30 June 2009


(the Younger)
Roman philosopher,
statesman, dramatist

• “It is better, of course, to know useless things than to know nothing.”

• “The mind unlearns with difficulty what has long been impressed on it.”

• “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful.” (What Great Men Think of Religion, Ira D. Cardiff, 1972)

23 June 2009


See also, my original post on
Why Torture is Wrong

From Madeleine Albright’s
The Mighty and the Almighty,
p. 195-197 (2006):
“...Torture may work sometimes but usually it does not. Napoleon, no bleeding heart, observed more than two centuries ago, ‘The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.’

“As John McCain has argued, this debate is not about what our enemies are like; it is about us. If we rationalize torture or make exceptions for special circumstances, so will everybody else. Governments 
that routinely abuse prisoners will point to the United States for justification. Our standing to insist on the humane treatment of Americans in foreign prisons will be diminished. America will be known as the kind of country that tortures people or that arranges for others to do so. For what purpose? To defeat the terrorists? The effect will be just the opposite. Guantánamo has presumably kept some members of the terrorist class of 2002 out of action, but at the cost of significantly enlarging the class of 2006. The detention center there should have been shut down long ago. As for Abu Ghraib, it was the biggest gift Al Qaeda’s propagandists could have received...
“...In the time since the first photos from Abu Ghraib appeared, pamphlets have circulated in Arab communities showing those shameful images along with pictures of dead Palestinians and Iraqi children... In a region of long memories, I fear these images will be fueling anti-American violence for generations to come."

Madeleine Albright
(1937- )
1st woman U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001)
20th U.S. Ambassador to the UN (1993-1997)

10 June 2009


I recently discovered The Brick Testament website which features Biblical stories illustrated with Legos™. The Bible Review chose the unusual art for the worst Bible art award in 2002 while Stuff chose it as the best combination of toys and God's wrath in 2005.
The Brick Testament made it into Rolling Stone magazine's Hot List 2005 (10/06/05). "It's filthier than Hustler. It's more violent than The Sopranos. It's pretty impressive for an illustrated Bible made entirely of Legos™." Rolling Stone goes on to say that the artist creates "strangely compelling pictures online and occasionally publishes his work in glossy, coffee-table friendly books ---if incest, gang rapes, beheadings, bestiality and wholesale genocide are your idea of parlor chitchat."
The Biblical tableaus are designed in Legos™, then photographed with a digital camera by The Reverend Brendan Powell Smith, the son of an Episcopalian Sunday school teacher. East Bay Express (10/26/05) reports that at age 13, Smith decided to reassess his boyhood superstitions. "I didn't start out with the goal of questioning my religious beliefs, but eventually got around to it... Belief in God just didn't make the cut." About reading the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time while studying philosophy at Boston University, he says, "I must say I was pretty shocked." Smith is now an avowed atheist.
Spin magazine (February 2002) described the Biblical scenes as "alternately childlike, disturbing, and hilarious." Smith is quoted: "If there's an unspoken intention to the site, it's to have those who believe in an all-loving and merciful, family-values-supporting God be confronted with the barbaric, heinous, and grotesque stories from the divinely inspired book their religion is based on. Plus, it's a cool Lego™ project..."
To answer the question, "Is he really a reverend?" the website's reply is: "Most ministers, priests, or other religious clerics would not actually use 'The Reverend' before their own names, for to do so would be presumptuous and rather vain. The Rev. Brendan Powell Smith is not an ordained member of any earthly church, and is widely regarded as being both highly presumptuous and extremely vain."
Smith says he sometimes receives complaints from people upset by his depiction of sex in the Bible. He adds, "No one has ever complained to me about the far more prevalent depictions of violence."
The artist adds ratings to each scene: N=nudity, S=sexual content, V=violence, C=cursing. The Bible Review (8/14/02) says, "Genesis, it seems, is least appropiate for children. Paul's letters come next."
Spin says to ignore the ratings "if you wanna see Lego™ Adam giving it to Lego™ Eve from behind."

Note: click on the "press" link at the top of the The Brick Testament website for more press coverage and the "about" link for more information about the site.

To see other amazing art created from Legos™, go to:
or, search for "Lego art" on the web

08 June 2009


German philosopher 

“Religion is the masterpiece
of the art of animal training,
for it trains people as to
how they shall think.”

(Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon)

06 June 2009


Despite Jesus's saying that the end would occur before the death of the last Apostle (Matthew 16:28), "The Rapture" has been predicted time and again over the past 2000 years, with each generation of Christians believing it was going to happen within the current generation's lifetime.
Jehovah's Witnesses set the end year as 1874, then (oops!) 1914, and then (oops!) 1975. Wrong. The founders preached that the "Catching Away" would happen within the lifetimes of the founders. Wrong again.
Several decades ago, during one sect's specific prediction of the imminent Rapture, Madalyn Murray O'Hair (founder of American Atheists) made an announcement that, if the Rapture occurred, members of the American Atheists would adopt the pets which were left behind. Obviously, they didn't have to take in even one abandoned pet.
James Randi (illusionist, The Amazing Randi) published "Forty-Nine End-of-the-World Prophecies ----That Failed" in Appendix II of his book An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural.
Many people beieve that when The Rapture occurs, believers will vanish from the earth and instantly be taken up into heaven.
On an Amazon.com review of the book Are You Rapture Ready? reader g notcold commented: "I picked this book up by accident and I loved it. Crazy people are funny. But they're even funnier when they seem to take themselves seriously." S.G."bigtime reader" wrote: "People floating up to heaven when the end times come, saved by the Lord while everybody left behind will fry....what a crock! I think there is some mental illness going on here. "
And W. Christie wrote: "This book fails to answer a basic question many Christians have: what if it isn't a convenient time to Rapture? For example, everytime I sit on the toilet, I say "Please, God, don't take me now! I've been constipated 6 days, and here on the 7th I'm about to lose 10 pounds, so don't take me flying until I'm done". Other people ask about what happens if the Rapture occurs while they are having "marital interactions" (there is no sin in the marital bed). I can't picture my wife and me floating up to heaven naked and intertwined like pretzles! I think the book should have given us more tips on how to be ready for Rapture, and whether God will make allowances for sitting on the pot or on our wife's face! We do keep rain coats and umbrellas in all rooms and in the car, in case we are Raptured during a winter storm."

Jerry Falwell described The Rapture this way:
"You'll be riding along in an automobile. You'll be the driver perhaps. There'll be several people in the automobile with you, maybe someone who is not a Christian. When the trumpet sounds, you and the other born-again believers in that automobile will be instantly caught away ---you will disappear, leaving behind only your clothes and physical things that cannot inherit eternal life... Other cars on the highway driven by believers will suddenly be out of control and stark pandemonium will occur...on every highway in the world." (as quoted in The Mighty and the Almighty, Madeleine Albright, p.155 footnote.)
Falwell met his maker on May 15, 2007 at age 73. Apparently, he missed The Rapture.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist adding this video clip to this post:

The book advertised below Beam Me Up, Jesus is subtitled, "A Heathen's Guide to the Rapture" and is a humorous take on rapture mythology.

04 June 2009

ISAAC ASIMOV on the Bible

American biochemist 
and author 

        “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

See also posts on how the Bible helped me to reject religion and become an atheist:

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