Category : fundamentalism

Perhaps it’s obvious to say that there are political undercurrents at work in the Iranian Revolution 2009 we’re witnessing, but it goes well beyond the streets of Tehran. This is a global phenomenon and it bodes ill for the Old Ways.

If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a little more savvy than most, but for those who are new to social media this coup attempt is shining a light on something certain elements within our political structure have tried to keep hidden: Iranians are just like us.

That might not seem like such a radical statement, but when you’re in the business of demonizing people it’s an earth-shattering revelation. Here in America, our government and our media have been in the business of demonizing Iran for the last 30 years. If the revolution succeeds and Ahmadinejad is thrown into the dustbin of history then our government will not have a despotic Iran to kick around any more. Early indications are that the people of Iran and Mousavi’s hypothetical government will favor normalizing relations with America, or at least responding favorably to Obama’s overtures.

You might think this would make the neocons very happy, but that is not the case. Blogger Andrew Sullivan has been on top of the revolution from the get-go and he says: “Even I am a little taken aback by the neocons’ desire for an Ahmadinejad victory.”

The sad truth is that a lot of people are scared of change and they don’t like it when their favorite whipping-horse suddenly grabs the reins with his teeth.

Given the incredible impact that social media has had in this election/coup it should not be surprising if hardline forces –not just in Iran — take a dim view of social media in the future.

The first thing the illegitimate Iranian government did when it saw trouble brewing was to block Facebook and Twitter. Cell phone service was taken down in many areas. Mousavi’s website was taken out by government forces.

It’s obvious why: Social media is an inherently democratizing force.

Allowing people to connect outside of traditional, controlled channels is dangerous for any repressive regime. People can share news instantly, they can plan, they can support each other and they can warn each other of danger. This used to be the province of the authorities with their rigid hierarchies, their walkie-talkies and their chains of command.

Now anybody with a cellphone can change the world with a hashtag.

I say again: Iranians are just like us. They love Facebook and have a Mousavi fan page with 50,000 supporters. They have been using Twitter (and Twitpic) extensively. (Check out this page for a list of English language Iranian twitterers). And videos depicting the mostly-peaceful marches today are already showing up on YouTube:

As night falls things are getting more violent. It’s too early to declare victory, but I think the world is starting to see that the divisions our mainstream media has helped our government create are largely an artifice of ignorance and omission. We are all the same on Facebook. We are one on Twitter.

Social media is the bane of dictators everywhere, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But we have to be ready for the backlash against social media by those hardline forces stuck in the past. They may start to attack social media out of fear. We can’t let those repressive forces have their say anymore. If Iran can stand up for democracy, we can too.

This is some fucked up shit right here:

“It’s not a compound.”
“It’s a ranch. It’s our home.”
“We’re the most free women in the whole world!”

I’m gonna have nightmares.

The Onion has a pretty good track record of not only reporting the news before it happens, but making it funny, too. They’ve been eerily prescient before, but sometimes I forget just how good these guys are!

Just last month I posted a hilarious Onion TV video that featured a supposed al-Qaeda operative arguing with a 9/11 Truther. The video works on many levels, but for me it was funny because the al-Qaeda guy is so obviously spewing Bush administration talking points and desperately trying to claim credit for something clearly beyond their capabilities. He even brings a receipt for flight lessons and brags about his connections to the White House: “Me and Bush, we go out, we hang.”

The idea of al-Qaeda stepping up to defend the Bush administration’s version of events on 9/11 is pretty hilarious, but come on! That’s just over the top, right? It was a good chuckle and then we all moved on.

Apparently somebody thought this wasn’t funny enough in fiction so al-Qaeda has made it real!

Osama bin Laden‘s chief deputy in an audiotape Tuesday accused Shiite Iran of trying to discredit the Sunni al-Qaida terror network by spreading the conspiracy theory that Israel was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

Just sit back and soak that in. I didn’t make up that quote, amazingly.

One enemy of the U.S./Israel accusing the other of understating the first’s evil is funny enough, but this treads onto satire when al-Zawahri says blaming Israel makes Muslims look stupid!

“The purpose of this lie is clear — (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it,” he said.

Haha!! This is straight out of the Bush regime’s racist playbook. Look at the implication: Muslims can be heroes only if they’re terrorists! Only a moron or a stooge would admit such a thing about his own people. Sunni or Shi’ite, you’d think Zawahri would try to unify the sects against the Zionists, but instead he plays right into the Bush regime’s hands by simultaneously defaming Muslims everywhere (as if every Muslim is just itching for a chance to blow himself up!) and sowing divisiveness amongst his people at the same time. Zawahiri is either a tactical moron or a CIA stooge.

Could he actually expect to sway Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with this argument? Ahmadinejad may be an idiot, a tool and a loudmouth, but he is not a terrorist or a dictator. He is like Putin, a strongman that the people have turned to in order to provide a hedge against U.S. imperialism.

Ahmadinejad knows, like Putin, that the 9/11 attacks were self-inflicted in order to provide a pretext for Bush’s endless wars of conquest (and embarrassment). Heck, even our allies in Japan are starting to question the events of that day. In retrospect it looks like an incredible boon to an administration that has done nothing but evil with the goodwill generated worldwide in response to the tragedy.

Many people say the Bush administration is too incompetent to pull off the attacks and subsequent coverup, but I say al-Qaeda is too incompetent to do … much of anything! Call the Bush team what you will, but they are masters at manipulation and misdirection. They managed to steal two elections and they orchestrated an incredible propaganda campaign to trick the nation into war with Iraq. I remember watching the news back in early 2003 thinking I was living in an endless Twilight Zone episode. And what happened to the treasonous military men, the lying pundits and the architects of this atrocity? Well they’re mostly still around and many of them have been promoted!

People need to realize that the Bush administration isn’t incompetent when it comes to stuff like Katrina: They just don’t give a fuck! … There’s a difference. They look after their own, not a bunch of poor folks who don’t vote Republican anyway.

Al-Qaeda is a CIA-sponsored group whose only role is to draw attention away from the real terrorists. This is common knowledge among the elite, although some still cling to a twisted sort of incompetence theory:

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally “the database”, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, Bin Laden’s organisation would turn its attention to the west.

Oh, I think it occurred to them alright. It was the plan all along. You think the CIA can’t “take care of” a few jihadis waving around U.S.-made stinger missile launchers? The CIA doesn’t just let anybody play with their toys. They can find you. After all, details about members of al-Qaeda are, by definition, in “The Database.”

That raises another question: Who the fuck would name their terrorist organization after a “structured collection of records or data that is stored in a computer system“?!

I have an idea. I’m going to start an organization dedicated to the Liberation of the Great State of Minnesota from the Oppressive Federal Government of the United States of America. I’m going to name this organization….. Pants!

What do you think? “Pants” … or “Pants!”? … I’m not sure, does the exclamation point sell it?

Anyway, my point is that it’s completely fucking ridiculous. I just made my hypothetical liberation front look clueless, stupid…. and somewhat artistic, I guess. Maybe “al-Qaeda” would make a good, Dadaist band name in Arabic, but it doesn’t do shit for a supposedly committed bunch of terrorists.

Let’s look at other “terrorist” organizations and what kind of names they have (I’ll assign grades based soley on the clarity and effectiveness of the name, not their tactics or ideology):

  • The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – localized, religious and grassroots. These guys know how to name a group. Doesn’t lock them into terrorism either. B+
  • The Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group – very straightforward
    ; we know right away they’re into Islam, fighting and Morocco. However, isn’t this a little open-ended? Most groups start with a specific cause… you know, like freeing their homeland or something. These guys just feel “combative”, apparently. It should be no surprise they’re affiliated with al-Qaeda. B-
  • The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ( الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين ) – very savvy name. They’re playing the populism card, plus you know exactly what their goals are. A
  • The Irish National Liberation Army – once again, very straightforward. You know what they want and who they represent right away. Would this front be as popular if they were named “fishsticks”? I doubt it. B
  • The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord – even though these guys aren’t clear about what they want, it’s obvious they’re into Jesus and swordplay. Kinda makes you wanna learn more about’em too, but not really. I’m giving it a better grade because it rhymes. C+
  • The United Liberation Front of Asom – pretty clear what they’re after here. I like the unity reference; makes you think they’re a big tent liberation front. But like most Americans I didn’t know where the hell Asom is (northeast India). A-

I have to give al-Qaeda a D- for their crappy name. I would give them an F, but the randomness of it is pretty funny… except for the whole killing and murder thing. But that’s the rub; I just don’t buy these guys as terrorist masterminds. They can’t even fucking name themselves right, so why would I think they could pull off 9/11? Even if you say, “okay, maybe ‘The Base’ refers to a military base” it makes no sense because the modus operandi of these guys is supposedly their decentralization. There is no main headquarters. They’re ostensibly a loose-knit group of cells that operate independently, yet aren’t really controlled by Osama either, who is mostly a figurehead who provides funding (or did… he’s probably dead). Let’s face it: “al-Qaeda” probably only makes sense if you don’t speak Arabic.

If you’re still not convinced al-Qaeda is a joke, watch an incredible BBC documentary called The Power of Nightmares. You’ll be glad you did.

As for me, I will continue to worry about the real terrorist organization plaguing this wretched earth: The Central Intelligence Agency. A look at their record exposes the deep hypocrisy of the United States government when it comes to terrorism:

  • You blow up a bus in Whogivesafuckistan? You’re a terrorist.
  • You overthrow a legitimate government and replace it with a puppet government that proceeds to butcher 500,000 of its own people? You’re a hero. Here’s your medal.

Even The Onion can’t make that level of hypocrisy funny.

The intellectual cowards over at the head office of the St. Thomas University adminstration should be ashamed. They have shown themselves to be contemptible weaklings without the guts or the will to hear viewpoints they may disagree with. And this institution is supposed to be a vanguard of academic freedom? For shame.

What am I talking about? I’m referring to St. Thomas’ recent decision to withhold an invitation to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

St. Thomas never invited Tutu to speak, but declined to approve an invitation as part of the PeaceJam, an event the school has hosted for the past four years. PeaceJam officials have now arranged to have the South African archbishop and activist speak at its April event, which will be held at Metropolitan State University.

St. Thomas officials said that local Jewish leaders they consulted felt that Tutu had made remarks offensive to the Jewish people in a 2002 speech about Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

Columbia University just made St. Thomas look like a bunch of backwater bush-league pussies. Nobody likes Ahmadinejad; that’s not the point. The point is the free exchange of ideas. If you don’t like what somebody says you don’t try to censor them, you use your freedom of speech to elucidate your opposition to said ideas. The president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, may have been a dick to Ahmadinejad, but at least he let the motherfucker speak. St. Thomas’ president, the Rev. Dennis Dease, won’t even let a fellow man of the cloth on campus. What a fucking pussy.

His lame-ass excuse “Teh Joos don’t like one speech he made dis one time!” is full of shit. What he means is “Some extreme-rightwing Zionist oppressor Jews don’t want nobody talking shit about the way they fuck over A-rabs in Palestine.” There, fixed it for you, Dease. (You can suck dees nuts)

In fact, Dease has been getting a lot of mail from Jewish groups saying, “Let this guy speak! We’re not anti-free speech! Why’d you listen to those assholes?!” [[ I'm paraphrasing in case you haven't noticed ]]

So, you might be wondering what crazy-ass shit this Tutu guy was spewing that pissed off the hard-right fascist/zionist types. Well, he said the most offensive thing you can possibly say to a warmonger: “Peace is possible.”

Israeli Jew, Palestinian Arab can live amicably side by side in a secure peace. And, as Cannon Ateek kept underscoring, a secure peace built on justice and equity. These two peoples are God’s chosen and beloved, looking in their face back to a common ancestor Abraham and confessing belief in the one creator God of salaam and shalom.

Oh man, that is some whack shit! Who let this guy in here?

Then he reveals his true hatred for teh Joos:

I give thanks for all that I have received as a Christian from the teachings of God’s people the Jews. When we were opposing the vicious system of apartheid, which claimed that what invested people with worth was a biological irrelevance – skin color – we turned to the Jewish Torah, which asserted that what gave people their infinite worth was the fact that they were created in the image of God.

He calls teh Joos “God’s people.” We’re clearly dealing with a loose cannon here, folks.

Seriously, that’s what the whole speech is like. He criticizes the occupation of Palestinian lands, but he clearly has problems with the Israeli government, not the Jewish people.

I with many other Nobel Peace Laureates. I, after taking counsel with the then Bishop of Jerusalem, am a member of the Board of the Shimon Peres peace center in Tel Aviv. I am a patron of the Holocaust center in Capetown. I believe that Israel has a right to secure borders, internationally recognized, in a land assured of territorial integrity and with acknowledged sovereignty as an independent country. That the Arab nations made a bad mistake in refusing to recognize the existence of sovereign and in pledging to work for her destruction. It was a short sighted policy that led to Israel’s nervousness, her high state of alert and military preparedness to guarantee her continued existence. This was understandable. What was no so understandable, what was not justifiable was what Israel did to another people to guarantee her existence. I have been very deeply distressed in all my visits to the Holy Land, how so much of what was taking place there reminded me so much of what used to happen to us Blacks in Apartheid South Africa.

This guy sees echoes of Apartheid in Israel. He was there. He expresses viewpoints not too far from middle-of-the-road Democrats in America. When did expressing disagreement with a foreign government become a censorable offense? Oh that’s right; when you’re a boot-licking fascist who wants to kiss the ass of future dictator George Bush. I guess Dease thinks he can become the Tsar of Education under a future King George. (Or whatever. Maybe he’s just a fucking idiot, I don’t know.)

The scary thing here is not the shoddy treatment of a Nobel laureate. He’ll speak on another campus, one not controlled by Nazis. He’ll be fine. No, the scary thing here is how incredibly fucking normal, sane and mainstream his ideas are. If this is how a Nobel laureate is treated by The Powers That Be, how are the rest of the us going to be treated when the other jackboot falls and we’re under martial law? Tutu’s beliefs are almost exactly in line with mainstream Democrats, Independents and even many Republicans. The main difference is that he’s an archbishop, an Apatheid survivor and a international icon.

Where the fuck does that leave the rest of us?

A shocking KSLA news report has confirmed the story we first broke last year, that Clergy Response Teams are being trained by the federal government to “quell dissent” and pacify citizens to obey the government in the event of a declaration of martial law. Economic Collapse? Another mass-casualty, false-flag attack? [/digg]

This is incredibly disturbing. Here’s the news clip for those who doubt:

Am I cynical to believe that something terrible will happen either right before or right after the elections (before inauguration)?

If it does, we’ve gotta stick together, organize and resist. This can’t happen to America. It’s like a nightmare you can’t wake up from.

Wow, okay, my last post went over like a lead balloon on Reddit. I thought it was fair and coherent, but apparently people disagreed with my conclusions and downmodded it as a result.

However, one guy (it could be a girl. Perhaps I assume too much) was rational, calm and intelligent enough to discuss it with me without a flamewar erupting. He’s known as Strontium90 in the comments of that last post. He continued the discussion over on reddit but I want to make sure y’all read this because I think his points are good, even though I’ve refuted most of them. Here’s what he had to say:

I commented on your blog as Strontium90. Unfortunately, you seem to be confused about what a null hypothesis is, the concept of the burden of proof, and the nature of positive/negative claims. You also dismiss the subtle differences between agnosticism and atheism as mere semantics, while insisting that something as innocuous as a water-like substance could be discovered, which we would call god. This is a double standard.

You also seem to be under the impression that atheists do not believe in gods because they do not like them, which is why you brought up several examples of gods that atheists would likely find favorable (such as the love-goddess) as a counter-example. Unfortunately, the repulsiveness of deities is not what causes atheism; their implausibility does.

You also seem to be unable to grasp bobbincygna’s analogy. I will attempt to elucidate.

[[[For readers: When I implied atheism is a religion someone responded: "If Atheism is a religion then not collecting stamps is a hobby." And then bobbincygna attempted to defend the analogy. -Vemrion]]]

On bobbincygna’s analogy:

Take the set of all hobbies out there. H = [hobbies]. This includes everything you would call a hobby, from collecting stamps to messing with telemarketers. Now, let us suppose that we take the (rather passive) activity of not collecting stamps. Is it reasonable to place it in that set? No, of course not. Someone who has no hobbies can call called an a [without] hobbyist [person who has a hobby or hobbies].

Now, take the set of all religions, from Buddhism to Scientology, call it R. All items in set R are characterized by various elements: the lionization of faith, the existence of holy books or scripture, the presence of some sort of supernatural elements, etc. Does a belief which simply consists of “I do not believe in the supernatural, I do not believe that books are holy, and I do not take extraordinary claims on faith” belong there? I don’t think so. It, like the lack of stamp collecting, is a lack of theistic belief. This is what atheism means – a [without] theism [belief in god].

Atheism, the most oft-displayed example of metaphysical naturalism, can be termed as a philosophy, or perhaps a meta-religious view (view about religion), but it certainly is not a religion. There are no holy texts, only books which effectively sum up the philosophical arguments against theism. There is no dogma among atheists, unless you count a lack of belief in gods. This does not really count though, because it is necessarily true that an atheist lacks belief in gods. And he certainly will not be excommunicated or disowned by his parents if he later professes theism. Faith is not celebrated, instead it is essentially abandoned in favor of reason. Leaders and followers do not exist: Richard Dawkins might be influencial, but I don’t consider his words to be gospel, and neither do most atheists. They happen to share a lot of his beliefs, though. There is no formalized ritual such as prayer, sacrifice, etc, which is another thing that sets atheists apart from theists.

Pretty well-reasoned, I thought. But I definitely want to challenge some of his assertions. Here is my response:

My apologies for the confusion over the water-diety. I didn’t make it clear, but I was referring to something similar to a water elemental — basically a spirit that is infused with one of the four elements (water is a compound, of course, but it’s also one of the classical elements), Fire, Earth, Air and Water (the Chinese add a 5th: Metal). It’s probably not a very good analogy since it’s completely hypothetical and imaginary, at least as far as science is concerned.

I grasp the stamp hobby analogy just fine. It’s a poor analogy, though, which you seem unable to grasp. Here’s why:

Collecting is an activity. Philately is a hobby. However, you could still be a philatelist and not actually collect anything. How? By knowing a heck of a lot about stamps, that’s how. Philately is the study of stamps, not the act of collecting them. You could be an expert in stamp lore without actually having a collection or wanting one.

Actually, maybe the analogy is not so poor, since once you learn how faulty it is you might be able to understand how atheism could be considered a religion. Of course, this does depend on semantics to an extent.

An extremely simple definition of religion is this: “A religion is a set of common beliefs and practices generally held by a group of people.” Boom. You hold beliefs in common with other atheists (you refuse to worship “known” gods) and your practices are also similar in that you refuse to attend worship services (I assume. Personally, I make exceptions for weddings and funerals, but I don’t “worship”). It may be negative, but that doesn’t mean you can’t group it under religion.

For example, you’ve already admitted that atheism is a philosophy. Would you also consider it a theological perception? Just because the content of your theological perception attacks the underlying structure of most other theologies and even theism itself, that does not stop it from being classified as some form of theological outlook. Do they study atheism in theology classes? In many cases, yes (there might be some bias in many of them, of course).

As for dogma, yes I consider the lack of belief in gods to be a dogma among atheists. If someone claimed to be atheist, but continually made shrines to Buddha would you consider him a “real” atheist?

To take it even further, have you ever heard “The first rule is that there are no rules.” Is that a rule? Sure seems like it to me, even though its singular act is to bar all other rules. It may be recursive, negative and contradictory… But it’s still a rule.

Also, if you knew more about theology you’d know that there are several religions that are nontheist. They generally don’t deny the existence of gods, they just aren’t concerned with them, and don’t take a stance on them either way. Confucianism and other eastern religions are a perfect example. For this reason, many people like to call them philosophies rather than faiths or religions, but this is another semantic argument, one that is caused by the overwhelming prevalence of Christianity in the weltanschauung of westerners.

If you consider ritual a necessary part of the definition of religion, consider the scientific method. It’s also a dogma of sorts, and it prescribes a methodology for discovering and verifying knowledge in such a way as it will be acceptable to others in the sci
entific community. In much the same way that a priest prepares to consecrate bread and wine, a dutiful scientist will prepare for an experiment by controlling for variables and making predictions (hypotheses) before the experiment-ritual itself is performed.

As for proceeding from the assumption of the null hypothesis, that’s your business. It’s certainly a good idea in science, but in matters of faith things are not so cut and dried.

Also, please note that I am not calling you a religious person by stating atheism could be considered a religion. I’m just pointing out that atheism is quite similar to other religions, and as it grows there is a risk that it could be seized and exploited by charlatans. I believe there was a South Park episode about this. I am also sure you would see through the bullshit and hopefully refrain from any atheistic fundamentalism, but just remember that there are a lot of stupid people out there. In fact, some people are dumb as fuck!

Even as I’m drawing religion and science together, surely you’ll concede there is much that separates them. The problem is that the scientific method is not known to work for the business of discovering gods. I believe Scott Adams once compared this folly to using a metal detector to check for unicorns in one’s sock drawer. The fact of the matter is, we haven’t discovered a “god” (definitively, based on the scientific method) so how can we say we’re using the best tools for the job?

Perhaps a new method is called for. Of course, if I knew that method I’d present you with solid proof of the existence of god(s). But you could easily reject it by saying my method does not adhere to the principles of the scientific method. But what if my method was better, at least for discovering and identifying divine beings?

A question to ponder: Have your placed your faith in the scientific method?

Batting Around the Mouse
I’ve always liked Scott Adams and Dilbert. He’s actually got a pretty good blog, too, and it’s a surprisingly combative one. You might expect that his blog is a lovefest if you’ve never been there: “omg Scot i totully luved dilbertt today! dogbert is my hero!’

Nope, Adams goes for the throat and his (many) commenters do too. It’s an intellectual and incendiary blog, and sort of a kindered blog to this one in many respects (I gotta recognize that he’s been doin’ it longer — he’s the Dogfather).

Speaking of the dyslexic agnostic (he stayed up all night wondering if dog exists) — Scott has gone after atheists in a big way lately, and caught plenty of reddit-hell for it. Good. He’s right: Full-on atheism is just as intellectually indefensible as religion.

This brings me to atheists. In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.

I don’t particularly like the way he frames his argument as a percentage; it seems too much like gambling on Heaven (but that’s what it is, at least according to western religion). This is known as Pascal’s Wager:

Chief among the alleged flaws in Pascal’s argument is that you still have to pick the correct religion among many, or else you go to Hell anyway.Sure. But picking any religion that promises salvation slightly improves your odds over picking an option that doesn’t. You’re still probably doomed, given your bad religion-picking skills, but a one-in-a-million chance of reducing the risk of eternal Hell is a move worth taking, mathmatically speaking.

I don’t subscribe to this theory since I’m an asshole — an asshole who thinks it’s more important to find out the truth than to assure yourself a slot in heaven at the good table. In that respect I have a lot in common with the atheists who are eviscerating Scott all over the internet.

But why should they care?

If they were so secure in their position they wouldn’t be calling for his head, would they?

Many atheists claimed to be “weak atheists”, which is sort of like saying you prefer a shade of whitish-black. Just say “gray”, okay? The word “agnostic” already exists; use it.

So, much of the argument is semantics-based bickering. Tiring of this, Scott moved in for the kill — or so it seems. Like a cat batting around a mouse he’s just torturing these people and mocking their cognitive dissonance (ah… a man after my own heart).

The phrase “weak atheist” is apparently nothing but a weasel self-label for agnostics who have picked a side and don’t want to be seen as giving any opening to religion. It is politics disguised as philosophy.

As Scott pointed out, we can know a priori that atheism is not logical: If you admit you are not omniscient or omnipotent how can you claim to know whether or not an omnipotent or omniscient being exists? Or put more simply: how can atheism be proven true when you can’t prove a negative? Doesn’t that make it a faith, a religion?!

Cult of Nothingness
Oh man, nothing gets atheists more pissed off then calling their movement a religion. First they get angry, then they gather in communities like chatrooms and reinforce each others’ beliefs, hand out matching T-shirts and start setting up temples dedicated to their faith.

Oops.

They even have their high priests and holy writ. I guess atheism is big business — if you can get enough people to buy into it.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Aren’t most of us fed up with organized religion and all the attendant bullshit? No offense to the believers out there, but much of what is known about early Christianity, for example, reveals its modern branches as spawned from hoaxes, lies and ignorance. The Bible was not written by “God.” It was written by men, who say that it was written by God. Big difference, that.

Semantic Saṃsāra
Well, the natural reaction to the bullshit of Christianity is atheism. But wait a minute; how do you know atheism is any better? Well for all the reasons above, you don’t. Furthermore, you’re following an “-ism” — a meme, a movement, a faith, an order. And isn’t that what got you neck deep in Popeshit in the first place?

So what’s the answer?

Well, look at the atheist Scott got all riled up:

Perhaps if he had spent even a small amount of time researching the matter, he’d have learned what the difference between weak atheism and agnosticism is — and at the same time, he might have even learned how and why everything he wrote in his post was either factually incorrect or logically incoherent.

He makes a fair point in his link about atheists merely denying belief in a god rather than asserting gods don’t exist. Fair enough, but it’s a semantics game, buddy! Agnosticism staked out that turf long ago.

His rejoinder:

Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge — it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not.

Splitting hairs! None of us can claim to know for certain, except for the specious claims of religious zealots… and a few atheist zealots in the other direction as well. If we accept his argument that:

An agnostic atheist won’t claim to know for sure that nothing warranting the label “god” exists or that such cannot exist, but they also don’t actively believe that such an entity does indeed exist.

How is such a belief different from just saying “I’m agnostic”? It’s 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. His semantic games probably help to win arguments, but his tactic of dividing people up into lots of different sects sounds a lot like religion to me. It’s the natural recourse of a zealot who’s experiencing cognitive dissonance.

It’s also a way of dissociating yourself from the truly nutball atheists — the “strong atheists” or whatever he would call’em. Fair enough, those people are stupid. But it seems to me like a lot of atheists are actually agnostics who have taken an atheistic stance until such a time as god is proved one way or another.

Why not just call’em what they are: fence-sitters. Agnostics. Agnosticism, by the way, generally outweighs belief, at least among the logical. Most of us are not ready to believe in a god we
don’t know. How can you tell it’s a good god if you don’t know its properties? Saying you don’t worship something you don’t know seems redundant, but I’ll grant that there are probably crazy people out there who worship gigantic invisible hammers or something.

The Stain of Christianity

To me, saying you’re an agnostic is sensible, but taking it one step further and saying you’re an agnostic atheist is presumptuous. Given that, to date, humanity has proven the existence of exactly zero gods, doesn’t it seem like putting the cart before the horse to say you don’t honor any of the thousands of gods that may or may not be out there? If, for example, humans knew of the existence of 1, 2, 10 or 2000 gods, then fine. You can say, “All of these gods suck. I’m an atheist.” That would be logical, but dismissing the panoply of possible gods beforehand is a logical leap that rigorous thinkers should not make. Perhaps there’s a big-tittied goddess out there who has no worship requirement, but has lots of great advice for lovemaking, thoughtful advice for living happily and the promise of eternal life. Many of the greco-roman gods were totally horny, and pretty tolerant, too. Don’t forget those Vedic gods who were into tantric sex rites. Are you gonna pass that shit up?

Atheists are, ironically, letting the blinders of Judeo-Christian tradition blind them and limit their imagination. I, for instance, don’t accept the notion that there can only be one god and he must be male (…somehow), omnipotent and omniscient. One can be extremely powerful without being all-powerful. Atheists are too concerned with the Christian conception of god and are letting those assumptions fuck with their logic. I would encourage so called atheists to explore eastern religions, many of which are more properly called “philosophies”, to get a good feel for belief outside of the Judeo-Christian deathgrip. Some suggestions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Subdivisions
There’s that “-ism” suffix again. Atheists are as guilty of it as anybody. Isn’t that a lot of busywork, subdividing yourself down to a certain sect, all so you can feel some sense of belonging, of having that “god” thing squared away? Done. Full stop. Finished. Problem solved.

But it isn’t quite that easy, isn’t it? Atheism is making alliances with other groups, such as hardcore fans of evolution and science in general. It’s growing and becoming a money-making venture and it’s increasingly gaining clout, especially on the internet. Atheism, in its way, affects all of us, and will do so even more in the future. In time it could become a political force and when that happens atheism will become just as corrupt and controlling as Christianity.

Atheists have a stigma — right or wrong — of being close-minded, of having decided something. That, to me, is the most dangerous part. Faith, god, reality, truth — these things are too important to just put in some box. Then again, maybe I’m just a contrarian or a purist because I wouldn’t call myself a Christian simply because some fellow ‘Christians’ would include Hitler and G.W. Bush.

Seeker of Truth
So now that I’ve criticized everybody else, what do I think? Fair question. I think that what’s important is not who or what you believe in, but that you try to find some truth. Life is a quest, and as long as you keep searching for truth or a clue or whatever, you’ll be okay. I believe that ‘seekers’ are safe in the eyes of any benevolent god.

Given a malevolent one, you’re fucked either way.

If there’s no god, oh well, at least you looked. If you’re not going to search how can you really mock the religious folks? Shit, that’s every atheists’ hobby, isn’t it? Their true tenet, their sacrament, I think, is to mock religious dumbshits. And god bless’em for that. I enjoy doing the same. But if you’re gonna talk the talk, you should walk the walk.

Ultimately, it about responsibility. If you’re labeling yourself with a convenient “-ism” you’re not really thinking. Take responsibility for your own faith or lack thereof and try to improve your level of knowledge. Lumping yourself in with a group is too easy. Everybody has different beliefs, so why do we gotta keep making these walls, these sects and strictly delineated sets of believers?

It just makes it easier for people to manipulate us, and isn’t that what atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers have tried to escape for centuries?

What I think we need is 6.5 billion people courageous enough to believe in 6.5 billion personal religions without killing each other, or amassing followers. … Yeah right. A guy can dream.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll have to get used to atheism as a legitimate “faith” in this country. There’s just one problem: I don’t believe atheism really exists! Haha, okay, I’m joking, but the point is that most so-called atheists are actually more agnostic when you come right down to it. But who knows, I could be wrong and as such I’m keeping my options open.

The only thing I know for sure is that people who claim they know “The One True Path” are full of shit. Fuck them. Find your own path.

Pope Dumbshit made another lame proclamation recently:

Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.

This is the theological equivalent of saying “My dad can beat up your dad!” Part of the reason the Catholics like to give the finger to other Christian churches is because the other churches don’t accept the Pope as the Vicar of Christ on Earth (’cause, ya know.. he’s not. He’s just some fucking pederast in a funny hat).

So basically, Bennie the great is asserting the primacy of his dick. “WORSHIP ME, mortals!! Bow before the mighty Benedict!!!”

You know what, Ratzinger, you creepy-looking megalomaniac? Go fuck yourself.

Sweet Jesus McGillicuddy!


Oh Velicirapture!

In his boundless love he can even cradle and soothe a young velociraptor. This photographic proof disproves evolution…. but if Jesus loves velociraptors so much why did he smite them with a mighty asteroid? Maybe they’re all sitting on his lap in Heaven.

Ah, I love little squabbles like this. They are such “teachable moments.” Not sure what they teach, exactly, except that Christian video games are pretty goofy.

Liberal and progressive Christian groups say a new computer game in which players must either convert or kill non-Christians is the wrong gift to give this holiday season and that Wal-Mart, a major video game retailer, should yank it off its shelves.

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution and the Christian Alliance for Progress, two online political groups, plan to demand today that Wal-Mart dump Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a PC game inspired by a series of Christian novels that are hugely popular, especially with teens.

The game has been getting abysmal reviews from gamers, but not because of the “convert or die” storyline (gamers are used to slaughtering electrons). It’s because the game has committed the worst sin: it is shitty quality and not fun to play.

Nobody has enough faith to endure a game with such a hokey story, terrible mission design, serious problems with the interface and graphics, and loads of crippling bugs.

Slashdot has additional discussion on the merits of the game and whether it should be pulled from shelves. Personally, do I think it should be pulled or banned? Hell no. Just because a game sucks doesn’t mean we should yank it. Yes, it’s intolerant, but as the GameSpot review makes clear, the game drops into self-parody at several points. I say let people make up their own minds.

The stupidest part about this game, IMO, is how rock musicians are portrayed. Maybe that’s because I’m a rock musician, but I think it’s so fucking lame that rock musicians are a sort of default bad guy. If this is how the Christian fundamentalists perceive us is it any wonder that we think they’re a bunch of intolerant dumbfucks?

Perhaps even more stupid (because it’s not as goofy and laughable) is how Muslims are portrayed in the game as followers of the Antichrist or neutral folks to be converted (or killed if they resist).

Players can choose to join the Antichrist’s team, but of course they can never win on Carpathia’s side. The enemy team includes fictional rock stars and folks with Muslim-sounding names, while the righteous include gospel singers, missionaries, healers and medics. Every character comes with a life story.

When asked about the Arab and Muslim-sounding names, Frichner said the game does not endorse prejudice. But “Muslims are not believers in Jesus Christ” — and thus can’t be on Christ’s side in the game.

“That is so obvious,” he said.

Oh really, Mr. Frichner? I guess he’s been too busy drinking the kool-aid (or “blood of Christ” in this case) to notice that Muslims recognize Jesus as a great prophet, teacher and holy man. They may not agree with the batshit notion that Jesus = God, but most rational people believe the same. (Jesus called himself “the Son of Man” not “I am God!!! Worship me, bitches!!”)

I wonder if Mr. Frichner would be interested to know how highly venerated Jesus is in the Qur’an/Koran?

Jesus is described as one who is min al-muqarrabin (among the nearest to God) and as min al-salihin (of the upright) and as wajih (eminent) [Surah 3:40-46]. Baidhawi amplifies this, saying that Jesus is illustrious in this world as a Prophet and in the next as an intercessor (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p.229.) Following the Qur’anic presentation of Jesus, he is known among Muslims as Kalimatullah (the word of God), and Ruh Allah (the spirit of God) [Surah 3:45; Surah 4:171]. No other prophets have been described in such terms. No other prophet nor Muhammad has ever been called the spirit of God.

Instead of fostering dialogue between religions Frichner is spouting ignorance and contributing to the baseless Christian hatred and persecution of Muslims, a people whose religion is actually founded on the tenets of Christianity. In essence, this game is a monument to the stupidity and intolerance of the religious right. Leave it on the shelves.

Surprise, surprise.

Haggard, seen here trying to strangle God, was one of the nation’s leading religious nutjobs. He was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (representing 30 million people) until it turned out he was having gay sex with a male hooker while snorting meth. Haggard initially claimed that he had bought the meth with no intention of using it, to which millions of meth addicts replied, “Riiiiiiight, buddy. Suuuure.”

Well, now he has been fired. And he’s even resigned from his own New Life Church in Colorado. What, do the Evangelicals have a little rule about gay sex or something?

It doesn’t matter to me that he’s as gay as a spring parade. What bothers me is that Ted Haggard has preached against homosexuality for years, saying it was a sin, and taking a firm stand against gay marriage… meanwhile he was getting his balls licked by some male prostitute named Mike Jones once a month.

Haggard’s sickening hypocrisy was actually what got the better of him. His fuck-buddy-for-hire ratted him out because he grew tired of getting Ted off one day and watching him preach about the evils of homosexuality the next.

Now Haggard has admitted, “I am a deceiver and a liar.” Well, I for one am refreshed by his honesty (about being a liar). Most religious scumbags lie continually and refuse to admit that they are deceptive sacks of shit, so it’s nice to hear Ted come to grips with his problem. (The problem: being a liar. Who gives a fuck if he’s as gay as Gore Vidal?) Of course, once you admit that you’re a liar you can never really be trusted again. So that kind of sucks for him. He went from “trusted religious leader” to “lying, drug-abusing fag” in one week. Tough week.

So, here’s a question for y’all: When are you gonna stop believing these self-righteous assholes? They continually turn out to be fuckheads and hypocrites. They always attack the same people (gays, women, minorities) in order to gain power for themselves. When are y’all gonna wake up and figure this scam out? I guess it’s as old as humanity and there’s a sucker born every minute, but I still have hope that people will figure out that their religious leaders (especially the ones at the top) are far more immoral than the people they accuse of immorality.

That doesn’t mean you can’t believe in God or have a community of believers. But you have to be aware that the most ambitious and most charismatic people are also the ones most likely to be in league with the devil, as it were. To a person driven to succeed at any cost a few lies on the way to the top are well worth the price. And maybe that’s okay in business (is it?), but that’s an extremely toxic outlook in the religious sphere. A few lies are NOT okay. In fact your whole job is to tell the truth!

I would suggest that the “sheep” in Ted’s flock learn how to read and pick up a Bible for themselves rather than letting sick men like Haggard interpret it for you. Make up your own mind about the purpose of life on Earth. Nobody knows for sure, so you can’t just abdicate your responsibilty and throw your trust in men like Ted and expect it to be okay. The only way to be sure is to cut your own path.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I don’t think Ted “Gay Druggy” Haggard is correct about homosexuals. Although he obviously knows more about gay sex and the Bible than me, I still think my limited knowledge is sufficient to come to a better conclusion on the issue. Personally, I don’t remember Jesus saying, “Love your neighbor…unless he’s a fag.” Nope, I’m pretty sure Jesus told us to love everyone…and leave the judging to the guy upstairs.