me with anger. Sure, I get the common response that it all happens for a reason, and that it’s in my best interests, and that God knows what he’s doing. But I wonder how that works for the good people who have bad things happen to them and die, cold and homeless, before God ever has the chance to work their lives out. Religionists ask me how I can deal with thinking that I’m alone in this universe, that there’s no one looking out for me. I am NOT alone. I have friends who are with me and watch out for me. They ask me how I can deal with not thinking that there’s a plan. I tell them: it makes me feel good to know that I am no invisible man’s puppet, that I am master of my own destiny; the good I do is my own, and the bad I do I will pay for from the people I hurt. People want to know how I can deal with not thinking that there is some ultimate justice. Well, that’s not something I can decide on how to deal with. Some people get justice, some don’t. It’s a fact of life. But I know that I sure as hell wouldn’t want some holier than thou being judging me, or anyone else. How can an eternal, supposedly all good, all powerful being ever possible decide what is justice for us mere humans with our human whims and human emotions? That’s why here on Earth we have a jury of peers because they are the only ones who have even a remote understanding of our situations in life. God has never had to lose a loved one, fear for his life, or support a family. How could he POSSIBLY know how to judge us?

I won’t say that theism gives nothing to people. Indeed, some people’s lives are so sad that without a belief in something else they’d be suicidal; or in some cases homicidal. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that all things lose meaning in a religious worldview. If God is omnipotent, than this creation really isn’t all that spectacular; in fact, if this is the best a perfect being can do, I’m not impressed. If one believes in heaven and hell, this life means nothing and they might want to spend their every breath working on getting into heaven, and worry less about careers and frivolities.

Many people agree that atheism makes sense, that it’s rational, and end up more or less admitting that they’d be one save for the fact that they are afraid. They’re afraid of their lives and their suffering having no meaning. It takes time, but as an atheist you eventually come to understand that your life does have meaning, and suffering becomes a passing thing when hope on this world is what you start to reach for. And death. People fear, more than anything, death. I sat with this idea for a while, and through my ruminations I came to have a sort of peace with my eventual demise. But this past Spring I came across a quote by Mark Twain that has completely erased a fear of death from my mind and truly given me full peace as an atheist. He says, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” Truest words that I cannot hope to expand upon.

What is love anyway on Earth, if your true perfect existence will be decided in heaven anyway? Questions like, what’s the use? and why are we here? become big issues. I’ve never had to worry about that. We’re here because our parents decided to get it on. Life is here because of extraordinary chemical processes. It’s simpler than you think, yet more astounding than you can imagine. A theistic life seems rather sad to me, when one breaks it down. Life becomes less precious, love stale and worthless, sensation useless. For me, life is everything, sensations hold the possibility of being my last, and love is in the moment and precious, immediate yet fleeting.

If you’re afraid of examining your beliefs, please, don’t be. There are resources out there for the contemporary atheist. There are communities. There are likeminded individuals who’ve been through, or are going through, the exact same thing. Take the time, investigate. It’s not as scary as you think.