March 23, 2012

#NewAtheism - temptation offset by stupidity; see #PZMyers

First, here's why it's tempting at times.

I just got this mass blast email at work:
Recognizing child abuse and neglect as an epidemic that killed 1,560 children in 2010 and affected nearly 700,000 children nationwide, Christian leaders will hold an audio news briefing on Tuesday, March 27, at 1:30 p.m. EDST (10:30 am Pacific Time) to discuss efforts encouraging congregations to observe Blue Sunday on April 29, with prayer and reflection for abused children as well as recognition of the heroes who rescue and protect children.  To learn more about these efforts, go to

"Christians can and should help lead efforts to end America's epidemic of child abuse and neglect," says Dr. John Crupper, national director of Shepherding the Next Generation and a frequent contributor to the Christian website, Crosswalk. "We are calling on pastors and ministry leaders to rededicate themselves on April 29th to the belief that children are a gift from God and harming them violates not just the law.  It violates biblical principles."

Shepherding the Next Generation is sponsoring the press conference, which will include representatives from Moody Radio, World Vision and the Fairhaven Church in Dayton, Ohio.  Besides focusing on the problem of child abuse and neglect, participants also will discuss effective ways to address the epidemic including high-quality voluntary home visiting programs that can reduce abuse and neglect by as much as 50 percent.
The obvious response is, why isn't your god  preventing any of these deaths in the first place? Maybe, like Elijah mocking the prophets of Baal, he's asleep. Or deaf. Or just not listening.

Now, I don't engage in that unless such religious events are shoved in my face. But, when they are?

I'll admit that I'll occasionally, I give in to temptation to take Gnu-type potshots and wisecracks.

And, here's the stupidity.

Pardon or don't pardon the pun, but the claim that a penis-nosed statue of Peter exists in the Vatican sounds like a cock-and-bull story.

First, there's this nonsense, which sounds like it came from the lips of a New Age feminist:
"Peter" is not only "the rock" but also "the cock" or penis, as the word is used as slang to this day. As Walker says, "The cock was also a symbol of Saint Peter, whose name also meant a phallus or male principle (pater) and a phallic pillar (petra). Therefore, the cock's image was often placed atop church towers."
The "Savior of the World" image appears in Walker's book on p. 397, where she remarks:
It is no coincidence that "cock" is slang for "penis." The cock was a phallic totem in Roman and medieval sculptures showing cocks somehow transformed into, or supporting, human penises. Roman carvings of disembodied phalli often gave them the legs or wings of cocks. Hidden in the treasury of the Vatican is a bronze image of a cock with the head of a penis on the torso of a man, the pedestal inscribed "The Savior of the World."

No proof is offered that this is anything but a multilingual bad pun.

Nor, per one person's comments, is the possibility that this is a post-Reformation Protestant diatribe considered.

Other commenters, though, seem to think that Bart Ehrman's attack on Murdock's claims mean that he's conducting a smear campaign against people who don't believe Jesus exists. In personal email exchanges I've had with him, I've never sensed such an attitude.

That said, I've seen other New Agey New Atheism at Murdoch's site before. No surprise here. Nor any surprise that P.Z. Myers latched on to this. Robert M. Price, though? Why is he touching this with a 10-foot pole?

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