Saturday, August 4, 2007

L.A. Religious Beat Writer Loses Faith

This is an interesting story about a Christian who stopped believing. I found his tale to be quite interesting and I thought you might, too - - so decided to blog about it.

William Lobdell, religion beat writer for the LA Times, outlines his journey from faith to reason. He discusses how he lobbied to write about religion, the stories he covered, and his own path from belief to unbelief. The penultimate paragraph reads:

Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don't. It's not a choice. It can't be willed into existence. And there's no faking it if you're honest about the state of your soul.

Visit Yellowstone Soon

...or it may be too late.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Abolish IRS and Adopt the Fair Tax Proposal

Have you heard about the Fair Tax proposal that has been advocated by Rep. John Linder (R-GA)? Basically, it calls for the complete elimination of income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax set at 23 percent. The IRS would be disbanded and defunded. The FairTax taxes everyone only on what they choose to spend on new goods or services, not on what they earn. Whenever you buy anything, you'd be hit with a 23% tax. But you would pay zero income tax... and that includes FICA (social security tax).

Simple, right? Linder has put together a list of FAQs on the Fair Tax here, so check 'em out before making any assumptions. And here is the text of the bill (H.R. 25) sponsored by Linder. With 60 sponsors in the House, the Fair Tax bill is the most widely supported fundamental tax reform bill on Capitol Hill.

The biggest concern I initially had was that it would be over-burdensome on those below the poverty level. But they've got that covered with a family consumption allowance. Basically, what it boils down to, is that every family would be eligible to receive a monthly sales tax rebate. The amount of the rebate would be the monthly poverty level multiplied by the tax rate. So everybody would get a rebate at the subsistence level.

I think it is a great idea. What do you think?

But I doubt it will ever get done because it makes so much sense and Congress is basically a group of horse's asses.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Define "Spiritual" Please

The post below this one on the Spiritual Ministry Department caused me to start thinking about the word "spiritual" and what it means. If we are to have this department, then we ought to know what we (collective "we") mean by this word "spiritual" shouldn't we?

So, where to start? How about Webster's Universal College Dictionary. The first four definitions found in the 1997 Random House edition I own read as follows:

spiritual adj. 1. pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature 2. of or pertaining to the spirit as the seat of the moral or religious nature 3. of or pertaining to sacred things or matters; religious 4. pertaining to or consisting of spirit; incorporeal

So, then, spiritual matters are not physical. And they are usually religious. What about the definition of spirit? Same source, first three definitions:

spirit n. adj., v. 1. the animating principle of life, esp. humans; vital essence 2. the incorporeal part of humans or an aspect of this, as the mind or soul 3. conscious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter

It seems to me that we have a word here that is attempting to describe something that is indescribable, at least in its intended meaning for the Spiritual Ministry Department. It is a word that I find no use for, at least in this meaning. If something is incorporeal then we cannot know anything about it unless it chooses to manifest itself somehow in our world - - that is, becomes corporeal. And then it is no longer spiritual, by definition.

So spending tax dollars on the spiritual would be a big fat fucking waste of money even if it were constitutional, which I still contend it is not. Of course, there is no hope of getting the current Supreme Court to agree with me, hell, they don't think tax payers have standing to contest how tax dollars are spent (fucking right wing shitheads). But that is another issue altogether.

So spiritual is another in a list of words that I have discarded from my vocabulary as useless. What are some of the others?

How about sin... as an atheist I cannot sin. Sin is a concept that makes no sense to me because one cannot sin unless there is a god that one is sinning against. So there goes "sin" into my vocabulary waste bin.

Another useless word for me is believe. I don't believe anything. I make reasoned decisions based on evidence, research, and the best knowledge that humans have accumulated over time. I therefore know facts as much as anyone can know anything. I have no need to believe or believe in anything outside of this scope. As such, I avoid the words believe and belief.

Faith is another useless word. Basically, one relies on faith when one has no evidence or facts to back up his beliefs. There is nothing that you can know by faith, it is only a crutch word used by religious believers to attempt to give credibility to their choice to believe in the unbelieveable.

What do you think? Are there any words that my fellow atheists out there have ejected from use after finding them to be devoid of meaning and worthless?

Separation of Church and State? It is Almost Completely Dead!

Did you know that our government has a Spiritual Ministry Department? This department supposedly (1) Provides spiritual ministry to Clinical Center patients and their families; (2) holds religious services in the Clinical Center; (3) acts as liaison with religious groups not represented by the staff chaplains; and (4) conducts research and training programs in hospital ministry.

It is part of the National Institute of Health whose mission is described on its web site as follows:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the steward of biomedical and behavioral research for the Nation. Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

Why is this "department" part of the NIH? What does anything "spiritual" have to do with science or the fundamental behavior of living systems? And why is it staffed and funded by our government? Doesn't the first amendment to the US Constitution still read as follows? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. And doesn't this still mean, as Thomas Jefferson explained way back in 1802, that there should be a wall of separation between church and state?

Guess not... and that sucks.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Good Riddance Grandpa!

According to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times: Officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a young girl (age 3) found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died...

I say, good. It'd be nice if every exorcist were killed. Anyone who harms someone for the patently ridiculous reason that they were trying to get Satan or demons out of that person is of low intelligence and the world would be much improved if the exorcist were eliminated.

And evidently the little girl's mother was in the room, too. The child should be removed from that crazy mother and placed into the custody of child protective services. I don't care what you believe, but allowing a child to be harmed because of it is unacceptable.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Zeus At It Again?

Looks like the almighty Zeus is up to his old tricks again. After burning down a church he is now going after individual folks spreading lies about other gods. Earlier this month a guy selling religious materials door-to-door in Florida was struck by lightning.

When will those christians learn that Zeus , angry ruler of the skies, will not stop until he has smoted them all?!?!?!