Friday, September 26, 2008

The Complicity of Good - Absolutes Fester into Evil

The attempt on the part of believers to claim “absolute knowledge” about anything – the delay of an adoption, God’s opinion of terrorist attacks, whether God ‘created’ evil or not, etc – is arrogant and divisive. Without some external, empirical means of testing and evaluating those absolutist claims, they are no more valuable nor insightful than any other unsourced and unsupported claim.

Religious believers of all stripes have made exactly the same type of assertions as all others, they come to many different conclusions, and attribute their absolute “truth” as the will of their deity (be it Jehovah, Allah, Vishnu, Brahma, Odin, Zeus or any other human-created conception). The only reason Christians think it’s the Christian God is because that is the culture and upbringing they had instilled from childhood.

I have no problem with someone taking comfort in their beliefs, in using their beliefs to provide a means of dealing with uncertainty, sorrow and joy, etc. It is their right to hold whatever beliefs they wish, and I don’t dispute that, nor would I attempt to deny them that right. My issue is with the claims of absoluteness that all believers make – that what they know is “true” based on dreams, imaginings and retellings of ancient parables and fables.

I have a few open-ended questions for believers to answer. At least give them some consideration:

  1. Is it possible that you are wrong? I am asking a serious, introspective question here. I know you claim certainty and truth, but how can you, as a mortal human being, imperfect and finite, possibly know “for sure”? If the possibility exists that you are wrong, however slight, does that in any way alter your feeling of certitude and view of “truth”?
  2. You say that “his spirit lives inside” of you. Could you be misinterpreting it or be deceived by some other spirit or supernatural entity (like Loki the Trickster or Satan)? (Remember, you are not perfect nor all-powerful, you are just another human in this finite world)
  3. If you were born and raised in another part of the world where Christianity is not the dominant religion, do you think would you still be Christian? Why or why not?
  4. Why should anyone accept that your god is more “real” than any other? What evidence can you provide that is UNIQUE and EMPIRICAL that differentiates your chosen deity from all the others?
  5. A Muslim would say the same things to me – that because I don’t believe in Allah, I can’t truly understand the meaning of the Koran and what Allah has “freely given us”. Why is your statement more ‘true’ than a Muslim’s? How can someone who is not part of either belief system choose between them, logically and correctly?
  6. You say “The God I know asks me to love my neighbor as I love myself. My faith is certainly not in the same category as someone whose 'god' is telling them to kill others.” But isn’t that disingenuous – isn’t it true that there are numerous instances described in the Bible where God directly commands individuals, groups and nation-states to kill others? Just because YOU haven’t been told to “kill others”, why do you assume that no one else has been told to by your god?
  7. And to bring it all together – is what God does good because it’s from God, or because it is inherently good? If the former, then God can do evil and still call it good. If the latter, then there is a standard outside and above God that exists to evaluate actions, and God is not supreme. Can you provide any justification or explanation why your conception of God counters this?

Most believers are genuine, honest, caring and kind. I have nothing against them personally. My concerns, as described above, are entirely about getting believers to understand the damage that claiming “absolute truth” can cause.

It’s devotion to “absolute truth” that gave the hijackers of Sept 11th their inspiration.

It’s devotion to “absolute truth” that let the Crusaders slaughter hundreds of thousands of non-Christians.

It’s devotion to “absolute truth” that erased the Middanites (Numbers 31) and Amalekites (Exodus 17:11-16).

It’s devotion to “absolute truth” that the followers of David Koresh, Jim Jones, Charles Manson and other mass murders used to justify their actions.

It’s devotion to “absolute truth” that allows children to die of neglect (

It’s devotion to “absolute truth” that allows mothers to kill their own children (

While I don’t think most believers would commit such heinous and unethical acts, the problem is that there is a complicity in their views because by claiming “absolute truth”, it gives legitimacy and grants clemency to all those others who would take it beyond decency and commit atrocities.

Because reasonable and moderate believers claim the same absolutes, it allows a safe haven and respite for those who aren’t moderate and reasonable to shelter under. And that is where the festering wounds of evil infect and spread – with the unwitting assistance of otherwise good, decent and honorable people.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We've nearly create "life in a test tube" -- does that mean we are men or Gods?

Biologists from Harvard are working on creating "proto-life"

I have to wonder what goes through a creationists mind when he tries to read scientific literature that completely and totally demolishes his cherished beliefs. In this case, it doesn't quite fully demolish their arguments, but it's getting really close to being a nuclear warhead into their foundational idea -- that only God could create life.

Yup, it certainly appears that within a few years (perhaps a decade at most), some scientist somewhere will create an "artificial lifeform" that doesn't use the same genetic code as the rest of the evolved life on this planet. Not only that, but given the implications of Szostak's protocells, the end result will be an EVOLVING, LIVING, CREATED LIFEFORM!

Yes, Dr. Szostak will have, in accordance with creationist claims, become a GOD.

Of course, I highly doubt any of the other researchers and scientists will bow down before him and proclaim his greatness -- science is all about finding problems and tearing holes in old ideas and findings. I'm sure Venter and others will be hard at work creating their own evolving life, thus proving that there isn't just one god, but a plethora of them.

In a few years, we're going to be looking at a whole polytheistic scientific community!

Friday, September 5, 2008

And I thought you needed wings!

How to Fly

Look who's a hypocrite!

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show has a segment from 9/4 where he demonstrates the blatant and rampant hypocrisy of the Republicans when discussing their choice for VP, Sarah Palin.

Not only does this montage of clips from Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Bill O'Reilly and others show just how low they will stoop to get their side elected, it demonstrates that within only a few weeks or months, they can forget their previous words and utter nonstop contradition without batting an eye.

Gahh!! The STUPID!!! It burns!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Who is Sarah Palin -- and why she's a threat to all that America represents to the world

Sarah Palin is the Republican nominee for Vice President. Good for her - I'm happy to see that even Republicans realize women are capable of high office in this enlightened age.

But that's where my approval ends.

You see, Sarah Palin is not worthy nor capable of being VP. She's a vaccuous creationist, a vindictive shrew and a manipulative politician.

She's tried to fire a librarian (because the librarian refused to ban books that Palin disapproved of). She claimed just two months ago that our military invasion and occupation of Iraq was a "task from God". She has been trying to Christianize the Alaskan government and force creationism/ID down the throats of their children. She supports abstinence only education (notoriously, the worst way to keep kids from getting diseased and pregnant).

Worse than that, when Governor of Alaska, she tried to use her influence to get her ex-brother-in-law (a state trooper) fired. When the head of the Alaskan law enforcement wouldn't do it, she fired HIM, and then threatened his replacement with the same treatment if he didn't comply. It was only after being found out and put under an ethics-violation investigation that she backed down.

Additionally, although she claims credit for opposing the 'bridge to nowhere', it's clear from her record and her statements that it was only AFTER the debacle was made public to the rest of the US populace that she took that stance. When it was still a hidden pork project, she enthusiastically and aggressively pursued the millions -- just like the other politicians.

In her small-town mayorship, she increased taxes, decreased public services, increased pork spending, and left the town with a HUGE deficit (from a surplus when she started, to over $20 million in the red when she left). And she's got no qualms about showing off her ignorance and hatred of all things "science" -- from climate change to stem cells, evolution to end-of-life decisions -- she's on the wrong side of the facts.

From what I've read, seen, heard, and discovered about Gov. Palin, she's an aggressive, ambitious and arrogant bitch who will use whatever power she gets to bludgeon those opposed to her and mete out her own version of vengeance and retribution on her political and personal enemies. And she has the balls to claim that what she does is sanctioned "by God".

Given that McCain is 72 and has had a history of health problems over the last few years, it isn't inconceivable that if they are elected, Palin would end up being the President before the first term is up. If that happens, the US is in for a very, very rough go of it -- you thought Bush & Co. were bad at foreign relations and obnoxiousness? Wait until Pres. Sarah gets in charge.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Traditional Values": Neither valued nor traditional

I've heard a lot of talk from the Rethuglicans and religiots about "traditional values", especially in the last week or so. Most of it is stemming from the political conventions and the nominee selections that have been chosen, and some of the questions, concerns and issues raised by those candidates. It seems that 'traditional values' means whatever the speaker wants it to mean, usually a long-ago dreamland virtue from some imaginary 1950's black-and-white drive-in movie, and hawked as being biblically based and "Christian".

In other words, it's crap.

If you want "traditional values" from the Bible, go buy some slaves.

If you want some real "Christian" sentiments, go stone a heretic to death.

"Traditional" simply means "we've always done it this way" -- which in no way implies that "this way" is the optimal or most ethical way. A long time ago (OK, about 150 years ago), a great many people in this country accepted the "traditional value" that blacks were unintelligent and unteachable. Many others accepted the "traditional value" that a woman's place was in the home. Just about everyone accepted the "traditional value" that only white men had the right to vote.

Guess what -- those "traditional values" aren't considered tradition anymore. Why not?

Because culture, social norms and mores change over time (you know -- evolve). As knowledge and education expand and spread, the lies, misinformation and errors of the past are laid bare, and the people adapt to accept the new and correct.

Usually, it seems that people who like to use the term "traditional value" have very little stock in that value themselves, but it is useful for gaining power and prestige over others - because most of the time, those "traditional values" end up de-valuing the worth and respect of others.