Friday, December 07, 2007

Vale this blog

And hello Wordpress. Five Public Opinions has moved here. Please update your links & c. & c.. Read more!

I've had it!!

Fuck you, Blogger. I'm moving to Wordpess!

And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Now this is magical thinking I can respect!

Indigenous Australians pay their respects to the former member for Bennelong. (Via Oz Atheist)

Howard vs. Aboriginal Australians

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some random, not very well-thought-out thoughts . . .

On blasphemy laws

A reasonable test of a nation's commitment to liberal democracy is the existence or otherwise of a blasphemy law on its statutes.

A reasonable test of an individual or organisation's commitment to liberal democracy is their willingness to bring a blasphemy suit against another individual or organisation.

On Foucault
I think the validity of Foucault’s work depends to a great degree upon how you approach it. Foucauldian theory as science? Category mistake. Foucauldian theory as a way–but certainly not the only way–of storytelling/interpreting history and culture? Far more valuable.

On Plato
What assumptions do I have about Plato? Not being very knowledgeable about him, just this one: his concept of Forms constitutes maybe the greatest blind alley in the history of Western philosophy, and has been an absolute boon to magical/dogmatic thinking for millennia.

(UPDATE) On the mall shooting
I blame secularism. Not for any good reason, mind you--I just wanted to get in ahead of the conservapundits. (Or have I already been beaten to the punch?)

The Simpsons and Philosophy

Sesame Street and Philosophy

Monty Python and Philosophy

Ben Folds and Philosophy

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Wonderful World of Magical Thinking XXXV

The week in fundie . . .

  1. The Unintentional Irony award goes to the opponents of the International Baccalaureate curriculum at a high school in Upper St Clair, Pennsylvania, who appear to be of the view that it comes straight from Chairman Mao:
    "The IB program is anti-American. It does not teach the basic patriotic values of the United States," said Judy Brown, 64, a retired merchandising and sales representative who has a daughter that attended Upper St. Clair schools. "It's almost like brainwashing."
    A hostile board member was heard to utter:
    "Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very word of God who cannot lie;" and, "Jesus Christ as the redeemer of man is the center and purpose of human history. That is why all authentically religious tradition must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it."
    Got that? Not forcing Jeebus and flag-waving patriotism down the throats of students constitutes "brainwashing." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
  2. A Catholic bishop in Chicago is seeking legal changes that would shield Church institutions from having to pay out "excessive damages" in sex abuse lawsuits, on the grounds that they "jeopardize the mission of the church" and hence "place an excessive burden on the free exercise of religion for American Catholics." Oh, please. If the Catholic church wishes to minimise the damages resulting from sex abuse lawsuits, the answer is absurdly simple: it needs to stop engaging in or sheltering the perpetrators of sexual abuse. (Chicago Tribune, via the Atheist Experience)
  3. Sherri Shepherd, who is proving herself to be someone you want in your corner should you ever find yourself playing team Trivial Pursuit, opines: "I don't think anything predated Christians." The Greeks? The Romans? "Jesus came before them." Shepherd is quite the polymath: not only is she full-bottle on world history, she's also formidable on the earth sciences. (The Huffington Post, via Pharyngula)
  4. Florida's Palm Beach Community College refuses to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. It is more than willing, however, "to offer workers insurance for their pets." (, via
  5. A Saudi appeals court judge has threatened to sentence a rape victim to death if she appeals against her current sentence of 200 lashes and six months in prison for "illegal mingling" with an unrelated male. (via Bartholomew's Notes on Religion)

Just to make it worth your while . . .

Pat Condell on Catholic morality

The videos of this year's Beyond Belief conference are now available online.

Read more!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Subversive Muse's "Short Critique of Science" series

Just quickly--Rae at Subversive Muse has written a series of posts "from a critical left-wing perspective" on atheism, science and religion. I've expressed my objections to Rae's arguments--I think they basically misrepresent science (it is taken as axiomatic in this series of posts that science is "an ideology," whereas I think this needs to be argued for/demonstrated) and critique a strawman definition of atheism--and I know Bruce (who is more well-versed on this topic than I am) is preparing a response at his blog. Brian at Primordial Blog has written a thoughtful response as well.

Just to make it worth your while (and Rae, I'm not lumping you in with these guys!), here are some Youtube dispatches from the war on science:

"The Evangelical War on Science"

"The Republican War on Science"

Read more!

Highlights from the comments at Catch the Fire (before they're disappeared)

Catch The Fire has been getting a lot of traffic, it appears, since it became apparent to all and sundry that God/Pastor Nalliah backed the wrong horse in the recent Federal Election. The administrators appear to have relaxed their unstated ban on critical comments, for now, and you can find some of those at the end of this post. But most of the following extracts of comments are from true believers, responding to Nalliah's "explanation" for the miserable failure of his pre-election prophecy. I've separated them into categories . . .

Why, God? Why?

Many people from a number of Churches were gathering over a period of time and praying taht “God’s will would be done at this election”.

Does God not place any value on our prayers? (Richard--who I suspect might be one of ours)

Stock-standard lunacy
Apparently a psychic predicted a Rudd win. That alone tells me what Rudd is about and that I don’t want to be on side with these occult voices. (Aurora)

We were spoken to through Judges 20 in that there must be determination that the battle must continue, regardless of the defeats, for in this passage the Lord says go up, but they were slaughtered – and yet they came together as one nation – almost – at the time. Later you find they were not all together – there were still those who were not with them in chapter 21. But God gave them victory regardless – the third time. We also had a dream of 3 snakes which looked fierce but were easily destroyed. So, we continue to pray the prayers we were supplied with before the election, but must now pray them in the context of what the Lord will do. He is the God of miracles. (Ken & Adrianne)

I agree with what you have said, and I must admit when I heard the news of Labor’s victory, I was led to read from Lamentations. I believe God was grieving as I was. (Trisha)

Lawyering for Jesus
Some people may not be aware that prophecy is conditional: upon both prayer and obedience.(Pastor Marilyn McKenny)

I noted that when you declared what the Lord had told you, you included the word “IF”. While some would see this as a disclaimer for you to dodge criticism should the prophetic word not come to pass – the “IF” is meant to be an encouragement & motivation to the Church. 2 Chron 7:14 is an example of this type of condition. “IF my people….. etc”. Obviously, the condition was not met.(Pastor Bob Cotton, another Lawyer for Jesus)

We have had situations the same , where God made his will known but it went the other way because no one was listening or prophecies were misinterpreted through poor theology, or prayer was weak . (Des & Christine Gibson)

…. you did not get it wrong….. we the body of Christ did - oh for ears that will listen. (Allen Moore)

Thankyou O servant of the Most High God.
I don’t believe you got it wrong. I’ve never heard God say “oops”. (Robyn)

A while ago, before I knew of your election prophecy I had a vision of John Howard standing defeated he was a broken man in my vision weeping and worn out. It then troubled me because of what your prophecy had declared, I thought how could 2 opposite things come from the same source of eternal truth?

After you had pointed out that the lack of unity in the Body was the cause for Labor’s win (and many other problems we are facing) it brought a sense of peace(knowing that this vision was correct and from our Lord) and sadness too for I had wanted the Liberal party to win also. (Andrew, on how the power of Christ can resolve glaring contradictions)

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt
The people have demanded a king and God has given us one (I Sam 8) . You, the prophet, has faithfully warned the nation, but God is preparing David, even while Saul is in power. (Jill)

As to your question did I vote them in no I personally didn’t, I advised people who would listen and my children to vote family first so as not to go down the road of lust and lies in human nature so called…. My children listened but most others didn’t, while handing out how to vote cards for family first only over a period of 2 hours 2 people only asked for family first the rest graciously took all information handed to them.
Sadly we now have a party that tends to sway against biblical values and advise, but like the good book says it is our job as believers to continue to pray for the government elect and let the Lord God Jesus stir their waters and relies their ways, not to implement change that will bring the Christians
Down as God the Almighty will not allow this to happen and bad times will fall upon them in sickness and decease (Argument from consequences from Sharon)

The Lord said to me the problem is the state of the hearts & the sin of His people who are blinded and have voted foolishly, so the Lord will have to allow the people to learn the hard way & to actually have to wake up by personal suffering & experience….
I too and many ohters I have spoken to suffered greatly on that first night really struggling with the Lord…and on Sunday night, the Lord lead me to Jn 11 and the Lazarus story, yet again (Emphasis and hyperlink added. Very cheeky, Hilary)

Praise the Lord and pass the tinfoil
I think we actually are going to experience some things that we need not have endured… ( like the 40 years in the wilderness.. due to the idolitary etc.. .. reminds me too ” oh foolish Galations.. who has bewitched you”…)
I also really feel deeply for John Howard,. (Me too, Marg. Me too.)

Very well written - couldn’t agree more; this nation is headed straight toward end times and has joined the ranks - need we have been surprised? (John & Louise)

I could hardly sleep last Saturday night for anguish as to what was happening in the election. I saw the jubilation from the Labor camp as releasing a demonic flow over the country, a vicious rabble that had been waiting, scrapping behind the starting barriers, to burst out upon their legal release: the announcement of Labor victory. They knew they were about to get freedom. They had already cornered and achieved confusion in Howard who, not having enough knowledge or power through the Holy Spirit, had crumbled on some major as well as minor issues, providing further fuel for the blind amongst Christian brothers and sisters to vote against him.(Clare)

Some months before the election I talked with a spirit-filled pastor who has a lot of contact with parliamentarians in Canberra. Not long beforehand he had been phoned up by Kevin Rudd asking for prayer. It wasn’t my place to ask more, but the pastor volunteered that Kevin Rudd was unequally yoked to Julia Gillard. She represents the socialist left wing of the Labour Party. While not electable in her own right as a Prime Minister, I expect she will use her anti-Christian influence as Jezebel did through Ahab. (Malcolm McCaskill)

Your reference to “wolves in sheep’s clothing” is particularly appropriate as this is the tactic used by the Fabian Society in the world and Australia - to subtly infiltrate the key areas of society and gain social change and power. I understand that the Fabian Society’s original symbol was a wolf in sheep’s clothing but was changed as this was too obvious to what they were on about. The Fabian Society has a long history of anti-Christian activity (including shocking acceptance of depraved sexual practices), and I understand that the current membership of the Australian branch is composed of Gough Whitlam (president) and a number of former Labor prime ministers. The Fabian Society’s links and debt to Lenin is alive and well, and their influence on the Labor spirit is also alive and well.

The Labor Party is actually not a political party at all - it masquerades as one. It is a religious party with its doctrine being humanism, atheism, and naturalism, and its god is man (that is, the glorification of man to solve all problems in the world and society to the blasphemous exclusion of its Creator - God). (David)

The Father did not ask His Children for much, not as much as His has asked of others; He did not ask us to be imprisoned for this election/He did not ask us to give our life for this election/No, all He asked was that we follow His Will (He wasn’t taking our freedom of choice He would never do that, He gave us a choice: Follow His Will/Don’t follow His Will)…it was all very simple what He was asking His people.

We as the Father’s Children were meant to stand in the gap for those who don’t know Him. (Cindy. That's chilling.)

But I wonder how long the following comments will last . . .

Thank you for the explaination. But why are you so frightened by the ALP win?

I am a Christian - and I don’t believe I have to be Right-Wing to be so. I probably did not vote the way you did. Does this mean, in your mind, that I am not a listening, committed Christian.

I have close connections with your home country Sri Lanka. And I have seen what awful things happen in that nation when the Buddhists try to be involved in politics.

You claim that your prophecy regarding John Howard being elected was stymied by the Christians who did not agree with you. Were they not listening to God?

It is right that we test prophecy. I am sure you agree. Do you know that many Christians and Christian leaders in this nation were praying for an end to dishonest government and trusted that God would work through Kevin Rudd, another Christian?

Are we wrong and you are right? Have you seriously searched your heart about this? (Bryan)

I thought the correct answer was YES I did get it wrong!!!

However you won’t publish any comments that differ from your point of view.

Thank God that His wisdom is greater than your’s. I will pray for you. (Rod)

I know the Lord has plans for good for all who follow his word and accept his son Jesus. You spoke at my church and I believe your prophesy extended to Peter Costello. Could you please comment.

Also you published on your website a prophesy of Kenneth Copeland:

“God’s man in Australia stood up and publicly declared Australia a Christian nation! ‘If you want to come here and join us in our Christian faith you are welcome here but don’t think you can come in here and try and force some other religion here on us and don’t think you are going to tell us how to believe God and who we are going to worship.’ He publicly did that,

now this is no time for that man to be defeated. Well he’s not going to be. Amen.

He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. He is Lord over Australia! It has been announced! Amen.”

It would appear this prophesy was false? Could you please comment. (Brendan Willis)

Commenter James Garth published his "Open Letter to Pastor Nalliah" on his own blog.
Read more!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pope Benedict's reductio ad Hitlerum

I understand that there are historical reasons why when the Pope holds forth on a given topic, the world's media bends over backwards to report it. After all, his predecessors were once upon a time the most powerful leaders in the world. And yet it still bothers me that his banal brand of magical thinking is deemed newsworthy.

His latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, is being represented by many media outlets as a scathing attack on atheism, in response to the success of recent atheism-themed books by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. Talk about being hit with a wet newspaper . . .

The atheism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is—in its origins and aims—a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history. A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God. It is for the sake of morality that this God has to be contested.
Do we not hear in these words the echo of a thousand online "concern troll" theists? "I understand: you're an atheist because you're angry at God. It can't possibly be because of the lack of evidence that a God exists. So it must be the anger thing."
Since there is no God to create justice, it seems man himself is now called to establish justice. If in the face of this world's suffering, protest against God is understandable, the claim that humanity can and must do what no God actually does or is able to do is both presumptuous and intrinsically false. It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice; rather, it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.
No, Benedict: a world which has to create its own justice--and is aware of that fact--is a world that has finally weaned itself off the teat of religious dogma, cast aside the security blanket, and grown up. The cruelty and violations of which you speak--namely those caused by totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century--are simply the fruits of one set of dogmas being replaced with another. I'll say that again so that it might sink in. The cruelty and violations of which you speak are the fruits of dogma, not atheism. Your mistake is in your severe tunnel-vision, which is such that you cannot begin to countenance the thought that we might cast aside dogmatic thought altogether. Read more!

Vale Dogma Free America

Sad news on the atheism/freethought podcasting front: Dogma Free America is no more. It celebrated its fiftieth and final episode on November 22nd, with producer and host Rich Orman claiming that the podcast was taking up too much of his time. DFA's shows weren't theme-based or guest-based like Freethought Radio and The Non-Prophets, and mainly consisted on commentary on the latest news concerning magical thinking and theocracy. DFA also canvassed more international (read: non-US) news than other podcasts, and often ran stories on religious violence in sub-Saharan Africa (usually perpetrated against individuals suspected of "witchcraft"), as well as atrocities perpetrated by theocracies in the Islamic world. Hence, Christian listeners might (I imagine) have found it more even-handed than other non-theist podcasts.

For mine, however, the pick of the podcasts is still The Atheist Experience, which is actually a live cable access TV program screening in Austin, Texas. The Atheist Experience, as the site indicates, is "geared at a non-atheist audience," with a view to clearing up misconceptions about atheism as well as countering religious apologetics (current host Matt Dillahunty is an ex-fundie and his Biblical knowledge is very effective in this regard), addressing church-state separation issues and commenting on the latest in fundamentalist idiocy. Very entertaining--especially when the presenters engage with religious callers. Read more!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In which Pastor Nalliah 'splains hisself.

God: Attorney At Law

Pastor Nalliah's first post-election contribution to the Catch a Fire blog is titled:
Election 2007 - Did I get it wrong?
Yes, you did, Danny. Yes, you did.

Ordinarily you would expect someone who has been as comprehensively embarrassed by the facts as Nalliah to pack up his revival tent and slither away quietly into the night with what remains of the smoking ruins of his credibility. But Nalliah still has gallons of snake-oil to sell, and legions of gullible halfwits who are simply gagging for the stuff. And so he returns to "help you in better understanding the results of the Election 2007."

He opens with persecution mania and an appeal to pity. In spite of "the fiery storm of accusation, criticism and persecution," [INSERT BIBLE VERSE HERE], God has given Danny broad enough shoulders "to cop quite a bit of flak." Nonetheless, "the weekend of the election was one of the worst weekends in my life." Why? Because God's anointed vessel John Howard had just suffered a massive defeat in the polls, and to top things off, Nalliah's father-in-law in Sri Lanka had taken seriously ill. "Bible believing Christians struggle not against flesh and blood, but wrestle against principalities and powers of spiritual darkness," and Satan--the fucker--had just delivered the Nalliahs a double-whammy.
Immediately I said, “Lord, what’s happening?? How can I even rise up and preach Your Word?” But praise Almighty God, as we prayed together for my father-in-law, the Spirit of the Lord strengthened me to rise up and preach the Word of God. That night he miraculously recovered and is now doing very well. Glory to God!

After ministering to the people of God on Saturday night, I struggled to fall asleep in my motel room in Albany, Western Australia, as I was all alone, in tears and feeling very sad for most of the night. I kept asking the Lord, “DID I GET IT WRONG???”
Enter God to account for making Nalliah look like the Fuckwit Australian of the Year.
I said, “Lord, why is it when the Body of Christ comes together to pray for rain, You answer our prayers so quickly?” The words from the Lord came to me, “For My people are united when they pray for rain.” At this moment I felt so prompted to read the prophetic word from the Lord regarding the election that I released on 11th August 2007.

As I begin reading the prophetic word from the Lord, I was greatly stirred in my spirit to read the following words that I had stated, “I will boldly declare that PM John Howard will be re-elected in the Nov election – ‘IF THE BODY OF CHRIST UNITES IN PRAYER AND ACTION.’
Again I heard the voice of the Lord, “For My people were not united in prayer and action for this election. If they were, they would have experienced spiritual revival under My freedom reigning in this nation, but now My people have chosen another way. They have not voted for My will, but for self gain and personal change.”
The fine print, people! Always, always read the fine print! That's why Nalliah's prophecy didn't come to pass. Because not enough voters got with God's program and voted for Howard. Apparently, that's how this "democracy" thing works! Well, knock me down with a Chick Tract.
The level of disunity in the Body of Christ was very clear to me closing in on election day. I received emails and messages from many professing Christians who were voting for Labor and the Greens. I just could not understand how they could do that, as their vote could be a vote to change existing laws to give greater rights to same sex-couples, legalise Abortion on demand (up to birth), introduce Federal Vilification Laws (eliminating freedom of speech), stop Prayer in Parliament, force Christian schools to employ homosexual teachers under Anti-Discrimination Laws, and the list goes on and on.
It's not Nalliah's fault he got it so wrong. It's the fault of those Muslim-loving mealy-mouthed wishy-washy bleeding-heart liberal Christians who weren't willing to defend Biblical values (among which are included the denial of women's reproductive rights, discrimination against sexual minorities in employment and in law, and sectarianism in Parliament) by backing John Howard, God's choice for PM. And it's your fault, too:
Just for your information, the Labor Government refused to preference the Family First Party, and did all its preferences with the Greens. Now both Labor and the Greens are in bed together. DID YOU VOTE THEM IN????
They're in bed together, people!! And probably doing TEH GAY with each other.

But seriously: how can a church be so blatantly partisan--to the point where it is practically labelling as apostate those of its followers who didn't vote for John Howard on Saturday--and still maintain a membership? This is essentially what the good pastor is (or was) saying to his sheeple: You're not a true Christian unless you vote for Howard. Surely there are some among his flock who have taken that hint and told Nalliah (albeit perhaps in politer terms) to kindly go fuck himself? Maybe that explains the deleted comments on the Catch the Fire website.

All of this raises an interesting question. With Howard and Costello both out of the picture, which of the Liberals (because it could only be a Liberal) is God now backing to lead Australia to Christopia? Brendan Nelson? He did, after all, endorse the teaching of intelligent design. Tony Abbott? Silas?

Stay tuned until the next idiot rolls around the floor babbling in tongues to find out.

On the subject of the dearly departed (from politics), the final Search for a Scapegoat:

Read more!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Either God or the Pastor has some 'splaining to do

Grods has blogged on this already, so I thought I'd take a look at the Catch the Fire website to see what Danny Nalliah's sheeple followers make of the outcome of his prediction--made on the highest of authorities, no less--of a Howard victory.

And . . . wait . . . oh, for fuck's sake! They've gone and erased the comments to this post, of which there were about seven the last time I looked. Fortunately Karen Hetherington's prophecies are still up, and as she assures her readers, "every dream God has given me regarding political matters in Australia and other nations has come to pass." Karen (via God) had Howard pegged as "God's chosen vessel to lead Australia as PM" as early as 1990, she tells us, though one gets the impression reading her that God was more firmly in the Costello camp: "And when on 30.7.07 I was driving past Mt. Beerwah in Queensland (aboriginal legend a mother mountain with womb) the Spirit of God suddenly moved me to cry out in the loud aboriginal like tongue followed by the shouting our several times of ‘The Honorable Peter Costello, Prime Minister elect of Australia’." (The amount of crazy Hetherington manages to cram into her post is truly astounding. Full marks!)

So how do the sheeple respond to the failure of these prophecies? Some go into denial:

TA Mark: We have failed Him. The Godless have been elected. We did not pray with enough self-sacrifice and fervour. . . . I feel now that this is His will, His challange to us. Over the coming years we must be strong and continue to spread the word of His Love.

Others (some of you will be familiar with this commenter's website) go into denial:
Dear Pastor Danny, although the election was not won, we will continue to trust God that He knows more than we know. Though we are all extremely disappointed, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. The Bible tells us that we are going to face hard times and that the Antichrist is permitted to ‘overcome the saints’ for a time. Now is the time to hold on and pray that we are able to stand firm.

And others? Well, I guess they just disappear down the memory hole. Seriously, these people are so deluded that, even when they know they've been lied to, they happily pull the wool over their own eyes even further.

Enjoy some Colbert:

Read more!