Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Buying the Cellphone to Heaven

Check out this Wall Street Journal article titled, "New Cellphone Services Put God on the Line."

In late 2004, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi asked Abrasha Burstyn, the chief executive of a small Israeli cellphone company, for a phone that could put the secular world on hold.

Cellphone companies, at the time, had started to load their products with entertainment features, and the rabbi wanted none of it. He was in search of a phone without Internet capabilities or text messaging. He didn't want cameras, music downloading, or anything else that could "distract" the pious. He was looking for a device that could make and receive calls. Period.

Yahweh forbid that one receives text messages or instant news highlights on one's phone, especially when one lives in such an uneventful and peaceful area like Israel.

And the Orthodox Jews aren't the only ones in on it:

Companies are selling devices and services such as Christian ringtones and phones with timers that remind Muslims of prayer time.

How about a notification sent to a Christian cellphone network in the event of rapture? Oh wait, they already have an email service for that.

While this article is amusing, I am a bit disappointed. That is because the article title implies that there is a cellphone that connects to heaven, not just a cellphone that is designed with theistic, yet purely material, features. So I think this story was kind of misleading.

But in any case, the article got me thinking. I thought, "If a Rabbi can ask a cellphone company to make a kosher phone, why can't a theist ask a cellphone company to make a prayer-cellphone? One that connects to God and God alone for the most direct and efficient means of prayer delivery possible?"

I wonder if Abrasha Burstyn would take that request seriously? I wonder if the Muslims who requested cellphones that remind them of prayer time would take that idea seriously? Somehow I get the feeling that the idea would get laughed at by the theists.

But all the same, the consequences of achieving this prayerphone feat would be enormous. Cellphones can be located through the method of triangulation. So theoretically, we could identify the location of the afterlife, or even God Himself! Finally there would be some afterlife proof, and I would have to shut this blog down.

Of course, cellphones and cellphone towers have a limited range, but with God aren't all things possible? Why would God need cellphone towers in His kingdom in order to receive the signal?

Since I am an atheist fool who thinks that God and the afterlife are imaginary and anti-life, I started imagining creative ways to piss off these Wireless Orthodox Rabbis. I figured one good way to do this would be to offer a counter product. And of course, the best way to do this is to offer every temple-attending Jewish citizen of Israel a free cellphone, where the phone casing is made of shellfish exoskeletons and the internal components are made of ham! It doesn't matter if any Jews accept the free hamphone or not, because just offering and advertising it in the streets of Jerusalem would be enough. Now if only I knew how to make a circuit board out of bacon...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Offspring Murder Club: Victory Over Child Devil Soldier

UPDATE: Blacksun provided a link to a video and accompanying article about the murder of this child and the church that his assassins/parents attended.

The Offspring Murder Club is off to a strong start for 2007 with the induction of two new members, Joseph and Sonya Smith of Atlanta, Georgia:

A suburban Atlanta couple was convicted of murder Friday in the beating death of their 8-year-old son, a case that prompted authorities to raid the parents' church because it supports corporal punishment.

Prosecutors said Joseph and Sonya Smith beat their son Josef, locked him in a wooden box and confined him to a closet for hours at a time before he died in October 2003.


The Cobb County medical examiner concluded that Josef died from blows to the head, and firefighters who responded to the family's emergency calls said his body was covered with bruises.


A police witness said Joseph Smith's father acknowledged hitting the boy "four or five times" and told officers his son frequently needed discipline because the child carved death threats on the walls and claimed to be a "soldier of the devil."

The boys' parents told authorities Josef passed out and never regained consciousness after the family gathered in the kitchen to participate in a prayer session with their church via the Internet.

Score one for God! Let this be a lesson to all the 8 year old Soldiers of the Devil that God knows if you've been bad or good, and your own parents will bash your head in if you try to fulfill Satan's demonic plan on Earth. Hallelujah!

Seriously now, look at what happened here. A very religious couple had a son who they allege was claiming to be an agent of Satan. For the sake of argument, let's assume that the boy was indeed causing trouble and claiming to be a demonic soldier. If these parents didn't believe in Heaven and Hell, they would have more likely sought the help of mental health experts who could help the boy with his behavior issues.

But not this time. These parents probably believed their son's claims that he was a true soldier of Hell. At the least, they probably believed that their son wanted to be an agent for an entity they considered to be a very real threat, instead of some fantasy invention of imagination.

These two parents definitely passed the Abraham test. Their children may die at their own hand, they may rot in prison for the rest of their natural lives, and their church may be dashed by the Feds, but one thing will never waver: their faith. For all these reasons, Joseph and Sonya Smith are the newest members of the Offspring Murder Club!

When I first started The Offspring Murder Club, I didn't expect it to last so long or grow so quickly, but new people keep wanting in all the time, and I cannot deny that they are meeting the membership requirements with vigor. Here is a list of past posts related to this exclusive club:

I Cut Her Arms Off
Another Pro-Afterlife Mother Slays Own Child
The Offspring Murder Club Gets Some New Members
Andrea Yates Claims Christianity Insanity
The Offspring Murder Club: San Francisco Chapter
Andrea Yates: A True Death-Denying Christian
The Offspring Murder Club: New Male Member

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Paul Manata on Self-Esteem

Talk about feeling good about yourself. In the comments of this post at Triablogue, a commenter by the name of Gray_Mouser began a dialogue with Paul Manata, and eventually condemned Manata for being rude and mean. Now whether Manata was being rude or mean is not the point of this post. The point of this post is Paul's response to Gray_Mouser's charge:

Your unbelieving worldview doesn't allow for these condemnations, and, to the extent that you're correct, the Bible tells me that I'm a piece of trash, with a bad personality. So, thanks for coming here and confirming the biblical view of man for us.

Emphasis mine.

Ouch! I wonder if Paul Manata would bluntly proclaim to the world "I believe my wife is a piece of trash!" or "I believe my child is a piece of trash!"?

I, for one, couldn't love someone that I thought was a piece of trash, and that includes myself. Trash is unworthy of love. Boy, it sure feels good to be an unrepentant sinner right about now! If getting in God's good graces includes reducing everyone to human trash, including oneself, then God can write me off his "nice" list. If a line is drawn in the sand; if a choice must be made between humans and God in such a way, I will choose humans. Every. Single. Time.

Anyway, what we have here is a perfect example of the anti-human values that Christianity demands. Paul Manata is the real deal. He is the quintessential Christian. And his esteem-damaging views serve, I think, as a very effective tool for atheistic evangelizing: "Look everybody, these are the "values" that Christians think are so damn good! According to them, every human is a walking talking piece of trash with a bad attitude!"

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don't need a psychologist to know that this value system is bad for the human psyche. Maybe this admission from Paul could be used as fuel for some kind of atheistic "argument from disgust" or something? It certainly disgusts me.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kristian Kids Killing Kids

Check out the differences between Steve's post at Triablogue and Vox Day's post. Steve essentially claims that secularists have no justification for wanting to protect children, yet they feel moral absolutes deep down in their core. Vox Day, on the other hand, points out that the only moral absolute in the Christian worldview is that whatever God says is right. Let's get some money quotes.

From Steve at Triablogue:

Deep down, the unbeliever is conflicted. Deep down, he does believe in moral absolutes. He cannot escape the fact that he is living in God’s universe. So he constantly reverts to a moralistic position that is out of whack with his official creed.

And then Vox Day:

If I am correct that my God is the Creator God, that we are all his creations, then killing every child under two on the planet is no more inherently significant than a programmer unilaterally wiping out his AI-bots in a game universe. He alone has the right to define right and wrong, and as the Biblical example of King Saul and the Amalekites demonstrates, He has occasionally deemed it a moral duty to wipe out a people.

And as we are informed in Revelation, He will wipe out many peoples through the acts of (presumably) His angels. Jefferson can complain that this makes God unworthy of worship all he likes, but that's as irrelevant as complaining that Stalin wasn't properly elected according to the Soviet Constitution. Although in this case it isn't might makes right, it is a much simpler case of might = right. Obey or perish.

Oh, the insanity of it all.

Steve makes a straw man by claiming that secularists only want to protect children because of an instinct despite the fact that we realize it's an instinct. Steve is apparently unable to comprehend that the instinct to protect children is the biologically engineered effect, not the cause, of the value of keeping children protected.

And Vox Day accidentally exposes the whole "moral absolutes" thing to show that the only absolute, according to Christianity, is whatever God bellows. Vox then reminds us that, in the Bible, God ordered the destruction of entire peoples, and could conceivably and justifiably order the death of an infant or infants.

The thought experiment in regards to killing kids is this quote right here, from a commenter on Vox's blog by the handle of Jefferson:

If your god revealed to you in a set of flawless communications you could not dispute that you should kill every child you see under the age of 2, would you?

So what's Steve's moral absolute for not killing kids? Thou shalt not kill? Possibly. But what happens when God orders the death of an entire people, or of an infant, or of his own firstborn (a la Abraham)? Would Steve faithfully draw his sword?

I imagine that Steve would try to disqualify these questions in numerous ways, including the contention that God doesn't tell people what to do anymore through divine intervention or direct communication, or that God would never order such a thing. But that's just ducking the question. At least Vox Day had the honesty and cojones to take the question head on. I wonder if Steve could be coaxed into providing a direct answer to this thought experiment?

Steve would do well to learn that instinct does not equal illusion. It is instinct to find sustenance, but does that make the necessity of food an illusion? It may be an instinct to protect one's children, but does that make the value of one's offspring an illusion?

It is instinctual to brace oneself during a fall, but does that make gravity and the danger of hitting the ground at a high rate of speed an illusion?

The truth is that rules derived from inherent properties of natural existence are not illusions, while rules arbitrarily dished out based on the whims of a conscious cosmic creator are illusions. In the former, these rules exist eternally and independently of any consciousness, while in the latter, these rules originate from -and exist purely within- the mind of a conscious entity.

Note: The title of this post is a play on the name of an obscure rock band, Scary Kids Scaring Kids.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Stefan Molyneux on Strong Atheism

Weak atheism, strong atheism, what's the difference? Why say that God does not exist when you can merely say there is no evidence for him to exist?

Stefan Molyneux attacks this topic at his blog, Freedomain, with a tall glass of cold logic. You definitely should go read the whole thing, but I want to highlight a choice paragraph here:

If gods are subject to physical laws, then religion makes no sense whatsoever, and praying to gods makes about as much sense as worshiping a black hole, begging the Sun to grant you favors, or circumcising your son to appease the speed of light. If gods are not subject to physical laws, then the concept of “gods” is synonymous with the concept of non-existence, which makes religion even more deranged. Then, rather than praying to the moon, you would be in fact praying to the empty space between the Earth and the moon.

The italics are mine.

Stefan manages to make the logic of strong atheism engaging, and he has a clever way of pointing out the ramifications of silly god-based premises. Go check it out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ted Haggard Version 2.0

Introducing the new and improved Ted Haggard!

Update: Dr. Zachary Moore also wrote about the straigtening of Haggard's path, and I think his post is better than mine. So enjoy!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Faith in Florida

A handful of tornados ripped through central Florida recently, killing at least 20 people and causing untold amounts of property damage. Over 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed, and the Church of God in the town of Lady Lake was completely leveled. Larry Lynn, pastor of the church, had this to say:

I'd like everybody to take a deep breath, and let everybody who has breath today praise God.

While I could make all kinds of jokes in response to pastor Lynn's statement, I think this time it will suffice merely to point out that Lynn is counting the hits and ignoring the misses, also known as selective observation. In his eyes, God didn't cause the tornadoes but He did save those who didn't die from said tornados. Either that, or he wants everyone alive in his congregation to thank God for not killing them yet (which is very doubtful but much more honest).

The Governor of Florida even paid them a visit:

"Pastor Larry, you told me yesterday that the building may be down, but the church lives on, and I can see that now," the governor said to shouts and applause from the congregation.

Congregants were worshipping in the actual church wreckage on Sunday. Now that's devotion!

Theists never really expect their faith to actually do anything other than make them feel better emotionally. The object of their faith didn't create those tornados, nor will it actually rebuild their church and their town. Appropriately, these faithful will not blame the devastation on their God. Yet strangely, once these flesh and blood people finish rebuilding their community, they will scramble to be the first to thank their God for fixing everything!

At the very least, these people will claim that God gave them the hope and/or emotional strength needed to rebuild their town. They will do anything to make their imaginary friend appear necessary. Who are they trying to convince, anyway? Perhaps themselves?

And what about a faithless town that is ravaged by a natural disaster? Can an atheist town not rebuild because it doesn't have enough spiritual or emotional strength? I've never ever heard of a community not being able to rebuild or carry on due to a lack of faith. But I have heard of a community that could not carry on or rebuild due to a lack of money or resources.

These people never question their faith regardless of what reality throws at them, because it's untestable and unfalsifiable. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, these people will believe on Sunday the same thing that they believed on Friday no matter what happens on Saturday. Fucking brilliant.