Archive for April 2009

Richard Dawkins at the American Atheist Convention

April 22, 2009

Richard gives an informative and entertaining speech at the American Atheist convention Easter weekend. He focuses on “Quote mining”, Tony Blair, the Anthropic Principle, mentions some good sci fi books that I’ll have to track down, and does a Q and A at the end. I wish I could have attended this year. I went to the convention last year in Minneapolis and it was the best conference I’ve ever been to.


The Laughing Jesus

April 21, 2009
Ha ha ha, sucker!

Ha ha ha, sucker!

The Buddha has many incarnations that are labeled after a significant trait, and one of the most popular ones being the laughing Buddha. But, have you heard of a laughing Jesus?

The Laughing Jesus is an old Christian story that was, obviously, not included in the New Testament. It is found in the lost writing of Basilides, and we know of it thanks to it’s retelling by Irenaeus. It is a “re-imagining” of the walk to Golgotha sequence.

As you may remember, during the long walk to Golgotha with the cross over his shoulder, a “passer by”, Simon of Cyrene, heroically offers to bear the burden of the cross for Jesus. The whole exchange is summed up in one verse in Mark.

They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.(Mark 15:21)

According to the Laughing Jesus story, when Simon takes up the cross, Jesus uses his divine ability to transform¬† his appearance to look like Simon, and he changes Simon’s appearance to that of him. The Romans then crucify Simon while Jesus stands to the side and laughs. Pretty funny, huh?

There is a scene in the fabulous movie the Life of Brian that mirrors this story. During the walk to the hill, all the condemned men are dragging their crosses down the street when a man steps out of the crowd and says, “Let me shoulder your burden, brother”. The condemned man then takes the opportunity to run, for his life (quite literally) while the do gooder, attempting to explain the mistake, gets whipped by the Romans and told to get back in line.

Funny as the story is, it does send up some brands of Christianity that focus purely on the grizzly bloody death of Christ, ignoring any positive impact he may have had during his ministry. Perhaps it is asking, if Jesus did not die, would he still be God? That may be a significant question for some.

Anyhoo, I’ll sign off with “I’m Brian … and so’s my wife!”

Religion and Music: One and the Same?

April 20, 2009

brainHere’s an interesting post on the brains response to music vs religion. As it turns out, they are nearly identical.

I’ve often noticed a similarity at people’s behavior at any rock concert or rave as compared to their behavior within a charismatic religion. Kids in a mosh pit make me think of what the followers of John the Baptist might have been like at the banks of the river or what voodoo practitioners feel when in a trance. If we removed the music from religion, would religion fall apart?

The human brain does have a tendency to fall into trance states. Other than raves and speaking in tongues, what other type of behavior induces intense trance like states? Selling on the NY stock exchange?

The Homosexual Agenda

April 19, 2009

What a bunch of mellow dramatic asshats. I’ve still never heard what the “Homosexual Agenda” is, unless it’s just being treated like human beings, but Christians can become persecuted minorities over the most benign bullshit. It really is hard to believe it not all just a huge joke. If they chose to live by their bronze age superstition, fine by me. When they expect the rest of the world to join them, they cross the line to American Taliban terrorism.


Turn In a Sexual Predator, Ruin Your Life

April 19, 2009

Sarah Johnson and Bec Gavan informed authorities (the education department, the Department of Community Services and police) about Frank Bailey, headmaster at St Andrew’s Christian School, and his tendency to want to touch young girls. They did nothing, he raped another girl. He is now being charged with 5 counts of “sexual intercourse with a person in his care”. Both of the girls are were punished for their actions.

Ms Gavan was expelled on the spot by Bailey on October 22, 2007, for telling him to his face: “Principal Bailey you are a pedophile.”

Ms Johnson, who had been given detention for telling other girls she didn’t like the way Bailey cuddled students or walked around Grafton with his arm around one, was expelled three days later

Hazel Bell, a teacher at the school, also warned others of Bailey’s touchy feely ways. She was fired. She and Johnson and Gaven have joined:

in legal action against the Presbyterian Church for damaging their reputations, potential career paths and earning capacity by failing to heed their warnings about Bailey.

Is it the separatist nature of the religious school system that impedes quicker and more fair treatment of these cases?¬† Some sort of a feeling of hesitation for any secular enforcement of crimes in a religious institution. It’s a major stumbling block in investigating the pedophilia charges in the catholic church. Why is the protection of children not a number one priority? A crime is a crime no matter where it’s committed, particularly if these institutions display an inability to police themselves. Do they deny the possibility that anyone in their group could commit a crime?

I would suggest everyone read this article, written by a nun, that really sheds some light on the state of denial that the Catholic Church was in for decades or more concerning the sex lives of priests. It really sheds some light on the state of mind that the institution was in and shows that they did become totally incapable of policing themselves.

I also don’t get the total feeling of trust to the point of idiocy that parents get in when it comes to adult athority figures like these, bit it a priest or Micheal Jackson. If an adult complains about “no touch” policies and invites children to his house for a pool party, you’ve got a pretty good chance he’s a pedophile.

What Would Jesus NOT Do?

April 19, 2009

Roger Ebert Opens Up on Religion

April 18, 2009

As his recent writings have shown us, Roger Ebert is (and always has been) much more than a mere movie critic. He is also a deep thinker and a humanist. He shares his thoughts on God and why he does not use the label atheist or agnostic in this article How I Believe in God. Like most of his work it is very well written and entertaining to read.

I was in a place, myself, were I did not refer to my self as an atheist. In a way it does put you into a box. But, so does every other label: Democrat, Republican, Catholic, Pagan, Shark Worshiper, etc. In pratical life, it is very hard to peg anyone merely from their affiliations. People sitting in the same church on Sunday may have very different viewpoints than the people sitting in the very same pew as them. With atheists it is no different. Atheism only denotes a lack of belief in a god or gods, nothing more. But, in a country in which a lack of belief in god can forever end your entering any political position or even people arguing against your right to voter, I decided it is worth the antagonaztion. I will no longer fear to use a label that defines me very well merely because of the bigotry that surrounds it.