Humanism, atheism, some politics and lots of common sense.

Archive for the tag “Creationists”

A Sense of Human Pride

Today I’m feeling good, awash with a sense of pride in humankind. Why? Because scientists have officially announced the Higgs boson particle discovery, it really is a great moment for both science and mankind.
It’s taken 111 nations working together, 10,000 scientists and ten years to reach this historic moment and within the very near future we’ll have logical clear scientific explanations as to how the universe was created.
There won’t be any folklore or mystical rhetoric, no gods, no theory – there will just be rational explained answers based on empirical study and observation.
Today I’m proud to be a human being and know what we are capable of when we go looking for it beyond the ramblings of ignorant old men of long ago that would have intellectual minds fettered if they still could.


The Warrior and the Little Princess

A couple of news stories have caught my eye recently regarding the fairer sex. On reading the stories I named both female protagonists involved the ‘Warrior and the Little  Princess’. The Warrior relates to Lucy Lawless, the actress who portrays Xena from the cult fantasy series. Lucy Lawless has been boarding ships and protesting about the environment and green issues. The Little Princess relates to unlikely heroine and blogger, nine year old Martha Payne from Scotland who had her charity blog banned for photographing and writing about school dinners. Thankfully the ban was overturned and common sense and freedom of speech prevailed and the plucky little Scot is back blogging.
So where is all this going you ask?
It’s going back to the past, to the alleged beginning. Let’s imagine a theocratic dystopia, where religion holds complete sway and the words of the holy books are law. Would women be able to do what Lucy and Martha did? The answer is a simple ‘no’.
Thankfully we don’t have a religious dystopian scenario today, instead we have progress, with women that are treated equals mainly, hmmm I say mainly but not if you delve too deeply into the three main books of faith, the Bible, Koran and Talmud. Though before I continue, I accept some religious groups or factions seemingly have no problem with equality, so I am not making a total sweeping statement here, neither am I regarding all people in the faiths I mention.
So, to understand the present we have to delve into the not so distant past and we are back to women and that ‘sin’ word again. As we all know Eve was tempted by Satan in the guise of a talking snake and it’s all down hill from there. Adam of course, dim wit that he is gets drawn into the whole thing. Satan does his charade, the three main holy books get their villain (yep to blame everything on) and Adam and Eve get ejected from Eden. Snakes on the other hand get a really bad deal, as they are still stoned to death in Islamic festivals to this day.
Women (yep those horrible temptresses made from a mere rib)  and seemingly an after thought get created in Genesis 2:22. In the Koran (Sura 2:35) Eve isn’t referred to by name, just as his wife, yep she doesn’t even get a name, maybe because the unnamed are un-nameable? From then on, the fact that woman came second sets the course for history, she becomes the subordinate, she was responsible for sin and has paid heavily ever since. There’s also a similar Greek story to Adam and Eve, Zeus, Prometheus and Minerva etc.
Back in those days of course, the religious powers that be weren’t happy with menstruation. It was considered impure and was a clear sign her body was cursed, all it meant back then that the female body wasn’t available for conception, she was at no risk of pregnancy during this time and this had people rattled. The possibility of actual sex without conception caused further alarm bells as of course it meant just plain sex and with nothing resulting, and this was an evil!
Turning slightly aside here and bringing the blog in line with my recent ones, we have the fact that homosexual sex is the same, sex without conception, thus considered evil and punishable by death (Leviticus 20:13).
The major faiths back then all had a solution for women (and some still do!). To rescue women from their position there was the two step solution of women bearing children and becoming wives before caring for said children, cooking, some rudimentary indoctrination (some might call it education) and the circle goes on. It’s a circle that was used to keep the peace, women in subservience being unable to explore her femininity, men holding all the cards and being in control, all so easy.
The bachelor or single female are regarded as threats, take the Koran and Sura 24:32 which commands single men to marry. The bachelor according to the Talmud is only half a person. Paul of Tarsus saw the perils of the single man, lust, adultery and sexuality were considered very real threats and so Paul endorses marriage (or as some may call it – the straight jacket of the libido!!!)
Getting back to the woman issue, Jewish orthodox men still include in their morning prayer today “Praised be to god that he has not created me a gentile, a slave” and then of course after “praise he has not created me a woman” (Talmud Menahot 43b). Not to be outshone the Koran mentions deliberations of keeping a female child or burying it beneath the earth ( Sura 16:58,59).
As for Christians, they take the biscuit and it gets even more absurd. The delegates to the council of Macon in 585 submitted discussion involving book by Alcidalus titled ‘Dissertation in that we attempt to prove that women are not human creatures’.
Moving on there are obvious similarities between the Jewish and Muslim faiths, Leviticus and Numbers clearly outline the rules for sexual relations and marriage, illegitimacy of marriage if the child is none Jew, divorce at the husbands discretion with no formalities, women cannot study the Torah and so it goes on. The Koran mentions proclaims the superiority of males over females for god prefers men to women (4:34). We then get more rules about covering up (24:3o), prohibition of marrying a non Muslim (3:28), no mixing of sexes at prayer, no shaking hands with men without wearing gloves etc etc. It’s even recommended that the wife submits to her husband who can ‘plow’ his wife whenever he wishes as she is his ’tillage’, it is metaphoric and mentioned in (2:223). Muslim men also get permission to beat their spouse on mere suspicion of anything (4:34).
Have you ever noticed how Jews get really concerned over marriage? I saw a rabbi on tv recently ranting with fervour about Jewish students in his city marrying out of the faith, he just would not tolerate the thought, ridiculous to watch really. We’ve also had a long list of Muslim so called ‘Honour killings’ in this country  in the past where Muslim women have been murdered because it was thought they were involved out of the faith and didn’t want an arranged marriage.
So, to conclude and circle to the beginning. Is it really a good thing as a young female child to be indoctrinated as millions are? To be unable to express themselves as Lucy and Martha did because a male centred faith structure didn’t and still doesn’t allow it. To be unable to explore their desires, intelligence and freedoms of speech because a controlling faith already had life mapped out for them. Women are equals, sin is nonsense and religions world wide need to wake up to this. Oh and I’ve just realised, I didn’t even get to shoe horn suppressed Amish women in there! Maybe next time.

The Battle Of Bridge Street

It was a lovely sunny day last Wednesday, I’d just been to meet my friend for a coffee and see her new baby. As we parted I felt good about life, seeing her new born daughter and holding her had a therapeutic effect on me. It really does make you marvel about life seeing a new child, how vulnerable and fragile they are and how much care and attention they need.
I crossed the street and headed down a short street called Bridge Street that leads to the bustling market square and there they stood, shouting doom and gloom to a few onlookers. The people in question doing the shouting? The local evangelists.
I paused and started to listen and a few sentences in I started to heckle and disagree. The guy talking motioned to another evangelist who quickly approached me and tried to answer the question the speaker had deflected and refused to answer. The man engaging me was old, a kindly natured but blinkered man who was hard of hearing, amongst the noise he really did struggle to understand what I was saying but did accuse me of being narrow minded when I refused to accept the literature he wanted to hand me so I accepted it and will indeed read it.
Another man drew up aside me and said he admired what I’d said, he was a christian himself he pointed out but didn’t like the constant condemnation of life by evangelicals and agreed with my point on they refuse to listen or compromise.
The main speaker soon finished and another less audible older guy started to ramble so I sought the first speaker out who was talking to another man. I  readied some clear points and rational arguments mentally and headed into verbal battle with him, after all he’d refused to answer my question earlier, I wanted satisfaction!
Without boring you guys with the conversation I can recall I will say you just cannot reason with evangelicals. Their mantra is always sin, sin and more sin, we are all sinners and if we don’t bend the knee we are doomed to hell. The bible cannot be challenged, it is the total and utter word, it is irrefutable. Lastly they talk about death a lot, they really are a gloomy fanatical bunch.
Opposite me was a guy that turned out to be a Catholic, he wants questions answering like me but the evangelical guy soon points out what he deems to be flaws about Catholicism.
My first line of verbal reasoning pointed out lack of real evidence for Jesus, especially historical sources external to the bible. I name several historians of that time, the roving reporters of the era and indeed area who don’t mention Jesus and add that should someone be performing miracles it would have been big news. Without hesitation he tries to refers me to the bible, that all knowing source of infinite knowledge despite hundreds of years of editing and endless contradictions. It’s a book that seeming has a phrase for every occasion or one that can be adapted easily.
He introduces himself as ‘Andy’ and I must say he seemed articulate, determined and often vague. He talked about calmness and mentioned the fact he turned the other cheek once when someone spat in his face yet under some questioning he was starting to lose his cool a bit, especially when I mention the likes of apostles such as Paul, Luke, Mark et al never actually meeting Jesus. My insistence on that point definitely had him rattled. The catholic man opposite takes a middle of the road approach, he supports much of what I am saying, especially the fact the bible isn’t really relevant in today’s world but he obviously has some faith so is adopting a neutral yet rational stance.
We debate things like Noah’s ark, the age of the world, evolution (which is totally dismissed) other gods (again totally dismissed) but soon the conversation returns to sin again. As he does I am already sinning again as a woman walks past me with a very ample cleavage on display!
Andy asks me if I lie? I nod and retort with even though I don’t like lying on occasion I do, particularly to protect peoples feelings or pride. I add that aeroplane pilots have lied so as not to cause alarm or panic for passengers. I give an example of a pilot that once had an equipment failure and the plane was behaving erratically. He obviously had to inform the passengers but decided to blame it on turbulence as he thought he could rectify the situation. As it happens he did so, the plane landed safely and nobody was any the wiser and more importantly no fears of flying or panic attacks for anyone.
We move on to morals and he asks have I ever stole anything? I nod again, as a young kid I vaguely recall snaffling a penny bubblegum in a corner store. Of course on hearing this he again informs me I am hell bound. I ask how does he know it is wrong to steal, ‘the bible says so’ he flatly replies. My counter to this is that I just know it is wrong to steal regardless of the bible, so on the fact I know it is innately wrong and he needs the bible to tell him so must make me more moral than him! He hastily changes the subject.
I raise the point once mentioned by Sam Harris, the atheist author and ask Andy that should I tell him that if I claimed his wife was being unfaithful or that frozen yoghurt made you invisible he want evidence? He nod and agrees and I add yet you are happy to sleep with the bible next to you at night, a book that contains very little evidence or proof at all.
Another point that irks Andy is when I point out how many different versions of the bible there are and the fact early versions didn’t really appear till the third century, hundreds of years after alleged events and then we know things were omitted, added to,  and it was heavily edited constantly through the ages. He can’t deny this and the fact the christian faith has countless factions and variations. The conversation was ranges far and wide but is starting to wind down now as all concerned become aware of the time that has passed. Andy dismisses other gods and faiths adding ‘There is only one true god’.
Did I like Andy? Yeah I did actually beneath his blind faith and fanaticism there seems to be a man of humour, he’s a pleasant man but totally consumed by the bible and objects to reasoning outside of it. He mentions when he turned to faith but won’t tell me the reasons why, adding they are personal and out of respect I don’t pry. I tell him he seems like a nice person but he can still be that person without faith, that he doesn’t need faith or gods to be a decent, kind and caring human being. He smiles but adds I’m the close minded one as I won’t read his literature, I point out I’ve already accepted it from his friend earlier. He asks if I want to consider more about god, no is my reply, I won’t ever be interested either. We part and shake hands. I walk off with the catholic guy and we shake hands too as we try and summarise the hectic verbal melee before saying goodbye.
I head off and gaze upwards to the sun, a sun that once was thought to revolve around the earth until science pointed out otherwise. I reflect on my friends newly born baby and smile. Life is infectious and for living and no christian doom bringer is ever going to spoil how I feel about life because its just too good an experience to waste!

Polar Bears And Penguins

I think one of my favourite personalities from the Enlightenment period has to be Baron D’Holbach. His definition of an atheist is still very relevant today especially when there are so many definitions around currently. Baron D’Holbach said;
“An atheist is a man who destroys the dreams and chimerical beings that are dangerous to the human race so that men can be brought back to nature, to experience and to reason.”
You often find when confronting christians and engaging in debate that once they are bested by reason and logic that they refer to the bible or generally resort to bigger questions of the universe etc. Another frequent argument they throw into the mix is the ‘eye’. They say something like the human eye could just not have happened by sheer random chance. Nobody suggests though that it did evolve by random chance, each small change is saved by nature, as if tweaked with a ratchet, through succeeding generations it adapts whilst some changes my die out. Complex eyes in the animal kingdom have developed independently with over 40 different variations. When you look to evolution there is so much evidence, fossilised, bones and DNA.
Take the human coccyx bone for instance, it’s the very bottom bit of the spine that tapers off to form a tail shape, clear evidence that sometime long ago we did have tails, just like monkeys and other creatures. If you need more current evidence of evolution then you don’t have to look any further than dogs, horses and many other animals which are often bred by breeders who carefully select the animals for their personal traits and strengths and breed them over generations.
Christians of course believe the world is only a few thousand years old despite evidence clearly stating it is way older. When it comes to animals they believe Noah herded over something like 4 million species onto a wooden boat to save them all, totally absurd, especially when you bear in mind species are still being discovered. What would I say to a christian that totally bought into the story of the ark? Simple I’d say ‘Where did Noah get the polar bears and penguins from?’ Not the local desert that’s for sure!

Creationist Propaganda

Whilst collecting and sorting my mail from a basket that catches it at the main door at the bottom of the stairwell  I noticed a neighbour had mail from a christian organisation named ‘Creation Ministries International’. It was bound in transparent cellophane and thus easy to see through and read. I couldn’t help but notice that it had a picture of Charles Darwin overlaid with a no entry sign.
The Article was written by a man called Gary Bates who heads it with ‘Pressing on with questioning evolution’. Ok, so it’s not really my mail to read, though as neighbours the first one to the mail tends to sort through it and leave peoples letters in respective piles on a nearby shelf. I quickly perused the article for a moment and the content was contradictory from the beginning. The author opens with ‘Can we imagine living in a world devoid of christian influence (well I can actually), where compassion is regarded as a weakness and abortion is acceptable because babies aren’t wanted or just the wrong sex?’
We then get some biased paraphrased world war two history lesson of sorts, Hitler’s regime killing millions of Jews and around 70,000 handicapped German people. We get mentions of German people being duped by propaganda, eugenics programmes all culminating in the fact it was social Darwinism to blame. Near the foot of the page it states ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it’. I didn’t read on, as I’ve stated though it was clear to view it wasn’t my mail and what I was reading was only making me feel angry.
It’s almost like creationists have created an alternate christian reality for themselves, a different world with their own take on history, so let’s address a few facts mentioned in the article I briefly read.
Let’s begin with the holocaust Gary mentions and I will refer him to letter wrote to the Pope Pius XII during the war by Ukrainian metropolitan Andrej Septyckyj referring to the German government as a regime of terror and corruption, more diabolical than that of the Bolsheviks. The Pope replied by quoting verses from Psalms and advising Septyckyj to ‘bear adversity with serene patience.’
Wladislaw Raczkiewicz, president of the Polish government-in-exile, appealed to the Pope in January 1943 to publicly denounce Nazi violence. Bishop Preysing of Berlin did the same, at least twice. Pius XII refused.
And lastly when advised by his own clergy such as Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, who wrote to him and said, ‘The massacres of the Jews reach frightening proportions and forms.’ Pope Pius simply said there wasn’t enough evidence to verify the rumours. Though to be fair there is examples the pope did covertly intervene on some occasions such as the deportations in Hungry though the vatican largely remained silent throughout the war to the atrocities when it could have raised its voice and made a difference.
Let’s also mention his predecessor Pope Pius XI who said ‘Mussolini is a wonderful man. Do you hear me? A wonderful man’. This was the same pope that blessed Italian bombers as they went to bomb Ethiopian villages in Mussolini’s war of Imperial conquest.
I want to end this little segment on the holocaust and Gary’s alleged Darwinian influenced eugenics programme by quoting Hitler himself;
‘I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the almighty creator; by defending myself against the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord. I would like to thank providence and the almighty for choosing me of all people.’
Of course looking back in ancient history and events in the bible you soon find it in spades, Moses ordering his people to kill all of the Midians, in Numbers 1:7 in the bible it states;
‘They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every man. 8 Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps.’
But it gets better, not content with the above, when women, children and other captives were taken along with the war booty Moses says in part 15 ‘Have you allowed all the women to live?’ he asked them. 16 They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Notice how they keep the dames for themselves?
There’s many other such examples in the bible, god it seems doesn’t really have a problem with ethnic cleansing at all, in fact he actively encourages it. So, Hitler from his above quote would seem to be acting on divine inspiration, of course we also know he did want a pure Aryan race but his theory and take on it wasn’t about the many in Germany, it was about the whim of the few in power that facilitated it.
And before we move on let’s not forget Noah’s Ark and gods own mass genocide and ethnic cleansing of the world, it don’t get any bigger or better than that!
If we look at the closing line I read and quoted above ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it’ then we only have to look at later regimes in Cambodia and Serbia or the Kurds in Iraq to know that people who DID know history DID in fact repeat it. Mankind has always been a tribal creature and sadly through history has always fought amongst itself being the Red Indian tribes of American, to the Aztec tribes among countless others. Add religion into this mix and mans desire for control and power becomes heightened and atrocities become justified because they become a God’s or Allah’s will and command. Religion has been used to justify many wars and slaughter throughout history as we all know.
Let’s move onto the disabled and abortion bit he mentions. Well with the above we can only conclude pregnant women of opposing tribes in biblical areas were killed but there’s more specifics in the bible too. The Book of Leviticus, Chapter 21, says that if you are a disabled person you can’t be a priest or take communion; in the New Testament, it says renounce sin and you can ‘take up thy bed and walk’ (Luke, Chapter 5); and disability is seen as a punishment from God, ‘be cured if you sin no more,’ in John, Chapter 9.
Or we could move onto Leviticus 21:17-23 which states ‘Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or anything superfluous, a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbacked, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish of the seed’…. it goes on some more but I’ll spare you.
As with the other stuff there’s more examples I could quote, religious apologists I’m sure could add their own ‘nicer’ biblical quotes to the debate but this only serves to demonstrate how the bible is a contradictory fractured affair, rewrote and badly edited over the ages.
As for abortion, well it’s not nice but sometimes necessary in the world of today, if I was told an unborn child a partner was expecting was deaf, blind and dumb then what would be the point of them being in a world they couldn’t interact with, see or hear? Taking the religious drivel above into account there’d be no point them being here anyway because if there was a heaven they’d not be welcome.
I really don’t know why it comes to Darwin or natural selection what creationists are afraid of, or why they seek to disprove it or eliminate it from enquiring rational minds? There’s more resounding evidence and proof for it than there ever has been for creationism. Francis Collins, the American physicist/geneticist who was the leader of the human genome project and is also a christian puts the mankind’s age at around 100,000 years old, other scientists differ on it being older or younger but many say older. That said, when we look at the creationist side of things happening about 6 or 7 thousand years ago we could say over a time line and on what Collin’s says that mankind was here for 99% of the time regardless. During that duration he had to forge his way in the world enduring war, famine, resettlement and natural disasters. It’s only in the last percent of Collin’s time frame that god actually gets interested in mankind and sets up shop in a hot arid backwater of the world and his created crew get busy doing his work (Adam and Eve rubbish to one side here). We all know though through archaeology and recorded history that civilizations had risen and fallen, people such as Alexander the great had crossed most of the known world and the ancient Greeks had been talking some degree of sense about democracy and philosophy. Gods of course had been created in abundance before the alleged main dude entered the fray to explain of course what mankind couldn’t explain back then.
I find it sad to see that organisations such as the Creation Ministries International would post such blinkered one sided rubbish to people. To refer to your own article Gary, you and the organisation you are in are duping people with propaganda of worst kind.

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