Florida Church Cancels Funeral Of Married Gay Man

“I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle…” –T. W. Jenkins, pastor at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, FL
Translation: “I don’t have to try, after so many decades of practice.”

Julion’s death was expected
He’d been dying a number of years
Still, the end will leave none unaffected
And his husband shed plenty of tears

But the church where he was to be buried
Then found out that the dead man was gay
Worse than that, was the fact he was married
So they turned the man’s husband away

In this church, by this cross, ‘neath this steeple?
It could never be done, can’t you see?
Lest parishioners learn—gays are people
And the church is as wrong as can be [Read more...]

Before The Beginning

Day one was the day in which God creates light,
And the Earth—which came first, if my thinking is right—
Day two, we get water, both vapor and sea;
Then land, and some gardens, we get on day three;
The sun, and the moon, and the stars, on day four;
Day five we get fishes and birds by the score;
Day six we get animals, Adam, and Eve;
Day seven He rested, or so I believe.

He wrote it, of course, so he gets to be hero…
But what did God do on the day before zero?

If God is eternal, but matter is not,
Then He was here first (and by more than a lot!)
An eternity spent before we were here sinning,
Unless, of course, God has, himself, a beginning…
Either way, he was here before water or light
So… what was He doing, on minus-six night?
Was He here by his lonesome? Or here with some friends?
If so, for how long? Cos “before” never ends!

Sure, some can be hidden, with magic or tricks…
But what did God do on the day before nix?

If God is eternal, what happens before
Day Minus-Six-Million, Three-Thousand and Four?
Omniscient, and thus well aware of His fate,
With billions and trillions of eons to wait?
Did He sit there, divinely and utterly bored
As He waited the very first Year of Our Lord?
Since space—indeed, time—had not yet been created,
Seems God only knows just how long He has waited.

Can theology tell us—I think that it ought—
Just what did God do in the days before nought?

I’ve lost track of what I was reading that put this notion into my head. A comment somewhere, but where?

God Is Gonna Do Some Judging…

God is gonna do some judging—
Yes, He’s gonna show His wrath—
As a message that humanity
Has left the righteous path

God is gonna do some judging
And our sins have sealed our fate;
Yes, He’s going to show His visage
Any day now—just you wait!

God is gonna do some judging
And it’s gonna happen soon—
He will set the seas to boiling
Underneath a blood-red moon
He will punish us with torment
For the things we’ve all done wrong
And he’ll start now, any moment…
Well… It shouldn’t be too long.

God is gonna do some judging
So you’d better shape up quick
Cos the things He’s gonna do to you
Will more than make you sick
You’ll suffer, suffer, suffer
As a judgment for your sins—
You’ll regret your life of evil
From the moment He begins!
It’s a torture that’s eternal—
No relief can come from death!—
He’ll be starting… any minute…
Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

God is gonna do some judging—
Yes, we’ve heard it all before
God is coming down from Heaven
And he’s kicking down the door
Any second—any minute—
Any month or any year
Any century—millenium—
Yes, God will soon be here!

Cuttlecap tip to Ed, here.

No Black Mass For Harvard…

After quite a bit of back-and-forth, Harvard does the wrong thing. Well worth watching, if head-bangingly frustrating.

My favorite quote, of course, is from a Harvard Senior (and, I am guessing, Catholic), who noted “I am very pleased that my religion is not going to be desecrated or my gender objectified or my university embarrassed by these actions”… showing that even at Harvard, we cannot expect people to understand either A) the Satanist view of gender, or B) her own Catholic view.

Those pin-headed libruls at Harvard discovered*
American values they didn’t expect.
In Harvard’s array of fine classes, Black Masses
Are never included—it’s simple respect!
Why, Boston is Cath’lic, and Satan keeps waitin’,
He won’t be invited, and that’s for the best
The devil and “Cultural Studies” are buddies
But this isn’t culture, it’s purely hate-fest

It’s good that the Satanists’ voices, their choices,
Are silenced in favor of Catholic rule
It’s Harvard—alternative viewpoints are new points,
And freedom of speech isn’t taught at this school.
The students at Harvard object to a sect, to
A viewpoint that treats them as less than they are
The Catholic Church, though, keeps trying, denying
That women are equal… at least, not so far.

*this counts as a rhyme, courtesy of Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”.

“Atheism Is An Assumption…”

My aggregator just pointed me at a fairly heavy-handed piece that claimed “atheism is an assumption, not a reasonable conclusion from the evidence“. And while atheism is very often a conclusion (including, frankly, most of the substance of the linked piece), I absolutely agree that there are times when atheism is an assumption. Thing is, it has to be. And anyone who is not blinded by their own ideology would agree:

Let’s assume God exists—for some value of “God”
Let’s assume this existence is more than façade—
There are many contenders—which one gets the nod?
Which God is assumed to be true?

We could start with Apollo, or Odin, or Thor,
Quetzalcoatl or Ra, perhaps Yahweh, or more,
Maybe one we’ve forgotten, though worshipped before,
But, just one. Or, it could be, a few.

If the Christians are right, but they don’t all agree,
Then which one of their thousands of sects could it be?
Is their God just one god, or divided in three?
To a father, a son, and a ghost?

Just consider the options—it’s really quite fun—
There are thousands of gods, so which god is the one?
And since each bears the burden of “why not, well… none?”
The assumption of God is now… toast.

The linked piece (here it is again, just in case) holds a highly skeptical standard over cosmic origins (“big bang”) and evolution (or, as it is called, “Darwinian, fully atheistic evolution”), but drops those standards precipitously to consider “evidence about the life of Christ” (hey, there’s evidence, and then there’s evidence!)

Ok, here’s the deal. The assumption of atheism is, frankly, a requirement. True Christian Believers should welcome it; only by assuming there is no god can they demonstrate that the no-god hypothesis is inadequate, and that theirs is right. If we start off by assuming the existence of god, we cannot conclude that this god exists, other than circularly.

So yeah, let’s start off with the assumption that there is no god. And work from there. And if there is evidence of a god (which one?), let us present that evidence, and require evidence for this god over that one.

What? No specific evidence for a particular god? We have to assume the existence of this god, and look for proof against?

Atheism is an assumption of naturalism. This is trivially true. But if you like, we can start out with any number of assumptions, and reach atheism as a conclusion. The linked article disingenuously conflates assumptions and conclusions… and frankly, it must. It can’t make an argument for its own religious views without making the same argument for tens of thousands of competing views. Atheists are wrong? Yay, Zeus!

Or… which god shall we assume exists?

God Goes To Court In New York

A little bit short
On His credit report?
No, you don’t want to mess with divinity—
Y’see, God is the sort
Who will take you to court
If you say He can’t buy His Infiniti.

A silly little story on NPR:

As the saying goes, “In God We Trust, all others pay cash.”

But in the case of Russian immigrant and businessman God Gazarov, cash may be the only option.

That’s because, according to The New York Post, credit reporting agency Equifax has refused to acknowledge that he has any financial history whatsoever, despite having high scores with two other major credit agencies.

He was named after his grandfather, apparently, and not his heavenly father. Equifax suggested changing his name to fix the problem. God’s lawyers have other suggestions.

Oh, and it really was an Infiniti he was trying to buy. I mean, what else would God drive?

“A Greater Fool Than The Atheist”

There’s fools and then, there’s greater fools
Like those who went to fancy schools
For silly stuff like Kepler’s rules
And other science stuff

The planetary hows and whys
Show God at work—that’s no surprise.
You need to back your case with lies?
The bible is enough

So my aggregator threw a site at me I had not seen before. It put me in mind of arguments I have not heard since grade school (about which, more below). It began by slapping two groups with the same bible verse (how economical!):

In the Bible, Psalm 53:1 says “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good”. We last spoke of the willful blindness of the atheist, who refuses to acknowledge his Creator. They believe in the ridiculous concept of evolution, which has no explanation for the beginning of life, and how fruits, nuts, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and herbs for our health were provided. As foolish as the atheist may be, there is a group that’s even more foolish: they are the Muslims.

So, yeah, we’re fools. This guy is gonna teach us.

Let’s start with the Moon, for it is what the Muslims worship. It is the largest relative satellite in the solar system. From when the renewed Moon (lower crescent) is sighted in Jerusalem, to the next sighting of the renewed Moon, is about 29.53+ days. During the months of October to March, the Moon is closer to the Earth, and has a shorter (smaller) orbit around the Earth.
During April to October, the Moon is farther away from the Earth, and has a longer (larger) orbit around the Earth, and increases its velocity. It does this in order to remain in sync with the Earth’s distance from the Sun,maintaining its apparent equal size with the Sun, as viewed from Earth. The Atheist thinks that happened by random chance. [italics mine]

No, the atheist thinks what you just said is not true. It reminds me a bit of a bit of God-evidence I heard as a small child. We could trust the Genesis account of Eden, you know, because of biology; it is a medical fact that men have one fewer ribs than do women.

Now, this was easily checkable, thought not so much for a pre-internet kid. Encyclopedias did not actually outright say that men and women had the same number of ribs (because their writers evidently never considered the possibility that someone might actually need that bit of information spelled out for them!), and the claim was verified by at least one teacher (who, in hindsight, I can see was more religious than scientific in background)

And Mr. Cummings’s claim about the moon’s orbit is likewise wrong. Not only is it wrong, it actually contradicts observations that had been made since well before Christianity began. The moon and stars were important; they were carefully observed. The moon was larger and smaller, the planets moved, sometimes apparently slowing down and speeding up, even moving backward (as observed by us, anyway–thus “mars in retrograde”–a claim that the moon goes faster the further it is from earth would not be made based on the observed moon. Rather, the attempt to have the moon prove God’s existence has actually forced us (well, Mr. Cummings, anyway) to actively ignore evidence and make shit up.

My comment there, just in case…

Mr Cummings, you might want to check your science.

Any satellite (including the moon) in its elliptical orbit does not move faster when it is at its apogee (furthest distance); its fastest speed is actually at its perigee (closest distance). This is, you will note, the exact opposite of what you claim here. So… which is wrong? Science, or you?

You might also want to take a look at the beautiful phenomenon of the annular eclipse, in comparison to the total eclipse. The sun and moon do not, as you claim, maintain an apparent equal size, but vary enough for a spectacular variation in eclipses, depending on whether the sun or the moon appears larger (for annular and total eclipses, respectively). Again, you will note, this is the exact opposite of what you have written here. Will you change your claim? Or will you deny the evidence of the very sun and moon themselves?

If I cannot trust you to speak the truth about these simple, obvious things, why on earth should I trust you on anything else? For instance, it is easy to check your “I have been told” story about Obama (http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/weddingring.asp). If you are so gullible when the evidence is easy to see, is there something about 2,000-year-old information that somehow makes it *more* reliable?

If I sound harsh or impolite here, please understand, I am responding to a post that A) calls me a fool, and B) does so based on clearly false information, which C) is very easily checkable.

The title of the post is The Truth of Genesis: The Muslim Is A Greater Fool Than The Atheist – Part 1B No, really.

Two days late to be an April Fools Day joke.

PZ Gets Demoted

You should make a major issue
Of incinerating tissue
If you don’t, we’ll make you wissue
Had a different point of view!
Cos abortion can’t be easy
And the doctors must be sleazy
So the comments made by PZ
Are a special sort of woo!

If his scientific training
Contradicts what we’re maintaining
Does it really need explaining?
Why, the scientist is wrong!
When the issue is abortion
Then we must preserve proportion—
Give his title some distortion
Just a “blogger” all along

That’s right–PZ Myers got demoted from “Atheist scientist” to “blogger”. By a bunch of people who disagree with him but can’t actually argue with what he says.

Demoted? Yes! See, my aggregator alerted me to this post, but when I clicked, it told me there was no such file! This is what it used to look like…
Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 5.55.48 PM

See? “Atheist Scientist”. But if you look at the comments (protip: NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!!!), you’ll see that they quickly start with ad hom attacks on PZ. And at some point, the post itself changes. Now, if you look, PZ’s description has changed:

~ Blogger P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula, March 26, responding to news that the bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated at UK hospitals, some to provide heat –

Now, I’m not saying the description changed to minimize PZ’s credentials and to hype the actual story (despite the actual information in PZ’s post that exposed the hype as a lie)… ok, actually, I *am* saying that. Because, intentionally or not, that’s exactly what happened.

Now… just a thought… I’ve seen a handful of different numbers cited as the “average times a journal article is read”. I honestly have no idea which is correct (which is why I’m linking to none, rather than to a dozen that differ). I do know that every single one of them is shockingly smaller than I would have hoped (not smaller than I realize after thinking about it–many of these articles are of such hair-splitting particularity that I really can’t expect more than a handful or two of people to really care–but those are the people who should and do read them!). PZ’s blog gets more hits daily than the vast majority of academic journal articles. If we limit PZ only to the times he blogs on scientific topics, I suspect his blog is at least an order of magnitude greater exposure than the average paper he writes about. Different audience, certainly–different function. Still terribly important. (and yeah, thus far none of the commenters on that piece seem remotely willing to put their own publication records up against his.)

So, yeah, the commenters are wrong on that… and still, it doesn’t matter. They don’t address what he actually says. Their comments make that clear. But when you don’t have a good argument… rule of thumb… attack the presenter. That is, Atheist Scientist blogger PZ Myers.

The Paradox Of The First Common Ancestor

We have no appropriate label
And it seems, well, insulting, a bit
But I really can’t see
Using “He”, or else “She”,
And it almost feels weird using “It”

It’s the most insignificant being
Just a blip—microscopically small
It may not have been strong
But it passed life along—
It’s the ancestor…thing…to us all!

The precise “when and where” it existed
Back some three and a half billion years
Can’t be known, quite precisely
(We’ve asked really nicely),
But just one was the first, it appears.

It was likely short-lived and untraveled
Left no record in stone for today
It was so un-colossal
It left not a fossil
Except, as it were… DNA

No one ever was less influential
No one ever has been so unknown!
So uncommon, so small,
No disciples at all!
And it died—or divided—alone.

No one ever was more influential
More than Presidents, Prophets, or Kings
From completely unknown
How this “first thing” has grown
To the grand-it of all living things

Ok, so this one is inspired by a really annoying post–just a small part of a post I really wanted to vivisect and devour, but which ultimately I found just too distasteful. A theologist–indeed, an associate minister–who, in this post, claims he is “not religious”. Because, you see, his particular approach to christianity is different from all other religions–in fact, he agrees with atheists about all those other religions!

He begins by invoking the muse… that is, by making the tired claim that as soon as a believer says something online, the ravenous dogs of atheism will attack. This will allow him to dismiss anything, say, I might write about his argument. A silly argument is a silly argument, and that is not an attack on a believer–it is calling a pig a pig.

He spends some time making sure you know he has seen those silly other religions, and that he finds them as silly as you do. He refers to Mircea Eliade’s “The Sacred and the Profane”, and allows that it describes religion quite well… though it does seem to have failed to encompass Protestant Christianity! Well, of course his own faith is categorically different from all these other religions! (Mind you, I read “The Sacred and the Profane” back when I was a Protestant Christian, and I was astonished at what similarities my own religion had with all these others! Indeed, Eliade is one of the eye-openers that showed me that my teachers were wrong–that my religion was not, in fact, categorically different!)

Yes, Protestant Christianity is different, because of its rationality. Seriously. Well, because of its apologetics, actually, but those are really the same thing–arguing from premises to conclusions or from conclusions to premises is just quibbling.

Which leads us to “transcendence”. Which cannot possibly be explained without a god. Order, hope, play, humor, and damnation are transcendent because ipse dixit. Evolution could not select for a belief in the transcendent, after all! (Nor peacock’s tails, nor altruism, nor pareidolia, given a sufficiently simplistic understanding of evolution.)

Lastly, he speaks of the “Paradox of Jesus”, which is the inspiration for today’s verse.

How is it that a man who lived a short life, died as a criminal, left no writings and few followers, never travelled more than a few days’ walk from his birthplace, and lived and died in an obscure corner of a vast empire end up having so much influence in the world? No other religious leader lived a life like this—all others lived lives from which you could explain their influence. And yet few have come close in terms of global and historical impact.

Really? The humble beginnings of the First Common Ancestor are more remote, more humble, more improbable by every measure than some cult-leading rabbi some mere thousands of years back. And that rabbi is followed by tens of thousands of splinter groups that interpret his words differently–globally, about a third of the population of one species. The First Common Ancestor has influenced every creature currently living on earth, from archaea to bacteria to fungi to plants to animals to the top of the evolutionary ladder, cephalopods.

Ok, if you really want to see the original post, it’s here. But if you get as annoyed as I did, don’t blame me.