All Posts By

religiouscritic

Playschool Revelations Reading

By | Christianity | 4 Comments

From an episode of Sleek Geeks on Australia’s ABC, Rhys Muldoon and Benita Collings leave you with a reading from Revelations that will make you re-assess children’s television:

This reading comes at the end of Episode 4 of Season 2, a show entitled “Apocalypse”. The episode dealt with popular apocalyptic predictions, such as the 2012 Mayan prophecy, death stars and super volcanoes.

Now, Sleek Geeks is a science program, but being ABC funded, they are obviously a little cautious upon who’s toes they tread. Biblical apocalyptic visions were not overtly addressed, but thankfully, they got the team from the children’s show Playschool in to read some of Revelations, hopefully opening some eyes to how truly ridiculous this book of the bible is.

I mean, the bible is a ridiculous book from cover to cover, but I think John must have written Revelations whilst going through that hallucinogenic experimentation phase we all go through growing up.

Sad to say, Christianity and Science don’t really mix, so few Christian minds were likely exposed to this piece. However, we can only hope this is another step toward pushing back the boundaries believers put up around their beliefs.

We’ve all heard religious types spout “You must be respectful of my beliefs” in one breath, and then dismiss the beliefs – nay, human rights – of those not a member of their particular club: gays and lesbians, women, atheists, entire populations of third world countries who receive aid on the condition of conversion.

It’s time we pushed back. Religions have been on a power-grab for the hearts and minds of the unenlightened. We need to educate the masses. Religion is no longer the answer, if indeed it ever was. It only causes an endless cycle of pain: guilt, shame, repression, even financial pain.

Let 2011 be the year when enlightenment gathers momentum and ignorance is no longer the norm.

Happy new year everybody.

Narratives of the Birth of Jesus

By | Christianity | No Comments

From The Secret History of the World by Jonathan Black (aka Mark Booth) (pg 285):

The two Gospels with infancy narratives, Luke and Matthew, give very different, indeed inconsistent, accounts, starting with the different genealogies ascribed to Jesus, the time and place of the births, and the visit by the shepherds in Luke and the Magi in Matthew. This is a distinction rigidly maintained in the art of the Middle Ages that has since been lost. While it may be glossed over in church, academic theologians accept that, where these accounts conflict, at least one must be false – perhaps an uncomfortable conclusion for anyone believing that scripture is divinely inspired.

Richard Dawkins addresses the Pope

By | Quotes | No Comments

This is the full speech by Richard Dawkins at the “Protest The Pope” rally, 18th September 2010.

“Original sin means that from the moment we are born, we are wicked, corrupt, damned, unless we believe in their god, or unless we fall for the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. That is the disgusting theory that leads them to presume that it was godlessness that made Hitler and Stalin the monsters that they were. We are all monsters unless we are redeemed by Jesus. What a revolting, depraved, inhuman theory to base your life on.

“Joseph Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity. He’s an enemy of children who’s bodies he has allowed to be raped, and who’s minds he has encouraged to be infected with guilt. It’s embarrassingly clear that the church is less concerned with saving child bodies from rapists, then with saving priestly souls from hell, and most concerned with saving the long term reputation of the church itself.

“He’s an enemy of gay people, bestowing on them the sort of bigotry that his church used to reserve for Jews before 1962.

“He’s an enemy of women, barring them from the priesthood, as though a penis were an essential tool for pastoral duties.

“He’s an enemy of truth, promoting bare-faced lies about condoms not protecting against AIDS, especially in Africa.

“He’s an enemy of the poorest people on the planet, condemning them to inflated families that they cannot feed, and so keeping them in the bondage of perpetual poverty, a poverty that sits ill beside the obscene wealth of the Vatican.

“He’s an enemy of science, obstructing vital stem-cell research on the grounds not of true morality, but of pre-scienctific superstition.

“Ratzinger is even an enemy of the Queen’s own church, arrogantly dissing Anglican orders as “absolute null and utterly void” while at the same time, shamelessly trying to poach Anglican vicars to sure up his own pityfully declining priesthood.

“Finally, perhaps of most personal concern to me, Ratzinger is a enemy of education. Quite apart from the lifelong pschological damage caused by the guilt and fear that have made Catholic eduction infamous throughout the world, he and his church foster the educationally pernicious doctrine that evidence is a less reliable basis for belief than faith, tradition, revelation, and authority – his authority.”

Twitter Awesomeness #1

By | Twitter | One Comment

@guerillamonk Atheism shouldn’t be about insulting believers. It should be about empowering people to get off their knees and recognize their own potential

@thesimonevans Poached eggs, toasted English muffin, Hollandaise sauce, concealment of paedophiles, ham. #EggsBenedict

@CynicalAtheist If god is so perfect, then how would you explain Nickelback?

@RickWarren Bookburning is cowardly act by those afraid their beliefs aren’t strong enough to attract if people are allowed a choice.

@SkepticSheep “Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings.” ~ Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1823

@Monicks Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I revere – courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness and love of the truth. #atheism

@rationalists Moham-Meds®. It’s viagra for Muslims.

@GodlessAtheist I’m not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers. #atheism

@mattchu Stephen Hawking says the universe wasn’t necessarily created by God. In other news, grass is green.

My Most Controversial Tweet: “Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels” http://onion.com/ci3c3g

Favourite quote: “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” ~ Charlie Chaplin

How To Fight A God.

By | Atheism | No Comments

Not everyone is happy in their religion. Not every believer is at ease in the mosque or in the church or even in their dreams. They pretend to believe more than they do, for various reasons, but this is not the same as not beleiving at all. They doubt, but with that doubt comes fear, for in Islam and Christianity, doubt alone is enough for God to roast you on a spit forever, without a single coffee break. My aim has always been to persuade such people that these is nothing to fear; to convince them that their doubt is not to be the cause of their damnation but the key to their salvation from a life tainted, and occasionally ruined, but irrational fear.

Mormons on Gay Marriage, Prop 8

By | Articles | 3 Comments

I try not to pay too much attention to American politics, primarily because I’m not an American, but also it’s just depressing. When you start getting into the fine print, it begins to look like a bad episode of The Simpsons.

The current trending topic of ridiculousness is, of course, the California Marriage Protection Act, or Proposition 8. This was a constitutional amendment which provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Prop 8 was passed during the November 2008 state elections with 52% of the vote.

Think about that. The California Supreme Court actually allowed discrimination to be written into the state Constitution. Faith in humanity – waning…

Now, you’d probably have guessed that religious groups footed the bill for advertising Prop 8 leading up to the vote. About $40 million was spent on advertising, and at least 40 percent of the campaign chest came from Mormons. This is another example of minorities shoving their opinions down the throats of the apathetic masses. Mormons make up only 2 percent of California’s population.

The irony is, of course, Mormons are known for the practice of polygamy.

On August 4, 2010, Proposition 8 was overturned U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker. This ruling will no doubt be dragged through the Court of Appeals, but it seems sanity may eventually prevail. Faith in humanity – returning…

But here’s the thing. Marriage is no longer a religious institution. A civil celebrant has the legal authority to marry two people in a completely non-religious ceremony. Are Christians arguing that this kind of marriage is different from one performed in a church? Of course not… So what makes them think they can (and should) prevent same-sex marriages? Below the superficial surface of love and acceptance, the church is still all about discrimination.

You don’t think so? Ok, try replacing the word “gay” with “black”… Can you imagine a law preventing mixed-race marriages? “No way man, ‘cos that is discrimination.” It’s the exact same thing. And no matter how the Mormons try and portray themselves these days, if your skin was black, you weren’t allowed to be a member of the Mormon church as recently as the 1970s.

The bottom line in this debate is racist polygamists, supported by mainstream Christians (who don’t even recognize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Christian because it rejects the doctrine of the Trinity), are trying to create laws for the greater population. Any thinking adult should be absolutely horrified by this.

It’s a “Miracle”

By | Science | No Comments

I was listening to a couple of Christians discuss science over the weekend, which is always entertaining, but in this instance, it did get me thinking. The pair weren’t all that sure on any of the specifics, but the gist of it was this: it’s a miracle that we exist here in this little corner of the universe.

Now, I can’t say I’ve ever heard the term “miracle” thrown around in any scientific research I’ve ever read. What they probably should have said is that it’s a mathematical improbability we exist.

It reminds me of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, where the spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties. An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 67 miraculous healings in that time.

With no scientific evidence to back this up, I would say this spring water has the same healing power as a peanut butter sandwich. That’s a mathematical improbability I wouldn’t be betting my life on.

I digress. The point is that there are 100s of factors that had to be just right for life to develop on this planet: our proximity to the sun, the size of the planet, oxygen content of the atmosphere, liquid water, a ready supply of peanut butter sandwiches. So standing here on the surface of the Earth and looking up, it’s easy to believe there was a guiding hand in our creati… *ahem* I mean evolution.

However, if you look at the big picture, there are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the observable universe (approximately – if that were an exact number, I might have found myself batting for the other team as it were…) If you apply the 100s of factors to the planets orbiting these 1021 stars, it would be ludicrous to assume life has only appeared on our tiny planet.

In my humble opinion, the universe too big even for God to have created.

Genesis 1:26

By | Bible | 4 Comments

I’ve found myself reading up on research into the origins of the bible, and I’ve made some pretty startling discoveries; discoveries that modern day churches either don’t want to tell their congregation, or they simply don’t know (or don’t want to know).

Genesis 1:26 is usually translated as ‘In the beginning God made heaven and earth’, but in fact any biblical scholar will admit, even if only when pressed on the subject, that the word ‘Elohim’ here translated as ‘God’ is plural. The passage properly reads:

‘In the beginning the gods made heaven and earth’.

It is not until later in Genesis that ‘Jehovah’ is used, meaning the singular ‘God’.

This is a rather puzzling anomaly that clergymen faithfully turn a blind eye to. However, it is well-known that the creation story is based on even earlier, pagan religions.

What is actually being referred to here are astronomical deities.

Much of the old testament is actually based on stories about astronomical deities: the Sun (God), Saturn (Satan), Venus (Lucifer) – that’s right, in the original bible, Satan and Lucifer are actually two different entities as well!

Today’s church preaches an extreme and radical monotheism. This is perhaps partly because of the dominance of science. In science-friendly Christianity, God has been reduced to an undifferentiated and undetectable immanence in the universe, and spirituality is nothing more than a vague and fuzzy feeling of “at-one-ness” with this immanence.

If you are a believer, don’t bury your head in the sand – you should know the origins of your faith.

Here is a good place to start:

The Secret History of the World

Who Created The Creator?

By | Science | No Comments

Once again, I found myself in a Science vs Religion argument with my unenlightened ex. We’d watched a recent BBC Horizon documentary entitled Is Everything We Know About The Universe Wrong. Science shows isn’t usually his preferred viewing, especially any kind of doco about how the universe was actually made, but for some (obvious) reason, she couldn’t wait to check this one out.

Quoting the scientists from the documentary: “Well, we’re just not sure what Dark Matter is, but we know it’s there” or “We had to invent Dark Energy to correct Cosmology’s standard model”. This started her rant on how scientists just make stuff up all the time.

I had an up-hill battle trying to explain that a scientific theory is not just a theory invented with no basis – it is created to reflect the many observations scientists have already made. In this case, Dark Energy or Dark Matter (or now, Dark Flow) is just an x in an equation that explains how everything else works. Atoms, for example, which we take for granted today, still cannot be seen with a microscope – they were explained by science over time until we get today’s theory which fits every instance.

Anyways, during an argument about the origin of the universe, I was asked “If the universe started with the Big Bang, what was there before that? Something had to cause the Big Bang!”

Correct, something had to cause the “Big Bang”. One possible theory being looking into at the moment is two colliding string-theory membranes.

However, a thought occured to me. “Well, if God created the universe, who created God?” I got some answer about God being an ultimate being, and he always was and always will be. “Well, why doesn’t that explanation hold true for my side of the story? Why does there have to be some supremely complex being who can create whole universes in 24 hours, rather than two fair less complex dimensions floating around in space-time who bump into one another, and the energy of that collision resulted in our universe?”

“Why? Because that’s just stupid!”

Touché.

Anyways, this morning I find myself watching a Richard Dawkins documentary called The Root of All Evil? and he makes this point:

“Darwin’s great insight is that life evolved steadily and slowly, inching its way gradually over 4 billion years. Natural selection, not a divine designer, was the sculptor of life.

“So evolution, driven by Darwin’s motor of natural selection, gets us to [where we are today]. From primeval simplicity to ultimate complexity. The design hypothesis couldn’t even begin to do that because it raises and even bigger problem then it solves – who made the designer?

“The abundance and variety of life on earth may seem improbable, but it’s self evidently futile to invent an improbable God to explain that very improbability.”

How’s This For Proof?

By | Beliefs, Science | 2 Comments

I used to play on a Christian soccer team, not for any philosophical reasons obviously, but more out of convenience and availability, and boredom… I am no longer welcome on that team. But back then, I was involved in a friendly, post-game argument with the team captain over an after-game beer.

So you’ve all heard that the universe is only 6,000 years old, right? From Wikipedia:

Young Earth creationism is a form of creationism that asserts the Heavens, Earth, and all life were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic god during a relatively short period, sometime between c. 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. Its adherents are Christians and Jews who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation myth as a basis for their beliefs., and include around 10-45% of American adults, depending on various polls. Some adherents hold that this view is supported by existing evidence in the natural world. Those adherents believe that the scientific evidence supporting evolution, geological uniformitarianism, or other theories which are contradictory to a literal interpretation of this creation myth, are either flawed or misinterpreted.

I suppose the discrepancy between 5,700 and 10,000 is held because we’re not sure whether they knocked up children back then, or waited until today’s legal age of consent.

Anyways, the stock standard argument when talking to Young Earth creationists resolves around the question “Explain dinosaurs?” I took this argument one step further.

“So God created the heavens and the Earth right? Like, he created the whole universe in one day? That’s pretty amazing! The universe is HUGE! Our galaxy alone has 200 billion other stars in it and the nearest star to Earth (besides the sun) is more than four light years away! That means, light from that star travels four years at the speed of light just to get to us. We’re seeing the star as it was four years ago… Amazing yeah?

“And our galaxy – with 200 billion stars in it – is 3,000 light years thick! And guess how wide it is? 90,000 light years. Man, that’s huge! Like, that means it takes light 90,000 years to travel from one side to the other.

“On top of that, the nearest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy, which is more than 2 million light years away! Light travels 2 million years from there just to get to us. We’re seeing it as it was 2 million years ago!

“Oh wait – how old did you say the universe was?”

The point being, if God did create the entire universe 6,000 years ago (all the 200 billion stars in our galaxy, plus the more than 170 billion other galaxies in the observable universe), he would have also had to fill the void between those stars and us with a constant stream of light directed into our skies to make it appear like these objects were millions of years old. But, of course, they’re not, right? Like dinosaurs…

In fact, not only would he have had to create light waves between us and them, he would have had to stretch the waves, because when he did create the universe 6,000 years ago, he set everything in motion to make it appear like it expanded out from a single point about 13.75 billion years ago. But, of course, it didn’t, because it wasn’t around 13.75 billion years ago. The universe, with its more than 170 billion galaxies and its more than 9 billion trillion stars was created in 24 hours around 6,000 years ago.

Just like dinosaurs…