Monthly ArchiveDecember 2009
North Carolina’s constitution is clear: politicians who deny the existence of God are barred from holding office.
Opponents of Cecil Bothwell are seizing on that law to argue he should not be seated as a City Council member today, even though federal courts have ruled religious tests for public office are unlawful under the U.S. Constitution.
“My religion is more important than your right to ride your bicycle on the street” – yet again religion shows its stupidity
Why do religious people feel like their religion trumps the rights of others? Example:
Groups of bicycle-riding vigilantes have been repainting 14 blocks of Williamsburg roadways ever since the city sandblasted their bike lanes away last week at the request of the Hasidic community.
The Hasids, who have long had a huge enclave in the now-artist-haven neighborhood, had complained that the Bedford Avenue bike paths posed both a safety and religious hazard.
Scantily clad hipster cyclists attracted to the Brooklyn neighborhood made it difficult, the Hasids said, to obey religious laws forbidding them from staring at members of the opposite sex in various states of undress.
Another example of the religious believing that religion trumps other people’s rights:
Why did the workers refuse to get vaccinated? Religion:
“I am a Christian, and my religion prohibits me from receiving vaccines,” said Tyrika Cowlay, who was a lab technician.
Any rational person would know that the need to keep infection away from patients in a hospital is of utmost importance. Yet again religion shows its stupidity.
I’ve long been interested in Paul’s work because it addresses a whole bunch of fascinating questions – why are Americans so religious when the rest of the developed world is increasingly secular? Is religious belief beneficial to societies? does religion make people behave better?
Many believers assume, without question, that it does – even that there can be no morality without religion. They cite George Washington who believed that national morality could not prevail without religions principles, or Dostoevsky’s famous claim (actually words of his fictional character Ivan Karamazov) that “without God all things are permitted”. Then there are Americans defending their country’s peculiarly high levels of popular religious belief and claiming that faith-based charity is better than universal government provision.
Atheists, naturalists and humanists fight back claiming that it’s perfectly possible to be moral without God. Evolutionary psychology reveals the common morality of our species, and the universal values of fairness, kindness, and reciprocity. But who is right? As a scientist I want evidence. What if – against all my own beliefs – it turns out that religious people really do behave better than atheists, and that religious societies are better in important respects than non-religious ones, then I would have cause to rethink some of my ideas.
This is where Gregory Paul and his research come in. I have often quoted his earlier, 2005, research which showed strong positive correlations between nations’ religious belief and levels of murder, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and other indicators of dysfunction. It seemed to show, at the very least, that being religious does not necessarily make for a better society.
Now there is new research:
The 1st world nations with the highest levels of belief in God, and the greatest religious observance are also the ones with all the signs of societal dysfunction. These correlations are truly stunning. They are not “barely significant” or marginal in any way. Many, such as those between popular religiosity and teenage abortions and STDs have correlation coefficients over 0.9 and the overall correlation with the SSS is 0.7 with the US included and 0.5 without. These are powerful relationships.
Why is America so religious? Because conditions are so terrible:
Americans, he says, suffer appalling stress and anxiety due to the lack of universal health care, the competitive economic environment, and huge income inequalities, and under these conditions belief in a supernatural creator and reliance on religious observance provides relief. By contrast, the middle class majorities of western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have secure enough lives not to seek help from a supernatural creator.
Rationals Thomas on 09 Dec 2009
“We all know the names (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens) of those angry white men who tend to antagonize the world’s believers. But the most persuasive voices for the ‘new New Atheism’ tend to be women:”
Today, most Americans associate unbelief with the old-boys network of New Atheists, but there is a new generation of unbelievers emerging, some of them women and most of them far friendlier than Hitchens and his ilk. Although the arguments of angry men gave this movement birth, it could be the stories of women that allow it to grow up.
In October, a new group calling itself the United Coalition of Reason rolled out an ambitious nationwide campaign timed to coincide with the release of a book, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, by Harvard University’s humanist chaplain Greg Epstein. The signs I saw in Boston read, “Good Without God? Millions of Americans Are.” A month ago, I attended a coming-out party at Harvard for a local offshoot of UCOR called the Boston Area Coalition of Reason. Emceed by Epstein, this event had the vibe of a revival meeting, and while faith was obviously absent, the place was riding a big wave of hope.
Christianity Thomas on 08 Dec 2009
The pamphlet is entitled “why do you believe in God?” and it opens with a very simple question: “Who told you that you are a sinner?” Have you ever thought about this question, and what it means?
As you read the pamphlet you will realize (if you are rational) that the entire premise of religion is ridiculous. You, in fact, are not a sinner. You are a human being making decisions.
A related article: Why has Christianity demonized nudity, sex and sexuality?
Many European countries have a very different, more relaxed and much healthier view of nudity.
There is a discussion in the forums in this thread.
Bill O’Reilly and two blond Fox News telebimbos are very disturbed by recent Christmas-themed humanist bus ads which ask people to “be good for goodness’ sake.”
Among their conclusions:
– Atheists hate the Baby Jesus!
– Atheists are jealous of Christians, apparently because they sit home alone and miserable on Christmas, and don’t get any presents.
– Atheists hate American traditions and want to ruin them for everyone else.
The daughter of Chester Smalkowski wanted to play basketball for the Hardesty Public Schools. She was forced from the team when she, an Atheist, refused to recite the Lord’s Prayer after a game as was required by the school. When the Smalkowski family complained about this unconstitutional practice, she was suspended. Further complaints resulted in criminal charges being brought against her father.
Chester Smalkowski refused to submit to a request from the District Attorney to move his family out of the County in exchange for the charges being dropped. His case went to trial last month, and he was acquitted of all charges by a jury. The Smalkowski children have been threatened and subjected to discrimination for the daughter’s refusal to participate in the prayer recitation.
A good discussion on Reddit if you want to understand atheism and atheists – A Christian writes…
I have been a member of reddit for almost 3 years. During this time, I became well acquainted with the atheism that so thrives in this community. I have absolutely no problem with atheism (although I am a believer) and I think that it has many rational conclusions that the whole world could benefit from. However, I feel that, because I am a believer, no atheist could ever take me seriously on any topic. I have read so many comments that assert that “religion is ignorance” and the like. I’m not trying to call anybody intolerant or anything, I just find myself feeling that I will always be thought of as 100% wrong all the time in regards to philosophical issues. I think that no religion is perfect, but that all of them have something useful. Even if I don’t agree with all or even most of a doctrine, I don’t discount the whole thing and everyone involved with it, but I sometimes feel like atheism sometimes does that to religion. It seems that there might be stereotypes about the faithful that atheists hold. As you can see, I don’t even really feel comfortable using my own username. I’m not exactly sure what I expect this to do, but I don’t think I’m the only religious person on reddit that feels this way. Thanks for reading all of my whining.
The responses are interesting.
Mom nearly kills her children waiting for God:
Over three months in 2006, as her five children grew more emaciated and listless by the day, Estelle Walker made no move to find a job, no effort to scrounge up a meal, her kids told a jury yesterday.
“We were supposed to wait for God to provide,” said Walker’s oldest daughter, now 21. “And that’s what we did.”
Christianity Thomas on 04 Dec 2009
At the launch event in the northern Portuguese town of Penafiel on Sunday, Saramago said he did not think the book would offend Catholics “because they do not read the Bible”.
“The Bible is a manual of bad morals (which) has a powerful influence on our culture and even our way of life. Without the Bible, we would be different, and probably better people,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency Lusa.
Saramago attacked “a cruel, jealous and unbearable God (who) exists only in our heads” and said he did not think his book would cause problems for the Catholic Church “because Catholics do not read the Bible.
These chapters are relevant:
– Why does God love slavery?
– Why does God love animal sacrifice?
– Why is God so sexist?
– Why does God massacre millions of children?
– Why do so many children live in poverty?
– Why does Jesus need your money?
– Count all the people God wants to murder
Deepak Chopra’s article is labeled:
His thesis: That skepticism toward God is unhealthy and dangerous:
Statistically, cynical mistrust is correlated with premature sudden death from cardio vascular disease. Since the skeptics who write venomous blogs trust in nothing, I imagine that God will outlive them. In the interests of better health, these people should read scripture, or at least a poem, twice a day. Doctor’s orders.
His dumbest statement: “No skeptic, to my knowledge, ever made a major scientific discovery or advanced the welfare of others.”
Some of the world’s greatest discoveries were made by people who were skeptical of the status quo. Take, for example, Copernicus:
The story of how a map of the world helped Copernicus to rethink the universe is rarely told. But the connection tells us something important about how great ideas are born. To understand it, we need to recall that medieval scholars didn’t consider geography and astronomy to be distinct disciplines. Instead, they considered them parts of a single field called cosmography – the study of the known world and its place in the cosmos. One of the field’s guiding principles went something like this: Looking down, we see up; looking up, we see down. By carefully studying the earth, cosmographers believed they could learn about the heavens, and by carefully studying the heavens they believed they could learn about the earth. Copernicus himself was a cosmographer, and shared this view.
We remember Copernicus as one of the first great thinkers of the modern scientific era, but he inhabited a profoundly medieval thought-world – a world in which astrology and alchemy commanded as much attention as geography and astronomy.
Copernicus had to break out of the medieval thought-world, he had to be a skeptic. He had to assume that the current thinking was wrong in order to create a new way of thinking:
Copernicus knew the theory of the off-center earth well from his student days. But he didn’t buy it. Mathematically, geometrically, logically – it just didn’t make sense to him.
Message to Deepak Chopra – Copernicus was a skeptic. Your statement “No skeptic, to my knowledge, ever made a major scientific discovery or advanced the welfare of others” is idiocy. Skepticism leads to innovation.
In the case of God, skepticism leads to rationality – God Is Imaginary.
A new study confirms what every atheist already knows – when a believer talks about “the will of God”, what they really mean is “whatever I feel like the will of God should be”:
For many religious people, the popular question “What would Jesus do?” is essentially the same as “What would I do?” That’s the message from an intriguing and controversial new study by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago. Through a combination of surveys, psychological manipulation and brain-scanning, he has found that when religious Americans try to infer the will of God, they mainly draw on their own personal beliefs.
So one person believes that the “will of God” is to kill all homosexuals. That person will find the right verses in the Bible and state that that is the “will of God”. Another person believes the opposite, so she finds verses in the Bible about love and compassion and declares that to be “the will of God”.
Over in the Forums this is called SPAG, or Self-Projection as God. Basically you take whatever you believe, and give it more weight by stating it is the will of God.
Any rational person can see that the “will of God” is a total fabrication. If there really were a God and he really had a “will”, his “will” would be communicated consistently across all believers. The fact that this does not happen is further proof that God is imaginary.
Islam Thomas on 01 Dec 2009
In Saudi Arabia it is illegal to build a Christian church. Why? The world’s most popular Islamic scholar Dr. Zakir Naik explains:
“Therefore, knowing that Islam is the only true religion, we do not allow the propagation of any other religion.”