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Bible beatdown
Entered on: September 23, 2003 12:33 PM by Swerb
Well, it took me nearly seven years, but I have achieved a career goal - being the recipient of a Grand Rapids Press public pulse letter that quotes Bible verse at me. It's a pretty good letter, actually... for me to poop on:  
The Bible states in Isaiah 5:20: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. John Serba did just that in his article about upcoming concerts that should not be missed (Sept. 14). He says that the group Deicide (which means "the act of killing a divine being") "is not just evil, it's eeeeevillll." I don't have anything against this particular genre of music, but I think it is sad that this particular group flaunts evil like it is good. I also would hope that John Serba would be more careful in what he promotes. It seems he is promoting a group that mocks God and that sings to the darkness. The Bible says God cannot be mocked - I just hope Mr. Serba and the editors at the Press will see the Light.  
Bill Haagsma  

NEWS 116 - 20 Comments
From: Ross Entered on: September 23, 2003 2:05 PM
The Bible says God cannot be mocked? Well I say things too, why don't we all start doing what *I* say?  
Here are some other things that a guy named H L Mencken said, that sound a lot more reasonable to me:  
"One seldom discovers a true believer that is worth knowing."  
"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."  
"A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable."  
"Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing."  
"The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians."  
"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."  
"It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods. If such a board actually exists it operates precisely like the board of a corporation that is losing money."  
"The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most that can be accomplished with it is to induce it to substitute one delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as wicked..."  
"The Christian church, in its attitude toward science, shows the mind of a more or less enlightened man of the Thirteenth Century. It no longer believes that the earth is flat, but it is still convinced that prayer can cure after medicine fails."  
"The theory seems to be that so long as a man is a failure he is one of God's chillun, but that as soon as he succeeds he is taken over by the Devil."  
"It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even if this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true. That would be an extension of pragmatism beyond endurance. Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that the fact proves his existence. The defense of religion is full of such logical imbecilities."  

From: Ross Entered on: September 23, 2003 3:55 PM
Just read another gem by old H.L.:

"The time must come inevitably when mankind shall surmount the imbecility of religion, as it has surmounted the imbecility of religion's ally, magic. It is impossible to imagine this world being really civilized so long as so much nonsense survives. In even its highest forms religion embraces concepts that run counter to all common sense. It can be defended only by making assumptions and adopting rules of logic that are never heard of in any other field of human thinking."

From: The Bone Entered on: September 23, 2003 6:23 PM
If I had Bill Gates' money, the first thing I would do is buy the GR Press and write a response to Bill Haagsma telling him never to write the Press quoting something as outlandish as the Bible. That our policy at the GR Press is to not promote witchcraft, alchemy, or religion as these endevours are wasteful of resources, both material and mental. I would also devote a solid page each Sunday to pointing out how ignorant the Press' Christian readers are.  
I can't think of anything which has set humankind back more than religion, especially Christianity.
From: Swerb Entered on: September 23, 2003 10:16 PM
"A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable."  
This one applies perfectly to the letter-writer, because he can't wrap his thick-ass skull around the basic idea that THE BIBLE DOES NOT APPLY TO EVERYBODY. The concept of the Bible's overall irrelevancy (except maybe as a piece of literature or fiction) is secondary to this guy's incurable delusions. Plus, he didn't even get the idea that maybe I was mocking the God-mockers by calling them "eeeevilll." I guess those who devote their lives to Jesus are required by the Bible to not possess a sense of humor; I wouldn't know, because I have much better things to do with my time.
From: BigFatty Entered on: September 23, 2003 10:54 PM
How can Serb and this group be mocking God? Haagsma writes 'The Bible says God cannot be mocked'. So Serb mocking God is an impossibility. Cuz the Bible tells me so!  
I don't understand? The dutchie Haagsma must be making a funny.  

From: John Entered on: September 24, 2003 10:56 AM
I love what you would do with the press if you were running it, Bone. Were you in charge I might even read it. I do of couse read Swerb's articles when I pick one up to look at. Beyond that I find it rather unnecessary.
From: John Entered on: September 24, 2003 4:48 PM
H L Mencken is SWEET! I'd love to quote him to some of Melissa's family memebers, but that would be considered asinine.
From: Ross Entered on: September 25, 2003 9:15 AM
"One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. ...[This] convention protects them, and so they proceed with their blather unwhipped and almost unmolested, to the great damage of common sense and common decency. that they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly. Nor is there any visible intellectual dignity in theologians. Few of them know anything that is worth knowing, and not many of them are even honest."
From: Ross Entered on: September 25, 2003 9:25 AM
Shit, I shouldn't have kept reading. As much as I've respected H.L. Mencken's quotes for so many years, I just read a quote where he really fucks up. His musings on the universe are entirely outdated and easily explained away even by a layman like myself:

"Despite all the current gabble about curved space and other such phantasms, it is much easier to think of the universe as infinite than to think of it as having metes and bounds. If we try to think of it as finite we must somehow conjure up a region of sheer nothingness beyond its limits, and that is a feat I defy anyone to undertake. The human mind, in fact, simply cannot grasp the concept of nothingness. All we know of the universe tends to prove that it is unlimited, and the more we learn about it the more that impression is confirmed. Am I here, perhaps citing a subjective reason to support an objective fact? Well, why not? What other reasons are there? We can examine the universe only through our senses, and our senses tell us that it spreads infinitely in all directions. By senses, of course, I do not mean the unaided senses of a child; I mean the enormously reinforced senses of a man of science. His telescope magnifies the evidence of his eyes, but what it tells him must still be recorded by his two optic nerves.

As for me, I refuse to waste thought upon a structure that apparently has no limits in either time or space. The human mind can imagine it, but that is as far as anyone can go. Our ordinary thinking constantly assumes temporal and spatial boundaries; indeed, we always think of objects and phenomena in terms of duration and extension. But there is no sign of either in the universe. We must either accept it as infinite, or stop thinking about it altogether. Any effort to put bounds to it, as for instance that of Einstein and his followers, leads quickly to plain absurdity. Curved space explains nothing whatsoever: it simply begs the question. Nor is there any genuine illumination in the general doctrine of relativity. It only says what every man of any sense knew before--that time and space are not absolute values, but only relative."

From: John Entered on: September 25, 2003 9:39 AM
Well, nobody's perfect. Is the quote old? If it is it could explain why it's outdated. I still like what he has to say about christians or christains as I like to call them.
From: The Bone Entered on: September 25, 2003 11:50 AM
I'm currently reading a book called "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival". I highly recommend it since it deals with several of our favorite subject; evolution, the Zone,and religion. It's basic premise is that artificially induced summer, caused by electric lights, is fucking up our hormonal balance and as a result we are all fucked up. However, the book talkes all about insulin as well as a host of other hormones and is very interesting. It expands on The Zone style. I'm sure Sears talks about a lot of this shit in Enter the Zone, but I've only read the short version, A Week in the Zone. At any rate, this book does have some dubious theories but it is a very interesting read. One of the most interesting I've read in a while.

From: Ross Entered on: September 25, 2003 11:50 AM
Yeah, the quote is old, the dude was born in the 19th centruy. So it was said I would guess around 1910-1920 or thereabouts.
From: Ross Entered on: September 25, 2003 1:45 PM
Bone, I think I very well might pick this one up!  
Though I am reading the first 20 pages on Amazon and it is sounding a little fishy to me already - the idea of the runner's high being an evolved response to make lack of oxygen to your brain more pleasant because your body thinks it's going to die? I'm having some trouble thinking of how this type of adaptation could have evolved. Possibly if that high helps keep you alive, maybe I could see it. But what do I know? I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
From: The Bone Entered on: September 25, 2003 2:20 PM
Yeah, that's the first thing I noted under the dubious file. There are a couple other things as well, example: they say that even the lights from your clock or streetlamps fuck you up - but think about the amount of light generated by the moon or stars on a cloudless night 30,000 yrs ago. Don't let this dissuade you though, there are a shit ton of other ideas that are supported pretty well. Damn neer 40% of the book is a refrence section.
From: Ross Entered on: October 5, 2008 11:12 PM

Another one from the "5 Years Later" file - I just read this blog entry from a guy whose main blog and podcast I subscribe to.  He's a neurologist at Yale - a really sharp guy... I try not to over-rely on authority for defending a position and I'm not saying he's always right about everything, but I do tend to believe this guy is very sharp when it comes to skeptical/scientific matters (more than anyone else I can think of, quite honestly).  Anyway, he talks about that book Bone mentions above, and confirms that it is mostly pseudoscience. 

However, and not to open a whole huge debate (though I fear it probably will), he touches on the paleo/primal ideas of health, and kind of brings up some of the doubts that I've had about the basic science behind the idea.  I've mentioned some of this to Fatty before, and hey, I'm not trying to dissuade anyone of anything, and not trying to piss on anyone's cornflakes.  If it works for you, that's all that matters.  It certainly advocates getting rid of some bad shit that too many of us eat. It gives some good basic health advice, in my opinion: get moderate exercise, don't eat a bunch of sugar, eat vegetables.  But one of the things never sat right with me is what skeptics call "the naturalistic fallacy" - that if it was "natural" or we think our ancestors might have lived a certain way, it must be the best, healthiest way. 

The other thing, and correct me if I have misunderstood, is that it seems to not really pay much mind to the basic energy equation of living organisms - supplement meals with fat as you see fit, don't pay attention to calories, and as long as they're the right kind, you won't gain fat.  I've talked to other relatively smart people who also seem to think there is some kind of loophole in the equation (mind you, they're generally not in sweet shape).  Perhaps that by eating the right proportion of things, you entice your body to crank up your metabolic rate and just naturally burn off the calories?  Or not metabolise the excess at all?  But I really am pretty sure that these ideas are not borne out by good evidence. 

Anyway, like I said, I'm not trying to pick a fight here and want to stay civil - I debated whether to post this at all but that blog post was such an interesting coincidence that I couldn't resist.  In my experience (admittedly an anecdote, something I try to convince others that as a rule, we should not find very compelling) weight control is not primarily about what you eat, but about how much you eat.  When I was on the Zone and paying strict attention to my 30/40/30 plan, I also was learning an unwitting lesson in portion control, and over time gained absolute mastery over hunger.  My body eventually, in part because of my reduced weight, learned to be happy with less food.  After a while, I stopped being so strict about the foods I could and couldn't eat, but maintained roughly the same basic caloric intake, and didn't gain any weight back for years, until I slowly lost much of that control.  But I don't have any illusions: the real benefit for someone who is mostly in the game for fat loss (not athletic gain, I think that's a different story) is simply learning to eat less. 

Have I sown the wind? :)

From: BigFatty Entered on: October 6, 2008 12:37 AM

Oh, Fatty's in!  Except I have to run off to work.  The primal diet...  I don't lock-step with that theory completely.  I only go so far as to look at the theory of complex carbs being newer additions to our diets and our bodies do not process them as well.  I regard this theroy as 'Plausable'.

Of course I have not read any of the studies, just books from guys selling...  ahem... books and supplements.  Calories are certainly a major part of the equation, but a calorie is not just a calorie.  Foods have a hormonal effect on your body and the reportedly big one is the insulin response.  Foods high on the gycemic index tend to spike your insulin levels, which supposedly makes your body store fat instead of burning as fuel or pooping out (to a point).

The primal (and others) work because you are restricting your calories too.  You would have to make an abnormal, illogical effort to overeat on these diets.  Natural meats, fruits, and veggies are not too high in calories.  Fats are.  If you concentrate on eating the veggies and meats, the fat you add in may take up a higher percentage to total calories, but the bulk of your eating came from the protiens and carbs.  Your total calories will stay in the reasonable range.  See how many calories you can consume on eating only veggies for a day.  You can eat yourself sick and only take in 600-800 calories a day.  Add in 3 chicken breasts at 360 calories, then alot of dressing (500 cals?) and you are still in the low calorie zone.

If you just stuck to eating large amount of lard all day, I would think you would take in many more calories, therefore gain weight.

SO in quick summary - Fatty is on the low carb bandwagon.  Could it be that humans have not changed to process grains efficiently?  Maybe.  Should we run around touting the primal lifestyle...  Not necessarily, but there are good ideas in there.

From: Ross Entered on: October 6, 2008 9:46 AM

Well, I think we mostly agree in that it's still mainly about caloric intake.  There may be some wiggle room attributable to insulin and other hormones, but I think a lot of these diet schemes are playing up this angle by a greater amount than is supportable.


BigFatty said:

I only go so far as to look at the theory of complex carbs being newer additions to our diets and our bodies do not process them as well.  I regard this theroy as 'Plausable'.

I think this is where I'm a bit more skeptical.  As Dr Novella says:

The paleo diet is really just a new name for the old “bad carbs” diets. Like the exercise argument, it is a simplistic application of the naturalistic fallacy - anything that differs from the life-style humans have had in our evolutionary past must be unnatural and therefore unhealthy. This assumes, however, that adaption is precise and inflexible. (my emphasis)

Again, it also has a kernel of truth but goes way beyond it. We are adapted to eat some kinds of foods and not others. People cannot live off a grass, we don’t have the stomachs and bacteria to digest it. We cannot make our own Vitamin C, so we have to consume it.  But we also evolved to be omnivores, to survive off of a wide variety of foods opportunistically. It does not stand to reason that we need to eat the same types and forms of food as our ancestors. We require the same nutrients, but there is no reason why we cannot safely get them from new sources, as long as we can digest them.

I definitely think there is something to the glycemic load of various foods, but the idea that somehow we can't eat wheat without drastically getting our bodies out of whack has always seemed a bit over the top to me. 

Now granted, I'm still cognizant that certain recent arrivals on the dietary scene such as modern wheat and especially corn have a lower nutrient-to-calorie ratio than many other vegetables and should be eaten in moderation - but I think that's the reason - they just aren't very nutritious. 

From: RobotSpider Entered on: October 6, 2008 11:11 AM

I liked this quote a lot more before he became a right-wing idealogue, but to paraphrase Dennis Miller:

It's not that I don't believe in God, it's just that I happen to believe that my God finds me incredibly fucking funny.

From: The Bone Entered on: October 6, 2008 12:59 PM

I think the human body can thrive under a variety of diets. Native artic tribes seem to do very well eating snow and whale blubber and there are many lean, long lived Japanese that eat plenty of rice. As far as the Paleo goes, I think the key to it's demonstrable success is that it excludes sugar and other refined carbs. That the Paleo diet is successful in managing weight, there is no doubt, however I agree that the science behind the mechanism for it's success is not well documented. Be that as it may, it's relatively easy to follow and works well.

From: Jackzilla Entered on: October 6, 2008 1:30 PM

I had my first full-on cheat meal last Saturday:  Olive Garden.  Damn it was tasty!  But after 5+ weeks of consistent weight loss, I actually weighed 2 lbs more on Sunday weigh-in (the first time my weight was up).  Back to primal!


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