March 6, 2011

end of line

Posted in Undefined at 10:36 pm by Bram Janssen

As has become obvious, I have stopped updating this blog. The reason is that the kind of material I post here I now post at my FaceBook profile. That, and I’ve moved on to other things. I won’t delete the blog and I still answer comments!

Have a good one! http://www.facebook.com/bramjanssen1980

 

November 11, 2010

Beetles shaped as a bee

Posted in creationism, Curioso, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Zoology at 10:07 am by Bram Janssen


This is a bunch of beetle larva trying to look like a bee. Why? Because they want to attract a real bee, hitch a ride to the hyve so they can gorge themselves on all the riches that are present there.

Don’t believe me?

check for yourself: Parasite of the Day: November 9 – Meloe franciscanus.

The state of American education

Posted in Personal Ramblings, Sociology at 8:46 am by Bram Janssen

Revealed: The student howlers that show our dumbed down exams are still too much for some pupils | Mail Online.

OK, I realize that many of these are simply smart-ass answers, but still… The state of American education is actually in dire straits. (case in point: click)

There’s a cool documentairy coming up about this issue, “Waiting For Superman.”(From the director of: “An Inconvenient Truth.”)

Check their website

May 28, 2009

Fitting advertisement on American Thinker dot com

Posted in Conservatism, Curioso, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , , at 9:16 pm by Bram Janssen

Here’s just something for a quick giggle. Notice the extremely cleverly placed advertisement on the right side of this page on AmericanThinker.com

Fitting ad on americanthinker.com

Fitting ad on americanthinker.com

March 26, 2009

Forward: “Great” people of the Bible

Posted in atheism, christianity, Conservatism, creationism, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology, World Wide Web tagged , , , , , , at 9:10 pm by Bram Janssen

Here’s a fine article written by ‘Atheist under UR bed’ posted on AnAtheist on what is really so great about the most revered people in the Bible. As it turns out, when you actually do the research and read the passages, there’s not much “great” to report.

6) Jacob - Isaac’s son, Jacob, had two wives (Gen. 29:15-30Open Link in New Window). He cheated his brother Esau out of both his birthright and their father’s blessing (Gen. 25:29-34Open Link in New Window; Gen. 27Open Link in New Window). Amazingly, even though Jacob acquired these things quite dishonestly, God didn’t protest in the least. Indeed, He honored Jacob exactly as He should have honored Esau (Gen. 28:12-17Open Link in New Window). (Whoever said “Crime doesn’t pay” never read the Bible!)

Excellent post and of the sort I wish I’d written.

Click here.

March 10, 2009

American Thinker, Ready-made Propaganda For The Ditto Head Conservative

Posted in christianity, Conservatism, creationism, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology, World Wide Web tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:26 pm by Bram Janssen

incredibly bad conservative cartoon humor

Incredibly Bad Conservative Cartoon Humor

Barack Obama has been in office for one-and-a-half months now, but if you’d listen only to the right wing media you would think he has been terrorizing the U.S. since the days of Jimmy Carter. If you’d swallow every talking point that’s thrown out by the wingnuts, you’d soon feel oppressed and even crushed by Obama as if a Stalinist dictator’s iron clad boot has been laying down the law for years.

Here’s a random sample of headlines from a typical right-wing media website,

AmericanThinker.com:

  1. Let ‘Em Pay –  Worried about the “generational debt” that President Obama is in the process of placing upon this country’s youth?
  2. Heads Roll in Havana, Baffling ‘Cuba Experts’The very week Obama proposed cozying up to Castro by dropping some economic and travel sanctions, the biggest political shake-up in twenty years rattled Cuba’s regime.
  3. Welcome to Thunderdome – the president’s assault on capitalism is being waged with the organization and intensity of a counter-insurgency.
  4. US Public Schools Teaching Children Pro-Islamic Propaganda
  5. Obama’s Political Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome
  6. Obama and the Disunited States
  7. It’s only bad to want the president to fail if you are a RepublicanMany things go down the memory hole when Democrats take office – like how they treated a Republican president at the time he was in office.

The last headlines is great: it sort of conveys the weird idea that, while their own website is full with the most manipulative, negative, insulting, covertly racist trash,  still it somehow has the same weight as well thought-through criticism. I don’t mean to say that Bush was always treated well by left-wingers, but at least most criticism from the left was either serious in nature or blatant mockery- but rarely the propagandistic, manipulative half-truths and fear mongering spin like the stuff American Thinker is spouting.

Just for entertainment, let me go through these headlines one by one:

  1. Worried about the “generational debt” that President Obama is in the process of placing upon this country’s youth? What about the Iraq war then? How many billions of U.S. dollars has that baby cost up to this stage? Not to mention those thousands of American and (the somehow not that important number of) Iraqi lives  that have been lost already – which is believed to be in the 100,000. Just for your information, most of the latter were civilians, not “enemy combatants.”) Now, at least there was justification for the war in Afghanistan, but the Bush administration duped the U.S. and the world into an unnecessary war in Iraq. As for the right-wing talking point that Obama’s bail-out plan can never work: it worked for Sweden. It worked for several democracies that tried, actually, including the U.S. during WWII,  when even entire branches of industry were nationalized for the war effort. And by the way, how dare you try and manipulate your readers by hauling in the poor children of the future, when not a single conservative president in history has ever lowered the U.S. national debt? Instead, conservative presidents gave your country increased power of corporations over civilians, international wars,  and tax cuts for the rich. Conservative political leaders are without equals in short-term thinking and planning. How’s that for a legacy to brag about around your kids?
  2. The very week Obama proposed cozying up to Castro by dropping some economic and travel sanctions, the biggest political shake-up in twenty years rattled Cuba’s regime. Now, the author repeatedly calls the Cuban government a “Stalinist Regime.” Now, don’t get me wrong, Cuba has a nasty government, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Stalinist Russia. This article is just classic fear mongering. Remember where Gitmo is located? Exactly: Cuba. Think Stalin would have allowed that? Did you see Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ where he went ashore and took U.S. citizens in Cuban health clinics for treatment? Think Stalin would have allowed that? And lastly, what about the millions of tourists that visit Cuba every year? Tourists, for the most part from liberal, democratic nations. …Enough said. Even though Cuba could do with drastic national reforms, insinuating that Obama is loosening the death grip around the neck of a ferocious red lion is just one more propagandist right-wing talking point. In other words: it’s a deception.
  3. The president’s assault on capitalism is being waged with the organization and intensity of a counter-insurgency. This article focuses on defending a CEO of the Caterpillar corp. who says Obama ambushed him into rehiring staff. It turns out that the CEO has now got to lay off even more staff than before he was bailed out. But the article is not about all those workers who are now out of a job – no, it’s about how the poor CEO was trapped into saving his Caterpillar plant and dozens of jobs. Now, I will agree that Obama’s involvement in this Caterpillar business is something of a political move, but that bailout money Obama granted was real, and Caterpillar’s CEO took it and promised everyone he would rehire and continue to do business. Where has that money gone? To me, the fact that he is (after the fact, of course) blaming Obama for his company’s (our maybe, just maybe, his own) failures showcases the worst corporate thinking can get. We, the corporations, are not responsible for anything that goes wrong. We don’t even have to apologize for our failures; instead we can blame those that gave us rescue money when things went south for us. And American Thinker defends this drivel, sparing not a thought to the people who have just lost their jobs.
  4. US Public Schools Teaching Children Pro-Islamic Propaganda. Did you know the liberals are going tough on Christianity in schools while pussyfooting around Islam? After reading this article, you will. And all of this is caused by Islamic activist groups pressuring school boards. It’s all outrageous. One example: children might now be taught that “jihad” means something like ‘overcoming struggles’ without any mention of violence of terrorism. The fact that for the greatest majority of Muslims violence is abhorrent and that jihad is precisely that: a struggle within one’s own mind, is left by the wayside. In fact, I wonder if the author even knows this. If he does, he probably doesn’t care. But let’s get around to the real scandal here, that the author expressly does not mention. What about Christian creationist pressure groups trying to get Christianity, such as prayer (that is: Christian prayer,) back into schools? What about the Dover trial, where a conservative school board was tried and found guilty for forcefully injecting religion into science classes? Every now and then, Dover-like cases spring up in the most conservative parts of the U.S. In other words, why should a conservative media website like American Thinker complain about the more positive treatment of others instead of educating their own readership? By the way, the article is filled with references to people and institutions that probably require some closer investigation. “Textbook League” for example. “American Textbook Council” is another. I can’t be bothered to Google them, but I’ll bet you those are privately owned Public Relations firms or something or another. In other words, Christian pressure groups. A final word: religion has, in my opinion, nothing at all to do in schools in the first place, outside of theology and social studies. I’ll leave this piece with a quote from the article that says it all, I think, concerning American Thinker’s role of propagandistic outlet: So now, more than ever, it’s imperative we monitor school books, and stand up and scream at teachers, administrators, and superintendants should we discover any ideology beyond the sprinkling of liberal bias we reluctantly accept as inevitable.

    Just as with curricular green globalony, your best defense against scholastic Dhimmitude begins at home.

    Discuss what they’re being taught, and be prepared to teach them the truth. Teach them about Jesus, or Israel, or both. Once they’re old enough to understand, teach them about 9/11. Teach them about Sharia and jihad and oppressed women and terrorism and honor killings and barbaric execution methods. Teach them that only just and nurturing cultures deserve to be celebrated, not diversity itself.”

  5. Obama’s Political Munchhausen by Proxy Syndrome. Now it’s not only Obama’s plans that are questionable- it’s his sanity as well. Now, the leftist extremists called Bush dumb, greedy and a puppet for big corporate interests, but never mentally insane. Calling the mental health of opposing presidents in question is solely the domain of right-wingers. Here’s a nice quote from the article: FDR (Obama) appeared to be so caring and attentive, few suspected any wrongdoing. Just as in the case of the abusive parent, FDR (Obama) was jovial, cool, and unusually calm in the face of serious adversity.

    In both versions of MPS, blame is typically placed on a previous caregiver as part of the deception and to provide a scapegoat.  In the political version of MPS, instead of an incompetent nanny the New Dealers (and Obama) create populist villains, Hoover, Wall Street, Bankers, or G.W. Bush. The denial of reality is crucial. The use of this approach tells me they’re desperate for angles. Calling someone crazy is always a last defense and a telling sign that you’re being lied to. The entire message of the piece is about Obama purposefully driving the U.S. to the brink of bankruptcy. It doesn’t tell you why, apart from courteously hinting at similarities with MPS. This masks the real answer: they have no clue why Obama would do such a thing. In fact, Obama has zero interest in ruining the country, because the best way to get re-elected is by helping the country back up on its feet. Also, looking at his past, there is no reason to presume he would do such a thing. The opposite, in fact. But that’s just the thing, isn’t it? The most effective ways for the U.S. to recover from the financial crises would positively not help conservative interests – expansion of government, higher tax rates for the wealthy, reduction of corporate influence – and they just will not swallow it. Instead of toughening up and accepting that conservatism will be in rough waters for a while, they go as far as making ridiculous claims about the mental health of their opponents, as well as setting up a propaganda machine in an attempt to brainwash the gullible into believing it was never their fault and they bear no responsibility for anything bad that ever happened.
  6. Obama and the Disunited States.  This article desperately tries to tie Obama to communism in addition to anything that’s evil in a conservative worldview:Social democracy is Marxist political entrepreneurship.  Gay marriage, eco-terrorism, white guilt, Black Panthers, gays in the military, academic leftism, global warming, carbon offsets, marijuana, veganism, transsexuals, organics, anti-globalization protests, porn, anti-genetic modification, multiculturalism, abortion, animal rights, embryonic stem cell research, new age cults, tribal casinos, affirmative action, political correctness, the Akaka Bill, reparations, apologies — they all seem like a grab-bag of disconnected, even contradictory, issues and phenomena.  But they’re not.  These products of the 40-year rise of social democratic political entrepreneurship are the foundations of the ‘consciousness nations’ which now make up the Democrats’ voter base. Yes! All of the above is the result of the liberals! Now, I could go into a critical review of how he feebly tries to tie Obama and Hillary Clinton to communists and anarchists, but upon reading this paragraph I realized I probably should not even bother. Why argue with a man who thinks gay marriage, transsexuals, veganism, stem cell research, abortion, white guilt  (for crying out loud, as if they have nothing to apologize for!) and gays in the military are all antithetical to civilization? Why bother? I won’t.

You can’t leave comments on their website, nor can you contact any of the authors, except through a single, general mail address, which is easily censored. [Update: you can leave comments, as I've been pointed out. Something I managed to miss, somehow, probably because the comments don't automatically show at the bottom of articles. Anyway, I suggest you post comments, as much as you can, to educate them about the drivel they're disseminating.] American Thinker acts as if it’s promoting free thought, while in fact it’s nothing more than a hub for neo-conservative talking points and unfunny cartoons, so Orwellian it’s doubtful any of the contributors can even read.

December 15, 2008

Fox News Mocks Atheist Bus Campaign: “Need a hug? Go to church!”

Posted in atheism, christianity, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , , , , at 2:53 pm by Bram Janssen

Here’s a toe-twister for you. Once again, this makes me so happy we don’t have anyhing like Fox News here in The Netherlands.

Apparently, the Christmas spirit should extend only to fellow Christians:

December 8, 2008

Atheist Music 03: “Celtic Frost – Ain Elohim”

Posted in atheism, Atheist Music tagged , , , at 9:46 pm by Bram Janssen

Lay thy hand on the neck of thine enemies.
Devour their flesh with thy sword.
Bring down the slain from among thine adversaries.
They shall fall to rise no more.

Tetragrammaton.
Thy wrath inflame my passion.
Tetragrammaton.
Against all sinful flesh.

Tetragrammaton.
Thy wrath inflame my passion.
Tetragrammaton.
Against all sinful flesh.

Let thy wrath consume all of thine enemies.
Scourge them with flames of fire.
Lay thy feet on the pile of those slain by thy mysteries.
We shall be cleansed by their blood.

Tetragrammaton.
Thy wrath inflame my passion.
Tetragrammaton.
Against all sinful…
Tetragrammaton.
Thy wrath inflame my passion.
Tetragrammaton.
Against all sinful flesh.

Thus said the Lord: I am Sabaoth.
Feel my holy wrath.
I am glorified.
I cannot be denied.

I am he who is.
Punishment for wickedness.
I am the one you dread.
You are as good as dead.

Tetragrammaton.
Thy wrath inflame my passion.
Tetragrammaton.
Against all sinful flesh.

There is no God but the one that dies with me.
I have no life but the one I take with me to the grave.
We come into this world alone.
And we will die on our own.
I live.
I die.

Ain Elohim.

December 4, 2008

Proposition 8: The Musical

Posted in atheism, christianity, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics tagged , , , , , , at 1:04 pm by Bram Janssen

Usually, I hate musicals.

December 1, 2008

Should Europe Tremble In Fear For American Socialism?

Posted in conspiracy theory, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology, World Wide Web tagged , , , , , , at 11:55 pm by Bram Janssen

Suppose you’ve been living under the protective wings of a benevolent superpower for sixty years. And suppose you’ve used that big half century to take off on an endless vacation — spending all your tax money to buy votes for the socialist Ruling Class. It’s been one long, grand, drug-infested, sex-drenched, self-indulgent, tabloid party scene. Any time danger threatens you look to Washington for protection. The rest of the time you noisily abuse those Yankee imperialists, merely to boost your fragile ego.  Corruption has become pervasive. That’s Europe today.

Oh my!

I don’t know if I should even reply to this, or merely put it up here so my readership has something to guffaw at. Anyway, I will try and reply, but I am afraid any answer I can give will pale in the grand cluelessness that is that quote. Actually the entire article by this proclaimer of American supremacy James Lewis is hilarious beyond comprehension.

Protective wings of a benevolent superpower. Just ask peoples all over the world exactly how benevolent those wings are, especially South America and the Middle East. And the only reason Europe hasn’t been exploited by the U.S. like the Second- and Third World has been, is because the U.S. needs Europe. Needs its material resources, its technology and inventions. Not to mention the influence of the European Union on the international monetary playing field. Europeans have no illusions about what American benevolence means, they only need to look at countries like Cuba, Honduras, Panama and Haiti to learn all they need to.

Speaking of benevolence: how benevolent exactly is the U.S. when it comes to the Star Wars defense shield? Or the continuous insults to NATO and the United Nations and dangerous abandonment international treaties? Especially by James Lewis’ hero George Walker Bush. A further example from my home nation: The Bush White House has vowed to invade The Netherlands if and when an American citizen would be imprisoned in the international war tribunal in The Hague. No matter the level of war crimes this U.S. Citizen might have committed. Some benevolence. Some protection.

Spending all your tax money to buy votes for the socialist Ruling Class. I’m not sure what Lewis means by this… Could it be he equates Western European politics to politically corrupt regimes like many ex-Soviet Union states? If so, I do invite him to actually live here for a while. He’ll see some corruption, of course, but certainly no more than in his precious motherland. Less, actually.

Also: Ruling Class? (With capital spelling?) The U.S. actually has more of a “ruling class” than Europe does. In the U.S., one needs to indulge in extensive campaigning in order to get any high-ranking positions in the government. This is extremely costly, thus effectively excluding anyone from getting elected who doesn’t have the liquidity and wealthy connections his or her opponent does. While there is campaigning in Europe, Euro citizens in general look down on overly expensive, shallow elections. As any informed electorate ought to. But naturally, in Lewis’ world, the only people who are eligible to rule are those which money and power. Just let the little people rot.

It’s been one long, grand, drug-infested, sex-drenched, self-indulgent, tabloid party scene. Must I remind Lewis and anyone who follows his sentiments that the U.S. is soft- and hard drugs nation number one? The Netherlands, a country with a reputation for being drugs-friendly, has far less drug addicts per capita than the U.S. does. In fact, the hardest drug Dutch junks use is crack, while the American drug-of-choice is Meth- a far more dangerous substance. The Netherlands is actually a good example of how being soft on drugs helps the war on destructive and addictive substances.

Sex-drenched then? Well, what can I say? I wonder if Lewis knows that the American porn industry is a bigger industry than Hollywood is? Does he also know that beauty pageants are typically American invention? That it is American society which promotes looking your sexiest more than any other nation in the world? What about music acts like Britney Spears and The Chippendales? The U.S. is viewed globally as the most immoral nation in the world. Where does he think this sentiment comes from?

Now seriously, how Lewis fails to notice his own American self-indulgence but instead accuses the E.U. of self-centeredness is a real mystery to  me. I do not think I am exaggerating much when I claim that pretty much any mainstream multimedia product that America exports simply screams Americanism. Hollywood and pop music in particular, of course, but things run deeper than that. Only 20% of Americans have passports. In fact, most Americans couldn’t point out Europe on a map. Americans are literally obsessed with their own history, especially with the founding fathers and past presidents. The American flag is everywhere. The same goes for American car makes. Anything foreign is to most Americans weird and/or dangerous.

Speaking Of danger: any time danger threatens you look to Washington for protection. Well, not that there has been much danger the past sixty years, apart from the Cold War which wouldn’t have existed or would have been far less depressing had the U.S. not been there. Is this a correct moment to point out that America’s War On Terror has increased acts of terror incredibly world-wide? That it is this “war” that is alienating and polarizing Muslims worldwide, including those that live in our very nations? How is this increasing threat of Islamic terror protecting us and did Europe ask for it? In fact, Europe did not ask for it, thank you very much. Virtually the whole world asked the U.S. to use non-aggressive tactics against terror, as a matter of fact. The U.S. responded to her allies with threats and insults. So much for benevolence and protection.

Europe today is, for a fact, intensely disgusted with American imperialism. Fed up with being bullied and patronized. This is why when Obama promised chance, Europe stirred and claimed support for him. Personally, I don’t think Obama will be all that, but even my worst projections will still be miles ahead of the Reaganisms and the Bush Doctrines that have been imposed on the free world for decades now.

The only thing Europe trembles in fear of, with respect to America, is an assassination of Obama by someone who listens too much to fear-mongering bigots like James Lewis and his ilk.


November 28, 2008

Dinesh D’Souza’s nonsensical remarks on “the absentee God”

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, evolution, intelligent design, Sociology tagged , , , , , , , at 1:31 pm by Bram Janssen

So I’ve been reading this blog by someone about his journey from Young Earth Creationism to Evolutionism. This means he still believes God has a hand in evolution, but I can’t blame him, reading about his personal history with religion. Go read it, he has a knack for writing.

Anyway, I have a couple of things to say about his post, where he defends remarks by Dinesh D’Souza as being “speculative, but still good.” I’ll reproduce them here. Dinesh D’Souza :

Here is the thrust of Hitchens’ point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this? . . . The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever been born is approximately 105 billion. Of this number, about 2 percent were born in the 100,000 years before Christ came to earth. “So in a sense,” [Erik] Kreps [of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research] notes, “God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. If He’d come earlier in human history, how reliable would the records of his relationship with man be? But He showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world’s population, so even though 98 percent of humanity’s timeline had passed, only 2 percent of humanity had previously been born, so 98 percent of us have walked the earth since the Redemption.”

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything “good” about this quote. Two percent of 105 billion might not sound like much, but it’s still hundreds of millions of people. Didn’t these people have souls? Also, the human race nearly went extinct at one point, where was God then?

I mean, Hitchins wasn’t playing a numbers game at all- he commented on nearly 100,000 years of people dying of things like predation, petty deceases or injuries, childbirth and a real tough life in general. All of which was spent in a complete ignorance of the true and only God, worshiping false idols instead. Hitchins made a very human point, which D’Souza turned into a mere numbers game. This is very peculiar to me, since it’s usually D’Souza who likes to wave the religious banner of humanity and morality in his discussions.

One more point: He showed up just in time? This argument is so skewed it’s laughable. By the time He ‘showed up’ there were numerous civilizations, religions and cults around with centuries of traditions. Seeing how humans love to cling to traditions and world views, God should have known this was asking for conflict.

Also, the population boom came and is still going on, and still most of the people born in this prosperous time either never heard of God or don’t worship Him. Someone in God’s PR-Campaign messed up, apparently. A campaign that He never needed to organise if He had just revealed Himself in the earliest times when there were mere thousands of people on Earth- and had continued to do miracles to this very day, especially to atheists like Hitchins or me.

How to equate gays with the KKK, Nazi Germany and intolerance in one short sentence

Posted in christianity, conspiracy theory, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , , , at 12:21 pm by Bram Janssen

From Conservapedia‘s news blurb column:

Further evidence that the homosexual agenda threatens a free society is demonstrated by the continued assault by homosexual bigots against many churches, including “Forty to 50 signs supporting Proposition 8 were found arranged in the form of a swastika on the front lawn of a Roman Catholic church.”[21]

1: Homosexual agenda?

I wasn’t aware that homosexuals all over the country gathered in a sinister secret society (or rather like the Ku Klux Klan seeing as how they love the swastika). I thought homosexuals were just human beings with a sexual preference for the same sex- period. Which brings me to the next point, namely

2: Threatens a free society

Oh yes, homosexuals want nothing more than the destruction of free society! A dark dystopia where people don’t have the liberty to love and live with whom they might see fit, where harmless personal values are suppressed by a minority in society based on what religious doctrine decrees.

Which brings me to the next issue, namely

3: The continued assault by homosexual bigots against many churches

Because it’s an outrage to protest against a church that decrees you will burn in hell for all eternity by default – whatever good or evil you might actually do in your lifetime. That your homosexuality is a mental disease. That you are an evil perversion of the human race. If you protest against this pillar of wisdom and justice… sure you’re a filthy, mean, low-brow bigot. And lastly:

4: Forty to 50 signs

What do you mean, forty to fifty? Nobody cared to count them? Maybe there were sixty-nine or 666! Oh my God the evidence is mounting! We are so good at preserving evidence [insert satisfied sigh]

Furthermore, maybe (just maybe) the swastika was meant to signify the church’s nazistic tendecies. Not that I agree with putting swastikas in people’s backyards, but you gotta get creative with reality to make this out to be a nazistic, homosexual plot against the free world. Actually, homosexuals were killed en masse by the Nazis, with full support from the Church, so these guerrilla protesters actually have a valid point of protest there. Oh well…

Ahhh Conservapedia, always good for a hearty laugh. Too bad so many people actually believe that crap.

November 25, 2008

Thomson Lectures On The Science Of Religion

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:54 pm by Bram Janssen

J. Andersen Thomson gives a good scientific and psychological lecture on the human, biological side of religion. It puts religion into a testable, scientific perspective, which is a nice relief from the usual sociological and historical arguments. It compares religion with audiovisual tricks of the brain, group mind as well as human cognition. Recommended material.

Found at richarddawkins.net

November 20, 2008

How To Start Life Without Miracles Or Huge Improbabilities

Posted in creationism, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Personal Ramblings tagged , , , , , , , at 12:04 pm by Bram Janssen

I’ve been wondering about the origin of life on Earth for a while now. We all know that there are many theories, including some that are pretty far-fetched if you ask me (things like panspermia or creationism.)

Early Earth

Early Earth

One of the things that always bothered me about creationist arguments is that they always need to point out how improbable life is. They like to say things like: “you can put all the ingredients for a living cell in a jar, but no matter how long you shake the jar you will never get a living cell.” (An example from a popular youtube video) Well, that would indeed be pretty improbable! But the first lifeforms weren’t single-celled organisms. They couldn’t have been, because even the most basic simple-celled organisms found on Earth today are still amazingly complex, as creationists correctly point out. In fact, I’d like to take this one step further and say that even the simplest DNA-strand is still too complex to have come about by chance- let alone the amazingly intricate mechanisms that surround the strand.

So what’s my idea on how life started? Since I am a materialist, in my opinion there can’t have been any form of “miracle” like a deity or aliens involved. I don’t think we need that to explain the origin of life. I don’t  think the first form of life came about in an event of staggering improbability (though calling it “commonplace” would be an exaggeration too, I think.)

All that was needed were the correct ingredients in the right place and time, plus an external factor inserting a healthy dose of energy to get things kick started.

… Ok, I think this needs some further explanation, doesn’t it?

Here’s how I think it might have went:

Phase 1: Grandma’s Organic Soup.

pea soup

Dutch Pea Soup

It’s one of the oldest takes on the origin of life, and I think it still holds merit. Simple and complex organic molecules are found everywhere mankind looks, whether it’s on Earth (duh!), deep space or planets in our solar system- especially planets (and moons) that are geologically and/or atmospherically active. Titan, one of the many moons of Saturn, got big headlines in 2005 when the Huygens probe landed on it and detected enormous quantities of organic molecules. It was amazing that so far out from the Sun there could be a heavenly body with an active atmosphere, let alone contain such a rich amount of organic chemicals as well.

Now to clarify: ‘organic’ in this context doesn’t mean strands of DNA or RNA, or haemoglobin, or insulin. It means many kinds of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, including forms of sugars, alcohol and fats. These are still pretty complex, however, and it was somewhat of a surprise to scientists at first to find them outside of the Earth’s biosphere, let alone in so many different places in such quantities.

In this context, it is only logical for them to have been on the early Earth too. If they are found everywhere else, it only makes sense they were here too. However, the main difference between Earth and the rest of the solar system was that here there was water in liquid form, which is perfect for dissolving all manner of substances, including organic ones- and what would not dissolve would still be moving around with the flow of water. Downpour, rivers and glaciers would supply a steady dose of organic substances to the oceans which were formerly stuck on dry land or in the atmosphere, et voilà, one big bowl of organic soup pour Vous.

Phase 2: Grandma’s Pressure Cooker

Sargasso Sea

Sargasso Sea

The  next step was to get the soup stirred up so that the ingredients for future life could interact and end up concentrated at what I will conveniently call ‘hotspots.’  Ocean flows are essential for shaping these ‘hotspots.’ A modern parable for this might be the Sargasso Sea, which is a patch of ocean in the middle of the Atlantic with almost no flow of water but which houses a huge concentration of biomass. Columbus encountered the Sargasso which slowed down his journey so much as to almost inspire mutiny. I am not saying life came to be in a Sargasso Sea-like environment per se, rather I am saying that you can have concentrations of biomatter in a larger body of water, including on the ocean floor, which I think is a better environment for the start of life than the ocean’s surface.

The next ingredient would be applying a high concentration of energy to the ‘soup.’ The popular image here is a jolt of lightning, however I think this can be safely dismissed. There are many more reasonable ways to apply energy. One of them might be a big asteroid impact. This is somewhat more reasonable, but it’s still quite improbable. Remember that I don’t like too many “improbabilities” in the theory of the origin of life.

Likelier sources of energy might actually have been pressure, whether on the bottom of the deep sea, in the fissures underneath an underwater volcano or perhaps deep in the Earth’s crust close to the upper reaches of the Earth’s molten magma mantle. An added advantage is that with pressure usually comes heat, which keeps the ‘soup’ warm and the substances dissolved in it reacting. This is where I have to claim some ignorance though, and I’d like people to correct me if I am talking jibberish, but it seems to me that simply applying heat to a container of biological molecules (like pea soup actually, or when cooking whatever), these molecules will immediately start reacting and forming new bonds. Now, normally, when you’re cooking the amount of heat you apply is very great, but I am proposing a situation where the heat is well below the boiling point of water, but still fairly warm.

Actually, I think I need to digress a little more at this point and explain why I think energy from pressure is important in the formation of life. The first lifeform would have been a reasonably complex molecule formed from a combining of less complicated molecules. The manner in which combining of elements and molecules usually happens in the natural world, apart from applying heat, is by applying pressure. A good parable of this might be the ways in which helium and nitrogen –  simple molecules – are forced to fuse into more complex molecules in the depths underneath the surfaces of stars. Not only is there a lot of pressure from the sheer weight of a star’s mantles, there is also immense heat from the chain reaction of nuclear fusion that occurs in the interior of stars. Furthermore, when a star goes into supernova, the pressure and heat from the explosion are so immense even more complex molecules form. This accounts for a lot of elements on the periodic table, even though the really heavy ones cannot be explained by supernovae. Eek, geeky tangent alert!

The point I try to make is that in order to fuse simpler molecules into complexer ones, it would be a safe bet to argue that pressure and heat had some role to play in it. That’s why I propose water-filled fissures in the deep ocean floor, slowly filling up with organic substances trickling down from the surface, close to the heat of the inner Earth, might be a good candidate for generating the first life form.

Anyway, whether it was a sudden event or a long, gradual process (more likely in my opinion), something caused the brine of organic and inorganic molecules to collapse in on itself, forcing them to fuse into increasingly more complex combinations. And out of all the many trillions of molecules that interacted and fused, all it took was one of them to behave like a self-replicator.

Phase 3: A bug in grandma’s soup

Now, if you are skeptical, you should think at this point: “ok… now that last sentence was kind of off-hand, but I think you just described a chance event to forget all other chance events.”

Well, you would be almost right, but I think we are are playing a game of large numbers here. Remember that ‘grandma’s pressure cooker’ contained an insanely huge amount of molecules, and that it had the luxury of ‘cooking’ for possibly many hundreds of millions of years on end without worrying about running out of water or ingredients. I think if you look at the problem at that scale, chances for forming a self-replicating molecule increase dramatically.

And this is what I think the first life-form looked like: compared to DNA or even RNA, this molecule was extremely simple and small. All it did was stick to molecules it happened to bounce into, until it got too big for its own good, lost structural integrity, and broke into two or more pieces. Said pieces then would combine again with suitable molecules they would chance into, at which point they broke into pieces again, etc. This must have been an extremely sloppy process in my opinion, and I’d say that there must have been many kinds of molecules suitable for attraction available to these first forms of life, including ones that would pollute and damage their ability to replicate after a certain number of these divisions.Since I am talking about a place where the first lifeform might have been formed, and that this might have been a gradual process, I think it’s fair to assume that their habitat contained all manner of molecules, from the simplest naturally occurring, all the way through the intermediary stages to the first self-replicator. A veritable jungle of different kinds of organic molecules.

I don’t think it’s wrong to assume that in their sloppy ways, maybe more than 99% – a number I have no way of verifying, of course, but please play along and theorize with me – of these self-replicators would have died off within several generations. But even after, say, 50 successful replications, there would still have been an impressive amount of self-replicators in the ‘soup.’ So much, I’d argue, that even that 1% of survivors would constitute a very large numbers of creatures. Remember that we’re still playing a game of large numbers.

Phase 4: the pot boils over!

This would have been the start of natural selection and evolution. As simple as the self-replicators would have been compared to today’s lifeforms, due to their untidy game of attracting and dividing, the first differences in form would have came to be almost immediately- which as said for the majority of them meant certain death, but a few of them might have chanced upon patches in the ‘soup’ with particularly suitable molecules to attract.

The next step might have been direct competition amongst themselves, as some of the lesser polluted self-replicators might have had a better chance at getting at ‘food’ than the more polluted ones. Then again, a more polluted self-replicator might have had the luck of being polluted in such a way that it could actually grow larger than the competition before breaking up into pieces, which meant it could ‘eat’ more molecules than the competition, thereby effectively out competing them.

Again, it’s all relative to the game of large numbers we’re playing. At this stage in the history of life, there would be chance and numbers, and that only. Since we’re talking molecules, there was still no conscious behavior to them. The only thing to even identify them as ‘life’ was their crude form of heredity. They had no senses of any kind, no means of moving around other than external forces (water flow, for example) and no ways of communicating. Yet already they would have started competing amongst themselves for resources, something which would have intensified when many millions of years later, the soup began to run thinner.

By this time, chance and big numbers might have transformed the lucky few (compared to the 99% of individuals that ever lived and that never made it) into something comparable to simple RNA today. They would still be naked molecules, but they would have been shaped by the slow process of evolution into ever more complex little ‘eating’ and dividing machines. They would have become less and less sloppy in their ‘diet,’ becoming increasingly efficient in choosing what was good for their long-term survival and what was detriment.

Perhaps they began to form crude colonies, thereby shutting out competition from outside, but which further concentrated competition from within: now they had to compete against close cousins for resources. The arms race had started in earnest, which would result in an ever increasing complexity in form.

In this way, after an incredible long time and a number of generations for which there is no word in the human language, the first true DNA strands might have formed, and then the first protective fatty outer layers, then the first membranes… all the way to the first true, yet primitive cells. And all this through the ruthless, unthinking force of the law of large numbers combined with a steady supply of nutrients from their habitat.

A long story, with maybe many logical or factual errors. Anyway, this is my idea of how life might have started. I really encourage some feedback on this, so if you spotted mistakes or patches of general ignorance, please point them out to me. I hope I managed to convince you that there’s no need to imagine either huge improbabilities or miracles to theorize about the generation of life here on Earth.

That, or you will never look at your soup the same way ever again.

November 13, 2008

Atheist Music 02: “Greydon Square – Molotov”

Posted in atheism, Sociology tagged , , , at 3:26 pm by Bram Janssen

The product of God & Allah is Osama Bin Laden
George Bush, Saddam Hussein just bottling problems
Stickin’ dirty rags in the top and lightin’ the bottom
Holdin it wit a smile to throw it into the crowd

Kaplow, its bigger than George Bush and Osama
Or if we ready for a black president named Obama
I’m tryin to fight my own indoctrination
They think they can stop an Atheist by sayin’ he’s prayin to Satan

Oh yeah, I fought the holy war in Iraq
So get ya facts straight before you stick your sword in my back
God Bless the troops, that’s kinda odd
America only blesses you as a troop if you believe in their Gods

So where does that leave me?
They tell me to leave G
But at the same time they tell me America needs me
See I can deal with people pointing fingers laughin’ at me
But if it’s one nation under God then I’ll happily leave

Try to draft me then, call me a draft dodger
And try and catch me I’ll be the one laughin’ then
Why would I accept a religion that my slave owners practiced?
At the same time keeping the gauge under the mattress

People comin’ in masses
Reverends & chaplains
Buddhists, Hindus, & Catholics
Even heaven’s assassins
Secret organizations that convene at the Vatican
To discuss how to either convert or beat up the pacifists

I’m the Malcolm X of Atheism
By any means necessary take it to em’
This how I’ll break it to em’

Your God is logically impossible
And can’t even survive the most basic logical obstacles
God of the impossible huh

It’d be impossible for him to be the God of impossible stupid
You really need to look at the facts,
Look at holes in your religion, look at the cracks
Infinite Regression prevents a God from even existing

Let alone an intelligent one this is just the beginning
I’m Greydon Square and no longer am playin fair
I’m Kirk Cameron’s worst nightmare, Cheers

April 10, 2008

Remembering The Mourre-Berna Proclamation

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology, World History at 11:25 am by Bram Janssen

Verily, verily, let’s not forget the brave souls who rose against the Catholic Church in risk of their precious lives.

Actually, and in all honesty, I don’t believe this is the most proper or the smartest way to go about spreading the word of anti-religion, but you got to admire this man’s balls. Brass balls indeed. During the high Easter mass in the Notre-Dame and dressed in the garb of a Dominican monk, he waited for an opportunity to climb the rostrum and declare the following message to the hundreds gathered and many thousands more at home who watched it on television or listened to it on the radio:

Today, Easter day of the Holy Year here, under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris I accuse the universal Catholic Church of the lethal diversion of our living strength toward an empty heaven I accuse the Catholic Church of swindling I accuse the Catholic Church of infecting the world with its funereal morality of being the running sore on the decomposed body of the West. Verily I say unto you: God is dead We vomit the agonizing insipidity of your prayers for your prayers have been the greasy smoke over the battlefields of our Europe. Go forth then into the tragic and exalting desert of a world where God is dead and till this earth anew with your bare hands with your PROUD hands with your unpraying hands. Today Easter day of the Holy Year Here under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris we proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.

April 9th this was 58 years ago. The man had to be rescued by the police from an ensuing angry mob that would probably have ripped him to shreds if they got their hands on him. More on that whole affair here.

February 8, 2008

Atheist Music 01: “Slayer – Disciple”

Posted in atheism, Atheist Music, creationism at 6:11 pm by Bram Janssen

Slayer

Drones since the dawn of time
Compelled to live your sheltered lives
Not once has anyone ever seen
Such a rise of pure hypocracy
I’ll instigate I’ll free your mind
I’ll show you what I’ve known all this time

God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All
You know it’s true God hates this place
You know it’s true he hates this race

Homicide-Suicide
Hate heals, you should try it sometime
Strive for Peace with acts of war
The beauty of death we all adore
I have no faith distracting me
I know why your prayers will never be answered

God Hates Us All; God Hates Us All
He Fuckin’ hates me

Pessimist, Terrorist targeting the next mark
Global chaos feeding on hysteria
Cut throat, slit your wrist, shoot you in the back fair game
Drug abuse, self abuse searching for the next high
Sounds a lot like hell is spreading all the time
I’m waiting for the day the whole world fucking dies

I never said I wanted to be God’s disciple
I’ll never be the one to blindly follow

Man made virus infecting the world
Self-destruct human time bomb
What if there is no God would you think the fuckin’ same
Wasting your life in a leap of blind faith
Wake the fuck up can’t ignore what I say
I got my own philosophy

I hate everyone equally
You can’t tear that out of me
No segregation -separation
Just me in my world of enemies

I never said I wanted to be God’s disciple
I’ll never be the one to blindly follow
I’ll never be the one to bear the cross-disciple

I reject this fuckin’ race
I despise this fuckin’ place

January 30, 2008

Arguments Against God #01: There Are Transitional Fossils

Posted in Archaeology, atheism, christianity, creationism, darwinism, evolution, Paleontology at 1:01 pm by Bram Janssen

“There are no transitional fossils”

“Darwin himself admitted there were no transitional fossils”

This is one of the main arguments an evolutionist gets from non-evolutionists. It’s always something like this: “If land animals evolved from fish, then where are the transitional forms- the fish with feet? Or where are the half-human apes?”

Of course Darwin was one of the first biological evolutionists living at a time when the field was yet newborn and he made mistakes because of that. But Darwin did not know about punctuated equilibrium. This was only “discovered” and developed in the 1970s:

“Evolution is characterized by geologically long periods of stability during which little speciation occurs, punctuated by short periods of rapid change, species undergoing most of their morphological changes shortly after breaking from their parent species.”

This was a major advance in evolutionary science that was spun by its opponents as being proof Darwinists were clinging to straws. Darwin himself thought of speciation as pretty much of a gradual process – like a child growing into an adult is gradual – but what 150 years of fossil-digging has shown us is that speciation is more like driving a car with a faulty gearbox. Darwin could not know this, nor could any of his contemporaries. What has happened here is called: “gaining knowledge about a subject through test and theory.” You cannot quote Darwin or his colleagues in the context of disproving transitional forms, much in the same way as not quoting Galileo Galilei on the nature of comets.

But what are the implications of punctuated equilibrium in the search for transitional fossils? Well, mainly: expect them to be hard to find. If life on earth evolved in (relatively) short spurts, chances are you will be finding a lot of fossils from the much, much longer periods of gradual evolution.

That is not to say there are no transitional forms found, museums are filled with them. In a broad sense every creature that has ever lived and every organism that is alive today is transitional species. But if you want fish with feet: here is one:

tiktaaliktiktaalik impression

This is tiktaalik, read up on it here and here. Here is an interview (video) with the co-discoverer of tiktaalik: “Neil Shubin.” (Note that he doesn’t like the term “missing link”)

Of course the anti-evolutionists follow suit with denying it’s transitional:

“However, the claim of a transition from water to land is no more than a dream, because the physiological gulfs between terrestrial animals and fish cannot be overcome by any of the fictitious mechanisms of the theory of evolution. The latest attempt to make Tiktaalik roseae fit this scenario, which is supported out of blind devotion to the theory of evolution and rests on no scientific evidence whatsoever, is based on preconceptions and intentional misinterpretation.”

I don’t have a mind to go debunk the entire article, suffice to say it shows a shocking lack of what is actually out there. The depth of ignorance is staggering.

Here’s an apeman:

australopithecus

To be precise: here is Australopithecus Anamensis

Here’s a dinosaur bird:

dinobird

All of these (and there are many, many more, musea filled with them) aren’t convincing to the anti-evolutionists. They might say the fossil isn’t transitional but either one or the other. They might also claim it’s a sick animal or human, deforming by say: “arthritis” (the first ever found Neanderthal Man had arthritis, which was spun by some as meaning: all Neanderthal specimens ever discovered were normal modern humans with arthritis. Which makes me wonder why my arthritic neighbor doesn’t look like a Neanderthal Man.)

In the end, what it boils down to is misinformation and ignorance. Groups and individuals claiming there are no transitional fossils always show a lack of knowledge of what has actually been discovered and how these discoveries were actually interpreted. To remedy this I can only recommend two things: teach every child from any cultural background evolutionary science and fact and – if it’s too late for that – read up on the scientists’ side of the issue.

January 24, 2008

De Bond Tegen Het Vloeken (Maar eigenlijk tegen blasfemie)

Posted in atheism, christianity, Personal Ramblings, Sociology at 12:18 pm by Bram Janssen

vloek

Volgens de website van de “Bond tegen het vloeken” is dit de achterliggende gedachte van deze poster:

De Bond tegen het vloeken is deze week gestart met een nieuwe postercampagne. De campagne met de slogan ‘Als er een vloek valt, breekt er iets’ richt zich op het kwetsende karakter van vloeken.

Een vloek wordt vaak in een opwelling, onnadenkend geuit. Toch kan zo’n enkel woord mensen in de omgeving pijnlijk raken en meer teweeg brengen dan je je bewust bent. Doel van de campagne is mensen hierover aan het denken te zetten. De aanpak van vloeken begint bij bewustwording.

De slogan ‘Als er een vloek valt, breekt er iets’ wordt gevisualiseerd door een kapot gevallen wijnglas.
“Breekt er iets”? Volgens mij is vloeken juist een uitvloeisel van potentieel kwetsend gedrag. Als een man tegen zijn vriendin zegt: “Ik wil je niet meer zien- ga weg en laat me alleen,” is dit volgens mij toch even kwetsend als: “Rot op, slet.” Het kwetsende hier is het gedrag en de wens van de man, niet de woordkeus van de man.

En dan dit:
lindavloek

Dit staat op de website van de Bond, onomwonden:

Doel: Uit diep respect voor de Naam van God wil de Bond een eerbiedig en juist gebruik van Gods Naam in de samenleving bevorderen. We stellen echter niet alleen vloeken, maar ook schelden aan de kaak. De Bond zet zich in voor respectvol taalgebruik in de meest brede zin van het woord.

Vloeken gebeurt vaak onnadenkend. Vandaar die papegaai in het logo. De Bond streeft ernaar dat mensen zich meer bewust worden van wat ze zeggen en wat ze hiermee God en medemensen kunnen aandoen.

Motivatie:

De motivatie voor ons werk vinden we in de Bijbel. Bijvoorbeeld in het Onze Vader, waarvan de eerste bede luidt: ‘Uw Naam worde geheiligd’. Liefde en hoogachting voor God zijn drijfveer voor ons werk. Maar we weten ons ook gesteund door opvattingen die breed gedragen worden in onze samenleving. Vrijwel iedereen vindt vloeken en schelden onbeschaafd.

 

Ik geloof niet in God. Ik geloof niet in “een” God en ook niet in aliens, engelen, telepatie of Sinterklaas. De Bond is echter een spreekorgaan voor Christelijk Nederland. Hun motieven zijn door-en-door Christelijk. Ze zeggen terecht dat iedereen vloeken en schelden onbeschaafd vindt, maar dat wil nog niet zeggen dat blasfemie onbeschaafd is. Er valt zelfs iets te zeggen voor blasfemie.

 

Christenen indoctrineren kinderen, ze discrimineren jegens vrouwen en homosexuelen en ze verkopen prietpraat. Dankzij de “verlichte” conclusies die ze trekken over normen en waarden zijn er op dit moment honderduizenden mensen een langzame dood aan het sterven door HIV, vooral in Afrika. Dankzij het Christendom hebben we duizend jaar “Dark Ages” gehad tussen nu en de laatste grote beschaving van de Romeinen. Voor Christenen is het belangrijker om kuis en nederig te zijn dan assertief en te werken aan je volle potentiaal.

 

Christenen proberen normen en waarden op te leggen gebruikmakend van een fundamenteel foute basis: een immens verouderd, bij elkaar geraapt en oneindig gereviseerd boek uit het stenen tijdperk- vol met tegenstrijdigheden, gruwelijkheden en klinkklare nonsens. Voor alle “wijze lessen” in de Bijbel staan er zeker twee maal zo veel “onwijze lessen” in.

 

Ben ik nu echt de enige die een godsgruwelijke hekel heeft aan De Bond? Ok, ik besef me helemaal dat het allemaal nogal onschuldig is, en dat de acties van de Bond nu niet bepaald verstrekkend zijn, maar ik vind het allemaal zo’n verspilling van geld en moeite.

 

Christenen verdienen geen speciale behandeling- ze verdienen respect en fatsoen net als iedereen dat verdiend. Ze hebben echter helemaal niet het recht om naar wij gepeupel te wijzen met een vermanende, patriarchische vinger over ons taalgebruik. Ze staan niet boven de rest, ze zijn deel van de rest en het wordt eens tijd dat ze zich daar naar gingen gedragen.

January 23, 2008

The amazing Kinoki footpads!

Posted in Curioso, Personal Ramblings, scamming, Sociology at 12:15 pm by Bram Janssen

I can understand how this commercial seems convincing to someone who doesn’t know the first thing about the human body– but I bet that last you checked, toxins weren’t exiting your body through your feet. Unless you were talking about my smelly feet, which are highly toxic, especially at the end of a busy day. Wait… maybe this thing does work! In which case I might start thinking about developing some highly effective Kinoki armpit pads.

January 7, 2008

“God is punishing me for not believing in Him”

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, intelligent design, Sociology, World Wide Web at 9:03 pm by Bram Janssen

god punishes me for not believing in him

For a long while now, I’ve been a steady reader of PostSecret. It’s a well-known blog featuring postcards sent in by anonymous people- all of them sharing a personal message or “secret.” One returning message is people struggling with their belief in God. Or disbelief, such as the person who sent in the card above. This theme is a fairly common one on PS.

“I don’t believe in God & I believe he is punishing me for just that….”

Behold the terrible power of indoctrination. At first glance, the message of this card is almost laughable to both believers and atheists, but once you really start to think about it, the utter sadness of it becomes clear. This is a message filled with despair- a true believer whose faith is shaken and is left with… well, with what? Most religions try their very best at convincing their flock (their term, not mine) that there is no life without God. No real one at any rate– you will not have hope, love or morals. You’ll be damned to rot in Hell too, especially if you once believed. (I remember reading that there is always hope for those poor, lost souls who never came into contact with Christianity at all.)

However, in this day and age it’s becoming increasingly easier and affordable to become well-informed. Close-mindedness is under attack by the Internet (by people such as me) and elements of the mass media (unfortunately, however, large parts of the media still think small minds are right minds). Pretty soon, the inevitable will happen: the mind of a true believer will start to refuse to believe in God.

And so you might end up torn apart, with a heart that belongs to God and a mind that belongs to reason. No wonder religions force upon the masses that true faith is blind faith. There truly is no other way to believe. The only way the cardwriter’s split being can be healed is to allow himself to see that the notion of God almighty isn’t the only thing that’s awry- the doctrine that a life without God is a life wasted is equally false. There is beauty, love and above all: honesty and truth beyond God and dogma.

December 20, 2007

New I.D. film: “Playground For The Expelled” aka “Playground For The Crybabies”

Posted in atheism, conspiracy theory, creationism, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology at 10:44 pm by Bram Janssen

Intelligent Design… [insert huge sigh here]

Now you have got to credit these folks: they never give up. Their fanaticism seems to have no bound!

In theatres 2008: “The Playground For The Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”

Watch the trailer.

Now I’d like to start off my criticism with this message: all pretense gone! They seem to have come out of the closet when it comes to the role Creationism plays in their ideas. Not that there was any doubt about it since the Dover trial. With a film endorsed by the Intelligent Design movement and with interviews with prominent I.D. front-men, the case seems clear.

With that out of the way… well, honestly, I can feel nothing but contempt for the message and tone of this trailer. It’s all: “boo-hoo-hoo, the Neo-Darwinists are oppressing us for no other reason than us righteously questioning their theory.” This awesome lie is bound to fail of course.expain

First of all, it is common knowledge now that Intelligent Design is a farce. No playing martyr is going to change that. The only thing that could only ever change the pitiful status of Intelligent Design as a scientific theory is evidence. Rock-hard, ice-cold evidence. And don’t think of bringing on the vertebrate eye or the bacterial flagellum once more, like you did in Dover. In fact, don’t bring any examples at all- bring testable, structurally sound theories. And stop this conniving and scheming.

This trailer is a new low in outrageous Creationist propaganda, second only, maybe, to The Way Of The Master. Check that out for some gruesome twists in the fabric of reality.

Arguments Against God

Posted in atheism, christianity, conspiracy theory, creationism, darwinism, evolution, intelligent design, Paleoanthropology, Personal Ramblings, Sociology, Zoology at 10:36 am by Bram Janssen

Of all the foolish things people believe, God is one of the most extraordinary. I think it’s alright to have the personal belief that your life is being guided by a divine being, but it’s not alright to fight about it to the death – or at least utter tediousness – without having sufficient proof for it.

And there is no proof for God, folks, it’s time to face up to that fact. The time when the world was an almost wondrous affair are all but gone, thanks to science. What came in place of God is the beauty of the real world. Isn’t the natural world amazing and breathtaking enough, do you really even need to throw a supernatural being in the mix to be awed by reality? Isn’t life on Earth incredible enough- just look at all the incredible shapes of life! What about quantum mechanics? Astronomy? Psychology? All that science uncovers in these fields inspires in me the same awe that miracles would- all without need of a God. In fact: don’t you agree the “revelation” that all of this came about without a maker is even more inspiring than explaining it away by means of a mysterious Creator?

That said, there are millions of people around the world who claim to have evidence of said Creator. One of the themes of this weblog will be presenting these various forms of evidence and dismantling them. Yes: dismantling. As yet, there is no evidence for the existence of God or even the suggestion of the existence of God, as I will show you. Until I get down to penning about this, I’d like to present one of the strongest arguments against God I’ve heard so far, by the great George Carlin.

Dutch Christian Committees “offended by blasphemous advertisements”

Posted in atheism, christianity, creationism, intelligent design, Personal Ramblings, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , , at 2:00 am by Bram Janssen

Several days ago, the news got out that several Dutch Christian organisations filed official complaints at the address of the Dutch “bureau for codes of conduct in commercials” (honestly, I don’t know what the official translation ought to be, so here’s the literal one) due to franchised electronics warehouse “Dixons” disrespecting Christian faith.

The franchise distributed commercial prints depicting the Three Wise Men navigating by TomTom and baby Jesus listening to ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ on an iPod in his crib. According to spokesman Bert Dorenbos these depictions are: “Dangerous, especially during Christmas time.” If you can read Dutch, here’s the original article.

Now, I’d like you to consider this and ask yourself how this is different from Islamic outrage over comic portraits of Muhammad in a Scandinavian newspaper. The only difference I can think of is the intensity in the revulsion felt by the offended religion. In fact, I think there is no difference at all. Both situations are equally outrageous and truthfully: the only “dangerous” thing in the whole situation is giving these Christian organisations credulity.

What’s more: where is the danger in these depictions anyway? What’s offensive? I don’t get it. Because it is blasphemous that Jesus might listen to a Christmas song on an iPod? Give me a break! It’s not as if he is trying to get friendly with the mule or anything. Now that would be a decent reason to take offense.

Why did I say it was dangerous to give these Christians credulity? Well, for the plain reason that they are trying to establish that Christianity needs to have a special place in Dutch society. Such a special place, in fact, that it is deemed to be a major breach of common decency to harmlessly depict a Shepherd playing a video-game. What these organisations are lobbying for in this manner, is that society should not be critical of Christianity, however trivially, because it would hurt their personal feelings. And hurting anyone’s feelings is bad thing, don’t you agree?

Well, Bert Dorenbos, you are hurting my personal feelings. Even though I am not too fond of Dixons, I feel offended by the organisations you speak for, for trying to insert small-mindedness into society. For trying to stop us from being critical of a religion that needs to be criticised like never before. For trying to promote Christianity as a clique beyond reproach and mostly– for playing on people’s fears by playing the card that says: “criticizing religion breeds hatred in society.” After all, people, wasn’t Theo van Gogh killed for his blatant critique on religion (Islam), wasn’t Ayaan Hirshi Ali forced to flee the country for the same reason?

For these reasons, I want to hurt your feelings. I want to be critical of you, so that hopefully, it will dawn on you that you are being small-minded and patronising. I don’t mind you and your Christian conviction, however, what I do mind is that you can not keep it to yourself. Instead, you try to tell me, an atheist, and any other person who might ever get the idea to say something “dangerous” about your faith should keep their “blasphemy ” to themselves. I will not shut up. I repeat: I will not shut up. I will never stop criticizing people with small minds and hypocritical agendas.

Amen.

December 5, 2007

Chemtrails

Posted in conspiracy theory, Philosophy & Politics, Sociology tagged , , at 2:34 pm by Bram Janssen

Merriam-Webster (Open dictionary section!):

chemtrail (noun) : chemtrail/chem-trail reference to extensive contrail-like atmospheric appearances that happen in unexplainable and numerous patterns that are created in continuous succession in the sky by unmarked aircraft and thought to have a toxic composition.
The “chemtrail” patterns in the sky were more inexplicable then ever. On a clear day the “chemtrails” are sometimes more visible then usual. —WillPWilson, Many years of Worldwide News reports., http://www.bariumblues.com, around the year of 2000 and many other published sources.

The crux of the theory is this: the government, or at least a very powerful political force, is spraying airborne toxins and pathogens over populated areas all over the world, in order the “cull the herd.” That is: solve the overcrowding of the lands by killing as many people as possible.

At first this may sound absurd (it is), but then the subliminal power of this theory kicks in. As you walk outside you do something you probably don’t do very often: you study the sky. And what you see are contrails. And yes they really are contrails, not chemtrails. Normally you’d just look past them and look at the clouds instead, but hey, don’t contrails dissipate after a maximum of twenty minutes? (not necessarily) And what if it’s true?
The video above is one of two major “documentaries” freely available on the Internet. The other one is so long and tedious I can’t be bothered to critique it.

strange contrails OK- now watch the video with my following points of critique in mind.

First off: the documentary starts at 04:35- all what happens before is scary drama, with lots of frightening music, sound effects and unrelated evil things like Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, Bible burning, atomic bombs exploding and to top it all- a supremely malevolent anti-gravity helicopter. These matters should serve as a filter: general viewers go in, but only paranoid viewers go out. During the rest of the documentary, it’s more scary images as well as a distorted, God-like voice that serves only to irritate and make it hard to understand what’s being said.

The actual content of the video isn’t any better. The time spent on evidence for chemtrails is about two minutes, and extremely circumstantial. All the rest is extrapolation from this weak premise (as well as being presented extremely poorly and tediously.) For the record: in science, circumstantial evidence is wholly secondary to direct evidence from a controlled experiment that can be reproduced by peers.

Now, let me put forward my main question: how on Earth would the American government be able to pull this massive operation off? In all fairness, the U.S. government has an extremely poor reputation when it comes to large-scale military operations. Basically, the last well-executed large campaign was the war against Hitler in Europe and to a lesser extent the war in the Pacific against imperial Japan. After that it was all down-hill, ending with the current occupation of Iraq – which even the staunchest proponents can’t deny is being executed disastrously.

Also, reality check: if this is all secret, how do they plan on keeping it that way? It’s absolutely impossible to keep a gargantuan operation like this secret from anyone not involved. It only takes one single anti-American secret service agent – abroad or at home in the States – to expose the entire cover-up. What will happen next is complete annihilation of anyone involved, as well as all the political parties and corporations that support it. It’s just to risky too even contemplate.

Decimating the civilian population like this would be virtual suicide for your person, your company, your political party if you happen to be a high-ranking political official, since history and common sense insist that this cannot be kept secret, certainly not for twenty-plus years as the video proposes. This is something to be kept in mind for most conspiracies- if they involve huge, secret governmental operations, they are probably bogus and can be safely ignored.

As you see, the theory of chemtrails took less time to dissipate than the average contrail.

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