Right ways and wrong ways »« Open thread on AETV #824: The Failure of Scripture

Christianity: It’s Just About Being Nice to People?

Someone wrote to us from a “non-English speaking country,” to say that his friend asked him why he, as an atheist, objects to Christianity—since it’s only teaching people to be good to one another? The writer said he wasn’t very familiar with Christianity and asked me why it should be such a big problem for people to teach their children to be kind? What did I think about that? Here is what I replied:

 

Thank you for writing.

I encourage you to do a Google search for “Why do we need salvation?”

What Christianity teaches is not just to be a good person.

It teaches that all people are wicked. Many of the churches teach that even children are born wicked. Because of this, people need to be “saved.” If you ask “saved from what?” you will hear about some sort of punishment or torment, usually. Some sort of hell, or some sort of eternal separation from god—that is darkness and despair. According to Christians, this is what all humans deserve—sometimes even children deserve hell for being born sinful. Churches believe that human beings all deserve to die—not just that we will die, but we deserve to die. And some churches think every human deserves to be tortured for eternity—just because we are human, and that is how horrible every human being is.

I think that is a horrible lesson for children. I think people are good. Sometimes we can do bad things. But we are basically good people—most of us. We do not deserve to die. We do not deserve to be tortured or tormented forever. That is awful.

So, to show his “love,” god decided that he would send part of himself to Earth to become a human being. He was born, grew up, and preached to people for a few years. Sometimes he said nice things—like treat people nicely. And sometimes he was pretty bad—chasing people with whips and comparing one woman to a dog, because she was a different ethnicity. Sometimes he taught good things—like help people in need. And sometimes he taught irresponsible things—like do not prepare for your future, because god will take care of everything for you.

Then, after a few years, it was time to “save” everyone. And here was god’s plan: Since Jesus had not done anything bad, he was considered to be clean. In the Old Testament, the sacrificed animals had to be pure and not sick or lame. They were sacrificed to god as payment for all the wrong-doings the person had done. But god was tired of all these animals, and so he thought a really good sacrifice would be to have a perfect human being slaughtered for him. So he wanted a human sacrifice this time—not just more animals. And so he had Jesus beaten and tortured and crucified to death as a human sacrifice. Jesus had not done anything wrong—but other people had. And so god thought it was a good application of justice to kill an innocent person to pay for other people’s crimes.

So, Jesus was sacrificed to god, and god was happy with that.

Then after three days, Jesus came back from the dead to show everyone that he was more powerful than death. And when people saw it—they were happy because they believed him when he told them that they could be more powerful than death, too. All they had to do was devote their lives to Jesus and follow his rules and believe he would bring them back to life after they died. They had to follow him and be grateful that he was a human sacrifice. And they had to also admit they were worthless, evil creatures that needed to be washed cleaned in the execution blood of Jesus.

Every weekend after that, they all would meet together and drink wine and eat bread—that represented the blood and flesh of Jesus. And they would have a symbolic cannibalism snack to remind them about the bloody human sacrifice.

And this is the core teaching of Christianity.

 

The letter writer responded to say, “Thank you for taking your time and answered my question, it was pretty funny how you put it, about what Christianity is based on, hahahaha it made me laugh, and again, thank you and keep up with the show :)”

Comments

  1. chris lowe says

    No Abrahamic religion is “nice”. They are guided by muscular, authoritarian, intimidating injunctions, by agents of an autocracy that cannot be questioned. They only require people OF THE SAME CREED to make nice to each other.

  2. says

    What I love about this ecchange is that someone unfamiliar with Christianity, after having it FULLY explained, recognized it’s ridiuclous nature. I hope the guy understands the all too common tactic the Christain was using, namely, to act as if the teaching is benign when it is anything but. Just a taste of the BS we have to endure.

  3. P J Knight says

    I was brought up a Xian, went to two CoE schools in South London (Christ Church & Archbishop Tenison’s), & though I have now been an atheist for over 30 years (I’m 50 in 2014) I guess I still have some feeling for it (Xianity).

    Frankly, I would still take some Xians over atheist Tories or (US) Republicans (I caveat because I would describe myself as a socialist & a republican (& so be rid of our over-indulged royals – I would have Oliver Cromwell as a hero, if I had such things & he wasn’t such a religious nutter).

    In the UK the church is stepping up to deal with the pay day loaners (might be futile and come to nought)! And they are also helping to set up food banks & such (that we need them is appalling – thank you Tory scum-bags). I’m not saying that the church is a good thing (FSM or Gaia forbid) but there are good Xians (by which I mean they are anti-capitalist/materialist, obviously). Without Jesus they’d probably be socialists and/or humanists anyway, but their religion helps them justify their good works. People take out of the scriptures what they want/need.

    I know it’s feeble but don’t knock it. I’m a pragmatist, and I’d rather people be progressive and compassionate, than not! I’d rather they do good things because they’re Xians, than not bother!

    Basically I believe there are fundamentally 2 (okay maybe 3) types of people: the generous (can’t think of a better word) and the selfish. Religion and politics (no difference, really) are used to justify both attributes and to control the masses!

    I”m saying that whatever shit you believe, your actions in the world are far more important, that how you treat other people is what counts. Treat others, as you want to be treated. That, I think is Xian, or at least that’s what I took from what I was taught.

    • says

      Tell that to a gay man killed by a religious idiot. Or one how a gay son commited sucide and the church shields the mother from the knowledge cause she would be ashamed”….

    • FarEastPoke says

      ‘Frankly, I would still take some Xians over atheist Tories or (US) Republicans’

      Apparently you are unaware of the historical FACT that it was US Republicans (some of whom were Atheist) who put an end to slavery in the US — or ARE you? Do you hate Churchill and Lincoln too?

      • Lord Narf says

        Not really relevant. The Republican Party of the time was not anything like the Republican Party as it has been for the past 50 or 60 years. If a liberal party keeps its name but gradually morphs into an ultra-conservative party, do they get to lay claim to all of the advances they championed, back when they were liberal?

        That’s exactly what the Republicans are doing, when they point out that Lincoln was a Republican. Because a party with our name on it freed black people from slavery, all black people should support our party in its attempts to take away rights from black and brown people. What kind of idiotic reasoning is that?
        That’s something akin to an equivocation fallacy, now that I think about it.

        It’s not even a matter of flip-flopping. The Republicans and Democrats weren’t even lined up along the liberal/conservative demarcation line, back in the 1800′s. For example, Republicans of the Civil War era were for STRONG central government and unlimited free enterprise, but the parties were all over the damned map, when it came to social issues. The Democratic/Republican, progressive/regressive (not just conservative, anymore; actually regressive) stance on social issues is a rather modern alignment.

      • P J Knight says

        Oh my FSM, another drive-by comment (sometimes I wish I had a gun to blow my own brains out).

        I try not to hate anyone. There are exceptions to every rule, and you even get good Tories and Republicans, some times. And good Xians, atheists and muslims, too! Ho hum.

        • Lord Narf says

          If I could add a point, though …
          Aren’t most of the good Christians and Muslims you know the ones who reject pretty much everything in their holy books? They’re almost new-agey, warm, fuzzy theists, not even deserving of the label Christian (or whatever). If you take a read through their holy book and can find almost no reconciliation between that and their behavior, then what are we supposed to make of it all?

          • P J Knight says

            Yeah, you’re probably right, but then again the actual historical evidence for the Jesus of the gospels is pretty slim anyway (just how many messianical Yeshuas were there running around the Holy Lands at that time?) and the New Testament books were chosen by the Romans to help them cultivate their own (political) ends, and there were many other testaments they chose not to include which didn’t agree with them.

            I think at its roots Xianity wasn’t doctrinaire, and interpretation was probably its strong suit and is one of the reasons why it has survived as long as it has (I exclude mass murder and torture for the sake of the argument, but The Reformation came along despite that)..

            You get people describing themselves as Atheist Xians! And I’ve known Anglican priests who barely believe in God, and don’t even subscribe to the idea of Jesus’ divinity, so…?

          • Lord Narf says

            Oh, well yeah, if you want to introduce later insertions into the Gospels; the forgery of 6 or 7 of Paul’s letters; the likely forgery of the Acts of the Apostles; later Christian corruption of the Jewish holy texts, for the purposes of making it look like Jesus is the Messiah …

            We’re looking at a complete cluster-fuck, by that point. :D Even if we had documents written in the hand of the apostles, which weren’t corrupted beyond belief, it wouldn’t be enough for me to buy it. And what we actually have isn’t even close to that.

            And, umm … dude, you’re being far too generous in saying that the actual historical evidence for Jesus is slim. It’s non-existent. The one non-Christian source, within a couple hundred years of Jesus’s supposed life, that actually mentions Jesus himself, is almost certainly a later interpolation (forged insertion) by early Christian scholars. They’ve got freaking nothing.

        • Lord Narf says

          Hell, the real Ronald Reagan, rather than the mythologized version, would be kicked out of today’s Republican Party for being too liberal.

      • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

        As the commenter is a Brit, Lincoln is irrelevant – however, Churchill was a rather nasty piece of work but, possibly because of this, was the right person for wartime Britain. Not sure if you’re aware that he was voted out of office pretty much as soon as the war was finished.

        And anyway, do you seriously think that the Republicans at the time of abolition have the same policies as the Republicans today?

        History – you are doing it wrong.

    • Monocle Smile says

      The Golden Rule is not exclusive nor original to Christianity despite their incoherent screaming to the contrary.

      The problem is that none of the good things advocated by Christianity require it. They’re all possible through rational thought and decision-making. It’s the nasty baggage that requires Christianity.

    • says

      >Frankly, I would still take some Xians over atheist Tories or (US) Republicans (I caveat because I would describe myself as a socialist & a republican (& so be rid of our over-indulged royals – I would have Oliver Cromwell as a hero, if I had such things & he wasn’t such a religious nutter).

      And I know many Christians I prefer over many atheists. But that has zero to do with what the doctrine’s core tenets teach. I don’t think I said in my article that Christians are shitty people and atheists are always better than Christians?

      >In the UK the church is stepping up to deal with the pay day loaners (might be futile and come to nought)! And they are also helping to set up food banks & such (that we need them is appalling – thank you Tory scum-bags). I’m not saying that the church is a good thing (FSM or Gaia forbid) but there are good Xians (by which I mean they are anti-capitalist/materialist, obviously).

      That has ZERO to do with this post. This post was not saying—in any way anyone could twist it—that Christians are not good people and do nothing helpful. It was about one Christian’s lie to his friend that Christianity is just teaching people to be nice. It’s not. In fact, that has almost nothing to do with the core tenets of the religion—which focuses on Salvation through faith in Jesus. Whether the people are “good” or not—is not relevant—since you can be a repeated awful person and still be a Christian and still be acceptable to god through the blood of Jesus. According to the religion—a repeat child rapist and someone who lies to save someone else’s feelings—both deserve death for their wicked action. God deems the lie and the rape equally “sinful.” And both are just as worthy of heaven if they accept Jesus—even if they go on raping and lying to be kind. The religion does not judge by deeds, but by faith in god. Am I glad most of them are good citizens? Yes. But if they claim that as their religion’s core tenets, they’re lying, and they know it, and I will correct that lie.

      If they want to promote “be nice,” I’m all for it. If they want to shroud it in “the human race is so wicked it’s irredeemable on its own merits, and all humans should die,” that’s not something I’m for. That’s something I’m against. Teaching children they are evil, and all humans are evil, and every human would, by rights, deserves execution (or worse, torture), is, itself, a great evil.

      > Without Jesus they’d probably be socialists and/or humanists anyway,

      I agree. So, let’s extract the bad, and keep the good.

      > but their religion helps them justify their good works.

      No, it doesn’t. There are people you just mentioned who do these things and justify them just fine without “god.” The same god that justifies good deeds justifies atrocities. “Divine right” just makes the person—whatever their agenda—feel above judgment or reproach; feel they don’t have to question or examine. I prefer people to actually understand WHY their actions are justified—not assume they are because a god told them to do it.

      > People take out of the scriptures what they want/need.

      Precisely. But my point is that there are core tenets of the religion—and it’s entirely dishonest for any Christian to say their religion is just about “teaching people to be nice.” Nice people may use some verses to align with their pre-existing beliefs—but that has ZERO to do with Christianity—which is, at its core, “Salvation through Faith in Christ Jesus.”

      >I know it’s feeble but don’t knock it.

      If they wouldn’t teach such toxic shit, I wouldn’t. If they really were just putting out a good message, and not wrapping it in toxicity—this post wouldn’t exist.

      > I’m a pragmatist, and I’d rather people be progressive and compassionate, than not! I’d rather they do good things because they’re Xians, than not bother!

      Quoting you: “Without Jesus they’d probably be socialists and/or humanists anyway…”

      >Basically I believe there are fundamentally 2 (okay maybe 3) types of people: the generous (can’t think of a better word) and the selfish. Religion and politics (no difference, really) are used to justify both attributes and to control the masses!

      So, in essence, religion does nothing. The good people use it to justify good. The bad people use it to justify bad. But they’re all ultimately going to do what they’re inclined to do—anyway. The problem is I’ve met too many ex-theists who admit they adopted hateful, bigoted views, at the urging of their church’s teachings, and were never comfortable with those teachings (sexism, homophobia, etc.), but promoted them ANYWAY—because the religion teaches that god knows better, and if you feel it’s wrong—you just don’t understand it, and it’s wrong to question. It actually *can* make good people do bad things.

      >I”m saying that whatever shit you believe, your actions in the world are far more important,

      I agree. This post was not about actions. It was about what the religion actually TEACHES. What is Christian doctrine/dogma? This person was lied to. I told them the truth. What I did NOT say was “your friend is a bad person who can’t do any good in the world.” I merely alerted them that Christianity is not about “be nice.” It’s about Salvation through Faith. That is what they’re main teaching is. “Be nice” can be derived from some of it—but it’s in no way the main message of the religion. At best it’s a sideline.

      > that how you treat other people is what counts. Treat others, as you want to be treated. That, I think is Xian, or at least that’s what I took from what I was taught.

      That is one line in a book that weighs a couple pounds. And if that’s what you took away from it—that’s like .00000001% of the content. If you were to say “that is what Christianity teaches,” I’d say you’re badly misrepresenting historically accepted Christian doctrines, most of the Bible, and most of what is preached in most pulpits on Sunday mornings.

      • Lord Narf says

        If they wouldn’t teach such toxic shit, I wouldn’t. If they really were just putting out a good message, and not wrapping it in toxicity—this post wouldn’t exist.

        You know, I giggle like a little girl, every time you curse on here and on GB, Tracie. Something about the extreme dynamic between the professorial way in which you present yourself on TAE and your more relaxed presentation elsewhere. The profanity is just more expected from the rest of the crew, for some reason.

        Sorry, totally random, I know.

      • P J Knight says

        Thanks for the well considered reply.

        Not sure I have the energy or inclination to do like-wise.

        I do not want to put myself in the position of attempting to defend the indefensible.

        Of course the idea of Original Sin is a spectacularly hideous notion, and as you say it is a big lie to boot, but from my experiences being taught Religion (as RE) at two CoE schools (from the age of 5 & which included an exam at the age of 16) I would argue that those aren’t the core beliefs of all versions of Xianity. As I said above, Xianity is all about interpretation. I think perhaps that the Gnostics and Catharists would disagree with it too. & didn’t Augustine dream up the idea of Original Sin, anyway? You might argue like Lord Narf above that that isn’t really Xianity, but I would beg to differ. Given that most of its beliefs derive from other religions anyway! The Roman Church cobbled together a whole load of stuff to ensure their power.

        Anglican Xianity at the time I was being schooled was basically pretty tepid, and inoffensive, and I bear it no ill will. (My only issue with my secondary schooling is that Tenison’s was a single sex school! No girls until 6th form!! And yes, it was generally shit, but that’s just school). I was taught by what were probably, relatively speaking, quite progressive Xians of the day, and nothing like the Hell-fire & Brimstone of latter-day fundamentalists. They talked about metaphors, and allegories a lot. I don’t think that they took the bible that literally. I dunno, maybe they were secretly atheist!

        • says

          I do believe a good portion are. There was a Catholic on Seth Andrew’s show THE THINKING ATHEIST and he was basically saying “Look, I only go to church to socialize, I don’t believe a good portion of it.” I kinda admired the guy though, cause when Seth and JT Ebenhard asked the hard questions he was honest enough to say “You now, I don’t know” or “I admit I haven’t really thought about that too hard.” I saw him as either a Deist or an Atheist. But as he admitted, he was raised Catholic and I think certain rituals become comforting over time. That and the idea of being alone in the Universe is too frightening a thought for some to make that plunge. I agree with J T though, that while the guys was kewl, believing in untrue things is not wholly harmless.. We don’t live in vaccums, other people’s actions can affect us. Also, our thoughts do inform our choices, like sincere and loving parents who pray over a sick child only to have him or her die. I am with Matt–let us all endeavor to believe as many true things as we can.

          • P J Knight says

            It’s funny but if you remove all the supernatural aspects from the Jesus mythology, what exactly do you have left? Something harmless, perhaps?

            But I agree a lot of people stay in the church they were brought up in because of the social side of things, and it can be hard to leave for that reason, but also find the rituals comforting. Many people in the UK only go to Church for Weddings and maybe funerals (though in large urban centres more likely a service of some sort at a crematorium). Certainly a Xian friend of mine found a few of his girlfriends at the Church he went to in South London. I personally like going into Churches and Cathedrals, but see in them monuments to man, rather than to a deity.

            Essentially I have for a long time divided the religious urge, and organised religion. I see the former as a basic human need (to make sense of the world around us),and the latter is (mostly) a tool for political control (which uses and and sometimes abuses that very human frailty).

            I think some people need something story-able to make sense of the world (YE Creationists are very child-like in this respect); for them science and the actual reality is too abstract. And the scale of the universe itself can be terrifying, rather than awe-inspiring (the gods of the old and new testaments are pretty small and feeble when compared to the reality).

          • says

            Makes me wonder though, if we will ever eradicate religion if some poeple are holding onto it, not for intellectual reasons, but for emotional and social ones.

          • Lord Narf says

            It’s funny but if you remove all the supernatural aspects from the Jesus mythology, what exactly do you have left? Something harmless, perhaps?

            Uh, dude, have you read the Bible? :D
            There are a lot of fucked up laws, social standards, and advice. Love thy neighbor is definitely on the minority end of things, in terms of good and bad advice in the Bible. Decent people just tend to overlook all of the horror that is in there and focus on the small amount of good stuff.

            Read the thing cover-to-cover sometime, as I have. You’ll be appalled, and not just at the Old Testament.

          • P J Knight says

            I’ve not read the bible except in parts since school (went through it verse by verse in RE Class for my ‘O’ Level).

            And of course the Old and New Testaments are filled with odious material, but I see them as not the only resource for a view on Xianity – remember they are a collection put together by the Roman Church in the 4th century for a specific purpose. The apocrypha, the Gnostic Xian texts, and various other early versions can lead us to alternate view… (perhaps!)

            I wasn’t that serious about it all being harmless, but unfortunately some people need rules to live by.

            Alicia,

            I like to think that we will evolve beyond a need for Religion and its institutions.

          • says

            I do indeed hope so, not to quote the bile but mankind does need to put away childish things and walk on our own two feet…

        • Lord Narf says

          To add to what Alicia said …
          I experienced a lot of the same thing, growing up Catholic, here in the US. As an altar boy, I knew (no, not knew, in the biblical sense) a lot of the priests a lot better than most of the rest of the congregation.

          I’d swear, a few of the priests I knew were either atheists or deists who just believed in the good that the church did (this was before the child rape scandal broke, obviously). One priest that I particularly remember dismissed damned near every supernatural event in the bible, when I asked him about all of the miraculous claims and why we don’t see anything of the sort, nowadays.

          • says

            I know The Exorcist is not a great example, but I recall being surprised that one of the priests in it seemed to dismiss the devil as being symbolic of man’s innate sinful nature. I was surprised by the idea cause I had always thought Catholics took the bible literally. That piqued my curiosity and years later I did a bit of research to learn the beliefs of Catholic theologians run the gambit. Fascinating that even within the organization itself there can be various spins even among the leaders of the flock.

          • P J Knight says

            Alice,

            Yeah, fascinating. And numerous Protestant denominations, all with their own truth too!

          • says

            Just wondering though–what is the big dividing line between Catholics and Protestants? They look a lot alike to me.

          • Lord Narf says

            More seriously, though, there was originally just the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The Protestants are everyone else who broke away from the Catholic Church.

            The Catholics follow Papal authority, at least in theory. The Protestants … don’t.

            It’s kind of funny, because the Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther trying to reform the Catholic Church. Most of the Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church, after that. The Lutherans were thrown out.

          • P J Knight says

            “Just wondering though–what is the big dividing line between Catholics and Protestants? They look a lot alike to me”

            Big subject, wars were fought over the differences in the 16th & 17th centuries! But mainly over the perceived power and corruption of the Roman Church, and the position of The Pope.

            btw the way there was a very interesting programme on BBC TV a couple of weeks ago about the translating of the Bible into English by William Tyndale in the 15th Century, and how it undermined the priestly class… and was actually banned for a time (bit too revolutionary for the powers that be – enabling the common man to actually not need the priests to interpret the bible for them).

          • says

            What I find darkly amusing though is how the two sides hash it out over a sliver of doctrinal change. It would be like twins having a row over the fact that one of them dyed their hair blond…lol

          • Lord Narf says

            I don’t know that I would call the translation of the Bible into common tongues to be a small thing. Up until that point, the only connection that the commoners had to Jesus was through their priest. It looks small on paper, but like most of the other doctrinal issues, the practical effect was profound.

          • chris lowe says

            Just to illustrate one example of running the gamut under the umbrella of the Catholic Organization, the originator of the Big Bang theory was a priest; Georges Lemaitre.

      • xavierninnis4191 says

        “So, in essence, religion does nothing. The good people use it to justify good. The bad people use it to justify bad. But they’re all ultimately going to do what they’re inclined to do—anyway. The problem is I’ve met too many ex-theists who admit they adopted hateful, bigoted views, at the urging of their church’s teachings, and were never comfortable with those teachings (sexism, homophobia, etc.), but promoted them ANYWAY—because the religion teaches that god knows better, and if you feel it’s wrong—you just don’t understand it, and it’s wrong to question. It actually *can* make good people do bad things

        Indeed, hence: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
        ― Steven Weinberg

      • steele says

        heicart,

        I love how you completely distort what Christians believe and then attack the straw man you have created. It is very unoriginal and pretty pathetic. It is typical atheist rant of little substance. Why do atheists think if they shout louder that will make their weak points stronger?

        you state in your original post

        “And some churches think every human deserves to be tortured for eternity—just because we are human, and that is how horrible every human being is.

        I think that is a horrible lesson for children. I think people are good. Sometimes we can do bad things. But we are basically good people—most of us. We do not deserve to die. We do not deserve to be tortured or tormented forever. That is awful.”

        Let me ask you heicart, why do atheists get so offended at Hell when they don’t even believe in it? I have never really understood that. What do you think the punishment should be for offending a Holy Perfect God who sent His Son to die for you and you reject? You don’t like God’s solution to the problem humanity created for itself! Nice gratitude!

        Tell me what you think God should do, force you into heaven as you spit in his face?

        Hebrews 10:28-31

        28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

        • says

          >I love how you completely distort what Christians believe and then attack the straw man you have created.

          I don’t love how you make this claim and then cite zero examples of where I’ve done this anywhere in my article, in any of your post.

          >It is very unoriginal and pretty pathetic. It is typical atheist rant of little substance. Why do atheists think if they shout louder that will make their weak points stronger?

          Your assessment would have more impact if you could illustrate, again, where I’ve done what you suggest. Like me, many atheists are ex-theists who were very active in their churches and proselytizing. I think we do know what we were taught. But if you think we’re not being honest about what we were taught or what Christians are currently teaching—I’m happy to respond to any examples you’d like to provide from my post.

          >you state in your original post

          >>”And some churches think every human deserves to be tortured for eternity—just because we are human, and that is how horrible every human being is.

          >>I think that is a horrible lesson for children. I think people are good. Sometimes we can do bad things. But we are basically good people—most of us. We do not deserve to die. We do not deserve to be tortured or tormented forever. That is awful.”

          Yes, I stated that Christians teach this. And they do. I am happy to cite many sources online. In fact, anyone who would like to research it themselves has little to do but Google “Why do we need salvation?” to see for themselves that what I’ve suggested is 100 percent correct. And what I find very interesting is that after claiming I’m misrepresenting and distorting what Christians teach—you then post an example of something I said, but don’t dispute at all that it is, in fact, what Christians teach. Would you like to support your *original* criticism of the content before trailing off into this separate issue?

          >Let me ask you heicart, why do atheists get so offended at Hell when they don’t even believe in it?

          Because it reflects what other people DO believe. It’s like someone calling another person a racist or sexist label. A woman or person in a minority demographic does not have to believe the claim they are what the awful label suggests, in order to be offended. The offense comes at the realization that there are people so pig ignorant that they are willing to adopt hateful and harmful anti-[fill in the demographic] beliefs, for very stupid reasons—such as pure prejudice. In the case of Christians, like with racism, it’s generally just what they’ve been taught, and have not questioned. They have been taught some disgusting, dehumanizing teachings, and when they grow up, they espouse this as “my personal belief”—and don’t really understand the implications of advocating a thing like “normal human beings are so despicable as to deserve torture and/or death.” In any other case, they likely would be no more supportive of torturing a person for anything they’d done, any more than any other empathetic human being. Their religion has turned them into monsters—who hate humanity. That is what makes it offensive, not the idea that hell is real.

          >I have never really understood that.

          In that case, I’m very glad you asked, so that I could explain and clarify. Even if you still don’t understand, there is a high likelihood that other theists who are open to understanding the views of others—whether they adopt them or not—will be better educated by your question.

          >What do you think the punishment should be for offending a Holy Perfect God who sent His Son to die for you and you reject?

          If the god of the Bible exists, and the one most Christians put forward, then that god created all things with full fore-knowledge of how it would play out, before he pushed the “start” button. All of this, then, was his plan, as intended. When it did exactly what he knew it would—and what he set it up TO do—he then felt justified to kill most living things and then call “DO OVER” with a flood. After that, knowing that the Flood he was sending would fail—and that he set it up TO fail from before the start of the universe, as he knows all things—he then decided that wholesale animal slaughter was the way to go. Later, he decided animals weren’t good enough, and he wanted to do a human sacrifice. People had no say or vote in this bizarre and brutal blood bath god enforced upon them. This was all god’s plan and doing. Then god sent himself to become human and be his own human sacrifice to himself. It’s ironic that Christianity hinges on a human sacrifice, even more than 2,000 years later—but there it is. So, god takes an innocent man and uses him as a brutal human sacrifice (without necessity, I might add), to “atone” for the horrors of humanity—things like “not keeping the Sabbath” and making sculptures and eating shell fish. Surely anyone can comprehend why god needed someone brutally executed to atone for such wickedness as that? So, god does this freakish human sacrifice thing that he thought was a really great idea, and somehow other people need to feel badly about it?

          It’s like if you didn’t like that I slept in on Saturdays, declared it wrong, and then killed your own child to help yourself forgive me for that evil misdeed. Then you declare I’m awful for not appreciating what you’d done for me. I’d think that was a fairly lunatic thing for you—or anyone—to do. God made up these wacky laws. God decided they were so heinous generation after generation had to be slaughtered for it. God decided that he would only accept a human sacrifice to not torture everyone for all this other stuff he also decided. THAT, is one psychotic personality.

          > You don’t like God’s solution to the problem humanity created for itself! Nice gratitude!

          Humanity had no say in this. If god had perfect foreknowledge and created the universe—then god orchestrated all of this. It’s all according to plan. And yes—if he decides to “fix” it with some really wacked out method—that’s also *his* responsibility. The fact he chose something so brutal and insane, and that Christians praise and love that—speaks volumes about how messed up religion can make people.

          >Tell me what you think God should do, force you into heaven as you spit in his face?

          No, I think YOU should have more sense than to agree with such a god that being human is sufficient justification to torture or execute ANYONE. Would you like your country to begin torturing people for crimes? Should a thief be tortured? If our legislature suggested that, would you say that’s justice? I would hope not. So, if actually harming others is not justification for torturing someone—how much less simply being a normal human? Having sex, not attending temple, eating a shrimp? You think these things are just cause to kill or torture people? Really? How has your loyalty as a social animal been so twisted and abused as to make you into such a sociopath?

          >Hebrews 10:28-31

          >28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

          Thank you for quoting scripture. I have read Hebrews—many times. But it doesn’t hurt to read it yet again. In the end let me just point out you never gave any example of how I distorted the Christian teaching. You simply agreed with my claims about what is taught—but said you agree with the teachings and think they are justified. You seem to be confusing the fact that I do NOT agree with it and I do not think it is good or healthy for humans, with being synonymous with distorting what is said. Those are not the same things. Your original criticism remains unsupported. And your further commentary is just an affirmation that Christians really do believe this hideous, dehumanizing teaching. Thank you for you unwitting confirmation.

          • steele says

            heicart,
            You are right, in my little rant I didn’t clearly identify the issues with your article that I find wrong and distorted. I didn’t make a very good case at all, so thank you for the correction. I apologize for that as well I think I just reacted instead of providing an honest critique. I do think though your article is a caricature of what Christians truly believe, which makes it hard to critique because while you get some of the main features correct, you portray the beliefs in a cartoonish manner.

            Really if I to pick apart your article the one part I find an actual distortion is where you say:

            “And some churches think every human deserves to be tortured for eternity—just because we are human, and that is how horrible every human being is.”

            This is not what Christians believe, the doctrine of sin says we humans who had free will disobeyed God and for this disobedience we became separated from God and the punishment is death. It is not because we are just “human” it is for disobedience.

            I know this a minor point but you wanted an example of what I meant. I mean I could point out you don’t discuss the grace and mercy of God through the atonement of Christ but then again I wouldn’t expect too and it’s not fair I guess to discuss what you didn’t mention but it is bothersome.

            I don’t mean to gloss over your original article however I do have a few issues with your response to my response. I will just highlight the main points but if you want we can discuss the finer points as well.

            1) you state and I want to quote it fully:

            “Because it reflects what other people DO believe. It’s like someone calling another person a racist or sexist label. A woman or person in a minority demographic does not have to believe the claim they are what the awful label suggests, in order to be offended. The offense comes at the realization that there are people so pig ignorant that they are willing to adopt hateful and harmful anti-[fill in the demographic] beliefs, for very stupid reasons—such as pure prejudice. In the case of Christians, like with racism, it’s generally just what they’ve been taught, and have not questioned. They have been taught some disgusting, dehumanizing teachings, and when they grow up, they espouse this as “my personal belief”—and don’t really understand the implications of advocating a thing like “normal human beings are so despicable as to deserve torture and/or death.” In any other case, they likely would be no more supportive of torturing a person for anything they’d done, any more than any other empathetic human being. Their religion has turned them into monsters—who hate humanity. That is what makes it offensive, not the idea that hell is real.”

            I’m sorry you feel Christians are monsters who hate humanity, I understand what you are saying and I can see from your point of view how you can think that but to compare Christian beliefs to racism I think is just ignorant. I get the fact you don’t like the thought that humans could possibly be evil and deserve condemnation, even though there is plenty of evidence through history both atheists and through religion of man’s inhumanity towards man. But to critique a theological, or reality which ever you prefer, doctrine of hell and sin by comparing it to racism is a straw man argument and it frankly is offensive that you resort to this canard to make your point. Christians are commanded to love our neighbors, meaning all humanity. You are also committing the genetic fallacy, criticizing how Christians came to this belief and whether the belief is true or not.

            2) Most of the rest of your responses are pretty much the same emotional laden pleading of not thinking God is fair and just and not liking the way He runs His universe and name calling so I will just address one other point you raise that I think is legitimate.

            You state:

            “If the god of the Bible exists, and the one most Christians put forward, then that god created all things with full fore-knowledge of how it would play out, before he pushed the “start” button. All of this, then, was his plan, as intended.”

            and

            “Humanity had no say in this. If god had perfect foreknowledge and created the universe—then god orchestrated all of this. It’s all according to plan. And yes—if he decides to “fix” it with some really wacked out method—that’s also *his* responsibility.”

            You are right when you say God foreknew what would happen, he did know some would be lost and I agree with you hell (or as you refer to it a torture chamber) is tough to reconcile with an all loving God and the free will defense isn’t the most comforting answer, which by the way I would disagree where you say Humanity had no say in this, we did but we failed. We all freely fell in Adam and can all be reconciled through Faith in Christ. I know you find this repulsive. I know you atheists don’t like William Lane Craig either and think he is a con man but I do think his work on Molinism is interesting, whether it is true or not I don’t know but maybe it can help you with some of your questions about divine foreknowledge, predestination, and free will ( if you have any that is).

            3) Lastly

            Tracie,

            I know you think I am some sick sociopath, I get where you are coming from, I was an atheist for a long time as well, so I get your criticisms and I wouldn’t try and talk with you or try and convince you if I didn’t think this was true. I know you know the arguments and have heard this from alot of different people, so I get if this is just white noise at this point for you. I didn’t realize who you were when I sent the original post but I do want to say of all the people on The Atheist Experience I think you are one of the better ones, I like Aron Ra to but that could be just cause his name is kinda cool, lol. But seriously I think only you and him take seriously the people that call in and try to hear their perspective despite how you may disagree with it, the rest are well not so great or impressive, so anyway thanks for that as well.

            I do think you care about humanity, just based on your responses, I can tell you are a good person who cares. I just know myself and I know I am not a good person on the inside, so maybe I need God more than you do. I do know I wouldn’t care about humanity because of some herd mentality though or some evolutionary pressure to do so, I don’t want to start a whole separate topic about objective moral duties and values but just saying.

            I really do appreciate the fact that when I quoted the Bible you weren’t offended and I was really surprised how respectful you were, so thank you for that. I really mean this and am not just saying this to be polite, some atheists immediately dismiss Christians when the Bible is quoted so I hope you don’t mind just a couple more quotes and not to irritate you, just because I do care about you as a person, despite what you might think. I don’t just say that I don’t have time to be phony or try and con you, I don’t think it would work with you anyway.

            Take care, thanks

            Romans 8:28-30

            28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

            Ephesians 1:3-10

            3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

        • cafeeineaddicted says

          Hi Steele,

          “I love how you completely distort what Christians believe and then attack the straw man you have created”

          Here’s the thing: Looking at your views and saying they’re they are not as great as you think they are is not a misrepresentation. We know you think your God is the bees’ knees. We disagree.

          “What do you think the punishment should be for offending a Holy Perfect God who sent His Son to die for you and you reject?”

          Here’s what I find interesting: To take offense would require that someone be dependent on something or someone else to maintain their happiness. To do so would be less than perfect. Therefore a Holy Perfect God could never be offended, so that statement alone is contradictory and the situation it describes absurd. Christian beliefs are littered with such contradictions.
          Now, you might again say that I’m misrepresenting the christian views, because Christians clearly don’t think their god is absurd. But I’m not misstating your views, I’m just explaining why they’re wrong.

  4. Tim H. says

    One of the spooky, Orwellian aspects of Christianity to me is that, while I admit this is boiled down and stripped of nuance, their core beliefs include: A newborn baby deserves to be tortured, and not just briefly.

    Kinda makes me prefer science, which boils down to: Nobody’s perfect, so science exists to compensate for all the error. With massive amounts of compensation over a long time.

  5. says

    Oh, I did and I was with yah on some of it, but then you ended with, “Well, most Xtians folks are just kinda taught/trying/thinking of being nice and that’s what their religion is supposed to be about…do unto others, yah know…” Well now, I got two words fer yah. Bull and shit. Paragraphs of platitudes and candy coating is not going to make such a gross lie remotely palatable. The “well it is, after all, a love doctrine at heart” is a bogus concept when we conside all the horrors that are perpetuated even today in the name of god–EVEN IN THE US. As I said, “it’s SUPPOSED to be about being nice,” doesn’t mean it IS a nice doctrine, and this silly affirmation is of little consolation to the men, women and children oppressed by the same so called “nice” folks. So called nice Xtians are also complacent about the world around them, allowing injustices to be perpetuated so long as their god’s name is promoted. In the end, whatever motivation of the believer, or how they take out the nice bits and ignore the complete immorality of their holy books, religion is not good and it is NOT NICE. In other words, it isn’t as innocous as you make it sound. Now, if you meant anything OTHER than what I just surmised well, IMHO, you didn’t make your true point clear.

    • P J Knight says

      I spent a lot of time and effort making what I thought were relevant and salient points, yet still you managed to drive right past them.

      I’m not defending Xianity or all types of Xians, but actions speak louder than words, or actual beliefs, and as I said, as a socialist, I’d take some Xians over a lot of atheists any day of the week.

      • Paul Wright says

        I hear what you’re saying. I’m an atheist (I’d also accept anti-theist) who lives in the UK like you. Also like you I think a little socialism is a good thing in government. Our NHS system for example is the envy of most of the world despite what the American Republican propaganda machine wants Americans to believe. I also agree with you on your point about the political parties and being either a selfish of generous person. Although I’d prefer the term liberal to generous. The conservative right are some of the most selfish bigoted people in our society.

        Where I differ is that you say :

        I’d take some Xians over a lot of atheists any day of the week.

        Personally, I find that most atheists have a far more liberal outlook that even moderate Christians. I find atheists for the most part are far more tuned into issues of equality. Whereas, even some good intentioned Christians can be quite bigoted when it comes to things like gay marriage etc.

        Any demographic has it’s anomalies of course, but I think as a general trend, at least from my experience, Christians have quite some ground to make up before they can even begin to claim that secular morality is some how inferior to their divine authored absolute morality.

        • P J Knight says

          I didn’t use the term liberal because of the political over-tones in this context! (I feel betrayed by the Liberals getting into bed with the Tories!).

          I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with your final point, but atheists these days can be so bloody self-righteous and confrontational it aggravates me! That’s why I always describe myself in other terms, such as being a secular humanist. My atheism isn’t a belief but an incredulity, I don’t think it informs my core values.

      • Monocle Smile says

        “The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.”
        -Edmund Burke

        Yes, actions are more important than raw beliefs. However, my foremost criticism of religious moderates is their apparently unwillingness to call out extremists because they’re still “on their side.” This is a major problem in the US; there’s very little in-house opposition to the Pat Robertsons and Ted Haggards of the world. So it’s not that Christians can’t be good people who leave other people alone, but it’s that their beliefs prevent them from taking action against those who ARE wreaking havoc in the name of their religion.

        • says

          The point to me, that is inescapable, is that their CORE doctrine is that all humanity is evil and should be executed by rights. And they have no problem teaching this to children, and even, in many cases, including children in their “everyone deserves to die” category. They believe Jesus was executed where YOU should have been–and YOU means EVERYONE–very often even children. What sort of message it THAT for a child? “God thinks you ought to be dead–and I agree”?

          Considering what the religion ACTUALLY teaches, it’s a wonder there are as many nice Christians as there are.

          • Lord Narf says

            It would be more moral if they stopped at execution, for that matter … although I guess the annihilation doctrine that some fuzzy Christians teach would be a fair metaphor for execution.

          • Paul Wright says

            I agree. This whole concept of original sin leading to a cult based on a human sacrifice which binds everyone to being wicked AT BIRTH ! and needing to be saved is indeed a wicked creation from my point of view, although I understand fully how Christians have a diametric view.

            Tie this in with the eschatological element, that is to say that this life is only a trial run, then essentially you are telling children two abhorrent life lessons. You tell them they are wicked and you tell them not to live this life to the full.

      • says

        I don’t think so. It’s all well and good to laud the Christians who go about doing good works, but when you take a closer look, you’re inevitably going to find something ugly: support for laws that make women reproductive slaves or that deny basic civil rights to people in same-sex relationships or that seek to make it a crime to ridicule religious doctrines or that allow parents to miseducate their children (even on the public dime). The warm, fuzzy do-gooder Christians are often the same ones who think we *must* have a religious society in order for there to be peace and good order (it does it for them, right?), and are first in line to maintain prayer at council meetings and school functions because Tradition. Sure, march with me to protest racism or capitalist excess, but I’m going to turn right around and march against so-called “benign” Christianity, cuz it ain’t so nice and just at all.

        • says

          Thanks so much for getting why I find the “nice” argument one of the most dangerous and ill informed. People seem afraid to counter the “well, they are nice” argument on the idea that the person speaking up seems like a jerk, but I am of the idea that it is this kind of passive aggressive bs that keeps current social evil thriving.

      • says

        No. I am so sick and tired of the apologists style “Some Christians are just trying be nice and only believe the good bits,” style arguments when religion and the bible cause so much strife. My hubby and I often argue over this one with him asking, “Why do you atheists go after Christianity; many Christians aren’t like those crazy ones.” I agree, but they enable the crazies, because, in their minds, they may be extreme, but hey, at least they are fighting on the side of right. Some Christians are nice is akin to saying well, some slave owners were decent people who didn’t beat their slaves. Yes, some slave owners gave to the community, educated black folks and granted many of them their freedom. That argument almost makes slavery seem palatable. In fact In the south, I hear this very argument from many nice decent god fearing white folks who attempt to tell me that “slavery wasn’t oh so bad.” One even pointed me to a website that made this case. I wanted to puke. I get that some slave owners were nice, but they were still slave owners and slavery was wrong. I also get there are nice people who are Christians and that many atheist can be bastards, but that doesn’t make religion itself okay. Hell, it was the bible and religion that was the foundation of fucking Jim Crow laws that had my dad, a Veteran of the goddamn Vietnam war, sitting in the back of the bus when he got home from said war. It was the bible and religion that, in 1979, had me my sister and my dad going to the back of a Movie theater in Arkansas because, even though Jim Crow was long over, the kindhearted manager of the theater explained people wouldn’t have stood for it if my dad had taken us through he front with the rest of the white folk. Nice Christian folks did that you see. It was a religious family that I was babysitting for when a news program came on about a cross being burned on the lawn of a black family that had just moved into a neighborhood. “Such a shame,” the mother said quietly “Why do they always go where they are not wanted.”… That woman was very nice and had always been kind to me so it hurt me and brought tears to my eyes that such a thing could even come from her mouth. Tears still well in my eyes from that memory as I write this and I was in my twenties. I don’t like that implication at all that we need to give them some kind of pat on the back for simply being nice with the BS that is going on and still going on under their so called Christian leaders and under their watch with their permission apparently. Tons of evil have been done by bright, shiny happy people with smiles on their faces. To coin a phrase, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. As I get older I am less inclined to forgive apathy even from good folk, heck, ESPECIALLY from good folk. Being nice is but one aspect in a long list of what decent human being should be. Those who want to simply be around pleasant folks, well yeah I hear yah, who wants strife? That said, IMHO, I’d rather side with a guy who can be a little abrasive and gets on my nerves but gets the job done, than a nice person who bakes cake, visits sick animals and lets racism, sexism and theocracy thrive here. So yeah, fuck that shit.

        • chris lowe says

          Relationships or even conversations borne out of crisis happened all the time. Often there comes about a meeting of the minds. Nothing you have written proves anything about the existence of God. Nor does it pass any test for the miraculous. Nada. You are merely describing 2 people who have an affinity for each other with one that is able to read physical and verbal cues better than most. You then put a cloak of a supernatural aura on it based on nothing other than you were impressed.

          Who is Tara?

        • Lord Narf says

          Sorry, I should have been a little more explanatory there, and perhaps ballistic would have been a better adjective than reactive. You kind of exploded without much of an explanation for why you were exploding.

          You’re dealing with another atheist here, so you can expect reasoning with him to have a greater effect, such as my point above about how most of the “Christians” and “Muslims” that he’s referring to ignore so much of their holy book that I question whether they’re even still deserving of the label, when they’ve progressed to such a point beyond their mythology. He would be better off saying that he could deal with a random, fuzzy theist who adopted the Christian label, for some inexplicable reason, and who would be rejected by 90% of other “Christians”.

          Or at least, if you’re going to explode at his response to your initial explosion, you should go more point-by-point and explain why what he just said was bat-shit insane. At least make the attempt at reasoning, first.

          Now, if we’re dealing with an MRA or some other known quantity of immovable assholery, it’s a little different. You know you’re never going to have an effect on one of those, even if he is an atheist, so I’m not as worried about presenting a reasoned argument.

          • says

            Pretty much. like that lady I mentioned. She came from an upstanding family–had cute kids I adored and a really funny hubby. I used to feel really comfortable around them in spite of them being Catholics and me, at the time, Southern Baptist. When she made that comment about blacks essentially not knowing their place I was floored. When I pointed out that this was America and people should be free to move anywhere they want without harassment her hubby joined in and they both pretty much shouted me down. I never felt quite comfortable around them after that. These are the same kind of folks who claim everyone has the same opportunities in life while thinking that there are certain places darkies shouldn’t go.

        • says

          The problem with religion is that it teaches people to believe that as long as you believe in this deity and be obedient that you are doing good. If someone is conditioned into thinking that they are doing good then they aren’t going to questioned themselves as to whether they are doing good or not. The Christian bible is nothing more then a book of propaganda designed to teach people to become slaves of a god and to do his bidding without question. As an atheist I question this god’s authority as well as it’s existence.

          As an atheist it’s important as to WHAT I believe in not WHO. A theist will believe in a god who’s standards only apply to that paticular believer(s), where as to the atheist who believes in the truth, the truth applies to everyone, so it doesn’t discriminate. Most Christians I know are people who are insecure of their lives because they are insecure about death itself, so they find comfort in believing that as long as they are a Christian who is forgiven that this life is of no consequence and that it’s more important to prepare for the next life. In essence they would rather believe a lie as to know the truth.

          • P J Knight says

            At its dark heart (organised) religion has nothing to do with any god (though it probably began as a putative explanation of the external world, of which gods are a feeble attempt at doing so, though it was probably also an attempt to appease the fear of death), and everything to do with social control (i.e. it’s about power, and wealth).

            Whilst I agree that the bible or the koran is propaganda, it’s not about being a slave to a non-existent god, it is more about ensuring that the powers that be (ie all governments, whether they be monarchies, totalitarian states, or supposed democracies) remain the same (btw I’m not a libertarian, I believe in the social contract, I just believe in greater equality for all).

            Religious sheep are far easier to control than sceptics. The biggest lie that organised religion tells people is that you will get your just deserts in the after-life, thereby accepting the status quo in this one, and not wanting change for the better (for everyone).

            It is a slow march ever onwards and upwards, but it requires real education across the board, for everyone; and only then can the organised religions and power brokers be removed and we can have true freedom, for all.

          • says

            I can concur that the bible was a tool for the powerful to maintain control…when I look at passages in the New Testament that talk about obeying slave masters and oh yeah, remember to pay your taxes, I cringe. I used to buy into this stuff.

          • Lord Narf says

            It is a slow march ever onwards and upwards, but it requires real education across the board, for everyone; and only then can the organised religions and power brokers be removed and we can have true freedom, for all.

            I keep telling myself that these are the death throes of the Moral Majority/Religious Right/Tea Party, finally losing the last of its grip … but Christ, they’re causing so much destruction on their way out.

    • Juan says

      I very much believe in the heavens. I had my time in life that made me question if there was life after death. All of you have your own reasons for challenging religious beliefs. And you have your right to.”The Buddha says, believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.” I would like to share one of my personal experiences. There’s an amazing lady that resides in central California(I’ll call her A). She has helped countless souls find their paths in life. She has never accepted any money for the time she has given to people that have come to her for advise, help, guidence or whatever you want to call it. She is the reincarnation of one of the Tara’s. So, here’s the story:
      A lady( I’ll call her B) working for one of the largest telecommunications in the world making a six figure income was ready to commit suicide. She lost her husband about (1) yr prior. They never had children. And she went into major depression. She told her co-worker that after the last dog her and her deceased husband saved dies. She is going to kill herself. Her co-worker knew of this lady also and convinced both of them to meet. Both of these women are very private people. I happened to be there when they met. The moment (B) walked thru the door, (A) asked her why do you carry your husbands ashes everywhere you go. (B) said how did you know that? I never told anyone that. (B) instantly became very nervous. They sat down a few feet apart and started talking one another. Many thing were said to (B). (A) told (B) to stop drinking herself to sleep. Appeartly one night when she passed out drunk in her home. A fire broke out. (B) didn’t know that the fire ever happened until she woke up. (A) said your deceased husband put out the fire while you were passed out. Other wise you would have died. (A) started to speak to (B) about her husband. How he hasn’t moved on because (b) is falling apart. It was brought up how he died. How the police wouldn’t allow (B) to see her husband because the police weren’t sure if he was murdered. He was fighting a disease that attacked him while jogging and he fell down a cliff and died. (b) was born into a Christian family. (A) noticed (B) had an abortion in her early 20′s with her soon to be husband. (A) told (B) you would’ve had a son. (B) said how did you know that and instantly started crying again. (A) went on to say that (b’s) husband (boyfriend at the time) supported her decision because he loved (b) so much. But, actually wanted to keep the child. (A) said you never named the child. And the child never left her side. But wanted to be named. (A) said the name that (B) would have named the child if she would’ve kept him. (B) said how did you know that. (A) said your heart told me. (B) was in shock of the experience. (B) couldn’t understand how this lady knew everything about her. I noticed that (B) was still even more ready to meet her deceased husband. I explained when you kill yourself, you wont go where your husband is. I hawked (A) to give her the ulitamte gift to say good by to husband for (2) reasons 1) to finally have closure by getting to say good by and (2) maybe her husband could convince her to live her life to the fullest. And then they may see each other again in the next. (B) asked me, what are talking about? At that moment (A) allowed (B’s) husbands spirit in her body. Instantly, (B) understood what I was asking. She got to say good by. They spoke about many things in a matter of minutes. They both cried and said it’s a miracle. After the experience. (B) was worn out with emotion. But, couldn’t thank (A) enough for opening her eyes to live life. About (1) month after (B) sent a letter to (A) stating she hadn’t had a drink since that day. And she is finding herself and her faith in the heavens. And no longer wishes to end her life. (B) thanked her one last time. This was a couple of years ago.
      I shared this with all of you because until we personally experience anything in life. It’s really hard to understand what anyone has gone thru. If anyone would like to chat. Just email me. [email protected]

      • Paul Wright says

        I’m sorry Juan. I read your entire post, but honestly, I’d stopped taking it seriously early on once I’d read :

        She is the reincarnation of one of the Tara’s. So, here’s the story:

        When you say :

        I shared this with all of you because until we personally experience anything in life. It’s really hard to understand what anyone has gone thru.

        I do agree with this, but not in the way you think. It is hard to understand what others have gone through in life unless you have gone through it too and even then your shared experiences will be subjective and so a little different. However, a healthy dose of scepticism prevents me from making a leap of faith and just believing blindly in what you say without any empirical evidence to support your claims in this story.

        If you’re going to start a post with a claim of reincarnation, you’d better be ready to back that claim up with more than just your word before any rational, critical thinker will want to take seriously the rest of your post.

        Here’s my email (as you were kind enough to offer yours) if you’d like to chat —> [email protected]

      • Lord Narf says

        Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of “psychics” and other cold-readers around the world can make similar claims, chosen from the hundreds or thousands of such interactions they’ve had. Is every interaction this woman has this enlightening?

        That’s assuming that your story is anything approaching accurate. We can’t even investigate the claims you’ve made about this person, because we don’t have a single name to work with. You could be referring to a known fraud and con-woman, for all we know.

        I’ve heard many claims of this sort from religious people of all sorts. Strangely, the actual experiences I’ve had in the presence of the people never measured up to the stories told about them. There’s always a huge gulf between the story and the actual events of the story, generated by the reverence of those telling the story.

        You’ve got to give me a hell of a lot more to go on, before I even have the slightest interest in following up on your wild story.

        • says

          Doncha just love how folks want ya to just accept a wild claim on faith and then underline by saying “Until you experience it how can you know ti isn’t true…”

          • Lord Narf says

            Yup. It’s freaking insane. If you can’t know it’s true without experiencing it … what you’re saying is that you need to apply one of the many experiential failures that human recollection suffers from, in order to get an effect. In other words, it’s bullshit.

            If you can’t scientifically study and quantify a scenario, through repeatable experimentation by skeptics, that almost always means that it’s not real. This woman should be tested by James Randi, not even for the money but because the demonstration her abilities to one of the best-known skeptics and the confirmation of those abilities could have such an amazing impact upon society and bring so many people to her true religion.

            If she’s really as enlightened as this guy claims, why wouldn’t she do this or something similar?

      • unfogged says

        That’s a very long string of unsupported assertions. (A) sounds like a con artist who is adept at cold reading. It is far more likely that any specifics she knew came from the mutual acquaintance who introduced them or some similar source than any mystical abilities. People give up a lot of information in casual conversation without even realizing it. Between that and the ability to cold read and people’s tendency to focus on the hits and forget the misses and dead ends there is nothing at all compelling here. Saying things like the following does not make them true except for those gullible enough to just accept them without a shred of proof:
        …She is the reincarnation of one of the Tara’s…
        …(A) said your deceased husband put out the fire while you were passed out. Other wise you would have died…
        …How he hasn’t moved on because (b) is falling apart…
        …(A) noticed (B) had an abortion in her early 20?s with her soon to be husband… (noticed?)
        …(A) told (B) you would’ve had a son…
        …But, actually wanted to keep the child…
        …And the child never left her side. But wanted to be named…
        …(A) said your heart told me…
        …At that moment (A) allowed (B’s) husbands spirit in her body…

        • says

          Yes, even if this event actually happened, one would have to say it is more likely some kind of fraud occurred before one could claim a true paranormal occurrence.

      • says

        If this (A) has such wonderful psychic powers then why didn’t she warn others about what would happen on 9/11? Was her psychic powers on vacation at that time, or what?
        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

          • says

            That’s because there is no such thing as psychic powers. Like any con artist the most important thing to have is a bag of excuses and flawed logic. One good example would be a Dr. Michael Murdock and his redundant sermons about sowing a seed of a $1000′s. Talk about being able to steal from the ignorant.

  6. starskeptic says

    I don’t think it’s clear at all that the questioner thinks Christianity to be ridiculous…

    • Lord Narf says

      Perhaps not explicitly, but there was an implied note of understanding, in the followup response.

          • starskeptic says

            You’re making that assessment on very little information – I don’t think it’s clear at all.

          • Lord Narf says

            I didn’t say it’s clear. I’m just going by regular speech conventions. The complete lack of any further dissenting remarks and the thanks for a response is almost certainly an acceptance of that response and the explanation therein.

  7. JT Rager says

    I loved this episode, if only because it was a home run derby for Russel and Don Baker. Two callers just threw flawed evidence after flawed evidence over and over and each time they just smacked it out of the park. I don’t think I’ve facepalmed so much listening to any other episode of TAE.

  8. P J Knight says

    Btw does this preview button actually work? It doesn’t seem to have any point as what it looks like, isn’t what it looks like on the page!

    • Lord Narf says

      It has a few fucked up applications of the HTML tags. I mostly find it useful to see if I had a typo in a tag that will keep it from working. I’ve screwed up blockquote tags before, which can cause major reading comprehension issues. The link you’re constructing probably won’t appear in context, in the right place, but if it appears at all, in the preview view (below the box you’re constructing your comment within), you know you got the tag right. Same thing with block quote tags and the like. It won’t be exactly right, but it helps guard against bugs like that.

        • Lord Narf says

          Yeah, it could use a bit more precision. I just find it useful for the 3;00 AM posts, to check myself on things that won’t be caught by the spell checker, since pretty much all HTML tags get underlined, anyway. It helps make sure that you haven’t forgotten any closing tags or anything like that.

          Of course, at 3:00 AM, I’m less likely to remember to use it, to check myself …

  9. says

    As I said, I know what you were trying to say but you failed to make your point. Do I think there are some nice Christains–sure. I met many and I have Christian friends. Do I think even the nice ones contribute to the BS in America–yes because they fail to do a damn thing about them pushing creationsim in schools or taking away women’s rights. There is more to being a decent human than being nice, and sometimes you got to be a bit of an ass to change things and get things done, especially when the people in the way are hellbent on keeping you silenced. Sorry if that makes some of us seem abrasive to you. I live in the south where Christians I run into still think Atheists are devil worhippers, MOST think evolution is a lie from hell (one of politicans said that during a campaign) Many I run into even think homosexuals, like my Dad who died from AIDS in 2004, should be killed and they think my marriage to my Irish hubby is a sin and we are both going to hell…When I was a girl it was a Christian counsellor who, upon learning my dad was gay, filed charges with DEFACS to have my sister and I removed from our home…If those are the people you prefer, and that is what you call nice, you can have them!

    • chris lowe says

      Alicia you seem to be a beautiful fish swimming in some mighty polluted waters. Kudos to you for sticking it out. You seem to have found a voice, and a courage to use it. There’s a lucky Irishman, and some children and some gays out there that have come to have a true blue ally! Do you join in public orgs.?

      • says

        Not yet as there is very little here and I don’t have the funds to travel, but I want to do so so bad it makes me want to cry. I give what I can though to GA and national causes, do hands on charity work from time to time in an effort to teach the kiddos to be civic minded. I also support atheist blogs sites and buy merchandise again when money permits. Been a part of a few local protests–one of them televised.

        But as I have kids, I do try to choose battles wisely and speak primarily via votes.

        I mostly vent online and via my blog here as I could very well be lynched being too outspoken here (wish I was joking). In the burb I live in, almost everyone has a gun. But I try to kind of lead by example, I may be a bit vocal here but I am very quiet in person…most folks have no idea what my political ideals are and I don’t get up in folks faces trying to badger them about heir faiths even when they are pricks. I figure if I argue with them then we both look like fools. I suppose here is a way to say the things I never get to say in person due to trying to be civil in the real world.

        Now, if someone asks me what I believe, I am honest. Unfortunately, most assume I am a Christian so the question is rarely asked.

        I hope to one day meet not only the TAE team in person but to also to go to Free Thought to see another Atheist hero of mine, Seth Andrews. Going to endeavor to save up to do it in fact and drag my hubby along… I am dying to go in fact–I really really, really want to be around more people like myself. To illustrate how rare it is to meet another atheist here. I was at a doctor’s office– gyno doc, who learned I was both a writer and a atheist ( my religion was asked about on the new patient application form and I was honest. My hubby said I should have said I was agnostic…lol) Anyhoo she says, while doing her thing she says, “So, I see you are a freelance writer…”

        When I affirmed this she then goes on to say, “Well, you know, He is the one who gives us our talents. He makes sure we all get what we need to survive in this world…”

        I didn’t say shit to her but of course I am not going back.

        I was soothing the breeze with one woman I know casually via business associations, discussing numerous topics while she worked. I mentioned how I questioned things and felt I didn’t have real answers to anything but I don’t think god exist. Assuming this made me simply “agnostic” she said, “You seem real humble, not arrogant like those know it all atheists…”

        *ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh* Please, please, please, come to GA TAE!!!!

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      Do I think even the nice ones contribute to the BS in America–yes because they fail to do a damn thing about them pushing creationsim in schools or taking away women’s rights. There is more to being a decent human than being nice, and sometimes you got to be a bit of an ass to change things and get things done, especially when the people in the way are hellbent on keeping you silenced.

      Fully agreed. I like it best when put: “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

    • says

      You seriously think that Christians aren’t the majority of those pressing for women’s rights in the USA? Evangelicals aren’t, sure, but Christians, as an aggregate, are. Go to any feminist site that isn’t specifically an atheist site if you’re doubting. There are a lot of Christians that also push to keep prayer and creationism out of the schools – again, probably a majority. Did it somehow slip your mind that Seperation of Church and State was an armistice agreement because the Christians knew they could never agree on which sect specifically gets to establish a religion? It’s not like they all forgot.

      Further, to turn this around, you do know a lot of atheists only barely oppose the fundie Christians, and then solely because they’re Christian, right (motive matters here, because it’s not good for changing minds)? Harris and Dawkins are not exactly great supporters of women’s rights, or racial minority rights, or gay rights, in practice, only in using it as a cudgel against the religious. Those two, and others like them, have a lot of followers. If you want to talk about results alone, that’s not good for atheism in any practical sense. Seriously, if atheism is not your primary concern, the group fails you more than Christians do – even though the only terrorists I have to fear are Christians, I can recognize these basic facts. That’s fine, because atheism is both smaller and not as big a deal to me, but you’re the one acting as though the Christians have failed us on social matters more. It’s simply not true..

      • chris lowe says

        Tenrai, you come across as so beaten down. It shows in your, to be incredibly kind, misguided statements and accusations. But I can’t blame you, being in the middle of a national and global clusterfuck on so many levels. Clear thinking and sound game plans seem like such a rarity. The number of options seem to be shrinking. But do not underestimate “just talk”. What you contemptuously call idle and ineffectual talk is actually discoursing on the only conversation worth having. Forming ideas and ideals is the the only sane way to rise above the din.

        A call to action without a foundational plan is merely lashing out and running around like a chicken with your head cut off.

        It behooves anybody who says we should do this or do that that they should really, really know what they are talking about. A good starting point is to have these “ineffectual talks”, especially with those who can lend expertise. All your gut can tell you is if you are hungry or need to poo.

    • says

      I would have to agree with Alicia that just being nice isn’t enough. It takes courage to stand up for what is right which is why I belong to an organization that ensures that there is that seperation between church and state. I do not want a single penny of my hard earned taxes paying for some public school teaching kids about some pseudo-science like I.D., or some goverment funded pray day. If religion wants to be involved with goverment affairs then let them pay taxes like the rest of us as opposed to just trying to influence the goverment with their biased and sometimes prejudiced views. In my opinion the last thing this goverment needs is another parasite.

  10. chris lowe says

    Mr. Knight is just aping Tony Blair’s prattle when he debated Christopher Hitchens. Just because religion is not going away any time soon is no reason to put up with their basic tenets. If you feel people are genuinely nice, then be intellectually honest and separate yourself from religion which is obviously not. Tony Blair refuses to do so, and in fact clings closer to his religion than ever. To Mr. Knight’s credit he got a divorce, but he still seems to hold some fondness for the relationship.

    • says

      Indeed…I can separate the person from the organization but also recognize that if the person is IN the organization and the organization is unclean, they have to endeavor to help the world clean it.

    • P J Knight says

      Thanks for that! I’d like to think that I’m not aping anyone’s prattle, certainly not Tony Blair. I certainly wouldn’t have voted for him or his party in 1997 if I’d known he was a Xian and would get rather too chummy with Bush, and bonding over a prayer or three and taking us into that awful war.

      • chris lowe says

        Please watch the debate. It is easily available on Utube. Blair makes a point of appealing to religious “good will”, implying that religious morality is the only hope as a platform for peace in the middle east, blithely ignoring the foundational beliefs that necessitated these people to have to come to the table in the first place. Apologizing for what you presume to be a few bad men or literalists surreptitiously endorses the belief system of its “harmless” constituents. Heicart (which one of you is that?) points out that all these players in public debate are helplessly (but not hopelessly) inculcated by unworkable and harmful concepts as children. Making nice is not part of the foundational concepts of the religion they had the accident to be born in. And if you are christian, then I would carefully look at the kind of tolerance being espoused by the faithful.

        I would not presume to know or to disparage your political beliefs, nor would i intentionally offend you. However as far as politics and religions in general, I feel no compunction to spare anyones feelings.

        • P J Knight says

          No, I don’t think so. I had enough of Blair when he was bloody Prime Minister thank you very much!

          My feelings weren’t harmed, I just object to being compared to somebody I despise!

          • chris lowe says

            Yes , he is a pratt, but you might want to watch it just to see how deftly Hitchens dismantles him and his ideas.

  11. Matthew B says

    Hitchens once observed:

    “Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects in a cruel experiment where we are created sick and commanded to be well…. But let no one say there’s no cure! Salvation is promised at the low price of your critical faculties”

    which is why religion is so bad: it takes away our freedom. Although people recognize that slavery, mental cruelty, coercion, and the like are wrong, yet many of these same people don’t recognize that religion actually goes further than this by seeking to control ones feelings, emotions,and thoughts. The notion that we should give up the most cherished part of our person for a cause that does good is the classic justification for totalitarianism.

  12. says

    Thank you, there will be many who cry foul at my comparison to religion and American slavery and to that I would say that the enslavement of minds and will is far worse than physical enslavement.

  13. says

    Been through plenty in life, enough to keep Oprah fans weeping for days if I wished to divulge. I hint at it here but really do not wish to ever really go into it at any depth. I will say that I have positioned myself never to be “ruled over” and told what to think out of some misguided sense of gratitude. A person with good intentions would never ask you to enslave yourself in any way, good intentions or no, because they helped you. So I do understand going through hard times, times of near death, physical torments. I do get it. Even with this knowing, I won’t go back to believing in god concepts. In fact, releasing myself from dogma that got me through tough times has actually helped me heal faster than staying in religion would have. Still scarred but no longer broken because I finally left the fairytales behind.

    • Matthew B says

      Atheism is liberating in the sense that it gives you the power over your own life.

      I remember in the midst of a chronic personal problem, I realized that either I really had the power to solve my own problems or the bible is true, and that I am a sinner who has to have god. Somehow that realization really woke me up and motivated me to put into practice all the positive things I had been saying about freedom and atheism before.

    • Juan says

      Alicia, the heavens taught me the meaning of life. And it’s simple. LIVE. That sounds like what you are learning to do. All of us are created different. People in a whole need to understand that. Don’t blow up on me for saying what im about to write. There is a creator. And the creator hates to see any of us in pain. Not all of us were blessed to have great parents, a great home and so on. But at some point in life, all of us have the opportunity to say “I’ve suffered enough, now it’s my turn to enjoy life”. Mother Kuan Yin told me ” In every life there is a beginning and end. But, also an in-between. What you do during the between time is up to you”. -The world only turns, but it is you that can make it spin. From the Chinese Buddha (Pacachi). Good luck to all of you.

      • says

        Thanks for the comment. I won’t blow up at you but I will say that I don’t find a need to have a creator to be happy and fulfilled. I did that for years, kow towed to god concepts and found myself confused and depressed enough to attempted suicide twice. Christ offered no salvation–I had to be my own savior–and when I recognized that I was able to truly be free.

        • says

          Ohhh, Alicia….. The heavens have parted and spring root. Its time to live and let me spring one of those root in you. Please write to me and let plants the seeds so my root can grow.

          hahahahahhahahahahahahahhaahhah

        • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

          That reminds me of that fantastic Frederick Douglass quote: “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”

  14. says

    Indeed, I was liberated fully when I recognized that I am the captain of my fate and the master of my soul. When I took the reigns, maaaaan, I felt freed. I wasn’t even scared, I was ready for it and took to it duck to water. I smile more, I am happy, I enjoy the things around me. I enjoy sex and food and fun without guilt. I also know that when I am moved to do good it is for the sake of the occassion and not to please a diety. They say how we can’t possibly know how good Jesus is. I submit that any freeodm they experience pales in comparison to the freedom removing dogma gives you.

      • chris lowe says

        I was liberated before I was born. I have had plenty of negative to deal with in my life, but never lost any sleep having to deal with a third party looking over my shoulder. That’s why I try to listen very carefully to the “converted”. That’s also why I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

        • says

          You were one of the rare and lucky ones then. Curious how you dealt with all the insanity in the world as you grew up….had to be a lot like being the only kid in first grade who knew Santa wasn’t real.

  15. Juan says

    I completely understand all of your coments. Unless you personally witness what I have many times over. It just sounds like BS.

    • says

      Unfortunately, I suffer from the same affliction as Mother Teresa, the god/heavens/spirits/Tara have never shown themselves to me. I just think it’s two people talking to each other concerning the tragedy and beauty of human life.

    • unfogged says

      Witnessing something that you can’t explain doesn’t justify jumping to supernatural explanations. Any decent stage magician or con artist can baffle most people repeatedly. Until you have some sort of actual evidence beyond “I can’t explain it” any answer other than that is just BS.

    • Raymond says

      The problem is that I HAVE witnessed many things you would call supernatural, many times over, in my life. I have personally had a near-death-experience and been to heaven. I have had a number of “psychic” incidents, both my own and witnessed. I have even seen things apparently move about on their own. The difference between you and me, is that I understand the, completely natural, causes for all these things. I don’t have to concoct some “supernatural” reason for their occurrence. And I certainly don’t have to abandon reason because of them.

      You state:

      “There is a creator. And the creator hates to see any of us in pain.”

      And you provide us with an example of, possibly, a con-artist at work to support your claim. I hate to say, that is woefully inadequate to the claim. Even if the psychic was somehow for real, that in no way indicates the existence of a supernatural mystery land or a creator of any kind. Even if she is for real and says that there is this mystery land and creator, that is still not supported. So while I am happy you prefer peace, I am not convinced that the cost of your particular path, truth and reason, are worth the benefit. After all, the whole point of this thread is that these things can be achieved through secular means, without the potentially damaging baggage associated with accepting lies and foregoing reason.

      • Raymond says

        Are you are referring to the psychic instances I mentioned? One such instance was a woman who I was friends with appeared to predict certain qualities in a person I met, but she never met. She and I were pretty good friends, so there was a reasonable assumption that I had met the vast majority of her social circle, and the gentleman in question was definitely not in her social circle. Yet she was able to predict many of his verbal quirks, some of the unusual physical actions he displayed, and even what type of jewlery his wife wore. She wispered all this to me after having seen him for about 15 seconds.

        Flabbergasted, once everything she had told me turned out to be true, I approached the man to see if he knew my friend. Besides thinking I was some crazy dude hitting on him, he insisted he didn’t know my friend. I checked his license plate when he left and he was from out of state. To this day I don’t know how she was so accurate. But at the time I was still gullible, and she convinced me that she was psychic. Looking back, she did tend to have more hits than pure chance would predict; but that just means she was decent at picking her battles. And in that particular case, she both read him really well and was really lucky, or she knew him from somewhere but he wasn’t in her social circle.

        As for my personal experiences, one such was a prophetic dream. I still remember it clearly, though it was almost 30 years ago. I dreamed (sp?) that I was sitting at the picnic table overlooking the stream. I was petting my brother’s dog Tiffany. I had broken a glass, and hid the pieces at the bottom of the trash, hoping my mother wouldn’t see it. While I was petting Tiffany, my mother yelled. She had cut herself on the glass shards when she was changing the trash.

        I woke up and Tiffany was in my room, so I pet her for a while, telling her about the dream. Later that day, I broke a glass and hid the pieces at the bottom of the trash. While I was at the table overlooking the stream, petting Tiffany, my mother yelled. She had cut herself on the glass shards while she was changing the trash.

        For the longest time I wanted to just call it deja vu, but I had talked to Tiffany about the dream right when I woke up. So regardless of the cause, it was indeed prophetic.

        There were many other such instances throughout my life, but I realize now that what would be really unusual is if someone my age DIDN’T have a pocketful of such stories to tell. Random chance demands that unusual events occur.

        • says

          Weird. I Had a few prophetic dreams myself. They both involved the death of my parents days before they happened. In one, I noticed my dad walking around at what looked ot be a wake. He was dressed in maroon shorts and was shoeless and topless. He was laughing and joking around in his normal manner but no one acknowledged him. Dad seemed very confused by this. My sister and I were standing near a pillar in the room and eating off paper plates when we looked up and noticed him. Sis leaned over towards me and whsipered, “What is dad doing here?” and I said, “He doesn’t know he’s dead.” After I said that, Dad promptly disappeared. Dad died 3 days later from complications with AIDS after years of successfully staving it off with he cocktail. With Mom, I dreamt my estranged brother called me on the phone to tell me she had been killed and to get to Texas for her funeral. A few days later I got the call that she had been hit by a drunk driver.

    • Lord Narf says

      Like I said above, Juan, that’s an admission that it’s bullshit. Humans have an amazing ability to misinterpret things and commit selection biases of many sorts. I’m sure a competent magician could go in and do at least as good of a job being a mystic as she does. The difference is that the magician won’t be dishonest enough to pass it off as something supernatural.

      If the ability can’t be demonstrated to skeptics and must be experienced by the credulous, in person, you’re dealing with a con artist.

      Who is this person you’re speaking about, anyway? You expect us to accept your claims, and you won’t even name her. What the hell, man?

    • says

      I would have to agree with unfogged that just because you can’t find any logical explanation to what you witnessed is no reason to speculate and draw a conclusion. It has been proven that a witness’s testimony can be wrong which is why in a court of law the witness goes under cross examination. The more evidence one has to establish the truth the more likely it is true, so unless you have something that is more tangible then just a claim, then it’s just your word against others.

  16. says

    well said. “X” does not automatically equal “Y”. That is why I often tell Xtians that even if evolution was found to be completely in error tomorrow, that does not mean that “God did it” wins the day….

  17. says

    It’s just a sore point with me–a BIG one. Want toget on Alicia’s bad side in 0 point 1 seconds–say that. I deal with racism and sexism and whatever ism you can think of at the hands of those jerks — was beaten down by it to the point I never I looked another white person in the eye my entire adult life when speaking to them. I didn’t even realize this until after Obama won and I somehow felt I could, like I was on equal footing. It was the subtle, every day bs of Southern living that made me feel that way–the stuff you don’t even think about that holds you down until you recognize the chains. I don’t hate Christians per se but there’s no love lost either. That whole “they just want to be nice” thing just rubs me all kinds of the wrong way and especially from a fellow Skeptic who should know better than to say some dumb shit like that. I compared that analogy to nice slave owners for good reason.

  18. chris lowe says

    Earlier I was told I was lucky to be born of atheist parents. While I think of it, yeah, I can’t complain.

    All too many children today, in a supposedly civilized society, are confronted with a disturbing proposition. And this is done by people they love and trust. They are given no alternative or any hope to maneuver out from under this pile of crap. Now this informs their thoughts and ideals usually for the rest of their lives. These religious memes are passed on to their children

    Just think, you as freethinking parents are uniquely placed to have a generation of self assured and safe feeling kids, disencumbered of incredibly scary and immoral fairy tales. I think this would be larger contribution to a safer world than any organization or army you could join.

    My kids are grown now. Treat them with respect and truthfulness and you will be amazed how prowd you’ll be done by them.

    Let’s make more atheists!

    • says

      I know, I was annoyed by one TAE episode where a guy wondered why atheists brought kids into the world if we thought it was so terrible and a few atheists were like, “Well, he’s right why should we have kids?” And I am like, wait a minute. If we refuse to have kids, the Christian eventually win by default. Oh hell Na’ll, let’s pony up folks and get to cracking! We got a lot of lost time to make up for–LOL!!!!

      • Lord Narf says

        … a guy wondered why atheists brought kids into the world if we thought it was so terrible …

        Isn’t that exactly the wrong question? Why shouldn’t we want to have kids? Most of us feel the biological drive that is bred into us by our evolutionary past, and lots of us like kids, anyway.

        There’s this false conclusion there. We understand that the universe is out to get us in many ways, and many parts of life suck. But you enjoy being alive in general, right? Don’t you think your kids are likely to feel the same way as you? Why deny them that chance?

        • jacobfromlost says

          Actually, wanting FEWER kids (or none) is a first world phenomenon. The better off we are, the fewer children we have. The more difficult the circumstances, the more children we have.

          I’m sure someone has some hypothesis as to why that is–I always just assumed it had something to do with evolution; ie, when survival is difficult and times are very hard, you seek emotional bonds to compensate for the pain, and babies result nine months later (and the more babies you have in hard times, the more likely ONE of them will survive to adulthood). At the other end of the spectrum, if you have everything you ever need (including birth control) and even many things you simply WANT, you are less likely to want children (or more likely to put it off indefinitely until you never have any). Or, at least, more likely to have 1 and not 10. (Moreover, if we were ALWAYS more likely to have more kids the BETTER our circumstances in life, eventually/quickly the entire system would collapse because there wouldn’t be enough resources to sustain everyone. Our environment is a limited system, and we can’t simply grow our numbers forever. We are indeed related to a long line of other organisms that evolved in limited systems/environments, so it seems reasonable that these tendencies that lead to more children in difficult times and fewer in easier times make sense.)

          • chris lowe says

            Kurt Vonnegut once said that humans are a parasite on the earth and the earth would be better off ridding itself of this pest. and looking at it from a purely naturalist sense, this is what the earth is poised to do. Extreme imbalance in any system is simply unsustainable.

            Yes, Mr. JF Lost, to your point of lower population growth among the more successful and secure among our species being a positive, I couldn’t agree more. This is not contrary at all to my statement about making more atheists. Let me tweak the gist of what I said a little. Though I enjoy enthusiastically the act of making atheists, there is a giant pool of kids already here where it is worthwhile to make available paths to reason and critical thought. I know this is problematic but the returns to all of us are worth it.

            Education, education, and more education. Atheists IMHO are well positioned to give their kids a good grounding in terms of enabling them to connect the dots on their own, based on what they see and what they experience.

            The tendency of religionists is to tell kids what they are SUPPOSED to see and what they are SUPPOSED to experience puts a prophylactic on their natural curiosity. Kids have a thirst to learn. Imams with their madrassas and preachers with their home schooling can produce jihadist zealots or fine family enterprises like the Waterboro Baptist Church. I worked in production, and we had a saying: chicken shit in> chicken shit out.

            All faith based schooling (except in a way Catholic) seek to deny scientific learning in an attempt to shield themselves and their dogmas from criticism. This is so, so dangerous and irresponsible. We need all the science and all the informed decision making we can get by as many people as possible to navigate the minefield we have inflicted on ourselves.

            Encouragingly the atheist demographic is growing worldwide. With our tendency not to resort to “praying away” our conflicts and other negative issues, perhaps some of us may be a help rather than a hindrance.

            As i see it from my bubble it is essential our children be reinforced with a strong self esteem. Personally this is how I and my wife tried to set the table. From this foundation we encouraged our kids to ask questions and come to their own conclusions. We made a point of not injecting my own atheism or my wife’s new age spiritualism into their heads. You see them now and they are comfortable in their own skins. Positive breeds positive. Their moral compass is outstanding and it will stand them in good stead going forward.

            Religion has nothing to offer in this regard. Au contraire.

            Sometimes it makes me cry and infuriates me to see how children are being filled with nonsense and fear. What frustrates me is that the parents themselves have been set up and have no choice but to behave the way they do.

            Religion is evil. Fuck meer atheism. I’m anti-theist.

            “Mother’s gonna put all her fears into you.
            Of course mother’s gonna help build the wall!”

            from “Mother”, by Pink Floyd (atheists all!)

          • says

            I could hug you for that comment. I am starting to feel the same way. Now, I duly recognize I have a lot of unresolved anger, and towards theist in general, that ain’t healthy. I think being a relatively new atheist that was abused by the religious system, that it may be par for the course. I do hope in time it tempers but that my disdain for religion itself never wanes.

          • says

            I would think it has a lot has to do with resources. Less entertainment what yah gonna do? Hard times do tend to bring us together, and in that intimacy natural things are bound to happen. Add this to fact that you don’t have birth control and in certain countries, pointy hat wearin mofo’s refuse to even allow you to have any, and you have kids born into misery. I mean, for the cycle to continue, humanity will always need to procreate — we just need to be proactive in promoting birth control and the idea that you really don’t need to have 25 children (hear that Mormons!) Then there is a time resource issue in places like the US. I have two kids and a work at home job so that keep me plenty busy. I can’t imagine running after 10 children–I’d go nuts. Well… MORE nuts.

  19. chris lowe says

    Yes my folks conspired to have me believe in Santa Claus., which I did ’til about nine. From that point on I shamelessly sucked up to them. A sort of reverse blackmail! haHAH!

  20. Lord Narf says

    My parents tried to keep it going until I was 8 or so, I think, but I started asking too many questions of both them and my older brother, picking apart the things in the Santa myth that couldn’t possibly be true and trying to get explanations out of them about how Santa actually did it. They finally gave up and came clean, sometime when I was in kindergarten.

      • Lord Narf says

        Something to that effect, yeah. I have vague memories of kindergarten CCD (there were specific little tables that we used in that class only), sitting there thinking how silly the adults were for expecting us to believe the Bible stories we were being told. It took until I was 9 or 10 for my disbelief to really solidify, but I was on the way there, from a very early age.

    • P J Knight says

      Smart kids become atheists very quickly I think! People with sceptical and enquiring minds tend not to be sheep either.

      • says

        Heh, or maybe it is a self fulfilling prophecy. Kids who very quickly become atheists think they are smart. Given a religion soaked world, knowing all these religious beliefs and organizations are fundamentally incorrect, and generally intellectually and moral bankrupt, can be very empowering to one’s ego. We can glorify the mental ability to become an atheist at a young age, but to me it means practically nothing. What really matters is what you do with that knowledge. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

        • says

          I concur to both points though. It takes a bit of precocious mental acumen to see past the charade at a young age. Yet I also agree that knowledge if what we make of it. I mean, I knew a ton of Mensa members who sat around smoking pot and playing videos game all day, every day practically non stop. Even at our current ages, many of them are still doing little more than that. I could have really deep, philosophical conversations with these guys but they never applied that knowledge in any meaningful way.

        • Raymond says

          I think, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the age-old question of “What is intelligence?” For instance, I can tell you the speed of an electron and the proper way to remove a proton from the nucleus of an atom; but I know nothing about fixing cars. The guy who fixes my car knows nothing about art. The only artists I know are terrible with money. ETC. Are any of us really smarter than the other?

          I think the answer is no. Everyone on this earth has different skills, and contribute to a well-run society in different ways. And all are necessary. (well I would personally argue that artists aren’t necessary, but that’s a different conversation). Remove any one skill and the machine would not function efficiently. Take away enough parts, and the machine will fail.

          The sad part is that many skills are not respected in the U.S. My pipe dream always includes mechanics and artists and athletes and movie stars all making the same amount of money. But in a culture of excess and entitlement, like ours, such a thing will never happen.

          But my point is that I agree that someone who throws off religion at a young age is not necessarily smarter than anyone else. They have a cognitive process that allows them to think more rationally than others, but that just means it’s different. That same person may never be able to appreciate art or nature because of that mindset. Or they may not have a head for money and be impoverished their entire lives. It’s more reasonable to accept people for who they are and what they can do than to judge them based on the things they aren’t good at or don’t like to do. Just my two cents on the matter.

          • says

            The reason why celebrities, musicians, movie stars and athletes make so much money is that their jobs are consumer driven. Its not so much a value thing, like hey lets pay actor millions cause we think they are worth more than teachers. It’s just the nature of the job in relation to success and notoriety. This is why so many artist will show their bums to get exposure. I recall meeting the ladies of TLC when I was in the music industry in the 90′s. Not a lick of make up on all of them were quite beautiful refined and down to earth, Very nice young ladies. At that time think CREEP was on the radio–they were still shopping at Wal-Mart due to the the nature of their contracts (artists have to pay for the production of their own music videos which come out of their royalties). Also, any advances given by the record label has to be paid back, again out of said royalties. This happened to my Ex Carlton Lowe, who was signed to Sony in 1991. Movie Studios invest tens to millions of dollars for projects and artist actually get a small piece of the pie in relation to what they rake in. In the land of film entertainment, I’d say roughly 80 percent of actors and musicians make far less than the Tom Cruises and Jay Z’s, they are the minority but they get the headlines. The career actors–the kind you recognize on screen but don’t know by name–make Hollywood scale per film (50K if they are Actors Guild. If you are lucky enough to be William Morris you make a bit more). May sounds like a lot, but you have to consider that., like most contractors, there are long periods in between when they are hunting for work. In the end, most artist and mid level musicians make annually, what a guy in an upper level manager position at a mainstream corporation does. Screenwriters like moi make even less (the money I have made in the industry could translate to pennies an hour). Hence the writers strike in the 90′s. Believe me MOST artists are hardly living high on the hog.

          • Raymond says

            @Alicia

            No offense intended, but I find it funny that that is what you got out of my post. Also, I fully understand the reasons why actors and athletes make so much. But I still disagree with it. Those are the types of things that should be done on a volunteer basis. You know, go to work, contribute to a productive society, play games or act on the side. Many people have argued rigorously about the value of entertainment, and I certainly participate in activities that are only for entertainment. But it makes me stormingly angry to see people play games and act in a movie make millions while the top flight teachers make $75,000-100,000 a year . . . tops. The games and movies do nothing to make society better, while the teachers only strive to make the society better. It makes me furious to see the members of our government being pampered and making $100,000 profit each year, while the potential of so many is squashed by the government’s self-centered, ego-driven, power mad decisions. It drives me nuts to see the media get hundreds of millions of dollars to attempt to keep “the other 95%” feeling as down-and-out as possible in order to line their wallets. The absolutely insane way that this country is run simply blows my mind. If I were going to build a country, I would use the U.S. as a model of everything not to do. But I must endure it because this is the country with the best advanced science education. Ironic considering how religious we are, but something like 35 of the top 50 schools for physics education in the world are here in the States. So, as they say, “Whatever must be endured, can be endured.”

          • says

            Dude, It all comes down to popularity and money. Don’t envy or blame the people who make the most money. Get in there and carve about a place for yourself.

            Socialism as failed through out the world because it simply does not drive innovation, and fails horribly at supply and demand. Most modern governments like the US have adopted a manner of Social/Capitol-ism. However, with the globalization of the economy things have gotten harder. More completion just means we need to start doing more than just sit around and intellectualize about making a perfect word.. There a long list of epic failures throughout history on that one.

            I could not imagine a technocracy, aristocracy, etc being better than the foundation we have now. Minor adjustments are needed. But, not to system that have failed.

          • chris lowe says

            @ Raymond…Spoken like a true socialist (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing)

            @ Alicia…. So you are a former Mrs. C. Lowe? Hmmmmmm

          • Raymond says

            @ Tenrai

            Rest assured I do not blame the people who have succeeded in utilizing the system to it’s fullest. It is the system itself that I hate. And I know that a truly socialistic system is unable to sustain itself. This is why I call it my pipe dream. As long as there are people who have different values such a system cannot exist. It doesn’t make the disparity and the squashed potential any less infuriating, though.

            It might be possible to create a civilization that might live peacefully, where honor and equality are the bottom line; but that possibility is certainly centuries or millennia in the future of humankind. And even then I would wager that the system would be dictatorial in nature.

            But it’s such a nice dream, to think that humankind might value the potential good a person can do, the contributions they can make to the good of mankind. Instead we have a system that ensures fully 20% of it’s citizens are guaranteed to never achieve even a fraction of their potential, and 50% more that will never realize their full potential. Imagine how much further along we would be in the fields of scientific advancement, or engineering, or even useless art, if the system promoted each person’s worth.

            Getting free of the polarizing nature of religiosity has to be the first step in that direction. The retardation of children in the name of crazy superstitions has played such a huge role in slowing progress. It’s impossible to see what is on the other side of that threshold, and I almost certainly will never see it in my lifetime; but it will have to be better than what we have right now.

            Just my two cents.

          • says

            The challenge to create any system that tried to forcefully balance everything is flawed. Because, Everybody is not created equal. There will always be stronger, faster, smarter people of any systems.

            Every system humanity has every created thus far over time develops an elite of that systems.

          • says

            Besides, I fear that the whole let’s make sure ball games don’t have rules and nobody wins is to keep people with extraordinary talents held back so no one has to feel bad. How fair is that? Someone good at baseball should be recognized for their talent. That fact doesn’t diminish anyone else–everyone has something to contribute to this world. Basbeball may not be one person’s thang but how would they know if they are coddled from the truth?

          • P J Knight says

            @ Raymond

            “What is intelligence?” Good question, but it is something that can be defined, specifically, though I am not sure I would be prepared to give it a go!

            However, I do think that people exist at different levels of consciousness, Some people, it seems to me can barely think beyond next week, and have no initiative at all; and they tend to do what they are told. This doesn’t mean that they’re not intelligent, just that their minds function at a different level, in a different way Perhaps they are more in the moment, and react to things more than others do.

            I agree that Capitalism, specifically the Western version as espoused by the US and Europe, is in a pretty bad way. Any society that works extremely well for a privileged few is not working as a whole.

            We need a new way, something that works for all. It should not be beyond our abilities or imaginations to develop a society that does work, and works for everyone, where everyone is valued equally, whatever their skills and abilities.

            We’re probably going to have to evolve a bit more for that to happen, though, so it probably won’t be in our lifetimes, unless something comes along and wipes out 90% of us and we have to start all over…

          • says

            Thanks P J…everyone has their own thing to contribute to the world in their own way. This value can be measured a number of ways and not just socially. But, I think I get a bit scared with the word “value”….who determines this value? Under someone like Raymond, as he himself admitted, no matter how hard or difficult an artistic job, how many hours worked, or the physical cost of that job, he would wave his hand and say, nope, nope still not a job. I’d have to work a job I hate or was bad at to get income and I think under this system architects, fashion illustrators, photographers and anyone who draws, sings, or does something entertainment based would be left out in the cold, making these jobs less than desirable and creating great voids in those industries. Besides, why does value have to be measured in money alone. Now, I agree, teachers make a horrible wage–but what would be a fair across the board wage for? 100 k. 200k? Let’s say a man invented a bigger better mousetrap and billions of folks all over the world bought it. But he is capped at 100 k so others wouldn’t get pissed off by the fact he made a lot of money. Would that be fair? Or if a singer makes a song that sells million world wide. She should be capped at a 100k dollars cause singin’ ain’t really workin’ and you personally hate pop music? A fair system to me would be to ensure all basic needs are met. Health care and education are free, water if free, gas is free, electricity is free. In this system, we would go back to the days when the actual inventor got credit for his invention, NOT Dupont or Apple. Systems would be put in place so if someone who is struggling to pay the rent aren’t immediately put out in the streets but have resources to help them either make rent or stay off eviction. In this system, people would make enough to get cars and entertainment, however, if you want bigger better housing and big screen tv’s and nicer cars you work hard at jobs that pay well for those things. People should have access to those things if they want them. Making sure everyone has these same “value” by creating a C. S. Lewis style, stepford wives world and ensuring eveybody gets paid the same sounds good in theory, but may actually harm those who deserve more money for creating things that change the world or spark the imagination and in the end, could stifle innovation.

          • Raymond says

            Well there you go. Let’s just wipe out 90% of the population ;) Just kidding. One point you made, though, that I have thought about recently is the concept of human evolution. We know that we will continue to evolve as a species, but it’s usually considered in some undefined future. I think that the shift we are seeing in the cognitive processes are evolution at work. It is one of the reasons I am convinced that religion is on it’s way out. I often wonder whether the average person a couple thousand years ago, had the ability to know what the average person today knows — even if they had access to all the information we have available today. Have we have evolved to be able to process information more intellectually? And of course where that might take us in the future? Will we become mindless automatons? Will our physical bodies change to allow for more efficient processing? Will we change something to make the human body more efficient? So many questions and so many possibilities. I believe we are at a tipping point. The ease of access to such large quantities of information would begin to favor those who can process it all quickly. This would, hopefully, accelerate that particular change. Of course, it’s just as likely that Idiocracy is accurate.

          • P J Knight says

            Yeah, the scary truth of Idiocracy is sadly not very funny!

            But the Singularity is due in 20 years or so… So maybe a post-scarcity society beckons…

          • P J Knight says

            @Alicia,

            Actually Alicia, the society you propose isn’t too different from the one I described in a SF novel I wrote a few years ago (yes, I am an unpublished novelist! Writing in obscurity, without a wage because it’s something I enjoy doing!). I agree with you 100%, why should value be based on money? There should be a minimum that everybody is entitled to, whether they work or not, but beyond that if they want more, they have to work for it in some way. We need to think out of the box, find a new paradigm. The current one just isn’t working for the majority of people.

            I’m not sure how a workable fair society could be created or how we could get it from here, from within the badly corrupted, and self-obsessed societies we all live in. The worst excesses of our current social model mean that the things that you describe as being fundamental needs (and with which I would agree, such as health care, housing and power) are not always received. People are left out in the cold (literally as well as figuratively speaking).

            Innovation and motivation are all well and good, but the inequities in our present day societies should mean that they should be directed at making society fairer for all, rather than, say, making a flatter TV screen or a cooler phone. I love gadgets, but it sickens me that all our energies are aimed in the wrong direction.

            People are prepared to look at new ways of finding power, or curing disease, or whatever, which are good things to do (though also new ways of making ever more and more money, sadly), but we should also be looking at new ways of running our societies. The current method doesn’t work. And many of the other ways of doing so have also failed. We need something brand new, unpolluted by the old ways of thinking, Something completely revolutionary.

          • says

            I agree, and I think someone who writes for enjoyment should be able to do so for that reason and someone who wants to make it a career should be able to do so too. Some people love to siwm–others want to become pro swimmers. How fair would it be to say, “How dare someone make money swimming! They should just do it for the looove like I do!!” Aww the nobility of it all. I have a drive to get my work out there not just for money sake but also because, to quote Dah Good Book, “a candle under a bushel doesn’t give any light.” Asimov and Heinlien were able to inspire cause millions read his work. It would be a shame if the work you created never gets read or if it gets read by millions, that you aren’t comepesated for your time. Science fiction has been responsible for weapons of war and for great, benifical technology like the robotic arm. Art has its real world influences–but it can’t infleunce if it isn’t seen. And even if it is just for entertainment value so what–no one has a fit for having to pay to get inside an amusemtne park to ride a rollercoaster…

            And riddle me this. A handful of friends and I create animation for a company that will in the end, LITERALLY, make millions with them once they launch their site. Should I not get paid cause it’s “art”, even though it takes me roughly 8 hours and 2 days to create ONE five minute animation? And they will benefit financially from it? I write a lot of corporate shit, technical stuff, manuals, content for websites. Companies benefit from what I do and it takes hours way from my family and my hsuband for me to do this. Should I just live off the warm and fuzzy satification of helping a company get rich or do I deserve to be compensated for my time like anybody else?

            Sorry–warm and fuzzies ain’t paying for my two kids college.

            I have a talent–I use it to make money–no different than any other talent in any other industry. Won’t apologize for this cause someone else fails to see the value in what I provide to companies or think I shouldlgive this shit away fro free even though I have to buy expensive tools to do this work–animation is an EXPENSIVE enterprise, in fact, for ever dollar I make I feel as if I am spending two to get supplies and upgrades. In the five years I’ve done this, the last two years year were when I turned a complete profit and didn’t operate in the red. So, yeah, I do it cause I love it too–but I also think I should be compensated for my time when my work benefits companies–THAT is what is FAIR.

  21. says

    As a writer and animator who makes dick, I guess it just makes me kinda sad that people think everyone in entertainment is rich or makes tons of money because of the few who get rich and gain the attention–the people you speak of, are a very small percentage of the creative industries. As a creative perons who spends hours creating my work, and who has mouths to feed as well, I don’t think anyone should determine whether or not I deserve to make money with what I do. It takes time and effort to create games–employees, staff–same with movies, same with music–the format is the same with any other business. Just because the business happens to be glamorus doesn’t mitigate what goes into it to create it both financially and physically. It’s hard work with a lot of financial investment that you may never get back. You only see the front man but that money largely goes to the folks behind the scenes, which is why many large music tours operate in the red in spite of raking in millions. I just saw the comment about artists and money and felt it came from that place of “artists don’t deserve to get paid for that easy shit they do” place that I encounter so much in this business….I wanted to clarify what I consider to be a well misunderstood occupation based on that comment.

    • Raymond says

      I just wanted to note to you, Alicia. I know you will likely take offense to my opinion of artists as a group, but I dare say it’s far too late for me to change my mind. Please don’t assume that it means I think artists are dumb or stupid. They are people with skills, and they utilize those skills. I accept that.

      • says

        Oh, I didin’t think you felt that way, I simply believe that what I do has its value and things of value don’t have to necessarily be “socially” valuable to have merit in life. People who cook food or make shoes don’t stop racism with their craft, but they fill your belly and clothe your feet. Do you think a great chef doesn’t deserve a wage because the saitsfaction they provide is momentary and can be flushed later? Or because your mom can make ham sandwich and hand it to you? There is a reason humans want to dance, sing, write. Art Mediums can produce flulff or create something that actually help shape our social ideas–or underline them. Sure, some people create art or play games recreationally others love it so much that they turn it into a job, like me. I did the corporate thing and just didn’t fit. I love creating art even though it doesn’t pay much, but dang, I deserve every damn dollar I make, and then some, just ask my carapal tunne and arthritiic knee which hurts after hours of sititng at a desk to meet deadlines. Those who turn art into a vocation make it seem easy, but they work very, very hard at it and deserve to be paid for their work. Most dancers, sport types I know are on pain medicine as a payment for years of rigorouus physica, damnding work, but they wouldn’t trade a moment of it, it’s what they wanted to do, and to be able to do it full time, they have to make money at it.

        • Raymond says

          I don’t really know. Somewhere along the line I have lost my ability to be amazed. I would like to think that I’ve already seen everything there is to be amazed at, but I know that is incredibly naive. It’s probably been 10 years since the last time I felt awe at anything. Since the entire art industry is centered around an artists ability to create a sense of awe, there is no way for me to appreciate it. For several years I kept searching for something to inspire me, but time wore on and nothing happened. Now I look back and art just seems silly to me. I seriously doubt I’ll ever enjoy that feeling again, but I’ve made my peace with it. There are exciting things happening in physics right now. Not awe inspiring, but exciting. So that will just have to do.

          • says

            Yes, but a sense of awe is one aspect of art–and by that measure–does food awe you? Or shoe making–or dress making? How about architecture? or Mareketing? Should your own, personal disdain of ANYTHING determine its value? What if someone else is awed by something you weren’t? Is your opinion of greater value than theirs because you deem yourself to have “better taste”? Yes, we may not fully understand this generation’s music, but it is their’s full of the debauchery that even we enjoyed in Prince or Madonna. Let them have their moment–we had ours. Now, I may get shot for saying this but I think there are a lot of very talented young people out there ( excluding Beiber and One Direction) and as much as we laugh at Beiber–every music genration had its teen pop idols who couldn’t measure up to the Beatles. And hell, even the Beatles were’nt always “THE BEATLES”, singin’ inane romanticy garbage like, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” Ooooh ground breaking lyrics that. And the girls screamed and swooned and passed out in the isles the way they do at One Direction concerts. Let’s say you went and bought some bread ate it and thought it sucked. Would you think the employees of that company who were merely following a recipe wouldn’t deserve to be paid cause you didn’t like that bread? And if someone else loved that bread, would your opinion of it make that person like it less? Everyone wants the world to revolve around their own personal tastes, likes and dislikes, and it doesn’t work that way. I mean, I am not a big fan of country music, but having been in the music industry ( I toured regionally and sang backup on major label records) I don’t begrudge any of those stars thier success–they worked their asses off to get there. The music industry is treacherous and I am here to tell you only the strong survive it. So, yeah if I met Martina McBride, well, I’d have to give that girl a fist bump.

          • Raymond says

            I would never insist that someone providing a necessary service should not be paid. When you are talking about food, it would be insane to insist that cooks shouldn’t be paid. When you are talking about clothes, it would be insane insist that a tailor shouldn’t be paid. But they should be paid a tailor’s wage. A very fine garment should not have a higher sticker value. A very fine meal should not cost more than MRE’s. A person will be rewarded by people coming to their restaurant if their food is good, but they should not get a higher wage.

            My big problem comes when there are industries that serve no purpose whatsoever. Music?! Fine sing songs, play a fiddle, and dance. But do it on your own time. Don’t go out and demand compensation for doing something I do every day in the shower. If you love it, then spend all your free time doing it. Spend your money doing it. But do it for love and passion, not compensation. Get a real job and contribute to society.

            Painting?! Getting paid to slop some paint on a canvas!! Totally unreal. It just blows my mind. There are some great paintings out there, but all of them could have been done for love and passion instead of money. Get a constructive job and paint in your spare time.

            And maybe the biggest culprit of all, sports. I agree that there is some enjoyment in watching people with exceptional skill compete. But do it in your spare time. Don’t demand a wage. I dare say that the best games I’ve ever experienced either involved me or people I know. That someone would demand $10 million a year to play a sport I play every week is just criminal.

            I know that my views are terribly insulting to the people who aren’t big stars in their field. Those people do have a real job, doing their art in their spare time. But as long as you demand compensation for doing something that doesn’t advance society, you are part of the problem.

          • says

            All I hear is ENVY. Envy of artists, envy of singers, envy of writers. ENVY, ENVY, ENVY……….I working in the IT industry and they are the most lack luster, non charismatic of the lot of the human race. Most boarder on personality disorder. But then we have the Artists Techs, They fill the room full of color and life.

            Those people may not add much to society. However, Society demand music, art, and entertainment…… And happily pays allot for it.

            So, goes back to an old phrase “Those that can’t make, Those that can’t do, go out an teach so others may do.” So, if you can’t sing. Sing in the shower where nobody can here you. If you can’t write, write for fun in your own home where nobody can read it. And so on and so on.

            I like the term “The doers do while dont do’s just bitch.” I’ve found this to be so much true in all areas of work.

            The Amazing DumbA$$ AJ is a good example of that.

          • says

            I am highly, highly, HIGHLY BEYOND fucking insulted and shaking angry because it’s not as simple as you make it with your flippant ignorance. MANY famous musicians for example, go to school for years to learn music theory — do you even know what Legatto means???

            And I am sure Davinci would love to hear that you think The Mona Lisa was just splashes of paint on a canvas–or The Sistene Chapel, which Micahelangelo went blind painting, was akin to some kid finger painting. That is DIGUSTING in its dishonesty.

            Music is more than just singing in the fucking shsower and when I traveled we spent many nights in dirty hotels and I had eat–who paid for that when it was time away from my home and I was working on the request of someone else???

            As for advancing society–songs of protest in the 60′s brought awareness to issues and made folks take to the street to demand the end of wars–music has entainment value but also can help advance society or underline the Ziegiest of an age–you demean it with not even understanding what art is and what it does outside of being fun.

            And hello–IT COSTS MONEY to produce music and movies and art on a mass scale–NOT the mother fucking same AT ALL as your ass singing in your own goddman house for fucking free as a passtime!

            STURCTURED ART/MUSIC/FILM costs tons ot produce–Prouduction lights COST MONEY, housing and paying for cleaning crews COST MONEY, Plane fare and hotel rooms for troupes of people COST MONEY, food COSTS MONEY, costumes COST MONEY, dancers, COST MONEY, PRODUCTION AND MIXING HOUSES cost money. VIDEOS and POST PRODUCTION, cost money and that ain’t even ALL THE STEPS involved with pre and post production. EQUIPMENT cost money too–I’ve spent tens of thousands setting up my in home business so I can be here when my kids get home from school. I mean, how fucking DARE YOU?????

            So yeah, singing in your fucking showere is not even REMOTELY CLOSE to fucking traveling in 200 countries in one year to perform all over the world and taking ALL THE SHIT with you.

            You can sing in the shower for FUCKING FREE all day long!!!!!!!! Even a minor production can cost HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars to put on–are you mother fucking serious?????

            You seem to be a smart guy but can’t even differentiate between singing as a hobby and singing to a CROWD on HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS. What the fuck!

            You are just prejudiced when it comes to art probably cause you’re jealous and shit cause you can’t do it!!!!!!!!!

            Besides, what do you do that is all so fired important and how would you like it if I demeaned YOU because I didn’t understand what it took to do what you do?

            I think this should end here because I am getting spitting, ’bout to throw my computer furious. Or better yet, I am not posting another goddamned thing here–So much for being among fucking free thinking people who want so spit on what others do without even know what the hell they are talking about. Fuck that and fuck you!

            Not repsonding to anything elseand I am unsubscribing, so yeah, have a happy fucking life.

          • Raymond says

            And before you ream me out, because I know you will, I know many people who spend 20+hours per week doing their art and give it away for free. There are entire communities online dedicated to giving away their hard work and talent with no compensation. The demand of compensation is what is causing all the problems in our society. It’s refreshing to see people, with wife and children, doing what they love for the love of it. Then giving it to strangers for free.

          • Raymond says

            You know Tenrai, it’s entirely possible that you are correct. I have never been very artistic. Even in my youth, I was always the one left out when arts and crafts came along. When the class auditions for choir were done, I was the only one not selected to participate. So it’s probable that envy is rearing it’s ugly head. But as I have felt this way for 30 years, it’s very unlikely that I will ever change. Probably envy of my classmates back then has grown to contempt in my middle years. But I try not to go out of my way to bash them. I accept that in a capitalistic system, the demand determines production and wages for production. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

          • Lord Narf says

            Raymond, what you’re proposing is completely insane. It’s a simple matter of economics. Artists, writers, and actors create a product. They’re then allowed to go out and sell that product.

            What you’re saying is that actors who put together a stage production should be forced to let people in to see it, for free, no matter how much time they spend writing the play, practicing their lines, putting together professional stage props? You would see acting destroyed.

            Similarly, if you have a painter who has spent years of his/her life perfecting the art form, to the point that he can create masterpieces that people are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for, you’re going to step in and declare that they have no monetary value, and that people should be able to just take them for nothing?

            Or take J.K. Rowling. Her books have sold tens of millions of copies. You think that publishing companies should just be able to take her manuscript and make hundreds of millions of dollars off of them, without giving anything to the person who owns the manuscript?

            Looking at specific bits of your last few comments, I find myself wondering if you’re even serious:

            When you are talking about clothes, it would be insane insist that a tailor shouldn’t be paid. But they should be paid a tailor’s wage. A very fine garment should not have a higher sticker value. A very fine meal should not cost more than MRE’s. A person will be rewarded by people coming to their restaurant if their food is good, but they should not get a higher wage.

            Do you not intuitively understand how unworkable a situation this would create? How do you propose to sort out who gets the silk dress and who gets the one made from a burlap sack? How do you figure out who deserves the food prepared by the master chef and who gets the plastic-tasting, store-brand cheese?

            My big problem comes when there are industries that serve no purpose whatsoever.

            Dude, they have the purpose of entertaining people. How is this so hard to understand? You admit, yourself, that there are many great paintings out there. How do you determine who gets to own the painting? Money is a standard of trade for things that people want. So, someone should have to pay money for a painting that they really want, right?

            Who gets the money? You have to pay the money to the person who previously owned the painting. Who originally owned the painting? The painter. You should have to pay the painter in order to take ownership of something that belongs to him/her, just as you would to any of the other owners, down the line.

          • Lord Narf says

            And before you ream me out, because I know you will, I know many people who spend 20+hours per week doing their art and give it away for free. There are entire communities online dedicated to giving away their hard work and talent with no compensation. The demand of compensation is what is causing all the problems in our society. It’s refreshing to see people, with wife and children, doing what they love for the love of it. Then giving it to strangers for free.

            And those who choose to do that are free to do so. I bet they give them away because they’re not good enough to sell them for hundreds of dollars a painting. If they could make a living doing something they love, don’t you think they would?

            Who are you to deny someone an avenue of making money, to feed, house, and clothe himself and his family? If someone is willing to pay the person to create art, who are you to tell the person that he can’t pay money to get the object that he and many other people would like to own?

            The fact is that many people want fine art. There’s only so much fine art to go around. That gives it value. That gives the artist the right to get money in exchange for the in-demand service that he can provide.

          • chris lowe says

            Raymond, you’d make a great dictator. You could have a little booklet like Mao. You could call it “Fatuous
            Musings about Shit I Know Nothing About”

          • Lord Narf says

            I know that my views are terribly insulting to the people who aren’t big stars in their field. Those people do have a real job, doing their art in their spare time. But as long as you demand compensation for doing something that doesn’t advance society, you are part of the problem.

            I’d also like to know what the hell Raymond thinks is an advancement within society. The greatest advancements in society are driven by the great thinkers of the age. The architects, poets, philosophers, writers, painters …

            They’re the ones who influence the way that people think. Of course the guy over there building the bridge is doing something to contribute, but don’t you give any credit to the people who made us think that working together and building bridges is a good idea?

  22. says

    Emerson’s “Self Reliance”, was something I read in high school and that essay helped place the seeds of skepticism and free thought in my mind at a young age. I know I was not alone. His writing contributed to society and even if it didn’t so what? Why should that determine if someone’s labor is worthy of a wage alone? You can serve up a burger that clogs arteries and still get paid a salary. Many documentaries have helped spread awareness about atrocities…so I was kidna right about what I assumed by your short comment, you think what I do for a living has no value to society. Please allow me to agree to disagree.

  23. says

    LOL!!!! Yeppers they even called he C. Lowe and also Solo. He co-produced Mariah Carey’s FANTASY…he was a sweetheart, but you know–things happen. Me, I don’t hate captalism or the rich for that matter, but I do get what Raymond is saying–I think it is fucked up that teacher makes less than football players, but don’t think a communist style approach is the answer either. Heeeeey…maybe we can set up schools the way the music indisuty is set up. Charge admission at the door–the best teachers make the most money cause their style becomes in high demand. Hummm–I may be on to somethign. In this way everyone has access to consumer capital and the ability to make mad money….lol!

  24. chris lowe says

    Socialism is not communism. You Americans calm the fuck down! Socialism is a contract between government and society where gov’t guaranties certain standards of living, certain minimum economic standards, and certain services to be provided. The quality depends on what the people are willing to pay in revenues. This system works perfectly well in democracies all over the world. Just about every single developed country operates under a version of this system. The exception to this trend may be (ahem…you know).

    Another widely held misconception is that socialism is marxism. Also not true. Marx and Engels did hook their wagons to socialism,but they held to a top>down principle that gov’t decided the programs to be implemented and how and by whom, rather than by the people themselves. A decidedly undemocratic way of going about things. Under socialism, capitalism can and does operate effectively. There are certain constraints of capitalist behaviours and policies in place, so it isn’t completely unfettered. Pretty well all developed countries now have universal healthcare. These are written in their constitutions as a moral proposition that health care is a human right and not a money making proposition. It is a guarantee that no one should face financial ruin or be denied treatment, as all services and treatments are free. The price is paid in mandatory premiums that are scaled much in the same way as income tax. Health professionals do just great under this system. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. There are also various programs subsidizing income, education, training, Disabilities etc. But these are done entering programs, rather than a voucher system.

    It sounds as if I’m touting socialism, but it actually is just a style of governance most nations utilize and not really an ism. It is more like a citizen friendly service organization. And quite bat shit proof.

    • Raymond says

      “The exception to this trend may be (ahem…you know).”

      The good ol’ U.S. of A. God I hate this country.

      People keep saying that they are proud to be American. That this country is worth fighting for. That we can change and grow. I just don’t see it. I know the trend is toward a more skeptical cognative process, but the brainwashed idiots are the ones with the power. We could have 300 million skeptics here and still the million or so brainwashed idiots would hold the power. Something in this country just assures that the most dishonest, conniving, evil people hold the power, while the 99% sit here impotent to change it. We are so apathetic, as a society, that real change is almost impossible. So to those who are proud of this country, I wish you well. For me, I am outta here as soon as it’s practical.

      • says

        Now, you will get a hearty R’ amen from me on a lot of this….I am not sure what the solution is, but I am so afraid that we are outnumbered. Saw a recent forward from a religous Aunt that basically said that Jesus lovers needed to take America Back, put god where he belongs and tell the 14 percent (that’s us) to sit down and shut the hell up. *sigh* WTF dude…soemtimes it gets me very deflated.

          • Lord Narf says

            Oh, damn, looks like they have an embed block on the thing. You’ll have to go to YouTube to watch it. I was hoping it would embed in my comment.

          • Lord Narf says

            It was more tolerable, listening to it on Dogma Debate. They did it as an exercise of seeing how long they could go without having to pause it and correct something stupid that one of the kids had just said. The first pause was about 16 seconds in, and I think that was the longest solid stretch of audio that we heard from it, because the lies and distortions just kept coming, one right after the other.

            There are many half-truths, like the one at 0:14:
            “Why can’t I pray in school?”
            “Uh, you can. Your school just can’t force you to pray.”
            Those are the more honest bits of the video.

          • says

            I dunno man–it’s just–making my head hurt–or my heart–or my ass–meh all three…LOL. So overwhelming, the stupidity.

          • Raymond says

            Those poor christians. They only comprise the 70% majority. How could this happen to them?!! It’s so unfair. They are so put upon. Sorry, but I couldn’t stop laughing the whole way through this video. I kept expecting them to yell “psyche.” It was just so ludicrous, I didn’t think it was real. That anyone could take this video seriously is indicative of the state of affairs in this country.

          • says

            Many of the Southern bible thumpers I meet have the same persecution complex which is why I couldn’t stomache watching their bullshit. It’s like the whole fake war on Christmas. They do this passive agrgressive self martydom stuff that apparently seems to work as there are even folks in our own camp who want to pet them and tell us to leave them alone. What did Matt Call those types of Atheists…? Shiznit I am drawing a blank now…the juxtaposition was firebrand Atheist to …Ugggh! Lord Narf help me out here….

          • P J Knight says

            Maybe we should start persecuting some Xians, just so they know what it’s really like!? :)

          • says

            All I saw was a bunch of brainwashed kids talking about their rehearsed propaganda while the real hypocritical cowards are hiding behind the camera. It’s amazing how their beliefs are the ones that are rapped around the flag while they lugubriously whine about how their rights are being infringed upon.

            Well if their god is so f*cking great then all they need to do is to pray about it. Good luck on that one!

          • Lord Narf says

            All I saw was a bunch of brainwashed kids …

            Heh heh heh. One of the comments on Dogma Debate ran something along those lines. In another few years, we’re going to see a few of these kids in the freethought movement, speaking out about being involved with this project and being pissed about being immortalized, speaking this kind of stupidity.

    • says

      You had me on the health care till you started talking about taxes.

      I frankly pay more than my fair share now. The fact that more than half my take in pay goes to some sort of tax has significantly held back my ability to move upwardly. I use to say when I get a bonus about a 1/3 of it will go to taxes. That is no longer true. I now pay out about 45% in taxes. So, no thanks on the let create a new tax to pay for $hit.

      I worked in government for 5yrs and left screaming as the inefficiency, uncaring, lazy, etc…..I could go on but. I can say as much as you see Religion as the root of all Evil. I see government intrusion as the Root.

      There was a time which community helped community and government at the Fed level was involved on in the affairs of the Nation. But, as people became more reliant on government as the answer the less people cared about helping community.

      • Raymond says

        There is a real problem related to what you are talking about that many people don’t really pay attention to. The simple fact is that the population is so large that all the governmental models created in the past are broken by sheer volume. I don’t know what the answer is, but a variation of the representative democracy seems the most logical to me.

        The problem the U.S. faces, is that it’s voters are either apathetic or unable to find something worth voting for. Shrink the federal government, make voting mandatory, and have a popular vote for all bills put before any governmental body. Require a minimum 90% turnout and 3/4 positive votes to put it through. We live in an age where this should be child’s play.

        Every library in the nation has computers. Or if they feel those aren’t secure enough, put direct link computers into every city. The computers don’t have to be terribly expensive, can be hard lined to avoid pilfering, and only have to run one program. The computers and the dedicated link would likely be pretty cheap. The receiving computer(s) would be somewhat more expensive, but no more than 51 would be needed.

        There are 43,000 unique zip codes in the U.S. Figure $250 for the voting computers. Average about 30 per zip code. That’s about $350 million. $1000 per receiving computer. That’s $51,000. One slightly more expensive computer to receive everything and process the results for $10,000. Probably $250 million one-time expense to set up dedicated lines. Factor in $10 million to set up the business and legal aspects, pay employees, etc. So for the one-time low price of $610 million, we could have a system set up to actually allow the people to have a voice. The ongoing expense would likely be $50 million for maintenance, paying employees, legal and business stuff, etc.

        This would ensure that the popular vote is an integral part of getting bills passed into law. Certain “voting days” can be set up so that one day each month is set aside for getting the popular vote. People would probably hate having to vote all the time, at first; but as time passes, there will be a rhythm. People will become knowledgeable about the bills that are being proposed. Voting every month, rather than every 2 years, will help people feel more like part of the system. This will help with the apathy.

        I don’t know. The sheer size of the population makes the old ways impractical, but there are ways to make the system better. Problem is people don’t want to work for it. They don’t want to be inconvenienced. The day-in-day-out grind makes things like dealing with the government an intrusive inconvenience. And you know the government won’t go for it. They have power. They certainly don’t want to give that power over to the people.

        • says

          Geeze, I work in the IT industry and the system you talk about would be difficult to Secure from hacking and fraud. Agree, voting should be easy and accessible. But, all the new laws around voting and securing Identity had made the mere $$ you suggest impossible to just develop a system.

          I also find the possibility of get anything pass in the US election when the turnout is high impossible. Voting suggest US would split almost equally on every issue. Needing 3/4 to pass anything would surely fail.

          • Raymond says

            I will bow to your knowledge on IT. You would definitely know better than me. The voting problem you mention, would indeed be a problem, at first. It might take a few years to even get to the 90% requirement. But there can be measures to ensure a smooth transition. But the idea that a 3/4 majority is impractical seems to hit on the main point. The concept of popular vote is specifically to not institute something into law unless the majority want it. So far from being a possible problem, I think it’s the whole point.

        • EnlightenmentLiberal says

          I must “violently” disagree. That’s a horrible, horrible idea. If we can learn anything from history, it’s that we should keep the masses the hell out of direct elections. Myself included. I shudder whenever a California ballot proposition comes before me, because I do not know enough to make an informed opinion. Half the propositions to make certain companies money as far as I can tell, and others have bullshit titles and descriptions with the usual fearmongering scare tactics which end up passing when they really shouldn’t.

          I do agree the problem is the election system. I agree an apathetic voter base is a problem. I also think of it as a symptom too. I’m apathetic because I have to choose between two evils. This is more or less the result of the winner take all single district voting that we have, when combined with mass media, and when combined with large voting districts.

          IMHO, the solution isn’t campaign finance reform, though that may help. I want to see a good study on the politics in Isreal, because I would love to see the system of the Isreali Knesset used in the US. I say I want to see the studies on it, the pros and cons, because I am sadly ignorant of it, but it strikes me intuitively as the solution. With the reasonable possibility of third party candidates winning regularly, I could much more easily find a party with my values, and if not I can actually create a party. It’s like run-off voting or instant run-off voting, but IMHO better.

          Details here:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Israel

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Err, by “we should keep the masses the hell out of direct elections. “, I mean we should keep the people out of directly voting on individual laws as much as possible.

          • Lord Narf says

            But then we get a legislature which is purchased by special interests. A few politicians are easier to buy off than an entire electorate.

            How do you force education on someone and make them less apathetic? You have to fix the core problems, before any system will work.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            But then we get a legislature which is purchased by special interests. A few politicians are easier to buy off than an entire electorate.

            Debatable.

          • Lord Narf says

            It’s what we’ve GOT. And if you’re going to seal off the legislature from any special ballot initiatives, you’re removing one of the few corrective measures we have, when they become completely corrupt. Your suggestions will make the situation worse, not better.

          • P J Knight says

            Democracy in all its current varieties obviously doesn’t work!

            So what’s the alternative? I’m in favour of a benevolent dictatorship (with me as the dictator, obviously! :) I mean I am the only person I would trust to run things!!)

          • Lord Narf says

            Yeah, and the problem with a benevolent dictator is that they tend not to remain that way. Power goes to people’s heads, eventually. Besides, how do we make sure the dictator will be benevolent, in the first place? How do we decide who becomes the dictator?

            What we have in this country is a people problem, not a systemic problem. No matter how you run things, whether through any combination of true democracy or representative democracy, if the majority of the people voting are unengaged, ignorant, and uneducated about the issues, the special interests will corrupt the system, whether it be economic or religious interests.

          • P J Knight says

            Okay, I was trying to lighten the mood, a little…

            Seriously then,

            Yes, well known old saw: Power corrupts, and absolute power, corrupts absolutely.

            Lord Narf, surely, the people problem derives, at least in part, from the systemic problem? You can’t just split them out, and say if you fix this aspect, it will all work, because it won’t, not when it the system itself is flawed.

            I agree, education is a good start, but it won’t cure all. Some people wallow in ignorance, and are beyond education or enlightenment, apart from which the special interests (as you call them) will ensure that as many people as possible remain ignorant or at least diverted. Much easier to control that way.

            Of course, I favour a Computocracy, or perhaps we just let the AI’s take over when they finally arrive…

          • Lord Narf says

            Heh, I eat your levity. Nom nom nom.

            Lord Narf, surely, the people problem derives, at least in part, from the systemic problem?

            To some degree, but not how I meant systemic. I should have clarified that. By the system I was referring to the nuts and bolts … the mechanics of our democratic process. I don’t think we can fix the problems we have with electoral re-engineering.

            To some degree, it’s a compounding problem. We’ve got so much corporate media screwing up the whole thing. When the most-watched news source is Faux News, you know we’ve got a problem. And that kind of perspective-warping ignorance tends to feed itself. Then, we’ve got the Citizens United POTUS decision, which allows our democratic process to be co-opted by the highest bidder. If Romney hadn’t been such an aggressively bad candidate, I think we would have been screwed. I’m afraid of what the election spending will be like in 2016.

            To break those sorts of corrupting effects in our democracy, we need an educated electorate. A significant chunk of the electorate isn’t capable of grasping and evaluating the issues, and a larger chunk don’t have the will to make the effort to understand. I think those two groups together make up a majority of the electorate.

            So, we never know which way that center majority will swing, for irrational reasons … if they come to the polls at all.

            Some people wallow in ignorance, and are beyond education or enlightenment, apart from which the special interests (as you call them) will ensure that as many people as possible remain ignorant or at least diverted. Much easier to control that way.

            That is the problem. The corporations like us ignorant, ultra-patriotic, and susceptible to slogans and bandwagoning.

            I wish there was a way to enforce some sort of minimum standards of education about the issues, in order to vote. The problem with a re-engineering approach is that it can just as easily be used against us … not that the Republicans aren’t trying, with the mass of voter-suppression legislation coming out over the past several months.

            But how do you even construct an education test? Do you base your knowledge of Romney’s stances on what was on his website, or do you base it upon what he said during the debates? There was very little agreement between the two.

            Of course, I favour a Computocracy, or perhaps we just let the AI’s take over when they finally arrive…

            Can’t do worse than what we have going on now.

          • P J Knight says

            Lord Narf,

            I suspect we’re largely in agreement, though our cultural differences (and the fact that we’re “divided by a common language”) probably ensure that we won’t agree on (or perhaps even understand) everything.

            I feel it’s my duty to vote (have done so since 1983, when I voted for the Labour Party), but from 2001 to 2010 only tactically or protest voted because I was (and still am, probably even more so now) disillusioned by the political parties we have to choose from.

            Fundamentally, I guess I still believe that everyone should have the right to vote, and testing people before they can vote raises all sorts hackles, though I am entirely sympathetic why you might suggest it.

            We are due to have a referendum during the next Parliament over the UK’s membership of the Common Market, and my feeling is that the knee jerk response of a lot of Brits (possibly a majority) is to get out, despite it probably being the worst thing we could do. People are so narrow-minded and parochial, selfish and greedy. Oh bugger, just depressed myself. Oh well. Onwards.

          • Lord Narf says

            In a two-party system, as we have, it becomes a much bigger thing, voting against. A Republican president will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling that makes abortion legal, and they’ll also overturn Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling that makes it legal for gay people to have sex with each other.

            As long as I live in a swing state, I’ll vote straight-ticket Democrat, since the Green Party has no chance in hell of winning anything. As much as I hate so many of Obama’s decisions, a Republican would have been worse, because he would have stacked the Supreme Court to the point that we would effectively be a theocracy, despite our secular constitution. It sucks not having a viable, truly-liberal choice.

          • EnlightenmentLiberal says

            Narf, humor me. Can you think of any prominent cases where a modern direct democracy ballot initiative in the US actually did significant good at “checking the abuse of power” quote unquote? I know I can quote many going the opposite way.

            I think it’s easier in some aspects to buy the public than to buy a politician. The politician is going to be smart(er). The people are going to be stupid. The politician has personal responsibility because it’s just one guy, so he has to research it, and stake his reputation on it. The people don’t have the time or inclination to properly research it, and cannot be held accountable for their actions in the same way.

          • Lord Narf says

            There have been a few constitutional amendments that were finally done through the legislature, before the public petition that was coming together could force the issue. I forget exactly which ones, though. That’s what the people behind Wolfpack are trying to get together, to deal with the Citizens United ruling.

            Funny how we keep wrapping back around to the same core issue: that of an ignorant, disinterested populace.

      • chris lowe says

        Tenrai, you come across as so beaten down. It shows in your, to be incredibly kind, misguided statements and accusations. But I can’t blame you, being in the middle of a national and global clusterfuck on so many levels. Clear thinking and sound game plans seem like such a rarity. The number of options seem to be shrinking. But do not underestimate “just talk”. What you contemptuously call idle and ineffectual talk is actually discoursing on the only conversation worth having. Forming ideas and ideals is the the only sane way to rise above the din.

        A call to action without a foundational plan is merely lashing out and running around like a chicken with your head cut off.

        It behooves anybody who says we should do this or do that that they should really, really know what they are talking about. A good starting point is to have these “ineffectual talks”, especially with those who can lend expertise. All your gut can tell you is if you are hungry or need to poo.

        • says

          Please enlighten me. Since you seem to have the answers. There is quite a difference with reality and proposals with no action what-so-ever.

          I make enough to invest several K in other projects over the last 8 years. So, again tell me how I’m beaten down. I’m working to beat a system.

          • Lord Narf says

            Well, if you make a few million more, yearly, you should be able to take advantage of the cons and loopholes that allow you to pay 14% a year. Beyond that, I can’t help you.

      • Russell Glasser says

        I do not for a moment believe that you pay an effective tax rate of 45% on your entire income, FYI.

        • says

          Okay Russ, I will let you do the math. My bonus this year was 7652.79 and my take home was 4589.38.

          Let me see. My math is sort of Rusty But.

          4589.38/ 7652.79 = 0.5997
          0.59970024004317379674602334573404 * 7652.79 = 4589.38

          So looks like I get 59.9% and the government get 40.0%. Its not 45%. However, its way more than I feel I should pay.

          • Lord Narf says

            Bonuses are usually deducted at a higher rate than a normal paycheck, because they’re expected to be completely within a much higher tax bracket. I don’t believe that you pay that for the entirety of your paycheck.

            Give us the numbers off of your last W2, and I’ll believe your numbers more. I bet your effective tax rate is down more around 30%, if it’s even that high. Taxes are assessed in a tiered system. The first $12,000 or so isn’t taxed. The next $10,000 or so is taxed at a very low rate. The next $15,000 or $20,000 is taxed at a slightly higher rate than that.

            Your normal paychecks reflect that tiered system. A bonus check is assumed to all be at the absolute highest tier that you pay for any of your money, so the accountants at your company withheld appropriately. Particularly after you factor in deductions, you’ll be nowhere near that 40%. You’re only paying such high percentages on money over $150,000 or so, depending upon your living situation.

          • jdoran says

            Um, you do realize that the amount you actually owe for the year in taxes can be completely different than what you paid into withholding over the course of the year, right? That’s why we have to file taxes after the year ends. If you work a lot of overtime or get a lot of bonuses, you’ll probably have a large refund coming to you when you file.

            So, yes, about 40% of your bonus was withheld, but that’s not the amount you actually owe in taxes.

          • Lord Narf says

            It’s worse than that, jdoran. He used a bonus check as an example. Yeah, the numbers on that aren’t going to be at all atypical.

          • says

            Don’t like me using my bonus? Well how you like a friend showing up at your house on bonus day and say hand me 40% of what you make well just because I need it.

            HA, I work salary which means no Overtime.

            Only the wife gets to see the W2.

            I’m in a tax bracket with does at the end of the year amount for 35% of my base income being taxed. I would love to have the magic tax bullet and find a way to change the amount I pay to like 15% max.

          • Lord Narf says

            Using a bonus check as your example isn’t honest, man. That was my only point. A bonus check isn’t going to be withheld at the same rate as the rest of your pay.

            Is that 35% of your total income, though? Or is that just the highest tax bracket that you hit, at the upper end of your income? In other words, after you take out all of your deductions, take the total amount that you owed in taxes for the year and divide it by the total amount you made, is it really 35%?

            And I don’t need to see your W2. There’s rather dangerous-to-reveal information on those. Just those two numbers are the important ones, like I said two posts back. Technically, I guess I don’t even mean the ones off your W2, since you should have additional deductions that weren’t listed on that, which will lower your effective tax rate further.

            I don’t even mean that it’s that important that you tell me. In all honesty, I couldn’t care less. Hell, we’ve already dropped so significantly, from your initial 45% statement. :D There’s a huge difference between paying 45% taxes and 35% taxes. It sounds like you haven’t really run all of the numbers to see what the situation really is. That’s deliberate, on the part of the government and on the part of those bribing our government, to some degree. Our tax code is intentionally complicated, to benefit people with high-end accountants who spend all year figuring out how to keep them from paying taxes, as much as possible.

            As for paying 14% taxes, like I said, you’ll have to make a hell of a lot more money. There are all sorts of tax scams available only to the super rich: tax shelters, structuring payments so that they count as investment income and are taxed at a grotesquely lower rate …
            Anyone in this country making less than $1 million a year is being fucked by the multi-millionaires and billionaires. They’re not paying their fair share, but they expect us to. Like I initially said, Romney paid something like 14% on tens of millions of dollars, in the past couple of years, and I’m sure his percentage in the several preceding years was significantly lower, since he refused to show even 5 years worth of his tax returns. There was something disgusting in them that he didn’t want to show, I’m sure.

          • says

            Okay, I get it. Shouldn’t use my bonus to show I was taxed at 40%, or my regular pay of 35%., or my tax returns break even. Well, because I’m trying to build a business without the banks.

            I should not be upset that 40% of me driving 3 – 4hr in traffic each day, 10 hr days and being on call 24/7 all for the companies’ Hero Bonus. Nor should I be upset at my total take home / what I make raw with Taxes * 100 ) -100 ends up to be 35%. OKAY.

            HA, you know there been a benefit to this thread. Alicia’s rose-colored-glass are broken. Skepticism doesn’t stop people from envy, nor sexism, nor elitism, or any ism for that matter. I just mean one thing in common and nothing else.

            I take a page from Neil Degrasse Tyson and say “I just don’t have time.” There is just too much to do in this life to define myself as an ism. hahahah

          • jdoran says

            Neil DeGrasse Tyson still finds the time to speak at skeptics’ events.

            Anyway, yes, skepticism isn’t a magic wand. It doesn’t make horrible people nice, but it does make their excuses for being horrible fall flat. It doesn’t make naïve people worldly, but it does give them a toolset to help keep them from being taken advantage of. And it doesn’t make ill (mentally or physically) people well, but it does help them weed out the harmful or useless treatments from the beneficial.

            What’s interesting is that you seem to relish your wife’s “glasses being broken”, instead of trying to help her gently remove them. Perhaps she needs one fewer toxic person in her life?

        • says

          And, I bust my a$$ for every dollar. 3-4hr in traffic 10hr and 12hr day. Also being on-call. And working on the weekends when I can on Alicia projects.

          So, I believe the lazy government partner I have in my business is making too much.

          Anonymous

          • chris lowe says

            Gentlemen, The subject of this post was: Is Christianity foundationally nice to people? Big chunks of this thread look more like the comment section of a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed!

            BTW to the question of nice, in my opinion, NO

          • says

            Yeah, I just got derailed by a fellow atheist calling me worthless is all–do apologize, but it was hard not to face palm. Seems Atheists can be illogical ($5.00 for a dress made with $120 dollars worth of material?–WHAT economy could survive that?) and also not so nice as well.

          • Lord Narf says

            Uhhhh, Chris? How often do these things actually stay completely on topic? :D

            $5.00 for a dress made with $120 dollars worth of material?–WHAT economy could survive that?

            Hell, even if we were as generous as possible, and we reinterpreted his statements to mean that two dresses with the same material cost should cost the same, regardless of the skill and time used to assemble them, that’s idiotic … and if we allow him a little more, saying that the cost of the dress should be regulated to a standardized cost based upon materials and time, regardless of the skill used to put it together … it doesn’t really help much.

            What he’s speaking about is pure Marxism, which has so many flaws in it that I’m surprised that anyone fell for Marx’s crap. The labor of the cook is what adds value to the meal? The hell it does. A skilled cook can take ingredients with a cost of $1 and create a masterpiece that is worth $15 or $20. An inept cook can take $5 worth of ingredients and in the same time, he can turn it into something worthless, except perhaps as compost.

            And as I said in my direct response, his concept of merchants being forced to sell at the same price and those who suck being driven out of business is so childishly simplistic as to be laughable. How do you deal with the demand, when everyone wants to go to the best 0.01% of cooks out there? How do you determine who is allowed to pay the same damned price to the master chef and who has to go somewhere else?

          • says

            Precisely, which is why the concept is so illogical. How can a skeptic come up with that jumbled mess? It seems to come from a place of wanting to make the finer things accessible and punish those whose crafts make the most money due to the consumer supply and demand set up. hello. There is a reason why they are the “finer things”, and it is usually related to labor and the cost of building materials–as well as skill.

          • Lord Narf says

            Yeah, I’m far from a pure capitalist … more towards the socialist end, actually … but the pure version of just about any economic ideology leads to problems of some sort. You need to blend in the strengths of another to counteract the weaknesses of your base system.

            Right now, for example, we seem to be way too freaking far towards the capitalist end of things, in the US, when we allow people making tens of millions of dollars a year to pay a lower percentage in taxes than people making $50,000 a year. That’s a bit fucked up. We need a bit more government involvement, but the Republicans in the House are jamming anything productive.

          • chris lowe says

            This movie has been played out before. When a conglomerate owns and controls the government, army,etc. it’s called a Banana Republic. This is not good good news for peons like me. Thank goodness I’m under a regime that is less inclined than yours to act this out. Please tell me your republicans aren’t going to win power any time soon. Please?

            A few decades ago we had a Prime Minister who once said “Being neighbours of the U.S. is kinda like sleeping with an elephant. If the elephant rolls over……”

          • says

            What he’s speaking about is pure Marxism, which has so many flaws in it that I’m surprised that anyone fell for Marx’s crap. The labor of the cook is what adds value to the meal? The hell it does. A skilled cook can take ingredients with a cost of $1 and create a masterpiece that is worth $15 or $20. An inept cook can take $5 worth of ingredients and in the same time, he can turn it into something worthless, except perhaps as compost.

            This is the most ignorant thing about marxism I’ve had the displeasure of reading in the last year. You’re going to prove Marx was wrong about labor adding value by invoking… how labor adds value. Actually, I suspect if I read even more comments you’ll lose that title.

          • Lord Narf says

            Please tell me your republicans aren’t going to win power any time soon. Please?

            The recent pattern is for a change of parties in the presidency every 8 or 12 years or so. Look at the list of the last 10 or 12 presidents. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidents_of_the_US#List_of_presidents

            Starting with the current one, going back:
            Democrat
            Republican
            Democrat
            Republican
            Republican
            Democrat
            Republican
            Republican
            Democrat
            Democrat
            Republican
            Democrat
            Democrat

            I’m not sure Gerald Ford really counts, since he never won an election, but he was the second double-Republican. Lyndon Johnson also took over from Kennedy, then had the incumbency advantage to win the one election that he ran in as president.

            So, I’m not really sure, but it doesn’t look good. We need someone completely insane, like Rick Santorum, coming up as the Republican nominee. Maybe then, the Republicans will get the message. The message that they took away from the 2008 and 20012 elections is that a moderate Republican can’t win a general election, so the talking heads on the conservative side are trying to push the party even further to the right. Maybe if we get someone like Santorum, who is so insane that he’s repeatedly on record as saying that birth-control pills should be illegal, we can have another Democrat as president, in 2016. Otherwise, I’m not so sure.

          • Lord Narf says

            Rutee, I’m not even having a discussion with someone who begins it my misrepresenting what I said.

          • jdoran says

            Rutee, that has to be the most kneejerk, ignorant interpretation of someone’s comment about Marxism that I’ve read recently. Narf clearly meant the distinction between skilled and unskilled laborers. Different people laboring at the same task for the same amount of time will not create products of equal value.

            What value is a hammer compared to the hand that holds it?

            Depends. Do they know how to use a hammer correctly? Maybe you should distinguish between the holders that do and those that don’t via an incentive of some kind. How about an economic incentive? We’ll call it a “paycheck”.

  25. says

    Oh, I know socialism is not communism, but when Raymond says that he thinks everyone should make an across the board wage with a cap on what we could make depending on he felt just and not via supply and demand, that leans a bit more communist than socialist. I was refering to
    that comment in particular.

  26. jolly says

    Raymond, I have to assume you have never served on any city council or advisory board because even in a small city like the one I live in, there is a tremendous amount of information to be analyzed before making a decision. There is no way I could take the time to vote for every thing locally, county, state and federal. I think if people cared enough about voting in decent people that represented them, that would be enough. Alicia, I love your questioning whether the meek and mild Christians are good people. When they are, I ask, just think how much better they would be without their idea of god.

  27. says

    The problem with your premise P. J. Knight is that organized religion is only the beginning of a much greater evil known as a Theocracy like Iran. The people of this country are slaves to some superstitious god that is run by one person known as the Supreme Leader. His word is law and is not questioned because he is the only person who is in contact with this god and this god has the ultimate authority. Absolute authority corrupts absolutely. It is the pinnacle of prejudice and slavery and the consequences of religion without reason.

    • P J Knight says

      @ Sir Real,

      Not sure I understand the problem with my premise (as I am not sure what you mean).

      Theocracies are nothing new, and in the middle-ages many European monarchies were run like Theocracies anyway. The Roman Church had huge power (still does, but not as much).

      And I live in a country where the Head of state is also head of the (state) church (though of course she doesn’t have real power in either capacity).

      • Lord Narf says

        England isn’t a real theocracy, man. Hell, your royal monarch has no actual power even. England is a weird country that modernized without losing a lot of its ancient accessories, which are held onto symbolically.

        If you want an actual theocracy, you have to go somewhere like the middle-east … or America in another 12 years, if we get Rick Santorum as president in 2016.

        • P J Knight says

          Yes, I know, didn’t I actually say that? (read between the last pair of parentheses)

          The situation here is far more complex. The Royal Family still has a lot of power (even if it isn’t constitutional in anyway). Anybody who thinks that they don’t is incredibly naive.

          I wasn’t suggesting that the UK was a real Theocracy. I obviously should have deleted that sentence before posting as it just muddied the point.

          • Lord Narf says

            Ohhhhhh, that was the ‘she’. I missed that detail. I know the monarch is the head of the CoE, but for some reason, my brain didn’t assemble all the bits of that sentence. I just didn’t process that one properly, I guess.

          • Lord Narf says

            I guess, about the queen, I was just nitpicking. She has no power, but she has a hell of a lot of influence, is perhaps how I would state it, if you can appreciate the distinction.

          • P J Knight says

            I guess we could debate the difference between influence & power, but she has huge wealth, and her family own huge swathes of land and property. And Royal patronage still exists.

            She is very careful to keep out of party politics, but she doesn’t really need to get involved in that pettiness, does she?

            And btw, England isn’t the UK. I am sure my Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish compatriots would take exception to that…

          • Lord Narf says

            Yeah, we could debate the difference, but there wouldn’t be much point, besides my perverse enjoyment of pedantry.

            Eh, British … Welsh … whatever. :D

      • says

        “At it’s dark heart (organised) religion has nothing to do with any god(****) and everything to do with social control.” Without the god element being involved they would have no control or power because people would see right through their deception, so the fundamental element needed to gain someones trust is something that can not be proven. Organized religion is trying to gain control where as a Theocracy has control.

        I do hope that this illustrates my point and sorry for any confusions on my part.

          • says

            Thank you for your consideration. I do however am in full agreement about equality and showing respect to others no matter what our differences might be. I believe that the time has come to end the misconceptions of what a true atheist, or free thinker is all about. I have lost a lot of friends simply because of my decision to become an atheist, but that does not mean I haven’t lost my compassion for others or my ability to help those who are less fortunate then myself. It simply means that I have chosen a way of life that suits me best, and that is to feel with an open heart and think with an open mind. In other word “I don’t need any god to be good”.

  28. says

    Friends, I’ve met who wish to continue discourse can do so at [email protected]

    Re-examine all that you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.
    Walt Whitman

    I love it when someone insults me. That means that I don’t have to be nice anymore.
    Billy Idol

    I didn’t respond well to a firm hand and insults.
    Terry Bradshaw

    Music and Math:

    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1869

    Music and healing (PROVEN by science)

    http://www.cracked.com/article_18405_7-insane-ways-music-affects-body-according-to-science.html

    http://www.brainmusic.org/

    Literaure and movements:

    http://staff.gps.edu/gaither/literary_movements.htm

      • Lord Narf says

        No idea. I chucked all of the psychotropic meds when I was 18, and my parents couldn’t make me take them anymore.

        • says

          Dated a guy who was on Zoloft and he said that stuff just make him feel even–no highs–no lows–just there. Yeah, he chucked it. Shit, I may be all Van Gogh and shit but yeah, rather rant off and be passionate or look like an idiot than do that to myself. Or someone else for that matter, unless they like–ate people and wore their flesh or something.

          • Lord Narf says

            I think anyone who goes around wearing people suits is beyond the help of psychotropic medication, anyway.

          • chris lowe says

            If I may interject on a personal note here, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, which in retrospect has been a lifelong condition. This type of depression is not the common kind where negative shit goes on in your life and it gets you down.

            No what I have is a permanent state. I could win the lottery (I didn’t), Have a cheerful, supportive, hyper intelligent and loving wife (which I once did have). A secure well paying job(which turned out not to be that secure after all). None of this would have any bearing on the sense of gloom and doom that dominated my psyche. It kills yourself worth. In other words my environment or situation was divorced from my mood. My kind of depression is the kind that depresses other people.

            Turns out the cause and solution were very simple. I had been operating under a congenital shortage of serotonin, a chemical in your brain that somehow allows you to have a sense of security and well being(not euphoria, that’s something different). Prozac was the cure.

            People tend to go oh-oh when they hear this. Prozac is a very specific and targeted drug, and has NO other use than what it is designed for. It is not a mood enhancer (a euphoric).It is not an appropriate drug for situational depression, as a matter of fact it can excaberate the situation in that case. Nor is it a tranquilizer. It simply alleviates a sense of dread that your chemical situation would otherwise give you no choice but to have.

            Just so you know I am painfully aware of the stigma attached to this life saving (to me) drug. It has nothing to do with a weakness of character or psychopathic behaviour, or loss of control of your mind (insanity)

            I’ll get off this little hobby horse of mine now. I just wanted to dispel the stereotype of legitimate prozac users.

          • Lord Narf says

            You don’t have to convince me of this. Psychotropic medications do some amazing things for lots of people. I just hate the @#$%^&* things, personally. I’m functional, about half of the time, so I cope.

            For me, the brain balancing effect isn’t worth the … well, losing the imbalance. Being screwed up in the head is great for your creativity, and being naturally imbalanced keeps me from having to rely on illegal narcotics or hallucinogens.

            Sounds like you’re bipolar, but your cycle is broken. Christ, that sounds like it would be horrible. I swing back and forth wildly, so I’m rarely on the depressive end long enough for it to cripple me. It’s all about cost/benefit, and for me, the cost of the bipolar disorder isn’t that high. As long as I’m enjoying the benefit, I can’t complain.

          • chris lowe says

            No, bipolar is a completely different animal. That used to be called manic-depressive, and is characterized by wild mood swings with corresponding wild jekyll and hyde behaviour. My condition is more mundane than that in that there really isn’t a “swing” involved. I just need a correction out of a depressive trough. It’s relatively no big deal. More to the point is the stigma involved with the drug itself and the people who need it and i only want to de-mistify it.There is a chemical treatment for bipolar too. It’s called lithium.

            I think there is a fear out there that psychotropics rob you of your personality, or that it dulls your senses. I’m not even sure if fluoxetine (prozac) and lithium are classified as psychotropic. But even if they are i see it as an enabler to allow your personality to shine through. I don’t think that being creative and at the same time fucked up would necessarily follow that your creativity would disappear if you come to some form of inner balance. Actually evidence points to more that balance enhances creativity. These are not chemical lobotomies.

            Too, if you like the soup you steep in to be hot and or spicy, you’re just showing a preference for creativity or living on the edge and there’s nothing “wrong” with that. We on this blog know where “judgement” comes from.

          • Lord Narf says

            Same chemical doing it though, I meant. Bipolar Disorder is just cyclical, where yours is perpetual.

        • says

          Chris–My mom was a paranoid shcizophrenic and back in the day she was on thorazine–I meant no disrepsct to the mentally ill or ppl who need medicine be able to function in life ..really, I was just crackin’ wise.

      • says

        It’s a pleasure to have you back. It’s just that there are some people who can’t appreciate what they don’t understand. I have a great admiration for the arts and culture which is an avenue for people to express themselves in a way that is not prejudiced. Welcome back Alicia.

  29. says

    Now, that my hubby and Narf have calmed me down, I will say this. The reason why certain things cost more is because the components to build them cost more. A silk dress can’t cost the same as a cotton dress cause silk cloth costs more. Silk cost more because it takes more care and time to produce. If silk costs $20 a yard and cotton a dollar a yard, and I make s silk dress out of five yards and a cotton dress out of five yards–which is gonna cost more? The silk dress will cost $120 dollars to produce and the cotton dress $5 dollars to produce. How fair is it then to ask a person who invested $120 dollars in making that dress to sell it for $5 dollars? Does that even make sense? Would you do something that silly? There are certain types of rare wood that are difficult harvest–zebra wood for example. Because it is more difficult to obtain, employs more man hours, etc., etc., and is also rare, it costs more than pine. If you spend hundred of dollars on planks of zebra wood, how fair is it to be asked to build a zebra wood deck for the cost of a pine deck ? People have to eat–pay their rent–clothe their backs. And everyone does it differently. As to what art contributes, well, it’s like chocolate, we don’t NEED it but it is fun to eat in moderation. Art makes a space look beautiful and inviting, entertainment makes life fun and gives us value in contributing to our happiness and quality of life. Heck music has even been proven via scientific study to heal brain damage. It also helps with early learning math skills. Now, If you think those things have no value, then, dude, I can’t help you. As a writer, I invested tens of thousands of dollars into all the components of my craft. How fair then, is it to ask me to give it away for free after investing so much? It doesn’t matter what YOU think the value is…someone else values it. That ALONE makes it of value. Now, if you hate your job or lot in life, fine , but don’t rain on the parade of people who happen to have vocations they enjoy and also make money with. And that is all I have to say. Sorry for blowing up too–as a contractor I spend so much time having to chase down my money or being told what I SHOULD want for for my own work that I get tired of it.

    • jacobfromlost says

      “Sorry for blowing up too–as a contractor I spend so much time having to chase down my money or being told what I SHOULD want for for my own work that I get tired of it.”

      I’m right there with you, Alicia.

      watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

    • chris lowe says

      Chalk one up for unbeliever Adam Smith, author of “The Wealth of Nations”. Don’t bother to read it. He makes his point early, but goes on and on and on. Pretty dry stuff. But he makes exactly the point you do. (his arithmatic is better hahaha).

      Funny how these postings weave in and out of topic. Anybody remember the initial talking point? No cheating!

      • says

        @ Chris Lowe…..I know man and it’s weird–always had that issue with math goddammit–always. Even simple math–A doctor once told me it was a form of mild dyslexia but I never had it tested. I can see art patterns in anything. Most of those brain teasers where you have to figure out the picture within a picture, I always see immediately without trying. A right brain thing? Also have problems with non digital clock faces and left and right….

        As for the topic–yes–about someone espousing that Christian philosophy is primarily about being nice..pffffft…don’t get me started…

  30. says

    Thank you sweetheart. I didn’t mean to react so vehemently, it just stung to hear someone in our usually supportive community basically tell me that I am a worthless human LOL.

    • jacobfromlost says

      I’m a teacher, so I’m told I’m a worthless human all the time.

      We also get the whole, “Why do you think you are underpaid?” and, “If you don’t like how your being treated or paid, why don’t you do something else?” and “You should just do it for the love of the kids and not want money.”

      Just when you are trying to instill in the kids that they are valued and society believes in them, you have to teach in a building that is falling down, books that are falling apart (if they exist), classes packed with 35 students with behavior problems, and among students whose parents tell them teachers are lazy liberals who don’t know anything and don’t deserve to get paid…students who have no qualms telling you that right in the middle of class.

      And for most students I have, we teachers are the only example of highly educated people they know…and they see how we are treated daily. They get the lesson that society doesn’t really value education at all.

      • says

        Awww, hell to the naw’ll, teachers are far, far, FAR from worthless. You’re my heroes! It was a teacher who took me aside after class in the first grade and told me never to stop writing! Here is where Raymond and I agree. You are GROSSLY underpaid for what you do.

        • Lord Narf says

          It’s better up north, in the New England states and states like Illinois. Unions are the cure for damned near every labor-abuse issue. Even the fast food workers are unionizing, in New York, because they’re living in freaking New York City, working minimum wage … which isn’t anything approaching a livable wage anywhere else, never mind New York City.

  31. starskeptic says

    ‘regular speech conventions’ don’t take language differences into account – and politeness doesn’t imply acceptance.

        • Lord Narf says

          Huh? What the heck are you even trying to say? How does understanding what seems to be implied acceptance have anything to do with privilege?

          • says

            Yah know, looking at it with fresh eyes, Star Skeptic does have a point. Devoid of voice and facial cues–you could also so read that as, “Oh, you crazy Atheists–too funny–yeah keep doing that show now…” which is why written communication is somewhat limited in regards to getting emotion across

          • Lord Narf says

            At the very least, though, I would expect a followup question of some sort, if there were any remaining points of contention … or something more than just good-natured thanks. He took the effort to write back, but he didn’t ask any of those questions. Seems like a fairly good indicator.

            Besides, the writer is an atheist, and he’s apparently from a country in which the craziest Christian element doesn’t have the politics of the country in a death-grip. I can understand how someone from one of the Scandinavian countries might need to have this sort of thing explained to them.

    • Lord Narf says

      Yeah, the idiot who picked the “correct” answer isn’t biased as hell, by any means … the only answer given by another dishonest creationist.

      im just truly curious and open to all of your honest answers!

      Buuuuuuuullllllllllshit.

      • P J Knight says

        Are creationists dishonest though? I get the impression they’re true believers, which is the big problem. And you can’t argue with them, not really, though sometimes it can be fun to try, and to wind them up a bit (though it does become increasingly futile and depressing sometimes).

        I’d pity them if I didn’t despise their political agendas so much.

        • Lord Narf says

          Depends upon the creationist, of course. The apologists themselves are often willfully ignorant, to the point of dishonesty.

          Ray Comfort has had too many evolutionary biologists explain to him, to his face, what’s wrong with his “clever” talking points and catch-phrases, but he keeps repeating them. He’s had the difference between a painting, a building, and “creation” explained to him too many times for him to not understand what a stupid argument it is, but he keeps using it. I consider that dishonest.

          This girl who put out the question had a specific agenda, and I take her statement about being truly curious to be a complete lie.

          • P J Knight says

            “Ignorant to the point of dishonesty.”

            I don’t see how, if you’re being totally sincere, you can be anything other than honest. You might be a total fuckwit, but that doesn’t mean you’re being dishonest, does it, unless I completely misunderstand what the words mean. If they have more than a few brain-cells to rub together they are probably lying to themselves, and thereby lying to others, but meh, if you take things at face value… It’s amazing what utterly stupid people can actually believe (and even some smart folks too).

            Ray Comfort is a very very stupid man. And none so blind etc. I think the scary thing about Comfort, and his type, is that they are honest. In a kind of perverse way, perhaps, at least to the likes of us, and I think that he is probably very sincere (and thus being as honest as he can be – unless he’s a completely cynical douche); it is amazing the (I would say intellectual, but that would be flattering Comfort too much) knots that some people can tie themselves up in, to avoid the truth, but they don’t see what they’re doing as lying or being dishonest, at least from a theological point of view.

            I only see what they are doing as lying or being dishonest when it enters the political arena, when it often enters the realm of the completely outrageous.

            If we go to the girl on the page asking the question, I am somewhat ambivalent. She maybe genuinely curious, and so it may be the first step to apostasy (one can but hope), but yeah there could be all sorts of other reasons she asked the question in the first place, not least of which might be doing as she’s told, or showing off to her buddies or to her priest or the congregation of her church (you see lots of Xians trolling the atheist pages on Facebook for what are probably similar reasons).

            Ho hum.

          • Lord Narf says

            Yeah, I … guess that’s one way of looking at it. You really think he’s one of those sorts who is so certain of the Truth he’s found that it casts doubt on all of the solid evidence we’ve discovered by actually examining the world around us? You really think he’s that stupid?

            I dunno, man. It makes me feel a little better to think that’s he’s just a completely cynical douche, to use your words … or maybe he just turns off his brain the moment someone starts talking about evolution, so that he doesn’t allow the Devil’s lies to enter his mind? He just goes into some sort of non-absorbent trance and waits until its his turn to speak again?

            Ugh, people like him are so freaking maddening. How the hell do you even tell? At least with the political con artists, they so often get caught on tape, exposing their true motivations, in their closed-door sessions.

            About the Yahoo Answers girl, though. I dunno. When she picked the one answer that fit her preconceived position, I’ve got to think that she was just blowing smoke.

            Ray probably has his mind twisted up into so many little knots, when his livelihood depends upon him remaining willfully ignorant and misrepresenting biological evolution at every turn. This girl could just be one of the ones who has legitimately not been exposed to alternative perspectives. That doesn’t make her one comment any more honest, though, when she probably knew from the beginning which sort of answer she was going to pick, no matter how much she had to stretch.

          • P J Knight says

            @Lord Narf

            My gut instinct is that Comfort is truly, and perhaps (to somebody reasonably intelligent) unbelievably stupid. As I said on Facebook earlier today, I am amazed that he can still walk upright. Bright individuals just do not understand how mind-boggling stupid some people can be. I just don’t think that somebody can be that cynical and still explain with a totally straight face some of the things he attempts to justify, unless he totally believed it, or else the enormity of his contempt for his followers and for everyone is the size of the universe he fails to comprehend…

            I think it was Harlan Ellison who once described a Hollywood producer he once worked with as having “the intellectual capacity of an artichoke”. That sums up Ray quite nicely I think. The man can’t possibly believe in evolution, because he is the living example of its opposite!

          • says

            @ P J Boo and Yah!

            In regards to Ray I dunno–the jury is still out with me. I used to be religious and I met plenty of folks who believed the kinds of thing Comfort does–and even crazier…

            Like BELIEVED it–wholeheartedly.

            Example, my pastor told me after my first heart sneakingly, freaky sleep paralysis event that it was the devil coming after me for asking a question about tithes during a prayer meeting. I was letting Satan use me apparently. Everyone in the church swallowed that hook line and stinker. I was already mentally on my way out he door so her response had only angered me.

          • Lord Narf says

            But did those people have the exposure to the evolution/creationism debate that Ray Comfort has had, Alicia? Ray and pretty much every other apologist out there have been exposed to the evidence sufficiently that they have to either be dishonest or have a special … something going on in their head.

            There are still plenty of places in this country in which the primary-school teachers don’t teach the chapters on evolution, because they don’t want to deal with the outraged fundie parents. Then there’s a sizable chunk who actually teach creationism, despite all of the court rulings about it. If people in those areas never go to a secular college, they might never even read as much as a page about what the theory actually says, just the inane distorted version, as told by their fundamentalist preachers.

            The bit about your sleep paralysis reminds me of the woman who invited me to the first Pentecostal church that I visited, while I was wandering around trying to get a feel for a lot of the different denominations. She told me that my bipolar disorder was a generational curse, and that if I prayed, God would lift it from me. Of course, I had been an atheist for a long time, at that point, so it didn’t have much effect on me, besides making me laugh.

            ———-

            And PJ … you’re kind of winning me over a little, as I think about it more. Ray runs every talk and every interview he does on such a heavy script. Thinking back, it’s almost like watching a lot of professional sports stars talking to reporters, after the game. They “answer questions” without actually saying a damned thing, and even that seems like they’re rattling off something they’ve memorized.

            Ray could be a lot the same. He runs off of a more complex script, and he hits several actual points, even if they’re wrongheaded … but it’s still just simple memorization. He just looks practiced and vaguely competent, because of repetition.

            Part of the reason that he and Cameron got so badly wasted by the Rational Response Squad was because Ray and Kirk never said anything that wasn’t already a long-standing part of their script. The RRS people probably had planned responses ready … not that they really needed them, since unlike Ray and Kirk, those two are bright and capable of thinking on their feet, off-script.

          • says

            I do hear yah about evidence, but people can have a mind numbing propensity to weed out the shit they don’t want to hear. Had gal pals who did that regarding the men they dated. I would see very obvious not too great things about their fellows, but warnings do no good as they were able to wave away all my points with intellectual gymnastics that would make Mary Lou Retton proud. It was only after the dude did exactly what I predicted that they would listen, and yes, I resisted the I told yah sos.

          • P J Knight says

            “In regards to Ray I dunno–the jury is still out with me. I used to be religious and I met plenty of folks who believed the kinds of thing Comfort does–and even crazier…”

            No doubt, but just how dumb were they? Supposedly on one of his Facebook pages Ray told one of his commenters that there is more evidence for God than there is for the Sun. Ho hum.

            I must admit I quite like the “Fundies say the Darnedest thing” FB page. Am sure that they just fabricate things sometimes, because if some people were that stupid… Nah. some people are that stupid. And some are certainly barely literate.

            And indeed, even very intelligent people can just ignore things that they don’t want to believe in.

            @ Lord Narf,

            Though I’ve seen a lot of Ray’s “work” on YouTube (where I first came across the Atheist Experience) not familiar with the example you mentioned. I think he fails to comprehend many of the arguments railed against his viewpoint, and those he understands he simply ignores. Of course, he could just be an awesome actor taking the piss out of everyone.

            BTW have they fixed the preview button? As it just worked on the computer I’m currently using (though I am using Chromium, rather than Chrome or Firefox).

          • jdoran says

            Perhaps the best way to think of apologists who still believe in their faith is like people who accept the human-caused climate change model that still use their cars (which includes me). In the latter case, it’s a physical convenience that’s clung to and rationalized; in the former, it’s an axiomatic belief in a magic sky wizard.

          • Lord Narf says

            No doubt, but just how dumb were they? Supposedly on one of his Facebook pages Ray told one of his commenters that there is more evidence for God than there is for the Sun. Ho hum.

            I must admit I quite like the “Fundies say the Darnedest thing” FB page. Am sure that they just fabricate things sometimes, because if some people were that stupid… Nah. some people are that stupid.

            I’d bet that for almost every single one of them, some fundie said something similar. I’ve heard the most insane, obviously-wrong crap out of fundamentalists.

            I’ve heard someone say the similar statement to Ray’s comment about the sun, that there’s more historical evidence for Jesus Christ than there is for Julius Caesar. The guy had heard some preacher say it, and the statement validated his beliefs, so he swallowed it without thinking about it and began spitting it out to other people. Never mind the fact that only one extra-Biblical historian even vaguely close to Jesus’s supposed lifetime mentions Jesus specifically, and the passage about Jesus is almost certainly a forgery by later Christians.

            I’ve mentioned, elsewhere on the blog, the guy who passed along the claim that if the universe was the difference of a grain of sand, in its total mass, either greater or lesser, it would have collapsed back in upon itself before the big bang and never expanded, or it would have flown apart before atoms could even form. A brief questioning of a physics professor or probably a mathematics professor would have exposed the stupidity of that statement, but instead, he just passed it along without even thinking about it.

            Though I’ve seen a lot of Ray’s “work” on YouTube (where I first came across the Atheist Experience) not familiar with the example you mentioned.

            You mean the debate between him and the Rational Response Squad, right? I first saw a two-part version, a few years back, but I found this version, on YouTube, broken up into about a dozen pieces:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgm2cdibdhA&list=PL1696716355755B38
            It’s long but interesting.

  32. deepak shetty says

    Its curious – even if I strip Christianity of all the stupid stuff and take only the “good stuff” – it still seems to be a poorly thought, naive philosophy.
    For e.g. We have the Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone – It works when you use an example like adultery but as a principle it doesn’t work. If you replace the adulterer with a pedophile then the moral of the story would not work at all. Society must judge and must punish some crime.
    Or take the turn the other cheek – Non violence is a good thing? But then you’d have to advise the Jews (as Gandhi did) to allow the Nazis to kill them peacefully – It makes no sense. It doesn’t work if it is your spouse or your kids or someone innocent that are being threatened – you can’t really advise them to turn the other cheek.

    Liberal Christians do recognise this and say oh its just a bunch of guidelines , these are not absolutes , so use your judgement. The obvious response of why the Bible or Christianity and why not secular works of ethics and philosophy never gets a satisfactory response.

    • P J Knight says

      “Liberal Christians do recognise this and say oh its just a bunch of guidelines , these are not absolutes , so use your judgement. The obvious response of why the Bible or Christianity and why not secular works of ethics and philosophy never gets a satisfactory response.”

      Mainly because they were brought up in Xian societies! If they were born and educated within Islamic societies they would be Muslim! It doesn’t need t make much more sense than that, unfortunately. As I said in one of my comments above, some people need something else to make sense of the world, whether that’s a religion, a pseudo science or a political creed.

  33. says

    That has been my pet peeve…if you are goign to discard 99.9 percent of the bible for what amounts to secular morality–then why use the damned thing? Oh yeah, hope of heaven.

  34. says

    Yep, as witnessed by even atheist who cast off religions robes to, let’s say, chase after ever conspiracy theory out there with a near uncritical, or perhaps, overly critical eye. We have to give the world meaning for some reason, even if it is perverse….why does the fact that life is what we make it scare people?

  35. says

    I agree and would almost wager that she and a friend cooked up that bullshit to get thier POV across since so many Christians labor under the false assumption that their dominant worldview doesn’t get enough air time.

  36. says

    Yeah, but the problem here is that, like a lot of gross misinformation, it can reach people who may be on the fence and some idiots will say, “Well, that does make sense–what’s eugenics?” LOL. As much as I like to think otherwise, just visualize all the folks who ingest Comfort’s swill. Poor New Zealand.

  37. says

    I agree–if she was really seeking, why pick not only the one answer that coincided with her beliefs after so many valid points were made, but one that was made by someone who actaully claimed to had died and gone to heaven???? I don’t think a truth seeker would have done that. And to my Chagrin, when I did a evolution based search to find links for a friend, this was on the first page, three levels down…SMH.

  38. says

    Goddammit–I keep hitting reply in my email but my responses are not affixing to the comment I am addressing (the TAE page I get directed to looks wierd though and off center–maybe I need to change browsers…)

        • Lord Narf says

          Hmm, Firefox never gave me any issues. Are you running it with all sorts of weird plugins? Some sort of ad blocker or script blocker that screws with the JavaScript?

          • says

            Not even sure what that is about–I do have a lot of animation software running with graphic cards that continually reach out over the web for updates. Maybe they are screwing up something with that browser…I dunno–I only get so technical before I call the hubster to help me out.

  39. P J Knight says

    I tried to leave a comment earlier today and this page fell over in a heap, and I couldn’t reconnect to it. ! I hope I didn’t cause it to crash!

    Did anybody else notice any issues?

  40. Lord Narf says

    P J, I’m back towards the side of thinking that Ray Comfort is just a dishonest asshole. His newest video has the same sort of editing as his previous work. They mentioned it on the latest episode of Dogma Debate, and Hemant Mehta wrote a blog post.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/08/07/ray-comforts-new-anti-evolution-movie-is-now-online/

    This is coming after a previous exposure, in which he freaking changed the question that he asked people, in the editing process, in order to make them seem evil.

    He’s lying. He knows he’s lying. There has to be something more active and knowing, in his misrepresentation of evolutionary theory.

    • P J Knight says

      Hi Narf.

      Sorry, I was away for a few days and didn’t log on, so missed this.

      I was thinking about this in relation to his new film, which looks like a travesty. Even the title. I despair. I haven’t watched it because I know I will end up throwing things at the screen and don’t need the trauma (or want to have to go out & buy a new monitor!).

      I know what you mean, and I fear you may be right. He’s an excellent example of power being a corrupting influence. I am sure that he would have been pro the Inquisition! To preserve his position, like many a priest throughout history, he will do anything.

      And though he is obviously the kind of person who cannot abide people with different or opposing views, and I do think his methods are dubious to say the least, I think he sees it as defending the faith, by whatever means necessary (which is problematic obviously). He is also sacred of losing his flock to an alternative faith/truth/religion, which is what atheism is to him (it’s the way he sees things). You have to remember that he has a very very small mind.

      As for evolution, when you consider that many modern day Xians (including the Pope!) actually believe that it’s true, I think he’s also scared of what he is truly incapable of understanding.

      OTOH if you take as your starting point that the Bible is inerrant, and that the universe is only 6000 or so years old as a result, evolution takes far too long to work, and thus everything else must be a lie (or perhaps a trap set by the devil). This is a mind-set that is impossible to escape, especially if you’re none too smart, and can’t really work things out for yourself (or your self-interest is bigger than any external “truth”).

      I dunno, maybe I’m trying to be too fair. To be honest, I always try to see the other fellow’s point of view. I try to understand them, before I condemn them, but I find Comfort impossible to understand, so do I condemn him?

      Yes, I have to. I think he is a pernicious maggot, and a dangerous idiot.

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