Archive for the ‘Current Events’ category

Apocalyptic Hypocrisy

05/21/2011

Today, May 21st, 2011, was supposed to be the beginning of the end according to Harold Camping and his followers. Obviously, they’re wrong, and we all know this, so I’m not going to waste time talking about that. No, what I want to discuss has to do with how Harold Camping is in, what Christians should consider, good company; like Jesus, Paul, John, Matthew, Mark, and the author of Revelation. There are two specific arguments I want to make: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).

Jesus tells his disciples: “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (10:23). Jesus, when speaking to the Sanhedrin during his trial, says, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:16; cf. Matthew 26:64).

The apostle Paul was the first New Testament author to reassure his believers that “the day of the Lord” will still take place any day, suddenly and without warning, like “thief in the night” even though more time has passed than what previously believed and even though some had died waiting (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Paul also expected that some of the people he was writing to would be alive to witness the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), including himself. Paul also writes:

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use things of the word, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Romans 13:11)

(In the genuine letters of Paul, it’s clear he expected the end of the world to be at hand. This is one of the reasons why the Pastoral letters are believed by scholars to be psuedopigraphy (i.e., 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).)

Elsewhere, we find the author of 1 John saying he knows it’s the “last hour.” He even expects to be alive when “the Holy One” comes (2:18,28). Still later we have the author of the book of Revelation repeatedly saying that the “time is near” or that Jesus will be coming “soon” (1:1; 3:11, 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20).

You might be thinking, “okay, fine, they were wrong too, but so what?” What about the mother that, terrified of the impending apocalypse, slit the throat and wrists of her and her daughter? What of the man who hung himself in a church today? What about the families that have given everything they have to Camping? And remember, these beliefs would have the same consequence 2000 years ago, so don’t try to fool yourself into thinking there wouldn’t have been any believers then who wouldn’t have done anything like we saw some believers do today.

Like I said: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).

Modern Day Witch-Hunt in Polk County, Florida

05/08/2011

Let’s imagine for a moment you have a daughter, Bethany, in high school with an absolutely clean academic and disciplinary records. One night, over dinner, Bethany reveals to you that her teacher, Mr. Duff, has been giving A’s to students who don’t deserve them and provides you with copies of the work in question as proof. First thing the next morning, you speak with the principal, Ms. Bolland, to see that this matter is dealt with. Giving better grades to students that don’t deserve them is not only a disservice to the student who received the better grade, since they’re ultimately unprepared for the next year, it is a disservice to the tax payers, because they are paying for a dishonest and poor educator, and to every other student in the school, since they earned their good grades the right way.

Later that week, you receive a call from Ms. Bolland with some upsetting news: Bethany has received detention. According to Mr. Duff, Samantha, one of Bethany’s peers, accused Bethany of smoking a cigarette behind the school during lunch. Bethany did no such thing. Mr. Duff is punishing her even though no one actually saw this and even though Samantha has a somewhat of a well-known grudge against your daughter and an ulterior motive in making these allegations. The following day, Ms. Bolland calls you again but this time with some news that is significantly more frustrating: Bethany is being punished with a week of in-school suspension. The allegations against your daughter have no evidence aside from hearsay. It’s clear Bethany is innocent of the things she’s been accused of. Mr. Duff is furious with your daughter for the trouble he sees Bethany as being the cause of (when the blame rests squarely on his shoulders for forging grades in the first place) and has no problem abusing his authority in getting some revenge.

This situation is analogous to the one EllenBeth Wachs, Lakeland’s most noteworthy atheist, finds herself in. She’s suing the city of Lakeland for their exclusively Christian “pre-meeting” prayers as well as potentially pursuing the same against the Polk County School Board for the same reason. Ms. Wachs has also drawn attention to Sheriff Grady Judd for his act of donating county sports equipment to eight Christian churches. This sports equipment had been refurbished with money from a county credit card, coordinated by Polk County deputies who were working on the taxpayer dime, as well as cost taxpayers in less obvious ways like the cost of fuel spent transporting said equipment and the inmates who were going to install the equipment, and etc.

EllenBeth Wachs has angered many local officials and they’re taking whatever opportunity they can to hit back at her by arresting her on trumped up charges and allegations. For a brief rundown of what Ms. Wachs is facing, read here, here, and here.

The Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan…

03/11/2011

Dead Bodies Wash Up On Japanese Shore

I propose we perform an experiment with Japan. Cease the clean-up. Cease the relief efforts. Cease trying to cool down the nuclear reactors that threaten to turn the entire island of Japan into a veritable Chernobyl.

Everyone…everywhere…pray.

From 8am – 9am we'll pray to Jesus. If Japan returns to the state it was in before this disaster, we'll have evidence for 1) prayer and 2) Christianity. From 9am – 10 am we'll pray to Allah. If Japan returns to the state it was in before this disaster, we'll have evidence for 1) prayer and 2) Islam. And etc… until we run the entire gamut of theism and find (A) the one, true religion or (B) that no religion is true.

Because then the real fun begins. If we discover the one, true religion, we can direct our collective outrage at the appropriate deity. We can start asking tough questions. "Why did you let this happen? What's the point of all the suffering? Because Japan didn't worship you? Because parts of the US tolerates homosexuality? Because there are atheists? Because you missed performing genocide so much but decided another global flood was excessive?"

Or, we'll all have conclusive evidence that either no god exists or that if one does, he doesn't give a shit and no matter how much you pray, he's not listening, at least not with the intent of helping. We can all finally move on from the bullshit. We can stop offering up empty words and fooling ourselves that we've actually contributed to feeding, clothing, and sheltering those that have lost anything and everything.

But of course I offer this up in jest. Past experience shows us nothing will get done unless we do it ourselves. And deep down we all know that.

“I get letters constantly from people saying, “Oh, God will look after it.” But He never has in the past, I don’t know why they think He will in the future.”
– Bertrand Russell

No, Sheriff, You Don’t Get To Aid Your Religion With Tax-Payer Property

12/29/2010

This is a story from my neck of the woods. Sheriff Grady Judd, who’s proven himself to be somewhat of a publicity whore, has, in an attempt to make jail less “fun” for the inmates and less “appealing” to potential inmates, violated both the United States and Florida Constitution by donating basketball equipment from Polk county jails to eight local churches (as of writing this, only one church has received the equipment; the other seven have been chosen but have yet to receive said equipment). Apparently, no one who works in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is familiar with the very law they’re tasked with enforcing. According to Article 1, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution, “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” Luckily, Atheists of Florida, a network of activists in support of church/state separation, have written a letter to the Sheriff’s Office reminding them of the law. Somehow, I doubt the law is going to stop Sheriff Grady Judd from believing he can do this…

As can be expected, the response from many towards the Atheists of Florida has been almost entirely idiotic. The usual cries of “these atheists need to mind their own business” and “I’m so sick of atheists complaining about blah blah blah” abound. Being the curious person I am, I have a couple of questions to those who are upset with the Atheists of Florida for reminding the Sheriff that he and his office are not exempt from obeying the law. What would you be saying if the recipients of our tax-payer funded sporting equipment went to eight non-Christian places of worship, for example a mosque, synagogue, or temple (Buddhist or Hindu), and et cetera? What would you be saying if the tax-payer funded sporting equipment went to one of any of them? What about to an atheist group? If your answer was that you wouldn’t like it, why, then, the double-standard? If your answer was that you had no problem with it, don’t you think it wrong of Sheriff Grady Judd to donate the equipment to only Christian churches? Don’t you think a synagogue or mosque would appreciate the sporting equipment also?

RE: “Miracle” in Colombia Crash

08/16/2010

“Reading about this plane crash. Yes it was a miracle from God. But is not it strange. Some peoples see miracles right before their own eyes, And still don’t believe. They would rather give the credit to somebody else are something else instead of God! But listen to this. You didn’t do it, somebody else didn’t do it, something else didn’t do it. So evidence of the miracle on the plane points to God. God did it! And it does not matter what you say. What you think. Or what you believe. God still did it. The evidence of the peoples living who was on the plane. Proves that!” – Yahoo! User “Bible Teacher” (Unedited comment from the article)

This is a miracle? An elderly woman is dead and this is a miracle? A woman who probably had a husband, children, and grand-children is dead and this is a miracle?

Where was god before the plane crash? I’d be in agreement this was a miracle if the plane was about to crash and suddenly hovered a foot off the ground so all could safely get off alive.

If god were to play a game of ten-pin (that’s bowling), you would naturally expect god to obtain a perfect score of 300. Anything other than 300, unless it was intentional, would be impossible. There were a total of 131 lives on board this Boeing 737. If this truly were a miracle, all 131 lives on board should have survived but unfortunately that’s not what happened. We don’t see a perfect score, which would in this particular case be a 131. We see a 130. The fact is this was not a game of ten-pin. This was not a game period. Was god unable to muster the strength, or whatever it is god uses to go about his business, to save one extra life? Doesn’t god know everything? Even if god didn’t have the strength, or whatever it is god uses to go about his business, god, with his supposed omniscience, should have been able to devise a plan in which everyone survived.

Hypothetical’s aside, this is still no miracle. According to this article, 95% of all people involved in a plane crash survived. When you do the math, you’ll notice that 99% of those on board survived. Is 4% really a miracle? Even if 100% survived, it doesn’t mean it was some miracle. It’s happened before. Miracles are supposed to be miraculous because they never happen. What kind of miracle happens several times?

“Ground-Zero” Mosque

08/14/2010

President Barack Obama recently made a statement concerning the infamous “Ground-Zero” mosque and many are in outrage over his “support” to those who wish to build it.  My question is why?  What’s so offensive about supporting the Constitution and, more specifically, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment?

First off, the “Ground-zero” mosque is not at “Ground-zero.” It’s actually a couple of blocks away. What’s being built there isn’t even a mosque. What’s being built there is a community center which is 13 stories in height and of those 13 stories the top 2 are designated as a Muslim prayer space.

There are lots of people claiming this to be a very patronizing and insensitive thing to do. I don’t buy it.  I have yet to see any credible evidence which suggests the community center is being built for reasons that can be considered malicious. Either way, feelings are ultimately irrelevant. You can get as upset as you want to get. It won’t change the Constitution. This public display of anger is just another attempt to deny these Muslims their rights. Those who are in opposition to the community center know they can’t stop it because the Constitution protects the right to freely exercise religion. They’re playing their little violins and sad music to try and convince the Muslims to deny themselves of their own rights as Americans. They’re trying to get the Muslim community to censor themselves.

Also, Muslim lives were lost on the morning of September the 11th.  Islam is a religion with approximately a billion adherents and the atrocities of that day were caused by a minority view within Islam so I find it worth emphasizing that a vast majority of Muslims are not our enemies and it is unethical to treat them as such by holding them responsible for the crimes of others.  That is not to say that Islam has done enough to denounce and stifle the extremism because in my opinion, it hasn’t.

A disgust of Islam, the taken life of a loved-one, and hurt feelings do not give anyone precedence to deny others, who had no hand in September the 11th, their rights, which is in this case, the right to freedom of religion as laid out in the First Amendment of the Constitution.  We constantly hear complaints from gun advocates concerning attacks on their Second Amendment rights.  These people obviously know how it feels to have their rights in danger.  This is analogous to just about every other civil rights issue: slavery, suffrage of blacks and women, segregation, homosexual discrimination, and atheist discrimination.  Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you have the right to take away others’ rights.