The message of God’s Not Dead 2 is…

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…Christians are stupid. Sadly, the audience at the Morris Theater today gulped it right down and confirmed it.

This movie and its predecessor has only a few simple premises: a) all atheists are bad people; b) all Christians are good people; and c) if they close their eyes real tight and pray real hard and pretend, those arguments their pastor made to them will hold up in a court of law. So right off the bat, we meet a heroine of the movie who is grieving over the offscreen death of her brother, while her parents don’t seem to give a damn at all that they’ve lost a child. Her parents are “freethinkers” obviously, while she’s going to convert to Christianity. The father of the Chinese fellow who found Jesus in the last movie shows up to slap him around and disown him for his faith. A team of ACLU lawyers show up to persecute another heroine who dared to quote the Bible in a high school classroom; the lead lawyer is a sneering reptilian buffoon. An ACLU lawyer who is completely dumbfounded by the arguments of Lee Fucking Strobel.

The story is all about a court case. Above heroine who mentioned Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr in a class about non-violent protests gets dragged before an inquisition of fellow teachers, school board members, and lawyers who, obviously, are all atheists who detest Bible-believing Christians (where is this school? I’d like to move there) and when she refuses to apologize for proselytizing — because she didn’t — they all smack their lips in anticipation, because they’ve called in the Evil ACLU, who will destroy her in a court case.

Let me just say, speaking as a certified Evil Atheist myself, who also tends to be more strident than most, I did not believe this persecution scenario at all. The movie was very careful to set the scene so that there was no doubt at all that she wasn’t promoting religion at all, but was responding to a student question asking for a comparison between a set of historical (well, semi-) figures, and the teacher’s response was more cautious than even I would have been in quoting the Bible. It was set up from the beginning as a trumped up case.

What follows is incoherent. The legal case her lawyer tries to make at first is that she was simply speaking her conscience, rather than that she was responding directly to a student question. Then he switches gears and decides that the best strategy is to claim that she was making a secular argument, merely quoting historical figures. Then later he decides to rant and rave and claim that if they silence a Christian for speaking her mind, next thing you know they’ll be coming to arrest everyone for mentioning the Bible. It makes no sense, but of course the jury sees it as valid and votes to declare her innocent.

That wasn’t a spoiler. You know no Christian will suffer any consequences in this kind of movie.

Another irritating thing is that, although apparently this whole sham of a court case was all about proving that Jesus was real, the slimy ACLU lawyer allowed the defense to trot up a whole string of Christian apologists making ludicrous arguments, and not once did they disagree or bring up counterarguments. According to this movie, there are hundreds of contemporary first person accounts of the crucifixion, and no one disagrees with that.

One good thing, though: at least this one didn’t kill any atheists to get a deathbed conversion. It did have the woman from the first movie who had been diagnosed with cancer and converted to Christianity, though; instead of killing an atheist, they had prayer cure a Christian of cancer, praise Jesus. It also had a string of cameos from Christian culture warriors, like Pat Boone, Mike Huckabee, that same abominable Christian musical group, the Newsboys, from the first movie.

One more damning thing: it’s boring. It just goes on and on. It’s so bad that my wife had to nudge me awake in the middle.

Skip it. Total waste of time.

I’m content to let it stand as a testimonial to the paranoia and inanity of modern American Christians. I would think that the people who ought to be most indignant about it are Christians themselves.

Not a good day

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I had braced myself for a long miserable day: I’m committing myself to grading, grading, grading all day long. It’s term paper time, and I’ve got a stack of exams, so I left early to come into my office…and as I’m getting ready to go, my wife reminds me that I’d promised to go see God’s Not Dead 2 at the noon matinee. So I’m committed to taking a break from drudgery to watch an abysmally bad movie which will reaffirm my contempt for Christianity.

Such fun.

Anyway, if you’re in the area, and if you want to be miserable together, I’ll be at the Morris Theater at noon, not knowing whether to be happy that so many Christians show up for an evil movie that I can’t get in, or to be disappointed that there are so few Christians attending that there are plenty of seats for me. It will be a very confusing time.

At least I’ll go out to Old #1 afterwards for a beer, I’ll need it. I’ll try to put something cephalopod-related on the table, so if you’re looking for like-minded godless folk you’ll know how to recognize us.

Suppressive Persons

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The Church of Scientology is to be blessed with interesting times. The father of David Miscavage, head of the church, is publishing a tell-all book next week, titled Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me. Well, they plan to, anyway — David Miscavage is threatening to sue for defamation if they go through with it. That’s the best advertisement ever. It must be really juicy, although I can’t say I look forward to reading about the childhood of a psychopath.

That the religion would tear apart families is no surprise. Like many cults, they have a policy of disconnection: new converts are told to sever all ties with family members who might weaken the influence of the church on them. The church becomes a collection of deeply unhappy people who have no choice but to rely on each other.

Scientology is to be featured on 20/20 this Friday. Man, it’s hard to be a secretive evil organization when people keep shining a spotlight on you.

And they’re shedding celebrities! Lisa Marie Presley has become disaffected and is dishing dirt behind the scenes. Could it be that we’ll see a religion die in our lifetimes? That would be nice.

Skepticon is pranking the wrong person

I just got word that I’m in the lead in Skepticon’s competition to pull a prank on me, Matt Dillahunty, Heina Dadabhoy, or Keith Lowell Johnson. This is just wrong. I told you all to go vote for one of the other people.

I don’t know what’s wrong here. I was quite clear and explicit. Go make donations in the name of Keith, Heina, or Matt. Not me. You are making a dreadful mistake if you click on my name.

OK?

If it’s not crystal clear yet, just send me your paypal username and password and I’ll take care of it for you.

Watcha doin’ on Sunday after church?

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The Morris Theater is having a special, one-time only, matinee showing of a special movie on Sunday at noon. It’s God’s Not Dead 2! If you saw the first one, you know it’s going to be nauseating experience, and I just can’t miss it. Anyone out there in the Stevens County area want to join me? Even if the movie sucks (and it will), you can at least enjoy the spectacle of watching me turn purple and splutter.

I think afterwards I’ll stroll over to the Old #1 bar and do my best to forget the movie.

No guarantees that we’ll get in, though. This is the only showing in town, so I kind of expect all the worst people in town — you know, the kind who wear homophobic t-shirts — will be packing the joint. If we can’t get in, though, we’ll consider it a shortcut to Old #1.

The title confuses me

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It’s an article in The Humanist titled “Why Science Is Not in Conflict with Religion”…but its whole point is that religion is completely wrong. It argues that the existence of an interventionist deity is a question of science; it mentions that religions make scientific claims all the time.

All religions, particularly the “big three” Abrahamic religions, make claims about the natural world that clearly fall under the purview of one or more fields of science.

I’m reading the whole thing and agreeing with it, and wondering how they’re going to argue themselves out of this discussion of major conflicts to deny the existence of a conflict, and they sort of do, at the end.

Science will continue to advance. Predictions will be made and conclusions drawn, many that are accurate but others that will be in need of revision as further evidence is compiled. Humans will continue to gather information about every aspect of the natural world, and if findings don’t correspond with or support religious beliefs, as has happened throughout history, then the theists do themselves and humankind a disservice by denying objective evidence. The scientific process is neutral; it is objective and seeks only to discover new information, and thus is not in conflict with any entity besides itself as it self-corrects and achieves greater accuracy over time. If there is indeed a conflict, that conflict was fabricated by those whose agenda is driven by subjective beliefs and who fight to preserve positions that are no longer tenable in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Oh. There’s the problem. Science is objective and neutral and just plain true, therefore it’s not in conflict with mere subjective beliefs.

I’m sorry, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to simply declare that your position is ultimately the correct one, that your authority is the universe itself, and therefore you aren’t really conflicting with anything that matters. This is a kind of bland scientism that obliviously steamrolls right over the issues in question.

There clearly is a conflict when a majority of Americans believe in a divine authority as the cause of the entire universe, and claim the authority of a supreme being greater than the universe as the source of their information. Waving that fundamental assumption aside as irrelevant because Science is not a valid way to address the question. The points the author brings up are valid, and they may refute the existence of a deity, but do not refute the existence of a conflict.

Anyone who is at all involved in science also knows that there isn’t simply a truth laid out in a clear path before us. We struggle within science to figure out what’s true, so it’s unfair to pretend it’s obvious what’s right in a conflict outside of science. Do the work. There is no shortcut.

It’s as if two fighters climb into a ring, and the referee looks them over and announces that A is 5 pounds heavier than B and has a longer reach, therefore this fight does not exist and A has won it. There are no victories by fiat, and you’d better realize that we really are in a battle here.

I get spam

I got an email today claiming that the Bible contains the cure for diabetes.

It’s a detailed look at one of one of the most controversial passages in the entire Bible.

Its meaning has been studied and examined for thousands of years, but recently, scientists have linked this passage with something no one could have imagined.

In a shocking twist, researchers may be looking to the Bible to cure one of our deadliest diseases.

Thanks to a misunderstood phrase buried on Page 1,117 of the King James Bible… people from across the country are miraculously curing themselves of diabetes…

Sometimes in as little as 3 days!

Atheists hate this… but they can’t refute it.

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Atheist “spirituality” and “mindfulness”

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I despise it. But it’s the new thing, and there’s a lot of promotion of this “mindfulness” nonsense. Yeah, it makes you feel better, which is a good thing, but so does prayer, and acupuncture, and petting a puppy, and taking long walks on the beach. That something might have subjective effects is useful — we all do things that are enjoyable, and we should — but that’s different from claiming it causes material improvements in your physical state.

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Larry Alex Taunton, Ghoul

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Another Christian has written a book to lie about Christopher Hitchens. This one is claiming that he and Hitchens were great good buddies, that Hitchens was sympathetic to Christianity, and that he may have converted on his deathbed (he doesn’t know for sure — he wasn’t there — but he’s going to sell a book with that claim).

He appeared with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Monday night.

He read the book and he loved it, Taunton said of Matthews. He knew Hitchens, and he liked Hitchens. He thought it was a compassionate take on friendship. I don’t know if I can write anything ever again that gets universal praise from both the left and the right. This book is getting quite a reaction. The reception has been so kind, no nice. The atheist Michael Schermer loved the book.

Oh, now that’s a great recommendation.

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Trust Skepticon to turn April Fool’s Day into April Fool’s Month

Skepticon is pranking a couple of losers — every dollar donated is a vote for your choice of recipient of a goofy gift. You can vote for Heina Dadabhoy, Matt Dillahunty, Keith Lowell Jensen, or…what, ME? This must be a mistake. Hang on.

 
 
 
 

I had to run off and make a bunch of votes for those other people. I don’t need Mormon underpants, or my face on a potato, or a cardboard penis. Especially not the last one. As everyone knows, the penis I was born with is already _____________*. So go vote for everyone else, immediately.

*Choose one:
a) flat.
b) corrugated.
c) floppy.
d) made of 100% recycled wetsuits.