The Raptor  

Your Bridge To The Greatest Generation

The God Page Created 11/28/08 Modified 11/15/10

 

    

Part 22 - Thank You God! - Originally Posted 11/11/2010 

The Raptor’s all time favorite flick has got to be “Animal House”…this late 70’s classic was the best movie ever made and you can take that to the bank.  The movie has soooo many classic lines and scenes that the Raptor has many committed to memory…

Bluto, one of the film’s chief protagonists was played capably by John Belushi, a comedian who had developed his chops while performing at Chicago’s Second City and later at NBC on the Saturday Night Live TV show.  As a matter of fact Belushi was in the SNL’s first skit in 1975 with Michael O’Donohue.

The Raptor certainly has a LOT of Bluto in his carefully crafted persona.  Who can forget his classic cafeteria scene…slurping up that Jell-O was hilarious!...and how about the ladder scene with Mandy Pepperidge…The Raptor liked that one!...One of the greatest scenes in this great flick occurred during the chaotic final parade portion.  After much mayhem and carnage, the Delta Float crashes into another float which is loaded with Playboy Bunnies…as the Bunny Float breaks up, one of the Bunnies is thrust through the air and lands safely in the bedroom of an adolescent child who happens to be reading a Playboy magazine…the young whippersnapper looks to the heavens and screams out…”Thank You God!”

Ok Lets face it…The Raptor has not been too kind to God and his only son, Jesus over these past few years and The Raptor is now starting to feel a little saddened to have gone over the top on this subject.  It was my initial purpose when I started the God Page almost two years ago to perhaps use a public domain to make observations about God and maybe come to some understanding of his existence…or lack thereof…

Well The Raptor is hear to tell you that maybe I was too hasty in my thinking process…maybe God exists after all and is 100% real…so rather than rattle on about how badly God has handled his stewardship of the Earth and his minions…let’s thank Him…

Thank You God…for creating small rocks…your foresight allowed Cain to grab hold of one and crush Abel’s skull…

Thank You God…for creating awesome weeds such cannabis and poppy so that humans could inhale it’s smoky goodness in the form of Pot and Opium…

Thank You God…for creating creatures such as the cow and the deer so that humans could kill them for food.  How awful would it be to have a freaking salad every day!....

Thank You God…for creating minerals such as diamonds, sulphur, charcoal and salt peter so that Captain Kirk was able to construct a crude cannon and defeat the Gorn on Star Trek’s second season thriller…”Arena”…and finally…

Thank You God…for having the foresight to bury carbonous materials deep in the Earth during creation so that humans could later extract the byproduct…oil…turn it in to gasoline and power the hot rod Chevys, Fords and Toyotas which we NASCAR fans love to watch careen around Talladega at 200 miles per hour!...

God…You are the greatest…and don’t You ever forget it!

Part 21 - Does God Really Listen Or Is That All There Is - Originally Posted 09/09/2010 

The Raptor has spent an adult lifetime wrestling with issues of The Faith.  I have several acquaintances who live and breathe Faith.  And for them, their beliefs are real and profound.  But, any dialog that The Raptor posts here certainly needs to be taken with a grain of salt...what ever that means...sure I can sometimes be a little offensive....but it's people like Reverend Jones who really tick me off!...here is something to consider...

If there was a God, he would have to be capable of knowing in advance that this dope was going to erupt.  That is why God is all knowing and all powerful.  Since Jones has been able to get this far...there must be a reason...and don't give me that Satan angle...that is pure unmitigated bull crap!...actually now that I am looking at Reverend Jones picture - I sense something....something I haven't felt for a long, long time...ooops a Star Wars flashback....if the Country Club Christians can't do something about this...how is God supposed to?...Maybe he is busy...who knows...

Part 20 - My Bible Is Better Than Your Quran - Originally Posted 09/08/2010 

The Country Club Christians newest superstar is the Rev. Terry Jones...

The Rev. Terry Jones has said he plans to burn copies of the Quran to protest the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the White House and the top U.S. general in Afghanistan say that doing so would endanger American troops overseas.

If this goof ball is promoting the Word of God and could look an interviewer in the face and state that "Jesus would approve of his actions" says all you need to know about Christianity in 2010.  How foolish is a man who would subscribe to this sort of one upmanship as if religious viewpoints were tantamount to some sporting contest.  Not only is Jones a stupid man but he probably has issues with his Church Secretary...especially when he parades around with mutton chop sideburns...as far as The Raptor is concerned he is just another creep using religion to promote the lining of his pocket just like every other "Christian" evangelist on the planet.

So if any one who reads this is offended as I lump you in with Reverend Jones as you are guilty by association...I am not sorry.  If you were real Christians...you would run that bum out of town on a rail...instead you will probably secretly admire and condone Reverend Jones actions even if it means seeing some consequences when the next shoe drops...

Part 19 - Heaven and Hell - Originally Posted 08/12/2010 

On August 24 in the year 79, Mount Vesuvius exploded and spewed tons of molten debris and sulfuric gas miles into the sky.  The region around the volcano contained thriving communities such as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Naples.  This area was thought by many to be a “Heaven on Earth” as it had rolling landscapes, lush vegetation and of course the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean…

As the eruption rained down its fiery ash, the inhabitants of these once beautiful cities must have been able to experience a new sensation…that being “Hell on Earth”

Heaven and Hell…the perfect dichotomy.  Up/Down, Black/White, North/South, Salt/Pepper, Yes/No…Ginger/Mary Ann…choices always need to be made and choosing between Heaven and Hell seems obvious at first glance.  After all, Heaven must be a fabulous place.  Last evening, I dined with a group of golfers who are some of the finest, upstanding members of the community at large. 

During the course of the conversations, the topics ranged from shot values at Lake Shore CC to class reunions and ultimately to sobering issues such as war, murder, killing, abortion and the attitudes and expectations of the peoples of this Earth.

I recall that the killing/war/murder themes were developed as a result of reviewing Erie’s Catholic Community Leader, Bishop Donald Trautman’s policies regarding the recent visit of Hillary Clinton to Mercyhurst College.  Trautman’s attitude went something like this…Hillary Clinton believes in a right to choose when it comes to abortion.  The Catholic Church has in its wisdom stated that abortion is murder.  Therefore, as a show of solidarity, Bishop Trautman refused to attend Ms. Clinton’s address and snubbed her.

Bully for the Bishop.  But another theme was propagated by one of the group that Bishop Trautman had not objected to the American involvement in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since these wars were in effect “murdering” people what’s the difference between war and abortion since somebody died?  So Bishop Trautman is a two face ala former Vice President Dick Cheney who talked out of both sides of his mouth.

A third member of our group stated that killing in a war is acceptable and justifiable but senseless killing by abortion is murder.  Well…The Raptor is pretty sure he could knock that softball right out of the park…the bottom line is that killing is bad and it’s a sin and if you’re a killer…your not getting to Heaven.

Oh really?...the final theme of last nights discussion was a reference to the Vatican II decision to recognize that non baptized individuals could “get” to Heaven which according to one group member was a offshoot of themes and theories which had been developed but supra pagan…Martin Luther…about 500 years ago. 

At this point it dawned on the Raptor that all this talk about Heaven may have some significance.  And what I am getting at here is whether or not someone can “get” to Heaven.  It appears that modern Christians or what The Raptor refers to as “Country Club Christians” somehow have fooled themselves into believing that if they talk about God enough and spend a lot of time in Church and avoid meat on Fridays in Lent…they will get to Heaven….Fat Chance…

Where is Heaven exactly?  Is it up there in the clouds? Or is it in some parallel universe?  Chances are it’s nowhere.  But in the minds of those weak minded fools who continually spend there time trying to get to Heaven, they figure that what we see in a “Heaven on Earth” whether it’s a fabulous beach in the Mediterranean or a spectacular waterfall in British Columbia or perhaps a fancy retirement condo in The Villages is what they are going to get when they move on up…

 

   
Heaven... Hell...

 

How about this gang…let’s say you get to Heaven and it turns out to be awful…lets say God is a buzz kill and you get put on garbage detail your first day since you are a newbie…could you then move somewhere else? Perhaps over to Hell when junk is lying around all over the place and everyone is wearing dirty laundry?  It’s a long shot but I am thinking that once you get to Heaven…you will be stuck there and it may not be as elegant as you had hoped…

Part 18 - Welcome To The Modern World, Jesus - Originally Posted 08/10/2010 

The Raptor is getting increasingly agitated over the use of social networking sites such as FaceBook to market stuff...not only do Restaurants and Various folks hawk their specials...we now are inundated with the continued promotion of "Jesus" and "God" as well.  This kind of "devotion" probably has Jesus spinning in his grave!!!!!   C'mon people give it a break will ya!...

 

If you feel compelled to propagate your faith do it in your church...that is how The Raptor rolls...it is unfair to befriend someone and then start posting messages about how much you love God and or Jesus...The Raptor loves cheeseburgers but I don't tell everyone in the world about it...FaceBook is supposed to be a social network...not a church

Most recently I had been watching a History Channel special on the Earth or...was it The Universe?...anyhow this is a show which discussed geologic events which occurred billions to millions of years ago during the formation of the continents and the origin of species including man...when The Raptor watches shows like this he is filled with a sense of amazement that a perfect dichotomy exists between the formation of the Earth and belief in a God.

How silly it is to get on FaceBook and tell everyone how you love Jesus...Jesus was a man just like you and me.  He was a savvy student of the times and knew about prophesy.  He was a carpenter and a fisherman.  Everyone in Judea at that time was either a carpenter, a fisherman or a stone mason.  There were no professional athletes commanding big salaries.  There were no big oil companies spewing their product on to the shores in Galilee. The rock stars of the time were Pharisees, High Priests and Prophets.  

Corvettes didn't exist and homes didn't have air conditioning.  Jerusalem was a chithole!  The Jews murdered Jesus and probably stole his corpse and buried it in the desert to piss off his Apostles.  Jesus' Apostles created a mythical quality about the man which has given weak minded fools like the FaceBook Country Club Christians cause to sit around telling each other how much they love Jesus.

What about all those other Gods?...Zoraster, Zeus, Jupiter, Baal, Isis, Ra...are the people who love(d) them wrong?...Would you put up a fuss if somebody put up an Adolph Hitler FaceBook Page and 300,000 idiots said they loved Hitler?

I said it before and I will say it again.  If you want to propagate your faith and spread His word...put on some sack cloth, quit your jobs where you spend way too much time on FaceBook and go nurse the poor and the sick.  Quit filling up my FaceBook Wall with your sugar...put something meaningful on about watering your Farmville crops...The Raptor enjoys those Farmville icons...

 

Part 17 - God...Phil Mickelson...andThe Masters - Originally Posted 4/20/10

The Raptor hadn't given it much though come Sunday evening April 11th as Phil Mickelson walked up the 18th fairway at Augusta National on his way to the putting surface where he would can a 8 foot birdie putt and win his third Masters Championship.  You see...it's apparent, and The Raptor never realized it but...a "higher authority" controls all of what happens in this world...Consider this email that The Raptor received yesterday which sums up the tournament results...

"For the past few days, while I tried to enjoy one of the greatest golf tournaments in the world, all I was entertained with was the Tiger Woods show.  As soon as one golfer would hit a tee shot or make a putt, it seemed that the next view would be that of Tiger Woods.  Tiger Woods just missing a putt that would have put him in contention with the other golfers.  Tiger Woods hooking his drive which showed how his time off had hurt his game.  Tiger Woods trying to respect the game.  How it seemed that the Tiger was able to put his past transgressions behind him and was able to concentrate on the job at hand.  It just kept going on and on about Tiger this and Tiger that. 

On the other hand, a little miracle was occurring at the Masters; one golfer just kept smiling.  He smiled if he made a good drive, or if he made a bad drive.  He smiled if he made a 50 foot putt or missed a 5 foot putt.  As he walked between holes, he smiled and shook hands with the crowd.  He never cursed a bad stroke or blamed another person for a miss.  All he did was smile.

Why would Phil Mickelson be smiling?  Here was a man whose wife has breast cancer.  Here was a man whose mother has breast cancer.  Here is a man who rather than allow his wife and mother to fight this battle by themselves, took time off from the PGA tour to be with them.  Here was a man that returned to the game he loved when his wife ordered him to.  Here was man, who was so glad for the miracle that was happening as his wife moved closer to a cure, that he rewarded her oncologist by allowing him to be his guest caddy at last weeks golf tournament.  This move, which could have cost Mickelson thousands of dollars in purse money, was his gift to a man he knew he could never thank enough for what he had given to him.  

During the last round today, Phil's wife was staying in their hotel room since she was still weak from the chemo treatments she is receiving.  Phil did not know as he walked up to the 18th tee that his wife would be there.  All Phil did was smile.  He smiled to the crowds, he smiled to the TV audience, he smiled to God.  After his last putt found the bottom of the hole, he hugged his caddy and others and walked to the scorer's shack.  He then gave the biggest smile of the whole four days.  He saw his wife, and even in the midst of thousands of people, it seemed that only two were there.  

Tomorrow I am going to smile.  I am going to smile if it is nice weather or bad.  I am going to smile at the driver who honks his horn at me, or the driver who cuts me off.  I am going to smile if I get the order or not.  And when the day is done, I am going to save my biggest smile for the person who makes me complete.  Then I am going to look to the heavens and give thanks for being able to smile. 

Thanks Phil!  God bless you and your family.  And keep on smiling!"

Oh really?...miracle?...smiled to God?...look to the heavens?...God Bless you?...so is this how it works?...was it God who smote Amy Mickelson with the cancer which gave her husband Phil the strength and courage to battle Tiger Woods and a cast of 94 other players so that this anonymous emailer could draw his own strength in order to smile at boorish behavior and head home at the end of a rough day to smile at his wife?...

This is the stuff that drives The Raptor nuts...and the real problem is that if The Raptor objects to this sugar coated metaphysical mush he is then branded anti-Christian by those who have been suckered into believing that God had a hand in the outcome.  The Raptor smiles all the time and I frown a lot too - I am just a regular kind of guy...

Part 16 - You Can't Make This Stuff Up (Thanks Ray) - Originally Posted 4/08/10

The Raptor had "heard" and "seen" evidence that those individuals who have been clinging to a "Intelligent Design Theory" have used the web to promote their agenda.  Here are some photo and content submitted for your approval

 

The Raptor would like to point out that all this content is culled from another site (www.flickr.com) and it's awesome...the tongue-in-cheek dialog associated with this picture of Jesus with a Raptor makes me laugh every time I read it...

 

Dad, did dinosaurs really exist?...
Sure they did, son. The Bible says so. They didn't call them "dinosaurs" back then, but instead they were known as "leviathans" or "behemoths".
 

But, my science teacher says dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. Is that true?...
Of course not, son.
 

Then how old are they?...
Well, let's see. The Bible tells us [from Adam and Eve's family tree] that the Universe is only a few thousand years old. So dinosaurs had to have lived within the past few thousand years. That's simple logic, son.
 

Oh. So that means they were on Noah's Ark?...
Absolutely! The Bible says two of every animal were brought [by God] to the ark. Dinosaurs were animals. So, using your logic again son, dinosaurs had to be on the ark.
 

Huh. So how come scientists say they're older than that? and died way before Jesus?...
Well, son, they just make that up. Dinosaur bones don't have labels on them to tell how old they are. In fact, there is no proof whatsoever that the world and its fossil layers are millions of years old. No scientist saw dinosaurs die-
 

Dad!...
No I'm serious. Scientists only find the bones in the here and now, and because many of them are evolutionists, they try to fit the story of the dinosaurs into their view.
 

That's sad. But I thought scientists were smart?...
Sure, but they don't know everything. So they have to make stuff up to fit their beliefs. While you and I, we have the facts, straight from the Bible.

I don't want to be a scientist!...
Ha! That's ok, son. It's better to be right, than smart. C'mon, wanna learn how to flip burgers like your Dad?

Yeah!

 

Check out what one individual wrote in the www.flickr.com sit at location: www.flickr.com/photos/bar-art/414998399/

 

From StringTheory31:

"Actually, the more we learn through science (real science, meaning study of things we can actually observe, not mere speculation) the more the Bible has been proven correct. Check out AnswersInGenesis.org; they've got a lot of great stuff about it.

And as far as discrimination is concerned, Ben Stein's new movie, "Expelled," makes it pretty clear which "side" is behaving more like a threatened religious group, holding desperately to their faith in something which lacks evidence. As a Christian, I have no problem at all with the Theory of Evolution being presented in schools, provided the Theory of Intelligent Design is presented along with it. Any other theories are welcome to join the party as well; after all, how can students develop scientific critical thinking skills unless they are free to explore alternatives and draw their own conclusions based on an open-minded view of the evidence? Many evolutionists, however, are not only determined to keep their view the only one presented in the classroom, but also don't want professors, scientists, etc. to even acknowledge that competing views exist.

If evolution is so over-overwhelmingly supported by the evidence, why not let the facts be examined, and the evidence speak for itself?"

From Travis S.:

"So why should science class be turned into a religion class? There's an appropriate place for that as well. Are you really saying that we should bring in creation theories from across the globe to the science classroom? If so, then maybe you should listen to the Mayan creation story.

The Mayans said that there were three failed attempts at making humans. The gods wanted to make beings that could work, walk, and talk.

However, on their first try they came up with beings that could only squawk, chatter, and howl. They also could not use their arms to do work. These beings turned out to be the ancestors of animals.

Their second try they made beings from mud. Unfortunately these beings were unable to walk or turn their heads or even keep a solid shape. Eventually these beings were unable to reproduce and dissolved into nothing.

With their third try, the gods attempted to make humans out of wood. These wooden people at first seemed to be a success as they could walk, talk, and reproduce , but it was eventually seen that these were also people who could not keep themselves attached to a strict schedule, nor did they revere their makers as they should.

So a huge storm was cast down on these people, creating a massive deluge with monsters that attacked them. After all is said and done, the only remaining descendants of this group were monkeys.

The fourth and final attempt has one of the gods grinding white and yellow corn that is mixed with water that creates the human flesh. Four people are created from this corn paste: Jaguar Quitze, Jaguar night, Not Right Now, and Dark Jaguar. These four men form the partilineages of the Maya.

This is how humans were created in the eyes of the Maya. In some ways it is similar to your story, as you might say that people were created from dust. I suppose it depends on how literal you take the Bible to be. You may or may not.

But my question remains, that if you do not take the Bible literally, then what do you propose you will teach children in classrooms if not religious stories such as these? Then with that in mind, which stories do you propose that you expose the children to, as seemingly there is an abundance of people that says that their creation story is correct? And then again on this line, how much is too much when you have to fill you lectures with various religious stories when you start to realize that you're leaving the SCIENCE behind? Science teaches of ways in which one can experiment within their natural world to learn something new. The Bible is old news, we already have it written out for us, it's established. We need to learn how we can push forward our knowledge base rather than falling back on something that is static and has no future trajectory. Sure there is knowledge embedded in that Book, but aside from helping us understand how we should morally see the world, does it really help us out with how we actually see the physical world? It gives us a cultural context to work with, that's about it.

So all I'm saying, and maybe you agree, is that in a science class, as long as it's only told that there is a possibility of an Intelligent Designer (be it based on Christian, Mayan, etc. theology), while asserting that there's no scientific proof backing it up, this would be acceptable to me as long as it was kept simple and ambiguous. But if you want to draw in the philosophy and ideological debate behind it, then that should be reserved for another class in the social sciences rather than the natural sciences."

 

 

So lets sum up...StringTheory wants to insert the previously mentioned "Intelligent Design Theory" which has been championed by such "thinkers" as George W. Bush and Rick Santorum into a "match" against The Theory Of Evolution" and may the better theory win.  This is silly...we've been through this whole thing before..most recently in the Dover, Pennsylvania court case which you can read about at:

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

The Raptor can not in any sense of the imagination believe that any sane, normal individual could promote a Theory of Intelligent Design.

On the other hand The Raptor is thinking that Travis has some good points except his accomodation to have a discussion on the two theories is crazy...

 

Part 15 - More From The Opinion Pages - Originally Posted 3/26/10

Dave Heintzel, a frequent contributor to the Times News Op-Ed page wrote to the newspaper in January to register his opinion on the issue of taxing churches...the thread started when another frequent contributor, Mark Amatangelo wrote to the Times on January 3rd, 2010 that these churches (all churches?) should pay tax.  I am only guessing here but I am thinking this is a call for payment of real-estate taxes.

Mr Heintzel writes:

"Churches are not companies that try to make a profit.  They are organizations that provide a public service.  They provide a place for people to worship, and also, they help the poor and the sick.

If churches and other charitable organizations are taxed, then their efforts will be severely hindered.

Do atheists really want to eliminate churches?  It is Christians who are among the first to take care of the poor and sick."

The Raptor is conflicted on the taxing of churches.  While Heintzel is on safe ground with his opinion, there is a certain dangerous vector which is in play here.  Taxes are not good.  They seem to be a constant irritant on a society.  The officials who regulate the taxing of its citizenry seem to do their job in a most inefficient fashion.  This puts society at risk since the taxes which flow to the governments are used primarily to return services to the citizenry. 

When we speak of a church we generally are envisioning a building situated on some ground which allows it's patrons to gather and worship.  And...according to Mr. Heintzel, church goers also help the poor and the sick.  A church is more than a building though, since it had to have been founded and its founders in many cases contributed their own funds to help the churches grow.  Once a church is founded, its mission is to continue to grow by converting more bodies who can promote the cause...which is to worship and help the poor and the sick.

This seems to be an integral key to promoting the Word of God.  It is difficult to promote The Word while you’re sitting in your home alone.  And God certainly can't promote his word himself...based on what The Raptor can recall from his reading of scripture, God did speak to his flock early on (Check Out The Classic Film "The Ten Commandments"...God speaks to Moses...very deep voice...resonant) but, after some reconsideration, God decided to speak through allegory, hyperbole and thoughtful introspective after King David had Uriah The Hittite murdered.  As a result of the King's transgressions, his son Solomon became King, took many wives, taxed the citizens and lived a life of luxury.

That is where The Raptor gets motivation.  Today's Christians are vastly different from the Christians who watched Jerusalem burning in flames in 70 AD or were perhaps chomped by lions in the Roman Circus.  If there is one trait that seems to permeate from modern Christian's, it's that they have become "Country Club Christians".

"We can't be taxed...it will diminish the impact of our mission"...or..."Atheists want to eliminate churches"....or..."I'll see you next Saturday at the club and we can finalize that deal"

So what about it - the first issue is the comparison of "Christians" to other forms of worship.  The Christian faith developed through a lengthy process...(see Part 13)...the faith was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church until 1517 when Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses up.  Subsequently, at The Council of Trent - 1545 a division of ideology occurred which resulted in the formation of alternative Christian religious sects such as Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists and a host of other "pagan" faiths.

These Christians were hounded, scourged and beaten for centuries and ultimately had to flee to The New World, where they systematically eliminated the Native Americans in order to continue to promote The Word of God while worshiping Him and helping the poor and the sick.

If Christians really wanted to be Christians (to worship God and help the poor and the sick), they should give up all the trappings and don sack cloth.  They should help the poor and the sick every day by going door to door raising some loose change and then worship by night while fasting.  But, Christians are not like that any more.  Instead, Christians swarm to fancy talkers like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. These "representatives" of God seem to be made of millions of dollars...and it’s because they like to talk about worshiping God while helping the poor and the sick.

This appeals to individuals like Dave Heintzel, who have grown comfortable worshiping God while helping the poor and the sick as long as it doesn’t cost anything.  This concept that churches should be tax exempt is critical to churches.  If these religious organizations had to operate like all of the rest of the businesses, the hypocrites who attend services would stay home in droves. 

Lets use a golf analogy here...The Raptor spends about $3,000.00 to $4,000.00 per year out of pocket to enjoy playing golf...primarily on the weekends.  Keep in mind that my out of pocket is a lot less than others that I know.  Our golf season lasts about 8 months or about 35 weekends.  That means The Raptor is spending $125.00 per weekend to "go to my church".  Can you imagine anyone dropping $125.00 in the collection basket every weekend?...To sit in a stuffy building while a fat minister tells them how bad they are while turning around a coax some poor bastards wife into his cloakroom.  Christians would be better off to purchase an Xbox game that simulates going to go to church.  Then, Christians could have more resources to help the poor and the sick.

 

Part 14 - The Catholic Bishops Dilemma - Originally Posted 01/03/10

The Raptor read with keen interest a recent article in the Times News which was published on November 27th, 2009.  The text was submitted by James Drane, a professor at Edinboro University and the title of his piece was: "Right-wing bishops abandon 'core of Jesus' morality'" - What did the author intend with this controversial opinion? Well..Let's check it out...Drane writes...

"At this year's national conference, the Catholic bishops should have been more supportive of Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman's campaign to reform liturgical language.  

And in the same conference, they should have addressed the scandal caused by some of their own.  

The word scandal means discredit brought upon religion by the unseemly conduct of religious persons. The unseemly conduct of some bishops takes place in public and centers on the issue of abortion. 

The discredit caused by the bishops contributes to a continuing stream of Catholics leaving the church. According to one estimate, fallen-away Catholics now make up the second largest "religious denomination" in the U.S. 

Raymond Burke, formerly the archbishop of St. Louis, is a person with a reputation for causing scandal. Back in 2004, he was the first bishop to advocate denial of communion to U.S. Sen. John Kerry because Kerry disagreed with Burke's insistence upon criminalization of abortion as the only way to handle the issue.  

Then Burke expanded the scandal by extending denial of communion to all politicians who approve legalization of abortion, even under very limited conditions, such as rape, incest or threat to a woman's life. He issued a warning that any Catholic who votes for a politician who would allow abortion should not receive communion.  

Burke's scandalous conduct extends even toward fellow bishops. He criticized all bishops who did not join the protests against the University of Notre Dame's faculty and students for inviting President Barack Obama to speak. He charged that the majority of American bishops were responsible for Obama's election because they approved consideration by voters of other issues besides abortion. 

Suddenly, Pope Benedict XVI moved Burke out of the U.S., assigning him to a job inside the Vatican. This removed him from the American political scene but did not stop his scandalous conduct. 

In late September, the now Vatican bureaucrat charged that Cardinal Archbishop of Boston Sean O'Malley was under the influence of Satan, the father of lies, for participating in the funeral mass for Sen. Edward Kennedy, who had disagreed with Burke about abortion legislation.

Burke wants those who disagree with him on abortion to be denied communion, Catholic funeral services and to be publicly ejected from the church.  

If this archbishop had his way, he would turn the Catholic Church into a small sect of abortion-legislation extremists. In effect, he would turn the church into a sect of Pharisees, similar to the Jewish sect that was in constant conflict with Jesus during his lifetime.  

The Pharisees were a sect focused exclusively on laws and strict observance of laws. The word pharisee in Hebrew and Aramaic means the separated ones. They were separated from other believers because of their obsession with legal purity. Focus on laws, extreme legal positions, immersion in minute legal details -- this was the mindset that Jesus confronted during his ministry. He rejected this viewpoint and tried to free people from its burdens.

Jesus would be shocked to see this inhumane form of religion re-emerging, of all places, in his own community. Pharisees in Jesus' time objected to paying even the smallest tax required by Roman law. Jesus responded with his example of a coin with Caesar's image and the statement, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. ..." 

Then they pressured Jesus to specify the greatest law. He responded, "Love the Lord with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself." These teachings of Jesus seem lost to the group of bishops obsessed with minutiae of any proposed abortion legislation and nothing else.  

One of the similarly inclined bishops in the U.S. is Thomas Tobin, bishop of Providence, R.I. He is a close copy of Burke in his obsession with abortion legislation. 

Following Burke's judgmental style and that of the Pharisees, Tobin recently accused U.S. Rep., Patrick Kennedy -- Edward Kennedy's son -- of falsely identifying himself as a Catholic. He demanded that Patrick Kennedy be denied communion. Why? Because he supported health-care legislation for the poor and needy, even though it provided minimal coverage for limited abortions.  

Following the example of the earlier Pharisees, Tobin insists on total and complete legislative purity in a law's most minute details. 

Tobin, like Burke, redefines what it means to be Catholic. Tobin and Burke and other bishops in their camp redefine Catholic belief. Almost 2000 years of debate and reflection, councils and codes, theologies and creedal statements have all been set aside. "Catholic" for them means voting only for legislation that bans any public money for all abortion.  

All that Jesus taught about love, care for the poor and social justice no longer matters. True followers of Jesus now are advocates for strict legal purity on one moral issue.  

Today's church scandal, caused by Catholic bishops, is alienating large segments of the church population. If the scandal continues, Catholic laypersons, who are more prudent and understand how prudence applies to the construction of legislation, are going to have to oversee Church leadership. The extreme right-wing bishops have abandoned both the core of Jesus' morality and the first of the cardinal virtues, prudence.  

     The present Vatican strategy to control the scandal seems to be removal of the radical right-wing bishops from      their dioceses. They did this with Burke and with the former bishop of Scranton. It will take some time to see  how      often this strategy is used and how well it works."

Now this is interesting stuff and it has resulted in a flurry of responses, including one from the previously mentioned Dave Heintzel (see Part 13 and Part 11)...Mr. Heintzel writes...

" This letter is in response to the Dec. 3rd letter, "Catholic Bishop's Position Questioned."  The writer has a few misconceptions.

We don't have a God-given right to sin.  God gave us the freedom to obey or not because he loves us.  We should obey God out of love, If we don't, then that is sin.

Second, it is not the duty of the church to condemn or forgive.  That is God's job.  The church has the duty to point out sin to us.  Abortion is a sin because it stops a beating heart.  At what point is it right to perform an abortion?  Surely not after the baby has been born. How about the day before or a month before? At what specific day or better yet what minute is the cutoff point when abortion is acceptable?  The Catholic Church is right in saying that abortion is a sin against God's will.

Also, the Catholic Church has changed.  It allows lay people to give communion and allows married lay men to be part of the liturgy by becoming deacons."

The Raptor is always interested in promoting a exchange of ideas.  This abortion issue has become a real hot-potato.  Mr. Heintzel has continue to speak passionately about God's love but The Raptor asks him this...if God loves us so much, he come he is never there when he should be - with all this awfulness in the world, couldn't He get involved in order to straighten out what the Earth has - if your thinking that God is going to fix all with a Rapture - forget about it - you would be better served to make Earth a better place instead of waiting for God to do it

Part 13 - More From The Opinion Pages - Originally Posted 3/10/09

Its been a month since The Raptor archived some fodder from the Erie Times News op-ed pages and fortunately, we have been updated by the previously mentioned Dave Heintzel (see Part 11) with a new thread which further demonstrates how devotion can turn a man's brain into a quivering lump of jelly...Mr. Heintzel writes:

"If you want proof that God is real and that he loves you, then you need look no further than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It must have been true...for Christianity to have even gotten off the ground. 

How could a handful of common men been able to convert Jews and Gentiles with all of the stumbling blocks in the way?  For instance, can you imagine Paul telling a pagan worshiper to worship only his God, Jesus, who was just murdered on a cross?  Or, that God became man to suffer torture and humiliation and death to pay for our sins? 

To follow Jesus, you have to give up all your riches to the poor.  And, oh yeah, you probably will be rejected, persecuted and murdered, maybe even fed to the lions.  This is a blueprint for how not to start an ancient religion.  Yet, despite this, Christianity spread like wildfire.  There must be something to it after all.  He really does love us."

This is a very strong argument as it ties two events together...Jesus being crucified and the formation of a "new" religion. But why is it necessary to worship a God in the first place?  What is gained?  Is it possible that if Paul had not been so fervent in his belief and desire, would the religion we know today have foundered? The Raptor recently spoke to a good friend who is deeply religious.  He stated that there is no other mystery that is so compelling.  According to the dogma, since Jesus died on the cross, arose for being dead and ascended into heaven, God loves us and we should worship him. 

In order to continue this thread... let's delve into the life and times of Jesus Christ...The Raptor would like to thank author of "The Cartoon History of The Universe", Larry Gonick for the framework that is presented here...

After the death of King Herod in four B.C., a period of unrest occurred in the areas surrounding Jerusalem in the land known as Judea.  Several wannabe leaders came this region and attempted to rule the area with the approval of Rome.  Caesar Augustus had attempted to mediate the situation and had tremendous difficulty trying to maintain control of the region.  In the year six, Augustus deposed the leader at that time, Archelaus, who had claimed to be the rightful king and banished him to Gaul.  At that point Judea came under direct Roman control for the first time.

The heir to the Roman throne Tiberius became Roman emperor in the year 14 and he ruled until the year 37.

In the year 21 Tiberius appointed a new procurator for Palestine by the name of Pontius Pilate.  Tiberius instructed Pilate to try and keep the region quiet and to not break the bank doing it.  According to histories of the time, only two of Pilate’s acts are mentioned.  First although he ordered Roman emblems hung in the Jerusalem Temple he removed them to spare the local feelings and secondly he built a 50-mile aqueduct to bring water to Jerusalem. However, the people throughout the region refused to drink the water as it was unclean and of a sacrilegious nature.

In those days the biblical tradition of prophecy still lived.  The Jews had longed for the return of Elijah the Prophet.  They remembered that Isaiah had promised a savior for Israel and now, despite the danger, a number of freelance preachers added their voices to the mainstream of Jewish thought.  John the Baptist taught that sins could be washed away by a bath in the Jordan River. 

It around the year 30 John baptized Jeshua Ben Joseph who subsequently merged into the wilderness to think things over.  After a while, Jeshua returned to recruit followers from John the Baptist’s flock. 

It became clear that Jeshua had the magic touch. He could cure the afflicted or a least exercise their demons and people began to seek him out.  Within a short period of time Jeshua had 12 disciples.  In addition to being  a healer, Jeshua was also a rabbi or teacher.  His teachings covered a lot of ground. Iin fact, it sometimes seems as if there were several Jeshua's.  He was the preacher of peace love and forgiveness.  He was a judgmental furious thunderer.  He was a rabbi among rabbi’s who could quote scripture, which confused other teachers.  He was a visionary who could establish complex thoughts such as the comparing the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed.  Jeshua had interesting opinions. At one gathering  he said that: “after one daemon goes out of your body it usually comes back with seven friends”. Another time he said that: “it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven”.  He also had the capability of stating that: “by drinking my blood and eating my flash you shall be saved”.

The 12 Apostles were sometimes mystified about the variable thoughts and opinions of Jeshua.  For example, this vision of the Kingdom of God.  Was the rabbi promising to restore a righteous throne to Israel or was he claiming to be the Messiah himself.  To sound out his politics someone asked him a question about tax policy.  They wanted to know if they should pay taxes both to the Romans and the Temple and Jeshua stated that they should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render under God what is God's”.  Most folks at that time didn’t know what that meant.

Jeshua had a sort of 13th disciple who was a well-to-do woman named Mary Magdalene. Mary was attracted to Jeshua because he had raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.  According to the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene, she was involved with Jeshua in a romantic capacity.  There is a popular anecdote that states that one night she was massaging Jeshua was the most expensive ointment money could buy.  Judas, one of the disciples, who handled the finances for the group was outraged and stated that they could sell the ointment in order to give the money to the poor.  Jeshua stated that: “they would always have the poor but they wouldn’t always have me”.  Judas began to believe that Jeshua was another luxury loving power tripper.

Jeshua would never come out and directly state that he was the Messiah.  He was showing signs of strain and instructed one of his disciples to go and find a young donkey.  They were filled with hope because the prophet Isaiah had promised that the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem on a juvenile burro.  When they reached Jerusalem, Jeshua had a tantrum and made a spectacle in the public market where he disrupted the business of the moneychangers.

It wasn't long before the authorities decided to get rid of the troublemaker.  They reasoned that his politics were like dynamite but they couldn't arrest him by day because they may have faced another slaughter in the market and they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to find him in the middle of the night until Judas came forward and helped identify Jeshua to the arresting officers with a kiss.  In the struggle Simon Peter, another one of the disciples, cut off the ear of the high priest's servant.

The next thing everybody knew Jeshua was tried, convicted, tortured and by the order of Pontius Pilate himself crucified between two common thieves.  The Roman soldiers who conducted the crucifixion hypothesized that he couldn't have been that important because they let all his followers go.  The body was cut down early because Friday night was coming and no executions were allowed to continue on the Sabbath.  Raptor note: Executions must have been pretty popular back then.  Jeshua was interred in a cave with a rock over its mouth.

Sunday morning it was discovered that the body was gone after individuals had gone back to the cave to clean and dress Jeshua's body.  Scripture states that Mary Magdalene saw him alive and she stated that he had a arisen from the dead. Mary Magdalene was about to describe what Jeshua had told her but, the remaining disciples decided to not take the Word of God from a woman and from that point forward Mary’s name vanished from the Bible.  For the next several months the remaining disciples stuck together and they returned to the Temple to preach the gospel that Jeshua had died on the cross risen from the dead and ascended into heaven but that he might come back at any time. They asked the individuals listening to their speeches to repent and be baptized in Jeshua’s name and gradually the followers of this “Way” attracted converts.

These were crucial years for the followers of the Way.  At first the group was just another Jewish sect with some un-Orthodox practices such as not washing before meals and speaking in tongues, which they called possession by the Holy Spirit.  Some Romans who were curious about local politics invited Simon Peter to preach at an officers home.  Simon was hesitant to do it but he iltimately accepted the invitation.  Simon began his sermon but shortly thereafter the individuals in the room started to speak in tongues. Simon concluded that the Holy Spirit could possess anyone so he baptized the lot of them and returned to Jerusalem with the news. 

The sect still faced persecution from the local religious leaders and when one of the converts named Stephen insulted the high priests he was stoned to death. On another occasion James The Apostle was executed upon the orders of Herod Agrippa.  But Saul, one of the persecutors had a vision on the way to Damascus.  After the vision and without authorization from Jerusalem Saul announced in Damascus that Jeshua was the Son of God.  This annoyed the Syrian Jews and he had to flee in darkness by hiding in a basket and being dropped over the wall of the city.

Back in Jerusalem the apostles would not let Saul into the congregation.  So Saul left town to preach the gospel elsewhere and he got results among the Greeks as well as the Jews.  This raised a ticklish problem:  to what degree did the converts have to obey Jewish laws.  At first, the leaders of the Jewish sect stated that it would be a simple matter of avoiding pork, celebrating some new holidays, keeping two sets of dishes and one final proviso: all the men would have to be circumcised.  This alarmed the Greek's so Saul went back to Jerusalem and put the question to the elders to circumcise or not to be circumcised.  After some consultation the elders decided that the converts had to give up blood sacrifices, strangulation and sex in the temples but otherwise they would not have to be circumcised.  To the Greeks this was welcome news.

Suddenly it was clear that this was no mere Jewish sect but a new religion. The Greek believers called themselves Christians - it should be noted that the Greek word Christos is the same as Messiah and Jeshua the Messiah became Jesus Christ.  Saul changed his name to Paul and became the church's roving ambassador, putting his personal stamp on the young religion.  The rest they say is history.

 

Part 12 - The Ten Commandments - Originally Posted 2/26/09

The Raptor has been thinking as of late about The Ten Commandments.  It was perhaps two or three months ago, when The Raptor began developing “The God Page” that I felt homage to The Commandments was appropriate.

First, The Raptor would like to present the posting of a friend who recently sent The Raptor an email called “Agree Or Delete”.  The premise of this thread was to read the statements and in the event that The Raptor agreed with them to pass them along to others.  Alternatively, if The Raptor were to not agree than it was my duty to delete the email. Tough choices

As it turned out, The Raptor copied the statements to this larger file and then The Raptor deleted the email.  The Raptor did not necessarily feel strongly one way or another, however, The Raptor very rarely forwards email for a reason.  Somehow, The Raptor believes that the forwarding process somehow is used as a way to mine for email addresses in order to increase the distribution lists of spammers. 

 

"AGREE OR DELETE 

DID YOU KNOW? 

As you walk up the steps to the building which houses the U.S Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world's law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view ... it is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments! 

DID YOU KNOW? 

As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments Engraved on each lower portion of each door. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall, right above where the Supreme Court judges sit, a display of the Ten Commandments! 

DID YOU KNOW? 

There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington, D.C.

DID YOU KNOW? 

James Madison, the fourth president, known as 'The Father of Our Constitution' made the following statement: 

“We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777. 

DID YOU KNOW? 

Fifty-two of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members of the established orthodox churches in the colonies. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Thomas Jefferson worried that the Courts would overstep their authority and instead of interpreting the law would begin making law an oligarchy the rule of few over many. 

How then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional? 

Lets put it around the world and let the world see and remember what this great country was built on. 

I was asked to send this on if I agreed or delete if I didn't. Now it is your turn. It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God.

Therefore, it is very hard to understand why there is such a mess about having the Ten Commandments on display or 'In God We Trust' on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the other 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!! 

If you agree, pass this on"

 

Well folks there you have it.  Most of this stuff is interesting but so what?  There is nothing wrong with promoting the The Commandments.  After all they are reasonable for the most part.  So lets look at them in detail.  The Raptor would like to thank Wikepedia for the content presented here since The Raptor could not produce it and present any better.

Roman Catholic and Lutheran Christianity

The Lutheran (Protestant) and Roman Catholic division of the commandments both follow the one established by St. Augustine, following the then current synagogue scribal division. The first three commandments govern the relationship between God and humans, the fourth through eighth govern public relationships between people, and the last two govern private thoughts. For additional information on the Catholic understanding of the Ten Commandments, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), sections 2052–2557. References to the Catechism are provided below for each commandment as well as the interpretation used by Lutherans and Catholics. The following text is from Deuteronomy 5:6–5:21 NRSV

The First Commandment

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Commentary:

Catholic teaching distinguishes between dulia—paying honor, respect and veneration to saints and also indirectly to God through contemplation of objects such as paintings and statues—and latria— adoration directed to God alone. (See Catechism 2084–2141.)

Raptor Commentary:  I guess American Idol is frowned upon by “The Lord – Your God”  Lets face it – everything America stands for is “Idolatry”.  From our elected officials, to our film stars, to our musical performers as well as our athletes.  The Americans adore them all.  This leaves little or no room for God.  How can he compete?  By the way, The Raptor objects to those who attempt to classify God as any thing other than a man.  Remember this…God created man in his own image and likeness and…God created woman from one of Adam’s ribs….and that’s the truth

The Second Commandment

"You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name."

Commentary

This commandment prohibits not just swearing but also the misappropriation of religious language in order to commit a crime, participating in occult practices, and blaspheming against places or people that are holy to God. (See Catechism 2142–2167.)

Raptor Commentary: This is a useless commandment.  The Raptor has violated it so many times that The Raptor is toast. However, The Raptor shies away from occult practices.

The Third Commandment

"Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day."

Raptor Commentary: If anyone really adhered to this Commandment then nothing would ever get accomplished.  By rights those among you that distribute your pious ramblings about The Ten Commandments being on our public buildings and how it’s wrong to describe them as being unconstitutional should lead by example…Get up on Sundays…fast…pray…go to Mass…make a confession…receive the Eucharist…pray some more…fast some more…perform works of public service and pray some more while you fast before you go to sleep.  Don’t do anything else…no brunches…no movies…no golf…no picnics…no television...nothing…Go Ahead…be a real Christian.

The Fourth Commandment

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."

Commentary

This commandment emphasizes the family as part of God's design, as well as an extended metaphor that God uses for his relationship with his creation. (See Catechism 2197–2257.)

Raptor Commentary:  This is good stuff.  I try to honor my mother and father all the time.  The Raptor is also a big believer in "family values".

The Fifth Commandment

"You shall not kill" (Roman Catholic) / "You shall not murder" (Lutheran)

Commentary

The right of states to execute criminals is not absolutely forbidden by this commandment. However, other methods of protecting society (incarceration, rehabilitation) are increasingly available and more in keeping with other Christian moral teaching. Catholics (along with many Lutherans) also consider abortion sinful and a violation of this commandment. War, if rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy are met (that is, the "use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated"), is not a violation because "governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed." (See Catechism 2258–2330.)

Raptor Commentary: Nebulous…difficult to ascertain…is there anything we can’t kill?  How about that gratuitous reference to war?  Killing is killing any way you look at it…sinful.  Also not that Martin Luther modified the interpretation to make it sinful to murder but not necessarily to kill.  

The Sixth Commandment

"Neither shall you commit adultery."

Commentary:

Adultery is the breaking of the holy bond between husband and wife, and is thus a sacrilege. This commandment includes not just the act of adultery, but lust as well. (See Catechism 2331–2400.)

The Seventh Commandment

“Neither shall you steal."

Commentary:

(See Catechism 2401–2463.)

The Eighth Commandment

"Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor."

Commentary

This commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in relations with others. This also forbids lying. (See Catechism 2464–2513.)

The Ninth Commandment

"Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife."

Commentary

(See Catechism 2514–2533.)

The Tenth Commandment

"Neither shall you desire your neighbor's house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Commentary

(See Catechism 2534–2557.)

Raptor Commentary: Commandments Six through Ten…all these Commandments are total buzzkill.  They probably are violated every second of every day.  And you can’t go to hell for violating them. But you can go to jail.

Final Commentary

The Commandments are seen as general "subject headings" for moral theology, in addition to being specific commandments in themselves. Thus, the commandment to honor father and mother is seen as a heading for a general rule to respect legitimate authority, including the authority of the state. The commandment not to commit adultery is traditionally taken to be a heading for a general rule to be sexually pure, the specific content of the purity depending, of course, on whether one is married or not. In this way, the Ten Commandments can be seen as dividing up all of morality. They are also to be seen as the most fundamental of guidance on how to achieve progress in meditation or prayer - the obvious example being that it would be difficult to consider a rising spirt when the heart was planning murder.

The Raptor’s Final Commentary:  The premise of the email was that American’s have to stand up and fight for their belief’s.  Since over 85% of Americans believe in God…it must be right.  But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to shut up.  The Raptor has demonstrated that those individuals who live in America violate the The Commandments with impunity.  Then, after violation American’s have the temerity to “believe” they can march into a confessional and receive absolution in order to go out and violate (and sin) some more…what a bunch of broccoli.

Part 11 - More From The Opinion Pages - Originally Posted 2/09/09

After a couple of days of dry air, there has been a new post in the Erie Times News.  Letter to the editor writer, Dave Heintzel writes:

"I don't believe that barbers are real.  I saw a man the other day with dirty, long hair and an untrimmed beard.  Therefore, barbers don't exist.

But, barbers really do exist.  It's just that people don't go to them.

It is the same with God. People don't go to him and that is why there is so much pain and suffering.  Sure, God can end all suffering.  But he would have to end all evil first because evil causes much suffering.  But if he did that, it would eliminate the choice of doing evil or good.

Then that wouldn't be love.  He wants us to choose to love him.  Try him, you'll like him."

Here is The Raptor's response: barbers...pain...evil...love.  It sounds like Mr. Heintzel has been watching Star Wars.  Isn't that what Yoda was talking about.  Fears turns us to the "dark side".  The Raptor feels that folks like Mr. Heintzel place way to much emphasis on God as an answer.  Couldn't he just go out a live a normal life, without having to rely on God to help him?

Part 10 - More From The Opinion Pages - Originally Posted 2/03/09

Submitted for your approval is a letter to the editor from John Peterson of Albion.  It should be noted that Mr. Peterson is writing in response to a letter written by Roger Sargent...also of Albion.  Wow! it is hot out there in the West County!  These guys probably live on the same block...looks like there's a fued in the works!

"Letter writer Roger Sargent is right about science and God not being mutually exclusive (Erie Times-News, January 22). 

So was musician Billy Preston when he sang “Nothing from nothing that leaves nothing.”  You certainly can’t get something from nothing.  But as believers in God who do not fully comprehend this fact.

Sergeant accuses atheists of believing in nothing, yet ironically, it is believers who lean on nothing and explaining life.  Nonbelievers ask why, and when the answer is not apparent, they continue to search for the answer.

Believers ask why, and when the answer is not apparent, they fill in the blank with their default answer to everything: “God did it.”  What is your proof that God did it?  Faith.  Faith is merely suspension of disbelief.  Something from nothing, indeed.

Luckily, despite religious belief, mankind has continued its search for answers.  Though greatly impeded by those who think they already have the answers."

Thank you for your input Mr. Peterson.  Your letter was short and to the point...whatever it is.  I have read your letter and I am taking stock of it.  Perhaps after some additional though I can offer an opinion.

Part 9 - More From The Opinion Pages - Originally Posted 1/27/09

This Page has turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving - for The Raptor.  Yesterday, The Raptor presented the writings of Roger Sargent of the West County.  Today The Raptor posts the thoughts of Jim Dowds of Erie who placed his letter to the editor in The Times News of January 27th... he writes...

"For most of us, much of what we believe and categorize in our minds as facts regarding the origin of the universe is based in faith.  Those who believe in a creator understand this; those who don't fail to see the simple truth.

Those who do not believe in a Creator will undoubtedly say that their beliefs are based in science.  But what exactly does such a statement mean?  For many, this statement simply means that they have placed their trust in the claims and authority of a prominent scientist, author or philosopher.

Creationists around the world and throughout the centuries have said essentially the same thing.  They have placed their trust in the authority of the prophets, preachers and apostles.

And what do we make of these scientists, who boast that science has shown them the mysteries of the past?  Science has proven to be an extremely useful tool in many ventures, but it has limitations.

Science is a discipline that demands observation, measurability and repeatability, none of which can be done on a subject that is reported to be billions of years old.  No one was there and no one knows for sure.

We may speculate, theorize, postulate; we may build constructs and models.  But at the end of the day, our beliefs about our universe and its origins come down to faith, not fact."

Well now...The Raptor is torn here.  Perhaps I have been too hasty.  After all these years of reading books like "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan, "Life On Earth" by David Attenbourough and "The Day The Universe Changed" by James Buke and coming away from these literary gems with a sense of wonderment, I now have to dump my theories and my "beliefs".  Mr Dowds strong and well crafted worsmithg...er... metaphysical mush is turning The Raptor around in a big way...I take back everything I stated previously...

Part 8 - More From The Opinion Pages - Originally Posted 1/26/09

Hello again, and thanks for tuning in.  The Raptor was pleased to glean a letter to the editor from Roger Sargent of Albion, Pennsylvania that is clear, concise and to the point.  Mr. Sargent is a "theist" in a big way.  The Raptor has read Mr. Sargent's piece and submits it here for your approval...he writes...

"Letter writers Mark Ritke and Regina Emery questioned the existence of God while claiming that science has the answers about the beginning of the universe. (Erie Times-News, Jan. 10th)

They claim that, because a “piece of condensed matter” is simpler than God, it's a better explanation for our existence.

Perhaps they haven't thought as deeply about the Big Bang as they should.  Did that matter have an eternal existence?  Did its behavior defy human understanding? If it created space and time, did it have more power than what it created?  Does its awesome force stretch our wildest imagination?

If you believe in science, you have to answer, “yes” to those four questions however, if you answer “yes” then you have just described God.  Unfortunately, you have not answered the really big question.  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Sadly, that answer eludes the grasp of all atheists as they spend their lives believing in nothing. 

Science has proved that true physical nothingness is not possible and never has been.  Even the deepest darkest regions of space contain galactic gravity, radiation and atoms. Nothing is impossible.  Why believe in it?"

People...People...People, this is typical, authentic frontier gibberish.  Fortunately, The Raptor was able to post the original letter writers thoughts and they do not match the spirit of Mr. Sargents interpretation.  

This is exactly what Ritke/Emery wrote: "the beginning of the universe actually occurred when a piece of condensed matter underwent a cosmic explosion about 14 billion years ago."  There is NOTHING in their piece about this occurrence being a "better explanation for our existence".

We seem to have arrived back at an earlier thread in which The Raptor stated that there is a biblical timeline which "theists" are required to support in order to present their argument.  However, Mr. Sargent has taken a quantum leap to associate the "Big Bang" with the workings of a God.  By The Way, The Raptor loves to say the word, God.  In addition, Sargent feels a sense of sadness since atheists "spend their lives believing in nothing"

I won't speak for the others, but, The Raptor has a sense of joy and wonderment when thinking about the Big Bang.  I have no need to "believe" that there was a "creator" who initiated  The Big Bang.  It happened...shit happens.  Mr. Sargent and the theists are stuck in "light at the end of the tunnel" analogy.  Unfortunately, they have yet to come to the realization that it's a hole.  And for theists, it is getting deeper.  

Eventually, in about 250 years, the stories of the Bible will be shelved since theists are doomed to extinction.  Especially troubling is this continued need to define their existence through the design by a supreme being.  It's always been that way as humans turn towards leadership in order to solidify their beliefs.  In the theists mind, with out belief in something, they are nothing.

The Raptor will press on none the less.  The is a brave new world out there and it's based on exploration and discovery.  The Raptor doesn't need theology to get there.  It's fortunate that I can get there though.  If we are to follow Mr. Sargent's opinion, it is perhaps better to bury one's head in the sand in a show of blind belief in something.

Part 7 - What Still Others Are Saying About God  - Originally Posted 1/18/09

Hey folks, in an effort to provide fair and balanced coverage of this heavy subject, here submitted for your approval is a letter published in the Erie Times-News in today's op-ed section.  The letter was submitted by Warren Wolf of Erie...he writes:

"Imagine that you're taking a tour of the search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute when a transmission arrives from a star system many light-years from Earth: “Greetings, Earthlings.”

Imagine the uproar, the sound of corks popping from champagne bottles, the cheers, the hugs and a high-fives.

Now imagine that you interrupt the celebration by saying: “Excuse me, but how do you know for sure is that you found signs of extraterrestrial life?  Maybe this only appears to be a message.  After all, don't you agree with Richard Dawkins that “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”?”

It's not difficult to imagine what would happen next. Two security guards would come out of the shadows, grab your arms and march you out of the building.  

The point is that most scientists aren't really searching for the truth.  They're looking for evidence to support the evolutionary presuppositions.  So get it out of your mind that scientists are objective truth-seekers in white lab coats.  They have an agenda - to get rid of God in any way they can.

We can only imagine what SETI scientists would do if the complete message said: “Greetings, Earthlings, this is God.”  We have no doubt they would start searching for the joker who was playing a trick on them."

Warren...this The Raptor's spin on your letter.  While well written and compelling, you are making a classic faux-paus.  You are utilizing your experience as a subservient to organized religion to promote a theory that one...there is a God and two...he would send a message to SETI.  God is a lot smarter than that.  If he decides to send Earth a message, wouldn't he use something symbolic like a burning bush?  Let's be real here.  If there was a God, he would have spoken up long before now.  God is a belief.  He isn't a real thing.  God was created by man in an effort to manipulate other men.  Sorry to disappoint here but your letter is as close to gibberish as is possible.  

Part 6 - What Still Others Are Saying About God  - Originally Posted 1/17/09

The Raptor was again gazing through the Newspaper (this time on Friday) and noted this letter to the editor by Wesley Bennett of Erie Pennsylvania.  He writes:

"A letter writer claimed “the greatest minds in science deny that the universe has always existed,” citing Stephen Hawking as part of that illustrious list (Erie Times_News, Dec 27)

Another “greatest mind” that theists often like to cite is Albert Einstein. Einstein was once asked if he believed in God, and his specific response was that he believed in Spinoza's God.

Spinoza's God was, in fact, synonymous with nature, and a thorough review of Hawking's works would indicate likewise.

It's also a fact among National Academy of Sciences members, who are the premier scientists in the U.S., a mere 7% believe in a creator.

Another claim that the “odds are that the universe created itself is infinitesimally small,” thus demanding a creator, ignores most of the theoretical advancement over the past 30 years in cosmic and quantum physics of virtual particles, zero-point energy, the String and M theories, multiple universes, etc..

All point toward and support natural mechanisms for the beginning of the universe.

Many religious people continue to cling to the antiquated philosophical concept of Aristotle's “unmoved mover” and Thomas Aquinas’ “first cause” argument and/or his “perceived” creator-in-nature arguments.

The circumvention of the scientific process leads the writer to immediately make his third claim supporting creationism.  Unfortunately, creationism is the default conclusion for the impatient and the intellectually lazy.

Part 5 - The Raptor Objects - Originally Posted 1/10/09

The Raptor was sitting in his office recently an began pondering the problems with modern religion.  First and foremost, which God is the true God?  And what up with God anyhow.  Is God a supreme being?  What does God look like?  Can God read my mind?  Where is God?  

Recently, The Raptor went and paid respect to a deceased friend and wondered about his death and what will happen to "him" as his death is considered.  Did he go to heaven? Or perhaps due to some unknown transgression is he now a resident of hell?...Golly...hell!...what an awful end.  Once my friend reaches his final destination, in what form is he in.  Is he "fleshy" or is he a disembodied essence which makes up his soul?  After being of human form for 84 years, it seems sad that the final appearance of a deceased individual could end up being a "light" or perhaps even a "ghost".  When The Raptor was receiving his religious education at St John's and Blessed Sacrament, he was given a description of the "soul".  It was this soul that supposedly filtered from the human form and floated to the Heavens.  The Raptor pictured a soul as sort of a stick with a small round tip similar to a Q-Tip.  

What's also sad is the heinous way that our society had made death into an economic venture.  It starts with the hospital and the emergency room.  Our society tries to keep us alive as long as possible in order to suck money out of us.  Then, when it becomes impossible to keep us alive, our society transports our corpse to a funeral home, where the director and his staff perform their ritual.  For a couple of thousand bucks, the families of the deceased can greet the family and friends and we can pay our respect.  Then we bury the dead in a public cemetery so that we can visit and continue to pay respect.  The Raptor likes to go to the cemetery every year on Memorial Day to visit the graves of deceased family and friends.  It is good.

My visits are brief but I make the effort in hopes that others will visit me in the future.  You see...when you are buried in those fine garments along with the mementos placed in the casket, that is your final resting place.  There is now heaven waiting or hell for that matter...better get used to it.

Heaven and Hell must be huge places to house all of the individuals who have died since dying led to heaven...or hell.  Now...if there were human like beings who existed at the dawn of man perhaps 250,000 years ago, do they reside in some "afterlife resort?  

See how silly this whole concept of God, Heaven, Hell is?  

Part 4 - What Others Are Saying About God  - Originally Posted 1/10/09

The Raptor was gazing through the Saturday Newspaper and noted this letter to the editor by Mark Rinke and Regina Emery of Titusville, Pennsylvania.  It looks like there are others who can opine about God... They write:

"Letter writer Matt Dennison’s attempt to prove the existence of God by distorting the facts and minimizing the discoveries of science is a tactic used by creationists because they have no evidence of their own.  (In the Erie Times News, December 27th)

He states that renowned scientists like Stephen Hawking believes the universe had a “beginning” (Genesis)?  What he fails to point out is that the beginning of the universe actually occurred when a piece of condensed matter underwent a cosmic explosion about 14 billion years ago.  Do you need God to make that piece of condensed matter?  Maybe.  But then who made God?

Second, the scientific experiments of Stanley Miller in the early 1950s demonstrated conclusively that organic molecules, the building blocks of life, could arise from inorganic molecules, the very kind thought to be present in our planets early atmosphere.  Once this organic “prebiotic” soup was formed in the Earth's oceans, it was only a matter of time before the first living cells evolved.  The chances of this happening are not “infinitesimal,” as Dennison claims.

Third, Dennison said that by “scientific standards,” the most likely explanation for our existence is God. This is not true because scientific discoveries and explanations are based on evidence gathered from the real world, and there is no scientific or physical evidence whatsoever supporting the existence of God.

Therefore, it is much easier to explain scientifically how the universe came about and how life evolved than it is to explain the origin of a “loving” God who permits a massive amount of humor and suffering in the world."

The Raptor appreciates this type of measured and knowledgeable discourse...I will attempt to track down Dennison's letter to provide his side of the argument. 

Part 3 - The Perfect Dichotomy Of Belief - Originally Posted 1/1/09

The Raptor was recently in attendance at a dinner party involving the family and at the outset of the meal, one of The Raptor's siblings offered up a prayer to "God" in order to thank "him" for the food, the family and good health etc.  The reason that this offering jolted The Raptor's senses was that concept of a Perfect Dichotomy.

My sibling has revealed in the recent past that God is extremely important and has entered the lives of the sibling and the sibling's family.  This evangelical fervor is consistent with the attitudes of other individuals similar in mind set to my sibling and The Raptor can use the mutterings of folks like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell to compare to.  Those two gents are the poster children of evangelical fervor.  Their beliefs have crossed the line as of late and this offends The Raptor's sensibilities.

Take George W. Bush for example.  He has expressed on a number of occasions his fervent belief in God, perhaps brought on by his problems with alcoholism and a need to place fate in the hands of a higher power.  President Bush uses God as his basis for governing and that's bad.  He joins others such as Rick Santorum, Sara Palin and the Dover Pennsylvania School Board on a crusade to educate our children in the "Intelligent Design" School.  These folks can sit down at a table and thank God for their food, but at the same time the can wish for events that will reinforce their agenda.

So, my sibling, who absolutely despises Barak Obama, has made nefarious statements about painting the White House black since there is a Muslim living there now.  This perfect dichotomy is shameful.  No one should be able to praise God in one breath and shout epithets with another.  

Americans pride themselves on being resilient and strong.  Of having God on their side.   "In God We Trust", "One Nation...Under God", "God Bless America", It's a good thing that God is so deaf.  If he really knew what was going on around here...it would be Sodom and Gomorra all over again.

Part 2 - Other Thoughts And Theories - Originally Posted 12/21/08

The Raptor continues to map out a strategy for examining God's existence and has some new food for thought.  Thread number one has to do with the actual formation of the celestial bodies such as the planets and moons in our solar system and the visible conditions of their surfaces.

If we are to use the Bible as our guide, we are compelled to fit the historical content of the Bible into some sort of timeline which takes us from The Book of Genesis to the New Testament writings of Matthew, Mark Luke and John.  The timeline begins on page one of The Holy Bible, which states: "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said, 'Let There Be Light', and there was light.  God saw how good the light was"...Well...enough of that.  

The purpose of this thread is not to disseminate the meanings of The Bible. However if one were to begin reading The Bible front front cover to back, the patently simplistic metaphysical mush that the verses communicate could cause a potential retraction of an otherwise erect male member.

Adam and Eve...Cain and Able...The great Flood and Methuselah at 969 years old   That's a record by the way.  No one lived longer.  When The Raptor asked Sister Ann Michele in fifth grade, how individuals like Adam could live over 900 years, her simplistic response was to state that since God had created Adam he was more perfect then us so he lived longer.  See what I am saying gang...it's a bill of goods.

Needless to say, taking these generational age determinations into account, the scribe who penciled The Book of Genesis in about 700 BC created a timeline which placed Adam in Mesopotamia at about 5000 BC.  It is so obvious that this is impossible...anyone who is staking The Dawn of Man on this circumstance is of diminished capacity.

Now travel with The Raptor back in time.  Past the beginnings of civilization, 7000 years ago to about 50,000 BC.  It was in this era that a meteor smashed into the surface of the Earth in what is now Arizona.  The impact has left a scar in the ground  and according to a website about the southwest US: 

"Flat, sandy, arid grasslands characterize the countryside east of Flagstaff, between the wooded hills of the Mogollon Rim and the delicate hues of the Painted Desert, and the only major natural attraction is the Meteor Crater, which lies 6 miles south of I-40, half way between Winslow and Winona. This huge depression, 0.74 miles in diameter and 550 feet deep was created 49,000 years ago by meteoric impact."

If God created the heavens and earth and he created Adam about 7,000 years ago, why did he create Meteor Crater 50,000 years ago?  For that matter, why are there numerous craters on the Moon, Mars, Venus and the satellites of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune?  Craters serve no useful purpose so it was not necessary for God to create them  In addition, it has been the determination of "scientists" that some of the craters on The Moon are over 4 Billion Years Old!

And that is the rub.  Humans can't have it both ways.  It's time to leave the Holy Bible for what it is.  A series of messages condensed from the passage of time.  These messages are generally benign and can lead the mortal man to a feeling of belonging.  The Raptor can see the value of a good book.  It can inform, educate or entertain.  It's not unlike those of you who visit this site.  Maybe there is something here that you can use...maybe not.  Only time will tell

Part 1 - Does God Exist? - Originally Posted 11/28/08

The Raptor has been formulating thoughts for this page for a number of months now and no matter how I cut it - I won't be able to do justice.    The question on the table is God's Existence.  Or rather, his lack thereof.  The way The Raptor will be treating this subject is to state as plainly as possible that God does not exist.

For starters, lets consider God's composition.  If one were to rely solely on The Bible for this issue, it would be thought that God "created" Heaven and Earth and in addition "he " created Adam in his own image and likeness.  This interpretation is difficult to swallow for a number of reasons.

The Adam story is the bedrock of three different religious faiths, and it has been thought that "Adam" was created about 6,000 BC.  This official basis for belief discounts any "men" who lived before Adam. If the Adam story is to be believed, it would require a "God" who had the capability to communicate with Adam.  The Raptor is a big fan of the epic films of Cecil B DeMille etc. so from these films God is perceived to be a disembodied voice who speaks to The Bible's main heroes.  For some comic relief, The Raptor recommends some early Bill Cosby and his rendition of God and Noah.

So if God was capable of vocal communication with individuals such as Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses...where has he been lately?  The fact that he hasn't spoken to me is evidence that he doesn't exist.  

One of my associates has stated that there is a perfectly rational explanation for a fossil record that would predate Adam.  His feeling is that God is so capable that he was able to created the fossil record when he created Adam...this is how some individuals try and rationalize this charade.  Again, if God was capable of creating fossils, he would have enough capability to be present in the present.  But, there is so much bad stuff going on now that God could have stopped that would lead me to state that if God had existed he has forsaken all those individuals who pray to him.  Since God answers no prayers he does not exist.  God can not in good conscience answer some prayers but not others - no way - no how.

I could go on and on about God and so I shall.  Anyone who has placed their faith in God turns to individuals like myself and asks as to where I have come from   The basis of this conundrum is the disapproval of evolution.   God fearing folks  can't believe in evolution and therefore place their bets on "Intelligent Design" The ID clan are primarily here in the USA and they have initiated a seek and destroy attitude as it pertains to evolution.

According to noted atheistic crackpot Richard Dawkins: "America, founded in secularism as a beacon of eighteenth century enlightenment, is becoming the victim of religious politics, a circumstance that would have horrified the Founding Fathers."  Dawkins further states: "My scientific colleagues have additional reasons to declare emergency. Ignorant and absolutist attacks on stem cell research are just the tip of an iceberg. What we have here is nothing less than a global assault on rationality, and the Enlightenment values that inspired the founding of this first and greatest of secular republics. Science education - and hence the whole future of science in this country - is under threat. Temporarily beaten back in a Pennsylvania court, the 'breathtaking inanity' (Judge John Jones's immortal phrase) of 'intelligent design' continually flares up in local bush-fires. Dowsing them is a time-consuming but important responsibility, and scientists are finally being jolted out of their complacency. For years they quietly got on with their science, lamentably underestimating the creationists who, being neither competent nor interested in science, attended to the serious political business of subverting local school boards. Scientists, and intellectuals generally, are now waking up to the threat from the American Taliban."

This is powerful stuff.  Dawkins talks about ID that way "In the familiar world of human artifacts, complicated things that look designed are designed. To naïve observers, it seems to follow that similarly complicated things in the natural world that look designed - things like eyes and hearts - are designed too. It isn't just an argument by analogy. There is a semblance of statistical reasoning here too - fallacious, but carrying an illusion of plausibility. If you randomly scramble the fragments of an eye or a leg or a heart a million times, you'd be lucky to hit even one combination that could see, walk or pump. This demonstrates that such devices could not have been put together by chance. And of course, no sensible scientist ever said they could. Lamentably, the scientific education of most British and American students omits all mention of Darwinism, and therefore the only alternative to chance that most people can imagine is design."

The Raptor couldn't say it any better.

My own attitudes on God existence are generally with in the meanderings of Carl Sagan - the noted astronomer and free thinker.  Sagan developed a story on the subject which morphed into the feature film "Contact" starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McCanaughey.  In the film, which was based on the novel/screenplay written by Carl and his sidekick Ann Druyan, Foster plays Dr Arroway.  Ellie Arroway is conflicted as a result of the deaths of her mother and father while she was quite young.  As she grows older, she becomes an astro physisist who attempts to locate extra terrestrial intelligence that can answer her questions on the development of the universe.

To understand Sagan consider this quote from "Contact". "You see, the religious people -- most of them -- really think this planet is an experiment. That's what their beliefs come down to. Some god or other is always fixing and poking, messing around with tradesmen's wives, giving tablets on mountains, commanding you to mutilate your children, telling people what words they can say and what words they can't say, making people feel guilty about enjoying themselves, and like that. Why can't the gods leave well enough alone? All this intervention speaks of incompetence. If God didn't want Lot's wife to look back, why didn't he make her obedient, so she'd do what her husband told her? Or if he hadn't made Lot such a shithead, maybe she would've listened to him more. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why's he constantly repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes clear: The biblical God is a sloppy manufacturer. He's not good at design, he's not good at execution. He'd be out of business if there was any competition."  [Sol Hadden in Carl Sagan's Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1985), p. 285.]

At some later date, The Raptor will delve into Christ and why he exists

 

 

 

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