Archive for February, 2012
Since this stunning portrayal of Christopher Hitchens’ final days by friend, Ian McEwan, I have been waiting for the great contrarian’s final published essay to be released.
Here it is: The Reactionary. This will be available in the March 2012 edition of The Atlantic.
Word of warning: unless you are an expert on post-Victorian British literature (I certainly am not), you may want to research a little beforehand. Hitchens, though lucid as ever, even to the last and apparently napping a little in between paragraphs, seems splendidly incomprehensible in his book reviews unless one is generally familiar with the topic at hand.
Just not about the son.
And evidence he’s god?
We’re left at square one.
The NT is bogus in its claims,
It fails, it fails in so many ways.
My god, a Republican with a heart and conscience? How refreshing.
Thanks to Daniel Fincke for posting this.
And a clear-minded response from a viewer:
This is rich:
god saved ME. he let millions of children die of ______. he let millions of women be raped. but he saved ME. Because I have a special relationship with god. He has a special plan for ME. God is good to ME. ME. ME. ME….
What an arrogant, selfish bastard.
And lhurien added:
so good god gave you cancer… then cured you of the cancer he gave you. man that’s just a couple of miracles.
Yup. Tell the thousands and thousands of children dying of leukemia right now about god’s “plan” and their “purpose” for life and about how “good” god is. What utter arrogance and self-gratification. So fucking silly and disingenuous.
Thanks to John Eisenhauer @johneyes for posting this on Twitter:
When some1 talks about job creation under #Bush & #Obama show this graph: pensitoreview.com/2010/10/11/oba… | #tcot #conservative #P2 #P21 #PX #obama #ff
Here is the article and the graph:
This article, ”The Obama administration’s abortion rule,” suffers from only one minor problem: it is woefully fraught with error. Its writers claim, and without presenting a stitch of evidence, that emergency contraceptive drugs Ella and Plan B cause abortions. Only on Christian or religiously-slanted websites will you find such a myth. Here is another article that, again, without citing any references whatsoever, makes the same claim in a rather ironic “myth” versus “fact” article:
3) Myth: Ella does not cause an abortion because it does not interrupt an established, implanted pregnancy.
Fact: Ella can cause the demise of an embryo that is already implanted in its mother’s womb, in addition to preventing implantation after fertilization. Ella also appears to have a powerful ovulatory blocking capability.
But according to the FDA,
The safety and efficacy of ella were demonstrated in two Phase III clinical trials. One study was a prospective, multi-center, open-label, single-arm trial conducted in the United States; the other was a randomized, multi-center, single-blind comparator-controlled trial conducted in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland.
The FDA states clearly that women who are already known to or may be pregnant should not take the drug.
And according to Princeton University’s Office of Population Research:
No, using emergency contraceptive pills (also called “morning after pills” or “day after pills”) prevents pregnancy after sex. It does not cause an abortion. (In fact, because emergency contraception helps women avoid getting pregnant when they are not ready or able to have children, it can reduce the need for abortion.)
Yet, the writers of the Baptist Press article claim, ridiculously, that these pills cause abortion. It may be possible that the fetus would be harmed if a woman takes the drug while pregnant, but as just mentioned, the FDA explicitly warns against such behavior. The pills are meant to be take before the pregnancy occurs. Nowhere except in apologist literature will you find credible sources that maintain that these drugs can cause major damage to the woman at all, much less abortions.
The Baptist Press also reads as if the health care plan requires women to take these drugs. No. It simply provides the contraceptives free of charge, and federal funds can not be used for abortions, except in cases of incest or rape.
This smacks of the time-tested, hypocritical Republican way: push for big government on certain issues (religious protections, immigration and gun protection laws) and argue for limited government on others (abortion, gay rights and women’s rights). Silly and contemptible but mostly contemptible.
I realize watching this is going to make a lot of your heads hurt (via P.Z. Myers). Sorry for that. But I have little patience for drivel and less patience for abject stupidity served up on a daily basis from Pat Robertson and his black cohost who daily betrays both her race and her gender. That said, here is our good friend, Pat, enlightening us on atheists:
I find it interesting that Robertson would make this statement:
Isn’t this a strange thing that we would allow somebody who doesn’t believe in anything to restrict the freedom of those who do. I mean it makes no sense.
Isn’t it also strange that a believer can have non-believers penned down so well. Non-believers, in fact, believe in quite a few things, it’s just that none of them include the supernatural, things like literature and the arts as transcendent topics of inquiry. Science and free inquiry. Freedom of speech, and yes, freedom of and, if people wish, from religion. Actually, the word “believe” in the sense that Robertson means would probably make a lot of non-believers uncomfortable because the absence of a belief is not a belief. This is like saying that zero equals one. In computer programming jargon, 0 often refers to the “off” position, while 1 refers to the “on” position. For non-believers, belief in God is just off. Nothing more.
As for the issue at hand, I believe Robertson was referring to this issue, in which a statue of Jesus is perched atop Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana. The statue sits on public land and has been in that location since the 1950s. The Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the constitutionality of the display, but the Forest Service made the decision to keep the statue in place, citing its historic significance.
Regarding Robertson’s statement early in the video, no one, not the FFRF or any other non-believers are attempting to “restrict” the freedoms of believers. In case he fails to understand the English language, “protesting” and challenging the constitutionality of a statue on public land does not mean the same thing as restricting the rights of believers. Just as believers have the right to worship however they see fit in this country, non-believers have the right to speak their mind and red flag issues that may subvert our constitution, which, as it happens, protects both.
I won’t bother to address the cohost’s asinine comment about Wicca.
Please read here for some interesting correspondence between myself and a fellow blogger named, David Smart, aka, Ryft, who challenged a comment I made on one of his posts. I invite you to read his original post (too long to quote here), and what follows is my initial comment to it, which was chided for its brevity (didn’t know that was a bad thing). Here is the paragraph to which I responded:
And we certainly ought to be ready to give an answer or a defense (pros apologian) when we are asked about the hope we possess—and that hope is nothing other than the faithfulness of Christ Jesus, whose perfect atoning sacrifice redeemed us from death and brought us to the eternal light of reconciliation with God. As those purchased by Christ in the covenant of grace we overflow with love and praise for God and all his handiwork, glorifying his name in everlasting thanksgiving. And all of it, that love and gratitude and hope, rests upon our sovereign Lord and Savior. And this should not be unfamiliar to someone like Oxley who has devoted so much time to the study of Scripture, especially in reference to this very passage which begins with the following statement, “Set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts.” In other words, not only is Jesus Christ the hope we possess but he is also the reason for it; so when we as Christians give an answer or a defense to those who ask, we will do so by setting apart Christ as Lord in our hearts in defending and confirming the gospel. Everything begins and ends with Christ Jesus, including our very reason; that is, we will not reason apart from him, but in everything set him apart as Lord.
And my response:
The third paragraph here (beginning with “And we certainly ought to be ready”) is a garbled mess of question begging and wishful thinking. Explaining the “hope” you possess in Christ isn’t good enough, since Muslims aren’t going to convince me of their hope in Allah either. And you admitted it here that Christ is your reason for hope. So you actually should provide a reason for why he’s your reason for hope. And good luck with that. Outside of your own desire for it to be true, there is scant evidence that Christ existed at all, much less that he was anything other than a peasant roaming the countryside. There is not a single contemporary source that confirms his existence. Base your hope on a guy for which there is no evidence outside of the Bible all you want.
He then proceeded to create a new post based on this titled, “Who said I am supposed to convince you?” After one round of posting, I felt he was taking awhile to respond to one of my replies, and he said church, work and family activities had tied him up. He finally replied. I replied back, he replied, I replied again, and after that, tumbleweeds wafting through cyberspace. In my last post, I even asked questions hoping to spur continued discussion, but just got silence. He will likely claim that he didn’t see a point in continuing the discussion for some reason, but my Spidey senses alert me to, perhaps, the real reason: that he had no argumentative foundation on which to stand.
Here was my last, debate-stopper reply:
I was actually responding to “arguendo,” not “non-sequitur.” I didn’t see anything remarkable about your use of the latter.
I think you missed the point. I mentioned Zeus as a hypothetical. I grant the fact that you personally may be different from other believers, in that you won’t attempt to help someone understand why Zeus does not exist. Kudos, I guess. But, am I to understand you correctly, that even when she approached you and wanted to tell you all about Zeus, you would let her to continue on in her infidelity to Yahweh? You wouldn’t mention a word about Jesus to her?
No, I don’t actually believe in Zeus, but I can pretend that he might exist to make an argument, if we assume Zeus has the same powers, attributes, etc., as Yahweh supposedly possesses. You actually do believe in God, however, so you don’t enjoy that liberty.
And some of us can’t read, “If Jesus is my Lord and Savior, then he is the reason for the hope I possess,” and automatically leap to the next statement.
I’ll concede the point that the passage from 1 Peter takes it for granted that Jesus actually exists. Fine. I’ve made the point about Jesus’ historicity (or lack thereof). But the first statement above assumes that there is something intrinsic about Jesus that would give someone reason for hope. Believers may say that that is (a) what the gospels demonstrate and (b) how Spirit does his “salvific” work. Having studied their claims carefully—their contradictions, historical inaccuracies and embellishments—I don’t trust the gospels as a thorough or trustworthy account of the events of the life of Jesus, nor as documents on which to base one’s life. You do, for some reason, so I’ll leave it at that.
As for the Spirit operating apart from the preaching of the gospel, in Acts 19, Paul in Ephesus comes across “some disciples” and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They had not heard of the Spirit, but only said they had received “John’s baptism.” Paul then said for them to believe in Jesus Christ and: “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Here we have people believing in Jesus and being baptized in his name before the Holy Spirit came upon them, and it was only after Paul placed his hands on these twelve people did the Spirit work.
In Acts 8, in Samaria this occurs as well. The people believed and were baptized in verse 12, and it’s not until Peter and John arrive and lay their hands on them that the people of Samaria received the Spirit. I realize that baptism is a symbolic act—a public profession of faith, as the church often terms it—but these passages clearly say that the people believed in Jesus and were then baptized as an outward expression of their salvation.
Further, in Luke 11:13, Jesus says that people can receive the Spirit by asking the Father, without the necessity of preachments or hearing the word. And in verses 9-10: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” I realize believers, upon making this next statement, might (and have) say something like, “Well, you didn’t really believe,” or “did not wait long enough,” or “your heart was not ‘receptive’ or ‘ripe’ enough” or something similar. But I assure you there was a time when I took Luke 11:9-10 literally and asked repeatedly for a good decade. And like many, I did not find.
Does this prove it’s bogus? Perhaps not to you. But it suggests the following: that this reception of the Spirit was, at the least, illusory for someone who truly wanted to believe but simply could not for (a) lack of any personal testimony to its truthfulness and (b) lack of evidence that the Bible can be trusted.
I don’t say “debate stopper” with arrogance. Presumably, if Ryft had a reply he would have made it, or maybe it was his Christian honor that allowed him to let me get in the last word, and maybe he simply bowed out of the conversation. How noble. But nobleness, while I appreciate that, doesn’t prove a thing as to my former points.
Notice how Hitchens makes five Christians (and many others in the room) belly laugh over a joke at Christianity’s sake. Brilliant.
… and I notice the other idiots on the panel coolly drinking their water and staring forward like subdued cows as if Hitchens is saying nothing at all, like it’s going in one ear and out the other. When, in fact, he has shreaded their entire world view. Moronic tools.