Tag Archives: Christianity

Dear Einstein, Do Scientists Pray?

In 1936, a young girl named Phyllis wrote a letter to Albert Einstein, on behalf of her Sunday school class, with the simple question, “Do scientists pray?”

The Riverside Church

January 19, 1936

My dear Dr. Einstein, 

We have brought up the question: Do scientists pray? in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men, to try and have our own question answered. 

We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for?

We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis’s class.

Respectfully yours, 

Phyllis

———————-

January 24, 1936

Dear Phyllis, 

I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science. 

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive. 

With cordial greetings, 

your A. Einstein

[Source: Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children]

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The 10 Commandments: A Parody Written in 3 minutes

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me… Because you know, I, God, am a jealous little controlling psychopath. 

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… But if you must, please, Instagram that shit. 

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain… Jesus Fucking Christ, do I really need to be telling you idiotic cows this? 

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy… Unless the football match is on, then fuck it! 

5. Honour thy father and thy mother… because you ruined their sex life the moment you were conceived.

6. Thou shalt not kill… Only I, the Almighty, can do that – especially the homos, kill the bum boys! 

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery… But by all means, take a few wives, heck, chain the bitches up and call them “concubines”. 

8. Thou shalt not steal… because stealing a loaf of bread is worst than rape, which is absolutely fine by the way. 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour… Once again, this neighbour shit is way more important than rape and pedophilia.

10. Thou shalt not covet… Because you can see, but you can’t touch. *smiley wink face*

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Homosexuality is Sinful?

 

[Source: From Twitter @littleLishka]

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Common Misconceptions About Atheists and Atheism

Atheism has been garnering plenty of attention lately, mainly negative attention due to its position that disparages the beliefs of more than 80% of the world population. There are many outspoken Atheists – Dawkins, Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens to name a few – but Atheism remains very much an anathema within society. Spirituality, along with superstitions, is revered above all else, and to deny it is to declare war on personal beliefs. In this “war”, many absurd claims have been made about Atheists and Atheism. It is important that we confute these claims, filtering out the stupidity and foolishness just so we can move on to issues of actual significance.

Atheists eat babies
Probably the most ridiculous of all claims, but nonetheless, as an Atheist, I’ve learnt to turn every baffling statement into humour. This myth has its origins in blood libel, which is the (Christian/Catholic) false accusation that enemies of Christ murder children for ritualistic purposes. Christianity has a strong vampire-blood-flesh fetish, so it’s no surprise that the negative antipode of their claims would revolve around the exact same fetish.

A little note to theists, if you are inviting me over for dinner, I like my babies medium-rare, preferably with a side of steamed carrots and cauliflower, lightly salted. Thank you.

Yummy!

Atheists are satanist, devil worshippers
From an Atheist’s perspective, god – especially the Abrahimaic versions of god – is the bigger devil than the devil himself. He is misogynistic, homophobic, murderous, and cruel; all round not a very nice bloke. Not to burst the religious bubble or anything, but Atheism assumes the convincing position that there are no deities or any supernatural beings, which would include Satan or the devil. However, if I tried extremely hard to be stupid, I could understand the logic of this claim:  it originates from the religious arrogance that concludes if you deny god, you are on the devil’s side.

Atheists hate god
I’ll keep this sweet and short: We can’t hate an entity that does not exist; but the idea of god, along with the various fictionalized doctrines, will receive universal criticism from Atheists because of its detrimental effect on the human race.

Atheists are immoral
Morality (and its origins) is probably the most heavily-debated topic between the religious and the non-religious. I’ll shamelessly allow the words of Sam Harris to make this point for me, because he speaks my mind on this matter, a little more eloquently.

If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

On a more personal note, my experience with charity has shown me that Agnostics and Atheists tend to be more helpful than religious people. The religious herd tend to have conditions attached to their morality, riddled with hypocritical questions such as, “Are the orphans Christians/Muslims?”

Atheism is a religion
I wrote about this a while back (link). To reiterate my view on this:

I am sure there are long, drawn out arguments regarding the issue, often with the semantics being manipulated to suit the case. 

I am a staunch believer in Occam’s razor, which states from among competing hypotheses, selecting the one that makes the fewest new assumptions usually provides the correct one, and that the simplest explanation will be the most plausible until evidence is presented to prove it false. My stance on religion is rather simple and straightforward: Religion refers to the belief in a supernatural being, which in and of itself has some form of afterlife, may it be the Abrahamic heaven and hell concept, or Hinduism-Buddhism reincarnation cycle. These are all elements I reject, without having the need to dwell on the semantics and the complexities of the definitions.

Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.

Belief: An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

Atheism: The belief that God does not exist.

As the famous line goes,”Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair colour.”

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Notable Atheist: Douglas Adams

On the burden of proof:

“I don’t accept the currently fashionable assertion that any view is automatically as worthy of respect as any equal and opposite view. My view is that the moon is made of rock. If someone says to me “Well, you haven’t been there, have you? You haven’t seen it for yourself, so my view that it is made of Norwegian Beaver Cheese is equally valid” – then I can’t even be bothered to argue. There is such a thing as the burden of proof, and in the case of god, as in the case of the composition of the moon, this has shifted radically. God used to be the best explanation we’d got, and we’ve now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining. So I don’t think that being convinced that there is no god is as irrational or arrogant a point of view as belief that there is. I don’t think the matter calls for even-handedness at all.”

On the arguments for religious ideas, contrasted with those for evolutionary biology:

“What astonished me, however, was the realization that the arguments in favor of religious ideas were so feeble and silly next to the robust arguments of something as interpretative and opinionated as history. In fact they were embarrassingly childish. They were never subject to the kind of outright challenge which was the normal stock in trade of any other area of intellectual endeavor whatsoever. Why not? Because they wouldn’t stand up to it. So I became an Agnostic. And I thought and thought and thought. But I just did not have enough to go on, so I didn’t really come to any resolution. I was extremely doubtful about the idea of god, but I just didn’t know enough about anything to have a good working model of any other explanation for, well, life, the universe and everything to put in its place. But I kept at it, and I kept reading and I kept thinking. Sometime around my early thirties I stumbled upon evolutionary biology, particularly in the form of Richard Dawkins’s books The Selfish Gene and then The Blind Watchmaker and suddenly (on, I think the second reading of The Selfish Gene) it all fell into place. It was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, naturally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life. The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

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Christians and Facts; Water and Oil.

Bryan J. Fisher, the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA).

Stupid and misinformed, meet your best friend.

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Christianity and Homophobia: Pastor Sean Harris

Pastor Sean Harris, a senior pastor at the Berean Baptist Church, is one of the many examples of homophobia in the Christian community.

Excerpts of his sermon:
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. OK? You’re not going to act like that — you were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male.

And when your daughter starts acting too ‘butch,’ you rein her in. And you say, ‘Oh no. Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play ‘em, play ‘em to the glory of God, but sometimes you’re going to act like a girl and talk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl, and that means you’re going to be beautiful, you’re going to be attractive, you’re going to dress yourself up.

Here’s the audio clip: [http://www.goodasyou.org/player.swf]

After the sermon went viral on the internet, Pastor Harris, the homophobic hate-monger, is claiming he was only joking, would never even touch a child, “would never ever advocate” hitting a child, and says his parishioners — many of whom shouted “Amen!” when Harris said to punch a four-year old – know he would never advocate child abuse. Harris also claims there was ”not an ounce of hate being communicated” in his remarks in church on Sunday, focused on the evils of homosexuality in hopes of ensuring parishioners vote for North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would write anti-gay discrimination directly into the constitution, and would define as the only legal relationship a marriage between one man and one woman. Amendment One would also  immediately make domestic violence victims ineligible for protection orders and would even remove children from their unmarried parents’ health insurance.

However, being a man of god and faith, he defended his homophobia, saying,”If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt,” Harris said Tuesday. “Those weren’t planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behaviour is ungodly. I’m not going to compromise on that.

Yes, folks, this is what they teach the sheeps at church. And let’s not be fooled by the hoards of moderate Christians who would claim that Pastor Sean Harris isn’t a true Christian. No, read the bible, that holy book is a hateful, homophobic, ancient scripture that does nothing but promote persecution and oppression.

Pastor Sean Harris is a man of god indeed, a man created in the image of god.

Religious authorities must be held responsible for promoting child abuse, this isn’t a LGBT rights issue, this is a human rights issue. The blanket of immunity the government give religious leaders must be removed for humanity to eradicate unfounded hate and persecution.

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Religion: Of Mockery and Respect

Over the past two weeks, I was sounded out a few times for my lack of respect shown towards religion. Of the three incidents I could recall, two of them were Christians, demanding a little respect for Mr. JC and his sycophants. I made a couple of Easter jokes on Facebook and Twitter alike.

Exhibit A
I wish I had an epic weekend like Jesus did.

“Huh? Where am I? What am I doing in a cave? Oh my father, did I pass out for 3 days? I knew I shouldn’t have had that last tequila shot with Judas…”

RESPECT, is derived from the Latin word “respectus” meaning regard; as a noun, the word describes a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. As a verb, it’s the action of admiring someone or something deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements. Contemplating on the word admiration, respect is something undoubtedly positive, a humanistic elucidation of deserving praise.

Respect is earned, very much like any other societal concession; religion has done nothing to deserve any respect – pedophilia, homophobia, misogyny, murder, and rape are just a few arguments against this morally-corrupt system of belief. Religion, like politics, is not beyond mockery. If religious people want society to respect religion, the first step would be to sort out the ascertained flaws within the system they adhere to. Theists are keen to demand respect and tolerance from outside, but religion has done nothing to reciprocate the same level of respect and tolerance for basic human rights.

Granted, like all system of beliefs, we will find moderates and extremists residing within the same contextual parameters. Many moderates would argue that they do not condone the extremist stance of others within their organization, hence, demanding that their moderation be respected for its positive characteristics. Unfortunately, I will politely decline that notion. First off, why don’t the moderates focus that celebrated moderation on ensuring the collective they belong to demonstrate respect and tolerance for others, instead of whining and moaning outwardly, pathetically begging for sympathy from a society that has been diversified through education and rationality? Secondly, Christianity and Islam (for example) have a begrimed relationship with the LGBT community while struggling to respect a woman’s right to equality – these are just simple examples sans any elaboration and details. If so, What am I disrespecting? I would not respect a homophobe, I would not respect a rapist, I would not respect anyone that infringes upon the basic human rights of fellow human being. Aforementioned homophobic/rapist could be the most prominent philanthropist in modern history and I would still refuse to show that individual any form respect. Religion as an entity has proven itself to be a perverted despot seeking to control and manipulate the masses, while committing and advocating countless acts of terror throughout history. What about it proves itself worthy of respect?

Until then, I shall leave you with a pleasant joke I stumbled upon through my misadventures on the internet.

My town’s too poor to have a priest. Our nun has to use a strap-on.

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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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Religious Fanaticism

Excerpt from The Economic Times:”First Salman Rushdie, now Taslima Nasreen – end of cultural tolerance?” 

KOLKATA: The cancellation of the release of controversial author Taslima Nasreen’s autobiography at the famed Kolkata Book Fair has thrown the spotlight on the destructive clout of religious fanatics in a city once known for savouring cultural pluralism.

Last week’s incident, coupled with the Salman Rushdie controversy – when the Booker awardee had to call off his visit and then his much-anticipated video address at the Jaipur Literature Festival following security threats triggered by some Islamic groups’ protest – would go down as another instance of Indian authorities and parties kowtowing before religious rabblerousers.

While the Rushdie episode saw the political parties and the government, in the words of novelist Vikram Seth, “knuckling under” an “enforced disgrace because of power and politics”, the only difference here was that publishers went ahead with the launch of the book at the fair, despite the hostile attitude of organisers.

The seventh volume of Nasreen’s book ” Nirbasan” (Exile), which deals with her life after exile from Kolkata in 2007 and which almost nobody had read before the release, saw religious fundamentalists protesting against the launch.

Hours before the release function, the organisers telephoned the publishers, People’s Book Society, asking them to cancel the programme due to “logistical problems”. But later it transpired that some Islamic groups had approached the authorities and the city police against the book release.

A top official of the organising body, Publishers’ and Book Sellers’ Guild, confirmed the development and stoutly defended its decision to stop the launch.

“We cannot allow any such thing to happen inside the Book Fair premises which can hurt the interest of the common people coming to the fair. We cannot allow anything that may hurt the religious sentiments of any community.”

Be it Jaipur or Kolkata, political parties remained mum or played it safe, ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls where Muslims will constitute a key vote segment.

Read full article here

How long are we going to allow religious fanatics to dictate what we can or can not do?

Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.

The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”. 

Why is it that we, atheists, humanists, and free-thinkers, must tolerate their religious views, but they won’t tolerate ours?

I am tempted to justify that statement by stating that perhaps they have a lower IQ level, hence making it difficult to form logical and objective analysis. Or maybe, it’s the arrogance of Abrahamic religious texts – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism – that perilously proclaims itself the truth, while mortally condemning all other belief systems.

There is no evidence that this “God” exists – none whatsoever! Religious fanaticism is the equivalent of a child murdering his parents in cold blood because they told him Santa Claus is a fictional character. For governments to give in to such insolence is dangerous, because it provides the fanatics a sense of justification to their lofty beliefs. Religious fanaticism is not a third-world problem, it’s a global issue that’s threatening to silence the intelligent and the rationalist, while celebrating the crazy and the irrational.

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De-Baptism in France

‘Off The Record: A Quest For De-Baptism In France’ by Eleanor Beardsley 

In France, an elderly man is fighting to make a formal break with the Catholic Church. He’s taken the church to court over its refusal to let him nullify his baptism, in a case that could have far-reaching effects.

Seventy-one-year-old Rene LeBouvier’s parents and his brother are buried in a churchyard in the tiny village of Fleury in northwest France. He himself was baptized in the Romanesque stone church and attended mass here as a boy.

LeBouvier says this rural area is still conservative and very Catholic, but nothing like it used to be. Back then, he says, you couldn’t even get credit at the bakery if you didn’t go to mass every Sunday.

LeBouvier grew up in that world and says his mother once hoped he’d become a priest. But his views began to change in the 1970s, when he was introduced to free thinkers. As he didn’t believe in God anymore, he thought it would be more honest to leave the church. So he wrote to his diocese and asked to be un-baptized.

“They sent me a copy of my records, and in the margins next to my name, they wrote that I had chosen to leave the church,” he says.

That was in the year 2000. A decade later, LeBouvier wanted to go further. In between were the pedophile scandals and the pope preaching against condoms in AIDS-racked Africa, a position that LeBouvier calls “criminal.” Again, he asked the church to strike him from baptismal records. When the priest told him it wasn’t possible, he took the church to court.

Last October, a judge in Normandy ruled in his favor. The diocese has since appealed, and the case is pending.

“One can’t be de-baptized,” says Rev. Robert Kaslyn, dean of the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.

Kaslyn says baptism changes one permanently before the church and God.

“One could refuse the grace offered by God, the grace offered by the sacrament, refuse to participate,” he says, “but we would believe the individual has still been marked for God through the sacrament, and that individual at any point could return to the church.

French law states that citizens have the right to leave organizations if they wish. Loup Desmond, who has followed the case for the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, says he thinks it could set a legal precedent and open the way for more demands for de-baptism.

“If the justice confirms that the name Rene LeBouvier has to disappear from the books, if it is confirmed, it can be a kind of jurisprudence in France,” he says.

Back at the church in Fleury, LeBouvier stands by his parents’ grave. When asked if the case has ruined his chances of being buried in the family plot, he says he doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s donating his body to science.

Read full article here
Source: www.npr.org 

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Virginia Lawmaker: Disabled Kids are God’s Punishment for Abortion

Republican Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall said last week that God is taking “vengeance” on parents who have had abortions by making their other children disabled. Speaking at a press conference against state funding for Planned Parenthood. He blasted the organization for supporting a women’s right to choose, saying that God punishes woman who have had abortions by giving them disabled children.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

What an evil and repulsive statement to make; I personally know children with disabilities, and it’s rather saddening to have an imbecile curse these innocent children and their parents on the basis of Christianity.

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