Tell me again that it’s a Muslim problem

It’s a homophobia problem. It’s a problem of conservative theology that uses gods as an excuse for heinous crimes.

This particular news program goes out of its way to get liberal ministers to oppose the hatemongers, but they’re just as bad: rationalizing your behavior as “this is what my god wants me to do” is just as fallacious when it’s supporting humanist views as when it’s supporting murderous views. How about suggesting that we not kill, because they are fellow human beings, or that we should be tolerant, because human beings have diverse views, and behavior that does not harm others ought to be accepted?

Is the core of the problem Islam?

Radical Islam is a great evil. It’s poison in people’s brains that conflicts with the modern world, with basic human ethics, and with cooperation with unbelievers. It has to be defeated.

There are ideas promoted by radical Islamists that are inimical to our peaceful coexistence, and that are sustained in a culture of hatred that leads people to kill. The father of the Orlando shooter, while claiming that it was not the place of people to take action, was clear in his othering of homosexuals.

He then adds: “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” saying it’s, “not an issue that humans should deal with.”

You can also see this in a video Sheikh Farrokh Sekaleshfar, a Muslim cleric who spoke in Orlando and thinks it is right for homosexuals to die, although of course we must not hurry God’s will along.

It’s poorly plausible denial. Consider the logic: God is good; God is great; God hates and despises gay people; they should all die for their sins and suffer for eternity in hell; but oh, by the way, you don’t need to do anything about them, but God’s probably going to forgive you if by some chance you should happen to murder a few of them.

And so it goes.

It’s very convenient.

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We shall all dance now

A reporter got into Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar’s compound last year for an interview with him and his “kittens”. It is weirdly creepy. Oktar has surrounded himself with a bevy of young women, all obviously treated with extensive plastic surgery and heavy cosmetics, and while claiming that he’s a feminist and that all of these women are truly liberated, they mostly just sit silently and only speak when he allows them to, and what they do say is stilted and scripted. It’s actually rather scary.

The creepiest bit is that every once in a while Oktar announces that they will have music, and a speaker plays some kind of pop pablum, and all the women smile and bounce and dance in their chairs. Then the music stops and the interview resumes.

Truly gag-a-riffic. Those poor women (and also the smiling PR men around them) are thoroughly enslaved by this cult.

Why are atheist conversion stories by Christians so damned unconvincing?

There most certainly are people who made sincere conversions from a state of godlessness to one of devout certainty. This is actually a very interesting process, and I’d like to know more about it, because I can’t imagine myself ever becoming a god-believer. I want to understand what makes for a persuasive argument for patent nonsense.

One example is Holly Ordway, an atheist professor of literature who became a Catholic. She’s got a whole memoir on the subject, which I haven’t read because all the summaries make it sound awful and unbelievable.

For example, Ordway describes her state of atheism:

Dr. Holly Ordway has published a book titled Not God’s Type, telling her personal story. She begins “I had never in my life said a prayer, never been to a church service. Christmas meant presents and Easter meant chocolate bunnies–nothing more.” But her views get hardened: “In college, I absorbed the idea that Christianity was historical curiosity, or a blemish on modern civilization, or perhaps both. My college science classes presented Christians as illiterate anti-intellectuals who, because they didn’t embrace Darwinism, threatened the advancement of knowledge. My history classes omitted or downplayed references to historical figures’ faith.” Still later, “At thirty-one years old, I was an atheist college professor–and I delighted in thinking of myself that way. I got a kick out of being an unbeliever; it was fun to consider myself superior to the unenlightened, superstitious masses, and to make snide comments about Christians.”

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Big boat go boom

stupidarkcliche

Think for a moment about the creationist’s own views of Noah’s Ark and the Flood. This was a cataclysmic event: Over a month of intense rainfall, gigantic fountains of water erupting from the deep, and in some pseudoscientific versions, a canopy of metallic hydrogen surrounding the earth exploded in an interaction with the almost pure oxygen of Earth’s atmosphere, converting 80% of that oxygen into water that deluged the planet. At the Creation “Museum”, Ken Ham imagines a wall of water hundreds of feet high crashing into the land in a kind of super-tsunami that swept all the way into the center of the continents. The Genesis Flood imagines that most major geological features were generated in this relatively brief event — the Himalayas were thrown up, the Grand Canyon gouged out. Forests were shredded, and the oceans were clotted with debris. Ham argues that there were huge floating rafts of logs and dirt adrift on the seas immediately afterwards, that were used by the survivors — those few organisms on the Ark — to drift to all the newly formed continents afterwards.

Oh, yeah, the Ark. Big wooden barge. It survived all of that chaos.

One has to wonder, then, why Ken Ham couldn’t have used 4,000 year old building techniques to assemble an indestructible floating wooden frame in his Ark Park, or how come the Dutch model of the Ark crumpled when it bumped into a boat in Oslo?

arkbroke

That’s the thing about creationists: they want to imagine that their all-powerful god wields immense cosmic forces and emphasize the dramatic, catastrophic power of their world-killing flood, but at the same time they can’t even comprehend the energies involved in an ocean swell.


We even have video of the collision! It’s a slow-motion bump.

The “context” excuse

Context

Of course context matters, but one reason it matters is because people abuse it. There is a legitimate complaint to be made when someone distorts or mangles an isolated quote to say something completely different from what the author intended. Here’s an infamous example: the creationists’ favorite quote from Darwin’s Origin.

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

They love it because all they read is natural selection…absurd in the highest degree, and think they’ve got a slam-dunk debunking straight from Darwin himself. This is a case where you must read the rest of the context, because what he’s doing is setting up a rhetorical case that selection seems absurd, but what follows is a whole chapter in which he explains all the gradations and intermediate steps in the evolution of the eye. And of course all it takes is the next two sentences to make it clear that he’s saying exactly the opposite of what creationists want him to say.

When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei [“the voice of the people = the voice of God “], as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.

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Evangelical Christianity: a movement built on hypocrisy, by the worst people in the country

Samantha Bee gives a history lesson, and as always, evangelical Christianity has been on the wrong side of history, and for the worst reasons, and under the leadership of some of the most awful, terrible, horrible people. It’s also telling that they have so consistently rejected the people who espouse positive Christian values (like Carter) to support scum (like Reagan). At least nowadays they’re reduced to choosing between scum (Cruz) and scum (Trump), and they still favor the least Christian, and most bigoted choice.

I also have to note that two of the most scathing critics of modern American politics, Bee and Wilmore, are also the kind of people these conservative Christians would love to oppress.

An ugly myth, gloatingly portrayed

flood

Rebecca Watson is exactly right in this video: Ken Ham’s ark is not going to be a happy story about cute baby animals. He really likes to play up the horror.

For the record: I agree with Ken Ham. The Christian God is a horrible monster.

Ham is not in any way trying to contradict this reading of the Bible, and in fact the Ark is going to have an entire exhibit debunking the “dangerous” image of Noah as a happy old man surrounded by cute animals and rainbows. Ham wants people to know that it is not a happy children’s story — it is a horror film in which God literally commits mass murder, and he believes that it’s dangerous for kids to grow up thinking otherwise.

It’s the same story in the Creation “Museum”. When I went through it, I was rather repelled by the portrayal of what they imagined happened in their mythical flood: they almost gleefully show all the damned souls drowning and begging to get on the big boat, and they also show this heartwarming little video of what they think happened. Notice the innocent, happy people just living their lives when the giant wall of water sweeps over their village? They all died, and deservedly so, because God decreed it.

So no, Ham doesn’t sugar-coat the murder of innocents by his god, he revels in his righteousness, the sick fuck.

Also, think about what that video shows: a tsunami that sends a wave that is miles high, and that is so immense it crashes all the way to the center of the continent.

And his little wooden boat rides it out, no problem.

There are way too many creation “museums”

creationisttrex

They’re everywhere. I’ve been to the overhyped lie in Kentucky, and also to cheap sheds in Missouri and Pennsylvania and Utah and Washington, where deluded Elmer Gantry wannabes stack up a few fossils and make up Bible stories about their provenance and history. The latest to get written up in a newspaper is Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum in Montana. I’ve never been there. It’s completely unsurprising, though — it’s the same crap I’ve seen dozens of times before.

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