Posts Tagged “religionism”

The number of the Beast … 666 … or, is it 616 instead? (cf. Revelation 13:18) / PsiCop originalReligion makes people do really nutty, if not detrimental, things sometimes, even to themselves. Religionistic fear of the number 666 recently caused a devout Christian quit his job, as The Town Talk of Alexandria, LA reports (WebCite cached article):

A Clarksville, Tenn., man says he quit his job last week in order to save his soul.

Walter Slonopas, 52, resigned as a maintenance worker at Contech Casting LLC in Clarksville after his W-2 tax form was stamped with the number 666.

The Bible calls 666 the “number of the beast,” and it’s often used as a symbol of the devil. Slonopas said that after getting the W-2, he could either go to work or go to hell.

“If you accept that number, you sell your soul to the devil,” he said.

The article explains this is actually the third time Slonopas has run into this problem. Twice before he’d been assigned the clock number of 666, and on one of those occasions he quit, only to get his job back right away. It’s not clear if he’ll be rehired this time.

The Town Talk also describes the reason why 666 evokes such terror on the part of some Christians:

The number 666 first appears in Chapter 13 of the New Testament book of Revelation, which describes a Satanic figure called the beast or Antichrist who takes over the world and stamps everyone with a mark bearing the number 666. According to Revelation, no one will be able to buy or sell anything without that number stamped on them.

That has caused people to fear anytime that number pops up, said Jay Phelan, senior professor of theological studies at North Park University in Chicago. …

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, said the writer of Revelation was using a technique called “gematria” — in which letters have numerical values — to refer to a Roman emperor as the beast.

She said that over the past 2,000 years, readers of Revelation have tried to use 666 to figure out who the Antichrist is. Among the candidates were political figures like Hitler, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and corporations like Proctor & Gamble and IBM.

“The number of the Beast” is mentioned in Revelation 13:18, and in most manuscripts it’s 666, but some have 616 instead. These two variations have led most scholars to conclude that the author of Revelation had been alluding to the Emperor Nero, because when his Greek name was transliterated into Hebrew, it added up to 666, but when starting with Latin, it became 616. This particular coincidence doesn’t work with anything else. And if it’s the case that either 666 or 616 is a reference to Nero, then Revelation … written as it was during the latter half of the 1st century CE … couldn’t have been intended to describe the future prophetically; it was, instead, a description of past history.

At any rate, it looks as though Mr Slonopas’s metaphysics will leave him unemployed. Well done. I’m sure his Jesus is just so proud of him for being so stupid.

Photo credit: PsiCop original.

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Cry BabyEven a century and a half after the emergence of evolutionary science, Christians are still incensed and even outraged that there are so many insolent people who dare talk about it as though it’s valid. In their eyes, it’s intolerable … a wicked, profane plot to separate humanity from God. Why, that kind of thing simply must be outlawed (or so they think). Marvin Olasky, editor of WORLD Magazine, vented his rage at this unacceptable chatter, labelling it “propaganda” (WebCite cached article):

The center of the front page of today’s New York Times proclaims, “Rat-Size Ancestor Said to Link Man and Beast.” [cached] Accompanying a cute illustration … is this lead: “Humankind’s common ancestor with other mammals may have been a roughly rat-size animal that weighed no more than a half a pound, had a long furry tail and lived on insects.” …

But wait a minute—what exactly is the evidence for the rat-size animal being our ancestor? “The animal had several anatomical characteristics for live births that anticipated all placental mammals and led to some 5,400 living species, from shrews to elephants, bats to whales, cats to dogs and, not least, humans.”

So because the animal apparently gave birth a bit like mammals and humans give birth, that’s proof of ancestry? Hmm. Couldn’t it be evidence for intelligent design, with God having a group of His creatures giving birth in similar ways?

Oh the outrage! How dare these so-called “scientists” arrive at a conclusion that Mr Olasky personally disapproves of, merely because it violates his own metaphysics! It can’t be allowed! It’s horrible Left-wing “propaganda” from the Times, which — quite obviously, in his mind — is trying to abolish religion and destroy all devout believers!

Let me clear up a few facts for Mr Olasky and other militant Christianists:

  1. Evolution is valid science. Don’t like it? Tough. You don’t have to like it. But you do have to grow up and live with it.
  2. We have something called “freedom of the press” in the US, meaning the Times is free to print whatever it wants to, whenever it wants to. Don’t like it? Too bad. But you do have to grow up and live with it.
  3. It’s true that “freedom of the press” also means Mr Olasky is free to whine about the evil evolutionist “propaganda,” too. But the rest of us are, furthermore, free to conclude he’s a sniveling little crybaby.

Petulant, childish gripes about “propaganda” cannot and will never change the veracity of evolution. It truly is both a theory and a fact. Dour Christianists like Mr Olasky can’t prevent people from accepting it as valid, nor can they stop scientists from pursuing it, nor can they prevent media outlets from reporting on it. What’s more, they cannot and will never change the fact that Creationism is a religion, not a science. Nor can they change the fact that referring to it as “intelligent design,” as Olasky does in his whine, is itself a lie, intended to make it seem scientific when it’s not. For Olasky to accuse the Times of publishing “propaganda,” while he uses the propaganda trick of calling Creationism “intelligent design,” makes him a hypocrite … in spite of the fact that his own Jesus clearly and unambiguously ordered him never to be hypocritical.

Photo credit: TheGiantVermin, via Flickr.

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Better to remain silent, and be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth, and remove all doubt! (proverb)At this point one would have thought the Republicans should have learned the lesson of the 2012 election, which is that letting the idiots within its ranks mouth off like the clowns they are, is a bad idea. And voters seem to have agreed they were idiots: Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, and Todd Akin — at one time all favored to win their races — ended up losing, because they opened their mouths and shoved their religionistic feet in them. Remarkable losses such as these ought to have sent a message to the country’s Religious Right politicians.

But it seems some of them either never got the message, or they got it, but have decided spewing idiocy won’t hurt them. The New York Times Caucus blog reports on one who’s gone and done just that (WebCite cached version):

The lawmaker, Representative Phil Gingrey, an obstetrician and gynecologist, told the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce that neither Mr. Akin, who lost his Senate bid to Senator Claire McCaskill, nor Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who lost to Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, had been treated fairly in the wake of their rape comments, according to The Marietta Daily News.

“I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things,” Mr. Gingrey said, according to the paper. “It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right, wasn’t he?” …

He also justified Mr. Akin’s distinction between “legitimate rape” — which Mr. Akin had said women’s reproductive systems can defend against — and other unspecified sexual acts that can lead to pregnancy.

Mr. Akin, he said, “was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’

“That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”

So you see, even after a disaster of an election which left the Republicans still out of the White House, and with a smaller number of seats in both houses of Congress, they still cannot seem to get over their belief that calling out idiots for their idiocy is somehow “not fair” to the idiots; that not all rapes are really “rapes”; and that women who are raped are less likely to become pregnant than women who aren’t.

Oh, and the part about fueling women with wine in order to get them to “loosen up” for sex … what juvenile fucking bullshit! I think I got over that idea back when I was in high school. But what the hell do I know!?

If you unsure how the next two years in GOP politics are going to go, this seems to provide an indicator: They plan to double down on their stupidity and buffoonery, be laughed at and derided as the clowns and loons they are, and continue to intone the endless mantra that they aren’t being “treated fairly.” Apparently they think this is a winning formula, in spite of the 2012 elections whose results say something else.

Update: The folks at PolitiFact examined Gingrey’s (and by extension Akin’s) claim and found it had no scientific basis at all (cached). As the article explains, and as I hadn’t known until just recently, there’s a significant wing of the Religious Right which really, truly and seriously claims either that women cannot conceive when they’re raped, or that the likelihood of conception is greatly reduced. The reason they make this claim is so that they can justify banning all abortions and not even grant an exception for cases of rape. They are willing to lie to people in order to justify forcing the entire country to live according to their metaphysics, and they’ve been doing it for many years.

Photo credit: PsiCop original, based on proverb.

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crying baby leoOne of the things I go into at length, in my page on scriptures that Christians love to ignore, is Jesus’ injunction against his followers judging others. He was very clear and specific on the matter, yet Christians have, historically, refused to obey this explicit instruction. Christianity’s history is a long chronicle of Christians judging other Christians … and non-Christians … adversely, and often coming to blows over it. It’s not as though they aren’t aware of this teaching; what they’ve done is to rationalize it away so as to grant themselves license to judge, even though they’ve been ordered not to.

An example of precisely this sort of rationale was offered by the AFA’s Bryan Fischer. He objects to people he calls “secular fundamentalists” and “Leftists” using this injunction against dutiful Christianists like himself (WebCite cached article):

Leftists think it’s [i.e. Matthew 7:1] their trump card. Anytime a social conservative expresses criticism of, say homosexual behavior, the secular fundamentalist throws the “judge not” card on the table, declares game over, and smugly dares his vanquished opponent to breathe another word.

Here’s the problem. A leftist cannot use that argument without condemning himself.

If judging other people is wrong, then, to personalize it, he has no moral right to judge me, which is exactly what he is doing by condemning me for criticizing deviant sexual behavior.

His whole argument is predicated on his mindless conviction that passing moral judgments on other people is, well, immoral. But then he is guilty of the very thing of which he charges me.

Fischer even conjures up a laughable, imagined dialog with his own personal version of a “Leftist” in support of his contention.

His problem is, his entire argument is predicated on a straw man. He assumes that “secular fundamentalists” (aka “Leftists”) are under the same injunction that he is. The problem: They very well might not be! Jesus’ order to his followers not to judge others, by definition does not include non-Christians, who increasingly make up a larger proportion of America’s ideological Left (or what Fischer refers to as “secular fundamentalists,” whatever that might mean).

I concede that any Christians within the ideological Left would, of course, be subject to the same injunction Fischer and all of his fiercely Rightist co-religionists are. But given that Fischer is complaining about “secular fundamentalists” and equating them with “the Left,” he’s referring to a larger group than just liberal Christian believers, a group that would have to include non-Christians. Some of Fischer’s critics to whom he’s responding are not subject to Jesus’ injunction against judging others, and are allowed to judge him negatively — and simultaneously inform him that he’s violating Jesus’ teachings.

Fischer didn’t use it, but some Christians cite another scripture passage as an evasion:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

This passage is an admission that it’s sometimes necessary for Christians to correct each other. However, it clearly contradicts what Jesus said on the subject. And it’s not a “clarification” of what Jesus taught, because it’s not worded that way. No part of 2 Timothy says anything along the lines of, “Jesus did teach us not to judge one another, but sometimes you need to admonish and correct others, and when you do, Scripture will help you do it.” It’s not in there … at all. But even if 2 Timothy did say that, we’d still end up with Jesus on the one hand teaching one thing, and the author of 2 Timothy (which, in spite of Christian tradition, was not written by Paul), who says another.

At any rate, if Fischer, or any other Christian, objects to being told s/he isn’t supposed to judge anyone else, too bad. It’s their religion, they picked it, and that’s what it teaches. If they don’t like it, they either need to alter their religion and its scripture so it teaches something else, or leave the religion and find another. This problem is entirely between Christians and their God.

Photo credit: storyvillegirl, via Flickr.

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Louisiana College, via the Christian Post / Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, speaks at the chapel service for the 2012 Founder's Day observance at Louisiana College.No sooner do I get done blogging about another in a long line of pricks for Jesus using the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to promote his fierce fundementalism, than I hear about a rather prominent Religious Rightist doing the exact same thing. This one is James Dobson, founder and former head of Focus on the Family. The Christian Post reports he thinks God allowed the shooting, because of atheists, abortions, and gay marriage (WebCite cached article):

James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, said Monday that he believes the Connecticut shooting is a result of God allowing judgment to fall on America because it has turned its back on Him.

“And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think He has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on,” Dobson told listeners of his “Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk” program.

It’s the same tired litany: atheists, abortion and gays are to blame for anything bad, and the country isn’t Christian-fundamentalist enough. They’re the reason for earthquakes, droughts, crime, hurricanes, tornados, and … just about everything.

Well, too fucking bad, Dobbie. You don’t run the country. You aren’t getting your way any more. And the country is growing increasingly secular, so it’s not very likely you’ll be able to get your way any time soon. Wah wah wah, you fucking crybaby. Grow the hell up, fercryinoutloud.

Photo credit: Louisiana College, via the Christian Post.

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Old Paths Baptist Church, Fayetteville, TNMilitant Christians must still be in a state of elation over the school shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday. It seems they can’t — or won’t — shut up about it. They keep wielding it like a club, repeatedly using it to pound their sour, vicious beliefs into people, and they keep setting it forth as “proof” that they’re right. As the Raw Story reports, the latest example is a pastor, Sam Morris, who’s had enough of “government schools” and blames the massacre on a number of bogeymen (locally-cached article):

A Tennessee pastor on Sunday told his congregation that the number of mass shooting were escalating because of schools were government “mind-control centers” that taught “junk about evolution” and “how to be a homo.” …

“Why do you still send your kids to the governmental schools?” the pastor asked the congregation. “What’s behind this shooting that we saw on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Connecticut and the other one’s like it? What’s going on. Well, number one, deception… I got news for you, when you kicked God out of schools, you’re going to be judged for that.”

Morris insisted that “humanism” in schools taught Lanza that he was God and “he can just go blow away anybody he wants.”

“When I got in high school, man, I started learning all this kingdom, phylum stuff, all this junk about evolution,” he recalled. “And I want to tell you what evolution teaches — here’s the bottom line — that you’re an animal. That’s what it teaches. So, you’re an animal, you can act like an animal. Amen.”

“So, here you are, you’re an animal and you’re a god! So, what are we going to teach you about in school? Well, we can teach you about sex, we can teach you how to rebel to you parents, we can teach you how to be a homo! But we’re definitely not going to teach you about the word of God! Amen.”

The Raw Story thoughtfully provides audio of the pastor’s remarks, which you can listen to right here:

The picture that headlines this post (view full size) is taken from the Web site of the pastor’s church — Old Paths Baptist Church in Fayetteville, TN — and it illustrates, better than anything else I can think of, their insane obsession with the Bible and its text. Yes, these people are idolators; they worship their Bibles. It’s absurd … but it’s not uncommon among fundamentalists.

Photo credit: Old Paths Baptist Church Web site.

Hat tip: Why Evolution is True.

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Crush the Godless Liberals: All of America's Problems are Due to Godlessness and Godless Liberals / Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesThe number of Christians using the Newtown massacre (which happened only two days ago) to promote their fierce, dour religionism, is growing by leaps and bounds. I’ve chronicled a few examples of this already, but there are more. And I expect they will continue to come in. Here’s a selection:

  • Charisma News (cached):
    Rather than waiting until the aftermath of a Columbine, Virginia Tech or Newtown school shooting to pray, can we please put prayer back into schools on Monday morning?

  • Theologian John Piper (cached):
    Which means that the murders of Newtown are a warning to me — and you. Not a warning to see our schools as defenseless, but to see our souls as depraved. To see our need for a Savior. To humble ourselves in repentance for the God-diminishing bitterness of our hearts. To turn to Christ in desperate need, and to treasure his forgiveness, his transforming, and his friendship.

  • Theologian R. Albert Mohler (cached):
    The sinfulness of sin is never more clearly revealed than when we look into the heart of a crime like this and see the hatred toward God that precedes the murderous hatred he poured out on his little victims.

    The twentieth century forced us to see the ovens of the Nazi death camps, the killing fields of Cambodia, the inhumanity of the Soviet gulags, and the failure of the world to stop such atrocities before they happened. We cannot talk of our times without reference to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, Pol Pot and Charles Manson, Idi Amin and Ted Bundy.

  • CBN’s David Brody (cached):
    Guess what folks? Huckabee and Fischer are not alone. There are millions of evangelicals who believe the same thing. This is not heartless. It’s based on the biblical principle of reaping and sowing. Not that these little children sowed anything but are our schools left unprotected because of the past actions of our nation when it comes to removing God from our public schools?

I particularly love how Mohler found it necessary to throw in references to Hitler, Stalin, Manson and Pol Pot. What a lovely, compassionate touch!

Photo credit: Austin Cline, Licensed to About.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist (re: Piper & Mohler); Religion Dispatches (Re: Brody).

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