Truer words were never typed. Apart from being verifiable fact and the title of a popular book, these words offer context on how he can say such wildly inaccurate things while completely confident in how correct he is.
To wit: Rush Limbaugh has declared that NASA’s discovery of flowing water on Mars is evidence that they’ve been taken in by the Leftist global warming agenda.
While admitting that he doesn’t know exactly what it is, he “would assume it would be something to do with global warming.” He speculates that the next discoveries NASA brings us from the Big Red Marble will be the “mass graveyard” of “an advanced civilization” that collapsed as a result of global warming. Because he can never get enough of spreading the
truth, Limbaugh went on to tell us how NASA’s been lying to us about the temperature of Earth, no warming for the last 18.5 years, blah blah blah miscellaneous global warming denial.
Not content with his psycho-babble so far, he defended himself the next day, claimed that Politico and Media Matters had taken his comments out of context (despite featuring transcripts from his own website which I will NOT link to here) and went on to say that NASA timed this “discovery” to support Matt Damon’s new movie (as if NASA gives a damn) and that Obama turned NASA over to the Muslims, because the man has obviously started digesting his own brain by this point.
I now ask a question to the fans of Limbaugh: how the hell can you take this man seriously!?
NASA has announced evidence of flowing liquid water on Mars! The water is mixed with hydrated salts, which is why it does not freeze. Water makes the existence of life more likely. Perhaps in the future we will discover life on our neighboring planet.
I will agree that the current pope is better than many of his predecessors. But the new media are treating him like he is Christ himself (whom of course does not exist). Does the pope’s visit really merit the wall-to-wall coverage he is getting from CNN, MSNBC, and elsewhere? Do professional journalists really need to get starry-eyed and sometimes even teary-eyed over the visit of the pontiff? And yes, it is true the Francis has shifted focus to social justice, do we really need to laud him for that? Shouldn’t the Church have been focused on these issues long ago? And the pope remains very conservative on women’s issues.
In short, though he is a step up from some of his predecessors, by maintaining the authority of the institutional Church, the pope remains an enemy of free inquiry and unfettered rational thought.
At any rate, I am feeling a bit “poped out.” I am sick of hearing ad nauseum about every trivial detail of the pope’s visit to the US east coast.
I was just over at the “Positive Atheism” site, and I came across this quote from Voltaire, which appeared in a letter to an interlocutor following the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake, which killed thirty thousand people, with another seventy thousand lives snuffed out in the ensuing Tsunami:
“My dear sir, nature is very cruel. One would find it hard to imagine how the laws of movement cause such frightful disasters in the best of possible worlds. A hundred thousand ants, our fellows, crushed all at once in our ant-hill, and half of them perishing, no doubt in unspeakable agony, beneath the wreckage from which they cannot be drawn. Families ruined all over Europe, the fortune of a hundred businessmen, your compatriots, swallowed up in the ruins of Lisbon. What a wretched gamble is the game of human life! What will the preachers say, especially if the palace of the Inquisition is still standing? I flatter myself that at least the reverend father inquisitors have been crushed like others. That ought to teach men not to persecute each other, for while a few holy scoundrels burn a few fanatics, the earth swallows up one and all.”
Voltaire went on to write the moving poem “On the Disaster at Lisbon,” as well as his magnum opus, the novel Candide.
Recently, Ben Carson, one of the Republican clown candidates for President of the United States, got in a bit of trouble for indicating that he did not believe a Muslim could be acceptable as president, or that Islam accords with the U.S. Constitution.
Islam certainly has lots of problems, and, while there are without question far too many Muslim extremists, I think I could handle a Keith Ellison or someone similar as president. But why not just say this: in their capacity as private citizen, anyone should be able to engage in any religious practice whatsoever as long as it does not violate anyone else’s rights. But in their capacity as government actor, elected or appointed officials are bound by the parameters of the Constitution. They cannot use their power in the public sphere to impose there religious views on others or to inhibit lawful practice of religion or non-religion. It really is not that complicated. Yet, this principle is not understood by the likes of Kim Davis and her supporters, nor does Ben Carson understand the distinction.
It is too bad that right wing supposed defenders of the Constitution do not take the time to actually study it, and to understand the distinction between public and private.
One thing that really raises my blood pressure is when theisst who believe in the traditional model of the 3-0 god assert that all things happen for a reason. Really? If such a god exists, this must mean he had a reason for cancer, malaria, and smallpox, along with tsunamis, earthquakes, and other “natural” disasters (are they truly natural if they are part of an omnipotent deity’s plan?).
But some people just don’t seem to get the point in abstract, but need a concrete example. So here’s one: Little Bella Bond, only a toddler, was punched in the abdomen repeatedly by her mother’s boyfriend until she died; her body was then kept refrigerated for a month before the culprit finally disposed of it. If all things happen for a reason, and if god is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, then he must have had a reason for allowing that to happen. Why did he not protect this child? What prevented him, in his supposed might, from sheltering her from these vicious blows? I have been punched in the abdomen, and it is not a pleasant experience. Imagine the suffering of this poor, innocent, defenseless child as she was repeatedly pummeled by a grown man.
I defy anyone who believes in good, kind, and also all-knowing and all-powerful god to argue that there was a reason according to which the supposed loving almighty had to allow this to happen to little Bella.
As Flying Spaghetti Monster Indicated, there is a sort of immortality associated with at least some writers, thinkers, artists, and others. FSM was referring to Christopher Hitchens, but if there was an American (Hitch was born a Brit but became a US citizen) that surpassed Hitchens in acerbic wit or in his relentless flaying of religion, it was HL Mencken. At the book sale that served as a fundraiser for the Bovey library, I purchased a biography of Mencken by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers. I am just a short way into it, but it promises to be rewarding reading. At any rate, I thought it would be worthwhile to post a dedication by William Manchester, who knew Mencken and died himself in 2004. So here it is:
“Fifty years ago I spent my mornings reading to an old man who suffered, as I now suffer, from a series of strokes. He was a writer. He was H.L. Mencken. I have never known a kinder man. But when he unsheathed his typewriter and sharpened its keys, his prose was anything but kind. It was rollicking and it was ferocious. Witty, intellectual polemicists are a vanishing breed today. Their role has been usurped by television boobs whose IQs measure just below their body temperatures. Some journalism schools even warn their students to shun words that may hurt. But sometimes words should hurt. That is why they are in the language. When terrorists slaughter innocents, when corporation executives betray the trust of their shareholders, when lewd priests betray the trust of little children, it is time to mobilize the language and send it into battle.
When Mencken died in January 1956, he was cremated. That was a mistake. He should have been “rolled in malleable gold and polished to blind the cosmos.” I still miss him. America misses him more.”
In an age in which the likes of Donald Trump can be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, it is time for us all to sharpen our words.
This article about an alarming new law in the United Arab Emirates appeared on secular.org (National Secular Society):
UAE makes ‘offending God’ illegal
Posted: Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:02
The United Arab Emirates has passed an ‘anti-hatred’ law which it has claimed will help tackle discrimination, but which outlaws ‘insulting’ religion.
The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, reportedly said that the decree “guarantees the freedom of individuals from religious intolerance.” He claimed that the new law was ‘inclusive’.
However Gulf News reports that the legislation makes illegal “any acts that stoke religious hatred” and “any form of expression” that insults religion.
The law, passed by decree at the end of July, “prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards.”
The legislation purports to allow for an “environment of tolerance” and “broad-mindedness”, but includes potential 10 year jail terms and substantial fines for those who break the law.
Provisions in the legislation include a prohibition on expressing doubt about the existence of God.
NSS president Terry Sanderson commented: “The UAE are using anti-discrimination legislation as a cover to criminalise all manner of dissent- including blasphemy. It is dispiriting, and sadly unsurprising to see yet another crackdown on religious freedom and freedom of speech in the Islamic world.
“As with the recent comments from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Islamic Affairs, the language of human rights, freedom and tolerance are subverted in order to further an Islamist agenda, in this case under the guise of an anti-discrimination statute. In fact, this legislation insults the concept of equality by creating discrimination against non-believers.”
While the law does make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and on some other characteristics, it undermines these provisions by criminalising the expression of atheism and with its severe restrictions on free speech.
There have also been concerns that the anti-discrimination provisions of the legislation make no reference to sexual orientation, and therefore offer no protection to victims of discrimination on the basis of their sexuality.
Mr Sanderson added: “It’s important that attention is drawn to laws like these, particularly given that so many Islamist regimes are intent on enacting global laws against the ‘defamation of religion’.
“These attempts often cynically hijack the vocabulary of human rights, something which we also see from many groups and activists in the West who lobby for de facto blasphemy legislation.”
I am so thankful to be living in a time in human history when the wisdom, humor and unapologetic positions taken by the irreplaceable Christopher Hitchens continue to be available to us even after his untimely death. If only the ancients had had access to what we take for granted in modern education and technology. Bronze Age YouTube and Google: where might we be now as a species had they existed (or some equivalent access to information and critical thinking)? I hope our species can survive/evolve to find out what that enlightened future might look like.