Monday, December 12, 2011

Mary's boychild: The biological impossibility of the virgin birth

Recently, at work of all weird places, two colleagues tried to convince me there was positive proof that christ was a real person.

One of my colleagues said there is actual documentation - something like a birth record - of christ's birth. I searched Google for any mention of such a document or anything that could be considered such an important document and came up dry. I can safely say the allegation of a birth-certificate is false or the catholic church would be crowing like a million turkeys... ok, yeah, they already do that.  (Seems Obama is in good company in the missing birth certificate department, at least was for a while....).

The other colleague said proof for christ was a group of ossuaires - boxes containing bones, none DNA tested, one, and none possibly producing the slightest possibility of DNA linking to 'Mary' for whom there is utterly no evidence of existence. Click here for the link I gave him. It refers to an article that my colleague says is less "factural" than National Enquirer.

In the second case, my ernest but uninformed colleague is certain the ossuaries are the real McCoy and suggested I watch a documentary on them. The fundamental flaw in his argument that the bones contained are those of christ and his brother (otherwise known as Joshua and James - yes folks, JOSHUA, not Jesus, Yeshua being a Hebrew name NOT translating to Jesus) is the absolute lack of evidence such persons existed in ANY form.

I have watched the film and I have read a bunch of stuff on the making of it and the people in it and behind it. The Simcha character - the guy who supposedly discovered the ossuaries - has been widely shown to be bent to fraudulent representations in his subject matter.  There is no evidence to support the veracity of the claims those ossuaries contain anything other than regular old bones or that they date from ages ago. Carbon dating shows those boxes to be relatively young - i.e. 150 years according to some reports and 50 - 60 according to others.

More importantly, there is no reliable evidence to support the existence of the person in question, let alone his deity, although there is quite a bit - reams, in fact - that points to christianity's key character being just that: a character based on many that have gone before. If the person did not exist, then all questions related to those ossuaries are moot. The entirety of the christian religion relies on the existence of this 'person,' which is why every effort is made to support the myth. Without it, all is - and should be -lost. Click here for an article on the supposed discovery of the "holy foreskin." I know. Gross.

From a biological point of view, there is no way a virgin can conceive; once the deed is done, she's no longer a virgin, so that doesn't count (the bible says she was untouched, so I suppose one could argue artificial insemination but that's a stretch), or could be pregnant by virtue of a spirit; that idea is massively implausible.

In nature, there are organisms that reproduce asexually. In cases where females produce without benefit of males, the offspring are ALWAYS female.... This biological reality means that if he existed, christ was indeed human, created in the usual way by two human parents.

The idea of spirit impregnation is ridiculous, but would mean the resulting child would HAVE to be female, given a spirit cannot be understood to have a genetic structure. If it had, it would necessarily be human and not spirit and we're back to two human parents.

Mary, being female, could have only contributed an X chromosome to the equation. A male offspring would therefore be impossible, if one is willing to give any credence to the idea of a spirit. 

This biological reality means there is no possible way the bones in those ossuaries are anything other than human. For the record there is no biblical or extra-biblical explanation for who 'Mary" is or where she came from. The only small nod to her otherwise is when she disappears into thin air, conveniently, at the point in the story where she has outlived her usefulness.... For the record, the virgin birth story appears in only two of the four gospels and even in those, it is not consistent.

The four gospels were written many years after their key characters would have died, so none of the writers were eyewitnesses. Matthew was written more than 60 years later and the other three many years later than that.

Otherwise, the virgin birth myth is present in many, many mythologies, all pre-dating christianity, "many" meaning more than 25... But, as with Harry Potter, the presence of a book does not mean the story contained within is real in any sense.

Apart from the obvious impossibility of a spirit/human offspring, there is no credible evidence at all that the christ of the bible did exist, even if he were human. There were approximately 38 historians writing - prolifically - at the time; none of them mentioned this person. The only extra-biblical mention of a person with the title 'christ' (because that is a title, not a name) was by Josephus, who most scholars believe was a fraud and who did not live in the area purported to be the home turf of christ, so cannot be considered an eyewitness. Josephus's comments at the time run to "I hear there's this guy." That is hearsay related by someone who heard it from someone....

I appreciate people have faith but with faith comes a profound responsibility to understand what one has faith in. Believers should be driven to comprehend - they should be desperate for and focused on comprehension. They should know what their 'holy' books say - in detail. And they must understand how much of their books are scavenged from other, earlier mythologies.

They must NOT in any case rely on "proofs" that are anything but proof and are manufactured or manipulated. Believers should be brutally offended by the offerings of fraudsters who prey upon their beliefs - beliefs that are so strong believers will accept ANYTHING that looks to support their myth.

This is true in all religions. Muslims still believe their prophet was right in saying the world is a flat disk that is circled by the sun, despite the undeniable proof the earth is round and orbits the much larger (read; greater gravitational pull) sun. Belief in a flat earth is, however, no less ridiculous than belief in a talking snake, man-regurgitating fish, or flying horses.

In my case, coming from 10 generations of believers - ministers in every one of those generations and five in this one alone, and from a highly, culturally religious family - the NEED to comprehend lead me to research which lead me to atheism because biblical things do not and cannot stand to scrutiny.

I cannot have faith in a 'god' that waited until humans had been on the planet some 100,000 years before revealing itself, nor can I ignore excellent science that proves the earth is much older than 6000 years;  I cannot have faith in a 'god' that constantly destroys what it creates; I cannot have faith in a 'god' that orders the death by murder of (if the bible is to be understood) more than 2.5 million people; or who orders parents to kill their own children or the children of others; or causes bears to rip  children apart because they laugh at a man's baldness; or makes a law that a woman who is raped must marry her rapist; or decrees we must keep slaves and tells us how to treat them and to what point we can beat them; or who finds people's car keys, assists football teams to win games, but ignores the millions starving. The bible is immensely historically inaccurate and most of the great stories are, again on scrutiny, highly implausible.

There is a GREAT freedom in not living one's life in fear of a wrathful and vengeful 'god,' in terror for one's afterlife, and in knowing that humans are intrinsically and necessarily moral and need not cower before an angry, jealous, narcissistic 'god' who cannot ever be appeased by the beings it is reported to love and from whom it must have constant adulation but who, despite all that supplication, it constantly threatens with eternal near-death.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The tartan of a life

This post is a Christmas card for my aunt and uncle in that beautiful, warm, green place by the water.

You cannot know how much I love you and how important you are to me and mine.

Everything that is good is grounded in you, that place, the now, and the forever-will-be-part of the very chequered tartan that is my colourful life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Boys are often dumb...

I am endlessly curious about and fascinated by what seems to be a generalised belief held by many men that the type of car they drive, the name given to the work they do, the fabric their clothing is made from or the leather used to make their shoes (Snake? Really? They don't see the irony?) conspire to enhance their general attractiveness and the size of their physical attributes.

Boys, this is not true. Yeah, that's a cool car (your music sucks and is way too loud) but it doesn't make a man of you; yeah, your big, fancy title is interesting but you're probably being paid WAY too much for the actual amount of work you do and in today's times, post Lehman Bros et al, that title and your what's written on your pay stub are suspect; your suit is great but the likelihood you picked it yourself - pretty slim... and those shoes mate? C'mon. As for the physical attributes, let's just say, it's not the gun, it's the gunner....

Here's a tip, boys: real girls - and boys - like the colour of your character and the depth of your ethics; when all the accoutrements are stripped away, without excellent character and ethics, what is there?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I'm really smart and people agree with me

Or, they think I'm idiotic and my stuff's not worth commenting on....

Either way, I would love some comments, dear readers.

Debates with believers part a million....

This is yet another repost of an exchange that occurred on a social network. Before I get into this thread, I'd like to note again how readily believers read general comments, take them personally and wade into an argument. Anything that is italicised and bold has been added by me in this post to clarify my thoughts on the exchange.

I'd also suggest readers of this post (and other similar post that appear here also) note who is using the word "YOU" in their comments - and how and when they're using it, and who is using the word "I" - and also how - when commenting or replying.

The use or not of "You" is significant. I have bolded the occurrences of "you" in this thread (some may have been missed, however).

Also, although I have inserted the Latin term 'sic' behind spelling errors in the early part of this thread, I eventually gave up....

Finally, if you're reading this and it feels a bit like déja vu, you're right: I posted the early part of this conversation last week. This week, however, a bunch of other people decided to gang up on me.

As always, I invite your comments but PLEASE READ the entire post first, yeah?

Progressive Christianity: the definitive oxymoron.
This was my general, not-directed-to-anyone-in-particular comment.... This is the conversation that followed.

JP: Depending...

WriterWriter: I'm not sure how 'progressive' relates to '2000 year-old tribal writings'....

BW: here's my take on religion in general.....
If you believe.....then you can't persecute those who don't .....
If you don't believe....then you can't persecute those who do....
(Just to note, the person who made this TRUE comment resorts to some persecution and threats later in this conversation.*)

WriterWriter: True.
However, asking questions is not persecution.
Asking for substantiation is not persecution.
Pointing out fallacies, inconsistencies, falsehoods is not persecution.

Those are the rights of rational, thinking people in a democracy.

In THIS democracy, freedom OF and freedom FROM religion are protected by our constitution and Bill of Rights but neither of those protect any religion or any subscriber to religion (of any type) from being questioned.

JP: It can be when the tone is mocking. (I'm not sure what 'it' refers to here or when the 'tone' is mocking).  Its (sic) not a question when you are "pointing out realities" (actually, I said fallacies, falsehoods and inconsistencies).

For some people, this (I'm not sure what 'this' refers to here) is a part of their reality, and whether you believe their view of reality to be true or not, that (not sure what 'that' refers to either... )needs to be honored (sic) (WHY??).

Its (sic) not a question when you consider those who think rationally different from those who don't (no, the writer is correct; it is not a question to think those who think rationally are different from those who don't)

There are lots of religious people who think rationally (Ok, I'll concede this point except they don't on the points of religion, which is not rational in any way and doesn't pretend to be rational: hence, faith)

It's not a question when the "question" makes others feel small.
(Ah, yeah, it is. Their feeling small has no bearing on whether a question is a question).
Perhaps those within religion have made you (why did this suddenly become about me?) feel small and insignificant and that's why you attack* (question?) it with such vigor (sic). There is a difference between an opinion and a question. I respect yours (my question or my opinion?), as a rational, thinking human being (I don't know if the writer means they are or I am the rational being)

I hope the same courtesy can be given to me. (When did this suddenly become about this commenter? My initial four-word post is entirely general).

WriterWriter: How did this become about anyone in particular???

Why is it people always try to find reasons (i.e. I've been made to feel small) for atheism? Why should there be any reason beyond there's NO evidence for any god: not the god of the christians and jews and not that of the muslims - no more evidence than there is for ANY of the 5000 or so gods that have passed through human history.

Here's a question: If you had been born in the Middle East to parents who follow Islam, would you still be a christian? (This question was never answered)

I will say I disagree intensely with the idea that religion 'needs to be honoured.' Why?

Being affiliated with a religion - ANY religion - does not make a person good or nice or honest or ethical; nor do such affiliations insure morality. So honour then based on what?

Tell me why I "need to honour" beliefs that are based on no evidence. Why should such beliefs benefit from any more honour than a belief in Thor or Krishna or pink unicorns?

... please give me any example of when I have attacked.

Also please tell me why questioning with vigour constitutes attack. (not answered)

WriterWriter: I wish I could take bets on how much - if any - of this excellent article will be read by certain participants here but there you go...

And before anyone slams me for being aggressive or mean or too frank whatever term, I didn't write this...

If you're just going to use your own conscience and your own mind to decide what's right or wrong, true or false -- why do you need God?

JP: I didn't "slam" you for being too aggressive* (Um, yeah, ya did, by alleging I attack). I don't think you're mean or being to (sic) frank (We'll keep this comment in mind too, for later...). I'll read your article, if thats (sic) who you mean by "certain people".

WriterWriter: Lots of people are following this thread. Lots won't read that.... Like I said, don't take the general personally.

WriterWriter:  Just to quote you, " Perhaps those within religion have made you feel small and insignificant and that's why you attack* (question?) it with such vigor (sic)."... You suggested I attack... attacks are, by definition, aggressive.

What I will say to all the religious readers of this thread is this: my comments here provide you every opportunity to provide evidence, proof, backup, substantiation, etc. and provide you a wide-open opportunity to convert someone.

What I often - and I mean 99.9% of the time - get in response to my questions or suggestions is defensiveness, not reply. (for evidence of this, keep reading...)

I have asked SEVERAL people (two pastors) to define the 'beliefs' I have and have had NO answer - although they have both responded with insults (about my character and intelligence, much preceded by 'you are,' or 'you should' type comments) (Twitter).

I have asked for substantiation of the main players in the stories and have again had insinuations and outright insults but no answers.

I have asked simple questions like the one I posted today about Noah (where did he get polar bears and south-pole penguins, etc) and another about how 'god' managed to create light three days before the light source, but have been told (and YES I WILL pull the direct quote) that I am intellectually bereft and incapable of comprehending the bible.

I have provided endless links to excellent writers and research sources, videos, refutations, encyclopaedic references and have had back only biblical references to support biblical references: the concept of circular reasoning seems to escape.

Finally, I have had any number of insinuations about my mental health in the sense that I must be mentally damaged to be doubting something for which there is absolutely no evidence.

But not one has taken the much-proffered opportunity to convert an educated person who comes from generations - TEN - of staunchly christian family that has at least one pastor in each of those 10 generations (five in this one). (They have, however falsely accused me of saying they're stupid because I have read more than they have....)

If I were on the other side of this fence, I'd say that someone like me was a hell of a catch and I'd make every effort to research my sources, know what I was talking about, answer questions, read the heck out of every possible resource, back up my answers and be real in order to hook such a fish.

(I have emphasised certain words in the next comments to highlight the use of charged words. I just thought it was an interesting contrast to my having tried to keep my comments as neutral as possible, considering the subject matter)

GP: RESPECT !!!........a very SIMPLE concept......but not... seemingly for you!!!! (aaaannnddd cue the attacks).....RESPECT my son for his belief system......RESPECT me....for mine!!......I don't give a rat's ass for what YOU believe (So, I have to respect this person's belief system but they don't give a rat's for mine. OK.... ) is YOUR belief system!!.....I listen to to (sic) what you believe......I don't question it (maybe you should?) is YOURS......your verbal retaliations (VERBAL? Maybe they're using reader.... Retaliations? WHERE?) come across as a personal one is really caring to debate you.....most of us don't have the time or energy too (sic).....not that you would listen anyway's (sic)!! just delete friend's (sic)......or block comment's (sic)!.......because they anger you!.......and....just for the have raised your children in YOUR belief how are you different than ANY of ???......
(For the record, I have not raised my children in any belief system: they are and have always been free to consider all or none). 

GP: ‎~R~E~S~P~E~C~T........  Thank you nailed it! (relates to the third comment in this thread)

DN: I truly get a kick out of people who can open there (sic) mouths and spew their thoughts while while (sic) anyone who tries is so wrong (except I am STILL waiting for any of these people to comment on the SUBJECT rather than attacking me). Respect oh there's that word again. Respect. I guess that word only works for certain individuals. So unbelievable. i personally don't care to read someones link (translation: I don't care to educate myself....).

maybe these links are spewing propaganda for atheists (so, let me get this right; this writer won't read any links I post because they don't want to read anything that might be "atheist propaganda,' whatever that is...?)

Oh yeah right i'm probalby not educated enough to understand. Im sure i will hear about it. My thoughts and beliefs are totally wrong (OK, if you say so.... ).

BW: I'd just like to know why it is you demand justification for someone elses beliefs? You seem to crusade against religion with radical passion, and respond with someone elses diatribes about their own personal convenient choosings and how that just makes a mockery of the whole belief system......You enjoy fitness activities and photography, and no one slams those activities or crusasades against them or blogs about the lack of proof that fitness activities are indeed one on here challenges anything that you enjoy, believe, or take comfort in. And yes, the beauty of the web is that it is indeed an open forum, ...but using it to take a stab at the beliefs of a life long friend and her family , for all the world to see, shows a complete lack of respect. Ask yourself if the challenges are worth the cost of a life long friend?
(Ok. I must note here that I did not and did not intend to single out anyone. My comments were - and are, as much as possible - GENERAL. This commenter is suggesting - via veiled threat on someone else's behalf - that I should shut up or lose a friend)

WriterWriter: Nope. I did NOT attack, pinpoint, or disrespect Jared with my initial post. It is GENERAL and not about anyone specifically.

Secondly, I note - as always - that the participants in these threads rarely, if ever, reply to specific questions and resort VERY quickly to attacking my character. (See? No names and no identifying information)

But this idea of respect is really interesting: I will say quite categorically that those of us who err on the side of evidence, proof, verification and reality are on the short end of the respect stick.

It isn't a question of not respecting the PERSON. Not at all: it is, however, a question of retaining respect at the same time as having the RIGHT (and responsibility) to ask questions about things that don't make sense, aren't true or don't add up.

I have always and will always have respect for people's beliefs - and for this country's constitution that protects the right to believe - and the right to FREE of belief.

HOWEVER, those who claim a belief in something are substantially responsible for providing some reliable evidence and support for those beliefs. What almost always happens is when those beliefs are put to the test, rather than a rational discussion ensuing, the above types of comments occur.

Reacting angrily and throwing insults at a writer who says something one does not agree with or know about is NOT a discussion: it is tantamount to a temper tantrum and has no relationship to discussion.

DN, PLEASE tell me - and QUOTE me - where I have "spewed propaganda for atheists," and what exactly that might be.

GP; Please, please, please tell me what it is I believe given that the definition of atheism is an ABSENCE of belief. Secondly, please tell me where I said anything disrespectful to or about J; and finally, SOMEONE please explain how a general comment became about anyone in particular!

BW, I am not 'demanding' justification: however, I am educated, as I grew up in a church environment and come from a very large family of religious people - and ten generations of the same.

Yes, now that I have stepped back and have spent more than five years reading everything I can get my hands on and researching what I grew up believing, I am asking people to substantiate what they say they believe (in this conversation because they jumped in to the conversation. I don't walk up to strangers and start in on them...although, sometimes I'd really like to.).

Re your comparison of real things - tangible things like running and photography - to things for which there is no evidence, proof or substantiation for 'real' it's a stretch.... (I have evidence for my photographs and for my running - or lack thereof at the moment, given my waistline; Believers have no evidence whatsoever for the claims they make)

I am SHOCKED by how angry those same people become when they encounter information that is at odds with what they say they believe. I am also shocked to comprehend how unwilling people are to read anything that challenges their paradigm.... wait. Actually, no, I'm not surprised by that at all: the only way to be sure of one's beliefs is to never put them to any significant test... but I digress...

To the original post: My comment, that progressive christianity is an oxymoron is NOT directed at anyone in particular ... (redacted); however ... chose to make it about ... and others here have gone there too.

Secondly, this is MY ... feed. I am comfortable speaking as I do and have no embarrassment about the opinions I hold or the research I've done or the things I post. If others are offended, they have several choices:
Research - and post countering opinions (but please understand that I may also continue to post other also-countering opinions and information;
Remove the 'friend' connection.

However, under no circumstances will I be cowed into censoring myself because others don't agree with me. Just because people don't agree does NOT mean that I am wrong or disrespectful. It means that I respect people enough to engage them in a very complex subject because I believe them intelligent enough to engage.

Finally, to the point of respecting religion in general: WHY. Why should any philosophy deserve any respect simply for existing? Why should one religion deserve more respect than any other - and more than no beliefs - when thousands of religions - and gods - have preceded it and when there is no more proof or substantiation for it than any other in existence now or in the past?
Why should the North-American version of religion deserve any more respect or be accorded any more 'truth' than religions elsewhere?

Have your beliefs but don't be surprised, and don't resort to insults and insinuations, when people who choose to really consider what 'belief' and 'faith' mean ask pointed questions.

And DON'T take the general personally: it indicates a certain insecurity.

As always, I hope you will, even in the smallest way, take advantage of the links I post here:
Greta Christina is one of my favourite writers: here is some of her work, particularly on the subject of believers debating atheists

.. and on the dangers of 'progressive' christianity':

Some readers may not like this stuff - but not liking it only means they don't like it, not that it's wrong;

Stuff that challenges one's paradigm will do one of two things: it will allow them - or force them - to go find material that supports their beliefs and paradigm or it will bust them out of their beliefs and paradigm. THIS applies to me too, which is why I read EVERYTHING for or against my subject matter.

GP:Wowzer' just don't get it...on any level....

DN: Oh julie you crack me up. Your rants are hilarious

BW:You're strong in your convictions....we get that.....but so are Grace and Jared, and all who believe....
(Fine. My issue is that you hold these convictions you refuse to challenge AND you get all angry when anyone else challenges them.)

Your posts and questions indicate to me that you're looking for proof and answers (Congratulations, Sherlock....)
 but challenging people on a public forum isnt the way to go about it. (Women should shut up and not speak in public? Don't ask questions in public so we believers won't have to be shamed in public?)

Perhaps you should investigate a term at a bible college where you are encouraged find your own answers.
(Ahahaha... I can't imagine how a bible college would even consider letting me in or what they'd do with all my questions, but reading everything I can and asking questions of believers is exactly how one goes about finding their own answers... or do you mean finding the answers YOU want me to find?)

While you may view your posts/comments as matter for debate, they are delivered in such a manner that they are viewed as an attack....
(This is exhausting. "... viewed as" does not equal "are.") 

you're making these people defend and justify what they believe in and you simply DON'T have that right.
(Ah, yes, I sure do. I every right to question the extraordinary claims of 'believers.' its one thing to enter in to a fact based debate (Religion is not fact)...but the truth of the matter is that what you have here is a debate based on beliefs where there can be no victor....your beliefs/views and opinions cannot trump anyone elses just because you want them to (Ok, that's just dumb: these people all jumped into what was NEVER supposed to be a debate and then tearing me down because they chose to engage???)

Quotes from various blogs are also someone elses opinion that you seem to think back up your opinion....(Ok. I don't know if this person finished school but I'm pretty sure they went at least to grade nine or 10 - where they would have had to go to the library, read other people's writing and use it to support the points of their own essays.)

If you can believe said blogs without challenge (When did I say I 'believe' blogs without challenge?), why can't the faithful believers of the world believe in their convictions with the same courtesy?? (They can. They just can't be pissed off if I ask them a question and they can't answer it). you've made your point....your (sic) a non one bothers you about it (EXCUSE ME??? No one bothers me about it??? NO ONE has put a LOT of time into writing the above comments.... ) let it go.......unchallenged as it is.... 

So, GP if I understand correctly, as long as I don't say anything - no matter how general - that you disagree with, all's well; but the second I make a general comment you don't like, or ask a question that I'd like an answer to it's a personal attack?

Are you also suggesting I have no right to question religion on my own Facebook page?

Are you suggesting that I censor myself because my opinions and the links to other opinions I post offend some people? Would you apply that same expectation to yourself?

Dave, I'm glad you find this amusing. I also find it quite amusing that a completely general comment was taken personally to the point that four commenters came out swinging....

I'm not sure how my four-word general observation, or my comments in response to others here constitutes a rant or why the very pointed and very personal comments do not....

If anyone who has commented here would like to ante up and QUOTE me when I have personally attacked any specific person here, please do. Just be mindful that I will do the same.

One must be judicious in their use of the word "YOU" in exchanges such as these....

Anyway, this exchange continues, even as I write this blog. The players are either cornering themselves or exiting the conversation because what else can they do besides end up looking stupid.... E.G.:

I have no interest in proving, or disproving any of just doesn't matter to me one way or another....

I think it's weird to weigh in on something you not only don't know anything about, but when you actually don't want to know..... 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

This is for all those sweet religious people who say I attack them...

Every time I say anything or ask any question pertaining to religion, a legion of the faithful tell me I'm a horrible person, that I don't respect them and that I have, essentially, no right to speak or to ask those questions or to hold them accountable for the myth they foist upon people - other people who can't or won't speak up or who are too lazy or terrified or brainwashed to do ANY research into what they think they believe.

NO, I do NOT respect that attitude and NO, I do NOT 'need' to honour someone just because that person chooses to believe in myth.

Until you, Mr. and Mrs. Religious-of-any-type can give me some EVIDENCE that your god - one of more than 5000 in human history - is the IT guy, then you can screw off with your admonishments in my direction.

Friday, September 02, 2011

So, I learned a thing or two today...

1. One's tone of voice impacts how a READER perceives the tone of a question... a written question....

2. Christians are defensive and will make the most general comments about them....

As evidence:
" It can be when the tone is mocking. Its not a question when you are "pointing out realities". For some people, this is a part of their reality, and whether you believe their view of reality to be true or not, that needs to be honored. 
 (OK, WHY should I or anyone honour - HONOUR - another person's reality??? Humans would be sucked into a vortex of honour; everyone has their own perception of reality! Good grief....)

(The question in question was WRITTEN; hence, no tone of voice - no 'mocking' can be heard. This writer is inferring based on his insecurities.... Full disclosure; he's a youth pastor.... whose dad consumed - when I knew him - a lot of porn...). 

Its not a question when you consider those who think rationally different from those who don't. 
 (I know. That is not a complete thought or sentence....)

There are lots of religious people who think rationally. (yes... except about religion)

It's not a question when the "question" makes others feel small. 
(Ah, yea it is; the feeling small part comes from not having a good or rational answer)

Perhaps those within religion have made you feel small and insignificant and that's why you attack (question?) it with such vigor. 

 (Ah, there it is: the veiled insult in the form of 'something obviously happened to you.')

There is a difference between an opinion and a question. (yes, there sure is) I respect yours, (my WHAT? My opinion? My question?) as a rational, thinking human being. 

I hope the same courtesy can be given to me." (OK, but this isn't about you!)

What prompted this soliloquy? My Facebook post that "Progressive Christianity" is an oxymoron.

Seriously, religious people, you TOTALLY give away your insecurity when you take general comments and observations personally. If you're SURE of your beliefs and your dogma, why are you so very fragile in the face of questions? AND, if your stuff is really that convincing and great, why, rather than taking the much-proffered opportunities to prove your point, do you resort to the defensive stance? 

It's weak. And unconvincing.

But you're not really convinced either, are you?..... 

I wish you wouldn't make it so easy and so fun to poke holes in all of it.... 

This one's for Rob..

My English nephew, Rob, was with us for several months last year. He thinks Canadians have weird customs.

Washing computer keyboards in the dishwasher was definitely up there on the list...

I won a mug!

Monday, August 08, 2011

According to people who think they know me better than I know myself...

... I am
A 'feral heathen'
A liar
A bitch
A racist
A radical
Angry Atheist

These labels and insults have been thrown at me, in public, by 'friends' of the "flesh and blood" type.
  • Because I question anything that doesn't come with a reasonable amount of logic and proof;
  • because I think that professionals, who have spent years becoming educated, who do their jobs because they like their work and are committed to their clients and patients, should not be insulted with the implication that they can't or won't do their jobs without the go-ahead from an invisible man;
  • because I am proud to be Canadian and because I think Canadians should not only understand their country's constitution and Bill of Rights but they should whole-heartedly support them - and each other;
  • because the colour of a person's body organs - no matter what that colour is - should never, ever be used as a weapon or a defence against reasonable, rational questions;
  • because I am willing to cause an uproar rather than be false or to placate;
  • because if one makes a statement, they must be willing and able to back up that statement, provide support for the statement and be prepared to defend the statement; and they must be willing to add to their knowledge, change their opinion and abandon their 'beliefs' when they are shown to be untrue: resorting to insults rather than understanding, supporting and defending statements is an abdication first and and admission the person slinging insults does not have any grip on their subject matter.
Because she was a much more intelligent person than people ever gave her credit for being and because this quantifies me too, I quote Marilyn Monroe:

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

I add this too: "Well-behaved women never make history."

I don't presume to make history and I won't be "well-behaved," which really amounts to not saying things and  to compromising myself in order that people who choose not to understand things outside their own paradigms are not moved to discomfort. I refuse to be false and fake in order to assuage the sensitivities of people who presume to know me and tell me who I am and what I believe.

So, in response to the insults lobbed at me:

Yes, I am occasionally self-righteous; I come to that as a result of being a voracious reader, from having an insatiable curiosity, to owing a large, large dose of skepticism and from being endlessly amazed by human behaviour; and to a confidence in my own intelligence.

Yes, I am, like all humans, occasionally self-absorbed. If there is one among you who is, in this area, 'sinless' let ye cast the first stone. Self-absorption is the basis of insecurity.

Yes, I am a feral heathen. I have returned to a wild, undomesticated state where it concerns fantastical beliefs because I question everything - myself included - on a daily basis. I am proud of my flexible mind and I defend my - and everyone's - right to question. I encourage you to click and read the definition of "feral."

Yes, I occasionally lie - as does everyone. This is true of all of us and more true of some of us - see 'religious leaders' and politicians for reference. Also remember the last time you lied to someone because telling the truth would have ripped out their heart....

Yes, I can be a bitch. I am particularly bitchy when people call me names and tell me I'm a lesser human because I don't think or believe as they do. I am bitchy when people tell me I have beliefs but won't define what they mean by that; I am bitchy when people diminish the commitment and skill of those around them; I'm bitchy when I'm too hot or too cold; and bitchy when I'm hungry and tired. I know those things make me completely different than all other humans....

I, like all humans, have my moments of arrogance. I, also like most humans, temper those moments with many more moments of insecurity.

I am not a racist. There is no such thing as 'race.' This would take me 20 pages to explain so I shall direct you to anything written or spoken by Nina Jablonsky, who is an expert in this field and who is a passionate defender of HUMANS, regardless of biological adaptations (Click link for Jablonsky's TED talk).

I will agree there is 'racism' which is the name humans give to the practice of hating and killing each other based on the colour of a large body organ.  I do not care if a person is sixty ways from rainbow on the outside; I do care very much about the shades of their character. (added) Apparently, Morgan Freeman agrees with me.

Yes, I am a radical, which is the apt and correct term for anyone who does not immediately accept everything fed to them and who will challenge things that don't make sense or are outright fabrications; and it is an apt term for people - female people - who don't always behave as some people think they should. Dr. Martin Luther King was a radical; John A. MacDonald was a radical; Marie Currie was a radical; Joan of Arc was a radical; Queen Elisabeth I was a radical; Rosa Parks was a radical; Mandela is a radical; my grade 11 English teacher, Mrs. McLean, who was the only university-educated person in her Irish Catholic family, was a radical; Einstein was a radical; Copernicus and Socrates were radicals. Dr. Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and St Augustine are radicals (were, in the last case). Here are definitions of radical:

I am an atheist. That state does not make me angry. Being reminded every day of my young life that I was a sinner made me angry; people 'praying' while their children die makes me angry; people hating other people for what goes on in their private lives makes me angry; people shooting/bombing/kidnapping other people because of fantastical beliefs makes me angry; the refusal of so many to scrutinize what they think they believe; to put their belief system to the test; to consider other possibilities and people who lack the ability to say "yes, I was wrong," make me angry.(CLICK THAT LINK!)

Yes, I am angered when people do not know what they're talking about, don't know what they believe, don't understand where their beliefs come from and won't make any move to put their beliefs to the test, opting instead for calling me angry, self-absorbed, arrogant, a bitch. I can hear those insults reverberating off the walls that make the corners into which those who insult me - rather than really understanding what they believe - have backed themselves into....

In addition to all these things, I am a compassionate person. I love my children, am proud of them and fascinated by the wonderful humans they are, by their endless abilities to form friendships, by their love and by their humour.

I am a curious and interested person.

I love my friends regardless of their foibles and their failings but for their humanity and their love. I am unsatisfied but that is my motivation and inspiration to learn.

I will end a relationship when it is a appropriate. I will be sad about doing so but I will not regret it.

I am loving and kind and flawed.

I am human.

I am me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Human: suposed to be smarter than dogs... but not....

Photo: Leah Hennel for the Calgary Herald
Last week, a Didsbury couple was viciously attacked by a couple of akita dogs. This headline provoked howls of "put them down" (the dogs) and all sorts of knee-jerk freak-outs.
Not to downplay the seriousness of the attack - because it was very serious and two people are very seriously hurt - but the humans in this scenario fall just short of deserving what happened. Had they any sense, they would have known and they would have acted prior.
Here's the article - and there are loads of similar reports. However, not one of those reports expands on certain key details of what happened. The Herald(amazingly) quoted the director of this city's animal and bylaw:
"Keeping the parent dogs together after a litter was born isn’t recommended ...," said Bill Bruce, director of Calgary animal and bylaw services.
“It’s likely (the mother) is going to be highly alert and not trusting [the breeding male],” Bruce said.
"Bringing the beagle into the situation possibly aggravated things further," said Bruce.(ABSOLUTELY aggravated!)

What the media fails to report and what the humans in question utterly ignored is this: the female dog was protecting four-day old pups; a "threat" - the couple and their beagle - entered the garage, which amounts to her den for the bitch; the couple put themselves and their own dog at risk by invading (in the dog's understanding) the nursery. If the 'threat' was on the ground, meaning the beagle was loose or even on a leash, one could - and should - expect that the bitch would see that as a danger to her puppies and that she would react to protect them.

If, in addition to invading the den, the couple that was attacked came near the puppies at all but certainly let their beagle near them, an attack is exactly what one might expect to occur, particularly considering the proximity of the mating male.

The dogs' owners obviously had not enough breed knowledge but also didn't have basic dog knowledge or they would have know that the breeding male of any breed should never be anywhere near the pups or bitch. Had they had breed knowledge, they would have known this applies particularly to akitas. They would have also known to provide a safe, sheltered, away-from-traffic location for bitch and pups. The garage, through which the attacked couple had to pass every day to get to their accommodations, was not a safe place for the dogs, the puppies or the humans.

If one understands how aggravating it is for dogs that letter carriers come every day, make a bit of noise and leave, it isn't much more of a stretch to understand how a new mommy dog, who is already protecting her brood from a male that would just as soon eat the pups, could react to the annoying comings and goings of humans and yet another dog.

This is a horrendous situation for all involved but the events were predictable. Dogs, despite being domesticated, are instinctual and their instincts will override their training and their attachment to humans in certain situations - new puppies being an obvious case.

The owners are to blame to the extent they did not provide a secure, protected area for the bitch and her brood, where the other couple would not have to pass by, regardless of previous interaction. The attacked couple might also have informed themselves about what behaviour to expect. These dogs did exactly what an informed owner would expect them to do in this situation.

One can never, ever assume anything with any dog no matter how domesticated, docile or 'known' the dog is. Dogs are still animals and they will, when they perceive a threat, protect themselves and, as in this case, their young. Common sense. Any dog behaviour book will make this clear.

I can speak to this personally: when my eight-year-old dog was injured and in terrible pain, he did exactly what I expected and tried to fend off anything that might have been the cause of that pain. He didn't know what had happened; he didn't know if he was being attacked; he knew that he was in great pain, on the ground and unable to retreat so he made to bite me. I dropped a towel into his mouth, which allowed him to bite down but also to focus on me long enough to know I wasn't going to hurt him more.

What SHOULD happen in this "attack" (which is more aptly described as a protective attack) situation is that the couple that was attacked sue the owners for putting them and the dogs in a very dangerous situation; and the owners should be banned from ever owning dogs. What will probably happen is two healthy dogs, who acted on instinct - exactly how a knowledgeable owner would expect - will be euthanized to pay for the stupidity of their owners.

I theorize often that most humans WISH they were as smart as dogs but, given Dunning-Kruger ("...occurs when incompetent people not only fail to realise their incompetence, but consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. Basically - they're too stupid to know that they're stupid. they're actually not smart enough to realise it."),situations like this will occur again. For sure. Guaranteed.

In the age of the Internet, why dog owners don't access the endless free information out there is beyond me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Just because you don't agree doesn't mean I'm wrong: it might mean you're wrong and you're defensive

God is a creation of HUMANS
Earlier this week, a long-time friend posted pleas for prayer for her brother, who, as a result of a genetic issue, is prone to all sorts of stuff cropping up. He's 52 this year, which is amazing in itself given his syndrome - Down Syndrome: generally, people who have DS don't live to be middle-aged.

Over his relatively long life, he has always had teams of expert medical professionals caring for him and, again given his age, they've done an amazing job. He is very healthy, generally, funny as hell, smart and a really pleasant guy with a crazy memory for names and faces.

My friend has cared for her brother most of her life and particularly now, as her parents are both deceased - her mother within the last 18 months. She also has three adopted children who each have profound disabilities; one, a young adult, is severely disabled due to their birth-mother's alcohol abuse (Even knowing what I know about FAS and FASD, I am amazed at the extent of this person's disabilities; she is blind and has profound CP); another who is profoundly damaged due to having been shaken as an infant and who will be three months old for the rest of their life; and a third who also has Down Syndrome.

Suffice to say, my friend, who is an excellent caregiver and endlessly compassionate mum, has had a lifetime of involvement with medical professionals who are integral to the well-being of her children.

Although I appreciate that prayer - calls for it - seems to make people feel better in some situations, in this case, I thought it offensive; such calls imply that the professionals who have always provided excellent care for the children in this family cannot function - and their education, skill and experience cannot be activated - without entreaties to the invisible man, who, if one is willing to make the next logical (in terms of religion) step, is responsible for these children's afflictions in the first place.

I'm terrible at biting my tongue and, as my friend's message was in public on FaceBook, I replied that perhaps taking action and relying on proven medical people was much more beneficial than sitting around talking into the air (ok, I say 'prayer.' But I meant "talking into the air.")

The distinction I make in this case is this: my friend, who said her "God is greater than any doctor," implied that the more-than 50 years of medical support her family has had depends entirely on entreaties to this invisible, malignant spectre, who, one might easily assume, lies waiting to visit horrendous afflictions on the beings it is alleged to have created and can only be stopped by these beings constantly supplicating it. Such a presumption is disgusting and insulting to those who, regardless of entreaties, care for the wounded and afflicted.

She countered by saying "Respect my beliefs and I'll respect yours," which is stupid on all counts: does she believe in her proven medical team - a team that has proven its worth for ages - or does she really believe that unless she rounds up the troops and has them speak into the air, those medical professionals will not have access to their experience and skill?

She didn't answer my counter - that I don't have 'beliefs' but I do have confidence in doctors generally - and that she should specifically, given her family's history. I also asked her to define my 'beliefs' for me, which she didn't: she just removed all my comments.

I appreciate that some people are very, very uneducated and have never had any involvement with doctors on the level my friend has; in those cases, I appreciate their belief that prayer works on some level. But for my friend to so reduce the skill of the support team she has and make that skill dependent on the whims of an invisible man - it was simply offensive. That she deleted my comments indicates she was in a corner: either she had to respond and deny her belief in prayer or disengage. Either way, face was lost.

Prayer is a waste of time. Period. There is no evidence at all of an invisible spectre and equally none for the idea that talking out loud into the air is anything but just that.

When intelligent people who should know better and who owe a huge debt of respect to a group of doctors that has literally kept their children and sibling alive all these years, devolve to talking into the air, it is offensive.

One of my favourite myth-busting websites is God Is Imaginary. It puts forth 50 proofs that 'god' is a creation of humans (all gods, for the record) and not t'other way round.

The first two sections of the site deal with and explode the myth of prayer with research and refutations of the inane apologetics of the religious, who, it seems, would rather make up all sorts of defences for their perfect being than simply say "this is utter crap" and get on with their lives.

In respect to people removing 'offensive' comments, it is a sure admission that one knows they're wrong and they're in a corner. Removing comments (particularly those that request evidence for claims) serves nothing more that as a confirmation that, no matter how much they protest, rail, scream and carry on, the religious know that what they say the believe is baseless, stupid bullshit.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On Honour and Sacrifice

We're staying in a great hotel in the city we're visiting. The staff here is great - really, really great; we have a view and we have a dog with us, thanks to the pet-friendly nature of this main-drag hotel. Pretty perfect. None of what follows here has anything to do with the staff, except the resolution, which was fast and effective.

This morning, at about 2:15, seven very drunk young men decided to continue their party in the room facing ours.

Two interventions and an equal number of threats from Woody (who owns that name, being inflexible in his expectations that they either shut the fuck up or leave) did nothing to quiet them down, so it wasn't long until my temper got the better of me and my palm hit their door, loudly, a couple times.

I tried to get my 'mommy' out on them but, beyond their surprise at an older women up in their respective grills, none of them was man enough to say sorry. Not even my boiling and mostly undressed spouse looming above them (he's 6' 4" tall) convinced them they had seriously crossed the line. Assholes, all.

A real man NEVER forgets himself; he never imposes himself on others and he never, ever forgets that he is not alone on the planet; he never forgets that his behaviour and the things he says are a reflection of his character.

Suffice to say, seven young men seriously compromised their honour this morning and that sacrifice not only caused them to be evicted from this facility a mere seven hours after their arrival, it cost them their room charges AND ours.

What are these? These are HUMANS of the ONE human race. 

The detail that rankles me the most, the detail that will sit with me and the thing that tore my soul, however, was not so much their sacrificed honour as it was one young man's final, desperate attempt to regain control - but an attempt that cost him, his friends and me everything. Everything.

He refused to acknowledge that none of what ensued would have, had he and his pals heeded the doorman's advice to be quie; simply be quiet and go to bed. It was 2:30 a.m. after all....

He said we were pressing on him because he is brown. He said a brown man cannot get a fair shake and that we were attacking him because we were racists.

Several weeks ago, I had a serious falling out with someone who had been my friend for more than 20 years. This person also alleged racism in my direction. My comments to him - which he has not had the decency to respond to - and to this young man are these:

1. "Race" is a political construct; there is one human race, which comes in many, many colours:
2. "Race" has been institutionalised as a weapon by which people avoid responsibility, much in the manner the young man from this altercation used it.

The young man in question knew he was wrong; he knew he would be evicted and so he invoked the most hurtful, false and damaging thing he could. He alleged that he was innocent and that I was attacking him for no other reason than the colour of a body organ.

What this young man - and my was-friend, who is also black - did not realise is the immense damage he did to himself, me and his group of friends, all of whom have, save for one man, deeper skin tones than I.

I am disgusted by drunks. I am disgusted by people who will sacrifice their dignity and their honour to impress their friends; but nothing - NOTHING - can ever disgust me more than a man who is willing to use the colour of his largest body organ as a weapon by which to avoid responsibility for acts that he, himself, is responsible for.

The damage this young man and my ex-friend did by their allegations is immeasurable, not to mention that they both perpetuated a lie; and by doing so allowed that lie a continued strangle-hold on WE.

We humans.

We who share this planet and have no means or options for not sharing this planet.

Using the colour of skin as a weapon is abhorrent in any context and for any reason. It is skin. It's colour is nothing more than an adaptive feature that references a person's genetic history. Beyond that, the colour of a body organ has NO bearing on anything. Those who attempt to falsify a bearing  are thieves, rogues and are morally bereft. This goes for unknown young men, advertising executives and presidents.

If you seek to avoid responsibility or you seek to silence others by means of invoking something that is NOT REAL (race), you are bereft of honour in a profound way.

Thou shalt NOT attempt to escape thy responsibilities by invoking a false paradigm that injures EVERYONE. Doing so makes one a scourge upon all humans.

Monday, June 27, 2011

And also....

Not immoral!
WHY is it that some lies can be told and retold and repackaged and reformatted endlessly but the second someone says 'HEY, you have to show evidence for the foundation of your argument,' all hell breaks loose?

This week, writer Catherine Ford, who is not known for sugar-coating anything, wrote an argument for prostitution.

Suffice to say, humans being the idiots they are, saw the words 'prostitution' and instantly got their ridiculous moral swords out - on the women and men who work in the trade. As usual, people completely forget that it takes two (or more, occasionally) and that most purchasers are men, regardless of the sex of the vendor.

Needless to say, the religious idiots come out in full force when sex is the subject, and they make all sorts of stupid, wrong and discriminatory statements about what forms of sex are allowed, when, by who and for what consideration. And they base all this on two things: a presumption there is an invisible man and that the book 'written' by the invisible man is true and infallible.

Where I got into trouble - where I ALWAYS get into trouble is when I said "First, prove, or at least show some viable evidence that your invisible man exists."

This is the lie: that an invisible man exists and he creates all things, decides on who shall benefit from all the things he creates and that he will kill/maim anyone who contravenes the rules, which shift depending on interpretation of said rules. Despite that the idea of an invisible man directing traffic is fantastical in the extreme, it was requested that I accept a proffered 'olive branch' after one of the commentors tore into me, utterly misquoted me, refused to provide any support for his claim that the invisible man created sex and then gets to decide everything about how people do sex. And THEN, he said (I paraphrase here) 'well, I was actually just commenting on the original column.

Here's the deal people. Believe in whatever you wish to believe but do NOT expect me or require me to  believe what you believe or revile me when I ask you for some evidence that your claims have any basis in reality. Asking for evidence, support, proof is NOT derogatory nor is it an attack on you. If you make a claim for something, you better be bloody prepared to support your claim - and your religious notions do NOT fall outside of that requirement.

Religion, despite its two-century hold on the idiot masses, is NOT exempt from questioning nor is it exempt from having to substantiate its claims. You may call me every name you can think of and you may pronounce any manner of future destruction on me but if you cannot support any of your claims, I can and WILL ignore everything you say.

About sex: Humans, eat, breath, evacuate (that means pee and poo) and they screw. All humans do it unless the are physically incapable and that includes priests, nuns, ministers, the homeless, the rich, the poor, your next-door neighbour, your parents and your children and probably your grandmother too. Unmarried old people in nursing homes OFTEN play musical beds.

The idea that only two differently-sexed people married to each other are the only people "allowed" to have sex is TOTAL bullshit and the idea that here is some invisible man who gets to say when it's ok and for whom to have sex is also super, super bullshitty. See EXTREMELY lucrative porn industry for reference and also see "high percentage of repressed religious people use a lot of porn and hookers."

(As an aside, I just heard a hilarious story by a hotel worker about what happened to the hotel's internal movie system when the Baptist Convention came to town; suffice to say, the switchboard was burning up and overloaded by the requests for porn made by the good Baptists staying in every room of the hotel.)

So, for your reading pleasure, excerpts from the conversation with the offending party, who was a known journalist for a major Canadian daily but who now mitigates their narrow viewpoint with the disclaimer, "I haven't been a journalist for a long time."  I don't know about this person but once a journalist, always a journalist - and that applies to journalistic standards of integrity, honesty and balance....

NB: For the record, I am very offended by the original writer, Catherine Ford's comment implying that sex-trade workers (and the writer - a woman - specified women and girls, despite that many working in the sex trade are male) do not "walk the higher moral ground." There is NOTHING immoral about sex or selling it. There is, however, something terribly immoral in men preying on women, girls and males who work in that industry, and it is unethical and immoral to presume to impose one's values on others, particularly when one cites the desires of an invisible, improbable, murderous, stupid 'man;' if said invisible man can't figure out that light and dark (day two in genesis) must FOLLOW creating of sun, moon and stars (day four), I'm pretty sure said invisible man is fake or, if not, really, really stupid.
(for the other 400+ contradictions in the bible, click HERE)

For the record, I have removed irrelevant-to-this conversation comments: the conversation occurred on FaceBook and so several contributors stuck to the more general issue and need not be identified.


(Name removed for privacy):  Wow, I hope I never have to have her advocate anything for me!

(Name removed for privacy) I think I'll pass on reading this woman's column today. I'd like to keep my beautiful Sunday mood!

(Name removed for privacy): Luke 6:36-38 (NIV)36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (unless you're the wrathful god who gets to create people and rules and then change the rules, deny knowledge and kill the people 'he' created)....

PM;  Ah, Catherine. Only she can so efficiently claim the moral high ground to critique those who do the same while in the same breath agreeing with their perception of the behaviour (this from a 'christian' who believes in an utterly immoral, invisible 'man'). Still, if her view holds the day this should open up a new stream of previoously (SIC) untaxed revenue . . . .
(irrelevant post removed)

ME: Here's the thing: prostitution IS A FACT and it will be a fact, as it has always been a fact, for as long as there are men who buy sex (and even in the case of male prostitutes, it is usually men doing the buying).

Secondly, the FACT is that a high percentage of men who buy sex are married and affiliated with a religion AND, often, with a fundamentalist religion.

Sex is not immoral. Sex with multiple partners is not immoral - even with multiple partners at a time. However, repressed, controlling people who seek and have sought for centuries to control other people have deemed a natural, necessary, healthy body function immoral. (some of that control stems simply from the need/desire to see land transferred to 'legitimate heirs' rather than the concubine's children....)

Women DO have the right to be safe at work and for some women (and men), being at work means providing sex to men (and occasionally women) who buy it.

Prostitution, in terms of the act itself, poses no danger to society any more than your neighbours sex life affect s you. However, the job IS dangerous to the women and men who work in the trade because although YOU can say no to buying sex, they cannot say no to clients who abuse them and occasionally kill them.

Otherwise, it is critical to consider the preparation one usually has before entering into this profession; most prostitutes have been brutally used and abused at the hands of their family members - often males (fathers, uncles, their mothers' boyfriends).

Those who are inclined to talk about the immorality aspect of this issue would do well to start with how religion really screws with people's normal urges (and why so many religious men are buying sex...), and the outcomes of abused children, child porn and men (usually) who prey on little kids.

PM: Well, now that we've established that religion is the cause of prostitution I am looking forward to the study that shows that as religion has declined so has the demand that drives the sex trade. Fewer married fundamentalists = a decline in the prostitution industry. And here I was thinking all these years that there was a connection to people's need to feed their drug addictions . . . (p.s. prostitution as an act in itself has never been illegal in Canada). Solicitation for the purpose of and living of the avails of/pimping, is, or was, or whatever. (also for the record, the drug addiction and the prostitution are not necessarily cause/effect, despite they often occur together; there is much more research to show that the foundations for an eventual drug addiction and the impetus for choosing prostitution have their bases in the family - and the abuse most - some 96% - of sex-trade workers experience at home)

ME: QUOTE ME if that's what you claim I said.

I DID NOT SAY THAT and don't misquote me. IF you're going to argue this issue, then argue it rationally and honestly and STOP bringing your BIAS into it.( all of which are entirely counter to base journalistic standards)

I don't know what your educational background is but mine is VERY varied and INCLUDES a year's study of street crime with a focus on prostitution in the company of two experts who KNOW what they're talking about.

I said a high percentage of religious men buy sex and I said - and I will quote myself - "... repressed, controlling people who seek and have sought for centuries to control other people have deemed a natural, necessary, healthy body function immoral."

If YOU say those are religious people then OK but I did NOT say that. Do NOT twist my words like that. Seriously. It is shameful.

PM: Well, my apologies. I really didn't wish to debate the issue (really? Not evident from your inflammatory comments above, my journalist friend) My fascination was really with Catherine's rhetorical skill. I suppose there are still relgions (SIC) that deem sex to be immoral - even though such a stance appears to have little chance of, if practised, producing a second generation. But I cannot think of one that is widely subscribed to that holds such a view. That was my only point. I agree with what I think is your major point.

ME: It does not become you to be disingenuous. MOST religions vilify all but the most proscribed sex. In particular, the Alliance churches (which stem from Southern Baptist); in Canada, CBM; Mormonism, certainly Catholicism and definitely Islam.

If you're suggesting your own church, which may be more liberal, is representative of all other churches, then I say, my friend, that you are obviously retired and living in a cave. Muhammed, is that you?

FYI: This link is not directly related to this feed; however, it illustrates fundamentalist attitudes towards sex the point being that all religions (ok, christianity, judaism and islam, all having the same origin) are based on.

(irrelevant post removed)
(irrelevant post removed)

PM: It is true that most relgions (SIC) offer ('offer' nothing! I have attended several different churches of different denominations and there's no 'offer' or 'suggestion' about it; there is an expectation on all adherents as to how they will behave sexually) the view that sex should be enjoyed in a monogamous fashion. 

None that I am aware of currently suggest it should not be enjoyed. Yes, there have and are "puritan" traditions that have been widely misinterpreted, particularly by those unfamiliar with the theological complexities of these discussions but the fundamental view is not at all consistent with your perception. There are various cultural interpretations but they are more cultural than religous (SIC). Better to just leave religion out of it (what a stellar idea, although an interesting suggestion from a writer who not five paragraphs previously misquotes me to blame religion).

Following up on Julie's note I checked an Alliance website and this is what it has to say about sex: "God invented sex, and it is one of his masterpieces of creation. It is something good to be enjoyed. However, sex was designed for a specific purpose - for the exclusive, lifelong union between a man and a woman, which we call marriage (this is entirely NOT biblical, for the record). Sex creates a special bond between two people, and God intended this to strengthen marriages and fulfill the God-given sexual desire of the husband and wife. It is not wrong for someone to enjoy sex. That is a lie." (just a note here: the writer has misplaced the quotation marks, I'm sure, as I am also sure the Alliance literature does not include "That is a lie."

ME: ... as soon as you or any religious person can prove - or even offer decent evidence of - the existence of this invisible man who manages to create sex but cannot figure out that light and dark (day 2) comes from sun and the movement of sun around the earth (day 4) I might conform to such edicts.

Secondly, I am VERY surprised by the comment "none that I'm aware" from someone who is a journalist... you are, I'm sure, familiar with the practice of female 'circumcision?' It's purpose is grounded in religion, which presumes to make women seducers (as does Christianity). Such mutilation is performed on girls aged 2 years and up in order to remove their desire, their ability to enjoy sex and hence to prevent them from seducing men.

Religions place full 'blame' for seduction on women, which brings this discussion right back to prostitution: men are remarkably not required to be responsible for themselves - they get to blame all 'untoward' sexual desire on women. This leads to all manner of horrific acts including the stoning of a women who was observed swimming in her own pool in her private courtyard by a man on the balcony of his apartment in another building - She was killed for having excited him. Islam, by the way.

As for only husbands and wives enjoying sex together, that is not the simple case, never has been and never will be, which, by the way, is another indictment against this very fallible invisible man, who creates humans in his image, sexual desires (outside of marriage) proclivities and all....

Also to note - and with a nod to the excellent writing of Andrew Nikiforuk (and his book, The Fourth Horseman.  Also HERE for the biblical description - which is a story probably from a dream had by someone who was stoned on Kat ) - until modern times - and I mean very modern; perhaps the last 150 years or fewer - lifelong probably meant 10 years at best. Before modern hygiene, one could reasonably expect to marry a few times and to have a couple spouses die or to die oneself and leave one's spouse free to marry again. As such, the modern expectation of people marrying at 22 or 25 or 30 and then staying with the same person forever more - another what? 50 to 60 years? is ridiculous in the extreme, as it flies in the face of biology and the biological imperative. (Yes, life-long marriages happen but far more rarely than marriage breakup - and that has nothing to do with anything moral and much to do with the biological imperative).

Sex does create a bond between two people. But you ignore the fact of sexual abuse, sexual assault (including within marriage) and rape. These are all sex acts and all cause a bond, as dreadful as it might be.

The fallible invisible man you claim invented sex has no place in the story because it/he/she is also usually the very thing blamed (when a woman is accused of seducing) or entreated-to by those who do what humans do and screw around (and are caught out: see Ted Haggad, Jimmy whashisname, Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, etc, etc. Too bad Jerry Falwell was so well-protected by his entourage because he's definitely on the list of users/abusers).

PM: OK. I'll let it go and just go back to my first point. I just wanted to praise Catherine for her rhetorical triumphs and just wanted to present an alternative point of view on some of your statements of fact (As I noted above, misquoting people and putting words in their 'mouths' does not amount to praising anyone, particularly when the person misquoting is a journalist).

The differences between culture, core beliefs etc are not easily given to this forum. I'n sure you are a good person. I haven't been a journalist for a long time but I still like balancing viewpoints whether I share them or not. Peace. (This writer says they like balancing viewpoints but, when the question of 'god' arises, the writer does NOT).