Another Religiously-Motivated Bombing

July 11, 2006

I’ll pop out of retirement for a moment to make sure that more people see this story.

Who’s the conflict between? Hindus and Muslims. Tell me, without religion, would these train bombings have occurred?


New study finds atheists most distrusted American minority

March 25, 2006

I think it’s time, or nearly so, for me to truly ‘come out’ as an atheist. Certainly my friends and associates know this about me, but not all of my family does, and while it’s not something I’m ashamed of, it is certainly something I’m currently cautious about disclosing.

This study is a good indication of why I am cautious.

However, I feel a responsibility toward emerging atheists and existing atheists alike to declare myself publicly atheist, to show that atheists are not, in fact, all evil, self-centered, untrustworthy and unethical frauds. 

I shall continue to ponder this, though I think my decision will likely be in favor of this public declaration.

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study : News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.

ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:20 CST – I just came across this quote from an interview with Dennett:

Well, by leading a meaningful life. As I look around the world, I see all sorts of heroes in every walk of life. But there is a prejudice against this because a lot of [atheists] are reluctant to point it [their lack of belief] out. Nobody wants to spend their life going around being the ‘village atheist.’ They’re much more interested in just leading a good and normal life.

So a lot of people, I find, are surprised to see me so candidly and cheerfully acknowledging my atheism. Not because they’re not atheists, but because they don’t go around mentioning it. I think that’s unfortunate.

The emphasis is mine. The article is here.

ADDITIONAL ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:24 – another perspective on religion and ethics:

Everyday science: Science, religion and the atomic bomb

“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb… fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link.”

So they go on to claim that religion should oversee science.

But a bomb does no harm unless it is dropped on someone. So who made the decision to bomb the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not the scientists. Most of the scientists who knew about the bomb signed letters to President Truman asking that the bomb never be used, especially against civilians. But they had no say in the final decision.

<>Then who did decide to bomb cities full of women and children? Christians all:
President Harry S. Truman was a Baptist.
Secretary of state James F Byrnes was an Anglican/Episcopalian.
Secretary of War Henry Stimson was a Presbyterian.<>

So where was religion’s famous morality when these decisions were made? And where they now while our self-proclaimed Christian President George W. Bush wages a war in Iraq based on lies which kills civilians by the thousand?

Ohio schools have ecome officially atheistic, godless, and toxic…

March 17, 2006

I don’t really have words for this. The Atheist Mama had a few though.

The Columbus Dispatch – Editorials

In December, I submitted a resolution to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, urging pastors and parents to investigate the indoctrination of our young people into the homosexual agenda and to encourage concerned Christian parents to remove their children from public schools.

At the heels of the recent 11-4 decision by the State Board of Education to censor any criticism of Darwinian evolution, it has become clear that our young people are being indoctrinated into not only a pro-homosexual, but a humanistic religion, as well. Ohio schools have become officially atheistic, godless and toxic, morally, intellectually and spiritually, to our precious children.

ID/Creationism people cite criticism of Kitzmiller Case

March 17, 2006

They lost that case, and lost it big. They should be hanging their heads in shame because their utter sham was revealed.

Intead, they cheer at every option when someone critcizes the decision.

Evolution News & Views: Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Demolishes Part of Kitzmiller Decision

The critical response to Judge Jones’s decision in the Kitzmiller case continues to build. Renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga has recently written a short article analyzing part of Judge Jones’s reasoning. Having Plantinga’s analytic expertise and philosophic understanding come down against the Kitzmiller decision does not bode well for the intellectual vitality Judge Jones may have hoped his opinion would achieve. For those who may not know, Alvin Plantinga is a highly respected philosopher who has written extensively on such topics as epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. As one of the worlds leading thinkers about the ‘science of knowledge,’ epistemology, Plantinga has published a seminal trilogy centering on warrant. He is highly respected in the philosophy community and has served as the president of the American Philosophical Association. All this makes Plantinga’s analysis of the reasoning employed in Kitzmiller highly relevant.

Hell’s Handmaiden shares my opinion, and has already dealt with the praised article here.

Senator Bill Napoli (R) Googlebombed

March 14, 2006

The Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels have initiated a googlebombing of Bill Napoli, whom I quoted yesterday evening.

They chose to highlight the same bit I did yesterday, as to who might be allowed an abortion, copied here:

A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Now if you look up Bill Napoli on Google, you get this as the first entry:

napoli (not to be confused with the proper noun, which indicates the Italian city)
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): napolied
Pronunciation: nA’poli

1. To brutalize and rape, sodomize as bad as you can possibly make it, a young, religious virgin woman who was saving herself for marriage.
2. To hella rape somebody.

Etymology: From State Senator Bill Napoli’s (R-SD) description of an acceptable rape that would merit an exemption from South Dakota’s abortion ban.

Example of usage: “Did you hear? Laura’s dad totally napolied her, but according to Utah law, she still has to obtain his permission before getting an abortion.”

It’s good to see the Internet giving Napoli the recognition he so richly deserves.

Christian mischief at home (Weekly Roundup)

March 13, 2006

Lest you think that one religion is causing all of the problems of irrationality, I bring you the weekend roundup of issues with Christians in the West. Again, numbered for reference but no particular order:

    Harry Clarke reviews the case against Mother Teresa, where belief in a Higher Power led to neglect of care here on earth (emph mine).

    With regard to those suffering from serious diseases the Mother ‘prefers providence to planning; her rules are designed to prevent any drift towards materialism’. Her patients looked like inmates of Belsen because they all ‘had shaved heads…This is two rooms with fifty to sixty men in one , fifty to sixty women in another. There’re dying. They’re not being given a great deal of medical care. They’re not being given pain killers beyond aspirin…’. Why aren’t you sterilising the needles, ‘There’s no point. There’s no time’. Mother had money but who needs that when God is on your side and why corrupt these sufferers with materialism.

    To a patient dying of cancer and suffering incredible pain the Mother said ‘ You are suffering like Christ on the Cross. So Jesus must be kissing you’. The patient replied ‘Then please tell him to stop kissing me’. Why could he not understand?

    There’s an amusing bit about Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa at the end.

  1. Bush links the Department of Homeland Security with faith-based organizations. Great. Now we can pray for security.
  2. The Vatican wants Italian schools to allocate Islamic prayer time. They seem to rightly recognize that if one religion is allowed into schools, theirs might follow.
  3. Scientists are rallying as they realize that people will in fact believe Intelligent Design (read: creationist) BS if it’s fed to them. Educated people used to shrug it off, as if we could never slide that far back, but we are doing just that. It’s good to see that people are getting worried and doing something about it. Don’t believe it’s a real problem?

    Aside from the recent legal battles, educators point to several other signs troubling them about evolutionary education in the United States. For example, in a study published last year, Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, reported that 20 percent of the biology teachers he surveyed in Minnesota include creationism in their classes and believe that it is scientifically valid.

    More examples will follow.

  4. Lest we think that humans are somehow now exempt from evolution, a professor at the University of Chicago would beg to differ.

    Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years.

    But humans didn’t evolve. An intelligent designer made it look that way to confuse us.

  5. More info on South Dakota’s move to criminalize abortion. A state senator explains the charity of the one loophole in the law,

    “A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl, could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

    I wonder, if she weren’t a virgin, but she were raped, would she be able to use the loophole? Or what if she weren’t sodomized? But surely, abortions are done for simple convenience, because people are too lazy or hedonstic to control themselves as long as abortions are available (Napoli [quoted above] believes most abortions are performed for “convenience,”)

    “It was difficult when I found out I was pregnant. I was saddened because I knew that I’d probably have to make this decision. Like I said, I have two children, so I look into their eyes and I love them. It’s been difficult, you know, it’s not easy. And I don’t think it’s, you know, ever easy on a woman, but we need that choice.”

    How callous of her. Soon, you won’t just be prevented from aborting a pregnancy, you’ll be prevented from preventing one:

    In South Dakota, pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives should it trouble their conscience, and some groups who worked on the anti-abortion bill believe contraception also needs to be outlawed. Good plan. After that, we’ll reconsider women’s property rights, civil right and voting rights.

    I’m dumbfounded.

  6. Britain, considered by some to be a shining example of secular rationality is considering teaching about creationism in school science courses. A science teacher in Sussex voiced some of his concerns,

    “This opens a legitimate gate for the inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in science classes as if they were legitimate theories on a par with evolution fact and theory.

    “I’m happy for religious theories to be considered in religious education, but not in science where consideration could lead to a false verification of their status as being equal to scientific theories.”

    This rings of The Wedge Strategy.

  7. Tennessee is also on the way to banning abortion.

That’s enough for tonight. This is depressing me.

Seculary Synchronicity, or how to promote reason, often at the expense of religion

March 9, 2006

davblog: Secular Synchronicity

Since watching Richard Dawkins’ The Root of All Evil? I’ve noticed myself becoming less tolerant of religious beliefs. I really think that it’s time for rational thinkers to stand up and be counted. I’ve been discussing this with a few friends, but within my circle of friends that’s largely… er.. preaching to the converted. On the tube last night I was wondering what my next steps might be if I wanted to get really involved in the fight againt medievalism.

Sandmonkey, myself, and many others are doing something by blogging about reason and the pitfalls of blind faith. Is this enough? Are our words simply echoes in the small universe we call the blogosphere?

In a sense, it is helpful. As I mention in my first post on this blog, it’s important to have secular voices out here on the Internet, so that people questioning their faith have voices of reason to reassure them. I think it’s necessary, if we really want to see the Enlightenment through these many years later, to stop tolerating harmful nonsense.

I would guess that a majority of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and so on come from liberal backgrounds (I do not, though I’m much more liberal than I once was). As such, I would also guess that part of their liberal mindset includes tolerance, multiculturalism, and cultural relativism. I contend that, where religion and other ‘faith’ based beliefs are involved, tolerance should not, in a sense, be exercised. This is not to say that all tolerance is bad. Though I am an atheist, I do not hate or abuse religious people. A person’s choice to practice a religious faith is theirs to make. However, the tolerance that I will no longer exercise is to tacitly approve of their views when they come up in a harmful way, simply because they are religious. I do not assume that just because something is the norm in a culture, it is equally valid to a norm in another culture. I take as an illustrative example female circumcision, but other examples abound (can you name some?).

Since Buddhism is considered by some (not me) to be a religion, it’s mildly amusing to me that Buddhism comes to mind in this case. People sometimes accuse Buddhists of being selfish for focusing on their own minds and their own problems. They argue that time spent meditating would be better spent helping others through acts of charity. Buddhists (including me) might argue that their practice benefits those around them indirectly, but substantially, for someone with a clear mind is likely to act in accordance with the happiness of others and themselves. The investment a Buddhist makes in his or her mind is paid back to society by his or her attention to subsequent actions. This little influence, tagged on to each action, can have a large effect when integrated over time and large numbers of practitioners.

Similarly, I suggest that the largest contribution freethinkers can make toward a world of rationality is to practice rational behavior individually, and to deal with irrational nonsense in an appropriate (but hopefully not rude) way.

I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this, because it is the principle on which this blog was started, and is something that it think needs (a) brainstorming and (b) refinement.