Ryan Crocoduck’s New Year’s Challenge

Hey everybody, Happy New Year!

Social media is a tricky beast. It can do a really great job of keeping people connected across continents and introducing us to new things as our friends share them. However, it can also serve to spread misinformation at incredible speeds and its buffet style approach to information sharing can create an echo chamber where we only see posts we already agree with.

Last year saw a number of hoaxes get shared millions of times in a matter of days. Fake news sites attempting (and failing miserably) to emulate the Onion generated articles that were taken as fact and spread around the social media platforms. Meanwhile, it seems that topics of public discussion quickly turn into shouting matches with people on all sides of the issues regurgitating only what they’ve read in articles preselected to appeal to them. We are constantly feeding on information that confirms our beliefs, demonizes those who disagree with us, and values the rhetorical impact of a statement over its factual accuracy. When our carefully constructed information bubbles collide with another person’s bubble, chaos ensues and truth is often ignored.

Let’s try to stop that, ok? I offer this challenge both to myself and you: before you post, (re)tweet, share, like, or pass an article or video on to your peers, take some time to verify that the information it  contains is actually true. Don’t just click “like” because you agree with the headline. If it’s not worth your time to spend 5-10 minutes making sure that you’re not spreading false information, than it’s not worth posting it. If it’s about something political or about any topic where sides are taken, don’t just confirm with sources that agree with you. Go find out what the other side has to say about the information. It’s possible that sources friendly to your views are editing out or neglecting bits of information that run counter to the message they want to present. Be as critical of sources that agree with you as you are of sources that disagree with you. If you search and can’t find the facts, feel free to share the article in question and ask your friends, in particular the ones that disagree with you, to help you determine the truth.

So there you have it, that’s my challenge to you. Let’s honestly try our best this year to check our facts, be critical of articles that we agree with, and not post anything that we haven’t verified as true. Let’s make this year more informative and less reactionary than 2013.

-Ryan

Doing Science With Kevin Swanson

nobodybroughtupleviticus18I hate to break it to you godless nerds, but according to talk radio giant Kevin Swanson (of whom I had never heard until this story hit my news feed), Star Trek: Into Darkness is a pretty evil movie, because it’s all about having sex with aliens, which we all know never happened in the original series.

…and of course the whole premise of this is that within an evolutionary construct there is no real problem with speciation and cross-species mating, there’s no problem with that at all, in fact that’s how you evolve, that’s how you get evolution, and so the end result of course is that evolution has no basic problem with bestiality or cross-species mating.

And that, my friends, is how evolution works.  So glad he cleared that up for us.  And it’s awesome that he’s able to filter out all that other stuff to get to the heart of the movie – the sex scene between Kirk and a couple of hot alien babes. [Read more...]

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 49: Daniel 10:15

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title Image

Hello, hello everyone and welcome to the somewhat delayed 49th edition of the Bible’s Greatest Hits. I’m hoping that you’re all enjoying brilliant summer weather, relaxing on a beach somewhere, and sipping some sort of adult beverage as I write this. If not, than I hope the verse I have coming up at least lifts your spirit to the point where you feel like you’re sitting on a beach. I have one article I want to mention before I get there though. To use Colbert’s terms, this is a bit of a tip of the hat and a wag of the finger in one go. This Christian Post article about NFL Players Association selling pro-LGBTQ t-shirts bears some really good news. The fact that a major “macho” professional sports organization is stepping out to show that it isn’t bigoted is really positive, genuinely good news. So, tip of the hat to the NFLPA for being awesome. But before we get ahead of ourselves, read the second half of the article. It attempts to link this story with the Jason Collins coming out story, and more importantly ESPN’s Chris Broussard’s reaction to it. The Christian Post just can’t let themselves write an article about non-heterosexual anything without finding some way to sneak in an anti-LGBTQ message at the end. Wag of the finger CP, wag of the finger. With that out of the way, it’s time for a tasty piece of Bible meat.

 

And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.

Daniel 10:15

Well, if you’re gonna keep diving face first into the ground, then you’re probably going to end up with some concussions there Danny. No wonder your thinker isn’t doing as good as it used to.

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 48: Matthew 24:1

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title ImageHello everyone and welcome once again to the Bible’s Greatest Hits. I hope you’re all doing well on this fine Wednesday afternoon. If not, I’ve got a verse waiting for you at the end of this post that’s sure to turn your week around for the better. But first, let’s talk about “faith healers”. I’ve got a half dozen articles in my inbox about a child rapist in Kashmir who disguised himself as a faith healer in order to run a brothel disguised as a seminary. Many of the articles refer to him as a “fake” faith healer, which leaves me wondering what a real faith healer is. Moving on, the sexual assault trial of a faith healer who has already been convicted of sexual assault is being delayed in Quebec. I’ll leave you to read the details at your leisure. I bring all this up not to ruin your otherwise fine day, but just to reiterate that faith healers are at best misguided, at worst malicious predators who prey on people at their most vulnerable. Go to a doctor instead. With that out of the way, it’s time for some Bible!

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

Matthew 24:1

Oh really, there’s a temple there?! I had no idea because I was too busy leaving the temple. That’s for pointing that out, guys.

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 47: Ecclesiastes 7:28

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title ImageHello friends and welcome to the Bible’s Greatest Hits. I hope you’ve all got your hearts prepared for learning and inspiration from the Good Book because I’m about to share an incredibly meaningful and powerful verse from Jesus’ bestselling autobiography. But first, let’s talk about comets and the global flood. I happened upon this Examiner.com article by one Terry Hurlbut about calculating the date of the global flood based on the movement of the comets that jettisoned from the Earth “when a subcrustal ocean, once ten miles deep underground, broke confinement and rushed out of the bowels of the earth, at hypersonic speed”. According to the article, this is how comets came to be. Seriously. Anyway, according to Hurlbut and Dr. Walt Brown (Phd in mechanical engineering, i.e. comets?) the Flood happened in the year 3344.5 BC. I’m sure that half year is really important. Ken Ham and Co., however, have the date as 2348 BC, no .5 here.  Why am I sharing this? In part because the ocean comets thing is hilarious, but also because I love it when people argue over the details of something completely made up. It’s so entertaining. Now, how about that verse I promised?

Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
    while I was still searching
    but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
    but not one upright woman among them all.

Ecclesiastes 7:28

Yeah man. Chicks, what’s with them? Let’s go buy some Affliction t-shirts and workout, aight bro?

Stop causing adultery, y’all.

Seriously, just look at yourself.

Rejoice!  Ol’ Squinky is at it again.  Some of you may recall televangelist Pat Robertson’s remarks a few months ago about “awful-looking” women driving their husbands to infidelity.  It seems any time a woman asks his advice about a cheating husband, the best advice he can offer is, “Stop being a hideous beast. Be attractive, and he’ll stop cheating on you.”

His winning streak continues with this week’s dose of folksy piety and victim-blaming. Ladies, take note – apparently, if your spouse is gainfully employed, and has any redeeming qualities at all, you are in no position to bitch.  No, it wouldn’t work that way if the cheater were female, so don’t even ask.

Thank goodness for godly men like Pat Robertson, willing to stand up time and again for traditional family values like adultery and wife-beating.  Just remember, it’s the gays undermining the sanctity of marriage.

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 46: Romans 3:15

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title Image

Hello everyone and welcome to another life changing edition of The Bible’s Greatest Hits. I hope you’re all having a wonderful week, but if not I’ve got a piece of Biblical wisdom in store for you that will surely turn your fortunes around. Here in Minnesota we’re celebrating a legal victory over bigotry and religiosity in the form of legalizing same sex marriages. One giant step closer to destroying traditional marriage and ushering in the reign of Satan. All that’s left now is building the concentration camps for believers and turning all the children gay. In the meantime, enjoy this verse!

Their feet are swift to shed blood:

Romans 3:15

 

They might want to get that checked out. I bet their sock budget is massive.

Slavery is bad, m’kay?

I can’t believe I even need to say that.  But there it is.  A Christian acquaintance recently objected to my criticisms of the Bible.  (For context, I posted this image.)

A few days later, hallelujah!  A rebuttal was posted, explaining that slavery in Biblical times was more “indentured servitude” than slavery, and that slavery in the Bible wasn’t such a bad thing, really.  Biblical slavery was like being part of the family!  (No, seriously, there are actually people who say this.)

Now, to be fair, in the Old Testament, there were two types of slaves – Hebrew slaves, and slaves taken from other nations.  The laws governing the ownership of Hebrew slaves were significantly more humane than those governing Gentiles owned by the children of Israel.  For instance, in Leviticus 25, there is a clear contrast between the two classes of slaves:

Hebrew slaves:

39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

Gentile slaves:

44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

See how that works?  You must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly, and you can only keep them for six years.  Anyone else?  Whatever.  Yours forever.  Pass them down to your kids as an inheritance.  SWEET.

But, but… it was like being part of the family, right?  It wasn’t a bad life for those slaves, right?  Silly atheist, you’re confusing slavery in America with Biblical slavery – two totally different things!

Ahem.

20 “And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.(Exodus 21:20-21)

Huh.  I don’t know about you, but being beaten with a rod isn’t acceptable treatment in my family, regardless of whether my “smiting” puts me in a morgue.  Should I die immediately or a couple of days after the beating, I have a feeling our judicial system would view it as something slightly more problematic than a property loss for my assailant.  And — I’m gonna go out on a limb here — even if I fully recovered from this figurative beating, it would still be legally actionable.  Because, you know, BEATING SOMEONE WITH A ROD.

Historically speaking, slavery was never a super awesome situation (for the slave, anyway).  Theologian William Barclay, in his study of the letter to the Ephesians, examined the historical context in which Paul’s epistles were written:

…basically the life of the slave was grim and terrible. In law he was not a person but a thing. Aristotle lays it down that there can never be friendship between master and slave, for they have nothing in common; ‘for a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.’ Varro, writing on agriculture, divides agricultural instruments into three classes—the articulate, the inarticulate, and the mute. The articulate comprises the slaves; the inarticulate the cattle; and the mute the vehicles. The slave is no better than a beast who happens to be able to talk. Cato gives advice to a man taking over a farm. He must go over it and throw out everything that is past its work; and old slaves too must be thrown out on the scrap heap to starve. When a slave is ill it is sheer extravagance to issue him with normal rations.

There’s a lot more where that came from, but you get the idea.  If not, allow me to sum up: SLAVERY BAD.

Assertions that attempt to minimize the injustice and outrage of slavery in Biblical times are not just silly – they’re dishonest.  They require a blatant disregard of clear Biblical texts and historical evidence.  You can’t truthfully dodge the issue of the Bible’s failure to condemn owning human beings as slaves.  And if the only way you can defend the Bible’s track record on slavery is to lie, you’re hardly in a position to rhetorically stick it to militant lady-atheists like me.

Failure to communicate.

In recent weeks, as the situation in North Korea has heated up, there has been a disappointingly predictable response from certain quarters in the Christian media.  To sum up: with so much gay-friendly news coverage lately, all the crazytown talk coming from North Korea is most likely just the warmup to God’s retribution for the gay-loving sinners of America.  Of course.  The only possible explanation.

Seriously, check this out.

“I would not be surprised that at the time when we are debating same-sex marriage, at a time when we are debating whether or not we should have gays leading the Boy Scout movement, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that we have a mad man in Asia who is saying some of the things that he’s saying,” Luter said.

It’s not just that loony Luter and his chum, either.  The Family Research Council weighed in last week with a fascinating prayer request:

President Obama, Secretary of Defense Hagel and the politically swayed Joint Chiefs who helped repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, desperately need our prayers for wisdom. U.S. and S.K. defense officials are “highly confident” that a North Korea launch of a medium-range missile is imminent, is “very high” (see Very High, Pulse Bomb, Just Bluster?).

  • God, please intervene! Our brazen sins make us vulnerable despite our nation’s great military power. Our leaders’ perspectives are clouded, only you can navigate our nation though these deep waters. May we rush to repent and obey your word! Watch over our friends. Be our Fortress and direct our civilian and military leaders (Dt 28: all; Josh 7:1-24; 22:20; 1 Chr 12:32-33; Pr 31:4-5; Is 1:16-20; 3:8-9; 56:10; Jer 16:19-21; 1 Jn 3:16).  *see note below–JM

See what they did there?  Their prayer for our government and military is cleverly (I use the term loosely) presented in relation to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – as if it were somehow relevant to the current escalation in international issues.  Yet again, these chuckleheads are setting up The Gays (and their allies) as scapegoats for any harm that may befall our country.

I can’t help but be fascinated that, apparently, an “all-powerful” being hasn’t yet figured out how to communicate directly with anyone (other than Pat Robertson and his ilk, that is).  Every time there’s a breakdown in diplomatic talks, or a terrorist attack somewhere in the world, or a natural disaster, or school shooting, some idiot has to claim “God” is trying to send us a message.  Has this guy never heard of having an open conversation with people?  If he wants us to get a message, why not just come out and say so?  This business of using earthquakes and insecure weirdos (either foreign or domestic) to carry vague-but-violent “messages” to us?  Weaksauce, big guy.  Pick up a damn phone, eh?

Given the number of entirely obvious, wholly rational explanations for all of these occurrences, it is beyond ludicrous to assign any higher meaning to any of them.  So, North Korea’s leader is acting belligerent toward the United States.  Again.  Does it really need to be because God wants to use him to chasten us for our terrible “sin” of tolerance?  Really?  A mentally ill person shoots up an elementary school.  Is the first, most rational explanation divine retribution?  Is an earthquake or hurricane truly a divine temper tantrum?  Or can we, as adults, allow the science to speak for itself, and skip the assignation of blame and meaning?

But then, I suppose I already know the answers to those questions.

*You owe it to yourself to read the scripture citations provided above, with that prayer request.  I got a big kick out of reading Deuteronomy 28, especially verses 15 and following, relating to the curses for disobedience.  We’re talking rape and cannibalism, y’all.  So, we have that to look forward to, if these guys are right.  Edifying!  Oh, how I love the Good Book!

The Bible’s Greatest Hits – Week 45: Leviticus 21:16-23

The Bible's Greatest Hits - Title ImageHello folks and welcome. It’s that time of the week where I bless you and your remaining work days with an espresso shot of Jesus love in the form of hand picked verses from his best-selling book. I’ve got some good news for you all, remember that couple who was in the news recently because they killed another one of their sick children by praying for them instead of actually doing something helpful like seeking medical care? Well, they’ve agreed to let the city of Philadelphia administer care to seven remaining children that they haven’t yet killed through the negligence promoted by their church. And by “agreed to let” I mean that courts ruled that the city would do this regardless of their murderous parents’ wishes, as the seven children are in foster care currently, and the couple is alright with that. I’m so glad we checked with them about that. I’m sure we can all rest better knowing that these two repeat child murders don’t object to the court’s ruling. But enough ranting, here’s today’s (uncommonly lengthy) verse!

The Lord said to Moses,“Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’”

Leviticus 21:16-23

I can’t tell if this is the requirements for being a priest or an Abercrombie employee. God must really like chiseled male abs.