Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Watch out for those "duendes"

What could those critters be?

Judge Floro Florentino is not too pleased with his three spiritual guides being referred to as dwarves or duende, as superstitious Filipinos call these elf-like beings. His brother [Robert], who first saw them, called them duende, a Spanish word of ambiguous definition.

To Filipinos, they are something like tiny magical goblins who live in forested areas. There are, according to folklore, two types: black, denoting evil which can harm, and red, who are good and can heal.

Please don't laugh. I assure you we're all going to see magical goblins including Floro's three ethereal friends Luis, Armand and Angel very soon. Mark your calendars, folks. October 31 is the red letter day.

Coming very soon

Sometime ago the best-stocked bookstore in town told me Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion would be arriving in September. Well, I'm still waiting. Fortunately, the BBC is giving a sneak preview.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I'm sure Christians are just dying to kiss the face of Jesus

This is Angus

And this is his heinie. Lookie who's appeared.

Indeed the ways of God are mysterious.

(via Unscrewing the Inscrutable)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The 3rd Testament law: Thou shalt cherry-pick from the Old and New as you please

In a discussion board, a Filipino bible thumper was instructing a fellow Christian. The lesson for the day: men ought to wear men's clothing and women should stick to women's clothing. He zeroed in on the divine ordinance prohibiting women from wearing pants, since pants are--obviously--a male thing. According to this Xian, his fashionista deity had already set the eternal apparel trend and we alter/trangress it only at our peril:

A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for all who do this are an offense to the Lord your God. (Deut. 22:5)

Donna Karan, Dolce y Gabbana, Versace, ... --you're all going to be cutting nothing but loincloths in hell!

I'm a little curious though as to whether this non-crossdressing Xian is really a devotee and is truly faithful to God's will. For instance a couple of verses down, among the stipulations in the Christian Building Code (eternal edition) is:

If you build a new house, you must construct a guard rail around your roof to avoid bringing culpability to yourself in the event someone should fall from it. (Deut. 22:8)

Does his home comply with this provision? Well, I've been looking around the metro taking note of any railings around roofing shingles and corrugated galvanized iron sheets that crown people's abodes. I must say I have yet to see this safety regulation complied with in--as I hear--a land where over 90% are Christian woowoos. Tsk, tsk. I'm really disappointed how His children are blatantly disregarding this very explicit instruction of His.

But what about other commandments of this deity, as in the following? Does he obey and enforce them?

If it should come to your attention in one of your cities that the Lord your God is giving you as a place to live that some evil people have departed from among you to entice the inhabitants of their cities, saying, “Let’s go and serve other gods whom you have not known before,” you must investigate thoroughly and inquire carefully. If it is true and certain that this abomination is being done among you, you must by all means slaughter the inhabitants of that city with the sword; put under the divine curse everyone in it, even the livestock, by the sword. You must collect all of its spoil into the middle of the plaza and burn the city and all its spoil as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It will be an abandoned ruin forever—it must never be rebuilt again. (Deut. 13:12-16)

If a person has a stubborn, rebellious son who pays no attention to his father or mother, and they discipline him to no avail, his father and mother must seize him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his city. They must declare to the elders of his city, “Our son is stubborn and rebellious and pays no heed to what we say—he is a glutton and drunkard.” Then all the men of his city must stone him to death. (Deut. 21:18-21)

Or say, His culinary laws? Is this Xian keeping himself gustatorily pure in the eyes of his god?

You must not eat any forbidden thing (Deut. 14:3)

The pig, though it has parted hooves, does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean to you. You may not eat their meat or even touch their remains. (Deut. 14:8)

These you may eat from among water creatures: anything with fin and scale you may eat, but whatever does not have fin and scale you may not eat; it is unclean to you. (Deut. 14:10)

I don't know about the Xian above, but I'd like to poll the audience. Christians who have never tasted and promise never to dig into roast pig, adobong baboy (pork in soy sauce), dinuguan (pig's blood stew), ham, bacon, sausage, chorizo, chicharon (cracklings), crabs, shrimps, prawns, clams, mussels, oysters, lobsters, scallops, abalones, crayfish, ... please raise your hands. Don't be shy now. No false humility, ok?

Hmmm, I don't see any hands going up. Guess there aren't Christians in this crowd. You must all be Hindus then. Namaste, cow worshippers! Shall we all skip on over to McDonald's for burgers? My treat.

Tell me, How will your brain be reconstituted once it's been devoured by worms and bacteria?

When I swat a housefly dead, does it go to a heaven for flies? And do I, as punishment, get damned to some Almighty Fly's hell to be tormented for eternity by a swarm of giant impish bugs with menacing compound eyes, spiny legs, and razor sharp mandibles? Yikes! Talk about fear factor!

Why is it that out of the millions of species on Earth (and in the universe) only one gets to live again after it dies (whatever that means)? And why is it that it just happens to be the species that's making the afterlife claim? Fishy, ain't it? And how in the universe do decomposed corpses, skeletons, and fossils even, get regenerated into the very same organism--inclusive of memory and personality?

Richard Dawkins says, "Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end." Indeed, how can any rational adult who has time and again seen dead cats, dogs, birds, fishes, cows, pigs, dead relatives, and has read something about how the brain is the seat of memory and personality, and has in high school studied the processes of scavenging and bacterial decomposition, sanely harbor the idea that dead Homo sapiens can and will somehow come back to life. Madness!

Many thank the high heavens they are in their right minds. But a survey of the people around the world and their beliefs reveals that most humans cherish beliefs that are patently crazy and absurd. Apparently, we live in a world where the majority are possessed by their delusions. All too many naively invest their hearts and minds in beliefs that they like and wish to be true, but for which they have no shred of evidence. I guess such is the status quo of the evolution of human gray matter.

An old Chinese proverb

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a man a religion and he'll starve to death praying for a fish.

--Judith Bandsma

And so too he'll pray relentlessly for cures to every disease. Funny though. It isn't until hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers rack their brains and work their butts off that surefire, readily available cures start arriving.

Funny too that this man brings his dengue/leukemia/appendicitis/gastroenteritis/ ... -stricken daughter to the ER and then prays. A man of little faith in the power of prayer and in his omnipotent deity indeed!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Perks of being the best in fighting imaginary fiends

78-year old Fr. Gabriele Amorth is the Vatican's chief exorcist.

[H]e is considered the world's leading expert on problems concerning Satan and his evil activity against mankind. He is the 'doctor' par excellence for illnesses caused by evil, the 'surgeon' who knows how to root them out, fight and prevent them.

Proudly wearing it as a badge on his sleeve Amorth brags of having performed some 70,000 exorcisms in his lifetime. If we assume he started emancipating hapless souls from possession at the age of 18, it comes out he's been averaging 3 exorcisms a day every single day including Sundays for the past 60 years! This guy certainly wins hands down, outclassing Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Spiderman, and all the DC Comics superheroes combined.

James Randi blurts:

I can hardly believe that I, a grown man, will sit here at my keyboard seriously discussing with other grownups the notion of demons inhabiting a human body, demons that can be banished by saying special words and sprinkling “holy” water… I have to look at the calendar on the wall and move back into the 21st century! And there is a vast, wealthy, flourishing organization headquartered in Rome, Italy, that supports this farce…?

So tell me again, Why is it that relgionists must check their brains at the church door?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

End of the world? Very soon!

A couple of months ago a religious sect predicted that mushroom clouds would be sprouting the world over no later than a day after 9-11. So you thought now that Sept 12 has come and gone the House of Yahweh and its band of deluded devotees would wake up to reality. Fat chance! Never underestimate the tenacity of delusions, particularly of the religious. As Randi would say woowoos are unsinkable rubber ducks.

Unable to deny that there have been no new Hiroshimas and Nagasakis, the House of Yahweh now claims the end of the world is just around the bend, or more precisely, within 100 days. Guess, we'll have to forget about Christmas shopping (oh how I wish!). This winter is going to be the mother of all winters; a very cold and dark nuclear winter that is.
"We previously thought it (the world) would end on the night of September 12th but it failed to happen. We have given it the next 100 days. Within that period, he says, we're foreseeing powerful nuclear weapons which will strike the world and bring it to an end," Mosheh Sang, the sect leader in Njoro said.
The billion excuses that woowoos resort to after cognitive dissonance hits them are sooooo lame and soporific. Wonder what rationalization the House of Yahweh will cook up when we start welcoming 2007.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bet this cranky, fussy deity always has a bad hair day

I wouldn't have believed it had it not been pointed out by a Christian in all seriousness. Looks like Mr. Incompetent Designer not only designs earthquakes, tsunamis, cancer and hereditary diseases, he's into coiffure as well. According to the bible thumper his master wants females to sport long hair (must be in the in-thing--eternally that is--up there), while he demands males to have theirs trimmed short.

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her for her hair is given her for a covering (1 Cor 11:14-15).

Spelling it out, the toadie said it's a sin to trangress these hair laws. Ok, ladies. You heard your Lord and Master. Bob cut is definitely out. And you can bet your curly locks Sinead O'Connor's already been booked on the train to the infernal concentration camp.

Hey, wait a minute. How about this dude?!

Uh oh. Supposedly spotless, the Son in fact isn't immaculate at all! And I thought teaching by example is the best way of educating humans. All well, hypocrisy does run in his family. Try emulating his dad's killing spree and see where that lands you.

(Since he's already sporting a woman's hairdo why not go all the way and have the Second Person of the Trinity in drag?).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In the end it wasn't a croc that got him

I actually shouldn't be shocked, knowing that the kind of work he's into is probably more life threatening than police work. Putting your life in harm's way isn't an advisable formula for longevity. But still I was in disbelief when I heard on tv that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin passed away yesterday. Apparently, the barb on the tail of a stingray he was following pierced his heart. I hate to say "appropriately" but he got whacked while filming an episode of "Ocean's Deadliest." He was 44 and his eldest child is only 8.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hubbard's here

Visited the book fair held at the World Trade, Roxas Blvd last Saturday. Saw a number of wannabuys. But as expected books have become too unaffordable. I did manage to find a bargain--a local reprint of the seventh edition (2004) of Critical Thinking by Moore and Parker, so I didn't leave empty-handed.

What made this year's book fair stand out for me (and the reason for this entry) was the presence of an exhibitor I might've missed had the sales reps not been handing out promotional material. That exhibitor is the Hubbard Dianetics Center of the Philippines.Yep, it's a local branch of the organization by science-fiction writer and Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard (1911 - 1986).

As the guy was handing me their newsletter he asked whether I'd like to have a "stress test." I could see one willing male victim seated and wired to a small desktop gizmo no bigger than a portable typewriter. Though I never inquired, I bet that's one of the latest models of Scientology's infamous and ridiculous E-meter--a glorified and insanely overpriced ohmmeter. Pressed for time and not at all in the mood to stress these guys out, I declined the offer to be another gullible guinea pig of the day. Feigning ignorance I asked the other rep whether they were in any way connected with Scientology. She enthusiastically replied they indeed were. She then politely asked why I was inquiring. Trying to find the right word, it took me a couple of seconds before I answered, "Because Scientology's kooky." Her brows shot up and I could see her mouth go, "Oh," but I guess my reply had inadvertently clicked the mute button. How I wish I could just as easily silence all the woowoos and quacks out there. Yeah, in my dreams!

Apparently, the company's main product is Hubbard's Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, available through them or through your neighborhood reap-more-profit-by-selling-as-much-poppycock branches of National Bookstore, Power Books, and Goodwill Bookstore. At PhP395.00 (USD7.80) a pop you'd think it's a bargain, but this 600-page wad of toilet paper's just a little too steep for me. Besides, my tushie's a tad sensitive to newsprint.

In the handout local celebrities Joey Ayala (composer and musician) and Ernie Reyes, Jr. (martial artist and actor) effusively endorse dianetics. Just goes to show being good in a certain craft or discipline and being famous don't translate into being critically minded and smart when it comes to assessing allegedly "scientific" claims. Brings to mind the baking engineer I studied under who believes in evil spirits, in blessings with holy water to rid abodes of such malevolent entities, and in the ludicrous yarn that Proctor and Gamble had a pact with the devil. An expert in technical stuff he was; totally bonkers when it came to mythology and folklore.

According to the Dianetics Center of the Philippines,
Dianetics is not psychology, it is not psychiatry, it is not psychoanalysis. Dianetics counseling does not use hypnotherapy, trance techniques, meditation or positive thinking. Dianetics does not involve drugs, supplements, or fasting. To use Dianetics you don't have to change your diet, your lifestyle or your religion. Dianetics is a science of the mind, based on the natural laws of the mind and employs an ability every person has but rarely uses.
Note that they claim dianetics is a science. But as Robert Carroll rightly points out Dianetics is in fact pseudoscience, because it doesn't offer evidence and is in many ways nontestable.
What Hubbard touts as a science of mind lacks one key element that is expected of a science: empirical testing of claims. The key elements of Hubbard's so-called science don't seem testable, yet he repeatedly claims that he is asserting only scientific facts and data from many experiments. It isn't even clear what such "data" would look like. Most of his data is in the form of anecdotes and speculations....
Testimonials, as those by Ayala, Reyes, et al. are hardly scientific evidence. We can find testimonials from people given sham treatments and placebos or even from people who've taken poisons such as arsenic. On the contrary, the only scientific study of dianetic therapy showed it had no effect upon intellectual functioning, mathematical ability, or personality conflicts.

I wonder whether this company is just trying to sell as many copies of Hubbard's books and materials or whether it has long term plans of establishing the Church of Scientology in this country. Well, we can thank such meatheads as Tom Cruise and John Travolta for keeping this woo alive. Thank singer David Pomeranz as well for promoting it in the Philippines. Most of all, thank the Intelligent Designer for deliberately leaving out critico-scientific thinking as an innate skill in his beloved Homo sapiens.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

This priest should've taken swimming lessons

This must be a joke. Then again the religious are famous for being total nutcases. Seriously, how can anyone be so utterly stupid and deluded to believe that he can walk on water?

A PRIEST has died after trying to demonstrate how Jesus walked on water.

Evangelist preacher Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle.

But he drowned after walking out to sea from a beach in the capital Libreville in Gabon, west Africa.

One eyewitness said: "He told churchgoers he'd had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could walk on water like Jesus.

"He took his congregation to the beach saying he would walk across the Komo estuary, which takes 20 minutes by boat.

"He walked into the water, which soon passed over his head and he never came back."

I bet his congregation is mourning ... his lack of faith.