Tag Archives: death

Family Radio and the end of the world!

17 Jan

Last week I was driving home from work here in Columbia, SC and on the other side of the street was the most ridiculous bus. I tried to grab my camera to take a picture, but the light changed and it moved on. I did, however, remember the name and made a note. Luckily there are plenty of pictures online. The bus belonged to the group “Family Radio“, an apocalyptic Christian group eagerly counting down the days till all of humanity, including everyone you love, dies in bloody agony at the coming of their god.

Have you heard the awesome news?!?!?! The world is going to end!!!!1 These people are really fucked up. Though the bus is an improvement over their old one:

Free candy for children only!

Apparently they’ve decided the world is going to end on May 21, 2011, and even though people have been incorrectly deciding this for thousands of years. (But oh no, THIS time we’ve got it right. THIS time he’s coming back. We’re special, everyone else was wrong because of X,Y, & Z) It’s a good thing people like this don’t date much. Can you imagine how long they’d wait on the front porch if you stood them up for prom? Jesus has stood them up for over 2000 years and they still don’t get the hint that he’s just not that into them.

Look, this idiot even painted her brand new car with the date when she gleefully awaits the death of all humanity. You know what, I would gladly join their church and pray with them if they signed over all their money and property to me. Why wouldn’t they? The world’s going to end anyways! They’re going to be swept up with Jesus! What hesitation should they have to sign over all their worldly possessions to me? They ARE sure it’s going to be May 21, 2011, right? They wouldn’t happen to have some doubt and be keeping their things just in case, would they? They shouldn’t because according to the bible in Acts 5:1-11 the apostle Paul kills a couple for doing just that.

I really wonder what all these idiots are going to do on May 22, 2011. Can you imagine? It’s happened to thousands of people before throughout history. It’s going to be extremely awkward. The lady in the picture here is probably going to be huddled around her family and these other wingnuts, hands clasped in prayer, eyes squeezed tight, waiting for the clock to strike 12…tic toc tic toc. When it hits there will be silence. She will have her eyes squeezed shut for a few moments till she carefully opens one and looks around… “Maybe it’ll happen sometime today, not right at midnight?” And so she’ll spend the entire day paralyzed with anticipation, just like the rest of the sheeple. When it comes close to midnight of that day she’ll start sweating bullets. “It has to happen! Why is it taking so long! Why aren’t everyone I hate dead!?!?”

As midnight comes and passes she’ll lie there in bed, staring at the ceiling in shock. “Fuck….fuck fuck fuck!!! I have to go to work in the morning!” (The 21st is on a Monday) She’ll maybe get an hour or two of restless sleep, get up, make some coffee, grab her keys and stumble out to her c…..”Oh FUCK! Now EVERYBODY is going to know I’m an idiot!!! People are going to be pointing and laughing at me where ever I go!” (And you damn well deserve it!) How awkward and embarrassing is that going to be? She’s eventually going to have to take it to a body shop and have it all removed, or paint over the date with the new and revised date in case she’s in denial. This is all assuming they haven’t signed over all their possessions to their leader, which is a very real possibility; and I guarantee you if it doesn’t work out, he’ll be on the first plane to the Caribbean with all their money.

How would you feel if there was no god?

30 Dec

This is directed at theists who might stumble across this post.

One of the most common accusations leveled against atheists are that they’re angry, so angry. For many of us that’s true, we are angry. Yet in order to understand why we’re so angry, let me ask you something.

Lets pretend for a moment, a little thought experiment if you will. I promise it won’t hurt or do anything to your faith, it’s just an experiment.

Imagine that you died, it doesn’t matter how, only that you’re now dead, and the afterlife is not what you were promised. Instead of heaven or closeness to some deity, you are made aware of the fact that their is no god, there never was. You look down at the earth, all the people on it, all the things we do to ourselves and each other in the name of a god; a god you have just learned never existed.

How would you feel? How would you react to the magnitude of the consequences and implications?

Sure you would see some good things being done in the name of this mythical god, but what about all the suffering? Suffering that is needlessly prolonged by those claiming to act in the name of a god you just learned never existed.

How would you react to this revelation’s implications? Think of all the time spent in pointless prayer instead of action, all the money spent building monuments and structures to a nonexistent being. All the money that lines the pockets of those who claim to speak for this being. What about all the wars, genocides, book burnings, shootings, suicide bombings, the death in perpertrayed in the name of this non-existent being? What about all the people who are forced to marry those they don’t love because of religious prescriptions? What about the millions of people who have their genitals cut in keeping with religious commandments? What about the honor killings? What about all the people who were forced to live in a miserable marriage, perhaps where they were even beaten, because their faith frowned on divorces?

How would you feel?

What about your life? What if you spent a large amount of time, effort, and money investing in something you later found out to be a scam? What dreams could you have accomplished if those energies were directed elsewhere? What about those things you denied yourself that you could have enjoyed? What about foods or drinks you refused to try for ultimately pointless religious reasons? What opportunities to live did you turn down in preparation for death, only to find now that you’re dead, those preparations futile, those opportunities gone forever?

Hypothetically, as all these realizations hit you like a tsunami, how would you feel as you slowly fade to nothingness?

I’m willing to bet you would feel an intense anger, possibly betrayal.

Hold that feeling in your mind for a moment. Now imagine that you weren’t fading to nothingness, that you weren’t dead. Imagine you were still alive, yet with this knowledge, and now you had the chance to do something about it. How would you feel? What would you do?

If you answered that you’d be angry and outspoken in your efforts to make the world a better place and end suffering, then you now understand where a lot of “angry” atheists are coming from.

The higher the body count, the less we comprehend.

18 Nov

Tonight I’ve watched “John Rabe” about the Nanking massacre and “Hiroshima”, about the use of the first atomic bomb in war.  No surprise, I’ve been thinking about mass death. I heard there was a study done on how people perceive large numbers of needy, but I can’t for the life of me find it. The study concluded that people’s empathy for a person in need goes down the more people there are. This is easy to see in the media. A lone white college girl is kidnapped on spring break in the Caribbean and everyone is captivated; 400,000 people die in Darfur genocide and people turn to the sports page.

I think psychologically we are unable to grasp horror in large numbers. If you see someone murdered in front of your eyes, that would be traumatic; yet we don’t multiply this feeling by the number of people killed. The comedian Eddie Izzard touches on this:

He’s being comical there, but I really believe he is onto something. I think our brains really do shut down at some point. We simply cannot comprehend large numbers of dead. Even our language fails to convey the horror of what we are describing. At that point those adjectives become numb, ineffective.

Horror. Pure horror. Does that word mean anything? Does it evoke in you the feeling it names? Does it have any impact at all when talking about such levels of mass death? I don’t think language is able to convey the soul destroying evil it attempts to describe. I think you can only see it, and unless you witness it first hand you’ll never fully feel the impact.

A doctor who was on the outskirts of Hiroshima and survived described a sight that has haunted him his entire life: The bomb had just exploded, and he was quickly making his way through the woods to town when about 3 kilometers out he came across this creature. The creature was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Pure black from top to bottom, with grotesque limbs, with something that appeared to be a face, but there were no eyes or mouth, staggering through the woods blindly. When he carefully approached this…thing… he realized that it was not a strange demon, but a man. The fireball had burned his flesh off his body and fused the limbs together. It was chard skeleton walking towards him. The man, what was left of him, died right there in front of the doctor. When the doctor  got to town he saw thousands of these chard husks.

You can listen to what these people saw, and see pictures of the burned bodies, but you can’t fully grasp what it feels like. It is literally incomprehensible.

I’ve heard stories about the allied soldiers who first discovered that Nazi death camps. Many of them were haunted for the rest of their lives. Seeing something like that has to tear the humanity from you. I had a friend who’s grandfather liberated a camp, he said that he could never forget the smell, that it gave him nightmares every night.

Sure you can go to museums, see the pictures, watch films, even visit the camps (I’ve personally been to Dachau), but you can never fully taste the horror.

I remember standing there among the row of prisoner barracks in Dachau. It was a quiet, peaceful place. It was no different from a park, except that everyone was very quiet. Today Hiroshima is a bustling city of one million. The streets are full of people happily going about their day. If you didn’t know your history, you would have no idea that just a few decades ago these sites were places of mass death and suffering. Even with knowing your history it is hard for the gravity of the atrocities to sink in.

The absurd scares me

12 Nov

Absurd: having no rational or orderly relationship to human life :meaningless <an absurd universe>; also : lacking order or value <an absurd existence>

I don’t feel that definition of absurdity really covers what unnerves me. I guess I would add “levity in a grave situation.” I’m not talking about dark humor, I’m referring to something more sinister, something Marquis de Sade would come up with. The feeling I am trying to convey is a bit hard for me to articulate, so perhaps if I point to some examples:

In the movie “The Pianist” there is a scene where the Jews in the ghetto are waiting for their turn to cross the street and the Nazi guards force them to dance at gun point. The song is very light hearted and happy, and here are these starving people condemned to death being forced to dance for the amusement of their killers.

In the BBC’s Masterpiece theatre production of “Casanova” there is a scene where Casanova comes across a love (I think it might be Henriette, but I’m not sure) who is holding a ball in a town that is about to be destroyed by a volcano. Casanova want’s to get out of there with the woman, but she just laughs giddily and says “We’re all going to die!” with a wide grin on her face. Casanova’s son Giac then proceeds to have sex with a woman he knows is his sister, all while ash is raining down onto the town.

I find this type of stuff most often in war films and holocaust films. People know they are doomed and so they go insane, creating a situation that is the exact opposite of what they are going through; like having a celebration with decorations right before you’re about to die.

Another scene that sticks out in my mind is the bridge scene from Apocalypse Now. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) comes to Do Lung Bridge to find what can best be described as a chaotic hell. It is dark, people are dying, things are exploding and burning all around them, nobody is in charge, and yet there are party lights strung around the place. People are acting as if everything is normal, listening to the radio, ignoring the fact that death and destruction surround them. (This was my first brush with the absurd when I was young and it stuck with me)

Absurdity also shows up in some of the video games I play. There is a memorable sadist scene in bioshock where a man is forced to play the piano in a costume and when he fails to meet his torturor’s expectations he is executed:

Currently I’m playing Fallout 3: New Vegas which is set in a futuristic 1950’s post-nuclear apocalypse America. There are plenty of absurdities around the game like people wearing funny costumes while murdering each other. The entire world has fallen apart and some people try to carry on the whole 1950’s middle suburbia mentality.

There is a particular song that I think ephitimizes this 1950’s conservative  white suburbia housewife feel:

So what scares me about this absurdity? Well, for me it has some what of an addicting power. It’s not the same addicting power of knowingly wanting more of something, like a drug, it’s more subtle than that. I feel sometimes that I need to fight giving into absurdity. I feel like if I come in contact with too much I’ll loose my sanity and start seeing the absurd everywhere. I’ll be infected and sucked down into the absurdity well that leads to surrealism, nihilism and ultimately suicide.

Atheism and Death

30 Mar

Recently a friend of mine’s grandfather died. She is religious and made some comment on facebook about how the whole thing got her thinking about heaven: Is there one? Is my grandfather there now?

Well I know tact and not wanting to be a jerk in her time of grieving, I merely said that my thoughts were with her. But this got me thinking about Atheism and death. How do you treat people who are grieving because of a death?

To answer her question “is there a heaven?”, no. There is no heaven, there is no hell. This is going to sound very painful and very blunt, but there is nothing after this life, the person is gone.

Yeah, I know, it hurts and it’s ugly. But here is what people don’t want to accept: what we want to be true, and what IS true are not the same thing.

The fact that when we die we are gone forever is such a painful and scary thought that people turn to religion for comfort. Even if it is a lie, believing in that lie is easier than facing the facts.

This fact amplifies everything. What I mean by that is it amplifies the grievousness of loss at the same time it amplifies the preciousness of life. A person and their life is all the more beautiful because they are only here once. Treasure it. At the same time, murder and war all the more heinous because they destroy something so immensely precious. The cold unyielding fact is that there is no justice beyond this life. As much as we will there to be, no amount of wishing will make it so. For this very reason it is so important to fight for justice here and now, that’s the only time you might get it. (But I digress)

So how do you comfort someone without turning to comforting delusions? Well, the main thing you can do is to help them cherish the memories they have. Grief is a cycle, and the best thing you can do is be there for someone.

Atheists have killed millions!

23 Mar

One of the most often used attacks against Atheists is to try and associate them with the French revolution and Communism. The “argument” goes something like this:

“The French revolution and Communism were run by Atheists and they killed millions of people! Therefore Atheism is evil and morally bankrupt.”

This claim is ridiculous on so many levels, yet this does not stop people from hurling it at Atheists. So, where many leaders of the French revolution Atheists? Yes. Were some leaders of communism Atheist? Yes. So that’s checkmate for the Atheists right? No.

There is a very important point that people repeatable fail to recognize: Killing is one thing, killing in the name of something else is another.

This is very important because although the French revolution and communism killed a lot of people, they did not do it in the name of Atheism. Religious fanatics on the other hand have been killing people for thousands of years in the name of their religion, because of their religion.

This is not to say that the killing done by the French revolution and communism should be dismissed, but that you’re comparing apples to oranges. People who killed other people and happened to be Atheists vs people who killed other people because of their religion. In fact, this is an extremely slippery slope for religious people to go down. If they want to claim that Atheism is bad because some people who happened to be Atheists committed crimes, then they are completely damning themselves for this simple reason:

There has always been more religious people than Atheists. Because of Atheism’s smaller population, inevitably more people have been killed throughout history by those who happened to be religious. This includes all murders done by religious people for religious AND non-religious motives. Comparatively murders committed by Atheists are fewer in number, and murders done by Atheists for religious reasons fewer still.

“Well, ok, so there are more theists than Atheists, I bet proportionally the numbers are still equal.” Wrong. When you average out the data to see the ratio of murders done by Atheists per population of Atheists to murders done by theists per population of theists, Atheists commit fewer crimes than theists.

Abortion: No. Killing my child with prayer:Sure!

12 Jan

After reading a nice post by Sisyphus Fragment on whether parents who kill their children by withholding medical treatment for religious reasons should go to jail, I got thinking about the implications with regards to abortion.

If it is ok for parents to cite religious belief in mistreating their children, even when it leads to death, why is it wrong to have an abortion? (I’m assuming the people killing their children by withholding medical treatment are conservative and therefore against a woman’s right to be the master of her own body)

The way I see it, abortion is the lesser of two evils when compared to the religious method of killing one’s child. In an early abortion, the fetus is unable to feel pain until 8 weeks and is not self aware.

On the other hand, an already born child can feel pain fully, and is self-aware. They may not understand what is happening, or why mom and dad won’t call 9-1-1, but they can feel their body shutting down, and they can feel the pain.

So it’s not ok to abort an unwanted child (who will most likely grow up being abused and mistreated for being an unwanted economic burden on his/her parents, and then lead a life of crime) but it is ok to kill an already born child who is fully aware that you are killing them, all because you say an invisible man in the sky wants you to not give them life saving medicine?