Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This atheist walks into a bar...

I received an email recently from a friend that I know from grade school days. We are back in touch thanks to Facebook (go figure). In the intervening years he apparently found Jesus in a big way. Regardless, he's a really nice guy and, despite all the g-o-d talk, I'm glad we're back in touch.

At some point during the reacquaintance process I was added to his email distribution list. I haven't asked to be removed, and his emails are infrequent enough that I probably won't. The occasional copy of "Footsteps" (written entirely in Papyrus with 50 animated angel gifs, of course) dropped into my inbox is within tolerance. His last email went something like this:

An atheist was walking through the woods.
‘What majestic trees!
What powerful rivers!
What beautiful animals!’
 He said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river,he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him.
At that instant the Atheist cried out,
‘Oh my God!’

Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky.
‘You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?’
The atheist looked directly into the light, ‘It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?’

‘Very well,’ said the voice.
 The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke:
‘Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.’

Now this isn't the first time I've seen this email, and I did get a chuckle out of it the first time. I mean, really, anthropomorphism in humor is funny. I don't care who you are. But this time I thought a little about what it was communicating. I don't think I read into this joke what the author intended. The atheist comes away looking pretty good in my estimation. First, god goes out of his way to say, "Look, Dumbass. Here I am," stopping time, bright light, everything but the burning bush. Over the top? Yes. But when presented with observable evidence, the atheist immediately acknowledges the existence of an all-powerful creator. Why wouldn't she? This is, after all, exactly what atheists ask for. I don't know a single atheist that says there is no amount of evidence that would change his mind. It is the wild, unverifiable claims that we reject.

So the atheist sucks it up, but she also does something smart. In asking for the bear to be made a christian, one would assume that the bear would be bound at the very least by the 'big ten'. One of them has something to do with killing, I believe. Instead, the newly whelped-again bear prays and prepares to enjoy what will undoubtedly be an unsatisfying meal (we atheists are notoriously stringy). And the big man is just going to watch. Creepy. Apparently, this is Abraham's god, the one Dawkins calls, "arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." This is not gentle Jesus, meek and mild.

So the moral of this story is that it doesn't matter if you believe in god, it's the groveling that's important. That explains so much.

Be Well


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well that finally settles it.

The Catholic church has announced that the theory of evolution by natural selection is well founded and compatible with church dogma. That noise you heard? That was the entire evolutionary biology community heaving a collective sigh of relief.


Welcome to the 20th century. By the way, when the scientific community needs the opinion of a bunch of geriatric male virgins in skirts to figure out what's right, I'll be canceling my membership to AAAS. And then the Vatican claims that their guys (specifically Aquinas and Augustine) speculated about evolution before Darwin. Ah, revisionism. The great friend of the Vatican. Thanks for all you've done for us, guys.

Be well,


Not a miracle

It's always refreshing to hear someone who experienced a nearly averted tragedy to call it like it is. The co-pilot of Flight 1549, when asked whether the safe landing was a miracle, responded with some good old fashioned rationality.

"I wouldn't say that," Skiles said. "I would still say that it's just everybody did our jobs and we had good fortune, as well."

Well done. I wonder what would have happened if the crew had taken a moment to pray instead of doing their jobs calmly and efficiently?

Be well,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

And the wall came tumbling down.

Greetings. It's been a while. I find that when things are going well, I struggle to find the indignation to write with my usual fervor. Things have been going very well lately. The offspring is doing well, I still have a job, and my wife is as wonderful as ever. So, what, you might ask, could have happened to wake me from my lackadaisical torpor.

Three little words: Faith-Based Initiative.

I had really hoped that our new benevolent overlord would see fit to jettison this terrible establishment clause violation. Why I thought that is unclear since Obama indicated repeatedly during the campaign that he thought there was room for faith in the town square (whatever that might mean). Obama today announced a number of changes to the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, including a new name, The Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. Whatever. I don't care what you call it. In it's present form, it's wrong.

Obama did announce that the new leadership in the office will look into rules regarding hiring practices of religious groups. The new leader of the Office is Josh Dubois. I can't say that I was terribly familiar with Josh before today, but one thing that concerns me is that he was a pastor at an evangelical church, more specifically a United Pentecostal church in the Assemblies of God. This particular denomination doesn’t strike me as the most inclusive group. They, of course, believe that the Old and New Testaments are the “infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct,” that life begins at conception, and that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. They don’t say so on the website, but I’m quite sure that “practicing” homosexuals are not welcome as members of their church. Those that want to make a different “choice” are always welcome, I’m sure.

So forgive me if I think asking Josh to oversee reformation of this Office is asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

So here’s what I think it would take to bring this Office in line with the principles established in the constitution. If a religious organization accepts public funds to perform it’s charity work, these restrictions (some of which were shredded during the Bush era) should apply:

Full disclosure - Just like every other non-profit in this country, the church’s books should be open to scrutiny and auditing.
Firewall - There should be a clear, bright distinction between funds used for charity work and those used for prosthelytizing.
Nondiscrimination - the arm of the religious organization that receives the funds must follow the same non-discriminatory hiring practices that any other government funded agency must. That means no discrimination on the basis of sex, color, creed, or sexual orientation.

Simple and easy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how Obama is going to handle this. But if he thinks that he can continue forward with no changes Bush’s policy in this area, he’ll find out in 4 years that the freethinkers in this country vote too.

Mr Obama. Rebuild that wall.

Be Well,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I <3 Amanda Peet

The very first blog post I wrote (on MySpace of all places) was inspired by Jenny McCarthy and her idiocy regarding vaccination. The driver, as I recall, was a story I read regarding the increased incidence of measles outbreaks. Now another public figure has stepped up to take the counterpoint. Amanda Peet has offered her visage to help educate the public on the importance of vaccination.

This may be old news for some, but I think it's important to keep it out there because Jenny McCarthy just keeps pumping out the stupidity. Also, NPR did a nice segment last week talking about this very subject. What I took away from the NPR story was this:
But Peet says parents shouldn't look to her as a scientific expert. She defers scientific questions to Offit, who directs the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital.

Wow. Deferring to experts on the subject. Maybe Jenny should take a few lessons.

Be well


Friday, December 12, 2008

I feel special today

It's been quite a week.  First, someone flagged my blog (I'm so proud).  And now, Ray Comfort deep-sixed one of my comments. 

This calls for a drink...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A sincere mea culpa

I think when you are wrong, the direct approach is the best.  So to that end, I want to apologize for my last post on the FFRF sign in the Washington State Capitol.  After reviewing that post, it clearly has a whiney, "look at how mean the christians are" tone.  When I wrote it, it seemed justifiable; but after reading Martin's post over at the Atheist Experience, I realize that it is FFRF's sign that is the issue.  It reads in part, "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."  Whatever my belief regarding the accuracy of that message, this the wrong venue and the wrong time to deliver it.  At a time when the prevailing opinion is that christmas is under attack, to put up a sign that aggressively denigrates the opposing position is counterproductive and mean spirited.

So I say to my christian friends, celebrate the birth of your saviour; and to everyone regardless of your faith, enjoy your families, be good to each other, practice charity and kindness, and have a very merry christmas.

Be Well,