Apocalypse Now

Well, tomorrow anyway.

Our friend Harold Camping is still claiming that the world will be destroyed by fire tomorrow, October 21. He already failed to predict the Rapture on May 21. By the end of the day, everyone was still here even though lots of people jokingly left clothes on the ground in random places as though people had been spirited away.

Camping later claimed that it was a “spiritual rapture”, or a “rapture of the spirit”. There does not seem to be any reference on what that term means precisely. One could guess that means that the spirits or souls of believers were taken on May 21, leaving their bodies behind on auto pilot.

Camping still claims that the rapture (albeit a different kind) DID occur on May 21. Therefor Judgement Day is still scheduled for tomorrow. “Probably”. Yes, he is already hedging his bets according to an article in the Global Post.

Camping said “the end is going to come very, very quietly probably within the next month … by October 21. Probably there will be no pain suffered by anyone because of their rebellion against God,” he said, according to the Post. “We can become more and more sure that they’ll quietly die and that will be the end of their story.”

He has said nothing else about the Judgement of non-believers and sinners. According to the above line, our Judgement, as with everyone else, is to cease existing. Which is what scientific evidence shows us anyway.

Before the supposed Rapture last year, I subscribed to Camping’s email just so i could keep tabs on what he is up to. The following is the most recent email that has been sent out:

Web Site Update 10-19-21

1.    New message on Luke 11:5-13: Does this mean salvation has been and is possible during the 5 months.”  This message was done in response to multiple people sending me emails on this subject.  It can be accessed from here.

2.    Our prolific writer, Brother Robert Fitzpatrick has completed a new article entitled “May YouBe Like The spider,” which is accessed in left-had column of site here.

I really look forward to seeing all of you who are God’s elect very soon in paradise. As I contemplate what is most likely to take place within the next couple days, I have to remind myself that we walk by faith and not by sight because it is all just too incomprehensibly awesome to be able to put one’s mind around. Our human natures alone would not allow us to believe in such things, but through the faith of Christ, we believe it, for after all, it does come from the very Word of God, and to my knowledge, no one has legitimately disproven the biblical calendar of history. Is it possible we do not see all things clearly? Absolutely, for as long as we are still in this world, we see through a glass dimly. Nevertheless, I am convinced that whether one is saved, or whether one is just an open-minded seeker of truth, if all the evidence and proofs for the accuracy of the biblical timeline are carefully examined, there is just too much support from the Bible to think this is just some falsely devised scheme of men. That is not possible!

Brother Mike

http://May-212011.com

May 21, 2011 was the beginning of The 5 Months of Judgment Day. There is no longer any possibility for salvation!  October 21, 2011 is The End of the World by fire.

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Elton John: “Jesus Was Gay”

The premiere of my series “Why It Doesn’t Work has been preempted by Elton John.

It’s been the talk of the news media and the blogosphere for days now. Elton John was quoted in an interview with Parade magazine over the weekend as saying “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems. On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East — you’re as good as dead.”.

Unfortunately in his attempt to make sense of the figure of Jesus, he outraged a metric crapton (yes that IS an actual measurement) of religious groups. Of course it really doesn’t take much to outrage religious groups these days. So it’s not surprising that Sir Elton’s attempt to make sense of religion really pissed some people off.

Church leaders and biblical scholars rushed to dispute John’s views of Jesus.

Lecturer Joan Taylor, of King’s College London, insisted Jesus was celibate or “sexually ascetic”.

Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said the gay claim was “a desperate cry for attention”.

A kinder take on Sir Elton’s ideas from Catholic Herald editor Luke Coppen were: “Someone once said we all try to remake God in our own image. It’s just possible that Elton John might be guilty of that.”

A Church of England spokesman said insights on Jesus were “perhaps best left to academics”

Bloggers have come out of the woodwork decrying Elton’s quotes as well:

One blogger known as Rhardin tells Fox News’ 411 blog, “I will never listen to this man’s music again. How dare he speak of my Lord in such a disgraceful way. He should not speak on things he knows nothing about. I hope and pray that all Christians will take a stand on this one. Elton John’s lifestyle speaks for itself.”

Elsewhere, bobj72 tells TheDailyBeast.com, “While I have had some appreciation for Elton John’s music…he could not be further from the truth on this matter regarding Jesus. It is clearly stated in Leviticus 18:22, 23; that Christ sees homosexuality as an abomination.”

Upon investigation, Jesus did not say anything of the sort in that passage. Jesus wasn’t even quoted because Leviticus is one of the books in the Old Testament. Even in the Old Testament (NIV version) homosexuality isn’t called an abomination. It is called “detestable” : ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Technically homosexuality isn’t referred to at all.

Some Biblical scholars even claim that the interpretation is wrong and that quote actually means that two men shouldn’t have sex in the marriage bed that a hetero couple share.

All that aside, I think that too many people put far too much stock into what celebrities say. If I said that Jesus got it on with Mary Magdalene and they had a kid just like Dan Brown said in his novel, no one would give a rat’s hind quarters because 1) I’m not a celebrity and 2) most people know I’m a non-believer and would expect me to say something like that.

Lots of people worship a black Jesus, a European Jesus or a Spanish Jesus. They seek to make their god something they can understand and relate to. Elton did the same thing. Nothing more. I have no belief in any divine being, but I can relate to that.

Belief

I understand that belief in a capital-h higher power is a relatively complex thing. People believe for a number of reasons. I have to wonder though… How much of belief is a coping mechanism for helplessness.

For instance, a loved one is in the hospital with a severe illness. Someone who feels an overwhelming sense of being able to do nothing might turn to something larger than themselves in hopes THAT being can make it better. Perhaps praying, thus perceived as doing something, is better than doing nothing.

Would that then make belief a coping mechanism?

I understand that belief has been a way to make sense of the world. Can it be diluted down to that? Is belief in a higher power just a different form of homeopathy?

What do you think? Is belief a coping mechanism? A form of comfort? A way of making sense of the world?

Wives: Submit To Your Husbands

According to an article on Fox News, two UK preachers have come under fire for preaching that wives should submit to their husbands. “Vicar Angus MacLeay urged the congregation at St. Nicholas Church in Sevenoaks, Kent, to “submit” to their husbands. A few days later, Curate Mark Oden preached, “We know marriage is not working.”

According to Curate Mark Oden, one in four children have divorced parents. He seems to be inferring that figure is due to wives not submitting to their husbands.

The sermon caused outrage and one disgusted woman was quoted as saying “How can they talk that way in the 21st century?”

I find it highly interesting that these two men appear to be blaming women for the divorce rate. They also do not supply any data to support the figure one in four children come from divorced parents. Why is it acceptable to blame one gender for divorce and not the other? Where is the evidence to support the notion that a husband’s judgment is better than a wife’s simply because he is a man? Rather than blame women for the fact that “marriage is not working”, why not find out why it REALLY isn’t working? Would that presume that men are fallible in their leadership of the home?

Misogyny seems to be alive and well in the British Church.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Cloning Neanderthals

According to an article from Fox News, cloning Neanderthals to create healthy, living specimens could become a reality 944NqQ Of course years ago when Jurassic Park first came out, scientists were discussion the possible reality of cloning dinosaurs. Now, thanks to the incredible increase in computing power over the last few years, sequencing genomes for such a project is becoming a real possibility according to Archaeology Magazine.

Cloning is still an inexact science, however. Restoring the DNA of a specimen tens of thousands of years old faces the challenges of chemical changes, breakdown of the biological matter and a myriad of possible contaminants.

Even if those challenges can be overcome, the question still remains: Should this be done? If so, to what end? If Neanderthals were brought back, would they qualify for human rights? If there were colonies of them, how would they support themselves and their families? Would Geico be sued for hate speech or would they be the major employer for Neanderthal kind?

What do you think? Are Neanderthals close enough to us to be considered to have human rights? Would we have living vignettes in natural history museums? What effect would Neanderthal tribes have on our world today? On Religion and Creationism?

For more information visit http://www.archaeology.org/1003/etc/neanderthals.html


Darwinism vs Intelligent Design

I want to start by saying that I know just enough about both Darwin’s theory of evolution and Intelligent Design to get myself in trouble. I’m hoping that my ideas and comparisons of the two will kick-start a discussion here.

What I know about Darwin’s theory: Charles Darwin, after visiting the Galapagos Islands, theorized that animals changed over long periods of time through what he termed “natural selection”. Natural selection, as I understand it, is that a dominant trait is sustained and reproduced over time while non-dominant traits like a vestigial tail, slowly cease to be because it is no longer needed. Other scientists took this theory and ran with it extending it to ALL living creatures.

What I know about Intelligent Design: From watching Ben Stein’s documentary I came to the conclusion that Intelligent Design is an offshoot or step up from creationism. Creationism states that the Judaeo-Christian god created the earth and everything on it in seven calendar days. Intelligent Design theorizes that everything is so very complex that there must be some intelligent designer or architect that either started it all or designed it. Whether that designer is god or something else, no one will say. Apparently if it’s not god it’s “something”.

Intelligent design is a bit vague. It also doesn’t seem to show a great deal of testable evidence to support the theory that “something” created the world and all life on it. I did once hear that fossils were put here to test our faith and give us something to think about but no dinosaurs actually existed.

As for Darwinism, I understand that the theory is considered flawed. In what respect, I am not educated enough about it to really understand. I do know that Darwinism is a jumping off point for the theory of evolution that we have today. In fact, evolution is so widely accepted that it is no longer called a theory.

I think I understand where the ID people get stuck. They seem to think that because Darwin’s theory might have been flawed, the entire idea of evolution is either wrong. It’s a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water in my opinion. With that in mind they get bogged down with the idea that other scientists have refined Darwin’s ideas and evolved them, for want of a better term, into what we know as evolution today.

I think where evolutionists get bogged down is that the idea of intelligent design goes against how scientists are trained to think. Since ID people believe that complexity = a designer, scientists hear, ” Correlation MUST equal causation!”. Which is the total opposite of a scientific method. So occasionally you get some very frustrated people whose head just explodes.

ID people are seeking to put order to chaos. The idea that everything was just a great big happy accident IS downright frightening for some. They’re trying to make sense of things that sometimes are just beyond our comprehension at this point in human development. Humans have an overdeveloped sense of pattern recognition. It served us well in much earlier times but now we see things like the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s human nature.

What are your thoughts? Is there a compromise? How would it work?

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed 2

Ben Stein hosts this documentary which “examines the criticisms and hostilities that exist in today’s scientific field (both academic and professional) towards peers and journalists who subscribe to or even entertain the perspective of Intelligent Design in science”.

I have unfortunately failed to make it all the way through this film as of this writing. At the one hour mark, I set it aside for the time being. The cinematography and editing make it extraordinarily difficult to follow. The interviews with such notables as PZ Meyers pharyngula and Richard Dawkins richarddawkins.net along with Intelligent design proponents at The Discovery Institute www.discovery.org and more are interspersed with black and white film clips from what appears to be the early years of the Berlin Wall. There are other nonsensical clips inserted to act as confirmation of a point that had just been made by an interviewee.

In all honesty this looks like something a first year film student would throw together the night before a project was due while he was still high. Now IF you can get past that, the movie asks a valid question.

According to the narrative, a group of scientists, teachers and a journalist have all either been fired, censured or generally had their careers ruined for bringing up the question of Intelligent Design. Details are sketchy as to the content that led to the censure/firing, etc. The film indicates that in the cases shown, merely mentioning Intelligent Design or writing about it led to the firings. IF this is the case, why were these people censured so severely?

In the film, the main argument for creationism seemed to be that since a single cell is so complex, there must have been a designer. Most of those interviewed shied away from the idea that the designer was the Judaeo Christian god. They instead asked that the concept that “something greater than ourselves” be investigated as a possible theory for the origin of life.

It seems a reasonable request until you consider that they can’t or won’t even define what that “something” might be. They are simply theorizing that because everything is so complex that it could not possibly have happened by chance. Their example of why it couldn’t was an animation of a guy and a bunch of slot machines.

Like I said…stoned first year film student.

I’m bothered by the idea that these people supposedly all lost their jobs and careers, or nearly so, because they discussed an alternative idea. The makers of this film took pains to equate the censures and firings with Nazi Germany. Obviously an extreme example. It poses the question, however, “At what point does freedom of speech cease to be free?’. I hope someone will investigate this further and find out why these people were treated like this..

Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor “Atheists Not Fully Human”

Many previously thought that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was a little off his rocker. Earlier this week in an interview he stated that “atheists are not fully human” because we do not “search for transcendent meaning”. In other words, because atheists do not seek the answers to larger questions such as “why are we here?”, “Where do we come from?” and “Is this all that there is?”, atheists have not fully developed their humanity.

This is, from my perspective, a huge presumption on the Cardinal’s part. As an atheist, asking the bigger questions is one of the major reasons many people become atheists. Rather than reaching the conclusion that there is a higher power or grand designer involved, we choose to listen to science and let logic and fact answer those bigger questions. Skeptics weigh the information at hand, weed out the fact from the fiction and use the scientific method to evaluate the facts.

When Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor says things like this, he is speaking out of ignorance. I say ignorance and not stupidity because ignorance can be educated. He seems to be a cognizant man capable of clear thought. He is simply misinformed.

Yes, I understand that what I just said sounds like I’m delusional and living in a candy-coated world. I would just prefer to give the Cardinal the benefit if the doubt. Because if I don’t and he really did know what he was saying, that implies a number of horrifying thoughts.

If atheists and other non-believers are not fully human, or less than human then we can be treated the same way African-Americans were. They were once thought of as less than human and summarily treated like animals. Dictators through the ages have used that “logic” to commit genocide. If the Cardinal truly believes that we are less than human, to what lengths will he go to assure our “humanity”? Are we in for a  modern Inquisition? The ramifications of the Cardinal’s comments are horrifying.

The insult is secondary. I am fairly certain if he was sincere in his statement that it was meant to insult the atheist community as a whole. Perhaps he feels it is justified. After all, high profile individuals in the atheist and skeptical community have said some unkind things about the Catholic Church. Apparently it’s okay to stoop to petty vengeance. Again, that is IF he understands the ramifications of what he said.

I may want to live in a candy-coated world but I’m not naive. I believe that the Cardinal knew full well what he was saying and what it implied. And to that I reply, “Fuck you, you sonofabitch”.

Sorry, dear readers. Sometimes I just can’t be a good skeptic.

***Unfortunately YouTube removed the video of the interview for violations. Please google “Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor “Atheists Not Fully Human” for other perspectives on this interview.

Breaking News: US Missionaries Charged With Kidnapping

According to breaking reports on the BBC:

Haiti has charged 10 US missionaries with child abduction and criminal conspiracy for allegedly trying to smuggle children out of the country.

If convicted they face lengthy jail terms, says the BBC’s Paul Adams at the court hearing in Haiti’s quake-hit capital, Port-au-Prince.

When stopped on the border last Friday, they said they were taking the children to a Dominican Republic orphanage.

But it has emerged some of the 33 youngsters had parents who were alive.

‘Kidnappers’

The five men and five women, most of them from Idaho, were due to have a hearing earlier in the week, but that was postponed because of a lack of interpreters.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has labelled the Americans “kidnappers”.

Residents in the village of Callebas told an Associated Press news agency reporter they had handed their children over through a local orphanage worker who said he was acting on the Americans’ behalf.

The worker is said to have promised the families that the missionaries would educate their children in neighbouring Dominican Republic.

A number of parents in the badly-damaged village said they would find it difficult to provide for their children if they came back.

The mission’s leader, Laura Silsby, has said her group had met a Haitian pastor by chance when they arrived last week, and that he had helped them gather the children. She also admitted that they did not have the proper paperwork.

“Our intent was to help only those children that needed us most, that had lost either both their mother and father, or had lost one of their parents and the other had abandoned them,” she said from her jail cell on Wednesday.

Christians Accused of Child Trafficking

At this point many people have heard about the 10 men and women from the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho who are charged with child trafficking. They claim it was a terrible misunderstanding brought about by a desire to get the “orphaned” children some help in the Dominican Republic.

Some of the children claim otherwise. One girl, according to ABC News, cried as she told them that she is not an orphan and she thought she was going to boarding school or summer camp. Other children have told authorities that their parents are alive and even gave addresses.

What had these people been telling these children?

According to the AFP  9T8C9f , the Christian group was trying to take over 30 children with them across the border. They had no adoption documentation for any of the children. The leader of the group, claims that the Haitian government told her she could simply take the children across the border.

“Patricia Vargas, head of an international center caring for the children, said some of the older ones had spoken to aid workers and ”say their parents are alive, and some of them gave us an address and phone numbers”.

Ms Vargas said officials at the Haitian Institute of Social Welfare, which deals with adoptions, had told her that most of the children had families.”

According to another article d8UHS7 Border police “saw a bus with a lot of children. Thirty-three children. When asked about the children’s documents, they had no documents,” Haitian Culture and Communications Minister Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said.

A third article states that along with the 10 US citizens there were two adult Haitians. Even if none of the members of the Christian group spoke Creole or French, the official languages of Haiti, then the two Haitians with them would have been able to find out if indeed the children they were “rescuing” were orphans.

A video here 9irKpC gives further details.

At this point authorities still  do not know where the group got the children from. For the time being, while their families are being located, the children are being looked after at an Austrian-sponsored orphanage.

It is being speculated that the group will be released to the US for trial as the Haitian court system is currently in a state of devastation.

Here is where skepticism in daily life comes in. It is possible that this group just wanted to take the children some place safe and didn’t think things through. The woman in the video said they wanted to “provide a safe and loving home for these kids who have nothing”.

It seems that, according to the group’s “logic”, it was alright to take the children from parents who love them because things are desperately difficult in Haiti right now. If this devastation had taken place somewhere in the US would it still be okay to take children from parents who love them?

Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin identified the Americans as members of an Idaho-based charity called New Life Children’s Refuge.

”This is an abduction, not an adoption,” he said.

What do you think? Are these well-meaning people without a clue or are they child traffickers taking advantage of a bad situation?

***UPDATE*** index_html

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