Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christians know...

Christians know...

It looks like they're finally getting it. They've been getting less and less popular by the day and finally they're catching on to why.

Have you heard of the Barna Group... and David Kinnaman? David is the group's president. The group is a Christian research company. And the newest research is that the news for Christianity isn't so good. I read this article on teen skepticism.

"UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity... and Why it Matters" is the title David Kinnaman chose for his new book - a book about how the perception of Christianity has been changing over the course of several generations and most rapidly over the past ten years. Importantly, moreover, is that the trending line for Christian popularity has been on a downward slope. "Outsiders" (as David tags non-Christians) are on the rise - no news there - but now there's research from "insiders" suggesting why. And guess what, there's really no new news there either...

What David Kinnaman and his research group have been finding out sounds just exactly like what atheists have been saying forever: Christianity is judgmental, hypocritical, old hat and way to involved in politics.

But here's a little something that may wet your whistle to read Mr Kinnaman's book anyhow: Christian teens, the book promises to claim, have the same complaints about Christianity as there counterpart "outsider" friends. Now that's an interesting finding, isn't it!?

It does appear, at last, that Christian researchers, or at least this group of them, are getting it. Christianity is growing negatively for good reasons. Let's hope the news spreads to the ordinary Joe Biblethumper on the street. I know I wouldn't mind (in the least way) seeing some Christian change take place from within - less judgmental-ism, less hypocrisy, a lot less emphasis on old notions and less (oops... make that NO) political nosiness - these are all on my wish list for Christian change. But I guess I ought to add one more, eh? How about less ov'em. Yea, that would work...

Halloween ... Eeeek! It must have been the work of a ghost.

Halloween ... Eeeek! It must have been the work of a ghost.

Unless you're a totally over-the-top believer of ghosts, ghouls, goblins (and gods, including Jesus H. Christ) Halloween is a great time to have a little family and community fun. But apparently that's not how Pat Robertson's CBN sees it.

According to bloggers, Trian Hoaks and "Hump" (Atheist Camel) an article written by Kimberly Daniels and published on CBN blasted the traditional Halloween fun as being a night filled with the doings of Satan - even the candy is suspect of being demonic according to Daniels.

But what's this...? The article has suddenly gone missing. Could it have been a ghost at work? (LOL) I doubt it. I suspect Pat's site was getting a tad to many negative hits...

Courage of conviction must not be a virtue, eh?

But so what... What are you waiting for...? Its Halloween! Toss on a bed sheet, cut a couple of eye holes and go out trick-or-treating. Just have fun. That's what Halloween is for.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One small step of reason... one giant leap over taxpayer-paid faith-healing.

One small step of reason... one giant leap over taxpayer-paid faith-healing.

This is something religionists have to get comfortable with: Reasonable decision making. Our congress has recently acted to scratch-out all clauses pertaining to "paid medical faith-healing" and "paid spiritual healing" from its upcoming health care reform bill... Thank reason.

Religionists on the whole won't likely not be very surprised by the news. It's not like congress is saying don't pray for your sick friends (since everyone knows prayer doesn't work.) What they're saying instead is, we know prayer doesn't work so we're not letting tax money pay for it. You see, there isn't any difference between the two positions stated with regard to the effectiveness of prayer, yet there remains a difference... individual liberty is protected. People who want to pray can continue to act stupidly and believe in prayer if they like. Those who want to beat drums, shake rattles, make smoke and chant or bend their knees and clasp their hands to save their sick and dieing relatives, can... and the public won't have to pay for it. That's good for all of us.

That's how reason works for everyone and I hope believers will get use to the idea that our legal system isn't "out to do them wrong" but rather it is out to make reasoned decision based on evidence and to protect the remainder of society from being forced into taking any part in or paying for stupidity. And that's KOOL, isn't it...!?


Desire for reason:

Desire for reason:

People, religious people, are always on about why their atheists, agnostics and non-religious counterparts are who they are. The ask the silliest questions with regard to why non-belief is attractive - things like "Why can't you just believe?" and "Don't you feel uncomfortable not knowing?" Ugh! The list goes on, of course.

In addition, believers and religionists frequently tend to reissue how they hear non-believers answering their oddball queries by adding-in their own insulating posits - pock shots plucked completely out of the blue. They say, "You probably do believe and don't know it yet," and "You're just being stubborn right now." I guess it's their way of buffering the acidity of meeting a real non-believer face to face. I've been told by religionists and believers, contradicted straight-up immediately after saying that I'm atheist, that I'm not... as if they might know my mind better than I do. "Oh, you're not really atheist. You're probably agnostic." Jeez... that irks me! Case in point example: Oprah.

Non-believers seek reason. We're very acutely aware of the difference between sloppy guess-work thinking, reiterated junk ideas, and their far more accurate opposite: evidence based opinion; and we're honest about it. When it happens, its an outrageously frustrating experience to encounter the persistent unreason believers so often offer in conversation. The urge to speak up with bruit rebuttal is sometimes difficult to corral.

So, why are atheists and no-believers who we are... why are we opposed to religious thinking and belief... (and let's hope a few believers read this) the answer is simple: it's because belief is dumb.

And now, fellow heathens, here's a breathe of hope... a very up-lifing evidence based reason to trust that things are getting better. Indiana University has just hosted Richard Dawkins on campus and he drew an unexpected packed house... Reason seeking is on the rise. Thank goodness! Lets hope it continues and becomes pandemic. Read it and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Larry David pissed...?

Larry David pissed...?

This whole Larry David pissing on an image of Jesus is so loony. All the Christian twitter-bugs have gone nuts with declarations of personal disgust and promises to never ever watch HBO or Larry David again... NOT EVER! Well... whatever.

The funny art about the story isn't pissing on Jesus but the reaction of the old bags who thought the piss-picture was a miracle. They saw a tear drop - not a piss drop. Good gosh ladies... it's a bathroom! Which is more likely? A picture crying real tears or an off-course sprinkle of golden dew, i.e., PISS?

It's just a show, of course... scripted for laughs, but when you stop to think that humor has its roots in truth - that it's often a clear a reflection of reality - the reaction of the little old Christian ladies is pitiful, isn't it.

Anyhow, I personally don't think a piss drop on Jesus is going to make a whole lot of difference to anyone in a week or so... so Christians, enjoy being pissed today and move on tomorrow. It's no big deal... its only another joke played at the expense of your Lord and Master (and on you, of course, for believing such nonsense.)

Say "HELL NO" to Voodoo

Say "HELL NO" to Voodoo

The country is getting closer to passing its long waited for Public Health Care program... reform a that can't be put off any longer. But there's a rub... It's called Voodoo Medicine/Faith Healing.

Believe it or not, there are still some wacko politicians who are willing to push for paid prayer - Faith Healing - and it just can't stand.

Most of the intelligent people of the world know, even if not by first hand experience, that real medicine and faith healing are a world apart in their ability to effectively restore health to ailing individuals. Smoke, incense, chanting, drum beats, clasped hands, bent knees, tightly closed eyes (that look remarkably like the blind eyes of Pat Robertson) are NOT efficacious treatment methods for disease. Faith Healing KILLS.

I generally don't encourage action taking as direct as this.... Take action! This has got to be stopped before it kills again. Click the link and send an email to your congressperson NOW.

(On a similar question: Isn't it also about time to protect the public from wasting money and risking health on nut-job Chiropractors, too?)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hurray for Hillary... and Whoa!

Hurray for Hillary... and Whoa!

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton wields a lot of muscle around the world. What she says has clout to it. Well, she's spoken up boldly for liberty and I have to applaud her and the Obama administration for taking the stand they have.

The question: Is is okay to talk bad about religion, i.e., blaspheme? The answer: YES.

Working internationally through the UN, a virtual union of Islamic led nations has been seeking world support to suppress individual rights that express opinions in opposition to Islam. Simply put, Islamic regimes want world support to punish (... and punish severely) those people who blaspheme their god, Allah. Hillary says: "I strongly disagree." Hurray for Hilliary!

Adding fuel to the fires that this US policy might have ignited in the Islamic world, at least one US news reporter, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, a Catholic, has come on strong with a column that smacks of saber rattling. His opinion on the recent "merger" between Catholicism and the Anglican Church is that it forms a unified Christian front against a common "foe," Islam.

It is doubtful Mrs. Clinton had any knowledge of Douthat's article at the time she made her statement... why would she? But the timing couldn't have been worse. Between the official news from the US state and which came out of a widely read and respected news columnist, Allah's devoted servants took a whopping kicking in the rear yesterday. Their reaction is still to come. Let's hope they respond reasonably.

(For getting the flavor of Islamic punishment, this link leads to videos showing people receiving their just punishment under Islamic law. Videos Not recommended viewing for the faint of heart.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Persecution confusion:

Persecution confusion:

The religious minded just don't get it, do they? They really, really don't see how they've been more than privileged here in the United States and now they're either pleading for tolerance or claiming persecution - eyes closed the whole while.

Non-religious people and people of religious beliefs not connected to Christianity are making our ways into the public arena. We're claiming our right to advertise publicly and to have our say over how society and the government ought to be. There's noting wrong with that - nothing! Yet it seems that every turn brings on vociferous objection from the Christian fundamentalist right and from some moderates, too.

Atheists complained from the outset that "In god We trust" on coin and currency and "under God" in the pledge were unrepresentative of our views. We fought then, through the single voice of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, that it was a mistake on the part of government to yield so much to Christianity. Well, we're still fighting, but now the tactics have changed a tad and it isn't only Madalyn speaking out.

Our organizations have been forming up and our memberships have been rising; as a result, the special treatment of favoritism for Christianity is feeling threatened. Suddenly they seek tolerance (or is it mercy)... just imagine... while we seek only a level playing field.

If churches are allowed to advertise their messages on billboards and buses, so are non-religionists. If religions can push their agendas to have prayer invocations at public meetings, prayer in schools and seek the teaching of ID/creationism in schools, atheists can protest and file court suits. The days of Easy Street Christianity are gone.

The non-religious have new strength. We aren't quite at parity with religion but we're getting there. And it isn't persecution or intolerance being felt by religionists - it's only fairness and equality. So what are the religions complaining about? They're complaining about their own PANIC...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

When will reality come crashing in...?

When will reality come crashing in...?

The long and the short of things are seldom hard to discover if one decides to look. Debunking religion's touts for the "all powerful" ability of their gods are no exception. And religionists would do well to become aware of this truth. Where doubt raises questions, those questions deserve inspection.

I was reminded of this by reading the current post from reporter, Trina Hoaks: "God not responsible for morality - Window cleaner is". Trina dug up a research study rooted at Brigham Young University and led by researcher Katie Liljenquist, which seems to indicate that we're socially motivated to be "morally better" people whenever there's a scent of citrus spritz in the air. Trina's call: Window cleaner spritz- 1|God- 0.

Frans de Waal and his study to expose the moral character of monkey behaviors, those pro-social traits of morality that monkeys very certainly possess, might now move ahead to reach a whole new level of findings by merely adding a touch of mist to the experimental controls. And who knows, by such a simple addition of citrus spritz perhaps de Wall's little primate friends will show us their efforts to organize themselves at forming-up new charitable unions for the salvation of cageless deprived alcoholic monkeys. I can see it now... monkey's in Santa suits, all ringing bells on every street corner.

In any case, my point is this: Seek and ye shall find. If you're willing to look for evidences for the causes of morality, or for any other unanswered question, if your head isn't doing the ostrich buried in-a-hole thing, you may discover that the heretofore assumptions that Goddidit have been wrong. In the case of morality, the exclusive link between gods and goodness aren't quite as exclusive as they've been claimed to be. Morality isn't necessarily god-given.

If only a few more studies of these types can be brought to light, we might turn the heads of a few more god-believers... and if a few more god-believers pay attention to their own doubts we may see that happening sooner rather than to late... And, that's my hope.

Yeah science!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Laughable and outrageous, too.

Laughable and outrageous, too.

I seriously hope a few Christians read this article, "Lashes for Saudi woman journalist," highlighting sex and the intolerance Islam has for it. Should that happen, I wouldn't imagine a single jaw could remain anything but slacked and widly agape. No doubt, when it comes to sex and a sickening attitudes toward women, the Saudis are living with their heads somewhere in the clouds right along with their made-up god.

Well guess what, Christian readers... you're no better. It's your aim to make women go to term with their unwanted pregnancies; you routinely brainwash your children to believe sex is a bad, bad thing; and you treat gays and lesbians in the same ill manor as the Saudi's treated the poor people of the article sighted above.

Here's a good thing to keep in mind. It's from good 'ole Mark Twain:


Friday, October 23, 2009

Scientists say: New Force

Scientists say: New Force

Astronomers are looking at a whole new set of possibilities for understanding the history of the universe. It's been, up-until-now, an unknown force.

They aren't saying they have a clear handle on it, but they think they're on to something. The newly discovered force is still being identified - its an attraction somewhat like gravity - and it acts between visible matter and dark matter, sort of like helping one thing keep tabs of the other.

The new force hasn't even been named yet. This could be fun, eh? Since the discovery involves 'a something' able to act on dark matter, perhaps calling it Voldemort might do?

Unfortunately for some, no mention of gods came up in the scientist's discussion and no evidence for creation was mentioned. Alas, that Bozo bucket still remains empty. Sorry Bible freaks, but that's how it goes for you and your favorite failed hypothesis when you allow your brain to stay permanently paper clipped to the bronze age. Better luck next time; chin up, tumpers.

For the rest of us, thank science; thank reason. We'll be waiting to learn more.

The British speak openly of religion.

The British speak openly of religion.

British politicians have much the same problem as American politicians - they have to soft-shoe dance around the touchy subject of belief - yet not quit as much. The subject of faith and its usefulness to society is on the lips of British politicians with much greater ease than it is here in the states. They're way ahead of the US on this set of issues.

Recently, John Denham, the British Minister for Communities, met before a gathering of his countries religious leaders and he spoke generous toward religion, saying that it had merit in society. What Mr. Denham neglected to say, however, was his real message. He didn't, and likely would not ever, imply that religion had any right to think itself worthy of speaking from society's center stage, i.e., he did not clothe religion as a close adviser to or as a worthy arm of the official government.

Here's an excerpt form The British National Secular Society newsletter:

Mr Denham may be a "secular humanist" but, like the Government he represents, he is not prepared to utter the truth that often religion is the problem, not the answer. In fact he said that society should "welcome and celebrate the expression of faith in the public sphere". He denied that the Government has a secularist agenda. He assured the "faith leaders" that there was no intention to sideline believers – a claim that had been made by his Tory shadow, Baroness Warsi.

She said that there was a "growing intolerance and illiberal attitude towards those who believe in God".

Of these two Brits, I'd say Ms. Warsi has the correct measure of things and, too, Mr Denham is speaking appropriately and honestly. Both are right. Religion is a worthy component within society, as Mr. Denham and Ms. Warsi might agree. But it is also finally being recognized, intolerantly, just as Ms. Warsi says, as being an institution without a rightful place for doing the business of governing.

I'd say, all's well in the Isles... And our American politicians might do well to keep their ears turned across the sea. There are a few good lessons to be learned there.

Oklahoma is at it again.

Oklahoma is at it again.

I don't know what it is about the Christian Okies that makes them so darn stupid about pushing their religiousity on others but they sure do it a lot.

They've tried, in the recent past, to get 'Ten Commandment' monuments placed on public properties dotted in towns across the state including their state capital mall; thay made a big stink about a Hundu elephant god that decorates a display at a state zoo; and now... they're trying to mess with the private rights between patient and doctor, individual and state, to expose women who opt for abortion.

Good gosh. What is it with these people?

A bill pending before the state congress has been designed to publicly display all but the individual names of the women who undergo abortion. The new law requires that women seeking abortion must answer "37 questions," all the answers of to be made publicly available over the internet. The very sound of such a notion smacks of an attempt to stigmatize a single segment of society.

Opponents to the bill make this point: Releasing enough information of the descriptive details of an abortion cases in a small towns, as this new bill calls for, could result in a great deal of finger-pointing at those who might have been involved. In a word: intimidation. That isn't very nice and it may not be constitutional.

Thank reason, that this bill is likely to be put under the microscope prior to it getting much farther along. Let's hope someone doing the looking comes to their full senses on the issue.

The author of the bill, Oklahoma State Rep. Dan Sullivan, says, "If there's something that we can do to positively impact that segment of that population [those where abortion is highest] -- and have a lowering effect on those rates -- then we want to be able to look at what policy decisions we can make..."

I have to ask, "Why?" What's so bad about opting to abort an unwanted pregnancy? ... and please don't tell me it's a question of money saving. Its a known fact that the cost to states for terminating pregnancy is far less than the cost to support a neglected or impoverished kid. And if money saving is the issue, there's a whopping $50 million being spent around the country - virtually wasted money - that has the lofty (and ludicrous) goal of convincing high school teens that abstinence is and effective birth control method. Let's get real, eh? Is there anything more idiotic than that? Perhaps someone should tell Representative Dan Sullivan.

So... let's keep and ear pressed to the ground, listening carefully. The Okie Christian herd are still un-corraled and blindly stampeding the state.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Official policy ... but not good policy

Official policy ... but not good policy

It looks like the Lodi, California, city council is prepared to fight it out. They've taken a stand to allow uncensored religious invocations, including naming Jesus Christ, as the kick-off play for their city council meetings. In essence, they've giving more latitude to religion and to the invocational speakers the select rather than less, as was apparently hoped for by Karen Buchanan, the area resident who first contacted Freedom From Religion Foundation about Lodi's prayer-loaded meeting habits.

We'll all have to wait and see what happens next, but my guess is that this is going to become another done deal case that ought fall on the side of "ya can't do that, boys and girls - not even for Jeaus." The law is pretty clear on this.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Church merger...

Church merger...

This is a telling sign that religion, and even the biggest churches, are on the rocks. ... Mergers...

The Vatican threw out the welcome mat, finally, for its failing friend in need and the Anglican church responded joyfully. But why are we seeing this sort of thing? Don't these two giants of spiritual guidance (choke, choke, gag...) have a history of stand-offishness? Haven't they been at odds for hundreds of years? ... If memory serves, they have. Repeatedly, the main event bout has been the arch Bishop of Canterbury vs the Pope... Funny, isn't it, that this should end?

Yet now things are different. Suddenly, Archbishop John Hepworth, primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, is extending his praise and thanks to the Pope, saying of him that he has acted with "great goodness". There's a switch...

Well... great goodness and golly gosh! What's happened? What's behind this strange bedfellows "merger".

It's taken years of petitioning and negotiation to arrive at, of course, but arriving was sure to be. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglicans haven't been blind to their own declining numbers of devoted followers. And that means less money in the collection plate. Yet there's more.

Both the Catholics and the Anglicans have seen hard times for reasons in addition to having fewer believers to swindle; they've had other troubles, too. The Australian Anglican church, for example, has seen its one time two-hundred million dollar stock portfolio dwindle to a mere forty million... Can you say, "ouch"? The Catholic Pope has, of course, been on the hook to pay off scores of sexual child molestation law suits, all the result of the churches' own doing by harboring and protecting secret stables of pedophile priests. No... money hasn't been as easy for the churches in recent years. Not easy at all.

Just as any failing businessman would, church leaders have been on the look out for ways to consolidate and save their sinking ships.... Panic, concession and mergers seem to be included in the straws their willing to grab. It's a sign of the times and a hint of a future with more downsizing changes to come.

As for my own tastes in this: Bring it on. The sooner the better.

.... I wonder, Do you think that one day the arch Biship and the Pope will become bunk mates? ... trade dresses and swap hats?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tripe, anyone...?

Tripe, anyone...?

One of the greatest shortcomings of today's society is its apparently insatiable apatite for second helpings of tripe. "Leg pulling" has never seen better days.

Susan Jacoby's "The Age of American Unreason" offers an insightful vista, from high mountain trickle to sea level ocean front terminus, of just how our society managed to flow its way steadily to its current unintellectual low-brow present. Hers is a wonderful book. Read it.

I imagine it's fair to say Susan might agree with me on the following: Religion, being something one must take entirely on faith, grooms each of us (or at least tries to) as 'believers' for having a willingness to accept as fact whatever we're given and to acquire an apatite of greediness ready to swallow almost everything, hook line and sinker. And I contend that this, as one of religion's greatest priorities and foremost conditionings upon our habit forming and upon our psyche, stands strongly to the detriment of societies best interest. Think Pavlov's dogs here: we want to believe so badly, that even the questions we raise ourselves cause us to drool for an answer - any answer.

Religion has, purposefully or not, made people want to believe...want to be gullible... or want to be stupid, if you'd prefer that level of value.

I'll lift a quick example of the kind of thing I'm talking about, of an any-answer-will-do example, from Charles Pierce's book, "Idiot America". In order to believe the unbelievable stories of the Bible, one must be willing to accept a few fill in-the-blank conjectures. He must invent them himself or be told them by others, but in either case, he must have them and swallow them just as he would any tripe in order to satisfy (and plug up) his reasons to question further.

Pierce visited the creation museum early on in its short history and was fascinated with the ludicrous mixture of dinosaurs and humans - he had a few good laughs over it, I'm sure. At one point he asked about the difficulty Noah must have faced when he realized he not only had a host of common animals to load upon his ark, scores of them by the pair, but he also had a bulky heard of dinosaurs to contend with. Pierce asked Ken Ham, the creator and curator of the museum, just how this dilemma might have been solved. Ham quickly answered, Noah selected only the youngest dinosaurs, the smaller ones. (Never mind that there are some 862 to 1256 variety of them all...) They were little enough to fit.

Any question? Any answer. Done deal.

If you can believe Ken Ham's contrived answer, it's because you want to... but I'm here to tell you - if you believe this you might, and perhaps you will, believe anything. And that is what religion wants of you.

****UPDATE: Willingness to believe is dangerous. Case in point (... and this is happening right now): Sweatbox religion causes deaths

Its time to tax the preachers.

Its time to tax the preachers.

Great News... Paying off the national debt might still be possible.

It's about time someone's taken notice. Preachers are getting paid to do nothing and they are tax exempt on top of it.

Well... drop your beads and bookmark your Bibles, preacher man. Your cushy jobs may not be so cushy, in the future.

Trina Hoaks reports the details of the news here: FFRF sues IRS, Geithner and California over 'Minister of Gospel' tax benefits. I adore Trina's reporting. Did you catch how she researched the sentiment of the original writer of the 55 year old law? Giving away a free tax ride, wrote then U.S. Rep. Peter Mack, author of the amendment, " not too much to do for these people who are caring for our spiritual welfare." B A R F, G A G and C H O K E

This is exactly the kind of special treatment extended to religion that must come to an abrupt and final ending.

No more nonsense!

Don't Renew Mine, Thanks.

Don't renew mine.

The Global Catholic Network passed on this message: "Trying to engage the world but forgetting what is distinctively Catholic has "wreaked havoc on the Church." The message is from Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Souix City, Iowa, in his first pastoral letter, "Ecclesia Semper Reformanda".

The title is Latin. It means, The Church is Always in Need of Renewal. Oh really...? Well, if the church is "always in need of renewal" as the Bishop states, I wonder if it's occurred to him that perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with the church?

"We need holy families, lest the Church and the world perish," he claims. [emphasis added]

The world .. ! .. like, does he mean the whole world? Holy cows, is the church really that important, Bishop?

Here's an excerpt of the Bishops thoughts:

We have a grave responsibility to build up and nurture holy families in our midst... We must do so by strengthening their Catholic faith, identity, and culture through ... sustained preaching and well-crafted pastoral ministry programs. We must give concrete help against the corrosive effects of pre-marital promiscuity, cohabitation, contraception and abortion, pornography industry, easily executed divorce, and infidelity.

Hmmm... Let's take a closer look at what the Bishop is seeking. He wants less (or no) sex before marriage, no living together, no birth control use, no abortion, no dirty pictures, no divorce, and no screwing your neighbor's spouse or the babysitter.

Gosh. None of this sounds new, does it? Apparently the Bishop is really serious. He wants all the old hat stuff of Christianity repackaged and resold. You'd think a better plan could be worked out, eh?

In a society where things like divorce and pre-marital sex are common, wouldn't it make better sense to somehow accommodate and repair the woes they bring with then rather than to think its justifiable to condemn such things altogether? They haven't, so far, gone away as a result of applying that tired out been-there-done-that method, have they? So, perhaps we'd be wiser, for example, to make changes in the divorce laws ... or better yet, to make changes to the marriage laws. And, SEX?... What's with all this preoccupation on sex? When will the church learn that sex is normal and natural?

I don't see how anything of the Bishop's renewal plan that has any real chance of "saving the world" but I didn't really believe his estimation of the world being truly at risk as a result of the decreasing numbers of Catholic families was for real in the first place. I think the Bishop is only expressing his P A N I C over the possibility that HIS job and HIS cushy lifestyle are in the balance.

His additional statements didn't win me over either:

... we must also guard against and equip families to resist the breakdown of the family that sometimes happens through over activity, the domination of communication technologies and novelties, and the cult of fun and entertainment, to name just a few dangers."

Um... what's he saying here? 'Don't use the phone or the internet or watch TV... and stop having fun.'

Yeah right, Bishop. You do that. But leave me out of it.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Fuck!

Don't Fuck!

"Don't Fuck!" That's it! That's the $50 million per year lesson being taught as the main course of government paid Abstinence Only Sex Education... or is it more?

If 'Don't Fuck' is all that's being taught, why does it cost so darn much to teach it? "No running in the building" is an equivalent lesson and it doesn't cost a dime extra to teach. "Don't spit on the floor" is likewise a virtual freebee... and so is "Keep your hands to yourself". So what's up with 'Don't Fuck'? What makes teaching that particular 'no no' so gosh darn expensive?

My guess is that not all the money paid into that program is being spent on this simple message alone. I'll stick my neck out and bet that there are a few other messages being taught along side... things like 'God wants you to remain a virgin' and "Sex is an unholy act for unmarried people'. And, good gosh, even add-ons like those shouldn't cost even a penny more than they're worth (... by my math, that would make the whole business amount to zilch.)

Currently, $50 million dollars per year is going into this BS program and its going almost exclusively to parochial schools. This is nonsense... religious nonsense!

It's time to draw the line on this program. It's time to say NO FUCKING WAY are we spending another dime on this or anything like it.

New doubt? New course!

New doubt? New course!

One of the areas of difference between belief and non-belief arises wherever "doubt" does. What I mean here is that theists have a different formula for settling doubts than non-theists. And lets be wise: Our occasions of doubt are valuable. They raise awareness for new opportunities to learn. So let's take care to deal carefully with doubt.

Given any theist on the skids, someone who is having doubt about what his religious leaders and his holy books have told him, the recommended remedy for the doubter's dilemma is one of the following: pray, go to church, read the scriptures, seek religious counseling... (There may be variation on this but for the most part, that's it.)

Given any non-religionist who gets an urge or an idea that he may have missed the boat by not believing, the usual solution to his dilemma is to inquire into the validity of why he hesitates to believe and to look at what religion offers.

Although the ground that both the back-sliding believer and the non-believing agnostic rest on may be the same, for example: they may both question the effectiveness of intercessory pray, the approach each takes to settling his mind over the matter are quite different. The doubting religionist, almost in a knee-jerk reponse, returns to the beginning point of his beliefs to re-establish his faith without judging the merits of his doubt;. His aim is to restore his faith. no questions asked. The non-believing agnostic, questions his own reasoning. He examines his doubt, its originating cause and the evidence upon which that doubt was derived. He validates or not; and then, he proceeds to extend his examination into studying that which religion claims, examining it and judging it critically against his own current disbelief. It is by these differing processes that differing results emerge for theists and non-believers in doubt.

The clear difference here is found in the word "question" and in ones attitude toward questioning. Religionists are intolerant of questioning. Non-theists aren't - they thrive on questions and learn from their investigations into them.

If the doubting religionist took the approach of the non-believing agnostic, would he become agnostic? The chances are high that he would. On the hand of the non-believing agnostic who already practices critical examination, the chance that he will become a "true believer" stand few unless he chooses to abandon his habit (his good habit) of using his intellect to make thoughtful judgments upon answering the questions of his own doubt.

Clearly, I'm not inclined to think the typical religionists solution to solve back-sliding - that applying "more religion" to rekindle the fire - is a good one... at least, it isn't a good one for the individual. Preachers will undoubtedly disagree. And therein is the rub.

I think it's time to set a new course for settling religious doubt and here's my quickie recommendation for doing it... The greatest doubt of all gets its beginning at the words "In the beginning..."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

No more monkeying around...

No more monkeying around...

This blog entry isn't on a subject belonging to non-belief and atheism... at least not directly. It's about science, in part, and about how recent animal studies are giving us incite and a better picture of who we are and perhaps how, where and why we've evolved to behave as we do. And, there can be no more monkeying around about it, the second reason for posting this subject is to point out that no matter what the holy books say, we're kissin' cousins to monkeys.

From Ivan Pavlov's respondent conditioned salivating dogs to Dian Fossey's gentle mountain ape family to now, we've come to learn that studying animals is a useful and valid way to learn more about ourselves - and no wonder - we're merely animals, aren't we...!?

I'm on this subject of our human/animal ancestry as a result of reading an article posted at Think Atheist - Sunday Morning Service. The article "Morals Without God" is by Frans de Waal and it talks about his research into understanding the sociability of monkeys - monkeys with morals. Here's a quickie from him:

In one experiment, we placed two capuchin monkeys side by side: separate, but in full view. One of them needed to barter with us with small plastic tokens. The critical test came when we offered a choice between two differently colored tokens with different meaning: one token was "selfish," the other "prosocial." If the bartering monkey picked the selfish token, it received a small piece of apple for returning it, but its partner got nothing. The prosocial token, on the other hand, rewarded both monkeys equally at the same time. The monkeys gradually began to prefer the prosocial token. The procedures were repeated many times with different pairs of monkeys and different sets of tokens, and the monkeys kept picking the prosocial option showing how much they care about each other's welfare.

It's interesting. I've already decided to buy his book to read more on what he has to say. But interesting enough as the study of morality being displayed by animals may be, I'm also posting this blog because the question of our human/animal ancestry, true or false, is becoming less and less of a question by the day.

While not all non-religious people would agree that humans and animals are genetically linked, and some might decent so much so that hearing statements of the sort that we humans quite certainty share a definite genetic past with animals might even set a few of them into fits of denial; usually, it generally isn't the case. Atheists and agnostics, etc., ...and perhaps Buddhists and some other non-god believing groups of people (I don't know for certain) are more likely comfortable with the idea that mankind and monkey are related. Theists, on the other hand, generally have a very tough time swallowing such a large bite of reality without choking, turning blue in the face and gasping for life-saving breath. The god-believers tend to stick closely to what "the book" tells them - that man is divinely special and created by God apart from the animals. It's their way, after all. "God said so."

So my message to all of us here is simple: If you find that you're on the side of the fence where the likes of the Pavloves and Fosseys and Walles have gathered to do what they do so well; and if you see that you're standing in the company of millions of scientists, practitioners, researchers and technologists, students and appreciative reason-based thinkers, you're in the right place - your companions are telling it how it is. They're right! ... All the rest of you, those standing in the shadow of the church steeple or within shouting distance of a minaret, holy books and prayer rugs in hand... well, you just aren't getting it. Jump the fence (and leave that worn out old book behind when you do.)

(I encourage everyone to read ALL the articles found on this page.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Swamp land anyone?

Swamp land anyone?

If you've ever been fooled (and how many of us haven't?) you know very well how painful the feelings attached to foolishness can be. Take the poor slob who invested his eye teeth in buying a patch of Florida land for his retirement days and it turned out to be six inches under swamp water for nine months of the year. That's foolishness for you.

I've been getting the impression lately that there are a lot of folks who realize they've made bad investments in religion. And now, like the poor guy who bought swamp land, they don't know which way to turn in order to make things better.

Think about it for a second... If you been sold on religion for any length of time (or if you were given away into it by your parents as a youngster) you've invested a ton's worth of lip service on how great your god is. And what's happened? Science has shown, more and more, that what you've believed all these years, that the secrets to the spark of life were exclusively on God's turf, just isn't so. Science has cloned, spliced, diced and done all but produces triplet girls in test tubes - it's amazing but that doesn't help your beliefs any. Moreover, if you've reached a few decades on into your life and raised up a family, or are still at it, you've likely passed along the same false ideas to your own loved ones - the same stuff that you swallowed whole during your own gullible years - and now those you've taught, your own kids, are questioning their own personal beliefs, and they're looking at you a tad sideways because of it. Hmmm....!

Add to all this the accumulating news of recent years - those things that the rise of atheism have been bringing to light - of how your very own trusted preacher may be one of those guys who's been hitting on every attractive woman in the congregation (and getting away with it) or how your own church donations, your money, which was intended to spread the good news through missionary work in far off third world foreign land, has somehow gone all wrong - and almost every current news item coming from the country you wanted to "save" is steeped in articles of religious sponsored abuse of children and religion motivated witch hunts. Or how someone, a church-goer like yourself, has gone over the top in religious fanaticism and murdered an abortion provider in Kansas. Good grief...

Perhaps the best news you've had concerning your own religion is that yours isn't the one that claims the Pope who publicly stated to an AIDS infested people that condoms were useless at preventing the spread of the disease. (It's NOT TRUE, Pope!) Or, that yours isn't the religion that keeps pedophile priests employed, or yours doesn't follow the same bible as those who claim homosexuals are subhuman. Perhaps the best news you've heard lately is that former President Carter quit his association with the Southern Baptists... Oops... (You aren't a Southern Baptist, are you?)

But in any event, you may be in the same boat as one of those poor guys who bought Florida swamp land - a guy with no way out but to gulp and admit mistake.

It's tough, I know... but give it a try.

Carter quits Baptists

President Jimmy Carter has quit the Baptist church:

Said President Carter
" decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God."

I don't see why the our President needed to concern himself over conflict with "the holy scriptures." Good gosh, rational thinking and common sense are certainly enough to lead anyone to knowing that all people are deserving of a fair shake.

...and by the way, why in the world do we designate between some soldiers being "just soldiers" while others are "... deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service." ??? (Preachers, paid by the government? Dat don't seem right, do it?)


Religion vs Secularity - Decide!

Religion vs Secularity - Decide!

It is an ongoing effort on the parts of all of us to live as well as we can and, as a result of this, we desire societies constructed toward that end. It seems to be our lot, however, to find ourselves politically steeped in the continuous struggle to either keep the tried and true established laws or to look for amendments upon them - that's just part of doing business - to improve them or discard them entirely, whenever we find faultiness in one way or another.

In the United States today, we're experiencing a clash of opposing ideological philosophies between religionist and non-religious camps. It has so far remained a virtual war of ideals and words, for the most part, yet that is precariously so.

In a country that was founded on secular ideals by people with a clear idea of responsibility to allow liberty and freedom of religion, one must ask why such a clash is taking place now, some 270 years after that nation's birth. What cause is responsible? blogger, Austin Cline, gives this posit of the secularist's mind set and the rationale for maintaining strict church/state separation according to the original US Constitution and its Bill of Rights. His words would very likely have stood the test of acceptability on any ears of the country's founding fathers just as they are generally acceptable to most secularists today.

The [consideration of] existence of something beyond our material existence is not denied [by the secularist constructed society] but it is also not accorded any special status. Indeed, the very fact that we can't know for sure if such an existence awaits us [after death] is a reason not to spend time worrying about it. Since we cannot know if a god, heaven, soul, or afterlife exists, then they cannot rationally motivate our actions or beliefs. (emphasis added)

Considering beyond just afterlife, the same sort of thought could be applied to prayer, rites of passage and most other religiously believed tenets just as well as to the notion of after-death-life, yet it seems like a good enough general analysis of the secular attitude - that wishing to maintain a fair enough shake for religion all around; it fairly reflects the aim of the nation's constitutional founders, allowing room for religion without bowing to it directly. How then do religionists take issue? And why would they?

Evangelism is a monstrously hungry thing - that's its nature - it's insatiable and and it is the problem. As the broad diversity of the original late seventeenth century American religious society evolved; a originating profile of which, if looked upon closely, would cast differences between religious sects so polarized that they could hardly be identified as being singular in any way, i.e., all Christian; to become today's generically similar, kissin' cousins, Jesus-focused institutions, and all bent in the same single direction - that "to gather the flock" is paramount; the tolerance for religion "NOT being accorded any special status" has eroded. Religion seeks not only to evangelize for control over the souls of individuals, as worshipers, but also for power over the whole nation as its dominion.

And here's how it happens: At the suggestion of a single individual, a preacher, Rev. M. R. Watkinson of Pennsylvania, the words "In God We Trust" managed to find their way to being cast on US coinage during the 1860s civil war. Here in 2009, the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a small group of Christian religious zealot congressmen and women have managed to push the envelope even farther for according "special status" to religion. They introduced and touted the engraving of the same religiously loaded "national imotto, In God We Trust" upon the walls of the Capitol Visitors Center of the nation's capitol along with the the words of the nations pledge of allegiance, including its 1954 "under God" insertion.

Efforts to institute prayer in schools, the teaching of Creationism, habituating in-vocational prayer at public meetings, defining marriage laws, restricting certain medical practices and science research, opposing sex education and effective birth control and the like have all fallen ill in one way or another to the efforts of religious aggresion. Religion has had secularity under siege from the start.

These are acts of evangelizing the nation and not merely of evangelizing individuals and this is this kind of evangelizing that secularists oppose.

I encourage reading "American Jesus" by Stephen Prothero who describes the remarkable change over the face of American religion since the country's outset; "The Age of American Unreason" by Susan Jacoby who outlines the decline of intellectualism in the US and hence the irrational spill over of religion into government; and "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris who gives clear reason to fear preserving religion.

The battle wages.... And the country sits on a verge - whether to make more changes according to religion or not?

Personally, I'm inclined to see the clock reset to 1776. Change in that direction might do us well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lucky7ist vs. a7ist

Lucky7ist vs a7ist

The 7ist believes that all the world is affected by the number "7" in such a way that if one fails to use or say or think about or praise the number "7" throughout his daily life, he will find that he will become terribly unlucky.

The a7ist takes a different view of things. He's discovered that luck itself is a preposterous notion. "There's no such thing as luck," he'd say... and he'd say it straight to the face of believing lucky7ist without hesitation.

What's the difference between these two? Are they both right or is there no clear answer?

The Lucky7ist may become angry or defensive as a result of hearing his belief in Lucky7 run through the mud by a non-believers. "Lucky7 has made a difference in my life," he may say and he may then describe how saying the number "7' has caused him to win rewards time and again.

"The number "7" even saved his grandma from certain death," he might add, and go on to tell how hanging a lucky "7" above her death bed in the hospital allowed her to escape death and live 7 more years. "Beat that..." he'll say to the a7ist.

"But "7" is just a number like any other," the a7ist may reply. "It has no special abilities other than its numerical uses.

"You can't prove that," retorts the Lucky7ist. "If you just believe and start saying and using "7" in your life, you'll know I'm right. You only have to try it and you'll see."

"But I have tried it," the a7ist replies and I've thought it over, too. "What you're saying doesn't hold water! You could say "3" all day long and get the same results as saying "7.""

"Eeek...!" screams the Lucky7ist. ""3" is a bad number... the worst! You must never ever say "3" if you'd like to stay lucky in life. Never...! And you'd better not try crossing a busy street after saying "3" and having no lucky7 in your life to make up for it.

"Why do you think casinos rake in so much cash?," asks the Lucky7ist... "It's because they have "7s" everywhere. Haven't you seen it? Are you blind? ... And why does a week have "7" days? Because without "7" day weeks the whole world would stop - that's why!"

"Look," says the a7ist, "I'll grant that it's possible for good things to happen while saying or thinking "7" but not that believing "7" has special ability. It isn't the reason that good things happen. Things just happen. That's all there is to it and the rest is just in your head."

"Ugh... You a7ist are so hateful. And it's all because you're sad... because not enough luck enters your life... because you don't believe in Lucky7 the way you should."

"Yeah right..." sighs the a7ist. "Believe whatever you'd like. It's your right. But hey, don't go getting all wacko and pushy on the government to print $7 bills, and lay off this nonsense of reducing the work day to "7" hours and change the supreme court seats to "7 " instead of "9". ... I mean, really, its my world, too, you know."

"See. See..! It's happening to you now. You've done it yourself. Sorry, buddy but you're out of luck and it's your own fault. Being an a7ist is your problem. Lucky7 is the reason all those things are happening... it's not because of anything else and you'd understand if you'd just believed it. Now do you see? Now do you understand how "7" works?"

"Um... no... I really, really don't"

You're a Secular Humanist?

You're a Secular Humanist?

I get email from the American Humanist Association all the time and I keep an eye open for what's being said out of that corner of the world, but I haven't been inclined to call myself a Secular Humanist... and that's a little funny. I consider myself humanist in every way and I certainly back secular ideals and practices in government. Should I begin identifying myself as a Secular Humanist when people ask my beliefs or should I stick with saying, "I have none" or "I'm atheist"?

Atheism doesn't actually qualify as a religion or as a belief, and saying that I have no beliefs runs a tad to close to nihilism. I'm not nihilist. Yet, am I ready to give myself up to living life in the pigeon hole named Secular Humanism? Its a quandary.

Whenever a name is tossed in my direction, a label meant to describe something about me, I tend to struggle against its fitting. What may feel comfortable for others doesn't always wear well on my back - and that's the problem. I want to be honest about who I am and what I say about my beliefs. I guess I'm too picky of the details of the fit, too, and I'm probably a bit unwilling to agree that close enough is good enough. Or perhaps I don't feel suited to being part of a list or to subscribing to a group that sets it values and ethics down by the numbers. But whatever it is about me, it isn't necessarily so about loads of other people - they're joining AHA. You may have done so already.

I'll say this about AHA, however, I'm tempted to subscribe... I like the little Happy Human character. He's my kind of guy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Anne Frank died and nothing else.

Anne Frank died and nothing else.

Atheist Camel, everyone's favorite Hump, has written an interesting blog (as hi always does). This time, however, I feel it necessary to take issue with his thinking. His blog article is hear: "Anne Frank had it coming..."

While I have no problem with the justice of Hump's complaints over the miserable and shortened life that Anne, her family and 3 million other Jews all suffered under the Holocaust, I take issue with his ranting about the addition insult of Anne's afterdeath suffering - that before birth she was condemned by the Bible character Jesus and by everyone wooly enough of thought to agree. And, that after her death she suffered even more... That's pure nonsense! (And Hump knows this, I'm sure of it.)

I see no point in playing the believers game of feeling horrified by the thought of damnation to "Hell" ... its all imagined, for goodness sakes! Why talk of it as if it were real in any sense? Why give it even negative voice?

Yet, in spite of this issue I've taken, hats off to Hump for giving us a look at how the Christian mind thinks... Now let's all try to bring it around into reality by staying in reality; let's try to remember that avoiding "Christian talk" of every type is for the best. Its no secret they believe in such silliness as "The Devil" and "Hell" and eternal damnation... there's no profit to be had by non-believer's speaking of as if it was real, too. Not even as Hump did.

Belief: it beings on early death

To believe or not to believe...

The question of whether to believe or not to believe is at hand and I'm wondering if those who are balking at leaving their beliefs for the sake of their better judgment have considered - really considered - the importance of rethinking. The times are so desperate around the globe that deciding on the side of NOT leaving belief is no longer an option.

Sam Harris is perhaps the one man who has said it best and said it most often, that clinging to religious belief, in light of today's technological advances, and specifically in light of our nuclear and chemical capabilities, has become far to dangerous for anyone to consider continuing. The reason is simple... religion adds a remarkable degree of division between cultures, so much so that it has the potential to drive people to committing insanely horrible acts, neighbor upon neighbor.

Fanaticism is the word we speak in describing such acts, but it is the moderate religionist, though not himself a fanatic, who props up the framework of religion from which the fanatics come.

911 is the classic example to consider, an oddity by its magnitude in destructiveness, yes; yet consider also, all the lessor celebrated acts of fanatics that happen almost daily have all happened for exactly the same reason - belief. The more such acts are ignored (and, for the most part, we do ignore them) the more they will escalate toward the unthinkable... the detonation of a nuclear weapon or the release of mass quantities of deadly chemicals onto an innocent society. It is on the shoulders of moderate religionists to back away from their beliefs as a means to stop terrorism. Subtract the broad acceptability of belief from propping up the steel within the terrorist's mind, whether it's to shoot an abortionist doctor, to hang a census worker or to suicide bomb a city bus, and we may see a better tomorrow. Fail to back away from religiosity and terrorism will continue to plague us to our early deaths.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catholic preacher keeps pitching it

Another one who refuses to roll over and die...

Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George has written a book he hopes will spark new plan for Catholicism in America... his own plan: "... simply Catholicism, meaning a clear sense of Catholic identity that’s nevertheless open to the world."

He wants people to work and pray. That's it.

I don't quite see how that includes an openness to the world. Perhaps I ought to read his book and find out, but judging only from within the confines of an interview conducted with Fr. George I'm able to see he isn't encouraging his Catholic followers to do any thinking on their own. Moreover, Fr. George seems to want to take the responsibility of thinking out of the hands of the government as well...

the courts become the place where tensions are worked out which should be settled in other forums, if there were available, but they’re not. Thus the terms of the political system become determinative for every area of human experience – marriage, the church, the family, sports, and so on.
Fr.George would prefer such determinations should be put in the hands of the church, I suppose.

Sorry, Francis... you won't sell much support for your plan with that kind of thinking. And as for me reading your book, I'll wait until it hits the library shelves before deciding - I'm certainly not going to buy it. (I'm not buying the bits of crap being pitched right here, am I...)

Monday, October 12, 2009

A candidate again...

Now this is stupid...

The Pope (yes, the same guy who thought condoms were useless in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS) has, by his holy wisdom, canonized five brand new saints, including Fr. Damien (no relation to the famed Damian character of horror-flic fame, in "The Omen").

Get this though... Fr. Damien was selected for sainthood because prayers offered to him have reportedly saved lives. In order to see the full humor of this (or more appropriately, its stupidity...) one must consider this: Fr. Damien was, himself, a victim of disease... and he died of his disease way back in 1889.

I have to ask, if this man (and that's clearly all he was) couldn't save himself from disease, how in the world could he save others... and how, especially, could he do so as a rotten, stinking stiff that's already 120 years gone? Preposterous!

But wait... The joke isn't over. (And, perhaps it's time to call in Vjack to measure the full degree of idiocy shown by the next player of the story.) Our own Barack Obama (yes, the same guy who was just awarded a Nobel Prize - our very own President!) saw fit to give this wacko Vatican City ceremony his (and our) official recognition by sending two US delegates, the official envoy to the Vatican, US ambassador, Miguel H. Diaz, and Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka, Hawaii.

Good Grief! What's next...?

It's time to be finished with this sort of nonsense. More than 200 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson had integrity enough to refuse holding a Thanksgiving dinner celebration... What's gone wrong with today's leaders?

New focus needed...

Panic... "Oh my!"

This gets my goat. Focus On Family, the Christian advocacy group out of Arcadia, California, and podcast giant for Christianity lead by Dr. James Dobson, knows the score. As many as 94% of Christian teens drop out of church after leaving high school.

Alarming news...! And what to do, eh?

Perhaps it ought to occur to Dr. Dobson and his followers to rethink what they're selling. The brainwashing treatments they've employed aren't working. And why not?

Teens are no less capable of seeing through the thin vial of lies sold by religion than their older and more experienced adult predecessors. They're reading more and asking bigger questions. They're aware of what thinking people have to say about religion and they're studying opinions on the subject through people like Austin Cline and Hemant Mehta; they're finding all sorts of pro-atheist support on the internet, people their own age like Rational Responders who aren't afraid to speak out. Today's younger brains are just as capable of freethinking as anyone. They know it and so they're doing it. Thank goodness! And that means panic to the likes of James Dobson's Focus On Family and to the other Christian advocates like him. They're loosing their flock and they know it. But, what to do?

Rather than quitting, concluding that what they're spreading is bunk - pure, steaming crap on a stick that nobody ever completely believes - they're inclined to circle the wagons and repackage their product for resale... They're challenging youth to re-apply their efforts. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. 'Can't walk on water?' they might ask. 'Try again. Perhaps all you need is more practice,' they might advise.

You'd think that at some point, even the most dedicated (or dullard) snake oil salesman would pack up and go home... But not Dodson. He remains focused on families and he intends to keep driving home his message until their homes are each as bent of mind and distorted of reality as his.

Good gosh...

Get on the ground...


It's time (once again) to advocate the importance of forming on-the-ground Freethought groups - they're priceless.

While the internet appears to be the primary news center for atheist and secular movement activities, on-the-ground groups are what will make things happen in the long run. If you aren't already involved in a local group, if none is available in your town, start one! is probably the easiest and cheapest way to begin building a new group (or to add members to an existing group). I wish it was a FREE service, but that just isn't so... Never mind. It isn't a great expense.

You may already be aware that I've been personally involved in starting up groups where none have been before and that those groups are flourishing. Well, I'm not done yet. More groups are needed and that means YOU should get involved. Atheism and secular growth has never been better but that doesn't mean it can't get better yet. "During the first five months of 2009, 95 new atheist groups have formed through, bringing the US total to 372. That's up from 59 in 2005". So what's keeping YOU from joining?

Atheist Revolution's writer, vjack, is a strong supporter for group involvement and I'll yield to the his archived articles to lend support to my own advocacy. You'll find vjack's articles here: promoting atheism. He has amassed a wonderful collection of ways and reasons to put atheism at the head of the pack as a growing movement and keep it there. Please read and get yourself busy joining the movement. Add yourself to an on-the-ground group or start one TODAY.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Michael Newdow - not "under God"

Need a Hero?

Michael Newdow

I you're not aware of the effort being put forth by Michael Newdow, a childhood east coast Jew who grew to become an ordained United Universialist Church minister, an atheist, a physician and an active litigant with a very hard line church/state separation enthusiasm, you should be. You can get the basic facts on Michael from Wikipedia. You can also learn more about him from his own website: Michael Newdow.Com.

As for being a hero, he'd make a good one for anyone looking just by having his tenacious apatite to see the right thing done for the preservation of American secularism and for atheists. Michael strongly opposes "under God" in the national pledge of allegiance and he's willing to go the distance to see the pledge restored. Here's a recent article by Trina Hoaks that describes the state of the current litigation.

Did you notice the "thanks" given to Michael by FFRF's Annie Laurie Gaylor? I believe she looks upon Michael as a hero... She speaks for me, too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

They're adrift...

Close the harbors

Getting god-believers to "see the light" is going to be tough, but somehow it's got to be done. We atheists can't change their minds for them, of course, but perhaps we can give them ALL the reasons to change... and where logic doesn't work or if ridicule fails, what course remains to us but to let those at sea remain asea - close the harbors.

I no longer engage religionist in their favorite subjects: the truth of the bible, intelligent design and creationism, school prayer, the power of prayer, divine hope and love, the wrongs of gay rights, god given morality, afterlife... and, of course, there are loads of others. Rather, I remind them that these topics have all been aired time and again, and by people far smarter and wiser than most of us, only to arrive at the same result: religious beliefs and Judeo-Christian values are full of shit. 'No further discourse is necessary,' I tell them, 'and its high time for some serious decision-making on their parts.'

I'm all for what's been happening across the country, for holding religion's feet to the fire whenever they're caught "bending" the church/state separation laws, and for admonishing them at every turn for expecting special privilege or recognition for their beliefs, holidays for example. I'm for shaming them and rubbing their noses in the messes they've made by supporting pedophiles or by allowing kids to die without medical attention because their wacko parents decided to 'faith heal' them. I'm for the atheist ad campaigns that are ruffling-up so many believing feathers. These kinds of actions are more than merely helpful for causing change, they're causing it. Yet more is needed.

We must, no doubt, keep communication with religionists open, but make no mistake, that openness shouldn't be, and must not include, affirmation for their beliefs; rather, it must be instructional, dictatorial, and demanding on how religionists need to rethink their world view, and on how they must adapt to living in secular society according to secularist rules. God-beliefs can no longer be tolerated. That time has passed. Build a museum of the church. Hang Jesus up to dry.

I'll quote the words said by a good friend, "Being religious must become unacceptable in the same way that being racist is unacceptable."

Close the harbors to those still at sea... let then drown in their silly beliefs.

Secular holidays only

Take the hard line.

Here's part of the problem with showing respect for religious belief:

In a news letter circulated by Britian's National Secular Society the article titled "Minority religious holidays forced on schools" points out how yielding to the broader variety of beliefs found in open democratic societies becomes a nuisance of interruptions upon public institutions.

Teachers in the east London borough of Waltham Forest are expressing concern at the imposition of minority religious holidays on schools.
.. Next year community schools in the borough will be obliged to close during Eid-Ul-Fitr, Guru Nanak and Diwali – regardless of whether or not they have any Hindu or Sikh pupils.

There are hundreds and hundreds of religions, each with its own short list of celebration days. Yielding to all of them is tantamount to marking an institutions' calendar "closed" throughout the year. Yielding to some of them is an open the door to allowing for additional discriminatory practices. Yielding to none seems like the best recourse.

Its true. Religious holidays ought to be ignored and snubbed entirely to end the dilemma of which to allow and which to ban; political holidays, national holidays and rationally chosen vacation periods must be given license to rule the seasons, putting an end to this problem of religion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

There are times...

and there are times...

Occasionally I have a series of fresh experiences, new news arrivals, in-coming mail and other odds-and-ends communiques on top of my own realizations and study all crashing in on me in a compressed space of time, so much so, that I have to pause and take notice of what it all means when looked at in concert. This week has been one of those times.

I follow a heap of online writers, almost all of them pro-atheist and pro-secularity, and from these people I'm able to gather an impression of how things are going on issues important to me (and to the whole world if it's paying attention). This week brought in a tide of articles that seemed to be carrying with it an ordinarily cargo of flotsam - some good news, some bad, and some neither here nor there. My impressions were mixed yet I was nonetheless impressed. There was volume to be had... and quality, too... the movement, the grassroots, were in deed moving. I read from Trina Hoaks, vjack and Paul FidalgoHemant Mehta and a good many more. A good week.

FFRF, tireless and dedicated in its effort to call America's law-defiant, selfish thinking religionists into court, made the news on several fronts. I was pleased to know that my subscription money, a mere $40, was hard at work keeping prayer out of schools; admonishing elected officials to avoid religiously sectarian policies and practices while attending to their public duties; fighting for the equal right to advertise non-belief fairly and competitively in the public forum; and, too, vying for the attention of ordinary citizens (and with a good degree of success) to rightly see their atheist neighbors as valuable community partners. All was well nationally... I was pleased.

Add to this the welcome this fall of additional Darwinian evolution programing on PBS through its popular Nova series, an arrangement made in part by the efforts of the American Humanist Association, (a few more well spent bucks) as this week's news grew even brighter. But it still wasn't done, since additionally there was all that great stuff coming out of Burbank California as Atheist Alliance International held its annual convention. Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Lawrence Krauss, Eugenie Scott, Daniel Dennett... and it goes on. Wow. All of them making the news and drawing the attention of America straight to atheism's door and to recognizing its place (my place) at the table.

And then came the best stuff.

I keep myself busy within my own local world and that world seems to keep getting larger and larger. My email was crammed all week long by people I know through atheism. I heard from Texarkana and Conway (two groups I help start) and Little Rock (they'd decided to start a new Earth Scouts group for kids); all of them gave news of the things they were doing, of meetings they'd planned and of open invitations. I was passed fresh news out of Joplin (a group I like to visit) on the success of their "light debate" meeting with a local Christian group and the newspaper coverage they were getting as a result. I heard from my friend Darrel Ray, of Kansas, who's book tour I helped arrange, and who shared how his continued success establishing additional "RR" groups in cities across the country was going. I was reminded to meet up with my new Springfield, MO friend, someone I finally met up with face to face while attending an unexpected evening invitation. We'll have a drink together when I attend the Skepticons II wing-ding this November and I'll hope to meet up with the others Springfield Freethinkers. And, too, (this was especially kool) there was enthusiasm aplenty (so KOOL) for a new project here locally - to create a cable TV show for freethinkers. I shared in that excitement when I took part in my first orientation class along with ten or so others, all of us ready to take part, and all Northwest Arkansas atheists.

A busy week. A busy week. And I keep blogging, of course. It all pays.

But what does it all mean, reflecting back it? Well... I guess it means atheism and the secular movement are more real than Jesus... and, for me, that's well worth the time and the few small bucks I've invested to help make it true.


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