Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
I just read an interesting article about a biblical scholar who thinks that the first sentence of the bible has been mistranslated.
She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world -- and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.
She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate".
The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth"
God came later and made the earth livable, separating the water from the land and brought light into the darkness.
I wonder if the Ancient Astronaut folks are going to glom on to this tidbit?
The Onion's overarching schtick this week involves the idea that they've been sold to a Chinese company so all the stories have a new editorial slant.
There's one article that I found particularly amusing that's titled Weakling President Asks Imaginary Man In Sky To Bless Nation.
WASHINGTON—In a display of weakness unbecoming a head of state, President Barack Obama concluded remarks to his nation Tuesday by asking a pretend man who lives in the clouds to watch over and guide the United States.
It gets better :)
I just read a bit of religiously-shielded tripe from Rev. Wiley Drake. This is an excerpt from an radio interview that Drake gave to Alan Colmes from Fox:
"Are you praying for his death?" Colmes asked.
"Yes," Drake replied.
"So you're praying for the death of the president of the United States?"
Colmes asked if he was concerned he might be placed on a Secret Service or FBI watch list. "I think it's appropriate to pray the Word of God," Drake answered. "I'm not saying anything. What I am doing is repeating what God is saying, and if that puts me on somebody's list, then I'll just have to be on their list."
"You would like for the president of the United States to die?" Colmes asked once more.
"If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death, that's correct."
If this guy expressed those ideas without the trappings of religion, he'd certainly be put away or at least taken in for questioning.
Apparently there is a new bit of drivel being propagated via email:
BREAKING NEWS: Pentagon Burns Soldiers Bibles - Military Chaplains Attacked
The Pentagon under the Obama Administration has just acknowledged seizing and burning the privately owned Bibles of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan. The Bibles had been printed in the local Pashto and Dari languages, and sent by private donors to American Christian soldiers and chaplains, for distribution to American troops on overseas military bases during optionally-attended Christian worship services. Had the Bibles not been seized and destroyed, they could have legally been given as gifts during off-duty time to Afghani citizens who welcome our troops in their homes, as an expression of American gratitude for Afghani hospitality, promoting the democratic ideals of freedom of religion and freedom of the press.
Someone forwarded this "motivational poster."
I've grown up in, and continue to live in, Orange County, CA. OC has always been a stronghold of right-wing religious groups. Once in a while some thing happens here that gives me hope for the future.
Certified whack-job Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist decided that something had to be done about a local high school that decided to put on a somewhat edited version of the musical "Rent".
From the LA Times article:
By midday Friday, the protesters had arrived. There were three of them, carrying signs that said, "[Gays] Are Beasts," among others.
As they gathered on the sidewalk, several students came together in counter-protest on the other side of the street. Within minutes, more than 200 -- some wearing rainbow tie-dye shirts and holding peace signs -- stood sentry in front of the campus, clutching signs that said, "Support Love," "God Hates No One" and "Love Is Not a Sin."
The students turned the protest into a mini-celebration, singing songs from the musical and breaking into the school's own fight song. A couple ran through the crowd in swim trunks, with the words "God Loves Gays" written across their chests. One was wrapped in a rainbow-colored cloth. Another wore a handmade shirt that read, "Love Is Equal."
At one point, several students ran across the street to stand near the protesters. They shouted, "God loves gays and lesbians too," and waved their signs at passing cars. Minutes later, Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, and his supporters walked away, taking their signs with them.
Over at GoComics they serve up daily comics, even those that have been out of print for a while. I think I've probably read all the Calvin and Hobbes strips but since I don't remember all of them I make this one of my daily visits.
Today there was a particularly good one (embbedded below).
The comment storm it created on the page for that particular strip are reasonably interesting.
I just read an interesting bit on the Cult of Mac blog:
A city councilor in Dartmouth, England has sparked debate by wearing his iPod earbuds to drown out prayers traditionally said before town council meetings.
When I'm in a "group prayer" situation I usually just look around the room to see who else is not bowing their head.
I enjoy a good parody now and then, particularly when it pokes fun at something I hold in low esteem. That was the motivation for putting up the Theism Brain Armor site as a play on Truth Soul Armor.
I've been seeing all sorts of NOTW stickers in car windows lately. NOTW is a Christian clothing company and the acronym stands for Not of This World, which is a reference to jesus. I've been thinking that there must be a nice play on that somehow. I finally figured it out.
With Jack Black as Jesus, how can you go wrong?
Here in California we've got a stupid ballot initiative that seeks to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Well the money has poured into the state from the Mormons and Dobson's Focus on the Family group and they're blanketing the airwaves, planting signs, and fielding troops on the ground to stand and street corners in matching shirts who wave Yes on 8 signs.
I just read an article about some high school kids who are doing their part to fight against this. Here is a great quote from one of them:
"Prop. 8 is not only a religious issue. It's an issue of discrimination and prejudice. Who's to say atheists and agnostics won't be next?"
This is a kid who started a school club called the "Freethinking Atheist and Agnostic Kinship student club"
Just maybe there's hope after all...
Here are the first three verses of Genesis.
1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.
2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
3 At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.4 An Ceiling Cat sawed teh lite, to seez stuffs, An splitted teh lite from dark but taht wuz ok cuz kittehs can see in teh dark An not tripz over nethin.5 An Ceiling Cat sayed light Day An dark no Day. It were FURST!!!
The bible makes a lot more sense this way.
I was recently driving on California highway 2 in the foothills north of Los Angeles and was pleasantly surprised to see that the stretch of road I was driving on had been adopted by a group called Atheists United.
My friend google found their web site for me and it looks like a pretty active group.
Seeing as we're mostly atheists and agnostics around here I thought it might be useful to post this Prayer for Beginners link, you know, just in case.
When I read things like this it really pisses me off. Why couldn't it have been one of the parents?
I just read this on Wired News:
The Florida Board of Education officially upheld evolution yesterday.
In a 4-3 vote, the Board accepted a proposed curriculum that makes evolution central to public school science education.
Until now, Florida's schools weren't required to teach evolution. The old curriculum guidelines didn't even mention it by name.
The 4-3 vote was obtained by including a last-minute amendment to the standards. Suggested last Friday by religious conservatives and dubbed the "academic freedom proposal," the amendment required that the curriculum's references to "evolution" be replaced by the "scientific theory of evolution."
The amendment's supporters called the language change a victory -- and it is, though not in the way they imagine.
Today the family went on a local Sierra Club-guided hike to find out about the Native American history in our back yard. Some of the impetus for the hike is an upcoming public meeting concerning the toll road they want to run smack dab through this site and the state park surrounding it.
As you might expect participants ran the gamut of far-left eco types to the right-wing NIMBYs, which is fine by me. There are many reasons to oppose this road.
While the hard core eco folks can sometimes get on my nerves because of their essentially religious (i.e. non-thinking) views, it was an overheard comment by a right-winger that made me shake my head.
I'm a lifelong Republican and I can see that we're getting screwed right and left by Bush, but you know, I like his religious views.
WTF? Here's a case of someone who sees the damage being done by Bush and still supports him just because they believe in the same fairy tale.
I found this bit of Christmas cheer on CNN today.
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning on Thursday.
A general view from the Church of the Nativity compound in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
The basilica, built over the grotto in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, is administered jointly by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic authorities.
Any perceived encroachment on one group's turf can touch off vicious feuds.
On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners were scrubbing the church ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in early January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations.
But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians.
In my neck of the woods here there is a lawsuit that's been filed against a high school history teacher asserting that he makes anti-christian remarks in his classroom.
"He's only giving one side – that's not thinking critically at all," said Farnan, 16, who does not plan to attend his AP European History class again until Corbett is removed. "This might be a college-level class, but it's in high school, so he doesn't have the same rights."
I didn't realize that you have to be a college professor to have the right to foster debate.
It looks like yet another case of someone getting bent out of shape over criticism of their beliefs. I find it ironic that the kid whose parents filed the suit states "I am a strong Christian believer". If he's such a strong believer why doesn't he stay in the class and defend his views?
It's encouraging that many of the teacher's former students are coming forward in support stating that his classes promoted critical thinking. There is so little done in high to teach kids how to actually think that it's sad when someone gets into hot water for actually doing it.