Happy Blasphemy Day!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Published in

“This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves” - Robert Ingersoll

It was just 3 years ago today that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was brave enough to publish a dozen cartoons portraying the "prophet" Muhammad. The fallout from simply publishing a handful of comics was, of course, more overblown than it should have been. There were boycotts and protests. Death threats were made and bounties were placed on heads. Embassies were torched. People died. All of this simply because someone didn't bow down to someone else's religious beliefs.

Blasphemy, it has been said, is a victim less crime. Blasphemy is insulting something that isn't there. Blasphemy is having the courage to say out loud that religion is bunk. Yes, people will be offended. But my rights to freedom of speech beats your right to not be offended. Being offended is good for the soul anyways. Builds character. Let's you know that you are alive. It shows you where your boundaries are. It points out which beliefs are the most important to you. In fact, religious people should be thanking us instead of yelling that we should be behead or strung up from a tree. Besides, what is holy script for you is blasphemy to another.

So, Happy International Blasphemy Day. Go out there and offend as many people as possible. Don't leave any stone unturned or any god un-insulted. Do it to show you are alive and free. Do it to show that verbal dissent should never be opposed no matter what you believe.

And without further ado:

Fuck God
Fuck Allah
Fuck Vishnu
Fuck Jesus
Fuck Muhammad
Fuck Buddha
Fuck Krishna
Fuck Tao
Fuck Darwin

And above all, Fuck Eris

That bitch never calls me anyways.

Discordian Hymnal #016

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, September 26, 2009 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #016: "Free Your Hate" by KMFDM:

Indy Star on Evolution

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, September 25, 2009 | Published in

So, I was idly eating my dinner tonight at work while reading my local newspaper, the Indianapolis Star. Usually I just skip right to the comics section and do the cryptoquip for the groan inducing puns. Occasionally though, like tonight, I actually read the front section to see day old news and read the horrific opinions section. What should greet me there but a column from the opinions page editor Russ Pulliam entitled "Taking Darwin on Faith".Yeah, this is going to be a fun one. Surprisingly there aren't as many evolution-denying Young Earth Creationists in Indiana as you would think so this usually isn't a problem. In NCSE's last report on how well each state does at teaching evolution Indiana got an A, Good. I have a feeling that is mostly due to the rather large biotech industry here. Eli Lilly and all of the medical supply companies in Columbus know where their bread is buttered. A population that doesn't have a basic understand of science will eventually vote against research funding. That ends up hurting the companies and the state.

Anyways, back to the story... and it's kind of a big disappointment. Pulliam couldn't even throw in one of the standard Creationist arguments like how complex the eye is, how fine tuned the universe is, or even a dig about Darwin being a racist bastard who caused the Holocaust. Instead we get: blah blah blah 150th anniversary, IU is offering special classes on evolution, surveys show that most Americans are blithering idiots don't believe in evolution. Then he hits us with an old favorite of Kent Hovind:
Yet in the debate between evolution and creation, those on the Darwinian side of the discussion often make the same error that they see in their opponents. They observe nature and evolution within species, or adaptation. From there came Darwin's evolutionary hypothesis that humans evolved from the amoebas.
That's right, the old "Goo to the Zoo to You" card (with a side of "Microevolution, not Macroevolution" slipped underneath). Of course the problem with "Goo to the Zoo to You" is that it skips several trillions of steps in the middle. (Not to mention how supremely ironic this is for someone who believes that man was formed out of dirt and clay and that woman was made out of his rib.) No scientist thinks that several millions of amoebae got together one day and "decided" to become a man. It went unicellular organism, mutlicellular organisms, invertebrate fish, vertebrate fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, primates, apes, then humans with about 3 billion years from the start to today. In other words:Then he has to pull out the old "faith" card:
Many scientists contend that the theory has been proven, or rendered undeniable, by so much research. Yet there's a leap of faith involved in Darwinian theory.
Obviously he is using a definition of faith I had previously not heard. Faith is belief without evidence. With evolution we have evidence. TONS OF IT! Billions of it just lying about the place. For instance, all of genetics and paleontology scream Common Descent. It takes as much faith to believe in evolution as it does to believe in gravity, electromagnetism, germs, and the Big Bang.

To further present his case that every biologist in the last 100 years is wrong he employs the help of... a biologist that also happens to be a minister:

Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Pastor Richard Holdeman also has a doctorate in cell biology and is a lecturer at Indiana University. He sometimes finds himself in the middle of this debate.

"Charles Darwin made careful observations and laid out an elegant theory explaining how biological organisms change over time," Holdeman said.
Carefully note that Professor/Pastor Holdeman has no issue with evolution at all. He even calls it "elegant" which Creationists never do. You aren't helping your case much here, Russ. Next time you want a helpful quote from a questionable authority that denies evolution try giving the Discovery Institute a call. I'm sure they are in your Rolodex.
What troubles Holdeman is how some followers of Darwin have taken his work and turned it into a theological treatise about the origins and purpose of the universe. "Science by nature does not answer questions related to meaning and purpose in the universe." he said. "It is wrong to use science to justify what are essentially religious beliefs. The result is that many religious people are offended by and reject evolution because of its supposed religious implications rather than its scientific merits or lack thereof.

Yes, it is true that evolution doesn't prove that God doesn't exist. That is a slippery eel that will never get disproved since the definition of God keeps changing to something unprovable. All evolution did was take away one of the gaps that God was hiding it. It took away the Teleological and anthropic arguments in one fell swoop and is very quickly working on the argument from morality. Add in the fact that the Big Bang Theory destroyed the cosmological argument and, well, God doesn't have very many places left to hide.
"In addition, some scientists have underplayed the significance of the unanswered questions relating to evolutionary theory. For example, where did the first cell come from? Thus there is a general mistrust of the scientific community among many people of faith."

GAAAAHHHH!!! How the hell does a cellular biologist not know the difference between evolution and abiogenesis??? Seriously, you work around cells all day and presumably have for the last 20 plus years. Evolution doesn't talk about where cells come from, the tell us what happens after those cells got here. A layman like me shouldn't have to tell you this!!!

I almost felt bad writing all of this because Russ's article is just a throwaway column at the end of the week. There was really no substance there except to say that "Sometimes atheists use evolution to say bad things about God." At least he and I can agree on one thing though:
Or, as Holdeman puts it, "As long as evolutionary theory is advocated in semi-religious terms, this debate is not going to go away."
The sooner religion learns to accept scientific fact, the sooner we can all move on to more productive debates. Like, where is my beer?

SEE PART II TO THIS HERE: http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/10/indy-star-on-evolution-pt-ii.html

An Important Healthcare PSA

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Published in

A bunch of Hollywood big shots got together to make an extremely important public service announcement to tell us all about who is really getting screwed over in the current health care debate:

Purdue Pirates Praise Pasta

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, September 21, 2009 | Published in

Those crazy Pasafarians are at it again. Waaay back in May I linked to a video of some of FSMists doing a little preaching at the Ohio State. (You are forgiven if you missed it because no one read my blog back then.) On Friday, which just happened to be Talk Like a Pirate Day, some members of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University got all dolled up in their best pirate regale and preached the gospel of His Noodliness all over campus. They proudly displayed some awesome signs while hanging out in front of the Class of 50 building. They sang pirate songs around Christian preacher Brother Jed. They hijacked the Boilermaker Special (the World's Heaviest Mascot™) They even made friends with a pair of Mormon missionaries. (No word if they exchanged pasta recipes.) All in all it looks like it was a successful day!

You can see tons of pictures and video from the day on the Blag Hag blog since Jen is the one that threw the whole thing together. You should be following her blog anyways. Here's how the local news covered it:

(Yes, all local news programs are that poorly done.)

Putting Faith in Its Place

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, September 18, 2009 | Published in

Yeah, I know that I just posted a QualiaSoup video about two weeks ago but this is another good one that needs to be seen. It drive homes a point I have been saying for years: All of the faith in the world doesn't mean anything unless you have the evidence to back it up.

The Emperor's Sesquicentennial

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Published in

On this day 150 years ago, American history was changed forever. On that day, the United States got it's first emperor. It was September 17, 1859 when Joshua Abraham Norton, patron saint of Discordianism, sent the following letter to every newspaper in San Francisco:
At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.
NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.
And the rest, as they say, is history. A little over a year later he issued a decree dissolving the United States Congress. Later on he decreed that both the Catholic and Protestant churches ordain him Emperor. In 1872 he forever banished the word "Frisco" from the English language saving future San Franciscans from forever having to correct tourists. His illustrious reign lasted for a whole 21 years, almost completely unnoticed by the US government and it's army.

So, if you have the chance today raise a beer in honor of the first and last emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Declare yourself emperor of your own little corner of the globe. And if you are in San Francisco, don't forget to go put some flowers on his grave.

(Tip of the imperial sword to yhnmzw for the reminder)

Black Sheep are Still Sheep

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | Published in

One of the most successful Discordian memebombs over the last couple of years has been "Black sheep are still sheep". According to my research it was originated by DJ RubberDucky near the end of 2006. It was featured at the bottom of page 6 in Black Iron Prison. It is also the fifth most popular memebomb in the One Sentence Memebomb Database. Whenever I post it on Twitter with the #memebomb hashtag it always gets retweeted at least 3 times. It has a power that resonates with people. It's five short words that connect with people right in the gut. It is everything that a memebomb should be.

The weirdest thing that I've noticed about it though is that it has a hidden double meaning. It has become a verbal Rorschach test. I wouldn't have even noticed the hidden second meaning if it wasn't for the fact that I have a nasty habit of hanging out on religious forums talking to religious type people. The meaning that they got out of these memebomb is that "Outsiders are still humans, just like us." People may act weird and wear strange clothes and have crazy political ideas, but deep down they are just like us. There is no reason for Us to be afraid of Them. We aren't so different after all.

Of course, the original intended Discordian message is that "Rebels are still cosmic schmucks". Or to put it more succinctly: "Doing everything exactly opposite from "The Mainstream" is the same thing as doing everything exactly like 'The Mainstream.' You're still using What Everyone Else is Doing as your primary point of reference." Actively rebelling against The System means that you are still playing by The System's rules. Fuck being a Hot Topic punk. Completely ignore what is popular. Be your own person. Think for yourself, schmuck!

Discordian Hymnal #015:

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, September 12, 2009 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #015: "I'm Designer" by Queens of the Stone Age"

119th Skeptics' Circle

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Published in

The 119th edition of the Skeptics' Circle is open over at Cubik's Rube so go peruse all of the links. He gets a bit long winded so you can also check out the Busy Person's edition if you'd rather. My blog post "Evil is Proof of God's Existence" is in there somewhere. The 120th edition is set to be hosted by Pro-science on September 24th. Hopefully I can come up with something good before then.

Choose Your Own Misadventure: The Office Revolution

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

Your Lord and Savior, Professor Cramulus has just added a new and exciting leg of his Choose Your Own Misadventure Wiki. This time instead of going to school, getting lost in an ancient sewer or playing with a purple unicorn you get to enjoy a nice relaxing day at work:
You open your eyes and find yourself sitting in your cubicle at work. The computer hums, the flourescent lights shine overhead. You're wearing uncomfortable clothes and feel generally uncomfortable.

This is "spacing out" -- staring forward and looking at your monitor without doing anything. It looks like you're working, but you're not actually working.

Suddenly, somewhere else in the office, you hear hysterical shrieking.
I won't give away too much of the story away but things devolve rather quickly. For instance here is a nice illustration from page 553:

Now, go have your own misadventure! Or if you are feeling creative, feel free to add on to the story. The choice is yours!!!

Up is Down

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, September 9, 2009 | Published in

I honestly have no idea where this video came from but it is now a Discordian meme. Enjoy it or else!

(Hat tip to Burns and Lysergic.)

Ha! Nailed It!

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, September 7, 2009 | Published in

I love my little memebombs very much. For those not hip to the lingo, memebombs are short one sentence sayings meant to invoke a powerful thought in another person. They are very similar to Zen koans and have been a Discordian tradition since day one where the Principia Discordia was littered with weird sayings in the marginalia such as "It is my firm belief that it is a mistake to hold firm beliefs" and "King Kong Died for Your Sins".

About a year ago, I wrote what I thought was one of my better memebombs:
Religion is a man staring at a tree and wondering who is moving the leaves.
I thought that it succinctly encapsulated the problem religious thought has with purpose, intentionality and agency. Religions often sees intention where none is involved. Everything is seen to have a purpose and many inanimate objects and natural forces are seen as having a mind capable of making decisions. Now imagine my surprise when I was reading the terrific book "Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable" by Bruce Hood (website, Twitter) and read the following on page 97:
In hundreds of interviews with children between the ages of four and twelve years, [Jean] Piaget asked them to explain the workings of the world. He asked them about natural phenomena such as the sun, clouds, rivers, trees, and animals. Where do they come from? Do they have minds?, and so forth. What he discovered was recurrent supernatural beliefs, especially in the youngest children. They thought that the sun follows them around and can think. That’s why children paint smiley faces on suns. It’s much more reassuring to think of it as a friendly being who makes summer days pleasant and people smile than as an inanimate ball of nuclear energy that would frazzle us if it were not for the earth’s protective ozone layer. The children Piaget studied believed that trees have minds and can feel. In short, they thought the inanimate world is alive, something Piaget called “animism.” Animism means attributing a soul (Latin, anima) to an entity, and it can be found in many religions as well as in secular supernaturalism. Where do children get these ideas? No one tells them to think like this. It’s just the way the child makes sense of the world.
Now, I'm not one to brag but...
Excuse me while I do a little victory dance. Don't ever doubt me again.

P.S. Greetings, Google Searcher. Please give credit where credit is due. It took me a whole 5 minutes to make that image.

It Could Be a Coincidence

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Published in

Here is another great video from Qualia Soup, this time about probability, coincidences and how people usually misunderstand them.

Evil is Proof of God's Existence

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, September 5, 2009 | Published in

So, it turns out that I have 3 contacts on the Facebook that just happen to be preachers. This wasn't on purpose. I just happened to grow up in a really small town that is EXTREMELY religious. There is literally 1 church for every 100 people in the county I grew up in. I don't have the census data but I assume that over 90% are Christian (or at least say that they are Christian so that they don't get funny looks). That's what I had to grow up around.

Anyways, just yesterday one of those preacher friends on Facebook posted a bit of Christian propaganda. It was a video called "Why God Exists". Unfortunately I can't find it on YouTube or any other video site so that I can embed it so I'll have to do a little play by play with my own commentary on the side. (Or you can read a similar story here.)
[Setting: 1800's school house during winter. Teacher is talking in a foreign language (Russian?) in the front of the class room about how God doesn't exist since evil exists in the world.]
Ok, I've just gotta stop there first of all. How many elementary school teachers have you had that actively talked about religion? And how many of them blatantly said, "There is no God"? I don't remember this happening very often growing up, but I didn't grow up in the 1800s in Russia either. Moving on...
[Small child in the third row finally has enough. He stands up and asks the teacher if he believes in coldness. Teacher replies, "Of course." Student replies, "Wrong! There is no such thing as coldness. Coldness is just the absence of heat."]
Ok, technically right. Heat exists but coldness and hotness are subjective human inventions. There is no way to accurately measure them because what is cold for one person might be hot for another. This is why me and my wife fight over the thermostat all of the time.
[Student then asks teacher if he believes in darkness. Teacher says yes, again. Student says "Wrong. Darkness is just the absence of light."]
Technically right. We can measure light. Blah blah blah.
[Student finally asks if evil exists. Teacher says yes for a third time. Student says, "Wrong. Evil doesn't exist. Evil is simply the absence of God's love." Teacher then looks down sheepishly. The End.]
GAHHHH!!!! There are so many thing wrong with this that I don't know where to start. First I should point out the obvious anti-intellectualism that seems to permeate many Christian parables like this. It is always some young and innocent student that takes on Mr. Stuffed Shirt, High and Mighty Liberal Professor. It's rather a weird dichotomy that smart people are always shown as not believing in God until a stupid person "brings them to the light". This also happens in the story about the professor who drops the piece of chalk to prove that God doesn't exist. It's almost like they know that well educated people are less likely to believe in their bullshit until they put an emotional argument into it.

Secondly, they have completely redefined "evil" to suit their own purpose. Going by their definition, "evil is the absence of God's love", then that should mean that Christians could never ever do evil and non-Christians could never do good. Obviously that is not true. Someone could write several volumes filled with counter-examples for both of those. A better definition of "evil" that everyone could agree on is "something that purposely causes harm, injury or pain." There is no need to bring God into that definition because, like I already showed, "god" is a meaningless term that brings nothing to the table.

Thirdly, this doesn't get rid of the problem of evil like it purports to. Evil still exists even if you try to define it away. People are still bastards to one another. Nations still go on mad killing sprees. Carlos Mencia is still allowed to do stand up comedy. And God is standing by doing nothing. As Epicurus pointed out several millennium ago, this proves that God is either not omnipotent or he doesn't give a fuck. In either case, that version of God is not worth worshipping.

And finally, something that bugs me about all of these proofs of God, this does nothing to tell us which god exists. This doesn't automatically prove that the Christian or Jewish god exists. Hell, this doesn't even prove that only one god exists. We could very well be living in a universe with a whole pantheon of gods and evil is just their way of settling their petty differences.

See, this is why I should completely avoid Facebook. The comments section on the video was even worse. Most of them were along the lines of "OMG, This is soooo right. I felt so bad for the professor at the end." And people wonder why I don't like going back home. It makes me feel like the kid pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes on.