Thursday, September 9, 2010

Robert Green Ingersoll

Robert Green Ingersoll was a Civil War veteran, political leader, and orator, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism.

The Second Annual Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest will be held on Sunday, October 24, 2010... and with that in mind, here are a few of his interesting thoughts:

"The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men."
- Robert Green Ingersoll, "The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child"

"The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called "faith.""
- Robert Green Ingersoll, The Gods

"This century will be called Darwin's century. He was one of the greatest men who ever touched this globe. He has explained more of the phenomena of life than all of the religious teachers."
- Robert Green Ingersoll, "Orthodoxy"

"The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray."
- Robert Green Ingersoll

"The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church.
Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave."
- Robert Green Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Religion vs. Religion

In less than a month, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida plans to host "Burn a Quran Day" to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The pastor, author of the book "Islam is of the Devil," is using the burning to urge American Christians to "stand up" to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of "likes" and Jones has said people have been mailing him Qurans to burn.

What to think of this one... well, there sure is a lot of ridiculous bluster here. Jones is using a stupid tactic (burning books) to raise attention. Instead of getting his message out, he will be equated with censorship a la Fahrenheit 451. Of course, there is an element of that in these books burning (it would seem that this pastor would be thrilled if Islam were to be censored), but I think the larger meaning of this burning event is as follows: Christianity is being threatened by Islam and there are militant factions within Islam that are violently anti-American.

Of course, Jones and his ilk say it much more offensively than that, and that is what hides some actual viable criticism of Islam (and, oh, yes, there is MUCH to criticize). Furthermore, the city of Gainesville has not given the chruch permission to burn, but the church said it will do so anyway. I hope they all get thrown in jail for that.

The other side seems to be a bunch of whining babies, making statements like "Jones' burning will have great symbolic significance to a Muslim world already feeling under attack by the United States. It will cause undue harm to U.S. relations with the Muslim world and particularly the war effort." Ridiculous. We are to worry about how a free expression of thoughts and ideas (albeit a patently stupid one) impacts on the very people that are being targeted by the event?

So, bottom line, there is more stupidity here than you can shake a stick at. Maybe if we wait around long enough the various religions of the world will destroy themselves. That'd be fine with me... except, of course, that they'd probably take most of us down with them.

For the time being, I think I'll just sit back and laugh at everyone involved in this one -- both sides.