Friday, February 8, 2008

Unfounded Assertions

Quite often I hear all sorts of unfounded assertions when discussing atheism and theism with theists; or when discussing politics, particular with Clinton-haters. Here are some examples, some pulled directly from the comments of posts here at The Serenity of Reason:

  • "Hillary is her own worst enemy" - not sure what this even means, but it was thrown out there with no citations or references to what it could possibly mean.
  • There are certain beliefs that are foundational to Christianity, just as there are with any other belief system (whether it be a religion, atheism, etc.)." - I particularly hate this one. Atheism, at least for me, is NOT a belief system. It is the lack of a belief in god(s). I am willing to be convinced that there is a god or gods - all I need is evidence. Most atheists I have known are similarly inclined. Enough of the stupid bullshit that atheism is a belief system!
  • "Atheism is like the releasing of an unnatural predator within a balanced ecosystem..." - What a load of fucking hogwash! What could this prattle even pretend to mean? A balanced ecosystem? Atheism as a predator? Only a deluded mind could come up with such tripe.
  • Another common claim, which I will not quote here, is that you need christianity because christians are the only ones who offer charitable assistance - Well, this is patently absurd. I know many atheists who help the needy. Both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the biggest philanthropists on the planet, are not "believers." (Notice how I provide references citing the non-theism of both Buffett and Gates... if you want to be taken seriously with your claims, try doing something similar).
  • Another common tactic used by ID/creationists is to claim lists of scientists who doubt or do not "believe" in evolution - Any such lists do not include any respectable biologists, and usually, no biologists at all. Who cares if there are doctors, lawyers, or indian chiefs who do not "believe" in evolution. It is irrelevant. To put it another way, consider Dan Barker, who after 19 years of evangelical preaching, missionizing, evangelism and Christian songwriting, became an atheist when he realized there was no evidence to support christian and biblical claims. Well, here we have a preacher who doesn't believe in god... cool... but not relevant. What is relevant is the lack of evidence.
  • "There are many people in the world today who look at the theory of evolution and have determined, based on evidence and reason, that it is untenable." - That just isn't true. Oh, yes, there are a lot of people who do not "believe" evolution to be true. But they have not really "looked" at it in a scientific manner; or if they have looked at the science, only their unreasonable tethering of evolution to atheism coupled with christian lockstep mindset could cause them to discard such a scientifically valid and sound theory as evolution. There is ZERO evidence disputing evolution... if there ever is, the scienfitic community would move in another direction. Scientists are not unwavering zealots clinging to useless faith. Creationist apologists are always citing people who do not "believe" in evolution (see above), but again, there are no credible biologists with that "opinion" at all.
  • "I'm not going to spend hours of my time debating an issue that is never going to be settled or putting together a list of references..." - This is the common cop-out of the religious person who cannot provide evidence or references. It indicates that it is time to move on because the person claiming this is out of gas. I mean, c'mon, if you are going to make a claim then it is obviously something you want other people to believe. So citing your "proof" - if you will - should not be an undue burden. What is the alternative? I guess they just want me (and you) to just believe any crazy nonsense they spout without having the facts to back it up. Not me, thanks.
  • If you try to press them for references you'll get something like "trying to debate an issue that can't be proven with a person whose mind is already closed in the matter is a waste of time" - Yes, this is true, but it is the religious mind that is closed. Every atheist and agnostic I have ever encountered is open to changing their mind as long as sufficient evidence can be provided. This is NOT the case with the religious mind. To prove it, ask that religious person what evidence would be sufficient for them to abandon their lord and savior.
  • Another creationist cop-out is to claim evolution is "historical science" and that historical sciences are not valid and not actually science - This is absurd. If you start to "believe" this "argument" please read Are the historical sciences sciences? from Skeptical Inquirer (July-August 2005) by Massimo Pigliucci.
  • Finally, atheists regularly hear things like You just want to do whatever you want to do or You can't have any morality without god, what would the world come to - This is quite telling. Atheists do not need a god to tell them what is good and bad. As Dan Barker so eloquently states: Ethical systems are based on the worth humans have assigned to life: "good" is that which enhances life, and "evil" is that which threatens it. We do not need a deity to tell us it is wrong to kill, lie or steal. Humans have always had the potential to use their minds to determine what is kind and reasonable.

    Doesn't this line of questioning from the religious person kinda tell you something? Basically, they are implying that without a god watching over them they'd resort to immoral behavior. It is only through the threat god hangs over their head that they are civilized... I think this makes the atheist their moral superior, after all, atheists act morally without any godly threats or commandments.

I guess I just had to get some things off of my mind...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Christian Bullies

The following article was published in the Washington Post (author: Sally Quinn).

As a child, I went to a small school in rural Alabama near an Army post where my father was stationed. It was a very Christian town, and our teacher was "born again."

This was decades ago, but I remember clearly how she used to tell us that we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior. Then she would ask for hands to see who had. By age 11 I had become a nonbeliever. My father was in the Army and had fought in World War II and Korea; I concluded quickly that no loving God could have allowed those atrocities to be committed.

But we had all seen our teacher, when crossed, call an unlucky member of our class up to the front of the room, make the student lie down on her desk and be paddled. The humiliation was worse than the pain. So, when she called on us to admit that we had accepted Jesus as our savior, I dutifully raised my hand.

Thank goodness, those days are over, you might be thinking. Nothing like that could happen in this country today.

Well, think again. It happened this month, right here in Washington.

On Dec. 11, H.R. 847 was passed in the House of Representatives. Just listen to what our lawmakers have resolved:

"Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans," it begins, "is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States. . . ." It goes on to state, among other things, that "Christianity [is] the religion of over three-fourths of the American population," that "American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ," and that "Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace."

"Now, therefore be it Resolved, that the House of Representatives . . . expresses continued support for Christians in the United States . . . acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States . . . rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and expresses its deepest respect to American Christians."

For brevity, I have omitted the resolution's references to Christianity around the world.

This resolution passed with 195 Democratic yea votes, 177 Republican yeas and nine Democratic nays. No Republicans voted against it. Ten House members voted "present." Forty were not there, including the bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve King of Iowa.

Among those voting for the resolution was a Jewish member of Congress who has asked me not to print his name. He was outraged and appalled by the bill, he told me. But he was also afraid. He thought it would hurt him with his mostly Christian constituency if he voted against it. He told some of his colleagues about his anguish. They advised him not to be stupid. It would be better for him politically if he voted for it.

It's possible that the 10 who voted "present" also had problems with the bill but decided it was safer not to vote against it. One could also assume that some of those who were absent were not there so as not to have to deal with the problem.

Earlier this year the House also passed resolutions honoring Islamic and Indian holidays but nothing that so equated a single faith with America and Americans.

How could this happen, in what will soon be 2008, in a pluralistic, multicultural, multireligious society, a society based on the concepts of religious freedom and separation of church and state? What were they thinking?

This resolution was as anti-American as anything Congress has ever passed. It disenfranchised and marginalized millions and millions of men and women, reducing them to second-class citizens.

How about this next time around: "Whereas all holidays have great significance to some Americans, be it resolved that the House of Representatives expresses its deepest respect to Americans of all faiths and non-faith alike."

And Christians wonder why atheists have a problem with them and their agenda?

Political Reality

Although I am still a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and will likely vote for her in the upcoming Texas Democratic primary, I am beginning to see the reasonableness of nominating Barack Obama. This is so because, not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton remains a polarizing figure. The right wing has done such a "good" job of painting her as evil and despicable that many will not vote for her simply because her name is Hillary Clinton.

All of this means that Barack Obama could have a better chance of winning in November. It seems as if John McCain will be the Republican nominee - - of course, that could change, but it is not likely because McCain will win the moderate vote while Romney and Huckabee beat each other up for the more conservative Republican votes. That said, with McCain as a nominee, many evangelicals and hardcore righties may not come out to vote in November. The far-right Republican hate machine fueled by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are bashing McCain left and right. Coulter has even said she'd rather vote for Hillary Clinton than John McCain (not sure what she is thinking, but then again, I never am sure about Adam's Apple Annie).

This is especially the case if Obama is the Democratic nominee because, for some reason, he does not engender the hatred that Hillary does. If Hillary is the nominee there are right wingers who would vote for satan, a baby rapist, or Hitler before they'd vote for Hillary, and so they would come out to vote for McCain just to vote against Hillary.

Now, as I said, I am still a Hillary supporter - but that support is soft. I could whole-heartedly endorse Obama and will get behind his candidacy should he be the Democratic nominee. I find his speeches stirring and his policies to be very similar to Clinton's. Who knows, as time goes on, I could even switch allegiances before a Democratic nominee is set?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Yahweh vs. Popeye

Yahweh: I am that I am - Exodus 3:14

Popeye: I am what I am and that's all that I am.

This round goes to Popeye for his humility...

Monday, February 4, 2008

When a Cough Makes News...

This "news" story is truly pathetic...

Penn Rhodeen, a New Haven public interest lawyer who worked with Clinton as a student, recalled her showing up on his doorstep wearing purple bellbottoms.

"It was so 1972," he recalled, praising Clinton for her longtime interest in helping children.
"Here is the abiding truth we know — you have always been a champion for children. Welcome home, dear friend. We are so proud of you," he said.

Clinton responded emotionally to Rhodeen's praise, at one point wiping her eyes with her hand. But unlike her teary-eyed moment in Portsmouth, N.H., her voice never broke and she tried make light of her emotion.

"I said I would not tear up. Already we're not on that path," Clinton replied to laughs.

Some credited her New Hampshire display of emotion — during a discussion of how she is affected by campaigning for president — with aiding her comeback in that state from an earlier defeat by rival Barack Obama in Iowa.

Generally a stalwart campaigner, Clinton was showing signs of strain Monday — at one point starting to cough uncontrollably in the middle of an economic round-table with a dozen women voters.

Is this the kind of "news" we want from the campaign trail? I mean, what's next? Tomorrow, will we be reading about McCain having a particularly strenuous bowel movement where reporters could hear the grunts resounding down the hallway?

Or maybe we'll hear all about Ron Paul shouting because he stubbed the thumb that has a paper cut he got when he was making his aluminum foil hat to ward off aliens? Probably not that last one because the media is not taking Paul very seriously - - and they never did, even back when they probably should have.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Biblical Wisdom, Part 6

Deuteronomy 28:53

And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee

I guess when you get tired of eating your own shit and drinking your own piss (see Biblical Wisdom, Part 5) you can start chowing down on your children. Praise god!

Biblical Wisdom, Part 5 -- On Eating Shit

2 Kings 18:27

But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

Ezekial 4:12

And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight

And shell fish is supposed to be unclean?