Monday, January 26, 2015

Every Sin?

Dear Rev. Graham: Is there a list anywhere in the Bible of all the sins God won't forgive? I know I've probably crossed the line with some of them, and God will never forgive me. I never used to worry about things like this, but I do now. Maybe it's too late. — Z.S.
Is there a list? No. But it is in there...
Rev. Graham: No, there's no such list in the Bible, and the reason is because God is willing to forgive every sin we've ever committed, if we'll only turn to Him in repentance and faith, and put our trust in Jesus Christ.
Um, Billy... I don't know how to say this, but there is one 'sin' that God supposedly won't forgive.
Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.
-Mark 3:28-29
So I guess I know the Bible better than Billy, or is he just trying to paint a rosy picture? One thing for sure is that this proves that the god of the Bible is not all-forgiving.
There's only one sin that God cannot forgive, and that is the sin of unbelief. Turn to Christ and trust Him alone for your salvation.
Make up your mind Billy! First there's nothing God won't forgive, then there is... Guess he's just following the self contradictory example of the Bible.

But let's think about this for a second. God will forgive rape, murder, genocide and all other manner of horrible horrible things. But the one and only thing he won't is a victimless crime? How can believers not be appalled by that idea? That the most important thing to their deity is not being a good person, but blind obedience... It's the kind of action you'd expect from one seeking no more than blindly loyal thought slaves, rather than one with genuine interest or hope for human improvement...

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Beauty and Purpose

I've seen this picture online a bit recently that appears to come from a book call Hallmarks of Design...

The laughable argument being made here is that things can not have unintended uses or causes. I find the claims as to what is logical in this excerpt quite laughable indeed. Where is the logic or proof that peacock feathers' main purpose is to please man? Is is not more logical that the main use is to attract peahen, as the large tail is integral in courtship? If pleasing humans is the main use, then the fact that there are people that are unimpressed by peacocks (they do exist) surely causes that claim problems.

But back to the claim that the evolutionary explanation mean's that the beauty is not there for us... In short, things only have their intended purpose. But we all know that isn't true.

Pizza was intended to be enjoyable for people to eat, yet a cat I had absolutely went bonkers for it. The microwave oven was an accidental product of the development of radar. WD-40 was originally intended to be used as a wing deicer, rather than a penetrate oil to get rusted bolts loose. Champagne was a mistake. Coca-Cola was originally intended as a medicine for crying out loud! Today it is regularly enjoyed as a refreshing drink, and can also be used to clean rust, battery cables, toilet bowls, and a list of other uses that is longer than my arm.

We are surrounded by unintended uses and what some would call life hacks all the time. Something which makes this books argument all the more absurd.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who is Ben Carson?

I've been seeing a fair number of bumper stickers in my home state of Maryland that read 'Ben Carson 2016'. I have never heard of him and I finally remembered to look him up online. It turns out he's a neurosurgeon and has a website where he posts political opinion pieces (he's also appeared on Fox News...).

The very first thing I saw on his website left me shaking my head. There is a banner advertising his book that reads, "We each need to take an active role in changing the course or our nation if we are to live up to the motto 'one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'"

Wait... so people want him to run for president and he doesn't get the motto right? That's not the motto, or even a motto at all. It's just the end portion of the most recent version of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Then I saw a story he wrote about the Navy/hotel Bible issue...
Many people in this country were shocked when the U.S. Navy recently announced the removal of all Bibles from military hotels under their control. This was in response to pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a well-known atheist group.
I know I was shocked. The Navy agreed to follow the law without too much of a fight? *gasp* Usually when it comes to Christian privilege, the status quo has been Constitution be damned.
The surprise is not the hypocritical stance of the Freedom From Religion Foundation,
Hypocritical? How?
but rather the fact that an established bulwark of American strength and patriotism caved to a self-serving group of religious fanatics.
Religious fanatics? Ben knows he's talking about atheists, right?
This last sentence may seem out of place if you don’t realize that atheism is actually a religion. Like traditional religions, atheism requires strong conviction. In the case of atheists, it’s the belief that there is no God and that all things can be proven by science.
Sigh... So people want this guy to run for president when he doesn't even know what the hell an atheist actually is. Atheism is not a religion. 
Religion (noun) the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
Maybe Ben missed this point, but atheists have no gods! Also, conviction doesn't matter. People have strong convictions about all kinds of things that aren't religions.

Also, atheism isn't necessarily the belief that there is no God, but the lack of belief in God. That means that you can either believe there is no God, not be sure about God, or not even be aware of  the concept of God and still be an atheist.

Finally, atheists don't have to believe all things can be proven by science. While it is true that many atheists are scientifically minded, a reliance on science is not a requirement of atheism.
It is extremely hypocritical of the foundation to request the removal of Bibles from hotel rooms on the basis of their contention that the presence of Bibles indicates that the government is choosing one religion over another.
How exactly? Because I'm not seeing it.
If they really thought about it, they would realize that removal of religious materials imposes their religion on everyone else.
No... No, it's not. The lack of Bibles does not equate to promoting atheism. What it equates to is not playing favorites. What would be hypocritical is if the FFRF was demanding that the Bibles all be replaced with books promoting atheism. So it seems that Ben also doesn't realize what hypocrisy is...
Some atheists argue that there should be a library or cachet of religious material at the check-in desk of a hotel from which any guest could order a Bible, Torah or Koran for their reading pleasure. No favoritism would be shown through such a system, and those who reject the idea of God would not have to be offended.
That would actually be a pretty great idea. Though Ben is missing the point when he mentions people being offended. He does realize this has nothing to do with offense and everything to do with the
Constitution, right?
This is like saying there shouldn’t be certain brands of bottled water in hotel rooms because there may be guests who prefer a different type of water or who are offended by bottled water and think that everybody should be drinking tap water. The logical answer to such absurdity would, of course, be that the offended individual could bring his own water or simply ignore the brand of water that he does not care for.
I seriously had to shake my head after reading that terrible attempt at an analogy. He throws in more of the same 'offense' BS as he continues to seem oblivious to the main issue here. Last time I checked, the Constitution didn't have a clause or amendment declaring that the United States government shall not establish a preference for one bottled water above all others. It does however promise not to promote one religion above all others.

So if Ben really is planning to run for president, I sure hope he bothers to try and learn the basics on issues before he goes and opens his mouth...

-Brain Hulk

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Billy: Contridicting the Bible

Q: My husband and I love each other very much, yet we're both very stubborn and end up fighting far more than we probably should. Recently, I realized that we were setting a bad example for our children, but what can we do? We can't change our personalities. -- Mrs. J.Y.
Parents that argue can certainly set a bad example. But that doesn't mean that their kids will follow that example. Some kids will, but there are also those that will look at that bad example and vow not to follow that example.
A: Perhaps you can't change your basic personalities, but with God's help you certainly can knock the rough edges off them! And I hope you will, because not only will it help you be a better example to your children, but you'll also learn to actually enjoy each other's company.... The most important step you can take, however, is to submit yourselves to Jesus Christ, asking Him not only to forgive you but also to come into your lives and change you from within...Then make it your goal, with God's help, to serve one another and humbly help each other.
Um... How is submitting yourself to Jesus' example a good thing for someone that is trying to save their family? After-all, he had this to say in Luke 12:51-53
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
Sounds to me that Mr. and Mrs. JY are already following that example...

Q: I just added up all the credit card slips from our Christmas spending, and I'm really depressed. It's going to take all year to pay them off. I don't know why I'm writing, but how did we get in this mess? God must be very disappointed in us. - Mrs. F.J.
I feel that many are feeling the same way right now. One easy solution is to do what my family did, and keep the gifts down to a minimum.
A: I suspect many feel the same way you do this time of year. It's far too easy today to spend more than we meant to spend around Christmas, without even realizing it.But debt can be like a heavy chain wrapping itself around us, burdening us and taking away our freedom.
Okay, fair enough. I can agree with this so far.
What should you do? First, take practical steps to pay off your debts, and the sooner the better, since interest rates on credit cards can skyrocket out of control. Make a realistic budget that not only limits your spending but includes repaying the money you owe, and then stick to it. It might even be a good idea to lock up your credit cards and use them only in emergencies.

But the most important thing you can do is to ask God to teach you his lessons through this experience.
This was actually decent advice until the last line. But since Billy Graham think this is a Christian nation, and that we should see what God has to say about debt, let's do that...
At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the LORD's time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.
-Deuteronomy 15:1-3
In short, if you have debt with 'your own people' it will expire after seven years. The lesson here  isn't a good one. If we were a truly Christian nation, and you owe an American bank a pile of money, just drag proceedings on for seven years and you're Scot free. That's obviously not the way things work in the USA, nor should a book that suggests taking advantage of those lending you money be looked up to.

So while Billy did give some good advice, he had to go outside the Bible in order to do so.

-Brain Hulk

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Russia: Tea Party Utopia

Russia has a problem with vehicle accidents. In 2012 about 28,000 were killed in crashes. This is part of the reason dash cameras are so ubiquitous in Russia. In a move that Russian officials claim was to make their roads safer some new regulations were passed.

It cited certain medical conditions that would bar people from being allowed to drive. And to be honest, some conditions should keep people from getting behind the wheel. But then it goes on to ban those with certain prolonged, chronic, prolonged, serious 'behavioral disorders' from being eligible to drive.

The regulation then references the World Health Organization's ICD-10 F60-69. Those listed
disorders are as follows:

Specific personality disorders (F60)
• Paranoid personality disorder
• Schizoid personality disorder
• Dissocial personality disorder
• Emotionally unstable personality disorder
• Histrionic personality disorder
• Anankastic personality disorder
• Anxious [avoidant] personality disorder
• Dependent personality disorder
• Other specific personality disorders
• Personality disorder, unspecified
Mixed and other personality disorders (F61)

Enduring personality changes, not attributable to brain damage and disease  (F62)
• Enduring personality change after catastrophic experience
• Enduring personality change after psychiatric illness
• Other enduring personality changes
• Enduring personality change, unspecified
Habit and impulse disorders   (F63)
• Pathological gambling
• Pathological fire-setting [pyromania]
• Pathological stealing [kleptomania]
• Trichotillomania [unable to resist pulling hair out]
• Other habit and impulse disorders
• Habit and impulse disorder, unspecified
Gender identity disorders (F64)
• Transsexualism
• Dual-role transvestism
• Gender identity disorder of childhood
• Other gender identity disorders
• Gender identity disorder, unspecified
Disorders of sexual preference (F65)
• Fetishism
• Fetishistic transvestism
• Exhibitionism
• Voyeurism
• Pedophilia
• Sadomasochism
• Multiple disorders of sexual preference
• Other disorders of sexual preference
• Disorder of sexual preference, unspecified
 Psychological and behavioural disorders associated with sexual development and orientation (F66)
• Sexual maturation disorder
• Egodystonic sexual orientation
• Sexual relationship disorder
• Other psychosexual development disorders
• Psychosexual development disorder, unspecified
Other disorders of adult personality and behavior (F68)
• Elaboration of physical symptoms for psychological reasons
• Intentional production or feigning of symptoms or disabilities, either physical or psychological [factitious disorder]
• Other specified disorders of adult personality and behavior
Unspecified disorder of adult personality and behavior (F69)

Okay, there's obviously a lot going on here. But let me ask... What about being a pathological gambler, pulling one's own hair out, being asexual or being a voyeur makes one a bad driver?

Obviously pedophiles and necrophiliacs are engaging in disgusting acts and should be punished for their crimes. But how does barring them from driving translate to better road safety?

Similarly, arsonists and kleptomaniacs are breaking the law in those acts and should face the repercussions for those crimes. But are they all bad drivers?

And who cares if someone has a fetish? Unless one mixes fetishism and exhibitionism by having sex on the hood of a moving car, I fail to see how they are impacting road safety one bit just because they enjoy a specific something in the bedroom.

Then there's the big one that's getting all the headlines. Banning transgendered Russians from driving. Personally I question it even being included on the WHO's list. Seemingly so many agree that the WHO is expected to meet this year and remove it from the list of disorders. Obviously if you were to ask what causes the most accidents the answer wouldn't be 'transgender people'. Cell phones and alcohol would be much higher on the list or replies. So that causes us to ask, why just reference
F60-69 as they did?

Was it laziness, and they didn't realize what was in there? Where they hoping that no one would notice it was included just like the many riders included in American legislation? Or was this done on purpose as the next step in Russia's recent battle against homosexuality and everything else the Putin doesn't personally consider 'normal'?

Obviously how this can even be enforced is troublesome as well. Is it up to the officer's discretion? Does a history and warning have to be proven first? Whatever the case, the regulation is largely absurd.

-Brain Hulk

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

500 Posts

Yup, this is my 500th entry on this blog! To tell you the truth, when I started this page I thought I'd be out of things to write about somewhere closer to 50. While some of the news items have been aggravating, penning these blogs has been fun. That said, I plan to write a bit less for the next while. There are a few reasons, but the main one is time... I don't have enough of it!

My wife had suggested that I compile the many thoughts I have here into a book, and I've done that. Months ago actually... But the rough draft has sat unedited and I really do need to get around to that if I ever hope to actually publish it. The funny thing is that it doesn't even have a title yet. Maybe that's something I'll ask for ideas on once I have it edited and ready for formatting and cover design.

Then there is another funny little side project that popped into my head all of a sudden. In fact, it may end up being a joint project between me and my multi-talented wife.

So the plan for now is to post 2 or 3 blogs a week instead of the typical 5 a week that I've been writing. Hopefully this will allow me to get these other projects done, get to sleep at a proper hour, and get around to my growing pile of books that I want to read.

So this is me saying thanks for reading these first 500 posts, and looking forward to the next 500, even if it may take a bit longer.

-Brain Hulk

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Atheist - Defend your faith

I didn't realize that bloging on LinkedIn was a thing, but now I do after reading one by Jim Silence. His blog is supposed to be a challenge to atheists to defend our 'faith'... With him starting with such a poor starting point, lets say that I don't have very high hopes for anything that follows.
Okay, it is very simple. Not one atheist, not one can give an answer for their faith in nothing. Because that is exactly what it is. Faith in nothing.
What is he on about? Atheism is not faith in nothing. It is the lack of belief in gods. Atheists can and do believe in any number of other things. Call that faith if you will, but Jim starts out showing that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
They are not at all scientific or objective. They completely dismiss the scientific method in both their story of creation, as well as the Biblical account.
Um, how? The Biblical account of creation fails the scientific method, and that's a big reason many atheists reject that creation story (not to mention the many errors within). Also, many atheists love science and try to be as scientific and objective about as many things as they can. That's another reason many of us reject religious claims.

But what is this 'atheist creation story' Jim refers to? Atheism doesn't have a creation story. The closest thing atheism has to a creation story is the statement 'I won't believe any creations story until you show me the proof'. Maybe Jim thinks that the Big Bang is atheism's creations story, but it's not. The Big Bang is the scientific explanation for the universe. With most atheists being scientifically minded, that's why most atheists accept the Big Bang. But one can be an atheist and not accept the Big Bang without being any less an atheist.
They ignore, conjure, and falsify facts to fit their agenda. To prove that is what they do all you have to do is question them.
That sounds a lot more like the theists I've debated, but I'll bite... Question me!
The next time someone starts babbling on about big bangs, or evolution, or any such nonsense, ask them for proof? 
Wow... I sure hope that the theist has a couple free hours, because there really is that much proof. The Big Bang has red-shifting, cosmic microwave background radiation, images taken of incredibly old galaxies, distribution and concentration of elements to name but a few. And when it comes to evolution there's even more. Fossil record, vestigial traits, our own selective breeding, DNA evidence, the distribution of species, and the list goes on and on.
Ask them who programmed DNA? 
Who says it needs to have been consciously programmed? DNA arose from chemistry and the long march of time. What about RNA then? The origins were the same as DNA, but is Jim really prepared to argue that one was God and the other was natural?
Ask them to explain C14 in diamonds? 
In what concentrations? Carbon 14 is used for (accurately) dating things in the thousands of years. But it is only used for dating organic molecules. So if you are trying to date a diamond using Carbon 14, you are already doing it wrong. Additionally, the referenced 'C14 in diamonds' usually places the age as 20,000-40,000 years old which is still far older than the 6,000 or so years old those making this argument often claim the Earth to be. But what about the C14? There's no one size fits all answer, but it is usually either a faulty reading, or contamination of the sample from the surrounding soil or other organic traces.
Ask them to tell you what Job's Behemoth was?
Um... Isn't that the believer's job and not mine? I suppose this is supposed to be a 'gotcha' moment to claim that Job was describing a dinosaur. But the description offered in the verses does not entirely fit with any one known dinosaur. Sure, certain lines fit a dinosaur. But other lines fit other creatures alive and dead just as well. So my guess is that Job is describing some sort of mythical beast.
Ask them which chemical reactions, caused life, emotion, and free will? 
Seriously? Science has an idea about life, though it hasn't conclusively proven it yet. Look up abiogenesis some time... As for emotion, that's controlled by the brain. Free will? That sort of depends of what you mean by 'free will'. But if you are talking about the ability to make choices, again, that's the working of the brain.
Ask them who defines truth, and if there is good and evil? 
Who says there is no good or evil if there is no God? Good and evil are comparative terms that we have created to describe preferential situations and those that aren't. Good and bad are also no more than comparative terms. Who defines truth though? We all do! As a species and society we have slowly defined and refined morals. That is very well documented, so where is the mystery that Jim seems to think there is?
Ask them why they hate God, and what they do with their guilt?
I don't hate God. It's impossible to hate something that doesn't exist. Though the God character is pretty damn immoral and evil. But no, I don't hate God any more than I could hate a unicorn or pixie.

As for my guilt? If I wrong someone I make it right. If they forgive me, and I've made reparations I can learn from that to be a better person. Actually making amends is a far better system than passing your guilt to a third party without having to actually worry about whoever you actually wronged.
They have no answers. 
But we do have answers... To all of them!
 That’s why we are here in this forum. 
Actually, I'm here because this story came up in my google alerts...
 That’s why we don't talk to them at their level, because they try to bring us into their ignorance with them. 
I'm sorry, is it opposite day? Because this sounds more like it's talking about the average religious
apologist that I've debated. All talk and no substance...
They have no answer for why they believe in nothing.
Well, we don't 'believe in nothing' so there's that tiny little insignificant fact to consider...
I do have an answer for why I believe.
It's probably not a very good one though if it's anything like the reasons every other believer has given me.

But here's one very important point to consider... None of the questions Jim posed mater. Atheism doesn't claim to have answers to any of them. Atheism is only the lack of belief in God(s). The questions posed are independent positions/queries. They can all be easily answered by looking to science, history, logic and reason, or many other routes. But a lack of answers wouldn't impact atheism any more than a lack of concrete would make a pillow any less of a pillow.

-Brain Hulk

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