Kiddie pool / Jesus the scarecrow

I was sitting on the edge of the kiddie pool watching my daughters (2 and 4.5) splash around when the arm of a father setting his 1 yr. old boy in the water caught my eye. A bright red tattoo covered his upper arm as a band. In the middle, a swastika. Then I noticed the face of Adolf Hitler tattooed on his chest and across his back “Nation of Aryan Brotherhood”. Several people asked the teen lifeguards to kick him out. The kids refused, claiming it was freedom of speech and he wasn’t behaving in any other way that was disruptive. He was just sporting his “white pride”.

While public display of the swastika is not illegal in the U.S., it is a crime in other parts of the world. The Aryan Brotherhood is a prison gang, but the public display of gang symbols also does not seem to be a crime, at least at the national level. Consider, however, that to join the AB, you pretty much have to murder someone. Perhaps the broadcasting of the intimidating messages “I’ve killed someone.” “I’m a racist.” and “I belong to a gang of murderers.” is illegal at the kiddie pool, I don’t know.

And that’s the thing -- none of us knew how to react. Should these kid lifeguards have asked him to leave? Should one of us parents? Should we have called the cops? Would doing any of that just incited unnecessary problems or violence for us and our children there at the pool, or via gang retaliation later? What were we teaching our kids through non-confrontation -- that it’s okay to let hate groups sport their placards without a fuss? That we condone subtle terror as long as it’s proposed harm is undetermined? That we should act cowardly when frustrated or fearful? Or is it that we demonstrate a deeper restraint by admitting that we don’t understand this man’s history -- that maybe he was strongly coerced to join the gang. Maybe he’s trying to get out. Maybe we should just give him the benefit of the doubt, and for the sake of his 1 yr. old son, let them enjoy the afternoon together like us “normal” folks. For better or worse, our response was to simply watch him out of the corner of a raised eyebrow and to try to distance ourselves inconspicuously.

I want to explore the roots, psychology, culture, and memetic evolution of gangs in future posts. What I want to discuss here is subtle terror. How just a little bit of fear and suspicion put us on guard and made us attentive, but also left us confused. In not knowing how to react, we didn’t. It is striking to see how fear, even at this not-so-uncomfortable level to do anything about, implicitly makes it an acceptable level to live with.

Terror is the use of unfathomable as well as realistic fear. I say “unfathomable” in the sense that it is so far from our norm or understanding, that we don’t know how to accurately interpret the message to quantify the danger and how to respond to it appropriately. In this afternoon, I was struck that “unfathomable” fear was not only grandiose displays of things like bombs, but also included the subtle presence of cryptic signs.


Fear is a common message in religion. Christianity’s easiest target is Hell and its prospect of eternal, painful suffering. There are also the messages that life without God is empty, loveless, and unfulfilling. A Christian ponders his relationship with God not only by judging how happy he is in the religion and in that relationship, but he also measures this contentment against how he envisions his life would be without God. He uses the relationship to protect himself from what he assumes is threatening.

When admirable traits are given to a God, it is easy to play into the fears of a life without God. Christianity not only introduces the fear, which can leave us stressed and confused, but then offers a solution -- Jesus is the answer (and thereby maintaining it’s corollary: Without Jesus, there is no answer). Perhaps what is important to consider before accepting Jesus as a solution is to ask, “Is the fear real?”

Ask yourself these questions.

Does morality come from God?

Does love come from God?

Does law come from God?

Does happiness come from God?

Does pain and hate come from the devil, or God?

What good is God?

At the core of Christianity is the belief that we have all sinned, and that without God’s grace, we will be doomed to keep sinning. The immediate threat of sin is that we will not know true love and fulfillment. The long term threat is Hell or at least a life of doom.

But what is sin? Sinning is not the same as acting immorally. Sinning is simply refusing God. The reason sinning and immorality are often confused is that when it is assumed that moral commands come from God and not men, then immorality is the same as refusing God. It is in this way that Christianity promotes the idea that the only way you can act morally is to believe in God, and that immorality shows that you are not part of the redeemed.

To cast love, morals, law, and happiness to God is at a minimum an unknowable proposition. That assumption also means that law, morality, love, and happiness are ultimately not natural. If societal demands for collective cooperation are gifts from God, then Christians are equally comparable to those who demonstrate “white pride”. The assumption of the racist is that they are better than other races because they have been endowed with physical traits and/or culture that is superior. The assumption that love, morals, law, and happiness can only come from God does nothing but lead to bigotry.


Evolution is often cast as predator/prey, dog eat dog. Indeed, like capitalism, independent greed and selfishness can work to promote the common good of a population. And also like capitalism, there is an ironic recognition that cooperation is also mandatory for our (or a population’s) overall fulfillment and success. Cooperation is often overlooked in considerations of evolution, but individuals of a species work together. It is not unreasonable to believe that if ants can work together building colonies, then we humans, with our superior intellect, opposable thumbs, and gift of gab can also work together to construct colonies where we find fulfillment.


From the atheist’s point of view, God, religion, and laws and behavior attributed to God, are man-made constructs. As such, when Christianity presents “Jesus is the answer”, it is important to ask, “To what?” Can it be shown that the questions for which Jesus is the answer are not man-made constructs, which many times are created and play into human fears? No. As such, Christianity apparently offers up its own strawman arguments leaving Jesus, paradoxically, hanging on a cross like a scarecrow.

Evil evolution hypothesis

This blog posits that belief in evolution equates to atheism. The reasons boil down to the simple fact that while some theists may also choose to believe in evolution, nobody has come up with a theology that in any way makes sense. How can a personal God use evolution as a tool when it is apparently so random? How can a loving God use evolution when it promotes competition and bettering ourselves by experiencing and avoiding pain? How did sin enter the world if animals were around before the Garden of Eden, and what purpose does Jesus serve in an evolutionary context? What does it mean to have a spirit if animals were around, living and dying, before sin? These are the topics of some of the blogs I have links to.

Here is a theory that allows theists (well, Christians, anyway) to hold theism and evolution: Evolution is the Devil's tool, not God's.

Let us imagine a cosmic battle between Good and Evil (Isa. 14:13,14 and Revelation 12:4), and a wager, that Good could overcome Evil. To this end, Good said to Evil, construct a system of your own design, and I will show that it can be defeated. So Evil thought up evolution -- a means by which ordinary molecules would aggregate and build bigger and more complex bodies. They would eat each other. They would hurt each other. En route they would become sentient, even to the point of recognizing the existence of God, and shortly after such an acknowledgment, they would choose to ignore God -- the definition of sin. (Give somebody free will for long enough and sin's bound to happen eventually). Evolution was Evil's fool-proof plan to demonstrate that molecules could, through natural means, someday transcend their basic chemical interactions and imagine and then discredit God.

Along the way, however, these molecular assemblies of bodies also learned love and Goodness. However, humans continued to show an incapability of avoiding sin. To show that love and Goodness could overcome such inherent evil, God took the form of humanity, experienced a sinless life, and death, the complete human experience. This proved that Evil could be overcome, and now we humans can get that sinless life when we ask for forgiveness and Jesus to live through us.

Can Polkinghorne top this simple theory?

Evolutionists flock to Darwin apparition

From The Onion,

Love the irony

At the end of June, a 22-yr old Guatemalan man drowned in the Sacramento Delta. The original reporting of the story put the bug in people's ear that the man may have died during a baptism. A day later, it was disclosed that he was not part of a baptism. (I've been unable to determine if there was even a baptism taking place at the time. It seems, at least, that where he drowned is close to a site that is popular for baptisms).

What is disheartening is the response from all the atheist blogs that just gobbled up the idea that the man died during a baptism. Once assumed to be true, the story spread like wildfire. We atheists are so quick to criticize theists for believing what they want to hear. But shame on you atheists for being so quick to believe unsubstantiated facts and the rumor mill of your "rational" friends. I have yet to find a blog that ran this story that later acknowledged the truth of the events and the humility to admit the bloggers' naive presumption.