Pastor Tom Estes’ HARD TRUTH

Y’all remember Pastor Tom, right? Weird cranky Christian who got himself banned some time ago, ran a blog that he called “Hard Truth” in which he recited conservative dogma and called himself brave for doing it? He’s back. He’s started up his blog again, and guess what? I partly inspired him!

I wondered over to Pharyngula, where our old pal PZ Myers writes. I looked at a couple things, who he was picking on now, if my name was still in his “dungeon”(it is), and what his traffic was llike. (He has a “sitemeter” link at the bottom of his page) And I was shocked at what I found.

Yes, you are seeing this correct. Pharyngula’s traffic is way, way down. I must point out that I have absolutely no idea what has caused this. But none the less, it was very motivating to see the great Pharyngula down by around eighty-four percent.

This encouraged me because it showed me that changes in this world, however small, however insignificant (which, let us be very clear, the fact that PZ’s traffic is plummeting is very insignificant) can happen, and that Christians have to remain on offense. This is why I’m back doing this. This is why I hope that I can be the best pastor, husband, soul-winner, father, etc. that I can be. Because I know it makes a difference because I know God is still on the throne. Please don’t misunderstand me, seeing a meaningless atheist blog down in traffic is not why I’ve come back to blogging, it was just something that encouraged me along the way to making this decision.

It’s true. You know, that move we made last August? The traffic at Scienceblogs is way, way down, because I’ve moved most of my efforts here, to Freethoughtblogs. The site at Sb only gets partial content, everybody knows it, and so almost everyone comes here now, where traffic is way way up. He has absolutely no way of knowing what has caused this, except maybe for the big bold banner at the top of every page that says:

More articles by PZ Myers can be found on Freethoughtblogs at the new Pharyngula!

You know, the banner with three links to the new network so that no one would miss it. Except Pastor Tom.

Poor Pastor Tom, I have some HARD TRUTH for you: you’re dumb as a bag of slugs.

Before crying triumph at the decline of the heathen, he ought to take a look at Freethoughtblogs. We’re his worst nightmare.

Ken Hates Fags

I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what the views of professional ignoramus Ken Ham are on gay marriage…well, at least those of you who haven’t read the Answers in Genesis articles on homosexuality before. No surprise, Ken Ham is on the side of the haters.

…when Pastor Rick Warren interviewed Obama in 2008 before the election, he said that marriage was between a man and a woman. As he declared this, he said he was a Christian and that “God’s in the mix.” Now I do not know what he meant by that statement, but I’m assuming he’s implying that God has something to say about marriage. And God does have something to say about marriage—He says marriage is between a male and a female and that homosexual behavior is an abomination, and thus “gay” marriage is as well!

Then follows prolonged slavish masturbation over various quotes from Leviticus, Romans, Corinthians, etc., the usual suspects. One mild surprise is this:

A couple of points must be made. First, the Bible explicitly calls homosexuality an abomination (Leviticus 20:13) and places it in a list of other vices (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). It is wrong for any Christian to condone homosexuality, since God’s Word clearly speaks against it. However, it is also wrong to single out homosexuality and shrug off the other sins listed in these passages.

So Ken Ham abides by all the old Jewish dietary laws? Does he kill gays? His bible is pretty clear on that; they’re supposed to be put to death, but they’re walking around, and some probably even visit his “museum”. Does he refuse to get tangled up in lawsuits with other Christians, for instance? Has he offered a sacrifice of a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats? Has he put to death anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord?

There are a lot of very specific orders in there. I think Ken Ham has been shrugging off quite a few Biblical sins. That last one, for instance—he should have had his guards gun me down the instant I walked into his little temple to lies in Kentucky.

At least Bill Donohue has been poked savagely

The divorced Bill Donohue is in full-blown apoplexy over Obama’s tepid support for gay marriage.

I want the law to discriminate against straight people who live together — I used to call it shacking up, now it’s called cohabitation — I want the law to discriminate against all alternative lifestyles, against gays and unions.

Donohue’s argument against gay marriage is that it would open the door to all kinds of abominations…like brother and sister marriages, for which he cites a case in the courts. He asks the other guest on the show if he approves of that.

You know, if I were asked that question, I’d say…yeah, it ought not to be against the law. My personal squeamishness about how two people relate to one another ought not to be legally enforced; I’m sure there are people who consider what my partner and I do in the bedroom to be utterly disgusting, and I don’t think anyone should have to defend their private, consensual preferences to a team of strangers. I think prospective sibling marriages ought to be confronted with extensive genetic counseling, at the very least, and I might be willing to consider limiting the reproductive rights of such a relationship (because it would bring a third person into it, who does not deserve the potential genetic afflictions that can result from inbreeding) as reasonable, but otherwise…it’s not my place to police what other people do.

That answer would probably turn Donohue purple.

I have a song for you, Bill. Perhaps it will soothe your furrowed brow and bring your blood pressure down a few points.

I was a terrible father

When I made pancakes for my kids, I thought I was good by making them look like Mickey Mouse. I have been put to shame.

I can imagine my kids going in for psychoanalysis for the trauma, lying on the couch and weeping over my inferior, mediocre pancakes, which clearly testified to the fact that I didn’t love them enough.

But sometimes I mixed chocolate chips into the batter! Does that make any amends at all?

Why I am an atheist – Infinity

My journey to atheism was not long or difficult. I was raised in a Reform Jewish home that was not particularly religious. I grew up in a city where there was a fairly large Jewish population in the suburbs, but there were very few other Jews within the city. My sister, two teachers, and I were the only Jewish people in my high school of 1,000 students. At the same time, I did not identify with anyone my age at the synagogue because I attended a city school. Hence, my Jewish identity always had more to do with not being Christian than it did with actually being Jewish (I should point out that despite my minority status in school, I never experienced anything beyond glancing anti-Semitism).

As a teen and in my twenties, I came to the conclusion that no religion should be taken literally, but I still hung onto the idea of an unknowable god. In later twenties, I became increasingly uncomfortable as I realized that if there was a god, it must be extremely cruel. Then, in the fall of 2008, I had my epiphany moment while mowing the lawn. Not long before then, a friend had recommended the Radio Lab podcast and upon first listen, I was hooked. That day, I was listening to the episode titled “The (Multi) Universe(s),” which is an extended interview of Brian Green by Robert Krulwich. It begins with a discussion of infinity: In an infinite universe, all patterns, no matter how complex, will repeat. My pulse literally quickened as began to mull this over. For lack of a better description, it was like a religious revelation but ironically, it was the final step in my rejection of the guiding hand. Although it wasn’t expressly discussed in the podcast, my brain made the logical leap. In an infinite universe, all patterns, no matter how complex will not just repeat; all patterns will be attempted. Suddenly, evolution made sense to me in a way it never had before.

As someone who claims an affinity for logic, I felt silly for never having thought about it before. After all, I’d heard the old joke about infinite monkeys producing Shakespeare, but had never thought to apply the concept beyond the joke. But now that I was thinking about it, I realized that on an infinite scale, if something is even remotely possible, it is a certainty that it will happen somewhere. If you consider only the Earth, without looking beyond it, then the odds of all the variables lining up the way they did so as to give rise to life are infinitesimal. At that scale, the idea that a guiding hand was necessary is understandable. But in an infinite universe, it was not only possible, but inevitable that somewhere and sometime, a planet exactly like ours would happen. All you need is randomness and time, not god.

Since that day, I’ve read and heard much more and I confesses that I have only the most superficial understanding the various multiverse theories. I now appreciate that whether or not there is an infinite amount of the matter necessary for life as we know it is an open question. But the idea still holds, and I will not go back. On a large enough scale, life happening was just a matter of time, not divinity. Now, if I am asked, “What do you believe in if you don’t believe in God?” I respond, “I believe the Universe is very, very big.”

United States

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Jebus Teetotalin’ Christ. That’s the best we’ve got from Obama? Seriously? It’s taken him this long to “evolve” to the point where he can take a personal (not even a political) stand on civil rights?

I am not impressed.

Those few words were the bare minimum I’d have expected from a Democratic candidate running for office last century — they are so self-evident, so clear and obvious to any decent human being that I’m appalled that anyone thinks this is a remarkable achievement. Our standards are apparently so low for our politicians that we clap and applaud when they make even a token declaration against bigotry.

Hey, maybe if he’d taken a stand a few years ago, we wouldn’t have had debacles like the recent anti-gay ballot in North Carolina.

He might as well have. In response to that tepid and qualified and ineffectual statement, American hate groups like the American Patriarchy Association, the Patriarchy Research Council, and the Catholic League are already denouncing him furiously. In for a penny, in for a pound, I say — I dare Obama to now stand up and fight for this right. None of this pussy-footing around — he’s going to get screwed by the haters already — so he might as well take a strong stand and earn the goddamned liberal/progressive vote.

He might earn a little respect, too.

The end is in sight!

This afternoon, I give the last final exam of the semester. There are still term papers trickling in, but I expect to have all my grading done by Friday. Hurrah. So when does my vacation start?

So I think I get a weekend at home sometime in June. A “vacation” is when you just get to stay home, right?