Monday, 30 August 2010

religulous, by bill maher - movie review - favorite quotes

this will be an ongoing post until i've gone through the whole movie, but i am going to start listing my favorite points and quotes from this wonderful movie (Bill Maher == BM):


BM: So, Dr. Collins, you are a brilliant, brilliant scientist, the head of the Human Genome Project. Now here's what's so puzzling is that you are the one scientist--

[subtext: 93% of scientists in the american national academy of sciences are atheist or agnostic]

the one famous scientist anyway--who's also religious. Explain that to me.

Dr. Francis Collins (DFC): I would argue that if you look at the evidence, the historical evidence of Christ's existence is overwhelming.

BM: What evidence? I mean, I've never even heard anyone propose that there's evidence.

DFC: When I read the New Testament, it reads to me as the record of eyewitnesses who put down what they saw.

BM: You know they weren't eyewitnesses.

DFC: They were close to that.

BM: No.

DFC: Within a couple of decades of eyewitnesses.

BM: Okay. Would that stand up in a laboratory as absolute foolproof evidence that something happened?

DFC: You are setting up a standard for proof that I think would really be an almost impossible standard to meet.


BM: I'm surprised that things that are very important to the story, like the virgin birth, isn't in all four of them.

DFC: Wouldn't you really expect that kind of discordance when you're thinking about the way in which these documents came into being?

BM: But you'd think if you were one of Christ's biographers, that would be sort of an important thing not to leave out. "Oh, God, he was also born of a virgin."

BM: They don't notice the virgin birth. You know, I think that is something if you were any sort of reporter you'd put into the story. What editor looks at the facts and goes, "Yeah, but take out the thing about the virgin birth. That's not interesting."


BM: Reverend. Is that what I call you?

Jeremiah Cummings (JC): No, just call me... doctor.

BM: Doctor?

[subtext: Jeremiah Cummings is not a doctor.]

JC: Yeah.

[subtext: he does not have a degree...of any kind.]


JC: teddy pendergrass, who led the song, he was ordained a minister when he was 10 years old.

BM: what do you think it says about religion and how serious it is, when you can be a minister when you're 10?


Sodom and Gomorrah.

Apparently, it was a pretty wicked place.

How wicked?

Well let's just say that what happened in Gomorrah, stayed in Gomorrah.

That is until God got wind of it, so he sent two angels to investigate.

Now the angels went to the house of the one godly man in town-- Lot.

And the townspeople tried to rape them.

Now Lot, not wanting his town to get the reputation as the kind of place that would rape angels, offered up to the mob his own daughters to rape.

And he was the good guy in town.


Pastor John Westcott (Exchange Ministries) (JW): But I will be honest with you. The reality's a lot of people come here and go right back into whatever they came from.

BM: Because they're gay!

JW: I believe that it's sin.

BM: Excuse me, but don't you have it, no pun intended, ass-backwards?

JW: Meaning?

BM: Meaning homosexuality is something that occurs in nature.


JW: Nobody's born gay. There's no scientific or--

BM: Really? Have you ever met Little Richard?


JW: There's no scientific data that proves that anyone is--there's no gay gene.

***WHAT BILL MAHER SHOULD HAVE SAID HERE: there's no heterosexual gene either =)***


BM: All of the proscriptions against homosexuality come from the Old Testament. Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. And if it's so important, why didn't he ever bring it up?

JW: We could pick lots of little things that he didn't specifically talk about.

BM: But this is a big thing.


BM: But what is your explanation for the millions and millions of people around the world who are leading homosexual lives...

JW: Well, it's not millions.

BM: ...have no interest in anyone of the opposite sex? Are they all faking just to piss off Jesus?

JW: They didn't choose this. They didn't desire it.

BM: Right, they were born gay.

JW: No, they weren't born that way. It's because of the insecurity within theirselves.

BM: It takes a lot of security to walk out of the house with assless chaps.

JW: They're not happy, most of them.

BM: They're called gay. They took the word. Some of them look positively thrilled.

JW: No, they are people who are really not complete in who they are as men or women.

BM: That's a pretty big judgment for a Christian.

JW: It's not a judgment.

BM: That's not a judgment? That you are sitting here telling these people who you don't even know that they're incomplete because they're not like you?

JW: I mean, it's not the people you suspect that are gay, that are gay.

BM: People like the Reverend Ted Haggard... "Moral purity is better than immorality." ...who kept meeting homosexual prostitutes in a hotel room and having gay sex with speed.


Steve Burg, Ex Jew for Jesus (SB): God is not that busy where He can't spend time listening to you when you really want to talk to Him, anytime.

BM: If Santa Claus can hit every house in the world in one night--

SB: I don't believe in Santa Claus.

BM: Of course not, that's ridiculous. That's one man flying all around the world and dropping presents down a chimney. That's ridiculous. One man hearing everybody murmur to him at the same time, that I get.


BM: You're 100% sure that after you die, you'll go to a better place.

SB: I know I'll be with God. l'll be with Jesus.

BM: And that's a better place.

SB: Even if it was in a garbage can, which I know it won't be, but even if it was, just the fact that i'm with Jesus, to me, is good.

BM: it's a better place.

SB: it's a better place.

BM: Then why don't you kill yourself?

SB: Because God still has a mission for me here.

BM: Oh, I see.

SB: i'm thinking of Jonah. God sent Jonah on a mission.

BM: When did the part of the story come when Jonah lived in the whale?

SB: It was a great fish.

BM: It's one of my favorite nonsense stories, Jonah living inside of the whale. And their answer unfailingly is ''The Bible doesn't say whale. It says big fish.'' Oh, yeah, big fish, that makes--i'm sorry I was obsessing on that it was a whale. it's a big fish. Of course you could live for three days in a big fish.


BM: How did this country get to be a Christian nation? I've read a lot of quotes from all the Founding Fathers. There are a lot of quotes that explicitly say we're not a Christian nation:
"lighthouses are more useful than churches." -- benjamin franklin
"this would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it!" -- john adams
"christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man." -- thomas jefferson

Ray Suarez (RS): well, and Jefferson's a particularly interesting case.

BM: Didn't he write his own Bible which divorced the New Testament from what he considered the unnecessary magic, bells and whistles?

RS: He took the Gospels, took out all of Jesus's miracles and took out all of Jesus's statements that claimed divinity, and put out a new book called ''The Faith and Moral Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.'' We tend to lionize these guys and think of them all as the 12 Apostles plus the Founding Fathers, like they're in the same club or something. When in fact, these men understood very well that there was a difference between being Christian and being American.

BM: Right.

RS: In Jefferson's age, fewer people went to church less often.

Guy in BM's van (GBMV): Do you think that there are a lot of people who feel the way you do, but are afraid to speak out?

BM: Absolutely. Are you kidding? Yes, I think it is the great untapped minority in this country. In the last survey, I think it was 16% of Americans who now say they are absolutely unaffiliated with any religion, don't want to be in a religion, just don't go near me with religion. 16% of the population is a huge minority. It's bigger than Jews, blacks, homosexuals, NRA members, lots of people you could name who have lobbies that get everything they want or are at least are in the debate.


BM: So you've described yourself as an Evangelical Christian. You did a campaign ad where you said the most important lessons in life are in this book right here, meaning the Bible. Everyone in politics likes to brag that they're a person of faith. Why is faith good?

Mark Pryor, US Senator, Democrat (MP): Faith has a way of softening people. For example, if you look at the teachings of Jesus, he's very forgiving.

BM: He also said, "If a man doesn't abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned."

MP: Right. So? i do think, 'cause i'm a Christian, that Jesus is the way to be reconciled. And I do believe the actual literacy of that story. We'll let God sort out all the details of that on Judgment Day.

BM: What about the 10 Commandments? So many politicians talk about the 10 Commandments. Are they really the 10 most important moral--

MP: Are these the 10 suggestions? The 10 recommendations?

BM: But it's not really a wise list of 10. The first four are all about just worshipping God and basically that he's a jealous God, and he doesn't want you to have any other gods. The only two that are really laws are don't steal and don't kill. Why is this the wisest group of 10? lt doesn't include child abuse. lt doesn't include don't torture. lt doesn't include a lot of things-- rape--that I think if we were making a list today, we would probably include.

MP: Society is so different today and our culture is so radically different today.

BM: That's what i'm asking. We're in a different culture. Can you think of anything else that we still cleave to from the Bronze Age?

MP: Well...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

do you "believe in science"?

i was asked today if i now am "one of those people who believes in science" =)

OF COURSE i "believe in science"! all technology, innovation, medicine, etc is a product of the scientific method =)

judaism and masturbation - even more disturbing than mormonism's view

in judaism, masturbation is up there with murder (scroll down to number 13).

i recently replied to an article on masturbation at
why does the torah say masturbation is a sin?

but i doubt my reply will get accepted, so here it is:
here's the hebrew source and english transliteration:
compare it with all common english translations

it is a crime against humanity that people teach that this passage in Genesis/Bereshit refers to masturbation. Onan's "sin" was that he was disobedient. think about it logically too, no man would say no to lawful sex and just masturbate instead. he was having intercourse then pulling out of Tamar before ejaculating (coitus interruptus).

it also says *nothing* in the *torah* about what Er did to offend god. your answer is that the *talmud* says it is a sin. the talmud is only commentary, someone's interpretation of e.g. the torah, and here it is completely wrong. the torah does NOT say that masturbation is a sin.

UPDATE 20100829
it looks like my comment was never approved for that article. typical.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

buddhists as oppressors?!

i was talking to someone at a bar the other day about different negative effects religion has on the world and this person answered "well, if i were to pick a religion, i would probably become a buddhist".

i think most people in the western world have a perception that buddhism is a peaceful and non-judgemental/tolerant religion, but i have recently read multiple accounts of buddhist oppression of other belief systems, e.g. shamanism, taoism.

bön (tibetan spiritual tradition) wikipedia page:
...well after Buddhists began the suppression of indigenous beliefs and practices.

mantak chia wikipedia page:
When Buddhism came to China, shamans were persecuted, like witches in the west, so they became Taoists, rivals to the Buddhists, and continued their practices in secret, using only internal energy, internal alchemy, without the use of accessories to identify themselves. The saying goes "you cannot tell a sage by his clothes." They were also known as magicians, wizards and sorcerers. Yes, Taoism is magic.

—Mantak Chia, Interview in Positive Health

The Burakumin - The Complicity of Japanese Buddhism in Oppression and an Opportunity for Liberation:
however, when one examines the role of Japanese Buddhism in casting the burakumin down...


In an issue of the Buraku Liberation News, an English-language bimonthly publication of the Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute(44), the question of Buddhism and discrimination was taken up in the section entitled “Buraku Problem Q & A.” The question was, “Is Buddhism free from Buraku discrimination?” What follows is part of the response to the question:

There is a tradition that people carve a religious name for the dead on the face of a tomb as a sign of worship. That is a practice for many Buddhist religious organizations. The name for the dead is Kaimyo, posthumous Kaimyo is given by a Buddhist priest and is recorded in a post-memorial-notebook at the temple the dead belonged to. Of late, it was discovered that discriminatory names and characters in the notebooks and on the faces of the tombs exist. These were given by Buddhist priests to the dead who were of Buraku origin. The names include the characters for beast, humble, ignoble, servant and many other kinds of derogatory expressions. Upon the disclosure, Buddhist organizations started to widely investigate notebooks and tombs in response to the requests of the BLL [Buraku Liberation League]. They found discriminatory Kaimyo, at many Buddhist sects in most parts of Japan. While the majority seems to have given a long time ago, there are some names given even since the 1940’s.(45)

Such discriminatory practice is an indication that Buddhism has historically contributed to burakumin oppression. Since the Japanese people inescapably employ Buddhist death rituals, it is not surprising that it is here that Buddhism can make its own contribution to burakumin discrimination. Buddhist temples that were located in buraku communities “were called ‘impure temples’ [eta-dera] and were not allowed to communicate with temples in non-Buraku areas.”(46) Further, since the Dalits were told from the Hindu perspective, the burakumin were taught that it was their karma that placed them in this unsavory life and that forbearance was necessary if the next life was to be favorable.

Friday, 6 August 2010

human beings like to be deceived - "how to think about weird things" book review

first off, the book how to think about weird things gets a million stars from me. every human being should read this book.

i have been thinking recently about something i read there, it was a quote about how people actually like to be deceived, but there was no explanation or example given and then i realized that the biggest example is in movies (and also books). a good movie is one where you think you know who the bad guy is and then you find out you're wrong. people also like to watch magic shows, card tricks, etc. but sometimes we hate being deceived: finding out your spouse/partner is having an affair =)

update 20100813:
i was reading fooled by randomness by nassim taleb and found this which supports this idea of liking to be deceived, e.g. through literature/entertainment:

The book is the synthesis of, on one hand, the no-nonsense
mathematical trader (self-styled "practitioner of uncertainty") who
spent his life trying to resist being fooled by randomness and trick the
emotions associated with uncertainty and, on the other, the aesthetically
obsessed, literature-loving human being willing to be fooled by any form
of nonsense that is polished, refined, original, and tasteful. I am not
capable of avoiding being the fool of randomness; what l can do is
confine it to where it brings some aesthetic gratification.

Monday, 2 August 2010

lds changes sacred temple ordinances. lds "apostle" david haight says this is apostasy

in the ensign, november 1979, david haight (interesting sidenote: notice how he is referred to in the article as a member of the council of the twelve, and not apostle) states in his talk called joseph smith the prophet:
we explained briefly the Apostasy and the Restoration: that there is vast evidence and history of an apostasy from the doctrine taught by Jesus and his Apostles, that the organization of the original Church became corrupted, and sacred ordinances were changed to suit the convenience of men, and that today good people all over the world are confused with contending religions with differing doctrine and methods of worship.

11 years later the church would change the sacred temple ordinances by removing the signs of the cutting of the throat and belly (bowels). then in 2005, they have apparently changed (almost done away with) the washing and anointing. see mormon church changes the temple ceremony again?

see also mormon temple endowment ceremony ordinances - Can sacred mormon temple covenants and ordinances be changed?