From the Bar – three DuClaw beers

beerThe beer reviews for this week are for a trio of chocolate flavored beers.

I’ve a taste for DuClaw Brewing Company’s beers. The three this week are:

Cocoa Fuego – This beer, being “chocolate fire”, is a bit of a disappointment. It called a stout but I find it has more the mouth feel of a porter. There is a bit of a chocolate note thank to the darker malts. The “fire” is very mild and only in the throat. I don’t detect any of the smokiness that chipotle peppers have. I’m glad to have tried it but wouldn’t bother getting it again.

Sweet Baby Jesus! – I really didn’t think I’d like this at all since I’m not too keen on peanut butter and chocolate together.   Happily for me, it doesn’t taste like a Reese’s Cup, but more like a liquid Mr. Goodbar chocolate peanut bar. Don’t ask me why but whole peanuts in chocolate are much better than peanut butter in chocolate.

Dirty Little Freak – Yes, DuClaw is notorious for their odd beer names. This is a brown ale, with its usual sweet toffee-ish taste plus coconut and just enough hops to cut the possible cloyingness. Very good and will be getting this again to satisfy my love of brown ales in the summer.

Now I do wish that they would buy rights to The Rocky Horror Picture Show for beer names.

Janet Weiss Beer

Time Warp Barleywine

Riff-Raff Rye

Magenta’s Red Ale

Hot Patootie habanero ale

Rocky Horror Blonde Ale

Sweet Transvestite Scotch ale

Etc, etc  :)

Not So Polite Conversation – when thievery is a “right” and a Republican/Teaocrat is horrified that he’s asked to show ID

tea and hypocrisyHere in the US, we have a system where there are public lands held in trust for the American people by our government. It keeps some of our environment relatively untouched so we won’t lose everything to the greedy and ignorant, who will trash one piece of land and simply move onto another one.

Some of this land is leased out to farmers to use as pasturage for their herds, with the assumption that herds can’t do much damage to the land. The fees for this pasturage go to the government which uses them to pay for all of the things that the American people enjoy, like infrastructure, law enforcement, the military, etc.

Of course, there are some people who want something for nothing, to have the benefits of a thing and not pay for it. Now, the political right in this country usually claims that these people are those on the public dole, that they don’t deserve anything for “free”. But when their gods and guns minority insist that they can have something for nothing, they insist that this is perfectly fine. This is what has happened when a family has decided that they can use something that belongs to all Americans for free and reap a profit from its use. The Bundys, and their supporters, have decided that they are “free” to do what they want and take what they want. They have used mob mentality and the threat of violence to get their way, at least for now. They are thieves and bullies, nothing more, deciding that they can take but having a fit if anyone else dares to do the same thing. Such lovely and expected hypocrisy.

Bets on if the Bundys have applied for government assistance for their farm?  I wonder if a Freedom of Information act request could dig that out.

Speaking of bullies and hypocrites, we also have Mike Huckabee being “shocked, shocked” that anyone would ask him to prove who he is.

“My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States. When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position, people put hands all over me, and I have to provide photo ID and a couple of different forms and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane – but if I want to go vote I don’t need a thing.”

Aw, poor Mike, I’ll pay for you to have a one way ticket to North Korea. You can then show us how free they are there.  Or how about Saudia Arabia, a nice theocracy?  Surely you’d like that since you want one here….?

It’s hilarious to see him whine about having to do exactly what he supported to have done in the aftermath of 9/11. It’s even better to see him whine that people don’t have to show anything to vote. So, what do you want, Mike? No security checks for upper class white men like you, but make anyone who wants to vote have to prove who they are? Isn’t it great that *those* efforts are concentrated in areas that are not predominantly white and upper class?

Why, let’s see what Mike Huckabee says about how a great “security” is:

I guess it’s okay unless poor Mike finds himself inconvenienced.

Just another day for tea and hypocrisy.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “The Bible Rules” episode 2, Sex

jesus genitalsMany apologies for not being around much for the last couple of weeks. I have a full-time job now and I have yet to get my schedule situated to allow for posting to this blog as I would like.

I’m a couple of episodes behind in watching “The Bible Rules”. The most recent one I’ve watched in the one on sex. As the show states, the bible has a lot about sex in it. That’s to be expected in a book from a culture that had high rates of infant and mother mortality as well as being a patriarchal society that was all-consumed about who mated with who. Again, perfectly reasonable for a primitive culture, not so much for a magical book written/inspired by a magical omnipotent, omniscient being. It is a bit surprising that not one chirp about homosexuality is mentioned.  This hour is all about heterosexual sex.

The show unfortunately did not mention anything from the Song of Solomon, one of the more beautiful parts of the bible, that describes love, lust and sex quite poetically. Most believers are completely unfamiliar with it since they weren’t told about it in church or Sunday school and have never read the bible on their own.   The ones that are familiar with it often try to claim that it is “really” about their god, the bridegroom being Jesus/God and the bride being the “church”. Which is pretty amusing if this church has breasts like two fawns, teeth like white sheep, a navel like a goblet, etc and this bridegroom is a “young stag” with locks of raven black hair and arms like rods of gold. It’s always great fun to watch believers pick and choose what they want to be literal and what they want to be metaphor. Incidentally, some Christians, the Mormons for one, have decided that the Song is not really supposed to be in the bible. Info about this and other trivia about the Song can be found here. Again, we see the religion as nothing more than the image of those who want to believe in it.

Let’s take a look at the episode. The experts are pretty much the same as those from the first episode. You can see references to them and their bona fides here on the review of episode one.

11 “When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, 12 then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.” -Deut 25: 11-12

This is the infamous verse about if a woman helps her husband in a fight and grabs the penis and testicles of his enemy, she should have her hand cut off no matter what.   This is among other odd commands in the chapter, including the idea of Levirate marriage where the wife is handed to brother-in-law after brother-in-law if her husband dies to make sure she has a suitable son for inheritance. Of course, nothing about daughters comes into it. There’s also a bit about genocide and how the memory of Amalek will be removed from under heaven, something a little hard to do if one continues to write about it.

This verse shows that men are more important and even their genitals are more important than a woman. Rev. Dr. Lewis does seem to be astonished that the genitals of a man are more important than a woman’s hand in the bible.   The show goes into the history of penis worship to explain how this was common in the ancient Mediterranean area. Dr.Allen-Hornblower from Rutgers talks about the history of this and we get to see lots and lots of images of penises, mostly of herma, images of the god Hermes with only a head and a penis and some shown here in the wiki entry on phalluses. The idea that an attack on a man’s genitals threatens the power of all men is put forward and does seem to make sense if one wants to keep a patriarchy in place.

“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. “ – Deut 23:1 Also in this chapter, punishing the descendants of people for the actions of their forebearers; how nocturnal ejaculations make one “unclean”; again where one should have latrines because God can step in your poop; one good bit about how one shouldn’t give back an escaped slave; vows must be fulfilled no matter what, etc.

So, if you lose your penis or have your testicles damaged, you are not allowed into the “assembly of god”. Aka god hates those who are less than “complete” (also seen here in Leviticus 21 where the disabled are also not allowed into the temple or be near this omnipotent/omniscient god).  The show postulates that this is why it’s so bad for a woman to grab the genitals of an enemy because he couldn’t then be approved of by god.

This can be understood that in the bible injury, sickness, etc is because one is cursed by this god. If one is hurt in some manner, they “deserved” it. (see Genesis, 1 Cor 11, Prov. 17, etc) because they are “sinful”. Unfortunately, that depends on the belief that supernatural things cause illness and injury, and not viruses, bacteria, etc. We know now that magical spirits are not behind the plague, AIDS, getting caught in a piece of farm equipment or being torn apart by an improvises explosive device in a war.

The show does make mention of other religions making similar claims, the Rig Veda considering having a vagina to be a injury and curse, as well as mentioning the practice of making men eunuchs to be servants outside of a patriarchal system.

One of the quotes from the show makes the case clear. (alas I don’t recall who said it) “If you are missing any part, you are simply out.” The idea of the perfect being related to gods is common, but it doesn’t make much sense if this god is not interested in the physical form as some Christians claim. As usual, this is more evidence that the bible is nothing more than a book created by humans.  It also makes circumcision a problem. If one is not to have lost any of God’s own body parts, then why are people supposed to cut the foreskin off?  Is it a mistake of God’s?  :)

““When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken. “ – Deuteronomy 24:5   This chapter is also home to rules on divorce, how to magically attempt to treat leprosy, how to make loans, how to treat the poor and this verse ““Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” Which contradicts all of the verses where this god says that the descendants of various people will indeed be punished for the sins of their ancestors (here for examples).

In this verse, new husbands are to be left out of the army and spend time with his new wife. While seeming nice and romantic, it seems to be solely to get her pregnant quickly and as many times as possible because of maternal and child mortality. The show again goes into lots of detail on how lethal the times were, which again shows that there is no reason to believe in any gods.

Hey, we finally get into the NT! “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:28 This is the chapter of the sermon on the mount, parts of which are popular as the subject of sermons now. It does have some problems with contradictions where one is told to allow folks to know of your good works (as opposed to not), keeping *all* of the laws of the bible, not just the ones you like; divorce, turning the other cheek; and love your enemies.

This is one of the more popular parts of the bible, and one that causes a lot of problems with many Christians. The idea that thought is as important as act gets in the way of free will arguments, the words saying that the laws are all in place until the earth and heaven are gone gets into problems with what believers should follow, etc. Christians disagree on just what is meant in this chapter and just how much thought gets someone in trouble and how literal to take the words of JC when it comes to mutilating the body. Rev. Susan Sparks “I worry for the souls of the 28 million people who read the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Are they going to go burn in hell?” If one believes what the bible says, yep they will. She does seem to agree when she nods her head. Whether she thinks that they should do a little cutting is unknown.

Incidentally, there are a lot of essentially soft porn images in this show, nothing untoward for cable television. Of course, the man is much more covered than the woman.

The show does vaguely mention the other laws in the bible where if a “man sleeps with a woman who is not his wife” in the city, the woman is killed because it is assumed that the sex is consensual and doesn’t consider anything else. It also mentions that if woman is “slept with” outside the city, then she might not be killed because no one might hear her if she cries out. Of course it doesn’t mention that the man just has to pay a penalty to get out of that too. For more on rape in the bible, one can go here. Later episodes of “The Bible Rules” may mention some of these since there will be an upcoming episode about war. In addition to these mentions but not quoted verses is test of adultery in Numbers 5. A woman who is suspected of adultery, or if her husband is only jealous, is required to drink a poison, “water of bitterness”. If she survives, she’s innocent, if she writhes in pain and suffer other vague conditions, she’s guilty. Rather reminiscent of the other “tests” that the religious use on those they assume are guilty, pressing to death, drowning, fire, etc, isn’t it?

When one says a thought is equal to the action, there are bound to be problems with how this can work. Can or should one be punished for thoughts if they result in nothing? The show does have the expected excuses on why the bible didn’t really mean that thinking was the same as doing. It becomes, per the handsome Catholic priest, that it “really” means if you keep thinking about it, then you might do it and that’s what the problem is. I can see why he might have that excuse because it tries to avoid the problem of why this god does not immediately smite those who simply think of harming others, thus stopping them from actually harming anyone. Of course, this god doesn’t do that anymore either with the advent of people not blindly believing in stories and any punishment is now promised to be after everyone is dead.

In a break from sex, we get a side mention of the bible and food. Yes, we get that God hates shrimp! 10 But anything in the seas or the rivers that does not have fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you.” – Leviticus 11:10. This chapter has a lot of the dietary prohibitions in it. The argument is that the ancients noticed typhoid, from filter feeders in a sewage stream, and anaphylactic shock, plus perhaps red tides and thus the rule against shellfish. This certainly could be the case, just like making it a religious laws about making latrines. However, it is not consistent with other prohibitions. If this was only about observed disease, why no problems with critters that can have anthrax or other nasty diseases?   The more agreed upon reason by the experts seems to be that it is more about foreign foods than disease, a way to separate “us” from “them”.

“They (priests) shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. “– Leviticus 21:7

Entertainingly, the show observes that one doesn’t make laws for things that don’t happen. There is some question if this means just any kind of prostitute or if it means temple sex workers. We do get the “experts”, especially good ol’ Southern Baptist guy, insisting that any religion other than their own are “cults” when it comes to discussing how other temples and other religions didn’t have the same sex laws as the Israelites.  These “cults” are just as much religions as Christianity, Judaism., Islam, etc.

You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home. “ – Levitucus 18:8   This chapter is a lot about whose “nakedness” one shouldn’t uncover. It also seems to indicate that “uncovering nakedness” means have sex with. This seems to confirm the idea that when Ham saw his father”s “ nakedness”, he was getting busy with Mrs. Noah.  Which makes on wonder about this god’s choice of people to repopulate the earth with.  Additionally, if one reads the chapter and all of its exhaustive detail on who can’t sleep with whom, one combination is missing: the man and his own daughter. Creepy, eh?  This goes with the creepiness that the experts seem to think that just because if one lived in an extended household, the relationships could get “blurred”? Really?

Levirate marriage is mentioned again and a very odd story about how this was done by WWII pilots is referred to. I can find no references to this other than in one book about “swingers” by Terry Gould. It seems a little far-fetched. It is also mentioned that the love that springs up between two people who have lost the same beloved person could also be considered a form of levirate marriage, an idea which, to me, seems to do nothing but devalue those relationships.

One of the liberal pastors says that one has to go between “extremes”, and search for that middle ground in the bible. In other words, it seems that anything that is uncomfortable or ridiculous should be ignored and something else made up as what this god really meant for modern humans. That’s nothing new to anyone who has read the bible and who has observed the believers.

Next up, War.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A review of the Noah movie trailer. Oh my, the silliness and this is only a few minutes of an hours long movie.

look, a scary snake!

look, a scary snake!

Haven’t seen the movie yet probably won’t, because I have no desire to add to the box office hits for this stinker. But I thought I’d take a look at the trailer and the movie website.  I do enjoy showing how ridiculous the flood myth is, and have done so multiple times on this blog. Just use the search box and type in “flood” to find those old posts. (following images are screen captures from the trailer here)

Open on Noah looking at a mountain, and stepping in what appears to be blood. Then we get a rapid sequence of images from the story of Adam and Eve, including mutant evil snake almost as good as the effects on a SyFy movie!  :p   Noah has just had a vision that tells him his god will destroy the world. noah wasteland

 

The world has evidently been deforested. Which presents a problem in where Noah gets the huge timber for his magical boat. Yes, I know, it’s silly to require internal logic in such a story.  :)

 

 

World’s silliest boat. This is made from raw tree trunks. I grew up on a farm where the barn was made from hand cut timbers. Most of the tools for this were still around, adzes, drills for peg holes, etc. These are not complicated tools and we do get glimpses of a few on the website. Noah evidently did not use them at all. We get Noah, making what looks like a box with lashed tree trunks, and painted with what I will assume is bitumen, a thick hydrocarbon that comes from the ground in various sites in the Middle East.   There have been Christians who claim that this movie is not “historically accurate”. Considering that they vary in how they think the ark was shaped, perhaps this is one of the “historically inaccurate” parts.  We also have Ron Wyatt, he of “I have evidence but can’t show you it” fame, who is sure that a huge geological formation is the ark.

 

Alas the bible doesn’t give much description at all and there is no reason to think that this ludicrous structure is any more wrong then the usual boat with tapered hull and keel illustration that many Christians are familiar with and use in their claims of finding the ark. It would indeed take magic to make such a mess float, survive the explosive water spouts, waves, etc. And what a fire trap. animals and arkThen the loading sequence. There are quite a few birds in that circling swarm above the ark, plus we have the herd of every other animal approaching it.

ark doorAs they enter, we see that the boat can perhaps have one extra deck other than the top of the box and the bottom. Looks like we have an okapi, quite few brown bears or grizzlies, maybe a water buffalo, etc. This is confirmed the bit of the website called “The Ark Experience”, where there is an avian deck, a reptile deck and a mammal deck.  Oh and don’t forget to check out the “furnace”, an invention that keeps Noah and the animals warm. This is one of the problem with trying to make a reasonable explanation for a myth, why not just have magic do that too rather than having a fire on board a boat made from logs, and tar.

 

Then we get snakes and frogs, and the birds are still flying around and loading up. I love this one “problem” with the movie that a TrueChristian mentioned “In some cases, it looks like two of every species are packing into the ark rather than two of every biblical “kind.” That would make a very tight fit.” – Jerry Johnson, NRB. No kidding. This shows that Christians have to make up nonsense like “kinds” (some type of animal that all other similar animals can magically come from) to excuse their myth.

Finally we get the lovely all explody water from the “springs of the earth”, and the desperate people who want to get on the ark. Unsurprisingly, no kids seem to be around at all. The only kids on all of the earth seems to be Noah’s. It does help that believers don’t show this god drowning children and kittens, koalas, and pandas. It’d be a little hard on their god’s PR. Now, again, I have not watched the entire movie so I could be wrong in that it does not show children. If anyone has seen it and can show me differently, I’d much appreciate it. This depiction of how the water arrives again may be one of the parts that some believers say is “historically inaccurate” because it depends on who you believe for what caused the flooding of the world to the top all of the mountains on it. We have many silly hypotheses from believers, the hydroplate hypothesis, the canopy hypothesis, runway subduction, comets, or those who just want plain ol’ magic. One can also see more details on how other claims about the ark itself fail here in an analysis of “magic flood is real” claimant Woodmorappe’s book. (Woodmorappe does try to refute this analysis: link found on the analysis page. Like many TrueChristians, it seems that he thinks that the more fonts and colors he uses, the more true his claims must appear.)

There’s been a lot of excuses that this isn’t the “literal” story from the bible so one should not accept it as the “truth”, per the National Religious Broadcasters association. The problem is that the literal story *is* the bare bones that this movie is built on. Those bones are still as ridiculous as ever and still without a shred of evidence. The claims of the “springs of the earth” exploding with water, the huge boat that can hold all of the animals of the world, etc. It all depends on magic nonsense. I do think that this movie does have a purpose, to show just how ludicrous the idea of a monster boat and a global flood is and how horrible the idea of genocidal drowning is. I do wonder how “outraged” these believers would be if they did indeed show children drowning to be “historically accurate”.  One of the more offensive excuses for god killing children and animals is that they would have died anyway and it’s fine since they would have been distressed to see their parents die.  (evidence for this: here, here, and just google “did god drown children” to see even more)

Another thing that could be “historically inaccurate” to some believers is that they back off the biblical claims of a world-wide flood and say that it could have been only regional. So, we need only a flood that maybe was from a good hard rain or at most from a wall of debris coming apart and allowing a lake or sea to escape its basin. Which does make one wonder why one magical event can be reduced to the mundane and not all of them? If believers can’t agree on what “really” happened, why believe anything like this happened at all?

I will have to say that I give props to the movie’s producers in that they have a section of the movie website dedicated to artwork about the flood. Some are less than flattering of the event and the god who supposedly did it, especially this one: http://www.noahmovie.com/art-show/antonio-sandoval

For a more thorough review of how silly the flood story is and why, Talk Origins has a good compilation of all the problems with it and all of the retrofitting that believers have had to try to make it sound plausible. You can also see a great video on how geology shows that the flood didn’t occur thanks to Potholer54.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Cue uncomfortable smiles, History Channel 2’s new series “The Bible Rules”

twain Christians-bible-is-a-drug-store-650x462I had the opportunity to watch “The Bible Rules” a new series on the History Channel 2.  This is about the lesser known bits of the bible, the parts that many Christians and Jews have no idea exist since most of their leaders will judiciously ignore them in favor of the happy fuzzy parts.   It’s an interesting counterpoint to the nonsense they had last year, “The Bible” (reviewed by me here, and here) which was recently repackaged into a movie, “Son of God” to get even more money from theists.

As expected, there are TrueChristians who are sure that the series is wrong wrong! Wrong!, and not interpreted in the “right” way (just do an internet search on the series and a page or two in you can see the frothing).   It’s hilarious to see them horrified that God wasn’t mentioned until a whole 5 minutes into the show “So deficient of Godly teaching is this series that it’s not until 5 minutes and 30 seconds into the first episode that God is even mentioned although Moloch is discussed almost from the opening words.”  I guess mentioning the Bible and quoting the Bible isn’t enough for some TrueChristians; it all has to be about them.  I wonder must God be mentioned every, hmmm, 5.34 seconds to be Christian enough?  Of course, this TrueChristian is also in shock over the new Cosmos series too since it dares to tell the truth and show their religion as it is, warts and all.

I’m only one episode in, “The Curse” (can see it here ,may not be visible to folks outside the US. It autolaunches with soun.d. You can also get close captioning on it) but the presentation seems to take one stand, that these strange laws, most abhorrent to many modern humans, are simply evidence of the ancient cultures and how they lived.  This is a valid viewpoint that I have no problem with as an atheist.  It does appear to lead to much discomfort on the part of the various religious leaders whose comments are in the show.  It may indeed be my subjective view of how they act, but there are many too-wide smiles, and nervous laughter when certain verses are discussed.  There is a lot of “oh how silly these laws are” whilst trying to make believe the god supposedly ordering those laws exists.  It comes down to: do you believe that the bible is accurate when it quotes God as directly giving these laws, or do you want to claim that these laws are completely human in basis, being how they reacted to a world that was often lethal and mysterious to them?    The series description says that “We find weird rules, revealing rules, curiosity-inspiring rules—and these rules, which will help us understand history, are presented in informative, surprising and reaffirming ways.”  Reaffirming to who?  For me, this show is indeed reaffirming that the claims of the bible and its believers are nonsense.

Some of the commenters who are on this show are the “Interfaith Amigos” a rabbi, a UCC pastor and a Sufi imam; Michael Coogan, a lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School (a quote from him “These books were written over the course of many centuries, and like all other books, they reflect the presuppositions and prejudices, the ideas and ideals of their authors (almost entirely men) and of the societies in and for which they were written.” );  Rev. Bill Golderer (ordained the first gay Presby minister, much to the horror of other Christians who saw him in this show), Rev. Brian McLaren; Salman Hameed;  Patrick McGovern (he’s one of the folks who help Dogfish Head Brewery come up with their stranger things); Rev. Dr. Jaqueline Lewis; Thomas Cahill; Dr. Jacob L. Wright; Seth Sanders;  Shawna Dolansky; Rev. James Hamilton; Rabbi Brad Hirschfield; Eric H. Cline; and others.  Most of these are apologists who want to place a more modern spin on what their god “really” meant.

Here are the verses reviewed in this episode and some thoughts on them.

“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Moloch.” – Leviticus 18  (right before the admonitions against homosexual sex) it appears that they are using the ESV version of the bible for this. Of course, some Christians are sure that this version is “a lie of the devil”, declaring so on their stereotypically badly designed websites.  Note for TrueChristians: your claims don’t become more “true” because of the number of colors and fonts you use.

Much shock is shown when child sacrifice is mentioned.  “Who or what would demand the sacrifice of a child?”  Of course, anyone who knows that bible knows that the god mentioned there does exactly this (Genesis 22, perhaps in Exodus 22: 29-30 considering first born sons the same as livestock, Judges 11, and perhaps when this god kills David’s son rather than David, 2 Samuel 12, as a replacement sacrifice).  The show does call anything but Christianity and Judasim a “cult” which I am guessing is a sop to modern theists, but they are religions just like ones now.   There is some evidence that child sacrifice was practiced, and it seems that it was not an unthinkable act throughout out all of the religions of the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean.    Valuable sacrifices were made to all gods of that time, blood and life being the most important.  They were all “horrible demanding” deities.  In this segment, Rev. McLaren seems to have a problem not laughing through his interview about child sacrifice.  It strikes me as the uncomfortable laughter of someone who really doesn’t want to talk about something but has found himself on tape. We have Golderer and McLaren sure that Abraham was horrified by his god’s demand, but we have no idea what Abraham felt because the bible says he did exactly what God asked without question, no emotions mentioned at all..  We do have a Christian pastor who is sure that God can ask you do the awful and that you should do it (around 7 minutes in).  Rev. Dr. Jaqui Lewis is sure that what god says is what should be done.  In my opinion, this is a rather peculiar attitude for someone who claims to be for social justice.   It is the claim of the pastors that the A&I story was a change in paradigm, that God was saying we don’t sacrifice anymore.  I do not find that to be the case at all.  There is nothing that says that child sacrifice is wrong and primitive, it only says that God was testing Abraham to see if he would do anything that God said and that he needed Isaac in the days to come.

“Whoever curses father and mother should be put to death” – Exodus 21

Again, the show presents this as a cultural thing, ancient peoples believed that curses were real.  A valid answer but a problem when one wants to believe that supernatural powers are real and gods are real.  People may have believed in curses but is there any evidence these curses worked?  It doesn’t seem so.  We do have curses recorded from the ancient period but nothing shows that the curses were any more effective then than they are now, not at all.   No more effective than spells or prayers.  The show claims that “Thousands of years ago, there were people who used magical spells to change the course of events.”  There were stories about people who did this, but again no evidence of this being true, no more than Athena showing up at Troy.

“A man or woman who is a medium or wizard shall be put to death” – Leviticus 20

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Science can’t explain how imaginary things work, therefore gods exist, a review of a God Squad column

jesus-with-a-dinosaur-1In this past week’s God Squad column, Rabbi Gellman addresses “intelligent design”, the term invented by creationists to hide the religious origin and source for their attempts to have their myths taught in the classroom as the truth. (note: the column in my paper was severely chopped in comparison to the one in the link)

The querent this week asked if the Judeo-Christian god created the universe in seven days, where do the dinosaurs fit in.  They note that the fossil record shows that humanity and the dinos were separated by “millennia” (a millennium is a thousand years).   Of course, the fossil record shows that the dinos and us are separated by many many millennia, around 65,000 millennia aka 65 million years.

Gellman notes that there are various kinds of creationists.  The most ridiculous are the young earth creationists (YEC) who believe Bishop Ussher’s claim that the universe was created on October 22, 4004 BC  in the evening, etc, etc.  There are old earth creationists (OEC) who believe that the universe is older, from just a little older than Ussher’s claim to as old as the current data from cosmology shows, around 14.7 billion years for the universe, and 4.5 billion years for the earth.   These creationists also vary in what they believe about evolution.  In general, YEC are sure that their god created all the animals as we know them today, all at once. They often also claim that all animals were vegetarians until the magical “fall” of mankind.  OEC can vary on how much they think evolution played a part, from none at all, to essentially indistinguishable from an atheist, though they claim that their god started the whole process, very much like a Deist.

neil degrasse tyson scienceWe also have a very sad quote from Kurt Wise, Geology Ph.D,  who decided that he had to decide either the bible was true or science was, and he threw out science because it dared counter the nonsense in the bible.  Alas, this is what fear and arrogance does to people, sure that they will be punished if they don’t believe “correctly” and that they do believe correctly.  He’s also as good as our Christians apologists here on the website for not being able to provide one iota of the scientific evidence that he claims supports him.  Wise also seems to think he can pick and choose the science he finds to be true.  Alas for him, all science is based on the same method.  If it works for it all, then you can’t decide which is true and which isn’t.  The same science that supports evolutionary theory supports modern criminal forensics,  medicine, computers, internal combustion engines, etc.

It’s also great to note that YEC theists and OEC theists are absolutely sure each other are wrong, and both again have no evidence to support their nonsense but are sure that they and only they are the TrueChristians (examples: it’s a sin to be an OEC, per a YEC who is trying to scare everyone, and and Pat Robertson the OEC saying that the YEC position is “nonsense” ).

Gellman correctly notes that this quote from Wise presents a false dichotomy, that one has to accept one or the other fully.  He unfortunately claims that one of the possible other answer is “intelligent design”, the idea that some magical force had something to do with how the universe works, e.g. how it is designed.  Intelligent design can be either YEC or OEC, because it simply says one can see design in the universe, it does not require evolution as science knows the term.  It can also be of any religion, since there is no way to know which god/force, if any, was the creator.  It has been cloaked by theists in claims that it could also mean that aliens could be the creator but that does nothing but push the essential problem, who was the original creator, one step back.    It is entirely a religious concept,  and almost entirely a Judeo/Christo/Islamic concept, no matter the attempts to claim it otherwise.  One can see how the claims played out in the Dover case.  Even a conservative judge knew the claims of ID supporters to be were lies, nothing more than certain sects of certain religions trying to get their religion forced on everyone.

Gellman takes refuge in claiming that “Darwin’s hypothesis was more theory than scientific fact.”  That shows that the rabbi has no idea what those words mean in the scientific context and that he is very unfamiliar with evolutionary theory as it stands today.  Darwin, as nifty as he was, got some things wrong.  And science, has shown that, not religion.   Gellman says that the reason he knows that evolution is wrong is that it cannot explain human consciousness.  Alas for the rabbi, his argument depends on the assumption that it will *never* be able to explain it.  It also depends on the assumption that if we never find exactly why human consciousness happened, somehow all of the evidence that supports evolutionary theory is wrong.   I do hope that the rabbi will stop taking antibiotics since the science used to make them must be wrong and he must believe that they simply can’t work.

He does acknowledge that ID is “more religious belief than scientific fact” because it cannot explain how intelligent design works.  It simply says “god/magical force did it”.   He claims “each side got some things right and some things wrong”.    And this is nothing more than pandering to the theists.  There is no evidence that they have gotten anything correct about the origin of the universe by anything other than luck. There is evidence that they got things wrong over and over.

Gellman says that “evolutionists” are right in pointing out the bible isn’t a science textbook.  What he neglects to mention that it is also not a history book, and has very little, if anything, unique in it.  He claims that the bible is “very old and very young”,  that the parts about love and forgiveness are the “young parts” and the parts about a geocentric universe, the earth is flat, and the universe being created 5774 years ago (Jewish calendar) on October 23 at 10:30 AM, are the “old parts”.  So we are not to believe them because they are old (not to mention silly), but the new parts are somehow magically true?   It seems that the rabbi is not so much Jewish as Christian if we are to believe those new parts, including that new part about the messiah having come and resurrecting.

He says that science has “changed” and that tethering faith to “ancient and discredited science only assures us of an ancient and discredited religion.”  Which shows that science leads and religion follows.   Unfortunately for the rabbi, there wasn’t science in the bible, discredited or not, only baseless stories about magic and events that never happened, in both the “young” and “old” parts.  It is still an ancient and discredited religion.

Gellman says that the creationists and “intelligent design-ites” are right in pointing out the “utter uniqueness of human consciousness – something that appears nowhere else in nature.”  Of course, this again assumes that what we know will not change.   Rather than saying “yet”, the rabbi thinks that science will stand still, as he seems to think that evolutionary theory has stayed still since Darwin and has not changed.  That’s why ignorance is not a good place to start when trying to defend your position.

He makes the common theist claim that our brains can be products of evolution but how we think, pray or forgive cannot be, that they must be some magical thing.  Unfortunately, neurological research moves ahead and the theist remains behind, desperate to cling to ignorance to save his belief.   He also makes yet more claims that depend on his belief that nothing will change or will be discovered.  No, Rabbi, evolutionary biologists haven’t been able to fully describe how forces shape us, but that appears to be just a function of time.  They haven’t been able to fully describe things *yet*.  Your faith depends on a false belief that we will never find out anything else.  That is the classic god of the gaps argument.

Gellman also makes the baseless claim that “the laws of nature explained by evolution are not only insufficient but they are also the opposite of what we truly are as spiritual beings” e.g. the moral human argument for a god.  He of course does not say how they are insufficient and how he knows we are “spiritual beings”, a conclusion he has reached based on his belief that we somehow *must* be something “spiritual”, based on his religion, a religion that has nothing to support its claims.  He claims that “even ID” gets this wrong and only “faith” gets it right because nothing else supposed explains why we are “at our best compassionate and reflective” while nature is “amoral and bloody”.   Humans are certainly amoral and bloody too, as is the Judeo/Islamo/Christian god as described.

Finally, as so many theists have claimed, Gellman claims that the “higher purpose” of our human existence is with his god and that no scientist can begin “to understand or describe” the way to his god. Evidently no other kind of theist can either, which is what they say about their gods too.  What this purpose is, the rabbi doesn’t go into details, though his bible does.   If his young/old bible is right, this higher purpose could be several things, death with nothing else, a heaven that isn’t that much different from this life, an eternity of endlessly praising this god, or a city of gold and jewels on a new earth.   I suppose it depends on how he cherry picks this too: is it just the silly old bible with its silly claims or the shiny new one, with its silly claims?  Evolutionary theory may not be able to explain the origin of the human soul.   In that no one can show that it exists or agree on what it is or how it interacts with a physical body,  etc. that’s not surprising.