Posts Tagged 'LinzeeBinzee'

Obligatory New Year’s Post

Welcome to 2010!

It’s already January 2nd, so I’m a little late with my New Year’s post, but better late than never!

I’ve never been the type for making new year’s resolutions, and when I have I usually forget what they were by January 3rd, so I don’t know why I bother. But there’s been something I’ve been meaning to do, and I’ve been waffling on it for the past 3 or 4 months, so I decided to jump right in and to make it my new year’s resolution.

I’m quitting meat. I love it, but I believe it’s unethical to kill animals for my own enjoyment, so I’m not going to eat it anymore. When I was a Christian I had the whole mentality that God put animals on earth to serve humans, so I had no qualms about eating meat.

My goal in life now is to determine my ethics and values based on reason and evidence, so since I can no longer justify eating meat, it’s about time to stop.

If you have any yummy veg recipes, send them my way!

I don’t want this post to be all about me, so here are some New Year’s posts I enjoyed reading:

Steven Novella looks at some of the biggest issues in skepticism over the last decade.

Skeptic North reflects on 2009 and their first few months of skeptical blogging.

Phil Plait gives us the skinny on how we define a decade, and why 2010 really is the beginning of the next decade.

Amanda at Opinions of a Wolf talks about why New Year’s is her favourite holiday, and I have to agree!

Richard Wiseman arranges what summarized 2009 for men and women in the form of word clouds.

My Bible

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and now that I have a few days off work I finally have the chance. I decided that it might be interesting to look at the Bible I used growing up. Looking at the Bible now is a completely different experience. I used to somehow be able to skim over the nasty parts and pick out the nice stuff, but that’s no longer the case. My personal Bible is full of highlighted portions and the occasional note, so I think it will be fun to have a look at what I used to find worthy of highlighting.

Here is my Bible (you can see it’s very worn and used…it’s been through a lot with me!):

I added the scare quotes to “Good News” after I realized that it was all a bunch of bull.

This Bible is quite a bit different than the more popular translations, and although I had those two around my house I always preferred this one because it was very easy to read. I often have to refer back to the King James though because the differences in the narrative are sometimes quite significant.

Here’s what the forward of this Bible says this about its translation:

The Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) is a translation which seeks to state clearly and accurately the meaning of the original texts in words and forms that are widely accepted by people who use English as a means of communication. This translation does not follow the traditional vocabulary and style found in the historic English Bible versions. Instead it attempts to present the biblical content and message in a standard, everyday, natural English.

My name and the date I got my Bible written in the front cover. I was 9 years old.

I got the Bible in Sunday school when I was 9. I remember being so excited. It smelled awesome and it was my first grown-up book. I hated Sunday school (I always had to rush from art class to get there), but I loved my Bible. I guess they chose such an easy to read translation because they were giving it to young children.

One of the best parts of this Bible is the pictures. I’ll probably be posting a lot of them here. Although I think if my parents would have seen some of the images they wouldn’t have been too happy with me having access to them as a 9-year-old. They were very careful to shelter us from violence. We never had video games in my house, and my parents pre-watched movies and TV shows to make sure they didn’t have violence or sexuality. But this Bible is certainly packed full of images depicting very violent scenes…here are a few of them:

I only had to get to page 11 to see images of animals and people, including frightened children, being drowned by God.

I only had to get to page 11 to see scenes of animals and people, including frightened children, being drowned by God.

Abraham, fully prepared to stab his child.

I'm not even sure why they felt in necessary to draw this image. It's not depicting a story, but rather what could potentially happen to those that reject the Lord.

All of these images are taken from the first 150 pages of my Bible.

Since the people who put this Bible together obviously had no problem depicting violence, I was curious how they would translate some of the more sexually explicit stories into plain English.  An obvious one to look at is the story of Lot and his daughters in Sodom & Gemorrah. In the King James Version, the words for “have sex with” are “to know”,  so it’s pretty vague and easy to gloss over. But I was shocked to see that in this kid-reading-comprehension version this is how the story is told:

Genesis 19:4-8

Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them.

Lot went outside and closed the door behind him. He said to them, “Friends, I beg you, don’t do such a wicked thing! Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don’t do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.”

Wow, what a wonderful story to put into the hands of young children.

Most of the highlighting that I did was from the New Testament, but I found this highlighted in the Old:

2 Chronicles 4:11-14

The writing in blue says “prayer of worship.” I did this after listening to a series of tapes by Pastor Leon Fontaine of Springs Church in Winnipeg. The tapes were basically a workshop on how to pray. He went over different types of prayers and what the Bible says about them. What a bunch of useless nonsense…but I sure prayed a lot more after listening to those tapes. I also started directing my prayers through Jesus…I guess that was supposed to make them work better, who knows.

Before I get on with other sections that I highlighted, I want to post a few of the more entertaining images from this Bible.

Behemoth, from Job 40:15

I love this picture. This is how they decided to depict, in God’s own words, “the most amazing of all [His] creatures!” What a lame-looking monster. The translation notes say that some identify Behemoth with hippos, others with a legendary creature. Lame! C’mon, God, what about Gorillas or Lions or Cephalopods? There are plenty of way cooler creatures than some cow/hippo that eats grass.

I’m not sure why I found this picture so funny, but if God appeared to us like some giant guarding his flock, then I would find him a lot easier to believe in!

The Kiss of Christian Love

That doesn’t look like a Christian Side Hug to me!

Okay on to some of the highlighted sections…

Matthew 6:6 - But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

The notes in black pen on this page are from after I lost my faith, but perhaps one of the most important passages that led to my loss of faith is highlighted on this page. Matthew 6:6, which tells you not to pray so that people will see how faithful you are, but rather to pray in private so it’s only between you and God. This passage was important to me because I couldn’t stand it when people bragged about their Christianity. I used to pray silently when I was in public, and also every night before bed I would pray as if I was having a conversation with God. I would talk about my day, about the things I was thankful for, about the things I hoped he would forgive me for, and about the people who I wanted him to bless. It was a nice way to gather my thoughts at the end of every day.

But one fateful day at Bible study, the leader of the study decided that he was going to start having different people say the prayer at the end of the discussion. That first time he decided I ought to do it, so he asked me if I would say it. I said no, that I wasn’t comfortable…he kept encouraging me, but since Matthew 6:6 was so important to me I argued with him and said I really didn’t want to. But in the end he talked me into it. The prayer I said made me feel so uncomfortable. I tried to mimic the ritualistic way that others prayed out loud, but it felt so wrong to me. It was completely opposite of the way that I pray, and it was meaningless to me. After that I started going to the study less and less, until I stopped going altogether. I became disillusioned with the faith as I felt that this prayer was blatantly ignoring that passage. I think that that experience at Bible study was what emboldened me to start questioning my faith and to allow myself to lighten up, and have doubts.

Moving along…

When  looking through my Bible to write this post I had a laugh when I saw this highlighted:

Psalm 53

I can just picture my smug, Christian, teenage self highlighting this and thinking “see? Only idiots don’t believe in God!”

Blech I’m glad that self is long gone.

Here’s another passage that troubled me a lot growing up, and that made having faith harder for me even when it was at its strongest:

Mark 11: 24 Prayer of Faith - For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it and you will be given whatever you ask for.

This idea that all you needed to do was to have enough faith and you would get whatever you prayed for is awful, in that it puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of people who believe that this is true. This caused me a lot of stress because I felt that if I prayed for something and the opposite happened, then it was my fault and that made me feel guilty for something that I had no control over. It even made me afraid to pray for some things, because I didn’t want to be made to feel that my faith wasn’t strong enough.

This post has gotten really long, so I’m going to finish up with the first passage that I ever highlighted in my Bible. It was also the passage that puzzled me most, and probably the one that’s the most familiar to people who don’t read the Bible:

John 3:16

What John 3:16 said to me was that all I needed to do was believe, and I would have my spot in heaven. This confused me because I wondered why there were so many other rules in the Bible if belief is all you really need to be a good enough person to get into heaven. This passage also made me afraid to doubt. What if my faith waffled for a second, and I got hit by a bus? Would I be punished eternally for that? I first highlighted it because I thought that it was a beautiful message that showed how Jesus saved us, but the more I thought about it the more issues it brought up:

-What about people who were never told about Jesus?
-If someone is told about Jesus but doesn’t believe it and is the most charitable person in the world, do they not get to go to heaven?
-Could evil people like Hitler be in heaven if they believe in Jesus?
-Why should I bother being a good person?
-Why shouldn’t I just live how I want to now, and then start believing in Jesus in my old age?

John 3:16 is one of the many examples in the Bible that shows how many holes there are in the whole doctrine. It just doesn’t make sense, and if this  is inspired by a just, loving, omnipotent god, it certainly doesn’t show.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Bible. I’d love to see other former Christian atheists do similar posts about their Bibles, if you do, please post a link to your blog here, I’d  love to check it out!

Something a Little Personal & Douchebag Campus Preachers

Hello readers, if you stop by here regularly enough you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting lately. This is because of stresses that are going on in my life right now. I have had plenty of time to blog, but I’m having difficulty concentrating so I have a zillion unfinished drafts of posts.

I just want to let you know that I’m going to try harder to focus. I have drafts that I intend on finishing, comments that I will respond to, and a hoax countdown that I will resume. I promise!

So this post isn’t a complete waste, there was an amusing picture posted on Friendly Atheist today:

What an ass, I’m glad those men are making him feel uncomfortable. He should feel uncomfortable. If he thinks that love (or even simply lust) between two consenting adults should be eternally punished he should be ashamed of himself. Do preachers really think they’ll win converts by displaying their bigotry like this? Especially at Yale, which is where this picture was taken.

And serious, WTF, Democrats? Feminists? And these are lumped in with Thieves? What a random assortment of words. I wonder how he narrowed it down. I wonder why gangster rappers, but not gangsters? I wonder why potheads, but not drug dealers?

Thankfully there’s no such place as Hell, because I’m at least 8 of those things.

Moose Mania

So the other night my husband was checking his email and saw something he thought was really cool. He said “you have to see this!” and, us being a modern family, he forwarded it to me (sitting 10 feet away) on my laptop.

The contents of the email were these two pictures:

big moose 1

big moose 2

Along with this text:

Look at this Moose! By the length of his beard and the grey legs, I figure he must be over 10 years old. He looks to be well over 8 feet at the top of the shoulder hump,and with his head up the height to the top of his antler must be about 12 feet .This guy is king of the forest, no bear or pack of wolves would dare come after him when he has this rack……Considering that a dirt road can fit 1 1/2 cars across … this fellow is HUGE …THIS IS ONE BIG BOY!

Now I’ve never seen a male moose before, but my dad’s work has taken him to all sorts of small towns in Northern Canada where moose are common, and he’s told me about moose whose legs were as long as he is tall (and he’s a big guy), so I had no reason to be skeptical.

Every Monday, PZ Myers posts an animal picture for his “Monday Metazoan” on Pharyngula, and I thought this was a cool enough picture for that spot, so I forwarded it on to  him. I was happy on Monday morning to see that he had used it. But my happiness was short-lived when I saw the comments claiming that the picture was photoshopped!

The whole thread turned into a big debate over whether the picture was real, but I think Pharyngula commenter Steven Mading did a good job of summarizing:

Sigh: The obvious rebuttals to the arguments being used here claiming this is done with an image editor:

1 – Complaint: “But on other sites they’re claiming it’s from other locations – the location keeps changing! It’s an urban (or rural) legend and therefore the image is faked!” Obvious Rebuttal: Just because the claim of the location the photo was taken is incorrect doesn’t imply the image itself is edited. Editing the image and telling the truth about where it is from are two entirely different issues. I could take a very real photograph of Lake Mendota where I live, and simply put a caption on it saying “This is in Saudi Arabia – amazing that there’s a lake here!” and that still doesn’t mean I photoshopped the image.

2 – Complaint: “But you can’t see the moose’s shadow on the ground!” Obvious Rebuttal: It’s already standing in a shadow! The woods are already casting a shadow on the road, as you can plainly see. Putting an additional object into the umbra of another object doesn’t make the shadow any darker than it already was.

3 – Complaint: “The second image is clearly just a rotated copy of the first!” Obvious Rebuttal: No, it’s not clearly rotated since if it was then one picture would look like a flat cardboard cutout since it would be rotating a 2-D image.

4 – Complaint: “Moose don’t get that big!” Obvious Rebuttal; Yes. They Do. Check your encyclopedia.
Now, none of that means the image can’t have been photoshopped – just that the reasons being quoted here for making that conclusion are pretty weak.

The whole thing is ridiculous. Most likely the location was wrong or inaccurate, but why would somebody photoshop an image that could possibly be real?

I got over my disappointment in the skepticism over the image, and took amusement in the controversy, especially when I saw that this online newspaper had done a story on the moose photo:

Is there really a moose this big? Or is it a hoax?

This picture, purportedly taken by someone named Lindsay of a rather ginormous moose “near Elliot Lake, near Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” was posted this morning on ScienceBlogs.com, which describes itself as “the largest online community dedicated to science.”

At time of writing (9:44 a.m. on Monday) 27 readers had posted comments on the picture, some rather skeptical.

“PhotoShop is one of my favorite software programs,” writes Neil B. “I wonder why Lindsay didn’t include a silly squirrel with that moose. :-)”

I didn’t say that I took the picture, nor did PZ’s post, so somebody wasn’t reading too carefully!

As for the title of the article, writer David Helwig only needed to check Wikipedia to find out that moose can get that big. If it is a hoax, then I’ve been had, but it’s the lamest hoax ever!

There was an editor’s note added after I made a comment on the post at Pharyngula:

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly after SooToday.com posted this article, Lindsay, the purported photographer, posted this comment on ScienceBlogs.com: “I didn’t Photoshop it, but why would I need to when moose really get that big? I didn’t take the picture, it was passed to me in an e-mail. If I were there I would probably have been running as fast as I could in the opposite direction!)

I think we’re all just so jaded because of previous photoshop hoaxes that people are quick to call any surprising image a fake. For your amusement:

shark helicoptor

worlds largest dog hoax

moose harness hoax

It’s Been a Year Since I Lost My Religion

A year ago today my life began to change in a big way. On October 3, 2008 Bill Maher’s movie about religion, Religulous, was released in Canada. At the time I was a Christian, but I decided to see the movie because I was intrigued by the previews. I had never been exposed to such outright criticism of religion.

I didn’t know who Bill Maher was (honestly…people find this hard to believe), so I didn’t know what to expect. What I saw was a crass, in-your-face dump on faith. But rather than feeling offended I felt inspired by the closing scene of the movie. Maher said:

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking…keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and distruction.

The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.

I started to allow myself to doubt my beliefs, and to consider that the Bible was probably just a fairy tale.

A short time after I had seen the movie I was in a book store and noticed Christopher Hitchens’s book God is not Great, and decided to pick it up. By the time I finished reading the book I was an atheist, and wondering how I ever believed in a god in the first place!

I was now very fascinated with the topic of religion, and picked up Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Dawkins introduced me to the world of skepticism of all sorts of beliefs. I discovered that there was a whole online community of skeptics.

I filled up my iPod with podcasts that allow me to learn while I’m working:

The Atheist Experience
The Conspiracy Skeptic
Hunting Humbug 101
Point of Inquiry
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
The Skeptic Zone
Skeptoid

I also got into reading blogs that kept me up to date on the big stories in the atheist and skeptical communities:

Bad Astronomy
Friendly Atheist
NeurologicaBlog
Pharyngula
Skepchick

And I’ve been doing my best to get a fairly well-rounded understanding of science. Some of my favourite books:

The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
Death From the Skies! – Phil Plait
Quirkology – Richard Wiseman
Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh
The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins

I’m being opened up to a whole new, fascinating, mind-boggling, incredible, inconceivable, evidence-based, beautiful and awe-inspiring universe.

It has been quite a year! I’ve been taking in so much information that I needed to start this blog in order to articulate some of my thoughts, and to try to take part in what others in the skeptical community are doing. I’m learning and growing every day, and I can’t wait to see where I’m at in a year’s time.

If any of the people involved in the podcasts, blogs and books I mentioned above happen to stumble upon this blog entry, I just want to say thanks!

I think that the best thing that I’ve learned in the last year is the importance of science. Science is the most useful tool that we have, and I’m excited every time I see someone promoting it to the wider public. It seems to be on the increase and that’s so encouraging.

I’ve rambled on long enough, but I just felt the need to reflect on the past year. Thanks for reading!

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Parents

So two days ago I found out that my parents are splitting up, and it’s so shitty. I never thought that I’d be going through this as an adult.

On Tuesday I got home from work and I got a phone call from my dad saying that him and my mom wanted to have a family meeting with my siblings and I. He wouldn’t give details so we all got there as soon as we could.

My parents each read a letter to us that they had written about why they’re separating, and then it was just silence and tears for awhile. It was so awkward. What do you say?

Anyways I’m pretty emotionally drained right now and I don’t have the energy right now to go into things, but this is just an excuse for why I may not be around as much in the next little while.

Contact Page Added

FYI I have added a contact page to my blog (Here) so that you can send me any stories that you might think are of interest to me or this blog, or subscribe me to any newsletters that you think are relevant.

I said it there, but I’ll repeat it here: If you send me any emails containing threats of violence I will post your full name and contact information.

I’m Back!

I haven’t made any new posts in awhile, but I’m missing blogging so I’m back!

I suppose that the reason I stopped was that I was making mistakes in my reasoning and getting off track of what I wanted my blog to be about, and I was getting frustrated with myself. But that’s not a good reason to stop, so I’m going to make a commitment now to start blogging regularly again. Thank you to the people who have commented recently, it’s these comments that have encouraged me to start up again. I’ll try to respond to many of the recent comments.

I just want to comment on a few things before I get back to my regular blogging…

I found that a lot of my recent posts were just poking fun at strange beliefs, and that’s not what my goal was with this blog. I also want to express my excitement with regards to learning about science. I’m a very positive person, so I want to make an effort to blog about what I enjoy. I’ll still be pointing out pseudoscience and bad reasoning, but I want to balance that with talking about cool discoveries and interesting things I’m learning about.

In one instance I posted in the comments section of a post that I wanted someone to show me the evidence they had for the paranormal. They responded with several links to studies, and I didn’t give them much more than a cursory glance. I asked for the evidence (though I should have specified what I was looking for evidence for) and I should have given the responses to that request more of a look, but I was dismissive. I wasn’t worried that I would see evidence that would challenge my world view. I welcome a challenge to my world view. Rather, I had no interest in reading over what was given to me. From now on, when I ask for evidence, I’ll look at what’s given in response to that. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious one day, I’ll read over what was given to me in the comments of that post. I also want to add that my response to that situation was not representative of people in the skeptical movement. I’m a rookie at this, and I’m learning more and more each day.

Some people had said that I had swapped Jesus for James Randi, and this is not true. I admire Randi, sure, as I admire many other scientists and skeptics, but I do not worship him, I do not follow him blindly, and I do not believe that he has all of the answers. I just wanted to make that clear.

I think I’ve dealt with everything I wanted to talk about for now, but if anyone has any questions or comments about my hiatus please post them here :)

I’m happy to be back, now on with our regularly scheduled program…

A Day Full of Memories

Today I’ll be posting about something a little more personal…

It’s an anniversary of a couple of events, so today holds a lot of memories for me.

First, it’s my 2nd wedding anniversary. I have the most wonderful husband, and it has been an amazing two years. I really have to give him props for being so supportive of me because I’ve changed a lot over the past couple of years. When he married me I was a Christian. He was  not, but he allowed me to be who I was.

He never once tried to change me, and once I started to really question my beliefs he allowed me to dive right in. He satisfied my desire to have philosophical discussions over dinner, he didn’t complain when I spent hundreds of dollars on  books, he listens intently when I blab on and on about astronomy, and he let me hijack our summer vacation and turn it  into an educational trip to the Amazing Meeting in Vegas.

I’m really lucky to have him…happy anniversary sweetie, I love you!

Today also marks a year since my grandfather passed away. It really sucked to have him die on our first anniversary, but I know I’ll always think of him on this day. I remember one year after my then boyfriend now husband gave me an expensive gift my grampa told him that he had invested too much in me and now he would have to marry me…if that’s what made him propose then I’m grateful! haha…

My grampa was hard-working, family-oriented, and very brave. He was a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the 2nd World War, and in one of those amazing coincidences that fill life with wonder a Lancaster Bomber, the plane my grampa navigated while on duty, arrived here yesterday.

There are only two flight-worthy Lancasters left, and this one just  happened to fly in to spend one full day at the Aviation Museum on the anniversary of my grampa’s passing. My family had the chance to watch it fly in and to see it up close, and my mom and grandma got to step inside the plane and get a glimpse into that part of my grampa’s life.

Because I do not believe in an afterlife, I believe my grampa is gone, but the memories he leaves behind, the lessons he gave me, and the freedom he fought for won’t go away.

The Amazing Meeting 7 in Las Vegas

I haven’t posted much new lately, but I have a very good reason for that!

I’ve been in Las Vegas for the past week for The Amazing Meeting 7 (TAM 7), an annual conference on critical thinking.

It was a fantastic experience! I met some cool people, saw some of the skeptics I admire most speak, and also had a fun visit to Vegas.

I’ll be posting lots about what I learned at the meeting, so watch for that over the next couple of weeks!

TAM7


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