The Funny Side of Religion

I received the following pictures by e-mail the other day, which claims to portray the funny side of religion… if there was actually any other side to religion.

A French car that’s too fast for poor old Jesus!!!

But it sure beats listening to the preacher’s sermon about sex!!!

Your brains need to be really frozen to fall for that one!!!

Finally, some truth from the church!!!

You guessed it, only in the bible belt!!!

That’s right, only your church can answer the really dumb ones!!!


The New President’s Men

Kgalema Motlanthe has been elected as the new President of South Africa, replacing Thabo Mbeki (until the next general elections at least), and he has chosen his new cabinet:

some old,
some new,
some boring,
some destined to flounder in the stew
Thankfully, Trevor Manuel has been retained as Minister of Finance. He certainly deserves the confidence shown in him. A breath of fresh air has been injected into the cabinet in the form of Barbara Hogan, new Minister of Health and Mohamed Surty, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. However, some tired and boring old stooges remain, viz. Jeff Radebe, Minister of the non-existent Transport system, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, Minister of (mis)Communications, Naledi Pandor, Minister of (un)Educated kids, and Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister of sqeeking voices and interminably dull speeches about matters foreign to international affairs.
But the most frightening appointment in President Motlanthe’s cabinet, is the retention (pun intended) of none other than Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, in the new position of Minister in the Presidency, vacated by Thabo’s rottweiler, Essop Pahad. I know, many people are stunned, flabbergasted even. However, the deed is done, and I reckon we have to look at the bright side: the arrogant Essop is now a fable and Manto will no longer embarrass South Africa by making asinine statements about HIV and AIDS and spreading misinformation about beetroots. Indeed, Manto can look forward to an albeit short career, as Motlanthe’s rottweiler in the Presidency, and spreading rabies instead.

Not All the President’s Men

While I was watching Manchester United battle it out with Chelsea on Sunday, Thabo Mbeki was preparing to throw in the towel. When he announced his resignation as President on Sunday evening, I think it caught many South Africans by surprise; perhaps even those like Julius Malema, (puppet-on-a-string) President of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), one of the chief agitators for Mbeki’s ousting.

And today, nearly the rest of Mbeki’s cabinet followed suite, but not quite. The cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers, including the Deputy President that resigned in quick succession, were clearly his closest supporters and hand-picked henchmen (and women). What has raised my eyebrows however is the resignation of one Minister who said he wouldn’t, and those that chickened out or chose not to resign, not for the moment anyway.

Lets take a closer look at the President’s men who are no more. Of this lot, I’ll be truly happy to see the last of Essop Pahad, Minister in the Presidency; a really rude, unpleasant and arrogant man, described by Andrew Feinstein in his book “After the Party” as the “President’s rottweiler.” Good riddance also to Essop’s brother, Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, whose irritating voice (always sounded like someone was squeezing his jewels) could drive one quite mad. Also good to see going at last, is Alec Erwin, Public Enterprises Minister whose mismanagement and repeated lies in the Eskom Power debacle did not endure him to the public at large. If Ngconde Balfour and Loretta Jacobus, Minister and Deputy for Correctional Services did not resign, they should have been fired instead, for presiding over leaking jails and general maladministration of prison services. Not too much good could be said for the rest of the ship-jumpers; only Finance Minister Trevor Manuel stands out for the good work put into his Ministry which resulted in good economic growth and stability over a sustained period of time.

Back to what bothers me the most. The one person who has not resigned, but should have been canned a long time ago for gross incompetence is none other than the Minister of Alternative Medicine, the beetroot-loving, alcohol-soaked, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Why this pathetic disgrace to the country still clings onto her position as a Minister after being repeatedly discredited, is a mystery. Could only be the perks of the job, one of which probably entitles her to being placed first on the liver transplant recipient list.

The Clasping and Laying On of Hands – A Scientific and Religious Experience

A scientist clasps his hands, awaiting the outcome of an experiment. A worshipper clasps his hands in prayer, awaiting a divine answer. Two scenarios, each one producing a very different mental image.

One produces an image of joy, excitement, eagerness, self-belief, wonderment, fulfillment, and expectations of a result that may prove a hypothesis. The other image is one of despair, fear, self-doubt, and expectations of a magical intervention that addresses the request.

A palaeontologist, sitting cross-legged, in an excavation site, lays her hands on an ancient fossil she’s just unearthed. A preacher in a crowded church lays his hands on the head of a new member who has decided to join the congregation.

One produces an image of excitement, joy, wonderment, eagerness to learn more, passion, and expectations of further scientific results that the discovery may lead to. The other produces an image of superstitious fear, deception, irrational behaviour, and expectations of a magical intervention that improves your life.

It’s not too hard to see which hand gesture fits which scenario. It’s also not that hard to choose which hand gesture you want to be associated with; I won’t offer you a hand, I trust your mind will show you the way.

Street Name Changes

I recently received a long list (about 98) of street names in Durban, a large coastal city in South Africa, which are about to be changed, apparently to reflect the transformation about 14 years ago, to a multi-racial, democratic society. It’s happening all over the country, not just Durban.

Personally, I couldn’t give a flying @#!$ what streets are called. They’re just street names after all. It’s quite certain that those deceased who are being honored are in no position to care either. Those still living (or the family and relatives of the deceased) might puff their chests out and cause a nuisance every time in passing, they have to stop and stare at their names up on the street signs, but it’s still just a name on a piece of wood or whatever they use these days to print street names on. Big deal.

What concerns me is the amount of money being wasted on ridiculous exercises like this when it (the money) could be put to better use, given that the country faces all kinds of problems. It also means that I now have to buy new maps for my Garmin again and that really pisses me off. So, to those dimwits who dream up crap like this, put this up on street signs at the city limits, “Welcome to Durban, Now Get Lost, Signed, The morons who changed the street names, while we know we should have rather fixed the potholes instead.”

When Science and Religion Collide

I live in a small community of a few thousand mostly deeply religious people; a small group of Hindus and Christians dominated by a majority of Muslims. It’s not hard to notice that the single Church, two temples and three mosques are frequented daily, and that each religious grouping are devout followers of their respective religions. This community is a microcosm of the religious fervour endemic the world over.

In Europe, on the other hand are a few thousand scientists who after fourteen years of collaboration, this week witnessed the fruits of their labour when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN was switched on successfully. Amid threats to shut the project down over fears of safety by certain detractors, and doomsday predictions by the loony religious fringe, the first proton beams were injected into the LHC on the 10th September this week to complete a successful start up on the most expensive and probably most important scientific experiment in the history of mankind to date.
In stark contrast we have two groups of people; one looking for meaning and purpose in archaic religious texts and ultimately for salvation through blind faith, and the other nobly trying to unravel meaning and purpose and indeed, the secrets of the universe through scientific experiment. While scientists will be asking how the universe came to be the way it is, the religious faithful believe they already know and see no reason to question further. In life there can be no two endeavours that are more diametrically opposed to each other than science and religion; indeed religion is the antithesis of science. And while religionists vehemently oppose science, some have no qualms about engaging the detestable field of pseudo-science to prop up their dying religions as in the laughable hypothesis about Intelligent Design.
In the modern era, religion still dominates the lives of ordinary people in spite of the great advances in the science and the increasing evidence against religious dogma and superstitious practices. As scientific scrutiny closes in on irrational religious thinking, I’m constantly amazed at the mental gymnastics employed by the religious institutions, the evangelists, clerics, clergy, priests and common shysters, to find new ways to “keep the faith alive.” Religion is big business, and I guess there is a vested interest to ensure its survival.
The future benefits of the LHC and the experiments to be conducted at CERN are obvious to all but the firmly religious. The one benefit not listed, and the one that amuses me no end, is how this scientific event has sparked some fear and loathing into the religious establishment. Take Ray Comfort for example, an evangelist whose recent blog “Its a Sick World” questions the spending of 10 billion dollars over 14 years on the LHC project when the money could be used for feeding starving children in Africa. It is typical of the dishonesty and bigotry of the religious movement who have squandered many more billions in furthering the aims of useless religions. One could also ask why he has never questioned the US Government’s expenditure in an untenable war in Iraq, which makes the LHC budget look like small change. No, Ray like the rest of the religious rabble don’t concern themselves too much with starving children; right now he is more concerned about how the scientific experiments at CERN is going to affect his business of selling salvation.
While I know it’s irrational to suggest that we use the LHC to accelerate different religions at nearly the speed of light from opposite directions so that they collide and smash each other into oblivion, I wish we could. Is it too much to ask?

God Hates Jazz

Three years ago Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans with a fury that was described by some evangelists such as Pat Robertson as God’s revenge for abortion and homosexuality among other things considered as “evil” by these hate mongering preachers.

After the death and destruction wreaked by Katrina, the poor people of New Orleans were subjected to further pain and suffering when they were shamefully abandoned by the Republican government of George Bush. According to Michael Moore, on the day that Katrina broke the first levees (dikes), George Bush was apparently partying with John McCain, and they continued having fun at a fundraiser, a full day afterwards, while New Orleans was flooding.

Last week, another evangelist, the Rev. James Dobson, a well-known right wing nut-job and also considered as a New Hitler for the Twenty-First Century, called for his dim-wit followers to pray for a storm so that Barrack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver, would be cancelled. However in an ironic turn of events, the storm in the form of Hurricane Gustav was set to hit New Orleans again and Louisiana where The Republican National Convention was scheduled to take place.

Now some are saying that God has a great sense of humor by punishing the Republicans and their supporters, such as the Rev. Dobson. But it surely has to make one wonder if  “He” just does not like Jazz music and can’t stand to see folks having a good time (as they usually do in New Orleans).