Sunday, October 31, 2010

Godless Beautiful Thing Of The Week

Aaaaand part two. There were no other posts from me this week, partly because Christine O'Donnell put me into a state of shock and frankly, also because of Halo: Reach.

So for the second Godless Beautiful Thing Of The Week, I figured I'd go for something natural. Something that's ancient and utterly beautiful.

I'd love to go and see this myself some day. It is widely known as the largest single structure made by living things. It's hugely diverse, and the whale/dolphin/porpoise groups, a family known as cetaceans, have had 30 species recorded there alone. It's also home to a lot of dugongs, who could be considered the ugliest animal alive. But it's also got some of the prettiest - or else it wouldn't be in this post.

(Sole exception there. The giant clam is cool, but that guy's got a fucking goofy hairdo.)

Having grown up on the Ecco the Dolphin games, I've always loved the beauty and diversity of sea life. That doesn't help me when I'm faced with ridiculous concepts like the late Paul, the World Cup Predicting Octopus, and find myself faintly glad he died because at least he outlived the World Cup and now no one's making a big fucking fuss over a randomly correlating series of lunches for Paul, and certainly no one's taking it as an insult that he didn't mutilate his fellow sea life until he could swallow them from a box not marked with their country's flag (seriously, people, come on).

But it does mean that I get to absolutely adore nature documentaries about the sea, even if it means squid freak me the fuck out now (if PZ Myers ever reads this, sorry, but aargh that beak). And it means I get to marvel at things like this, and not have to unconsciously thank someone for their existence, or worry about how their continued, observable and demonstrable evolution goes against what the priests told me as a kid.

And you know what? Out of the billions of single organisms there, and the trillions of polyps who make up and have made up the structure of the reef itself, I'd bet anything that not a single one of them ever prayed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Godless Beautiful Thing Of The Week

Okay, here's the crack: that old concept of atheists having no sense of beauty since we don't stick a little copyright symbol with a halo onto gorgeous things? FUCK THAT. I'm tired of that, and so I'm trying out a weekly Godless Beautiful Thing - something we know is real, that we can all see is beautiful, and that doesn't appear - to us, and we're the ones seriously looking - to involve any gods at all.

This week's gorgeous thing is kind of a copout for a first go, but it's the most utterly obvious example of beauty I can think of. It's our planet.*

Now I realise this one's potentially a bit of a red rag to a bullshitter if any creatards come along. But I have a backup plan for that, and it doesn't involve judicious use of middle fingers and chair legs with TRUTH printed on them. It's just another video, but of a track by the utterly unstoppable Joe Hisaishi:

There. Two for one on the first go - can't say fairer than that. I even catered, for once, to the IDiots who might disagree with the first vid - although that's never, ever likely to happen again - so let's see how it goes. I'll run this for a month, and after that we'll see.

*Hat-tip to Daylight Atheism for the Earth link. Thanks, dudes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

To Believe! Or Not To Believe.

That isn't really the question that comes to mind when I meet someone new. It certainly didn't come to mind when I met Mick.

Really, why should it bother people that one guy doesn't believe in the exact same things as they do? And since this is a response to Mick's post, I guess I'll go over some of the things he talked about.

One: Beauty without God. Atheists know of beauty. If we want proof of beauty without a Christian life, then we only need to look at history. Across the world, there have been many who did not believe in God, but were in awe at the wonders of the world. You don't need God to appreciate a lightning storm, or to be struck speechless at the sight of a whale migration. If you do have God, you are just saying to yourself that this is one of his wonders. But just because Mick looks to a scientific explanation as opposed to faith doesn't mean that he can't appreciate the beauty of a flower, even if he knows that it's beauty is fading, or be any less captivated by someone's loving touch, even though he knows that it's just a chemical reaction that makes him feel that way.

Two: Why did I turn to God?

People have their own reason to believe or not to believe. Some were raised a good Christian, but they saw things they didn't agree with in the bible and decided they wouldn't have any part in it. Others just happened to pick up the book and saw some life changing things. We all have our own reason to believe. An inner calling, a need for something greater, the question that needs answering. For me, it was because I just did believe. It was like truth, truth I had to pour my whole heart into being. We don't believe because we are looking for proof. Belief isn't about proof, or about science. It can be. But faith is about believing in something without needing to see it or feel it to know that it's there.

And if someone doesn't get that, don't get in their face saying that they're wrong. They are another person too, and we can't force anyone to take on our beliefs. I respect Mick's decision to not be a religious man, and he respects my decision to be a religious woman. And that's all that matters.

As a side note, I'd like to add that my belief doesn't mean that I'll bend science to suit myself. To those of you who stand steadfast that evolution is bull, what if it's how God does his thing? What if he didn't just say "let there be light", but he said, let there be a mixture of hot fluids on the face of the earth, and mixing it one way suddenly creates life? Or something along those lines. The Primordial soup theory might not be just a theory.

Sure, I believe in the majestic power of God. That doesn't mean that I don't respect the natural powers of this world any less. Science and religion are not two opposites, and I'm here to prove it.

And as an added note:

An instant gut reaction to that is, frankly, that I don't want to fit into their perception of the world. Their perception on the world includes eternal torture for nonbelievers, as well as being spied on constantly by a higher intelligence that knows when you're wanking. Their perception of reality can get stuffed, I want no part of it.

Careful Mick. If you keep up with that, you'll go blind. :D

Awe, You Poor Frightened Babies

I've been having a few more preachy pieces of crap shoved in my face recently. As Katie will verify, my attitude to religion basically echoes VJack's: treat it as you would treat your genitals, including deciding whether or not to show it off in public, let it guide governments or expose it to children.

One of the more ridiculous questions I get asked, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, is 'Well what do you believe in?' - as if I have to believe in something, anything, in order to fit into their perception of the world.

An instant gut reaction to that is, frankly, that I don't want to fit into their perception of the world. Their perception on the world includes eternal torture for nonbelievers, as well as being spied on constantly by a higher intelligence that knows when you're wanking. Their perception of reality can get stuffed, I want no part of it.

Besides, I don't have to believe in anything. No one believes in the sun, or chairs, or Sigourney Weaver or any empirically real things. If something needs to be believed in to have an impact on your life, then maybe it's useless; if it has a demonstrable effect on your fortunes or personal happiness then you don't need to believe it exists, whereas if it doesn't, then why believe it exists at all? (One idiot told me his faith in God made his life better and therefore I'd just proven God exists; I told him he'd just proven his faith exists, which is hardly the same thing and kind of points him out as a moron.)

I've also had it pointed out to be that without the idea of angels painting flowers by hand and shit like that I cannot possibly have a sense of awe, or even beauty, about the world. To that retarded claim I submit this utterly beautiful song:

Shut your eyes and see where that takes you. To me it's awe, and distance, and permanence, in sonic form - and no gods are involved. Some would say that God put that music into the head of the composer - but the composer is a woman called Yoko Kanno, and if the Bible were the basis of world law she would never have been allowed an education. So fuck 'em.

So many things are beautiful already. This planet is by no means a closed system (in your face, thermodynamic-law-wielding creationtards) but even on its own, even just through sunlight and time, it has produced more things than any human could ever hope to document - let alone explain in the Bronze Age, by sitting in a tent and writing rules on how to live as part of their tribe. And a relative handful of apes who have deluded themselves into thinking a piece of nomad-authored literature from before anyone thought of putting yeast in bread has all the answers? Not gonna change anything. Especially when that piece of literature has been translated and retranslated through multiple languages, and rewritten over time to include things like resurrected sons of gods put together from other prophetic figures, all in languages that were evolved to scream defiance at the monkeys in the next tree or tell one another where the ripe fruit was - and despite all that, it still has giant glaring inaccuracies that include two different genealogies for Jesus on his father's side (which obviously contradicts the idea that Joseph was not his biological father since he was born from a virgin, let alone one of them having about half again as many generations from start to finish)...yeah. Totally inerrant word of God there, guys. Especially the King James Version, used by many as the Irrefutable Original Word Of God despite it saying KING JAMES' VERSION on the cover.

All of this is wrong with the book they base their life on, and they're quibbling that I can't find any awe? I'll tell you what I find awe-inspiring: the mental gymnastics these people hurl themselves into to even say this shit to me. Is coherence too much to ask?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I wonder when you can draw the line with what is sinful and what is not. I mean, the bible says that you should not covet the property of your neighbor or their spouse. So... it's basically all in how you word it. Instead of "I want that tv" you say "I want a tv like it". Instead of "That woman he's married to is awesome, I must have her", you say "That woman is so awesome, I wish I could find a woman just as amazing".

So, to avoid sin, is it how you think sometimes that can make the difference? Maybe.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Indoctrinate Your Child - The Girly Way!

What. The. FUCK.

Seriously, I don't even know where to start with this one. Using the Disney Princesses meme - because it is clearly fucking ripped off from there - as one of the most blatant pieces of outright propaganda and child indoctrination I've seen since that Iraqi school textbook (with examples of sentence structure that went 'I love Father Saddam. Do you love Father Saddam?') and then making it look like women, Biblically, weren't there to basically be sold by their fathers and as target practice if they stepped out of line.

For those who fear the fist-itch the link implies:

My Princess Bible shares stories of 19 women of the Bible through a rhyming story and a short takeaway summary in prose. Each story ends with two lines that remind the reader of valuable character traits of a princess; the little princesses are even encouraged to recite the learning of the biblical princess using her name in the blank instead: “________ is God’s special princess; ________ is sad when she does something bad” (the takeaway from the story of Eve). This format helps children see biblical women as princesses who teach us about godly principles. It also helps reinforce that the little girl reader is special and seen as a princess because she is created by God. The final story (number 20) is taken from Psalm 139 and features the reader as the godly princess. It reminds the reader that princesses are daughters of the King and are loved by God. Little girls will love to read My Princess Bible over and over to learn about God’s princesses.

If I had a daughter and anyone gave her one of those, I'd probably punch them. At the least I'd give them a Tim Minchin album. Anyone out there who'd do something different, or have hit a similar situation - whether with children of their own, or otherwise?