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Monthly ArchiveNovember 2009



Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 30 Nov 2009

It’s true – Atheists are far less likely to divorce than Christians

How can this be true – Atheists are far less likely to divorce than Christians:

Atheism & Divorce: Divorce Rates for Atheists are Among the Lowest in America

The Barna Research Group, an evangelical Christian organization that does surveys and research to better understand what Christians believe and how they behave, studied divorce rates in America in 1999 and found surprising evidence that divorce is far lower among atheists than among conservative Christians — exactly the opposite of what they were probably expecting.

The highest divorce rates are in the Bible Belt: “Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma round out the Top Five in frequency of divorce…the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average” of 4.2/1000 people.

How can atheists beat Christans when Christians have all their supposed “family values” and their supposed “obedience to God” and their supposed “answered prayers” and their supposed “God” – all of which should be keeping their marriages far stronger and far more intact than the marriages of unwashed heathens?

Could it be that their “family values” and “obedience to God” and “answered prayers” and their “God” are all imaginary?

Also noted:

The difference in divorce rates is particularly interesting given the fact that the Christians getting divorced in the highest numbers are among the same Christians who are most likely to raise an alarm about the state of marriage in society. They also tend to be the same Christians who want to deny gays the right to marry on the assumption that gay marriage is a “threat” to the institution of marriage. If marriage is in any danger in America, perhaps the threat comes from the unstable marriages of conservative Christians, not the relationships of gays or the marriages of godless atheists.

Christianity &Islam &Science Thomas on 27 Nov 2009

Prayer does not even offer a placebo effect, but now government is asked to fund prayer

Prayer does not even offer a placebo effect:

No Prayer Prescription

The three-year Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP), published in the April 4 American Heart Journal, was the largest-ever attempt to apply scientific methods to measure the influence of prayer on the well-being of another. It examined 1,800 patients undergoing heart-bypass surgery. On the eve of the operations, church groups began two weeks of praying for one set of patients. Each recipient had a praying contingent of about 70, none of whom knew the patient personally. The study found no differences in survival or complication rates compared with those who did not receive prayers. The only statistically significant blip appeared in a subgroup of patients who were prayed for and knew it. They experienced a higher rate of postsurgical heart arrhythmias (59 versus 52 percent of unaware subjects).

So we know, without a doubt, that prayer has no effect and may make things worse. That, however, does not deter the insane people who are members of the cult of Christian Scientists:

Christian Scientists seek reimbursement for prayers

Prue Lewis listens as they explain their symptoms. Then Lewis — a thin, frail-looking woman from Columbia Heights — simply says, “I’ll go to work right away.” She hangs up, organizes her thoughts and begins treating her clients’ ailments the best way she knows how: She prays.

This is health care in the world of Christian Science, where the sick eschew conventional medicine and turn to God for healing. Christian Scientists call it “spiritual health care,” and it is a practice they are battling to insert into the health-care legislation being hammered out in Congress.

Leaders of the Church of Christ, Scientist, are pushing a proposal that would help patients pay someone like Lewis for prayer by having insurers reimburse the $20 to $40 cost.

The provision was stripped from the bill the House passed this month, and church leaders are trying to get it inserted into the Senate version. And the church has powerful allies there, including Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who represents the state where the church is based, and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who said the provision would “ensure that health-care reform law does not discriminate against any religion.”

You have to pay someone for their prayers? Insanity.

Politics Thomas on 27 Nov 2009

The insanity of religion – Scientology edition

From the video description:

This is a promotional video used to amp people up on “clearing” the planet. Imagine a world run by Scientology. They admit how they fund frontgroups with money from the IAS.

The other side – a BBC report called “Scientology and me” that labels the cult “corrupt, sinister and denagerous”:

Time magazine has been covering Scientology’s insanity for decades:

Scientology : The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power

The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to “clear” people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner. At times during the past decade, prosecutions against Scientology seemed to be curbing its menace. Eleven top Scientologists, including Hubbard’s wife, were sent to prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing and wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations. In recent years hundreds of longtime Scientology adherents — many charging that they were mentally or physically abused — have quit the church and criticized it at their own risk. Some have sued the church and won; others have settled for amounts in excess of $500,000. In various cases judges have labeled the church “schizophrenic and paranoid” and “corrupt, sinister and dangerous.”

Yet the outrage and litigation have failed to squelch Scientology. The group, which boasts 700 centers in 65 countries, threatens to become more insidious and pervasive than ever. Scientology is trying to go mainstream, a strategy that has sparked a renewed law-enforcement campaign against the church. Many of the group’s followers have been accused of committing financial scams, while the church is busy attracting the unwary through a wide array of front groups in such businesses as publishing, consulting, health care and even remedial education.

Christianity &Islam &Rationals Thomas on 26 Nov 2009

Dawkins’ case for militant atheism

Darwin and the case for ‘militant atheism’

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
1) Darwin’s “Origin of Species” was published 150 years ago on November 24

2) In a TED Talk, Richard Dawkins said evolution and religion are at odds

3) He urges atheists to be forceful in making their case for science

4) Dawkins: “Religion teaches us to be satisfied with non-explanations”

Christianity Thomas on 25 Nov 2009

Dead center on the front page of a major metro newspaper

This article was on the front page of yesterday’s newspaper:

At Bragg, fans say Palin reflects their strength

The front page of the paper edition was laid out so that this paragraph was dead center in the middle of the page:

“I think our nation needs a godly woman to lead us. We need somebody with wisdom from God, and Sarah Palin is a woman with wisdom,” said Linda Forsberg, who was born in Guatemala but has lived in the United States for years and says she loves this country.

If Palin has “wisdom from God”, then God is an idiot.

Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 25 Nov 2009

Should you put money in the Salvation Army red kettles? No.

Every Christmas you see the red kettles of the Salvation Army on street corners and in front of stores. Should you put money in these kettles? Let’ s look at the position statements published on the Salvation Army web site:

The Salvation Army: position statements

On homosexualtiy:

Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

On marriage:

The Salvation Army affirms the New Testament standard of marriage, which is the loving union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

So the Salvation Army is openly persecuting homosexuals. But how does the Salvation Army feel if Christians are persecuted? That is TOTALLY different:

Religious persecution, whether of Christians or persons of other faiths, is an injustice against humanity. The Salvation Army is adamantly opposed to the religious persecution of any individual, community, organization or institution.

What a bunch of hypocrites.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 25 Nov 2009

Gross: Devotees flock to Nepal animal sacrifice festival

Devotees flock to Nepal animal sacrifice festival

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees have converged on a town in Nepal for a festival which is considered the world’s largest animal sacrifice.

The Gadhimai festival, which happens once every five years, is taking place in Bariyapur in southern Nepal.

Over the next two days more than a quarter of a million animals are expected to be slaughtered for Gadhimai – a goddess of power.

Thanks religion!

Christianity &Islam &Rationals Thomas on 24 Nov 2009

A theist asks: “If there is no God in any sense, what possible reason could you have for not killing yourself.”

Theist logic: “If there is no God in any sense, what possible reason could you have for not killing yourself. A simple question, to which i am absolutely confident you cannot present me an answer.”

The question is asked in this thread:

you present a very bad argument

The theist expands: “It feels as if, becoming an athiest, you succomb to a life a no purpose. If i, and all other are only to eventually fade into non-existence, why should i care about them, or further still, why should i care about me. From your perspective, i believe, its a choice between false security, and the bitter truth. Somewhat like the matrix, blue pill or red pill? (i forget which is which). I guess atheists took the pill the winds up in the real word. But, compared to the luxuries of the matrix, it kind of sucks dosent it? You tell me.”

The answers are interesting. Here are several harvested from the thread:

1)

This attitude pisses me off like nought else. So you’re telling me that unless there is a supreme being of infinite power and intelligence, possibly one whose arse I must kiss for the whole of my (possibly eternal) existence, my life is meaningless and I should kill myself?

I only have one life. I value it more than anything else. It’s brief, but it’s precious and can be very wonderful. I have family, I have friends; many of whom would be very hurt if I were to disappear, especially by my own hand. I want to enjoy the things I love–art, music, games. I even enjoy those grey and rainy Sundays because even those will be gone forever one day. There are so many reasons not to kill yourself.

2)

If you are an atheist, then you understand completely that this is the ONLY life we get. You understand that after you die, there is most likely nothingness. Existence ends right then and there. So the atheist has to come to terms with that and understand that something, is always better than nothing. An atheist lives their life knowing that this is all we KNOW we get. So we value it much more than any Christian ever could.

If you believe in God, however, then you believe you have another life after this one. And you know that the other life is going to be infinite and full of greatness with no pain, no death, no suffering. You have something to look forward to that is way better than this life, and all it takes is the stopping of your heart. So I ask you, WTF are you waiting for? Go out and kill yourself so you can get to that next life. This one is so full of terrible, awful, baby eating atheists, what keeps you here? What is your “purpose” for being here that supercedes God’s ultimate purpose for you in the kingdom of heaven? Giving glory to God? So your purpose is to be a cheerleader for a fictitious supreme being? Nuts. Just nuts.

In life, the things atheists live for are real. Family, friends, love, entertainment, learning, and so much more. Do you find those to be bad reasons to choose life over death? Do you place no value on those things? Do you find those things not worth living for? The difference is that we choose to live our life without the belief in something for which there is no evidence. It seems to me, you are saying the only thing in this world that is actually worth living for is your God. Well, I hate to break this to you, but that’s really, really sad.

So tell me again, why you think you have more to live for? My wife and kids should be home any minute from the gym. What better thing to live for than seeing them every day?

3)

Unlike people who don’t believe in an afterlife, we know that this is the only opportunity we get. That makes it valuable beyond measure. Whereas you christians believe this this is merely a blinking of the eyes, and that the world is going to end soon anyway making life cheap beyond measure.

4)

I’m sure my fiance would miss me. I don’t want to him to be sad. The reason is because I have feelings for those around me who I love.

5)

You make your own purpose, just because one day I will die and be forgotten does not mean I wish to slit my throat and die. Christians believe they will live forever in a magical kingdom where their every want is granted.

It is the religious who should be looking for death, because it is they who think this world is meaningless, a test.

6)

I came from nothing, I’m going back to nothing, why would I throw away the precious time I have on this planet?

7)

Here is the flaw in that:

1) Your argument essentially says that unless one can “live” for eternity there is no point in living.

2) But what IS living in eternity? Well, it says nothing about TODAY. Living for eternity means exactly that you KNOW you will be alive tomorrow. The only thing that is different between someone who can die at any time and someone who will live for eternity is that the second person KNOWS he will be alive tomorrow. It’s the only difference.

3) Thus, what you are saying is that you can’t have meaning as you exist TODAY, unless you know you’ll be alive TOMORROW. But if the only MEANING in being alive today is the KNOWLEDGE that you will be alive tomorrow–then…what you really….”want” is somehow always something that you will “have” TOMORROW and never TODAY.

The idea that Monday can only be meaningful if you know you will be alive Tuesday is inherently absurd. Indeed, for most thoughtful people, knowing they would be dead tomorrow would make today quite a meaningful one indeed!

8 )

Unless you believe you will be presented with 72 willing perpetual virgins in heaven, why bother having sex or love now?

Unless you know you will never get divorced, why bother getting married?

Unless you know that your child will live a long and healthy life, why bother having a child?

9)

Think of a prisoner in prison for life. He thinks of escape. If he could somehow KNOW that all his attempts to escape would fail it WOULD be pointless to keep trying them, of course. But would it be pointless to try to make friends with others? To try to be kind to others who were suffering, who he might be able help? To help a friend who he knew was innocent get a better lawyer? To work in the kitchen and think of better recipes, etc., so the food was more enjoyable? To read books with amazing stories or great insights?

But the more direct answer to your question is simply the experience of atheists[1]. Do you REALLY believe that being in love, seeing their children born and grow and be happy, accomplishing a difficult or meaningful task, seeing the beauty of nature, or the advancement of human knowledge and works; that these things bring no meaning or satisfaction to atheists?

You’re just completely wrong, and that doesn’t require argument, debate, or logic. It’s discoverable directly from observation.

10)

I visited Rapture Ready yesterday to read the buzz about the new EU President. One thread consisted mostly of Christians wishing this life to end so they could go live with Jesus in heaven. They stated repeatedly that they couldn’t wait until Jesus came back to reclaim his children because they were tired of this world. They also talked about how they had the same rapture conversation last year before the holidays and couldn’t understand why he hadn’t come back yet.

I think this mentality is very sad indeed. They are wasting their life waiting for an event that will never happen. They will grow old wishing their live away waiting for the godman to take them to paradise.

11)

I don’t kill myself because I know that other people’s feelings would be hurt.

I don’t kill myself because it would achieve nothing positive for anyone, besides one or two theists, but why give them the pleasure?

I don’t kill myself because I don’t know enough yet: I still have questions and I don’t want to leave until I’ve got some good answers. Scientific ones, of course.

I don’t kill myself because I have no reason to.

I don’t kill myself because it’d probably hurt.

That enough for you?

12) From Chapter 27: When you die, you die

Understanding death

From the story in the previous section you can see that the idea of death is disturbing to children. Many adults never outgrow it, so death can also be disturbing to adults — even to adults with Ph.D.s. These adults, of course, are acting like children.

You are not a child. Imagining a place called “heaven” does not change the central fact about the chemical reactions that drive your cells. You simply need to grow up and face death like an adult, in the same way that you face other childhood traumas.

It is quite beneficial to see your mortality for what it is. A week or two from now, when you are thinking like an adult about death, the truth about death will begin to change your self-image and the way that you imagine the future. Religion and its concept of an afterlife skew your thinking by making you believe that you will live forever. You will not. You’ve got 70 or 80 years if you are lucky, and then you are gone forever.

At the simplest level, an understanding of your permanent mortality should help you to realize more clearly how precious your life is. If you live to be 82 years old, what you have is approximately 30,000 days of existence. You are not going to then commute to “heaven” to live for eternity. 30,000 days is all that you’ve got.

Here are some of the things in your thinking that will change once you understand and accept this simple fact:

* Your time on earth becomes much more precious to you.

* You begin to realize that everyone else’s life is just as precious, and you start looking at them differently.

* You think more about what you are leaving behind when you die.

* You think more about the human species as a continuum, with yourself as a part of that continuum, and you start thinking about the future of our species and the planet.

Like it or not, your total experience is here on earth. That realization should make you see a day wasted in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a week wasted preparing your taxes for the IRS, a little differently. All that you have is 30,000 days. Everyone who wastes your time — every bureaucracy, every long line at the store — should give you pause.

When you die, what is your legacy? What do you leave behind?

* Whatever material objects you own, to be given to whomever you like in your will.

* Whatever contributions you have made to society as a whole. If you have done research into the cure for cancer, you leave that. If you have written books or made movies, you leave them. If you funded a building at your university, you leave that.

* Images of you in photographs and video, as well as any letters, writings or recordings.

* Your children and their memories of you.

* The memories you leave with your friends and family.

That’s it. Now that you understand that your death is final, you may look at those things in a different light.

Christianity &Islam &Rationals Thomas on 24 Nov 2009

Atheist Student Groups Flower on College Campuses

Atheist Student Groups Flower on College Campuses

As the stigma of atheism has diminished, campus atheists and agnostics are coming out of the closet, fueling a sharp rise in the number of clubs like the 10-year-old group at Iowa State.

Campus affiliates of the Secular Student Alliance, a sort of Godless Campus Crusade for Christ, have multiplied from 80 in 2007 to 100 in 2008 and 174 this fall, providing the atheist movement new training grounds for future leaders. In another sign of growing acceptance, at least three universities, including Harvard, now have humanist chaplains meeting the needs of the not-so-spiritual.

Christianity &Islam &Judaism Thomas on 23 Nov 2009

Why does God allow suffering?

According to Christians we have an all-loving God who sits in heaven and answers the prayers of believers. Yet this God allows massive worldwide suffering in the form of natural disasters, crime, torture, genocide, war, starvation, disease, birth defects, etc. Why? Here is the religious response to this conundrum:

Why does God allow suffering?

Frames the issue: Problem of evil

Rationals Thomas on 23 Nov 2009

From Reddit: where do agnostics go to congregate with like-minded folk to talk about things like family, humanity and how to lead a better life?

FYI:

Where do agnostics go to congregate with like-minded folk to talk about things like family, humanity and how to lead a better life?

Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 20 Nov 2009

A 16-year-old Christian is hesitantly becoming an atheist – asks questions about atheism

A great thread in the forum from a 16 year old Christian with questions:

Ab Initio

The responses to his questions so far are enlightening. The questions are:

1) Due to the assortement of various religions on Earth, is it possible that even one of them may be the “true” religion?

2) In some books, Christian authors point out to the delicate and firm balance of ‘life/molecules, et cetera’ needed on Earth to sustain life which should require intelligent design and a designer but not random chance. Is this true? From what I know, Christians pointed to the structure of the eye in the past as proof of intelligent design, but it was later proven that the eye is anything but “perfect”, but the amount of specific matter needed to support life isn’t something I looked into.

3) If we rule out omniscience in the factor of God, would that make the image of God better?

4) For Christians/Theists, I received many answers from a lot of Christian friends and community members regarding some aspects of the Old Testament. They say that some parts of the OT is not actually literal (Garden of Eden, Flood) and that certain laws regarding the rights of women only applied to Israelites long ago and not now. Your opinion?

5) Without religion, would the world be a better place? A scenario would be a nihilistic society, without religious morals, would there be an increase of crime or the opposite?

Lastly (For Now),

6) Although historical factors are involved (i.e Constantine, Western Civilization, international missions), what is the point of Christianity and the worship of Jesus if the Savior was “only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)?

I appreciate that this forum,the website, and the people are available. I also realize that some of these questions might be considered mundane by some here, but I will be looking forward to your replies and opinions.

Christianity Thomas on 19 Nov 2009

It’s about time – Churches could lose tax-exemption

Gay Marriage Supporters Threaten to Strip Churches of Tax Exemption

More than 75,000 Americans have joined an online movement seeking the revocation of tax-exempt status from churches that were involved in the repeal of Maine’s gay marriage law.

This quote makes your skin crawl:

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, however, reject the claim that churches violated IRS policy.

“Pastors and churches have a right to speak about biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “They can encourage their congregations to take a stand for marriage and can directly support legislative issues like Question 1 without running afoul of IRS rules.”

The right to speak about biblical truths? Truths like slavery and sexism? Go ahead and speak about them while you pay taxes like everyone else.

Christianity &Rationals Thomas on 19 Nov 2009

A message to atheists from an evangelical

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

This radical Christian’s ministry for the poor, The Simple Way, has gotten him in some trouble with his fellow Evangelicals. We asked him to address those who don’t believe.

Christianity &Islam Thomas on 19 Nov 2009

Build strong families by going to church

This video is discussed in the forums. It’s an episode of the Today show. The title is “Six crucial tips to help you be a better parent”.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The recommendations:
1) Family dinner 5 nights a week
2) Taking your children to church weekly
3) Check child’s homework nightly
4) Demanding the truth from your children and getting it
5) Take your kids on vacation and leave your blackberry at home.
6) Encourage your kid to participate in a team sport

Why go to church? “It’s the idea that there’s something out there that’s bigger than you. If you do this you’ll have respect for yourself, and respect for others.”

It would be better to teach them the truth – God is imaginary – and go visit a science museum.

The discussion in the forum is here: Six Crucial Steps In Making You A Better Parent

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