Archive | August 2013

Death penalty

Two years ago, on July 22nd, Norway stopped. We had been living in a bubble, believing nothing bad would ever happen here. Terrorism was known to happen elsewhere, and even though a few Norwegians had ended up in the line of fire – as collateral damage – most of us truly believed that mass murder and bombs was a thing of the past. Even many of our politicians believed that Norway would be a sanctuary from terror. Some of us, a tiny minority, who work with national security at a daily basis, believed it was a matter of time, and even we didn’t see the lone wolf plotting to bomb our capital, and shoot kids before it was to late.

His bomb killed 8, his guns 69 more. Several hundred was injured, and many of the kids from Utøya still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After the dust settled, people were mad. Mad at the gouvernment who let something like this happen. Mad at the police and the army for not being able to stop him faster. But most of all mad at Breivik for doing this act of terrorism. The people of Norway shouted for gis blood. This is when a girl, who lost several friends at Utøya said the following:

Om én mann kan vise så mye hat, tenk hvor mye kjærlighet vi alle kan vise sammen – If one man has so much hate, just think how much love we all can show together!

The Norwegians went to the streets, a lot of people – around 250.000 in Oslo alone if I remember correctly – with roses. No posters of hate, no slogans of hate, no acts of hate. No, the Norwegian people decided to forget the lone wolf, and spend their energy mourning, and remembering, those we lost that day.

Don’t hate, love!

It was a strong message, and the foreign press had serious problems trying to explain it. Try it yourself. A man blows up a bomb in your capital, and then proceeds to shoot 69 young people on an island nearby! Would your fellow citizens march through the streets with roses, or would they scream bloody murder?

This is the Norwegian mentality, and that’s why most Norwegians are against the death penalty. Why focus on the bastard who did it, when you gain so much when focusing on those that died?

Yes, I know. You don’t want to pay keeping them alive in prison. It’s costing you a lot in taxes to run the maximum security prisons. And they should pay for what they did.

It’s true that my tax money is hard at work keeping Breivik behind bars, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay, because I know that whenever his terrorism comes up as a subject, people start thinking of roses, love, and those that died. We’re not afraid. We don’t hate. He lost! And, he’s alive, so he knows he lost! And he will know that for the rest of his natural life.

Still, Breivik is one of a kind. He spent at least seven years planning his terror. What about “normal” murderers? People who kill one or two, and then get chaught? I firmly believe that by putting them in a cell, they’ll see the error of their way. Sooner or later what they did will sink in, and they’ll feel guilty. Killing a human is doing something to your mind. Even soldiers in a war zone know that. And I’m sure the executioner can feel it too.

I am opposed to state sanctioned murder. I am opposed to the eye for an eye line of thought. I am all for love!

I bet a lot of people will disagree, and I hope they’ll tell me so in the comments they leave behind! Let’s discuss this.

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Abortion

Hot topic coming up! Abortion, is it something we need, is it bad, is it murder, is it sometimes a good thing? I’ll add my thoughts to the debate, and see what happens.

First of all, to me abortion is a choice that should be avilable, because if it’s illegal people will sometimes try to force a miscarriage, and that can be really dangerous. Yes, I mean dangerous to the woman.

So, with that off the chest, let’s get down to business. Is abortion murder?
I know that a lot of people say yes, and a lot of people say no to this question, and I’m sure there are some fence-sitters hanging around at the back watching the fight – as there always are when the big questions are asked. The anti-abortionists (or pro-lifers as that sounds more positive) might say things like: “Even first-trimester fetuses can feel pain.”, or “Fetuses become conscious at 8 weeks.”, or even “Human life begins at conception.” I’m sorry, but the three statements here are false.

When does human life begin? Human life actually begins prior to conception, because each sperm and egg cell is a living thing. It is more relevant to discuss when sentience, or self-awareness, begins. In 2000, the British House of Lords established a Commission of Inquiry into Fetal Sentience, which estimated that higher-level brain development begins to commence at about 23 weeks. In other words, it’s not really a human at conception, but it is a living organism. (Granted, it’s smaller than a gnat, but it is alive.) It is more a lump of cells than anything resembling a human being though, and the body itself will miscarriage if there’s something really bad happening as the cells divide. Spontanious abortions are both common and natural in the first trimester.

About conciousness: Fetuses begin to develop a minimal brain stem at 7 weeks, but are not capable of consciousness until the third trimester and most likely remain unconscious until birth. As one brain scientist puts it: “the fetus and neonate appears incapable of […] experiencing or generating ‘true’ emotion or any semblance of higher order, forebrain mediated cognitive activity.”

As for the first-trimester fetuses, fetal nerve cells can react to trauma, but pain reception requires a neocortex–which is not formed until early in the third trimester. This means that a fetus that’s less than six months most probably will not feel pain because their nerves haven’t started working yet.

Thus, as the fetus can’t feel, hasn’t got any conciousness, and is at risk of an spontanious abortion for more than the first trimester, I cannot classify it as a human. In the last part of the third trimester though, I’d say it’s starting to be more and more a human. And yet the body might shut down right before birth, and the child is stillborn. (Maybe because it wouldn’t be able to live outside the womb.) And by that, I’d say No, having an abortion is not murder.

Is an abortion always a bad choice? Well, this one is a bit less tricky to me. If the woman get pregnant from a rape, I think she should be allowed to get an abortion if she wants it. If the woman learns that she most likely will die from giving birth, I also think an abortion is right. Heck, even if it’s interfering with her career, I think she should be allowed an abortion, because as I sated above – the fetus isn’t human.

My last thought on the matter is this. The world is over populated, and the resources are getting harder to divide. Is it a bad thing not to bring even more children into the world? I don’t know.

Why am I an atheist?

In Norway, people don’t react when you say you’re an atheist, as most people are really relaxed when it comes to religion. We are one of the worlds most secular countries, and I think that’s a good thing. (Obviously, as I’m an atheist, right?) Still, most Norwegians haven’t really thought about where they stand when it comes to the church. “I am going to christen my child, because it’s tradition. It has to happen in church, right” is a common statement from people I know for a fact never enter a church (except on Christmas Eve, another tradition!). “Oh, and my wedding has to be in the church. You know, it’s tradition!” Or how about this? “I’m going to get confimated in the church, or my grandparents won’t give me a present.” More traditional thinking.

We go to church at selected times, Christmas Eve, to baptize our children, or to get married. And for funerals. The rest of the time we don’t think about church, God, or Jesus. (Of course, there are people who actually are religious in Norway too, but not as many as in other countries.)

My parents are among those people. They go to church almost every Sunday. (Well, my father really has to go, as he’s a lutheran minister, and I don’t think he’d last long in that job if he refused going to church.) My mother is, an this is only based on my observations, a lot more religious than my father, the minister, and she doesn’t only go to church, she is often helping out by reading from the Bible, and doing other tasks that needs to be done to get through the mass. (Can I say mass when they’re lutheran, or is that only catholic?) When I was a child, she was the teacher at the sunday school, where I had to go because she’s my mother and she told me to. I guess at first I thought it was nice, as we sang a few songs, heard a few stories from the Bible, and had lemonade or hot chocolate, but around the age of 9 I guess I started to really feel uncomfortable. (They dragged me there until I was almost 13, and at the end I really hated it!) You see, I had my own Bible, and I read it. From start to end. All of it, even the long lists of names. And I started wondering. Why do they always chat about the cozy parts, and never about the scary stuff? (OK, the exodus from Egypt is a bit “scary”, but not when told at sunday school.)

I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that’s not allowed, right? (Deuteronomy comes to mind.) And there’s a lot of war, and not to mention a lot of stuff that’s just weird. (Parts of the Book of Revelation seems to be written by someone high on LSD or something.) Why didn’t we talk about that? We had covered Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, the wedding of Cana, Jesus being born, Jesus being killed, and maybe a few other stories I’ve forgotten, but we never discussed them. We only sat there while it was read to us, and then we sang. I had a lot of unanswered questions.

So, I asked them at home. “If Adam and Eve, the two first humans got two sons, Cain and Abel, who did they make children with?” or “During the flood, why didn’t more than two of each bird sit on the boat?” I soon learned that asking my mother was daft, because she didn’t want to explain my questions, she just said something along the lines of “God works in mysterious ways.” That’s not discussing anything, that’s just another way of saying “Hush, you’re messing up my world view, and I don’t want you to!” Asking my father, now that wasn’t smart either. You ask the question about Cain and Abel and who they made children with, and you sit for two or three hours listening to a lecture about the Bible, Greek, Latin, theology, and a lot of different stuff, and when you just can’t take anymore, and excuse yourself, you realise you haven’t gotten the answer you were looking for.

That’s why I decided to go to other sources. First stop was the library. The librarian is looking at you as if you’re green and from Mars when you’re 14 years old and take home heavy tomes about religion, the Bible, and the Koran. I read them, but I guess they were a bit to advanced for me, because I more often than not had to look up words in the dictionary, and I hadn’t developed any good ways to study yet. Still, I had a project, and I did it in silence, because I didn’t want my parents to find out that I was questioning everything they believe in. (I still haven’t told them that I’m an atheist. I guess I’m a 38 years old child when it comes to speaking with them. I suppose they know though, as I’ve got my father on Facebook, and I post a lot of atheistic stuff there.)

Fast forward to when I was 19 and went to a Christian boarding school (folkehøgskole – it’s kind of like a year where you study what you’re interested in, and looks quite like a summer camp, but it lasts a school year. Let’s just say it’s a Norwegian thing…) where I had classes in Religion, New Religions, and Christianity (and a lot more classes in Band, Drums, and Music in general!) My 19 year old me remembered a lot of what my 14 year old me had read, and I finally found a place to discuss my thoughts. The problem was, it being a Christian school, I was among the very few who questioned religion. And I was among the very few who had read the entire Bible! Needless to say, the discussions had a way to turn into “discussions” where the entire class tried to convice me I was wrong, or worse, they turned into “let’s help him accept Jesus as his Lord and Saviour”. Thankfully, there was a minority at school who had the same questions as I did, but I was the only one who asked them openly. The school year almost ended early when two others and I almost got 14 days suspension for “blasphemy, satanism, atheism and nazism”! Our “crime”? We had turned one of the traditional Norwegian religious songs into a hardcore, industial punk song, and preformed it as the band “Cyberchrist”. (I’m still not sure where the nazism part came from, but whatever.)

At the university, I finally got what I was looking for. It’s called Sociology. (In short: How did our society end up as it is. What happened before our society, and before that?) When we discussed the hunter-gatherer societies transformation into a hortocultural soceity (hortocultural: the cultivation of a garden, orchard, or nursery; the cultivation of flowers, fruits, vegetables, or ornamental plants.) the lecturer said something along the lines of: “Before, as hunter-gatherers, people worshipped the Sun, the Wind, plants, a huge stone, anything that they could say had a ‘spirit’. When they started cultivating the lands, they got a surplus of food, and we saw the rise of specialists. With enough food, you can be a carpenter, mason, or a fletcher, and still be able to eat, because you trade your work for food. And with specialists you’ll get someone who’s richer than others, a ruling class. And what’s a better way to explain why you rule than by religion? So we move from spirit worship to more defined religions and gods. How do you explain that we should go to war against the neighbour? God said it!”

To me, this made absolute sense! People invented religion in order to protect what they had. The Bible is written in what we call the Bronze Age, when some people were hortocultural, while others had gathered in tribes and cities.

Exodus 35:30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.

The Lord has decided that these guys are the ones making artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze. It’s in the Bible. Doesn’t this look like what I spoke of earlier? “Why can’t I make designs in gold, silver and bronze?” Read the Bible bronze age man, it’s the job of Bezalel!

See? And what about being fit to rule?

Ruth 4:18 This, then, is the family line of Perez: Perez was the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, 21 Salmon the father of Boaz, Boaz the father of Obed, 22 Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.

If you’re an average Joe in the Bronze Age, who are you to oppose this? David is the king because his lineage is written in the Bible – nine generations back! So don’t come here and think you know better than David, or than God, who has been watching over Davids family line since the days of Perez! Oh, you don’t know who Perez is? Well, he’s the ancestor of David! It’s in the scripture you silly pesant, now go back to the fields or we’ll flog you for fun!

After this relevation (pun intended!), I read the Bible again, but this time with the eye of a Sociologist. (I’m not a sociologist, but I’m close!) It all made sense! The entire Old Testament is written as a means to rule the masses. Holy crap, Karl Marx was right!

After that, I found the Internet (I’m 38 years old, remember!) where I could read the various atheist blogs, and where I found that I’m not the only one who’s had this experience. I’ve read books by Richard Dawkins, and the others, and I’ve discussed with my religious friends. But, in short – this is why I’m an atheist. Religion is made up to help the ruling class, just like Marx said (he said a lot of things I don’t agree with though, I’m not a marxist!). And today it’s even worse! People use their religious views to kill and maim others, to prosecute people with different thoughts, to ban quite normal things, and to undermine society. In my book, religon is dangerous!

[Cherry] Oral sex

God approves of blowjobs!

Psalms 81:10 Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

It’s what the Bible say, so from now on you can’t refuse if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to go to Hell!!

The joy of air travel

As a roller derby referee, I travel a lot, and as I live on the outskirts of Europe, I normally travel by plane. I mean, why spend tens of hours on a train, when I can be anywhere in the northern parts of Europe in a few hours.

Anyway, there’s a lot to see at airports, and it’s similar everywhere, so here are a few of my observations.

Checking in
I’m normally at the airport early, so I don’t have to stress. The routine is as follows: I use a machine to get my boarding card and luggage tags. To do so you need your booking code. That’s where a smartphone comes in handy. While waiting in line for the machine, I open my mail, so the code is ready when I need it. Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one who is prepared though. People who’s been waiting five to ten minutes in line need to dig through their kit to find the scrap of paper whit the unreadable code – and they wait until they’re at the machine. Still, I’ve got a lot of time, so it’s ok. My hope is that people would come prepared.

Bag Drop
After getting my boarding card, and tags, I go to drop my bags. I normally look for the self drop, because it’s convenient. Guess what? People just don’t understand it! Place your bag on the conveyor, scan the code, and Bob’s your uncle. Don’t place all your bags on the belt at the same time. Don’t try sending your fishing rod, bike, or other weirdly shaped stuff there. It will get stuck, and you will stop the entire system. How can people not understand this?

Security Checkpoint
After dropping my bags, I go to security. Yeah, I know. We don’t like it. But, as long as it’s there, we have to go through it. When I get there, I empty my pockets, remove my ipad, rollerskates, and camera from my carry-on bag, take off my belt and shoes. I’m clean, and my bag only has a book and maybe a hoodie.
The people ahead of me on the other hand… They fail to remove liquids and large electronical items from their bags, they fail to remove their belts, and they keep keys, phones, and other crap in their pockets. Needless to say, the poor schmuck working security tries everything, but no. Full body search and bag check, while the passenger abuses him verbally even though he’s the one not following the rules.
My turn, and there’s no problem. Sometimes I get the random search, but it’s over before it starts as I don’t have any objects anywhere. (And no, I don’t feel violated.)

At the inside
Finally through, I find my gate, so I know where to go when it’s time to board. I browse the stores, read a book, or watch netflix until boarding. Why food, and the stuff they sell at airports is twice as expensive as elsewhere is a mystery to me, but whatever! Boarding time!

Boarding
The moment someone from the airline arrives at the gate, people get in line to board. Not really a bad thing, but I don’t see why they do it. You already know where you’re going to sit. It’s on your boarding card, and the personell normally spend five to ten minutes preparing the gate for boarding. Still, people line up, and wait impatiently. When the gate opens, the line moves. To form a new line to actually get inside the plane. Then you hang around inside the plane while people find their seats, before you’re finally able to sit down. Only to have to unbuckle and get up to let another passenger, who was behind you in the line, sit at the window. I usually wait until most people have boarded, and sometimes even until the personell starts to look around for more passengers. I’m among the last to board. The only trouble might be finding room for my bag. It’s not a problem though, because I can leave my book in my seat, and place my bag somewhere else. Finally we’re on our way, and while the plane taxes to the runway people make their last calls, sends one final text, or mail, or do other stuff on their phones. You know, they’ll be offline for an hour or two now, and it’s scary!

Landing
After the plane lands, and it has taxed to the gate, the ‘Fasten Seatbelts’ light is turned off, and people litterally jump up from their seat. Chaos starts! Or, as my girlfriend named it: “The First Person Off The Plane Game”! People open the overhead compartments to get their stuff, and stand around waiting to exit the plane. For as much as ten minutes. Phones come on again, and people call, text, email, and do whatever. I sit in my (window) seat, reading another chapter, while people get annoyed at me for being calm. Yes, really! One time a guy leaned over the seats to tell me we had landed! No shit Sherlock! Was that what it was? He got angry with me when I replied that I knew, but I didn’t want to take part in the madness.
After almost everybody has left the plane, I get out of my seat, and leave in an orderly fashion, remembering to say goodbye to the crew while smiling.

That’s my story. How do you fly? (Pun intended!)

Visual Contradictions in the Bible

This is too good not to share.

Contradictions in the Bible

An interactive website where the biblical contradictions is shown. I guess I can spend hours there! When you select a line, click it to see the verses that contradict each other, like so:

How should nonbelievers be treated? (Relevant to me, as I’m an atheist!)

Kill them.

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you … Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. — Deuteronomy 13:6-10

Shun them.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? … Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord. — 2 Corinthians 6:14-17

Love and be kind to them.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. — Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8

Love your enemies. — Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27

Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. — Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31

[Cherry] Douglas Adams

I can prove that Douglas Adams was a timetraveler, the proof is in the pudding (or actually in the Bible!). (Maybe he hitched a ride in the TARDIS?) Check this out!

Revelations 13:5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.

Fourty Two! Awesome! The answer to the questions about life, the Universe and everything, it’s in the Bible! (Maybe Douglas Adams helped write that part? As a pun?)