Monthly Archives: December 2013

In which Thom Hartmann destroys Eric Hovind, creationist dumbass

Eric Hovind, well known creationist idiot (not to be confused with his father Kent Hovind who’s currently serving time for tax fraud), was recently a guest on the Thom Hartmann show. I like Thom’s program a lot, but haven’t listened to him in some time. This video is definitely worth the nine minutes, if only to hear Hovind’s ridiculous assertions that evolution claims mankind evolved from rocks and bananas. It’s a claim Kent Hovind first made (see the first paragraph in this section of the wikipedia article for Kent) over ten years ago, and it’s just as intellectually dishonest now as it was then.

Jesus Christ, Marie, they're minerals

Hovind also claims that the earth’s population growth is proof of a young earth. Keep in mind that this is a high-profile media appearance, so there is no doubt Hovind is trotting out all his best arguments . . . and his best arguments are apparently that evolution teaches we come from rocks and/or bananas, and that the population growth of humanity proves that we all descended from a single family after the christian god killed everyone else in a flood. I don’t even know how to respond to the first “argument” (it’s painful to even call it that) with anything other than mockery, but if you don’t understand why the second “argument” is also profoundly stupid, here and here would be great places to start. The first link is from 1986, so it’s nice to see Hovind using arguments that were discredited only a few years after I stopped wearing diapers.

How do these sorts of hucksters–the Kent Hovinds, the Ken Hams, the Ray Comforts, and the Ron Wyatts–keep finding people who are so willing to accept the bullshit they peddle? It’s a failure of education in this country and proves that the old adage is true: apparently a sucker really is born every minute. I used to be one of those suckers until I started looking things up and realized the “proofs” these guys offered were demonstrably false. Even if you believe in this claptrap there is hope for you yet, just as there was hope for me. Realize that if we destroyed all religious holy books and every science textbook in existence, we’d some day remake all of our scientific discoveries, but no religion would ever be recreated as it had been. Educate yourself. Start here.

A better name for christianity

Colbert on the 'Christian Nation'

Courtney posted this quote on facebook earlier today. I’ve seen it before, but it got me thinking: why aren’t some American Christians more Christ-like? Despite being an atheist, I think I have a fairly decent understanding of the moral teachings of Jesus. Last year I compiled a new version of the Jefferson Bible in updated English, which included a lot of reading of the first four books of the New Testament in the Christian Bible, also known as the Gospels.

Each of the first four books paint a slightly (or vastly, in the case of John) different picture of a man (or God, though in some accounts he makes far fewer references to divinity) named Jesus. I’m not religious and haven’t been for a long time, but if you aren’t familiar with the story you can read it for free online. Start at the beginning of Matthew and keep going to the end of John if that’s your thing. If you are familiar with the story, you should read my re-creation of Jefferson’s work (available for free at NewJeffersonBible.com), because it paints a very rare picture of Jesus as a person.

I’d be interested to see someone take only the words of Jesus and list them in order, Matthew through John. None of the exposition, none of the descriptions, just the words attributed to Jesus in the Christian Bible. I would imagine it’s quite different from modern American Christianity in a number of fundamental ways. So, based on this, I propose a new name for the current batch of American evangelicals loudly proclaiming their own righteousness: Paulists. There are a few Catholic orders that use the same name, but in this case that’s an added bonus because many evangelicals don’t see Catholics as “real” Christians and will hopefully work harder to avoid the distinction.

Who is Paul? Well look, I’m no historian. Wikipedia has an article about the guy. The tl;dr is that Paul was originally Saul. He hated the early Christians and persecuted them fervently. He supposedly had a vision while traveling to Damascus in which a bright light appeared and he heard the voice of Jesus, who said Saul was being a bit of a prick. Jesus then made him blind (because who doesn’t love a major trauma?) and apparently sent another guy to gather up the bumbling blind Saul. When the guy appeared, Saul regained his sight and realized he was wrong, Jesus was the bee’s knees, and he changed his name to Paul and started spreading this story around to everyone who’d listen. That’s a paraphrase of the story, you can read it yourself if you want all the specifics. Acts 9:1-19.

Full stop. I’m about to get a little contentious, but it’s not as if people haven’t provided alternative narratives to established religious doctrine before. Look at how religion is used. It’s used to control people and keep them in line. Saul was already a religious guy, then this new religion comes along. The founder died and isn’t around; they say he went up to Heaven. You can bring a lot of clout to the table as far as your family and connections (Paul was a Roman citizen and had many contacts in Judaism circles, having been born into a family of Pharisees). You get in on the ground floor and get to shape the direction of this burgeoning movement. You had a vision of Jesus, after all! Who will question the things you say?

For a religion called Christianity, an awful lot of it is based on Paul. There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament. The first four deal with Jesus. Thirteen of the books–more than half of the books not directly dealing with Jesus–were purportedly written by Paul. Jesus talked about the poor, Paul talked about a woman not having authority over a man. Jesus spent time with the people at the bottom of society’s ladder, Paul wrote what is the only mention of homosexuality in the New Testament. Jesus turned over the money-changing tables in the temple and fought against the religious leaders in his day, Paul became a top leader in the nascent religion formed in the name of someone who wasn’t around to contradict his teachings. It’s clear that Christianity is a misnomer. Paulism is a much more apt name. If Paulists in this country start acting more like the person they call Jesus Christ, then maybe some day they can earn the label “Christian” back.

Sweat Man (the worst superhero ever) [flash fiction]

I wrote this after seeing a prompt on a writing community. Prompt: “You have THE most useless superpower. Write about a day in your failed / hilarious / successful / ludicrous attempts at heroism.” Here is the result.

# # #

“So, you’re telling me you woke up yesterday morning with a new superhuman ability, and your power is that you get sweaty?”

“Yep, but there’s more to it than that. I can do it regardless of my physical state. Lounging in bed, riding in the elevator, standing in line at the grocer, I can sweat during the most mundane tasks you can imagine, even ones requiring no physical effort. I can stand in a walk-in freezer and sweat as if I just completed a triathlon.”

“That is so dumb,” my friend Keith replied, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “What’s the point?”

“The point? Watch this,” I said. I closed my eyes and felt the perspiration manifest on my forehead. I wiped my hand across the expanse of skin, gathering a handful of my salty excretion, and slapped Keith in the face.

“OW!” Keith exclaimed. He wiped his face with the sleeve of his button-up shirt. “Dude, what the fuck?”

I smirked. “That’s right, bitch. Don’t diss the Sweat Nap.”

I was surprised by the volume of Keith’s laughter. After he stopped laughing he said, “Sweat Nap? Is that your superhero name? Wow, man.”

“Yeah, it’s like wet nap, but with swea–”

“No, I get it,” he interrupted. “Still stupid.”

“Look, it’s still a work in progress. Think you can come up with anything better?” I demanded.

Keith looked up at the ceiling, rubbing his chin with his hand. “Hmmm,” he said. “Sweat is salty, right? Like sodium chloride? How about ‘The Psycho Sochlo’? Or maybe ‘Lean Mean Saline’?”

“Jesus, Keith,” I said, pounding the countertop of the bar. “I want villains to be scared of me, not seek me out when they need to clean their contacts. Come the fuck on, dude.”

Keith opened his mouth to reply, but before he could speak there was a slam from the front of the bar. Both of us turned to see the door resting against the wall, open. In the entryway stood two men dressed entirely in black, wearing balaclavas and long jackets. “Shit,” Keith whispered. “Anarchists.”

“Oy mate, we’re the black blocheads,” the taller of the two said. He swung his arm out from under his coat. He held a sawed off shotgun in his hand. “And we’re here to free you from the bonds of your capitalist oppression.” The shorter man standing next to him grinned lecherously and brandished a knife.

“Uhhh,” I said, unsure of how to respond. “We’re both unemployed, guys, so we’ve pretty much already been freed from our capitalist fat cat overlords.”

Keith laughed. “Yeah, what he said. Plus, we already spent most of our money at the bar.” He motioned across the wood platform that separated us from the rows of bottles. We all looked, but the bartender who’d been standing there was nowhere to be seen.

The taller man stomped over to Keith and slammed the barrel of the shotgun against the back of his head. “Shut the fuck up, cunt, and give us your wallets!” he yelled.

Keith rubbed the back of his head. He glanced at me pleadingly. It was then that I knew I had to make an attempt to save us with my new-found power. I closed my eyes and began to summon the sweat. I could feel it gathering on my forehead, on my upper lip, even under my eyes. It began to run down my face, but I knew I’d have to do something more drastic if Keith and I would make it through this night alive. Focusing all my concentration on the liquid that was sliding toward my chin, I began to imagine it as a stream–no, a mighty river–springing from my forehead.

I opened my eyes and felt my head forcefully jerk back as a stream of sweat with the diameter of my forearm burst from face. It washed over the two men, drenching them with liquid. Thinking quickly, I aimed the stream at the eyes of the taller man, then those of his shorter companion. The two men started screaming and rubbing at their faces.

“It burns!” squealed the shorter man. He dropped his knife with a clatter and hopped around, rubbing his eyes with both hands.

The taller anarchist grunted and started shaking his head wildly. I stood up and smacked the shotgun from his hands, then bent over and grabbed it. The two men rubbed at their faces for another minute, and when they opened their eyes they were staring down the short barrel of the shotgun. They looked at me with shock and I said, “You two are all washed up.”

“You’re so bad at this,” Keith groaned from behind me. “But, uh, thanks for saving me.”

I turned to him and replied, “Of course, man . . . don’t sweat it.”

 

Stay tuned for the next episode of Sweat Man, wherein our intrepid hero is trapped in a box of silica gel by his newfound arch-enemy.