Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can I get a Witness?

I came home from the mechanic shop today to see my friendly neighborhood Jehovah's Witensses walking down my front steps. I thought to myself, Fun times - I have some time to burn. I gave them a warm greeting and let them do their terribly abrupt schpiel. No introductory paragraph. I'm going to tell my fellow english teachers at school on Monday.

Their pamphlet was titled 'Why people do bad things'. I was very polite as George summarized it and John stood by in the dugout. Blah blah, good people doing bad things, blah blah, in the bible it says, blah blah divine inspired word of god. I stopped him and started on my 'I can't base my morals off of a book that is divinely written by the highest power in the universe who has bipolar disorder' rant. I don't think he quite got around to completing a semi-informative response before I went to my 'Science can explain so many things in our world whereas religion only becomes more detrimental to humans' rant. Then he was about to say that science can't explain everything, but I beat him to the punch! I know it can't but that is one thing that is great about the sciences - they carry out experiments that can lead to falsifications. Religion cannot and will never be able to.

Then he tried to talk about design and complexity. 'Do you mean specified complexity?' Yes. 'Cause I've read stuff by William Dembski and Stephen Meyer and it's pretty much a bunch of cool sounding techincal terms thrown around in different order but never really saying anything different from what has already been discounted.'

All in all, I did most of the talking and they did more of the listening. John barely even said ten words. George tried to get cozy with me by saying he loved math because of some genius math teacher he had in high school who needed to imbibe so that he could stop his mind from working non-stop. I am still not sure why he brought that up. Anyway, it was a fun conversation and I got his email. He said he would be back to give me some 'really interesting info' on origins of life. Oh goodie! Hopefully it's something that I haven't heard before!

The Stoning of Soraya M

I just finished watching this movie and I can honestly say that I have never felt more angry at the end of a motion picture. I know that all religions are man-made myths, and I also know how un-evolved the followers of Islam are, but when you see with your own eyes the vile, pure evil that the default religion of the middle eastern region creates, it makes you angry. It made me cry. The director of this movie laid instance upon instance of symbolism in this film. When you see the crowd that forms around Soraya's residence when the "verdict" of guilty comes down from the "town's authority", any non-muslim can understand the picture being painted - how religions spreads like a virus.

There was only one moment that evoked a laugh from me. The high counsel is the first person to cast a stone. He completely whiffs on his three throws before passing his obligation off to the deceitful husband of Soraya. The symbolism was not lost on me. The institution of religion, no matter how long its tendrils have been in place, has no ultimate power over humanity.

Despite all of the monstrosities, there is a tiny bright light shining through. In the process of creating the idea that Soraya is guilty of adultery, the town authority figures blackmail an innocent man, Hesham, into being the final witness needed to bring a verdict of death by stoning. When Hesham is presented with the stones, he lets them fall from his hands. Even after being inundated by and told that religion is exempt from criticism, we find that humanity will prevail in the end.

This is my message world - keep moving forward, out of the grips of ancient superstitions, together against the evils perpetuated by the institution called religion.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tyler, my nephew

One of my sisters has triplets - Vinny, Tyler, Teigan. They will be 2 years old on October 1st. Tyler has caught the short end of the stick when it comes to his health. He struggled the most at birth, has auditory implants, and has strabismus (lazy eye). He recently had surgery for this and it went well. However, in the recovery stage, a physician's assistant at the hospital failed to catheterize his antibiotics correctly - three times. Needless to say this caused Tyler some inconvenience and led to a rather scary situation with an eye infection. He is still in the hopsital recovering. The reason I bring this up is because my mother has consistently asked me to "pray for the poor little guy." I don't know if anyone can relate with a situation like this, but I cannot tell her "No, that won't help him." She has asked me if I believe prayer works and I flat out said no. I have not actually told her I am an atheist. I cannot tell her that it is the probabilistic genetic makeup, mixed with environmental factors that are responsible for his health problems. This speaks to the main reason I believe people, including my mother, believe in a prayer-answering god. They don't have to think about whether or not rational explanations feel "cold and empty". They have a false oasis that welcomes them whenever they "need it". But my questions to her and others are how do you know it worked?, and what about all the other prayers you made? Were they answered? Make no mistake, my mother is brilliant. She absolutely does not fall into the deluded, fundamentalist category. Her belief in a personal-intervening god is the only irrational idea she harbors. At some point in time, I need to have a long conversation with her about her beliefs. At least one, as anyone who comes upon this blog will know.