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."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
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.
In their talking points section, The National Organization for Marriage (or
NAMBLA NOM) trains their people that “the most effective single sentence” to oppose gay marriage is:
"Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,
they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
Then later in the section, they offer this pearl of irony:
“Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”
To summarize: gays don’t have the right to define marriage for the rest of us, that would take away our right to define marriage for them.
I dont know about you, but My marriage is Defined by My committment to My wife and Hers to Me. It has nothing at all to do with my neighbors commitment to His wife, or Hers to him. Neither can it be of any consequence who is married to who, or the make up of their personalities or sexual/gender identities.
I think it’s a curious perspective on marriage to define it by who else is getting married or by what authority sanctions it and not by your own personal commitment to your spouse. I guess I could be called short sighted but only because my concerns about marital status only project as far as my own.
I reject the idea that I fulfil some societal duty by who I choose to marry. I believe the state has a right to define the terms of some things, but not our personal relationships. I can hardly imagine something more fascist. It’s no less so when authoritarian parents dictate the relationships of their adult children or anyone tries to impose their standard of personal relationship on another.
Usually this type of fascism is supported by sanctimonious ideals. It’s proponents claim that marriage is sacred and eternal in it’s “traditional” deinition. Never mind that it’s definition ranges throughout hitorical and cultural contexts: from property agreements, plural contracts, family obligations and romantic courtly obligations; they’ve all made an appearance. Why do we not see NOM protesting Kim Kardashian’s sham wedding spectical? Other reality shows that mock marriage i.e. the bachelor. Are the drive through wedding chapels of no concern? How about the divorce rate of 50%? Afterall, in Mark 10:9 Jesus himself says: Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.
The official NOM talking point: “High rates of divorce are one more reason we should be strengthening marriage, not conducting radical social experiments on it.”
Seems to me that the only experiment is letting the state decide the make-up of a loving family.
One might ask how exactly they are achieving their goal, other than dictating who can get married. Free marriage counseling? Addressing proven factors that increase divorce rates, like economic hardship?? Where’s the campaign to tighten divorce laws, protests outside divorce courts?
Absurd Slippery slope arguments abound. My
favorite is the concern that if gay marriage is legalized then people who are against it will be labeled bigots and homophobes. This amounts to: If I take my boot off of your neck, you might stand up and call me oppressive. We can’t have that, now can we? Giving you rights might impair my right to make unsubstantiated claims about your character and your family.
Another unsubstantiated claim is the apparent negative affect same sex parenting will have on children. But study after study (while preliminary at this point) points to no difference in childhood development while no serious evidence of a negative effect has been discovered. And when you consider their silence on the myriad ways children are abused, neglected or otherwise fucked-up by straight parents all over the place… you really want to argue that simply being raised by 2 moms or 2 dads is the most unacceptable of all scenarios; The thing that you have to prevent at all costs?? It’s a assertion based on Chrsitian “intuition”, not science. They’d let a kid sit in an orphanage until adulthood before allowing two loving men to adopt.
Then there’s the red herring of under-population. As if the world might run out of people if some couples didn’t procreate. Even though the population just crossed 7 Billion and is exponentially increasing while we tackle every manner of resource crisis. Never mind that the rate of infertile and voluntarily non-reproductive couples dwarfs the rate of those of the same sex. And there is nothing stoping a SSC from reproducing via fertility treatments or surrogates, well, except more discriminatory legislation, that is.
All of this anxiety seems to stem from the unfounded belief that queer is contagious. All the worry about the kids and populations and society all seem to require the premise that a failure to suppress the behavior will allow it to spread like a disease until the whole world is gay and (ironically) the hetero minority is discriminated against.
The National Organization for Marriage should be called The National Organization Against Gay Marriage. These groups love to put a positive spin on what they are doing when in fact they achieve nothing positive. The word “for” has no business in the title. Their’s is a campaign against something, not for something. They aren’t out to strengthen marriages or protect children. If those were their ultimate goals they would see the mountain of work they could do that would directly achieve them. Instead, they’re spending countless hours and dollars focused on defining gay peoples’ relationships with nothing but worst case bible based speculation to justify it. Because lets face it, there are no fact based arguments to defend marriage discrimination. There’s only a conservative “feeling” that it’s wrong, supported by a selective reading of the Bible and a total willful misunderstanding of homosexuality.
…claims to have discovered Noah’s Ark! Carbon dating has shown that this enormous, ship-like structure found in Turkey is 4,800 years old, which correlates perfectly with what the Bible tells us. My friend told me about this, and so I looked it up for myself only to find some hilarious quotes from Todd Wood, a Biologist who “pursues his work in the frame of Creationism.”
Dr. Wood is clearly aware of Carbon Dating, which estimates an item’s age by the deterioration of carbon 14, you know? We all took a basic Earth Science class in 8th grade, so this shouldn’t be news to Dr. Wood. However, he stated that “If you accept a young chronology for the Earth … then radiocarbon dating has to be reinterpreted, because the method often yields dates much older than 6,000 years”.
Basically, Dr. Wood is saying that we need to change the nature of Carbon Dating to fit his belief. Apparently, he wasn’t able to be simply blindsided like the team who discovered the ship. He realized that reality didn’t sync up with his bullshit and is now trying to alter facts to be able to rest comfortably. It simply baffles me that people hold these beliefs so strongly.
Here’s the National Geographic article, by the way:
Having learned of the Eridu Genesis, I find the search for Noah’s Ark to be especially hilarious. The writers of the Biblical Genesis lifted one (or possibly both?) creation myths from Sumerian myth along with the Flood myth.
The Eridu account predates the Biblical account and the Biblical account was likely added during the Babylonian Exile which would have exposed the writers of Genesis to the necessary source material.
That the Bible’s flood story is so dull in comparison and has Jehovah playing both villain and hero is another source of amusement for me.
At any rate, Noah’s ark will remain as unfound as Atrahasis’s, though no one is looking for Atrahasis’s boat.
For the last 6 hours or so, I’ve been going through case law regarding the execution of individuals deemed “mentally retarded” (yes, that’s the legal term in our judicial system) up until the present state of the death penalty. It is, of course, necessary to visit Atkins v. Virginia (2002), among other famous cases, which ruled the execution of mentally retarded persons is unconstitutional, as it violates the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment. Yes, 2002. What’s really disappointing is the backlash that continues to challenge this new precedent up until this day.
I tend to be a rather optimistic person, perhaps to a degree many people find annoying, and I rarely grieve for humanity over the belief that human-beings, on the whole, are not good. On the contrary, I believe that human-beings are inherently good creatures but reading the present day arguments for vast campaigns which advocate that we regress our death penalty standards such that they are inclusive of mentally retarded defendants, individuals who are naturally vulnerable and should be actively protected, makes it difficult to not question that belief. Perhaps instead of going off on a long rant, I should do something characteristically common of Tumblr users and sum up my feelings on the matter with an appropriate gif:
Additionally, perhaps it wouldn’t surprise you to know that the vast majority of the forerunners in the camp advocating the inclusion of mentally retarded persons as candidates eligible for the death penalty are self-described devout Christians. I don’t think biblical Jesus would be very proud of you.
Fuck you, Scalia.
I have to think the fact that Christianity is founded on an execution feeds this Christian obsession with the death penalty. If its good enough for their savior, it must be good enough for everyone else, even the menatlly disabled.
Summary: The Israelites begin mingling with the Moabite women and worshipping their gods. God commands that all of the leaders be killed. As this is being decreed, an Israelite man and a Midianite woman are seen walking into a tent together. Phinehas kills them both in one spear thrust. God sets up an everlasting priesthood for Phinehas and his descendants.
25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
25:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
25:4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
25:5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
Numbers 25 tells us that while the Israelites were encamped at Shittim, some of the Israelite men were enticed into having sex with Moabite women and into worshipping their god, Baal. This made God fiercely angry, and he commanded Moses to kill the leaders of the people and to expose them publicly.
25:6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
25:7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
25:8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
25:9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
25:10 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
25:11 Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
25:12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
25:13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
In one of the worse “wrong place at the wrong time,” situations ever, an Israelite man named Zimri is walking a Midianite woman back to his tent. Apparently excited to score, he is completely unaware that the entire “weeping” nation is watching him, including Moses.
Phinehas, a man related to Aaron, takes it upon himself to destroy the promiscuous couple. He grabs his spear and runs after them into their tent, thrusting his spear through Zimri’s back and into the Midianite woman in one lunge, killing them both. Only when Phinehas does this action does God’s plague stop that had already killed 24,000 people. God is so impressed with Phinehas’ homicides that he not only stops the plague, but also establishes a lasting priesthood in his lineage (Psalm 106:30-31).
25:14 Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.
25:15 And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian.
25:16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
25:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
25:18 For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor’s sake.
The chapter ends with God telling Moses to destroy the Midianites as they have “vexed” the Israelites “with their wives.”
Final Thoughts on Chapter 25:
I may be missing something here, but the fact that it was the Moabite women and only one Midianite girl who were having sex with male Israelites makes it seem unfair that God commanded that Moses attack the Midianites.
Speaking of Midianites, Moses’s wife Zipporah is actually a Midianite. Here we see another example of God allowing Moses to get away with something, but not the people.
It’s a little scary to read passages like these, knowing they can be exactly the kind of kindling for feeding the flames of extremists. Reading a passage where God is rewarding killing others for not following his laws helps them cross over from simply being pious into being a murderous extremist.
Finally, why would God command that the leaders be put to death, but before that could be accomplished release a plague on the people? 24,000 people died before the personal God of “love” “mercy” and “compassion” stopped the plague and only because of the slaying of other people.