29 June, 2009

A Modest Proposal --


For the past few years I have followed with great interest the ongoing staged debates between today's leading atheistic thinkers - Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, et, al, and various representatives of theistic thought. In most cases, trying to be as unbiased as possible, the atheists have clearly carried the intellectual battle and, in those few cases where they haven't, the best the theists can claim is a draw.

All of this has got me to thinking.

The peoples of earth today are divided along sectarian and/or religious lines more so than perhaps any time in history. The gulfs are great, and often spill over into persecution and even outright violence. Why should this be?

For the purpose of argument, I am going to suppose for a bit that the theists are correct: That there is a God, that this God created everything including us (either directly or indirectly), that He loves us and/or at least cares about what we do and desires our love or devotion (or something like that) in return, and that He will either reward or punish everyone at some point in the future.

Here's the point -- Given all the confusion and conflict over religion throughout the world, and given the declining rates of faith in much of the western world at least, along with the growth in popularity of the aforementioned atheistic spokesmen, why doesn't God settle this question for once and for all?

Why doesn't God show up at one of the atheist vs. theist debates, clarify precisely what He is and what He expects or demands, and perhaps, for good measure, smite the famous atheist at the podium as a sign that enough is enough?

Of course He would have to plan his appearance carefully. He could not, for instance, appear as a burning bush in a crowded auditorium filled with flammable materials. That could end badly. Nor could he just appear as a deep, booming voice from above, because folks might reasonably assume some cheap, theatrical trick.

No, it seems He would have to show Himself in some convincing as well as authoritative way.

I know what the faithful among you are thinking - God prefers to remain hidden, thereby increasing the value of faith, etc.

I'm not sure that is a good argument however. He's been more than willing to visit and communicate with humankind in the past. Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, and others enjoyed personal interaction with the Deity. Why should we assume that he desires to remain hidden now, when he played celestial peek-a-boo on a somewhat regular basis a few millennia ago?

Could it be that He prefers ignorant, cattle-sacrificing, patriarchal desert dwellers to sophisticated, educated urban types? That would explain, I suppose, why His religion is so -- well -- sadistic, backward, and patriarchal.

Does He suppose that sending us Jesus ended the need for further communication? I can't help but feel that, if that were the case, He could have chosen a better location -- say a more developed civilization like China, or a time when mass communications would have enabled a far greater long-term impact -- like now!

No, I can't think of a single good reason why God wouldn't appear today, put those nasty atheists in their place, and at the same time unite the peoples of the world in His one, true faith.

Well -- okay -- I can think of one.


27 June, 2009

A Bold New Plan for American Healthcare


I've been thinking a lot lately about a couple of America's more pressing problems.

First, of course, is the whole Separation of Church and State thing. Secular folk claim we have it while the religious scream like stuck pigs about persecution. (How anyone could successfully persecute 80% of the population without a very large and cooperative military, is beyond me -- but that's the claim.)

Indeed, it seems to me silly for the religious to fuss so much about this because of all the unearned privileges they extract and enjoy from the rest of us. Take taxes, for example. Become a "church" or other religious organization and the tax man bows reverently, shuffles away, and then raises everyone else's taxes to make up for the shortfall. Therefore in spite of SOCAS claims, believers and nonbelievers alike are in actuality forced to financially support the bronze-age, desert practices of religious adherents.

Another major issue we face is healthcare. Now I can't think of anyone who doesn't believe that we need to come up with a plan to make American healthcare more accessible and affordable.

Much as my Libertarian brethren, for years I opposed any further government involvement in the problem because a good case could be made that such involvement has already raised costs and reduced the quality of care for millions. Google Medicare and Veterans Healthcare if you doubt me.

After careful consideration however, I think have come upon a reasonable compromise that at least partially addresses both of the aforementioned problems.

No one can deny that just by repealing the tax-free status of religion, governments at the local, state, and federal levels would generate more than enough new revenue to underwrite a health plan for all Americans more generous than even the Congress of the United States enjoys today. Unfortunately, with the stranglehold the religious have on our elected officialdom, that simply is not going to happen. So we need to move on to plan B:

Faith-based Healthcare!

Don't go away - hear me out! Here's how it would work --

All religious groups, organizations, and the like that enjoy tax-exempt status would, as a requirement for retaining that privileged position, establish Healthcare Prayer Committees.

Then, whenever any American became ill, or was injured, they would submit a form (in triplicate of course) to the newly-established Department of Faith-based Medicine.

An employee of the DF-bM would then contact an existing Healthcare Prayer Committee - preferably but not necessarily in the patient's home town and of the same faith, and provide them the name and diagnosis of the person requiring medical intervention.

The HPC would then commence a round of sincere and fervent prayer for the healing of that patient. Given both the explicit promises of the Bible and the undoubtedly heartfelt claims of the efficacy of prayer among the faithful, a quick and effective return to health should be no problem.

Voila! National Healthcare at no additional cost, and a solid reaffirmation of America's Judaic - Christian roots, all in one package.

So tell me -- what's not to like?

26 June, 2009

WHAT TO SAY?


I guess that thing in the Bible - you know, that "With God all things are possible" thing - I guess it doesn't apply to spelling.

21 June, 2009



I’ve mentioned our son, John Michael, a couple of times in this blog. Except for close friends or relatives, none of you know much about him beyond what I have written here. Today I've decided to share a little bit about him with you for reasons that will become apparent by the time you get to the end of this entry.

John is exceedingly bright – Mensa material in fact. He is good-natured, cooperative, loving, and polite. All of which are interesting if for no other reason he will be seventeen this fall. He is not much for the outdoors or sports, preferring to read, play the piano, or spend time on his computer in his spare time.

A bright, nice teen. So what?

I have had two surreal experiences in my life. The first was as I walked among a collection of caskets, trying to decide which one to bury my father in. The second, on the morning of October 18th, 1992, as Pat and I sat in a small room just off the neonatal intensive care unit of Georgetown University Medical Center listening to the head of pediatric cardiology explain that our son, John Michael, had just been born with a series of congenital anomalies in his heart – hypoplastic right-heart syndrome, transposition of the arteries, and an enlarged ductus to name a few. They were, in a word, fatal conditions and, she patiently explained, there was no viable treatment available given his multiple problems.

When I inquired about a heart transplant, she shook her head and replied solemnly, “They just don’t work in babies. The odds of getting a heart are maybe one in five, and the odds of a transplant working about the same. Then, if you are among the lucky few, he’ll have to be on very strong medicine for the rest of his life…unable to go to school, have friends, or live what we would otherwise consider a normal life.”

The verdict was crushing. Fortunately for John Michael however, he has two very stubborn, and pathologically driven, parents. After the initial shock, and a good deal of soul searching, Pat and I embarked on a research project…relying on our memories, local libraries, contacts in the medical profession, and a degree of anal retentiveness that can only come from being potty-trained at gunpoint. (This all was, please notice, prior to the WWW and Google.)

One contact we lucked upon was Jay Fricker, then head of the pediatric transplant program at the University of Pittsburgh. His comments largely confirmed what we had been told at Georgetown. Dr. Fricker even went so far as to add that if it were his child, he probably wouldn’t “put him or me through it”. Devastated, I began saying goodbye, then paused.

“Well, If you were to try for a transplant for a child, where would you go?” I asked.

“Oh hell”, he said without hesitation, “to Loma Linda, out in California, they’ve done over a hundred of those things.”

My next phone call, to Loma Linda, was an eye-opener. They had done over 140 transplants in babies, 85% lived past their first birthday and 75% past their fifth. When I asked what the life expectancy for the children was, Kay Ogata of Loma Linda said frankly, “We don’t know. But our first transplant just started second grade.”

“Second grade….you mean he goes to school?” I asked.

“Oh yeah”, she replied, “our kids go to school, play on the playground, eat dirt…everything other kids can do.”

Three days later a jet ambulance from California touched down at National Airport in D.C., and flew John back to Loma Linda. There, five weeks later…at the age of six weeks…John Michael received the heart of a little girl who had been killed in an auto accident in Minnesota.

It hasn’t all been a bed of roses mind you…he has had a “minor” brush with a form of lymphatic cancer, and did have to be hospitalized for a few days when he came down with chicken pox. And of course there are the quarterly checkups, blood draws, and the like, but…there have been no rejections and no serious side effects to date. He is an A student, plays several instruments, and studies French and Spanish. Oh, and did I mention…Mom and Dad are incredibly proud of both his accomplishments and the dignity with which he has born his burden of daily meds, the medical fiddling, and the like?

So what’s the point I mentioned in the beginning? Just this…

John Michael isn’t with us today because of stubborn parents, loving nurses, or highly skilled surgeons…even though all certainly played a role. John Michael is here today because in a small city in Minnesota a young couple, faced with a tragedy most of us can’t even imagine, found the courage and generosity to reach out to another set of parents a half a continent away and make their lives immeasurably brighter.

Leonard Bailey, who performed the first successful infant transplant in 1981, has written, “It is tragedy enough when one child dies, without two or three more dying unnecessarily.”

That’s the point. Twenty or so folks will die today because the donor they so desperately waited for has not materialized. Have you signed a donor card? Have you told your loved ones your wish to donate your organs if the unthinkable should happen?

Too busy? Still thinking that maybe it’s not all that important? Please, stop by our place anytime…there’s someone very special I’d like you to meet.

United Network for Organ Sharing

20 June, 2009

A few facts for Feeno -



A fellow who goes by the name of Feeno stopped by and left some comments yesterday. As I am wont to do, I visited his blog and checked out what he's been thinking about. And it puzzles me.

For example, in his comments to me he writes, "Age is a funny thing, the older I get the more I understand Atheism, yet somehow feel an even closer bond with God?"

But on his blog, he has a "Top Ten Reasons I Can't be an Atheist". It starts out:

#10 I don't know everything.

#9 I'm not mad at anybody.


Sorry Feeno - but a really bad start. First, I don't know of a single Atheist who thinks they know everything, I sure don't. Having said that however, it is a fact that on average Atheists are better educated than believers. Pew research did a study a few years back that in essence reported that religious belief is inversely related to level of education.

Further, I think you'll find that quite often Atheists know more about your religion, the Bible, and related subjects than you do, and that shouldn't really come as a surprise. You arrived at your beliefs largely through faith - there is no evidence to support any of the principle claims of your religion. Most Atheists, on the other hand, arrived at their position only after a great deal of study and consideration. In my case, for example, I entered college as a pre-ministerial student in the United Methodist Church. It was during my studies - particularly a rather intense search for the historic Jesus - that my faith slowly lessened until I realized that I simply could no longer believe.

On your next point, you repeat yet another unfortunate misconception about Atheists, to whit that we are angry at someone, namely (though unnamed in your post) god. Such a statement indicates that you are unaware of what an Atheist is.

An Atheist, Feeno, is merely someone who lacks belief in a god or gods. . The word derives from the Greek - "a", meaning "without", and "theos", meaning god. An Atheist is simply someone "without god". That make you an Atheist, Feeno, as to all the other gods ever invented by man. You are atheistic toward Zeus, Ra, Vishnu, Baal, etc.

Let me ask you Feeno - Are you angry at unicorns? Or perhaps leprechauns? Are you angry at Vishnu?

Of course not, because none of these examples exist, and it's pretty hard - or at least quite irrational - to be angry with the non-existent.

Going down Feeno's list, most are gags, some quite humorous. Unfortunately, when he gets to his #1 reason, he falls back on yet another misconception:

#1 They're to (sic) religious.

Feeno...Atheism is no more a religion than bald is a hair color. (See Greek derivation, above.) Being insistent on truth, accuracy, and evidence is not religious, in fact it is the polar opposite of religious. Having worked hard to arrive at their position, Atheists can be rather insistent and persistent in defense of that position, but religious? That's a slur.

In conclusion, if you would understand Atheists you must first put aside all the untruths you've been taught about them. And one other thing - if you intend to engage in a dialogue with an Atheist, fasten your seatbelt, for they will insist on sticking to things like facts and logic. Those are things you will almost never come across in your church.



11 June, 2009

The Bloody Trail of the Christian Cult of Death...


Yesterday I responded to yet another tiresome Rod Dreher blog entry blaming Atheists for the Holocaust and all the other evils of communism, fascism, etc. Basically, I called him a liar.

Dreher is an educated man, fully capable of researching and discerning the facts of such matters, but has chosen to not. Instead, he insists on perpetuating half-truths and lies in order to prop up his own particular brand of superstition. Enough is enough.

As part of my response to his blog, I briefly pointed out that Hitler was raised a Catholic, claimed to be a Catholic, and often denounced Atheism. Further, Hitler could not have carried out his murderous pogroms without the at least the tacit support of the German people, almost totally Christian, mostly Lutherans and Catholics. Finally, the reason the German people went along so readily was because of the almost 1500 year history of the demonizing and persecuting of Jews by European Christians, due to their churches' official and consistent blaming of the Jewish people for the execution of Jesus.

The Holocaust was, quite plainly, merely an amplification of Christian beliefs and policies going back fifteen centuries.

I point this out because of the attack at the Holocaust Memorial yesterday. The media has gone to great lengths to paint the attacker as a racist and right-wing militia-nut…which is all true. What they have ignored is his equal fascination with the same strain of Christianity that enabled the Holocaust and similar outrages throughout history. Reportedly the killer’s website made the connection quite clear, unfortunately that site has now been blocked by someone.

There are those reading this who will still refuse to accept the clear connection between Christian beliefs -- many of which were mainstream for most of the church’s history -- and such disasters. Perhaps you may find it informative to take a quick detour here. The disgusting things you will see there are not at all dissimilar from the writings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, or scores of Catholic popes, bishops, and thinkers over the centuries.

Christianity, although it has worked feverishly to clean up its image over the past 50 years, remains a death cult in more ways than one. It is a history it cannot escape.

10 June, 2009

WTF is this?


I haven't had a Coke (or any other soda) in about 8 years, I gave it up as part of a diet that helped me lose 40+ pounds.

Now, however, I wish I hadn't...just so I could quit in protest.

Coca~Cola has just become a "Corporate Partner" with Ken freakin' Hamm's "Creation Museum". What can the folks in the corporate Puzzle Palace in Atlanta be thinking?

Might this just be the beginning of a wider campaign? What coup might the Coke folks execute next?

Maybe they could become corporate sponsors of the Society for Baby-Delivering Storks.

Then again, I'm sure that for a reasonable sum they could get their corporate logo prominently displayed on the Institute for the Study and Advancement of Alchemy.

Ooh -ooh...here's one...they could underwrite a special daily segment on Oprah - "Your Daily Horoscope with Coke".

There's really no limit how low they could sink, now that they've begun their descent.

Then again...the brains behind this do all live in Georgia. Perhaps they actually believe they are backing real science.

Whadda ya think?


07 June, 2009

University? Really?



Dan Casey of the Roanoke Times website has a fun contest going -- YES, you CAN actually win something!

The contest is to come up with a new name for the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

I submitted a few, namely:

  • Lynchburg College of Bronze-Age Studies
  • The University for Medieval Beliefs and Practices
  • The Falwell Institute for Myth-information

Anyway, I shouldn't be the only one having all this fun, so why not head on over to Dan Casey's Weblog, and have a whack at it yourself?

06 June, 2009

Ten not so bad Ideas...


There seems to be a zillion or so sites on the web these days with various lists of "ten commandments", personal and otherwise. Not really being big on the whole "command" thing myself, I thought I would offer up for your consideration my...

TEN not so bad IDEAS

For the 21st Century

One cannot be Free, who would deny Freedom to others;

It may be commendable to have a personal belief or moral code, but attempting to impose it on others never is;

Those we cannot learn to Love we must learn to Tolerate;

All human progress depends on Reason, Evidence, and Good Will;

Government is not your friend, sooner or later it will cause you harm;

To do Good to a Stranger is the greatest Good one can do;

Anything a clergyman says is probably false;

Faith is not only the worst attribute a person can have, more oft than not it is also the most dangerous;

Humankind is but a small part of the web of life, but what we do to any other part of that web weighs heavily on our survival;

We are made of Star Dust, if we live our lives in celebration of that fact the World will be an infinitely better place.

05 June, 2009

Name that Leftist --


Today I thought we'd play a little game called "Name that Leftist"!

Following is a quote -- similar I'm sure to some you've heard several times before...perhaps even in a popular recent "documentary".

QUOTE: "The abuses of our system, the lack of decent medical system, the oil companies and their undisguised indifference to public needs, the complacency about the poor, the utter inability of those who are oppressed to recognize their own condition...Have the Cubans given up their personal freedom to get material security? Nothing I have seen yet suggests that...I can see nothing of value that has been lost by the revolution. The revolution has released enormous potential and liberated the Cuban spirit."

OK...Who wrote it? Think hard...

Could it be...Jane Fonda?

No, not this time...

Might it be...one of the Baldwin brothers?

You'd think maybe, but no...

Hey, it sounds an awful lot like...Michael Moore?

Well yes, it sounds exactly like Michael Moore, billionaire hater of everything American...

But, no...

Give up?

It is from the diary of Walter Kendall Myers, arrested this morning for spying for Cuba for the past 30 years.

The scandal is that it could just as easily been written by any of the celebrities mentioned above (they have written and/or said worse), or just about any Democratic member of Congress.

And that is just plain plain sad.



04 June, 2009

Random Thoughts...


We have two rescued greyhounds - each totally different.

Nellie (the fawn female) is almost cat-like -- playful, high-spirited, and independent.

Bugsy (the other one) on the other hand is so incredibly needy -- requiring constant attention, recognition, and reassurance. So much so in fact that I'm thinking of changing his name to God. (Or maybe Barrack...is there really much difference?)

And speaking of PBO -- In Egypt, he told Muslims the U.S. is not "...hostile to the traditions of Islam."

Well if we're not, we sure as hell should be, because Islam is completely hostile to everything that defines Western civilization: liberty, human rights, science, and philosophy. If we fail to oppose its brutal, medieval mythology at every turn, we will effectively be condemning our granddaughters to wearing Burkas and ending up as the property of some thug with a bronze-age worldview.

02 June, 2009

Marriage according to the Bible...

video

My mentor on all things biblical -- and sometimes lover -- Better Bowers (America's Best Christian) explains what marriage is according to the Holy Book.

A Mystery Solved ?

Rapture Ready?
or
Just Delusional?

"Experts" have been all over TV making wild-assed guesses as to what happened to that plane that disappeared between Brazil and France. Well I have my own theory about what happened.

Maybe it’s a sign that The Rapture is imminent, that Yahweh was testing His transporter beam to make sure it worked properly before commencing with the real thing.

The thought is a bit worrisome you know, because it could cause a considerable displacement in the economy. No, I'm serious! Think about what might happen if every bible-thumping, cousin-humping, monster truck enthusiast in the nation suddenly put a For Sale sign on their double-wide in the hope of being able to buy an airline ticket.

01 June, 2009

Religion Kills Again!


Another physician has been murdered by the fantasy of revealed religion.

He was murdered because among the many things he was and did, he performed abortions, a legal medical procedure in the United States.

In addition to being a physician, Dr. Tiller was a Navy veteran, husband, father, and grandfather. His murderer however focused on one small slice of his life and persona, and decided he deserved to die because of it.

Almost as if on cue, a variety of fundamentalist and evangelical Christian opponents of abortion issued statements expressing their shock and disapproval of the act…effectively washing their hands of any complicity. The fact is of course that they are complicit, very much so.

Dr. Tiller has been demonized by numerous Christian groups and media, with Operation Rescue – which also expressed its “shock” – going so far as to post a “Tiller Watch” page on its website.

Any and every Christian clergyman, politician, or lay person who ever publically compared abortion to murder and or railed against doctors who perform the procedure has blood on their hands this morning. The list would run into tens of thousands, but must include preachers like Pat Robertson, politicians such as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and laymen such as the Cristo-fascist Randal Terry.

Many Christians will of course speak out against these people, and the heinous acts their hate-spewing righteousness promulgates, but even the most liberal, open-minded brands of religion bear at least partial blame. The entire Christian religion – indeed almost all religions – have at their core the insistence that not only is there a god – an amazing and unsubstantiated claim - but that it is possible to discern the wishes of that god and, further, that as believers and followers they know beyond a doubt said god’s commandments and will.

Given the widespread acceptance among Americans of this fantasy, it is then but a short step indeed to the claim that one knows how their deity feels about abortion (or anything else) and what it is that must be done about it. In essence, it is not opposition to abortion that precipitates these wanton murders, but the very belief in the concept of revealed religion. Remove that phenomenon from the equation and acts such as we witnessed this past Sunday become far less likely to occur. Christopher Hitchens has it right, religion does indeed “poison everything”.

For that reason, every Christian, Jew, Muslim, or any other devout believer in a god who is said to actively reveal his intentions to “chosen” followers must bear the blame for these atrocities. Inquisitions, witch hunts, religious wars, and the murder of physicians are all inevitably connected, and that connection is the fantasy of revelation.

And so dear Christian, as you traipse off to your church next Sunday morning, understand this – you are complicit in murder, and will remain so until you at last permit reason and logic to replace the ignorance and superstition that now rules your life.

video

George Carlin had his own thoughts on the subject.