Monday, October 31, 2011

The Algebra of Good Works

1. Religion + Good Works = Good Works

Solve for Religion.

From Dan Barker, as seen here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Flip-flopping creationists

Donald Prothero, author of Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters, writes in the Skepticblog
"I’ve posted frequently. . . on the religious kooks who insist that Galileo and Copernicus and all later astronomers were wrong and that the earth, not the sun, is the center of the solar system. They base this weird notion on their own version of biblical literalism, since there are many passages in the Bible (e.g., Isaiah 11: 12, 40:22, 44:24; Joshua 10:12-14) which clearly present a geocentric world viewpoint (as was widely held in almost all ancient cultures and not overturned until the 1500s)..."

He reports on a Los Angeles Times article concerning the latest version of a geocentric movement within the Catholic church. Robert Sungenis uses scripture to demonstrate that Galileo was wrong, the Catholic Church was wrong to apologize for their mistreatment of him, and that everything was better back in the 1200s when the Church ran everything. (This, of course, embarrasses the modern Catholic Church to no end.)

What tickled me about the article was that Ken Ham was quoted for his keen insight. Ham, as this board's members know, employs biblical literalism to argue that the universe was created after the Babylonians invented glue, and that a senior citizen built the world's largest boat. But how does Ken Ham feel about the Bible's stance on geocentrism?

“There’s a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated,” Ham said. “The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system.”

Which of course is not true. The Bible makes a strong case for geocentrism, much stronger than heliocentrism, and even stronger than the young earth scenario that Ham insists we must take seriously. So what's the difference between one scientifically-discredited notion and the other? What makes one fringe theory only embraced by religious whackos and the other still fighting a holding action in the halls of government and schools?

Time, apparently. Geocentrism received its first body blow 500 years ago, so that now even Ken Ham thinks it's ridiculous, whereas Creationism has been in retreat for only 150 years. Which suggests that somewhere between now and the year 2461 creationism will be finally resigned to the dustbin of absurdity.

Separation of Church and State equals Terrorism

James Bellar, mayor of Whiteville, Tenn. feels that his community is under attack by terrorists.  Is this based on any violence waged against town residents?  Any intercepted communications involving plots to construct explosive devices or stage attacks?

No, it's because he got a letter in the mail. The Freedom From Religion Foundation warned Mayor Bellar they would sue if he didn't remove a cross erected on a town water tower eight years ago.

“They are terrorists as far as I’m concerned,” said Mayor James Bellar about the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “They are alleging that some Whiteville resident feels very, very intimidated by this cross..."

“A terrorist is more than a guy that flies the planes into the building,” he said. “It’s anyone who can disrupt your way of living, destroy your lifestyle, cause you anxiety. It’s more than killing people. If they can disrupt your routine in life, that’s what they want to do. They are terrorists as far as I’m concerned.”

Yes, because expecting other people to obey the law is just like flying planes into buildings.

While the cross was paid for by private funds, that it was erected on public property is a government endorsement of religion, says Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who received notice of the cross from an anonymous Whiteville resident. Even the Jackson Sun editorial called for the town to remove the cross. "God doesn't call governments to be Christians, he calls Christians to be Christians,” the newspaper wrote.

But Mayor Bellar shows the homogenous thinking typical in fundamentalist conservatives. He doesn't believe that the complaint originated locally. “As a matter of fact, I don’t even think it’s a Whiteville resident,” he said. “We don’t have people of that belief here and if we do they’re not going to raise that kind of ruckus for the rest of the town.”

Mayor Bellar would do well to both brush up on both the law and the diversity that can be found even in conservative Tennessee.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pastor burgles parishioner for drugs

So it seems a woman noticed some of her prescription pain meds were missing.  Who do you suppose would be the culprit?

Prescription painkillers kept disappearing from her house, so a few months ago Jean Harris set up a surveillance camera outside. What she found was her minister, Pastor Rickey Alan Reed, 55, of First Free Methodist Church, trying to get inside her home.

This is the part that intriques me:

The day after she caught him on video, she said she called a church meeting and confronted Reed. He said he would get help. She said church members pressured her not to go to the police.

Police have charged Reed with aggravated burglary. Reed is free on bond, tensions are high at church, and police are investigating whether he may have broken into other homes looking for drugs. Harris, who has attended the church for 55 years, says church members have ostracized her.

I recall a song from church camp that went something like, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pastor Orders Flock to Beat Gay Couple

I've been told by Christian conservatives that their faith in Jesus makes them more loving and accepting, even of people whom they believe are engaged in sinful behavior like homosexuality.  The phrase, "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin," has been often used to summarize their position.

Too bad it didn't work in this case:

[W]ho could imagine the hate and rage that would motivate a Pastor to instruct deacons and members of his congregation, Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland, TN. to physically attack a couple arriving in the church parking lot last Wednesday?

The fact that one of the gay men attacked happened to be the Pastor’s own son, Jerry Pittman, Jr., no doubt contributed to Pittman senior’s noxious edict. According to Pittman Jr., after hearing his Dad yell, “SICK’EM!:”

“My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request. My uncle smashed me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back.”

The situation was made worse when a Deputy Sheriff arrived.
Once the barrage of punches ended, the Deputy refused to let the two victims press charges.

I can't fathom how preventing someone from pressing charges after they've been assaulted would be legal. Maybe someone with a better legal understanding could enlighten me.