Through The Static

August 26, 2008

Pastor conned followers with his fake cancer ‘over porn addiction’

Filed under: Religion,WTF — disciplepete @ 10:31 am

Pretty bizarre….this guy in Australia was a pastor who pretended he had cancer, he would sing inspirational songs and even wore an oxygen tube during his performances…but it turns out it’s all a hoax, and he’s really just a porn addict. Umm..yeah, don’t ask me, I don’t know either. Herald Sun:

THE father of a disgraced Melbourne preacher who faked a two-year battle with cancer says his son’s porn obsession fuelled the deceit.

Shocked father Danny Guglielmucci – also a minister – said his son Michael’s bizarre double life was underpinned by the 16-year addiction.

Michael Guglielmucci, until recently a preacher at the popularPlanetshakers youth church in Melbourne, inspired Christians around the world with a hit song, Healer.

The song featured on Sydney church Hillsong’s latest album and debuted at No. 2 on the ARIA charts.

But the high-profile church leader was stripped of his credentials this week after he admitted fabricating his battle with terminal illness.

The deception included conducting performances with an oxygen tube in his nose and telling audiences he had broken bones and other unexplained symptoms.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald Sun Mr Guglielmucci said he, his wife and Michael’s wife had no idea about the deception until recent days and they were all in “absolute shock” to discover Michael wasn’t terminally ill.

“My wife and I, over the past two years, have watched him vomit in buckets, having nose bleeds and even his hair fell out in clumps at one stage,” he said.

“As a professional minister I’ve stood in front of my congregation and cried and said to pray for my son.”

Mr Guglielmucci revealed his son had suffered “mystery illnesses” since the age of 12 — about the time his porn addiction began.

 

June 13, 2008

Intelligent people ‘less likely to believe in God’

Filed under: Miss Cleo,Randomness,Religion — disciplepete @ 12:20 am

As an atheist, I’m all over this story like curry on rice. From the Telegraph:

Professor Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, said many more members of the “intellectual elite” considered themselves atheists than the national average.

A decline in religious observance over the last century was directly linked to a rise in average intelligence, he claimed.

But the conclusions – in a paper for the academic journal Intelligence – have been branded “simplistic” by critics…

…A survey of Royal Society fellows found that only 3.3 per cent believed in God – at a time when 68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers.

A separate poll in the 90s found only seven per cent of members of the American National Academy of Sciences believed in God.

Professor Lynn said most primary school children believed in God, but as they entered adolescence – and their intelligence increased – many started to have doubts.

He told Times Higher Education magazine: “Why should fewer academics believe in God than the general population? I believe it is simply a matter of the IQ. Academics have higher IQs than the general population. Several Gallup poll studies of the general population have shown that those with higher IQs tend not to believe in God.”

Hmmz, I’m not really buying it. I’m not completely sold on the intelligence measuring capacity of IQ tests to begin with, but that’s a story for different day. I also think religious belief is motivated more by emotion than intelligence. I know plenty of religious people who are very intelligent. Maybe an intelligent person will question religion more. Maybe.  And damn, there’s like a billion comments people left to the article…definitely stirred up folks.

June 11, 2008

In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity

Filed under: Gender,Health,Pokemon,Religion,Sex,WTF — disciplepete @ 10:15 pm

NYT:

PARIS – The operation in the private clinic off the Champs-Élysées involved one semicircular cut, 10 dissolving stitches and a discounted fee of $2,900.

But for the patient, a 23-year-old French student of Moroccan descent from Montpellier, the 30-minute procedure represented the key to a new life: the illusion of virginity.

Like an increasing number of Muslim women in Europe, she had a hymenoplasty, a restoration of her hymen, the vaginal membrane that normally breaks in the first act of intercourse.

“In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt,” said the student, perched on a hospital bed as she awaited surgery on Thursday. “Right now, virginity is more important to me than life.”

As Europe’s Muslim population grows, many young Muslim women are caught between the freedoms that European society affords and the deep-rooted traditions of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

The article is pretty interesting. I think overall it’s pretty messed up for the men that these women are trying to fool. I think it’s bad to start a marriage based on a lie of this magnitude. Obviously these men place a high importance on virginity, and regardless of what the importance of a woman’s virginity ought to be, the deceptiveness of this whole thing just rubs me the wrong way.

May 31, 2008

Al-Qaeda’s Feminists

Filed under: Gender,Religion,World News — disciplepete @ 2:11 pm

I have to admit, it almost seemed like an article from the Onion when I saw this headline about a debate within al-Qaeda about a woman’s right to participate in “terror” attacks. I just wouldn’t imagine that women who were devoted to Islamist militant organizations would feel so strongly about challenging their prescribed roles. But apparently it is a serious issue for some that’s being addressed in the safe space of the internet, where the women can express how they feel without revealing their identities. From Yahoo:

In response to a female questioner, al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahri said in April that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman’s role, he said on the Internet audio recording, is limited to caring for the homes and children of al-Qaida fighters.

His remarks have since prompted an outcry from fundamentalist women, who are fighting or pleading for the right to be terrorists.The statements have also created some confusion, because in fact suicide bombings by women seem to be on the rise, at least within the Iraq branch of al-Qaida.

A response from one of the women:

“How many times have I wished I were a man … When Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri said there are no women in al-Qaida, he saddened and hurt me,” wrote “Companion of Weapons,” who said she listened to the speech 10 times. “I felt that my heart was about to explode in my chest…I am powerless.”

Such postings have appeared anonymously on discussion forums of Web sites that host videos from top al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. While the most popular site requires names and passwords, many people use only nicknames, making their identities and locations impossible to verify…Many appear to represent computer-literate women arguing in the most modern of venues – the Internet – for rights within a feudal version of Islam.

Well, Hamas is more open to women fighters:

Hamas, another militant group, is open about using women fighters and disagrees with al-Qaida’s stated stance. At least 11 Palestinian women have launched suicide attacks in recent years.

“A lot of the girls I speak to … want to carry weapons. They live with this great frustration and oppression,” said Huda Naim, a prominent women’s leader, Hamas member and Palestinian lawmaker in Gaza. “We don’t have a special militant wing for women … but that doesn’t mean that we strip women of the right to go to jihad.”

So what does this all mean for al-Qaeda’s PR?

Al-Zawahri’s remarks show the fine line al-Qaida walks in terms of public relations. In a modern Arab world where women work even in some conservative countries, al-Qaida’s attitude could hurt its efforts to win over the public at large. On the other hand, noted SITE director Katz, al-Zawahri has to consider that many al-Qaida supporters, such as the Taliban, do not believe women should play a military role in jihad.

May 29, 2008

Vatican says will excommunicate women priests

Filed under: Gargoyles,Gender,Religion — disciplepete @ 9:05 pm

The Catholic Church doesn’t allow women to be priests, and they’re trying to get the idea out of the heads of Catholics who support the ordination of women priests. We’ll see how long the Church can hold this position. I think the Church needs to also allow priests to get married; my dad actually used to be a Catholic priest, it was his first career, and he left because he had some beef with his superiors. My dad wrote a book about his experience in the Church, and if my memory serves correct, he argued that the Church forces priests to be celibate in order to exercise control over them.  That really seems to be a strong hypothesis on the face of it. Anyways, here’s some of the article about the women priest issue, from Yahoo:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican issued its most explicit decree so far against the ordination of women priests on Thursday, punishing them and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication

…A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the Church’s existing ban on women priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.

Excommunication forbids those affected from receiving the sacraments or sharing in acts of public worship.

Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he thought the decree was meant to send a warning to the growing number of Catholics who favor admitting women to the priesthood…

The Church says it cannot change the rules banning women from the priesthood because Christ chose only men as his apostles. Church law states that only a baptized male can be made a priest.

May 19, 2008

Heter – o – Homo — Marriage: Is This What We Want, What We Really, Really Want?

Some of our dear readers might see this posting as: “RoooZERS! HeL-LO, this, is, like, soooooooo 3 days ago!” but I felt like I needed to really sit and process this “victory” while recovering from that which is known as FINALS/DEATH.

shimizu

+ jolie = Oh, What Coulda BEEN! Right.

Do I think there is something inherently WRONG with the concept of marriage, of two people being committed to each other, faithful to each other FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES?!!!

GASP, GASP, GASP…!

buh…no?

Look, marriage ain’t perfect, but it does become a sticky issue once it has become a legal institution that is on the receiving end of certain benefits liiiiiike creating a “family partnership” under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members, being entitled to inherit at least summa yo spouse’s estate (RIPieces, Anna Nicole!), and receiving social security, medicare, or disability benefits for your spouses. In other words — MO-NAY! That and a bunch o coolio stuff, like renewing leases for spouses, choosing whether or not to keep em plugged into machines (life support), or moving into “family only zones.”

At the same time, WHY MARRIAGE? Isn’t this a little archaic, to still distribute financial benefits for only those who uphold good ole Christian, Amurrican values? (And yes, marriage is a rittle monogamous phenomenon that does not find its roots in Christianity, but the instiutionalization of marriage by the US government was partially motivated over upholding Judeo Christian practices and codes of “morality,” which kinda makes you question how secular the US of A is sometimes… I mean, REALLY.)

I mean, couldn’t you just pick a friend? A special, recial friend?

But that would be MADNESS, sir BobbleBot!

Maybe so, but getting back to my original point (I’m sure I had one) is — IS MARRIAGE WHAT WE REALLY WANT and why? I mean, looking how the recent ruling in California as a victory, what is the language used in deeming this as such?

ellen portia

Oh, what beautiful blue-eyed, yellow-haired children they shall have!

Let’s take a look at one of the many Victory Jigs over the media, as reported by New American MediaGay Couples Rejoice Over Supreme Court Ruling:

SAN FRANCISCO—Since 10 a.m. yesterday morning, when the California Supreme Court released its decision that same-sex couples could legally marry in the state, a sense of jubilation has filled the air. The nearly 4,000 gay and lesbian couples who were married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2004 have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride for the past several years—they went from wedded bliss to seeing their unions crushed by the rulings of lower courts. And it appears that their marriages are now once again legitimate in the eyes of the law.

Sounds great, so far, don’t it? Diff Sex couples and Same Sex couples shall probably both be entitled to the same benefits in ze state of California. (West Coast is dey Best Coast!)

Pauline Togawa-Guillermo and her partner of seven years, Jill, are one of those couples. They stood in the long line outside City Hall on Feb. 16, 2004, a damp and dreary day, to get their marriage license. They’d married each other several years earlier, in a Buddhist ceremony attended by hundreds of friends. But when the city’s then-new mayor stoked national controversy by ordering the county clerk to issue the licenses for same-sex couples, Togawa-Guillermo sensed an opportunity that she had to take. “It was a magical moment,” she recalls. “We made so many friends in that line—friendships that carried us through these long four years.”

Oh, crap. Here comes the human interest side of the story, the putting that “human face” on this issue. Not that the BobbLeBot is not in touch with its emotions, but it doesn’t like being EMOTIONALLY manipulated into favoring a specific perception.

Unless this emotional manipulation comes as a packaged deal along with a bussel of baby bunnies and roneLy puppies. RONELY PUPPIES!

seal pup yorkie BUNNIES

seal puppies are still puppies!

::runs towards them with outstretched arms::

Buuuuuut — I don’t see that here. No bunnies hopping around or baby dogs doing their bidness.

buddhist wedding + magically delicious

All I see is the Buddhist ceremony, the making of friends, and a “magical moment.” MAGICAL, I tell you! I’m not so sure if the BobbLeBot finds this story so magically dericious.

Shortly after the ceremony, however, the newlyweds received word that their marriage, along with thousands of others, would not be recognized because of rulings by lower courts. Togawa-Guillermo and her partner were already in the process of building their lives together, and the news, she says, was “shattering.”

“We were able to change our drivers’ licenses and social security cards, but the name change request was rescinded. The ruling came down, saying that our marriage was not legal, that our marriage certificate could not be used. One day we were legal, and within 24 hours we were living in sin.”

Shattering. They were SHATTERED, people! To PIECES! Ew, ew, more romantical language, and EW. “One day we were legal, and within 24 hours we were living in sin.”

SIN

Okay, drivers’ licenses and social security cards I get. I sooooooooooooo get. Not veree sexy, by any means. I mean, it’s a pain in the arse to stand in line and be shuttled from one to another in a building full of people in horribly foul moods. So THAT sucked. But “living in sin.”

oh, SIN

To be all technical about this, wouldn’t it be “living in sin” if, say, the marriage weren’t recognized in the “eyes of God” ?

::trying not to roll eyes, esp when couple had a BUDDHIST ceremony to tie ze knot::

Does Nation State = God?

So no, don’t have too much patience for the morality issue or the denial of the state of non-sin, since I highly doubt the US government can legally hold power over the status of your soul and karmic bank account. As much as I’m sure it would really, REALLY like to.

Come on, peoples! Let’s get down to IT!

“Marriage dignifies the couple and the child,” she explains. “When our daughter interacts with peers, she’s viewed as the child from a family that’s in limbo. She’s been interacting with peers whose families are recognized as a unit…the ramifications for our children are huge.”

Okay, lesbian-couple-formerly-living-in-sin-but-married-by-Buddha, you are killing me here. KILLING ME!

What, exactly, is killing the BobbLeBot, pray tell? It’s not just their line of argument, but the ideological structure they are buying into in order to justify the legalization of same-sex marriage. Yes, I can recognize that American culture can be, especially in really conservative areas, extremely judgmental of unmarried couples living under the same roof — “God”-forbid — parenting a bevy of children.

Basically, they view being a couple that is viewed as legitimately married by the government as the crux of their dilemma. They want their “dignity” and they can’t have it without the blessing of Mom and Dad God the US Government. Without governmental recognition, their child is viewed as being in a state of “limbo,” as coming from an unstable family background. They want their child to be viewed as “coming from” a stable unit, and that unit isn’t stable until it is recognized by a government that ideologically enforces Judeo Christian heteronormative values into the very fabric of our culture, our perceptions of what is “dignified”, and our legal system.

A marriage should be a SINGLE UNIT of 2 PEOPLE, dammit! Preferably recognized by the eyes of “God”. And a lot of same sex couples agree.

Welcome to HomoNormativity.

homonorms

We heard a lot about heteronormativity — not heard, but LIVE, actually, while having it rammed down our throats, whatevs, I GET it. But what IS homonormativity, pray tell?

According to Lisa Duggan (some famous ramous academic/activist involved in ze politics of sexuality and gender), it’s “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them.”

gay cake

In other words, homonormativity doesn’t exactly resist or call heteronormativity (2 people, one man and one woman and 2.5 children are the IDEAL AMERICAN COUPLE) out on its bullsh*t. In fact, homonormativity BUYS into the culture of that white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and getting registered at Williams and Sonoma. In BUYING into it, it supports and JUSTIFIES the privileges of heteronormativity.

Look, we all buy into bullsh*T. Wanna hear mine? I watch ANTM. THAT’S RIGHT, people!!! I watch America’s Next Top Model and totally thought Anya and Fathima were ROBBED!!!

Still, I’m not gonna vote to make it a requirement to watch every episode of ANTM every Wednesday on the CW at 8PM/9PM Central in order to be eligible for a tax exemptions on magazine and cosmetics purchases. I’m not for giving health benefits to the people who watch it. It’s a load of interesting, pretty-pretty crap that the dumb/13-year-old and elitist/academic sides of me watch every other week on youtube.

murdaaaaah

ANYWAY, I super found the above linked article helpful, and if you’re interested in it, you should totally read it, but here’s a few snippets to clarify:

For many, such articulations of gay and lesbian identity in the public sphere provide evidence of true social and political progress. Yet in the past decade, some radical activists and scholars have cited such developments not as progressive signs of liberation but as reactionary responses linked directly to the privatizing imperatives of a powerful, ascendant brand of neoliberal politics that coalesced in the 1990s.

Can I get a WhUT-WHUT from the fallout of multiculturalism? Ah, neoLiberalism! There you are again, old friend! (buy RED! BUY IiiiiIT! ::shakes fist:: ) What — eating at Panda Express doesn’t liberate us from racism? What — watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy doesn’t fight our internalized homophobia? ::looks around:: WHAT?!

In accordance with this new homonormativity, prominent lesbian and gay rights organizations increasingly embrace agendas that vie for acceptance within contemporary economic and political systems, thereby abandoning their earlier commitments to economic redistribution and protecting sexual freedoms. This shift has made strange bedfellows out of lesbian and gay rights organizations and social conservatives: both endorse normative and family-oriented formations associated with domestic partnership, adoption, and gender-normative social roles; both tend to marginalize those who challenge serial monogamy and those – including transgender, bisexual, pansexual, and intersex constituencies – who feel oppressed by a binary gender or sex system. Moreover, because of its economic base in the neoliberal philosophy of consumer rights rather than that of citizen rights, the politics of homonormativity exercises an influence beyond U.S. borders, through gay and lesbian tourism, the global proliferation of gay and lesbian-themed U.S. cultural productions, and economic and political interventions that claim to make “gay rights” a global issue.

So the rest of this article/essay is super coolio, so yesh, yesh, read it if your brain can handle more brilliance. I mean, the BobbLeBot DOES tend to boggle the braiiiiiiiiiiiin…

What is a “right” anyway? And it bothers me that the issue of same-sex/gay/whatever-else-ya-wanna-call-it marriage upholds and reinforces the heteronormative structures of gender that oppressed the Queer, LBGTI community to begin with. THE OPPRESSED BECOMING THE OPPRESSORS, THE SELF-POLICING OF IDENTITY POLITICS!

BALTAR

Baltar… LIVES!

HeLLo — this is TOTALLY like Season 2.5 of BattleStar Galactica with the human police working in tandem with the CyLons to oppress (but really “liberate” in their frakked up minds) their fellow peoples! Sorry if I ruined that for some BSG fans. Um. It was allll gonna come out anyway.

So WHAT is my issue? Not really MARRIAGE (I mean, if you want to pick one, singular human being/animal/CyLon and commit to spend the REST OF YOUR LIFE with it, then that’s your funeral decision) or that now that Buddhist-ceremony-same-sex-formerly-living-in-“sin” couple are now entitled to the same benefits as heterosexed legally married couples.

SIN! + buddha!

It’s the whole buying into and supporting a system that kind of worked to oppress you, settling for a seat at the lunch counter as-long-as-you-keep-quiet in lieu of destroying that institution that persecuted you in the first place. You’re still on a leash and your value as a human being is still controlled and dictated by a government and culture that still doesn’t completely accept you with open arms. Because somewhere, deep down in the root of this acceptance of negotiated legalities, in these conditioned settlements of “rights” is a seed, a root of internalized self hate.

Colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia and all other various forms of oppression cut DEEP, peoples. Real DEEP.

I guess the question is — is this REALLY a victory? You see why the bobblebot is conflicted on this issue? Hence, cannot stand and celebrate at the par-tay, but will stand in weirdly-delineated space of solidarity.

When the news of the court’s decision broke, multitudes of gay and lesbian couples crowded the street outside the San Francisco courthouse, braving the sweltering, 90-degree heat to celebrate. Togawa-Guillermo was no exception. “My whole being was filled with euphoria,” she says. “And shortly after that, there was a sense of peace—that this was right. The court gave us a sense of dignity, which had been taken away from us. Fairness and social justice have been achieved.”

Oh, dear. Oh, DEER! Oh — Bambi.

ccaaaaaaaaaake

homonormativity is magically dericious.

May 17, 2008

Mexico Transgender Couple Ties The Knot, Pushes Law

Filed under: Religion,Rights,World News — disciplepete @ 5:07 pm

From the NYT:

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A couple who both changed their sex married on Saturday in Mexico’s first transgender wedding, as the traditionally conservative country loses some of its inhibitions.

Mario del Socorro, formerly Maria, and Diana Guerrero, who used to be Jose, held an austere ceremony for friends and relatives in a community center.

The couple said they hoped media coverage would pressure Mexico’s Congress to pass a proposed law that would let people get sex change operations in public hospitals and then be able to change their names and genders in public records

Lawmakers behind the transgender proposal are challenging a swath of conservative customs in largely Catholic Mexico, and in recent years they have been gaining momentum.

In 2006, gay civil unions were legalized in Mexico City and the northern state of Coahuila.

Lawmakers in the capital last year legalized early-term abortions and approved a law allowing terminally ill people to refuse treatment.

The Catholic Church has strongly criticized all of these measures.

May 12, 2008

“Science Versus Religion”: What Doth This All MEME?!!

It annoys me when the very idea of spirituality is equated with stuperstition in favor of science’s empirical evidence. This is not to say that we should be ruled solely by myth, legend, or religion — or that science and spirituality cannot be reconciled. Whether or not Religion or Spirituality is accepted as Truth or Reality, it is the human imagination and intellect that created and continues to create and refine these rituals, these codes of human ethics, and I do believe there’s got to be something more than human irrationality that allows for these patterns, practices, and belief systems to persist.

stained glass

But then again, this is all coming from a gal who has a weak spot for, oh, I don’t know, Neon Genesis Evangelion, LOST, Gargoyles (greatest American animated series of my generation), Ayashi no Ceres, Calculating God, Octavia E. Butler stuff, and Death Note. And did I mention that I’ve been particularly enamored with Battlestar Galactica for the past 52 hours? In the midst of FINALS???

gargoyes

Sure, I had a crush on Goliath, like 92% of the audience, but I always had a soft spot for Lexington!  BTW, am I the only one who found Xanatos hot?  ::fans self to cool down circuits::

I am not going to romanticize the unexplained phenomenon ingrained within the very fibers of science or bash the “pseudo-scientific” qualities of established fields such as psychoanalysis. Science is just as rationally irrational and driven by speculation and human imagination as spirituality and the ideological values we are willing to die for. Whether it is the as hokey as The Secret or as moving as those hidden meanings in formation of water crystals, it is important to have seemingly contradictory fields engage in a process of dialectics — having their ideas bounce off one another until alternatives are found and new contradictions are produced. ANYWAY, I’ll get on with the uber cool article I picked up on Truthdig.com.

From Truthdig.com

Render Unto Darwin That Which Is Darwin’s

The German chemist August Kekulé fell asleep in his study after a fruitless struggle to identify the chemical structure of benzene. He dreamed of a snake eating its own tail and awoke instantly. The dream gave him, through the ancient language of symbolism, the circular structure of the benzene ring that had eluded his conscious mind. The dream may have had its basis in Kekulé’s experiments, but it was the nonrational that brought him his discovery…

Science is often as inexact and intuitive as theology, philosophy and every other human endeavor. A mirror demonstrates the randomness of nature. A mirror reflects about 95 percent of light hitting it. The other 5 percent passes through the mirror. Photons, which are invisible, are either reflected or pass through the mirror’s surface. But there is no way of knowing which photons will be reflected and which will be absorbed. Electrons are also subject to these quantum effects. This led Werner Heisenberg to formulate his “uncertainty principle.” This principle states that we cannot know everything about a particle. If we can determine a particle’s position we cannot determine its momentum. We can measure momentum, but in this measurement we lose the particle’s exact position. We can know a particle’s momentum or its position. We cannot know both with definitive accuracy.

Science is not always directly empirical. Science is not governed by absolute, immutable laws. Science, and especially quantum mechanics, far from telling us we can know everything, tells us there will always be things we cannot know. No one ultimately understands. Science affirms the complexity and mystery of the universe. Science, like the religious impulse, opens us up to a world where we face mystery. There are forces in the universe that will always lie beyond the capacity of the human mind.

Another bone of contention: why is it that when we do not know the answer, cannot find the answer, that we go off on a holy grail search for an empirical explanation? AGAIN, I am not saying that for every answer we cannot find, we should ascribe to the holy hands of God(s). I mean, that would be an intellectual cop-out as well. But would it be so horrible to find a rationale, a mode of logic, that lies outside the linearity of empiricism?

water crystals

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese quantum physicist, performed a series of experiments on water crystals and revealed the fact that water is receptive to external messages. The formation of water crystals is positively correlated to exposure of the water to messages from human language, music, and printed characters.

The New Atheist writers from Richard Dawkins to E.O. Wilson to Sam Harris have become the high priests not of science but the cult of science. Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore, for example, call religious beliefs “memes.” Memes are defined as cultural artifacts—prototypical ideas—that invade and restructure minds in order to reproduce themselves. A meme replicates in human minds, they argue, the way genes replicate in human bodies. Memes include a word, belief, thought, religious ritual, dance, poem or any of the myriad of behaviors that are copied and reproduced in human societies. Although memes, unlike genes, are not identifiable physical structures, Dawkins uses the image of a virus to describe them. Religion, for Dawkins, is equated with a disease, and the religiously inclined are disease carriers.

Again, religion, like homosexuality, femininity, and trans fats are pathologized in the Name of Science. No, I belong to no church and believe that religious doctrine is about as problematic as the protective ideologies that lie behind the idea of the nation state — but it’s interesting when it is framed as a disease. A disease erodes health, which therefore implies that without this “disease” human society would be healthy. Without religion, human society would be that much stronger. Just like in the past when science classified homosexuality as a mental illness, or that female brains were that much smaller and limited in intellectual capacity in comparison to male brains (assuming a binary division of gender.)

And yet I don’t want to totally reject the idea of memes. This IDEA (ie, speculation, ie product of irrational logic) holds value. If inherent human behaviors and ideology are things encoded within our very genes, then there must be something in its persistence and survival that contributes to a much larger pattern and design that may lie beyond the capacity of strictly empirical understanding.

tap that WATER

yeeeeah, TAP that water! Tap it, now!

Random question: who OWNS Science, anyway? Who does ScienCe BELONG to? (I ask this question a lot in relation to Culture with a capital C.)

The attempt to equate patterns of human society with the behavior of genes, while it sounds plausible, and may even be instructive in some settings, is part of this cult of science. The genetic coding that permits the transfer of DNA-encoded units of information is fairly precise. But this model fails to work for the transfer of cultural, social, ethical and political behavior. Patterns of morality are easily reversed or erased, especially in ages of revolutionary fervor, war, anarchy, fear, social decline and despotism. Those who are schooled in identical religious texts, even within the same communities, have different views of morality and ethics. It is possible to transfer literal meaning. It is possible to transfer genetic information. It is possible to pass on heritable characteristics mediated by hard-and-fast rules of chemistry and physics. These rules, however, have no counterpart in the dissemination of ideas. Ideas do not replicate like genes. Ideas are snuffed out or forgotten, often for centuries. Ideas that prevail are often not the best ideas but more often ideas backed by power. The rise of Christianity owed more to the brutality of Constantine and the Holy Roman Empire than it did its particular theology. Those who advocate the theory of memes ignore the role of power, repression, persecution and force in human history, as well as the inherent chaos and irrationality of human thought. Human thought cannot be treated like an object in a laboratory. There is no scientific mechanism that explains cultural evolution.

goliath vs

Those who endorse the meme theory speak of memetic engineering. This memetic engineering would involve the conscious manipulation of intellectual evolution by disseminating good memes and curtailing bad ones. The question of who decides which memes are good and which bad is not raised.

CYLON!

Hmmm… looks like “SCIENCE” can be as scary as that oft-talked-about “Hand of GOD.” Still, I am wary of the bashing of an idea because there are holes that which cannot be explained…YET. This is where I disagree with the writer — “Well, you can’t explain THIS, therefore this idea of MEMES is BULLSH*T.” Of course, as delicious as the prospect of mimetic engineering and, from the fragments of our human flaws, the behavioral construction of Cylons sounds, perhaps it would be wise to not ignore these quibbles.

Einstein’s quest for a unified field theory explaining subatomic structure or the Big Bang no more undermined religious contemplation than evolutionary biology. The questions of science are not the questions of religion. Science does not attempt to address, nor is it capable of addressing, the final mystery of existence, our moments of transcendence, the moral life, love, our search for meaning and our mortality. Science, limited to what can be proved and disproved, is a morally neutral discipline. It serves human needs and human ambitions. There are times when it protects and advances life. There are times when it empowers ambitions that are immoral and deadly. Science, like all human endeavors, comes with good and bad, possibilities of hope and possibilities of destruction.

Speak on it, Mister! Science, like spirituality, is a tool and can be utilized in an endless variety of ways. Science has no endeavor, no final aim or goal. But there is a design to it. A pattern that can sometimes be supported by mathematics — but not always. In any case, it is the ulterior motives of those who use science or spirituality that determine its direction and its capacity for destruction/reconstruction. If there is anything that can be described as a potential pathogen, it would probably be human ideology. Hm… let me refine that — ideology that divides the world into 2 categories: Inferior and Superior.

death note ryuk

People interested in the greed behind holding the keys to deciding what is Inferior and Superior, the barometer of human life value, should definitely check out Death Note. (De-su Noo-to.) Are you more of an L or a Yagami Light? I’m quite partial to both.

When Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life” in 1859, he named natural selection as the mechanism that drives and defines life. Evolutionary science, however, swiftly became for many a surrogate religion. It was used to promote racism and pseudo-science, such as eugenics, a theory of biological determinism invented by Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin. It was turned like a club on religion and used to justify exploitation and neglect of the poor and disadvantaged.

There are unfortunate implications in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin believes in the possibility of compassion and benevolence. He argues that these adaptations give one species advantage over another. He uses compassion to insist that sooner or later the “superior” races—those with compassion—will exterminate the “more savage” races. Compassion, he implies, does not exist, or certainly not in the same abundance, in others as it does in us. But Darwin left the championing of these implications to others such as Herbert Spencer, a utopian and a doctrinaire Malthusian. It was Spencer, not Darwin, who argued that step by step we were progressing as a species and would end with the perfect human being. And it was Spencer who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.”

neon genesis evangelion

Darwin would sooooooo be a Yagami Rai-tto. (Yagami Light.)

Wilson and Dawkins build their vision of human perfectibility out of the legitimate theory that human beings are shaped by the laws of heredity and natural selection. They depart from this position when they assert that we can leave that determinism behind. There is nothing in science that implies that our genetic makeup allows us to perfect ourselves. Those who, in the name of science, claim that we can overcome our imperfect human nature make a leap of faith. In this leap they leave the realm of science. They operate on a belief system that functions like religion. It gives meaning. It gives purpose and hope. But it is a myth. It is not true. And there is nothing, when you cut through their scientific jargon, which supports their absurd proposition.

dharma initiative

There is value in this assessment. Science and religion aren’t exactly incompatible or mutually exclusive. Both can operate on disturbingly similar wavelengths when it comes to pushing towards an idea of an Ultimate Truth. The idea that there is One Truth, like there is only One God, or One Religion, can be as dangerous as those who work to promote this.

The attempt to impose the methodology of science onto collective and personal relationships also has grave consequences. If a scientific hypothesis does not work it is discarded. Pluralism has no place in science. Neither do competing truths. Science, when set up as a model for our moral and social existence, implicitly banishes compromise and tolerance. Scientific ideas, because they can be demonstrated or disproved, are embraced or rejected on quantifiable evidence. But human relationships and social organizations interact and function effectively when they are not rigid, accept morally ambiguity and take into account the irrational. Politics, for example, is about channeling and managing human drives and desires. It is only fitfully in contact with reason. This profound understanding of the irrational element in politics led Sigmund Freud to write his masterpiece “Civilization and Its Discontents.” The secular fundamentalists, in a gross misuse of Darwin and of science, turn biological evolution into a methodology to champion moral progress for the human race. They seek to give to their arguments the patina of unassailable truth. But what they sell are myths, bizarre utopian visions of a new heaven and a new earth dressed up in the language of scientific rationalism.

ayashi no ceres

Oh, Chris Hedges — you ALMOST had it — ALMOST! For me, at least. Sometimes when trying to counter the argument of one party, we BECOME the other party, or use the very methods we argue against. This is Hedges’ One Truth. He’s not anti-religion and is critical of science that uses the same ideological methods to assail religion — but in the end, Hedges also uses the very same methods to assail some of the nefarious aspects of Science with a capital “S”.

stained glass

Picking sides won’t help propel us beyond the binary or trying to understand new truths and creative practices. When it comes to fields of science and spirituality, sometimes it’s most helpful to follow what’s helped me digest Freud in my gender politics class: “You’ve got to assume that he’s always right and that he’s always wrong.” Sometimes getting stuck on just one inconsistency or contradiction can paralyze us from finding new alternatives, visions, and solutions.

Bottom line: instead of bashing contradictions, maybe we should try diving into them to see what we can come up with.

Bottom line #2: I dunno about y’all but I am craving the first season of Gargoyles. I still get chills every time I hear the opening theme of Gargoyles: <– please click to shiver along with me!

“One thousand years ago, Superstition and the Sword ruled.

It was a time of Darkness, it was a world of Fear.

It was the age of Gargoyles.

Stone by day, warriors by night,

we were Betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect,

frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years…

Now, here, in Manhattan,

the spell is broken, AND WE LIVE AGAIN!

::THEMATIC INTERLUDE, TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP::

We are defenders of the night!

We. Are. GARGOYLES!”

goliath and desdemona

Okay, as much as I was an Elisa Maza/Goliath fan (interracial coupling, anyone?) I still felt quite torn about and secretly rooted for the connection between Desdemona and Goliath. Sometimes politics trumps the irrational mind of RUV, but when one does embrace the heart of the illogicaL (Goliath + Maza = 4EVA!), sometimes one will be pleasantly surprised by the productive forces that proliferate.

Do not be prisoner of history, my friends! We all have the capacity to endlessly create ourselves!!!

::circuitry experiencing sensory overload::

April 24, 2008

Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital

Filed under: Randomness,Religion,World News — disciplepete @ 5:34 pm

Umm, ok, I really just couldn’t resist posting this, and I think there is a point to be made here. Yahoo:

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Ok, so it’s safe to say that nobody actually lost a penis, or had their penis shrunk. The “victims” just believe this, due to their strong superstition:

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

The local police chief:

“I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said.

“But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it’,” he said.

But residents of Kinshasa insist it’s happening:

“It’s real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny,” said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station. (article)

This whole story is just another example of why I think all superstition (including what passes for religious belief among the masses) is extremely harmful. It might make you feel good, but these types of incidents are the potential and all too often manifested results of superstitious irrationality. I know the Bobblehead strongly agrees with me on this point! =)

March 30, 2008

Muslims more numerous than Catholics

Filed under: Religion — disciplepete @ 1:38 pm

Yahoo:

VATICAN CITY – Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

“For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican’s yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2 percent. (article)

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