Friday, February 28, 2014

There's a book...

One (hopefully) final thought on the Bill Nye v Ken Ham debate. During the Q and A segment, Nye was asked a question that basically asked where the first matter came from. Nye honestly answered that we don't know, but that's an exciting question. Big questions like that are what drives scientists to get up each day, drive forward and try to discover the truth is. What came before the Big Bang? We don't know yet, but we're trying to figure it out using the exciting journey we call science.

Ken Ham's rebuttal was to to say that "There's a book called the Bible that tells us where life, matter, and the universe came from". He then went on to recite the first words of Genesis. He also said that it's the only book of it's kind. That he can think of no other book that tells of that kind of information.

This is where I wish Nye would have mentioned the other books that offer tier claims of where life, matter and the cosmos came from.

Seeing how Christians seem to always want to distance themselves from Islam, I would have mentioned that the Qur'an offers the very same creation story. That's no surprise since Islam is pretty much act three of the Jewish/Christian/Islam trilogy. So should obedience to Allah be taught in school then? But there's no need to stop there...

I could get a book that tells of the Sumerian creation myth that the goddess Nammu literally gave birth to heaven and Earth. I could get a book that Babylon creation myth that the god Marduk killed an old goddess/monster called Tiamat, and created the world from her dismembered body.

Perhaps we could grab a book and give some time to the creation story that comes to us from China. The story goes that there was a cosmic egg that eventually hatched and gave birth to Pan-gu. The two halves of the egg (yin and yang) then went on to form the Earth(yin) and the sky(yang). Pan-gu held up the sky as he grew, until the sky was 30,000 miles from Earth. He then died and his body became the elements in the universe, the animals, the weather, and celestial bodies. And humans? One version says that Pan-gu's fleas because mankind upon his death.

Books on Egyptian myths will tell of Atum creating a hill in the chaotic waters. He then spat out Shu (god of air) and vomited out Tefnut (goddess of moisture). Shu and Tefnut created Geb (the Earth) and Nut (the sky) to order the chaos. But Shu and Tefnut got lost in some of the remaining darkness. When Atum found them, the tears that he wept became human kind.

How about another Aftrican creation story? Bumba was lonely and not feeling very well. In fact , being the only being and feeling sick for millions of years was pretty tough. His stomach was feeling so bad that he eventually vomited up the Sun. Then he vomited up the Moon. The stars were the next addition to his celestial sick bucket. After that he vomited up the Earth, and finally he heaved up nine animals and humans. From there, he sat relieved and watched the animals and humans populate the Earth. Creation and evolution in one?

Then there is the Norse story that Odin, Vili and Ve slayed the giant, Ymir. They then created the Earth from his flesh, mountains from his bone, trees from his hair, and rivers and oceans from his
blood. The stars? They made them from his hollowed out skull.

So we have books telling of creation by way of spoken word, murder and dismemberment, vaginal birth, vomit and other magical ways. So Ham is incorrect when he says that the Bible is special in this regard. Yes, there is a book. But there are also several other books. All of them different, but the same
in one respect. There's no evidence for their claims.

Science may not know what came before the Big Bang yet. However we do know that the science and evidence supports the Big Bang theory.  But that doesn't mean that you can plug the Bible into any remaining void any more than you can plug Bumba into that void. Science wants facts, not unsubstantiated claims. And Ham's insistence that Biblical creation is science just goes to prove that he has no idea what science is.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comic book racism?

With the recent announcement that Michael B. Jordan will play Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in the upcoming new Fantastic Four movie, there has been some who were not happy with his selection. Some mentioned that Storm was a white man in the comics, so a white man should play
Flame(suit) on!
him in the film as well. Instantly, some have jumped on those unhappy with a black Human Torch and branded them as racist. Maybe some of them are, but I think that most opposed are upset for less nefarious reasons.

The first and most obvious is nostalgia. Since the Fantastic Four was created in 1961, Johnny Storm has been white. They are used to a certain visualization of the character and are having an issue with that picture being changed. But for these long-time fans, it needn't be a race issue. They likely wouldn't like Peter Dinklage or Liam Neason being cast in the role either because to them, they're not Johnny Storm.

But is Michael B. Jordan the right guy to play Johnny Storm? That is another reason people could reject his casting of innocent terms. The answer to that is that I don't know. This isn't a case like Ben Affleck being cast as Batman. Personally, I don't see him as the right kind of guy to play Batman. Hell, most of the casting of that film is baffling to me. I'm not really familiar with Jordan's other works. But he looks like he could probably pull off Johnny Storm's joking, showboating and risk taking personality. So he will probably play his part well. But there are other implications in his casting.

Kate Mara (a white woman) has been cast as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman. In the comics, Sue and Johnny are siblings. So this raises the question, if Sue is white and Johnny and African-American, how are they going to play that? They could have it told that the Storms have mixed-race parents. Or maybe they will be step-brother and step-sister this time around. Or maybe they won't explain it at all. So how they write and direct the storyline will dictate how well this will work.

Sam Jackson is a far better Fury that the Hoff will ever be.
Personally, I'm fine with Jordan being the Human Torch so long as he plays the part well and the story makes sense. It didn't matter to me that Marvel cast Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury even though he's white in the comics. He owns that role, so I have no complaints. Halle Berry played a decent Catwoman in my opinion, despite not being white as can be like the comics. Sony has morphed Electro from white (comics) to black (movie) by casting Jamie Foxx in the role. Yet from what I've seen, he looks like he's going to play the role well. I have no issue with his change of race, but actually did question how unrecognizable his costume is from the one Electro wore in my youth. And while we are talking Spider-Man, I still can't stand Topher Grace being Eddie Brock/Venom. Sure, his race was the same as the comics, but he was so wrong for that role in just about every way...

There is one case of race changing that didn't sit right with me was Abner Jenkins. Historically, he is the Marvel villain known as the Beetle. In the title Thunderbolts Jenkins took on the guise of the hero Mach-I, Mach-II, Mach-III, Mach-IV and Mach-V. When I was still a regular reader, he was still Mach-I, and shortly after i stopped reading his character turned himself in for the crimes he commited as the Beetle.

Before jail, after jail, and later still. Wait... What did I miss?
Years later I decided to take a look at the old title I used to read. It was at that time I was surprised to see that Abe was now an African-American. This was a rather surprising development. People don't just tend to wake up the next morning another race. I eventually found out that the storyline was that they gave him plastic surgery to give him a new identity.

This really didn't make great sense to the storyline and just felt like pandering. Hey look, we have a token black guy on the team now! Aren't we inclusive! But it didn't stop there. A few years later, and Jenkins is a white guy again. Maybe jail 'making' him black sent all the wrong kinds of messages...

So as for the race of a character in the comics being different in a movie... I don't think it matters at all, so long as they play the character right. And when someone says they don't like so and so playing a character, instead of screaming 'racist!', let's try to actually find out why they don't like the casting before jumping to conclusions.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The accuracy of God

It's been a while, but here's a chain email that is passed off as perfect proof of just how brilliant God is. Yet most of the stats are just plain wrong... No surprise there.
How Great Is Our God!!!

This is cool! Can't imagine counting grains of wheat.
How Great is our God! Our Creator and Redeemer . . . and do we THINK
about it ?God's accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs.. . .
. .For example: the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days; those of
the canary in 14 days; those of the barnyard hen in 21 days; The eggs of
ducks and geese hatch in 28 days; those of the mallard in 35 days; the
eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days. (Notice, they are
all divisible by seven, the number of days in a week!)
Cute... But wrong. Lets take a look at some actual stats or egg gestation.

House Fly = 1 day
Monarch Butterfly = 4 days
Mosquito = 7-1,825 days
Pigeon = 10-18 days
Finch = 11-14 days
Quail = 16-21 days
Cotumix (Japanese) Quail = 17 days
Parrot = 17-31 days
Chicken = 21-23 days
Chukar Partridge = 23-34 days
Pheasant = 24 days
Grouse = 25 days
Goose = 25-28 days

Mallard = 26.5-27 days
Duck = 27-28 days
Swan = 33-36 days
Eagle = 35-36 days
Ostrich = 35-45 days
Platypus = 38 days
Emu = 42-50 days

Funny... When you don't cherry pick and make up data, you suddenly end up with a much different picture. Looks like lying for Jesus is in full gear in this email. But... Thou shalt not bear false witness?
God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant. The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made. God planned that this animal would have a hugebody, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrumsso that it can rise from the ground easily.

The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first. A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first. How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation!
Funny, those rear legs sure don't look like they're bending
forward to me.
Why do Elephants have four legs rather than two? The reason is a little thing called evolution. Also, all four of an elephant's legs don't bend forward (at the knee) as claimed. The rear legs have a fairly normal range of motion. The front limbs do bend forward rather noticeably though. Legs that bend forward are not at all uncommon in the animal kingdom either. But where do forward bending legs come from? Again, it's a product of evolution. Also, elephants rise just like horses and other quadrupeds. Watch a nature documentary and you will see that the order is front first, and back second.
God's wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains.

-Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind.
What about that is surprising or spectacular?  If you are counting the light and dark stripes, then anything other than an even number is impossible in such a binary system. But even if you are counting only one shade of stripe, it's still a binary pattern where even would be the only possible result. It's simple math...
-Each orange has an even number of segments.
Well, except for the oranges with an odd number of segments...
Nine segments. Always even, huh?
-Each ear of corn has an even number of rows. 
Usually, but not always.
-Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains.
Research the golden ratio and get back to me...
-Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of
bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even
number and the next rowan odd number.
Wild or common bananas? Because the bananas you see in your local store look unrecognizable from wild bananas. Mankind has selectively bred them to be that way. As for even/odd sequences... Our numeric system is always odd, even, odd, even, odd, etc. Is that magically amazing too even though that we made it and not some supposed deity?
-The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all
kinds of weather.
This isn't even remotely true.
-All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks, and the Lord
specified thirty fold, sixty fold, and a hundred fold all even numbers.
I really don't think one should brag on God having great math skills.

1 Kings 7:23 gives 3 as the value of Pi.

Ezra 1:9-11 lists numbers and claims them to total 5,400, but actually adding them gets you a total of 2,499.

Ezra 2:65 lists numbers and claims them to total 42,360, but actually adding them gets you a total of 29,818.

Nehemiah 7:66 lists numbers and claims them to total 42,360, but actually adding them gets you a total of 31,089.

If God can't do simple math, what makes you think he could figure out division?
True story: My wife loves Morning Glories.
God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified times during the day. Linnaeus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night by the flowers that were open and those that were closed!
Once more, evolution in action.
The lives of each of you may be ordered by the Lord in a beautiful way for His glory, if you will only entrust Him with your life. If you try to regulate your own life, it will only be a mess and a failure. Only the One Who made the brain and the heart can successfully guide them to a profitable end.

 I wouldn't say that I found this fascinating so much as disheartening that anyone actually believes this to be a factual and compelling email. I weep for the future.

The Bible
When you carry the Bible, Satan has a headache, when you open it, he collapses, when he sees you reading it, he loses his strength, AND when youstand on the Word of God, Satan can't hurt you! And did you also know...
What about when I as an atheist read the Bible to show believers what is actually in their book since they don't tend to read it for themselves? And speaking of headaches, all the misinformation in this email gave me one. Research people! It's not that hard to do.
When you are about to forward this email to others, the devil will probably try to discourage you, but do it anyway.
Oh I'll forward this alright, but not in the way the believers want me to. Amended version sent out in T-minus...

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Will we be perfect in Heaven?

A reader asks Billy Graham if we will all be perfect in Heaven, and it's obvious he didn't think very long about what he said in reply...
QUESTION: Will we be perfect when we get to heaven? I can’t imagine being instantly free of all the things I know aren’t right in my life. Maybe we’ll just slowly get better and better in heaven, because we’ll have more time to become good. Could my theory be right? — Mrs. Y. McM.
Sorry you picked Heaven, but Valhalla is the real one.
I think that the real question that should be asked here isn't what Heaven will be like, but is Heaven even real?  And the answer to that question as best we can tell is, probably not. There is no evidence for there being an actual Heaven. Just like Valhalla, Paradise, Elysium, the Land of the Dead, the Summerland, and the various forms of reincarnation, there is no evidence these are real places or things.

Why would I want to waste my time working toward securing eternity in Heaven on;y to find it was really Valhalla I should have been longing for? Don't make quick assumptions. Instead, do research and find out if what you believe is actually true, or simply what you want to be true.

ANSWER: No, your theory isn’t right, and the reason is because in heaven we will be in God’s presence forever – and no sin can exist in His presence. God is absolutely holy and pure; as the Bible says, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing” (Habakkuk 1:13).
And the world as well see it every single day disproves that Bible quote in one fell swoop. There will be no sin in Heaven because God is there? He can't see or tolerate wrongdoing, so there's no sin in his kingdom? Um... What difference would it make where God resides in regard to that passage? When I was a young boy going to CCD school we had it drilled into our heads that God is everywhere at all times, and sees everything everywhere (In fact, two local churches have 'God is everywhere' displayed on their message signs) . You know, the know omnipresent and omniscient jazz.

If God's eyes are to pure to look on evil, and he can't tolerate evil, but God is everywhere always, then there should be no evil. Yet we can turn on the news every day and see that there is evil in the world. So either God tolerates evil in contradiction to Habakkuk 1:13, or God doesn't see everything which kills the claims of him being omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.

An when you think about it, isn't tolerating wrongdoing the whole sell that Christianity uses? We are told that we are all born sinners. That we all sin and are deserving of Hell. But accept Jesus' brutal and barbaric 'sacrifice' and God will forget all about all your sins. Sorry, but forgiving sins is the same as tolerating them. Yet again we see Habakkuk 1:13 shown to not even be supported by it's own book's theology.
Yes, we will be perfect and without sin in heaven. I can barely imagine this, but it’s true, and this should encourage us every day. Think of it: Not only will all wrongdoing be banished, but everything that happens now because of sin’s grip on this world will be gone forever. Illness and death will be destroyed; sorrow and disappointment will be no more; the faults in our characters will be transformed.
We will be perfect in God's eyes? All our character flaws will be removed? It sounds to me like everyone will be exact copies of one another. What makes one person distinct from the next will be stripped away. I would cease to be 'me'. I'm sorry, but that doesn't sound appealing in the slightest. In fact, it sounds quite boring indeed.
All of this is possible because Jesus Christ took all our sins away when He died on the cross for us. He not only came to forgive us; He also came to cleanse us of our sins and make us fit for heaven. Is your faith and trust in Him?
Heaven is our hope, but in the meantime, God wants us to live for Him right now. Is this your goal? Make certain of your commitment to Christ, and then rejoice that someday you will go to be with Him forever in heaven – fully cleansed of every sin, and perfect in His sight. In that day, the Bible says, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Graham is right on one thing. When we die, we will become just like God. Because at that time, we too will cease to exist.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, February 21, 2014

A wet threat?

I saw an image online the other day. One that I've seen before, but this time I saw people defending it. The image in question is the one that claims to prove atheists wrong with science. How? By pointing out that there's still water. Yeah... it's as crazy as it sounds. Here's the image:
Obviously there are several problems with the claims being made here. The first of which is that the age of the Earth has nothing to do with if atheism is correct or not. Even if the Earth was old or young, there could either be or not be a God. Though these questions can become intertwined at times, they really are two different questions.

I'm not going to even bother to double-check their math or claims, since doing so isn't even necessary. Yes, if water was a recourse that was used once and then was gone forever, the claims of this image would be true. But water is not that kind of recourse. Water does not just go away forever, it is reused again and again and again.

Lets look at what happens if you live in a city. You drink the water from the tap, you flush toilets, you shower with it, you wash clothes with it, etc. But when that water goes down the drain, is it gone for good? Not at all! It may go down the drain, but it then makes it's way to your local water treatment plant. There is is purified and treated so that it is once again ready for use and consumption. So if you've lived at the same place for a while that uses city water, you've likely drank, bathed, flushed, and washed your clothes with the very same water over and over again. But what about if you aren't on city water, or in the time before waste management systems?

What if you have a septic system? Your water is pumped from the ground from a well. The water is then used in the house like normal, but instead of being sent to the water treatment plant, the septic system does the work. Solid waste finds it's way into the septic tank, while the liquid waste empties into a leach field. This field is made to filter the dirty water some, and allow it to soak into the soil. That liquid (depending on the efficiency of the field, will eventually soak down to the water rable once more. Or it may pool on the surface and evaporate.

The same principle is true for the time before waste systems were invented. A person may drink from a river or lake. Eventually, they will find that they need to urinate. They may do so on the ground for instance. This urine would then soak into the soil, as well as evaporate into the air. When it does evaporate, the water evaporates into water vapor. The contaminates are then left behind on the ground. Eventually water vapor condenses into clouds, and it rains. The water then falls to the Earth again to renew the cycle.

Given the fluidity and recycling nature of the water cycle, you have likely shares water with great names through history. Names any figure that existed in the past. You have likely drank at least one molecule of water that had previously passed through the bladder on, Einstein, Washington, Cleopatra... The same will be true of just about anyone you can name.

The water cycle is hardly new news, and is long and well understood. Young Earth creationist claims proven wrong by second-grade science... Oh how fitting, as well as telling.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On bad parents and real heros

Just because you can reproduce doesn't mean you should. Far too often I see people that just shouldn't be parents. Sure there are those who are bad parents due to their not being present. But those situations can be righted so that they still turn out well. Like when someone else that actually cares for the child steps in and fills the void left by the absentee parent(s).  But sometimes the problem is that the parent is present, and uses that presence to instil horrible thoughts or ideals.

One such example was a parent that was all too proud of their child's reaction to the whole Justin Bieber arrest story. On facebook she wrote...
I'm so proud of my _____. She said she doesn't like Justin Bieber anymore, she likes One direction because "Justin does drugs like the blacks do" So proud!
Yes, because all black people do drugs, right? Congratulations, you are raising a racist. I will agree with one thing, Bieber is a horrible role model. But not because of his recent legal transgressions... He always has been. I can't stand our culture of deifying celebrities and athletes. Fame should not be the sole credential for being a role model. Sure, the famous can be role models. But not because they are famous, but for who they are. Bill Gates is rich and successful, but I feel that the real reason to look up to him is all of his charity work.

The lead singer to one of my all time favorite bands is another example. Mike Peters lived the rock-and-roll life as the front man for The Alarm (as well as Coloursound). For kids today, that is enough reason to make them a role model. But while I love the music, it's the fact that he's not once, but twice beaten cancer. He also helped start the Love Hope Strength foundation. But what does LHS do? I'll just quote them on that:
At Love Hope Strength we turn concerts into lifesaving events. Through our GET ON THE LIST campaign we register marrow donors resulting in matches from concerts around the world. Through unique events, like Everest Rocks and Kilimanjaro Rocks, we build cancer centers, giving people access to early detection and quality cancer care.
They hold concerts is destinations throughout the world. And the proceeds from those concerts stay in the country or state where it was held, to build cancer centers or buy needed equipment. From the US to Nepal, and everywhere in between. I finally saw Peters play with The Alarm one month before I met my beautiful wife, and am proud to say I shook his hand that day. Peters would be just as impressive even if he wasn't at one time well known. But the fact that he has remained humble (unlike many others) despite success is also nice to see.

I wish that people would stop looking up to rappers, football players, and actors and actresses. When can we return to a world where our youths look up to philanthropists, scientists, firefighters, etc? Real people that are doing real good. People that do things that are truly admirable.

Another case of a parent bragging online was this 'gem'...
_______ Just told me that she can't wait to die so she can see _______ again, and meet God. She's so smart!
This received many disconcerting replies of praise. Mostly congratulating the parent for 'raising her right'. What?! I read that and my heart breaks. Here is a young child, their whole life in front of them and they are saying how they can't wait to die. Read that again and let it sink in. If anyone of any age teen and up said that they can't wait to die, it'd be time for serious counseling. But a small child says it and it's cute and impressive? That sickens and saddens me. This parent is teaching this child to discount and overlook the importance and value of this life. And for what? An old book of fables... Very sad indeed.

Unfortunately, I see tales of parents gushing over things their kids say or do that either aren't impressive, unique or good at all. It may be harmless that they are excited to go to Bible camp. But the parent misses the fact that they'd be excited to go to any camp. Maybe the child sees the new-fallen snow and says that God made it to their parent's glee. Still fairly innocent (yet incorrect), but then it mounts to them speaking out in opposition to Spirit Day, where students wear purple to show support against LGBT bullying.

I've seen posts of parents proud of their children voicing opinions on birth control, abortion, gay marriage, political groups and minorities at an age where they couldn't possibly understand those issues even slightly. And shockingly in a surprisingly hateful way. Young kids will easily trust their parents, and will pick up on what you say. Sadly, far too many parents choose to teach them hate and delusion. Don't let your kids pay for your mistakes. Instead, give them the best shot you can to be who they want to be, and the best they can be.

-Brain Hulk

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Questioning Darwin

It turns out the HBO aired a creationist Christian 'documentary' entitled Questioning Darwin. I heard it was pretty unbelievable at times, so I had to take a look and see. The clips of children being blatantly brainwashed was rather unsettling. Very much so in fact. But here are some of the most out
there bits that were most worth mentioning...

1) At one point, a pastor said that if the Bible said that 2+2=5, he would believe it and not question it. What the actual what!? Seriously? How willingly ignorant can you be? He is literally saying that he would ignore reality in favor of what the Bible says. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise since that's what creationists are doing when they deny evolution. But to so openly admit that they would deny something so obvious is rather telling indeed.

2) One person started out by stating that non-believers/evolutionists say that humans are another animal species. But then he says that God made mankind in his image. So if humans are just supposed to be animals, are they saying that God is an animal? Wait... he does realize that atheists don't believe in God, right? I don't think God is an animal, because I don't think he exists at all. As for God creating us in his image... You have that backward. In fact, it's us who created God in our image.

3) Another person they interviewed said that they couldn't imagine that humans could have evolved from apes, and them from a different creature, and them from a simpler creature. She even went so far to call evolution 'crazy'. Yes, lets just ignore that fact that it takes million and millions of years for that kind of change to take place, and the fact that there is tons of evidence that it actually happened that way.

 Okay, she doesn't think it's believable. So what does she find believable? That man was created from dirt and women from a rib bone. Yes because magic instantly making intimate matter into fully formed humans somehow makes so much more sense than slight change among living generations over time... Did I just his my head? Because I personally don't see how a rib woman is more believable than wolves being bread and domesticated into the many dog species we see today. If one of those is 'crazy', I think it's pretty obvious which one it is.

4) And not to stop there, the same woman from the last statement said that she wants to send a message to Mr. Darwin and those like him. She wants them to try Christ and witness his transformative power and see if they still feel the same. Please tell me this is a joke... She's going to have a lot of trouble reaching Darwin considering that he died in 1882. Also, he was a Christian before he developed his seminal theory. He even briefly studied to be a parson. So I'd say that he gave Christ plenty of a try.

As for atheists, most of us came from one religion of another. In the USA, most of us (like myself) are former Christians. In fact, some wish that Christianity was true, but just can't believe it. I must also ask, what of the Christians who actually do the honest thing, and accept the evidence for evolution? They gave Christ a try, are still Christians and realize that it would be folly to deny something as well proven as evolution.

There was plenty more wrong and frustrating about this so-called documentary. But pointing out everything wrong with it would probably amount to a book.

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Does knowing Christ tell you right from wrong?

In the 'reality contradicts everything I say' folder we have Billy Graham answering a question about if God gave us a way to tell right from wrong.
Q: Did God put something inside us that's supposed to tell us what's right and what's wrong? If He did, then why do some people not even seem to have a conscience? They go out and do terrible things without even thinking. -- Mrs. A.M.
No, he didn't (It would be rather difficult for a nonexistent being to do so). Most people do have a conscience, however that's not all there is to it. While most have a conscience, not everyone does. Those with certain mental conditions for example, seem incapable of telling right from wrong.

And of those that do have a conscience there isn't just one de facto conscience. Some are able to twist, contort and rationalize that the line between right and wrong is in a different place than you and I. Some may even ignore their conscience out of greed or anger.

More still, the conscience of a person in one culture may differ somewhat from someone in another. This really isn't something that should surprise us, as our 'conscience' is really our subconscious brain judging on things through the filter of our evolved morality. Humans are social creatures, so though the ages, we've crafted and refined standards on what is good, and what is bad. For the most part, good and bad may be pretty much the same among many groups. However, the unique situation and culture of one group may tell them that something is okay, that other groups would say is wrong.

Some societies would say that eating dogs is fine, others that it's wrong. Some may even take religion into account and say that animal sacrifices and killing blasphemers is good, while others would disagree.
A: Yes, God did put within each of us a sense of right and wrong -- what we usually call our conscience. In fact, one reason we feel guilty when we do wrong is because our conscience is speaking to us. The Bible urges us to pursue things that come "from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5).

The problem is that our conscience -- that inner sense of right and wrong -- has been corrupted by sin. Have you ever known someone who had been burned over some part of their body, and their nerves had been damaged so much that they no longer had any feeling there? That's what sin does to our conscience; sin can scar it so much that we're no longer as sensitive to right and wrong as we should be. The Bible speaks of evil men "whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:2).

Our conscience is important; it still can alert us to right and wrong. But it's not always a dependable guide -- and it can even deceive us if we aren't careful. That's why we need Christ, who comes to live within us by His Spirit when we welcome Him into our lives. It's also why we need the Bible, which God has given to guide us.

Evil is powerful, and sometimes it overwhelms the conscience of someone who is given over to it. But God is more powerful, and He will guide us by His Word.
Seriously? He's going with the whole ' knowing Christ' will show you right from wrong' and that 'with Christ evil has no power'... Does this guy live in an eternal bubble of ignorance?

When the church perpetrated the Crusades and Inquisition, how did knowing Christ give them power over evil, and a clear vision of what is right and wrong? I don't know about you, but I'd rate torture and murder as pretty damn wrong. Is Graham suggesting that the church didn't know Christ?

What about the believers that have killed in the name of God, or the fact that the majority of inmates in US prisons are Christians? I'd certainly say that breaking the law to the point of incarceration would classify as wrong.

How about the child abuse sex scandal within the Catholic church? In my opinion, priests (of anyone) raping children is very very wrong! Seeing how preaching God's word is a priests job, it's pretty safe to say that the vast would be followers of, and believers in Christ.

And what about slaughtering entire cities, committing worldwide genocide, or torturing people for eternity? Christians either believe that Jesus was God in human form, or at the very least that he was God's divine son. In either case, God would know Christ... especially if he is also Christ as well. Being the sadistic, cruel, vain sociopath that the Bible portrays him as, I can see nothing resembling a conscience withing this deities character.

So tell me... If the god of the Bible doesn't have a conscience, is it really realistic at all the claim he gave everyone a conscience, and through knowing him, you will be able to read it clearly? Of course not! Stop pretending that Christians are somehow morally superior (since they aren't), and instead embrace the beautiful fact that we've created and molded morality all on our own.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day... A day to celebrate love, as well as sell a metric ton of greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, and fine dinners. But despite what many people think, Valentine's Day was not created by Hallmark as a way to sell more greeting cards. Sure, they do sell plenty of cards. But they
didn't create the holiday.

So who do we have to thank for the holiday then? Just as with many things, it looks like it started with the Romans. Except they celebrated much differently... Back in those days, they took part in the feast of Lupercalia from February 13th to 15th. The men would sacrifice animals (usually goats), and they (hopefully playfully) whip women with the goat hides amidst their nude drunken merriment. After that, lots were taken and the names of the men and women that were coupled together would spend the festival together exactly how you would expect them to given the drunken party atmosphere.

As time went on the Catholic Church absorbed Lupercalia, Galatin's Day (Galatin = lover of women) and named it St. Valentine's Day after a couple blokes named Valentine who were executed (or martyred in the churches perspective) on February 14th in the 3rd century.

As with all the holidays that Christianity sucks up, the parts they liked were kept, and it evolved from there into the consumer giant it is today. It's a far cry from making Christmas money, but it sure is the florist's version of a Christmas payday.

Today Valentine's Day is a symbolic of love, togetherness, and showing that special someone just how special they are. And I can only hope that my wonderful wife sees just how much I love her on this day, as well as throughout the year. I truly love her and wish us never to part.

They're cute... But please tell me that I'm not the only person
that finds these revolting and blurring the line of what's edible.
Contrast that with the Christian deity... It's often stated that God is love, so will you be his valentine? He supposedly loves all and wants you to be with him in Heaven. Should be easy right? Oh, but to be with him you must accept a brutal, barbaric, and totally unnecessary human sacrifice... Sorry, but if hottest girl in school asked me to take her to the Valentine's dance but said I had to kill her cat first I'd have to pass on that offer as well.

Okay, so I have no date to the dance/Heaven... No big deal, right? Wrong! Well, very very wrong on one account. Not being someone's valentine means an outcome of exactly... well, I'm just not their valentine. No real penalty to be had. Oh, but turn down God's date request and the reaction is one that even the biggest diva in the world would think is extreme. Yup, good old 'loving' God presents you with eternity in a torture chamber. That doesn't sound very loving to me.

So while I love my wife and wish us never to part, God would claim to love me and sentence he and I to forever be apart. Yet if my wife ever stopped loving me, I wouldn't become some monster in reply and see tying her up in a basement and torturing her as a viable or remotely moral option. If you love someone, no matter how they feel about you, you still don't want to hurt them. At the end of the day, you still hold affections for them and want the best for them.

Given how unloving the god of the Bible is, it should be no surprise that the Bible itself contradicts the notion that God is love. 1 John 4:8 says that God is love. Deuteronomy 6:15 says that the lord thy God is a jealous god. And 1 Corinthians 13:4 say that love is not jealous. So it logically follows that
if God is jealous, and that love is not jealous, ergo God can not be love. Suddenly the fact that he seems like such an evil villain in the Bible makes much more sense...

Now that we have all that covered, I hope that everyone out there that has a special someone has a great Valentine's Day. And to the single people out there, keep your heads up. Before I met my wife, I didn't think I'd find that person for me. But I'm really glad I did. Happy Valentine's Day to the love of my life. The woman that makes every day a little brighter, better and can always make me smile. I hope you know at least half of how special and amazing you are to me. I love you hun!

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Darwin Day 2014

On this day in 1809, a great mind was born (two actually... Araham Lincoln was born the same day). That name that would revolutionize biology, and would be well known for one of the singularly most important discoveries in science was none other that Charles Darwin.

Obviously Darwin is best known for formulating the theory of evolution by way of natural selection in his book On the Origin of Species. While I have read Darwin (On the Origin of Species, and The Decent of Man), I will say that I found his works somewhat laborious to read. But as true as that was, it was also just as true that the conclusions and examples given were very clear and showed their point well. Since then, evolution has been supported by mountains of evidence that have only gone to prove that Darwin was correct. But this entry isn't about evolution in general, but Darwin Day.

Considering how important Darwin has been to history, I think it's fitting that he receive recognition with his own holiday. For that reaso9n, I fully support NJ Rep. Rush Holt's (D) proposal to designate February 12th as Darwin Day. Mr. Darwin did give us advances in science, but he did more. He followed the words of Jefferson, "To question with boldness, everything". He could have simply fallen in line with the thinking of his devout wife and those around him. But he bravely followed the evidence wherever it led him. He did not set out to challenge creationism... the evidence he gathered simply led him to the truth that is evolution.

Sure, many believers deny evolution. But shouldn't the mindset of bravely perusing the truth be one that is celebrated and encouraged? So I stand with Holt, I feeling that Darwin should be honored not just for his scientific contributions, but his bravery as well.

Sadly, doesn't have any events scheduled close enough for me to attend today. But I encourage you to remember and honor this great scientist that is found on £10 banknote in whatever way you can. Read one of his books, attend an event, or maybe do like me and fly a UK flag on Feb. 12th and watch the Darwin movie Creation, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly (featuring Benedict Cumberbatch) as I typically do every year. Whatever you do, I think that Charles Darwin is very deserving of being honored, whether it be with an official holiday, or an informal one. Here's to you Chuck!

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, February 10, 2014

How to drive away your boyfriend

Billy Graham receives a letter from a woman concerned about her boyfriend. As usual, bad advice is brandied about...
Q: My boyfriend went to church with me the other day, and afterward he said he didn't like it very much because the preacher kept talking about our need for God's forgiveness. He says he doesn't feel like such a terrible sinner. How should I respond?
Do you really need to respond? So what if your boyfriend doesn't like your church, preacher, or even agree with your religion? Does that have to be a big deal? Not at all! The real question here is what's more important to you? Do you want to love your boyfriend for who he is, or do you want to change him.
and mold him into someone who always agrees with you no matter what. If the latter is your answer, I'd say that you don't really love

A sure fire way to drive someone away is to try and force them to change against their will. It could be possible that this is an interfaith relationship. She may be a Christian, and he could be a non-believer, or a less literal Christian. But this doesn't have to be a problem. I am an atheist that is married to a believer of sorts. Sure, she's not a Christian, but she's no atheist. Relationships are as much about respect as they are love. We love one another, but we also respect one another. We share our theological opinions, but we do not force them on one another. We may not always agree, but we always respect one another and where they are coming from. What's so wrong with that?

You see, that's the kind of answer that should have been given to that question. Here is the mess of a reply that Graham offered...
A: What your boyfriend is actually saying is that he doesn’t think he needs God — and that should concern you very much. Not only does it create a barrier between you right now, but it should warn you about potential problems in the future — especially if you were to get married. The Bible warns, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). 
 Nice... So somehow her boyfriend having his own opinion is divisive, but telling her to only associate with Christians isn't? There are no signs here that he is trying to push anything on her. From the question, it appears that he only offered an opinion (possibly after being asked for it). And no, if
he actually does have a different theological stance than she does, that is not creating a barrier between then at the present. Actually, I have the feeling that Graham is the one that is about to suggest she do something that will create a barrier between them.

As for a barrier in the future... Prove to me that there is an afterlife to be concerned about first. Then we'll talk. And why do I get the feeling that Graham is painting nonbelievers as people to be avoided and as bad love interests? Does he need to be reminded that the majority of inmates are Christians, and that believers also get divorced more often than non-believers do? Turn off the blind discriminatory hate for a moment and look at your own problems please...
What can you say to your boyfriend? First, you might ask him how he defines sin. Is it only a horrible crime or act of violence? Is it only being enslaved by a terrible habit, like drugs or alcohol? If that’s all sin is, then he’d probably be right in his position. He reminds me of the man in one of Jesus’ stories who declared, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers” (Luke 18:11).
Oh yes, lets rely on a dusty old book that is often laughable and wrong to determine what is 'sinful'. If you've bothered to read the Bible you'll soon realize that it'd be easier to make a list of what this god doesn't consider to be a sin, than to make a list of what he does. Hell, according to the Bible, wearing a poly-cotton blend t-shirt, getting a haircut, or eating bacon are all sins... If you ask me, the laws that we've collectively come up with are far more realistic, rational, and conducive to a positive society.

Of course there's the irony that the Bible also dictates that the girlfriend in question shouldn't even be asking questions or speaking out in church, and instead defer to 'her man' for instruction. Rather convenient that she simply ignores that rule from her supposed god's perfect book...
But your boyfriend (like the one in Jesus’ story) is guilty of a sin that’s even greater than any of these. It is the sin of pride, and the reason it’s so serious is because it cuts us off from God. We think we don’t need God, and we don’t want anything to do with Him.
I don't think I've ever met anyone more full of the supposed sin of pride than a devout believer. They can come across as so very full of themselves and certain of their faith that it absolutely gushes from their every pore. Meanwhile, Graham would like to say that I'm the one that is too prideful because I don't believe. But am I? I don't think so. Give me one reason... one piece of  evidence and I could change my mind on the spot. I realize that I could be wrong. To me the person that knows that they could be wrong sound like a humble person, whereas the one that says that nothing could ever change their mind is the one that is 'too full of pride'.
Love... If you have this, I mean really have this, it shouldn't
matter one bit what your partner's religions beliefs are.
Pray for your boyfriend, that God will open his eyes to his need for Christ. Ask God also to help you be an example to him of God’s love and purity and righteousness. Your friend needs Christ, and God wants to use you to help him face his need.
 And there it is. Graham stated earlier that her boyfriend's simple opinion was creating a barrier
between them... And not Billy is suggesting something that is almost sure to create a barrier between them or even destroy their relationship. Remember, as far as we can tell from this letter, these two have no real issues between one another. So Graham suggests what? That we create one!

These two may love one another and this theological 'issue' may not even be an issue at all. But if she follows Graham's advice and tries to force him to change a very real rift could be created. Lets suppose that he's a non-believer for a moment. If he were to demand that she turn from Christ and leave the church, he'd rightly be considered an ass. But the same is true if she tries to tell him that he has to fall in line with what she believes. Do that, and consider that relationship over.

As I can personally attest people with different theological stances can and do thrive in a relationship. So Graham, instead of focusing on decisive labels, please try to focus on individuals for a change...

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, February 7, 2014

22 Creationist messages

On Tuesday night, Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated the validity of creationism. Although he missed a few points I would have made Nye (on the Big Bang/Evolution side) won the debate. Many sources came to the same conclusion that Ham cam out with the losing hand. Surprisingly, even a poll on
Cristian Today said 92% that Nye won, and only 8% that Ham did.

Also interesting is that BuzzFeed asked 22 creationists to write down a question or message for the opposition. Here are those messages (grammar and spelling unchanged), as well as my own replies...
1) Bill Nye, Are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?
Teaching kids to think for themselves, rely on evidence to draw conclusions, and educate themselves? Yeah, I'd call those positive things.
2) Are you scared of a Divine Creator?
Nope! I'm not afraid of the Christian god, Norse gods, Greek gods, Godzilla, or any movie monster you care to name. How can I fear a god that I don't even believe exists?
3) Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature? i.e. trees created with rings... Adam created as an adult...
Until you demonstrate that things can be 'created mature', than yes, it is illogical. True, the possibility can't be completely ruled out, but the Biblical account of creation can be ruled out. Creating light prior to creating the light source just doesn't work.
4) Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?
Not at all. The second law states that in a closed system, disorder, or entropy, will increase over time. Evolution tends to involve an increasing of order (simple leading to complex organisms), so some claim it violates the second law and thus, must be false. The thing they miss is that the Earth is not a closed system as our world is constantly being fed energy by the Sun.
5) How do you explain a sunset if their is no God?
What? A sunset is what we view due to our present viewing angle in relation to our position on the Earth, the Earth's rotation, viewing angle of the Sun, and the way our atmosphere scatters the light. Where is a god needed for that? Chances are, the questioner was asking more about the beauty of a sunset. Again, no god needed. I find a sunset beautiful as a non-believer quite easily. In fact, I find it more beautiful now, as an atheist, than I ever did when I believed.
6) If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?
Um... maybe because the laws of thermodynamics don't.  I already covered evolution in #4, but what about the Big Bang? Well, the universe is still expanding. Because of this, the equilibrium state that the second law predicts a closed system reaching continues to change. But don't be fooled, the universe is still cooling and will eventually reach absolute zero. However, you can still have pockets of order within a system like our universe that is trending as a whole, slowly toward absolute zero.
Which 'noetics'? Noetic philosophy is philosophy dealing with the mind, intellect, or consciousness. If that's the case, I don't see the problem or the relevance. Noetic 'science' however, has been described as such:
A multidisciplinary field that brings objective scientific tools and techniques together with subjective inner knowing to study the full range of human experience.

In other words, there are several ways we can know the world around us. Science focuses on external observation and is grounded in objective evaluation, measurement, and experimentation. This is useful in increasing objectivity and reducing bias and inaccuracy as we interpret what we observe.

But another way of knowing is subjective -- or internal -- including gut feelings, intuition, hunches -- the way you know you love your children, for example, or experiences you have that cannot be explained or proven, but feel absolutely real nonetheless. This way of knowing is what we call noetic.
Sorry, but gut feelings are not science. Also, we can explain why you love your children, and why you feel that love with real science. It's also important to note that noetic science has proposed a world-wide consciousness, remote healing, the paranormal (life after death, telepathy, clairvoyance, etc), expanding your 'consciousness' and other spurious ideas. If that's what they were talking about, sorry, but I'm not buying any of it without proof.
8) Where do you derive objective meaning?
I don't. There is no one 'meaning of life'. Our lives all have the meaning we give them. For a believer, it may be to 'honor God'. But for me, it's to enjoy my life, the beauty of the Earth and cosmos, those I love and try and have a positive impact on the world. No god, and my life has loads of meaning. Problem?
9) If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?
The short answer is, we're not sure. There is a new paper that suggests that life is an inevitable byproduct of thermodynamics (due to energy dispersal). Alternatively, there's the chemical origin of life often called abiogenesis. This has actually been replicated in the lab. It has even be proposed that a comet or meteor seeded Earth with what was needed to form life. This has also been replicated as possible.

But yes, chance may be the answer. Considering that there are billions of galaxies. Each with billions of stars, all possibly hosting a solar system of planets. Is it any surprise that the chemistry would happen to work on at least one planet given those staggering numbers?
10) I believe in the Big Bang Theory... God said it and BANG it happened!
Cute, but I could just as easily replace the Christian god with any other god and this statement remains unchanged. An explanation that works for all conflicting explanations, ultimately works for none. Actually, you could say that someone flipped on a light-switch, and then BANG, there's the universe. Meaningless, and the rest of Genesis still contradicts the evidence.
11) Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-God believing people reject the idea of there being a creator God but embrace the concept of inteligent design from aliens or other extra-terestrial sources?
Sigh... We tend to reject a creator god because there is no evidence for one. We don't embrace an alien creator, but we do point out that an alien creator is just as likely (and unlikely) as a creator god. We may support the possibility of alien life (intelligent or not) simply due to the the amazing odds at play. There are so many other worlds that it is mathematically likely there is life of some sort of another out there somewhere.
12) There is no in between... the only one found has been Lucy and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds neccessary for an "official proof"
Not even close to true. Lucy is just one of over 100 intermediates leading to humans today. True, even more fossils would be nice, but fossils only form under the right circumstances, so we're lucky to have any fossils at all. Plus the focus on 'intermediates' misses the fact that every single individual is an 'intermediate'. But even without any fossils, the DNA evidence and vestigial evidence for
evolution are overwhelming.
13) Does metamorphosis help support evolution?
Well it is a beautiful and amazing product or evolution, so you do the math...
14) If evolution is a Theory (like creationism or the Bible) why then is Evolution taught as fact.
Because it is a scientific theory (more on that on #15) that is supported by the evidence. It is the closest thing you get to a 'fact' in science. Evolution is a 'theory' just as much as gravity is. Creationism and the Bible are not supported by evidence, and thus are not even in the same league.
15) Because science by definition is a "theory" -not testable, observable, nor repeatable" why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?
Wow... Is it opposite day? Science is testable , observable, and repeatable. Science is defined as "the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment" as well as "a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe". So... basically the opposite of what this person said.

Also, evolution and the Big Bang are theories, but they are 'scientific theories'. In science, a theory is not a simple hunch or idea, as the word is conventionally used to mean. In science a theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation". In this way, evolutionary theory is the same as germ theory and gravitational theory... rooted in evidence and testable verifiable claims. Creationism and intelligent aren't. Thus they aren't taught in science class. You wouldn't teach the stork theory alongside sex-ed would you?
 16) What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?
The answer depends on what is considered an increase of genetic information. The eye, for example, evolved trough many many step from an initial state where there was no vision at all, to excellent vision. Creationists sometimes claim that is just a reorganization or existing information. Natural selection selects for the most advantageous representations of ones genes to the environment. So even if no new 'information' is created, evolution still carries along on it's merry way.

Natural increases of actual genetic information do occur though. This happens through gene duplication. In this mutation, a particular gene will duplicate itself. These two genes can then go on mutating independently of one another. One thing undeniable is that the addition of genes is also an increase in total information.
17) What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?
Does that mean that there is no purpose for a believer if there is no God? Is their family meaningless if there is no God? That's pretty sad if you ask me. Why do I think I'm here? To live life, enjoy life, and make the most of life. What's so bad about enjoying this brief ride called life while I can.
18) Why have we found only 1 "Lucy", when we have found more than 1 of everything else?
See #12.
19) Can you believe in "the big bang" without "faith"?
Easily. The Big Bang is based on evidence, and lots of it. No faith required.
20) How can you look at the world and not believe Someone Created/thought of it? It's Amazing!!!
Yes, the world is amazing. But what does that have to do with the validity of creation vs evolution/Big Bang? While the world may be amazing and beautiful at times, it can also be very cruel and tragic. The 'argument from beauty' is just another case of theist shortsightedness. The world is amazing, but is exactly the kind of world we'd expect to see from a naturalistic viewpoint rather than a theistic one. What more, I feel that knowing how things work, and the odds involved make them even more beautiful.
21) Relating to the big bang theory.... Where did the exploding Star come from?
Is this a joke? please tell me this is a joke... The Big Bang was not an exploding star. Technically is wasn't even an explosion either. The Big Bang started with the universe in on initial hot dense state that rapidly expanded. But where did that initial energy/matter come from? Some theorize that virtual particles can pop in and out of seemingly nothing.

Yeah, most of these made about as much sense as this...
But I could turn the question around and ask where God came from. A believer will claim that God always existed. But what if the initial energy of the universe always existed? What's more likely... That something super complex (God) always existed, or that something simple (energy) always existed?
22) If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?
This one has to be a joke. Please, please, please tell me this is a joke... Evolution doesn't say that we came from monkeys. What the evidence shows is that we share a common ancestor with monkeys and the great apes.

One thing all these questions illustrate is buckets of ignorance. That is rather discouraging since many of these answers should be common knowledge. And those that aren't are answered by a 5 minute use of google. So the question is, do they even really want answers to these questions?

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Brave as a mouse

Yes... Illegal in Theocracies. Know where it's not
illegal? The USA, as long as it's not on
government property.
It turns out that there is a student at Rusk High School in Cherokee County, Texas (shocking, right?) that just doesn't get it. A teacher there illegally displayed a pro-Christian poster in their classroom, but had to remove it when a letter was written to the school that rightly pointed out that it was a violation of the separation of church and state. 

But that didn't sit well with (at least) one student, so Cameron Franks (a senior) decided to sell pro-Christian t-shirts in protest. Okay, that's fine. Whatever makes him feel better about an illegal poster being removed... But this is where it starts to get weird. reported on the story and are also promoting the sale of the shirts (so much for unbiased). But lets take a look at some of what the story has to say...
"We've walked our halls for 4 years and we've been persecuted and called hypocrites and everybody that's a Christian, I'm sure they've had that time in their life when they've been persecuted and I knew it was time to take a stand," said Franks. 
 I know I never did, when I was a Christian. In fact, I've never know a Christian that was persecuted for their Christianity. I'd love it if he would have given examples, because more often that not, what believers call 'persecution' is really nothing of the sort. And lets remember, this is the USA, I as a non-believer, are far more likely to be persecuted for my (lack of) belief than a Christian ever will be.
Rusk ISD superintendent Scott Davis said the poster was brought to his attention after he received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Davis said his hands were tied in the matter because "a teacher acting in that manner is in violation of the establishment clause" in the first amendment but he says he appreciates the positive way Cameron is dealing with someone he disagreed with.
The designer in me weeps at that font choice.
 Excellent! Davis followed the law without a fight. All the other schools that waste toms of money on bound to lose legal battle could learn a thing or two from him.
"All the posters and symbols and scriptures were removed from every classroom and I sort of didn't really understand what was happening," said Franks.
 The law being followed. That's what happened. The principal (who seemed aware of what Franks
was doing) plainly said why they were removed. Cue the unsubstantiated drama...
"I didn't think this was such a good idea at first but then I was like you know what I don't care anymore," said Franks. "I'm tired of it. I'm tired of hiding in the corner and so I was like I'm going to do it and I'm going to see how the reactions are and if they're negative so-be it and if they're positive so-be it."
Hiding in the corner? For some reason Franks has been receiving accolades for taking a brave stand. Wait... what!? There is absolutely nothing brave with stating that you are openly Christian in Texas. That's about as brave as announcing that you're Catholic while in Vatican City. What's next? Go to CiCi's and 'bravely' announce that you love pizza?

And then his facebook page clarifies that he still doesn't know why the poster was removed, or didn't even try...
We are taking a stand as Christians. We are tired of our Christian rights always being violated because someone takes offense to something religious.
*facepalm* The poster was not removed because it offended anyone. It was removed because it was a violation of the Establishment Clause. It was illegal to have it posted in the school as it was, so it was removed. This is no attack on Christianity. If it was a poster promoting Islam, it would be removed. If it was a poster promoting only Hinduism, it would be removed. And yes, if it was a poster strictly endorsing atheism, it should be removed as well.

The issue here isn't that Christianity is being singled out. Nothing of the sort is happening. Rather Christians are finally being held to the same rules as everyone else. And the standard response to the loss of their special treatment has been to throw their toys from the pram.

I don't doubt that Franks is sincere in being upset about the poster being removed. But that's life, and the law is the law. What is clear though is that he (and others) don't seem to understand the real issue here (even though the principal spelled it out), and that Franks is not doing something spectacularly brave. Wear his Christian shirt in Iran, then get back to me about being brave...

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kirk and Jay's rules for terrible parenting

The always clueless Kirk Cameron has linked a story by Jay Younts on his website. This 'great article', as he describes it is far from it. Kirk acts like it's a great guide to parenting, but that couldn't be much further from reality. So, why does Cameron think so highly of this article? Let's see what he
has to say about it...

God has not called parents to explain but to train. Explanations often lead to frustration and anger for both parents and children. Children are not in need of lengthy, compelling explanations. What they are in need of is the understanding that God must be obeyed.

So Kirk's stance is that the best answer for everything is "Because I said so!" Wow... how terribly adult. He fails to explain how explanations lead to anger and frustration. I don't know about you, but I far prefer something I don't understand to be explained to me. Conversely, answering my questions with "It just is" or "Just do it right this time" are the answers that would be more apt to piss me off.

Explanations tend to focus on getting someone to agree with you. The logic for explanations runs something like this: If I can just get my children to understand the reason for my direction, then they will be more likely to follow my instruction. While this may sound like solid reasoning, it is not. Explanations are more consistent with gaining approval and winning arguments. Neither of these are appropriate goals for biblical parenting and can lead to anger in your children…
What world is Kirk living in? Explanations can be used in that way,  but they often aren't. Suppose a child asks me why the sky is blue. What if I explain that it appears blue due to the way the suns light is scattered in the Earth's atmosphere? I'm not trying to gain that child's approval. What I'm doing is trying to educate them. How will that lead to anger? Or what if I follow Kirk's suggestion, and just demand obedience by answering that "The sky just is blue!"? I'd think that non-answer would be the more frustrating one.

Or what if your kid wants to go to the park by themselves at 6pm? Which answer is better? Is it better to just say, "No! Because I said so!"? Or is it better to say no and then tell them why if they press the issue? You might tell them that it's too late and will be getting dark soon, that they have school in the morning, or that they have homework to do. When I was a kid, if I knew that anything past __pm was too late to ride my bike to the park. I also knew that if I didn't have my homework completed, I
wouldn't get a snack. So instead of pestering my parents about something I knew wasn't going to happen, I'd move on to something else. By having things explained to me I did something that Kirk Cameron hates... I learned!

The rest of what the author of the article wrote wasn't any better either...
With young children and toddlers, lengthy explanations cloud the real issue.  Obedience is a response to God’s authority. Biblical obedience is not a matter of winning a debate.  Young children must be trained to obey right away, to do exactly as they are told, and to obey with a good attitude.
Okay, perhaps small children don't need explanations. An maybe explaining things to a toddler would just confuse them more. But I find that stressing of Biblical obedience very odd. The Bible says not to eat shellfish or pork. Bacon is sin! Tattoos are out as well... which makes Jesus tattoos rather awkward. Ever get a haircut or shaved? It's highly likely you've sinned again. Ever hear a woman speak in church? Their apparently damned as well. If you wear any clothes made of more than one kind of fabric, straight to Hell with you! Or maybe we should let the Bible tell us how much we are allowed to beat our slaves... That's just a small sampling of the many, many things most Christians just simply ignore. Tell me again how important Biblical obedience is.
Children from 6-12 must be encouraged to obey because they know this pleases God. Your discussions will be more involved than with young children, but again you are not trying to win their approval. You want them to grasp how important it is to trust God and the reliability of his word. This type of training will yield a conscience that is sensitive to the things of God.

It doesn’t take much insight to realize that teenagers and long explanations don’t go well together. Obedience with teenagers is to be primarily be focused on helping them see the value of following God because they love him and that God’s ways are the only ones that can be trusted. Your goal is to have conversations not explanations.
 Oh yes, because "Jesus says" is such a great way to get through to pre-teens and teenagers. And everyone knows how well teens typically take to demands of blind obedience, right? Also, isn't a reliance upon 'God's word' to explain why they can and can't do things an explanation? I thought the whole point of this article was that 'explanations are bad'... Sorry, but if your child wants to go on a date, and you site some Biblical reason as to why, you are still explaining. Something that Jay is trying to somehow demonize. Or does he allow a double-standard so that his favored source gets special treatment?

Wow Kirk... Google doesn't even like you.
It may be okay to tell little kids simple 'yes' or 'no' answers. But it is very wrong, and even dangerous to foster an environment of blind obedience. A child that will obey anything you tell them will obey even if what you command is wrong. I don't think such blind obedience is good in any way. And where does the line of obedience stop. Family, friends, strangers? It is better to explain things to kids as they become old enough to understand. This will help them understand your reasoning (instead of just thinking you're mean), but will aid them in the future. It can cause then to be responsible, as well as aid them in the future. If you have reasons for things, then it's okay for them to have reason and opinions as well. What's so wrong with letting your child be who they are, and want to be instead of
molding them into a mini clone of yourself. Vain much?

I think it's far better to raise kids with understanding. Also, respect is something that should be earned, not demanded. So explain things to your kids. It may not always work, and it may not always be easy, but something magical might happen. They may learn, grow, and become better people. If there's one thing this world needs more of, it's good smart people.

-Brain Hulk

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