Uncommon Sense

June 1, 2023

Signs and Portents

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
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Christians believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god, an Omni god. At the same time they act as if they were promised signs and portents of this god’s existence and powers. At one point, in scripture, Jesus got short with his disciples because they keep asking for signs and portents.

Modern Christians seem to think that miracles (as they define them) are one manifestation of such signs.

But, if one stops to think, would an Omni god act this way?

Such a god is perfection in itself. All of its actions would be perfect in their construction and execution. So, is having a piece of toast pop up in you toaster with the face of Jesus on it worthy of such a god? How about a patch of light on a diner wall that looks like the Virgin Mary (who no one knows what she looks like, of course)? Are these the actions of an Omni god?

If someone goes to hospital and is operated upon and is healed, is that a miracle you could chalk up to such a god? Why would such a god pick and choose who to save? In horrendous accidents, the parents of children not killed account their being saved to this god. But why would such a god save just one child and let many others perish when surely it could have saved all?

All of this Christian folderol is based upon a myth in which this god himself becomes human and walks upon Earth. (Apparently the rule that anyone who lays eyes on this god dies was set aside for the interim.) Then, the story goes, this god-man was sacrificed to pay the price of the sins of all of mankind. Pretty neat, right? But ask yourself—sacrificed to whom?

When Jesus was “sacrificed” he had been incarnated as a Jew. Many kinds of sacrifices are mandated in the Hebrew Bible, of which one type is animal sacrifice. The Hebrew term usually translated “sacrifice” is korban. Korban literally means “drawing near.” Sacrifices of all kinds are linked with an approach to divinity. The term korban primarily refers to sacrificial offerings given from humans to God for the purpose of doing homage, winning favor, or securing pardon. The object sacrificed was usually an animal that was ritually slaughtered and then transferred from the human to the divine realm by being burned on an altar. So, “doing homage, winning favor, or securing pardon” to whom, for what purpose?

Why did this god need a sacrifice of himself (?) to himself (?) in order to pull off what he wanted to happen? Is this the kind of behavior you expect from an Omni god? (I remind you that the curse being lifted was merely spoken into being by this selfsame god, so why was a sacrifice needed? I also note that human sacrifices had been banned by this same god.)

Signs and portents, even the reincarnation of individuals are just too miniscule to represent the actions of such a god. In the Old Testament, Moses has duels with the court magicians of the Egyptian King, and can barely hold his own. So, were the parlor tricks he was able to pull off that puny? Any idiot can figure out better signs. How about floating the Great Pyramid one hundred meters into the air and taking the King for a walk under it? How about having the Moon and Sun chase each other around the sky for an hour or two? How about putting everyone in Egypt, except Moses and the King, asleep so they can have a private chat?

And why would such a god limit his appearances to such a poor and small section of the Earth. Since it was omnipresent, why not appear everywhere, all at once. Then when people got together to talk about their experience, they would really have something to talk about.

Clearly, the exploits of this Omni god were made up by people of little imagination, then they bragged about their god until they reached a state of utter lunacy. So, why are people still buying into the nonsense? Is great puzzlement.

May 28, 2023

Christian Nationalists are Trying to Enslave Women!

Those Christian nationalists beavering away in the legislatures of states like Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma, etc. are doing their darnedest to establish rules of law that turn women into property. They are proclaiming as they go that the Bible states that a marriage is between one man and one woman (it does not) and espousing the Bible as a guide to marriage (it is not).

In the Bible it is clear that women are property. First they are property of their fathers, and then of their husbands. Adultery is forbidden . . . for the women, acceptable for the men (as long as it is not with another man’s property, er, wife). Divorce is allowed for the men, forbidden for the women.

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

In the Bible if a woman’s husband dies, one of the deceased husband’s brothers is supposed to marry the widowed wife. (This is what life insurance looks like in the world of the Bible.) Of course, that brother, more than likely, already has a wife but men are allowed more than one wife, women are not allowed more than one husband. Where the “one man, one woman” nonsense comes from, it sure isn’t the Bible.

Any woman who votes for these assholes promoting a “Biblical Worldview” for their state, needs to seek psychiatric help immediately. Desiring to become a slave, actually some man’s personal property, is not a healthy desire.

May 24, 2023

Florida Has Not Yet Gone “All In”

Florida’s current Republican majority has done amazing things so far. (Well, I am amazed anyway.) But they have yet to go all in on their current path. Here are a few things they could do to solidify that path.

Eject Disney World from the State
Clearly Disney is woke and getting woker. There is just no place for such a distorting corporation in Florida’s culture. Evict them. The 300,000 lost jobs and billions in revenue can be replaced.

Declare Florida to Be a Christian State
Stop being wishy-washy about your professed religion, you Floridian GOPers. You know you want it. Gotta have it. Do it. SCOTUS will back you up. When the other Confederate states follow, you will have a basis for a Constitutional amendment to make the whole country a Christian nation. (And you will be a Christian hero!)

Make Owning a Firearm a Requirement
The Second Amendment suck-ups aren’t willing to go this far, Florida can! Yahoo! Make it semi-automatic so the libs heads will explode!

Close All of Florida’s Public Universities
They are just grooming a new generation of atheists and preaching Critical Race Theory. Show them who’s boss. Florida can import educated people if any are really needed.

Convert All Public Schools to Charter Schools
They aren’t as good educationally but those damned teacher’s unions keep voting Democrat, so fuck ‘em. When they lose those cushy public school jobs and actually have to work for a living, they will wise up.

Declare All Interventions to Prevent Coastal Flooding Due to Climate Change Illegal
Since those interventions are wasteful, being based upon scientific hoaxes, we will all be better off.

Declare Florida to be a Democrat Free Zone
Democrats are drag queen loving, immigrant suck-ups that don’t deserve no respect. They need to leave Florida, now! This will make the state easier to run and a happier place.

Come on Florida! We are waiting on you to lead the way to a future full of promise, well, promises anyway. Don’t expect anything good to happen.

April 10, 2023

If You Think Pascal’s Wager is a Good Argument, Think Again

Filed under: Philosophy,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:44 am
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Note—This may be an Easter hangover, but whatever the case . . .  Steve

I have written and many, many others have written about the illogic of Pascal’s Wager. If you are unfamiliar with Pascal’s Wager, Blaise Pascal argued, in summary, that if you believe in God, whether God exists or not you win (or at least don’t lose), but if you do not believe in God, and it does exist, then the results are catastrophic, so it is better to believe in God.

I have read some accounts of Blaise Pascal’s life so I assume he was more than slightly acquainted with gambling, which brings up a flaw in his God Argument that I haven’t heard before. Allow me to move to the current day, however, to make my argument.

I remember my first engagement with gambling in a casino. Everything happened so fast it seemed as if I had no time to think, barely enough to breathe, and then I went broke. (Note—When I gamble I set a limit to how much money I will put as risk and when it is gone I am done, not official “broke” but broke for the day, so to speak.)

So, why was that experience and all of the ones I have had since so fast? The answer is simple: the casino doesn’t make money until the bets are called. Basically, if you are winning, you want to play more and more hands, if you are losing, fewer would be better. And the casino always wins, so their process involves turning hands as quickly as possible. Find out whose wager wins and whose does not and shut up and deal.

Now, here is a major flaw in Pascal’s Wager. Say I am a Born Again evangelical Christian and I die and show up smugly at the Pearly Gates to find out my fate. St. Peter isn’t there; he is a busy man, so one of his underlings is manning his station. The PG Clerk is reading your file as you step to the counter and he says “I see here that you adopted Jesus in your mind but not your heart.” He reaches for a lever, pulls it, and as you fall through the trap door, on your way to Hell, you hear him say “Next.”

The Catholic Church recently ruled that baptisms said incorrectly are invalid, even if it is just one word that is “off.” So, even minor failures in rituals could result in the trapdoor being sprung under you.

The next person in line steps up and the Clerk says “I see here that you are a Jehovah’s Witness . . . hmmm, wrong god.” The lever is pulled and “Next” is all the JW hears as he plummets. You see this problem with Pascal’s Wager is that you are automatically “all in” when you place your bet. Win and you win everything, lose and you lose everything . . . and the casino sets the rules for the games. Oh, and you get one play, only one play.

This is a little like walking into a casino and placing a betting coin that has “All In” stamped on it, on the craps pass line or anywhere else you get close to 50:50 odds (the best you can get in a casino). If you lose, you lose your job, your house, your wife and kids, your retirement account, your citizenship . . . everything.

Is that ever a good bet?

The flaw I am pointing out is that Pascal’s Wager doesn’t allow you to set the stakes or the rules of the game; you are playing blind. And you only get one roll of the dice.

April 9, 2023

Judas, the Scapegoat

Filed under: Religion,Social Commentary — Steve Ruis @ 8:44 am
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I have always puzzled at the “betrayal” of Jesus, for a number of reasons. Initially I considered Judas to be the most loyal disciple because he was willing to play the role of bad guy, to “finger” Jesus so the authorities could try him and then execute him . . . according to Jesus’s plan. But I am back to being puzzled.

The Romans had an extensive spy network. And Jesus and his posse were known to hang out where they got picked up, so if the Romans had wanted to pull him in for questioning, they knew where to find him. But they needed someone to identify which of that crowd was Jesus, right? Wrong. Jesus was a public figure. Many people knew what he looked like, and besides, Roman police practices weren’t exactly subtle. They would have rounded up the entire group and hied them all off for questioning. If the disciples had pulled a “I am Spartacus” routine, they would have crucified the lot.

So, there is still no need for a “betrayal,” faked or real.

So, why was the character dreamt up? As usual, it was to fulfill a prophecy, that turns out not to be a prophecy, so say some. But I think there is a more straight forward reason: we need someone to blame; we need someone to punish.

And forgotten behind all of this is the simple fact that Jesus went to Jerusalem to get crucified and, he hoped, resurrected. Without these two events, there would be no religion called Christianity.

This is why Christians calling Jews “Christ killers” is so stupid. Jesus getting killed was part of god’s plan, no? And the Christ killer idiocy caused the deaths of millions of Jews. (They are still doing it, by the way, if you haven’t noticed.)

It seems that our human needs: the need for someone to blame; the need of someone to punish explain the stupidity of these scriptures the best.

Why is Original Sin So Important?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:39 am
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Note—Since it is Easter Sunday, you get a twofer! S

I see so many simple comments on the Internet that provide me with ideas I had not considered. This one was on the concept of Original Sin.

. . . in the bibles, the Hebrew and the Christian, there is no original sin. Augostinus of Hippo was the first to use this term and only after the councils of Carthage (411–418 AD) and Orange (529 AD) did it became a Christian formal belief.”

So, off I go looking for some history. I found this:

The doctrine of original sin was most famously formulated by North African theologian St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430) following his conversion to Christianity . . . (Wikipedia)

and this:

The concept of Original Sin was explained in depth by St Augustine and formalized as part of Roman Catholic doctrine by the Councils of Trent in the 16th Century.

I have written about the incoherence of the idea. How is it that “sin” is handed down from parents to children? Is it genetic? If so are there Original Sin genes? If there are, could they be turned off by gene therapy? And so on, et cetera, und so weiter. . . .

But the original quote was telling. Original Sin is not in the Bible. Some of the devout claim that we are all born in a sinful state. They don’t explain how this is (more genes?) and skip over the fact that if their god is in charge, it must have wanted it to be that way, which means it is a villain.

The key point is that without Original Sin, Christianity is bankrupt. No Original Sin, no need of salvation. No need of salvation, no need for Jesus and all of the associated folderol. But the Catholic Church waited until the Protestant Revolution happened in the 1500s before formalizing the idea? WTF?

Lovely doctrine the Christians have. They tell us to love our enemies but their enemies get tortured forever. And they make sure you know that you were born as an enemy, so you had better straighten up!

April 6, 2023

Our God-Given Right to Bear Arms

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:15 am
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If there was ever a reason to oppose Christian nationalism, it is the confounding of Constitutional rights with what are supposed to be god-given rights.

Arm yourself. Exercise your God-given rights. Carry everywhere you go. (anonymous gun rights supporter)

Where in the Bible does it say that we have a god-given right to bear arms? In the Old Testament, the Hebrews were bearing arms all of the time but that was at the order of their leaders, so that was military service, not walking around the neighborhood rights.

New Testament fanboys go to incredible lengths to disavow Jesus telling his supporters to sell what they have to buy a sword (Luke 22). Since this doesn’t appear in the other three canonical gospels, it gets only one vote out of four for being an honest quotation. In any case, there are many other citations disavowing violence by Jesus.

There are over 600 commandments in the OT, and not one of them addresses the right to own guns. Jesus added a few more commandments on top of those and none of them support gun ownership.

So, where does this “god-given  right” come from?

Oh, I understand now. If the Christian nationalists have their way, our constitutional right to bear arms will become a god-given right to bear AR-15s. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

March 19, 2023

Shucking Old Jesus

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:31 pm
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Note—Since it hasn’t hit midnight yet, it is still Sunday and time for another post on religion. S

Christians are fond of swearing and then saying “No, I didunt!”

I watch a fair number of home improvement shows on TV (get to go through a project with no cleanup) and the favorite exclamation when the rejuv is revealed is: “Oh, my God!” But the Christians will say, instead,  “Oh, my Gosh!”  or  “Oh, my Goodness!” Oh, my goodness? (WTF?) The substitute words for “God” all have the same hard g sound. Gosh is a truncation of an even older exclamation, “Land of Goshen!” Goshen is the embarkation point of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and this makes no sense at all as an exclamation. It is like an American exclaiming “Washington, D.C.” when stubbing their toe.

Christians use a wide variety of substitute swear words in expressions such has:
Gosh darn it
Son of a gun
Shucky darn

Which I translate as:
Shucks (Shit)
Shoot (Shit, again)
Darn (Damn)
Dangit (Dammit)
Freaking (Fucking)
Crap (Shit, again)
Gosh darn it (God dammit)
Son of a gun (this is an old naval term referring to a bastard child of a sailor so it has no religious twist I can figure out)
Frigging (Fucking)
Shucky darn (???)

Now, the thing I don’t understand is, would this fool an all-knowing god? Instead of saying “shit,” you could substitute the British “shite,” would that fool God? Or if you used the German epithet instead “Scheiss!” (shit in German is Scheisse, and you get the benefit of the Germans capitalizing nouns still (English used to)). Would that fool God?

Do you think that this god would hear you say “Oh, my gosh!” and not hear “Oh, my God” in your heart?

Now the funny thing is, you will also hear Christians shout out “Oh, my Lord!” at some foolishness. Now Jesus is Lord, they say. And even old Yahweh says “I am the Lord,” or more straightforwardly “I am Lord.” And a great many Bibles render the word lord as LORD when it refers to you know who. So, this is common knowledge, no? And this doesn’t count as “taking the LORD’s name in vain”?

March 14, 2023

Pantheism, Why?

I am reading a wonderful book on the religious stances of the founders of the US. In that book it is claimed that many, probably most, of the key players in the American Revolution were deists, which should be shocking because to those in mainstream religion, that is almost all other Americans, considered deism a form of atheism, which was a punishable crime in many places in the Colonies.

The deism most popular at the time would probably called pantheism today.

pantheism (noun) the doctrine that the universe conceived of as a whole is God and, conversely, that there is no God but the combined substance, forces, and laws that are manifested in the existing universe (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The book’s title by the way, is “Nature’s God, The Heretical Origins of the American Republic.”

This post is about pantheism (I will report on the book later). I can’t help but wonder why anyone would even bother. It seems that nature has already been labeled and calling it “god” doesn’t change anything. At first I was supposing this equation was because people were brought up with a concept of a god or gods and they just could see the universe without a god in it (or of it) somewhere.

Then I thought that this could be a form of weapon used against traditional religion. There are some advantages. The Abrahamic gods were claimed to be omnipresent, which makes no sense as I have written before. (A god which is omnipotent and omniscient need not be anywhere anywhen to observe or act. It already has seen and heard all there is to see and hear and can act from anywhere.) But if nature is your god, you can make a good argument for omnipresence, because it just is. No matter where you go, there you are, as the saying goes. Omnipresence is a brute fact of pantheism.

The book’s author, however, makes another argument, which seems plausible. He states “Radical philosophy really begins with the intuition that the great problem with the common religious consciousness is not that it thinks so highly of God but that it thinks so little of nature.”

Clearly we are completely dependent upon nature. Were major natural systems to collapse, whether any of us could survive is a real question. The Judeo-Christian religion gives nature to us as “something inherently inert, passive, mechanical, and therefore unable to give life meaning, and it congeals its nihilism in the hallucination of an otherworldly God.” We are told to go forth and multiply and nature is there to do with as we choose. And our exploitation of nature’s “resources” is unbridled and, we now see, doing real damage to our ability to survive.

Were we to consider nature to be god and therefore sacred, would we treat it differently? Possibly the Native Americans have shown us that we would have, as they did.

I am uncomfortable with this as it seems a form of self-delusion—“Hey, guys, I have an idea, let’s pretend nature is God!”

As you can see I see pantheism as an unnecessary complication, but it may be a useful interim weapon to use against traditional religion’s rape of nature. Obviously if we do not survive any fine points in this argument are moot.

What do you think? Are you a pantheist? (How about you, John?)

March 5, 2023

A Heresy Resolved

Filed under: History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:56 am
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A major heresy troubled the early Christian (orthodox) church. It was called the Arian heresy after Arias of Alexandria ((born c. 250, died 336), the point man for the effort. The brouhaha lasted five plus decades but actually has stewed on until now.

One crux of the matter (that they didn’t believe in the Trinity was also part of it) revolved around the claim that Jesus and “the Father” were “consubstantial,” that is made from the same stuff. Arias didn’t buy this because, well it is ridiculous. Jesus is often referred to as being incarnate, 100% human, etc. and I can’t image old Yahweh putting on a meat overcoat for anyone.

Arius suffered much from his stubbornness, and was excommunicated (more than once, if memory serves). Reportedly he collapsed and died while walking through the streets of Constantinople but others claimed that Arius’ death was the result of explosive gastrointestinal problems he suffered in the city of Constantinople while he was attempting to negotiate admittance to the church there. I am sure his enemies would have been pleased were he to have died in a shit storm.

Well, we now know that Arias was wrong. Jesus and “the Father” were made of the same stuff, namely whole cloth, fully imaginary.

It is hard to believe, but ordinary people debated the merits of many of these positions, often vehemently and occasionally violently for the better part of a century, and the controversy drags on today, often out of sight (just ask any Unitarian if they believe in the Trinity). Also, the people who hounded Arias to his death were the same folks who invented the fiction which is now holy doctrine of so many Christian churches. (Arias was first declared a heretic and excommunicated because he refused to sign on to the created fiction.)

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