Monday, December 18, 2006

Blowing This Turkey Dump

Following FP's lead, and moving this crap to Wordpress. Check it out.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why Atheism Always Loses

No affiliation, no iconography, no language.

It's more than just not having a club; atheism is wholly not an organization. While atheists may be referred to as a group, no real group exists, nor will ever form. Small collectives of determined intellectuals, no doubt, may give lie to that statement, but not in sufficient numbers to be of concern, numbers theism can muster with ease. Groups form around beliefs, and atheism is emphatically not about belief. It's about disbelief, and that is very different.

What's your next tattoo going to be? Piece of jewelry? How will you decorate your home? What will be the central theme of the greatest examples of architecture in your town? Utilitarian? Yeah, right. For the big time bang-for-your-buck oh-gosh effect, it's hard to beat religious and mystical imagery. We want to see the symbols and glyphs of magical other-worlds. We want to imagine the suffering of our savior. We want our hearts filled with the hope of unfulfillable promises. We love that kind of stuff. We really do. The more ridiculous it is, the better we like it.

Dogma charges the images initially, then we attach our own meanings and associations. In this way the icons take on a life of their own: starting out as nothing more than a few squiggles carved by savages millennia ago and ultimately forming the perfect imaginary vessel in which to preserve all our imaginary notions.

OMG! Even the ruthless and unstoppable destruction of language that is the Internet can't lessen the value of invoking a deity as an exclamation! The reptilian appeal of the god concept satisfies on a gut level during moments of passion that no amount of logic or factual evidence will ever be able to touch.

And the books are important, too. All the theisms have their central text and it goes without saying that no central text for atheism exists, nor will one ever.

Atheism is indefensible. Saying that no war will ever be fought in atheism's name, though perfectly true, implies a false predicate: that atheism has a name. It doesn't. Atheism will never assuage our fears of the unknown, never tell us that we're special, never justify our over-zealous love/abject hatred of ourselves and one another. It's a concept as difficult to understand as the zero must have been for the ancient Greeks. And the popular intellect will never, ever be able to grasp it; nor will they want to.

Atheism is dead.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Too Funny

Picture of Santorum Losing with his whole fam-damily gathered 'round. via http://whatdoiknow.org/

Loving the cross between stupefied-amazement and rectal over-tension that Specs is wearing on the right. But Mom's Jimmy Cagney sneer is awesome, too.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Bring The News

I am happy to speak to you today about a profound milestone in human history.

Many millennia ago, the human looked up to the sky for the first time and was confused. Such a vast and dazzling unknown spread out so wide, so far, where does it go? From where did it come? The sun's nurturing heat guided our aimless wanderings through long days of discovery. At night, though we knew not where we were going, the moon's great beacon of light guided us on our long journey through the darkness. We put our faith in the heavens, high above and mysterious, and the heavens lead us unfailingly to the joyous daybreak at the end of our long night of confusion.

With our natural inclination to anthropomorphize, we gave that unknown a name. We depended on it in the morning, we thanked it in the afternoon, by nightfall we were praying to it. With our natural disinclination to consistency, we called it by many different names, and over time we even came to expect that it would save us in our hour of need.

Many thousands of years later, we are still confused. Many thousands of years later, we are still sadly crippled by the manacles of messiahs that never come, messiahs we can only read about in the books we wrote, hoping with all our hearts that simply committing our wishes to paper will somehow make them come true. Many thousands of years later, we still live on our lonely, little planet of isolation amidst the vast cosmos of association, walking in tiny circles, hoping that by ritualizing our failures we will somehow transform them into successes. Many thousands of years later, the human still languishes in its confusion, a slave to its faith, ready to murder its own kind rather than give up its beliefs. And so I speak today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense I want to cash a check. I have seen the promissory notes of the priests, the glib promises of the prophets, the ready reassurances of the rabbis, and it is obvious today that theism has defaulted on all of these promises. It is obvious today that theism never had the capital to write these checks in the first place. It is obvious today that all the beliefs in theism's tiny world will never amount to anything but shackles for the human race, never amount to anything but palliative reassurances on our pathetic frustrations, never amount to anything but a few hopeful words to whisper against the rising tides of our own confusion. Fortunately, sufficient funds exist in the great vault of opportunity that is the universe, if only we have the courage to seize them.

I speak to you today to alert you to the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the sopor of agnosticism, or to ingest the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to cast off the retarding veil of piety and realize the real promises of awareness. Now is the time to rise up from the dark, desolate valley of faith to the sunlit path of rational consideration. Now is the time to lift our species up from the quicksands of fantastic beliefs to the rock solid road of discovery. Now is the time to make theism just an early chapter in the continuing saga of the human species.

It would be fatal for the world to overlook the urgency of the moment. Note the swirling cesspools of faith-based ethnic cleansing, the world leaders/imperious sycophants conducting their war crimes with pious protection, the confused jihadis destroying their lives and the lives of others for empty promises and illusory rewards. This sweltering summer of legitimate discontent will not end until there is an invigorating autumn of awakening. Two thousand and six is not an end, but a beginning. Let the seeds of reason be planted so that we may reap the winds of change and pass through this dark time as the hurricane of revolt shakes the foundation of our society and blows open the doors to a sane, new world.

I speak today also of tolerance. Those of us who would stand on the warm threshold of the sound and reasonable palace of methodical exploration must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for sanity by drinking from the chalice of fanaticism. Our objective is a higher plane of dignity and discipline. No matter how violently our theistic brothers and sisters oppose the coming age of awareness, we must not allow our creative ambitions to degenerate into physical violence. Only tolerance will work.

As we persevere to learn, we must make the pledge that we shall not slip back into the warm embrace of institutionalized ignorance. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of independent thought, "When will you respect our beliefs?" We can never respect beliefs that nurture hate. We can never respect beliefs in extra-planar super beings. We can never respect plans for an illogical "life" after death. We can never respect self-aggrandizing leaders, power-drunk and false, and we can never respect their funny costumes. No, no, respect is too much to ask for these crazy hallucinations that have flooded human culture from its beginning.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here through great trials and tribulations. Some of you have only just escaped the clutches of religion, battered by the storms of easy answers, staggered by the torrents of pre-digested beliefs. Some of you have fresh claw marks on your heals from where your fellow crabs tried to pull you back into the basket of faith. Some of you may even still be drinking from the medicating elixir of theism. You are all veterans of theistic suffering. Continue to persevere knowing that the search for knowledge is its own reward.

Go back to your homes, go back to your jobs, your careers, go back to your town halls and your seats of government knowing that the days of organized religion have peaked. Ideologically, religion reached its maximum centuries ago and has been slowly ebbing ever since. With every passing moment religion becomes a little less useful, a little less relevant. It tries to change its spots and stripes by buying bigger venues and embracing different fads, but it can never grow beyond the brittle exo-skeleton of its sad beliefs. Indeed, the valley of despair is paved with sad beliefs.

And though we have great struggles still before us, herculean tasks to rise above the leviathan of our past dependence on theism, long hours, days, years of work yet to undo the shroud of confusion that it has woven, I bring the news today.

I bring the news that this is the life we have, this is the world in which we dwell; the only joy, love, and happiness we will ever get the chance to share is right here. This is our world. I bring the news.

I bring the news that ignorance can be cured, that discovery is our passion, that learning is our joy.

I bring the news that will lay every mountain low, raise every valley to the sky, and empty the oceans of ignorance. I bring the news, my fellow beings, that we are not a splintered free-for-all of fractious fighting, that we are not agents of alien influence destined to war against one another, that we are not enemies sworn to conflict and chaos. No! We are all members of the same kingdom, the same class, the same species, the same clan of siblings, of parents, of sons and daughters, of friends and lovers. We are fellows in filial fraternity, we are bands of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers; we are family. We drink the same water, we breath the same air, we have the same blood coursing through our veins. I bring the news.

I bring the news today, all these thousands of years later, that the sky is still a mystery, and that is cause for celebration! I bring the news that our stupidity is not a sentence but rather an opportunity. I bring the news that each and every one of us contains unlimited potential and that together we can explore the stars and embrace future. I bring the news, brothers and sisters, that we shall cast off the constraints of sad beliefs and enter a new world of limitless discovery unfettered by faith. Free at last, free at last, good riddance to religion, we are free at last!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Guilt-o-Matic

You have to recognize that the Bush Administration has really done everyone a great favor when it comes to that thorny, old problem of establishing guilt. They've revolutionized the process, streamlined it for the modern age. Unhampered by the need to gather evidence or provide a jury or any of that silly prerogative writ crap, it's so much easier now to just lock people up and start torturing them. How on earth did we ever manage with all that nonsense about due process and regular justice? Habeas Schmabeas, now that that's out of the way, I've got plenty of time to watch my stock portfolio become engorged on the blood of fallen soldiers.

Thank you, you radical ideological ass-clowns, thank you so very much.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Relig-o-Matic

Lonely? Lost? Overcome with feelings of absurdity and futility? Desperate to belong to something righteous that will make you feel morally superior to those around you? Or are you just looking for free coffee and snacks on the weekend? If you said yes to any of these questions, then religion is the thing for you.

That's right, religion has been imbuing hopelessly pathetic people, like yourself, with a glowing sense of self-worth for centuries. By simply forking over some of your hard-earned scratch, kneeling down and bending over when told to, and generally not asking too many questions, you can become a member of any number of organizations that will deliver a whole host of excellent benefits, most of which will only become available to you after you're dead. But still, no matter how you slice it, religion is one hell of a deal.

But so many religions dot the earthly landscape, how will you ever pick the right one? How will you find the one that's best for you? Well, your old pal, Wad, is here to help. I present to you a list of important questions for which you should have definite answers before committing your life to this religion or that cult.

Number one: in the case of a monotheistic religion, find out if this particular god is the one true god. This is a very important question and you shouldn't take just anyone's word for it. Best thing to do is inquire at a variety of different religious organizations and have them all weigh in on the god you're considering. For instance, ask the Discordians what they think of Jesus. Or ask the Presbyterians and the Protestants what they think of Allah. Have the Jews talk to you about Kali and Baphomet. You get the picture. Whatever they say about their own god you should regard carefully; obviously they will be biased. But the stuff they say about the other gods will be perfectly objective.

Same thing in the case of a polytheistic religion (used to be a lot more popular than they are today, but a few are still out there): are all the gods equally true or are some of them a little false? Again, do careful research before making a decision.

Number two: exactly what is the benefit package you will receive once you're dead, assuming you have fulfilled all organizational requirements and are a normal member? Are requirements negotiable? Are prizes awarded on a sliding scale? A lot of variation exists here so check around. And be sure to get it all in writing so in case something goes wrong you'll have recourse for your grievances.

Number three: will you have to kill yourself? Figure this out early on as it can really screw things up if you find out too late. Assuming you will and you're cool with that, what sort of prizes will you receive after you're dead? Often, the benefits package offered to the newly deceased gets a few bonuses thrown in if you kill yourself in a prescribed way. I've heard that at least one religion offers a butt-load of virgins if you kill yourself just right. Personally, I prefer a woman with a little experience, but whatever. I think you get a pony, too. Again, remember to read the fine print.

Number four: will killing other people be part of the deal? If so, can you assassinate people you dislike personally, or will you be assigned targets by the organizers? Again, what sort of rewards will this assignment net you and can you get any of them while still alive? This is important because if you get arrested for murder, instead of getting virgins, spending time in the joint might simply de-virginize you, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Knowing whether or not the religion provides free and effective legal defense in this situation is a very serious concern. Alternatively, does it have a substantial enough prison following to help you make the right kinds of friends in lock-down?

Number five: consider the details and methods of daily prayer: performing ablutions, chanting, fiddling with beads, special dance moves, gesticulations. Consider the dress code: outfits, colors, hairstyles. Some religions demand an austere existence and a disciplined daily regimen, while others let you dress the way you want and pray when you want. Get hooked up with the group that works for you!

Number six: where exactly will you be going once you're dead? Don't leave this up to chance; get coordinates. Also, check to see who else might be going; it would suck to get there and find a bunch of people you don't like. For instance, if it turns out that your religion and another competing religion are actually praying to the same god, you might both end up in the same place (heaven, valhala, paradise, whatever) and it might be awkward having to hang out with people you spent so much time hating when you were alive.

Finally, lucky number seven, a few minor points to consider: some religions are very popular with the stars and joining may give you the opportunity to meet a favorite, Cat Stevens, John Travolta, or Barry Manilow for instance. Will it help you get laid? Do a lot of hot chicks attend? Do you like the free drinks or snacks this religion offers at its regular meetings? Do they have a proper coffee maker or are they serving instant (ugh)? What do you think of this particular religion's paraphernalia and will you enjoy decorating your home, automobile, and office with it? How much time will you have to spend trying to talk other people (non-believers) into joining? Do you mind being spat on and having doors slammed in your face very much?

Once you have clear, logical answers to these questions, you should have no trouble making the right choice.

Cheers!

P.S. Maybe this article seemed a little sexist. That's because religion is sexist. Sure, some exceptions exist, but mostly being religious and being a woman means getting the table scraps the men leave. For women, joining a religion should be done purely for the service of the men in your life (and for the men in the church, including the god or gods therein, which will almost always be portrayed as male). So if you're a woman and you're reading this, don't you worry your pretty little head about all of these big, scary questions, Buttercup. Just print them out and hand them respectfully to your man when he's in a good mood. And then get back to fixing dinner and taking care of the kids.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The God Thing

So many people talk about a god thing: god this, god that, god's watching, god'll get you for that. But what the hell is it? It's usually referred to with masculine pronouns, so is it a man? If it is a man, is it married? If not, is it gay? Who are its friends? Does it have any hobbies?

Those who are into this god thing tend to say crazy things when trying to describe it. Ask one "where is god?" and he will likely reply "he is everywhere," or "he is in your heart," which I shouldn't have to tell you are nonsense answers. If you ask the store clerk "where is the frozen food?" and she suggests elective surgery, how is that helpful?

This god thing, if its enthusiasts are to be believed, exists perhaps at some mysterious location, perhaps one nearby, perhaps far away, always has and always will. No rational explanation for why anyone should believe something this fantastic is ever supplied. Indeed, this is when waxing philosophies about faith usually start. And, oh, how they wax.

Florid literary meanderings aside, we have no empirical data on this god thing as an entity, as an individual. What data there are, all woven from the various available dogmas, in a practical sense focus on only two aspects: how it can do whatever it wants, and how it tends to display fairly simple emotions. We know its fury and we know its love, often at the same time, but never the conflicts of conscience, regret, sorrow, and introspection that come with maturity. Kind of like a little girl playing with her dollies—one minute, all is sweetness and light; the next, Mr. Flippy has committed some nebulous infraction and has to be punished for his insolence—this god thing never demonstrates any sophisticated reflection on any issue, merely smites the infidels when necessary. This by itself would be suspicious enough, but the god thing's vengeance upon the humans is always wrought by other humans.

Well, almost always. Natural disasters are often attributed to the god thing. Because it can do anything it wants, so it goes, rather than soil itself by dealing personally with the lowly humans it will, as its enthusiasts will tell you, wreck their stuff with floods and earthquakes and such. Again, this is very suspicious. Not only are natural disasters fairly easily explained today via simple observations of nature, but they are also very indiscriminate. The god thing gets so upset at the humans' infractions that its retribution will ruin the habitats of other species as well? Seems very petty. Sounds like what we're actually talking about is just a big baby.

Behold the god thing: it is nothing more than a reflection of its enthusiasts' psyches. While curious behavior is the norm among humans, pretending super-heroes and deities exist (super-heroes and deities that always look like humans, of course) is remarkable because it is enjoyed in nearly every corner of our little planet in many, many variations, by every different culture we have. Forgetting for the moment the extraordinarily lucrative nature of organized religion, what could have driven us to adopt such an odd practice with such enthusiasm?

People are justifiably frustrated and frightened by their powerlessness in this world. Other animals are stronger, faster, can swim better, see farther, and we are utterly outclassed by the forces of nature. So, to stave off our trembling fear, we dream up something with limitless powers and infinite this and endless that and pretend to have some control over it through organizational affiliations. Genius! We'll give the people at the head of the organization funny costumes to wear and pretend publicly that they can actually talk to the purely made-up god thing while privately we pretend to talk to it ourselves. It really is all ours to do with as we see fit, which presents an opportunity with limitless potential for putting forward our own petty grievances with our neighbors who we dislike for many reasons, but mostly because we want their land and they remind us too much of ourselves.

Our god thing has no personality of its own, no hobbies, no interests. It has no real character of any sort, no favorite foods, no favorite jokes. Infinitely malleable, it cannot contradict a political alliance or motive because it does not exist. It is an empty vessel, a concept open to interpretation into which we petty, frightened, and insignificant humans, the militant ones, can pour all of our pathetic rage, humiliation, and fears, to be meted out against one another as we see fit, with prejudice. Or those peace loving among us can pour in our hopes and dreams and prayers of salvation without fear of denial or of being tricked, because no one is there.

It provides an instant justification for any act of selfishness we can dream up, and an easy explanation for all of our many failures: the will of the god thing explains everything. No one can deny its usefulness.

Not the least of its uses, the god thing provides an easy, if spurious, escape from nihilism. The void is terrifying primarily because it is our lack of understanding about the world around us that informs it. A fantastic answer may seem preferable when the truth is, perhaps, beyond our grasp. But it's a tactical error if you want to play the long game.

No, we don't understand why we're here or where we're going or what the point of it all is or even if a point exists, but we understand more today than we did yesterday. Having just begun to understand so much, let's not hang up our track shoes so early in the race by embracing a worldview that we'll have to apologize for later, particularly one that has played out so poorly over the previous centuries.

Throw down your gods.