Satan wants you to read my shirt

November 20, 2011

And presumably check out my boobs as well. This is the shirt I’m wearing to my Saskatoon Freethinkers meet today. It’s all about Satan and Christianity, as explained by James R. Brayshaw, a local author who’s something of an expert after writing several books on the topic. I skimmed through the first one (it was lengthy) and found it very interesting. I’m sure Mr. Brayshaw will entertain and educate us all today. I’ll try to post about it later this week.

In other Satanish news, a Georgia factory worker was fired because he refused to wear a badge with 666 on it. It referred to the number of days his company had been accident free and, fearing for his mortal Christian soul, he didn’t dare lure Satan’s eye upon himself with such a display. Billy E. Hyatt

had worked for the north Georgia plastics company since June 2007 and like other employees wore stickers each day that proclaimed how long the factory had gone without an accident.

But he grew nervous in early 2009 as the number of accident-free days crept into the 600s. As the company’s safety calendar approached day 666, Hyatt said he approached a manager and explained that wearing it would force him “to accept the mark of the beast and to be condemned to hell.” He said the manager assured him he wouldn’t have to wear the number.

When the day came on March 12, 2009, Hyatt sought a manager to discuss his request. He said he was told that his beliefs were “ridiculous” and that he should wear the sticker or serve a three-day suspension.

He took the suspension, and later got the sack. He’s suing Barry Plastics Corp. now because he feels he was being forced to abandon his religious beliefs in order to comply with a company rule and his unwillingness to yield cost him his job.

I recall from my Wal-mart days that we were lucky to get to an “X Days Accident Free!” pizza party. I can’t recall if we’d be rewarded at the 30 or 60 day mark or if it had to be higher. Sometimes we couldn’t go a week without someone doing something stupid or careless. 666 days is a hell of a milestone. Hehe. Hell…

I think his beliefs and superstitions about the number are a bit ridiculous but I don’t think he needed to lose his job over it. If he’s that sure the Devil’s gonna get him if he wears the 666, let him skip the sticker and have him wear 667 the next day. Problem surely solved. Or he could have just called in sick, or timed things so the big day would hit while he’s on holiday. Wouldn’t that have worked just as well?

What happens with staff who are mortally afraid of Friday the 13th or some other arbitrary perceived unluckiness? Is there any compassion for their plight, or are they told to merely suck it up when the calendar’s against them? I’m kind of curious.

I feel sorry for the guy, myself, a slave to a truly meaningless number. I think that whate3ver John thought he was revealing in Revelation has certainly caused people much more existential grief than anything else ever written. Fear of a number. Fear of things that don’t exist and will never ride the earth to torment unbelievers. Fear over a future that will never come to pass.


New bodies await us in heaven? How could Billy Graham know that?

April 28, 2011

Here’s the question this time around:

I’m confused, because on Easter our pastor said that not only will our souls go to be with God, but we’ll also be given new bodies in heaven. Is this in the Bible? Why would we need new bodies there? — C.D.

I had to look this up because it’s an odd concept. What heavenly reason would there to have a corporeal form there? After death, isn’t the soul supposedly all that’s left? Would these bodies have to eat or sleep or anything? How can anyone even state as a fact that we’d get a new one?

A quick Google netted me a list of bible verses somebody put together “proving” this is the case.

Although we do not know exactly what our new bodies will be like, we know that they will be like Jesus. 1 John 3:2-3

Which one, the one on the pizza or the chewing gum?

According to the list, those who believe this bunk can look forward to being incorruptible, glorified, spiritual, eternal and powerful. Is it fair to say these people want to die so they can become gods in their own image?

We should earnestly desire to be clothed in our heavenly bodies. 2 Co 5:1-5

We should be confident and walk by faith not by sight, knowing that while we are at home in this body, we are absent from the Lord. 2 Co 5:6-7

Therefore, we should make it our goal to please God. 2 Co 5:6-11

We should eagerly wait with perseverance for the redemption of our bodies, even though we cannot see them now. Ro 8:23-25

We should seek insight and desire to lead others to God so that they, too, can be partake in God’s righteousness. Dan 12:2-3

We should keep our focus on the better resurrection – even to the point of receiving torture. Heb 11:35

We should be ready to suffer for Christ. Ro 8:16-20

The last three are the most alarming and troubling. I think these people are working under a delusion and encouraging more people to buy into it with them will cause nothing but trouble.

Graham’s response to this letter is to remind people that Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan into being sinful and punished them with death. It’s worth pointing out, however, that Adam supposedly lived to the ripe old age of 930 (Genesis 5:5) so God must have really punished him with life. Since all we are supposed to want is death and resurrection by his side forever, making Adam wait so long for that “gift” was particularly cruel and very much in line with the vengeful behaviour of the Old Testament God in general. Assuming those early Hebrews actually thought that was the life that awaited them after death. Did they? I know they had the concept of Sheol, a world of the dead, but their early idea of heaven doesn’t look like it has anything to do with the way Christians later defined it as a reward for service.

According to Graham, we have to have bodies in heaven to better serve Jesus (Revelation 22:3). What, I ask you, would we have to serve Jesus, a cookie? A volleyball? What possible needs would he have? He walked (Lk 24:15-16) so he can get up off his ass and get his own damn cookie.

So much explaining winds up going into these stories of the afterlife, but what’s the motivation to having them in the first place, to impress? To reassure? To make people who’ve never had a good life feel more relieved that it’s finally over? What about all the people who already lived a life of servitude and learn more of that is their reward for it? Thanks for all the good work, now do more and be happy to do it? Living to serve sounds bad enough, but now you don’t even get a break when you’re dead.


51% is not most; barely half of those surveyed believed in a god

April 27, 2011

18% are reported to have no beliefs of that nature and the rest (17%) remain undecided, according to a recent survey done in Britain that spanned 23 countries and polled over 18,000 people. Similar results occurred with questions about an afterlife. From the Christian Post:

According to the survey, “definitive belief in a God or Supreme Being” is highest in Indonesia (93 percent) and Turkey (91 percent), followed by Brazil (84 percent), South Africa (83 percent) and Mexico (78 percent). Those most likely to believe in “many Gods or Supreme Beings” live in India (24 percent), China (14 percent) and Russia (10 percent).

People who don’t believe in God or a Supreme Being(s) are most likely to live in France (39 percent), Sweden (37 percent), Belgium (36 percent), Great Britain (34 percent), Japan (33 percent) and Germany (31 percent).

They add a few more stats, like 13% of Hungarians think reincarnation is likely and Swedes were more likely than anyone to admit ignorance when guessing about the afterlife. Of those surveyed, South Korea and Spain had the highest ratings for belief that people “simply cease to exist.”

They also noted some stats for creationism and evolution:

41 percent believe in human evolution, 28 percent believe in creationism and 31 are uncertain of what to believe in.

Creationism, or the belief that human beings were in fact created by a spiritual force such as the God, is strongest in Saudi Arabia (75 percent), Turkey (60 percent), Indonesia (57 percent), and South Africa (56 percent).

It certainly makes a difference where a person is raised, educated, and living when it comes to this stuff. Sweden, China, Belgium, Germany and Japan topped the list for countries with more acceptance of evolution, with more than 60% of those surveyed. Sadly, neither the Post or MSNBC note how Canadians rated. I only found one mention in Mother Nature Network:

Mexicans were the most likely to accept the idea of an afterlife, but not heaven or hell, followed by Russians, Brazilians, Indians, Canadians and Argentines.

Billy Graham takes on Hell!

April 5, 2011

And delivers us from evil.. Well, not quite. Here’s the question:

Why would a loving God send anyone to hell? I can’t reconcile the idea of hell with Jesus’ teaching about love. I’m not sure I even believe in hell anyway. Maybe everyone will be saved, even if they weren’t expecting it. — P.McN.

DEAR P.McN.: It may surprise you to discover

At which point I break in because he’s about to state that “no one taught about hell or warned us against it more than Jesus, and we should take his words very seriously.”

Thing is, Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. For Jews, the end of life held the possibility of Sheol, which wasn’t that bad, all things considered. I’ll quote Rabbi Or N. Rose on this topic since I know squat. He writes that there’s a variety of thoughts about the nature of the afterlife and what’s to come in Judaism.

The subject of death is treated inconsistently in the Bible, though most often it suggests that physical death is the end of life. This is the case with such central figures as Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.

There are, however, several biblical references to a place called Sheol (cf. Numbers 30, 33). It is described as a region “dark and deep,” “the Pit,” and “the Land of Forgetfulness,” where human beings descend after death. The suggestion is that in the netherworld of Sheol, the deceased, although cut off from God and humankind, live on in some shadowy state of existence.

While this vision of Sheol is rather bleak (setting precedents for later Jewish and Christian ideas of an underground hell) there is generally no concept of judgment or reward and punishment attached to it. In fact, the more pessimistic books of the Bible, such as Ecclesiastes and Job, insist that all of the dead go down to Sheol, whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free man (Job 3:11-19)

The Rabbi continues with some Jewish history under the Romans and how the loss of their Temple in 70CE led theologians to reconsider why bad things happen to good people.

“Rabbi Ya’akov taught: This world is compared to an ante-chamber that leads to Olam Ha-Ba, (the World-to-Come)” (Pirkei Avot 4:21). That is, while a righteous person might suffer in this Gehinnomlifetime, he or she will certainly be rewarded in the next world, and that reward will be much greater. In fact, in some cases, the rabbis claim that the righteous are made to suffer in this world so that their reward will be that much greater in the next (Leviticus Rabbah 27:1)

It’s hard to be truly righteous, though, and only those who qualify are allowed automatic entry into Gan Eden. Everyone else, no matter how good they try to be, will wind up in Gehinnom for a year first to go through some torture of the soul and think about what they’ve done. Only the truly horrible will have to remain there, although there is debate about what happens next, eternal torture or soul destruction. Either way, it’s unfun.

Back to my point, what would Jesus have been thinking about when he warned about hell? Certainly not hell as people today think of it. The hellfire, circles of doom concept is pretty new, all things considered, and much of it the fault of translators. Earlier bible stories make no reference to an afterlife of doom even when it seems like a good time to mention it.

Back to Billy (mis)quoting Jesus (who never would have used the word “hell” at the time):

He declared, “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5).

When was Luke’s gospel written? Harvard House offers up some archeological findings that may link to people Luke (or whatever author, there’s debate) wrote about in Acts. It’s suggested in there that Luke was traveling with Paul by 50CE for sure and Acts was written after the Gospel of Luke. Plus, since none of the Gospels mention the 70CE temple destruction (even though Jesus predicted it), Luke has to be an early book. Personally, I think saying Jesus predicted that is like saying Nostradamus predicted Hitler; it’s easy enough to look back through history and find links to prophecies long after the fact.

But anyway, back to Billy:

But listen: God doesn’t want us to go there! If we do, it will only be because of our stubborn desire to leave God out of our lives. God doesn’t hate us; he loves us, and that is why he has provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and go to be with him in heaven.

Christianity has since twisted up the idea of hell to mean “the place non-Christians go” or “the place bad Christians go,” depending on when and how they broach the subject, and who they’re targeting. More often than not, it seems they’ll use it as a means of domination, fear, and control. It’s not always “Be good and come to heaven, it’s a wonderful town!” but “Be like us or else!!” It’s made worse when you see so-called Christians cheering and praying for people to end up there.

It’s far nicer being an atheist, I say. All I have to do is commit to being the best person I can possibly be and die knowing I was liked and useful as opposed to a pain the ass lazy jerk. That’s something, at least.

Death and disease bother me

August 27, 2010

I’d been to a skeptics meeting earlier this week and wound up bolting from it somewhere in the middle of a discussion over how people learn they have multiple sclerosis. I’m enough of a hypochondriac as it is without questioning every weird pain or twinge and thinking the worst.

The reason we were talking about that is because Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s Premier, has okay’d the use of new money to fund research into a treatment for MS that has many doctors skeptical. The treatment is called liberation therapy and involves angioplasty and the jugular vein. Anecdotal evidence provided by some who’ve had this done swear it’s fixed their MS.

Liberation therapy has been hotly debated among MS patients since Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni published results of a recent study that posits MS as a vascular disorder caused by vein blockages that lead to a buildup of iron in the brain rather than an autoimmune disease.

By opening constricted veins, he reportedly improved the condition of 65 patients.

But, it turns out that only 55% or so of MS sufferers have this vein problem. What’s more, up to 22% of people without MS might also have this vein problem. Therefore, the veins probably aren’t the problem.

It also isn’t clear how many people Zamboni would have rejected in order to get his 65 patients to play with.

Is this a new explanation for the cause of MS?

Is angioplasty of the jugular veins a potential new treatment ?

Many experts are sceptical.

They say at this stage there is no proof of a causal link between blood flow and MS.

There is uncertainty about the level of pressure needed in the blood vessels in the brain for red cells containing iron to cross the blood brain barrier.

The MS society says there have been no clinical trials of the procedure and much more work is needed.

“We need more investigation – more scientific research into cause and effect,” Gianfranco acknowledges.

Early results out of studies done in Sweden and Germany seem to indicate this is a whole pile of hooey, regardless. Although, I’m sure they use more scientific terminology than I do.

Now I move to Christopher Hitchens and his current predicament, using the handy “leading the witness” headline of this article: Will Christopher Hitchens Go Straight To Hell?

The article winds up being a lot kinder than the headline would suggest, actually.

This truth is that we are fundamentally weak, needy and anxious creatures who desperately need a god to soothe us.

This may sound like weakness to the atheist or even to an agnostic. Certainly many agnostics, such as Sigmund Freud, can die bravely and in pain without succumbing to religious inclinations, which to a Freudian would be characterized as projection or hallucination.

But a genuinely religious person understands that human weakness is not a form of moral depravity. It is, rather, an insight into his or her moral condition.

Human beings are not at their best when they deny their own fragility. The human condition alone is not a self-sufficient one, according to the religious.

What’s more, religious souls can open up to the world rather than simply becoming the fanatics portrayed in Hitchens’ polemic, God Is Not Great.

And yet, this author chose that particular headline, highlighting the fact that fanatics like those portrayed in Hitchen’s book will likely celebrate his demise and want hell to be a part of his future. Why do that? I suppose it’s because more people would click the link than if there was some generic title lacking all the doom and gloom.

I don’t need a god to soothe me. Friends and family can do a good enough job of that should I need it. I’m also wondering about that weakness as insight into moral condition thing. Weakness isn’t evidence of depravity, but bad morals still lead to illness and punishment via disease? What’s actually being said there? I’m somewhat confused.

He’s in for a hard enough time and people still want worse for him. I just don’t get that mentality. You don’t have to agree with a person to have sympathy for him, do you?

Wherein a Facebook friend asks a good question

July 24, 2010


is wondering…..why is it a STAIRWAY 2 heaven but a HIGHWAY 2 hell?

My reply:

Because heaven takes work, but hell’s pretty easy to get to?

Comedic Interlude II — because it’s better

July 14, 2010

Mrs. Peggy Parks, who’d recently made it into Heaven, was congratulating herself on the fact that she really was that kind of a terrific Christian that makes her way into paradise without too much fear of otherwise. When looking over the fence at all those folks way, way, waaaaaay down in the pits of Hell, she knew she was very fortunate. Then she panicked, because that made it sound like she was proud of herself, and pride’s a sin.

Luckily, nobody’s inner angel felt the need call her on it — it was something of an illicit addiction everyone had, wandering over to look down on Those Folks once in a while; it was kind of like getting away with watching Jerry Springer. Instead, she was called for supper.

The meal was simple fare; a heel of bread, a bowl of rather bland broth (“Is it also a sin to envy anyone with a bottle of Mrs. Dash?” she tried to stop herself from wondering), and a short glass of water the flavour of..well, not much at all, really. Still, soul food is soul food; mustn’t grumble. Much.

St. Peter joined her at the table a moment later, bringing his habitual supply of Gerkens (not the pickles, sadly) candles, which he carefully set into the plain granite holders and lit before seating himself on the hard bench to pray over his own nearly empty plate.

As they slurped the broth and tried to chew their slices of the stale loaf, Mrs. Parks felt compelled to ask St. Peter about something she’d noticed.

“Um, Pete,” she still couldn’t get over how informal the whole place was. “I noticed those poor souls over the fence–

“God damn them, and quite properly too,” interjected Peter, mumbling around the dry bread and spitting crumbs across the table.

“Um yes,” she agreed hastily, wiping the crumbs onto the floor with a nervous sweep of her hand. “I saw that they had quite the gourmet spread down there. I’m sure I saw prime ribs, lobster, Beluga caviar, tiramisu, and what looked to be a very rare bottle of port from quite a good year.” It took the sin of creating some binoculars out of the ether about the place just to make sure she was correct – sin on top of sin there; she really was going to get herself in trouble one of these days. She got on with her question, speaking quickly, “And I was just wondering if we’d be having something similar up here, perhaps, sometime?” That bottle was really preying on her mind.

“Nah, Pegs” said Peter, rubbing the remains of broth and crumbs off his lips with the sleeve of his miraculous, self cleaning robe. “There’s so few of us up here, it’s hardly worth the effort to make a big meal.”

*got the original joke from my great aunt but felt like it needed a bit more elaboration.