Class Warfare Blog

October 17, 2018

Holy Shit (Bull Variety)

Filed under: Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:37 am
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On my Quora feed the following paid advert was posted:

Where did the four gospels in the Bible come from?
The Church of Jesus Christ
Promoted
“As Jesus taught, His disciples wrote what He said. Order a free Bible to learn what He taught.”

And here I thought that lying was a deadly sin.

It is a scholarly conclusion that we do not know who wrote the gospels that were included in the Bible. None of the earliest manuscripts we have of those works has an author listed. All seem to have had multiple authors. Most of the gospels seem to have been written at a point in time that all or most of the disciples claimed to have followed Jesus would have died.

I wonder if Donald Trump got his ability to string lies one after the next from his religious training?

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Focus the Blame … Elsewhere, Anywhere!

Filed under: Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:52 am
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According to an article in Reuters (Pope Blames Devil For Church Divisions, Scandals, Seeks Angel’s Help, October 8, 2018) the Pope is casting blame for the Catholic Church’s scandals, and all other problems on the Devil.

“(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,” Francis said in a message on Sept. 29.

“Since he was elected in 2013, Francis has made clear that he believes the devil to be real. In a document in April on holiness in the modern world, Francis mentioned the devil more than a dozen times.

“We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable,” he wrote in the document.”

Of course, I cannot but be reminded of Flip Wilson’s famous tagline “The Devil made me do it!” (It’s on YouTube, youngins’!)

The Pope, in one sentence, takes “responsibility” and casts blame elsewhere. (‘(The Church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,’ Francis said.”)

It must be immensely useful to have an imaginary friend to take the blame for all of the bad things one does, kind of a spiritual whipping boy. As an atheist I feel limited in my ability to blame others for my failings … I want an imaginary evil friend toooo!

October 3, 2018

Creationist Follies

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 1:41 pm
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Creationists aren’t interested in evidence as they “have faith” … at least until the slightest glimmer of hope some evidence supports their position and then it become full bore “I told you so!” artists.

The anti-evolution strain of this sect is especially active. I wish they would use some of that energy to understand what the theory actually is and what the evidence is but that wish is rather stupid. It is me asking them to look for themselves for why they are wrong. This is not something they are wont to do and this is not surprising. I don’t find that task pleasant, either.

One of the more troubling examples of their ignorance is the recent trend to try to poke holes in evolutionary science. Currently I have seen any number of tropes about why evolution transformed us from hairy ape-like creatures to hairless ape-like creatures. They bellow “Why did we lose our fur?” Explain that evolution-tards!

<Sigh>

Okay, allow me. (And I am no expert, just an avid science-type, so feel free to pick this apart.)

Humans benefited mightily by losing their fur and the creation of wall-to-wall sweat glands. If you look no farther way from you than your dog, you will see the life of furred animals, predator and prey alike. Your dog can run like the wind, for a few minutes, and then they drop to the ground and pant like crazy. The reason? Other than a little sweat through their paws, they have no other way to get rid of excess heat.

Humans, on the other hand, when they moved out onto the savannah (possible due to Climate Change?) benefited mightily from the loss of fur and the proliferation of sweat glands.

You may know that cheetahs can achieve 70 mph in short bursts. All predators have to be fast or quick, but that exertion of muscle energy generates heat which has to be leaked into the environment. Humans, with their sweat glands all over their skin and the absence of fur that allows the air to carry away the evaporated water (evaporation takes a lot of heat and converts it into potential energy—it is cooling, Creationists) which gives them not great speed, but great stamina.

Let’s use a current marathon runner as an example. The record holders can run just over 26 miles in about two hours. Let’s call that 13 miles per hour. Any deer or antelope can easily do well in excess of 13 miles an hour. But they have to stop and rest after just a few seconds, by which time the human hunters have caught up and spook the game into sprinting away again, which it does. But then the humans catch up again. Spook, run to ground, spook, run to ground. In the end, the deer or antelope is exhausted and the human hunter can walk up and cut their throats with a knife.

This is how human hunters dominated the savannah in early Africa. We ran our prey to ground. And we could keep it up for hours because of our loss of fur (which prevents breezes from reaching the skin) and our multitude of sweat glands. This form of hunting was observed well into the 19th century in the form of hunting Native Americans. It is well documented.

So, “Why did we lose our fur? Where’s the answer Evolutionists? You now have your answer. next question, my ignorant friends.

September 15, 2018

Ethics and Morality without God

In a recent post on Daily Kos I read the following:

“I once said to a Native American friend that I thought that the Golden Rule was a perfect expression of social ethics, and before I could put the period on my sentence, he shot back, ‘No, it’s not … because if you’re a misanthrope who hates people and just wants to be left alone, you can behave that way in clear conscience. In my tribe, I have responsibilities to widows, orphans, and the ill. I have to hunt for those who can’t. That’s mutuality.’” (sfzendog)

This attitude toward the collective responsibility we all have, as well as individual responsibility, might be summed up in “love thy neighbor as thyself” but it isn’t made at all explicit in Christian ethics/morality.

Many people do not know that the “tithe” which has morphed into a fundraiser to support the church building fund and minister’s and staff’s salaries, was originally a tax. The Jews had a theocracy. Even when outsiders came in and established a new ruling structure, the Temple kept its own governing structure and the tithe/tax was a way to support widows, orphans, and the afflicted. That is what it was for, explicitly. The Jews had a structure in place regarding the collective responsibility of all to support those in need.

Christian ethics/morality on the other hand stops at “love they neighbor” and “turn the other cheek,” with little parsing of those instructions. There are clear signs that early Christians were communal (that means communists, Comrade). As Christianity was rewritten by pagans, that collectivism was written out. The Republicans are doing their damndest to wipe out collectivism in the U.S. right now, so this “battle” is quite longstanding.

We still haven’t answered the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are still trying to address mutuality.

Many studies on democratic socialist states show that as they collectively (through government) care for those less fortunate or less capable and just ordinary citizens, the less the need for religion in their population. It therefore seems that religion has a vested interest in opposing government providing basic support for their people. The widespread evangelical support for the current administration therefore is less perplexing looked at in this light.

September 11, 2018

Evangelical Pastor Denies the Existence of Original Sin, Undermining All of Christianity

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, was recently issued by a group including John MacArthur, a prominent (and very conservative) evangelical pastor and Bible teacher.

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel claims that social justice is not, in fact, a definitional component of the gospel, and that it is heresy to elevate “non-essentials to the status of essentials.” The document instead affirms traditional beliefs on same-sex relationships and “God-ordained” gender roles. It seems particularly focused on rejecting collective blame in racial matters. “We deny that … any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin,” the statement argues. “We further deny that one’s ethnicity establishes any necessary connection to any particular sin.”

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

These worthy divines are denying that we have inherited Adam and Eve’s sin (“We deny that … any person is morally culpable for another person’s sin,”) and are, therefore, in no need of salvation through Jesus or anyone else.

These people will do anything to support racism, it seems, including throwing Christianity under the bus.

September 2, 2018

Imagine a Union …

Filed under: Culture,Religion,The Unions — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
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Imagine as a business fantasy that you are a business owner and that you were able to create a union, unbeknownst to anyone not in the know. You “allow” your people to join the union, even encourage it. The union is supported by dues that the business owner gracefully allows to be deducted from weekly paychecks. The union agrees to a comprehensive contract that actually favors the business owner in subtle ways, making him even more rich. The owner eventually supports “closed shop” status, meaning that you have to be a member of the union to work in his business. “It is the right thing to do,” you say.

The union members are urged to “organize” other businesses as well as support the efforts of their union to support political candidates that support the union and the business.

Union leaders are indoctrinated into the workings of the union without knowledge of who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. The union is a wealth and power generating machine for its sponsor, but is sold as an instrument of the workers to avoid oppression by their paymasters.

Now, take the word “union” in every instance above and change it into the word “religion.” Maybe also change the word “dues” to the word “tithes.”

That about sums it up.

September 1, 2018

Trying to Understand Superstition

The Guardian today carried a rather lovely piece by Philip Pullman, the “Dark Materials” author: Why We Believe in Magic, subtitled “The world of magic defies rational explanation, but beware dismissing it as nonsense. Like religious experience and poetry, it is a crucial aspect of being human.”

Beautifully written, as all of his books are, Mr. Pullman doesn’t quite get at an answer to his question but rather seeks someone to write a major book he calls The Varieties of Magical Experience to parallel William James’ book The Varieties of Religious Experience. He suggests that the search for the reality of both magic and religion is a fruitless search and we are better off looking into what we experience under those labels. He sums this up with the unforgettable quote “Trying to understand superstition rationally is like trying to pick up something made of wood by using a magnet.”

And … (You know there was more did you not?) … like the school child I once was, mentally I was eagerly holding up my hand thinking “Call on me teacher. I know the answer!” Obviously I do not know the answer to the question, but one came to mind quickly.

People believe in magic and religion because of the promise of power, mostly power over their own lives. Throughout human history we were tossed about by the vagaries of Nature: famines, wild animals, floods, lightning, diseases, insect infestations, etc. the only earthly approximations of a paradise were experienced by small tribes of hunter-gathers in tropically lush landscapes. Even then hurricanes, storms, lightning, diseases, etc. could ruin one’s day or many days.

“People believe in magic and religion because of the promise of power, mostly power over their own lives.”

And when Nature relents, our fellow human beings have immense powers of oppression. I think I have commented before that there is an estimate that in 1800 half of all humans existed as some form of slave.

Since we all feel that we are individual and banding together to resist oppression by anything is quite difficult, we all wish to have the individual power to resist or overcome the pummeling we take at the hand of Nature and other people. As a youth I can remember wishing I had the power to heal. (My name means “the crowned one” and, well, “the hands of a king are the hands of a healer.” You see I even figured out a mechanism for my magic ability.) I also remember encountering the Incredible Hulk in comic books and on TV and I relished the idea that when people put upon me nastily that I could turn into an invincible green monster and trash all of their asses.

It is not a mistake, in my thinking, that so many religions, even Christianity, hold out the promise of magic to their believers (“You will perform works and wonders in God’s name,” etc.). Jesus performs magic and empowers others to do so also. When a Christian dies, they are rewarded magically and their enemies are punished magically, and since none of us understand magic or how it works, we settle for the promise of that power.

Pullman is probably right, we do need a book like The Varieties of Magical Experience if, for no other reason, only to understand ourselves and how we treat one another better. As so many studies show, as our societies do a better job of taking care of one another, the “need” for a religious or magical experience diminishes. So, I do not need it as “a crucial aspect of being human” as it will go away when we learn how to live in a state of lovingkindness.

 

 

August 27, 2018

Are Christians Being Persecuted in the U.S.?

According to Christian scripture, a sign one is doing their god’s work is being persecuted for their beliefs (see below).

Take a negative associated with a religion (“Why would I join them, aren’t they being persecuted?”) and turn it into a positive. Spin doctors have been around a lot longer than most people think. So Christians need persecution to be recognized for doing good work … ah, now we know why there is a War on Christmas, and a War on Christianity! If a real persecution doesn’t exist, just make one up!

Christianity, spinning reality for almost 2000 years!

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and make you bake cakes for fag weddings and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

August 17, 2018

What Would It Take?

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 7:46 am
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A common question thrown at atheists is “What would it take for you to believe in God?” Of course, they mean “their god.” I used to throw the question back at them by asking “Which god do you mean?” which in response they tend to be incredulous, as if there is only one conception of their god.

But tonight I was watching, for the umpty-umpth time, the sci-fi move Lucy. (I really like movies in which there is a strong female lead.) The lead character, played by Scarlett Johansson, has forced upon her a massive, massive overdose of a psychoactive drug, which unlocks previously unexpected powers of her brain. As a scientist, played by Morgan Freeman, tries to introduce her to three of his colleagues he stumbles a bit and finally just states that she has … powers (she does). One of the scientists immediately asks “Like what (kind of powers)?” Lucy steps up and places a hand on that scientist’s shoulder and tells him that he had a six year old daughter who was run over by a car, a blue car, with a toy bird hanging from the mirror. The scientist who is recalling this event as she is describing it gets tears in his eyes. The scientist believed she “had powers” at that point. (Even more bizarre proofs followed, but the point was made.)

We are asked to believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful magical being that created the entire universe. Some people have claimed to have had interactions with this being. Others have claimed to have relationships with other such beings. But this god cannot or will not provide any direct evidence, such as Lucy made of her powers.

Lucy didn’t stop to determine if the scientists were worthy of proofs of her powers. She didn’t hesitate or hem or haw. She simply demonstrated her powers in a way that convinced. A god should be able to divine what would convince me and be able to do that with a minimum of effort. Even if you lump together all the numbers of different Christians (the Unitarians, the Trinitarians, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Baptists, etc.) there would still be several billion people who are not convinced.

Whether it is “will not” or “cannot” provide such proofs is irrelevant. So far it is “has not.”

So, in answer to this question I now say “Ask your god, like the character Lucy, it should know.”

August 16, 2018

Ask Yourself “If They Really Believed …”

More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up, according to a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday. Since Pennsylvania has about 4% of the nation’s population, we can expect that the numbers of victims and perpetrators for the country as a whole are 25 times worse. One of the editorial responses to this abysmal situation was this:

Now, ask yourself: if those Catholic priests and other clerics really, truly believed, as Christians claim to believe their religion (down to the bone, etc.), that they were destined to everlasting Hellfire, that they would have done what they did? This is surely evidence that they did not so believe, that they would not be subject to everlasting torment because of their actions.

Either the Catholic Church is selling absolutions, in which case God’s judgment is not really God’s judgment, or a major segment of the Catholic clergy in the U.S. (and presumably worldwide) doesn’t believe in the fairy tales they tell about the “afterlife” to control the behaviors of their “flocks.”

I also wouldn’t put it past the Catholic hierarchy to double down by claiming that God will punish the miscreants (so they do not have to). Maybe they were waiting for capital punishment to be banned before coughing up the criminal clergy … naw.

The Catholic Con is slowly unraveling. I pray that that process is accelerating.

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