Episode 6: Partial Transcript
by Noah Lugeons
Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by Jeru-Salem Cigarettes; because an addictive substance that gives cancer to you and all the people closest to you is exactly the kind of thing a loving god would create.
And now, the Scathing Atheist…
It’s Thursday, it’s March 28th and guess which Sunday after which full moon after which equinox in which hemisphere’s coming up…
I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from profligate New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.
On this week’s episode (and yes, I said that on purpose)
- Baptist Leaders pledge to civilly disobey gay marriage by not getting gay marries even just a little bit,
- Reasonable Doubts’ co-host Justin Schieber will join us to help me masturbate… er, master debate.
- And it turns out the Catholic Church agrees that when you have problems with somebody who has a checkered past with the Nazi party you turn to Argentina.
But first, the diatribe…
I’m often accused of cherry-picking the Bible and rightly so. They say, “Noah, there’s some really good stuff in the Bible, but you overlook all of it and obsess over the parts with genocide and rape and divinely sanctioned baby-murder and people being turned into salt and nut-grabbing prohibitions and scores of children being massacred by bears.”
I suppose it would be fair to point out that Christians are at least equally guilty of overlooking all the genocide and rape and infanticide and homicidal salinization and ursine bloodbaths and obsessing over the good stuff. In fact, I submit that when there’s a prophecy of a zombie apocalypse in your book, focusing on anything other part of it is off target.
But I have to admit that both atheists and Christians are guilty of cherry-picking the Bible. In a book that long and rambling, I suppose that there’s going to be something to support any view you have. That being said, I think that atheists can justify the assertion that the bible is, overall, an evil, horrible, demonically misguided book.
And I think we can make that case even if we have to set aside all the aforementioned butchery and carnage. Hell, let’s just look at the most sanitized selection of biblical nuggets we can find. Let’s just look at the Bible stories that they tell their kids:
– Jesus died for your sins. Because it’s never too early to learn about politically motivated accusations that lead to brutal capital punishment.
– The Exodus. Because it’s never too early to get your historical perspective from a slave narrative that makes Django Unchained look like a fucking documentary. And oh yeah, God likes to kill brown people.
– Job. Because your life and happiness might hinge on a bet between god and the devil and it’s okay if one set of kids dies as long as god gives you a new set later.
– Jericho. Where the heroic Joshua kills all the men, women, children and fucking animals except a family of turncoats that helped the Israelites in the aforementioned holocaust against her own neighbors… and their pets.
– And lastly, the most ubiquitous of all the “kid friendly” bible stories, Noah’s Ark, the single most horrible story ever imagined by humankind:
Here we have a story where God throws a temper tantrum so bad that it ends up killing all but a high school basketball team’s worth of people. He was so pissed at the humans that he killed all but two of the Patagonian screaming hairy armadillos.
And we’re not just talking about everyone dropping dead one day. God could’ve done that if he wanted to, but he decided to do it by flooding the whole goddamn world. Some of them are smashed to death with logs and debris, others drown quickly, still others get to swim for hours or float for days before eventually succumbing to dehydration or being pecked to death by scavengers.
Think about what a horrible vision this is for a child. They love the pictures of the two giraffes and two elephants and two lions walking into the ark together, sure, but what about the mental picture of every other giraffe, lion and elephant on the planet dying amid a horrible torrent of flood water tens of thousands of feet high. And it’s not like the evil genius that enacted this global catastrophe gets what’s coming to him in the end or anything. He’s the fucking good guy!
Consider legendary director Michael Curtiz who reenacted this disaster in a 1928 film. He decided that the coolest way to get the shot would be to tell all the extras to just act casual and then dump millions of gallons of water into the set without warning. He managed to capture the genuine horror of such a moment. Three of the extras were so inspired by this directorial decision that they improvised their own deaths.
Granted, we’ve largely forgiven Curtiz because Casablanca was so fucking good, but I think we can all agree that flooding that set was the work of a deranged psychopath. And he killed 3 people. And I should point out that none of them were infants. I’m not saying this excuses what he did, but it makes him less evil than god by at least 7 orders of magnitude. More if you count all the animals.
And keep in mind that the story doesn’t end with the flood either. It goes all 50 Shades of Incest a few chapters later when dad starts with the drinking again. Aronofsky is working on a new cinematic retelling of the Noah narrative and I’m thinking it could be brutal even compared to Requiem For a Dream.
Noah’s Ark is a horrible, awful, disgusting, repugnant story but it’s the one that makes the cover on most books of Children’s Biblical Stories. Now I ask you, if that’s the best you can do for a children’s story, how can you possibly argue that this book is anything but terrible?
Joining me for headlines tonight is my co-conspirator Heath Enwright, Heath, are you ready to co-conspire?
Okay, so apparently there’s a new pope. I just heard about it and unfortunately the major media outlets have kind of ignored the story so I wasn’t able to find any real details. I guess we’ll have to skip that item until we can find some news coverage on it.
In our lead story tonight, a recent study shows that the more religious a country is, the more it sucks. Researcher Gregory Paul demonstrates a strong correlation between a nation’s religiosity and a host of negative descriptors including poverty, homicide rates, infant mortality and teen pregnancy and found that the more generally dysfunctional a nation is, the more religious it is likely to be.
Paul’s goal in publishing the research was to counteract the ridiculous notion that godless societies are somehow doomed to an inevitable decline into sybaritic dystopia but critics of the study point out that it makes religion look really, really bad so maybe we should just talk about baseball or something.
The major outlier in this study, of course, is good ol’ ‘Merica with a whopping 80% of the populace still believing in Aesop’s Fables despite our relatively high score on the scale of social success. But don’t worry, lawmakers in Washington are hard at work lowering that score to match our religiosity.
In other news, the ACLU has recently filed suit against the Puerto Rico Police Department on behalf of officer Alvin Marrero Mendez, an open atheist who was demoted, ostracized and publicly belittled by his supervisors for his lack of superstition.
The suit alleges that during a constitutionally dubious “closing prayer” after a briefing, Mendez politely excused himself. In response, his commanding officer publicly humiliated him, his service weapon was confiscated, he was taken off the street and given a new job in the department washing cars.
Clearly, the issue here is baseless discrimination, but if I was a Puerto Rican, I’d be far more concerned about losing a 14 year veteran police officer for the crime of being rational.
In more seditious news, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land has called for civil disobedience over same-sex marriage and the birth control mandate in the affordable care act. He and a group of like-minded Christ-ies explain that these issues are ‘non-neogtiable’ and worth the cost of paying fines and going to jail.
Yes, the Christians are actually claiming with a straight face that equality is a violation of their rights. Giving everyone else the same rights they have is a violation of their rights. They warn that they may soon lose their right to refuse to hire non-believers, their right to make medical choices for their female employees and their right to act on the belief that gay people are icky.
The first question I had when I read this is how exactly one goes about civilly disobeying something like gay marriage. I mean, civil disobedience is refusing to follow a law, so how exactly does a straight person civilly disobey gay marriage? When a married man introduces his husband to they just go “la-la-la, I hear nothing”? Do you go to gay weddings and pretend you can’t see anyone?
It makes no sense to me at all, but then again, this doesn’t make it at all unique amongst things Baptist Leaders say.
And what headlines segment would be complete without a facepalm prompting trip to the bible belt? This one comes to us from listener “Bad Teeth Alan” on Twitter. Back in episode 3, we marveled over the stupidity of a proposed Mississippi law that would allow student-led prayer in schools.
And on Thursday, March 14th, Governor Phil Bryant signed the fucking thing into law. Bryant admitted that a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law is inevitable but seems confident that the law will stand up to the legal challenge. What’s more, he seems confident that one way or the other, the defense of this law is a worthwhile expenditure of Mississippi taxpayer’s money saying, I shit you not, (quote) “If we’ve got to spend taxpayers’ money, I think we would be honored to spend it defending religious freedoms…”
The more legally savvy politicians are careful to cloak their support for this law in the official story crap about protecting students’ already well-established rights to wear pro-Jesus shirts and organize religious groups on campus, but the less savvy religious leaders aren’t as shy about talking about the bill’s true purpose. Take for example superintendent for the Mississippi District of the United Pentecostal Church and person whose name sounds like it was directly lifted from a Cohen Brothers’ Script, Reverend David D. Tipton Jr. who attended the bill-signing and was quoted later as saying, “We have listened to the argument of the separation of church and state for too long.”
Mississippi law about school-led prayer (from bad teeth Alan on Twitter):
In other Bible Belt insanity, Tennessee resident and suspected incubator of demons Andrew Byrd has filed suit against his pastor, his pastor’s wife and a deacon for injuries sustained in what sounds like a WWE inspired exorcism.
I couldn’t find a hell of a lot on this story, but from what I can gather, the lawsuit alleges that Reverend Joel Arwood asked Byrd to attend a meeting at the church because he had a demon that needed casting out. Unfortunately the part of the brain that you and I have that would trigger a ‘fight or flight’ response if a backwoods pastor asked us to attend a special, after-hours exorcism was malfunctioning in Byrd so he went.
And from what I can gather, Reverend Arwood’s notion of an exorcism is just beating the fuck out of this dude while his wife screams encouragement and eats popcorn from the first row. I just envision this poor guy getting tag-teamed by a pastor and a deacon and muttering “shouldn’t you be throwin’ holy water on me or speakin’ Latin or somethin’?”
Anyway, by the end of it, he’d suffered a broken tooth, bruises on his face and additional injuries to his back and his legs. He’s suing for $200,000 in compensatory damages and 3.5 million in punitive damages but has indicated that he might be willing to settle out of court for fifty cents and some envelopes.
And finally tonight, proving that secular people are way better at protesting than religious people, the nonprofit group “Planting Peace” has enacted my favorite protest of the decade. 31 year old LGBT activist Aaron Jackson has purchased a house in Topeka, Kansas and painted it with the ROYGBIV rainbow of gay pride.
No official word on how the neighbors feel about it, but I think we can take a pretty educated guess as the neighbors are the Westboro Baptist Church.
Jackson purchased the house for apparently no reason but to antagonize the notoriously gay-obsessed Fred Phelps and had no trouble at all finding some local volunteers to help him paint it. Planting Peace has dubbed the place the “Equality House” and intends to use it as a resource center for LGBT equality and anti-bullying initiatives.
That’ll do it for headlines tonight, Heath, thanks for joining me.
And when we come back, Justin Schieber will join us for a public debate on the merits of public debate.
It’s time for the atheist calendar portion of the show. I haven’t had to dedicate a whole segment to a single weekend before, but it looks like if you missed the American Atheist’s convention in Austin, there’s a really good chance that there’s an awesome secular conference much closer by on the weekend of April 6th.
We’ll start in the Northeast with NECSS, the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism. They’ve really outdone themselves this year with a phenomenal slate of speakers including Leonard Mlodinow, Simon Singh, Michael Shermer, Mariette DiChristina, Massimo Pigliucci and at least a dozen others worth mentioning.
There’s a lot to look forward to, but I’m most excited about a podcasting workshop I’ll be attending with Dr. Steven Novella and Doctor of Funk George Hrab. You can expect to see a marked improvement in the quality of this podcast after that weekend and if you don’t let me know so I can ask for my money back.
If you’re in the North but not the east, fret not, as the Northwest Freethought Conference is taking place over the same weekend. Friend of the show Hemant Mehta will be the keynote speaker there but he’ll be sharing the stage with some other notable names like Darrel Ray, Valerie Tarico and more. It’ll be taking place at Portland State University and includes three action-packed days of events and speakers.
Northwest Freethought Conference http://www.nwfreethought.org/
If you’re in the North but kind of in the middle, I’ve still got something for you. In Minneapolis, the SkepTech conference will be bringing in Greta Christina, Jesse Galef, the seemingly omnipresent Hemant Mehta and the Doctor Octopus of Atheism, PZ Myers. There are plenty more great speakers all themed around skepticism and technology.
Also keep in mind that April 6th and 7th are also “Just Pray No to Drugs” weekend where a bunch of superstitious yahoos will call upon the power of their invisible space-rapist to end all drug use so if you were concerned about the ongoing meth-epidemic, don’t worry, the Christians have it under control.
And finally, of course, this weekend also marks the celebration of Easter, when Christians believe that baby Jesus rides his sub-mammalian, egg-laying lagamorph down from heaven to give cavities to all the boys and girls.
That’ll do it for the calendar this week, but as always if you’re involved with an atheist, secular or skeptical event that’s in need of some free publicity, let me know. You’ll find all the contact info, along with links to all the events discussed on the program at Scathing Atheist dot com.
Reasonable Doubts Blog: http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/
Reasonable Doubts You-Tube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Doubtcast
Interview ran a little long so I’ll have to close the show out pretty quickly, but he have really big announcement before we cue the music. Since we’ve started this thing, the most prevalent theme in our feedback has been “more please”, so I’m happy to announce that we’re doubling our workload and moving to a weekly schedule.
And from now on, I’m dedicating all the odd numbered episodes to all the awesome people who sent encouraging emails and tweets, left complimentary comments on the blog, gave us positive reviews on iTunes and otherwise helped us get this whole thing started. Thanks for all your support and we’ll be working hard to keep earning it every week.
We’ll be back in 168 hours for our “We’re Weekly Now” edition with co-host of an American Atheist podcast Tom Beasley for a pre-autopsy of religion, but if you can’t wait that long, be sure to follow us on Twitter @Noah (underscore) Lugeons and check out our erratically published blog.
Before we close it out, I want to thank author and indispensable activist Darrel Ray for providing this week’s Farnsworth quote… er… paraphrase. I also want to thank Lucinda for teaching me how to be a homo, Justin Schieber for being the world’s most patient interviewee and, of course, my partner in crime Heath Enwright for all of his numerous contributions to the show.
If you like the show, please help us spread the word by leaving a positive review on iTunes or adding us to your favorites on Stitcher. And if you don’t have the Stitcher app yet, get on that shit or the kids on the street will think you’re a square.
If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact information along with links to all the events and headlines discussed on this program at Scathing Atheist (dot) com. All the music used in this program was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.