Monthly Archives: March 2012

Irony

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Notable Atheist: Angelina Jolie

Question: Is there a god? 

“There doesn’t need to be a God for me. There’s something in people that’s spiritual, that’s godlike. I don’t feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don’t really know if it’s better to just not believe in anything, either.” 

Note: I’m not sure if Jolie is an Atheist, as she hasn’t claimed that. The focus is more on her life’s philosophy that she doesn’t need god.

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Reason Rally: The Power of Reason and People

On March 24th, 2012, Washington, D.C. hosted the world’s largest secular event. The Reason Rally is a movement-wide event sponsored by the country’s major secular organizations. The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by a religiously-biased society.

Here are the two best quotes from the event, in my opinion.

Adam Savage, host of MythBusters:

“I have concluded through careful, empirical analysis and much thought that somebody is looking out for me. Keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me when I do less then I ought, giving me strength to shoot for more than I think I am capable of. I believe they know everything that I do and think and they still love me and I’ve concluded after careful consideration that this person keeping score is me.”

Richard Dawkins

“How is it conceivable that the laws of physics should conspire together without guidance, without direction, without any intelligence to bring us into the world? Now we do have intelligence. Intelligence comes into the world, comes into the universe late. It’s come into the world through our brains and maybe other brains in the universe. Now at last — finally — after 4 billion years of evolution we have the opportunity to bring some intelligent design into the world. We need intelligent design. We need to intelligently design our morals, our ethics, our politics, our society. We need to intelligently design the way we run our lives, not look back to scrolls — I was going to say ancient scrolls, they’re not even very ancient, about 800 BC the book of Genesis was written. I am often accused of expressing contempt and despising religious people. I don’t despise religious people; I despise what they stand for.”

A tribute video to Christopher Hitchens that was broadcasted at the rally.

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Rape, Christianity, and Morality

Rape is evil, it doesn’t matter who you are or what the circumstances are. By no means, should rape, as a action or a punishment, be considered. It would take a morally-corrupt or a mentally-displaced human being to suggest and/or commit such an act. Theists often utilize the argument from morality as the basis of god’s existence.

In its most general form, the moral argument is that:

  1. Some aspect of Morality is observed.
  2. Existence of God provides a better explanation of this feature than various alternatives.
  3. Therefore, to the extent that (1) is accepted, belief in God is preferable to these alternatives.

As an Anti-theist, it’s rather obvious that every fibre in my body revolts an idea of such absurdity. If morality did originate from god, and we have all accepted that the act of rape is immoral – if you haven’t done so, this commentary will prove to be too feeble for the problem that you are facing as an individual – then let’s put the Holy Bible, the one and only book for Christians, under the microscope.

Judges 21:10-24: Murder, rape, and pillage at Jabesh-gilead 

So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children.  “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.”  Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

    The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives.  But there were not enough women for all of them.  The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had left this gap in the tribes of Israel.  So the Israelite leaders asked, “How can we find wives for the few who remain, since all the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead?  There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel will not be lost forever.  But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God’s curse.”

    Then they thought of the annual festival of the LORD held in Shiloh, between Lebonah and Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem.  They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, “Go and hide in the vineyards.  When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife!  And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, ‘Please be understanding.  Let them have your daughters, for we didn’t find enough wives for them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.'”  So the men of Benjamin did as they were told.  They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance.  Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them.  So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.”

Exodus 21:7-11: Sex Slaves 

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.  If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.  But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her.  And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter.  If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife.  If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.” 

Numbers 31:7-18: Murder, rape and pillage of the Midianites  

“They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men.  All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle.  They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.  Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder.  They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived.  After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

     Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp.  But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle.  “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded.  “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor.  They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people.  Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man.  Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.”

There are many more examples of rape in the bible, which can be found here. I am sorry, but for god, this so-called “almighty” to advocate rape in such meretricious manner is rather disturbing. And this is the source of your morality? Christians? In which part of a rational mind decided to ignore rape, a sickening crime, and concluded that you will worship this evil being? Or is rationality something that eludes all religious people? It doesn’t take more than one reading to realize the androcentrism, the misogyny, and the hatred of this god. Which leads me to my next suspicion – doesn’t it sound like a man, or a group of men, conspired to write this book? Put aside your brazen ego about Christianity, and religion for that matter, and ask yourself this simple question: Would god advocate rape?

I refuse to worship a hateful god, I refuse to subscribe to a religion that has no respect for my mother or my sister, I refuse to be part of the problem of oppression and infringement of human rights.

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Gore Vidal on Monotheism

Gore Vidal is an American Author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist, noted for his irreverent and intellectually adroit novels. A fierce and controversial figure, Vidal has often been a critic of American politics and established religions. 

The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal — God is the Omnipotent Father — hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is not just in place for one tribe, but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good. Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god’s purpose. Any movement of a liberal nature endangers his authority and those of his delegates on earth. One God, one King, one Pope, one master in the factory, one father-leader in the family at home.

The founders of the United States were not enthusiasts of the sky-god. Many, like Jefferson, rejected him altogether and placed man at the center of the world. The young Lincoln wrote a pamphlet against Christianity, which friends persuaded him to burn. Needless to say, word got around about both Jefferson and Lincoln, and each had to cover his tracks. Jefferson said that he was a deist, which could mean anything or nothing, while Lincoln, hand on heart and tongue in cheek, said he could not support for office anyone who “scoffed” at religion.

From the beginning, sky-godders have always exerted great pressure in our secular public. Also, evangelical Christian groups have always drawn strength from those who have been suppressed economically. African slaves were allowed to organize sky-god churches, as a surrogate for earthly freedom. White churches were organized in order to make certain that the rights of property were respected and that the numerous religious taboos in the New and Old Testaments would be enforced, if necessary, by civil law. The ideal to which John Adams subscribed–that we would be a nation of laws, not of men–was quickly subverted when the churches forced upon everyone, through those supposedly neutral and just laws, their innumerable taboos on sex, alcohol, gambling. We are now indeed a nation of laws, mostly bad and certainly anti-human.

Roman Catholic migrations in the last century further re-enforced the Puritan sky-god. The Church has also put itself on a collision course with the Bill of Rights when it asserts, as it always has, that “error has no rights.” The last correspondence between John Adams and Thomas
Jefferson expressed their alarm that the Jesuits were to be allowed into the United States. Although the Jews were sky-god folks, they followed Book One, not Book Two, so they have no mission to convert others; rather the reverse. Also, as they have been systematically demonized by the Christian sky-godders, they tended to be liberal and so turned not to their temple but to the ACLU. Unfortunately, the recent discovery that the sky-god, in his capacity as realtor, had given them, in perpetuity, some parcels of unattractive land called Judea and Sumeria has, to my mind, unhinged many of them. I hope this is temporary.

In the First Amendment to the Constitution, the founders made it clear that this was not to be a sky-god nation with a national religion like that of England from whom we had just separated. It is curious how little understood this amendment is–yes, everyone has a right to worship any god he chooses but he does not have the right to impose his beliefs on others who do not happen to share in his superstitions and taboos. This separation is absolute in our original republic. But the sky-godders do not give up easily. In the 1950s they actually got the phrase “In God We Trust” onto the currency, in direct violation of the First Amendment. Although many of the Christian evangelists feel it necessary to convert everyone on earth to their primitive religion, they have been prevented–so far–from enforcing others to worship as they do but they have forced–most tyrannically and wickedly–their superstitions and hatreds upon all of us, through the civil law and through general prohibitions. So it is upon that account that I now favor an all-out war on the monotheists.

Let us dwell upon the evils that they have wrought. The hatred of the blacks comes straight from their Bad Book. As descendants of Ham, blacks are forever accursed while St. Paul tells the slaves to obey their masters. Racism is in the marrow of the bone of the true believer. For him, black is forever inferior to white and deserves whatever ill-fortune may come his way. The fact that some monotheists can behave charitably means, often, that their prejudice is at so deep a level that they are not aware that it is there at all. In the end, this makes any radical change of attitude impossible. Meanwhile, welfare has been the price the sky-godders were willing to pay to exclude blacks from their earthly political system. So we must live–presumably forever–with a highly enervating race war set in train by the one God and his many hatreds.

Patriarchal rage at the thought of Woman ever usurping Man’s place at the helm, in either home or workplace, is almost as strong now as it ever was. According to the polls, most American women took the side of Clarence Thomas against Anita Hill. But then the sky-god’s fulminations against women are still very much part of the psyche of those in thrall to the Jealous God.

The ongoing psychopathic hatred of same-sex sexuality has made the United States the laughingstock of the civilized world. In most of the First World, monotheism is weak. Where it is weak or nonexistent, private sexual behavior has nothing at all to do with anyone else, much less with the law. At least when the Emperor Justinian, a sky-god man, decided to outlaw sodomy, he had to come up with a good practical reason, which he did. It is well known, Justinian declared, that buggery is a principal cause of earthquake and so must be prohibited. But our sky-godders, always eager to hate, still quote Leviticus, as if that loony text had anything useful to say about anything, except perhaps the inadvisability of eating shellfish in the Jerusalem area.

We are now slowly becoming alarmed at the state of the planet. For a century, we have been breeding like a virus under optimum conditions and now the virus has begun to attack its host, the earth. The lower atmosphere is filled with dust, we have just been told from space. The
climate changes; earth and water are poisoned. Sensible people grow alarmed but sky-godders are serene, even smug. The planet is just a staging area for Heaven. Why bother to clean it up? Unfortunately for everyone, Mr. Bush’s only hope of winning in the coming election is to appeal to the superstitious. So he refuses to commit our government to the great clean-up partly because it affects the incomes of the 100 corporate men and women who pay for him and largely because of the sky-god who told his slaves “to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Well, we did just like you told us, massa. We’ve used everything up. We’re ready for heaven now. Or maybe Mars will do.

Ordinarily, as a descendant of that eighteenth-century enlightenment which shaped our republic, I would say live and let live, and I would try not to “scoff”–to use Lincoln’s verb–at the monotheists. But I am not allowed to ignore them. They won’t let me. They are too busy. They have a divine mission to take away our rights as private citizens. We are forbidden abortion here, gambling there, same-sex almost everywhere, drugs everywhere, alcohol in a dry county. Our prisons are the most terrible in the First World and the most crowded. Our Death Row executions are a source of deep disgust in civilized countries where more and more we are regarded as a primitive, uneducated, and dangerous people. Although we are not allowed, under law, to kill ourselves or to take drugs that the good folk think might be bad for us, we are allowed to buy a handgun and shoot as many people as we can get away with.

Now, as poor Arthur–“there is this pendulum”–Schlesinger, Jr. would say, these things come in cycles. Every 20 years liberal gives way to conservative, and back again. But I suggest that what is wrong now is not cyclic but systemic. And our system, like any system, is obeying the second law of thermodynamics: Everything is running down; and we are well advanced along the yellow brick road to entropy. I don’t think that much of anything can be done to halt this progress under our present political-economic system. We lost poor Arthur’s pendulum in 1950 when our original constitution was secretly replaced with the apparatus of the national security state that still wastes most of our tax money on war or war-related matters. Hence, deteriorating schools, and so on. For some years, I have proposed that we hold a constitutional convention on the ground that it would be better to get the whole business out in the open for discussion. Unfortunately, every one of us has been conditioned by school and pulpit and media to believe that the original constitution is perfect even though it no longer functions except as a sort of totem like the flag. Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that’s the end of the constitution as a working machine. The thoughtful are also afraid that if the religious folk could review and revise the constitution, all our liberties would go. Certainly, they will try. But I don’t think they’ll win. Madison’s iron law of oligarchy is too strong. The Few, presumably enlightened about their rights, will guide the Many, as usual. In any case, it is better to lose our rights dramatically at a convention–thus provoking civil war–than to lose them gradually and furtively, as we are now losing them.

Another of our agreed-upon fantasies is that we do not have a class system in the United States. The Few who control the Many through Opinion have simply made themselves invisible. They have convinced us that we are a classless society where anyone can make it. Ninety percent of our newspaper stories are about winners of lotteries or poor boys and girls who, despite adenoidal complaints, become overnight millionaire singers. So there is still hope, the press tells the folks, for the 99% who will never achieve wealth no matter how hard they work. We are also warned at birth that it is not polite to hurt other people’s feelings by criticizing their religion even though that religion may be damaging everyone through the infiltration of our common laws. Happily, the Few can not disguise the bad times through which we are all going. Word is spreading that America is now falling behind in the civilization sweepstakes. So isn’t it time to discuss what we really think and feel about our social and economic arrangements?

The authors of a recent book, The Day Americans Told the Truth, gave it a try. Unfortunately, they revealed that 92% of those polled confessed to being habitual liars. This is a bit like the oldest recorded joke: a citizen on the island of Crete said, “All Cretans are liars.” Proposition: is what he said true or false? So the book’s information on attitudes may not be useful. But the pollsters should have examined the reason why people are so frightened that they must habitually lie about their true feelings and thoughts. Tocqueville suspected that the instinctive tyranny of the American majority would produce a terrified conformity. He seems to have been right. Certainly, nothing of any importance may be discussed in our political life.

Even today, with two anti-establishment candidates in the field, only Brown has begun to examine the amount of money that the national security state siphons out of the economy to pay for Pentagon, CIA, SDI–as well as the potential cost of the latest scenarios of possible upcoming wars in the future. Though the specifics of these wars are absurd, the implications are grim: because the Ownership will make those wars happen, as they always do, whether comically in Grenada or tragically in Vietnam. War is all that they know and all that they care about, because through the demonizing of this or that enemy they can keep the money flowing to them–while depriving the people at large of all those things that other First World people possess–from schools to health care. Now the war budget is the only subject for a political campaign at the end of what has not turned out to be the American century after all. In fact, the year 2000 will not only mark the end of American primacy but the end of the hegemony of the white race. We shall comprise about 16% of the world’s population in eight years. Let us hope that the other tribes, particularly those of Asia, in their triumph, do not treat us as badly as we have treated them.

Although we may not discuss race other than to say that Jesus wants each and every one of us for a sunbeam, history is nothing more than the bloody record of the migration of tribes. When the white race broke out of Europe 500 years ago, it did many astounding things all over the globe. Inspired by a raging sky-god, the whites were able to pretend that their conquests were in order to bring the One God to everyone, particularly those with older and subtler religions. Now the tribes are on the move again. Professor Pendulum is having a nervous breakdown because so many different tribes are arriving to live here and so far not one has had time to read The Age of Jackson. I think the taking in of everybody can probably be overdone. There may not be enough jobs for too many more immigrants though what prosperity we have ever enjoyed in the past was usually based on slave or near-slave labor–new arrivals who would work in the sweatshops much as they do today in every restaurant kitchen. No wonder the Ownership has always denied us a strong labor movement and that the 14% of the work force that is organized is constantly demonized as tools of the Soviet Union of yesteryear or of the Mafia today.

On the other hand, I think Asiatics and Hispanics are a plus culturally, and their presence tends to refocus, somewhat, the relentless white versus black war. Where I am as one with my friend Pendulum is that the newcomers must grasp certain principles as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Otherwise, we shall become a racially divided state like the old South Africa, while enjoying, of course, the new Brazilian economy.

For 30 years I have drawn attention to the fact that we do not have political parties in the United States. This always caused distress among the media who are in place to make us think that we have a choice every four years to elect a president who will represent the people at large. Instead, we get someone like Bush whose only program, other than war, is cutting the capital gains tax, the price demanded of him by his 100 angels and their friends. I am happy that, finally, my views have begun to seep into the public debate. Even the dullest newspaper reporter now agrees that there isn’t a lot of difference between Democrats and Republicans. Also my idea of limiting election campaigns to six weeks has been noted favorably, while there was actually a discussion on the admirable Crier’s program that if networks and cable and radio were to give free time for the candidates they would not need to raise so much crooked money. Sad to say, my noblest cause–the taxation of all religions–has not surfaced this year, while the legalization of drugs is a non-subject since drugs have replaced communism on the Pentagon hit list.

But to revert again to the unmentionable, religion. It should be noted that religion seemed to be losing its hold in the United States in the second quarter of this century. From the Scopes Trial in ’25 to the Repeal of Prohibition in ’33, the sky-godders were confined pretty much to the backwoods. Then television was invented, and the electronic pulpit was soon occupied by a horde of Elmer Gantrys who took advantage of the tax exemption for religion. Thus, out of greed, a religious revival has been set in motion, and the results are predictably poisonous to the body politic.

It is usual, on the rare occasions when essential problems are addressed, to exhort everyone to be kinder, gentler. To bring us together, oh, lord, in our common humanity. Well, we have heard these exhortations for a couple of hundred years, and we are further apart now than ever. So instead of coming together in order that the many might be one, I say let us separate so that each will know where he stands. From the one many, and each of us free of the sky-god, as secular law-giver. I preach, to put it bluntly, confrontation.

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Notable Atheist: Gore Vidal

 

“Once people get hung up on theology, they’ve lost sanity forever. More people have been killed in the name of Jesus Christ than any other name in the history of the world.”

“The idea of a good society is something you do not need a religion and eternal punishment to buttress; you need a religion if you are terrified of death.” 

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The Militant Atheist

I was accused of being a “Militant Atheist” recently, a label which I won’t object. There is this idea that being a “Militant Atheist” is no different from any religious extremist, I would beg to differ; allow me to explicate my stance.

Politics Without Religion
I couldn’t care less if you believe in some sky god – may he be Jewish, blue, or a fat bloke that sat under a tree a little too long. That’s your prerogative, as childish as all the stories are. However, religion should not be allowed to leave your doorstep. It should not encroach into anyone else’s life, especially in the political realm. I live in a highly religious and political country, Malaysia, with ethnicity and religion dictating the political arena. The once great nation of America is currently battling to maintain some sort of Secularism within its government. The simple fact that Rick Santorum, a politician exploiting Christian extremism, is given a podium to stand on is a joke. But beyond the laughter, lies a worrying problem – the sanctimonious claims of religion over politics. Religion, along with all its evil, has no right to determine policy-making of a nation. The first litmus test of any government is reason and rationality. Religion has failed that test miserably time and time again. Yet, despite lacking any reason or rationality, religious people are hell-bent on influencing politics and governments. Homosexuality, women rights, abortion, and even contraception, which shouldn’t even be debated on the basis of human rights, has become major political issues due to religious influence. I will not stand by as millions of people are oppressed through the hammer of religion, while being govern by them politically. In Saudi Arabia, women are marginalized, treated as second-class citizens because of Islam. Homosexuals are bullied and battered because of religion, even in first-world nations. If you can stay silent, go ahead, no one is judging you, but don’t judge me for wanting to fight against oppression.

Science Without Religion
When I was in school, I barely knew about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. It was only when I grew older, and gained the blessing of the internet that I started building my knowledge of evolution. The creation-versus-evolution debate has been long drawn out, and I shall refrain from contributing to it here. But life is rather simple, the theory of evolution has been proven to be true, while creationism stems from unsubstantiated fairy-tales. Religion has no right to hinder the progress of Science. Galileo was persecuted by religion for his support of heliocentrism, which is an absolute truth. An example in today’s world is religion’s hindrance of stem-cell research. I am sorry, but I support Science’s endeavours in finding the cure for diseases, because my utopia, which was formed without the delusion of religion, involves people NOT dying from cancer, AIDS, and any other diseases that might be curable someday. I am not saying this is the answer, but if this could be the answer to reducing human mortality, then we must pursue it scientifically until we reach an absolute conclusion. If there is no evidence for your nonsense, shut up, move to the back of the room, and let those with some form of answers find more answers, for the sake of humanity.

I maintain my stance that for now, I must take this Militant route. Someday, I’ll have children. And what if my son is born gay? Science says that 10-20% of the population are homosexuals. I don’t want him to grow up in a prejudice, hateful world, where he has to feel as if he doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as heterosexuals. For my future daughter, I must ensure that she is born into an fair and equal world, a world where mind-numbing religious idiots aren’t trying to dictate women’s rights. I want the best for my children, selfishly; and I want the best for the every child that’s born into this world. I will not apologize for being crude and verbally violent about your religious beliefs, as long as they are found loitering and lurking around the moral fibers of society. I will not silence my criticism, as long as there are innocent people being abused in the name of religion. Frankly, I couldn’t give two pancakes worth of care about you or your religion, but keep your “morality”, your faith, your beliefs, your god, and your nonsense in your own pocket. You shall not control and manipulate the socio-political system to please your imaginary friend, and as long as you do, don’t expect rational people to sit down in silence.

Besides, when was the last time you heard some one flying a plane into a building because of his Atheist beliefs, or waging a war due to Atheism? Militant Atheists rough it out on the battlefield of intellectuality, the one battlefield religion can’t seem to get a grasp of.

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