Dying to Believe

Number 114 in a series

Actually, you don’t have to die. Sometimes close is close enough:

North Florida Woman Crashes Into Home After Closing Eyes To Pray While Driving

Police didn’t indicate which prayer she said

A North Florida woman is saying her prayers after running her car into a home — fter saying her prayers.

The 28-year-old woman was driving in the tiny town of Mary Esther, located west of Fort Walton Beach in the Florida Panhandle. Deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office say the driver told them she was praying and had her eyes closed before the incident took place.

According to NWFDailyNews.com, authorities say she ran a stop sign, going through an intersection and into the yard of a home. The driver tried to back out, but her car got stuck in sand and dirt around the home.

Wait, wait! She didn’t have to  admit she had her eyes closed. She could have told police she blacked out for a moment. I mean, why else would somebody actually close their eyes while driving down a city street? Religion is one possible answer.

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Dying to Believe

Number 113 in a series

Sometimes religious belief is downright embarrassing:

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — After battling for more than four years to keep a comatose daughter declared brain dead from being issued a California death certificate, Nailah Winkfield forcefully told mourners at her daughter’s funeral service Friday to stop letting doctors “pull the plug on your people.”

The San Francisco Bay Area congregation gave Winkfield a standing ovation for fighting to keep her daughter on life support and taking on the medical establishment in the brain death debate between science and religion.

Wait, there’s more:

Winkfield refused to accept the California doctors’ conclusions and took her daughter to New Jersey, a state that accommodates religions that don’t recognize brain death.

The girl was kept on life support and received nursing care until New Jersey doctors declared her dead last week, saying the 17-year-old died of excessive bleeding after an abdominal operation.

There is more that makes the story additionally interesting. The girl’s tonsillectomy was not routine:

She underwent surgery on December 9, 2013 at the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. After the procedure to remove her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue Jahi was alert and talking to doctors and even requested a Popsicle.

The girl’s family figures that God played a hand:

“My child was never dead, she was always alive and I thank God that the state of New Jersey realized that and that’s why she has a whole other death certificate with a whole other cause of death,” said Winkfield.

I’m guessing that God was taking the day off when Winkfield’s daughter died.

The Quintessence of Dumbshitia

Number 5 in a continuing thread

There’s a load of dumb shit going around, but you already knew that. This series of posts is about dumb shit. In fact, it’s about the quintessence of dumb shit, explicitly, the quintessence of Dumbshitia, whence comes all dumb shit. This piece of dumb shit comes from Israel:

Lawmaker Yinon Azoulay (Shas) said Wednesday that Reform Jews “are not Jews” and blamed the minor quakes in the GalileeWednesday morning on the lobby to build an egalitarian prayer space in the Western Wall.

Speaking at a Knesset debate on the contested mixed-gender prayer space in the Western Wall, Azoulay said: “Today we heard there was some kind of earthquake, maybe we should do some soul-searching that this earthquake was because someone is trying to touch that which is sacred to us? Hear our pain, they are not Jews.”

Let’s hear that again: “Today we heard there was some kind of earthquake, maybe we should do some soul-searching that this earthquake was because someone is trying to touch that which is sacred to us? Hear our pain, they are not Jews.” Not Jews? He’s speaking of reform Jews here. My interpretation: he’s blaming a small earthquake on Jews he considers not to be pure Jews.

Yes you heard it. Reform Jews, whatever they are doing, may have caused an earthquake. We might  wonder how that works. We may wonder in perpetuity.

Listen, dude, earthquakes are generally caused by the unsettled interior of this planet. Masses of plasticized material churn, shifting the overlaying crust. This puts the crust into mechanical stress, and from time to time the crustal plates rupture, with adjacent plates moving with respect to each other. The energy released represents built up strain energy, and movement is sudden and often  violent. People walking around and saying stuff does not cause earthquakes.

The headline for the above news item calls Mr. Azoulay “ultra-orthodox.” I’m taking from that he must be one of those who also believe the Earth is a little over 6000 years old. In that case, any statements regarding people talking and doing minor things (no a-bomb blasts) can cause an earthquake is the quintessence of Dumbshitia.

Dying to Believe

Number 112 in a series

Religion can be your friend, except when it is not. This isn’t Jonestown or even Heaven’s Gate. But I go with what comes around:

New Delhi (CNN) — Eleven members of a family in India’s capital Delhi were found dead in their house Sunday, 10 of them hanging from an iron grill on the ceiling, in an incident police say may be related to occult practices.

We can hope there is not a lot of that going around. We can hope in vain.

See also…

Heart of Dimness

Here is number 13

At the bottom of this page there is a section for comment, and there is a box for readers who want to leave a comment. I moderate these comments with the intent to approve all.  Ones I do not approve are those obviously spam or otherwise not related to  the topic of the original post.

As a result I receive comments expressing opposing views, and you might think I approve these out of an exalted sense of fairness, and that is partly true. Another reason I try to approve opposing comments is that they often reinforce the theme of this blog, ,that theme being that Skeptical Analysis can bring light to controversial issues. In so many cases it turns out that those who think they are giving weight to their wrong-headed notions are, in effect, doing the opposite. People pushing back against what I purport to be my voice of reason often reveal, in their comments, their lack of understanding, effectively reinforcing my original post. At other times the person posting a comment inadvertently reveals something else about where he/she is coming from.

Without much elaboration, what (eventually) follows is a comment to something I posted two years ago. The title of the original is “44 Reasons Why Evolution Is Just A Fairy Tale For Adults,” and it reflects the title of an item posted on a site called D.C. Clothesline, and here is what I had to say at the time:

This is amazing. I picked this link off my Facebook feed Friday and took a quick read. I am pasting it here:

The theory of evolution is false.  It is simply not true.  Actually, it is just a fairy tale for adults based on ancient pagan religious philosophy that hundreds of millions of people around the world choose to believe with blind faith.  When asked to produce evidence for the theory of evolution, most adults in the western world come up totally blank.  When pressed, most people will mumble something about how “most scientists believe it” and how that is good enough for them.  This kind of anti-intellectualism even runs rampant on our college campuses.  If you doubt this, just go to a college campus some time and start asking students why they believe in evolution.  Very few of them will actually be able to give you any real reasons why they believe it.  Most of them just have blind faith in the priest class in our society (“the scientists”).  But is what our priest class telling us actually true?  When Charles Darwin popularized the theory of evolution, he didn’t actually have any evidence that it was true.  And since then the missing evidence has still not materialized.  Most Americans would be absolutely shocked to learn that most of what is taught as “truth” about evolution is actually the product of the overactive imaginations of members of the scientific community.  They so badly want to believe that it is true that they will go to extraordinary lengths to defend their fairy tale.  They keep insisting that the theory of evolution has been “proven” and that it is beyond debate.  Meanwhile, most average people are intimidated into accepting the “truth” about evolution because they don’t want to appear to be “stupid” to everyone else.

In this day and age, it is imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves.  Don’t let me tell you what to think, and don’t let anyone else tell you what to think either.  Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.  The following are 44 reasons why evolution is just a fairy tale for adults…

My post from two years ago involved language that addressed each of the author’s 44 points. As of yesterday I count four responses to my original post, and here I submit the most recent.

It funny that very evidence your looking for from your statement is right there every-time you look in the mirror, breathe, eat or poop, your quoted “The entire theory of evolution is based on blind faith.” Yes! All of it! Luckily, creationism requires no act of blind faith… All it asks of you is to accept the existence of an omnipotent creator” if you or anything on this earth were not perfect first time nothing not bacteria would exist ……… Not once did the did you respond to anything with factual information or try to disprove it all you had was condescending childish retorts and sarcasm, your a fool and made yourself look foolish while trying to dismiss the article, that presented fact while showing error as opposed to your troll attack ….. smh in the end you’ll find out but then it will be too late

As I typically do, I copied and pasted the writer’s original text, making no attempt at correcting the language, which says something about the person posting the response. This is possibly reason number 12 I created and maintain the Skeptical Analysis blog.

Dying to Believe

Number 109 in a series

Jesus works in mysterious ways and in many disguises. Such as in this case:

Pastor killed by crocodile during water baptism

A water baptism ceremony held near a lake turned into a horrific tragedy when the pastor was reportedly grabbed by a crocodile Sunday.

Pastor Docho Eshete was baptizing at least 80 members of his Protestant congregation at Lake Abaya, in southern Ethiopia, an area known to have a huge crocodile population, when one of the creatures leaped out of the water and grabbed him.

“He baptized the first person and he passed on to another one,” a local resident told the BBC. “All of a sudden, a crocodile jumped out of the lake and grabbed the pastor.”

Jesus wanted him to come home, right now.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Sam was the owner of a world-wide chain of stores and a multi-millionaire. When his daughter became engaged to a very religious young man, Sam called the prospective groom into his office for a chat.

“Tell me,” Sam asked the fiancée, “what are your plans for the future?”

“I plan on spending the remainder of my life studying the holy works,” the man replied.

“And, given this, how do you expect to support my daughter?” Sam continued.

“I am sure the Lord will provide,” was the answer.

“And what about your children? How do you expect to support them?” Sam persisted.

“The Lord will provide,” was the answer.

After the interview Sam met with his wife. “What do you think of your future son-in-law?” she asked.

“He’s just great,” responded Sam. I only met him, and already he thinks I’m the Lord.

This is your President speaking.

Number 110 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!

Well played, Mr. President, well played. But the question remains: how whacked out do you have to be to earn a presidential pardon these days? We may have, this day, established a new standard.

Dying to Believe

Number 107 in a series

The depth of human folly seems to have no limits, and five hundred years of enlightenment have been for naught. Unsubstantiated belief remains the deadly sinkhole it always was:

Infection alert after dying Ebola patients taken to Congo prayer meeting

Fortunately for this country, our highest elected officials have grown past false belief. Wait! Never mind.

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

Number 16 of a continuing series

Yes, they really do. Take, for instance, right wing religious fanatic Paul McGuire, as brought to my attention by Dead State:

Last week, End Times author Paul McGuire appeared on the Jim Bakker Show and declared that President Trump is currently engulfed in “the greatest spiritual battle in the history of all mankind.” He expanded on his claim on his radio program this Thursday, this time clarifying that the battle is with “advanced beings” who possess “supernatural multidimensional” powers.

Allow me to restate for emphasis: “supernatural multidimensional” powers. I can get the supernatural part, because that’s what right wing religious fanatics are all about. But “multidimensional?” Whoa! That’s mathematics. That’s supposed to be my department.

But wait. Before this gets even weirder, it’s worth taking a look at the video from the Jim Bakker Show linked above. For those who don’t have time to wade through all 58 minutes, here are a few screen shots and some quotes:

First of all, a big part of this video is about selling McGuire’s book, Trumpocalypse. It is co-authored by Troy Anderson, who also appears in the video.

Of course, there is Jim Bakker, now out of prison:

James Orsen Bakker, born January 2, 1940) is an American televangelist, former Assemblies of God minister, convicted felon, and former host (with his former wife, Tammy Faye Bakker) of The PTL Club, an evangelical Christian television program. Bakker is also known for building Heritage USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina, a former Christian theme park which opened in 1978 and closed in 1989. He has written several books, including I Was Wrong and Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead.

A cover-up of hush money paid to Bakker’s secretary, Jessica Hahn, for alleged rape led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his conviction, imprisonment and divorce. Bakker later remarried and returned to televangelism, where he works on The Jim Bakker Show. He sells buckets of food to his audience on the show, in preparation for the end of days.

Also:

Crimes

The PTL Club’s fundraising activities between 1984 and 1987 were reported by The Charlotte Observer, eventually leading to criminal charges against Bakker. Bakker and his PTL associates sold $1,000 “lifetime memberships”, entitling buyers to an annual three-night stay at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA, during that period. According to the prosecution at Bakker’s fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships were sold but only one 500-room hotel was ever finished. Bakker sold “exclusive partnerships” which exceeded capacity, raising more than twice the money needed to build the hotel. Much of the money paid Heritage USA’s operating expenses, and Bakker kept $3.4 million.

A $279,000 payoff for the silence of Jessica Hahn, who alleged that Bakker and pastor John Wesley Fletcher drugged and raped her, was paid with PTL’s funds through Bakker’s associate Roe Messner. Bakker, who made the PTL organization’s financial decisions, allegedly kept two sets of books to conceal accounting irregularities. Charlotte Observer reporters, led by Charles Shepard, investigated the PTL organization’s finances and published a series of articles.

On March 19, 1987, after the disclosure of a payoff to Hahn, Bakker resigned from PTL. Although he acknowledged that he met Hahn at a hotel room in Clearwater, Florida, he denied raping her. In late March 1987, Bakker was succeeded as PTL head by Jerry Falwell. Later that summer, as donations declined sharply in the wake of Bakker’s resignation and the end of the Bakkers’ PTL Club TV program, Falwell raised $20 million to keep PTL solvent and took a promised water slide ride at Heritage USA.

Fraud conviction and imprisonment

After a 16-month federal grand-jury probe, Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina, a jury found him guilty on all 24 counts. Judge Robert Daniel Potter sentenced Bakker to 45 years in federal prison and imposed a $500,000 fine. At the Federal Medical Center, Rochester in Rochester, Minnesota, he shared a cell with activist Lyndon LaRouche and skydiver Roger Nelson.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld Bakker’s conviction on the fraud and conspiracy charges, voided Bakker’s 45-year sentence and $500,000 fine, and ordered a new sentencing hearing in February 1991. The court ruled that Potter’s sentencing statement about Bakker, that “those of us who do have a religion are ridiculed as saps from [sic] money-grubbing preachers or priests”, was evidence that the judge had injected his religious beliefs into Bakker’s sentence.

A sentence-reduction hearing was held on November 16, 1992, and Bakker’s sentence was reduced to eight years. In August 1993, he was transferred to a minimum-security federal prison in Jesup, Georgia. Bakker was paroled in July 1994, after serving almost five years of his sentence. His son, Jay, spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to the parole board advocating leniency. Bakker was released from Federal Bureau of Prisons custody on December 1, 1994.

Tammy Faye has since died, and Jim Bakker now appears on television with his new wife, Lori Bakker.

Apocalypse and The End Times feature prominently in these religious programs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9SXamL_Nh4Banners at the bottom of the screen hawk the book.

Paul McGuire is not angry at his book. He’s just angry.

Some quotes

Troy Anderson: And now we’ve watched the media become so liberal and so biased and so all-out…attack on our president.

Jim Bakker: That’s what this book is all about. How can God use Trump? Trump is God’s wrecking ball.

Paul McGuire: God was looking for a man [pauses for emphasis] to take care of business.

Paul McGuire: He’s not a cream puff. He’s a warrior. So, who is going to defend our Christian liberties? Who’s going to keep the Constitution safe for freedom of religion? [Screen is filled with a photo of President Trump with the White House in the background and an on-screen banner that says “Donald J. Trump 45th President of the United States.”]

Paul McGuire: [Speaking of President Trump] We watch the man’s back, but not only that, but we watch his back as he drives every scoundrel, skunk, thief, deceiver, two-faced liar… [pause for emphasis, camera shifts] …with all the credentials, three-letter words… [An obvious reference to agencies such as the FBI, CIA, NSA]

Paul McGuire: He’s a mortal man. They want to kill him.

And that will about do it for quotes from the video. You need to watch it. It gets deeper than I have revealed.

It’s a curse. Somewhere in my youth I crossed the wrong god, and now I find myself having to atone. I get started writing one of these through a link that crops up on a news feed, and I innocently figure to write a short blurb and take my afternoon  nap. Then it happens. I get sucked down into the rabbit hole as I follow link after link, and I end up purchasing the book. It’s $13.99 from Amazon for the Kindle edition, but there is tax, despite what President Trump has promised you. But the book gets delivered in under 30 seconds, and you can’t pour yourself a diet soda during that time.

So here are a few quotes from the book. First from a chapter titled “Deep State Coup and Occult Explosion.” It’s a quote from somebody besides the authors of the book.

Well, I found some examples that I’ve seen firsthand in Washington—evidence, the influence of occultism, certainly witchcraft… You have a lot of witchcraft. You have a lot of hedonism. You have all the issues. When I think of Sodom and Gomorrah I often think of Washington, DC, in the same thought.

—LIEUTENANT COLONEL BOB MAGINNIS (RETIRED), SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AT THE FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (p. 86). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

The Family Research Council is another of those rabbit holes you might want to check out.

In what was perhaps the strangest presidential election in American history, the headlines shortly before Election Day 2016 hinted at the dark underbelly of a “diabolical scandal”—one that involves not just Bill and Hillary Clinton, but the “Deep State” and occult elite globally:

  • “Is Hillary Clinton the Antichrist or an Illuminati Witch?” (Jennifer LeClaire, Charisma News, August 11, 2016).
  • “Witchcraft on the Campaign Trail” (Stacy Schiff, New York Times, October 30, 2016).
  • “No, John Podesta Didn’t Drink Bodily Fluids at a Secret Satanist Dinner” (Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post, November 4, 2016).
  • “The Devil Is a Woman: Ben Carson Ties Hillary Clinton to Lucifer as GOP Swaps Campaign for Witch Trial” (Gideon Resnick, the Daily Beast, July 20, 2016).

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (pp. 86-87). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

The articles also involved speculation by former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson at the Republican National Convention about a “Democratic-Satanic alliance.”

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (p. 87). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

These allegations of widespread occult influence in Washington, DC, came amid growing concerns about a “Deep State coup” and an explosion in occult phenomenon in America and worldwide.

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (p. 87). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

The concept of the “Deep State” can be traced to President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning in his farewell address in 1961 about the growing power of the “military-industrial complex.”

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (p. 88). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

We live in the time predicted by the ancient Hebrew prophets and prophesied by Jesus Christ and his apostles—an era of mass deception unparalleled in human history.

Today, the level of deceit, subterfuge and disinformation in politics, media, Hollywood, business, academia, and religion is truly mind-boggling. The “Mystery, Babylon” thought-control matrix is fully operational. In today’s occult-entangled and technology-addicted culture, it’s not hard to envision how the world and church could be duped by what is known in prophecy circles as “the Great Deception.”

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (pp. 112-113). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

At 120 Wall Street in New York City, the Arcane School at Lucis Trust—formerly Lucifer Publishing Company—is working on behalf of the “spiritual Hierarchy of the planet” to carry out the “Plan” to create the “New World Order.”

Lucis Trust defines the “Hierarchy” as the “inner spiritual governance of the world led by enlightened beings.” It’s also known as the “society of Illumined Minds.” Lucifer is known as the “Light Bringer, the Illumined One.”

As astounding as this may seem given its obvious occult connotations, it’s all detailed on the website of Lucis Trust, a nongovernmental organization that has “consultative status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and whose political lobby, World Goodwill, is accredited by the UN Department of Public Information.

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (p. 188). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

As many of you discovered in The Babylon Code with its extensive documentation, the Illuminati is as real today as it was in 1776 when its founder, University of Ingolstadt professor Adam Weishaupt, first called for a “New World Order through Revolution.” Today, the Illuminati network—operating through countless front groups and an interconnected web of multinational corporations, international banks, government agencies, think tanks, foundations, and secret societies—is believed to be in the final stages of implementing its Plan to launch the New World Order. Illuminati whistle-blowers and others claim this could start soon with an engineered financial collapse, outbreak of war, or a sophisticated global deception involving a “fake Antichrist” before the “fake Second Coming of Christ.” We’ll delve more into these claims later.

McGuire, Paul. Trumpocalypse: The End-Times President, a Battle Against the Globalist Elite, and the Countdown to Armageddon (Babylon Code) (p. 189). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

Those are a few highlights I picked up while eating my cheese and crackers and vegetable soup for lunch today, and I will leave it at that. Look for more from this fabulous testament to early onset dementia. The book is solid gold.

People Unclear

This is number 42 of a long series

By now everybody knows I’m never going to run out of these. No matter how obvious the matter is, no matter how well it may have been explained, there will always be some who are still unclear.

Full disclosure: years ago I signed up for the newsletter from Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress. He heads up the massive First Baptist Church of Dallas in that city’s business district. If I told you that Pastor Jeffress is a boundless source of entertainment, that would be an understatement. Here’s the latest.

Pastor Jeffress is a great admirer of President Donald Trump, one of the president’s closest confidants after Stormy Daniels. So it came to pass that when President Trump wanted to celebrate the opening of our new embassy in Jerusalem last week, Pastor Jeffress went to deliver the benediction, for want of a better description. Given the pastor’s prior comments on Jews and other religious affiliations, that seemed odd to a number of people, and there were even strong objections. One of those who commented was ex Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney. It’s all strung out in a video linked by the email I received. Take a look. I obtained these images from the video.

Anyhow, according to the video, the former governor and current candidate for the Senate, had this to say:

Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,” and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same thing about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.

What makes this most interesting is that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. To further elaborate, the subject line of the email I received reads, “Breaking News: Mitt Romney Attacks Dr. Robert Jeffress …” Here is the body of the email:

Dr. Robert Jeffress’ dedication prayer at the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem last week sparked a national controversy over the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney attacked Dr. Jeffress shortly before he delivered the opening dedication prayer by calling him a bigot for proclaiming the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Pardon me if I need to  pause at this point. I do not know whether to laugh or to cry. This is just too bizarre. Two grown men, supposedly mature enough to be allowed to handle sharp objects and to operate heavy machinery, are sparing over different versions of a well-debunked myth. Particularly hilarious are the references to “Jesus Christ.” Both men claim to be adherents to Jesus, and they cannot, at least Pastor Jeffress cannot, even agree on the matter of Jesus Christ.

Full disclosure: I have previously voted for political  candidates who claimed to be fans of Jesus Christ. May Jesus have mercy on my soul.

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

Number 14 of a continuing series

They do, readers. Really they do. Take, for example, wacko right wing religious fanatic Franklin Graham:

Clinton’s Sins Aren’t Private

Few people have lived a more public life over the past 50 years than has my father, Billy Graham. I can assure you that the Billy Graham you see in public is the same one we children have seen at home. He has spent a lifetime making sure that his public ministry is confirmed in his private behavior.

The topic of private vs. public behavior has emerged as perhaps the central moral issue raised by Bill Clinton’s “improper relationship” with Monica Lewinsky. Much of America seems to have succumbed to the notion that what a person does in private has little bearing on his public actions or job performance, even if he is the president of the United States.

What can I say, except that I am impressed. Will somebody please pass me another slice of that irony?

That Old Time Religion

Number 2 in a Series

It was good enough for Jonah:

Franklin Graham: God put Trump in office

Friday, May 4, 2018
OneNewsNow.com Staff (OneNewsNow.com)

Evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, says he thanks God that Donald Trump was elected president.

This item, appearing on OneNewsNow.com, cites some startling language from a supposedly mature member of our species. For one:

“I think somehow God put him in this position. Because he’s not a politician, he seemed to do everything wrong as a politician: he offended many people, did the wrong things – but somehow he became president. And I just have to think that God, in some reason, put him there for a purpose. I don’t know what that is, but we need to get behind him and support him.”

And all this time I have been blaming several million clueless citizens for our  present situation. Little did I know that a magical sky person intervened to make it so. It could be these are two different ways of saying the same thing.

This not the first fun we have had with Son of Graham. There will be more. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

Number 4 in a Series

They do. Yes, they really do. Take über religious politician Mike Huckabee, for example. Here are some choice excerpts from an interview with writer Emma Green that appeared last year in The Atlantic:

Huckabee: I think the president has been very respectful of the faith community, and [evangelicals] overwhelmingly voted for him—in fact, in far larger numbers than they voted for John McCain or Mitt Romney in the last two elections, [and] in fact, even more so than they voted for George W. Bush. So he has enjoyed extraordinary support. He will in fact be my first guest on the first television show that I do.

Green: Really?

Huckabee: Yeah. Nobody pretends that he would be an ideal Sunday-school teacher, to be fair. I don’t think he is a person who is deeply acquainted with the Bible and he’s not known to set attendance records at church. But he’s very respectful of people of faith. And that’s really all people in the Christian community want. They don’t care whether or not the guy believes as they do. They just want someone who will respect their beliefs, and not denigrate them, and not try to use the power of government to silence them. And he’s been very adamant and clear that he believes in religious liberty, believes that people’s beliefs should be protected.

Green: You once wrote a book called Character Makes a Difference, and you’ve observed that “character is that which causes you to make the same decision in public as you would make in private.” We’ve seen evidence not just that the president isn’t acquainted with the Bible, or perhaps isn’t a Sunday school teacher, but that he’s made comments or taken actions in private that don’t necessarily show strong character. Are you troubled by this at all?

Huckabee: Many of the things that have been attributed to him, that he even in fact admitted saying, were things that were 12, 15 years ago—20 years and beyond. Would I like for him to speak every day with the most extraordinary sense of faith? Sure.

But I’ll tell you what I’d rather have. To me, character is if you’re the same in public as you are in private, and I think that in many ways, that’s what’s appealing about him. It’s also what gives a lot of his critics their ammunition. Even his tweets, for example, are very transparent about what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling. But some of the more harsh things that have been attributed to him were things that were said many years ago, and there’s been no indication that during his campaign and during his presidency has he said things that would cause people to just be aghast at what he had said. We’ve had presidents that have done things while they were in the Oval Office that frankly were very destructive and embarrassing. And I don’t think anybody has made those allegations about this president.

Yes, apparently character does matter. Remember, you didn’t here it here first.

Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

A Continuing Thread – Number 2

So I watched this, after the fact, and it was something to behold. At the White House Correspondents’ Press Association annual dinner, comedienne Michelle Wolf rose to deliver the benediction. Actually, they may not have anything like a benediction at these functions, but they traditionally invite somebody in to roast popular people. It’s in the spirit of H.L. Mencken: “My job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” There is no evidence Mencken ever said such a thing, but it is good reading. Anyhow, Wolf saw her duty Saturday night to afflict the comfortable, and afflict she did, not so much with a prick but with a blackjack. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a particular target:

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful,” Wolf said. “She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.

I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” the comedian continued. “Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women?

Yeah. I’m noted at times for being crude and lewd, but I probably could have finessed this one. Predictably, Wolf caught some flak over this and other bludgeonings of the night, definitely from the Left, but from the Right with a vengeance. I’m going to give the Left a pass on this and direct my attention to comments from the Right. Let’s start with prominent conservative politician Mike Huckabee, a close relative of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A sample response from Governor Huckabee:

The WHCD was supposed to celebrate the 1st Amendment. Instead they celebrated bullying, vulgarity, and hate. They got all dressed up so they would look nicer when they had a hired gun savagely attack their guests. Do they really wonder why America has no respect for them? Sad!

Yes… This is the kind of thing I long to hear (read). It’s the yodel of the congenitally indignant. It’s the defense of  the indefensible. Missing from Governor Huckabee’s self-righteous lament is a vast amount of perspective. It may be time for a review of what it is that Mrs. Sanders does for a living. From all appearances her daily routine consists of attempting to explain away a flood of massive lies and insults. Let us not allow the sun to set before visiting some of this ripe fruit:

Katie Couric, the third rate reporter, who has been largely forgotten, should be ashamed of herself for the fraudulent editing of her doc.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. If he doesn’t he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money

. was one of the worst performing stocks on the S&P last year, plunging 46%. Very disloyal company. Another win for Trump! Boycott.

I gave a woman named Barbara Res a top N.Y. construction job, when that was unheard of, and now she is nasty. So much for a nice thank you!

I know Mark Cuban well. He backed me big-time but I wasn’t interested in taking all of his calls.He’s not smart enough to run for president!

Comey drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her (lied in Congress to Senator G), then based his decisions on her poll numbers. Disgruntled, he, McCabe, and the others, committed many crimes!

Watched low rated for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show

. is a total low life— read his past tweets. A dummy with no “it” factor. Will fade fast.

The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….

That’s enough of Twitter. President Trump’s candor in assessing various people out of favor is legendary. From earlier this year:

Self-obsessed billionaire Donald Trump earlier snatched the campaign torch from the Republican Party by scooping up conservative America’s low-hanging fruit. Full disclosure: it’s something I proclaimed over a year ago could not be done. I was wrong! How wrong? Very wrong. Donald Trump is the one candidate who displays an astonishing degree of class:

In the article, I wrote that Trump could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman said the man’s comments were “categorically untrue.”

The story ran below the fold in the business news section with the headline: How a Curious Visitor Beat Trump at the Casino Game.

And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.

There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.

The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.

I had shit for brains.

I worked for a shitty newspaper.

What sort of shit did I write.

Before I could reply, he hung up.

Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”

Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”

There is more from that same post:

A cute nickname for a United States senator:

Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.

Characterization of a rival candidate.

Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!

NFL players who protest.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who is running in a special election next week to remain in the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions.

A writer who writes unkind things about Donald Trump.

The Mercer Family recently dumped the leaker known as Sloppy Steve Bannon. Smart!

Most would envy Mrs. Sanders’ professional obligation to front for such as this. One might wonder whence comes the wherewithal. Here’s a hint:

Huckabee has voiced his support of intelligent design and he has stated that he does not accept the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He was quoted in July 2004 on Arkansans Ask, his regular show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network: “I think that students also should be given exposure to the theories not only of evolution but to the basis of those who believe in creationism.”

In April 2011, Huckabee said, “I almost wish that there would be a simultaneous telecast and all Americans would be forced, at gunpoint, to listen to every David Barton message,” in praise of the Christian revisionist historian David Barton.

Within hours of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Huckabee made headlines in the U.S. and abroad for stating on Fox News: “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” and further asked, “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

In September 2014, Huckabee said, “Fire the ones who refuse to hear not only our hearts, but God’s heart” (for which he was criticized by Richard Dawkins).

Support for Intelligent Design? Disdain for modern theories of modern biology? Praise for David Barton? Defiance of the rule of law? Add to that a deliberate distortion of American history:

The story starts in a class room where the teacher has the kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, with the “under God” wording. One kid refuses because of the under God language, and later the teacher is threatened with dismissal for this breach of school protocol.

OK, right there I hit a snag. I’ve been around the sun a few times, and I recall the time before the “under God” language was added, and I as yet unaware of any public school that disallows the “under God” language. Actually, a few years back Michael Newdow sued his daughter’s school, the United States Congress, et al, over the use of the “under God” language. The Supreme Court ultimately dismissed Newdow’s suit, since he was not the custodial guardian of his daughter and really had no legal standing in the matter. More recently, a family in Massachusetts has sued over the pledge as a violation of that state’s own equal protection clause in its constitution. So far as I know, all attempts to prohibit the “under God” language have been thwarted. So, where did the producers of One Nation get this scenario. We may have to ask learned historian Mike Huckabee.

Yes, it would appear the fruit does not fall far from from the tree, and for the Huckabees the truth is a sometime thing. Setting the crude and lewd aside for a moment, on Saturday night it was obvious to all the slings and arrows were well directed. That Mrs. Sanders has not resigned her unenviable position speaks for itself. In case I have not made my point, here it is. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a lying sack of shit, a trait that seems to run in the family.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 102 in a series

It’s not always this current life you give up for false belief. Sometimes it’s your future life:

Guru convinced 400 men to castrate themselves to be closer to God

‘Guru of Bling’ collects testicles for God: An Indian spiritual leader is accused of convincing up to 400 followers to remove their testicles, claiming that by doing so the men would be able to speak directly to God.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, known as “The Guru in Bling,” is accused of coercing hundreds of followers to undergo the procedure at a hospital run by his spiritual organization.

It is true that God works in mysterious ways. I had forgotten just how mysterious.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Two brothers, Timmy and Tommy, are badly misbehaving, and their parents send them to a religious reform school.

Almost immediately Timmy gets into trouble and is sent to the principal’s office.

The principal is a large man, and he looms over little Timmy. In a booming voice he demands, “Do you know where God is?” Timmy’s eyes grow large, but he doesn’t say a word.

The principal shouts even louder, “Do you know where God it?” Timmy runs from the room screaming.

Tommy finds his brother huddled in a corner and crying. He asks,”What’s wrong?”

Timmy responds, “They don’t know where God is, and they think I took him.”

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 100 in a series

Most regrettably, we are carrying this travesty forward into yet another year.

 As Willie Hughes walked around the weathered plots and mounds of dirt at Peaceful Valley Cemetery, he remembered family that died too young and his brother Steven, who was born with spina bifida.

Steven never saw a doctor or physical therapist or used a wheelchair. He crawled around on his forearms and died of pneumonia at age 3.

“I remember his was the first body that I saw and touched. It was traumatic for a 4½ -year-old to see his little brother in a coffin. I can’t tell you how many dead bodies I’ve seen,” said Hughes, a Boise truck driver who grew up in the Followers of Christ church.

If you think Jesus saves, you need to visit places like Idaho.

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

Number 13 of a continuing series

Duck Dynasty streaming on Hulu

Yes, you got it right. Right wing religious fanatic Phil Robertson actually said this:

I’ll make a bet with ya. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say,“Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?”

Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, “Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun! We’re sick in the head! Have a nice day.”

Wow! All I can say is wow! From what dark corner of a moldering human psyche did the Duck Dynasty star summon up this thought? Examine the language, and you are going to get a peek into one fabulous mind. Start with:

Two guys break into an atheist’s home.

Yes! The person has to  be an atheist, else this is not going to work. Keep in mind, an atheist. In other words, a human being. What next? Wow!

He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters.

Not only does this atheist have a wife (a human being, remember), but she is also atheist, a human being. And here’s what’s good. She’s little. No big, hulking haus frau of a woman, but a petite, delicate thing. Else this is not going to work. And two daughters. Also atheist. Also little. The theme is building.

And then this exemplar of advanced thinking lays out his case. The two bad dudes commit unspeakable (except that we are speaking them now) atrocities. They even cut off the dude’s dongle. That has got to hurt. Now the clincher. Since the victims are atheists, there are no repercussions, because, you know, atheists do not believe in the God of Abraham, and since the God of Abraham is the giver of all human morality and right thinking, then the unfortunate atheist family has no recourse but to accept their fate, believing all the while these two lowlifes are unbound by any social restraints.

Where does this come from? Where has Phil Robertson been these past 72 years? I’m guessing he has spent a lot of that time where the sun does not shine, figuratively speaking. Somehow the bright light of human intellect and reason failed to reach him at a critical point in his development, and a number of truths have escaped his attention. I will elaborate.

Viewed as an outsider looking in, what I see is a story of people living in the eastern Mediterranean region 2000-3000 years ago, and they set up a system of moral codes to keep social order. What they did was to take a bunch of stuff that made sense, much of which had been around for centuries, and they codified this into rules. But writing rules down does not do the complete job, because now people are going to say, “I can’t eat pork because you don’t like pork, and where do you get the authority to tell me I can’t eat pork?” And there is the guy who wrote the rules, and his eyes are shifting about for somebody or some thing to lay this authority off on, there being nothing in sight. So he points upward into the sky.

And the God of Abraham was invented, and nobody ever should dispute this guy or go against his authority or his whims, because, while he is a loving and caring spirit, he also has a mean streak, and he will smite you with holy thunder if you edge over the line.

So, in Duck Dynasty world there is an invisible hand that holds sway over morality and social responsibility, and without this mystical power there would be no consequences for doing bad stuff. Poor atheists.

All right, I have had my fun with Duck Dynasty world, and I have laid all manner of modern foolishness at their feet, and hopefully we had a good laugh. But we should consider that Duck Dynasty does not represent the body of religious-based morality. This could possibly be an outlier, a peñata atheists can knock about, a way of painting with a broad brush. By now I have run out of metaphors to mix, and I need to say you would be unwise to imagine that all religious (Christian?) moralists are as clueless as Phil Robertson. Of course, I have been wrong before.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 6 in a series

Цифровая репродукция находится в интернет-музее Gallerix.ru

A Facebook friend from time to time posts links to the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News blog. Much thanks. I need to keep up.

Evolution News has a number of authors, mostly notable creationists. These would include Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Behe, John West, and Jonathan Wells. This item was posted by Ann Gauger:

Ann Gauger is a zoologist with a BS in biology from MIT and a 1989 PhD from the University of Washington. As a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard she cloned and characterized the Drosophila kinesin light chain. Her research has been published in Nature, Development, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. She also has a number of years of experience as a homeschool teacher.

From Evolution News:

Is There a First Human Couple in Our Past? New Evidence and Arguments

Ann Gauger March 5, 2018, 3:51 PM

Dennis Venema is associate professor at Trinity Western University. His book Adam and the Genome is under active discussion here and over at BioLogos. The central question implied in the title of that book is: does our genome rule out Adam? Could humanity have had its origin in a first pair, or did it have to come from a population of at least several thousand?

This question has been addressed by numerous scientists in the past, ever since human genetic data began to roll in. And all of them, as far as I know, have said that yes, our genome rules out Adam. We are the product of common descent. We are descended from an ape-like population of at least several thousand. This we have heard before.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. There has been a debate going on over at BioLogos for a number of months that was triggered by Venema’s book. The debate is about whether there could have been a bottleneck of two at some time in the human past. This discussion was started when Richard Buggs, Senior Research Leader (Plant Health) at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and Reader in Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary, University of London, challenged Dennis Venema about what Venema wrote in Adam and the Genome. Venema had argued:

As our methodology becomes more sophisticated and more data are examined, we will likely further refine our estimates [of human population size] in the future. That said, we can be confident that finding evidence that we were created independently of other animals or that we descend from only two people just isn’t going to happen. Some ideas in science are so well supported that it is highly unlikely new evidence will substantially modify them, and these are among them. The sun is at the center of our solar system, humans evolved, and we evolved as a population.

Put most simply, DNA evidence indicates that humans descend from a large population because we, as a species, are so genetically diverse in the present day that a large ancestral population is needed to transmit that diversity to us. To date, every genetic analysis estimating ancestral population sizes has agreed that we descend from a population of thousands, not a single ancestral couple. Even though many of these methods are independent of each other, all methods employed to date agree that the human lineage has not dipped below several thousand individuals for the last three million years or more — long before our lineage was even remotely close to what we would call “human.” Thus the hypothesis that humans descend solely from one ancestral couple has not yet found any experimental support — and it is therefore not one that geneticists view as viable. [Emphasis added.]

The image above appears at the head of Gauger’s Evolution News posting. It’s a painting from centuries ago titled “Adam and Eve” or something close to that.

I have previously reviewed the book Adam and the Genome by Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight. The summary of the book is that the creationists have it all wrong, the human species did not descend from a single pair of humans, but is the most recent of a lineage stretching back billions of years. However, God does exist, and God is responsible for all this.

Update: I am adding some material of interest.

Gauger mentions she has previously discussed this point.

So TSP is not validated for these highly polymorphic genes, HLA-DRB1 in particular, and convergent evolution (or original diversity) is validated. I addressed, by the way, the question of HLA-DRB1’s polymorphism and TSP, and a first human pair, in the book Science and Human Origins (2012). That book was written after I discovered that Francisco Ayala’s argument against the possibility of a first pair based on HLA-DRB1 did not stand up.  My hypothesis about a first pair was based on what I saw in papers about HLA-DRB1, most notably this and this, but the hypothesis was more suggested than demonstrated. I am glad to see that some of what I wrote has been substantiated.

See below for an expansion of TSP. The book in question has five parts, written separately by Gauger, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin. Gauger contributed chapters 1 and 5. Chapter 5 relates to the topic of her posting:

5

THE SCIENCE OF ADAM AND EVE

Ann Gauger

Using population genetics, some scientists have argued that there is too much genetic diversity to have passed through a bottleneck of just two individuals. But that turns out not to be true.

IN CHAPTER 1, I ARGUED THAT OUR SIMILAR ANATOMY AND DNA sequences are not sufficient to demonstrate that we share a common ancestor with chimps. Using peer-reviewed scientific literature about transitional fossils, and what is known about current chimp and human anatomy, I concluded that there are too many anatomical changes and too little time for neo-Darwinian processes to have accomplished the supposed transition from our last common ancestor with chimps to us.

But the current challenge concerning our origins involves more than fossils, anatomy, and improbable Darwinian scenarios. Now that DNA sequencing has become relatively simple and cheap, researchers are gathering vast amounts of human sequence data. They use the genetic variation they find to reconstruct past events in our genetic history. They derive evolutionary trees, estimate ancestral population sizes, and even calculate when and where our ancestors migrated out of Africa. Based on this kind of work, some have argued that we cannot have come from just two first parents.

[Location 2102 in the Kindle edition]

Gauger wants to take exception to the first part. Evidence that points to human origins from a collection of a few thousand individuals is not conclusive. The original pair of humans is not ruled out by modern research. The sum total of the piece is a glaring heap of wishful thinking, as would be evident to people knowledgeable of the subject and taking time to run down all Gauger’s arguments. And that I will leave to others, since it is beyond the scope of my expertise to critically evaluate the opposing arguments. I will just get to Gauger’s concluding statement:

So let me restate: the best explanation for the similarity among alleles is convergent evolution (or possibly original diversity), and not TSP. Finally, this analysis is strong evidence that TSP does not rule out a bottleneck of two.

To sum up, it’s very simple.

  • A bottleneck of two that is older than 500,000 years ago cannot be ruled out. That does not mean such a bottleneck ever existed, but rather that the possibility cannot be excluded. Future models may change that number of 500,000 years, up or down.
  • This is based on an analysis of the genetic data run by Drs. Schaffner and Swamidass, themselves evolutionary biologists and not ID supporters.
  • In addition, the bottleneck hypothesis stood up to a test using TSP (trans-species polymorphism). The test showed TSP was due to convergent evolution. This was a surprise to Dr. Swamidass.
  • A bottleneck of two, or a first pair at our origin older than 500,000 years, is possible.
  • Evolutionary biologists, including Dennis Venema, can no longer say we had to come from a population of 10,000 at any time over the last 3 million years.

Obviously, there is no rigorous science being argued here. This amounts to a special pleading for religious belief, particularly for biblical truth. Along that line, Gauger is not attempting to sell the full load. The Bible recounts the origin of the human race from two people. Gauger stops there. She lets slide the remainder of the story—that all this happened little more than 6000 years ago. Lady, if you’re in for a penny, you need to be in for a pound.

It’s an interesting twist we are observing. In days gone by—actually, in decades gone by—those people at the Discovery Institute sought to sell Intelligent Design as legitimate science, devoid of religious indoctrination. They seem to have thrown that notion over and have now gone full Monty pushing for the Abrahamic religions, particularly Christianity. At times the openness can be refreshing.