Comment by Anonymous-5, 06 Mar, 2012
Hi John, I've been reading a lot of articles on your site lately ( which i've really enjoyed) and just wanted to say to you.
Thank you !!!!
It's so good to learn about all the scams (bullshit) out there (especially the sensing murder stuff. What a joke!).
I think you should teach a course or something in critical thinking.
I would take it.
Everyone should think like this, then as a society we would not have these hang-ups, restrictions (i.e religion) or being preyed upon by scam artists.
Keep up the good work.
(support science not superstition)
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Mar, 2012
Thanks very much for your comments. While we're not sure we would be all that good at actual teaching, we agree 100% that there should be courses on critical thinking available, in schools and universities etc. Unfortunately interest in critical thinking and learning to be skeptical of weird claims is not at all popular in society, whereas people flock to blind belief in nonsense. Bookshops have all manner of books pushing religion, mediums, alien abductions and astrological weather prediction, but usually nothing that debunks this stuff. A while back a local organisation running adult night classes asked for suggestions on other courses it could offer the community. We suggested a critical thinking class or one examining fringe beliefs, such as ghosts, astrology and UFOs. They ignored us, but went on to offer courses on the likes of Reiki, Buddhism, crystal healing and scrap booking. It seems the majority prefer courses that don't involve thinking, just believing.
Comment by Mike, 08 Mar, 2012
G'day again John. This is interesting: Inventor Rejects Dick Smith Million Dollar Offer
If his invention/discovery is so sound why would he not take $1m just to demonstrate in a controlled scientific environment the veracity of it?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 Mar, 2012
Thanks Mike, and yes, you have to wonder why someone trying to promote his cold fusion invention and raise funds wouldn't immediately accept Smith's 'no string's attached' offer. We're told that 'Smith told Rossi that "I do not want to know how the unit operates, nor to have a share in the profits from any sales. My satisfaction will come from knowing that if the unit is successful, some of the world's greatest problems — especially in relation to climate change — will be solved".'
If I were thinking of investing in his project, this refusal would immediately make me smell a rat and change my mind. It's always the scammers that don't want you to look too closely at their demonstrations and claims, knowing that eventually you'll detect the strings, mirrors and deceptions that give the false appearance that what they're promoting actually works. We accept that magicians don't want us to look too closely, but they admit that it's all a trick for entertainment, unlike mediums, psychic healers, Nigerian bank scammers and Ken Ring. They refuse to admit it's all a trick, and for them close attention and critical thinking is a death sentence to their money making venture.
Never trust anyone wanting your investment, who at the same time asks you not to discuss it with a lawyer, doctor, scientist or even with your family, and who refuses to be tested in a controlled scientific environment by experts. If they don't have the confidence that it would past real tests and the scrutiny of experts, then neither should you.
Comment by Renee, 14 Mar, 2012
Dear John. I live in South Africa (Zululand) and am an avid reader of your website and eagerly await each new blog. I read this article today and thought you might be interested.
Red Bull's 'Jesus' ad slammed
Once again the christians being precious and offended. Keep up the good work.
The Red Bull energy drink's "Jesus walks on water" campaign should be cancelled, the SA Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) said on Tuesday.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 15 Mar, 2012
Thanks very much for the link Renee. We have the Red Bull ads in NZ, but not that one unfortunately, or not yet anyway. You're right of course, this is just another example of Christians, and the devoutly religious in general, demonstrating that they don't have a sense of humour. And that they're living in the distant, primitive past. Surely in this century few educated people believe Jesus actually walked on water? Red Bull is hardly challenging a widely believed and cherished fact.
HIV/AIDS is a major problem in Africa, and made far worse by the Catholic prohibition on condom use, and yet what is the Catholic Church busy doing in SA? Indirectly promoting Red Bull by highlighting it in the media!! Didn't they learn when to keep quiet, after their tearful protests unintentionally gave huge worldwide publicity to the blasphemous 'Da Vinci Code' movie?
Just as with that movie, the Church is terrified that their followers might be exposed to modern thought and might start thinking for themselves. Followers might admit to themselves that claiming that a man can walk on water really is a bit silly, as is turning water into wine or raising the dead for that matter.
The SA Catholic Bishops' Conference suggest that the Red Bull people 'attend sensitivity training', but as the bumper sticker says, 'People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs'.
Comment by Ninnie, 29 Mar, 2012
You poor little thing!
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Mar, 2012
Do we detect sarcasm in your comment Ninnie? You apparently disagree with some view of ours, but you don't give any hint as to what view that might be. It never fails to amaze us that some people are more than willing to tell us that we are wrong, but seemingly don't have the inclination and/or the knowledge to explain why. Why don't you inform us, firstly what we are mistaken about, and then explain how misinformed we are? Otherwise we will continue as normal, completely oblivious to what might have prompted you to write and pity us.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 08 May, 2012
Graeme Hill of Radio Live fame has just informed us that 'Lawrence Krauss is my guest live in studio for an hour (minus ads & news) 10:30am to 11:30am, Sunday May 13. It will be available for a relisten almost immediately after broadcast too'. Click the above link, and the radio frequencies for your area are at bottom of page.
For those unfamiliar with Lawrence Krauss, he's an American theoretical physicist, with a special interest in cosmology, as well as being a skeptic. He's the author of several books, such as 'The Physics of Star Trek', 'Beyond Star Trek', 'Quintessence', 'Fear of Physics', and his most recent book is 'A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing'.
Lawrence Krauss, like Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan, is one of those rare scientists that is able to explain complex science to the layperson, and make it extremely interesting. Graeme's interview with Lawrence should be well worth listening to.
UPDATE: Click here for the direct link to Lawrence Krauss & Graeme
Comment by Bob, 27 Jun, 2012
Hi John, just a few minutes ago I opened the computer on the news and was promptly shocked. The first article came from Germany.
German court bans religious circumcision
A German court ruled baby boys could not be circumcised unless they were old enough to decide for themselves. The head of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany protested that it was an infringement of their religious and cultural rights. I thought modern Jews were civilised. What if they thought they should cut off a baby's finger for religious reasons? Would that be justified? Besides at what age can a young person decide for themselves? I have heard of a Jehovahs Witness child of 13 saying she would die rather than accept a blood transfusion. Was that a clear personal decision or a whole childhood of indoctrination? If it is ok for Jews to mutilate their young is it not ok for Muslims to practice genital mutilation on their daughters?
I cannot believe a modern people can demand the right to mutilate their children. Jehovahs Witnesses I can understand because they are all idiots. But Jewish populations are supposed to be a cut above the average.
It amazes me the irrational and irresponsible things people will do in the name of religion.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Jun, 2012
You're right Bob, it is amazing 'the irrational and irresponsible things people will do in the name of religion'.
And think of what this means for an all-knowing and all-perfect God. That his male followers must cut off a piece of their penis means that they weren't designed properly in the first place, thus he's not an all-perfect God, or a so-called 'all-knowing' God can't identify his followers until they expose themselves. Remember also that in the Exodus from Egypt God couldn't tell the Hebrews from the Egyptians, and told them to splatter their doors with blood so he wouldn't kill the wrong ones. What a pathetically weak god.
Genital mutilation of children, both male and female, needs to outlawed everywhere. It's a disgusting, ignorant practice.
Comment by Ross, 16 Jul, 2012
Hi John, another couple of links for your perusal...
Judge steps in to save sick girl's life
It seems that science gets to trump religious idiocy before some innocent child dies this time. I just can't get my head around how these people can let their child suffer and die when there is an excellent chance of a full recovery and a long happy life for them. Even if it is one of helping push the 'god is great' wagon. (Although probably not if the wee girl gets shunned by church and family as being 'unclean'!)
"...the medical team has worked closely with M's parents to date and she has no doubt that they have acted throughout in M's best interest..."
I would strongly disagree with this statement! How could refusing medical help possibly be seen as being in the childs' best interest!???
"Jehovah's Witnesses allow transplants but the faith is strict in rejecting the inevitable blood transfusions that would accompany such an operation. They believe blood that leaves the body must be disposed of and not consumed or transfused."
WTF???? We'll let you replace an entire organ, but no transfusion to make it all work? Obviously a rule made up way before a transplant was ever considered a possibility. They knew a bit about blood, (probably because religions had spilled so much of it over the years!) but next to nothing about how a body actually worked and so the rules never had to cover those medical operations that are now very mainstream and reliable.
"No thanks Doc, you can keep your transfusions, we're busy begging our god to step in and produce a full cure, but by all means keep pumping her full of drugs to dull her pain until she dies"
Feckin nutters shouldn't be allowed to reproduce!
Another instance of where sticking to strict religious dogma holds us all back as a race. Where could we be by now if these blinkers were taken off? Stem cell research is the obvious biggie at the moment that could (and will) make a huge difference to our health and well-being.
I do hope the wee lass in the article gets the treatment she 'really' needs and goes on to become a worthwhile member of our society. Infants and the other innocents can really do without the 'help' the churches so often offer can't they?
Which brings me to this little number....
'Magic water' sales by churches raise health fears
It does make you despair doesn't it. Really people... it's 2012 FFS!!!!
I wonder what these ministers are really thinking while they espouse the wondrous qualities of 'tap water' and pocket $60 a bottle from a flock that can scarcely afford it.
But not content to rip them off the 60 squids, he's telling them to stop the medications that are actually helping!
The social workers and government officials are rightly 'worried' by these events but in true bureaucratic style, choose to do nothing but 'comment'
Another example of leniency for the religious whacko's when criminal charges would be much more beneficial to the community at large. Get these people out of our midst and expose them for the lying, cheating, dangerous scammers that they are!
Why isn't he being prosecuted for...
b:- false advertising, and
c:- fraudulently masquerading as a medical professional!
Any comments you care to add??? I'm sure there's plenty of scope lol
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 18 Jul, 2012
Thanks for the links Ross and your comments. I'm not sure I can add anything but complete agreement, you seem to have covered the stupidity of it all. You make a very good point re the JWs, who happily allow organ transplants but reject the very stuff that make the organs function. We've said it before, these are people who walk around with 21st century technology such as smartphones while their worldview is mired in primitive, superstitious times. I truly don't understand how they can reconcile this major problem, how they can sincerely believe in their religious nonsense when confronted with modern knowledge. They must be in continual denial with their senses and the rational part of their mind. The ongoing struggle to remain ignorant and stupid while living in an advanced and secular society must be monumental. And to maintain this silly belief even at the expense of losing a child when medical treatment is available is the pinnacle of selfishness and cruelty. To force your child to die an unnecessary death just so you can continue your love affair with a fairytale should be reason enough to have your children removed from your care. Imagine if parents refused lifesaving medical treatments based on their love of the 'Lord of the Rings' books or the 'Star Wars' movies? It's time we treated, not just Jehovah's Witnesses, but all those that structure their lives around holy books and harm their children by reading to them from these books. We need to stop being polite and be honest instead, and ask them: 'You know it's not real don't you?'
And as you say, it's the same with the churches selling that silly magic water to ignorant parishioners. Social workers and government officials won't condemn and arrest these scammers solely because they are basing their claims on a holy book, a book that many social workers and officials no doubt also believe in. This nonsense that we must respect religion is merely a specious argument that we must allow ignorant, uneducated citizens be disadvantaged, lied to and even harmed if the people doing the scamming are servants of some imaginary god. Again, we need to tell these people to grow up, and to at least read their silly Bible. Where is it written that Jesus went around hawking cure-all health juices? Like most Christians, their knowledge of their religion is abysmal. And like sexual offenders, we need to lock up those ministers that continue to prey on their innocent, deluded parishioners, requesting money for nothing but a scam, whether they offer bottles of magic water or just empty prayers.
Comment by Anonymous-6, 24 Jul, 2012
I just recently came across your site while searching around for myths, scams, frauds and other articles debunking bullshit in today's world. I get easily annoyed by such things especially when confronted with it — coworkers trying to sell me on multi level marketing, family members trying to convert me to their church, guys at the gym trying to sell me "the best supplements/vitamins ever!," etc. Going on the net and looking up factual information, which unsurprisingly always seems to easily disproves shit like this is not only comforting but enjoyable to me. Your site is one such a comfort. Your articles are well written, at times humorous, and just a plain joy to read. Thank you.
Comment by Phill, 08 Aug, 2012
Hi guys. Just a note about this JW child and the transfusion, we discussed this at work a few weeks back. One of my colleagues who is not a JW but a believer (eg Christian of a fundamentalist group), could understand the issue the parents of the child were faced with. As he said, you could use this piece of modern medical science to save the child's life but in doing so condemn the child to everlasting hell fire. Now this got me thinking, where did this bit of hokum come from? So I checked out Wikipedia (where else?). For years I had assumed that this anti-transfusion thing of JW's dated from their 19th Century origins. In part this is true, it derives from a biblical injunction not to eat blood (guess you do not offer a JW a blackpudding) but for many years this injunction did not include blood transfusions. The article suggests that up until the time the group chose the name JW back in 1931 blood transfusions were not liked but not disallowed. The article goes on to reference several old Watch Towers of the time which praised individuals who donated blood without requesting payment (this would have been in America, one assumes.)
It goes on to state that the injunction against blood transfusions occurs in 1945, nearly a century after the formation of the group that eventually developed into the JW's and at least a decade and a half after the inception of JW into its current form. It's curious that at the time that blood transfusions finally became safe (it was about this time that the Rhesus factor in blood was identified) they ban it. I wondered at the time if there was a connection with this? The article did not specify. Yet again we see believers willing to sacrifice their loved ones because of what the local leadership says. The concerning thing about JW's is that they will make martyrs of those who sacrifice their lives for this injunction. I remember seeing a JW magazine the cover of which carried photographs of children from ages 8 to about 16. As I opened it I assumed there would be some piece in it about the joys of being a child in the JW movement or some such nonsense, but no, these were the kids who had chosen to die (or more exactly being encouraged to die) by refusing blood transfusions. Having grown up when the Jonestown massacre was part of my historical experience I always get a wee bit nervous of any group which starts to worship death in such a delightful manner. Of course the news is not all bad. If the child survives then as I understand the movements ideas (and not being a believer myself I could be wrong) it will be shunned and could never again be a JW! You know maybe there is a god after all! (Just kidding!!)
Keep up the good work.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 09 Aug, 2012
Thanks for that Phill. You're right, it does seem ironic that when blood transfusions actually became safe, routine and lifesaving, the JWs finally decided to ban them outright. There really is no accounting for the feeble-mindedness of religious thinking, but in this case made all the more callous since they are willing to sacrifice the lives of their loved ones. Knowing full well that transfusions save lives, they nevertheless reject them after fixating on a vague commandment from a fantasy being, while happily ignoring clear commandments that ban eating shellfish or wearing clothing made from cotton and nylon. Here's a bumper sticker that is appropriate in this case: 'Nothing in the entire world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity'.
Comment by Bob, 09 Sep, 2012
Anglicans talk of super-cathedral
I read the above article with a smile. I can't see the Catholic Church ever cooperating with another faith which does not believe as they do. To do so would give it a recognition it would be very loth to. They might cooperate in a charitable pursuit which doesn't involve belief but that would be all. Talk about two bishops is only a red herring. The truth is the Catholic Church wants a big distance between them and the Protestants. They don't want to be tainted. In some remote area the two churches might use the same hall but only out of necessity and the fact the hall itself is neutral. The necessary altar and furniture is brought in as required. The amount of money involved won't be a consideration.
"Anglicans in Christchurch are talking about rebuilding a shared super-cathedral with Catholics, a move that would be unprecedented worldwide."
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 10 Sep, 2012
I agree Bob. It would be like a reverse of the Reformation. The Catholics are not going to forget about centuries of animosity and bloodshed, not to mention serious doctrinal differences, and cosily get into bed with the Anglicans. It would probably result in another religious war just deciding what the cathedral was going to be called. The Vatican is too arrogant to use a cathedral that wasn't plainly Catholic. Catholics and Protestants (not to mention Muslims and Jews) are often willing to present a public image of friendship and cooperation, but this is merely superficial, a fragile truce maintained while they confront the real enemy of all religions, secularism.
I think the fact that some Christians are willing to consider ideas like this shows that the dogma that in the past defined Christianity, is fast being eroded away. The growing list of Biblical 'truths' that your average Christian is now willing to ignore suggests that eventually Christianity will be so watered down and wishy-washy that even Christians will question as to why they bother with it at all.
Regarding the damaged Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, one committed Anglican asked: 'How is it in the best interests of the poorest people of our community to rebuild them both? We have a God-given opportunity to do something different here'. Two thoughts occur to me. Why not give the poor people a real break and rebuild neither? And calling this a 'God-given opportunity' implies that God deliberately caused the devastating and fatal Christchurch earthquakes simply to get Anglicans and Catholics to consider a shared cathedral. What a complete bastard their God is.
Comment by Phill, 26 Sep, 2012
Hi guys just in regards to the shared cathedral idea, now I am neither a Catholic nor an Anglican (though my forbears were both) but I once studied history. To be honest I could see a shared cathedral, Anglican's are not that far removed from Catholics — As I understand it, High Anglicans can and sometimes do celebrate mass in latin, they can hold confession and basically do whatever the Catholics can do or even use to do (does that include the alter boys?) You should keep in mind that when Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church he did so purely because he needed to divorce his wife and marry another woman to produce an heir, and during his reign and that of his daughter Elizabeth the aim was to produce a religion both his Catholic and Protestant subjects could accept. Of course this never occurred. However to see the Anglican's as similar to Lutheran's Calvinists, and the other protestant sects is a bit of a mistake, I reckon they are the one protestant group who could swing it and New Zealand with our strong secular tradition the one country it could work in. So you never know perhaps that super cathedral will be built after all!
Comment by Renee, 20 Oct, 2012
Dear John. I thought you might be interested in an item that was on our news today.
Sangoma sick note ruled valid
Like New Zealand, South Africa also has people/government pandering to supernatural beliefs and not making the distinction between beliefs and what is required in the workplace. A "sangoma" is the Zulu word for a witch-doctor. Everything in this article is unbelievable. Mostly that the law is upholding not only the belief but the illegal leave taken.
To whet your appetitie the first paragraph is as follows: "A woman who was 'badly tormented by her ancestors' has to be re-instated in her post, even if she took a month's leave without her employer's permission, the Labour Appeal Court has ruled"
But there is even more incredulous stuff in the article.
Is this the thin (or rather, large) edge-of-the-wedge for the decline of law in this country. I trust this matter will be taken further by the employers and that justice will prevail.
Do hope you find it interesting.
Thank you again for your site. I LOVE your article/ blogs etc. and always look forward to your new postings.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Oct, 2012
Thanks for the link Renee. Isn't it frustrating that in this modern age authorities are still pandering to such nonsense? That a court would accept a 'sick note' from a sangoma or witchdoctor asserting that the woman was being 'badly tormented by her ancestors' is almost unbelievable. I say almost since in NZ we've had court trials where defence lawyers have argued that their clients had been talking with god or were being manipulated by Satan when crimes were committed. At no time did the prosecution try to argue that god and demons didn't exist or insist that the defence produce evidence that they did. And yet on any other unsupported claim the lawyers would immediately challenge its veracity. But religion is always given a free ride, people can say any silly thing and it's respectively accepted. Recently we've had trials involving some of our local natives, the Maori, and their belief in witchcraft. And since this is part of their religion and ancient culture, the courts respectively accept it, rather than exposing it as primitive nonsense.
Let's hope that you're right, that in your sangoma case reason and justice eventually prevails. The article says that the court ruled that 'South Africa was a land of many cultures and that traditional Western culture could not be allowed to dominate the African culture of many of the country's inhabitants'. And yet a closer reading of the case shows that the woman's unauthorised absence from work had nothing to do with ill health, that she was 'badly tormented by her ancestors'. She simply wanted to attend a training course. It had nothing to do with different cultures, she was simply using a fake note to get time off work.
In NZ many decades ago we used to have priests and ministers from the Christian churches chairing local committees, blessing the opening of buildings and splashing their holy water at accident scenes, but now it is rare. Which is very good. Unfortunately their spooky presence has been replaced in recent years by Maori. Now a kaumatua (who is a respected Maori tribal elder, although a more appropriate description in this context might be 'priest' or 'witchdoctor'), blesses the opening of the local police station, places a tapu or ban on visiting accident sites, and generally performs all the public supernatural nonsense that Christian priests used to perform. If they were to confine their superstitious chants to occasions that related to things Maori, eg the opening of a Maori meeting house or the funeral of a Maori, then we'd have no problem, they have the right to freedom of belief. As Christians did in the past, Maori now believe they have the right to officiate at any and all public events. Just as Christians believed in the past, that even non-Christians could only benefit from being prayed over, Maori now childishly believe that even the non-Maori majority will gain divine protection from their superstitious chants and dances. Why have we happily allowed one deluded group to replace another in our public ceremonies?
While everyone has the right to their beliefs, Christian or Maori or Zulu, no one has the right to insist that we take their beliefs seriously. If you want to believe that you have an invisible pink elephant in your back yard, then fine, but don't expect your boss or neighbours to contribute to feeding it. However today far too many people elect to tiptoe around the silly beliefs of others, with comments such as: 'I respect your beliefs'. With regard to children and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, if they don't make the move themselves, we eventually tell them it's time they knew the truth, it's time they grew up and faced reality. We don't want ignorant children continuing to believe in nonsense, so why do we happily let adults believe in equally ridiculous nonsense such as the spirits of vindictive ancestors? Again, if someone, in the privacy of their home or mind, wants to believe in nonsense then there is nothing we can do about that, but we shouldn't accommodate their belief in the workplace or the legal system or the community in general.
Our view is that if you really want to help someone grow and mature intellectually, then tell them the truth. Don't wimp out with the weak stance: 'I respect your beliefs', insist that they at least support their beliefs first. I simply don't understand people that have such strongly held beliefs in gods or spirits but blatantly refuse to discuss why they hold their belief. I'm perfectly happy to explain why I disbelieve, but most believers are very reluctant, reticent, secretive even, as to revealing why they believe. Which is their right of course, but then many insist that we must respect their beliefs in the workplace, the very beliefs they won't talk about (and can't support). Be it gods, vindictive ancestors or invisible pink elephants, we are simply expected to accept their nonsense and respectively work around it. This has to change, if believers can't demonstrate that their claims and spooky fears are justified, then they shouldn't be allowed to intrude into the public sphere.
Comment by David, 21 Oct, 2012
Its trivial I know compared with belief in the supernatural, faith healing or Ken Ring. But it's a silly belief non-the-less: — that pressing the close doors button on an automatic lift will make any difference. Every day I watch people fall over each other in an attempt to press that button before the doors start closing by themselves.
From observation it is an international phenomenon, although maybe the Chinese are the worst. They must press that button. And if the doors don't instantly close, they just keep pressing it until it does.
It struck me that there are analogies (albeit imperfect) to belief in prayer. People pray for things that are probably going to happen anyway and then are gratified to find their prayers being answered. If the prayer is not answered immediately, that doesn't diminish their faith — in fact they keep on praying (pressing the button) until the doors eventually close — perversely reinforcing their belief. And when the prayer is not answered, it is not the prayer (button) that is at fault. Maybe the door is jammed — or the lift is overloaded.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Oct, 2012
Ah yes, the ol' close door button in lifts. Of course the lift manufacturers create this behaviour in the first place by having a 'close door' button alongside the floor buttons and 'open door' button. They other buttons work as labelled and so people naturally assume that the 'close door' button also does what it claims, and that it is actually needed. Over the years I've struck lifts where no button is needed as the doors start closing as you walk in, and you have to press 'open door' or wrestle with the doors to let a second person in. Likewise I've been in lifts where the doors took so long to close automatically it was quicker to take the stairs. I often think that the 'close door' button in many lifts is a fake and not even connected to the system.
Of course some annoying button pushers are probably just people who have no patience, living life at high speed, for who even fast food is not fast enough. But for many, you're probably right about button pushing and belief in prayer. You've no doubt heard of the research they've done with pigeons etc where animals push certain buttons at random and sometimes receive a reward. Even though the rewards are just random, the animal eventually devises a false chain of cause and effect, eg standing on one foot while pushing the button three times will get a reward more often than not. Everyone, including humans, can develop superstitious behaviour which includes lucky charms and certain rituals to bring about some desired result. Obsessive button pushers in lifts probably think they've developed a button ritual that works, even if the button is a fake and the doors are closing on their own terms.
Comment by Bob, 30 Oct, 2012
Man sues church after crucifix falls on him
What does that tell you: —
God has a nasty streak?
David Jiminez is out of favour with God but his wife isn't?
There is no God?
It was a nasty accident and I would sympathise with the man losing a leg on top of his wife's cancer. Yet true to form for a blind believer God gets no blame for the events. He cures his wife but makes no attempt to stop Jesus' statue from doing him serious harm. Jiminez was right in accusing church personnel of carelessness and demanding compensation.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 31 Oct, 2012
They're bloody hypocrites aren't they? God is the cause of good things but bad things just happen. Christians insist that nothing happens without God's knowledge, that every event is part of his mysterious divine plan. Then they conveniently forget about this and call their lawyer. By suing the church and the priest this devout Catholic is effectively suing God. Greed coupled with stupidity!
And to answer what this event tells us: There is no God!
Comment by Anonymous-7, 09 Dec, 2012
With all this completely overpowering Christmas (Silly Season) nonsense again, I thought I would use the power of cyber space to check on a hint that I had heard previously "That Christmas is based on a Pagan tradition" and this is what I found. It is plainly obvious that millions of the brainwashed 'Sheeple' have no idea about it all, with their leaders urging millions of all the denominations to (flock/herd) to the special services put on for the duration. Hopefully, hopefully more and more 'wise' men and women are seeing through this monstrous charade, courtesy of the media you receive this from me.
Christmas is Spiritual Adultery
Look also at the additional link at the bottom of that page, and click on '120 reasons against Christmas' too, for more enlightenment.
Comment by Doug, 18 Jan, 2013
I went into a public library in Nelson and because I had nothing better to do after checking my emails I got onto your site to see if any new stuff had come up. I was refused access — on their system Sillybeliefs is apparently classified as containing offensive material. So they have presumably reacted to a complaint and now censor your comments. A travesty...
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 18 Jan, 2013
Yes, I've found the same thing at my local library. Are we banned because of a complaint, simply because we are critical of religion, or Ken Ring and psychic mediums etc.? Or is it solely because some poorly designed software, perhaps written by the Novapay company, is making all the decisions? The library suggested I email the company who operate the filtering software: The Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa. I've tried twice to contact them regarding their reasoning for this ban, but I've received no reply.
I suspect (I hope) they use filtering software to censor specific sites that simply looks for certain words, and having no idea about context, blindly bans sites that are quite innocent while letting through many that, according to their own criteria, should be banned. I experimented with just what types of sites I could visit, and found that it wouldn't let me access 'Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia' or Robert Spencer's book 'Onward Muslim Soldiers', but was happy to give me access to, and download if I wished, Madonna's photographic book: 'Sex'. Plus l could easily access plenty of hard-core pornography, but not Silly Beliefs. Are we really that immoral and injurious to the mental health of your typical library goer?
We'd like to think that we could get Silly Beliefs off the banned list, but not if they won't communicate with us. Perhaps the program that filters the various sites is the one that checks their email too, and seeing the Silly Beliefs address, it automatically deletes our email? I'll have another try.
UPDATE: I don't believe it. After sending another query to The Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa, within an hour I received the following reply:
'I've unblocked the website www.sillybeliefs.com and sent a request through to the third party content filtering service we subscribe to, asking for a reclassification of this website. Sometimes key words in the content of a website triggers incorrect classification... '
So good news, it was all a simple misunderstanding. We're not an objectionable website after all. I have no idea where my earlier queries went to.
Comment by Anonymous-8, 12 Feb, 2013
This from today's Herald: Bob Jones: Bearded blokes spouting load of hogwash.
I agree emphatically with every single word in this 'No holds Barred' opinion. Bravo Sir Robert! Bravo! Have experienced something similar here not so long ago and am still fuming. We are in the third millennium now and this sort of ignorance still exists. Human intelligence? Yeah! Right!!! A huge proportion of humanity is still floundering and blinkered in the beginning of the 'Dark Ages'.
Comment by Bob, 12 Feb, 2013
So we hear this morning that the Pope has resigned. If he had any decency he would have resigned long ago considering the scandals in the church brought to light under his watch.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 12 Feb, 2013
So true Bob, but then if the deluded employees and followers of the Vatican had even an ounce of integrity they would have wound up the Catholic Church centuries ago and donated their obscene fortune to charity, and actually helped those in need, rather than screwing them.
I doubt if we'll see it, but the media heading for this unusual event should be: 'God gives up on Pope', or something similar. This again highlights that even if you are one of God's cherished friends, in this case his chosen emissary on Earth, you still won't receive any favours from him. If your health suffers, and it will, your life will progress just as if there was no God looking over you. The last Pope, John Paul II, suffered from Parkinson's Disease and other health problems, so quite clearly God looks on Catholics, pope or otherwise, and says: 'You're on your own'. For a God that attracts followers by promising his help and protection, the ongoing suffering of his flock prove that his promises are hollow. But even as a PR exercise, surely it would be in God's interest to have a physically and intellectually fit Pope representing him, not some decrepit old fool in a frock?
It's being reported that the Pope is resigning because he feels he is no longer physically or intellectually able to lead the Church. But that has never stopped past popes, with them all stubbornly clinging to power until the annoying reality of death forced them to consider stepping down.
Frankly I don't understand the logic of appointing a geriatric to control an organisation, any organisation. But with the Vatican I guess they need someone who isn't tempted to change the centuries old dogma and intolerance of the Catholic Church, someone who is effectively living in the distant past, and is convinced that women are second class citizens and must remain excluded. Now we'll have to watch the circus with their white and black smoke as they poll the Vatican rest home looking for another geriatric leader. One that hates women and homosexuals and hasn't yet been publicly exposed for committing or hiding child sex abuse. And it's really quite depressing, not to mention nauseating, to think that in this modern world there are still millions who will blindly kiss the feet of what ever old man they choose.
Comment by Anonymous-9, 13 Feb, 2013
So poor Pope Benedict has resigned. Why has this taken so long in view of the outrageous and colossal number of child molestations by his clergy now exposed. One would expect a mass exodus from this church, But no, the grip on their minds is so relentless, they still keep fronting up to fill the tithes.
Comment by H, 15 Feb, 2013
Excellent perspective on the catholic church by Gwynne Dyer: A new Pope, yes a new church, not likely
Comment by Bob, 18 Feb, 2013
Why is the Catholic Church headed by a geriatric? See him as a figurehead. Why does England have a geriatric queen? She is also a figurehead someone to focus attention on. It's those cardinals massing together who hold the power. Don't tell me they don't whisper in his ear. However while the Queen is respected the Pope is virtually regarded as God himself. It used to be and probably still is that Catholics approaching the Pope have to kiss a special ring on his finger. The attitude of ordinary Catholics is one of adulation. If he went around in a suit and tie it would not be the same. Clothes have always been a sign of authority or separateness.
The Catholic Church is losing adherents mainly in Europe because people in the West are better educated now and can see that it's teachings vary between nonsense and impracticality. I was reading a book written by a lady about the plight of women in very poor countries mainly in Africa. She mentioned the Catholic prohibition on the use of condoms. She pointed out that condoms not only protect against AIDS but allow women to limit the number of children they have. Unwanted pregnancies end up as botched abortions often with serious internal injury to the women. Repairing them is a large part of the work of charity hospitals. One thing I didn't know was that the Church tried to stop condoms being sold in El Salvador but couldn't. However they influenced the government to have "condoms do not prevent aids" printed on the packets. It lies outright by saying the minute pores in the condoms are larger than the HIV virus. This is not supported by scientists. They do protect against HIV and other STD's. Secular doctors in aid work will advise patients about abortions in cases where women are in poor health and poor circumstances. They battle not only the Catholic Church but other Christian groups too. Apparently George Bush cut off aid money already earmarked to aid hospitals even though abortion was only a small portion of the work done. To be fair to Bush he did allot money generously to other groups where abortion was not an issue.
I said before and still think the Catholic Church will be only a shadow of itself by the end of this century.
Comment by Anonymous-10, 21 Feb, 2013
Hi All. Received this from an acquaintance down country: 'Rape and slavery in the Bible'. Yet another expose of all the horrible Bible verses, this time written by an ex Baptist Minister who has recognised the 'Forest from the Trees' long ago and is hard at work trying to show daylight to the masses who still refuse to see other than darkness in the middle of the day. I am continually repeating "Every woman on this planet should be a staunch atheist after what they have endured (sorry-enduring) particularly over the last two and a half thousand years." It really pains me to see women preachers and others adorning themselves with that wretched cross, the very symbol of the atrocities they have endured and part of the very institution the poor things seem to publicly recognise and endorse, even complain if us 'anti religionists' start criticizing and pointing out the truth too bluntly. Words fail me!!! Enlightenment is soooooooo slow.
Comment by Bob, 01 May, 2013
In his humorous speech in parliament Maurice Williamson said a Catholic priest told him homosexuality is unnatural. I would love to talk to that priest because I think homosexuality is natural. That is a view which would no doubt upset a lot of Christian people because it is tantamount to saying God created homosexuals and lesbians.
It is true medical scientists have not found a homosexual gene. I think it is more complex than simply the result of one or two simple genes. I think the genes determine our hormones and it is the hormones which determine our sexual orientation. A while back I read an article from a psychologist who studied sexuality. He found that sexual orientation and attitude are continually variable. At the opposite ends of a scale there is heterosexuality and homosexuality. In the middle there is bisexuality. But there are also people with very strong sexual feelings and some with no sexual feelings and no desire to have sex at all. Among people considered normal there are those with strong desires and those with only weak desires, the once a dayers and the once a monthers. There are those who want sex with children. Of course that can't be allowed as children have to be protected. However I do wonder what drives paedophiles mostly men. I think possibly emotional immaturity has a lot to do with it.
I think our hormones can explain most of it. There might well be more to it. There are men who are physically male but mentally women. There are women mentally men. The whole field is quite complex though the majority are straight forwardly heterosexual.
I am sure many homosexuals and lesbians are quite decent people. I have no objection to them adopting children as long as they are screened like heterosexual couples. Stories I have heard suggest the children grow up well adjusted. In one case a daughter was heterosexual. The mother accepted that and welcomed her boyfriends into the home. Could they be any worse than some of the misfit heterosexual parents we hear about who should never be allowed to have children?
If gays want to marry why not? Let them do what they like as long as they are not hurting anyone else. The claims especially by the religious that homosexual marriage will devalue traditional marriage have a barrow to push. To grant homosexuals the freedom to live how they like would undermine their beliefs. The religions would start to crumble.
According to outraged correspondents to the newspapers when homosexuality was decriminalised the streets were going to be full of perverts and nobody's children would be safe. The civil union bill was going to be the downfall of society. Now gays marrying is going to destroy personal relationships and conventional marriage. My guess is in a couple of years it will be forgotten about again.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 May, 2013
I agree Bob. If God exists then he did indeed create homosexuals, and other things that Christians don't like, such as rape, cancer, earthquakes and evil itself. It clearly states this in the Bible. But since god doesn't exist, then homosexuality is just another part of the natural world. It's well documented, although not in Christian books, that many animals exhibit homosexuality, such as chimps and even sheep, it's not unique to humans. Like you I think that our sexual desires are entirely natural, brought about by genes and chemicals, like love itself. We have no conscious control over how we view others. This Christian nonsense that it's just a matter of choice, of free will, is ridiculous in the extreme. I challenge anyone to look at a person they find extremely attractive (or repulsive), and then convince themselves completely and wholeheartedly that they are actually just the opposite. Why do some men prefer blondes, and others brunettes? Why do some people love seafood and others hate it? We don't choose how we feel about others we meet or the food we eat or the music we hear, our mind tells us how we feel, with no discussion.
The lesbians and male homosexuals that I know are, apart from their sexual orientation, no different to heterosexuals in the way they live their lives. Their sexual orientation does not make them morally deficient in some way. The religious argument that every child needs a mother and father to flourish is demonstrably false. Look at John Key, who besides being our Prime Minister is also a millionaire and happily married. And yet he was raised by a solo mother. With no man around how is it possible that John Key became a success? If both a mother and father are essential, then after the World Wars why weren't all the children removed from families that found themselves with only one parent? Why do we still allow solo parent families if both parents are required? And if one woman or one man can successfully raise children, why would adding another woman or man suddenly destroy their parenting skills? And why do we have orphanages, where children have neither parent? Surely this is even worse than those with a single parent, so should we euthanize orphans for their own good?
Of course it really has nothing to do with whether two women or two men can raise children, and everything to do with the childish, bullshit belief that some invisible, intolerant god is offended by homosexuality, even though he carefully designed and created it and allows it to continue. They spout their nonsense because they fear their god, often condemning their own family members who have confessed their homosexuality. And as we all know, many outspoken Christians claiming to be offended by homosexuality are in fact secretly fighting their own homosexual desires. As for marriage, the most famous couple in the Bible, Adam and Eve, weren't even married. God wasn't duly worried, so why should we be? Many of God's favourite people had several wives and concubines, and again God wasn't duly worried. Prostitution was rife in the Bible, and again God turned a blind eye.
Christians need to grow up and face reality. The sky will not fall because of the new laws. In one sense we haven't made homosexuality legal, we've simply made Christian intolerance illegal.
Comment by Bob, 11 May, 2013
I was surprised to read the following news item from Rome —
Fake pope fined for looking like John Paul
Though it is Italy and not New Zealand, I didn't know the pope was an officially revered Italian. Even our Queen impersonators are not prosecuted and she is the highest status person in our society. It smacks to me of undue undeserved respect for religion in that country. That impersonator should have led a symbolic little boy by the hand.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 May, 2013
I love your comment Bob, that the pope look-alike should have had a little boy in tow. When you think about it, it should be an essential dress-up accessory — frock, silly hat, big cross and little boy. A Catholic priest without a little boy would be like Batman without his mask, a cowboy without his six-shooter or Zorro without his sword.
It's always surprising the silly things that various countries (including NZ) deem offensive and thus make illegal.
Comment by Bob, 04 Jun, 2013
I was amused this weekend over the Pope's statement that atheists who were good people could go to heaven. He was promptly overruled by conservatives who said non-believers are automatically condemned to hell. It surprises me that God will give people a brain and the ability to think then clobber them if they come to wrong conclusions. It reminds me of Russia during the communist era. Everybody supported communism until it collapsed because it was unhealthy to think otherwise. Now there appears to be few who want it back. The Catholic Church is similar in that it wants people to stick rigidly to its principles and not think for themselves.
Catholic Church confirms atheists still go to hell, after Pope Francis suggests they might go to heaven
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 04 Jun, 2013
Hi Bob. That's typical of the new pope, trying to be the nice guy, but the conservatives are right, atheists go to hell. We're not talking about secular governments or your local bowling club here, where MPs and committee members get to make whatever rules they like. Christians don't get to vote on God's laws, they don't get to decide on what laws they will live by.
For God believers the rules of who will go where on death is quite clear and can't be changed, EVER! You can be the nicest person that ever lived, but if you don't become an obsequious servant of God then you'll be tortured for eternity. On the other hand, if you're a serial killer and rapist who has 'entered the church', you'll go to heaven and into the arms of God. God will not and CAN NOT change his mind about this. Human laws can be changed to match modern sensibilities but God's laws can not. If religious people don't grasp this then they don't understand who and what God is.
As you say, the claim that God gave humans a reasoning brain, and we then use that brain to decide that God doesn't exist, is a rather stupid thing for an all-knowing God to do. So of course the Church doesn't want people to think, since it can only lead to atheism. Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation in the 16th century, described reason as 'the devil's bride' and 'God's worst enemy'. He wrote that:
'There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason, especially if she enters into spiritual matters which concern the soul and God. For it is more possible to teach an ass to read than to blind such a reason and lead it right; for reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.'
Clearly, and understandably, the last thing that the church wants is for people to think for themselves. And judging by the still enormous number of Christians worldwide, they are getting their wish. Silly Christians are chloroforming their reason and embracing blind faith and obedience instead. For them, the ignorance of the Dark Ages never really ended.
'Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees it must put out of sight, and wish to know nothing but the word of God'.
'Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.'
'Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.'
'Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason.'
Comment by Bob, 22 Jul, 2013
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
I am beginning to think the Catholic Church is an overbearing bully. It uses its power to force its views on people not just to persuade them. Just at present the Philipines, a very Catholic country, wants to initiate laws to allow the distribution of contraceptives. Of course the Church opposes it. It is bad enough they oppose it. Now they want to campaign against the supporting politicians in the next elections as well as organising their followers to oppose contraception moves.
The Irish are beginning to shrug off the overpowering influence of the Catholic Church. The death of the Indian lady who was refused an abortion was a wake up call to the Irish government. Now it wants to allow limited abortion in the case of rape and adverse medical condition. At least that is a start. The Catholic Church is organising as much opposition as it can. I think the Irish have become cynical since revelations of child abuse and the abuse of unmarried mothers. Apparently a couple of thousand Irish women go to Britain every year for abortions which they have to pay for. In 1985 there was a furore over a 14 year old pregnant girl who was raped and made pregnant by a girlfriend's father. She was not allowed an abortion so threatened to go to Britain. A law was passed stopping her from travelling. To me that is a travesty of our right to freedom. The Catholic Church of course was behind it.
We are not subject to that pressure because we won't allow it. The Pope singled out New Zealand for adverse comment over the Civil Union bill. Helen Clark told him to mind his own business in a diplomatic way. With homosexual decriminalisation, civil union, homosexual marriage, contraception, sterilisation etc. little has been heard from that church. We don't allow them to bully us.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Jul, 2013
Seriously Bob, you're only now 'beginning to think the Catholic Church is an overbearing bully'? ;-) The manner in which they have terrorised their followers over the centuries, threatening them with not just eternal damnation and torture in the next life, but also excommunication, physical torture and death in this life if they didn't obey the Church is despicable. You mention our right to freedom, with which I totally agree, but the way the Church sees it we don't have such a right. According to them we are all servants, slaves and minions of their God, and as such we don't have the freedom and independence to do as we wish. We must slavishly obey the commandments of our vindictive Lord and Master, and if we don't, Catholics leave us in no doubt regarding the barbaric punishment we can expect from their falsely labelled 'loving' God.
You're right that our government doesn't listen to the pope, but you don't have to go to the Philippines or Ireland to see them trying to influence a country's laws. In recent months the bloody Catholic Church have been protesting outside my local hospital over abortions, as well as writing letters to the newspaper, hoping to intimidate staff, patients and the community and have it stopped. And you'll remember their attempts to get that 'South Park' episode banned as well as Te Papa's 'Virgin in a Condom' exhibit? We must stay alert and continue to stand up to these deluded God-bothering bullies, or else even in NZ our hard won freedoms will be slowly eroded.
Comment by Mike, 30 Jul, 2013
I wonder if this is of interest — the "Freeman on the land" lunacy seems to have made it to l'il ol' NZ.
This Stuff article doesn't say much except it's a court case & protesters caused a bit of a ruckus...
Protest shuts down courtroom
so I googled the defendant, Kiri Campbell, and found this —
KIRI CAMPBELL Of Hawera New Zealand Unlawfully Arrested And Detained After Exposing Massive Banking Fraud.
It shows the full panalopy of "Freeman" nonsense — and if this woman has 80 ppl turning up to complain about her arrest then it would seem the infection has gained some traction.
I find it really quite difficult to rationally explain the "freeman" hoax, so I'll let a couple of 'pedia's do it for me —
Try not to let the stupid get hold of you!! :)
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 31 Jul, 2013
Can't say I had heard of this specific 'Freeman on the land' nonsense Mike, although we've come across examples here and overseas with people claiming that the law doesn't apply to them. Remember that guy insisting that he didn't need a dog licence because he was Maori, another that he didn't need a fishing licence, all because it was traditional, and traditionally Maori didn't need licences. Then there was that Maori guy issuing his own passports, again insisting that NZ law was separate from Maoris. Even Peter in 'Family Guy' tried to divorce himself from the law of the land in one episode, creating a sovereign country within the USA. It didn't end well.
The Rational Wiki article provides an informative and amusing read on this 'Freeman on the land' nonsense. It noted that articles that promoting this rebellious stance 'were promptly slapped down by actual lawyers who detailed how this was dangerous idiocy that would send you directly to jail... Freeman ideas are now an object of amusement for the British legal profession'. Also 'Canadian Associate Chief Justice John D. Rooke wrote a 185-page judgment... saying: "The persons who advance these schemes... are parasites that must be stopped"'.
I note that the Stuff article says that 'Campbell's plight... has been associated with the Maori sovereignty movement' and that 'She was an administrator of The One People Aotearoa-New Zealand Facebook page'. Do these people not think? How can you fight for Maori sovereignty, fight to split NZ governance into Maori and Others and then have the arrogance or ignorance to call your movement: 'The One People Aotearoa-New Zealand'? 'One People' means unity, not split sovereignty.
Reading that more 'detailed' article on Campbell (KIRI CAMPBELL Of Hawera New Zealand Unlawfully Arrested...), I notice that it was published on the 'openUReyes — Alternative News Blog'. First we had alternative medicine, now we have alternative news. For the people that can't accept the world the way it is, they invent alternative versions to keep themselves happy. Looking at their site I notice that they have supportive sections on the 9/11 Truth Movement, Chemtrails, Secret Societies and UFOs. Clearly a site for those struggling with reality. The Internet is an amazing source of information, unfortunately it's also a great source of disinformation, and there are many people who can't tell the difference.
Campbell's deluded supporters tell us that 'KIRI NEEDS YOUR HELP!' and states that 'we need to load the courthouse with supporters', and if we can't be there, at least 'Pray at 9am Tuesday (New Zealand time) for Kiri'. With God on her side, why does she need our help? But seriously, these people do need help, but unfortunately I'm not a psychiatrist.
Comment by Gary, 28 Aug, 2013
I just wondered if you read the opinion piece in the ODT about acupuncture: 'Acupuncture effective, safe, cost-effective'
Do you have any comment on this? I didn't see the original article he's commenting on, but I wish I did.
Love your site.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 28 Aug, 2013
No, I hadn't seen that opinion piece. I don't have a favourable view of acupuncture overall. It may have some benefits in limited cases, probably due to the placebo effect, but like most alternative medicine the claims made for its effectiveness don't match reality. Also, once they start talking about meridians and life forces, for which there is no evidence, as being the underlying explanations for acupuncture, this further weakens their case. There is also the medical stance of doing no harm, so surely they should use acupressure rather than acupuncture, since they both claim to work and for the same reason, targeting the appropriate pressure points. Unfortunately it has been shown that when acupuncture appears to work, it doesn't matter where you stick your needles and whether you pierce the skin or not, which suggests placebo.
The following are some interesting articles on acupuncture:
Puncturing the Acupuncture Myth
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture: A Science-Based Assessment
Acupuncture — The Skeptic's Dictionary
Comment by Gary, 29 Aug, 2013
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, John. I also don't have a favourable view of acupuncture. Funny, the ODT seems to be pushing a lot of woo lately. There's another questionable opinion piece today: 'No consent given for fluoridation'.
Comment by Mike, 31 Aug, 2013
Hi John. Sigh and I thought it was just us silly Australians who had bullshit like this. As a member of the Stop the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network this cropped up in my Facebook feed.
Holistic Doula and the measles model
I have never heard of a Doula before but it seems like these people will happily take your money to train you in becoming one. Might be worth a look into just from the bullshit they sprout about how a herd gains immunity.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 Sep, 2013
Thanks for the link Mike. It's depressing the number of people who want us all to revert back to nature. They clearly have no knowledge of the scourge that disease has been throughout history, and still is in places. This nonsense that living a natural life, naked, bare foot, eating only organic food, communing with the spirits and using only herbs and homeopathic remedies would see mass suffering and death and a return to a Middle Ages standard of living before we knew it. The problem is I think that these morons look around at their closeted existence, safe, healthy, hygienic, free from the epidemics that terrorised our ancestors, and naively believe that humans can return to a caring natural world, unaware that nature is not the least concerned about our welfare and that its horrors, all perfectly natural, have not been eliminated. Like a serial killer in prison, they have merely been contained, and we release them at our peril.
Comment by Anonymous-11, 06 Sep, 2013
Just wanted to let whoever/whatever owns this site know that you are a fucking cunt ^_^
I'm sure you know why!
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 07 Sep, 2013
If you're sure we already know, then why do you feel you need to tell us? But the fact is that we don't know, and your erudite comments fail to shine any light on the matter, although you've obviously put a great deal of thought into them.
Seriously though, your language doesn't offend us. In fact it only bolsters our confidence, in that an opponent is so inept at refuting some claim we've made that they must resort to profanity. Critics that must resort to puerile, feeble-minded abuse merely reveal how weak and groundless their argument must be. We can't respond, even to agree with you, since we don't know if you're a deluded god botherer, a believer in some superstitious alternative therapy, someone who believes they've been fondled by ghosts or aliens, or some paranoid conspiracy theorist.
All we can tell is that, even with the anonymity of the Internet, you are apparently too infuriated and/or too afraid to even say what it is that has annoyed you, let alone try and correct our thinking by pointing out where we have erred. You apparently think that we can read your thoughts, and terrified by what we see, we will cease making the claims that have so incensed you. You clearly haven't thought this through have you?
That you choose insult over reasoned debate merely puts you into that deplorable group that must resort to mindless abuse because reason and knowledge escapes you. What is it that you fear, that you won't even say what's got your panties in a twist? Patently it's a topic you feel strongly about, but at the same time evidently know pathetically little about, and thus lack the confidence to even mention its name. Is civil debate on this unknown topic truly beyond you?
Prove us wrong. Untwist your panties, ask someone else to help, anyone, and explain what we got wrong, and why. I suspect you're going to struggle greatly with the 'why' part of your response, but for once put yourself above an excrement throwing chimpanzee and at least try to make an attempt at using reason. Show that your belief can be defended with something other than expletives.
Since you've already shown yourself willing to take the time to read something on our website and then present what in your mind passes for a forceful and cogent argument, your future silence will be taken as a sign of passive defeat.
Comment by Bob, 11 Sep, 2013
The MSN computer news webpage has a very interesting article on religious statistics in England. There has been a substantial drop in adherence to religions since the 1980s. Only the Catholic Church has held its own at a low figure. We can assume Britain would mirror most European countries. Religious adherence must be generally declining and quite steeply in the Western world. I will be interested to see the statistics from our recent census on religion.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Sep, 2013
Thanks for the link Bob. My impression from what I've read of late is that there is a clear decline in religious adherence in the Western world. For example Steve Jones writes in his latest book 'The Serpent's Promise: The Bible Retold as Science' that:
'In almost all developed nations Christianity has lost the demographic war. Even in the United States the proportion of adherents is in decline, for the number who state their affiliation to religion as 'none' has doubled in the past two decades to almost one in five. Congregations in the once devout lands of Austria, Ireland and Switzerland have collapsed. More than halve of all Czechs consider themselves to be atheists or agnostics while in Britain the Welsh take the pagan crown. The 2011 census records a fall of more than 10 percent in the proportion of Christians in just a decade... In Europe at least, religion is in its twilight years'.
But he also notes that global Christianity is still in robust health. Why? Well, 'As developed nations move away from the Church, half the people of Africa have joined'. And of course we still have the problem of Islam, which is making no signs of seeking enlightenment.
I too am looking forward to seeing what our latest census records re religion. I predict it will be another embarrassment for the Christians as their popularity takes another hit. With the easy access to knowledge these days and the clear success of science in explaining the world, the real question is how anyone with even half a brain can still say they believe in angels on clouds.
Comment by Bob, 13 Sep, 2013
I am sure as an atheist like me you will be pleased both the Pope and God will forgive us if we are "good". "Good" is defined as living by our consciences. I wonder if those child abusing priests were living by their consciences and the members of the hierarchy who covered for them. Also there is the scandal of the Vatican Bank which has laundered illegal money and another scandal regarding property in Italy owned or controlled by the Vatican — not too much conscience there. You might remember the head of the Vatican Bank was found hanging under a London bridge back in the '80s.
The Italian Union of Atheists and Agnostics asked "Why should a non believer seek legitimisation from the Pope?" Personally I couldn't care less what the Pope thinks. The Pope is really treading on dangerous ground when he says individuals can be guided by their consciences. Does this mean a woman can have an abortion if she squares that with her conscience? I think the conservatives will be having a word with the Pope.
He also pointed out that celibacy was not a dogma but a tradition open to discussion. The Church accountants will be nervously working out the cost of that on their calculators. A pope can't be sacked so I suppose a lot will be going on behind closed doors trying to keep him under control.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 14 Sep, 2013
You're quite right Bob, nothing is now forbidden for Catholics, not abortion, contraception, divorce, casual sex, masturbation or even murder, since psychopaths can happily kill by obeying their conscience. Evidently it's not about what's right or wrong or what God decrees, if you're obeying your conscience then God will forgive you.
Pope Francis reaches out to atheists and agnostics
To me the new pope's desire to be accepted by all and sundry makes a complete nonsense of the Catholic Church. As I've said in the past, I have more respect for Christian fundamentalists than your average Christian. They're totally deluded of course, but at least they sincerely believe what their God's Bible says and live by it. This new pope is simply trying to win new converts, just as many other Christian churches have done in recent decades, by editing, deleting, reinterpreting and effectively inventing a new friendlier version of Christianity. The moment a Christian (or Jew or Muslim) decides that they will pass judgement on what their God really said, what he really meant, what he did and didn't do, what his plans are and what we can do and still get his blessing is the moment their belief becomes not just a fantasy, but a self-invented fantasy. For a devout Bible reading Christian to think that outspoken blaspheming atheists will be welcomed by God as equals questions their sanity.
If the pope is right, if both Christian and atheist will be welcomed into Heaven, what motivation is there to be an annoying Christian who is so limited in what they can do in life, when you can be a free-living atheist, ignoring the demands of gods and enjoying and experiencing life as you think it should be lived? Why bother with church on Sunday and letting some creepy priest put a dry wafer in your mouth when you can sleep in, have protected sex with your partner to whom you're not married and then have French toast for brunch? With the pope saying atheists are just as acceptable to God as Catholics, does this mean that he's secretly envious of our carefree lifestyle? As their faith is slowly eroded away, in the future it will be difficult to tell a Catholic and an atheist apart. In many cases it's already impossible to identify the Catholics from the atheists. Every concession the pope and his ilk make is just one more nail in the coffin that is religion.
Comment by Jamie, 27 Sep, 2013
Hi John. Shock-horror! It seems that the NZ Clairvoyant Society got it wrong...
"Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS)
Oracle Team USA win Race 16 after leading from start to finish. Where to now for ETNZ? We did have a call from the NZ Clairvoyant Society on Sunday who informed us that Wednesday would be the day we lift the cup (seemed funny at the time!). Come on Emirates Team New Zealand the whole nation is still behind you!!!
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Sep, 2013
Thanks Jamie. How unfortunate for the NZ Clairvoyant Society that the first time most of us become aware of their existence is with a prediction that is such an embarrassing failure. It's clear proof (as if more proof were needed) that these deluded morons are simply making educated guesses. And I use the word 'educated' in a very loose sense. And if NZ has it's very own Clairvoyant Society, why have they waited until near the end of some unimportant yacht race to reveal what they know of the world's future? Why aren't they using their skills and spooky knowledge to warn of approaching natural disasters and criminal acts? Why waste their time predicting what most Kiwis thought that they could reliably predict as well? What use is a Clairvoyant Society if they can't even predict their own incompetence?
Comment by Bob, 28 Sep, 2013
They should have done what most clairvoyants do, wait until something happens then claim they predicted it.
Comment by Bob, 11 Feb, 2014
State school moves religious classes
When I first heard some state schools were being given religion instruction I was quite surprised. I thought religion was kept out of state schools. I would be interested to know exactly what is taught. I did know some people were trying to get religion into schools under the guise of morals. 5 and 6 year olds are too young to be taught religion. At that age it is no more than indoctrination. In an ideal home the best way to teach children morals is by example. Religious instruction is a matter for parents though I prefer children not to be exposed until around 15 when they can judge for themselves.
I don't like the idea of teaching religion at all in schools. Since it will inevitably be Christian based it is not fair on those of other religions. I live in an area where a lot of Indians have settled. Perhaps the Indian kids should be separated out and taught Hinduism. Then again there are a number of Asian Buddhists. Those Indians and Asians are good people who assimilate well into our society. I prefer religion to be kept at arms length.
A long time ago now one of my sons at 10 years of age asked me if there was a god. At the time I didn't want to indoctrinate my children with atheism any more than religion. I told him truthfully I didn't know and suggested he wait until he was older and decide for himself. Fortunately something else took his attention and got me off the hook.
When I see the belligerent attitude of mainly fundamentalists in America I don't want religion sliding into schools here.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 14 Feb, 2014
Hi Bob. It is surprising that religious instruction (or Bible in Schools) is given in many secular state schools. At times I don't think we really are in the 21st century. I agree with your comments, at that age it is just indoctrination. Of course the churches don't want to wait until they're older, because as you say, by then they can judge for themselves, and they will most likely judge that it's all bullshit.
Comment by Bob, 16 Feb, 2014
India to celebrate 'victory over polio'
All those silly people especially mothers who don't want their children immunised should read this. They claim vaccines have caused autism and other health problems in their children. The fact there is no evidence immunisation causes autism cuts no ice with them. Those of us old enough to remember the ravages of polio would say India has done its people a great service. If any number of Indian parents had listened to Western idiots and refused immunisation thousands more people would have suffered. That is at least two historic ravages I know of which have been eradicated — polio and smallpox. We don't hear much about leprosy now, a disease which was an historic scourge mentioned in the bible. Though it appears leprosy might have been a cover for a number of different diseases, mainly skin diseases.
Unfortunately because people are different from each other occasionally one might have a bad reaction to a vaccine but the overwhelming number of people who benefit means it should still be used. We don't ban peanuts because some children are allergic to them.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 16 Feb, 2014
Good link Bob, and India has indeed performed admirably here. As you say, young mothers have no knowledge of the likes of polio, or TB, and the suffering they cause. They don't realise the impact modern medicine has had. They seem to think that their good health that they take for granted is due to simply living at one with nature and shunning the likes of vaccines and antibiotics, which are all artificial and thus dangerous, and seemingly produced in labs by evil scientists. They don't realise the potential harm their ignorance is exposing their children to, and the children of others. They really need to be exposed to some history and science, instead of Facebook and reality TV. We're reminded in that article that 'polio vaccination workers in Pakistan are still being killed by the Taliban'. Anti-vaccination groups in NZ are our Taliban, ignorant fools stuck in the Middle Ages, but thankfully without the AK47s and willingness to kill their opponents.
Of course there is risk with vaccines, just as there is a risk in getting out of bed and crossing the road, but the benefits of vaccines are proven to greatly exceed the harm they might very rarely cause. Your peanut analogy is spot on, and I guarantee these mothers shunning vaccines because of some minor risk still spin around in their cars with their kids where the risk of injury and death is far, far greater.
Comment by Mikaere, 16 Feb, 2014
Hi John. There is no doubting the efficacy of immunisation and many people appear to harbour silly beliefs about medical science. However, there do need to be checks and balances and sometimes somewhat irrational behaviour achieves these. Examples could be the changes made to the whooping cough vaccine in the 90s after many reported adverse reactions. We all remember the result of wholesale Thalidomide prescribing.
I guess it's a good thing that people can make informed decisions about medical intervention. Being suspicious of drugs is not quite the same as believing in fairies. I guess the important thing is to be honest when making the decision to immunise or not.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 17 Feb, 2014
Hi Mikaere. I agree completely that pharmaceutical companies must be held to account and made to justify the efficacy and safety of their products. They must listen to and respond to complaints from the public. And readers wondering about 'the changes made to the whooping cough vaccine' might find this article informative.
You correctly note 'that people can make informed decisions about medical intervention', but I suspect that when many people take stances on medical matters they are not truly informed. Many people that object to vaccination per se are believers in homeopathy (and other alternative therapies), they know little about viruses, bacteria and the body's immune system, and they have little understanding of the risks involved. Generally I fully respect a person's right to refuse medical treatment, but with many vaccines, for a mass vaccination program to be effective a high proportion of a population needs to be vaccinated to provide what is called herd protection. Drop below this threshold and the vaccine is ineffective. People refusing to vaccinate themselves and their children may believe they are making a personal choice that is no one else's business, but this refusal can be putting their entire community at risk of disease. Some people may have a sincere and honest mistrust of modern medicine, but usually I find that this belief is ill-founded. Thus we need to find a way to fully inform the general public about the benefits and risks of vaccination.
And I think this matter of risk is what scares and misleads most people. People become terrified when a scientist or doctor refuses to state that a vaccine is absolutely 100% safe, that it is impossible for it to do harm. It doesn't matter if they qualify this by saying that there is only a one in million chance of harm (or whatever), people focus on themselves being that one that might be harmed, and decide not to vaccinated. And yet these same people never demand an assurance from a pilot or airline company that they are absolutely 100% sure their plane won't crash, and in fact they know that some planes will crash, and yet they still get on board. People know there could be hungry sharks out there, but still race into the water. People know that some surgery is dangerous and may kill them, but still opt to have it, deciding that it is well worth the risk if their health problem can be resolved. Like everything we do in life, there is always some risk, we just need to convince the anti-vaccination crowd that with well-tested vaccines the risk is well worth taking. And yes, we also need to keep the pressure on pharmaceutical companies to make sure their products are well-tested.
Comment by Mike, 18 Feb, 2014
And apparently New Zealand could have been pretty much free from measles by now... except for... well....... you know who..... Measles myths blamed for outbreaks
Comment by Bob, 26 Feb, 2014
I saw an item of interest on the MSN news page from America this morning.
Bible in US driver's pocket stops bullets
The bus driver who was shot at said only that he had a book in his pocket which stopped the bullet. A policeman is quoted as saying it must have been divine intervention. I remember a long time ago now I was working with a another young guy who was a bible fundamentalist who took every opportunity to preach especially to me knowing I was an atheist. One day he smugly told me the story of an Australian soldier during World War 2 who had a bullet stopped by a crucifix he was wearing suggesting somehow that God had engineered the event. He was a bit crestfallen when I explained a bit about such events. In the Australian army the men wore shirts with two breast pockets. It was common for them to carry tins of tobacco in one of those pockets. A number of soldiers had dented tins as souvenirs. Also they had thick brass buttons with some squashed buttons as souvenirs. Most of these bullets were easily stopped because they had already travelled a fair distance and their energy was spent. If they were fired point blank range a tobacco tin or a crucifix would not have stopped them. With thousands of men fighting and millions of bullets flying around coincidences were inevitable.
The problem with bible fundamentalists is that they believe what they want to believe. Facts are either ignored or twisted to suit. The news media doesn't help by supporting them.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 14 Feb, 2014
Hey Bob. You're right, these fundamentalists are pathetic, twisting what happened to give credit to their sky fairy. The poor guy was shot twice in the chest, once in the leg and slashed in the arm with a knife as he struggled with three teenagers attempting to murder him. Yes, the bible may have stopped two bullets, but not the third bullet or the knife wound. My view of an intervention by an all-powerful, all-knowing god would see those teenagers being stopped before their murderous attack even begun. It would have been an extremely frightening, traumatic and painful experience for the bus driver, why would a caring god force him to go through it? If a parent only rescued their child after they had been injured and terrified, when they could have prevented the incident entirely, would we call them caring and loving parents? The fact is that if god exists and wants to help, he is clearly a weak and impotent god. For the bus driver, evidently the best god could do was make sure he put his bible in pocket before setting off for work that day. He couldn't stop the third bullet or the slashing knife, let alone prevent the murder attempt entirely. For some reason, he couldn't even whisper to the bus driver that it wasn't a safe place to stop for repairs. Clearly a pretty worthless god.
And look at what our good Bible-toting Christian did when the thugs fled: 'Wagoner picked up the dropped gun and shot after the fleeing teens but told the dispatcher he didn't think he hit them'. Doesn't the bible say to turn the other cheek and love thine enemies, not shoot them in the back as they flee? I'm not saying I wouldn't have done the same thing, but I'm not pretending to be a Bible-toting Christian.
I like your bullet and crucifix story. It's amazing how often Christians are fooled by these simple stories which are either blatantly false or easily explained. Surely the bible contains enough fairy stories for them, but no, they have to invent new ones. I guess they're genuinely afraid that their god has deserted them, we don't see any of the big miracles anymore, and so they console themselves by pretending that they might have caught a glimpse of god at work saving a solider or a bus driver. Pathetic really.
Comment by Phill, 01 Mar, 2014
Hi guys, in regards to the miraculous stories of the religious types I'll say it now I've said it before, religion is a win win situation. You get the story of the guy saved by his crucifix or bible in his pocket. You never hear about the case of the poor sucker where the bullet neatly missed his well beloved crucifix and ploughed straight through his heart. Or the high powered bullet fired at close range that ripped right though the bible in his breast pocket. When a building collapses we here the story of the one person saved from the rubble who prayed to god. What about all the others who also prayed to god but died there. No doubt part of his mysterious plan. I lay odds that a couple of thousand years ago the local markets were filled with similar stories of the God Apollo saving some poor schmuck from a building collapse or how another was saved when his attacker's sword glanced of his Amulet of Horus.
Of course there may be an argument that could be developed that says a religious belief may be of an advantage in these kinds of situation. I don't know of any studies that have been done on this question, on whether having a religious belief does provide for greater resilience in the event of catastrophe. I could imagine it being possible, for instance in the collapsed building situation is it possible that the Christ nutter will hold out a bit longer over the atheist, after all in such a situation we atheists will be weighing up the probabilities of survival while the Christ nutter knows his god will save him, might such a conviction give him a few extra hours? Years ago I read of some experiments with rats where they were placed in a device of flowing water that forced them to swim, the general outcome was that after an hour or so the wee beast gave up and drowned. However, according to the report if a rat was pulled out before it expired and later returned to the device it would carry on swimming till exhaustion overcame it. I cannot vouch for the report, which I read it in a Lyall Watson book so I guess it should be taken with a grain of salt. But it has been an idea that has intrigued me over the years, and possibly one of the explanations why religious belief has been so prevalent in all human societies, in that it was both a method of understanding the world around our ancestors and a source of hope during times of catastrophe. Of course thanks to science we now understand many of the phenomena that baffled them, and improved engineering and medical developments have reduced the catastrophes that once afflicted their lives.
Of course if given the choice of an extra few hours in a catastrophic event by believing totally in the sky faery or dying a bit sooner and sticking with the scientific method I'll take science every time.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 Mar, 2014
Hi Phill. I suspect you're right, the religious might have an advantage in some situations, such as disasters. Christianity has always been about hope, to meekly put up with their miserable, pathetic life, to live as their god dictates, in the vain hope that their next life will better... much, much better. They've just got to hold out a little longer, their god will be along soon. But that said, of course atheists can have plenty of hope as well, hope that real people using real equipment will rescue or assist them. And atheists have plenty to live for, arguably far more than the religious, since we don't see this life as a dress rehearsal for the next one. We need to fight for this life, whereas a religious person could well be tempted to check into heaven early.
Comment by Ron, 09 Mar, 2014
Hello again John. Been looking into Pope Francis' call to end global hunger/poverty via various means including prayer. A wonderful, noble gesture that will increase his already huge popularity wave.
The cynic in me asks what is the true motive here. Alas, I and so many others fail to see how this can come to pass anytime soon, if not ever. For example, poverty in the USA has not fallen, rather, levels have risen. Many reasons for poverty have been cited, ie corruption, the greed of others, environmental factors, disenfranchisement of women, etc. Overpopulation increasing must also equate to more and more humans equals a decline in quality of life for many others.
Of course to see the Pope's goal realized would be super. However, it seems an enormous amount of prayer and faith will be necessary ingredients. Perhaps the Pope is working on that biblical quote "If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed you will say to this mountain 'move from here to there'and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you". As I've never witnessed, nor heard of, a mountain being coerced to move sideways, this sounds as silly as "stars falling to earth". As I've said here before, like so many others, I have had no success with prayer despite trying over long periods. Some do claim great results, yes. Pope Francis will surely be on a better wavelength than my humble self. I wish him well.
What bugs me is I saw this picture of the Pope discussing this with what appeared to be a cardinal and an Asian dignitary. On the table, in the foreground was 2 largish ornate gold items. Would it not have been better taste to have removed these prior to filming?
Some of their remaining billions worth of material wealth would go a long way in helping world hunger/poverty for starters.
As someone so succinctly put it "sell the Vatican, feed the world".
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 10 Mar, 2014
Hey Ron. I suspect you have exposed the pope's true motive, and that is to increase his popularity, and the Catholic Church as a whole slinks along for the ride. As we both know, prayer is worthless, it is futile to beg favours from someone that doesn't exist. Although scientific experiments have shown prayer fails, it shouldn't take this level of investigation to demonstrate that for thousands of years people having been praying for their god(s) to end hunger and poverty, among other things, and yet they're still with us. It really is time that these people woke up.
As you say, through its obscene wealth the Catholic Church already has the means to make a real difference if it really wanted to, but clearly it doesn't. Instead they elect to hoard their ill-gotten riches and conspire to amass even more, all the while assuring us that their boss is working on the problem and will soon set things right. Of course they said that thousands of years ago too. It's bad enough that these deluded, sex-fearing fools believe that help will soon descend from the clouds, but depressing that many of the public and media still support their delusion. We only know of the pope's call and the Vatican's riches because the media keep portraying them as important and influential. We never get to hear what the leader of the Ku Klux Klan or the head witch of the Wiccan religion thinks. The pope and the Vatican should likewise be ignored, and only reported on when yet another priest is exposed as a child abuser. Abuses against humanity is the only thing that the Catholic Church has managed over the centuries, and that is what they should be remembered for. We shouldn't respect them for wallowing in their riches while their followers, from whom their wealth came, suffer early deaths through poverty and hunger.
Stupid people often say, what harm is there in letting people believe their silly fantasies? Well every Catholic that starves to death while the pope and his entourage are dining and living to excess is clearly where the harm is. Every Catholic that contracts HIV because the celibate pope forbids condom use is where the harm is. Every Catholic that persecutes homosexuals, women and atheists through following the demands of a disgusting sky fairy is where the harm is. Every Catholic that fails to understand the universe as it really is, that's where the harm is.
Comment by Bob, 11 Mar, 2014
Poverty is being eliminated. It is not going to be cured by next week. Compared with 50 years ago there is less poverty now. Remember then India was the starving country. We were urged to give to poor boxes for India. Look at South Korea, China, South America even Singapore a backward country in the 1940s. They have all gradually improved. Bangladesh a vey poor country is gradually improving. African countries are improving. I read a while ago where some European financiers were beginning to invest in African industries something laughable years ago. It was pointed out that while poverty still existed in Africa large numbers of people were improving their standards of living. A certain amount of poverty is caused by incompetent and criminal governments such as North Korea and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe for instance has a great climate and good soil fertility. If it was well run it would give all its people a reasonable standard of living but Mugabe has wrecked it. It was well run until the European farmers were pushed out and their farms stolen.
You can't just raise people out of poverty by pouring money into them. They need to be helped to help themselves. Even in a first world country like New Zealand we are finding that pouring money out to people doesn't do a lot for them. Yet when our government tells them to get off their backsides and look for a job to help themselves the government is "heartless".
The trouble with the Christian churches is they have to feel superior. Always being concerned about the poor seems to be their raison d'etre. If poverty is ever eliminated the Church will be out of a job.
Comment by Ron, 26 Mar, 2014
Hello John. Now we have an outcome over the incredibly tragic and chilling saga of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flt MH370. You would not be surprised that as the search for answers slid into the 3rd week the psychics were coming out of the woodwork with their worthless, vague, unhelpful madness. Has a psychic ever in history helped find a missing plane?
Uri Geller was apparently asked to help by a "senior figure" in Malaysia. He uses remote viewing, sending mind through time and space. He was useless. Asking all his twitter and facebook followers for help. After much criticism he pulled out.
CNN's sister network HNL called in well known Lisa Williams as media outlets delved into the mystical, paranormal and supernatural. Ms Williams said it crashed not near water. She saw lots of trees, a larger organization behind it who are leading all off track with the debris, etc. Wrong.
Nigerian televangelist T.B.Joshua claims he predicted this disaster back on July 28, 2013 quoting an Asian nation, a large aircraft with over 200 people develops a fault after takeoff. The answer is back at the tarmac. Vague. Means nothing.
Another says MH370 would be found in snowy mountains in a particular national park in Vietnam with all on board alive. Wrong
Very well known US psychic and author Kristy Robinett said it was hijacked by more than 3 with a master mind not on board. That's all. Then she covers herself saying "nothing is absolute, not all psychics have the same strength to their abilities. Thus one may "see" something others may miss". Worthless.
Finally, the Malaysian psychic, known as a Bomoh with his magic sticks, funny water and coconuts at KL airport. He was the only one who appears right in saying it crashed into the sea. Of course, like Ken Ring this was simply a lucky guess. He claims also as being invited by a top "leader". He asked people to pray. Useless surely.
One guy quoted said he was praying like mad all the time. On a wall I saw the words "pray for MH370".
I can understand if now, people choose to pray for the grieving families. That is their prerogative but to pray for the plane and all its occupants? The way I see it, cynical as it may sound, is that the fate of the aircraft and and passengers and crew was set in stone on that first day, regardless. No amount of praying like crazy could change any of that, sadly. My absolute sympathy and frequent thoughts of empathy go out to all those grieving for their lost loved ones.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Mar, 2014
Yes Ron, psychics are attracted like moths to a flame when some personal publicity can be gained through the misfortune of others. If psychic ability were real the plane wouldn't still be missing, and we would have been warned of the event before the fact. And really, what good is praying? It's just begging god to change his plans, and what chance is there of that? If he exists, he knows what he's doing and has a good reason for making the plane disappear. If god exists believers need to accept that he had a hand in their deaths.
Comment by Gavin, 27 Mar, 2014
Hi John, I write a blog for our online research panel, showing results of recent polls we've done. I've done several polls recently that relate to things you've covered on your website, and thought you might be interested in having a look.
I wrote a short one yesterday on chemtrails & the moon landing — I did a poll on how many people thought these conspiracies were likely:
I've also done several on evolution and religion:
Also, a favourite of mine — homeopathy:
All these are based on polls conducted by UMR Research over the last few years. Sample sizes vary because they've been in different surveys, but they're all based on representative samples of adult NZers.
Thought you might be interested.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Mar, 2014
Thanks for those poll results Gavin. It's always fascinating to get an insight into what others believe, especially as many of these sceptical topics fly under the radar so to speak. You can work with people who have polar opposite views and often not realise it, sometimes assuming that most people think as you do. It can be quite revealing that sometimes a considerable proportion of society holds what I would see as medieval views.
Comment by Doug, 02 Apr, 2014
Dear John. You may want to look at this article — Waterloo School in Lower Hutt is offering Echinacea and multivitamins to staff who don't want a flu vaccine shot. The DomPost did get a quote from some Prof saying that there is no evidence that they are effective but did not comment further.
I am a secondary school teacher these days (science) and we are appalled at the lack of science and poor maths skills of kids coming from our primary schools and intermediates. We think that the problem is that the people who go into primary teaching these days are almost always those averse to science and maths, and certainly not confident in these subjects. There needs to be a change in selection of suitable candidates for courses and teaching positions so that we get teachers competent in these subjects, not those who avoid them. Then perhaps we will not get such outcomes as thinking that hocus-pocus treatments not backed up by scientific evidence is in any way a substitute for evidence-based treatments and preventative measures.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 03 Apr, 2014
Thanks for your comments Doug. I agree, there is no good evidence that Echinacea can prevent the flu or treat its symptoms. And I think it needs to be highlighted that generally when Echinacea is mentioned, it is for reducing the symptoms of colds, not the flu, and not for preventing the flu in the first place, which is what the flu vaccine is trying to achieve. Echinacea (or multivitamins) is not an alternative to the flu vaccine. Even if it worked you would still be off work with the flu, but maybe not for as long, and still able to pass it on to others. The DomPost article reads as if those taking Echinacea believe it is as good as and probably much better at keeping the flu at bay as the flu vaccination. This article, and this one and this one all say different. And why stop at offering herbs and vitamins, why aren't Wellington schools and businesses offering prayers and holy water from priests and charms to ward of evil from witches? Why stop at one version of nonsense? And as Otago University professor Michael Baker noted in the article, 'There are still 400 people in New Zealand dying each year from influenza . . . so we're not dealing with a trivial illness'. That's more deaths than our road toll (254 died in 2013). Imagine if schools and companies offered their staff 'lucky hats' as an alternative to seatbelts for those that wanted a choice while driving.
As for your reason why some teachers might be willing to embrace such nonsense, I suspect you could be right. I don't know any primary teachers but I've met a lot of people of late in different spheres who were averse to science and maths when one would have expected, because of their job, for them to have some knowledge and respect for science. I've said it before, I find it quite amazing to meet people who embrace society's complex technology while at the same time criticising and shunning the science that created it. People who rubbish science should have their smart phones and Internet connections taken away from them, and be refused admission to hospitals full of modern diagnostic machines and drugs.
Comment by Mikaere, 04 Apr, 2014
Hi John. The advisory services for primary teachers were decimated a few years ago. The government's focus is on numeracy and literacy with limited professional learning for the rest of the curriculum. The lack of teachers' understanding of science has been noted but politicians are concerned mainly with other matters and there is a real danger of further narrowing of the curriculum. New initiatives such as charter schools, where teachers need not be registered, does not suggest any improvement in scientific understanding in the near future.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 04 Apr, 2014
Thanks Mikaere. The future doesn't look too bright for science education.
Comment by Ben, 20 Apr, 2014
Would be interested in your thoughts on this piece.
Five myths about Easter
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 21 Apr, 2014
From my perspective, of the five 'myths' about Easter, only No. 2 is a myth, and only the first has any real importance.
Myth 1: 'Jesus didn't literally rise from the dead'. Not surprisingly I disagree with the article's author, a Jesuit priest, since I agree with this common claim, Jesus did NOT rise from the dead, literally or metaphorically. Did he not get the memo?
Myth 2: 'After the resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Saint Peter'. The gospels aren't consistent as to who first saw Jesus, usually Mary and others or maybe not, but none say it was Peter. Only ignorant Christians would believe it was Peter, and non-believers don't care.
Myth 3: 'Lent is all about sacrifice'. The author reckons that 'Lent is about spiritual preparation; sacrifice is simply a means to that end'. My dictionary says that Lent is 'the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday until Easter observed by Christians as a season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter'. Sounds like sacrifice to me, that fasting and penitence are required to prepare me to spend four days away from work and eat lots of chocolate. And seriously, how many Christians still do this? It just sounds like Muslims and their silly Ramadan fasting. For most people these days Easter is all about the Easter Bunny, which while untrue of course, kids quickly outgrow, which is more than can be said for the psychological damage done by graphic stories of the suffering and death of a Jewish carpenter who thought he heard voices.
Myth 4: 'Easter eggs have nothing to do with Easter'. This is true, it isn't a myth. Of course eggs have been hijacked for the Christian story, just as the pagan celebration at the winter solstice was hijacked for Christmas, but the pagans used eggs to symbolise rebirth and new life long before Christians. You won't find mention of eggs or even the name Easter in the Bible, which comes from a pagan goddess. What's next, they're going to claim Xmas cards and Xmas trees?
Myth 5: 'Easter is not as important as Christmas'. Again true, not a myth. Perhaps Christians might disagree, but since we atheists experience Easter and Christmas as well as them, Xmas is more important to me. Much longer holidays, better weather, presents, more parties etc. No wonder Christians are confused about this, they look at the day that their friend and cult leader was tortured, killed and taken from them and said, Let's call it a Good Friday.
Arguing that that Easter is more important, the priest says that 'the resurrection changes everything: It's a reminder not just that Jesus rose from the dead but that love is stronger than hatred, that hope is stronger than despair, and that life is stronger than death. More simply, it reminds us that nothing is impossible with God'. To me this is all nonsense. How does reliving the torture and slaughter of Jesus remind me that 'love is stronger than hatred'? How does reliving Jesus pleading to be saved on the cross, a hope that fails to materialise, remind me that 'hope is stronger than despair', and how does reliving the scene of Jesus dying on the cross remind me that 'life is stronger than death'? Has he not seen Mel Gibson's movie 'The Passion of the Christ'? And worse still, how does understanding that God had to torture and slaughter his innocent son in order to forgive my sins remind me 'that nothing is impossible with God'? Seemingly simply forgiving my sins, as I can forgive the sins of others, was something impossible for God to do. It aggrieves me that God felt he had to kill someone, and not humanely, but horrifically, in a futile attempt to get me to worship him. Jesus died for nothing, since I don't believe, and worse still, God knew I wouldn't believe, knew that his son's death would be for naught, but killed him anyway. By my reckoning, nothing but a monster. Thankfully we're discussing fiction so no real people were harmed.
This is all rather depressing, but luckily I still have some chocolate Easter eggs left. Unlike Jesus, thankfully the bunny does return each year. He's not too busy like some.
Comment by Anonymous-12, 22 Apr, 2014
You surprise me!!
Comment by Bob, 30 Apr, 2014
The rush by the Catholic Church to create two new saints out of recent popes is unprecedented. When I went to Catholic schools so long ago I was told it took hundreds of years for the canonisation process to conclude. Suddenly saints can be created in just a few years. Not only that but saints had to have two miracles under their belts. Suddenly once again a pope can be turned into a saint with only one miracle. I wonder why these miracles have not made headlines around the world. Surely the medical profession would be extremely interested in spontaneous cures. But the only mention is in articles reporting what Catholics believe. The medical profession as a whole seems to be underwhelmed.
What does it mean? Well I am cynical. I think it is a publicity stunt to take peoples' minds off the child abuse scandals. It's also a hope it might influence all those Catholics leaving the Church mainly in Europe to reconsider. Adolph Hitler knew the value of public spectacles so does the Church. To my mind the parading of the Pope and his veneration seem out of line with the humility Christians are supposed to observe. He is wheeled out to parade in front of the Vatican and sent to other countries with big fanfares.
Now the present pope is slowly altering solid longstanding rules. He thinks it is all right for divorced people to receive communion. Previously this has always been a no-no. I think he is smart enough to realise the Church is getting out of line with modern thinking. I was surprised to see a Catholic article which said that while abortion is still forbidden it can be carried out to save the mother's life. Previously this has not been the case. Where it was a question of the mother's life or the baby's the baby came first. The principle behind this is that the mother has been baptised and can go to heaven but the baby can't. Allowing the mother to die while saving the baby gives time for the baby to be baptised. I suspect the death of that lady in Ireland refused an abortion and it's subsequent bad publicity has had a lot to do with it.
In spite of the number of followers the Catholic Church has the Church hierarchy know they are becoming less and less relevant. They realise their survival depends on change.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Apr, 2014
I agree wholeheartedly with all your comments Bob. I can't believe that the Vatican thinks that intelligent people, and that includes many Catholics, still swallow this miracle nonsense. I'm reading 'Ideas That Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century' by A. C. Grayling at the moment and in his section on Christianity, the resurrection and miracles etc, he notes, 'That such things can still be seriously stated, let alone believed, explains David Hume's wry remark that it is not true that miracles died out with the first army of the faithful; for this is miracle enough'. To me, the Vatican saying that they have evidence of modern miracles, but refuse to produce that evidence, is as ridiculous as my neighbour saying he has an invisible dragon in his garage. How stupid do they think we are? Apparently they don't care, as long as the moronic faithful fall to their knees and believe. And yes, it is all a PR exercise to divert our attention from the priests that are still abusing children and still being hidden if they are discovered. As for the present pope altering the rules and changing how the Catholic Church reacts to modern morals, they are doomed whether this works or not. Blindly sticking to their ancient, unjust and immoral traditions will see Catholics desert the church, but ridding themselves of these traditions and adapting humanistic ethics will mean that the church is irrelevant, no different to some secular organisation, either way the Catholic Church will fade into a minor cult. Since Pope Francis has already said that good atheists will go to Heaven, why should I bother joining the Catholic Church? They are superfluous. I get to go to Heaven while not having to waste Sundays in church. It's win win.
Comment by Bob, 06 May, 2014
I am just adding a comment on my post regarding saint creations. I was reading Bob Jones' column in this morning's Herald. He is always good for a humorous off beat comment on such nonsense. Apparently I missed the point that while one woman with a brain tumor prayed to the Pope the other simply stared at his photo. Bob suggests all hospital patients be sent home with a picture of the dead Pope and the hospitals closed. As silly as it seems this is the logical outcome of the claims. Why should it be only two miracles? Why can't a million people be cured of serious diseases?
By the same token the record of cures at the Lourdes shrine is abysmal. There have been 68 confirmed miracle cures there since 1858. That in spite of the fact that a million or so people go there every year. There are many more unexplained recoveries from serious illness in conventional hospitals. That is due to the amazing capacity of the human body to heal itself. When I see videos of paralysed and very sick people being wheeled on trolleys at Lourdes to get a sprinkle of the holy water I feel sorry for them knowing they are wasting their time.
While I am at it I recommend a video on YouTube -
While I know the Vatican is a very wealthy institution I was surprised at the level of opulence. It reminds me more of the Russian tsars than Jesus Christ.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 06 May, 2014
Exactly Bob, if miracles worked, and there was an all-loving, all-powerful sky fairy dishing them out, we wouldn't need hospitals, and in fact we wouldn't need miracles either, since disease wouldn't afflict us in the first place. After all, why would an all-loving god create malaria, cancer and Ebola? As for Lourdes, to be completely accurate there haven't been ANY confirmed miracles, as I'm sure you will agree. For the Vatican to affirm that they have confirmed that 68 miracles did occur is as meaningless and na´ve as a child insisting that his toys definitely came from Santa Claus. And again, why would an all-loving, all-powerful god insist that if you're dying then you have to come to him to be cured, or at least be considered for a cure, and his only clinic is in France. Geez, do these people not have a skeptical bone in their body?
Comment by Ray, 23 Jun, 2014
Hi John, I have a strong opinion against the teaching of religion in schools (or anywhere) — get 'em while they're young and you can bend their brains to suit.
Tony Abbott spends millions to push God in schools
I am an artist and would like to illustrate a childrens book of bible stories. Where Cliff Richard has picked out the 50 nice parts of the bible, mine would feature the not so nice parts eg. when god has the villages stone a man to death for the heinous crime of working on the sabbath (he was picking up sticks for a fire). Incidentally why only this man living in the middle east when there must have been thousands of others doing the same thing in China say or South America at the same time or now?
I am no bible scholar or wordsmith but would like to correspond with someone who is that you might know of to help me with this project. I think that if my booklet was done in a realistic style it would have more plausibility than Cliffy's frivolous style.
An aside — I recently had 2 Mormons come to my door. I'm always polite because they mean well but they have been brainwashed but I said that they are only Mormans (they were from Utah) because of what they have been brought up with, the response was — no no we are free to make up our own minds. My reply was — so if your parents were Hindus and they brought you up in the Hindu religion you would still be Mormon's?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 24 Jun, 2014
Hi Ray, thanks for the link to that Tony Abbott article, where it notes that 'The prime minister has allocated $226 million for more chaplains, all while slashing his country's education budget'. These bastards just don't know how to keep their fairies in their churches and out of the schools.
I like the idea of a children's book of bible stories if it would feature the 'the not so nice parts', unfortunately I fear you would have trouble finding a publisher, and even then, your market would be extremely limited. Only devout Christians with young kids would buy a children's book of bible stories, and not a single one would buy one that exposed their kids to the very stories in the Bible that they go to great lengths to hide. I've read some adult books that reveal the suppressed stories of the Bible, written by non-Christians of course, but even those have a very small market and most people simply aren't interested in reading them. If non-Christian parents aren't interested, they're unlikely to buy a child's version for their kids.
Comment by mike, 04 Sep, 2014
Hi John, not sure if you've ever wasted your time with these nutjobs, but check this out
Apparently the school shootings and Boston Marathon Bombing and of course 9/11 are all faked. False flags they call them.
I read it with a mix of humour and horror that people could be so paranoid and stupid, and have so little concept of what evidence actually means. The 4 women they claim are all the same person are so obviously not that it hurts my head that they believe this rubbish.
It's harmless, but it is frightening that these people are out there and can vote, drive, breed...
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 Sep, 2014
Hi Mike. Yes I've heard of this false flag notion, especially in connection with 9/11, that the US government was the real culprit behind these attacks, but not that the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing were false flag events. But this is not surprising, there is only so much time in my day and so much nonsense out there.
For those not familiar with the false flag notion bandied about by conspiracy theorists, here is a good definition from the wiseGEEk site:
'A false flag operation is any procedure which is carried out by an organization and deceitfully designed to seem as though it has been orchestrated by another entity. The false flag operation gets its name from the military practice of flying another country's flag for the purpose of deceiving one's enemies. False flag operations often precede war, and are sometimes carried out for the express purpose of creating the illusion of an outside attack which warrants retaliation.'
I read on one site a conspiracy theorist claiming that 'The 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a false flag operation, which was conducted to promote an anti-gun agenda, and no children died'. Claiming to be a 'professor emeritus', of what we weren't told, he went on to say that the shooting hoax 'is disgusting and it's part and parcel of an agenda of deception and disinformation by the Obama administration where the Sandy Hook has been used to subvert the Second Amendment'. However I found a much more intelligent comment on the Wikipedia page 'Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting conspiracy theories', which argued that 'The conspiracy theories have also been called evidence of "the need for a national debate on mental illness".' Also, Benjamin Radford's article 'Why Sandy Hook Massacre Spawned Conspiracy Theories' is definitely worth a read. The Snopes site also has pages on both the 'Boston Marathon Bombing Rumors' and the 'Sandy Hook Rumors'.
I notice on the site you linked to Mike that the moron claimed that these false flag events are created to serve the 'specific agenda of TPTB'. Again, for those not versed in conspiracy theories, TPTB is shorthand for 'The Powers That Be', and this can refer to anyone from a government you don't like or trust to any one of numerous evil, secret and powerful groups bent on our destruction, most of which don't actually exist outside the conspiracy theorists' paranoia, such as a secret world government with their black helicopters, evil aliens, groups such as the Freemasons, Jews or Illuminati, or maybe even the Boys Scouts.
Like me Mike, you wonder how people can 'be so paranoid and stupid... that they believe this rubbish'. You then add, 'It's harmless, but it is frightening that these people are out there and can vote, drive, breed...' Unfortunately, because they can and do vote for both local and central government, they can do real harm by voting against policies for scientific progress, such as stem cell research and space exploration, and voting for their fellow idiots, such as Conservative Party leader Colin Craig who sides with conspiracy theories such as chemtrails and the Moon landing hoax. Conspiracy theorists are just as harmful to progress as are religious fundamentalists, since they both fight for an imaginary world at the expense of reality. They are holding us back, and every person they sway to their silly beliefs, whether it's their kids, neighbours or work colleagues, is another person that would prefer we live in a modern dark ages where ignorance rules.
Comment by Robert, 22 Sep, 2014
Hello John, I've just finished reading your response to a comment about the Sandy Hook school shooting, and as far as I'm concerned it confirms once and for all that what passes for critical thinking in your mind, is in reality some of the faultiest "logic" I've ever seen.
So, according to you and the other "geniuses" on the silly beliefs team, anyone who doesn't automatically accept the drivel that passes for TV "news" is a "paranoid moron", right?
Well, in fact, a true skeptic would never just believe whatever they see on the idiot box we call television, so why do supposed debunkers of silly beliefs accept the official version of what allegedly happened at Sandy Hook elementary school? How much do you actually know about Sandy Hook? Are you aware that NONE of the parents were allowed to identify the bodies of their supposedly murdered children? I don't know if you have children, but I do, and there's absolutely no way I would accept that my daughter had been shot dead if the "authorities" wouldn't allow me to view her body.
And did you know that when the official report was released, virtually all of it was redacted? Every single crime scene was redacted and virtually all information about the alleged shooter was redacted. If this was areal active shooter mass murder, what is there to hide?
I could go on, but since you haven't responded to my last 2 emails I think it would probably be a waste of time. Anyway, if you would like to have a real conversation with a true skeptic, please let me know and I will be happy to throw down with you.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 29 Sep, 2014
You start Robert by saying that my comments on Sandy Hook is 'some of the faultiest "logic" I've ever seen'. You then assert that I believe that 'anyone who doesn't automatically accept the drivel that passes for TV "news" is a "paranoid moron"'. Since I don't believe this at all, could you please point to where I made this claim or implication?
So let's look at my so-called faulty logic. Regarding Sandy Hook there is of course the official version and the conspiracy theory version. If you re-read my previous comment you will learn that the conspiracy theory version is that 'The 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a false flag operation, which was conducted to promote an anti-gun agenda, and no children died'. Since according to this theory 'no children died' then logically there would be no parents wanting to identify children that weren't dead. If real parents were missing their children then clearly children had died. It wouldn't matter if the children had been shot by deranged killer Adam Lanza or a Black Ops soldier in the secret employ of the government. Either way they would be dead and the parents wouldn't be able to tell who killed them, so there would be no need to hide the bodies. If there was something to hide over how they died, then the government could have just exploded a bomb, blaming it on Lanza, and claimed that all the bodies were burned beyond recognition. Remember that you turkeys claim that this was all a well-planned conspiracy by highly trained professionals so the 'official' report should have answered all the right questions.
You ask, 'If this was areal active shooter mass murder, what is there to hide?' You seem to accept the conspiracy theory that no one died, it was all a hoax. So why don't the Sandy Hook teachers and parents go public with the cry that no teachers or school children are missing? What is the media talking about? There was no shooting, everyone is safe and well! Although you seem to be stuck between the official version and the conspiracy theory version, you seem to imply that children are indeed missing, parents are looking for answers, but that they weren't killed by a deranged killer. So where do you think the children are Robert? Have the government stuck them in a dang prison in Iraq? Just as 9/11 conspiracy theorists won't explain what the government has done with all the passengers taken off the planes before they crashed them into buildings, why won't you explain what the government has done with the children?
You also say that 'virtually all information about the alleged shooter was redacted', which is rather strange since we in NZ saw a lot of information about the alleged shooter, his name was definitely Adam Lanza in case you didn't know. Perhaps you should try watching 'the drivel that passes for TV "news"'.
As to the delay in responding to your other questions, I advised you that I would need time to do some research. You also may not be aware that answering email queries about silly beliefs is not the top priority in my life.
Comment by mike, 02 Oct, 2014
John, this link may address some of Robert's questions: Sandy Hook Exposed
I concede i am happy to accept the broad content on news reports, but I also read source documents if I find the story interesting. My default isn't "it's a government plot to (insert issue of the day here)" and I'm glad of that. What a miserable existence if your natural instinct was suspicion of every single issue.
These nutjobs on the conspiracy theory sites don't have the first clue about the onus of proof and have little grasp of the difference between innuendo and evidence.
I say it all the time but the reason most conspiracy theories and theorists sound daft is because they are daft.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 03 Oct, 2014
Thanks for the link Mike, very informative, but like you I fear it won't create any doubt in the minds of conspiracy buffs. By coincidence I just this very moment read the following apt quotation:
'A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.'
— LEON FESTINGER, et al., When Prophecy Fails (1956)
Comment by Anonymous in Pakistan, 09 Feb, 2015
Hi John. I have to admit to being a bit of a coward when working in Muslim countries. When I am asked what religion I am (and for some reason everyone wants to know, especially the authorities) I don't write atheist. People seem threatened by the term atheist. In Saudi where I was working a few years back, they declared that atheists are terrorists. While the people I work with here are very friendly and rational and know me well, there are some I would not want to test. People can do funny things. So when I am asked, I give the answer "none". (which I suspect is more correct anyway, given that atheism is not a religion). Anyway yesterday I was talking to a local (who didn't speak much English but was determined to try) and was asked the usual question "are you Christian" and I said "no" so he asked "are you Muslim" and again I said "no". So he was a bit taken aback and asked what religion am I then and I said "none". He couldn't understand the answer, I had to repeat it a couple of times. Then he got it. "Ah Independent". I thought that was rather good. I might write that on forms in the future.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 09 Feb, 2015, 2014
Well I wouldn't describe your reluctance to advertise your atheism in Muslim countries as cowardice, more like intelligent self-preservation. It's like sneaking past a hungry polar bear, only a fool would advertise their presence. I've also worked in a couple of Muslim countries, but that was in the 90s and before 9/11, so Muslim radicals weren't quite as confident then, but I was still advised not to discuss religion (and a raft of other things). The authorities never asked about my beliefs, but as you say, locals that I worked with often asked, and those that didn't probably just assumed that since I clearly wasn't a Muslim that I was a Christian. When quizzed I don't think I ever described myself as an atheist, but merely said that I didn't believe in god. You're right that many people hate the label atheist, even some atheists, but I avoided it because I wasn't even sure they would know what an atheist was. When I have used the label in NZ, I've even had Mormons ask, 'So what god do atheists believe in?', and a supermarket checkout woman asked me last year, on seeing my 'Born Again Atheist' badge, what religion it was. Luckily the people I worked with overseas were educated and friendly, and none seemed to care that I didn't believe in a god, and while all called themselves Muslims, I sensed that they were about as committed to their belief as most Christians are in NZ. That is, they went to the mosque on Fridays and wore the appropriate clothing, but they were often just keeping up appearances. Their personal lives and views revealed people far more committed to a secular life than a religious one. Some of the men told me they drunk alcohol, gambled and used prostitutes when they travelled to Western countries for work training, and the women in one office I worked in all stripped out of their head to toe coverings to reveal skimpy tops and short skirts when I was the only male in the office. They all complained about how hot it was to wear such clothing. They didn't think I would be offended by their bodies, they wore the coats and head coverings because their men and the law made them, not because of what the Koran said. We discussed religion and I never felt uncomfortable, but I certainly saw people on the street that I wouldn't want to talk religion with, and I was very careful to avoid attracting their attention.
Unfortunately today it's not just Muslim countries where one has to be careful with expressing views on religion. I wear my 'Born Again Atheist' badge everywhere I go in NZ and Australia, and comments are over 90% supportive, and even people that disagree have never been threatening. But I've never worn it in the USA or Europe, let alone Muslim countries. While there are definitely many in the USA and Europe that would love my badge, I know because tourists in NZ have told me, there are also many that would take great offence. Since I'm unable to tell them apart, when overseas I choose to fly under the radar when it comes to my atheism. After all, I don't travel to promote atheism, I'm not like Mormons and other Christian missionaries that travel the world to convert people to my way of thinking. If I meet people I think I can trust and the talk turns to gods, I will reveal my views, but until then I will be wary. NZ is a wonderful place to be an atheist, I can be open with my disbelief and even giggle at religious people on the street, but other countries, especially non-Western countries, often have laws and customs that I would consider unjust and draconian, but breaking these laws and customs would see me arrested in a flash, or perhaps even attacked and killed. I am not a martyr for the atheism cause. As the saying goes, When in Rome...
Comment by Ron, 12 Mar, 2015
Hi John. Appears you are vindicated with your past comments on the ineffectiveness of homeopathic remedies. Have just read a report where scientists have come out, not for the first I'm sure, saying these remedies are ineffective and do not improve health. Seems to be Australian based. Sales in 2009 hit $7.3 million there. A surprising figure but small really, in a country of 20 million. Naturally the Australian Homeopathic Association are preparing a report in response. Homeopathic is very popular in Europe apparently.
I had one experience with homeopathic remedies about 20 yrs ago. I went through a bad patch with stress and overwork causing terrible problems. Sleep loss so bad I was getting 1-2 hrs nightly which made feel ill and forced me off work for 11 days.
An Indian lady doctor was highly recommended. She spent considerable time questioning and coming up with the right remedy and strength. As true as I sit here, the sleep issues were gone in 2 days and I felt reborn. In 2 weeks we left for a Gold Coast holiday and I was simply my normal self. That dreadful scenario that forced me to visit her, not my usual doctor, never returned. Naturally, I became a supporter and admit I was annoyed when reading your comments. Since then I've read much more and am unsure now.
What happened 20 yrs ago. Did the remedy trigger my body's healing powers to then heal itself? Was my body co-incidentally ready to heal itself at that time anyway? I'm open-minded enough to admit I probably will never truly know the answer.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Mar, 2015
Hi Ron. What happened 20 yrs ago? You're right, we'll never know, but you won't be surprised when I say doubt that you received a homeopathic cure. My guess is placebo. The reality is that the body will heal itself given time from all manner of aliments. You said you'd been going through a bad patch, so perhaps the body was already on the cusp of recovery. Often people only seek treatment when symptoms get worse, perhaps just before a fever breaks, and then they falsely connect a recovery that would have happened regardless on the chicken soup that granny brought around. Having suffered for some time already, had you already been to your usual doctor, and did he give you anything or suggest any lifestyle changes that might have brought about a cure? If you hadn't consulted your doctor, then was it all that serious?
You said that you felt that your problems were caused by 'stress and overwork', but if this was your diagnosis and not a doctor's was this the real cause? Maybe you had some undiagnosed virus that eventually cleared up? On the other hand, if it was really 'stress and overwork' causing your health woes, you said that you were 'forced... off work for 11 days'. Thus the 'stress and overwork' would have disappeared, or at least vastly reduced, and with the cause gone you would have started to recover. No work means no overwork. I suspect that by the time you went to the homeopath your body was starting to win the battle and was beginning to bounce back to normal health. This was coupled with the placebo effect caused by someone no doubt telling you that you would soon be better.
So yes, I suspect it was all a coincidence. I simply don't believe that homeopathy can cure anything, firstly because it is just water, and secondly because there is no evidence that it ever has. And it would be so easy to prove their cures. Recently we had a NZ politician who believed in homeopathy suggest that we use it to combat the Ebola threat. And they claim to have cures to numerous other terrible diseases as well, so why do we still have these diseases? Modern medicine has eradicated smallpox and is close to eradicating polio, so why is there no list of diseases homeopathy has eradicated? If they had a homeopathic potion for Ebola as claimed (well of course they have one, but I mean one that works), then it would be so simple to prove it. But none of them can be bothered to take their cures to where they are desperately needed. And it can't be because Ebola outbreaks are dangerous places, because what does that matter? They have the cure!
Then we have their silly explanations of how they make their potions and why they work, that even though they are unimaginably dilute, water has a memory of everything it has ever come in contact with. But if this were true then the water also has a memory of the bacterium that causes cholera, and untold other diseases, and not just the water in their potions, but all the water that you and I drink. We're drinking water that the dinosaurs once passed as urine, the entire planet should be dead by now.
Some books that have sections exposing homeopathy that I would recommend (check your library) are:
'Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial' by Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst
'Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks' by Ben Goldacre
'Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All' by Rose Shapiro
'Complementary Therapies for Cancer: What works, what doesn't... and how to tell the difference' by Shaun Holt
Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science' by Robert L. Park
Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud' by Robert Park
The March of Unreason: Science, Democracy, and the New Fundamentalism' by Dick Taverne
I'll finish by quoting from the conclusion of the homeopathy chapter from 'Trick or Treatment?:
'It has taken several thousand words to review the history of homeopathy and to survey the various attempts to test its efficacy, but the conclusion is simple: hundreds of trials have failed to deliver significant or convincing evidence to support the use of homeopathy for the treatment of any particular ailment. On the contrary, it would be fair to say that there is a mountain of evidence to suggest that homeopathic remedies simply do not work. This should not be such a surprising conclusion when we recall that they typically do not contain a single molecule of any active ingredient.
This raises an interesting question: with no evidence that it works and with no reason why it ought to work, why is it that homeopathy has grown so rapidly over the last decade into a multi-billion-dollar global industry? Why do so many people think that homeopathy works, when the evidence, frankly, shows that it does not?
One problem is that the public are unaware of the vast body of research that undermines homeopathy... Worse still, the public can be misled by news stories that show homeopathy in an unjustifiably sympathetic light...
And it needs to noted that one of the authors, Edzard Ernst, is both a professor of medicine and a trained homeopathic practitioner.
We suggest that... based on examining all the reliable evidence ...the evidence suggests that homeopathy acts as nothing more than a placebo. For this reason, we strongly advise you to avoid homeopathic remedies if you are looking for a medicine that is more than just make-believe.'
Comment by Patrick, 13 Mar, 2015
Should we prosecute God? He is supposed to be able to do everything, but never does anything to help people in danger, people suffering etc. Some might say that I am wrong and that God does actually help people a lot with miracles happening every day, but what are these miracles actually ? What do they consist of ? We know that in most cases these supposed miracles are just bullshit (Lies, gross exaggeration of what really happened, pure coincidence, etc). Speaking about pure coincidence, I remember that one of my teachers (I was still a child then) used to boast about the eruption of a volcano, it's lava destroying everything on it's way and God finally performing a miracle and stopping the lava just in front of the church. If this really happened like that, okay, fair enough, but what about that much talked about (it was in all the local media) lightning hitting a church's roof some years later??
To return back to our main subject, let's suppose that in a few cases, science cannot explain how someone get cured, should we therefore speak of miracles? In some circles that's actually the case and, what cannot be explained automatically equates to divine intervention. But let's say (and I really mean let's say) that miracles do happen, then I would like to know why, for example, I have never heard of mutilated persons having their legs or hands restored miraculously, obese sick people loosing their life-threatening extra weight overnight, etc .
I don't know if there is a general legal duty to rescue (or render assistance to) a person whose life or safety is endangered in all countries, but I know that it's the case in several countries. So yes, God can and should definitely be prosecuted.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 13 Mar, 2015
Hi Patrick. Should we prosecute God? Well I think we're getting ahead of ourselves here. First it needs to be proven that this god actually exists, otherwise we'll have kids prosecuting Santa for not bringing that promised iPad, and I think I might have good case against the Easter Bunny.
As you say, of course all supposed miracles are bullshit. They are claimed by superstitious people ignorant of how the world works. It's sad really, especially when there's no need for them to emulate medieval peasants. Read a book moron! (Not the Bible or Koran though.) Childish stories like the lava one are really only for small gullible children, although adults believe it too. Clearly God forgot in the devastating earthquakes experienced by Christchurch (and elsewhere) that he was supposed to stop at all the churches. Oops!
As for lightning striking churches, this was actually a very common occurrence in the past, and it's why lightning rods were invented in the first place, since tall buildings, eg church spires, were being hit, catching fire and burning down. If anything, this would suggest that god has a problem with churches.
You wonder, 'in a few cases science cannot explain how someone get cured, should we therefore speak of miracles? No of course not, we should merely speak of unknowns. We haven't really said that science cannot explain some recovery, all we've said is that science hasn't yet explained the recovery. Centuries ago we didn't even know why people really got sick let alone why they recovered. Hint, it had nothing to do with offending some god.
But let's remember that those that thank god for healing them must also acknowledge that god gave them the disease in the first place. For every person god chooses to save with a miracle, he turns a blind eye to a million others suffering from an illness he inflicted upon them. I remember a year or so ago a hurricane struck in the US and killed many people, but a baby was found alive in among the dead, tossed some hundred metres from her home. On TV the religious nutters screamed, 'It's a miracle, thank you Jesus'. A couple of days later the baby died from its injuries. So yes Patrick, if there were a god, he would need to be hunted down like a vicious animal and his reign of terror brought to an end. All the evil that has been committed by man over all time pales into insignificance compared to god's crimes.
Luckily he doesn't exist, and we can concentrate on prosecuting real people committing real crimes. And on a lighter note, have you seen the comedy movie 'The Man Who Sued God' starring Billy Connolly?
Comment by David, 15 Mar, 2015
I was in the Philippines just after the devastating cyclone, and the news was showing a group of church officials inspecting all the ruined churches. Most of the ruins were churches. You would have thought there might be a message there somewhere. But they were determined to rebuild them as a demonstration of their
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 16 Mar, 2015
Hi David. This blind refusal to consider the bigger picture — where was god in our hour of need? — has always confounded me. Surely these disasters and their ruined churches must introduce some worrying doubts and cause more than just a few sleepless nights? Their god hasn't protected their churches this time, or the last time, why would they think he will protect them next time? As you say, stupidity!
Comment by Monica, 02 Apr, 2015
Hello John, I recently worked on a video that scientifically explains how vaccines work:
Would you mind sharing it on social media? I would much appreciate it.
Comment by Ron, 17 Apr, 2015
Hi John. You may have caught up with a recent story out of Texas regarding the death of a 2 yr old boy at the hands of complete religious nutcases. Namely his parents and so called pastors at a suburban "church" run from the home of a woman, now in custody. The poor kid was starved to death over 25 days because he was believed to be possessed by a demon, which was to be got rid of. I realise you have written about similar absurdities in the past but this one upsets me a great deal. What is really bizarre is this woman "pastor", who is seen by many as a "prophet" and obviously thinks she is another god, actually held a resurrection ceremony called "the rising" the day after the boy died, to revive him. Can you believe this? The mother was asked why she was allowing the boy to starve like that. Her answer? You guessed it. "Gods will". A church member saw the boy fall and hit his head several times as he was so frail and weak but did not help because of his "possession". Pastors scolded a woman who tried to feed him.
Call me na´ve, but I cannot get a handle on this sort of weird evil still taking place in 2015 in a first world country like the USA. Though I believe most involved were Mexican. I don't, for one second believe that boy was possessed by a demon. The only evil devils in this sad case appear to be the adults that were in the short sad little life of that unfortunate boy. And gods will? I don't think so. You and I would say that god appears to be a nasty piece of work at times but why would he want to take a 2 yr old? His brain is not developed, he has no life experience yet, what possible use would he be in the kingdom? Where is the purpose? And in those long 25 days of just water why did no-one say "Stop. Enough of this stupid evil nonsense"? What a sad, sad story that makes me feel so angry. I cannot write any more.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 17 Apr, 2015
Hi Ron. No I hadn't come across that story of yet another unnecessary death at the hands of religious believers. That humans can act this way towards others, let alone helpless children, when in the thrall of some god once again demonstrates how dangerous it is to stop thinking and hand control over to primitive superstition.
Can I believe that these fools attempted a exorcism and held a resurrection ceremony to revive him? Yes I can, although your typical Christian will no doubt shake their head and ask, What were these people thinking? But the very basis of Christianity is the reality of resurrection, if Christians can't believe that God could revive a child, then why are they Christians? I'm continually surprised that Christians put all manner of constraints on what they think their God can do and might do. He's God for Christ's sake, he can do anything he wants, from saving lives to destroying cities with earthquakes. The Bible clearly talks of demon possession, with Jesus being quite adept at ridding people of them. If you believe in God and Jesus and the Bible, you MUST believe in the reality of demon possession. Christianity is not a 'do-it-yourself' religion where you get to pick the bits you like and can believe in, and lets you freely reject the rest as superstitious nonsense. The article I read said that, regarding the pastor, 'Members of the church believe Mrs. Meza can talk directly to God'. I know why I giggle when I read claims like this, but why do most Christian also shake their heads in disbelief? The Bible is full of people talking with God, and him talking back. Why is it now a sign, even with Christians, of someone that's delusional? Why won't Christians believe that God would actually talk with them anymore? Is he dead?
As distressing and disgusting as I find the acts of those Christians in killing that child, they were merely being true believers and you can't fault them for their sincerity and devotion to their god. That this unthinking devotion lead to misery and a suffering death is exactly what blind faith causes, and has caused since time immemorial. We have Christians in the US murdering abortion doctors and homosexuals, and the atrocities committed by Muslims are growing by the day. The only reason that we're not surrounded by death and despair is that the great majority of religious believers, thankfully, have let their humanity override their religion. While they don't see themselves as actively disobeying their god, that is in reality exactly what they're doing. So they refuse to perform exorcisms of demons as described in the Bible, or to kill homosexuals and disobedient child as commanded in the Bible. Every god believer bar the fundamentalists has redesigned their beliefs to fit in with their secular desires and lifestyle. We praise the religious that don't kill non-believers or harm their children as being good Christians, Jews and Muslims, when in fact we should praise them for being good citizens, since by not harming those of other religions they are being terrible Christians, Jews and Muslims. Apathy among most religious people is what keeps most societies civil, if religious people truly believed as they claim they do, then the world would be a war zone.
As for where this happened, the USA is a real contradiction. Over the entire world, as countries become more educated and secular they generally also become less religious. But not the USA, as a nation they are as religious as the likes of Iran and Afghanistan. A modern assault rifle in one hand and a primitive holy book in the other. And it's not just Mexican immigrants distorting the figures, Christian fundamentalists are in positions of power, from senators right through to President George Bush, both father and son. It was Bush Sen. who when he was president said he didn't think that atheists should be allowed to be American citizens.
Of course good religious people will ask how other religious folk could kill this child, why did no one sense that it had gone too far? But instead of wondering what was going on in that house, Christians should be wondering what was happening in the world in general. But unfortunately they're adverse to asking the hard questions. Hell, they won't even ask the easy questions! They'll say, The Christian god, my god, would never work like this, he's not into demon possession, well... not anymore. And that's where the thinking stops. But if this is true, then why didn't your god stop them, why didn't he intervene? Perhaps for the same reason the Tooth Fairy didn't intervene! If their god is real, then he knew what was happening, and let it continue. The religious need to start thinking, if my god is real, if he loves us and wants to help, is this what the world would look like? Would innocent children starve to death, would young girls be kidnapped in Nigeria, could a suicidal pilot fly a passenger plane into a mountain, would school kids be murdered in Pakistan, would thousands be killed in natural disasters? If my god is real then shouldn't I see evidence of his beneficence, of his good work as he intervenes in our lives? These questions live in worlds the religious never visit.
Of God, you ask, 'why would he want to take a 2 yr old?' But the reality is that, if real, then God takes babies, toddlers and young children every second of every day, although it's not usually in such torturous circumstances. This widespread belief that a death is 'God's will', if true, means that God has an insatiable need for dead humans, young and old. But as you say Ron, what possible need could an all-powerful god have for a 2 yr old, or any human for that matter? What could be the purpose? Even if God, like his priests, has a sexual proclivity for children, being all-powerful means he could just make as many as he wants, exact copies if he wants, he doesn't need to hunt and kill children on Earth to fuel his needs.
Unless God doesn't have a use for dead children at all, beyond using them as a tool on Earth. Perhaps God is a sick bastard that gets his jollies by watching children suffer as they die and watching their parents suffer and grieve afterwards. Let's remember that if God is real, then he was lounging on the sofa the entire time that the child took to die. And not only that, being God, he was in the child's mind experiencing every second of suffering as no parent ever could. And he did nothing. Nothing.
Of course along with the childish excuse — it's God's will — the religious also insist that God works in mysterious ways and his will is not for us to understand. This allows their God to commit the most cruel, senseless and atrocious acts imaginable and for his followers to accept that he must have a very good reason for acting like a demon rather than a loving god, a reason that we mere humans can't hope to understand. And their God has never even attempted to explain his actions, which in itself is rather strange. Shouldn't an all-powerful, all-knowing god, like a good teacher, be able to find a way to explain his actions, even in broad strokes? Why is this evidently beyond God's powers? If a human commits a mere fraction of the atrocities of the sort attributed to God, just one even, humans en masse demand they be restrained, that they face justice, and request an explanation for their action. And yet when God commits terrible acts, against which all human atrocities pale into insignificance, god believers wouldn't think of bringing him to justice or even questioning his motives, they simply go on with their subservient lives and say, I'm sure he had a good reason for acting as he did. That they'll let their god murder children and yet won't let me cheat on my taxes demonstrates that if there is any morality in their religion, it is a sick and depraved morality.
Comment by mike, 17 Apr, 2015
John, you'll be happy to know that the Federal Government here (Australia) has just announced a withdrawal of child care benefits and welfare payments for families who will not vaccinate their children. Exemptions will apply for those who for medical reasons are unable to vaccinate. There is some pressure to provide religious exemptions also, though this is unlikely to proceed as there are very few numbers in this category. Most mainstream religions aren't opposed to vaccination. The ones that are tend to be small and insular and not reliant on government benefits anyway.
There is the usual outcry from various groups who claim this is restricting the parents' right to choose. I see it as not restricting their right to choose at all, it is simply removing a government/taxpayer endorsement of their ill-informed choices. If they want to choose not to vaccinate they can but they will have to fund their lifestyle choices themselves.
It's a win for science and evidence based policy
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 17 Apr, 2015
Hi Mike. Yes I saw that on the TV News, followed by our government saying that they wouldn't be doing likewise. Our PM said people needed to be able to choose, as there was a risk involved with vaccination, which I thought was poorly worded and merely provided support for those against vaccination. Now the anti-vaccination movement can say that even the PM is saying that it's risky to vaccinate and is therefore hesitant to make it in anyway compulsory. Of course there is a risk of harm from a vaccine, but it is very small when compared to not getting vaccinated. There is a risk in everything we do, from getting out of bed to not getting of bed. And as you say, the right to choose to vaccinate or not is still there, there is merely an extra condition placed on receiving child care benefits and welfare payments. It's like people claiming that there is the condition that they can't get an unemployment benefit unless they actively look for work. But again they do have the choice, they can refuse the benefit.
And of course a real problem is that unvaccinated kids can avoid any illness (by sheer luck), so the parents feel validated, but their lack of vaccination can still allow epidemics to occur and others to suffer.
Perhaps in NZ people could refuse vaccination but would have to sign a wavier and liability forms, and if their kids contracted the specific disease and/or caused others to contract it, then they would have to meet all the financial costs involved in treating it, which could be enormous in an epidemic. It seems unfair that parents can be vociferous in refusing a hospital vaccination and then turn up and demand free treatment if their kids get sick. If they shun what modern medicine says is the best advice, then they shouldn't then run to doctors when their kids get a sniffle and a few spots.
Comment by Fermin, 20 Apr, 2015
Why do you not disclose your full names on your website If you are so valiant to post your beliefs?
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 20 Apr, 2015
Two main reasons really. One, as you said, it's about our beliefs, not about us per se. We want people to think about the silly beliefs we discuss, not about what we look like, where we live and how we could wear such a shirt in public.
Think of any comment we've made on our website, be it on gods or ghosts or aliens, how would the view expressed in that comment change if you suddenly realised that it was spoken not by someone called John in a place you've probably never heard of, but someone called John Johnson in a place you've probably never heard of? None of us are famous, we haven't written any books or been on TV. We're not claiming to be an authority because of some degree we might hold. How would knowing that my full name is John Johnson change anything? Look at people marching in protests worldwide, not one puts their name boldly above their message on the placard they're carrying. It's not that they're hiding their identity necessarily, but simply that their identity has no real relevance to the message they are delivering.
And even if we did provide our full names, with the Internet being what it is, you would have no way of knowing if our names, qualifications and experiences were actually real. But the one thing you can trust is the reasoning and logic of an argument, even from a faceless person. Whether delivered by an unqualified street cleaner or an over-qualified professor, an argument if found credible can change minds. An argument can be considered, its evidence verified, all without any need to know the pedigree of the person who presented it. I just fail to see how your knowing that my name is John Johnson somehow gives my comments more, or less, credibility.
The second reason we don't openly give out personal details is for reasons of security. Experts are continually advising Internet users that we shouldn't reveal identifying details online, since they can be misused, and we see no good reason to ignore their advice. We've already had a few people contact us asking for our names, addresses and/or phone numbers. And based on their earlier comments we doubt that they were simply wanting to send us money or a nice gift. There is a difference between valiantly expressing our beliefs and foolishly publishing our contact details. Think of these scenarios. I could say to someone, if you're so brave to intervene in a mugging of an old lady by some gang members, why aren't you brave enough to give the gang members your name and address so they know where to find you in case they want to later thank you for getting involved? If you're brave enough to criticise and condemn Islamists for their violent and murderous acts, why aren't you brave enough to tell them where you live? Of course you might argue that you're not asking for an address, merely a full name. Of course, thanks to the Internet, it only takes a few seconds to go from a name to an address.
The reality is that people that know us personally know of our connection with 'Silly Beliefs', it's no secret, and for the people that don't know us, whatever name was attached to our website would be meaningless to them. But if you think that changing 'John' to 'John Johnson' would somehow make an important difference, I'd love to hear your reason.
Comment by Ron, 21 Apr, 2015
Hello John. You kindly posted my comment dated March 12 re. an experience I had 20 yrs ago with a homeopathic product. It was to deal with diabolical sleep problems from a bad stress related episode. I mentioned an almost miraculous return to health in 2 days which prompted a strong faith and belief in homeopathy at that time. In recent yrs however I've wondered if it was my own amazing healing system that was simply ready. At the end of your astute reply you quoted some books as suggested reading. Subsequently, I had my library get one of those in for me called "Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial". A mind opening educational read that has completely turned me off homeopathy for the absolute multi million dollar con that it is. What really got me was the section dealing with dilutions. My "remedy" was 30c, a very common strength. Therefore, the original substance has been diluted by a factor of 1 followed by 60 zeros!!!! In other words it is unlikely to have a single molecule of the supposed active substance. It is just water. Useless. A 30ml bottle retails around $14 which surely must make it the most expensive water on the planet.To put it another way, to get 1 molecule out of a 30c remedy you would need a pill with a diameter equal to the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Incredibly, millions still spend millions on this totally ineffective, shambolic treatment. I do not handle jet-lag well at all and I often see a Homeopathic jet-lag remedy on sale at Christchurch Airport. With an upcoming trip to Asia on the cards I was intending to purchase, but not now. There are other ways to deal with the issue. In my defence, it was 20 yrs ago. I had no computer and did no research like google searches and I was desperate for any recommendation, in this case, from a doctor. Thanks John for steering me towards that book. I learnt a lot, and not just about Homeopathy.
Comment by Patrick, 30 Apr, 2015
Hi John, I was watching a documentary recently on Michelangelo. Need I say that I was impressed by his masterpieces? But I also noticed that most of his works was closely related to religion. Michelangelo's case is unfortunately far from being rare. If someone is interested in art, he or she will quickly notice the overwhelming predominance of religious pictures, sculptures, mosaics, embroidery, et cetera, amongst the masterpieces of past great artists.
I am disappointed to notice this, really disappointed. What was the interest to draw a virgin Mary painting that had already been drawn hundreds of times before? Or to carve a Jesus on the cross for the 10,000th time?? Just imagine all the fabulous art masterpieces that these geniuses could have offered us ... Instead of that we now have to contemplate brilliant, but at the same time habitual and boring things.
This tyranny has without any doubt crippled the imaginative creativity of these great artists and one can now only notice and regret this under achievement.
P.S. — The documentary on Michelangelo was far from a discovery for me. I've been lucky to travel to several countries and it was nothing more than a sad reminder.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 30 Apr, 2015
Hi Patrick. You're quite right, and of course I had noticed the depressing amount of boring religious art works in the world. If you've been to the Vatican to look at Michelangelo's painting in the Sistine Chapel, you'll know that you're forced to slowly pass through room after room full of religious paintings and statues, and if you're like me, by the time you get to the Sistine Chapel, frankly you're quite sick to death of religious paintings, and after a cursory glance, quickly look for an exit. There is no doubt that Michelangelo had much more skill with a brush and a chisel than I have, but that said, I still wouldn't want his artwork on my ceiling or his David statue in my garden. A realistic, life-size T-Rex, now that would be a different matter.
I can certainly appreciate the skill needed to create certain religious paintings and statues, but the works themselves don't speak to me I'm afraid. I can't think of one that I would want to own a copy of. Like you I've travelled a bit and every religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc. have untold examples of their religious art that they want to show visitors. Actually I've just thought of some religious art work I do like, the statues on temples in Khajuraho in India and the cave paintings from 10 to 30 thousand years ago. I'm one of those people that say, 'I don't know much about art, but I know what I like'.
But I hadn't considered what art creations the world might have missed out on, due to the best artists mostly being in the employ of some religion. Clearly we have lost something great that can never be regained. Some religious folk have said that it was only their connection with the divine that allowed these artists to create such masterpieces. Bullshit I say. If that were true, then only those artists belonging to the one true religion would have created great art, all the other religions would have created mediocre pieces since they had no divine inspiration, but that clearly isn't the case. All religions have examples of masterpieces. But without the influence of religion, clearly these talented and creative people would still have produced amazing art, no doubt getting their inspiration and motivation from the natural world rather than a fantasy one. Secularism hasn't seen great art disappear. As many have commented on, if we just consider Christianity, they effectively put progress on hold for a 1,000 years. Imagine the scientific and humanitarian progress that an extra 1,000 years could have given us, if the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans had been allowed to continue without pause. No doubt the same can be said for the amazing and unknown art that the world's religions prevented from ever being created. (Click on image.)
Related to all this, when atheists argue that due to untold atrocities the world would have been better without religion, the religious lament over all the religious art that would be lost to the world. But as I read someone respond to this view recently, how much is a painting worth in human suffering? Would we, should we, be willing for all the religious art to disappear from the world if that would also have prevented the unnecessary suffering and deaths of untold millions of people throughout history caused by the religions that commissioned that art? Who would argue that the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is worth 10 million deaths? What about 1 million, or 100,000 or even a hundred deaths? What decent person would accept the torture and murder of even one innocent person just so that the Vatican could get some nice pieces of art to hang on their walls? Yes, if religon had never been invented then we would lose untold pieces of religious art, but people get to live. Which is more important? Plus we wouldn't have lost the concept of art, merely the religious motivation for art.
And there is no doubt that millions upon millions of innocent people have suffered and died due to religion, and we can't change that, but personally I would sacrifice every piece of religious art work to a bonfire if it would prevent even some of the future deaths that will be caused by the religious.
Comment by Ted, 30 Apr, 2015
I find myself rejoicing that the phenomenon Patrick describes cannot hold music in its thrall. Music, at least the sort unassociated with words, is the one art that is completely abstract, on which the listener is at total liberty to impose whatever images and responses he wishes, either consciously or unconsciously. What the creator of a piece of music thought, what drove him to create, is purely anecdotal and about as significant as whether he had sausages for breakfast. Curiously, having never had the slightest interest in religion, for many years I fell foul of a peculiar converse associative trap. I read that composers such as Bach were very religious and overwhelmingly inspired by their religion, so I therefore rejected their music because I considered religion nonsense. Silly me. It wasn't until my fifties that I realised I could listen to the Well Tempered Clavier and enjoy it very much while imagining anything from galaxies to tadpoles.
Of course the trick cannot be applied if you really don't like the music for aural reasons. Messiaen was religiously inspired too but his stuff turns me right off musically. Like you, John, I recognise what I like and trust my intuitive response regardless of considerations of fame or popularity. I have never found reason to doubt this impulse, aside from the strictly educational. The ruse can be used for some literature too, particularly poetry, if it is sufficiently abstract, such as that of T.S. Eliot. He was very devout but his poetry has an abstract beauty quite beyond religion.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 01 May, 2015
Good point Ted, you can indeed listen to music without vocals, and if you haven't been told how you're supposed to feel, the effect of that music on you could well be radically different to what the composer intended. Religious thoughts that can be conveyed to others are probably quite difficult if not impossible to put to music. That said, I have also viewed paintings, both religious and secular, where I was ignorant of the artist's motivation or intent, and came away with impressions that I later discovered bore no resemblance to what the artists apparently intended. Is that a failure on the part of the artist, who often expects a certain prior knowledge from those who view his work, or simply that art and music can be experienced on many levels, many of which the artist would be oblivious to?
Comment by Ted, 01 May, 2015
Your question is often vigorously debated on the piano forums I frequent, John, and indeed among musicians I know personally. I take the minority position on it, believing music actually communicates nothing at all in itself, with meaning being imposed by the listening brain. But of course, if the listener has accumulated social, personal, historical and literary images and associations, then these will feature in his response. As a religious example, take Schubert's "Ave Maria", a melody of deep beauty which, like many children, I heard for the first time in Disney's "Fantasia", contrasted as it was, with Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain". Now suppose Disney had not announced that the pair depicted the "eternal struggle between the profane and the sacred". Indeed, suppose there had been no infernal or celestial imagery. Would these programmes have arisen spontaneously, in any listener, purely from the musical sound of the two works?
I don't claim to know the whole story, but I suggest not. One reason is that when we listen to music from other cultures, unless we are told in advance, we are completely clueless about meanings and traditions of this sort. I like Beijing Opera, guzheng music, Indian ragas and all sorts of world music very much, and a very elaborate network of meanings exists for their traditional programmes. But how could I possibly discern these from just listening ? Of course I couldn't, because I haven't been told them in advance. However, I can hear much of vital interest in the sound and I take pleasure in allowing my mind to run free with whatever associations it pleases.
There are many other examples to reinforce my point of view, even within Western music. It suffices to cite Rachmaninoff's horrified reaction to an English audience bursting into laughter during a performance of one of his serious works. He had accidentally rewritten "Three Blind Mice" as one of his themes. Fascinating as all this is, it probably digresses too much from the theme of your site. Nonetheless, it seems to me that nothing in music holds religious meaning in any obligatory or intrinsic sense, and thank goodness for that!
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 02 May, 2015
Well, a minority position it may be Ted, but I'm with you. I can't discern any religious meaning in music, or how any could be transmitted. Certainly music can evoke emotions, look at how a great soundtrack can improve a movie. But no way could a piece of music tell the story of Jesus or Shiva or Thor to someone ignorant of the particular religion. It can only act as a soundtrack to your current thoughts. Some music does have immediate associations with a particular religion, but that's only because that association has been forced upon us through repetition, not because the music conveys some subconscious message about some god. Whenever I hear the 'William Tell Overture' I can't help but think of the theme to 'The Lone Ranger', although I doubt that Rossini had that in mind when he composed it.
Comment by Patrick, 04 May, 2015
Dear John & Ted, thanks for your comments regarding my post. I think that a simple and effective illustration of what we are discussing would be the world's best actors and actresses like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino or Helen Mirren playing biblical characters throughout their whole career... Or famous singers singing only religious songs! How can artists improve if they are to do the same thing endlessly?
For sure, cars, planes, et cetera, didn't exist in former times, but there was still more than enough material (including abstract art which is timeless and infinite) for these great artists to spend their precious time on. This would have had an immense effect on them and on their works. But it is highly unlikely that powerful religious blokes who decided everything would have encouraged or even allowed this.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 05 May, 2015
Yes Patrick, the modern world would be a far poorer place if our famous artists, actors and singers were still constrained by religion. I guess we'll never know historically what masterpieces and insights we've lost because of the suffocating control of religion. We only have to think of the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and Shakespeare to glimpse at what could be achieved when intelligent, creative people looked beyond religion. But of course we also have to remember the Church dragging Galileo before the Inquisition and burning Giordano Bruno at the stake to see how they viewed those that did think beyond approved religious subjects. Murderous Muslim fundamentalists today aren't doing anything that the Christians haven't already done.
And while Christians today have largely rejected violent enforcement of their beliefs (they had little choice), they haven't stopped trying to return the world to a time when all people should be devout and where all they should be thinking about, singing about or representing in art is God. The other day I received an advert in the mail for an upcoming 'Conference for all Children's Ministry Leaders'. It told me that 'Our children are... the church of tomorrow', and that by attending I would 'Discover how to inspire this generation to take God's church forward into the future'. As it was in the past, the Church still works on the premise that if you can brainwash people when they're still na´ve kids, then you're more likely to keep them deluded for life. How many of these 'good' Christians might have given the world something truly valuable if they had only looked beyond thinking about, singing about, painting and praising an invisible fairy?
Comment by Anonymous-13, 26 Jul, 2015
Yesterday, I just happened to surf my 'Free to Air' channels prior to the 6pm news and came across this leach dishing out the most abominable lies on that wretched Shine TV. How on earth can this absolute rubbish be allowed to be broadcast, largely to the ethnic groups who brainwashed in the first place. This to me is a blatant example of the 'Dark Ages' brainwashing, but what is far worse, he and his ilk were using images of Space made possible by the collective intelligence of tens of thousands of scientists who have given humanity the chance to see (so far) the realms of the universe for the first time in our entire history as a result of technical tsunami, the result of the Space Age. I am particularly angry because as a foundation member (1960) of our local Astronomical Society, I have devoted many years and a considerable amount of money promoting the subject to visitors worldwide and many thousands of children from the schools in our region and beyond and to see and hear the crap this parasite was dishing out was just too much.
These mongrels, dishing out this sort of blatant misinformation need to absolutely barred from our country. It appears that it was a 'Calvin Smith' show.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 27 Jul, 2015
I can identify with your anger and frustration, that in the 21st century religious nutters can not only continue to push their silly fantasies, but can utilise the technology developed by their enemy to do so. On the bright side, fundamentalist Christians are only using TV and the Internet, not TV, the Internet and assault rifles like fundamentalist Muslims.
My Freeview TV can't receive Shine TV but I read that 'Shine TV is a television network of Rhema Media - New Zealand's largest Christian media organisation'. However I can receive a similar channel called 'Firstlight', which I read has 'the common mission to proclaim God's love throughout New Zealand'. I've watched the odd program occasionally, and they are all depressingly bad and consistently based, as you say, on lies, absolute rubbish and blatant misinformation. But this is nothing new, this has been the nature of religion for thousands of years, the only thing that has changed over the years is the medium used to push these untruths.
What can we do to combat this flood of ignorance? Being a fan of free speech, I'm not for trying to ban views that conflict with mine. As long as they aren't advocating real harm to others then we must let people rave about their silly belief in sky fairies. Of course the likes of Islamists brainwashing followers to commit murder is real harm and must be squashed, but childish Christians talking of a man walking on water and others walking with dinosaurs doesn't deserve a legal ban. These poor deluded people need to be helped, not ostracised. Of course these Christians lying to naive, gullible, vulnerable people is a form of harm, in that people are being misled, but in a free world we all have the right to push our opinions. All we can do is what you've already been doing over the years, promote the truth.
Every week various local churches near me advertise in free newspapers the talks they're offering to the public, often from visiting speakers; one calls their offering 'Supernatural Sundays'. We also have a local astronomy club, but do they offer talks like the churches do? No. They don't promote themselves, if anything they discourage interest. The public has had debates over recent years concerning euthanasia, homosexuality and abortion, and yet the only ones organising talks and discussions have been the churches. They even visit me at home! As much as I disagree with their worldview, you have to admire their willingness to spend time and money to promote their view. At my local library I can pick up free Christian magazines and view numerous other New Age groups advertising their nonsense, but no information about skeptic or atheist groups or any science group, such as ones interested in the stars or fossils. As mentioned, we have not one but at least two TV channels in NZ, as well as radio stations, dedicated solely to promoting Christianity. The Freeview TV that I receive has some 19 channels, but not only are none of them dedicated to the likes of science and history, none of the main channels allocate even a small viewing slot to science and history documentaries. And no, I don't accept that documentaries that are called 'When Animals Attack', 'Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong' or 'Destroyed in Seconds' are real documentaries. Intelligent documentaries are a rare beast on TV, and programmers are apparently convinced that if they must show a documentary every year or so, it must be one that David Attenborough made. Yet a quick search on the Internet (eg 'Top Documentary Films') shows that there have been a wealth of fascinating documentaries made, but even though nudity is also now rare on TV, it's still seen far more often than a good documentary. Of course if we want a cooking show, a cop drama or some sport, we are spoilt for choice.
The reality is, I feel, that many people that could promote a scientific worldview simply can't be bothered, unlike the churches that are willing to put in the effort. And people, even religious people, do have an interest in science. As you say, Christian TV, and their magazines, love to use the images of science, especially space images, to amaze their followers. They know that people accept much of what science tells us, that huge galaxies and small cells exist, and they find it fascinating. Christianity knows that they must incorporate science into their spiel, people expect it, but of course they don't tell the whole story. They might relate reasonably accurate descriptions of galaxies and cells, but then they ruin it by insisting that God made those galaxies and cells. But Christians I expect think that they're getting the best of both worlds, learning about both science and God. And in this sense they are lucky. But as naturalist, if I want to discuss or learn about science and/or gods, there are absolutely zero groups competing for my support. We have 'Supernatural Sundays' but no 'Natural Sundays'. Our bookstores are full of Bibles and books by psychic mediums and astrologers, but my local Whitcoulls store recently got rid of their popular science section. We do have a Christian book store committed 100% to Christianity, and yet our largest bookstore can't even devote a single shelf to science. Our apathy could be our undoing. In the future we may have the most amazing electronic devices, but most of the public might have no real idea how they work... magic? On the TV news the other night the newsreaders told us that scientists naming a mountain range on Pluto after Edmund Hillary meant that his fame now stretched across the galaxy. The reality is that we've only just reached the edge of the solar system, not the galaxy. That's the level of knowledge one gets when you rely on Hollywood to teach us science.
A few brave souls are promoting real science, not Christian 'science', to the public, but the Christians must be rapt that mainly only their TV channels and door knocking evangelists are prepared to discuss the big questions, and no, who won 'Dancing with the Stars' or have they selected the right All Blacks are not the big questions.
Comment by Mikaere, 27 Jul, 2015
'Our apathy could be our undoing.'
I think you are spot-on with this sentence, John. The more technology and science make things easier for us, the fewer the problems we need to solve. With this perhaps comes a decline in critical thinking.
Our media is merely a reflection of society, where mediocrity is the norm. I haven't had television for over six years. When I stay in a motel occasionally, I flick through the fifty or so channels available. Inane chat shows, 'reality' T.V; pseudo documentaries and tabloid newscasts abound. I find myself changing channels rapidly, astounded at what passes for entertainment. It seems only cooking competitions, moronic celebrities and sport are worthwhile.
Such vacuous fare soon produces a sort of torpor and I often fall asleep. I suspect many people experience similar lethargy. What fertile ground for people who wish to instil their messages! As you say, it seems to be mainly the religious who have the energy to do this, except the advertising people who desecrate movies every 9 minutes. Of course, the evangelists are funded by the gullible masses and are tax-exempt. What passes for semi-decent documentary is often disrupted by frequent advertising and endless repetition, in case viewers have forgotten what had happened before the ad breaks. I'd guess about 25 minutes in the hour would be original content.
So, the fundamentalist nutters and psychopaths, creationists, cynical TV extortionists et al have the perfect medium to address the multitudes and some of their messages will stick. If they mix in a bit of science to give an air of legitimacy, some Hollywood puffery as dessert and feature a charismatic presenter, then their messages will be powerful. What would people rather watch, Russell Crowe throwing unbelievers off the ark, watched adoringly by a gorgeous wife or two, or a sober discussion on quantum theories?
Oh well, I think I'll go and watch Ghostbusters on YouTube.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 28 Jul, 2015
You're right Mikaere, 'Our media is merely a reflection of society, where mediocrity is the norm'. Society has long said we shouldn't discuss the likes of politics, sex and religion in polite company, and this has morphed to include other contentious topics of our time, like euthanasia and immigration. Even if some annoying, socially-challenged person like me raises one of these topics, it's frustrating how quickly people steer the conversation back into safer waters, like discussing the weather or the rugby. The media pretend that they want to keep us informed, not just on what celebrities are doing, but even on the serious topics, however it's all very superficial and little more than sound bites. A mere token effort. They refuse to ask probing questions, plus they cripple their efforts by falsely believing that every debate is balanced and both sides deserve equal time, eg did the door slam due to the wind or ghosts? The media are getting rid of investigative reporters and cancelling serious current affairs TV shows, and are instead focusing solely on profits. Thus the need to dumb down their product to cater for their largest market, the poorly informed and apathetic masses that yearn for stories about sports personalities and the latest fashion accessories, plus their horoscopes.
People marvel at what science and technology has given us, but even so, for far too many it's all a mystery as to why our world works as it does. Worse still, they generally don't care that they don't know. Even people curious enough to ask a question can't be bothered with anything but a quick answer. Over many years I've offered to lend friends a good book on a topic they've wondered about, and not once has anyone ever accepted my offer. As you said Mikaere, the more things are made easier for us, the fewer problems we need to solve. Thus we lose the ability to even solve problems. Youth have no problems operating their smart phones and games consoles, but if these devices develop a fault then they are lost. The answer: if it's software, then reload the program; if it's hardware, buy a new one. Either way, don't try to understand and actually fix the real problem. I think this belief that all young people are whizz kids with technology is a fallacy. They are merely proficient operators, in the same way that we can all quickly change channels on our TV and use a cordless drill, but can't fix them. We are good at using tools, but we are losing the knowledge of how our tools work. Many tools are now sealed to even prevent us from being curious about what's inside. We are fast moving towards a society where there will be a small minority that understand science and technology and can design, build and repair our devices, and a great unwashed majority that merely use these mysterious devices.
This spreading ignorance, and not just about science but history as well, leaves people open to the likes of religious fundamentalists who want to fill our heads with their silly stories as to the how and why of the universe. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy escaping with a good science fiction movie or a silly comedy on TV, but I can't see why our TV content providers can't squeeze in a measly 2 or 3 hours of intelligent documentaries in amongst the 3,000 plus hours that they currently broadcast to my TV each week.
Comment by Mikaere, 28 Jul, 2015
Hi again John. Just a thank you for standing up to the bullies with silly beliefs. The attached video shows a young man who swims against the tide - this time against the silly beliefs and practices of so-called liberal progressives. He has posted a number of videos exposing increasing violence and intolerance in Sweden and the political response to it - indeed a silly and dangerous belief-set. Similar messages from Pat Condell show the same thing is happening in the UK.
Meanwhile in Sweden - Episode 1
Comment by Ron, 10 Aug, 2015
Hi John. Recently read an article in a newspaper about abusive priests escaping justice due to sexual abuse on boys and girls. In NZ victims continue to come forward yearly in increasing numbers, decades after the events. The Catholic church has been unwilling to dig into its dark past, preferring that police be informed. Standard practice in the past was a payment for silence. A victim from the 70s immediately complained to police and the church but he has no faith in either as it took 25 yrs for the priest to be jailed. The question asked is why was the church always left to investigate itself. Progress appears slow coming but an independent commission is on the horizon now. This topic has been covered well on your site and in the media re. priests but not much related to nuns. The subject of abuse from and to nuns makes sickening reading. Of course, there is info on the net and some shocking books, a good one being Lucifers Lodge: satanic ritual abuse in the Catholic Church 2009 by William H. Kennedy. Hundreds are suing in the UK over endless abuse of children in the care of nuns decades back. These elderly were some of those kids. Ruthless beatings and extreme cruelty were common everyday events, usually for trivial stuff. These nuns seemed to hate children or lacked care training. The outside world thought they represented compassion and kindness. Some were called sisters of mercy. The atrocities were unlimited, such as a girl having her legs burnt with a red hot poker to exorcise the devil. A girl nearly losing both legs from infection due to nun pulling out ingrown toenails with pliers. It is endless. Injuries were hidden from visitors by throwing kids into black holes with no ventilation, light or bedding. When a brutal nun died the children were ordered to pray for her in heaven!!!
Then there is the sexual abuse of nuns, from priests but also nuns to nuns. 40% of nuns in the USA admit they have been abused. Infanticide/abortions has been the answer for those pregnant. A nun reported having her front teeth knocked out when refusing a lecherous priest. A mother superior ordered 10+ young nuns to strip naked so 2 or 3 drunk priests could look them over and select one to take with him. Seems in a convent a priest can do what he wants and hide behind the cloak of religion. After such a thing that same priest can say Mass in church then later hear confessions. Those confessors believe he has powers of absolution for their sins. Some see him as God. To quote a section from Lucifers Lodge, Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) presided over the 2nd pornography of the papacy. He presided over the greatest, most widespread immoral scandal of sexual perversion in church history. Never in the annals of recorded history has such a scandal been displayed for the world to see.
So much nauseating stuff that gets worse the further back one goes. With an enormous amount of data gleaned by the Vatican regarding sexual activity of the RC clergy the Pope must have known yet nothing was done. Never mind the victims welfare. Never mind the broken chastity vows. The high price of celibacy, eh? We left the Catholic church yrs ago, long before I learned about all this. It may sound silly but I could never belong to such a church knowing so much about it. We do not belong to any church. However the catholic church remains very popular. I pass one every early Saturday evening and its full to the front doors always. I ponder on how many of those folk know what we know, more or less. Would such dreadful revelations make any difference or do they, as the church has done, sweep it under the carpet. I tried to mention some of this to a devout catholic and was met with total, voice raising denial.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 11 Aug, 2015
Hi Ron. The history of what good Catholics got up to is indeed quite nauseating stuff. Sexual, physical and psychological abuse abounds, and what has been exposed will only be a fraction of what actually occurred. Worse still is that it's still occurring, the Catholic Church hasn't gone the way of the dodo, the dinosaurs or the Nazis.
The reason why the church was always left to investigate itself is that Catholics believe they are above the law and answer only to their god. To the Vatican, giving a man-made justice system control over their actions is as unthinkable as it would be for me to let a Muslim dictate what movies I watched. The Vatican has its own people to investigate claims of wrongdoing, its own lawyers and courts. and they don't recognise our secular justice system. The Vatican sees itself as a sovereign country, accountable to no one. What other religion has representatives at the United Nations? And unfortunately many in the secular justice system were Catholics and were perfectly willing to let the Catholic Church police themselves, and they most certainly didn't want to embarrass the Church, their Church, by investigating or arresting a Catholic priest or nun for abuse. The Church would take care of their own. All would be well.
Of course all wasn't well, the Church wasn't investigating and punishing the abusive priests and nuns, they were protecting them and hiding their actions from everyone. And the Catholic flock were generally oblivious to the evil that flowed through their church, the thought that priests and nuns were anything other than caring people doing God's work was beyond contemplation. But of course now we know different, the filth inside the Church has been exposed, but the majority of Catholics are still in denial apparently, seemingly telling themselves that there were only one or two deviant priests, somewhere overseas, and they're either now dead or in prison. The Vatican has excised the cancer and is healthy again, all is now well. So are Catholics simply na´ve and ignorant to believe such lies, or are they consciously suppressing the clear signs of rot, too scared to reject their vindictive god and walk away? Personally I know two sorts of people that were raised as Catholics, those that are disgusted by the behaviour of their Church and have left the fold, and those that are in blind denial and are still kneeling submissively before their priest. For some there is no evil great enough to tear them away from their delusion. Those people sicken me.
Comment by John, 19 Aug, 2015
Dear Other John @ silly beliefs!
Not sure where or if this book fits into any of your categories — I've just checked your atheism books and it's not there, though I wasn't checking to see if it was. I just dug it up from the back of my memory:
The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross: A study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East
Yours in Atheism!
John M. Allegro (Author), J.R. Irvin (Preface), Jan Irvin (Preface), Carl A. P. Ruck (Foreword), Judith Anne Brown (Foreword)
PS I found you by searching "could the shroud of turin be a real shroud of a torture victim", I now know why it can't be. Thanks.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 20 Aug, 2015
Hi John. Our list of books on atheism, religion, science etc only include those that we've read and found informative. There are no doubt untold interesting books that aren't on our lists, but if we haven't read it we can't honestly recommend it. One of our group has a copy of 'The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross', but none of us have got around to reading it yet. So many books, so little time.
Comment by Brett C, 20 Aug, 2015
Hi John, thank you for your site. I have visited weekly for the last couple of years & have found your articles well written with some great inner thoughts on atheism & pseudoscience. I have had a passion for studying/learning about peoples silly beliefs for about a decade now as a hobby. As I write this email I turn to my bookcase & admire my collection from Phillip J. Klass through to good old Hitchens, must be around 80 hard & soft covers by now. I had a good experience with religion ( Roman Catholic ) growing up in Australia but from as early as I can remember praying blindly to an invisible sky ( where everyone seemed to look ) fantasy was not for me or my future. Anyway the reason for this email John is to do with a character mentioned by anonymous-13 — Calvin Smith. I had a quick look at the site that is associated with him & I must admit was quite impressed with some of the scientific terminology used & quoted in some of the articles. He or his staff definitely treat the reader to some good points regarding how creationism can be just as logical as evolution if not more so.
"It is not just dinosaur soft tissue, either, but the presence of detectable proteins such as collagen, hemoglobin, osteocalcin, actin, and tubulin that they must account for. These are complex molecules that continually tend to break down to simpler ones.
I then had a thought that if I were a adolescent again how I would react to these seemingly logical points Calvin brings to the table with a real sense of belief in what he is preaching. Could I have been a creationalist? I read on some more & then all of a sudden out of nowhere
Not only that, but in many cases, there are fine details of the bone matrix, with microscopically intact-looking bone cells (osteocytes) showing incredible detail. And Schweitzer has even recovered fragments of the even more fragile and complex molecule, DNA. This has been extracted from the bone cells with markers indicating its source such that it is extremely likely to be dinosaur DNA."
"Creationists suggest that most dinosaurs died and were buried in the great Flood described in Genesis 6-8 (for which there is a huge amount of evidence). Two of each kind were preserved on the Ark, of course, thus surviving the Flood. With their numbers greatly reduced, all animals would have been subject to many pressures, such as varying climates (including the Ice Age) following the Flood. They may have had a unique physiology that made them less able to adapt as rapidly to the many different environments after the Flood. For example, evolutionists have suggested that dinosaurs may not have been warm-blooded or cold-blooded, but something completely different from either. They may have had a unique type of metabolism, unlike any living animals today.
I still do not grasp how somebody could assume they understand how science & the world works but also believe that two of every dinosaur were loaded onto a bloody boat! I really hope that in the near future some of these obviously bright & talented people will wake up to the irrationality they spread & then apply the same effort to going forward with science instead of dark & middle age spirituality ( we have billions of Muslims for that ).
This may have contributed to them becoming extinct, along with the very same reasons animals become extinct today (being hunted, disease, climatic changes, habitat changes etc.)."
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 20 Aug, 2015
Hi Brett. Thanks for your comments. Regarding Calvin Smith and his ilk, I agree that it can be easy to be 'quite impressed with some of the scientific terminology used & quoted in some of the articles', however what is actually happening is that we are being fooled into accepting pseudoscience, which of course is the devious use of scientific terminology and evidence to push a bogus argument. As physicist Milton Rothman said, pseudoscience is 'a false science that pretends to be real'. You mentioned the 'seemingly logical points Calvin brings to the table', but as you'll know, these creationists only mention points that appear to support their argument and cunningly ignore contrary evidence and logic. They quote scientific comments out of context, misrepresent scientific views and gloss over the untold problems with their own arguments. Also the science they do quote, such as the bit about dinosaur proteins, is usually complex and beyond what your typical reader, and certainly your typical creationist, understands. My experience with these creationist arguments is that if you take the time to look at what scientists really say, then it's always just the opposite to what the creationists claim. There are certainly still many mysteries in the world that science has yet to explain, but none suggest, even remotely, that some god is playing around behind the scenes. Creationists are always pretending that science is just stumbling around in the dark and is too arrogant to admit that all the evidence points to an intelligent creator called God, Ra, Odin or Bob.
Two books I'd recommend are 'Evolution vs. Creationism' by Eugenie C. Scott and 'The Counter-Creationism Handbook' by Mark Isaak. These show that it's simply astounding the arguments that creationists keep pushing at the gullible even though most will know, and should know if they did a little research, are utterly bogus. But like all scammers, they rely on their dupes to simply trust them and never seek an alternative opinion. Of course it's very easy for some people to be convinced by creationist arguments, just as it's easy for some to be convinced by the arguments that Muslims, Scientologists, homeopaths or alien abductees offer. Christians have no problem seeing the clear flaws in Islam, just as alien abductees can often see the flaws in Christianity, but strangely no believer can see the flaws in their own favoured belief, even though they're obvious to everyone else. Clearly it's more than simple ignorance, there is a strong desire to believe a specific belief and to ignore conflicting evidence. As you say Brett, Smith presents some evidence which he believes is harmful to the scientific view, but then he completely stuffs it all up by arguing that two of every dinosaur were on Noah's Ark. Most fundamentalists won't understand Smith's scientific arguments, they'll simply accept that there are problems with what the scientists are talking about, but surely in the 21st century they have enough knowledge and intelligence to dismiss Noah's Ark as primitive nonsense? But no. Fundamentalists don't want to understand the science involved, they simply want to be reassured with complicated scientific-sounding talk that there are good — albeit incomprehensible — reasons to hold onto their fantasy that an invisible creator made life, the universe and everything. Fundamentalists believed in their creator long before science arose, and they still don't need it to hold their belief, all their devious use of science does now is to falsely give them some bogus arguments to allow them a more restful sleep, it reduces the tossing and turning.
It's interesting Brett that you wonder, if targeted by these new arguments in your youth, might you have been swayed? I had a similar discussion the other day, where I wondered if I had lived in the Middle Ages, would I have been an atheist? I'd like to think I would have, but the odds are probably against it. However I'm an atheist now because I'm a skeptic, and I'm skeptical because I'm curious about how things work and I apply critical thinking to my thoughts. My past self would lack my modern knowledge of the world, but I'd like to think that I'd still be able to see through much of the superstitious nonsense that even today so many people still struggle with. I'd have no idea how the world arose, but surely I could have seen that saying a god created it didn't solve anything. Even children today are bright enough to ask, 'So if God made the world, then who made God?'
As for your hope that some of these more intelligent creationists will see the light, I suspect it's a forlorn hope. Nearly all will die devout believers, their commitment is almost hard-wired. Even if all their flaky scientific evidence disappeared, they'd just view it as a test of their faith, they wouldn't see the possibility that they might be wrong. For most people, once you become a creationist, you'll remain a creationist, since it's your intellect that took you there in the first place. You won't have the desire, or ability, to get out. It's almost like losing your virginity, you can't go back.
Comment by Brett C, 21 Aug, 2015
Hi John. Thank you for your reply. I totally agree with the comments you made regarding how the creation camp quote scientific comments out of context to suit whatever mumbo jumbo they try to con people into believing. I wonder if any of these Creationists sites have been held liable for slander or misrepresentation of a scientific paper...? From my experience most scientists are too busy with proper research to even care what the scammers are up to.
I have (as yourself) often wondered how a person with critical thinking skills would have fared in the middle ages. Not being part of the religion machine would have been fraught with danger one hundred percent of the time I would imagine. It makes me appreciate the time we live in now all that much more. I personally think that the next ten years will be an interesting time for the creationists. American atheists seem to be on the rise & hopefully they can stop it getting into more of their schools.
The books you have recommended sound like they will be great additions for my collection. I have chapters dealing with Creation theory in some of my books but not dedicated to the subject.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 22 Aug, 2015
Hi Brett. That's an interesting thought, but I haven't heard of any creationist being legally challenged over their bogus claims. As you say, most scientists don't care, but it's a wonder that some greedy lawyer hasn't tried to hop on that gravy train. There could be a fortune to be made suing all the nutters in the world, although perhaps they could all fall back on the insanity plea.
And yes, the next decade or so will be an interesting time for the creationists. Atheism is on the rise, especially with the youth, and creationists will struggle to be taken seriously. As the older generation of believers fade from the scene, and more and more churches close, true believers may (hopefully) become as rare as blacksmiths and water diviners.
Comment by Ron, 07 Sep, 2015
Hi John. Have you caught up with the recent doomsday carryings on regarding the next blood moon on Sept 28. This predicted natural event is apparently the last of a series of 4 blood moons over a relatively short time period which dates have co-incided with Jewish feast days. This scenario is so rare it has only happened 3 times in the last 500 yrs and 10 times since Christ. It has caught the attention of the religious world and seems to come from the teachings and books of rabbi Johnathan Kahn. He talks of 7 yr biblical cycles since the creation of Israel in 1948 when every 7 yrs a major world event occurs, that factual events align precisely with these cycles given to the Israelites. He teaches that the greatest stockmarket crashes in history have taken place on these dates. Even non-believing financial analysts have observed this and asked why. Kahn points out that past events need to be seen as warnings of future events. Of course, his books are taken very seriously and regarded as not flakey but to be taken most solemnly.
A Timaru group of believers and followers of Kahn have made the news. Their spokerperson, Pat Hughes, a Jewish lady, it seems, says the blood moon on the 28th occurs at the start of the feast of tabernacles as per their calendar. I could say "so what" but don't wish to be rude. She says many things may occur this month with a possible major financial collapse They are prepared for an apocalyptic event and she has stockpiled some food. I trust she has plenty of fruitcake!! They go on by reminding us of Genesis where God talks of signs in the heavens that are an indication of judgement on earth. We are reminded that the coming 14 yr anniversary of the Sept 11 twin towers, pentagon terrorist acts is significant also as it is exactly double the number 7. Again I am tempted to say, so what? Ah well, again we wait out more doomsday predictions. Even if things happen this month, does it mean sinister, the end is nigh. Maybe, but every day, week, month many things happen in the world, often very significant events. Predicted, explainable astronomical events are regular as we know, but they are consistently intertwined with biblical warnings at every opportunity to become apocalyptical instead of just being enjoyed. They missed one a few months ago I reckon. I observed the beautiful spectacle of Venus and Jupiter in the western sky extremely close, side by side, like a double. No doomsday strings attached and free of charge.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 07 Sep, 2015
Hi Ron. No, I hadn't heard of the approaching doom, but then I don't go looking for these religious nutters that see the apocalypse behind every natural event that they don't understand. I can understand ignorant, superstitious and fearful priests and peasants that lived a thousand years ago cowering under their beds every time they saw something slightly different in the sky, but that some 21st century citizens still ignore modern knowledge and instead use Bronze Age myths to predict doom and disaster is disappointing to say the least.
As you correctly point out Ron, 'every day, week, month many things happen in the world, often very significant events. Predicted, explainable astronomical events are regular', so it's child's play to take multiples of any number and you will find, somewhere in the world or in history, that some serious event happened on your chosen day. The important thing to then do is ignore all the equally serious events that didn't happen on your chosen day. You say they mentioned the terrorist attacks on Sep 11, 2001, and they remind us that the 14th anniversary is approaching, 14 being a multiple of 7. So why didn't a disaster befall the USA on the 7th anniversary, and why do they likewise ignore all the Americans that were killed in the intervening 14 years, far outnumbering those killed on 9/11? Also they conveniently ignore the major loss of life caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, war etc around the world that strangely doesn't just happen on their spooky days. Primitive people used to see comets or planetary conjunctions as evil omens and they panicked and did irrational things, but after thousands of years of people predicting calamity and even the end of the world, and never once seeing their prediction come true, you'd think more enlightened people today would take this lesson to heart. Even Jesus predicted that the world would end within a few decades of his death, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you that he was wrong. If Jesus himself couldn't make accurate predictions, why do these fuckwits think that they know more about what's going to happen than Jesus did?
As for them claiming that the Bible says 'God talks of signs in the heavens that are an indication of judgement on earth', Jesus clearly says that no one will know the time of his coming. Briefly, starting at Mark 13:4, Jesus is asked by his disciples, 'Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?' Jesus replies that,
'When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains ... blah blah blah ... And the gospel must first be preached to all nations... blah blah blah ... Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death ... blah blah blah ... But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken ... blah blah blah ... I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away ... blah blah blah ... No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father'.
There are several points we should note regarding this prediction made by Jesus regarding the end of the world. First he tells us that wars, earthquakes and famines will always happen, do NOT be alarmed, this is NOT a sign that the end is nigh. He then says that the gospel must first be preached to all nations, to everyone, before he can kill everyone. Clearly there are many people in the world who haven't yet heard the gospel (natives in the Amazon for example), and this is not about to change any day soon. He then says that we'll see children putting their parents to death, again this is not happening anywhere on the planet. Some Muslim parents are putting their daughters to death (honour killings), but this is backward, not what Jesus predicted. The stars will fall from the sky. The stars are rather... well... huge things, so I think we would have noticed if even just one had got close to the Earth, let alone fell to Earth. These are all things that must happen before the world will end, and not even one has happened. Jesus then categorically states that no one, not even him, knows exactly when this will happen, so anyone that predicts the end of the world on a specific day or even a specific year is talking bullshit. So says Jesus.
Of course to modern ears this all sounds like superstitious nonsense preached by ignorant peasants. For example they didn't know how huge stars were and that it would be impossible for even one to fall to the ground. But by far the most damming prediction that Jesus made was this: 'I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened'. By this he means that some people of the generation that his disciples belonged to would still be alive when he returned, riding his hover-board down from the clouds. So Jesus expected the end to come anywhere between a few months and a few decades at the most. And this prediction is evidently made 37 times in the New Testament. Jesus was utterly convinced that the end was nigh. And yet, 2,000 years later ...
Christians bleat on about how accurate Biblical predictions are, when this is an absolute crock. Even their hero Jesus couldn't make predictions that came true, so if Jesus, and by extension God, didn't have a clue about what was going to happen in the future, I think we can also write off all the minor characters in the Bible as well. I'm not aware of a single prediction made in the Bible, that any fool couldn't make, that has come true, while I'm aware of untold Biblical predictions that that have failed big time.
As for this Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, he is in real terms a Christian, not a Jew. He's what's known as a Messianic Jew. He's also a Christian pastor. As this Wikipedia page explains, 'Messianic Judaism is a religious movement combining the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah with certain Jewish beliefs'. This Wikipedia page on Cahn says that he 'was raised in a reform Jewish home and attended the synagogue frequently. He became an atheist when he was eight years old but a few years later he began to question atheism. By the time he was 20 years old he had become a Christian, accepting Jesus as the Messiah'. Evidently Jewish organisations and the Supreme Court of Israel agree with me, and 'consider Messianic Judaism to be a form of Christianity'. And while Cahn may have technically been an atheist when he was eight, I sincerely doubt that he was an informed atheist, especially since his weak views allowed him to then become a Christian. If he had truly understood why atheism made sense, then he couldn't have simply rejected this realisation. It's like once you really understand why Santa Claus doesn't exist, you can't choose to start believing in him again.
That silly Christians believe the nonsense that Cahn and others like him spout on a regular basis, and still can't see that it also fails on a regular basis, suggests to me that they've taken this trust in some invisible sky fairy too far. When they enter their church they should try switching off their cell phones rather than their brains.
Comment by Ron, 08 Sep, 2015
Hello John. Appears I got the spelling of Cahn's name a little wrong. Apologies.
Your reply demonstrates a knowledge of the bible way beyond many Christians. If these significant events so many are waiting for in connection to the blood moons do not occur this month or the 28th excuses will flow similar to "God is not ready" or "it is not time yet" or "in his time". Seems, based on Revelations, that these folk will be waiting in vain.These signs of the heavens are not supposed to occur until after the great tribulation which has not arrived so far, though many say it is just around the corner. The signs in the sun and moon are supernatural, therefore outside the natural order of things ie this tetrad of the 4 blood moons. These are only seen by man in certain countries. Rev. 6:15-17 states all men on earth will see the dramatic heavenly signs from god.
Yes, these endless prophecies sure take a long time to come to pass. The bible is one third prophecies. Despite so much written about very many prophecies having already done so or are doing so now I'm darned if I can find anything concrete to prove this. Most statements are vague. Have you proven any fulfilled prophecies John? Probably not. For many, many yrs I've read, and still do, that the return of Jesus is imminent. Even though we are not to know exactly but the imminent continues to be the same imminent.
Back in the 60's thru several decades after, people relied on the free publication, The Plain Truth and its founder Herbert W. Armstrong. They were chocka with prophecy. Now there is its modern successor, The Trumpet, with a broader range of articles but still strong on world events relating to prophecy. My Dad used to get the plain truth. It used to really depress me and make me feel fearful. Lots of horrible pics/drawings of holocaust type stuff with piles of corpses and destroyed cities. Hardly conducive to making a momentous decision to follow a loving god. These mags like the trumpet are free but many faceless, kind, well meaning benefactors must cover the huge costs of publishing etc, and mailing worldwide tons of mags monthly. The Philadelphia Church of God who is behind it truly believe they are the only true, chosen church, but so do the JW's and so do the ... etc. Those benefactors believe, I guess, there is a place in heaven for them, that the readers, thanks to them, have no excuses not to be educated, to have repented and totally prepared for the 2nd coming and all the horror that precedes it. The Trumpet idolises HWA and published a book dedicated to him titled "He was right" as regards his prophetic words decades back such as the fall of morals and same sex marriages being accepted and how Germany will dominate Europe in the rise of a powerful new holy roman empire that will shake the world. The trumpet says this is happening right now and fulfils many prophecies. They cite the American race riots recently as another come to pass, (Isaiah 1:7). Stating that when JC returns he will end all racism and injustice forever and rule the world with a rod of iron and love. They warn of the rise of Japan to militarism, lots on Iran, its nuclear aspirations, esp. a recent deal involving the USA and how it will trigger WW3. All prophecy in motion. But they have been saying similar for 50 yrs and still I struggle to be convinced. Around 2000yrs and still waiting.
Comment by the 'Silly Beliefs' Team, 09 Sep, 2015
Hi Ron. Yes indeed, pathetic excuses will flow when things predicted fail to come to pass, but they don't seem at all embarrassed (or even aware in many cases) that their ilk have been making these childish excuses year in and year out for around 2,000 years. How many times must every prediction fail before they realise that they were just making silly guesses? How many times must a trusted saviour fail to appear and effect a rescue before they realise that he either doesn't exist or at least doesn't care? How many claims in the Bible must be proved false before they realise that it can't be the inerrant word of God after all?
And no Ron, I know of not one Biblical prophecy that has been fulfilled. Not one! I know that many Christians will say that this or that prophecy came true, but if you research their claims not a single one holds water. Of course there are many vague, worthless prophecies in the Bible, such as there will be war, famine and that kingdoms will fall, but this is as silly as me predicting that somewhere in the world in the future it will rain and several unspecified people will die in some disaster.
You say they've made Biblical prophecies regarding Germany, Iran and Japan, but of course these countries are never mentioned in the Bible, it's merely ignorant people looking around at the world they find themselves in and pointing at whatever country they have a problem with. In the past it would have been Rome, Persia, Prussia or the USSR. Only the religious see a fall in morals (their God given morals such as killing homosexuals) whereas I believe that informed, educated people today are generally more ethical than we were in past centuries, eg we no longer keep slaves, we don't burn witches, we condemn racism, we don't go on crusades or pogroms. There is no Biblical prophecy that foresees same sex marriages, and as for prophesising 'a powerful new holy roman empire that will shake the world', the exact opposite is true, with the Vatican vilified by many and struggling to pull itself out of the gutter. You also say that 'They cite the American race riots recently as another come to pass, (Isaiah 1:7)'. This is a perfect example of how these morons take a vague passage and invent some meaning that was clearly never signalled. Here is that passage:
'Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. (ISA 1:7)'
How can they seriously get American race riots from that? America is not desolate, it's cities didn't burn, nor were it's fields stripped by foreigners. The recent race problems were very minor compared to the size and population of the US, and neither of the groups involved were foreigners. The passage makes no mention of what country they're referring to, but if you refer back to Isaiah 1:1 you learn that the prediction is a 'vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw...'. So the country concerned was clearly Judah and not America. It is quite disingenuous and dishonest for these wankers to pretend that Isaiah 1:7 was referring to American race riots. And if the vision wasn't connected to Judah, and I had to relate it to a current event, I would say that the country they're talking about was Syria, a country that is currently being destroyed by war, their cities burning and foreign fighters in their fields. Of course if this were the 1970s, I would have said the country was Vietnam, and a few years ago I would have said Iraq or Afghanistan. That particular prophecy could find a troubled country no matter which decade you picked in the last 2,000 years. But if you read it in context, it can ONLY apply to Judah.
As for the book of Revelations, clearly this was written by some unknown fool that was far closer to being insane than sane. Why they decided to include it in the Bible is beyond me, it almost makes all the other silly nonsense believable by comparison. You mentioned the blood moon and Rev 6:15-17 that 'states all men on earth will see the dramatic heavenly signs from god'. First, the Bible writers thought the world was flat and much smaller than it really is, so, as you say, they believed anything in the sky that they could see would be seen by everyone, and also if you got high enough you could see the entire world. That's why Jesus thought he had viewed the earth's entire surface, saw 'all the kingdoms':
'Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.' (MT 4:8)
But back to Revelations, starting in Rev 6:12 we read the prophecy that,
'...There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.'
Of course if the sun went black then the moon wouldn't go blood red, since the moon can only be seen if it reflects the sun's light, but if the sun has gone black then the moon would go black too, they would both be invisible. But of course the Bible writers thought the moon generated its own light. Duh! Then note that the morons say that 'the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind'. Again, we know that this is impossible, but these desert nomads didn't know that either. Then we read that 'The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.' Without the sky, ie the atmosphere, everyone would immediately suffocate and freeze, although where they would be dying is a mystery since the land disappears as well: 'every mountain and island was removed from its place'. But then it gets more confusing, if that's possible. Rev 6:15 says,
'Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"'
How can everyone hide in 'caves and among the rocks of the mountains' if they have all been removed? Note also how they causally talk of 'every slave and every free man', fully expecting slavery to be quite normal worldwide when the end comes! This is yet another point where the prophecy fails. Then, continuing the ignorant desert nomad theme, they claim that, clutching my slave, I will call 'to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"' If I experience a great earthquake I will see it as completely natural, likewise I would see a disappearing sun and moon as a solar eclipse, and, ignoring the inconvenient fact that falling stars would have vaporised my body, I can't see any reason why I would suddenly start talking to the rocks, imploring them to kill me. And why would even a superstitious Christian think that some rocks could hide them from God? Isn't he everywhere and knows everything? God's superpowers seem to come and go depending on the story his silly followers are spinning.
Using their holy books the Christians and the Jews before them have been trying to guess the future for thousands of years, how much longer before they realise it's just not working. Talk about slow learners!
But even if one decides to become a Christian, perhaps they've suffered a head injury or taken too many drugs, their problems have only begun, since which of the many thousands of different Christian sects does one choose to follow? These thousands of sects only exist because they all think they have interpreted the Bible correctly and the rest are utterly wrong, and are thus false religions. Every sect has different and contradictory beliefs as to what one must believe. For example, what does one need to do to get to heaven, eg is it through faith or good works? Are homosexuals to be embraced or persecuted? Did the world arise billions of years ago or merely a few thousand years ago? Should church leaders handle snakes or sexually abuse little boys or shouldn't they? Must all the Jews be corralled into Israel and then slaughtered before Jesus will return? Is speaking in tongues a sign of a true connection with God or a delusion? Is the end nigh, is God about to kill us all or isn't he?
Christianity would be a little more plausible (but certainly not much more), as would Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc, if all Christians (or Jews etc) had a single united belief, if they could all agree on what their religion was about and what evidence supported it. But they don't, Christians spend more time arguing with other Christians than they do with Jews, Muslims or even atheists. If Christians can't even convince other Christians as to what the Bible says, presenting a united front to the world, what hope have they got of convincing an atheist?
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