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Comments by MelM

Go to: Cashing in on Rapture

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 49 by MelM

BTW, the first liars for Jesus were the guys who wrote the pieces which were finally collected into the Bible.

Mon, 23 May 2011 01:38:22 UTC | #629697

Go to: Cashing in on Rapture

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by MelM

But, religion is laughable!
Religion is ridiculous; we laugh at the ridiculous; CBS was laughing; good for them. If the news organizations go out--as they should--and look for the destructive consequences for the lives of the Camping's followers, neither the news organizations nor I will be laughing. There's a laughable angle to religion and an infuriating angle to religion; that's the way it is. An American journalist would realize that they are wasting their time on such a campaign. Anyway, If anyone would take on this task, it would be us atheists. But, for my part, I'd much rather contribute to organizaions bringing court cases to stop further holes in the wall of separation. I think it would be a hard climb to figure out how to tax contributions to a non-profit. And, I certainly don't want the state deciding philosophical matters, such as whether "rapture" is a valid concept or not.

News about Camping
The first news I've seen about Harold. His wife says that he's mystified: abc News article: (link) Harold Camping 'Bewildered' After Apocalypse Comes and Goes Quietly. The board and Camping will meet Tuesday to figure out what to say and do next. I'd love to attend and contribute some suggestions!

Mon, 23 May 2011 01:35:49 UTC | #629696

Go to: My Take: Doomsdayers show what’s wrong with all religion

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by MelM

Great prank rapture video!

Seems there's some rapture pranking going on. Here's a story from msnbc with photos and a well done prank rapture video from Studio City, CA. Be sure to watch the video.

Not so funny, though, is an abc news item about a retired New York City transit worker who has spent $140,000--almost all of his savings--on judgement day placards and posters. The delusions of faith are not without cost to the believer. Faith is a vice.

Sat, 21 May 2011 22:21:02 UTC | #629278

Go to: My Take: Doomsdayers show what’s wrong with all religion

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by MelM

"What will take place on May 21?" and other arcane FACTS about May 21 from Family Radio.

Sat, 21 May 2011 02:09:27 UTC | #629057

Go to: My Take: Doomsdayers show what’s wrong with all religion

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by MelM

Camping might say: "I prayed to God for more time to save people and he gave it to me. Praise the Lord!"

Sat, 21 May 2011 01:53:03 UTC | #629053

Go to: The assumption that altruism is desirable

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by MelM

FYI, Ayn Rand: excerpts on altruism. I think this is what the question is about.

Fri, 25 Feb 2011 00:56:46 UTC | #595785

Go to: Catholic church gives blessing to iPhone app

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by MelM

A digital version of the barking mad is still barking mad.

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 01:24:36 UTC | #590266

Go to: Catholic church gives blessing to iPhone app

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 80 by MelM

"...or have I been involved with the occult? [_] "
Oxford Dictionaries online defines "occult" as:

"supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena"

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 00:55:06 UTC | #590262

Go to: Catholic church gives blessing to iPhone app

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by MelM

Disgusting; however, an iPhone won't be hitting on women and girls as has been a problem with the confessional. As pointed out by Thomas P. Doyle in his book Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse:

"The act of sacramental confession became the occasion for the most heinous form of clergy sexual abuse, namely the solicitation by the priest-confessor of sex with the penitent."
BTW, Doyle documents the failure of celebacy throughout RCC history. Child sexual abuse is just one part of this incredible story--I had no idea, and I think most people don't, what has been going on over the centuries.

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 23:53:38 UTC | #590244

Go to: Catholic church gives blessing to iPhone app

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by MelM

Where is the box for:

"Have I engaged in any independant thought about the truth/falsehood of Catholicism?"

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 23:52:08 UTC | #590243

Go to: Bible Writers Intended to Deceive

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by MelM

Some person or persons had to invent all the religious drivel: they just sat around and made it all up. Perhaps they were drunks, junkies, or just plain liars--or, maybe, all three.

I got a lot out of Ehrman's "Jesus Interrupted." I knew next to nothing about the Bible: my parents didn't go to church (although my mom believed somewhat--she didn't say much) and my grandparents didn't go to church and there was no attempt at religious instruction from them although I went to some Bible class--for awhile--off the grade school grounds. So, I was surprised to find out from Ehrman that there are two Christmas stories in the Bible and that they are very different. Of course, I read the two versions; both were barking mad.

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 23:02:25 UTC | #590226

Go to: Engaging the religious in their own websites and forums

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by MelM

Comment 35 by coltellaccio

I think it's important to put forward the other side of the argument. The only time I've done this was in the comments section of a book review criticising so-called "New Atheism". I didn't like the idea of someone stumbling across this article just like I had and thinking that this view was uncontested.

Nice idea for an important niche!

Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:35:08 UTC | #584612

Go to: Engaging the religious in their own websites and forums

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by MelM

Perhaps many here don't realize it, but there are plenty of general purpose U.S. news threads where the pious take one hell of a beating. And, if you're the Pope, you're feelings are really going to be hurt--hurt bad. I've not make any sort of study, but I've seen religion getting kicked around on many news sites.

Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:27:38 UTC | #584608

Go to: Engaging the religious in their own websites and forums

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by MelM

Linking to books and web sites:
I don't try to post on specifically religious sites. Instead, I use the major news sites--mostly msnbc.com. All kinds of people show up there, including many atheists. One can use XHTML tags including the link tag which I try to use as much as I can. For example, if the issue involves separation of church and state, I will link to Chris Rodda's book Liars for Jesus or to some of her videos debunking the stuff coming from the new TV team up of Glen Beck and David Barton. I often link to the online essay The Christian Nation Myth. I've linked to the Thomas P. Doyle book Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse. I've linked to The Brick Testament and The Skeptics Annotated Bible. I don't bother replying to "My prayers go out..." but I do reply to those who thank God for something actually done by the efforts and intelligence of people; I will say something like "In justice, I thank the doctors..." I've linked to the site for Compassion and Choices when it comes to supporting doctor assisted suicide. I will point out the contrast between the approaches of faith and holy books vs reason and reality. I don't believe that most pious have ever heard about this contrast--and many other ideas. I've not read the "Converts Corner" here but I'm going to look at it to see if it would help if I linked to it.

New ideas are needed:
For those who understand the power of ideas and the power of the web, posting around can get ideas out in public that most have never seen. Expose people to books, essays, and web sites. It'll take better ideas to drive out the old rotten ideas; if we neglect that task, then the cause is lost. However, please don't sacrafice; sometimes "Let someone else do it." is a fine position to take--like the atheist woman did in the movie "Chocolat."

Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:10:12 UTC | #584604

Go to: Bright star of the atheist universe

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by MelM



A: "I'm a bright."
B: "What's that?"
A: "Atheist."
B: "If you thought I wasn't going to ask, you're not very bright."

No "bright," please!
An atheist is an atheist. Nobody's going to be fooled by a little trick. How would it be defined except by saying "atheist"? Also, "bright" would make us the target of jokes. There's no way to hide from:

Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
We should also use other identifiers.
In the context of religion, atheist is what we are. In other contexts, we're other things. I think it would be helpful if atheists--especially those who speak in public forums such as TV--would mention at least one of the other things they are: father, mother, jazz fan, movie buff, engineer, gardener, flower arranger, etc. Using these other identifiers links us into the world familiar to the viewer and humanizes us.

Tue, 25 Jan 2011 23:38:21 UTC | #584179

Go to: "The Selfish Gene's" negative message

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 83 by MelM

Perhaps sacrificing self for others vs sacrificing others for self (patsy or predator) is a false dichotomy in ethical theory. In our daily lives, we do very little--or none at all--of either. Some easily affordable charity hardly changes the pattern at all. I and most everyone else in the U.S. could give much much larger chunks of our paychecks or savings to charity, but we don't. Why? Because I and everyone else wants to live, enjoy our lives, and care for people and institutions close to us that are so important. Buying a CD or downloading a movie from iTunes (SPLICE this evening) isn't altruistic, nor is giving money to support political goals. I'll be seriously looking at getting an iPad-2 this year and I don't think this makes me immoral even though it is, for sure, not altruistic: I could easily give it up and send the money to Africa and, of course, garner loads of praise for the sacrifice of my own enjoyment.

Anyway, although I haven't read it yet, I hope Harris' new book will, at least, open up thinking in the field of ethics. Christianity has saddled us with some real anti-life stuff (The Brick Testament, Jesus: On Love) that needs to be challenged if ethics is to become a practical scientific guide that gets beyond saying "it's good because God says it's good" or "it's good because my feelings say it's good" or "it's good because society says it's good" (God's whim, personal whim, or social whim). When the pious ask "where do you get your ethics?", New Atheists should be able to say (instead of evading the question) "from the facts of human life in the real world--by means of reason, as best I can."

Sat, 22 Jan 2011 04:59:39 UTC | #582319

Go to: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Biology...

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 94 by MelM

I see a review of--what looks like the right book--at amazon.com. The reviewer, Gavin, says: "Creationist rubbish. Free thinking minds beware!, January 13, 2011" If "Gavin" isn't you, consider writing a review.

Sat, 15 Jan 2011 02:37:42 UTC | #578633

Go to: Near-Record High See Religion Losing Influence in America

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by MelM

So, if the importance of religion is about the same, how is it that we have the "Christian Nation" nutters trying to take power and end the separation of church and state. Where did the TV team up of Glen Beck and David Barton come from? And, the fight against evolution is now constant.

Fri, 14 Jan 2011 22:30:33 UTC | #578557

Go to: Near-Record High See Religion Losing Influence in America

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by MelM

Wasn't there a recent report about how people seemingly lie to the pollsters when it comes to religion?

There was another poll recently that said 75% of Americans pray each week. I don't believe that at all.

Looking at the prayer fest in Tucson this week, one would think religion was quite alive. Pelosi was talking about the power of prayer and Obama gave the first sermon I've heard since I was a kid. Obama's sermon was so radically unusual for him, that I'm worried that the Dems are going to seriously try to play a religion card. I believe Obama even used the word "scripture" in the speech.

Fri, 14 Jan 2011 22:18:47 UTC | #578553

Go to: Jacobs: Birds Are Dying Because of DADT Repeal

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 90 by MelM

Cindy, there is a well known name for your vision of pattern: it's called:

Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Wikipedia),

"Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for "after this, therefore because of this", is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states, "Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one." It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause, coincidental correlation, or correlation not causation."
You really should make an effort to ask "What is this and what is its cause?" Just asking these questions can help keep you on the rails instead of falling off into the bottomless pit of fantasy. Wikipedia even has a page about fallacy and amazon.com has a considerable number of books on the subject.

Thu, 13 Jan 2011 22:06:42 UTC | #577972

Go to: 'Psycho killer'? The Jared Lee Loughner case brings out the usual abuse

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by MelM

I was reading some of the comments at Slate for the Hitchens story when I ran across a link to this disgusting announcement from the Westboro Baptist Church.

Title of a WBC news release (via HuffingtonPost)

THANK GOD FOR THE SHOOTER-6 DEAD! WBC WILL PICKET THEIR FUNERALS!

Thu, 13 Jan 2011 02:12:19 UTC | #577503

Go to: 'Psycho killer'? The Jared Lee Loughner case brings out the usual abuse

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by MelM

There was more going on than in the usual assassination. There were 6 killed and 14 others wounded. In this story ((AP) Glock 19 Demonstration: Just How Powerful Is It?) and video at Fox 9, MN, it says that Loughner brought 2 "extended magazines" with 31 bullets each and also two "regular mazazines." He came with a lot more in mind than just to kill Giffords. I don't know what to make of this other than that he must have had an agenda that including killing a lot of people.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 22:07:05 UTC | #577381

Go to: 'Psycho killer'? The Jared Lee Loughner case brings out the usual abuse

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by MelM

We know there is no such thing as mental illness or well-being

This is nonsense.

I think we're held back by this ridiculous attempt to name everything.
And more nonsense. Try to discuss such a theory without naming things. The "names" are called "concepts." Adequate conceptualization of fuzzy problems gives one a big start toward solving them.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 06:40:53 UTC | #577008

Go to: Sarah Palin's camp says depraved liberals blame her for mass murders

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 99 by MelM

The pious claim atheism caused Hitler and Stalin and that it and Darwinism are, basically, the root of all evil. This doesn't contain the language of violence, yet it wouldn't surprise me at all to see some atheists attacked. However, when the abortion doctor, Dr. Tiller, was shot, there was discussion then about some of the fanatic groups that nobody ever heard of. One story remarked that the leaders of these groups are aware of potential violence coming from their groups and try to head it off. This makes some sense when one considers that politcal killings are rare.

At this point, I've not heard any talk about instituting hate-speech laws; the notion of hate-speech laws worries me far more than violence by nutters. Every right has some potential for misuse--for example, doctor assisted suicide--but that is not a good reason to take the right away.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 22:29:05 UTC | #576310

Go to: Sarah Palin's camp says depraved liberals blame her for mass murders

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 77 by MelM

"An ardent atheist..."?

Here's an msnbc story: Friends tell of Ariz. suspect's anger, paranoia

'He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon,' one wrote in June

From the story, this guy is one of the weirdest people I've ever heard of. Y'know, like "ya just can't make this stuff up." The article includes the claim that he was "An ardent atheist..."

I knew Palin is a religious nut and that she'd be the worst presidential candidate I can think of. But, I hadn't seen the side of her described in the report posted here; I guess we don't run in the same circles. Anyway, she's giving me more reason for concern.

I'm just collecting up info and am not ready to draw conclusions about any connection of Loughner to heated political rhetoric.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 21:38:27 UTC | #576279

Go to: A very short introduction to non-overlapping magisteria

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by MelM

Let's see...

Conflicts:

-Religion takes concepts derived from observations in the natural world and tries to stretch them to a non-natural realm where no observations are possible. It tries to stretch concepts way beyond the context in which they were developed while voiding much of the meaning derived from the natural world. For example, "life" and "death." This is grossly unscientific.

-Religion claims the creation of the universe (all reality).

-Religion claims supernatural causation--such as for life and the universal constants etc. If "God did it," then God did it, and no scientific hypothesis for the event could get through test. No natural explanation could be found--because, none would exist.

Religion claims miracles and prayers. But, science states its laws as causal generalizations which are true in every instance (within the right context). For miracles and prayers, the laws would have to switch from true to false and back again--bouncing from on to off to on again. The concept of the supernatural would have God making natural entities do things which, by natural law (and science) they can't do.

In ethics, the idea that "what's good is what God says is good" completely separates ethics from any foundation in human life. Thus we get flat-out absurdities which (atheist) The Brick Testament does so well at turning into a joke. See Jesus: On Love.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 04:07:25 UTC | #575947

Go to: Liberty University

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by MelM

My love of film created the first rift with my faith because many christians disapprove of R rated films.

An incident I'm still--and, I think, always will be--livid about is how the pious reacted to the Dakota Fanning film "Hounddog." (Some wanted her parents and others to be arrested.) While I have issues with that movie, the performance of 12 1/2 year old Fanning was superb as were the performances of the adults. (All the actors, including Fanning, worked for union scale and refused financing that would have removed the rape scene.) I certainly have no issue with Dakota's rape scene; it was heart wrenching and beautifully done. The young Fanning, knowing very well how the scene was filmed, had to explain that "none of the kids in the movie went through anything; it's called acting." I suppose, too, that the pious would have nothing to do with the Jodie Foster movie "The Accused." Too bad though: the role permitted a great performance and Foster delivered, throughout the film (not just in the gang-rape scene), the best performance I can recall.

BTW, (if you're interested) I recently found a DVD of the 1928 "Lights of New York" which was the first all-talking movie--IMO, the beginning of modern film.

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 01:00:55 UTC | #575911

Go to: Liberty University

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by MelM

Besides the several good ideas already presented, consider writing a chapter talking specifically to believers. For example, explain the mistakes they're making in the way they think.

...poor man's expert on contemporary Christian culture. I know how it all works...

This is a huge topic; you'll have to limit yourself considerably and carefully.

New Apostolic Reformation:
You'll have to judge whether it fits with the purpose of your book and whether it's important enough, but I'm really concerned about C. Peter Wagner and his "New Apostolic Reformation." If I'm not mistaken, this is involved in projects that are designed to put religion in the halls of city government. For example, a project for parolees, gets the pious inside of the criminal court system where they can gain influence. I don't know if any "faith-based" charity money from the government is being used in this way; however I'm concerned that tax money may be being used to fund the Christian Nation power grab. Also, I've read that there's a connection between NAR and Sarah Palin, but I don't know how strong it is.

Liars for Jesus:
So far as "Christian Nation" is concerned, I suggest reading Chris Rodda's book Liars for Jesus and giving it a little plug in your book. Of the several approaches to rebutting the Christian Nation propaganda, this book is the only one I know of which directly tackles the claims of the Christian Nation historians--such as David Barton.

A big challenge will be to get the book's size down to a weight that most everyone can deal with--and that a publisher will tolerate.

Sun, 09 Jan 2011 23:24:33 UTC | #575879

Go to: There should be no atheists

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by MelM

Comment 83 by Radesq, Comment 84 by Steve Zara

True and true.

In #77, I gave my view that the best (maybe only) way to refute religion is to start with views that are based on real facts and then show that religion contradicts these facts. For example, the incontestable fact that someone was in Los Angeles refutes the claim by an accuser that they were robbing a bank in London at the same time. The task then is to come up with incontestable facts and show that they cannot be denied without self-contradiction. Here, I think Aristotle was onto something very very important with his concept of axioms (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). BTW, these are not axioms in the sense of Euclid or the axioms of the real number system--facts about cats or mountains can't be inferred from them: we have to go look at cats and mountains. Note also how these provide a base for reason which the pious spend so much effort in undercutting. I've looked carefully at the outrageous attacks on reason and sciecne by the pious. The pious always ignore the axioms at the base of reason then claim that reason and science are only matters of faith, just like their bullshit. Anyway, the key to refutation is a positive context of knowledge.

We now have centuries of scientific study that makes the claims of religion absurd. For example, the claim of life after death, now that we know lots about how life works, is claiming that there can be life without the organs of life (such as a heart and lungs) and consciousness without the organs of consciousness (such as eyes and a brain). I think it's fair to just say that the theist's views make no sense and, therefore, are false.

Sun, 09 Jan 2011 06:45:37 UTC | #575581

Go to: There should be no atheists

MelM's Avatar Jump to comment 78 by MelM

I too didn't like the idea of "bright" at all. Besides not helping, it would just make us the target of jokes. It also seems to be a little intimidation ploy. Besides that, it pre-loads the concept with positive evaluation--kinda tacky.

Sun, 09 Jan 2011 01:03:02 UTC | #575482