Category Archives: Off-topic

Happy Thanksgiving — 2014

As is traditional around here, your humble Curmudgeon extends holiday greetings to all, including our non-US readers (nearly half of our readership) who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

This was our original Thanksgiving thread from 2008, which we think it’s still worth reading: Of Plymouth Plantation: “Every Man for His Own Particular”.

It is beyond your ability to imagine how your Curmudgeon will celebrate the holiday here at the fabled CITADEL — the Curmudgeonly Institute for Tactics, Advocacy, and Defense of the Enlightenment Legacy — the secret global nerve center for monitoring events throughout the Creosphere, where your Curmudgeon is headquartered in his luxurious underground control room.

While we’re in a festive mood, we want to remind you that Kitzmas is coming. Next month we celebrate the ninth anniversary of the decision on 20 December 2005 by Judge John E. Jones III in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Because Thanksgiving is traditionally a slow news day, we’ll treat this post as an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — feel free to express yourselves about science, economics, politics, philosophy, etc. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

Before we throw open the comments for the Free Fire Zone, we’ll conclude with our famous guarantee of quality:

Self-Proving Truth Certificate

Everything written by the Curmudgeon in this blog is true. The presence of this Certificate is your proof. Our logic is undeniable.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Halloween in Twenty Fourteen

Jack-Chick-Halloween-2013

The usual creationist websites have disappointed us this year. In past years, we could count on them for some dire anti-Halloween posts, warning the faithful to beware of the evil influences that are unleashed today.

The pic which adorns this post is from last year’s Halloween post — see Jack Chick and Halloween — 2013. It came from a comic by Jack Chick — the world’s greatest theologian, philosopher, illustrator, communicator, and creationist. But he’s been slowing down recently, and this year he hasn’t given us anything.

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) also opposes Halloween, but they haven’t posted anything about it this year. However, all is not lost. We found something at the website of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the online ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo).

AIG’s gift to us today was written by Bodie Hodge, who has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Southern Illinois University. He wisely gave up his engineering career to become a speaker, writer, and researcher for AIG.

Bodie’s article is Halloween History and the Bible. It’s very long, so we’ll extract only a few excerpts, adding some bold font for emphasis and removing the scripture references. Here we go:

In the United States (and other countries), Halloween has become one of the most popular unofficial holidays. On the up side, retail sales boost the economy around this holiday. On the down side, the holiday has become a time of increased crime in many places (especially arson and other acts of violence) on Halloween night as well as the night before. Even the author’s house was robbed one Halloween by forced entry. So, although the retail industry loves Halloween, many police officers and insurance companies dread it! Of course, there is also a tremendous amount of occult activity associated with this holiday.

Yes, a lot of evil is on the loose today. That ol’ devil loves Halloween. Bodie says:

When did this holiday begin and why? Was it of pagan origins or is there something more behind Halloween history? How should Christians view this day in general? To understand these questions further, we need to go back to the roots of Halloween.

This is a splendid example of creation research, but we’ll skip a load of history about the Celts and the Romans and All Saints’ Day and All Hallow’s Eve and other goodies. Then we’re told

Though the origin of this date, specifically for the Israelites, can be traced to Moses, the day may well have been chosen by God going back to previous events, as famous Bible chronicler Archbishop Ussher pointed out (the approximate day Adam and Eve sinned, according to Ussher’s calculations, and God’s subsequent covering of their nakedness with animal skins).

Ah, that’s good to know! Let’s read on:

It seems no coincidence that cultures all around the world in both present and ancient times have had a holiday when the dead were remembered and animals were sacrificed. We can make a pretty strong argument that this holiday goes back to a time when all the peoples lived together — and then they took this holiday to various parts of the world.

Otherwise, it seems strange and difficult to explain how these cultures developed celebrations that are so similar. This would likely push the true origin of “Halloween” and these other “days of the dead” to the time before the dispersion at Babel, over 4,200 years ago, after which different early cultures began to vary in its practice.

Wow — Halloween goes back before the Tower of Babel! Isn’t this amazing? Skipping over an ark-load about Noah and the Flood, Bodie continues:

It should be obvious from a Christian perspective that many modern practices of Halloween and days of the dead have evil intent. There has been considerable paganism that has been associated with Halloween over the years. … So, a word of caution must be given to Evangelicals who promote some of the questionable modern practices of Halloween. If anything, an alternative in opposition to Halloween should be offered by Christians. Psalm 24:1 points out that everything belongs to the Lord. Therefore, there is no reason to let Satan have Halloween. It is not his day in the first place!

Yeah! Phooey on Satan! Here’s more:

Please encourage your pastors and elders to have some sort of church function to counter modern practices of Halloween. Of course, one of the only nice things that Halloween really has to offer could also be involved — sweet treats (in moderation of course)! If a Christian alternative is not possible in your location, then take advantage of this opportunity to share with people the message of the gospel … when you greet “trick or treaters.”

Right. When kids come to your door tonight, give them a Jack Chick comic or something (and blame AIG if your car gets egged). The rest of Bodie’s article is a bunch of bible stuff. Go ahead and read it. We may have skipped something important. If so, please let us know.

How will this humble blog celebrate Halloween? Let’s have an Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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News Void, Therefore Free Fire Zone

These are the days that make it difficult to be a blogger. There’s nothing going on out there. Well, there are a few things.

Over at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog, Casey has a long, rambling post in which he declares that their “theory” claiming the intelligent designer did things is somehow not a God of the gaps argument. You can read it if you like: Alister McGrath Mistakes Intelligent Design for a God-of-the-Gaps Argument. We did. It’s pure agony, with no amusement value at all. But if you think it’s worth discussing, let us know.

Elsewhere, perhaps related in some way to Casey’s post, PhysOrg reports: Astronomers spot faraway Uranus-like planet. It’s comforting to know that 25,000 light years away there’s a planet that resembles Uranus.

And we barely got a peep from the Drool-o-tron™ when it informed us with the blinking letters of its wall display that it had found something at WorldNetDaily (WND). It had locked our computer onto WND’s presentation of the latest video by the brilliant and articulate leader of David Rives Ministries.

The WND headline for this one is Amazing birds ‘hear’ God’s call. In ninety thrilling seconds, the rev tells us that hummingbirds are divinely guided in their migrations.

Because that’s all we could find today — at least so far — it’s time for an Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Historian Claims “Jesus Never Existed”

This has nothing to do with the theory of evolution, but it’s certain to arouse the creationists, so we’ll mention it. Your Curmudgeon is not taking sides in this one. We’ll present the news, such as it is, and then you’re on your own.

The tale appears in the Daily Mail, the UK’s second biggest-selling daily newspaper. The tabloid’s headline screams: ‘Jesus NEVER existed': Writer finds no mention of Christ in 126 historical texts and says he was a ‘mythical character’. There are already more than 2,400 comments after the story. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Historical researcher Michael Paulkovich has claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was a ‘mythical character’ and never existed. The controversial discovery was apparently made after he found no verifiable mention of Christ from 126 writers during the ‘time of Jesus’ from the first to third centuries.

Later in the story there’s a list of the historical writers Paulkovich checked. That seems to be the totality of his evidence. It doesn’t really prove anything, but it’s interesting nevertheless. The newspaper also says:

The 126 texts he studied were all written in the period during or soon after the supposed existence of Jesus, when Paulkovich says they would surely have heard of someone as famous as Jesus – but none mention him.

Wait a minute! We’ve all heard of one historian who mentions Jesus. Oh, that’s discussed:

Of the writings he examined, written from the first to third centuries, he found only one book that contained a mention of Jesus – The Jewish Wars by the Roman historian Josephus Flavius written in 95 CE, but he claims it is fabricated. Paulkovich says the mentions of Jesus were added later by editors, not by Josephus.

Oh. Okay. We continue:

Even in the Bible Paulkovich says Paul, often credited with spreading what would become Christianity, never refers to Jesus as a real person. ‘Paul is unaware of the virgin mother, and ignorant of Jesus’ nativity, parentage, life events, ministry, miracles, apostles, betrayal, trial and harrowing passion,’ he writes. ‘Paul knows neither where nor when Jesus lived, and considers the crucifixion metaphorical.’

Paul wasn’t one of the Disciples, and it’s generally understood that he never met Jesus. It may be that those details are missing from his writings. Here’s more:

‘Perhaps the most bewildering “silent one” is the mythical super-savior himself, Jesus the Son of God ostensibly sent on a suicide mission to save us from the childish notion of “Adam’s Transgression” as we learn from Romans,’ he says. ‘The Jesus character is a phantom of a wisp of a personage who never wrote anything. So, add one more: 127.’

Michael Paulkovich doesn’t hold back, does he? Moving along:

‘Millions should have heard of the Jesus “crucifixion” with its astral enchantments: zombie armies and meteorological marvels recorded not by any historian, but only in the dubitable scriptures scribbled decades later by superstitious yokels.’

One final excerpt, and this one is a bit more restrained:

Paulkovich’s views will surely prove very controversial, as most scholars do not support the theory that Jesus never existed.

Controversial? Yes, that’s a safe bet. What’s your Curmudgeon’s opinion? We don’t have one, because we’ve never claimed to be well versed in theology, and we’ve never studied the historians mentioned by Paulkovich. But we will make one observation: If creationists can deny the existence of mountains of evidence for evolution, is it really outrageous for Paulkovich to mention what he claims is a lack of evidence regarding Jesus?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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