July 28, 2008
So I was thinking about this the other day… There are the problems of geological vs. God time, etc. But one thing just occurred to me.
God created man in his image. He created all the animals, and the plants, and gave man dominion above them. Man was king, he was satisfied, and he was happy. But then God thought man was lonely, and on the same day he created Man, he created Woman.
Let me ask you a question…
What Man in his right mind, king of his castle, master of all before him on earth, would get lonely and need a mate within a day? I mean, sure, within a week (possibly a few months if God gave Man beer and football instead) Man might get horny, but a day?
So this God, who we’re supposed to believe is kind and loving, presents us with a creature that seduces us into a fall from grace with her feminine wiles, such wiles that continue to this day to get us men to do all sorts of crazy things to vie for their attention.
As for me, I could have done with the beer and football. That truly would have made the Garden of Eden paradise on Earth!
July 16, 2008
Having a Catholic wife is sometimes interesting. As I was raised Lutheran (the original heretics!), I learned at an early age that large-scale powerful organizations were prone to corruption and should be mistrusted. Maybe that’s how I became a libertarian?
That being said, I still ended up getting married in the Catholic church, with a full mass, and a drunken Irish Catholic priest… I made my guests earn their spot at the open bar at the reception, dammit! But I didn’t, and wouldn’t, enter the classes to join the church. Obviously I’ve got my own issues with religion in general, but I know that if I ever made it back to a church of any sort, it wouldn’t be the Catholics.
This story makes me glad not to consider myself amongst their ranks:
A University of Central Florida student claims that he is getting death threats for messing with something sacred.
Webster Cook says that, instead of eating a Eucharist wafer as he was expected to do during the Sacrament of Holy Communion, he smuggled the blessed piece of bread out of mass. Once blessed, the piece of bread is viewed by Catholics as the true Body of Christ.
Catholics worldwide became furious.
Furious? That’s just the start of it. Others started accusing him of committing a hate crime, while many outraged fellow students are issuing complaints to bring him up before the university for a hearing.
Sorry folks… It’s just a cracker. And if you truly believe otherwise, you can believe that this student will receive otherworldly retribution for his actions; you don’t need to be the one to protect Jesus.
Appealing to this student’s respect and tolerance for your beliefs by calmly asking him to return the cracker makes you look magnanimous and coherent. Calling for him to be brought up on hate crime charges for stealing a cracker makes you look childish and insane. Which one do you want to be?
Below The Beltway linked with The Right To Be A Jerk
April 4, 2007
If human beings were intelligently designed, why are our knees and backs so prone to failure?
I mean, the central nervous system is elegant and all, but I’ve known quite a few people that have picked up a heavy object in their mid-20’s, and are now consigned to a life of pain. Knees and backs were not intelligently designed, unless God’s a sadist. What’s the deal?
April 2, 2007
Alright, so plants turn CO2 into oxygen, and forestall global warming. And I’m causing it by making beer.
To see why, let’s look at step 1: the mash/boil process. In mashing and boiling, I’m burning propane in order to heat the water (and then the wort) in order to make the beer.
C3H8 + 5 02 -> 3 CO2 + 4 H20 + heat
So by burning propane, I’m creating CO2 (greenhouse gas) and water vapor (also greenhouse gas). So I’m creating global warming right there. Not to mention the direct heat created by burning.
But it gets even worse. Plants turn CO2 into oxygen, and thus forestall global warming. Well, what is malt? Malt is barley seeds, allowed to germinate before being roasted and then malted to become sugar. Hops are flowers. So I’m killing plants (in the case of malt, baby plants), and thus taking them out of the photosynthesis cycle and stopping them from reducing atmospheric CO2.
Think that’s bad? I’m just getting started! Now we have fermentation!
C6H12O6 -> 2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2 + 2 ATP
See that? The yeast turns sugar into alcohol, more CO2, and more heat.
And if I haven’t done enough, I throw that beer into a keg, and go through tanks of pressurized CO2 to carbonate and serve it. I go through a 5 lb CO2 tank every few months.
And I’m not even purchasing carbon offsets. Aren’t I just naughty?
Best Posts from around the Web linked with Why Iâ€™m Causing Global Warming By Brewing Beer
March 12, 2007
Got this in an email this morning:
You guessed it ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ IS GONE!!!
Who originally put ‘In God We Trust’ onto our currency?
My bet is that it was one of the Presidents on these coins.
All our U.S. Government has done is Dishonor them, and disgust me!!!
If ever there was a reason to boycott something, THIS IS IT!!!!
DO NOT ACCEPT THE NEW DOLLAR COINS AS CHANGE
Together we can force them out of circulation.
Please send to all on you mail list !!!
Ugh. I normally don’t give much attention to email forwards, but this one takes the cake. They show a picture of the front of a coin, casually leaving off the fact that the “In God We Trust” is printed on the edge. And, of course, they suggest that “one of these presidents” put the motto on the currency, leaving off that it was first done during the Civil War, so 15 presidents saw a currency without this, and that it wasn’t officially done until 1957, in the height of the fight against “godless communism”. But I guess the facts are but a distraction when you’re trying to whip people into a frenzy.
It’s made even worse when understanding that the US Mint recently mis-struck a quantity of coins that went through the QA process without these edge markings, so a portion of these coins were released without this motto or “E Pluribus Unum” appearing at all.
What does this mean? Well, not a whole lot, really. As with most email forwards, getting careless with the facts allows someone out there to sit around and laugh about how many people forwarded his lie. He’ll see who ends up eventually sending the message back to him, and what an uproar it might cause as millions of unthinking netizens have taken his email at face value.
And even more people will believe that there’s a sinister plot out there to remove religion from the public square.
I had to respond to this everyone on this email, to set the record straight. But as I’m known to do, I put a little spin on it with this quote from Napoleon.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
Government is, and always has been, incompetent. Now, that’s not to say that the people within government are incompetent, only that the system itself produces worthless and counterproductive outcomes. Our government “forgets” to stamp the edge of coins and lets it through their QA process because there’s no incentive for them not to. Outside of a boycott, those coins are becoming collector’s items, and once the readers of this email forward see the properly-produced coins and read the edge, any potential boycott will evaporate.
If you’re going to boycott this currency due to some worries about a motto, you’re wasting your time. However, there is a very good reason to boycott the government. After all, would you normally patronize a business who has shown anywhere near as much of both incompetence and malice as the government does? Of course, it’s tough to boycott an entity with a gun to your head and its hand in your wallet…
February 10, 2007
Well, it’s another Saturday here in Atlanta, so I need to make some decisions. The only beer I have in the house is homebrew. I’ve got plenty, but I need to decide whether I want to pick up some commercial beer as well. Since it’s Atlanta, though, I don’t need to decide whether I want to do this today, I need to decide for today AND tomorrow, because the Georgia Legislature is beholden to the Religious Right, and has made Sunday sales of alcohol illegal.
Well, as I’ve pointed out before, help is on the way. A bill was introduced to legalize the Sunday sales of beer and wine. But it began to take fire from liquor distributors who were legitimately upset that liquor wasn’t included, only beer and wine. Well, they’ve made some changes, and the law got even better.
Sen. Seth Harp, R-Midland, said the plans were designed to address criticisms of a bill he previously had introduced, which would have let communities decide whether to legalize the take-home sale of beer and wine on Sundays.
The new proposals would add liquor sales to the planâ€™s options and give communities the choice of allowing alcohol sales only after noon â€” when church services traditionally end. An unusual coalition of religious conservatives and liquor distributors had lined up against Harpâ€™s original bill.
Representatives of at least some of those liquor groups say they now support the effort.
â€˜â€˜Now that the bill includes spirits, it is the right bill for Georgia,â€™â€™ said Jay Hibbard, a vice president with the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. â€˜â€˜The overwhelming majority of Georgians support Sunday sales, and itâ€™s going to allow that overwhelming majority the opportunity to decide for themselves.â€™â€™
While I’m ideologically opposed to the noon restriction, it doesn’t seem onerous enough to fight over. After all, on the East Coast football doesn’t start until 1 PM, so it’s not like those folks out west who have to be ready by 10 AM. But the fact that they’re opening this to liquor makes things very good, because most of the really good, hard to find beers and wines aren’t available at grocery stores. Without the ability to sell liquor, it’s unclear whether it would have made financial sense for the dedicated liquor stores to be open.
But, alas, it’s still going to be a tough fight, against people who have nothing better to do than try to meddle in our lives to assuage their own moral concerns. Unfortunately, that includes the governor:
â€˜â€˜We obviously will still oppose the bill, obviously for the same reasons,â€™â€™ said Sadie Fields, director of the Georgia Christian Alliance. â€˜â€˜I grew up in an era when everything was closed on Sunday â€” now weâ€™ve encroached on the day and turned it into just another day.â€™â€™ Fields said she appreciated Harp â€˜â€˜recognizing that part of the Sabbath when people are in church,â€™â€™ but that the noon option doesnâ€™t change her mind on the plan.
Supporters of Sunday sales still have a lot of work to do if the plan is to be approved by the Legislature this year. Even if it clears both chambers, Gov. Sonny Perdue, who says he does not drink alcohol, has said it would take â€˜â€˜a lot of persuasionâ€™â€™ for him to sign it.
I challenge the Georgia legislature to overwhelmingly pass this bill. I want it to show up on Sonny’s desk with the knowledge that he’ll look like the jerk if he vetoes it. A 55%-45% vote in the legislature gives him far too much political cover to veto a bill that 80% of metro Atlanta residents and 68% of the statewide population want to see passed. If this comes to Sonny’s desk after a 70% vote, though, and he vetoes the bill, it will show the state of Georgia that he’s acting purely at the behest of the middle-Georgia religious conservatives, folks that wouldn’t be forced to legalize the sales in their own communities anyway.
Georgia, it’s time to join the 21st Century.
December 11, 2006
Over on my War On Christmas Blog post, I’ve gotten some interesting comments and trackbacks. One trackback came from a Help Save Christmas, a blog that I’m still unsure whether it’s satirical or not. Another was from a definitely-satirical War On Christmas blog. My suggestion to start one was not entirely original, it seems.
But one comment just arrived that I thought needed a response:
I agree with that – We need a national mid-winter, Non-Secular Holiday.
Below is my annual holiday rant – Happy Holidays
Consider this â€“ After Rome took over Christianity it was natural that one of the most important Roman feast days would evolve into the most important Christian holiday â€“ December 25th.
Just four day before is the Winter Solstice, Dec 21st. In the northern hemisphere the shortest day and longest night of the year. This is an occasion that has been celebrated since prehistoric times. It is a marker on the Celestial Calendar that is shared by all of us on this Earth.
Why not shake out this holiday into two days â€“ Separate the religious from the Secular â€“ The 25th will be the religious day of observance, Christians would celebrate it as they like, free from the diluting influences us infidels â€“ and, of course, it would continue to be called Christmas.
December 21st could be the day of celebration for everyone. This has always been known as Yule or Yuletide â€“ it is an ancient name for the season.
We need is a National Holiday for all of us at this time of the year.
You know what, I’ve got absolutely nothing against celebrating Yuletide. But why do we need a National Holiday? If you’re going to wait around for our Congressmen to do something likely to piss off the 85% Christian population, you’re going to be worm food by the time it happens.
Why not just start celebrating it yourself, with your friends. Maybe start an online movement to celebrate Yuletide. Get this thing off the ground yourself. Don’t wait for the government to “create” a holiday that you say has been celebrated since prehistoric times. Don’t act as if you can’t celebrate Yuletide unless the government makes it a holiday, just start doing it.
Christmas didn’t become a Federal Holiday in America until 1870. You may have an uphill battle to get Yuletide declared a holiday by the government, BUT THAT DOESN’T STOP YOU FROM CELEBRATING IT.
October 4, 2006
Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog wrote a snarky post exploiting a couple of the problems with the arguments of the people who think oil companies are keeping gas prices down to help Republicans. As an added thought, he said something brilliant:
In fact, the more I think about it, the more economics and evolution are very similar. Both are sciences that are trying to describe the operation of very complex, bottom-up, self-organizing systems. And, in both cases, there exist many people who refuse to believe such complex and beautiful systems can really operate without top-down control.
For example, certain people refuse to accept that homo sapiens could have been created through unguided evolutionary systems, and insist that some controlling authority must guide the process; we call these folks advocates of Intelligent Design. Similarly, there are folks who refuse to believe that unguided bottom-up processes can create something so complex as our industrial economy or even a clearing price for gasoline, and insist that a top-down authority is needed to run the process; we call these folks socialists.
It is interesting, then, given their similarity, that socialists and intelligent design advocates tend to be on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Their rejection of bottom-up order in favor of top-down control is nearly identical.
Oddly, they both have ascribe the same qualities to their god. For the right-wing Christian god, it is an all-knowing supreme being, that will use its power in a good and just way. For the left-wing socialists, it is an all-wise Government, that will use its power in a good and just way.
I’m not one to think either delusion is plausible, but at least the right-wingers are smart enough to believe in something that can never truly be disproven. The left wingers, despite being shown over and over that government is inherently a flawed system, continue to believe that it can work.
August 5, 2006
I was struck with a thought today. Hindus believe that we are reincarnated, and our souls traverse human and animal form based on how virtuous or “deserving” we are, right? Humans being the highest non-deity form.
And human population is increasing. Thus, we all must be continuously improving, right, or else we’d all be animals within a couple generations!
What about extinction of species? I don’t think I want to look at it as a negative anymore. Think about how many more people we can potentially have now that we don’t have to worry about the dodo birds allocating souls?
Of course, the Hindus could have it wrong, with humans being well down the chain, and we’re just a bunch of wicked former elephants…
August 2, 2006
Britain’s biggest theme park has called off the country’s first “National Muslim Fun Day” because of lack of interest, the park said Wednesday.
Alton Towers in central England was to open on September 17 for Muslims — with halal food, a strict dress code and prayer areas.
Music, gambling and alcohol were to be banned for the day and theme park rides such as “Ripsaw,” “Corkscrew” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” all segregated by sex.
Hell, I wouldn’t pay for a ticket to this either. This doesn’t sound like very much fun.
May 19, 2006
A few pundits are arguing that Christians should read the bestselling book The Da Vinci Code and see the movie to “engage the culture” and as a tool for evangelism.
By that argument, we should encourage people to read other popular, but infamous, works: Chinese dictator Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, or The Communist Manifesto. Or, why not Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic diatribe popular in Muslim circles?
You’re darn right, we should encourage people to read those books. After all, only by knowing your adversaries’ beliefs can you argue against them. There was a reason I took the “Classic and Contemporary Marxism” class at Purdue, and it wasn’t because I was aspiring to become a Marxist. What’s so scary about people reading the opposing view?
It would be wonderful to believe Christians can argue the facts to Dan Brown’s hate-filled, fictitious attack on Jesus Christ, Christianity, the Bible, Christians and history. The truth is, however, that many people have not read a Bible or understood their faith sufficiently to counter the story’s intricacies.
Shouldn’t this guy be a little bit more concerned that the Church is filled with people who have very little understanding of what they purport to believe? How can anyone be a good Christian without having a fairly clear understanding of the tenets of that faith?
Of course, there are areas where in-depth knowledge is not necessary for daily life. I don’t need to know the intricacies of string theory and quantum mechanics to understand basic physics. The approximate laws of gravity are close enough for government work. But I think that if we’re gambling with an eternal soul, it would be worth it to learn enough to make an informed decision.
Does the average person know what Gnostic Gospels are? Are people familiar with the Catholic group Opus Dei? What is the answer when Christians are asked whether Jesus married Mary Magdalene? Did they have children? Has the church hidden important facts from the faithful? These are just some of the complex issues discussed in The Da Vinci Code. Although it is fiction, it contains enough references to history to make Christians question their beliefs.
The slanderous distortions and falsehoods are as dangerous as they are numerous. The movie threatens to strike another massive blow to people’s understanding and knowledge of God, Christianity and history.
How can this book and movie threaten to strike a massive blow to people’s understanding and knowledge of God, when the writer has just claimed that people don’t have enough understanding or knowledge of God to counter the arguments of the movie?
I question my beliefs all the time. A year ago, I would have made the argument that the protections of the Bill of Rights only applied to American citizens, because I hadn’t even really considered the opposite. Since, I’ve learned quite a bit and changed my belief. At the same time, I’ve been bombarded with knowledge about the tenets of anarcho-capitalism, and yet I haven’t made the leap there. I’m an adult, and I can evaluate these things for myself. I don’t need someone to “protect me from these ideas”. Neither do Christian moviegoers.
May 11, 2006
In the fight to stay on the shelves of Gwinnett County schools, it looks like Harry Potter has won another battle.
The hearing officer in the case has strongly recommended that the best-selling book series stay in school libraries. The decision came after Laura Mallory, a Loganville mother with three children at J.C. Magill Elementary School, filed formal complaints requesting all the Harry Potter books be removed.
Mallory said the books’ descriptions of witchcraft, spells, “demonic activity, murder and evil blood sacrifice” may inspire young readers to pursue occult activities.
Ooh, let’s see where they can take this… They’ll need to remove the Chronicles of Narnia series, because that might inspire young readers towards Christianity, and with the separation of Church and State, we can’t expose youngsters to religion. And they’ll have to stop having children read The Diary of Anne Frank, because those kids might just be inspired to commit a holocaust or two. Let’s definitely stop them from reading The Great Gatsby, because we don’t want to inspire kids to live the “flapper lifestyle”, do we? I’m not even going to get into the filth-laden Catcher in the Rye…
And for the full coup de grace, let’s make sure we pull out “The Cat in the Hat”. Young minds simply aren’t capable of handling the idea of a talking, upright-walking cat. Their fragile little minds might be inspired to put a hat on their cat and mess up the house!
Give me a break… Thankfully, it’s possible cooler heads might prevail:
Hearing officer Su Ellen Bray wrote in her recommendation 10 reasons why she thought the books should remain in school libraries.
She argued that they encouraged children to read for pleasure, and that most students who read them would know they were fantasy, not fact. She also said the books promoted positive themes, such as good prevailing over evil.
Her last reason summarized many of Bray’s earlier points: “To remove this series of critically acclaimed and highly popular books from the school media centers because of a challenge of one parent who has not read any one of the books in its entirety, who has mistakenly identified the themes of the books, and whose main argument is that the books teach the readers to be evil, would open this very fine school system to ridicule by many of its citizens as well as citizens of this nation.
Let me shorten down this recommendation for you: “The lady is a nutjob, and we shouldn’t let our educational system be hijacked by this nutjob. Even if it IS Georgia…”
I think it’s about time to find Ms. Mallory’s address, and start sending her kids some of the favorite books I read growing up… I’ll start with The Great Brain series, I absolutely *loved* those when I was younger…
PS – For any of you with young kids (particularly boys), The Great Brain series is a wonderful start on getting your kid to read. I absolutely devoured those books in grade school…
April 20, 2006
I don’t blog on this sort of thing very often, but I wanted to explain a little bit about how I came to be an atheist, and what it would take for me to change that. I got onto the subject as a part of this post by Kay of Left Brain Female. Her post is regarding the power of prayer, and how a recent scientific study has “debunked” the idea that prayer works. Part of what Kay said:
Having people from a number of different religious backgrounds praying for people whom they donâ€™t know cannot be expected to show much – except that God is not the author of confusion, and we have more than enough of that going around.
My own personal belief – and it is through first hand experience – is that while we who are believers should pray for others, and our country, the world, etc. the area where weâ€™re going to see the most effectiveness is in our prayers for ourselves. Does that sound egotistical? Itâ€™s not – itâ€™s what weâ€™re commanded to do – to pray to the Lord, to have a real connection with Him, and to humble ourselves enough to say that we need Him. And, when He has answered our prayers, we need to acknowledge to Him that we understand that all things good have happened because He ordained them.
In all honesty, I can’t say whether prayers are answered, and I can’t say whether there is a God. In my own mind, I have a lot of questions about the possibility of God’s existence and his nature (if he exists). There are too many questions.
I enjoy learning about it, though. One of the issues that’s always troubled me is when I see good people suffering. I ask how a just God can allow it to happen. When I get the standard answer, that “God has a plan”, I just want to retch. I’m sorry, but if someone in my family succumbs to terminal cancer, I don’t want to hear that some asshole of a supreme being is trying to work out his “plan”. That’s a recipe for anger, not for reverence.
But I got a different viewpoint recently. My wife and I have been attending one of these big-box, nondenominational churches, where we have Creed-like rock music. It’s the kind of place where they welcome non-Christians, and really seem to try to open their arms and welcome people. A few weeks ago, they gave me a whole different perspective. The entire sermon was about the theme of the Bible, and that it was a miracle that one book, written by 40 authors over the span of 1500 years could fit together so well. In the story of the Bible, from the start of creation, to original sin, to numerous times in which God explains that he will forgive us and accept us back, culminating in the final act, in which he creates a world without pain and sin.
Original sin is the key point there. The pastor explained that God gave us free will, and offered us a perfect world if only we wouldn’t eat from one tree. We defied his authority, and in doing so, broke the world. Why do bad things happen to good people, and vice versa? Not because God has a plan, but because we are living in a broken world. That, at least, I can accept. I know I’m a flawed person. There are parts of my own behavior and my own head that I don’t like. I can understand the idea that the world is broken, even if it’s postulated that it is humans that broke it. I’m not ready to follow the rest of the narrative down the rabbit hole, but at least that’s not someone trying to tell me that God’s causing wonderful people to exit our world in pain as part of his “plan”.
Over the years of debating the existence of God, though, I’ve learned something. There is no compelling proof either way. There are no conclusive arguments either way. When I studied philosophy at Purdue, I took a class on Philosophy of Religion. We spent the first half of the semester going over the arguments for the existence of God, and the last half was spent going over the arguments against. Every one of those arguments had a flaw or a hole somewhere. And some, such as Descartes’, were filled with so much circular logic and faulty premises to make your head spin.
But at the same time, I look at some of the believers I know, some of those who may have been atheists in the past, or who are critical thinkers who question the world to the extent that I can at least trust their judgement. What makes them believe?
I can only think it is faith. There is a point at which you make the jump from what you can prove to what you know in your heart is true. How did they get this faith? What path got them there? Why did it find them and not me?
These are more questions I cannot answer. All I know is that inside of me, I don’t have that reassuring feeling that God exists. I can’t make that leap of faith. There are days where I wish I could, but I’ve already talked about the line of BS that is Pascal’s Wager. Any manufactured faith is a lie to myself, and I do my best not to lie to myself.
What I know of myself, though, is that I have looked places for that faith. I’ve never found it in organized religion, or in a church of any form. I really think that most religion causes more problems that it solves. The times that I feel closest to having that faith, though, is when I start to experience profound wonder at the world. Back in California, I used to regularly take trips up into the mountains on my motorcycle. Up there was a level of majesty that was just awe-inspiring. Something about being up there just seems special. When I experience the growth of spring, or when I met my new little nephew last weekend, I am filled with happiness. But then I come back to the pettiness, the stupidity that I see in much of humanity, and it spoils that awe.
Again, as I said when I started, I don’t blog about this sort of stuff very often. Because I usually try to act like I’ve got all the answers, and this post is full of questions. But I guess Kay’s post got my mind going on the subject, and that was coupled with the experience of attending a funeral yesterday, to support a coworker whose father just succumbed to cancer. There a lot of unanswered questions rolling around in my head, and sometimes things like this just need to be written down.
April 6, 2006
Tired of having to go visit your priest for confession? Need a quick
heavenly pick-me-up while at work?
All the fun of prayer, with the convenience of instant messaging!
Hat Tip: Libertopia
March 23, 2006
TUPELO, MSâ€”The Blessed Mother Mary said Monday that devout Catholic Anthony Montero is simply praying to her as a way to get to her Son, Jesus Christ. “People exploit me for my connections, worshipping me as a way to get closer to Jesus,” said the Holy Virgin, bathed in a golden light and attended by seraphim. “How would Anthony feel if I called upon him in the guise of friendship, but simply wanted his cousin to do some plumbing work for me? It’s just rude.” Our Lady added that, if Montero wants to reach Jesus so badly, maybe he should “grow a pair and pray to Him directly.”
Hat Tip: Libertopia
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