Blind Ignorance

Jim Downey's picture

Perhaps animal sacrifice would be better?

Aww, those poor, persecuted Christian women.

News that two University of Texas-Arlington women were fired just for practicing their religion will undoubtedly get the fundies all in a lather if it hasn't already. From the CBN article:

The two women, Evelyne Shatkin, an administrative assistant, and Linda Shifflett, a development funds assistant, had joined in quiet prayer with a male coworker after employees had left for the weekend.

Of course, the truth may be a bit more complicated:

Two women fired from UT-Arlington told supervisors that they prayed and rubbed religious oils on a co-worker’s cubicle because they believed she was “demonically oppressed,” according to personnel records the university released Friday.

Oops. So they weren't just having a little private chat with God, eh? Seems not:

Brent Rasmussen's picture

I'm Rolling My Eyes Right Now

Oh good! Sly Stallone has decided to become a preacher in his old age. How very wonderful for all of us little people that he's willing to "be subtle" about evangelizing Christianity in his next two movies.

I can hardly wait!

If you're rolling your eyes at the prospect of a 60-year-old Stallone playing an aging boxer, that's OK with him.

"I actually embrace that, and the rolling of their eyes (is) a 100 percent natural valid reaction. I rolled my eyes when I thought of it," Stallone said. "You can't judge anything until you see it. When you see the film, it's about actually being able to listen to your heart and not so much your mind, following the guidance of someone much more powerful than you: Jesus.

"In 'Rocky I,' the first person we saw was Jesus," he said, referring to an opening scene of the boxing club where there is a big mural of Jesus on a back wall.

And if a sixth "Rocky" movie isn't enough, there's "Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra" in the works.

"It's also a Christian movie," Stallone said. "Here's how it is. I believe that you can have a Christian theme but you can't hit it too heavy. You can't hit 'em over the head with a hammer. You have to be subtle about it."

Stallone described the plot to "Rambo IV," now in pre-production: "Rambo is a borderline atheist. He doesn't believe in anything anymore. His job is to bring a group of Christians upriver into a very hostile territory, and they're there to bring the word of God and medicine and dentistry to these natives. He has conversations with some of these Christians and he doesn't see it their way. They get captured, and ... he starts getting influenced by their faith in the face of such incredible odds.

"I think it may work," he added.

Will someone please hit me over the head with a hammer if I attempt to see either of these masterpieces? Heh. Rocky VI is actually getting pretty good reviews from what I've read, so I might put it in my Netflix queue in a few months.

The new Rambo movie - what was it? "Pearl Necklace of the Python"? "Rambo Comes Out Of The Closet"? I can't remember. In any case, it sounds like a real winner, boy howdy.

Rambo's a "borderline atheist", huh?

Whew! Good thing he wasn't an "admitted atheist"! You know what those godless killing machines are capable of! Those poor, persecuted Christian missionaries wouldn't stand a chance against a real atheist. They'd all become stew meat after the first debate on theodicy went south, I'll bet.

Might make for a more exciting movie that way though.

Jim Downey's picture

Atheism on "All Things Considered".

This afternoon's "All Things Considered" had a longish piece on the 'new atheism'  Here's the lead from their website:

In response to the growing power of religious extremism, a small group of atheists has taken a new approach. Going on the offensive, they target the tolerant, with both reason - and ridicule. Brooke Gladstone, host of NPR's On the Media, reports.

It wasn't bad at all.  Lots of comments from Sam Harris, some good perspective on how atheists are stereotyped.  If you didn't get a chance to hear it when broadcast, the full audio should be available this evening, 7:30 EST.

Jim Downey

Jim Downey's picture

Man fired over camel sacrifice in Turkey

Ah, yes.  Just in case you think we have a monopoly on Stupid Religious Tricks, here's a little item from AP:

Turkish Airlines authorities launched an investigation and later fired chief mechanic Sukru Can for approving the camel sacrifice. The crew of mechanics had been celebrating the return of the last of 11 four-engine Avro RJ 100 jets that were leased from Britain 13 years ago.

Turks traditionally sacrifice animals as an offering to God for when their wishes come true.

"We are happy to be rid of planes which frequently broke down without causing major headaches to Turkish Airlines," the daily Cumhuriyet quoted Can as saying after the ceremony.

Not that I am particularly fond of camels, mind...

Jim Downey

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Pastor Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

Why am I not surprised?

[link] Paul Barnes has resigned from the 2,100-member Grace Chapel, a church he founded in suburban Denver, said church spokeswoman Michelle Ames.

Barnes' resignation follows last month's admission by high-profile preacher Ted Haggard that he was guilty of unspecified "sexual immorality" after a male prostitute went public with their liaisons.

Many evangelical Christians view homosexuality as a sin, though some are more strident on the issue than others.

Ames said Barnes told his congregation in a videotaped message on Sunday he had "struggled with homosexuality since he was five years old."

But of course, it isn't genetic. It's Satan.

MandyU's picture

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

In my lunch time reading of Science today I came across a little side bar on Richard Dawkins' new US/UK non-profit foundation. This charity will support research on "the psychological basis of unreason" and dedicate some effort to fighting the well funded creationist and intelligent design folks. The web page doesn't look quite completed yet, but they do have a nice video of the mission (also available at YouTube)

I thought you folks might be interested.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Don't Get Me Wrong, Some Of My Best Friends Are Atheists

The true meaning of Christmas seems to be a vehicle for running down the dirty, non-believing atheists.

This is how your average American sees atheists; evil, Christmas-stealing, Baby Jesus-hating, "Happy Holidays"-insisting, non-believing scum who deserve to be abused and blamed for the imagined ills and the Christian persecution fantasy.

Letter: 'Happy Holidays' simply will not do

Monday, December 11, 2006

As a child growing up, "Merry Christmas" was the only thing anybody ever heard during the Christmas holidays plus "Happy New Year." "Happy Holidays" just didn't cut it in the spirit of the holidays, even for those who didn't understand or know the real meaning of the Christian holiday of Christmas - the celebration of the birth of God's only begotten son.

Today, it seems that most political and big businesses use only "Happy Holidays" in fear that it might offend some nonbelieving atheist. Now I have nothing against the phrase "Happy Holidays," but then I am offended when somebody tries to tell me I shouldn't use the phrase "Merry Christmas."

Take a hike to all of you who think that way. I am a Christian and it is my duty as a Christian to stand up to my beliefs as this is still the United States of America and it still has the freedom of religion, not from religion. Even if we ever lost that freedom, no government nor dictator will ever stop me from saying "Merry Christmas" or believing in the virgin birth of Christ.

Don't get me wrong, I know several Jewish and Muslim individuals and I will tell them "Happy Holidays" out of respect for their religious beliefs, but for the atheists, Merry Christmas.

Russ Bray

Laurel, Montana

To paraphrase:

"Happy Holidays, Muslims and Jews. Merry Christmas Christians... Fuck you, atheists."

*sigh*

"I know several black people. Some of my best friends are black."

Sound familiar?

We have a long road ahead of us. Hang in there, folks.

Oh, and Happy Holidays.

Jim Downey's picture

Sunday morning round-up.

Some quickies for a Sunday morning...

Via MeFi is a long and engaging article about a Christian nutter who thinks that he's the next Walt Disney. Except, you know, he builds houses and stuff.

The NYT has a nice piece about funding faith-based prison programs, part of their Christ's Mission, Caesar's Money series.

There's also a good story on the problems that the National Geographic Society has encountered with trying to establish a model for human settlement around the world through DNA samples of isolated indigenous people. They've run into problems with these societies being concerned that it may challenge their origin myths, among other concerns.

And lastly, if you didn't catch this entry over at PZ's place yesterday, go take a look. It links to this insane site, chock full of creamy nuttiness. Be sure to turn off your speakers before following that second link. Trust me on this.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

I Believe!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Look honestly at Spiderman, and you'll have to believe

By DR. GRAHAM CRACKER
SYNDICATED COLUMNIST

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I read a book attacking religion recently written by an a-superheroist, and it convinced me to believe in a-superheroism as the only logical way to live. Spiderman doesn't exist, and the sooner we admit it, the better off we'll be. I respect your sincerity, but sincerity isn't enough. -- A.G.

DEAR A.G.: I'm interested that you say you have decided to "believe in a-superheroism" -- because that's what a-superheroism is: a belief or faith. In other words, you can't prove scientifically that Spiderman doesn't exist; you can only accept it by faith.

Just because you don't find any evidence for the existence of Spiderman doesn't prove that He doesn't exist. After all, there may be a great deal of evidence for Spiderman's existence that you are simply ignoring, or have misjudged or misunderstood. You may even be driven to disbelieve in Spiderman because you want to run your own life, and you know you can't live any way you want to if Spiderman really exists.

That is why I challenge you to look at Peter Parker. The "Amazing Spider-Man" comic book series makes a startling claim about Peter Parker -- one that will change your life if you find it is true. The "Amazing Spider-Man" comic book series says Peter Parker was Spiderman, who was bitten by a radioactive spider and took upon Himself the proportional strength and abilities of the spider (which is what we celebrate at ComicCon). The "Amazing Spider-Man" TV show says, "Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can, spins a web, any size, Catches thieves, just like flies, Look out! Here comes the Spider-man!" (Episode 1:18).

Do you want to know if Spiderman exists -- and not only that He exists, but that He cares about you and wants you to be with Him in New York City? Then look honestly at Peter Parker as He is presented in the pages of the "Amazing Spider-Man" comic book series. Your life will never be the same.

Contact the Rev. Graham Cracker c/o Graham Cracker Comic Association, 1 Graham Cracker Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28201, phone 877-555-2426, or see the Web site http://www.marvel.com/comics/Spider-Man

Brent Rasmussen's picture

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like [insert your god here]mas!

Ah! I love the season! Every year on December 25th the church is lit with candles, priests in white garments celebrate the birth of the Son of God! The Savior was born on December 25th, of a virgin mother. He came from heaven to be born as a man, to redeem men from their sin. He was truly the "reason for the season".

Praise Mithras.

Unfortunately, the early Christians, acting in an eerily predictive manner, established the dominance of their religion by slaughtering Mithras' faithful, razing His temples, and burning His sacred texts.

And Christians still try and claim that they are "unique".

Bah, humbug.

Happy Holidays, Folks! Heheheh...

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Dennis Prager And The Dominionists

Dennis Prager, the right-wing radio talk show host, has started some spirited discussion across the nation. In a recent column, "America, not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on," he suggested that even though it's not a law, and even though the U.S. Constitution specifically forbids religious tests for office, and even though the tradition of taking the oath of office by "swearing on" a holy text from the individual's own faith tradition is not a requirement - that newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison, who is a Muslim, should bring not only the Koran to his ceremonial swearing-in, but also a Christian Bible - a religious text he does not believe in and does not follow.

Why?

Well, apparently because Dennis Prager doesn't want to piss off the schoolyard bully, the Christian Dominionists.

Prager responds to the critics of his original column in a new column entitled "A response to my critics – and a solution".

His "response" is laughable. A weird mish-mash of wishful thinking, stuttering indignation that anyone would dare question his opinions on the matter, paranoid claims of "hate filled attacks" from left-wing bloggers, backed up by smoke and mirrors and assertions as to how things "ought to be". No evidence, no law, no statistics, nothing to confirm that it would be the end of American Civilization, as Prager claims, if - *gasp!* - the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitutional guarantees of Freedom from a religious test for office and freedom of religious expression were extended to a newly-elected American Congressman who doesn't happen to be - *double gasp!!* - Christian.

His "solution" is to bow to the bullying and to have Ellison voluntarily give up his own civil rights because if he doesn't, the Christians will be really mad at him. That's it. Nothing else.

*sigh*

[Dennis Prager] I am for no law to be passed to prevent Keith Ellison or anyone else from bringing any book he wants to his swearing-in, whether actual or ceremonial. But neither I nor tens of millions of other Americans will watch in silence as the Bible is replaced with another religious text for the first time since George Washington brought a Bible to his swearing-in. It is not I, but Keith Ellison, who has engaged in disuniting the country. He can still help reunite it by simply bringing both books to his ceremonial swearing-in. Had he originally announced that he would do that, I would have written a different column – filled with praise of him. And there would be a lot less cursing and anger in America.

Yes, yes. I am fully aware that Dennis Prager is not a Christian either, but he insists on asserting the moral superiority of Christians and seems to be advocating for nothing less than a Christian Theocracy to be installed in this country.

In short, he's a very strange, very confused individual.

Dennis Prager - I am speaking directly to you. The Constitution applies to everyone - not just to Christians. That means that you, me, and Keith Ellison can confidently practice our religion, or choose not to practice any religion at all, without fear of reprisals or punishment by our government. Christianity has held a privileged place in American society for so long that it's adherents - and deluded folks such as yourself - seem to think that it's traditions and ceremonies are akin to law. And that to go contrary to them is "disuniting America".

This is an abysmally ignorant position to hold, Dennis. You have made the classic blunder of considering the traditions and superstitions of your tribe to be laws of nature. They're not.

Our strength as a country comes from our fierce desire to protect our fellow citizen's civil rights. This desire forms the basis of, and is codified into the Constitution. In other words, we all have to watch each other's backs.

What you're doing is throwing a brave fellow American to the wolves to kowtow to the strongest bully in the tribe, the Christian Dominionists.

It makes me sick.

Grow a spine, for goodness' sake, and stand up for what's right for a change.

Jim Downey's picture

Satan is Dead.

Rejoice, fellow atheists, Satan is Dead! I saw it on the news.

Now that he's out of the way, the whole problem with evil is resolved, and we'll no longer need to have the god-botherers telling us that we're going to hell, right?

And I'm sure they didn't *really* get elected public officials and police officers involved in the making of this little revival ad, right? Those are actors, I'm sure...they're so polished and smooth, after all.

Yeesh.

via MeFi

Jim Downey

Jim Downey's picture

God needs a Jet!

Via MeFi comes news that Benny Hinn is fleecing his flock for, well, here, read it yourself: (actually, I don't recommend you go to the site)

As a result, we have recently taken delivery on our Gulfstream G4SP plane, which we call Dove One. I have enclosed a beautiful photo-filled brochure to explain more about this incredible ministry tool that will increase the scope of our abilities to preach the Gospel around the globe. Now we must pay the remainder of the down payment, and I am asking the Lord Jesus to speak to 6,000 of my precious partners to sow a seed of $1,000 in the next ninety days. And I am praying, even as I write this letter, that you will be one of them!

I know that as you obey the Lord, He will open heaven wide and cause a mighty harvest of blessings to descend upon your life and all that you do!

Yup, God needs a jet. Or, more accurately, a *new* jet, because Benny already has at least one. He just wants a new one. I dunno, maybe the old one doesn't get enough souls-per-gallon or something. But I'm sure that you'll want to contribute to help him out (with the $1k donation, you get your own model of the Dove One, and have your name placed in his private study alcove on the plane - presumeably where he can laugh at your gullibility...)

Jim Downey's picture

Yeah, I'm a masochist...

Every now and again, I like to go poke around on one of the less mainstream religious sites, just to see how far the pathology can go. This morning somewhere (sorry, I don't recall where I came across it...) I saw a reference to one of my old favorites: Rapture Ready. If you've heard of the Left Behind books, or know about the whole idea of the "Rapture", then you'll not be too surprised by what you'll find on this site. But still, go. It's worth a visit, if not to check the current Rapture Index (now at a fairly-high 162 - above 145 we're advised to 'fasten your seat belts'), then just to read things like this:

Mockers And Detractors

Whenever an unbeliever sends me an email message that attacks or mocks the pre-trib rapture, I always think of the irony they are imposing upon themselves. Someday, the rapture will take place, and these folks will be dumbfounded.

Even when I get some rather nasty letters that condemn me to the fires of hell or that label me as a raving lunatic, it doesn't bother me because I know it would be punishment enough for anyone to miss the rapture. I see no need to take the attacks personally. I think after the event, these folks will be blaming me for not trying hard enough to convince them of their folly.

Jim Downey's picture

Peace sign wreath = Satan

Ah, the insanity is just about complete. Thanks to this story, we can now see that some of the Christian kooks will gladly try and do anything to put their 'deep faith' in the service of their political goals.

Yeah, I know, no surprise. But you have to admit the obvious absurdity of claiming that being in support of peace during the holiday season is the antithesis of Christianity, according to the clowns on their little power trip in this homeowner's association.

When religious belief is so plastic as to be twisted to meet any predetermined goal, isn't that indicative that perhaps, just perhaps, it isn't really the "absolute and universal truth" that its adherents claim?

Jim Downey

Jim Downey's picture

Jesus lived, moved to Japan, died at 106...

No, really. See, his younger brother swapped places with him on the Cross, allowing Jesus to slip away, move to Japan and become a rice farmer who lived to age 106. It's all here.

Actually, that site is pretty good because the first part is all the BS, the last part is debunking the nonsense. And it has some pretty pictures of Japan. Pretty clearly, the whole thing was cooked up back in the '30s in order to draw tourists.

But of course the THIAOOUBA kooks actually believe this crap. Reading their page about it is an exercise in just how blind people can wilfully be when it suits their purpose.

(Via MeFi)

Jim Downey

Jim Downey's picture

I am a bad atheist.

I have a little confession to make: I am a bad atheist. I haven't read Dawkins, or Harris, or even Russell. No wait, scratch that last - I think I have read some of Bertrand's stuff, but it was back during either college or grad school, like 283 years ago.

Anyway. I'm not terribly intellectual about my atheism. Nor, really, about my problems with religion (which I see as a separate matter). That's why I read other people's work whom I respect. Here on UTI, over at PZ's place, and elsewhere. I am glad to be able to get some insight into the current state of atheism, and learn a lot in the short amount of time I have. Intellectually lazy, I realize, but there it is. And I think that there is a place for free-thinkers who are just average people, not necessarily academics or scientists, because when you think about it, the vast majority of people who profess a religion are just average people as well. There's gotta be some balance.

But like I said, I respect those who take a more academic interest, who are willing to jump in and read the latest books by the thinkers on our side, and even, like in this wonderful post by Amanda over on Pandagon, the crap that comes out from the religious apologists in order to refute it.

Brent Rasmussen's picture

Welcome To America, You Hellbound Spawn Of Satan

This whole story just makes me shudder uncontrollably. I mean, wow.

[Raw Story] When Polish student Michael Gromek, 19, went to America on a student exchange, he found himself trapped in a host family of Christian fundamentalists. What followed was a six-month hell of dawn church visits and sex education talks as his new family tried to banish the devil from his soul. Here's his story.

"When I got out of the plane in Greensboro in the US state of North Carolina, I would never have expected my host family to welcome me at the airport, wielding a Bible, and saying, 'Child, our Lord sent you half-way around the world to bring you to us.' At that moment I just wanted to turn round and run back to the plane."

I can imagine my own 19 year old atheist daughter just flipping out in this situation. Kudos to Michael Gromek for handling a really awful set of circumstances in a mature fashion.

(Tip of the ballcap to UTI reader Meara Bilozir. Thanks for the heads up, Meara!)

Jim Downey's picture

Some quickies...

...just in case you missed them in the news. And besides, everyone needs a quickie now and again.

First off, from CNN comes news that the Marines in charge of the annual "Toys for Tots" campaign have resolved what to do with an offer for 4,000 verse-spouting Jesus Dolls. The company which makes the dolls just couldn't understand why the dolls wouldn't be suitable for everyone. *sigh* Show the Toys for Tots folks a little love, if you can.

Next up, Dan Savage has a great column in The Onion about why the whole Ted Haggard thing should be cause for rejoicing. I'm not gay, but I've seen what my GLBT friends have suffered at the hands of the ravin' fundies, and it is all due to the bullshit of "Give your heart to Jesus, and he will change you" mindset they have. The money quote from Dan:

If giving his heart to Jesus couldn't cure Haggard, what hope is there for the likes of me? If Jesus can't be bothered to work a miracle for the most powerful evangelical minister in the country, what "hope" is there for the average dyke?

Brent Rasmussen's picture

The Evolution Of A Thinking Christian

Chris Campbell is a hell-obsessed Christian opinion columnist for the online version of the Houston Chronicle. He also write a blog, sponsored by the Houston Chronicle, called Thinking Christian. Chris and I have tangled before.

Chris' latest post attempts to tackle Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion. In it, Chris' employs possibly the lamest creationist apologetic of them all; The Argument From Personal Incredulity which says, basically, "I don't understand how it happened, so god did it".

[Chris Campbell] Also, I disagree with his arguement that complex things don't have to be designed and made by intelligence. When was the last time you saw a watch just evolve from a piece of metal all by itself. Even if you let the metal sit there for millions of years I bet you that a watch will never appear. What need was there for a human being to evolve by itself and how could it survive slow changes? It just makes no sense and sounds totally impossible that just by slow changes human would appear. Even over a supposed period of millions of years it just is not possible by chance or by slow changes.

More below the fold...

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