Thursday, 24 September 2009

GOP Congressman Steve King on Gay Marriage: IT'S SOCIALIST

Republican Douchebag Steve King
Will the stupidity from the right never end? Now Republican Congressman Steve King (Iowa) is claiming that the whole idea of Gay marriage is a socialist one. He says that gays only want to get married so they can steal government benefits that usually go to straight married couples, claiming that the whole idea is one of share and share alike which is totally socialist.

Am I alone in finding this totally stupid? So it is not socialist when straight people marry but it is when homosexuals do? Come on, any second grader could see the flaw in this logic.

What about the people that don't love each other? The straight people that get married to make life easier, or better still, the people who are already married that loathe and detest each other but don't get a divorce so they can keep getting tax breaks and other benefits? There are LOTS of those people out there, and it is perfectly ok for them to do so, because they are straight.

This is just stupid! Lets face it Mr. King, you are using this word, a popular word lately since rightwing assholes like you keep throwing it around without even understanding its real meaning, to cover up your obvious religious, bigoted and homophobic agenda. The worst part: voters who listen to this shit, who are too stupid to really understand what it means, and actually buy it.

Mr. King, with all due respect, shut up! America deserves better.

Quote from Congressman King:

So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there's a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that's the direction we're going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.

Read more at and listen to the clip: Here and Here

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Missed Opportunity - "Left Behind"

The Telegraph has reported on a new service for rapture believing Christians that I can't believe that I didn't think of earlier. Having spent so much time studying business in high school and university I am sorely disappointed in myself!

Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has started a service which, for a mere $110 payment, they will ensure that you pets are well looked after should you be swept up to heaven in the loving arms of Jebus in the coming rapture.

So, what exactly do you get for your $110 dollars?

Well according to their website, they have a self confessed sinners, blasphemers and atheists, all of whom have signed statements that they are moral people with no criminal records. These volunteers, currently spread across 22 states, will take in your pet and care for it in a loving environment. Not a bad investment.

So, whats the catch?

Well if the rapture doesn't happen in the next 10 years, you don't get your money back. You are also excluded from a refund if you loose your faith and end up left behind yourself.

What a wonderful concept, seriously, I wish I had thought of it. It brings together the stupidity and gullibility of these christian nuts, and gets them to part with their hard earned money. At least the money is going for a better cause than funding some hypocritical TV evangelist! I wish these guys the best and hope they make millions!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The story of creation

With logic like this, aren't you glad they are trying to force creationism in schools?

Seriously, I can't believe with all the scientific evidence people still buy into this bullshit theory creation, or at least the biblical account of creation. I think this video does a good job of showing just how stupid the whole idea really is. There may just be a god out there somewhere, though I seriously have my doubts, but I can be pretty certain it is not the god of Moses, Abraham, et al.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Homosexuality is "wrong"... mmmmmkay?

Wow, back from the holiday and house move and I am going straight for a touchy subject, but one I feel quite strongly about. Homosexuality, or rather the total hypocrisy Christianity has when preaching how "wrong" it is to be gay.

I have copped flack any number of times from family, friends and people in general for my support for the gay community, but that hasn't changed my stance and never will. I fully support equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender or other descriptive label we may place on another human being.

Growing up I had a number of friends that were obviously gay. They may not have known it, they may have struggled with it, but I knew, and to me, even as a younger kid, had no problem with it. I didn't believe it was a choice, I knew it was the way they were. Honestly I felt really happy when they finally admitted to themselves that they were gay because I knew it would make them happier. Some others, I have to admit, came as a complete shock, but I was happy for them none the less. It is hard enough to define your place in the world and if you are struggling against the perceived "norms" of society it is even harder, I myself am dealing with a smilier issue with my atheism. It isn't exactly an overly accepted way of life, not in my family or in the country I live in.

Anyway, enough about how I feel, lets get straight to the hypocrisy shall we!

What the Bible says (and thus what Christians spew forth)

In the Old Testament the rules and laws were set down in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This is pretty much were our Christian friends get their ideas on homosexuality.

In the book of Leviticus it says:
Leviticus 18:20
Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

When asking a Christian to justify these verses they often quote the "commandment" of god in Genesis:

Genesis 1:28
Be Fruitful and Multiply
So, this is their argument? In my reading of the above it seems that god has no problem with lesbians, he only refers to men in those passages. This, of course, probably has a lot to do with the fact that women, in the biblical sense, are treated as little more than property, but that really is a discussion for another time.

To me this argument really holds little water, particularly when held up to the other laws we no longer obey. To me it says "I, the Lord your God, created you in my image, yet, in the womb, before you were ever born and through no fault of your own, I made your mind and soul such that it was only compatible with someone from the same sex, but if you act on those urges I will send you straight to hell after having you murdered by your friends and family." What else could it possibly say? I know most Christians believe that homosexuality is a choice, but lets just ignore that because they are simply wrong. People are born homosexual, some people fight it, others accept it, but being born gay is no different than being born with blonde hair or brown eyes, it is just the way we are.

BUT, and this is where it gets good, this little law is right smack dab in the middle of a lot of other laws, laws that we no longer obey because, well, society and our understanding of human nature, anatomy and science has moved on. To throw away those other "wonderful" (read the preceding word with immense levels of sarcasm) laws and yet cling to this one is totally hypocritical, or rather "Very Christian".

Lets look at some of the discard laws:

Kill your kids if they disobey or cause you trouble.

Deuteronomy 21:18 -21
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Well I guess your daughter can get away with murder huh. I really pity the male kids with A.D.D., or who are going through the "terrible twos" or the ever common "teenage angst" period of their life. I am really glad that we have decided to move beyond this little law.

Kill your whole family if they try to lead you from the path of god.
Deuteronomy 13:6-9
If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.
This is really bad for us Atheists or Agnostics who try and help our family see reason. Actually there are many Christians who use this little law still, not to kill people, but to justify banning things such as Yoga, Trantra, meditation and so on because they originated in other religions. While we may still use this rule to justify petty intolerance's, at least society has thrown away the idea of murdering people for something so petty.

Here is one of my favourite absurdities: Menstruating women are unclean, touching them or anything they have touched will make you unclean, and once they are done menstruating they must make both a blood and a burnt sacrifice to God to make themselves clean again.

Leviticus 15:19-23
" 'When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.

" 'Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening.

Leviticus 15:28-30
" 'When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. On the eighth day she must take
two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the LORD for the uncleanness of her discharge.

I mean COME ON. Thankfully this has been done away with as humankind has moved forward. I pose the following challenge to any Christian women reading this that stand against Homosexuality: When was the last time you followed the above passages? When was the last time your husband did?

Lets speed things up a bit, here in rapid succession are a few more lovely laws that no one follows anymore:

A man with injured testicles or who has lost his penis in accident cannot be accepted by god:

Deuteronomy 23:1
No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD.

A bastard (someone born out of wedlock, incidentally ME) cannot be accept by god, nor 10 generations of his children (all of whom are innocent BTW. They are to go to hell for something their great, great, great, etc. grandfather/mother did!)

Deuteronomy 23:2
A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

Can you say "Racism"?

Deuteronomy 23:3
No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation.

God can't stand the sight of handicapped people. The blind, the lame, dwarfs, people with funny noses or blemishes, with damaged testicles, or broken hands or feet, crooked backs, or who have scurvy or scabs, or who have anything superfluous must not approach the altar of God.

Leviticus 21:16-20
The LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron: 'For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.

Honestly I could go on for days! There are enough stupid laws listed that one could write any number of books about it. It is obvious that these laws were not written nor even inspired by some supreme being, but by an ignorant primitive people who hardly knew their ass from a hole in the ground.

If you want to do some more reading on the subject and read some of the absolute corkers, like how long to hang a man, how to deal with poop and how to properly handle semen then I am happy to provide you with some good resources. May I suggest "The Brick Testament" section on "The Law" for a funny lego look at these laws (however, be warned, the author doesn't think it is funny, he is a preacher and believes every word!!) or simply read The Skeptic's Annotated Bible.

In finishing, I know plenty of Christians would say "But this is the old testament, it doesn't really apply now that we have the new testament." Well to them I would say this: If that is so, then quit quoting the old testament to push your hateful agenda against gays! I would also add the words of Jesus as quoted by the Disciple Matthew in the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 5:17-20
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

So sorry there good Christian buddy, your ass is burning in hell with mine because I don't know one of you who has kept the law.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Creation Science 101

With the impending 150th anniversary of the release of Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species, I thought I would share this classic video for those who haven't yet seen it, it is really funny. After the unbelievable anger I have at the Living Waters religious group for their butchering of The Origin of Species, this video helped lighten my mood. More on the Living Waters stunt later, if I can stop convulsing and swearing in absolute anger and disgust of over what they are doing, which you can read about for yourself here.

Also on a side note, I am currently moving house, so it could be a few days before I can post again, due to issues getting the internet hooked up at the new place. So, until I post again, have a pleasant dogma free weekend!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sam Harris with Bill Maher

Special thanks to J.L.K. for pointing this video out to me.

This a good little discussion between Sam Harris and Bill Maher. I have to say that I really like Sam Harris and his ideas. His books, Letter to a Christian Nation and End of Faith, are both great. I can highly recommend these as a must read for anyone on the fence or looking for ammo in defending their non-theist lifestyle. I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

Just to leave off here are a few of my favorite quotes from Sam Harris:

Nothing is more sacred than the facts.
The End of Faith (2004)

It is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the Creator of the universe can hear your thoughts while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window.
The End of Faith (2004)

The problem with faith, is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason, why you do not have to give reasons, for what you believe.
SALT talk 2005

Faith is what credulity becomes when it finally achieves escape velocity from the constraints of terrestrial discourse.
The End of Faith (2004)

Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.
The End of Faith (2004)

The idea that any one of our religions represents the infallible word of the One True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology, and art even to be entertained.... Whatever their imagined source, the doctrines of modern religions are no more tenable than those which, for lack of adherents, were cast upon the scrap heap of mythology millennia ago.
The End of Faith (2004)

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Hypocrisy in Free Speech

This may sound a little funny coming from an anonymous blogger, but this is exactly why I am anonymous. It has become increasingly obvious that theists do not afford us non-theists the same courtesy or rights that they themselves expect and often take for granted.

Take my life on Facebook for example, under the "Religion" question on my account I have used a quote from Robert G. Ingersoll : "Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery". I have been told by quite a number of family members (all of whom are quite religious) that I should remove the quote, that it is disrespectful of their religion. How is that any different than me claiming that their religion being put as "Evangelical" is disrespectful of my beliefs. I would never do such a thing, I respect their right to their own belief, but it seems that I, as a non-theist, am not afforded the same luxuries.

I often post links to interesting stories, sites and videos that have to do with religion, science & reason, as do a couple of my friends. Again we are told off for doing so, told that these videos and sites offend them. If they are so offensive then don't watch videos or visit the websites, is that so hard? When they post links to pro-religious sites and prayers and such and that is perfectly OK, but not when I do it. I don't know how many private (and a few public) messages I have gotten from family members telling me to tone down my "anti-christian rhetoric" and "my hateful message of atheism" while these same people have messages praising God in their status damn near every day! I do not openly attack God or their religion, I simply share poignant quotes, messages, videos, stories and links that make one think, question and learn, yet I am not allowed to have my say and they are?

I have recently been trying to watch what I post and I have actually held back a lot of what I would like to share, being afraid of rocking the boat, but enough is enough. As long as I am not being mean spirited or hateful why should I back down or be silenced in my beliefs, why should any of us? Our non-theist ways and beliefs are just as valid!

Ahhh hypocrisy; isn't it funny how it attaches itself to religion in so many different ways!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Abraham & Isaac - How do we know what is good?

I have seen a number of videos from these guys and this has got to be one of my favorites. My favorite line is "Like I have any chance of forming an independent basis of right and wrong outside the instructions of some supervisory being."

This is the kind of argument that so many Christians throw at us, "how can we know what is good without God". They seem to have absolutely no understanding of morality, ethics or empathy. A christian basing what is "good" on the Bible is an absolute joke! The bible is so full of hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism that any morally decent Christian has obviously never read the bible or they have used their own sense of right and wrong.

These people regularly tell us what we should read and believe in, and how we should act, yet it one probes deeply enough one will find that they themselves haven't read it, or if they have they don't believe it, understand it or follow many of its teachings themselves. That my friends is hypocrisy at its best.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

In God Dog We Trust

Recently, in a forum argument, a theist / believer made the statement that "The United States was Founded on the Christian God, that is why we are 'One Nation Under God' and why we have 'In God We Trust' on our money." There is so much wrong with that statement that I don't even know where to begin, it is a topic for another LONG post. What he said next though is what I want to
talk about today.

The person then went on to say "I can understand how you atheists would be offended by this since you don't believe in God, however I think it is more that you fear his existence and want to take others down with you."

I wont comment on his hateful statement that we want others to go to hell with us because that is just not true, the majority of atheists love their fellow man more than any Christian ever could. However I would like to comment on the statement that we are offended by the use of God in the national pledge, on our money and so on.

While I don't speak for the atheist community, I can say that personally I do not find it "offensive". Most atheists like myself find that it violates the whole separation of church and state and the secular values that this nation was founded on. The believers can argue any way they want, but the fact remains, The United States was formed as a secular nation. Yes, religion played a part (we came to America to escape religious oppression and intolerance), but the government was designed as, and always intended to be, secular.

The phrase "In God We Trust" occasionally appeared on our currency through out history, usually during times of great national strife, such as the Civil war, however it was never a mainstay on our printed or minted currency, nor was it ever a national motto. Like it or not our Motto is "E Pluribus Unum" or "Out of Many, One", which is meant to signify the diversity of peoples and religions that made up this nation. "In God We Trust" was brought in and placed on our printed currency in 1957 as a propaganda piece against our enemies, the Godless Russian Communists.

I know it seems like such a small thing: "In God we trust".... "One nation under God" and so on. But, as with everything else, if you give an inch they will take a mile. Religion is being forced down our throats at all turns, and God on our money and in our pledge was just the inch they needed.

And its not just a universal God, no, it is the Christian God. Ten Commandments in court houses, nativity scenes on government property and so on. I have never seen a Hindu scene on public land during the festival of Deepavali. I have never seen anything related to the prophet Muhammad during Idul Fitri or Idul Adah. I could go on with plenty of examples from other religions. If the right of public religious display extended to ALL religions then we might be more accepting, but it doesn’t. Not only does it not extend to all religions but if someone of a different religion tried to openly show these symbols of their faith in the wrong parts of the country they would be murdered.

As if that wasn't bad enough, now they want to teach creationism and abstinence in public schools. Some schools are already teaching creationism and, thanks to President Bushwacked, abstinence is the only thing most schools are allowed to teach. Public schools are run by the government and must remain secular, religion has no place in public schools. Religion should be taught in church, temple, mosque or where ever you worship and / or in your own home. If you want it taught in school then send your kids to a private school and pay for that type of education. Keep it out of the public schools which are funded with tax payer money. Not every taxpayer believes in your God. If you think teaching kids about sex is wrong, then remove your kids from sex education class, but don’t forbid others from getting much needed education because YOU don’t agree with it. That is just stupid and wrong. Especially when America has the highest teenage birth rates in the developed world! How can it be possible that in the developed world the United States is the most religious and has the highest instances of teenage pregnancy? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? It all comes down to human nature and hypocrisy.

Next thing, and it won’t be far off, you wont be allowed to work in certain jobs unless you are Christian, trust me it isn’t far away if the the "moral-right" have anything to do with it. And it will just get worse from there. This has got to stop.

So yes, get God off our money, out of our pledge and out of our schools. Do it now before "Land of the free and home of the brave" turns into "Land of the hypocritical christian zealots and home of the enslaved infidels". (And by infidels I mean those who believe in anything other than the Christian God. Contrary to the current redneck, right-wing, bible basing Christians of today, the word 'infidel' has been widely used in the Christian faith. It is not a word exclusive to Islam.)

Lack of posts.

I know I should be posting more. But time has not been on my side. I have been doing a lot of reading lately and much of my time has been devoted to that.

I have to say too that I feel somewhat intimidated by the calibre of some of the atheist bloggers I like to follow. If you take a look at my blog roll let me suggest and The BEattitude. Both of these sites have great articles and blow me out of the water on what I can come up with. I frequently engage in commenting on both of these sites as a way to involve myself in the atheist community, but I really need to start writing more of my own material.

I also have unfinished business to attend to with regard to my story and how I reached the path of enlightenment. I will get to it I promise. Some of it is a real pain to write because it makes me so angry and when I get angry my minimal writing skill degenerates into something heinous.

Anyway, there will be more to post soon. I promise.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Profession of Faith

Ever since my de-conversion there is one statement from believers that irritates me time and time again. We have all heard it, it is the common fall back for just about every argument against christianity. Every time I have argued the plagiarism, absurdities, contradictions, lies, cruelty and intolerance of the Bible, this statement, or something similar, invariably gets thrown in my face: “You just have to have faith”.

Faith in what I ask. Define it. Describe it.

I have faith. I have no shortage of faith, in fact, I have faith in spades.

I have faith that if I do the right things, lead a good life and help my fellow man that I will live on, beyond my years, in the memory of my community, my children and my family. I have faith that if there is an afterlife that it is for us all, that it is something that no one could ever understand and is not reserved for a select few.

I have faith that my children will do the right things and grow to be men and women to be proud of, not because of some religious indoctrination, but because I set a good example and instilled in them a commonsensical set of morals and ideals.

I have faith that there is something greater than myself; Humanity. I have faith that one day we will realize our potential as a race and, finally working together, reach heights that we can now only dream of. I have faith that through setting aside our petty arguments of religion, race, gender, sexuality and creed that we can finally work together to end war, hunger, injustice, prejudice and suffering.

I have faith that there exists, somewhere, a politician that is doing their job because they want to help people, not for the fame or power, not to spread wealth to themselves and their friends, but because deep down they want to help their community, their country and the people around them. I have faith that if I am wrong, somewhere, sometime, and perhaps under a guiding star, a politician will be born who will actually care for those they govern; a politician who refuses push their moral agenda, but one who speaks for the people and works as a servant of the people. I also have faith that some people will find the guiding star reference in the last sentence amusing.

I have faith that with technological breakthroughs we will fix global warming, create powerful and cheap sources of renewable energy and sustainable fast growing crops that could feed the masses. I have faith that through technology we will reach out for the stars, colonize distant planets and discover the origins of time and the universe, and, I have faith that someday Windows wont suck so much.

I have faith that someday, through science, we will find a cure for cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, and other ailments that afflict mankind. I have faith that through science we will be able to help the blind see, the mute speak, the deaf hear and the paralyzed to walk again. I have faith that diseases of the mind, once taught by religion to be caused by daemonic possession, will be curable.

I have faith in these things and much more. I do not however have faith in a flawed book, full of inaccuracies, contradictions, lies and fairy tales. I do not believe in fire and brimstone or a deity who would punish souls for eternity just because of the randomness of when and where a person was born and its affect on their access to information about his “son”.

You may call me an idealist, a dreamer or an optimist, but you can never say that I am a man without faith. My faith is strong and pure. It is without conditions, without exceptions and without caveats. Actually, given the history and current state of the world, full of its hatred, injustice and prejudice, it takes a lot more faith to believe in what I have stated above than it does to believe in the mythology of the Bible.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Right-Wing Craziness

As pointed out by the Redheaded Skeptic I too want to make a comment on this.

Anne Coulter recently weighed in on the murder of Abortion provider Dr. Tiller:
"I wouldn’t kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn’t want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?"
Seriously WTF? So she says that while she wouldn't kill someone she has no problems with others doing it? And thinks that criminalizing the murder of abortionists is a waste of time? WTF is wrong with this woman.

We all know she is crazy, at least all of us with any reason, but come on this is just sick. "They", and by "They" I mean the religious right, say that us Atheists have no moral compass because to be a good person and do the right thing requires a belief in God. Well I say that is totally wrong.

Lets look at the facts, now, and in recent history:
  • Christians oppress free speech (when it doesn't agree with them).
  • Christians oppress the right to choose
  • Christians oppress those of different sexual orientation
  • Many Christian groups oppress those of different races and beliefs
  • Christianity has, in the past, and in the bible itself, condoned slavery
  • Christianity has, in the past and present with backing from the bible, oppressed women's rights.
  • Some nutty Christians murder law abiding people in the name of God because they do not agree with the way they lead their life or the job they do.
  • Other Christians empower these murders by saying they have done nothing wrong or inciting the hatred by delivering sick twisted hateful messages in church and in the media.
  • Christianity constantly tries to suppress knowledge of science and reason, doing everything within their power to stop human progress.
  • Recent studies show that the more evangelical the Christian the more they support the use of Torture.
I am not painting ALL Christians with this brush, however the number is growing rapidly thanks to the hate filled messages from people like Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Dr. James Dobson, Pat Robertson and countless others.

The fact is that most of us Atheists lead much healthier, morally just lives than these people could ever hope to achieve with their Religion.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Background & History Part II

Continued from Part I.......

In 1991 my father was offered a great opportunity to work and live overseas. Several months ahead of my mother and I, he moved over to Indonesia to start work and get things ready for us to move.

In early 1992 my mother and I packed up everything we could, sold off, stored or gave away the rest and boarded a plane for Singapore. For me it was the chance of a lifetime. At the time I gave little thought to what I was leaving behind. This was an adventure. Before this I had gotten to spend a little bit of time in Kuwait when my father worked there, but that was more of a holiday visit, this was different.

We spent a few days in Singapore before heading to Batam, a small Indonesian island off of Singapore, to stay for a few weeks. This is where my father was working at the time. The plan was we would move down to Jakarta, the capital, eventually, but for now we were staying with my father as we hadn't seen him in several months and he was too busy with work to go with us to Jakarta.

After some time though we did move to Jakarta. For the first few months we stayed with friends from the US who had moved over a couple of years before. It wasn't long before I started school. This was quite a shock. I had been hanging out with the son of our hosts at his school, Jakarta International School (JIS), which was primarily an American School. This school could put many US university campuses to shame. I was looking forward to attending such a school. But that wasn't to be.

JIS charged, and still does, insane fees for attendance. If my memory serves me correctly it was something along the lines of USD $2000 per month plus a USD $150,000 bond to get in. This was way more anything my dad could afford as he was working as a contractor. Families that were brought over from the US as employees of big companies had schooling and housing paid for, but we didn't.

Instead I went to an Indian run school, known as Gandhi Memorial International School (GMIS). The man that was responsible for getting my dad the job in Indonesia sent his kids there and recommended it. It was somewhat more reasonable at USD $300 dollars a month. Dad broke this news to me in stages. At first I thought it couldn't be all that bad, surely it was like JIS. Nope. Then came the news that I had to wear a uniform. Not Cool! As a student from the US, uniforms were a big turn off. I know other parts of the world have always worn uniforms but for me this was a new thing.

First day of school was a shock to my system. The school took hours in traffic to get to, was on the other side of town in a dirty polluted area. The whole area stank of sewerage. The school was a single four story box shaped building; lime green paint peeling off everywhere. The students were not American, I was the only one. I was surrounded by Indians, Phillipinos, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians and more. I was one of the only white kids in the entire school.

To top it all off we had to gather in the foyer, in front of a statue of Gandhi, every day and pray. No, we were not praying to him, it was a non-denominational prayer, but this still struck me as odd at the time. I was surrounded by religions I did not know or understand. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and more. Add to that the crappy uniform, the ugly school, being the only white kid, and picked on for it, and the new and strange country, the most popular Muslim country in the world, and you have one messed up kid.

As any good international school should, we all learned about all religions and participated in events dedicated to all religions, particularly Hindu ones. This too freaked me out.

So, as one may expect, I rebelled. I did everything I could to get kicked out of that school, I even took the blame for things that I didn't do. It is very likely that I still hold the record. I was suspended and expelled 27 times. My father was usually away working during this period so it fell on his friend, whose kids I went to school with, to beg the school to let me back in. I made his life hell for a while I am sure.

In the end I accepted my situation and while I didn't always agree with the school, and thought the facilities were horrid, I made great friends with both the students and teachers. In fact I went on to lead the student body, giving some teachers who were not sure of my rehabilitation nightmares! All in all I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. I had a great education and made great long lasting friendships.

Growing up in Indonesia I was surrounded by religion, everywhere. Being a highly Muslim country there are Mosques everywhere and the practically shuts down during Ramadan and comes to a standstill during Idul Fitri. The government in Indonesia even mandates that you believe in God, so long as it is a government recognized one. This included Muslim, mainstream Christianity, Buddhism and Hindu, but not Judaism, Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses.

It took little time after moving to Indonesia for my family to find an English speaking Church. It was run by missionaries from the US. At first it was a rather large congregation, but over time it dwindled down to just a few people.

When I was about 15 I started catechism classes. This is a bible study class that is supposed to prepare you to partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion. This class went on for about a year. Each week we would meet, discuss what it meant to be Christian, what it meant to partake of Holy Communion and read our bible. We had to memorize the Apostle and Nicene Creeds and all the books of the bible. We were encouraged to do a lot of reading on our own and ask questions etc. Even at that age I found many inconsistencies, contradictions and so on in the bible. I questioned a lot. As much as I liked the pastor I have to say his responses were not too good. I know I put him through hell when it came to explaining the holy trinity, Father, Son & Holy Ghost. This is not discussed anywhere in the bible, it was concocted by the Roman Catholic Church. A lot of my questions were answered with "it is not our place to question God", a response that I cannot accept.

I am the kind of person that needs to know WHY. I always have been. When I arrived at School in Indonesia my Math skills were so far behind the other students, due to the weak US educational system, and I struggled with Math. It didn't help that the teachers were impatient and felt I was holding up the class. In math, as with religion, I was often told when I asked why an equation worked the way it did, "Because it does". That is not an answer, not one I am willing to accept. I am curious by nature and I need to know WHY! I know I will be punished by having a child that asks "why" about everything but I will accept that and encourage them to keep doing it for their entire lives. A lot of things would be better if people would throw a fit and say "BUT WHY?"

Needless to say the pastor's responses to my questions never really improved my already rather basic faith. I played along because it was expected of me. I played along because I was told that I would be punished in hell if I didn't. Often I played along because I was scared, scared of hell, scared of questions without answers and scared of disappointing my parents. Scared is not something that should be associated with religion. Not a good one anyway, or at least not in my opinion, but I will get into that in the future.

During this time my parents got my brother Roger a job at a school in Indonesia. He had recently graduated University and was looking for work. The administrators for the school went to our church and wanted a young, single Christian coach for their athletics department. They met him in the US and interviewed him and he got the posting.

Roger and I have never really been close, there is too big of an age gap and too much differing interests for us to really have much in common, but it was good for a little while to see him again and have him around. I know it made mom really happy to have him over here, which was good. Living overseas away from your family is not easy.

After a time though his interference started up again. I know he meant well, but I still didn't like it. Again the usual stuff was at the center of it all, my choice of music (by now I was playing in a rock band), my interest in movies and, of course, my dating activities.

I was a huge fan of Nirvana, I loved their music. I can't say I really listened to the lyrics much but I loved the music, especially since I was learning to play guitar. All of the sudden my mother is told that certain lyrics mean certain things, or say certain things. Which they did not. I could list many examples of out and out lies but that is not the purpose of this post. Yet songs the two of them liked that were mainstream often had very bad hidden meanings to them, this is not to say I didn't like the songs, but they certainly didn't realize what they were listening to! The list of musicians I wasn't supposed to be listening to grew, Nirvana, Guns and Roses, Metallica and Kiss were a few. I ignored this and kept on listening and kept on playing. To me it was all about the music, if I could rock it on my guitar I was going to listen to it and learn how to play it. Eventually the complaining stopped, though every now and then there would be snide comments from Roger.

Then came my teenage girlfriend, this was really a bone of contention. I met Sally when I was 16 and I was "in love". I could write a book on this relationship but suffice it to say the biggest problem was that she was 20 at the time and Indonesian. It wasn't that she was Indonesian, but that she was 20 AND Indonesian. One would have to live in Indonesia to understand, but it is very common for expats to get local girls, way younger and way more attractive than the expat may otherwise get, all because these girls were looking for a step up the ladder. It was for money and position in society. Not all mind you, but it is very common. Many expats would be married and have honeys on the side and in the Oil Industry this was very very common.

As we were apart of that community due to my dads work, this is the opinion my mother had of many Indonesian women, especially an older one dating her son and Roger shared this opinion. There was all the usual concern about sex, her getting pregnant and trapping me in a marriage and so on and so forth. My father, thankfully, trusted me, as he always has, to do the right thing and stayed out of that part of my life. I admire him greatly for letting me make my own mistakes and learning from them. In this instance however I made no mistake.

Sally and I had a rocky relationship, often caused by the age gap and also concerns from her family, they didn't like her dating an expat. However none of my mothers or brothers fears were ever justified. She was a Christian and wanted to save sex for marriage and I didn't plan on doing anything stupid. That is not to say we didn't engage in your standard fare of teenage hanky panky, but we were not having sex. On top of that, she did not date me because I was an expat, or because I had money, I didn't. She dated me because we had genuine feelings for each other at the time.

My mother however struggled to deal with this and I was given a couple of frank discussions about the whole thing by my brother. I think they both breathed a sigh of relief when Sally and I broke it off.

More to come in Part II..........

Background & History Part I

I would like to use these first posts to give a little bit of history about myself, where I come from, how I was raised and where I have been. Moving forward through my posts this will help any readers understand how I got to where I am and how I have developed my belief structures. Please also understand that to protect my family and friends that names have been changed.

I was born and lived the earlier part of my life in West Texas. My father works in the oil industry and that has taken us all over the world. I spent my early years, until the age of 12, mostly in a small town.

My father was thrice married with 2 children (son and daughter) from his first and me from his second. I never really knew my mother, thankfully I have to say. She was a drug addict and all that the description entails. My father was granted sole custody of me when I was about 3 after which time I had almost no contact with my mother. His third wife, who had also been married two times before, became my mother. She legally adopted me, and raised me as her own. Unless stated otherwise when I speak of my mother in any subsequent posts you can assume I am referring to her.

She brought 3 other children into this union. 2 older daughters and a son. They were all somewhat older than myself. My new-brother Roger, for better or worse, shaped a lot of my views on religion is about 12 years older than me.

Both of my parents are religious. They are very moderate, I think in part due to our opportunity to live in various parts of the world and in part to my fathers intelligence and common sense. I am quite thankful that they are moderate, I would hate to imagine where I would be today if they had been right-wing conservatives.

We attended church every Sunday, and, when we were not late for services, I attended Sunday School. Growing up I attended church camp regularly during the Summers. Sometimes this was out of town at various camps, other times it was locally, spending the day doing arts and crafts and bible studies at a local church.

The church we attended was also quite moderate, looking back. We had, from my memory, some very kind church leaders who genuinely cared about their congregation, though as an adult looking back I am sure some things were going on outside of my realm of understanding at the time.

During alternating summers and winters my 2 siblings from my fathers first marriage, Gabe, my brother, and Mary, my sister, would come and stay with us. They were being raised somewhat more open to other religious possibilities than I was so they were somewhat reluctant to go to Church or bible study etc. I cannot attest directly to their home upbringing as I never lived with them, but I have met their mother, on several occasions, and found her to be a very lovely woman. Gabe was an avid fan of role play games, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Marvel Super Heroes. He was also a big fan of rock and roll, in particular Kiss at one point. He used to, with great patience, teach Mary and myself how to play D&D and we would sit in the room and play all day, it was great fun and he, thanks to a great imagination and ability to tell a good story, really brought it to life. We treated it as a fun way to pass the time, using our imaginations and just enjoying.

We often did the same thing elsewhere without the game. We would play Cowboys and Indians out in our fort or play like we had a spaceship built into the ladder against the house with big plastic buckets. Once we even made an airplane out of two sawhorses, old dinging table chairs and scrap wood and would play like we were flying around. Good old fashioned imagination play. The kind of thing you don't see any more.

Mom took an exception to us playing D&D and any other role play game that used dice. She had heard some stuff about it and thought it was evil. It was really popular at the time so, as with anything popular to kids, the church and religious groups would bad mouth it.

Not long after this all the kids in church were kept back once after services to watch a special movie. I don't remember the name of the movie but it was 100% religious propaganda. It was telling us how D&D and other such games were evil. They were from Satan and he was using it to train us for his army. They showed all sorts of disturbing images about hell and how players wound up there. For a kid of no more than 7 or 8 it was quite scary. Then the film started attacking rock music. How it was the devils music and Kiss, worst of all, emulated Satan by wearing makeup and using the two lighting bolts for S's at the end of the name. These lighting bolts were supposed to symbolize their worship of Satan because when God cast Him out of Heaven He was sent to hell in lightening bolts just like these. They said that this shape was shown to us in the Bible as being evil (I never knew the bible had pictures).

As a kid, in awe of my older brother (even though I am sure he found me to be an annoying bastard at times), I found this quite unsettling. I thought about it long and hard. I think this is the first time I ever started to question, to reason and to think for myself.

I knew that I listened to this music with him, sang along with him and my sister and played our imaginary games all the time. I did not feel evil, nor did I feel as if anything I had done was wrong or something that I should be punished for. That started my questioning of religion that has continued to this day.

During the same period my other brother, Roger, was going through his own issues. He was never an easy person to live with. I think my addition to the family gave him someone on whom he could take out all his pent up frustration about being the youngest. His/our two older sisters were pretty hard on him growing up and this was kind of his chance to get even, in his own way. Being so much older than me and me be being so young I don't have a lot of memory about all the things going on in his life. We have never been close, and certainly were not close during that time. I know he was a typical teen though, going through the typical issues. He had a collection of nudie magazines that would make a prostitute blush, that much I do remember! I can also say that while he walked the family line on religion, going to church and the like, he wasn't what one would call a "true believer", but that was soon to change.

During his last couple of years at High School, sophomore or junior year, he and a lot of friends took a road trip. From memory of the incident a number of his friends had a lot to drink and while coming home there was a vehicle accident. His best friend at the time was in the affected vehicle, just in front of the one my brother was riding in. My brother held his best friend in his arms as he died from his injuries. It is safe to say that this would mess anyone up.

Shortly after this incident my brother "found God". He went away to a bible camp and while there had a religious experience. I no longer remember all the details of it, but for him it was a very powerful experience that converted him fully. While he was away I was in an accident of my own, I lost control of a four-wheel quad and went through a barbwire fence. It cut my throat in several places and missed my jugular by mere millimeters. It was a scary experience.

When he returned from Bible camp, basking in God's glory, he wanted to pray for me. I remember this rather disturbing experience vividly. Roger, if you ever read this, don't be insulted, but it was quite weird. He called me into his room, which was something he never did. If I wanted to enter his room he would expect me to rightfully knock, no problems there. He would ask "Who Is It" to which I would give my name. "Author Who" would come the response. To cut a long story short, I would have to give him my full name, middle as well, before he would consider letting me in, often times the answer was to go away.

So, he calls me into his room to pray for him, but he is sitting on the toilet, taking a crap. He calls me into the bathroom and asks me about my accident. At this time I am still unable to really move my head much, my neck was all bandaged up, almost like wearing the padded brace whiplash victims wear. He then places his hand on my head and begins to pray. Apart from the location, and the smell, the prayer goes along as one would expect. Then he starts jibbering. Christians would call this "Speaking in Tongues", something he evidently picked up at bible camp. That freaked me out. It went on and on and finally when he finished I was able to leave.

I bring this up not to spite him for caring, but as a funny anecdote about my experiences with religion. Regardless of my faith now or then, I found the whole speaking in tongues fairly odd.

The problem I had was with his new faith, was his interference the interests of Gabe, Mary and myself. This included our music interests, movie choices and activities, such as D&D. The further he fell into this faith the worse it got, and where more of my direct problems with religion stem from, but that is much later in my story.

After he moved out of the house prior to, and during, University I didn't have to deal with this interference near as often. Life was, in a way back, to normal.

More to follow in Part II.......................