Tag Archives: rant

I get… WTF?? – UPDATE: The WTF continues.

While browsing Reddit today, I came across a person claiming to have an unbiased source in the ‘fracking’ debate – a YouTube video with a rather hyperbolic description about how fracking was going to poison everyone and that companies that did it have blood on their hands. I pointed out this comment to the person linking to the video, saying it was hardly unbiased, and linking to the Skeptoid episode on fracking. This is the response I got (copied in case he deletes it later):

Clever Holmes. I didn’t even read that comment as I was interested in the vid – not in the up-loader. I only found the vid after searching for an alternate account of Fracking history. The comment’s full vitriolic content (perhaps deserved now that you shine a light for me to reflect on) is not immediately available unless you click to fully view it. Nice way to distract from the actual accounts in the vid and deflect any real accountability for facts by instead fanning opinions. I mean you can do that – but don’t fool yourself into thinking that it isn’t obvious.

Yeah – I can see you better now…how internal fears motivate to excuse you from owning up to a deadly game…which is my principle compliant here – the desire to promote a questionable practice by hyping status indulgent virtues at the expense of an honest interest in clarifying the cost of safety history or any dialog of compassionate accountability to human beings.

Are you the sham…or at least as complacent as you seem to be?

But let’s pause and take a step back for a moment and explore…if you are game…what is happening as I write and as you read this through the bridge of time’s arrow. Let’s do a thought experiment. I will type two letters below:

b a

Which one represents you and which one represents me? Since I will refrain from choosing it could be either. You might choose b because it comes first? However a comes before b in the alpha-bet so you might choose that one. a could also represent “Alpha” – as in “Alpha Male” or perhaps the significance of “Acropolis”. Still – b appears first in this case so it could represent “Better” or “”Brave” or “Baring Sea” for that matter – a multitude of possibilities!

All that can be said is that at this moment as you read this both letters are pairing to represent you and I as a suggestion in both of our minds.

So what is the significance of that? It is a suggestion that for these moments as your eyes transfer electrical signals from your computer to your brain and then form potential meaning in your psyche we share a tentative point of sameness. A swirling uncertainly perhaps akin to a psychic (classical definition – not necessarily “clairvoyance”) zero-point.

Now here is where it gets really interesting – as these two letters tell a peculiar story:

One of these letters has seen astonishing beauty – the kind that that reaches into your soul and could make you nearly weep for love and gratitude in the dead of a hollow night or even in the light of a warm sun. However so has the other letter – just not quite in the same way…a different assortment of contexts, elements and people create a different yet comparable story.

One of these letters has seen tragedy…horror in fact. Human beings lain waist due to greed, lies and ignorance. So has the other though – just not in the same way – different players and different faces in a haunting gallery of sorrowful remembrance. They both deal with these things as best as they can in ways that they can only hope are reliable.

Both letters are survivors…sitting there bold in a quantum state of electronic and human interface. They share similarities…coming from a common origin – yet also in truth are distinctly different and given to quite different accomplishments in potential and realized meaning. Is one better than the other? What an absurd notion – yet truly at times one is in fact distinctly better than the other to perform a specific task and accomplish a specific meaning.

One of these letters harbors…fear. Fear of going down the wrong road and making the wrong turn at the wrong time – the potential for catastrophic disaster as events and issues compound in a would of uncertainty and the possibility of new or revisited horror. And the other letter? Does it have greater or less fear? Hard to say as fear comes and goes sometimes unbidden following natural laws that echo the poetry of an indifferent cruel Fukushima tide.

It is an unsettling world these letters occupy – but not without hope or wonder. Which letter has the greater responsibility in affecting the other? Well that certainly seems like a very odd mystery of uncertain depth.

One of the letters hopes that the beauty of humanity will shine through and illuminate the other (well in this little play anyway) and that some truth will bring both letters to a better world. How does the other letter feel? Is fear too dominant in the other? The memory of delusion, pain and ungodly hubris too powerful?

I don’t choose a letter. I am content to let you ponder this – assuming you have read this far. If it makes us to briefly occupy common ground for a few moments I find it interesting – as an improvised thought experiment.

Choose your letter dear Infidel. Choose wisely – whether fueled by the forces of economically beneficial fact or whimsy drunk fiction…might it be the most pivotal choice of your life?

a link b?

b link a?

11259784

—–

 

Continue reading

Free will is no excuse.

Today I saw a video that disturbed, depressed, and angered me. It’s a clip showing starving, shriveled, polio-crippled children in Somalia who have been abandoned to die. It’s just as bad as it sounds.

If you really want to see it, go here. (Warning: that site has some very NSFW ads.) But be prepared to cry.

It’s a great example of the problem of evil. The problem of evil is familiar to most people, and can generally be summed up as “why does God allow bad things to happen?” Of course, so far as I can tell, there’s no god to blame. Bad things happen either because of nature of because of the actions of other living things (especially people). In this case, it’s a complicated geopolitical problem involving the failure of food aid programs, the lack of a functioning government, the greed of regional warlords, and so on. It’s a situation that desperately needs to be resolved, but we typically feel helpless to resolve it because there’s little any individual person can do other than call attention to it.

Anyway, back to the problem of evil. Continue reading

I don’t get it.

The new TV series Falling Skies is all about a ragtag bunch of resistance fighters trying to turn the tide in a seemingly hopeless battle against an overwhelmingly powerful, vastly more advanced alien invading force. It has promise.

But they keep bringing religion into it.

There’s a single character who is constantly doing Goddy stuff. It’s pretty much her schtick. Whether it’s praying for the people who are missing or leading others in grace before a meal, it’s quickly becoming obvious that there won’t be a scene that she’s in where she’s not doing something God-related.

Here she is, facing the reality that the universe was not made especially for human beings, that there’s clearly nobody watching over humanity and keeping it safe, and yet she’s talking about how her heavenly father is watching out for them and crossing herself in prayer. Every day more people die or more kids are kidnapped and turned into mindless worker drones by the aliens, but here’s this girl deluding herself into thinking that the Big Guy’s up there watching out for them. She even admits that her prayers aren’t for anyone else – that they’re just to help her cope.

And she gets praised for it left and right! Why on earth would someone like this be treated as respectable in an apocalyptic battle for the survival of our species? What good could her superstitions possibly do?

Regardless, she’s a minor character so far, so it’s more of a weirdly out-of-place annoyance than a real cause for complaint. The show is a pretty decent bit of TV sci fi, and I just hope it doesn’t go the way of “V” before it, which also took a decidedly god-centered turn with the idea of the aliens trying to build a machine that could remove the human soul… and was canceled after two seasons because of terrible writing.

You worship a monster.

A while ago at work I overheard a couple of coworkers talking about The Secret, a silly bit of pseudoscience that claims that any intentions you “put out into the universe” will somehow attract whatever it is you intend. For example, if you “put it out into the universe” that you want a new car, eventually you’ll get one. It’s a dumb idea, I know. Our thoughts don’t actually affect reality outside of what they lead us to do.

But there’s a dark side to this kind of belief. You see, according to The Secret, everything that happens is the result of our intentions. Sure, when we get that big bonus at work, it’s a sign of the power of our intentions. But when a tsunami hits and kills us and hundreds of thousands of others, it’s really just because not one of those hundreds of thousands of people really wanted to be safe from tsunamis – or, worse, that more of them wanted to die in a tsunami than wanted to be kept safe. In other words, as soon as you get outside of this sappy, fluffy, happy-go-lucky, upper-middle-class, first world life, The Secret starts becoming horrifying. Everything bad that happens is either because of too many people wanting it to happen or not enough people wanting it not to happen.

With The Secret, though, at least we can only blame ourselves. If the so-called Law of Attraction were true, we could do something about it.

When you believe in an omnipotent god that you call perfectly good, you’re in an even worse situation. Because you’re stuck believing in a being that is capable of literally anything, but which (for whatever reason) still decides to take a course of action that engenders massive amounts of suffering. An omnipotent being could, of course, achieve its goals through any means it decides to use. So if it achieves its goals through means that require human suffering, the only logical conclusion is that it prefers human suffering to the absence thereof.

And we’re absolutely unable to make the situation any better.

I’ve seen Christians extol the virtues of their god by talking about how everyone feels God’s love in their lives. Tell that to the African boy that just starved to death, in agony and terror, because a parasitic worm burrowed its way into his large intestine and siphoned off all the nutrients from the tiny amount of food he managed to scavenge. Tell him that it happened because your god loves us all equally and doesn’t wish for us to suffer. Yes, clearly your happy-clappy scripture is a comfort to people who aren’t as pampered and privileged as you are in a rich first world country.

If you believe in an omnipotent god, and you believe that everything which happens is a part of that god’s plan, you worship a monster. There’s no other way to put it.

Regarding the ‘Left Behind’ prequels

For reasons I can’t really explain, I’ve just listened to all three of the ‘Left Behind’ prequels in audiobook form.

These books hold a strange fascination for me. I’ll freely admit that it’s largely because I was reading the original series when I became a born-again Christian. These stories are deeply embedded in my memory. But when I first read them, I was just thinking about how glorious the future was going to be – as if the books were not just fictional descriptions of future events, but actual works of prophecy. The lines between fiction and prophecy were totally blurred for me.

Now, when I listen to them as a nonbeliever, I can’t help but be struck by how trite and silly they seem. The characters are totally unrealistic, the plot lines are predictable and full of pointless delays, and the dialogue is stilted and utterly unlike any kind of dialogue that real people have. Everyone seems to speak the same way, eschewing contractions for the full versions of words (in what seems like an attempt to conform with the formal, Victorian English of the KJV of the Bible).

The whole thing is ridiculous, and it’s packed with straw man versions of the arguments that atheists actually use. It’s amazing that I was ever so drawn into something like this…

And that doesn’t even begin to describe just how stereotypical the non-white characters are in this series. Jenkins and LaHaye actually portray the only explicitly African American characters as being stereotypically ‘sassy’ and obsessed with barbecued ribs. They could really only have been more racist if they’d gotten into a discussion of watermelon and chitlins… I mean, come on! Their straw man black people even started talking about how white people don’t know how to cook ribs! What the fuck?

Can Child Indoctrination Be Child Abuse?

Recently this video popped up over on Hemant Mehta’s blog:

Hemant polled his readers:

I know the poll question is simplistic, but the idea is a broad one: What do you think about the use of the child in the video? Is this a form of child abuse?

Essentially, the question is whether or not it’s abusive to involve a child in the act of indoctrinating others, as a part of the process of raising them to believe the parents’ dogma. It’s a sticky question. Without a doubt, there are certain lies that parents can tell their kids without it being considered child abuse.

But religious dogma – especially that of the woman in this video – is entirely different. When you teach a child that the world works in an entirely different way than it actually does… and teach them social skills with the intent of getting them to make friends in order to get people saved… and teach them to fear and be repulsed by their human nature… and teach them that their body is shameful and can lead then to eternal damnation… and teach them that it’s a virtue to believe in fantastic things on little to no evidence… and set them up for a future where they’ll either never really think for themselves or spend many painful years getting over the various mental blocks their indoctrination put in place… yes, I would call that child abuse.
Continue reading

Fun with UPS

This is completely unrelated to atheism… but hey, it’s my blog. I can vent.

When I left work today I discovered that I had a voice mail from UPS, saying that they’d attempted to make a delivery of a package that required my signature. Since I wasn’t home, they would leave a note on my door with information and instructions for picking it up.

I got home to discover that the note was curiously absent.

The package having been sent from the UK, I only had a Royal Mail reference number to track the package – I had no UPS tracking number. After an hour or so of frustration at trying (to no avail) to determine my tracking number through the UPS website, I received another automated call from UPS. It gave me a menu of options, one of which was to be reminded of my tracking number! Aha!

But my luck being as it is, I was in the middle of a thunderstorm, and I’m lucky to get two bars at best when the weather isn’t so oppressive. After three digits of the tracking number, the call cut out. I redialed the number of the automated message, only to be informed that I had received a call from that number because a delivery attempt had failed. (Wow, really? I had no idea!) I haven’t been called by that number again since.

Next I decided to check with the local UPS store, which is only about five minutes from my apartment. No luck. In fact, the store employee told me rather curtly, regarding the automated message, that “that’s got nothing to do with us.”

I called the international shipping customer service number. They took my name, address, and phone number, typed merrily away into their system, and lo and behold, nothing came up for me. I can only assume that this is because it was before the trucks checked in for the evening, though it seems like they should be able to submit delivery attempts remotely… In any case, they couldn’t help me. They told me they’d check with the local UPS store. Hooray!

Maybe I’ll get the package eventually…

Happy Pastel Eggs and Bunnies Day!

Today, Christians celebrate Easter, the biggest day on their holy calendar. It’s the day that Jesus is supposed to have risen from the dead, having completed his victory over death and offering absolution from sin to all who accepted his sacrifice and followed him.

The reason for the sacrifice was to stand in the stead of all mankind to pay for their sins, which they had inherited by virtue of the sinful nature of mankind caused by the fall in Eden. On a side note, it’s debatable whether or not being dead for three days and then becoming God could really be called a sacrifice, but let’s leave that alone for now.
Continue reading