Wednesday 14 November 2012

It was meant to be too

If the last "Meant to be" blog post was meant to be, then the following were also meant to be....

On Thursday I was waiting for a train to work at my local station, the train was delayed due to issues and it being sunny I was sitting on the opposite side of the platform, a guy in his 60's sat down next to me and commented on the trains being delayed. I looked up from my book and responded, they always are. He saw I was reading and said, is it a good book, I said yeah. He asked what it was called, I turned it over so he could see the cover "God is not great - Chistopher Hitchens". "oh", he replied. I was expecting a backlash, but he continued "I have got that other one, by Dawkins, you know the one that made all the press", I responded "The God delusion?" he said yeah. "Is that one good?" he asked, pointing to the book. "yeah", I responded, "very articulate, more of an argument than just the facts". We then went back to talking about his plans on where he had to get to, I responded with some suggestions, I was a little taken-a-back as from all outward appearences he seemed like he would be a believer, 'C'est la vie', say the old folks, 'it goes to show you never can tell.

So on Friday in the evening I was heading into the city with a colleague, I was on my way to the Sydney Atheists talk on Cosmology to celebrate Carl Sagan day. The colleague on his way to dinner with friends, had asked me where I was going and I told him, we began to talk about the sillyness in religion, the train was rather crowded and the man sitting across from us looked a little offended so I changed subjects. The colleague decided to get off at an earlier station and have a walk as he was to early to meet his friends. The guy across from me straight away started conversation asking where I got my shirt from;

I responded that I had designed it myself and printed it at
We then got to talking about cosmology, and he asked if I had seen a debate between Hitchens and D'Souza (at least I heard D'Souza, so maybe it was one of the others), I said yes. I then went on to tell him of my experience of meeting Krauss in Melbourne at the GAC, and how nice he was. I mentioned where I was going (Sydney Atheists monthly talk to Celebrate Carl Sagan day on odly enough cosmology) and told him of the talks, I told him to look us up.

These two incidents must have been meant to be, destined by the FSM.

On the above shirt, you are free to reprint it from my prospective (the image I was led to believe is creative commons here, if you are the owner and don't want it used let me know), if you really want to send some money my way you can send it to Sydney Atheists on the right or to Doctors without borders (Medicine Sans Frontiers) or the Responsible Charity.
I will put up some of my other shirts later just look for the posts tagged shirts.

Monday 13 August 2012

The Christian occult, yes such a thing exists.

So this all started when I was about 5. I was obsessed with Monkey magic, and magic of any kind. I was convinced it was real, and not the James Randi as I termed it Parlour kind of magic.
I began at first looking into the power of words, I literally made huge lists of combinations of non-existent but good sounding words and systematically went through them. This really didn't work. So I figured there must be more to it, we had a huge collection of books at home and a few were on gardening, specifically growing your own Herbs and what each of them was good for... ah hah I thought this was where the power lay. I started collating all of this information, hoarding it in notebooks that I had hand made. I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I thought it would make me powerful. One day when I was about 9 my Mum saw me feverishly transcribing something from one of our annuls of gardening when she asked me what I was doing I, excitedly said I had found out about this wonder herb that could cure all sorts of malaise... Comfrey I said triumphantly. Her face went white. She said that causes cancer, she must have seen the pain I was in, I had just transcribed about 20 notebook pages from various sources about this plant and even with my messy writing managed to make a decent drawing of a leaf should I happen to find one somewhere. I raced through the book crossing out every page and in any space on those pages I could find writing in red ink "COMFREY CAUSES CANCER"

My Occult leanings settled for a little while. Till I got into high school, a Catholic high school no-less that had a section on the occult. I began to relate to them, especially the stories about Celtic Wizards and Bards. I began compiling again into my little hand made notebooks. I learned of a book that supposedly had all the answers, it went into the my notebook underlined several times. The three books of Occult Philosophy by Cornelius Agrippa.

A few years later while still in high school, a friend introduced me to the early Internet at his sisters uni, it was phenomenal. Eventually I started looking at the occult on there, and I found different types of occult, including Allister Crowley, I got one of his books from the University library and began reading... But I was still a devout Catholic at this time, I straight away rejected his sex magic as disgusting. I put the book back and decided if I was going to practise magick (OFSM I used to type it with a K too....) it was only going to be in glory of God in an attempt to commune with his Angels and use the power he granted.
 I found at this time a website on the Internet that sold books, it was 1994 the year Amazon started, but Amazon didn't have the Occult Philosophy that I so desperately wanted. I looked on Usenets alt.magick (yep with a K as well) and I asked if anyone knew where I could get it. A few days later someone had replied, pentagram books in the UK should have it they said, I tracked them down, (now defunct), and found that the three books of Occult Philosophy by Cornelius Agrippa had been re-translated from German to English and republished as a single very expensive book. I got an advance on my pocket money and ordered it, thinking ultimate power would be at my letter box any day now.
The book arrived, finally. I devoured it, reading it cover to cover in the space of a couple months. The main thing that slowed me was the 15th century English, I kept pronouncing "divers" in my head as divers (as in the aquatic variety) not diverse as was meant. I took notes, though upon finishing I realised my notes where very thin on the ground in relation to spells. However this book pointed me in the direction I had already entertained while reading the bible, but more on that later.

First a little on the tome that is the three books of occult philosophy, it is an enormous tome, over 800 pages including the appendix, with things repeated and chapters being sometimes only a few paragraphs.Originally printed together as all three books in 1533, written by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, a Theologian, astrologer, and occultist. Who managed to be spared the inquisitions of the time due to his connections in the church and aristocracy.
One of my favourite sections was on the spell called the dead mans knock (pg120) , this is actually the notes that the author has added after a chapter on bindings of body and spirit. The spell goes that you remove the hand of a criminal that had been hung at the gallows then bind it into a fist with the rope used to execute the criminal, press the hand to draw out the fat and make a candle out of the fat, mount the candle between hand the fingers of the fist and when you wish to rob someone if you light the candle you will gain easy access and be unseen.... of course this is gruesome and has so many outs like all magic, "oh well your criminal must have been an innocent man", the people you are trying to rob had a counter charm engaged. One as easy as pouring boiling water over the threshold was said to do it.
Interestingly I found this same spell outlined in other books, it became one of my stories to freak people out. Though I knew in my stomach I would never do it.
I read further into pyromancy (pg178) and with my teenage obsession with fire was determined I wanted to learn as much as I could about that.
I also read of divination, and how Agrippa had performed it with a Scyring stone, or a shallow bowl of water. I attempted it several times with Glass, after several hours one time convincing myself in the reflection that I was seeing something. Of course if you stare at glass for hours at a time you will swear you saw something eventually.
Agrippa like other magicians of the time, believed in the power of words, and true names and of a persons property. He recounts a story of a man bewitched after a witch stole some of his hair, wrapping it around some cheese and burning it on an fire under the stars. As the cheese and hair burns the witch would chant the persons full true name, having learnt it or divined it in some fashion. Then the person would be bewitched, not stopping for rest till he was by the witches side. Supposedly if the same type of cheese was fed to the man he could be transformed into a docile and strong bullock to pull the heaviest of carts, and the bull would change back upon eating some more of this cheese to do with what the witch would. I as a pubescent teen had thoughts of getting girls hair I liked and performing this witchcraft.... of course I didn't as it was not of God....

I also read a lot in this book of Angels and how to beg them to do your bidding or relay your message to God. This was noted down and I will talk more on it later.
In the same book I read of rings and the power that some of them held. I read with interest as it relayed the story of King Solomon of the bible, slightly edited to add more magic, but of how Solomon was granted a ring by God, a ring that gave him the power to commune with animals and angels alike. From this his famous wisdom sprang, supposedly communing with angels who taught him how to summon them. I had my next quest.

The book was called "The Key of Solomon the King", I was determined to find it, I eventually found another seller of fine books in Canada, that supposedly had this ancient tome. Boy was I disappointed when a rather new looking book turned up. But it at least looked the part. It took me deeper into the ritual of magic and summoning. I started to try my hand at it, never getting all that much real success, except for the occasion forced delusion, after talking to a group in a forum where one person actually told me to imagine the beings I am trying to summon and they will eventually be there just as you imagined them....
The book of Solomon even had a list of tools that where needed, something that I had read earlier in the books my high school held. I got a ceremonial knife, sword, cup and candles. But still my rituals where a bit of a failure. Of course Solomon himself didn't write this book, I later found out that this book probably dated to the 14th Century.
Taken from wikipedia entry on the book "As in most medieval grimoires, all magical operations are ostensibly performed through the power of God, to whom all the invocations are addressed. Before any of these operations (termed "experiments") are performed, the operator must confess his sins and purge himself of evil, invoking the protection of God."

I read around this time of the suggested method of documenting this, it was described by the author as a science that is yet to unknown, and everything must be documented so that successes can be repeated. This appealed incredibly to my scientific side. Unfortunately these journals have been discarded but there was never any success measured, beyond self induced hallucination or boredom.

It was around this time that I began talking to other people on alt.magick, I was learning the way a ritual was supposed to progress. Then one Sunday in church I noticed the priest performing the standard closing of the circle at the start of the mass, then the adoration to the four corners of the earth, then the various calling down of blessings and other smaller rituals then finally the opening of the circle to end the mass. This didn't sway my faith any, it in fact enforced it. Making me think what I was doing was bound to work... as much as a mass does.

On alt.magick I met another Australian who told me of Adyar bookshop in Sydney, at the time they where on Clarence street, my best friend thought all of this was pretty stupid, so I travelled to the City on my own to investigate. The shop was enormous, I was a little uncomfortable with the new-agey crap but I browsed it for hours, eventually leaving with two books and some incense sticks. Yep I was suckered right in.I had bought some books on angelic magic, I thought surely this must be it. The answer to cracking it.

These titles all deal with a form of Magick, called Enochian magic. Enochian was supposedly handed down to John Dee a mathematician in the court of Queen Elizabeth, via Edward Kelley a charlatan, gambler, con-artist and famous Scryer. Someone who could look into a crystal ball or similar to channel spirits. He managed to channel Angels. This was after John Dee had been attempting to channel them for years.
The angels of course taught Dee and Kelly their language, supposedly a sung language that the angels in heaven supposedly spoke. This language could be used to commune more efficiently with the angels for them to plead your case to God. This work made Dee and Kelly rich and famous for a while. But things started to sour, especially after according to Dee's journal the angels told Kelly that Dee and Kelly should swap wives... Even though according to Dee's journal he was shocked at this, he eventually complied. Some people have speculated Kelly made this up (as opposed to the rest of it?) to break ties with Dee and strike out on his own as his talent for Scrying were coming into high demand in royal courts.

The books focus on the practises and pronunciation of the supposed holy words. I never got very far through it though as I was starting to come to my senses at this stage, and real life fortunately started intruding with work and relationships. But not before I had bought the very fake Necronomicon, of HP Lovecraft fame (I didn't know of Lovecraft at the time), and spending several hours in Theosophical society meetings.

Friday 13 July 2012

Catholicism, the archdiocese of crazy.

Ok so religion is a bit loopy, we all know that. If it is not a god who's chariot is the insanely hot Sun; Zeus, or only being allowed to enter the paradise afterlife if your heart weighed the same as a feather; the Egyptian mythos, then it is insane traditions and rituals, and division over what you eat and how you eat it. This talk is about Catholicism and some of its absurdities. I was raised in a Catholic household, and I bought all the explanations for the outlandish claims and my disarming childish questions hook, line and sinker. Obviously eventually I got better, but it took time, this talk will hopefully add some humour to those who lost large chunks of their life to the same delusion as I did, and to those who weren't raised Catholic they can have a chuckle and scratch their heads in disbelief too.

I should pause here for a sec, as I will say Catholic throughout this talk, I of course mean Roman Catholic. I know now that lots of other churches sign on to the Nicene creed and call themselves "One holy Catholic and apostolic church" and the term "Roman Catholic" is the way they are differentiated, but Catholics are very insular and think as all religions do that they have the monopoly on truth, so they are the only Catholics, the rest mere protestants. To talk like a real Catholic you also need to say protestant as though you have a bit of phlegm in your mouth to show your disdain, and also emphasise PROTEST in the word, to make them seem like they are just whinging children who didn't get their own way in how the church was run. Of course not getting their own way was the reason they split off not the sale of indulgences or anything like that. Now on to the body of the talk.

First here is some humour to set the mood of this talk;

Transubstantiation, quite a mouthful really but the doctrinal belief that all Catholics, if they wish to call themselves that have to adhere to. The belief that during the ceremony of the Catholic mass the wafer and the wine becomes the literal body and blood of Christ, without changing appearance. As Rodney Dangerfield once said after he tried the Blood of Christ at a Catholic church "wow this guy must have been loaded 24-7".
They take that it has become the literal body and blood of Christ due to the words Jesus supposedly said at the last supper; "Take this and eat, it is my body, it has been given up to you", and Paul's 1st letter the Corinthians, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?"10:16.
But they have had to make some caveats to this belief. Introduction of the sin of Host desecration, and the investigation of Jews mainly for this as hey they might be trying to crucify and torture Christ again. Question is how small does the whip and crown of thorns have have to be to torture a small wafer, and how do you crucify a cracker, with matchsticks?

This goes on to the next abhorrent and crazy fact about Catholicism. They tortured ohh so many during the inquisition, under the guise to discover heretics, witches, consorts with the devil and the aforementioned host desecrater's. The real reason of course for this was to gain money, power and land, and the good old fear of the unknown.
One of the interesting and disgusting stories, was of a poor Jewish born but converted woman who owned a fair amount of land, after several Saturday's of her neighbours noticing that she had no smoke coming from her chimney and thus no fire they dobbed her into the church. The church knew this woman had a lot of land and if she was a heretic it was theirs, they unleashed Tomas de Torquemada a Dominican Friar who began the inquisition as he was the Churches head inquisitor in Spain at the time. He used a technique he himself had devised, he called it the "water cure" we now know it by its other name water boarding. Torquemada used this technique on his most hated of heretics the Jew who had converted to Catholicism only publicly to save from being killed, he would tie these people to a ladder then tip them down so their head was below their body, plug up their nose and force open their mouth, placing a cloth over there mouth he would pour water onto their face. The church and Torquemada had strict rules, a physician had to be present to ensure the accused was of right mind during their confession and that the inquisitor didn't over torture causing death. Torquemada's rule was no more than 8 jugs of water to be used per session as not drown the accused. So now you know, that the church has also among other things given us water boarding and Torquemada is responsible for writings that possibly inspired Hitler with its vigorous anti-Semitism.

Little known fact, Catholic Priests are allowed to be married, and have been before. At present this is due to a loophole. The loophole goes like this; if you are a Priest in another Christian denomination, usually Church Of England aka Anglican here in Australia and Episcopalian in the USA, and you Marry someone, you decide to convert the, Catholic church will allow you to become a Catholic Priest and remain married, removing the bit about abstinence much to the either happiness or chagrin of your partner. I wonder if you found an Anglican church that allowed Gay marriage, took orders to be a Pastor, married to your same sex yet partner then converted if the loophole would still apply, this would be the long con but it would be almost worth it.

On Catholic Priests previously allowing marriage, not until the First Council of the Lateran of 1123 did they make it canon law that a Priest or other person that had taken holy orders could not marry or have a concubine, funnily enough the same Council where they banned incestuous marriages... so it took them 1000 years to work out that incest was bad and seemingly lumped it in the same boat as a married priest.
Of course Pope Siricius who left his wife and children to become pope issued a decree in 385 that priests should stop living with their wives... A lot of popes even managed to have on record children that then became popes themselves.
The Catholic church also possibly allowed gay marriage, not to mention gay Popes in the list previous. The church only denounced Gays in 314 in the 16th Canon of the Council of Ancyra and prior to that and after they had Adelphopoiesis, the rite of brotherhood, similar to a marriage rite but between two men. This rite, now defunct has been argued by the late John Boswell to be a rite of marriage between a homosexual couple.

Of course now the Catholic church says that Homosexual marriage is a threat to peace, just like I am sure interracial marriage was described as unnatural and a threat to nations at one stage. The Catholics have stated that they are not just about embracing fashionable cultural standpoints. I don't think this is just fashionable, there is some popularity that is gleaned from supporting gay marriage, but I would like to think that, that is because it is right. Just because something is fashionable doesn't make it incorrect.
The Pope even said that everyone is born with an identity, which I agree with and there is nothing they can do to change that. Just like Gay/Bi/Straight priests who attempt to suppress this identity, and end up raping little children, other clergy or the laity.

The ineffable Christopher Hitchens talking homosexuality and the church;

Onto Papal infallibility. This is supposedly passed down by the first head of the church, the disciple Peter. It is like a super power the Pope has, but of course with every power comes limitations. The Pope has to activate his super power, and can't use it when dealing with anything other than matters of faith and spirit, and it has to be when he is addressing the entire church. But it basically means he can't be wrong... but only in matters of the unproven and impossible to disprove spirit.
The pope has since tweeted, most of them fairly vacuous, some almost humourous though you would laugh at him not with him. What was more interesting was looking at the hashtag that started (#askpontifex) prior to his tweet, most of it was calling the Catholic church and the pope out on their failings, or making fun of the whole institution.

Here is an interesting one, the Vatican is not that large in area, how many rooms do you think the Papal palace has? 100, 200, 1000? If you said any of them you are wrong, ok we don't know how many rooms exactly, but it has 12,000 windows, yep someone counted, over 1000 halls and possibly anywhere up to 11,000 rooms. Not a bad little place really.
Did I mention that Pope Benedict has rooms filled with Gold treasure, interestingly to quote one of the previous popes; "this morning, I flushed my toilet with a solid gold lever edged with diamonds and at this very moment, bishops and cardinals are using a bathroom on the second floor of the papal palace which trappings, I am told, would draw more than fifty million dollars at auction . . . Believe me, one day, we who live in opulence, while so many are dying because they have nothing, will have to answer to Jesus as to why we have not carried out His instruction, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ We, the clergy of the Church together with our congregations, who substitute gold and pomp and ceremony in place of Christ’s instruction, who judge our masquerade of singing His praises to be more precious than human life, will have the most to explain.” -Pope John Paul the 1st.
But this is not how Ratzinger does it, he has gold cloth hats and robes, gold chairs and a newly refurbished million dollar pope mobile as well as the need for extra leg room;

References: Taken down unfortunately.

Father Bob, who most Australians will know is surprisingly a Catholic priest from Melbourne's got in trouble back in 2009 for get this, spending too much of the churches money and only keeping it afloat by selling off $3million in church assets, the money outgoing was being funnelled into the poor... so basically a catholic priest who is a top bloke and makes me almost wish I could believe the tripe almost got fired for doing one of the things Jesus supposedly said. Did I mention he reakons there should be a separation of church and state and that the Catholic church should be ashamed of hiding child molesting Priests and that these Priest should come out publicly and tell the world what they have done to seek forgiveness.
Oh and he is a bit of a larrikin;

Yep the Church has exorcists, lots of them. Technically speaking they are supposed to have one for every diocese, including the head exorcist for the Vatican. You kind of wonder if they have Fairy whisperers and dragon wranglers as well. The theory goes that only Catholics get possessed, and when it isn't some mental illness it is a demon, this says about God's omnipotence leaves something to be desired. Some like the one from the Vatican said he would do a hundred exorcisms a year, and made extraordinary claims such as displays of super-human strength and telekinesis, yet he has no other evidence other than his appeal to authority. These demons must hate science more than they hate priests cause one of these possessed people has never been studied to see how they achieve these results, and I can bet you the US military would literally kill to get their hands on superhuman strength and telekinesis. This makes me think of that Richard Pryor quote:

A little serious section here;

Number killed during the papacy; So in 1400 years, just through inquisitions and witch hunts alone and estimated 50 million people have been killed (about 48,000 per year)
Not to mention genocide of the South American indians, conservatively estimated at 15million, and between 7 and 12million during the thirty years’ war.
Here is something the catholic church can be proud of, during WWII, in Germany about 30% of the population was Catholic, almost 70% Lutheran. Have a guess how many objected to the Nazi's policies openly from the Catholics, 0 Clergy and 7 laity, 7. If this isn't and indictment on the Catholic church I don't know what is.  

Pope is a liar and tries to re-write history;
The Vatican helped Jews during WW2;
The Vatican turned all the church's birth registers over to the Nazis so they could filter people of Jewish origin out of the population.
The Vatican never once criticised events in the concentration camps, even when they became publicly known in 1942.
After the war, the Vatican issued passports and travel tickets to high-ranking Nazis to aid their escape to South America, among other places. They received a letter of thanks and praise from Eichmann, who was so grateful that he converted to Catholicism.
Not one of the Nazis who had cast all of Europe into an extensive bloody war and annihilated millions of innocent people was ever excommunicated. Hitler was and remained to his death a Catholic in good standing.
The current Pope, Benedict, plans to sanctify the wartime Pope, Pius XII, who maintained such chummy relations to the Third Reich at the time.
Lots of illuminating supporting material here:

Condoms cause aids;
In March 2009, on the Popes flight to Cameroon (where 540,000 people have HIV), Pope Benedict XVI explained that Aids is a tragedy "that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems"
Christopher Hitchens in his book "God is not Great" mentioned one Cardinal Alfonso Lopez De Trukillo, stated in 2009 that condoms have tiny holes in them that let the AIDS virus through, but somehow don't let the sperm through. Also he fails to show basic knowledge that AIDS is not caught, but caused by an immune system beset by HIV.
The Pope has thankfully since changed this decision, he mustn't have being talking with infallibility previously. Now the Pope says that condoms can be used as long as it is only to stem the spread of HIV, oddly current research shows that 82% of Catholics think birth control is acceptable and I would say a fair percentage of that use birth control, so they are either all hypocrites or there is some medical reason all of them need to use birth control. As medical reasons have been allowed by the church.

Our ex-Vatican exorcist is at it exposing happenings again, this time saying a very famous missing girl in Italy was the result of regular kidnappings by the Vatican police and subsequent sex parties. Once the Vatican police where done with the girl they disposed of her:

Child sex scandal has been going on for a long time in the church. This video explains its history better than I can.
A good overview of Catholic Child Sex abuse by the ABC's Hungry Beast;
The Pope's own advisor on the problem of paedophilia even got arrested for guess what, paedophilia,8599,2072613,00.html?xid=rss-world.
In Australia we even have a problem as well with every month new information about a priest or clergy going up on
There was a special on 4 corners about the Ballarat sexual abuse issues, dozens of boys abused by only a couple of priests. Many, many suicides have happened and countless Australian lives destroyed by these monsters. The argument from the church I have heard before and again when a North Sydney priest copied it at the talk with Peter Fitzsimons a few weeks ago, that equal percentages of Laity (non-priests) as Priests are child-molesters, and my response to that horrible argument is the same now as then; the difference is the non-priests don't get moved around and their victims silenced. The non-religious child molester usually goes to gaol.
Even if the priests were going to gaol, why doesn't their God assist his servants to uphold their charge with children and their vow of celibacy?
Belgium is an interesting case as it currently seems like every single church there has had a serious allegation made against it, or has already gone to court.
In the USA they do things with a bit less class and more money, a Cardinal recently it was discovered paid off Priests that had raped and molested children, anywhere up to half a million dollars for them to just disappear;

Louis CK investigates the Catholic church;

Now onto some lighter stuff.

Rupert Murdoch, while not a Catholic but married to one. He also does consider himself a not very intense Christian. Now this not very intense Anglican goes to church occasionally, most of the time with his wife to a Catholic church. So when LA's diocese education fund was a bit light, they got some cash of Rupert, then when their cathedral was being rebuilt, he dropped $10million to assist in the rebuild.
For all of this he got the order of St Gregory, basically a Knighthood, from the Pope, then there was talk of them stripping it from him, this after they haven't defrocked a single child molesting priest, excommunicated Hitler or almost any Nazi.
Ah well he probably gave the money over to the LA church as that would easily be what he would make in a year off of "Zondervan", a company he owns that makes bibles and which has the exclusive publishing rights with NIV (New international version), one of the 7 Catholic Bibles .

As a little aside, how many inerrant works of the omnipotent creator do they need? They have 7 from my count, at the moment; Jerusalem Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible, the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New Revised Standard Version (NSRV), the New American Bible (NAB), the aforementioned NIV, The Good News Bible (there is a catholic edition). You think God could have got the message right the first time for everyone on the planet to understand.

Galileo Was Wrong! Yep there is a group of conservative Catholics that go that extra step from just being creationists, even the infamous creationist Ken Ham said the Bible is silent on geocentrism.
“There’s a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated,” Ham said. “The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system.”
This is an interesting standpoint for them as the Pope and by extension the Catholic church accepts the Big Bang and evolution, although the current Pope did allude to evolution being atheistic and not to cling to it with religious fervour... whatever that means.

So that was an example of a division within Catholicism but it is not, I found out the only one. Not to be outdone by those dirty protestants and their ~30,000 denominations, There are heaps of catholic divisions as well, if it is not holy orders like, Dominicans, Franciscans, Salesians (Father foxes order), or Jesuits it is one of almost 40 other orders, then it is all out throwbacks who think the common person shouldn't understand the word of the supposed creator and still say the mass in Latin, still with their back to the people.

So Lent is a pretty silly tradition. It all starts with an ashen cross on your forehead and ends with kissing the feet of some s&m statue. I remember how much I both enjoyed and hated the Pancakes we would have on Shrove aka Pancake Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday as it was a sign of the end. No softdrink, no movies, no chocolate, no lollies, no cakes or sweets. Then easter would finally roll around after what seemed like an eternity of this and what would I get subpar chocolate or worse carob.
If it is not admonishing women for getting an abortion (40 days of life), it is reclassifying Beavers, as fish because hey they swim in water, and their tails kind of look like a fish fillet.
Speaking about fish fillet, Jesus really wanted to push some business the way of his friends so there is no meat on Fridays for Catholics, although most have relaxed this of late. But it is still the reason the fillet-o-fish from MacDonalds exists, and the reason they have tried other fish based meals to get that Catholic dollar. Cause sure you can't have sweets but you can have fatty fish on a 20% sugar bun.

Opus Dei are just nuts, not albino psycho monk nuts, but nuts all the same. I don't know if I have ever had any dealings with them in my previous life as a Catholic but I suspect some of my family of being at least associated, that's why I looked into it. I am now pretty sure they are actually members. The sect holds that its members must remain secretive and are not allowed to reveal they are a member of Opus Dei usually to anyone without permission from their superiors, and definitely not to the general public. If they are single and female they are to live in a commune controlled by the higher ups, their mail is opened and their lives fully controlled, and they are supposed to practise self-flagellation, whipping themselves. These single Opus Dei members are forced to labour for the other members and clergy, usually 10 hours a day seven days a week, and any money they are paid is donated to the community or church.
They even perform a cult technique called love bombing, where they shower a new initiate with praise and effect ion to win them over. Yet the Pope still thinks Opus Dei are a-ok, the previous Pope even acknowledged them and the work they do, the current has assigned them to tasks he wishes to complete.
Let's look at what an average day holds for them;
First thing in the morning;
Heroic minute, waking up punctually and saying "Serviam!" (Latin for I will serve)
Morning offering, fixing one's intentions to do everything for the glory of God
Throughout the day;

Spiritual reading and reading the New Testament, a practise recommended by St. Paul and other saints
Mental prayer, conversation with God
Mass, Communion and Thanksgiving after Communion
Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, a Catholic practise of greeting Jesus in the Eucharist
The Preces (the common prayer of Opus Dei)
Angelus prayer
Memorare prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary offered for the Opus Dei member in most need at that exact moment
Short, spontaneous prayers throughout the day, offering up to God one's work, sufferings etc.
End of the day;

Examination of conscience at the end of the day
Three Hail Marys before bed to pray for the virtue of purity

You thought the Muslims had to pray a lot, they have nothing on Opus Dei. Let's look at one of those prayers, the Angelus prayer, where they 4 hail Mary's interspersed with some bullshit about God becoming man. Or the obligatory rosary that is in there, which should take you around 15minutes if you don't rush not to mention the almost hour wasted at Mass every single day, and the other monthly and yearly tasks such as honouring Mary every year by making a pilgrimage in May and at the pilgrimage site saying 3 rosaries, Yikes.

Here is an interesting little tidbit, the Vatican has an age of consent, it is 14 years of age. Something that most of us in the west would be a little disgusted with. But it isn't there fault they just copied the laws of the rest of Italy. So really not that crazy, though surely most residents of Vatican city have taken a vow of celibacy, except the Vatican police we talked about earlier and the Vatican guard, but really there is no age of consent for gays and all those police and guards are men... so really the age of consent must be for the one hotel in Vatican city, but surely the church would prefer that this sex was only done on the chance of conceiving so maybe just remove the age of consent and outlaw it in your crazy little city.
Dan Savage on sex in the Vatican
So onto Pope Joan, who it is debatable whether she existed or not. Yes I did say she... The story goes that sometime during the middle ages, around the 9th century there may have been a female pope. She was a smart and powerful woman who disguised herself as a man and due to her intellect quickly rose through the ranks of the priesthood, to become Pope. The story continues that she was found out after falling pregnant, though no one noticed she was pregnant, I guess papal robes can hide a lot, they did finally notice during her papal procession while riding through a town she started labour and gave birth. The story is unclear here, she either died from complications or the crowd killed her. The story continues that due the embarrassment this caused the church buried the story. This story maybe a complete fabrication, but with history it can be difficult to tell the truth.
Now supposedly due to Pope Joan or at least the possibility of her, the Sedes Stercoraria came into existence. A chair designed to allow the Bishops of Rome to ensure that the pope was both Male and an undamaged Male at that. The bible also says that a male with damaged genitals may not enter into the house of the lord, (Deuteronomy 23:1). So on to this chair, it has a hole in it, and it was either held aloft as the cardinals in Rome where to check out the pope so to speak, the other reported method was that the chair had a hole in both the seat and the front so that the Cardinals could check by feel. There is some reports, though none verified or admitted by the Holy See that this goes on, to this day.

Prophesy, something almost all religions claim. The church is basically and end of the world cult gone crazy. With Jesus in the bible claiming the end would come before some of the apostles present would taste death (Matthew16:28), then Paul seemed to say the end was very nigh, saying not even to bother marrying (1 Corinthians 7:29). Then the papacy continued this tradition. Pope Sylvester the 2nd was convinced (as were others) that the end would come in the year 1000;
Then Pope Innocent the 3rd predicted that the world would end 666 years after the rise of Islam in 1284, though this may have been to get support for his crusade he was waging, regardless it did end for him though a lot earlier as he died in 1216.

I have been attacking the Pope and head of the church a bit, and I guess rightly so. If he acts crazy and adheres to crazy doctrines, then the whole institution is corrupt and should be shunned.
Finally an incredibly hilarious rap song by a young comedian about the Roman Catholic church;

Sorry this post was a long one, I hope it was funny and informative. I will post the video of my talk on the Sydney Atheists youtube page as soon as I can.
If I missed any references above, or I am wrong on any of this I don't mind being corrected, as long as you have references and evidence to back it up. Obviously some of this is my opinion and but it is based on the research I have done thus far and the life I have lived, happy to change my mind if presented with new evidence.

Slide deck (though I have added it into the post now) used during this talk is here.

Monday 11 June 2012

Meant to be

On the way home from Sydney atheists last night I saw someone I am sure I had seen before. I took my headphones off and said hello, and that I knew I had seen him before. After some confusion over if I was British, I was wearing a red rugby jersey, not because I like rugby cause I like red. He said he had moved down from the central coast, I said maybe I used to visit grandparents on the central coast at Wyong, he said Wyong is not what it used to be... that's when it struck me, I knew where I had met this guy, and I knew what he was going to say when I revealed everything, it was meant to be.
I let him finish bad mouthing the people of Wyong, when I said I know where I know you from. I was on the way home from work late a few weeks ago and I you sat next to me on the platform. I had noticed and been a little perplexed by his shirt "carving for christ" a surf comp for Christians it seemed. He had noticed me look at him and struck up a nice conversation.
Last night was a little different, after he talked about his night he asked me where I had come from, I said I was over at Newtown with the Sydney Atheists meetup. He was taken a little aback and said "wow, well I am a pretty extreme Christian", then he said the famous words this was meant to be, I was meant to meet you again. I chuckled as I had known he was going to say this and quickly remembering his story I said well we are on the same train line it was only a matter of time.
He worked out that I had said meetup and started talking about meetup how he had, had a look on there and seen Sydney Atheist, but had also seen witches which he was concerned with. Why are witches any concern I said to him, they usually follow the pagan gods such as Baal (obviously I know very little about wicca; and how is this any different to following the Yahweh and Jesus. He responded with Baal being all about orgies and I responded saying I didn't think that was right, but how is it any concern of his, how is that any worse than eating the flesh of your god every weekend as christians do (even if it is only symbolic in his version).
I should have also added here, but didn't think of it, that how is an orgy comparable to the genocides that have been committed in the name of the God of the bible; Yahweh, or the ones Yahweh asked to be committed for him, eg Israelites versus the Amalekites and then later the Jebusites. They are not comparable to the crucifixion that is celebrated in church rather than mourned, they are not comparable to the celebration of martyrs rather than mourning their loss. Their is no comparison, at least Wicca tend to love the earth, and try and minimise harm to it, sure their gods have no more evidence for them than Yahweh, but at least they are a little nicer to the earth that sustains us all.
It came to my stop and I said goodbye, as I left he said "I will pray for you", and I responded "I'll think for you", if I had, had the time I might have instead said please don't pray for me I have food and a roof over my head, if prayer does anything pray for the 10million children that die each year (, if that is due to Lucifer/Satan then pray for him so that God who is supposedly all powerful may convert he who is not all powerful back to the side of light. But no, any Christian who thinks of these things does not think on them for long as they are to difficult, and cause too much pain reconciling with their faith.
I hope this guy I met does find this, I have not mentioned his name, but he knows mine and will surely find the meetup site over on the right there.
So I guess hello and hope you had a good read.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Location, location, location

How difficult is it to find a location. I have been looking for somewhere for SydneyAtheists to hold their monthly talks. I have emailed and called about 25 places so far and pubs and clubs either don't have a space or want to charge a huge cover or set menu charge ($500-$1000) or the space they have is not appropriate, too noisy, no AV or outside. I have I think an awesome talk planned but I need a TV or projector, and I am not exactly going to bring one with me, though I may look at investing in one for the right place.
I have also been looking for a community hall to hold other meetings, maybe even a monthly board game night, but all those places want to charge anywhere from $15-$50 per hour... and they wonder why these places are mostly empty.
The atheist community has a problem, that problem is meeting in licensed premises. This excludes under 18's and people who don't want to spend money on alcohol or just don't want to be beholden to drink. The noise levels of these places tends to be high, and really for people who want to talk, which is most of us this makes it difficult. Also forget about playing cards or board games at a pub, even talks are hard enough. I don't have a solution for these issues, issues I am sure other social groups face. When I lived in Brisbane I was a member of a very good board game group that managed to get space at a library, this was due to the rules of space rental in Brisbane being if you don't charge for membership or attendance then room hire is free, no such luck here in Sydney. If anyone has any ideas let me know in the comments, more posts to come soon on refuting religion, counter-apologetics, Sydney Atheists, and any talks I do (if we ever get a venue) coming soon to this blog.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Nothing here just yet, but I am sure this subdomain and blog itself is enough of a statement.