I support blasphemy

A columnist in the Cincinnati Post, Kevin Eigelbach, has a few words for Answers in Genesis. He got a letter from them asking for money to protect the Bible from the wicked secularists who want people to think critically about its contents.

Ham fears that one day we'll find stickers inside our Bibles that tell us the Bible is fictional. A friend of his found one in a Gideon Bible in Salt Lake City.

The sticker says the Bible contains religious stories regarding the origin of living things. They are theories, not facts, it says.

"This material should be approached with an open mind, and a critical eye towards logic and believability," it concludes.

That may sound like good advice to you, but not to Answers in Genesis, which defends the Bible from the first verse to the last.

The sticker looks like a parody of disclaimers that the creationism-minded Cobb County, Ga., school board stuck in textbooks about evolution.

Ham wonders if a federal judge could one day order stickers placed in our Bibles, as a judge ordered the Cobb County stickers removed.

He doesn't explain how a federal judge could order a sticker put in my family Bible, or who would carry out the order. His letter builds one little sticker found in one Bible into a conspiracy against Christianity. To bolster his case, he brings in the usual suspects: gay marriage, legal abortion, bans on prayer in school and Christ in Christmas.

I don't have the actual fundraising letter, but it's true that Ken Ham has complained about people putting stickers in Bibles. Here's the text found in one Bible in Utah:

This book contains religious stories regarding the origin of living things. The stories are theories, not facts. They are unproven, unprovable and in some cases totally impossible. This material should be approached with an open mind, and a critical eye towards logic and believability.

Nanovirus posted a similar sticker, and if you'd like, you can even buy one from Cafepress and slap them on every bible in every motel room you find, although it would be cheaper to buy some laserprinter stick-on labels and make your own. Cheaper and easier still, when you find a Gideon's bible in your room, pull out a pen and scribble "Malarkey!" on the first page. You can do that.

Ken Ham calls this "blasphemous." Since when should Americans give a damn about blasphemy?

Of course, this is also something private individuals do (and which doesn't break the law), not an attempt to legislate our godless point of view on public institutions. That's a significant difference between this situation and the Cobb County textbook stickers. (Just a thought…but if anyone wanted to get around that ruling against the textbook warning stickers, one way would be to give out or sell book covers that kids could voluntarily put on their textbooks, just as kids would slap Kiss Army stickers on their textbook covers when I was in school. Perfectly legal, no problems, you could even cover biology books in Bible verses if you want. That, of course, does not force anyone to bear witness to their beliefs, though, which was the whole point of the Cobb County exercise.)

Eigelbach nicely rebuts Ham's scare tactics and false feelings of martyrdom.

What intrigued me about Ham's letter was the idea that there's some vast left-wing conspiracy against Christianity in America. We hear this all the time from fundamentalist Christians. It's becoming so commonplace that we hardly even notice it.

I think most non-believers here, as well as observers from other countries see America as a place where right-wing Christianity is thriving.

I mean, we have a president who's the darling of fundamentalist Christians and a Republican Congress in the middle of passing its "values agenda."

Ham's own views on the origins of the Earth also enjoy widespread support here, more than in any other industrialized nation.

Last year, the New York Times reported on a poll that showed that two-thirds of Americans agreed that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.

About 42 percent agreed that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

But remember, even though religious conservatives have that control and that number of supporters, any problems in our education system are still all The Liberals' Fault.

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Yeah, this thread should attract Jason in a hot minute.

Hmmm... stickers in those irritating little Gideon bibles! Never thought of that...

I'd heard that in Utah they put copies of the Book of Mormon in hotel rooms.

By George Cauldron (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

Hmmm... stickers in those irritating little Gideon bibles! Never thought of that...

It *is* pretty funny. I wonder where one can buy such stickers...

I'd heard that in Utah they put copies of the Book of Mormon in hotel rooms.

In Californian hotels quite often I've seen Buddist books as well.

Yeah, and how about turning that critical eye on the atheist faith that all existence, life, mind and reason itself can be explained by mindless processess.

This has yet to be demonstrated, but I eagerly await the day when atheist scientists quit filling the world with weapons of mass destruction and turn their talents to the creation of life from non life, the imputation of intelligence to that life, and the demonstration that it was all done by a mindless process.

So just do it and quite whining!

By The Anti-Atheist (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

Since when should Americans give a damn about blasphemy?
You mean, "a goddamn".

Ironically, 'give a fuck' wouldn't be blasphemous. :-)

By George Cauldron (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

How appropriate that when I clicked on this post, the Random Quote in the left sidebar was this one:

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." -- Thomas Jefferson

Mr. Anti-Atheist - or should I refer to you as AA - I'd say the burden of proof is on your positive claim that an eternal mind exists. We don't have a positive claim to the contrary, we merely reject YOUR claim. There is a difference ...

Besides, that pesky First Law of Thermodynamics sort of renders your "eternal mind" concept rather superfluous, doesn't it.

Both Bibles I have were...er...borrowed from hotel rooms. I think it's great - if it wasn't for the Gideons, less people would read the Bible and actually find out how batshit crazy it is.

Case in point: Deuteronomy 22, 5:

"The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are are abomination unto the Lord thy God."

Official: god hates not only transvestites, but trousersuits and ladies' size jeans. Anyone want to organise a picket of WalMart?

Or Deuteronomy 25, 11-12:

"When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets:
Then thou shall cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her."

Lesson learned: ladies - if your man is brawling with some other dude, don't grab the dude by the...ah..."secrets" or it'll cost you your hand. Nice one, god of infinate love and mercy.

And those were just the first two examples of the crazy I happened across...

Ham's just projecting. He knows that he's trying to force his views into the secular schools, so he thinks that we're going to force our views into his religion. As usual, fact plays no part in the creationist worldview.

Both Bibles I have were...er...borrowed from hotel rooms

I'm told the Gideons don't mind if people steal their Bibles from hotel rooms. They just want people to HAVE them, which is why they give them away.

My personal favorite part of Deuteronomy:

14.12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and ossifrage, and the ospray,
14.13 And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
14.14 And every raven after his kind,
14.15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind,
14.16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
14.17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
14.18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

So no eating eagles, heretic!

By George Cauldron (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

Ham doesn't have any principled stand. He just wants his views forced before anyone else can "force" their views. His views are Good and Holy, while ours are Bad and Wicked, and therefore they are not to be equated. Nothing but tribal warfare mentality.

And of course it's great that the "anti-Gideons" have hurt poor Ken's feewings, and even set him to a paranoid rant. Lock up your Bibles! The Vast Atheist Conspiracy is after them!

Wanker.

In Californian hotels quite often I've seen Buddist books as well.

I've been thinking of doing the same thing with copies of The Selfish Gene, or Origin Of Species, or The Red Queen, and so on. Fight fire with fire.

It's a shame there's no organised positive response to the Gideons. A "war of books" would be extremely cool, not to mention great for bored travellers.

By Corkscrew (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

...

...

Yeah, and how about turning that critical eye on the atheist faith that all existence, life, mind and reason itself can be explained by mindless processess.

...

Okay, all of you. Don't feed the trolls. Resist the impulse.

Really.

People who say such things are either

1) Pulling your leg, just trying to get a rise out of you. In which case, you chuckle, ha-ha, and get on with your day. Or ...

2) They're so stupid, they're not worth including in the conversation. Michael Jordan wouldn't sneak onto a junior high basketball court to play one-on-one. Don't waste your time here with the equivalent.

My advice is, fight them in your school board elections, argue with them in the newspaper, vote them out of office if you get the chance, campaign against them in your own communities, turn the tables by talking frequently to high schoolers and college students and seducing them away from the brainless grip of their parents' religions.

But don't bother fighting them here. It's a waste of time and energy ... UNLESS, and only unless, you want or need the practice.

...

...

My favorite craziness is from Deuteronomy 23:
12 Set up a place outside the camp to be used as a toilet area. 13 And make sure that you have a small shovel in your equipment. When you go out to the toilet area, use the shovel to dig a hole. Then, after you relieve yourself, bury the waste in the hole. 14 You must keep your camp clean of filthy and disgusting things. The Lord is always present in your camp, ready to rescue you and give you victory over your enemies. But if he sees something disgusting in your camp, he may turn around and leave.
This is absurd in so many ways. He allegedly created the digestive system but finds the aftermath so disgusting that he would abandon his faithful flock just for that reason. He doesn't want to step in poo but considering that he isn't corporeal doesn't that make it a moot point? This is such an obvious way to control people into doing something (granted it's a good thing) that other people want them to do that you would think people would see through it!

What intrigued me about Ham's letter was the idea that there's some vast left-wing conspiracy against Christianity in America. We hear this all the time from fundamentalist Christians. It's becoming so commonplace that we hardly even notice it.

In the fundaloon mind, anything short of a 100% marketshare is decried as an anti-Christian conspiracy.

Frankly, I think that if they want an anti-Christian conspiracy, we should be only too happy to give them one. It's about time they became as afraid of us as we are of them.

Yeah, and how about turning that critical eye on the atheist faith that all existence, life, mind and reason itself can be explained by mindless processess.

This has yet to be demonstrated...

Oh, the irony.

Last time the devil ran through me, I marked up a Gideon Bible by adding footnotes to certain verses referencing other verses which directly contradict them.

Wish I still had a handy template for others to use while traveling.

Or else talk about such great reading material for little children as Noah accidentally exposing himself and his son Ham being a Peeping Tom, or Lot's daughters seducing their father, or the Song of Solomon, or where Jesus Christ recommends making oneself a eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Or else talk about such great Biblical science as Jesus Christ seeing "all the kingdoms of the world" from on top of some tall mountain. Or talk about the different creation orderings of the two Genesis creation stories. Or the two different genealogies of Jesus Christ in Matthew and Luke.

Donald Morgan has a big collection of such Biblical problems.

By Loren Petrich (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

I'm told the Gideons don't mind if people steal their Bibles from hotel rooms.

They don't. There's a little stamp on the inside cover saying as much.

This has yet to be demonstrated, but I eagerly await the day when atheist scientists quit filling the world with weapons of mass destruction and turn their talents to the creation of life from non life, the imputation of intelligence to that life, and the demonstration that it was all done by a mindless process.

Odd, you seem to be way deluded here. Einstein didn't start out trying to build a "bomb". No one I know of, other than the religious, who are always whining about, "defending the faith", **intentionally** build, pay for, or demand the production of huge numbers of weapons of mass destruction. Or did you completely miss the fact that the people running military organizations and the government agencies that "buy" those weapons are nearly 100% universally "religious", never mind the one minor flaw in your logic, that atheists only make up about 20% of the scientists "building" the damn things in the first place... Yep, logic and facts are never relevant when you have mindless, non-thinking, theology.

And, hate to tell you this, but a **lot** of new technologies and software are being developed using "entirely" mindless evolutionary processes, in which the only "intelligent" input is determining which of those algorythms or designs, out of thousands, or possibly millions, will actually serve the intended purpose. You get that? Thousands, or in some cases millions of "possible" solutions are rejected, in favor of the one that works, but all of them "existed", despite the lack of anyone "intentionally designing" them. This hardly helps your case that all things need to be "created", any more than going to a beach, where natural processes wash over and shape stones, and finding the "perfect" rock to tied a rope too means that God placed the rock there "specifically" so "you" could tie "your" boat to it.

My copy of the Book of Moron (Joe Smith said he was shown the tablets of gold on the Hill Cumorah by an angel named Moroni) was taken from a Hilton in Chicago.

Matthew- you're right, that's a good pic!
Kagehi- Your post reminded me of Drive-Thru History on the History Channel. Apparently the only reason that Alexander and later the Romans conquered the areas that they did was so that Christianity could spread. Yep, that show is indeed that stupid.

Corkscrew: There's something like the "leave a book" organization of people just leaving books with notes to others to enjoy them and do the same thing when they are through. I don't remember the name of the organization, alas.

The Gideons do not put those bibles in hotel rooms. They make the maids do it. And you get one bible per room in your establishment, and they take the old ones back.

Every time you steal or deface a Gideon bible in an obvious manner, you cost the maid five to ten minutes so she can swipe one out of some other poor maid's rooms so she won't get yelled at by the super.

Stickers on the inside, writing notes on the inside, whatever. Feel free, and I totally sympathize. But why screw with the minimum wagers, a lot of whom aren't Christian either?

Remember: this is the woman who cleans your toilet and makes your bed. You don't really want her to decide she doesn't have time to wash her hands in between.

Not being one of you able-to-travel-at-will types, the only time I remember seeing a Gideon bible is during a motel room party as a teenager... (what, you didn't have those?)

As far as its worth I have to admit that I didn't read it, and can only attest to the fact that bibles make shitty emergency rolling papers.

Oh, bookcrossing... I did that for a while with spare books back when I was a book dealer. Interesting thing - I got tons of emails from women in Iran asking me to mail them romance novels.

Remember: this is the woman who cleans your toilet and makes your bed. You don't really want her to decide she doesn't have time to wash her hands in between.

I rather doubt that hotel maids consistently check the Bibles in their rooms to make sure they don't have stickers in them or pages removed.

By George Cauldron (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

D. Sidhe: It's _NOT_STEALING_. The blurb on the inside of the Gideon Bible says it's OK for you to take it. Sure, it's a bit dishonest for you to take it if you don't intend to keep and read it, but it's not stealing either. Besides, shouldn't you be out fighting magical crime or something? ;-)

Okay then, every time you take a bible. It's not stealing. Though I think you might be able to make the case that at the point you get to it, it's hotel property, and the hotel *does* mind if you take it.

And, in fact, the maids do consistently check that the bible is still there. Because the super inspects, and if it's missing, you have to go back and find one. You're right that they won't open it, because they don't care, but if it's *obviously* been defaced, they have to get a new one. Some supers are sloppier than others and won't notice, but in my experience they don't get to be housekeeping supervisor because they're laid-back about details.

So do anything you want to it, as long as it still looks okay at first glance. That's all I'm asking. I know it annoys the living hell out of me, a non-Christian, to have to waste time hunting down another copy of the stupid thing.

All I'm asking is that you not make the minimum wagers' jobs harder just to show your contempt for religion.

Why do the hotels care??? I thought they were just being nice letting the Gideons in; I sure wouldn't want to make my employees do more work just because some advocacy group asked me to. If the Gideons want there to be Bibles in hotel rooms, let them check the rooms once a week or once a month or so and restock.

Great post!! And quite timely for me. Monday morning I will be teaching biology to high school freshman (first day of school)...in Cobb County, Georgia. I can't wait!! We'll hit evolution around halloween, but I plan to integrate it into the whole course...

Just checked - no sticker in my copy!!

By lobsterlily (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

I didn't think to check in my Korea hotel, but in Japan (Fukuoka) there was a "Teachings of Buddha" book in the hotel room.

I saw mormon missionaries here in Korea on Friday. Korean ones. And an old lady gave me some little "convert now to Christianity" card in the street last week, though unfortunately it was all in Korean, so I guess I won't be converting.

By jeonjutarheel (not verified) on 12 Aug 2006 #permalink

I know it's a little bit childish, but whenever I am in a bookstore I always find it hard to resist the temptation to reshelve all the creationist books (Behe, Johnson, etc.) that are erroneously filed in the biology section in the religion section instead.

Ahh, happy days..

Lock up your Bibles! The Vast Atheist Conspiracy is after them!

Nah, already I have three well. Unless it's one of the versions I don't have, but I really doubt that I'll find a New Jerusalem or a Hexaglot in a hotel room.

As far as its worth I have to admit that I didn't read it, and can only attest to the fact that bibles make shitty emergency rolling papers.

See, that's the problem... a "Hotel Toke" involves hash, not weed, and you use the bible as the base for the pin.

...in the religion section instead.

I put them in "Fantasy", along with any other woo.

Well they started it, but trying to put religious stickers into science books. It's only fair we return the compliment.

Incidentally, the innimitable Colin Purrington at Swarthmore (for some reason I can't think of him without that prefix) has a template for parody stickers here.

it's hotel property

It's not hotel property any more than a book I leave in my room is hotel property. And all this talk about supers and maids is complete fabrication -- in other worse, you're a lying troll. All those Hindis running motels are, of course, not the ones placing those bibles. As the Gideons' FAQ says:

"The full Bibles and large New Testaments with the Gideon emblem on the cover are exclusively for placement by Gideon members in institutions (other than the church) where people are housed overnight. This includes hotels, motels, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities and similar institutions."

By truth machine (not verified) on 13 Aug 2006 #permalink

What is this Atheist "faith?
There isn't one.
It's like the cretinists going on about evolutionary "faith" - and just another lie.

Unless, of course, it is irredemeable stupidity......

By G. Tingey (not verified) on 13 Aug 2006 #permalink

The atheist faith is the BELIEF that all existence, life, mind and reason itself have been accounted for by mindless processess.

The modern TREND is to define atheism as simply the "lack of belief in God" although this has not been the traditional definition.

But this "lack of belief" still entails the aforesaid faith.

So can all existence, life, mind and reason itself be accounted for by mindless processess?

Such has yet to be demonstrated.

So, I "lack belief in that claim"..

So can all existence, life, mind and reason itself be accounted for by mindless processess?

That may be true. However, 'yet to be demonstrated' does not mean 'did not happen'.

So can all existence, life, mind and reason itself not be accounted for by mindless processess?

Such has yet to be demonstrated. (And, since it involves proving a negative, probably can't be.)

By Peter Holt (not verified) on 13 Aug 2006 #permalink

"I've been thinking of doing the same thing with copies of The Selfish Gene, or Origin Of Species, or The Red Queen, and so on. Fight fire with fire."

The Internet Archive (archive.org) has a Book Mobile that will print books for approximately one US dollar a piece in your home town. Why not give 'em a call? The Origin of Species has returned to the public domain by now.

So can all existence, life, mind and reason itself be accounted for by mindless processess?

What does that even mean? I'm not aware of any aspect of chemistry or physics that requires a "mind" to behave as it does.

Such has yet to be demonstrated.

Again, this is just so absurd. Do you not believe that starts a huge balls of hot gas because no one has created one in a lab?

What do you expect, some scientist somewhere to create an entire universe? If he did, where would he put it?

What do you expect, some scientist somewhere to create an entire universe? If he did, where would he put it?

Everywhere.

And all this talk about supers and maids is complete fabrication -- in other worse, you're a lying troll.

No, actually. I was a motel maid for fifteen years in four different motels and hotels. Believe me, I know how motels work. Which part of it, exactly, sounds like a lie to you? I'm curious, really.

That's quite a charming little tactic. I suggest you consider the people you may be inadvertantly causing some trouble for, and you call me a lying troll? Cute.

It wasn't an attack. Why are you so defensive?

So can all existence, life, mind and reason itself be accounted for by mindless processess?

AA tried to shift the burden of proof... but failed!

"Mindless" is a negative claim. It's a null hypothesis. Science works by assume null hypotheses: the "Not" hypotheses, until they can be falsified. We have thus far been unable to falsify atheism (!theism), a null hypothesis. It's not unreasonable to stick with a theory you've been unable to falsify for thousands of years.

Of course, theists have yet to tell us a good definition of theism and what sorts of evidence it would require, so it's only reasonable to consider theism false for the time being.

Would you trust someone who believes in flarschnikit if he never told you what sort of evidence supports flarschnikit?

Kagehi- Your post reminded me of Drive-Thru History on the History Channel. Apparently the only reason that Alexander and later the Romans conquered the areas that they did was so that Christianity could spread. Yep, that show is indeed that stupid.

To be fair, its an over simplification. However, I have yet to see a religion that didn't insist on spreading itself, which didn't actively promote those that wanted to grab more land and riches from other people. The line between just who the religious promoters of such activities are and the activities themselves can, have, and continue, to become awfully blurry at times. Nor does the usual pointing out of 1-2 **extremely rare** cases where only personal ambition and insanity have driven such conflicts discount the damn near infinite number of religiously motivated ones, ranging from large scale crusades to every petty tribal war where Glug insulted the God of Grog's tribe by accidentally spitting on the God's favorite log.

Give me a break. The statement made was that, "All weapons that kill people, especially the really nasty bad ones that kill thousands of people at once where built by atheists, because atheists aren't moral enough to refuse." My point was, "Most of the people building them are not atheists, the people using them are almost universally not atheists, with much the same ratio of them commiting such acts of mass murder as there are atheists in jails for other crimes, probably around 1%." Oh, and given the fact that engineers are "usually" the ones building these sorts of things, and that the ratio of theists to atheist in engineering is probably closer to 95% theist (if the number of them that insist on babbling about ID is any indication), and thus likely higher than the general population, its even more stupid to equate bomb builders with atheists.

The entire argument is pure bullshit, just as the insane claim, given the lack of any evidence that massive numbers of atheists are, or have been, running around promoting conquest and wars, is complete BS. Claiming that every stupid thing "your side" does is actually the fault of someone *other* group is what started WWII, or are theists the only people that a) don't remember that or b) can't understand why its a bad thing? And don't pull the, "you do the same thing." BS, its factually incorrect, and you know it, if you where at all honest with yourselves to begin with.

Note, forgive me if I am applying the above comments to someone that isn't a theist, but was just undermining my point by throwing the whole thing at as silly, instead of clearifying it. Its hard to keep track of who is who sometimes.

Actually, many places still HAVE blasphemey aws on the books, even though they haven't been used in a century-plus. That's true even here in liberal Massachusetts; technically, denying the existence of god can get you a year in jail. I came across the law recently & wrote about it.

Apparently we're through here, then.

For the record, why *wouldn't* a Hindu motel owner put bibles in his rooms? It costs him nothing, as the Gideons drop off the box. From his point of view, it's another amenity, just like notepaper and menus from the local pizza places, and one that's free to him. It costs the maids time, but they'll make it up in the rooms, because they have to. And people seem to expect it, and occasionally even complain if there isn't one.

Seems a lot more likely than, say, the hotel owner just handing out the master room key to some guy with a box of bibles, doesn't it? And it has the additional advantage of being true.

And, really, even trolls have better things to do with their time than hang around science blogs waiting for the opportunity to tell people to not be mean to motel maids. Seriously, what on earth would be in it for me to pretend I'm a maid? Maybe I'm doing it for the glamour, you think?

I wish I'd had a stack of those stickers back when I was travelling so much. Be nice to return the Gideon favour.

Of course a court requiring a sticker endorsing a religious viewpoint to be removed from a science book means that in future a court will require a sticker endorsing a religious viewpoint to be put in Bibles. Isn't it obvious?

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 14 Aug 2006 #permalink

"truth machine" and others: Unless I have totally misread the comments at Sadly, No!, World 'o Crap, and a whole bunch of other lefty blogs, D.Sidhe's reality-based credentials are unquestionable. And a fair quantity of those comments mention working as a hotel maid, so don't imagine that angle was made up for this thread.

If D.Sidhe says some hotel managers hassle the room cleaners about those Gideon Bibles, then I have no reason to doubt it's true.

I'd heard that in Utah they put copies of the Book of Mormon in hotel rooms.

You don't have to go all the way to Utah to see that. Most Marriotts do as well (Marriott is Mormon-owned).