Kevin Andrews suddenly learns that everyone else knows Catch The Fire are batshit #auspol

Minister for Putting Single Mums in Their Bloody Place Kevin Andrews, among other Team Australians, has recently learned that the people of Australia don’t particularly like that the “World Congress of Families” is run by well-known slavering extremist anti-choice homophobic bigots Catch The Fire Ministries and has decided not to open their adorable little Hatesturbate For Jesus for them after all.

Catch The Fire Ministries, whose head douche Danny Nalliah infamously linked Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires to that state’s abortion laws (and will now have to find other high-profile fundamentalist scenery-chewers to mix the green cordial [red is SINFUL!] and run the games of “pin Satan’s pitchfork on the eternally burning lesbortionist,”) have since thrown K-Drews under the bus for being a sad wuss. Because how dare any public official in a secular democracy respond to public outcry over lending explicit government support to a pack of fringe-dwelling cultists whose lunacy is only exceeded by their self-importance.

I suspect that, much like a pair of cling-wrap Y-fronts, this is a transparent arse-covering on the part of Kev and his fellow Tory wingnuts, Eric “I Am The Politican Every Sketch Show Bases Their Politicians On” Abetz and Cory “Looky, I Wrote A Book Just Like God Did” Bernardi, who would surely have gone along had the public not had something of a issue with members of our government explicitly validating the dark-ages lunacy of extremist evangelist hooligans.

Not Catch The Fire but close efuckingnough, amirite?

School Chaplains: why can’t you lot just stick to the pulpit #auspol

It appears the Abbott government still wants to exclude secular workers from the School Chaplaincy program, despite widespread opposition and two High Court challenges.

Religious people have numerous avenues available if they wish to seek spiritual guidance for themselves or their children; this constant push by some of them to have exclusive access to other peoples’ children while in school is distasteful and extremely presumptuous (and possibly even un-Constitutional – while¬†Section 116 has historically not been applied to state funding of religious schools, implementing exclusively religious programs such as this in state schools might be a different basket of loaves and fishes. While the Abbott regime might be able to use the general term “religious” to escape being accused of favouring of one faith over another, the very term “chaplain” has an exclusively Christian origin and I doubt very strongly that we’ll see a great many imams, rabbis or whatever those used-god salesmen-for-Xenu call themselves counselling state school students). ¬†

Apart from the blatant discrimination involved in barring secular counselors from consideration, kids with serious problems (or even mild ones) don’t need Divinity lessons, they need trained professionals. Religious exceptionalism of this sort is highly likely to expose vulnerable children to inappropriate proselytising and unhelpful advice – when compared to the likelihood of a properly trained secular counselor attempting to proselytise their philosophy, it’s practically a stone-carved certainty.

If a counselor is appropriately qualified and experienced they should be hired; their religious status, just like their age, marital status and orientation, should be irrelevant to their practice. It’s not legal for the Commonwealth to refuse employment in any other area of operation on religious grounds; how such a proscription wouldn’t apply to state school counselors escapes me. This appears to be yet another example of a government operating by ideology and working off a checklist, with pragmatism, fairness and perhaps even legality being secondary concerns.

Evangelising students in school is not only preying on an audience that’s legally compelled to be there, it’s also based on the offensive and arrogant presumption that the evangelists have the right (God-given, of course) to undermine whatever religious traditions those kids’ families may already observe in their own homes or places of worship or whatever non-religious philosophies they may subscribe to.

Not only that, but those churches that evangelise more often than not subscribe to fringe conservative and flat-out fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture which have absolutely no place in our public schools, where there frequently is a plurality of ethnicity and culture.

I’m sure we can all imagine the outcry from decent Christian folk if Islamists or JW’s or Mormons were given privileged access to state school students (even if ostensibly to use their powers for good and explicitly not for the purposes of conversion attempts); it’s much better for all concerned (chiefly the kids who’ll need professional advice and support) if preachers (or preachers-by-other-names) stay in the pulpit.

A cdesign proponentsist in Randi’s Court

At a recent thread at James Randi’s JREF website, a commenter named wdunlap began positing the necessary existence of an intelligent designer and seemed to have some difficulty grasping the answers being put to him by the local Randiites. Being blessed with nothing better to do, I weighed in. I recommend you read the post and the entire thread (as well as my bits :)); it’s interesting and entertaining and will provide context.

Sayeth wdunlap:

Coyne in his evolution book states that male testes were originaly developed withing the abdomen of a fish and later migrated outside in land males. How the heck did this come about? From what I can see, the testes need to be outside or the sperm would be damaged by too much heat. It is almost like someone intellectually decided this.

Speaking of fish, you should read “Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shubin. A great read on humanity’s fishy ancestry.

Now to answer your question with a question: have you ever touched a fish?

Fish don’t need external testicles because fish (a) live in a cold environment and (b) fish, being cold-blooded, don’t generate the same amount of internal heat as warm-blooded land animals do. The danger of fish sperm being damaged by heat simply isn’t there to the extent faced by land animals. Indeed, because of the low temperature of their environment, fish sperm need every little bit of the heat available in a fish’s body, hence the internal testicles. “Your Inner Fish” describes this and many other anatomical rearrangements.

I find it strange how you report first-hand observation of fish in your own home changing gender but you can’t imagine how external testicles could have developed about over several million years. I think it’s time you took some members’ suggestions on board and did some serious reading on evolution and not just wikipedia either: actual books by actual scientists involved in the fields they’re discussing. “Your Inner Fish” is a great one to start with. Or you could just visit talkorigins.org!

BTW, it mentions that an intelligent being wouldn’t do it this way because it cause potential for hernias. Still, this is taking for granted that a creator would simply know how to do this instead of not knowing and having to do trial and error.

Oh, come now. No God/intelligent creator/Great Galactic Squid worth his salt should have to use trial and error. If he/she/it can create an entire Universe out of “nothing” just because it wants to, re-jigging a pair of fish balls shouldn’t be worth more than an idle thought. Are we meant to believe that this intelligent pan-dimensional immortal being needs to tinker about like some garden-shed hack?

I think the fact that Coyne, a mere human, could think of a better way to re-design fish testicles than you’d have us believe your God did is evidence either to that God’s non-existence or his rank incompetence (google “recurrent layrngeal nerve” for another great example of crappy design). The fact that almost everything in biology appears to be a dodgy, incremental re-jig of a previous feature suggests neither design nor intelligence. Except, of course, if you approach the question already believing in one or both and are happy to perform mental gymnastics, goalpost-shifting, logical contortion and other athletic metaphors to justify your presupposition. If an intelligent designer really does exist, he’s clearly used that intelligence to go to great lengths to convince us that he doesn’t exist and has never, ever intervened either in life on this planet or space-time itself.

Really, I’ve read this entire thread over the past few days and I think you’ve gone as far as you can with “I don’t see how this could have happened” as your stock answer. It’s time to ask questions honestly without any preconceived ideas of what the answers should be according to what you believe (or what you’ve been taught to believe). There are innumerable resources to answer those questions equally honestly (in the case where an answer isn’t known, there are innumerable resources which will honestly say “we don’t know yet!”). Many have been suggested in this thread. Some you actually appear to have read parts of – and seemingly stopped when they made you uncomfortable. Whenever something you read starts making you uncomfortable it’s a good sign you should keep reading it!

I said

something about fish

I think it’s worth noting in this context the existence of aquatic mammals: whales, dolphins, orcas, manatees, dugongs etc. These all breathe air and are warm-blooded but all have internal testicles like fish. This is because their ancestors entered the water from the land and, over aeons, the testicles of these ancestors receded into the body to provide a proper mammalian environment for the sperm (and perhaps prevent them from being snagged on narwhals). This shows that evolution works in more than one direction, rather than being (as some caricatures suggest) A mystical one-way street to biological perfection. Whale evolution is actually one of the most fascinating stories in the history of mammals and there are abundant transitional forms, documenting the early days of semi-aquatic furry carnivorous quadrupeds up to the variations, big and small, that we’re familiar with.

that coming).

Ask yourself: would you design a monkey that moved, ate and reproduced entirely on land but had gills, which required it to go for a swim every half-hour so it didn’t die? If you wouldn’t, why would you accept the reverse from the alleged creator of the entire Universe? “Mysterious ways” perhaps? I think not. Non-mysterious non-existence or plain, simple non-competence.

[Quote by wdunlap]

I am not wishing that a creator is fact. I am just looking for answers.

Considering that people have spent days and thousands of words doing their best to provide you not only with answers but places to find more answers, forgive me if I have trouble accepting that statement at face value.

You might not be actively wishing for the existence of a creator, but you seem determined to ignore or deflect anything which doesn’t point in that direction.

I am suggesting that, if a god exists, it may not be all knowing, but may have had to do trial and error.

If any kind of god exists, it’s not only a rank failure at design but is for all practical purposes invisible (or very good at appearing so). If your designer/god does exist, it may as well not exist for all the input it appears to have had in the universe’s layout and function. If this god exists and has indeed been using “trial and error” on Earth for 4.5 billion years, I still call failure. You’d think that would be enough time to do a little better than a hernia-prone ape with back problems who’s basically a re-jigged fish, especially if this god exists – as many insist – outside of time.

The problem with saying “god did it” is twofold: first, there’s absolutely no evidence either of a supernatural plane of existence (let alone evidence of an entity existing in it) and second, there’s absolutely no explanatory power in the answer. “God did it” is just putting up a stop sign on the road of inquiry. You may as well say “I created the universe five minutes ago and you’re all dreaming!” (Some actually do say things like that; they’re called solipsists and they’re utterly pointless creatures). There is as much evidence for “you’re all dreaming” as there is for “god did it.” Exactly none.

Finally:

I WISH you would stop referring to my conclusions as wishful. I’m merely expressing that certain situations appear to lack a natural explaination.

You’re right, of course; many situations do currently lack explanations. All the more reason to keep looking for them. Noone wins by inventing a scenario which superficially answers a question but which really closes the question off from further inquiry!

I repeat: “god did it” is not an answer; it’s an extra layer of mystery where none is required. If you say “god did it” the only logical response is more questions: what’s a “god”? Where did it come from? What’s it like? Why did it do this? Why did it do this in this way? Is it constrained by the laws of physics or did it invent them? Does it want anything? Is there more than one? Should we be afraid? Are any of the religions on Earth even close in their description of it? Why does it hide so well? Is it a ninja?

The lack of explanations for observed phenomena are the reason so many people do that little thing called science. Scientists do science to explain what is not yet explained; to fill gaps in our knowledge with more knowledge – not with whatever seems to make sense on the surface or makes people comfortable. I hope you understand this point; it underlies everything people have been saying to you.

A thought on the “supernatural”.

If we are to accept that a certain thing – such as a supernatural plane of existence – exists, we need to know its properties, attributes and perhaps location. Bascially we need to know how to know it when we see it. Thus far, noone has ever been able to agree on the properties and attributes (let alone location) of the supernatural. Noone has ever made any testable prediction of what we should see or experience should we ever encounter the supernatural. Indeed, because we humans are of the “natural” plane of existence, even if the supernatural did exist in whatever form, it’s by definition impossible that we’d be able to recognise it even if we interacted with it directly. If we could perceive the supernatural, it would by definition be natural, i.e. able to be perceived by us.

What I’m saying is that we wouldn’t know the supernatural if we saw it; but if we saw it, it wouldn’t be what we thought it was, because it wouldn’t be supernatural – because would could see it.

Further, any entity from the supernatural plane of existence would necessarily have to employ natural means to communicate with us or interact with our universe. In doing so it would be perceived as a natural entity; anything ‘supernatural’ that it did or said would be imperceptible to us (unless those actions had consequences here; the consequences would be perceived by us and not the supernatural activity itself). Even if the entity was successful in explaining the supernatural realm to us in terms we could understand or even allowed us a visit, paradoxically our ability to understand or perceive it would render it no longer supernatural. Unless, of course, we humans are able to experience the supernatural – but if we are, why even give it a separate term?

Disclaimer: I may be talking out of my fishy testicles, but I thought whatever that was^ needed to be said.

Stay tuned – it’s a good thread and probably won’t die any time soon.

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Hooray for Christian spam.

We get email!

I present, in all its ghastly-fonted (it was actually 12 point Comic Sans MS but Blogger doesn’t seem to have it available – lucky you), horribly-formatted, grammar-challenged, big red glory a Godspam that arrived in my work inbox today. Not my personal inbox, the enquiries inbox that I’m chained to this month (this particular Christian wasn’t all that discerning with their mailing list, were they?):

I’m very, very tempted to reply as a representative of my employer and say it was sent to nobody because we’re an avowedly secular, neutral, humanitarian organisation and as such have no goddam interest in sharing some random idiot’s religious chain-spam. Instead, I’ll go through it in detail because it’s a slow day.

> ALL HOURS IS YOURS BUT, GIVE 1: MINUTE FOR GOD.



> Read only if you have time for God.


> Let me tell you, make sure you read all the way to the bottom. I almost


> deleted this email but I was blessed when I got to the end


>


>


> God, when I received this e-mail, I thought…


>


> I don’t have time for this… And, this is really inappropriate during


> work.


>


>


> Then, I realized that this kind of thinking is… Exactly, what has caused


> lot of the problems in our world today.


>


> We try to keep God in church on Sunday morning…


>


> Maybe, Sunday night…


> And, the unlikely event of a midweek service.


> We do like to have Him around during sickness…


>


>


> And, of course, at funerals.


>


> However, we don’t have time, or room, for Him during work or play…


>


>


> Because.. That’s the part of our lives we think… We can, and should,


> handle on our own.


>


> May God forgive me for ever thinking…


> That… there is a time or place where..


>


> HE is not to be FIRST in my life.


>


>


>


> We should always have time to remember all HE has done for us.


>


>


>


> If, You aren’t ashamed to do this…


>


>


> Please follow the directions.


>


> Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my


> Father.”


>


> Not ashamed?


>


>


> Pass this on ONLY IF YOU MEAN IT!!


>


> Yes, I do Love God.


>


> HE is my source of existence and Savior.


>


>


> He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I will be nothing.


> But, with Christ, HE strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)


>


>


>


>


>


> This is the simplest test.


>


> If You Love God… And, are not ashamed of all the marvelous things HE has


> done for you…


>


> Send this to ten people and the person who sent it to you!


>


> Now do you have the time to pass it on?


>


> Make sure that you scroll through to the end.


>


> Easy vs. Hard


>


> Why is it so hard to tell the truth but Yet so easy to tell a lie?


>


> Why are we so sleepy in church but Right when the sermon is over we


> suddenly wake up?


>


> Why is it so easy to delete a Godly e-mail, but yet we forward all of the


> nasty ones?


>


> Of all the free gifts we may receive, Prayer is the very best one….


>


> There are no costs, but wonderful rewards… GOD BLESS!


>


> Notes: Isn’t it funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then


> wonder why the world’s going to hell.


>


> Isn’t it funny how someone can say “I believe in God” but still follow


> Satan (who, by the way, also “believes” in God).


>


> Isn’t it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they


> spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the


> Lord, people think twice about sharing?


>


> Isn’t it funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send


> it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe,


> or what they will think of you for sending it to them.


> Isn’t it funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of


> me than what God thinks of me.


>


> I pray, for everyone who sends this to their entire address book, they will


> be blessed by God in a way special for them.


> And send it back to the person who sent it, to let them know that indeed it


> was sent out to many more.

ALL HOURS IS YOURS BUT, GIVE 1: MINUTE FOR GOD.
Read only if you have time for God.

Not so much. But I have time to be a smartarse, so do proceed!

Let me tell you, make sure you read all the way to the bottom. I almost deleted this email but I was blessed when I got to the end

Did it feel all tingly when God blessed your bottom?

God, when I received this e-mail, I thought…I don’t have time for this… And, this is really inappropriate during work.

Well, yes. Yes it is. Gold star for you.

Then, I realized that this kind of thinking is… Exactly, what has caused lot of the problems in our world today.

OK … so NOT reading or forward spam during work is why the world is going to hell? I would’ve thought it had something to do with normal human propensity to act like fuckwits. Oh, and fucking awful syntax.

We try to keep God in church on Sunday morning…Maybe, Sunday night…

Well, I’m told that is when & where he belongs – certainly not in my sodding work email.

And, the unlikely event of a midweek service.

Very unlikely – even Christians like watching LOST.

We do like to have Him around during sickness…

If I’m sick and “Him” is the only person around, I’m going to ask for better insurance … or less morphine.

And, of course, at funerals.

If “He” was around during the sickness part, why is there a funeral happening? FAIL.

However, we don’t have time, or room, for Him during work or play…

Yes, because presumably God’s not a fucking Mars Bar.

Because.. That’s the part of our lives we think… We can, and should, handle on our own.

If you got up off your knees, unclasped your hands and then did something with them, you’d be surprised what you could handle.

May God forgive me for ever thinking… That… there is a time or place where..HE is not to be FIRST in my life.

My lady comes first. Every time. May I be forgiven if I ever forget THAT. Note: your priorities smell like arse.

We should always have time to remember all HE has done for us.

“Done TO us and constantly threatens to continue to do to us” would be more accurate – I’ve read your horrid little books, you know. Besides, for the all-powerful creator of the universe, dictating some confused, retarded books to some confused, retarded shepherds and perhaps popping once or twice doesn’t amount to much.

If, You aren’t ashamed to do this…
Please follow the directions.
Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.”
Not ashamed?

No. I pity the fool whose god commands him to be ashamed for not spamming his entire fucking address book with religious guilt-trips.

Pass this on ONLY IF YOU MEAN IT!!

CAPS LOCK – are you ready to unleash the MEANING?

Yes, I do Love God.

Good for you. I love Batman, but you don’t see me telling everyone in my address book in big fugly letters. They’d think I was a little unhinged. Or a dick.

HE is my source of existence and Savior.

As is Batman.

He keeps me functioning each and every day. Without Him, I will be nothing.

Not that squishy grey thing in your skull or that thumpy red thing in your chest – or those other squishy things? Nobody better make you question your faith, then – you might vanish in a puff of logic.

But, with Christ, HE strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

This is the simplest test.

Sounds like it’d be perfect for you. Proceed.

If You Love God… And, are not ashamed of all the marvelous things HE has done for you…

“After all I’ve done for you! I could be DEAD on a CROSS and you wouldn’t even shed a tear!” Again with the shame and guilt. You guys have a real boner for inflicting these things on yourselves other people don’t you?

Send this to ten people and the person who sent it to you!

I’m happy to return it to you but if I sent it ten other people, I would expect to receive ten kicks to each ball.

Now do you have the time to pass it on?

No. But as I said, plenty of time to be a smartarse.

Make sure that you scroll through to the end.

I quiver with anticip … pation.

Easy vs. Hard

Ooooh, I love multiple choice.

Why is it so hard to tell the truth but Yet so easy to tell a lie?

Is that rhetorical? Why is “Yet” capitalised? What is it with this dodgy Christian syntax?

Why are we so sleepy in church but Right when the sermon is over we suddenly wake up?

Because getting up on Sunday morning is … Jesus, do I have to explain this? And again with the random capitals!

hy is it so easy to delete a Godly e-mail, but yet we forward all of the nasty ones?

Is that rhetorical? What would you do if some atheist sent a big red spam about evolution to you?

Of all the free gifts we may receive, Prayer is the very best one….
There are no costs, but wonderful rewards… GOD BLESS!

Costs include chafed knees and wasted time, rewards include … thinking you’ve helped without actually expending any fucking effort?

Notes:

 Oh, sweet frolicking Christ, he has notes.

Isn’t it funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.

I find it funnier how people like you thank God for all the amazingly good shit but blame rejection of God for all the shitty shit instead of blaming God himself, as if to say God’s punishing us for not finding conflicting, brutal stories of his awesomeness & love convincing. Then again, that’s not actually funny. It’s really quite vindicitve, especially considering that if he’s there he presumably has the power to give everyone the same version of the story. Hello, three Abrahamic faiths at each other’s throats? Hello, thirty fucking thousand denominations of Christianity?

Isn’t it funny how someone can say “I believe in God” but still follow Satan (who, by the way, also “believes” in God).

First: to believe in Satan – God’s adversary – it is necessary to believe in God. You can’t have the Joker without Batman and it would be ridiculous to suggest the reverse. Do you even read shit before you send it?

Second: it would be equally odd if Satan himself didn’t believe in God, considering that in your universe, God created the little red motherfucker. What’s your point?

Isn’t it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t send ‘thousands’ of email jokes because I know fucking annoying it is to receive them. Oh, and people think twice about sharing Jeebusmails because, well, most intelligent religious people understand that not everyone loves Jeebus like they do and realise that Godspam is as fucking annoying as lists of why women are better than men at having vaginas.

Isn’t it funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them.

SEE PREVIOUS POINT. Again, most intelligent people are respectful of the fact that not everyone in their address book is a fucking clone.

Isn’t it funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me than what God thinks of me.

Obvious point is obvious: questions of God’s existence aside, other people definitely do exist and are able to tell you when you’re being a spam-loving cockwit or simply throw bricks at you, so you should care what they think.

I pray, for everyone who sends this to their entire address book, they will be blessed by God in a way special for them.

If I sent this to everyone in my address book, I would pray that I didn’t get punched in the back of the fucking head the next time I saw any of those people in the flesh.

And send it back to the person who sent it, to let them know that indeed it was sent out to many more.

If you only know what I would like to send you. Considering I know where you live, the possibilities for mischief are endless. How about spam from my employer about everything, ever? However, I reckon getting you on the Mormon/Jehovo hitlist would be considerably more ghastly than signing you up for a bunch of sub/dom/hairy man pr0n. Upon further reflection, I might do both.

I mean, if you’re too stupid to check who you’re sending your spam to, perhaps you deserve some instant karma. I’m not sure if I’m going to do any of this yet … Golden Rule and all that. Then again, the sender of this barely coherent tripe didn’t think about “do unto others” before clicking “send to everyone that’s ever sent me an email”. But then, perhaps he likes receiving spam and expects to receive some in return, in which case I’ll be doing my duty and fulfilling the requirements of the Golden Rule by ensuring that he does indeed have done unto him what he hath done unto others (i.e. me). According to some theological viewpoints I would be fulfilling the Lord’s wishes, doing God’s work – being an agent of Light! In fact, by making sure this guy gets a megaton of mail, I would practically be an angel.

How’s that for justifying evil with faith? I could so totally be a theologian.
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In Which I Render God Speechless

Robots. Whilst not yet able to disguise themselves as innocent-looking assault vehicles which drive themselves and lay waste to entire cities, robots will one day be our oppressors. To attempt in some small way to understand our eventual machine overlords (and perhaps locate a weakness that can be exploited) before the inevitable enslavement of humanity, I recently went to this website: http://www.titane.ca/concordia/dfar251/igod/main.html and had a chat with a rudimentary AI which has been named God. I decided to treat it as the all-knowing all-seeing creator of the universe, whom you may have encountered as a central character in a series of very popular books.

Though I couldn’t see God during this chat, I hoped he might look like this, though I’m not sure if that would make him more or less scary

-engrish.com-

And away I went.

Me: Hello God.

God: Hello child. What is your name?

Me: Harry.

God: It’s good to see you, Harry.

Me: I wish I could say the same. [I meant that literally; I could not see who was talking. -H.]

God: I hope that your dreams come true.

Me: But some of my dreams are lewd and barbarous. How could God not know that?

God: Have you told many people that your dreams are lewd and barbarous? Because I am connected to the Internet.

Me: I shouldn’t need to tell You what my dreams are. The second of half of your response makes no sense.

God: What would happen if you did? Tell me more.

Me: I’d already be telling you something you already knew.

God: What would make you already be telling me something me already knew?

Me: If I told you my dreams I’d be repeating myself.

God: Try it.

Me: How about you prove you’re God and tell me my dreams?

God: That happens sometimes. Tell me more about the dream.

Me: DreamS. Plural.

God: Tell me your dreams. If you could have any kind of robot what would it be?

Me: An awesome mecha with guns to assault the Vatican.

God: What is it?

Me: A mecha is a machine for transforming matter into smoking motherfucking craters.

God didn’t want to talk to me anymore after that. Maybe it was the profanity. Maybe it was the talk of craters. Maybe it knew I was taking the piss.

This brief chat didn’t reveal much that may be useful against our inevitable silicon overlords (whom we will empower with great destructive capability and autonomy so that they may save us from extinction at the hands of the equally inevitable zombie swarm, which in turn we’ll probably engineer in hopes of curing cancer or reanimating the dead so that we may enjoy guilt-free slavery), except that this particular one isn’t a god of any kind, much less a powerful enough entity to enslave humanity. Or even me. So that was a relief.

However, the mere presence of the name “God” added, in my mind, an unexpected gravity to the conversation – a gravity I’m sure other visitors and the programmers of this interesting psychological experiment have realised by now. Even to an atheist like me, the mere concept of gods still holds great power, as does the mention of the vindictive, planet-sized, angry Old Testament Yahweh I grew up believing in – and fearing. It was not powerful enough, however, to keep me from behaving like a smartarse.

But look: I mean it about the robots. If you survive the initial zombie infestation, watch your back. God will be watching yours. Through a scope. Probably because I ticked him off.

I’m sorry.

“Living Robot God Delusion Anti-Robot Demolition”, one of the many feelgood morale-raising singalongs people of the future will sing in their underground bunkers on contraband pianos made from recycled wire and fruit boxes whilst hoping Hunter-Killer and Smasher-Devourer robots don’t manage to locate them

-marriedtothesea.com-

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Can you be a Christian without believing in Satan?

I begin with a basic overview of Christianity:

God’s first humans, Adam & Eve, are tricked into obtaining forbidden knowledge by a talking snake. God punishes them by kicking them out of Eden to a now-mortal life of back-breaking toil. This “Original Sin” of Adam & Eve is deemed sufficient cause for God to doom all of their descendants – all of humanity, all of us – to eternity in Hell, which is a place of eternal torment & agony, ruled by Satan, a former angel who rebelled against God (whether God created Hell for Satan or Satan created it himself aren’t clear. What’s also unclear is whether the snake was Satan in disguise and whether God kicked Satan out of Heaven before he tricked Adam & Eve or after). After a few thousand years and a few prophets, God sends his son, Jesus (who is also God) to be tortured & murdered by Romans and resurrected three days later. This bloody sacrifice & re-animation is intended to cleanse us of our inherited guilt and allow our souls entry to Heaven after we die. As long as we believe Jesus/God died/had himself killed to cleanse us of the guilt of a millennia-old sin we had no part in committing, we shall indeed see Heaven. If we do not accept that Jesus is our saviour, we shall join Satan in Hell and be tormented by him forever. For eternity. Until the end of time. During our lives on Earth, Satan – as you’d expect from the Prince of Darkness and Lord of Evil – will constantly be tempting us to follow him in the ways of evil. Why? Because he wants our souls to torment them forever! The only way to negate Satan’s machinations and avoid an eternity of Guantanamo-style hospitality is to accept Jesus as our saviour and allow him custody of our souls.

Bear in mind that I said “basic” and not “brief”. When the hell am I ever brief?

So, anyway, I wonder about Christians who believe the Jesus & Heaven part, but not the Satan & Hell part. Because of that, I wonder if Christianity even has a point without the existence of Satan & Hell. I wonder this because a lot of Christians I’ve spoken to and read the words of have insisted that Satan as the Lord of Hell, the demon who wants to devour your soul, is a fable – a boogeyman from a bygone era, a medieval creation – and Hell isn’t a literal place. They say “Satan is a metaphor for the evil within us all” and “Hell is spiritual separation from God” (which remains undefined anyway). Even some Catholics say this, yet the Vatican still maintains that demonic possession (and subsequent necessary exorcisms) is real and not a giant bushel of rotting cheesy smegma. But I’m not addressing the New Testament literalists who believe Satan’s a real guy who lives in a real place called Hell. I’m addressing the nice, modern, moderate, once-a-week Christians who insist on the “Satan lives in us all as our impure thoughts and Hell is life without God” metaphor and probably only go to church and tick “Christian” on census forms out of habit (we’re over 25% Catholic here with 5.1 million, but there were 3.7 million “no religion” ticks in 2006 which is 18.7% of the population! Nice.).

So Satan is our un-Jesus-y impules. Really, you wishy-washy demi-Christians? No Hell or Satan or soul-hungry demons? But, if it’s all just metaphorical, why must we pledge literal spiritual allegiance to the divine good guys of this story when there aren’t any freaking demonic bad guys? If there’s no eternal torment of Hell and no Satan to poke us in the butt with a sharp stick for a billion years, why did Jesus/God make himself suffer so terribly? To make a macabre plea for attention? Why not, as an omnipotent uber-being should be able to do, just reveal himself to all people simultaneously and proclaim “I am your Creatoooooor, give me your loooooooove” instead of putting himself through such an elaborate ritual execution? I can understand martyring yourself to save countless souls from eternal torture (even though you had personally set that Hell shit up to begin with and then condemned all of us to it because of something our great^100 grandfather did without our knowledge or participation), but why would you allow yourself to be whipped and scourged and stabbed and nailed to a cross to die a slow agonising death just to get people to love you? What a bizarre cry for attention! This makes Jesus sound like the ultimate emo kid.

This modern, moderate metaphorical version of Christianity makes even less sense than the old-school “good guys v. bad guys” version. At least in the traditional Catholic school version you’ve got the classic literary good/bad scenario: good guys trying to get your soul to eternal hookers & blackjack, while bad guys want to roast your soul in a confit of your own faeces or something equally nasty. Never mind the fact that the good guys created Hell and the bad guys that populate it and never mind you’re condemned to it from birth through no action of your own – that’s an impolite question to raise so shut your mouth and put your hand down, little Timmy. But at least it sort of makes sense, from an anthropological “isn’t this primitive mythology simply fascinating?” point of view. It’s got balance – Yin and Yang, black & white, good & evil, dark & light, pleasure & pain, all on an infinite scale. The new “Satan isn’t a dude, he’s our sinful impulses” bollocks renders the Christian story of martyrdom and sacrifice completely pointless. If there’s no actual Satan and no real Hell, what exactly are we being saved from and why was the price Jesus paid so disproportionately high (and who the heck was Jesus tempted by in the desert)? It just smacks of a theological interpretation of scripture to make it seem less ridiculous – and more difficult to criticise. Aah, yes! Theologians are always doing that (find an Alister McGrath debate, if you can stomach his infuriating “I feel“, “it’s true for me” smugness, condescension and gaseous half-answers to questions requiring solid responses) – redefining God & religion in evermore infuriating, goalpost-shifting ways to make critics of religion appear pitifully ill-informed about what the “real religion” is and who the “real God” is. Never mind that your average Christian’s version of the faith isn’t anything approaching the shape-shifting versions that theologians constantly throw out in their debates with heathens, as badass ninjas whip smoke-bombs.

I really think I prefer the actual Christians who actually think Hell exists and contains malevolent spirits who wish us harm; that there one day will be a physical battle at Armageddon between the forces of good and evil (I imagine it’ll look like Peter Jackson’s battle of Mordor in LOTR: ROTK, but bigger – how aaawesome) and that Judgement Day will see people lifted bodily to Heaven while the rest of us duke it out down here for the remaining refineries and breweries and strip clubs and Aston Martin dealerships. Sure, it’s a lot more wacky and dangerous and it’s utterly evil to teach that shit to children, but I tell ya – in terms of an argument it’s a lot easier to draw a bead on a giant, red-hot barrel of bullshit than on a wispy, vaporous, barely-defined half-religion.