Archive | September 2015

Being Gay Causes ‘Logistical Issues’ for CBHS

I woke up this morning to a story of human rights violation, pretty much like every morning. But this morning was different, this morning the story was out of my hometown. Out of the school system of which I went to college. Out of the High School that my little brother went to as a football phenomenon. Out of Christian Brothers High School.

Lance Anderson Second Class Citizen

Lance Anderson Second Class Citizen

Lance Sanderson, a senior at CBHS in Memphis, Tennessee is being denied his request to bring a male student from another school to his Senior Homecoming Dance. Lance, a school photographer and openly gay student since his freshman year, approached his school two months ago to work on arranging his request.

On the 24th, CBHS released their Homecoming policy on their website stating the following:

CBHS students may attend the dance by themselves, with other CBHS students, or with a girl from another school. For logistical reasons, boys from other schools may not attend.

Logistical reasons? Wait, other girls can attend with no logistical problems even though this is an all boys school? A campus designed specifically with all male attendance in mind? I’m calling bullshit CBHS. This is a Catholic anti-homosexual move. How can I say that? Well, CBHS PUT OUT A STATEMENT to explain why Lance was being denied his date saying, in part:

They also had the task of creating a dance policy where ALL CBHS students could be included. It had to follow current school policies, Catholic teachings, and Lasallian principles (of which inclusivity is one). This was not an easy task. The Homecoming Dance was changed to a format similar to our courtyard dances. No longer is it a date dance. The school has never let boys from other schools attend these dances as the mixing of boys from other schools in such an open atmosphere can cause problems.

It’s now no longer a date dance? So how are girls from other schools allowed to attend? See what I mean? This isn’t about where the ‘date’ is from, its about the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality. My REAL question to these homophobic clowns is:

Would you allow Lance to ‘officially’ bring another CBHS student as his date?

If the answer to this is yes, then CBHS may be honoring their statement about ” Developing a more pro-active outreach to gay students was one of them.”, I hope that’s the case.

However, this appears to be a bit of a pipe dream. As with many Christian organizations in the past we can already see the attempts to ‘turn’ or ‘cure’ the rabid homosexuals.

…formed a committee which included four staff members (three of whom have a gay sibling or son). Their task was to develop a program of education and outreach which will gradually be implemented in the school, starting with the seniors. The outreach would include more intense training of faculty members to aid in their counseling of gay students.

Not only is this hilarious (we have four people in a committee and three of the know a gay person) but it speaks volumes to their true intentions. The Catholic church openly condemns homosexuality, so the program of education and outreach they speak of inherently must be intended for the gay/trans students. Its good to see that the school will be intensely training their faculty members to aid in their counseling, right?

Sanderson says when he asked if he could take a boy to a dance, this is what administrators at Christian Brothers told him: “I was given several examples of statistics like they said gay couples have higher divorce rates, and that they’re violent; just different things that didn’t make sense, and I’ve come to find aren’t true.”

Sound’s exactly like the kind of double talk that the church is famous for.

Lance has written a petition at Change.Org which at the time of this writing has garnered almost 20,000 supporters. Why don’t you pop on over there and SIGN this?

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Matt Dillahunty and JT Eberhard Take It To the Table

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At the highly publicized Apostacon event in Texas this month there will be lots of talks, presentations, get togethers and debates. But, one of those debates is going to be IN-FRICKING-SANE.

Matt Dillahunty will be squaring up with JT Eberhard in a mano y mano, no holds barred debate about whether Country Music Sucks. This could be the most important debate of our time! So much so the Matt has already tossed down the gauntlet….

How will JT respond? WWJTD?!?!?

Stay tuned to find out. Or better yet, head over to the Apostacon Event Page and register if you are going to be in the DFW area Sept. 18th – 20th.

We Aren’t Scared of a Boy and His Clock

I’m almost certain you will have heard by now about the Muslim boy in Texas that was handcuffed and arrested (later to be released without charges) for building a clock and taking it to school. Officials thought the clock looked ‘suspicious’.

Ahmed and his terror clock

Ahmed and his terror clock

The internet went insane. ‘This is a child!’ ‘How could they do this to a kid?’ and ‘That kid should have known better’ are some of the comments flying around. But after a little time, I think I’ve realized what these people are really scared of, religion. Now, hang on. Before you assume this is me talking about how religions kill people, take a second to read.

The police that arrested this kid didn’t do it because he had a clock. Everyone had a clock. They did it because he is Muslim and people are AFRAID of Muslims right now. Let me be clear. People aren’t scared of Lebanese, they aren’t scared of Iranians, and they aren’t scared of Iraqis. People are worried about what ISIS will do. People are scared of what Christians might do. People are scared of religion, and they arent willing to admit thats the root. If this kid was Raul Jacobs of Austin TX, he would have just been ‘that brown kid over at the highschool’. But, when you add in the religious part, people become afraid of what else this person might be.

When god is with you, who could be against you?

When god is with you, who could be against you?

If we are to be honest about the fears mentioned above, we find that they are fears based around what we all believe religion is capable of making people do. We day in and day out see people doing horrible things in the name of their god(s). As Sam Harris has put it ‘religion allows people to believe by the millions what only a lunatic would believe alone’, and I think we all recognize that. Even the religious among us realize what a dangerous things such as blind faith and religiously motivated ‘reasoning’ can accomplish. We have seen over the last several hundred if not thousands of years how religion poisons peoples reasoning, rationality and ability to tell reality from fiction. The flawed thinking created in a religious mind doesn’t always stop there. That blurred line of ‘nature’ and ‘supernature’ (which Im still waiting on a real definition for) makes daily life harder for some because they cant tell on their own whats real and whats just a myth or allegory from their ‘holy book’.

An idea for the secular minded.

In short, what these cops and faculty members have said is not ‘we don’t trust Muslims because they are inherently bad people’, but that ‘we are terrified of what your belief in imaginary friends might make you capable of doing that you would otherwise see as irrational or immoral’. I feel it’s time we were honest about that fear. I’m not afraid to stand up and shout “Your belief in fantasy and fairy tales makes me fear for your sanity and rationality”. Running around telling people you have conversations with a deity that no one else can hear, they can’t validate and that people should listen to your ‘revelations’ is not the behavior of a sane and rational individual, and I think its time we were all brave enough to point that out, and stand up for reality based thinking.

I’m sure there was a healthy dose of the southern intolerance of religions other than Christianity, but that’s nothing news worthy.

#IStandWithAhmed

#IStandWithAhmed

Aron Ra – 2015 Gateway to Reason

Aron Ra gave one of his standard talks on how reality refutes religions, and creationists are science deniers talks this year at Gateway to Reason in St. Louis. All in all, its not his most informative speech, and seems to be one pandered to the ‘converted’. Aron does have a tendency to be condescending, and I agree that from his point of view he should be. He deals with people who are directly immoral, unethical, and are intellectually dishonest.

This one may not be a speech for everyone, but if you missed it:

But if you dont watch it, I dont want you to miss what I thought was the quote of the night.

Now remember, we are talking about a genie who can supposedly make everything Humans can’t make, but he can’t make anything Humans CAN make… So he need’s us to build his Ark and his Tabernacle.

For those of you new to Aron Ra, here is his basic bio:

AronRa is an atheist activist and vlogger. He is also an ardent evolutionist and vocal critic of creationism. AronRa is also the Texas State Director of American Atheists.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/AronRa

I’m back from vacation, and Ken Ham is back to being ridiculous

You may want to read this article first.

It’s no secret that every day more and more people are seeing creationist myths for what they are. The prevalence of science, along with access to the Internet, has been the fatal blow to most monotheistic religions. Every day they are losing hold because science, education, and reason are showing people you don’t need the myths. The truths are FAR more fascinating, and are real to boot!

Yet, even in this age of technological enlightenment, there are those who wish you would keep bronze aged ideas in place of those identified by modern knowledge. Wish you would side with an ideology over the evidence presented. Wish you would put away the tools of skepticism and rationality in lieu of faith in things unseen, and claims unsupported. Ken Ham is one such man, and he has recently gone public bashing Bill Ney’s new book: Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World. Full disclosure, I haven’t read it, but I ordered it today.

Regardless of the books contents, I wanted to pay some rebuttal service to the Christian Post‘s article containing Ham’s refutation of Bill Ney.

“The more you read what Bill Nye is saying, the more you should realize he is on a mission to brainwash generations of kids in the religion of naturalism — which in reality is atheism,” Ham says in his Answers in Genesis blog.

This is hilariously ironic. At least that’s what I thought at first. Then I realized this comment is opening us up to the rational that Ken functions under. He actually believes that since he dresses his fairy tales up as science, that others who are doing real science are doing the same thing. And when you think about it, he would HAVE to think that right? Else cop to being a peddler of pseudo-scientific woo. Just as a quick aside, Ken, you don’t have to be an atheist to believe in naturalism. There are many deists that feel god ‘turned it on and left’ so to speak, creating a universe(s) that are completely naturalistic. Read a book.

“Bill Nye has previously made alarming claims about climate change and the coming disastrous effects of it, and likely this book will perpetuate those alarmist ideas,” he adds.

XKCD.Com put it best.

Randall Munroe at XKCD.Com put it best.

Truly, the greatest power that science brings to the table is its ability to predict events. The image above is a comic that plays on the projections made LONG before any tests were done to find the ‘cosmic microwave background radiation’. To fully understand it, we would all need to sign up for at least a dozen night classes. But the gist is pretty simple. Ralph Alpherin 1948 in connection with his research on Big Bang Nucleosynthesis predicted that If the big bang happened, there would have been light. That light would have traveled. The traveling light would have attenuated over distance, becoming microwaves. These microwaves should be detectable. In 2006 the WMAP probe was launched. Its observations over the next 9 years confirmed Alpherin’s theory to a degree unmatched by almost any other prediction in science. Its this kind of information gathering and testing that Ken Ham would prefer you to toss in the trash in favor of his 2000 year old book that vaguely claims the earth is between 4-6 thousand years old.

I gave an astronomy example, but the evidence provided by climate scientists and experts around the world is no less powerful. Ken’s coy little bet hedging he does with the ‘we have a different view on climate change, but believe earth is charged to Christians as a responsibility from god’ was cute. I feel that it begs the question of who was in charge of it the first 4,542,998,000 years but then I remember he ignores the bulk of modern scientific knowledge, so I’m guessing it would be a short answer.

“The Science Guy,” as Nye is [lovingly] known from his popular children’s science program, sent a copy of his previous book, Undeniable, as a Christmas present to Ham, inviting the Creationist to join “the world of reason.” Ham responded by sending back a copy of Inside the Nye Ham Debate released by AiG, and urged Nye to to join “the world of salvation.”

This should tell you all you need to know about what is important to each of these men. One values evidence, science, personal responsibility and the discovery of truth. The other is Ken Ham.

Nye and Ham from their 2014 'debate'. Where Ham admitted that 'nothing' could change his faith. Thats just good science right there.

Nye and Ham from their 2014 ‘debate’. Where Ham admitted that ‘nothing’ could change his faith. Thats just good science right there.

In case you missed the debate, or would like to see an evolutionary biologist dismantle a pseudo-scientist, click here.

Vacation

Hey everyone, Thanks for checking in, but I am in Memphis for my 20th class reunion this week. I will be back next week and should have plenty of material popping up. In the meantime I will try to get a few posts in on the facebook page. I even plan to be at a church service on Sunday, so stay tuned for the updates from that! Again, thanks for coming by.

A (long) Conversation With a Christian

A while back I had an interesting argy-bargy with a long estranged family member. I saw this:

So I said:

So I said: “Let’s have a contest, I’ll grab a shovel and you let me know when faith gets your mountain moved”

He meant metaphorical mountains of course, and I could just as easily have meant a metaphorical shovel. The meaning of the statement in reality would have been the same. It’s what Daniel Dennett calls ‘Deepities’. Things that make us feel good because they are cleverly put and key in on our general insecurities and common experiences as human beings. They just don’t mean much though. Depak Chopra is famous for taking a lot without saying much, with much of the same fluffy rhetoric.

I expected the little banter that came next about ‘up days’ and ‘down days’, ultimately conceding the point with a “…yeah, faith/trust/positive vibe/good juju, all that is great for keeping your mind in a place to be able to focus and work through what you need to. Completely agree.” And I thought that to be the end of it.

It wasn’t. Not by far.

His wife decided to join in with a brand of Christian zeal that I have rarely experienced, and as such, I decided I would bring it to my readers. I frequently get comments and emails from people saying “why do you write about those obscure fringe people like they are mainstream?” “They are the rare ones.”  “They aren’t even in your world.” Etc. Etc. Well for those of you who think that, I give you Sara, who is by the way, a registered voter (let that sink in after the article).

Hi, Michael. I wanted to know what happened to you to make you so negative?”

This is not the first time she has asked me that. We made brief contact when Facebook became a thing, and then silence. Regardless, I dont feel like I have a negative attitude for the sake of being negative. I feel like I point out negative things people are doing, and I often want to draw attention to it so we can all, as a society work out solutions to the issues. Evidence based solutions. and I basically told her so.

I don’t believe you.

I can also do whatever I want.

Wait, did she really ask me a question, then when given the answer called me a liar? What kind of passive aggressive bullshit is that? But Ive found this to be a common tactic with vehement religious people, fundamentalists and evangelicals mostly. There’s almost always a certain kind of argumentation that they take when addressing an atheist or non-believer. It usually starts with disbelief, as if they cant think of anything more absurd than not believing the same thing they themselves at one point didn’t believe. Then it turns to ‘what happened to you?’. From there you get a variation of ‘your church wasnt the real…’, well, you know what, just read on, you’ll see a fantastic example of how they agrue, back up their beliefs and ignore every word you say to them while almost doing a fingers-in-the-ears ‘nah nah jesus jesus jesus’ impression…..

creationist

I feel you just go by feelings and what you see. The reason you feel faith is a cop out is because people are not perfect and you have never had the real truth ,because the devil and his kingdom is here to try to keep truth from you. 1st of all I would start with you need Acts 2:38 like it says. You need to repent of you sins, get baptized in the name Jesus Christ for remission of your sins (not in name of father, son, holy ghost) have to have Jesus name to have his blood take away sins, and receive the baptizm of the Holy Ghost by speaking in tongues as the spirit gives utterance. Most church do not preach truth. If you research church history, which I have, a lot, you will see the Catholic church killed people for trying to get truth to people. Catholic church before America became America was the religion everyone had to go by, that’s why people came to America to get away from the Catholic church. Therefore all the other religions came out of the Catholic church. The real church which Jesus Christ started of the day of pentecost is God’s real church.

Da Fuq?

Da Fuq?

I took the bait… First, the reason I think faith is a cop out is because it is. Faith is the answer people give when they don’t have a good reason for believing something. If one has a good reason for believing something, one would give that reason. That’s how it works in EVERY other aspect of people’s lives; it’s only in this arena of thought that this kind of thing is acceptable. I realize that people are not perfect. I understand that people need something to trust in, etc. However, I feel that trust in things unseen as the bible says it, is ridiculous and a dangerous way to determine truth in reality. If you can just have faith or arbitrary belief in something, then what methodology do you use to determine the truth of the claims? There are multiple theologies, not all of which are compatible and several of which are contradictory and cannot exist as mutual truths. What methodology do you use to tell ones truth claims from the other if they are only base in faith? They can’t all be right, but they could all be wrong.

The whole ‘you need Jesus’ thing is amazingly condescending and pompous. Enough said.

“Most churches do not preach truth” is the ‘no true Scotsman fallacy’ and is very common among believers of most religions. ‘THAT guy isn’t a REAL Christian” is another version I hear a lot. My question remains the same, ‘How do you know?’

Glossolalia: a method of communication whereby a believer speaks in audible, yet indiscernible, vocal utterances requiring an independent translator and having no method of verification.

Glossolalia: a method of communication whereby a believer speaks in audible, yet indiscernible, vocal utterances requiring an independent translator and having no method of verification.

As for the speaking in tongues part, that has been shown for what it is many times over, bunk, group think, people not wanting to be left out of their social circle, fear, delusion, etc.  Note that this is not just a blog opinion, its peer reviewed research carried out over many years by highly qualified open-minded linguists. Speaking-in-tongues is nothing but empty babbling by devoted believers who have deluded themselves into thinking it to be a sign of the Holy Spirit. I also know practitioners myself who at one time truly did believe in the reality of it, but realize now that it was motivated by my desire to blend in and were only fooling themselves.

If you dig a bit deeper and consider the history of it all, you find that the modern practice as we see it today is not all that old, it dates back to about 1906 in Los Angeles. Having first started in a revival there, it has since then spread in a viral like manner both geographically around the globe, and also chronologically on to each successive generation. Modern practitioners claim that what they are doing is exactly the same as the experience described within the Book of Acts (2:1-13), however one huge discrepancy is that the story within Book of Acts describes recognized languages from all around the Roman Empire being spoken. In stark contrast, nobody understands the modern mindless babbling.

What is even more fascinating is that the modern manifestation is a lot more widespread than most might appreciate. Other non-Christian religious groups also practice it. Felicitas Goodman, a Hungarian anthropologist compared it with recordings of rituals from Japan, Indonesia, Africa and Borneo and concluded that there was no distinction, it truly is universal and quite easily crosses religious divides. [Goodman, Felicitas D. (1972). Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.]

The pilgrims are commonly misrepresented in American Christian culture.

The pilgrims are commonly misrepresented in American Christian culture.

The pilgrims… The belief that the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom is inspiring, but it’s just not so. Religious persecution had prompted the Pilgrims to move from England to Holland in 1608, but none of the Pilgrim writers so much as hinted that a desire for greater religious freedom led them to leave Holland for America in 1620. By their own account, Holland was a place where God had blessed them with “much peace and liberty.” They cited factors other than religious persecution in explaining their decision to seek a new home across the ocean.
Boiled down, the Pilgrims had two major complaints about their experience in Holland: (1) They found it a hard place to raise their children and (2) an even harder place to make a living. Did they want to continue to have religious freedoms? Sure, but they weren’t the oppressed victims of the Church of England by that point that most Christians would have you remember.

Map of World Religions. I'd say there are more than just those from Catholicism... right?

Map of World Religions. I’d say there are more than just those from Catholicism… right?

The rest of her ‘history’ is exceptionally inaccurate. The catholic church was certainly not the only religion or church in the world at the time. By the 1600’s there we more than 19 MAJOR world religions divided into over 300 large groups. I think this might be a terminology argument though, as it appears that when you say ‘religion’ you mean Christianity. I hope that in all of your studies that you did not learn that ‘all the other religions come out of Catholicism’ because that’s ridiculous, as there were MANY religions founded LONG before Catholicism.
A fantastic animated version has been making the rounds lately that also helps to see the movement of religions over time across the planet. Hopefully this can give you a better, less biased, view of how religions actually made their way around the world and when. Animated World Map of Religions.

You Need real Truth. Don’t let the devil use you. When you are ready for the real truth, John and I will be here.

I tell her thanks, and then it starts to get weird… No, really, the weird is just starting.

I am here to stand for truth and God the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38 is what you need. I have lived for God hard for 50 yrs and know a lot of things you don’t know especially spiritual things. I have spoke in tongues many times since then and have always lived hard for God according to the Bible and Randy about 32 yrs. I am very inturitive and God has given me the gift of wisdom and knowledge. You cannot believe eveything you read in books and learn in college. There is so much lying and deception in this world. You can’t believe everything you read or they tell you. We are in the endtime. Endtime.com I grew up with Irvin Baxter of endtime. He was my 2nd favorite mentor and mom was the 1st. She went through much trouble with my dad so she could live for God and go to church. I have a lot of things I could tell you how God has talked to me and showed me visions. We love you Michael. I’m here to fight the devils kingdom with Gods help.

Here is when I feel like we have to stop being nice and tolerant as secularists and really just as good human beings. When the sheer amount of condecension, arrogance, and overall bullshit hit this level, one has to stand up for reality, rationality, science, logic and reason. The incoherent babble above is a fantastic example of how people are not rational, but rather they are rationalizing their beliefs into the world around them. I want to (for those of you who made it this far) take this last blurb line by line, just to point out some things I feel we have been culturally programmed to ignore and just ‘live and let live’ rather than argue and point out the fallacies of.

Onward Christian Soldiers

Onward Christian Soldiers

‘I am here to stand for truth and God the Lord Jesus Christ.’

You are not for truth. If you were for truth, you would say ‘Im for truth’. You don’t need to add the rest, because if you are for truth, and the truth turns out to be God and the Lord Jesus as you claim, then its just the truth. What you have said here just screams motivated reasoning. It’s akin to going to a murder scene and saying “
I’m here to find how OJ murdered his wife” vs “Im here to find out who committed this murder”.

Acts 2:38 is what you need.

I think we should cover whether Jesus was real, if he existed was he the offspring of a man and an angel, and a whole bunch of other unsubstantiated nonsense before we go diving into why I need this…

I have lived for God hard for 50 yrs and know a lot of things you don’t know especially spiritual things. . I have spoke in tongues many times since then and have always lived hard for God according to the Bible and Randy about 32 yrs. I am very inturitive and God has given me the gift of wisdom and knowledge

Really? That’s a neat trick you did there. You read my mind to learn everything I know while comparing it to what you know and determined the differences. So, now that you’ve done that amazing feat, let’s move on the important part, proving it. Show me your ‘divine’ information that I’m not privileged enough to know or have access to. Because information doesn’t work that way, so if you can show that you are able to do this, you will likely win a Nobel Prize and the JRF 1,000,000 prize. But you can’t really show that to be true can you? Otherwise those who make claims like yours would have already proven it, but they haven’t either. Just think about that for a bit. Im just going to have to assume what you mean by ‘spritual’ things because that’s one of those words that has as many meanings as it does people who use it. This essentially makes it meaningless.

You cannot believe eveything you read in books and learn in college. There is so much lying and deception in this world. You can’t believe everything you read or they tell you.

This is where I start to get pissed at religion. She asked what made me so angry? Well, this is one thing that makes me very angry. The very idea that one could garner knowledge ‘divinely’ is arguably insane. Literally. Not being mean about it, but the thought that you have just as good of a chance to get real knowledge from ‘intuition’ as you have of getting it from rigorous study, learning, testing, disproving, retesting, etc etc…. then you might actually be insane. Can you believe everything? Of course not. That’s why its even MORE critical to develop your critical thinking skills, hone your skepticism and learn how to tell reason from nonsense. People are exceptionally easy to fool, especially when they are the ones doing both the fooling and being fooled. This comment though makes me want to return to my original call to all believers, ‘how do you tell whats real and whats not, if you have to rely on this kind of unverifiable delivery of knowledge?’.

Yeah, except for all the parts that are stuck in the bronze age, like all of it.

Yeah, except for all the parts that are stuck in the bronze age, like all of it.

We are in the endtime. Endtime.com I grew up with Irvin Baxter of endtime. He was my 2nd favorite mentor and mom was the 1st. She went through much trouble with my dad so she could live for God and go to church. I have a lot of things I could tell you how God has talked to me and showed me visions. We love you Michael. I’m here to fight the devils kingdom with Gods help.

Now, I want to be as polite to my family here as possible. But this is a mortgage payment away from being a rambling homeless street preacher message. It also has all the coloring’s of motivated thinking. The end days mentality and tactic that religions use is an evil and deceptive one. To just SCARE people into belief is unconscionable. But I’ll tell you what, there is no better way to be sure you aren’t playing into your own confirmation biases than by using your childhood mentor and parent as your sources. That was sarcastic. That’s actually a great way to be SURE you stay in your circle of confirmation. When you start talking about talking to god, having visions, and fighting literal demons then I really have to start questioning your mental health. Not only because those things are imaginary, but because somehow you have been able to imbue yourself with enough power that you feel your creator of the universe needs your help in battling his own creation. Sounds to me like he is either not all powerful, or doesn’t exist. Or both.

I have been waiting for days now for a response, any response. Nothing. I didn’t really expect her to address any of the fallacies, the inconsistencies, the drastic misunderstandings of history, theology or epistemology. Maybe someone will read this and have better answers for me? Comments and emails welcome: Email me here.

I know I got into a little personal space in this article. I want the readers to know, however, that I try to come at these discussion from a direction of compassion, but when people are determined to blatantly ignore the things we do really know and can demonstrate, want to undermine education or science, or generally want to propagate unfounded bullshit, then I tend to be less compassionate and more fervent.