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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Are the Ten Commandments the basis for a moral and strong society?

The following is the introduction to an article that states that the Ten Commandments are the only solution for the world's problems.

"There is only one solution to the world’s problems, only one prescription for producing a near-heaven on earth. It is 3,000 years old. And it is known as the Ten Commandments. Properly understood and applied, the Ten Commandments are really all humanity needs to make a beautiful world. While modern men and women, in their hubris, believe that they can and must come up with new ideas to make a good world, the truth is there is almost nothing new to say. If people and countries lived by the Ten Commandments, all the great moral problems would disappear."

I have this to say on the matter. Does it not seem odd that this all knowing god did not bother to give these Ten Commandments to Adam and Eve or their kids. No, he waited until after humankind was so evil that he had to wipe them off the face of the earth. Would not the knowledge of these Ten Commandments have helped to prevent the people from becoming so deprived? Did he give these commandments to Noah and his kids? Hmm, no, actually he did not do it then either. He waited quite awhile longer. He did not even give them to the Hebrews until they had left Egypt in the million man march across the desert that left absolutely no traces.
You might think that if these Ten Commandments were so important, that god would have provided them right from the start. Or at least as soon as Adam and Eve screwed up right at the beginning. You know, since god is supposedly all knowing and everything.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rabies and prayer

The miracle of Jeanna Giese
There are so many examples of the power of prayer, but one in particular deserves special consideration because it is so well documented. In December of 2004 a girl named Jeanna Giese survived a bite from a rabid bat through prayer. Hundreds of newspapers (including the Raleigh News and Observer in my home town) ran stories about the miracle of her recovery with headlines such as "Rabies girl in miracle recovery." In Raleigh, the headline was "Web weaves global prayer circle - Petitions circle the world as girl beats rare case of rabies." [Source: by Sharon Roznik, Raleigh News and Observer, December 17, 2004]
The summary of the story goes like this. Jeanna was in a church service in Wisconsin when a brown bat fell into the aisle. She picked the bat up and carried it outside. No one gave it a second thought. A month later it was obvious that something was wrong. Soon Jeanna had a full case of rabies. No human has ever survived this disease without being vaccinated. Up until 2004, full-blown rabies had been 100% fatal. According to the article, a global prayer circle helped Jeanna survive. Once she got sick, Jeanna's father called friends and asked them to pray for Jeanna. People around the world heard about her story through the press and by word of mouth. They prayed. They sent emails. They passed the word along. Millions of people heard about Jeanna's plight and they said prayers for her. And the prayer circle worked. Through the power of God, Jeanna recovered. Jeanna was the first human to survive rabies without the vaccine. Dr. Charles Rupprecht of the CDC in Atlanta called Jeanna's case a miracle. The family and everyone in Jeanna's huge, global prayer circle know that God heard their prayers and answered them. This is amazing stuff. The dictionary defines a miracle as "An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God." [ref] So we must ask a fundamental question: Did an all-loving, all-powerful God hear the prayers from Jeanna's worldwide prayer circle and then reach down from heaven to help Jeanna? Did God actually interact with Jeanna's body, making the impossible happen and curing her case of rabies through a divine miracle? Or did something else happen?

Well, guess what? Something else did happen. Her doctor cured her and using the same technique, others have cured more people who had rabies. And the story was wrong about no body surviving rabies without being vaccinated or cured as well. How unsurprising.

"Last year a team of researchers from Peru and the U.S. made a discovery that challenged one of the most widely held assumptions about rabies—that the virus is nearly always fatal unless doctors administer a vaccine before it reaches the brain. Based on the results of blood tests, the scientists learned that half a dozen villagers in a remote part of the Peruvian Amazon had previously been infected—probably through bites from vampire bats, which are common in the area

But instead of suffering the agonizing deaths for which rabies is infamous, the villagers had recovered and apparently developed immunity to further infection.
The discovery put the Peruvians on a short list of people who have survived rabies without a vaccine. The best-known member of that select group is Jeanna Giese, a Wisconsin teenager who lived through the disease in 2004, also after contact with a bat. Out of desperation, Giese's physician improvised a risky treatment that included putting the girl into a controlled coma, which apparently allowed her body enough time to destroy the microscopic intruder. Doctors have since refined the treatment, now known as the Milwaukee protocol, and tried it on at least 39 other never vaccinated patients. Five more people have survived.

The mixed success rates, and the 2012 Peruvian study, underscore how little scientists know about rabies, despite its long history as a menace to humanity. Based on accumulating evidence, though, researchers now recognize that not all rabies infections are equal or universally fatal. Many different animals, including dogs, bats, foxes and raccoons, carry various strains of the rabies virus. The varieties hosted by bats and foxes appear to be weaker, and some people's immune systems may be able to defeat them without a vaccine."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

'Ex-gay' group says it's shutting down; leader apologizes for 'pain and hurt'


A Christian ministry that led the so-called ex-gay movement, which professes to rid people of their homosexuality, has announced that it will shut down, and its leader apologized extensively to gays for causing “pain and hurt.”
The ministry, Exodus International, was founded in 1976 and claims more than 200 branches, churches and counselors in the United States and Canada. It had insisted that people could overcome same-sex attraction through prayer and therapy.
Mainstream psychiatric and medical groups have said that the movement, also known as reparative therapy, is unfounded in science and can be harmful. The American Psychiatric Association said 15 years ago that it could cause depression, anxiety and self-depressive behavior in patients.

The president of Exodus, Alan Chambers, said late Wednesday on the ministry’s website that he had “conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions” but now accepts them “as parts of my life that will like always be there.”
Addressing gays, Chambers, who is married to a woman, wrote: “You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours.”
“I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced,” he wrote. “I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change.”
He added that he could not apologize for his own biblical beliefs about sex and marriage but would not fight gays on their own beliefs or their push for rights.
In a statement, Exodus International, which describes itself as the oldest and largest group of its kind, said that its board of directors had decided to close down after a year of talking and praying about its place in a changing culture.
Polls show that a narrow majority of Americans, a steadily growing share, support gay marriage, which has been legalized in 12 states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court is preparing to rule on two landmark gay-rights cases.
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, an Exodus board member, said on the organization’s website.
Chambers, over the past year, had caused turmoil in the ex-gay movement by changing course and saying that reparative therapy could hurt gays and that there was no cure for same-sex attraction.
"I do not believe that cure is a word that is applicable to really any struggle, homosexuality included," Chambers told The Associated Press last year. "For someone to put out a shingle and say, 'I can cure homosexuality' — that to me is as bizarre as someone saying they can cure any other common temptation or struggle that anyone faces on Planet Earth."
Evan Hurst, the associate director of Truth Wins Out, a leading organization opposed to the ex-gay movement, applauded Chambers on Thursday for “honesty, integrity and authenticity.”
“It takes a real man to publicly confront the people whose lives were destroyed by his organization’s work,” he said.
"Alan Chambers, and the rest of the Exodus leadership, has fully and completely come to the realization that their so-called 'ministry' has done harm to thousands of people,” said Ross Murray, of of gay rights advocacy group GLAAD. “They are coming to the right decision to end that harm now."
California last year become the first state in the nation to ban such therapy for teens under 18 years of age. New Jersey's state legislature is weighing similar legislation.
Did you undergo therapy at Exodus International? Want to share your thoughts on Exodus' decision to shut down? You can write reporter Miranda Leitsinger with feedback: 
This story was originally published on

Friday, June 7, 2013

School prayer and the Constitution

In 1992, the Court ruled in Lee v. Weisman that prayers at public school commencements are an impermissible establishment of religion: "The lessons of the First Amendment are as urgent in the modern world as the 18th Century when it was written. One timeless lesson is that if citizens are subjected to state-sponsored religious exercises, the State disavows its own duty to guard and respect that sphere of inviolable conscience and belief which is the mark of a free people," wrote Justice Kennedy for the majority. He dismissed as unacceptable the cruel idea that a student should forfeit her own graduation in order to be free from such an establishment of religion.

Our founders wisely adopted a secular constitution, the first to derive its powers from "We, the People" and the consent of the governed, rather than claiming divine authority. They knew from the experience of religious persecution, witch hunts and religious discrimination in the Thirteen Colonies, and from the bloody history left behind in Europe, that the surest path to tyranny was to entangle church and state. That is why they adopted a secular constitution whose only references to religion are exclusionary, such as that there shall be no religious test for public office (Art. VI). There were no prayers offered at the Constitutional Convention, which shows their intent to separate religion from secular affairs.

"There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed."

- Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Weiss v. District Board, March 18, 1890

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." -James Madison

Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? (James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance," addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: The Citadel Press, pp. 459-460. According to Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, pp. 39 ff., Madison's "Remonstrance" was instrumental in blocking the multiple establishment of all denominations of Christianity in Virginia.)

"Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate."

- Ulysses S. Grant, "The President's Speech at Des Moines" (1875)

Thomas Jefferson, author of the sweeping Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, stating that no citizen "shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever..." and that to "compell a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of [religious] opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical."

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law 'respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and state."

- President Thomas Jefferson, 1802 letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut

Jefferson's Danbury letter has been cited favorably by the Supreme Court many times. In its 1879 Reynolds v. U.S. decision the high court said Jefferson's observations "may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment."

Supreme Court Cases Opposing Religious Worship in Schools

McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 212 (1948).Struck down religious instruction in public schools. The case involved school-sponsored religious instruction in which the sole nonreligious student, Jim McCollum, was placed in detention and persecuted by schoolmates in Champaign, Illinois.

Tudor v. Board of Education of Rutherford, 14 J.N. 31 (1953), cert. denied 348 U.S. 816 (1954).Let stand a lower court ruling that the practice of allowing volunteers to distribute Gideon Bibles at public school was unconstitutional.

Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962).Declared prayers in public school unconstitutional.

Abington Township School District v. Schempp, 374. U.S. 203 (1963).Declared unconstitutional devotional Bible reading and recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public schools.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S., 97, 104 (1968).Struck down state law forbidding schools to teach the science of evolution.

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980).Declared unconstitutional the posting of the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 72 (1985).Overturned law requiring daily "period of silence not to exceed one minute... for meditation or daily prayer."

Jager v. Douglas County School District, 862 F.2d 824 (11th Cir.), Cert. den. 490 U.S. 1090 (1989).Let stand a lower court ruling in Georgia that pre-game invocations at high school football games are unconstitutional.

Lee v. Weisman, 120 L.E. 2d 467/ 112 S.C.T. 2649 (1992).Ruled prayers at public school graduations an impermissible establishment of religion.

Berger v. Rensselaer, 982 F.2d, 1160 (7th Cir.) Cert. denied. 124 L.E. 2d 254 (1993).Let stand ruling barring access to Gideons to pass out bibles in Indiana schools.

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000).Barred student-led prayers at public school functions.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya the day after the attack

Rose Garden
10:43 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.
Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.
Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.
Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.
It's especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.
Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.
But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.
We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.
Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.
10:48 A.M. EDT

On CNN's "State of the Union" on September 30, Candy Crowley asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) why he thought it took the administration 17 days after the Benghazi attacks to give a "sort of definitive statement" that terrorists orchestrated the attacks.

While moderating Tuesday's debate, Crowley forgot the timeline and facts she commanded two weeks earlier, and she inexplicably took President Obama's side when Obama and Romney were arguing about whether Obama referred to the Libya attacks as acts of terror on the day after.
Romney correctly said Obama did not refer to the Benghazi attacks as acts of terror the day after. When Obama boldly lied and claimed that he had done so, Romney looked startled. Then, Crowley jumped in and said Obama had indeed said the day after the Benghazi attacks that those acts were acts of terror.
Obama did say "acts of terror" on September 12, but he was not referring to the terrorists attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, which the Obama administration tried to claim was the result of spontaneous protests in response to an obscure anti-Muhammad Internet film.
Hours later on Tuesday evening,  Crowley went on CNN and said Romney "was right in the main, but he just chose the wrong word," but the damage was long done by then.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are the Ten Commandments the basis for the first Ten Amendments to the US Constitution?

I hear this comment often, “The Ten Commandments are the structure of our Bill of Rights."

Is that right? Lets take a look at the first Ten Amendments.

I. Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition – Freedom of Religion is actually the opposite of what the Ten Commandments requires. The other aspects of the First Amendment have nothing to do with the Commandments.
2. Right to keep and bear arms – Has nothing to do with the Commandments
3. Conditions for quarters of soldiers – Nothing to do with the Commandments
4. Right of search and seizure regulated – Nothing to do with the Commandments
5. Provisions concerning prosecution – Nothing to do with the Commandments
6. Right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc. – A slight connection with bearing false witness, otherwide, nothing to do with the Commandments.
7. Right to a trial by jury – Nothing to do with the Commandments
8. Excessive bail, cruel punishment – Nothing to do with the Commandments
9. Rule of construction of Constitution – Absolutely nothing to do with the Commandments
10. Rights of the States under Constitution – Nothing to do with the Commandments.

Other than the coincidence that there were initially Ten Amendments and there are Ten Commandments, there is only one slight resemblance between the two documents, which has to do with bearing false witness. The Freedom of Religion is actually the exact opposite of what the Commandments require. Are the Ten Commandments’ the structure of our Constitution? Complete nonsense.

Change and evolution

One component of evolution that gets glossed over by creationists is the reality that the animals that exist today did not exist in the past. When you start going back over the history of animals, you see an interesting pattern. There is a groupings of animals based on geological timeframes. There are no rabbits or tigers (as well as thousands of other animals that exist today) in the Paleozoic area. So, either god is doing multiple creations, (which contradicts the bible) or there was some mechanism that brought rabbits and tigers into the picture when they were not there originally.

If the concept that change cannot turn one species into another species is accurate, then the dilemma of how these new animals came into the picture still remains. Animals that did not exist 300 million years ago exist today. Trying to get around the timeframes by claiming that the world is less than 10,000 years old, falls apart by other sciences, such as astronomy or geology. The cat kind had to exist in the first place in order for a tiger to have changed from it. And the fact is a cat kind was not around at one point. So, something else allowed tigers and all the other cat kinds to exist today when then they did not exist in the past. 

Looking at the evolution of motorized vehicles is a good example. Starting with a simple Model T car, you see that basic design expanded into motorcycles, trains, airplanes and rocket ships. Now there is obviously a different component here. Mechanical vehicles cannot reproduce themselves. Animals can. And when you look at animals, you see the same basic design that has expanded into different sizes shapes and abilities. 

Are there issues with the theory? There are aspects of evolution that are not full understood yet, no one has ever argued that it is fully understood. However, every year, the information continues to build and develop a better way of understanding the process. As with many scientific  ideas, the people who argue against evolution refuse to acknowledge that science is an ever growing body of information. They want to claim that if it cannot be explained today, then it will never be explained. ID relies on a double-standard. While Evolution scientists are expected to explain and predict everything, ID is points out issues and then triumphantly declares that evolution is wrong. When mistakes in ID are pointed out, the proponents of ID simply move to a new area of attack. When Darwin proposed his theory 150 years ago,  Darwin didn't know, for example, about the details of DNA. Just as discoveries in physics have made tremendous progress since Newton, biological evolution has come a long way in the past 150 years.  But evidence keeps confirming the general model that Darwin proposed (common ancestry, natural selection, etc.)

What people who protest against evolution fail or refuse to grasp, is that it explains the diversity we see today. No other theory can accurately make that claim. And when they say that change occurs, but there is a limit, they need to explain exactly how that limit occurs, which they never do.

Have you ever wonder why creationists sell their theories to the general public rather than trying to get them published in scientific journals? They know that they have zero scientific validity, and any real scientist would see that. "Creation Theory" has no mechanism, therefore it is not a scientific theory. It isn't a question of whether it's a good theory or a bad one. It isn't a question of whether it's better than evolution theory or worse. It's the simple fact that Creation Theory doesnot fit the requirements of a scientific theory at all. From a scientific standpoint, there is no such thing as Creation Theory; the term is simply a misnomer that people have applied to an irrational religious belief.

One of the great strengths of evolution is that many different lines of evidence each point to evolution.Amazingly, the more that scientists study these lines of evidence, the more and more the lines agree on life's exact evolutionary history. Within the accuracy available to us, we get the same history of life over and over. Have a look at the multiple lines of evidence and how they each independently suggest evolution.
Paleontology shows us that organisms have changed gradually over time, as reflected in the fossil record.
Biogeography shows us how new species only arise near very similiar species. Similar species share a common time and place.
Developmental biology shows us that an organism builds on ancestral features as it develops from a single cell.
Morphology shows us how organisms adapt ancestral features to new uses, even when there are more efficient solutions elsewhere in nature.
Genetics shows us that we can group species by similarity of genes. These groups even share unused DNA.
All these lines of evidence not only suggest that evolution happened, they also agree on the course of its history.

The new pope is cheap.

Pope Francis, who is known to be frugal, has decided that Vatican employees won't be getting the new pope bonus that traditionally comes with the election of a new pope.
In the past, the Vatican's 4,500-plus workers — both religious and lay — would receive an extra little something upon the death of one pope and another upon the election of his successor: In 2005, the total reportedly came to 1,500 euros (nearly $2,000) apiece.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that given tough economic times — the Vatican posted a 15 million-euro deficit in 2011 — "it didn't seem possible or appropriate to burden the Vatican's budget with a considerable, unforeseen extra expense."
However, given that  bankers' best guesses about the Vatican's wealth put it at $10 billion to $15 billion, it seems rather silly for the Vatican to stop providing this bonus. Afterall, it is hardly a common expense. New popes hardly are an annual event. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Are there atheist churches?

That there are atheist churches and by default, that atheism is a religion is a strange argument for a religious person to make on the face of it. Is it supposed to strengthen the atheist’s position or weaken the theist’s one? In reality it’s a sign they have run out of arguments.
Still, this argument is widely made, and so it needs to be addressed. Atheism is simply a disbelief in god(s). As someone once said, if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby. And not playing golf is a sport.
That really ought to end the discussion right there. Clearly, a mere lack of belief in something cannot be a religion. In addition, since atheism has no sacred texts, no tenets, no ceremonies, what exactly is the religious aspect of atheism?  Even theists that are making this argument already know all that.
But yet, they keep making the claim. I don’t know what they mean – I don’t read minds. So, they must be referring to certain activities of atheists – writing books and blogs, financing bus ads, joining atheist groups, etc. They think atheists are “religious in their atheism” – the word “religious” being used here colloquially to mean something felt very strongly, or followed enthusiastically. But this definition of religion is so broad that virtually anything people enjoy doing very much, or follow strongly or obsessively, is a religion. It’s a definition of religion that is so broad that it’s meaningless. In reality, most of the things that people follow enthusiastically, are just hobbies. And ironically, although not collecting stamps is not a hobby, getting involved in atheist activities (writing books and blogs, attending atheist meetings) might well be a hobby for some people. But a hobby is not a religion.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Pluto's 'Gate to Hell' uncovered in Turkey

Pluto's 'Gate to Hell' uncovered in Turkey

Francesco D'Andria
A digital illustration shows the ancient Plutonium, celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology.
By Rossella LorenziDiscovery News
A “gate to hell” has emerged from ruins in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced.
Known as Pluto's Gate -- Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin -- the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.
Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors.

PHOTOS: The Hunt for Lost Cities

“This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BC -- about 24 A.D.) wrote.
“I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell,” he added.
Announced this month at a conference on Italian archaeology in Istanbul, Turkey, the finding was made by a team led by Francesco D'Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento.
D'Andria has conducted extensive archaeological research at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis. Two years ago he claimed to discover there the tomb of Saint Philip, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.
Founded around 190 B.C. by Eumenes II, King of Pergamum (197 B.C.-159 B.C.), Hierapolis was given over to Rome in 133 B.C.

ANALYSIS: Tomb of Jesus' Apostle Found In Turkey?

The Hellenistic city grew into a flourishing Roman city, with temples, a theater and popular sacred hot springs, believed to have healing properties.
“We found the Plutonium by reconstructing the route of a thermal spring. Indeed, Pamukkale' springs, which produce the famous white travertine terraces, originate from this cave,” D'Andria told Discovery News.
Featuring a vast array of abandoned broken ruins, possibly the result of earthquakes, the site revealed more ruins once it was excavated. The archaeologists found Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld -- Pluto and Kore.
D'Andria also found the remains of a temple, a pool and a series of steps placed above the cave -- all matching the descriptions of the site in ancient sources.
“People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal,” D'Andria said.
According to the archaeologist, there was a sort of touristic organization at the site. Small birds were given to pilgrims to test the deadly effects of the cave, while hallucinated priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto.
The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead.

Top 10 Animal Mysteries and Myths Explained

“We could see the cave's lethal properties during the excavation. Several birds died as they tried to get close to the warm opening, instantly killed by the carbon dioxide fumes,” D'Andria said.
Only the eunuchs of Cybele, an ancient fertility goddess, were able to enter the hell gate without any apparent damage.
“They hold their breath as much as they can,” Strabo wrote, adding that their immunity could have been due to their "menomation," “divine providence” or “certain physical powers that are antidotes against the vapor.”
According to D'Andria, the site was a famous destination for rites of incubation. Pilgrims took the waters in the pool near the temple, slept not too far from the cave and received visions and prophecies, in a sort of oracle of Delphi effect. Indeed, the fumes coming from the depths of Hierapoli's phreatic groundwater produced hallucinations.
“This is an exceptional discovery as it confirms and clarifies the information we have from the ancient literary and historic sources,” Alister Filippini, a researcher in Roman history at the Universities of Palermo, Italy, and Cologne, Germany, told Discovery News.
Fully functional until the 4th century A.D., and occasionally visited during the following two centuries, the site represented “an important pilgrimage destination for the last pagan intellectuals of the Late Antiquity,” Filippini said.
During the 6th century A.D., the Plutonium was obliterated by the Christians. Earthquakes may have then completed the destruction.
D'Andria and his team are now working on the digital reconstruction of the site.

This is a great example of how people in the ancient world made reference to what they thought was aspects of the supernatural, but were completely natural, albeit, deadly occurrences. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

I think I know why Catholic priests molest kids.

If memory serves, even the most wacky and out-of-touch of the Pope’s statements are considered to be infallible (when issued as a solemn promulgation of dogma). Furthermore, the Holy Father regularly attracts thousands of faithful adherents, who strain to hear his every (infallible) verbal ejaculation.

I suspect that some priests misunderstand the term ejaculation is in the religious sense. Or perhaps they understand what the actual meaning is. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A few questions for Christians

I assume you think the 10 Commandments were a good thing for humanity. Why wouldn't god have provided them to Adam and Eve so that their kids would know the laws of god from the start? Since mankind became so evil that god had to wipe them all out except for the 8 people he allowed to escape on the ark, isn't it possible that if mankind had had the 10 Commandments from the beginning that man would not have been so evil? If it would not have made any difference, perhaps the 10 Commandments are not as special as Christians try to claim.

Why do the other seven people get a pass from god on being killed by the flood? Noah was supposedly blameless and god was pleased with him.Which is odd for all people were supposed born with original sin and have been sinning since they were born.  However, the other seven would have been as evil as everyone else that god decided had to be killed. Seems rather arbitrary on the part of god.

Why the flood? He can turn people into salt. Isn't that a faster and easier way to deal with the problem of humanity? Why make all the blameless animals pay a price for the sins of humanity?

Why would god put the tree of good and evil in the garden since he did not want Adam or Eve to eat from it? Especially since he is all knowing and knows they will eat from it? If his plan is that they do eat it, why is he mad? 

If Jesus is the solution to the problem that Adam and Eve created, why not have the first child of Adam and Eve be Jesus? He can die immediately and help billions avoid hell. Isn't that his goal?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Following Biden's advice gets shotgun-blasting homeowner in trouble

The vice president is a big fan of the shotgun, insisting it's a more effective deterrent than anassault weapon in the wrong hands. He even told a reporter this week that to keep intruders away from your home, "just fire a shotgun through the door." Which Trevor Snowden did that very day, claiming two men were climbing through his bedroom window and pointing guns at him to rob him. Except Shotgun Joe's advice earned Snowden a summons from Virginia Beach police for reckless handling of a firearm. Meaning it backfired. Maybe the veep's new nickname should be "Hipshot."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rumor: Next pope will be last according to doomsday 'prophecy'

12th century saint's writings are being interpreted as predicting the demise of the Roman Catholic Church and end of the world.

UNCONFIRMED: The next pope elected will be the last
Pope Benedict XVI's announcement of his resignation has been greeted with shock from many Catholics. And as the church's cardinals prepare to elect a new pontiff, NBC and the Daily Mail report that an old doomsday prophecy is making the rounds among some theologians one that predicts the downfall of the Vatican and possibly the world.
'Prophecy of the Popes'
Saint Malachy is an Irish saint who lived between 1094 and 1148 and served as the archbishop of Armagh. He is perhaps best known for supposedly penning an apocalyptic series of 112 phrases, which he claimed came to him in a vision and predicted the series of popes who would reign over the church and eventually preside over its downfall. The so-called "Prophecy of the Popes" has been pointed to by numerous doomsayers over the years in predicting catastrophe for the church.
Roughly translated from its original Latin, the Prophecy reads: "In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people. The End."
Peter the Roman
If "Peter the Roman" is to oversee the end of times, who is Peter the Roman? According to some, he could be one of the leading candidates to become pope. Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson is a member of the Catholic administrative body, the Roman Curia, and could therefore be loosely described as Peter the Roman.
'Prophecy' may be forgery
Among the many problems with the Malachy's supposed prophecy is that he may have never written it at all. According numerous sources including the New Advent's Catholic Encyclopedia, there was no mention of Malachy's writings for more than 400 years from the time it was said to have been written and 1590 when Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon published the "Prophecy of Popes." The silence about the writings from even Malachy's closest friends has led many scholars to conclude that the writings are forgeries, likely written by Wyon himself, and the Catholic Church has never embraced the writings as official doctrine.
Video: Watch an interview with the authors of a book on the 'Prophecy of Popes'

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A "perfect" plan

I have a plan. The plan will allow a few people to be eternally happy after the plan is fulfilled. These people are ones I have already decided to accept In the plan,  (The odds are I did not pick you. Too bad for you) I decided to allow my daughter to date a man. She, of course, has no vote on the issue. (Who does she think she is, God?) The man she dates kills her. I actually knew the man would kill her (I am all knowing, FYI). I decided it was best that he kill her because it was my will that he do so. Killing my daughter will allow my master plan to be fulfilled. No one actually understands my master plan or my will, but that is meaningless. I know my will. And even though my daughter had to die, she should be happy that she got to be part of my plan. Ironically she is not happy that she was killed since she cried about being killed. (Ingrate)  And even though I will not tell anyone why it was important that my daughter be killed, I guarantee to everyone it really was important. Really, really important. And if you believe my story, you get to be eternally happy. Actually, I finally decided to allow other people to explain my motives. And you should believe them too. After all  they are talking about ME. So, that means they must be telling the truth. Anyway, I was describing why people get to go to eternal happiness. Well, actually not everyone. Just the people who read my story and believe I was telling the truth. The ones who do not read my story or disbelieve my story will NEVER, EVER, EVER get to be eternally happy In fact, they will be eternally unhappy. (Trust me, it is for the best)

Now you might think I am contradicting myself. Previously, I stated I had pre-selected the people who get eternal happiness. And that is true. The only people who will believe my story are the ones I pre-selected for eternal happiness. I realize this is difficult to accept. You must take my word for it. And if I pre-selected you, naturally, you will take my word for it. 

Now, what everyone knows but no one will discuss in any serious manner is that I could have decided on any other course of action to allow people to be eternally happy. I could have decided to allow everyone to be eternally happy without anyone getting killed. (I have that power) But that is just silly. Why would I do that? Death really makes me happy. I mean really, really happy. I am not sure why. I think it has something to do with the smell of death. I really love the smell of flesh being roasted. (If that sounds odd to you, you can assume you are not one of the people I have pre-selected)

Now what is really ironic is that I also created the man who would kill my daughter. I knew before I created him that he would kill my daughter, however, I was not concerned about that. What I am concerned with is that he cut off part of his penis. It is very, very important to me that he cut off part of his penis. Now, what is confusing to some people (heretics) is that I also had the ability to create all people without the part of the penis that I want cut off. They had the audacity to ask why I did not create people without the offending penis part!!!! Obviously, I wanted people to experience the joy of cutting off body parts to know me better. (I really like people cutting off parts of their body, just in case it is not obvious) Once I asked someone to accumulate large numbers of severed penis parts. I am not sure why I did not ask that he roast them as well. Oh well, perhaps, next time. 

Anyway, all I ask is that people cut off parts of their penis and believe me when I say my daughter deserved to be killed. I really don't know why some people think that is asking too much. I hate people like that. They deserve to roast for all eternity. After all, I do enjoy the smell of roasting flesh. It is like an eternal never ending sacrifice to me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

An apologist discusses where Cain get his wife.

Apologetics 101: Evidence Supports a Biblical Young Earth–Answers some common questions, including

Where did Cain get his wife?

Read more:

Why would you assume anyone would agree to marry Cain? He was the first murderer. Supposedly, the only people who exist are the offspring of Adam and Eve. Cain has been marked by god. Can you really imagine that anyone existing at that point in time would agree to marry Cain?

Wait a minute. I know what happened. According to Mosaic Law, “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives” (Deuteronomy 22:28–29)
Obviously, Cain raped one of his sisters, in full view of others, and then paid off his parents.
God truly thinks of everything. For the man of course. He obviously does not give a rip about the woman.

As an aside, the verse states "if they are discovered". So, a rape has no ramifications if the rape is not discovered? Isn't god all knowing and omnipresent? Does not that mean that every rape has been discovered? How could anyone hide a rape from an all knowing, omnipresent deity? 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do earthquakes show that End Times are near?

On May 11, 1960, Israeli agents captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, and on May 21, he was brought back to Israel for trial. On May 23, Israel announced to the world the capture of Eichmann. He was the Nazi architect of the holocaust and was responsible for the death of over six million Jews. Eichmann was tried in Israel and found guilty of this mass murder. In 1961 he was executed.
On the day Eichmann was landed in Israel there were four fore-shocks 7.0 or greater in magnitude in Chile with the largest being 7.9. The epicenter of this 7.9 earthquake was under Concepcion which has the largest Palestinian population outside the Middle East. These four earthquakes by themselves would have been an awesome event, but they were overshadowed the next day by the massive 9.6 monster. There were five powerful earthquakes within 48 hours after the Nazi architect of the holocaust set foot on Israel! The earth was literally shaking at this time. Many of the world newspapers had the arrest of Eichmann and this earthquake on the front page together! On both the radio and TV news, these stories were back to back!. These two events had the attention of the entire world.
Front page May 24, 1960
Front page May 25, 1960
Zoom of front page May 25, 1960
What are the chances of the greatest earthquake in modern history occurring at the very time the architect of the holocaust was arrested and then both events are front page headlines around the world?

I heard this being discussed on a Christian radio station and wanted to find the source of the information. The author asks what are the chances of a great earthquake occurring when Eichmann landed in Israel. So, let us see how many earthquakes occur in the world on a daily basis.

The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The NEIC now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year.

Hmm, there are 50 earthquakes occurring on a daily basis that people who monitor this information are aware of. So, what are the odds that there would be multiple earthquakes that occurred when Eichmann landed in Israel? 100%.

You might also think that the earthquakes in question should have occurred in Israel as opposed to other places in the world, but, why quibble over the details of the story.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Why insure black people?

I put this together in a response to someone who claimed we should not insure gays since they get more diseases that heterosexual people. It was to show the absurdity of that position. I am not suggesting we should not insure black people.

The 2010 CDC report shows blacks are eight times more likely to get HIV than whites, meaning that 1 in 22 black Americans will be diagnosed with the AIDS virus in their lifetime. Black people are way more likely to get the virus that causes AIDS than Caucasians, Hispanics or Asians.

Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disorder that mostly affects people of African ancestry, but also occurs in other ethnic groups, including people who are of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent. More than 70,000 Americans have sickle cell anemia. And about 2 million Americans - and one in 12 African Americans - have sickle cell trait (this means they carry one gene for the disease, but do not have the disease itself).

Blacks who smoke up to a pack a day are far more likely than whites who smoke similar amounts to develop lung cancer, suggesting genes may help explain the racial differences long seen in the disease, researchers say.
The largest study ever done on the subject also found that Hispanic and Asian smokers were less likely than black smokers to develop the disease — at least up to a point. The racial differences disappeared among heavy smokers, or those who puffed more than a pack and a half per day.
The study involved more than 180,000 people, more than half of them minorities. Patients filled out questionnaires about their smoking habits, diet and other personal information.
Researchers from USC and University of Hawaii analyzed lung cancer cases over an eight-year period. After adjusting for diet, education and other factors, the researchers found that whites who smoked up to a pack a day had a 43% to 55% lower risk of lung cancer than blacks who smoked the same amount. Hispanics and Japanese-Americans were 60% to 80% less likely than blacks to develop the disease.

A new Alzheimer's report shows African Americans are two times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than whites.
And Hispanics are one and a half times more likely to develop the disease.

A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reveals that approximately 8,000 — and, in certain years, as many as 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. This chilling figure is accompanied by another equally sobering fact, that 93% of these murders are in fact perpetrated by other blacks. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, for example, African Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively at the hands of other African Americans.

On November 13, 2007, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) did a press release in order to give its findings on the 2006 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report. This report is an annual one in which the CDC discusses STD trends according to an individual's race and sex in reference to the general population. This year the information was given by John Douglas, the director of CDC's Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention. Sadly, for 2006, he found that the occurrences of STDs tend to be much higher amongst Blacks versus Whites.
The CDC found that in 2006 three STDs occurred more often with Blacks than Whites. The STDs in concern are gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia.
The break down goes as follows:
* The occurrence of gonorrhea in Blacks was 18 times higher than with Whites.
* The occurrence of syphilis in Blacks was roughly 6 times higher than with Whites.
* The occurrence of chlamydia in Blacks was 8 times higher than with Whites.

A new study has revealed that black girls are 50 percent more likely than white girls to suffer from the eating disorder bulimia.

The findings of the study led by researchers from University of Southern California, University of Maryland and Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona, Spain, challenge the widespread perception that bulimia primarily affects the privileged.

Asian-African girls, in particular, were found to be suffering the eating disorder.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that usually affects more Caucasians that African Americans. But recent studies suggest that for those blacks that are afflicted by MS tend to have a disease that progresses faster and does not respond that well to available therapies as compared to MS that affects whites.
Neurology researchers from the University of Buffalo studied around 567 MS patients. During the course of the study, the researchers found out through Magnetic Resonance Images of the brain showed that blacks with MS develop more damage to brain tissue and had less normal white and gray brain matter as compared to whites afflicted with the same disease.
According to Bianca Weinstock-Guttman, MD, director at the Baird Multiple Sclerosis Center in Kaleida Health’s Buffalo General Hospital and associate professor at the UB School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, "Black patients showed more brain tissue damage and accumulated brain lesions faster than whites, along with rapid clinical deterioration."

Black adults developed heart failure at a rate 20 times higher than did whites, even dying of it decades before the condition typically strikes whites, in a large multicenter study of the causes of heart disease, researchers reported.
Heart failure typically occurs in the elderly and is rare in young adults. Researchers did not expect to see much of it among the 5,115 young blacks and whites, evenly split along racial and sex lines, that they had been following to learn about causes of heart disease. But after 20 years, 27 participants in the study had developed heart failure, all but one of them black.