Thursday, April 28, 2016

Who Cares?

Look around the world today and ask yourself, who cares? Many of us like to feel like we do, but we don't.

People are convinced that their "beliefs" will save them, and make everything alright. But they won't.

We think the problems of the world can be fixed by more people turning to God, to prayer, and to respect for human life, even as our addiction to the "profit motives" of consumer capitalism, and all of the latest technologies it can produce for us, only cheapens the value of human life by reducing it to a credit score, and mere numbers in an actuary's ledger. We are awash in sex and violence, not because human beings suffer from a fallen nature, but because we have created an economic system of survival that necessarily feeds off of all of our basest instincts, and none more so than fear and greed. Indeed, money is the root of all evil, and like a vampire, its flower is the power born from the blood of war.

The problems of the world are not the result of some great Satan and his minions, to which we can only hope to defend ourselves by praying to a God who is said to have created them. We cannot fix the world by simply giving money at Church, as if the world's problems can be fixed by donating 10% of our income to a televangelist telethon called "Jesus's Kids". In fact, it is just such a belief that tends to contribute the most to the world problems, by siphoning our empathy for humanity into the coffers of a religion that promises us that God will save us, and punish all those who deserve it. (Of course, the fact that Jesus decided to simply stand idly by as the 20th Century spilled more blood than any other century in history, when he could've simply "returned" and stopped it all, means he is no better than a Shepard who stands idly by and watches as a pack of rebid wolves devours his flock.)

History is simply the repeating story of how power in sheep's clothing convinces so many sheep to fight and die for it's noble causes, by demonizing all those who seek to think for themselves, and live for themselves, in order to live their lives as they choose. And standing up to any of that is like a fly trying to awaken all the atoms of an ocean whose great tide is controlled by the moon. So perhaps it is high time that our beliefs simply washed us all away. Because after all, who cares?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

War of the Worlds: If Aliens Ever Invaded Earth

If a superior species of beings was to invade our planet, as was depicted in the science fiction novel by H.G. Well, War of the Worlds, it is likely that that species of aliens would decide that, to save the planet, it would have to annihilate humanity. Such invasions, however, are always depicted as a means by which human beings are forced to band together to defend their great planet against some marauding band of evil space aliens, bent on taking over our planet for themselves and doing with it into whatever they want. It never occurs to most people that such "aliens" may simply be trying to do what's best for the planet.

In truth, however, if you read the book by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, you'll find reasons for why the true treasure of this planet is its ability to sustain complex life. Although there are those who disagree with the premise that Ward and Brownlee put forward in their book, one thing that is obvious is that we should not take our little Eden of Earth in this Garden variety Universe for granted.

In fact, if there was a species of aliens that was out trolling the universe for a planet to inhabit, as has been the theme of movies from Superman to Battle star Galactica, it would probably be for the same reasons Noah had to build and ark, and why we may have to consider moving to Mars in the not too distant future. Such a species would be looking for a planet that could support complex life, and probably because something had caused them to loose the planet they had previously called home.

But upon arriving to Earth, any such species would soon discover that our systems of beliefs - from religious and political fanaticism, to economic "profit motives" that seek to bleed the entire planet dry, hunt and fish every other living species into extinction, and ultimately threaten to either nuke the planet or destroy its ozone layer - would soon convince such aliens that the only way to protect the planet itself, would be by killing that species of animal that, like a cancer, appears to be heedlessly destroying everything else.

That is, any alien invasion that the Earth would be likely to encounter would lead those aliens to the conclusion that every other living thing on the planet, needed to be protected from the ravages of us. And like Avatar, given the accelerating speed with which we are butchering every other species of animal on the planet,  it's easy to assume that, if such a species could communicate with those other species (and if they were smart enough to reach earth, who knows, maybe they would have the intelligence to do so), they would rouse them all to rise up against us. I mean, if you were the leader of an alien species who needed a viable place to call home, wouldn't you do the same thing? For God knows we sure as hell would!  

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Castrating Effects of the Invisible Hand: How Globalization Became a Giant Ponzi Scheme

In case you haven't figured this out, globalization is simply a giant ponzi scheme. And everyone who believes otherwise has simply sold their soul to the religion of the markets and made it their unquestionable messiah.

It's not as complicated as it seems, but it's always presented as if it were so complicated only Wall Street Bankers can possibly understand it. All charlatans use this "smokescreen of complexity" to hide their slight of hand to pick your pocket. And globalization, and the financial pilfering of the entire planet that has now destroyed the Great Barrier reef - something that took millions of years to form, but has been destroyed in a matter of months, thanks to pollution and climate change - is basically no different.

Banks, as everyone knows by now, run everything, and own everything. They provide money and make loans to people, corporations, countries, you name it. Those loans become money in the bank's pocket as soon as they are issued. For example, if the bank makes a loan to Joe for Joe to buy a house, for say, $100K, that  $100K becomes money on the banks books, and thus money in the banks pockets. Presto! Just by issuing the loan, the bank has made $100K, plus interest.

Then, through the financial alchemy of "securitization," the financial markets bundle a bunch of those loans together, and, because of the interest on those loans, sell them to investors. And some of the biggest investors of all are Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. In other words, if I make 10 loans to 10 different Joe's, I can then take those 10 loans, and make them look like they are 1 single loan, for a million dollars. Then I can sell that million dollar loan plus interest, like a commodity to anyone who is willing to take the risk that any of those 10 Joe's will stop paying on their loan. The hope, of course, is that even if one or two of them stop paying, the rest will continue to pay.

Companies like AIG, however, allow me to insure my investment, just in case most or all of those 10 Joe's stop paying. AIG covers my bet that Joe will pay his loan, and if he doesn't, then AIG will pay me instead. Basically, I can't loose. This is how money is used to make more money, even though nothing is being produced or generated, but larger and larger bank statements. And as the bank statements of the banks go higher and higher, the debt of everyone else gets deeper and deeper. And that's because as we take the loan on the front end, our tax dollars are used to buy that same loan from that bank, on the back end.

It's no coincidence, therefore, that private profits have been rising in tandem with the increase of public debts around the world,  and that every industry is following the example set by the head of the snake. Every industry from Big Finance to Big Pharma has lobbied hard for deregulation of their markets, and by doing so, has made trillions in profits This is made possible by U.S. taxpayers, who either purchase those loans through quasi-governmental agencies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, or who provide massive amounts of funding for the R&D of drugs through NIH (which have allowed Big Pharama to become the most profitable sector of the entire U.S. economy). Additionally, the deregulation under Reagan allowed those pharma companies, once they had purchased the patents for those drugs at bargain discount prices (even though those drugs were developed thanks to more than 80% in public and taxpayer investment), to advertise directly to consumers.

Every industry has followed suit, from the military industrial complex which constitutes the largest sector of the U.S. economy, thanks to massive funding of wars, military expansion, and R&D (compliments of U.S. taxpayers via the Pentagon), to the War on Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex, which is one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy because it is being "privatized" (much like much of the U.S. military, by the way), which means it is sold to private companies that then sign contracts with the states which guarantee occupancy rates. And who pays those companies to house all of those inmates? You guessed it, the tax payer!

But wait - It gets even better! By offering 401k's and encouraging regular people to invest in the stock market, regular employees become shareholders, and thus willing accomplices in incentivizing the companies they work for to maximize profits. And one of the ways that companies try to maximize profits in order to keep all their shareholders happy, is by firing as many of their employees as possible, or moving to countries with cheaper labor and no health care  & retirement plans or environmental regulations,  so they can save money. Hence, to keep you as a shareholder happy, the company is forced to treat you as an employee like crap. 

Don't bother trying to get on welfare, however, since the public debt (because of the egregious amounts of spending on bogus wars and prisons filled with cheap labor) is too great to support lazy, unemployed American's who are simply trying to take advantage of other "hard working Americans" through their obvious desire to have government take care of them from the cradle to the grave, via "socialist programs and wealth redistribution."

 And thanks to international trade agreements like NAFTA and TTIP, and politico-economic unions like the EU, which serve only to protect and advance the interests of banks and corporations, people in general, and increasingly their governments as well, have less and less say about any of this. In short, people's ability to redress its concerns through its political bodies has been effectively neutered by Adam Smith's invisible hand.

Goodbye to the Great Barrier Reef. Humanity is not long behind you.    









Thursday, April 21, 2016

The True Meaning of Christianity: Save Yourself!

Christians believe that the only way to believe that life has meaning is to believe that God created us to love him, because he loves us, and that we are all here to fulfill his "divine plan" of making us love him by threatening to tell us all to go to hell if we don't.

Even though the universe may be simply the byproduct of a divine act of unprotected procreation, Christians insist that life has "meaning" only if we have a belief in a "God" who can create an entire universe from nothing, specifically for us, but is utterly powerless to keep guns out of public schools, and all because he is angry that people there don't talk about as much as they used to.

Without God, so Christians will tell you, life is completely meaningless. If you then ask the Christian, "How does believing in God give my life "meaning," and what "meaning" does it give, more precisely?", the Christian will either answer with a barrage of memorized bible verses, or a story of love, forgiveness, conspiracy, and murder, that is designed to make us feel simultaneously happy about God's forgiveness and sad about having to kill Christ to get it.

Of course, when the atheist points out that neither of these "answers" actually answers their questions, the Christian insists the atheist is just being a stubborn ass for refusing to shut up and drink the cool aid, like everyone else. And if the atheist goes even further, and points out how truly ridicules it is to believe that humanity could only be forgiven by a God by brutally murdering his son, the Christian explains that only with "the gift of faith" can a person fully understand such an absurdity (just ask Soren Kierkegaard). And anyone who is unable to "see" the "truth" of such a story is simply suffering from a form of spiritual cataracts. God, by the way, allows these people to be so "blinded," because they are "hard of hearts," which really means they are simply hard-headed for failing to see how obviously true this story really is. (Indeed, the surest proof of all can be seen in the growing number of televangelists who own their own private jets.)

Regardless of such absurdities, the "meaning of life" for the Christian boils down to a simple formula: save yourself, by saving others. And the only way to do this, of course, is by convincing others to "believe" the self-contradictory story just mentioned, as much as they do.  Only then, according to people like Mike Huckabee, can life have "meaning."

Of course, this simply means that the Christian is "believing" in God because, as Pascal wagered, it is better to believe and be wrong, than not to believe and be wrong. Yet such reasoning only means that "believing" is a way of covering one's own ass. This is why Immanuel Kant pointed out that everything we do, no matter how altruistic it may appear, is still always done with the underlying hope of ingratiating oneself to God, and thus saving oneself from that oven where, like a Dachau for lost souls, "the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched."  After all, who among us would be willing to throw themselves into a lake of fire, and for all of eternity no less, for the sake of saving all of humanity? Indeed, even Christ is said to have only visited that horrible place for three days, before he decided to get the hell out of there.

Yet some Christians have no problem with the idea of throwing people into just such an oven, and for all of eternity no less, just so they can continue to "believe" that their belief in God is what ultimately gives their life meaning. Yet as history demonstrates only too well, it is always those who feel they are deserving of heaven, that are the most comfortable with the idea of casting others into hell. So much for, "love your enemies." 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Exorcist: An Atheist Perspective

It is said that everything is analogous to life. But everything is also analogous to sex. In fact, everything is basically analogous to everything. That being said, I recently read a theory about a darker meaning to the movie, The Exorcist, by film critic Rob Ager, and was so impressed I decided I needed to watch it again. So I did. The first time I remember watching this movie, by the way, many years ago as a Catholic and a true believer, it scared the hell out of me. Watching it now as an atheist, however, I see a lot of things I never noticed before.

(To be fair, this is a purely subjective interpretation of the film,  not an attempt to suggest what I think the author William Peter Blatty was really trying to convey. Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Blatty is an ardent Catholic who believes he can communicate with his dead son. And who knows, maybe he can. But either way, what follows is simply a perspective of someone who's world view is closer to that of the director, the agnostic William Friedkin, than that of Blatty.) 

FEAR OF SEX AND THE WORSHIP OF VIRGINS

In the simplest terms, the movie is about child abuse at the hands of religious fanatics who, themselves, seem to have a lot of their own emotional and psychological problems. It is not about the possession of Regan MacNeil by a demon, as Christians think, but of Fr. Damien Karras by his religious beliefs and guilt about his own mother, that lead him to see the world through the lens of his faith the same way priests in the middle ages saw people who were suffering from mental problems as being possessed by demons. 

We see this even in the first scene in the movie, which is an outside view of Regan MacNeil's bedroom window at night, just as the lights in her room go out. Those lights remain turned off for most of the movie as well - how voyeuristic. After this, the camera pans to the right as we see a young lovers walking into the dark of night, arm and arm, which then fades to a statute of the 'virgin' Mary, followed by the opening credits. By juxtaposing the lights in the bedroom window with the lovers fading into the darkness, the film is suggests we are about to witness a contest between our sexual nature on the one hand, and a near deification of virginity in the mother of "God" on the other.  

 After the opening credits, the first scene is in Northern Iraq, where many maps show the Garden of Eden may have been located. Interestingly, however, the scene looks like the landscape of hell, complete with countless condemned souls feverishly swinging shovels and pick axes at the scorched earth, like prisoners on a chain gang in Dante's Inferno, digging up the bones of the past and kicking up dust everywhere in the process. (This obsession with the past will play a major part of the film for Fr. Karras, by the way.) It's as if these men are right out of slave labor camp from Dostoevsky's, Crime and Punishment, and symbolically toiling for the loss of our collective innocence. And who knows, perhaps even due to our sexual licentiousness.

When we contrast these scenes agaisnt each other, we see the "civilized west" typified in an affluent D.C. townhouse, with what we typically think of as rugged uncivilized rustics living in the desert, much as the Native Americans were seen as savages for failing to live in cabins instead of teepees. Such contrasts have always been relied upon to support the illusion that the more creature comforts a society has, the more moral and "civilized" we presume it to be, even though the historical record almost always demonstrates the opposite to be true.

Fr. Merrin, the older priest leading the expedition played by Max von Sydow, then finds a small amulet in the dirt, and is shaken by its resemblance to a statue with a giant erect penis; a statue which Merrin goes to visit shortly thereafter. The statue is of the ancient Neo-Assyrian deity called Pazuzu (which is often mistakenly assumed to be a demon, but isn't), and its erection only strengthens the contrast between the virginity of Mary and the loss of our innocence and fear of sex by Catholics and religion. (The erection, by the way, is added for effect, to expressly show the pitting of our fear of sexuality against the religious worship of virgins, much like in the Muslim religion. This is obvious since normal statues of Pazuzu are not suffering from such a priapistic erection.)

On his way to see the statue of Pazuzu, Fr. Merrin comes across a blacksmith with one eye, which stands in contrast to the carpenter of Christ that Fr Merrin has pledged his life to follow as a priest. We are left to wonder if Fr. Merrin is here looking at his own reflection as a one eyed man, with the audience constituting the land of the blind, at least as far as he sees it. Is Fr. Merrin blind because he is only seeing the world through the single eye of  his religion? Or does the blacksmith suggest that we are all blind, in some respect, by our own scatomas, because our beliefs prevent us from seeing anything but what we believe?


When Fr. Merrin finally does go to see the priapist statue of Pazuzu, the scene ends with Merrin standing on a precipice to the right of the screen, facing the statue, which stands on the left of the screen. As the scene fades, a full yellow sun emerges between the pair, surrounded by a blood red-orange sky. This imagery returns later in the film, when Regan creates a Barney-like puppet, which is presumably  her imaginary friend "Mr Howdy," which bears a striking resemblance to the statue of Pazuzu that Fr. Merrin encountered earlier in Iraq (only the phallic erection of the statue in Iraq is replaced on Regan's puppet with a large phallic nose instead; and both are similar to the phallic appendages found on the desecrated statue of Mary in the Church later on). Mr Howdy, by the way, just happens to be the same color of the blood red orange sky from the earlier scene just mentioned, with a yellow tuft of hear on top.

Later in the movie, when Chris MacNeil is arguing with Fr. Karras about her daughter's need for an exorcism in the basement of her house (she was washing his shirt, recall, because it had been covered in green pea soup - apparently the actor playing Fr. Karras, by the way, could never eat green pea soup again after that scene), Karras is to the right of the screen, sitting at the table, while the puppet sits across the table from Karras, facing him. Standing directly behind Mr. Howdy is Chris MacNeil. Fr. Karras is positioned in the same way as Fr. Merrin, to the right of the screen, while Mr. Howdy/Chris MacNeil  and the statute of Pazuzu are positioned to the left. This is not a coincidence.

The two scenes parallel the priests facing off against perceived threats to their authority, in a sense, and the beliefs that they rely on to derive that authority. The question, however, is what is the "demonic force" Merrin and Karras are fighting against? Interestingly enough, Pazuzu is most famous for vanquishing the evil goddess, Lamashtu, who was known for kidnapping children from their mothers. One can wonder from this fact alone, if they scratch the surface of this film slightly more, if the staging of the puppet across the table from Fr. Karras to parallel that of Pazuzu across from Merrin in Iraq, is in fact a way of suggesting that the Catholic Church is, in a sense, Lamashtu.  

In addition to Rob Ager's interpretation that Burke Dennings may have been molesting Regan, I also think The Exorcist can be understood - from an atheist's perspective anyway - to illustrate hypocrisy, the detrimental effects of sexual repression, and ultimately rebellion against our parents and their superstitious beliefs (as can be seen in the scene just mentioned of Chris MacNeil standing directly behind Mr Howdy).

It likewise illustrates how our beliefs shape our perceptions and control our actions, with Christ MacNeil allowing her beliefs in the secular religion of psychiatry to lead her to the conclusion that Reagan telling the psychiatrist to "keep his fingers away from her goddamn cunt" to be the result of a mental problem, instead of the result of sexual abuse.

And lastly, in more subtle but nevertheless direct ways, the film may also communicates William Friedkin's agnostic contempt for religion overall.


GUILT AND FRAUD

We see the potential fraud and the effects of guilt rather clearly in Fr. Karras. Indeed, if The Exorcist is about anything, it's about a priest haunted by mommy issues, who, unable to forgive himself, appears to take out his guilt on a little girl.  

When we first meet Fr Karras he is in the audience of onlookers watching Chris MacNeil, a famous actress filming a movie on the campus of Georgetown University. Like Inception, perhaps the meaning of this filming of a movie inside of a movie is an allusion to the idea that Friedkin thinks that religion is itself nothing but a theatrical charade.

For the scene that Chris MacNeil is preparing to do, for example, there are students gathered on the steps of one of the Catholic Georgetown University buildings, holding picket signs. One of those signs clearly reads Help Eliminate Lying Pigs, with the letters H-E-L-P written down the left side of the poster in capital blood red-orange letters, and the words spelled out accordingly, in dark letters. Interestingly enough, at the very end of the movie, when Fr Dyer looks down the famous "Exorcist stairs" where Fr Karras tumbled to his death, on the left hand side we see written on the wall, in capital blood red orange letters, the word PIG, and on the wall above it, closer to the top of the stairs, we see in dark writing, the capital letters MY.

This is either pure coincidence,  or something more. Is it perhaps Friedkin's attempt to confess that the whole movie is, in a sense, his own lie, in some respect, or that he perhaps feels that way about religion? Who knows.  And given the Manson Family Murders of 1969, where the perpetrators had written the word PIG in blood on the wall, one wonders if Friedkin is suggesting that religion is no different than a cult.

When Chris MacNeil decides to walk home right after shooting this scene at GU, she passes by a church yard where she first sees Fr. Karras, and overhears him trying to encourage a fellow priest. Karras is heard to say "There's not a day in my life I don't feel like a fraud." He continues, however, that he doesn't know anyone who hasn't felt this, not just priests, but everyone, including doctors and lawyers as well. Perhaps this is a look at the problem known as "imposter syndrome," where people are always racked with the fear that they will be discovered to be a fraud.  Hence, the first time Karras sees MacNeil she's "pretending" to play a part, and the first time MacNeil sees Karras, Karras is admitting to feeling like he's simply "a fraud," and pretending as well.

 But while MacNeil plays her part and goes about her life, walking happily home, we see Karras walking under the cloud of his own fraud soon after, when he is asked in a New York subway by a homeless man, "Father, can you help an old altar boy? I'm a catholic?" Rather than help the man or give him some spare change, Fr Karras gives the man a distrustful look and hurriedly walks away. By doing so, we see how Karras is haunted by his own fears, and even perhaps his own distrust of Catholicism itself.

Also, when Karras finally gets to his aged mother's apartment, she hugs him as if she had not seen him in a long time. This is confirmed by the dialogue, when she tells him that his uncle (presumably her brother) had come by to see her recently. When Karras asks when, she replies, "Last month." This suggests that Karras has not been by to see his mom in at least a month, despite the fact that she has some problem with her leg, that Karras is then seen binding for her. He then mentions to her that he could take her someplace where she would be safe, where she wouldn't be alone. In short, Karras is a priest who has not visited his own mom in over a month, despite the fact she's an old woman, living alone, in an unsafe place, with a messed up leg. The audience is left to wonder from all of this, of course, if perhaps Karras really is a "fraud," or if he is simply riddled with the self doubting belief that he is.

Karras, we find out shortly thereafter, thinks he has "lost his faith," and is no longer cut out for his vocation. Maybe this is because he recognizes that he has been so inattentive to his own aging mother. He had studied psychiatry while in the priesthood, but even when he goes to visit his mother in the psych-ward of the mental hospital, he is neither compassionate nor caring to the mental patients who crowd toward him like the crowds that flocked to Jesus, in search of his healing touch and compassion. Karras, however, simply pulls away, visibly annoyed by them all. After that, he finds his mother, strapped to a hospital bed, and promises to take her home. She writhes away from his touches like Regan writhing in agony to what she believes is holy water, even though it isn't.' Like his own mother, in other words, Regan turns away not from the holy water that Karras sprinkles on her, but from Karras himself.  And as he attempts to comfort her, his mother (and later during the exorcism Regan, in his mothers voice) wales, "why Damy! Why do you do this to me? Why Damy! Why?" It is as if Karras is the false holy water.

This is the last time Karras sees his mother alive. (In contrast, the first time Karras sees Regan, she is similarly old and decayed looking, and likewise strapped to the bed. Is it any wonder, then, that Karras is haunted by his own mother? This will be confirmed at the end of the movie.) And the very next scene, Karras is in the gym fighting the heavy bag, as if fighting his own demons, his own failures, and his own sense of guilt.

In contrast to Karras's mother, we see the fraud of Regan's mom, Chris MacNeil,  who spends Regan's birthday, not taking her sight seeing and to the movies like she promised, but instead drinking and spending the day screaming into the telephone; and all out of a desire to shame Regan's dad (who is in Rome, the home of the Roman Catholic Church, coincidentally enough) for not calling his daughter on her birthday. Chris is less interested in making Regan happy on her birthday, in other words, than she is in taking an opportunity to feel morally superior, and wanting desperately to rub her ex-husbands nose in it. (Hell hath no fury as a woman with an axe to grind.)

Although we see Damien go to see his mom in the hospital, when Chris later sees Fr. Dyer at her party, she asks about Karras, to which Dyer responds, "he had a pretty rough knock last night. His mother passed away. She was living by herself and I guess she was dead a couple of days before they found her." We are left to wonder if Karras had ever actually visited his mother in the hospital, or had he wishfully imagined it all. Many people simply assume that he had, and had then taken her home, where she must have died alone shortly thereafter. Either way, Karras is clearly haunted by the death of his mother, as his dream of her coming out of the subway reveals. It is in Karras's dream that we first see the demonic face that we will encounter again in Regan's dream, and during the exorcism itself. And lastly , Karras drowns his sorrows with a bottle of Chivas Regal that Fr. Dyer admits he stole.

Indeed, even Fr. Dyer finds a way to justify his failure to practice what he preaches.  


CONTROL, REGRET, & BELIEFS

Recall that the first time Karras sees Regan, she's strapped to the bed just like his mom was the last time Karras saw her in the hospital, and both are dressed in their nightgowns. Regan here seems to represent the repressed guilt of Fr Karras about his own mother, then. This parallel is a bit like Norman Bates and his own mother, who had warped his mind so much with a disgust for his own sexual desires that he attacked women he was sexually attracted to. The exorcism may be less about freeing Regan from the demons that possess her, therefore, and more about freeing Fr. Karras from his own demons and his own regret. Yet rather than free himself from those demons, Karras seeks only to externalize them through his religion, so that he can try to control them instead.

Strapping Regan to the bed makes little sense, however, when you consider that she had already demonstrated her ability to move furniture around the room at will, even opening the drawer when she first meets Fr. Karras. So why binding Regan to the bed would stop her from moving the furniture with her mind is never explained. It's true that is may be to prevent Regan from harming herself, as she had already done with the crucifix, but anyone who can make the bed rise off the floor,  bang the cabinets, slam doors hard enough to crack them, and even crack the ceiling, unleash a tempest in the room, and shake the entire room like an earthquake, can't be stopped from being tied to a bed. What other purpose does strapping Regan to the bed suggest, then, but that of being controlled by the beliefs of those around her?Her violent reaction to those attempts to control, may simply be, not what she is actually doing, but what everyone in the movie is perceiving her to be doing, when they look at her through the lens of their different beliefs.

After all, why would Regan react so violently to tap water, just because she believes it is holy water? And why would a demon not know the difference? Does this simply illustrate how the power of a belief can effect us, even when the belief is false? Is the water being sprinkled on Regan really just an example of Fr. Karras showering his own beliefs on Regan, and her reaction to it is not to the Holy Water she thinks it to be, but to Fr. Karras's beliefs about Regan herself on the one hand, and his projection of regret and guilt over his mother on the other?

We may see a parallel to this "false belief" in Fr. Merrin, who doesn't care what Fr Karras has to say about Regan's condition. When Merrin first meets Karras in the MacNeil house, for example, Karras asks him if he would like to know about the many personalities Regan has displayed. Yet Merrin simply dismisses Karras's clinical psychiatric assessments, insisting that he knows better, "There is only one." When Merrin later claims "the demon is a liar, and will mix lies with the truth to confuse us," it is unclear if he is talking about Regan, Fr. Karras, or even himself.

Merrin also explains that "the attack is psychological," not spiritual. Here, Merrin seems to be alluding to the fact that Damien's demons ( and Regan's too perhaps) are all in his head, not in his soul. "Don't listen," Merrin insists, as if to say, do not listen to the doubts in your own head, to the regrets that haunt and heckle us all.  These regrets are like Freddy Kruger, invading our dreams, and our minds. In this respect, Regan is simply a prop for everyone else's beliefs. As a child, she is never consulted about what she thinks. Instead, she's poked and probed, hypnotized and exorcised, as if talking to her like a normal human being would be a complete waste of everyone's time. As a child, she is seen as less of a rational human being than an adult. And as such, her behaviors can only be explained by her mother, doctors, or even priests. After all, "Father knows best."

As the exorcism progresses, Regan eventually breaks her straps and floats into the air, to which Merrin and Karras use the power of their commands to force her back onto the bed, yelling together repeatedly, "The power of Christ compels you." As they do, Regan floats back onto the bed, where Karras then binds her hands and feet together which, given the nature of two men tying up a little girl, may suggest more than initially meets the eye of the audience. Yet either way, given the fact Regan has already moved everything around the room with ease, whether she is bound or unbound, and likewise demonstrated how easy it is for her to break the straps that bind her (the straps of other people's beliefs?), perhaps there is something more sinister being suggested by the binding of the hands and feet. Perhaps this is simply the bondage of the beliefs of Karras and Merrin.

Recall that Karras bound his mother's leg for some condition that we never learn about, and as he binds Regan's feet together, she sits up and clobbers him, sending him to the floor. Again, perhaps this is simply an example of how his own sense of guilt is beating him up inside, for having left his aged, incapacitated mother, all alone, to eventually die. And, he may even be asking if his own priesthood is indeed a "fraud," for if he couldn't even help to save his own mother, from either her fears or death itself, then what hope could he have of saving anyone else? 

Karras's wrestles with his own demons even further, after stepping out of Regan rooms for a break, when he asks Merrin:
  • Fr Karras: Why the girl? It doesn't make sense
  • Fr. Merrin: I think the point is to make us despair; to reject the possibility that God could love us.

Immediately following this exchange, Karras goes back into Regan's room and sees his own mother sitting on the bed, under a white light (despite the lamp having been broken just minutes earlier) and unbound. (Maybe she is unbound, because she is free of the guilt that Karras is carrying around.) The love Karras is having difficulty accepting, so it seems, appears to be either that of his own mother, or of himself, out of a sense of guilt about his mother's death.

When he sees his mother in Regan's room, she is sitting up in the bed, facing Karras, looking to her right, as Karras stands to the left of the room (from the audiences perspective). When Karras entered the room and saw his mother in the hospital, however, he was on his mother's left (or to the right of the room, from the audiences perspective), and she only turned to her right (our left) to escape his touch. When Karras walks back to his right in Regan's room, he once again sees Regan on the bad, not his mother. Only this time, Regan is again bound to the bed, despite the fact that Karras had only bound her hands and feet together minutes earlier, not to the bed. It's possible this was simply a mistake that was overlooked in the editing stage, in the same way that sometimes the nightstand to the left of the bed is there, and sometimes it isn't (much like Stanley Kubrick with chairs in The Shining) Or it may have been a direct parallel, intended to show how truly haunted by his guilt about his mother Karras really is.And given the haunting image Karras encounters soon after, perhaps this latter interpretation may make more sense.

 If the shift back to Regan being bound to the bed, instead of being bound on the bed, is not simply a mistake, then it may be alluding to Karras fighting with his own demons yet again. Indeed, Karras even hears his own mother's voice coming from Regan. Regan, then, as a person, seems completely hidden behind a veil of Karras's own sense of guilt and self doubt. All Karras sees, in other words, is his own mother, and in the festering flesh of Regan, he sees only the effects that his own sense of guilt and regret are having on him. Yet rather than seeing the connection, Karras's religious beliefs blind him to seeing how he is simply externalizing into an anthropomorphism, his own sense of guilt and regret. Karras, in other words, may represent the one eyed blacksmith, who only sees what is in others, but not what is so clearly eating away at himself. 

When Regan begins talking to Karras in his mother's voice, asking him "why do you do this to me Demy?" Karras explodes, "You're not my mother!" This is important, because it is a prelude of what is about to happen. Merrin then tells Karras to leave, which he does. Fr Karras is next seen downstairs with his own hands clasped tightly together, as if he had bound his own hands when he was binding Regan's, and held to his head, as if he is symbolizing his own bondage to his beliefs, to his guilt and his regret. Most people probably interpret this scene to be Karras praying silently to himself, but if he is downstairs taking a break from the praying he was just doing in the exorcism, it seems strange that he would go downstairs and continue to pray. Regardless of whether Karras is praying or not, his hands clasped together and held against his head suggest he is bound by his own thoughts, whatever they may be. 

When Karras goes back to Regan's room a second time, he finds Regan unbound yet again, much as he had seen his own mother just minutes earlier. Fr Merrin is dead, however. Enraged, he attacks Regan, violently throwing her to the floor. And while punching her in the face, he screams "Take me! God damn you! Come into me!" During his attack, Regan pulls the chain of Saint Joseph from Karras's neck, as a tempest of wind begins throwing things about the room. Karras then looks up toward the closed double window from which Burke Dennings had been thrown to his death earlier in the film, and in that instant, Karras sees the haunting face of his dead mother rushing toward him from behind the fluttering curtains. It is only after he sees the image of his mother's face, it should be noted, that Karras's eyes turn green with possession.

What Karras appears to be clearly possessed by, then, is his own grief, and his own regret, about his own mother. The "demon" they all appear to be fighting is the one that each of them brings to Regan in the first place. In this sense, Karras's attack on Regan is really Karras externalizing his aggression. Indeed, how often have any of us come home from a lousy day at work, and taken out our frustration with our boss or a customer on our family or friends, wives or husbands?

BUT WHY? 

From an atheist perspective, the movie makes little sense otherwise. Why, for example, would the devil or a demon possess a little girl in the first place? To what end? Since doing so could only have the effect of driving others around her to believe in the devil, and thus turn in reaction to a necessary belief in God - which you would think would be the very last thing a demon or the devil would want. And what's more, if we accept the Catholic point of view as legitimate, then why must the priests struggle so much to eject the demon or demons, given the fact they have God on their side? Regan, after all, is simply an innocent victim, all of the age of 12 going on 13. But the fact that God does nothing on his own to intervene on Regan's behalf, even though the Devil clearly took far more initiative on his own, only suggests that God favors the devil's freedom over protecting Regan.

And as the message "Help Me" appears on Regan's stomach illustrates, much to the shock of Fr Karras, Regan is clearly asking for help - so why does God decide not to do so directly, and instead leaves it in the hands of one over-aged priest in ill health, and another priest who is haunted by regret that has "lost his faith"?  If the whole point is simply to reconvert Karras to his faith, then God is no better than Torquemada or the serial killer from Saw, for he is willing to let a child suffer greatly for no other purpose than that one of his priests would learn to love him. To an atheist, this seems like cruelty beyond compare. It's like a doctor withholding a cure for cancer because he wants to use the suffering of the patient to entice a nurse to fall in love with him.

Instead, the movie only seems to confirm, on every level, just how much a person's beliefs can make them completely delusional. In the extended version of the film,  for example, Regan's complaint about her bed shaking - and nothing else! - leads her mother to drag her to see a stable of doctors and undergo a battery of tests. This complete overreaction is often overlooked by the audience because they believe, like Merrin and eventually Karras, that Regan is possessed to begin with.  Yet why her mom feels there is something wrong with Regan, simply because Regan complained about her bed, and nothing more, is never addressed. This then only suggests that the mom is the one possessed, and by a belief no less. As such, the increasing coldness in the room simply corresponds to the increasing coldness with which Chris - and everyone else, by the way - views Regan. We even see this when Chris tells Fr. Karras "that thing upstairs isn't my daughter."

Thus, from an atheist perspective, the movie is about a witch hunt, and everyone from the cast to the audience finds proof of exactly what they want to see. They see only the "mote in other people's eyes," in other words, "and not he plank in their own," as the Bible says. And the only way Regan is ever "saved" from all of these beliefs, is when the priest, Fr. Karras, hurls himself out the window, and his beliefs along with him. And although Regan is saved from Lamashtu for the time being, Fr. Dyer shows up in the end to wish them goodbye and give them the medal of St. Joseph, which is the Catholic counterpart to the amulet that Fr. Merrin found in Iraq at the beginning of the movie.

This, then, is like Jason from Friday the 13th, opening his eyes at the end of every movie, spooking the audience that his reign of terror will continue with more victims (Catholics, of course, see it as God saved Reagan, and the St Joseph medal is seen as God's continuing to protect the very child God allowed to be tortured and possessed in the first place). 

And a few thousand years from now, someone will find the Saint Joseph medal in an archeological dig in America somewhere, much like Fr. Merrin in Iraq found the amulet of Pazuzu, and conclude that this "patron saint of departing souls" was not a defender of a loving God, but simply demon and an angel of death. And the Christians will all be cast as the Cullens family.  



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Christians Are Terrified That "The Truth Will Set You Free"

 Christians hate and fear atheism precisely because their own bible says "the truth will set you free," which is clearly the last thing Christians want their own children to ever understand or discover. So to to prevent this kind of "freedom" from ever infecting their indoctrinated youth, Christians do everything they can to exclude "truth" from any public debate or discourse.

Doing so not only proves how intellectually inferior Christians must therefore think their own beliefs really are, compared to those of atheism, it also proves that the easiest way to win a debate is to simply prevent your opponents from entering the conversation. By doing so, the Christian seeks to limit people's access to "the tree of knowledge," in order to control what they and their children "believe," because God knows that nothing frightens a Christian more than the idea that "the truth will set you free."
 

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hope: The Difference Between Atheists and Christians on the Titanic

The opposite of fear is not courage, but hope. Courage is what it takes to walk through the valley of the shadow of fear, while hope is a candle that "lights up the darkness" in the valley, as Bob Marley put it. And the difference between atheists and Christians may all come down to their different ideas about hope.

For the Christian, hope rests almost exclusively in the belief that God loves us like a father and ultimately wants the very best for us, and is even willing to die for us to make sure we have it. That hope comes with the belief that we have nothing to fear from death; for death is simply a doorway to eternal life, thanks to the fact that we are all in part responsible for the brutal murder of Christ (hooray for us!). Salvation, then, is ours, if we will but simply believe it, by believing in God. And for the Christian, this means necessarily believing in Christ. And for the Catholic, it means obeying God by obeying His "hand-maiden," the Catholic Church, no matter how many sins it may commit.

By extension, all of the rules and regulations that Christians or the Catholic Church create and impose are seen by Christians as the necessary guardrails that line the narrow road to heaven. They are described as "road-signs" by the Christians, even though atheists see them more like an electrified fence, or even a series of cattle-prods.

For Christians, these road signs and guardrails are not simply the means by which we can find a cure for the fatal human sickness of original sin, they are also the only means of reaching heaven. Take down the signs or the guardrails, as they see it, and people will begin falling in droves from that narrow road, into the gaping maw of hell below. Hell, in this respect, is a threat that is used to keep people on the narrow road, and continually building up and reinforcing the guardrails on either side of it. (The Christians see themselves like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, in this sense, "You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!")

As Christians see it, then, all of the "sins" and evils in the world come down to people not worshiping God enough by defending the "rules" they believe come from God; rules that must be followed like a road map, by everyone, in order for people to avoid hell, prevent evil from spreading in the world, and ultimately keep hope alive. The Christian believes they must do whatever it takes, in this sense, including martyrdom if necessary, to keep hope alive, by keeping their beliefs alive - no matter what. For only by holding onto their beliefs, regardless of how bloody, illogical, or contrary to scientific evidence those beliefs may be, are they able to hold onto their ideas of hope.  Their hope, then, is basically intellectually and emotionally inseparable from their beliefs.Yet this is not necessarily the case with Atheists.

 For the Atheist, hope is not about wishing for an eternal life in paradise with a God who is cruel enough to drown everything and everyone on the planet, and then orchestrates the brutal murder of his own son in order to atone for the sins of the imperfect humanity he "intelligently designed" to be so sinfully stupid they could be counted on to murder the son of their own God. Anyone who puts their "hope" in such a fantasy, even if it all makes perfect sense to them, is still focused on the wrong thing, as Atheists see it.

To put it another way, we can compare the difference between atheists and Christians to people on the Titanic. The atheist hopes to stop the Titanic from sinking by understanding everything they can about the ship and the diverse differences of all those aboard, so they can work together, save the ship, and ultimately each other. Christians, on the other hand, feel that praying to the almighty shipbuilder and obeying the rules set out in the ships manual about how guests should comport themselves while aboard, is not only the best way to understand everyone on the ship, but is the only real way to save the ship from sinking to a watery grave. And even if they are wrong, and the ship sinks,  they believe their prayers and obedience to the rules will ultimately "save them," by raising them from the dead like Lazarus when they eventually reach Davey Jone's Locker at the bottom of the sea.

The Christian believes that their plan of action is such an obviously the better plan, in fact, that the only people who cannot see how obviously better it is, must be either blinded by the devil or just spiritually stupid. After all, for the Christian, everything in the world confirms their plan is not only the right one, but the only one - especially atheists! The Atheist, however, finds it difficult to tell if the Christians are joking or simply insane. "Where is all of this "evidence" that these Christians claim "proves" such a belief will actually work?," the Atheist asks, "And who is this "almighty shipbuilder" that they continually talk to in their head, both individually and collectively, and ask to help us out of this mess? I mean, isn't he the same guy who built the ship this way, according to these Christians, and thus put us in this mess in the first place?"

Also, the Atheist understands that, while half of the Christians on this Titanic planet seem to want to help save the ship and each other, the other half seems to want to sink it by starting Armageddon, because people haven't been following the rules which were written in stone by the shipbuilder. Half of these Christians want to sink the ship, in other words, simply because they want God to drown all of the passengers who are Atheists! And since Christians believe that only a person who "believes" in their God and their religion can go to heaven, for the most part, their desire to sink the ship is not only an attempt to get to heaven, it is also an attempt to savor the revenge of murdering Atheists.

Indeed, for the Atheist, the brutality of Christianity comes from an emotional addiction to the bribe of heaven and the unhinged and irrational fear of the threat of hell. After all, who among us would be willing to throw themselves into eternal hell for the sake of saving all of humanity? Indeed, even Christ is said to have only visited that horrible place for three days, before he decided to get the hell out of there. Hope for the Christian, therefore, means saving the Titanic by forcing everyone to accept their beliefs, so that God won't scuttle the Titanic in a righteous wrath, the same way he allegedly did with Sodom and Gomorrah. Hope for the Atheist, however, is that we will one day learn to put aside such ridicules beliefs, and work together to save each other, and possibly the whole world.  

    

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

To Believe or Not To Believe, That is the Question

Christians often insist that those who chose not to believe something are still choosing to believe in something.  In response to such assertions, Atheists point out that not believing in the tooth fairy is not the same as believing in the tooth fairy.  In truth, the claim by Christians is not as black and white as Christians so often reduce the world to be, nor is it always as simple as the Atheist's reply.

First - If an Atheist chooses not to believe in God, witches, the idea that human beings are "fallen" and "sinful" from birth, that homosexuals are a threat to sexual sanctity and family values everywhere, or that white people constitute a master race because Noah cursed Ham rather than take responsibility for his (Noah's) own drunken nakedness,  it is because the Atheist understands that humanity is not in anyway "improved" by such beliefs; most of which are so obviously rooted in nothing but fear anyway.

Second - The Christian insists, on the other hand, that only by seeing humanity as the miserable sinners the Bible describes us all to be, apriori, can we hope to be saved through the "grace" of a God who first choose to drown almost everyone on the planet, and then later had the Homer Simpson "D'OH!" - "I could'a had a V8" - insight to forgive us all for eating forbidden fruit by masterfully orchestrating the murder of his own son.

That Christians insist such an idea is a philosophically superior starting point for understanding and "saving" humanity from itself (despite how ineffective such an idea has clearly been in doing so up until now) is one of the greatest "mysteries of faith" ever, especially since it is one that has only been around for about two thousand years for the Christian, and a few thousand years or more before that for the Hebrews. This is true, even though humanity has been around for roughly 200,000 years, give or take, and seemed to be evolving along just fine without any such belief. Like the vast majority of religions that preceded Christianity, even Native American tribes thought that adopting such a "belief" seemed not only counterproductive, but rather ridicules.  Indeed, such a belief seemed only to serve the interests of all those who wanted people to believe it.

Yet such an idea asks us, or some instances even requires us, to accept that we are broken and can only be fixed by a particular brand of religious ideology, while all those who see such snake oil spiritualism as simply another cult, wonder how the rest of humanity could have gotten as far as it did without ever having to resort to such a self deprecating belief to begin with.  It also leaves us to wonder if Neanderthals and all the other such early humanoids who lived prior to the advent of our more contemporary religious "beliefs," had "souls" or where simply a kind of human prototype that God was experimenting with before he created the superior being he called "humans," that frustrated him so much with their disobedience that he eventually decide to kill us all.

Third - The Atheist does assert a "belief" when they reject a belief in God, but the "belief" the Atheist is asserting is not that there is no God (as Christians often mistakenly argue), for not believing in something is simply not the same as believing in something, even though the father of modern psychology, William James, brother of writer Henry James, argued that the two ideas were virtually indistinguishable to our minds nevertheless.

What James may well have overlooked, however, is that it is not necessarily the denial of a belief that he observes to be no different from the acceptance of a belief, but that the denial of one belief - in say God, for example - may be accompanied by another belief that often, but not always, takes the place of , say, a belief in God. Those who explain the existence of the universe through the organic process of the Big Bang, for example, may simultaneously "believe" what science suggests, even as they reject the idea that God was the Big Banger who started it all - with a bang!

The error of the Christian, however, is to assume that some other belief must always fill the void left by the absence of a belief in God! Yet this is clearly not the case. For a person can reject both the idea of God and the idea of a Godless "Big Bang," and hold only to their idea that they do not honestly know - or even care - where it all came from, how, or why.  That such a person may still "believe" that people derive no benefit from "believing" in a Bible, or that everyone including homosexuals are "sinners" apriori, may still be a "belief," as the Christians love to assert, but the onus is still on the Christian to explain how, or even why, it is ever better for humanity to believe such nonsense in the first place; especially when such beliefs have clearly come to humanity so late in the game of our evolutionary development. And if Malthus was right about the dangers of overpopulation, then perhaps what humanity needs right now is not less homosexuality, but more. 


 
   

  
 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Sin of the Christian Double Standard on Homosexuality

As I've mentioned in previous posts, Christians conveniently justify their condemnations of homosexuals by insisting they are always "hating the sin but loving the sinner." What this double standard ultimately boils down to is a Christian insisting that their own "belief" about homosexuality is necessarily the right one, and therefore trumps any and all beliefs about homosexuality that happen to be held by homosexuals.

The sin of this double standard comes from Christians who refuse to practice what they preach. That is, the Christian insists that homosexuals can be separated from their homosexuality, even as they deny that a "Christian" can ever be separated from their Christianity.  Instead, any challenge to the belief system of Christianity eventually results in Christians insisting that their "Christian faith" is their identity, and as such, the two cannot be separated. Hence, as the Christian separates homosexuals from their "homosexuality" with all the ease of Moses parting the Red Sea, they likewise insist that separating the Christian from their Christianity is like separating the body and blood of Christ. 

So despite the fact that "loving the sinner and hating the sin" is necessarily fraught with the all too familiar assumption of Christian moral superiority (despite the growing mountain of anthropological, biological, neurological, and zoological evidence to the contrary - all of which the Christian denies with the ease of quoting an antiquated Bible verse), it also illustrates just how brazen Christians can be in refusing to practice what they preach.

This is true, by the way, even if - hypothetically speaking - all possible evidence that humanity could discover, somehow "proved" that homosexuality was an incredibly rare occurrence, limited to and only practiced by a small segment of human beings. For even in that case, such "proof" would do nothing to prove that homosexuality itself, or even homosexual behavior, was in anyway necessarily a "sin," as Christians call it, or in anyway a "behavior" that necessarily leads to the great many "evils" that Christians insist that it does.

In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis argued that those who refuse to accept Christianity are essentially refusing to accept reality itself. In truth, however, given the ever growing amount of evidence for the 'normalcy' of homosexuality as being just another expression of the incredibly dynamic nature of our human sexuality,  and the fact that, however rare or regulated such behaviors have been in certain societies throughout history (most probably "rare" because, in the most intolerant societies of all, it necessarily had to be 'kept in the closet,' so to speak,  and most probably "regulated" or "illegalized" out of the only all too natural sense of fear people have of anything they fail to understand), there is still no evidence to prove that it should be seen as necessarily "sinful" or in anyway "evil" or "harmful" to those consenting individuals who engage in it, or as a necessary moral threat to the societies where it is accepted.

That such Christians simply refuse to accept any of this, out of a preference for the ancient writings of people who clearly shared the same fears and prejudices that they do today, only proves that it is Christians who are actually "refusing to accept reality;" and all out of a preference for the prejudices of the past, and how they chose to believe sex and sexuality should be understood today.  

'But to persever in such obstinate condolment" for one's naive beliefs, to borrow a line from Claudius, "is a course of impious stubbornness." Indeed, as he continues, "it shows a will most incorrect to heaven," and "an understanding simple and unschooled."  In short, it proves that "the only good is knowledge," as Socrates wrote, "and the only evil is ignorance."

Of course, one has to wonder, if these Christians were themselves homosexuals, would they really still hold such views? And more importantly, given the horrendous treatment of homosexuals at the hands of religion over the centuries, and indeed even by science, from at least the 16th century until even today, one has to wonder if it is really better for people, or a society as a whole, to "believe" that homosexuality is something wrong that needs to be corrected, or something normal, that should simply be accepted? And if you were "gay," which "belief" do you think you'd prefer?



 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Why Christianity is More Unnatural Than Homosexuality

I grew up in a family that is about as homophobic as Phil Robertson and the Westboro Baptists, only they're not quite as boisterous about it; at least not in public anyway. They have also conveniently convinced themselves  that their homophobia is really just their unique Christian ability to "hate the sin, but love the sinner" (even though these very same Christians adamantly refuse to accept that people can "hate Christianity, but love the Christian"). 

The sexual superiority complex necessarily relied on by such Christians is, of course, blanketed beneath the lambs wool of the Christian humility of serving "God." They interpret their fear of those who are different, in other words, as simply proof of their intimate knowledge and love of God. And the only thing such Christians are more sure about than that their own personal version of "God" exists, is that such a "God" would never want people to be homosexual - no matter how many homosexuals He continues to create.

These same Christians insist that the Bible is unmistakably clear about God's displeasure with homosexuality. Of course, Christians were also cock sure that the Bible was equally "unmistakably clear" about God's displeasure with witches, and those who questioned a geocentric universe, or the Biblical sanctioning of slavery.  In fact, much like those who burned Bruno at the stake and condemned Galileo for contradicting such Biblical 'facts,' many southern Christian preachers, prior to the Civil War, argued that those who challenged the explicit sanctioning of slavery by the Bible were challenging the very will of God himself. Indeed, that's what pro-slavery southerns like John C. Calhoun and pastor James Henley Thronwell argued at the time.

Yet even though these Christians today (like those in my family, unfortunately) think it is so obvious that those Christians were so "unmistakably" wrong about slavery, witches, and a geocentric universe, and agree that the Bible passages that were used to support such ideas clearly needed to be reinterpreted in light of modern scientific understanding, they automatically reject any such need to reinterpret the biblical passages they tenuously rely on to condemn homosexuality - regardless of how much scientific evidence suggests they should.

According to St. Augustine, refusing to interpret the bible in light of scientific understanding is not only the worst thing a person can do, because it makes such Christians look "ignorant and unlearned," as he put it, it is also proves how often "Christians are mistaken in a subject." As Augustine continued: 

Reckless and presumptuous expounders of Scripture bring about much harm when they are caught in their mischievous false opinions by those not bound by our sacred texts. And even more so when they try to defend their rash and obviously untrue statements by quoting a shower of words from Scripture and even recite from memory passages which they think will support their case ‘without understanding either what they are saying or what they assert with such assurance.’(1 Timothy 1:7)”


Christians assume that homosexuality is "unnatural" in large part because Thomas Aquinas labored for  several long years to mold Greek philosophy to fit Christian theology, despite the fact that Greek civilization never saw homosexuality as the "sin" that Aquinas would use Greek philosophy to "prove" it was. Aquinas not only failed to realize that homosexuality was quite natural to many other cultures - according to anthropological studies of civilizations like Greece and Rome, as well as Asian, African, and even ancient American Indian civilizations - but it was also quite natural to thousands of animal species as well.

Aquinas claimed that homosexuality was a "special sin... against nature" despite the fact that science has shown homosexuality to be all too natural in over 1500 different species of animals, including the closest genetic relative to human beings, the bonobo.

Yet rather than heed St. Augustine's admonition that we must only interpret the Bible in light of scientific understanding, as we have done with slavery, the sun, and even those mentally handicapped people from centuries ago that Christians once burned at the stake as "witches," Christians reject all scientific evidence that in any way diminishes their personal preference for "loving homosexuals" by "hating homosexuality." That no other species on the planet is even close to being as guilty of being as stubborn as the Christian, in this respect, only proves that the most "special sin" of all "against nature" may in fact be Christianity itself.

Songs of the True Believer

The reason it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, is because the ...