From time to time, my friends have sought my erstwhile opinions with regards to setting up a profitable business. While I am not exactly a business guru of the Robert Kiyosaki or Donald Trump types; I tend to read up a little on business and finance, and sometimes I just simply discuss these topics over lunch, and rather inevitably, the subject of business ownership crops up.
Free enterprise, being part and parcel of democracy, is definitely a driving force behind capitalism and free market policies. After all, what better than a little avarice and covetousness to enamor the masses? Besides, everyone wants a piece of the action: Your neighbour next door has just bought the latest Jenna Jameson dildo, and you know you wanna get one too, even if your husband's got a porn star tool with two giant nuts in between.........
Unfortunately, free enterprise doesn't necessarily equate to equal opportunities. Some people get rich, some people don't. Some businesses go bust, some hang there by the skin of their teeth. It is a dog eat dog world in the open market, and some businesses are destined to do better than others.
In such uncertain circumstances, the question beckons: What kind of business has the best potential, the lowest risk and highest turnover? To add to this magnificent equation, how about throwing in a few freebies, like, say............no taxes, plus government grants to boot? Fantasy? Well, not exactly..........read on.
Setting Up A Religious Organization
Now, this may sound upsetting to some, especially to some fundamentalist Christians who contend that God, not monetary gain, is the central theme to their religious practice. As an atheist and a secular thinking person, it strikes me with awe that religious organizations, far more often than not, surpluses other secular and even government institutions in terms of sheer grandeur that borders on opulence.
Megachurches in the US and even in Singapore are often architectural monuments that can only be described as "lavish and extravagant". From titanium-clad buildings of the one and only megachurch (City Harvest) in Singapore, to the majesty of the Vatican headquarters, one wonders how, and where, the money does indeed come from.
Clearly, money makes the world go round, and in the case of Religion, money is clearly the driving force behind the insane need to proselytize and "spread the Good Word".
Getting Rich the Easy Way: Building Your Own Religious Empire
In the words of Benny Hinn, the huckster faith healer-cum-evangelical pastor: "Years ago they used to preach, 'O we are going to walk on streets of gold.' I would say, 'I don't need the gold up there. I've got to have it down here."
Indeed, no sane religious leader really believes in what he really preaches: The real rewards, it seems, is never a keepsake of the divine. The key to success, it seems, lies with the believer.
The aim of any successful religious empire is to master the ultimate fleece: Give ye folks as much faith as ye wants, and let my church keep your money. The ultimate product which any successful religious movement needs to peddle with extreme finesse: Faith. Faith doesn't exactly move mountains, but it does induce the faithful through tear-jerking theatrics which will invariably convince the swindled masses to part with their money without question. Throw in a couple of part-time actors and actresses feigning diseases and suddenly "springing" to life, and a little wireless aid (Popoff was exposed by James Randi to have been prompted by Popoff's wife when he accurately alluded the exact names of the faithful and their individual ailments: Popoff claimed at that time that God "spoke" to him), and your masquerading circus is complete.
It is hard to imagine selling any type of product with more ease and the least persuasion: No product tryouts, no warranty, little threat of being sued (unless you are in the business of selling Jesus-diets and other palatable products), and best of all........its all tax-free!
In most secular countries, religion is treated with utmost respect and reverence to the point of absurd groveling: Tax-free status is granted to religious organizations, the same type of status one would expect to be granted only to charities, becomes automatic privilege. An extremely successful fraudster in the mould of Peter Popoff and Benny Hinns can stand to generate millions of dollars from one single session of faith-healing: Minus the stage props and the rest of the fake gadgets, this is one "smash-and-grab" operation well worth a try.
Given such stellar and rather mind-boggling advantages, it is small wonder that churches, mosques and other religious institutions tend to spring up and breed with reckless abandon. The key question is, how can you compete with entrenched religions which have already been swindling the masses for millennial (Case in Point: Vatican Church)?
(In Part 2: I will illustrate how you can go about building your very own religious empire.)
Friday, 31 August 2007
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
From time to time, I write short skids to relief myself of boredom.
Sometimes, I derive my creative brain juices from the lunacies of religious folks; other times, I feel inspired by Mother Nature to paint a slightly anthropomorphic portrayal of my animistic characters.
When both inspirations clash, hilarity ensues.
Characters In The Story:
David the Farmer
& Finally, Pink The Church Mouse
The image of a mouse; white, flurry and all, may very well scare the wits out of some. Others, however, may relate to the mousy image with the hilarious cartoon series of “Pinky & the Brain”. In this cartoon series, Brain, the clever mouse, plots devious plans and invents evil devices to try and conquer the world. His sidekick, Pinky, is a dull-witted, stupid mouse who serves as a dumb side-kick to Brain. Most of the time, Pinky is much more of a hindrance than a help to his brainy boss. Another old-time favorite is the “Tom & Jerry” series: Jerry is the complete opposite of Pinky. Exceptionally witty, Jerry inevitably his predator, Tom, a thin scrawny cat who has made it his personal mission to place Jerry on his culinary list of must-eats.
Needless to say, my next dialogue, or should I say tale, revolves around a church mouse, Pink. He lives in a mouse-hole, which, as the name implies, is a simple hole burrowed into the wall of a farmhouse. Formerly an illegal tenant of a nearby church, he has moved into the old, dilapidated farmhouse, due to the emergence of numerous nasty cats in the church vicinity. The owner of the farmhouse-cum- ranch is a kind, genial farmer who goes by the name of David. Although David has long sensed the presence of Pink, he has not make any attempts to exterminate Pink from his humble abode, as Pink has not caused any kind of disturbance normally associated with other nastier rodents.
Besides Pink, there are other animals living in the farmhouse and its adjacent ranch. Besides the usual sheep, cows and chickens in the farm, An over-the-hill sheepdog by the name of Brad keeps watch over his domain. Brad has seen better days, shepherding cows and sheep with David, as cattle and sheep roamed and grazed on the fertile and plentiful grass plains.
The good ole days have become a thing of the past. These days, there are not that many cows and sheep left; David’s too old to take the last remaining cows and sheep out to graze regularly, and even if he does, he does not need help from Brad to do the herding, since there aren’t that many farm animals as there used to be. Brad spends his days sleeping on an old, smelly couch in the farmhouse, passing out time as he enjoys his final golden years of his retirement, chewing and spitting out old bones. Brad and Pink have become bosom friends, having lived under one roof for quite a number doggie years.
Having been a former resident of a town church, Pink is a heavily-influenced religious fanatic. Pink listens attentively to the sermons held in the church, and abides to every word being spoken by the religious teachers. Had he not been a mouse, he would have been a most useful servant of the church. Like his human counterparts, Pink leads a very regimental life, and unlike other mice found in the ranch and its surrounding forests, he is still a virgin, and indeed lives a monk‘s life. An extraordinary feat for a mouse, as mice are reputed breeders, known to reach sexual maturity at a very early age. Indeed, the adage of "God works in mysterious ways" may be a very apt description of this peculiar mouse.
Pink’s daily activities are as mundane as you will ever expect from a religious fundie: He prays all day, and eats only wild weeds in the fields and leftovers in the trash bin. Pink can often be seen reading a holy book; he is very much mesmerized by every word he reads. The scripture itself is always left with its pages open on the table near the window ledge by David, who is quite a man of faith himself.
While David the farmer is a dutifully religious man, the same cannot be said of his infidelic sheepdog: Brad has slogged for almost three-quarters of his entire doggy life herding farm animals; he is carefree and cares not for frivolous creeds, despite Pink’s numerous attempts to knock some faith in the old dog, or rather, “teach the old dog new tricks”.
The unsolicited arrival of a cat, however, is set to break the peace in the farm house. Sid, a cross-breed tabby cat from a nearby village, has been wondering around the parameters of the ranch for a few weeks now. With superb agility and stealth, which he utilizes to great perfection, he has managed to spy on Pink’s daily activities, carefully memorizing his tight, rigid schedule. Sid reckons that Pink would make a good placid little target for him, but he has to take the sheepdog into his consideration. Granted, Brat may be too elderly to ever catch up with the ever-agile Sid, but in a straight fight, Brat has an enormous size advantage. Hence Sid decides to sit out, bid his time and wait for his meal.
At certain times of the day, Pink will leave the security of the farmhouse via a tunnel leading to the trash can, where he spends a few hours each day gathering food and snooping around, hoping to find fellow church mice to preach his creed. When Brad is up to it, he follows Pink around, leaving the house via a specially-designed hatch-door. But Brad’s getting old, and his joints simply cannot meet the demands of regular exercise.
Sid spends his time in the ranch hunting for other smaller creatures to feed on, while at the same time keeping a lookout on little Pink, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. When he is not hunting and stalking Pink, Sid resides in his trash bin home situated on the outskirts of the ranch.
(Scene 1: Pink, as usual, goes about his business, of foraging for food at the trash can. Sid the Cat pounds on him, taking Pink by complete surprise, and catches him by the paw)
Sid (Catches Pink with his paws): Meow! Finally, I have managed to capture you with my very own paws!
Pink (Twisting, turning, scowling): Let me go, you stupid, big, fat pussy!
Sid (Surprised): What did you just call me, you freaking Church mouse?
Pink (Still cursing): Are you hard of hearing? I called you a stupid, fat, dumb pussy. Which particular word in my sentence did you miss out?
Sid (With a smirk on his face): You pathetic little mouse. You are about to meet your maker. Why don’t you stop resisting and be my obedient little gourmet?
Pink (Still struggling): You wish! (Bites Sid’s paws)
Sid: Meow! (In pain, releases Pink)
(Pink falls to the ground, dusts himself up, and to Sid’s complete surprise, refuses to run away, choosing instead to stand his ground and stare at Sid, who is many times bigger and meaner than Pink )
Pink: Now don’t you dare pounce on me like that, you hear that?!
Sid (Shocked): Jesus Fucking Christ! You are one feisty little mouse, aren’t you?! (Pauses for a while) Why aren’t you running the hell out of here? Don’t you have the slightest fear of me whatsoever? I am the predator here, mind you, I am going to have you for my breakfast today, you understand that, don‘t you?
Pink: I know, Tabby Cat, and I am not afraid of you.
Sid (Stares in mock wonder): I can see that………
Pink (Laughs): And it makes you furious, hopping mad, am I right to say that?
Sid (Meows Angrily): You little rat………
Pink: Before you get all worked up and all, kindly allow me to explain to you my case to you.
Sid: What case is there to speak of, save the good ole food chain? You die, I consume you, and then I consume some other mouse again.
Pink: Would you be interested if I were to tell you the source of my mental strength, my fearlessness, despite my puny size?
Sid (Thinks about it): Well……
Pink (Laughs): Heck, you are probably thinking, curiosity kills the cat, right?
Sid (Sees the funny side, laughs): That’s a lie propagated by the erstwhile humans. Us cats are too smart for that kind of religious crap. We can smell danger from miles and miles away.
Pink: Would you like to hear my story?
Sid (Smiles cunningly): Not really, I would prefer to have you for breakfast. Hungry cats don’t play with their food, and we certainly do not talk to our food either, for your information.
Pink: I know, Sid, but think about it. You’ve got nothing to lose. After I am finished with my story, if you are not convinced, then you can have me for breakfast. There is no escape for me. You are a smart pussy. You ought to know that I have virtually no other means of escape. Come on, Cat, what have you got to lose?
Sid (Ponders for a while): Oh well, ok, tell your story. But make it snappy. I haven’t got all day.
Pink (Pats Sid’s paws): That’s more like it. Do those paws still hurt?
Sid (Grumbles): Now get on with the story before I squish you with my big fat ass!
Pink (Laughs): Alright, alright! For a tabby cat, you do have a nasty temper! First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Pink, what’s yours?
Sid (Impatient): Does it really matter? (Sighs). Alright, just as well, at least you get to know who sent you to meet your Maker. My name is Sydney. You can just call me Sid.
Pink: Sid……… that’s a beautiful name.
Sid (Annoyed): Will you just cut the mushy stuff out? I have been very, very patient with you, little mouse.
Pink: Ok, Sid. Sorry to take up your time. Now listen carefully. Have you ever wondered, who brought you to this Earth?
Sid: Hell, I was borne to a litter of 6, and I was the youngest. Nearly didn’t make it, though.
Pink: Who brought you to your mother’s womb?
Sid (Laughs): This is a pretty dumb question. What do cats do when they aren’t hunting for mice?
Pink (smiles wryly): Ok. I know what you mean. But have you truly wondered why you are here? I mean, there must be something else, besides sex, right? Someone must have been there to see that you, the unborn cat, was nourished and born with perfect health and faculties.
Sid (Laughs): Now you are talking funny. Fortunately I haven’t killed you just yet. (Laughs) Yeah, make me laugh before you die. That’s a good one. I may just let you die a painless death.
Pink: My death would be worthwhile if I could only convert you to my creed.
Sid: Which is?
Pink: God. The belief in a God. If, by the end of this session, you were to actually understand the meaning of faith and subscribe your soul to God, I will die with no regrets,
Sid (rolls his fat ass on the floor, laughs hard): You must joking!
Pink (Wears a dead serious look): Do I look as if I am joking?
Sid (Laughing even harder): I have heard of this before. But I thought this was supposed to be a human thing, I mean, only humans are religious, not a mouse………
Pink: But I am a church mouse.
Sid: Right, right. (Scratches head) And so you actually expect me to be a church cat?
Pink: Indeed, for God is a very powerful being. If he can touch my heart, he can touch yours too.
Sid: Oh, so where is he now? I have never seen him before, not once since I was a little kitten have I laid eyes on this being. Is he smarter than the average homo sapient?
Pink: God is an omni-potent being; he is the creator of everything: From this Earth which you own your existence to, to the little mice you kill every day for food.
Sid (Gives an incredulous look): And I am supposed to believe in such crap?
Pink (Pleading): That is up to you. I have granted you divine knowledge to a all-knowing, all-loving God. Repent and be saved, my dear cat!
Sid (Laughs): You claim your God is all-loving?
Pink: Yes, he is, and I stand by my claim.
Sid (Snickering): How is it then, that everyday I get to kill at least 3 of your kind everyday? Is this a prime example of your God’s “love”?
Pink: God works in mysterious ways, Sid.
Sid (Bearing his claws, ready to strike Pink): Really?
Pink: If you do not yield to God today, you shall not get to taste my flesh. That I can assure you.
Sid (Menacing tone): And how would you know?
Pink: God spoke to me this morning during my morning prayers. I know you are coming for me.
Sid (Claws out, fangs bared): Excellent. Any last words before I send you to your Maker?
Pink (Still rooted in his position, shows no fear): As I already told you, you can’t kill me, since you have not repented.
Sid (Angrily): Ok, talk time’s over! I shall have no choice but to prove you wrong. Say your last prayers, dumb rat!
(Pink stands rock still, his faith in divine intervention unwavering, confident that Sid the Cat wouldn’t be able to smite him. Intervention does arrive though, in the form of Brad, who for some unknown reason is awakened by the hushed conversation. He rushes out of the farmhouse via a basement tunnel, and sees Sid, with his claws sharpened and all, ready to strike Pink. Furious, Brad immediately barks at Sid.
Upon hearing Brad‘s barks, Sid abandons his attacking posture against Pink, and dashes out of the farmhouse)
Brad (Catching up with Pink, panting): Hey, are you alright Pink?
Pink (Grateful tone): Just in time, old buddy. You feeling ok?
Brad (Still panting): Guessed I am getting old. Thought (Pants)………you were praying beside the Book, didn’t see you, (Pant) thought you might be outside. That stupid Cat, he must be thinking I am an old geezer, he didn’t even realise I was secretly spying on him by the corner of my good eye when he was standing by the latch and watching you pray. Just waiting for him to strike and then catch him red-handed.
Pink (Laughs heartily): And the folks actually say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks! Thanks buddy, for saving my life.
Brad (Slightly breathless now): Not a problem. You ought to be careful though, Sid’s not the only predator around. There could be even a snake somewhere hiding amongst the bushes. Even I must be wary of such a cunning creature. The cat may be dangerous, but it is stupid. But not the cunning snake though.
Pink: I know what you mean. Let’s go back.
Brad: Ok. (Yaps a yawn): Jebus Christ, I truly am getting old. Got to go back and rest. You must be careful, little Pink.
Pink: I will be careful. Remember, trust in the Lord thy God. Faith moves mountains, my friend.
Brad (Laughs): Oh, ok, are you telling me dogs go to heaven as well?
Pink (Laughs): I wouldn’t discount that. Come, let’s go.
(Brad lies prone on the ground, to allow Pink to climb on Brad’s back. Together they make their way to the farmhouse.
(Scene 2: A few days later, Pink is out in the ranch looking for corn in the early hours of dawn. Sid approaches Pink)
Pink (Happily): Hi Sid!
Sid: Hi Pink, I have come here to apologize to you.
Pink (Surprised): Really? Whatever for?
Sid (Looking apologetic): I am here to apologize for my actions a few days ago. I have realised the error of my ways.
Pink (Excited): So, have you…………
Sid: Yes, I have decided to subscribe to your God.
Pink: That is great! Perhaps I am just curious, but can you tell me the reason for your sudden change of heart?
Sid: You know, Pink, I have thought about it, and yes, you are right, I think there must be a Creator somewhere, I mean, look, my purpose in life is simply more than just breeding and hunting for mice, right? I mean, perhaps there must be some kind of Creator who creates us, and wants us to worship him.
Pink (Relieved): I am glad you have come to your senses.
Sid (Excitedly): And there is something else too. Your bravery against your specie’s greatest adversary is exemplary. Never have I come across a church mouse as brave as you are. All the church mice I have hunted and killed would run away at the mere sight of me. Some have even died of fright upon sighting my mere whiskers. You, Pink, you are different. You have faith. I want that faith, Pink. Please, enlighten me in the ways of your God!
Pink (Delighted): Come, come with me into the house. I shall teach you the ways of the Holy Babble.
(Pink leads Sid into the house, via the tunnel which Brad uses. Brad, aroused by the laughter of both unlikely friends, wakes up, sees Sid, and growls angrily. Fortunately, David’s out in the city.)
Brad (Growls angrily, with Sid behind him, frozen in fear): Damn Cat, leave Pink alone or I shall smite your big fat ass!
Pink (Gesticulates wildly): Hold your horses, Pink, Sid means no harm whatsoever.
Brad (Shakes head unbelievably): You must be crazy Pink! We can’t have Sid in to house, you know that!
Pink: Yes we can.
Brad: He will have you for dessert, Pink. Besides, David’s going to come home anytime!
Pink: Don’t sweat on it, my friend. I am just going to show him the scriptures, that’s all. After that, he leaves.
Brad (Groans): Oh no, it is the human thing again, isn’t it? How many times have I told you, that theirs is a faith we can’t subscribe? When have you seen other mice doing the same crap as you do everyday, praying and reading (Points to scripture) with that stupid heavy book all day?
Pink (Smiles): Perhaps I am more highly evolved than the rest of my comrades.
Brad: Right, just make sure you don’t end up as just another meal for this cat’s fat ass. (Points to Sid, growls at him) I know what you are up to, pussycat. You’d better behave yourself. Or I shall personally ensure that this will be the last time you ever keep your whiskers. Am I making myself very clear?
Sid (Looking very nervous): Be at ease, Brad. I harbour no ill intentions against Pink. I have learnt the error of my ways, and would love to learn about this True and Living God.
Brad: Spare me the rhetoric. I am going to bed. (Yawns) It is too early to wake up for me anyway. Now go on with your own devices. I need to sleep. And talk quietly, you hear?
Pink: Will do, Brad. Rest well, my friend.
( And so it is, that Pink and Sid become fast friends, despite incredible odds against such a phenomenon. They can often be seen talking and chatting in the farmhouse when David isn't around, and when David is home, they take strolls in the ranch and talk about God, much to the annoyance and disproval of Brad the Sheepdog. Being a new convert, Sid, the newly-converted Church Cat is obviously curious to learn more about this awesome deity. The Cat-&-mouse friendship soon catches the attention of Slither, a juvenile python. Slither is slightly over a metre long, and although Sid and Brad can be considered prey, they are still considerably too large a meal for Slither to shallow. The same cannot be said of Pink, though. Pink is one meal that Slither will thoroughly enjoy, since it means that Slither can go at least a few days without having to go through the hassle of hunting for another meal. Snakes are cold blooded creatures with low metabolism levels, and hence consume food at a slower rate than the more hyperactive mammals.
Scene 3: Waiting for Sid to leave the farmhouse, Slither finds a convenient spot where Sid will not notice him amongst the grass, and coils in anticipation of Sid, who unwittingly strolls along the ambushed route to a trash can shelter at the outer edges of the ranch. Slither ambushes Sid, coiling its slithery body around him and constricts him. Sid meows in fright)
Sid (Meows in fright): What the……… what the hell is this?
Slither (Hisses menacingly): Stop struggling, if you want to live.
Sid (Stops struggling): Ok, ok, whatever you say Mr Snake.
Slither (Loosens grip): Now, that’s a good pussy cat.
Sid: What do you want of me, you slithering bastard?
Slither: Relax, you fat-assed pussycat. You are a little too big for my liking. Besides, I am on a diet.
Sid (Laughs, nervously): Never thought snakes actually do love slim figures. Really.
Slither (Menacingly): More of this talk and I shall break every piece of bone in your body.
Sid: I am sorry. So what do you want from me then, since you are not going to have me for lunch?
Slither: I have but a simple task for you. One you should be able to accomplish without much difficulty.
Sid (Nervously): And what exactly do you have in store for me?
Slither: Lead the church mouse to this very exact location tomorrow, on the stroke of noon, where the sun rises highest in the sky, and let me consume his flesh.
Sid (Shocked): No way! I won’t do that, you cunning serpent! I will never betray my friend!
Slither (Raises an eyelid): Are you sure you wouldn’t do a hungry serpent a small favour?
Sid: Your request is formally denied. I will never betray my friend! Never!
Slither (In a conciliatory tone): But he’s never been a friend to you. You have meant to consume him yourself, haven’t you?
Sid (Stutters a bit): Yes, so I did.....once.......but......but I have since learnt the error of my ways!
Slither: But you are still eating other mice, aren’t you?
Sid (shakes head rigorously): No, this days I merely eat fish bones and whatever leftovers in the trash I scavenge. No longer will I lay my paws on one single church mouse.
Slither (Laughs): Ah…… the clean, holy life. But ask yourself, my dear pussy cat, is your sacrifice worth it? All your sacrifices, for the mere companionship of a mouse? What about your other cat friends? Don’t you share a close kinship with them?
Sid (Sternly): The other Cats, they do not believe in God, they are infidels. They will never be my friends.
Slither (Surprised, shocked): You will actually abandon your species and cuddle up with a member of a weaker species, for the sake of a deity? A cat, sparing a thought for its prey? Truly, you are pathetic, my dear cat.
Sid: God is an Almighty God! You will be punished for your evil deeds!
Slither: Oh really?
Sid (Irritated, and scared): Let me go, and perhaps God will spare your life, you miserable, legless devil-of-a-creature!
Slither (Laughs): I hold no fear for your God. All I want of you is your cooperation, not your life. Cooperate with me, and you shall live. Or else I shall crush you and shallow you whole, which is an act I truly do not wish to commit. You are too large a prey for a python my size, and unless I am at my wits end with regards to a hearty meal, I will have no choice but to take the risk and swallow you, whiskers and all, whole. You understand my predicament, don’t you?
Sid (Tilts head to one side): Do what you must then. I shall have no regrets.
Slither (Angrily): Do not speak too soon, Pussycat. Allow me to dissuade you from your death pact with a little pain.
(Slither’s body tightens its hold on Sid, ensuring that Sid feels the constrictive powers of his hold)
Sid (Meowing, screaming): Please, stop! Please!
Slither (Smiles cunningly): Now, will you yield to my request?
Sid (Groaning): Damn you, snake! (Slither further tightens his hold) Ok, (Coughs) ok! I surrender! I shall do as you have instructed. Now release me!
(Slither releases its hold, Sid jumps away from Slither’s hold)
Slither (Smiles): Now that’s better. By the way, my name is Slither, what is yours?
Sid (Angrily): Screw you, damn serpent!
Slither: Whatever. Do not forget your promise to me. I await your good news tomorrow at high noon. Should you renege your promise to me, I assure you, I shall hunt you down to the very ends of the Earth. Do you understand?
Sid (Cries): You have your deal. Now leave me alone!
(Scared out of his wits, Sid dashes towards his trash-bin home. Throughout the night, Sid is in a terrible mood; he has no desire to become a personified version of Judas of Iscariot, but like all pussycats, Sid‘s first priority is always himself. Upon intense soul-searching, he has made the gut-wrenching decision to betray his one and only church mouse friend.
Scene 4: It is rise and shine on the farm again; Pink is reading his scriptures as usual, oblivious to the fate that awaits him. Brad makes an effort to wake up very early, and after Pink is done with his prayers, Brad comes up to him for a heart-to-heart talk)
Pink: What troubles your heart so, old friend?
Brad: What do you think?
Pink (Laughs heartily): We are not talking about Sid again, are we?
Brad: Somehow or rather I don’t think the pussycat is up to any good. I suggest you stay clear of him.
Pink (Shrugs shoulder): I thought we have gotten over this issue already.
Brad (Annoyed): Damn it, Pink, a cat’s still a cat. A leopard can never change its spots, let alone a cat. One day he’s going to have you for a meal, and you won’t even know it!
Pink (Confidently): I have converted him to God. He no longer eats mice. He eats cat’s food and corn from the fields, and leftovers from the trash bins.
Brad: Look Pink, I am not a wise old dog for nothing. When I look into the pussycat’s eyes, all I see is cunning and cowardice. His eyes are always shifting, and that, my friend, is the hallmark of liars, schemers and scum bags. I bet you never realised that, did you?
Pink (Smiles): You are being paranoid………
Brad (Sulks): Laugh all you want, Pink. As your blossom friend, I am duty-bound to inform you that you are in very bad company.
Pink: I appreciate your concern. You need not worry for me. I am blessed by the True and Living God.
Brad: Believe in whatever you want. I urge you to be careful. I have an appointment with the vet downtown in the afternoon. David will be fetching me in the late morning, after he’s done with his farm animals. Be very careful when David and myself are not around, you understand? Do not even leave your mouse hole if you can, till we both come back.
Pink (Protests): Hey, I know you mean well, but I am old enough to take care of myself without you baby-sitting me.
Brad (Angrily): Don’t forget who was the one who saved you from becoming Sid’s lunch.
Pink (Apologetic tone): I don’t mean to insult you, old friend. I apologise for my callous remark.
Brad: Apologies accepted, I just want you to be safe, you hear?
Pink: I will take care of myself. Now you be a good ole puppy at the vet clinic……
Brad (Laughs): I am going to die soon anyway. I am already 110 (Doggie yrs) years old already.
Pink: May you have more good years ahead, old dog!
(A few hours later, David fetches Brad to the vet. Sid, who has been hiding behind the farmhouse trash yard, awaits, as David’s creaky old van struggles into gear and rumbles off into town. Sid then approaches the farmhouse with the heaviest of heart, while Slither awaits at the pre-planned ambush spot. Slither has been sunbathing himself for the day; he needs the heat to rejuvenate his blood, for snakes are cold blooded animals. Slither wants to be in prime condition, so as to be effective in making the kill.
Scene 5: It is eleven o’clock; the sun’s almost fully high up in the sky. Sid is at the entrance of Brad’s entrance hatch. He knocks it, then enters. Pink, unaware of his impending fate, welcomes him)
Pink (Brightens up): Sid! You are late for your morning prayers! I have been waiting for you for ages!
Sid: I apologise for not turning up on time, Sid. I had a bad stomach.
Pink (Looks worried): Oh, I am so sorry to hear that, Pink. How are you feeling now?
Sid (Acts sick): Still a little tipsy from my exertions, Pink.
Pink: Would you like to see a veterinarian?
Sid ( fakes a painful laugh): No way, Pink! I am an unwanted street cat. The vets, they will send me to the cathouse, and I shall be put to death in no time.
Pink (Worried): Well, that may or may not be true. Would you want to rest here?
Sid: No. It won’t be convenient. Your owner may come back anytime. (Pretends to faint) Oh I feel terribly woozy………
Pink: Hang on Sid! I will escort you to your residence! Where do you stay, by the way?
Sid: Across the ranch, inside a unused dustbin in a trash corner.
Pink: Come, allow me to escort you to your home. You need a good rest and a lot of water.
Sid (Tears in his eyes): Thank you, Sid. You are truly my best friend.
Pink: Don’t you get mushy with me, Mr Cat. Come, we shall be on our way.
(Pink holds Sid by his paw, and attempts to escort Sid home, which inevitably leads to the ambush point. Waiting at the ambush point, Slither caught the scent of the warm blooded mouse, and waits eagerly to strike.
Scene 6: Pink is ambushed by Slither, Brad jumps aside, and watches as Slither wraps its slithery body around Pink in what can be considered as a deadly embrace for the little mouse.)
Pink (Squeaks in pain): Urgh!!! What is the meaning of this?!
Slither (hisses in delight): Finally, I have you in my grasp!
Pink (Writhes in pain, turns to face Sid): Sid! Why Sid? Of all animals, why you, Sid?
Sid (guilt-ridden): It wasn’t my fault! That snake made me do it!
Slither (Laughs): Let me give you a piece of advice, little mouse. The more you resist, the tighter it gets. Stop struggling and I shall grant you a painless, instantaneous death.
Pink (Struggles harder): Damn you, snake, you……the Accuser of Our Brothers, Lucifer, Demon………
Slither (Laughs): Call me whatever you want. The name’s Slither the Snake Kid. It doesn’t matter now, mouse, just shut up, slip away, and die.
Pink (Pain intensifies): Urgh…Sid, why, why did you betray me? Don’t you know he is the Devil? Your soul is doomed………
Sid (Crying): (Sobs) It wasn’t my fault! The snake’s going to have me for cat-steak if I didn’t do exactly as he instructed. I had no choice, Pink, but to lure in into this ambush. (Sobs): Don’t worry Pink, you can die easy. I assure you, I will continue to say my prayers, read the scriptures, and carry on with the doctrines you have passed to me.
Pink (Delirious with pain): You…… you…………
Slither (Cuts in): I suggest you stop struggling, little rat. The more you struggle, the more intense the pain. Relax, and I shall grant you a painless death.
Sid (Meows and whines): It is not my fault, Pink! The snake made me do it!
Pink (Pale and dying): You…… you, betrayed me………
Sid (Hysterical): I am sorry…………
Slither (Amused by the theatrics, cuts in): Both of you, I believe the charade has gone on far enough!
Pink (Mad with pain, scream): Damn you snake! May your soul rot in the pits of hell for the rest of eternity!
Slither (Laughs): You’ve got guts, little one. I believe I have let this little side show gone on far enough.
Sid (Whining, barely audible voice) :”Pink, I am sorry……”
Slither: Oh shut up, pussycat. I shall not eat your friend in your presence, as a mark of respect to you for your role in my little meal. Now, go on your merry way and don‘t come back! Brad will kill you if you do.…
(Sid runs off, sad, guilt-ridden and remorseful; Slither the serpent swallows Pink in one gulp, whole. The religious mouse has lost its life to the serpent, while the Cat mourns for its friend and saviour. In the end, Pink loses his life, and Brad loses his blossom friend. As for Sid, without the spiritual guidance of Pink, gradually loses all inklings of Pink and his wacky beliefs. He is soon back to his normal self, doing what cats do best; hunting and killing church mice with glee. In death, Pink has lost his sole feline convert. A true parody indeed, for religion has lost its only link to the animal kingdom)
Sunday, 26 August 2007
One of the really daffy explanations used by theists to validate the assistance of God may be the philosophical and mathematical philosophy of the Pascal's Wager.
Written by Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, Pascal sought to reconcile the belief in God with mathematical probability as well as a somewhat cheesy, one-sided view of belief: That a belief in something is better than a belief in nothing, since a belief is considered "infinite" in comparison to non-belief.
In Pascal's unfinished treatise, the Pensees, Pascal postulates that reason cannot be used as a determinant for the choice of belief:
"If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is....
..."God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions."Pascal thus assumes two basic suppositions:
i. We have no evidence to make of with regards to the existence of our souls, much less the existence of a supposed heaven or hell. In order for Pascal's Wager to run its course, one has to assume that a real, non-material soul exists, a case of "heads of tails", or the flip of a coin, so to speak.
ii. Since reason can neither make a preposition nor a decision for us, we must then choose between belief or non-belief; because we have no foreknowledge with regards to the existence of God, it would be a more sensible option to pick on the safer side, even if we must choose on the side of error:
"......Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. 'That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much.' Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite."
Here, Pascal speaks of staking a person's current life on this planet as a hedge bet for his eternal soul: Given that a person has no inkling of his prospects after death, he faces an eternity either as an unfortunate victim of hell, or an eternal existence in heavenly bliss.
To summarize, Pascal wager states two major suppositions:
1. If you believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.
2. If You do not believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to hell, your loss is infinite.
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.
The mathematical calculations are as follows:
|God exists (G)||God does not exist (~G)|
|Living as if God exists (B)||+∞ (heaven)||−N (none)|
|Living as if God does not exist (~B)||−∞ (hell)||+N (none)|
Mathematically speaking, using the parameters as set by Pascal, Pascal's Wager (based on playing on the safe side of belief) is a bet based pretty much on common sense and a great dose of pragmatism: Regardless whether God exists or not, you do not stand to lose everything.
The Real Wager
The real wager, however, does not constraint belief within the confines of just one singular religion (In the case of Pascal, it was Christianity he was alluding to. Buddhism also has a similar argument).
The equation changes, however, if we add a few other parameters to the list.
i. A belief in a non-existent God isn't a negligible result (N), as assumed by Pascal: Because belief requires both expending energy, resources and time, if the God you do believe in does not really exist, then it will really be a rip-off for the believer, or the congregation of believers who, through blind faith and Pascal's wager, have pinned their eternal hopes on the deity in question.
ii. That there are a myriad of other religions, and that each religion will make similar assertions with regards to the existence and exclusivity of their deities. In this case, we will have to add a myriad of, perhaps upwards of a few thousand other possibilities: Each religion and deity represents a real case for the rivalry of belief, and since Pascal's wager does not account for any sort of proof and evidence, a believer has to resort to blind faith and dumb luck in choosing his right religion.
iii. Suppose a real deity exists, and he or she is amongst the contingents of Gods and Goddesses worshiped by reverent, pious people throughout the passage of time: Choose the right deity to prostrate yourself unto, and off you go to heaven's realm upon your death. Choose the wrong God, and eternal suffering awaits.
Pascal's Wager: Not A Reasonable Concept
Because Pascal's Wager is based on the choice between one religion and non-belief, it is not exactly a true collation of reason and belief.
That a pantheon of past Gods and Goddesses have accompanied past civilizations and walked straight into the annals of history books, is a good indication of the frivolity and incompatibility of religion with any concept of truth.
If Pascal's Wager has any ounce of truth in it, it is that Pascal has rightly elucidated the fact that reason has nothing to do with choosing a religion, and that if anything else, religion is a terrible bet to hedge all your time and energies onto.
-"Suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder." - Jolly Good Homer
Friday, 24 August 2007
The Ultimate Stupidity of The Pentagon: Not Enough Armour Going Around, Try the Bible Package Instead
While much has been said and hurled in the face of the Bush Administration, due in part to their farcical and almost non-existent reasons for sending an occupation into once-independent Iraq, most of the detractors, including myself, cannot help but gasp in shock disbelief at the ridiculous incompetency of this woefully inept Administration.
According to the latest news from Iraq, US soldiers are in Iraq are getting far less specialized armored vehicles than designated, which really reeks and stings of political and military bureaucracy, considering that Americans are dropping like flies almost everyday from booby-trapped road side bombs:
Excerpts from Yahoo:By Kristin Roberts Reuters - Wednesday, August 22 08:25 pm
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. troops in Iraq will receive at least 1,000 fewer special armoured vehicles than expected this year due to the amount of time needed for shipment, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
"If we could get 1,500 to theatre by the end of this year, that would be a positive development," Morrell said.
Such breath-taking callousness towards America's troops by the Bush Administration is baffling, even if the insipid Republicans have a tendency of trivializing civilian deaths (remember "collateral damage"? A very stylishly-designed phrase used to designate friendly or civilian deaths): After all, these are Americans who have been dispatched into Iraq, a broken nation that seems destined to descend into a hopeless whirlpool of sectarian violence, anarchy, and religious extremism. And in the midst of it all, the American government is sending its sons into war.......without adequate armor?
Anyone in the US Congress or Senate with a decent sense of patriotism and common sense should at least bring out the issue, but wait......it seems, the Pentagon has hit upon a glorious, unprecedented idea! Now what would that be.......???No Armour? Fine, We will Ship in the Bibles!
Alright, ye condescending folks! So the Pentagon doesn't really have the adequate resources to "ship out" these life-saving army equipment...... not a problem! Ye of little faith, don't think the Pentagon generals are just sitting on their arses doing nothing......at least they are sending in the replacements.......oh yes, some replacements..........bible packages!!!
Holy shit, just as we thought the Bush Administration hasn't screwed things up any worst, the Pentagon wants to send "freedom packages" to its beleaguered troops!
According to LA Times.com (reposted from www.richarddawkins.net), the freedom package is a real must-have, almost equivalent to the MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat):
1. Bibles, translated into English and Arabic: A chance for evangelical Christian soldiers to proselytize to the "infidel" Muslims????
2. The apocalyptic computer game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers. What a real novelty for the common foot soldier, who has to contend with all the slaughterings, as taking chances of being slaughtered on an almost daily basis.
Fortunately (or rather unfortunately, for those religious eager beavers in the US armed forces), a timely intervention and subsequent intervention by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation gave the Pentagon cold feet: The Pentagon disengaged from the project entirely.
I seriously cannot fathom how a leading military organization with as much reputation as the Pentagon can operate a war in such a dreadful manner: Instead on focusing on the more humane and practical aspects of war, the Americans are being hoodwinked and misled by a woefully incompetent misfit that relies on supernatural deities and religious hucksters to lead them by their noses.
Morals and ethics aside, as a former navy man myself, I find it thoroughly disgusting and abhorrent when the military leadership places the priorities of faith and religion over the safety and welfare of its own troops: Not only is this a form of treachery, it speaks of a leadership that has all but given up on its troops and the wars it has initiated.
Pentagon Flirts With Evangelical Groups
Another disturbing trend that emerged from the initial investigation was the Pentagon's somewhat discomforting relationship with Evangelical Christian groups.
As if the situation in Iraq is not volatile enough (Shiites vs Sunnis, Korean Christians kidnapped by Talibans, etc), these evangelical groups, such as the recent Korean Christians who were unfortunate enough to be kidnapped (2 has since been killed, 2 released. Where was God when they needed him most???), are akin to children playing with fire. The addition of evangelical christianity into what is already a potentially explosive cauldron of sectarian violence and deep-seated enmity between religious sects can only worsen the situation, as if it wasn't bad enough already.
As LA post elucidates:
The packages (Freedom Packages) were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the "Military Crusade."
Ah, the beautiful Crusades, the "Eternal" battle for human souls: Like their Muslim counterparts, these Christian "Crusades" may actually be itching for a share of the fight. By turning this into a bloody crusade, the evangelical agenda may be an all-out battle against the Muslim "infidels".
Without a shadow of doubt, these Christian fundamentalists have gone through great lengths to influence the Pentagon, and I am beginning to see a continuous pattern in the insurgency: Instead of turning the heat on Americans and the occupational forces, both the Muslims and Christians are turning on the heat on one another.
Turn the clocks back a couple of hundred years folks: We are now officially living in the fucking, good ole days of the Crusades.
"There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages." - Richard Lederer
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Science, it seems, has been quite succinct and lucid with regards to its proof-alluding stance: With each and every discovery, Science has unraveled the truths behind the mysteries of many a phenomenon: We now know that the eclipse is not the result of a cataclysmic battle between dragons and demons, and that if we sail far enough to the "furthest corners" of the Earth, we will not drop off the face of the Earth.
Yet, despite mountains of evidence science has produced with regards to natural history and biology, we are still told, time and time again, that God created the world in 6000 Man-years (I use "man-years" because some theologians, in a bid to side-step the conundrum and reconcile theology with science, may actually claim that a year may be actually a couple of thousand years longer), and that Intelligent Design, not Evolution, is the prime instigator and mover of life on Earth.
By circumventing evidence and massively reducing the age of the Earth (4.5 billion years to 6,000 years: That is equivalent to miscalculating the distance between Los Angeles to New York from a couple of thousand miles to several yards!), ID specialists have not only driven Evolution out of the equation, they have included a new "God" hypothesis: This myriad of life, it seems, is the product of God, not random genetic permutation vetted by natural selection. And to finish this rather infantile fairy-tale fantasy, we are told that God's creation is "perfect".
What these ID morons can't explain to you, however, is how a "perfect" creation could be so insanely screwed up: Much of what is being thought by ID proponents is how "wondrous" these creations are: The Intricate "design" of the eye, the insane fluttering of the hummingbird's wings, and other so-called "irreducible complexity".
In this post, I shall attempt to debunk, at the very minimum, the "Intelligent" from the Design.
(For the purpose of this post, I will be introducing some rather "unsavory" pictures. So, if you think you have a problem with a tiny bit of violence and the sight of two-headed beasts, kindly head the other way.)
Problems with Genetic Replication
One of the most fundamental features of all life on Earth is the genetically-inherited ability of replication: Whether it is cellular division, or the fertilization of embryos via the merging of sperm DNA, plants and animals which are capable of replicating their own carbon copies will ensure the survival of their own species; those that don't, well, they go extinct.
Unfortunately, this ability to replicate has an inane ability to fuck up, sometimes through environmental anomalies, others through sheer chance.
While some mutations are harmless or may even be beneficial to the lucky animal, most mutations turn wry; growing an arm in the chest, an extra head attached to your body, or other genes that cause debilitating diseases such as muscular atrophy and the like.
Conjoined Puppies: The Direct Result of Partially Split, Fertilized Embryos.
An Unfortunate Child Born With Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Intelligent Designers, however, will have a more difficult time: While they can point towards anthropocentric argument of the "Original Sin" and blame Man for such an abysmal representation of their incredulous God, they cannot explain why such mutations happen to virtually every species of life. Does the frog with multiple limbs and the hopelessly inseparable puppies deserve their freakish forms because of Man's "Original Sin"??? Try asking this inexplicable question with regards to the poor baby with spinal muscular atrophy, and one could not help but lament the callousness and ridiculous stupidity of such an unscientific, moronic explanation.
The Food Chain: The World's One Giant Restaurant
Food, glorious food! Little on this planet can equal the pleasures of savoring great, tasty gourmet in an extravagant restaurant (other than a sexually orgasmic experience), but for the unfortunate beasts who forfeit their lives for the sake of your palate, nothing is worst than being impaled by sharp teeth and talons.
Mother Nature, savage as she always has been, is always keen for more bloodshed. Lions batten upon lambs; wolves sink their teeth into hapless rabbits; these are all inescapable, utterly deplorable acts of nature which we, as humans, sought to get away from because of its utter and undeniable misery. And to cap it all, every creature that perishes outside the murderous knives of Mother Nature's butcher knives inevitably becomes decomposed: Huge, almost android-like armies of beetle dungs, worms and other creepy crawlies awake in the dark, waiting to scavenge and break up dead carcasses and even shit into recyclable material to be returned to the soil: The same dark comedy is winded and re-winded, over and over again, like a convoluted version of "The Never ending Story of Neverland".
In short, Nature is a classic, brutal comedy-cum-cycle of birth, life and death, and if there is any consolation to it all, it is that when everything is done and over, you don't get to experience it again (The theists have another different story contradictory to mine, but that's for another day). If anything else, the food chain, as it is aptly named, seems more at home with a butcher's or mass murderer's design than a Godly one. Do IDers seriously want to equate God with such a heinous, sadistic "Design"????
If, as Intelligent Design proponents would have you know, that all this is the result of "Intelligent Design", they might want to re-look at all the evidence and ask themselves whether such deluded nonsense can be marketed to the masses.
After all, who wants to worship a God who has the impulse of a crazed, psychotic madman?
Saturday, 18 August 2007
As an avid cartoon fan, "The Simpsons" animated cartoon sitcom is my favorite satirical series that revolves around the Simpsons family in the fictional town of Springfield. Homer Simpson is the head of the household; a blue collar worker (he works in a nuclear plant), he is the archetypal, all American character. Rude, boisterous, and a border-line drunkard, Homer Simpson epitomizes the behavior of a "seen-it-all" middle-aged, middle-class man with a job, a wife plus a few "nice" kids.
Viewers will, without doubt, be acquainted with the ethics and outrageous behavior of Homer Simpson, whose shabby, erroneous ways are his hallmarks, and what is not often discussed about the Simpsons sitcom is the quips and sometimes nasty jokes on religion (particularly Christianity) and God. Homer's wife, Marge, often drags the whole family to church, and Homer's rants and grunts to get away from the farcical, religious functions tend to invoke a general feeling of good-natured criticism against religious fundamentalism and extremism.
In this post, I will attempt to present some standard quips from Homer Simpson.
1. On God:
"I've always wondered if there was a god. And now I know there is -- and it's me."
2. God, Milk & Cookies
"Dear Lord: The gods have been good to me. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here's the deal: You freeze everything the way it is, and I won't ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, give me no sign. Thy will be done."
3. Homer, On Avarice
"Good drink... good meat... good God, let's eat!"
4. Morals of Homer Simpson
Stealing? How could you?! Haven’t you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church? Captain what’s-his-name? We live in a society of laws. Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies? For fun? Well, I didn’t hear anybody laughin’, did you?”
5. Is God Superman???
"I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman!"
6. Girl Sports & The Bible
"If the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn't, it's that girls should stick to GIRLS sports, such as hot oil wrestling, foxy boxing, and such and such."
The Best Quote from Homer Simpson?
"Suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder."
Monday, 13 August 2007
Its a sad, torrid tale: Rape, one of the worst, dastardly tools of human rights violation, particularly so when used as weapons of war, as in the recent case of the Darfur crisis and the Japanese Army's blatant use of "comfort women" during World War II.
Of course, the situation is worsened and horrendously multiplied for the raped woman who simply has no recourse to safe, medical abortions, no thanks to the Vatican's ongoing campaign of outright stupidity that equates abortion with murder. Save the fetus, so the argument goes. The fetus, as a multi-celled organism spawned by the assimilation of sperm by the female egg, apparently has more rights than the mother, who, even after being raped, has to undergo the torment and anguish of bearing the child of the man who violates her. While the poor victim has no say in her rape predicament, the very least the medical profession can do is to offer her after-morning pills or abortion to ease the pain.
Nay, says the archaic, oppressive Vatican, the head honcho of roughly a billion Catholics. The sanctity of the fetus far outweighs the rights and plight of the unwilling mother.
Amnesty Internationals' Pro-abortion Stance
With what seems to be one of the few pieces of heartening international news (forget the recent stocks market clash, Korean hostage crisis, etc), the Amnesty International has once again reaffirmed its support for providing abortion services for rape victims.
The fact that Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by British lawyer and Roman Catholic convert Peter Benenson, with the explicit support and blessings of the Vatican, did not spare the humane organization from Vatican inspired vitriol.
Consider the unnecessary vilification of Amnesty International by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: "If, in fact, Amnesty International persists in this course of action, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, Amnesty International has betrayed its mission."
Has, according to the accusations of this good Cardinal, Amnesty International genuinely betrayed its true motto? A look at the Amnesty Internationals' introductory website says it all:
Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.
AI’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the University Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
In pursuit of this vision, AI’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.
Apparently, Amnesty International has gotten it priorities right: Human rights, in this case, means that the rights of a woman takes precedence over that of fetuses. Besides taking up such noble causes, Amnesty International has often led campaigns against other blatant human rights abuses, such as state-sanctioned murder in the form of the death penalty, and the rights and plight of citizens caught in the dreadful crossfires of war.
Why Abortion Cannot Be Banned
The idea that banning abortion is an essentially life-saving ban is innocuous and downright abrasive: People who hold the lives of fetuses with more attached importance than the lives of the mothers ought to have their brains checked for explicit signs of faith-induced stupidity.
Every year, scores of women who undergo abortions under the knives of illegal surgeons die or suffer complications under the hands of these unlicensed doctors, no thanks to anti-abortion laws that limit or prohibit abortions outright.
The only success an abortion ban can achieve is murder: Murdering mothers who, for reasons best known to themselves, have been denied the basic human right to decide for themselves whether to terminate a pregnancy or abort it.
While religious morons can come up with divine purposes and reasonings to validate their anti-abortion stance, the reality is simple to understand: Deities don't go through rapes, nor do they have to wrestle with heart-wrenching, mortal decisions: Humans do. Deities can just fuck off.
The Vatican: The Ultimate Nemesis Against Human Rights
The Vatican, in its stubborn insistence towards any form of birth control, has proven itself to be the ultimate nemesis against human rights. It also highlights the incredulous beliefs of the few old buggers in that silly, opulent enclave-cum-city-state (no thanks to the divine work of Mussolini, who managed to carve up a demon's liar in once-fascist Italy, whose evil will ultimately outlast his), and the idea that these geezers, plus a couple of nuns with their own missionary positions, can enthrall a billion members with their hysterical nonsense, simply beggars belief.
While AI is no doubt Catholic-inspired, I applaud Amnesty Internationals' stance with regards to the abortion issue. By deviating from the Vatican's demented rhetorics with regards to the sanctity of fetuses, the Amnesty International has lived up to its reputation. Common Sense, it seems, has prevailed in this case.
After all, we cannot expect people to hold on to arcane ideas about women being the instigator of the Original Sin, the temptress who deserves to bear the pains of child-bearing irregardless of the situation at hand.
Thursday, 9 August 2007
As an atheist, I find myself having to, every once in a while, muster futile attempts to explain God/Gods/Deities in relation to the natural world around us. As far as atheists are concerned, we live our lives as reasonable, rational individuals, and most of us view religion with some amount of contempt because of its inference to ancient, archaic scribes which hold no basis of truth nor bearing with regards to the progress of human civilization and science.
Yet, because of our non-beliefs, we are considered to be "people of the faith". Strange, argument, huh? The Christian's argument goes along a certain, convoluted train of thought:
1. The Universe and our existence has to commence at some starting point.
2. This starting point is God.
3. To disagree or refute the existence of God requires more faith than to believe in God, since it is almost impossible for us to exist without a definite First Cause (God).
Such a postulated argument is crude: It assumes that a non-belief stance in atheist is an ultimate exhibition of faith, based solely on baseless claims that a mystifying, patriarchal, invisible father must exist to set everything in motion.
The Sinister Meaning of Faith
A closer study of the word "Faith" will allow me to elucidate the impotence of such a moralistic trait.
According to the Oxford's Dictionary:
• noun 1 complete trust or confidence. 2 strong belief in a religion. 3 a system of religious belief.
Faith, in its most common usage, alludes to a inherent system of beliefs that are inanely religious in nature. Such beliefs are rather dogmatic: You believe in a system of religious beliefs not on the basis of any evidence of any kind. Rather, your beliefs stem from a complete trust or confidence in a set or subset of beliefs, and invariably these beliefs tend to wound up towards one goal: God.
Because theists cannot rely on evidence or scientific data to validate their beliefs, they invariably rely on faith to justify their stances. Without an absolutist, rigid belief in the dogmas of heaven, hell, the Original Sin or other similar hogwash, any church would find it almost impossible to sustain a large enough congregation for any extended period of time.
Faith In Action: How Faith Fucks Up Your Everyday Life
I am also told, by Christians no less, that we live our lives via faith, irregardless of our religious affiliations or lack of. I shall attempt to debunk such a debauched argument with regards to the "complete trust or confidence" definition of faith.
Allow me to use the following illustration: Let's just say I am buying a new laptop. I ask the dealer to demonstrate to me the various functions of the laptop, fiddle with it a little, and after a satisfactory review, I decide to buy it. Upon the purchase, I will keep the receipt, submit the warranty card to the manufacturer, and proceed to install the necessary software, assured with the knowledge that the laptop is in tip-top condition, but nonetheless keeping a close watch for any signs of malfunction.
Now, will I be silly enough to say, hey, I have complete faith in my dealer, that this laptop is going to function just fine, and therefore proceeds to purchase the model I am looking for without checking, and just to emphasize my great leap of faith, I proceed to dump the receipt and warranty card in the bin after the transaction is complete? Such a naive train of thought and action would delight many a unscrupulous businessman. In reality, such customers rarely exist, unless, of course, you are referring to the flock of a very large religious congregation (Hint: Think Pat Robertson).
Allow me to go one step further. Suppose I am a human resources consultant. I have been tasked with an assignment: To hire an experienced manager to run a chemicals factory. Will I rely on complete trust and confidence to hire a new guy? Obviously not. I will probably have to run through his CV, peruse his paper qualifications, and perhaps even go as far as to do a cursory background check on him (wouldn't want a potential terrorist to run a chemicals factory!).
If faith is one of the obligatory virtues of a systematic, working world, we'd be served by morons and hucksters and disreputable idiots of all shapes and sizes, and if world events are anything to go by, faith-based initiatives are some of the worst thought-of, awful propagandas ever to make its rounds in government policies.
Abstinence/Faith-Based Programs: Fucking Up the Show
When issues of faith gets muddled with politics, the end result is often disastrous: Bush's little jib-jab with God gave him the impetus to send his erstwhile Crusade in Iraq, and the results are, well, not very encouraging, to say the least (To be blunt, he fucked up the entire show.).
That aside, other "faith-based" initiatives, such as Bush's well-touted abstinence programs aimed at teaching the youth of America to abstain from sex, has been derided for its impotency at reducing STDs and teen pregnancies (link here).
In one of my earlier posts (link here), I wrote about sex as a legitimate, human need, not some kind of heinous, criminal act which must be strung high beyond the reach of sexually-matured human beings. It is a good thing, of course, to preach abstinence amongst teenagers: After all, they are still a little too "green" for the real "fun". But hey, who are we to dictate what youngsters do?
That said, a comprehensive sex education must provide alternatives to mere abstinence. If teenagers want to engage in sexual activity, there is a need to address the issue at face value, which means providing vital information, such as the use of condoms, contraceptives and other important measures for our youths to protect themselves.
Unfortunately, as is usually the case, whenever the issue of faith crops up, common sense is thrown right out of the window. According to abstinence groups who advocate no-sex only policies, condoms and contraceptives are bad for teenagers. Why? Oh, religion and God forbids them, that's why. In Catholic-dominated African countries, lies about leaky condoms and other scary, moronic tales (the one about masturbation causing people to go blind often drives me into a laughing frenzy. If only people are not so gullible....) are bantered about as gospel truth, which is almost senseless, considering the terrible spread of the AIDS epidemic in these impoverished countries. And to add to the ludicrousness of it all, a chiefly mortal issue has to contend with the whims of a imagined, psychotic deity.
As far as faith is concerned, it is like the perverted version of the Midas Touch: Everything it touches seems to degenerate into filthy, dirty scum.
Faith: Over-hyped, Detrimental to the Thinking, Rational Mind
In short, faith is a over-hyped and under-used trait: It can only be used in the context of servile, uninformed religious beliefs, and is often used in hucksterish, sinister means by fraudsters who care naught for the sheep they fleeced.
No one in the sane, secular world can apply the "complete trust and confidence" mode in any conceivable setting, whether it is in working life or school life. Sure, we can trust people and governments within a specific framework (there is, after all, no reason for you not to trust the cashier, but you'd still count your change, don't you???), but that kind of conditional trust cannot be equated with blind faith. Just as you do not vote for Presidents based on mere faith, one should not be expected to believe in silly myths and doctrines based on this largely baseless, servile and nonsensical trait.
By denying the human being's ability to assume a position of decision-making, faith makes a complete mockery out of its practitioners by emphasizing entirely on the basis of beliefs in the form of complete trust or confidence.
Faith as a form of moral necessity? Fuck it! In fact, I would go further to emphasize that faith is not only immoral, it breeds complacency, ignorance and worst, fraudsters who would seize any failure in the thinking faculties of the masses to unleash their weapons of mass deception.
-Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
-Christopher Hitchens, On Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Season 3, Episode 5: "Holier Than Thou"