friday entertainment


Happy Friday! It’s been a hell of a week. Here are a few things I need to say.

1. Sarah Palin suuuuuccckkks. It’s been two weeks and I’m already sick of hearing about her.

2. The LOLCat Bible is the most (if not the only) genuinely humorous thing to come out of the LOLCat movement so far. Case in point: this illustration.

3. Frank Zindler (the old Dial-an-Atheist guy) wrote a parody of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” that was recently read on the Non-Prophets radio show and transcribed here. It’s a great little song because it gets at several key moral issues about the Christian worldview (e.g., caring more about zygotes than children, how people/scientists are better than God at ridding the world of pain, etc.). I’m going to copy it below for your reading pleasure.

Jesus loves the little zygotes

Jesus loves the little zygotes
all the zygotes of the world.
Jesus loves them until they’re born
then abandons them forlorn.
Jesus loves the little zygotes ’til they’re born.

Jesus loves the little children
all the children of the world.
Jesus gives them heart defects
measles, mumps, and ringwormed necks.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus lets their parents beat them,
bruise their bodies black and blue.
Jesus gives them birth defects,
scurvy, ticks, and palette clefts.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus gives the children cancer.
Earaches, lice, and scabies too.
Bowel obstructions, altered lips,
blighted brains and twisted hips.
Extra chromosomes to help them when they pray.

Hallelujah.

Jesus gives the children acne.
AIDS and leprosy galore.
Germs and worms of every kind.
Things to make the children blind.
But he cannot give them smallpox anymore.

Scientists and unbelievers
wiped the pox right off the earth.
Jesus still gives gifts to kids,
broken nose and burnt eyelids.
But he cannot give them smallpox anymore.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

-Epicurus

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to friday entertainment

  1. Brandon says:

    Sorry about doubling up on the debates reference. I didn’t read Mic’s post until after I repsonded to ES’s.

    Mic,

    You reminded me of a joke: “Your right to swing your fists ends where my face begins.”

  2. Brandon says:

    ES,

    People misunderstand each other all the time. Especially when people use humor.

    For example, I’m a little confused about your question. Inquisitions and witch hunts are historically what Christians do to find people who they can persecute for their subversive beliefs, or blame them for society‘s ills. In your tough-crowd example, I don’t think it would be possible for their to be any type of witch hunt because the person doing the sing-song would be the witch.

    I do think that I (and most atheists) could get up in front of a group of Christians and explain our beliefs without intentionally trying to cause offense or proselytize.

    Anytime you’re public speaking you have to know your audience and choose words and arguments that they’ll respond to.

    Second, just because you don’t think someone’s beliefs are based on sound reasoning doesn’t mean your intolerant. If you were to punch, spit on, or make a law against someone for their beliefs, that would be intolerant.

    If you watched the presidential debates, you saw two guys pretty much lie about and slander each other for an hour-and-a-half. You can disrespect the beliefs of republicans or democrats all day and no one will cry foul. Some religions claim that anyone who disagrees with them are intolerant: I doesn’t make it true.

    Lastly, what I think would benefit you is irrelevant. I’m not responsible for making your decisions, and I’m not responsible for the consequences of your decisions. Nor are you responsible for any of mine.

  3. mikhailovich says:

    ES,

    You’re right in saying that many people are not able to differentiate between criticism of their beliefs and personal ad-hominem criticism, but quite frankly, such people need to learn about the difference. Freedom of speech and the free market of ideas is not only a good thing, but absolutely essential for a free society. Do you think that after last night’s debate, either Obama or McCain is going to start accusing the other of intolerance because he opposes ideas that the other holds dear? No, that’s ridiculous, and it’s the reason why libel and slander are specifically defined in our legislation and do not include criticism of ideas.

    You also raised an ethical question. It’s often been said that my rights end where yours begin, and basic principles of human interaction like this are solid philosophic bases for developing a robust moral system of ethics that can also be applied to law. If you’re interested in this subject, read some of the comments on this previous thread/entry: http://www.steelcityskeptics.net/2008/09/08/secular-morality/

  4. ES says:

    Thanks for your responses. Let me make some specific responses to some of the dialogue.

    “Humor is a powerful way to break down social barriers and open up discussion.” I wonder if you were to sing your song in front of a group of Christians if the doors of communication would be open. Or perhaps they might be wondering if the inquisitions and witch-hunting might come next. There are people in this world for whom this concern is real. This view and type of humor in the minds of the wrong people does not promote or protect individual human welfare.

    “There is a huge difference between disrespecting a real person or group of people and disrespecting a system of beliefs.” That is an opinion that not all people hold. Many people in the world do not separate their system of beliefs from who they are as people. I am wondering if in your opinion disrespecting a person’s beliefs does not come under the definition of intolerance. (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=intolerance)

    “Humanism relies on personal ethics, which is the ability to analyze right and wrong and make choices that benefit yourself and others.” I am wondering how you would determine who is right if what you think would benefit me and what I think would benefit you were in conflict with each other.

  5. Brandon says:

    ES,

    It’s hard to respond to you because I don’t know specifically what type of proof you’re looking for. As mikhailovich already stated, secular humanism emphasizes evidence and the individual.

    In my opinion (which is all I can offer because humanism doesn’t have dogma), secular humanists do not make decisions based on faith. They evaluate the evidence available to them and then try to use their own sense of reason to make a conclusion.

    That’s why we often pick on the bible; it makes unsupportable claims (Noah’s Arc, the Genesis story, etc.) that are clearly false when you consider a tiny bit of scientific evidence.

    Because Humanists openly question their own beliefs as well as the claims of others, they place value on different things than people of faith.

    Humanists generally reject the concept of an afterlife because there is no evidence for it. So what you do in this life is given all emphasis because it’s a certainty.

    Religion tends to focus on morality, which in my view is an authoritarian code of approved behavior. Humanism relies on personal ethics, which is your ability to analyze right and wrong and make choices that benefit yourself and others. (If you’re looking for ten-commandment style rules; sorry there are none.)

    In a crisis humanists will rely on themselves and other people for help; not god. Humanists don’t believe there is a personal god who cares for them. Therefore, it’s a waste of time to pray to one. You’re much better off trying to accomplish things yourself and with the help of others.

    Is that what you were looking for? I’d love to continue this discussion with the help of your feedback.

  6. mikhailovich says:

    ES,

    Thanks for commenting. Brandon and I were just remarking tonight that we’d much rather people comment with questions or criticisms and get a discussion going.

    I admit that I’ve focused mainly on Christianity in my entries, but that’s simply because it’s what I’m most familiar with, and Christians comprise the main group in our country that value faith over reason/reality. We’re hoping to talk more about different unsubstantiated paranormal claims in the future instead of just focusing on religion.

    I’m also arguing more for a rejection of unsubstantiated beliefs than telling people what they proactively should believe. Secular humanism is defined differently by different people, but one of the folks in our group offers up this definition: “Secular Humanism is that moral philosophy that teaches that the goal of all political and moral action should be the protection and promotion of individual human welfare.”

    One of the reasons I align myself with secular humanism is that I value individual human life, liberty, freedom, and equality; I oppose religion not only because it interferes with human freedom, life, and dignity, but also because its claims are patently false. As long as people believe that stuff, it’s a worthwhile battle to spend time exposing it and counteracting the effects (in some small way) of harmful actions based on irrational beliefs. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, I’m sure you know what some of this is about….

    Hopefully that helps answer your question. Feel free to respond or write back if not. If you’d like, perhaps we can devote some future entries to some of the more general tenets of secular humanism, which perhaps have been more latent/implicit up until this point.

  7. ES says:

    Wow! I have been reading this blog for a couple of weeks now. You expect everyone else to prove their arguments to be worthy of credibility, but I have yet to see you prove your own. How about it if you start proving that your worldview is credible? You spend much of your time attacking Christian beliefs. If secular humanism is the best worldview out there, then let’s see you prove that it’s better than any worldview that exists, not just Christianity. What does it offer to this world that makes it the way to go?

  8. Pingback: Jesus’ Sacrifice | Steel City Skeptics

  9. mikhailovich says:

    Allow me to follow up briefly on what Brandon said, as well. JMT, you said that “Serious questions deserve serious respect.” This is true, and I’m certainly sorry if you felt like questions of that sort were being made fun of in some anti-intellectual jab, although I’m not sure how you could have come to that conclusion.

    A serious question is something like, “Why do people get sick?” Nobody is mocking a question like that! What deserves to be mocked, however, is a silly answer like, “you sinned so God created viruses to make your life suck.” If you’re going to give an answer like that, you better have some damn good proof to back up your assertion! If you don’t…ridicule is certainly in order.

  10. Brandon says:

    JMT,

    I don’t want to pile on too much, but I’d like to respond to a few things you’ve written.

    ”Have the decency to respect your opponents instead of mocking and deriding them.”

    No.

    Why? Because your argument has no grounds.

    For example:

    ”That is the very thing God is expecting of us, to use the minds we have to put an end to all the maladies we can.”

    Really? How do you know what god expects from us? Did you have a phone call with him before you decided to post?

    Can you really expect me to have a “serious, respectful interchange about Jesus,” with someone who claims they know what god expects from us?

    Second, when we use satire to point out how absurd the idea of a loving, omnipotent god is in the face of evidence like AIDS, smallpox, birth defects don’t pretend that were making light of pain and suffering. We’re not; we’re making fun of god and belief that he has anything to do with suffering.

    Basing an argument on a misunderstanding of the satirical purpose of the song is ignorant. Making an argument based on the claim that you know god’s expectations is arrogant.

    I’m sorry but your claims of moral high-ground are silly, and like god they’re deserving of ridicule.

  11. BillK says:

    Let me preface my remarks by making it clear that I am an arrogant prick and, unlike Eliza and Mikhailovich, not a very nice person.

    When someone presents a bunch of contradictory nonsense about imaginary sky fairies and posits it as fact, they are showing themselves to be irrational and incapable of reason. They therefore deserve to be ridiculed and mocked in the extreme. This is even more so when, because there are a great many other people who suffer from the same delusions, they try to impose their narrow-minded first century worldview on the rest of the populace. So don’t give me any shit about needing to be respectful to a bunch of nonsense or to the people who believe such bullshit. The parody is merely pointing out the inconsistencies of the x-tian dogma and its so-called message of love and compassion. And as such, it is really funny, albeit with some well deserved biting sarcasm.

  12. mikhailovich says:

    JMT,

    Thanks for continuing this conversation. It seems like the god you’re talking about is playing some paradoxical games with suffering–creating diseases (like smallpox) and then “expecting us to use the minds he gave us to to put an end to all the maladies we can.” That idea is pretty messed up, from a humanist perspective that values life. If the god you’re talking about existed, this would indeed be no laughing matter. As Eliza said, however, humor is a powerful tool for exposing ridiculous ideas. The song in question here definitely falls into that camp–no person (or human dignity) is the target of mockery.

    The reason we’re talking about God, Jesus, and various theistic claims on this blog, to answer your question, is not because we personally accept religious dogma, but because a lot of other people do. If over half the people in the country suddenly started believing in Santa Claus, told every else that they were going to freeze for eternity if they didn’t believe, and started passing legislation based on harmful sayings purported to be by Santa Claus himself–well, in that case, I would be blogging against those claims.

  13. JMT says:

    Eliza,
    Of course these questions are valid and important, and shame likewise, on those who kicked you out for asking them! Asking questions about the existence of suffering in light of a loving God is important – and those questions have been asked and discussed by the volumes. I’m not denying the legitimacy of the questions, nor the serious nature of finding the answers…I’m just saying that there is a better way of raising them than mockery and ridicule. Serious questions deserve serious respect.

  14. JMT says:

    Because God has given people the minds and creativity to do just that – to decrease the pain and suffering in the world, and it is really good when we use those minds and intellect to do that. That is exactly what we should be doing – seeing the hurt and pain and suffering around us and doing something about it in every way we can, using all the resources of science and technology at our disposal to relieve it. God is not “giving” these maladies to humanity…and as far as “decreasing them”, why would you not want the dignity that God has given to us of being the agents of solving the problems in this world? That is the very thing God is expecting of us, to use the minds we have to put an end to all the maladies we can. We have real choices – to cause harm and suffering, or to reduce it and use the resources and minds we have to alleviate it and do something about it. There will be a time when God will bring that to completion, but in the meantime it is in our court. But why are we even talking about God causing anything or Jesus causing anything if you don’t believe God exists in the first place and Jesus was just a man who lived and died and is as powerless as any other past figure in history? If you want to have a serious, respectful interchange about Jesus, fine. But don’t take delight in mocking and ridiculing – you are (or should be) above that.

  15. Eliza says:

    JMT — there is a huge difference between disrespecting a real person or group of people and disrespecting a system of beliefs. The children are not being mocked by Zindler’s song — the belief that there’s a loving God taking care of them is, as well it should.

    Humor is a powerful and wonderful tool for breaking down social barriers and opening doors for discussion, unlike, say, inquisitions and witch-hunting. This song begs questions that children ask all the time and that there’s no acceptable answer for. I should know, I got kicked out of Sunday school for asking about this very thing. If you’re uncomfortable with the questions raised, maybe you should ask yourself why.

    Mik — People thinking the song isn’t funny makes it even funnier.

  16. mikhailovich says:

    JMT–

    You are right in saying that the pain and suffering in the world is serious. I don’t think anyone here, including Frank Zindler, was ridiculing people who suffer. What his parody brings to light, however, is that people are solving the problems that exist in God’s world, not God himself (supposedly).

    To quote the poem, God gives the children “Germs and worms of every kind … / But he cannot give them smallpox anymore.” In other words, humanity is making progress to decrease pain and suffering in the world, not God. How is this not a valid and creative criticism of the theistic position?

  17. JMT says:

    Actually, this is NOT a “great little song” nor is it humorous. The pain and suffering in the world is real and is serious, and shame on anyone who makes light of it in such a manner. And there are far better ways of interacting about your views on this or anything else than cynicism and ridicule – at least have the decency to respect your opponents instead of mocking and deriding them.

  18. mikhailovich says:

    Totally agree. MP/Meaning of Life is hilarious. We might should consider Life of Brian for an upcoming social night, too. It’s funny, appropriate, borderline genius, and it’s been banned

  19. Brandon says:

    Great song BillK. My favorite from the movie.

    Here it is in context:

  20. BillK says:

    How about a Monty Python piece?

    Every Sperm Is Sacred

    There are Jews in the world, there are Buddhists,
    There are Hindus and Mormons and then
    There are those that follow Mohammed, but
    I’ve never been one of them.

    I’m a Roman Catholic,
    And have been since before I was born,
    And the one thing they say about Catholics is
    They’ll take you as soon as you’re warm.

    You don’t have to be a six footer,
    You don’t have to have a great brain,
    You don’t have to have any clothes on,
    You’re a Catholic the moment Dad came, because

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is great,
    If a sperm is wasted,
    God gets quite irate.

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is great,
    If a sperm is wasted,
    God gets quite irate.

    Let the heathen spill theirs,
    On the dusty ground,
    God shall make them pay for
    Each sperm that can’t be found.

    Every sperm is wanted,
    Every sperm is good,
    Every sperm is needed,
    In your neighborhood.

    Hindu, Taoist, Mormon,
    Spill theirs just anywhere,
    But God loves those who treat their
    Semen with more care.

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is great,
    If a sperm is wasted,
    God gets quite irate.

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is good,
    Every sperm is needed,
    In your neighborhood.

    Every sperm is useful,
    Every sperm is fine,
    God needs everybody’s,
    Mine, and mine, and mine.

    Let the pagans spill theirs,
    O’er mountain, hill and plain.
    God shall strike them down for
    Each sperm that’s spilt in vain.

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is good,
    Every sperm is needed,
    In your neighborhood.

    Every sperm is sacred,
    Every sperm is great,
    If a sperm is wasted,
    God gets quite irate.
    — “Every Sperm is Sacred,” song and words by Michael Palin and Terry Jones (1983)

  21. Brandon says:

    If I’m going to sing a song it’ll have to be Creation Science 101.

  22. Laura says:

    I second that. Perhaps Brandon can sing back up vocals. Liz and I can play guitar and tambourine and we’ll go on tour. Steel City Skeptical Singers.

  23. Eliza says:

    This post needs an mp3 of you singing it for us, Mikhail! :D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s