Secularize This

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Your Days are Numbered

Okay, Genesis explains to us that it took seven days for God to create everything from the spiraling galaxies in the sky to the grass in my back yard.  We can also find later on in this collection of fables that Jesus went into the desert for forty days and was tempted by the devil with food but did not eat (Luke 4:1-2).  When presenting the question on creationism versus evolution creationists tend to use the arguement that a day for God could be different for us, but is Jesus not God?  How can forty days be measured significantly different than seven days?  Either the time keeping of the time was inaccurate because Rolex and Bulova were not around in Switzerland yet or we can take it for what these are, myths.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A State in Denial

It is difficult to turn on any "news source" today and hear radicals screaming that our Founding Fathers intended that we be a Christian Nation and that we should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.  In this posting, I am going to debunk the ideas that our Founding Fathers intended this land to be governed under a cross.  These men were free thinkers and were above the brainwashing that is known as organized religion.  The reason for the First Amendment stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."  These men understood what brainwashed religious fanatics were capable of, Europe had endured hundreds of years of witch hunts ending the lives of countless innocent individuals.  The Spanish Inquisition sought to rid the Spanish territory of any religions that were not Catholic.  Both of these practices made their ways across the Atlantic Ocean, most famously depicted in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.  We can go back even farther to the Crusades that were lead into the Holy Land.  All of these deplorable actions done in the Name of God.

Thomas Jefferson is one of the most revered individuals in the history of these United States.  He was the young politician from Virginia that the Continental Congress called upon to draft the Declaration of Independence.  He was not a federalist and believed firmly in states' rights.  He would fit right in with the GOP today; he had sexual affairs with his assistants (slaves), denounced "big government" supporting states' rights, but also denounced Christianity, that maybe a problem for today's politicians.  Thomas Jefferson, our third president, the architect of the Declaration of Independence, the second face on Mount Rushmore and the one who is embossed on our nickle said "I do not find in orthodox Christianity on redeeming feature".  This is not a very supporting fact for calling the United States a Christian Nation.  Jefferson actually saw organized religion as a threat to society; he wrote the following in a letter to Horatio Spafford on March 17, 1814 "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot...they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefor the safer engine for their purpose."  Jefferson understood that religion was poison to a free society because of the fear that the based their practices on.  If the United States was truly to be free, the government could not establish a national religion.  "It has been fifty or sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and then I considered it the ravings of a maniac."  He understood that the Bible was written by man to induce fear among the followers of Christ so that they would not stray from the path.  "I have recently been examining all the superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature.  They are all alike founded on fables and mythology".  "We discover in the gospels a groundwork for vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication".  These words do not provide evidence of this Nation intending to be a Christian Nation.

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches".  This rant came from one of two men found on American currency that were never elected president, Benjamin Franklin.  The great thinker was against established religion as well.  Not necessarily denouncing a supreme being, but saw many flaws in the establishment as it was.  In an 1728 publication Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, Franklin stated "I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it".  Franklin also pointed out the lack of evidence of God's judgement "I looked around for God's judgment and saw no signs of them" for he thought that "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye to reason" and Franklin was not about to close of reason in any way, shape or form.

John Adams was a friend of Thomas Jefferson during the founding of our nation and later on as they both retired from politics. Adams was our second president succeeding George Washington after he stepped down after two terms.  In a letter to Jefferson, Adams shares a feeling about Christianity with his dear friend; "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross.  Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"  Adams saw religion as a hindrance on advancing a society; "The question before the human race is, whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?"  and "God is an essence that we know nothing of.  Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world." finally "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.  Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity."

These are the traits that I want in my elected leaders.  I do not want my leaders to be blinded by faith as put by Mr. Franklin.  I want leaders like Abraham Lincoln who Supreme Court Justice David Davis said "He had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term-- he had faith in laws, principles, causes and effects".  I want a leader that can look objectively at everyday life and look for a real answer rather than saying "It's God's Will".  Just because Christianity happens to be the majority religion on this continent does not mean that our Founding Fathers intended to have Christianity as a national religion.  We separated ourselves from the British Crown which had an established state religion and saw the persecution endured by non-followers.  The Pilgrims came to America in refuge of the Crown.  Why would we go from one bad situation to another?  I will leave you this evening with one final quote from Mr. Jefferson from a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper in 1814.  "Christianity neither is, nor ever was, part of the Common Law."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who needs a Secret Decoder Ring?

Let's take a look at the contradictions posed to us by the GOP.  The GOP majority in the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill prohibiting the transmission of offensive images and the governor, a member of the GOP, signed the bill into law.  The question underlying this is who is the one that deems an image offensive.  The highest court in these great United States have time and time again ruled that expression and art are protected under the First Amendment with the freedom of speech.  Essentially this law is in direct violation of our rights that have been in place for nearly two and a half centuries.

Now, let's look at the Second Amendment, a favorite of the GOP, the right to bear arms.  The amendment reads as follows; "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  The same high court, the third branch of this experiment we call a republic, uses this to give people right to own firearms.  The militias of yesteryear have now been transformed into the National Guard.  I'm for certain that everybody that owns a gun is not a serving member, or a veteran, of the armed forces.  This amendment clearly states that "a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" this does not mean EVERYBODY.

With the availability to a massive amount of firearms in the United States, guns are bound, and have, fallen into the wrong hands causing harm, even death, to people in unnecessary fashions.  While the GOP fully supports everyone to have a gun in their hands, they adamantly oppose abortion.  A woman has every right to choose what they want to do with their body.  GOPers believe that a fetus is a living creature and abortion is death.  Yes, abortion ends a pregnancy, but guns also lead to death.  Why the double edged sword?  Is it because you believe that once a fetus is born and is developed into a voting citizen that they will vote for you so you want to protect every right that they have?  Why is it that Scott Peterson is charged with double homicide when he killed his pregnant wife?  The fetus was still in the womb.  Or do you protect the right to bear arms to allow for Christian extremists to reign terror on the ones who perform abortions?  Who is man to say that they can wield the sword of God to do God's Will?  We are but man, we are the highest intelligence that we know of in this corner of the universe and yet so, so, sooo dumb.  God does not have everything written down in a book saying that this will happen at such and such time, no.  We are all made of atoms on the molecular level and orbiting the nucleus of those atoms are electrons.  Their orbits are unpredictable and their unpredictability leads to countless outcomes of scenarios.  As a man is laying in a field outside the house of an abortion doctor with his rifle in hand taking aim through the scope, countless electrons are traveling through the neurons of that man's brain.  Countless thoughts are triggering; "Do I shoot?  What becomes of my family if I'm caught?  What becomes of this killer's family when he's dead?  Who else will avenge the countless lives he's taken?  I am justifying God with this action..." and he pulls the trigger, he could have easily thought more along the lines of the reality of jail and not being able to support his family, but the blindness of faith and religion overwhelmed reality.

The Bible states that God is the ultimate judge, but what happens when individuals play God on Earth?  The most ridiculous statement in any language is "I killed in the name of God".  The Crusades were launched in the name of God, the Spanish Inquisition was in the name of God, even the one who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin said he killed in the name of God.  God is taught to be a loving individual.  People today that say they hear God need to see a doctor because their brainwashing from years of indoctrination in organized religion has blinded them from understanding what true schizophrenia is and endangers society.

The bottom line is that morality is separate from religion.  Our politicians SHOULD NOT mix religion and politics.  Our Founding Fathers knew this and that is why they state in the First Amendment that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.  They understood that organized religion makes people crazy and societies unstable.  Religion is the one thing that a society will hold onto dearly with no evidence of a deity, only the idea of punishment in the afterlife.  It is a similar practice that we do with children; if children don't behave they are punished.  We are all individuals and each have the right to think for ourselves.  We all need to take responsible for the actions we cause in this realm for this realm is true, it is real.  I have tangible evidence everyday when I hug my kids and kiss my wife.  I can hear the thunder outside and feel the rain fall on my head.  This is real, this is chemistry, biology and physics all working simultaneously.  We need to take what we have for what it is, we don't need to bend the rules to make them say what we want, this is what causes polarization in society.

A picture is worth a 1000 words...

This week, the state of Tennessee has seemingly come closer to a totalitarian regime.  There has been a range of unnecessary laws that have been passed, recently making it illegal to share passwords for online media services (Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, etc.) and now it is illegal to send pictures that could be deemed offensive.  Supporters of this bill state that this is in place to curve harassment and prevent emotional distress.  Here's the thing, offensiveness is entirely objective.  Me being agnostic, I could find a picture of Jesus Christ dying on the cross "for my sins" offensive.  Why would I want to see a man (yes, a man, not a supernatural deity) suffer in agony?  This man was tortured, thorns driven into his skull, whipped countless times and then metal spikes driven into his forearms and feet to keep him suspended until his body gave out.  This image I see is highly offensive.  Or, what about the most popular animal on the internet, cats.  I could be an ailurophobic individual and risk emotional distress just by opening my emails that have been forwarded to me.

There is media on the internet that does need policing, heinous acts that are dispicible in nature like child pornography, decapitation, violence driven by hate like "smear the queer".  None of this has a place in a civil society, digital or not.  This is where the true policing belongs.  We cannot let Lady Liberty's panties get in a wad over a picture of a penis that may have been tweeted out.  My First Amendment right gives me the freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech is the same as expression.  Pictures are a form of expression, just like any other form of art.  Raising a smoke screen stating that this is to avoid "emotional distress" is ludicrous.  This is a direct violation of the 6 million plus citizens that reside in Tennessee.

This act is a waste of time and money for Tennesseans.  Harassment is harassment, and the harassee has every right to contact their local authorities to file harassment complaints.  If the harasser has to resort to pictures being sent via email or multimedia message than the other forms of harassment have more than likely already been exhausted.  If it has escalated to a point such as this, why hasn't the harassee taken action to try and get the harassment to stop?  Let a crime be a crime.  If we continue to itemize every little detail that can and cannot be done in our society, Big Brother is watching you.  We continue to allow our elected officials to make bass-ackwards laws such as these and we continue to reelect them based on political association.  This is the first time in Tennessee that the Republicans have had a majority in both the state house and senate since Reconstruction, and now they are doing a great job of playing Big Brother and contradicting the ideals of the GOP of saying less government.  I have to thank my good friend for the final picture and a message to the General ASSembly in Nashville.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

One Soldier vs. an Army

Yesterday, the world lost a true visionary. Dr. Jack Kevorkian passed away at the age of 83. Dr. Kevorkian ruffled a lot of feathers with his work of assisting terminally ill patients that elected in their own free will that it was their time to go. They did not want to endure anymore suffering and did not want to put their families through anymore hardships. Dr. Kevorkian was a pioneer in the world of medicine, and yet, more than two decades later only a few states now allow assisted suicide.

Yes, there is a moral dilemma about this topic. Doctor's take an oath to treat patients and prevent disease. Part of the Hippocratic Oath states that "I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick." Prolonging the life of someone that is terminally ill opens the flood gates to extreme medical costs with doctor visits, hospital stays, even surgeries just to try and make the patient comfortable and prolonging the inevitable. If someone, of sound state of mind, elects to end their suffering, we as a society owe that to the individual. Why just let them wither away in a hospital bed (increasing medical bills) and give them a button to dose them with morphine (that is only limited to so much and does not always take away the pain)? Is this the humane thing to do, is this the ethical thing to do or is this the capitalistic thing to do?

When we have pets that have gotten to a certain age where they become riddled with cancerous tumors, start going blind, or cannot control their bowels or bladder, we as the pet owners have to take that long drive to the veterinary office and make that call for euthanasia because it is the humane thing to do. We don't prolong the suffering of our fellow living creatures (created by God if you believe that). One argument is that God has the final say on when we die. If that is the case, aren't we playing god when we make the decision to put our beloved pets down? It's nothing easy to witness if you're truly attached to your pet, I can only imagine what it would be like for someone doing this to their kin. Genesis 1:26 states that "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

This is not a topic to split hairs on. This is my body, I own my body. Nature gave the this body to do as I will with it. There are healthy and non-healthy things I can consume. There are helpful drugs and harmful drugs that I can partake in, but all of them are my choices. Assisted suicide is not a matter of vanity, ethics or morality. It is up to the individual that is enduring the suffering and to have them discuss it with their loved ones who are enduring the suffering by proxy. The closest we have today, in most areas, to assisted suicide is "pulling the plug". This is where all life support measures are turned off and the patient is drugged to "provide comfort". I recently saw this first hand with my mother in law passing at the end of March this year. When they turned off the respirator, the doctor said "if she appears to be struggling for air, let us know so we can give her more drugs". The tone he said this with was cold and unwelcomed. I'm not saying that my mother in law would have wanted to use assisted suicide, she loved life and loved seeing her grandchildren grow up to become their own personalities. But there are countless others out there that are struggling, suffering through the pain of terminal illness that have no medical hope to get better and yet, they are forced to suffer until "God" chooses to take them from this Earth. God gave dominion to man over the entire earth, over every creature on the earth. Man is a god created creature, we should have the same end of life privileges that we grant our family pets. Thank you Dr. Kevorkian for your outlook on life and how to help loved ones pass on peacefully. You will be missed.

Deep Fried Dung

So here's the scene.  After winding down from work on Friday night, I get to bed about 3:30 - 4:00 in the morning.  Once the sun comes up I'm waking up about every hour or so, not the greatest of sleep.  My wife and kids decide to start attacking me around 10:30 or so to get up for the day.  We decide to go out and enjoy the afternoon as a family and grab lunch at a family friendly establishment.  We start driving around town throwing out ideas for lunch to go to, nothing sounded good, so we cross state lines into Kentucky.  We drive miles down a two lane state highway, highway 79, heading into Guthrie then into Russellville.  The few houses along the route are outnumbered by the silos there storing the grain from the countless acres of wheat and corn fields along the route.  We pass the sign "Welcome to Russellville, Kentucky. est. 1798" and we are in a quaint little town riddled with houses that have either reached, or are getting ready to pass, the century mark.  To the right is a large, elegant cemetery with old headstones hidden by the newer, larger headstones.  To the left is Adelle's Southern Gourmet Food.  We'd been driving now for about 40 minutes or so and figured it was time to stop and grab some lunch.  Enter family stage left.

The building appears to have been a lodge of some sort before with the setup on the inside.  The inside was recently modeled with large 3x3 granite tiles on the floor and cherry wooden tables and chairs.  There was one other table occupied as we entered, so not too busy at all.  We go in and place our orders, everybody enjoying themselves.  Fried dill pickles were great, steak was tender and catfish was not dry.  A great place to eat with nice and friendly service.  It is at this time that the dining experience becomes a bit more interesting.  As we are finishing up our meals and debating if we want to get puddin' pie, another couple in their late 30s or early 40s walk in and sit a couple tables away from us.  The woman sits facing us and the gentleman sits with his back.  After they order their drinks, he seems uncomfortable and moves to the chair next to him, seeming to position himself farther away from us.  We then hear the woman say "stop it, she's here with her family trying to have a good time.  Let it go."  Before their drinks are brought out, they get up and leave.

For those of you who do not know, my wife is a Pagan.  She has been practicing Paganism for most of her life.  Just like most Christians, she is proud of her religion and her beliefs and is not afraid to express herself.  Some Christians have a cross hanging from a chain around their neck or some other form of apparel advertising their beliefs.  My wife proudly wears a pentagram (a five pointed star enclosed in a circle) to express her religion.  It is a common misconception that this is a sign of the Devil.  On the contrary, Pagans don't believe in the Devil so they don't have a symbol for him.  Christians link the idea of Devil worship with pentagram and Paganism because of true misunderstanding.  Paganism was practiced millenia before Christianity was a twinkle in God's eye.  Satanists are more Christian than Pagans; without Christ there is no Satan.  So to invoke fear into the Christians, Satanists take what is old and not quite understood and incorporate them in their "rituals".

It's sad to see intolerance still thriving in our society.  I don't know if this guy thought that since we were so close to a graveyard that my wife was going to invoke the spirits of the dead to come haunt him.  I can see his great grand pappy turning in his grave because if this had been 1963, it would have been my wife and family that would have been rejected service and the ignorant Cracker would have been able to stay and feel safe in his little closed box.  So John Boy, if you ever come across this blog (I don't know if Russellville, KY has internet or not) try to keep an open mind about people, they can surprise you at times.  We can only come out of the dark ages of ignorance and become enlightened with the truth of knowledge.