4/30/2008                                                                                       View Comments

National Day of Prayer

Tomorrow, May 1st, is being promoted by as the . So they all get together and pray for... what? It's hard to believe that nobody has ever prayed to end the war or feed all of the starving children or end poverty or rid the world of all suffering, etc. And if they have (and they surely have) and we still have all of these things (and we certainly do), then how the hell can they still believe prayer works?

It's the same old thing. The - just can't lose! If Christians pray for something and they get it, they thank him for answering their prayers. And if the thing they prayed for doesn't happen, they excuse him with something like, "It wasn't God's will" or "God has his reasons." (I wonder what his reasons could be for allowing innocent children to suffer through sexual and physical abuse, starving, and disease.)

And if their god is going to do whatever the hell he wants to do anyway, then why the hell pray in the first place?

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Your blasphemous mouths will be stopped!

Radical Preacher Takes on Ohio State Students



Crazy Christian dudes at University of Oregon

4/29/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Is Islam a religion of peace?

A video segment from Real Time with Bill Maher



Bill Maher talks with panel guests about Islam and how it is not a religion of peace. Specifically highlighted here is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of "Infidel." She has very strong views on Islam and its treatment of Muslim women.

4/27/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Intelligent design is being expelled!

A video by Edward Current



Shame on Big Science for trying to squash Intelligent Design -- something I confirmed with only about an hour of research. Who knew that science is worse than Hitler?

4/26/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Schism -- the movie



A video portraying aggressive behavior by Christians matched with verses from the Bible is gaining traction on the Internet.

Raed al-Saeed, a young businessman from Saudi Arabia, is the creator of Schism, a six-minute video response to Fitna — a short film released last month that portrays Islam as a violent, fascist-like ideology. "Fitna" provoked anger in many parts of the Muslim world.

Fitna, which in Arabic means discord or social strife, was posted on the Internet by right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders. It pairs verses from the Quran exhorting violence with scenes of deadly suicide bombings and planes flying into the World Trade Center.

Saeed, who runs an audio-visual company out of a rundown villa on a quiet, tree-lined street in Riyadh, says he remembers feeling helpless after watching Wilders' video. But then he realized there was a way for him to try to protect his religion and way of life: Answer the video with a video of his own.

A part-time blogger, Saeed decided to use the same technique Wilders used in Fitna. His point was to show that it is possible to make almost any religion look bad.

"It's not the right way to judge a religion by a video made by a guy who hated that religion," Saeed says. "Anybody can take any holy book — even … the Holy Bible — out of context and make it look, sound evil."

His video opens with biblical quotes, including one from the Book of Samuel that urges the destruction of "everything that belongs to" the Amalekites. "Do not spare them," it says, "put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."

Footage that Saeed found on the Internet follows. One scene shows what appears to be Western soldiers in Iraq beating up alleged insurgents. Another clip is a CNN broadcast of "Shock and Awe," the 2003 aerial bombardment of Baghdad that opened the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

A day after Saeed posted his video on YouTube, it was taken down for having "inappropriate content." He immediately reposted it with a message arguing that if his video was inappropriate, then Wilders' Fitna also should be removed. For now, both videos are available on the site.

Schism had so far been viewed more than 300,000 times on YouTube. Saeed says he has been gratified by the response to his video, noting that many comments about it on YouTube were positive. Several Dutch viewers thanked him and said they disapproved of Fitna.

Saeed says he thinks these people are trying to say that he and others like him are supporting Islam and serving their religion — and the world — better than the likes of Osama bin Laden.

Most of the people commenting on his video understood that he was making a statement about how religions are judged, rather than defaming Christianity, Saeed says.

"It's not my goal to attack Christianity. … I wouldn't attack a religion made by a prophet that I believe in," he says.

Saeed says he believes he is well-qualified to make his video. In November 2003, he was at a residential compound in Riyadh when terrorists attacked with guns and a suicide car bomb. Seventeen people, including five children, died and more than 100 people were injured. Saeed was not hurt, but the experience deeply affected him.

He says he has since read about the attack and how the compound was characterized as hosting FBI and CIA.

"I've been there and I know all the neighbors, I know everybody there. There is a mosque in there. They pray there five times a day. I know what's in there," he says.

Because he survived the horrific attack, Saeed is fond of saying that he has a "new birthday." And following the Arabic practice of putting the day first and the month second, he notes the irony of that date: 9-11-2003.

STORY LINK


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The curse of faith

By Pat Condell



Humanity's ball and chain.

You can download an audio version of this video at http://patcondell.libsyn.com

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Morality as Truth: A Rogerian argument on Creationism

A video presentation by Aspirin99






As part of my graduate program, I'm taking a Rhetorical Theory class. For the last assignment, I was asked to take something I had previously written and improve it using principles we had studied.

I chose Rogerian Argument. This principle is suggested for debating topics of hot emotional content, such as religion and politics. It seeks to place the opponent at ease by telling him or her what you like about their views and then finding common ground from which to start the discussion.

I chose to take correspondence regarding Creationism and turn it into a Rogerian documentary video. I enlisted the help of Antlerman, a mod in the forums, to do some of the voice-overs.

It's an hour-long documentary that I made in two weeks; so, it's not perfect, but I think you'll like it. I have not chopped it into 10-minute segments yet for Youtube, but it can be watched from my website (and here). I made a fast forward button for the player, so you can come back later to finish it.

4/24/2008                                                                                       View Comments

The noble position of atheism

A short rant by Bob Patterson

For reasons not easily understood, humans seem to have a basic need to want to believe that an invisible, omnipotent and omniscient deity -- one that is entirely responsible for everything and that demands our unquestioning devotion, obedience and respect for everything good that happens -- is watching over us.

This same deity, however, vehemently denies any responsibility whatsoever for those things which are bad, undesirable, or painful.

It's the ultimate and most divine "cop out" that humanity has ever documented!

To sum it up simply: God gets all the credit for that which is good, but takes none of the responsibility for that which is bad.

This is all somehow justified by the doctrine of "original sin" -- an unpaid debt that was caused when Eve ate a forbidden cumquat from the "tree of knowledge" and was suddenly made smarter. This episode pissed off the big guy in the sky, who obviously wished women to remain ignorant. (Makes you think of the Catholic church, doesn't it?) This forbidden act stuck all future humanity with a debt we can't possibly repay.

Bummer!

So,

God expects you to follow the particular cult you believe to be the "correct" one to the exclusion of all the other "wrong" cults.

I know making this determination is most difficult, since the "big guy in the sky" is so elusive, but that's the challenge, isn't it?

Send 10% of your income to some long haired TV "preechur" so he can buy another mansion or give to the Catholic church to pay for the pedophilic priests who "diddle" little boys.

Can there possibly be a more noble or honest position than atheism?

I eagerly await the hateful responses from the so called "loving believers" who would gladly condemn me to an eternity of burning in hell for such blasphemy.

The Good For Nothing Type of Christianity

And the Egalitarian Myth

By Brian Worley

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. -- Matthew 5:13


When one asks me for a positive thought or idea from Christ, immediately this verse comes to mind. Within the context of this verse, the preserving quality of salt is discussed and a frank evaluation of Christianity is rendered. Now if you only want to fight, just “sound bite” this title without any further reading. If you are positive and want to do something constructive with your life, I want to challenge you!

Missionary Chatter

I have an English speaking Christian missionary for a neighbor here in Latvia. Some native local people find it ironic that they have one American in town that builds up religion and yet another that tears it down! Stranger yet, I am familiar with his home sending church in America. So far, I respect him and his lovely family. When I say that I “respect him”, it is only within the context that he appears to be a good father, husband and is sincere to his invisible friend. I don’t want to mislead anyone, we are not that close but we are civil to each other and we talk on occasion. No, this isn’t the same guy that I mention in Letter 5 of the “In Two Minds” series.

I still have an old friend from my Bible college days that is on a foreign mission field. From a human standpoint, when you view a man that is sincere enough to pack up his family and go to a place that most people would view as undesirable, it would be cold blooded to question their heart or dedication. Furthermore, the falling dollar really changes the economic dynamics of staying on a foreign missionary field. The increased financial tension calls for greater sacrifices from their families than what they had initially budgeted for prior to leaving their home in America.

I Don’t Care for Christian Bashing

It is repulsive to me that some skeptics make a sport out of Christian bashing. I speak of it here because some might think that this is what I am doing if they “sound bite” the title. I am defining Christian bashing as disrespect towards the individual person, rather that their position. When you are not personally acquainted with sincere Christians, I suppose this juvenile behavior of Christian bashing is easier to justify as acceptable. Some atheists embarrass me when they “smack talk” to a Christian! Why they need to make asses out of themselves is beyond me. It is similar to the way that some sports radio talk show personalities operate. Some like to rant like a mad man, and grin thinking that they are clever. We need to be polite and not lose our humanity while destroying the Christian myth.

Egalitarian Attempts to Soften the Voice of Reason

Some might think I am just being amicable here; the truth is that I am not that passive at all! There is something much deeper under the surface that skeptics need to start discussing. I find it amazing that virtually nobody has introduced the subject of egalitarianism into the skeptic’s treatment of Christianity! Egalitarian is defined as “advocating full political and social equality for all people” (1982 edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary). I want to voice my disapproval to those that assert that Christianity deserves egalitarianism status in society. This spreading of the Christian egalitarian myth is a subtle attempt to soften the voice of reason in society.

As a religious atheist, I am a proponent of fighting fairly with competing ideologies. I do realize that this title “ Good for nothing Christianity” is considered offensive to false Christians, so be it! Much of Christianity, not all, has lost its savour and is therefore good for nothing in our communities and society in general. I do not wish to denigrate those who practice true religion (James 1:27) and those whom truly make the world a better place to live in due to your positive contributions!

Too Heavenly Minded to be of any Earthly Good?

In the course of discussion with my missionary neighbor, I introduced a desire to work towards community projects and wanted to gauge his interests in participating. I had contemplated approaching him for weeks, but I felt like I would get the same simplistic Christian answer for societies problems which is sin! Christians believe that the real problem within society is sin, and that getting people “saved” is the solution to all of the world’s problems.

Sure enough, this was the response that I got when I asked for his help!

I took a deep sigh, scratched my head and asked him to consider working with us sometime in the future. In a microcosm, this is precisely where the problem lies within Christianity. Christians feel that belief in their creed and imaginary friend is the solution and that this paralysis keeps them from utilizing their talents towards doing earthly good. Atheists have a question to ask the Christians, “What if you are wrong?” If you are wrong, then haven’t you lived your life in vain? Your legacy will be that you wasted your life promoting a fairy tale!

During this same discussion, something else of note was discussed. He asked, “Wouldn’t you be safer by just keeping quiet about some things?” Now certainly for temporary security, a man could shrivel in his own personal “cocoon” while society rots around him. Sure, you can procrastinate and allow small problems to grow into bigger ones, but eventually you must face the problems. Should a man and his family move every time problems arise? If Christianity was the answer, then their belief system would have “preserved” society and we would have our heaven here on earth.

Living as a Dead Man

After all according to the Christian mindset, an atheists only has only one life to live! I don’t have that imaginary life insurance that he thinks that he has. My response to this idea is that yes, I only have one life to live and that I am not going to waste it by trying to please a conjured figment of man’s imagination! Christian’s speak of the second death; I think that a majority of Christians today are living now as dead men! They gave their lives to Jesus and they have since ceased to live the only life that they will ever have the opportunity to live! Perhaps it is they who will experience the second death?

Christian elitism

Part of the Christian package is the assertion that believers are special people, while unbelievers are subjects for the wrath of God. Their belief system makes them the elitists! They have their mansion waiting for them on a street made of gold when they get to heaven. They’re the enlightened ones to understand the truths of scripture that is denied to us “heathen”. This is all within the Christian fantasy mindset, but let us take a casual look at the reality!

This egalitarian assumption is a myth

This elitism of Christianity is a dangerous fantasy. This egalitarian assumption is a myth, just like their religion is. So where does that leave Christianity? My conclusion is that so many believers are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good. Christians are dragging society down. This is the reality of Matthew 5:13. While they are all in their clubs celebrating, the world rots around them. The world could use their contributions, but that heavenly train has built its momentum and isn’t about to stop until it has reached its final destination. As I have written elsewhere, I value and acknowledge those Christian’s that are actually doing something significant!

Beware of the “sucker trap”

No I am not in a bad mood, it is important to see the world as it actually is, not as you wish it were in our fantasies. It is difficult to succeed in life without taking ownership and responsibility for our actions. The truth is that I fell into a “sucker trap” called Christianity. I remained there for 23 years until the light of reason showed me the way out! I am not claiming that atheism is the answer either, first of all atheism doesn’t tell you how to live your life. Think of atheism as an illuminated road sign that warns you not to fall into that big “sucker trap” of religion!

The perpetuation of the Christian egalitarian myth is protectionism against practical reason. Christianity is so brittle, that it cannot stand against reason and still remain on its feet. This is why Christianity needs skilled public relations specialists that they call apologists to speak, as opposed to an individual believer on their own! How many individual Christians actually dare to think for themselves? When they do, many will do what Dan Barker did, they will lose faith in faith! I challenge any believer to read a short, exceptionally well-written article by Dan named, “Dear Christian”. Should a Christian take me up upon this challenge, you will see the beauty of reason and a key to free you from your mental prison.

Can You Handle the Truth?

We do not live in an egalitarian world, but this isn’t the place to address this claim. When someone exposes a truth like this, the accusations of elitism begin to fly! The rhetoric that proceeds is just a diversionary tactic to protect the fragile beings that cannot handle the truth. It is much more soothing to throw a pity party and lash out against those who have achieved something in life. If you feel envy and hatred towards those that have surpassed you or were already ahead of you in life, maybe it is you who needs to work longer, harder, and smarter. I would rather give them their “due” and maybe try to learn something from them! If you feel that they have reached that level unfairly, then maybe you need to work for justice! . There is danger in the ideas of those that are filled with jealousy, envy, and hatred. People often pick their group to hate whether it be rich people, white people, Jews, atheists, Christians or another group. Sound reason and education should be able to keep these ideas in check!

Signs of Ignorance


It must be a shock for a Christian to read this, you have lived life as an elitist, and yet the reality is that you have gotten as far as you have by avoiding reason! Many skeptics see this, and this is why we avoid those of you that display your signs of ignorance like the fish symbol, bumper stickers, etc.. Yes it is annoying for the rest of us, but we are grateful that you have given us a clue to how your mind operates, so that we can avoid your businesses. This is a sample of what I mean when I speak about denying Christian’s egalitarian status! I could not imagine going to a “Christian lawyer”. You must question the competency of anyone holding a position of public trust if they cannot operate without consulting their invisible friend before they make decisions. Do you want these people making important decisions when so much is at stake?

Christian’s aren’t my enemy, but Christianity is a foe! The reason that Christian’s should be denied egalitarian status is that acceptance of their ideology is detrimental to the remainder of us that live under the domain of sound reason! Christianity is a very seductive trap for under developed minds. When reason isn’t allowed access into the human mind, failure often becomes the teacher. We are living in difficult times, and I see dark clouds approaching over the horizon. Jesus isn’t going to save anybody from his or her problems. You need to break free from this “sucker trap”.

Who Do You Listen to?

You might dislike what I say, but I have never forgotten that I was once a Christian! Often, society esteems the wrong people. Frequently people look at a person that might be “attractive” and will believe most anything that they have to say because they “look good”. Some of the brightest people with something of value to say might not look good but their minds are beautiful, and their hearts are pure! These are the types of people that we should be listening to, not some suave polished mental midget that stands in the pulpit on Sunday mornings!

Delusion, and Evasion: Getting Back to a Moment of Truth

In closing, I know that I have been very tough on Christianity. I strongly feel that those who still want to practice their religion should be able to do so. But when you make it public, beware of people ridiculing your stupidity! If Christians kept their silly beliefs to themselves, the voice of reason wouldn’t need to roar as often or as loudly! There is a difference between Christian bashing and using sound reason. Personally, I prefer to isolate someone and talk to Christians as a friend. I feel it is best to get their permission to discuss things, instead of initiating a public confrontation or forcing the issue. With this said, often when a calm yet civil discussion is in process Christians revert to delusion and evasion of logic and truth. In moments like these, don’t expect us to back down or allow you to violate logic and truth. This is where direct confrontation is necessary and we should name your game! Naming your game is different than calling you names! You are not dealing with sheep like minds anymore. The things that work with them, don’t work with us!

This is perhaps my most controversial article ever! So please forward it to any thinking Christian that you know! Society certainly could use the potential contributions that Christians could make if they were not so caught up in the “sucker trap”!


Brian Worley
Exminister.org
April 24, 2008
All rights reserved.

4/21/2008                                                                                       View Comments

The Pope wears funny hats



Whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God's infallible wingman, here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I'd like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That's right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he's single!

Now I know what you're thinking: "Bill, you shouldn't be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult." For one, altar boys can't even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands, all over the world. Cults get raided, religions get parades. How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume!

If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If have a billion, they call you "Pope." It's like, if you can't pay your mortgage, you're a deadbeat. But if you can't pay a million mortgages, you're BearStearn and we bail you out. And that is who the Catholic Church is: the BearStearns of organized pedophilia. Too big, too fat. When the current pope was in his previous Vatican job as John Paul's Dick Cheney, he wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the Statute of Limitations ran out. And that's the Church's attitude: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it..."


Mahr got some flak from the Catholic League for that bit of humor, so he apologized -- sort of.



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Touched by an atheist



In this short video, the American sketch comedy television program, MADtv, parodies the American television series, Touched by and Angel. George Carlin even takes the Pope to heaven.

4/19/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Does it really make any difference what so-and-so believes?

By Dave, the WM

Nearly every day I read another opinion piece in the press on how the "raging, militant proponents of the New Atheism” are destroying the framework of our society. Most harshly denigrated in these articles are typically one or more of
the Four Horsemen: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

The atheistic authors and speakers who hail from Christian cultures and backgrounds are not the only voices in the world to be shouted down for criticizing theism. From ancient times, those who stood up and voiced skepticism against the prevailing theistic superstitions had a good chance of being demonized, or worse.

A little history from Wikipedia:

Diagoras of Melos (5th century BCE) is known as the "first atheist". He blasphemed by making public the Eleusinian Mysteries and discouraging people from being initiated. The Athenians accused him of impiety, and he was forced to flee the city. He died in Corinth.

The efforts of modern day believers to soften, squelch, or even silence the voice of reason is nothing new. It's also not just something that only happens in “Christian countries.” Most people are well aware of the penalties imposed against those who resist the current religious tide in Muslim lands. But apparently it's not just Christians and Muslims that are offended by atheism.

I read an interesting article this week. A portion of it is quoted here:

Thanks to Hindu Munnani the launch of this movie “Vanakkammaa" has been stopped. Police say that it is postponed.

The poster of this movie shows Hindu Gods attending to nature’s call in public place.

This movie is supposed to contain characters posed as Hindu Gods (Rama and Hanuman) who will be smoking and drinking alcohol.

The producer of the film, Anbu Thenarasan, is an atheist.

What basically happened is that an angry mob of Hindu zealots scared the government into shutting down production of this movie before filming even began. And what are they all up in arms about? Because these "gods" are supposedly being portrayed in a disrespectful manner by none other than an evil atheist.

Belief in a god seems to be a pervasive part of the human experience. Christians might say that this quality is a clear indication that there is a "god hole" in our hearts that only God can fill. In contrast to that opinion, others speculate that our tendency toward god belief is the result of a long chain of survival struggles. In other words, god belief helped our earliest ancestors gain evolutionary advantage and although this quality may no longer be needed for survival, its a quality we've retained as a sort of vestigial organ, much like the tonsils and the appendix.

If it is true that god belief is part of our evolutionary makeup, it seems to me that god belief will not be going away any time in the foreseeable future. Evolution is slow.

At the conclusion to the opinion piece quoted above, the author asked this question:
An atheist doesn't believe in God. Does it mean that they have to denigrate God?

That's the question I'd like to ask here. Is it profitable to make fun of the gods or goddesses worshiped and adored by our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.? Should we, as ex-Christians, be understanding, tolerant and respectful of those who stubbornly cling to faith? Or, should we be more open about our non-belief, even provoking confrontation with our Christian associates, using whatever means available to extract their spiritual vestigial appendages?

And, since we are all going to die anyway, what's the difference whether other people believe in a god or not?

Any takers?

Hypostasis of the Archons

From godsfavoritecolor

I recently learned of this. For those of you who may not have heard of this before, check out the Gnostic text “Hypostasis of the Archons” or “The Reality of the Rulers,” an exegesis on the Book of Genesis 1-4 from The Nag Hammadi Library. The text is on the Internet at The Hypostasis of the Archons.

It features an inversion of the roles of God and the serpent and of others in the traditional creation story. This should drive traditional Christians to apoplexy.


What is Gnosticism?
Taken from gnosis.org

“Gnosis” and “Gnosticism” are still rather arcane terms, though in the last two decades they have been increasingly encountered in the vocabulary of contemporary society. The word Gnosis derives from Greek and connotes "knowledge" or the "act of knowing". On first hearing, it is sometimes confused with another more common term of the same root but opposite sense: agnostic, literally "not knowing". The Greek language differentiates between rational, propositional knowledge, and a distinct form of knowing obtained by experience or perception. It is this latter knowledge gained from interior comprehension and personal experience that constitutes gnosis.

In the first century of the Christian era the term “Gnostic” came to denote a heterodox segment of the diverse new Christian community. Among early followers of Christ it appears there were groups who delineated themselves from the greater household of the Church by claiming not simply a belief in Christ and his message, but a "special witness" or revelatory experience of the divine. It was this experience or gnosis that set the true follower of Christ apart, so they asserted. Stephan Hoeller explains that these Christians held a "conviction that direct, personal and absolute knowledge of the authentic truths of existence is accessible to human beings, and, moreover, that the attainment of such knowledge must always constitute the supreme achievement of human life."

What the "authentic truths of existence" affirmed by the Gnostics were are briefly reviewed bere, but a historical overview of the early Church might be useful. In the initial century and a half of Christianity -- the period when we find first mention of "Gnostic" Christians -- no single acceptable format of Christian thought had yet been defined. During this formative period Gnosticism was one of many currents moving within the deep waters of the new religion. The ultimate course Christianity, and Western culture with it, would take was undecided at this early moment. Gnosticism was one of the seminal influences shaping that destiny.

That Gnosticism was, at least briefly, in the mainstream of Christianity is witnessed by the fact that one of its most influential teachers, Valentinus, may have been in consideration during the mid-second century for election as the Bishop of Rome.3 Born in Alexandria around 100 C.E., Valentinus distinguished himself at an early age as an extraordinary teacher and leader in the highly educated and diverse Alexandrian Christian community. In mid-life he migrated from Alexandria to the Church's evolving capital, Rome, where he played an active role in the public affairs of the Church. A prime characteristic of Gnostics was their claim to be keepers of sacred traditions, gospels, rituals, and successions – esoteric matters for which many Christians were either not properly prepared or simply not inclined. Valentinus, true to this Gnostic predilection, apparently professed to have received a special apostolic sanction through Theudas, a disciple and initiate of the Apostle Paul, and to be a custodian of doctrines and rituals neglected by what would become Christian orthodoxy. Though an influential member of the Roman church in the mid-second century, by the end of his life Valentinus had been forced from the public eye and branded a heretic by the developing orthodoxy Church.

While the historical and theological details are far too complex for proper explication here, the tide of history can be said to have turned against Gnosticism in the middle of the second century. No Gnostic after Valentinus would ever come so near prominence in the greater Church. Gnosticism's emphasis on personal experience, its continuing revelations and production of new scripture, its asceticism and paradoxically contrasting libertine postures, were all met with increasing suspicion. By 180 C.E. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, was publishing his first attacks on Gnosticism as heresy, a labor that would be continued with increasing vehemence by the church Fathers throughout the next century.

Orthodoxy Christianity was deeply and profoundly influenced by its struggles with Gnosticism in the second and third centuries. Formulations of many central traditions in Christian theology came as reflections and shadows of this confrontation with the Gnosis.5 But by the end of the fourth century the struggle was essentially over: the evolving ecclesia had added the force of political correctness to dogmatic denunciation, and with this sword so-called "heresy" was painfully cut from the Christian body. Gnosticism as a Christian tradition was largely eradicated, its remaining teachers ostracized, and its sacred books destroyed. All that remained for students seeking to understand Gnosticism in later centuries were the denunciations and fragments preserved in the patristic heresiologies. Or at least so it seemed until the mid-twentieth century.

For books on this topic, CLICK HERE

4/13/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Debate – Does God Exist?

By godsfavoritecolor

I attended a formal debate a few days ago before an audience of about 200 on the question, “Does God Exist?” The representative for the negative was a college professor of philosophy. The representative for the positive was a pastor of a local fundamentalist Christian church.

The pastor was a typical fundamentalist Bible thumper, a YEC (young earth creationist, yeeecchh!) and believes that everything in the Bible is literally true. His arguments were a compendium of logical fallacies, while he accused his opponent of using logical fallacies.

Not surprisingly he compared atheists to Hitler, with the fallacious syllogism: Hitler was an atheist. Hitler killed millions of people. Therefore, all atheists are as evil as Hitler. Ignoring the fact that Hitler was not an atheist, by the pastor’s “reasoning,” since Hitler was a vegetarian, then all vegetarians are as evil as Hitler.

I believe that the major field taught at the fundamentalist seminaries like the one the pastor probably attended is obfuscation. I was able to get a question posed to him by the moderator. It was “Without quoting from the Bible, give us an objective reason to believe that the Bible is the word of God rather than the Koran.” I restricted him from quoting the Bible because I knew that, if I didn’t, he would use the circular reasoning of quoting from the Bible by saying the Bible is the word of God because it says it is. His non-objective answer was that: they both can’t be the word of God, either the Koran is and the Bible is not, or the Bible is and the Koran is not, and he believed that the Bible is the word of God. He left out the fourth condition that neither is the word of God. Obfuscation at work.

However, the professor was not very effective in his counter arguments. He was too nice to the pastor in my opinion and I suspect that his frequent use of irony went over the heads of many in the audience.

What really bugged me was what happened after the debate. I helped man a table at the back of the room for a local group called the “Community of Reason.” We handed out our monthly schedule of meetings and several pamphlets criticizing the Bible and Christianity. Most people came by and picked up our material without comment.

One woman, however, dragging her pre-teens behind her wanted to tell us about Jesus, sin, and hell. (Incidentally, I was wearing my “Smile, there’s no hell” T-shirt.) She had one of those shit-eating Christian grins like the ones I’ve seen at nursing homes on the faces of those with advanced dementia. She had to tell us that Jesus loves us. (Of course she hates our guts.)

Please don’t label me as immoderate Christian hater. I believe that the vast majority of Christians are good people. It is the things that they support and do that I hate.

This woman is an exception to the average moderate Christian. She is an addict and a pusher. She is addicted to the Jesus, salvation drug. She needs constant fixes to keep her high. Her fixes consist of aggressive, mindless, irrational proselytizing. Why does she need these fixes? Because there is always that still, small voice in the back of her mind that says, “All that you believe about your God is bullshit.” She needs to continually drown out that voice. And by convincing others to join her delusional fantasy, she validates it by adding to her delusional crowd by intimidating people with her irrational rants. But, as long as there are a few people that say it is not so, she cannot silence the voice in her mind.

These people are incapable of reason or logic and their prognosis for recovery is very poor. I’ve learned from sad experience that it is a waste of my time to argue with them, so I quickly shook the dust off my feet and moved on. I feel sorry for her kids.

For other examples of delusional argument, look at the Christian trolls on this site. Thank you for reading my rant. Ex-Christian comments and/or criticisms will be appreciated.

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4/11/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Ben Stein: Front Man for Creationism's Manufactroversy

By Valerie Tarico

Biblical creationism, repositioned as creation science and most recently intelligent design has lost the contest of ideas on all counts: the rules, the criteria and the judging. It doesn't follow the scientific method; it doesn't allow us to explain, predict, and control better; and the jury of relevant experts (aka biologists) keeps returning the same verdict.

Now the creationists have taken a new approach that they hope will help them achieve their goal of teaching religious beliefs in our schools as science. That approach can be summed up in one simple word: whining.

One week from today, the new movie, Expelled, attempts to turn creationist complaints into mainstream media. Featuring Ben Stein, one of the conservative right's biggest whiners, the film makes several plaintive appeals: There's a conspiracy among big government and big science, and it's not fair! All we ask is for our perspective to get equal time! (Read: we lost, so let's split the prize.) All we want is for teachers to "teach the controversy"! This is all about academic freedom. Americans like freedom, right?

The whiners actually have spent millions of dollars on the movie, and even more on the marketing of it. You have to give them credit: by bundling Creationism with freedom, they have created a sophisticated strategy. Of course, Americans like freedom! More importantly, both democracy and scientific progress depend on intellectual freedom -- the freedom to ask questions and, unencumbered by ideology, to follow the answers where they lead. After centuries of heresy trials and book burnings, for biblical creationists to position themselves as the champions of academic freedom is a brilliant Orwellian move.

University of Washington professor, Leah Ceccarelli has pointed out that their "teach the controversy" strategy depends on a very specific sleight of hand: blurring the difference between scientific controversy and manufactured controversy or Manufactroversy.

You can say you first heard it here, well, if you haven't heard it already on MySpace or Facebook: Manufactroversy -- a made up word for a made up controversy. There's even a new website, Manufactroversy.NewsLadder.net that aggregates articles and blog posts about this manufactroversy and some other pretty famous ones as well.
Scientific controversy exists only when the jury of relevant experts is out on whether a new finding meets the standard of evidence. The debate and evidence gathering still are in process. A manufactroversy is when someone motivated by profit or ideology fosters confusion in the public mind long after scientists have moved on to the next set of questions. Think tobacco and lung cancer. Think Exxon and global warming. Now think Ben Stein and evolution.

The fact is, there is no scientific controversy about evolution, just like there is no scientific controversy about whether tobacco causes lung cancer or whether human activity causes global warming. However, in all three examples, someone powerful and well established loses out when and if the scientific mountain of evidence becomes common knowledge and widely accepted.

The tobacco industry in the 1960's wasn't anxious to part with its profits just like the oil companies of the 1990's had no desire to walk away from theirs. So they manufactured controversies, paying scientists to publish papers they knew would distort the issue.

In the case of creationism, the a vast preponderance of evidence, conflicts with traditional mythos. What possible explanation but that the scientists are colluding, corrupt, and biased. But, of course, they're not. The proponents of intelligent design can't gain credibility among hard scientists because their evidence is pathetic. So what do they do? Follow in the footsteps of the tobacco and oil companies and spend millions in an effort to create public doubt. They plea for their side to be told, they imagine vast conspiracies and they cry out for fair play, but the reality is much simpler.

The mountain of evidence supporting mainstream biological science is overwhelming. The paltry evidence for "insurmountable gaps" and "irreducible complexity" is actually shrinking. Evolution should be taught as science and creationism, in its many guises, as religion, including the rich pre-scientific stories about origins from many cultures and traditions. So why not just ignore the whiners and hope they will go away? Because they won't until we force them to stop their marketing of religious beliefs as science. We're still fighting the tobacco industry to this day. Oil companies still fund global warming deniers.

Besides, how long has it been since the famous Scopes trial? How long have creationists been talking about "Darwinism" as if no one but Darwin had noticed the fossil record or the DNA code in the last 100 years? It does get tiresome, responding to their ever evolving anti-evolutionary rhetoric. But we need to expose the bizarre supernaturalist agenda behind all the sudden whining about academic freedom. And somebody needs to gently remind Stein and his creationist cronies that they haven't been expelled from school, they flunked.

www.ValerieTarico.com
www.spaces.live.com/awaypoint

Cross posted by request from The Huffington Post

4/06/2008                                                                                       View Comments

The Apocalypse of Peter



Clement of Alexandria considered the Apocalypse of Peter to be holy scripture.

Why I am not a Christian

By Richard Carrier

The Evidence is Inadequate

(One) reason I am not a Christian is the sheer lack of evidence. Right from the start, Christians can offer no evidence for their most important claim, that faith in Jesus Christ procures eternal life. Christians can't point to a single proven case of this prediction coming true. They cannot show a single believer in Jesus actually enjoying eternal life, nor can they demonstrate the probability of such a fortunate outcome arising from any choice we make today. Even if they could prove God exists and created the universe, it still would not follow that belief in Jesus saves us. Even if they could prove Jesus performed miracles, claimed to speak for God, and rose from the dead, it still would not follow that belief in Jesus saves us.

Therefore, such a claim must itself be proven. Christians have yet to do that. We simply have no evidence that any believer ever has or ever will enjoy eternal life, or even that any unbeliever won't. And most Christians agree. As many a good Christian will tell you, only God knows who will receive his grace. So the Christian cannot claim to know whether it's true that "faith in Christ procures eternal life." They have to admit there is no guarantee a believer will be saved, or that an unbeliever won't. God will do whatever he wants. And no one really knows what that is. At best, they propose that faith in Christ will "up your chances," but they have no evidence of even that.

Now, this could change. It is theoretically possible to build a strong circumstantial case that God exists, that he has the means to grant us eternal life, that he never lies, and that he actually did promise to save us if we pledge allegiance to the right holy minion. But that's a lot of extraordinary claims to prove, requiring a lot of extraordinary evidence. Christians simply don't come close to proving them. Of course, Christianity could be reduced to a trivial tautology like "Christ is just an idea, whatever idea brings humankind closer to paradise," but that is certainly not what C.S. Lewis would have accepted, nor is it what most Christians mean today. When we stick with what Christianity usually means, there is simply not enough evidence to support believing it. This holds for the more generic elements of the theory (like the existence of God and the supernatural), as well as the very specific elements (like the divinity and resurrection of Jesus). We shall treat these in order, after digressing on some essential points regarding method.

This is just an excerpt from Carrier's excellent essay, "Why I am not a Christian ©2006." For the entire text, CLICK HERE.

4/01/2008                                                                                       View Comments

April Fools!

By Doc Mike

Many of the stories in the are so preposterous, even a child should see through the bullshit. But thousands of years later, fools continue to believe. When will the insanity end?

Happy , everyone!