The Great Debate

28 January, 2014 - Tuesday

I listen to The Thinking Atheist as often as possible, and tonight, on my drive home, I listened to the latest episode.  This episode was all about whether or not Bill Nye (The Science Guy), should debate Ken Ham, (The Creationist Museum).

bill-nye-ken-ham-debate

I must say, I was surprised at some of the opinions. All the guests who were on tonight are very much admired by me.  I’ve watched, listened and read all of them.  But.. I think some of them are misguided.  Their responses were slightly varied, but (with few exceptions), along the lines of “He shouldn’t do it”, “..creationism shouldn’t be debated since it’s already been debunked”, and “He isn’t a debater”

Yeah, he isn’t a debater.  Yeah, we are all a little nervous — can Bill Nye win this debate against Ken Ham? Can he pull it off and not fall into some trap that Ken Ham will lay? Can he not facepalm himself to death with the nonsense Ham touts? How can you debate somebody who makes stuff up? (Dinosaurs being ridden by man, anyone??). I hope Bill Nye can get past Ken Ham’s one liners, and pseudo-science.  Ken Ham’s prepositional apologetic faith based “science” is sheer bullshit (and I’m $ure Ken Ham know$ it’$ bull$shit).

Can Bill Nye Win?  What if he loses? I think there will be two winners here — The creationists will think Ken Ham won.  Everyone else with a brain that works properly will think Bill Nye won.

But I don’t think that matters.  What matters is this being seen AFTER the debate.  Bill Nyes arguments will be seen by some 20 year old at 3am one Tuesday night, and it will change his life – maybe he will be the next Brian Cox.  It’ll be seen by some 36-year-old guy who has begun to question his religion – maybe he’ll be the next Seth Andrews.  It will be seen by a woman who has 3 kids, and by listening to Bill Nyes responses to what she thought she knew to be true, she will change what she teaches her children. Those children will grow up seeing the fucking awesomeness that is real, honest to goodness, peer reviewed, tried and tested science.   This has happened before to people.  Just substitute Bill Nye’s name for Chistopher Hitchens.

Why should we debate creationists??

  • 46% of the American population believe in creation — that man was put on this earth in the form he is today, less than 10,000 years ago.

Let that sink in for a sec.

46%.  Forty six per-fucking-cent. WTF, people?!?  

  • Towns and cities across the states are having to fight creationists to keep science IN schools.  Texas Board of Education as just the latest example.
  • States across the country are putting up bills into their legislature that would have creationism taught in schools alongside biology.
  • There are 14 states, right this second, that are allowing schools to teach creationism in the classroom.
  • We have Senators and Congressmen who are young earth creationists and have voices and votes that can, and will, push creationism even further into schools, discarding all evidence to the contrary.

This must change.

We need to show the creationists the truth of reality, of our world, of our history, of the amazing beauty that evolution is, and pulling the wool away from their eyes.

I agree very much with David Silverman (of American Atheists). I think creationists need to be brought down with a big smack of reality. I don’t think the objections to this debate are valid. Freethinkers have been debating the religious for years, and have brought about change. Debating a creationist, who has absolutely no proof to his claim (no peer review, no testing) is necessary and needed by our entire society.

I wish that Ken Ham had accepted the Houston Atheists challenge of a debate with PZ and Matt Dillahunty, (more seasoned debaters). But I will cheer behind Bill Nye. I’m sure he can pull it off.

I have to wonder, though, if all the naysayers (who think Bill Nye will fail), offered any help to prepare him, instead of just saying he shouldn’t be doing it.  Or are they just going to sit back and watch, hoping they were right, as he falls flat on his ass?

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What is wrong in Arizona?!?!?!

15 March, 2012 - Thursday

Seriously, what the hell is going on in Arizona???? The misogynists seem to be having some sort of “lets subjugate all women” party, and coming up with incredible craziness.  Yes, you guessed it.  Yet another way to deny women.

The Arizona Judiciary committee, with a 6 to 2 vote, decided to endorse HB 2625, which would give employers the right to deny health insurance if a woman is using contraceptives, unless she brings a note proving she is not using it as birth control.

BRING A NOTE?!?!  What the fuck is this, kindergarten?  Bring a note to prove you are not taking birth control for birth control?!  Who, in their right minds, thinks this is seriously okay?

Every day, every single day there is a war going on against women.  And every day I wake up, read the news, and shake my head and wonder how we got here.  I’ve begun to realize how.

We are too quiet.  Democrats are too quiet.  Women are too quiet.  We don’t say enough how wrong things have become when a state government of the United States brings a thoroughly disgusting bill such as this one to the table.

When, exactly, did it become okay for religious groups, and religion in general, to dictate what health care can and cannot cover?

Is there some passage of the bible I may have missed, which says that Thou Shalt Not Give Health Coverage To Those God Has Deemed Unworthy?  (And by “god” in that last sentence, I really mean “Man”).

I just want to vomit.

 

Indignity of Laws in the US

14 March, 2012 - Wednesday

Women were given the right to have a legal abortion in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.   I’m not clear why we have allowed laws to be passed that change that right.  According to this CNN Poll, 78% are still in favor of a woman’s right to choose.  Yet, our elected officials are doing everything they can to change it.  Here is just a sampling of some of the bills introduced and laws that were passed in the last year:

  • The Texas State House of Representatives has passed the Sonogram Bill (HB 15), a measure requiring women to get a sonogram before ending a pregnancy, forcing even victims of rape to have an ultrasound probe inserted into their uteruses at least 24 hours before the procedure.
  • Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would not only make abortion illegal but would make miscarriages illegal.  So, the miscarriage I had in 1992 .. would I still be in jail?
  • Indiana (House Bill 1210) wants to force doctors to lie to women about abortion causing breast cancer despite medical evidence to the contrary in order to discourage women from having abortions
  • Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a bill (HR 358) would allow states to deny insurance coverage for birth control meaning hospitals could deny abortion procedures and transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman.

The Guttmacher Institute details the extent of 2011’s war on Women’s Reproductive Rights. The report says:

  • By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009. (Note: This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related “provisions,” rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted in the states contain multiple relevant provisions.)
  • Fully 68% of these new provisions—92 in 24 states—-restrict access to abortion services, a striking increase from last year, when 26% of new provisions restricted abortion. The 92 new abortion restrictions enacted in 2011 shattered the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005.
  • Abortion restrictions took many forms: bans (6 states), waiting periods (3 states), ultrasound 5 states), insurance coverage (3 states joined the existing 5 with such restrictions), clinic regulations (4 states), medication abortion (7 states).

If you think this tiny list is crazy, read the full list here at PoliticsUSA.  I am sincerely disgusted with the state of the US.  We have GOT to get our heads together.

NARAL put together this infographic.  Take a look.

This is the collection of Doonesbury Comics that have been banned in many newspapers across the US.  Freedom of speech, especially in the current wave of GOP Right Wing Nutfucks and their war on women, has to be kept in check.

Click to view the entire image set.

Family

30 July, 2009 - Thursday

My family, at least – this says it just about perfectly.

Catch your breath,
Hit the wall,
Scream out loud,
As you start to crawl
Back in your cage
The only place
Where they will
Leave you alone.
‘Cause the weak will
Seek the weaker til they’ve broken them.
Could you get it back again?
Would it be the same?
Fulfillment to their lack of strength at your expense,
Left you with no defense;
They tore it down.

(Chorus):
And I have felt the same as you,
I’ve felt the same as you,
I’ve felt the same.

Locked inside
The only place
Where you feel sheltered,
Where you feel safe.
You lost yourself
In your search to find
Something else to hide behind.

The fearful always preyed upon your confidence.
Did they see the consequence,
when they pushed you around?
The arrogant build kingdoms made of the different ones,
Breaking them ’til they’ve become just another crown.

Refuse to feel anything at all,
Refuse to slip,
Refuse to fall.
Can’t be weak,
Can’t stand still,
You watch your back ‘cause no one will.
You don’t know why they had to go this far,
Traded your worth for these scars,
For your only company.
And don’t believe the lies
That they have told to you. Not one word was true
you’re alright, you’re alright, you’re alright.

Happy Holidays – My answer to Ron Paul

12 November, 2008 - Wednesday

I recently read an old (2003) article written by Congressman Ron Paul (posted on Reddit), in which he discusses his concern over the danger of “The Christmas Spirit” being lost, “..because of perverse court decisions, years of cultural indoctrination,  which is the fault of the elitist, secular “Left”, who have managed to drive religion from public view.”  Many things he said were quite.. err…entertaining in their notions, but one bit caught my full attention:

“Most noticeably, however, the once commonplace refrain of “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by the vague, ubiquitous “Happy Holidays.” But what holiday? Is Christmas some kind of secret, a word that cannot be uttered in public? Why have we allowed the secularists to intimidate us into downplaying our most cherished and meaningful Christian celebration?”

I ask you: How many people do you know?  Now, how many of them are Christians?  Jewish? Muslim? Buddhist?  Shinto?  Atheists? I’ll bet many of you can say a lot more than you really realize.   I’m pretty sure that a Buddhist wouldn’t respond to “Merry Christmas” as he/she is celebrating Mindfullness Day, or those who are Zuni & Hopi who are celebrating the Shalako Festival.  The Sufi might get upset if you said Merry Christmas to them, as they mourn the death of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali.  And I’m quite positive that people of the Jewish faith would respond to a Merry Christmas with a Happy Hanukkah.

As a practicing Atheist, I hardly wish anyone a Merry anything, but I have always given and responded with “Happy Holidays” — How the heck do I know what religion a person is?? It isn’t as if they wear a band on their arms (Been there, done that and we all know the hell that happened).  It is presumptuous and rude to assume that every person you see in the month of December is Christian.

I do celebrate Christmas – We have a tree and everything.  I make good food, we listen to carols, we wrap gifts, and exchange them on Christmas morning, while the yule log plays on Channel 2.  I wish my son a Merry Christmas and I love the songs “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel” and “Little Drummer Boy”.  I also love “Carol of The Bells”, “Jingle Bells”, and the way Schubert’s “Ave Maria” fills the very air with musical light. But what I don’t do is celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas.

Christmas, for me, is more akin to Thanksgiving day.  It’s a day to celebrate my family and friends, to say thank you to them for sharing their lives with me.  To “rejoice” in the fact that our lives are good, and happy, and that we are together.  I’m going to keep saying “Happy Holidays” because it pleases me. Oh, and uh.. here is a little WII game, and some socks, wrapped in pretty paper under a dying pine tree, lit with pretty lights and decorated with fat little Santas and Gingerbread ornaments.  Just enough make the house smell lovely, to piss off the cat, and leave pine needles to find come June.

But back to Mr. Paul’s question, “But what holiday?”.  Here is a list (incomplete, I’m positive), of the holidays celebrated in the Month of December, for the year 2008.  Do you think, Mr. Paul, that everyone on this list wants to be greeted by a “Merry Christmas”?

Holidays – December 2008

  • * 11/27 to 12/10: Hopi & Zuni Shalako Festival.
  • * 11/28 eve to 12/28 eve: Dhu al-Hijjah.
  • * 11/30 to 12/24 (OC 11/28 to 1/6): Advent/Festival of Lights.
  • * 12/1: World AIDS Day–Day to pray for healing of all those suffering with AIDS and HIV.
  • * 12/4: Yoruba/Santeria feast of Orisha Shango, Defender Against Evil.
  • * 12/5: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Red Tara, protector against evil and harm.
  • * 12/6: Mindfulness Day–Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing and acting with compassion for the poor and oppressed.
  • * 12/7 eve to 12/8 eve: Eid al-Adha–Muslim day of sacrifice to the one universal Deity for the good of all.
  • * 12/7 eve to 12/15 eve (12/14 peak): Geminid Meteor Showers, to remind us all that God is our Almighty
  • * 12/8: Rohatsu–Zen Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment.
  • * 12/8: Christian feast celebrating St. Anna’s conception of Blessed Mary.
  • * 12/8: Death day of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1111), Sufi saint who taught about unity of the soul with the one universal Deity of 99 names and attributes.
  • * 12/11 eve to 12/13 eve: Feast of the Immanent Feminine Divine Spirit–honoring Goddess as Maha Devi Shakti (Hindu), Allat Ruh Sakinah (Old Arabic-Sufi), Eloah Ruach Shekhinah (Jewish Kabbalah) & Holy Spirit Wisdom (Christian). * 12/12 (11:37 a.m. EST): Full Moon (Snow/Fire Moon).
  • * 12/12: Baha’i feast honoring the one Deity as Masa’il–Mystery.
  • * 12/12: First Appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of God and Mother of the Oppressed, at the former shrine of Aztec Moon Goddess Coatlicue (Mexico 1531).
  • * 12/13: Feast of the Light-bringer– honoring Goddess as Juno Lucina (Old Roman) & Lucia (Old Swedish); merged with the Christian feast of St. Lucia.
  • * 12/14: Christian feast of St. John of the Cross (d. 1591), whose suffering–for advocating church reform–generated mystical union with Deity.
  • * 12/15 (A 1/25): Old Egyptian festival of Neteret Amenet-Rait-Mut, the primordial Great Mother.
  • * 12/15: Death day of Fr. Pavel Florensky (1943), Orthodox Christian mystic who taught that Holy Wisdom is Our Mother, the Holy Spirit, third part of the Holy Trinity.
  • * 12/15: Day the Catholic Church silenced Fr. Matthew Fox for teaching Creation Spirituality (1988); day to mourn the silencing of all religious dissenters and reformers.
  • * 12/16 to 12/24: Christmas Novena/Las Posadas–Christian remembrance of the journey of Blessed Mary and St. Joseph to Bethlehem and their taking refuge in a cave-stable.
  • * 12/17: Yoruba/Santeria feast of Orisha Babalu Aye, Healer of Deadly Diseases.
  • * 12/17: Day to give thanks to our God for the air we breathe.
  • * 12/17 to 12/23: Saturnalia/Opalia–Old Roman festival honoring God Saturn (the weak Sun) & Goddess Ops (the fallow Earth); celebrated with gift-giving, revelry, and abolishment of all class distinctions.
  • * 12/17 eve to 12/24 eve (12/22 peak): Ursid Meteor Showers, to remind us all that God is our Almighty.
  • * 12/21 (7:04 a.m. EST): Winter Solstice/Solar New Year–Marks the beginning of Winter and the shortest day and longest night of the year; celebration of the darkness with dancing near the hearth fire.
  • * 12/21 to 12/22: Festival of Evergreen Trees; merged into International Arbor Day. Celebrated by planting trees and hanging wreaths (symbols of eternal life).
  • * 12/21 to 12/25: Old Romano-Egyptian festival of Goddess Isis giving birth to God Horus.
  • * 12/21 eve to 12/29 eve: Hanukkah/Festival of Lights–Jewish festival commemorating a victory in their struggle for religious freedom and rededication of the second Temple of Jerusalem to Elohim. Menorah candles are lit.
  • * 12/21 to 1/9: Hopi & Zuni Soyala New Year Festival of purification and renewal. Homes are cleaned, fires doused, and personal restraint is observed.
  • * 12/22: Taoist festival honoring Wang-Mu/Empress Mother, Mother of Compassion and Wisdom, and manifestation of the Tao (Cosmic Power of Creation and Destruction). Also celebrates the peak of the feminine Yin half of the year and the Shen of Earth, North, and Winter; prayers are made for rest and renewal, and offerings are made to the Cosmos.
  • * 12/22: Tohji-Taisai–Shinto rite honoring Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Storm God Susano-o angered Her, and She withdrew into a cave until enticed out with music and dance.
  • * 12/22: Beginning of Capricorn (the Goat).
  • * 12/22: Birthday of Lily Montagu (1873), who co-founded Liberal Judaism in 1902. She was the first Jewish woman to serve as lay minister, both officiating and preaching.
  • * 12/24 eve: Mother Night– Christian vigil for the laboring Blessed Mary.
  • * 12/25 (OC 1/7): Christmas– Christian celebration of Blessed Mother Mary giving birth to Child Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • * 12/25 to 1/5: Yule–Old Anglo-Teutonic festival honoring Freyr and Freyja (Deities of Fertility) and the new-born Balder (God of Light), son of Frigga and Odin. Celebrated with evergreens, fires, and feasting.
  • * 12/26: Day commemorating the death of Zoroastrian Prophet Zarathustra (551 BCE). Zoroastrians worship by making offerings to a sacred fire.
  • * 12/26 to 1/1: Kwanzaa–Festival celebrating positive African traditions; emphasizes unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
  • * 12/27 (7:23 a.m. EST): New Moon.
  • * 12/28: Day the Endangered Species Act. The day to mourn those creatures already extinct.
  • * 12/28 eve to 1/7 eve: Muharram/Muslim New Year (Year 1430) & A’ashurah.
  • * 12/31: Oharai/Grand Purification Festival–Shinto rite exorcising evil from the world.
  • * 12/31: Yoruba/Santeria festival of Orisha Yemaya, Mother of the Sun and Moon.
  • * 12/31: Baha’i feast honoring the one Deity as Sharaf–Honor.
  • * 12/31: Feast of Father Time, who ultimately overcomes us all.
  • * 12/31 eve: New Year’s Eve–Vigil for the new year; night for self evaluation and resolving to better oneself.

The First Amendment and Obama

10 November, 2008 - Monday

You know.. what I don’t understand is this:

Why does anyone care what Barack Obamas religion is??

The facts and questions surrounding Barack Obamas religion are easy and simple to find.  A quick Google search brings up about 12,600,000 results for “Barack Obama Religion”.  There is an amazing amount of information and curiosity on the part of Americans about Obamas religion.  And I ask this, in real wonderment, why??

I’ll admit that this whole “religion” thing is baffling to me, especially as a.. a.. Born Again Atheist.  I was raised Catholic and once I hit 18 and moved out on my own, I left religion behind.  But I have tolerance for those who still believe, who still need and want religion in their lives.  I may not understand it, but it’s tolerated.  I have friends who are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and who knows what else. My son’s best friend is Buddhist, and his other best friend is Muslim.  WTF is the big deal??

I ask this because, yet again, in my office, people were talking about the “fact” Obama is Muslim.    They still think, after 20+ months of campaign, and a win in the election, with all the information that has been put out there, that he is Muslim.  Right off the bat this just pisses me off.

The guy (we’ll call him John), who made the statement this morning (“Obama is a f***’ing Muslim”), looked at me as if I had 9 heads and a snake-like body when I said, “So what? That is why we have the Constitution.”  He clearly has no idea what the First Amendment is, except something about “Freedom of Religion”.  To John, Freedom of Religion means “Freedom to be a Christian.”

The United States Constitution, which grants two (2, duo, 1 more than 1!) clauses regarding religion:

“[1]Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, [2]or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ”

[1]The Establishment clause prohibits

  • the creation of a national religion
  • the preference of one religion over another
  • the preference of religion over non-religion.

The US Supreme Court ruled June 27, 1994, in Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (Case Law) , that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion”.

[2]The Free Exercise Clause::

  • or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  (Case Law)

That means we cannot prohibit anyone from establishing, and/or practicing any religion, and we are not allowed to persecute for having no religion.

This is our law.  This is how our Supreme Court ruled on the First Amendment Of The Constitution of The United States of America. The Constitution does not say  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, UNLESS you are Muslim. ”

So tell me, what does it really matter?  Being a Muslim does not immediately put you into the same category of Fundamentalist Muslims.  There is a huge difference.  Does somebody being a Christian – A Baptist, say – get immediately put into the category of “Born Agains” or the Fundamentalist Christian Right?  In the same way, not all Mormons have 5 wives – not all are fundamentalist.

Do we only value our Constitution when it suits us?  Why should it matter if somebody is Muslim, Jewish, Catholic or Atheist?  Do we only get to exercise our freedom of religion, as long as it is Christian?

“But the Founding Fathers put “In God We Trust” on our money!!

In April 22, 1864, Congress passed an Amendment authorizing the motto “In God We Trust” to be placed on the two-cent coin.  It appeared on various coins throughout the years, and appeared on paper money in 1957. The phrase was eventually printed on all paper bills, superseding the motto “E Pluribus Unum” (From Many, One) adopted by the Union in 1782.  I say, let’s go back to E Pluribus Unum.

“But the Founding Fathers fled religious persecution, and were themselves religious!”

First, all but 8 of the Founding Fathers were born in America.  They didn’t flee anywhere. And second, take a look at what our Founding Fathers had to say on the subject of religion:

  • “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.” – Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787)
  • I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of… Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”- Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)
  • “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” – James Madison (Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, 1785.)
  • “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.” – Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)
  • Every man “ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” – George Washington (Letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia in May, 1789)
  • “That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.” – Patrick Henry (Virginia Bill of Rights, June 12, 1776.)

I just shake my head, because there is no answer to this question.  And there is no solution to it, until people start to practice tolerance.  And from what I have seen here in my office today, I don’t know how or when that will really happen.