Sunday, June 29, 2014

Every New Religion Builds on its Predecessor's Stupidity

Have you ever noticed that all of the Abrahamic religions get creepier and more far fetched the later in time they were conceived of? It started, of course, with Judaism. Its adherents beliefs were fairly simple: There was just one god who had no real name that anyone could pronounce, but Yaweh was close enough. There were lots of do's and don'ts, most of which sound rather bizarre or silly and many centered around what you can and can't eat. But there was no heaven or hell and everybody was pretty much just going to go to an afterlife where they would be cold and thirsty for eternity. The weirdest part of the religion is that God created the earth and universe in six days and he then allowed his first human creation to be tempted by a talking snake. Mostly, however, the Jews believed this to be symbolic.

Then came the Christians. Their god was actually a Jew on Earth, but he came to bring a new contract with the people, since the original one wasn't working out so well. It's called the New Covenant. Christians believe in three separate gods, but they are all connected somehow to make just one. It's something like three different colors of Play Doh that you squish together to make one clay horse. They also believe in the talking snake and the six days of Creation that the Jews told in their holy book. But whereas Jews knew is was metaphorical, some Christians decided it must be literal. The bottom line is, if you don't believe that Eve was tempted by a talking snake, ate a forbidden fruit, and thus sent sin spewing out over the entire human race that was to come, and if you don't believe that God sent himself to Earth so he could have himself killed as a human sacrifice to himself to erase the sin that he allowed to be spewn, then you're going to the hell that he created for you.

A few hundred years later a guy named Muhammed came along and decided that the Christians got it wrong, because they chose the wrong Abrahamic descendant to base their religion on. Muhammad picked another one of the original 12 and called his new religion Islam and its followers Muslims. So he married a young girl of six and had sex with her when she was nine. Then he married several other women but told his followers they could only marry four at a time. He also said that God's name was Allah, but you can't draw a picture of him. You also can't draw a picture of Mohammed, or else a fellow Muslim can kill you. Women don't have rights and they must cover themselves from head to toe in public so that the men can't lust after them and rape them. But if you kill yourself while also killing a blasphemer you will go to heaven where you'll be greeted by 72 virgins - no mention of where they virgins came from or if they are consenting now.

But if that wasn't strange enough for a religion, in the 1800s a shyster named Joseph Smith told everyone that he had found some gold plates in a cave. He translated them with God's help into the Book of Mormon, which tells of the adventures of Jesus Christ in America! Mormons believe things like magic underwear is all you need to keep yourself protected from, well, everything sinful. They used to believe that you could marry many women, but now they don't believe that anymore because the U.S. government scolded them over taxes and morality - so U.S. Government: 1, God: 0. Speaking of God, they believe he lives on a planet orbiting a star named Kolob. They also believe that people of a different species live on the moon, but they are similar to our Quakers. And they believe that all non-Mormons will go to hell unless a Mormon prays them out. Beyond that, they just believe pretty much what their predecessors, the Christians and Jews believe.

So it appears that each religion sort of builds on the ones that came before it and adds as much silly nonsense as they can think of to the beliefs that already existed. I can't wait to see what comes next. Oh yeah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Praise be his noodly appendages.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

No, Billy Bob, You Probably Didn't get Abducted by Aliens

I admit I was unaware that there is a dichotomy of opinion on intelligent alien life between astronomers and biologists. My degree is in biology but I also love astronomy. I have always been suspicious of the statistical claims made by the astronomers, that because of the sheer number of stars there MUST be intelligent life somewhere else. And I agree that it is likely that some kind of sentient, intelligent beings probably do exist somewhere else. But I don't think the galaxy is full of them. I think that, because of the reasons outlined here, intelligent life is fairly rare, if not unique. Without empirical evidence one way or other, it goes to speculation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to Fix America

How to improve America in five easy steps:

1. Build up our failing infrastructure. What does that entail? Let's develop a plan to fix all our decrepit bridges and highways for one thing. Then, let's upgrade our railroad system to add more bullet trains and high-speed rail services. Let's also upgrade the mass transit systems in all cities where an upgrade is needed, and build new ones in cities that are lacking this service.

2. Fund higher education and increase funding for local school systems. Students need not only the best teachers money can buy, they also need proper books and supplies, including well-equipped science labs and music departments. States subsidize their public colleges and universities, but the Federal government needs to step in and fill the gap with a 100 percent subsidy of its own. Going to public college should be a no-cost endeavor. Students should be graduating debt free. If you want to go to a private school, then pay their tuition, otherwise, it should all be free to the student.

3. Increase scientific research in space exploration, climate change, medicine, and technology. The U.S. needs to be the leader in scientific research. This is where our future lies. We need to not only attract students from Asia and Europe, we need to make sure they stay here when they graduate by investing in the creation of technology jobs.

4. Develop a single-payer health care system so that all basic health care needs are met free of charge to the patient. It's important that we as a nation maintain the health of all citizens. It should be a basic human right.

5. Get rid of poverty. It's just bringing us down. But how to do it? Make sure the minimum wage is at least $12 per hour. Make sure everybody who is not able to work is paid by a federal program, such as Medicaid. And make sure those who can't find work get a government job making the minimum wage instead of paying them any form of welfare.

Who's going to pay for all that, you might ask? It doesn't matter. It's irrelevant. Paying for it is a detail. If a terrorist group or enemy nation attacked us, we would go start a war without hesitation. I can say that because we always have done so. George Bush did it twice, and once was without provocation. There would be few people against going to war with an enemy who attacked us, from either party. So let's just pretend we started a war and use the money we would have spent on that to build up our infrastructure and to fund education and scientific research.

Don't worry. The investment in science and education will pay us back over and over again. And the best place to start looking for the funding is by taxing the ultra-rich. Then borrow whatever else is needed. The borrowed funds can be paid back eventually through the return on our investment in higher education and scientific research.

There is only one fly in the ointment. Just one problem with this solution to fixing America - the GOP.

The solution to the GOP problem can be solved at the voting booth.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

God Exists and He's an Ass

I have evidence that God exists, and that he is a cruel trickster. This article was the clincher. If you don't eat anything for 2 to 4 days straight it helps your body rejuvenate itself. Apparently, fasting for a long time kills off some of your white blood cells which are replaced by better ones when you start eating again.

That goes right along with what we've always been told is the best way to stay healthy. "Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and get lots of exercise." Why is it that humans can't stay healthy eating food that actually has flavor, like a good old bacon cheeseburger? Everybody knows that food dripping in fat and slathered in sugar tastes way better, but it's all bad for you. If celery is so good for us why don't we crave it? And why is it that exercise is best? Why isn't it better to just sit around and read or watch TV? Why is fasting a good way to rejuvenate the body instead of a nice buffet gorge every once in awhile?

Yep, it can't all be accidental. God must exist; and he's an asshole.