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 want to point you folks to a new newsweek article. I read it and was a little blown away by the middle ground that the article takes.
*** edited to add. I think this is a good article and positive press for non-theists.
You can see it here.
Here's another in an ongoing series! Robert Heinlein first made me aware of this verse in his book Stranger in a Stranger Land. Here's the verse: 2 Kings 2:23-25.
2:23 He went up from there to Bethel. As he was traveling up the road, some young boys came out of the city and made fun of him, saying, “Go on up, baldy! Go on up, baldy!” 24 When he turned around and saw them, he called God’s judgment down on them. Two female bears came out of the woods and ripped forty-two of the boys to pieces. 25 From there he traveled to Mount Carmel and then back to Samaria.
So...yeah. This has to be a tough verse for Christians. Frankly, this has to be a tough verse for Jews too. It's a little redundant but let me recap.
1. Kids make fun of bald guy (who happens to be a prophet of "God")
2. Kids get killed by bears sent by "God".
Fun! (more below the fold)
One of the stations I listen to in the morning is 105.7 out of Baltimore. It used to be a rock station, then it turned in to a talk radio station (one that carried Penn Jillette's broadcast) and now it's a sports radio talk station. One show that has remained on the station in the last couple of years, though it's been moved around a lot, is Ed Norris' show. I like listening to Ed because a lot of the time he voices what I would voice if I had the medium. There are some exceptions, especially related to his religious views...but that's a topic for another post.
This morning, on the Ed Norris show, Ed told a story from his time on the NYPD. His primary profession was police work and he ended that work as commissioner of the Baltimore police department. According to his story, while he was working for the NYPD, there were some tourists coming through the station where he was working. From the details I garnered from the story, I was unsure whether or not he was just in the vicinity or actually giving a tour. He relates the story of 2 Canadians that were touring the facility, a father and son. Ed worked in a precinct where there happened to be a lot of police officers who were killed on the job. On the walls of the precinct there were plaques commemorating the service of these dead officers. Ed pointed out these plaques to the Canadian tourists and explained what they were. The child then innocently asked why there were so many dead policemen. His father replied that (and I must paraphrase here I'm afraid) the reason may be that because American police officers carried guns and often pointed them at people and that the potential criminals felt that they must respond in-kind. This, he surmised, may have lead to the many deaths.
This was a short segment on the show today but it really stuck with me. Ed's response (again paraphrased) was that he simply refrained from pointing out how stupid the Canadian's sentiment was to avoid embarrassing the father in front of the son.
more after the break
Hey folks! As I indicated in the subject this has no bearing on the topics that are usually discussed on this blog.
We're looking to expand our home. We've got the loan malarky under control. What I'm looking for is your tips and suggestions on how to choose a general contractor for the work. We are adding around 1400 square feet and if anyone has any tips or suggestions on how to choose the right contractor I'd appreciate them! My sidebar email is a perfectly valid place to reply. Thanks in advance!
I'm not going to reference an article today. Today I'm going to give an example of where theists go wrong. We have a small discussion group at work. One of the topics given today was something in the news that I hadn't read and still haven't read. The topic discussed memories from being reincarnated. One of my coworkers brought up the topic after having read something online. The coworker gave the headline which was something along the lines of, "Study shows evidence of former life memories gives credence to past life experiences!" (w/ a reference to reincarnation which I can't recall at this point, sorry)
Keep in mind, I haven't read either the article or the study. My coworker brings up this article and immediately afterward another coworker exclaims, "And you say you don't believe in God."
My immediate reply afterward was, "What? Why would you bring God into this?"
The coworker was incredulous. He wondered why an atheist would reference an article which gave the idea that reincarnation was possible.
Here are 2 different passages regarding a fig tree in the Bible.
18 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.
21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
(full entry below the fold)
We in the atheist community often hear the phrase, "Why are you attacking Christianity? Why not go after Islam?" The reason, as has been stated many times before, is that in America, Christianity is the dominant religion and our public and private lives are dominated by its practice. This series, as long as it lasts, will go through some of the things in the Christian Bible that bother me.
We start with Jesus and the Pigs. Mark 5 verses 1-20. Here's the relevant text from the NIV (New International Version)(more below the fold):
Here's a little bit of fun to get myself started again. Some classic stained glass:
|From My Pictures|
tip o' the hat to KW
You may or may not have noticed that I've been an absentee blogee recently. I've been extremely busy since we got back from our trip. In between work, the holidays, other family obligations and working on getting our house renovated I haven't had a lot of time to blog. I am hoping to jump back in, starting with this post.
In the meantime, if you're interested, most of our trip photos are available online at the picasa website.
You can find the 2 albums here:
Another hit and run post...This is all you'll likely see out of me for at least 2 more weeks.
We didn't really see Carl Buell. What we did see is one of his drawing at the Petrified Forest National Park! I think it's awesome to run in to work away from the tubes by people you see on the blogosphere.
As we're road tripping, in at least 2 states now MandyU and I have noticed some interesting signage. If I can get a picture of one as we're cruising by I'll post it here as well. It's a caution sign just like any normal deer crossing or school crosswalk warning. The big yellow diamond. In this particular warning sign though, it just says, "Church".
I think its very considerate of both Texas and Louisiana to warn us that there may be crazy people entering the road ahead. I think this should probably be a national standard.
MandyU and I are about to embark on a 4 week road trip across the US in our Prius. You can follow our progress at our travel blog. We'll be updating it as we're able as we journey 'round the US.
I'm going to focus on Christianity here for a minute. The answer to why American atheists tend to focus on Christianity should be clear. Most of us were raise with a Christian background and it's in our faces every day.
This post has to do with how things played out after the "flood". This post isn't about the silliness (or evilness) of the flood itself rather on how things played out sociologically after the flood. The Bible makes it clear why there are so many languages in the world with the story of the Tower of Babel. God gets ticked because humans are trying to see heaven with their technological wonder so he afflicts them with language differences(another silly story in my opinion). As a side note, if the big G was so angry about the tower why the hell wouldn't God have nixed the space program where we actually reached the "heavens"?
Back to the real point of this post though. It's a sociological fact that most folks take up their parents religion. The great majority just follow along with what their parents believe(d). After the flood, the world was then populated by Noah's family. While the Bible explains the many languages, I don't recall in my reading any account that explains the abundance of religions that came after Noah's time. Even given that not all of Noah and his family's offspring would necessarily follow exactly what Noah knew to be true (because of his personal relationship with the Sky Daddy)it doesn't really explain how so many disparate religions came in to being after the flood.
Another point to consider is that there are still, in modern times, many isolated enclaves of humanity. You'd think we would find a few groups that still followed the god that Noah knew personally.
I'll address Rand's major points from the essay I posted earlier in essentially the format in which they were presented (give or take). For the original transcript see my earlier post. Let me start with this quote: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Ayn Rand
This is what I see as the flaw in applying this philosophy broadly. While there are people that are heroic not every man or woman is. I'll start by amending the statement to suit my purposes. My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man with his or her own happiness as the main moral purpose of their lives, with productive achievement as their noblest activity, and reason as their only absolute. The idea of happiness being the main goal of humans lives hearkens back to at least Socrates. Rand's way of achieving happiness differs greatly but the end goal remains the same.
I've taken Objectivism and modified it to my own needs. It still is my philosophy for living and interacting with the people and the world around me. At this point in the essay I posted it says, “ Ayn Rand first portrayed her philosophy in the form of the heroes of her best-selling novels...” Again, I'll point out the flaw..heroicism. If people act as “heroes” any idealistic system works. Socialism works with heroes as well as lassaiz-faire capitalism or even monarchies. While Objectivism fails as the ethical equivalent of the “Theory of Everything” (as does every other ethical system I've encountered) I feel that it works for me in most situations. Moving on.
more beyond the fold
In an earlier post I claimed that I was an objectivist with caveats. A commenter on that post essentially asked why. As the first part of my response I'll transcribe from the suffix of my copy of Ayn Rand's “Anthem”. The title is “The Essentials of Objectivism”
“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand named her philosophy Objectivism” and described it as a philosophy for living on earth. Objectivism is an integrated system of thought that defines the abstract principles by which a man must think and act if he is to live the life proper to man. Ayn Rand first portrayed her philosophy in the form of the heroes of her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead(1943) and Atlas Shrugged(1957). She later expressed her philosophy in non-fiction form.
more below the fold
So, we know some people on TV. And yes, this is an odd post.
The folks that Mandy and I know are Doug and Noelle. Doug is the Dad and Noelle is his daughter, who happens to be a former student of Mandy's as well as one of the bridesmaids in Mandy and my wedding.
They're participating in a show on the Lifetime network called "Your Momma Don't Dance". This week, they're in trouble. In my (and Mandy's) opinion, they don't deserve to be in trouble...especially for this week's performance.
I'd love if you could help them out by voting for 'em. To vote for Noelle and Doug dial 1-877-472-4702. You can vote 10 times per phone line. Thanks folks!
Here's Noelle's casting video * Warning. This link will take you to the Lifetime Network. You may experience a slight drop in testosterone levels when the site opens.
I find myself conflicted. I have no ready resolution to my problem. As it says in my introduction on the sidebar, I'm a liberal libertarian with conservative leanings. What that really means is that I'm a registered Independant who doesn't concur with the party platform of the Republicans and Democrats. I am, with caveats, an Objectivist. I may address the hows and whys of those tenents at another time. I promised my conundrum though, and here it is.
These parents allowed their child to die because of their religious beliefs. They allowed a sentient being, a person with their whole life ahead of them, to perish because they believed that if their daughter was worthy, or their prayers fervent enough, she'd be healed by their magic sky fairy. They have murdered their daughter. I use that term, murder, intentionally. They have willfully denied their daughter medical care and because of that she is no more. This is especially tragic to me given that I'm an atheist. Without an afterlife to "live" for, or to transit to post-death, this result, death, is the worst outcome possible in my view. The parents failure to obtain proper medical care for a perfectly treatable condition is a travesty of both life and liberty.
The "State" is not necessary for many things. We are an over-regulated people in America. We have laws governing many of our behaviours. Of these laws, I believe most to be at best unnecessary, at worst intrusive. My conundrum lies in the straight fact that I'd like what these parents have done to be illegal. I WANT state intervention because I can't think of another way to handle such a case. This couple's daughter should be alive today. I'm not feeling my libertarian edge right at this moment and I'd like it back. Help?
Here's a little tidbit from the news.
50 people looking for solar image of Mary lose sight
Rather than stating this in the comments of the post, I think a response to Brent's opening paragraphs in his latest review of Vox Day's book warrant a full post.
Brent, unsurprisingly, I agree with you.
Here's what I agree with you about:
I have my own opinions, political views, and values. I have my own, personal, rational for being a person in whom god-belief is absent (an atheist). I recognize no "atheist leaders" or spokesmen, and I endorse no one who claims to speak for me, or insinuates that they speak for me in any way.
Here's where our opinions may part:
I have lately (within the last few years) come to believe that the entire social and political "atheist movement", as it nominally exists, is a big, fat exercise in futility. Atheists are not, in any way, shape, or form, a "group" in the same sense that Methodists, Shriners, or Republicans are a group. The atheists who organize activist marches, set agendas and identify themselves as part of this "atheist movement" group seem to be lying to themselves. There is no cohesive atheist political movement.
more below the fold
I've heard and seen much mockery focused on the Tom Cruise Scientology video over the past couple of days. (I apologize if that link no longer works, but the video has been on and off the net and that's the best link I can find at the time of this article.) The truth is, while I believe that atheists (especially agnostic atheists), in general, have a leg to stand on in this case, I don't think the rest of the godders, or innumerable other groups, do. Let's look at a few things that Cruise says.
Tom Cruise: ...I think it’s a privilege to call yourself a Scientologist, and it’s something that you have to earn because a Scientologist does... has the ability to create new and better realities and improve conditions. Being a Scientologist, you look at someone and know absolutely that you can help them.
"But that’s what drives me... I know that we have an opportunity to really help... effectively change people’s lives and I am dedicated to that. I am absolutely, uncompromisingly dedicated to that.
Replace the words “Scientologist” with the words Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Nazi, Feminist, Vegan, vegetarian, socialist, communist, capitalist, geek, Sikh, or even self help guru and you'll see what I mean. This statement, minus the maniacal laughter, could have come from any of the groups I listed and a whole lot more. Let's move on to the next set; shall we?
more below the fold