The latest Minute Maniac has our x-tian zealot talking about how his skydaddy loves trucks! Unfortunately, the Maniac’s love of trucks is far more important than everything else in his life. Including common sense. But, what can you expect from blind faith? Uh… nothing? Yep.
Archive for March, 2011
(Editorial Comment from host RJ Evans on his American Heathen® radio show – Air Date 03/25/11)
I was reading an article at CNN Money on-line the other day. The headline read “Sales of luxury doomsday bunkers up 1,000%” Apparently recent earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear plant melt downs, unrest in the Middle East, crashing economies, and vitriolic political and social rhetoric have boosted sales of these underground escape pods. It seems that the business of doomsday is doing well in a world where the insanity of doom and gloom thrives with every button click.
There’s been so much talk about the end of the world lately. However, there’s always been a sort of ebb and flow when it comes to this malaise. But, I don’t think folks really understand that. And in today’s world, there are a lot of spoiled little brats that think that they can survive such an event and live no differently than they did before the calamity. All the trappings of the lives they live now would most certainly not exist in a post-apocalyptic world. Going out to dinner, seeing a newly released movie (you wouldn’t be driving a car… where would you get the gas?) reading, listening, or viewing the news on TV? Nope. But, one only needs to look closely at the message being broadcast and the doomsayers that perpetuate it. They are in a class all to themselves. They don’t care about reality. All they care about are being doomsday dummies. And, who are the doomsday dummies? They are the mainstream media and the clergy.
Doomsday, the end of the world, the Apocalypse, Judgment Day, the Last Days… all phrases that conjure up dark images of death, destruction, turmoil, dread. These words and messages are being pummeled into the national psyche at an astounding rate, and they are brought to you courtesy of the doomsday dummies. Mainstream media and religious zealots of the worst caliber. The mainstream media, following a strict code of sensationalism at the lowest cost, does its best to maximize revenue by popping the big top on the most outrageous circus of useless information, and trumping it up to make it more palatable to mindless throngs of consumers. Hey, controversy creates cash! Not to be left out, the clergy, masters of doomsday rhetoric, massage their crystal balls, turning them blue in anticipation of a massive end times ejaculation that will drown the masses in jesus jizz. They want to be the first to take the collective conscious’ cherry, and are willing to slip their ignorant dates a mickey to ensure the success of their date with rape. It’s enough to shake the very foundations of humanity, sending it reeling into the abyss of a “War of the Worlds” panic, the likes of which has never been seen in the history of the planet.
Not to be left out of course, the average consumer of the doomsday dummy prophecy slop fest is actually devouring it. Every last mushy, sloppy, stinky bite of it. Of course, with the attention span of a flea and the intellectual curiosity of a fence post, the doomsday piglets wade through their own shit, swarm the trough, gorging themselves, bathing themselves in the slop of sensationalism and prophecy. The fat and happy little pigs are pink with joy. And why not? They are ignorant of the results of their feeding frenzy. They have no clue as to what the end game of the doomsday dummies plans are. They don’t know that they’ll be shipped off to market for slaughter once they’ve been fattened up. And, the slaughter-house is waiting just around the corner.
Self-fulfilling prophecy. It means making a prediction and then doing whatever it takes to make the event happen. Wall street brokers do it all the time. They manipulate the market, push it in the direction they want it to go, then reap the profits. Religious prophets do the same thing. Make a prediction, then push and shove, force the issues until the desired results are achieved. Of course, it’s to their advantage to use naturally occurring phenomena, events that are guaranteed to happen, as a basis for their message. Why not? It’s a guaranteed homer through pure chance! Just say, “There will be earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes…” Anyway, religion has played the game for thousands of years. But, until the arrival of the technological information age, the results of doomsday prophecy have been less than lackluster. Now, with the technological tools to spread their slop far and wide, and at a moments notice, the champion of doomsday dummies actually has a real opportunity to profit from their prophecy’s. For them, the check isn’t in the mail, it’s about to be deposited. And, the future of a species could hang in the balance.
Doomsday dummies will continue to receive an inordinate amount of attention. Their spectacular prophecies guarantee profits for both they and the media. But, the piglets at the trough need to wise up. If not, by the time they round the corner at the slaughter-house, it will be too late. Unfortunately, the rest of us will be trapped in the truck with them. And, quite frankly, I don’t think any of us wants to find ourselves dangling from a meat hook because doomsday dummies like to hang their prophecies on the human equivalents of fence posts. But, that may be where we’re headed. Why? That’s easy. Just take a look at who’s driving the slaughterhouse truck? Jesus. And the really scary part? The doomsday dummies swear he loves his little piglets, all the while sharpening their knives for the doomsday dummy sacrifice.
(The following commentary is part of a weekly series called “Reflections” by John Mill. John is a noted free thought advocate and broadcaster. His series airs on my American Heathen® internet radio show. Air date of this particular segment: 03/25/11)
The Japanese have suffered the worst earthquake ever experienced in their country – and they’ve known quite a few. It was followed by a 30-foot tsunami which has swept away many of their lives and much property. It left damaged and leaking nuclear reactors that now threaten the Japanese with radiation. Japanese babies can’t get radiation-free water.
This is John Mill and if you think the Japanese are having a bad time, don’t relax: religion’s mean machine is piling on the invective and vituperation. Whatever the Japanese have suffered, the godly tell us, they brought upon themselves. For it is written: it’s the judgment of God. What can be done?
“There are no coincidences with God,” writes WordWeaver. “He has a reason for everything that He does, or everything that He allows to happen. Thus, I am convinced that these events were an Act of God which were wrought by the Hand of God. While it may be politically-incorrect to say so… I can’t help but believe that God has allowed His wrath to be felt by the people of Japan in a very big way. Perhaps these events are meant to break their proud hearts, so that they will humbly come to Christ and acknowledge Him as their Lord and Savior.”
Not to be outdone in blaming the victims, including the children, the website WordOfGod writes with biblical fury,
“You Japan are idolatry. You worship Buddha instead of Me – Creator of the Universe, Creator of heaven and earth and everything in it. You are proud of yourself – You are rich and you can do whatever you want! So you have become the, most idolatrous country on earth. You are blind and deaf that you don’t know I am the Sovereign God, the source of everything. Without Me, you are nothing and can do nothing but die!”
Perhaps the doom-blamers and sin-mongers should coordinate their assignments of culpability. The janmeador blog:
“Contrary to what so many believe, Yahweh – Almighty God IS in control. I want to share with you what I feel is very significant concerning the dates of these recent events and the possible “why” they took place. I am not the nation of Japan’s judge. God is. I am only pointing out documented facts that correlate exactly with the timing. … [March 11, 2010,] The Government of Japan deplores the decisions of the Government of Israel to give permission for the construction of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem in addition to 112 units in West Bank… That’s some pretty strong language – language imposed against God’s people and God’s land.
Even some Japanese right-wingers couldn’t resist flogging the flood: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a 79-year-old novelist, stage and screen actor and champion of the Japanese political right, called the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan tembatsu – or “divine judgment on the wicked.”
Always on the lookout for a way to accelerate our fears, Fox News, reports a poll by Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Survey, saying nearly 4 in 10 Americans Say Natural Disasters Sign from God.
The Catholic reaction?
“God is all-powerful and all good. … Sometimes, in order to bring us back to Him, God allows us to experience terrible things. The world, in this case, is being shown the consequences of our sins. We should not judge the Japanese and say that they are somehow more guilty than we are… When things like this happen, it is a call to repentance and to acknowledge God’s greatness….”
There isn’t a global consensus that the late troubles in Japan are God’s judgment for irreligion: The Chinese see this as retribution for atrocities the Japanese perpetrated on them during WW2!
Throughout the history of religions, natural disasters were known as flagella dei, the scourges of God, sent to “awaken and affright” a sinful humanity to repentance. The biblical Book of Luke says, “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from Heaven.” In 1580, under Queen Elizabeth, there was set forth an “order of prayer to avert God’s wrath from us, threatened by the late terrible earthquake…”
But that was then: Humanity was ignorant of the causes of natural disasters. Now we can explain natural disasters, with science. Now we use reason and logic to temper our desire to see the Almighty Finger pointing at humankind in every “Wind, Famine, Plague, and Death of Kings, War, Earthquake, Flood, and Direful Change.” What can be done about doomsayers? Well, I would ask each arrogant priest and prophet, “Isn’t it time to shut your sadistic, disaster-delighting, vituperative, blame-laying, Bible-thumping, Koran-clanging, Torah-touting, doom-shouting, anti-intellectual, ignorant pie hole?”
This is John Mill.
(The following is a transcript of a LIVE broadcast by John Mill. John is a noted free thought advocate and broadcaster. “This Week In Freethought” airs on my American Heathen® internet radio show. Air date of this particular segment: 03/25/11)
Week of March 19th – 25th
Here’s your Week in Freethought History: This is more than just a calendar of events or mini-biographies – it’s an affirmation that we as freethinkers are neither unique nor alone in the world, no matter how isolated and alone we may feel at times.
1. It was 190 years ago last Saturday, March 19, that English explorer and part-time spy, Sir Richard Francis Burton was born (1821). Burton studied Arabic at Oxford, then joined the military in 1842. He traveled to India, and other posts, where he learned Hindustani, Persian, Sindi and Punjabi. He also began a long career as a spy. In 1852, Burton posed as a pilgrim and journeyed to Mecca. He was accepted without question, in part because in preparation for the journey he studied Islam and had himself circumcised! With John Hanning Speke he traveled twice to Africa and discovered the source of the Nile, an ages-old mystery. This adventure was dramatized in the 1990 film Mountains of the Moon. At one time Burton said, “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.” He either believed all religions or none of them. He did not believe in a future life.
2. It was 183 years ago last Sunday, March 20, that Norwegian poet and playwright Henrik Ibsen was born (1828). He studied medicine and worked for a time as a chemist’s assistant before turning to the theater in the early 1850s. Ibsen left Norway in 1863, living and writing in Italy and Germany for the next 27 years. He is chiefly remembered for his plays: A Doll’s House, An Enemy of the People, and Hedda Gabler, and his collaboration with composer Edvard Grieg on Peer Gynt. Ibsen had pretty much abandoned formal religion by the time he was 20, and began writing poems advocating revolution. In an 1871 letter to dramatist Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Ibsen said. “Bigger things than the state will fall … all religion will fall.”
3. Last Monday remembers two famous Freethinkers:
It was 243 years ago last Monday, March 21, that French mathematician and physicist Jean Bapiste Joseph Fourier was born (1768). Orphaned at age eight, Fourier was educated by priests, but abandoned Christianity. He took a prominent part in the French Revolution, and rose to great importance under Napoleon. He is best known for the Fourier transformation and Fourier’s Law, dubbed “Fourier’s great mathematical poem” by Lord Kelvin. After the fall of Napoleon, the Roman Catholic Church, with whom Fourier was never reconciled, saw to his persecution. But clerical opposition was not enough to prevent his appointment to the French Academy of Sciences in 1822. It was Baron Joseph Fourier who wrote, “Mathematical Analysis is as extensive as nature herself.”
It was 205 years ago last Monday, March 21, that Mexican lawyer and politician Benito Juárez was born (1806). Orphaned at age 3, he was taken under the wing of a lay Franciscan, who was impressed with young Benito’s intelligence and thirst for learning. He studied at seminary for a time, but after graduating in 1827, he declined the priesthood and took a law degree. Juárez was a major figure in the Mexican Reform War of 1858-61. Elected Mexico’s first full-blooded Indian President, Juárez used liberal efforts to modernize the country. He curtailed the privileges and checked the corruption of the Catholic Church, abolishing special military preferences, and declared all citizens equal before the law. It was the atheist Benito Juárez who said, “Among individuals, as among nations, peace is the respect of others’ rights” (“Entre los Individuos, como entre Las Naciones, El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz”).
4. It was 86 years ago last Tuesday, March 22, that Tennessee passed the Butler Act (1925), making it unlawful in public schools “to teach any theory that denies the story of divine creation as taught by the Bible.” And it was in the town of Dayton, Tennessee — population 1,800 and falling — where a high school teacher named John T. Scopes ran afoul of that law by relying on science in his biology class, rather than the Bible. The Tennessee law was part of a national legislative campaign fathered by three-time losing presidential contender William Jennings Bryan. Although the conflict usually turns out badly for religion, and well for science, it continues to this day. As of the first few months of 2011, nine bills promoting creationism in public schools have been introduced in state legislatures – including Texas, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Missouri – and some even have a chance of succeeding… in making America a second-class nation in science! But the modern assault on evolutionary theory in America pretty much started in the Tennessee legislature on this date, March 22, back in 1925.
5. It was 236 years ago last Wednesday, March 23, that American Revolutionary War patriot Patrick Henry (1775) spoke these immortal words at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” At least, this is what we remember from school and what our children are taught. But is it true? Patrick Henry (1736-1799) delivered some motivational speech on this date, but no trace of it remains in Henry’s writings and no witness to the event wrote a transcript, or even any notes. The text of this speech first appeared in print in The Life and Character of Patrick Henry, published in 1816 by William Wirt, a Maryland-born lawyer, seventeen years after Henry’s death, and over 41 years after the speech was delivered. Wirt claimed to have interviewed attendees and polled their recollections, basing his text heavily on the recollection of Bermuda-born Judge St. George Tucker. However, it is more reasonable to conclude that the “Liberty or Death” speech was in fact invented by the biographer. The Wirt biography was considered a fiction by none other than Thomas Jefferson. Patrick Henry’s place in American history as a patriot and revolutionist is assured, even if his true religious feelings remain an enigma, or at least a point of debate. But the “Liberty or Death” speech is neither evidence of the Christian origins of this nation, nor evidence of the religion of an American patriot.
6. It was 137 years ago yesterday, March 24, that American magician and escape artist Harry Houdini was born (1874). Early in his storied career, Houdini met Beatrice Rahner, a Catholic girl, and married her — three times — Catholic, Jewish and secular, just to be sure! Though many believed it, Houdini stoutly denied he had supernatural powers. Houdini struck up an unlikely friendship with Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This was dramatized in the 1997 film, Fairy Tale: a True Story: even there, Houdini’s skepticism was apparent. Doyle was a devout believer in Spiritualism and his wife was a medium. At a séance, in which Mrs. Doyle used “automatic writing” to reach the spirit world, Houdini’s lately deceased, orthodox Jewish mother apparently made the sign of the cross and wrote an effusive message to Houdini, in English, a language she never understood while alive! Houdini had the desire to believe, but the facts kept getting in his way. He crusaded for 13 years against phony spirit mediums. As their friendship inevitably deteriorated, Houdini wrote to Doyle, “I know you treat this as a religion, but personally I cannot do so, for, up to the present time, and with all my experiences, I have never seen or heard anything that could really convert me.”
7. Finally, it was 200 years ago today, March 25, that Oxford University student Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled for publishing the pamphlet “The Necessity of Atheism.” (1811). The unsigned pamphlet earned Shelley an interview before the College’s fellows and they demanded that he deny authorship. This Shelley refused to do. Thinking him too dangerous to pursue truth at a university, the administration at Oxford expelled Shelley. What was so dangerous about “The Necessity of Atheism”? In it, Shelley made a number of claims. One, about which today there should be no argument, is that beliefs are involuntary, and, therefore, since atheists cannot choose to be “without god,” they should not be persecuted. Shelley perhaps anticipated what we today call the “God of the Gaps” when he wrote, “If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature is made for their destruction.” So unchastened was Shelley by his Oxford expulsion, that he published a revised and expanded version of his tract in 1813. All this seems not to have injured in the slightest Shelley’s later literary success. Although underappreciated in his time, on account of his political and religious beliefs, Shelley’s talent and idealism leave him remembered today as one of the finest lyric poets in the English language. “The Necessity of Atheism,” when you can find it in print, is remembered today as a classic of Freethought.
We can look back, but the Golden Age of Freethought is now. You can find full versions of these pages in Freethought history at the links in the American Heathen blog, which take you to my blog, FreethoughtAlmanac.com.
This week marked the 86th anniversary of the Butler Act, which in Tennessee criminalized the teaching of evolution or any other principle that “denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible” . The Act was named after State Rep. John W. Butler, head of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association, who lobbied state legislatures to pass anti-evolution laws. This law resulted in one of the most famous legal proceedings of the 20th century — the “Scopes Monkey Trial”. A biology teacher John Scopes taught evolution in contravention of the law and was subjected to trial. .Scopes was convicted, but the case was reversed on Appeal and Scopes was not tried again, as public opinion and eventually Supreme Court precedent cut the head off the fundamentalist/creationist snake.
But, Fundamentalism/creationism is no one-headed snake. Rather, it is a multi-headed Hydra that, despite Supreme Court Precedent, that despite rebuff after rebuff by virtually the entire CREDIBLE scientific community, continues to rear its ugly heads looking to inject its venom of darkness and tyranny into the minds of man.
I spoke last week of an Arkansas Legislator, Denny Altes,who was trying to foist the “Bible” into school curriculum.
Not to be out done, legislators in Tennessee, in ignorance of or in bold arrogance against their State’s own unsavory past, recently proposed an anti-evolution bill. Characterizing the scientific theory of evolution as “controversial,” the bill (H.B. 368) purports to give public school teachers freedom to help students think critically about such so-called scientific controversies by “reviewing their strengths and weaknesses”. Actually, the proponents of the bill hope teachers will discuss recycled claims — universally rejected by scientists — that have been made for years by creationism and intelligent design advocates.
In Florida, State Sen. Stephen Wise, a proponent of a “creationism” bill, said he hoped that it would permit public school teachers to present “intelligent design” alongside evolution lessons: “If you’re going to teach evolution, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking.”
Texas is considering a Bill that would permit students and faculty to do “research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.”
Do these cretins live in a time warp?
In Epperson v Arkansas, (393 U.S. 97, 1968 ) an anti-evolution case, the US Supreme Court ruled, “In the present case, there can be no doubt that Arkansas has sought to prevent its teachers from discussing the theory of evolution because it is contrary to the belief of some that the Book of Genesis must be the exclusive source of doctrine as to the origin of man. No suggestion has been made that Arkansas’ law may be justified by considerations of state policy other than the religious views of some of its citizens. It is clear that fundamentalist sectarian conviction was and is the law’s reason for existence… Plainly, the law is contrary to the mandate of the First, and in violation of the Fourteenth, Amendment to the Constitution.”
In 1982, in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, it was held that a “balanced treatment” statute violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Arkansas statute required public schools to give balanced treatment to “creation-science” and “evolution-science.” In a decision that gave a detailed definition of the term “science,” the court declared that “creation science” is not in fact a science. The court also found that the statute did not have a secular purpose, noting that the statute used language peculiar to creationist literature in emphasizing origins of life as an aspect of the theory of evolution. . ( McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F. Supp. 1255, 50 (1982).
In 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the U.S. Supreme Court held the Louisiana’s “Creationism Act,” unconstitutional. This statute prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools, except when it was accompanied by instruction in “creation science.” The Court found that, by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind, which is embraced by the term creation science, the act impermissibly endorses religion. .( Edwards v. Aguillard, 482, U.S. 578, 55 (1987).
In 2005 in Kitzmiller v Dover (400 F. Supp. 2d 707,2005, Docket no. 4cv2688), where “creationism” was recast as “intelligent design”, Federal Judge John Jones, a Republican and a churchgoer, decried the “breathtaking inanity” of the Dover policy and accused several board members of lying to conceal their true motive, which he said was to promote religion. The trial yielded “overwhelming evidence” establishing that intelligent design “is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory,” said Jones, “Importantly, the objective observer, whether adult or child, would conclude from the fact that (what is) posit(ed) (is)that the intelligent designer is God.”
Hey, fundamentalists~~~ whether you call it “creationism”, “intelligent design”, “balanced approach”, “teach the controversy’”or whatever,~~~Let me “teach ” you a southern colloquialism, “them dogs don’t hunt!”
“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
The Minute Maniac is at it again! This time he waxes poetic about his favorite channel, FOX News!
(Editorial Comment from host RJ Evans on his American Heathen® radio show – Air Date 03/18/11)
Most of us have heard the story of David and Goliath. It’s a classic tale of a battle between David, a representative of the god of Israel, against a representative of paganism, the Philistine warrior by the name of Goliath of Gath. The little guy versus the big guy. Christianity has, of course, twisted this classic to better fit its meme of the Church against Satan. But, at its core, it is a simple story. The little guy against the big guy. And, according to this legend, the little guy prevails.
I’ve always liked this story. In fact, it is the very notion of victory over bullies, fearlessness over overwhelming odds, that has always inspired me. But, what I’ve never forgotten, and many folks don’t really think about, is the fact that victory over the big guy, can and most often, leads to the little guy eventually becoming the big guy. It seems that no matter how small you are, after your victory has been realized, you run the risk of becoming too big for your own britches. Eventually, if you don’t check yourself, a David will emerge to set you straight.
Tonight I want to talk about a story of David versus Goliath. And, it’s a personal story, one that has been taking shape for 5 years. It’s the story of this show, American Heathen®. Think of this show as David. One of thousands, maybe even millions of Davids throughout the history of humanity. But, unlike the David of religious lore, this David doesn’t fight for dogma or for the favor of superstition. This David fights for something real, tangible, unyielding. He fights for all of humanity and the ideals of freedom and liberty. And Goliath? Well, once a David among many during his time, a time thousands of years ago when knowledge, reason and logic were at a premium, christianity fought for an ideal that best represented the primitive nature of the species in those periods. Now, after thousands of years of unchecked growth, and unregulated by time, knowledge gained, science, logic and reason, christianity…all religions…have become too big for their britches. Superstition has become the bully, the new Goliath.
Our story begins as many David and Goliath stories begin. Under the thumb of tyranny. This David demands freedom and liberty for the people, all people. But, unlike the story of old, this David makes his demands without threat of violence. He simply says that he will never go away, and that persistence will become infectious and spread like the most hearty of beneficial viruses. There’s no threat of hell fire and brimstone in the message. No. This David makes his demands without surrendering reality and reason. He also makes his demands, fully aware that if victorious the success cannot not be left unchecked for excessive growth and power. Indeed, this David does not favor the continuation of David and Goliath stories. No. This David truly longs for an end to David and Goliath stories, an end to the struggles for freedom. But, David is also very pragmatic and realistic. He knows that he must be rational and reasoned, that he must keep in mind that the greatest dangers to success are not only utopian dreams, but also allowing fear to overwhelm. This David knows he must stand firm on a solid footing, facing forward, and on guard at all times.
This David does not represent himself. He represents something larger, more important. He also knows that he is not appointed by the people. He merely understands that there are few willing to take the risk. Because he is without fear or reservation, is not reckless with ego, cares deeply for principle, and is loyal not to ignorance or dogma but to those whom he shares life… he volunteers. He steps forward, knowing full well he could be crushed by the mammoth power of the one they call Goliath. But, he also knows that if the people see his effort, and know his heart, they will eventually stand with him.
Goliath looms large, formidable, and anchored. Time has given Goliath opportunity to grow to enormous size. But, Goliath is vulnerable. David knows this and is certain. The vulnerability? Goliath cannot move. He must remain still. The ground that surrounds Goliath is very soft, saturated by the rains of reason. The ground underneath Goliath is also weak as the flow of the water has slowly undermined the firmament beneath his protective mass. David knows that if Goliath tries to move, he will start to sink. David also knows that time is not on Goliath’s side as the rain continues to saturate the ground and wick further and deeper into the sediment underneath him.
But how long? How long can Goliath stand still, static, unmoving? How long will it take before the ground underneath Goliath is incapable of bearing his massive weight? David knows that waiting is not an option. If given too much time the rain could stop, as it has many times throughout history, allowing the ground to dry just enough to continue supporting Goliath’s massive size. So, our David has a plan. Unlike others who have come before him and suffered crushing defeats… the tactitians who approached Goliath and tried to negotiate, or others who simply attacked head on… David is wise and seasoned. He has a masterful plan.
Can you guess what David’s plan is? Stay tuned. You’ll soon find out.
(The following commentary is part of a weekly series called “Reflections” by John Mill. John is a noted free thought advocate and broadcaster. His series airs on my American Heathen® internet radio show. Air date of this particular segment: 03/18/11)
Can you say kabuki? A week ago today, on Friday, March 11, a 9.0-magnitude megathrust earthquake shook the coast of Japan, off the east coast of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku near Sendai – triggering tsunami waves of up to 33 ft that struck Japan minutes after the quake, in some cases traveling up to 6 mi inland. A final count is not in, but to date there are 5,692 deaths and 9,522 people missing.
This is John Mill and I didn’t have to count more than four days before some cynical, religion-soaked bigot blamed the disaster on the victims themselves. That would be Malcolm McGregor III, of El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, who apparently has it directly from God himself.
Possibly the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan, ever, was a curse from God. “Japan had built tsunami walls along their coasts, but this tsunami was bigger than that. No matter what you say, they either weren’t blessed with protection or they were cursed with an earthquake,” McGregor said. “God did say, Christ did say that earthquakes would increase in the last days and that’s what we’re seeing.”
Do we really have time for this nonsense?
Real people, and mostly innocent, undeserving ones, are lost, injured or dead. Thousands are homeless. And this is the best some squirrel-brained bible-thumper can come up with? It’s kabuki, just like that stylized (and native Japanese) dance drama: disaster strikes, the victims happen not to be cripples for the Christ, so they are being punished. It’s an automatic response; it requires no thought; it calls for even less compassion. Talk to Rush Limbaugh.
Because the Fukushima Dai-ichi, or Fukushima Number 1 nuclear reactor, was flooded by the post-earthquake tsunami, knocking out emergency generators needed to run water pumps to cool and control the reactors, we saw another automated response. Although there has as yet been no breach, the reactor has released small amounts of very dangerous radiation. The kabuki-like reaction? The Chinese government is suspending approval of new atomic power plants. Other countries around the world are delaying or canceling plans for new reactors and considering shutting down some existing reactors.
Nuclear power is dangerous, right? Of course it is. Radiation persists for generations and infects everything for many years. But if the need for electric power in our modern society is a given, we must consider a cost-benefit of the alternatives. Coal, for example, the primary driver of manmade climate change, is the most carbon-dense of fossil fuels – and coal is responsible – from mine to dump – for acid rain, heavy metal pollution, and fly ash radiation
Yes, coal is worse: you see, the direct death toll from the worst nuclear accident in history, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, was less than 60. Still bad, but that’s it. The direct deaths from the even less serious radiation leaks from Fukushima Number 1 might be only a dozen. Direct deaths from coal mining: millions of times more people than nuclear power plants have killed so far.
There have to be safeguards with any energy source, of course: for nuclear power, secure waste disposal is one, and a true cost estimate from mine to dump, true cost estimates revealing who really pays, and assurance that – as in the case of Fukushima Number 1 – the reactors are not built on environmentally vulnerable or geologically unstable sites. But we have to be sensible about risk: so far, there is no zero-risk energy source that is both affordable and able to provide our planet’s energy needs.
We can do this kabuki. We’ve done it before. Just like explaining every natural disaster – from Hurricane Katrina to the Indian Ocean tsunami to the earthquake in Haiti to last Friday’s Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan – on not having the right skydaddy on your dance card. But should we? It makes just as much sense to assign blame irrationally, like the El Paso pea brain, as it does to calculate risk irrationally. That is, it makes none.
And do we really have time for this? I’m John Mill.
(The following is a transcript of a LIVE broadcast by John Mill. John is a noted free thought advocate and broadcaster. “This Week In Freethought” airs on my American Heathen® internet radio show. Air date of this particular segment: 03/18/11)
Week of March 12th – 18th
Here’s your Week in Freethought History: This is more than just a calendar of events or mini-biographies – it’s an affirmation that we as freethinkers are neither unique nor alone in the world, no matter how isolated and alone we may feel at times.
1. Last Saturday, March 12, was the birth of three famous Freethinkers—
Last Saturday, March 12, 130 years ago, was the birth of the future President of the (secular) Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881). He was born into a middle-class, Muslim, Turkish-speaking family. Atatürk led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. On 29 October 1923 Turkey became a Republic with Mustapha Kemal its first President. Atatürk instituted political, economic, and cultural reforms, aiming to transform a medieval Islamic backwater into a modern, westernized and secular nation-state. He paid particular attention to the liberation and education of women. Atatürk had great contempt for all religion, and tried to extinguish it, but the result was a compromise. It was the atheist Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who said, “Our true mentor in life is science.”
It was 148 years ago last Saturday, March 12, that Italian poet, journalist, novelist and dramatist Gabriele D’Annunzio was born (1863). His was a precocious talent and D’Annunzio and eventually became a leader of the Risorgimento or “rebirth” of Italian literature. It is significant that D’Annunzio defined the Risorgimento as “the worship of man.” He always expressed a profound contempt for the Roman Catholic Church, which returned the affection by putting all D’Annunzio’s work on the Index of Prohibited Books. The Pope specifically warned Catholics not to read D’Annunzio. It was Gabriele D’Annunzio who said, “Limit to courage? There is no limit to courage.”
It was 176 years ago last Saturday, March 12, that Canadian-American astronomer and mathematician Simon Newcomb was born (1835). Simon apprenticed to an herbalist, who claimed to cure diseases with herbs, but the bright youngster recognized his mentor’s unscientific approach as a hallmark of pseudoscience and broke off his apprenticeship with this charlatan. He was a Freethinker ever since and denied personal immortality. Just prior to the American Civil War, in 1861 Newcomb became a professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University and astronomer at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. While in America, Simon Newcomb never made any secret of his Freethought views.
2. It was 156 years ago last Sunday, March 13, that American businessman and astronomer Percival Lowell was born (1855), the brother of the poet Amy Lowell. As a businessman, by the time he was 28, he had made his fortune and never had to work again. Using his wealth and influence, Lowell dedicated himself to astronomy, founding the observatory which bears his name in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894. Although Lowell succeeded in popularizing the study of Mars, his assertion that the “canals” he observed were evidence of life on Mars detracted from his reputation. By 1909, astronomers pretty much discounted his fanciful observations. It is not generally reported, but in the 1880s, Lowell traveled extensively in Asia. He spent about ten years in Japan, writing down and publishing (The Soul of the Far East, 1888) his observations on Japanese behavior, economics, language, psychology and religious practices. While in Japan, he began to hold Christianity in contempt and became an agnostic. It was Percival Lowell who said, “Imagination is as vital to any advance in science as learning and precision are essential for starting points.”
3. It was 132 years ago last Monday, March 14, that physicist Albert Einstein was born (1879). Although underemployed at the time, he finally earned a doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1905 and it was in a paper published that year that Einstein proposed what is today called the special theory of relativity. Later in 1905 Einstein showed how mass and energy were equivalent – the famous E=mc2. Although accused of being an atheist by none other than William Henry Cardinal O’Connell, archbishop of Boston, Einstein avoided the word, saying instead, in a letter to an admirer, on 24 March 1954, “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
4. It was 7 years ago last Tuesday, March 15, that French President Jacques Chirac signed into law what news outlets outside of France call the “French Headscarf Ban” (2004). The law restricts in public primary and secondary schools any visible religious symbols, such as Muslim head scarves, Sikh turbans and Jewish yarmulkes, but exempts small Christian crosses and small Stars of David. Why do young Muslim women wear the “hijab” headscarf? Some see it as a way to preserve their modesty. Some see it as a form of liberation form the sexualization of society. But many see the true reason, since no man wears one: as a patriarchal mandate to keep women hidden and subservient. When the law came into effect, it caused a strong cry from Muslims in France and all over the world. But the objections are desperate special pleading: the French have the right to define what is French, the French have laws requiring the public sphere to be strictly neutral with regard to religion, and, what is most important, no society can survive if a minority can dictate policy to the majority. There is one culture in France. It is French.
5. It was 260 years ago last Wednesday, March 16, that the Fourth President of the United States, James Madison, was born (1751). Madison represented Virginia at the Constitutional Convention. The Constitution that emerged in 1789 contained a First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion, among other rights, that was achieved largely through Madison’s influence, and Madison helped explain much of it in the Federalist Papers. Grateful Americans made Madison a two-term President, from 1809-1817. In his “Memorial and Remonstrance,” Madison pointed out that, “Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, ‘that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.’ The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.”
6. It was 1550 years ago yesterday, March 17, that the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, died in Ireland (461). The man who killed Celtic paganism in Ireland is commemorated with a secular celebration that, like Christmas, evolved from a religious holiday – but in this case, one that is specifically Irish. That is, it’s a holiday that pretty much excludes anybody – like black people, Middle Eastern people, and others who are not fair-skinned and fond of drinking and fighting. By all accounts, St. Patrick was a holy, ascetic man, who used many miracles to convert the Druids and other pagans of Ireland. Why miracles? The Catholic Encyclopedia lavishes over 13,000 words on the subject of miracles, yet cannot in all that space come up with a better argument for them than Thomas Paine came up with against them over 200 years ago in The Age of Reason: “Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie?” If Patrick’s religion is true, miracles don’t help; if his religion is false, miracles can’t help. Furthermore, if Patrick caused the miracles, then Patrick himself was a god!
7. Finally, it was 171 years ago today, March 18, that one of the first lawyers of the female sex allowed to practice before the Supreme Court, Marilla Marks Ricker was born (1840). Her father was a Freethinker and her mother a devout Free-Will Baptist. Marilla grew up a feminist and an agnostic. As a feminist, she wrote in a 1909 letter that, “so long as women are hanged under the laws they should have a voice in making them.” As an enthusiastic Freethinker, strongly influenced by Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll, Marilla wrote, “The greatest danger which confronts our nation today is not political but religious, and the preservation of our free institutions does not depend upon our army and navy, but upon the emancipation of the human mind from ecclesiastical slavery. …You cannot have free schools, free speech and a free press where the mind is not free.” It was Marilla Marks Ricker who once said, “Nothing grows slower than truth, and nothing faster than superstition.”
We can look back, but the Golden Age of Freethought is now. You can find full versions of these pages in Freethought history at the links in the American Heathen blog, which take you to my blog, FreethoughtAlmanac.com.
Denny Altes, (R-Fort Smith, Arkansas) sponsored a bill on school Bible classes and said he included language in the bill to require that the classes be “‘nonreligious’ to adhere to the principle of the separation of church and state — a principle with which he disagrees.
Altes said “The Bible is the oldest, the most popular, the most accurate history book on the face of the earth. It’s been the most popular book since the early 1500s, since it was first printed. It’s always been the most popular book, it has been and always will be the most popular book on the face of the earth.”
Mr Altes, James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution”, would be rolling in his grave. When his generation was faced with a similar resolution, he and other enlightened Founders railed and remonstrated against such, and defeated such:
“We the subscribers , citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration…”A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion,” and conceiving that the same if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous abuse of power (and) we remonstrate against the said Bill, Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, “that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.” The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? “
Mr Altes and his family operate “Altes Sanitation”, a waste company in the Ft Smith , Arkansas area. Mr Altes is a “garbage man”.
Mr Altes, you need to stay with what you know; depositing garbage in the landfill, not foisting your religious garbage into the schools of Arkansas and into the minds of others’ impressionable children.