Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We'll Miss You, George Carlin

Funny guy, outspoken atheist, and defender of free speech.

Here are some quotes on religion:
In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman. 'Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.

Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man -- living in the sky -- who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!

But He loves you.

He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!"

I've begun worshipping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It's there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There's no mystery, no one asks for money, I don't have to dress up, and there's no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.

I have as much authority as the pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.

I want you to know, when it comes to believing in god- I really tried. I really really tried. I tried to believe that there is a god who created each one of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that, but I gotta tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize...something is FUCKED-UP. Something is WRONG here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is NOT good work. If this is the best god can do, I am NOT impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently run universe, this guy would have been out on his all-powerful-ass a long time ago.

And here is George Carlin's famous routine that got him arrested and led to the landmark Supreme Court case Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation:

Aruba-du, ruba-tu, ruba-tu. I was thinking about the curse words and the swear words, the cuss words and the words that you can't say, that you're not supposed to say all the time, [']cause words or people into words want to hear your words. Some guys like to record your words and sell them back to you if they can, (laughter) listen in on the telephone, write down what words you say. A guy who used to be in Washington, knew that his phone was tapped, used to answer, Fuck Hoover, yes, go ahead. (laughter) Okay, I was thinking one night about the words you couldn't say on the public, ah, airwaves, um, the ones you definitely wouldn't say, ever, [']cause I heard a lady say bitch one night on television, and it was cool like she was talking about, you know, ah, well, the bitch is the first one to notice that in the litter Johnie right (murmur) Right. And, uh, bastard you can say, and hell and damn so I have to figure out which ones you couldn't and ever and it came down to seven but the list is open to amendment, and in fact, has been changed, uh, by now, ha, a lot of people pointed things out to me, and I noticed some myself. The original seven words were, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Those are the ones that will curve your spine, grow hair on your hands and (laughter) maybe, even bring us, God help us, peace without honor (laughter) um, and a bourbon. (laughter) And now the first thing that we noticed was that word fuck was really repeated in there because the word motherfucker is a compound word and it's another form of the word fuck. (laughter) You want to be a purist it doesn't really--it can't be on the list of basic words. Also, cocksucker is a compound word and neither half of that is really dirty. The word--the half sucker that's merely suggestive (laughter) and the word cock is a half-way dirty word, 50% dirty--dirty half the time, depending on what you mean by it. (laughter) Uh, remember when you first heard it, like in 6th grade, you used to giggle. And the cock crowed three times, heh (laughter) the cock--three times. It's in the Bible, cock in the Bible. (laughter) And the first time you heard about a cock-fight, remember--What? Huh? naw. It ain't that, are you stupid? man. (laughter, clapping) It's chickens, you know, (laughter) Then you have the four letter words from the old Angle-Saxon fame. Uh, shit and fuck. The word shit, uh, is an interesting kind of word in that the middle class has never really accepted it and approved it. They use it like, crazy but it's not really okay. It's still a rude, dirty, old kind of gushy word. (laughter) They don't like that, but they say it, like, they say it like, a lady now in a middle-class home, you'll hear most of the time she says it as an expletive, you know, it's out of her mouth before she knows. She says, Oh shit oh shit, (laughter) oh shit. If she drops something, Oh, the shit hurt the broccoli. Shit. Thank you. (footsteps fading away) (papers ruffling)

Read it! (from audience)

Shit! (laughter) I won the Grammy, man, for the comedy album. Isn't that groovy? (clapping, whistling) (murmur) That's true. Thank you. Thank you man. Yeah. (murmer) (continuous clapping) Thank you man. Thank you. Thank you very much, man. Thank, no, (end of continuous clapping) for that and for the Grammy, man, [']cause (laughter) that's based on people liking it man, yeh, that's ah, that's okay man. (laughter) Let's let that go, man. I got my Grammy. I can let my hair hang down now, shit. (laughter) Ha! So! Now the word shit is okay for the man. At work you can say it like crazy. Mostly figuratively, Get that shit out of here, will ya? I don't want to see that shit anymore. I can't cut that shit, buddy. I've had that shit up to here. I think you're full of shit myself. (laughter) He don't know shit from Shinola. (laughter) you know that? (laughter) Always wondered how the Shinola people felt about that (laughter) Hi, I'm the new man from Shinola, (laughter) Hi, how are ya? Nice to see ya. (laughter) How are ya? (laughter) Boy, I don't know whether to shit or wind my watch. (laughter) Guess, I'll shit on my watch. (laughter) Oh, the shit is going to hit de fan. (laughter). Built like a brick shit-house. (laughter) Up, he's up shit's creek. (laughter) He's had it. (laughter) He hit me, I'm sorry. (laughter) Hot shit, holy shit, tough shit, eat shit. (laughter) shit-eating grin. Uh, whoever thought of that was ill. (murmur laughter) He had a shit - eating grin! He had a what? (laughter) Shit on a stick. (laughter) Shit in a handbag. I always like that. He ain't worth shit in a handbag. (laughter) Shitty. He acted real shitty. (laughter) You know what I mean? (laughter) I got the money back, but a real shitty attitude. Heh, he had a shit-fit. (laughter) Wow! Shit-fit. Whew! Glad I wasn't there. (murmur, laughter) All the animals--Bull shit, horseshit, cow shit, rat shit, bat shit. (laughter) First time I heard bat shit, I really came apart. A guy in Oklahoma, Boggs, said it, man. Aw! Bat shit. (laughter) Vera reminded me of that last night, ah (murmur). Snake shit, slicker than owl shit. (laughter) Get your shit together. Shit or get off the pot. (laughter) I got a shit - load full of them. (laughter) I got a shit-pot full, all right. Shit-head, shit-heel, shit in your heart, shit for brains, (laughter) shit-face, heh (laughter) I always try to think how that could have originated; the first guy that said that. Somebody got drunk and fell in some shit, you know. (laughter) Hey, I'm shit-face. (laughter) Shit-face, today. (laughter) Anyway, enough of that shit. (laughter) The big one, the word fuck that's the one that hangs them up the most. [']Cause in a lot of cases that's the very act that hangs them up the most. So, it's natural that the word would, uh, have the same effect. It's a great word, fuck, nice word, easy word, cute word, kind of. Easy word to say. One syllable, short u. (laughter) Fuck. (Murmur) You know, it's easy. Starts with a nice soft sound fuh ends with akuh. Right? (laughter) A little something for everyone. Fuck (laughter) Good word. Kind of a proud word, too. Who are you? I am FUCK, (laughter) FUCK OF THE MOUNTAIN. (laughter) Tune in again next week to FUCK OF THE MOUNTAIN. (laughter) It's an interesting word too, [']cause it's got a double kind of a life--personality--dual, you know, whatever the right phrase is. It leads a double life, the word fuck. First of all, it means, sometimes, most of the time, fuck. What does it mean? It means to make love. Right? We're going to make love, yeh, we're going to fuck, yeh, we're going to fuck, yeh, we're going to make love. (laughter) we're really going to fuck, yeh, we're going to make love. Right? And it also means the beginning of life, it's the act that begins life, so there's the word hanging around with words like love, and life, and yet on the other hand, it's also a word that we really use to hurt each other with, man. It's a heavy. It's one that you have toward the end of the argument. (laughter) Right? (laughter) You finally can't make out. Oh, fuck you man. I said, fuck you. (laughter, murmur) Stupid fuck. (laughter) Fuck you and everybody that looks like you. (laughter) man. It would be nice to change the movies that we already have and substitute the word fuck for the word kill, wherever we could, and some of those movie cliches would change a little bit. Madfuckers still on the loose. Stop me before I fuck again. Fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump, fuck the ump. Easy on the clutch Bill, you'll fuck that engine again. (laughter) The other shit one was, I don't give a shit. Like it's worth something, you know? (laughter) I don't give a shit. Hey, well, I don't take no shit, (laughter) you know what I mean? You know why I don't take no shit? (laughter) [']Cause I don't give a shit. (laughter) If I give a shit, I would have to pack shit. (laughter) But I don't pack no shit cause I don't give a shit. (laughter) You wouldn't shit me, would you? (laughter) That's a joke when you're a kid with a worm looking out the bird's ass. You wouldn't shit me, would you? (laughter) It's an eight-year-old joke but a good one. (laughter) The additions to the list. I found three more words that had to be put on the list of words you could never say on television, and they were fart, turd and twat, those three. (laughter) Fart, we talked about, it's harmless. It's like tits, it's a cutie word, no problem. Turd, you can't say but who wants to, you know? (laughter) The subject never comes up on the panel so I'm not worried about that one. Now the word twat is an interesting word. Twat! Yeh, right in the twat. (laughter) Twat is an interesting word because it's the only one I know of, the only slang word applying to the, a part of the sexual anatomy that doesn't have another meaning to it. Like, ah, snatch, box and pussy all have other meanings, man. Even in a Walt Disney movie, you can say, We're going to snatch that pussy and put him in a box and bring him on the airplane. (murmer, laughter) Everybody loves it. The twat stands alone, man, as it should. And two-way words. Ah, ass is okay providing you're riding into town on a religious feast day. (laughter) You can't say, up your ass. (laughter) You can say, stuff it! (murmur) There are certain things you can say its weird but you can just come so close. Before I cut, I, uh, want to, ah, thank you for listening to my words, man, fellow, uh space travelers. Thank you man for tonight and thank you also. (clapping whistling)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Atheist 13

I've been tagged by that other Jewish atheist, The Atheist Jew, with a meme of ten questions:

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

There are at least two kinds of atheists: Those who do not believe in God and those who believe God does not exist. I'm among the latter.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

I grew up in a relatively left-wing Modern Orthodox tradition.

Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?


Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

Neuroscience. Also, genetics, nanotech, robotics, and AI.

Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

I'd like to see it become less a community of the bitter and wounded and more a community of those who share a common philosophical stance.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

It depends on the kind of clergy. Humanistic Chaplain/Rabbi? "Wow, that's great!" Orthodox Rabbi or Catholic Priest? "Maybe we should have a little talk..." Ultimately, it's their life.

Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Without God, I can't see how we have free will. It appears that we have free will, therefore God must exist. Curiously, nobody seems to make this argument except me, on Opposite Day.

My refutation is that we actually don't have free will. This has disturbing implications, which I have not yet come to terms with.

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I don't think there is a "general attitude among other atheists." Among atheists are secular humanists, libertarians, Randian libertarians, doves, and hawks. Perhaps I have more respect for some religious people than many atheists do.

My psychologist is an Episcopal priest, for example.

Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Dawkins, by far. Even though he sometimes goes too far as activists tend to do, his book The Blind Watchmaker blew my mind. To be fair, I haven't read much of the others. Hitchens, though, strikes me as a pompous blowhard.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

Great question. Let me think as I type:

Osama bin Laden? Nah, I don't think that would much matter at this point.

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein? Too selfish. While I would love to see a prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi publicly admit there is no God, it just wouldn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately, I'd like to convince that kid or young adult who thinks they're a bad person because of their sexual orientation or sex life or curiosity about the outside world or lack of religious fervor.

Now name three other atheist blogs that you’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:

XGH, although he's only admitted to being an agnostic, Abandoning Eden, and Lubab No More.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Have you seriously considered that you might be wrong?

Modified from a comment which may or may not be deleted at Hirhurim:

It's a dishonest waste of time to argue against points you've never seriously considered might be true. How much time have you honestly spent wondering if Orthodox Judaism is false? Before you argue that the Exodus could have happened, did you really consider the possibility that it didn't? That it's a tall tale at best? Or did you immediately start looking for reasons you could keep on believing what you have so much invested in believing?

I dare any Orthodox Jew to spend 5 minutes imagining that the Exodus never happened, or that much of the chumash wasn't written until Ezra's time. Start with that thought and see how it affects all of your other beliefs. If the Exodus never happened, what does that say about the foundation of ancient Israel? If the chumash was put together around 400 BCE, what does that say about its divinity? Don't let yourself turn away from these thoughts for at least 5 minutes.

Reading some of what passes for arguments for Orthodox Judaism makes me think that many of you haven't considered the possibility that you could be wrong. If you're too scared to do that, you might as well give up the charade that you're engaging with the other side.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Humanistic Judaism: Balancing Continuity with Integrity

I just came across a speech by the late Sherwin Wine, founder of the first Humanistic Jewish Congregation in 1963.

One of his arguments is that many people who belong to theistic religious communities are in fact "secularized" internally, and that this is particularly true of (non-Orthodox) Jews. Humanistic Judaism, then, is an attempt to maintain that secular Jewish culture without having to resort to misdirection, like redefining "God" as "love" or as "nature" or as "the universe." He also points out that a lot of secular people are turned off by the antipathy towards religion that they sense in the humanistic community, which is a result of the large number of people in that community who are there because they were wounded by theistic upbringings.

Anyway, it's worth a watch:

Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's Really Happening

For the first time since 1992, the Democrats managed to nominate a charismatic, optimistic, and energizing candidate instead of an effete, pessimistic introvert. He's going to win this thing and he's going to shift the national discourse back towards the left for a generation, the way Reagan did it for the right.

And he's going to be America's first black president.

230 days until our national embarrassment is gone and we have a president we can be proud of again.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Orthodox Jews and Sexuality

This is just crazy:
So, now we've come to the point where if you dare to compliment your date on how nice she looks, if you even think to acknowledge and appreciate the effort that she puts into looking nice, if you have even a single thought as to her physical appearence, you must be a "sick, one-track-minded pervert."

That paragraph brought back memories! Since I left Orthodoxy, I've hardly heard the word "pervert," but back in high school, it was thrown around all the time. To me, it describes a pedophile, or perhaps one of those people that gets turned on by wearing diapers. To some of my peers, it meant being attracted to girls. (Not that, God-forbid, being attracted to boys was okay!) Say that a girl is hot, and you're a pervert.

I wrote in the comments:
So much religious "morality" can be summed up in the idea that a man who notices a woman's appearance is a "pervert."

And a woman replied:
I don't think a guy is a pervert for commenting on a girl's looks, but it is not always appropriate. One guy I dated told me on our second or third date that he thought I was pretty and it distracted him. I thought it was totally inappropriate and that was one factor in our break-up. His comment made me VERY uncomfortable. I didn't like him enough or felt close to him to accept that comment.

A guy can say "cool outfit" etc. but should hesitate before he says something more personal.

What's there to even say about that?