Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back again...again

Sorry for the long absence.  I have recently been feeling that this blog is a bit redundant in the world of atheist blogs and have been considering taking it in a slightly different direction.  Anyhow, I haven't quite figured that one out yet.

Regardless, this post is not about that.  This post is just another one of me complaining about something that I read.  No surprise, it was the Catholic Church that got me going again.  No one, and no organization seems to be able to get me to fly into a blind fury quite like our friends in Rome....or in this case, Toledo, Ohio.

Perhaps you have heard about it already, but there is an attempt in progress by the Church to rebuke the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for not being vocal enough in attacking issues that the Church frowns upon (please read the second half of that sentence in the voice of Sam Eagle).  It is definitely worth noting that the LCWR represents 80% of American nuns.

Anyhow, today on NPR there was posted an interview with Bishop Leonard Blair of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo.  Bishop Blair is the dude in charge of the above mentioned rebuke.  I would like to go on the record as saying that Terry Gross is an excellent interviewer, and that if you have the time please listen to this story in its entirety.  It is almost 50 minutes long so you need a good chunk of time to check it out.  I listened to the whole thing with my mouth hanging agape as Bishop Blair said things like the following in response to the fact that women are not represented in the theological decision making of the church:

Well, I would say that the interpretation of theology is a work of not just bishops but also theologians. There have been great saints, women saints and men, who have contributed tremendously to our theological understanding, and I'd be the first to admit that in the past women were not represented so much in theological faculties and things like that, and now they are.

The problem with this is not that these women's ideas did not make a contribution to Catholic theology (which is nuts, by the way), but that they had no say in whether or not it would become Catholic theology.  That was decided by the menfolk.  These saints and theologians had no vote on the matter.  Anyhow, there were many such moments, and if you can stomach it for an hour, I recommend listening.  I felt like I was losing my mind.   I kind of enjoyed it.  If you don't have that kind of time, please watch the following video instead while thinking misogynistic and homophobic thoughts (the effect will be about the same):

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fun with Bible quotes! Version 1.0

Here is some fun. This one comes from 2 kings 2:23-24.  

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

That is The NIV. King James is even more fun:  

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

Does anyone else think that sounds like something written by Danny McBride? Gotta love the OT...unless you take it seriously, then that is some scary shit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I read today about an atheist blogger that has just converted to Catholicism.  Twisted, I know.  I first came across it at Blag Hag on Freethought Blogs.  I then went to the blog itself and read through her post and the comments and her responses.  I recommend checking it out here.  It is very interesting.  This is the first I have heard of an atheist converting (reverting?) to a religion.  I mean, I am sure it happens, I just haven't seen it before myself outside of the occasional guy who says he was an atheist demon summoner.   Anyhow, looking at it, I think I agree with her atheist friends that her problems started when she decided to be a virtue ethicist.  Looking for absolute morality will get you every time.  I actually think that believing in absolute morality is a dangerous thing in a very real sense.

If you go, check out the comments; the ones she has replied to anyhow.  Reading their arguments, I really feel like the "mysteries" of religion, the things that make the religious go, "whoa!", really are what you get when a rational person seriously attempts to wrap their brain around a concept that makes no sense.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The religious life

Every so often you hear about one of these "right to life" bills or "personhood amendments" being proposed in some state or other.  Every so often I write about it.  They are something that really annoys me.  Basically, these folks believe for some twisted reason that a human is a human from the moment that the sperm penetrates the egg.  You know conception.  It is a silly notion for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that many eggs never implant.  They believe this because they think that this moment is when the soul is ever so gently inserted by god.  Anyhow, I would like to look today at another reason why I think that these bills based on the teachings of a certain religion are a bad idea.

Let's imagine I have decided to form a new religion.  There are many mysteries that we could delve into.  We could talk about how it has been know to make grown men weep and yada yada yada.  But the core of the religion, I shall call it Identificationalism or IDism for short, is that your soul comes from your name.  In fact, you don't just have one soul.  You have many souls.  For instance, if you are a computer programmer, the title "head computer programmer" would be one of your souls.  If you are a gamer, your gamer tags and what not would be other souls.  All the titles and names and nicknames that you receive become souls, and all of these souls add up to one bigger soul that is your given name.  But there is more!  Your family also shares one, let's say, oversoul that is your family name.  This is the soul that is immortal.  There is an even bigger soul/name as well that belongs to and is shared by the church as a whole.  That soul is god.  You can imagine that apostasy would not be very smiled upon, as removing a name from the church rolls would have a direct negative effect on god (assuming there is only one in IDism).

In IDism, let's imagine that there is a strict rule about naming children before they are born.  They believe that if a child is named before it is born and for some reason it does not make it to term, then that soul will be damned forever.  The tradition is that the child is named exactly one month after it is born.  They see this as a way to make sure that the body fully enters the world before the soul is implanted, just to avoid any accidental damnation (incidentally, Google spell check has just informed me that damnation is uncountable.  The things you learn!).  Thus, on the day of the child's, we'll say, monthday there is a big ceremony with the family and the priests and the church members.  It is considered a very happy occasion.

You can probably see where I am going with this.  Basically, the believers of IDism would believe that life begins at monthday.  They are taught from early childhood that until babies are given a name, they are only hollow shells made to look like people.  In short, they are not human until given a name.  If IDists were in the majority and laws were based on their religion, not only would all abortions be legal, but infanticide as well.

This is a pretty extreme example, but I see no reason that, if IDists existed, we should not give any less consideration to their idea that souls are implanted when children are named, than we do to Christians who believe that souls are implanted at conception.  This is trouble with souls.  They are are 100% undetectable.  The truth is, even if souls existed, and I would be very surprised to learn that they did, we would have no idea when they enter a body.  The Christians could be right, the IDists could be right, or some other religion that believes souls enter a person before conception could be right.  This is yet another reason why I think that this subject should be determined outside the authority of any religion.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Petty barbarian snarkiness

Cruising through Facebook today I came across a post talking about what is important in life.  Someone immediately posted:  "God, Family, Friends, Work, all else. That is the right order!"  Lest you think I am being too petty, I will say that it isn't that bad of a list.  Naturally, I disagree with at least one item.  I hope it is obvious which one I am talking about (Really?  You put an invisible person that you cannot prove exists above your family??).  I also think that "work" should sort of move around on the list depending on what you are doing.  

Anyhow, I am posting this here because I really wanted to write,  "Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women." but didn't because it would violate my Facebook policy of not pissing off my nearest and dearest.  Regardless, it is a quote best appreciated in an Austrian accent:

Anyhow.  I am done being mean for now.  That is good.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Total Recall

I am sure I am the only one to think of that title...

Anyhow, looks like today is the day of the Scott Walker recall election.  I admit I am a bit nervous.  If he pulls it off it will be a huge win for plutocrats everywhere.  Seriously, I don't know how people can possibly vote for someone who is in favor of gutting the middle class.  More than that I am sick to death of people going after union employees using the tired and faulty logic that their own job sucks so why should anyone else make a decent living for a hard days work.  Don't even get me started on how badly teachers are being treated in all this (or by all means do if you want to get an earful).  Anyhow, Scott Walker has become an icon of that particular way of thinking, so come on Wisconsin!  Do the right thing!  Get rid of this guy!  I'll be your best friend!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How I Became a Liberal

It may be a surprise to some to learn that I once considered myself a conservative.  I come from a conservative family.  Growing up, Ronald Reagan was our hero.  I was too young to understand anything about politics, but I had a great childhood and I had confidence in my parents and there reasoning (I still do actually, my mother is racing to the left at the moment).  I continued on my conservative bent on through college; fighting off the revelations of reason I was receiving.  As we got into the thick of the Bush administration, and I began to lose arguments badly, I backed off a bit and changed my views to "moderate, with right leanings".  This was really the beginning of the end for my life as a conservative.

 I fought the good fight, but at the end of the day, none of the ammunition that I was provided with by right wing ideology was doing the trick.  Those who I was debating held the high ground on almost every issue.  I began to realize that things I was arguing for weren't convincing me either.  When faced with that kind of cognitive dissonance it seems that the only options that one has are to change your mind about some things or plug your ears and double down.

Ironically, it was a theology professor of mine who told me that an extremist is someone who when they get lost, drives faster.  I am not sure where he got the quote, but it stuck with me, and has always reminded me that we cannot be afraid to change our minds when the facts don't match our world view.  And that is really why I have become the godless liberal I am today, no matter how I tried, I couldn't make reality fit the image I had had of it.