Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How Jesus really looked?

If you read this: you will see that, if Jesus ever actually existed, he probably looked like this:

Not quite the picture on your Sunday School wall, is it?  And can you imagine what would happen if a chap looking like this turned up in a US airport right now?  He'd probably be arrested as a suspected terrorist!

Not that it matters because Jesus probably never existed anyway:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Should I be put to death?

It's Sunday, and I'm working.

Now the Bible is entirely clear about the sabbath.  In the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-12) we read:
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work : but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates : for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day : wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

[American version, note: "shalt thou labor" not "shalt thou labour", even thought America didn't exist when King James authorised this Bible.  Are you allowed to tamper with it like that? But I digress....]

[Also note: how the f*#k do you stop cattle from doing work?  Or, for that matter, how do you start them doing it? But I digress....again]

In Exodus 32:14 we read:
Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore ; for it is holy unto you. Every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death : for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Well I'm definitely working.  Whether that defiles the sabbath or not I don't know, so whether I get put to death or just "cut off" (ostracised, I assume) I'm not clear.

But, hold on a minute.  All of this is in the Old Testament, written for the Jews.  Their sabbath runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.  So surely this rule only applies to that period?

Or does the rule vary according to your religion.  If I were a Musilm I couldn't work from sundown on Thurday to sundown on Friday.  If I were a Christian I couldn't work on a Sunday (00:00h to 23:59h).

But I'm not any of these.  I'm not Jewish; I'm not a Christian; I'm not a Muslim; I'm an atheist.  So obviously the rule doesn't apply to me and I can work 24/7 if I want.

In which case why I am I restricted in what I can do by St. Helena's Sunday Trading laws?

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Bible and Same-sex Marriage

The Bible is often quoted by those that oppose same-sex marriage, and indeed gay-ness in general.  And they are entirely right – in Leviticus 18:22 is says “No man is to have sexual relations with another man; God hates that.”  (Note, by the way, that it doesn’t mention women.)

But I often wonder why these people haven’t noticed that it also says it's desirable to keep slaves, that unicorns exist, and that a rape victim should be stoned to death.

Don’t believe me?  OK:

·         Deuteronomy 20: 10/11 “When you go to attack a city, first give its people a chance to surrender. If they open the gates and surrender, they are all to become your slaves and do forced labour for you.”  (And , by the way, if they don’t surrender, you slaughter them.) Exactly how anyone reconciles attacking cities with “Love thy neighbour” is a mystery to me.

·         Unicorns get nine mentions.  How about Numbers 23:22 “God brought them out of Egypt ; he hath as it were the strength of a unicorn.”  Or Isaiah 34:7 “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”  Also note that later, in Isaiah 34:13, we read “And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof : and it shall be a habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.

·         Deuteronomy 22:23/24 says: “Suppose a man is caught in a town having intercourse with a young woman who is engaged to someone else. You are to take them outside the town and stone them to death.” And then helpfully explains “She is to die because she did not cry out for help”.  And, by the way, in verse 28/29 we read “Suppose a man is caught raping a young woman who is not engaged. He is to pay her father the bride price of fifty pieces of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he forced her to have intercourse with him.”  Being forced to marry your rapist?

Other things it says is that believers should:

·         Not eat shellfish [Leviticus 11:12 “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”];

·         Not wear clothes made of more than one material [Leviticus 19:19 “Do not crossbreed domestic animals. Do not plant two kinds of seed in the same field. Do not wear clothes made of two kinds of material.”]; and

·         Not shave their beard [Leviticus 19: 27 “Do not cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard.”]. 

And here’s one you should consider before driving: Leviticus 24:19 “If any of you injure another person, whatever you have done shall be done to you.

But, I hear you say, “we don’t believe that those rules still apply today”.
OK, then, who decides what applies today and what doesn’t?  Who decides that “Love thy neighbour” applies and stoning rape victims doesn’t?  Did God send another prophet that nobody has told me about?
What if I decide that I like the “Love thy neighbour” bit, but I want to ignore the whole believe-in-God bit?  Why can I not call myself a Christian?

It’s all just nonsense.  Either this is your Holy Book, in which case you have to follow ALL of it, or it’s just a collection of stories.  I’m quite happy with the latter, but if so stop quoting it at me when I want to legalise same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

God tells you how to dress

In our local Baptist Church hall a week or so ago a friend picked up a booklet which was clearly put there for visitors to read, entitled "What should I wear?" I've set out below some extracts from it:

"When Christians wear styles that expose, rather than cover the body, they dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Brief, tight, or otherwise revealing clothing is designed to accentuate those parts of the body which God intended to be hidden from sight."

"Enticing clothing, a product of our sexually permissive society, has been directly linked with the increase in rape, sexual abuse and other sex-related crimes."

"In today's permissive society where perversion is on the increase, men sometimes dress as women and vice versa."

"The trend towards sloppiness and carelessness in casual dress is an extreme which every Christian should avoid."

"T-Shirts [bearing] the names of rock groups or alcoholic drinks, and symbols depicting death, destruction and violence should be avoided."

"... excessive make-up can definitely associate us with the wrong element of society."

"A man should always be distinguishable as a man by his short hair, and a woman should always be distinguishable as a woman by her long hair."

Now apart from asking why our Baptists are peddling this crap in 2015, I thought you might want to know when this leaflet was produced.

1800's?  1950s?  No, it was first printed in 1990!  So in Danville, IL. 61832 USA the people of "Grace & Truth" apparently still believe this stuff and think it is their mission from God to foist it on others.

I despair.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cr*p on Facebook

My Facebook friends (though not usually the ones I actually know - I accept Friend requests from everyone, whether I actually know them or not.  Who knows, they may be interesting!  ... but I digress.) keep sharing stuff like this:
What am I supposed to do with it.  I don't believe there is a God, ever was a God or ever will be, so the proposition is entirely meaningless to me.

I've tried adding a witty Comment, but the result is usually that the perpetrator Unfriends me - which itself is interesting because it suggests that such people can only be friends with someone who shares their (to my mind, ridiculous) beliefs.  What narrow lives they must lead!

I've tried setting "Do not see posts from <<originator>>" (my 'friends' never generate these things themselves - they just recycle other people's stuff.)  The problem is that there seem to be too many originators.  There must be vast factories churning out this stuff, probably in the American Bible Belt.

So why do people post stuff like this to others they don't even know?  Are they trying to convert me?  I suspect not - they don't even know me or what I believe.

I think they re-post these messages to reassure themselves of their own beliefs.  A bit like buying a Volvo and then reading all the Volvo ads.

Or maybe they were too hung-over last Sunday to go to church and now feel guilty so re-post one of these messages to make up for it.

Or maybe there is so little of value in their lives they can't find anything more interesting to post.

Whatever the reason, I wish they wouldn't.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Damned if you do, ...

The Christian Right must be in a quandary today. There's a news item (The London Times has it) that British scientists have found a very old copy of the Koran and carbon dated it. Apparently it was written before the prophet Mohammed founded Islam. That would be an interesting discovery, but that's not what I find amusing. The Christian Right would no doubt love to promote this story. They could use it to claim that Islam is a sham. BUT they also hate Carbon Dating, because it proves that the world was not created by God waving his hand in 4004 BC, as they all want to believe. So accept Carbon Dating, damn Islam, but have to row back from Creationism? Or bury the whole story? I wonder what they will decide? PS: Fox News, known to be somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan, is carrying it.....

Friday, May 15, 2015

God says ...

I am God and I created you.

I created you with original sin.

Because you sinned, I decided that you had to be put to death.

To save you from death, I impregnated a woman and was born as myself so that I could die and atone to myself for the sins I gave you.

I am God and I am infallible.

Just not very sensible.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Religious bigotry backfires!

The "Good People" (for which read, religious zealots) of Indiana, USA, have just passed something called the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) ".  Their objective was to allow businesses and individuals to deny services to gays on religious grounds - a classic piece of legal bigotry that could only have been allowed in the USA.

But their hastily constructed legislation has a flaw.  And that flaw has been exploited.  By the "First Church of Cannabis Inc." - an organisation which 'believes' that smoking pot is part of its religion.  Smoking pot is illegal in Indiana, but under the new law that can be overridden in the case of a religious observance.

So while attempting to legalise discrimination against gays, the zealots have actually opened the door to legal pot smoking.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Religion gets in the way

On Friday 3rd April a cruise ship is visiting St. Helena. Normally all the shops would be open to meet the tourists' demand for souvenirs. Moonbeams Shop certainly would have been.  But not this time, because Friday 3rd April is Good Friday, and therefore a Public Holiday, and the Public Holidays Ordinance says that all "shops, offices, workshops and factories" must be closed.

The Governor could, under the Public Holidays Ordinance, have moved the date on which Good Friday was celebrated.  The Ordinance explicitly mentions him doing so for "ship visits".  But he decided not to, presumably because of the outcry from the Church that would have resulted.

So once again, religion is standing in the way of ordinary people going about their ordinary lives.

I hope the tourists enjoy their souvenir-free day.  Those who are Christians may understand - the Muslims, Jews, Atheists, etc. may feel somewhat hard done by, being forced to observe a religious rite that is not their own.  No wonder Christianity is held with such suspicion by all non-Christians.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Presbyterian Church (USA) changes its constitution to include gay marriage

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest body of Presbyterians in the country, approved a change in the wording of its constitution to allow gay and lesbian weddings within the church.

A small gleam of intelligence in an otherwise dim religious world?

The nation’s largest denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church and most evangelical churches, recognize marriage only as between a man and a woman. The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ allow same-sex marriage. The debate has roiled the United Methodist Church, another mainline denomination. Property disputes and litigation that have occupied the Episcopal Church in the past decade are now taking place among some Presbyterian churches.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"The Christmas story is a fact"

This weekend I spent some time working with a recording taken of the last five hours of Radio St. Helena.  I was editing it down for use on if it matters, which it doesn't really, except that it meant I ended up listening to an address by the "Lord Bishop" {stupid title - Bishops don't get to sit in the House of Lords, or at least, ours doesn't, I'm sure - but I digress.} Specifically I was listening to Bishop Fenwick's 2012 Christmas Address.

It's not something I would normally bother with. I try to avoid all official messages from any type of church leaders because they usually make me cross.  But this one made me laugh.  Out loud.  I woke up my son, Harry - he was not best pleased.  And what was the reason for this early morning hilarity?  It was the sentence "the Christmas story is a fact".

Yes, he really did say that - I rewound it and checked.

Now if he'd said "The Christmas story is a beautiful tale" I would not have batted an eyelid.  It is, after all, a fairly charming bit of nonsense.  But a fact?  Literally true.  All of it?  What, I found myself thinking, is this guy on?

So I listened a bit more and discovered that our Bishop professes to believe - and therefore probably does - that the events told in the Christmas story actually happened, exactly as described in the New Testament. Incredible!

I should say immediately that I have nothing against Bishop Fenwick as a person.  He seems to be a charming man.  It’s his beliefs I’m questioning.  And they wouldn't bother me if it wasn't for the fact [NB the verifiable fact] that the church here is allowed special privileges and is involved in the running of Government.  One of the vicars is, for example, on the Board that runs the 'Extractor', our Government-funded fishing boat which hasn't actually done any fishing for about six months because of a dispute between said Board and the fishermen who were supposed to crew it. I'm not sure why a churchman should be on this board. He has never, to my knowledge, been a fisherman, or maybe never even been fishing.  Maybe it's because Jesus is claimed to have said "I will make you fishers of men"?

My point is: do we really need people who believe the Christmas myth to be literal fact involved in running the island?  What next - mediums and astrologers? Didn't do the Romans much good, that didn't!

Still I suppose maybe it explains, at least partially, why our Government is in the mess it's in.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Isaac NewtonDid you celebrate Christmas?  I didn't.  I celebrated Newtonmass. 
Isaac Newton, whose work on mechanics is still in use nearly 300 years after his death, was born on 25th December 1642.  He is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus.

And the best thing is - he really WAS born on 25th December, unlike the other chap whose birth date is not truly known and whose birth is celebrated on 25th December simply because the early church took over an existing Pagan festival on the same(ish) date.