Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chick-fil-a hypocrisy

In this article at CNN religious extremist Albert Mohler demonstrates that bigots like himself can dish it out religious intolerance, but they can't take it when people respond to them in kind.  He and his ilk of religious fanatics have tried to use religion as a weapon, starting/endorsing campaigns to boycott and financially ruin businesses that say "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", for example.  Now that consumers are doing similar things to Chick-fil-a, they scream "religious discrimination".  

All these religious people would happily discriminate against other religions, be it Muslims who they forbid from building mosques on private property, or atheists, who they would run out of town on a rail in any city in the Bible Belt.  These are the people leading the charge to deny government benefits to gay couples, and they and their followers would do everything in their power to make sure that an openly gay business owner was shut down or worse.  They certainly see no problem in refusing to provide all kinds of services to gay individuals on "moral grounds".  So why can't the rest of us say, "I will do everything I can to shut down Chick-fil-a on MORAL grounds".

These people are constantly attacking the religious freedoms of others and therefore have forfeit any right to complain when similiar tactics come back to bite them.  It's Karma, and yeah, that's another religious concept that they hate, because it's not theirs.

BTW, people like Mike Huckabee want all the religious fanatics to go eat at Chick-fil-a next week.  Maybe it's not such a good idea for them to all be in one place where people have such easy access to them. It would be a shame if all those restaurants accidentally burned down with Huckabee and his lame-brained followers inside them.

Monday, July 30, 2012

God AWOL in Aurora

CNN tapped Denver Pastor Rob Brendle to give the standard, form-letter non-answer that all religious people must deliver up when called upon to "explain" why his god allows senseless tragedies, such as the one in Aurora.  In particular Brendle tried, and quite spectacularly failed, to answer the reasonable question of "Where was God?"during the murderous rampage of James Holmes in a crowded movie theater last week?
Rob starts by complaining about how hard his job is at times like this.  He makes it sound like he is an emergency responder, when in reality he is just being called upon to phone in shabby platitudes, which admittedly, don't satisfy anyone but children, and often not even them.  So, granted, his job is a little rough at that time, trying to sell people turds and tell them it's chocolate.  But the rest of the time his job is likely quite cushy and overpaid for just glad-handing and acting like a human Hallmark card.

The funny thing about Brendle is that he thinks his job is hard, but then just proceeds to string together a couple of pat answers that probably most teenagers could generate with no theological training.  He starts by hiding behind the tired and threadbare excuse of  "free will", which automatically signals that he's got nothing.  It is particularly laughable, in this case, becausee James Holmes appears to be mentally incapacitated.  Why then would God be worried about the "free will" of Mr. Holmes, who thinks he lives in a Batman comic book?  We can understand God protecting the alleged "free will choices" of sane and rational people, but it makes no sense whatsoever to protect the "free will" of an individual who doesn't even know where he is or what he is doing.  Now, I realize that free will is NORMALLY flogged by religious apologists harder than a hooker in a cheap porno, but it probably would have paid for him to go off script in this case.  Free will is really not the best defense for certain kinds of tragedies.  It doesn't work well for earthquakes, and to this list one should also add, it's not very convincing when trying to explain away the actions of a crazy person.  

For good measure Rob throws in a few references to Satan, and natural law that make no sense whatsoever, but we will largely just ignore those, since he takes them nowhere.  At most he is saying, if you don't buy my first line of baloney about free will, then maybe it was God's will, or maybe it was Satan's will, or maybe it was Nature.  Despite his lack of development, the whole point of the question was to figure out why God would allow it, so saying, "Maybe it was God's plan, but we don't know why" is failing to answer the question on the most basic level.  Clearly Brendle hasn't thought or, by his own admission, even tried to think this through very carefully.

On the other hand, if we   believe in the childish notion that evil is personified by a little man with red skin and horns, then we can try to blame it all on Satan, but we would still have to explain why God allowed Satan to do this and not do other things.  After all, Satan is depicted as tormenting Job in the Bible, but even Satan did not take possession of Job and make him kill random people.  So that's no kind of good answer.  

As to "natural law"  I know of no law or force of nature that requires an individual to dress in riot gear and shoot people in a movie theater.  It's not like Holmes is an earthquake or tsunami, etc.  In other words, invoking "natural" law is just plain nonsensical.

So none of his scatter gun excuses even come close.  But, undeterred by this, he then proclaims that Jesus was still "there", presumably in invisible form, simply because a few religious freaks were there  making crosses and praying and acting even more clueless than Brendle.  For what it's worth, however, at least these people seem genuine in their faith, whereas Brendle is trying  to pretend offer even a modicum of wisdom, when, in reality, he doesn't have the first clue.  

Therefore, this article would have been much more honest, if Brendle had just said, "F*(k if I know!!"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Religious Dumbas$ claims Holmes was Possessed

I actually anticipated that a religious dumba$$ would immediately claim that James Holmes was "possessed" by evil spirits and that this is why he did what he did.  After all, the Bible strongly suggests that mental illnesses are due to the influence of evil spirits which must be exorcised.  However, I also expected that many religious people would loudly deny this and attempt to tap dance around the truth of what their religious texts teach.  "We're not that backward and stupid," they would have protested.

Unfortunately they are that stupid and backward when it comes to the person of Rev. Longenecker, a Catholic priest from Greenville, SC.  It's gratifying to see that official religious nuts are now taking this position, which is certainly consistent with the Vatican's extensive use of exorcism.

The problem is that this actually creates more problems than it solves for religious nutjobs.  To begin with, there is really no evidence of possession....but lack of evidence doesn't usually deter them anyway.  Holmes wasn't wearing any pentagrams or showing any interest in the occult. All the evidence suggests that he was raised as a Christian, and may have even attended a church in the month or so before the shootings.

Also, if he was "possessed" then it must have been for months, because he appears to have stockpiled these armaments and explosive devices for some time.  His journal also indicates that he was planning this for some time.  He was also seeing a psychiatrist, who probably would have noted that he his head was spinning and he was reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards.

Holmes showed no signs of worshipping the devil when he was conducting his rampage.  Witnesses say he said nothing.  He identified himself as a comic book character to police, not Beelzebub.  In fact, virtually no serial killer in modern times has claimed to be possessed by the devil.  Isn't that odd?

More importantly, if demonic possession is true then it seriously undercuts theologians' frequent, and typically disingenuous arguments about "free will".  If Holmes was "possessed" then he was not truly exercising his own will, and could certainly not be held responsible for his actions.

Also the fabrication of "free will" is essential to modern theological excuse-mongering to explain the existence of evil in the world.  See, it's not God's fault that evil exists, they claim, because evil is just the result of bad choices that people make with free will.  They say that "free will" is so G*ddamn important that God allows genocidal maniacs to butcher others by the thousands or even millions, rather than violate the "sacred" free will of some dictator or serial killer.

But if there are evil entities that can take over the wills of humans then this excuse falls apart.  A God who was obsessed with free will at any price surely would not allow for evil spirits who have the power to circumvent human free will at their whim.  If he allows that then free will apparently isn't all that important, and we can't use it to explain away so many of the bad things that happen in the world on a daily basis.

Of course, if you accept that mental illness is caused by chemical imbalances, as opposed to primitive superstitions about evil spirits, then you still have a problem for so-called free will.  We don't hold insane people responsible for their crimes because they are not in control of their whims to a reasonable degree.  Yet again, God apparently just isn't that into free will.  So you'll have to find another excuse for God to just shirk all responsibility for preventing terrible events from taking place.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Holmes Would NOT have been Stopped by Concealed Carry

From day one, dumba$$es have been saying that, if only a bunch of armed yahoos had been sitting in the theater that they could have shot Holmes before he was able to kill as many victims.  Of course, such claims ignore the fact that he THREW TEAR GAS.  Without a gas mask, they would apparently be squinting through tears, trying to bust off rounds that would probably hit other movie patrons.  Then there is the fact that Holmes was wearing a significant amount of body armor.  Some people claim that shots still might have knocked the wind out of him, if they hit in the proper places, but the odds of hitting him properly in a tear gas fogged, darkened theater, amid pandemonium are low enough, and staggering him would probably not be enough.  In general, in a gun fight, the guy with the biggest, baddest gun usually wins.  Therefore, unless these guys also had AR-15s stuffed in the legs of their pants then Holmes still would have had the upper hand and been able to take out anyone with little pea-shooter trying to plink him through his armor.

Also, we have had concealed carry now for almost three decades in 49 states now, and according to studies such as this one, it has not decreased crime rates by any statistically significant margins.  In fact, the only significant effect seems to be to increase the rates of aggravated assaults.

Therefore, it IS time for concealed carry nuts to sit down and shut up.

Dark Knight Trailer Depicted Movie Shooting

Lots of people are falling all over themselves to disclaim any blame for inspiring Mr. Holmes's actions.  In large part this has to be correct, because the fact is that millions of people play First-person-shooter, or "murder simulator" video games, and yet almost none of these players become actual murderers.  However, when it is discovered that Jared Loughtner, or James Holmes, or the Columbine kids liked to play violent video games, some m0r*ns start screaming that the video games caused it.  They appear to have got the causality reversed.  People with violent tendencies will surely be attracted to violent video games, but the games didn't make them that way in such cases.

Others say that Hollywood's ultra-violent John Woo style "action movies" that glorify guns is responsible.  Again, it's clear that hundreds of millions of people watch these movies and do not become violent.  They clearly do not CAUSE it.

However, they certainly do make people numb to it.  Also, while violent movies and video games do not cause MOST people to become homicidal maniacs, people who are already very emotionally disturbed to begin with may only need a little extra push.

It is in that vein that I feel it necessary to point out that the "Dark Knight Rises" had a trailer called "Gangster Squad" that depicted a shooting IN A MOVIE theater.  Many people are not even aware of this, since Warner Brothers quickly pulled the trailer in the wake of the news.  I remember seeing the original trailers in the movie theaters months before the movie came out.  A number of people expressed discomfort at this time and some in the media did even warn that such trailers might lead to copy cat behavior.  It is hard to avoid the possibility that Mr. Holmes may well have been inspired to copy cat the trailer, just as at least three other unstable individuals have been inspired to copy cat threats of violence against movie theaters in the couple of days since Holmes's attack.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Non-christian victims of Holmes damned to hell, says evangelical propagandist

Miserable piece of human garbage Jerry Newcombe, and evangelical scum like him, have already started shamelessly exploiting the Aurora massacre perpetrated by James Holmes as an opportunity to scare people into signing away their souls.  Because Newcombe is an unthinking ignoramus, he already blundered directly into the trap I predicted in this article by claiming that Christian victims of Holmes would be going to a "wonderful place" (aka Heaven), whereas non-christians would be going to a "terrrible place" (aka Hell).

However, by his logic, if massacred Christians are going to a "wonderful place", then he is basically saying that Holmes "did them a favor" by slaying them.  There really is no way around that.  No matter what other good experiences they could have had on Earth it would pale by comparison and be utterly insignificant compared to what they could experience in Heaven, according to standard Christian mythology.  Therefore, if they are correct then Christians should be clamoring for their neighbors to *kill them immediately*, if they honestly believe the nonsense they claim to profess, so that they don't have to waste one more minute not being in Heaven.  After all, if they wait they could have doubts or even get an education, and this may shatter their faith.  Then it's no more Candy Land for them.

Now the thing is that there were many devout Christians in the theater, and many of them voted with their feet, proving that they did not really believe what they claim about heaven being so wonderful.  Otherwise they would have sat right there and taken their bullet, so they could be with Jebus on a cloud with a harp. Chicken$*it par excellence Jerry Newcombe would not have sat there either.  He probably would have been the first person to trample old ladies and children to save his pathetic skin when the shooting started.

As for the true fate of non-christians, there is nothing to fear.  If there is a God and he is truly just then nobody is compelled to believe made-up human mumbo jumbo of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or other varieties in order to be treated fairly in the afterlife.  Believing that Jesus was his own daddy and walked on water thousands of years ago is no virtue and certainly is not any kind of guarantee of anything, except the capacity to tax the limits of your own sanity with a litany of absurdities.

In Mr. Newcombe's case, his fanaticism also has manifested as a severe lack of empathy and depraved delight in the imaginary suffering of others.  Is that truly who you want to be?  If not then the time to get off the crazy train is now.

Will God Strike Holmes Dead In Court?

In the Hebrew Old Testament, when someone did something naughty Yahweh would often on his patent leather beetch-slappin' gloves, reach down smack the crap out of them right on the stop.  However, unfortunately, for some unknown reason he stopped doing that.  My theory is that he wore out his gloves. 
But one wonders when he might get a new pair, so to speak. To wit, James Holmes appeared in court today, acting all dazed and confused.  Would this not have been the perfect time for God to "use the force" and choke him out Vader-style?  What difference would it make at this point?  For those still hiding behind the ridiculous figleaf of "free will", how much "free will" is Holmes going to have in prison.  The free will to be some big burly dude's "prison wife".  As gratifying as that might be for some to imagine, surely there are quicker and more efficient punishments.  Why not at least slap some boils or plague or leprosy down on his freaky, orange carrot top?  God supposedly did this to people in the past, notably even to just and loyal servants like Job.  So why would he hesitate to do this to Holmes?  American heros like Sally Ride are being struck down with pancreatic cancer while this miserable waste of skin is allowed to breath air.  What gives with God these days?  Why the namby-pamby, hippy-dippy routine?  You gonna squick this guy or not, G-man?  Hello?!  Anybody up there???

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Did God Jam James Holmes's Gun and other Miracles?

Myths are in the process of being written about the massacre in Aurora.  Religious fanatics have no good answers for why God did not intervene, so they are biding their time and cherry-picking through the evidence to try to find opportunities to insert their magical fantasy version of what really happened.  For example, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has already started shopping around the bogus claim that it's a "miracle it wasn't worse".  Well, just about anything could be worse (or better) than it actually turned out to be, but that hardly qualifies it as a "miracle".  Also, don't even try to say that he was using the word "miracle" casually or by accident.  He is a politician with speech writers who almost certainly want to pander to the rampant religiosity that people temporarily turn to whenever bad things happen.  

Now others are also reporting that James Holmes's AR-15 likely jammed about half way through his rampage, which is why these individuals carry multiple backup weapons.  It is actually quite common to have jams, especially in guns that are being fired rapidly.  However, in looking for the smallest scrap of information to spin, religious fanatics are sure to point to this and say, "Well look at that! God MUST have made it happen".  Hallelujah, it's another "miracle", right?  Wrong.  Why, after all, would God allow this guy to crank off about half of his ammunition, presumably killing at least half of his victims, and then make one gun jam?  Why too, if he is working a great sacred miracle of jamming one whole gun, would he not jam the suspect's other guns, since he switched over to using those as backups, just as planned.  That's quite a "Holy Mystery", now isn't it.  If it was a miracle, then it was truly one of the laziest and most ineffective ones ever.  Surely a better miracle would have been to make the gun blow up in the face of the attacker when he attempted to crank off the first round, or his first bullet to ricochet back and hit him right between the eyes, killing him instantly.  I could write a better miracle in my sleep.  

Then there is James Holmes's apartment that he rigged with flammables and explosives.  Now the fact is that, lacking proper training, experience, and even testing, it is unlikely that he would have been able to put together a system that had that great a chance of working.  I base that on the fact  that numerous terrorists who have been trained in explosive ordinance technology, such as Faisel Shahzad (aka the Times Square Bomber) and Richard Reid (aka the Shoe Bomber), among others, have failed to get their bombs to go off.  Even the Columbine kids tried to set off some crude bombs with less than stellar results.  So, in all likelihood, even though Holmes was a science geek, it is unlikely that his untested, Rube Goldberg contraptions would have worked all that well.    But people will point to this fact as well, and say, "See God made sure those explosives never went off".  

Others may point to the downstairs neighbor who says she thought of entering apartment when the loud music started playing on a timer, but decided against it.  Must have been her "guardian angel", right?  Not so much.  Legally speaking, many people would probably be reluctant to enter someone else's apartment, since one might be charged with trespass, breaking and entering, etc.  Also, it's unlike that a woman would enter an apartment late at night, because she might fear being raped or otherwise attacked by the guy inside.  Holmes is variously reported to be somewhere between 6 feet tall and 6' 3".  BTW, one wonders why she and not her boyfriend went in the first place, or why she didn't call the police first, instead of going to bang on the door.  If she had done that however, that too would have been interpreted as some sort of telepathic message from God telling her not to go up there in person.  In reality, it is just common sense.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Did God Allow James Holmes to Kill or Not.

Religious fanatics have a curious talent for talking out of both sides of their mouths (and other orifices too ;-) ) especially when it comes to things like a senseless act of violence, such as the one perpetrated in Aurora.  For example, many religious people will say that God allowed James Holmes to carry out mass murder, even though he doesn't approve of it and doesn't want people to behave this way, because God gives all people "free will".  Of course, what is free will to a lunatic like Holmes anyway, who probably doesn't even know what he is doing half the time?  For all we know, Holmes was already on psychoactive medication, or was self-medicating, which would necessarily deprive him of complete free will in the first place.  For convenience we will label this line of argument as Exhibit A, and as emanating from the left side of their mouths.

At the same time, often the same people, will alternately propose that this was actually a necessary part of God's plan and that He allowed it on purpose to accomplish some inscrutable "Greater Good".   Label this as Exhibit B, and emanating from the right side of their mouths.  So which is it?

You see it can't be both.  If God didn't want it to happen, but let it happen due to free will this is different from God wanting it to happen and making sure it happened in order to accomplish some "higher purpose".  As to the first argument, on free-will, it is notable that, in the process of God protecting the free will of lunatic James Holmes, he necessarily deprived a dozen others of their free wills.  In other words, He could have intervened and given Holmes a fatal heart attack before he even drive over to the movie theater.  Interestingly, this would not have even technically interfered with Mr. Holmes's "will" because he was free to "will" these murders to take place, even though he was not actually able to carry it out.  As we know, no such intervention took place.  But, in choosing to not intervene, God has still made a choice (to paraphrase the Rush lyrics). He has spared Mr. Holmes when he could have spared the victims.  So if God's priority is preserving free-will, it seems that he has allowed more free-wills to be snuffed out than preserved.

Alternately, if this was part of God's plan then Mr. Holmes was actually acting as the approved and authorized agent of God.  That's not a comforting thought.  Perhaps there is a reason beyond human understanding that a dozen people need to be murdered in a movie theater, but it sounds like an "ends justify means" type of scenario.  Are we to truly believe that no other technique would have accomplished God's alleged higher purpose than brutal mass-murdering?

Furthermore, on Exhibit B, people often claim that God engaged in a variety of "minor miracles", which would seem to violate "free will".  For example, some will insist that He steered one of the bullets a half-inch to the right, so that it missed a critical organ.  But that would mean that He is picking and choosing who lives and dies, and is very much monkeying around with their capacity for free will.  These "minor miracles" still have a major impact on free-will if makes the difference between life and death.

Let's see if religious people can answer the question.  Does God interfere with people's free wills or not?  If he manipulates the events then this would appear to alter free will.  It would also mean that he cannot hide behind the free will excuse when it comes to the bad guys.  Why should only the bad people be unfettered to exercise their free wills, after all?

If God does not manipulate anyone's free will then this would imply that he really can't act in the world whatsoever, because almost anything He did could affect our free will.  But this would be in massive contradiction to most of the Bible, which says that he and his agents act all the time through a variety of miraculous mechanisms.  It would also be in contradiction to the whole purpose of prayer, as most people understand it, which is supplication that a particular event occur.

Oh, I know that apologists says that prayers and faith doesn't make things happen, but just helps us to accept the things He has already made.  But that is in contradiction to teaching like Mt 21:21, where Jesus himself says that, if you have even a tiny bit of faith "You can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done".  Isn't this getting God to act on your behalf, which is certainly intervening in the world, and might very well violate someone else's free will.  Too bad nobody in the theater thought to pray that James Holmes be thrown in the sea instead of shooting people.  

BTW, if you say that God did it to "get our attention" or "bring us closer together", I would seem that there is more than enough tragedy in the world without God having to gin up some extra violence, just to send us a collective text message, or remind us of the fragility of life.  So you all will have to do better than that.

Did James Holmes Do His Victims a Favor?

No sane person would think that the massacre that James Holmes perpetrated was a *good* thing.  However, when you listen to the consolation that pastors, priests, and other religious leaders will invariably offer, they will tell the families of the victims, "Your loved one is in a BETTER place" or even "God loved your family member SOOO much that he decided to take him to Heaven right away".  But, aside from these people pretending that they can read the mind of God, is this *really* a consolation.  They are almost making it sound like Mr. Holmes DID THEM A FAVOR by killing them, if you take their claims seriously.  After all, he helped them get to Heaven sooner.  Who wouldn't be in favor of that sweet deal, right?

Yet, somehow, I don't think that anyone really believes that Holmes did his victims a favor.  Even the preachers who are feeding you this baloney know that they wouldn't want someone to pull out a gun and "send them to Heaven".  Yet it's the only card they have to play, in their religious worldview.

Similarly, when religious fanatics say, "God decided to take so-and-so, because he was TOO good for this Earth", they are making it sound like James Holmes was acting on God's behalf and doing God's will.  Yet, I somehow don't think that an all-powerful being like God really needs a whacked out nerd like Holmes to carry out his plans.  So this is another type of apologetic that religious people really shouldn't use to try to console grieving families.

There are, of course, other ways of looking at it.  Epitectus, the ancient Greek Stoic philosopher, made a purely rational argument for why we shouldn't fear death, even if there is no afterlife.  He simply pointed out that death is not a place or a condition.  It is the lack of life.  We will not experience it, because experiencing it would imply that we were somehow alive to interact with it.  Rather, it is just a cessation.  All your burdens and your pains are over.  Of course, you can no longer experience the good stuff either, because there is no "you" any longer.  But either way, you won't have to worry about it.  It is the anticipation of death that seems to create the most agony.

But I certainly still don't think that this means that Holmes did any of his victims any favors.  I just don't think that attempting to sugar-coat it with lies about the loved ones going to a Magic Candy Land in the sky actually help the situation.  We often believe that we can invent certain kinds of lies that make people feel better, as Ricky Gervais examined in his comedy _The Invention of Lying_.  But the problem with these lies about the afterlife, and lies in general, is that you can't tell just one lie.  One lie invariably leads to another, as now the pastor has to explain why he doesn't want to go join his parishioners in Magic Candy Land.

Pat Roberson, for example, despite claiming to fervently believe in Heaven and the ability of Jesus to heal infirmities, immediately runs to the hospital whenever he has the slightest malady, because he is afraid of dying.  Why would that be, if Heaven is such a great place?  Why wouldn't he want to hang around and kick it with Jesus and the Saints all day?  It makes you wonder if he really believes his own rhetoric, doesn't it.

James Holmes can still go to Christian Heaven

Here's a cheery thought.  Mass-murderer James Holmes, who the evidence suggests is a Christian, undoubtedly did a terrible thing, but according to his religion, he still gets to spend an eternity in heaven if he just says,"Sorry, Jesus, my bad".  It doesn't matter what terrible things you do in your life, according to standard Christian dogma, because Jesus was all about forgive and forget, right?

Of course, you may be thinking, why does Jesus get to declare his sins null and void?  What about the victims who actually suffered?  Jesus is effectively saying, it doesn't matter what the victims think or how you hurt them.  As long as you believe in me, here's your "Get Out of Hell Free" card.  Besides, it doesn't appear that Holmes is in possession of all his marbles, so there is a good chance that he is not even entirely aware of all that he did.  According to Christian doctrine, he can repent for this and then go do it again, and again, and again.  As long as he finally repents on his death bed and accepts Jesus then all will be forgiven and he will get to enjoy the same eternal bliss as the most innocent and peaceful people who ever lived.  

Can you imagine that conversation in Heaven.  
Holmes:  "Hi, Saint Peter".  Sorry abuot that killing a bunch of people thingy, but Jesus said it was all good because I believe that He turned some water into wine a couple thousand years ago and then walked on it. "
Peter:  "Very good, Mr. Holmes, we will put you in the suite right next to Mother Teresa.  By the way, what kinds of fantasies would you like to experience in heaven?"
Holmes: "Well, I was wondering if you could dress me up like the Joker, and let me kill people again."
Peter:" Naughty, naughty, Mr. Holmes.  Anyway, it's heaven so people can't die anymore.  But we could let you pretend to kill people.  Here's a video game console."

Friday, July 20, 2012

James Holmes Less Delusional/Destructive Than Many Religious Fanatics and Apologists

It is easy to identify someone like James Holmes as a crazy person, probably of the paranoid schizophrenic variety, who unfortunately went undiagnosed.  He doesn't appear to have any clearly radical ties to political or religious fanaticism, though preliminary indications are that he was raised as a Christian, and perhaps was still practicing, according to a local pastor.

However, on reflection, the violence committed by Mr. Holmes pales by comparison to the violence committed by many heroes of the Bible.  Killing a dozen people was pretty much a normal day for a guy like Samson or Joshua or Moses, who frequently ordered the wholesale slaughter of other tribes or even of their own followers who disobeyed them.  Mr. Holmes has nothing on the Crusades or the Inquisition or the various purges and pogroms ordered by religious leaders against those deemed "heretics".  Even more contemporary individuals like Jim Jones or David Koresh make Holmes look like a veritable lightweight.  He might have planned his crime for a few months, but these individuals planned theirs for years.

Strangely, while most people can instantly describe a man like Holmes, who thinks he is "The Joker",  as certifiably nuts, a great many people are not able to draw similar conclusions about David Koresh, or Jim Jones. The reason seems clear.  Koresh and Jones masked their paranoid delusions behind religion, which is unjustifiably declared off-bounds for criticism in much of traditional American culture.  This is particularly true in the Bible-belt, where constant excuses are made whenever religious people say or do crazy things.

By the way, the same pastor who thinks that Holmes may have attended his church in the weeks before the massacre says that he is A-OK with God allowing this massacre to take place because "God doesn't make us robots".  So apparently Mr. Holmes would have gotten no useful counsel from this church. Heck, perhaps they would have encouraged him to do it just to show what a wonderful thing "free will" is.

Can you believe that the blood is not even dried, and this scumbag is already making excuses for why you can't blame an allegedly all-powerful being for not caring enough to intervene.  Ain't the free will excuse grand?  By their logic, if you leave a handgun on a playground it's not your fault if kids play with it and kill themselves or others.  After all, those kids had "free will" dontcha know, and "God doesn't make us robots".

See, apparently, if God had made Mr. Holmes's gun jam after the first bullet then this would have negated the "free will" of all humans, and turned us into robots.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  That is the kind of baloney that religious apologists are in the business of selling .  It's so ridiculous, it almost makes Holmes look a little closer to sane by comparison.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Are Romney's Tax Returns in His Magic Undies?

One has to wonder why Mitt Romney doesn't want to turn over his tax returns for the previous twelve years before 2012.  A lot of people say that it is because he likely exploited tax loop holes to effectively pay zero taxes for more than a decade.  Of course, we will never know.  My own personal theory is that this has to do with his religion.  I am suggesting that, perhaps he printed his tax documents on the same material out of which magic mormon undies are made.  That was pretty craft.  It would then allow him to claim the religious prerogative not to reveal his taxes on the grounds that no good Mormon should be going around flashing his magic underpants to the entire rest of the United States.  Of course, no good Mormon should be a constant, compulsive liar like Romney either.  If you ask the guy what time it is, he'll give you three different answers and then deny that he told you any of those.

Now I know that Mormons of late have started to claim that they are offended when people refer to this ludicrous undergarments, which are probably made in Chinese sweatshops anyway, as "magic underwear".  They claim that we would not be so disrespectful about the dress of people in other religions.  That simply shows that they haven't been paying attention.  People always make fun of the dots on the foreheads of Hindus, and the Pope's funny hats, and the "beanies" that jews wear, etc, etc.  It is all in good fun, of course, because, for anyone outside of the religion there is no expectation that the signficance of the garments, or even the names for them will be widely know.  Also, no reasonable person expects others outside their own religion to really respect the bizarre beliefs of those inside the religion.  For example, many of the tens of thousands of sects of Christianity claim that all other Christians are "lost" and probably "going to hell", and those are their fellow Christian brethren.  One can only imagine the tortures they envision for those outside the faith as arguably Mormonism could be classified.  Mormons, by the way, are do different in their generalized intolerance (if not bigotry) toward all those who are non-Mormon.  Many are know to refer to all non-Mormon, including Jews, as "gentiles".

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why aren't Catholics Opposed to Gastric Bypass, endobarriers, artificial sweetener, etc?

Catholic fanatics are increasingly isolated in their nonsensical opposition to contraception.  Their objections, as we shall see below, primarily center on two areas -- abuse of pleasure and the supposed natural purpose of an act.  However, by these standards, all kinds of things, such as the use of gastric bypass or artificial sweeteners, should also be banned by Catholics, and yet we hear not a peep.  Remember, it's not like churches are above trying to run the minute details of peoples' lives. Mormons, for example, ban caffeine, and the Catholic church, at least in the past, had the totally fabricated "fish on Friday" rule.

Consider the first case of abuse of pleasure.  This same argument, by the way, can be used against things like masturbation.  So, before Protestants get too high and mighty, they pretty much use the same logic to oppose masturbation that they reject when they permit contraception.

The objection goes like this.  In the case of contraception, or masturbation for that matter, which is basically what a person using a condom could be seen as doing, only with the assistance of another person's body, these individuals are engaging in sexual activity for the purposes of pleasure alone.  That is the assertion, anyway. It is actually not clear, in the case of conjugal activity, that the sole purpose of the sex act would be for selfish pleasure.  There could be more than one purpose, after all, such as bonding with a partner in a way more intimate than what is done on the mere "friendship" level.

However, for the sake of argument, let's stipulate that, in cases like a casual hookup or "one-night stand", that the purpose of the act is exclusively for pleasure.  Aside from the fornication part of the act, Catholics would argue that this is wrong BECAUSE God's intended purpose for the sex act is procreation, not merely pleasure.  They argue that the pleasure is there as a reward for making proper use of the sex act, but that it should not be done solely for reward.  

If that is true, however, then there should be a similar problem with using artificial sweeteners.  These substances are designed to taste sweet, but have no calories.  Presumably the purpose that God had for eating is not merely for pleasure.  The most reasonable possible reason we have for eating is to provide energy to our bodies.  However, artificial sweeteners bypass all of this.  They provide no energy to the body and they exist solely to give us the (selfish) pleasure/reward associated with eating, without the consequences.  Remember that gluttony is also a mortal sin, along with lust.  Obtaining selfish pleasure with one's mouth is not inherently less "sinful" than obtaining pleasure using one's genitals.  Yet artificial sweeteners have been around for many decades and we see no such prohibition emerging from the bureaucratic apparatus of the Church.

Let's take this a step further. Take gastric bypass, for example.  Catholic hospitals perform this procedure.  However, this creates the same problem as artificial sweeteners on steroids.  It allows one to avoid all kinds of calories, not just special foods, and to indulge in the pleasure of eating without the negative consequences.  Of course, it also has health benefits, but some have argued that frequent sex and masturbation confer health benefits as well, not the least of which might be mood enhancement, lower stress, etc.  

There is, in fact, something even beyond gastric bypass surgery these days.  It is called an endobarrier, and it basically like a several foot long, open-ended condom that is unwrapped on the inside of a patient's intestine.  It doesn't even require surgery.  The purpose is to prevent the absorption of food calories, just as the purpose of contraception is to prevent the absorption of sperm by an ova.  

It allows one to indulge in the pleasure of eating.  In fact, one can safely be a glutton using such technology, whereas gastric bypass often limits what one can eat on a practical level, without getting sick, due to limited digestion potential.  However, as far as I know there is no Catholic ban on endobarriers, or any of these other methods of circumventing normal digestion for the purposes of enjoy the pleasures of eating.  Theoretically, even better technologies might come along, which would allow the stimulation of pleasure directly in the brain without eating, sex, etc?  Would this finally be enough to garner the church's ire, one wonders?  

There are also more technical objections to catholic prohibitions on contraception.   According to the folks over at catholic.com, they define contraception as “any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible”  (Humanae Vitae 14).  Well this is a remarkably bad definition of contraception because, technically, none of them make it "impossible".  In fact Catholics themselves often loudly insist that condoms don't even work that well.  They are certainly not 100% effective, and therefore procreation is far from "impossible".  I suppose that, if they wanted to be more "romantic" or perhaps even "sporting" about things that they could expose the condoms to heat or prestress them as a means of making them more likely to break.  Would this make them more acceptable in that they make procreation more "possible"?  Sure, they make procreation *less likely* but that is not the same as making it impossible.  Might this fact be used one day by the church to justify the use of contraception after all? 

One could also theoretically conceive of a contraception method that allowed one and only one sperm to be released, for example.  Would that satisfy the Catholic requirement about being open to the possibility of procreation?  

For that matter, one could argue that artificial sweeteners also only reduce the risk of calories, because some of them, such as Splenda, can break down, with excess heat, into normal sugar.  So if Catholics ever want to consider banning these, I am arguing, in advance, that these do not make calorie absorption impossible.  Certainly endobarriers and gastric bypasses allow some calories through.  

The point is that opposition to contraception does not appear to be on any kind of sound logical foundation, and is contradicted, in practice, by the use of other technologies, as I have noted above.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Catholic Melinda Gates Supports Contraception ... fanatics go ballistic

Billionairess Melinda Gates, you know Bill Gates's wife, is a practicing Catholic, but she, and her foundation want to make contraception and other family planning services available to 120 million women worldwide.  In TED talks and elsewhere, Melinda has argued that contraception is NOT CONTROVERSIAL.  Indeed, she is merely one of the 98% of Catholic women who reject as foolish and falsely-reasoned the Catholic teaching against contraception.  More to the point, Gates correctly notes that millions of women's lives could be saved every year through access to contraception.  It is estimated that 200 million women worldwide want to have access to contraception, but cannot afford or obtain it.  Additionally, there are 80 million unintended pregnancies annually and these are often in areas where medical care is lacking and female mortality risk is high.  Put another way, the Vatican has the blood of these women on their hands, due to their  fraudulent teaching banning the use of this life-saving technology.  It is no different than if they were to ban vaccinations or hearth transplants, and believe me, these were technologies that the Vatican was not crazy about either.  But they eventually allowed those and strangely hung onto contraception.  

The great irony, of course, is that many abortions could be avoided with access to contraception.  Any true Catholic who is interested in preventing abortions understands, as I have argued that "Prophylactics are Pro-life".  Indeed, the Gates Foundation does not give money to support abortion, but they do support family planning through other mechanisms, including the use of existing contraception technology, and the development of even better technologies in the future.  

Mrs. Gates should be doubly-commended, not only for her commitment to doing great good for the world through her foundation, but also for having the courage to stand up to the fanatic elements in her own church who still teach the error of anti-contraceptionism.  

Of course, this is still an organization that will not accept women in the priesthood.  As some have pointed out, if the church doesn't want to accept women into the priesthood, perhaps they should stop baptizing and confirming them. If they are too unclean for the priesthood, perhaps they should stop allowing them to receive communion.  

One day the Vatican will ordain women as priests, and one day they will accept contraception, and on that day they will deny that they ever taught any differently.  However, until then, Catholic women are playing their part exactly right by simply ignoring the ridiculous patriarchial nonsense.  They are showing, yet again, that the church membership itself, not the self-appointed "leaders", actually defines what it means to be Catholic and that definition now effectively is one that uses contraception, just like any other Protestant denomination.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

German Muslims Insist on *right* to mutilate genitals

Female circumcision is roundly condemned in the western world, but male circumcision is still standard policy. That is, it's OK to allow parents the "right" to mutilate the genitals of their young boys, just not the girls. Well apparently change is afoot, since a German court ruled that no such "right" exists. See, for those who don't understand what a right it, it is something personal that you can do to yourself. That's why the popular dictum says "Your rights stop at the other guy's nose". So parental "rights" would equally stop at the other person's penis. Naturally, this has lead to cries by German Muslims for the German legislature to pass new laws reversing the court decision, so that they can continue their barbaric practices of chopping off the foreskin that God apparently put there just so it would need to be painfully lopped off.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mormons Officially Racism-Free Since 1978***

Mormons are really feeling their oats these days with their champion empty-suited, ultra--materialistic Mitt Romney as the presumptive Republican nominee. Therefore, the first order of business is to tar anyone who questions their bizarre religious beliefs with charges of "bigotry" or even "reverse racism". I didn't know that Mormonism was a separate race myself, but apparently they are whiter-than-whitee, and this sets them apart from the rest of us. This is the reverse of the scenario in the black communities where lighter skinneed blacks, like Obama or Colin Powell, are viewed with suspicion. In this case, Mormons seem to implicitly feel that the whiter you are, the better, and thus the magic undergarments are needed to preserve an almost gothic-like whiteness. As it turns out, there is some basis for this white-power sentiment in their scripture. 2 Nephi 5:21 describes God turning the skin of the Lamanites black as a curse on them, and future generations born black. Presumably, however, according to Mormon reasoning, if black people were really sorry about their blackness and all, then their children might one day be born white, bright, and outta sight. Gosh, what could possibly be "racist" about a Mormon doctrine like that? In fact, if you dare question these doctrines in Mormonism, their adherents say that makes you the *racist* and the *bigot* for criticizing their racist scripture. Got it? It's like when David Duke and other KKKers claim that they are actually the ones being oppressed by not being allowed to discriminate against all non-whites. But, unlike the Klan, the LDS Church has officially cleaned up its act. You see, back in 1978, the equivalent of the Mormon Pope, Spencer Kimball, woke up one day and decided that Mormons were no longer racist. This was curiously at odds with other well known leaders, like Brigham Young, who felt that interracial marriages were an abomination and who instituted the ban of blacks in the priesthood. It required a little gymnastics to get around the fact that racism was written into the Book of Mormon also. He basically had to argue that, in his personal opinion, that God was turning the skin tint of Native American Mormons gradually whiter, and that one day, if they were good, they could be as white as him. The same would apply to blacks, of course, though presumably it would require longer. But, because of that revelation that God was gradually lightening the skin color of non-white Mormons and was "lifting the curse", this meant that these people could participate in the priesthood. Curiously, this was decided in a time when bans on interracial marriage were increasingly unacceptable in the US, and Mormons were looking for converts in various parts of the world where dark skin was the norm. So you decide if Momonism is now officially racism free, and can now go on a jihad where they label other people bigots and racists for questioning their "sacred" beliefs.