Mr. Deity and The New Testament

 Posted by on 8 November 2012 at 2:00 pm  Conservatism, Funny, Objectivism, Religion
Nov 082012

Mr. Deity isn’t so thrilled with the new ideas that his son is peddling in the New Testament, but he’s going to enlist Ayn Rand to help him.

(The second half of the video on the election isn’t worth watching.)

Secret Mormon Rituals

 Posted by on 1 November 2012 at 10:00 am  Mormonism, Religion
Nov 012012

Religious rituals are always strange. (Really, how could they not be, when considered objectively?!?) But these secret Mormon rituals are particularly creepifying to me.

Former Mormon Ash Ryan said the following about it on Facebook:

Every person considering voting for Mitt Romney should watch this first.

The endowment ceremony is something EVERY Mormon must do before they go on a mission (which Mormon boys are required to do, at the age of 18 as of earlier this month) or get married (which they do as soon as possible after returning from their mission, or, if a girl doesn’t serve a mission, right out of high school as soon as they can find a returned missionary to marry), usually at the age of 18 or 19. They continue to do it regularly to renew their oaths for the rest of their lives. I’ve done it myself (and shortly thereafter got the hell out). Mitt Romney has certainly done it many hundreds of times as part of his priesthood duties as a bishop, when he would have went through with every departing missionary from his ward during their first time and with every couple getting married, among many other occasions.

And this video, while entirely accurate, doesn’t even come close to capturing the full horror of the experience. It leaves out a lot of the creepiest parts, such as the oath of secrecy in which you swear not to reveal anything that’s going to take place (before you even know what it is) outside of the temple, on penalty of a gruesome death (the oath includes hand gestures simulating having your throat cut, and used to also include gestures simulating disembowelment), and the “anointing of the loins” (I’m not making that up).

But it does include the most important point for present purposes, namely the oath to “consecrate…everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which He may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the Earth, and for the establishment of Zion,” noting that this refers “to the Mormon belief that civil government will be replaced by a religious government administered by Mormons…viewed by many as a threat to the separation of church and state.”

Ayn Rand’s Problem?

 Posted by on 15 August 2012 at 2:00 pm  Christianity, Objectivism, Religion
Aug 152012

A few months ago, I saw this gem on Facebook:


There is so much wrong with that comment that I would not know where to begin. But, if you’d like to rant and rave about it, by all means, do so in the comments!

As it happens, I’ve discussed the incompatibility of religion with Objectivism and capitalism in two episodes of Philosophy in Action.

In the 5 December 2010 episode, I answered a question on Objectivism Versus Theism. The question was:

Can an Objectivist believe in God? Can a person be a theist and an Objectivist? Or is that too fundamental a conflict? If so, why?

My Answer:

Then, in the 27 February 2011 episode, I answered a question on Christianity Versus Capitalism. The question was:

How can a conservative Christian also be a supporter of capitalism? Isn’t the Christian philosophy diametrically opposed to the basic principles of egoism and reason necessary to fully support laissez-faire capitalism?

My Answer:

I’d love to answer a question specifically about the meaning of “mysticism,” and if you’d be interested in hearing me on that topic, please submit it to the question queue.

Ten Commandments, in Law

 Posted by on 6 August 2012 at 2:00 pm  Christianity, Law, Religion
Aug 062012

Christians often claim that the Ten Commandments are the basis of our legal system — as if without the Hebrew Bible, no one ever would have known that murder, theft, and perjury were wrong. Oh, and let’s just forget the commandments that Christians ignore, such as keeping the sabbath and the prohibition on graven images.

Hence, I loved this humorous take on a legal system truly based on the Ten Commandments:

Thanks to Robert N., the cartoonist is Dana Claire Simpson of

Jesus, Prankster

 Posted by on 21 June 2012 at 12:00 pm  Christianity, Funny, Religion
Jun 212012

These pranks by Jesus are downright hilarious:

I’m so glad to live in a culture in which people don’t believe that the prankster is actually Jesus or some other miracle-worker! (Well… some poor souls do seem to experience a few moments of awe.)

Fight Church

 Posted by on 20 June 2012 at 8:00 am  Christianity, Religion, Sports
Jun 202012

I must admit, I’m a bit alarmed by any pairing of Christianity and violence. However, this Fight Church Trailer is so strange as to be funny:

Yes, it’s real, not satire. See the Kickstarter project and this USA Today article.


Pastor John Hagee is no friend of the separation of church and state:

As it happens, I discussed whether the United States is a Christian nation in a recent episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. It’s Question 4 of the 3 June 2012 Q&A. The question was:

Is the United States a Christian nation? People often claim that the United States is “a Christian nation.” What do people mean by that? Why does it matter? Is it true or not?
Listen Now
You can also download the MP3 Segment. It’s just over 14 minutes long.


Not too long ago, I realized that my four-lecture 2010 OCON course — Luck in the Pursuit of Life: The Rational Egoist’s Approach to Luck — is available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore for just $22.38.

Update: As of January 2013, this course is no longer available from ARB. Check this page to see if it’s available now.

Here’s the course description:

Many people think of luck as a metaphysical force in the universe: they aim to increase good luck and decrease bad luck. That’s wrong—but how should rational egoists think about luck? This course argues that we ought to diminish the influence of luck on our lives by more fully exerting our powers of rational, purposeful control.

After defining luck, the first two lectures of this course survey two major false views of luck. The first lecture examines the religious view, exemplified by Augustine, that luck is a mere illusion because every event is the product of divine providence. The second lecture examines the modern egalitarian view, developed by philosophers John Rawls and Thomas Nagel, that luck is so pervasive in life that no one can be said to justly deserve anything, not merely economic goods but moral praise and blame too. These two views of luck are not merely based on false assumptions. When practiced, a person is subject to more blind luck than ever before.

Then the course turns to the rational approach to luck. First, Aristotle’s writings on moral responsibility, plus Ayn Rand’s argument for explicit philosophy, provide a framework for thinking about how to expand our power to shape our lives and thereby minimize luck. The heroes in Atlas Shrugged exemplify this approach, while the villains concretize its opposite. Next, the course considers some of the ways in which the Objectivist virtues make possible greater rational, purposeful control over our pursuit of values. Finally, the fourth lecture discusses some practical strategies for minimizing the effects of luck on our pursuits, with a focus on managing emergencies, increasing productivity, dealing with irrational people, and engaging in political activism.

Dan Savage on the Bible

 Posted by on 29 May 2012 at 8:00 am  Bible, Christianity, GLBT, Religion
May 292012

Dan Savage has taken a lot of heat for these critical comments on the Bible, but dammit, he’s right! Just as modern Christians ignore the Bible’s teachings on shellfish, masturbation, and slavery, they should ignore the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality.

(This post is not any kind of general endorsement of Dan Savage.)

The Aerial Feats of Jesus

 Posted by on 4 May 2012 at 9:00 am  Christianity, Funny, Religion
May 042012

Forget the phrase “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick!” The proper phrase is clearly “Jesus Christ on a trampoline!”

From what I’ve read, the early Enlightenment approach to the historical claims of the Bible was pretty similar. In particular, many scholars assumed that the miracles in the Bible accurately reported what people experienced, and they attempted to find some kind of natural explanation for them. For example, they would say that Jesus only appeared to walk on water, but in fact, the disciples must not have known that the tide was really low, such that Jesus was actually walking in shallow water.

In contrast to that naive view, David Hume cast serious doubt on the reliability of the reports Bible in his chapter Of Miracles in the Enquiry. I always enjoyed teaching that to undergrads.

Also, this kind of silly image is precisely the kind of potentially offensive posting that I discussed in my recent webcast on poking fun of friends’ ideas online. I don’t post this kind of material to annoy my religious conservative friends: I post it simply because I find it funny. They ignore such posts, thankfully — just as I ignore their “inspirational” status updates quoting scripture.

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