Poe’d by Roger Ebert

I’ve oftimes stated what a fan I am of film critic Roger Ebert. He does what any good critic should do: present his ideas and opinions clearly so that you can understand exactly where he’s coming from even when you disagree with his review.

Today, though, he’s pulled a lovely prank on us all, and has maintained the poker face of a pure professional throughout. An article at his site, bizarrely titled “Creationism: Your Questions Answered” immediately catches the eye, as it seems so out of place. But Ebert’s subtle satire, which was such a successful application of Poe’s Law — that little law of the internet that asserts it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalist religious beliefs so absurd that no one will mistake it for the real deal — it startled PZ Myers, makes itself known right from its opening salvo, which calmly presents “Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution.” What follows is conveyed in such a dry, non-histrionic style that it’s actually fooled a lot of people into thinking Ebert, who has made his support of good science and his full-on agreement with evolutionary theory and disdain for ID or other creationist pseudoscience plain, had gone over to the dark side.

Still, it becomes obvious we’ve been Poe’d with this gem:

Q. How long did the Great Flood last?

A. We know that Noah was 600 years, two months and 17 days old when he sailed. Using that as a starting point and counting forward, Genesis tells us it lasted for 40, 150, 253, 314 or 370 days.

Until he fesses up, it remains to be understood why Ebert chose just now to pull this little prank. It may have to do with the fact that this week, he’s posted a review of Adaptation, the 2002 Spike Jonze movie starring Nic Cage, to his “Great Movies” section. This review boasts the headline “Evolution Is God’s Intelligent Design,” and I can imagine that sparking a miniflood of indignant emails from creationists, pulling out all their tiresome “evilushun is not siyunts nuh-uh, lookit all the evidense for creashunz!” canards, and demanding “equal time.” So, that’s what Roger gave them.

Thumbs up, old chap!

Today on the show: Dominionism and Reconstructionism

Some links:

Remember Tony Alamo?

I’ve let the blog lie fallow for several days, I know. I’ve been involved in — uh — other things, about which I will talk here as soon as I can. As it’s been several days, I thought what better subject to discuss in getting back in the swing of things than Tony Alamo (pronounced A-lah-mo, apparently).

You may not have heard of this guy, but in Austin we’re fairly familiar with his antics. Every once in a while you’ll walk out of the supermarket to find that the windshield wipers of every car in the parking lot are clutching copies of Alamo’s trashy four-color newsletter, dutifully distributed by his followers, who seem indifferent to the amount of litter they are creating when the majority of them are simply chucked aside by exasperated shoppers. On more than one occasion, I’ve cleared out an entire lot of Alamo newsletters and recycled them. I had an angry confrontation with a couple of Alamo’s clods while doing this several years ago, the upshot of which was that I, evidently, was the “nut,” despite the fact they were ones belonging to a cult run by a convicted felon.

Oh yes, Alamo has an impressive rap sheet. Like Kent Hovind, he failed to report his ministry’s payroll taxes, which cost him a six year stretch. His church runs a bogus charity that was caught red-handed selling donated goods for profit on eBay. He’s an avowed polygamist, who’s been accused any number of times of child abuse (both sexual and otherwise). He has a hate-on for the Catholics second only to Jack Chick’s, which has led to the SPLC classifying his church as a hate group. And finally, he’s just plain batshit insane. After his wife died in 1982, he kept her body on display at his compound for six months, telling his followers she’d be resurrected. (What resulted from that is nearly too bizarre for words.)

Through all of this, the bastard has managed to keep preaching, keep a following, keep scamming money, and, reportedly, keep fucking little girls. Is there anything a truly evil person cannot manage to pull off, even with the law on his tail half his life, as long as he attaches the label “religion” to it?

Well, Alamo’s reign of error may be puttering to a close. Early today the feds raided Alamo’s compound in Arkansas, as part of a child porn investigation. No one has been arrested yet, but it is expected that a warrant for Alamo is forthcoming. Alamo displayed his usual paranoiac class when interviewed about the raid: “Where do these allegations stem from? The anti-Christ government. The Catholics don’t like me because I have cut their congregation in half. They hate true Christianity.” Whatever. Tell it to Bubba while he’s making you felch him in the showers, you dirty old man you.

So, another crazy bites the dust once and for all, we can only hope. At the very least, hopefully we won’t have to deal with cleaning up any more of those stupid newsletters off the pavement.

How I wish, how I wish you were here

You know you’re getting older, not only when all the favorite bands you grew up with are suddenly thought of as “classic rock,” but when their members start dying on you. Now we’ve lost Richard Wright of Pink Floyd. Major bummer. And all this time I’d been sure Keith Richards was the guy well and truly overdue for a visit from the reaper.

I don’t know if there’s a “great gig in the sky,” Rick, but if so I’m sure it’s a far better place to be than what the pious are trying to sell me. Thanks for all the music. Shine on.


Nick Mason, Dave Gilmour, and Rick Wright

Post-Ike

We’ve gotten a couple of emails, from some overseas fans, asking if we’re all okay in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Thanks for your concern, and the short answer is: yes. In fact the storm avoided Austin entirely, except for a light shower that popped up at about 11:30 last night and went away just as quickly. After slamming Galveston, Houston and Beaumont, Ike’s remnants shuffled on up the Texas/Louisiana border. My parents live in Jefferson, about a 45-minute drive from Shreveport, way up in what’s called the ArkLaTex, that area where the three states meet. They reported fairly heavy rains, really heavy winds (an entire oak blew down at their lakehouse), and a power outage that lasted until about 4:30 this afternoon and even affected other nearby towns like Marshall and Longview.

Last weekend when I was on the show, someone called in asking some vague question about the severity of hurricanes lately, and I pointed out that this was a pretty clear sign of global warming, as it’s the function of hurricanes to act as a heat sink, channeling excess heat from the equatorial regions towards the poles. So if you have more heat sending more evaporation into the weather systems, presto, big hurricane. My use of the word “function” got the knickers of one viewer in a twist, who felt that word was inappropriate to use when referring to a natural phenomenon. Well, “function” can be used that way, and does not imply that the thing in question was designed, nor does it impart any teleological purpose to it. Basically he was in the mood to gripe about semantics that day, I guess. Not to say that’s an invalid gripe, as people frequently will misrepresent the intent of words in conversation. After all just look how enthusiastically creationists distort the words of Gould and Dawkins. It’s practically a sport. Still, I don’t think too many people were confused about what I meant when I was discussing the function of hurricanes.

And the mail keeps coming…

The TV show gets fan letters at a volume I certainly never experienced in the years before the internets became the distribution channel it is today. When I was host up until early March of 2004, we had set up the address (tv [at] atheist-community [dot] org) already. But with the only people watching the show being those with nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon than tune in to Austin Access, a good week of letters might be one or two letters, tops. Now they flood in at dozens per day, it seems.

Here are a couple of emails that give a flavor for the kinds of questions people have who write in. It’s great to hear from so many atheists, from all over, who never hesitate to express their gratitude for the work Matt and the whole team does. (And yes, we get letters from Christians, too, more of which is friendly and not of the “I’ll pray for you!” stripe than you might think.)

A fellow named Alexander Altaras asks, in his subject line, a straightforward question: “We don’t trust the Bible as an accurate source, why do we trust the news or any other historical document?” A good question indeed. I answered: Whatever the source of information you’re referring to, you should only find it trustworthy to the degree its claims can be independently confirmed or corroborated. Historians are usually expected to cite their sources, and the good ones do. News reporting has gotten more difficult to trust, because so much of it today is tainted with one type of political bias or another. It’s always a good thing to see if the information being given to you is well supported by facts. It’s why science is trustworthy where religion is not. In science the process of peer review is set up so that scientists can independently check each other’s findings without favoritism tainting the results. Religion has no such self-correcting tool in place. Another point is that religious claims are doubly hard to trust at face value because, unlike history, for example, the people promoting religious claims are doing so in order to defend or proselytize the belief, an agenda that isn’t as often applied when dealing with purely secular matters. So in short, consider the source, consider their reputation, and consider their sources most of all.

A fellow identifying himself only as Bobby, and informing us he’s a 38-year-old Marine and plainclothes narcotics officer (I’m assuming ex-Marine, if he’s a cop now), wants to know “what is the root of [believers'] hatred for the theory of evolution?” Bobby writes, “Why do theists get so offended by the theory of evolution? It is a basic question. I do not understand. I am an Atheist. I do not get offended by religion until it is forced upon me. I do not actively attack religious concepts until I am provoked. Theists behave as if the very IDEA of evolution insults them. They act as if the theory was created to specifically offend them. Why?”

I think much of it has to do with the fact that evolution seems to deny religion’s great promise to them: that they are special creations of a loving god, imbued with souls, which to go on to live in eternal paradise after their bodies die. By treating the development of life as a purely natural process, theists are afraid that evolution denies the divine and thus the chance they’ll get to go to Heaven.

Thing is, I happen to think (and Ken Miller would disagree) evolution does deny this. But it’s hardly the fault of nature, or of science’s methods of learning about nature, if people choose to retreat from reality and embrace irrational beliefs out of fear and wishful thinking.

Now keep in mind that everyone on the TV crew gets these emails, and the above answers to these questions are only my own. The good questions usually spark a stimulating discussion, with some of the other cohosts, like Tracie, offering such beautifully written and thought out responses that I can’t help gritting my teeth she doesn’t get a chance to post here more often than she does. But however the discussion threads turn out, it must be said that we really do have a fine and engaged audience out there, and we’re grateful to the lot of you. Keep watching, and keep the emails coming.

Replaying an old speech

I’m not really fond of empty memorials. I actually think it’s kind of trite the way people rush to post their memories of 9/11/01 every year. On the one hand, I think it’s important to remember and respect the people who died; on the other hand, I think it’s been cheapened by some people who use it to push a political agenda, either once a year like clockwork, or in a constant undertone. But I’m going to participate in my own small way.

The fact is that I’ve always seen the attack of September 11 as an act of religious intolerance, and then it was used as an excuse to foster even more religious intolerance. One of the reasons why I feel so perpetually annoyed by “Loose Change” style conspiracy theories is because they dismiss and disregard the very real component of religious extremism that played an important role in motivating the attackers. I don’t single out Islam for this: ALL brands of religious extremism are dangerous.

I could go on, but instead I think I’ll just repeat a speech that I read for a secular one-year memorial that was sponsored by the ACA on 9/11. It was an event that featured many fine tributes by ACA members. Here’s my small contribution. Many of the links may be outdated, since they pointed to news sites that are now outdated by six years.

After September 11 a year ago, for a short period of time — maybe a few days, maybe a couple of weeks — the United States really seemed to be unified. We were a nation in mourning; we all had a grief that we shared, even though most of us didn’t personally know anyone who died in the tragedy. Everyone seemed just a little more sympathetic towards each other. People went out of their way to call old acquaintances and make sure they were okay. My wife even said she noticed that drivers were a little less rude in traffic. They wouldn’t cut each other off, they would slow down to let you change lanes, and they wouldn’t honk and gesture so much.

Human nature being what it is, it’s not really surprising that this camaraderie didn’t last very long. The first crack I noticed came from an unsurprising source: Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Instead of offering moral support and positive suggestions, they began casting around for someone to blame. It was on September 13, just two days later, that Jerry and Pat appeared on “The 700 Club” to offer these words of support and comfort to our nation: “…what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be minuscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.”

Falwell then went on to explain why we deserved what we got. It would seem that it’s all the fault of a laundry list of groups: the American Civil Liberties Union, pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, and lesbians. They all make his God angry.

At the same time, something else was happening in America. Reports of hate crimes against people of Arabic descent started coming in. We all heard the reports about assaults, death threats, and general harassment against people who looked middle-Eastern. They were directed against innocent people who weren’t involved in the attacks, who would never dream of such an action. In many cases, the victims weren’t even the RIGHT ethnicity — they were Pakistani or Indian; they practiced Hinduism rather than Islam. Racial prejudice isn’t known for its logic.

To Ann Coulter it’s obvious what the solution is to Islamic terrorism. In a column on September 14, she wrote that “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” OBVIOUSLY the problem is that the assailants were Muslims; if they had been Christians, they would never have done such a thing, because there are no recorded instances of people killing each other in the name of Christianity, right?

The news about racial hate crimes has diminished in more recent times, but it has been replaced by a general undercurrent of anger against Muslims. As recently as last month, we’ve heard Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, tell us that all Islamic people scare him, saying, “the silence of the (Islamic) clerics around the world is frightening to me.” In reality, there are hundreds of Muslim leaders from around the world who have issued public statements denouncing the actions of the terrorists, and yet Graham ignores this fact and asks: “How come they haven’t come to this country, how come they haven’t apologized to the American people?”

Ashraf Sabrin, a medical technician who volunteered for the relief efforts at the twin towers and the Pentagon, said: “We’ve had so many different events — open houses, candlelight vigils, national press releases. What’s it going to take exactly?” Ironically, Franklin Graham’s false sweeping generalization about Muslims came up shortly after the publication of a book he wrote which included the following claim: “Islam – unlike Christianity – has among its basic teachings a deep intolerance for those who follow other faiths.”

Meanwhile, popular radio commentators and news editorialists can be heard daily making sarcastic mockeries of Arabs, saying “If they don’t want to be frisked at every checkpoint and looked at with perpetual suspicion by all American citizens, then they shouldn’t come here and blow up our buildings.” That is, of course, absurd. Most of the people we are talking about are American citizens themselves, who watched in horror along with the rest of us as the twin towers collapsed; but unlike the rest of us, they received the additional insult of being harassed and targeted by angry people looking for revenge on someone, anyone. The reality is that the peaceful American citizens of Arab descent who walk among us in our cities are NOT the same ones who attacked us.

We atheists have also received a bit more than our fair share of the blame for an event that didn’t involve us at all. Kathleen Parker wrote an editorial for USA Today on October 1 that begins by saying, “One can’t help notice the silence of atheists these days.” The general idea of this article was that it would be a very good thing if atheists would all shut up about that irritating “separation of church and state” and go away so we could get back to the business of giving our children proper values. It concluded by saying, “If we’re to win this war — sure to last into our children’s futures — we have to reweave the rituals of God and country into our institutions.”

Well, obviously atheists haven’t been keeping silent — here we are, after all — but they’ve been marginalized as much as possible ever since last year. We’ve become convenient bogeymen representing everything that’s wrong with American values, which led God to decide that we’re not worthy of being protected anymore.

So, whose fault was September 11? On the one hand, we hear that the reason we’re being targeted by terrorist attacks is because we deserve it, thanks to all the atheists and evolutionists and ACLU members and gay people and so on. On the other hand, we hear that it’s all the fault of every single person who has a certain ethnic background, especially if they are presumably too foolish to recognize that one religion is inherently evil and violent while another religion is noble and good.

Human beings are pattern-seeking animals. When we see something that interests or scares us, we look for a way that we can generalize the experience. Sometimes this is simply good survival instinct; after all, if you recognize the circumstances when you ma
ke a mistake, then hopefully you won’t make the same mistake again. But as a method of dealing with other people, sometimes it’s just bad policy.

A common thread that we see in all this is Americans attacking other Americans, looking for easy rules of thumb to tell them who the bad guys are. No such rules exist, of course, especially in a pluralistic society where many different ways of life are represented. We’re letting generalizations get in the way of thinking.

Unfortunately, atheists are sometimes guilty of this habit too. How many of you were listening to what I said about Robertson, Falwell, and Graham, and thinking to yourselves “See? That just goes to show that you can’t trust those religious people”? It’s very easy for non-Christians to take the worst examples of Christianity and use that as a substitute for the religion as a whole. But in fact, it’s not that being a member of a particular religion makes you a bad person, any more than being a member of no religion. There are some fine and wonderful Christians out there, just as there are fine and wonderful Muslims and atheists.

The danger that any religion poses occurs only when its members become entrenched in the idea that “Our metaphysical truth is right, and theirs is SO WRONG that there is no possibility that we can even communicate.” Jerry Falwell said it about large numbers of Americans. Franklin Graham said it about all Muslims. And Osama bin Laden said it about us. In that sense, when fundamentalism is practiced to extremes in this country, it mirrors the sort practiced in Afghanistan.

We shouldn’t do that. We’re supposed to be the country that values diversity, and we’re proud of our freedom to choose to believe whatever religion we want, including none at all.

But we are, each one of us, about more than just our religion. We are not our set of beliefs. We are not the groups we join or the people we associate with. Each one of us is an individual, someone who is worthy of respect and appreciation for our unique qualities.

Let’s not join together in groups as a way of shutting out the rest of the world. If we do join groups, it should be because we want to feel close to each other and have friends. Study the examples of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and understand that they’re bad not because they practice Islam, and not because of their dark skin, but because they’ve come to a place where they can’t accept anyone having different beliefs than their own. And then let’s try not to follow their example.

A grim reminder on a grim anniversary: it can happen here

Because people need to remember exactly what was at the root of the most horrific terrorist act of modern times: religious fundamentalism and zealotry. Here is the list of instructions that was found among the personal effects of 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta. Some salient excerpts:

Keep in mind that, if you fall into hardship, how will you act and how will you remain steadfast and remember that you will return to God and remember that anything that happens to you could never be avoided, and what did not happen to you could never have happened to you. This test from Almighty God is to raise your level [levels of heaven] and erase your sins. And be sure that it is a matter of moments, which will then pass, God willing, so blessed are those who win the great reward of God. Almighty God said: ‘Did you think you could go to heaven before God knows whom amongst you have fought for Him and are patient?’

Remember the words of Almighty God: ‘You were looking to the battle before you engaged in it, and now you see it with your own two eyes.’ Remember: ‘How many small groups beat big groups by the will of God.’ And His words: ‘If God gives you victory, no one can beat you. And if He betrays you, who can give you victory without Him? So the faithful put their trust in God.’

When you have reached (M) and have left the taxi, say a supplication of place ['Oh Lord, I ask you for the best of this place, and ask you to protect me from its evils'], and everywhere you go say that prayer and smile and be calm, for God is with the believers. And the angels protect you without you feeling anything. Say this supplication: ‘God is more dear than all of His creation.’ And say: ‘Oh Lord, protect me from them as You wish.’ And say: ‘Oh Lord, take your anger out on [the enemy] and we ask You to protect us from their evils.’ And say: ‘Oh Lord, block their vision from in front of them, so that they may not see.’ And say: ‘God is all we need, He is the best to rely upon.’ Remember God’s words: ‘Those to whom the people said, “The people have gathered to get you, so fear them,” but that only increased their faith and they said, God is all we need, He is the best to rely upon.’

The ultimate “faith based initiative,” this.

Ah Martin, some of you might be saying, of course radical Islamists are violent psychotics. But that’s what their religion promotes. Christianity is all about peace and love and forgiveness and fluffy bunnies. You’d never see that kind of mindset bred here, goodness gracious me no!

Except, of course, we do. Meet “Joel’s Army,” a fast-growing group of Dominionist maniacs so flamboyantly extreme that they even frighten other conservative Christians. In the words of Rick Joyner, a popular pastor associated with the movement:

“As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel's Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces,” Joyner wrote. “In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

This is how you brainwash a generation of kids into becoming the kinds of killers who strap bombs to themselves and walk into public places. You convince them that any violent act they see fit to commit is fully justified as an act of self-defense. And the best way to feel like you’re a persecuted minority when you really aren’t is by embracing religious piety. Ol’ Adolf had convinced himself of this, when he wrote many religious justifications in Mein Kampf for his anti-Semitism, and the psychology was well understood by Hermann Goering, a much smarter and more cunning man than Hitler, who testified in Nuremberg, “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Goering was speaking in a general political sense there, but the principle applies to religious terror as well. Just replace “pacifists” with “unbelievers” or “unsaved,” and “patriotism” with “piety” or “faith,” and it’s basically the same sentiment.

Joel’s Army have what must be the biggest case of fatwa envy on the planet, and take my cynical little word for it: the only difference between them and al Qaeda is that Joel’s Army simply haven’t gotten around to the “killing people” part of their plans yet. They’re hopeful, indeed, even eager, to see a sea change in public attitudes that will make that kind of activity in America receive the sort of overall public support that Qaeda’s terrorism gets in much of the Islamic world. But that doesn’t mean they’ll wait around to commit acts of violence, any more than the Islamist terrorists have. Proud of their anti-intellectualism and lack of education and worldliness, the cretins of Joel’s Army pray for the day God’s armies swoop down across the United States, killing off all the fags and libruls and establishing a blessed Christian fascist theocracy to welcome the savior’s second coming.

Sure, you might say that, with the vast majority even of Christian denominations contemptuous of the militarist fantasies of JA’s “Kingdom Now” theology, and arrayed against them, that they’re unlikely to gain any kind of majority foothold. But while they might hope for that kind of acceptance, disaffected loons don’t exactly need a majority foothold to be violent. Indeed, the feeling of being further isolated and marginalized might prompt them to action sooner rather than later. And with the far right currently energized by the rise in popularity of Sarah Palin, a book-banning zealot of the fire-and-brimstone old school from a Dominionist church, who knows what kind of plans are fomenting in the brains of these loons, if it looks like even a shred of respectability is suddenly being accorded their views. (Not saying that Palin’s fundamentalism, while too extreme to make her a safe bet in the White House, is as extreme as Joel’s Army. But the link between her church and Dominionist teaching has been noted.)

So on the 7th anniversary of 9/11, it behooves us to remember that not only is the war on terror still not won, it will probably never be won as long as the primary ingredients of terrorism’s recipe — a self-righteous sense of victimhood married to an implacable faith that God is behind you all the way — remain at full boil on the stove. And while we’ve been spending all our time these last seven years nurturing our fear of the Islamists, and wasted countless lives and resources trying to bring the war to them on their shores, over in America we’ve been cooking up our very own divinely inspired wannabe mass murderers, who have as much, if not more, contempt for the United States and its diversity and freedoms as al Qaeda ever had.

World still here, so far

Well, the Large Hadron Collider has been switched on, and as far as I can tell, we haven’t all been slurped into a black hole to Narnia or whatever alternate universe might await us at the end of one. It’s an amazingly ambitious experiment, and one that will certainly reshape a lot of what we understand (or don’t) about the early universe. I like Stephen Hawking’s take on the whole thing. He’s banking on that wonderful unpredictability you so often find in science. Hawking has bet £100 that, in fact, the LHC will not confirm the existence of the elusive Higgs boson, but will in fact lead us to discover things we may never have dreamed of. We’ll see how it pans out, won’t we? Unless I wake up tomorrow with a winged octopus perched on my nightstand singing Beatles tunes while feeding me breakfast in bed. I might get suspicious I was in another universe at that point.

We get email!

Here’s a delightful missive from someone who assures us he’s a “scientist”! I suspect he’s more likely to be a typical example of the McCain/Palin — oh, I’m sorry, I meant Palin/McCain — cheerleading squad. His subject line was “How misleading your are” (spelled just like that, yes), and he goes on to say, without paragraph breaks (because those are for libruls and homos):

atheism is not new and is as old as religion itself believing in ones self then believing in god! i am a scientist not atheist.. I look at facts to back up my beliefs not speculations about if or not there is a god. I know there is billions of atoms and trillion to the 2nd power of DNA splattered through-out the universe and thing unexplained by science today! before you assume that there is no god or assume there is you must look at the evidence. and not at the winners of history’s version of truth! just because they claim to be one thing doesn’t mean they are that which they claim! atheist are the same you worry about about future and worry about today! as most humans do! I worry about my children and their future! but i look at the christian world and see a joy they have that no other set of people have! so i look at both sides no worries and a joy beyond measure.. or fear and self human interest! and death..to believe in something greater then ones self .. hmm but left to human temper the world is then ruled by fear hatred and death.. wars.. disease..famine..religion has bring out love and understanding..but for a few bad apples take Islam for example it claim all infidels should be killed!! but in christian belief accept jesus into your heart and be saved beyond your earthly years! This is just a look at what are atheist and their views..looks like no-one ever thought it through we don’t have enough evidence to claim there is no god! or creation..but belief..and then you must stomp out the belief in love hope and faith if there is no god.. for all the idea of god is a starting point of creation..if big bang is correct then god is the impact of two asteroids..but why hasn’t their been another big-bang??? all the time asteroids impact each other..and the universe keeps expanding into infinity! atheism is a belief just as satanism is..belief in ones self!

If you made it through that lunatic eruption of verbal diarrhea, it’s possible you may have some questions. Such as, what exactly is this “joy…that no other set of people have” that he seems to think exists in the Christian world? I mean, sure, they all seem like they’re having fun at their church services, especially in those Pentacostal madhouses where they all hold hands and chant “ooga booga wakalakamaka” all the time. But get them out in reality, and you see a group of people governed almost entirely by fear — fear of gays, fear of “liberals” (defined as anyone out there who thinks people should be nice to everyone whether they’re white and Christian or not), fear of science and education, fear of us “militant” “new” atheists, fear of all the soul-corrupting anal-sex loving Jews in Hollywood (that one courtesy of our pal Bill Donohue). And rather than assuaging those fears through understanding and knowledge, they nurture and cherish them. Nothing is more important to the fundamentalist mind than fear, because fear allows them to believe they are the oppressed rather than the oppressors, and feeds their need for martyrdom.

Come to think of it, our correspondent may be right after all. Perhaps this sort of thing is a “joy” that no other group has. If so, good thing! It doesn’t seem like an especially joyous sort of “joy” when you think about it. I’d rather get mine from good old reality. Say, by things like walking my dog on a beautiful day. Which I think I’ll do right now.