Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Terms, Conditions, and God-Speak 101




This one is sort of a continuation of the previous post, "Comment Policies", albeit, it dives into something else later on.

So, aside from bloggers having policies set up for guests who may want to leave a comment, there is often times a disclaimer, which is basically letting your readers know your blog's terms and conditions. Most of the time a disclaimer works to avoid liabilities. For example, to attempt to make it so that you can't be held accountable if someone relies on your website/blog content.

Another thing that might be included in the terms and conditions is a copyright notice. This lets your readers know your writings are yours and that they are protected and should not to be copied or reproduced without permission.

Okay, so bouncing around the blogoshpere the other day I linked to a blog on which the blog's owner/operator delineates some copyright terms and conditions. In part, this stated that visitors cannot download or reproduce any part of the website in any way, shape, or form, without written permission. However, it goes on to say that just linking to the website or to a specific blog post is perfectly fine.

So, if, for example, I provide a link to a blog post on the above described website, my readers can then link to it directly and read this blogger's written work(s). However, if I copy that work and paste it here without written permission, I'm apparently in violation of the site's terms and conditions, unless I've misunderstood something.

I confess that I've not taken the time to look into the legalities of it, so I will just post a link to the website and specific blog post I want to address, and then take my chances:

  http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/p/how-can-we-know-god-exists-and-if-well.html

Disclaimer: any and all type herein that is in the color red was not authored by me and I am in no way trying to take credit for it. Furthermore, nothing in this post, "Terms, Conditions, and God-Speak 101" that is in red type reflects the views of this blog/website, Boomslang's Lair.




We know God exists because we see His creation all around us ~ SBG

False. You don't know that a God exists, and claiming that that which exists is "creation" is the fallacy of begging the question, aka, affirming your conclusion in your premise. It is also an argument from personal incredulity, which is a type of argument from ignorance.

It takes this form:

1. I cannot fathom how things can exist without a creator.

2. Therefore, there's a creator


When we see a fine watch, we know that someone had to design it because it is too complicated, beautiful, and high functioning for it to have "evolved" by accident from scrap metal ~ SBG

False. If we're walking around in nature and we come across a "watch" on the ground, whether it be "fine", or a broken piece of junk, we can know that it was designed because we know that watches don't occur in nature. In other words, we can distinguish between things that occur in nature and things that do not  occur in nature. Also, not everything in nature is "complicated"; not everything in nature is "beautiful"; not everything in nature is "high functioning". Rocks can be "beautiful" for sure. But are they "complicated"? Are they "high functioning"? No and no.

As for "evolved by accident", for starters, how something evolved isn't necessarily the same subject as how it came to be. Origins is one topic; evolution is a different topic. As for "accident," creationists and ID proponents conveniently ignore the "selection" part of the process of "Evolution by natural selection."

 The same is true for the human body, the stars in the universe, and all the miracles of nature -- a Being of unlimited intelligence, power and good had to design and create these ~~ SBG 

False. Once more, calling things (or occurrences) in nature, "miracles of nature", is the fallacy of begging the question. If we observe a tapeworm hanging out of a dog's rectum, have we just witnessed a "miracle of nature"? Or is it simply nature? How about when a tsunami drowns ten thousand people? Does anyone call this a "miracle of nature"? No, of course not---it's just nature, albeit, some people do believe that bad weather is to punish people. This of course is superstition at work, and curiously, some of the worst weather in the U.S. occurs in the Bible Belt. Enough said.

God does not want to force Himself on us, so He made us with the ability to choose Him or to reject Him ~ SBG

We can still choose (or reject) an individual that we know for certain exists. In other words, we're being asked to accept God's existence on faith and we're being told that the faith is necessary, because if we knew for certain that God existed, this would somehow compromise our free will and we'd be "forced" to accept him. This is as silly as it is false. The "Divine Hiddenness of God" argument has been thoroughly debunked. On top of it all, God was making personal appearances all throughout the Bible..e.g..to "The Twelve" and to over 500 other people, and this didn't harm anyone's "free will". And yet, today the evidence we get for God is on a piece of toast or a tree trunk.

 There is no evil or darkness in God -- He is perfectly pure, holy, and just ~ SBG

False/false.

a) God created evil [Isaiah 45-7] . To bring evil into existence would require evil. To allow evil (when you can prevent it, but don't), makes you complicit.

b) to be perfectly "just" would require giving the deserved punishment each and every time, no exceptions. Thus, being merciful, aka, granting clemency, even once, precludes "perfect justice".

  So we have all broken the Ten Commandments ~ SBG

Yes? And? So, what? There is no evidence that we get morals (or ethics) from the Bible or its "Commandments". Besides, how would we even know good commandments from evil ones? What standard would you use to tell them apart? And what if God commanded Christians to kill all nonbelievers?? Would killing nonbelievers then become "good"? Is this a command that you'd obey? Be honest, now.


But God found a way to make peace between sinners and Himself. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to take the punishment that we all deserve ~ SBG

Someone taking the punishment for what someone else deserves? So much for that "perfectly just" stuff. Christianity's Substitutionary Atonement spits into the face of justice.


He paid for all our sins, past, present and future ~ SBG

Then what's the problem? A debt that is paid doesn't usually require any other actions from the debtor. But yet, for some reason in Christianity words and language never quite mean what they actually say, and in the case of Jesus taking the punishment to pay off the "sins" of the "sinner", there are clearly strings attached. Yes, strings attached, aka, conditions. So, in the end, no, Jesus didn't pay "for all our sins"; he paid for the sins of Christians, exclusively, because they are the only ones who benefit from having their sins paid. Christianity amounts to favoritism.

  No matter what good things we do, it never outweighs the fact that we are sinners and deserve to go to hell ~ SBG

And there is it again. "Sinners" deserve to go to hell. The very definition of "justice" is giving someone nothing less than what they deserve. But does God give all sinners what we are told they deserve? No. Thus, the God described in the Bible is not "perfectly just". "Justice" and "mercy" contradict one another. This is how we know that Christians create and speak their own language. Colloquial word meanings are turned on their head. Only in God-speak 101 can an individual be both infinitely merciful and infinitely just.

 It doesn’t matter to God how many bad things we have done in the past or how terrible those things were, because He knows that each of us is guilty ~ SBG

And this is exactly the reason that those who actually care about things like reason, compassion, and justice should be denouncing Christianity, a philosophy by which a serial rapist can feasibly have their crimes swept under the rug and be rewarded a never-ending life of pure, unadulterated bliss, meanwhile, a person of another faith or no faith at all who has never harmed a hair on another human being's head, gets incinerated in "hell." A rapist need only profess Christianity and accept its god into their heart, and they're good to go. Despicable. Utterly despicable. Thank goodness there's no evidence that any of it is true.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Comment Policies








As an atheist and as someone who values truth, from time to time I will check out blogs that are owned/operated by people who hold views and beliefs that run contrary to my own. Even 180 degrees to the contrary. After all, the truth has nothing to hide, so if one of our goals is to accumulate as much truth as possible, in other words, acquire as much knowledge that corresponds to reality as possible; and by extension, if it is our goal to discard as much false information as possible, that being, that which does not correspond to reality, then exposing ourselves to all sorts of views shouldn't be a problem or concern for us. In fact, if we care about truth, we should be inviting views that dissent from our own. We should invite those views, consider them, and be able to entertain the idea that they could be right views and that we could have wrong views. The quote that comes to mind is the one about being able to entertain an idea without necessarily accepting it.

But yet, conversing/associating with people who think/believe differently than we do is a big no-no for some bloggers. Anyone who blogs on a somewhat regular basis might be able to tell which blogs are run by such people, and one clue is a blogger's commenting policy, albeit an inconspicuous clue.

For those who have no comment policy or disclaimers, it's pretty much a given that comments are welcome and that comments will post without having to pass moderation. This blog, my blog, is set up that way. Since its inception, I've only had to ban one guest, but this was for reasons other than just disagreement.

For other blogs and their bloggers, the commenting policies are short and to the point. For instance, in the comment section, one blogger simply writes...

Your comments are always welcome

 Another blogger writes...


Take Some Time To Share Your Thoughts


So, again, some bloggers choose simple and to the point. With policies such as these, there is a level of trust and confidence exuded, in contrast to, say, exuding distrust and paranoia.

Now let's have a look at an example of a different kind of commenting policy...

Please be as gracious as you would like others to be to you. Thank you. Please try to keep your comments on the topic of the post you are commenting on. If there is a link to an article or podcast, or if there is an embedded video please view these before airing your views on the posting. If you clearly did not watch video/read link I may choose to remove your comment or leave your comment and then not respond to it..particularly if you have a question that is already answered on link or video. Opposing viewpoints are of course allowed here, however, I will limit such discussions to two or at most three further comments on one topic, so do try to get all your criticisms in while keeping that in mind, and don't take it personal.... I just don't want to be bogged down with a constant barrage of replies that go and on like a dog chasing it's(sic) tail in circles.

While it starts off on the right foot, it slowly dive-bombs. Instead of confidence and trust, it exudes an air of superiority, a la, 'I know I'm right, so I won't waste my precious time with you if you don't agree with me.'

Notice that four sentences in, they state, "If you clearly did not watch video/read link[SNIP]"

I would just love to know from this person how they are able to "clearly" know that someone didn't read a link and/or watch a video that they posted, other than that their guest might simply disagree with the conclusions. I mean, it's a sad day if we're not allowed to disagree with some damned YouTube videos, isn't it? Yes, because otherwise, we'd have to believe claims that the world is shaped like a pancake and that large-footed community apes are prancing around in people's backyards.

Moving on, we see a veiled admission that this particular blogger is not good at defending their beliefs with written language. Either that, or they're a lazy-ass. I mean, they're only going to allow and respond to two comments that disagree with their views? Maybe three if they're feeling motivated that day? Good grief.........::eyeroll::

Then, most amusing of all, this person, the one that wrote, "Please be as gracious as you would like others to be to you", caps off their disclaimer with some ad hominem, writing, more or less, that they just don't want to be burdened with having to deal with views that don't agree with their own. You know, views that amount to a dog chasing its tail. How "gracious", right?

I don't know about anyone else, but I see right through the arrogance and inflated sense of confidence exuded in this mindset. What I see is a person who will avoid having to defend their beliefs like the plague, not because doing so would be too time consuming and/or off-putting, but because they know deep down that their beliefs are a house of cards that will crumble from the slightest draft.

It's strange, because those with religious convictions are often the ones with such attitudes, but imagine how many people would be missing out on their profound intellect and wisdom. Imagine how great of a ministry tool it would be for such people to actually use their intellect and wisdom to engage those whom they call "lost".

Lost?







(it stings!)


 


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Make Fat thy Bones; Make Thick thy Head









Okay, okay, so, yes, I probably need to disclaim my usage of scripture, since, as a *former believer, I no longer believe scripture is of a "Divine" origin. The bible isn't and never was "inspired" by any "Perfect" or "Divine" beings, and the fact that said book is chock-full of contradictions, scientific blunders, and overall crummy advice, is all the evidence that any person conducting an **objective evaluation of the Christian faith needs to know this. And sure, one could argue that parts of scripture could be inspired by God, and others, not, but that's not what the Bible claims, plus, a perfect being inspiring anything less than perfection is utterly nonsensical.

*former believer.

For anyone skeptical of the term "former believer", please take note of the following:

Former: 1. [attributive] Having previously been a particular thing

(ref: Oxford Dictionary)

Example: Jimmy previously believed that Santa Claus had a referent in reality. Jimmy no longer believes that Santa Claus has a referent in reality.

Applied to the topic at hand: Boomslang was previously a Christian who previously believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God. Boomslang is no longer a Christian, and by extension, Boomslang no longer believes that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

**objective evaluation

Objective. adj 1. Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

(ref: Oxford Dictionary)

Example: When examining the truth claims surrounding the ancient Egyptian gods, historians tried their best to be objective and impartial, and thus, they were prepared to accept the findings even if they hated those findings. 

Applied to the topic at hand: When examining the truth claims surrounding God, Jesus, and the Bible, Boomslang tried to be objective and impartial, and thus, was prepared to accept the findings even if he hated those findings. 



Note, my apologies if it seems like I'm being extremely meticulous with my wording and sardonic in demeanor, but it's for a good reason. Please bear with this former believer  :)

Okay, since it is Christians, not atheists, not agnostics, not people of other religious faiths, who are bound by the writings/teachings of "Christ", then the words of their "Christ" apply to them. 

In other words, my directing a Christian to their own teachings doesn't require that I, too, believe in their Christ or their Christ's book. I know it might seem like a really unnecessary thing to have to point out, but unfortunately, people have tried this sort of  "Gotcha!" argument before, haven't they? Yes, they have. But I digress.

Here in Matthew 15:8, Christians..i.e.. "these people" are being rebuked by Jesus for only paying lip service to his teachings instead of living said teachings. Did you catch that? Jesus is disappointed when self-professed Christians honor his teachings with their eyes 'n ears, but not with their mouths and keyboards.

For instance, say, like when Christians judge others. Since when do we put credence in a lecture on sin when the lecturer herself is a sinner?

We've heard it before: "Jesus HAS THIS under His control!". They say this, but then they proceed to claim to know what's best for other people, or more outrageous, they claim to know the personal experiences of other people better than the people themselves? What's up with that bull ca-ca? 

Oh, and if only God can know a person's heart, then why do some Christians pretend like they, too, can know another person's heart, whether that person is a current believer, or former believer, or whatever? And speaking of knowing what Christians cannot possibly know, why, oh why, for those Christians who are quick to give mini-sermons on "free will" do they often times in the next breath say things like, "Once saved, always saved!"?? What? once I accept Jesus into my heart I can't change my mind and conclude that "He" was never there to begin with?  So much for that "free will" malarkey.

And if a believer who struggles with his or her faith ultimately loses that faith, isn't God, who is presumably sovereign, knows what's best, and has a Plan, the one IN CONTROL?!? If so, why not give it a rest and just let him be control already? Why do self-professed Christians who believe in a God that decides everything, read....EVERYTHING, regardless of the will of man, spend their time writing blog posts that second-guess this God? Especially given verses like, "Blessed be God who hath blessed us in Christ, according as He hath chosen us before the foundation of the world".

If God elected who he wanted to elect from the onset, then his mind is already made up and he cannot change it. Meanwhile, you'll find some denominations of Christianity, such as Lutherans and Calvinists, happy to talk at length about what you need to do or avoid to make the cut. Um, no. Stop it. Just stop it.

So, the long and short of it is, maybe there are some people who aren't "true Christians" either in their hearts, or their minds. These things I point out, these pesky attributes and tenets, and so forth, this isn't stuff I'm pulling out of my hindquarters. No, these are things that are confirmed by the Christian book and by the Christian's own words---by their own blog posts.  And yes, taking one's own advice is always a good move, but this isn't just about taking one's own advice; it's about taking the advice of an individual that you claim to love, worship, revere, follow

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Selective Design: Revisiting the Theory (and fact) of Evolution






It's chilly and rainy outside here on Florida's West coast, so it's a good day to stay inside and revisit an old topic.

On social media a friend and former colleague posted a video depicting a snake-mimicking caterpillar that inhabits Peru, South America and surrounding countries. When agitated or threatened, this caterpillar, which is the larva of a Sphinx Hawk Moth (Hermeroplanes Triptolemus), pulls its legs in and turns its hindquarters upside down, and the result highly resembles a snake. But not just any snake(and this is key), it resembles a green tree viper. Why is this important? It's important because said viper is a snake that also inhabits that region. This is evolution, aka, adapting to one's environment, in action.

Anyway, I remarked that this was an example of evolution underneath this friend's post, and lo and behold, someone retorted...."Now THAT is intelligent design. Awesome."

Since I had a pretty good feeling that my friend would jump in at any time, I watched and waited, and sure enough, the author of the I.D. comment was challenged by way of comparison, in this case, having it pointed out to him how the human eye, which is presumably "designed" by the same "Designer", falls way short of "perfection". And of course, my friend makes a good and fair point when pointing this out.

It also begs this question: If this caterpillar's defense mechanism is an example of "awesome" design, then can we conclude that any caterpillar that does not or cannot mimic a viper, and subsequently gets eaten by predators in nature, is an example of poor design? If not, why not? Why the double standard?

So, the mistake that I.D. proponents make is that they look at what they call "design" in nature, selectively. This of course is a form of cherry-picking. That is, they look at all the astonishing and/or advantageous attributes of things found in nature and insist the credit must to an "Intelligent Designer", while totally ignoring the seemingly odd or downright shoddy "design" that is also seen in nature. Ironically, this even includes us homo sapiens, who we are to believe are the "crowning jewel" creation of the supposed "Designer".

Let's see, eyesight that craps-out midlife. Intelligent design? A breathing passage that's right next to a passage for swallowing food and water? Organs and teeth that we don't even need? A "tailbone"? Intelligent?

But anyway, when challenged, the I.D. proponent, aka, creationist - because let's face it, what we're talking here is "creationism" all gussied up - resorts to ad hominems and victim-playing. After multiple exchanges, he finally writes....

"These posts can go on for days. I'm just not that interested in putting people down because of their beliefs".

Not surprisingly, not one of the three other people in the conversation put him down. But of course, these are the sorts of things said when someone knows they've been defeated, or at least, it's the sort things said when someone can't produce evidence to back their biblical views. Emphasis on "their", since the views of believers seem to be as unique as fingerprints. In any case, this was no exception, and yet, ironically, we were told that we must not know anything about religion when the subject shifted to the bible.

In this particular case, this Christian accepted that things evolved within their "kinds", but he kept shifting to the whole "something from nothing" argument, which is not related, since one topic deals with origins; the other topic, diversity.

The bible unambiguously delineates that animals that "crawl on the ground" were created as is. Genesis doesn't mention anything about bugs or insects "evolving," much less how some of them developed the wherewithal to mimic deadly snakes. But yet, believers will cite certain passages, then they'll extrapolate until it ends up supporting what they want to believe(and by extension, ignore what they don't want to believe).

This is how apologetics work. But in the end, the I.D. guy was right about one thing, that is, these sort of posts can go on for days. What doesn't go on for days is the part where disingenuous tactics are used. There is no mystery here. A dose of facts usually nips that part in the bud. No one is fooled except for those fooling themselves.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Because You Earned It...



Leave it to Betty Bowers to give the perfect and timely response to those making a fuss about certain athletes who...::gAsP::....kneel for the National song.

But scathing sarcasm aside for the moment, there are a few bottom lines we should all be able to agree upon:

1. one either supports another's freedom to not only hold dissenting views, but for them to be able to peacefully protest in support of those views, or one does not support that freedom. (IOW, you either support the 1st Amendment, or you don't)

2. none of us did anything..e.g...none of us worked toward, filled out applications, or did anything else, to be born in the country in which we originated. (IOW, it makes zero sense to be proud of something that we played no role whatsoever in obtaining)

Now I give you Betty Bowers.....



Friday, September 08, 2017

Atmospheric Science: The Cover Up


Riddle me this:


Why would someone trust the information in this satellite photo....




but not this satellite photo.....






?


Today, September 8th, 2017, it is a beautiful, warm, sunny day here on Florida's West coast. Perfect beach weather! The type of weather for which snowbirds("snowbirds" = Florida slang for tourists from the North) flock here in the upcoming winter months.

If not for the weather forecasts and the institutions behind them..e.g....International Space Station, NASA, etc., you wouldn't in a million years think that looming in the Atlantic Ocean right now is a monstrous, category 5 hurricane heading directly toward Florida. And yet, millions of people are taking heed and trusting the atmospheric physics and chemistry behind the meteorology.

So, what gives? Why then are there some people who don't trust these same sources when it comes to, say, the shape of the earth? In image 2 you can plainly see the curvature of the earth. Normally the apologetic from flat-earthers is that NASA, and by extension, every other space administration globally, is part of a huge cover up to hide the true shape of the planet that we inhabit. In other words, they contend that the photos that show a spherical planet are "fake".

Of course, not once have I heard a credible reason for why they would be hiding the true shape of the earth, but this is part and parcel with conspiracy theorists..i.e..never connecting the dots.

In the meantime I think I will but my faith in the atmospheric sciences. And by "faith", I mean it in the colloquial sense, not the religious sense. The former, of course, is based upon a proven track-record and this is why I trust it, while the latter is not, which is why I do not trust it.                                                                                                                                             

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Suds - Psychic - Songs



Okay, I can get on board with some suds, specifically, an ice cold bottle of  Negra Modelo with a squeeze of lime. And of course, being a musician I can get on board with some songs, as long as those songs aren't Folk or Country songs, and this goes doubly for today's Country music. But I digress. This could be for a whole discussion of its own.

What I cannot get on board with, though, are charlatans. It's especially awkward to see that a former classmate has fallen into this line of work, which means that at some point they either knowingly set out to prey on people when they are at their most vulnerable, or they have been duped (self-deceived) into believing that they have special powers. I would venture a guess that the later scenario is much less common than the former. Either way, on the top of a list of the most likely explanations for when seers, mediums, psychics, and clairvoyants, etc. get "hits" - for instance, when the personalities of our dearly departed loved ones meet up at a TV studio, or in this case, a tavern, to reconnect with their living relatives back here on earth - this is because the "medium" has used cold reading techniques, a la, "I'm sensing someone here lost a loved one to illness........either a Mary, or a Marvin? I'm getting an 'M' coming through. Anyone know a Mary, or a Marvin, or a Melissa, or a Mark who passed away?"

To the rational-minded it is clear what is really taking place, here. Anyway, I saw the above ad on social media a few weeks back, and since I went to Junior High School with this person I thought about striking up a conversation. Then I thought, nah, better to just remember her as the cute girl with hip hugger bell bottoms from back in the day. It's not that I don't still think this sort of thing ultimately does more harm than good, not to mention it gives organized religion a leg-up; I still firmly believe this. It's just that I'm trying to pick my battles a little more selectively these days, which I confess is not easy, especially given the current state of affairs in American right now.