Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Episode V: The Moonies Strike Back

For strike, read e-mail. At the start of this month I contacted the Moonies to ask a few questions around the logistics of their Messiah's prophecy of a God-mandated purge, ridding the world of homosexuals. I wrote in the style of someone concerned for staffing levels, and wondering if the proposed burnings would affect those in close proximity, or those who had merely experimented. You can read it here.

Their response was underwhelming. Despite their Messiah proclaiming that gays are dung eating dogs Patricia was unable to help me with a proposed tax refund claim for canine employees, or suggest dung recipes.

I'll reproduce it in full:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Circumcision and Yaweh's Changing Morality

Imagine, if you will, that you've created this universe. That you've watched it expand and boil, then cool, collide and mature. That you've seen stars form and grow and die, then cast their contents to the cosmos, scattering the building blocks of molecules required for life. Imagine you look at just one of the hundreds of billions of galaxies that you have made, and from it select one of the hundreds of billions of stars,  and give your focus to one of its planets.

From there, give your attention to first life. Watch it stutter and start, nearly obliterate itself in the oxygen catastrophe, watch it grow larger and expand in variety only to gaze on dispassionately while it is mostly annihilated some sixty five million years ago. Then see how life recovers, and watch how the mammals begin their ascendancy to fill a void left by the death of dinosaurs. Now wait millions of years, until you see the first apes straighten to two legs and stagger blinking into the light, afraid, alone, dying mostly of their teeth or in childbirth.

Watch the rise of the Neanderthals, with their hopes, rituals and protoreligious burials unanswered, then watch as they decline, dwindle and die. We mere mortals know that Homo florensiencsis discovered fire and likely made hunting tools but you will be able to see with clarity how closely these long dead cousins mirrored our intelligence. Enjoy the discoveries, waiting, watching, until some two hundred thousand years ago the first anatomical humans rise to enjoy a life of fear and early death. Wait further still, until some five thousand years ago you decide to reveal yourself to a man called Abram, and reveal to him the concern that has been most keenly pressing for this immense chasm of time:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chemistry and Romance - excerpt from my wedding speech

I've asked for article suggestions on Twitter, and one friend asked me to write a little more about myself. I declined - people who have time to blog and talk to street preachers are rarely interesting in and of themselves - but it did remind me that there was something personal I wanted to share.

It's an excerpt from my wedding speech. The whole thing's about ten minutes long, but given that you won't know the parties involved I've trimmed considerably.

Writing a groom's speech can be tough. Public speaking and writing more than 160 characters are not as common as they once were. Men in general do not discuss their feelings. There is a perceived but wholly inaccurate barrier between atheism and wonder. I'm sure all grooms of all faith positions stare at blank sheets of paper for considerable time, but when you get the opportunity to stand up in front of a packed room and loudly declare your love it's all worth it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gunning for God (John Lennox) - Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? Bad Arguments

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"The New Atheists never tire of citing Bertrand Russell’s reply when he was asked what he would say if God were to ask him after his death why he had not believed: “Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence.” But then a curious thing happens. When evidence is offered to them, they refuse to examine it. I have already mentioned Richard Dawkins’ contemptuous dismissal of the resurrection in our God Delusion debate; so his attitude is clear. Furthermore, I know of no serious attempt by any of the New Atheists to engage with the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Emphasis mine.)
I commend Lennox for the extraordinary efforts he has surely expended to avoid atheist writing on what he calls evidence for the resurrection. Perhaps he merely read the copyright information of "Not The Impossible Faith" by Dr Richard Carrier, missing the lengthy discussion therein that spawned debates with William Lane Craig and others. He must have hidden from Dan Barker, former preacher and now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation who speaks of little else. Robert M Price has doctorates in both Theology and NT studies and discusses the subject at inordinate length. I could go on, and those interested in further examples are invited to consult the search feature of Amazon, a step Lennox has obviously not bothered to take.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

If God Then What? - Disappointingly Good

Over the last year or so I've tried to read at least one book I disagree with a month, generally on Christianity. It's an odd hobby. Sometimes it's laborious work. On several occasions I've had fun combing texts for errors, contradictions and absurdities. Some I've broadly liked, but separating where I agree with the author and where we differ has always seemed a tough review to write. I'd like to tell you why Jesus and the Eyewitnesses and Atheist Delusions are both worth reading despite my disagreements in areas, but It's easier to point at ID authors who think all languages originated at the Tower of Babel.

A few weeks ago, after a year of off-and-on blogging, I was asked if I'd read the recently released "If God Then What?" and discuss with the author on a radio show called Unbelievable?. Despite my accent I do love the sound of my own voice so I leapt at the opportunity. I expected a fun week of debunking, drawing up lists of flawed arguments, rehashing old debates and preparing to retaliate for slights against my fellow atheists. I'd heard the author, Andrew Wilson, on radio shows before and he seemed the sort who'd enjoy a vigorous debate.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools Questions for the Moonies

Given the day that's in it I thought I'd ask the Moonies for some more information on their Messiah. I'll let you know if they get back to me. In the meantime, here's the e-mail I sent:

Dear Patricia,

I found a copy of your flier on O'Connell Street outside the GPO. Well, some of it was missing, but I had the bottom half and it looked interesting. Reading about how Rev Moon was anointed by Jesus and sent to find a bride livened up an otherwise dull bus ride.

I did some searching on my mobile (again, uninteresting bus ride, so plenty of time for looking into these things) and found that quite a number of Rev Moon's speeches are available on www.tparents.org and www.unification.net - but you probably knew that already! The link may even be on the top half of your flier. I enjoy talking with friends about different world beliefs so I found lots of information for discussion.

One of my friends was quite interested. She works in a large call centre just outside London. She's in HR, and as you can imagine, with high staff turnover scheduling things like hiring campaigns and holiday leave can be a bit of a nightmare. She was most interested to read where your Messiah said that soon
"There will be a purge on God's orders, and evil will be eliminated like shadows. Gays will be eliminated ... If not then they will be burned. We do not know what kind of world God will bring but this is what happens. It will be greater than the communist purge but at God's orders." (http://www.tparents.org/moon-talks/sunmyungmoon04/SM040101-Service-b.htm)