The Scotram Cult of Paraguay

John Scotram, a self-proclaimed prophet, believes that he is the angel Gabriel. And he claims that Jesus is coming again on May 6, 2019. UPDATE 5/14/19: He didn’t.


Left to Right: Gerhard Traweger, Robert Dickinson, the angel Gabriel (aka John Scotram, not his real name), Ray Dickinson

The SDA Church has spawned many small groups of terribly earnest believers, some of whom interpret their breakaway from the parent church as fulfillment of Bible prophecy. They become, to themselves if not to anyone outside their insular bubble, the One True Church. Ever since the SDA Church made this claim about itself, it has spun off innumerable tiny congregations, which then make the same claim about themselves.

Reddit is My Happy Place

I’m always confused when people shit-post about Reddit, since I’ve had the most positive interactions with other Internet users there than any other social media site. Based on my seven years on it, I’m pretty sure there are more serious, intelligent, and helpful people hanging out on Reddit than on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Where else can you find actual scientists or engineers or IT professionals or artists or authors or whatever your interest area is, ask them a question, and get a serious answer? Why don’t you check it out today?

Here’s how Reddit looks to me; this is my feed of subreddit subscriptions. A subreddit is sort of equivalent to a Twitter hashtag or Facebook group or Instagram following.

(I received nothing in exchange for this endorsement, and neither does Reddit.)

Social Justice War On Speech

​Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have found the enemy, and it is freedom of speech! On university campuses, on their podcasts, blogs, and social media, and in their advocacy and movements, this branch of the political spectrum is ostensibly fighting for the victims of abuse and bigotry and systemic injustice. But in so doing, they have armed themselves with weapons to fight against the free exchange of ideas.

Threatdown, Human Species Edition: Climate Change vs Religion

Blue Marble
The only home we have ever had, and in our lifetimes, will ever have.

I’ve wavered between two opinions for the past few years. It has to do with the delicate place in which the human species finds itself. We perch, as it seems, on the razor’s edge of extinction by climate change phenomena we are causing. I am very much a fan of humanity and would like to see us thrive, prosper, and one day leap across the divide to other planets and colonize the galaxy. (I dream big; blame Isaac Asimov).

The first opinion I hold is that climate change itself is the greatest threat to our existence. Given the alarms being sounded by the planet’s scientists observing and measuring our global climate, this is not a particularly original or controversial opinion. Lucky for us humans, it is an imminently (though not easily, as it turns out) preventable disaster, a slow-motion train wreck with time still to stop it before impact.

We Need A God

Religion poisons everything.
Religion poisons everything.

The terrible behavior of the god-believers is a convincing evidence of the non-existence of a morally influential God. Believers loudly legislate each others’ behavior, imposing their made-up gods’ made-up codes on each other (and the rest of us). And believers in gods constantly embarrass the hell out of each other.

It’s a shame there isn’t a real god behind all of the shouting, the offense-taking, the in-the-name-of-killings, whippings, wars, and blasphemy laws, sitting up above it all, shaking his divine head in disgust. The way the world is going, we could really use a god.

Moderates Become Extremists

Mutually exclusive dogmas cannot coexist.

When I was a religious extremist, I embraced every teaching of the Bible as if it could be none other than directly from the mind of a loving God to his lost children. One year of college, then one year of missionary service, only made me more extreme. Meeting and marrying my wife, having our first child, returning to the mission field, and then returning to college to complete my teaching degree were all life events which eroded away my extremism. By the time I was a seasoned teacher, I was religiously and politically liberal. I had become a moderate.

My definition of a religious moderate is one who ignores the bad ideas in their scriptures; extremists embrace the bad ideas. Some extremists move away from the bad ideas, and toward moderation like I did. This phenomenon is healthy for open discussion across political and religious boundaries and results in progress for international and ecumenical relations.

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