Is Google Suggest afraid of muslim lunatics?

There have been plenty of blog posts showing funny, risque and sometimes “offensive” results. These “suggest” results are generated from user queries, not Google or the government or a board of parents and religious and community leaders.

But it seems that nobody has every searched for “Islam is”, because there are no suggestions. Well, we all know that’s not true…

They have allowed you to find out that people think Mohammed is a pig and a liar at least (similar results for “Muhammed”).

mohann

HL Mencken on Christianity and Agnosticism Part II

From DAMN! A Book of Calumny

XXXVIII

THE ROAD TO DOUBT

The first effect of what used to be called natural philosophy is to fill its devotee with wonder at the marvels of God. This explains why the pursuit of science, so long as it remains superficial, is not incompatible with the most naif sort of religious faith. But the moment the student of the sciences passes this stage of childlike amazement and begins to investigate the inner workings of natural phenomena, he begins to see how ineptly many of them are managed, and so he tends to pass from awe of the Creator to criticism of the Creator, and once he has crossed that bridge he has ceased to be a believer. One finds plenty of neighborhood physicians, amateur botanists, high-school physics teachers and other such quasi-scientists in the pews on Sunday, but one never sees a Huxley there, or a Darwin, or an Ehrlich.


XXXIX

A NEW USE FOR CHURCHES

The argument by design, it may be granted, establishes a reasonable ground for accepting the existence of God. It makes belief, at all events, quite as intelligible as unbelief. But when the theologians take their step from the existence of God to the goodness of God they tread upon much less firm earth. How can one see any proof of that goodness in the senseless and intolerable sufferings of man—his helplessness, the brief and troubled span of his life, the inexplicable disproportion between his deserts and his rewards, the tragedy of his soaring aspiration, the worse tragedy of his dumb questioning? Granting the existence of God, a house dedicated to Him naturally follows. He is all-important; it is fit that man should take some notice of Him. But why praise and flatter Him for His unspeakable cruelties? Why forget so supinely His failures to remedy the easily remediable? Why, indeed, devote the churches exclusively to worship? Why not give them over, now and then, to justifiable indignation meetings?

Perhaps men will incline to this idea later on. It is not inconceivable, indeed, that religion will one day cease to be a poltroonish acquiescence and become a vigorous and insistent criticism. If God can hear a petition, what ground is there for holding that He would not hear a complaint? It might, indeed, please Him to find His creatures grown so self-reliant and reflective. More, it might even help Him to get through His infinitely complex and difficult work. Theology has already moved toward such notions. It has abandoned the primitive doctrine of God’s arbitrariness and indifference, and substituted the doctrine that He is willing, and even eager, to hear the desires of His creatures—i. e., their private notions, born of experience, as to what would be best for them. Why assume that those notions would be any the less worth hearing and heeding if they were cast in the form of criticism, and even of denunciation? Why hold that the God who can understand and forgive even treason could not understand and forgive remonstrance?


XL

THE ROOT OF RELIGION

The idea of literal truth crept into religion relatively late: it is the invention of lawyers, priests and cheese-mongers. The idea of mystery long preceded it, and at the heart of that idea of mystery was an idea of beauty—that is, an idea that this or that view of the celestial and infernal process presented a satisfying picture of form, rhythm and organization. Once this view was adopted as satisfying, its professional interpreters and their dupes sought to reinforce it by declaring it true. The same flow of reasoning is familiar on lower planes. The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.


XLI

FREE WILL

Free will, it appears, is still a Christian dogma. Without it the cruelties of God would strain faith to the breaking-point. But outside the fold it is gradually falling into decay. Such men of science as George W. Crile and Jacques Loeb have dealt it staggering blows, and among laymen of inquiring mind it seems to be giving way to an apologetic sort of determinism—a determinism, one may say, tempered by defective observation. The late Mark Twain, in his secret heart, was such a determinist. In his “What Is Man?” you will find him at his farewells to libertarianism. The vast majority of our acts, he argues, are determined, but there remains a residuum of free choices. Here we stand free of compulsion and face a pair or more of alternatives, and are free to go this way or that.

A pillow for free will to fall upon—but one loaded with disconcerting brickbats. Where the occupants of this last trench of libertarianism err is in their assumption that the pulls of their antagonistic impulses are exactly equal—that the individual is absolutely free to choose which one he will yield to. Such freedom, in practise, is never encountered. When an individual confronts alternatives, it is not alone his volition that chooses between them, but also his environment, his inherited prejudices, his race, his color, his condition of servitude. I may kiss a girl or I may not kiss her, but surely it would be absurd to say that I am, in any true sense, a free agent in the matter. The world has even put my helplessness into a proverb. It says that my decision and act depend upon the time, the place—and even to some extent, upon the girl.

Examples might be multiplied ad infinitum. I can scarcely remember performing a wholly voluntary act. My whole life, as I look back upon it, seems to be a long series of inexplicable accidents, not only quite unavoidable, but even quite unintelligible. Its history is the history of the reactions of my personality to my environment, of my behavior before external stimuli. I have been no more responsible for that personality than I have been for that environment. To say that I can change the former by a voluntary effort is as ridiculous as to say that I can modify the curvature of the lenses of my eyes. I know, because I have often tried to change it, and always failed. Nevertheless, it has changed. I am not the same man I was in the last century. But the gratifying improvements so plainly visible are surely not to be credited to me. All of them came from without—or from unplumbable and uncontrollable depths within.

The more the matter is examined the more the residuum of free will shrinks and shrinks, until in the end it is almost impossible to find it. A great many men, of course, looking at themselves, see it as something very large; they slap their chests and call themselves free agents, and demand that God reward them for their virtue. But these fellows are simply idiotic egoists, devoid of a critical sense. They mistake the acts of God for their own acts. Of such sort are the coxcombs who boast about wooing and winning their wives. They are brothers to the fox who boasted that he had made the hounds run….

The throwing overboard of free will is commonly denounced on the ground that it subverts morality and makes of religion a mocking. Such pious objections, of course, are foreign to logic, but nevertheless it may be well to give a glance to this one. It is based upon the fallacious hypothesis that the determinist escapes, or hopes to escape, the consequences of his acts. Nothing could be more untrue. Consequences follow acts just as relentlessly if the latter be involuntary as if they be voluntary. If I rob a bank of my free choice or in response to some unfathomable inner necessity, it is all one; I will go to the same jail. Conscripts in war are killed just as often as volunteers. Men who are tracked down and shanghaied by their wives have just as hard a time of it as men who walk fatuously into the trap by formally proposing.

Even on the ghostly side, determinism does not do much damage to theology. It is no harder to believe that a man will be damned for his involuntary acts than it is to believe that he will be damned for his voluntary acts, for even the supposition that he is wholly free does not dispose of the massive fact that God made him as he is, and that God could have made him a saint if He had so desired. To deny this is to flout omnipotence—a crime at which, as I have often said, I balk. But here I begin to fear that I wade too far into the hot waters of the sacred sciences, and that I had better retire before I lose my hide. This prudent retirement is purely deterministic. I do not ascribe it to my own sagacity; I ascribe it wholly to that singular kindness which fate always shows me. If I were free I’d probably keep on, and then regret it afterward.


XLII

QUID EST VERITAS?

All great religions, in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent, who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” asked Paul of the Romans. “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” “It is the glory of God,” said Solomon, “to conceal a thing.” “Clouds and darkness,” said David, “are around him.” “No man,” said the Preacher, “can find out the work of God.” … The difference between religions is a difference in their relative content of agnosticism. The most satisfying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic. It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all.


XLIII

THE DOUBTER’S REWARD

Despite the common delusion to the contrary the philosophy of doubt is far more comforting than that of hope. The doubter escapes the worst penalty of the man of hope; he is never disappointed, and hence never indignant. The inexplicable and irremediable may interest him, but they do not enrage him, or, I may add, fool him. This immunity is worth all the dubious assurances ever foisted upon man. It is pragmatically impregnable…. Moreover, it makes for tolerance and sympathy. The doubter does not hate his opponents; he sympathizes with them. In the end, he may even come to sympathize with God…. The old idea of fatherhood here submerges in a new idea of brotherhood. God, too, is beset by limitations, difficulties, broken hopes. Is it disconcerting to think of Him thus? Well, is it any the less disconcerting to think of Him as able to ease and answer, and yet failing?…

But he that doubteth—damnatus est. At once the penalty of doubt—and its proof, excuse and genesis.


XLIV

BEFORE THE ALTAR

A salient objection to the prevailing religious ceremonial lies in the attitudes of abasement that it enforces upon the faithful. A man would be thought a slimy and knavish fellow if he approached any human judge or potentate in the manner provided for approaching the Lord God. It is an etiquette that involves loss of self-respect, and hence it cannot be pleasing to its object, for one cannot think of the Lord God as sacrificing decent feelings to mere vanity. This notion of abasement, like most of the other ideas that are general in the world, is obviously the invention of small and ignoble men. It is the pollution of theology by the sklavmoral.


XLV

THE MASK

Ritual is to religion what the music of an opera is to the libretto: ostensibly a means of interpretation, but actually a means of concealment. The Presbyterians made the mistake of keeping the doctrine of infant damnation in plain words. As enlightenment grew in the world, intelligence and prudery revolted against it, and so it had to be abandoned. Had it been set to music it would have survived—uncomprehended, unsuspected and unchallenged.


XLVI

PIA VENEZIANI, POI CRISTIANI

I have spoken of the possibility that God, too, may suffer from a finite intelligence, and so know the bitter sting of disappointment and defeat. Here I yielded something to politeness; the thing is not only possible, but obvious. Like man, God is deceived by appearances and probabilities; He makes calculations that do not work out; He falls into specious assumptions. For example, He assumed that Adam and Eve would obey the law in the Garden. Again, He assumed that the appalling lesson of the Flood would make men better. Yet again, He assumed that men would always put religion in first place among their concerns—that it would be eternally possible to reach and influence them through it. This last assumption was the most erroneous of them all. The truth is that the generality of men have long since ceased to take religion seriously. When we encounter one who still does so, he seems eccentric, almost feeble-minded—or, more commonly, a rogue who has been deluded by his own hypocrisy. Even men who are professionally religious, and who thus have far more incentive to stick to religion than the rest of us, nearly always throw it overboard at the first serious temptation. During the past four years, for example, Christianity has been in combat with patriotism all over Christendom. Which has prevailed? How many gentlemen of God, having to choose between Christ and Patrie, have actually chosen Christ?


XLVII

OFF AGAIN, ON AGAIN

The ostensible object of the Reformation, which lately reached its fourth centenary, was to purge the Church of imbecilities. That object was accomplished; the Church shook them off. But imbecilities make an irresistible appeal to man; he inevitably tries to preserve them by cloaking them with religious sanctions. The result is Protestantism.


XLVIII

THEOLOGY

The notion that theology is a dull subject is one of the strangest delusions of a stupid and uncritical age. The truth is that some of the most engrossing books ever written in the world are full of it. For example, the Gospel according to St. Luke. For example, Nietzsche’s “Der Antichrist.” For example, Mark Twain’s “What Is Man?”, St. Augustine’s Confessions, Haeckel’s “The Riddle of the Universe,” and Huxley’s Essays. How, indeed, could a thing be dull that has sent hundreds of thousands of men—the very best and the very worst of the race—to the gallows and the stake, and made and broken dynasties, and inspired the greatest of human hopes and enterprises, and embroiled whole continents in war? No, theology is not a soporific. The reason it so often seems so is that its public exposition has chiefly fallen, in these later days, into the hands of a sect of intellectual castrati, who begin by mistaking it for a sub-department of etiquette, and then proceed to anoint it with butter, rose water and talcum powder. Whenever a first-rate intellect tackles it, as in the case of Huxley, or in that of Leo XIII., it at once takes on all the sinister fascination it had in Luther’s day.


XLIX

EXEMPLI GRATIA

Do I let the poor suffer, and consign them, as old Friedrich used to say, to statistics and the devil? Well, so does God.

HL Mencken on Christianity and Agnosticism

From The New Mencken Letters

“I realize what life must have been in Judea 1925 years ago. No wonder the Romans finally bumped off the son of Joseph. After an hour on the main street, listening to the bawling, I feel like loading a cannon with the rejecta of the adjacent hogs (Sus scrofa) and letting fly. The thing is genuinely fabulous.
I have stored up enough material to last me 20 years.”
-From a letter regarding the Scopes Trail

“So long as there are men in the world, 99 percent of them will be idiots, and so long as 99 percent of them are idiots they will thirst for religion, and so long as they thirst for religion it will remain a weapon over them. I see no way out. If you blow up one specific faith, they will embrace another. And if, by any magic, you purge them of pious credulity altogether, they will simpl[y] swallow worse nonsense in some other department.
This fact constantly forces itself upon me when I read the usual anti‑clerical literature say in Socialist tracts or in such papers as the Truth-Seeker What always emerges is this: that the stupid man, even after he has been convinced that Jonah did not actually swallow the whale, still remains a dunder‑head. Today he is on his knees; tomorrow, emancipated, he snorts with the Boisheviki. Turn to Italy. Anti-clericalism is the fashion—-but the country swarms with quacks. The mob-man must believe something, and it must be something indubitably not true. The one thing he can’t get down is a fact.
For these reasons, it seems to me a waste of time to attack the dominies.
I used to do it for the fun of it, but never seriously. In truth, I can never take religion seriously enough to get in a sweat about it. It simply doesn’t interest me. Ail I ask is to be let alone. If, as seems likely, the present mania for passing Christian legislation goes to such lengths that life in the United States becomes insupportable, I shall move out. But meanwhile what goes on in churches intrigues me no more than what goes on in lodge-rooms of the Knights of Pythias. I know no one who is religious, and hence am not privately bothered.I often read religious books, but only as a relaxation.”
-From a letter to Upton Sinclair

“The God business is really quite simple. No sane man denies that the universe presents phenomena quite beyond human understanding, and so it is a fair assumption that they are directed by some understanding that is superhuman. But that is as far as sound thought can go. All religions pretend to go further. That is, they pretend to explain the unknowable. As I said long ago, they do it in terms of the not worth knowing. La Eddy first borrows the old Jewish God and then offers to tell us exactly what He wants. Illness, it appears, is distasteful to him. He is surprised, and a bit horrified, to observe a Presbyterian doubled up with cramps. He intended no such thing; it is all due to the Presbyterian’s folly. All this, in brief, is buncombe. Anyone who pretends to say what God wants or doesn’t want, and what the whole show is about, is simply an ass.
Eddy’s guess is not even probable. She goes against the plain evidence. That is all there is to it.
In other words, the objection to religion is that it represents an effort by ignorance to account for a mystery that knowledge simply puts aside as intrinsically impenetrable. The more ignorant the man, the more firm his faith. All genuine knowledge is skeptical.”
-From a letter to Marion Bloom

“I seem to have been born a complete theological moron. I have a wide acquaintance among the clergy of all denominations and frequently discuss divinity with them, but so far I have felt no impulse whatsoever to accept their teaching. My father and grandfather were skeptics before me and that fact probably explains my general attitude. I never think of asking supernatural aid in time of trouble, and I am thoroughly convinced that there is no survival of human personality after death. Some time ago a bishop of my acquaintance asked me what I’d do if on dying I found myself at the pearly gates. I told him that I’d seek out the Twelve Apostles at once and say, “I apologize most profoundly”. This, I fear, is the best I can offer.”
– Letter to reader of an article publishedin the New Yorker, 1939

April 16, 1938.
Dear Mr. Rhode:-
I can hardly qualify as an atheist; I had better be described as an agnostic. Your first proposition seems to me to be dubious in its premiss. There is no visible reason for saying that the human mind can comprehend only the products of other minds. Its area of comprehension is, of course, very narrow, but if it encountered a phenomenon disassociated from any other mind it might conceivably comprehend it. Your second proposition is equally dubious. I can imagine a chain of causation going back into infinity, and thus having no beginning in an uncaused effect. Your third proposition may be either true or not true,but if you proceed to the corollary that you know what the purpose of the universe is, you are upon very shaky ground. Your last proposition I deny flatly.
I know hundreds of men who are quite devoid of what you call the desire to worship. You must know plenty yourself.
My view of the anthropomorphic God described in the Bible is set forth at some length in two books, “Treatise on the Gods” and “Treatise on Right and Wrong.” I should add, perhaps, that neither book denounces any of the prevailing religions, or has any propagandist purpose. I have no desire to convert anyone to my own ideas, and in fact greatly dislike all converts. The one proposition which, in my estimation, is sufficient[ly] self-evident to be fought for is that religious speculation should be completely free, and that any effort to limit it is anti-social and immoral.”
– On April 11 Rhode had written Mencken from 608 Orpington Road, Baltimore, that his Sunday School class was discussing the proofs for the existence of God. Would Mencken as an atheist kindly dispute these propositions: 1) That the human mind can comprehend only the products of the divine mind; 2) That the uncaused cause of everything is God; 3) That our world has a purpose; and 4) That God must exist because we desire to worship Him.


What are you willing to do to live ethically?

A blurb about Peter Singer’s book “In Defense of Animals” on Amazon.com begins: “Paul McCartney once said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”

I hate The Beatles, and John Lennon, and to a lesser degree Paul McCartney. This aside, my version of that quote would be “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would have a better understanding of the cruelty inherent in life, and it would be more difficult to convince people that life should be fair.”

I need to work on that… it’s not there yet.

I’ve been wanting to read Singer. I haven’t read more than some articles and seen a few videos and interviews. I feel he’s wrong, and I’m interested to read his argument… it’s just not as compelling as some of the other things I want to read, so I haven’t picked it up.

About a week ago  someone on facebook asked the question “Are circuses morally objectionable?”

I made the response (quoting another response):

“…but circuses are not known for ethical treatment of non-humans.”
I don’t think they’re particularly known for the ethical treatment of humans either. It’s one of those situations where you can get bogged down by the ethics, wrestle with the implications, maybe come to the conclusion that ultimately it’s harmful that humans reproduce at all and advocate for the extinction of life on the planet.
Or go to the circus.
Each is an appealing way to spend an evening. Only one results in seeing monkeys in funny hats.

Someone e-mailed me “You were kidding, right?”

Augh… here’s one of those things… I find it really hard not to respond to certain topics. I find it impossible in most cases to be moderate, even when I’m trying to moderate. I’m a cynic and a boor, fine, but you have the ability not to read this, and she DID contact ME.

I responded:

Had to check what you were referring to…
Circuses.

No, I really wasn’t. I was barely being flippant.
Living a fulfilling, considered, fully ethical life is probably impossible.

Sometimes you have to compromise, and compromise usually means nobody is happy with the results.
I recently read “Better Never to Have Been”… it’s an anti-natalist work that uses arguments that readers of animal rights books would be familiar with. The theory is that “it’s always a harm to bring a life into the world”.

I can’t counter his logic with logical counter-arguments. He’s a professional in the field of ethics, if all things were equal, he’s got more time to think about it. I’ve got a job and other shit.
So, let’s say logically, rationally, ethically, he’s right – just for the argument.
Should we not have children? Should all human life cease to be?

These are miserable, brain and gut wrenching things to spend any time pondering. It can lead to ponderous thoughts and disturbing consequences. The nature of evil, of rampant brutality and treachery in nature…

I read and consider, I try to be honest and a good person to those in my life that I care for, and not to be intentionally harmful to those outside that circle.

For all of this, I could look away from the road for one second… coffee could spill, an elderly woman could fall on the sidewalk and I want to see if she’s alright, and I careen into a minivan and kill a family.

If you’re in a lifeboat that will hold a maximum of 12 people, and dozens are swimming and grabbing on to the sides of the boat to save themselves, are you willing to lift up an axe and chop their hands off, so that they don’t capsize the crowded boat causing everyone to die?

If a city spends $2 million rescuing a child who has fallen down a well, would you be willing to cover the well and divert the funds to vaccinations that may save dozens or hundreds or thousands of lives?

I am serious, and wouldn’t it be nice to just go to the circus…

It ain’t poetry, and I’d edit it a number of different ways, but it says basically what I want it to say.

I’m driving to work one day last week, as I do every day, and this day I see a cat run out under the van in front of me and get mangled. I’m horrified by this and my thoughts were “I need to finish it off.” I needed to swerve the wheel of my car toward the animal that I just saw be twisted and magled by the wheels of the speeding van in front of me in hopes that I would smash its skull and kill it instantly. In the few seconds I had to bridge the gap between my current position and where the cat was still rolling from the impact, I saw its battered body twitching and bleeding profusely and a massive evisceration to the abdomen that was spilling out its entrails. I was horrified and my guts turned and I wanted to recoil and pull over but I knew that it couldn’t be saved, I couldn’t slam my breaks at that speed with all this traffic and what I needed to do was to stop it from suffering and being run over by a series of cars until it died from the repeated smashing or someone dealt a deathblow.

I couldn’t do it. I failed to do the only thing that would have helped.

I cursed cars and overpopulation and the whole goddamn world. I couldn’t have saved the life of that cat, but I didn’t do the one thing that probably should have been done to stop the suffering.

I looked in my rear view, it jerked and bled and was still dying. It disappeared under the car behind me and I sullenly, wincingly looked back at the road ahead, cursed humanity and gloomily made it through the day. I probably would have felt worse if I’d done it, even though I would have stopped the suffering of that poor animal.

When I got home and I sat down and the daily ritual of my own cat welcoming me home by standing on my lap and demanding my full attention until he’s tired of me commences like every other day. He doesn’t know about the dead relative, and if he did, would he care?

Life is just not that simple, and it certainly ain’t fair. Not eating meat or wearing a leather belt or abstaining from going to see the trained monkeys may make you feel better, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to commit unspeakable suffering on someone or something at some point in your life. It certainly won’t stop unspeakable suffering from being committed upon you.

You’ve got to have some principals, some ethical framework, but unless they’re really fucking vague (or contradictory), you’re going to have to break a few to get through life. Tough shit. We’re poorly constructed meat-machines. What we think of as “I” is an illusion created by the brain. You lie to yourself every day, but you don’t know it.

I consider myself a skeptic, and pro-science and reason… but sometimes my gut overrides my brain. I can’t build an argument against the anti-natalist, but I disagree with him. Where I disagree with Singer, I probably can’t mount a logical counter, but I can’t forsee anyone convincing me to stop eating meat.

Am I less of a skeptic? Do I have a “faith”? Am I “anti-science”?

Be a “good person”, whatever you can figure that out to be. Be reflective and considerate, but don’t think you’re absolutely right. Reason and logic will get your far, but you’re not made for it. You’re made to run on lies and irrational impulses. You can’t get away from it. I can’t get away from it. You can only struggle and maybe at the end of the day you didn’t fuck up and hurt someone you didn’t mean to. If it’s a good day, you did something nice for someone you care about.

I don’t want cats to die.

I don’t want to be the cause of a cat dying.

I don’t want to see someone else be the cause of a cat’s death.

I don’t want to see a cat suffer a prolonged miserable and suffering death.

What’s ethical when a cat is in the road ahead of you, half dead?

Can you make the call in 3 seconds? Can you act on that?

The girl didn’t write back. I’m not holding my breath.

Letter to the Freedom From Religion Foundation

Dear Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor,

Around the 12 minute mark of the recent podcast edition of Freethought Radio, during a conversation about prayer in Lodi city meetings, Ms. Gaylor stated “…or even Satanists, if there are such people”. As a regular and fairly long time listener of the podcast version of the show, I thought I would write in on the subject. I will try to keep it as succinct as possible.

I am a skeptic, an atheist, a secularist and a Satanist. There is no contradiction or ethical or logical tension between these four self-identifying labels. I am an ordained priest in the Church of Satan and the day after this episode aired (Oct. 4th) I gave a rather rousing rendition of a lecture on blasphemy by Robert G. Ingersoll at a contest in Washington, D.C. – sponsored by CFI-DC, American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists. I am not a member of any of the organizations, however, and only officially represent the Church of Satan.

I attended the Satanic High Mass on 6-6-06 held at CFI Los Angeles in the Steve Allen Theater and have attended local atheist Meet Up groups. Just recently I found a Usenet post I made from 1997 where I stated flatly that I was an Atheist and a Satanist, giving proof that this is not a passing phase or lark.

Though there may be significant differences in Humanism and Satanism, it doesn’t discount the fact that Satanism has a strong streak of skepticism and atheism that goes back to its founding in 1966 by Anton LaVey. The current High Priest of the organization, Peter H. Gilmore and I had a discussion about how important the book “Atheism: The Case Against God” was to the both of us. I can provide a long list of unequivocal quotes by LaVey and Gilmore stating that skepticism and atheism are integral parts of Satanism.

I can offer a list much much longer of quotes from mainstream media sources, Christian media and (more recently) the blogopshere and websites blatantly misrepresenting and slandering our world view and sometimes even calling for the criminalization of our legally recognized organization and the imprisonment of our members merely because they adhere to a minority philosophy. As a persistent and rather infuriating urban legend, I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen (possibly) well-meaning but woefully misinformed people send out letters or post flyers around Halloween claiming that “Satanists” may “steal your cat, especially if its black, and kill it” and urging pet owners to keep their animals indoors.

I write all of this not because I want you to appreciate Satanism, defend or promote it, or even accept it (Satanists do NOT evangelize). I only want to make it clear that it exists, and the largest Satanic organization in the United States, having been in existence for over 44 years, has been a constant and strident advocate for pluralism, skepticism and separation of church and state.

Please keep up the work you are doing at the FFRF to secure a proper secular American government, nationally and locally.

Thank you,

Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter

Church of Satan

References:

http://www.churchofsatan.com

http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Satanism:_An_interview_with_Church_of_Satan_High_Priest_Peter_Gilmore

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/peter_h_gilmore_science_and_satanism/

http://www.religioustolerance.org/satanis1.htm

http://www.religioustolerance.org/satanism.htm

http://ingersollcontest.wordpress.com/

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/mayhem/blackcat.asp

Googling myself – Feb 11 1997, 4:00 am

It should be no surprise that someone who has a blog in his own name googles that same name with some regularity. This morning I found the following newsgroup post archived from 12 years ago. I’d probably say very close to the same thing today.

Many of my views have changed, grown, become more nuanced – but I’m still an atheist and a Satanist. I think theism is inherently anti-rational. I still use “lime green jello” as an example.

One of the strengths of my worldview is I don’t feel that other people reflect on me in any legitimate way… i.e. there may be other Satanists or Atheists who I think are wrong or hold abhorrent views or do things that I don’t approve of – but I’m an egoist and I won’t allow anyone to hold the actions of others over me. They can try, maybe they’ll succeed in the eyes of other people, but I accept no responsibility for the words or deeds of anyone I do not claim responsibility for.

If it isn’t obvious – the lines with the “>>>” are from someone else I’m responding to.

Feb 11 1997, 4:00 am

>> >   There are two types of Satanists; those who are Church Of Satan
>> > and those who wish they were.

>> And there are obviously two further separated types of Satanists
within
>> the CoS; those who understand and act according to Satanic
philosophy and
>> ignorant, weak-minded kiddies like you are.

No, in all reality. There are two types of Satanists. Atheistic, and
Theistic. My PERSONAL opinion (if one cares) is that any thiest is
anti-rational. But that is my opinion.
Theist Satanists are devil worshippers, whereas Atheist Satanists
(such as with the Church of Satan, whom I’m sure has theists in it
because it represents the ouside world, most of the people in it aren’t
sincere, or know whats going on) are just that. Using Satan as a
Jungian archetype.
Now I condemn flame wars continually, and name calling is childish.
You break it down logically. If a theist who worships a being called
the devil calls himslef a Satanist, then they are that. Just as if I
wanted to call myself a bowl of Lime Green Jello, you couldn’t say I
wasn’t because I am using MY definition of what “bowl of lime green
jello” means. And NOBODY else can say I was wrong.
I call myself a Satanist, and am Atheistic. I am both because I can
logically explain why I am both, and why I am other things as well
(social-darwinist, meat eater, heterosexual, and just plain silly
sometimes).
What is boils down to is sincerety. If you are sincere, and logical,
you are better off than 80% or more of the population.
Kevin I. Slaughter

Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest, Washington, DC

I’m nervous… in a few hours I’ll be in our nations capitol reading a lecture by the great American orator Robert G. Ingersoll. I won’t be posting this until after the event is over, so I can append a recording of it to the post (assuming it turns out well). No matter what mundane or crazy shit I’ve done in front of an audience, I’ve always been plagued with nervousness before beginning. From making an announcement in a room or doing an interview over the phone, to being cut open in a blood ritual performance or crawling across a ceiling half-naked covered in silver paint – I’m a bit of a wreck until I start doing whatever it is I need to be doing. I’m not an extrovert by nature, but I’ve been performing in front of audiences since I was in Elementary School.

MCing for Three Ring Vixen fashion show. This is a card trick called The Tattooed Sailor.

MC'ing for "Three Ring Vixen" fashion show in April of 2006. This is a card trick called "The Tattooed Sailor".

I think I took this chance to help subdue that fear response a bit, but then here I am waking up at 6:30 am when my alarm is set for 8. Typing a blog post because I need a distraction.

There was a study recently that showed men looking at breasts had a calming effect. I think it was carried out by the University of Something to Tell My Wife, in the Dept. of NoDuh.

I have my problems with his worldview outside of his agnosticism, but that he was well known and well received in the late 1800’s for making remarks on stage that would infuriate most general audiences in 2009 makes me respect him greatly. That I have such a shitty memory makes me frustrated that I’ll probably be doing more reading of a page than proper oratory.

The event is sponsored by a few groups, none of which I am a member. All the details can be found here.

I’ve chosen (predictably) his lecture on blasphemy and I’ve had to heavily truncate it in order to fit within the 3-6 minutes allowed. My greatest concern is that I’ll be the 5th or 6th person to recite some of the same words, and boring the audience instead of entertaining. The orig. text can be found here.

My total time tends to be about 6 and a half to 7 minutes, but the introduction runs around a minute +,  so the actual lecture is within the regulation time limit. There was a joke about half-way through, but I took it out because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

The event will be video recorded (I started writing “taped”, but that’s probably not technically true) and I’ll record the audio as well. As you can see in the introduction I’ve included a “Blasphemy Challenge” – thematically appropriate, and a fun addition.

—back from event—

Before the event, in costume.

Before the event, in "costume".

I just got in from my drive back from DC. I dropped a dear friend who went to support me  at home and I’m trying to finish and post this thing…

Out of the 20 possible contestants only 14 ended up speaking. From the star my chances for winning were statistically better. I drew “12” as my order number, but since there were 20 numbers and 14 people, I didn’t have to wait through 12 speakers. My time was intermittently crouching and listening and pacing and smoking near the back of the audience. When it was my time to go up I was terribly nervous, all the moisture from my mouth vanished when I hit the podium.

At one point my papers flew away in the wind. I think I handled it well, moving on to the next section of the speech without too much of a lapse. I couldn’t get my pages to turn on the last page. I figured that shouldn’t be too much of a problem with only three pages, but I was wrong. Next time I’ll put some sticky tabs on each sheet or something.

My pal Erin was in charge of the camera and forgot to take photos while I was speaking, so we’ve got scant few photos. Her support meant more than her failure to photographically capture the moment, so all is well.

I wore my black suit, fedora and a plantation tie, and everyone assumed it was a costume for the event. I don’t mind that so much, when I was in Vegas with friends in ’06 people stopped us on the street and asked us if we were performing somewhere and if they could get a photo… “no” and “no” were the answers. I thought it was funny though and I took that and changed my introduction in my head a few minutes before I spoke – it allowed me to more personalize the introduction and inject a little more humor. I had two great lines that I thought up and I subsequently forgot to utter, and I don’t think they’d come across well just typing ’em out here. I’ll just let them lie in some corner of my brain until they dissolve away.

Though many of the speakers were very good, and one even committing his entirely to memory, quite a number of folks left me with the impression that I was certainly in the top tier of presenters. Though I did have to reference my notes, and at one point my papers flew away in the wind, I’m proud of the job that I did – ultimately it wasn’t enough to impress the judges. Even though they gave a tie to fourth place – giving a total of 5 winners out of 14, somehow my speech was scored in the bottom 9.

The really nice presenter whose name I forget and the judges that judged me unworthy.

The really nice presenter whose name I forget and the faceless judges that judged me unworthy.

I got quite a few hearty “congrats” immediately after speaking, and one lady even turned to me and said “that was so wonderful, you gave me goosebumps!”, but when they were calling out the winners, my name was no where to be heard.

The kicker, walking to the car a guy who introduced himself to me earlier that day before I talked was walking back toward DuPont Circle. I guess he’d stepped away at some point and was returning, missing the awards. I must have made an impression because he called out my name from a distance, “Kevin!”

“How did it go?” he asked.

“Pretty well, I enjoyed myself.”

“Did you win?”

“No, I didn’t even come in fourth.”

“WHA?!?” he seemed to express sincere disbelief.

Again, other speakers did a great job. I don’t know what the scores were, and I’m generally very humble about my work and performances. This, I think I should have at least placed. But I didn’t, and I’m not complaining. It was a beautiful day in the park, and I publicly blasphemed, on film (and audio)…

One of the organizers videotaped the event and will theoretically be putting some portions online. If I make it, I’ll post it here, of course.

I have pasted the text that I took with me to read below. Where I’ve added or changed a word, it is set off in brackets. Where I’ve truncated in the middle of a sentence I’ve used the ellipses. Of course, what I have below and what I ws able to actually get out of my mouth diverge somewhat slightly…

Click to Play

[display_podcast]

UPDATE: I found a few photos on facebook from someone who was there, so I was able to add a few of me actually speaking! The photographer has given me permission to use the images here and here is a link to all his photos from the event (on Facebook)!

photo by Brian Engler

photographer: Brian D. Engler

photo by Brian Engler

photographer: Brian D. Engler


UPDATE 2: A few more photos of the Devil’s Angry Man… photos below by Bruce Press

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_BFP6316

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UPDATE 10-28-09: The videos…
CFI edited every speaker down to their own video, here is just my part:

The AHA took the winners of the event and a few other speakers and edited to about an hour (I’m at the 35 minute mark):

Ingersoll’s Lecture on “Blasphemy”

Edited and introduced by Kevin I. Slaughter
for the
Robert Ingersoll Oratory Contest
Washington, DC, October 4th, 2009

According to the rules I may give a brief introduction to why I selected this bit of text. How do you truncate the words of a man who would sometimes spend three hours pontificating on a topic into 3-5 minutes. All the speakers here have done an admirable job and I hope that I have distilled the essence of this speech on the topic of Blasphemy to fit into that time.

My name is Kevin Slaughter and what follows this preface are Ingersoll’s words alone, but I take them as my own. I am not just honoring a great orator and thinker, I am telling you how I feel. Before I begin to speak his words, I will make it utterly clear: “I deny the Holy Spirit.”

This rejection of god means not just that I am a free thinker, but standing in our nation’s capitol today, it it a pronouncement that I am a free man!

Ladies and Gentlemen   …what is the origin of the crime known as blasphemy?

It is the belief in a God who is cruel, revengeful, quick tempered and capricious;
a God who punishes the innocent for the guilty;
a God who listens with delight to the shrieks of the tortured and gazes enraptured on their spurting blood.
You must hold this belief before you can believe in the doctrine of blasphemy.

[You see,] God was a kind of juggler. He did not wish man to be impudent or curious about how He did things. You must sit in audience and watch the tricks and ask no questions. In front of every fact He has hung the impenetrable curtain of blasphemy. Now … all the … reason that … man ha[s] is useless.

To say anything against the priest was blasphemy
and to say anything against God was blasphemy—
to ask a question was blasphemy.
Finally we sank to the level of fetishism [and] we began to worship inanimate things.

If you will read your bible you will find that the Jews had a sacred box. … To touch this box was a crime. [And] You [may] remember that one time when a… [man] thought the box was going to tip he held it.

God killed him.

It always has been blasphemy to say “I do not know whether God exists or not.”
In all Catholic countries it is blasphemy to doubt the bible, to doubt the sacredness of the relics.
It always has been blasphemy to laugh at a priest, to ask questions, to investigate the Trinity.
In a world of superstition, reason is blasphemy.
In a world of ignorance, facts are blasphemy.
In a world of cruelty, sympathy is a crime,
and in a world of lies, truth is blasphemy.

Last night there was a fire in Philadelphia, and at a window fifty feet above the ground Mr. King stood amid flame and smoke and pressed his children to his [chest] one after the other, kissed them, and threw them to the rescuers with a prayer. That was man.
[This book says that on] the last day God takes His children with a curse and hurls them into eternal fire. That’s … God as [this book] describe Him. [And] If this creed be true, God is the insane keeper of a mad house.

Blasphemy is a padlock which hypocrisy tries to put on the lips of all honest men. At one time Christianity succeeded in silencing the infidel, and then came the dark ages, when all rule was ecclesiastical, when the air was filled with devils and spooks, when birth was a misfortune, life a prolonged misery of fear and torment, and death a horrible nightmare. They crushed the infidels, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, wherever a ray of light appeared in the ecclesiastical darkness. I want to tell [you all gathered] that that day is passed. All the churches in the United States can not even crush me. The day for that has gone, never to return. If they think they can crush free thought in this country, let them try it.

I’ll tell you what is blasphemy. It is blasphemy to live on the fruits of other men’s labor, to prevent the growth of the human mind, to persecute for opinion’s sake, to abuse your wife and children, to increase in any manner the sum of human misery.

I’ll tell you what is sacred. Our bodies are sacred, our rights are sacred, justice and liberty are sacred. I’ll tell you what is the true bible. It is the sum of all actual knowledge of man, and every man who discovers a new fact adds a new verse to this bible. It is different from the other bible, because that is the sum of all that its writers and readers do not know.

A Causal Chain

I used to believe that we only used 10% of our brains.  I was told this and I did’t mentally cross reference it with other information I had. This kind of thing happens all the time, to all of us. It’s impossible to keep all the facts straight, much less correlating them all with all the others we’ve accumulated.  When we hold two conflicting opinions about a topic, this is called cognitive dissonance. I do my best to rout it out, but sometimes when one of these errors is corrected it can be embarrasingly obvious that the mistaken belief was founded on nothing but lack of consideration. How many television shows (or better yet, documentaries) have you seen where a CAT scan or other test is being performed and areas all over the brain are lighting up based on various stimuli? This alone should cast a stark skeptical shadow over the “10%” theory.
I’m sitting in an airport in Baltimore, waiting to fly to Newark, to then wait around to fly to Geneva. Because yesterday was 9-9-09, I was thinking about Los Angeles on 6-6-06.
There wew two events my wife and I attended on that vacation, and one was held at a place called Zen Sushi.  Sitting in the smoking area outside, some young guy struck up a conversation with Ida…
(on the tarmac now, just informed we’ll have a 55 minute wait because of high winds.. luckily we had a 3 hour layover in Newark)
The young man and his girlfriend started asking Ida questions about Satanism, a topic she doesn’t care to discuss, and she passed them off to me, “My husband can answer that”
I can only recall that what questions they had were very basic, and would have been very eaqsy to answer using google… in other words, it was a bother. At some point he says “Well, I’ve got a theory I’d like to run by you, and it has to do with Satanism…”
That’s rarely going to be good.
“Well, you know how people only use 10% of their brain power?” he begins what seems like become a really convoluted idea.
“No” I respond, “we use most or all of our brains. It’s a myth that we only use 10%”.
“Oh,” he says, a bit deflated but gearing up to recover. “Well, let’s say that’s true though.”
“No. If you are building this theory of yours on a lie, the rest is going to be a lie, and I don’t care to hear it.”
I try to be polite, when possible, but I’m not going to let a stranger, who I’ve already answered a number of questions from, elaborate on a theory that will probably be stupid, but was definitly predicated on a lie. I was on vacation with my wife, and some of my favorite people in the world – I had better shit to do.
Though I told myself I’d onlybring one book, I couldn’t resist packing Mickey Spillaine’s “I the Jury” along with Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World”. In Sagan’s book you’ll find his baloney detection kit in chapter 12. A fine introduction to critical thinking he conveys the bulk of the concepts in bulleted lists. One of these was “If there’s a chain argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise)– not just one of them.”

(posted using WiFi at the Geneva airport!)