Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Christian Sex Ed in Australia

A sex-ed program that was devised by Presbyterian and Baptist Churches is being taught in schools in New South Wales.

The program pushes an anti-abortion and pro-abstinence message

The Education Act in Australia demands that public school instruction be strictly non-sectarian and secular.

Read the article here.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Why I don't Kill People

This is a very amiable video from Troylus2 on YouTube that attempts to explain to a believer where atheists get their morals from, and that belief in your god is not required to be a moral person. Also, the dog in the video is entirely adorable.

Thanks to Raytractors for the video.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Protecting the Church

State judges determined that harm done to a 17 year old girl during an exorcism performed by her church are protected by the First Ammendment.

And while this might mean "certain harms may go unaddressed...the larger protection of the church and religious freedom is the overriding concern."

The protection of the church overrides our children's safety?

"The government can't get involved in overseeing religious practices. The best way to say it is it's not American.

"If she did prevail that would erase about 150 years of law in this country from the Supreme Court saying the government does not get involved in the internal affairs and operations of the church. It would effectively be the end of church independence and religious freedom in our country."

In other words, these judges refuse to hold religion responsible for its crimes. Once again, religion is escaping criticism. When are we going to remove religion from its pedestal of un-earned respect and hold it up to the same standards of decency we require of ourselves?

At what point would these judges consider the abuse to be severe enough to warrant interference?

Luckily, three of the judges did not agree with the ruling:

[the ruling] was "inconsistent with US Supreme Court precedent and extends far beyond the protections our Constitution affords religious conduct."

Laura Schubert Pearson, now 29 and mother of two, says she plans to take her case to the US Supreme Court. Let's hope they show a little more sense.

(Thanks to

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Every Sperm is Sacred

A 44 year old woman in Canada just gave birth to her 18th child.

"We never planned how many children to have. We just let God guide our lives, you know, because we strongly believe life comes from God and that's the reason we did not stop the life," said Mr Ionce, who works in construction.

None of the couple's children were multiple births and all were born naturally apart from their four-year-old son Filip, who was born by Caesarean-section.

"[W]e strongly believe life comes from God"

Someone needs to explain to these people where babies actually come from! They seem to have some confusion on the subject if they think it is only because God wills it. I just hope they have the finances and patience to raise all 18 of these children properly.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Surfing for God at Work

A city council in the UK has blocked its staff from looking at websites about atheism.

The Birmingham City Council has established rules that prevent its staff from visiting websites promoting atheism, witchcraft, Satanism, the occult, sexual deviancy, and criminal activity.

Under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, it is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their religion or belief, which includes atheism.

The National Secular Society is currently seeking to get the rule changed, otherwise they will pursue legal action.

Why atheism is lumped in with sexual deviancy and criminal activity, I don't understand. Assuming that atheists are immoral, criminal, sexual deviants, is ridiculous, but nothing new.

And while these people should probably be working instead of surfing the net, this is clearly a violation of atheists' (and Wiccans') rights as staff are still allowed to visit sites relating to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions. They either need to limit access to all religious sites, or stop including atheism and wicca in their definition of criminal and deviant activities.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Orangutan Love

I love orangutans. They are so amazing! Check out this video:

Thanks to Atheist Media for the video.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, July 28, 2008

Worshipping Mother Earth

'Environmentalism' is the new worldwide faith, writes J.D. Longstreet.

At the center of this new faith is a single deity. Mother Earth!

If I try to keep my house clean and orderly or wash and style my hair, does that mean I worship my house and my hair?

Environmentalism is a 'feel-good' religion based on a myth!

As opposed to your 'feel-bad' religion based on a myth?

It is a Pagan religion and Christian churches, and Christian men and women, should have nothing to do with it.

Christians everywhere, you heard him! Please stop recycling, car pooling, and turning off your lights when you leave the room.

It stands against the tenets of Christianity and is, at it's very base, blasphemous!

It is against our teachings to conserve the planet! We want to destroy it as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next life!

You know, a fact is a fact. It makes absolutely no difference whether you, or I accept that fact. It remains a fact, a truth. No matter how much we try to ignore it, or work around it, like the elephant in the room' it is always a looming presence. Facts are like that...

There is rarely anything as dangerous as 'the arrogance of ignorance'.

Now I'm really confused, what's he talking about?

A favorite quote of mine is brought to mind...

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. - Stephen Roberts

J.D. Longstreet is definitely an atheist when it comes to the 'religion of environmentalism'.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Muslim Dilemma

Obama says Muslim issue is 'no-win situation'

Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday that responding to incorrect assertions that he’s a Muslim has put him in a “no-win situation."

If he allows the Internet rumors and other misleading information to go unchallenged, it’s an affront to his Christianity and could cost him support from voters who don’t want a Muslim in the White House. But if he aggressively confronts the rumors, it could suggest to some that there’s something wrong with being a Muslim.

“This is a classic example of a no-win situation,” Mr. Obama told hundreds of journalists gathered in Chicago for the UNITY convention for journalists of color.

“I have repeatedly said I’m not a Muslim, but this whole strategy of suggesting that I am is indicative of anti-Muslim strategy that we have to fight against,” he said.

Mr. Obama said he also didn’t want his religion to be falsely identified as a matter of respect for his own faith.

“If you were a Muslim and somebody consistently said you were a Christian, I suspect that you would want to have that corrected,” he said.

Later, Mr. Obama was asked whether he would be a strong contender for president if he were a Muslim.

He didn’t directly answer the question, but said the “American people are more tolerant and open minded than a lot of the pundits give them credit for.”

Constantly accusing Obama of being a Muslim is almost like using the Hitler card. By saying that Obama is a Muslim, these people are also expressing their dislike for the religion, and basically saying that they don't think a Muslim should be president.

This is why I don't agree with Obama's statement that American people are more tolerant than pundits give them credit for. You are practically un-electable if you are anything but Christian, and this hardly shows tolerance for other beliefs.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

The Hitler Card

In almost every heated debate somebody inevitably plays the Hitler Card.

What is the Hitler Card? This is associating your opponent's position with either Hitler or the Nazis, and basically claiming guilt by association.

This is basically seen as a last resort or a dirty trick to use in an argument, as associations made to Hitler are often factually incorrect, or are insufficient to discredit an idea.

Frequent uses of the Hitler Card appear during debates on topics such as atheism, evolution, abortion, and eugenics.

The association with atheism, as I have said in previous blogs, is a false one because Hitler was clearly not an atheist. He believed in a higher power. It may not have been your higher power, but it is enough for him to be defined as a theist.

Other uses may be ineffective because mere association is not enough to discredit an idea.


Hitler is responsible for the Volkswagen.
Therefore, Volkswagens are evil.

Hitler liked to paint.
Therefore, painting is evil.

Hitler had a mustache.
Therefore, mustaches are evil.

The Hitler card is often employed as a dirty trick used to incite emotions about a terrible time in the past. It is often over- or mis- used, specifically when an opponent wants to distract or anger their opponent.

Some of the most recent uses of the Hitler Card that I have noticed:

Ben Stein associating scientists and evolution with the Nazis in the film Expelled and claiming that science leads you to killing people. Hitler used science, science must be evil!

Fox News and many other media outlets repeatedly trying to associate Obama with Hitler. One example has been by claiming the Victory Column in Berlin is associated with Hitler and was a bad choice for Obama's Berlin speech. I challenge them to find a place in Berlin that is not associated with Hitler!

Or associating Obama with Hitler because his speeches draw large crowds (200,000 in Berlin last Thursday). Yeah, being a good orator must be bad, because Hitler was a good orator!

Another dirty trick employed by Ann Coulter is associating Obama with Saddam Hussein by repeatedly using his middle name. Same idea, different evil dictator.

So let's all lay off the Hitler Card, folks. It's ridiculous and over-used. Don't always fall for it, and let's stop abusing it and come up with some better arguments.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Eliminating the Bomb

Senator Barack Obama today will propose setting a goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world, saying the United States should transform its nuclear posture and dramatically reduce nuclear stockpiles to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Read the entire New York Times article

Thanks to Pharyngula for the video

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Go to Hell?

Bishop John Shelby Spong:

Religion is always in the control business. That's something people don't really understand, it's in the guilt producing control business.

The church doesn't like for people to grow up because you can't control grown-ups.

People don't need to be born again, they need to grow up.

Every church I know claims that we are the true church...the idea that the truth of god can be bound in any human almost beyond imagination.

God is not a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems, which human beings have created.

This is almost an idea I could subscribe to. You know, if it weren't for the lack of evidence of a god's existence and all that stuff.

Thanks to Atheist Media

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Oh No, They Didn't!

Oh yes, they did.

Since when did "socialism" become a dirty word?
Since when did wanting to improve our nation and to work together with other nations make us unpatriotic?
Since when did the news become so horribly biased?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Religion is Default?

Infants are hard-wired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned, according to an Oxford University psychologist.

Pyschologists have debated whether belief in God or atheism was the natural human state. According to Dr Petrovich, expert in experimental psychology and psychology of religion, belief in God is neither caught nor taught, but develops naturally. It is a result of other psychological development connected with understanding causation.

Dr Petrovich says her mainstream hypothesis on this is that it's an aspect of human development of causal understanding. Children actively seek causal understanding. We can't biologically survive without knowing how cause works in the environment. The concept of God naturally emerges as an aspect of human causal reasoning.

First off, I have issues with the author's capitalization of "God". It implies that this belief is in his particular god, when in fact, people believe in many different gods.

But before all the religious people get excited about these findings, this does not imply that a god exists, it just implies that humans are born with the tendency to attribute things to a higher power.

I tend to agree with this. Humans seem to desire explanations for everything. And as a child, your knowledge is limited. You see your parents as having infinite power and wisdom, and you do not have explanations for many of the things that occur around you.

We all know that children are quite gullible. They are eager to believe in mystical creatures such as fairies, bogey men, or Santa Clause.

This seems to be a human's natural tendency, to accept these things as true. So for a human to become an atheist, they must reject this internal desire to believe in these things in favor of rationality.

I also don't agree with the statement that "all of us are born atheists". We do not know which god we will worship yet when we come out of the womb, and we probably don't develop ideas of a higher power until we are slightly older. But does anybody seriously think that Muslim babies come out of the womb believing in Allah, and Christian babies come out of the womb beliving in Yahweh? No, atleast not the rational among us.

But it seems to me that being an atheist is a statement of disbelief, not just a lack of knowledge about gods. This is why I don't agree that all of us are born atheists. We must actively reject the idea of a god, in my opinion, to fit the term.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's Just a Cracker

Countless blogs have already weighed in on this topic, so I will make this brief.

PZ Meyers finally desecrated his cracker and everybody is up in arms about the thing.

He is being criticized on all sides for being disrespectful and rude to the Catholic faith.

It is my opinion that the Catholics brought this on themselves. If they wouldn't have made such a huge stink about a young man taking a wafer from communion to show his friend, nobody would have cared.

They believe the wafer is the body of Christ and it is sacred to them. Nobody is going into their churches and desecrating wafers in front of them, or stealing them out of their mouths.

But their ridiculous response to this young man who had no bad intentions is what needed to be criticized.

I have no problem with the Catholics holding a cracker in reverence. It's kind of wacky, but it's their choice. But their freedom to believe ends at the point where they try to make everyone else also revere this cracker.

It is necessary for somebody to ridicule this. We cannot allow every religious faith on the planet to demand that everyone else revere their beliefs. Do you know how many religious faiths there are on this planet? Why should Catholicism get preferential treatment? Is it because their beliefs are old? Or because many people subscribe to them?

In the U.S. and in most other western countries, we are free to mock and criticize films, books, celebrities, politicians, you name it, but religion is off limits.

This needs to end. Religions should not be above criticism, not any of them. No matter how many millions of people subscribe to their beliefs, it is still our freedom to criticize those beliefs. My beliefs should also not be above criticism. You are free to come to this blog and tell me what an idiot I am. That is your right, just as it is my right to hold my beliefs.

Nobody has the right not to have their feelings hurt.

It was brought up by a commentor on Atheist Revolution's blog that it is hypocritical for atheists to be upset when Rep. Davis tells an atheist that his beliefs are dangerous but to think it is okay to disrespect the eucharist.

I completely disagree with this. In the first instance, an atheist was being denied his rights to voice his opinion by a government official. Our government is supposed to be secular, and we are supposed to be guaranteed the freedom of religion.

In the second instance, a man is given a cracker in church, he decides to takes it home, and doesn't consider it to be the body of Christ.

Just because somebody is offended by something, doesn't mean that people shouldn't be allowed to do it.

I am offended by smokers who stand too close to me. I am offended by people who curse in front of children. I am offended by people who ride the tram and don't bathe regularly. That doesn't mean that I can demand these people to stop doing those things on the grounds that it is disrespectful to my beliefs.

In short, more of us need to criticize each other's beliefs. If you are lucky enough, you live in a country where the freedom of speech is one of your rights. Don't allow religion or anyone else to take that right away from us.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Mystical Mischief

Excerpts from an article I read in Time magazine by Aravind Adiga while riding the train to Berlin yesterday:

Technology may be vibrantly alive in the U.S. — cell phones and laptops are everywhere — but faith in the science that produces this technology has weakened in the past decade. Evidence ranges from the proliferation of street-side palmists all the way to the White House: in 2005, the religious fundamentalists who oppose Darwin's theory of evolution got a boost when President Bush suggested that American schools should have the freedom to choose instead to teach intelligent design — a slick, pseudoscientific version of Biblical creationism. To a visitor from the supposedly mystical East, all this is disturbing — even repulsive.

In my family, as in most middle-class Indian families I knew when I was growing up, science and mathematics were held in awe.

Reason has replaced God for many Indians of my generation. Nothing gives us greater pride than the importance of India's scientific and engineering colleges, or the army of Indian scientists at organizations such as Microsoft and NASA. Our temples are not the god-encrusted shrines of Varanasi, but Western scientific institutions like Caltech and MIT, and magazines like Nature and Scientific American.

How disturbing, then, to come to the U.S. in 2008, and find that faith in science has diminished..

Why blow the whistle as the West declines into mumbo jumbo? Let them take our dozen-armed deities and magic incense sticks; we'll transfer their busts of Galileo and Descartes to our engineering colleges and outsourcing companies. One day soon, their mystical children will wear turbans and serve our rational children at restaurants in Mumbai.

The author addresses a very real possibility in America's future. We are used to thinking that we are the "best and brightest". But in a country where scientific evidence is denied in favor of religious belief, and where pseudoscience is accepted without discernment, we are at risk of falling far behind. Technology and science are progressing in leaps and bounds. If we don't shake ourselves out of our stupor we will wake up to find that the rest of the world has left us far behind.

For a country that relies so heavily on technology, scientific advancements, and the freedom to speak and think as we choose, we show practically no gratitude to the ideals that brought these things to us.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Red Hot Enlightenment

I don't give a stuff what people believe in, but it won't stop me poking at it or prodding it. Why should religion be any exemption? Telling me I'm going to hell won't bother me because I have the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorn and Bertrand Russell's Teapot in my heart. Google them if you are in the market for some red hot enlightenment.

I spent every Sunday for the first 18 years of my life sitting in a medieval torture chamber listening to a bloke bang on about his imaginary friend who did magic tricks. Then the next 20 years massaging, editing and pruning the brainwashing into something that fit until suddenly I woke up one day and realised I was an atheist.

I wasn't searching for anything. I wasn't dabbling or questioning. I wasn't having any kind of spiritual breakdown. I just opened my eyes one day, looked around and realised that I had once been standing in a house and one by one the walls had collapsed and there was no longer a house there. I was standing out in the open. It was very liberating.

Wearing certain things, eating certain things, mumbling certain things at certain times so some imaginary friend will let you into a club in the sky when you die. I want to do my living now, thanks. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of never having lived.

I don't care what people believe in, but I do care that religion impacts on political discourse, public policy and that it stunts the ability of people to think for themselves and question. And that it kills people and causes suffering. But most of all I care that the invisible electric fences that are wired in the minds of children brainwashed by religion are difficult to remove. And impossible if you don't even know they're there.

by Catherine Deveny, thanks to Richard

One of the most troubling things about religious belief is the anticipation of the after life and the thought that this life is just a waiting room.

"Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one." -Richard Dawkins

To spend your life worrying about eternal rewards or punishments seems like such a gross waste to an atheist. This is your chance! Despite the odds, you came into being and you have the ability to think and feel. Don't throw this chance away.

Live, love, and stop worrying so much about what will happen when it's over!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

People of the World, This is Our Time

Some highlights from his speech.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

The crowds were crazy. It is reported that there were 200,000 people. I noticed many Americans and people from other countries besides Germany. Common things we overheard were people discussing whether they had understood the speech or not. I have the feeling that a lot of people who were there did not speak English.

One complaint I have was that there were not enough metal detectors. I had to wait for an hour pressed up against other people like cattle in a herd to get through one. I also wish they would have had big screens behind him as well. I was too far away to see him, but too close to him to see the giant screens that lined the path from the Brandenberg Gate.

This man is just a politician. But he is a politician that gives people real hope. He is a politician that can inspire partnerships between nations and real change.

He is just a politician. It is up to us, as "citizens of the world" to make these changes. It is our obligation to demand these changes from our governments.

As globalization continues to make the world smaller, it is our duty to put aside our differences and work together to ensure there is a better future for the generations to come.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama in Berlin

This has nothing to do with atheism, but I am going to see Obama in Berlin tonight, so ...yeah.

Obama is being criticized for providing flyers and posters about his speech in Berlin in German language.

I suspect that if he had printed them in English, he would be criticized for assuming that all Germans should understand English. Obsidian Wings states "every German under the age of 40 speaks English – most of them fluently".

I disagree with this. By no means does a majority of Germany speak English. Yes, the younger Germans have learned it in school. But I learned Spanish in school, and I can hardly say a thing in Spanish. Unless they use their English further or are very motivated, they do not retain much.

Perhaps in Berlin the percentage of Germans who speak English is higher than in the rest of Germany. But I would still argue that it is not the majority.

Obama is also being criticized for speaking in Germany.

"The sea of Germans drummed up by the Obama campaign will be used as props to tell us Americans how to vote, and the campaign isn't trying to pretend otherwise. That's breathtakingly arrogant, and par for the course for Barack Obama."

What is breathtakingly arrogant is this mindset that alot of Americans have that the rest of the world doesn't matter, and our relationships with other countries are not important. Foreign relations are vital, and Barack Obama understands that. Our relationship with European countries, Germany being the most populated of those, is very important.

Perhaps the author of that blog would rather a candidate who does not cooperate with the rest of the world. He probably enjoyed the last eight years.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Monotony which the Amiable Atheist gets a bit snippy. If you're looking for a more amiable post please see this one, or this one.

Your caller is entitled to his belief, it is however false.

It must get old having to hear the same bad arguments time after time. And frustrating that apparently none of these people have bothered to read his book or listen to anything he has said repeatedly before making fools of themselves.

It's fine if you want to believe in Adam and the Bible as literal truth. But please admit to yourself that this is based on faith and is not based on rationality. Please don't try to argue with Dawkins who has destroyed your silly arguments countless times through logic and rationality.

If that's what you want to believe, then admit that it does not stand up to logical argument and stop trying because it only looks silly and also gets boring and predictable after awhile.

I think one of these times, after someone challenges Dawkins with an argument he has heard and refuted countless times, he should say,

"Wow, I never thought about it that way. I think you're right! What have I been doing all of this time? Thank you for opening my eyes to the truth!"

No? Well, I thought it might be funny.

Thanks to Atheist Media for the video.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, July 21, 2008

Reconciling Evil With Faith

I am responding to a USA Today opinion article by Michael Novak in which he says

The New Yorker (of all magazines) gave a good number of pages early last month to a quite brilliant book reviewer, James Wood, for a long essay on why he could no longer be a Christian. Stories like his are widespread. They usually cite the natural evils that too often crash upon humans — in China a stupefying earthquake, in Burma a cyclone, elsewhere tsunami, or tornado, disease, flood, or cruel slow-working famine. They then add the evils that humans inflict upon other humans.

Apparently he thinks this is the only argument that atheists use...

Of course, ceasing to be a Jew or a Christian does not wipe these evils away. They continue. They roar on. The rejection of God does not diminish evil in the world by a whit.

Nobody is claiming that atheism will rid the world of evil. We are only stating that it is difficult to reconcile the idea of a loving and all powerful god with all of the suffering that goes on in the world. We have trouble with the idea that we should worship a god who would allow such things to occur to his creation and then claim that the blame lies with us.

In fact, the turn of Russia and Germany from more or less Christian regimes to boastfully atheist regimes did not lessen, but increased, the number of humans who have horribly suffered, by nearly 100 million. Even under atheist interpretations of science, the vast suffering under ferocious competition for survival, for a vastly longer era than was known, far exceeds the evils earlier generations knew.

I don't know how many times I will have to tell someone this: Hitler was not an atheist and Nazi Germany was not an atheist regime. All you have to do is read Mein Kampf or some of Hitler's quotes to see that he clearly believed in god and his religious beliefs drove his hatred of the Jews.

Let's take a look at the definition of an atheist again: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings

Hitler believed in a god. Hitler was not an atheist. Just because you don't agree with how or what he believed about this god, does not make him an atheist just as much as it doesn't make every other denomination or religion you don't agree with athiesm.

And no, I do not want to blame Christianity for Hitler. Hitler had issues that went far deeper than his religious beliefs. But some religious people constantly try to pin the blame on atheism, and I only want to show that this is totally false.

Good, glad we got that one cleared up.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg

One can find similar statistics if we look at suffering and death in religious countries all around the world, such as the Middle East or in Africa. One could also point to the longer life span and overall better health of human beings thanks to the scientific advancements of society that were made despite religion's attempts to squelch them (germ theory, cell research, birth control, and processes that make childbirth easier).

Worse, the world seen by evolutionary biology alone is even more rife with suffering, yet rather more merciless. That world is characterized by raw chance, accident and the death of about 90% of all species that have ever lived.

I find the idea of an omnipotent creator sitting by while we suffer to be much more disturbing. What makes people think that life or the universe owe them more than raw chance?

Would a conviction that our sufferings are meaningless, and due to blind chance, ease the pain of the poor and the unjustly tortured? Raging against the night seems to be an evasion of reality.

If you were going to die, would you rather your doctor told you the truth, or would you rather he told you some comforting lie to give you hope? Now that would be an evasion of reality.

Sustained public conversation about these matters — long, intelligent conversation — can help to diminish mutual misconceptions about the terms of this argument. That conversation could be critical for the future of liberty on this planet.

I agree, but I hope you bring something a little more substantial to the table next time.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Can Sex Wait?

A Time article discusses the recent trend of purity events across the U.S.

For the most part these are ceremonies where daughters promise to remain pure until they are married and fathers promise to help them protect their purity.

[They]came up with a ceremony; they wrote a vow for fathers to recite, a promise "before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the areas of purity," to practice fidelity, shun pornography and walk with honor through a "culture of chaos" and by so doing guide their daughters as well.

Personally I find this a little creepy and strange. I would never feel comfortable promising my purity to my father, let alone discussing it with him. We just don't have that kind of relationship.

A section where a girl talked about a bracelet with a locket that her parents gave her, and only her father has the key. When she is married he will give the key to her husband. I know this is all symbolic, but I couldn't help think of some women in the world who have no rights and are basically chattle. They are their father's property until they are married and then ownership is passed to the husband.

And do these girls really need all of these extravagant parties and symbolism to remain abstinent?

I know first hand how ineffective these kind of abstinence programs are. When I was in the 6th grade a woman came into our classroom and told us about the "Sex Can Wait" program. She had us all take a survey talking about how far we had gone, and then she asked us all to sign a contract promising to remain abstinent until marriage.

How effective was this? Despite the fact that most of my high school class is now already married with kids, I'm fairly certain that all of them did not wait for sex.

I know the contract had little effect on me. I viewed sex as something important and special, so I treated it as such. I waited until I was a legal adult (18). But I can honestly say that I am so grateful I did not wait until marriage.

Why? Because if I had I probably would have married the sleeze I was dating back then sooner, because how long can you date someone before temptations arrise? And now I would be stuck married to an illiterate redneck who doesn't know how email works and who takes better care of his truck than me.

If you want to wait until marriage, that's up to you. But I think the most important thing parents can do is to teach their daughters to respect themselves. And please, teach them to be safe and give them the tools to do so. If temptation arises, and you have made sex completely forbidden, your child is more likely to engage in unsafe sex than someone who has been educated about it and can discuss it openly with their parents.

One of the biggest mistakes I think my parents made was to make discussion of sex kind of off-limits and embarassing. It was very unhealthy and led me to think that everything sex-related was dirty and wrong. I hope that when I have kids they can talk openly to me without fear of being judged.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


I was reading about this woman in France who applied for citizenship, but was denied because she wears a burqa.

In 2005 her application for French nationality was rejected for “lack of assimilation”. Now the Conseil d’Etat has rejected her appeal on the ground that she “adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with the essential values of the French community, and particularly with the principle of sexual equality.” This is the first time the court has refused nationality on the grounds of religious expression. The court heard that the couple followed salafism, a radical form of Islam. The woman adopted the burqa at her husband’s request in France, where she “lives in total submission to the men in her family”.

Good for France, I say.

Certain countries have stricter rules for nationality than others. In Germany you have to learn the language and live here for eight years.

I consider this the right of the country to choose what is required for citizenship.

It is not as if they are disallowing her to wear her burqa. They just (rightly) say that wearing a burqa is counter to the values and equality of women in France, so she does not pass the requirements for citizenship.

What do you think? Is it right for France to deny this woman citizenship because of her burqa?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Islam Bullish in a Bear Market

I read this Newsweek article that talks about faith-based mutual funds.

The writer starts out by commenting on how strange it is that such a thing exists. Remember the camel and the eye of the needle?

Anyways, these faith-based mutual funds work by screening out stocks that don't reflect their values, and apparently some faiths are doing better than others.

The big winners in faith funds (if you can be so crass) are the Islamic funds. They screen out "sin stocks"—and producers of pork products. The profitable difference is riba, or interest. The Qur'an strictly prohibits the borrowing or lending of money at interest: "Whatever you give as riba so that it might bring increase through the wealth of other people will bring you no increase with Allah," it says. Because of this prohibition, Islamic mutual funds, like those in the Amana group, don't invest in financial-services companies: they escaped the subprime mortgage debacle altogether.

The managers of the Christian funds say they're in the faith-based business not to help people get rich, but to help them save—for retirement, for college—with tools they can believe in. Arthur Ally founded the Timothy Plan 15 years ago. "There's nothing wrong with having money and making money," says Ally. "What's wrong is hoarding money."

This is a nice interpretation, but I'm not sure if Jesus made that distinction.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Worth the Watch

This is a documentary on the Qu'ran (1:41:32). Very long, but worth it.

I must admit I don't know a lot about Islam. Mostly I only know about the negative aspects because that is all one ever sees on the television or reads in the news.

But I thought this video was very enlightening. I wish more people could see it because I think there is too little understanding of this religion that over 1 billion of our Earth's population subscribe to.

Thanks to Atheist Media for sharing it.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, July 7, 2008

Evangelical Atheism

Greta Christina raises an excellent point when she asks, "Is it ok for atheists to try to change people's minds? And is there any difference between that and religious evangelicalism?"

Most of us feel negatively about the way that evangelical christians try to spread their beliefs. But are we guilty of doing the same? Are we being hypocritical?

Sure, we're not going door to door or handing out tracts, but we are writing blogs and speaking out. So is there a difference?

Greta Christina concludes that trying to change people's minds is a good thing. We do it everyday. If we didn't, we would never share or hear good ideas.

The problem she has with evangelizing, is how it is done.

Atheists (typically) offer logic and reason for their beliefs.

Religion offers threats of eternal damnation, false hopes of paradise, and falsehoods.

Religion wants to suppress dissenting religious ideas or views. Atheism does not want to suppress different views. We encourage education and critical thinking.

But as she puts it, religion gets a free ride in society:

"In the marketplace of ideas, religion gets a free round- trip ride in a luxury limousine, with a police escort and a climate- controlled armored truck to transport its merchandise. All at public expense. And religious evangelicalism relies on that."

The difference between religious evangelicalism and speaking out about athiesm is that religion tries to silence dissenting views while atheism encourages them.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Religion in the Oval Office gives us a look at the different Christian denominations of presidents in the U.S.:

• Episcopalian: 11 presidents

• Presbyterian: 10

• Methodist: 5

• Baptist: 4

• Unitarian: 4

• Disciples of Christ: 3

• Reformed: 2

• Quaker: 2

• Catholic: 1

• Congregationalist: 2

• Jehovah's Witness: 1

Note: The total is greater than the number of men who have been president because some changed denominations during their lifetime.

Last 50 years: Here are presidents' affiliations going back to 1958: Eisenhower: Jehovah's Witness, later Presbyterian. Kennedy: Catholic. Johnson: Disciples of Christ. Nixon: Quaker. Ford: Episcopalian. Carter: Baptist. Reagan: Disciples of Christ. Bush: Episcopalian. Clinton: Baptist. Bush: Methodist.

John McCain: He was raised in the Episcopalian tradition but now attends a Baptist church. "Do I advertise my faith? Do I talk about it all the time? No," he said in a 2007 interview.

Barack Obama: He wasn't raised in any particular faith. In the mid-1980s, he became a Christian. He has no church home, having recently quit Trinity United Church of Christ after disagreeing with positions of its pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Normal Thinking

In Germany you are required to register in each town you live in.

One of the things they ask you is your religion.

They asked my boyfriend, and he told them he was atheist.

The woman wrote "VD", and he asked, "What does that stand for?"

She replied "verschieden denkend", which means different thinking.

"No," he said, "normal denkend" (normal thinking).

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Christian Couple Ruins Pub

Preaching to the Pub

A devout British Christian couple took over the management of a North London pub less than a year ago.

They banned gambling and swearing, and would carry Bibles around. They barred several long-time customers for swearing.

"You can't run a pub and not swear. If they are Christians, they should run a church, not a bloody pub," one customer said.

The couple upset so many of the pub's regulars that earnings fell steeply, leading the pub owners to fire them and replace them with a more easygoing landlord.

But the couple refuses to go quietly, having barricaded themselves, with three of their six children, in a flat above the pub.

Now, the case will go before a county tribunal in 10 days' time, on July 14.

What I don't understand, is why you would manage a pub if you disagreed with the type of behavior that went on inside of them? This is another example of religious people trying to push their beliefs on everyone else.

Basically, the couple was violating the pub customers' freedom of religion.

Who gave Christians the right to be everybody's moral police, anyways?

Believe what you want, and keep it to yourself! I honestly don't care. But when you try to intrude on other peoples' freedoms, this is where we have a problem.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Korean TV Show Under Fire

Christians Denounce TV Program for Humanizing Jesus

A television documentary depicting Jesus as a human is drawing sharp criticism from Christian circles.

While Christian leaders have called for the cancellation of the program, the TV network's union has vowed to continue the broadcast.

The Christian Council of Korea (CCK), a group of protestant Christians, recently sent a complaint to SBS who aired the first episode of a four-part documentary ``Shineui Gil, Inganeui Gil'' (The Road of God, the Road of Man) on June 29.

The CCK said: ``What the program is trying to say could shake many people's beliefs. It is a violation of individuals rights to have freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.'' The group reportedly tried to cancel the show.

The CCK started a hunger strike but halted it several hours later Sunday. The Korean Association of Church Communication said, ``We are very anxious that the program is trying to tarnish the honor of Jesus, who is the God of 2 billion people worldwide. We will do whatever we can to stop the devious program.''

Christian leaders allegedly threatened the program directors in an attempt to influence the station and management.

The directors said any threat was a violation of the media's right to speak. ``Their actions cause antipathy toward their belief, not our program,'' one said.

They said statements in the program saying Jesus was not God but rather a very good human political leader were quite well known and frequently talked about in other countries and among academics. ``Do not emphasize this as an attempt to start a war against religion,'' they stated on the company's Web site.

They explained the program was intended to seek harmony among religions involving Jehovah, God and Jesus. ``We are trying to help people understand other people's beliefs, not downplaying anything.''

Oh no, we wouldn't want anyone challenging their beliefs! That would be terrible.

When did freedom of religion turn into freedom from hearing anything that might hurt your feelings? People need to grow thicker skins.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Atheist Nexus

Thanks to The Friendly Atheist, I am now a member of Atheist Nexus.

It's a social network for atheists, humanists, agnostics, non-theists, and free thinkers.

...we all share a common desire to live free from the fallacies of religion. This site is about relationships with people of like-mind.

There are quite a few social networking platforms out there that cater for freethinkers - why is Atheist|Nexus different? We are committed to being an active conduit for goodwill within our communities. We will offer scholarships to promote the study of science and other subjects. We will make endowments to causes we believe in. We will do good things and HAVE FUN AT IT!

So go join and you can add me as your friend!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rapture Ready

Choice Cuts

22% of Americans claim to be certain that Jesus is going to come back to Earth and judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years. Another 22% think he probably will. So that's 44% of the electorate who are basically convinced that he's coming back in their lifetime.

...It is perfectly maladaptive to planning for a sustainable future...certainly when it comes time to avoid global conflict, conflict is the precursor to Jesus coming back.

It really is not an exaggeration to say that there is some percentage of the American electorate which if they turned on their television today and saw that a mushroom cloud had replaced Jerusalem, they would see a silver lining in that cloud.

...That's a terribly dangerous state of affairs...

Faith really is a conversation stopper. You can't challenge someone further and treat them as though they're drawing their ethics out of the illiad or the odyssey.

Originally posted on

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sharia Law

Britain's top judge, Lord Phillips, has expressed support for certain aspects of Sharia law.

Is cosying up to Muslim extremists the best way to defeat terrorism?

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, was nice about sharia this week. It is not "only about mandating sanctions such as stoning, flogging, the cutting off of hands and death to those who do not comply with the law", he said. And the provisions of sharia "do not include the repression of women".

Lord Phillips admitted that he did not claim "special expertise" in the field, but he had been to see some sharia chaps in Oman and they had seemed very civilised.

Anyway, his main point was that sharia might be useful here in mediating disputes about things such as marriage.

And it is true that sharia is not "only" about nasty punishments. But such punishments are indeed part of sharia (40 lashes for drinking alcohol is a widely accepted tariff, for example; 100 lashes for fornication), even if they are not always applied. Lord Phillips also did not mention that sharia upholds polygamy for men, prescribes a lower compensation for injury to a Muslim woman or a non-believer than to a Muslim man, and gives less value to their testimony in court. A little bit of repression of women there, Lord Phillips?

Sharia also traditionally insists on a second-class status of citizenship for Jews and Christians. All four main schools of sharia say that the penalty for apostasy - abandoning the faith - is death.

He also quoted from the Koran to show the importance of justice in Islam. I looked up the two quotations. The first appears in a chapter called "Women", which says things like: "The male shall inherit twice as much as a female". The bit about judging with fairness appears just after the following: "Those that deny Our revelations will burn with fire." The second quotation, also about judging with fairness, comes in a passage about how Jews who believe the wrong things must be punished.

Of course, you could find some blood-curdling things in Jewish and Christian scriptures, but the difference for our society today is that neither Jews nor Christians are trying to establish a state based on the political implementation of their religion. Islamists are.

There is a similar problem with the Government's efforts against terrorism. A huge programme called Contest, with a subset called Prevent, is supposed to address the hearts and minds of young Muslims. If you read its latest strategy document, you find that its definition of "shared values" has little idea of Britishness. Its section on "grievances" implies that the root causes of extremism are Britain's own racism, inequality or foreign policy. Its proposed "structures" to prevent violent extremism are a cat's cradle of interdepartmental confusion.

So the solution to extremism is that extremists become the official representatives of Islam in this country. Islamist mosques, organisations and spokesmen will be treated as the true voice of Muslims (and woe betide those Muslims who disagree). Then we shall get a lot more sharia than Lord Phillips has bargained for.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, July 4, 2008

Twain's Hoax

In Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court Hank Morgan watches his medieval companion wallow with pigs she believes to be enchanted nobles and proclaims, “I was ashamed of her, ashamed of the human race.” Twain’s own shame at the human race’s partiality to superstition and pseudoscience was revealed on a much larger scale by his audacious hoax that claimed a petrified man had been discovered in Virginia state - complete with wooden leg and rude gesture.

Twain’s hoax appeared in the Territorial Enterprise newspaper on October 4th, 1862. It claimed that a petrified man had been found in the mountains near Gravelly Ford with his limbs preserved perfectly - even his wooden leg: “Every limb and feature of the stony mummy was perfect, not even excepting the left leg, which has evidently been a wooden one during his lifetime.”

The account included a number of geographical inaccuracies that anyone familiar with the local area would have immediately recognised, or so Twain thought - he was shocked by the credulity of his readers as they not only accepted the story, but enthusiastically reprinted it around the world. A local politician, Judge Sewall, was even bombarded with inquires and requests for information about a body he knew nothing about.

If a careful reader pieced together the positions given for the hands and fingers of the petrified man it would have become apparent the article was a spoof. Most alarming was the position of the hands and here perhaps his readers should have started to twig something was not quite right: “the right thumb rested against the side of the nose; the left thumb partially supported the chin, the fore-finger pressed the inner corner of the left eye, drawing it partly open; the right eye was closed, and the fingers of the right hand spread apart.”

Although the description is oblique a careful reading reveals that the ‘petrified body’, just like Twain’s article, was literally thumbing its nose at posterity.

Originally posted at

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sylvia Browne

Robert Lancaster, of Stop Sylvia Browne recently attended a show of hers in Las Vegas.

Read his account of what happened when Sylvia Browne and him exchanged words during the show and she called security on him.

Cheers to The Lippard Blog

Stumble Upon Toolbar


That's what Christopher Hitchens has...guts. That or he's just crazy.

Last February he agreed to being waterboarded to determine once and for all if it is torture or not.

He described the event in an article for Vanity Fair and it was also videotaped:

"It doesn't simulate the feeling of drowning, you are being drowned slowly."

Cheers to The Atheist Blogger.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Praying for Gas

Group Asks for Divine Intervention to Ease Oil Prices

As the price of oil continues to rise, some are turning to God and prayer for an answer to their financial troubles.

The Pray at the Pump Movement, founded by Rocky Twyman, has been holding prayer vigils at gas stations across the country. On Monday, Twyman decided to take his movement from Exxon and Shell stations straight to the steps of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., hoping to encourage the oil-rich country to raise the amount of barrels they release each day from 200,000 to 1.2 million.

Can't God hear his prayers from anywhere? Why are they more effective in front of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia?

"Our people are really suffering through this crisis," Twyman told Cybercast News Service. "We need the Saudis to release at least 1.2 [million] barrels of oil per day for about the next six months until we can get everything settled in America ... (I)f they can just do that for us, than this will help us get through this crisis."

I guess he hasn't thought of praying for Americans to use less gas.

Posted on

Stumble Upon Toolbar

I'm Coming Out

Does anyone else have that Diana Ross song stuck in their heads now? Good, me too.

I was recently watching a talk Richard Dawkins did for Ted called Militant Atheism, where he basically says that more atheists need to come out and be "militant" and stop being so "damned respectful". (I'm sorry, I can't get it to embed.)

It basically inspired me to stop being such a sissy about admiting my atheism.

It's real easy for me to sit here in Germany where atheism is widely accepted with my atheist boyfriend and talk about my atheism.

But when it comes to my family back home, I was terribly afraid of them finding out. Well, mainly of my grandparents finding out.

I had reached the conclusion that to tell my grandmother I was an atheist would be cruel and unnecessary. It would only serve to hurt her feelings. And it's not even that I have to feign belief around her, I don't. We don't even discuss it.

So this fear of my grandmother somehow finding out I was an atheist led me to hide my religious status on facebook and to start this anonymous blog.

It is unbelievable to me, but so far the topic of my religious beliefs has not come up at all with my family. I think that my parents have their suspicions, but tend to think that ignorance is bliss. So I have decided that if my parents do ask me, I will tell them the truth. I can't, however, promise the same for my grandparents. But I will just keep hoping that they never ask.

So, it sounds like an insignificantly tiny step, but I described my religious affiliation as "atheist" on my facebook profile yesterday. Go me!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July. In honor of our nation's celebration of independence, here is an excerpt from an article discussing the Declaration of Independence.

When was the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? You can read it in a matter of minutes. Omit the long list of grievances against King George III that appear in the middle of the document, and you can read it probably in less than five minutes.

By any measure, the Declaration of Independence is one of the most influential documents in American history.

It is not a legal document. It contains no authority as does the Constitution of the United States.

Yet, misguided interpreters often appeal to it to make their case that America is a Christian nation. Rather than making that case, the document intentionally undercuts that argument.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Rant Alert

I couldn't resist posting my thoughts on this article...

Atheists are those who deny the existence of a divine, supreme being (which is usually called “God”).

As usual, assuming their god is the only one worth mentioning.

...atheism and Christianity both believe in the existence or non-existence of God. Neither one “proves” it. (I must clarify that when I use the term “prove”, I mean it strictly in the empirical, deductive, or inductive senses. I realize that this narrow definition leaves the door open to potential misunderstanding, but I simply don’t have the space to clarify further.)

What other kind of proof is there? Oh, I know, he's probably talking about feelings

The first type says that there’s enough evidence to disprove the existence of God (empirical argument). The second type of argument says that the idea of God itself is illogical (inductive or deductive argument).
So is there enough evidence to disprove the existence of God?

Um, problem...It is not our duty to disprove God. The burden is on you. Atheists do not have to gather evidence to disprove your God, but we do demand that you provide evidence for a thing's existence before we are compelled to believe it! And while we're at it, have you gathered enough evidence to disprove all of the other gods before you reject them?

Well, the problem with this approach is that evidence is something that applies to the physical world. But how are you going to measure and record God?...
God, in His totality, is inaccessible to our senses. You can’t put Him on a scale or hold a ruler up to Him, and our idea of evidence doesn’t quite apply to him. This means that you cannot finally prove or disprove the existence of God based upon evidence.

How convenient.

atheists often point out that in the Bible, the Christian God is said to change His mind. If God is all-knowing, how could it be said that he changes his mind?...
. We, being finite beings, limited in both knowledge and power, apply our logic to our own finite, limited world. But can we apply the logic of the finite to the infinite? Can we apply human logic to the mind of God? ...
just because 2+2=4 in our mind, it doesn’t have to be that way in God’s. So just because God seems inconsistent to us might only be the result of applying our finite logic to the infinite God.

Then why are believers constantly applying their finite logic to presume to understand the mind of god? (e.g. God sent the hurricane to punish homosexuals)

Not everything that is true is “provable.” For example, we had no evidence of Neptune and Pluto until the telescope was invented.

Is he implying that with the advances of science we will someday be able to see god?

And when you watch the news or read the paper, you generally trust that the information that they are conveying to you without needing to research all of it yourself.

Some of us trust the information that we hear on the news, and some of us think Fox is fair and balanced.

What would your life be like if you had to definitively prove everything to yourself? You would have to prove that your shower would work in the morning and that your toast was truly made from the ingredients listed on the label. How would you know if the law of gravity hadn’t been repealed or that the lettuce in your salad wasn’t tainted or that someone hadn’t bombed your car? The point is, you couldn’t. Technically, most everything that you do on a day-to-day basis isn’t “proved.” it’s believed.

Problem is, all of these things can be tested. The existence of god cannot. Is he suggesting that I should give belief in god as much thought as I give to whether the sun will come up tomorrow?

So is it so unreasonable to believe that something is true even though it hasn’t been thoroughly tested by a double-blind clinical trial?

Yes. It is unreasonable to believe in leprechauns, fairies, unicorns, Zeus, reincarnation, and the flying spaghetti monster. Why is your god any different?

But I would argue that it’s completely reasonable to believe things that can’t be proven by a whole mountain of evidence.

"A whole mountain of evidence"? You don't even have an ant hill of evidence.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Simply Amazing

Sorry, for some reason I couldn't embed this video.

It is Susan Savage-Rumbaugh talking about Bonobos. Really cool.

If you haven't visited the Ted website yet, you should. Lots of cool videos, you can waste tons of time there...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Anti-Americanism and Taleban

This is a really interesting article from the Tehran Times, an Iranian newspaper, which discusses Anti-Americanism, the war, and the dark ages that Taleban rule would result in. Here are some excerpts:

There is, of course, reason for people in Pakistan and across the world to feel negatively about America. In pursuit of its self-interest, wealth and security, the United States has for decades waged illegal wars, bribed, bullied and overthrown governments, supported tyrants, undermined movements for progressive change, and now feels free to kidnap, torture, imprison, and kill anywhere in the world with impunity. All this, while talking about supporting democracy and human rights.

Even Americans — or at least the fair-minded ones among them — admit that there is a genuine problem.

American hypocrisy has played into the hands of militants.

A Taleban victory would transport us into the darkest of dark ages. These fanatics dream of transforming the country into a religious state where they will be the law. They stone women to death, cut off limbs, kill doctors for administering polio shots, force girl-children into burqa, threaten beard-shaving barbers with death, blow up girls schools at a current average of two per week, forbid music, punish musicians, destroy 2000-year statues. Even flying kites is a life-threatening sin.

Intellectual freedom led to science, architecture, medicine, arts and crafts, and literature that were the hallmark of Islamic civilization in its golden age. They grew because of an open-minded, tolerant, cosmopolitan, and multi-cultural character.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Jordan charges Dutch MP over anti-Islam film

AMMAN, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Amman Prosecutor General Hassan Abdallat on Tuesday subpoenaed Dutch MP Geert Wilders to stand trial for posting the so-called anti-Islam film "Fitna" on the Internet in March, local daily Jordan Times reported on Wednesday.

According to the indictment, Wilders is charged with five counts including blasphemy and contempt of Muslims.

"As the defendant is not present in Jordan and has no address in the country, I hereby decide to subpoena the defendant, who shall be notified by the Dutch embassy in Amman through the minister of justice," Abdallat stated.

This judicial note obligates Wilders either to appear in person before the Jordanian judiciary or appoint an attorney to represent him at hearing sessions, he explained.

If found guilty, Wilders would be sentenced up to three years in jail, according to Osama Bitar, lawyer for a campaign which filed the suit.

Earlier last month, Abdallat subpoenaed several Danish journalists and editors involved in republication of the offensive cartoons.

Did I read that right? Wilders could face jail time for blasphemy in a country he doesn't even live in?

What century are we living in? And his country is going to allow him to be prosecuted for criticizing a violent religion?

This is outrageous.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

How loud can free speech be?

Judge denies Christian group's request to display cross

A local Christian group has a right to free speech but they “don’t have to shout,” a federal judge in Norfolk said Tuesday when he denied the group’s request to display a 12-foot-tall cross at a Fourth of July celebration in a Chesapeake city park.

In April, Ministries’ founder Steve Taylor filed a federal civil rights suit against Chesapeake and asked for an injunction to force the city to allow the cross at this year’s celebration.

Taylor did not apply for a booth at this year’s celebration, saying new regulations banning objects taller than 8 feet convinced him the effort was futile.

Two city employees testified that they recommended height limitations to event organizers because of safety concerns. They were concerned that tall objects, like the cross, could fall and hurt someone.

Following several hours of testimony, U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar said Chesapeake’s new height restriction is justified, and he denied the injunction request.

Taylor said the religious group cannot communicate its message effectively without the cross.

“This is not suppression of speech — it’s clearly a case of how loud that speech can be,” Doumar said. “I don’t see anything wrong with the 8-foot regulation.”

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Religion and the Secular Conscience

Here is an interesting Newsweek article, and some bits I thought were interesting:

We often hear that some new scientific discovery has confirmed ancient religious teaching. It now appears that this hearkening back has gone full circle, and modern religion is coming around to ancient secular wisdom.

At the recent "Seeds of Compassion" event in Seattle, the Dalai Lama spoke of three paths to compassion and moral development in children: the theistic path of the Abrahamic faiths, the non-theistic religious path of Buddhism, and the "secular, scientific" approach. Surrounded by brain researchers and empirical psychologists, he recommended this secular way as the most promising. For some time he has held that if any tenet of Buddhism contradicts contemporary science, science must trump.

Religious belief has become optional. No longer is it the inevitable, default state. This is the major theme of "A Secular Age," the latest work by Charles Taylor, a renowned philosopher and believing Christian.

The realities of free societies in a globalized world make any given creed but one among many in a marketplace of belief. Unable to compel adherence to the One True Way, the many ways are compelled to compete for adherents. As the sociologist of religion Alan Wolfe observed recently, such encounters with modernity can have a profoundly moderating effect: "As religious leaders recognize that they are more likely to swell their ranks through persuasion than through coercion, they find themselves accepting such secular ideas as free will and individual autonomy."

What believers are rediscovering is the central moral priority of individuals' own uncoerced choices about what we have most reason to think and do. The future of religion, then, will depend on the oldest of secular traditions: the freedom of conscience.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Atheists in Foxholes

There are no atheists in foxholes," the old saw goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors. But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers—atheist soldiers—disagrees. "It's a denial of our contributions," says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq this fall. "A lot of people manage to serve without having to call on a higher power."

In the past several years, atheists have organized letter-writing campaigns against Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer (who issued a public apology) and other news anchors for repeating the "no atheists in foxholes" line on TV. And on Veterans Day 2005, several dozen atheist veterans paraded down the National Mall bearing American flags and signs reading ATHEIST VETERAN—WE SHARED YOUR FOXHOLES! Johnson says atheists in the military face prejudice. "Before I got to be the rank I am I had to keep my head down and my mouth shut. I had commanding officers who made it clear that they wouldn't tolerate atheism in their ranks."

Read the entire article.

This concerns me a little since my brother is in the service. Anytime a believer tells you that atheists are not discriminated against, you tell them about all of the atheists soldiers.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Obama's Faith Based Initiatives

I have to say I am very torn regarding the news about Obama supporting Bush's faith based initiatives...

Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday that if elected president he would expand the delivery of social services through churches and other religious organizations; the announcement was a vow to achieve a goal he said President Bush had fallen short on during his two terms.

When I first heard this I was quite upset, but this made it a little better...

"If you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can't discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion," Obama said. "Federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs."

Of course I will still vote for him, because he is way better than the alternative. But I am still pretty upset about all of the blatant pandering to the religious. But maybe it's what he needs to help him win...

Stumble Upon Toolbar