Monday, September 10, 2012

Christians and the Death Penalty - The New Testament reaffirms the Old.

   I recently wrote how Christian scriptures support the death penalty, but my reasoning came from the Old Testament. While that really should not matter, many Christians claim it does...something about how God was wrathful then, but things are better now. Why? 'Cause Jesus, that's why! So are things really better now? No. Why? 'Cause Jesus, that's why!

   I've seen this idea discussed many times before (so here I am, being slow in the head again), but most recently I saw it in a discussion about how Christianity actually glorifies torture.
[Stephen] Pinker discusses graphically what the Christian idea of the crucifixion really means and invites us to consider how sincere belief in this idea would inform a person's worldview:

"In allowing the crucifixion to take place, God did the world an incalculable favor. Though infinitely powerful, compassionate, and wise, he could think of no other way to reprieve humanity from punishment for its sins (in particular, for the sin of being descended from a couple who had disobeyed him) then to allow an innocent man (his son no less) to be impaled through the limbs and slowly suffocate in agony. By acknowledging that this sadistic murder was a gift of divine mercy, people could earn eternal life. And if they failed to see the logic in all this, their flesh would be seared by fire for all eternity." [p.14]

In the early medieval eras, Christians wrote martyrologies that described the torture and execution of saints with "pornographic relish" [p.14]. For example, Pinker quotes a Christian poet named Prudentius who wrote of a believer watching her son be roasted alive: "[She] showed no signs of grief, rejoicing rather each time the pan hissing hot above the olive wood roasted and scorched her child." [p.15] Other martyrologies praised saints who were variously crucified, impaled, sawn in half, crushed, stoned, beheaded, disemboweled, or broken on the wheel (in which a person was tied to a wagon wheel, their arms and legs smashed with hammers, and then left to slowly die of internal hemorrhage).
   The part in bold font is the most important. Here we have the idea that the best way (it must be the best, because the idea came from on high) to deal with crime (sin) is to execute a person, and someone who is said to not even be guilty of a crime, no less! Now, does this mean that it is then OK to kill someone who is guilty of a crime? I must admit that the logic does not clearly follow, but there isn't anything here to counter the logic of the Old Testament. Fortunately, we have grown somewhat out of that horrible moral state. But, as I said before (in the update), "The problem that religion causes is that it shuts down the debate." Or at least it tries and it certainly stagnates progress.

   I also cannot help but notice that the excuses for why abortion is wrong is because that is "innocent" life. Hmmmm... innocent like Jesus? But it was OK for Jesus to die! The response to that is bound to be that the crime Jesus died for is paid in full, so innocent life after Jesus does not need be put to death.

I love Chris Kluwe, and not just because I am a Vikings fan!

   I just learned Saturday that the punter for the Minnesota Vikings is fucking awesome!

   Background story: Brendon Ayanbadejo, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage. A Maryland state delegate, Emmett C. Burns Jr, wrote to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to "inhibit such expressions from your employee."

   Kluwe wrote a very passionate response to Mr. Burns (who looks nothing like that Mr. Burns), including language that I might use (highlighted below)!
Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland's state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should "inhibit such expressions from your employees," more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

2. "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who's "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism").

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you'll start thinking about penis? "Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!" Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.

Chris Kluwe

P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

   Kluwe was also on the Ed Show Friday night:

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Ken Ham: A clock that's correct twice a day is better than a clock that is never correct!

(via Pharyngula)

   Ken Ham has some of the dumbest arguments, I often don't know whether to laugh or cry. This week, the argument is essentially because science has changed, and the Bible hasn't, the Bible is more reliable.
An evolutionist could look at this chart and say, "See, scientists are continually studying the data and refining their answers, so we now have the age of the earth and dinosaurs narrowed down." We agree that scientists should continually refine their views as new information becomes available, but that is precisely the problem when it comes to this topic. Evolutionary scientists have changed "common knowledge" multiple times over the past century, yet the Bible has not changed. It still clearly teaches that the universe, earth, and dinosaurs were made during a six-day period about 4,000 years before Christ.
PZ Myers has a more thorough breakdown that I recommend reading, but this got me thinking about how even a broken clock is correct twice a day (assuming we are using 12-hour time). What is often not pointed out is how a working clock may never be correct! Think about it — if I have a clock that keeps perfect* time, but it is a minute off from the actual time, it will always be off by a minute. So which clock would you rather have? The one that's correct twice a day or the one that's never correct?

   Of course, my analogy is flawed. The Bible is just flat out wrong on the issue of the age of the earth (it's not and is never correct) and science works at getting closer to the correct answer. Yet, the larger point I am trying to make is that I'm not going to go with a source just because it may happen to be right once in a while nor because it is consistent/unchanging. If it is a choice between a source that randomly guesses and a source that does actual investigative work to influence its guesses, I'm going with the source that investigates even if the former is correct more often than the later.

* Which isn't really a thing...time is relative. But maybe one could say "perfect relative to the location"? All else I'll say is I didn't want to dive into the philosophy of time on this post.

Friday, September 7, 2012

If the news isn't depressing enough, stay for the comments!!!

   Depressing news: arctic sea ice levels are drastically low. It looks like they are even lower than 2007 levels, which was a hot year. Damn global warming! Yet, how do you fix a problem when so many deny it even exists or, even if they do, have no interest in fixing the problem? Just take a look at some of the "Editor's Picks" for comments:

150. onside

The Earth will sort itself out - whether we're here or not. If we've created the situation, then we may pay for it, the earth however, will live on. There have been major disasters in the past from meteorites and volcanic activity - and eventually it cleans itself up. We're just tourists.
Factually correct, but oh so...uncaring. For whatever reason, I kinda like the human species, and I wouldn't mind it living on this planet for a while longer. And if not the humans, then there are all the other animals who I'd hate have suffer because of humankind's misdeeds. On that note...
147. Howesyourview

...All these people trying to protect polar bears and so on. Have you heard of evolution? Why should we dictate what lives and what dies
Ummm...but we already are dictating this based on the damage we have done to the climate. But based on things said earlier in the comment, which I did not include, it would seem this person does not think human has caused global warming.

58. Frank


The loss of arctic (and antarctic ice) is obviously down to changes in solar activity. The sun is entering a more active cycle and is getting hotter, therefore......
51. Mrs Vee

....And in other breaking news the Pope is still a Catholic and water is wet.

Ice has been coming and going, temperatures have gone up and down and climate has been changing for as long as this planet has been here.

That's what climate does; if the climate hadn't changed the human race would never have existed.
Some of the frequent excuses used by human-made global warming deniers is that there are all these natural cycles that are causing the warming. It is true that natural cycles do exist, but numerous scientists have said those cycles don't account for such large changes in temperatures.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What did you expect other than a line in the sand?

   There have been some interesting reactions to Atheism+. There are many that seem to be focused around Richard Carrier using "with us or against us" language. I have essentially two issues with this. First, it is picking on what one person who is supportive of Atheism+ said and applies it to all. Second, I'm not sure what anyone was really expecting. I think part of the problem is a bit of confusion as to how Atheism+ has come to be. Mike Gillas on the August 26, 2012 episode of Ask an Atheist said the following:
Rather than saying "We're rolling out this thing. This is great for our movement, this is great, this is going to expand us, this is going to move us into areas we haven't been before," it more feels like this line in the sand has been drawn and it's "Which side are you on? Are you going to fight it? Are you going to be a knee-jerk fighter of this?"