Jesus Loves Me, This I Know Because My Wallet Tells Me So

James Inahoff is a U.S. Senator.  He is also a climate change denier.   He has claimed in the past that he is against the theory of anthropogenic global warming because the Bible says that it can’t happen.  He explained this by quoting Genesis 8:22:

“…as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.”

His reasoning was that God has promised to keep the climate stable.  There would be spring, winter and summer.  If you read this verse carefully and accept his argument, you will quickly find that this “promise” was void as soon as it was given.  Why?  The area around the earth’s equator essentially has no seasons.  The temperatures there are stable year round.  Springtime, winter and summer are all the same.  So much for seasons.  This isn’t a small area either.  The Torrid Zone, which is the area of earth around the equator and which has the same basic climate is over 126,000,000 sq. km.  It also contains a large percentage of the world’s population.

As stupid as Senator Inahoff’s biblical based beliefs about why there can’t be anthropogenic global warming is, it is also a lie meant to justify the real reason the senator and others like him are against the theory of climate change.  The climate deniers use the Bible to support their case in a cynical attempt to sway the majority of American’s who believe in the Bible.

The reason this explanation is a lie can be found in a statement by James Inahoff to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last month.  When discussing global warming, the senator said,

“I was actually on your side of this issue when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.”

This is par for the course for the GOP and the religious right.  They use the Bible to support the real reason they are against global warming; Money.  Specifically, profits for corporations in which they have an a professional or financial interest.  They apply the same tactic to other issued like , clean air initiatives, environmental conversation, or oil drilling, as well as social issues such as universal health care, welfare, school lunches, and student loans.

They use religion to support and pass legislation that is anti-science, anti-poor, anti-woman, and racist when the real reason they support these views is greed.

Jesus is quoted in their Bible as saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for a rich man to enter into heaven. I don’t hear them throwing that particular quote, or other’s like it, around very much.  Their cynical use of the Bible to support their greed is nothing new, but it is having a dangerous and frightening effect upon society, and the very earth we live on.

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Religious Freedom: Your Rights Are Special; Your Religion Is Not

No one’s beliefs are beyond question or criticism.  Insisting on special special status for your religious beliefs has nothing to do with your freedom of religion and everything to do with your belief that your religion is somehow better than everyone else’s.  You have the freedom to believe what you choose and to live your life accordingly, unless you try to infringe upon the rights of others.  You do not have the freedom to insist that everyone else live by your beliefs.

I respect your right to believe as you wish but that respect only goes as far as me not trying to stop you from believing as you do, or insist that you believe as I do.  That respect does not include respect for your religion’s ideas, concepts, or particular moral code.

I expect you to question my beliefs and to challenge them.  I have no problems or qualms accepting your challenges to my beliefs.  I believe that if we don’t constantly question, we stagnate, then we stop learning and stop growing.  I question everything, even my own beliefs, constantly.  This brings a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.

You, on the other hand, recoil in dismay when your beliefs are questioned and claim that you are being persecuted and that your right to freedom of religion is being infringed upon.  You are wrong.  Your beliefs are being questions, challenged, and even ridiculed.  Your right to believe them are not being questioned.  Your right to practice your beliefs and to worship are not being questioned.

Freedom of religion does not give your the right to insist that every public meeting or event be preceded with a prayer to your god.  It does not give you the right to insist that laws be passed to restrict the actions and speech of others not of your faith just because they don’t hold to the same moral beliefs as you.  Freedom of religion, as stated in the U.S. Constitution, also implies the freedom to have different religions, or even freedom from religion.  It implies freedom of conscience.

The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution was enacted in order to prevent this country becoming a theocracy, as were most countries of Europe at the time, where Kings reigned by the grace of God.  The Founding Fathers,  in whose memories of the vicious religious wars of scant generations past were still a powerful and terrible memory, created the Establishment Clause to forestall just such terrible religious inspired strife in this country.

Today we see our society polarized by religiously motivated groups on the right who would push their vision of a Christian nation under their particular god upon all of us.  Their titular political arm, the Republican party, which once fought against religiously supported slavery, has now become a tool for those who breed hatred against,  homosexuals, the poor, women, and the non-christian or non-religious.  Their justification?  Their religion.  Their Bible.

Their belief that their Bible tells them that homosexuality is a sin worthy of death(1) that the poor will always be with us(2) and will be rewarded in heaven(3) and therefore somehow can be ignored here on earth); that women must be silent(4) and submit to their husbands(5). They claim that their god is a god of love and mercy.  Their Bible, their words, and their actions show otherwise; that their God is an angry, merciless, and vengeful god and that they are a bigoted, racist, misogynistic people who use their holy book to foist their twisted view of morality on the rest of us.

 

We all have the right to our own religion, our own beliefs.  We all have the right to worship as we wish.  We do not have the right, none of us, is to have our beliefs put up on a pedestal that is above question, challenge or even ridicule.  What none of us has is the privilege of having our special religious beliefs, modes of worship, and morals elevated above those of anyone else.  The freedom of religion granted by the U.S. Constitution implies, above all, equality of all beliefs, where no one belief or religion, especially that of majority, is above any other.

 

1 Leviticus 18 and 20

2 Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8

3 Matthew 5:3, Luke 6:20

4 1 Corinthians 14:34

5 1 Peter 3:5

Fuck Nature! So Saith the Lord Our God

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that a group of local tea partiers are fighting a U.S. Fish and Wildlife plan to restrict boating and other human activity in Kings Bay in Florida.  While there is reasonable opposition from other local groups such as The Crystal River City Council and Citrus County Commission due to concerns over the potential negative financial impact of the proposed regulation on the local economy, the Citrus County tea party group is claiming the Bible as their reason for opposing it.

“We cannot elevate nature above people,” explained Edna Mattos, 63, leader of the Citrus County Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. “That’s against the Bible and the Bill of Rights.”

Federal officials “want to restrict the entire bay,” she contended. “They don’t want people here.”

Mattos then went on to tie the regulations into a conspiracy by the U.N.  According to the Times she said:

“We believe that (federal regulators’) aim is to control the fish and wildlife, in addition to the use of the land that surrounds this area, and the people that live here and visit. … As most of us know, this all ties in to the United Nations’ Agenda 21 and Sustainability.”

Agenda 21 is a program, adopted by the U.N. in 1992, to encourage countries around the world to promote only development that does not harm nature. Pundit Glenn Beck and other conservatives have attacked it as an attempt to impose world government’s rules on every aspect of American lives. The Citrus County tea party group’s website says Agenda 21 is “designed to make humans into livestock.”

This is just one more example of the tea party’s efforts to use the Bible and their religious beliefs  to influence how government operates and is an insidious attempt to move our country toward a theocracy based on the Bible and the idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation.   Their crazy idea of a worldwide U.N. conspiracy, “designed to make humans into livestock”, shows just how delusional these people can be.

As for it being against the Bill of Rights, I think she needs to go and actually read that document.  Like many tea partiers, she loves to wave the constitution in everyone’s faces, but has no idea what it really says or means.  The Bill of Rights does not guarantee the right to boat or swim or do whatever we want to do in Kings Bay.  While the rights of private land owners are certainly protected by the constitution, that same document also provides the ability of the U.S. and state governmenst to set aside land for “public use”.  The laws protecting the manatees have been in place since the 1980’s and much of the land in and around Kings Bay have been designated a U.S. Wildlife Refuge since that time.  The Supreme Court has held that the federal government and each state has the power of eminent domain—the power to take private property for “public use”, based upon the “taking” clause of the fifth amendment.  In fact, there were public hearings just last week on the proposed restrictions, which the tea partiers picketed, as is their right.  It would seem that the U.S. government is following the constitution, while the tea party, ignorant of that document that they love to constantly mention, would attempt to strip us of many of the rights that it guarantees, especially the establishment clause that outlines the separation of church and state.

Normally, I’d just sluff this off as the mad ravings of a bunch of crack pots.  The scary thing here is that the tea party has already put members into public offices all across the country.  The fact that Michelle Bachman won a straw poll in Iowa, making her the current leading candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination is frightening beyond belief.  I thought that George W. Bush was bad, but Bachman would be a greater disaster for this country than he could ever have been.  There is good reason they are often referred to as the “American Taliban”.   A Christian theocracy would stifle our ability to innovate scientifically and technologically, leave millions of poor and middle class Americans with no health care and no safety net, and allow capitalism to run rampant and unregulated, exalting the greed of corporations and the rich to the detriment of the majority of poor, working class, and middle class Americans.  Those of other faiths (or of no faith at all) could likely become second class citizens in their own country.

This issue in Florida may seem to be just a local concern, but it is an example of what is happening all across the country as the religious zealots of the tea party attempt to foist their religious inspired beliefs and delusional conspiracy theories upon the rest of us.  They have openly stated their intent to make the U.S. a Christian nation governed by the laws of the Bible.  The threat from these know nothings goes far beyond the Patriot Act ever could and raises the specter of another age of McCarthyism, but one that could have far more lasting impact.

I Seem to Have Hit a Nerve

My last post, Hitler – The Last Refuge of a Theist, seems to have hit a nerve among skeptics and atheists. I’ve seem some excellent comments regarding the truth about Hitler and his supposed support of Darwin and evolution. Among them is the following outstanding comment from fribnit.

“The single “scholarly” work of which I am aware that promotes a Darwin-Hitler connection is a piece of propaganda funded by an “Intelligent Design” promoting group called Discovery. The book, called From Darwin to Hitler by an “Historian” named Richard Weikart, is widely discredited as nothing more than propaganda.
As stated above, the Nazi’s burned Origin of the Species. Evolution was among the areas of scientific study derided by Hitler as “Jew Science”. Interesting in that Darwin was not Jewish.

It offends me deeply when someone uses the Hitler card in such a patently false manner, intended to discredit with guilt by association.

As Jay points out, Hitler self identified as a Christian. He felt that “The Almighty” guided and approved of his actions. Certainly the Christian-Hitler connection is much stronger than any supposed Darwin-Hitler connection.

I do not blame “Christianity” for the actions of Hitler and the Nazi scum, nor do I blame “Christianity” for the atrocities of the KKK, who also consider themselves “God Fearing Christians”. I don’t even blame “Christianity” for the Spanish Inquisition (Hundreds of years before Darwin) or the Crusades. I hold as responsible the people that conceived and committed these atrocities.

Long before Darwin, The Greeks and Romans and many others, considered themselves separate races from, and superior to, other people on the planet. Long before Darwin people of a variety of races considered other races to be less than human and tried to eliminate or enslave them. Human history is littered with attempts at genocide.

Believing in Intelligent Design or Creationism in the face of all the SCIENTIFIC evidence to the contrary is a remarkable exercise in willful blindness.
Trying to discredit Evolution by claiming it inspired one of the greatest atrocities in the history of man is vile and despicable and a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible: “Intelligent Design”.”:

There are several very good points made here. Hitler did self-identify as a Christian and did, if we can believe his written and spoken words, that the “Almighty” was guiding him and supporting him.

The Nazis did burn copies of On Origin of Species and considered evolution a “Jewish” science. Burning copies of a book that describes a theory you supposedly support is incomprehensible.

Eugenics is not based on Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, but rather artificial selection, or breeding. Just as humans have bred animals for thousands of years, Hitler and his cohorts believed that they could breed better humans and even set up communities where Aryan men and women were paired, married and had children. A major goal of the Holocaust was not just to kill the Jews and other “undesirables”, but to remove them completely from the human gene pool by both exterminating those who existed and breeding the various percentages out of these genes out of the remaining population.

This type of evolutionary selection is anything but natural, which is what Darwin’s theory is all about. Those who wish to use the Nazi example of eugenics against evolution show a gross lack of understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and of history.

To compare Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection to Hitler and the Holocaust is intellectually dishonest and reprehensible. It is a desperate ploy by people who can find no reasonable and cogent arguments to support their religious beliefs. It shows the narrowness of their world view and the smallness of the intellect.

Have I Read The Bible, Hell Yes! That’s Why I’m an Atheist!

A childhood friend on FB responded to my post, The Bible is the Literal Word of God; Except When Its Not. Here is what he said:

“have you read the Bible? or are you simply regurgitating ignorance from others? I have offered answers, yet I have not been taken up on this. Again, it is very irresponsible to propagate unsubstantiated opinions. Why this venom towards Christians and the Bible? If you wish to be an athiest be one, that is your right. Why the all out war on the belief of others. What is freethinking? Oh just freedom to think apart from responsibility and accountablity? Freedom from any form of religious thinking? Maybe free thinking should be folks who examine an issue and think for themselves. Not simply robots who cannot originate a though for themselves. Freethinking is a misnomer”


Yes, I’ve read the bible, cover to cover, at least twice, and many parts of it, the New Testament especially, many, many times over the years. It was this almost continual reading of the bible that made me see more and more contradictions that I just couldn’t rationalize away. Then I studied the history of the writing of the New Testament, how there were originally hundreds of gospels and competing camps of bishops supporting one version of the theology against the others. I learned about the political machinations that took place to arrive at the New Testament we have now. It was, totally and completely, cover to cover, created to fulfill political agendas of the most powerful bishops and the rulers who backed them.

Why do I have such venom toward the bible and the people who misuse it (I refuse to lump all Christians into one group as this would be irresponsible)? Ask Madeline Neumann, a 12-year-old girl whose parents, based on their religion, allowed her to die of diabetic ketoacidosis rather than save her life by allowing physicians to administer insulin and fluids. They thought prayer would save her. It didn’t. Ask the thousands of people who have been killed over the last 2000 years for their refusal to follow the prevailing version of Christianity. Ask the irresponsible ministers and political leaders who wish to brand homosexuals as immoral, second-class citizens. Ask the 156,000,000 women who’s reproductive organs are held hostage by a religiously motivated white, male, privileged class of cretins.

I wage an all out war on anything that conspires to take rights away from people. That includes holier-than-thou Christians, militant, closed minded Muslims, Zionistic Jews willing to steal and kill to get their land, white supremacists who wish to overthrow the U.S Government, wide-eyed, white, privileged Greenpeace and PETA people who would rater see millions starve and die of disease than allow GM foods and medicines tested on animals be developed that could save countless lives.

Christianity is my main focus because, almost without exception, all of the people in this country right now who would seek to take rights away from others self-identify as Christians and claim that their sense of morality comes from their religion. If things change and the largest group of privileged people in power become Muslims or Hindus or Wiccans, I’ll fight them just as loudly and forcefully.

I don’t claim to be able to tell people how to live their lives. As long as no one is being harmed, taken advantage of, or being forced either by law or by custom to kowtow to some group’s beliefs, then I say let people believe whatever they like. You can believe in God and Jesus, you can believe that Homosexuals will go to hell, but keep that belief within your churches and homes, don’t force it on others.

I don’t go door to door trying to get people not to believe in God. I don’t support any law that would outlaw any kind of religion or religious belief. I don’t lobby for my personal beliefs to be the law of the land, but don’t try to tell me that Christians aren’t doing that every day, in every town and state in the country. When the Christian majority (and yes, you are well over a 70% majority) tries to tell the rest of us what we can do and say and believe and think, then yes, I will fight for my rights and the rights of everyone else who are forced to listen to people tell us we are less American and less patriotic than they are because we don’t believe in their god. This country was founded on religious freedom (freedom for and from religion) and freedom of conscience, not on Christianity or any other religion. Yes, I will fight for that kicking and screaming, every fucking step of the way.

The Bible is the Literal Word of God; Except When Its Not

Atheist Revolution has a nice entry about how the bible condemns public prayer. I’m waiting to see what kind of spin the Christian apologists will put on that one. I have talked about this whole, the-bible-is-literal-except-for-the-parts-I-don’t-like phenomenon before here. There is a technical name for this, coined by Penn & Teller; it’s called BULLSHIT.

I want to quote from that piece of mine that I mentioned above and elaborate a bit on it:

Jay Walker: So how do you decide what parts of the “Old Testament” to believe and which parts not to? I thought the whole bible was the word of god? I’m not asking to be sarcastic, I’m honestly curious.

Bob Santaniello: It isn’t a decision; I believe as you said, all of the Old and New Testaments is the true word of God as given to men by the Holy Spirit. The deciding part is to hermeneutically figure out to whom the different parts were written, why things were written, the cultural surroundings in which they were written, the style of writing – poetry, symbolism, narrative, prophetic – most all can be found in them. The more I study God’s word, the better I come to understanding Him and in building a relationship with Him – and how to live according to His word. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells how Bible truth is revealed to mankind.

So the bible is literally true, except when it is poetic, symbolic, or whatever else the apologist decides best fits his current bullshit explanation of the “word of God”. For some reason, the all-powerful, all-knowing god, although he writes quite persuasively, can’t seem to write very clearly. You would think that a deity the likes of which Christians describe would be able to get his message across clearly and succinctly. I’ve known 9th graders who were able to write much more lucidly and get their point across with infinitely more clarity that this all knowing, all add-your-grandiose-trait here, ne plus ultra deity (I used to teach high school English so I’ve seen plenty of 9th grade writings so I know that of which I speak.)

The bible is ragtag collection of manmade texts with no self-consistency of facts, theology or history, if anything, the contradictions within them are glaring and numerous. There are numerous sources that I could cite, two excellent ones are Biblical Nonsense: A Review Of The Bible For Doubting Christians, by Jason Long and Self-Contradictions of the Bible, by William Henry Burr. You can also google “bible contradictions” and that will turn up hundreds of sites with thousands of examples.

Christians would have you believe that the bible is akin to a sports or game rulebook for living life.
Here is an exercise that you yourself can do to approximate the clarity and explanatory power of the bible:

  • Acquire rulebooks for baseball, basketball, polo, monopoly, chess, poker and horseshoes.
  • Carefully tear each page out of each rulebook.
  • Throw all the pages up in the air. (It would help if there was a fairly stiff breeze).
  • Collect them all up and throw them into one big pile.
  • Organize them into a stack so that all pages are orientated the same way.
  • Staple, tape, or bind them all together in a binder.
  • Now, on the outside of the binder write, “The Bible”.

Viola! Your very own rule book that makes just as much sense and was organized in much the same way the book Christians call their bible. You and your friends will have just as much trouble figuring your book out as Christians do theirs.

If you do decide to try this experiment, please, for the love of all that is good, burn your book as soon as you are done leafing through it so that some nut doesn’t find it and start preaching that he’s found the true way to play the game of life.