Today’s found on Facebook – Matthew McConaughey’s thoughts on religion

June 23, 2016

He has a new movie out (Free State of Jones) where he plays Newton Knight, a Confederate soldier who rebelled against the Confederacy. The Daily Beast provides this quote from the actor talking about the film and explaining what he thinks is wrong with America (and everything else):

“It is my personal belief that mankind has bastardized religion,” he says. “Religion actually means, if you look up the Latin root, ‘re’ which means again, and ‘ligare,’ which means to bind together. It means exactly the opposite of what and how we are often practicing it these days!

“All of this, the abolition of slavery in the Civil War at this time, they were almost all led by religious movements—Christian movements—that were trumping the ideals that everyone else had. They went further into it and said, ‘No, this is not right—because of the Bible.’”

Sigh. First, we’ll sort out the etymology of “religion” – turns out a few different thoughts on its origin are around. Related to monastic vows, belief in divine power, piety, respect for the sacred, etc…

However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare “to bind fast” (see rely), via notion of “place an obligation on,” or “bond between humans and gods.” In that case, the re- would be intensive. Another possible origin is religiens “careful,” opposite of negligens. In English, meaning “particular system of faith” is recorded from c. 1300; sense of “recognition of and allegiance in manner of life (perceived as justly due) to a higher, unseen power or powers” is from 1530s.

So, I’ll just throw a minor correction at Mr. McConaughey: mankind invented the idea of religion and, as evidenced by its changing definition, people have been changing their minds for centuries on what it means on a personal level and what it means culturally. It stands for different things at different points of history.

Much the same way as people for all of written history have reinterpreted the Bible and rewritten the so called Word of God for “modern” audiences. Tyndale Archive lists a shit ton more than a hundred of the ones in English alone. Old souls love to stick to the King James (1611) but I know the New International Version (1978) is also commonly quoted.

I love how he’s pointing to the Bible as the reason Newton decided to go against his compatriots and for the reason people aboloshed slavery. Have you read a Bible lately, Mr. McConaughey? Or thought to Google how often slavery is condoned and encouraged in there? The guys who wanted slaves could also point to the Bible as proof they were right to be White and continue to mistreat anyone who wasn’t. A couple easy finds right here:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Peter 2:18:)

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

It’s called cherry picking, and everyone can use it to point to the Bible and claim they’re correct in whatever manner of thinking they feel is correct, all because they found a line or two in one of the books they happen to agree with.

The Smithsonian has a great article explaining the history of Knight and how the film got made, and what people around Jones County have to say about this man and this bit of local history. Sounds like his descendants are still struggling under his name and legacy. At least, the black ones.

Dorothy Knight Marsh and Florence Knight Blaylock are the great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel. After many decades of living in the outside world, they are back in Soso, Mississippi, dealing with prejudice from all directions. The worst of it comes from within their extended family. “We have close relatives who won’t even look at us,” says Blaylock, the older sister, who was often taken for Mexican when she lived in California.

Both women appear in the film in a courthouse scene.

This is probably not a movie I’ll watch. I’m not much for historical drama. I will be listening to The Dollop later today, though, because they have a piece on this guy and if it’s anything like what they did for the story of Hugh Glass from The Revenant, it will be terrific.


Today’s Found of Facebook – God can’t co-pilot Ark; hits Coast Guard vessel

June 11, 2016

Via gCaptain:

A 230-foot long replica of Noah’s Ark collided with a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel as it arrived in Oslo, Norway on Friday, causing damage to both ships.

Media says the wooden replica, built by a Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers after he dreamed of a flood in his home town, was being towed into Oslo harbor when it somehow lost control and crashed into the moored patrol vessel Nornen.

Watching the video its hard to tell exactly what happened, but photos posted by Norwegian media show a big hole in the side of the Ark’s wooden hull.

The Ark is now owned by the Ark of Noah Foundation, which was planning on bringing the educational vessel across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games this summer.

Media reports said there were no animals on board when the collision occurred.

The Ark just sort of lists to the side and taps into the Nornen. As far as the locals walking/running by, they don’t seem interested in watching the collision. I know nothing about boats but maybe rudder failure? Someone at the wheel who’s never actually tried driving a boat before, or has but nothing so wide and bulky?

The Smithsonian reported on some Ark science a few years back. Students out of the University of Leicester crunched the numbers for their study and theorized it was “possible” after deciding on the average length of a cubit (the measurement varies in the Bible), picking which density of wood to work with, and doing the math on buoyancy and water displacement.

Using the density of cypress, they calculated the weight of this hypothetical ark: 1,200,000 kilograms (by comparison the Titanic weighed about 53,000,000 kilograms). Based on the density of sea water, they figured out that an empty box-shaped ark would float with it’s hull only dipping 0.34 meters into the water.

But what about an ark filled with human and animal cargo? Working backwards they assumed that the maximum weight would put the waterline right just below the top of the ark—if the ark is immersed beyond it’s full height, water would spill into the vessel and the ark would capsize.

(snip)

A boat sunk to its max in the water while still staying afloat could easily take on water from any breaching waves. And according to Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, the strength of a wooden beam decreases with its size, so because when things get bigger they break more easily, the beams that held this huge ark together might have been extremely fragile. Else the beams were short, which would also introduce structural weaknesses due to the higher number of seams between wood planks.

And so on. Doable, but not bloody likely, in my opinion, given the era it supposedly was built and what people had for tools at the time. But people still love to love the Ark and all its insanity…


Today’s Facebook Find – putting the hex on Brock Allen Turner

June 10, 2016

Via Papermag:

An estimated 600 witches around the world gathered on Tuesday night, at 10 PM (Central Time), to place hexes on Stanford University rapist Brock Allen Turner, his scumbag father, Dan A. Turner, and Aaron Persky, the judge who presided over his unbelievably unjust trial.

Organized in a shadowy Facebook group, aptly named “The Hexing of Brock Turner,” the witches–predominately female with a few men sprinkled in–conducted various Pagan-related rituals to promote karmic retribution on the goblin sex felon.

While some merely lit candles and prayed to the Goddess, others went dark, using dog and cat shit, as well as placing a photo of him in “nasty ointment, urine, spit and hex words.”

He was cursed with a variety of things like impotency, nightmares, the gypsy curse from Thinner, and “the constant pain of pine needles in your gut” which I guess would be prickly.

I don’t know how we’re supposed to know if this works, though.


Watched Expelled today

June 5, 2016

Saskatoon’s CFI affiliate watched the film Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed this afternoon. The whole film is available on Youtube if you want to put yourself through it.

It’s a “documentary” that plays fast and loose with the notion of facts and tries to claim that Intelligence Design is not only a valid theory better than evolution, but that educators and scientists who support it are run out of town, discredited and essentially thrown in ideological gulags for the rest of eternity for daring to suggest it. He does liken their treatment to gulags in the film and includes stock footage of guillotines and concentration camps and the Berlin Wall because “Darwinists” are close-cousins to Nazis, apparently.

Ben Stein and his team were unscrupulous in twisting everything to fit their agenda. A Scientific American article lists six of the most egregious ways the show manipulated its audience. I’ll include their list, but read the article for full details. (This opinion piece from NBC goes into some of this, too.)

1) Expelled quotes Charles Darwin selectively to connect his ideas to eugenics and the Holocaust.
2) Ben Stein’s speech to a crowded auditorium in the film was a setup.
3) Scientists in the film thought they were being interviewed for a different movie.
4) The ID-sympathetic researcher whom the film paints as having lost his job at the Smithsonian Institution was never an employee there.
5) Science does not reject religious or “design-based” explanations because of dogmatic atheism.
6) Many evolutionary biologists are religious and many religious people accept evolution.

Like Eugenie Scott, who was one of the unfortunates targeted for interviews for this film. She’s Catholic.

I also recall P.Z. Myers writing about his experience with it. I was a fan of his blog at the time and remember this being a topic. He wrote an amusing post about trying to go watch the film he was interviewed for. He was booted from line but his guest, Richard Dawkins (also interviewed), got in without difficulty.

We were trying to remember if this film came before or after the Intelligent Design trial. Kitzmiller v. Dover was 2005 and this film was release in 2008.

In the legal case Kitzmiller v. Dover, tried in 2005 in a Harrisburg, PA, Federal District Court, “intelligent design” was found to be a form of creationism, and therefore, unconstitutional to teach in American public schools.

As the first case to test a school district policy requiring the teaching of “intelligent design,” the trial attracted national and international attention. Both plaintiffs and defendants in the case presented expert testimony over six weeks from September 26 through November 4, 2005). On December 20, 2005, Judge John E. Jones issued a sharply-worded ruling in which he held that “intelligent design” was, as the plaintiffs argued, a form of creationism.

Ball State University in Indiana hired Guillermo Gonzalez to be an assistant professor of astronomy in 2013. He was one of the educators Stein interviewed.

In 2008 Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, essentially a form of termination, after which he taught at Grove City College, a Christian liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, before landing at Ball State.

As of May 10th this year, they gave tenure to a guy named Eric Hedin, also for the astronomy department.

A “Boundaries of Science” class taught by Hedin reportedly promoted the idea that nature displays evidence of intelligent design, in contrast to an undirected process like evolution.

In 2013, Ball State President Jo Ann Gora decided ID was not an appropriate subject for a science class after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation about Hedin’s course. After an investigation by a panel of academic experts, Gora said ID, which some call pseudoscience, was overwhelmingly regarded by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory.

But they gave him tenure and Gonzalez is on a tenure track. Added to that, he’s a fellow for the Discovery Institute, the biggest group pushing for ID inclusion.

Michael J.I. Brown, an observational astronomer at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, told The Star Press in 2014 it was a “remarkable coincidence” that two astronomers who believe in ID ended up at Ball State. Two ID-believing astronomers winding up in the same modestly sized astrophysics department by random chance are as unlikely as two astronomers who own chimpanzees ending up in the same department, Brown said.

Ars Technica reported in April 2016 about an Ohio school district pushing the “teach the controversy” angle.

Zack Kopplin, an activist who has tracked attempts to sneak religious teachings into science classrooms, found a bit of sneaking going on in Youngstown, Ohio. There, a document hosted by the city schools includes a lesson plan that openly endorses intelligent design and suggests the students should be taught that there’s a scientific controversy between it and evolution.

The document focuses on the “Diversity of Life” and is a bizarre mix of normal science and promotion of intelligent design. Most of the first page, for example, is taken up by evolution standards that have language that echoes that of the Next Generation Science Standards. But the discussion is preceded by a statement that’s straight out of the “teach the controversy” approach: “The students examine the content of evolution and intelligent design and consider the merits and flaws of both sides of the argument.” In fact, elsewhere in the document, teachers are told to host a debate where students take turns arguing for evolution and intelligent design.

For a science class I think that’s a colossal waste of class time. Setting up both sides as if they’re in any way on equal footing does a great disservice to actual scientific advancement and understanding. Sure, there are gaps in the knowledge. It’s to be expected. Every year we know more but we’ll never know everything and while the ID side may think it’s somehow egotistical for scientists to claim their theories for origins are valid ideas (from mineral starts to panspermia), it doesn’t make any logical sense to slap a creator into the gap instead and consider the whole thing solved that way.

Thoughts?


Can’t your god make a better miracle than poop stains in a diaper?

May 25, 2016

It was making headlines recently, a poop smear in the shape of a cross in a newborn baby’s diaper. Big poopie whoopie. Wonkette reports via Patheos that the mother, Katy Vasquez, took to Facebook to show the world this miraculous discovery.

This sign came in the oddest form. My babies poop. I went to change his diaper, and he pooped a cross. It might not be the prettiest sign, but he put it where he knew I’d see it. In my babies diaper. Lol. Hard to miss what’s right there in front of you.

If you can, or want to, feel free to share the message. That God is with us. And he gives us signs to let us know that things will be OK. It’s not always the prettiest sign, but he puts it where he knows we’ll see it. We’re good most of the time, but God is good all the time.

I’m sharing, all right — not because of gods, but because of belief in gods and how far gods appear to have fallen in terms of making themselves known to their believers. A poopy diaper? Really? Is that the best trick he’s got? Taking advantage of fabric and natural wrinkles and bodily functions?

While looking for this particular news story, my search also highlighted Yahoo Answers where the question is asked, Did Jesus poop on the cross? The “best” answer comes from someone going by the handle of Non-Believers are Dead Inside (spelling errors kept as found):

Well first of all the crucifixes are actaully censored they have Jesus wearing a loin cloth but actually He was naked as a form of public embarisment for the crucified prisoners. And yes they went to the bathroom hanging upon their crosses. In fact when a person is dying it’s not uncommon for that person to wet and soil themselves.
You make fun of things like this now but one day when you get old or when your dying your going to have accidents yourself. There is a reason why companies make diapers for adults.

No sources cited to verify any little factoids here regarding loincloths but I did find an abstract at the National Library of Medicine:

Death, usually after 6 hours–4 days, was due to multifactorial pathology: after-effects of compulsory scourging and maiming, haemorrhage and dehydration causing hypovolaemic shock and pain, but the most important factor was progressive asphyxia caused by impairment of respiratory movement. Resultant anoxaemia exaggerated hypovolaemic shock. Death was probably commonly precipitated by cardiac arrest, caused by vasovagal reflexes, initiated inter alia by severe anoxaemia, severe pain, body blows and breaking of the large bones. The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim.

So, really, pooping yourself would have been the least of your worries.

Back to gods and miracles, though. I’ll have to invoke The Great God Om now. As a Terry Pratchett fan from way, way, way back, I highly recommend his book Small Gods.

The one true god of Omnia has gone through a bad time. Om transformed himself into a tortoise at some point in the past but, due to the lack of true believers now, he’s stuck in this low form. The loudest, most obnoxious religious folk don’t believe in him as much as they pretend they do so they don’t hear him call for help, or writhe in agony as he curses them. In fact, the only real believer he has left is Brutha, a pathetic novice at the temple who can barely hoe the lettuce but knows the books of Om upside down and sideways and Believes in him completely. Om must take Brutha on the path to becoming the next prophet, no matter how difficult a task it may be.

The Turtle Moves. And it should move into your bookshelves immediately.


Thanksgiving Satan Weekend part 4

October 13, 2014

I’m Canadian and for Thanksgiving weekend I decided to give thanks to the fact that I live in a country where I can do this and have a bit of fun. Also, we’re approaching Halloween and dark, sinister stories are more likely to be in the news right now, just like “We really found Christ’s tomb this time!” articles pop up at Easter.

Not that dead animals are fun. I don’t wish to make light of any crimes perpetrated by whichever individuals would have been involved.

Fourth and second last piece, satanism accused of being behind recent animal beheadings in Colorado.

one person posting on the Wheat Ridge Police Department Facebook page claims to have knowledge of the perpetrators.

“It’s the Satan worshippers that always have rituals back in there, along with Prospect Park,” he writes. “I know where they tend to have them and always find evidence to prove they have been there…. Most times it’s Thursdays and Saturday nights about 2 a.m. I saw them sacrifice a chicken once. That was three years or so ago.”

Maybe next time you think you see something like this going down, instead of playing Rogue Detective all on your own, call 911 and report the behaviour and the location. Satanists or no, it’d definitely fit in some category of criminal activity and the police can look into it for you. You’re probably not on Kolchak’s level and you’re definitely not Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Back to serious. I found another article about animal deaths, this time being linked to black magic and Santaria in New York. (Yes, I know Santaria is not satanism.)

Detective Marcos Quinones runs seminars on Occult Recognition Training and was quoted in the piece, offering suggestions about what religious/occult motivations may have been in play there.

Another local animal death case, the mass killing of cats decapitated, bludgeoned andhung from trees in Yonkers is less easy to pin down. Quionones said hanging the bags of cats was ritualistic in itself. “It could be anything from Satanism to Santeria to Palo Mayombe,” he said. Or, it could just be “someone who wanted to [get] rid of cats.”

I’d make a joke about the need to spay and neuter both pets and any sacrificial animals you have, but that seems a bit tactless.

Hopefully they’ll find out who was responsible.


Another reminder not to believe everything on the internet.

October 12, 2014

I just wrote about this, too, but now it appears the whole anti-Christian Viking company vs Christian chick was kind of a sham.

The CBC’s investigative reporter, Natalie Clancy, got her initial story half-right. Bethany was the subject of an anti-Christian tirade. But she didn’t lose a job over it – there was no job to be had. It appears to be an elaborate hoax.

We all make mistakes. Bethany was real, as were the hateful e-mails. And Amaruk’s elaborate website seemed real enough, at first glance.

The CBC was just as much a victim of a hoax as was Bethany. But the CBC, which raised the same questions about Amaruk in a follow-up story, shouldn’t abandon the story now. They should find out who has been impersonating a tourism company – and even filing fake reports on an Industry Canada website. Amaruk’s Twitter feed has just one entry on it – but follows a host of B.C.-based environmental extremist groups and gay activists. It could be that Amaruk is a bizarre secret project of a public B.C. leftist activist. Will the CBC follow up?

Wild.