Thursday, September 23, 2010

Now for Something Completely Different

This week we're going to take a break off from critiquing religion in order to do something that will hopefully be just plain funny. Don't worry about it though because next week I will be back in action tackling theism once more. You can also see this post as being at least partially about the sorts of attitudes that religion, particularly fundamentalist Christianity and Islam, have come to create. Some of you may remember the Salem Witch trials where some people who were acting strange were eventually executed under an entirely false accusation of Witchcraft. While no one was hanged someone's performance was discriminated against. Who you ask? Katy Perry...

Whether you like her music or not (I personally don't) it is no doubt that she has attempted to gain relevancy by being controversial. One of her most popular songs is all about experimentation with bi-sexual tendencies, something that more and more women seem to be doing in order to gain male attention (and I have to say it works every time). The song may suck but the images it conjures up... well, let's just say they involve sucking of a different type.

Recently however Katy Perry turned up on Sesame Street, the wholesome favorite featuring furry puppets talking about preschool level education. She apparently set out to do a duet with everyone's favorite high-pitched monster, Elmo. But after re-watching the tape apparently the musical number was pulled. Why? Because apparently Katy Perry is actually a woman, and, this is news to no one, she has breasts (see photo above). Check out the full footage here:

At no point do her breasts burst from her entirely tasteful dress although at one point they are bouncing energetically (to my bemusement) they are fully contained at all times. Yet the decision was made that this was too hot for the toddler age children who watch the show. But then when these sorts of things happen it is always CLAIMED to be because of the children's well being... Did I miss a meeting? Don't most kids breast feed until they're toddler age? Aren't breasts entirely natural? Why must be have a Puritanical hatred of our own bodies and instill the idea that the human body is gross and icky into children? I mean we don't want to teach kids too much too soon but we also don't want them to attach shame to various body parts... There's nothing wrong with Perry's dress.

So needless to say when I heard about this I was outraged and the more comments I saw on the internet that expressed outrage about this whore showing off her skin to kids made me grow more and more angry about the moronic Puritan assholes who I regret to call my fellow citizens. This also brought up the age old hypocrisy of American television which states that violence is perfectly okay to depict on television but sex must be skirted around carefully. The same thing goes for movies. Drop the F bomb three or four times or show nudity and you get an R rating from the MPAA but you can kill all the Storm Troopers you want and still get a PG rating. This is inherently backwards. Sexual behaviors are natural - most violent ones are not. The only context in which violence is natural is if it is for survival's sake.

Now on to the next stage of my thought process after seeing the video. A thought occurred to me as I watched it... Elmo... he's naked. I thought back to the countless times I watched Sesame Street... Elmo was always naked, in fact the vast majority of puppets on that show are naked. Big Bird, Snuffy... Ernie and Bert do wear clothing, however they also live together and sleep in the same room - not that there's anything wrong with that.

In fact there are tons of semi-naked cartoon and children's characters... So its perfectly fine for any non-human cartoon character to be entirely in the buff but Katy Perry's dress is inappropriate - Huh? Katy Perry's dress even reminded me of a Disney Character, Belle from beauty and the beast.

And what about Donald Duck? That guy doesn't wear pants. Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life doesn't wear em. Ariel from the little mermaid JUST HAD SEASHELLS and that still got a G-rating. Plankton from Spongebob is entirely in the buff, although I don't think protozoa have sex so I guess there isn't an issue there... besides, his wife is a computer so they'd have to cyber anyway. Bugs and Daffy were usually naked and when they were dressed it was most typically in DRAG. Yet the majority of these are all deemed perfectly fine... Now I know what you're thinking, these are non-human characters...

But what about Barbie dolls, they have breasts don't they? Barbie and Ken, of course, marketed mainly for the 6-12 Demo, a little older than those who watch Sesame Street but then again the only undressing you can do on Katy Perry is with your eyes - a Barbie and Ken can be entirely disrobed.


All in all I am appalled at the sheer stupidity of those that choose what to censor. I don't understand society's double-standard of allowing unnatural violent acts while banning showing some skin... I don't understand the Puritanical sense of certain parts of our bodies being shameful and I don't think that is a healthy thing to teach children. Much like the fuss over Janet Jackson's nipple studs at the Super Bowl a few years ago this incident seems much ado about nothing. Thank you for your time and I will see you next week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Does Yahweh Drive a Sports Car?

This week we’re going to talk about one of the more peculiar characteristics of the Biblical God as depicted in numerous verses in the Bible - his insecurity and desire to be worshiped.

Many Christians today believe that when they sing a hymn of praise God is up in Heaven listening and enjoying himself. In this way music is much like the smell of burning flesh that, in Old Testament animal sacrifices, God was also pleased with. God enjoys being worshiped so much that worshiping any other deity will get you sent straight to Hell.

You see God, much like a vain and insecure girlfriend, is very jealous. In fact not only does God admit that he is jealous in Exodus 34:14 but Jealous is actually his NAME. Exodus 20:5, a few chapters earlier, God again admits he’s jealous. This is also the verse where he claims that he will visit the sins of the Father’s onto the sons until the fourth generation.

So he’s jealous enough to punish anyone serving another deity and vengeful enough to punish the sins of a Father by bringing down wrath on future generations. So one has to wonder… Where are the qualities that are worthy of praise exactly? How insecure is this guy that he needs constant worship and must brutally punish any defectors to other faiths?

In Revelations 4 there is talk of four living creatures which continuously bow down and worship God. In fact that is all they seem to do is Worship. Revelations 4:6-9

“… In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." 9Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever …“

This can’t be right can it? According to Christians this is the same God who sent the Israelites to slaughter the Amalekite children. The same one who drowned thousands of innocent children in the Great Flood and decided to punish the first born in Egypt instead of the Pharaoh who was actually to blame.

This is the same deity who’s best plan to save humanity was to get his own son to become a man and perform miracles before being brutally killed as a sacrifice for humanity’s sin BUT leave no evidence behind and require people to believe the story without any evidence in order to be saved. My point - The God of the Bible deserves no praise. He’s a bumbling, angry, jealous tyrant who is repeatedly described as jealous and sitting on a throne with a crown. This regal personification no doubt came in handy when European Kings wanted to claim divine right to rule.

I have established throughout the posts of this blog that Yahweh is anything BUT deserving of praise and yet he demands it by not only outlawing other religions but also outlawing graven images. Along with requiring praise OR ELSE the God of the Bible also sets up plenty of draconian and immoral rules. You can’t eat certain things, you can’t wear certain types of fabric and all sorts of people deserved to be stoned to death for various offenses. Even working on the Sabbath was punishable by death. But then Jesus breaks that rule in the Gospels. So God can’t even conform to his own rules, even in human form… I guess it makes sense when Romans 2:11 says: “For there is no respect of persons with God.”

So God demands worship and gives us no respect? Or is the King James Version wrong in using the word respect (it is a different word in other translations)… But then if a different word should be used isn’t this a translation error? And that wouldn’t happen in a flawless and infallible book. Fundamentalism doesn’t work, taking the Bible literally doesn’t work.

Yahweh is apparently insecure about the size of his… you know… or maybe he doesn’t have one. That explains why many think Heaven will just be one big praise-fest singing the glories of God… For eternity. Thanks but no thanks.


I spend a lot of time picking on the Bible and Biblical Literalism but I’d like to spend a few paragraphs talking about something that is equally invalid as a belief - New Age. New Age beliefs come in all shapes and sizes this is because there is no underlying core belief system here. New Age is a misnomer, what you actually have is a combination of old beliefs put together into new combinations based on what ideas appeal to a person or, as I’ve heard people say, RESONATE. What resonates is basically whatever supernatural elements sound best.

Not a fan of Heaven? No problem, reincarnation works too. Want Heaven anyway? No problem, New Age beliefs are flexible that way. Make up your own version of Heaven if you want. New Age means essentially anything goes. New Age beliefs, I feel, as best summed up by this line of dialogue from the film Ghost Busters:

Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full-trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster, and the theory of Atlantis?

New Age beliefs thrive on pseudoscientific ideas being propagated into pop culture and they also thrive on your laziness in doing research. That is why these ideas are reduced to buzz-words and vague ideas, so that a belief in them can be picked up and put down depending upon your mood. This is becoming very common amongst people who leave mainstream religion behind or never really become in depth. Rather than move toward more secular logic based beliefs they head off toward a fringe of “pick what you like” beliefs.

While certainly preferable to something like fundamentalist Christianity these New Age beliefs have no real basis and reality. Any amount of scientific research will quickly overturn these ideas. Unfortunately the internet has become crowded with sites in support of these pseudoscientific ideas and New Age, unlike atheism, is selling itself at a much faster rate. This is because New Age provides all the positives of a mainstream religion, like a sense of friendship and community as well as the prospect of an after-life, without the negatives - such as church services, obscenely strict moral codes and the chance of eternal punishment.

I think that with time the debate will be won by reason and skepticism but for now the American public, as they lose their mainstream faith, will turn to these fringe concepts for comfort.
The Negative Aspects of New Age -

One of the primary negative aspects of New Age is the fringe belief known as the 2012 Doomsday. While some New Agers reject the event as a Doomsday and claim it will be a time of spiritual ascension thousands of others claim it will be the End of the World. The 2012 Doomsday has become popular within mainstream media as a source for movies, religious propaganda and endless amounts of money made from pseudoscience. The issue here is that con-men are spreading genuine fear about something which has been repeatedly debunked since the early 90s.

You can find more info on 2012 debunked on a great many websites so I won't go into why it's BS here.

See you next week.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Story of Lot

Warning: The following contains some mention of sexual acts. Reader discretion is advised.

This may seem like an odd title to those unfamiliar with their Bibles but many of us who were raised Christians recognized Lot as the name of Abraham’s Nephew. Abraham, of course, was the guy who made a famous land deal with Yahweh officially establishing a certain area as a promised land. Abraham is also famous for being a notorious bad Father but then again if he was taking lessons from Yahweh one can understand (See: Yahweh is a Bad Father).

Lot spends some time hiking around the wilderness with Abraham and they have some good times together eventually accumulating such massive herds of livestock that they begin bumping heads. In order to avoid any rivalries Lot decides to head off and pitch his tent at Sodom in Genesis 13. Now at first this seems like a good decision, the last thing Lot wants is any bad blood with his Uncle Abraham but in Chapter 19 of Genesis things go bad.

You see Sodom and Gomorrah are apparently the modern day equivalent of Las Vegas and Amsterdam, they are places of sin… or more aptly put places of pleasure and free will. Yahweh, as we have established in previous posts, hates it when we use our free will to do anything he deems bad. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, at least according to the Bible, are so sinful that they will rape anything that moves which is bad news for a man making a living primarily as a herder of sheep.

So God sends two angels to warn Lot of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Apparently angels are pretty hot because immediately a group of angry and very aroused citizens emerge from the city hoping to sleep with the angels. One has to wonder why Lot has not moved away before since, as we are about to see, he has two daughters who are apparently virgins and desperate to get some. Apparently the night-life in this cities had Lot pitching a tent… if you know what I mean. Yeah bad joke, I know…

So here is the first amazingly sexist and horrific part of the story, Lot decides he wants to protect the anal sanctity of these perfect strangers he has just met (the ones set to warn him) so what does he do… Does he

A) Get some sort of weapon
B) Allow himself to be raped
C) Take his family and GTFO
D) Offer his virgin daughters to be raped

If you answered D you are correct. Yep, that’s Lot’s attempt to save the angels from being sodomized:

“ 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof." - Genesis 19:6-8

Take my daughters, violate them in whatever way you wish, just don’t harm these two random dudes who I just met because they are under my roof… The real reason: Women are second class citizens. Thankfully the angels lead them away from the angry rape-mob just as the Shock and Awe begins.

I’ve had plenty of fundamentalists defend this story claiming that those living in Sodom and Gomorrah deserved to die for their sins and while rape certainly is a heinous crime I think that offering your daughters up to be raped by a random angry mob is at least EQUAL to the crime of those committing the rape. So Lot was still righteous enough to be saved even after offering his daughters? Does Yahweh also consider women second class citizens? I think the next part of the story PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does, or that at least the writers of the Bible want us to think he does.

The next part is the escape with the angels in which Lot’s wife, having empathy for those being brutally murdered behind them in a fiery act of wrath, turns around to look back. Now she is warned not to look back but she’s not as heartless as the rest of them and so she does look back. Instantly she is turned into a pillar of salt… simply for sympathy, empathy, for thinking that some in the city deserved mercy…perhaps even it was simply pity. Whatever the emotions going through her head she sure learned her lesson, except that she was transformed into salt and probably sent straight to Hell and therefore did not learn her lesson. So what is the lesson WE are meant to learn from the story? Is it one about not looking back to sin after we have escape it? The one I take away from it is that Yahweh is quicker to judge women than men. Lot, after all, offered his daughters to be raped brutally by criminals and was SPARED by God while Lot’s wife merely looked back to the cities as they were destroyed and was instantaneously killed.

It isn’t much longer into the story of Lot that things get even worse as far as the sexism goes. The angels leave Lot and his daughters and they hide in a cave. Here the daughters, apparently disappointed that they can’t get their orgy on, lament about how there’s no men around to carry on their Father’s lineage and with their Mother dead they decide to accept the responsibility. So Lot’s daughters, who for some twisted reason have a Daddy fetish, decide to get dear old Dad plastered as Hell and then have sex with him. Not only is this pretty gross it’s also odd considering the fact that a few verses ago Lot was ready to throw them to the crowd of criminals… Again, Women are Second Class Citizens. Then again what do you expect, after all Yahweh created woman from ribs and that was after he had paraded the animals before Adam and none of them were suitable “helpers” (whatever that means).

So both girls eventually conceive and their children go on to be the Father’s of enemy nations of the Israelites. So the incestuous acts are condemned BUT LOT OFFERING THEM AS RAPE BAIT ISN’T? And what’s the moral lesson here? I’m just baffled as to how this stuff remains in the modern Bible… I mean there are kids that read this book! It just goes to show you that committees on what makes it into the Bible shouldn’t have stopped centuries ago, they should have continued until today. My guess is if they had there would be two things in the Bible:

Love thy neighbor and the Golden Rule.

But then love thy neighbor would apply to Sodomites as well and we couldn’t have that could we? People would get the idea its okay to show sympathy to their fellow human when that person is overcome with disaster and bad fortune. Another thing is… What happened to the children of Sodom and Gomorrah? People who have sex as often as them probably have a lot of children, even if many were gay or bi-sexual surely for a city for flourish there must be procreation… And yet the Bible says nothing on the subject. And why not turn the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah away from their sins. If God was truly a God of mercy could he have not done such…

So we see that when taking the Bible literally, like many fundamentalists do, the stories just fall apart. Join me next week for more insights, interpretations and opinions on fundamentalism, Biblical literalism and theism in general. Until then I leave you with the Gospel of Titen:

Love everyone.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Now abides reason, logic and empathy and they’re all pretty awesome.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Creationism in Science Classes?

This may be a mainly American phenomenon but here in the states we have a fairly large contingency of something called Creationists. Much like those that still believe the Earth is flat or that the sun revolves around it Creationists cling to ancient ideas and concepts in favor of the well-founded scientific conclusions. Most Creationists here in the USA are Christian and they seek to supplant any scientific concepts that contradict their particular myth. Where do they get their myth? Why Genesis, the first book of the Bible, of course.

The odd thing is that while concentrating on anything scientific that contradicts their creation story they are neglecting to notice that the Bible itself contains two contradictory creation accounts.

Genesis one begins with God creating the Heavens and the Earth. Many mistakenly believe that God starts out by making the Earth or by saying let there be light. Nope. Genesis 1:1 says God created the Heavens and the Earth. It says that the Earth was without form, so apparently it existed. Then God creates light and separates the waters below from the waters above. This alone should give Creationists and Fundamentalists pause. After all this is depicting God creating the firmament, a dome that blocked out the oceans that filled outer space. References to the firmament litter the Bible, including one in Noah that claims the windows of Heaven were opened. For ancient people this was not only an explanation for why the sky was blue (water) and why it rained (water coming from above the firmament) but it also served to explain the sun moon and stars as each being fixed within layers of the firmament and spinning around the Earth. Yet you don’t see too many Bible believers talking about their being water in space above a firmament that covers the Earth… Now it is true there are Geocentrists (those that believe the Earth is the center of the solar system) still out there but even amongst Creationists they are considered nuts…

My question is if we are willing to ridicule Geocentrists than why does the American media, and indeed many Americans themselves, not do the same to Creationists. They’re getting their ideas from a book that claims the heavens are filled with water. The frightening thing is that there have been powerful political forces on the side of teaching Creationism in schools. The so called Intelligent Design movement, a deceptive rebranding of Creationism, has been fighting tooth and nail to put their religious views into science classrooms.

Most, however, are not directly pushing that the Bible be offered in these classes, instead their cry has been to “Teach the Controversy”. By this they mean they want students to be told that Evolutionary theory is only a theory in the colloquial sense and not in the scientific sense. They want their own personal, religiously motivated, objections to Evolution to be voiced in class. What they want is a seed of doubt to be planted. They want fact and sound science to be presented as if they were flimsy and fleeting. They want one hundred and fifty plus years of scientific progress to be torn to shreds by their strawman attacks.

I am unsure if they would ever be so bold as to teach the Biblical creation story in the classrooms if they won their case. If they did however I have no doubts that it would fail miserably. After all even if they taught Creationism what exactly would they teach? Magical Creation is hardly a replacement for sound science. That is not to say we should give up the fight against them and allow them to teach but merely that on equal footing Creation cannot stand up to scrutiny and has no evidence in support of it. After all how does one find evidence of a Creator who appears to be using direct divine command to summon things into existence via magic?

The honest truth is that the majority of them do not want Creation on equal footing with Evolution. They want to tear down their strawman of Evolution and give their myth a few scientific sounding words like intelligent designer and convert using the school system. Not only is this dishonest and deceptive but it is in direct violation of the First Amendment and the separation of Church and State.

Why are Evolution and Christianity at Odds?

The truth is they probably shouldn’t be. Let’s face it, there are 2 billion Christians on the planet and of that number only a certain percentage are Creationists. The vast majority of believers accept Evolution without much of a problem. Why is that? The answer is that the fundamentalists and Creationists have committed a massive fallacy, they have confused their God for the book written about Him. The Bible has become their deity.

I used to be a Christian so I know that at the heart of the religion is supposed to be a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many fundamentalists have entirely lost sight of this idea, they have replaced God with the Bible and have assumed it is his word merely because they have been taught that it is. I too struggled with fundamentalism for a time, my Father was a fundamentalist and it wasn’t until I read the Bible without assuming it was true from the start that I began to see the silly and absurd aspects to it. It is a book of myths and stories most of which are meant to convey morals or proverbs. Some of these morals and proverbs still ring true today but many of the stories are also barbaric and primitive or depict God as vengeful, sometimes downright evil.

Another reason Evolution and Christianity should have no real problem is that Evolution explains only bio-diversity. Evolution IS NOT about the origin of life. The origin of life is an entirely different scientific topic known as Abiogenesis.

Arguing against Evolution is like arguing against gravity (see: Intelligent Falling). Even if a God exists it is clear from genetics, the fossil record, morphological similarities, and behavioral similarities that Evolution is the source of bio-diversity. Evolution might just be a natural process by which God created, however Creationists would never concede to this as it directly contradicts their myth of the week long magic trick.

It's Confession Time:

I used to be an Old Earth Creationist. Yes back in my teenage years when I still took the Bible seriously on most of what it said you could find me online researching how Evolution was a lie and mankind had been created by God. It’s important to note that I’ve always had an interest in cryptozoology a branch of pseudoscience that specializes in things like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Many of the creatures hunted by cryptozoologists sound a lot like dinosaurs (Mokele Mbembe for instance).

This led me to the rather insane conclusion, along with quite a few Creationist hoaxed artifacts and outright lies I was sucked into via the internet, that dinosaurs and man had co-existed. The primary hoax I fell into was the Ica Stones, a set of rocks with carvings of dinosaurs and other out of place animals in contact with human beings. The hoaxer who carved them actually confessed in 1973 but thanks to Creationists it lives on to deceive future generations.

Creationist brainwashing against Evolution had such a devastating effect that it wasn’t until I was an agnostic-theist leaning towards atheism, some years later, that I began to accept Evolution. It wasn’t that I believed in Creation anymore but that I was still resistant to Evolution. For a few months there I’d even tried to believe human beings were created by aliens but it didn’t take long for the evidence to overturn such a silly idea.

So what finally changed my mind and convinced me that Evolution was worth believing? Several Youtubers were integral in the fall of the last vestiges of my brain-washing. They are:

Aronra, Thunderf00t and DonExodus2

Would Creationists want scientists in their churches preaching how Creationism is a theory in crisis and that Evolution is a better alternative? Would they immediately claim this is a violation of their first amendment rights? I think they would go, pardon my French, apeshit if anyone tried that. And with that I think the argument is over, Creationism loses.

If there are any subjects regarding religion, Christianity or the Bible that you would like me to tackle in a future post please let me know. Your ideas, input and opinions are appreciated.