On Gluttonous Wasteful Spending: Kentucky’s Misappropriation of Wealth

Ham 1 Ham 2 Ham 3 Ham 4

Read the links themselves here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/01/kentucky-noahs-ark-ken-ham_n_4876282.html

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Nye Smokes Ham in Debate, by Virtue of Science In and of Itself

Ham-vs.-Nye

I watched the Nye vs. Ham debate, which is unusual since I generally don’t watch these things. They’re too depressing and even more so, sometimes frightening; but since I happened to catch it live, I figured: Why not? The best analogy I can think of when I listen to a creationist attempt to convince someone that the world is only 4,000 years old is the example of, say, the apple in hand argument. Someone walks up to someone else and says, “Look, I’m holding an apple.” This person, however, has nothing in their hand. The natural response is, “No, you are not holding an apple.” But the person arguing that he actually has an apple will persist nevertheless, until it feels like dementia is settling in for the listening parties involved.

Of note, with regard to the debate, rests in the fact that biblical scripture was presented onscreen as Ham argued. This is bizarre because the world of persuasion and rhetoric knows that in terms of the Bible, it does not function as proof of its claims.

The other matter of note was in how Bill Nye relied on scientific examples alone; that and his ability to convey the ideas. Ken Ham perpetually had to bring in the names of other scientists, PhDs who apparently believe as he does. He threw out a plethora of dubious claims, but he kept having to invoke the appeal to authority fallacy, to alleviate his noticeable sense of discomfort. The whole — “Look! I’m not the only one who believes this!” trick — this is an indication of a weak argument. Of course, creationism is much more than a weak argument, but just saying…

Apparently, the debate was held in Kentucky. Bill Nye had his work cut out for him, though science pretty much works on its own. I actually didn’t know that Ham was from across the Atlantic (Ken Ham is Australian I have learned), signaled by his accent, but since he’s clearly fanatical, the location for the debate, and this creationist museum that’s been built, the setting was appropriate. It was obviously designed to favor Ham. I guess that’s how it’s done when you’re trying to make truth out of myth (a.k.a. bullshit).

The real factor here, which Nye touched on, was in the danger of allowing creationism into public education. For those who don’t understand, creationism is fiction; it’s textual myth. Creationism dictates truth as imagined by the minds of men living thousands of years in the past. Hypatia of Alexandria said it best on this issue: 

“Fable should be taught as fable, myth as myth, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truth is horrifying. The mind of a child accepts them and only through great pain, perhaps tragedy, can the child be relieved of them. Men will fight for superstition as quickly as for the living truth — even more so, since a superstition is intangible, you can’t get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, as so is changeable.”

Hypatia of Alexandria (370 – 415 BC)

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The Sacrifice: Pinnacle of Belief

The initiating scenes of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) are powerful. They depict ape-like creatures going about the process of living in what is presumably a part of our distant, prehistoric past. Since the obvious intention of the film is to imply that humans evolved from this point in time, and from these kinds of creatures, such scenes undoubtedly caused an uproar amid the established religious community at the time of its release. My own interest rests with a particular scene in which a leopard attacks one of the creatures by the watering hole. In this moment we have what many cultural anthropologists believe to be the origins of religious sacrifice.

Leopard Attack

For the evolving man, nature was a continuous, ever-pervading threat, especially in terms of the food chain. When a predatory animal entered the space of evolving humans, like any other species, these early humans must have felt great anxiety. Imagine the relief when the group became safe as one of their members fell prey to a voracious predator. In this sense, the threatening elements of nature became a force to be reckoned with and appeased. As consciousness formed, the idea of safety through sacrifice evolved.

Eventually the association of cruel nature and formidable forces came to equate matters of the unseen, the supernatural. To think that over a period of thousands and thousands of years, the loss of tribal members to the jaws of life eventually came to manifest itself as the religious sacrifice, this hypothesis is not far fetched. The end result clearly expresses itself in the goat sacrifices of the Old Testament and beyond.

Of course, we can thank J&M to put matters of religious sacrifice in their proper place (through humor), since humans have come to understand the reality of nature’s power:

J and M 3

For more humorous reflections on the Atheism/Religion debate, read J&M here:

http://www.jesusandmo.net/

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Religion and Cultural Cleansing

FaceBook

When I read the words of religionists, I often marvel and wonder; sometimes I am amused and sometimes I even think on how I used to be, hearkening back to the days when I fought with Atheists at Beliefnet. My feelings about the world nowadays are certainly much different, much more cultivating of knowledge and fundamental humanness, with a spirit of enlightenment that flows through me like a breath of fresh air.

That being said, the words of religionists are sometimes chilling, in ways I could never be, even during my time as a magical thinker. In reference to the screen shot, I have forgotten why I pointed out a particular website, but the response was unsettling.

While I get the whole fear-of-end-times routine and the wish for people to “get right with God” jargon, when I encounter the rhetoric of a particular group singling out another, I can’t help but think about the Holocaust. Yes, it’s a strong term, but if we replace the group labeled as “homosexuality” with Jews and change the year to 1938, then what we have is a prefiguring to the aspect of ethnic cleansing. In the title to this post, I changed the language from “ethnic” to “cultural” because a homosexual can be any ethnicity, but I believe the concept still applies.

Here’s a video that pretty much encapsulates the horror and dread of what it means for one group of humans to single out another, where history pretty much tells us how matters ended up.

*****
The eerie detail about the screen shot I posted is the pride which underscores the enthusiasm of the commenter’s proclamation. It is a suggestive call to arms that comes off as all the more frightful, because it is a very real point of view. To read this kind of thing in the modern age shows us how tied we are to the barbarity of the past, and the difficulties we face in reaching that point in which people no longer think like this.

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Belief in the Supernatural Gone Wild: Snake Handling

If there is any one aspect of supernatural belief that is completely nuts, it has to be the practice of handling snakes to test one’s faith.

Snake Handler 1

During my magical thinking days I might have thought I’d seen a ghost, or had a moment of déjà vu that made me believe in some angelic force, or supposedly had a premonitory dream, or even maybe I prayed and thought that prayer came true in some sense; but never could my disposition for the supernatural prompt me to test what I believe, in the face of poisonous snakes.

Snake Handler 2

According to the Wiki page, Snake Handling seems to be an American phenomenon, originating in the Appalachian Mountains. The page tells us, not surprisingly, that the practice is derived from passages from the New Testament.

And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

Snake Handler 3

So here we have it, belief in the supernatural gone wild. According to what I have seen in videos, the practice involves a congregation that sings gospel music while men of faith parade around the room grappling rattlesnakes, maniacally boasting their connection with God.

Snake Handler 4

The presiding factor over the matter is to suggest that because one believes so deeply in the power of God, the loving creator will, in return, and through the intervening medium of a supernatural force, protect them from harm.

nbcnews

I guess Pastor Wolford wasn’t as clear as he thought he was in his relationship with God. What I find most intriguing is that, once again, we have the behavior of people being governed not just by belief in and of itself, but in the words of a religious text. I find it very interesting that in the modern age, when we have man-made crafts scanning objects throughout the solar system and that science has led the medical field into the capability of producing human organs with a computer printer, that the words of a two-thousand year old book can still be taken seriously. Let me rephrase that to be respectable: religious texts are important for understanding our past as humans; this is about as seriously as they should be taken.

Of course, it was the science of the Internet that helped me to realize the reality about the supernatural, so I can hardly blame humans for the lack of self-introspective progress. However, it is kind of uncanny that even during those days when I did believe, I always had a nagging sense of, “Huh? Moses parted the Red Sea?”

Nevertheless, having come to terms with reality, I am just glad I was able to escape from the champing fangs of religion with my life. Sadly enough, there are millions who do not, and maybe we can examine more of these in our next edition of Belief in the Supernatural Gone Wild: The Suicide Bomber.

Posted in atheism, LIfe, Psychology, religion | 16 Comments