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Stardate 17.030

Ascent out of Darkness ~ Armchair Philosophy from the 'Silly Beliefs' Team

Skeptic

Naked chick offends Maori spirits
Oh, woe, the shame of it all. How embarrassed we are. After making fun of people in other countries for being stupid, now it's a news story from NZ that intelligent people are tittering at.

Back in 2015 we wrote of Malaysian villagers, and even government officials, making complete dicks of themselves and their country by claiming that naked foreign tourists had caused a fatal earthquake. The silly villagers spoke of a sacred mountain where they believe the spirits of their ancestors reside. We exposed the primitive, superstitious, irrational and clearly childish beliefs held by the locals that lived by this mountain, and the government officials that supported their supernatural nonsense. Mired in the ignorant dark ages, these villagers claimed that some innocent nudity on the top of their sacred mountain, nudity that none of the locals saw, so incensed the invisible (and need it be said, non-existent) spirits of their ancestors that these spirits snapped and went on a murderous rampage a few days later, killing 18 innocent tourists, their weapon of choice being an earthquake.

We also mentioned that even in NZ we've been dismayed by our own natives insisting that their own mountain spirits have been offended by the innocent actions of visitors, for example when the makers of a movie starring Tom Cruise wanted to include Mount Taranaki in one of their background shots. Mount Taranaki is apparently another sacred mountain, a place where the ancestors of the local natives hang out. Some Maori thought they could allow it if they were paid enough money, so clearly any offence to the spirits can be overlooked or forgiven if sufficient goods change hands. In Malaysia it would apparently take 10 head of buffalo to appease the spirits, but in NZ it usually seems to come down to cold, hard cash, although what use the spirits would have for cash, or buffalos, is beyond us to fathom.

We had hoped that the Malaysian nonsense and the worldwide merriment on reading their story might have given our superstitious locals cause to pause, to think before they spoke, but no, clearly no lessons were learnt. Once again the natives are restless. We've read of yet another attempt by some superstitious NZers to give the world something to laugh at over their coffee. Well, the enlightened world at least, we're sure those villagers in Malaysia will have sent the offended Maori smoke signals of support. Thankfully the offended spirits in NZ haven't killed anyone, although of course there have since been deaths in NZ, and they may have made them look like an accident. After all, the Malaysian spirits cunningly killed their victims with a "natural" disaster, and would have gotten away with it if the villagers hadn't squealed. And Christians tell us that their god kills most of his many victims with what we atheists apparently mistakenly identify as natural causes, such as floods and cancer.

So what is it that NZ's natives and some local officials have done to get us in the news in far flung countries, and not in a good way? Well, they've taken a completely harmless social media post, one that involved innocent nudity on a mountain, an event that has similar gravity to the headline: 'Man spies neighbour collecting his mail in his bathrobe', and they've childishly asserted that this particular mountain is a sacred mountain and, just like the superstitious Malaysians, that both the imaginary spirits of their ancestors and their living descendants have been grossly offended.

The following photo is what caused knickers to be twisted. Jaylene Cook, 25, a New Zealander now living in Australia, recently climbed Mt Taranaki, for the adventure of it, with her boyfriend. At the summit she stripped off momentarily and the following photo was snapped by her boyfriend, and Jaylene later put it on her Instagram account. Jaylene is a glamour model and has featured as a playmate in Playboy Mexico, and told Newstalk ZB that, 'We see nudity as art and pure and natural'. And we agree, viewing it as a stunning photograph, a statuesque nude overlooking a majestic vista. What could be more real, more natural, than a body in its natural state enjoying and admiring nature? A photograph so different from all the other boring shots of people standing on mountains cocooned in colourful jackets and pants, like visiting aliens. And surely no one could say the pose wasn't tasteful? But of course they could.

Jaylene Cook

We read that, 'Maori academic Dennis Ngawhare said it disrespected the mountain', and that 'Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke weighed in on the issue, saying the stunt was unexpected and culturally insensitive'. Neil Holdom, New Plymouth's mayor, said, 'tangata whenua viewed Mt Taranaki as an ancestor', and therefore people 'should ask themselves how they would feel if someone took a photo of themselves naked, on the grave of a great grandparent'. We also read that Rajan Zed, the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, 'has said that the Government should offer effective protection to indigenous Maori sacred sites. ... He urged the New Zealand government and Cook to offer a formal apology. ... [and] said the world should respect the centuries-old Maori traditions ... The Maori community should have the final decision on what is allowed on the mountain'.

The typical claims by some Maori and their supporters are that this innocent nudity 'disrespected the mountain', because 'Mt Taranaki was their ancestor and he is seen as a living being', and that it's 'culturally insensitive', but we believe the statement from the Hindu Rajan Zed, best sums up what Maori likely wants to see happen, 'the world should respect the centuries-old Maori traditions'. Do you remember when the Muslim radicals started their protests demanding that the world respect their centuries-old traditions, and how that worked out for us all?

Respect centuries-old Maori traditions? Well, sorry, it's not going to happen. As we've argued before, eg here, when people with spiritual and religious beliefs plead with others to respect their age-old traditions, they are not really requesting our respect, they are demanding our acquiescence, our silence. They want to intimidate us, make us feel that we're being rude and discourteous, and prevent us from questioning or criticising their ghost stories. As one person summed up beautifully, 'They don't want my respect, they want my submission'.

On social media someone calling herself "maorimermaid" directed an angry comment at Jaylene Cook, 'Hope your five mins of fame was worth the curses that will haunt you for life'. Seriously ... curses? Is she studying at Hogwarts, and did she use an owl to send that message? We have two problems with that sort of rabid comment. One, these folk apparently don't realise that they're spouting silly primitive nonsense, which never wins a debate or scares an opponent, and two, they genuinely wish people harm. Rather than try and convince someone that they may have unintentionally caused offence, they go for the jugular and threaten them with evil. Silly, imaginary evil, but evil never the less. No matter how childish it is, the real desire that harm occurs is there. Directed at anyone that doesn't see the world as they do is the wishful hope that their opponents will suffer. We had hoped that humans were becoming more tolerant of people that view things differently, but unfortunately there are those that simply can't rise above their animal urges. When surprised their reflex is to attack.

We understand what people generally mean by respect and not causing offence, we do, and usually we comply, but not if it means having our own views and integrity compromised. We don't publicly challenge the nonsense the priests and ministers come out with during a church service, but if they ask how dare we offend God by not kneeling and praying, then the gloves are off. New Plymouth's mayor asked how we'd 'feel if someone took a photo of themselves naked, on the grave of a great grandparent'. If the photo was similar to the one of Jaylene, frankly we wouldn't lose any sleep over it, but we understand some superstitious people might, and we have no problem being "respectful" at a gravesite, and modifying our behaviour so as not to deliberately offend. But unfortunately Maori try our patience and goodwill when they label an entire bloody mountain as a gravesite. And not just this mountain, all the mountains in NZ. Dr Ruakere Hond, a Taranaki academic, talks of, 'our mountains and sacred places', and 'is calling on Maori to outline values and protocols for sacred Maori sites ... of what is acceptable and unacceptable'.

Clearly Maori trying to fence off their sacred spaces, what the rest of us also call, 'our mountains', is a step too far. If the mountains are sacred, and we were to meekly accept that, then soon the land these mountains walked across would be sacred also, so too the rivers they bathed in, the beaches they lounged on, and the forests they foraged in. Even the air they breathed. Where would it end? Where in NZ have the ancestors of Maori not trodden, and where have their gods not ventured? According to the DOC website, 'Mt Taranaki has great spiritual significance to local Maori: the crater and summit is the sacred head of Taranaki, the rocks and ridge are his bones, rivers his blood and plants and trees are his cloak and offer protection from the weather'. That's great if we're talking mythology, but clearly it's bullshit as far as the real world is concerned, and anyone that doesn't agree, shouldn't be allowed to dictate to the rest of us as to 'what is acceptable and unacceptable' behaviour on that mountain or any other.

When asked to comment, MP Paula Bennett made the only sensible response from someone in authority that we've come across: 'I'm the Minister of Police, not the Minister of Fun Police ... Other people are fully entitled to their own opinions, but I'm not offended'. Quite right. This is the 21st century, we've landed rovers on Mars and invented stuffed crust pizza, if we take this sort of nonsense seriously, next thing we'll be dunking suspected witches in the local duck pond.

There are two quite different issues here. One, that mature, intelligent, well-adjusted humans might find innocent nudity offensive, and two, that our ancestors, dead humans, can be offended by innocent nudity, or more accurately, offended by anything at all.

Considering the first issue — how 21st century citizens might be expected to react to nudity — we've seen above where an academic claims that it, 'disrespected the mountain', which to us seems to be an adult confusing a huge chunk of rock with a person. Surely Maori know that the myths about mountains chatting and falling in love with each other and walking around are, well, probably not true? Closer to something that could make sense, one media article reports the view that, 'Seeing a Playmate model naked at the top of Mt Taranaki would have been "horrifying", the Department of Conservation says'. We're informed that,

'DOC Partnerships Manager Darryn Ratana has come down on the side of iwi [Maori] after the picture went around the world. He said DOC would not condone behaviour that was offensive to iwi — and "it's also pretty offensive to the general public." He said if someone had walked around a corner and seen that, they would have been "pretty horrified".'
Seriously? We're asked to believe that the general public on seeing a beautiful, naked woman would be 'pretty horrified'? What planet or what century is that idiot from? These days the places you can unexpectedly come across nudity are many and varied; on the Internet, in magazines, on TV, in movies, in advertising, on our beaches, in changing rooms at the gym and pool, in clubs and in a friend's backyard hot tub. Over the years we've all observed family, friends and completer strangers being subjected to unexpected nudity while watching a movie or thumbing through a magazine or strolling down a beach, and not one person ever fled the scene screaming, 'My eyes, my eyes ... they burn!' In our experience not one ever reported being horrified and offended. Surprised perhaps, on occasion, but never in the sense that they wondered who they could complain to. Even holier-than-thou Christians shouldn't complain about public nudity (but they do), since in many of their churches and artwork they flaunt graphic paintings and statues of Jesus, naked and bloody on the cross, his modesty saved only by a small cloth strategically placed by the artist, a cloth that the real Jesus never had as the women of Jerusalem looked on. What does it say when so many in society readily accept the graphic portrayal of the bloody, tortured, near-naked body of a dead man nailed to two pieces of wood, even taking their children to see it, and yet some of these same people complain bitterly when they spy a naked body that's alive and not nailed to anything? Why aren't they 'pretty horrified' every time they see Jesus being killed, why don't they ever say that's 'also pretty offensive to the general public'?

We mention Jesus because most people that are getting all hissy about their ancestors being offended will likely also be Christians. We've never met anyone who doesn't believe in this god nonsense, ie an atheist, but who at the same time believes in sacred mountains, ancestor spirits and the traditional religious beliefs of Maori. But the spiritual and religious are nothing if not experts in ignoring contradictory claims and inconvenient facts to do with their silly beliefs. They can believe in both the Christian God and the Maori gods, the Christian Heaven and the Maori heaven, the Christian sacred spaces and the Maori sacred spaces. Hypocrisy is a fact of life for them, a smart phone in one hand and a Bible in the other, crying at the feet of a tortured zombie called Jesus one moment, and the next moment complaining on Facebook and Twitter about a naked woman in the wildness. Innocent nudity is horrifying to them, but God having his own son tortured and murdered is something they feel they need to show their kids, and even get them little crosses as souvenirs of the occasion. These deluded, immoral bastards really need to use their brains for things other than praying and ordering pizzas. There's an amazing natural world out there, and they should start learning about it and enjoying it, and that includes appreciating the naked bodies when they come along, rather than spending their lives arguing that the ridiculous imaginary worlds that their ignorant ancestors thought existed, do actually exist.

We'd argue that mature, intelligent, well-adjusted humans don't find innocent nudity offensive in the slightest, and are certainly not 'horrified' if they see it. But that said, many people don't fit that description, they are immature, ignorant, fearful and irrational, and while their outward appearance looks modern, their inner lives and beliefs are little different from a medieval peasant under the oppressive yoke of primitive superstition. So the depressing conclusion is that even in the 21st century, when confronted with innocent nudity, some members of the public will act like sanctimonious prudes from the dark ages, while others will be adult about it and say it's no big deal, and may even honestly admit that the sight of a beautiful, naked body can be quite, well, nice. Which century do you identify with?

But we must realise that this is about much more than whether 21st century Maori are offended and horrified at seeing a naked body, the real argument is that their ancestors, their long dead ancestors, are offended and horrified by nudity. Local Maori consider Mt Taranaki as a sacred site that somehow has a connection to the spirits of their ancestors and to them. One article states that Dennis Ngawhare wrote his philosophy doctorate about it, stating that, 'the mountain was considered an ancestor for local Maori and the area around the summit was tapu'. On hearing about all this, I tuned into Maori TV's current affairs series 'Native Affairs' to learn more, but they didn't mention it, having no doubt already expounded on it. However, on their website we found an article noting that,

'According to local history, all Taranaki tribes trace their genealogy back to "Koro Taranaki" ... Matehuirua Limmer (Te Atiawa / Poutama) told Maori Television that Mt Taranaki was their ancestor and he is seen as a living being. "We females would never stand naked in front of him, we have personified our koroua, would you walk on your grandfather? We relate it in the same respect," says Limmer.

Te Reo o Taranaki Chairman Te Poihi Campbell says, "It's pure bad behaviour, insensitive. It damages the reputation and takahi's on the mana of our mounga."

Trenton Martin (Te Atiawa) says, "He is a personification of us as a people and we always acknowledge him first in our pepeha. Absolutely I am offended by this, we can't make them not do it, but we can moan about it!" Martin explains all mountains throughout the country are seen as personifications of tupuna ... [and] there was a clear message from iwi members that non-Maori must be educated and respect the beliefs of Maori. "If we takahi the mana of the mounga we takahi the mana of the people," says Martin.'

Wow, that last sentence from Martin almost had us reconsidering our stance — 'If we takahi the mana of the mounga we takahi the mana of the people' — but then we saw the flaw in that argument. But seriously, isn't it bloody annoyingly when people communicating in English and trying to convey an opinion or argument, suddenly throw unfamiliar words from another language into the text, and make no attempt to offer a translation? Some years ago I read a book, with each chapter written by a different scholar, where in one chapter the writer gave what he thought were informative quotes written in their original languages — 8 different foreign languages!! — and he didn't translate a single one into English, the language he was communicating in. What arrogant bastard would assume that his reader would speak 9 different languages fluently? Or in the case of the above article, even two?

And we're not fussed on Martin's conviction, 'that non-Maori must be educated and respect the beliefs of Maori', since what are they talking about here, compulsory reeducation internment camps like those that Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung set up in the past, where we're indoctrinated in Maori mythology? Instead of us learning about dead ancestors masquerading as mountains, our forlorn hope would be to have people that believe these things educated in science, history and philosophy in the compulsory camps we call schools.

We're unclear whether a human ancestor or Maori god turned into the mountain itself, or if Maori consider mountains are all imbued with some mystical life force that is considered kin, or whether the spirits of dead ancestors have simply chosen the mountain as a place to hang out, like a Maori heaven. But since they're all clearly bat-shit crazy notions, it doesn't really matter which Maori believe. All we need to know is that innocent nudity is apparently offending a dead Maori ancestor, spirit or god of some sort.

Ignoring the dead bit for the moment, does that even make sense from what we know about Maori and their historical traditions? Were they a people that worried about nudity, did they go to great lengths to cover their bodies in the centuries before the prudish Christian missionaries arrived? The answer is no, but strangely none of the news website articles that we read questioned whether historically Maori had a problem with nudity, only one person that we could find, in a physical magazine article, grasped the flaw in the Maori outrage:

'The dichotomy of this argument is that nudity in itself is not offensive, even in Maori culture, where for hundreds of years, social nudity was commonplace and not looked down upon.'
Anyone that knows anything about European first contact with Pacific Island cultures knows that the natives didn't have much of a clothes fashion industry going on, they wore very little, even in NZ which was cooler than the likes of Hawaii and Tahiti. Women were often topless, bathing costumes were unheard of with nudity being the norm at the beach or river, and while they weren't usually completely naked like some native tribes, there is no suggestion from oral accounts that historical Maori had any problem with public nudity. Furthermore, accounts from Christian missionaries reveal that they had their work cut out trying to instil a sense of body shame in the carefree natives, and to convince them to wear more clothes. There is no reason to believe that Maori from past centuries, the so-called Maori ancestors, would have been offended or horrified if they caught sight of someone in the forest, or at the river, or running into battle, with nothing on.

The four photos below, all showing topless Maori women, are from Michael King's book, 'Maori: A Photographic and Social History'. Top left: Rotorua, circa 1900. Top right: Swimming at hot springs, Lake Taupo, circa 1860s. Bottom right: Opepe, circa 1870s. Bottom left: Hawkes Bay, circa 1870s.

Maori women

The next photo is of six young Maori women bathing naked at the Waikato River in 1938.

Maori women

Maori warrior Even after considerable European influence, clearly many Maori women still weren't that worried about nudity, it was the Europeans around them that had a conflicted view of the naked body; wanting to see it, but wanting it covered at the same time. And even today when Maori want to showcase their traditional culture to others, they don't dress up, they dress down. Look at this photo of a Maori greeting the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William by playing the part of a warrior. If any of us walked down the street like that, let alone tried to meet a member of the British Royal Family, we'd be arrested, even if we weren't carrying a spear or club. If Maori think any normal person would be offended and horrified on suddenly seeing a beautiful, naked woman, why don't Maori think that visiting dignitaries might also be offended and horrified on suddenly seeing an angry, almost naked man advancing on them, waving a club or spear, and screaming in a foreign language? True hypocrisy. We must put clothes on in public, but they can take them off, because for them naked flesh was traditional and nothing to be ashamed of.

So where are modern Maori getting these otherworldly messages of shock and horror from? If we humour them for a moment and don't call them delusional or outright liars, then the ancestors they're channelling are clearly their prudish European ancestors, probably their 19th century Victorian ones, and certainly not their Maori ancestors. We say this because heredity wise, 21st century Maori all have European (and/or Asian, Pacific Island etc) ancestors as well as Maori ancestors. So history suggests that if some long dead person is truly moaning on to them about their prudish attitude to the naked body, then they're more likely to have been a European who once lived in London or Glasgow than a Maori living anywhere near the slopes of Mt Taranaki. This means that if the spooky voices bugging modern Maori are actually their dead European ancestors, then they shouldn't just be griping about nakedness at the sacred sites favoured by their Maori ancestors, such as Mt Taranaki, they should be condemning nudity wherever it's found, from movies and TV to the Internet and the beaches. But they're not. Which is a good thing, of course, but it does paint them as being a little confused about what the voices are actually telling them. Their Maori ancestors wouldn't be all that worried about nudity, and while some of their European ancestors may well be, they'd be worried about nudity in public, not fleeting, unseen nudity on some distant mountain summit.

But as we've said, there are two quite different issues here. One, the shock value of nudity, and two, the unseen entity that is or isn't being shocked. The nudity is actually quite incidental, really trivial, a real red herring in fact, and concentrating on it diverts us from the truly important issue: do the spirits of our ancestors actually exist? Only if it's clearly shown that they do, should we then move on to the next question, are these dead people offended by nudity? In our view, arguing about whether real world nudity is offensive to long dead ancestors is like arguing whether Superman and Lois Lane, or Captain James T. Kirk and Mr Spock, would be offended and horrified by me watching one of their movies on TV while wearing a chicken suit and eating ice cream straight from the container. It's utterly ridiculous to think that imaginary characters, characters that have never existed. could be offended by any action of mine. And while our ancestors did of course once exist, there is no evidence whatsoever that they still exist, except in our memories. Our ancestors are no more watching us than is Superman, and any belief that some invisible person that doesn't exist in our reality is watching us is delusional, and any demand that we alter our behaviour to placate these imaginary fairy folk calls for a straightjacket.

When people hear Maori complaining that the spirits of their ancestors are being offended and horrified by the sight of a naked body, we shouldn't get sidetracked into a debate over whether public nudity is offensive (of course it's not, debate concluded), we should simply ask the important question: What evidence is there that these spirits that you talk of are any more real than those little blue Smurfs? And of course there is none. You can't offend something that doesn't exist, and you can't expect people to alter their behaviour or avoid certain areas all together just to mesh with some primitive myth. It would be like saying we can't explore the North Pole because we don't want to risk disturbing Santa Claus, and we can't explore the seas lest we anger Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

This is not about picking on Maori, or the Malaysians, it's about challenging any and all groups that come out with unsubstantiated claims that appear to be quite silly, and who then expect us to meekly kowtow to their nonsense without verifying their claims, demanding that we respect their beliefs and compensate any perceived offence with money or buffalos.

Whether it's Christians asking us to believe that zombie Jesus will be coming for us any day now, Muslims insisting that their God wants them to take over the world and kill anyone who dissents, psychic mediums claiming that they've been chatting with your dead aunt, or Maori bleating on about what's upsetting their prudish ancestors, anyone making fanciful claims can't demand or expect intelligent, rational adults to change our behaviour or corrupt our well-supported worldview just because they are mired in more primitive, superstitious times.

If I wasn't such a wimp regarding the cold (and there's the climbing bit too), I'd be tempted to climb to the summit of Mt Taranaki and perform a scientific experiment by stripping off and seeing if any ghostly Maori turned up to complain. Perhaps someone knows of some other sacred spot on a nice warm beach? Actually, it was claimed above that, 'all mountains throughout the country are seen as personifications of tupuna', and apparently that word means (since again they don't lower themselves to translate), that all mountains in NZ are seen as one of their ancestors. Since a few of us once participated in the Homer Nude Tunnel Run with a hundred other naked men and women, and the tunnel goes through a mountain near Milford Sound, then it seems we have done the experiment. We can report that while the nude run was great fun, the results were negative for spirits of dead ancestors. No ghostly specters, la the 'Ghostbusters' movie, chased us through the mountain or met us on the other side to give us a stern reprimand. So, ask a question: Do spirits offended by nudity live in mountains? Do an experiment: Run through the bowels of the mountain/ancestor naked. Get a result: Everyone survives, fun had by all, no spirits detected. Isn't science wonderful?

We understand how it feels to be offended and horrified, because right now we're offended and horrified that some 21st century citizens are still embracing such foolishness. Why is it all about them and their feelings, and the feelings of their long dead ancestors? Why are the hypocrites giving no thought to our ancestors, the sensible ones that viewed the naked body as natural and inoffensive, the forward thinking ones that wanted to know how the universe really worked, the skeptical ones that didn't accept that ghosts and gods were the cause of it all? We're offended and angry that superstitious fools are impeding the progress of science and society by arguing for explanations from the dark ages, and doing their best to drag us back there, and we're horrified and shocked to hear grown adults proposing, with the warped judgement of a celibate priest, that we should all feel ashamed, embarrassed and degraded on seeing a naked body in nature. You lot with your thinking mountains and sacred spaces seriously need to rethink your stance, because if your dead ancestors really are watching, you're likely just embarrassing them.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Jul, 2017 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Comments:

  1. Comment by Ron, 19 Jul, 2017

    Hi John. Another excellent post re. maori spiritual beliefs, sacred mountains, etc. Your overall message I have to totally endorse and echoes my feelings of many yrs. It astounds me that in NZ in this age there is remaining so many of these beliefs, but of course the cultural thing is powerful and is surrounded by so much pc today that I think most are very reluctant to talk about these topics. There appears to be 1000's of rites and rituals existing worldwide. Japan would be a good example. You mention Malaysia as well. A country I visit at times as my wife's family live there. Peninsular Malaysia is visited by large numbers, and growing, of tourists with a fantastic, modern metropolis like Kuala Lumpur, but in east Malaysia, namely Sabah and Sarawak there lives primitive native peoples. Sacred mountains, ancestral spirits, gods, curses put on people, etc are very normal and accepted in that neck of the woods. Probably the most famous location re. this theme is Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in Australia. Hordes of tourists and visitors go there. In 1991 70% of these climbed to the summit. Now it is 50%. Countless numbers have taken rocks as souvenirs. An aborigine tribe called the Anango live nearby and have appealed to visitors for yonks not to climb to the summit or take rocks. We are told that 100s of these have, after returning home, suffered awful bad luck such as illnesses, marriage break-ups, even death. (Coincidences by any chance?) Seems panic set in when the word spread and heaps of these rocks have been posted back to the park rangers. They call them sorry rocks. Some have been over 15kgs!! The tribe appeals are based on cultural and spiritual reasons. Funny thing, John, is the aborigines admit there is no cultural tradition that states stolen rocks will bring bad luck. Also there are companies who specialize in climbing tours to Uluru. Are all these people involved copping horrible tragedies in their lives as a result? Evil spirits are claimed to live in Uluru. One Aussie guy wrote to a paper and made a point. He said "what a load of crap! I've had my little piece of Ayers Rock for 14 yrs and I'm the most contented bugger on earth". Uluru was supposedly created by 10 aboriginals that made a few others because the landscape was too featureless. Such weird and wonderful stories are attached to all the many sacred mountains. Some are well known like Mt Fuji, others obscure. but they have been always revered as places of power where gods reside or where you can connect with a god (not by phone I bet). A good example is Mt Kailash in Tibet, a mountain sacred to a number of religions, so much so that anyone setting foot on it is guilty of sacrilege. It is the abode of the god Shiva and goddess Pativa. Buddhist belief says if you circle the mountain once it will atone all the sins of your lifetime. 10 times prevents eternal damnation and 100 times (great grief) will make you as one with Buddha. You don't get these sort of promises in the bible!! One is not allowed to take black lava rocks from Hawaii either, and Easter Island is a big no-no. They are cursed. How did they become cursed, do they remain cursed for all time or does it wear off? Then there are the Dzi beads of Tibet, rare, origin unknown, but ward off evil. Losing one brings terrible luck. If a tourist finds one, leave it, even though he/she may be protected if they keep it someone else there will cop lots of crappy luck.

    I found this site: 25 Creepy Cursed Objects That Actually Exist. The owners of any of these 25 objects apparently died in bizarre circumstances. I've heard of some of these stories but most of them, never. No 18 refers to maori and tells readers that a maori museum in Wellington warns pregnant or menstruating women to stay away from certain sacred artifacts incl. particularly maori warrior masks that can invoke a curse if these particular women get too close. Tradition dictates these women to be Tapu.

    I would be interested to hear what you think of those mostly short stories in the above site, John. There is so much of this out there. Are we in the west missing out on some dimensions or is it like you said in an earlier comment there are too many people still living in the dark ages. Each to their own, I guess, but why should I or others not be able to climb the likes of Mt Kailash or similar if I damn well choose to? On visits to Malaysia I've talked to many locals from a doctor to ordinary villagers and those, at some point, will suggest we in the west have no idea about many things such as eastern medicine and the spiritual world, and that westerners on the whole do not want to believe in anything they cannot see. Who among us has all the answers.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 20 Jul, 2017

    Hi Ron. There are indeed thousands of silly beliefs worldwide involving rites and rituals designed to placate imaginary spirits and gods, and they are beliefs from the dark ages. And yes, any misfortune that might befall someone after visiting some sacred site is purely coincidental, and certainly not the result of an evil curse brought about by dead ancestors or inanimate lumps of rock. Believing that misfortune is caused by curses is as childish as believing that Xmas presents are made by Santa's elves. The unfortunate fact that ignorant natives lack the benefit of a modern education easily explains why these beliefs persist in these primitive, disadvantaged, and/or remote communities. But why many educated folk still seriously entertain this nonsense is mystifying. It's generally not because they have personally had some mystical experience, since all the silly stories they relate nearly always happened to the gardener of a friend of a friend of a guy who worked with their cousin ... or something like that. In the past we had to wait until we were sitting around a campfire at night to hear about ghosts that were out to get us, but today we have the Internet, where bullshit spreads at the speed it takes to log into Facebook. People now go on about fake news, but long, long before we had fake news, we had fake stories about ghosts, spirits, gods and curses.

    Like you, I hadn't heard of most of the stories connected to those "cursed" objects, and of those I had heard of, the claims they make are bogus; complete and utter lies invented to fool the gullible. Ignorant, superstitious people have been cursing people and objects for thousands of years, and at present there are over 7 billion people and trillions and trillions of objects existing in the world, and yet these morons can only find 25 cursed objects for their list, and none of them have any supporting evidence!

    Let's very quickly look at the ones I'm familiar with. They're the famous ones, and it would be reasonable to expect that they would have the best evidence for curses.
    Mummy '# 16 — King Tutankhamun's Tomb'. The curse of the mummy is a myth, contrary to what Hollywood claims. As this article — King Tut's Curse! — explains, 'Statistically speaking, nothing unusual happened in the Valley of the Kings'.
    '# 9 — Terracotta Army'. This curse states that, 'the Terracotta Army is considered the most priceless archaeological discovery of modern times. However, for those seven farmers who discovered it ... their farmland was claimed by the government and their homes were demolished to make way for exhibition halls and gift shops. One of the discoverers committed suicide, and most of the remaining team members died in poverty'. There's nothing spooky about that, it's perfectly explained by human actions, not a curse.
    '# 15 — The Iceman'. I've read about and seen documentaries on the Iceman and none ever mentioned a curse or mysterious deaths.
    '# 23 — Annabelle the Doll'. We were recently asked if the doll was really killing people, and our reply can be read here. Short answer, people really shouldn't believe the movies that say they are based on a true story.
    As for the silly claims that taking rocks from Ayers Rock and the Blarney Stone cause them to be cursed, surely people should be able to see that these are just stories invented to scare people and prevent them from stealing souvenirs? If I could convince stupid, dishonest people that my car was cursed then I wouldn't need to lock it. Hindus believe that cows are sacred, but that was only a lie invented long ago to stop everyone eating them, when the authorities realised that there were far more people than there were cows to go around.
    As for '# 18 — Cursed Maori Warrior Masks', we discussed this moronic and degrading claim back in 2010 when it was made — 'Unclean women need not apply' — and we'd recommend that you read it as it deals more fully with that topic.

    You mention things like the curse on the Uluru rocks, and Dzi beads of Tibet, where the claim is that, 'Losing one brings terrible luck'. The problem is that unsupported statements like this are blindly accepted by many as a fact. They don't question it, or ask for evidence, they simply repeat it as a fact. Imagine hearing an adult telling a young child that if they misbehave then Santa Claus won't leave them any presents, or that if they don't put their tooth under their pillow then the Tooth Fairy won't swap it for money. Imagine hearing an adult telling another adult that black cats are unlucky due to their connection to witches, or that you shouldn't step on cracks on the footpath. Most sane adults immediately dismiss such talk as superstitious nonsense, and while they may lie to children, they don't believe any of it. The response should be the same when the talk is about bad luck curses and ghosts. Some moron claiming that some object is cursed or that their dead ancestors are watching them or that their house is haunted is as childish as expecting a visit from Santa or the Tooth Fairy. These are all silly beliefs from a distant time when we were ignorant, primitive and superstitious, ridiculous beliefs that we should have ditched long ago. As you say Ron, when we look at believers in curses and such, 'most are very reluctant to talk about these topics', because they know they can't debate their claims, can't support them with evidence or reason, and that most people will either laugh at them or pity them.

    I certainly don't think that, 'we in the west [are] missing out on some dimensions', unless you're talking about science and the likes of string theory, but I don't think that's what spiritual folk are referring to. The reality is that people that are landing probes on comets, curing diseases, building driverless cars and pumping clean water into air-conditioned homes are without exception using what people call Western science, Western technology and Western medicine to achieve these modern miracles. (Although of course there is only science and medicine, there are no Western and Eastern versions. If it works it's simply science and medicine, if it doesn't work it's called things like pseudoscience and natural healing.) And people in countries that don't have easy access to these Western miracles grab them with indecent haste as soon as they can. So-called Eastern medicine is quickly ditched for a modern antibiotic and MRI scanner. The bush telegraph and donkeys quickly lose out to cell phones and cars. Yes, there are still many societies where people still use Eastern or traditional medicines and consult with the spiritual world, but that's usually because that's the only option available to them, it's not because they've tried both modern and traditional methods and have discovered that the traditional ways work much better.

    When people claim that we in the West have no idea about traditional and spiritual beliefs then they are either lying or ignorant. Academics have done the research, produced the evidence and have written libraries on why most traditional and spiritual beliefs are just primitive, superstitious nonsense. They don't reject traditional and spiritual beliefs because they are afraid of them or ignorant about them, but because they have found them wanting. It's a childish argument to claim that we in the West refuse to believe in anything we can't see. We believe in numerous things that we can't see, like quarks and black holes, gravity and magnetism, love and the smell of a rose. I personally have never seen a bacterium or a virus, or an artic fox, but I believe they exist. Most people believe that galaxies are real, but most people have never seen one. What we don't believe in are not things we can't see or have never seen, but things that we can't detect with ultra-sensitive instruments and that reason suggests don't exist, and often logically can't exist. Even though we can't see quarks, other things that we can see argue that quarks must be real, or else the world wouldn't work and appear the way it does. If quarks and atoms and DNA weren't real, or if ghosts and evil trolls under bridges were, then the way we experience the world would be radically different.

    You finish by asking, 'Who among us has all the answers?', a question which we often find that believers in gods and primitive beliefs throw at scientists with the implication that science, by dismissing ancient beliefs, is arrogantly claiming to have all the answers. The reality is that science never says it has all the answers, not even close, and is even unjustly criticised by religious believers because scientists sometimes change the answers they do have, rewriting science textbooks, modifying theories and even thinking up new ones. In fact it is religion, not science, that has always claimed to have the absolute truth, to have all the answers. Who created the world: God. Who created life: God. Who brought a plague upon the wicked: God. Who said homosexuals are evil, that witches should be killed, that bats were birds, that the world is only 6,000 years old: God, God, God and God. The religious grow up being told that their god has all the answers, and so are naturally reluctant to embrace science, which clearly doesn't have all the answers. Twenty seconds into a conversation with evangelists, psychic mediums, faith healers or astrologers and they'll be listing the mysteries that science hasn't (yet) explained, while completing ignoring all the mysteries it has explained. Since science hasn't explained everything, and likely never will, then in their minds it's a failure, and it's better to stick with a god that already has all the answers. Let me quote Noah Lugeons who said, 'As atheists, we stand in awe of a lot of things... but perhaps the thing I'm most in awe of is the stupidity it takes to look past the entire universe of things that actually exist and stand in awe of something that doesn't'.

    Of course anyone can say that some god or spirit causes earthquakes or that evil curses cause mysterious deaths or that a talisman cures cancer, just as a scientist can say that sunlight causes sunburn. But the difference is that scientists don't just talk, they go on to prove their claim is true, or false and discard it, whereas believers in ancient traditions such as religion and magic, simply keep repeating their claims ad nauseam, they never, ever, prove that they're true. And even when others do the work for them and prove their claims false, they still keep insisting that they're true.

    Science certainly hasn't got all the answers, but as imperfect and incomplete as it is, science still offers the most well-supported view of the universe. In fact, contrary to the claims that there are many, science is the only method that has delivered results. Of all the thousands of gods that various cultures have revealed over the centuries, not one god ever told their followers about the existence of galaxies, atoms, DNA, viruses, or even exotic animals from distant countries. But they happily told them untold falsehoods, such as the world being flat, resting on pillars and the centre of the universe, that a god was needed to carry the Sun across the sky each day, that human and animal sacrifices were needed to stop the world from ending, that mental illness was caused by demons, that stars were much smaller than the Earth and very close, that lightning was thrown by gods from mountaintops, that NZ was fished up by a god ... and on and on the bullshit goes. We challenge anyone to name the mysteries that religion and its all-knowing gods have explained to the world. There isn't a single one. As Victor J. Stenger said, 'Science has earned our trust by its proven success. Religion has destroyed our trust by its repeated failure'.

    Evil curses and visits from Santa, they're both equally ridiculous, and those that disagree should either prove us wrong or simply grow up.

Is God on vacation?
When was the last time you saw God, or even got a text from him? What ... never? Really?

OK, we're not at all surprised that more people have claimed to see Bigfoot than God. But if you're like us and not religious, then not seeing or hearing from God is no different to not bumping into the Tooth Fairy at the supermarket. We just don't expect to run into things that don't exist beyond our imagination. But what about true believers, do they lose sleep over the worrying fact that they never see or hear from their Heavenly Father? They don't see him on TV chat shows talking to celebrities, and not even the persistent and intrusive paparazzi can get a blurry photo of him frequenting some tacky nightclub or drunkenly assaulting an atheist.

Back in 10 These days pretty much everyone agrees that God is a god that we never see or hear from, and most believers don't seem to be unduly bothered by God's absence, apparently because they simply don't think about what it might mean. But not all true believers are struck by apathy. Some modern Christians that have thought about God's absence actually argue that the reason we don't see him is not because he's invisible or is too busy running the universe, it's because God is deliberately hiding from us. They even have a name for this silly belief: the divine hiddenness argument. But even though he's playing hide-and-seek with us, these Christians go on to claim — and this is the really silly bit — that we should still believe in him. Think about that for a moment. The Christian God is supposedly an all-powerful god that is deliberately hiding from us, meaning that we mere humans clearly haven't got a hope in hell of seeing him if he doesn't want to be seen. But if we can't even catch a fleeting glimpse of God, can't find any evidence that he's real — because he's hiding it from us— why should we believe he even exists? After all, by the same logic children could argue that we don't see evidence for Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but that's not because they don't exist, but because they too are hiding from us. Once someone argues that a lack of evidence for the existence of some unseen being merely means that they are very good at hiding from us, then they open the door for a multitude of unseen beings, from Santa and Zeus to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. Surely this exposes the Christian argument for the nonsense it is? Not for the silly Christians it doesn't.

So why doesn't God want to be seen? The modern Christian argument, forced on them because of his embarrassing absence, is that if he revealed himself to the world then logically we would have no choice but to believe he is real, and God apparently wants us to come to believe in him on our own terms, or so the story goes. He doesn't want to force belief on us, making us little different from blindly obedient robots, and so he gave us intelligence and free will so that we could examine the evidence for his existence and make our own choices. It's a little like love. You can't force someone to love you, a feeling of love is something people have to arrive at on their own. To be genuine, people must see for themselves that their love for someone is justified, and feel that it is a personal choice, not one forced on them. But God goes even further, not only doesn't he want to force people to love him, he doesn't even want to force people to believe in him. Just as we can learn more about someone and grow to love them or know that they love us based on their actions, God feels that we can choose to learn more about the world and in doing so come to believe that he exists. He doesn't want to force us to believe in him, by turning up and performing miracles for example, he wants us to examine the world and freely and rationally conclude that he does exist. He wants us to freely choose to seek him out, to genuinely want to make the effort to discover he's real and believe in him.

Of course that's the modern view of God, it certainly wasn't the case in Biblical times, and this inconvenient fact throws a huge spanner in the works. In the Bible stories God is forever poking his nose into people's affairs and making his presence known. Miracles are a dime a dozen, and God's clear handiwork is there for everyone to see. From talking snakes and donkeys to women being turned into pillars of salt, from the parting of the Red Sea and the Sun and Moon stopping in the sky, to virgins getting pregnant and both Lazarus and Jesus rising from the dead. God was more than happy and willing to convince people that he was real by performing amazing feats of magic and interfering in their lives on a regular basis. He even dictated a popular book detailing his exploits, a biography that came to be known as the Bible. And if his book is to be believed, God was not only desperate to have his existence revealed to the world, he wanted everyone to accept him as creator of the universe, obey without question his commandments and worship him as dictator of all dictators. Or else! In his younger days, God was most definitely not a shrinking violet hiding in the shadows. He had no hang-ups with showing people he was real, and consequently causing them to believe he was real. His blatant actions in those early days created the stories — created the "evidence" — that effectively forced Jews, then Christians and eventually Muslims to accept that God was real. God gave ancient man no choice as to whether to believe he was real or not.

So what happened between then and now? What's forced Christians to change from saying that God often popped around for a coffee to now saying that he's hiding and waiting for us to find him? Why did the followers of God in Biblical times see God everywhere — on the way to market, in the fields, in their beds, in their temples, on the mountaintops, on the battlefield — and yet in more recent centuries the followers of God have witnessed nothing but God's worrying absence?

The reality is that ancient man didn't see God at all, all they saw was the natural — and mysterious — world that they inhabited and they wrongly assumed that everything they didn't understand must be the work of a powerful god. Day and night, thunder and lightning, earthquakes and floods, disease and fertility, success or failure on the battlefield, life and death itself, they believed everything happened at the whim of a god, so naturally they saw evidence of God's handiwork everyday and all around them, because they were experiencing the unfathomable natural world everyday. But as ancient man's knowledge of the natural world improved and as his skepticism regarding gods increased, God was witnessed less and less, or to put it another way, as science evolved God was required less and less as an explanation for why and how things happen in the natural world. No longer was Zeus required to throw lightning bolts from Mt Olympus, or Thor's hammer needed to explain thunder; no longer was an Egyptian god required to accompany the Sun on its journey through the underworld each night and return it reborn each morning, and gone was the belief that plagues and illness were caused by demons.

Of course some might reply that the world's holy books also contain stories that clearly weren't ancient man simply misunderstanding an event in the natural world. For example, if we consider just the Bible, we have the talking snake, donkey and bush (the one that was burning but wasn't consumed), and obviously talking animals and foliage aren't a natural occurrence with a natural explanation. Ditto women suddenly turning into pillars of salt, the parting of the Red Sea, the Sun and Moon stopping in the sky, stars falling to Earth, virgins getting pregnant and people rising from the dead to walk the Earth again as the undead. So while lightning may be explained by a force of nature and not the work of gods, how do we explain a talking snake and a zombie Jesus?

The reality is we can't explain how those events happened, and nor do we have to. That's like asking us to explain how Superman flies, how Harry Potter performs his magic, how Doctor Who's Tardis works, how Santa Claus delivers all those toys in one night, how the Smurfs manage to stay hidden, how King Kong could grow so large and how Fred Flintstone domesticated those dinosaurs. We cannot explain fantasies, nor do we need to; they involve fantastical people, things and events that have never existed nor happened, and that only exist, and could only exist, in our imagination. And of course the Bible stories of talking snakes and the walking dead are just fantasies too, and just as there is no need to explain Fred Flintstone, there is no need to explain Jesus coming back from the dead either. Zombies aren't real now, and they weren't real 2,000 years ago either. That old book we call the Bible was the equivalent of today's Superman comic, fanciful stories that only the nave believe are actually true.

While these days there are still a few ignorant fools that claim to see their God's handiwork in a baby's smile, a beautiful sunset or the Ebola virus, most Christians begrudgingly acknowledge that evidence of God at work in the world is sorely lacking, and that absence — we atheists say — requires an explanation. And so they come up with the free will ploy, that he's hiding from us so as not to force our hand. Of course that doesn't explain why he's changed his mind, since his outlook is now completely different to how he used to act, nor does it explain how it's even possible for a god that's perfect and all-knowing to change his mind. Plus, as we've already alluded to, it's ridiculous to claim that if you can't see something, then that's good evidence that it exists. Reason would dictate that if you have no evidence that something exists, then it most likely doesn't. Again, just replace God's name with Santa and the flaw in the Christian argument becomes obvious.

And it's not just the complete lack of evidence for God that is worrying. We now have a huge amount of scientific evidence that argues against God's existence, that speaks against the silly Bible stories. For those stories to be true, geological and fossil evidence that shows that the Earth and life is millions and billions of years old, and not just a few thousand, must somehow be discounted. Evidence that shows that humans are related not just to chimps but even to bacteria must be dismissed as flawed. Cosmological evidence that posits a 13.7 billion year old universe must be shown to be wrong. And the list goes on and on. Not only is evidence for God's involvement in the world seriously lacking, the hard evidence for a natural explanation is overwhelming. If God were really the creator of the universe and life, the only rational explanation for all this scientific evidence is that God faked it all to fool us into thinking that he doesn't exist. He planted fake fossils and false clues in our DNA to make us think that it all has a natural explanation rather than a divine one. And being an all-powerful and all-knowing god, he'd be really, really good at falsifying evidence, meaning that there's no way in hell that we're going to see through his cunning plan to fool us.

So how would all this work? If he really is God, and all-powerful and all-knowing and all that guff, then no matter how much we look at the world and examine the evidence, we will never detect his presence. If God wants to hide then he'll stay hidden. So there is no way that we could ever freely and rationally conclude that he exists, no way that we could outwit God and see through his wily plan to hide from us. So God's wish that we examine the evidence and conclude that he exists is impossible. Like planning the perfect murder, God would have gotten away with planning the perfect fake universe. The only way that we could discover that God is real is if we found clues that expose the scientific evidence for a natural universe as a red herring, clues that reveal even stronger evidence that point to God being real after all. But these clues would either have to be deliberately planted by God, or overlooked by a less-than-perfect God, and on finding them we would be forced to conclude that God is real after all, meaning that, like it or not, God has forced us to believe in him. And that's something we're told he doesn't want to do. If God deliberately planted clues then he has forced us to believe in him, even if it might have taken some time and effort for us to find them. There's really no difference between making us believe in him by planting difficult to find but really convincing evidence and simply just turning up on our doorstep. Either way the evidence before our eyes would compel us to believe in him. And if he really was trying to hide but overlooked clues to his existence, then he's not perfect and not all-knowing, and therefore not God.

The reality is that no one sees God, and never has. Hence the childish Christian explanation that God is hiding from us so as not to force our hand, since he wants us to freely choose whether to believe in him or not. This argument fails since by definition we could never find an all-powerful God that is deliberately hiding from us, and it makes no sense to believe in something that we have no evidence for. If the Christian God is as powerful as Christians' claim he is, then we could never hope to examine the makeup of the universe and find evidence of God's handiwork, because God's plan to hide that evidence would by definition be perfect. Thus it is futile to even look for evidence of God's existence. If anyone claims to have found evidence of God's existence we know that logically they must be wrong, since said evidence would force us to believe in God, and the Christian argument is that God categorically refuses to do anything, or let us find anything, that would force us to believe in him. Therefore, using our "God-given" intelligence and free will, we can conclude that, even if it does exist somewhere, we will never find evidence of God's existence, since that is God's will. And again, using our intelligence and free will, it makes no sense to claim something exists when we have absolutely no evidence that it does, and a mountain of evidence that suggests it doesn't.

So why do most Christians continue to believe God exists and how does that impact on this argument that God is hiding from us so as not to force us to believe in him? Most Christians believe that God exists for no other reason than someone they trusted, usually their parents, said he did. And let's remember that these same parents also told them that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy were real too. Clearly much of the nonsense your parents told you as a child are not the beliefs you should blindly hold onto as an adult. So why do adults come to reject belief in Santa but many hold onto a belief in God? There are many possibilities. One is that other adults and society in general reinforce their belief in God while happily dismissing belief in the likes of Santa. On top of this, most believers in God, having embraced their belief as a child, never give it any real thought as an adult. Like buying a life insurance policy, it's now filed away in some bottom drawer. You know you have it, and that knowledge is reassuring, but it doesn't impact on your day-to-day life. Most people that identify as Christian do little more than that, they affirm that God is real in the same way that I affirm that gravity is real, and just as I don't spend my days thinking about gravity — can it really create black holes? — most Christians don't think about their belief in God either.

It truly is a paradox, since if God exists and refuses to provide evidence that will force us to believe in him, then he must actively hide from us while making the universe appear completely natural. And yet God knows, since he's all-knowing, that his secretive actions coupled with our intelligence and free will must logically lead us to rationally conclude that he doesn't exist. He desperately wants us to believe in him but has fabricated the universe in such a way that it's impossible to believe in him.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 24 Jun, 2017 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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  1. Comment by Rene, 26 Jun, 2017

    Hya, welcome back, and good article as always. I've heard that stated too, that "God just wants you to love him without reasons or proof", and I usually reply, "Then why did he send you to my door to try and provide it? Aren't you undercutting God's wishes?", but the classic "God's everywhere, if you know what to look for", is just foolishness.

    But they never think about what would be the most logical: God never gave a shit at the time, and certainly doesn't now.

    For example, here's an alternate creationism story from me, but be honest, it matches God's apparent personality:

    In the beginning God was bored, so to pass the time, he created some humans. Kinda played with them a little, but didn't really care what they did in life, as long as they were happy and not fighting and looked up to him, IDENTICALLY to a human with a PET. He'd look in every now and then, but basically didn't really care that much ... because they were harmless pets.

    NOW though, one of the pets comes across something dangerous left lying around, something that might make them smarter. NOW they aren't just innocent pastimes but a genuine threat ... hell they might figure out how to operate their cage locks! What if they start to realize that they are JUST pets? HE'S been telling them they are the center of your life so they'd look up to you among lots of other lies, but if they're smarter they're going to figure him out pretty quick. So he got rid of them without a second thought ... but discovered to his horror that they didn't die outside the "cage" but rather managed to do pretty good for themselves, and are CLEARLY a threat now!!!

    Best to FLUSH the whole lot of them and get back to his chores. But they STILL survived. So, can't keep destroying his own home to get rid of them ... eventually God had to just say "screw it, I guess the planet has humans now" and go about IGNORING the new pest infestation he just caused while you explain it to the other deities.

    That brings us to today, where in my story, God has been ignoring humans for thousands of years by this point, and yet humans still praise his name and think he talks to them 24/7. In reality he lost interest almost immediately and only cares enough to mess with the anthill occasionally for laughs and a diversion.

    Does this not describe God more accurately? Even in the Bible he's always a megalomaniac, needs constant praise at all times, and mostly is messing with people making them do dumb things for his help, even when he can barely be bothered. Then after humans got too annoying, he simply left us to our own devices, but we're too dumb to see that.

    Of course the obvious 2nd theory is: "there is no God", but if you have a Christian who flat-out refuses to allow for this possibility, my scenario covers it off too, and has the advantage of revealing that god, as he's described, is simply not worth worship. Christians HATE that interpretation, but I can defend it to anyone at any time. They simply cannot conceive of God in that manner.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Jun, 2017

    Hi Rene. If I had to pick one creationism myth over another, I'd certainly pick yours over the Christian one, since it ticks more boxes in what we observe in the world today. I guess this is why in the not so distant past Christianity fell out of favour with intellectuals and they adopted deism — the belief in an absent, unknown creator god — at least until science came up with verifiable explanations for a natural universe, like evolution by natural selection. If people are telling stories about what might motivate an absent, unknown creator god, then they can make up any nonsense that they want, and no one can prove them wrong. Of course, we can have them certified clinically insane and have them locked up for the protection of the rest of us. I wonder if these silly Christians suffer from a form of multiple personality disorder, since if you talk to them about politics, finance, sport, movies, engineering, plumbing or the safety of using cell phones, then they normally manage to hold perfectly rational conversations, at no time do they suddenly reveal that a fairy is helping them do their taxes. Only when religious topics raise their fetid head do they suddenly become quite ignorant and irrational. I know many people that convincingly present a persona of intelligence and rationality in their day-to-day behaviour, but on the rare occasion that talk of God enters the conversation, they suddenly dredge up a subpar personality to take over the discussion, one that was clearly dropped too many times as a baby. I seriously can't grasp how Christians can reason so well when it comes to selecting a cell phone plan and even dismissing Islam as a clearly false religion, and yet they switch over to the Neandertal part of their brain when it comes to examining God and the Bible and blindly accept superstitious nonsense. Although to be honest, maybe I'm being unfair to Neandertals, since based on scant fossil evidence we don't know if they were really that stupid.

  3. Comment by Ron, 27 Jun, 2017

    Hi John. Your post about God on vacation highlights what is an issue for so many. There are considerable numbers at any time who are turning their backs on God. The number one reason appears to be intellectual but the second reason is unanswered prayer. There is much disappointment and feelings that God has failed them. I personally can identify with this. Often I've heard or have read of people who have prayed for hrs and hrs, esp. in difficult times, but no response whatsoever. The no show silent treatment. As one said "I prayed to God, but nothing fails like prayers". The inevitable question arises, "if god loves me, why does he let this happen to me, god promises me a lot in the bible but does not deliver". Many have tithed based on biblical promises and that its an obligation. The promised rewards that would be more prosperity than you can handle have not materialized for countless people. Christians will counter argue that your heart is wrong, that your motivation is only to receive rewards or that you are not tithing the full 10% plus. Christians will often say god does not answer the prayers of a sinner. But aren't we all sinners, none of us are perfect. Some will try to tell you what you can or cannot expect from god. A Baptist missionary once wrote how he begged god to show himself and to put an end to his inner torture, but of course, nothing. This business of faltering faith and doubts involves much higher religious figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of 80 million Anglicans, who, in 2014, admitted having doubts about the existence of God. And questioned why the Almighty fails to intervene re, injustice. He said "sure, there are moments where you think, Is there a god, where is god?" Once when running with his dog and praying he said to god "look, this is all very well but isn't it about time you did something - if you are there?" However, he is certain of the existence of Jesus. "When life gets challenging I call Jesus to help me and he picks me up". Even the pope, as a fallible human, admitted sometimes he has "darkness" that clouds his faith. He softens it a bit by adding "some days we can't see faith and doubting the faith can be a good thing and is the key to a life of faith". He has many of these moments which he says is a sign that we want to know god. People have said these guys should not be talking like this, that the Pope has no business being a pope talking this way. It has been said the Catholic church under Francis has encouraged a sense of uncertainty about god. However, on a more papal thread the Pope recently talked about love telling us that god loves first, that he does not love us because of some reason that causes love. God loves us because he himself is love. Someones conversion is a consequence of his love and we are all gods children. He says "we don't earn gods love, it is freely given". Another quote from the Pope that would be disputed by some was the faithful who follow JC need to be reminded that their lives will not be free from troubles and tribulations, these are a part of evangelization, there is no mission in the name of tranquility. He finished by saying we can take comfort that JC promised he would always be with them and God does not abandon his children during the storm. Hmm. John, to finish here are some statistics of possible interest. Worldwide a whopping 86% of people believe in a god or gods. The flip side of that is 980 million are secular, atheist or agnostic.

  4. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Jun, 2017

    Hi Ron. It is truly amazing the childish reasons the religious offer to explain why God is giving them the silent treatment. For thousands of years untold millions of religious morons have had to find an answer as to why God ignored their prayers, and the pathetic nonsense they have come up with is mind-boggling, when the obvious answer is that God doesn't exist. God doesn't answer prayers for the exact same reason that the Easter Bunny doesn't deliver chocolate eggs and the Tooth Fairy doesn't collect teeth from under pillows. None of these fantastical beings are real.

    The strange thing is that the great majority of the world's population can see, and always has been able to see, that whatever god someone names, that god is not real. Whether you mention the Christian God, the Jewish God, the Muslim God, one of the Hindu gods or any of the untold gods found in other cultures, ancient or modern, if you take a worldwide survey most people will insist that the god you asked about is not real. If you ask about the Christian God, for example, only a minority of the world's population won't immediately answer that he's not real, that he's just a myth. Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists won't even hesitate in replying that the Christian god doesn't answer prayers because he's not real. Likewise, Christians won't miss a beat when asked why Muslims screaming 'Allahu Akbar' receive the silent treatment from their god, asking incredulously how an imaginary god could help anyone, no matter how much they plead. Christians, Muslims and Jews will quickly and rationally explain the obvious flaws that are evident in the beliefs of every faith other than their own, but when considering their own faith the blinders come down, their rationality goes out the window, and they delude themselves with excuses that your average gerbil would laugh at.

    When you get high profile Christians like the Archbishop of Canterbury, the pope, Mother Teresa and numerous others all expressing doubt over whether their god is real, they are just saying out loud what every single Christian has thought privately. Any religious person that states that they have no doubt or uncertainly concerning their faith is either lying or has never thought seriously about the claims made by their religion. However, most believers these days have been forced to confront the myriad silly claims about their god, thanks to us annoying atheists and scientists producing inconvenient evidence for a natural universe. It's no accident that Christians tell their fellow believers to dismiss reason and evidence and believe on blind faith instead. For thousands of years they've known that thinking rationally about what their Bible claims will lead to it being thrown in the trash, so they're not joking when they say that when you go to church you should leave your brain at the door.

    It's illogical for the Archbishop of Canterbury to doubt the existence of God and then claim to be certain that Jesus is real and helping him from some divine realm. For Jesus to exist, God must exist as well, since how could Jesus be the 'son of God' if there isn't a God to have a son? This just shows how stupid people like the Archbishop of Canterbury truly are, thinking that Jesus could be real without God and childishly believing that when his mood lifts that some cloud-dwelling invisible fairy magically caused him to feel better. No doubt when he finds his lost car keys he says, 'Thank you, Jesus'. It's like those screwed up Muslims that cry, 'God is Great', when a missile destroys their house and kills their family. If we could collect the stupidity exhibited by religious believers worldwide and convert it to energy we could solve our energy and pollution problems overnight.

    Another example of believers inventing pathetic arguments is when they say that 'God loves us because he himself is love'. What does that even mean? Seriously, what does it mean? Love is a deep feeling of affection for someone, or some thing. A person can express or feel love, but how can a person BE love? If I said my parents loved me, people would understand our relationship. But if I said my car is love, or an apple is love, am I not just spouting nonsense? Christians can logically claim that God loves me, they can claim he is all-powerful and all-knowing, they can claim he is invisible, cruel, jealous and intolerant, but how can they sensibly claim that he is love? To say that conversion, to come to believe in God, 'is a consequence of his love', what does my atheism say about God's love for me, one of his children? If the pope says that 'we don't earn gods love, it is freely given', then why haven't I felt God's love? Even if I hadn't wanted it, I couldn't deny the love of my parents, they easily made me aware of it, so why is God incapable or unwilling to express his love for me? Why is he willing to use Catholic priests to express what we atheists view as totally inappropriate loving towards unwilling children on weekend sleepovers, and yet not willing to even send me a birthday card? What sort of loving Father is he? If God loves me, truly I'm not seeing it. And I seriously don't understand how an all-powerful god couldn't have at least hinted at his feelings towards me, how he couldn't have got through to me.

    Regarding the worldwide stats on religious belief, while the numbers are still small, without doubt more and more people are rejecting belief in gods, mainly due to better education. But it annoys me when Christians attempt to show that they're right and atheists are wrong because roughly 9 out of 10 people believe that some god created the universe and life. Of course the truth is not arrived at by simply taking a vote. For much of history perhaps 9 out of 10 people believed that the world was flat, that angels strummed harps on clouds and witches caused havoc with their magic spells, but just because most people believed these things didn't make them true.

    The other problem with that statement is that Christians imply that it's an either/or argument, that either the Christian God is real or he isn't, and 9 out of 10 people say he is. But while 9 out of 10 people are saying atheists are wrong, 9 out of 10 people are definitely not saying the Christian God is real, only some 3 or 4 people out of 10 are backing the Christian god as the creator of the world. Others are backing the Muslin god, others the Hindu gods, still others the Jewish god, etc. And even those 3 or 4 people out of 10 that call themselves Christians are not even in agreement with their fellow Christians, let alone the Jews, Muslims etc. At last count there were some 44,000 different Christian denominations. That's 44,000 different Christian groups that are vigorously debating Bible claims with other Christians, as well as atheists. The true statement that roughly 9 out of 10 people believe that some god created the universe and life is misleading since it falsely implies that those 9 people are all backing the same god, when in fact they're arguing amongst themselves as much as they're arguing with atheists, probably more so. It's like saying that 9 out of 10 people all have a favourite colour. This might be true, but I guarantee they're not all thinking of the same colour.

    Frankly I find it embarrassing that so many people still profess belief in such a primitive, ignorant and superstitious notion as gods. It's like the Dark Ages are still with us.

  5. Comment by Ron, 03 Jul, 2017

    Hello John. In your excellent response to my comment re. God being on vacation, you mention the "god is love" statement and how illogical and senseless it sounds. It has never made much sense to me either so I did some digging to see if answers are there for the reading. I will quote some of what I found here but the enigma of that statement remains in my opinion so see what you can make of it. The one thing that is repeated always over and over is John 3:16 where God gave his only son because he loved the world so much. This is regarded as the greatest expression of God's love. In http://www.allaboutgod.com/god-is-love.htm there are 2 pages where the writer tries to explain. Here are some excerpts. "When we read in the bible that God is love that means God defines love, not like a dictionary might define something, we mean that God is the very definition of love itself. There is no such thing as love without God. This means our human definition of love is false. True love only comes through a relationship with him. He is ready to pour out his love on you and teach you to love others as he loves you. His love is unconditional, not based on feelings or emotions. God's love transcends our definition of love to the point it is hard to comprehend".

    From another source came this explanation. "What does it mean god is love'? Love is an attribute of god, it is a core aspect of his character, his person. God's love is in no sense in conflict with his holiness, righteousness, justice or wrath. All of god's attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything he does is loving, just and right, he is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God gives those who receive Jesus as their saviour the ability to love as he does".

    Got it John? Make much sense? In order to get the answers sorted you must get to know God through a relationship with him!!

    Rather a big ask if you do not believe in his existence in any shape or form. Regardless, I look forward to your comments.

  6. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Jul, 2017

    Hi Ron. Well, after reading the Christian explanations on both those webpages, and a few others, concerning what the phrase 'God is love' actually means, it still doesn't make any sense; as it is for you, so it is for us, it remains an enigma.

    Of course concerning God, Christians aren't worried that atheists struggle with their explanations, since as you say Ron, they conveniently believe that understanding 'only comes through a relationship with him', which is a true Catch-22 situation for us atheists. It's a bogus position which Christians feel keeps all their silly beliefs safely walled off from criticism. Of course it does nothing of the sort, but it does require a more in-depth debunking than some brief comments could achieve, something supported by reason and evidence and some embarrassing Bible quotes. So we'll get to work and hopefully post something in due course.

Fake news and those ancient Greeks
Donald Trump, that duplicitous cretin currently stuffing up the USA and threatening world peace, didn't invent fake news, but he has certainly helped make it a lot more popular and prevalent. But we shouldn't confuse fake news with satire of the news, where fake news is deviously and deliberately meant to deceive and manipulate people, and satirical news is designed to amuse and often inform people. The satirical website 'the Onion' has been writing humorous spoof articles for many years now, we even have a couple of their books, and in NZ we used to get 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart', which was an excellent, funny, and surprisingly, very informative, satirical news TV series from the USA. Unfortunately some moronic, faceless, TV executive removed it from our screens long before it finished its run in the US. The best present-day US replacement for 'The Daily Show' is 'Full Frontal with Samantha Bee', which was broadcast in NZ for a few months until yet another moronic, faceless, TV executive decided to ban it from our screens. On the bright side, we have Full Frontalsince been exposed to 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' and 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills', and if that wasn't enough, 'The Real Housewives of Orange County', 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' and even 'The Real Housewives of Auckland'. So I guess informed people now have no excuse not to know what's really happening in the all-important housewife world, and how their shenanigans impact on other important world events, like the North Korean crisis, the civil war in Syria, or famines in Africa.

For decades now some people have accused the media, usually TV shows, of dumbing down society, and we suspect that their fears were justified. Today of course the ubiquitous Internet has been added to the mix, and this, combined with TV documentaries and historical movies that opt for entertainment over accuracy, has seen the creation of a generation that believes almost anything that they see on a screen, be it big or small. We live at a time when humanity knows more about 'life, the universe and everything' than we ever have, by a huge margin, and yet we're surrounded by credulous, ignorant plebs that believe all manner of nonsense. Nonsense they naively accept because they saw it in a movie or saw it mentioned on Barbie's Facebook page.

What provoked this rant was the following query that we received:

'Hi John,

I noticed you run this funny website and was wondering if you had any information about Professor Gene Haddlebury who works or has worked in Georgetown University. It is claimed that he and 23 others made up Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Ethics and more in the 1970s- between 1971 and 1974. I have contacted the University and the people in the National geographic Magazine who he has supposed to have told, no reply yet. Just trying to verify the information as there seems to be so much bullshit in the world today from all corners of life.

I think the bullshit is called: The Hegelian Dialectic after Hegel.

Regards

Robin'

This is quite worrying. On the positive side, Robin is suspicious of this claim, and is making attempts to verify it, but on the negative side, this sort of sort of gullibility is far too common these days. Even though we are indeed becoming swamped with bullshit, the medium that propagates it the most, the Internet, is the same medium that allows us to debunk it, if we can be bothered.

We did a Google search on 'The Hegelian Dialectic after Hegel', and this turned up nothing. We then tried 'Professor Gene Haddlebury', and the first page of hits nearly all had this sentence, '"Honestly, we never meant for things to go this far," said Professor Gene Haddlebury, who has offered to resign his position as chair of Hellenic', which suggests that everything about Professor Gene Haddlebury relates to a single article. Strangely there are no hits that mention Professor Gene Haddlebury as a real academic at a real university. And what is this single article? The first link reveals that it originated on 'the Onion' website, and is entitled, 'Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks'. Let's again remind readers that 'the Onion' is a satirical website that writes humorous spoof articles. None of the articles on their website are true, none, they are all written to provide us with a laugh. Some are more 'believable' than others, and if you simply read the title or the opening paragraph, they often seem quite plausible. But if you read the entire article with a critical mind, and this is where most people slip up because they usually don't read the whole article, let alone with a critical mind, then you should quickly come across many claims that simply can't be true. And you should come away realising that it was clearly all a joke, one that might have fooled you had you only read the title.

So it's a hoax. Clearly it's a hoax. For example, how could the following claim in the article not raise red flags?:

Parthenon "We picked Greece because we figured nobody would ever go there to check it out," Nguyen-Whiteman said. "Have you ever seen the place? It's a dump. It's like an abandoned gravel pit infested with cats."

She added, "Inevitably, though, people started looking around for some of this 'ancient' stuff, and next thing I know I'm stuck in Athens all summer building a goddamn Parthenon just to cover our tracks."

Seriously, nobody interested in history has ever been to Greece, or would want to go there? Hell, even I've been to Greece. She then says that sometime between 1971 and 1974 she was forced to build the 'goddamn Parthenon' to keep up the charade, a massive stone temple that people have been visiting and talking about for over 2,000 years. How could the Parthenon have been famous for so long if she just built it? The same with geometry, the article claims that it was just invented in the early 1970s:
"Geometry? That was all Kevin," said Haddlebury, referring to former graduate student Kevin Davenport. "Man, that kid was on fire in those days. They teach Davenportian geometry in high schools now, though of course they call it Euclidean."
But again, people have been using geometry as attributed to the Greek Euclid for thousands of years, and reference to it can be found in ancient texts in numerous languages all over Europe and the Middle East, so we're asked to believe that not only did these modern academics invent geometry, but they invented time travel too, and went back and planted false clues about it to make us believe that it was ancient. There are people still alive today that have old photos that they took of the Parthenon back in the early 1900s and school text books that taught geometry at that time too, but how could that be if the Parthenon and geometry was only created in the 1970s? It's not rocket science, seeing through the bullshit in these spoof articles should be child's play, but instead of coming away laughing, many people come away believing. Of course most people that repeat these silly beliefs never read the original article on the original website, so don't get the first hint that it's not supposed to be taken seriously; they hear of them second hand, and read selected quotes on someone's Facebook page, and simply choose to believe.

Certainly many fake news websites look professional and authoritative, they go out of their way to be utterly believable, and nowhere do they reveal or even hint that they're lying, but the likes of 'the Onion' and 'The Daily Show' will openly reveal that it's all just satire and not to be taken seriously. On the other hand, fake news websites are a scam, and just like those scammers trying to get your bank details or steal your identity, they'll do their utmost to fool you, so it's not quite as embarrassing to be conned by fake news as it is by the likes of an Onion article. But just as a little research and/or critical thinking can quickly debunk a spoof article, just a little more effort should expose fake news as, well ... fake.

Like HIV and reality TV, the world is now infected with fake news websites, so like it or not, we all have to be a little more careful before we accept some claim as true. On the bright side, the electronic medium that spews out the fake crap can also be used to combat it, if we can be bothered to be skeptical and fact check what we see and hear. But we guess it's like condoms, they only work if you use them. Like unprotected sex, too many people today are practising unprotected Internet, believing the first thing they read without a thought to whether it might actually be true.

I read it on the Internet, or saw it in a movie, so yeah, of course it must be true.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 14 May, 2017 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Ayaan Hirsi Ali — interview and visit
Graeme Hill of 'Radio Live' fame has sent us a link to an interview he recently conducted with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which is an excellent lead-up and primer to her appearing at an event in Auckland on April 9th.
Graeme Hill on Radio Live: Interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
She will be speaking at the Bruce Mason Theatre at 6.30pm, but unfortunately we won't be there to hear her. Living in the far flung colonies as we do has its advantages, but attracting such luminaries and events to our city is not one of them, so we're definitely envious of those in and near Auckland that have the opportunity to attend. We would seriously recommend anyone that can go to do so, since Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a well-spoken, intelligent, educated and courageous woman who has a message that the world absolutely needs to hear.

Very briefly, Ayaan was born in Somalia and raised as a Muslim. As a child she was forced to undergo female genital mutilation by her grandmother. Later she flees an arranged marriage where she was to wed a stranger in Canada, a distant cousin, and she arrives in the Netherlands and seeks and gains asylum there. Through her intelligence and an amazing will and drive, and against the odds, she gains a university education and gets elected as a member of the Dutch parliament. Her education combined with her experience of Muslim, Christian and secular communities leads Ayaan to reject belief in gods and become an atheist. Anyone who abandons their religion is known as an apostate, and for a Muslim who rejects Islam, the punishment is death. Luckily for Ayaan, by the time she openly identified as an atheist, as an apostate, she was by then living in the Netherlands and not Somalia, or in any of the other Muslim countries where she had spent time growing up. She wasn't absolutely safe from Muslims that were outraged by her rejection of Islam, but she felt safe enough to become an out-spoken critic of Islam, especially its disgusting and inhumane treatment of women.

In the Netherlands in 2004, writer and movie director Theo van Gogh was murdered in the street by a fanatical Muslim, and since Ayaan had worked with him on a short movie critical of Islam, the killer left a note on the body that said she was next. Since then Ayaan has been forced to live under tight security and must generally keep her location secret. She now works and lives in the USA, and unfortunately because of the ongoing death threats still fears for her safety. Even when she visits Auckland she will still be escorted around by a security detail, since the reach of murderous religious fundamentalists doesn't stop at the border. Just rejecting Islam and becoming an atheist was enough to get her killed, but telling the world why all Muslims should reject the primitive and dogmatic elements of their religion, just made her detractors and those that hate her more determined.

I've read Ayaan's first three books, and have her latest on my tablet ready to go as soon as I finish my current read, which by coincidence is by another Muslim turned atheist, Alom Shaha ('The Young Atheist's Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life Without God'). Ayaan's books are not an easy read, not that they're not very well written and argued, but many of the episodes that Ayaan describes from her own life and that of other women are very confronting, and it's deeply shameful that in the 21st century we still have religious fundamentalists treating their fellow humans in such degrading ways. And not just their fellow humans in the next country or neighbourhood, but often their own daughters, sisters and wives.

Book

'The Caged Virgin'
A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Book

'Infidel'
My Life

Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Book

'Nomad'
A Personal Journey through
the Clash of Civilizations

Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Book

'Heretic'
Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

So Ayaan's books give us the story and struggle of a valuable role model, one who exhibits such courage, intelligence and drive that we seriously doubt we could have made such a journey. If you can't make her talk in Auckland, and even if you can, you should still read her books, since they will reveal truths that you won't gain from reading some sportsman's biography about his privileged upbringing, and how he learnt, eventually, to run up a field with a ball under his arm or at his feet. And just to burst another bubble, watching 'Reality TV' doesn't actually teach you how things work in the reality that the rest of us live in.

And while we're at it, we need to thank Graeme Hill for all the fascinating interviews he does on 'Radio Live', with people that explain topics such as cosmology, anthropology, evolution, philosophy and critical thinking, such as Lawrence M. Krauss, Jared Diamond, Joe Nickell, and now Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Graeme is a welcome voice of reason in the media wilderness. There is a serious dearth of programs on the radio and TV that make any attempt to examine serious topics. We may get the odd sound-bite on the news from a scientist, historian or academic, but they're so short and simplified that they make the tweets that Donald Trump sends out seem like novels. Most of the moronic media seem to think that as long as people have heard of a black hole, the big bang, evolution and Muslims, then they'll somehow understand all about them too. Their work is done. What's the world come to when most people get their science and history education from silly Hollywood movies that usually aren't even 'loosely based on a true story', a story that almost always involves a beautiful woman, often in skimpy clothing?

Unlike the rest of us, Graeme is very fortunate, getting to chat with such amazing people, but thankfully it doesn't stop there, since he lets us listen in to their fascinating and enlightening conversations. Some people get to interview celebrities such as Justin Beeber, Tom Cruise and Prince Charles, but we'd rather hear Graeme interview an interesting and intelligent person with something important to say over a merely famous person any day. Of course Ayaan Hirsi Ali is quite renown in certain circles, and deservedly so, but rather than discuss an upcoming movie, her relationship ups and downs, or what she wore to the Oscars, she would rather discuss serious topics that the world needs to understand, but that many would rather not hear, and that many find blasphemous. It's worrying that your average man and woman on the street is quite negative towards Islam and Muslims in their community, and yet few know anything about the religion, or that's there's a huge difference between a liberal Muslim and a truly fanatical Muslim, just as there's a huge difference between how seriously the pope and your old uncle take their individual devotion to Jesus.

So that's our advice folks, go listen to Ayaan Hirsi Ali if you can, listen to Graeme's show in the weekend, you'll definitely learn something interesting, and for the rest of the week, try reading a book about something real and important, one that isn't about sport, fashion, cooking, gardening or the British royal family. And yes, love is real and important, but Mills & Boon books are still off limits.

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 07 Mar, 2017 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Comments:

  1. Comment by Mikaere, 04 Apr, 2017

    Hi John. I have just heard that Ayaan's visit to Australasia has been cancelled due to security concerns. In Australia a few hundred people petitioned for her to be silenced. A few hundred have prevented thousands from hearing her voice!

    We have the original silly belief — belief in a god. Atheists consider all religions illogical and superstition-driven. They dismiss them as being as irrational as numerology and astrology but generally benign. With Islamism, however, another silly belief is feeding its ever-increasing demands for power and domination over unbelievers. I am referring to cultural relativism, where 'useful idiots' believe that all cultures are equal. To them, anyone who disagrees is a racist and more specifically, an Islamophobe.

    I am unconcerned about being called a racist, as the term has been so watered down to be meaningless. Some people though are more scared of this epithet than they care about their fellow countrymen, or children, hence the Rotherham scandal.

    The silly belief of cultural relativism is basically condoning, or even supporting, paedophilia, rape, honour killings, homophobia, female genital mutilation, animal cruelty and anti-semitism. I have just read an account of a Swedish 14 year old being sexually assaulted and her father being threatened with a hate crime conviction for reacting badly when police did nothing to the person responsible, a 19 year old, who from birth, has been taught that women are second class and foreign women fair game for rape and brutality.

    Canada is mooting a blasphemy law. Other western countries regularly silence critics of this barbaric ideology. In the 21st century, there is actual legislation against criticising religion!

    Why is the liberal community, feminists included, so intent on giving Islamism a free ride? Mainstream media downplay negative stories about Islamic Terrorism. After a terrorist attack in Germany a major network headline was — 'Truck Crashes into Crowd'. After the next shooting, will we see, 'Bullets Kill Gay People'?

    Note I am talking about Islamism, not Islam. No go Sharia zones have no place in civilised countries. People peacefully practising religion, no problem. Belligerently evangelising, no way.

    I believe that all people should be treated equally but I don't believe what people do should be automatically accepted if it clashes with our values. I don't believe that western guilt should be sufficient reason to lay down a blanket of immunity on practices which have no place in a civilised society.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 04 Apr, 2017

    Hi Mikaere. It's very annoying to hear that Ayaan's visit has been cancelled due to the ignorant attitude of a few.

    We agree wholeheartedly with your comments. Leaders of the Western world continually proclaim that we won't let Islamic terrorists and Islamism impact on our freedoms and lifestyle, that their atrocities will only see us emboldened, and yet at the same time Western governments consider laws that make criticising religion a crime, legally permit some inhumane acts if performed in the name of religion, and enforce weakly or turn a blind eye completely to other atrocious behaviour that conflicts with our Western values. It's unbelievable that not only are we not willing to get rid of our ancient blasphemy laws, because they're unjust and unused, we're seriously looking at strengthening them and enforcing them.

    All this cultural relativism is just bullshit, and Christians and Jews siding with Islam and demanding that we respect people's religious beliefs is just a devious attempt to stop criticism of their own silly beliefs. We need to convince Islam to undergo its own enlightenment, just as Christianity and Judaism did centuries ago, but instead we seem to be willing to overturn some of our hard won enlightenment values and submit to the will of Islam. Cultural relativists will tell us it's so we don't offend their beliefs, don't force our arbitrary beliefs on them, but really it's just a bribe so that they'll leave us alone as they go on their murderous spree throughout the world. As you said, these are 'practices which have no place in a civilised society', and Islamists (and Muslims in general), are not fighting for independence and control of a single country, their God-driven duty is to take the entire world. It may not be today or tomorrow, but if left alone, eventually they will come for you.

    Just as fatal diseases can quickly spread worldwide today, thanks to air travel, so too can Islam spread if we let it. Giving in to Muslims in far away countries, letting them follow their barbaric religion, is like giving in to those superstitious Africans who believe that raping a virgin will cure AIDS. We may not know the apostates the Muslims kill or the young girls raped and infected, but we still know that horrible injustices have been committed. Just because they were committed by another culture doesn't somehow make it right or at least acceptable. No innocent human deserves to be murdered or raped just because they live in a different country or their parents believe in a different sky fairy.

    If rather than producing reasons and evidence, religious morons have to resort to legal threats, terrorism, bombs and the slaughter of the innocent to defend their belief in some invisible sky fairy, then they should realise that maybe their silly belief is just that. And while Islam feeds the great majority of terrorism these days, and continues to act inhumanely towards women and animals, let's remember that Christians, Jews, Hindus and even Buddhists have committed atrocities in recent decades. Think Christians bombing abortion clinics and murdering abortion doctors, Jews shooting Palestinian farmers, and Catholics raping little boys. Even as we write this, the secretive cult in NZ known as the Gloriavale Christian Community is being investigated for child abuse. But without doubt Islam is winning in the number of people harmed.

    Certainly there is a major difference between the great majority of Muslims that are caring, decent and law-abiding and the minority of Muslims that are hateful, cold-blooded killers, just as there is a difference between most Christians who don't stone homosexuals to death even though their holy book commands them to, and the few deluded Christians who do persecute homosexuals, but thankfully are still too afraid to kill them, eg Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church. The clear reality, as others have pointed out, is that hundreds of millions of decent Muslims and Christians are lending support to the handful that take the words in their holy book very seriously, as if they really were written by God. It may be unwilling and unwitting support perhaps, but by proclaiming that God is very real and needs to be worshiped and obeyed they are reassuring every fundamentalist that they are doing the right thing. Let's remember that the Islamists or Muslim fundamentalists that resort to terrorism to convert the world to Islam aren't making it all up as they go along. It is clearly set out in their holy books. Without the indirect support of millions, they would be as obscure a group as the Flat Earth Society. Would the Catholic Church have the power that they do if no one outside the Vatican believed in the pope and his version of God? The Catholic Church flourishes and their pedophile priests escape justice because millions of Catholics who would never harm a child continue to support them while at the same time mumbling about the child sex abuse. Likewise murderous Islamists gain new recruits to their cause because millions of Muslims keep telling them, and the world, that Allah is real and the Koran is God's guide for how we should all live — 'Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war'. (Koran 9:5).

    As atheists, we think it's bullshit to criticise and condemn Islamists but not more moderate Muslims. The reality is that they're both believing in nonsense, and when you start believing in nonsense who knows where it might lead, what dangerous paths you might stumble down. In a worse case scenario, people might even start slaughtering those who don't believe as they do.

  3. Comment by Phillip, 02 May, 2017

    Hi John. I attach this link for your perusal: Can a burgeoning satanic movement actually effect political change?

    Lucien Greaves, the co-founder of The Satanic Temple (TST), was recently interviewed by Seth Andrews (of The Thinking Atheist) in a March Podcast. During the interview Greaves discussed his views and the work being done by the TST to throw a spanner in the works of those Christian groups who are trying to get around the US Constitutional requirement of dividing Church and State by demanding the same rights and privileges afforded to other religious groups (mostly Christian). Some of these protests have included offering Satanic prayers (when "inspirational" writings have been allowed at events) or demanding the erection of Satanic statues where Christian symbols are allowed.

    I'm a liberal, I make no apologies for saying that. I do not believe that I should be sticking my "views" into other peoples bedrooms or dictating what people should or should not do with their bodies or how they should live their lives. But, and there is always a 'but', such a view taken to its extreme does lead to a moral relativism where everything is okay and we really should not interfere with other people's moral or cultural beliefs. However, as you have often pointed out, some of these moral and cultural beliefs are truly awful and terrible and other people, often innocent children, pay a high price for them. So I personally have a fall back option. I chose secular Western Culture. It's not perfect, and it still has a long way to go, but in comparison with many other beliefs and cultures out there (and having studied Anthropology I have come across a few of them) I still think it has the best set of rules and morals to go by.

    So when it comes to a group who feel that female genital mutilation is okay because it is cultural and customary I can say bullshit to that. I was conflicted about the French law banning the Burkas, part of me wanted to say hey it doesn't hurt anyone and they are happy to wear it. But another way of looking at it is that this was a form of fashion designed to prevent women from being fully part of society. Should this be allowed in a modern secular state and should not the state be actively involved in protecting its most vulnerable citizens? Yet recently some young Muslim women were hassled on a French beach for wearing Burkinis, is this not heading to the other extreme? I tell you being a liberal atheist is not always easy.

    Which is why I found the interview with Lucien Greaves so refreshing — here is a group that is hitting the religious extreme where it really hurts. Yes do please pass pro religious legislation and then have to deal with the Satanic group demanding equal time under that legislation. A group whose ceremonies and prayers, I am told, are far more entertaining and interesting than the crusty old Christian ones. I have wondered if there was a place for such a group here in New Zealand or if one already exists.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 03 May, 2017

    Hi Phillip. Thanks for the link. It says that in the USA 'The Satanic Temple' wants to 'challenge the privileged relationship Christianity has with government', and expose 'how government institutions favor Christianity in ways that would never be tolerated for other religions'. Other groups, such as the American Atheists organisation, have also challenged the duplicity of the law in the US by erecting atheistic plaques where churches have been allowed to put religious plaques, such as the Ten Commandments, or atheistic displays where religious displays have been allowed, such as nativity scenes at Xmas. Most Americans, like most citizens of deeply religious countries, arrogantly believe that signs of their religious beliefs should not only be everywhere, but also protected and supported by government, while the beliefs of everyone else should be suppressed. The USA is a real anomaly, scientifically so advanced but so backward when it comes to religion. It almost seems impossible that a country with so many ignorant, superstitious people could have made the amazing advances that they have, in everything from science to democracy, advances that generally conflicted with their religious beliefs every step of the way. I guess it's a case of the intelligent and secular few providing scientific marvels and legal safeguards that the ignorant and hypocritical masses grabbed with indecent haste, even though they weren't sanctioned by their God. They're like the Muslim terrorists who condemn the decadent ways of the Western world, but happily take our assault rifles, cell phones and porno movies.

    So we're happy to support anyone that exposes the hypocrisy of religious groups. Everyone needs to realise that laws that are fair and just must apply to everyone, not just to a particular group. Either everyone is eligible for some benefit or no one is. Freedom of expression, for example, should not just apply to people that believe in the same sky fairy as they do, it must apply to everyone. Our philosophy is that freedom of expression or actions should be unrestrained as long as no harm is caused to others. If someone wants to believe that Jesus was a 30-year-old virgin, that he could walk on water but couldn't get a girlfriend, or boyfriend, then we won't try and force them to change their minds. If they try and sway us to their way of thinking, then we'll openly challenge, and laugh, at their beliefs, but we still won't attempt to force them to reject their beliefs. But if their silly beliefs cause harm to others, say they want their children to handle venomous snakes or to forgo medical treatment in lieu of prayer, or undergo genital mutilation, then that's when we should be interfering in the lives of others. We believe Western culture is superior in the area where we apply secular ethics, where we base our behaviour and treatment of others on reason, not on barbaric and/or irrational commandments that ignorant and superstitious men imagined that invisible gods told them thousands of years ago.

    Like you Phillip, we were also a little conflicted about the French law banning veils in public and headscarves in public schools, as well as some towns banning burkinis, but if we were French, we probably would have supported it. Of course it's not a black and white issue, and veils are just an obvious symbol of a much greater problem, in our view. We feel that most Muslim women are forced to wear the veil, therefore they are being harmed. It's a form of slavery. And as you say, it prevents women from participating fully in society, because in many cases, not only are you not allowed to recognise them, you're not even allowed to talk to them. I've worked in Muslim countries like Iran and Malaysia and many Muslim women have told me privately that they hate covering up and love to wear bikinis when they travel overseas. And even those fundamentalists that choose to wear veils disrupt our secular society by dividing society. If we accept that some women can go around incognito, based on their religion, but you or I can't, then the next step for them is to want their own laws, ie Sharia, segregated communities, schools and food preparation, different days off work for prayer etc, and soon there would effectively be theocracies operating within our secular states. They would be like a cancer and if allowed to grow would eventually kill the body, or at least make it very unwell.

    The French beach

    We're a fan of that saying, When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you don't like driving on the right side of the road, then don't move to the USA. If you hate the cold, don't move to Greenland. If you hate rice and noodles and refuse to learn Mandarin, don't move to China. Likewise, if you hate the secular nature of France, with their freedom of speech, gender equality and nudity on their beaches, then don't go there. If you find yourself in France but want to live in a Muslim theocracy where burkas are the norm, where women are the property of men and female genital mutilation and honour killings aren't illegal, then move to one of those countries, don't expect France to suppress their values to not only accommodate a lifestyle they view as barbaric, but tolerate one that is threatening their own future and wellbeing.

    Islamic anger management

    Again, it's more than just allowing the veil, it's the harm that could result if we let religious groups become exempt to the laws, values and norms of our secular societies. There are already religious groups fighting to have any criticism of religion made illegal, for it to be seen as hate speech, which would be the first step in destroying our secular society and would put us on the road back to seeing heretics burnt at the stake. The likes of 'The Satanic Temple' and even this website only exist because we've decided as a society to allow numerous freedoms, such as free speech and wearing bikinis. Think of Muslims and their persecution of women and atheists, Catholics and their opposition to abortion and contraception, and Sikh's and their insistence on carrying knives in public. If we start curtailing some of society's secular laws and freedoms to appease ignorant, superstitious believers in sky fairies, then not only will we be sowing the seeds of our own destruction, we'll also become spineless hypocrites, refusing to live by our own values, meekly acquiescing to values that we long ago rejected as ignorant and unjust. Surely we should be as committed to our secular values as Muslims and Christians are to theirs? Many Muslims are not willing to take off the veil, so why is it that secular societies are the ones that must compromise, why do their views trump ours?

    As for whether there's a need for the likes of the 'The Satanic Temple' in NZ, we don't think there is, since thankfully religion doesn't have the same influence here as it does in the USA, or Saudi Arabia. Churches are occasionally annoying, but they're not fighting to put the Ten Commandments in our courtrooms or classrooms, Xmas is all about Santa and not Jesus, the All Blacks don't pray before a game, and soon there will be more non-religious folk in the country than religious. Our experience is that in NZ Christians often see themselves as lepers, and keep their beliefs to themselves, fearful that most people around them will be non-believers and will possibly challenge them. The USA has quite some way to go to match NZ as regards keeping God out of their public lives.

The fantasy world of gods & unicorns
Small Gods Do you like a ripping good fantasy story, one with adventures intermingled with a love story, with witches and flying serpents, evil gods and demons, heroes and villains, beautiful naked maidens and illicit sex, battles and violence on a grand scale, intrigue and betrayal, and some space aliens thrown in for good measure? Perhaps you're a fan of the Harry Potter books, or the sagas of the Viking gods such as Thor, maybe you're a Doctor Who fan, a zombie fan, a vampire fan, or perhaps you love the battle between good and evil as played out in the Star Wars universe? Like us, do you enjoy the humour of Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' books, with their utterly ridiculous plots and characters? If you love fantasies, and can suspend your disbelief, can overlook the utter impossibility of the beings that populate these tales, all in the harmless pursuit of retreating into a fantasy universe for a little entertainment, then have you ever considered reading the Bible? It has all of the above, from talking donkeys (just like in the 'Shrek' movie) to bewitching maidens (like 'Shrek' again), or if you're into that sort of thing, maidens behaving like those in the old 'Deep Throat' porno movie with Linda Lovelace. And yes, there really are pornographic passages in the Bible.

Don't believe us that the Bible is a good fantasy read? Well, here's a testimonial we recently received from Ron:

'Hello John. For the first time I dug into some of the ridiculous stories and advice in the Bible, over the weekend, and they were good medicine. They made me laugh more than I've done in a long time. I would like to share a few here. You probably know of a number of them but perhaps some readers may not be so aware.

Matt:21:18. Jesus the tree killer. He came across this fig tree which had no fruit so he throws a tantrum and curses the tree which caused it to wither and die. Not a very productive act. Being Jesus, didn't he know it was likely out of season? Some Christians argue that there are morals in all these things. ie in this story it's about righteousness and being fruitful. Hmm. Really, in most of these you would be struggling to find any hidden message or moral. Anyway, I continue.

Genesis 19:30-38. This is about Lot's daughters sleeping with their father because his libido had faded badly. Had they never heard of incest?

Deuteronomy 22:10. God says one must not plow using an ox and a donkey together. Hasn't God got better and more worthwhile advice to give than this trivia?

1 Samuel 18:25-27. David who slew Goliath and cut his head off wanted to marry into the royal family. King Saul said if he wants his daughter he must bring him 100 foreskins (circumcision was the norm then). Instead he brings 200. Oik!! I hope they don't discuss some of these passages at Sunday school!!

Ezekiel 4:11. Eze was planning the siege of Jerus but wanted God's help. God had some specific requirements incl. he had to lie on one side for 390 days, the other for 40. He also was to make bread from human faeces. In the end God allowed him to use cow pats. Delisimo!!

Zephaniah 1:12. God will search Jerusalem with candles to find those who scoff at him. But he is God, would he not know who they are and does he need candles to see in the dark?

Psalms 14:1 and 53:1. People who don't believe in a God fail to do anything good. Simply not true.

Genesis 18:17. God asks himself if he should hide his plans to destroy Sodom, from Abraham. God asking himself?? And if Abraham knew could he have stopped God anyway?

Leviticus 14 has a long recipe to cure someone of skin disease, presumably leprosy. Put very briefly it could read: kill a bird and put its blood on another bird, killing a healthy lamb and rubbing its blood on the leper plus killing 2 doves. What a bloody carry on.

Matt 5:38-43. The well known one about if someone slaps you on the face turn the other cheek to him, if someone asks for your shirt, give him your coat also and give them whatever they ask of you or borrow. Does anybody really follow that advice today? If so, with the murderous types out there and those more than willing to take advantage you could end up dead or in hospital, hypothermic, or destitute.

Revelations 10:10. An evangelist takes a book from an angels hand and eats it. He says it tastes sweet as honey but turned his stomach sour. Ezekiel 3:1-3, he ate a scroll, also sweet as honey.

And finally this doozey. Eze 1:27-28 says he saw God and described him as glowing in a metallic way from waist up and on fire down below and surrounded by light like a rainbow. You would want to cross the road to avoid that, eh?

John, I just finished the book by Ian Wishart titled 'Eve's Bite', which I got free from a Salvation Army shop. Ian comes across as very intelligent and an excellent writer who does his research. What stuns me is he freely admits that he believes every word in the Bible as infallible. And that includes that stuff I've quoted here? Of course most Christians do believe every word as he does, regardless of the numerous silly useless nonsensical verses, but I have to say lots of Christian folk ignore lots of the Bible, quoting only passages that suit. Often this is because they find many as awkward or inconvenient, maybe downright embarrassing. There is great faith that Jesus spoke only the truth. However, he tells us that faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. Have you ever heard of this happening in history? Does this make Jesus a liar? I finish with Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding". I think that is the most commonly used quote by Christians as a cop-out, to cover all the flaws.'

And we agree wholeheartedly with Ron, the Bible is indeed full of ridiculous stories and advice. I think we'd heard of most of them, though maybe not the leprosy cure or the sweet tasting scrolls. Most Christians won't know of half of them, and of those that they do know, they are at pains never to mention them when debating with non-believers. As Ron says, they find them downright embarrassing, and quote only safe passages that suit their argument.

And he's right about Proverbs 3:5, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding', it's a perfect justification for Christians to ignore and reject what they understand about the world, to reject the robust knowledge and evidence produced by scientific and historical research, and to place their blind faith in a space alien that they've never seen, and for which there is no evidence for. That commandment is identical to the demand made by con artists trying to sell people bogus investments or bogus cures, who tell their marks not to consult with their lawyers or doctors, but to simply trust them, and hand over their money.

As we learn more and more about life and the universe, the holy books of all religions, not just the Bible, become more and more ridiculous and clearly the work of primitive, hugely ignorant folk living long ago. That intelligent, educated people, like Christian fundamentalist Ian Wishart, can still take them seriously staggers belief. Seriously, any book that talks of men walking on water; stars falling to the Earth; the Sun and Moon stopping in the sky; the seas being held back by doors and bars; the Earth being flat and mounted on pillars; demons being driven out of a man into pigs; talking snakes, donkeys and bushes; men raising people from the dead, turning water into wine and staffs into snakes; snow and hail being kept in storerooms in the sky; unicorns, dragons, satyrs and flying serpents and reindeer, surely sophisticated people should quickly realise that it's all bullshit? (Oh sorry, that last one, the flying reindeer, was one of Santa's claimed miracles, after a while all the world's fairy tales tend to roll into one).

We'd like to make a few comments on some of the stories Ron mentioned, since there's always more flaws in them than first meets the eye.

Jesus and his childish hissy fit with the fig tree is one of the many, many stories that the original editors of the Bible should have rejected. It's just shows him up as pathetic, but even worse, it shows him as impotent. If he had the magical powers to make the tree immediately wither, and we know he has the power to raise the dead, turn water in wine and feed thousands by multiplying a few fish and loaves, why couldn't his magical powers bring forth some figs from a fig tree? Seems like child's play to us.

The Biblical acceptance for the incest of Lot's daughters supposedly comes from their belief that there were no men left alive on Earth, besides their father, who could get them pregnant and continue the family line as per God's wishes, ie go forth and multiply. But the Bible clearly states that while he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding plain, God spared the town of Zoar so that Lot and his family could find a place of safety. They eventually left Zoar and lived in fear (presumably of God) in a cave in the mountains, but his daughters knew perfectly well that there were men in the town of Zoar at least (and we can assume in the lands beyond the plain), so their story makes no sense. The only scenario that does make sense is that Lot raped his daughters, and made up the story of them screwing him in his drunken stupor to explain their pregnancies when they returned to civilisation. If you don't think a decent God-fearing man could do that to his daughters, then read on. Furthermore, it's highly unlikely that Lot was sober enough to get an erection and yet was so drunk that he had no memory of having sex with both his daughters, and probably on numerous occasions, as it's unlikely that both daughters became pregnant on their first attempt. We're asked to believe that these are the only three good and decent people God thought worthy of saving from Sodom and Gomorrah, he even murdered their mother for simply peeking at the destruction. And what was the crime of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah? The Bible doesn't say exactly, just that, 'the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD' GE 13:13. The usual claim is that it was sexual deviancy of some sort, and our guess, based on what happened just prior to the destruction, it was down to God's homophobia. According to the bible, a crowd of men 'called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."' GE 19:5. Instead Lot graciously offered his daughters to the baying crowd to be gang raped in return for the safety of his two males guests. That's what a good host did in those days. He said to the crowd: 'Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them'. GE 19:8 Lot offers his two daughters up for gang rape (but they escape), then later on probably rapes them both in a cave, or at least allows himself to have sex with them while drunk (always an acceptable excuse), and these people, exhibiting such immoral behaviour, are the people that God goes out of his way to save, knowing everything that they did and would do even before they did it. He killed the men for wanting to have homosexual sex with Lot's guests, but rewarded Lot for offering his daughters to be gang raped. That most Christians know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot, his daughters and his wife turned to a pillar of salt, and aren't ashamed and disgusted by it just shows how little time they've spent thinking about what really happened. (The two Biblical cartoons in this post are from the book by Horus Gilgamesh and Agnes Tickheathen: 'Awkward Moments (Not Found in Your Average) Children's Bible, Volume #1'.)

Awkward Moments

Following the verse forbidding the dual use of an ox and a donkey for ploughing, outdated advice that people can easily ignore today, it gives another prohibition that must still apply today, that we must not wear clothes made of different materials, eg wool and linen or cotton and nylon. God is like one of those kids who can't stand having the potatoes and the peas on their dinner plate touching. And an earlier verse states that, 'A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.' DT 22:5 God is such a petty god, and he clearly has some serious problems. More truly valuable advice he offers is, 'Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk' EX 23:19. I'll put a note on my fridge to remind me. That one apparently prohibits the simple pleasure of eating a hamburger and drinking a milk shake at the same time, which luckily for the likes of McDonalds and Burger King, most everyone ignores. Not the Jews though.

Following those silly verses, there is a far more disturbing commandment from God:

'If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity," then the girl's father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate ... "here is the proof of my daughter's virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town ... If, however ... no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, ... the men of her town shall stone her to death ... You must purge the evil from among you.' DT 22:13-21
This is just a primitive example of some low-life buying an expensive DVD movie, watching it a few times, and then returning it to the shop and demanding a full refund, saying that they disliked it and it wasn't as good as they'd been led to believe. If the shop refuses a refund then they're stuck with a movie that they can still watch again or on sell, but if they agree they get their money back and the DVD is probably sold to someone else on the cheap. Either way they got to watch the movie, and no one dies. But how many virgins died because they weren't as sexy naked as their husbands had hoped, or weren't as obedient in the sack as they wanted them to be? How many men got to try out their wives in bed, and not happy, had them killed and moved on to the next one? Modern, educated people know that you can't medically or scientifically prove a girl is a virgin, let alone prove, after the fact, that she was a virgin before she had sex. And while primitive goat herders may not have known that, their all-knowing God from whom they were getting medical and legal advice would certainly have known that. God (if he existed), would have known whether she was a virgin, but he left it up to the girl's parents to argue her case and find evidence. Again, these stories should be explained to children (and adults) so they realise just how repulsive they are. We need to stop pretending that Bible stories are all about loving and caring parents protecting their children, and assisted by an even more loving and caring God. They're vile stories, disgusting examples of how we should act towards others, and we need to stop letting Christians hide them from children and even gullible adults.

Regarding the story of God compelling Ezekiel to lie on one side for 390 days etc, this is a perfect example of God acting as the bully that he is, torturing someone like a sadistic Mafia boss before he will grant them a favour. A correction though, God didn't tell Ezekiel to make bread from human faeces, he instructed him to use human faeces as fuel for his fire, but then relented and allowed him to use dried cow dung instead, which is a fuel that many societies have used throughout history. But initially telling him to use human faeces even as fuel demonstrates how cruel God can be, especially when we remember that Ezekiel was someone who worshiped him, God was dealing with a friend, not an enemy, not a heretic. The story also shows God changing his mind, being convinced by a mere human to change his plan because it was overzealous, which is something that should be impossible to do. If God is perfect and unchanging, then he can't make imperfect plans and can't change anything, since if you're already perfect, then any change can only make you less perfect, it can never make you more perfect than perfect. And in the Bible God is actually persuaded many times that he's made a mistake, and each time must have slipped further away from being the perfect, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful god that Christians claim he is.

As for the story of David bringing King Saul 200 foreskins to buy a marriage to his daughter, people fixate on the foreskins and fail to see the far more heinous elements in the tale. Ron said, 'I hope they don't discuss some of these passages at Sunday school!!', and of course the conniving bastards don't, but we wish they would, since more people would start to understand, and at a young age, what immoral and harmful things these people did, and are still doing, just to please an imaginary sky fairy. The more these embarrassing and revealing stories are publicised the more people will want to have nothing to do with the book that they come from. If adults keep hiding the ridiculous stories, the disgusting stories and the downright evil stories, and only tell sanitised feel-good stories to their children and to each other, then primitive, ignorant, immoral religions will keep staying around to harm society.

Awkward Moments

So what do Christians miss in that story? Why did King Saul want a bride-price of 100 Philistine foreskins? Why didn't he say his daughter was worth 50 shekels, 20 goats and a toaster? Were the foreskins ingredients for a special sauce? No, it was because Saul wanted David dead, and he believed setting such a dangerous and perverse task would achieve that, as the Bible explains: 'Saul's plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines' 1SA 18:25. This is the level of morality that God and the Bible promotes. And perhaps God got the idea of how to kill Jesus, while publicly keeping his hands clean, from Saul: as Saul tried to get the Philistines to kill David, God could get the Romans to kill Jesus? Everyone needs a good alibi, right? Whether it's the humans that God supports or God himself, you just can't trust the devious bastards to not try and kill you. But there's more immorality involved than just Saul conspiring to have David killed. He could have simply paid an assassin to kill him, or set him a very dangerous task, hoping he'd be killed, a task that didn't involve murdering 100 innocent strangers. But no, Saul told him to go out and slaughter 100 foreign heathens. This from a people that say they live by God's Ten Commandments, one of which says that they must not murder people. But as we've said before, the Jews felt this applied only to other Jews, not to filthy heathens, heathens with foreskins no less. And when it suited them, it didn't even apply to their fellow Jew, since Saul is conspiring to have David, a fellow Jew, killed. And God knew all this was going on, and being on David's side, may have even helped him slaughter 200 Philistines, for God also had no time for filthy heathens. God was a xenophobe, hating everyone that didn't belong to his little Hebrew desert tribe. And let's remember that the foreskins were a bride-price, the agreed price that David had to pay to purchase Saul's daughter, a business deal arranged in the same way that he would have agreed to buy a cow. To Saul, and to all fathers throughout much of history, his daughters were mere chattels, like a good sword or fast horse, his property to sell to whom he pleased for a good price. Yes, fathers valued and protected their daughters, but only to keep them pure and in good condition, which would ensure a high price when the time came to sell them. They viewed a daughter the same way they viewed a prize cow, as a valuable asset. That's why even today at weddings the father walks his daughter into the church and the priest asks, Who gives this woman away? and the father replies, I do. This is the father affirming to the community that he legally transfers his ownership of her to another man. And if the father is deceased, then they have to get another man, an uncle perhaps, to escort her up the aisle and authorise the transfer of ownership. And it used to be that priests would say, I now pronounce you man and wife, not husband and wife as they usually do now, which suggests equality, but 'man and wife', which was seen as saying, man and servant, or a man and his property. In marriage the man remained a man, but the woman changed into a wife, having been purchased by another family. Men purchased and owned their wives the way we purchase and own cars and smartphones today. Men would trade their daughters in the same way I would trade an old DVD player. Remember Lot offering to throw his own daughters to the crowd to save two complete strangers? Today decent people would give away every valuable thing they owned to keep their daughters safe, but the Bible tells us we should do just the opposite, give away our daughters to be abused to keep an invisible God happy. Of course the religious will argue that these were different times, dangerous times, ignorant times, and so morality was different back then, but that's bullshit. They had an all-knowing God advising them, a God that even today people claim is the only source of morality, that God is the only way we can tell right from wrong. Christians can't claim that the Bible characters were ignorant peasants doing the best they could in desperate times, they can't excuse their immoral behaviour and at the same time say they were devoutly following the moral guidance of a supreme being. Since God's moral code, by definition, can't change, and the only written evidence of that code is in the Bible, then clearly giving up your daughters for rape is exemplary moral behaviour. Since modern Jews and Christians now view that behaviour as abhorrent, that can only be because they believe mere humans can devise a far better code of conduct than their God can. And they can only teach their children this human devised morality if they hide the true messages buried in their Bible stories.

As for verse where 'God will search Jerusalem with candles to find those who scoff at him', there are many Bible quotes that show God to be anything but all-knowing, that he's as limited in knowledge and power as his primitive followers. In that story God didn't know who his detractors were or where they lived and didn't know of any lighting technology better candles. It was the same with one of the plagues that God visited on Egypt, the Hebrews had to mark their doors with blood so that God could recognise them and not kill their first born child. He had no idea who his followers were and couldn't tell them apart from the heathens, the Egyptians. And when Adam and Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, to find them God had to call out, 'Where are you?' So depending on what Bible verses one reads, some show that God knows intimately who his followers are, and would recognise them even if they were wearing a Spiderman costume, while others show that he's as ignorant as the village beggar.

Ron's right that it's silly for God to wonder whether he should tell Abraham he's about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible presents God as if he were a man, a powerful man, but on a roughly similar level to Abraham, fallible, unsure of what path to take, unsure of the consequences of his plans. In later Bible stories God becomes all-knowing, but in the early ones he's often as limited in his knowledge as the men he's pushing around. In the next verse, before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, God says he needs to go down personally and look to see if it's as bad as he's heard. He's not all-knowing, he needs to go have a look. And yes, why should God care what Abraham thinks about his plans, he has no concern at all for all the innocent people that he's about to slaughter? And while the Bible might claim that all the inhabitants were sexual deviants, we can't believe that all the children, toddlers and babies also deserved to be roasted alive. This story, if it has a germ of truth, is likely the result of ignorant, superstitious people trying to explain the destruction of a village by a natural disaster, and they decided to blame the homosexuals for the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Want to cure acne or ensure the Sun rises tomorrow? First, find a bird and a virgin, preferably cute ones. Killing all those animals in silly ritualistic ways to cure disease was repeated in primitive religions worldwide, where blood sacrifices had to be offered to blood-thirsty gods, and often they were human sacrifices. Think of the hundreds of humans sacrificed by the Aztec to their gods, and the Bible starts out with human sacrifice too, only later does it reduce to just animal sacrifice, but then God reverts back to human sacrifice with a vengeance, deliberately arranging the sacrifice of his own son. Christians even acknowledge that this was a human blood sacrifice by calling Jesus the sacrificial lamb. Catholics actually believe they are eating the real flesh of Jesus and drinking his real blood at Catholic Communion, that it's not merely a ritualistic symbol, which would make them willingly cannibals and vampires. Even if one is to ignore the inhumane sacrifice and burnt offering aspect, every modern Christian should be embarrassed to embrace a book that contains such superstitious and bogus medical advice.

And Ron is right, apart from a handful of deluded Christians who quickly become destitute, none give away their belongings to people that ask for them, meaning not just their coat, but their house and bank accounts as well. This advice only made sense to the disciples because they were convinced that the world was to end any day now, and so possessions would be useless anyway. Of course they were badly mistaken, and 2,000 years later various Christians denominations are still predicting the end of the world, and getting it wrong yet again. And rather than give their wealth to those less fortunate, churches actually do just the opposite, they take money from the poor and use it to fund their decadent lifestyles, just think of the obscene wealth of the Catholic Church, TV evangelists and the mega-churches in the USA, even our own Bishop Brian Tamaki who preys on the poor and ignorant in society, and returns home at night to his mansion.

Ron wonders whether Jesus was lying when he said faith could literally move a real mountain. Of course we don't think it's all that likely that Jesus even existed, but if we treat the Bible stories like we treat the Harry Potter stories, then the Jesus character is either lying or seriously deluded. And of course his disciples should have immediately recognised that, since as Ron said, it has never happened, not then, not now. And if Jesus was telling the truth, it should have happened untold times, and not just mountains moving, but untold humongous obstacles should have mysteriously moved about to suit the desires of the faithful. This what Jesus said,

'I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.' MT 17:20
So according to Jesus you didn't have to be super-faithful to move mountains, a small amount of faith was sufficient. With just small germ of faith there is nothing a believer couldn't do; move mountains, fly like a bird, become invisible, travel to the Moon, breath underwater, turn a barren patch of desert into an oasis to rival a Las Vegas casino, all with just a simple utterance. They could do impossible things. And yet no one ever did. Of all the people that throughout the centuries we can assume had far greater faith than just a mustard seed's worth, none ever did anything impossible, none ever moved a mountain or even a mole hill. And if Christians argue that Jesus, contrary to what he clearly said, meant that the faithful could merely achieve great things, rather than actually move mountains, then why didn't they? Many of the faithful have wished to see the end of poverty or famine or war, but that hasn't happened either. Is the blatant and embarrassing lack of miracles due to the fact that not a single Christian throughout history has ever had enough faith in the existence of their God for him to grant a single miracle? Regardless of how they act, are they atheists in their heart, and God knows it?

As Ron said, 'There is great faith that Jesus spoke only the truth', but why do Christians believe this, and what do they mean by it? Do they mean that Jesus was a moral person and simply refused to lie, or do they mean that Jesus was incapable of lying? It's the second. Christians believe Jesus had divine access to the knowledge of the cosmos, that he knew what the truth was on any and every matter, and more than that, his nature, his perfection, prevented him from uttering anything but the truth. So, Jesus is just like God then? Well, this is where it gets confusing, since it seems Jesus is God. Wait ... what ... Jesus is God? Yes, apparently Jesus was just God in disguise; give him long hair, a false beard and a dirty old robe and no one noticed. Of course this twist in the Biblical story introduces a multitude of problems concerning what God/Jesus said and did, like how can Christians call Jesus the son of God if they're one and the same person, and if Jesus was God, then Jesus the man didn't die on the cross. It was all a charade. For the Christians that worship Jesus and argue that he isn't God, he really is the son of God, then that means that there is now more than one god up there in space, and they're breaking God's first commandment by worshiping a god other than God. We can see why the Jews didn't want a bar of the Jesus story, since it really did screw up all they work they'd done to promote the idea that there was only one god, and not families of gods up in space, all watching us from their thrones as all the other ancient cultures believed.

Also we need to mention that Jesus used the example of the mustard seed because, as he claimed elsewhere in the Bible, it was the smallest seed that existed. and of course Jesus aka God would know this because he knows everything and whatever he says is true. Only it's not true. There are seeds smaller than the mustard seed, for example, orchid seeds, and even in the time of Jesus some of his more learned audience would have known that. And even if they didn't, God certainly would have known, since didn't he create the orchid seed? Or maybe he didn't? So clearly Jesus wouldn't recognise the truth if it wore a short skirt and propositioned him in a dark Jerusalem alley.

Of course this is just a teaser, just a sprinkling of the fanciful tales of barbaric gods, silly and immoral humans, woeful ignorance, and yes, even unicorns, that can be found in the Bible. Look for it in your local library, or favourite bookshop, in the fantasy section. And if you enjoy your read, here's a sampling of books from our Recommended Books page that can reveal more about the hidden gems in the Bible:

Book

'The Harlot by the Side of the Road'
Forbidden Tales of the Bible

Jonathan Kirsch

Book

'Holy Enigma!'
Bible Verses You'll Never
Hear in Sunday School

Steve Ward


Book

'The Uncensored Bible'
The Bawdy and Naughty Bits
of the Good Book

John Kaltner, Steven L. McKenzie
and Joel Kilpatrick


Book

'Awkward Moments
(Not Found in Your Average)
Children's Bible'

Volume #1

Horus Gilgamesh & Agnes Tickheathen


Book

'God Hates You, Hate Him Back'
Making Sense of the Bible

C J Werleman


Book

'God is Disappointed in You'

Mark Russell

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Mar, 2017 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Comments:

  1. Comment by Patrick, 06 Mar, 2017

    Hi John. Thanks for your latest post. We could also add to Ron's list the "I am a jealous God" quote Exodus 20:5. Forgive us God, we did not want to make you jealous.

  2. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Mar, 2017

    Thanks Patrick. We're well aware of God's problem with jealousy, and I'm hiding under my bed as I type this, I have my Star Wars light sabre next to me, I'm wearing my Harry Potter Cloak of Invisibility and my tinfoil hat is pulled firmly down around my ears. But seriously, your choice of quote, part of the Ten Commandments, is an excellent one as it again raises more problems with the God fantasy. My dictionary defines jealousy as:

    'Fearful or wary of being supplanted; apprehensive of losing affection or position; Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious; jealous of the success of others; Vigilant in guarding something; Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity'.
    Can humans be jealous, of course, but how could an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving God possibly be jealous of anything or anyone? It's impossible. Why would God be fearful of being supplanted if he's the only God that exists? Supplanted by who? It makes no sense. How could he be 'bitter in rivalry; envious; jealous of the success of others', when no one, by definition, could do anything that even remotely rivalled his exploits and accomplishments. That's like an Olympic champion with a dozen gold medals being jealous of an athlete that failed to even make the Olympic team.

    But there is a scenario where God could be rightly jealous, where he's 'Intolerant of disloyalty'. And that's where he's just a god, one among many, rather than God, the all-powerful, all-knowing God, the only one that exists and has ever existed. If God is fighting with many other gods for his share of followers, then he will of course be jealous, clearly spelling it out that he won't tolerate disloyalty. He will forever be fearful of being supplanted by some rival god, and deeply afraid that he'll lose his followers' affection. But isn't this just silly talk, what evidence is there in the Bible that there are other gods competing with the Hebrew God? I mean, other religions claim that there are other gods, like Osiris, Zeus, Apollo and Thor, but surely the Bible wouldn't openly admit that there were other gods out there, would they? Well, in the Ten Commandments, right at the start God tells his followers: 'You shall have no other gods before me'. That commandment, that order, only makes sense if people had a choice of gods, and many (most) were choosing those other gods over the Hebrew God. When the Bible tells people that they must not have sex with sheep, it means that they thought that they must put that prohibition in because clearly people were having sex with sheep, and it needed to stop. Same as when it forbids tattoos, homosexuality and working on the Sabbath. If some Hebrews weren't already getting tattoos, then there was no need to mention it. They don't prohibit people jumping off tall cliffs because of course no sane person ever would. But in the first books of the Bible there are clearly many gods for the people of the Middle East to choose from, and clearly the Hebrew writers thought they were real gods competing with their God. Only much later does the Bible start suggesting that the gods of the other nations around them, the Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians for example, were never actually real. In the beginning they were very real, or at least as real as the Hebrew god, and Hebrews needed to remain loyal to their jealous God, or else! Or else what? Well, following on from where God says he's a jealous god, he says that for anyone that considers other gods, he will be 'punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me'. This is the evil and disgusting threat of dictators and terrorists, who say to people that they're afraid of, If you don't submit to my demands I will find your children and torture and kill them. I will find your spouse and parents and everyone you love and I will torture and kill them. You may escape my grasp, but rest assured your children, family and friends won't. And apparently these vile scum got the idea from God.

    We all accept, even Christians, that those other gods like Osiris, Zeus, Apollo and Thor, aren't real, and that their ancient holy texts are just misguided fantasies, so why can't Christians, Jews and Muslims grasp that their ancient holy text is just as fantastical, not to mention deeply immoral? All Christians purportedly live by the Ten Commandments, and many argue to have them engraved on giant plaques outside courtrooms, hanging in every classroom and taught to children, so how can any halfway decent person condone and promote these demands when they contain such depravity? Mainly because apathetic Christians read very little of their Bible, and of the bits they do read, they comprehend even less. It's their gross ignorance that allows them to tearfully worship a god that will torture, not them, but the innocent — their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren and their great-great-grandchildren — if they step out of line in any way. It's depressing that such depraved animals still walk among us.

  3. Comment by Graeme, 07 Mar, 2017

    I still love your work and the rigour with which you go about it.

  4. Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 07 Mar, 2017

    Thanks Graeme. As we said to someone yesterday, a short response is easy, we can just agree with comments, and sometimes we do, but the purpose of our website is not to just say that these beliefs are silly, it's to try and explain to people why they're silly. To provide some evidence and logic where we can, to add even more arguments to the cause. We can simply say that a Bible verse is ridiculous, which is fine when two informed atheists are talking, but Christians will usually reply that we're misinterpreting it or taking it out of context, so we want to provide reasons that make it difficult for them to say that, that show we aren't misinterpreting it, that our reading is what any intelligent person would be expected to take from that verse. We've found that you can't sway anyone's view by quickly hopping on Facebook or Twitter and simply saying, You know you're wrong don't you?

    Unconditional love

Pope: atheists better than Catholics
The brain bin News flash: The pope has finally affirmed that atheists are better people than Catholics!

Well ... duh!

And it's taken them 2,000 years to figure that out? No, it's just taken them that long to admit it. Well OK, perhaps you might accuse us of being a little simplistic here (or are we?), since what Pope Francis actually suggested was that atheists are better than 'hypocritical Catholics'. But our argument would be that all Catholics are hypocrites, including Pope Franny, which means our original statement is correct, it's better to be an atheist. So what did Pope Francis really say?

The other day Patrick sent us a link that he rightly thought might interest us:

Pope suggests 'better to be atheist than hypocritical Catholic'
We know what you're thinking, what the Funk & Wagnalls, is the pope on drugs, or a double agent for the Atheist Alliance? Or is it the result of the Vatican always selecting really old men for the post and dementia is setting in?

It's a brief article so we'll quote it in full below:

'Pope suggests 'better to be atheist than hypocritical Catholic''

Pope Francis delivered another criticism of some members of his own Church on Thursday, suggesting it is better to be an atheist than one of "many" Catholics who he said lead a hypocritical double life.
In improvised comments in the sermon of his private morning Mass in his residence, he said: "It is a scandal to say one thing and do another. That is a double life." "There are those who say 'I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association'," the head of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church said, according to a Vatican Radio transcript.
He said that some of these people should also say "'my life is not Christian, I don't pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life'." "There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal," he said. "How many times have we all heard people say 'if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist'."
Since his election in 2013, Francis has often told Catholics, both priests and lay people, to practice what their religion preaches. In his often impromptu sermons, he has condemned sexual abuse of children by priests as being tantamount to a "Satanic Mass", said Catholics in the mafia excommunicate themselves, and told his own cardinals to not act as if they were "princes". Less than two months after his election, he said Christians should see atheists as good people if they do good.'

Personally we suspect he's a plant sent in to undermine the Vatican from within, and who has more influence than the pope? And we'd agree that what the pope says is true, and rational, which are two words you never expect atheists to attach to an official statement from someone in the Vatican.

Now Ron has written, adding his voice to the pope's surprising criticism of his own grubby organisation:

'Hiya John. You may have seen a very recent news item where the Pope is giving some Catholics a rark up [see the above article] ... The Pope is regarded as a great guy these days, so I wonder could he be into the odd hypocrisy or hidden meanings at times. Unintended, maybe. There are 2 comments I make. First, when saying it is better to be an atheist, an inference can be taken that Catholics are better than atheists anyway. Second, he brings up money laundering. Would I be not out of line saying that this statement, coming from the Vatican as such, smacks of a little bit of hypocrisy?

I found also this article quoting the Pope under the heading "Do good and you can go to heaven too". Pope Francis has good news for atheists. "Jesus died and was raised for them as well. His redemptive embrace was for all, not just a chosen few. The choice to accept its reach is our own. The church wants all to be saved" There is nothing new in those words or message from Francis really.

He continues, "Those people (atheists) must do good, this leads them to the one who is the source of all good". The article says the Popes challenge was just do good and we will find a meeting point, we will meet one another there. I'm a little unsure what the Pope was really meaning in those latter words but my imaginings give me a scenario. That atheists have this opportunity to get on one of these roads leading to heaven, that you may arrive at crossroads where you will meet this flow of Christians and others all heading to the paradise called heaven. Blimey I'm going to stop, this is sounding utterly nonsensical. Maybe John you may bother to try figure it out differently.'

First, Ron is right that for the Vatican to condemn money laundering smacks of hypocrisy, considering the unsavoury reputation and rumours concerning the operation of the Vatican Bank. He's also quite correct that the pope is implying that Catholics, good Catholics, not hypocritical Catholics, are better than atheists, infinitely better in fact, but this is an arrogant view that all religious believers hold, be they Jew, Muslim, Pentecostal or Catholic. It comes with the territory of believing that you're God's favourite. The pope is not in any way suggesting that a good atheist is on par with a good Catholic. He's saying that when Catholics fall from God's grace, they plummet down the ladder to a point below even atheists, and atheists are down near the bottom rung, well below even Jews and Muslims. The pope is likening duplicitous Catholics to smelly pond scum and atheists to lowly worms, and suggests that when Catholics see some of their fellow Catholics involved in 'dirty business', they think, 'if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist'. But these 'better' Catholics realise that even they aren't leading a life of true piety, of true Catholic devotion, and so on being given the option of being smelly pond scum or a lowly worm, they opt to be the worm, since it's at least a step up the evolutionary ladder.

Died for nothing The pope attacks the Catholics that say, by the example of their daily lives, 'I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life'. In other words, Catholics that are criminals and that don't care what harm they do. But why isn't the pope condemning your typical Catholic that isn't engaged in criminal behaviour, and yet is still leading a hypocritical, double life? Catholics that seldom go to Mass, that engage in casual sex, that use contraception, that blaspheme, that agree with abortion and voluntary euthanasia, that criticise the Church's view on celibacy for priests and nuns, that masturbate, that don't persecute homosexuals or treat women like second-class citizens, that live their lives as if they were atheists, and yet still identify themselves as Catholic? These typical but very 'flawed' Catholics are much better people than the money-laundering Catholics the pope condemns, but they are still a million miles from being good, pious Catholics. We know many Catholics, of varying piety — friends, extended family and associates — and while most would disagree, frankly all of them are closer to following atheistic and humanistic views than Bible-thumping Catholic views. All of them commit all or most of the sins we listed above, eg contraception, masturbation, blasphemy etc, so the reality that the pope needs to accept and acknowledge is that it's not just the dishonest and criminal Catholics that are hypocrites and leading a double life, every Catholic on the planet is a hypocrite.

The pope tells Catholics that they should 'practice what their religion preaches', but of course no one does, not even the pope himself. The above article notes that, 'Less than two months after his election, he [Pope Francis] said Christians should see atheists as good people if they do good.' But how can the pope, if he believes in the Bible, in God's Word, seriously believe that atheists are capable of doing good when God clearly states:

'The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.' (PS 14:1)
So is the pope being a little devious here, pretending that God will accept atheists who do good, while at the same time knowing that we never will, that doing good is beyond us, and that Heaven is quite safe from our odious presence? Apparently not, because in this article, the pope criticises the disciples of Jesus, saying that they '"were a little intolerant," thinking that "those who do not have the truth, cannot do good"', and says that Jesus was right to correct them. The pope goes on to say that, 'Jesus broadens the horizon. The root of this possibility of doing good — that we all have — is in creation'. So can atheists do good? Who are we to believe, God, Jesus or some old pope? And we need to remember that when Jesus suggested inclusiveness when discussing the claim that 'those who do not have the truth, cannot do good', he was referring to his fellow devout Jews, not atheists. When God, an all-knowing being, and the claimed creator of atheists, says that atheists are 'corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good', that we will go to Hell for eternal torture, and this same God commands his followers to kill atheists, why should we then believe the pope when he says atheists can do good, and if we do, will go to Heaven, not Hell? The pope appears to be saying that God got it horribly wrong, and that the Bible can't be believed, but if the pope is right (and he is, the Bible can't be believed), then the only obvious conclusion to reach is that God, Heaven and Hell aren't real. Like all the many other holy books from ancient times, the Bible is a work of fiction. The pope accuses some Catholics of being hypocrites, that they don't 'practice what their religion preaches', but then he too dismisses much of what his religion has preached for the last 2,000 years.

Of course when Christians gleefully throw that above quote at atheists, they almost never quote it in full, they just mention the first bit, that we're fools to deny God, and don't follow up with the bit about being vile and corrupt. Because of course even they know it's untrue. But other than that verse, are there any other Bible verses that have God and/or Jesus asserting that atheists — non-believers — are anything but good? Yes there are, and worse still, they command that we must be killed when we're discovered. For example:

'If a man or woman living among you ... is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky ... take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. ... You must purge the evil from among you.' DT 17:2-7

'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. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God ... If you hear it said about one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you to live in that wicked men have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods you have not known) ... you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock ... completely burn the town ... It is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.' DT 13:6-16

'The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.' DT 17:12-13

'They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul. All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.' 2CH 15:12-13

Some may attempt to argue that those verses are not explicitly referring to atheists, but to followers of other religions, but let's remember that true atheists would have been almost unheard of in those ignorant times, most everyone would have had a belief in some god or gods. Basically, in the Bible, the God of the Jews and later the Christians, condemns as evil anyone who doesn't believe in him. For example, modern atheists try to explain to Christians why belief in God is silly, and our behaviour is clearly covered in the above verse: 'Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God'. We atheists condemn, ridicule and make fun of priests concerning their behaviour, which means a death sentence because of the above commandment from God: 'The man who shows contempt for ... the priest ... must be put to death'. We atheists violate God's covenant by working on the Sabbath, blaspheming, masturbating and eating shellfish, so again we're screwed according to this verse: 'If a man or woman living among you ... is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant ... stone that person to death'. And quite obviously we atheists aren't actively looking for God, or Santa Claus for that matter, and so again we're marked by God for execution by his followers: 'All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death'.

So rather than doing good in our communities, clearly God believes that atheists are nothing but evil bastards out to corrupt his followers, and must be exterminated. So in complete contrast to what the pope now claims, there is no suggestion whatsoever that God sees non-believers as generally good people doing good deeds and that most of us will be bound for Heaven to mingle with devout Christians who gave up their Sundays and casual sex to get there.

Of course many of these devout Christians will now argue that the above verses dishing out hate and death were from the Old Testament, and that Christians follow Jesus, a new lovey-dovey character introduced in the sequel, the New Testament. But we need to ask, who does Jesus follow, who does he get his orders from? And without doubt Jesus believed he got his marching orders from God. Christians may refer to the New Testament, but let's remember that there was no New Testament when Jesus was preaching, Jesus was a devout Jew quoting from what we now call the Old Testament. And Jesus quite clearly states:

'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.' (MT 5:17-20)
Thus Jesus is confirming that God's commandments, of which there are some 613 in the Old Testament, not just the 10 that most people have heard of, are still valid. None lose their authority until the earth disappears, which we don't believe has yet happened. So according to Jesus we atheists are still evil, and he didn't come to explain why God got it all wrong. Faced with this embarrassing verse, some Christians will dredge up Bible quotes from St Paul (originally called Saul, a Jew who had never met Jesus and actually spent his early years persecuting Christians). But on arguing that Paul overrides what Jesus said, modern Christians need to be asked, who do you follow, and who do you believe, Jesus Christ or Paul? Why is it called Christianity if you're following what Paul taught rather than what Jesus taught? And of course Christians claim that Jesus is all love and light, unlike his father who was a right vicious bastard, but to do that they have to ignore the verses that show Jesus was still following daddy's plan of world domination. For example, here's Jesus responding to a question from one of his disciples:
'But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.' LK 19:27
His response was in the form of a parable, which Jesus was fond of, which are simple short stories with a moral or religious lesson, but this is Jesus clearly saying that killing those who refuse to accept him as their king when he returns will not be murder, it will be divine justice. Regardless of whether it is Jesus making the statement or a protagonist in one of his parables, listeners are given a guide as to how they should behave. And clearly we atheists are in no mind to let Christians and their invisible king rule over us, and so we will remain enemies, not good people that will eventually occupy a luxury apartment in Heaven next door to fawning Christians.

Still not convinced that Jesus had rejected his father's war-mongering ways, and was more like a 60s hippy with the slogan: 'Make love, not war'? Then explain this 'loving' rant from Jesus:

'Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man's enemies will be the members of his own household'. 'Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;' MT 10:34-37
Ah yes, the sword, the favoured tool of the peacemaker. And his obscene claim that, 'Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me', is exactly what we expect to hear from arrogant, authoritarian, power-hungry cult leaders.

Let's also recall that Jesus said, 'He who is not with me is against me', MT 12:30. You either believed in him and obeyed him completely or you were the enemy. There was no middle ground, no neutral parties, no atheist Switzerland. So clearly both God of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament were both convinced that believers in other gods and believers in none at all were evil and needed to be confronted and destroyed. And yet Pope Francis claims that God built goodness into the DNA of even atheists, and that 'Jesus broadens the horizon ... The root of this possibility of doing good — that we all have — is in creation'. That article began by saying that, 'Pope Francis has good news for atheists. Jesus died and was raised for them as well. His redemptive embrace was for all, not just a chosen few ... The Church wants all men and women to be saved'.

Certainly the Catholic Church wants all men and women under their oppressive control, and they'll accept not just people doing good but people that have committed unspeakable evil, everyone from child molesters and rapists to vicious dictators and serial killers. But what the Catholic Church wants isn't necessarily what God wants, and again Pope Franny is being a Catholic hypocrite, since Jesus never widened the net to include all mankind, and on this the Bible is quite clear. The Jews were God's chosen people, not the Babylonians or the Philistines, and certainly not the unbelievers. What many people today don't realise is that Jesus was a xenophobe and a racist, he had no intention of permitting non-Jews into his group. Jesus told his disciples: 'Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel'. MT 10:5-6. When a non-Jew approached him he initially ignored her, explaining that only the Jews are God's children and everyone else are just dogs in comparison. When the Jews quoted their commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill', they simply meant that Jews shall not kill a fellow Jew (although they often ignored even that commandment), and killing heathens and committing genocide to get foreign land that they wanted was something their God actually encouraged, and he often helped them with the slaughter of men, women and children. The Jews only gained Israel by killing its original inhabitants, the Canaanites. Whether people claimed to do good or not didn't matter, if you weren't doing good for them then you were destined for Hell. And here's a verse from the Jesus sequel that decreed what God and Jesus had planned for atheists. Note that we're number two on their list of people that need to be taught a lesson in submission:

'But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.' REV 21:8
And of those on God's list for eternal torture, perhaps only murderers truly deserve some punishment, but not even they deserve eternal punishment. Sexually immoral in God's mind is someone masturbating, liars are people that tell their wife she looks great in that dress, and idolaters are people that worship carved idols rather than God, you know, like how Catholics worship crucifixes with Jesus on them, or pray to statues of the Virgin Mary.

But what does the pope even mean when he says that someone does good? Hitler no doubt thought he was a good person, and that his Gestapo were doing good work. We atheists think we're doing good when we explain to Catholics that they're deluded, that they've been lied to and manipulated, and that they should ditch their childish belief in invisible space beings and start living in the real world. Catholics think it's good to tell the story of their God raping a virginal young girl, then abandoning her and her child, but returning decades later to have his child tortured and murdered. Of course, since God is imaginary, it means that the shameful and cowardly rape of the young girl never happened, but isn't it disturbing that Christians proudly and repeatedly tell their young children that it did? And they don't tell the sorry as a warning, as an example of how not to behave, just the opposite, they insist that their children must revere and worship a god that would rape a young girl and murder his own son. That is doing 'good' in the warped mind of Catholics. And that's just one of many horror stories they tell their kids, they absolutely revel in the immorality of their God, while lying to their children and saying that's how powerful people should behave. Catholics think they're being good when they terrorise small children with tales of demons that will torture them forever if they break pathetic rules, pathetic rules that are impossible not to break. Meaning they are doomed to failure, and each failure simply increases their terror and fear of the future, making their lives utterly miserable. That's the Catholic idea of doing good, reducing lives to Hell on Earth.

My mother once told me the story of finding a young school friend crying. When asked what the problem was, she replied that she was to again attend Catholic confession on Sunday and was expected to confess the sins she had committed during the week. If that wasn't bad enough, revealing private things to a strange old man behind a screen, my mum's friend didn't feel she had any sins to confess, she felt she had been a good girl. When my mum naively said that she should tell the priest that, her friend tearfully replied that the priests believe everyone is sinning all the time, it's in our nature, so they accuse you of lying if you say you haven't sinned, furthermore they suspect you of really serious sins, and you simply receive even more punishment. So make up some minor sin, my mum offered, but her friend, believing in God, said that God would detect her lie, and even though she hadn't sinned through the week, she would then be sinning by lying to the priest, and to God. When that lie was revealed to the priest by God, her punishment would be even worse. There was no way she could escape confession without being punished, even though she had been good. And this little girl went through this trauma most every week. I don't know, but perhaps she changed from being a good girl to a mean little bitch, just so she could have sins to confess to an old priest eager to hear what naughty things little girls get up to. And that was the Catholic priest's idea of doing good, terrifying little girls (and boys), so clearly Catholics and atheists have very different ideas on what it means to do good.

While the media reports what Pope Francis says, we need to remember that he isn't the Catholic Church or the Vatican, most of whom vehemently disagree with his surprising new views on atheism and homosexuality etc. This article stated that, 'The Vatican has quickly clarified that atheists — they believe — are still going to hell, despite Pope Francis appearing to say non-believers could be saved through Christ if they do good'. Soon Franny will be gone like all the popes before him and the Catholic Church will quickly revert back too what Jesus said, 'He who is not with me is against me', with the view that if atheists want to be saved, then they'll need to start believing in invisible beings watching them having sex. Oh, and just stop having sex for Christ's sake. It's not an approved hobby and you're not supposed to enjoy it. So that's the options, we atheists either join them on our knees in the pews, begging for forgiveness, or we sleep in on Sundays and stay on Satan's torture list.

And that's actually the choice that Pope Franny is offering atheists, since in reality there is no conflict between him and the Vatican, they both believe that atheists are going to Hell. That's because the pope's comments are misleading (deliberately we believe), and it's not as clear cut for atheists as the headlines might suggest. In the pope's mind the reality is that atheists will never go to Heaven no matter how much good we do ... UNLESS ... we come to sincerely believe in God and Jesus, unless we renounce atheism and become Catholics! This is the 'meeting point' that the pope mentioned, where atheists reach a crossroad and rather than continue down the atheism path (towards Hell), we recognise the error of our ways and turn down the Catholicism path towards Heaven. Atheists will never enter heaven, only ex-atheists that become Catholics will be admitted. The article explains that, 'it is in doing good that they [atheists] are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good'. There is this arrogant and ignorant Christian belief that atheists will come to sense that if they're doing good, then God must exist, since good can only exist if God created it. Of course you could apply the same flawed logic to evil as well, and make evil your life's work, just to please God. Catholics try and ignore that argument. The article goes on to explain that, 'In essence he [the pope] simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ'. The pope explained that, 'all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists'. And there's the catch, no matter how much good atheists do, we would never be admitted to Heaven (assuming it existed) if we don't first agree to submit totally to the will of Jesus and his daddy, giving up our atheism in the process. And in this the Bible is again quite clear, with Jesus saying:

'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.' JN 14:6-7
So the thought that the Catholic Church is recognising atheists as good people and are willing to accept us into Heaven is utter bullshit, they're still only welcoming obsequious Catholics; and true atheists doing good deeds, and that refuse to have blind faith in something they can't find evidence for, are still frogmarched down to Hell.

Unconditional love

Personally we think Pope Francis is a little brighter and has more integrity than your typical Catholic, and is genuinely horrified with the abuse committed by his priests and covered up by his bishops, and truly does see atheists as good people. He apparently can't accept that his loving God would reward his evil child molester priests and punish good atheists, so he's creatively reinterpreting Bible verses and jumping through imaginary hoops in an attempt to show that the Catholic Church isn't the monster it appears to be. Pope Francis suggests that the Church now sees what the rest of the sane world sees, that non-believers are actually the good guys, and that by seeming to welcome us onboard the Catholic bus, the badly tarnished image of the Catholic Church can't help but be seen as a little less evil.

But we atheists aren't fooled by the pope's conciliatory claims and have no intention of helping him make Catholics feel a little more comfortable in still belonging to such a harmful, superstitious organisation. Any hint of collaboration with the Church, even if it were stripped of all it's bigotry and hatred, would still be akin to suggesting that, at its core, it possessed something real and valuable to offer the world. Which of course it doesn't, since its fundamental error would still be a childish, ignorant, primitive, superstitious and utterly groundless blind faith in an invisible sky fairy and his equally imaginary son.

The only announcement we want to hear the pope make is that the Church is closing down and donating all its considerable assets that it's hoarded over the centuries to charity, to a least try and alleviate some of the damage it's done over the last two millennia.

Catholic Church

Posted by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 Mar, 2017 ~ Add a Comment     Send to a Friend
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Last Updated Jul 2017