Chronicling the follies of religion and superstition, the virtues of skepticism, and the wonders of the real (natural) universe as revealed by science. Plus other interesting and educational stuff.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

Welcome back Jesus? Christians say ‘Blood Moon’ signals End Times

Many Christians believe Tuesday’s rare celestial event known as a “blood moon” is a sign that the End Times are upon us and the return of Christ is near.

The lunar eclipse scheduled to happen after midnight on April 15th will reportedly be the first of four so-called “blood moon eclipses” expected to occur over the next two years.

A “blood moon” occurs when the Earth spins between the sun and the moon. When the Earth aligns with the sun and casts a shadow on the moon, it creates the effect known as a lunar eclipse, where the moon gets darker as the shadow passes; as this happens, the color of the moon changes to a dark rusty red color, hence the name “blood moon.”

Many Christians believe the “blood moon eclipses” are a sign of the “End Times.” CNN notes Christians who draw a divine connection to the celestial event cite the Bible’s Book of Acts, in which God says:

“And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”…

confrontingbabble-on:

True bible believers are few and far between…while religious hypocrites abound…who pontificate that the bible are their god’s words…and then don’t even bother to read them…let alone follow them…!

1. The top graphic shows that true bible fundamentalists…Americans who read the bible at least 4 times a week…have fallen to a measly 19% of the population…and are matched precisely, by skeptics who hold the most negative or non-sacred view of the bible…

2. The lower graphic reveals the amazing reality…that whereas 56% of Americans disingenuously and hypocritically give lip-service to the claim that the bible contains the actual words of their god…a pathetic 37% of Americans bother to read these “divine” words, even once a week…let alone follow them…!

From http://www.christianpost.com/news/state-of-the-bible-survey-bible-skeptics-on-the-rise-117696/

Virginia KKK Leader: We’re Not Racist, We’re Just Misunderstood Christians

According to Klan imperial wizard Frank Ancona, the KKK is just misunderstood because of a “few rogues.”

Which Republican public relations firm is handling the Ku Klux Klan PR these days? They seem to be undergoing a “rebranding,” that overused euphemism for papering over their past in order to renew interest in their future.

Raw Story:

“We don’t hate people because of their race. I mean, we’re a Christian organization,” Frank Ancona, an Imperial Wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told WWBT on Thursday.

He insisted that the KKK had been unfairly maligned for its acts of violence against black people in the United States.

“Because of the acts of a few rogue Klansmen our Klansmen are supposed to be murderers and want to lynch black people, and we are supposed to be terrorists, and that is a complete falsehood.”

Awwww, they’re just misunderstood. All of those photos of them burning crosses on lawns and the lynchings that actually did happen? Just a big fat lie.

At any rate, their rebranding is not going particularly well. Perhaps that’s related to the flyers they’ve been leaving in Virginia neighborhoods. Here are some of their marketing pitches:

One of those fliers says “many people have experienced the blacks firsthand” and have seen the “savagery and animalism in many of these people.”

The flier that went to Chesterfield residents says the organization’s mission is “exalting the Caucasian race and teaching the doctrine of white supremacy.”

“That does not mean that we are enemies of the colored and mongrel race, but it does mean that we are organized to establish the solidarity and to realize the mission of the white race,” that flier reads.

Ancona said some misconceptions come from the fact that the organization is open exclusively to white, native-born Christians and that it has rituals and ceremonies that mysterious because they are known only to Klan members.

Yes, that could certainly have something to do with it. There’s nothing particularly racist about excluding anyone who isn’t white, now is there?

X

Most of the past – surely far more than 99 percent, if we could quantify it – is irretrievably lost; it cannot be recovered. This should instill some modesty in us. Consider the weeks following the crucifixion. We have only minuscule fragments of what actually transpired. What, for instance, do we really know about the resurrection experience of James? First Corinthians 15:7 says that he saw the risen Jesus. And that is it. What Jesus looked like, what he said, if anything, where the encounter took place, when precisely it happened, how James responded, what state of mind he was in, how the experience began, how it ended – all of this had failed to enter the record. Almost every question that we might ask goes unanswered … Yet they are the sorts of questions historians often ask of old texts. The fact that we cannot begin to answer them shows how emaciated historically – as opposed to theologically – the Gospel narratives really are. Even if we naively think them to be historically accurate down to the minutest detail, we are still left with precious little. The accounts of the resurrection, like the past in general, come to us as phantoms. Most of the reality is gone … Even if history served us much better than it does, it would still not take us to promised land of theological certainty.

Allison, Dale C.. Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and its Interpreters, p. 337-339. New York: T & T Clark, 2005. Print. (via academicatheism)

Bill Nye’s Take on the Nye-Ham Debate

…I am by no means an expert on most of this. Unlike my beloved uncle, I am not a geologist. Unlike my academic colleague and acquaintance Richard Dawkins, I am not an evolutionary biologist. Unlike my old professor Carl Sagan or my fellow Planetary Society Board member and dear friend Neil deGrasse Tyson, I am not an expert on astrophysics. I am, however, a science educator. In this situation, our skeptical arguments are not the stuff of PhDs. It’s elementary science and common sense. That’s what I planned to rely on. That’s what gave me confidence…

…After the debate, my agent and I were driven back to our hotel. We were, by agreement, accompanied by two of Ham’s security people. They were absolutely grim. I admit it made me feel good. They had the countenance of a team that had been beaten—beaten badly in their own stadium. Incidentally, if the situation were reversed, I am pretty sure they are trained to feel bad about feeling good. They would manage to feel bad either way, which is consistent with Mr. Ham’s insistence on The Fall, when humankind took its first turn for the worse. And by his reckoning, we’ve been plummeting ever since….

Iowa Governor Signs Proclamation Inviting All Iowans to Turn from Their Wicked Ways and Embrace Christianity

This past week, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation that calls on all Iowans to embrace Christianity according to a specific Bible verse

Another important doctrine of the Christian religion, is the atonement supposed to have been made by the death and sufferings of the pretended Saviour of the world; and this is grounded upon principles as regardless of justice as the doctrine of original sin. It exhibits a spectacle truly distressing to the feelings of the benevolent mind, it calls innocence and virtue into a scene of suffering, and reputed guilt, in order to destroy the injurious effects of real vice. It pretends to free the world from the fatal effects of a primary apostacy, by the sacrifice of an innocent being. Evil has already been introduced into the world, and in order to remove it, a fresh accumulation of crimes becomes necessary. In plain terms, to destroy one evil, another must be committed.

Elihu Palmer, “Principles of Nature” 1801 (via academicatheism)

Better Know A Religion: Cao Dai

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Origins: Founded in 1926, Vietnam by Ngo Van Chieu and others based on a séance.

Adherents: (apprx) 2-6 million

God(’s) and the Universe: God represented by Divine Eye. Founders of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity venerated, and saints including Victor Hugo.

Human situation and life purpose: Goal is peace and harmony in each person and in the world. Salvation by “cultivating self and finding God in self.”

Afterlife: Reincarnation. Bad karma can lead to rebirth on a darker planet; good karma to better life on earth. Eventual attainment of nirvana or heaven.

Practices: Hierarchy similar to Roman Catholicism. Daily prayer. Meditation. Communication with spirit world (now outlawed in Vietnam).

Texts: Caodai canon

History and Beliefs

Cao Dai (a.k.a. Dao Cao Dai or Caodaism) is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement with a strongly nationalist political character. Cao Dai draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism. Its pantheon of saints includes such diverse figures as the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Sun Yat-sen… More