Someone’s priorities are really skewed.

This asshole happened:

 “This Ebola epidemic could become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague,” said broadcaster Rick Wiles on his “Trunews” program.

“It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming,” Wiles continued. “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and abortion.”

Someone is really, really eager for a new plague to come along and punish America for its overly accepting, pleasure-seeking, independence-oriented ways.

I don’t think it’s any accident that all the “problems” Mr. Wiles listed either pertain to enjoying sex, or refuse to put money in the church offering plate.

Of all the horrible shit that’s going on in our country, and of all the destruction we’ve wrought elsewhere in the world, there are plenty of people, like Mr. Wiles, who think the real problems are, respectively: not being Christian, fucking people of the same gender, fucking lots of people in a given stretch of time, watching other people fuck, and fucking while refusing to accept uncontrolled fertility.

We drove a wrecking ball through Afghanistan, we’ve jackhammered Iraq, we’ve failed to clean up our messes in both of those countries, we continue to enable the Israel/Palestine conflict, we waste absurd amounts of money and human productivity on punishing people for non-violent drug offenses, and we keep millions of families in poverty. Our entire nation owes its existence to genocide and slavery.

Enjoying sex and not apologizing, though? Now THAT is where this guy’s God is putting the smackdown on us.

Most people, including the vast majority of American Christians, tend to think that Wiles’s laundry list of sins ranges from “not a problem in the least” to “less of a problem than people dying of Ebola.”

And yet, there are still people who keep guys like this in business. Many of them do a lot of the same things that are supposedly bringing God’s wrath on us, but they feel bad about it, and that makes all the difference.

It happens in my neighborhood, too.

The character who planted a sign reading JESUS RETURNS MAY 21ST at a street corner on my bus ride is going to feel all disappointed by Monday. And yet I suspect the sign will still be there. Look, folks; there’ll be nothing to lose by holding on to your day jobs until next week, is all I’m saying.

Meanwhile, I will be celebrating Rapture Day by spending a day in downtown DC, that bastion of cosmopolitan coastal elitism, in the company of a raving horde of fellow heathens including PZ Myers.

And in the hours between the luncheon at some coastal elitist Mediterranean restaurant and the speaking event at the smugly cosmopolitan American University, I will be sitting my arrogantly shrill and strident atheist butt at some hoity-toity Starbucks and continuing with revising my pointy-head intellectual elitist novel according to the instructions of my equally arrogant editor.

Further thoughts on yaoi

Now that I’ve slept on it a bit, I have some more articulate, less brash thoughts on why this Courtyard of the Gentiles idea kicks my last nerve.

There is a germ of a good idea in there. It is absolutely not wrong of the Catholic Church to create a forum for debate over their religion. They don’t actually see it as a forum for debate so much as an opportunity to proselytize, but the fact that they’re giving atheists a seat at the table has the potential to be a very brave move on the RCC’s part. As Greta Christina has said, and as I have parroted before, “Can’t we just have a conversation?” The Pontifical Council for Culture’s allowing the godless into the ring is, if nothing else, the beginning of a conversation. That is a good thing. Perhaps religion’s greatest trick was to convince everyone that it was exempt from open debate, that it is entitled to bring its wares to the market in an armored truck and sell them from behind a curtain. The fact that one major world religion is up to creating a forum for discussion with people who believe in one less god than they do is a sign that they are prepared to install windows in the armored truck and let some people in under the curtain.

The part that offends me is not even really that the Council intends the Courtyard as an opportunity to tell atheists that God loves them and it’s not too late to be Saved; of course that’s what they want to do with this. Everyone knows the side which dictates the terms of the debate has a better chance of winning, and it’s perfectly natural to want to enter the debate under terms that are favorable to your side. I don’t blame the Council for trying to stack the deck in their favor. They’d be foolish if they didn’t. The fact that their organization is the one hosting the encounter and discussion means they have room to control the conversation.

The problem is they’re not only trying to stack the deck, but they’re so freaking transparent about it. Couldn’t they at least try to be subtle about their pathetic attempt to make their side look intellectually superior in every way?

They don’t want guys like Hitchens and Dawkins (and by extension, neither are they open to Harris, Dennett, Grayling, Stenger et.al.) because they know perfectly well that every time the Horsemen go up against religious apologists in debate, the religious side gets humiliated and the atheists don’t even have to exert themselves. They’re willing to give atheists a seat at the table, but only atheists who read Scripture the way the Church wants them to, and who promise to lay off the irony and sarcasm. In fact, they’re not even challenging the godless movement to come up with other voices to represent its ideas in the public square—there’s nothing wrong with asking to see some fresh faces, rather than another round with the same clutch of native Anglophone white guys with advanced degrees that everyone knows already—but they don’t want fresh faces, they expect the godless to send a defenseless novice in for a bloodbath, and for some reason they think it’s perfectly natural that they solicit debate partners in such terms.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, to be so pathetically transparent in their desperate bid for superiority, is either incredibly stupid, or they think atheists are incredibly stupid, but either way, it’s an insult to our intelligence. There will be godless debaters who will happily submit themselves for encounter and discussion in the search for truth, but they will not be meek and biddable like the RCC expects its atheists visitors to be. The evil, vicious New Atheists see what’s going on, and they will not let it go so easily.

“Pseudo-doctrine”?

The Vatican poo-poos Avatar on theological grounds:

L’Osservatore said the film “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature.” Similarly, Vatican Radio said it “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”

The criticism is not that the film is overly religious or insufficiently religious, but that it’s not the right religion. It is a critique that presupposes an agreed-upon definition of religion as worshipping God–their God, specifically–and never something frivolous and pagan like nature. It assumes that ecology could not possibly be the basis of a valid religion, and everyone already knows that. The Vatican is behaving as though it is uniquely qualified to decide what is a valid doctrine (theirs) and what is a pseudo-doctrine.

Granted, that’s totally their business. It’s just a movie review, and they can say whatever the fuck they want about Avatar or any other movie. I haven’t seen Avatar and I probably won’t see it. If I’m surprised at anything, it’s that a movie about blue aliens (and which has so far received very lukewarm reviews) is important enough to warrant a theological opinion from Vatican officials. It still raises the question: what exactly is it that makes a religion? Who gets to decide?

I demand you return those goalposts at once!

PZ Myers continues to field creationists’ demands for debate with scientists:

Carl Wieland, the creationist clown from Australia, wrote a bitter article denouncing atheists and scientists for refusing to give him a platform to yodel nonsense on, and one of the things he did was link to my my public refusal to debate him. Unfortunately, what that meant is that all of his Too-Stupid-To-Know-They’re-Stupid acolytes came charging over to declare that creationism was too scientific, evolutionism is a religion, scientists are afraid to debate their pet idiots, you’re all mean poopyheads who call us names, yadda yadda yadda. It’s turned into a regular storm of argument that has filled up the thread with over 1100 comments.

I don’t have much to add to the discussion of whether scientists should debate creationists. I’m just going to indulge in a tangent off Prof. Myers’s paraphrasing of creationist assertions that creationism is too scientific and that evolutionism is a religion.

Specifically, I want to talk about the claim of evolutionary theory as religion.

My question–and I’ve been wondering about this for some time–is, what is that supposed to mean, “evolutionism is a religion”? Is religion supposed to be a good thing, or is it not?

Why is it that “religion” means a belief or idea is sacred, moral and exempt from criticism, if it involves going to a place called a church (or any recognized house of worship) to worship God, but, when the “religion” in question takes place in a laboratory and examines evidence, then “religion” means it has no truth value and can be dismissed without evidence?

Why is it that we’re horrible, shrill, strident, intolerant people for examining the religion of a person who believes the Earth is roughly 6,000 years old, but evolutionary theory (or biology, or science in general) is “just a religion” as if it’s no more valid than anyone else’s opinion?

In fact, here’s another question that’s been bugging me for some time now:

Continue reading

Brit Hume is a dumbass

Everyone’s jumping all over him, so I know I’m late to the party, but he’s still such a juicy target!

The Political Animal reports:

“The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith,” Hume said. “He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger is, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

 “Forgiveness and redemption,” hmm?

What he’s basically saying is that Jesus will redeem and forgive Tiger so that he can keep on catting around like he’s been doing and simultaneously feel like a better person than the rest of us. Need I even mention John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Larry Craig, Ted Haggard and all the other jackasses hiding behind the cross while humiliating their families?