Let’s Talk About Sex

Green&Daley

Oh, go on let’s…

The average person has sex about 2,500 times in their lives and produces an average of 2 children. In other words, a mere 0.08% of the sex they have leads to procreation. This means that the remaining 99.92% is entirely recreational. People have sex together because it feels good or helps them be close to someone they love or because they enjoy it, or all three, plus a multitude of other reasons. Even if we were multiply by ten the number of occasions when sex is intended to produce babies but doesn’t, that still leaves 99.2% of the time when sex is just sex.

So why is it, holy readers of this unholy blog, do you insist that sex is only for procreation (like you do here, here and here)? If that’s all it’s for shouldn’t you produce more offspring every time you and your partner have sex? Yet you don’t. Even those extremists among you who have 8 or 12 children still have sex a hell of lot of times when it doesn’t result in another kid and isn’t meant to. Most of you use contraception to actively prevent procreation and have all the fun sex you want, whenever you want, without risking another pregnancy. Surely your God can’t possibly approve when he made sex exclusively for reproduction.

Catholics – you don’t get off the hook either; you have lot of sex that doesn’t lead to babies too (or you’d be clocking up kids by the dozen by now). How’d you manage that, I wonder? Same way everybody else does, I’d guess. And what about all the jerking off to porn that macho Christian men enjoy? That for procreative purposes too?

So, why is it you keep telling the rest of us that sex is only for procreation? Let me tell you – because it’s part of your anti-gay agenda. ‘Filthy gays,’ you’re saying, ‘having all this sex that can’t possibly lead to procreation, sex that’s just for fun, that might be with more partners than I’ll ever manage’ (though multiple partners and sex outside those ‘one man/one woman’ marriages you care so much about are pretty common among Christians – but you don’t want that mentioned either). While it may come as a surprise, most gay people are not infertile; they are quite capable of ‘procreating’; given the problems of overpopulation, shouldn’t you be grateful many don’t? Or maybe, like spiteful nutjob Stephen Green in his recent rant about Tom Daley, you like to make the bleedin’ obvious point that gay men need ‘a girl’ in order to reproduce… just like straight men do.

‘But,’ you say, ‘gay sex is between two men – maybe more – or two women (maybe more) and that’s so downright distasteful and disgusting. The Bible says so and I believe it.’ Of course, you’d believe it even if the Bible didn’t say so. So what if it does? Do you honestly think the rest of us care what a bunch of ancient tribesmen and other sex-obsessed fanatics thought?

For men and women who are gay, sex with each other is far from disgusting or distasteful. It’s every bit as exciting, loving and fulfilling as all the fun sex you have. Unless of course, yours isn’t.

Your ranting about recreational sex, gay or otherwise, is just so much hypocrisy. You like it yourself, or else you wouldn’t do it (and you do do it) yet you don’t want the rest of us doing it with the consenting adults we find attractive. Until you’re prepared to give up sex so Jesus will let you in his Magic Kingdom (like he says you should in Matthew 19.10-15 and Luke 20.34-35) then do us all a favour and shut the fuck up about all the great sex the rest of us are having.

 

 

Recent Encounters of the Religious Kind

3. Prophecy Fulfilled

DB&JC

Back in January I predicted that David Bowie’s demise would lead to hs apotheoisis. And so it comes to pass.

First there’s this, from the Guardian‘s Suzanne Moore:

The theory that it was in fact, David Bowie’s presence in the universe that was holding everything together is one I find hard to resist, given how awful everything has been of late…

Second is Paul Morley’s new Bowie biography, the cleverely titled The Age of Bowie: How David Bowie Made a World of Difference, with its abundance of publicity including Radio 4’s broadcast ‘book of the week’. It is probably worth a look if you’re at all interested in the Thin White Duke and his various incarnations.

Two aspects of the biography stand out: first, Morley’s admission that he’s had to invent some details of Bowie’s life because either there is a lack of information – about his pre-fame period, for example – or, there are too many contradictory reports of certain events (often from Bowie himself) – or, a biography is so much more interesting when ‘facts’ are reorganised, again as Mr Bowie himself was wont to do when it suited him.

Second, the tone is uncritical to the point of sychophancy. Morley’s evident respect and admiration for Bowie translate into an adulation that elevates the late star to a priestly, semi-divine status. Within the first few pages Bowie is described as someone who manipulates time (xii); has a voice that pierces straight to the heart (p2); possesses the wisdom of the ages (p8); is capable of rearranging others’ minds (p8); can recreate the cosmic order (p8); symbolises the future (p8); dramatically splits reality wide open and penetrates time itself (p9); hunts for kindred spirits ready to surrender to his ways (p11); is obsessed with the deeper truths of existence (p14) and is a kind of teacher (p15) who proclaimed, ‘look how amazing this is. I am never, ever going to die’ (p20). Bowie would surely have been amused by most of these claims.

Written only a matter of months, perhaps weeks, after the singer’s death, in a time when, after his initial success in the 1970s, his every word, note, movement, metamorphosis, transformation, declaration and pronouncement was seized upon, broadcast and preserved for posterity, it is remarkable how much of the biography has to be constructed. Remarkable too how much it reflects Morley’s own experience of Bowie, how he writes about his Bowie, or series of Bowies.

Imagine if he were writing this same biography 40 or more years from now, with no personal or direct experience of the Bowie phenomenon, when no-one who had first-hand experience of it was alive, or if they were, had to rely on shaky memories of events that had happened – or maybe not – in their youth. How much more would the author have had to invent, even if he had access to archive material, about the impact the subject had, the effect of his music, his presence, his vision(s), his theatricality, his changes, his highs, his lows, his philosophy, his influence, the contribution he made to popular music and to art, the difference he made to ordinary individuals’ lives…

Now: imagine there are no reliable archives; no recordings, no film, no contemporaneous newspaper reports. Imagine too the author is not a twenty-first century journalist and musician, but has, like all those around him, including his audience, little or no scientifc understanding of the world. Rather, he has a mind-set dominated by God, angels and devils, and is prone to superstition and the possibility people can and do rise from the dead. How much more readily would the half-forgotten charismatic of this ‘biography’ be elevated to god-like status. How much more miraculous the behaviour attributed to him. How much more a priest and saviour than any modern day icon.

And so the gospels came to be.

Recent Encounters of the Religious Kind

2. Maria and the Evil One

devil

Maria comes to the door again. She’s very personable but wasting away her life as a Jehovah’s Witness. She wonders if I’ve read the leaflet she left last time. I have, and have filled in the answers to its questions, including, ‘does the Bible have the answers to life’s big questions?’ Maria doesn’t seem very happy about my answer.

She insists on showing me a video on her iPad. It is slick and includes some clever CGI. She tells me afterwards that the ‘Evil One’ is in control of this world which is why it is in such a mess. I tell her that any mess is our own doing, we humans. She asks if I know the Bible; I say I do. She tells me that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only ones who interpret it correctly. It doesn’t, she says, tell us that believers will go to heaven when they die (she’s right about this; it doesn’t). It promises rather that Jesus will be coming back to set up God’s Kingdom on Earth (right again). Except, I remind her, it has him promise that he will return within the lifetime of those listening to him, the Kingdom scheduled to appear within his own generation (Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 34; Luke 21:27-28, 33-34). Maria concedes the point and then tries to say a generation is longer than we think. Maybe so, I say, but not 2,000 years.

Maria says she learnt something about this problem in a class recently. She appeals to her confederate for help, but he can’t remember what the elders said either. She decides now retreat is the better part of proselytising but promises to return once she has the answer.

But there is no answer; at least not one that sees Jesus’ meglomanic fantasies realised two millennia in his future.

I feel certain that, unlike Jesus, Maria will be back soon.

 

 

 

Recent Encounters of the Religious Kind

1. The kindly street preacher

preacher4

A bad-tempered looking man is standing next to a sign that announces that ‘Evolution is a Lie’ and ‘Jesus is Lord’. He – the grumpy man, not Jesus – is giving out some sort of glossy card. I do my best to sidestep him but he approaches and gives me one. It is entitled God Commands: 4 Things That God Commands, at least half of which is redundant. I notice that a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses have set up stall next to him (or perhaps he set up next to them).

‘So,’ I ask, ‘who’s right? You or them?’

They,’ he growls, ‘are of the devil.’

What a problem Christianity has. Islam too: so many damn different versions, all of which lay claim to being the one and only Truth. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity reports that there are now 45,000 different churches, denominations, sects and cults within Christianity, every one of them insisting that they – and they alone – represent God’s Truth, only they have got it right. There are as many Christian web-sites out there slagging off other Christians – Apostate! Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing! Doing the devil’s work! False teachers! – as there are sites ‘reaching out’ to the ‘lost’.

What’s more, every one of them knows they alone have the Truth because the Bible itself says so. They quote from it to prove how right they are and how wrong everyone else is. Which just goes to show what a damnable, scurrilous load of tosh the Bible really is. If God is not, as it says in 1 Corinthians 14.33, the author of confusion then he can’t have had anything to do with it.

Of course we know he didn’t; it’s human through and through, every mean-spirited, self-righteous verse of it.

Silence of Mind

ThinkerThe anonymous blogger over on Silence of Mind, (we’ll call him ‘SoM’) is arguing that Christianity is responsible for Western civilisation. He does so even though others have pointed out to him that the essential elements of a civilised society – democracy, the rule of law, moral codes, mathematics, scientific enquiry, medicine, education, art, literature and architecture – were all evident in human societies millennia before Christianity emerged.

SoM goes further, however, insisting that Western culture owes its existence solely to Christianity. He doesn’t demonstrate how this is so; he is content to assert that it is. He is, of course, confusing correlation with causation, failing to recognise that Christianity’s involvement in the development of Western society does not mean it was the cause.

Having reach this insupportable conclusion, SoM makes an even greater leap of faith by declaring that because the Christian faith created civilisation as we know it – we’ll ignore, as he does, the church’s suppression of so much that is integral to a civilised society during the ‘dark ages’ – then Jesus must therefore be God. Here’s how he puts it:

1. Jesus established the Christian religion.

2. Christianity became the religion that spawned Western Civilization.

3. Western Civilization is the only civilization in human history to have developed modern science.

4. Modern science proved the existence of God

5. Since only God can reveal God, Jesus of Nazareth must be God.

So wrong in every respect:

1. Jesus did not establish the Christian religion. Paul did.

2. Christianty did not spawn Western civilisation (see above).

3. Western civilisation is not the only one to have developed science, and where it has emerged has often been in spite of religion, not because of it.

4. Science certainly has not ‘proved’ the existence of God. It has no interest in the so-called ‘supernatural’ nor, indeed, in ‘proving’ anything. It is significant that none of the explanations science has arrived at require the involvement of a god.

5. ‘Since only God can reveal God, Jesus of Nazareth must be God’ is a non-sequitur; it doesn’t follow from anything that has gone before, as flawed as all of the previous assertions are. What SoM is claiming here is that because “1, 2, 3 and 4 are the case (though I have failed to demonstrate they are and in fact they are not), then A must equal B”.

In the end, SoM’s ‘argument’ is the same as saying that because there is a place called Greece, Zeus must really exist. Or because there are tea-shops, we can be certain Bertrand Russell’s teapot is orbiting the sun, forever just out of sight.

As proof of the divinity of Jesus, the argument from the scientific and cultural achievements of the West has to be one of the worst. All arguments (and SoM’s assertions can hardly lay claim to the term) that attempt to demonstrate how an abrasive, inconsistent zealot from a Palestinian backwater was secretly the God of the Universe are equally worthless while God himself remains unproven, as he always must.

This is why believing anything about him and about Jesus’ supposed divinity is called ‘faith’. If it were possible to prove the things held on faith, then faith wouldn’t be necessary. But it is, because believing the impossible and the unprovable can only be managed by by-passing and, yes, silencing the mind’s critical faculties.

Imagine… no religion

Jimenez2People say, like, you know, “Aren’t you sad that 50 superstitious nut-jobs died?” Here’s the problem with that. It’s like the equivalent of asking me, you know, what if you asked me, “Hey, are you sad that 50 Christians were killed today?” Um, no, I think that’s great! I think that helps society! You know, I think the world is a little safer tonight!…

The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die… because these people are predators! They are abusers! They take advantage of people! And look, as Rationalists, we need to take the stand that it is not our job to sit there and say, “Oh, this is a tragedy” or “Oh, this is something we mourn.” Look, everything tells us these are deluded, wicked people. These are evil people.

… People sometimes will say, “You guys are advocating violence!” We’re not advocating violence! We’re not saying we should go do this! But we’re just saying this: If we lived in a rational nation with a rational government, then the government should be taking them… I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out. If we lived under a truly secular government that loved rationality and loved children, and wanted to protect them, that’s what we’d do.

Hate speech? Certainly. But not mine. The original, which you can find here, is about the Orlando shootings a few weeks ago, and is directed at gay people. I’ve simply replaced gentle ‘Pastor’ Jimenez’s use of ‘sodomite’ and ‘paedophile’, which he disengenuously uses interchangeably, with ‘Christians’ and ‘religious nut-jobs’, and his use of ‘God’ and ‘righteous’ with ‘superstition’ and ‘rational’. Jimenez, emissary of a religion of love (Matthew 5.44 etc), would like to see his government exterminate LGBT people.

But, you know, maybe there’s also a case to be made for eliminating the superstitious and irrational from among us. Those of us who have adopted a rational basis for our lives would be happy to see the end of religion and superstition, the removal from the Earth of the religious and the superstitious (I use the terms interchangeably). After all, what do believers in mumbo-jumbo add to the world that is any way positive? What can those who are unable to engage with reality without the crutch of make-believe possibly have to give? On top of their general uselessness, they’re also dangerous and predatory.

Maybe there is a case to be made. But I’m not making it. Any philosophy, ideology or religion that preaches the extermination of other people is wrong, debased, corrupt (you’d think, wouldn’t you, that we’d have learnt that by now.) If you subscribe to such a view – be it from a Christian, Islamic or Jewish perspective – you are wrong. No-one, whatever magic books may say about them, merits death simply because those magic books say so (ratified, of course, by the dim-witted prejudices of those who subscribe to them). Rationality and a secular perspective, on the other hand, eschew hatred and are philosophically opposed to harming those who might not agree with them. Yes, even the religious.

In this way it is vastly superior to religion – your religion, whatever that happens to be.

It was all just a dream…

Stone2Perry Stone, self-styled prophet, evangelist and teacher is of the view that God provides dreams and visions to his followers. He does this, apparently, when he can’t think of a better way of communicating them. Perry recommends that those on the receiving end of God’s special messages should immediately wake up and quickly write down what their dream was about. If they don’t, they’ll forget it! Who knew we can’t always recall dreams once we wake up? Who knows how to wake up as soon as a dream is over? Perry has big drawings made of his own God-delivered dreams. Here’s one. See if you can guess what it was about:

Stone1

Yes, it was a warning about 9/11. The Lord gave it to Perry, in a dream, long before the 2001 attack.

You can’t see it? You think five tornadoes and the monolith from 2001: A Space Oddysey look nothing like 9/11? Shame on you! You need to take this more seriously. You’re thinking, aren’t you, that Perry’s dream, if he had it at all, was down to the cheese he’d eaten before going to bed. That and a deranged mind.

But you’d be wrong; Perry knows for certain his dream was from God and that his interpretation is right on the mark. And who are we to doubt it? Curious, though, that even though the Lord had warned him about the attack in advance, Perry neglected to tell anyone about it. I wonder why that was? God must have wondered too – why he’d entrusted such an important message to a dimwit who did nothing with it. (Then again, if the Lord is capable of inducing dreams why didn’t he speak directly to the terrorists to prevent them from doing what they did?)

Still, good ol’ Perry’s made up for lost time since and is now more than happy to tell the rubes everyone about his dreams. And so what if it makes him a few million dollars? Frenetic Perry has a significant following on TBN and on his own web-site, which is where you can buy his dream-world DVDs for as little as $45 a set.

Nut-jobs’ dreams and visions have been at the centre of religious belief since forever. Dreams are significant, or so it’d have us believe, in the Old Testament where there are at least two dozen ‘important’ ones, together with advice about their interpretation (Job 33.15-18, for example). They’re quite a presence in the Qur’an too.

In fact, dreams and their waking equivalent, visions, are ultimately what religion is made of. They’re certainly what Christianity is made of; Joseph, the Magi, Pilate’s wife, Peter and Paul all have deeply meaningful dreams while Peter, Paul, John and others have visions which, they persuade themselves, can only be the monolith from 2001 Jesus returned from the dead, and other fanastic nonsense. The authors of the New Testament attached such importance to converts’ dreamy/visionary experiences that they had them written back into the Jesus narrative itself. That way it sounded like Jesus knew when he was alive that later fanatics would think they could sense his presence (especially when they whipped themselves up together) and could experience him in dreams and visions. Still today there are those who convince themselves they have a ‘relationship’ with him and can see him in their dreams, near-death experiences and other hallucinations. Just ask Perry Stone. It’s all real!

Well, as real as things entirely in the mind can be.

Same as it ever was…

Paul2

(Edited for clarity 2nd Aug)