This weekend on the show: End times theology for kids!

This Sunday afternoon, tune in to “The Atheist Experience,” where Tracie and I will be joined by a guest. Charity is an 18 year old ex-believer who will be discussing the series “Left Behind: the Kids” and other wacky end times beliefs.

Update: Since I leaned heavily on the Slacktivist blog to get us through the horrid technical errors that left us phone-less, I’d be remiss if I didn’t link him so you all could enjoy what I was reading.

- Slacktivist main page
- Posts on “Left Behind”

Apologists do not make good sci fi authors

Last weekend on “The Non-Prophets,” Matt read part of a a right wing Christian screed entitled “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.” At the time, I remember being much more interested in picking apart the literary shortcomings of the letter than worrying about the specific paranoid delusions of the author.

For instance, the entire first page of the letter is an introduction explaining what he is trying to do. Writing no-no number one. Show, don’t tell. If you have to explain what your writing MEANS, you’ve already failed as an author. Shilling pointed out that he was writing for a fairly dumb target audience who might not get the conceit. Even so, you have to be fairly dense to read a letter from 2012 and not understand that it is fiction.

Reading it again, there is another thing I wish I had said as well. Who the hell is the person supposed to be writing to? Is it another person in 2012? If so, why is he rattling off a bullet list of things which would presumably be common knowledge to everyone living there? Is it a person from another country? It seems to contain so much sappy patriotism that anybody receiving it would probably dismiss it. Unless they’re an American overseas, which again raises the question of why they didn’t know this stuff already.

Or is the author a time traveler, who somehow knowingly sent the message back in time to warn our ignorant past selves? That makes more sense, but I skipped to the end to read the sign-off. It says: “I still believe God is sovereign over all history, and though I don’t know why he has allowed these events, it is still his purpose that will ultimately be accomplished.” That doesn’t sound at all like your usual sign-off for a supposed ghost of Christmas future visitation. Not “You can still change all this! Vote for McCain!” but “I don’t understand how this happened.” If he doesn’t think he can change history, why did he write the letter?

Is it too much to ask that the author think about a genre and a writing style, and then write something that makes some small amount of sense within that genre? Sigh.

Off-topic, but…

Damn!

Danger Man and The Prisoner are two of my favorite classic TV shows. The Prisoner, especially, was a surreal odyssey that managed to be some of the most socially relevant television, then as now: an allegory about maintaining one’s individuality and integrity in a world determined to buy you, own you, corrupt you, sell you, or just plain throw you away. I had always entertained the quaint fantasy of working with McGoohan on a film at some hazy point in the future, but knew it would be quite impossible due to his advanced age. Oh well. Prisoner DVD marathon tonight!

Double damn!

I was never such a big Star Trek fan as all that. But when you consider Ricardo Montalban’s guest slot on one episode became one of the iconic characters of the series and inspired what is still the only one of the feature films worth repeat viewing…well, that’s not a bad legacy.

More confusion about that darn church-and-state thing

Here’s an AP article talking about the existence of some of the new Washington dollar coins that managed to go into circulation without the “In God We Trust” motto stamped into the edge. These godless coins, legal tender all the way, are reportedly fetching around $50 apiece from collectors. In a display of the kind of theistic bias that has regrettably left its pee-markings on our entire nation, the godless dollars are described as “flawed” and “error coins,” while the ones proclaiming our patriotic “trust” in an imaginary being are described as “properly struck.” In an America that actually respected its own Constitution, the reverse would be true, of course.

A bit of artistic justice

Lurking on some of my usual movie sites today, I noticed a fun fact that has gone unnoticed by the godless blogosphere. I still haven’t seen Bill Maher’s Religulous; I understand the ACA had a little group movie night when it opened here, which I missed due to being out of town. No one saw fit to blog a review of it here, though, so perhaps it just didn’t make much of an impression at all.

Still, it’s gotten pretty good notices in Free Inquiry and other sources I keep up with, and so I’m looking forward to the DVD.

But here’s the fun fact. Religulous had a minute fraction of the hype Expelled got, and never played on more than half the screens of Ben Stein’s disasterpiece. And yet, Religulous almost doubled Expelled‘s box office take.

So go Bill. Sometimes, the good guys win one. Now all he has to do is jettison his ill-considered anti-vaccination issues, and he’ll really earn his skeptic stripes.

On the same page: another atheist criticizes the FFRF

Just tripped over this editorial by atheist David Gleeson over at the Denver Post, where he lambastes the FFRF’s Christmas sign for most of the same reasons I did. Some good points here.

My wife’s mind is not enslaved when she lights the Hanukkah candles and sings the blessings that have been handed down to her through the generations.

She is simply taking part in a tradition that is important to her identity as a Jewish woman.

Religion certainly can harden hearts and enslave minds, but so can atheism.

The FFRF is taking the very worst that religion can muster and using it to paint everyone with the same bold brush strokes, a tactic perfected, ironically, by radical religious groups seeking to brand all nonbelievers as immoral devil-worshipping heathens. How easily the FFRF stoops to the same level. Pot, meet Kettle.


After some discussion in the comments, I must qualify my position on Gleeson’s piece. I do think that atheists can be hard-hearted people; anyone can be. I do not agree, though, that atheism itself can “enslave” a mind. Atheism is nothing more than not believing in a god, and there are no dogmas or creeds one must subscribe to, no requirement that one throw evidence to the winds in determining how you learn about the world. A person, however, can be atheist for irrational reasons, such as simple rebellion towards or hatred of religion and religious people. Most atheists I know and have had the pleasure of working with base their atheism on a rational critique of religion’s claims, but there are foolish people in any group. And if your atheism is rooted in unreason rather than reason, then yes, you can be a hard-hearted person whose mind is enslaved to anger and emotionalism, instead of being liberated by reason.

If you’re looking for TalkOrigins.org…

…it seems to be down, though there is a mirror site at toarchive.org. The Talk Origins Archive has frequently (and not surprisingly) been the target of creationist malice over the years. It’s faced numerous DDOS attacks; someone hacked it and placed some code on it forwarding visitors to a pornographic site, which got TO delisted from Google for a while; you name it. No idea what’s going on this time, though, but at least the site is still online in its complete form, just at a different URL. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

Interview in “MediaShift”

I was recently interviewed by a group that is loosely affiliated with PBS. The resulting online article is called Public-Access TV Fights for Relevance in the YouTube Age. A couple of other Access personalities and I discussed the difference between live TV and a pure internet show. There are a couple of quotes in there from me, although I deny any blame for Matt being characterized as “my co-host.”

Fairly interesting article, although obviously my own thoughts were not news to me. :)

Oh, I just had to send off for one of these!

“Is America Going Under?” asks the hand-wringing wackaloons over at the Christian Worldview Network. Well, yes, guys, it has been. But remember who’s been in charge the past eight years: an extremist, Christian fundamentalist gang of right-wing thugs who view the Constitution as a list of bothersome technicalities to be skirted around, who honestly think their military misadventures in Iraq (which have all but broken our military) are part of a battle between Biblical notions of Good and Evil, and who have been supported by a mob of like-minded religious ideologues who look upon the prospect of total holocaust in the mideast as ultimately desirable, as it will prompt the Second Coming and the Last Days all the much sooner. If people who view the end of the world as if it were a party they can’t wait to get to seem scary as shit, that’s because they are.

I suspect, however, that the Christian Worldview goons see the decline of America in a slightly different light. And they’ve compiled all their paranoid lunacy into a “new, free, full-color magazine” that apparently explains “how America’s rejection of a Biblical worldview is leading to our demise and how every Christian must respond.”

This just looked like such a heaping, juicy helping of red meat that my mouth began watering right away. Hey, it was free. So I sent off for one. Look forward to seeing it, ahem, dissected here very soon.

Here is some of the entertainment promised within.

  • Reinventing A Stormy History: 25 Worldview Similarities Between America Today and Nazi Germany and How Christians Must Respond (Wow, Godwinning right out of the gate!)
  • Five Consequences Facing America For Rejecting God As Found in Romans, Chapter One
  • America’s Unknown Revolution That Robbed You of Your Liberties and What Must Happen to Get Them Back (Which liberties, you wonder? Me too. We’ll see.)
  • Obama, Liberals and Political Correctness Which is Really Cultural Marxism (Do these clowns even know what Marxism is? I suspect they’re just throwing it out because their ill-educated sheep will react with, “Hey, wasn’t Marx that commie guy?” and then go “Ooo! Bad thing!”)
  • How Politicians Pervert the Law and Liberty is the Casualty (Which politicians? Do you think they mean Republicans? No? Gee, what makes you think that?)
  • How Humanism is Leading to Judicial Tyranny (Translation: “Waaaah! We can’t get our way all the time! Waaaaah! Want my bwanky!”)