Yeshua is on a mission.
In the Daily Beast, Michael Schulson wrote an article called, “Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience.” He basically reams it as worse, or as worse, as the Creation Museum (or the creationism in general).
From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.
My own local Whole Foods is just a block away from the campus of Duke University. Like almost everything else near downtown Durham, N.C., it’s visited by a predominantly liberal clientele that skews academic, with more science PhDs per capita than a Mensa convention.
Still, there’s a lot in your average Whole Foods that’s resolutely pseudoscientific. The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver. The book section—yep, Whole Foods sells books—boasts many M.D.’s among its authors, along with titles like The Coconut Oil Miracle and Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer, which was written by a theologian and based on what the author calls the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System.
Thank goodness for this article!
Go read the article here.
I tuned into the live debate stream of the meeting between Bill Nye and Ken Ham the other night.
My response(s) boiled down to little more than this:
I accept science, and the day it gets jammed in the copier is not the day I get my believing legs back. I’m not for belief. I was taught to be a creationist. And the more I researched it, and the more I was told science and evolution were wrong, the more I discovered that creationism/Intelligent Design was simply a limp, lifeless dead horse.
Plain and simple. If perfection authored the magnanimity of the universe, the beauty of plants and animals on this planet, and also penned the Bible, writing words, phrases, catch phrases, prose, dynamic literature, ideas with foresight, those things are not that guy’s forte.
I’ve been having fun reading some of the responses to the debate. Check them out below.
If you have any interest in this topic, I recommend all of the above links. I ended with Phil Plait, because he is responding directly to those who have been taught to accept
On our ride down to North Carolina, Tina took over driving for a few hours. I took the time to rest my eyes and catch up on social media.
On my Facebook feed, a young, Catholic girl posted an article that blew my mind. I mean. I’m dying to see how this current pope is going to change the current dismal perspective of Catholicism, but this particular article threw their efforts into overdrive.
Here’s the article if you want to read it.
The title reads: “POPE FRANCIS CONDEMNS RACISM AND DECLARES THAT “ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE” AT HISTORIC THIRD VATICAN COUNCIL”
And then the mind blowing began.
This in particular:
In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”
“God is changing and evolving as we are, For God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it. The Bible is a beautiful holy book, but like all great and ancient works, some passages are outdated. Some even call for intolerance or judgement. The time has come to see these verses as later interpolations, contrary to the message of love and truth, which otherwise radiates through scripture. In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!”
The words in that article, this passage above included, would almost — ***ALMOST*** — cure me of disbelief.
This section was pure gold:
Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity.
When I read most of the article to Tina, her response was, “Man, I’d consider becoming a Catholic again.”
That’s the rub.
The article is so well written and so ideal to what the church should do, but it gets too caught up in hoity toity, we’re right, they’re wrong bullshit.
It took three paragraphs before I said to myself, and Tina, “This is satire. We’ve been duped.”
So I looked further at the web site it was hosted on and sure enough, the site is satire.
Gold, though. Gold. Pure greatness.
Cheers to those folks at Diversity Chronicle. That was the closest I’ve been in a LONG time to consider even considering the consideration of a considerate thought about admiring the church.
And then you see stuff like this story (about how white American evangelicals reject science), and all that hope for the world is a flatulent balloon sound.
But then there’s the following, and my hopes are rejuvenated.
Christmas is finally almost here. And we can finally start decorating the house, bake some cookies, visit with family and friends and spread good cheer to all.
My appreciation for Christmas has been a roller coaster ride.
Growing up, Christmas meant presents, stocking, toys, and a big Turkey dinner. It meant bikes, batteries, putting toys together and blinky lights.
We usually found our presents before hand, so the surprise was usually a lesson in Academy-Award-winning acting.
Hell, my brother is the absolute WORST secret keeper. So when he learned Santa wasn’t real at age 7 (I was 5), guess what the first words out of his mouth were Christmas morning as my foot hit the last step and I hadn’t even seen the Christmas tree or presents yet?
“Santa’s not real.”
I was so emotionally distraught. I was 10 parts excited and 100 parts destroyed by the idea my parents, friends and family lied to me for five years of my life.
I remember lying in bed — before learning that dreadful news — on Christmas eve staring at the ceiling waiting for hoofs to prance across our roof. I stared out the window at the moon hoping for Santa to silhouette against the moon.
Perhaps this early awakening to the truth of parents teaching kids about fictional characters planted the seed that helped me drop religion.
Christmas for us was about the presents. And as much as we wanted to think it was about Jesus, our saviors’ birth, it was about the loot and the bragging rights when we got back to school from the Winter break.
I went through a “I hate Christmas” phase in my 20s and early 30s. I’m still not a huge fan. I find it to be an egregiously non-religious religious holiday. You know, it’s the way of the church. There’s unconditional love with conditions. There is all-knowing savior who still needs us to let him know what’s up with prayers, requests and adulation.
Time at home with family meant large levels of stress. It’s still stressful, but I work through that stress with an unhealthily healthy amount of alcohol and repetitions of affirmations.
But I like Christmas again. I like it because it means the days are going to start getting longer. I like it, because it’s time to get some needed respite from an otherwise busy schedule.
I wish there wasn’t a “War on Christmas.” I wish people took accountability for their own attitudes for the holiday. And if someone says “Happy Holidays,” wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This morning, I read a piece from Dan Savage about his response to Sarah Palin’s book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
And while I loved the writing and how he logically throws down on stupid-ass Sarah Palin, it perpetuates an ugliness. I mean, regardless of how convoluted Sarah Palin’s views are on the mythological “war on Christmas,” we can’t go around expecting it to get better if we keep bashing the hell out of her.
I liked this part in particular:
1. Who holds Christmas in contempt? Who? Where are these people? I’m a secular humanist—there’s an award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation on my mantel just inches from my Christmas tree—and here I am, at home on a Saturday morning, baking Christmas cookies for my family. Not holiday cookies. Christmas cookies. I’ll be taking some across the street to share with my Jewish neighbors later today. They love Christmas. And no one is trying to “save” Christmas from its heritage. We have a crèche for the baby Jesus and strings of lights for the Roman god Saturn. We honor Christmas’s religious heritage—the Christian and non-Christian bits.
But maybe Palin is asking for the ridicule and directed attacks. If we’re to believe that she begins the book talking about how she bought a gun for Todd in the wake of the anti-gun crazy that happened, well, let me let Savage write it:
Page 5: Here I learn something I didn’t know and, if I were Sarah Palin, something I wouldn’t want anyone to know. But Sarah hustles this fact to the front of the book because she sure as hell wants us to know it: Sarah surprised Todd with a “nice, needed, powerful gun” for Christmas in 2012. It was a “small act of civil disobedience,” Palin writes, prompted by “the anti-gun chatter coming from Washington.”
What was inspiring that anti-gun chatter in Washington in December of 2012? Oh, right: Twenty children and six teachers were shot dead in their classrooms by a deranged asshole with a “powerful gun.” And before the grieving mothers and fathers of Newtown, Connecticut, could put their dead children in the ground, Sarah Palin ran out gun shopping. Buying Todd a gun in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was “fun,” Palin writes—and, again, an act of “civil disobedience.” Because gun nuts are a persecuted minority.
Crazier thing: my family LOVES Palin.
Sarah Palin, that deranged, megalomaniac with absolutely no fucking clue as to what this country is all about, diversity, freedom of speech, freedom of life, love and happiness.
Freedom that we all get to enjoy, including her, Dan Savage, you and me.
We all get to love or hate Christmas. We don’t all have to have the same views of every fucking idea that you hold sacred.
If you’re racist, I can have the view that you suck. If you think women’s rights to vote are what’s wrong in America, I get to have the view that you’re an asshole. If you love guns and shout it from the rooftops, I get to respond. And vice versa.
Freedom of speech includes my freedom to respond.
Freedom to celebrate Christmas is another person’s freedom to not celebrate.
Me? I love Christmas. I’m all for keeping the “Christ” in Christmas. And I hope you do, too. He’s not my savior. He’s not my idea of a cool guy. But if he’s yours, get on it. Love it. Own it. And when you get criticized, bask in the glory that you win in heaven.
Despite the Catholic Church being mired in anti-gay and pro-pedophile bullshit over the past however long, TIME Names Pope Francis Person Of The Year.
Good job, Time. You’ve shown us that perfuming a turd is completely possible.
On my Facebook feed, I saw that Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta posted about a John Shore article regarding two people discussing the possibility of hell. If you don’t know John Shore, he’s a flamboyantly liberal Christian who advocates things like LGBT rights and tells people there’s no hell.
On the surface, the John Shore post is a good discussion. It’s one of those ideas I let go of long before letting go of faith. Hell is one of the easiest ideas that has little basis in biblical rationale. It’s an idea perpetuated by extra-biblical folklore and legend, namely Dante’s inferno and Hieronymus Bosch paintings.
Believe all you want about salvation, but hell is so, let’s say, silly.
And when I read the John Shore article, I thought, this is pretty good. But then I started scratching my head. The lead-in reads:
(While sitting at Starbucks yesterday I overheard the following conversation between two men I’ll call Christian and Tom. Christian was trying to evangelize to Tom. As you’ll see, Tom ended up wiping the floor with Christian. Why? Because Tom was right: the whole concept of the Christian hell is manifest nonsense, for the reason he so well articulated. Here’s hoping that more Christians hear what the Toms of the world are trying to tell them.)
So what’s written below the lead in, I’m under the impression John Shore dictated the entire conversation onto his laptop or a legal pad.
You can read it here. Here’s a snippet to whet your whistle:
Tom: But what you’re saying simply doesn’t make any sense.
Christian: What doesn’t?
Tom: That if I don’t believe in the reality of the same God that you just told me loves me, then that God will condemn me to hell for all eternity. How could God love meand do that to me?
Christian: Because God loves you enough to let you decide your own fate.
Tom: But that doesn’t change the fact that if I choose to not believe in God, God could, if he wanted, still not send me to hell. He could commute my sentence. He could forgive me for the mistaken choice I made. God has that power, right? Because he’s all-powerful?
Christian: God can do anything.
Tom: Which means he can certainly choose not to send me to hell. And that can only mean that if I do end up in hell, it was God’s will that made that happen. Ultimately God wanted me in hell—so that’s where I ended up. God actively chose hell for me.
Christian: You chose hell for yourself by refusing to accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.
Mind you, I’m all for perpetuating the non-existence of hell. But I have a problem with people perpetuating the idea that John Shore dictated this conversation directly from two strangers’ discussion.
Doesn’t it read a little like one of those stories a preacher tells in a sermon? You know, one that is so obviously made up or embellished that it couldn’t possibly have happened exactly the way it happened in the retelling.
I’m under the impression that the two people were all in John Shore’s mind and it’s a conversation he had with himself based on other conversations he’s had online or read about.
It felt that way, because the Tom character’s dialogue is so long and detailed. There’s absolutely NO way that Shore could ever grab every word and nuance and put it down on his laptop.
So, while I’m down for the no-hell argument, I’m calling bullshit on John Shore that this probably didn’t happen.
But if the following was true to what someone told another person, then high fives to Tom. That guy knows what he’s talking about (emphasis mine):
Christian: Hell is just God’s judgment upon the sinner who refuses to accept his love.
Tom: You’ve got to understand that you’re using words to mean what they don’t actually mean at all. In fact, you’re using words to mean the exact opposite of what they mean. You don’t choose an eternity of torture for someone you love. And if you do choose that for someone for the reason you’re saying your God does choose that for people, that is not justice. That’s injustice. Look: After I’m dead, God either has the power to send me to heaven instead of hell, or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t have that power, then he’s too weak to matter. If he does have the power to send me to heaven instead of hell, and he wills me to go to hell, then he is without compassion–or at the very least he certainly doesn’t love me. But those are the only two choices. By your own definition, God is either not all-powerful, or not all-loving. But he can’t be all-powerful and all loving, if I—a nice guy, a loving guy, a guy who gives to charities and actually does help people in the world—can end up in hell. It just doesn’t make sense. I can’t love somebody and shoot them in the head because they refuse to answer my phone calls.
This morning, I read of brilliant, modern methods of evil spirit removal in Afghanistan.
Here’s a snip:
The ceilings are low and damp, and there are no fans in the summer or heating in the winter.
‘The patient is kept in chains for 40 days on a diet of bread with black pepper,’ said Malik, the shrine supervisor. ‘He is given this to make bad spirits goes away. When someone is infected by ghosts, we read verses of the Koran, and married women without children give them amulets to make the spirits depart.’
‘It has been the same for 360 years, and thousands of people have been cured.’
In a recent article from FOX News, they write what we all knew: “[T]he Bible is fiction.”
For more, read it … in context …
Above is a documentary film about how a little boy had a Near Death Experience and lived to tell about it. Everything in this movie is a fact and it all happened. It was by no means conflated or embellished by his family or, namely his father, who happens to be Greg Kinnear.
Great things happen to Hollywood’s A-list.
It was great that they had cameras there to document everything there and at the below trailer for another documentary about the event that reminds us all that humanity is the result of a hateful calamity followed by the wildest incestuous relations known to the world.
In the story of Noah, the all powerful creator of the universe is so frustrated by evil of his creation, that he destroys everyone. Everyone except Noah, his wife and their kids.
It’s amazing how great Noah looks as a 500 years old. He kinda looks a little like Russell Crowe. But damn, for living in a time without plastic surgery or modern medicine, or walkers, the dude gets around quite easily.
And his children! Wow. Could you imagine having the looks of teenagers at the ages of around 475? Lucky genetics, if you ask me.
You have to keep in mind, this was the time of real miracles, so 475 year olds having children is completely possible. Then those children bred with their cousins. Then a few thousand years later, you popped out of your cousin’s mom’s uncle’s vagina scott free (I hope) of any ailments that are usually associated with in-breeding.
Doesn’t it feel good that the providential arm that destroyed disbelievers through a flood vowed/promised/committed never to do it again. Only he had his deity fingers crossed. The next time he destroys disbelievers will be with FIRE!
It’s as if Providence has a love hate relationship with knowledge and education … and rainbows, if you know what I mean.
Oh the soothing touch of a being so bent on destroying disbelief. It’s so much fun to worship!
More on the documentary, or should I write “Docu-drama” here.
Wow yourself with the trailer here.