Entries Tagged 'General comment' ↓

Follow up to “What Motivates This Atheist”

There have been a few comments on the thread back home.  Here they are:

hawk wrote on Jul 13, 2009 5:30 PM:

” I’m no atheist but I do hide from missionaries. “

shimko42 wrote on Jul 13, 2009 8:30 PM:

” what a waste of space jesse when will you stop picking on old ladies??? grow up and get over it. it’s her opinion and shows up in the church directory. So maybe she is preaching to the chior but at least she is willing to preach and not belittle unlike some people I know. Leave the lady alone if you want to pick on people come to Ashland meet me at my house and pick on me. “

johlsson wrote on Jul 14, 2009 7:07 AM:

” Shimko, are Sally’s opinions somehow protected just because she’s an old lady?She’s presenting as fact, attributes to atheists that we most certainly do not have. I pointed it out.

I was wondering how long it would take before Sally’s bulldogs started barking, metaphorically.

Sally gets no free ride to spew whatever she wants without criticism, regardless of her age or sex.

Now, did you have something to add about the content of either her or my posts?

Hawk, I’m with you on the missionary subject. Culture-erasers. ”

listner wrote on Jul 14, 2009 4:49 PM:

” johlsson;
I enjoy your posts. Well thought out and logical.It matters not if the author is a little old lady. Once she decides to place these types of letters in the paper, she must expect some reaction from those that may not share her beliefs. Consider, however, the wonder that after all these years, the free exercise of one’s own religion coupled with our right to express our own opinions, is still a cherished liberty in this country. I may dislike the religious right ( or any religous zealot who believes they have a monopoly on truth )and the effects I precieve they have had on this countries policies, but I’ll defend their right to speak, whether it be enlighten or nonsense.

Your opinion is just as valuable as hers! Don’t shy away from good arguement! ”

johlsson wrote on Jul 15, 2009 11:18 AM:

” listner,Thank you for the compliment.

I have given much consideration to the first amendment rights we enjoy. Stunning foresight on the framers of the constitution, I’d agree.

Sadly, there remain some who would deny people who disagree with their beliefs that right. Down that path lies madness.

Bien a vous de Belgique. ”

thetech wrote on Jul 15, 2009 9:35 PM:

” That would be the “path”; you’ve been on for some time now. Madness!The “other”; is too narrow, for the likes of you……………………….. ”

Jesse Ohlsson wrote on Jul 16, 2009 1:21 PM:

” Techies, you are most dependable and can be counted on to avoid the discussion entirely. It is beyond tiresome.The difference between you and Sally is she far more closely lives the convictions of her beliefs. You, on the other hand, epitomize the hypocritical christian. Your hatred for me isn’t even thinly veiled.

Convenient, how you pick and choose the bits of your religion that agree with you, isn’t it? You do not help your cause. ”

Jason McQueen wrote on Jul 20, 2009 9:32 AM:

” Many people believe in God but don’t understand how to relate to Him. I would guess that it is to these people the original article is directed.Even though I am a Christian I have had a few athiest friends, many very intelligent and articulate people. I understand their motivation: they are simply unwilling to yield control of their lives to another higher power. They want to be their own boss. Even as a minister of the gospel, there is nothing more I can do in that case (except pray for them); they are free to go and do as they will. God Himself allows them the freedom to choose Him or not and I can do no more or less on His behalf.

The Bible says that the first step of faith is to believe that God is, and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. Without that belief, nothing else in the Book will seem relevant.

Aside from that, as an American, I will tolerate the preaching of any god or belief, so long as I am also allowed to preach mine. I understand that not everything I would hear as free speech will be pleasing to me, since obviously the world does not revolve around me. I would, however, ask the same understanding of others.

You may or may not be interested to know that I also do not support school-led prayer, as I would not trust any modern school administrator to properly lead my children before God’s Throne; I can do that myself. ”

nokomis wrote on Jul 20, 2009 12:57 PM:

” Hey Hawk! I have to agree with you! That being said, I have to weigh in on the letter written by Ms Sally Blair. I get a little aggravated by the folks who call themselves Christians. Those folks have a tendency to talk down to anyone who does not share their own religious philosophies. And yes – they ARE philosophies. The bible? It has been “translated”, “interpreted”, re-translated, and re-interpreted, by every so-called Christian religion out there, AND by each individual leader in those religions. And, as we have seen so well by the written words of the US government’s so-called historians, the interpretations and translations can, and will be, skewed in the direction each individual “translator” or “interpreter” is wont to believe. The “translators/interpreters” have a tendency to “romanticize” what is really going on, and sometimes out and out lie, in order to give the best reflection to themselves and their beliefs. Just like folks who wrote all those US history books that we had to read in school growing up. I will quit while I am ahead. Christianity is a sore subject for me and mine. “

adnilabuc wrote on Jul 22, 2009 9:00 PM:

” Proving once again atheists are the biggest moralist busybodies eh, Jess?Most Gods are the same as each other. To not see that is like the blind men who argue over whether the elephant is a leg, a trunck or a belly. ”

Jesse Ohlsson wrote on Jul 25, 2009 2:11 AM:

” Wonderful, adnilabuc!Indeed, I’d take what you said and expand it to: All gods are the same as each other… and all equally fictional.

A remarkably important point that theists tend to ignore.

As for your charge of me being a moral busybody, perhaps you can quote where I am suggesting ANY particular moral direction people should take. I’m working on the assumption here that a moral busybody is one who tries to tell others how to act morally. If your definition includes questioning others’ moral codes, climb on into the pot, for now you are doing the same by criticizing mine.

You’re normally much better at this. Is it that you have no substantive argument today, and just had to resort to calling me a name? ”

Summary:

No one EVER actually responds to the points I make.  Oh, as we can see, they don’t like to see me pick on Sally, or their favorite sky pixie.  This doesn’t surprise me much.  More on why that is in the next post…

What motivates this atheist?

Sally Bair, the weekly hometown evangelist in my hometown newspaper, the Ashland Daily Press, has an article that has earned my wroth.  Normally, I am happy to let her speak, so that all may know she is mad.  But this post warranted a response:

“Are we trying to hide from God?

‘Eternal Perspectives’ by Sally Bair

Published: Monday, July 13, 2009 11:06 AM CDT

As I pulled weeds in a neglected area behind my garden, a huge toad startled me when he jumped on my foot. Camouflaged by his color, he had been hiding in the tall weeds. During my weed-pulling session, I came across an array of other small critters, too — beetles, mosquitoes, slugs, and more. All hiding in the weeds.

I probably didn’t make any of them happy, exposing them as I did to the glaring sunlight and stealing their cover. Critters hide for many reasons: because their bodies dry out from the sunlight, because they find the best food in the cracks and crevices they inhabit, or because they want to remain safe from enemies.

We humans like to hide in the weeds, too. We hide behind our lies to protect our image of being a good person or to prevent punishment from someone in authority.

At age three, my older sister broke a dish. Mom asked her, “Did you do that?”

She answered, “Did you see me do it?”

“No,” my mom told her.

“Then I didn’t do it.”

We are also guilty of hiding behind our family name to gain prestige. Or behind our busyness so others won’t see our broken hearts or our sins. We’re all guilty of hiding behind someone or something to get what we believe we need. Hiding can take the form of control.  It’s easy to manipulate the thoughts or feelings of someone, to point our finger at the innocent so we’re not blamed for something we said or did, or to offer a fake smile behind our anger or unforgiveness.

One reason people don’t read their Bibles, don’t attend church, or worse, don’t believe in God, is because they would rather hide behind some excuse. They’re afraid that if exposed to God’s revealing word, they’ll have to face their sins and that may be too painful.

But unlike the critters that hide in the weeds, we won’t dry out from the sun, lose out on the best food, or face our enemies alone if we expose ourselves to God’s word and presence. In fact, we’ll have access to his living water and the nourishment of his word. We’ll also find safety from our three worst enemies: sin, self, and Satan.

Lord, keep us from hiding from Your salvation and truth. Give us strength to expose our sins to you so we may be nourished with Your perfect love, joy, and peace. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Her third from last paragraph is what I responded to.  Here’s my reply:

“Sally, you normally preach to the converted.  But when you start writing about what motivates atheists, I suspect you have no idea what you’re writing about.  I’ll break it down.”

Firstly, you speak about a lack of belief in a god as if that’s some sort of action that requires an excuse, as if we’re “supposed” to believe in a god.  Fine, let’s explore that.  Which god, yours?  Then, why that god?  Or, why not any of the other 20 thousand or so gods that men have written about?

Next, you seem to believe atheists fear exposure to your god’s word.  Tell me, do you fear exposure to the word of Vishnu?  Or say, Thor?  Honestly, why not?  I’ll answer for you, tell me if I’m wrong.  You are absolutely certain that Vishnu and Thor do not exist.  There is therefore, nothing to fear, is there?  Sorry, we’re bouncing back to my first rebuttal now, but why exactly do you believe your god exists, but all others do not?  There is an equal amount of evidence supporting the existence of all of them.

Finally, you surmise that atheists couldn’t stand the pain of facing their “sins”.  What makes a sin, exactly?  Doing something that is against your god’s moral code would qualify.  Ahh, but even you know very well you cherry pick which of the 600 or so directives you choose to obey.  Never mind those actions that are sins against gods you don’t happen to believe in.  There are a couple major types of sins.  Those that are only against god, and those that are against both god and man.  For example, having no other gods, no idols, taking god’s name in vain, keeping the sabbath holy, those are actions that purely annoy god.  Other men couldn’t care less if you do these things.  Murder, theft, and false witness are in another class entirely.  Breaking those moral codes actually have an effect on your fellow man.

But, there’s a concept you don’t understand about atheism.  Disregarding the sins against god, which have no meaning to an atheist anyway (in exactly the same way that eating beef has no meaning to you, but is unthinkable to a Hindu), atheists are absolutely forced to face their own crimes.  There is no get out of jail free card that absolves an atheist from his actions.  No, methinks it is the theists who are afraid of facing the consequences of their actions by themselves.

Of course, I can’t speak for all atheists.  We have no grand unified code of ethics.  Any other atheists out there willing to comment?”

Waddya think?  There’s no chance of de-converting this person or likely anyone who reads and agrees with her proselytizing.  But, I’m not about to go away quietly into the night, either.  We’ll see what rattles loose from the tree back home.

What does it TAKE to get excommunicated?

I ran into some instructions on the web on how to get excommunicated from the Catholic church. I was surprised how difficult it was. They sure seem to want to do everything they can to keep you on their rolls.

So I was curious, what would it take to get excommunicated from the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod? Would it be so difficult? Apparently not. Here’s the email exchange about my request to be excommunicated:

“Hello, I was baptised in Ashland, Wisconsin at
Zion Lutheran Church in 1963. I am an atheist and wish to be
excommunicated. This is not a joke. What must I do?”

“Dear Jesse, thank you for contacting the LCMS Church Information Center.
There is nothing to do. By not attending services, you have chosen to
voluntarily sever your connection with the church.

Blessings on your day! Joy and peace in Christ,

Diane
LCMS Church Information Center”

What do you know about that? Nothing to it! I’m out! Or, am I? I’d bet any amount I could waltz straight in to any LCMS church in the world and they’d be happy to have my “offerings”. I found nothing on the LCMS web site discussing excommunication.

I don’t think they have any system of internal checks at all.

Wait a minute. That means they could be infiltrated, doesn’t it? Who’s to say it hasn’t already happened? We could walk among them, undetected. For whatever good it would do.

Who’s a cynic?

I was reading another article in my hometown newspaper today, this one about a Christian youth organization in northern Wisconsin calling itself BAYNET (Bay Area Youth Network).  The bay they claim is called Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior.

On it’s face, this group sounds like they actually do something of value in the community.  So, what’s the harm, eh?  Probably not much.  There were a couple of quotes that raised my ire.

The first quote is the one that speaks to my title for this post.  The BAYNET founder and leader, Joe Mousseau, “a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, had originally come to the bay area in 1997 as an intern with Washburn Assembly of God while a student at North Central University in Minneapolis, working on a theology degree.”  In the previous paragraph, Joe says:  “I came here with the goal of working with students. I’ve always wanted to work with them; it’s always been a dream of mine.” 

Motive and means.  Get ’em while they’re young, vulnerable, and a teen.  That’s a hell of a confusing time in life.  There could hardly be a better time to indoctrinate kids.  That’s the cynic in me.  I don’t doubt Joe really means well for the kids who participate in his program.  I also don’t doubt that Joe wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep if a few happened to join his church on the way.

The first hit on google for the definition of cynical is:   …”believing the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in e.g. selflessness of others”  My wife says “That’s you.”.

The second quote that drew my ire is this:  Joe says:  “We want to give students options, to stay away from at-risk activities like promiscuity, alcohol and drugs.”  Then, a couple paragraphs later:  “…it is a fact that kids who have some kind of a faith system in their life are less likely to engage in those at-risk activities.”  What?  Of course he means “…less likely than kids without some kind of faith system in their lives”.  He makes this statement of fact without citing any references.  As I write this, I have no sources to dispute his “fact”.  I’ll dig that up soon and post a follow up.

The article also goes on to say that “in recent graduating classes at Ashland and Washburn high schools, …five out of six valedictorians were members of BAYNET.” as was a local Teenager of the Year.  Confusing correlation with causation?

But again, the cynical side of me tells me Joe is making up this fact to justify a wee bit of proselytizing.  Say it isn’t so, Joe.

Smoking is full of shit

In my hometown newspaper’s online edition opinions page, there are any number of topics of interest to a small town.  One that has showed up a few times in recent weeks is about attempts to ban smoking in  bars and restaurants in Wisconsin.  I can’t seem to find any actual proposed legislation, though.

There are a few tired arguments that always, always, always rear their ugly heads.  1.  The guv’mint can’t tell us what to do on our private property.  2.  We have a “right to smoke”.  3.  If you don’t like the smoke, don’t go to bars.

I wonder if I’m wrong, but here are my answers to those three arguments.

1.  Of course the guv’mint can, and does, tell you what you can and can’t do on your own private property.  Try building without a permit, or not following building codes.  See how far you get draining wetlands on your own property.  The list goes on and on…

2.  I don’t think so.  This seems to be in the same boat as alcohol or heroin for that matter.  Do you have a “right” to use cocaine?  Maybe, maybe not.  I think probably not.

3.  Since when do these tiny minded smokers seem to think they get to name the genre of establishments they choose to infest to make this argument?  What’s to stop the smokers from deciding to hang out in bowling alleys instead of bars, then tell the rest of us “If you don’t like the smoke, don’t go bowling!”  Bullshit.

I read one of the best defenses for smoking I’ve heard so far recently.  One of the local dumbasses actually said he used to smoke because of his “persuit of happiness”.  What a load of shit.  What better way to show your agreement and support of the Declaration of Independence than to take up smoking?

I quit smoking ten years ago.  I started by experimenting with it with friends, then in the usual VERY short amount of time, was addicted.  I quit seriously three times.  The first two times, I “un”quit by just having one here and there after not touching one for over a year.  It takes even less time to become addicted again at that point.  No, I am quite certain the only way to stay smoke free is to really not have one again.  Ever.

Pity.  I sure enjoyed a good cigar.  And in Europe, I can get the good ones. But, they’re more expensive than drugs.

Anyone else fool around with tobacco and finally quit?  How many times did you try?

One more question.  Can anyone think of a single socially beneficial thing to come from tobacco and its use?

Darwin Day

We took Tom Flynn’s advice and completely gave christmas a miss this year.  It was great!  Thanks, Tom!

Our annual big day was Darwin Day, February 12.  For our Darwin Day equivalent of the christmas feast, we had spaghetti and meatballs in a tip of the hat to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The big gift for my five year old boy was a stereo microscope.  10X and 30X, with a set of 15X eyepieces as well.  I didn’t buy a cheap toy scope, but a proper dissection microscope.  It will serve us for years, I’m sure.  I also got him a box of insects cast in resin.  The cast quality isn’t that great, but they are adequate.

Something I noticed about all the bugs is the two hooks they all have on the ends of their feet.  Wasp, cricket, locust, spider, housefly, flower bug, scorpion, and ant.  All have those nice two hooks on the end of each foot.  Seems like the common bug ancestor must have worked out that two hooks pretty much get it on our planet and the design seems to have stuck.  Obviously, my tiny collection isn’t enough to draw too many conclusions, but that sure seems like a positive correlation to me.

Today, my boy proudly told us he wants to poo on a plate so he can put some under the microscope to look at it.  I guess I better get some slide making materials.

I wonder if anyone else celebrates Darwin Day as their big annual christmas replacement therapy day.

Site inspiration

I wanted to mention I got the inspiration for my site name from the Skepbitch.  Also, from the Skepchick and Skepdude calendars.  I always thought the Skepdude calendars should have been titled “Skepdick” calendars.  Rhymes with Skepchick, you know.

The Skepbitch gets first place in my links sidebar.  Thanks for the inspiration, Dr!