Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Christianity Crucifying the Constitution" - how all religions fear rational thinking more than each other

FTA: "Fear and defensiveness permeates the Christian response.  Their high level of societal control was called into question.  From the perspective of the religious, what non-theists represent is far more frightening than any opposing theology.  The challenge represented by non-theists is a greater threat than any gun, bomb, sword or tank.  Religions seem to thrive and even strengthen with war, conflict and martyrdom.  They have no defense against the peaceful challenge of rational thinking."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is blocking comments, deleting comments, or deleting peoples blogs appropriate?

The following blog post was deleted by the admins of "Think Atheist".  They felt that it openly questioned the policy of the site admins, and for me as a relatively new participant, I was in no position to pose such concerns outside of direct, private communication with them.  So, I left Think Atheist.  His exact words were "Think Atheist is not a government,  even though we will allow most posting, any drama within the site WILL NOT be tolerated. "  I didn't see anything in their site guidelines about "no drama" and I'm not exactly sure what "drama" is in this context, to be honest.  If its drama you are looking to avoid, welcoming Christians and Atheists to hang out in the same place is probably not the best idea!

Here is the blog post.  My first blog post that started this is gone..didnt save it. It had to do with a specific member that was blocking comments.  You can post comments here or at Atheist Nexus if you like!

"I recently had one of my blog posts deleted by the admin. This caused me to want to ask some questions about deleting people's posts and comments, or blocking comments all together on any public discussion or post.

On these sites, it is possible to close off comments on posts we make, and we can delete comments in discussions we start. To me, this directly is opposed to freedom of speech. If I post some dumb statement like "God is real and you all are dummies" and close comments, I have eliminated the opportunity for people to debate my statement, and effectively muzzled them.

If, further, I post something, block comments, and add a link to my personal site on which comments can be posted, I am also muzzling comments because I am changing the context AFTER the statement has been made, which effectively alters the debate.

Point is, I think it should be policy in spite of the technical functionality to make it against the rules to close a discussion or delete comments unless the comments fall under specific categories such as spam, or are libellous, or totally off topic with no justifiable connection (and even then, deletion of a person's comment should be taken as a grave responsibility).

When you delete a persons comment or block them from commenting in the first place, you are hurting them and their chosen legacy. It just seems wrong to me."

I would further argue that by deleting blogs, comments, or posts, you are violating the freedom of speech of an individual and their own content.  Of course many of these sites are private etc, but people join them under the pretense that their comments will not be deleted unless they violate the site's rules.  If an OP deletes comments because they want to, or blocks comments altogether, well, are comments a right or a privilege?  What should they be in a free, civilized society?  Should anyone be able to make any statement or "report" and be able to silence dissent in the context of the statement?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Some famous atheist quotes.

The bible says "a fool says in his heart there is no god". (psalm 14:1)  I am going to assume that since the verse is in the bible, the implied definition is the Jewish god, not any definition of god.  I think thats a fair call, unless some religious folks can make a case for the existence of Xenu or would be willing to acknowledge Allah or Zeus as a reasonable god belief to qualify one as a non fool.


Fool –noun
A silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.  A weak-minded or idiotic person.

The bible is wrong.  As it is almost all the time, here is some proof in sayings by some very wise men who say, in their hearts, there is no god.

Was Thomas Jefferson, chief architect of the US constitution a fool? How about Albert Einstein?  Steven Hawking (literally the most intelligent man alive by most standards)?  I think its fair to expand the definition to include the evangelical christian god.  So, lets qualify here, the bible says anyone who does not acknowledge the Evangelical Christian God is a "fool".  That really widens the group, as there are probably less than 100,000,000 evangelical christians in the world today.  That means, the earth is, according to the bible, populated by 5.9 billion fools.  Lets see what some of the fools have to say.

"Faith is believing things you know aint true" - Mark Twain 1835 - 1910

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true; by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."  --Seneca the Younger  4 B.C.E. - 65 C.E.

"All thinking men are atheists." Ernest Hemingway 1899-1961

"Belief in God is Childish" - Albert Einstein

"The world holds two classes of men -- intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence. Abu'l-Ala-Al-Ma'arri

"If Atheism is a religion, then health is a disease!" Clark Adams

"It is not disbelief that is dangerous to our society, it is belief." George Bernard Shaw

“I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.” -  Friedrich Nietzsche

“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.” - Steven Roberts

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle."  Benjamin Franklin

"We could call order by the name of God, but it would be an impersonal God. There’s not much personal about the laws of physics." Steven Hawking

"Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires."
Sigmund Freud

"Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions."
Blaise Pascal

"The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."
Delos B. McKown

"Our ignorance is God; what we know is science."
Robert Ingersoll

"If there really is a God who created the entire universe with all of its glories, and He decides to deliver a message to humanity, He will not use, as His messenger, a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle."
Dave Barry

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
- Epicurus

"I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder."
Bill Maher

"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."
Isaac Asimov

"One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion."
Arthur C. Clarke

"If you have a faith, it is statistically overwhelmingly likely that it is the same faith as your parents and grandparents had. No doubt soaring cathedrals, stirring music, moving stories and parables, help a bit. But by far the most important variable determining your religion is the accident of birth. The convictions that you so passionately believe would have been a completely different, and largely contradictory, set of convictions, if only you had happened to be born in a different place.” - Richard Dawkins

"Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson

Evangelical christianity is an arrogant, wealthy persons religion that preys on the poor and lonely to fill its cavernous churches and practically bottomless coffers.  As its been said, in America, "In God We Trust" is right where they want it, on the MONEY.

Final Quotes:
"If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself. He must sell all he has and give it to the poor".  "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven"  "if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it in the fire."

Who, exactly, then, are the fools?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

To be fair on Pat Robertson

A day ago I posted a blog on Pat Robertson, and largely jumped on the bandwagon condemning him to whatever fate he felt his imaginary god was bestowing on the poor people of Haiti.  While I am still quite adament that his comments were totally out of line and easily almost the stupidest and most insensitive  I've heard from a public figure, its important to realize his organization donates millions of dollars in support of impoverished nations around the world, and having been in Haiti for quite some time leading up to the most recent tragedy, has stepped up their support to include "millions of dollars worth of medications" for those affected by the earthquake.

This action needs to be considered when labeling him with various epithets, and while his faith and reason may be utterly, almost pathetically misguided most of the time, his deeds and those of his organization "Operation Blessing" in terms of fighting poverty is certainly laudible.

from his site:

"Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering."

Christians teach about something called "grace" and "mercy".  They are called to show it, even though their imaginary god sends people to imaginary hell ultimately for simply not "worshipping and adoring" his imaginary self, the Christians themselves are called to a higher standard of morality than their pretend ruler, and that is one of being merciful, giving to those who suffer, and not causing the suffering or standing idly by when you can help, and that is something we can all learn from.

What Pat said and is motivated by is, in my opinion, deluded, but the end result of helping those less fortunate experience some modicum of humanity and right to life is commendable.

Its honestly very encouraging to see human beings put their religious and political ideologies aside to fight our common enemies...poverty and despair.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who's fault was the tragedy in Haiti?

Its the Earthquake's fault?

NO. Earthquakes are normal. They occur all the time and without them we would lack an atmosphere, water, and several other life giving aspects of our planet.  

Directly, the killer was poorly constructed buildings that were that way because of poverty. Haitians are poor for many reasons like large corporations using them for "cheap labor" without paying them a living wage that they would have to pay in developed countries.  

Why did the corporations do that?  

Because consumers reward and support the corporation for giving the lowest price so they can consume more. This tragedy was simply the result of us in the 1st world not buying fair trade, not curbing our spending, not being wise about where our money goes, and not using our powerful governments to put an end to poverty.

Haiti's tragedy is our fault. Their blood is on our hands. Us, in the first world. We have let them down. Effectively, it is third degree murder. We need to face that and change how we spend, how we vote, and how we live.

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Pat Robertson is proof god is imaginary, a real god would strike him down.

Many christian bloggers seem to be either disassociating themselves from Pat Robertson's remarks, or at least trying to find the "truth" in them by applying various "contexts".  Here are my thoughts.
The actual truth is, accidents happen, the are just accidents, flukes. The poor people of Haiti felt this in a particularly acute way because they are impoverished and do not have the same level of building codes and infrastructure a more developed country would have under the same circumstances. This is not god, vengeance, or anything, its just a terrible tragedy and we need to step up and help them. God, in fact, is imaginary. False hope to many for certain, but false none the less. Stuff happens. Pat Robertson is just added proof that there actually is no god, and he is behaving as a delusional person would be expected to behave, and the evangelical christian community is quietly in agreement with him because they share his delusion.
Given all the terrible things Pat Robertson has said for no purpose other than to keep himself in the news and controversial, you would think this extremely vengeful god would ultimately strike him down with some ironic disease like losing his voice or all ability to do anything but listen and observe.  But, again, since god is imaginary, that wont happen, and even if it did, it would only be yet another fluke.
The best way to support the people of Haiti for most of us is going to be ensuring that support remains consistent well beyond the media hype that is going on now.  When the country is relegated to the bottom of page 12 on CNN, that is when the real "heros" will appear, and support for them will be the most important.  I thought it was kind of sad to see Sanjay Gupta taking care of a minor cut on a 15 month old baby in Haiti as front page news on today.  Seemed a bit opportunistic to say the least, the ultimate "photo op".  I wonder what he does "off camera".
In the mean time, whoever Pat Robertson's sound guy is...please, turn off his mike.

context and inspiration for this post:

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pastoral spiritual guidance is like taking health advice from the CEO of a tobacco company.

Ever stop to think of the incredibly strong motivation that Pastors, Rabbis, Priests, Imams, etc. have when it comes to convincing their flock that God is real, and very, very necessary?

The validity of the message completely aside...consider it.

A pastor spends many, many years of their life in mentorship, training, and consideration to enter their calling under normal circumstances.  They enter churches, and over several years can build and manage a flock who literally pays their salary, making it possible for them to take care of their families.

In their communities, they often take on a certain position of respect, easily on par with Doctors, law enforcement officers, teachers.  They can be called on to be legal witnesses or be legally responsible for certain kinds of advice they offer.

They also have a kind of trust placed in them to a greater degree than many people place in their own family members.

So, at least using this example based in western culture, you can see what a pastor has to lose if they one day just decided there "was no god".

-lose their job, lose their friends, have to start over with a totally new career, disappoint everyone they know, feel the guilt of misleading so many for so long.

Often there can be other kinds of financial pressure as well. Churches are organizations that can actually house their priests or pastors, or cosign on their mortgages or help them with debt.  This means they could often lose their homes.

How much worse it is for directors of the colleges these pastors attended, or the leaders of the evangelical movements.   With Rick Warren, perhaps since he gives so much of his money away, still, the innumerable beneficiaries of his charity work would stand to lose 10s or 100s of millions of dollars in money that in many cases provides food and housing for thousands of families.

The employees of huge christian organizations all depend on their leaders to "stay the course" and be consistent, and on message.  So even if a leader doesnt care about what they stand to lose personally, their basic humanity could strongly compell them to maintain a facade of belief and "christian leadership" in order to ensure the thousands employed by their organizations can continue to have jobs and take care of their families.

One could try to argue that Richard Dawkins is similarly motivated, but could you imagine how many churches would warmly welcome a person like him into their congregations as leader and successful author if he "recanted" his atheism?  If anything, he stands to be vastly wealthier and much more popular if he "came into the flock" as a prodigal.  The same applies to almost any half credible biologist or scientist. Even then, only a tiny few trade in their scientific honesty for a career in the well funded ID movement.

So, with such strong motive, one should take sincere pause and be very wary when considering the "advice" of a Pastor, Rabbi, Imam, or Priest.  Consider where they are coming from, and the almost unbearable pressure they are under to ensure you stay "in the flock", just like you would when watching an ad that claims "smoking tastes great and makes you cool" paid for by Philip Morris.

Its important to note that almost 1 in 2 people in the western world spend at least 1-4 hours per week silent before a person giving a "sermon" who has everything to lose and nothing to gain from intellectual honesty.  Imagine if 1 in 2 men, women, and children in our society spent 1-4 hours a week getting concentrated propeganda from Phillip Morris? (I suppose they do to an extent on television...)