Quoting Carl Sagan

August 28, 2014

“You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of all those other people who don’t see things as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it.”
– Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP meeting

(via)

Yeah, it’s pretty easy to stand on one side and poke fun at the beliefs of others. Religion, climate change, whether Star Wars is better than Star Trek..

Pick your battle and there will be people on every side willing to make the other sides look like fools.

I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit I do that, sometimes…


Linda Ronstadt on belief

August 25, 2014

I’ve never listened to much Linda Ronstadt, but it sounds like she’s a lady on the ball. She was interviewed recently about her career and choices made to leave her hometown of Tuscon, Arizona in the process. She gave a lot of reasons but this one’s relevant to my blog. She talks about the effect of the school on her kids at the time. It was homophobic in some ways and some of the children they were meeting were too keen on parroting the religion of their parents.

“And then one day, my son went to have a playdate with a little boy, about 8 years old, and he said, ‘What church do you go to?’ And we said, ‘Well, we don’t go to a church,’ and he said, ‘Well, you’re gonna go to hell, then.’ So I had to stop the car. I wasn’t mean to the little boy, but I had to explain to him that my son was a fine person and that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with him and that we didn’t even believe in hell. And certainly he wasn’t going there, even if we did, and that I didn’t like that kind of talk. …

It’s unlikely that most people can quit schools and move out of town to avoid these kinds of conversations. Failing that, parents need to help their kids understand that there will always be differences of opinion when it comes to beliefs. Maybe the most important thing to know how to do is question it all and look for the facts and evidence. Don’t believe everything you’re told. Be willing to put the effort into finding out how true it is.


Saturday snicker: “Pardon me, demon. I have to take this phone call..”

August 16, 2014

Ah, haha.. An exorcist has just begun his attempt to cure this man of whatever demon ails him when the phone rings…

The accent is hard to for me to understand and also the sound quality is cell phone poor so all I can hear is, “I’m fine… I’ll call you… bye bye…” before he hangs up and we see he’s willing to start flailing around again and continue the “exorcism”. Clearly the exorcist is kind of pissed at the interruption, though, and I can’t make out what he says to the man once the call finishes. Certainly nothing went as expected there.

(h/t: liberalamerica.org)

This happened to be a funny exorcism attempt and makes me wonder if either of the people involved actually believe in possession. Is the guy in the suit a charlatan? Maybe deliberately, maybe ignorantly – at least in terms of thinking these kinds of methods release anyone from anything besides their money. The flailing victim seems totally ordinary once his phone rings, like he was willing to be in on the act and pretend something was happening just so the suit guy wouldn’t feel silly acting alone up there. Again, who knows.

Unfortunately, they aren’t always a show on a stage.

On Christmas Day 2010, a fifteen year old boy named Kristy Bamu died in a bathtub after three days of being attacked and tortured by his older sister, Magalie, and her boyfriend, Eric Bikubi, during some kind of exorcism attempt.

During the trial, jurors heard Kristy was in such pain after three days of attacks by Bikubi and Bamu, who used knives, sticks, metal bars and a hammer and chisel, that he “begged to die”, before slipping under the water.

Kristy had been killed while he and his siblings were visiting Bikubi and Bamu for Christmas, the court was told.

During the stay, Bikubi turned on them, accusing them of bringing “kindoki” – or witchcraft – into his home.

He then beat all three of them and forced other children to join in with the attacks, the jury heard.

Kristy got the worst of it, though, tortured and ultimately forced to confess to sorcery and witchcraft.

Magalie later tried to claim she was also a victim in this but nobody bought it. Others testified with enough detail to poke holes in her story. Bikubi’s defense tried to lower his sentence by stating he was mentally ill due to lesions on his brain (scans seemed to suggest that) but that plea failed.

Met Det Supt Terry Sharpe said: “Child abuse in any form, including that based on a belief in witchcraft or spirit possession, is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faith, and is never acceptable in any circumstances.”

Kristy’s family said they hoped comfort could be drawn from his death through raising awareness “of the plight of children accused of witchcraft or spirit possession and promote the need to safeguard children’s rights”.

The couple was original from the Democratic Republic of Congo. A documentary put out by BBC3 in 2013 covered the prevalence of child witchcraft accusations there. At the time of filming, 50,000 children had been accused of witchcraft in the country. If you can find Branded a Witch anywhere, it might be worth a watch. If not, look around Youtube.

I’m not snickering anymore…


Are you gay? You must have a fart demon.

July 28, 2014

According to Bert Farias of Holy Fire ministries anyway. He’s adamant that stinky demons live in every gay person. Fart demons.

In an interview with Charisma magazine, Farias begged gay people to “not get upset with me” as he explained his groundbreaking new theory.

“[You] will see that I am actually trying to help you,” he assured them.

He continued: “Homosexuality is actually a demon spirit. It is such a putrid smelling demon that other demons don’t even like to hang around it.”

The “real proof” he has for this apparently comes from a biblical story where Jesus sent demons into pigs and the pigs drowned themselves rather than live in pigs forever. I don’t know this story so I take from gotquestions:

Why the demons begged to be allowed to enter the swine is unclear from the account. It could be because they didn’t want to leave the area where they had been successful in doing their mischief among the people. Perhaps they were drawn to the unclean animals because of their own filthiness.

I guess the latter thought is what Farias had in mind. Back to the article from Queerty:

“A genuine prophet of God told me that the Lord allowed him to smell this demon spirit, and he got sick to his stomach,” he said.

Farias also warned that the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the United States is a sign from the man upstairs that our society is in “the last stages of decay” and that there will be severe “destructive physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences.”

He can think this if he wants, I guess, but if he’s well known enough, or popular enough, then his weird thoughts on homosexuality will be passed onto other believers who’ll continue to spread this fart demon pig story around as if it’s truly God’s proof that homosexuality is the biggest sin of all, even though the original story has nothing at all to do with homosexuality directly. But, when has that stopped anyone…

Gotquestions again:

The Bible doesn’t explain to us Jesus’ reasoning, but displaying His sovereign power over demons could be one reason why Jesus sent them into the pigs. If the pigs’ owners were Jews, Jesus could have been rebuking them for violating Mosaic law which forbids Jews from eating or keeping unclean animals such as swine (Leviticus 11:7). If the swineherds were Gentiles, perhaps Jesus was using this miraculous event to show them the malice of evil spirits under whose influence they lived, as well as displaying His own power and authority over creation. In any case, the owners were so terrified to be in the presence of such spiritual power that they made no demand for restitution for the loss of their property and begged Jesus to leave the region.

It’s such a stupid story. Small wonder I never came across it before, although now that I look at the Skeptics Annotated Bible, I see where the “I am Legion” notion comes from — this guy with the demons that begged to go into the pigs. I’m more familiar with Legion from Red Dwarf. A far better and more clever story if I do say so. The crew lands on a strange planet with evidence of great intelligence and discover Legion. Kryten does a bang-up job with his logical solution to the problem they have once they realize Legion does not intend to let them leave again. Well done, Kryters. Well done.


10 questions for every atheist part 2

July 17, 2014

I found out about the list here and the original set of questions. I haven’t even read the answers given at maasaiboys because I didn’t want to look like a copy-cat.

Answers 6-10: Read the rest of this entry »


10 questions for every atheist part 1

July 17, 2014

I found out about the list here and the original set of questions. I haven’t even read the answers given at maasaiboys because I didn’t want to look like a copy-cat.

I wound up writing quite a lot for the answers so I’m breaking this into two parts. Questions 1 through 5: Read the rest of this entry »


Pareidolia hair

July 11, 2014

Looks more like OOOO to me

Kristin Kissee says her hairstyle is divine.

As she recovered from rounds of chemotherapy and radiation in a battle against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Kissee posted a photo to Facebook of her regrown hair in November 2011.

She’d never noticed when she posted the picture but a year or so later she was going through some other troubled times and happened upon the picture again – this time seeing what she supposedly missed before.

She believes the holy hairdo — which is only visible in that one photo — was God’s way of sending her reassurance when she needed it.

“I was overcome with feelings of joy and serenity,” she told HuffPost. “I cried. God answered my prayers.”

Kissee says she does not go to church and is “a bit wary of organized religion,” but does believe she has a “spiritual relationship with God.”

When it comes to signs, it’s very easy to make anything mean something. I can see why she thinks the word GOD is in the curls on her head in that photo. She’d been through something traumatic and scary and who wouldn’t look for reassurance of some higher power looking out for you? Well, me and other atheists.. but ignore us for the moment. I can see why, even if she’s not a regular church goer.

It’s soothing and made her feel like she’d been singled out to be special and prized. It’s a common thought among the faithful I think, that challenges of this nature are put upon a person because God is a bastard wants to test one’s strength and faith. It’s Job all over again. Everyone wants to have steadfastness like Job when the shit hits the fan. God will take care of it..

But they’ll still visit doctors and get chemotherapy. Faith and prayer only go so far…


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