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Looking to Heaven for the Answers

June 14, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

The other night I was standing on my back porch and glancing up at the thumbnail moon.  New York City is likely the worst place in the world to live for an astronomy buff, but on a clear night we still get eight or nine visible stars.  I glanced from the moon to one of them and I found myself in a familiar reverie.

I don’t know what star I was looking at or how far away it was, and odds are that if it was bright enough to see through the New York light pollution it was way too big to harbor intelligent life, but I found myself imagining it anyway.  Perhaps there was a tiny ball of rock floating around that distant star that had at least the first dustings of unicellular organism.  Perhaps spinning around that celestial furnace was the answer to whether or not we are alone in the universe.

And of course, perhaps there was more.  Perhaps this star was home to some intelligent species; one that might have grown elsewhere and now colonized a small patch of atmosphere somewhere around the point of light I was glancing up at.  In fact, it’s possible that on their way to my eyes, those exact photons had passed right by some being with an intellect I cannot fathom.

Floating around that star or some other there might be a species that has figured out the cure for illness, the secrets of interstellar travel, the antidote to war.  Perhaps when our ancestors lifted their eyes to the Milky Way and hoped for knowledge,  the knowledge was actually up there to be found.

Theist or atheist, we all look to heaven for the answers.  Science has a better track record of actually finding them so I’ll bet on them.  But I often think of these reflections when religious people claim that science robs you of your sense of wonderment.  When I look to the heavens, I’m in no less awe than they.

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Episode 11: Partial Transcript

by Noah Lugeons & Heath Enwright

(Note: Transcript contains some lines edited from the final version of the episode)

Sponsor:

Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the new brand of non-alcoholic Christian beer, “What Would Jesus Brew?” because who needs alcohol when you have Jesus?  After all, like cheap beer, religion tastes bitter going down, sedates you, numbs you to your problems while exacerbating them, makes Sunday morning suck, gives you headaches, explodes violently if you shake it up, reduces your ability to make rational decisions and makes you ashamed of your sexual encounters.

“What Would Jesus Brew?” because alcohol is like liquid religion.

And now, the Scathing Atheist…

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s May 2nd and abstinence didn’t work for Mary, now did it?

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from reluctantly spring-like New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.

On this week’s episode,

 

  • The LDS says that the Boy Scouts are still just bigoted enough,

  • I’ll have sex with Darrel Ray… oh, no wait… I’m sorry, I’ll “talk” sex with Darrel Ray.  Which is still good, too, I guess… and

  • And Benny Hinn will be a cruel, heartless fuck,

But first, the Diatribe:

Diatribe:

So before I tell you what happened on Sunday, let me tell you what didn’t happen on Sunday.  In preparation for the show this week, I didn’t go to the “Christian” page on the Guardian’s website and when I wasn’t there, here are a few of the headlines I didn’t find:

 

  • Joel O’Steen hates Jews and I have proof

  • The Pope thinks gay people are gross

  • Christians must accept that they’re almost certainly wrong, and

  • I may believe in Jesus, but that doesn’t make me a Christian.

And what’s more, I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t find them there when I wasn’t looking.  Because what kind of tampon-stain would print headlines like that on a Christian news aggregator?  They wouldn’t.  Because they would have to be total assholes.

Alright, so now, for act two, let me tell you what I did do on Sunday.

I went to the “Atheist” page on the Guardian’s website and when I was there, here are the headlines that I found:

 

  • Dawkins’s latest anti-Muslim Twitter spat lays bare his hypocrisy

  • Sam Harris, New Atheists and the anti-Muslim animus

  • The secular must accept that religion can save

  • I may not have faith, but that doesn’t make me an atheist

I didn’t cherry-pick the bad ones here, by the way.  These were the top 4 headlines on the page.  That’s what the Guardian was giving the atheists to read.  They have pages for all your major faith groups.  The lead headline in “Christianity” was “At Easter, the tortured face of God teaches us to love our fellow man”… almost four weeks after Easter.

The lead story on the “Islam” page was “America’s greatest asset against radicalisation are Muslim Americans” and on the “Judaism” page, their first offering was “Poland’s ‘generation unexpected’ leads resurgence in Jewish culture”.  Amazingly, in more than a dozen different faith-by-faith breakdowns, none of them lead off with a story where one of the most prominent and respected members of the group is smeared as a bigot on the thinnest shreds of dubious evidence.  But since atheism isn’t a religion, they can lead off with not one such story but two.

As to the accusations against Dawkins, they’re the same ridiculous bullshit as always.  He says Muslims are stupid because they believe a human being rode to heaven on a flying horse and that makes him an “Islamaphobe”.  The fact that he also says that Christians are stupid for believing a zombie army wandered into Jerusalem doesn’t make him a “Christaphobe”, of course.  And the fact that he says Jews are stupid for believing that Jacob outwrestled vampire god doesn’t make him a “Jewphobe”.  The fact that he says astrologers are stupid for believing the relative positions of planets will adversely affect their financial situation doesn’t make him an “astrologophobe”.  But if you think Muslim beliefs are stupid it’s because you’re scared of them.

The accusations against Sam Harris are only slightly less specious.  He’s pointing out that a lot of terrorism comes from Muslim extremists so clearly does so because he hates Muslims.  He also points out that when the car is running low on gas it needs filled up, so clearly he hates petroleum producing nations as well.  And when he points out that his steak is actually more of a mid-rare than a medium, it can only be because of his irrational and seething hatred of cows.

These accusations aren’t new, of course, and they’re hardly worth refuting.  Anyone who achieves prominence in this or any other social movement will be attacked by jackasses who trying to make a name for themselves.  There’s nothing new or noteworthy about that.

But there’s something to be said for a major media outlet that runs a page dedicated to atheist readers and loads it up with character assassination pieces from wingnuts.  They follow those up with a great op-ed about how secular people need to really accept the fact that the entire core of their movement is wrong and religion is actually right.  And finally a piece on how miserable it must be to be an atheist.

It’s nice to have a page of our very own isn’t it?

Look, atheism is not a religion and atheists aren’t a “faith-group”.  You’ll never hear me or any other atheist make the kind of absurd, bullshit demands of “respect” you hear from religious people.  You’ll never hear us issuing death threats for drawing images of Christopher Hitchins or taking Dan Dennett’s name in vain.  You’ll never hear atheists demanding that anyone capitalize the H in her when they talk about Madalyn Murray O’Hair and you’ll never hear us declare war on somebody for not believing that the magical calamari really turns into the body of PZ Myers.

But I do think it’s fair to ask that we’re treated with the same respect that would be afforded to any other group of human beings.  There were no stories at all in their other “faith” sections defaming prominent figures as bigots and let’s face it, you wouldn’t have a hell of a lot of trouble finding stories like this if you were looking.  Hell, you wouldn’t have to weave together strands of suspect bullshit to get there like they did with Harris and Dawkins.

I was so angry about it that I thought about dropping the Guardian as a news source for this show altogether, but then I remembered that they were the only outlet I saw that covered last week’s exploding Spanish dildo headline, so they’re off the hook.  But it still pissed me off.

Headlines:

Joining me for headlines tonight is my hetero life-mate, Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to not have gay sex?

Let’s not do it.

In our lead story tonight, the American Humanist Association has filed a lawsuit against Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi.

Go Cougars.

The suit alleges that students endured a mandatory Christian sermon during school hours in an assembly that didn’t even have the decency to pretend it was about science or dinosaurs or something.  Instead, a representative from the Pinelake Baptist Church was invited to the school to talk about finding hope in Jesus Christ and even closed the assembly by leading the students in prayer.

Well I’m assuming there was an Imam leading a Muslim show-and-tell the week before.  They probably have all kinds of special science classes like that.  

Oh, I’m sure they do, and I’m sure they always stop the kids who try to leave, like they allegedly did at this one.  William Burgess, legal coordinator of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, points out that “when a school sponsors an event, the religious speech of the speaker… is attributable to the school [itself] and is therefore subject to the Establishment Clause,” adding, “Fucking duh!”

Are they really worried that kids in Mississippi aren’t getting any exposure to the whole Christianity thing?  Like there were kids leaving the auditorium that day, saying “You know what, I’m gonna google this Jesus guy.  See what that’s all about.”  

Died for my sins you say?

AHA files lawsuit over bullshit Christian Sermon in Mississippi school: http://www.americanhumanist.org/news/details/2013-04-humanists-file-suit-against-public-school-that-held

In other legal news, Pennsylvania judge M. Teresa Sarmina has filed a brief defending her recent decision in the trial and conviction of a Catholic church aide in a child-rape conspiracy case.  Monsignor William Lynn, the first Catholic Church official in the US to be convicted in the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests, is facing a paltry three to six years in prison and is still appealing the decision.

So he’s getting a punishment on par with stealing a car.  Systematically covering up a  decades-long righteous rape spree, or Geico makes slightly less unfair profit that quarter?  Those balance.    

Well no, according to Lynn’s attorneys, his crime was way more benign than grand theft auto.  They’re appealing the decision because the judge allowed evidence of child abuse cases that predated Lynn’s involvement with the diocese.  They argue that these details unfairly prejudiced the jury against their client.

“I didn’t start covering up those rapes until well after they clearly happened.”

Being the defense attorney here is rough . . .

I read they’re claiming that Lynn can’t be guilty of child endangerment because he didn’t actually supervise any children.  That’s like blaming the abortion on the coat hanger.

Wow… it’s hard to transition out of a back-alley abortion joke so I’m gonna carry on like it never happened.

Judge defends Church aide’s trial and conviction for child rape conspiracy: http://news.yahoo.com/pa-judge-defends-church-aides-trial-conviction-211500942.html

And turning from Catholic pedophelia to Catholic sexism, the Vatican is now officially even less progressive than Kentucky.  Former nun and current maverick, 70 year old Rosemarie Smead was ordained a priest over the vehement objections of the Roman Catholic Church.  She faces excommunication for this heinous act, but dismisses the threat as a (quote) “Medieval bullying stick the bishops use to keep control over people…”, though it was unclear whether she was referring to excommunication or Catholicism.

She claims she’s not gonna let octogenarian men tell people how to run their lives.  

Instead, she’s gonna start her own church, where a septuagenarian woman will tell people how to run their lives in the same way minus the male priest rule.  Can’t exactly use a Bible as a study guide for your feminism class.  

And according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, you can’t use the Vatican as a study guide for what Catholics believe, either.   As many as 70% of American Catholics believe that women should be allowed to be priests if for no reason than they would rather their sons were molested by women, but the church warns that allowing women to be priests might lead to beastiality and hurricanes like gay marriage.

In that sense, I’m all for having priestesses.  

Bestiality and hurricanes are both good job creators.  

And those donkey shows are another perfect example of where replacing a man with a woman is definitely an improvement.

I bet lesbian marriage becomes legal in red states before gay marriage.      

Kentucky woman ordained a priest despite Roman Catholic Church’s objections: http://news.yahoo.com/kentucky-woman-ordained-priest-defiance-roman-catholic-church-005633378.html

And in a follow up to our lead story from Episode 9, the Church of Latter Day Saints has kind-of endorsed the Boy Scouts decision to kind-of lift their ban on gays.  Despite the multiple levels of half-assedness involved in this noncommittal pseudo-endorsement, conservative Christian groups are up-in-arms as though something had actually happened.

First, to the compromise.  Facing pressure from pretty much everyone but Fred Phelps and the Ku Klux Klan, the Boy Scouts are backpedaling their 19th century stance on homosexuality by allowing gay boys to join the scouts, but not letting gay men serve as scout leaders.

This is great for preventing the hiring of scout leaders who are openly gay pedophiles.  

But I think they might be slightly underestimating the amount of in-the-closet gay pedophiles.  You know, the ones who are a little bit hush hush about being a gay pedophile during their job interview process.  

In the interest of fairness, though, the Boy Scouts make no claim that their bigotry is based on a fear that gays are pedophiles.  They just hate fags.  And speaking of hating fags, the Mormon church, the largest financial supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, has sort-of endorsed the proposal.  Recognizing this as the most anemic action they could possibly take to stem the tide of tolerance that threatens to force the Boy Scouts’ hands they issued the closest thing to an endorsement that they could get away with.

Well if the Mormons are behind it . . .

Surprising though.  Those MoMo’s are super hetero.

Having 3 wives is double-plus-ungay.

Well you’re not the only one who was surprised.  Among the bloviating, frothing bigots that have voiced opposition to this non-condemnation is one John Stemberger, head of something called “On-My-Honor(dot)com”.  He points out that the Boy Scouts resolution doesn’t address how to (I shit you not, quote) “manage and ensure the safety and security of the boys in the program.”

Now, I can’t decide here whether this asshole is wondering how they’re gonna keep the other kids from beating up the gay kids or whether he’s worrying about the gay kids butt-raping the straight kids, but the tone of the message actually suggested the latter.

Based on what I believe to be an accurate depiction of gays on TV, the 11-year-old gay rapist survival expert is definitely KNOT the issue.   

Family Research Council President and two-headed-dildo-aficionado Tony Perkins chimed in as well.  He warns that this compromise sends the message that “homosexuality is morally acceptable until a boy turns 18” and remarkably, his point wasn’t that after 18 it continues to be morally acceptable.

This guy obviously sucks, but let’s not smear the 2-headed-dildo.  Who doesn’t love Jennifer Connelly in the ass-to-ass scene in Requiem for a Dream?

Mormon’s say that Boy Scouts are still just bigoted enough: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/25/mormon-church-leaders-say-welcome-boy-scouts-proposal-to-lift-gay-ban-for-youth/ But many Christian groups say “Not so fast”: http://www.christianpost.com/news/lds-church-criticized-for-endorsing-boy-scouts-proposal-on-accepting-gay-members-94835/

And from the “If-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em” department, the Vatican has sharply criticized the Vatican for failing to prevent ongoing child rape and torture.  Proving that the Catholics are always the last ones to the conclusion, internal reports now admit massive culpability within the Vatican hierarchy for failing to do more to prevent abuse and failing to do less to ensure that it continued.

Sometimes a worldwide intervention and hundreds of millions of dollars in rape damages makes you take a look in the mirror.   

And sadly, sometimes it doesn’t.  The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Churches of Ireland couched the horror of the decades of horrendous sexual abuse in terms like “unacceptable delay”,  “risky behavior”, “unsatisfactory response” and “double-plus ungood practices”.

An unacceptable delay would be getting raped, and then in order to rape the rapist back and get some money damages, you had to fill out some paperwork at the DMV first.  Maybe a few hours.

But the message was clear and it was in keeping with the recent theme of “Internal Catholic Investigations”: We did some horrible shit, but now we’re positively awesome at not raping kids.

“There were a few, minor executive oversights, but we didn’t want to micromanage.  All the way in Rome, out of context, who were we to dictate policies to others?”

Catholic Hierarchy had “unacceptable delay” in dealing with serial child-rapist: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/apr/24/catholic-hierarchy-priests-clogher Actual report: http://static.rasset.ie/documents/2fm/clogher-report.pdf

And finally, in “Fuck Pretenses, Just Give me Money News”, Televangelist and hairpiece repository Benny Hinn is asking his listeners for two and a half million dollars to get his ministry out of debt.  Or rather, God is asking them to give the money and Benny is just the intermediary… a tool, if you will.

So there’s some mysterious benefactor who will match up to 2.5 million in donations . . .  but only during the first 90 days.  

And if you donate in the next 10 minutes, he’ll throw in this free slap chop, a 30 dollar value.

Act now, supplies of debt are limited.

Hinn, whose ministry must be about five million dollars in the red, promises his viewers that if they help god wipe out his debt, then God will help them wipe out their debt.  So basically he’s saying that if you have financial problems and you’re mired in debt, the best thing to do is give your limited resources to a guy with a private-fucking-jet.

“Yeah I’ll get you some drugs.  Give me the money and wait right here.”  

We should set up a kickstarter campaign to finance an indulgence factory.  

We could mass produce heaven stairways and easily outpace a megachurch.   

Benny Hinn is a cruel, heartless fuck: http://www.christianpost.com/news/benny-hinn-asks-followers-for-2-5-million-to-get-out-of-debt-94822/

That’ll does it for headlines tonight, thanks for joining me Heath.

And when we come back, author and activist Darrel Ray will join us to talk dirty to me.

Skit:

(Rustling Papers)

“…hm… who’s next on the list here… oh, Yahweh.”

(Button push, beep)

“Tonya, can you send in Yahweh, please?”

(Door opens)

God, God, come on in… yeah, just leave the door open, that’s fine..  Here, have a seat.

(creaking seat)

Yeah, that chair’s not as comfortable as the throne you’re used to, I’m sure.

Now, I suppose this is going to be kind of an awkward meeting, what with my fragile human form being unable to withstand the awesome power of your voice and all but honestly, in this instance, it’s probably better if I do all the talking anyway.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that we’re not very happy with your performance.  Your last several centuries of performance reviews have been well below standard and I think we all knew that this day was coming.

I mean… all we have to do is look over your performance history.  There was a time when you were first appointed… you were flooding the world, parting seas, turning people to salt, raining down frogs… you were a go-getter!  You were a god’s god.

But now what do we get out of you?  We’ve got the AIDS epidemic in Africa, we’ve got nuclear proliferation, climate change and what are you doing?  You’re taking the wheel!  You’re finding people’s car keys.  Finding car keys, god, really?  Did you think I wouldn’t find out about that?  You’re omniscient and you couldn’t think of anything better to do with your time?

I know you work in mysterious ways.  You said that in your resume and we accepted it because of the whole omnipotence thing, but I’ve gotta be honest, here lately it seems like you’re resting on all seven days.

I’m looking back over it and I can’t find a significant achievement for you in over 1800 years!  You’re averaging less than a miracle a millenia, bro.  I’ve got saints doing better than that.  You know I’ve always been in your corner.  I fought for you since the beginning.  Every day’s a thousand years but you still wanted a day off and I fought for you on that one.  I’ve been fighting for you since the day we hired you and to be frank, lately you’re just embarrassing me, and I don’t think that’s too harsh a statement.

I think we both know where this is going and I want to make it as easy as possible.  You’re still under contract so we’ll pay that off, but we’re gonna have Ricky Gervais step in as interim god until we can permanently fill the position.  So just leave your keys to the pearly gates with Tonya and if you need a letter of recommendation, you have my number.

Alright, thank you very much.  Close the door on your way out please.

(door closes)

Whew… that went better than I expected.  Damn, I should have done that centuries ago.

 

Outro:

We’ve only got a couple of minutes left and apparently we had a pretty error-ridden show last week so I’ve gotta make a few quick corrections before we close things out.  Most of the mistakes came in the Holy Babble segment and most of it was stuff like saying Jacob when I meant Joseph or saying brothers instead of sons.  For that I apologize and we’ll try to do better, but one way or the other I wouldn’t recommend using this show as a stand alone source for the bible.

There was one major correction I wanted to make.  We got duped into reporting on essentially an Onion headline last week.  The story about the Christian couple who maintained their abstinence for years after marriage was a gag piece from Lark News and if I’d made any attempt to vet it I’d have figured that out.  That’s a huge fail on my part and I want to apologize for it.  We’re not exactly a “hard news” show, but that doesn’t excuse me from my due diligence as a newscaster and I owe you better than that.  Without some modicum of journalistic integrity we’ll devolve into CNN reporting in the wake of a disaster.

Also wanted to  throw a quick shout out to our incredibly awesome Canadian listeners, who apparently pushed our show all the way up into the top 100 of all podcasts on the Canadian iTunes ranks for a couple of days last month.  Excellent job, Canadians.  If listening to the Scathing Atheist was an olympic event, you’d be the team to beat.

Obviously I want to extend a huge thanks to Darrel Ray for such an informative and entertaining interview.  Also need to thank Jake-Farr Wharton of the Imaginary Friends Show dot Com Podcast for providing tonight’s Farnsworth quote.  He’s got a great podcast if you haven’t checked it out.  It’s kind of like ours only more informed and in Australian.  We’ll have a link to it in the shownotes, but I trust our listeners to be able to puzzle out where to go to find the Imaginary Friends Show dot Com Podcast.  Need to thank Heath as always.  Also want to thank all the listeners who sent in emails, especially the ones that include news items to make my life easier.  Thank so much for taking the time out to help.

But most of all we’ve gotta thank our very favorite listeners of the week, John, Michael and Evan, who gave us money.  Giving us money is a noble and moral act that brings peace and joy to all and we are all indebted to John, Michael and Evan for their heroic selflessness. Oh, and Evan, it went to a bottle of Laphroaig, but it was for before we recorded, not after.

Remember, if you’d like to prove your virtuous nature in the only way that really counts anymore, you too can donate to our show by clicking on the “Donate” button on the right side of the homepage at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.  Every little bit helps, but every big bit helps a lot more.

And if you want to help but have taken a vow of poverty, you can always help us spread the word by leaving a review on iTunes.  Those ratings and reviews do wonders to help us build our audience and they really make my day as well.

That does it for us tonight, but if you can’t get enough of us, be sure to check out our erratically published blog, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to us on YouTube, like us on Facebook and check us out on Stitcher.  Seriously.  Because all the other atheist podcasts on Stitcher are making fun of us.

If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info on the Contact Page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.  All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

Belittling Christians

April 2, 2013 35 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Sometimes people say, “Noah, you belittle Christians a lot.”

And I respond, “Yeah, I do my best.”

So no, I’ll be offering no apology for it here or anywhere else in the foreseeable future.  When people point out that I belittle Christians, I respond the same way that an Olympic sprinter would respond if somebody asked her why she was in such a hurry… After all, that’s kind of the point.

Now, there are those that would say that this is counterproductive.  They say that the caustic brand of atheism I subscribe to is antithetical to the goals of minimizing the role of religion in society.  They present a “circle-the-wagons” mentality that I might inspire if I’m too insulting.  They point out that the more attainable goals of keeping religion out of science class and the courtroom can be hamstrung by the more grandiose goal of stamping out organized religion altogether.

And what’s more, they might be right.  I still don’t care.

My goal as an atheist activist is to marginalize religion.  I work toward a world where anybody who believes in something without evidence is embarrassed to admit it in public.  I want reason by way of shame.

I think it’s a sad commentary on our culture that my unwavering belief that all truth-claims should be subjected to the same scrutiny puts me in the extreme wing of a minority.  That shouldn’t be a bold stance. It should be nearly unthinkable to take any other stance and that’s precisely what I seek.

To be fair, I’ll concede that it’s entirely possible to take that stance without belittling anyone.  A lot of skeptics do yeoman’s work by patiently walking sasquatch hunters, UFOlogists and homeopaths through the ladder of logic without a hint of condescension.  I admire that ability but I do not share it.

And of course, many skeptics are crass and dismissive of nonsense like sasquatch hunters, UFOs and homeopathy.  They don’t bother to spare anyone’s feelings and simply treat it like the demonstrable bullshit that it is.  In the skeptical movement the battle between “soft” and “hard” is a hell of a lot more muted than the one in the atheist movement, but it’s still there.  Some people just insist that the “kill-them-with-kindness” approach is the only valid one.

Many much wiser observers than me have pointed out that there probably isn’t one “valid” approach, so I’m not going to spend any time retreading that ground, but there is something I’d like to offer to the kindness camp.  Sure, it’s an anecdote and can thus be easily dismissed, but I think it’s illustrative of the justification behind the approach that I share with a number of other scathing atheists.

Arrogance is a powerful force.  Those of us who like to think or ourselves as intelligent don’t like to be told we’re stupid.  It’s the only insult that really gets under the skin of some people.  Now, when somebody says, “you disagree with me so you’re stupid” it’s meaningless, but if someone you respect intellectually lumps your beliefs in with a bunch of the other “stupid” ones, that has an impact.

I’m not saying there’s anyone out there that respects me intellectually, but there are a number of learned men and women in both the atheist and skeptical movements who sport intellects that are beyond reproach.  An intellectually arrogant person hearing that his beliefs are stupid from those people will have an effect.

Now sure, some people are arrogant enough to just toss off the insult and say, “what does that ivy-league professor know?”, but those people are all-but unreachable.  But for many if not most intellectually arrogant people, the root of the arrogance was real intelligence.  And there are plenty of intelligent, arrogant people out there that still believe in some really silly stuff.

Those people are vulnerable to the caustic attack.  I know because that’s how I arrived here.  I got to atheism through simple observation and the correct application of logic, but I became a skeptic and (more importantly) a skeptical activist because somebody with an intellect I admire told me I was a dumb-ass.  And what’s more, he didn’t try to cater to my ego by telling me how okay it was to still believe this dumb-ass belief.

Now I know that the research shows that most people are far more inclined to listen to and consider your viewpoint if you’re non-confrontational and I recognize that, generally speaking, this is the optimum approach.  Hell, it’s the one I usually employ when I’m talking to someone in person.  But just because it’s the most widely applicable approach doesn’t mean it’s the only correct one.  A person like myself would never be swayed by it, as they would take the agreeable demeanor as a sign of intellectual uncertainty.  They would toss off anything you said that didn’t crack the armor of their intellectual arrogance and the only way to do that is to be caustic.

My mother told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything.  And a lot of people have told me the same thing since.  I get it.  I disagree.  I feel that it would be intellectually dishonest to say anything nice and it would be socially irresponsible to stay silent.

And if you disagree with my approach, that’s fine.  I strongly encourage you to get involved and run as far in the opposite direction as possible.  We need all the help we can get.  And I believe that we also need all the types of help we can get.

Start Digging

March 31, 2013 6 comments

by Noah Lugeons

StartDigging

The nature of most religious arguments is doomed from the start.  It amazes me how often I’ll theoretically concede a point just to point out that even then, they’ve done nothing to prove their point.  I will say, in effect, “You’re not right, but even if you were right, you still wouldn’t be right.”

How many religious debates hinge on things that barely crack the 3rd layer of the diagram above?  How often does the would-be apologist fail to even break the surface?  Arguing against evolution, the big bang, the secular root for morality, the existence of this or that miracle… none of this would even make it into the red.

It’s a really indicator of just how soundly we’re winning the debate.  At one time the best we could hope for was to stand in the yellow and argue with the folks in the orange.  Before Darwin, most learned men and women (and how woefully few learned women there were then) had to stand in the red and argue against the yellow.

But as empiricism charges forward, the mental-missionaries find themselves in constant retreat.  When they pick away at tiny nuggets of their own ignorance about evolution or abiogenesis, they’re breaking their pick-axes against the blue.  It’s gotten so bad for them that if they can convince one poor sap to even momentarily doubt evolution, they consider it a victory.  Never mind that this does nothing to prove superstition, theism, religion or their own personal religion.  They’re breaking out the party hats if they can simply convince someone to think perhaps something someone else told them might be flawed.

Episode 2 Transcript:

January 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the world’s top-selling spiritual supplement, “5 Hour Piety”.  So if you’re desperate to go to church but you’re still carrying the stench of Saturday night’s heroin, Wild Turkey and underage hooker sweat, reach for a bottle of Five Hour Piety.  Hours of virtue now, no Jeremiah 2:13 feeling later.  And NOW, the SCATHING ATHEIST.

INTRO

It’s Thursday, It’s January 31st and it’s hard out there for a Pope.  I’m your host Noah Lugeons and THIS is the Scathing Atheist.  On this fortnight’s episode, we’ll find a catholic priest who might be going to jail for something other than molesting children, we’ll look forward to the big game and figure out why Christian athletes always forget to thank god for helping them lose and Heath Enwright will join us for a seven and a half minute segment that includes no fewer than 85 poop jokes.  But first, the Diatribe…

DIATRIBE

The numbers are in and once again in 2012, the world’s third largest religion was “Give me a fucking break”.  In the recent pew survey on the global religious landscape, roughly one in six people identify with no religion at all; which puts the worldwide number of non-religious at well over a billion.

Numbers in the US are actually significantly better than the worldwide average.  About one-fifth of Americans now claim “no religion”.  That’s an increase of 25% over the last five years and it’s up from basically zero when they introduced color TV.

And as bad as this looks for the imaginary friends camp, it’s actually much worse.  When you break down the demographics, the non-believers are more plentiful the younger you go.  Nearly a third of Americans between 18 and 29 have kicked the habit-habit and the numbers are likely even higher for the under-18 category.  Add to that the fact that religious people have a head start on senility and you can see where this is going.

And make no mistake, the divine-osaurs have seen it too.  Their pathetic attempts to rationalize away the preface to their obituary are clogging the blogosphere like digital-cholesterol.  They point to signs in some polls (but not others) that show that the rise in irreligion might be leveling off.  They go all Orwellian and try to make “no religion” somehow mean “still pretty religious”.  They rant and rave and try desperately to maintain some modicum of relevance in a world that’s already been to the heavens and brought back pictures.

But to be fair, I’ve seen a few atheists misrepresenting these data as well so let’s be clear on exactly what the numbers do and don’t say.  In the recent Gallup poll, they asked respondents “What is your religious preference?” and then offered these choices:

  • Protestant
  • Roman Catholic
  • Mormon
  • Jewish
  • Muslim
  • Another Religion, or
  • No Religion.

When faced with that question in 2012, 17.8% of people answered “No Religion” or refused to answer.  And according to Pew’s annual study, we’re actually doing better.

The current media narrative on the “nones” is that most of these people aren’t atheists, but rather seekers, doubters and temporary apostates.  But the fact remains that they answered “no religion” and the effective definition of atheist is “person with no religion”.  Sure, these numbers include agnostics and those people who say that they’re “spiritual” and then can’t say exactly what the fuck that means.  Only about 2% of people are actually willing to identify themselves as “atheists”.

Of course, a lot of the noncommittal are dictionary atheists.  They’re people like Neil Degrasse Tyson who is quick to say that he’s not an atheist, but he doesn’t remotely believe in god or a spirit or any of those things one needs to believe in to not be an atheist.  A lot of these people are atheists that simply don’t want to get lumped in with assholes like me.

Some are just atheists who’ve been convinced that there’s some intellectual nobility in riding the fence.  They think that agnosticism is the logical default position when it comes to God.  But look, I’m not willing to say with absolute “gnostic” certainty that I’m not going to get raped by bigfoot tonight, so maybe in a technical sort of way I’m agnostic about it, but I’m certainly not living my life with non-consensual sasquatch-sodomy as even the remotest concern.  So am I a bigfoot-rape agnostic or a big-foot rape atheist?  And when the chips are down, is there any difference?

But as much as we make in the godless community about the technical differences between agnostics and atheists, that’s not really where the nomenclature becomes a problem.  I call it the “agnostic gambit”.  What many of them are saying is “I’m an atheist as long as it doesn’t piss anybody off.  I’m an atheist but I don’t want to argue about it.  I’m an atheist as long as it doesn’t interfere with my chances of getting hired (slash) promoted (slash) laid.”

I understand where that comes from, but it has to change.

When I look at that 18% of non-religious, non-atheist respondents, I see opportunity.  I see the target market for our devangelism.  I see a group of people who are ready to have the conversation, ready to embrace the certainty, ready to hear exactly what we have to say.  We may only be 2%, but keep in mind that that’s still six million people.

You’re never going to convert a devout 45 year old evangelical with a logical discussion, but a twenty-something wavering skeptic is ripe for reason.  We shouldn’t be ashamed to devangelize.  We shouldn’t hesitate to defend ours as the only logically coherent position.

I’m not suggesting you go out and knock on doors, hand out blank pamphlets and ask people “Are you prepared for the eventuality that you just die?” (Although incidentally, if you do, please send me the youtube link.).  What I am suggesting that next time you hear someone say that they’re “spiritual” or “agnostic” or whatever, don’t be afraid to put on your best salesman smile and give them the pitch for atheism.

There’s a marketplace out there where people are selling “truth” every day.  I’m just saying that I think the people who are actually telling the truth should get in on it.

Global Numbers: http://www.pewforum.org/global-religious-landscape-exec.aspx

National Numbers: http://www.pewforum.org/unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

HEADLINES

Hoping that the 4th time’s the charm, Missouri State Representatives have resurrected a piece of unconstitutional legislation that was already defeated in 2012 and twice in 2004.  House Bill 291, or “The Missouri Standard Science Act” was introduced on January 23rd and seeks to require “the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design”.

Arguing that requiring science class to carry equal amounts of science and religious bullshit is something of a nationwide trend with Missouri joining Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma in introducing similar bills.

Lawmakers unconvincingly argue that there’s nothing religious about discussing religious theories in science class, so apparently the “not lying commandment” is less important than the not believing in biology one.

http://ncse.com/news/2013/01/intelligent-design-bill-missouri-0014690

Not to be outdone, Arizona Republicans have proposed a law that would withhold a graduating high school student’s diploma unless he or she took an oath swearing fealty to God.

To be fair, the oath is actually the Uniformed Services Oath, which ends with the lines “So Help Me God”.  Of course, it also includes the words “I take this obligation freely”, so one way or the other it’s a pretty stupid thing to require people to say.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/25/arizona-republicans-propose-bill-that-would-not-allow-atheists-to-graduate-high-school/

Archdiocese of Milwaukee is seeking Bankruptcy protection.  Spokesperson, oh, I’m sorry, they’re Catholic… Spokesman Jerry Topczewski says that their savings, reserves and investment earnings have all been exhausted and it will be unable to pay its monthly operating expenses beginning in April.

Some observers cite the poor economy for the church’s troubles, others cite lower church attendance.  Still others point to the more than 9 MILLION dollars the archdiocese has paid in legal fees and settlements in relation to an unending stream of sexual abuse litigation.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/archdiocese-of-milwaukee_n_2550425.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles made headlines when recently released documents prove that higher ups in the church went to great lengths to cover-up instances of child sexual abuse and worked to ensure that the abuse continued by moving priests into new, unsuspecting congregations.

In a related story, the sun rose in the east yesterday.

http://www.goddiscussion.com/106609/los-angeles-church-shields-child-molesting-priests-covered-up-incidents/

In other “What-the-Fuck-is-wrong-with-Catholic-Priests?” news, Monsignor Kevin Wallin was arrested in a drug bust in Connecticut on January 3rd.  Authorities allege that this 61 year old, cross-dressing priest was selling upwards of $9,000 worth of Meth a week, laundering the money through his North Haven sex-toy emporium.

If convicted, he could face life in prison, where his experience with cross-dressing and sex-toys should be well appreciated.

http://www.goddiscussion.com/106510/alleged-meth-dealing-priest-arrested-in-connecticut-in-drug-ring-bust-liked-sex-in-rectory-according-to-sources/

Proving that you don’t have to be Catholic to be a conspiratorial pedophile, Hasidic leader Nechemya Weberman was sentenced last week to 103 years in prison for 59 counts of criminal sexual acts, abuse and child endangerment.

A popular and influential leader in the ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect, Weberman was convicted of abusing a girl over a three year period in a Brooklyn neighborhood where he worked as an unlicensed religious counselor.

After years of trying to bribe, discredit and bully the accuser, the Satmar community, which largely stood with the child-torturing rapist in the belief that such things should be dealt with inside the community, was ultimately unable to cover up the crime.

This case gives new hope to the unknown number of abuse victims in the community that are still seeking justice.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/22/new-york-hasidic-leader-gets-103-years-for-abuse/

In other legal news, the Supreme Court has declined last Tuesday to hear the case of three North Carolina men given excessive sentences by a religious zealot (slash) judge.  Brothers Josiah and Andrew Deyton and friend Jonathon Koniak plead guilty to 11 counts of armed robbery with a deadly weapon.   Their heist netted about $3000.  During the robbery a gun was discharged, but nobody was hurt.

They were sentenced to between 53 and 71 years in prison.  The reason for the extreme length of the sentence was, or rather, most certainly was not, the fact that the three chose as their target the Ridgeview Presbyterian Church in Bakersville, North Carolina.

Apparently the Supreme Court believes that the judge’s religious feelings were not a factor in his harsh judgment, despite the fact that during the sentencing he was quoted as saying, “You didn’t just steal money from those people.  You took God’s money.  You took the Lord’s money.”  This revelation, in my mind, would suggest that it was a victimless crime, but apparently the judge felt differently.

http://news.yahoo.com/did-judge-insert-religious-views-case-supreme-court-163339659.html

The Supreme Court also declined hearing the case of Rob Sherman, an atheist activist who was trying to block the state of Illinois from appropriate $20,000 of tax payer money to restore a giant cross that sits atop Southern Illinois’ highest peak.

Apparently the justices also see nothing religious about a gaudy, 11-story, 63 foot wide, fully illuminated symbol of the Christian faith that can be seen from 50 miles away.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/24/after-lengthy-battle-supreme-court-declines-atheists-case-rules-in-favor-of-illinois-politician-to-give-20000-to-christian-group/

And now it’s time for an update on the number one threat facing humanity today.  Montage of crazy You-Tube preachers, would you care to guess what it is? {Sound insert} No, I’m sorry, Condoms was the right answer.  We were looking for Condoms.

In the Vatican’s indefatigable effort to defeat common sense contraception in over-populated parts of the world, the church is now attacking a new law in the Philippines that would provide free access to contraception to every citizen.

Luckily for the Philippines, the Catholic Church isn’t in charge and the people are pushing back against this stone-age dictate.  Speaking to a reporter from the Calgary Herald, 30-year-old roadside vendor Giselle Labadan summed it up better than I could ever hope to, saying “I have prayed before not to have another child, but the condom worked better.”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/01/18/in-the-philippines-the-catholic-church-is-hastening-its-own-demise/

A recent study from the California based Barna group shows that a majority of Americans are worried that religious freedoms will erode in the next 5 to 10 years.  If you pair it down to only the religious respondents, a slight majority say that religious freedoms have already eroded.  This is interesting because that’s not an opinion based thing.  It’s either true or it isn’t.  And it isn’t.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/most-americans-think-religious-freedom-fast-declining-in-us-88542/

Atheist Census

http://www.atheistcensus.com/

That’s it for headlines, when we come back, we’ll discuss one of the most controversial theories in all of Christian Apologetics.

CALENDAR

It’s time now for the Atheist Calendar portion of the show.  I promised on the last episode that we’d be covering some international festivals and conventions on this episode and I’m a man of my word.  We’ll get started with a couple of Skepti-Camp events.  If you’ve never been to one of these events, well, join the club.  I’ve hear good things, though, so even having never been to one, I feel confident in highly recommending them.

We’ll start out down under because who couldn’t use a little summer right in the middle of winter?  On February 9th in the beautiful Aireys Inlet just southwest of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road Skeptics are hosting the Surfcoast Summer Skepticamp.  Sun, surf, science and secular skepticism in the middle of February… if anything’s worth a 20 hour flight, that might just be it.

http://www.eventbrite.com.au/event/5064686614/eorg

If you’ll be in the wrong hemisphere for that one or just prefer cold and ice to warmth and sand, perhaps you can make it to Skepticamp Ottawa on Febraury 24th.  It’ll start at 1 pm and run until 6.  The day will consist of a series of 15 minute talks by a variety of skeptics with the final lineup still being hashed out.

http://www.skepticamp.org/wiki/SkeptiCamp_Ottawa_2013

On the weekend of April 13th we’ve got an all-star event in Manchester, England.  The QED is a two day conference on Science and Skepticism and will feature a who’s-who of atheist and secular speakers including (but not limited to) Ben Goldacre, Lawrence Krauss, Natalie Haynes and the paragon of gnu-atheism, Richard Dawkins.  Unfortunately this one’s already sold out, so if you’re just hearing about it now, it’s way too late.

http://qedcon.org/

We’ve got two big events in May.  For my German speaking listeners, you can check out the 22nd Skeptics Congress in Cologne from May 9th to the 11th.

http://www.gwup.org/

For those who prefer their atheism in English, we have “Imagine No Religion 3” on the following weekend in Kamloops, British Columbia.  This event features Dan Dennett, DJ Grothe, Mr. Deity and some people whose names don’t start with D as well.

http://inr3.eventbrite.ca/

Finally, beginning on June 7th and running to the 9th, we’ve got the British Humanists Association Annual Convention in Leeds.  They’re still hammering out the lineup, and, of course, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more about this one.

http://bhaconference.org.uk/

As always, you can find more information, including links to the homepage for each of these events on the show-notes for this episode at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

BIG-GAME PRAYER ADVICE (full version)

Heath Enwright will be joining be momentarily for an apologetics segment that’ll include the classiest run of poop jokes in Podcasting history, but first I thought we’d turn our attention to the Big Game coming up on Sunday.

There are three things I feel confident expecting: Some elusive play-making from San Francisco’s dynamic sophomore quarterback; some high speed, brutal hits from the rejuvenated Ravens defense and some egocentric Christian athletes thanking God when they do well and then forgetting all about him when they lose.

Of course, many people see thanking God for their success as a humble gesture and I’m sure that’s how the majority of these athletes see it as well.  But to me, it’s the quintessence of arrogance to think that an all-powerful, all-knowing, father-of-all-things would have chosen to favor you over the defensive linemen during your touchdown run.  After all, isn’t it this same “God likes me better” attitude that justifies all the wars religion starts?

I sympathize with the religious athlete, though.  I can understand what it must be like to have your whole career dependent on a series of ultimately chaotic plays where centimeters can be the difference between mediocrity and glory.  A wide receiver can practice 12 hours a day in the off-season, study tape for weeks before the game, perfect his routes and know every play backwards and forwards, but none of that helps if the Quarterback overthrows him or the corner makes a spectacular play on a well-thrown ball.  All his preparation can be rendered worthless by a mistake of less than an inch, but what’s more, it doesn’t have to be his mistake.

So, when we’re faced with a situation that we can’t control, many of us turn to magic and bullshit in a fruitless attempt to control it anyway.  The whole institution of religion is built on exactly that so it’s no wonder that a lot of these people turn to God and it’s no wonder why most of these teams have a prayer before the game.  You can’t actually control every aspect of the game, so you might as well pretend that you can then pretend that you did and then put it out of your mind.

Sometimes this backfires, sure.  If you actually start believing this shit you’ll accidentally start wars, inter-factional bigotry, oppression of women and minorities, opposition to science, fear of gays and suicide bombings.  And of course, at best it’s a waste of time, so your best bet is to accept that praying is stupid and move on, but some people are clearly unwilling to do that.

But even amongst those of us who have, sometimes sports can be the exception.  I’ve heard an atheist football fanatic chanting to the screen, “Interception… Interception… or just sack that bastard and knock them out of field goal range at least!”  Now what is that if not a prayer?  Sure, he might not say, “Please God, just that bastard and knock them out of field goal range in Jesus name, Amen”, but it’s the same basic concept.  Of course, the atheist probably doesn’t think that his chant has any magical powers or anything, but he still does it.  Or she.  But probably he.

And think of all the silly little superstitions that sports still bring out in people.  How many otherwise rational skeptics start crossing their fingers and turning their hats inside out when their team is down?  How many generally rational or at least semi-rational athletes stop shaving or changing their socks (slash) underwear in some vain attempt to dupe fate into favoring them?

Now, obviously, I don’t believe in any of this crap or I wouldn’t be qualified to host this podcast.  I tried out every stupid religion or pseudo-religion I could find for a while and found that science was the only thing that seemed less like a complete load of shit as I learned more about it.  I cast away the demons of faith and magic a long time ago, but along the way, I did learn an awful lot about it.

And of course, the majority of people in this country and this world still do believe in this gobbledygook.  They believe that somehow that some inter-dimensional, omnipotent space man will personally reach down from heaven and directly influence the outcome of what even I as a football fanatic will admit is a pretty silly competition.  They believe that while he can’t seem to be bothered to end all the wars or cure all the diseases or do any of those things one would expect even the most derelict of inter-dimensional, omnipotent space men to do, he will nevertheless find the time to see to it that Ray Rice hit’s that first down marker or that Michael Crabtree gets both feet down inbounds.

Because I’m an atheist, of course, there’s nothing “absolute” about my beliefs.  I have a pretty scientific approach to the world and I try to maintain the ability to change even my most cherished beliefs if new evidence appears that contradicts them.  And while I don’t hold out any “hope” that God exists, I am willing to occasionally grant, for rhetorical purposes, that the possibility of him existing are greater than absolute zero.

So I figured that as a person who (a) knows a little bit about a lot of religions, (b) doesn’t believe in any of them and can thus speak from a detached perspective and (c) is willing to grant for rhetorical purposes that the possibility of God’s existence is non-zero, I’m uniquely qualified to offer the religious and otherwise superstitious folks of the world some advice if they’re going to be doing any pre-Superbowl praying.

  1. Pray with Pizazz – You figure, if there is a God (and there isn’t), he’s getting pelted with a million contradictory prayers before a big game like this.  You gotta make your prayer stand out.  Iambic pentameter is a must but if you really want to get his attention, make that shit rhyme.  He’ll appreciate the effort.
  2. Be specific – If you’ve ever seen any of those angel movies (and for your sake I hope you haven’t) you’ll know that God’s a trick little fucker when it comes to teaching us larger lessons and what-not.  Make it clear that you want the Ravens to win, but you want them to cover the 3 and a half point spread as well.
  3. Don’t Pray to Jesus – I know, I know, you’re Christian and praying to Jesus is kind of your thing, but trust me on this one.  Everybody and their mother are praying to Jesus and he’s not even a football fan.  So fifty million people pray to Jesus and each of them gets one fifty millionth of his devotion.  But if you’re praying to the Gurzil, Alala or the Etruscan God “Larau”, you’ve probably got their undivided attention.  And those dudes love some pigskin.  And that lead me to…
  4. Pick the Right God – It’s not going to do you much good to pray for a Niners victory if you’re praying to a God who’s a Baltimore fan, right?  Now clearly you never really know who a God is pulling for, but you can make some pretty educated guesses, right?  I mean, if you’re a Ravens fan, pray to Odin.  He loves Ravens.  Seriously, just ask Huginn and Muninn.  Who are Huginn and Muninn? Odin’s fucking Ravens.
  5. Burn Some Shit – Seriously, go all out.  Don’t just put two hands together.  You need to inscribe a circle of salt on the floor, burn some incense in a copper bowl, sacrifice a rabbit and whip yourself to you bleed.  I can’t restate this enough: Everybody is praying.  You’ve got to be praying harder.
  6. Spread the Love Around – Why pray to one god when you can pray to two, three or eighty six?  If you’re going to waste time babbling to fictional characters, why not waste as much time as possible?  Don’t stop at Gods either.  Seriously, praying to Superman, Steven Spielberg and Hanna Montana are every bit as effective, so you might as well toss them in as well.

After all, if you’re not willing to pray to every imaginable God, follow the rituals and sacrifices described for them exactly, devote endless hours to it and self-flagellate, haven’t you already admitted that prayer is bullshit?

THE SHIT-PORN PARADOX

From time to time on this show, I’ll be setting aside a few minutes to tackle some of the more common apologetics arguments and a few of the paradoxes that arise in a world with an all-knowing, all loving God.  On this episode, Heath Enwright had rejoined us to tackle one such debate, known in academic circles as the “Shit-Porn Irregularity” or the “Shit-Porn Inconsistency”.  Heath, fill us in on the basics of this debate.

Sure thing Noah.  In the Shit-Porn paradox, the skeptic argues that a universe in which God and Shit-Porn coexist is logically untenable.  It was first proposed by the Greek Philosopher Heap o’ Crappus who noted that if an all-powerful and omnibenevolent God did exist, shit porn would not.  Since shit porn does exist, it follows that an all-powerful and omnibenevolent god must not.

And what of the classic rebuttal to the Problem of Evil that suggests that God is simply allowing us to prove that we are incapable of ruling ourselves before he cures the world of Shit-Porn?

Well, the “Jehovah’s Shitness” defense can’t really be applied to the Shit-Porn Paradox.  The existence of Shit-Porn shows that we’ve already crossed any reasonable line of depravity.  Nobody can say where the line should be drawn exactly, but all philosophers agree that it should be drawn before Shit-Porn popped out.

Now, apologists haven’t taken this lying face down, they’ve pushed back against this intrusion in a number of ways, haven’t they?

Right, they weren’t just going to let this pass.  Early apologists had a spotty record dealing with this paradox.  At first, they tried to argue that shit porn didn’t exist.  For a time that was the accepted defense, but in his seminal work “The Fecal Fallacy: Evidence for Shit-Porn”, Reverend Corholius Pile pointed to little known works such as Armegeddon Shit On, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turdholes and Stools of Engagement as unambiguous evidence that shit porn did, in fact, exist.

And of course, as we all know, his work was famously attacked by Cardinal Deficatus in his number two theodicy commonly called “The Poophole Loophole”, which was basically a much less watered down version of his number one theodicy.

Yes, the Shit-Porn Debate was buried for centuries until Deficatus stepped back into it in the late 1700s.  He argued that Shit Porn might actually represent a higher good of which we are unaware; perhaps saving the participants from later digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diverticulitis.

I see where he’s going there, but couldn’t an all powerful God find a way to insure a high fiber diet for these people without having to resort to Shit-Porn?

Deficatus’ theodicies weren’t meant to redirect the argument.  What they do do is soften it.  They suggest that Shit-Porn might be a necessary kernel in the proper functioning of the human social unit.  Could true purity exist in a world without Shit-Porn to counterbalance it?  Could it be that without overcoming the lurid temptation of Shit-Porn, a soul could never achieve true communion with the Holy Spirit?

Of course, today’s apologists have stepped away from that line of argument altogether, isn’t that right?

Modern day shitologists hold their noses at it, yeah.  The Poophole Loophole defense was really wiped away in the late 19th century when philosophers on both sides came to agree that Shit-Porn was too vile to be compatible with a loving God.  While earlier works such as The Princess Diarrheas and Poop Fiction could be justified on the merit of their social commentary, the late 1800s saw the rise of titles like Number 2 Fast, Number 2 Furious and Mr. Smith Goes to Wash His Ass; heinous anus-related depictions of fecophelia that would have made Richard Gere blush.  It was impossible to continue to argue that such depravity was part of God’s plan.

So what was the next real movement in the debate?

The whole thing really erupted again when noted British Philosopher Dr. Dick Brown took a back door approach to the question.  There are three premises in the Shit-Porn paradox that apologists can attack: One is that Shit-Porn exists.  Number two is that a world without Shit-Porn is preferable to a world with Shit-Porn.  Attacks on those two premises had failed in the past.

But Brown took a different approach?

Brown looked at the third premise; that an omniscient God could create a world without Shit-Porn.

But if God is powerless against Shit-Porn, how can he still be all powerful?

Brown’s approach was to suggest God himself was a Shit-Porn and that if he were to rid the universe of Shit-Porn altogether, he would also have to remove himself from the universe.

And as popular as it was with laymen, a lot of his colleagues said he really didn’t know shit.  In fact, this theory stained his academic reputation considerably, didn’t it?

Stained him?  It damn near wrecked him.

So do modern day theologians still wrestle with this shit?

I guess the most familiar example of the modern argument is the Shit-or-be-Shit counterpoint first offered by American philosopher Ann L. Bead.

And for those who haven’ turd of her before, tell us who Dr. Bead was.

She had a number of duties at the Pew Public Policy Forum and briefly held the Lucasian Stool at Cambridge.

And her later career was absolutely covered in shit, isn’t that right?

It was.

Tell us what she piled on to the existing debate.

Bead proposes a mental exercise where someone was about to accidentally watch Shit-Porn and you could prevent it by shitting on them.  Now, most people would agree that shitting on someone is justified in certain conditions.

If they were on fire, for example.

Or if they were singing “Whoop it Gangnam Style”, yes.  But Bead takes the analogy one step further.  What if you could prevent someone from watching Shit-Porn by Shitting on them, but someone was watching you and they were masturbating at the time?  Would you then be Shit-Porn?  Would it still be a moral act?

Well, as interesting a nugget as that is, I don’t see how it relates to the larger debate.

Here, Bead is straining to push through an analogy that spreads the blame around a bit without smearing it on God.  Basically, she’s asking if we can know the true cost of Shit-Porn from a purely mortal perspective.  The idea is that if you can introduce one instance of justifiable Shit-Porn, it stands to reason that God might have a higher purpose in allowing it to exist.

And given God’s well documented opposition to homosexuality, how does Bead’s argument hold up against gay Shit-Porn?

Great question.  Some say that might be the fatal flaw in her argument.  The whole thing really craps out when you start considering titles like Charlie in My Chocolate Factory or Jock, Cock and Two Steaming Barrels… and a cup.

So having weighed the arguments on both sides, what do you think it all says about God’s existence?

While it’s easy to argue that their might have been a divine touch in films such as The Turdman of Alcatraz, Fahrenheit 98.6 and Dark Shitty, I believe that films like Starship Poopers, Deuce Almighty and 21 Dump Street prove definitively that God is a load of shit.

EMAILS & COMMENTS

I want to close the show out today by responding to a few emails I got regarding our inaugural episode.

First a quick correction: last fortnight I accidentally referred to the American Atheists’ Annual Convention as the “Reason Rally”, which is, of course, incorrect.  I had “from the people that brought us last year’s Reason Rally” written in the notes and managed to skip a line when I recorded it.  Thanks to Doug in Jacksonville for pointing it out.

I also wanted to acknowledge an e-mail we received from a listener that didn’t leave their name.  They were curious about my penis size and wondered if I’d like to enlarge it with an herbal supplement.  So to this listener, look… I’m not sure what you’ve heard but I have a really small wife, so I think I’m good, but thanks for the concern.

And finally, I wanted to offer an apology to someone who commented on the blog in response to a post I put up a while back about how much of an asshole God must be if he exists (which he doesn’t).  Autumn writes:

“Your points are very valid, but like most atheists you’re defining god as the Abrahamic god, a fatal error for your credibility. All you’ve put to shame is Christianity which isn’t very hard to do, and says nothing about the idea of god in general.”

The criticism was invalid, as the opening line of the post was “I sometimes argue with Christians” so I think I made it pretty clear that all I was tackling in this post was the Abrahamic God.  That being said, I do want to apologize to Autumn for not putting her definition of God to shame as well.

Since the most convenient defense against having your beliefs eviscerated is failing to precisely define them, it might be some time before I happen upon whatever wishy-washy, evidence free incarnation of a logically impossible creative, theistic force you happen to subscribe to.  Just be assured that I’m working on it and I’ll get to you as soon as possible.  If you’d like to speed up the process, feel free to take me up on the long standing invitation to tell me exactly what your definition of God is.

That’ll do it for this episode.  Be sure to check us out next fortnight for a special Valentine’s Day episode that’ll feature full frontal nudity.   I want to thank Heath Enwright for joining me tonight and I’d also like to thank Zach, Nesbitt, Josh, Joel and Lucinda for brain storming Shit-Porn titles with us.  If you enjoyed the show (and how could you not?) please help us spread the word by leaving us a glowing review on iTunes or wherever.  If you have question, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info at “Scathing Atheist (dot) com”.  All the music used in the show was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

Oppressed Christians

June 13, 2011 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

I go to church once every two years. That’s a painful admission to make, so don’t go telling anyone.

We swap out years, visiting my wife’s family one Christmas and my family the next. On my wife’s family’s years I’m spared the ordeal, but when I visit my family it’s either spend the whole week arguing about invisible space zombies or just go to fucking church. My dad will be in the play, my cousin will play in the band, my nephews will be forced to embarrass themselves in little blue suits while they stumble through some idiotic praise to Santa Christ.

It’s one of those “95% pseudo-tainment, 5% sermon” kind of churches so it’s not as bad as it could be. The morning’s service lasts about 81 hours, but only about 4 hours of it pisses me off to the point where I feel I should be allowed a rebuttal. I sit there and suffer quietly, leafing through the bible and sketching little flip books where Jesus fights ninjas (it’s their bible, so I always let Jesus win).

I never close my eyes when they ask me to pray. This isn’t some little silent protest. It’s not like I’m crossing my fingers as I say amen or anything, but I can’t imagine closing my eyes for an extended period during a church service and trusting myself to wake back up later.

Afterwards, I rode back to my parent’s house with my dad and my wife and half-listened to my dad’s plea that I give up on the whole rational thinking thing and get involved with a church. I managed the obligatory shrugs and non-committal noises, but I spent the ride pondering the echoing voice of my dad’s pastor.

The parting message from the sermon was stuck in my craw. After three hours of the least spiritual inanity one could possibly schedule under the pretense of a church service, we’re treated to a 20 minute lecture about how Christians need to stand up to the secular world. It was a tirade about how religious people shouldn’t let the government encroach upon their rights. The pastor manages to get there after starting off with a waitress wearing a button that says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” or “Fuck the Jews”.

As my dear old dad rambled on about how “not that bad” the service was, I found myself reflecting on that peculiar notion that Christians have in which oppression equals having the same rights as everyone else. I wonder sometimes if part of the initiation to be a Christian is being able to pretend you’re being oppressed with a straight face. The group that counts amongst its ranks every president ever elected, the vast majority of every elected body in this country and the heads of the majority of influential businesses in the country says it’s being oppressed and people cover it on the news without then laughing until they cry.

So what is this “Christian oppression” of which they speak? I’ll start where the preacher man started.

Christians are being oppressed when businesses ask their employees to say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”. This basic attempt to recognize that an enormous number of people in this country don’t celebrate the same religious holidays as them is seen as a slight against their basic rights. They have the right to impose their beliefs on you.

Christians are being oppressed when their religious beliefs aren’t plastered all over public property. The 10 Commandments should go on every courthouse wall (all 4 in each room) and they can say that without the slightest hint of irony. They can also explain why the tenets of Sharia Law should not be equally displayed. It’s not enough that they have their goddamned holy book profaning the court proceedings to begin with, they also reserve the right to impose their prehistoric top ten list of ethics on everyone else.

Christians are being oppressed when they aren’t permitted to lead classrooms in prayer. It’s not enough that no municipality in the country bans praying, they also have the right to force you or your children to sit through it as well. They have the right to impose their mythological praise on the world.

Christians are also being oppressed if any other group should be given any right like the ones they demand for themselves. If you want to put atheist messages in places that are actually reserved for private displays, you are violating their rights. They have the right to impose silence on every competing viewpoint.

Everything short of total Christian hegemony and immunity from all the laws that other groups have to follow is a violation of their Christian rights.

I have a solution to this, but I fear it might be extreme. Perhaps we should hold a lottery and randomly feed a few of these spittle spewing pastors to lions. We could stick the videos up on You-Tube and stick in a tagline like “Christians be warned”. I’ll admit that it might be overkill, but it seems like the easiest way to remind them what the word “oppression” means.