In the aftermath of the horrendous movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, attention has turned to the heroic sacrifices of three young men who gave their lives trying to protect the ones they loved. Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves are rightfully being hailed as heroes for their selfless actions that saved the lives of their girlfriends in the heat and confusion of the moment.
It’s called the ultimate sacrifice for a reason. When you give your life to save another, there is nothing more to give. But when people begin pushing religion into the picture, which always seems to happen in America after tragic events like this, things become decidedly more murky.
Let’s assume that the Christian “God of the Bible” exists for a moment. It would mean that the men who so selflessly gave up their lives to protect their girlfriends are in one of two places right now–Heaven or Hell–and according to the Bible, their sacrifice has absolutely no bearing on which one they found themselves in. The only thing that matters is whether they were born-again believers when they died.
Wow, what a frustrating 50 minutes. I’ve just finished listening to the latest Thinking Atheist podcast, where Seth Andrews interviews Christian apologist Sye ten Bruggencate, who created the web site Proof That God Exists where he claims to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that God exists.
The kicker is that he claims in the podcast that his logic is incontrovertible because it is God given. Therefore, if you reject his logic as flawed, then the fault is not with his arguments, but with you, for not being a true Christian. If you were a true Christian, then you would have no argument with his logic. This, of course, is a classic example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.
Here is the podcast. It’s worth a listen, just don’t be holding anything heavy in your hand, you might end up throwing it at your monitor.
How on earth did this idiot get be a Congressman?
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) says he’s heard that almost half of all the Democrats in Congress are secretly part of the Communist Party.
He offered no names or proof of his accusation.
West told almost 100 Floridians in Palm City on Tuesday that “he’s heard” as many as 80 Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist Party, according to the Palm Beach Post.
This is so depressing. It would be silly enough to accuse a bunch of Democrats of having secret socialist sympathies, but it’s an entirely whole new level of crazy to claim that there are dozens of actual, card carrying members of the Communist Party in Congress. Just how dumb do you need to be to believe this crap?
What’s worse is it’s likely that a majority of the constituents who voted for him believe it too, or at the very least believe it to be possible. After all, many of them believe that when Barack Obama is done being a secret Muslim Nazi during his day job, he attends midnight Communist Party strategy sessions on how to bring down America from within.
It might be funny if this type of belief wasn’t so pervasive amongst conservative voters. I mean, how on Earth can you even begin to have a rational debate over the future of country when millions of Americans believe that a large number of Democrats harbor secret plans to foment violent revolution in the streets and turn the nation into the Soviet Socialist States of America? Not only is it not rational to believe this sort of nonsense, it is profoundly irrational. From a scale of one to ten, well, it’s off the deep end.
One of the more pointless aspects of the continuing war of words between believers and non-believers in America is the scope and ferocity of the debate over the latest high profile defection from one side or the other.
Over the last few years, no defection (if one can even call it that) was more famous than that of the British philosopher, Antony Flew, who declared his conversion from atheism to deism, if not theism, in the last few years of his life.
More recently, a far less prominent atheist–someone I have never heard of–called Patrick Greene, claims to have become a Christian thanks to some local Christians who helped him in his hour of need. (Another blog now claims to have received an email from him that puts his conversion in doubt, but frankly, I don’t think it matters much either way.)
Going the other way, Theresa MacBain, a Methodist minister was lauded when she came out as an atheist at this year’s American Atheists Conference.
But while there is no doubt that these individual conversions spark a lot of debate, and can be a great fillip to those on the side gaining the new convert, I tend to believe that in the grand scheme of things, they don’t mean a great deal.
When a book store advertisement on the radio station you’ve just tuned into begins by thanking the Southern Poverty Law Center for adding them to their list of extremist anti-government “patriot” groups, you know you’ve left the rational world behind.
Thus began the ad for Brave New Books I heard on the local affiliate of the Genesis Communications Network which claims to be the “number one alternative talk radio network in the world” covering “a wide range of topics” including “current events, politics, gardening, auto, health, travel, lifestyle, nutrition, entertainment and home improvement.”
From what I have heard so far, there is one thing that unites their apparently varied programming output–it’s certifiably insane.
The fact that Alex Jones is their headlining talk show host–a man who has, quite literally, gotten fat off the profits made from scaring low information listeners with lurid tales of the New World Order takeover for the last 15 years–should be all you need to know about the sanity of the rest of their output, but sadly business appears to be booming. I guess that should not be too surprising since the majority of the advertising seems to want to provide comfort and succor to the poor, frightened listeners who have had the pants scared off them by Alex Jones and cohorts. For example, if you’ve been caught in a natural disaster, there’s no need to go to a FEMA
concentration refugee camp when you can pump water out of your own well with your own handy dandy portable water pump, and there’s no need to risk being caught with worthless bank balances when you can buy gold bullion and keep all your assets safely stuffed in your mattress.
I guess one should be grateful that at least some of these companies are actually selling tangible goods as opposed to the false promises of religious radio, but that’s small comfort when you realize that most of the stuff will simply sit rotting in garages waiting for the New World Order-engineered crisis that will never come.
If there is anything the Catholic talk radio station “Relevant Radio” wants you to know about itself, it’s that they are staunchly “pro-life.” Yet, when I tuned in on my way home this afternoon, they presented me with a wonderful example of just how much religious belief can devalue the very lives they claim to care so much about.
They were reading out an email from a listener whose seventeen year old daughter was in the process of looking for a job and had mentioned that she was thinking about applying to the local offices of–horror, of horrors–Planned Parenthood.
This mother said it was the worst moment of her life–even worse than the time when she had heard that her son had been involved in a serious car accident and almost died. Imagine that–the thought that your daughter was about to apply for a job at an abortion provider was actually more horrific than hearing that your son had almost lost his life in a car crash.
Her rationalization was that it would be better for her son to lose his life than for her daughter to lose her soul.
But that’s just the foolishness of one ignorant Catholic listener, right?
Wrong. This is precisely the kind of logical thinking that derives from the hopelessly flawed belief in the existence of an eternal soul apart from the physical body. After all, at most your body will only last a few decades, but your soul will be around for eternity–countless billions upon billions of years. Thus nothing about our ephemeral life here on Earth can match up to the importance of your soul ending up in the right place (i.e. not Hell) when you die.
If this woman truly had the courage of her convictions, she would rather have driven a knife through her daughter’s heart than allow her to do anything that would result in her soul being condemned to Hell. Fortunately, most religious people aren’t quite that crazy that they would go through with it.
I happened to hear Cal Thomas’ daily commentary earlier today (April 3rd) and all I can say is “Ugh!”
SOMETIMES THE NEW YORK TIMES MAKES ME LAUGH. HERE’S THE HUMOROUS HEADLINE FROM SUNDAY’S PAPER: “ISLAMIST GROUP BREAKS PLEDGE TO STAY OUT OF RACE IN EGYPT.”
IN OTHER WORDS, MUSLIMS LIE, JUST AS THEY ARE INSTRUCTED TO DO TO INFIDELS BY THEIR KORAN. I HAVE PREDICTED THAT THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WANTED TO TAKE OVER EGYPT AND FOR THAT MATTER THE REST OF ARAB COUNTRIES. FEW WOULD LISTEN AND NO ONE AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT APPEARS TO BE LISTENING. THEY THINK DIPLOMACY AND SHOWING MUSLIMS ALL THE MOSQUES WE HAVE ALLOWED IN AMERCA WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND THEY WILL DECIDE NOT TO KILL US HERE IN AMERICA.
THOSE WHO BELIEVE THIS ARE FOOLS. YES, YOU HEARD ME. THEY ARE FOOLS. MUSLIMS PERSECUTE AND KILL JEWS AND CHRISTIANS IN THEIR COUNTRIES. WHAT MAKES US THINK BEING NICE WILL MAKE THEM PERSECUITE LESS, OR CEASE FROM WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS THEIR MANDATE FROM ALLAH TO CONTROL THE WORLD?
THAT ISN’T “ISLAMOPHOBIA,” AS MY CRITICS CLAIM. IT IS WHAT MANY OF THEIR LEADERS SAY. GROUPS LIKE CAIR CANNOT AND WILL NOT DENY IT. I’M CAL THOMAS IN WASHINGTON.
(Spelling mistakes are in the original, and for the life of me I don’t understand why they need to publish the transcripts capitalized and in bold. It’s as if they don’t know it brands him as being nothing more than the stereotypical religious fundamentalist ignoramus.)
Reading the transcript made me cringe as much as I did when I heard it originally, and if his diatribe not an example of “Islamophobia” then the word has no meaning. It would be hard for anyone to cram more incendiary paranoia into a minute of broadcast time.
News is just coming in of yet another horrific school shooting, this time at the Oikos University in Oakland, California:
Police captured a suspect in a shooting at a California religious college that resulted in “multiple fatalities” Monday, an Oakland police spokeswoman said.
A SWAT team entered Oikos University in East Oakland to make sure no other shooters or wounded people were on the campus building, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.
“We are interviewing the witnesses right now to try to determine if this person is known to them,” Watson said, shortly before confirming that a suspect was in custody.
This is already the sixth such incident this year, following on from ten more last year, and that’s only including shootings that have occurred on school premises.
Now, these tragedies can and do happen anywhere in the world, but for some reason they are occurring much more frequently in the United States than they do in other countries–especially when compared with other wealthy democratic nations. Here, they are becoming an almost monthly occurrence, whereas in most other countries such shootings happen only once in a generation, if that.
The question is why?
As I was looking up some statistics for my post about the Mega Millions player who was struck by lightning, I was struck too–by the yawning gap in perspective between being a victim and being a statistic.
It’s only natural for anyone who is struck by lightning and survives to question why it should happen to them, and if they are at all religious, it’s likely that they would attribute some kind of supernatural significance to it. Someone struggling with addiction may decide that it was God’s warning to clean up their act. Someone else might believe that it’s a wake up call to pay more attention to their children, and so on.
People impacted by these events often ask questions like, “Why me?” “How did I survive?” “Why did I survive?” and are rarely they satisfied with answers like “Stuff happens” or “You just got lucky.” They typically want a more spiritual explanation for what happened to them, and they usually find it.
Yet, when you pull the perspective way back and examine the statistics for the number of people stuck by lightning in the United States every year, it’s really hard to find anything of great significance buried in the data.
Here are the numbers of lightning-related deaths in the USA between 2001 and 2010:
44, 51, 43, 32, 38, 48, 45, 27, 34, 29
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