This is the lounge. You can discuss anything you want, but you will do it kindly.
Status: Heavily Moderated; Previous thread
Dec 02 2013
Dec 01 2013
They’re going to be doing deliveries by drone.
I don’t think I’ll live close enough to a distribution center for these to come buzzing by my house, so I’m not going to worry about them yet. I’m am remembering that in my younger days I was a deadly shot with a slingshot…I may have to start practicing.
I might change my pessimism about fleets of drones flitting about overhead, if they’re actually shown to represent an energy savings.
Dec 01 2013
So I watched this show with Anderson Cooper’s name on it; he didn’t bother to show up, so maybe he has some sense of shame. It was dreadful. It was three anecdotes about people who had experienced serious trauma, and then invented lovely narratives about a happy afterlife to make themselves feel better, or to justify their prior religious beliefs. There was no fact-checking. It was just these three women getting interviewed and telling unverifiable accounts of events that happened while they were unconscious.
First woman: She claims to have “died” in a kayaking accident in Chile. Her kayak was pinned underwater by a rock; she describes all of her sensations, including her legs breaking when her friends dislodged the boat and she was torn free by the current. Her friends were frantic, yet she’s happy to claim that they accurately described the passage of time, and that she was under water and deprived of oxygen for 30 minutes. She said she “gave herself up to god”, was visiting spirits/angels/whatever while resuscitation was attempted, and that she had a conversation with Jesus who told her she had to go back to take care of her husband. Her husband was later diagnosed with lung cancer. Thanks, Jesus! Also, she’s flogging a book
Verdict: completely unverified account of a “death”. This was a religious woman who experienced a serious trauma, and who had also experienced the death of a child and wanted to believe that there was a purpose to life. It was a wish-fulfillment fantasy.
CNN’s verdict: “Amazing”. Not one word of doubt about anything in the account.
Christian Mingles is advertising on this show, of course.
Second woman: Child growing up in Hong Kong, of Indian descent. A friend dies of cancer, and she becomes paranoid; she later is diagnosed herself with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She deteriorates under treatment, and later lapses into a coma. Claims to have heard doctors talking while she was in a coma, and that they said she was going to die within 24 hours. She was, she said, “in another world” where she felt peace, and her dead friends were all there. Dead people told her to go back and live, so she did.
She recovered consciousness, cancer goes into remission, she’s still alive. In fact, nothing in her account said she died at all.
Verdict: A lot of story telling and confabulation. Nothing remarkable in the story at all; Hodgkin’s has a roughly 80+% 5 year survival rate, and she was apparently getting good medical care.
CNN’s verdict: Accepted every bit of it without reservation. No attempt to verify any of the claimed facts, not that there was anything particularly unusual about it.
Third woman: Has a son with a serious heart condition. He and his mother engaged in a fair bit of Jesus talk. One day he collapses and is hospitalized, and claims to see a bright light and an angel. Later he collapses at his school again, and claims to have been in a good place and not wanting to come back. But “he came back for a reason”. The family does a lot of praying and bible reading. Then the son dies on Christmas day. He doesn’t come back.
Verdict: Absolutely nothing remarkable or unexplainable. No evidence of much of anything presented.
CNN’s verdict: Ends with a clip of a video of the dead boy holding up a sign saying he believes in god and angels.
Overall assessment: Gullible dreck, lots of fantasizing, no evidence presented of much of anything, and no critical thinking from the reporters at all. A disgrace.
I didn’t believe a word of it. There’s only one comment on the show website, and Randy didn’t believe it, either, but for rather different reasons.
This is all a liar, heaven is a holy place and those that Enter must be born again of the water and of the spirit, those that have excepted Jesus as their personal savior and have been born again of the baptism of the Holy Ghost will make it in.
Dec 01 2013
Oh, wait. There’s another one: The Carnival of Evolution has a Doctor Who theme this month.
Nov 30 2013
I know professors of English. I like professors of English, and can respect their work. But then some professors of English publish total rubbish like this, and it’s facepalm time.
This scholar’s interpretation navigates between the perils of realism and fundamentalism
Read the whole thing, if you can stomach it. There’s no navigation at all; there’s nothing but totally credulous acceptance of much embellished legend, treated as if it were fact. Take the opening story, for example:
The burial of Jesus took place in haste, in keeping with Jewish law, as commanded in Deuteronomy 21:22-23: “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hange him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day.” One can only imagine the eagerness of those who loved Jesus to remove his body from the cross, a position of extreme exposure and embarrassment, and to lay it gently in a crypt, safe from mocking Roman eyes. At last, the torture was over.
Having acquired permission to take charge of the body, Joseph of Arimathea wrapped it carefully in fine linens and, with the help of Nicodemus, put it in a crypt hewn from rock not far from the site of the execution on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Nicodemus had brought a mixture of embalming spices: aloes and myrrh.
“One can only imagine…” Yes, that is the one true phrase in the whole mess. It’s all built up out of imagination. We have no contemporary accounts of the death of this person, Jesus; we don’t even have reliable sources for the existence of the person at all. Yet here this Parini fellow is reciting speculative BS about how people were feeling during events that may not have happened at all.
Maybe, to Parini, navigating between realism and fundamentalism means avoiding both and dwelling on kitschy rose-colored portrayals of fantasy events?
Huge questions confront anyone thinking about Jesus. Did he really rise from the dead? Was there an actual Resurrection? If so, what would that look like? A large number of Christians throughout history have imagined a resuscitation, refusing to countenance the slightest hint that the Resurrection should be regarded as something beyond human understanding. I myself would argue this: life and death are mysterious, at best, and the membrane between the living and the dead is a porous one, perilously thin. Jesus rose from the dead, the scriptures say. I see no reason to doubt this. And yet a literalistic belief in the Resurrection cannot be, as many fundamentalist churches insist, the only important part of the “good news” of Christianity. The message of God’s love in operation in the world trumps everything and must be regarded as the necessary extension of the idea of rebirth, the social basis for true spiritual enlightenment. Nowhere more so than here does it matter that we find a proper balance between the literal and the figurative, giving full weight to the concrete meaning while relishing the mythic contours of the story.
He has no reason to doubt a magical account of a god-man rising from the dead 2,000 years ago? Really? No reason at all? Does he have a brain in his head? Perhaps I have no reason to believe that.
I can appreciate the difference between literal and figurative, like the difference between science and art, but sometimes there is no concrete meaning to balance, and the best answer is rejection of the nonsense, rather than wallowing in it.
We’re going to be seeing a lot of this pious bullshit in this month before Christmas, aren’t we?
Nov 30 2013
They have conservatives up there, too. And here’s one, Brian Pallister, trying to be nice to atheists.
Nov 30 2013
I’ll hang my head in shame the rest of the day.
But at least they got the story right, and quoted extensively from my article that ridiculed the idea that humans are the product of ape-pig hybridization.
Nov 29 2013
I have learned that the university bookstore in Morris has completely sold out of all copies of The Happy Atheist. I know, rural residents of western Minnesota, you were hoping to pick up a few pallet loads to give out as Christmas presents this year, and you were planning to drive in to town with your pickup trucks to get them today, on Black Friday. I’m sorry to disappoint you.
Like much of the rest of the world, you’ll have to order them online. They do make entirely appropriate gifts, especially if you’ve got one of those annoying relatives who always gives out religiously-themed presents.
Nov 29 2013
Ken Ham has a new post up about how evil atheists really are.
It seems like atheists will go to pretty extreme lengths to combat the words of a God they don’t even believe exists.
Uh-oh. What have we done now? Beheaded people? Tossed them in prison for believing? Stoned them to death? Persecuted people who don’t practice sex exactly as we do? Demanded legislation to allow us to demand that everyone use contraception?
A recent article from the Religion News Service reports, “Atheists use a popular Bible app to evangelize about unbelief.” The article contains interviews with a number of young atheists who have chosen to use YouVersion, one of the most popular apps around, as a way of trying to shake the faith of Christians.
That’s right! We’re reading the Bible!
He goes on to whine about atheists using “supposed contradictions” and how they’re supposed to use a “literal translation”. The implication is that it is young naive atheists who don’t understand the deepities of the Bible who are doing this, but as always, Ingersoll was there first, and he knew exactly what an evil book the Bible was.
Ministers wonder how I can be wicked enough to attack the Bible.
I will tell them: This book, the Bible, has persecuted, even unto death, the wisest and the best. This book stayed and stopped the onward movement of the human race. This book poisoned the fountains of learning and misdirected the energies of man.
This book is the enemy of freedom, the support of slavery. This book sowed the seeds of hatred in families and nations, fed the flames of war, and impoverished the world. This book is the breastwork of kings and tyrants — the enslaver of women and children. This book has corrupted parliaments and courts. This book has made colleges and universities the teachers of error and the haters of science. This book has filled Christendom with hateful, cruel, ignorant and warring sects. This book taught men to kill their fellows for religion’s sake.
This book funded the Inquisition, invented the instruments of torture, built the dungeons in which the good and loving languished, forged the chains that rusted in their flesh, erected the scaffolds whereon they died. This book piled fagots about the feet of the just. This book drove reason from the minds of millions and filled the asylums with the insane.
This book has caused fathers and mothers to shed the blood of their babes. This book was the auction block on which the slave- mother stood when she was sold from her child. This book filled the sails of the slave-trader and made merchandise of human flesh. This book lighted the fires that burned “witches” and “wizards.” This book filled the darkness with ghouls and ghosts, and the bodies of men and women with devils. This book polluted the souls of men with the infamous dogma of eternal pain. This book made credulity the greatest of virtues, and investigation the greatest of crimes. This book filled nations with hermits, monks and nuns — with the pious and the useless. This book placed the ignorant and unclean saint above the philosopher and philanthropist. This book taught man to despise the joys of this life, that he might be happy in another — to waste this world for the sake of the next.
I attack this book because it is the enemy of human liberty — the greatest obstruction across the highway of human progress.
Let me ask the ministers one question: How can you be wicked enough to defend this book?
Well, we all know…Ken Ham is pretty damned wicked.
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