Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Resurrection of Resurrecting Reason

I have now been absent from this blog for far longer than I was active. That’s a sad thing to realize, because I always loved writing this blog. There were just a great many things that contributed to the absence. The economy’s collapse affected me greatly, as my day job was as a Mortgage Broker. I had to move, went through a great many personal crises, and with the election season kicking into full gear, my interest in atheist affairs was just overshadowed by the more pressing concerns of keeping up with an incredibly important presidential race.

By the time the election was over, I’d been gone from the blog for so long, that I honestly didn’t know how to return. Oh, and I was also cheating on my blog with, a paying blog gig writing about my other love (yes, the iPhone).

All that aside, it is definitely time to return to my baby. Like all babies, however, this one has to grow up a little. In choosing the name Resurrecting Reason, I inadvertently gave myself the leeway necessary to expand the blog beyond the subject of atheism. It is still something that I am passionate about, and it will still be an oft-discussed topic here, but I also feel that politics and civil rights and lots of views held by the masses are lacking that essential ingredient: Reason. As such, I will be redesigning the site to be a little less specific to any subject and will be writing whenever there is something that I feel needs to be said that isn’t being widely said. Whenever I feel that a subject isn’t given the proper dose of critical thinking, I’ll inject reason (as I see it) into the subject.

Since I live in America, I imagine you’ll be seeing a lot of me.

Before you ask: Yes, I will continue doing the No Bullshit Bible Lessons, just not as a daily or semi-daily feature. I figure once or twice a week, as it suits my fancy. Those have always been fun to write, but at the same time, felt the most like work of anything I’ve written here. After all, it involves heavy bible-reading. If that’s not work, I don’t know what is.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pick a colloquialism: What's your flavor of non-belief?

“It’s one thing to not believe in God, but an Atheist?

Comments like the one above have left many non-believers to adopt any one of a number of different colloquialisms to avoid the stigma attached to “The A Word.” Let’s review a few of them, shall we?

Agnostic: Let’s get this one out of the way first; Yes, agnosticism is different from Atheism, but in many cases, it is used by Atheists as a way of self-identifying as a non-believer in a more palatable way. It can also, in fact, be quite a subjective term. Technically, even Richard Dawkins is an agnostic, because he can not say with 100% certainty that there is no such thing as a god or gods. This is exactly my stance as well, but I (and I assume Prof. Dawkins as well) identify as Atheist to indicate that it isn’t something I am unsure about, that I don’t feel there’s any reasonable chance that there is a god. I cannot claim 100% certainty that anything doesn’t exist, but I find it so unlikely that the difference is almost indistinguishable. Thus: Atheist.

Free-Thinker: This is a way of downplaying the disbelief, making it nothing more than incidental to the fact that the bearer of the title practices “free thought.” That free thought should naturally lead to the conclusion that there is no god. I find this to be both pretentious and, somehow, not pretentious enough. On the one hand, “free-thinker” is a way of elevating yourself to a higher status than those you’re differentiating yourself from: that they are inferior because they do not have the ability to think for themselves. In that sense, I think it can be a more damaging label than Atheist. On the other hand, I think that you could drop the “free” and just acknowledge that you just need to think, period, to know that the idea of God is ridiculous.

Humanist/Secular Humanist: The “Secular” part, when added, is almost redundant. Secular doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t believe in God, just that you want that part to be separate from the rest of society, especially government. There are even plenty of Christian secularists here in the States (though not nearly enough). But someone with no belief in gods is almost always going to be a secularist... after all, why would you want something you don’t believe in having a say in something as important as government? “Humanist” serves to express the disbelief, so “Secular” should be logically inferred. But what about that phrase? It indicates a faith in humanity, in human nature to provide morality, empathy, guidance and charity. It says that we don’t need something outside ourselves to be just and righteous. A stance on the existence of God takes a back seat to the more important notion that, whether God exists or not, we don’t need one. In that way, I very much like the term. For me, though, I prefer to be more blunt about my views on the subject of God’s existence.

Skeptic: All Atheists are, by definition, skeptics. In fact, my dictionary says they are synonymous. Unfortunately, too often the term skeptic is thought of more as someone who doubts the existence of ghosts, physics, Bigfoot, or UFOs, rather than someone who doesn’t believe in deities. So, while the term skeptic is perfectly accurate, the perception of the term usually gives a false impression and usually calls to mind people like James Randi, who try to expose faith healers and other charlatans.

Bright: According to, there are semantic differences between a Bright and an Atheist. However, the goal seems to be to introduce the word “Bright” into the public vernacular to mean “A person with a naturalistic, not supernatural, worldview,” mush in the same way that the word Gay went from meaning “happy” to meaning “homosexual.” I think this is a worthy endeavor and I have signed on as part of the movement. But I’ll continue to identify as an Atheist. Especially for the time being, since no one would have any idea what I was talking about if I said “Oh, I’m a Bright!”

Those are all the ones I can think of for the moment. If anyone identifies as something I don’t have listed (or something I do) then let me know what and why. I’m very interested in hearing why people use the colloquialisms that they do.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Terrible Secret of the Rapture

Biblical scholars and clergymen have spent hundreds of years watching for the signs of the rapture, the time when Jesus would return to Earth and deliver his followers bodily into Heaven prior to starting the apocalypse. In recent years, more and more of the foretold events have been observed, according to such experts, and the general consensus has been that Jesus’ return is imminent.
        “Jesus walks among us today,” says Pastor Jim Davidson of the Crown of Thorns Methodist Church in Albuquerque, NM, “He’s just waiting for the right time to exercise His glorious judgement upon us.”

Many expected that the End Times would be kicked off as the clock rolled over into the new millennium on January 1st, 2000, but seem to have been undeterred when no such thing happened.
        “2000 was as arbitrary a number as anyone could have come up with,” explains the Rev. Patrick McIntyre of Our Lady of Blessed Grace Church in Manhattan, “the truth is, no such theories have anything at all to do with scripture and have everything to do with people trying to guess at the will of God using logic that makes sense to them. The flaw there is in thinking that any of us, or even all six billion of us working together, could ever think or reason on the level of perfection and understanding as the Lord. Such thought is more than folly; it’s blasphemy.”

Rev. McIntyre went on to predict the true date of the Rapture as May 7th, 2011.

Shelby Corbitt, of Bradenton, FL, claims that God came to her and gave her a prophetic vision that the Rapture was coming in 2007. She wrote a self-published book on the subject, launched a website called and advertised the two, amongst other places, on bus stop benches. Mrs. Corbitt fell victim to quite a bit of ridicule when the calendar flipped over to 2008 without incident and she has since taken down her site and started a new one,, where she is less specific on the date that God gave her in her 1986 vision.

As it turns out, Mrs. Corbitt may have been too quick in distancing herself from her previous prophecy and should probably have had more faith in the infallible word of the Lord. After rigorous investigation, we have determined that the Rapture did, indeed occur in 2007. Coincidentally, while she had the year right, it was Rev. McIntyre that pinpointed the day: May 7th.

On May 7th at 11:58 AM, Eastern Time, Edward Bailey, a 36 year old contractor in Hartford, CT, was seen walking out of a local deli, when suddenly...
        “He looked like he was doing that moonwalk dance,” eye-witness Desiree Dupree said, “he was walking, but he wasn’t goin’ no where. It took him a second to notice and I was doin’ a double-take myself. But right when he noticed, I seen this light come down out of the sky and he just gently floated up until I couldn’t see him no more. It was nothin’ but a miracle of the Lord and that’s the truth.”

Ms. Dupree, a 92-year-old widow, wasn’t the only witness, either. The deli was located directly across from a bank, who’s ATM security camera caught the whole event, along with three other cameras on the block, including one on the roof of the building Mr. Bailey had just walked out of, which caught Mr. Bailey in close-up as he ascended past.
        “If you look at the street, there’s no question as to the authenticity of the event,” explained Hartford Police forensic expert Oliver Wright, “First, he would have to have set up some sort of crane or pulley system on the roof, which simply could not have been accomplished here without raising some questions. Also, since multiple cameras caught him walking out of a building from behind a closed door just prior to rising, it was clear that he could not have been wearing any sort of harness to be connected to such a system at the time of the ascent. Though no cameras were pointed at the sky to see him rise higher than would have been possible through human means, we do have a reliable witness [Ms. Dupree] who did see this happen and the rest of her testimony is corroborated by the surveillance footage we do have.”

In response to charges of “Rapture,” officer Wright added, “I won’t make a judgement that it was God or aliens or Osama Bin Laden. All I can say is that we know pretty conclusively that this man was lifted into the sky through no human technological means.”

The day after the alleged rapture, an Argentinean newspaper reported that a church had been vandalized, a message written large across one wall in what appeared to be blood, though no tests have determined from what species the blood may have come. The message read: “Only one man was worthy. The rest of you are assholes.”

No Bullshit Bible Lesson #21: God names Jacob "Israel" (again)

Genesis, Chapter 35:

After Jacob’s sons slaughtered Hamor and Shechem’s tender-dicked people, God came to Jacob with a message,
        “Jacob, you remember when you were running away from our brother and I came to you in a vision and told you I had your back?”
        “You mean in Bethel?”
        “I wasn’t running from my brother, I was going to get a wife.”
        “No, I’m pretty sure you were running from your brother. Don’t go back and re-read my account of it, just take my word for it, because I never contradict myself.”
        “Uh. Right.”
        “Anyway: Bethel. Go back there and build me an altar.”

So Jacob gathered all his people together.
        “Okay, everyone! Give me all your false gods, get yourselves cleaned up and changed, we’re going to Bethel!”

So they handed over all their little carved gods and their earrings and, while they were getting changed, he buried all these things under a tree by Shechem...which, after Levi and Simeon were done with him, could probably have been any tree in a three-mile radius.

As they passed out of town, the people in the neighboring town didn’t slaughter them because they were afraid of God. It’s good to have friends in high places.

So they arrived at Bethel, where Rebekah’s nurse promptly died and they buried her under an oak tree. The God showed up and blessed Jacob,
        “Your name is Jacob,” He said, displaying a great ability for stating the obvious, “But from now on, your name will be Israel. And your kids will be kings and you can have the land I gave your father and grandfather and all that.”

So God left and Jacob built a stone altar and poured water and oil on it. Then he named the spot Bethel. Just like he had almost 30 years prior.

They all left Bethel then and traveled to Bethlehem but before they could reach their destination, Rachel went into a difficult labor with her second child, whom the midwife assured her would be a boy. She gave birth to the boy but, tragically, the labor had been too hard on her and she passed away, the last words on her lips, the name of the child she died bringing into the world: Ben-oni.

Jacob had loved Rachel very much, from the moment he met her, and her dying wish were that her son should be named Ben-oni. Unfortunately, she was just a woman. And the wishes of a woman don’t matter, not even the dying wishes matter if they come from a lowly woman. So Jacob named his twelfth son Benjamin. Or maybe he just thought Ben-oni sounded too much like Ben Kenobi (scholars consider this latter possibility “unlikely”).

So Rachel was buried and a pillar erected in her honor.

Eventually, Jacob (now officially going by “Israel”) settled somewhere beyond the tower of Edar. While living there, his eldest son, Reuben, had sex with one of Israel’s concubines...which would be kind of like having sex with your step-mother. Israel heard about it, too. How he felt about it, though, remains unclear.

Later, Israel/Jacob traveled back to be with his father, Isaac, at the end of his days. He died at the age of one hundred eighty, and his sons buried him.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

No Bullshit Bible Lesson #20: Dinah's Fate Revealed!

Genesis, Chapter 34:

Though she rated not a single mention in Jacob’s adventures after her birth, his daughter Dinah was, in fact, brought back home when the rest of the family took their leave of Laban.

So Dinah went to see the daughters of the land. Whatever that means. While out and about, she met a prince named Shechem, who took her home and raped her. Unlike most rapists, however, Shechem fell in love with his victim and he tried to sweet talk her into liking him.

Shechem went to his father, a powerful man named Hamor, and demanded that he arrange that Dinah should marry him.

Jacob, meanwhile, had heard about what had been done to his precious (though often overlooked) daughter. His sons were in the field with the cattle when he got word, so he decided to stew in his rage until they returned.

Hamor arrived to discuss the proposal with Jacob at about the same time as the boys came in from the field. When they heard what happened to their sister, they were filled with a rage befitting older brothers in such circumstances.

        “Guys,” Hamor implored, “My son loves your Dinah with all his heart! Please consent to make her his wife! Your daughters will marry into my family and my daughters will marry into yours! We’ll be one, big, happy family! What do you say?”
        “Yeah,” said Shechem, who was also there, apparently, “I’m a good guy! Tell me what you want, and I’ll give it to you. Anything you want. Trade you a Rolex each for your sister, if you want.”

The men of Jacob’s family discussed amongst themselves briefly and came to a conclusion:
        “The problem,” Jacob said, “is that you heathens have foreskins. Our family has a big problem with excess dick skin and could never give our daughter to someone that’s uncut. But we’re not unreasonable. We will consent to marrying our daughter to you and joining our families if everyone of your people will get circumcised. Otherwise, we’re taking Dinah back and you’ll never see her again.”

Hamor and Shechem left in good spirits. Shechem’s love for Dinah was strong enough that he would mutilate his penis and the penises of every man he encountered, if needs be. So they went and gathered the men of their land and sold them all on the idea of getting circumcised, enticing them with the notion of how much more livestock they could have if they were joined with Jacob’s people. The men agreed and they all set about getting circumcised right away.

The next day, all the men moved about gingerly due to their sore, sore man-units. So when two of Jacob’s sons, Levi and Simeon, charged into town with blades drawn, the men were unable to protect themselves and every last one was killed mercilessly by the brothers.

Their cold-hearted slaughter complete, they freed their sister and took every woman and child captive. They also took all the livestock and harvest and valuables. The town was completely decimated.

Jacob wasn’t too happy to hear what his sons had done,
        “Great. Because of you little shits, everyone around here is going to hate me. You know what’s gonna happen, right? I’ll tell you: all the villages are going to band together, march in here and kill my ass. All because you had to go commit genocide!”
        “Hey, no one treats our sister like a whore, Dad!”

And that seemed to end the argument.

Attention Internet Explorer Users:

It has just been brought to my attention that my site has been crashing your browsers. Sorry about that. It seems I had a widget that IE (and only IE) just didn’t get along with at all. The good news is, the problem seems to be fixed, so you can feel free to read without fear of a browser crash.

And from now on, I’ll be testing all the browsers whenever I add a new widget.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No Bullshit Bible Lesson #19: Jacob vs God in the Steel Cage!

Genesis, Chapters 32-33:

Jacob was finally on his way home and, on his journey, was met by the angels of God. All of them, apparently. And if they had much of anything to say, no one seemed inclined to write it down.

Jacob sent some messengers ahead to inform his brother of his homecoming,
        “Go, tell Esau where I’ve been for two decades,” he commanded them, “and tell him how huge my flock is and how many servants I have, oh, and that I hope he’s happy to see me!”

So off they went, later returning with news of Esau,
        “So, we found Esau and told him you were coming, and he’s coming out to meet you! Oh, and he’s bringing four hundred men with him. Good luck with that.”

Naturally, Jacob freaked out. After all, he spent his early years screwing over Esau as often as he could. So he split his group in two, so that if Esau came and slaughtered one, the other might escape. He also spent quite a bit of time praying to God, and reminding Him how He said He’d do right by Jacob.

Just in case, though, Jacob gathered hundreds of his various animals and, separating them into groups of like animals, assigned each drove to a servant,
        “Okay, guys...I’m gonna send you out in waves, okay? Journey out in the direction of my brother, with some distance between you, so you don’t all get there at once. When you see him, tell him that you and all the animals are a gift from me, and tell him I’m right behind you. If we’re lucky, he won’t want to kill me by the time I finally get to him. If he kills you and takes the animals, I’m sorry. Better you than me, though, right?”

So off they went and later that night, Jacob gathered his wives, and his concubines and his eleven sons (his daughter Dinah still conspicuously unmentioned) and sent them across the ford while he stayed behind for the night.

He was all alone, except for some random guy who came along and wrestled him. They wrestled until dawn, seemingly at a stalemate. As he realized that he wasn’t getting anywhere in this wrestling match, Jacob put his hand on the hollow of his thigh, because it was out of joint.
        “Okay, let me go,” he said to the stranger, “the sun’s coming up. And I’m not letting go until you bless me.” Blessings, apparently, were the big gaudy Championship Belt of the time.
        “What is your name?”
        “’re name isn’t Jacob anymore. From now on, you’ll be known as Israel, because you are a prince among men and you have power with God and you have prevailed.”
        “Uh, okay. And what’s your name?”
        “Why would you ask me my name?” he said, before revealing himself to be God, and blessing Jacob right there on the spot, which Jacob came to call Peniel.

After God took His leave, Jacob (apparently less concerned with taking the name that God assigned him than his grandparents had been) continued on his journey, catching up with his family.

Before long, he saw Esau and his four hundred men coming his way. And he did what any good father would do, he put his family between him and the threat, in order of his love for them; The concubines and their children closest to Esau, then Leah and her kids and, with him, Rachel and Joseph. Dinah, however, was still nowhere to be found.

Esau went right past them all to Jacob, who fell to his knees and bowed seven times as he drew nearer. Esau ran up and...grabbed Jacob in a big ol’ bear hug, gave him a kiss and they cried with joy to see one another!

Introductions were made all-around and Esau was reluctant to accept the offerings Jacob had sent to him, but eventually relented at Jacob’s continued insistence.

They journeyed back home together and Jacob built himself a house and bought some land and built an altar. Things were looking up.