Monday, June 30, 2008

AZ Churchgoer Rate is Far Behind Nation's

I lived in Arizona for 10 years and call it my home.

I often thought of Arizona as being very conservative. So I imagined that a lot of its population was religious.

But it turns out that Arizona's churchgoer rate is far behind the nation's.

Thirty-nine percent of Arizonans say they seldom or never go to worship service, which is much higher than the national average of 27 percent. And a Pew survey released on Feb. 25 said 22 percent of Arizonans claim no religious affiliation at all, also higher than the national norm.

The Arizona Daily Star article says that this difference could be attributable to the fact that many Arizonans have come to Arizona from a different state. They are "transients" and don't have a history of going to a church because their grandfathers or great grandfathers did.

The Atheist Blogger was recently asking which area in the U.S. had the most atheists or non-believers. While university towns and places such as San Francisco and Seattle are options, he might also want to consider Arizona. It's a beautiful state with many different climates and landscapes and a great place to live.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Texas Supreme Court Rejects Exorcism Lawsuit

From Legal News Online.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday rejected a jury award over injuries a 17-year-old girl suffered in an exorcism conducted by members of the church she attended.

The justices ruled that the exorcism was a matter of church doctrine and subject to certain First Amendment religious protections, and thus the case would "unconstitutionally entangle the court in matters of church doctrine."

In its 6-3 decision, the high court ruled that a lower court erred when it said the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God's First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion did not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress brought on by a "hyper-spiritualistic environment."

Laura Schubert sued the Colleyville, Texas, church in 2002, claiming she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the church members performed an exorcism on her in 1996, when she was 17.

In 2002, a Tarrant County jury found the church and its members liable for abusing and falsely imprisoning the girl.

The jury awarded her $300,000. The 2nd Court of Appeals later reduced the verdict to $188,000.

In the high court's majority opinion, Justice David Medina wrote that finding the church liable "would have an unconstitutional 'chilling effect' by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs."

The court ruling added: "We do not mean to imply that 'under the cloak of religion, persons may, with impunity,' commit intentional torts upon their religious adherents."

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson dissented. He said providing the church immunity goes against U.S. Supreme Court precedent and is far beyond constitutional protections for religious conduct.

"The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion's name," Jefferson wrote.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Terry Pratchett has not found God

There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.

I don't think I've found God, but I may have seen where gods come from.

Read the entire article here.

I thought it was fishy that the article I mentioned earlier claimed that Pratchett had found "God", but provided no quotes that indicated that. Apparently the article was jumping to false conclusions.

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Workplace Wars Over Religion

Wars over religion seen in one-third of workplaces, says an article at

The survey was conducted with 100 Canadian senior executives by staffing service Office Team.

Nearly one-third of employers have seen clashes connected to religion in their workplaces, 31 per cent said that the "unsolicited sharing" of religious views has been a problem, and 13 per cent have seen employees refuse to do certain work or associate with certain co-workers because of their religious beliefs, a survey of 278 organizations by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) finds.

The survey also found that 61 per cent of respondents said they have made an accommodation for an employee based on his or her religious beliefs, 55 per cent of companies provide flexible scheduling to let employees attend religious services, and 33 per cent offer paid time off for religious holidays.

Still, 68 per cent said they "make reasonable accommodations for beliefs and practices," implying the remainder don't. "This is interesting because, by law, all companies are supposed to offer reasonable accommodations," noted i4cp research analyst Anne Lindberg.

The survey also found that almost two-thirds do not have any written policies that specifically address religious bias and just 12 per cent have any written definition of what constitutes a religious belief.

I have the feeling that those who were sharing their religious views without solicitation were not atheists. There would be less of a problem if religious people could resist the urge to convert and conquer.

And where are my paid religious holidays? I think we atheists should make some up...

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Textbook Row Heats Up in Kerala

I have to admit, that I had to look up Kerala, because I had no idea where it was. Sorry. Pretending my readers are as ignorant as I am, Kerala is a state on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India.

A textbook that allegedly tries to inject Communism into pupils has rallied disparate forces against the Left Democratic Front Government in Kerala.

The Church, the Muslim League and the Nair Service Society allege that large portions of the book belie an attempt by the Left to instill atheism into young impressionable minds. They also fear the book, which cites incidents of bygone caste cruelties, will sow seeds of communal discontent.

The ire has been targeted at a chapter titled “No Religion for Jeevan”, patently advising children not to enter their religion in the registers. As shown in the excerpt, an inter-caste couple is enrolling their child at school and insists that the columns against the child’s religion and caste be left blank.

The Congress-led Opposition United Democratic Front, the Church and Muslim organizations have demanded the immediate withdrawal of the controversial Social Studies book in the seventh standard under the Kerala syllabus.

For the past week, pro-UDF student activists have been out in the streets, attacking the police, burning textbook bundles and damaging public property. The arrested Kerala Student Union leaders have a launched a fast in the jail.

Read entire article here.

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Dear Billy

DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I want to make myself clear: I have no interest in God or religion, and I don't care who knows it. As far as I'm concerned, God doesn't exist, and this life is all there is. Don't even bother to write me back, because I'm not interested. -- G.P.

DEAR G.P.: To be frank, it sounds to me as if down inside you actually do know that God exists; otherwise, why would you be fighting so strenuously against Him and trying to keep Him out of your life? Or why would you even bother to write me?

After all, why fight against something (or Someone) that doesn't even exist (as you claim)? If you were really convinced God didn't exist, the logical thing for you to do would be to ignore Him. But you aren't ignoring Him -- and the more you fight against God, the more you are in danger of persuading yourself that He actually does exist.

Have you ever honestly asked yourself why you don't believe in God? I'm sure you could list many "reasons" why you've rejected Him; most professed atheists can. But are they the real reason? I doubt it. I suspect the real reason you've rejected God is because you want to be free to run your own life -- and you know that won't be possible once you admit God exists.

You may have rejected God -- but He has not rejected you! He loves you and yearns for you to come to Him and discover the peace and hope that come from knowing Christ. Jesus was God in human flesh, and He came to show us what God is like. The Bible says, "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (Son), who is at the Father's side, has made him known" (John 1:18).

I can't tell you how many times I have heard this: "If you don't believe in God, then why are you wasting so much of your time arguing about it? Why don't you just leave us alone?"

Hilarious, I know. Leave them alone?

First off, religion is clearly a huge influence in world events. All one needs to do is turn on the news to see that. Religion affects everyone, whether we want it to or not.

Religion is what keeps people like Michael J. Fox hopeless, because he knows that it is too late for him because people with religious agendas have prevented scientists from finding cures to diseases.

Religion is what results in our country's teens having high numbers of pregnancies and STD's. Their insistence on abstinence only education is seriously harming our youth.

Religion is what keeps sticking its nose into other peoples' bedrooms, a place where nobody has any business but the consenting adults inside.

Religion is what fights to teach pseudoscience in a classroom, and constantly argues against science, which has resulted in the majority of our country disbelieving in the fact of evolution, and thinking that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.

I'm sorry, Dr, Graham, but there are many reasons for atheists to actively speak out against religion.

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Alzheimer's leads atheist Terry Pratchett to God

Alzheimer's leads atheist Terry Pratchett to appreciate God

TERRY PRATCHETT, the fantasy writer suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, has suggested he may have found God after years of atheism.

The 60-year-old creator of the Discworld series has spoken of an unexplained experience shortly after his diagnosis with the condition.

“I’m certainly not a man of faith, but as I was rushing down the stairs one day . . . it was very strange. And I say this reluctantly, because I am trying to deal with this situation in as hardheaded a way as I can. I suddenly knew that everything was okay, that what I was doing was right, and I didn’t know why,” Pratchett said.

“It was a thought that all the right things are happening in the circumstances; and I thought, ‘Well, that’s all right then.’ I don’t actually believe in anyone who could have put that in my head – unless it was my dad, and he’s been dead a few years.”

In an interview in today’s News Review, the author also said: “It is just possible that once you have got past all the gods that we have created with big beards and many human traits, just beyond all that, on the other side of physics, there just may be the ordered structure from which everything flows.

“That is both a kind of philosophy and totally useless – it doesn’t take you anywhere. But it fills a hole.”

Previously, Pratchett has said he was “rather angry with God for not existing”.

The novelist, who has sold more than 55m books, described his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s last year as an “embuggerance”. He believes he may be able to write another two or so books before his condition becomes too severe.

First off, I hardly think he said anything about "God" with a capital "G". The author of the article is clearly referencing the Judeo-Christian God. What Mr. Pratchett spoke of sounded more like the god that Einstein or Hawking speak of.

Not to make light of Alzheimer's but shouldn't it be fairly easy for him to explain his experiences with "God"?

Read the entire Times Online article here.

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Atheist China top Bible producer

Atheist China set to become world's top Bible producer

The factory looks like it could be any plant in this export-driven nation. Hundreds of Chinese workers huddle over loud machines churning out large orders for customers at home and abroad.

But what they're making might surprise you: Bibles.

"We have the same structure as a Motorola or a Philips," said Dean, a New Zealander who has worked with the company in China since 1991. "They make cell phones and TV tubes, and we're producing Bibles."

Because everything at the factory, including the state-of-the-art equipment and the extra-thin printing paper, is donated, Amity has maintained a decided price advantage over potential competitors overseas. Its Bibles sell for as low as $1.35 for a pocket edition and $2.10 for a hardcover.

All proceeds, Dean said, go back to the company's charity arm to fund social programs for the rural poor in China and help local churches. He declined to provide specifics.

About 21 percent of Amity's production is exported to countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Besides translations in exotic languages including Swahili and Slovak, it produces a Braille edition; nine blind workers were hired to supervise production.

Manager Li's crowded office brims with all shapes and sizes of the foreign gospel. He says he is too busy to read the book to which he has devoted 20 years of his life. Instead, he says, he is preoccupied with the quality and variety of the product.

"Here is a Zulu Bible," he said, picking up a bright pink book with a cover that sparkled like broken mirrors. "Some people may want to throw up just looking at this color. Others see it as a potential bestseller, especially if you market it with a pair of pink high-heeled shoes."

$2 for a Bible, when you can get them for free in hotel rooms? But I guess they don't have pink sparkles on them.

Read the entire Houston Chronicle article here

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A Little Pat for your Friday

My favorite bits:

It's our fault for indulging religion and for giving religious opinion a status in our society that it hasn't earned and doesn't deserve.

Your soul doesn't need cleansing and is not dirty, and anyone who tells you otherwise is doing so for their own benefit, not for yours.

Because the purpose of religion is the employment and empowerment of clergy.

Secularism is not atheism, as many of these god-peddling faith jockeys will often try to pretend...

It means religious freedom for everybody, not just religious people.

It means respecting everyone's right to worship freely, but removing the power of the middlemen, the clergymen, to interfere and meddle, uninvinted, into peoples' lives.

I just don't think it's possible for us to stay this stupid for ever. We'll try of course.

I don't want it to take thousands of years, I want it to happen now.

Thanks to Atheist Media Blog.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama is Terrifying

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. (

DOBSON: Speaking as a private individual again, it terrifies me the thought that he might be our commander in chief, might be in the oval office, might be the leader of the free world because I said it a minute ago, the man is dangerous, especially with regard to this issue of morality.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was James Dobson on Sean's radio show earlier today and once again harshly criticizing Barack Obama.

Joining us now with further reaction our newest FOX News contributor — I knew he'd wind up in this business — former Arkansas governor, former presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.


COLMES: Let me ask you. Do you agree with what Dr. Dobson said when he said the idea of Barack Obama as president terrorizes me — terrifies me? Do you agree with that?

HUCKABEE: There are many things about Barack Obama that make me very uncomfortable for the country.

COLMES: Terrified?

HUCKABEE: I think he's a great communicator. Let's give him that. But there are potholes and there are sinkholes. And what Barack Obama has done is to drive his campaign into a sink hole by saying some things regarding religion that I think will make people who are religious very uncomfortable.

COLMES: Are you terrified?

HUCKABEE: Look, I think my terror is limited to people in the Middle East who point bombs at us. Am I concerned as a citizen? Yes. And what I've been saying is that we don't need to make up stuff about Barack Obama because I think that the record is going to be the best weapon to defeat him.

And he's a wonderful communicator. But you need to ask, what is it that he believes? Well, what he believes is that the "Sermon on the Mount" is outdated.

read the rest here

Wow, isn't this the show where one of the hosts is supposed to be a "liberal"? I can't even tell which one that might be. Dobson is terrified. He should be. I hope that people like him who profit from pushing their agenda and bigotry on everyone else will see a change during their lifetimes.

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Offensive Apparel

English metal band, Cradle of Filth, has come out with a shirt that claims 'Jesus is a (expletive deleted)' and depicts a nun masturbating. (swiped from

A 16-year-old was arrested on Monday for wearing the shirt and was charged with offensive behaviour under the Summary Offences Act 2005 for public nuisance.

I've been informed the expletive removed rhymes with stunt, runt and punt....

Not surprisingly, this is not the first time the shirt has had a run-in with the law.

In 2005, 19-year-old Adam Shepherd was fined £40 and sentenced to 80 hours community for wearing the shirt in England.

In an interview with Kerrang! magazine, Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth bizarrely suggested God was working through the band.

"Defaming organised religion openly in public is now a crime? What is wrong with England? Still, the litter problem on our city streets should improve dramatically if they keep handing out 80-odd hour community punishment orders willy-nilly," he said.

"The country will be spotless in no time, a sure sign that God works in mysterious ways, even through us!"

Am I the only one who got a chuckle out of that one?

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Some Explaining to Do

I didn't post a single blog entry for several months and then today I posted way too many. As the Atheist Blogger said, I have some explaining to do. He is probably the only reader I have, so I don't think anyone else noticed my absence :)

Basically, I run kind of hot and cold on things. I get really excited about an idea and rush into it, but then I don't really have much stamina. This blog was something I really wanted to do, and goodness knows I've had plenty of spare time in which to do it, but I quickly became frustrated.

I immersed myself in atheist blogs, religious news, etc. and at first it was exciting, but then it quickly became downright frustrating. Frustrating thinking about all of these people in the world who never question their beliefs and who are intolerant of others, including members of my family. I felt pretty helpless, like nothing I could say or do would make a difference.

I began to feel like I didn't have any valuable commentary, either. Which may explain why I will mostly be posting news articles and videos with minimal commentary for a while, unless the mood strikes me differently.

I also spent more time on my personal blog. I am not "out" to my family and to many of my acquaintances, so I feel more comfortable keeping this part of my life away from my private blog. This conflict of interests also made me frustrated at times, as I couldn't express myself fully on this blog or my other one for fear of people knowing I was an atheist.

Anyways, atleast today, I feel that I want to try to post more here. Hopefully it will last, since I really am looking for more things to keep my time occupied. And I hope someone enjoys reading it, or atleast doesn't totally hate it.

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Islam as our Ally

Stephen Prothero makes a good point in his article "The Islam You Don't Hear About" (Khaleej Times Online).

But jihadists are one thing, and ordinary Muslims are quite another. Americans of good will know this. What we also need to know is that in the fight against Islamic radicalism, one of our key allies could be Islam itself.

In fighting the battle against fundamentalists of all faiths, we would probably benefit from the help of the more progressive moderates of those faiths. They may be more more likely to be able to influence a change than atheists can.

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Jihad for Love

Parvez Sharma believes the gay and lesbian Muslims in A Jihad for Love, his new documentary, are an unlikely but compelling group of storytellers.

While discussing the challenges of being gay Muslims, they also are giving audiences a glimpse into the world of Islam.

"I think the greatest stories of empowerment about a religion can be told through their most vulnerable minorities," Sharma said. "And I realize that deeply with gay and lesbian Muslims. ... These are people who are deeply religious and who, in spite of all the condemnations and sometimes interference by the state and by governments, have held on to their faith. And they talk about Islam in such a profound and beautiful way."

Their stories gave Sharma, who came out as a gay man when he was 19 and living in his native India, more strength in his own Muslim identity, he said. (Houston Chronicle article)

I applaud these people for their strength in telling their story under such threat. But I can't help but wonder how they can still embrace a religion that despises them?

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Thank God For Science

Read Ray Comfort's latest blog entry in which he begins...

"Light is invisible. We can't see it..."

Thank you to The Atheist Blogger for the link.

While reading Ray Comfort's words of wisdoms I came across an entry titled: The Atheist Worldview

"There've been several hundred gay marriages enacted in California in the past few days. Maybe a couple of thousand by now, I haven't checked the numbers. And in the non-gay-marrying Midwest, they're fighting floods, while in California it's fair and dry. How is The Golden State managing to escape the wrath of your imaginary friend, I wonder?" Weemaryanne

Maryanne. At present there are 840 wild-fires that are burning at once in California, destroying many homes. The fires were started by lightning strikes. Guess who’s in charge of the electrical department? These are from thunder storms that have no rain. Guess who gives the rain? You said "while in California it's fair and dry." We are having the worst drought in our recorded history. Last year 1,155 homes were destroyed. You live in an imaginary world. I suggest you get out more.

So apparently Ray Comfort is claiming that the California wildfires and drought are caused by the gays. And I find it especially hilarious that he tells the commentor that they "live in an imaginary world". Words escape me...

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Williams Sisters Can't Vote Because of Religion

Serena Williams would vote for Barack Obama if she could. Don't even ask Venus Williams what her political leanings are.

The Williams sisters, vocal on so many issues from fashion to gender equality and equal pay for women, say they're not allowed to vote because of their religion. The sisters, who have 14 Grand Slam singles titles between them and are among the most recognizable athletes in sports, are Jehovah's Witnesses.

After their first-round wins at Wimbledon, both were asked about the Nov. 4 presidential election.

"I feel that what I do in tennis isn't really political," Venus said after her 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over British wild card entry Naomi Cavaday on Tuesday. The work she does for UNESCO and other agencies was about helping people, she said, "I don't see it as political. I don't vote."

Younger sister Serena said she was "excited to see Obama out there doing his thing."

"I'm a Jehovah's Witness, so I don't get involved in politics. We stay neutral. We don't vote," she said. "So I'm not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn't for my religion." (International Herald Tribune Article)

I had never heard of this before reading the article. I think it is incredibly stupid for a religion to forbid their followers from voting. But maybe if less religious people voted, we wouldn't be having all these problems allowing gay people equal rights, giving women the right to choose, letting evolution be taught in schools, and giving scientists the freedom and funding to find cures for diseases. And we probably wouldn't be in the middle of a war.

In all seriousness though, I find it incredible that a religious group would encourage their followers not to have a voice or opinion about important matters. I guess they really are just waiting for the afterlife.

I did not mean to imply that because they do not vote, that they have no voice or opinion. I meant that obviously if this religion discourages voting, then they discourage this form of voice and opinion.

I made the assumption that since they are discouraged from voting and encouraged to stay neutral ("I don't get involved in politics. We stay neutral."), that they are also discouraged from other forms of voicing their political opinions as well.

Based on the article I read, I would say this is a good assumption. If it is not true, then the sisters' commments are very misleading.

But I have very little knowledge about this faith, so if anyone knows more, please fill me in.

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Pointing the Blame

Bruce Walker of the Canada Free Press writes:

There is an invidious desire by those on the atheist Left to pretend that Hitler and the Nazis were some sort of rogue Christians and that many devout Christians accepted the Nazis and Hitler as protectors against Bolshevism and Jews.

He then goes on to say that Hitler was a pagan and that he supported Islamism.

I think he misses the point entirely. Hitler was religious, not atheist. And while his religious views may have strayed from "true Christianity", is there even such a thing? There are so many different ways to interpret the Christian Bible.

Atheists argue that Hitler was religious because the example of Hitler and the Holocaust are constantly used against us by Christians who want to claim that Hitler was an atheist and that the Holocaust is a result of atheism. Whether he was Christian, pagan, Islamic, or a mixture of the three, it is beside the point, as he was clearly not an atheist. The writer of the article also fails to mention Hitler's support from the Catholic church.

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Teaching Not Preaching

Modesto is known as the bible belt of California. It has deep conservative roots in farmland and a vocal Evangelical community.

Like many other places, Modesto is becoming more religiously diverse.

But unlike any other place, religion is a required course in high school here.

"We can't preach, but we can teach," teacher Yvonne Taylor said.

Most schools studiously avoid religion. In fact, Modesto is the only public school district in America where students have to study all major religions to graduate.

While there are many religions here, the goal is to create one community where everyone is accepted. (CBS News article)

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Religion in the Military

Three years after a scandal at the Air Force Academy over the evangelizing of cadets by Christian staff and faculty members, students and staff at West Point and the Naval Academy are complaining that their schools, too, have pushed religion on cadets and midshipmen. Read more of the NY Times article here.

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Love Guru

Hindu religious groups have been protesting over a soon-to-be-released comedy film The Love Guru. They object to the presentation of Hinduism in a comical way.

The ‘love guru’ is a comic character who helps others with their love-life. Hindus have claimed that their religion has been slighted because the character is shown in traditional Indian yogi attire and is shown to have been trained in Hindu institutions.

The producers of the film deny such allegations claiming that the love guru is a humorous character, not representing any religion. However, Hindu organisations rebut with the argument that whenever an Indian has to be ridiculed in American media, the character is shown in a sari or dhoti. And so is the case with the love guru. (Daily Times Article)

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Hamming it Up

In the city of Philadelphia, nine academic, scientific and cultural institutions are holding a Year of Evolution, a series of exhibitions, seminars and lectures to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin next February, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, “The Origin of Species.”

The intent of the citywide event, said Janet M. Monge, one of the organizers, is to increase public understanding of evolution and science in general at a time when polls show that a majority of Americans believe God created man in his present form and that the number of people who accept the evolutionary model of human origins is declining.

She said the Philadelphia events were also intended to encourage people to consider the evolutionary alternative to the biblical account of the origins of man, as represented by the new Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., a $35 million institution that has attracted more than 400,000 visitors since it opened in May 2007.

Ken Ham, the president of the Creation Museum, said he expected to see more pro-evolution events as the Darwin anniversary approaches. Mr. Ham said that in response his museum was planning its own exhibits on the origins of life.

He rejected the possibility that Christians could believe in evolution. “If you take Genesis as literal history, then of course the two are exclusive,” he said. “Christians who believe in evolution are being inconsistent.

I tend to agree. From the NY Times Article, via the Denialism Blog

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An Idea is a Greater Monument than a Cathedral

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29

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Islam is Above Criticism

Ian McEwan, author of widely praised novels Atonement and Enduring Love, condemned Muslim extremists for attempting to establish a tyrannical society intolerant of women and homosexuals. His comments were made in the context of defending his friend and fellow novelist Martin Amis, who had previously been denounced as a racist for other supposedly anti-Islamic remarks.

“Martin is not a racist,” McEwan told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “And I myself despise Islamism, because it wants to create a society that I detest, based on religious belief, on a text, on lack of freedom for women, intolerance towards homosexuality and so on – we know it well.”

McEwan recognised that similar views were held by some Christian hardliners in America.

"I find them equally absurd," he said. "I don't like these medieval visions of the world according to which God is coming to save the faithful and to damn the others. But those American Christians don't want to kill anyone in my city, that's the difference."

He also attacked pro-Muslim political correctness. “As soon as a writer expresses an opinion against Islamism, immediately someone on the left leaps to his feet and claims that because the majority of Muslims are dark-skinned, he who criticizes it is racist,” he said.

McEwan’s comments caused an uproar and were promptly denounced by the Muslim Council of Britain.

And that could be just the beginning. McEwan could also be brought up on hate crime charges, according to The [UK] Independent.

The British Home Office defines a hate crime as “[a]ny incident, which constitutes a criminal offense, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.” This includes certain forms of speech and expression, including “offensive posters and leaflets, abusive gestures … and bullying at school or in the workplace”.

Martin Amis, the novelist whom McEwan was defending, found himself in hot water when he published an essay in which he wondered whether Muslims should be prevented from traveling and even deported.

“There’s a definite urge — don’t you have it? — to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order,’” he wrote. ( article)

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George Carlin

NEW JERSEY - June 23 - GEORGE CARLIN, acerbic and insightful social critic and comedian died Sunday at age 71. Carlin was especially famous for his "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" routine, and his edgy style of witty commentary that made him one of the nation's funniest and most controversial performers.

But for a growing segment of the American population -- the 13% of "godless" Americans who profess no religious beliefs -- Carlin was especially heroic. George Carlin was an Atheist who often eviscerated religious dogmatism in his special, humorous style. Of religion he said:

"When it comes to bullshit, big time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do every minute of the day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever 'til the end of time!" ( Article)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama's "Fruitcake" Interpretation

James Dobson has criticized comments made in a speech by Obama in June 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.

Here is the part of the speech made by Obama in which he suggests "it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful."

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asks in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?" (See CNN International Article)

James Dobson said (in a comments to be aired on his radio show Tuesday)
"Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament. "

"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology," Dobson said, later adding that Obama is "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

"What the senator is saying there, in essence, is that 'I can't seek to pass legislation, for example, that bans partial-birth abortion, because there are people in the culture who don't see that as a moral issue," Dobson also said. "And if I can't get everyone to agree with me, than it is undemocratic to try to pass legislation that I find offensive to the Scripture. Now that is a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

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