My Dry Year: August's selected charity

So, as I outlined in an earlier post, I'm extending my Dry July into a whole year, one charity per month, right up to August 2012. Each month I'll be remaining dry, though under Dry July rules I can obtain a golden ticket, at a minimum donation of $25, for one day back off the wagon.

August's charity of choice is

The Black Dog Institute

Mental health, especially depression, is something I've had my share of brushes with, and the work that BDI do has a genuine impact. If you agree, give them some money. In return, I'll stay off the booze. Or, if you're buying me a golden ticket, I'll have some booze. Up to you. Just give them some money.

In Dry July, for the POWH Cancer Centre, I used four golden tickets and raised about $240. In Vino Veritas raised $700, and Dry July as a whole made well over $2m for cancer charities in Australia. Nice work everyone!


Seriously? Prove the World Wars happened and then....

... what exactly?

No, seriously. This is basically what a fundie christian on twitter has just used as some kind of sterling rebuttal to the fact that there's no good evidence for the indistinguishable-from-fiction little-j jesus*

It's not entirely uncommon for this kind of response, which is essentially a variant of Tu Quoque, to come mewling from the keyboards of believers, especially the ones lightly marinated in a thin stew of post-modernist nonsense. All that @FXMikey has really done is make a weak attempt to turn back the burden of proof and the problem of a lack of evidence onto the questioner. And he's done it by choosing a massively bad example.

Had he asked me to prove the existence of, say, Plato, then perhaps we'd be on more equivalent grounds. We have very little strong evidence for an actual person named Plato. We have the writings. We have some outlandish claims, we have references from other people post-facto, but there's startlingly little actual evidence.

Of course, my response there would have been that it matters little whether Plato was a real person, or a pseudonym for someone else, or a group of people or a mere character used by later philosophers to outline ideas from a particular period. It's christians that need a real jesus, not philosophers a real Plato.

Of course we have plenty of evidence for the two world wars. We have first-hand accounts, many from people still alive, though that number is shrinking fast. We have lots of autograph manuscript. We have government records. We have film and audio archives. We have newspapers, actual physical newspapers from the period. We have physical artifacts ranging from shell casings to uniforms, to trenches and gun emplacements to tanks to human remains, all confirming that the 20th century was host to two massive global conflicts. To catalogue the evidence from one small geographical region alone would take more time than any one person could provide. My family has records from my grandfather's wartime service in the RAF.

And @FXMikey has a bible.

A story for which we have no autograph manuscripts, for which we have no independent verification, and which contains claims which are demonstrably untrue. There is more evidence for the existence of Sherlock Holmes, as I've said on many occasions.

Point and laugh, everyone. Point and laugh.

I'm conflicted. I mean, if this is the level of intellect that modern christianity is fostering, then we should see the religion wither and die in a generation or two - which I think would be good for the world. But while it's withering and dying, I'll be bored having to deal with this kind of half-assed tosh.

And I really hate being bored.

* never mind the indistinguishable-from-fantasy big-J Jesus, which needs far better evidence than a mere book.

Philip Brookes, stealth christian and #stopNSCP troll

Over at Mike Stuchbery's blog, a comment fight is going on over Peter Garrett's letter to Evonne Paddinson, head of ACCESS Ministries and self-admitted winner of souls for christ through the NSCP.

Garrett, of course, is a stealth christian, as I've pointed out previously, but oddly enough so are many of his defenders around the blogosphere. Take, for example, Philip Brookes.

Philip is a prolific commenter over at Mike Stuchbery's blog, and in fact anywhere the NSCP is mentioned. Philip avoids any reference to christianity in his posts, and cultivates an outward image of the unbiased onlooker, all the while accusing opponents of the NSCP of red-herrings, strawmen and all manner of other rhetorical tricks. Oddly, he always comes down on the side of ACCESS and the NSCP in his conclusions.

Philip sometimes goes so far as to mention that he himself is not a christian, notably on this ABC piece entitled "Teach Don't Preach: How to Do Religion In Schools".

This comment, of course, is emblematic of Brookes's style. Attack credibility of critic, avoid point at hand, play the part of unbiased outsider. It's like an odd variant on concern trolling.

 Of course, what Philip won't tell you is that he's an evangelical christian himself, playing the stealth game to further the agenda. Here's a post from Philip's own blog, in his own words.

Click to enlarge

 And I quote:

[...]Since arriving here on Thursday 21st September, I’ve had the privilege of
  • Dining in style at GreenBelt on the finest Filipino fare
  • Worshipping at Victory Christian Fellowship, Robinson’s Mall – a dynamic, mission-focussed, vibrant and growing evangelical Christian church
  • Walking and talking with a lady and her son who had no money to return to San Pablo, so I was able to purchase the bus ticket for them to return home
  • Debating with a security guard whether I really wasn’t allowed to photograph a particularly prominent building
  • Visiting Kids Hope Ministry and meeting with a group of street kids hanging out on a vacant block, where we prayed with them, told a story about (King) David working in the fields and obeying God to fight Goliath, and finally feeding the children.
  • Meeting with a lovely Christian programmer who’s just as inspired as me (even more??) to be a channel of God’s love to these people, and thus see the country turn to God and receive His richest blessings. Only God knows what this valuable relationship may lead to in the future…
Find all my photos at

P.S. While I’ve been sitting here, the Rating 3 Tropical Storm ‘Milenyo’ has snapped trees in the street outside, which have taken out street signs and power lines. The wind is virtually bowing the trees to the ground! Through Him we live and breathe and have our being!!!

It's almost as though there's a whole bunch of christians who were, in recent times, vocally and openly committed to spreading the gospel, but who have adopted a kind of radio silence to hide their beliefs. Stealth Christians.

I say "almost as though" sarcastically, of course. We know this to be the case. People like Fred Nile, who are openly idiotic about their christian beliefs, tend to do more harm than good. Better to achieve the goal without the obvious signs of affiliation. Better to hide one's true intention. Better to attack secular principles while making it look like they've fractured from within.

Sure, this paragraph can be attacked as paranoia. That's the whole point. Yet we see it time and time again around the world, in Dominionist ttempts to infiltrate political parties by stealth, in Opus Dei politicians who remain silent on their beliefs and affiliation until uncovered, to creationist lunatics who manage to keep their beliefs covered up until the end of a four year PhD programme in order to "Bring down darwinism from within". We even see it in radical antivaxers who attempt to don the cloak of "impartial whistleblowing scientists" or "vaccine safety advocates". Lying about one's agenda is commonplace, though I don't see a lot of secularists, skeptics and atheists doing it.

So what to do? Well, first, expose them wherever you find them. If someone is making an effort to conceal their aims, deny them the luxury. Then make sure everyone knows about the lies. If they find it unpleasant to be branded with their true labels, make damn sure life is unpleasant for them. Secondly, Don't become like them. Lying to achieve a goal taints any victory you might achieve.

Honesty, I was once led to believe, is a virtue. The truth has a value greater than gold, and if you're compelled to conceal the truth in your quest for a goal, you need to ask yourself: is your objective really that noble if you have to lie to attain it?

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