We’re Not Excluding You—We’re Just Not Including You

You haven’t quite heard what we’re saying—we’re praying
We’d let you, but atheists really don’t pray
We call on a spiritual being, but seeing
As atheists don’t, there is nothing to say
We see your complaint as illusion; ”exclusion”
Implies that you once had a chance to be heard
You didn’t. This can’t be excluding—quit brooding! —
An atheist prayer? Why, the thought is absurd!

Are hippos “excluded” from flying? I’m trying
To think of a way that this even makes sense!
An atheist prayer? Oxymoron! Implore on—
Your huffing and puffing is all a pretense!
You’d “pray” to the people who hear you? It’s clear, you
Have no real conception of praying at all!
You’re different from us, no denying—quit trying
To claim the protection of Jefferson’s “wall”! [Read more...]

Armageddon Gets Results; Navy Puts Bibles Back In Hotel Rooms

There’s a war on Christianity
We’re martyrs for a cause!
The seculars are making sure
We’re following the laws!
That’s simply unacceptable,
And so we scream and fuss—
The laws are for the baddies,
So they don’t apply to us!

But Christians in this country
Are oppressed at every turn!
From a lack of state religion,
To the science that we learn!
To the bibles in hotel rooms
So that heathens might be saved—
Watch the power of the atheists…
Wait, what? The Navy caved? [Read more...]

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...]

Pastor: “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”

Ebola could deliver us from atheists and gays—
God is doing good, through pestilence and plague—
But don’t you blame the pastor for the horrid things he says;
It’s not bad, you know, so much as it is vague:

He thinks we’ll turn to God, in times of trouble, pain and strife;
“There’s no atheists in foxholes”, so he means
He forgets we have a better way to make a better life
While depending on, not Jesus, but vaccines. [Read more...]

Let’s All Help Out Ken Ham!

There’s the fall, and the plagues, and there’s Babel
And there’s Adam, and Eve, Cain, and Abel,
In Kentucky, the ark
Makes a marvelous park…
If the government’s wholly unstable

Kentucky is poised to give $18 million in new tax breaks (pending approval from the legislature) to the Ark project at Ken Ham’s creation museum. The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board has apparently decided that the state will make more money fleecing believers than it will lose by frightening off those who don’t believe The Flintstones was a documentary. NPR reports:

Kentucky has approved $18 million in new tax breaks for a controversial Christian theme park that is to feature a 510-foot-long replica of Noah’s Ark.

Maryanne Zeleznik of member station WVXU in Cincinnati reports that the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the incentives for the Ark Encounter, to be built in Williamstown. The legislature must still OK the plan.

So… on the one hand, people still have time to contact the Kentucky legislature and warn them off… but assuming that the KTDFB know what they are doing, maybe the best thing for Kentucky is to help them advertise the upcoming attraction. Ad copy doesn’t come cheap, and their current ads, well… So I’ve decided to help them, with some old stuff I had laying around.

First, for the Ark itself:

Our day at the park
Having fun on the ark
Will begin as we stroll up the ramp
With the mammals and dino’s
And strange hellifino’s
And all of it, gaudy and camp

There are creatures in twos
Like the grandest of zoos
Some in cages for people to see
Some are plastic, of course,
Like the odd “Jesus horse”
You can ride on (just children!) for free

With the tour guide explaining
It soon will start raining—
It’s best that we get through the doors
And with thunder and lightning
More piped-in than frightening
The skies open up, and it pours

It isn’t surprising
The water starts rising
With rivers obscuring the ground
We’re on board! We’re the winners!
We laugh at the sinners
Outside, who are there to be drowned.

Some electrical junction
Is bound to malfunction;
The waters continue to rise—
Now it’s panic and screaming
(Please tell me we’re dreaming!)
On board, we can hear all the cries

Now the water is rushing,
The pipes are still gushing,
We realize, we’re really afloat!
Like the Genesis story
We share in the glory
And ride in the biblical boat

Though it’s ill-built and creaky,
Substantially leaky,
We ought to be fine for a while
And although we’re all stuck
We rejoice in our luck
And we look at each other and smile.

Soon the still-rising tides
Means the screaming subsides
From the folks who did not get on board
And we know that God willed
That these people be killed
So we all praise the works of Our Lord

As the day turns to night
With no rescue in sight
Our exhaustion will drive us to sleep
Though the children are wary
Cos darkness is scary
And the lions are eating the sheep

So we all sleep in shifts
As our giant bed drifts
And there’s still not a star in the sky
Soon the sun will arrive
And we’re mostly alive
And if not, then God wants us to die.

At the whim of the weather
We huddle together
As carnivores roam through the decks
And we learned within hours
The stench overpowers—
Of feces, of death, and of sex

When the rain finally ceases
We pick up the pieces
And head to the top deck, for sun,
Where the clean-smelling breezes
Sweep by (thank you Jesus!)
And we kneel down and pray, every one!

As we float, we survey
The remains of the day
From our vantage above, on the ark
Where our neighbors and friends
Met their untimely ends
With the visitors there at the park

And we bow heads, and praise
God’s mysterious ways—
Our friends’ bodies have now begun bloating
And as plump as you please
They rise up through the seas
All disfigured and blue, they are floating

All the husbands and wives,
Little children whose lives
Were destroyed by their callous Creator
While we’re safe on the ark
Cos we chose to embark
A bit sooner, and not a bit later

There was water to drink
But it’s starting to stink
And starvation’s its own form of hell
But the hunger and thirst
Isn’t even the worst—
More than that, is the horrible smell

The miasma which flows
Though you cover your nose
Overwhelms you, and just never ends
And the worst of it all
This olfactory pall
Is the smell of our neighbors and friends

We float day after day
As around us, decay
And disease take a toll on our minds;
And our bodies grow weak
As around us, unspeak-
able horrors are all that one finds

In the decks down below
Where we never dare go
There is carnage like never before;
Most the mammals are gone
But the beetles live on
As they feast on the filth and the gore

There are maggots and flies
Which is no great surprise
In the dung and the foul, rancid meat
But up top, it is grim
Cos the pickings are slim
And there’s nothing for humans to eat

If we haven’t quite died
When the waters subside
We’ll praise God, and we won’t think to sue
Sure, it’s horribly cruel
But we learned, at home school
That what’s right is what Yahweh would do

False Flag Impeachment?

This talk of impeachment is scattered—it mattered
To very few people—near no one at all!
No major political figure so big you’re
Expected to answer the phone if they call!
No media darling whose speech meant impeachment
Was favored by some in the party of No
A sign that the don’t-tread-on-me-ers, the TEA-ers
Insist that it’s time for Obama to go!

Oh, no, it’s the Democrats, really, who feel he’s
A useful distraction and fundraising tool
Your typical voter won’t notice the POTUS
Is pulling their strings—cos a voter’s a fool!
Impeachment’s about raising money—it’s funny,
A truth they won’t tell on the idiot box.
Republicans don’t want distractions, but actions!
Just trust us—remember, you heard it on Fox!

It’s getting harder to tell the satires from the real opinion pieces. I thought I had stumbled upon one of the former, with the first paragraph here:

In a matter of days, Democrats looking to head off Republican gains in November have turned scattered talk of President Obama’s impeachment into a sustained rallying cry — even managing to fundraise off the perceived threat.

Scattered talk… from the former Vice Presidential candidate, from members of Congress, and with the support of 57% of Republican voters, according to a CNN/ORC poll. I’ve seen little handfuls of people gathered on street corners and highway overpasses with “Impeach Obama” signs, letters to the editor of our local paper, websites selling impeachment T-shirts… scattered indeed. Clearly a false flag operation.

The frenzied warnings have Republicans scratching their heads – after all, few if any in the party brass are openly pushing impeachment — and accusing the other side of ginning up the controversy for political gain.

“You know, this might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told “Fox News Sunday.”

Now, technically, “few if any in the party brass” is true. Palin is, as is her habit, no longer in an official position of power, and the party brass have very little connection to the rabid tea faction that actually drives their lurch to the extreme right. But by including the word “brass”, they can gloss this over and pretend that it must be the Dems who are behind this.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin kicked off the impeachment headlines earlier this month when she penned a column calling for it. But to date, most senior Republicans have shied away from that call.

House Speaker John Boehner stood by his decision to proceed with a lawsuit against the president over alleged abuse of executive power, but would not sign on to the impeachment idea. Even Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., one of the most conservative members of the House GOP caucus, would not get on board with impeachment (though she did back impeaching “certain officials in the Executive Branch.”)

Again, note the qualifiers in “most senior Republicans”–and let’s pretend that the silly Boehner lawsuit was anything but an attempt to appease the impeachment-hounds.

It seems that the only real way to tell the satires from the opinion pieces is that the former tend to be better written:

You don’t have to be a licensed distractionologist to see that the White House is trying to get the president impeached in order to draw attention away from how bad he is at his job.

Don’t believe me? Perhaps a little “history of Obama distractions” is in order.

When he was running for president, Obama tried to distract American voters from the fact that he is black by running for president. That should have been our first sign that this guy was an expert at diversions.

Once in office, Obama immediately ruined our economy by being president, so he distracted us from our financial woes by using death panels to reform the country’s health care system. To draw attention away from those death panels, the administration created the Solyndra solar panel company scandal, and the Fast and Furious federal gun-walking scandal.

Then, to distract from Obamacare, Solyndra and Fast and Furious, Obama selfishly released his long-form birth certificate, causing Donald Trump’s head to explode and sending the right-wing blogosphere into a monthslong apoplectic fit.

Nice to see Fox is there to keep us focused on the shiny thing.

On Defining Atheism

Sorry, no verse. My aggregator threw a post at me that was based on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s definition of atheism. It used that definition for a lot of heavy lifting, showing that we atheist types are all sorts of illogical, given that definition. Thing is, it’s a shit definition, and moreover, it’s not *the* definition by any means.

Anyway, I responded there, and reprise it here in case (but why should it be the case?) it is not printed there:

You have good reason to cite the Stanford encyclopedia–it is convenient for your argument. Mind you, you could have cited any number of other sources that disagree, but this gives you one you can call FACT (appeal to authority, if you care) despite the existence of contradictory definitions.

Let me suggest another authority–the Oxford Handbook of Atheism (How does Oxford rank in comparison to Stanford?). It costs a bit, so here’s a site with the relevant bit quoted with permission: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/02/11/defining-atheism-an-excerpt-from-the-oxford-book-of-atheism/

In a nutshell, atheism is the privative category of religious belief, the “none of the above” answer when asked if you are catholic, lutheran, baptist, episcopalian, brethren, methodist… orthodox, reform… sunni, shia… sikh, hindu, buddhist, zoroastrian, Greek polytheist, Norse polytheist, Scientologist, Mormon, Heaven’s Gate Cultist…. “None of the above” is a perfectly reasonable answer, without any of the baggage of “strong vs weak” (consider–any strong Christian* believer is also a strong Greek Polytheism atheist). It has the added advantage of actually encompassing more atheists than the Stanford definition does, in terms of congruence with the statements of actual atheists; it includes (though the categories are not needed) both “strong” and “weak” atheists, both “accidental” and “deliberate” atheists.

Mind you, the Oxford definition means that much of the rest of your post is relatively irrelevant. Here, of course, you have a choice: You can keep your definition, and maintain that the atheists that don’t fit it are a problem of atheism, or you can recognize that the people you are looking at do not fit the definition you are using because it is a bad definition. In science, when good, hard data disagree with a theory, it is because the theory is inadequate. Here, the data disagree with your Stanford definition. The good news is… you have another, much better, definition sitting right in front of you.

(BTW, the Stanford encyclopedia also happens, coincidentally, to define my own particular are of science incorrectly. It’s a problem I have to alert my students to each semester. The problem with any appeal to authority is, it is only as good as the authority you appeal to.)

I guess I have seen one too many instances of “if X, then Y”, where X is “this is what atheists believe”, and is utter bullshit, and Y is “they must also think all this stuff”, which is more utter bullshit.

Edited to add!–do please click through to see the comments–as of this writing, no atheist comments (not mine, nor any of those of the commenters here) have been published. The site’s author, though, in charge of which comments get through, has commented:

Wow, this post just went up, and we had four atheists comment seeking attention for their personal mental states. This is a blog about evidence. This is not the place for deluded people to call attention to their delusions.For people who want to talk about their beliefs but not about the evidence for those beliefs, I recommend paying a psychologist to listen. The rest of us don’t care about your delusions, we are into arguments and evidence.

Please compare that comment to mine–I would suggest that mine was on topic, appropriate, and not at all about “seeking attention for [my] personal mental state.” I would also suggest that the statement “This is a blog about evidence” is, of course, a lie.

Oh Wintery Knight… I have linked to you, so anyone can see I am not misrepresenting you. Do you have the courage to do the same?

Bishops’ Stance On Motives And Behaviors

“Hate the sin, but love the sinner”,
So I do not hate the gays—
Their desires aren’t a problem
What’s a problem is their ways

It’s their actions, not their motives,
Which define a life of sin
What’s important is their conduct
Not what drives it from within.

If you act on your attraction
That’s what matters most, you see,
Not your motives but your actions
Are forbidden by decree

Thus, I treat them like pariahs
While I love them, every one—
I don’t hate their evil thinking,
Just the evil they have done

You might want to call it bigotry—
It isn’t, really, quite—
See, I’m practicing religion
So it has to be all right

Since my faith’s my motivation
There’s a fact you’ll have to face:
It’s my motive, not my actions
That’s important in this case

According to the Catholic News Agency, representatives of US bishops have made clear their position: When it comes to same-sex relationships, it is perfectly fine for someone to experience attraction, but acting on that attraction is beyond the pale. The problem is that “the bill does not differentiate between same-sex attraction and same-sex conduct, posing a problem to faith groups such as Catholics that affirm the dignity of homosexual persons but oppose homosexual actions.” That is, it’s ok to be gay, so long as no one knows it from what you do, like, say, getting married or actually engaging in a human relationship. It’s what you do that they have a problem with, not your reasons for doing it.

They also made clear their objections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which focuses on what you do, ignoring your reasons for doing it, which the bishops think is entirely unfair.

“Churches, businesses, and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity,” the bishops wrote in a July 17 blog post for the U.S. bishops’ conference.

They have religious reasons for discriminating, which means they can’t possibly be actually discriminating; it’s their reasons for doing stuff that is important, not the actual discrimination they are engaged in.

It’s all so simple, really.