Throwback Thursday: Michael W. Smith – Picture Perfect

Michael W. Smith’s 1992 album Change Your World was the first CD my family owned. My sister and I had gone to a fundamentalist baptist school that held candy sale fundraiser every year. Depending on how much candy you sold there were different prizes you could choose from and one year we got enough to get the brand-new CD boombox. Since my family were rebellious, my parents got us the newest Michael W. Smith album; something our fellow fundies would have surely condemned us for. Rock music is evil, even (or especially) if it pretends to be Christian, or so it went. Here’s the opening track from the album “Picture Perfect”, in which Smith attempts a feminist anthem for the early 90s CCM crowd. Also, it was so totally my jam as a 9 year-old, for some reason. I suspect it was the synths.

 

I can’t fault the guy for trying, and this is fairly progressive compared to what other Christian singers were doing at the time, but the whole premise of female validation via male approval still misses the point. “Don’t worry ‘baby’, I’ll still give you the male attention you (obviously) need to have purpose in your life (because you’re a woman and that’s what women need), even if you aren’t perfect”. Also, if keeping up with the Joneses means wearing a red leather vest with the whatever-the-fuck web of arm straps that his backup dancers are wearing, count me out. I love the editing of this video, “Quick, he’s trying to dance, go to a wide shot before people realize how white he is” and the classic “cut to the drummer  because Michael’s lips aren’t in sync with the tape”. If you pay attention at 2:37, there’s a vocal on the tape that I’m pretty sure is black woman, but they just edited it to a shot of white dude backup singer and then the second half of the same vocal is a different white guy. Brilliant.

 

Creationist “Audits” Chicago’s Field Museum. Stupidity Ensues.

Megan Fox Creationist

I always feel a little guilty for posting stuff like this, mostly because it feels like I’m shooting fish in a barrel. But if people are going to keep uploading their stupidity to YouTube, I’m going to keep writing about it.

Last week, creationist Megan Fox posted a video of her visit to Chicago’s Field Museum. Obviously, this isn’t the same Megan Fox that some of us have had naughty dreams about. This one is kookier.

The video documents Fox’s tour of an exhibit called “Evolving Earth,” where she is supposedly scrutinizing the museum’s inconsistencies. Here’s how she describes it on YouTube:

In November 2014, Megan Fox toured the Field Museum’s “Evolving Earth” exhibit to audit it for bias. She found many examples of inconsistencies and the Field Museum’s insistence that people support opinion as fact without proof. The Field Museum pushes certain theories as if they are absolute proven law when that is not how the scientific method works. She found enough bias to show that the people who put this exhibit together at the Field Museum pushed an agenda with quasi-religious overtones: the cult of “science” where the “scientists” are more like high priests pushing a religion instead of using the correct scientific method. Aside from having time machines, there is no way these people can be this certain about things they speculate happened millions of years ago before recorded history.

Here’s the video, if you can stomach it. I managed to choke down about 5 minute’s worth, but my stomach started making a funny noise, so I shut it off.

The Ear of the Wise – Introduction / Mr. Fischer’s Founding Fables: Part I

Hi, my name is Ben and I’m an addict.

Don’t worry, I won’t be twelve-stepping all over your good time with any jackbooted “Higher Power” mumbo jumbo, but I do have a legitimate problem. Apparently I’m addicted to being really pissed off, and recently I’ve become particularly fond of catalyzing my anger with a specific strain of psychoactive stimulus. My mood-annihilating weapon of choice isn’t a drug, but, according to the tales spun by its insidiously unscrupulous peddlers, it makes heroin’s promise of euphoria sound like a mall kiosk chair massage.

That’s right. I’m hooked on the Word of God.

Okay, so that’s not entirely accurate. My real obsession is Godcasts. That is, podcasts and radio shows of the fundamentalist/evangelical/creationist/all-of-the-above orientation. Seriously. I can’t get enough of ‘em, and I want others to join me in heaping ridicule onto the glistening brain turds that I come across while enjoying my favorite shows, but the people closest to me can only take so much, and no culturally significant cocktail party conversation has ever started with, “You won’t believe what Eric Hovind said the other day.”

That’s what brings me to Crocoduck. I need an outlet for my anger and vexation, and you, the reader, want to revel in the societal nightmares being propagated by rabid theists taking themselves way too seriously in front of microphones. Right? Okay, good. Here we go. [Read more…]

So Stupid It Hertz

Here, have some nonsense.

Someone posted a link to this article in a Facebook group I’m in and it is such a wonderful mixture of fundamentalism, pseudoscience, numerology, random capslock, and stupidity that I just had to share it with you all. It’s absolutely full of amazing bullshit, but the author does us the favor of summarizing with a hand top ten list (#6 is my favorite):

TOP REASONS FOR CHRISTIANS TO RE-EMBRACE 432 HZ INSTEAD OF THE HARMFUL 440 HZ.

1.  432 hz. is the governing frequency of the created universe as measured by planetary alignments and orbital movements.

2.  The Ancient COVENANT HEBREWS used 432 hz. tuning on their instruments, and it became the basis of WORSHIP and OBLATIONS in the Hebrew Temple and Tabernacle, and later, the standard keynote pitch of Christian music worldwide.

3.  Despite over 40,000 petitions from musicians to have international  concert pitch remain unaltered at A=432Hz, concert pitch was changed to A=440Hz in October of 1953 by the International Standards Organization (ISO).  If something’s clearly not broken,  and people are happy with it, why try to change it?

4.  Maria Renold’s book “Intervals Scales Tones and the Concert Pitch C=128hz” shows rather conclusive evidence that 440Hz and raising concert pitch above scientific “C” Prime=128hz (Concert A=432hz) “disassociates the connection of consciousness to the body and creates anti-social conditions in humanity”.

5.  Many professional musicians have declared that A=432hz music seems to them to be non localized in nature, and can appear to fill a room, whereas A=440hz can perceived as directional or linear in sound propagation.

6.  If Hitler,  Goebbles, Rockefeller and Rothschild were proponents of 440 hz., is it really peaceful and beneficial to human beings?

7.  The original Stradivarius violins were designed to be tuned to A432 ONLY.  Many professional musicians have complained that the raising of concert pitch to 440 hz. or higher caused undue stress or warping of their expensive acoustic instruments such as their Stradivarius violins, and that 440 hz damages a singers vocal chords especially those of professional opera singers.

8.  Dr. John Coleman in his seminal book “The Committee of 300″ documented the “elitists” desire to control the collective consciousness of humanity.  Their use of A=440Hz as “pitch control in mass media” pushed hourly and daily through radio & television as the “British Invasion” of Rock & Roll was, according to Dr. Coleman, intentionally designed to create anti-social behaviors and to increase chronic disease states in the general public.

9.  The inventor of the Cymascope, John Stuart Reid declared on his Facebook page: ““432Hertz is a harmonic of light frequency – it ‘speaks’ or ‘resonates’ directly with our cells. All cells communicate with each other via infrared light so I imagine that when they receive music in 432 Hertz they are in joy. The conscious ‘you’ may not be aware of this, but most of what goes on in our bodies is sub conscious, thankfully! You can read more about how all sounds create infra red light in the physics section of our web site CymaScope™ ”

10.  432 is THE ONLY resonant frequency that is capable of naturally reproducing what is called the “Pythagorean Musical Spiral” in the water of the human cell. Its the same sequence of growth that all life follows. It utilizes the formula of “Phi” also know as the “Golden Mean” and is also found in the “Fibonacci sequence” throughout all of nature.

11,  The notes that come out in the A = 432 scale end up as mostly, whole numbers, and are divisible by 3. John Stuart Reid quotes, using the Cymascope/cymatics technology: “432 Hertz pops out as a triangle, every time we image it. We thought there was something wrong with the Cymascope, but after trying for more than an hour we concluded that the number 3 was somehow universally connected to 432 Hertz.”

12.  According to the harmonic principle by which any produced sound automatically resonates all the other multiples of that frequency, when we play C at 256 Hz, (when A is tuned to 432 hz) the C of all other octaves also begins to vibrate in “sympathy” and so, naturally, the frequency of 8Hz is also sounded. This is why (together with many other mathematical reasons) the musical pitch tuned to 432 oscillations per second is known as the “scientific tuning.”  This “scientific” tuning was unanimously approved at the Congress of Italian musicians in 1881 and recommended by the physicists Joseph Sauveur and Felix Savart as well as by the Italian scientist Bartolomeo Grassi Landi.  In contrast, the frequency chosen in London in 1953 as the worldwide reference frequency and which all music today has been tuned to, has come to be defined as ‘disharmonic’ because it has no scientific relationship to the physical laws that govern our universe, and exhibits no “Harmonic Principle” of the sacred number 8.

Call me convinced!

The Nonexistence of Religious Morality

In a recent essay for a religion survey course I wrote that “If there are good teachings or moral ideas in the Bible or in the words of Jesus, they are good independent of their source and to rely on someone else’s teaching for your own morality is to be amoral.” My professor wrote a comment on my essay asking: “…what about when people motivated by religious ethics do really good things like the Civil Rights Movement? …are they amoral even if their cause is good?” By way of responding, I’d like to consider the classic “trolley problem” of ethics. Here’s the Wikipedia summary of this thought experiment:

There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

Like many thought experiments in ethics, there is no “right” answer; both are pretty terrible options. The important part of the trolley problem is that the subject is forced to make a moral decision and is subsequently forced to examine the moral reasoning process that led them to that decision. For example, many would say that saving as many lives as possible is the most moral decision, others might say that the active participation in the death of the individual by pulling the lever implicates them in a murder. Both are valid concerns given the situation. [Read more…]

The Bizarre Case of Bethany Paquette and Amaruk Wilderness Corp.

Originally I wanted to post about this solely for the sake of one great quote in the first article I read about it:

Amundsen then used an expletive to state that if he met God, he would have sex with him.

I went in search of more information about the story and it’s one of those things where the more I learned the less I knew. For starters, Bethany Paquette, a graduate of anti-gay Trinity Western University in British Columbia applied for a job at Amaruk Wilderness Corp. that she was admittedly not qualified for. She was rejected on this basis but the rejection email from Olaf Amundsen of the company added that the company was opposed to the anti-gay stances of Trinity and wouldn’t consider hiring students from the school anyway. It’s an unprofessional, dickish move that wasn’t necessary and that Paquette rightly objected to. An email exchange followed,and Paquette filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. She’s claiming that she was discriminated against on religious grounds and the company is arguing that she was rejected because of her lack of credentials. [Read more…]

Christian Critics Struggle to Love Left Behind

Left Behind is currently rocking a 12 percent on MetaCritic, which makes it one of the most unlovable movies of the year. The Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune, and New York Daily News all gave it a big fat zero, but a handful of religious critics worked hard to find some positivity. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

Bob Hoose from pluggedin.com managed to give it four out of five plugs:

Left Behind doesn’t leave us with an altar call. Nor does it leave your knuckles white after you watch the disaster unfold. But you can’t watch it without wondering what’s up with your own spiritual condition.

“The content is not objectionable” isn’t exactly a rave review, but Left Behind picked up three out of four stars from Movieguide.org.

Not all Christians expect the pre-tribulation Rapture presented in the movie, but most do expect the Second Coming of Jesus. To its credit the movie profoundly presents the question “are you ready?” The script and execution could have been better, but the content is not objectionable, and the message profound.

Raphael Vera’s review on christiananswers.net is nearly 1600 words long and is punctuated with 3.5/5 stars. But how many of those stars were “for effort”?

“Left Behind” is a decently made, taut and suspenseful drama with enough humor to keep it interesting, but the small budget, by Hollywood measures, gives it a small screen (TV) quality that is occasionally hard to ignore. Messaging, however, is excellent (as far as it goes), and it made me wish this had instead been produced as a year-long TV series, as I do believe it deserves high marks for effort, though slightly lower for execution.

Christian Hamaker from crosswalk.com was brutally honest:

While those constraints keep the new Left Behind from ever rising above mediocrity, the film is, for a while, tolerable. Then comes a horrendous final 30 minutes, which play like a bad TV show. Theological quandaries, never given detailed exploration amid the confusion experienced by the passengers on Ray’s plane, yield to stock disaster-movie tropes and an absurd finale. Although the filmmakers seem to think they’ve delivered a genuinely terrifying conclusion, the only frightening moment is an utterance from one surviving character: “I’m afraid this is just the beginning.”

Here’s an actual quote from dove.org’s review:

“Left Behind” (2014) has earned five Doves from The Dove Foundation, our best rating. It is entertaining, suspenseful, and will motivate viewers to examine their own lives.

Jackson Cuidon from christianitytoday.com “tried to give the film zero stars, but our tech system won’t allow it.” So, the movie ended with one star (out of four). Though, the user reviews place the film’s score at three out of four stars.

But my favorite review came from a MetaCritic user who successfully employed the phrase “down on Christianity.”

The movie was obviously not on a big budget and had some of the cliche “action movie” stunts in it, but overall the movie was very good. If you are down on Christianity, you will most likely rate this movie low. If you love Jesus, you will most likely like it.

Reza Aslan Doesn’t Understand Atheists

 

I wouldn’t mind this week’s rant wars about “is Islam a bad idea?” if there was an actual discussion taking place. But it doesn’t seem to me like Reza Aslan and Ben Affleck have actually been listening to what Maher and Harris are arguing; they certainly haven’t addressed the Pew polling that Maher tried to bring up in the clip below. Recently Aslan wrote an opinion column for the New York Times in which he makes clear how little he understands the atheistic arguments against both religion in general and Islam in particular. He does this by neatly articulating many of the reasons why I hate religion while attempting to defend it. [Read more…]

Ben Affleck VS. Sam Harris and Bill Maher

Ben Affleck is enjoying some social media flattery after butting heads with Sam Harris and Bill Maher last week.

This is the kind of conversation that I actually have a difficult time taking sides on. I definitely don’t have the stomach to support Affleck’s wide-eyed version of reality, where mainstream Islam preaches gender equality and tolerance. That’s just not the case.

But I also have a hard time with westerners foisting their value system on other countries. So, it bothers me when people like Harris and Maher argue that we need to promote change within another country’s society.

That being said, I would probably end up sitting on the Maher/Harris side of the table.

At the end of the day, Maher and Harris are arguing for human rights and Affleck is simply calling everyone racist, which doesn’t really address the issue.

If you think I’m an idiot, let me know in the comments. Seriously. I’ll happily change my stance if the argument is solid.

Kent Hovind is Back In Court

Hovind

I’m usually not the sympathetic type when it comes to religious shysters ending up behind bars, but I’m starting to feel bad for Kent Hovind. Back in August, Hovind was relocated to a Santa Rosa County Jail so the state of Florida could run him through the legal system yet again.

Hovind’s latest judicial bugaboo revolves around his inability to pay off his governmental debt while incarcerated. I’m not a lawyer, but it sounds like the state of Florida registered an injunction against Creation Science Evangelism, Hovind’s former ministry, which prohibited the company from filing liens agains some Hovind-owned real estate. But that didn’t stop them from filing a lis pendens lien.

“Lis pendens” is a bit of legalese that only effects real estate. From what I can tell, it means that whoever purchases the property from the government would be responsible for any outstanding lawsuits, severely reducing the value of the real estate. Here’s a snippet from wikipedia:

Recording a lis pendens against a piece of property alerts a potential purchaser or lender that the property’s title is in question, which makes the property less attractive to a buyer or lender. After the notice is filed, anyone who nevertheless purchases the land or property described in the notice takes subject to the ultimate decision of the lawsuit.

Since the state of Florida already had an injunction against Creation Science Evangelism’s lien-filing ability, Hovind is, apparently, in contempt.

Hovind’s son, Eric, posted an update on his dad’s blog back in August, but his description of the problem doesn’t exactly match the court’s filings. Here’s what Eric said:

The prosecution obtained approval from Judge Rodgers to press more criminal charges. These allegations purport that the appeals, motions, and lawsuits filed by Kent Hovind are “frivolous” and that they have “encumbered” the government.

Obviously, I have no idea how it all went down, but if Hovind intentionally filed this lien, he’s got super huge balls. He had to know about the injunction, which means that he’s either purposefully trolling the government or he’s ignorant about how the legal system works. Either way, he’ll be back in court next month.

Right now, he’s scheduled to be released on August 10, 2015, but it might be a while before we see him in the wild.

Source: Forbes, Kent Hovind’s Blog