I’m Back. Again… No really!

The dark side of safety warnings.

At long last I have returned from my long pilgrimage to the Occupational, Safety and Health mecca in Kansas City.  I am knowledgeable, competent and qualified in all things safety!  I am become Safety!  Savior of worlds!  Bow before me or be buried in red tape.

At any rate, I have finished my 12 day ordeal and am now home.  My stay in KC was quite nice actually.  The hotel was excellent, the conference, while long, was worth it and this should further my career somewhat.  The more I know the better I am and let me tell you, the shit that I have learned the last year and a half… Sigh.  As much as I have always read science and history and kept informed I still  feel I have been wasting my life up until now.  Sometimes, I want to time travel beck to my young irresponsible self and kick him/me in the balls for not taking advantage of everything I could have.

Yeah.  I have been a dumb shit.  You knew it!

As an added bonus, a reader of this site contacted me while U was down there.  Jason of KC came and picked me up from my hotel and took me to one of the daily  (daily!!!) atheist/freethinker meet ups there.  It was great meeting some of the others and see how they managed their groups.  We also picked another evening to hit supper, Thai!  Bismarck has no Thai food and I really feel the lack.  It was wonderful.

I keep telling everyone that I took off with some guy I met on the internet.  Wow!  The looks that’ll get you.

At any rate, here is a sincere thank you to Jason of Kansas City.  I am glad to have met you and appreciate what you did.  You ever come back up this way, Jason, stop in.  We have extra beds.

Atheists are wonderful people.

    • Daz
    • September 6th, 2011

    Sometimes, I want to time travel beck to my young irresponsible self and kick him/me in the balls for not taking advantage of everything I could have.

    Damn right! Not that my life hasn’t been fun so far, but lawdy, miss Clawdy, it could have been so much better!

    My ex-wife and I’s first place was a flat above a shop on a street full of take-aways. Chinese, German, Italian, a kebab shop… It was like half the UN retired to our road and opened take-aways. The place right next door, just over the wall from the little yard where I half lived (we both had knackered old motorbikes that I was forever out there dismantling and, erm, mantling)* was Thai. We’d chat to the owner over the wall when he came out for a fag, and he’d quite often share a bit of this or that after closing time. Bloomin’ lovely!

    Anyway, great to see you back, KK!

    *Spellcheck didn’t complain about ‘mantling’, so I looked it up. Apparently it’s both a drapery tied to a helmet in heraldry and a move in rock-climbing. Not a synonym for ‘reassembling’ though. Damnit, it should be!

    • PK Timmy Dee
    • September 6th, 2011

    Maybe I’ll have my young son kick himself in the balls now to avoid having him go what we went through, then? Yes? I can see it now.
    “Kick yourself in the balls, son!”
    “Why, Dad? ”
    “So you dont end up like me, son!”
    “Whaaat?”
    “You’ll understand when you get older, kid.”
    “Whatever, Dad. Whatever.”

      • Daz
      • September 6th, 2011

      Just remember to film it and upload to YouTube. :-)

      Maybe it’s possible if we allow an extra knee-joint…

    • Pk Timmy Dee
    • September 6th, 2011

    You’re right, Daz. I just tried kicking myself in the balls and it would be nearly impossible for my young, un-coordinated six year old son to do what I suggested with-out an extra knee joint.. Not very well thought out on my part…forgive me…I work for the government where, “well thought out” is absent from their vocabulary.

    • Dan
    • September 7th, 2011

    Ok, is this just a ‘bash the bible basher’ site, or, are there people out there who are really looking for the Truth?
    Sure, the bible was written by mere humans but doesn’t it have some very important elements of truth like, “…loose the chains of injustice…set the oppressed free….share your food with the hungry, provide the poor wanderer with shelter, cloth the naked when you see him and not turn away from your own flesh and blood” (Isaiah 58 v 6,7). etc, etc, etc.
    Other religions and ‘holy books’ seem to portray similar moral beliefs.
    I believe that there is a God but nobody or no religeon has adequately explained it yet. There appear to be similar elements of truth across different religeons, and, are these the most important???
    I’ve just been reading Near Death Experiences (NDEs). It seems to answer a lot of questions too (maybe).
    I believe that science, religeon, holy books, NDEs are all useful in gaining some insight into the ‘big question’.
    Of course, what I believe may not be correct!

      • Mary2
      • September 7th, 2011

      The bible also has really useful bits like “Never cook a goat in its mother’s milk” and “thou shalt not eat lapwings or bats” (I’m paraphrasing).

      Therefore it must be the inspired word of God. Who else would have thought we needed to know these things?

        • Daz
        • September 12th, 2011

        I was rereading The History Of Dan, on this thread, and spotted “thou shalt not eat lapwings or bats”. The cat’s now giving me dirty looks for interrupting his sleep with a loud guffaw. Why did I not notice that before? Priceless!

        P.S. Are pipstrelles okay, or should I let the little fellow out of the oven before it’s too late?

        • Mary2
        • September 12th, 2011

        Daz, great isn’t it. Read Leviticus 11 for a bizarre list of things we are not allowed to eat – including rabbits (apparently they chew the cud but don’t have cloven hooves – whatever that means). I really love the lapwings though. Apparently pigeons are ok, but not crow or osprey. God sure is a picky bastard.

        • Benjamin (SonOfTheRightHand)
        • September 13th, 2011

        Talking point with bibliolaters: Rabbits and hares don’t chew a cud.

      • Beautiful photos and I love the fact that you don’t need an ice cream maker to do this. I’ve awyals ignored ice cream recipes because I didn’t want to go out and get the machine, but this new process could be dangerous :)

    • PK Timmy Dee
    • September 7th, 2011

    Hi Dan.
    To some of your points.
    Would you agree that most major religions in the world seem to claim they know what the “truth” is and the others are wrong? Even the hundreds of sects of christianity have basically the same core belief but individualized ideas that the others are wrong on many things because they don’t jive with their interpretation of the bible. Not everyone of them can have the “truth”, then.
    What I get from your comment about truth (and I may be wrong) is that you’re referring to it as the highest moral standard with the examples you gave? I and many others wouldn’t need a book such as the bible, quran, torah etc. to tell us what the “truth” is in terms of morality. For me, it’s very simple.
    Common sense trumps any written ‘truths’ in any ancient book.
    I hope you see my point.

    • john ward
    • September 7th, 2011

    Dan

    I have to agree with you totally – what you believe may not be correct!

    • Daz
    • September 7th, 2011

    Ok, is this just a ‘bash the bible basher’ site

    No, but we all need hobbies.

    As to your biblical ‘truth’, I see your Isaiah with Exodus 21:20-21 and raise you Deuteronomy 22:28-29

    Really, we could play that game for weeks; you cherry-picking good bits, me cherry-picking bad. Mind you, I bet you’d run out first.

    Near-death experiences: As attested to by people whose experiences happened at a time when their brains were seriously deprived of oxygen. What’s next? ‘Truth’ from acid-trips?

    I’ll admit, science might never answer the really big questions, like what caused the universe (and indeed, whether that question actually means anything)*, but it’s the only method we have which relies on evidence, rather than ancient mythology or castles-in-the-air philosophy. In other words, it’s the only one we can reliably check for your ‘Truth’, in the proper sense of the word.

    *For the record, I’d rather not know than believe a pack of made up stories. The hubris of claiming to know everything is, I think, one of religion’s ugliest features.

    • “The hubris of claiming to know everything is, I think, one of religion’s ugliest features.”

      I concur whole-heartedly.

    • Dan
    • September 7th, 2011

    Mary2, PK, John and Daz.
    Thanks for your comments.

    I will be the first one to admit that I don’t know anything. However, I also admit that I’m a curious human being and want to know how everything began and where we all come from.

    Mary2: – I agree. There are a lot of irrelevant things in the bible. The bible was written by men (enough said). My question is, “What if, intermingled amongst all of this other information, there is an important message of Truth or Truths?” Or do you think that the whole of the bible, the whole of the koran, the whole of the upanishads the whole of the tipitaka etc have no Truth ( or useful information for that matter).

    PK Timmy Dee:- The Truth to me is, where we all actually come from. I have a Truth about my life and where I came from. So does everyone else (right?) There is a Truth about what goes on behind secret government doors, etc. I would like to know that Truth, it may contain something that affects our and our families lives in a serious way.
    Common sense is also great. I wish everyone in the world had it. Sometimes I don’t have common sense, or, sometimes I do, but, I don’t exercise it. What I sometimes want to do and know what is right to do I end up doing the exact opposite. Do you think that one day we will all be able to exercise our common sense and will that then stop injustice and poverty?

    John:- Yes, I may be wrong and probably am. But thanks for your input which keeps me humble.

    Daz:- Many of us certainly need hobbies. I certainly wouldn’t have joined this discussion if I wasn’t seeking something of interest to do.

    I am not saying that the whole of the bible or any other holy book is completely true. Only that these books may contain some Truth. If you believe that these (so called) ‘holy books’ and all that is in them is totally inconsequential thats fine with me.
    Funny how we all have a free will and can believe what we want to believe untill someone comes along and takes accendency over us. Like in Moses day when some of the israelites started believing in a golden calf (which was used to sacrifice their sons and daughters by the way), and moses had to order their execution. I mean, do you want anyone living in your street who believed in sacrificing your son or daughter?

    From the little I have read about NDEs (near death experiences) there are cases that dispute the ‘oxygen depletion’ theory.

    Speaking of ‘theory’ isn’t science all about theory that is tested by new evidence. And does not that evidence sometimes change the theory? From memory, I think that Einstien had one or two theories that were later proven wrong with the discovery of new evidence.
    I don’t believe in fairytales anymore either. When I was younger I did believe in fairy tales and thought I knew everything as well.

    Guys:- Thanks for this w/site and I admire your boldness in challenging the status quo. I by no means intend to offend anyone only to seek and (try to) persue Truth, Justice and Mercy, and that if religeon is false that no one persue it, and if science is false no one hope in it.

    I hope your input continues.

    No more wars. No more lies. (i hope)

      • Alleyprowler
      • September 8th, 2011

      I’m always a bit wary when I see someone who is looking for capital-T Truth. It’s up there with people who seek the meaning of life or want to find themselves; that is, those are really fuzzy, subjective goals that don’t really mean anything when you examine them.

      You seem to be very well-intentioned, but I think you could make better use of your reason and critical thinking skills when it comes to real-world problems like social injustice and poverty. Navel-gazing about capital-T Truth won’t get you nearly as far as, for instance, doing a bit of research on the causes of poverty and then actively doing something about it, like volunteering to tutor kids in reading or math.

      As for capital-M Mercy and capital J Justice, it’s my opinion that it’s more important to practice these qualities than to try to seek them out (whatever that means–it sounds a bit self-serving when you put it that way).

      If you want to be good, then do good. If you want to know what “doing good” means, then our host KK here is a much better role model than the Bible by far.

    • Mary2
    • September 8th, 2011

    If there was a god and he had an important message to give us, don’t you think he would have been a little clearer than to hide it in a book of bronze age drivel like the bit in the bible which says if a woman is raped, she is no longer of value to her father and will be married off to her rapist? How are we supposed to know if this bit was written by God as a law for all time or added by man without divine authority – and don’t you think God would like us to be able to tell the difference?

      • Mary2
      • September 8th, 2011

      If you want truth from a book find a really good novel. I don’t mean Dan Brown but a good piece of literature. Pick something that has won the Booker prize or similar. You will find more truth about what it means to be human than in all the religious texts ever written.

      • 说:Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff proeivus to and you’re just extremely great. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a great website.

    • Dan
    • September 9th, 2011

    Hi Alleyprowler and Mary2. Thanks for your comments. Sorry for the time taken to get back to you. I have had the flu and had to work. Either God is punishing me or the Devil hates me, or, its all self-inflicted.

    Alleyprowler:- Your name intrigues me. Is this a dark alley I have entered, and, your the prowler come to attack the unsuspecting? (I hope not).
    I think I understand some of the problems in the world today and their causes. I have studied Sociology Psychology and Anthropology at university level. It is my present opinion (which may change with new evidence) that, while knowledge in these fields is abundant, whole solutions are scarce.

    My idea of helping fellow humans is first starting with my own flesh and blood then helping others less fortunate according to my own ability. Firstly, I treat my wife with respect. I provide for her and don’t cheat on her ( we’ve been married for 36 years). We have only ever had one daughter. As her father I have also provided for her, fed and clothed her, given her an education. She is now 35 years of age, happily married and has 2 young sons of her own. Both her and her husband are hard working, provide for their two boys, are generous and contribute positively to the community. Both my wife and I have moved in to a house opposite them so that we can help both of them and our grandchildren should they need us. Hopefully, the grandchildren will be stable members in their community when they grow into adults (it will be their choice).

    I try to help others, who appear less fortunate than myself, starting firstly with people I come across in my own life, then in the community, then in the world.
    For example, recently I came across a grandmother (who is 20 years older than myself) who has to raise 8 of her own grandchildren because they have been abandoned and neglected by their parents. Their own parents would rather drink and gamble their money away instead of providing for their own children. This grandmother seemed to be coping except that her washing machine had broken down and she had no money to visit the laundrymat. Both my wife and I bought her a $1000 washing machine to ease her burden. My wife and I are not rich and we only have a washing machine worth about 1/2 that price. Yes it did deplete our bank account, but, yes she (the old grandmother) needed it more than us. Hopefully, her grandchildren will grow into happy stable adults and not into drug and alcohol abusers, and, irresponsible gamblers.
    I have tried to inform drug and alcohol abusers of the dangers of such practices, however, they would rather ‘crucify’ me than hear such nonsense.
    I use to meet a lot of people who work for the government Health Department. I found that many of these people are drug and alcohol abusers themselves.
    I could tell you of others I have helped quitely but I’m not going to because I will probably be accused of bragging. If you want to critize me personally then there is definitaly much to critize. But then I am human and to err is human. But then lets not focus on our bad points. Each of us has the potential for either great good or great evil.

    I think that I understand why there is so much poverty and injustice in the world. As individuals we are all born as egotistics. In the world ‘self preservation’ is the name of the game. Survival starts with the self surviving first. Perhaps this is a good thing, after all, if the individual doesn’t survive then no one does. If the new born baby doesn’t drive his/her parent up the wall with its constant crying then maybe it wont get fed, or, have the safety pin that has come undone and is sticking into its little body, removed.
    (Guys it looks like I am running out of space here. I will continue on another Reply)

    • Dan
    • September 10th, 2011

    Back again.

    Alleyprowler:- Continuing with whether I understand poverty and injustice in the world.

    I have also tried to help Australian Aboriginal children. Indigenous people have been and are the most mistreated people in the world. This mistreatment has come about because of 2 ‘beliefs’ (idealisms) that have perpetuated over the past 400 or so years as far as I see it. One such ‘belief’ is the “Protestant Ethic” where it is believed that everyone should work hard and earn one’s own living by the sweat of ones brow, and, Gods command to “Go forth and subdue the earth”.
    It was too bad that indigenous people already hunted and gathered by the ‘sweat of their brow’ to earn a living. Sure, indigenous people didn’t have a huge bank morgage, didn’t pollute the air, water and land. Didn’t have a 12 bedroom house for 3 people, Didn’t have a huge real estate portfolio. Didn’t have Democracy (it was an Egalitarian Society). But hey, the Protestant Ethic way was better (I would debate this).

    The other ‘belief’ involved the “Theory of Evolution”. Like many who misinterpret what is either written or orated by others so also was, and still is in some quarters of society, Darwins theory of evolution. While most understood Darwins concept of ‘natural selection’ others interpreted the theory as the ‘stronger replacing the weaker’. Therefore the stupid, backward, uneducated natives would all eventually die out and be replaced by the stronger, more intellegent superior race.

    These same beliefs persist in the world to this day.

    Not only do some fight poverty and injustice in the world they also fight the rich, the warmongers, politicians and bureaucrats sitting on big fat salarys, self important people etc etc. I once co-founded a group to help indigenous children. There was no assistance from Government. I approached businesses and individuals for donations. I spent out of my own pocket. We fed the children, we made them happy for a while. We gave them things that they never had before. Then….. the other 2 members of the organising committee didn’t like the way I was running things and promptly threw me out. This organisation went downhill from the day I left and today it does not exist.

    It seems that, if you want to do good in the world, be prepared to be ‘crucified’.

    But hey, I’m a glutton for punishment, so, I will try to help my fellow man wherever I can regardless. As long as it does not mean neglecting my own flesh and blood first.

    So yes, in a world of poverty and injustice I seek the Truth and the Meaning of Life. I ask the questions of ‘Why is it so’? Yes, I want to understand myself, because then I believe I may be able to understand others better and to empathise with them.

    KK surely knows about empathy. I have seen his generosity. I hope everyone in the world acquires it if they haven’t already.

    I have seen good and not so good religeous people. I have seen good and not so good athiestic people. Why is this so? If we do not seek answers then lets give up everything including science, religeon, beliefs, family, friends and bury our heads in the sand. Or, lets just have a onesided discussion and ‘think’ that we all know what we are talking about.’

    I for one am eager to learn and to listen to others, and yes, I know very little and know that I cannot save the world by myself.

    I hope that one day we all will have the same beliefs and goals and that we will all be friends.

    • Benjamin(SonOfTheRightHand)
    • September 10th, 2011

    Dan, those were some long, thought out replies, but i read them anyway ;)

    I see you have gotten the lion’s shares of comments directed at you, and I will contribute as well.

    One of my goals in life is to gain the most true information whilst simultaneously having the least amount of false information possible. In order to accomplish this, I find the best way of gaining correct information to be scientifically (evidence). Ancient literature is excellent evidence that ancient people sometimes wrote things. The things written must be examined on its own merit. In this sense I agree with you that there may be tidbits of truth in ancient writings. Is there a disembodied mind with magnanimous powers that preserves our mind after death? Maybe, but ancient writings is not evidence of such.

    I hope you stay with KK’s blog because your viewpoint is going to be unique among us skeptics.

    “Science isn’t necessarily the best method, just the best one we have.” -Probably a famous science popularizer

    Ps I’m extremely curious about the NDEs you are referring to. Link please.

    • Dan
    • September 10th, 2011

    Mary2. Hello.

    I will try to respond to your comments in a positive way.
    Please don’t think that I am a spokesman for God or that I think I need to defend him or his laws. I know very little but am eager to learn and understand things of interest to me better. I believe I should have originally responded to Daz’s comment about this issue also.

    Deuteronomy 22 v 28-29.
    In simple terms, a man who forcibly has sex with a virgin must pay the father 50 shekels of silver and marry the girl.

    I am going to imagine for a while that my daughter was raped when she was a virgin. If it were left to me, I would attempt to either shoot, stab or maim the rapist. But hold on. Is this a fair punishment for the offender? The rapist did not kill my daughter. He did not maim my daughter. What he did was force my daughter to have sex with him, and, because there was no contraception she may be pregnant.

    Ok, so I manage to kill my daughters rapist, I’m very happy. But hold on!
    The rapist also has a mother , father, siblings, friends and people who love him. I, on the other hand, have killed their son, brother and friend. Is it fair that I have exchanged murder for rape. Now the rapists father, brothers and friends come and kill me. Great, now my daughter hasn’t got a father and my wife, has no husband. Now to avenge my death my wife hires a hitman to kill the rapists family and friends. And the cycle continues, all because I have administered an inappropriate judgement on an offender.

    So what do I do to punish the rapist that will be fair to all sides concerned??? Can anyone out there help me? Surely we, together, can make up a law that is better than the one suggested by this stupid religeous people and their stupid God. What would they know about anything. Come on all you wise, enlightened human beings, surely we can come up with a better law than that.

    Oh yeah. Lets lock up the rapist for 10 years. Thats a good idea. We will punish and ‘rehabilate’ him. Ok, so now I and my fellow innocent citizens pay taxes to feed, clothe and shelter the rapist. And, of course, educate him. He may want to be a lawyer himself. I almost forgot; free medical and dental also. Of course the rapist also makes many good descent friends in jail. Why, there’s other friendly rapists , murders, thieves and lawbreakers. They provide our rapist with further education, only it may not be the kind that innocent people want him to have. Sounds like an enlightened way to go.

    Ok, what if I do allow this stupid law of this stupid people and their God to prevail? What will be the consequences? Lets see. The rapist pays 50 sheckels of silver to me, the girls father. 50 shekels of silver would have been worth about 10 years wages 5000 years ago (please correct me if I am wrong). The rapist has to marry my daughter also. So the rapist must work in an honest job to support his new wife and family, pay taxes and remain an upstanding positive contributing member of our society for the rest of his life. Oh yeah, and everyone knows him as the rapist who lives down the street. What a wonderful life he will live (not).

    No I haven’t forgotton my daughter who was raped by this animal. She is still my daughter and I may or may not give her to the rapist for his wife. Depends on what my daughter wants. But now other laws come into consideration which I have no room for here.

    Anyway, lets all come up with another suitable punishment for the crime of rape. Our human brains have evolved to the degree of almost perfection. God didn’t make Man. Man made God. We should be able to come up with a better Law than the one this nonexistent dumb God has.

    Please let me know what you come up with guys.

    • Daz
    • September 10th, 2011

    Dan

    Oy vey, that’s a biggy!

    Firstly, Biblical wording (based on male pride in taking a virgin as a wife) apart, why do you feel the need to specify whether or not the rape-victim is a virgin?

    He did not maim my daughter. What he did was force my daughter to have sex with him

    No, what he did was violently assault her. ‘Force to have sex’ is way too mild a description of a brutal attack. An attack which can indeed maim the victim, unless we discount psychological scars. (I urge you to read this. Be warned, it’s not a fun read, by any stretch of the imagination.)

    The victim does not, no matter how small or large the physical or psychological force used, ‘have sex with’ the perpetrator, any more than I could ‘have a fight with’ Mike Tyson.

    I know it might look as if I’m harping on a trivial point here, but I think it’s not trivial at all. Your—probably unconscious—wording implies nothing more than an unpleasant sexual experience, yet any consideration of punishments must take the full barbarity of the crime into consideration.

    ________________________________________________________

    What follows is personal opinion:

    Why do we need to come up with another form of ‘punishment’ (your word, not mine), when you’ve already noted the correct one?

    The perpetrator should be locked up while they are a danger to society until such time as they are deemed rehabilitated. While it’s regrettable that this will cost tax-money, I feel that that’s better than the human cost of letting such people stay loose in society to attack more people. All public services cost money—why should this one be any different?

    Also, I don’t think there should be a length of time specified for the incarceration of rapists, premeditated murderers and such. If they’re never deemed rehabilitated then they should remain separated from the society that they pose a danger to. Giving them a so-many-years sentence, length of time dependent on a judge’s opinion of how nasty the crime was, is a punishment, when what we should really see, as I say, is removal of dangerous people from a society they pose a danger to. It’s protection of us, not punishment of them; or should be.

      • Benjamin(SonOfTheRightHand)
      • September 11th, 2011

      Beautiful reply Daz. I agree fully with your points both on what rape is and what prison is.

    • Dan
    • September 10th, 2011

    Hello Benjamin (SonOfTheRightHand).

    Science has been good, hasn’t it (up untill now). Except that the latest scientific evidence reveals that the universe doesn’t behave in the way it should. Hmmm.
    Yes, science is the best we have had, but, is it any longer?
    The NDE websites that I have referred to are http://www.nderf.org and http://www.near-death.com
    Please be aware that I in no way endorse these w/sites but only refer to them as sources of information.
    I have respect for you in that it appears to me that your mind is not closed.
    Anyway, it would be of significant value to listen to the opinions of more intellegent people than myself.

      • Benjamin(SonOfTheRightHand)
      • September 11th, 2011

      Can’t quote you on the mobile version, but yeah the scientific method remains the best way of gaining new, accurate information. New scientific evidence might displace previous theories, but you used the same method for gaining the new information. Your “hmmm” confuses me.

      Near death experiences are a fascinating phenomena. However, while I would like to believe in some sort of pleasant persistence of life after death, the NDEs reported are not evidence of an afterlife. I will continue reading and see if there is some credible evidence to the contrary.

      Being skeptical goes alongside being open minded.

    • Dan
    • September 10th, 2011

    Hello again Daz.

    You are a compassionate person and hate injustice. You and I are the same in these respects.

    Sorry about sounding trivial about a young virgin being ‘raped’. But, I was comparing the crimes of rape and murder. Do you think that these two crimes are equal and deserve the same punishment. If you do then this may cause further problems. For example, if the brutal rapist knows that the punishment for murder is the same as for rape, the rapist would not only think of raping the girl but also murdering her at the same time. This would open the floodgates for rape/murder crimes. I hate to say it, but, If I had to have the choice, I would rather have a live raped girl than a dead raped girl.

    Of course, I would rather have no raped or raped/murdered girl. However, some of our species have tendencies toward killing, raping, stealing, maiming,and every other mistreatment of fellow human beings from the highest echelons to the lowest . That is why we to need laws and justice and punishments to fit, otherwise our societies would be kaos.

    I referred to the girl as a virgin because that is what the girl is called in the bible verses you quoted me (Deutronomy 22 v 28-29). To check that this word was used I did look it up in the hebrew language and yes, it mainly means ‘virgin’ but can sometimes mean ‘bride’. However, I apologise if I offended you for using this word.

    I read your suggested link. I am discusted as I always have been and always will be at such horrible crimes. Whats even further discusting is the menial laughable punishment eventually handed out to the offender. This is why we must wake up and say, hey, this is not right; we need more Truth, Justice and Mercy in our community and world. Truth, to know exactly what has happened, Justice, to right wrongs and foster equality, and, Mercy, in this case, for the victim.

    You seem to have the answers for the problem (lock the offenders up until they are rehabilitated). Ok, sounds good to me. You run for the Presidency with your policy and I will vote for you. There have been many other candidates with similar policies in the past but nothing positive seems to happen once they are voted in. Never mind, I’m hoping that you may be different. Maybe with you in charge society will get better instead of worse.

    At the moment we have a Prime Minister who is a professing atheist. We will have to wait and see what positive influence she has on the country.

    I myself do not have the answers. I only have the lesser childlike mind to ask questions. Maybe by asking questions of those superior to myself I will acquire the right answers. I want to ask questions of religeous, scientific and athieistic people. I’m thinking that a collective contribution from all sides will get me some reasonable answers.

    If you already have the answers to everything that satisfies you then I’m happy for you to be content in that. I thought that if I called for Truth, Justice and Mercy in the world it may have encouraged a growing band of similar minded people. Never mind, I always knew I was deluded.

    By the way, after we have finished bashing the Bible bashers, can we bash the Koran bashers?

    • Daz
    • September 10th, 2011

    Dan

    As ever, I find myself almost drawn more to your wording than to what you say.

    As someone mentioned earlier, I worry somewhat about statements in which words like truth, justice, mercy, love, and the like are capitalised. These things are ideas, concepts, not gold-plated standards. It seems to be a truism that those who elevate them almost, if not completely, into the status of actual things, rather like the force, in Star Wars, tend to have a very black-and-white view life. It’s worth remembering that all things in life have nuances.

    Re: virginity in the Bible. Yes, there’s even been a strong case made that the ‘virgin’ in Virgin Mary was a mistranslation of ‘young lady’. There can be no doubt, though, about the translation in such passages as Deuteronomy 22:20-21:

    If, however, the charge [of being found, upon the wedding-night, to not be a virgin] is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

    To be honest, I’m not so much offended as curious as to why you felt the need to specify that your daughter was a virgin, in your hypothetical scenario. What difference does virginity make? If rape were sex, then yes, we could make the case that a sexually experienced woman could cope better with it; but rape isn’t sex. It’s as distressing for a 10-johns-a-night hooker as it is for an adult virgin.

    You continue to talk of punishment—in effect, revenge—where I talk about protection of society and hopeful rehabilitation of the offender. If we think of it as punishment, then no, rape isn’t (usually) as heinous as premeditated murder, and would deserve a lesser sentence. If we talk about protection of society by removing dangerous persons from it, then both deserve the same: to be removed to a place where they can pose no danger, and for rehabilitation to be attempted.

    If you already have the answers to everything that satisfies you then I’m happy for you to be content in that.

    Oh gawd, no. Lotsa things I don’t know, and probably many of the things I think I know, I’m wrong about.

    I’d be happy to bash the Qur’an, if I’d ever read it. Good luck with finding a forum that does so fairly, though. In my experience, many discussions of Muslims quickly get invaded by racists trying to find a veneer of respectability for their racism. Kind of a rock and a hard place situation for a lefty like me: Either be seen to be going light on Muslims, favouring them over Christians, or end up being seen as aligned with bigots.

      • Benjamin(SonOfTheRightHand)
      • September 11th, 2011

      The Bible needs a good bashing. It’s therapeutic to former believers such as myself because I get to see everything from a fresh perspective. The Qoran wouldn’t be as interesting, because I don’t know the stories.

        • Daz
        • September 11th, 2011

        From the odd bits I’ve seen (including a really good cartoon spoof that I can’t find, damnit) the Qur’an’s just as whacked-out crazy, but seems even more so because we’re immunised to Biblical craziness by early and prolonged exposure.

        Oh, and the cherry-picking seems even worse, both from pro-Islamists and anti-Islamists. According to most antis, there isn’t a single good phrase in the whole book, and the defenders go to the other extreme. Tarring-with-the-same-brush is applied by both sides, not with a brush but a fire-hose sized spray-gun. Not pretty, and not for the faint-hearted.

        • Mary2
        • September 11th, 2011

        Given that KK has been at the bible bashing for a year and we have just started Leviticus it could be a while before we are ready for the Qu’ran! I’m game, though I share Daz’s concerns about becoming a front for racists.

    • Mary2
    • September 11th, 2011

    Daz, many thanks for your reply to Dan. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think that rape must be ‘an unpleasant sexual experience’. Dan, rape is not unpleasant sex. Rape is about humiliation, subjugation, control, force and power. Dan, take a moment to image someone grabbing you from behind, forcing you over a table and having their way with you. Now, please describe any context in which you would be happy to be married off to this man, to have to see him every day, to share a bed with him and to have to submit to him any time he wanted to take you again. I can not even imagine the daily misery such a person would go through. Prison may not be a great form of punishment, but it is a very civilised system. Trial and punishment are separated from revenge because they are carried out by an independent judiciary not a grieving relative etc. So, yes, I think we have already done better than the bible as far as a fair system of law goes. Or are you going to pick and choose the bits of the bible you like to implement? Should we start killing people who work on Sunday?

    As for your earlier comments, I think the world would be a boring place if we all shared the same beliefs and goals. But it would be nice if we could all be friends.

      • Daz
      • September 11th, 2011

      Mary; my pleasure. Well,not exactly pleasure, but you know what I mean. For some reason it’s a subject I’ve ended up talking about a lot lately, what with Elevatorgate an’ all.

      Some days I must admit, I wish I could let such comments pass without reply, but then I think; well I can, ’cause I’m male; but women have to deal with it, at least in a hypothetical, back-of-the-mind, ‘it could happen to me just around this next corner’ way all the time.

      Ah well fight the good fight and all that…

      • Ron
      • September 12th, 2011

      But Mary2, according to the good (and so TOTALLY not misogynous) pastor Jack Schapp, the woman was probably complicit in her rape.

      Transcript:

      0:00 – 0:10

      Kevin asks a question here, about the issue found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22, regarding a young man and a young woman who are immoral together.

      0:10 – 2:39

      blah blah blah

      The pertinent portion of his eisegesis runs from:

      2:39 – 3:48

      Well first of all, we don’t know anything about the lady, do we? And calling her a “lady” may be a little strong: we don’t know if this woman was seductive — we don’t know if there’s a lot more to the story than meets the eye here. Ah…very wise judges — like moses and Arron, who penned to these words — had to judge these matters.

      And there are so many other passages that talk about, uh, how that women was behaving, perhaps? And we know from even our own society that when you look at a girl and a boy sometimes things aren’t as simple as they appear on the surface.

      And so there may be more to this story. I don’t want to simply read into it or forget to read into what’s there.

      “…or forget to read into what’s there.” At least he’s honest about his motives. :)

      4:16 – 4:41

      And, eh, if this woman was involved in it, and it was consensual, and the two of them were, were, uh, mutually involved here then the Bible says that they were supposed to marry and, uh, God says that they were never allowed to divorce all the days of their life.

      I think very simply, God is saying decisions have consequences, and somebody has to take responsibility.
      —————————-

      So there you have it. According to the good — I’M NOT MISOGYNOUS, DOG GUMMIT!! — pastor, that little trollop was most likely struttin’ her booty all around the camp getting the guys hot and bothered.

      Now she must pay the consequences or baby Jesus will cry.

        • Mary2
        • September 12th, 2011

        Silly cow forgot to wear her burka and the poor, weak rapist couldn’t control himself. We all know you men are simple, weak creatures at the mercy of your hormones!;-)

        • Ron
        • September 12th, 2011

        BTW, the New Testament account claims that the Almighty One inseminated Joseph’s wife without her prior consent. No mention though on whether she cried out “Oh My GOD” when it happened. Jesus mom was such a tease. {sarcasm}

        • Mary2
        • September 13th, 2011

        BTW Ron, eisegesis is an awesome word. If I could work out how to pronounce it I would be sure to drop it in dinner party conversation.

        • Daz
        • September 13th, 2011

        There’s an audio of it here. (On the same line as the item-heading.) I love the internet! I can never remember what all the little pronunciation-marks in the dictionary mean.

    • Dan
    • September 11th, 2011

    Benjamin (SonOfTheRightHand). Mary2. & Daz.

    Your comments are appreciated.
    There is much to talk about and a lot of time needed for that talk. The answers to our questions do not come in just a few words or sentences. Our conversation may continue untill the end of the world as we now know it. I am willing to continue our conversations, however, you will have to be patient with my responses as it appears that it is at the moment 3 against 1 and this is not my day job.
    See you soon.

    • Dan
    • September 11th, 2011

    Daz.

    I worry about people who do not want to know the Truth, Justice and Mercy. I have capatilized these words because I believe that ultimately there may be such real living things. And even if there are not then they are important concepts needed to be sought after, examined, analysed, and maybe discovered because they may hold the answers some of us so eagerly desire and seek. Those answers are for a better world where none are enslaved, none are offenders, and none are victims. Besides which, these concepts or realities (whichever you believe) have and still motivate most of the worlds population except for athiests. This could be a positive or a negative for you.

    For example, Jesus Christ in the bible once said that he was the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. Notice the capital letters.
    Ok then, whether he existed and said these words is debatable, but, what if this religeon is true? What if either Islam, Buddahism, Hinduism Taoism, etc is true or what if there are some titbits of truth in them. What if the titbits of Truth in them is the gold amongst the mountains of rubble? Being an adament Athiest you burn your bridges. I fear that in your small quest for better conditions on earth for yourself, your family and your descendants via the methods of dismantlng all beliefs except your own you will make conditions worse instead of better.

    Apart from not believing in a God I am not sure what most atheists believe. When I read your so called study of the bible the first thing that came to mind is that these people are biased, and, it appears that they don’t examine what they are reading carefully. For example, you mock and laugh at Moses, a man desirous of introducing the law to his people to maintain justice and create stability in his community. Then you crucify and critize him for ordering the execution of the horrible child-killers.

    If my beliefs are flawed, then so are yours in regard to the protection of females in our society. Your way (as is the usual human way, my idea also for a long time) is to imprison rape offenders and let them out when they are rehabilitated. Seems the logical, non-bible, human revenge, punishing way to do it. However, scientific research has shown that this method is not working. On many occasions prisoners released, when it was thought they were rehabilitated, have reoffended and with even worse crimes than previously. So then, your ‘method’ actually endangers females in the community to a greater degree than before. I will repeat, “your method actually endangers females in the community to a greater degree than before”.

    Now I know that some of us have, from time to time, these visions of grandure about what is the best way to maintain fairness, justice and equality amongst ourselves but hey, why continue on a way that is not working? By doing so we make a bad situation worse and place a whole lot more innocent people under a burden.

    Present human behaviour is to be questioned. Why? Because it is getting us into worse situations than before. We want to ride out on our white horse and bring civilazation to the natives, we want to free people from their present terrible governments and bring democracy. All noble endeavours. However, because of these ‘good intensions’, these brilliant ideas, more people usually end up in worse conditions than previously.

    Folks I need to jump to another post because this one is filling to capacity and playing up. Please don’t respond too soon as to allow me to answer all of your comments to date. Thanks.

    • Daz
    • September 12th, 2011

    “I have capatilized these words because I believe that ultimately there may be such real living things”

    Find me an atom justice, a molecule of mercy. Important concepts, surely, but to raise them to the level of some mysterious physical existence is to admit the supernatural, for which there is no testable evidence.

    “For example, Jesus Christ in the bible once said that he was the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. Notice the capital letters.”

    That’s merely an archaic writing style, in which nouns were often capitalised in just the same way that we still capitalise proper-nouns. You’ve probably seen it in the King James. Here’s the same line from the New International Bible: “I am the way and the truth and the life”

    “but, what if this religeon [sic] is true? What if either Islam, Buddahism [sic], Hinduism Taoism, etc is true or what if there are some titbits of truth in them”

    Undoubtedly there is some truth in them. A little in the historical sense, some in the philosophical sense, but none, unless you can provide evidence otherwise, in the supernatural sense. We can play ‘what if’ games if you like. What if there’s a teapot orbiting amongst the asteroids? What if I’m the rightful King of England, my line expunged from the history books and my title stolen by usurpers? Unless we can produce evidence for these things, though, we’re just making up stories.

    “Apart from not believing in a God I am not sure what most atheists believe”

    Nothing. You’ve summed up atheism with the words ‘not believing in a God’. Of course, complimentary to that, most of us have this thing about not wanting our laws, our governments, our education systems to be influenced by bronze/iron age mythology merely because other people happen to believe in such evidence-free nonsense.

    My opinion of the prison system is just that. An opinion. I don’t have, and you don’t provide along with your assertions about it, any statistics to hand on the percentage of re-offenders to non-re-offenders. I would say that somewhere a balance needs to be struck; how many possibly-rehabilitated offenders should be kept locked in order to make certain that possibly-not-rehabilitated offenders don’t walk free. (Bearing in mind that the benefit of the doubt policy that juries are urged to take already gives us an example of such a balance being struck.) Where the balance-point is would be a matter for psychiatrists, psychologists, lawmakers and others; always with the possibility in mind that the point should be movable as we learn from experience.

    Another point on this; how much real effort is currently made to rehabilitate criminals? Very little, I’d say. Current policy in most countries seems to be ‘lock them up, let them do their time, let them out’. Until actual research is done on how to really work to rehabilitate criminals, (by which I mean en mass, not small studies involving picked, small, groups) I don’t see that your objection holds water.

    “Now I know that some of us have, from time to time, these visions of grandure [sic] about what is the best way to maintain fairness, justice and equality amongst ourselves but hey, why continue on a way that is not working?”

    Hey, guess what the most commonly tried way has been, through the centuries? Bible-reading, exposing people to religious writings in the hope they’ll ‘find God’. (And, I might add, one of the commonest tests of a criminal’s rehabilitation has been whether they’ve studied some pack of religious bullshit.) I totally agree. Why continue on a way that’s not working?

    Not sure where you’re going with your final paragraph, but ‘exporting Christianity to the heathen natives’ has been something of a growth industry since the age of discovery. Doesn’t seem to have helped much.

      • Benjamin(SonOfTheRightHand)
      • September 12th, 2011

      Once again, point by point hitting the nail on the head Daz. I’d like to reiterate that most prisons are designed to protect society, not punish or rehabilitate.

    • Mary2
    • September 12th, 2011

    Woaw Dan, how do you get from not believing in a god to not having any values to guide you in life? That is one hell of a long step buddy. Atheists do not believe in a god. This does not mean we do not believe in justice or mercy. You are mistaking atheism for nihilism. Please do not do that. As someone who has a strict ethical code I get upset with the idea that without religion to guide me I must be running around robbing and pillaging.

    I believe in truth: I don’t believe in Truth – i.e. one unchanging answer to everything. I also believe in searching for answers to the deep questions; I just don’t believe they will all be found in the same book: especially one written 2000 years ago by goatherders and edited for political purposes since.

    Dan, I stand by my earlier advice: if you want truth, read novels. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath will teach you more than you could imagine about human greed and selfishness but also about human strength, couarge and determination. It will also teach you a bit about why the world is the way it is. It will blow your mind.

    We criticise Moses for wanting to introduce laws to stabilise society? One of the first laws he introduces is to make his brother and nephews hereditary rulers of the people (priests), and then spends several chapters telling everyone how often they have to sacrifice to god and how much of this sacrifice goes to the priests as wages. I have no idea where you got the ‘punishing child killers’ bit from. Have you read Exodus? Moses murders 6000 people because they were praying to the golden calf. No where does the bible say they were killing children. Is this man really the one you are going to trust to decide your morals for you?

    What if one religion has a tidbit of gold in it? How will you know unless you study every religion on the planet? What if you study the wrong one? How does this make you any better than an atheist who can, at least, study these religions without preconceptions getting in the way? Which one of us is more likely to find that tidbit in taoism, someone who already believes in another god or someone reading with an open mind?

    I love your logic in punishing rapists: sometimes prison doesn’t work and they re-offend after release; the way to prevent this is not to lock them up but make them pay a fine to the father of the victim. How does this protect women (and men – you don’t seem to realise that men are raped as well)?

    • Mary2
    • September 12th, 2011

    KK, after a very small post telling us that you are back (which doesn’t seem to be the truth – catching up with family cannot be as important as us!) you seem to have done well with the number of responses. Shows that reward is not always equal to the effort, hey? ;-)

    • Daz
    • September 12th, 2011

    Truth* be told, I dunno how KK does it. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who kept so many things on the go all at once. The lad must sleep about four hours a day!

    Hmm. I wonder if his average daily velocity means—Einstein’s relativity and all that—that he’s actually ageing slightly slower than the rest of us…

    *Only capitalised as the start of a sentence. Ahem.

  1. When one gives up the childish idea that there MUST be a purpose behind everything, one can see much clearer.

    Rather than searching for Truth, Justice (and the American way– wait, wrong movie), etc, why not start from an absolute blank and begin with, “What is out there?” If you start searching for something with the absolute certainty that it exists, especially in a supernatural sense, you’ll tend to find everything you come across can be twisted to fit into that keyhole.

    Instead of, “I believe there is Truth and I’m out to prove it,” ask, “Is there Truth? Let me consider this using the Scientific Method.”

      • Daz
      • September 13th, 2011

      “Instead of, “I believe there is Truth and I’m out to prove it,” ask, “Is there Truth? Let me consider this using the Scientific Method.” ”

      I’d go so far as to say that that approach is actually the beginning step of the scientific method.

    • Dan
    • September 12th, 2011

    Daz. Continuing on.

    I do talk of punishment yes, but, revenge no. I’m fairly sure I did not use the word revenge. Punishment for evil is a must and that goes for everyone. If I do wrong against my fellow man then I expect to get punished. I must punish my child if he/she does wrong, if I don’t he/she will cause further pain both to her/himself and to others, and, besides which if I dont the policeman, with his deadly force, may. In any case, evil should not be allowed to abound, anywhere.

    The biblical concept of a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot (Deutronomy 19 v 21) was the overriding law for the ancient Israelites. As a father of a virgin daughter that was raped he not only had the right to 10 years of the offenders wages and a demand to look after his daughter for the rest of her life, but, had the right to also refuse the rapist marry his daughter (Exodus 22 v 17).. Of course, being a good father, whatever he received probably went to his daughters welfare.

    Also, further disputes could be taken to Moses himself or to the Priest and Elders. The system allowed for any victims with grievances or perceived injustices to be heard and dealt with in a satisfying manner. I’m sure that the offended virgin girl would have had her day in court. For her, at that time, in her culture, she would have been satisfied with the result. Of course drop a female from our present day western culture into that time and culture and she obviously wont be satisfied.

    These laws seem strange and crude to us today, however, it must be remembered that they were introduced by this biblical God at a time when humans were fairly crude themselves. You believe in evolution, right, well humans at that time were at an earlier stage of development than today. The period of which we are speaking is about the late stone to Bronze Age 5 to 6 000 years ago. Contrary to popular belief the bible does not preach against the concept of evolution. Some religeous men do promulgate ‘instant creation’ as fact, but, this is due to simplistic interpretation. Religeous men are men (enough said) they can easily misrepresent God.

    I have my own theory about how God created humans and for what reasons. Humans were created to evolve. For an entity to possess free will it must be allowed to learn and develop through the making of mistakes and then rectifying those mistakes by itself over time. Why this Creator wanted to create a freewilled being I am not sure, but, freewilled beings here we are.

    At this point I want to emphasize the importance of including all of the information we can when trying to determine a state or a situation. Leaving out information, even if it appears inconsequential or stupid at the time can mean a big mistake in the final interpretation.

    Seems like i’ve run out of time and space again. Will go to another post.

    If anyone is still interested in my comments and want to respond please wait until I have finished responding to all your comments to date, otherwise please return to your normal atheist bible study. Be warned that I have a lot still to comment on.

      • Ron
      • September 12th, 2011

      Funny how the purported cosmic author of the “Absolute Truth ™” becomes such a moral relativist with the changing epochs.

      Re: Free Will

      Worship me (even though I purposely keep myself hidden) or suffer eternal torment doesn’t sound like free will to me.

      • Dave
      • September 13th, 2011

      Jumping into this a bit late, but there’s a problem in here that I have to address.

      These bits, “whatever he received probably went to his daughters welfare” and “The system allowed for any victims with grievances or perceived injustices to be heard and dealt with in a satisfying manner. I’m sure that the offended virgin girl would have had her day in court.” show a drastic misunderstanding of the mindset behind those laws. The victim, in the eyes of the OT law, is not the girl. The victim is her father. A virgin daughter is a valuable bit of property for him, he can marry her off for his own benefit. The man who rapes her, steals that value from the father, and the 50 shekel payment is to him as reparations for the theft. It has nothing to do with her, and the “court” doesn’t give her value back. The rape makes the daughter spoiled goods and the payment is entirely to make up for the theft of the father’s property.

      This is a system that we have rightly discarded, anyone with a shred of decency finds that mindset heinous. And I find it more than a little revolting that you would defend it.

      At the time, that was considered justice. Our idea of justice is vastly different, and not without its own flaws. The idea that there is some eternal unchanging capital J Justice is laughable. It will always be changing, it must always change, to adapt to a changing world and so it can remain just.

        • Benjamin (SonOfTheRightHand)
        • September 13th, 2011

        My wife chooses to have faith because she can’t stand the thought of a world without Justice. Logic goes out the window with that sentiment.

        • Mary2
        • September 14th, 2011

        Good point Dave. Jump in any time

    • Daz
    • September 12th, 2011

    “I do talk of punishment yes, but, revenge no”

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you did, just that there’s a fine line between the two, and they seem to be easily confused. My bad wording, not your bad reading.

    But you’re the one who’s pointed out that punishment doesn’t work. That many people deemed rehabilitated by being punished go on to re-offend. As you say, why continue with a method that clearly doesn’t work?

    “Of course, being a good father, whatever he received probably went to his daughters welfare.”

    Oh of course, how silly of me. Say, you wouldn’t like to buy this bridge I have a photo of, would you?

    “For her, at that time, in her culture, she would have been satisfied with the result.”

    So what? A medieval peasant would be happy on a near-starvation diet of thin stew and black bread, while his ‘betters’ dine on 20 course meals. Doesn’t make it right. Oh, and there’s a difference between ‘satisfied with’ and ‘accepting of’.

    “I have my own theory about how God created humans and for what reasons.”

    But do you have any evidence for it, or are we just speculating about the decoration on the orbiting teapot?

    And at this point I want to emphasize the importance of including all of the information evidence we can when trying to determine a state or a situation.

    “Be warned that I have a lot still to comment on.”

    But will you be saying anything new?

    • Daz
    • September 12th, 2011

    Just a thought, re the ‘bashing the Qur’an’ thing.

    It occurred to me that the both of the other Abrahamic religions use the books we’re ploughing through at the moment (well, I’m not sure that Muslims use them, as such, but I’m fairly sure they acknowledge some as being true), but presumably interpret them differently. Could be quite interesting, if anyone knows those interpretations, to have a brief summary in the comments on each of KK’s posts.

    • Dan
    • September 12th, 2011

    I am overwhelmed with your responses. Nice to know you athiests are not as dogmatic as religeous people. Will try to read all comments directed at me and respond. However, this may take forever.

    Dialogue is good don’t you think between opposing views? I’m sure you can all teach me a thing or two. I know that such exchanges have occurred before with neither side surrendering to the other, but hey, I want to learn, to be proven wrong. I want you to convince me with your brilliant minds what is Truth (truth). So far you haven’t, and, so far you haven’t convinced the majority of the worlds population that there is no spiritual world. I think your loosing the battle guys, work harder.

      • Daz
      • September 12th, 2011

      Here ya go. Come back when you’re actually willing to listen.

        • Benjamin(SonOfTheRightHand)
        • September 12th, 2011

        Haha, I loled at the link.

      • Dave
      • September 13th, 2011

      The Truth is 42, the great Douglas Adams showed us that years ago. Truth can’t exist as an arbitrary concept. Something can be true, you can find out the truth about something, a statement, concept or idea can be evaluated for truth. But capital-T Truth can’t exist as some vague nebulous all-encompassing concept. What would you like to know the truth about? If you can’t form a proper question about it, how can anyone know what you are looking for?

      Here are some truths for you..

      Diseases are caused by microscopic organisms, not evil spirits.

      Lightning is a discharge of electricity, not god getting pissy and smiting things.

      The earth didn’t pop into being over a 6-day period, it was formed approx 4.5bil years ago through a process called accretion.

      Women should NOT be stoned to death for not being virgins on their wedding nights.

      All of these truths contradict the gathered myths of some bronze-age goat-herders, despite the fact that they believed them to be true at the time.

      Unrelatedly, Daz is right. Stop lumping together atheists into categories that don’t apply. The only thing I have in common with all other atheists is that I don’t believe in god or gods. We all have our own unique opinions on everything else.

        • Ron
        • September 13th, 2011

        Women should NOT be stoned to death for not being virgins on their wedding nights.

        Just a small quibble:

        If by “should not” you mean there are legal sanctions against doing so, then this is a truth.

        However at a philosophical level, there is no empirical reason for asserting this as a truth; it falls into Hume’s “is-ought” dilemma, and an astute theist will quickly point this out and assert that atheists have no objective framework upon which to base their moral values.

    • Dan
    • September 12th, 2011

    Daz
    Been there. Done that.

    • Dan
    • September 13th, 2011

    Daz. (and everyone else )

    I am going to answer your questions one by one. There are about 5 of you and one of me and besides, this is not my day job, and, I am not as prolific a writer as KK and probably never will be. If you want me to answer all of your questions you are going to have to either slow down or wait for a long time.

    I’m going back to a previous answer of an answer regarding ‘criminal reoffenders’.
    I have done a little research on the numbers. Criminology is certainly a huge study. It is another subject of which you and I could debate over for the rest of our lives, and, we can if you like. However, in my opinion there are other more important subjects like science and religeon. I can’t wait to discuss ‘dark matter’ ‘quantum theory’ ‘black holes’ with you all, and, to obtain your most insightful opinions.

    Now, at first attempts it appears very hard to obtain statistics of reoffenders. Couldn’t find any immediate US or Australian figures, they appeared buried somewhere, and, they may take me a long time to uncover. I did, however, find some interesting information from the United Kingdom. In summary it indicates the following, quote:—

    ” Around 70% of criminals who commit offences after they are freed from prision carry out more serious crimes then they were originally convicted of” (Ministery of Justice. UK).
    Further quoting:— “Successive governments have talked about the value of rehibilitation but these figures show that not only are exprisoners reoffending they are committing worse crimes than before, strongly suggesting that rehabilitation has failed”.
    Further quoting:- “These figures underline the need for a completely new aproach to tackling reoffending……”
    (www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=15810)

    Now, I don’t know whether the USA or Australia has any better criminals than the United Kingdom, but, I assume (only assume) that the figures are similar. Of course we could debate this point also if you like.

    Folks, we may have stumbled onto something of significant importance to our community and world here. I believe, that if we got our priorities right, we would leave aside our bible, koran and science bashing and persue a life in solving the Criminal Justice systems in each of our countries.

    Daz, lets do something! There are a lot of murder, rape, assault, robbery etc victims of repeat offenders out there and, its getting worse. Can there come a Saviour from the atheist community? Do atheists care?

    I’m unsure, however, as to whether your suggested solution would make an impact on the situation :- “Let the jury, psychologists, psychiatrists, lawmakers etc decide”. Well, why haven’t they already got it decided? This present System has been in place for centuries.

    Of course, spiritual people care, but, these days the secular world will have nothing to do with the spiritual. The present secular world will tear itself apart and continue on its path to destruction as the spiritual books have prophecied. I support my theory by the research and evidence shown by the present secular world, and, I can almost guarantee that thing won’t get any better.

    I repeat my earlier statement (theory) that:- ” you place females in greater danger in society today under the present incarceration system”.

    • Daz
    • September 13th, 2011

    Dan. Okay, you’ve shown that the present system isn’t working. No one’s disagreed with that anyway, though. What I’ve been saying (I won’t presume to speak for others) is that the present system makes no real effort to rehabilitate. Indeed the U.S. system is being used—and people are being locked up who quite frankly shouldn’t be—as a privatised corporate money-maker.

    By the way, re-read what I said. I did not say that juries were being used in the process of testing whether criminals are rehabilitated or not. I pointed to the benefit of the doubt that juries are quite rightly told to give, as an example of an already existing balance-of-judgement point.

    If present methods of rehabilitation, such as they are, are failing, then I’d suggest that new ways of doing it should be explored. And certainly the idea of punishment as a deterrent isn’t working. Your own figures show that. It probably never has. I’ll stress this again: As far as I can tell, no real, concerted, effort is currently made to actually try to rehabilitate criminals.

    “Do atheists care?”

    Yes, no, sometimes. Atheists aren’t a sect, or a church, or a creed. Humanists care. Liberals care. Some of those humanists and liberals are atheists, some aren’t. Atheism is merely the refusal to believe in gods with no evidence. If you quit applying group labels and start thinking of people as people, you might do better at this debating lark.

    “Of course, spiritual people care”

    Bollocks. Spiritual people, in the sense you appear to be using it, are people who believe in some form of supernaturalism. Nothing more. They can be as good or as bad as anyone else.

    “I repeat my earlier statement (theory) that:- ” you place females in greater danger in society today under the present incarceration system”.”

    Well, yes. See my first and third paragraphs.

  2. Unholy cow people. I leave for a few 15 hour shifts and you have a massive discussion without me. Damn, I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sigh. Pardon my coming late to the party and forgive my lack of comment here, but it will take me a good half an hour to catch up. Maybe I can save it on my iPod and read it at lunch tomorrow.

    Anyway, good job. You people are just too damned cool. and funny… way too damned funny. Have a nice night.

      • Daz
      • September 13th, 2011

      KK, I know the feeling! I did a spell of 16-hours recently, taking two 8-hours with different employment agencies. It’s knackerin’ but it pays the bills, and helps cover the times when no work’s forthcoming.

      • Yeah. Those damned bills. The good thing about this job is that for the first time in my career I am close enough to walk to work. I’m working at the North dakota State capital building for the next week. Usually dealing with a commute of 40 to 90 miles. Needless to say, this is so much nicer.

        For years I have been envious of those people walking by my house going to work at the capital and now, for a short period of time, I am one of them. I am really moving up in the world.

        PS. I am also working my ass off. By the blacken bowel of Buddha, I feel as if I’ve been beaten by a club.

        Thank Darwin for beer.

    • Benjamin (SonOfTheRightHand)
    • September 13th, 2011

    Fun annectdotal story! I did a two month medicine rotation inside a state prison. Guess what kinda criminals I saw? Murderers, rapists, child molesters, thieves, vandals, assaulters, and most of all, drug abusers. I met 18 year olds with 6 children and 6 baby mommas. I would venture to guess that those babies are more likely to partake in criminal activity later. Instead of uniting to improve rehabilitation efforts, I propose free voluntary sterilization for inmates!

    By the way, “worse crimes” is not a quantifiable statistic.

      • Daz
      • September 13th, 2011

      “By the way, “worse crimes” is not a quantifiable statistic.”

      What about ‘more heinous’? Not having seen how they quantify it, I’m guessing here, but it probably means that a thief is more likely to turn to robbery with violence, etc.

      I’d want to see some really detailed studies before I accept Dan’s 70% figure, though. A result as clearly stated as that on such a fuzzy-edged subject smells of agenda. (For the record, I’d be just as suspicious if it looked amazingly low.)

        • Mary2
        • September 14th, 2011

        Daz, you are correct as usual. Dan’s recidivism rates are taken from The Guardian and therefore inherently dodgy. Mine, one the other hand are taken from Wikipedia and therefore totally reliable. Recividism rates in Britain are about 50%, while in the USA they are 60%. What Dan didn’t mention is that rates of reoffending are higher from criminals who were sentenced to prison than those doing community service. Also, recidivism among rapists (USA figures) is 2.5% while murderers are at 1%. Career type crimes like theft are 70% and thus skew the figures.

        We might also note that Dan’s quote is not that 70% of ex-cons reoffend but that 70% of those who DO reoffend go on to commit worse crimes. My maths is not good enough to work out what 70% of 2.5% of convicted rapists is, but my guess is the number is not big (obviously 1 would be too big).

        Dan, can you please, please, please stop saying that our criminal justice system places women in danger. Do you know which group in society is far more likely to be the victim of a crime than women? YOUNG MEN. Yes, that is correct. Men are much more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than women are. So please stop perpetuating the myth that we poor women need to be protected. All people need to be protected.

        Another myth that you can stop spreading is that this is getting worse. Crimes rates have been steadily DECREASING for decades.

        I am not sure why you think you are the first person to discover the flaws in the criminal justice system, but if you (and Daz if he answers your invitation) are planning to solve these problems you should be aware that the evidence all shows that an emphasis on rehabilitation works much better than punishment

        Now, can we please get on to discussing something that is a) slightly more relevant to the subject of atheism/religion, or b) that you know something about.

        And while I am being unforgivably rude to a guest on this blog, Dan, please cut the obsequiousness. You responses and increasing hostility show that you obviously do not think that we have any special insight or anything to teach you (nor should you believe this) so please stop saying so. We are happy to talk with out the flattery.

        BTW I think I can beat Ron’s word of the blog with ‘pecksniffian’: it seemed kind of relevant here – or maybe I’m getting overly sensitive. It must be my delicate womanly sensibilities.

    • Daz
    • September 14th, 2011

    Mary:

    Erm…

    2.5⁄100 = 0.025
    0.025 × 70 = bugger, where’s me calculator? 1.75

    Re: not getting worse, but improving. Indeed. The ‘footpad on every corner’ scenario that the religious-right like to wail about is actually more like the Victorian period that those self-same religious conservatives would like to return us to, along with rampant prostitution and child labour. (How’s that for getting somewhat back on topic? :-) )

    [To be fair, KK's comment boards have never really stayed on topic, but we do seem to have swung away more wildly than usual.]

    Dan was, I believe, about to tell us what grounds he has for believing in unproven and unevidenced gods and such, rather than evidence-based scientific enquiry&helip;

    • numpty
    • September 14th, 2011

    Don’t post much on here but I greatly enjoy this site…however, I cannot hold it in much longer….Dan, it’s..

    …ReligION and ReligIOUS!

    Sorry for the spelling Nazi post :/

    I do feel better now though :)

  3. OK. Let’s start here.

    “Like in Moses day when some of the israelites started believing in a golden calf (which was used to sacrifice their sons and daughters by the way), and moses had to order their execution. I mean, do you want anyone living in your street who believed in sacrificing your son or daughter?”

    Oh, if we only had a dollar for every time one religion had justified it’s atrocities against another by using the old, “They sacrifice children,” line. Pogrom after pogrom against the Jews was justified by claiming that they sacrificed Christian children. In the middle ages, Jews were blamed for the plague amidst whisperings of child sacrifice. Untold numbers of supposed witches, heretics or simple followers of a different version of the Christian God have died by the sword, hanging or burning alive, and so often the crime of “child sacrifice” is brought forth with no proof. From the Romans massacring the druids to the Spanish conquering the Native Americans, too many have used this excuse to simply slaughter those that were contenders for power. Moreover, this has often been used as a justification for what has already taken place. We have a need to believe that the people we have already slaughtered are devils and nothing makes them worse that child sacrifice.

    Although the butchery of children was certainly known in the middle east at this time, (Nothing demonstrates this better than Abraham’s immediate acceptance of throwing his own son on the altar. He didn’t even ask God why.) there is little solid proof of this rite being so common.

    There are many theories of what the Golden Calf actually represents from a solid manifestation of Yahweh to a mount for him. Remember after casting the calf Aaron said, ““Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” Sound a lot like he’s taking about The God.

    The Golden calf was not about good against evil. It was about the direction a newly budding religion would take but even more so about who would lead it. Moses won that argument by “Sacrificing” thousands of his fellow hebrews to his version of God.

    BTW, after killing al the Egyptian first born, the Lord of Genocide can hardly quibble over the murder of some other children.

    In the words of Matthew “”You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

      • Mary2
      • September 15th, 2011

      Too true. You can still find propaganda posters from WWI showing the ‘Huns’ eating children, the Nazis in WWII promoted the idea that Jews sacrificed them, Gypsys have always been accused of stealing children and Homosexuals of recruiting (or raping) them.

      ‘Think of the children’ is always a useful catch-cry.

      I don’t remember the golden calf story actually mentioning children. Doea anyone else?

  4. Second,

    “Except that the latest scientific evidence reveals that the universe doesn’t behave in the way it should. Hmmm.
    Yes, science is the best we have had, but, is it any longer?”

    No offense but what the hell does that mean. Where has science failed us so completely that you are actually advocating tossing it to the side and replacing it with… what exactly. That sentence scares the shit out of me because it mirrors so much what so many Republican Candidates are screaming from every pulpit they can.

    Obviously science doesn’t know everything. In the excellent words of Dara O’briain “If it did, it would stop.” Science is the process of learning, not some place we can rest at. Just because science can’t explain every single phenomenon, doesn’t mean you just get to fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you (also from Dara).

    To me saying “Yes, science is the best we have had, but, is it any longer?” is the same as saying “Thinking clearly is the best we can do and has done us wonders, but is it really better than the alternatives which of course would be “not thinking clearly” and, pardon the expression, “shoving one’s head up one’s ass.”

    Allow me to diagnose your difficulty here, Dan. The way of reason and science isn’t making you happy, not because it can’t explain things but because it can’t explain what you really want it to. You are not looking for Truth with a capital “T”. You are looking for Reason with a capital “R”. Reason as in why are you here and what is your purpose? By digesting your writing for the last day or so, it has become apparent that instead of a quest for truth, you are on a quest to find meaning in your life.

    Many people’s most difficult moment on becoming an atheist is not the loss of God but rather, the terror of realizing that we are in the world alone, and the stories don’t always end happily.

    You just need to have the epiphany that the rest of us have had. We decide the priorities of our life. We decide the meaning. We get to pick what is important and what is not. Not some God’s dictate on boiling kid’s in mother’s milk or eating bats. Us!

    Look around you. The vast majority of us are going to find great satisfaction in helping our neighbors and being respected by them, in raising and loving our wives and children, in making the world a better place. We all want to matter. I just refuse to look for my answers on how to matter in a bronze age work of fiction. I demand the right to find my own. Those answers include being the best person I can, helping who I am able and since this is our one shot at life and sentience, living my life to the fullest.

    Anything else, anything at all, is a waste.

      • Daz
      • September 14th, 2011

      Sorry, I just had to post the video…

      • Mary2
      • September 15th, 2011

      Apparently bats taste very good. We have very big fruit bats here and they are eaten by the local Indigenous people – who also believe that eating them cures asthma.

    • son0f7h3righ7hand
    • September 15th, 2011

    Great points KK.
    I got an official account.

    • Dan
    • September 16th, 2011

    Guys,
    I’m back. Working, family, you know how it is.
    I haven’t gotton past the verse quoted to me in Deuteronomy22 v 28-29.
    I will be studing your comments carefully word by word, line by line. I believe that we are not to assume anything

    I am not a qualified bible schollar so I have made a quick google search to see if there are another comments by more learned people than myself on the subject. It appears that you guys have not studied the bible thoroughly (or me for that matter). I am not going to reiterate other peoples findings here because the subject is too large for this post, however, I am going to point you all to this w/site:
    answering-islam.org/authors/shamoun
    Then go to bottom of page and click on ‘former index page’ then go to ‘General Issues’ then to ‘Does the bible condone rape’ or just do a google search on Deuteronomy 22 v 28 and click on the above site.

    When studying to find the truth (Truth) we need an open mind. If God is not true (or the Truth) none of us need worry, however, if God and what he says is true (the Truth) then those who do not believe in him will have a lot to answer for.

      • Anonymous
      • September 16th, 2011

      It’s getting annoying. Can’t handle the pseudo-religious mindset.

      Dan! Great news buddy. The Truth is hidden within the fountain of youth, which we all know is Bigfoot’s private bath. Go get that Truth!

        • Ron
        • September 17th, 2011

        It’s too late. The Spaniards destroyed the fountain of youth.

      • Mary2
      • September 16th, 2011

      If God is true, then he is a cruel and capricious bastard and not worthy of anyone’s worship.

      What kind of divine all loving being continually needs his followers to make excuses for him?

      • Daz
      • September 17th, 2011

      If God is not true (or the Truth) none of us need worry, however, if God and what he says is true (the Truth) then those who do not believe in him will have a lot to answer for.

      Dan, Blaise Pascal died 350 years ago and his wager was as flawed then as it is now. Please, let the poor sod have some peace!

    • ////I had sent a mail to Thamizmanam, asking them to block all the IP’s from Malaysia. I had rieceved couple of Smily’s :):) like this from them.//The request deserves some more smiley. Mr. Ravi, as a techie don’t you know that this is like ** ம ட ட ப ச ச க க பயந த வ ட ட க ள த த வத ** ?whom you are trying to fool?//Ravi can open an blog aggregator like Tamilmanam and ban all sites coming from Malaysia, Singapore or anywhere, and allow only those blogs which sing the glory of things he likes very much.

    • Daz
    • September 17th, 2011

    It’s okay everybody, I’ve found The Truth!

    It was down the back of the sofa, along with £3.58 in assorted change, half a packet of mouldy peanuts, a penknife I thought I’d lost, and the TV remote.

      • Mary2
      • September 17th, 2011

      Ah, but have you found Jesus?

        • Daz
        • September 17th, 2011

        Not yet. There is an odd noise coming from the attic, though…

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  1. September 13th, 2011

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