Hovind’s descent into insanity is complete

Going, going, going….gone. Such is the state of Kent Hovind’s mind behind bars. His latest missive on the CSE blog is a bizarre script in which he imagines himself to be in a dialogue with God. This is perhaps the most detailed and explicit first-hand evidence we’ll ever get of the extent to which fundamentalist beliefs lead inexorably to actual, irreversible mental illness. Read this one little excerpt, and imagine blustery Terry Jones in the role of God, and a hapless Michael Palin as Kent. Remember, you gotta do the voices.

KH: Lord, I’m outside enjoying Your glorious sunshine on a gorgeous day in South Carolina. I really need the sunshine for my health. Thank you, Lord! What is my next assignment while I’m here?

GOD: One step at a time, son. I’ll guide you. What happened after lunch today?

KH: I was sitting in the sun writing to you and Don came over and sat down to talk. He sure was eager to learn about the Bible. He gladly asked You to forgive his sins and trusted You as Savior.

GOD: Yes, I was there with you. Don is twenty-seven years old. His life will do a complete 1800 turn during the next twenty months in prison. I have big plans for him, son. Thanks for being obedient to my leading, son. Sometimes, I have a hard time getting you to listen to me.

KH: I know, Lord. Sorry about that. I have another question, Lord. Why did you let them more me five hundred miles away from my family?

GOD: I know this is hard for you. How many men in there are away from their families?

KH: Nearly all of them, Lord. Some only see their family once a year—and some not at all. I know what you are going to say, Lord, that now I know how they feel and can be a better witness to them, right?

GOD: Very good, son. You are starting to get the picture!

KH: But, Lord, five hundred miles away?

GOD: You are still in America, son. Would you prefer…Siberia?

KH: Oh, no, South Carolina is just fine! Hey, Lord, why did you let me slip on those steps in Atlanta and bruise my ankle so badly?

GOD: I needed you to see the new prison doctor that just came from India. He knows almost nothing about Me, son. I know you didn’t have much time with him, but you did tell him about your Website. He will look at it and read the “How To Be Saved” article. That will start him on the road to salvation later this year.

I’m sorry about the bruise, but you can’t see the doctor in there unless you are hurt. Would you rather I break it next time—or bruise your head?

KH: No, Lord! The ankle was a great idea.

I guess it was obvious to God that Kent’s head has already taken a little too much damage!

Hovind’s mind is beginning to crumble

There are signs emerging that Kent Hovind is starting to deteriorate between the ears (“Whaddaya mean, starting to?” you’re saying, I know) as a result of his incarceration. His latest letter from the pen posted on the Creation Science Evangelism blog is a bizarre, self-pitying bit of blather in which he refers to God as the “master,” Jesus as the “woodsman,” evolution as a “big oak” and himself as the “ax”. He then goes off in a profoundly weird rant, following a “why hast thou forsaken me” motif.

I mean, get a load of this (spelling errors included):

Dear Woodsman,

Why have you done this? We were doing so well felling tress for the Master’s house and you quit chopping with me in the middle of cutting that big oak. Why? I was doing my best. I never flew off the handle. I cut as deep as I could every swing. What did I do wrong?

Why do you have me clamped in this vice? I can’t move! I can’t chop wood here. I was designed for chopping wood. I love it! Please don’t leave me clamped in this vice. I feel pressure on my sides that I’ve never felt before. I can handle the pressure on my cutting edge. Go ahead. Chop with me all day long. I can take it. Actually, I love it!

Now what? No! Wait! Why are you grinding and filing off part of me? Why would you take away pieces of the most effective part of me—my cutting edge?

Woodsman, the Master needs the trees cut! This delay is holding up the job we were doing for Him! Please stop grinding on me and get me out of this vice. I want to go back to work. I love cutting wood. Ouch! You are hurting me!

Woodsman, are you listening to me? Do you know what you are doing?

The Ax

This is the kind of thing you read, and then sit there quietly for a second, before exhaling and thinking “…Wow!”

Hovind is disintegrating. When he’s released, it is likely he will have to undergo treatment of some kind in a mental health facility. He may even have to be remanded to such a facility before his release. I don’t feel sorry for him in the least for who he’s been and what he’s done. But it’s a reassuring sign, I suppose, that his influence has considerably waned, and may even be considered negligible. In the “deuling polls” matter discussed a few days ago, the “Free Hovind” petition still has fewer than 100 signatures, many of which are pranks, while the “Keep Him Locked Up” counter-petition has over 1100. He’s lost his fan base except for all but the stupidest and most deluded, and now he’s losing his marbles.

What still hasn’t been reported about the bomber

The would-be family planning clinic bomber Paul Ross Evans was indicted today on a number of charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He got most of the materials for his bomb at a local Wal-Mart and used his credit card for the purchase. It didn’t take too much effort to solve the crime. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison. Apparently, he realized the seriousness of his little stunt while awaiting trial and he made a suicide attempt.

It might be interesting to readers to know that this event occurred in Austin Texas, the home town of the Atheist Experience. While Austin is a great place to live, we have our nuts, too.

The press has been eerily silent about the motivations of this guy. Anybody who pays the slightest bit of attention to the culture war knows that the only people who care about making trouble for family planning clinics are the hard-core Christian conservatives. I’ll bet anyone that this guy had some religious indoctrination along the way. I wonder if he didn’t get some of that faith-based programming while he was in prison earlier. I seriously doubt the mainstream media will look into the question, given their pro-religion bias. Believers certainly don’t like to be confronted with the reality that belief (denying reality) has bad consequences. It’s bad for newspaper sales.

The press has reported that the guy has no known affiliations to terrorist groups, but I think perhaps it’s time we broaden the definition of terrorist groups to include some more of these religious extremists. It seems that there is some confusion about what kind of crime the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to go after. If this sort of bombing isn’t an example of domestic terrorism, I don’t know what is. Meanwhile, DHS is apparently charged with going after child predators, yet the leaders of the largest pedophile organization in modern history still flaunt the law, impede investigations, and roam free. Can anybody guess who they are? Perhaps it’s time we stop giving religious believers a free ride in the morality department. After all, aren’t they supposed to adhere to a higher standard?

Back to the Paul Ross Evans story, I can’t help but point out the irony of “pro life” people trying to plot murders. “Pro life” seems to be little more than a marketing device. If you believe that human bodies are just soul traps, that souls are the essence of a person, and that it’s the ultimate destiny of the soul to escape the trap, you’re naturally going to de-value human life. Not surprisingly, countries with more believers also have more suicides and murders. …Oh, and higher abortion rates, too. (Too many ironies for one paragraph. That last point really calls for a separate post.) You can bet that Paul Ross Evans believes that humans have souls. He might even believe that he’ll have a special place in Heaven because of his actions.

I have yet to get a definite theological answer on what becomes of the alleged souls of aborted embryos, since Christians seem to think they have them. This question is especially important now that the Vatican has backpedaled on their invention of limbo. If those little buggers go automatically to heaven, then maybe killing them isn’t so bad, as Andrea Yates correctly concluded. If they go to hell, as original sin would indicate, then we have to wonder how Christians live with the fact that their “gift” of free will from a benevolent God is the cause of the infinite torture of innocent little babies.

Hovind in the hole

Word is getting around the blogosphere that creationist Kent Hovind, currently doing time for violating numerous tax laws, has been thrown into solitary confinement, though reasons for this are obscure. One explanation is that Hovind has been trying to run his own prison ministry without approval, though to what degree that is true is up in the air.

Given Hovind’s penchant for portraying himself as an innocent martyr to the faith who’s being victimized by an evil government trying to silence him for preaching “the truth” about evolution, and the brainless eagerness of Hovind’s wide-eyed followers to parrot this self-serving delusion (seriously, check the comments in the link above, as well as some of those that have turned up even here), it’s likely any story that comes along as to why Hovind has been so incarcerated — if he even has — will have been thoroughly run through CSE’s distortion machine.

Naturally, I feel about as much sympathy for Hovind, let alone his claims of martyrdom, as I do for Paris Hilton. Neither an imaginary deity nor spoiled-brat celebutard status puts anyone above the law.

Religion is the answer (they’re selling)

Did you ever notice that whatever the problem, religion is plugged as the answer? Case in point: last week’s Virginia Tech shootings. A student goes haywire and kills a bunch of people–not good. Religious leaders then get asked by the faithful, “Where was God during all of this?” It seems like a reasonable question to ask of someone who believes in an omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent god.

Atheists would answer it simply that God is a figment of people’s imagination. Such things more often cause killings than prevent them. For example, 9/11, Andrea Yates, stem cell research bans, Branch Davidians, Jim Jones, Inquisition, Gott Mit Uns, Heaven’s Gate, etc., etc., etc. In this particular case, figments of your imagination are irrelevant to the reality of the shooter, so it’s obvious that your God can’t intervene. Next question?

Religious leaders know that if you’re asking such questions, you’re thinking. And if you’re thinking, you’re not blindly believing, which is bad for their business. So religious leaders shut down the line of questioning and instead promote their magic cure-all elixir: religion.

For James Kennedy, the answer to “where was God?”, is “He was hanging on the cross. (Just passing time flapping away, apparently.) “The cross is God’s ultimate solution to sorrow and suffering.” Pay attention grieving Virginia Tech students: you are vile wretches that deserve to be tortured for all eternity for your lack of faith. Kennedy will gladly sell you the cure, though, the smilin’ bleedin’ Jesus for the bargain price of a tithe. Ah, that Christian love is in the springtime air.

Ken Ham, the Answers in Genesis creationist used-religion salesman, used the tragedy to point out that if you think the answer to the tragedy has anything to do with sin, you damn well better believe in that 6-day creation he’s been flogging. The Bible is literally true, don’t you know. To translate his point, if you don’t believe in that 6-day creation crap, why should you believe anything about the concept of sin. Atheists would certainly agree with this line of reasoning. Perhaps this is why his posting was removed from the AiG web site. (Oh, and by the way, he says, isn’t it great that creationism was launched at Virginia Tech by a civil engineering instructor? Let’s pour a little embarrassment into the wound.)

For gall, Franklin Graham is hard to beat. Out of the goodness of his heart, he’s ready to send hundreds of “grief counselors” trained to convert to Christianity those who are emotionally vulnerable, “as we have done in many situations since 9/11 in New York City.” He’s even got some VT students on his web site helping to promote his extreme generosity with strings attached. I wonder if those “grief counselors” think that converting people to Christianity helps their chances of going to heaven. Franklin Graham also runs one of the groups distributing federal faith-based AIDS relief in Africa where they can get their “good news” across because their victims know that they need the provided medicine to live. Charity, indeed.

Does religion have anything to offer in the VT shooting? No. Does religion have anything to offer in any situation? No. These people are plugging religion because they make money from it. It’s all just self-serving promotion at the expense of others, just as Martin predicted last week.

4 billion years of evolution beats $1 billion in abstinence-only sex ed

Big surprise! Abstinence-only sex ed doesn’t work.

Big surprise! It’s a huge waste of money.

Big surprise! 4 billion years of evolution in making every living thing on this plant successful because of our collective ability to procreate beats out religiously motivated wishful thinking. Who could have possibly known? (Certainly not anyone who thinks that Jesus solves all your problems.)

Big surprise! It was all just a way for the religious right to get money from its shills in the government. Sadly, this blatant and obvious corruption at the expense of our youth will likely never be punished. I, for one, would like my tax money back on this one.

We’ve been saying this stuff all along, but nobody listens to us atheists. We’re immoral.

Hovind loses appeal; wife will now be charged

Okay, I know this news is a couple of days old. But I’m hoping its repeated posting here is enough to convince the small army of Hovindites who’ve descended upon this comment thread that the game is over, the jig is up, your boy is toast, and any further attempts to defend Kent by trotting out innuendos about government conspiracies or wondering whether the jail tapes are legal (they’re still up on YouTube; they are) isn’t going to change reality any more than Hovind’s “Dinosaur Adventure Land” dog park and its chintzy displays changed the reality that Earth is 4.5 billion years old and all its living things are descendents of a common ancestor. Go watch the video about the martial arts “qi” master again, getting pwned by someone who seems to be a thoroughly run-of-the-mill black belt. When fantasy meets reality, it’s like a squirrel on the highway meeting a semi.

I do feel sorry for Jo, though.

The “Thou Shalt Not Judge” Mind Game

Often, the hidden messages of a phrase carry more weight than its literal interpretation. The phrase “Thou shalt not judge,” is a fine example. It’s an adaptation from a quote attributed to Jesus, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged” (Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37). Although the Bible has other passages encouraging judging, the phrase in question has far more currency today, especially among liberal Christians. I believe its lasting popularity is due to a rather dark mind game that it carries with it. The mind game has several components.

First, the phrase is most often used in a context where some obvious wrong has been committed, but is being excused by the speaker. It’s one thing to acknowledge a mistake, learn from it, and make amends. It’s another thing entirely to sweep it under the rug. The hidden message is that you, too, have skeletons in your closet, so don’t draw attention to this one. Such a message is simply an abdication of responsibility.

The phrase is also often used between believers as a kind of collusion between thugs in the name of the thug boss, God. To use it is to say, “Keep your nose out of my business with the mafia boss, and I’ll stay out of your business. Otherwise, the boss will rub you out.” It is a kind of promise that if you excuse the speaker’s act of thuggery he’ll look the other way when you later commit yours. Occasionally, it’s used as a kind of religious tolerance mechanism to deal with the fact that there are thousands of sects of Christianity, each with their own unique and contradictory interpretation of the Bible. As long as the harm in question is directed against non-Christians, it should be excused in the name of ecumenicism.

At another level, using the phrase is admission that there is no solid morality on which to decide moral issues. With a lack of any sort of absolute morality from God, the speaker is left to create a smoke screen that distracts from this uncomfortable fact. The notion of an absolute morality from God is perhaps one of the most pernicious myths of the western religions.

Biblical passage is really a prohibition against being a hypocrite. That contextualized meaning has long since vanished, apparently. The hidden messages of the shorter phrase have far more utility. In the future, listen closely in the situations when “thou shalt not judge” is used. See if you can find someone avoiding responsibility for their actions or beliefs; looking to make a shady deal to downplay an act of thuggery; or hiding the fact that they don’t have a sound basis to tell right from wrong. When you catch someone using the phrase in this manner, call them on the carpet. Judge.

Stop the evil godless Congress!

On Monday, the Secular Coalition announced that Rep. Pete Stark (D. Calif.) is, according to their research, the first open nontheist in the history of Congress. This announcement came as the result of a the Secular Coalition’s “Find an Atheist, Humanist, Freethinker Elected Official” contest.

Wasting very little time, the Christian Seniors Association(a division of Traditional Values Coalition) released a statement which clearly demonstrates the anti-atheist biogtry and ignorance that made this search for nontheists both necessary and overdue.

CSA ASKS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO SPEAK UP AS CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN STARK DENIES GOD’S EXISTENCE
A Sad First in the History of the Congress

Washington, DC – The Christian Seniors Association (CSA) today encouraged members of the Congress to speak of their belief in God on the floor of the House after a liberal California Congressman made history by denying God.

Katy, bar the door! There’s a Congressman who doesn’t believe in God, so we’re gonna have us some “chuhch”. Why would it be necessary (or appropriate) for Congress to stop doing business in order to give their personal testimonies? Did Rep. Pete Stark’s announcement tie up any Congressional time?

“It is sad but not surprising that the current Congress has produced this historic first – one of its members has denied God,” said CSA Executive Director James Lafferty.

So, this is clearly a demonstration of the evils of “the current Congress”? Nevermind the fact that Rep. Stark has been a member of Congress since 1973, we need to spin this so that the Democratic takeover looks bad. Seriously though, how bad could it really be? Isn’t he just one man that flew under the religious radar? Is this really a sign of the apocalypse?

“The liberals in Congress want to throttle any school child who bows his or her head in prayer, but they want to establish a right for liberals to bash Christians and berate God around the clock.

Oh no! They’re coming for our kids and bad mouthing our god!

Ok, enough sarcasm…now I’m pissed. I suppose I should be grateful that the CSA has clearly demonstrated the very problems we’ve been pointing out. This ignorant, misdirected bigotry is the result of a very narrow mindset that has no understanding of what true religious freedom is.

They began with “there’s an atheist in Congress”, moved to “well, that’s no surprise, I’ve read Ann Coulter’s book…this is just part of the godless liberal agenda” and then graduate to blatant lies and sensationalist attacks about how we’re coming after the children.

“It is time for religious members of Congress to push back.”

Sure it is. One of hundreds of Congressmen is a heathen, so we need everyone to organize in opposition to this travesty. Evidently Rep. Stark is a huge threat to the fabric of the delusional universe these folks call home.

“We have long recognized that all of this hot air about ‘separation of church and state’ has been a veiled effort to intimidate and silence religious voices in public policy matters.

And we, the godless, have long recognized that you have no understanding of ‘separation of church and state’ and no interest in exercising tolerance toward those who hold beliefs which differ from yours. In your ignorant little minds, religious freedom only applies to those who share your fondness for fairytales.

The First Amendment is now “hot air”. Thanks.

Please explain how Pete Stark’s beliefs “intimidate and silence religious voices”. Could someone silence those crickets, please? I’m having a hard time hearing their response.

“Congressman Stark’s statement is a very sad benchmark for America. It could be the moment which defines the decline of our country or it could be the spark which marks an important day.

It certainly could and its clear which direction you’re encouraging – decline. How quickly we forget that this nation was founded by people trying to avoid the exact mindset you’re promoting.

“This is a fight which is destined to be fought in America and we think it should begin today.”

Clearly fighting is all you understand. Rational discourse is beyond you.