Category: religion

RACCOONS IN THE NEWS: Raccoons with Attitude

SonicRound2
The original animal with attitude.

It’s birthing season among raccoons right now (baby raccoons being calls “cubs.”) Actually that’s incorrect, it was birthing season a while ago.  According to the Smithsonian:

The female nurses her cubs for about 70 days. The cubs’ eyes open at 18—24 days and they begin exploring the world outside the den when they are 9—10 weeks old. By 20 weeks of age they can forage on their own.

So around 70 days ago was birthing season. Right now it’s “taking the kids out to show them the ropes” season. As such, the media has decided to warn people to be wary of squads of roving bandits breaking into trashcans, running amok, and engaging in general cute-ry. Take this report for example, which specifically warns that they may have a bit of “attitude.”

The report is originally from CBS 8 in San Diego, you can see their posting here.

Of course, when they use “attitude” in the headline all I can think of is that 90’s sense of the word. You know: pastels, backwards hates and skateboards while shouting “extreme” and “totally rad.” What passes for attitude these days? I guess a lot of snark and sarcasm. What will attitude be like in the future? Maybe the newest generation of raccoons will show the way as they toss aside the roller blades and too cool for school attitude, stop saying the opposite of what they mean, and discover a whole new way of sticking it to the man!

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Christian Movies are as Dumb as Hollywood Movies

God Couldn’t Create Eyes so Blue … Must be the Devil’s Work!

I enjoy watching Christian movies.  I’m not a religious person by any means, but I appreciate them for the flagrant propaganda they often are.  They’re usually the worst kind, too: nakedly, tactlessly touting an agenda.  I imagine there are other kinds of Christian films; those that are simply there to celebrate Christianity or illustrate the application of its tenets to daily life.  However those aren’t the ones I enjoy watching.  I’m more a fan of the “convert the masses” kinds of movies which often take the form of apocalyptic stories (e.g. Left Behind, Six: The Mark Unleashed, and of course the Apocalypse series.)  These work on the level of “scare the non-believers to our side by promising them hell if they don’t.”  Others are a little more subtle, but equally awful.

I recently saw The Genesis Code on Netflix.  I was hoping for a prequel to the apocalyptic Christian film starring Casper van Dien, The Omega Code.  Instead, what I got was a movie that tried to combine science and religion into one hot mess of nonsense!

First, the summarization:

  1. Generically Hot Redhead Chick (GHRC) is a college student reporter or something interviewing generically Hot Athletic Dude (HAD) about his athleticism or something.  Typical snarking ensues to create the “will they or won’t they” romantic tension between the two.  One of the major sources of friction?  She’s a believer and he isn’t (because religion isn’t scientific, especially the whole Book of Genesis thing)!  Also, athletic dude has a dark secret!
  2.  It turns out that GHRC has a rather twisted home life.  Her father is a preacher and her brother is a scientist!  More so, he’s the douchiest scientist the world has ever seen.  Kind of a hipster Bill Nye that you want to punch in the face.  
  3. Also, GHRC likes to make a nuisance of herself in classes by bringing up things like the intelligent design during biology class and getting pissy when the teacher dismisses the notion (but, of course, not after the film establishes that current scientific understanding does not answer all questions.)  She also gets into a heated exchange with a career counselor, played by Catherine Hicks, who represents “the establishment.”  The counselor proceeds to lambast GHRC’s religiousness, throwing out terms like “moral relativism,” “new world order,” and “cultural elite” all while some foreboding music plays in the background.
  4. We’ve learned that HAD’s mother is in a coma and that at some point he said something mean to her! Also, his evil grandparents (his mother’s parents, the father played by Ernest Borgnine?!) want to enact her living will to end her life support.  The son is totally opposed to this because he knows his mother would be opposed to it … despite the fact that she has a living will.
  5. At some point along the way, through the convenience of seemingly irrelevant conversations and flashbacks, GHRC has had a stroke of genius and figured out a way that the Book of Genesis and science could be compatible after all! She sets her super wacky scientist brother to working out all the details, which are presented during a thirty minute sequence in the middle of the movie that would be considered a pacing brick wall.  Although it’s possible the rest of the movie is there solely for the purpose to give this portion context. After all, it’s the focal point of the movie’s extended trailer.
  6. Some random conversations.  HAD finds his faith.  His mother miraculously recovers.  At some point a black guy (the only black person in the movie) sang a song … twice!
Here are the problems with this movie:
  • It doesn’t know who its audience is.  The titular Genesis Code and its presentation appears to be there for the express purpose of winning over the non-believers.  However any chances that had of convincing someone will be squashed by the ham-fisted presentation of non-believers as some dangerous cabal (the scene with Catherine Hicks, especially) of jargon spewing monsters. You don’t win someone over with cartoonish depictions of them.  So maybe it wasn’t meant to be seen by atheists at all; maybe it’s there to preach to the converted by confirming their fears of a “new world order” and “culture elite” while giving them a new weapon to attack their (lack of) beliefs, the Genesis Code. 
  • The Genesis Code, as a tool to attack non believers, is woefully under powered. Like a lot of nonsense it fails to stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.  Its use of science is poor; it uses the wrong age of the universe to start off its calculations, it gets the timeline of more specific events (such as the creation of the Milky Way Galaxy) incorrect, and it gets the timeline of evolution incorrect (confusing the existence of ocean-bound single cell organisms with fully-formed plant and animal life.)  At the same time it also misrepresents the bible by misquoting the verses of the Book of Genesis, omitting information that would flatly contradict the Genesis Code or presenting it incorrectly (interpreting the Hebrew word for water as “water” in one place and “universe” in another for no reason other than to make things sound more prophetic.)
So where does that leave everything?  In pretty bad shape, really.  This is a movie that does a bad job at anything it set out to do.  It won’t win over the non-believers, it paints believers in a pretty bad light, and it doesn’t give the believers a new weapon with which to fight the scientists.  And make no mistake, this movie was made to go to war!  Such an intent is made apparent when, at the end of the presentation of the Genesis Code, GHRC’s brother says that “science has now proven what religious leaders have been unable to for thousands of years” to which GHRC responds “science has just caught up with the truth of the Bible.”  It wouldn’t have settled for trying to bridge a gap between science and faith, it wanted to make science into faith’s bitch.
Additional Material
  • The Genesis Code @ Cognitive Discopants (A series of several blog posts that deconstruct the inconsistencies presented by the Genesis Code)
  • Time Dilation @ Physics Forum
  • Genesis Code Review @ Creation Ministries (Even they don’t like this movie!)

Wear the Clothes that Prove You’re a Free Thinker!

One of the more amusing things I saw at the Reason Rally last weekend were people wearing shirts proclaiming their atheism or were emblazoned rhetoric such as “we are made of stardust.”  Well, apparently these shirts came from the same manufacturer, who is preparing to launch a line of atheist clothing.  In and of itself there’s nothing wrong with that; I’m sure there are plenty of pro-religion clothing and accessories out there made by people who couldn’t care less about whatever faith they’re exploiting so there’s no reason somebody shouldn’t take advantage of those who lack faith.  It may very well be a vast, untapped market.  However, the people who wear those shirts?  They’re idiots.  Here’s their reasoning:  “I want to show the world what a free thinking I am by wearing clothes I hope other free thinkers wear to show that they’re free thinkers!”

Time to Get Reasonable!

It was cold, windy, and a little wet in Washington, DC yesterday.  Nevertheless, I spent a good few hours out on the National Mall attending the Reason Rally.

The crowd seemed relatively small.  Relative to what?  I’ve attended three rallies in DC since moving back into the area.  Two of them were in 2010: the Glenn Beck Rally to Restore Honor and its counterpoint, the Daily Show & Colbert Report Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.  The Beck one had large enough crowds to seriously disrupt the Vienna and Franconia/Springfield Metro stations, while the Daily Show/Colbert event basically shut down central Washington, DC.  This event?  It seemed to barely generate a hiccup.  There were likely more people who came out to the city for the first Saturday of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

And rallies themselves seem a silly concept to me, in hindsight.  I mean, the Daily Show/Colbert event was more about being a comedy show while this and the Beck event were proper rallies. But rallies, by definition, seem to be about preaching to the quire.  So standing out there in the cold, wet weather listening to people shout about “we’re atheists!” seemed a waste of time.  Yes, we know we’re atheists, that’s why we came.  Rallies exist to validate a group’s ideals by repeating them to the group.  The Beck people gathered to talk about how because they have faith (and religion was a strong component of that event) they’ll make the future better (and tacitly stating that their opponents lacked religion.)  Which made the reason rally the polar opposite; because the attendees didn’t have faith they were better positioned to make the future better.

Which I think was my major problem with this event.  It came out too anti-religion.  Personally, I would have been more interested in an event more pro-science or at least just pro-secularism.  There was a tent at the event which featured booths for organizations such as Recovering from Religion, Hispanic American Free Thinkers, and American Atheists.  All of these groups stressed how their defining quality was that they were not religious (if not anti-religious.)

It’s all about marketing. 

You don’t win friends and influence people by only being about being against something.  That only enforces an “us vs. them” mentality from those you’re trying to win over.  Is your goal to gain acceptance from the religious people or to destroy their religion?  Because treating religion like it’s something that requires something that can be characterized as a detox program–not unlike how some religious people seek to “cure” homosexuality–is a bad way to go about things.  It may seem naive, but as a group (and a rally, by definition, is about unifying a group and giving a single voice) the … atheists? … need to rise above that kind of behavior.  Maybe not for moral reasons but as a matter of presentation.  As was pointed out numerous times by the event’s speakers, atheists are not exactly in a strong position politically of socially.  This requires them to have to go about things in a less confrontational manner, a stand up fight simply can’t be won in this way.