Month: July 2013

Evolution vs. Comfort

A few months back, I discussed the astronomical stupidity expressed whenever an evangelical tries to refute science.  In my piece, I went after internet preacher and evangelical caricature Ray Comfort and his, “banana as an atheist’s worst nightmare” argument, or as I’ll refer to it, The Banana Fallacy.  In fact, the term seems to neatly fit most arguments presented by Comfort and his ilk, as there are all based on staring at something for a long time and inventing a story that proves God’s plan in place of evolution.  In and ironic twist, the banana is an excellent example or evolution, albeit, directly targeted for the benefit and overall eating enjoyment of humans.  They’re designed, quite intelligently in fact, by humans.

So Mr. Comfort, ever vigilant in his stubborn denial of facts, traveled to various universities to prove that Darwinian evolution is false by demanding that professors and students answer the tough questions.  Incidentally, tough questions involve cutting away before the interviewee has a chance to answer.  It’s all bullshit, but I’ll give it to Ray that it’s entertaining bullshit.  But then, watching liars make themselves look stupid often is.  In fact, someone else made a video showing that not only does Comfort use dishonest editing, he even dubs over his questions to make people look worse.  Most competent preachers, when confronted with their own sins, will readily admit to being sinners and therefore in need of Christ’s Holy Blah Blah.  But the sort of willful fabrication that Ray Comfort practices is an unforgivable intellectual sin.  It only serves to reinforce the gleeful ignorance of religious fundamentalism.

The sort of ignorance to which I refer can best be explained using that most hallowed medium of the national dialogue: bumper stickers.  One commonly seen, sitting appropriately next to Calvin urinating on the main competitor of the make of said truck states, “God said it.  I believe it.  That settles it.”  Some may want to know what God said.  Hopefully it was in the context of the Bible because you’re driving next to this guy and God could be telling the driver to plow into you.  Assuming the sticker is referring to the Bible, one might want to know which version, whether it was perhaps misinterpreted, how can he be sure that God did in fact say it, etc etc.  But any questions you have will have to go unheard, his window is up.  Either way, it’s already settled.  That guy will go home and watch Evolution vs. God, and think Ray Comfort is really onto something.  Those stupid college professors can’t even answer the questions in the .05 seconds he gave them before interrupting.  But that’s the target audience: people with their minds already made up but still willing to blow $19.99 on an hour of nonsense.  You think given the importance of the message, it would be available for free — or at the very least, less than the price of a good movie.  A cynical man might think that Mr. Comfort isn’t  interested in saving souls so much as making a buck off the ignorant masses.

Comfort does preach to the unconverted, ignorant in a different way but trying to learn more masses.  He and his ilk are fond of using a series of questions meant to trap people into admitting they’re sinners.  Have you ever stolen, cheated, lied, used God’s name in vain, etc.  That last one is interesting because to a non-believer, that can’t possibly be a sin.  But surely we’ve all been guilty at one time or another of lying, if nothing else.  Therefore we are sinners.  Then, using a profound leap in logic, he explains how because we’re all sinners, we need God, and Jesus is there to forgive us.  One does not prove the other, but once he’s established that evolution is false, it’s clear that the Bible is true; the Bible being the only possible alternative explanation (and proving it false being a very loose concept).  If preachers want to get deeper, they fall back on the “something from nothing” argument.  If you saw a can of Coke, you would assume that someone made it.  Here’s the whole universe, it couldn’t come from nothing, so where did it come from?  How can you get something from nothing?  A smart person would say they don’t know, but that that doesn’t mean God did it.  And as it turns out, some really fucking smart people are trying to find out.   Conversely, if you ask a preacher where God came from if something can’t come from nothing, they will — like a nine year old kid playing space pirates and saying he has laser proof shields whenever his friend shoot him with imaginary guns — answer that God is infinite and doesn’t need a creator.  It’s a curious bit of mental parkour to be sure.

Nothing in evolutionary theory is incompatible with religious faith unless someone has a need for everything in the Bible to be factual.  One need look no further than Genesis to see that it’s not.  The moon doesn’t create light, men have the same amount of ribs as women, we hold no dominion over viruses (not yet at least).  And snakes can’t talk.  The two accounts of the creation don’t even agree with each other.  Some might think that if it’s possible to reject one thing in the Bible, then they have to throw the whole thing out.  I don’t think they’re far from the truth of it, but that still displays a seriously flimsy belief structure, like a house of cards being assembled by a man with post traumatic stress who is getting shot at.  A God that works within the natural boundaries set by Himself makes more sense, but it would still raise a whole slew of questions that, like every other debate with the devout, would have to come down to faith.  For a religious person, faith is what it’s all about, and that should be all they need.  We could go over what a pointless waste faith is; we could even say that it’s like masturbation without the mess or the fun.  But we won’t, mostly because there’s still a mess, just a less productive one.  

Johnny Depp’s Tonto May *yawn* Offend People

With the impending release of the new Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and some guy in another role, the buzz is already, well, buzzing about whether or not the movie is insulting to Native Americans.  I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you all, it has to be.  We know this because overly sensitive liberals everywhere are climbing over themselves in order to be the first to take offense.  While it’s true that Depp is a white guy, with an undetermined distant native heritage (maybe), and the basis for his costume is the painting I Am Crow by unrepentant white artist Kirby Sattler, we’re still stuck with the fact that no one has seen the movie.  As of press time, the film has not yet been released.  So Depp’s whiteness and his costume are all we have to go on.  For so many writers on the internet, that’s enough.

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Johnny Depp as Tonto. Atheists on Fishing admits that research for this article may have been rather limited

There is something to be said for Disney’s decision to cast Depp instead of a native actor.  Their decision to cast him in Pirates of the Caribbean led to one of the most iconic characters in history.  They must have known that Depp as Tonto would create one hell of a controversy once word got out to left leaning e-zines.  But anyone who thinks that said controversy is an artificially engineered farce designed to get people talking about a (more than likely) shit movie, couldn’t be more wrong.  This is about a white man putting on red face to portray an offensive caricature of a native.  It’s about stereotyping, it’s about cultural appropriation, it’s about marketing racism.  After all, white men in red face is never okay, just ask Espera Oscar De Corti, aka, Iron Eyes Cody.

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The original painting upon which Depp’s Tonto is based: I Am Crow

Iron Eyes Cody was an actor who frequently portrayed Native Americans in film, most famously the single tear shedding Indian in the 1970’s anti-pollution ad.  Cody has been honored more than once by Native leaders for his accurate portrayal of their culture, despite being full blooded Italian.  But Cody’s “red face” offense isn’t a slight on Natives because he had already been honored, and there would have been a whole lot more red faces had they backtracked on all that praise.

Accurately portraying an entire culture in a two hour film with a single character is a most unenviable task.  The best one can do is try to create a sympathetic, complex character.  It’s too bad that most attempts to honor a culture in film fall flat.  The entertainment industry tends to avoid using native characters for anything other than stoic warrior poets fighting to save their people.  The game designers of Assassin’s Creed 3 went so far to honor natives that they didn’t have time to give their protagonist any personality.  In fact, it’s almost a running theme in an overly sensitive media so terrified of offending the wrong people they can’t create an interesting Indian on the big screen, apart from Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, and the Utes in Cannibal the Musical.

The valiant paragons of cultural sensitivity have painted themselves into a corner at this point.  To go see The Lone Ranger is to give money to a potentially racist film, to not see it after such frenzied indignation neglects their duty to accuracy in print.  Getting in for free on opening night to a sold out show on is the only way to go.  They would then avoid contributing to box office sales while taking up a seat that could have gone to a paying customer.  In fact, a free ticket is the only way I’ll go see it.  However, a year from now, when the movie gets aired on Cinemax after the latest Emmanuel soft porn, I might decide to watch it.  If that happens, and the film is as offensive as it’s supposed to be, you can all expect a follow-up article simply stating, “That was fucked up.”

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It’s likely we’ve taken the gag too far at this point.