23 June, 2006

Spinning cotton

This article has now moved to nullifidian.net.

In a recent post on MediaWatchWatch there are photographs of a protest group albeit in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way (I hope!) protesting JS:TO on the pretense that clothes - worn, I presume, by the cast as costumes - are against the scripture of the bible.

In particular, they show two of the protestors holding a placard that proclaims 60% cotton, 40% polyester, 100% evil and refer to Leviticus 19:19 as the source of their moral outrage:

Lev 19:19 (KJV)

Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

(My emphasis, of course.)

What are the two materials mentioned therein? Linen and wool. What does it say one should do? neither let a...come upon thee which I presume is an archaic expression in the translation of the time to mean "don't wear it". So, the whole clause basically translates as "don't wear clothes made of linen and wool". Fair enough...

While I consider this a bizarre 'law', at least it's not telling you to kill babies and rape women.

Anyway, there's no mention that clothes made of this mixture of materials are in fact evil - it just says "don't wear it". So, that part of their protest, that it's 100% evil, is out of the window.

They also make the claim that the offensive clothes in question are of a cotton/polyester mix. The bible verse they refer to mentions a linen/wool mix instead. How strange: they're not the same thing.

Contrary to the obviously ignorant thought, linen (from flax) and wool (from sheep) have nothing to do with cotton (from cotton plants) and/or polyester (there are a couple of natural polyesters - the ones used in clothes are man-made). The other two parts of their objection therefore make no sense either.

There it is, in black and white, for anyone to check: any interpretation you decide to attribute to it isn't worth a jot.

If you're going to be a literalist and use your scripture as a method of intimidating people, your really should read your bible as it stands, don't spin it. Then you should learn what the words mean. Then read it again with your new-found wisdom. Only then are you qualified to even contemplate shoving your scripture in other people's faces.

Until that time, STFU.

17 June, 2006

Anti-Coulter vs Coulter

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Coulter's own argument, when being interviewed by Matt Lauer in refutation of her own obnoxious standpoint. The names have been changed to neglect the ignorant.

"To speak out using the fact that they're [christians] - this is the [religious right's] doctrine of infallibility.

"If they have a point to make about the 9/11 commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism, how about sending in somebody we're allowed to respond to: nonono, we always have to respond to someone who just had [a divinely-inspired epiphany], because then if we respond: "oooh, you're questioning their authenticity".


"They were cutting commercials for [Bush]. They were using their [religion] to make a political point while preventing anyone from responding. ... Don't use the fact that you [have religion] as the basis for your being able to talk about it while preventing people from responding. Let [Jesus] make the point, let [God] make the point - don't put up someone I'm not allowed to respond to without questioning the authenticity of their [authority].


"But that is the point of [divine] infallibility - of putting up [Pat Robertson], of putting out these [christians], of putting out [Jerry Falwell] - nonono, you can't respond, it's their doctrine of infallibility. Let somebody else make the argument then."


Why I won't respect your religion (although you might be alright)

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In the UK media recently, I've heard various people of faith saying that we should respect their faith, as that way lies the route to understanding, discourse and peace.

What stuff and nonsense.

What should I respect about your religion? That it wants to impose your theocratic values as law on the rest of us? No way. That your scripture is justification for a hate speech? Get real. That open and intolerant discrimination is rife and want anti-discrimination laws not to apply religious institutions? No chance. That forcing the indoctrinating of kids within the education framework is a positive endeavour? You must be kidding.

You, personally, may otherwise be a relatively decent and moral person and I may respect you for your actions. However, I think your religion does nothing but coerces the innocent through FUD (at best) and is a dangerously exclusive and manipulative cult (at worst).

That's why I will never respect your religion. You, however, I may want to talk to.

12 June, 2006

Theocracy, 21st Century Style

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With the USA's administration's current predilection for fundamentalist christian values, it's not difficult to see the USA becoming as Iran, although obviously of a slightly different, perhaps more bitter, flavour.

What sort of elements make up a modern-day theocracy?

  • A ruling party made up of rich politicians overly influenced by religious zealots - check
  • Access to legal representation for some (alleged) crimes is restricted - check
  • Religious law overtakes common-sense (or even natural) law - check
  • Capital punishment is still in place - check
  • Those of alternate faiths (or none) are persecuted - check
  • Women, and their rights, are marginalised - check
  • Homosexuals, and their rights, are marginalised (at best) - check
  • 'Unfamily' attitudes are severely frowned up - check
  • Knowledge and science take a back burner to dogma - check
  • Intellectuals are treated as second-class citizens - check
  • Those who disagree with the ruling class are treated as traitors - check
  • Human rights are abused on a daily basis - check

I don't think I'll bother taking a look at Iran - it's pretty much the same sort of stuff.

07 June, 2006

Errant inerrancy

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Ok, here's a poser: if the bible is the word of god, etc., and inerrant in it's original form, why are there no corrected editions?

06 June, 2006

The Evidence Race

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I think it's amazing that there an increasing tendency for those of faith to claim that there's more and more evidence (e.g. intelligent design/creationism) to the answers of life, the universe and everything, when in fact no new evidence for any of it has emerged in the past however-many years (or whenever it was that the church leaders of the day for any particular religion decided what was 'scripture' and what was not).

Take intelligent design: this pseudo-science (although nothing of the sort) tries to debunk scientific evidence with opinion, bluster and general nay-saying. There's no evidence for any of it.

I was listening to a podcast of an interview with Kent 'Dr Dino' Hovind the other day, and every single one of his arguments was based upon bone fide scientific articles, taken out of context, and then he attempted to debunk them based on semantic jiggery-pokery, or just ignoring the actual conclusions that were reached. However, at no point in this interview, even when asked directly, did he even try to pretend that he had any actual evidence.

So, my question to the creationists is this: what evidence do you have, apart from the contradictory nonsense of the first two chapters of the book of genesis (or whatever your cultural creation myth of choice is)?

  • lack of specifics in past scientific research is not applicable, as this is simple straw-man nonsense.
  • "because god did it" is not evidence; it's opinion.
  • "because the pope/bishop/imam/Bush/my granny says so, and they wouldn't lie!" is not evidence; their authority is no more than that of myself.
  • 'holy book' references are not evidence; one can read almost anything into the bible if you want to 'interpret' it enough.
  • personal "revelations" are not evidence; they're purely subjective and can't be experienced by anyone else.
  • 'irreducible complexity' is not an argument; there is no evidence that evolution cannot have arrived at the same conclusion. It is also only opinion.

Bring us evidence - real evidence. Something tangible, something measurable, something observable and repeatable - something that can be tested by anyone who has the wherewithall to do so. Then you'll be allowed take part in the discussion.

Otherwise you're out of the race. Sit on the bench, be quiet, and contemplate your navel.

6th of June, 2006 - A Day to Forget

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There is nothing special about this date, even if a nasty volcano has just erupted. What people seem to conveniently ignore:It's a purely human construct, and has no significance whatsoever, no matter which films are released today.

05 June, 2006

Debunking Christianity: Is God Afraid of Us?

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I had the opportunity to take part in a discussion the other day, Debunking Christianity: Is God Afraid of Us? and opined that there were reasons why I thought that god had fear, although I didn't address the point if god was afraid of us. I couldn't think of any further commentary, and so left the discussion alone.

Until... I was listening to an older podcast today from The Infidel Guy and it struck me:

The first commandment.

Exodus 20:3: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

And why is that? I thought this was supposed to be the one, the only, the original god. Is it saying that there are other gods but believers are supposed to do the worship-thing for this one only? Can they have as many as they like, but this one doesn't like it? Why shouldn't they have others?

What reason would this god have for the very first commandment? By this proclamation, the christian god has said that there are, or can be, other equally-valid gods. Whatever form these gods may take is irrelevant.

This leads to one of two conclusions:

1) If these other gods are "real" and just as powerful, etc. as the christian god then there isn't just one god.
2) If these other gods are from the imaginations of men, then the only reason that this commandment can exist is because, even in a state of being purely imaginary, these gods have as much influence as the "real" thing.

Both of these lead to one more conclusion:

If the god has forbidden that man can have other gods, then man's devotion to these other gods is a threat to the christian god: it would have a fear of mans' actions.

Therefore it would have a fear of man.

03 June, 2006

The best person for the job

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One must have been living under a rock for the last few years if you're not aware of the increasing influx of pervasive religious attitudes into daily life. I'm not talking about living in a theocracy here - I live in the UK. I'm talking about in the 'secular' West, where increasing scientific knowledge, affordable and accessible technology and mass (in terms of ease, not in terms of distribution) communications have a reasonably good exposure and there's a general level of appreciation of them all.

Let me give you an example of this sort of thing in the UK: you may or may not be aware of a UK Government minister called Ruth Kelly.

Kelly is a devout Catholic and a member of the now-infamous Opus Dei sub-sect. Kelly has very strong links with the Catholic church and is a key member of Prime Minister Blair's Government, as well as being a close personal friend of the Blairs. Kelly has, since she became an MP in 1997, missed a number of key votes on equality and equal rights, preferring to abstain from making any commitment either way.

This may seem odd, considering her personal[1] opinions on such issues. Another Catholic might think she's a weak Catholic; a freethinker may wonder why she isn't representing her constituents' interests and abstaining from key votes. Either way, she's not being entirely honest. Can you guess what her rôle in the Government is?

She's the Minister for Equality[2].

Yes, that's right: she's the one that's supposed to ensure that homosexuals, women, non-traditional ethnic Britons (I won't say ethnic minorities - in some communities non-whites are in the distinct majority), the disabled and everyone else that is supposedly disadvantaged in day-to-day life are treated fairly and equitably.

Apparently, within Blair's Labour party, she's the most qualified person that he could find. Well, she must be: Blair wouldn't choose someone less qualified than that to serve us, the British public... would he?

At every opportunity, Kelly has refused to discuss her attitudes to topic of gay rights, women's rights and the seemingly inherent contradiction of her job and her beliefs.

This doesn't sound like the best person for the job to me.

Addendum: In a previous rôle, Kelly was Minister for Education instrumental in reforming education to allow private organisations, including religious ones, to run schools, but that's another story.

[1] 'Personal' obviously includes those advocated by the Vatican.
[2] Technically the name of the post is the Secretary of State for Communities.