Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Annoying buzzword of the moment

Being a designer, I take notice of the advertising and marketing concepts I see daily. Sometimes I see some that I quite like, and other times I some that I feel fail spectacularly. Then there are those that irritate me because of my interest and knowledge of science. In this case, it's a buzzword that I've now seen three companies using. That word would be 'quantum'. Sure, it's a flashy, 'sciencey' term that my exude a feeling of high-tech.

However just like in old phrase 'quantum leap', the usage makes no sense. In that old phrase, the intention is to mean a huge leap forward. However, 'quantum' is a word that refers to the smallest of the small, a discrete quantity, or discrete amount of energy. So a 'quantum leap' wouldn't be a huge one, but one that is infinitely small.

So when Verizon was advertising their new FiOS service dubbed FiOS Quantum, I took notice. They were brandishing 'quantum' as if it was descriptive of the blazing speed of this new offering. But 'quantum' has nothing to do with speed. When I hear 'FiOS Quantum', I hear 'FiOS small'. And to me, describing something as small does not leave me with the impression of impressive speed. Then again, 'quantum' can be used to mean of discrete quantity, and from what I can gather, FiOS is barely available anywhere (especially anywhere in my area). So I guess it's rarity could classify it as 'quantum'.

Last week I saw another example of 'quantum' misused. This time it was from Duracell, who's new Duracell Quantum offering is advertised to stay good for 10 years in storage, and is their longest lasting alkaline battery yet. It actually looks to be a simple re-branding of a previous Duracell product with a flashy name to help sales. And maybe most will think the name sounds cool and but them because they think they sound more advanced. But remember, one definition of 'quantum' can be a discrete amount of energy. If you ask me, a battery with a title tacked to it that can mean 'hardly and energy', is the exact opposite on the message I'd be wanting to broadcast. Would you buy a battery whose name suggests that it's already nearly dead?

Yeah... That looks so tiny. More like the opposite of quantum.
Then there was the kicker I saw advertised yesterday. It turns out that Royal Caribbean has a new cruise ship. A ship that they are saying is by far their most innovative ship. So, what are they calling this monster of a ship? Quantum of the Seas... What? What! Quantum is the smallest of the small, and they plaster that name on a behemoth of a boat... It's glaringly obvious that no care was given to what the word actually means, and instead just looked for something that sounded high-tech for this high-tech ship. Oh, and remember that 'quantum leap' phrase I mentioned prior? That's right, Royal Caribbean scores a double-whammy buy using the  slogan 'A quantum leap forward in cruising' in their advertising. Great! They've made a quantum leap forward! So... that means that they've barely made any advancements at all then?

In my opinion, it's sad that we seem to be discarding the actual meaning and instead focus on what simply 'sounds' cool and hip. Purposely being wrong and even creating an oxymoron just to sound cool is a sad state of affairs if you as me.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Maybe belief is the crime

Well, 'crime' is a bit strong. But belief can often cause one try try and justify one's crime. This week, Billy Graham fields a question about belief and crime figures, and unsurprisingly draws a judgmental conclusion.
Belief in God is empty if you don't follow him

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: According to the polls I’ve seen, most people today still say they believe in God. But if that’s true, why do we have so much crime and addiction and so forth? God doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, does he? — W.L.

DEAR W.L.: You’re right; polls today certainly indicate that most people still believe in God. And yet you’re also right when you say that God doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in the way they live (at least for many of them). Why is this?

Let me answer by asking another question: Whose fault is this? Is it God’s fault, or is it ours? I think you know the answer. You see, it’s entirely possible to believe in God, and yet not take him seriously. It’s somewhat like being sick, and having the doctor prescribe something that will cure our illness. We can get the prescription filled... we can believe it will cure us... but if we put it in the medicine cabinet and never take it, it won’t do us any good.

The same is true with God. We may believe in him... we may even believe he can help us, but if we ignore him and leave him out of our lives, nothing will change. Instead of following him, we’ll act almost as if he didn’t exist. The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that” (James 2:19).

Don’t let this be true of you. Don’t just believe in God, but put your belief into action, by committing your life to Jesus Christ. Then make it your goal to live for him every day. As the Bible says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
WL, what you have been offered by Graham is a presumptive answer and a logical fallacy. Yes, polls show a majority believe, but the question wasn't a simple as simple as 'Do you believe? yes/no'. In fact, the most recent Pew Forum survey asked what religion people (in America) belong to. In this survey, the 'none's, came up at 16.1%. How many answered that they were Christian? 78.4% A further 4.7% followed some variety of religion other than Christianity. That 78.4% answered that they consider themselves Christian. This means that they feel that they believe in Christ and try to live by Christian ideals. So when Graham makes his statement that the reason we see so much crime is because these people believe in, but don't follow God (a god), he is making nothing more than a baseless claim that can't be supported by any actual evidence.

But what if he was acknowledging that the majority consider themselves Christian, but just aren't living up to the term? Well, then he is guilty of the 'No true Scotsman fallacy'.  If that's the case, what he's actually saying is, 'They may be calling themselves Christians, but they're no real Christians.' But the problem is, that this isn't an honest statement. It's an attempt to define Christianity in a way that only your version is the correct version. Remember, there are many, many different sects of Christianity. They all differ from one another on something and claim to be the most accurate representation of their god's word. One church may not hate gays, and another would say that this proves that they're not 'real' Christians. The first church would say that the second church aren't 'real' Christians because they do denounce homosexuality. The list on issues (both scriptural and political) that divide Christianity into it's various sects is quite a long one. But does this mean that most of these groups aren't deserving of the title of 'Christian'?

Actually, no. To be a Christian, you need to believe in Christ, and accept him as your lord and savior. When you get down to the base of it, that's the central requirement. So one church can't accurately say that another isn't a 'real' Christian. Furthermore, most Christians will tell you that Christianity doesn't ask for it's followers to be perfect, but instead seek forgiveness in Christ. We can easily see that perfection isn't a priority by the fact that the vast majority of prison inmates are Christians. Personally,  I feel that this focus on redemption following belief can actually lead to crime rather than deter it. What of a believer that kills an abortion doctor in the belief that they are doing God's will. What of tribes in Africa that to this day, still burn women alive for being suspected of witchcraft, and justify it with the Bible? What of priests that rape alter-boys? Are you claiming that priests aren't true believers and followers. What of the scores that God killed in the Bible? Does Graham think that God doesn't really believe in of follow himself? What about the fact that the most religious states tend to have the highest crime rates, while the least religious have lower rates?

More common though, is the everyday crime that belief may make easier. And the Cristian concept of redemption and forgiveness is central to this. For us atheists, the law is the top authority that one has to worry about. We only have this life, and being a criminal and wasting that life in jail magnifies the loss all the more. That said, the majority of atheists don't stay on the right side of the law because of fear of being caught, but rather don't have the urge to commit the crime to begin with. It's morality, but some belief, that keeps me good.

But for the believer, the law is not the top priority, and they think they will get another, better life anyway. Forgiveness is a real problem. Christianity teaches that everything (except blasphemy) is forgivable to the believer. This means that a believer can commit a crime, fully knowing it to be wrong and illegal, but feel that their belief in Christ will allow them to be forgiven  and be rewarded with everlasting life. Claiming short-term physical gain, but also laying claim to eternal reward. So the belief/crime problem isn't really a problem of people not really believing in and following God. The problem is that they do, and are taking advantage of the proverbial 'get out of jail free' card that the Bible offers up. Instead of blaming those that don't believe and follow for the ills of the world, I suggest Graham first take a long look in the mirror.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Ain't afraid of no ghosts

My wife sometimes likes to watch those ghost hunter shows on TV... and I enjoy mocking them. I'm sorry, but I hate the way these shows claim to approach these 'haunted' sites scientifically... or so they claim. The problem is, that these shows often approach their investigations with the initial assumption that there are ghosts and that they are haunted. A scientific approach would as the question of IF these houses are haunted. Not simply assume they are haunted, and seek to find evidence that they are. But that isn't the part that I openly mock. Rather, it's the so-called 'proofs' that they tend to offer.

One common claim is that cold spots are a proven sign of a haunting. Wait a minute... How can one claim that something is a well known proof of a ghost when ghosts have never even been proven to exist? If they are looking in a thermal camera and find an area that is colder, you haven't proven there is a ghost. All you've proved is that that area is reading colder than the surrounding areas. Something that's not hard to understand when you consider that most of these 'investigations' take place to old or run down buildings.

To confuse things further, these shows will turn around and claim that a warm spot is also proof of ghost activity. Wait, wait, wait... So cold and hot are proof of ghosts? What is this, the ghost of IcyHot? Sorry, but an anomaly is nothing more than an anomaly, but proof of a ghost. But are they really even anomalies? In most cases, the hot patches they cite are actually heat shadows/reflections from the very person filming. Furthermore, if you actually look at the temperature scale on the camera, the image that looks to have dramatic temperature differences are actually no more than a few degrees. No proof of ghosts there!

Another favorite is the EMF (electromagnetic field) detector. Again, the claim is that EMF readings are known proof of ghosts. Again, how can they claim that something is known proof of ghosts when ghosts themselves remain unproven? Furthermore, why should getting an EMF reading be surprising? Power lines, cell phones, electronics, animals, people and just about everything produces EMF's to varying degrees. This includes the cameras they are filming with.

Probably the staple to the ghost hunter crowd would be the EVP, or electronic voice phenomenon. What the ghost hunters will often do is ask questions to an empty room while running a tape recorder. In theory, they will hear a reply to their questions on playback. But this proposal forces me to wonder if they know how an audio recorder works. In short, sound waves are picked up by the recorder and then are either digitally recorded or recorded on a cassette tape. By the nature of these devices what is recorded is sounds that should have been audible to those in the room. No sounds magically appearing on the recording, just what is 'heard' by the recorders 'ear' being preserved.

So it should be no surprise that when they play back what they've recorded, all that is present is meaningless static. But then a curious thing happens. They play the static that sounds nothing like human speech and claim that it clearly say 'help me', 'get out' or any number of different things. I
listen again, and it still sounds like meaningless static to me. So why is it that these people swear that they can clearly hear these voices? It's a version of the pareidolia effect. This is a phenomenon where the mind processes random patterns and thinks it sees something familiar. This is what happens when someone thinks they see Jesus is a slice of toast, or a ghostly face in a low quality, highly pixilated image.

This ability and the human mind to take random input and translate it into something recognizable had evolutionary value. When our ancestors were living in the wild and had to worry about predators, it was of value to have that ability. Better to think you see a face and flee, than not and become lunch. The same thing happens with the EVP recordings. But it is also aided by the fact that these people expect to hear something. Couple the expectation of hearing something with the ability to make something out of nothing, and people claiming to have meaningful EVP's is easy to understand.

Orbs of light are also sometimes said to be ghosts caught on camera. But they are often either flying insects or simple dust. Laughably, there was a show where they only say these orbs on only one of the several cameras in this office building. They showed the various cameras, and claimed that there was no explanation since all the cameras and offices were the same and cleaned the same. But there was one very important detail that was left out... The camera in question was the only one mounted next to an air vent. Dust strikes again!

Sometimes the 'investigators' will claim to feel like they were touched by a spirit. But wait a minute... Ghosts are supposed to be non-physical entities. How exactly does a non-physical being engage in physical interaction? If you ask me, when one of these 'investigators' claims to have been tripped and stumbled because of a ghost, I'm more apt to believe that they're being haunted by the ghost of Captain Morgan.

Finally, what's with ghost shows always being filmed at night and in the dark? Could it be because it just looks spooky? Maybe it's because the low light conditions make it much more likely that you'll 'see' things that aren't really there. What's better for ratings than letting people eyes and imaginations play tricks on them? These shows always feel scripted and assume that the viewer will mistake fancy words for something of actual scientific worth. As you can see, these shows are void of any real substance and just hope to reinforce the beliefs of those that tune in every week. And that's something that's rather sad actually.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kirk Cameron: Lier or just oblivious?

The well known Christian actor has me questioning his honesty. No, I'm not talking about to controversy he brewed up when he claimed that facebook was censoring links to the site of his new movie amidst claims that his Christian message was being blocked... Seriously? How can anyone seriously claim that facebook is out to get Christian posts, links and, images? I know that religious postings on my feed are a common occurrence.

 Since he made his accusations toward facebook, the latter has stated that his site's URL was on their block list because it was once a spam site. Cameron had recently purchased the URL and converted it to the site for his film. The URL came up on facebook's filter and was temporarily blocked until they could verify the link. So while Cameron didn't fabricate the drama, he's sure dragging it on. In a new promo video for his movie, he refers to his video being banned on facebook and youtube even though he was now aware that no one was censoring him. He owes these sites an apology, but he instead plays the victim. I feel that speaks poorly of his character.

But that's not the subject of this blog. In that same video, he claims that he is a 'recovering atheist', and that there are two things that an atheist has to believe by faith in order to be an atheist. I've often doubted truth of his claims of formally being an atheist, but before you accuse me of he 'No true Scotsman fallacy', allow me to explain...

The first thing that he claims that atheists have to believe is that 'there is no God'. Hate to break it to you Kirk, but atheism requires no such thing. Atheism requires that you not believe in any gods, not the statement of certainty that they no not exist. Maybe that's a subtle difference to you, but it's a very important one. He is claiming that we are claiming a stance of certainty, but the truth is that the only ones claiming to absolutely know are the believers. While they aren't open-minded, we are. All we want is proof that there is a God. Provide that, and we'll no longer be atheist's. If you ask me, we're the ones that are being humble and honest. But the end truth is, that Cameron's claim about this atheist requirement is 100% wrong.

The second claim he makes is that in order to be an atheist, you have to 'hate God'... Wait, what? Kirk, has ofter said that when he was an atheist he hated God. Well Kirk, I've got news for you. You were never an atheist! In order to hate God, you have to believe in God. If you believe in God, you are a theist, not and atheist. Perhaps he was at a crossroads where he had questions with his faith, but he was never an atheist. I find it had to believe that someone that speaks out about atheists as often as he does is so oblivious to the facts. But he and his buddy Ray Comfort do seem to have a thing for perpetuating known false stereotypes and claims to push their agendas.

So in conclusion, Cameron is claiming that in order to be an atheist, you have to not be an atheist... To be honest, that makes as much sense as his usual arguments.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How many stooges does it take to change a lightbulb?

Recently, I bumped into a fellow that loves to make any topic political. We were talking about what our weekends held, and I mentioned I had to go get some new light bulbs to replace some that burn ed out, and the various other projects and plans I had in store on my two days off. That opened the floodgates for a rant on why he hates CFL's (compact florescent lamps) and how he's stockpiled 35 cases of incandescent bulbs. It amazed me how many of the false rumors he had bought into. So lets take a look...

They have mercury in them so they're bad for the environment.

It is true that CFL's contain mercury. However, one of the byproducts that power-plants make is mercury as well. Since the CFL's use less energy, the power-plant has to make less power. The CFL actually contains less mercury than the power-plant would have made if it was powering an incandescent bulb instead.

CFL's lead to extra mercury in landfills.

If you throw them in the trash, sure. But you're not supposed bin them, or many other things that most people do (like batteries). But places like Hope Depot and Lowe's take them for free and recycle them properly. I just dropped a could off on my way home from work the other day. Took me no more than 5 minutes out of my way. So I can't see that as such a deterrent of problem.

You have to call HazMat if you break one.

Um, no you don't. Sure, you want to avoid breathing in the dust, but it's not remotely as bad as most make it sound. At least for me, breaking any bulbs is an exceedingly rare occurrence. But if you do break a CFL and have to clean it up, you'll be fine.

I don't like the light color.

True, most CFL's are a brighter and whiter light. Most people are used to the warm yellow glow of conventional bulbs. But all aren't bright white. We have some in our basement that look just like incandescent light. They were there when we bought our house, so I don't know much about them, but the light is noticeably different from most CFL's. Personally, the white light doesn't bother me, but a simple look at the shelf will show that they are sold with different Lumen values. That number will tell you how bright the light is. If you want a duller light with a yellow cast like the traditional bulbs your used to, you can get them easily.

They don't come on right away/get brighter the longer they're on.

This is true of CFL's when they first came out. But most no longer suffer from these problems. If you are having this problem, you either have old bulbs or exceedingly cheap ones.

They cost more than incandescent.

Yes, the bulbs cost more (but they are much more affordable now) but that difference is easily made up by the power savings and the longer bulb life.

They break more often.

All I can say is that I've personally only seen CFL's last longer, not shorter service periods. I've had some very cheap ones go out, but they certainly lasted much longer than the cheapest incandescent bulbs I've had in the past.

I don't like the 'pig tail' look.

If you don't like the 'pig tail' look, they do make ones with a false bulb covering so that they look like an incandescent bulb. Personally I wish we could get the European 'U' shaped ones as well, but since they aren't readily found, most CFL's in my house are the ones that look just like a regular bulb. They cost about the same, and are easy to find.

 The percentage of US power usage from light bulbs is a small percentage of the total US power usage.

Admittedly, I haven't bothered to look that stat up because it's completely unimportant. The simple truth is that we use a LOT of electricity. Even a small slice of the pie is a huge chunk of energy. If one person has $5 million and another has $95 million, would you say that Mr. $5 million is poor? Of course not! We know that CFL's use less energy and that assuming usage rates remaining the same, you will see savings on your bill (possibly not much, but a savings none-the-less). So collectively, CFL usage adds up to significant energy savings over the bulb's lifetime.

All that said, I no longer buy CFL's. Why's that? Because LED bulbs are no longer prohibitively expensive for the average buyer. I am slowly but surely converting all the lighting in my house to LED's. Each time a bulb burns out, I pick up an LED bulb to replace it. They have amazing durability, produce nice light, look fine, and use so little electricity. In my opinion, if you can afford $10 a bulb, they are nothing but win. Sure they still cost more, but my electric bill tells me that they're already begining to pay for themselves.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 22, 2013

As Jesus said about abortion...


Oh that's right, he never said anything about it in the Bible. But you would never guess that by the ugly deceptive signs that these hateful people display every year. I wrote about this last year, but today was the annual display of graphic imagery that this local Christian pro-life group seems to love so much. As you can read in the linked story from last year, their images are lies designed to deceive  and mislead. They aren't representative of most abortions, and the worst of the images are presented as representative of all abortions, when they actually illustrate those that are already illegal.

Last year, these 'geniuses' focused on a side statement of opposition of the birth control pill. I also wrote last year about how nonsensical this is, even from their point of view. This year, they went with a large painting of Jesus with the caption, 'abortion kills his children'. Since they are taking the religious route, what does the Bible actually have to say specifically about abortion?
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life

-Exodus 21:22-23
So if a man causes a woman the lose the child she is pregnant with, he will be punished as the woman's husband deems necessary, and pays a fine. UNLESS, he gets the woman pregnant to 'replace' the baby that was lost. What?! Does the woman have a say in any of this? Would you really want to have sex with your attacker as a 'penalty' for him? And if he is sleeping with a married woman, doesn't that constitute adultery (a crime the Bible punishes with death)?
And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.

-Leviticus 27:6

Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD.

-Numbers 3:15-16
 Oh, is your child less than a  month old? I would think it's probably cute and the most precious thing to you at the moment. But the Bible seems to say that they don't count until they are a month old.
Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

-Hosea 9:14

Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.

-Hosea 9:16

Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

-Hosea 13:16
Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.

-Genesis 38:24
 Yup, God hates abortion so much that he demands that pregnant women (of another tribe) be torn open, and that their children be dashed against rocks... I don't know about you, but that sounds even more violent and graphic than any of the imagery that this disgusting group brandishes. Oh yeah, and burning pregnant women to death shows SO much concern for the child...

I really wish these people would stop showing their signs, and actually attempt to educate themselves on this topic that they are so vehemently opposed. I have some reservations about abortion as well, but also realize there is a very legitimate need for it. I discussed that last year, and will state again that there are cases where I'm against, and many others where I see no issue with the option being available. The sad truth is that if these close-minded people stopped focusing on their distorted caricature of abortion, they might learn something and there could be a real conversation. I'm sure they'd be surprised that People that are pro-choice like myself, are nothing like they make us to be, and probably have more in common than they would ever fathom.

-Brain Hulk

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Loving to disagree

Billy Graham is back with another poor answer to a reader's question. Mrs. CP writes in concerned with the members of her new church bickering...
Pray for parishioners to stop bickering

Q: Aren't Christians supposed to love each other? We joined a church after moving to a new city, and all the people seem to do is bicker (often about the smallest things). I'm a newcomer to the Christian faith, but I'm getting discouraged. - Mrs. C.P.

A: You're right; Christians certainly are supposed to love others, especially their fellow believers. Jesus' words couldn't be clearer: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

When we don't love, however, it's because we haven't allowed Christ to take control of our lives and fill us with His Spirit. I often think in this connection of the Christians in the ancient city of Corinth. Most of them came out of a pagan background, and it was hard for them to understand what it meant to follow Jesus in their daily lives. Paul, in fact, had to rebuke them because they weren't getting along.

But Paul didn't give up on them -- and neither did Christ. Instead of condemning them or turning his back on them, Paul urged them to look at Christ and seek to be more like Him -- and in time, they did. Perhaps God has placed you in this church to be an example to others of Christ's love and mercy.

Pray for those in your church who can't seem to get along -- and pray especially for your pastor. Pray not only that they'll stop bickering, but that they'll commit their lives more fully to Jesus and allow His love to fill their hearts. Almost nothing pleases Satan more than for Christians to squabble among themselves, because it makes unbelievers laugh at the Gospel and assume Christians must be phonies. But it doesn't need to be that way -- and it won't be, when God's people humble themselves and seek to do His will.
As usual, Graham is cherry picking a verse that is in favor of the position he wishes to take. While Graham does quote a verse from Jesus preaching love, is that what he was all about? Or are there contrary verses as well? And is he aware that the love expressed in old tribal traditions are typically only extended to those within the tribe/belief, and not to everyone? First off, the picture of a Jesus that is all about love is a nice one, but it's just not accurate.
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

-Matthew 10:34-37
Wow! So Jesus didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. And as if requiring you to love him more than your own family isn't arrogant enough, he wishes to drive a wedge between you are your family. Here's a tip Jesus, as ugly as it is to demand to be loved most, people can still do that and love their family as well. But for some reason, this isn't good enough for him. I don't see how striving to drive apart families shows Jesus as someone who just wants everyone to get along.
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

-Mathew 19:29
 Have we a special offer for you!  Give up your possessions and even your own family and win fantastic prizes! Again, how is casting away your family equal to loving all?
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
-Mark 10:28-30
 Pretty much the same of the above. Give up your family and be rewarded.
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.  And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

-Luke 9:59-62 
 So tell me... If Jesus asks one not to even honor their  dead father, how then can you argue Jesus is claiming everyone should get along with an respect everyone? Then he tells this person not to even let anyone know he is leaving. If respecting and getting along is the goal, isn't telling people who care for you and depend on you that you are leaving the thing to do?
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
-Luke 12:51-53
Just like the earlier verse, Jesus is telling that he shall drive families apart. Where is the loving all in destroying families?
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
-Luke 14:26
 At face value this is a horribly ugly verse. Hate your mother and father? Your wife, children, etc? How can a verse asking for hate be one of love? Now, there have been those that say it has been mistranslated, and should say 'love less' rather than 'hate'. But even then, if that is true, it's still not a verse of love and acceptance. Asking someone to love someone less is in so way supportive of Jesus saying that all should get along.

The selected quotes are reiterated elsewhere in the 'Good Book', and makes me question how it ever earned that name. I also find it funny when Graham brings up Paul accepting pagans in Corinth. Odd since Christianity is largely built upon stolen pagan beliefs and traditions. Furthermore, was Christianity being loving and accepting when St. Patrick and his followers drove the pagans (Druids) out of Ireland by way of murder? Lets be honest, it isn't acceptance that is the interest here, but conversion. Sometimes the strategy is to act nice to try and win a convert (more common today), and other times (like in Ireland) the offer was 'convert or die'.

Furthermore, following the Bible is not an example of loving one at all for many. There are those that hate homosexuals because of the Bible. There are those that cite the Bible when they treat women as second class. Often, belief leads to division with those that believe differently. Different sects of Christianity often cast a wary and judgmental eye at different sects of Christianity. Likewise, many a Christian will form an instant negative judgement on someone who is a Muslim, Sheik, or non-believer.

That is not bringing people together with love, but division fueled by religious beliefs. Sure, all believers don't fall in that camp, but only through such steadfast beliefs is such even possible. Is it really any surprise at all that beliefs that state that only those that believe as you do will be rewarded, while all others are fully deserving of eternal torment, can drive such disdain? If we really want to get along, lets forget what all the holy books say, and what people believe. Only by judging people by their individual worth, will we ever find meaningful camaraderie and acceptance.

-Brain Hulk

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Significant Quantity of Disrespect

I ran across a hilarious gem on the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal website today. Phil Plait and Zach Weinersmith have just released a fantastic book entitled "27 Nerd Disses, A significant Quantity of Disrespect."

This is a book of nerdy inserts that (if you're anything like me), those that you may trade words with will probably need an explanation in order to understand them. They are selling the pdf download for whatever price you name over $1. I just picked it up, and let me tell you that it's more than worth several times the minimum asking price.

I'll probably never find myself needing to use these insults, but even so, it was a laugh out loud read. Get your copy at You won't be disappointed!

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Pascals Wager... a safe bet?

As a non-believer, I have heard this apologetic argument many a time. Surprisingly, each time I hear it the presenter acts as if they are presenting brand new information. Not even close... In fact they are presenting an argument that is tired and thoroughly debunked. But if there are any new heathens among us today, you may be asking what the hell is Pascal's Wager?

Pascal's Wager is an apologetic argument proposed by the French philosopher/mathematician/physicist Blaise Pascal. His argument was specifically meant to be in favor of belief in the Christian god. It has been phrased several ways through the years, but here's the argument...
1) If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in Heaven. So you have everything to gain.
2) If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to eternity in Hell. So you have everything to lose.
3) If you believe in God and God does not exist, you lose nothing.
4) If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you have lived your own life. So you received only a slight gain.
It's a 50/50 choice with everything in play. Therefore the Smart bet is on belief in God, over disbelief.
As I said, there are many problems with this argument. The first is the assumption that it's a 50/50 choice where the only outcomes are that the Christian god is real, or there are no gods. But those aren't anywhere close to the only possibilities. Through the centuries, there have been thousands of gods worshiped. Yet Pascal simply ignores them from the equation. But the statistical chance of being correct is central to his wager. He wants it to be a 50% chance so that it sounds like the odds favor Christianity. This is simply dishonest and incorrect. The exact number of deities throughout history is not perfectly known. But including them would give Pascal something like a 1/3,000 chance of being correct , rather than the much more favorable 1/2.

Remember, what he is essentially asking us is, 'What if you're wrong?'. Well, perhaps we should also ask the believer this same question. Say you live your life believing in Christianity. But you find out that after your death that you are greeted by Odin. You disbelieved, so you are now cast into Helheim. What if Zeus is the true god? Perhaps Pascal then needs to consider life in Tartarus. The same goes for the thousands of other possible gods. So the claim that one has nothing to lose if they believe in Christianity and are wrong is flat false.  If another faith is true, they face a fate just as serious as the one they threaten me with.

But lets ignore that first glaring problem with Pascal's Wager and examine it as if it really was a 50/50 choice, and Christianity was the only option on the table. Even then, there are many issues that make Pascal's Wager a poor one.
Let's start with the fact that you can't simply choose belief. It seems that Pascal is suggesting that if you don't believe, you should feign belief. But isn't the Christian god supposed to be all-knowing? If that's the case, he would know that you don't believe. If that is the case, would you still be rewarded? Or is Pascal actually proposing a God that is satisfied with people just faking it? If that is the case, why bother with Christianity at all until the very end and claim that, 'Oh yeah, I totally believe. High-five, Jesus!'

Then there are issues of what you gain or lose depending on if you are right or wrong. It is claimed that the believer loses nothing if they are wrong. But is this really the case? I feel that there are many things belief can steal from you.

•You lose financially if you give money to your church.

•You lose time you could have enjoyed elsewhere rather than going to church.

•You can miss out the wonderment that comes with scientific understanding if you belong to a Biblically literal sect.

•You can lose potential friendships if your sect doesn't take kindly to outsiders.
•If your religion tells you that homosexuality is a sin, you may turn your back on your own child if they come out as gay. The loss will be any relationship you ever could have had with them, and possibly your child's respect and the respect of others. 

•If your brand of Christianity forbids sex before marriage there may be many issues if you follow that command. What if this restriction causes you to lose a relationship? What  that person was the person you could have loved above all others, but your faith never allowed the relationship to blossom? You could lose a lifetime of happiness. What if you observe the prohibition and get married only to find that you aren't 'compatible' in bed? You could lose out on ever having a fulfilling sexual experience, or lead you to divorce. 

•What if your belief tells you abortion is always wrong, and you are faced with your wife having terrible complications that will surly kill her and/or the child about to be born? You could forever lose the love of your life by way of a choice you had to make. I can't even begin to imagine the guilt of your wife's death being the result of your own decision to not terminate the pregnancy.
•What if you're so devout that you pray for those you love to get better, rather than taking them to seek medical care? Your loss could be watching your son or daughter slowly die before your very eyes while you did nothing.

•What if you're a Jehovah's Witness and need a blood transfusion to survive. Your refusal would mean the loss of your very own life.

•Lastly, belief can have a small, but cumulative effect on how someone lives their life. This effect can mean that you lose out on living the life you could have lived if you weren't predisposed with worrying about the 'next life'. If we really only do have this one life, as I believe, isn't a life half-lived really a tragedy in and of itself? I feel that a compromised life is quite a dramatic loss indeed.

But what about the claim that if I'm correct, and there is no God, that I only net a slight gain? I'd say that the gain is much more than slight. Because I'm not satisfied with simply settling for religious explanations, I have instead decided to learn as much as I can about the world. I've learned about the sciences, history, cultures, etc. My seeking of knowledge has taught me much about the world, as well as myself. These learnings and experiences are something that are invaluable to me. 

And not only does atheism allow me to live my own life, but it makes me extraordinarily appreciative of life as well. This is the only life I will ever get, and I'm amazingly lucky to evan get this one. So I should live it to it's fullest, and appreciate this short yet beautiful gift even more. I am also brought wonderment when I realize the natural forces at play when I look at nature. And am filled with amazement when I look toward the stars. Those delicate forces at play, gave us everything, yet it didn't have to turn out as it did.  So I'd say that in the light of that knowledge, life feels even bigger and more special to me. I feel like that is a massive gain in my favor, should I be proven right.

So, you can see that Pascal's Wager fails on many fronts. Sadly, this argument continues to rear it's ugly head, get reworded and passed of as something brand new all over again. I can only hope that reason will eventually prevail and this sad argument can be discarded for good.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Hell of a product!

Just a little good-natured fun today.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Corrupt and without conscience

In my Sunday paper this week, someone wrote Billy Graham with a serious question. One that wasn't religious and was probably better directed to another party. While part of Graham's reply is good, the irony of the religious implications he also includes are obviously lost to him...
Those without a conscience victimize the helpless

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: We’ve just discovered that my mother (who is in her late 80s) has been the victim of a scam that’s taken almost all her money. We’ve alerted the police, but why would anyone be mean enough to hurt someone like this? — A.J.
DEAR A.J.: All crime is evil — but surely crimes against those who are helpless and vulnerable are among the worst. Only someone with no conscience could commit something like your mother experienced. The Bible labels as evil all those “who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. … They are experts in greed — an accursed brood!” (2 Peter 2:10,14).

You’ve done the right thing by reporting this to the police. Even if they aren’t successful in recovering what these scam artists stole, your report will help them be on the lookout for similar crimes in your area. They also can notify agencies in your community that have contact with elderly people. They in turn can alert the media, encouraging people to be on guard against scam artists. Remember the old saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In addition, if your mother is no longer able to take care of her finances, you will need to step in and help her. (An attorney specializing in elder law can assist you.) She may be reluctant at first — but this situation indicates you may need to be more active in her affairs. The Bible says, “Defend the cause of the weak” (Psalm 82:3).
Urge your mother to be more cautious in the future. Don’t condemn her, however, for what happened or keep bringing it up. Instead, pray for her and let her know you love her. Most of all, remind her of God’s love for her, and of the hope we have of eternal life because of Christ. 
 While Billy is correct in commending AJ reporting this happening to the authorities, and suggesting they become more involved in their mother's finances, there is a problem with his quoting of Peter. This quote is of course referring to those despising God's authority. But is that really an accurate statement?

Let's move first to the Catholic sex abuse scandal. Personally, I would class the little boys that were victimized by these priests as helpless and vulnerable. In Graham's own words 'these crimes are among the worst, and those committing them are without conscience'. So far I'd agree with him. But then he claims that these very same people 'despise God's authority' when he references Peter. Sorry, but selling God's authority is pretty much these people's job. In fact, it was their trust and faithfulness in God and his authority that actually made many think they wouldn't be punished.

But then the sex scandal didn't just stop at the priests no did it? The previous Pope tried to sweep it all under the rug in hopes that this dark secret would never get out. And when it did get out, what did he do? He wanted to let the law allow the church to handle the problem internally. Their solution, simply move known offenders to a different parish with no concern for if they'd offend again. In short, the Pope protected and defended child rapists! I'd say that counts as someone without conscience. But I certainly can't class him as one who despises authority.

As the Pope, he lives, breaths and shits authority. Catholics the world over look to him, and followed his every word. Furthermore, as the Pope he's supposed to have God on speed-dial, not to mention being directly chosen by God. Are you seriously suggesting that the man hand-picked by God to lead over a billion Catholics, become a head of state and live in a gold encrusted palace with all the servants one could ever want somehow hates God?

What about Kent Hovind? The very well known evangelist that is currently serving time for tax evasion. While the victim this time was the federal government, like AJ's question, it was a financial crime. He purposely tried to avoid paying the taxes he was due to pay. He tried to scam the
government, just as AJ's mother was scammed. But does he hate God's authority? Hardly! He got rich off of preaching God's authority and the truth of the Bible.

And what of the ultimate con? If there be a God, and he is as the Bible states, he'd surely fit the bill! First he creates people that he knows do not poses the knowledge of good and evil. Then he gives them an order that requires the knowledge of good and evil. Then when they inevitably break that one rule (which ironically gives them knowledge of good and evil), God decides to curse them and everyone who follows for all eternity. Being the all powerful creator of everything, he could be whatever he wanted. He could have just punished Adam and Eve, he could have just forgiven them (since it was all his fault after-all), but instead he decides to curse every single person until the end of time.

Oh, but then he gives you a way out! Oh, but it's nowhere near free... No, he decides to send himself to Earth as his own son so that he can be tortured and sacrificed to himself, so he can forgive the sin he cursed everyone with in the first place. No, wait... You also have to accept this sacrifice and worship him eternally in Heaven once you've passed. Hardly a good system. Why even require a sacrifice in order to forgive something he put in place in the first place? Surely, if he wants to forgive he can just, well... forgive.

But lets look at this a moment. First he convinces you that there is this sickness within you (original sin) that you were unaware of prior. Then he just so happens to be the only one offering a cure. But this cure surely comes with a cost. When someone is selling both the problem and the solution in the real world, we're often justified in assuming them to be con-men. AJ's mother may have been convinced by this person that there was this special insurance that she needs to protect her assets for her and her family. But none of the big companies will offer it because they are just out to make money. Luckily he just so happens to be the only one with the answer she needs. Just like God with
sin and salvation. An imagined cure for an imagined ailment.

I would agree with Graham's criteria that this would class God as a being void of conscience. Just read the Old Testament if you still have any doubts as to his morality or lack thereof. Despises authority? According to Christianity, he is the ultimate authority. So unless God has some some serious self esteem problems and despises himself, your argument fails there. Then again, the all powerful creator of the universe does have the odd traits of demanding worship and punishing those don't. So either he sounds more vainly arrogant, then someone desperate for affection.

-Brain Hulk

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Why becone an atheist?

Sorry I didn't get this up Friday, but my internet connection didn't want to allow me to upload this video to youtube until now... Youtube? Video? Yup, we're doing something a little different this time. A user on youtube posed the question 'Why should I become an atheist?' The following video is my reply. But if you find voice lulling you into a bored sleep or find my wife playing Nintendo in the background too distracting (It's okay, she did make the video for me), I will be including the text transcript below. Enjoy!

There is a user on youtube that goes by the handle of Mattew4Nineteen. He has posted a video question entitled ‘Why should I become an Atheist?’  The base of his question is why he as a Christian should become an atheist. What is in it for him if he gives up his Christian faith and becomes an atheist? He lists tings he loves about being a Christian and wants to know what is so great about being atheist, but also asks for replies to not bash religion.

First off, the question he is asking is ill formed. One simply doesn’t decide to become an atheist. Atheism is the lack of a belief in the existence of gods. If you don’t believe in gods, you are an atheist. If you do, you are a theist. So you really can’t just decide to be an atheist. To become an atheist, you would first have to stop believing in the gods that you currently do, not just a simple rejection of their authority. If you were to decide to stop worshipping the Christian god, but still believed in him, you would still not be an atheist. 

For you to make that step, you would need to not only stop worshipping, but stop believing that the Christian god (and all other gods) exists. But since you are not open to hearing arguments against your religion, that is not a step you will be able to take. Perhaps you simply have a misunderstanding of atheism, or this question was initially formed as it was to keep you from getting compelling answers. But unless you are convinced that there are no gods, there is no simple choice of becoming an atheist. And if addressing the weaknesses of religions and god claims is off the table, there really is no convincing you or anyone why they should become an atheist since it’s just not that kind of choice.

The second part makes me think that your original question was formed as it was because of a base misunderstanding of what atheism is. You mention what you love about being Christian and what you’d have to give up if you were no longer a Christian. Then you basically asked what atheism offered in replacement of these things. The problem is, atheism isn’t another religion. There is no atheist church, or membership rewards packet. This isn’t some club that offers you prizes and rewards just for being a member.  It is the holding of one position on the existence of gods. Nothing more, nothing less.

But you do mention specific things that you love about your current faith. You love your church, you love the fellowship, you love Jesus, etc. You also say that you would have to set aside everything you love and hold dear. That part is simply untrue. Unless you a pastor that lives and breathes Christianity 24/7, chances are you would have to give up very little. The only changes that would be needed are the things that are inherently Christian. You love your church? Okay, there are replacements for that. You could go to meet ups of people who have similar likes as you. Maybe that’s a bowling team, book club, or a motorcycle or classic car club. Maybe your thing is watching or playing football, or collecting vintage vinyl. Whatever your interests are, there may be local meet ups or clubs that get together every couple weeks or once a month. This could easily be a replacement for church and fellowship as well. Like-minded people that share an interest getting together and having an enjoyable time. Not religious, and sounds like it ticks the social boxes you desire.

You also mention that you love Jesus. Well, believe it or not, atheism doesn’t dictate that you discard Jesus.  Just as some Jews like Jesus, you can also be an atheist and like Jesus. How, you ask? Remember, atheism is the lack of a belief in gods. So you can still believe in a human Jesus. Not divine, not God/son of God, didn’t die and return from the dead… just human like you and I. But if it’s his teachings you like, you can still like him and his morals as a human teacher, rather than as a supernatural being... Just like Thomas Jefferson did. Personally, I feel like it’s possible that the character of Jesus was an actual person, or based on someone who existed. But as a regular person, and not as a supernatural being. And while I don’t care for Jesus’ teachings as a whole, there’s nothing stopping an atheist from being fond of a human Jesus, or Gandhi, etc.

Your misunderstanding of atheism continues when you mention the ‘sex, drugs, rock & roll lifestyle’. Atheists are often hit with the assumption that we’re wild, do anything party animals. But that isn’t actually the case. Truthfully, there is no ‘atheist lifestyle’ whatsoever. The life of one atheist may be very different than the life of the next atheist. Just as two Christians may lead very different lives. For example…  I’ve never done drugs, don’t really like to drink, don’t smoke, party’s aren’t my thing, and I live a quiet unassuming yet happy and fulfilling life. I actually can’t say that I personally know any atheists that are loud, foul party animals that are ready to drink up a storm, and have a one-night-stand. Yet, I know Christians that fit that description perfectly. Now I don’t say that to claim that this is the standard Christian lifestyle, but to point out that the lifestyles of members of any group may vary greatly.

Now that all of that is out of the way, what do I think are the positives I gain from being an atheist. For one, the truth. The world may not always be a fair place, but it is a beautifully amazing one. To me, a created Earth isn’t as special as the natural one on which we reside. Instead of a world created at the whim of a deity, we see a world that didn’t have to exist as it is, or even at all. But by the laws of nature and beating the odds, our beautiful globe was eventually born. Then life took root and evolved over great expanses of time to get to us. We didn’t have to exist, and if evolution had gone down a different path, we wouldn’t. Yet here we are! Living the gift of life! I feel that this realization makes me appreciate everything more than if it were to usual work of a creator, or if it were created expressly for us. 

The same sentiment also applies to the universe as a whole. When I was a believer, I would look at the stars and would just think they looked pretty. But now I am overwhelmed with amazement by the cosmos. Those pretty stars are other suns. Each potentially harboring planets. Some of those stars are actually not stars but another galaxy.  The greatness of the distance is so expansive that some of what we see in the night sky no longer exists. The light has taken so long to reach us that we are literally looking at a picture of the past. Distances so great that we can only dream of wrapping our heads around them. Yet somehow, here we are beginning to understand and explore the vastness of space! 

So when I look at the universe, Earth, life, and even myself, I see something amazing and gratifying. I see intriguing complexity, but I also see something that didn’t have to be. Yet here it is. Instead of a necessitated creation, I (and everything I see) could have been different or not been at all. When that thought occurs to me, I can’t help but smile and feel full of appreciation and amazement. To me, that’s a very special ‘perk’ of abandoning religious thinking.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Angel or Monster?

In today's paper, Billy Graham is posed with another seriously pressing question that could change the very direction of human history... What do angels look like? 
 Angels should remind us of God's love 

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: What do angels look like? My aunt likes to collect figures of angels (she has dozens of them around her house), but how do we know if angels actually look like them? — Mrs. R.E. 

DEAR R.E.: The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what angels look like; in fact, they often are invisible to us, because they are spiritual beings who seldom take on any physical appearance. 

At times, however, they do become visible. When the prophet Isaiah was given a vision of God’s majesty and glory, his throne was surrounded by angels. They were similar in appearance to humans, with faces and feet, but they also had wings and could fly (see Isaiah 6:1-3). When the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, the Bible says that “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9). On the other hand, angels sometimes took the appearance of ordinary men, and were only recognized as angels later (see, for example, Genesis 19). 

 God created the angels before the beginning of time, and they had one purpose: to be God’s servants. Today, angels watch continually over God’s people, to deliver them from evil and safeguard their entrance into heaven. We may not even think about them very much or realize their importance, but they still watch over us — and we should thank God for them. The Bible says, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). 

The angels’ work on our behalf should remind us of God’s love for us. At the same time, we are not to worship the angels or give undue attention to them. Christ alone is our savior, and he alone is the one to whom we should look for our salvation. Have you put your faith and trust in him? 
Angel statues?! Whatever you do, don't blink! Now that I have my obligatory Doctor Who joke out of the way, lets' get on to business...

First off, I must take issue with the title of this story. Angels should remind us of God's love? Really? When do we see angels in the Bible? We see angels when God is ready to lay waste to Sodom and Gomorrah. Revelations also speaks of an arm on angels coming at the 'end times'. So while angels do 'bless' and warn people in the Bible, they are also harbingers of destruction. So if you see an angel, I feel that your thought shouldn't be 'Aw, how magnificent!' but rather 'Oh shit! What's about to go down?'.

But back to the question that was asked... Billy, could you at least to answer the question honestly? You reference Isaiah 6:1-3 as an example of angels looking like people but with wings. The problem is that you are making quite the stretch with the claim that they 'look like people'.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
-Isaiah 6: 1-3
 Okay, they have a face, feet and six wings. Every angel painting I see only includes two wings, so it seems all the paintings and statues are wrong already. But read that verse again and point out where they look like people. Go on, I'll wait... What's that? It doesn't say that!? You would be correct. All it says is that they have a face, feet, wings and can fly. Does a face and feet make something look human? My cats have faces. My dog does, my fish does, and so do all the animals I see in my yard.
With the exception of the fish, they all have feet as well. Somehow I don't mistake them for human beings. But Billy's getting up there in age, so maybe I should cut him some slack. I hear that confusion can sometimes come with age.

But this is far from the only description of angels in the Bible. Our six-winged friend is a kind of angel called a Seraphim (or burning ones). The extra wings are meant to keep anyone from seeing their face. Why? Because if you see it you are said to either become blinded or incinerated. Quaint.

Another 'race' of angel looked very odd indeed. This is how the Bible describes them:
This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.
As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went.
Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.
-Ezekiel 1:16-18
Um... Was someone on acid when they imagined that one? Shining, interlocking wheels, covered in
eyes. And oh yeah, they could fly too! Why do you think Mr. Graham left this one out? Could it be that it smashes the status quoe of what angels are supposed to look like? Or is it because a flying gyroscope with eyes is a lot harder to swallow than a normal looking guy with wings?

On to the next description of angels!
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal,
and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human,
but each of them had four faces and four wings.
Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.
Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings,
and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.
Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body.
Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went.
The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.
The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.
-Ezekiel 1:4-14
 So let's build up our angel checklist for this one...

• Human body
• Human hands
• Four wings
• Head with four faces
     -Human face
     -Eagle face
     -Lion face
     -Ox face
• Calf feet/legs (with bronze finish)
• Travels in fire
• Moves like lightning

Somehow that doesn't sound like a man with wings or a little baby with wings to me... But you know what it does sound like? Pegasus, the Griffin, the Hippogriff, the Snallygaster, the Minotaur, the Centar, the Satyr, the Sphinx, and even the Mermaid. All mythical creatures that are made up of the combination of various beasts and animals. Heck, It even sounds more like the Egyptian gods, than it does an angel. In my opinion, the exclusion of this verse was somewhat dishonest. Was Graham worried that an honest description would give people doubts? These angels are described like other creatures we all regard as mythical. And there is probably a good reason that their descriptions are so similar... Angels probably aren't real either. Instead of trying to hide to verses that play havoc with the picture you want to paint, why not embrace reality instead.

Angels probably aren't real. They are as equally evidenced as faeries, trolls (not the internet kind), goblins, and gnomes. So chances are, they are just as imaginary as well. So RE, don't worry about what angels look like. The Bible certainly describes them quite different than artwork depicts them, and how Billy Graham wants you to picture them. But that's okay, because there are no angels to complain about us getting their painting and sculptures all wrong.

-Brain Hulk

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