Saturday, June 29, 2013

God's (young) army...

Well, Marines actually. There is a little story from the far away world of Louisiana that has many a Christian in a tiff. The department of justice (DOJ) has informed the Bossier Parish Young Marines Program (YMP).

Why did they do this? The answer is actually somewhat surprising... The official notice took exception with the programs mention of God, and inclusion of prayer. They asked that the programs remove the mentions of God, and stop the prayers in order to receive the $30,000 grant. But this isn't surprising for the reasons the believers claim. They laughably claim that this is a violation of their religions liberties. It is not (I'll get to that later). The surprise is that the DOJ actually did the right thing for a change!

The Young Marines oath reads:
“From this day forward, I sincerely promise, I will set an example for all other youth to follow and I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon God, my Country and its flag, my parents, myself or the Young Marines. These I will honor and respect in a manner that will reflect credit upon them and myself. Semper Fidelis.”
 The DOJ asked that they simply remove 'God' from their pledge. Something that the First Amendment of the Constitution compels them to do. But of course, the parrish sheriff Julian Whittington, is outraged and is refusing to make the change to the pledge. He 'reasons' that “Last time I said the Pledge of Allegiance, it had God in it.” and that “The last time I picked up a dollar bill this morning, it had God on it." A laughable defense for multiple reasons. First, the current pledge and oath aren't Constitutional either. Additionally, the Pledge of Allegiance, paper currency, and national motto were originally God-free. It wasn't until the red scare that the familiar inclusions were inserted. In the early 1950's, 'under God' was inserted into the Pledge. The same is true of 'In God We Trust' being added to all paper currency. Finally, the national motto wasn't changed to 'In God We Trust' until this same time.

So Whittington is basically arguing that two (or is it three or four) wrongs DO make a right. It's a shame that he's so blind to the fact that his argument is so weakly based. Is it really a smart plan to cite other violations to argue in favor of his violation? Also, what if the oath read "I shall never do anything that would bring disgrace or dishonor upon Allah"? They'd be up in arms demanding that the funding be cut and the organization disbanded. Funny how when their god is the one getting special treatment, the Constitution can be damned. But if it were a different religion, we must stand up for the First Amendment!

In some of the comments on the story, I saw people claiming that the request to remove the God reference from the YMP oath is hypocritical because the military oath is:
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of (STATE NAME) against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of (STATE NAME) and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to law and regulations. So help me God.  
 But there's a few key facts that these people are missing. First, the 'solemnly swear' may be replace with 'solemnly affirm'. Second, the 'So help me God.' is optional. Finally, the military oath also excluded any mention of God in the original version. When was the mention of God added in? In the far away time of the 1960's! For all the talk of 'America's rich history of God', you'd think they'd actually stop to learn a little about what their talking about first.

The second part that the DOJ took issue with was the YMP's inclusion of prayer. Whittington calls it an optional prayer, and claims it to be a violation to religious freedom. Again, he is wrong. The important point to realize is that this 'optional prayer' he speaks of is a led prayer. This is what causes the problem. If the meeting started with a silent moment where you could pray to the deity of your choice, or not pray at all, everything would be just fine. But when you have an organization receiving government funding leading prayer (likely sectarian), you are left with an establishment clause violation. Why? Because government funding is going (in part) toward the promotion of a particular religion above others. Again, what if it were a Muslim prayer? Would they claim that it would be okay for that to take place?

It does not matter if taking part in the prayer is optional for the members. Leading the prayer itself is all that's needed for a violation. Why not just allow a silent moment for members to pray to the god of their choosing, or not pray at all? Or are they really more interested in promoting their beliefs above respecting the beliefs of all members (and follow the law). Laughably, some commenters on the story seem to think the request was made as to not offend. It was not! Frankly, it doesn't matter who or if someone was offended. Even if there was no one that took offense, the law would still dictate that these changes be made.

Then there are some of the hilarious reactions. One of the best was someone claiming that this is proof that President Obama has made atheism the official state religion. Oh, where to start with that... First of all, atheism is NOT a religion. It is the lack of belief in gods. Atheism is a religion like off is a TV station, and not collecting stamps is a hobby. So religion is not the word you want to use there. But lets look at this little fantasy. If the United States was officially atheistic, that means no religion anywhere. Are believers allowed to pray? Yes. Are there churches everywhere? Yes. Are believers being rounded up and imprisoned if they don't denounce their god? No. Is the government seeking out and destroying churches? No. That said, atheism does not demand the destruction of religion. But a government that doesn't allow religion would. Does that sound like America to you? Because to me America is a place where you can believe in whatever religion you wish, and go to the church of your choice whenever you want. That freedom is all thanks to the religious freedom and separation of church and state outlined in the Constitution.

Then there's the odd assumption that if Christianity (or any other religion) isn't the official religion, that atheism is. Believe it or not, there not being an official religion doesn't just fill the gap with atheism. What we have is something that some believers have a problem grasping. No official religion is exactly what it is and nothing more. The United States does not now, nor has it ever had an official religion. Because of this fact, Catholics can be Catholic, Lutherans can be Lutherans, Evangelical Christians can be Evangelical Christians, Muslims can be Muslims, Mormons can be Mormons, Baptists can be Baptists, Scientologists  can be Scientologists, Wiccans can be Wiccans, atheists can be atheists, etc. These believers are actually fighting the greatest gift to religious freedom that the world has ever known.

So we have a situation where the YMP's could simply remove 'God' from their oath, and have a silent moment for prayer in place of led prayer. This would put them in compliance with the Constitution, as well as respect the religious liberties of all involved. Yet they throw a fit anyway. Does that sound like the reaction of a rational person to you? Or does it sound like someone who's more interested in pushing their religion?

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Christian... never again

Sometimes it seems that Christians are wasting their time trying to convert non-believers. First, their own book says that blasphemy is the only unforgivable sin:
And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven (Luke 12:10).
So if the Bible says that I can't be forgiven, why bother wasting your time and mine trying to force your religion on me? Perhaps they just ignore that passage along with the many that they often ignore on a regular basis. We'll assume that this is the case here as well, and instead look at the fact that I could never be a Christian as I once was.

Let's assume that in the future, that the Christian god has been proven to exist. How would this impact me? Would I admit I was wrong? Yes. Would I acknowledge that he exists? Yes. But would I become a Christian and worship the Christian god. No, I wouldn't. Morally, I couldn't. If the Bible is an accurate description of the Christian god, then he would more be a being to be repulsed by, rather than one to worship.

Quite honestly, God comes across as more of a devil than a loving deity. My conscious simply wouldn't allow me to worship such a vile being. One problem is that of original sin. The Christian god somehow deems it appropriate to assign permanent transferred penalty for doing something that they couldn't have possibly known was wrong, until after they did it. Because of this, he tells that all are born deserving of eternal torture. This is quite the injustice! I could not worship a being that says that all should be burned alive for all eternity without ever having done anything wrong. Such a being would be one that doesn't value life in the least.

This god is also assigning infinite penalty for finite transgressions. Again, justice is the last thing that seems to be on his mind. Rather, the priority appears to be to scare people into submission, rather than genuine care. Furthermore, even if you are a good person but not a follower, your 'reward' is the same eternal torture as someone who was a genuinely bad person. No justice at all!

Then there is the issue of Jesus. We are told that his death was a sacrifice to pay for the sins of all. But why? If God wants to forgive those that are worthy, why doesn't he? Why necessitate the acceptance of a human sacrifice? Morally, I can not be party to a human sacrifice. I refuse to support this barbaric practice. Second is the idea of scapegoating. We are posed not only with a human sacrifice, but the sacrifice of an innocent. If I wrong someone, I want to may right with them, not some uninvolved party. Willing or not, human sacrifice is something I could never support.

This god's book also speaks lowly of women, allows slavery, commits numerous genocides, as well as other horrors and absurdities. Frankly, this god strangely values unquestioned submission over reasoned thinking and an actually valued and honest relationship. These are not the actions of someone who should be worshiped and praised. A god so unjust, that thinks so lowly of humanity and is guilty of such egregious horrors is not a deity that I could bow to in good conscious. I would sooner take my chances with Hell, than submit to such a tyrant.

But what about other religions? If they were true, could I become a follower of one of those faiths?

Judaism: This is still the same god of Abraham that Christianity worships, so I'd have most of the same issues that would keep me from being a Jew.

Islam: Another Abrahamic religion, meaning my same issues would hold for this faith as well.

Norse: Admittedly, I enjoy the Norse gods/goddesses and the Norse stories. But could I follow Odin, Thor and the rest? I'm not sure that I could. This is mainly because of the rough and tumble nature. I'm a fairly laid back guy, so the Norse tradition may be a bit too rough for me.

Egyptian: Admittedly I'm not overly knowledgeable about this faith, but the practice of human sacrifice would be a deal breaker for me.

Greek: One story from Greek mythology that does not sit well is the punishment Zeus bestowed on Prometheus. There is also the nature of Tatarus and how vain and paranoid the gods can sometimes be. Not as ugly as Christianity, but it does have a dark side.

Hinduism: There is the support of the caste system and the holy book's low position on women for starters.

Wiccan: While I do like the nature-based nature if this religion, the additional belief in magic would be a hard sell for me. Unless magic was also proved to be real as well, I'd probably have trouble signing on.

Buddhism: All-in-all, this looks to be a nice and peaceful religion today. But history shows a rather violent past. There is also the nature of karma. Some Buddhists will claim that if you are having troubles, that you are simply being punished for a previous life, and do nothing to help. How much of all that is individual interpretation, and how much is accurate to Buddhism would likely decide if I could seek Buddhist enlightenment. If the modern picture of Buddhism were the true truth, I'd be fine... But the truth isn't often that simple.

Shintoism: This religion is one that I could see myself okay with from what I know about it. I'm sure there's more to it than what I know, but for now, it's on my short list of religions I could maybe sign on with if it were proven true.

So, Shinto looks good. Buddhism could be good depending on what is rooted in the holy texts and what's not. Wicca would also be acceptable as long as the magic was also proven to be true as part of the deal. But as none are supported by evidence, I happily remain an atheist.

But I couldn't see myself ever joining on with the others mentioned. Above all others, I could never be a Christian again. Maybe that's because that's the religion I know best. But it is a religion with a abhorrent god. A vindictive bully that wishes eternal torrent on innocent people unless they agree to be party to a human sacrifice. That is a vile god that any moral person should never worship simply to keep a clear conscious.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Free to be uninformed

Another day, another ridiculous chain email. Let's look at it bit by bit...

I have never heard this said as simply or as well.
Class war at its best.
A conservative message claiming a class war? This ought to be rich. But let's give it a chance to make it's claim before dismissing it...
The folks who are getting the free stuff don't like The folks who are paying for the free stuff , because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff.

And the folks who are paying for the free stuff want the free stuff to stop.

And the folks who are getting the free stuff want even more free stuff on top of the free stuff they are already getting!

Now... the people who are forcing the people who pay for the free stuff have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff that the people who are PAYING for the free stuff are being mean, prejudiced, and racist.

So... the people who are GETTING the free stuff have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free stuff by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free stuff and giving them the free stuff in the first place.

We have let the free stuff giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free stuff than paying for the free stuff .
Please don't tell me that this is a serious argument?This argument oversimplifies things into a fantasy model that simply doesn't reflect reality. First, let's consider the people you claim are just getting 'free stuff'. A large percentage of people on assistance programs have jobs. Jobs mean that they pay the tax's toward the programs that they are receiving. Many that do no now have a job, did before and were paying into these programs with every paycheck. These people are now receiving the payback that they were paying in for.

Would you say that a person who pays their car insurance premiums is getting free money if they are in an accident and awarded a payment from the insurance company? Of course not! So for a great number of the people you are claiming to get 'free stuff' aren't actually getting it Scot-free. They've either been paying in for years and are now receiving the safety net they paid in to. Or they may be paying a little at the same time that they are receiving the so-called 'free stuff'. No doubt, there are those that are actually getting 'free stuff', but it's not the fantasy that this email dreams that it is. In short, they aren't all lazy freeloaders.

The email also claims that the people 'paying for the free stuff', can't afford to pay for it anymore. First of all, the people 'paying for the free stuff' is EVERYONE. Rich, poor, middle class... everyone! The way this email reads, it sounds like 'the well to do can't afford to pay for those lazy poor slobs anymore.' But does reality reflect that? Of course not!

The problem isn't that the highest earners can't afford it, it's that they can in spades. When we are talking about these people, it's not a story of 'woe is them.' We actually see companies and executives making record profits, and receiving huge bonuses. Then you have the audacity to say that they can't afford it anymore? They continue to hold a greater and greater percentage of the national product. So if they are making so much more, how can you claim that they have less?  Additionally, the high earners often pay a lower tax rate than the lower end earners. How is it fair that I am paying a higher percentage of my check to taxes, when an executive is paying a lower (sometimes much lower) rate? Quite frankly they aren't pulling their weight.

And to add insult to injury, the top earners often try to argue that they need to pay less taxes, while the poor pick up their slack and pay more. You wonder where some animosity comes from? It's from when people that have everything aren't satisfied and try to unfairly, and unethically try to rig the system even further in their favor... All while wearing a false mask of despair. The rich getting richer with no regard for anyone else. You don't want hard feelings, how about they pay their fair share like you and I do? As for claims of racism... I find that those claims are usually reserved for when someone actually does make a racist remark.

Now understand this. All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason?

The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them.

The United States officially became a Republic in 1776 , 236 years ago. The number of people now getting free stuff outnumbers the people paying for the free stuff .

Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.
Sounds like all the reason in the world for EVERYONE to pay their fair share of taxes, and to make smart cuts to the budget so that we can get it balanced and start paying off some of the ridiculous debt we've racked up. And no, I'm not talking about de-funding PBS, NASA, or support to Planned Parenthood. Any of those cuts would be drops in the bucket that would never be noticed. I'm talking about the ridiculous pet projects, all the needless spending for the sake of spending, and the biggest area we have to cut costs... defense. We should stop privatizing prisons and actually having them cost more. No more private military contractors. How about cutting a chunk out of the military budget. Our defense spending is so out of control we could do just that and still spend many multiples of what every other country spends. But if we allow to tax code to be rigged in favor of the highest earners, what we'll eventually end up with it those that have everything, and those that have nothing, with no middle-ground in between.

A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!

I'M 100% for PASSING THIS ON !!! For all our sake PLEASE Take a Stand!!

Borders : Closed!
I think that's a bit extreme. America is a land of opportunity,  and we shouldn't try to change that. No doubt, illegal immigration needs to be curbed. But is allowing no immigration really the answer?
Language : English only
I can live with that.
Culture : God, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights!
Wait... what?! God or the Constitution?  You have to pick one of the other, because the Constitution  separates religion from government.
Drug Free : Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare!
I don't care for the attitude that some have that welfare = drug use. But I don't have any issue with at least random drug testing.
NO freebies to: Non-Citizens!
I'm pretty much in agreement here.  I do feel that an exception for (legal) non-citizens that pay full taxes like a citizen would be a fair compromise.
Only 86% will send this on. Should be 100%!
What will you do?
What will I do? I'll correct the email, THEN send it on. So lets look at the honest facts, rather than  perpetuating falsehoods and stereotypes once again...

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

These are the new rules, same as the old rules

As promised, here's the second attempt by Billy Graham to prove he doesn't know the book he claims to follow...
Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve been trying to read some in the Old Testament recently, and I’d like to ask you a question: Why don’t we still do animal sacrifices, like the people were commanded to do in those days? — D.M.

DEAR D.M.: The reason we no longer need to sacrifice an animal on a burning altar or present any other sacrifice to God to atone for our sins is because of what Jesus Christ did for us.

Let me explain. God used the sacrifices of the Old Testament to teach his people two important lessons: First, God is absolutely pure and holy, and second, our sins are offensive to him and make us unrighteous in his sight. How, then, can we be forgiven of our sins and made righteous in the eyes of God? We can’t do it by our own efforts; sin still clings to us. The only possibility is if God provides the way — and he did this by accepting animal sacrifices in place of our own death for our sins.

But Jesus Christ came for one reason: to become the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. When he died on the cross, all our sins were transferred to him, and he died in our place. No further sacrifice is needed — because Christ gave his life for us. When we put our faith and trust in him, the Bible says, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Have you responded to Christ’s sacrifice for your sins? Salvation is a free gift — free, because Christ has already paid for it by his blood. But like any other gift, it only becomes ours if we reach out in faith and receive it. Why not welcome him into your life today?
Seriously?! How about an honest answer for a change Graham? The truth is that the Bible's message is far too inconvenient for your liking. You love Jesus so much... How about we see what he has to saw about the Old Testament laws.
“It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)
 Okay, so the laws are tough to change. Tell us more...
“Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19)
Translation: are you guys paying attention? Moses? Ten Commandments? Ring a bell?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17)
 And there's the one that seals it. Jesus himself say that the old laws shall stand until heaven and earth pass away/until all things have taken place. Jesus did NOT undo the old laws with his crucifixion. When that is said to have occurred, Heaven and Earth did not pass away. And plenty of things have taken place since we are told that died upon the cross. What Jesus is talking about here is he supposed second coming... the end of days if you will. So no, the ugly inconvenience of the Old Testament is still valid if you want to listen to Jesus.

But then again, believers never really threw away the Old Testament in the first place. Where's the first place believers run to to condemn homosexuality? So can we just accept gays now? The Old Testament. Christians love to talk about and hold the Ten Commandments on high. But where are they? The Old Testament. So no objections to removing Ten Commandments displays then? Guess we can throw out Noah's flood and Adam and Eve then? So if we can throw out the Old Testament, we can throw out original sin. If we can throw out original sin, all aren't damned. If all aren't damned, there's no need for a savior. So Jesus would no longer be of any importance. Are you game, believers?

We all know that the answer to that is. As must as they want to disown the Old Testament and it's laws, they can't. They have to cling on to the bits that support their agenda and further their cause. No they don't really want the old law gone. They just want to cherry pick the parts they like and ignore the rest. Justify hating gays? The old law is just fine. But when it asks you to sacrifice burnt offerings, stone disobedient children, force rape victims to marry their rapist, etc... Suddenly they scream that these rules no longer matter.

The truth is that if they allow the ugly Old Testament laws to stand, it makes it clear that the Bible is a book written by primitive people that didn't understand the world around them. Primitive people, with primitive laws, and a primitive understanding of the world. Do not try to hide behind deceptions. Why not just admit the absurdities that are apparent in the Bible. How gruesome and outdated it is. Instead of pretending the the Bible is a happy book, of happy news and stories, lets strive to live in a world free of the dividing influence of religion.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Answers in silence?

In our Sunday paper today, two questions to Billy Graham were featured. I'll be reviewing the first one today, and the second will follow tomorrow:
Sometimes God gives us wisdom to solve our own problems

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: How do I know if God even listens to my prayers? I have a lot of problems, and I’ve asked God repeatedly to take them away, but nothing ever changes. Maybe God doesn’t care. — L.W.
DEAR L.W.: You may find it hard to believe right now, but God is even more concerned about you and your problems than you are. This is why the Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

It’s often been said that God answers our prayers in one of three ways: Yes, no, and wait. There is much truth in this, because God knows our needs far better than we do. Sometimes, for example, we want him to do something for us, but our prayers are self-centered or thoughtless, and God says “No” because He knows our motives are wrong. Or sometimes God says, “Wait! Not yet!” — because he sees the whole picture, and he knows what’s best for us, both now and in the future. And sometimes, of course, God says “Yes.”

But I’ve discovered that God sometimes answers our prayers in a fourth way: By showing us how to solve the problem. In other words, sometimes we become the answer to our own prayers! We always want God to solve our problems instantly, but sometimes God wants us to deal with them on our own, as he gives us wisdom.

I don’t know what problems you’re facing right now, but God does and he wants to help you overcome them, because he loves you. Pray for wisdom … seek advice from people you trust … and then, little by little, do all you can to solve them. The Bible says, “I will go before you and will level the mountains” (Isaiah 45:2).
Talk about a non-answer! The claim that God answers prayers as either 'yes', 'no', or 'wait' is a rather useless one with no explanatory power. Think about it, if these are the possible results we are supposed to expect, then you've only manufactured a situation that is designed to claim success. The problem with the argument offered is that the very same argument can be made for any deity. God of no God, the law of averages tells us that sometimes our 'prayers' will be answered, and sometimes they won't. On sometimes the answer we were looking for may come along later on.

But all you've done is offer a universally worthless explanation. If a Muslin offer the same yes/no/wait explanation, they'd feel that they justified Muslim prayer. Same with a Hindu believer. They pray and claim the same yes/no/wait answers. So surely Ganesha is provably answering their prayers as well. The same claim can be made for every single religion, with the same results. So it does nothing to show Christian prayer to be effective. But there's more.

What if I pray to my cat? I ask him to help me with a problem in my life and can expect the same three answers of yes/no/wait. Statistically, the answer may present itself, or it may not. Additionally, after I ask my furry god (well, he acts like he is at least) for help, I may not get a solution right away, but a week later, the problem may be solved. So is my cat actually answering my prayers? Hopefully you said no, otherwise you're probably a bit loony. Yet Billy Graham's answer tells us that I should bow down before my cat and build a shrine in his honor. Such it to uselessness of the yes/no/wait argument.

Then Graham offers a fourth possibility, but falsely attributes it to God. This is one of the greatest disservices Christianity places on human responsibility... or rather takes from it. He says that God may also choose to grant you the strength to solve your problem(s) for yourself. But it is wrong to claim that God gave you the strength. In reality, you had it inside you all along. We are often stronger and capable of more than we may give ourselves credit for. There's no need to thank a god for hard work that you did. You dug deep and found the solution. No thanks to a deity, but thanks to you're own inner strength and determination.

So don't fall into worthless explanations, and answers designed to trap you into believing falsehoods. Dig deep and be your own champion. Don't settle for convenient lies, and instead strive for the truth, as that is what will truly set you free.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Rain gauge Earth

We live in a rain gauge... Figuratively of course. But are you still curious what I'm on about? Well, allow me to elaborate. Sometimes I hear believers claim that life on Earth is so miraculous that only a divine being could explain it. There are actually scientific explanations that explain life rather well. But I am mainly concerned with the numbers issue here. Some believers will claim that the likelihood of life necessitates that life had to be purposely placed here... Oh really? So tell me, is it miraculous that a rain gauge collects rain? Of course not! And if you ask me, there being life in the universe is a comparable issue.

Here is Earth... The place that you, I, everyone that's ever been and ever will be shall live out their lives. To date, it is the only place that we have found there to be life. But does that mean there's no chance for life elsewhere?

This is our solar system (not even close to scale). The third planet from our host star, is the place we call home. The rest of these planets are considered our galactic neighbors. Yet in this local group we already find ourselves having to question if life is unique to Earth. The continuing examination of Mars has found that the red planet once had an oxygen rich atmosphere, as well as liquid water. Chemical analysis by the Curiosity rover returned data that showed that Mars once supported the conditions and ingredients suitable for life. If life ever took root is the open-ended question, but Mars truly is an intriguing place that started out much like Earth.

Additionally, there are moons that are in the cross-hairs of the search for life. Europa (Jupiter) and Titan (Saturn) are the two most promising examples. Is there liquid water? Do they host life? Do they have the ingredients needed? Some think that the latter is certainly true, but future missions will have to answer those questions.

Taking another step back, this is the Milky Way galaxy. Our solar system is but one in the Milky Way. The arrow above shows where our sun lies in our galaxy. Our entire solar system is less than a single pixel in this image. Every speck of light is another star. Everything that is not black, is yet another star. In total, the number of stars in the Milky Way isn't known. But it is in the hundreds of billions of stars. That is hundreds of billions of suns, each a potential host to planets. Research has actually estimated that the Milky Way contains 100 billion 'Earth-like' planets, and substantially more non 'Earth-like' planets. What makes a planet 'Earth-like'? Generally they are rocky worlds that are the right size to have a proper atmosphere, and are also in the habitable zone on their star(s). If any of these planets hosts life is the big question, but there are certainly plenty of candidate planets in the Milky Way. But remember, the Milky Way is far from the only galaxy in the universe.

This is well worth clicking to look at in full resolution.
This is the famous Hubble extreme deep field image. It was taken by having the Hubble space telescope stare at a patch of sky for 23 days. The result was this amazing image. Even more amazing is that fact that everything you see in this image is a galaxy. Galaxies upon galaxies, made up of groups of stars, each likely hosting other worlds. All told, there are about 5,500 galaxies in the extreme deep field image (The ultra deep field image contained 10,000 galaxies). With thousands of galaxies in this image, it must be a large portion of the night sky right?

Wrong! See that tiny little rectangle to the lower left of the moon? The Hubble image containing 5,500 galaxies was taken of that tiny blank patch of sky! Considering that, is it hard to imagine that there could be as many as a trillion galaxies in the universe, and maybe 50 sextillion 'Earth-like' planets in those galaxies. The numbers are simply staggering!

So we once again reach our comparison to rain gauge Earth. Just as a rain gauge is but a tiny point in a rain storm, the Earth is a tiny place in the universe. We don't find it miraculous that a rain gauge collects rain drops because the storm clouds produce much more rain over great distances. Most of the rain misses the gauge, but some makes it in none-the-less. The Earth is the same way in the massive 'storm' of the universe. With so many potential worlds, is it so hard to expect that life would have arisen on at least one of those planets? We aren't surprised when a tiny minority of raindrops find the gauge rather than the ground. So why should we be surprised when at least one planet out of trillions actually supports life? In short, we shouldn't. Statistics actually tell us that of all the potential conditions, we should expect to find such planets.

So lets not allow theists to claim that the odds of life on Earth is a sign that it all must be the work of a deity. The facts tell a different story. One that should make us amazingly grateful and proud of our rain gauge world. The Earth may be but a rain drop in the rain gauge of habitable worlds, but it's a beautiful one for sure.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Brain Hulk - Logic... Shop!

Self promotion is hardly my strong suit, so I'll keep this short... Introducing the Brain Hulk - Logic Shop! Have you ever wished you could have a Brain Hulk shirt, hat or even a phone case? Well, now you can have one. You can even use your reserves of logic to get a reusable shopping bag so you can take Brain Hulk on all your shopping trips. Help support the site, so I can try and post more often than I presently do. Just follow the above tab, or go to Many thanks to all my readers. And if there are any design or product requests, please let me know and I'll do my best to make them a reality.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, June 17, 2013

God: The ultimate deadbeat dad

Unsurprisingly, Billy Graham's letter this Sunday is Father's Day related. Even less surprising is how terrible his answer is...
Reach out to your children this Father's Day

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I know I wasn’t a very good father, but I’m an old man now and I really wish I could see my children again. I’ve begged them to forgive me, but they just ignore me. I don’t know why I’m writing, but maybe you can urge fathers to do better than I did. — B.W.

DEAR B.W.: Today, Americans will be celebrating Father’s Day, a special day set aside to honor our fathers and thank God for all they have meant to us. Being a good father isn’t easy, but almost nothing is more important, when we see it from God’s viewpoint.

If you could live your life over again you’d probably try to avoid the bad decisions you made, and you’d try to be a better father. And that’s one reason I wanted to reprint your letter, because it reminds us of what happens when fathers ignore their God-given responsibility to “Train a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). God is our heavenly father, and he is our example of what it means to love and care for our children.

What can you do? First, seek God’s forgiveness for the past — not just for the wrongs you did, but also for the good things you failed to do. God loves you (as well as your children), and the greatest discovery you’ll ever make is that he loves you so much he sent his son into the world to die for you. By a simple prayer of faith confess your sins to God and ask Christ to cleanse you and come into your life.

Then do whatever you can this Father’s Day to let your children know you still love them, in spite of your failures. Pray for them also, that God will bring healing to their hurts and help them forgive the past.

Now, I don't know the details of the kind of dad that BW was and is, but the pact that he doesn't seem to be serving a life sentence in prison suggests that he's a better dad than the example set by God in the Bible. But I'll get back to that in a bit...

What the hell is Graham on about? I can tell you that wen I (and most) celebrate Father's Day, it is not to thank God fro what my father means to me, but to thank my father for what he means to me. Why on Earth would someone thank someone who doesn't exist, and if he did, had sod-all to do with what kind of dad my dad was and is? I guess you could thank God if your dad was an overbearing religious follower that shoved the Bible down your neck at every turn... But that definitely wouldn't be something to be thankful for. So instead, I'll thank my dad for being the great dad he's was and continues to be.

But then 'bad news Bill', give the same horrible advice he gave on Mother's Day... Follow God's example of parenthood! How about no... I'm not a horrible individual, and would like to stay that way. Let's look at what kind of god the dear old sky daddy is.

Well, first he tells you from the moment that you are born, that you are a terrible person deserving of eternal torment and anguish. Does that sound like a loving parent? How many dads do you see that start yelling obscenities at their newborn child the moment the moment that leave their mother's womb? None... so the vast majority of parents are better than God right there!

What about children loving a parent? Typically, love is reciprocal to some degree. Not so with the Christian god. You must love him no matter what. May I ask if your father threatens  you to love him? I know mine doesn't! I love him (and my mother) for who they are and how they've raised me. They provided for me, cared for me, helped me and yes, even disciplined me. But never did they hang horrible penalty above my head like God supposedly does...

If a child doesn't love their father back (be it the father's fault or the child's), they simply lose that relationship. They could have a strained relationship, fight at times, or just not communicate or see each other at all. But God takes to about five-thousand steps further... If you don't love him back (a poor choice of words since it doesn't seem like he loves anyone but himself), he doesn't simply get sad and wish you could make up. No, he sentences you to a fate worse than death. Don't love him and he casts you into eternal fire to burn forever in agony and never-ending torture. Where is the love there?

What would you think if a man kidnapped his child, locked him in his basement and proceeded burn him with cigarettes, electric shocks, break his fingers one at a time, pummel him with his fists, etc? Then wait for him to heal and regain his strength only so he can start the circle of torture once more. And he did all of this because his child didn't love him. What should become of this terribly psychotic father? You'd probably want him locked up for life, and even put to death! Yet that is exactly the fatherly example that God sets. Love me or will wish you had. But the thing is, parents that love their children would never purposely put them through such harm. If you love someone, you don't want to cause them pain, regardless of if they feel the same. Yet God is ready and willing to torture each and every single person that is born. Translation... God doesn't really love anyone.

And then what about Jesus. We are told that God sacrificed his only son for us. But is that really a good story to illustrate an example of fatherhood to strive for? Of course not. He sent his son to die for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Jesus didn't have to die (if the stories were true)! If God wanted to forgive the worthy, he could, you know... just forgive them. I know, talk about a complicated proposition. You want to forgive people, you know who is worthy, so you forgive them without a meaningless hurdle that will only cause less of the worthy to be forgiven, and more of the unworthy to be forgiven. Jesus' death and suffering would have been meaningless, and God would have known this if he really is all knowing.

It would be like you told you grandmother that her cooking was disgusting, and she was outraged by this statement. She loves you though, so she wants to forgive you, BUT there's a catch! She tells you that she's going to send her first son (your uncle) to his death for your insult. If you accept this sacrifice she will forgive you and your hurtful words. Would any sane person make such and insane
offer? And who would be twisted enough to accept it? Yet this is the sick offer that Christian's the world over gladly accept, and pronounce to be a grand loving gesture. It is not! It is a unnecessary and barbaric story created by barbaric people.

So this father's day, and hereafter, do not follow God's example of parenting, and instead be a good parent. Love your children for who they are, and don't try to force them to be something different than they are. And don't try to force love. Forced and demanded love is not love at all. Genuinely thank you dad for his genuine love for you, and if you want to thank a creator,  thank your parents, because without them, there would be no you.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Agnostic or atheist?

Every now and then, the topic of atheist vs agnostic will come up. Sometimes it will be a self described agnostic that claims that atheists are just as close-minded as theists. But usually it is the theist that will try to claim that the atheist really isn't an atheist at all, but is actually agnostic. However, both of these situations simply reflect a common misunderstanding...

In the example where the agnostic is making the claim, the usual argument is that atheists are just as defiantly sure that God doesn't exist, as believers are that he does. But is this really an accurate argument?

In the example where the believer claims that the atheist isn't really an atheist, there is a question they usually ask first. The theist may question if the atheist can be absolutely sure that there is no God. That there is at least some small chance that they could be wrong about there being a God. When the non-believer admits that they can't know with 100% certainty, the theist will declare, "Ah,ha! You're agnostic, not atheist!". But is that true?

In both cases, the conclusions are false, and stem from a misunderstanding as to what the terms atheist and agnostic really mean. But is that not to be somewhat expected when the church has claimed atheists to either be angry with God, worshipers of Satan, outright deniers that God exists, certain that God doesn't exist, or just don't want there to be a God. Considering that none of those are what 'atheist' means, I can see where there could be some confusion.

When you get right down to the simplest meaning, an atheist is simply a person who lack a belief in gods. No need to be certain. No need to claim to know if there is or isn't a God. Quite simply if your answer to the question "Do you believe in God?" is anything other than 'yes', you are an atheist. But shouldn't you be an agnostic if you don't 'know' there is no God? No...

The term atheist is about belief, and agnostic is about knowledge. So the terms really answer two different questions. If you don't believe in any gods, you are an atheist. If you do, you are a theist. If you claim knowledge that there is or isn't a God, you are gnostic. If you don't claim certain knowledge, you are agnostic. This means that most agnostics and atheists are actually 'agnostic atheists'. I actually fall into that classification. I do not believe in God, therefore I am an atheist. But I also don't claim to be absolutely certain that there are no gods. Therefor, I am also agnostic.

Some may ask if there is still room for a standalone agnostic classification. A classification for those that don't believe, and also don't disbelieve... The problem is, that I don't feel that there is an existent position between belief and lack thereof. Remember, if your answer to a question of belief is anything other than 'yes', then you lack belief. If you claim that you 'don't know' if you believe, then you do not believe. Belief is an affirmative stance. Lack of an affirmative stance leaves you with the negative classification. So no, on the question of belief, I do not feel there is a classification between belief, and lack thereof.

All that said, I can understand that some prefer to call themselves simply 'agnostic'. As I said before, the term 'atheist' has an (undeserved) social stigma. In some cases, calling yourself an atheist will land you in a tougher position than calling oneself an agnostic. But remember that the most accurate classification for most non-believers is 'agnostic atheist'. You can be both, and be proud of it. I know I am.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

The fence test?

Another day, another chain email... This one is reported to be a list by Jeff Foxworthy that will point out if you are a Republican or Democrat. First of all, the list does not originate from the comedian it is attributed to. Secondly, it becomes apparent very quickly that the 'list' is hugely biased. Now, I am not a Republican or Democrat, but I'd say I lean closer to Democrat if I was forced to choose one over the other. So allow me to examine this list from my unaffiliated perspective, as well as the views or Democrat friends of mine...
Which side of the fence?

If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!

If a Republican doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a Democrat doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
Wrong! I don't like guns, yet support the second amendment. My solution? I don't buy one. Unsurprisingly, Democrat friends of mine follow the same example. The problem here is the fantasy that gun control = outlawing guns. That's simply false and a play on exaggerated fear.
If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
Tell me this one is a joke. I have never once seen a Democrat advocate the outlawing of meat products. If a Democrat is a vegetarian, they simply don't eat meat.
If a Republican is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.
No, a democrat asks for the equal treatment that has been unfairly kept from them. I would not be surprised if a Republican homosexual were in favor of equality as well. But what about Republicans on homosexuality? The party position seems to be the restrict homosexuals to second class status, and to restrict access to the rights that rightfully theirs. IE: fighting against marriage equality.
If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Democrat wonders who is going to take care of him.
Again, incorrect. When I have tough times, I work hard to better my situation. I have Democrat and Republican friends that do the same. Likewise, I know Republicans and Democrats that simply want to be taken care of for free. Contrary to your claim, it's not a Republican or Democrat thing.
If a Republican doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Democrats demand that those they don't like be shut down.
Come again? I've heard of Republican's setting up boycotts of shows that they don't like, as well as calling on advertisers to stop supporting the show. The same can be said of Democrats. Republicans have called for certain hosts to be fired, Democrats have called out against certain hosts. Both situations are sad. People have free speech rights, agree or not, they have the right to say what they want.
If a Republican is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A Democrat non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.
That's either a bold faced lie, or someone being pissed about not being able to force their religion on everyone. A Democrat or non-believer does not call for every mention of God and religion to be silenced. What we speak out about are Constitutional violations of church/state separation. You can talk about and worship your god all you want. But you may be break the law and forecfeed your religion in public schools and courthouses.
If a Republican decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A Democrat demands that the rest of us pay for his.
I hope this list wasn't written by Pinocchio, otherwise his nose is probably long enough to span the Pacific... I know a Republicans that shop around for insurance, and I know one that is riding the free train from coast to coast. I also know someone who is a left wing as anyone I've ever met that works a lower paying job, just because it offered  healthcare.

If a Republican reads this, he'll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A Democrat will delete it because he's "offended".
A good laugh over inaccurate info? Okay, if that's how you get your jollies, I guess it is what it is. I wouldn't so much say I'm offended so much as disappointed about how lazy people can be in their research. Does the truth matter, or would you rather just perpetuate stereotypes?

I could say that if a Democrat doesn't like abortion, she just doesn't have one.
If a Republican doesn't like abortion, they want to outlaw it and/or violate women to keep them from having one.

Obviously not all Republicans feel this way, but if we are just amplifying stereotype, Republicans have just as much or more mud to wear than the Democrats. So how about we actually focus on facts for a change?

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NYC: Madison Ave or Muslim Ave?

It's chain email time once more! Are Muslim's taking over New York City? Let's look at the email, then lets look at the facts...

This is in NYC on Madison Ave – not France, Yemen, Kenya or the Middle East


A Christian Nation cannot put up a Christmas scene of the baby Jesus in
a public place, but the Muslims can stop normal traffic every Friday afternoon
by worshiping in the streets.... Something is happening in America that is
reminiscent of what is happening in Europe . This is Political Correctness
gone crazy... Scary! Isn't it?

Is there a message here???? Yes, there is, and they are claiming America for Allah. If we don't wake up soon, we are going to "politically correct"ourselves right out of our own country!


Are Muslims stopping traffic in NYC every Friday to pray? No, that's just an outright lie. The pictures in the email are not of a weekly event, but of an annual one. They are from the annual Muslim Pride Parade. An event that has been taking place since 1985.  The email pictures are from the 2009 event. Last I checked Islam is only the religion of choice for 0.6% of Americans. There are even more Jehovah's Witnesses (0.7%) and Buddhists (0.7%) than Muslims in the USA! So for an event that has been taking place since 1985, it is hardly taking over America.

While I can appreciate that this parade, and all that stop traffic in busy areas like this can be annoying, they still have the right. I do not agree with Islam, but as Americans, they have the right to peacefully assemble. Additionally, being a parade, they would have had to go through the same permitting process as any other similar event.

Most importantly, the declaration that the United States is a Christian nation is an outright falsehood. Yes, the USA is populated with more Christians (78.4% of the population) than any other faith groups. But that makes it a nation populated by a great number of Christians, but it does not make it a Christian nation. To call the USA a Christian nation for those reasons would also require you to call this a white nation or a female nation. But to do that would be equally as wrong as the claim of teh USA as a Christian nation.

But history paints an even clearer picture. The treaty of Tripoli (signed by President Adams) states:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion
 Not is any sense founded on the Christian religion? That sounds pretty cut and dry to me.  But maybe the Constitution has something to say as well...
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
 Well lookie there! The United States may not make a law respecting an establishment of religion, so there may be no official national religion. Also, the free exercise clause means that Christians and teh government may not stop this Muslim parade from taking place (or Muslims stopping a Christian parade). The first Amendment protects all equally.

And what are you getting at with the 'Christians can't display Jesus' BS? Christians can display Jesus all they want, but not on government property. Likewise, Muslims can't do the same on government property. The establishment clause strikes again! Jefferson's wall of separation between church and state means that the government may not grant preference to any one religion over another. That means either not allowing religion, or allowing them all.

What we probably have here, is yet another example of Christianity wanting it all their way. Muslims exercising their rights? We must stop them! We aren't being allowed to force our religion on everyone, even in schools and government buildings? Ignore the law and scream persecution!

So yes, while I would be annoyed by this parade getting in my way, it is only an annual event, not a weekly one. Take some time to look at the facts before spouting off. Otherwise you weaken your own argument when your 'logic' is found to be wanting.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Class of lowered expectations

This week students everywhere are graduating from high school. With all the reports on the news and stories in the newspaper, it reminded me of the last time I attended a high school graduation...

At that graduation I was reminded of a portion of the public that I feel perpetuates a standard that I feel holds our education system behind. A 2012 study placed America's public education system in 17th position among 50 nations. The rankings looked like this:

1) Finland
2) South Korea
3) Hong Kong
4) Japan
5) Singapore
6) United Kingdom
7) Netherlands
8) New Zealand
9) Switzerland
10) Canada
11) Ireland
12) Denmark
13) Australia
14) Poland
15) Germany
16) Belgium
17) United States

What's to blame for this 17th place ranking? I'd contend that it's a lowering of expectations (and inadequate funding). A rewarding and over celebrating of the lowest levels of success. Allow me to provide an example...

At that last graduation, there were families sitting in front and behind (though there were many other like them there). The procession started. Their child walked by, and they initiated their deafening screams of, "You did it!!!!!! You actually did it!!!!!!! That's my baby!!!!!! You did it!!!!!! You graduated!!!!!! Way to go!!!!! " Etc...

Okay, so you're probably asking yourself what is wrong with them being proud of their child? And I will tell you right now that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of ones child. But I am certain all of us have met people like those I am discussing here. The ones who go on and on about trivial successes at the office, expect praise for doing what they should do anyway or rewarded for simple help given.

The way in which these parents cries were emphasized, you would have though the kid had just just won the Nobel Prize or mastered quantum physics. Something truly exceptional and extraordinary. Something... unexpected. These people are proud, and rightfully so. But they should be proud of the journey their child has made... That they are taking that next step in life... If they did above average or exemplary in their studies and of the people they have become. But not of the simple fact of the graduation. But that is the part some parents focus on and make the act of graduating itself something surprisingly remarkable.

And this is the underlying cause that is what actually annoys me. Shouldn't we live in a society where something as important as graduating high school is expected? Where those who fail to, well... failed! We live in a time where where everything seems to be rewarded and shortcomings are sugar coated and swept under the rug. What the hell is wrong with a little accountability and giving credit where credit is due? Every little thing is twisted into a reason to celebrate and congratulate. Preschools and kindergartens are even holding graduation ceremonies complete with cap's, gown's, and diploma's! Sure, they look cute, but what is there to celebrate? That little Joey and Sue excelled at nap time and play time?

But the thing about high school graduation is that it is really just a foregone conclusion for the vast majority of students. So actually graduating really isn't all that special. What you did with that time, what you learned, how it prepared you for life and what your GPA rank was, ARE important. Did the person who graduated with a 2.1 GPA actually do anything remarkable? Or did they simply waste years that they could have used to further their future? The answers are 'no' and 'yes'.

The actual act of graduation for me, was simply a milestone. A marker for memories for what had
been and hope for what was to come. Was I overwhelmingly proud that I graduated? No. I was proud, but didn't feel that act of doing so was anything remarkable. However, doing so as valedictorian and the knowledge I gained, was something I was extremely proud of and will always stick with me.

All that said, I still feel that graduation is a time to celebrate and enjoy. I just hope that everyone focuses on what is really important and hoists the simple act of graduation to be some grand achievement that it isn't. Yes, they may be starting a new chapter in their life, but that is a journey that almost all will take. High school gradation is an achievement, but not an exemplary one. And until we set this task as no more than the minimum threshold of achievement I feel American will continue to fall behind. Lets not celebrate all 'achievements' big and small equally, but instead emphasize the best and the brightest. By emphasizing and rewarding the ideal you will incentivize the reaching for greatness, rather than satisfaction with mediocrity.

-Brain Hulk

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

For God so loved the world…

…that he deemed that all are deserving of eternal torment. Look at the person on your left, your right, behind you, in the mirror. Picture them engulfed in the agony of never-ending fire. Picture yourself meeting that same fate.

What about your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, friends, family, coworkers, and even perfect strangers? Ask God, and he’d tell you that all deserve no less than endless torture.

Why? How could anyone deserve such a fate? In God’s eye, all it takes is simply being born. Yes, from the innocent newborn, to the kindly aged, the moment of birth somehow justifies this vilest of fates. Think of all those people I mentioned prior. Have any of them ever done anything, for which you would wish them to burn alive for all eternity?

What would it take for you to wish unending torture on another? Would it be enough if someone murdered your child or loved one? Or would their own death satisfy you? The point is that there are very few crimes that most people would append an eternal sentence to. Yet, that is the only sentence that the Christian god employs.

In the civilized world, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But that is not the Christian view of the world. All are guilty and deserving of the maximum sentence. This is true at the moment of birth. No matter if your future crime is minor, major or imagined. Who could call such a thing justice? Who would dare to call that love?

Nay, the Christian god is not one who speaks of love. And original sin does not help this vain deities cause. The supposed sin of Adam of Eve would have ended with their individual punishment with a loving god. Do we imprison a rapist’s child with him because of his father’s crimes? So why then, should we accept that original sin damns all to eternal agony in Hell?

The answer is simple. We should never accept such an answer. Christianity’s god is not one of love. Rather, he is cruel and is hungry for power and control. If he were real, such a god would not be worthy of worship. On the contrary, he would more resemble the evils he is said to oppose. So don’t buy into the fantasies that the Christian god is one of love. We know better and see him for the villain he truly is.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Food stamps: It's what's for dinner

Time for another chain email that misses the mark. This one's target? Well, the nefarious villains that are people on food stamps of course!

WRITTEN BY A 21 YEAR OLD FEMALE ... Wow, this girl has a great plan! Love the last thing she would do the best.

This was written by a young lady who gets it. It's her future she's worried
about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big government state that she's being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

This was in the Waco Tribune Herald, Waco, TX.

A twenty-one year old woman from Texas has it ALL figured out and is communicating her plan via chain email? Can't say I'm not skeptical. The title certainly doesn't make sense,  but let's see what she has to say...
Put me in charge of food stamps. I'd get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho's, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.
Wait, wait, wait... This is a complaint I've heard far too often. Bellyaching that people on food stamps
are buying steaks and eating better than they are. The trouble is, that these people are not going to the store, feasting on steak and living some opulent life on the public dole. What it actually tells me is that you have no idea how food stamps work. People on food stamps do not have an endless credit card that they are allowed to buy any food they want with. What they receive is a monthly allowance for food. They can use that money on canned goods, cuts of meat, frozen food, etc.Once it's gone, it's gone.

But how much do they get? Lets look at the averages... In my state (MD) the allowance is $128.46 (per participant) each month. In the email author's Texas, it's $123.95. The state with the highest is Hawaii, at $213.65. Minnesota is the lowest at $115.98. At present the national average is $133.42 per month. I don't know about you, but I would find it difficult feeding my wife and I on that tight of a budget. Heck, we spend more than $128 every single week. So they certainly aren't getting fat on food stamps.

I will say that I find the purchasing of steaks on such a limited budget to be quite irresponsible. But what concern is that of mine or yours? If they want to blow a weeks worth of the food budget on a meal or two of steaks, that's their prerogative. That just means that it will be very slim pickings the rest of the month. I would highly suggest they make more budget conscious meal purchases, but that's ultimately up to them. If you are so jealous of them eating steak, just remember that you can too. Pig out on the finest cuts for a meal or two. Throw your budget to the wind. But then realize that in order to stay within budget, it's Cheerios and ramen noodles the rest of the month. Remember... whether
they have steaks and pizza or rice and beans, they still only get $128/month.
Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol or smoke, then get a job.
That's a bit extreme, though I will admit a certain amount of agreement on the reproductive issue. I don't think we should necessarily be forcing people not to have kids (even though I do know people that never should have conceived), but the more kids = more money loophole should be closed. In my opinion, we shouldn't allow people to continue having kids for the purpose of increasing their aid. If you have two kids when you apply, you are locked in with aid for two. If you are pregnant with a third when you apply, I'll allow aid for three. But every child conceived after that gains you no more assistance (unless you were raped and decided to keep the child). If a person whats to have a fifth, sixth or seventh child they can. But they are going to have to make the budget they already have work.

Drug tests? I hope this isn't a play to assume that most on assistance are druggie deviants. The simple truth is that most on assistance are regular people that are down on their luck. They don't want to be on assistance any more than you do. But there they find themselves anyway. That said, if they want to do random drug tests, I'd be okay with that. If they're engaged in illegal activities, I feel they should forfeit their assistance. But alcohol and nicotine? Both are legal, so why the exception? So if someone has a stressful day or loses a loved one and takes the edge off with a cold one, they should be at risk of losing their assistance. Same with smoking. I think smoking is a disgusting habit, but why the testing? Is it because they are expensive? What if someone is buying the cigarettes for them?

Wouldn't it be far more fair and efficient to not allow the use assistance payments for tobacco products? I would be in favor of that version.
Put me in charge of government hous-ing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your "home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.
No, I have never lived in a military barracks(unless historic sites count). But I have been told that I make a bed like I had. I half agree with this section. On one hand, I feel that government housing should be open to maintenance inspections. However, I don't feel that the inventorying of possessions is the government's business. So someone is living in government housing and has a nice TV or a game system... So what? Are you assuming they were irresponsible purchases? Perhaps they were. But what if they were Christmas or birthday gifts? Should they be kicked out because they have a Wii that the kids play on a crappy TV in a less than optimal 'home'? Or what if the TV is new, but all their close came from Goodwill? Should they be out on the street because of a TV? What if they had these possessions prior to being on welfare?
In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a "government" job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, paint-ing and repairing public housing, what-ever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the "common good."
Interesting suggestion, considering that rebuilding and maintaining infrastructure was one of Obama's more recent job creating ideas, yet the house has refused to even hear the plan... Though that policy would have been voluntary. This suggested mandatory policy sounds a bit more like certain other country's/regime's I'd rather not mention. And again, what's with the stereotypical  assumption that food stamps = 22" wheels and annoying stereo? Furthermore, what if they had those possessions prior to falling on hard times? Sure, selling them would be the smart thing to do. But last I heard, we still live in a free country. You complain about not having jobs, yet if you are forcing full-time labor, that will get in the way of securing a job. It won't be impossible to get one, but it won't help get a job. How about if they have to prove they are looking for and applying to jobs. Then if they can't get hired, offer them the' road work' option as a paid job to replace the aid? Then if they turn that offer down, and turn out to be abusing the system, then cut them off.

But remember, there's one huge problem with the endless calls for people on welfare and receiving food stamps/welfare to 'get a job'... A lot of these poor individuals DO have jobs. You scream that 'if you want steak, get a job'. Well, what if they do have a job. A job that pays very poorly, but still a job. Are you okay with the forty-odd percent that do have jobs? Perhaps research should be done prior to jumping to conclusions. And what's with all these controls and rules. Are you no longer in favor of small government, because it sounds like you want a bigger government than anyone... well, bigger for everyone but you.
Before you write that I've violated some-one's rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin their "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes, we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.
I'm actually not worried about being demeaning or self esteem issues. What I am worried about is being a 'dick' though.Many of these arbitrary rules don't actually solve the problems with the system, or simply play toward singling out certain stereotypes. Yes, those that abuse the system need to learn their lesson. But should we be placing undue and unnecessary punishment and restrictions on those that are genuinely on hard times and are trying to right themselves as soon as possible. Real, through out solutions are whats needed, not emotional reactions to inaccurate stereotypes. What if a new law said that if you renew your drivers license, you forfeit your guns? It would be optional, since you can choose not to drive. Just take the bus. But you are proposing the more serious choice of give up your rights or starve. How quaint...
AND while you are on Gov't subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov't welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.
So you're basically saying piss on the rights of American citizens? What you've done here is reveal the ugly truth to this whole email. It's not about fixing the system, but biased and ugly politics. The assumption here is that welfare/food stamps = Democrat/minority. The goal hear is not improvement or change, but to deceptively steal back votes (or rather take away votes) from the opposition. But do the facts actual support the (probably fake) Texas woman's assumptions?

Assumption: Most on welfare are minorities.
Truth: The percentage of 'whites', 'Hispanics' and 'blacks' on welfare is actually pretty even (just leaning from one side to to other depending on the study.

Assumption: Most on welfare live in the inner-city.
Truth: The majority of recipients are urban or rural.

Assumption: People on welfare don't have jobs, or want them.
Truth: Actually, 41% of recipients have jobs (but low paying ones). Also, there are those that are genuinely on hard times and looking for work. So no, everyone on welfare is not looking for lifelong freebies.

Assumption: Most on welfare are the lazy middle-aged.
Truth: The reality is that 47% are under 18 years old, and 8% are 60 or older.

But if you're all on board with not allowing welfare recipients to vote, how about corporate welfare? Maybe the big oil companies that get huge government checks shouldn't be allowed to vote or fund campaigns. Same with other huge companies that get government money when they don't need a single dime of it.Would you be okay with that?
 Now, if you have the guts - PASS IT ON
 Have the guts to pass it on? I'd be ashamed to pass it on! Unlike some, I have scruples. I refuse to support a blatant play at political stereotyping in order to play a dirty political game. I would support real and substantive reforms to the welfare system, because it certainly could use a healthy dose of reform. However, this email was rather vacant of many real solutions. So instead of sending that one, I will send my reply on. Let honesty and reason prevail!

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, June 3, 2013

God: Hate the sin, hate the sinner... and everyone else

Another Monday, another example of Billy Graham simply not getting it. In my Sunday paper, there were actually two questions to Graham. The first was a question about helping the homeless. The writer questioned if they were doing any good at the homeless shelter since they see the same people there week after week. Billy starts out fine, explaining that just seeing the same people doesn't mean that they aren't making a difference.

But, as always he ruins it at the end by saying that 'the greatest gift you can give them is God's love through Jesus Christ' and calls on them to help the homeless 'find' Jesus. Um, no... The greatest gift you can give them is not Jesus, but a warm meal, a place to sleep and a friendly smile. You know, things that actually matter. First of all, most Americans are Christians, so it's highly likely that these down on their luck individuals already are Christians. Second of all, reliance on God is horrible advice if it's anything like religious Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups.

They teach that the individual is powerless to the addiction, and without the help of a higher power, they are doomed to fall back into their old ways. Such thinking does the people in need a disservice, and portrays they as insignificantly weak. It also sets them up for a fall. When compared with Secular Sobriety (SS), AA doesn't have a great record. SS empowers the individual to find the strength that they have within them, and not reliance on an external (imaginary) force. AA attendees are more likely to have a relapse, because when times get rough again, they were told they were powerless, and act accordingly. Now this isn't true in all cases, but it's more common with AA. So rather than telling the homeless that there is nothing they can do about there situation (telling them to put their lives in God's hands), give them actual help and good good advice instead.

The second question is about the old phrase, 'hate the sin, love the sinner...

When we repent for our sins, God offers forgiveness

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I’ve always heard that “God hates the sin but loves the sinner,” but is this really true? How can God love someone who abuses children, kills innocent people, or things like that? I know I sure can’t. — L.H.

DEAR L.H.: If God loved only people who are perfect and worthy of his love, then he wouldn’t love anyone, because we’re all imperfect and unworthy. As the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
But God doesn’t look at us this way. Instead, the Bible says, God loves us in spite of our sin and rebellion, and he has done everything possible to demonstrate his love to us. Think for a moment of all the good things God gives us that we don’t deserve: our lives, our families, our health, our freedoms. Even the next breath you take is a sign of his love for you, whether you realize it or not.
The greatest demonstration of God’s love, however, was in Jesus Christ, who gave his life so we could become God’s children and go to be with him in heaven forever. We deserved to die for our sins, but Christ died in our place, because of his love for us. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Human beings are capable of terrible deeds; you have mentioned some of them. Because of them, we deserve nothing less than God’s judgment — and his judgment is certain. But God’s love is greater than our sin, and when we repent and turn to Christ for our salvation, God forgives us and gives us new hearts and new lives. Have you turned to him for the forgiveness you need?
 So... I'm guessing that Graham is all Bible this, Bible that without having ever read the dusty old book. Because it is NOT a book that exudes love. Payback for brown nosing, perhaps, but not real love and forgiveness.

God loves us and has everything to demonstrate his love for us? How? The Bible offers a blackmail deal in order to forgive an absurd 'crime' (that never happened) and dishes out eternal punishment for any crimes real or imagined... Let's start at the beginning shall we?

Original sin is supposed to be the one that infects all. For the time being we'll ignore that fact that there was no original sin, and show how this fails within Christianity's own doctrine. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They do, God deems that they've disobeyed and done wrong and damns their descendants for all eternity. But does any of that make sense? Of course not! Remember, it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Before eating from the tree, they where ignorant of good and evil. So before they ate from the tree, they didn't know that it was bad to disobey God.

Think of it like a new baby that does something bad. Do you punish them for eternity for doing something that they were too ignorant and innocent to know it was wrong to do that thing? Of course not! To make matter worse, God is supposed to me omniscient. So he knew that they didn't know it was wrong to disobey, and also knew that them not knowing would inevitably lead to them eating from the tree. So he knew all this and did nothing to stop it? Then to make maters worse, he curses all their descendants for eternity? Cursing them and everyone else for them committing a 'sin' that he knew, they couldn't know they were committing until it was too late? That is not hating the sin and loving the sinner. That's looking for any excuse possible to claim that all are damned!

Then silly Billy has this to say... "Think for a moment of all the good things God gives us that we
don’t deserve: our lives, our families, our health, our freedoms. Even the next breath you take is a sign of his love for you, whether you realize it or not." Talk about sick and demeaning! This is a prime example of how Christianity does not appreciate life, and thinks of us all as little more than filth. We don't deserve out lives, family, freedom, etc? Bull! That is not a statement of love at all. It is a statement of love when a kidnapper tells there victim that they could just kill them, but are instead keeping them alive for now? Of course not! That is a power play, pure and simple. I could end you, so just step in line and await my command.

And how is Jesus the greatest example of God's love? In what universe is a human sacrifice necessary for anything? If God wants to forgive the sins of those that he (arbitrarily) deems worthy, then there is no need for Jesus whatsoever. If he hates the sin, but loves the sinner, then just forgive the 'sinners'. Want to forgive than just forgive! Additionally, willing compliance with human sacrifice is far more abhorrent that most  of the sins that God would damn you for. And not just punish, but eternal torment! Talk about holding a grudge!

Graham also states that humans are capable of terrible deeds, so we deserve God's judgement. Sure, we are capable... But what about those like me that don't murder, abuse children, cheat on my wife, etc? Why is it that I am to be held in the same regard as those that do these terrible deeds? Again, that's not love. But if we're capable of these things, and that places us deserving of judgement, what about God? God is capable of terrible acts as well, and has performed far more terrible acts than any person has. Since God is capable or terror, and has actually acted accordingly, he deserves judgement as well. My sentence? The God of the Bible is the far more deserving of eternal torment than any person ever has been.

So no, God does not hate the sin and love the sinner. If anything, his track record would suggest that he (if he was real) loves the sin and hates the sinner. If he loves us so much, he's doing a terrible job of sowing it, and seem to have everything set up in such a way that all are doomed to fail his (imaginary and pointless) test. Instead of trying to impress a god that doesn't exist, how about if we be good to one another for the sake of being good. Display our empathy (that God is lacking) and make this a better world. Once we strive for real morality, rather than religious morality, that goal may just be possible.

-Brain Hulk

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