Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh my God!

Another task for the apologists

It has happened again... a tsunami has taken 99 more lives in South Pacific, Samoa.

Oh my God!

Now get this straight, folks. This is NOT an act of God. If you think it is, think again because you are wrong, wrong, wrong. There are no elements of man-imagined gods in naturally occurring events - disastrous or not, life taking or not.

The 99 people who lost their lives to this event were not singled out by any commonly held nonsense ideas of questionable morality, faulty worship, poor spirit or the like the way some numb-nuts preachers, pastors, gurus and priests (pedophile or otherwise) will soon be spouting. Don't believe them. They are pushing pudding feeding fats. They're selling nonsense-ideas that their gods are powerful and kneading their fantasy messages into your daily bread mix. Spit it..!

Get smart, people... natural disasters are natural events. There are no supernatural strings pulling on nature.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

They aren't gods, but...

They aren't gods but they aren't bad...

I don't have a problem saying it, this is a pretty good team of people. I'm satisfied.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pose with the full Cabinet for an official group photo in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2009.

Seated from left: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Standing second row, from left: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan E. Rice, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Back row, from left: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, and Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Stop the zealots:

The following is a quotation of Paul Fidalgo from his article "Parade of the fanatical ignoramuses: Racism and rage on the right." Its a tad "old hat" even just two weeks after it was written but the climate hasn't changed much since.

When Obama was elected, there was a lot of fuzzy talk about the beginning of the end of racism. But Limbaugh, Beck, and their ilk (and I specifically mean anyone in the Republican Party who will not totally renounce them), in what they are telling their stupid followers, are showing us the opposite--they're trying to make the case that it's okay to be racist again, because Obama is a Nazi/communist/black nationalist/foreigner/racist/Muslim/antichrist. You were right all along, these inexcusably abhorrent men tell their anti-intellectual swarms, so it's okay to take this president down.

The crazed right wingers, the zealot Christians, are still out there spreading their words of hatred and division. Something's gotta give.

Paul Fidalgo is right. There's a move afoot to stir trouble the likes of what trouble was like during our darkest history... think of Europe during the dark ages; the Holocaust; Mississippi in the sixties; and September, 11, 2001. - The hate being spread is dangerous. Really folks... What's next?

Its time to put an end to it (No doubt!) but how?

I support the efforts of activist groups like and who advocate for bringing down people like Glen Beck by appealing to his corporate sponsors. So far, its had at least some effect. Try it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recipe for imagination:

Just imagine:

What a nice little atheist world we could all live in if our school systems would start getting down to business. Check out this article to wet your whistle on the subject of this rant. "Students must learn about other religions ... Parent say new course threatens Christian faith"

Don't miss this statement: and I love this guy's take on the controversy:

What parents were demanding was the right to ignorance, the right to protect their children from being exposed to the existence of other religions," he said. "This right to ignorance is certainly not protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of religion does not protect the right not to know what is going on in our universe.
~ Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, a law professor at Université de Sherbrooke
Add a couple of general survey of religion and philosophy classes... mix in some basic logic and ethics studies... stir up some critical thinking skills ... allow aging ...and even the dullard of all dullards could easily see through the thin vials of what religion shovels. Do this, and our science and history might then be taught without fear of whitewash. Our little world might just become a nicer place to dwell.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On atheism in politics

On atheism in politics:

There is a certain reluctance, or so it seems, of non-religious Americans to enter the arena of mainstream politics. Atheism, for the most part, remains on the outside of most law-making questions (or, at least, it appears to choose camping on the political fringe). This attitude isn't generally shared by its religionist counterparts. The peculiar difference may become one of religions biggest future problems.

The nation's church groups, the religions, perhaps by their nature to unabashedly foster dogmatic thinking in top down fashion, Lording it over the minds of their own, are far less awkward about openly stating the opinion of the church over even the most mundane issues of the day. The pulpit speaks its mind loudly, clearly and without hesitation on whatever it wants the nation's policy makers (and its own flock) to decide. Truly, the church isn't shy, and it never has been, when it comes to sending out its political laundry list. And what do the sheep do...? To often, they follow.

Atheists, non-religious people, secularists, are quite different. Some might chalk up the relative silence from the godless community to a general immaturity of its groups; to its still undecided and loosely formed organizational hierarchies; and, to its primary superpower nemesis, the ever-present naturally occurring un-herdible cat problem. Bunk! That's not how it is - not at all.

If you haven't yet had a go at reading Dan Gilgoff's recent article, "4 Ways the 'No Religion' Boom Will Alter American Politics," then have at it: here. Atheism, the fastest growing "belief segment" of society, is poised to make new marks on the pages of American political history.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lynching...? Are you kidding?

Another dead man:

I don't pay particularly close attention to cases of murder in the news, but there was one this past summer that managed to stick in my mind, the assignation of Dr George Tiller, a late term abortion provider from Kansas. And now this: The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker, has been found hanged in rural Kentucky. Hmmm...

These cases, and a little reflection on the nature of them, lead me to recall that there has also been a somewhat recent UU church shooting in Tennessee - a senseless act perpetrated by a religiously crazed man who took at least some of his motivation from right wing talk show celebrities. And, I have vague recollections of several other similar murders - sour ruminations.

Like most people, I prefer to let these examples of the lowest level of human behavior slip out of mind... Really, who likes to think about such things? But there is something here that keeps calling me back. A common thread. And that something, that thread, is the reckless misuse of media and baiting. The wackos, nutters and crazies perpetrating these crimes on humanity are people "responding to the call" and "doing their part" for God and country... It's gone over the top - way over. Read Susan Jacoby's "The Age of American Unreason" if you're failing to get a clear message here.

Dr Tiller, the victims of the UU church, and now, Bill Sparkman who very possibly became the target of an impromptu lynching as the result of the wild TV ravings of Michele Bachmann, featured by Glen Beck, FOX NEWS, were all lost to the same sort of filthy hands. We must ask, who's hands guided those filthy hands...?

I yield to the question posed by The New Atheist:

"... at what point does someone using fiery rhetoric, grossly false claims, and race baiting become responsible for the violence it incites?"

Backsides to basics.

Backsides to basics.

I'm excited and concerned by the opportunity to see a long awaited, greatly needed, redesigning of the reverse side of $1 bill US currency. We may yet see "In God We Trust" make its way to the trash heap where it properly belongs. And this proposed legislation is the the way:

H.R.2854 – Liberty Bill Act To require the Secretary of the Treasury to redesign $1 Federal reserve notes so as to incorporate the preamble to the Constitution of the United States, a list describing the Articles of the Constitution, and a list describing the Amendments to the Constitution, on the reverse side of such notes.

[I encourage you to follow the link to this bill and leave a comment.]

But... Who gets to decide what images will be included, what wording will be prominent and which idiotic phrases will be omitted?
You may already know that it was by a relatively unwatched-over 1862 coin redesign process, a change which took place during a very busy and confusing climate with our nation divided in civil war, that a simple two cent piece was cast "In God We Trust" and the whole national motto mess took its beginning... Are we going to allow the same kind of neglect to happen all over again? Let's hope not. Should we be fearful that unscrupulous people like the room #219 boys and girls of the Congressional Prayer Caucus will once again try to weasel their way into the decision process? I suspect so...

And, if it happens at all, who will be watching over the progress of this, anyhow?

Good gosh! Will it a fundie..?!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Religion, anyone?

Where are we going?

Some of the questions we ask ourselves once we arrive in the real world, both feet on the ground, heads out of the clouds, as atheists, are the "big questions" which all go something on the order of, "Okay, what's next?"

Living in reality has its way of demanding that we spend at least some of our time - our cerebral time - outside of reality, wondering and postulating. We know where we are, sure enough... but where are we going and why?

I came across an old but interesting article on religion in a rather unlikely place, The article, Forecasting the future of religion: the next 50 years, by Jeffery S Victor, is an interesting muse of the type I eluded to above. Just as its title tells, it tackles a big question and asks: "Okay, what's next... for religion?"

I gave it a read and found that I agreed and disagreed. (I left a comment.)

Religion, of the god-belief type, is on the down slope (no doubt) but will it evolve to some new sort of religion or will it disappear altogether? My call is that evolution is already at full throttle where religion is concerned and that it has been for the past two hundred fifty years. Religion isn't ready to roll over and play dead. Not yet.

As I see it, philosophies such as Jainism, Confucianism and Buddhism in the East and Humanism in the West will be on their way in as the reasonable replacements for the god-ideas of the past. And once the politicians begin to recognize that these "religions" can be as easily romanced as the god-beliefs have been throughout history, it won't be likely to see wholesale religion die off altogether at anytime soon. More likely, religions overall will evolve to become something a tad closer to solid ground... and hopefully that won't take fifty more years.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We're going to proceed

This seems fair enough...

I'm focused on a single statement of summary made by Greta Christina from her blog post,
"How Dare You Atheists Make Your Case! Or, The Fisking of Armstrong, 123" (a good read) with the simple idea in mind that she's said the obvious very well. And now I can only wish the god-believing world will take notice and give Greta's summation the serious thought it deserves, and then finally, hopefully, they'll begin to get this message right.

Here's what Greta says is common atheist thinking:

We're saying, "The atheism hypothesis seems to be the one that's best supported by the available evidence. The God hypothesis doesn't make sense, and there isn't any good evidence for it... so we're going to proceed on the assumption that it isn't true. If we see better evidence or better arguments for God's existence, we'll change our minds."

And, she's right, isn't she...

Of course this isn't an earthshaking new statement on Greta's part. Plenty of people have heated the air saying the same thing, time and time again. But there's always a chance that repeating the message one more time might help... So, do that. Help spread the word. Do your part. Repeat this message and see if by doing so you can penetrate the thick skull of a god-believer you know.

Join a group / Start a group

Starting-up atheist groups:

I'm a firm believer that on-the-ground groups are where its at and what's happenin' when it comes to the future of the atheist movement. The more groups the better. You can find plenty of support for the same belief across the board of the atheist blogworld without ever falling off your log. Go ahead... find a few blogs on the subject and read them and then get the message: JOIN.

Here's my earliest blog on the subject, recommending It's posted as a guest blog on Atheist Revolution.

Since then, I've stayed with using Meetup to create more groups and I've found it works not only for adding to the member rolls of an already growing, already existing group, but that it's great for starting-up new groups where none existed before. It's like using Miracle Grow on weeds - it works that well!

And here's a quick list of groups from my own neighborhood that have grown up out of nowhere since just a short year ago: Joplin MO (35 members), Springfield MO (105 members), Rogers AR (61 members), Texarkana AR (29 members) and Conway AR (just getting underway this month and already 10 members. Yeah Conway!).

I'm not saying Meetup is the only way to start or grow-up a group... Good gosh, no. But I am saying it's a useful tool if you need one. More importantly, I'm saying, "GET INVOLVED".

If you aren't already involved in an on-the-ground group, either an atheist, freethinker or skeptic organization right in the neighborhood where you live, join one or create one NOW!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This is nice, but...

This is nice, but...

Do we really need or want our highest government official, the President, to feel obligated to make "polite public statements" acknowledging every variety of religious celebration occurring throughout the year - no matter how important the celebration may be to those celebrating it? This question is one which begs thought.

There are a growing number of influential religions in the US and each has its own list of "important" holidays. I ask, really... reasonably... must our country yield to recognizing the nonsense of religiosity at every turn? Does doing so stand to harm us in the long run more so than it could ever be expected to help?

Friday, September 18, 2009

An Open Window of Hope

An open window of hope:

There seems to be a slight breeze blowing on the hill and I welcome it hopefully since it carries with it the chance that "We The People" have an opportunity to decorate the reverse side of our own most frequently used currency denomination. Perhaps we'll finally even be allowed to replace the nonsense idea our country has so far seen fit to invest its trust in so heavily... "God".

Open mailed out this in its recent blog of pending actions: the Liberty Bill Act

H.R.2854 – Liberty Bill Act To require the Secretary of the Treasury to redesign $1 Federal reserve notes so as to incorporate the preamble to the Constitution of the United States, a list describing the Articles of the Constitution, and a list describing the Amendments to the Constitution, on the reverse side of such notes.

Holy cows... It could actually happen (...but let's not get all giggly until it does.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Secular holidays

Secular holidays

If your local atheist group is looking for something secular to celebrate, another excuse to gobble down a burger and toss back a cold one, this looks promising:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2009, as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and September 17 through September 23, 2009, as Constitution Week. I encourage Federal, State, and local officials, as well as leaders of civic, social, and educational organizations, to conduct ceremonies and programs that celebrate our Constitution and reaffirm our rights and obligations as citizens of our great Nation.

But let's not forget that September 19th is yet another day worthy of attention and celebration: Talk like a pirate day.


Take action for "Creation"

A worthy social action for groups:

Here's something your group can do:

The producers of the British made film "Creation" haven't found it an easy task to secure a willing marketer in the US (Imagine that.) Our atheist groups might be the way to encourage a movie marketing leader to get enough courage to step forward.

The American Humanist Association is coordinating a petition drive on the web. You can sign the petition on the web by clicking here. So sign it! ...and then consider this: Our local groups are in a position to take things to the next level... into the streets and into the shopping malls across the country. We might even discover a few new atheists in the process.

So, what are we waiting for? Let's get some petitions going. The film looks like its a good one... I'd really hate to miss it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Room #219, bigoted Christians

Room #219 is occupied by bigoted Christians - plain and simple.

Room #219 in our nation's capitol is occupied by bigoted Christians with the narrowest points of view - plain and simple. They call themselves the Congressional Prayer Caucus as if all of congress respects their interpretive idea of prayer (Hands down,) and they apply the word "prayer" to themselves as if they represent every possible variety of prayer. (How arrogant!)

Where in their caucus is there room for prayer carpets as would be brought in to suit Islam, for the bells and incense and images of Hinduism or (Heavens sake!) for the pentagrams of Satanism?

Room #219 is not a prayer caucus at all but rather it is a very narrowly defined Caucasoid-subversive-group; and, it is so with an apparent taste for a single purpose - that, to do nothing than less than disguise the true character of the country, destabilize it at its foundation, and remake it in a white-wash of propaganda as something that it isn't... a government meant primarily for white fundamentalist Christians.

Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) navigates and goes tossing around obscure terms such as Judeo-Christian, god, family values, and faith as if each had a specific definition. Leaning on the compound "Judeo-Christian" term to make his claim, that our nation took its birth according to some notion derived from those principles (what ever in the world they might be,) he neglects to recognize that the term itself was utterly unheard of prior to 1899, the year it was initially coined. And what, precisely, are the "Judeo-" portion and the "-Christian" portion of the combined term, anyhow? "God" is another term that goes entirely ill-defined and undefined by Room #219 and Mr Forbes. Is the god spoken of so reverently and frequently the one named Allah, is it Thor or is it the Christian god, Jesus, but not the Jewish god Yahweh? And exactly what is a family value in accord to who's idea of the ideal family model? And doesn't "faith" have a broader definition than meaning only belief in narrowest scope of the most narrow-minded Christian religions?

I don't have much trust in the Congressional Prayer Caucus. They probably don't have much trust in me or in the secular government that I cherish... Fine. But Secularism, a term that took its roots out of religion, is something the Congressional Prayer Caucus, the prayer boys and girls, ought to learn about. Once they've taken the time to understand it, they might step up to see that the group they now count themselves into is group they'd be better to be counted out of... and fast.

Rm 219: Undermining reason with God

Rm 219: Undermining reason with God

I'm wondering if the Congressional prayer boys and girls of Room #219 in our nation's capitol have given any thought to the obvious - that they will be completely incapable of restoring life to the poor victim who is likely to get snuffed as a result of all their bottom feeding and slime stirring in the cesspools of the American god-believing public.


Room #219 has been doing its best to keep religious emotions running high, at a time when it ought to be crystal clear to anyone of reason that adding the fuel of belief driven emotion on fiery hot issues in need of cooler heads seeking rational solutions, reeks of recklessness... They know it. And we know it.

Will they be able to pray life back into whoever they manage to get killed?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Were they wrong?

Were they wrong?

Our nation was founded as a government without an official religion and it has none today. This is fact. Our constitution makes no mention of gods or "God". These words are totally absent from the document, top to bottom, first word to last. This too is factual.

Our godless America was conceived by some of the brightest colonial men of the time, by the most capable intellectuals of the day: James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington and others... each known to be a respected man of learning - every one of them. Were they wrong?

scene at the signing of the Constitution of The United States of America

If they were in error by crafting the framework of our nation as they did, I must ask each of you reading this now to answer, "How so?"

I submit that, if other nations who took up the American example of secular government conceived by our own colonial intellectuals of the late 1700's; that nations of the people need no gods to decide their law, their future or their being; that, in fact, any nation is far better off to ignore such preposterous ideas as those proffered by religiously fathomed leadership, such other nations would be equally on the precipice of ruin as much so as the United States is right now. And they are not. This is also a fact.

Think hard America. Were the founders wrong or have we been?

Danger: Mob Mentality

Danger: Mob Mentality

I repeat the message of the photo included in my blog from yesterday and yield to today's post by vjack, Atheist Revolution where he has posted a must see video.

Our nation is precariously perched on a verge. We are living in a dangerous time. Prudence demands that we tread carefully, all of us, equally.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Am I the the only idiot?

Am I the the only idiot?

I'm currently reading the last chapter of a book that I'll be disappointed to see end, "Idiot America" by Charles P Pierce. It's already in my mind to give it a second reading at some time in the future.

The photo I've included here speaks loudly for the kind of America Pierce warns of in his book, that we've become a nation tipped and leaning to far over the edge of pumping up our emotions for action much more so than we pump up our intellect to act prudently.

I'll trust you to read the book yourself and draw you own conclusions about whether Mr. Pierce has nailed the real America or not. I think he has.

"We came unarmed This Time" ----->

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who wears the pants?

Who wears the pants?

Why keep religion out of government...?

Here's why: No better, clear cut reason for keeping religion as far removed from government can be as easily found as this one: Sudan. 90% of the Sudanese are Muslim and Islam overwhelming influences (even crushes) that nation's politics, laws and policies.

Honestly, America! When will you open your eyes to the obvious?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Atheism and politics

Atheism and politics

Is politics at the core of our cat herding dilemma? You bet it is. So let's take a look at it.

What are the chances that two atheists will agree in every way on how to solve a particular problem? That's what we're asking in ever case where an issue of law, of national policy or of any social concern is raised. And whenever more than two atheists become involved in answering a question (outside of whether we believe in the preposterous notion of gods existing) sides will be drawn and ideas will oppose each other.

But what does this have to do with atheism? Not a damn thing except that it currently functions to push us apart rather than draw us together.

If we shy away from ourselves, from our atheist selves and our groups, because we fail to reach a unified consensus over who is right (or right wing, if you will) and who is wrong (or left across the isle, out in the cold) on any given question, political or not, we will in essence be doing ourselves a disservice.

Fear of losing our individual atheism does not stand as reason enough to avoid debate and politics. Should we fear becoming divided out of our atheism, so much so, that we find ourselves tip-toeing around keeping silent about our views in order to preserve our atheist commonness and communities? Certainly not. Atheism isn't a fragile conviction (as gods are fragile)... No! Atheism is within the core of each of us; moreover, it is set in firmly by reason, so firmly, that it will withstand any assault (short of factual god supporting evidence) to divide it out of us. Our atheism makes sense to us far more than any senselessness we may attribute to an opposing political opinion on whatever issues of the day may be under question.

Atheism must see itself as tomorrow's society, politically and socially - a society built entirely of atheists - since, in fact, that's very possibly where mankind is headed. We must embrace the political issues in need of solutions and solve them by reason, through open discourse held in open atheist forums.

Rather than stepping back from discussions over the hottest political issues of the day, fearing that we'll risk our unity as atheists in the doing, we must instead come together because those divisions exists. Our discussions and our resulting consensus (once decided) for solving any given issue weighs in importantly. We are the voices of reason. We must step up to that responsibility.

My atheist conviction isn't weak from being founded by my gut, by mere feelings. It is derived from and seated in my brain. It's there by reason of reason and its there to stay.

I have no fear of being divided away from fellow atheists or from atheism by mere political differences of opinion. Politics will always be around just as atheism will. Both are part of reality. (We can't say that about everything, can we?) I welcome political discussion with atheists. Religionists, on the other hand, belching gut driven emotions in the places where sound reasoning ought to rule, won't find a mat at my door.

Atheists: I urge you to become involved politically, both at the level of broader society, nationally and locally, as well as at ground level within our own groups. And I'll go a step father... I urge you to change the name of your regular group meeting to "Forum" and to hold open forums regularly each weekend. It's time for atheists to become the community model for why people ought to gather in mass on Saturdays and Sunday mornings. Let's set a new stage of example and give the world a better reason for weekend assembly - one of purpose. Call it Forum.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The pledge confusion of 1923

The pledge confusion of 1923

What's the plan? Before an engraver is turned loose to mar the walls of the Capitol Visitors Center unnecessarily, I'd like to know exactly how the finished engraving will appear. Has any consideration been made for the grammatical problem posed by the written pledge as opposed to its merely spoken words? If not, we may be allowing some grave (and engraved) confusion to occur if someone doesn't check this out carefully.

Let me explain:

Bellamy's original Pledge read: "I Pledge Allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all," and subsequent changes were made until it finally became the version we have today - the one that includes "under God".

The last change to the wording of the pledge, the inclusion of "under God," was made official in 1954. In fact, I remember relearning the pledge in order to accommodate the new addition and since then nothing has changed. A healthy sensible challenge was mounted at the time the wording change was brought, aimed at blocking the change. It was lead primarily by, atheist, Madelyn Murray O'Hare, but yet the change was instituted. Additional challenges have been attempted since with the most recent one to reach the courts being brought by, atheist, Michael Newdow in 2005, but there, too, failure resulted.

We currently are on the verge of spending an additional $150,000 to engrave the words "under God" into stone. That's not a whole lot of money (at least not by the way the government tends to toss dollars around) but its something, isn't it? I think we ought to look a little closer at just how the pledge is going to be written before we proceed hastily to completing the project. (If it isn't done already... There's been a virtual fever to see "God" stamped on everything.)

I suspect the engraving plan is to write the words "under god" using a capitol letter "g" ... indicating that a specific god is being referenced, and that alone ought to raise a few eyebrows (although it hasn't raised enough of the right ones so far, has it?) Yet, it's clear and becoming clearer all the time, that the "under God" insertion of 1954 wasn't a universally welcomed change at its birth and time hasn't warmed it much since - quite the opposite, in fact - partly for reasons of ambiguity.

And now consider this: There was a former change in wording made to the pledge back in 1923 which I think deserves looking at. At that time, the question was over changing the original words "my Flag" (see above).

...the National Flag Conference called for the words "my Flag " to be changed to "the Flag of the United States ". The reason given was to ensure that immigrants knew to which flag reference was being made. The words "of America " were added a year later. (Wikipedia)

It seems we have a similar confusion to settle today - and for a very, very similar reason.

People need to know exactly which god is being referenced in the pledge. Capitalizing the word "god" suggests, at least here in America and to experienced Americans who have all been taught to apply a capital "g" colloquially, implying that god is likely the god of Abraham (And there's something wrong with that to begin with...) yet to a foreign observer, a visitor, or to a new immigrant, considerable confusion may occur over the word "god" especially because its capitalized.

The situation is so similar to that of the 1923 case that it deserves a serious second thought... "under gods" might be more appropriate but "under God" is certainly not.

I remember 911


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grassroots Skeptics

Grassroots Skeptics

I've been waiting for a site like this one for quite some time. Lacking the programing skills needed to create one myself (although I've tried) I've been stuck in Limbo and frustrated by the absence of a website of this nature.

Grassroots Skeptics has given itself the task of coordinating and sharing real world experiences between already existing skeptic societies (free thinking groups; atheist, agnostic, Humanist and other non-religion focused organizations) with new start-up groups and each other. The purpose is, of course, to spread how-to knowledge and advance the development of on-the-ground skeptic societies efficiently.

More power to them... and to all of us. Pitch in and help out. You and your group can participate by sighing up here: start here.

The word "God"

The word: "God"

I must begin by giving credit to one of my sons for raising the points I'll discuss here. Most of the following was discussed in our conversation on the recent explosive trend by some currently seated congressmen for employing the word "God" at every available turn and for pasting the word "God" (and the poorly chosen national motto "In God We Trust") on virtually everything attached to an item of official government (at both the state and federal levels, no less). It was my son who pointed out the inadequacies between spoken words vs written language and the frequently misapplied substitutions of proper vs common nouns, violations of usage rules and basic no-no's of language, the combination of which almost consistently distorted the meaning one might draw from use of a single word. "God" is one of those words. Let me explain his thinking:

To be clear, I must begin by reviewing some very basic English grammar rules regarding words, and specifically to point out usages rules applying to proper nouns and common nouns. We can do this easily with examples by comparing the words "god" and "congressman" as they might be said and written.

The word "god" (little "g") is a singular common noun and it refers to any god, a god but not a specific god. Likewise the word "congressman" is singular and common and it indicates any one congressman, a congressman but not a specific congressman. Capitalized (big "g" and big "c") the same words are singular proper nouns which indicates that they refer to specific gods and specific congressmen - sorting out only one at a time from an array. While the difference may seem trivial at first glance, by taking a closer look at the differences raised and by recalling the law stated in the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution which binds our government to keeping church and state separate through not singling out one religion (or its god by default) for establishment over another, and in fact, by not establishing any religion at all (through idealizing its god or its scripture) the triviality quickly dwindles away to possibly becoming something of considerable magnitude.

It would make no sense to anyone, for example, if the phrase "In Congressman We Trust" were to become commonly used - "Congressman" indicating only a single person. "My goodness, which congressman?" might immediately be the question raised by a listener or a reader, wouldn't it? If, however, it was said, "In congressmen We Trust" and if the misuse of capitol letters was corrected across the board to make the sentence read, "In congressmen we trust," then we'd be serving ourselves to a better degree of understanding by knowing that in this case we're speaking of all congressmen. If the same sentence was spoken, however, we'd have no way of knowing whether "congressmen" was intended to mean big "c" or little "c". If the phrase was written "In Congressman Ron Paul, of Texas, we trust," there would be no guess work at all, would there?

You begin to see the point by now, I'm sure.

I won't press this English lesson any further but I'll raise this question for consideration: If clear communication is of any importance to us (and it ought to be) shouldn't we ask for it and demand that the meaning of our words be specific? I do imagine so, and I think it is especially appropriate for those acting as our public officials as well as for those keeping the public records of government in precise order to be picky on the subject. If our nation desires to advance the motto "In God We Trust" and if our congressmen (I refer to all or any of them here) have desires to banter about the word "god" for no better reason than to see it placed in the congressional record and etched on walls (Guess why!) shouldn't we at least be privileged to know precisely which god is being referenced and how that god is defined and by whom before anything is recorded into the record? Paying closer attention to the big "g's" and little "g's" might play an important part in our correct understanding of issues surrounding the word "god" and how it may be used publicly.

So... when the word "god" is tossed about by someone like Representative John Boozman (R-AR) or Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) both of whom are members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, out on the floor of the House of Representatives, it seems reasonable to ask, "Little "g" god or big "g" god?" ... "Is it Horus, the Egyptian Sun God, or Allah, the God of Islam that's being talked about?" ... "Is this a reference to The Holy Ghost, one of the four gods (including Satan) who are all recognized by the conglomerate of Christians, or is big "g" god indicating Yahweh, the God of Israel?" ... "Is it Thor or Zeus from the ancient Norse and Greek cultures in question, or is the god reference being spoken meant to identify Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Rama, Parvati, Umma, Durga, Kali, Shakti, Hanuman, Lakshmi, Prithvi, Shakti, or Ganesha or another of the hundreds of available Hindu gods?"

You do see the point, don't you?

Let's be more clear in the future, shall we? It is entirely valid these days to inquire, "Which god?" especially for the the purpose of discussions held by and between congressmen, so let's do that. Let's ask and ask always to know the details - to see the fine print before we sign on to anything. And for cases of big "g" gods, lets specifically ask for names.

And on that subject of print, who is the big "g" god printed on our currency? I wonder - officially, that is. Honestly, I'd like to know... especially since, without being effectively allowed a realistic voice of objection, my own personal opinion on the matter appears to have been decided for me in default - my liberty truncated - as expressed in the word "we" and said in the motto "In God We Trust". For the record: Personally I don't trust God (big "g") whoever or whatever that may be to other people, nor do I trust or have any personal god-notion; I find no reason to think that gods exist. I do, on the other hand, trust reasonable people of integrity; and I wonder lately, are there any left to the right side of the isle in the Congress of the United States of America? If so, I wish they'd stand to be recognized and to show their honesty by living up to their promise to protect and defend the constitution.

Realistically speaking, it's time to publicly de-emphasize the importance of our god-notions and to divest our nation of self-defeating obligations, of the mere feelings it has, that our country must continue to publicly display the ambiguously worded, belatedly adopted, poor choice for a national motto "In God We Trust" which now stands to divide us. It is, and it always has been, offensive to some, pointless (or at best) confusing to others, and here recently it has now become a de-harmonizing political and social weapon - a tool of divisiveness in party politics, a discordant civil rallying flag for some, an eye sore for some others, and worst of all, it is a growing threat against preserving the power of our democratic government to rule rationally and without interferences from and concessions to god-belief.

Think it over, folks... Congress. Are gods (little "g" gods meaning any god) so worthy of our adoration that we should risk so much to advertise them?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Take aim at room 219

Take aim at room 219

There is a growing cancer in the Capital and its nidus is room 219.

The Congressional Prayer Caucus must be examined critically and carefully to answer the question of its true purpose for being. Does it exist to act as a virtual prayer room within the Capitol and if so, which religions and which gods are to be worshiped... and, holy cows, is it proper for the government to provide places of prayer on public property using tax-payer money to do so? I truly suspect that if these questions were to be seriously posed for open debate on the floor of congress they will reveal some less than palatable possibilities for maintaining room 219. If the specific purposes of room 219 are allowed to remain as relatively undefined as they are today, the cancer of a state sponsored religion will soon become metastatic. I'm wondering why nothing of this has been addressed so far.

Maintaining the separation of church and state is a very serious matter which if left unwatched could lead to a collapse of our entire system of democratic government. Our country has so far stood firmly and thrived well by maintaining secularity as its single order of rule. Do we now want to weaken the strength of the nations ability to decide issues by establishing religion(s) within the government? Is that what "We the People" desire?

Congress: Examine and define the purpose for maintaining room 219.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The congressional caucus of trickery, deception and Christian propaganda.

The congressional caucus of trickery, deception and Christian propaganda.

Headed up by Virginia's Republican Congressman Randy Forbes and filled-in by a handful of other over-the-top Christian zealots from a variety of states including my own state of Arkansas, the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Capitol Hill's current collection of nutjobs and oddballs, are busy at doing everything they can to undermine an America which has stood successfully for more than two hundred years; and, they're doing it... not honestly but effectively.

It's time to take notice.

For a taste of their deceptiveness, I'll yield to Chris Rodda and an article she posted back in February of this year: Christian Nationalist Congressman Randy Forbes Is At It Again

Since then, only half the year ago, these prayer guys and gals of congress have managed to introduce (quite creatively) a couple of additional ways to insert "God" into government. A proposal for establishing "America's Spiritual Heritage Week" kept the nation's representatives busy shadow boxing for a while and it was soon followed up by a solid right-wing hook - the successful passage of a bill to engrave the late-in-coming 1862 words "In God We Trust" and the pledge of allegiance including its even-later-arrival of "under God" from 1954 on the Capitol Visitors Center walls.

What's up with these guys? Why are they so hell-bent to see "God" plastered on everything? Why are they so anxious to "... form an unbroken spiritual prayer wall around our nation," as they tell their would-be supporters?

The answer is an easy one... because "God" wasn't meant to be there from the start. If documents had personal beliefs or convictions, The United States Constitution would call itself atheist. Our Founding fathers were wise enough to see the danger of mixing religion and government and they quite purposely left the idea of gods and the word "God" completely out of the constitution. "God" isn't there anywhere, and the Congressional Prayer Caucus folks are ballistic to hide the fact. They're so nuts, actually, that they're willing to do a bit of fibbing, propagandizing and slight-of-hand tricks to get their way.

I suggest that they ought to worry a lot less about seeing our nations god-believers bolstered up by smearing everything with "spiritual this-and-that language" and the word "God". They'd do better to review a few Disney classics (Pinocchio seems appropriate) and learn from a better American, Walt Disney. Disney was a Christian who knew and respected the strength of our nations religious diversity. He knew our American history and was honesty enough to tell it how it was.

As for the rest of us... Sit up. Wake up. There are some unethical monkeys down from the trees and running all over the hill.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The atheist religion?

Does it take fire to fight fire?

If dampening the influence of the major God-based religions is a desired goal of the atheist movement, should atheists actively compete through religions all their own?

Humanism seems poised to do just that. Its groups are spotted across the country and they've taken up roots in nearly ever state. The philosophy of Humanism is entirely non-theist and it furthermore abjectly rejects supernatural belief out of hand. But does that make it an ideal religion for atheists? The answer seems to be "Yes" and "No".

Atheists universally agree that reality is a godless thing. The very meaning for the word atheist is "No God" and recognizing that ought to mean that Humanism is, indeed, the rightful philosophy of atheism - the atheist religion, in essence. And yet there are rubs.

Tossing in the idea that nothing at all supernatural exists anywhere in the universe is one of the conditions that sets a portion of atheists apart from Humanism since there are plenty of atheists who claim spirituality in spite of having no god. (How they manage the mental gymnastics of such belief is beyond me... yet there it is.)

Another objection to accepting Humanism as the atheist religion is the word religion itself. Although the American Humanist Association doesn't use the word religion to describe itself directly, some of the structures of religion are at the base of its model. Similarly, in the article Outside faith, a rising tide of 'nones' by Jay Tokasz and published by The Buffalo New, of New York, discussing the growth of "nones" (people who "check" non-religious on surveys of belief inquiry) the same profile is applied to the crop of ten Center For Inquiry communities which have popped up across the country. Darren E. Sherkat, a sociologist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, recognizes that "[Center For Inquiry communities are] religious only in a slight sense. They are confronting issues of morality and the purpose of human life, but they don't do it with God..." I can only guess that he would make a very similar statement about all Humanist communities including those of the American Humanist Association.

So what's the call...? Is the atheist movement in a head-to-head battle for popularity with religion? Are we on the verge of becoming something more than just a body of loosely connected non-believing "nones" - cats yet to be herded under the roof of humanism, the atheist church? The answer is very possibly "Yes" and we'll find out in due time by keeping a close eye on groups like the Center For Inquiry and the American Humanist Association.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Revisions for the Bible:

Revisions for the Bible:

This is a hoot. The Bible is going to get an overhaul. Bible to be revised. But does anyone feel like guessing what's likely to be revised? Hmmm. Let's imagine.

Let's guess that Moses won't part the Red Sea this time around; rather, the crossing will be made by boat or bridge. And let's guess that Jesus won't be born of virgin birth; but rather, his birth will be an ordinary more believable event. And let's toss in the resurrection, just for laughs. There's no reason to keep that tired old story in the Bible since it's entirely unbelievable anyhow. Did I leave out anything...? (... like the entire remainder of the book?)

Oh well... That should do it for now. Even those few deletions will make the book a better and more accurate reflection of reality, won't they. So now, let's all sit back and see if I'm right.

Gosh and golly, I can hardly wait... Someone has finally seen fit to stop spreading the same old lies and fairytales. It's about time.

They just don't get it...

They just don't get it...

Discussions on atheism and religion will frequently bring theists around to the idea that atheism is a religion. Atheist Camel has put it into his version of a twisted Christian equation for us: "Non-belief = religion".

Nothing could be less true, of course, and that's part of the reason why atheists turn to pretending belief in some rather ridiculous notions of gods like the flying spaghetti monster in order to mock religion.

Belief requires "a something" in which to place ones faith. Atheism doesn't offer any "somethings". Atheism is quite simply the notion that "gods" are fantasy. That's it.

If atheists desire to believe in "a something" (and there's no reason to think that we do) than "something" must first present itself with either undeniable evidence of its actual being or by some other means, show itself clearly through demonstrable cause and effect existence.

The closest things I can think of to any sort of god-figures might be gravity or infinite space or absolute oblivion or the like. And gosh, since those things already have names, why call them "gods".

In any case, theists who tend to see atheists as people who "religiously believe in nothing" just don't get it, do they!?

Godless tens

Can we have a new bill, please?

It really bugs me that billions of dollars in new currency are printed each year and every darn one of them is defaced by the motto "In God We Trust".  Every last one!

Couldn't congress find it fitting to act on this imbalance and make a teeny-tiny concession to godless Americans?  Good gosh.  Certainly one of our coin or currency denominations could be sacrificed as an appeasement...
honor Thomas Paine
It isn't like non-believers are wanting to see "Hail Satan" cast on our coinage; it isn't a case of desiring that "Down with God" is being asked for; there's no call for any anti-religious slogan to replace the motto that's being printed on every dollar bill.  Honestly, I don't get it.  What seems so wrong with not printing "In God We Trust" on (let's say...) ten-dollar bills?  What would be so wrong with stamping out the future run of minted nickles without the words "In God We Trust" imposed on them?  The whole business is so one sided.

There are other perfectly acceptable American mottoes that could be employed if "something" must be selected to fill in the voided space.  Pick one, or not.

It really is high time for our government to show a little spine on this issue.  "God" is not a generic idea everyone can believe-in.  It's time to start making a few changes.       


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