Friday, December 31, 2010

We are all connected

I have to tell you, I was moved to tears when I first watched this video last night, something only Mufasa's death in The Lion King has ever managed to do before. The thought that we are intricately and inextricably a part of the universe we live in is a beautiful one, one that is a million times more uplifting, enriching and awe inspiring than anything any religion or god could ever invoke.

As this is my last post of the year, I thought this would be a fitting and inspiring thought to usher in the new year. I wish you all a prosperous, jubilant and discovery filled 2011.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oh the sneaky sons of bastards

So I was planning on refreshing my memory a little and searching for any new advances in astronomy, and so googled "big bang theory". Under the results for the (amazingly funny) sitcom and the Wikipedia article was a promising link: I click it. Read a bit...some things raise a few warning flags, but I read on...surely the science is still yet to come. Ah, finally, a link. But wait, it says "Does God Exist?". I click, but with a measure of trepidation. The site it leads to uses the domain "". By this time my interest has been raised. What are they driving at? By the time I read their "Things to consider" section, I haven't a shadow of a doubt. These are Jesus-folk.

But I just gotta go on. Little to my surprise, the next section is "Holy Bible - God's Word". Obviouser and obviouser. It tries to pretend once again to be impartial and objective, but the fanboyishness becomes glaringly obvious. Nevertheless, I continue to the next section. Reading the title of its first subsection almost makes me gag. I can take no more. But I have a suspicion just where this is going. I keep skimming through each section, noting how each is drawing deeper and deeper into Jesustian lore(and refuting in my head each of the arguments I pick up). Finally, I reach the end, and my suspicions are confirmed. The title of the page? "Become A Christian" (The domain name is now "", having gone through "".

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this was not a scientific site, but an attempt to evangelise and proselytise. Really couldn't help but feel cheated of my valuable time and bandwidth.

This site is obviously misleading: it turns up fifth in the search page and is the first result which isn't a Wikipedia article or about the sitcom, so I'll bet it must get a lot of hits from people just out to discover more about the theory. And if the searcher isn't that well versed in the science of the theory, nor the dishonest arguments used by these fellows, they might leave deceived, or worse, they might be - *gasp!* converted!

I guess I should have heard the warning bells when they called my good buddy Bob Gentry's kookery an "attractive theory" (I'm currently conducting research on his claims with the aim of compiling a de-bunking of one of his videos. Watch this space) right there on the first page. But the prehistoric, recycled arguments in the "Things to consider" section of the next page are what revealed their true colours (idiotic probability calculations being among one of them). The third page, talking about the bible and all, goes on to proclaim the accuracy of the bible and straight out lying that ancient and more recent manuscripts agree with each other(see here). At the end of the jouney, when you click "No" to "Have we managed to suck your brains out yet?", they say "oh, man, we were just like you once, atheists and skeptics and all". That's inconsequential, but I find myself doubting the veracity of that statement.

All in all, a very sneaky, pretty clever ploy by the owners of the site. Still dishonest, though, and misleading, on top of using flawed arguments that have been debunked already at least a million times.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Undercover Bigots

Couldn't help but facepalm, cringe and die a little inside when I watched Prince Africa Zulu lecture Prince Manvendra Singh about the evils of being gay on the BBC show, The Undercover Princes. I guess I can't blame the guy for holding his sentiments(not really his fault, as I will show in a bit), hell, I can't really fault him for airing them either, but what really irked me was what he used as "evidence": the Christian Bible.

Aw shaddup you anti-Christian devil-worshipper, I hear you say. But my frustration is justified. Christianity is a recent import to the continent, one that was brought here through the barrel of a gun. Africans have taken to it way too readily, and it's distorted our own culture until it's almost completely unrecognisable. This reminds me of the oldsters who complain so bitterly about revealing dresses, saying it's "not in our culture". Well guess what, in our culture unmarried women can walk around topless, and it's no biggie!(Best link I could get in a rush. Pics are dead, though. Sorry!)(Besides, I didn't want to gratify your twisted desires, pervert :)

True, homosexuality has always been a taboo in our culture, but the real thing I have an issue with is the lack of progress that's been made during the shift from Traditionalism to Christianity. In reality, the new set of morals introduced by the settlers and missionaries was no less barbaric than the one the native "savages" had been practicing all along. And what makes it worse is just how readily and unquestioningly Africans have taken to this new religion. I noticed how Zulu just kept driving on and on, stopping just short of literally bashing Mani over the head with the bible, taking no heed and seemingly not comprehending that Mani's belief system is entirely different from his, but with just as much merit(assuming Mani is a practicing Hindu).

I felt pretty embarrassed by this. What image of Africans does this paint? That we're a bunch of intolerant wackos hell bent on bludgeoning all others with our (borrowed) beliefs? All the wars, conflicts and insane dictators (most of which are caused or backed by religion) only serve to reinforce that picture. This is why I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that the humanist mission is such an important thing here in Africa. Not only will it serve to end the discrimination of groups living an alternative lifestyle, but it will educate the next generation of leaders, hopefully make them a lot more responsible and able to lift the continent out of its present plight.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorite Christian

My favorite Christian is without a doubt Edward J. Current. I mean, the man is absolutely divinely inspired. His words are without a doubt inspired by the Holy Spirit, and his scathing remarks must send chills down the spines of atheists everywhere! I really respect his stand against the LIE that is SCIENCE, using really amazing psychological arguments that are totally irrefutable. And the icing on the cake is his trademark statement... "Checkmate, atheists!" I'm a football fan, though, so I always say "touchdown, atheists!" instead.

Here's a link to his Youtube.

There's some guy who runs a blog using the name Edward Current, but the content is atheistic. I suspect it might be an impostor, using the man of God's name in vain in order to lure unsuspecting Christians into reading his hateful atheist rubbish. Here's a link to it anyway, so that you can see for yourself this lost soul's heresies and deceptions.

(P.S. Read the background of Edward's youtube page before making any judgements)

Atheist Blogroll Intro

So I've fired off an intro to Mojoey of The Atheist Blogroll. It'll take a while before he posts it up, but I see no harm in posting it here, just to introduce myself and make y'all aware of just why I'm doing this blog thing.

My name is Jabu. I’m an 18 year old atheist from Zimbabwe living in Botswana, Africa. I’m the author of OH MY GOD!!!(Or lack thereof). To fully communicate my reasons for starting this blog, I must tell you a little more about myself. I live in a Christian household, specifically Seventh-Day Adventist, and my family is blissfully unaware of my chosen ideology. The greater majority of my friends are also very religious, most possessing a uniquely African brand of Christian fundamentalism. So I started this blog with a dual purpose: trying to get my friends to seriously think about all the dogma they accept as truth and as a sort of repository of explanations for my lack of faith I can show to my family when the truth finally comes out.

That’s not to say other non-theists, doubters or people just out for a good debate are excluded – you are just as welcome to read, and feel free to follow the blog or subscribe to the feed. An African and ex-Seventh-Day Adventist perspective will permeate my posting, and if you have acquaintances that belong to either party, please do refer them to the blog. Adventism will be a major focus in the blog, as I am constantly bombarded with it, and a pet passion of mine is refuting the pseudoscientific claims constantly being repeated on their TV channels. Adventists are much more difficult to deal with than other Christians, because they not only believe themselves superior to those of other religions, but to other Christians as well.

Anyway, please do visit the blog, follow, and make comments if you feel the urge.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ZOMG(olt) now on the Atheist Blogroll!

So in an attempt to garner readers I've added the blag to the Atheist Blogroll, a "community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world". And it's working: I've had as many hits today as I've had since I started! Visit Deep Thoughts for info on how to join.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

History and Theology: A Jumble of Subjective interpretations II

The Scribes: Subjective Copyists

The versions of historical documents we have today are certainly not originals. Through the ages, books have been copied and recopied for the purposes of dissemination, and in order to replace worn out copies. Throughout this process, overseen by humans without any technical aids, changes must inevitably occur, whether through simple human error or according to some influential individual’s own diabolical ends.

Errors, be they simple linguistic or replication errors, have crept into religious and historical works. For example, interpretations of the Bible differ widely, as translations from one language to another always do. A mere glance at the myriad versions of that particular book is sure to confuse and confound any sane man. Which is correct? Is it, as many ultracon fundamentalists from ‘round the hood would have us believe, the King James version that is the undiluted word of God? Does Jesus speak in thees, thines and thous? Does Job 39:9 speak of a unicorn, an ox or a rhinoceros? These are simply ambiguities in the original language, but there are intentional alterations made to back up a certain viewpoint. Take for example 1 Samuel 20:41. Most translations say that David and Jonathan kissed, and linguists back this interpretation of the original, but the New Living Translation says that they shared a buddy hug, the thought of two men playing tongue twisters (okay, maybe that’s a little exaggeration on my part) seemingly abhorrent to its translators.

There is also much evidence of additions and alterations made in the past to the manuscripts themselves during their replication. These seem to have been made to back up a certain viewpoint, with quite a few presenting one in particular that would prove to be the driving force behind some of the greatest atrocities ever committed.

The first of these forgeries: Jesus’ deity and equality with God seems to have been manufactured some time after he supposedly walked the Earth. Take Luke 3:22. Earlier manuscripts say, “You are my son, today have I begotten thee,” implying that Jesus was not God’s son right up until his baptism, which is when he achieved his “apotheosis”. Yet later manuscripts, on which the majority of modern versions are based, say, “You are my son, whom I love.” This alteration seems to have been made to back up the view that Jesus was God, and was so from the moment of his birth, a view that only became popular among Christians much later after his death.

Another set of alterations describe the period after his supposed rise from the dead. The entirety of John 21, in which Jesus appears to some of the disciples while they are fishing, proclaims Peter as head of the church and prophesies how he would die, and the writer of the gospel is identified, is completely absent from earlier manuscripts. Another notable addition is Mark 16:9-20, in which Jesus gives the Great Commission, which is the basis of the entire evangelical movement which has caused so many of us who really don’t give a flying filbert so much grief.

Now for the biggest, and most controversial supposed alteration. This has to do with one of the biggest criticisms of the Bible and Christianity as a whole. Yep, we’re talking about the issue of patriarchy and misogyny as practiced by the Good Fellows of the Pan-Millennial Bible Writers Club. Misogyny in the Old Testament is well known: I mean, the fellows made no attempt whatsoever to hide it (‘tis the woman who tempted the man to eat the forbidden fruit, all sorts of weird rules in Leviticus about being “unclean” that seem to single women out more than men, like how a woman is unclean for longer after giving birth to a girl than she is for a boy, arranged and forced marriages, and so on, and so on, and so on, and so on...).

But that’s just the Old Testament, the Christians say. Jesus changed all that stuff, and we make use of the New Testament. But closer inspection shows that the New Testament isn’t all that different. Sure, it’s a little watered down and marginally better than the crazy crap you find in the OT, but it’s still there, and definitely abhorrent by today’s standards. This isn’t an attack on biblical misogyny, though. That’s the subject of a whole different post.

The insertion of passages ostensibly perpetuating misogyny is a recurring thread in the New Testament’s history. For example, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, the infamous 1 Corinthians:34-35, the one which states how women are not allowed to participate in Church discussions, is entirely absent from earlier manuscripts of the epistle.

By far one of the most famous controversies surrounding the bible is the apparent smear campaign on Mary Magdalene, made famous by Dan Brown’s The da Vinci Code. Whole swaths of verses connected to her were seemingly added on to the gospel centuries after they were written: they are completely absent from earlier manuscripts! Take John 8:1-11 for example, the parable of the woman found in adultery. It is not even clear whether this woman was even Mary, but the connection seems to have been made by the early church. Well, it is definite that this woman cannot have been whom it is claimed, because this passage was fabricated some time much later. Also of note is Mark 26:9-23, which I have already mentioned. This passage contains an additional smear of Mary, stating that Jesus drove seven demons out of her. These (apparent) forgeries, coupled with the exclusion of gospels presenting Mary as much more than a simple acquaintance of Jesus certainly lend credence to parts of Dan Brown’s theory, though I still have my reservations on certain details.

The presence of forgeries also raises an interesting dilemma for the fundamentalist Christian. If a Liberal or non-Christian raises the example of misogyny as a reason for not basing their morality on the Bible, the fundie cannot say that the given examples are forgeries, for that is a challenge to the Biblical Inerrancy the Fundie holds dear, which is in and of itself another reason for one not to base their entire existence on what the bible says. But this is the topic of another essay entirely.

Now, you may have noticed that I pretty much entirely used the Judeo-Christian scriptures as an example of changes made through the ages. Some may then go on to accuse me of harbouring specifically anti-Christian sentiments, but any such accusations would be misplaced. Yes, the Christian faith does hold a special place in my heart as the one in which I have been so long incarcerated and has forced me to live an emotionally draining double life, but these emotional reasons are not the only ones. The Bible is the only religious text I have read in full (unless The Secret counts) and I simply have no experience of others. I have only read excerpts of the Koran, and snippets of other religious texts that give the gist of what they have to say, hence are not really qualified to offer a full-on exegesis of their flaws and issues. I can only defer to those who have had more experience with them.

I also need to touch on the possibility of small errors creeping into the works over time. The versions of texts we have today are copies of copies of copies to the nth factor. Undoubtedly, in the process of copying these texts, accidental errors have crept in, incrementally adding up to something quite different from the original. But mere error can only alter a work so far, and I don’t believe they are such a large factor in alteration of historical texts.

The bottom line of all this is that most, if not all ancient texts we possess have been unavoidably adulterated in the process of preserving them for future generations, not just for religious texts but pure historical ones as well. This has been for various reasons, some decidedly sinister, some merely political while others may have been well-meaning but ultimately deviated from the facts or at least the original content. I see no problem in people extracting bits of these ancient texts which are compatible with their own morals and today’s more enlightened society, and applying them to their own philosophy, but to insist on calling them inerrant and hinging one’s entire existence upon them is folly indeed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weird and Wonderful Woo from All Around The World

We Africans have some very odd beliefs:

For some reason the primeval MWUETSI was popped into the bottom of a lake along with a horn of Ngona oil. This is amazingly fertile stuff and soon the lake was full of aquatic life. But MWUETSI complained bitterly. Not only were living conditions far too damp, he had gone right off raw fish suppers.
placed against some Middle-Eastern beliefs...:

In the beginning, YAHWEH created the Heavens and the Earth. It only took him six days with no hired help. He also found the time to include incontrovertible evidence of a Big Bang, presumably to annoy future cosmologists...

...they really don't look so bad, do they?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Of wimminz deacons

I actually enjoyed myself at church today. Apparently, the Seventh-Day Adventist church now ordains female deacons! So there was quite a debate at White City church here in Francistown, and things did get pretty heated. The discussion soon devolved into one of those arguments you always see on the internet that aren't quite flame wars but neither party wants to budge and so they keep slinging the same arguments back and forth for an interminable period. Sheesh, it ended up taking more than half the time of what was supposed to be an orientation of officers!

But why this uproar, one may ask? Why should there be such a fracas over such a simple and just thing as equal recognition of the sexes? I'll tell you why. This strikes at the very heart of the conflict between biblical literalism and literalism. I mean, face it - the bible clearly says to women: You Are Inferior. You are -4 str, and you should STFU when in church (1 Cor 14:34-35).

This move is a departure from the literalism of old, which is the very foundation upon which the SDA church was built, and as expected, most of the opposition (which was futile because The General Conference Is God) came from the oldsters (one old lady was particularly vociferous in her criticisms). In my opinion, though, this is a most excellent move, hopefully the first step on the road to throwing off the shackles of literalism for another globe-spanning community of Jebus Freeks. I even joked a bit o Facebook that come another five years, they'll be accepting evolution. Well, maybe not in five years. Maybe some time in the next 50-100, when Jebus hasn't come and the whole world hasn't turned on them at the behest of the Antichrist.