Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Blasphemy Day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Warhammer Game

A friend of mine is about to start up the new version of the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing Game.  I don't know much about the new system so it will be fun to learn.  I thought I would just post my characters history here.  We had to be from Marienburg and we had to give our character some driving force in their life.  The game master gave us a different history than the canon, so this will be fun.  Here is the history of Torendil Argentpatois Wood Elf Waywatcher:

It has been 8 long years since I lost them.  It has been 8 long years we have had to barricade ourselves from the others.  Everyone is losing hope.   Things were supposed to improve and have instead only gotten worse.  It has been 8 long years of hopelessness, fear and barely surviving.

I was born in the forest.  I have longed to return.  The last 8 years has only made that longing worse.  My parents, Alane and Larandar, were sent here, shortly after I was born, as envoys to the proud humans and our snobbish cousins.  The envoy set up on one of the few uninhabited islands within the deltas of Marienburg.

We set up houses and a community, even raising what little of plant life was there.  I grew up with the trees planted upon our arrival.  They were nothing compared to those that we left behind.  How I long for those giant majestic trees.  My sister was born without ever seeing those trees.

Gallina was born 15 years after our arrival; I was 20 at the time.  There were not many elves close to my age.   Most were either adults or Gallina’s age.  I often got into trouble because I didn’t fit in.  The human children would make fun of me and the young ones only wanted to play baby games.  I once ran afoul of the human authorities.  They beat me and dragged me back to our island.  I was sure my parents would have a word with me over having to obey the humans because we were representatives of the Queen, but instead I was greeted by Ravandil Surefire.  Ravandil was the only real guard we had and the only one we needed.   You never saw him but he saw you.  After the humans left, he seemed to appear out of the shadows near me.

“Torendil, you will never honor the Queen if you continue down this path.”

“Why should I care, we are never going back to the forest.”

“You think the Queen’s eyes are restricted to the forest?  There is much you have to learn.  I can teach you, come back here tonight.”

I came back that night.  Ravandil was a Waywatcher and he wanted to train me as his apprentice.  I am sure my parents wanted me to be diplomat like them but that was never my calling.  I trained every night with Ravandil.  He showed me everything it would take to be a Waywatcher and protector of our home.  I was starting to appreciate our lives here but then everything changed.  That was 8 long years ago.

It started with rumors of some human hero coming to “save” everyone from the current leaders.  They besieged the town and the internal fighting got worse and I had to help Ravandil keep the others out of our community, it took all my training.  I don’t know how long the siege had been going before it happened, the event that changed everything.  Even during the attacks my parents still felt the call of their duty and continued to be envoys to the current leaders.  The explosion could be seen the city over.  My parents and a few of the other elders were in the tower during the explosion.  I learned all of this a few hours after the explosion, Ravandil told me.  I told my sister.

Things went from bad to worse.  I had no time to grieve as the celebrations gave way to food riots.  We had to fight for what little food we could find.  Ravandil was in charge of our island and he decided to secure our borders.  We built barricades to keep the others out.  The only problem was that it kept us in too.  It was up to Ravandil, myself and a few of the other elders to secure our island and gather the food we needed.  This kept us busy and still some of the scum came to steal from us.  We left the heads with arrows in each eye socket just outside the barriers to deter others.  This only worked for so long as the food shortage became worse.  Apparently some of the humans were blaming us for their problems, as if we even cared about them.  There was a large riot that encompassed the entire city.  We fought because that is all we could do.  Keeping the humans out was impossible.  Ravandil forced the young ones and myself into a cellar.  The last thing he said to me was, “Keep them safe.”  We could hear the fighting outside.  I don’t know how long we waited but it was well after the sound of fighting had died away before we came out.  Ravandil and most of the elders were dead.  Most of the houses had been destroyed, a few even burnt down.  The trees were in a similar state to the houses.  I cried but the young ones didn’t understand as they had never seen the forests.  A few elders survived the battle, hurt and the spirit broken.  The riots passed by us and ended a few days later.    From what I can tell, the hero, that came to “save” everyone, was found dead.

I was finally able to mourn the passing of all our brethren, my mentor and my parents.  The city started back like it was before the war, but slowly declined from there.  I decided to keep the barriers around our island up and even fortified them into walls.  We barred ourselves off from the city.  Gallina wanted to take up where our parents left off.  I was reluctant to let her, but finally caved on one condition that I would be her personal bodyguard.  The lords of the city disregarded her, not even granting her an audience.  She was persistent and asked every day.  The lords finally granted her an audience but did not listen to her requests for assistance.  Gallina lost hope that day.  I knew what I must do on that day.  We were not wanted here.  It is time to return to the forest.  My people’s spirit is broken.  It will cost a lot of money for moving and for supplies.  I cannot just muster them all at once but I have been working on it for the better part of these last 8 long years.  Making connections with some of the scum, but I will do whatever it takes to see that my people make it back to the forest.  8 long years have passed and several more years lie ahead but we will walk among the forest again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

TF - Resurrection Time.

It has been awhile, but I am back to working my way through this book.  I am still in Chapter 6 and this section is called Resurrection.  It is a case study in logical fallacies.

He starts off giving a brief overview of the Resurrection story in the bible.  He claims that two Mary's went to the tomb to sprinkle spices on Jesus.  So here is what the Bible has to say:

Matthew 28:1 - After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

So far so good.

Mark 16:1 - When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

Okay the two Mary's came but apparently someone named Salome came also...

Luke 23:52-56 - This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning.  The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

Okay so it is just the women here, no names.

John 20:1 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

Now it was only 1 woman...

Well Mary of Magdalene was possibly in all the stories...

Next Colson says that Mary and Mary were met by two angels, that told them Jesus was risen.  Again going back to the Bible to see what it says:

Matthew 28:2-And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it

Well that only says one angel, maybe "Matthew" just left one out...

Mark 16:5 - As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

Well that doesn't even mention an angel, just a man in white robe and only 1 man...

Luke 24:4 - While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.

Well at least there are two guys here in dazzling clothes, I guess you could assume they are angels and not just two guys coming from a rave...

John 20:1-3 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb.

John 20:11-12 - But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

Well here it was two angels but two disciples were present too...

So Colson just mashes these four different stories together and claims it is one continuous perfect story.

The next statement by Colson makes me laugh:

The ugly crucifixion, the most hideous symbol of death and shame ever devised, was converted  in that instant into the holiest of holy symbols.

Well first it took several hundred years before it was considered a real holy symbol (when Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire, for more about Constantine I suggest reading this).  Second I think Eli Roth and James Wan have the cross and crucifixion beat in the most hideous and shameful death devices ever devised.  They are masters of whole movie genre based on torture, shame and painful death.

After that sentence, Colson begins to make his dive into logical fallacy land.

All true Christians believe that Jesus Christ has been bodily raised in victory over death.

We start with a No True Scotsman.  Colson mentions an example of the Anglican Bishop of Durham, who, Colson claims, claimed to doubt the bodily raising of Jesus.  David Jenkins is the Bishop.  David Jenkins is a Christian because he describes himself as such, no matter what Colson says.  That is the thing, whether Colson likes it or not, if someone claims to be Christian then they are a Christian.  I even know a few people that call themselves Christian Atheists.  They are still Christians.

I was in Sri Lanka shortly after his widely publicized statement and was told by an Angelican priest that the Buddhists and Senegalese and Muslims were using the statement to lure believers away from Christianity.

Yet more racism from Colson.  To quote Sesame Street, "One of these things is not like the other things."  Buddhism is a religion.  Islam is a religion.  Senegal is a country in Africa. Apparently there are 0 Christians in Senegal and apparently all Senegalese try to deconvert Christians.  No need for anything like facts to get in the way:

Muslim 94%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), indigenous beliefs 1%

Next Colson contradicts his "All true Christians" statement:

Still, many who call themselves Christians today share Bishop Jenkins's skepticism, embracing the argument that many have made through the centuries that Jesus' followers simply played upon the ancient myths about a god rising from the dead, hid Jesus' body, and the created the Passover Plot.

You know the first time I heard of this plot?  The Bible.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. - Matthew 27:62-66

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, ‘You must say, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.” If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’ So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day. - Matthew 28:11-15

Amazing how the pharisees could understand what Jesus was saying when they barely saw him.  Yet, his disciples, whom have been traveling with him everyday, are completely caught off guard by this whole resurrection.

Weird that the authors of the Bible had to insert this...

All the apostles recognized that if the resurrection was not a historic fact, there could and should be no such thing as Christianity.

Option B, making this claim made it seem like what they were saying was more true.  Colson quotes Paul of Tarsus before this.  There are many things I can say about Paul.  Paul seems to have taken over Christianity and determined the path it was to go.  The earliest known writings on Christianity are from Paul, not any of the disciples or even the Gospels.  Paul was the first truly educated person to take up the banner of Christianity.  He claims this because of a vision on the road to Damascus.  Paul had the classic traits of someone with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.  I do not doubt that Paul believed everything he wrote, but belief is not evidence.

Which brings my next point, 'All worshipers of Thor recognized that if lightning was not real, there could and should be no such thing as Thor' or insert your own favorite deity.  Doesn't make as much sense.  Really all it takes is belief that it is true.  Once there is belief then the religion can take off, whether it actually is true or not doesn't matter.

My personal experiences in the Watergate scandal convinces me of the historic proof of the resurrection, as I've written elsewhere.  I was charged with being part of the conspiracy to cover up the Watergate break-in.

He still thinks he did nothing wrong during Watergate.  Colson, you were not just charged but convicted and you plead guilty.  That means you admitted to being part of the cover up. When I mess up, I admit it.  I screwed up at work one time and forgot to change back up tapes.  One of our servers crashed and we didn't have current back ups.  I admitted this was my fault.  Stop using this wishy washy language of 'I was charged'.

What most Watergate buffs have failed to note, however, is that the conspiracy succeeded for less than three weeks.

Yes, he is using a modern conspiracy to try and disprove the idea that the disciples conspired.  Not taking into account that there was far less communication networks then or literate people then.  Colson also somehow ignores the irony of saying things like this:

After all, Christians are rightly concerned that extremists have turned Earth Day into “Worship-Earth Day.”

Just listen to a few of these suggestions for Earth Day 2010 that some of the more radical groups are proposing: taking down “global eco-criminals” like Exxon-Mobil; having school kids meditate about the Spirit of Life (that’s “Spirit of Life” with capital letters); seeking international cooperation on reducing the human population; or working for, and I quote, the “ultimate, inevitable, and necessary dismantling of industrial civilization.”

Or this screed against Global Warming.

So those conspiracies can exist but any kind of conspiracy that happened during a time when most people were illiterate and we didn't have any way of electronically recording anything and no way to spread news really fast and if it goes against Chuck Colson's preconceived notions could not have happened.

The comparison of a conspiracy today to one in First Century CE is apples and oranges.   Also we have a nice example of a conspiracy working just recently in 9/11.  Several fundamentalist Muslims conspired to fly planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House and they succeeded (the US Government didn't do it).

Think of it: the most powerful men around the president of the United States could not keep a lie for three weeks.

Not just the most powerful, but also one of the most scrutinized group of people in the world.  Unlike a small group of fanatics in the mountains of the Middle East.

And you'd have me believe that the twelve apostles - powerless, persecuted, exiled, many martyred, their leader Peter crucified upside down - these common men, gave their lives for a lie, without ever breathing a word to the contrary?
Yep, they sound just like a group of radical Muslims who have done exactly the same. 

As we are seeing with Islamic radicals today, people will die for something they believe to be true; but men will never die for something they know to be false.

I now expect to see a press release saying that Chuck Colson has converted to being a Mormon or a member of Heaven's Gate or just admitting that David Koresh was the second coming of Jesus.  I would even be happy if Colson just said he missed out in Jonestown, among other cults.  All because no one ever dies for something they know not to be true.

Besides the evidence of people dying for something that they would have to know is not true, Colson is also making the assumption that disciples were all martyred.  The earliest known recording of the martyrdom was by Origen in the 3rd Century CE.  We have nothing before that.  How can one be sure that it happened as Origen said?  And not just stories passed down to help legitimize a struggling young religion?  Much like the Bible, it can only be done on faith.  The evidence is just not there.

For two thousand years the historicity of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection has been challenged on many grounds.  But no one has ever produced evidence of the kind that brought President Nixon down - "a smoking gun," that is, evidence that could contradict the biblical account.

Evidence, you are doing it wrong.  No, the burden of proof is on you Colson to prove that the Bible happened as it says, you cannot switch the burden of proof on the negative.  Your example proves that.  It was not up to Nixon to prove he wasn't part of the conspiracy but it was up to the prosecution to prove that he was.  Now your claim is that Jesus, lived, died and rose from the grave.  You have to prove that happened.  You will have a hard time proving that he even lived.

It also has not been challenged for two thousand years.  Most of that time, Christians ran the show and people were tortured and killed if they remotely challenged anything in it, including the idea of the Earth orbiting the Sun.

Is that not evidence of its veracity?

 I was abducted by aliens when I was in college.  Prove it didn't happen.  Is that not evidence of its veracity?

Can you think of any other event in history that has been so thoroughly examined, has not been disproved, and yet some still disbelieve it?

Alien abductees, Muslims, Mormons,  Bigfoot hunters, Loch Ness monster hunters, make that all of Cryptozoology, Zeus, Odin, Hindus, Buddhists, and countless others would like to talk to you.  Unless of course you have found some way to disprove them all.  Shifting the Burden of Proof is a logical fallacy.

The constant eyewitness testimony of the apostles and earliest believers to the reality of Jesus' bodily resurrection, given among those hostile to the claims of Jesus, clearly points to the resurrection as a historical reality.

If you think we have any writings from any direct eye witnesses, you are fooling yourself.  There is none, zip, nada, nothing.  We have people writing at least 30 years after the fact, claiming that they talked to a reliable source, who may or may not have been an eye witness, but won't mention the source by name.   Some even admit to just being made up of the stories being told among Christians (Luke 1:2).

The last bit of this chapter is just an appeal to authority and the authority being the Bible.  Colson just claims that since the Bible says Jesus is in Heaven then he must be in Heaven.  I am still waiting for any other reports of the many prophets that rose from the dead in Jerusalem that Matthew talked about (Matthew 27:52).  I am not holding my breath.

The next Chapter is an attempt to prove that the voting process that created the Nicene Creed and the Athanasius Creed were correct, about the Trinity.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I sometimes just have to write about life.  Some of this is recent, some is just things that come up.

My sister called me and she wants to take my gf's daughter (her daughter calls me dad now which is still odd but good at the same time) to Vacation Bible School this week in the evenings.  I didn't want to give an answer without talking to my gf first.  Her daughter is moderately autistic.  She, the daughter, doesn't understand any concepts that she can't touch or feel.  Trying to ask what she did today is even perplexing to her.  So I was okay with her going to VBS because she wouldn't understand what they are talking about but would have fun playing games, singing and eating snacks.  The gf was okay with this for much of the same reasons.  It is just being asked in the first place.  Religion is assumed and I have given plenty of hints to my family about being an atheist.  I just don't know when is the right time to come completely out of the closet so to speak.  Everyone here prays, at work or even work related optional events.  Religion is there hanging on.  Like the Bad Religion song Generator, religion is the buzz in the background that influences everything.

I want to move, I want to do something different, but I have a family and I don't want to put pressure on them.  Motivation is something that seems to be lacking from me.  I feel no urge to do anything.  I work for the sake of working.  Again I am just not motivated to do anything.  It is as if something is missing in me that helps other work hard and get ahead.  It is depressing at times.

I think back about all the times I let other people decide things for me and regret it.  I want to go back and change certain moments, but I know I would not be me then and unsure of how things would have turned out.  I am happy as to how I have turned out overall.  It is just things overwhelm and some things just have to be said.  I have been holding those things back lately and it shows at times.

I worry too much.  I worry about my relationship with my gf.  I worry if I am doing everything I can for her.  I don't want to lose her.  Everything is okay, she tells me this, but I still worry.  I worry I am not doing enough for my family, like there is so much more I should or could do, again like there is some motivation that drives people at being a better person for the family that I don't have.

I want to go back to school, but I am scared.  I am scared of the consequences for my family.  Right now we depend on my job.  I would have to lose it, probably get a part time while at school and my gf would probably have to get a job.  Then we would have to find someone to take care of the kids.  This task is so daunting to me.

I wish I could just be a better person than I am.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TF - Chapter 6 - Penal Substitution and Racism

This next section is on Penal Substitution, but Colson does not even try to justify it.  He just asserts that it is good.  Colson is saying that it is good to kill an innocent man instead of the guilty party because the innocent man wants to be punished.  This goes against pretty much every one's morals.  The same morals that most Christians, and I am sure Colson himself, claim to be from God.  That would mean that Penal Substitution is an immoral act committed by God.

Often to get around this immoral act, Christians will say it is similar to someone paying a traffic fine.  Even if we ignore the difference between fines and the death penalty, this still does not make sense.  Jesus is God, so thus God is paying money to himself, in other words nothing is exchanged and thus the fine cannot have been paid.

These are the major issues with Penal Substitution, but Colson acts as if they don't even exist and that everything is nice and dandy.  Colson even starts off by claiming that Christianity is facing some sort of evil conspiracy working against it at all times.

When you understand, as inmates, the poor, and the marginalized do, the radical nature of Christ's message, it's no wonder that those opposed to God's rule ordered him crucified.  He was a dangerous threat to the evil world order.

This is not reality.  Colson has now entered fantasy land where everything and everyone that do not agree with him are conspiring against him.   I find this particularly funny considering Colson's past and his own involvement in an attempt to cover-up and conspire against Democrats.  One would think that with experience in how hard it is to conspire and cover-up something relatively small, that he would understand the impossible logistics of covering up something as massive as he is claiming here.  Then again he can always opt out of reality and claim it is supernatural in nature.

Next, Colson briefly describes some scenes from his favorite snuff and antisemitic film The Passion of the Christ.  He also makes the mistake of claiming that Jesus suffered the worst possible type of death sentence in crucifixion.  The Romans were amateurs compared to Torquemada.

If you can still imagine yourself as a prisoner, think about what the scene at Golgotha reveals.  Being nailed to a cross was an invention of the Romans, considered the most painful death imaginable, with prolonged suffering often lasting hours.  None of us can get out of our minds the grisly portrayal of the crucifixion in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ.  Watching that film was one of the most sobering and convicting experiences of my life.
He even makes the mistake of claiming the Romans invented crucifixion.  It takes no time at all, especially in the age of the Internet, to research this claim.  It is patently false.  From Wikipedia:

Pre-Roman States

Crucifixion (or impalement), in one form or another, was used by Persians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Macedonians, and Romans. Death was often hastened. "The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim."[30]
The Greek writer Herodotus described at the conclusion of HISTORIES, BOOK IX (120-121), the execution in about 479BCE of a traitor; "they nailed him to a plank and hung him up...this Artacytus who suffered death by crucifixion." (Translation, Aubrey de Selincourt.)

This is yet another time that Colson seems more interested in emotional pull and less in facts.  I have to ask again, if I can't trust him with what I know to be true, why should I trust him about the unknown?  Or as Saint Augustine of Hippo said:

It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.

Colson goes on about how awesome God is for killing an innocent person instead of himself and how loving that makes God.  Near the end of all this comes this exact quote:

Everyone is like the first thief or the second, or perhaps one of the crowd, standing around with their hands in their pockets.  Remember the great Negro spiritual "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?"  Well, you are.

Negro is still totally appropriate, right?  It does nothing to hearken back to the days of slavery and inequality, that many are still trying to fight for and against. This is just blatant racism out of no where.  Colson could have easily chosen any number of other words instead of Negro.  The most appropriate being African American, but slave or black would have been far more appropriate than Negro.  This just gives more of an incite into the mind of Colson, that he chose this particular word here.  All this talk of tolerance and love is shown to be for only those that look like Colson, disgusting.

Edit: If you want to read many different and in depth reviews of Penal Substitution, the cases for and the rebuttals against it, I suggest reading Ken Pulliam's blog Why I De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Random Stuff

I have been using Stat Counter for awhile now, just to see what my most popular pages are.  The two biggest are from Blasphemy Day and my Warhammer game.  People are hitting them searching for images.   I am sad to announce that the Warhammer game ended prematurely.  My players just couldn't get a regular schedule going to keep playing.  It lasted more than what I posted and was even close to the end but it was just not to be.  Oh well.

So I will have to come up with something gaming related to talk about in the future, that seems to get a lot of hits.  Hopefully tie a few things together or something.  Thanks everybody for reading, I do appreciate it.

Edit: I have been playing WoW again too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Draw Muhammad Day!

My submission for the day:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I forgot

But here is Muhammad!

I drews him meself!

TF Chapter 6 - This means WAR!

I, again, have to question the idea of using war terminology that Colson is using to represent his religion.  This book was first published in 2008, which is well after another group of fundamentalist religious zealots used war terms and attacked Americans and others in the World Trade Center Towers.  It is as if he wants to be associated with this kind of right wing militarism.

Colson even goes on to compare Christianity to an occupying force:

His [Jesus] own ministry and then by establishing a peaceful occupying force, His Church, which would carry on God's redemption until Christ's return.
There is no definition of occupying force that allows you to include peaceful.  It is impossible.  The idea is that you install your force by, well, force.

Then of course there are the specifics of Christian history.  What was so peaceful about the Crusades, witch hunts, the Peasants' war, St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the Thirty Years' war, and so on?  These altercations involve the groups that Chuck Colson's Christian foundation is built upon, and the foundation that all Christians' faith is built upon.  "For all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

Colson goes on, dropping the military analogies, talking about bringing the Gospel to prisoners.  How the prisoners get excited upon hearing how Jesus will free you.  Then Colson talks about how people are excited when the Bible is translated into other languages, and oppressed people here a redemptive story.  This really doesn't surprise me.  People have an innate sense of justice, including babies. The oppressed want to hear about how at some point in the future they will not be oppressed and how those oppressing them will receive punishment.  The prisoner wants to hear how his "sins" will be washed away and new life can begin in freedom.  The fact the Bible tells them this will happen does not make it true.  That they, prisoners and the oppressed, want this to be true, does not make it true.

The one thing Colson does get right in this chapter is stating that Jesus was not a white Anglo-Saxon.  Jesus would have been Semitic and born in the Middle East.  He would have looked like anyone living on the West Bank today.  He would have looked something like this:

From Religious Tolerance: What did Jesus look like?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Moving and stuff

Well I am moving into a for real house and out of the apartment this week. Hopefully after getting settled over there I can finally get the pictures from DC on the computer and on here. Also I will continue my drudgery through Colson's book. I might even share some pictures of the new place. We are renting the house but it is bigger and we need the space because I have baby boy that will soon be born. Next year I am seriously considering going back to college for another degree.

So, some simple updates of things going on in my life.

Edit: Oh and look I found a picture of Muhammad.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

TF - Chapter 6 - Invasion

Chapter 6 is entitled Invasion and it starts off as militaristic as the last chapter ended.  Colson starts the chapter talking about his part in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état.  Here is how Colson describes it:

The officers were briefed in the wardroom in preparation for a landing, ostensibly to protect American lives and property.  The planned invasion was labeled "Hard Rock Baker" - a covert plan to restore Guatemalan government to its pro-American leaders.  The CIA was directing the operation against the newly installed leftist-leaning government of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán - a classic case of gunboat diplomacy.  We listened on the shortwave radio to Radio Moscow and Pravda denouncing the American "invasion" in Central America, while President Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dallas, denied Americans were anywhere in the area.  "Hard Rock Baker" was not publicly disclosed, in fact, until the mid-1990s.
Once again, as it seems with a lot of this book, there is so much wrong in such a short amount of space.  So one sentence at a time.  What American lives were at stake in Guatemala?  What America was doing there was protecting its own special interests, it had nothing to do with American lives and properties.  The United States was there chasing down a supposed communist threat.

The invasion was not called "Hard Rock Baker", it was called PBSUCCESS.  PBSUCCESS was the selling of weapons to resistant groups and helping them overthrow the Guatemalan government.  Operation HARDROCK BAKER was a naval blockade searching for weapons so that the Guatemalan government couldn't be better armed.  HARDROCK BAKER had nothing to do with setting up an invasion.  This was an illegal act by the US in order to intimidate President Guzmán and the Guatemalan government.  The only thing covert about it was the denial by the US government that it was happening.  US military boarded and searched British and French freighters ignoring International Law.

The CIA was directing the operation, but calling the government newly installed sounds like President Guzmán and his people took over.  Guzmán was elected president in only the second-ever universal-suffrage election in Guatemala.  He was elected peacefully, a first in Guatemalan history, and democratically.  The US was overthrowing a democratically elected government to set up a government that is loyal to us, some might even say a puppet government.  People today wonder why Iraq and others are worried about us doing the same in Iraq.   It's because we have a history of doing it.  Colson also throws in leftist-leaning because liberals are scary and should be feared, yet more political agenda thrown into a book about religion.  Can anyone show me in the Bible where it says Christians should try and manipulate the government?

Guzmán may not have been entirely innocent.  He did meet with the Guatemalan communist Labor Party to discuss a new land policy.  He was able to put that policy into affect before the US ousted him.  The policy had the government take land from the elite rich land owners and give it to the poor.  There were stipulations, the land could not be currently in use and the owners were paid for the land.  It was forced but the land owners were also properly compensated at fair market value for the land.  Guzmán was forced to sell some of his own land.  This was the communist entanglement that the US feared.  Also the policy took some power away from US friendlies inside Guatemala.

It was not just the Soviets that were denouncing our actions but allies like Britain and France.  Also if you call it an invasion and then someone you don't like uses the same word.  You can't just throw their use of the word in quotes to try and discredit their views of your actions, because you have the same view.

The rest of what Colson writes in this paragraph is actually true.  He did misspell HARDROCK BAKER again.  What all this has to do with Christianity, I don't know, nor does Colson explain.  Instead he goes on to talk about the invasion of Normandy and the lives lost there.  He finally concludes this opening section of Chapter 6 basically claiming that the attack on Normandy and the battle against Germany appears preordained and somewhat miraculous.  Basically he is saying God was on the side of the Allies in WWII, without saying it.  Funny, the Germans thought the same, "Gott Mit Uns".  Colson can say he is right because he won, might makes right of course.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

1 Year

I have been blogging for 1 year now.  I am amazed I have made it this long.  No worries I plan to keep on blogging.

Also at some point, I will download pictures from my vacation and add them here.  I am pretty slow about doing that type of thing.

Thanks to everyone that has been reading.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TF - Chapter 5 - The Blame Game

I actually think Colson gets some things right here.  Colson deserves credit for both what he gets wrong and what he gets right.  Although he starts off with a beautiful example of projection:

Our culture's refusal to accept the truth of original sin has created a mentality of wholesale denial.  We find the judgment in the word "sin" a far greater offense than the failings to which it's applied.  When our own behavior might be described as evil or sinful, we compartmentalize our thinking, profess ourselves victims, or find ourselves generally astonished that any such darkness could have emerged out of us.
Colson has been talking about how Christians are persecuted because people are questioning the veracity of the Bible.  He went so far as comparing it to the actual physical persecution some Christians have received across the world and throughout history.  I guess when it comes to compartmentalizing and making oneself out as a victim, Colson is an expert.

Colson goes on to talk about how people make excuses.  This is where I agree with him and think he got something right.  Many people are too willing to pass the blame around and not take responsibility for their actions.  Personally, I take responsibility for what I have done.  We had some issues at my work this past week and it was my fault.  One of the first things I did was tell my boss that it was my fault.  The root causes do go back further than I have been working here and I am trying to change those now, but that particular incident went back to something I didn't do before I left for vacation.

Finding the root cause of something and shifting blame are two different things.  That is something that Colson does not seem to understand.  He conflates the two ideas and calls them both the same.  For example talking about terrorist Zacarias Moussaoi:

But the jury, after long deliberation, decided to sentence him to life in prison instead of the death penalty.  When jurors were surveyed after the verdict, nine of the twelve explained the lesser sentence by noting that Moussaoui had a troubled childhood.  A dysfunctional background excuses someone for knowingly take part in a plot to kill thousands of innocent civilians?

To answer his question, no it doesn't as Moussaoui was convicted and sentenced to life in jail.  Colson seems to be out for blood here, the old an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth Deuteronomy style revenge (revenge because that it is what it would be, not justice).  What did Jesus have to say about this?

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. - Matthew 5:38-39

Moussaoui was held responsible but the jurors saw fit not to kill him and showed compassion giving him a lesser sentence.  For some reason I think Jesus would be more proud of the jurors than the blood thirsty Colson (YHWH may be a different story though).

Colson later uses a prisoner as an example of the same thing, saying:

One prisoner told Dr. Dalrymple that he had become depressed after "his trouble came upon him again."  His "trouble" was breaking and entering into churches, stealing their valuables, and then burning them down to destroy the evidence.  The doctor wondered whether this "trouble" had come about because the prisoner had been forced in his childhood to attend too many church services by a hypocritical family.  "Not at all; it was because in general churches were poorly secured, easy to break into, and contained valuable objects in silver."  The man blamed his actions on lax church security.  The prisoner thought this only reinforced his compulsion to steal.

Contrary to the Moussaoui story, here is a man that is shifting all the blame onto others.  This is what I too would speak out against.  This is far different then finding the underlining issues.

In the last part of this chapter, we stumble across some of the best irony ever written.  After going on about how people should not shift blame, Colson says:

As we've seen, Satan practices his deception not only on individuals but on whole cultures.  He uses false religions and false ideas to ensnare cultures in evil.  If he can turn a whole people toward worshiping a false god, he can compromise millions of consciences at once.

Yes, that is right it is all Satan's fault.  Colson just shifted the blame from everyone in the world to Satan.

He goes on again to say that questioning the veracity of the Bible's truth claim is letting Satan do his work.  Comparing it to Nazi's taking over the world.  Yes, he seriously did this.  He then says just like the allies invaded Europe, God has invaded this world, and ends the chapter.  Why the stark military references at the end?  Colson is really appealing to the idea that everything is a war and we all have to fight.  Sadly some people will take this seriously (Hutaree Militia).  Colson and the others that inspired this group using military jargon will then back as far away as possibly saying things like 'We were talking about a spiritual war not a physical one'.  Again I am reminded of something attributed to Jesus:

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." - Matthew 26:52

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Well before I left but also before I had time to respond.  It was just pointing to another blog that is claiming the statistical data for atheists being underrepresented in prisons is a lie.  The site is Thoughtful Faith and the post is called Atheists in prison.

He starts by looking at Scottish prisons.

A higher percentage of Scottish inmates claim to have no religion in comparison to the general population. According to the Scottish Government’s Statistical Bulletin, Prison Statistics Scotland 2007-8, Table 8, 34.1% of the prison population has no religion. This compares with 19% of the general Scottish population answering that they had no religion, according to the ICM research faith survey conducted for the BBC in November 2005.

You can find the prison numbers on page 21.  Scotland has a total of 7,154 males and females in prison.  2,442 list none as their religion.  The faith survey he links uses an even smaller number of people, 1,019.  Of the 1,019 surveyed 227 listed no religion.  I am actually looking at the 2001 Census, which surveys everyone.  It gives a more accurate number of 27.55% listing as no religion.  Still the number of atheists in jail in Scotland is more than the population by 6.58%.  I am fairly sure that 6% would fall within standard deviation.  Also that just because one small subset in one area is equal does not mean that it is equal everywhere.

This is a bell curve:

When dealing with statistics one has to understand what a bell curve is and what it means.  Notice the majority of responses will fall into the middle range around the mean, which is usually simplified to average.  You will have outliers on both ends of the spectrum.  So having a small prison system that lies outside the mean is to be expected.

He also uses stats from England and Wales.

A higher percentage of English and Welsh inmates claim to have no religion in comparison to the general population. According to the March 2000 report, Religion in Prisons, 31.9% of inmates claimed to have “no religion”, of whom 0.2% who specifically answered that they were “atheists” and 0.1% who answered that they were “agnostic”. The national census, 15.5% of people in the general population answered that they had “no religion” and 7.3% gave no answer at all. Therefore between 15.5% and 22.8% of the general population were atheists, in comparison with  31.9% of inmates.

First off, if they don't claim to be an atheist you can't just relabel them as atheists.  So atheists consisted of 0.2% of the prison population.  By his own links, he shows that the census didn't even distinguish between atheists, agnostics and other non religious people.  So there is no way to compare the numbers here, without just making stuff up.

Finally he gets to America, which is what the original subject of atheists in prisons is about (apples, oranges, what's the difference).

The United States keeps no official statistics on religious beliefs of inmates. The claim that atheists were under-represented in prisions was seemingly started, by Rod Swift, who wrote it on his website, and publicized the claim through the internet and sceptical magazines. He claims that he received an email from an employee of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Denise Golumbaski. According to this email, 0.2% of those surveyed specifically answered they were “atheist” and 19.8% give no answer. This compares with 0.5% of the US population at the time who identified as atheist, and 4 to 6% (according to Gallop) who gave no answer.

Rod Swift was one of the two sources I originally quoted.  The other source I found was from the Skeptic files.  It verifies the findings of Rod Swift over a longer period of time than just a single year.

In the end, there are many factors that make up why people are in prison and claiming any one is a bit silly.  I actually agree with his last statement, well except for the first and last part.

Although all three surveys indicate that people of “no religion” are overrepresented in prison, there are many complex factors which could be linked to criminal behaviour – including levels of education, age, economic well being. It may well be, for example, that atheists tend to be younger and more active – and therefore more likely to display criminal behaviour for reasons which have little or nothing to do with the atheist worldview. Nevertheless the claim that atheists are under-represented in prison is contradicted by the data in England, Wales, the US and also in Scotland.

I leave you with Norway via Russell's Teapot:

Edit:  Apparently FreeThoughtPedia thinks they own the rights to Russell's Teapot just because they were one of the many hosting the image.  So I have grabbed it from another source.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Today I am leaving for a week long drive to Washington DC.  I am going with my Girlfriend and her daughter.  We are just taking our time, probably going to stop at a lot of places along the way.  I already plan to go to Kittyhawk, NC on the way out there.  I am very excited about going as I haven't been to DC since High School.  I will take lots of pictures and post them or links to them here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Free Will and the Problem of Evil Redux

I want to add to my last post.  I forgot to mention this, but I have two questions for any believer about free will.

Is there free will in Heaven?  Can someone sin in Heaven?

If you say yes to free will and no to sin, then why the need for Earth?  If free will can be had without sin, how can you blame the problem of evil on free will?   Obviously it will be circumnavigated in Heaven

If you say no to free will and no to sin, then why give us free will in the first place?  I have been told the reason for free will is because God doesn't want automatons, but if he takes free will away in Heaven that is just creating an eternity of automatons.

If you answer yes to free will and yes to sin, isn't there a chance that everyone will rebel and fall again?  That doesn't seem like a good plan to me.  It is like asking for everything to start over again.

If you answer no to free will and yes to sin, then well uhm so God will force people to sin?  WTF?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TF - Chapter 5 - The Problem of Evil

This could also be called 'How to Solve the Problem of Evil Via Red Herring'.

Of course the reason everything in the world is not perfect is because Satan appeared as a serpent (find Biblical quotes stating that it was Satan) and tricked Eve into eating a magical fruit that allowed her to tell the difference between good and evil.  Yes, someone who could not know that they were committing evil has damned us all.  That is Colson's premise and the premise of most Creationist Christians.  Colson does nothing to prove his premise but just states it and goes on.

Colson starts off describing the problem of evil and describing it well.

But why would God bring a world into existence that would be characterized by such evil and suffering?  What about "acts of God" like hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and famine?  Humanity is afflicted with cancer and a thousand other diseases.  Can all the evil of the world be attributed to humankind's failings?  Is God truly innocent?  He put Adam and Eve in a situation where He knew, if God is omniscient, or all-knowing, that they would fail.

The last bit is a bit of a red herring but could easily fall into the discussion. It is usually the excuse for evil, but it ignores natural disasters.  Epicurus is credited with the first asking of the problem but Sextus Empiricus wrote the oldest extant version of it.  It states:

  1. If a perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, a perfectly good god does not exist.

It has changed some since but the basics of it are still the same.  The way I like to hear it is, as stated by David Hume:
"Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"
So what is Colson's answer to the problem of evil?  Free will causes evil and God wants us to have free will.  He never describes what free will is and how that is compatible with an omniscient God ( you can't do anything without God already knowing what you are going to do, thus free will is more of an illusion, as your choices are known ahead of time and in a sense predetermined).  He also never explains how free will causes natural disasters.  Instead Colson tells the story of a pilot that ignores his instruments and kills almost everyone on board.  What this has to do with anything, I have no clue.  It is a nice Red Herring.

Next Colson claims that evil is only here because of sin.  So, yes because a rib-woman ate a fruit, we have to deal with natural disasters.  He backs up this assessment by telling a story of asking a bunch of prisoners, in his church service, what they thought the cause of the increase in prison population.  They, according to Colson, all answered sin.  So obviously it must be sin.  It couldn't possibly have anything to do with a war on drugs that targets victims and not the root causes of drugs?  Also if it is sin, then surely countries that are more religious will have less crime than non-religious ones?  Let's look at the stats.

 According to a Gallop poll in 2007-2008 the top ten most religious countries were:
  1. Egypt
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Sri Lanka
  4. Indonesia
  5. Congo
  6. Sierra Leone
  7. Malawi
  8. Senegal
  9. Djibouti
  10. Morocco
The least 10 were:
  1. Estonia
  2. Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Azerbaijan
  7. Hong Kong
  8. Japan
  9. France
  10. Mongolia
The top 10 countries with highest prison percentage:
  1. United States
  2. China
  3. Belarus
  4. Bermuda
  5. Kazakhstan
  6. The Virgin Islands
  7. The Cayman Islands
  8. Turkmenistan
  9. Belize
  10. Suriname
So what's it mean?  Well nothing as there seems to only be a slight correlation and correlation does not equal causation anyway.  There are many factors that go into prison populations, most of them are socio-economical.  Laying it all at the feet of sin is just ridiculous and ignores a vast number of issues.  Plus it doesn't answer the question of evil and natural disasters.  This is all just one giant red herring to make people forget about the problem.

Colson never answers the problem of evil in this chapter.  He goes on about Satan and sin and anything to throw off the fact that his God has the power to stop natural disasters that harm innocents but never does anything.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

TF - Chapter 5 - Allegory and Real True History

Chapter 5 - What Went Right, What Went Wrong

This chapter just starts out wrong.  It is so fractally wrong that I don't even know where to start.  I could spend posts on the first page alone.  I am just going to cut to the point.  Colson states that the Bible is a historical document that is completely accurate and infallible.  That about 6,000 years ago God gave two babies a gun and they shot things, so God blamed the babies.   Well not quite that but I will quote Good Omens on the wisdom of the placing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden:

"If you think about it *sensibly*, you come up with some very funny ideas.  Like:  why make people inquisitive, and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a neon finger flashing on and off saying 'THIS IS IT!'?"
My favorite line in the opening of this chapter is:

Their [Adam and Eve] story is rendered figuratively but orthodoxy teaches that these are historical events.
This sounds like something White Goodman would say:

Kate Veatch: That... is a really interesting painting.
White Goodman: Thank you. Yeah, that's me, taking the bull by the horns. It's how I handle business. It's a metaphor.
Kate Veatch: I get it.
White Goodman: But that actually happened, though.
Also, since when did orthodoxy teach this?  Orthodox meaning adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds. If Colson wants to make claims that the early church has always taught that the Adam and Eve story was true history, he needs to provide proof of this.  He does not.  Why he doesn't is simple.  There is no proof and some proof to the contrary.

Origen of Alexandria (185-254CE):

"For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally." (De Principiis IV, 16)

 "And with regard to the creation of the light upon the first day, and of the firmament upon the second, and of the gathering together of the waters that are under the heaven into their several reservoirs on the third (the earth thus causing to sprout forth those (fruits) which are under the control of nature alone), and of the (great) lights and stars upon the fourth, and of aquatic animals upon the fifth, and of land animals and man upon the sixth, we have treated to the best of our ability in our notes upon Genesis, as well as in the foregoing pages, when we found fault with those who, taking the words in their apparent signification, said that the time of six days was occupied in the creation of the world." (Contra Celsus 6.60)

 St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430CE):

"It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation." (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [AD 408])

"With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about these matters [about the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation." (ibid, 2:9)

St. Augustine also defended the idea of a young Earth.  St. Basil of Caesarea believed in a literal reading of Genesis.  In other words, there was no overriding consensus on whether the creation accounts were literal or allegory.  Today, Christians are still arguing over whether it is allegory or literal.  The difference is there is no evidence for it being literal and quite a lot of evidence supporting evolution, the age of the earth, the age of the universe and so on, thus making a literal translation false.  So one can stick with a literal translation like Colson does here, or one can join the 19th, 20th, and 21st century, instead of living in the 5th century.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Post 101

That last post was number 100 for me, so uhm yay me!

Anyway, more to come as I continue to dredge through the horror that is The Faith by Chuck Colson.

I think I will have to stop occasionally and write about other things, but we will see as I go.  4 Chapters down only 11 more to go.

TF - Chapter 4 part 5

The next section of the book is just patently false.  It is called "The Rejection of Truth Undermines Cultural Development".  Really?  Wow, just wow.  Apparently, according to Colson, Christianity has created "the greatest society in human history."  It was during the 18th century that the enlightenment destroyed the truth and culture and led to the Holocaust, somehow.  He doesn't connect how these things caused the holocaust but that they did in his imaginary world.  He is also trying to rewrite history saying that America is a Christian nation founded by Christians.  This is such bullshit and I have debunked it before, but right now I will just point out Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. (emphasis mine)

I know this won't stop the revisionists but you can't put it any better than that.

He starts off talking about how the Romans adopted Christianity, then jumps over a large expanse of human history, and starts mentioning the enlightenment.  Now why would Colson jump over the middle ages?  Maybe just maybe because Christianity ruled supreme during that time and culture was lost.  You know all that culture that the Greeks and Persians made before Christianity, without Colson's "Truth".  The middle ages ended when people started to look back at what the Greeks had learned before Christianity burned everything away (quite literally at times).  The Renaissance changed all this by going back to the Greek philosophers and growing the culture that had been stubbed and decayed by Christian "Truth".  The Age of Enlightenment followed the Renaissance in time and direction.  Colson wants people to think that the Enlightenment was the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages were the Enlightenment.  As much as Colson tries to separate the US from the Enlightenment, it just can't be done.  Go ask a historian about famous men of the Enlightenment, you will hear the names Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin. The US Constitution is an excellent example of an Enlightenment document.

This is also a very Euro-centric view of the world and fundamentally racist.  Middle Eastern countries, where Islam was flourishing, gave us Algebra (it is an Arabic word, Al-Jabr).  While the Far East was producing black powder and had created many cultural advances not found in Europe.  Colson is not directly comparing, but he doesn't have too, to African societies and American societies.  It is implied that they are just some savage races that needed white men to come teach them everything.  Mesoamericans couldn't come up with things like the number Zero on their own.  Africans couldn't create one of the longest standing civilizations ever in Egypt.

There is only one response to this kind of racism: Fuck you, Chuck Colson.

Now what factors really lead to the Holocaust?  Could it have possibly been antisemitism prevalent in Europe that stemmed from protestant Christianity taken to the extreme by the Nazis?  Well I would need evidence of that now wouldn't I?  How about from Martin Luther, the founder of protestantism, himself?  From his book entitled Von den Jüden und iren Lügen, which in English translates as On the Jews and Their Lies:

There is no other explanation for this than the one cited earlier from Moses — namely, that God has struck [the Jews] with 'madness and blindness and confusion of mind.' So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them. Rather we allow them to live freely in our midst despite all their murdering, cursing, blaspheming, lying, and defaming; we protect and shield their synagogues, houses, life, and property. In this way we make them lazy and secure and encourage them to fleece us boldly of our money and goods, as well as to mock and deride us, with a view to finally overcoming us, killing us all for such a great sin, and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope). Now tell me whether they do not have every reason to be the enemies of us accursed Goyim, to curse us and to strive for our final, complete, and eternal ruin! (emphasis mine)
 There were many factors that lead to the Holocaust and Christianity was one of those factors.

The next and last section is called "Rejecting Truth Leads to False Gods".  This whole section is based on the assumption that people have the need to worship something.  If it isn't Colson's brand of Christianity then they must be worshiping a false God.  Colson goes on to tell you what it is that you in the modern age worship:

The postmodern age has anointed secular tolerance as its god.  Tolerance once meant listening respectfully to all points of view, freely discussed in our common search for the truth.  But the creed for the new god of tolerance is that knowing truth is impossible.  So everyone is free to think and act as he likes, with one exception: those who have the audacity to believe that they know the truth, particularly if they think God has revealed it to them, are not tolerated.  The result is that those who crowned the new god of tolerance have become the absolute arbiters of culture.  The new god of tolerance becomes, in the guise of liberalism, an absolute tyrant.
 I could spend several posts on this paragraph alone.  It is made up of straw men, red herrings, false dichotomy, persecution complex, outright lies, projection and is one giant Gish gallop.

Breaking it down, I want to know where the temples are to this new god known as Tolerance or a statue or just some altar of some kind.  I do like the use of anointed, which anointed one in Hebrew is messiah, that is the first bit of projection.  Where has the meaning of tolerance changed?  Miriam-Webster dictionary? Tolerance.  Tolerance.  Can someone point me to where this has changed?  Because using the phrase "once meant" means it has changed.  Wait, when did truth have anything to do with tolerance?  So is it just maybe that Colson is changing the definition of a word so that he can attack that definition?  What is the definition of straw man, again?  I have already discussed his straw man of "knowing the truth is impossible", there would be no reason to do any kind of science or study if that were true.  There is a difference between doubt and reasonable doubt.  Well yes people are free to think and act as they like, but they are also held responsible for those actions.  In some cases it is the government in the form of laws and law enforcement that hold the person responsible and in other cases it is other people (people won't trust a known liar, just so you know Mr. Colson).  Oh yes, it is the Christians that are being persecuted and they are the only ones trying to keep real tolerance alive.  You know tolerance like Proposition 8, the Manhattan Declaration (Colson helped write this as I have mentioned many times before), trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, and various other "tolerant" actions.  Maybe Colson should go back and look at the actual definition of tolerance again.  Or is it just tolerance for those that believe the same as him in his world (which is pretty much the opposite of tolerance)?  Now point to me where secular laws are being made to undermine the rights of Christians.  Just one example, like those three I just gave off the top of my head.  Those three examples where Christians are taking and trying to take the rights of others away.  I also love the random attack against liberalism in the last sentence, remember Republicans equal good, Democrats equal evil, no reason ever given for this.

Moving along, and even ignoring where Colson compares the right to choose whether to have an abortion or not to molesting a child or not (yes he is a disgusting troll).  No I want to talk about this next statement:

The only thing the god of tolerance hates more than Christians making truth-claims is Christians proving them.  Beginning with a facility in Houston, Prison Fellowship now runs  residential programs, "spiritual boot camps," within prisons in locations scattered across the country. This is called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative - or IFI.  We have, since the beginning, contended that these demonstrate the truth of the Gospel in transforming lives.  In 2003, the first peer-reviewed academic studies validated our claims.  University of Pennsylvania researchers reported that IFI graduates had an 8 percent re-incarceration rate versus 20 percent in a comparable control group (and 67 percent nationally).  Prison officials were astounded.

It was the first empirical evidence that this faith-based approach to correction works - in other words, that the Gospel is true.  And that's when Barry Lynn of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State decided to sue.  To prove our truth-claims proved an outrage that tolerance could not abide.
First the court case.  Prison Fellowships was not sued because it was true.  It was sued because it was using government money.  In other words the state was endorsing a religion, which is unconstitutional. There is no one trying to stop IFI from offering their services, which is what would happen if they were trying to stop the IFI.  IFI lost that case and had to pay back 1.5 million in tax payer money and Colson even admits this in a end note.

Second, if the IFI numbers are correct (notice how quick he is to point out peer-reviewed when it fits his conclusion, but those same peer-reviews are wrong when they don't i.e. the theory of evolution) then there is something to the work.  Obviously Colson believes that the numbers prove his religion too.  Now if I can prove the numbers are actually statistical manipulation, then would that disprove Christianity to Colson.  I seriously doubt it (remember my post on falsifiability).

So looking at the study (you can read the whole thing here), notice on page 5 that it says:

Among the total number of IFI participants, 24.3% were incarcerated compared to 20.3% of the comparison group during the two-year post-release period.
 That says that recidivism for Colson's group was higher than the control, but Colson is claiming that only 8% of his group were re-incarcerated. Where does Colson get his 8% number from?  Easy, Colson defines who graduates from his program and who doesn't.  Then Colson only had the graduates compared to the control group.  Considering there are several factors for graduation from the program, including getting a stable job (a major factor in re-incarceration) and not getting arrested for 2 years (so if you get arrested you don't get included in Colson's numbers to see if his group gets arrested less).  Colson is stacking the deck.  He is conveniently leaving out bad data to suit his needs.  This is also called lying by omission.  Colson proves he is a liar again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TF - Chapter 4 part 4

"Why Truth Matters" is what Colson names this next section.

I agree with his first claim, that the truth is the heart of what they believe. Of course I would quantify that with what they claim to believe. The first claim he makes I really don't understand. Colson claims that postmodern Christianity is similar to Montanism. The reason Montanism was considered a heresy was because they believed that sins could not be forgiven. What this has to do with moral relativism, I have no clue.

According to Colson the only thing worse than being like a heresy such as Montanism is becoming more like the theological liberalism of the 19th century. Colson even condemns these theological liberals of claiming that the only way for someone to truly know Christ is too experience him for themselves, meaning an inward reflection. Colson never says why this is bad except that it is eroding conservative churches. I have a feeling why he lists this first as the problem. Colson is part of the Family. They are a group of Christians who are all politcally motivated. They are also all conservatives. This is all about Colson wanting to keep power for himself and his cronies. To do that he is demonizing, quite literally, any liberal idea. Colson provides no evidence, even Biblical evidence (partly because Jesus has some very liberal ideas and the early church were communists), to show why liberal thinking is bad. To me, this is just a blatant attempt at a power grab. Colson finishes this part by claiming liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all but another religion entirely. No True Scotsman Christian would ever be liberal!!!

His next claim is "Without Truth the Gospel would be Perverted".  Actually it would just mean the Gospel is false.  What Colson claims is that without some absolute truth given by God then we cannot even love our neighbors fully.  He references a quote by Katherine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., where she states the mission of the church is to love each other instead of bickering over doctrine.

But as we have seen, right doctrine leads to the love of neighbor Schori would like to see practiced.  And without first loving God, the first commandment she ignored, we can't love our neighbor with the consistency and stamina this world demands.  (Bishop Schori's answer reveals that the current fracturing of the Episcopal Church is not primarily over gays being ordained, but over the authority of Scripture.)

So much stupid, so little time.  First, just because in this one snippet of a quote Bishop Schori (because that is what she is whether you like it or not) did not mention loving God, does not mean that she does not love God enough.  I fully expect Colson to preface everything he talks about now with how we should love God.  Like in this article by Colson.  He quotes Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King said it beautifully: He whom you would change, you must first love.

Well obviously Martin Luther King was wrong because he is patently ignoring the first commandment (as stated by Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40).  Oh wait this comment supports Colson's ideologies so it is okay.

Second, just saying that someone can't love their neighbor "with the consistency and stamina this world demands" without God is demonstrably wrong.   Does anyone really believe that Christians are the only people on the planet that can love their neighbor consistently?  Amnesty International, Red Cross (especially its founder Clara Barton), Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and many many others would all like to have a word with Mr. Colson.  (This point is especially poignant in light of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti just the other day.)

Third, when did Colson ever prove "right doctrine leads to the love of neighbor"?  In fact when has he ever even stated what "right doctrine" was?  So far all he has done is attack straw men of his critics and tell stories of history made up in the mind of a non-historian.  Nothing in this book so far has even labeled what is and is not right doctrine.  I would think that was all a book titled The Faith: Given once, for all - Jude 3 would be concerned with, not avoiding the issue altogether.  Then again, I can give a pass for this as this is only Chapter 4 and page 65 of 225 (29% of the way through).

Fourth, I love Colson's condemnation of them and deflection of what he really is against.  Saying that they arguing against scripture not about gays.  This similar to calling an atheist a fool, then saying that you didn't say it you are only quoting scripture.  It always warm the cockles of my heart to see that great example Christians set in accordance with scripture (Titus 2:7-8).  Colson claims he is not condemning homosexuality here but that scripture does and Bishop Schori is wrong according to scripture.  Yes, Bishop Schori, who earned her Master of Divinity in 1994, knows less about scripture than Chuck Colson and his Juris Doctor law degree.*  For some reason I am going to take her word over Colson's word when it comes to scripture.

Colson goes on to write that this perverts the church. Claiming that therapy takes the place of truth, and that "we learn how to cope with our problems instead of curing them."  I don't think Colson knows what therapy means.  From

 1. the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process:    speech therapy.

2. a curative power or quality.
3.  psychotherapy.

4. any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

Therapy is a curative process, just because you don't "believe" in it doesn't make it so.  In fact, therapy is exactly what you, Chuck Colson, do in your Prison Fellowship program. Words have meanings.

Colson's next part is called "Rejection of truth Results in Biblical Illiteracy".  Here he claims that abandonment of the Truth (interpreted by him as the Bible) creates biblical illiteracy.  Well that is a no brainer considering his definition of truth equals the Bible.  In other words, what Colson said was abandonment of the Bible leads to biblical illiteracy.  He also claims, without any referenced sources, that most people think "God helps those who help themselves" is a biblical statement (it was written by Ben Franklin and Franklin was not a Christian).  Colson then makes the statement that only 1% of adult believers believe or accepted all 13 basic teachings from the Bible.  Again Colson does not tell us what those 13 teachings are or who decided them, nor does he reference where he got this 1% number.  So again we have Colson telling us the world is evil because he says it is evil and you need to listen to the Bible because he says so, but he doesn't have any real time to explain why.  So I guess I have to assume that why is coming at some point in this book.

The next section is much longer and entitled "Rejection of Truth Leads to Ethical Confusion".  It is longer because it is about gays.  According to Colson, denial of God's revelation, i.e. the Bible, destroys any attempt at dealing with ethical questions.  Basically if you don't believe the Bible is true, you are an unethical baby killer or something.  He never says why but just goes on saying that it is self evident when concerning gays.  Then Colson tells another one of his little anecdotes without names or places.  He claims a doctor, who was a Real True Christian (tm) (Colson spouts off the checklist for the doctor), asked him about homosexuals point out that it seems to be a natural instinct and desire.  Colson responds with nu-huh, God says it isn't natural.  That argument doesn't even look good typed out and framed by Colson.  So Colson goes into the Bible verses that prove his point (only if you consider the Bible a perfect authority on such things of course).  He reiterates the "look at the trees" argument for proof of God citing Romans 1.  Ending with the Romans 1:24-27, where he writes it out as:  "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity ... their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones ... [and] the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another."  Obviously, he is skipping some stuff, here is the full verses of Romans 1:18-31:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

So according to Paul of Tarsus (the author of the book of Romans), people became homosexuals because they stopped worshiping God and started worshiping false gods.  They also became "filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless."  Yeah that pretty much describes every gay person I have ever met, wait no it doesn't.  It is odd that Colson doesn't mention these other characteristics or the why God gives them over.  It is almost as if he is cherry picking or quote mining what he wants from the Bible.  Furthermore, why doesn't Colson advocate the killing of homosexuals?  It is in the Bible and the Bible is the Truth (with a capital tee).  When the death penalty for homosexuals was proposed in Uganda, Colson ran as far away from it as possible.  It is as if he thought the Bible was not right about killing homosexuals, even though it says to do it.  Colson was quoted as saying:

Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University Timothy George, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George said in a statement that the bill "is a source for grave concern."

"The harshness of these proposals is, we believe, inconsistent with a Christian spirit of love and mercy," they said. "Measures must be taken to encourage faithful marital love and to discourage sexual immorality of every type. It is critical, however, that these measures be shaped in a just and Christian manner, and not in a punitive spirit. Harshness and excess must be avoided."

Colson told CT that he spoke against the legislation because it addresses human rights, a universal, moral question. "When you’re talking about human rights and liberty, they’re inherent to the presentation of the gospel. I wouldn't see this as singling out anyone," he said. "If you put a person in prison for life for an act of homosexual behavior, that is horrendous, that is so harsh. It’s totally contrary to the Christian understanding of the compassion."

Colson said the statement was created after he helped draft the Manhattan Declaration, a call to reaffirm Christians stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious liberty. "Those of us who have a platform and those of us particularly who are talking about marriage at the moment have an obligation to speak out on it," he said. "There will be differences, and some people will call it meddling. But that’s okay. We'll get by."

If the death penalty were removed from the bill, Colson said he is not sure whether he would still oppose the law.
"I can’t say that I think civil prohibitions against homosexual behavior are morally wrong. I can’t say that because we had the anti-sodomy law for years in America for years. If I lived in those states, I probably would not have probably voted for them, but I could understand why people would legislate in this area, even for public health reasons," he said. "I think I would be opposed to legal sanctions against people who are private, consensual sexual behavior." -
 That is weird, when it comes to actually putting "the Truth" to the pavement, Colson backs as far away as he possibly can.  Like his morals have evolved from that of the Ancient Hebrews.  That's unpossible because that would mean Colson is a moral relativist and he clearly states that is anti-biblical.

Colson next talks about Rick Warren appearing on Larry King's show.  Rick apparently made the comment: "stand a naked man and a naked woman together and you can see how God has designed us."  Colson then says Larry was speechless.  Well yeah, this is one of the most monumentally ludicrous things to say.  In that case stand a naked woman and a male Orangutan together and you can see how the Orangutan has a penis that will fit the woman also, but that is an abomination.  Just as it is also ludicrous to claim that homosexuality isn't natural.  If it is not natural why is it observed in several different species naturally?  Or what about whiptail lizards, which are all female, they have sex with one another to stimulate ovulation and thus have fatherless children?

Colson ends this section with a red herring and a pseudo attempt to poison the well.  He talks about AIDS.  He doesn't say why AIDS is linked to anything about homosexuality, instead it is just implied that AIDS is a homosexual disease.  This is not true.  Colson is just an ass.  He points out that Catholics run the most AIDS charities in the US.  That is true, but they also use that charity to try and blackmail city councils.  So yes, AIDS charity is something that needs to be taken away from these theological bullies.  More people should give to secular AIDS charity groups like the Treatment Action Campaign.

Only one more post for the end of Chapter 4 and it will be to take on Colson's "successful" Prison Fellowship ministries.

*No, this is not an appeal to authority, because Schori has an actual degree in the subject being referenced.  It is similar to citing a biologist when discussing biology.