Atheist Phyllis Diller Injured in Tumble

Comedian in Hospital After Fall out of Bed

from Associated Press

LOS ANGELES, California - Comedian Phyllis Diller (see second-to-last quote in sidebar) injured her head and neck after falling out of bed at her Brentwood mansion, her manager said Thursday.

"She has a big bruise on her forehead," Milt Suchin said. "I think she blacked out...She just awoke and a housekeeper came in and found her on the floor."

Diller, 87, was hospitalized after the accident early Monday, Suchin said. She was undergoing diagnostic tests, including tests on her pacemaker that was inserted in 1999.

Diller recently released a book about her life called Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse.


Christians Worship Stain

Bette Shober and Joanne Vrablik take a closer look at what people believe to be an image of the Virgin Mary under a freeway underpass in Chicago, April 18, 2005. Police said the image might have been caused by stains from road salt that dripped from the Kennedy expressway onto the wall, but hundreds of believers have been coming to the underpass to view the image and pray at the spot. (Reuters/John Gress)


Religious Right May Cause Armageddon

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Tom DeLay, and Pat Robertson?

Believe in Armageddon and It Will Come

from Chris Crittenden/Bangor Daily News

As the Bangor Daily News editorial of April 5 points out, even Republicans such as Sen. John Danforth are concerned about the emergence of "an American Theocracy" run by conservative Christians. The danger is not just a reversal of standard Republican policies such as state freedom, but a threat to the very process of checks and balances whereby legislation is crafted.

If Congress' hastily involvement in the Terri Shiavo case is an omen, the hallmark of wise lawmaking - careful and judicious deliberation - is under siege in a system already suffering from political rifts and pork-barrel shenanigans. Our country and Constitution are becoming hostage to ideologically driven haste, divorced from standards of reason upheld as ideals through symbols such as the blindfolded statue of justice and phrases such as justitia omnibus, justice for all, the motto of the District of Columbia.

The danger does not stop there, however, for when reason and procedure are ostracized from political process, the door opens for demagoguery and fanaticism. Certainly not all conservative Christians are fanatics, that is, persons rendered impervious to lucid argument by the authority of a dictatorial faith; but many of those that are champion a particularly frightening and ominous worldview: that the planet will suffer Armageddon, destroyed in fire, when God inflicts terrible punishment on unredeemed souls. The NBC miniseries Revelations is no doubt an attempt to attract America's 40 million conservative Christians to their TV sets, pandering to the thrill of watching an eschatological holocaust that many believe is imminent.

In my introductory philosophy class, the first lecture revolves around a single statement: Beliefs affect actions, which in turn affect reality - a succinct version of the self-fulfilling prophecy. It's a general and simple maxim, but psychological testing validates the basic premise. For example, those whose beliefs predispose them toward negativity often increase their chance of failure.

On a political scale, the power of ideas steers the fate of nations, races and environments. If we believe forests are more consumable "resource" than testaments to the wonder of nature, the contours of the planet reflects this view. If a powerful majority believes a certain race is inferior, as has been the case many times throughout history, a dynamic of domination ensues with custom-entrenched roles of superior and subordinate - all because of a flawed belief system unchecked by rational scrutiny.

Examples of turmoil fed by unbridled devotion to religion are numerous. The spread of Islam during the 7th century sparked vast conquest through warfare. Medieval Crusades stoked the populace into hysteria and carnage. In the 17th century, Europe was awash with blood as Protestants and Catholics slaughtered each other mercilessly, driven by the furor of their convictions. The civil wars instigated by these religious factions, each convinced that Christians on the other side were horribly misguided, led to the antidote of Rationalism and the doctrine of the separation of church and state. Our forefathers (and mothers) came to realize that theocratic rule failed miserably because zealots of various denominations fought to make their brand of religion the foundation of the throne.

Historically, fanaticism has promoted a narrow-minded impetus where passion hermetically sealed from reason supercedes evidence. Under such circumstances, all-consuming war is a serious threat. If Republicans control government, and Republicans, in turn, are the pawns of fanatic conservatives, the immolation of the world may be realized through a self-fulfilling prophecy of the radical right.

Uncertainties abound in such a sweeping, scary claim; but the stakes are high and even a small probability is cause for alarm. Tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are poised in silos and submarines. And the United States seems to be on a crusade of sorts, occupying one member of "the axis of evil" and preparing for possible "pre-emptive" attacks on the rest. If even one nuclear bomb detonates in the course of our imperious efforts to bend other cultures to our will, the result could be apocalypse - especially if powerful segments of the population believe it is prophesied.

In Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, the 1970s doomsayer book which The New York Times labeled the No. 1 nonfiction bestseller of the decade, Armageddon is precipitated by the USSR, which was identified with the Gog and Magog of Biblical Revelations. I remember being terrified by the book when I was young and naive. The fact that the USSR is gone and Lindsey's account has been adjusted repeatedly (the book is currently in its 70th edition) does not sway the current wave of death-mongers from their unflinching pronouncements of annihilation.

As Revelations airs on NBC, I expect my fear to be just as great as when I read Lindsey's book, but for different reasons.

The 2008 Republican National Convention?


Oh, Shut Up!

A few things that aren't "evil": Mountains, words, devil's food cake, Hell's Kitchen, Red Devil fireworks, speed demons, daredevils, etc.

Religious Man Wants to Rename Mt. Diablo

from Associated Press

OAKLEY, Calif. - An Oakley man has asked the federal government to rename Mount Diablo, saying the current name, which means devil in Spanish, is offensive to his religious sensibilities.

Art Mijares applied to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for the change and suggests naming the mountain Mount Kawukum, which he believes has American Indian roots.

"Words have power, and when you start mentioning words that come from the dark side, evil thrives," Mijares told the Contra Costa Times. "When I take boys camping on the mountain, I don't even like to say its name. I have to explain what the name means. Why should we have a main feature of our community that celebrates the devil?"

To make the change, Mijares would need to persuade federal, state and local governments that it's necessary. That may be easier said than done.

It's been called Mount Diablo for at least 164 years, and references to the mountain permeate thousands of maps, books and historical documents.

The name Kawukum first surfaced in 1866, when a church group tried to change Mount Diablo's name for reasons nearly identical to Mijares', according to San Francisco Bay area researcher Bev Ortiz.

"We abhor the wicked creature to whom the name is appropriate, and spurn the use of the name for anything noble or good on earth," proclaimed the Congregational Church of San Francisco in its newsletter of the day.


Pope: Heaven Kinda Blah

Does the Vatican make Heaven look like Wal-Mart?

Heaven Less Opulant Than Vatican, Reports Disappointed Pope

from The Onion

HEAVEN — The soul of Pope John Paul, which entered heaven last week following a long illness, expressed confusion and disappointment Saturday, upon learning that the Celestial Kingdom of God to which the departed faithful ascend in the afterlife is significantly less luxurious than the Vatican's Papal Palace, in which the pope spent the past 26 years of his earthly life.

"Where are all the marble statues, sterling-silver chalices, and gem-encrusted scepters?" the visibly disappointed pope asked. "Where are the 60-foot-tall stained-glass windows and hand-painted cupolas? Where are the elaborately outfitted ranks of Swiss Guards? Why isn't every single surface gilded? This is my eternal reward?"

Heaven, according to the New Testament, has "brilliance like a very costly stone... of pure gold, like clear glass..." with "twelve gates... each gate a single pearl." Yet the pope, who spoke from the afterlife, said heaven is nothing like the "solid-gold city" detailed at length by John of Patmos in the Book of Revelations.

"Evidently, the Bible was not intended to be taken literally, after all," John Paul II said. "Don't get me wrong: It's very nice up here—quite beautiful and serene. It's just not as fancy as what I'm accustomed to. If I'd known heaven was going to be like this, I would've taken one last tour through my 50 rooms of velvet-draped thrones and priceless oil paintings before saying 'Amen' and breathing my last."

According to the pope, heaven is merely a place of unending peace and happiness, wherein all the spirits of the Elect live together forever in perfect harmony and goodness, basking in the rays of God's divine love.

"Up here, everyone is equal," John Paul II said. "No one has to go through an elaborate bowing ritual when they greet me. And do you know how many times my ring has been kissed since I arrived? None. Up here, I'm mingling with tax collectors, fishermen, and whores. It's just going to take a little getting used to, is all."

The pope said it is amusing to think that he has been waiting for this "so-called Paradise" his entire life.

"I spent almost 84 years reciting novenas and Hail Marys to get to this restful place," John Paul II said. "If I'd wanted peace, quiet, and pretty clouds, I could've moved to the Italian Riviera. Frankly, this afterlife represents a significant drop in my standard of living."

"Well, they always said you can't take it with you," he added.

Scientists Boycott Creationism 'Charade'

Evolution Backers To Boycott Kansas Hearings

from The Kansas City Star

It looks as if the coming hearings on the Kansas science standards will be a one-sided event.

Proponents of intelligent design have lined up 23 witnesses — including one from Italy and another from Turkey — to support their point of view.

But scientists who defend evolution apparently are boycotting the hearings, said Alexa Posny, assistant commissioner for the state Department of Education.

As of Thursday, the state's deadline, only one scientist had agreed to testify and his appearance had not been confirmed, she said.

“We have contacted scientists from all over the world,” Posny said. “There isn't anywhere else we can go.”

The state board periodically updates the standards in each of its curriculum areas. A 26-member committee appointed by Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins has been working to revise the science standards since June. It will present its second draft to the board at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

The hearings, tentatively scheduled for May 5-7 and May 12-14, were set up by the conservative majority on the Kansas Board of Education.Board members say they want the public to hear more about intelligent design, the theory that some aspects of life and its diversity are the result of planned processes, not chance or necessity.

The president of Kansas Citizens for Science, who had called for the boycott, said he was pleased Thursday to hear it was being honored. Intelligent design is the latest form of creationism, Harry McDonald said, and has no place in a science classroom.

In addition, he said, he thinks board conservatives have made up their minds to support a proposal from the intelligent design side that calls for students to learn about the weaknesses of evolution.

"Intelligent design is not going to get its forum, at least not one in which they can say that scientists participated," McDonald said. "We have learned too much to continue participating in this charade."


Query: Which Religion Is for You?

Take the quiz: "What Religion Best Suits You?"

You are Godless! You could care less about religion. As far as you're concerned, if you can't see, touch and kick something, it's not real to you. Your day-to-day activities consist of eating, working, sleeping and the occasional Internet or coffee shop debate. Lastly, if anyone chooses to preach at you otherwise, you will either leave or debate them until they finally shut up.


GOP Theocracy Facing Backlash?

GOP's Moral Agenda Doubted

from USA Today

WASHINGTON — The controversy over Terri Schiavo has raised concerns among many Americans about the moral agenda of the Republican Party and the political power of conservative Christians, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds.

In the survey, most Americans disapprove of the efforts by President Bush and Congress to draw federal courts into the dispute over treatment of the brain-damaged Florida woman. She died last week.

Some old stereotypes about the two parties have been reversed:

• By 55%-40%, respondents say Republicans, traditionally the party of limited government, are "trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans" on moral values.

• By 53%-40%, they say Democrats, who sharply expanded government since the Depression, aren't trying to interfere on moral issues.

The debate over Schiavo has spotlighted the central role "values" issues — abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage and the right to live or die — now play in politics.

Mark Rozell, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia who studies religion and politics, says the case has created a "clear backlash."

"It's one thing to look at religious conservatives as part of a broad coalition that makes up the Republican Party," he says. "It's entirely another if people think that religious conservatives are calling the shots in the Bush administration for what was a deeply personal situation."

In the poll taken Friday and Saturday, Bush's job-approval rating is 48%, 3 percentage points higher than in mid-March. His standing on personal characteristics such as trustworthiness remains above 50%.

Still, Americans by 53%-34% say they disapprove of Bush's handling of the Schiavo case. Congress' rating on Schiavo is worse: 76% disapprove, 20% approve.

By more than 2-to-1, 39%-18%, Americans say the "religious right" has too much influence in the Bush administration. That's a change from when the question was asked in CBS News/New York Times polls taken from 2001 to 2003. Then, approximately equal numbers said conservative Christians had too much and too little influence.

Fossil Supports Ape-to-Human Evolution

Evidence Shows Skull Is of Earliest Human - Study

from Reuters

LONDON - New evidence shows a 7 million year-old skull unearthed in Chad is the earliest member of the human family, scientists said Wednesday.

Controversy has surrounded the skull, dubbed "Toumai," since its discovery was first reported in 2002 by a team led by Michel Brunet of the University of Poitiers in France.

It was hailed as arguably the most important fossil discovery in living memory because it was thought to be an ancient ancestor of modern humans, although some scientists argued it was a fossil of a female ape.

But newly found remains of tooth and jaw fragments and a computer reconstruction of the skull, reported in the science journal Nature, suggest Toumai was more human than ape.

"Toumai is not a chimp. Toumai is not a gorilla," Brunet told Reuters. "It is perfectly clear Toumai is a hominid."

The first reliable records of hominids, members of the human family distinct from chimpanzees and other apes, suggest they did not appear until about 5 million years ago.

Brunet said Toumai probably lived not long after the two lineages split.

He and his team also believe the skull reconstruction suggests that Toumai, the name given to children in Chad born close to the dry season, might have been able to walk upright, which would mean bipedalism was present in the earliest known hominids.

Bipedalism is a crucial difference between apes and humans.

When the discovery of the skull was first reported, its unusual mixture of primitive and human-like features prompted scientists to believe it was the earliest member of the human family ever found which could shed new light on human evolution.

But some scientists doubted its human links because they thought the skull was too squashed to draw any conclusions. They also said its short face, small canine teeth and other characteristics were not evidence it was a direct ancestor of humans.

In a separate report in the journal, Brunet, Ponce de Leon and their colleagues said newly found dental and jaw fossils from the same time as Toumai also show differences between it and African apes.


The Holy Grail Held Mojitos?!

Jesus Might Have Been Homosexual, Says the First Openly Gay Bishop

from Telegraph UK

The first openly gay Anglican bishop has sparked outrage for suggesting that Jesus might have been homosexual.

The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church of the United States, said that Jesus was an unmarried, "non-traditional man" who did not uphold family values, "travelled with a bunch of men" and enjoyed an especially close relationship with one of his disciples.

His comments, made in a recent address at the Christ Church of Hamilton and Wenham in Massachusetts, have enraged traditional Anglicans who have suggested that the Bishop should be "struck down by thunder and lightning bolts." Bishop Robinson, whose consecration in 2003 triggered a schism between evangelicals and liberals in the worldwide Anglican Communion, was giving an address entitled "Homosexuality and the Body of Christ: Is There a New Way?"

In answer to a question from the congregation about how the acceptance of homosexuality could be squared with the scriptural emphasis on redemption for sins, the Bishop replied: "Interestingly enough, in this day of traditional family values, this man that we follow was single, as far as we know, travelled with a bunch of men, had a disciple who was known as 'the one whom Jesus loved' and said my family is not my mother and father, my family is those who do the will of God. None of us likes those harsh words. That's who Jesus is, that's who he was at heart, in his earthly life.

"Those who would posit the nuclear family as the be all and end all of God's creation probably don't find that much in the gospels to support it," he said.

David Virtue, an evangelical commentator who runs the influential conservative Anglican website, VirtueOnline, called the comments "rubbish."

He said: "It is appalling deconstructionism from the liberal lobby which will spin even the remotest thing to turn it into a hint that Biblical figures are gay. It is so utterly preposterous to imply that Jesus's relationship with John was homo-erotic, but twisting the truth is the only way these people can get scriptural justification for their lifestyles. Can you imagine Calvin, Luther or Erasmus saying something like this? It is a wonder that thunder and lightning bolts don't strike Bishop Robinson down."

Bishop Robinson, who married his partner, Mark, said that he had come to reconcile his sexuality with his faith and could feel "God's light and God's life ooze over me like warm butter."

This is not the first time that it has been suggested Jesus might have been gay. In 1977 Mary Whitehouse, the moral campaigner, brought a private prosecution against the Gay News for publishing a poem by Professor James Kirkup called "The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name." The poem depicted a centurion's love for Christ and the newspaper was fined under the blasphemy laws.

Mike Barwell, a spokesman for Bishop Robinson, said: "Jesus was a non-traditional person who broke all the rules and hung out with all the wrong people. Anything else that people infer from the Bishop's comments is all speculation."


Who Did Cain Marry?

Fun with Bible Math: Hollywood Edition

Let me see if I have this right...

  1. So Adam was the first man (portrayed by Brad Pitt, naked in baby oil - so it is written!), reportedly made from dust that God (Snoop Dogg) breathed or sneezed on or something (alas, no witnesses). [Genesis 1:26]
    "Achoo! Who you?"
    "I'm Adam."
    "Well, mow da lawn, nigga!"
    God saw the lawn, and it was goozizzle.

    World Population: 1 (Adam)

  2. And Eve was the first woman, made from one of Adam's spare ribs. Well, spare once ripped from him. Mmmm....riiiibs. The limping sheep of Eden were quite relieved at her arrival. Confused and naked (Anne Heche), Eve didn't even have a name until Adam gave her one. [Genesis 3:20] Because, as we all know, women owe their very existances to men. And they better not forget it. So make me a sandwich. God commands it! Roast beef. I digress...

    World Population: 2 (Eve and A...Adam and Eve. Know thy place, woman!)

  3. Adam and Eve got it on, possibly with hair-pulling and a little ass-slapping, Lilithand Cain was their first son (Colin Farrell). [Genesis 4:1]
    DVD Deleted Scene: Uncredited cameo by "that Kabbalah-bitch of an ex-wife" Lilith (Madonna "Editing Room Floor Esther" Ritchie) [Isaiah 34:14] .

    World Population: 3 (Adam, Eve, and Cain. [Theatrical Version])

  4. Adam and Eve really, really liked sex (luckily, they weren't Nameless Daughter #26Old AdamCatholic), banging like bunnies in a dryer and popping out sons and daughters so fast they couldn't even name them all (cast of Cats), an entire nation of disgruntled Jan Bradys and Kieran Culkins. By the time Adam reached age 930 (Keith Richards), Eve's stretchmarks had reached her ears (Barbara Bush, in her acting debut). Hmm, what's that? No, it's not a typo; he was 930 years old. You can't make this shit up! [Genesis 5:4] Don't question the Bible!

    World Population: Um...Lots (Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth, Kieran, Jan, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, and a Bunch of Other Children)

  5. Now Godthis is where it gets all Jerry Springer: After killing his brother Abel (a sniveling Orlando Bloom, whose death prompted a standing ovation from test audiences), Cain was exiled from Eden by Snoop Almighty (Eye for an Eye legislation had not yet passed Congress) only to inexplicably marry...and have children. [Genesis 4:16-17] Possibly all named Billy Bob or Skeeter.

    World Population: Disturbingly Finite.

The Big Question...
So who
did Cain marry? I can see by the vomiting that some of you have figured it out already. OK, everyone take out their calculators!

tap tap tap

Put Your Pencils Down: That's right, the correct answer is "incest." ("Angelina Jolie" and "Oklahoma" are also acceptable.) Which, luckily for Cain, wasn't even declared "wrong" until Charlton Heston started parting oceans and overacting. [Leviticus 18]

No, it's not an error, perverse, or hypocritical; it's wisdom.

Divine wisdom.

Mysterious ways, people!

And then, of course, Zeus cracked open his father's skull and released his siblings. Amen.

These and other delightful myths can be found at your local library. Which, thanks to Bush budget cuts, is now an NRA shooting range. (Democrats, sodomites, and atheists = double points!)


The Fancy Fossils Fooled Us!

Um, yeah, dinosaurs? Never happened. Our mistake. Oopsy.

Just Say No to Science

from Scientific American

There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense, and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating, and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.

Like the Pope, Even I Can Be Cruel [The Mail Bag]

Don't hold your breath for those pearly gates, Johnny P.

From: Me
To: Lum, Sam, Matt, Mario, Steve
Date: 04/01/05 06:24PM
Re: Poped Out

"The Pope Is Deteriorating"
"The Pope Takes Turn for the Worse"
"The Pope Has Heart Failure But Remains Conscious"
"The Pope Given Last Rights"
"The Pope Near Death"
"The Pope Sliding Toward Death"

Sliding? SLIDING!?!? That hungry vegetable girl didn't take this long.


OK, that was evil. I just appreciate a dramatic exit.

Consdering what day it is, I predict he's gonna pop up in the window at midnight with a big grin, do a cartwheel down to the square and high five the nuns. "Gotcha!"

From: Sam
To: Me
Date: 04/01/05 06:51PM
Re: Poped Out

Yes, that WAS evil.

But while watching the coverage of his Easter mass, I couldn't help but be reminded of A Weekend At Bernie's. I just kept imagining these Cardinals hiding behind the drapes moving his arms and mouth and insisting that everything was A-Okay.

So, I guess I'm evil, too.

It just better not screw up my weekend TV plans; that's all I gotta say.