The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Conversation with Sylvia Browne

BigHeathenMike - Hi Sylvia, how's it going?

Sylvia Browne - Pretty good. (lights cigarette)

BHM - Great. Hey, I had a question.

SB - It's three hundred for one question or seven hundred for twenty minutes. And you have to call me.

BHM - But it's a quick one that really won't take any time.

SB - (coughs) I really don't like exceptions.

BHM - I'll just ask: Do you know what "fraudulent" means?

SB - (pause) Of course I know what that means.

BHM - Great. What does it mean?

SB - I don't have to prove anything to you.

BHM - I'm not asking you to prove anything, I asked you what a word meant. You said you knew the meaning, so please, if you would, tell me.

SB - (taps cigarette with fingernail) No, you're not a Godly man.

BHM - What does that have to do with anything?

SB - I would prefer not to deal with you.

BHM - Look, I'm not asking you to "deal with" me. You said yourself that you know what the word "fraudulent" means. Why won't you tell me? I want to make sure we're both working with the same definition here.

SB - Well, it's a broad concept. I'm getting an "f" or name like "Fred". Does that mean anything to you?

BHM - (pause and blank look)

SB - Take your time. Do you have your family history chart with you?

BHM - Wow. Look, seriously, I'll give you five dollars if you'll just define the word for me.

SB - I don't need your money.

BHM - I didn't say you needed my...

SB - You don't have any money anyway. Your money isn't real.

BHM - My money isn't "real"?

SB - You know I help people all the time! I've defined many many words in my lifetime and you can't take that away from me or the people I've helped!

BHM - Holy cow, try the decaf, will you. Look, regardless of how many words you say you've defined in the past, all I'm asking...

SB - The letters in "fraudulent" can be re-arranged to say, "nut red fad lu". Does that mean anything to you?

BHM - (long pause) No.

SB - You have three angels. One is named Oscar.

BHM - ....Ok.... Look, clearly this is going nowhere so I think I'm done here. Have a nice day, Ms. Browne. (walks away)

SB - Someone named Scott is saying "hi". He died in a fire. (starting to yell) He says you were friends!

Ms. Browne subsequently claimed in the newspapers and on the Montel Williams Show that she defined "fraudulent" and that she also gave ample proof of her vast and accurate psychic powers, but that I was too "skeptical and closed-minded" to accept what was "presented right in front of me".

Monday, January 29, 2007

Can't Write. Clowns Will Eat Me.

I'm crazy busy at work this week and probably won't get to post anything new until Friday or the weekend. So to keep you interested, here's a hilarious guy doing impressions of Chris Walken, Joe Pesci, DeNiro, and Jack Nicholson auditioning for Snakes on a Plane. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In Case You Haven't Seen....

James Randi on Anderson Cooper 360 skull-fucking Sylvia Browne over her (surprise!) complete assholery regarding the kid who just got rescued from a kidnapper.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

William the Conquor'd - Hit 'n Run by an Atheist in a Mini-Van

Holy Christ fuck a donkey.

I happened across the Possum Momma site from somewhere - apologies as I've forgotten where - and I was struck by a couple of things:
1. It's a great site.
2. Her kid seems way cool.
3. There's a baptist minister named William who has taken it upon himself to be a giant douchebag and force sillyass religious nonsense on the site owner and her daughter because they are, well, let's just say that they're not baptist.

This is one of his comments from a recent post responding to a person named "Karcas":
William said...
Karcas, I think atheists have the lowest divorce rate because atheist marriages are easier than trying to live a holy marriage blessed by God. Married Christians have to work hard and sacrifice to meet the requirements set by God for marriage. Atheists can have affairs and it doesn't matter because there is nothing requiring them to be faithful. Atheists can demand little or nothing of their spouse so there is less conflict. It's the easy way out and where life is easy one will find Satan. Satan paves the road of ease. God paves the holier way with troubles that have to be overcome.

Yeah, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor too. The stupidity of this person is difficult to fathom, but I'll do my best to just point out a couple of the decipherable lunacies.

"...atheist marriages are easier than trying to live a holy marriage blessed by God" - Wow. Really? But you guys have a book to guide you. It even says that the man is the head of the household like God is the head of the church. I guess trying to keep those wimmenfolk submissive can get to be a bit of a chore, eh? Leads to 'em leavin' and gettin' all book learned.

"Atheists can have affairs and it doesn't matter because there is nothing requiring them to be faithful" - This is possibly the most retarded thing I've ever heard someone say. Like, no joke. I have worked with multiply handicapped people in the past for about eleven years and I don't think, interspersed with drooling and public masturbation, that I've ever heard one of the residents utter something that fucking stupid.

How about respect for the person you are married to, Asshole? How about, at a very very base level, if I had an affair, my wife would slice my balls off whilst I slept? Self-preservation is a very strong urge, friend.

Am I to assume that William, the good baptist minister, would, if he was shown to be horribly wrong and convinced that he had wasted his life on a non-existant sky-daddy, cheat and lie and steal? Well, to paraphrase Michael Shermer:
If you admit that in the absence of God you would kill, rape and steal, you out yourself as an immoral person and we would do well to steer a wide course around you. If, on the other hand, you admit that you would continue to be a nice, law-abiding person in the absence of divine surveillance, you have fatally undermined your claim that God is necessary to be good.

I hate to use Q.E.D., but somehow, in this instance, it fits.

"Atheists can demand little or nothing of their spouse so there is less conflict" - To be honest, I'm not sure what ol' Willie is trying to say here. I can demand little or nothing of my wife...fuck, I don't demand anything now. I enjoy a hug at the end of the day when I get home. It's nice to have her rub my back when I'm going to sleep. The odd blowjob is rather enjoyable. Certainly nothing is demanded, however. Maybe that's a religious thing and I'm quite happy leaving demands to them and their obviously insecure relationships.

"It's the easy way out and where life is easy one will find Satan" - Psst. William. This "Satan" character you're babbling's imaginary. You might as well tell me that Snuffalupagus will hose me with hand cream from Michael Jackson's sock-drawer. You make no sense and talking to people who are living in a rational world about your make-believe buddies and enemies just makes you look crazier.

This clown gets taken apart in the comment section of Possum Momma's posts by a wide variety of very capable atheists, agnostics, and Christians. He seems to be quite universally dispised, and for good reasons. He's a douchebag. Go check out the blog, it's certainly worth it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jesus Loves the Little Children

The former music director of the church where ex-pres Bush went has just been found guilty of possession of child pornography - somewhere around 300 pictures - and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Robert F. "Creepy Bob" Tate is deep in the shit now after a court found out all about his nasty little secret. He admitted to having a ton of photos of kids in sexually explicit poses and performing sex acts. The court records also mention, "apparent foreign travel for purpose of photographing children." I'm sorry, but ten years is not enough. They should get forensic computer analysts to hit his hard drive, find out the earliest date on the downloads, and give him ten years for every month this fucking douchebag exploited kids or had a part in it. Should add up to about 875 years.

If there's one thing in this world that pisses me off, it's this. Yes, there are a lot of things that meet my "pissed" requirements, but this one pretty much is the top of the shit-heap that we call humanity. A fucking church guy travelling to a far-away place (gee, I wonder if it was Thailand?) to take sex pictures of little kids. How does this fucker live with himself?

I have been swaying away from my partiality to the death penalty in recent months. I really have - especially with what transpired at Saddam's "execution" and the travesty that was the decapitation of his buddy. That said, I wouldn't shed a tear if "Creepy Bob" decided that the best thing for him to do was to eat a bullet. Just leave a gun mounted in the cement wall in his cell pointed outwards with access to a lever that'll pull the trigger. Then if he chooses to off himself in lieu of getting anally reamed by some 260lb guy named Lewaun after tossing his salad, so be it.

Religion makes you a better person? Right.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Five Things

So I have been tagged by Mojoey for the "Five Things About Me" meme that's all the rage now. Because currently I seem to be such a mysterious Heathen, I shall divulge some not-so-well-known facts about me so the blurry Blobsquatch that you catch a glimpse of may sharpen in focus just slightly.

1. I was a professional cheerleader. You may want to re-read that last sentence just to make sure it registers in your head. I started cheerleading at Saint Mary's University when my friends and I were recruited by a hot girl while we were standing in line to get into the gym. I ended up being captain of the men during my three years of cheering as well as going to Nationals at the Toronto Skydome (now the "RogersDome"), appearing in the school newspaper, and being recruited to be on a "best-of" team that cheered for the Halifax Windjammers - a National Basketball League team that was in Canada for about 4 or 5 years. Throwing women this way and that, getting thousands of people to yell with you, and staying in pretty good shape - plus getting called "gay" by every second dumbass I met, had an entire dorm of guys sing "He's a Girl" (a charming tune I believe they composed themselves) to us at an away game, and getting maced by the police at the same aforementioned game for fighting the also aforementioned frat/dorm boys, were all the joys I experienced.

2. I lived in Japan. For two years I was in Kagoshima, Japan teaching English as a second language at a private school with a company called GEOS Language Systems. It was from 1996 until '98 and that was where I met my wife. She taught for the same company but was in a different city, one called Tottori. We met at a teacher's meeting in Fukuoka in February of '97. While living there I had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam, Thailand, and several of the smaller islands in Southern Japan. My wife and I also climbed Mt. Fuji.

3. I once gave myself a black eye for a Hallowe'en party costume. My best friend and I went to a party dressed as Tyler Durden and the Narrator from the movie Fight Club and while I was getting my costume on, he showed up with a great shiner. He said that he got his brother to punch him in the face because he couldn't get the makeup to look right. I attempted to use makeup, but his eye just looked so much better. Quickly, I hit myself five times in the right eye and it swelled up and got nice and dark. It was beautiful. We had matching black eyes and everyone at the party kept asking us what happened; when we told them that we gave ourselves the punches, they just said stuff like, "it's ok, you can tell me what really happened".

Several people at my massage therapy school, for the next two years, called me Guy Who Punched Himself in the Face. Rightfully so.

4. I once stole a full-size plastic snowman from a person's yard, kept it for a year while taking pictures of it around the local area, and then returned it with the photo album the following winter. We named the snowman Colgate and he had wonderful adventures with us that he otherwise would not have gotten to experience. He had his picture taken in bed with beautiful women at several different parties, at historic forts, and relaxing under the willow trees at a fabulous garden. Much more interesting than a garden gnome theft, in my opinion. I only wish I could have seen the owner's face when he/she found Colgate back on their step and they first opened the album....

5. I have four tattoos. My first one is an old style Mickey Mouse on the outside of my left ankle. I got it because I hung out with two other guys named Mike; one called "Michael", one called "Mike", and me - "Mick". There is only one person who calls me that anymore, but I still love the old cartoons so I'm still rather partial to the ink.

My second one is a small black dragon on my right shoulder. I drew it myself and quite like the way its head looks backwards, "covering me". The third one is seven Japanese Kanji down my right ribs. That was forty minutes of agony, but the result is a nice piece of art with which I'm quite happy.

Lastly, I got my wedding ring tattooed on. I'm a massage therapist and therefore don't wear a ring to work. In the summer I play slo-pitch baseball so I can't wear it then either. I very much enjoy being married and I like having a ring, so I decided to get a permanent one. Yeah, I know, "what if?...what if?" That is a bridge that isn't even on the map I have now, so there's no thought of crossing it.

That's about all for the Five Things meme. Thanks again to Mojoey for the ol' chuck on the shoulder. I shall tag Orac Dave Paul Frank and King Aardvark.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Slight Amount of Hope Restored

Ok, so I was reading the new Seed magazine and saw The Year In section had a philanthropy section. I had no idea, but the NBA's Dikembe Mutombo donated about $29 million for a hospital in his native Congo. Damn, that's some charity. Contrary to the old ads, man can fly in the house of Mutombo.

Secondly, I'm not sure if anyone else has seen the YouTube video of the sick fucks who lit a Tickle Me Elmo doll on fire, but it is at once the most hilarious and disturbing piece of footage I've seen in many years. It's like the Terminator of Creepy Kid's Toys. Enjoy.

Just About Lost All Hope

I'm watching a game show called 1 vs. 100 tonight. If you haven't seen it, a contestant faces off against 100 people and tries to get questions correct. If a member of the "mob" gets the question wrong, they are eliminated and the contestant is awarded a monetary value for each person which increases as the game goes on and on. If the contestant gets a question wrong, the "mob" splits the prize money already won by said contestant.

So tonight a new victim is brought up. The first question is as follows:
In a leap year, which month has an extra day?
A) the second
B) the fifth
C) the seventh

Now I want you to guess how many, out of 100 people, got that wrong. When you're finished guessing, scroll down to see the actual number.

Fucking TEN!! How do you not know that?! The only way I would accept an excuse is if someone had a seizure at the exact moment Sagat told the "mob" to enter their answers and their face smashed into either the B or C button.

I need a lot of beer or something to dull the pain.

And I Was Having Such a Good Day....

I used to be a waiter in a former life. I was good at it, I think. The staff in the kitchen liked me and would make me food if I had been on a long shift, but did so only after I had proven myself useful to them; I had brought them pitchers of water, Coke, or Sprite while they were in the midst of a dinner rush and were sweating, almost going "in the weeds" or getting "in the shit". I could also do my own desserts thus alleviating a small amount of pressure from the shoulders of the overworked pastry chef.

From my time in the restaurant and from my subsequent reading about chefs, cooking, and kitchens, I have the opinion that most kitchen folk are "get-it-done" people. They generally don't fuck around and they appreciate others who handle pressure and get things done. Knowing this, I was rather shocked to be watching Opening Soon on The Food Network tonight to see a chef wasting time during a hectic rush to get his place open.

The place was called Dish and was situated in Boulder, Co. This dingus (or perhaps it was his wife/girlfriend - but I recall hearing the narrator say that he called the person in) used a feng shui doofus (one of the country's leading feng shui doofusus) to "rid the restaurant of bad spirits" and talk to a tree by the front door so it would allow "chi" to pass through it. You know, so it wouldn't block people from coming inside.

And in case you were wondering, trees speak English.

There was lots of chanting and waving of vases with what looked like bamboo inside, drawings on the floor with flowers and what seemed to be sand or something, and people standing around looking out the windows...and chanting. The girlfriend, to her credit, seemed a bit skeptical about the chanting but she certainly didn't stop it.

What killed me the most is that all this was happening when their opening was 24 hours away! That's crunch time, when everything should be arriving, being put together, menus tasted and revised, decor finalised, and swishing Scope around your cheeks to remove the faint vomit taste. Way to waste valuable time, assholes.

And of course there's the money factor. I'm sure that douchebag cost the owners a couple hundred bucks, minimum. Fucking feng shui. Oh man, I'm done.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hip Hip Hooray for the Skeptic's Circle!

Ahhhh...just like sliding into a hot bath after a long hard day, the new Skeptic's Circle is up over at Frank the Financially Savvy Atheist. The weekend is going to be great.

Feeling The News At Dinesh D'Souza

I’ve taken Dinesh D'Souza to task previously for being...well, for being a fucking dumbass, basically. He was on The Colbert Report recently and Stephen was asking him about his new book (which says that the American "Left" was responsible, or at least implicitly involved in the 9/11 attacks) when the topic of homosexuality came up with respect to how the fundamentalist Muslims view the U.S.A.:
D’Souza: There is a difference between something that is allowed or tolerated and something that is seen as given social sanction…that’s what I think makes a lot of traditional Muslims uneasy. Here’s all I’m saying: why don’t we show them a little more of the traditional America, that will undermine bin Laden’s argument that we’re all a bunch of atheists, that will undermine bin Laden’s idea that America is trying to project….

Colbert: So what other cultural editing notes should we take from the terrorists?

Ok, first of all, Colbert is fucking hilarious to interrupt and ask that question. Secondly, why in the name of Allah's Holy Peenoss would we want to make "traditional Muslims" comfortable? If homosexual people make fundie Muslims/Christians/Jews/whatevers "uneasy", I'd like you to let me know why the fuck I should care? You know what makes me "uneasy"? Traditional Muslims and Fundie Christians/Jews/Whatevers. Are they going to chill out for my comfort? I believe the one and only correct answer to that question is ", and while you're at it, Mike, howzabout you go fuck yourself?"

Basically D'Souza is saying that we should placate bin Laden and others like him, you know, show him that we (I'm using the all-inclusive North American "we") are sorta like him. Once bin Laden and his completely rational army of Paradise-living-virgin-desiring, self-assploding, fundie douchebags understand that we share some common values (such as hating fags), then he might think twice about knocking down more buildings. See? Come together under the common tent of religious traditional hatreds.

What an idiot.

(hat-tip to the continuously fabulous and topical One Good Move)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hooray! I Made a List!

I have made my very first official Top Ten list and couldn't be happier. Over at Dave's Snarky (Northern) Canadian Blog he did a final post of the year where he gave his "best of's" for 2006. Go check out a fellow Canadian blogger's efforts.

You Must Understand the Seven Seals!

Well, not really, but there's a new carnival in town that Martin Rundkvist is attempting to gain publicity for, which begs the question of why the hell he asked me to link to it, but nonetheless, the Seventh Edition of Four Stone Hearth, the anthropology and archaeology Festival can be found right here!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hit the Doctor

Orac over at Respectful Insolence is almost at a million hits. Drop by and help him smash through the seven digit ceiling!

Top Shelf Woo

Being a massage therapist means I have to keep current on developments in medicine (at least those that pertain to what I might see in a physio clinic) and anatomy. We must, over each three-year period, get 30 continuing education units (CEUs) and toward this end I often receive brochures and advertisements for courses I could take to get points that count as part of my requirements.

I recently got in the mail a brochure about the Canadian Oriental Medical Symposium 2007 in B.C., Canada. Needless to say, that's pretty far away so I shan't be attending, but the descriptions of some of the courses left me literally laughing out loud at the stunning depth of The Woo. So, without further ado, here's the description of "Esoteric Acupuncture", part one:
Esoteric Acupuncture is designed as an alternative methodology for working on imbalances of the Age of Aquarius. We cannot expect theories that were developed in a bygone era, the Age of Pisces, to adequately handle all the intricacies of newer problems and imbalances that are created in the Age of Aquarius. As the complexities of a system changes, we must use different thinking to work on the more complex system.

The main difference between Esoteric Acupuncture and the various traditional types of acupuncture theories that were developed in Asia, is that Esoteric Acupuncture encompasses a much broader spectrum of healing and emphasizes the Wellness Stage versus the disease stages of the older systems. We are puncturing the physical temple to activate an esoteric aspect.

The focus of Esoteric Acupuncture is to awaken a higher level of consciousness, which is the real journey of healing our hearts. This one hour lecture will give an overview to the theoretical and clinical aspects of Esoteric Acupuncture.

Ok, I don't even know what the fuck the "Age of Pisces" or "Age of Aquarius" has to do with someone, say, recovering from a stroke or trying to quit smoking, but this blurb leads me to believe that I have apparently been misinformed about the passage of arbitrarily defined eras of mythological ideas' effects on personal health conditions. Can someone help me out here?

How about, "We are puncturing the physical temple to activate an esoteric aspect". Wow. I'm assuming here that "temple" is "body", but how the fuggidy fuck do you "activate" an "aspect"? Maybe I'm just a dunderheaded ignorant skeptical massage therapist, but I need more info. Throw me a frickin' bone here.

Oh, and if your patient is recovering from a stroke, they probably don't need to "heal" their "hearts" - their brains probably need more help. The above, however, was simple child's play compared to Esoteric Acupuncture, part 2:
Since we are inserting acupuncture needles into the physical body, Esoteric Acupuncture also treats the Wei Qi and Ying Qi levels of the physical body strengthening the immune system. But, the focus of Esoteric Acupuncture is to raise consciousness so that we may view our imbalances from a higher level of awareness. Esoteric Acupuncture is the first work to combine traditional Chinese acupuncture and Five Element theory with Sacred Geometry, the Hindu nadi and chakra systems, Hindu yantras, visual meditation, Dinshah’s color therapy, the theories of Field, Quantum and Superstring physics, astrophysics, Pythagorean numbers, esoteric Tibetan philosophy through Djwhal Khul’s works, and the Qabbalistic Tree of Life (Kabbala) into one workable system for the Age of Aquarius.

Esoteric Acupuncture is designed for those who are more in tune with the pulse of the New Humanity. Esoteric Acupuncture is geared for both acupuncturists and non-acupuncturists who are interested in unraveling the various levels of the Heart Chakra to be able to move into the realms of the higher head centers. You must know your heart to know who you are

When I don’t know Who I Am, I follow You.

When I know Who I Am, You and I are One.

Holy crap. I think my eyes just formed fists and punched my brain for making me read that barely decipherable horseshit. Seriously, what the fuck does, "designed for those who are more in tune with the pulse of the New Humanity" mean? No one told me there was a "new humanity"? And capitalized, nonetheless! It's New! Get on board, dipshit, the train's leaving!

I wonder; Are they trying to appeal to those who are very insecure in reality and thus they create a false "future" to be more "on the pulse" of? Just a thought.

See, this is what happens when base assertions are not investigated and sorted out right away. When said base assertions are actually delusions, they just persist and live on and get built upon into a giant, teetering house of cards where the foundations are soaking wet, unstable, and falling down, yet the ideas just get more and more ludricrous.

I love the, "geared for both acupuncturists and non-acupuncturists" part, which makes sure to cover anyone who might be interested in fluffy weirdness but may not be inclined to study even the basic anatomy that a first-aid instructor would have to do.

And who knew that the "Heart Chakra" had different levels? I guess your body is just like the pagoda in Game of Death where you have to fight through the Korean Master and Dan Inosanto levels before getting to battle Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the "higher head centers". I might enjoy at least reading about this bullshit if they put it like that.

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make an Esoteric Coffee. It's the first beverage to combine Five Spice Theory with Qi Gong, porcelain reflexology, tupperware inert machismo, quantum lint trap, purple browns, the Zero Landscape within prime number matrices, energy valence hopping, the Flux Capacitor Enigma, and simple white sugar.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Questions Answered - No Whammies

R.J. Eskow over at the Huffington Post has written a piece asking "militant atheists" some questions. I decided to attempt to provide him the answers, as far as I'm able. You can read the article if you like and then come back and see what I'm sayin'.

1. Where (sic) the wars so often cited by militants (the Crusades, etc.) primarily religious in nature, or did their root causes stem from other factors such as economics, nationalism, and territorial expansion - as many experts in the field suggest? Or is the truth somewhere in between? Ok, the actual causes of the wars/Crusades may have been due to something other than religion. I am not a scholar of those conflicts or horribly brutal one-sided attacks. The fact remains, however, that whether or not these killings were caused by religion (which is undoubtedly at least partially the case) or by some other factor(s), religion was the prime motivator of the "foot soldiers" who did the grunt work of the slaughter. Sure, it might not be why the upper .5% went to war, but it sure is a fabulous way to get ordinary folks to cut off their neighbor's heads and think they're going to Heaven.

2. Historically, has terrorism been driven primarily by religion - or by other forces? (See Robert Pape's work on the subject.) Basically this answer is the same as the above one. Maybe the Al Quesadilla leaders want economic reform (sure they do), but the suicide bombers have magical mindsets that allow them to think they're getting Paradise and virgins.

3. Does the historical experience of nontheistic countries challenge the notion that religion is a major factor in causing internal oppression or external military conflict? (Note: I'm not suggesting that nontheistic countries went to war to defend nontheism," as one atheist writer characterized the argument. The question is: Does the absence of religion as a motivator reduce the likelihood of war, as the militants suggest - or not? Suggested countries of study: Cambodia, China/Tibet, USSR.) I'd say that religion causes oppression. Ask women or anyone not in whatever religion you happen to be discussing. I would agree that absence of religion would result in somewhat reduced conflict, but human nature suggests that we'll always find some reason to hate whoever is not like us. We're weird that way. Not believing in magical fairy tales would seem, however, to make a population slightly less gullible with respect to the reasons for going somewhere and murdering brown people (or black, yellow, purple, or green people).

4. What is the extent of religion's role in creating individual discontent and unhappiness through ostracism, sexual repression, prejudice, etc. in various world cultures? (I suspect it's substantial, but I'd like more data.) I have no fucking idea.

5. Is Islam the origin for genital mutiliation, stoning of adulterous wives, and other abusive practices? (Note: Neither practice is condoned by the Qu'ran, and both existed as tribal practices before Islam. Historically weaker Prophetic sayings, or 'hadith,' are cited to support them. (See Reza Aslan.) This question answers itself.

6. Would the elimination of religion alone eliminate these harmful practices, or would additional actions need to take place? If you eliminated religion and the dumbasses who propagate the ludicrous notions within and peripheral to it, yes, I think that that would go a long way towards stopping those "harmful practices".

7. If so, how can such practices be stopped most quickly and effectively - by campaigning to eliminate all religion, or by using moderate religion as a countermeasure against extremism? As a realist, we would have to use moderate religion because the notion of eliminating religion wholesale is just not probable at this point.

8. Can the positive influence of religion - in reducing conflict, bringing personal fulfillment, building communities, etc. - be quantified and measured against the negatives? I have no fucking idea, but I can say with a high degree of confidence that the "positive influence of religion" can be achieved through other means.

9. Do the social problems caused by religion stem from personal religious belief, from organized religious activity, or both? That would be "both", Bob.

10. Is all religious activity harmful, or just the fundamentalist variety (which one research project estimates involves roughly one-fifth of all religious populations)? All religious belief is harmful because all magical/religious belief propagates faith in the nonsensical or irrational. This does harm because, as an example, a person who believes that there is Paradise awaiting him after he blows himself up, killing "infidels" in the process, has reasons that make sense to him in his religious frame of mind. If you don't have that faith, you will come up with more constructive ways of getting the world to change.

11. Is it true, as some atheists argue that Buddhism's more peaceful doctrine propagates less violence and war than monotheistic religions with violent sacred texts?* Probably, but the answer to the previous question arises again because of the Buddhist belief in reincarnation. The government is being mean and extremely hard-handed towards Buddhism? Drive to the city and light yourself on fire to protest. What does it matter? It'll make a dramatic demonstration and you'll come back either as a "higher" life form or you'll reach Nirvana.

12. Does 'moderate religion' enable fundamentalism to continue? (That's another core militant assumption - also unproven.) Or, does it draw adherents away from fundamentalism and thereby weaken its negative effects? I see it as a sliding scale of retardedness. You can be really retarded as a fundie, or you can be only slightly handicapped as a "moderate" religion believer. It's the difference between "Kill all the faggots!" and "I don't think gay people should be allowed to be married."

13. What's the best way to advocate for needed changes - through aggressive attacks on religion or milder persuasion? Why not both? Religion needs to be aggressivly attacked because its base tenets are just plain stupid, but the everyday people who believe need to be persuaded mildly with reason and compassion. This is not an "either/or" question.

14. Do the internal dynamics of religious communities suggest that extremism and fundamentalism are the primary source of religion's negative effects - or do these effects come from something fundamental about religious belief itself? Religious belief is fundamentalist - any reading of a "holy" book will show that. The "crazy" believers are just doing what the books actually says; Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live - Ex. 22:18 - Ok, so kill all the witches. That's not crazy, that's what it says.

15. Would the eradication of religion lead to increased trauma, and/or decreased mental and physical health? If so, how should we prepare to address that problem as we work to eradicate religion? Part A: I have no fucking idea, but I doubt it. Part B: See answer to Part A.

My bottom line with respect to this sort of questioning is that religions are based on faith, which means they are too weak logically, philosophically, or rationally to support themselves. They have survived because of, primarily, the indoctrination of children who believe their parents and authority figures, then never bother to think about what they've been taught ever again. The basic assumptions are just silly and once we look objectively at them, we won't need questions like the above. This seems like arguing about the number of twists in a unicorn's horn.

I'd love to hear some thoughts about either the questions or the answers I've provided.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Great News to Start '07 - A Skeptic's Circle!

Wow, first post of 2007. Feels fresh and clean, doesn't it? Well, if that's the case you should head over to See You At Enceladus for the brand neweyness of a Skeptic's Circle. Enjoy the posts and be happy, for this is the year where rationality and common sense will prevail*.

* Not really, but hey, I can dream, can't I?