Creationists dealt a blow in Calif.

I was going to include this with the Sunday Cult Watch since creationism really is a cult (within a cult), fitting the definition leading the Cult Watch post quite well: the adherents of various creationist cults invoke a particular form of worship that involves special creation of humans; animals created as “kinds;” a global flood that exterminated all but two of each “kind;” a planet that is only a few thousand years old; etc. And such religious ideals involve a special sort of attention in the way of being anti-scientific and opposing reason and rational thought when it conflicts with their wacky and superstitious ideals.

So, the cults of creationism (Answers in Genesis, Discovery Institute, et al) were dealt a blow even they can’t ignore in California last week. A federal judge in L.A. ruled that the University of California can “deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.” Followers of Christian cults, particularly those cults of creationism, objected to UC’s policy, suggesting that it was a policy of “religious discrimination.”

Among the courses rejected by UC is a history course called Christianity’s Influence on America which utilizes a text that, “instructs that the Bible is the unerring source for analysis of historical events” and evaluates historical figures based on their religious motivations.” Another course, this one in science, uses a text titled, Biology for Christian Schools and, “declares on the first page that if (scientific) conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong.”

So UC doesn’t find cult school courses that preach inerrant “truth” to be favorable over those that favor free inquiry and evidence? The only thing questionable about that position is that it actually had to go to court. This is no more asinine than if the Flat Earthers forced the same litigation over refusing to give course credit for denying the sphericity of this two-dimensional planet; or UFO nuts demanding that their high school astronomy programs be accepted even though the first chapter of their textbook deals with the Roswell cover up and the Moon-landing hoax.

And what did the creationist nutters have to say about the ruling on their blogs and sites?

AiG can be quoted to say, “Ultimately, this case is representative of the public—and academia’s—continued refusal to acknowledge the role of presuppositions in shaping how we acquire knowledge, including in the scientific sphere.”

The tragic thing is, these nuts are serious. They assume that because they rely on presuppositions (i.e. that their mythology is assumed the literal word of an assumed god) that, therefore, no one else is capable of achieving objective reality. Which is utter bollocks. There is an objective, knowable truth that can be had more easily and quickly by applying the methods (as opposed to apply the methods of superstition). They presuppose that the Earth is only a few thousand years old based on a single source of information developed by stone and iron age goat herders, ignoring all scientific knowledge and evidence to the contrary because it doesn’t fit their preconceived and particular notion of god.

WorldNut Daily, through the dimwitted Johnathan Falwell, said, well… I’m not going to bother quoting that asshole. Suffice to say, he went on and on about how society pretends values diversity unless it’s his particular notion of god and how his superstitious and unfounded beliefs should be valued in the name of diversity, etc. It was all very nauseating to read. don’t believe me, click the link and see. Ugh. Falwell committed logical fallacy after logical fallacy in a very weak attempt to make a point that students are forced to accept an “atheistic” point of view.

Sorry pal. Call it what you will, no one is telling students they can’t believe in whatever deities, fairies, Jedi, or magic frogs they want. The University system is about gaining an education in reality and if they haven’t the proper scores in the proper prep classes, they’re going to have a difficult time of it, putting an undo burden on professors and making it unfair for the students who actually did obtain an education. Classes would have to be dumbed down, extra time spent on teaching the basics, and, perhaps, even spent on explaining the reality-based point of view versus the sub-natural one relied on by creationists nutters.

To be fair, the creationist nutters did make a fair point in a couple of the articles I read on their sites, which was that it cannot be assumed that because a student came from a school that used sub-standard texts that she wouldn’t be educated sufficiently in the sciences. But, if these same nutters actually bothered to RTFA, they might have noticed the the sentence, “students whose courses lack UC approval can remain eligible by scoring well in those subjects on the Scholastic Assessment Test.”
But, then, it isn’t characteristic of creationists to actually study, research and do their homework, so we shouldn’t be too surprised by their false assumptions. Indeed, the very title of Falwell’s article, “Christians Need Not Apply” at WorldNut Daily is fallacious even before the first paragraph. The unfortunate thing is, this sort of propaganda feeds quite well into the less-informed masses who happen to be religious and are being led to believe that if they accept science they’re denying their god.

The Need for Absurd Belief Among Fundamentalists

Why is there a “culture war” between science and religion?

Religionists, particularly the more fundamentalist of them, frequently object to scientific facts of evolution, geology, DNA, and so on. They very often assert that very paranormal and supernatural events described in Christian mythology are genuine and that these events occurred regardless of their unscientific and preposterous nature.

Examples include an Earth that’s thousands of years old instead of billions; the denial of evolution; the belief that the entire planet was completely flooded in a matter of days; that a man put two of every creature on Earth in a boat; that a man was born of a virgin and had magical powers (could heal the sick, rise from the dead, etc.); and they believe that wine and crackers can, if the right magic words are uttered by the right magic person, become the blood and body of the afore mentioned man who has been dead for over two thousand years if he was ever alive.

And these are but a few of the preposterous and absurd notions and ideas held, each contrary to scientific understanding and thought. To all or most of these people, these notions and ideas aren’t preposterous or absurd, but this is due to the fact that they were probably raised from childhood to accept them without question. It could even be that those that profess to believe in these notions realize the absurdity of them but refuse to entertain this beyond their own private thoughts and, even then, only in fleeting glimpses and brief moments of question or wonder. These glimpses and moments quickly turned away from since the spell of their religious belief and indoctrination effectively insulates them from actively questioning their beliefs.

Such people believe not so much in the “miracles” and absurdities of their religion but more so in belief itself. This “belief in belief” is discussed at length by Daniel Dennett in his book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and I recommend the book for anyone that is interested in the scientific study of religion and belief, which is one of the topics I try to concern this blog with. Indeed, you may have even noticed the similarity of the blog’s title to Dennett’s book.

Not a single one of the absurdities that these people hold to be factual is supported by science or reason, however. There simply are no good data or experiences of observation that support these ideas as true. And many religious believers no doubt recognize this, accepting these beliefs on “faith” rather than evidence. They hold these notions and ideas regardless of the lack of evidence or even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Why?

I think one of the main reasons is that accepting the scientific and reasoned perspective over that of their religious doctrines and dogma -in other words, discounting the Biblical accounts as allegory, poetry, literature, or just plain myth- will, for many of these people, invalidate their entire system of beliefs. Just as a house of cards is precariously balanced and fragile, so, too, is the system of Biblical belief, which ultimately informs the political agenda of so many people. The political investment that fundamentalist Christians have in the Biblical compendium is such that should a single story be shown or accepted to be just a myth, the entire Bible would then be in question. And, indeed, it is.

Science, history and archaeology have, time and again, brought Biblical “facts” into question, invalidating them. I think conservative, fundamental Christians realize this so they deny, obfuscate, confuse, ignore, and otherwise bring into question facts of science, geology, archaeology, anthropology, psychology, neurology, biology, chemistry, astronomy and many other sciences that have shown information contrary to Biblical belief to be true. For The conservative Christian to accept, for instance, that evolution invalidates the literal truth of the Bible as told by Genesis, then what reason would those same conservative Christians have to continue excluding homosexuals or other groups with whom they disagree? And that is but a single example. One could also draw into question conservative positions on end of life, stem cell research, the Middle East, etc.

But there is and abundance of evidence that shows vertebrate life on the planet millions of years ago; that the planet itself is billions of years old. The evidence one might expect to see, which would support a global flood just a few thousand years ago simply isn’t there. There is no evidence to support the notion that virgins can be impregnated without help from a male sperm donor. There is no evidence to support that one human can heal another simply by placing a hand on them -and they certainly cannot correct blindness this way. There is no evidence that someone can truly be dead then arise from their grave 3 days later. Either you’re dead or you’re not. There’s no evidence that the planet was brought to a stand-still with regard to its rotation, as the bible says occurred for 24 hours.

Religious adherents would be quick to say that neither can these things be disproved or that there’s evidence to the show that any of these things couldn’t occur. But I’d say this is only partially right. Sure, there’s no way to prove gods don’t exist or that these improbable things couldn’t occur. But there is evidence that is to the contrary. And that evidence is the distinct lack of evidence that supports any of them.

The spell of belief among adherents of Christianity will not easily or willingly be broken. The best we can do, for now, is to keep up the “fight,” as it were. Continue to be voices of reason and rational discourse and to value each and every believer that has a rational epiphany that causes them to begin to question their system of beliefs.

Eventually, perhaps, the spell of religion will be broken.

Is the United States a Christian Nation

Is the U.S. a Christian Nation

Is the U.S. a Christian Nation

One of the problems with Yahoo! Answers is that once you answer a question, if someone else comes along and follows up with an answer that you’d like to respond to because it is factually incorrect, you can’t. You only get one shot at answering. So, if anyone at Yahoo! Answers sees this and would like to copy/paste it verbatim to this question, I give my permission and hereby declare this post to be in the Creative Commons. Anyone is free to copy/paste it anywhere else as long as credit is given as a link back to this blog. Also, you are free to modify or add to the post as long as the intent of the post isn’t changed.

Anyway, at Yahoo! Answers, a question was posed: Is the USA a Christian Nation. I responded. Then a Christian responded just after me with a laundry list of quotes and misquotes that lacked any context or completeness. Below is my response to this laundry list, completing johninjc’s list and putting his quotes and misquotes into context. Ironically, he begins with a pseudo-criticism of “[p]eople [using] quotes and misquotes.”

—————————————-

“I see this question all the time. People use quotes and misquotes all the time defending their position. I will give you links to each item I use. The links come from government websites and websites of major universities.”

Let’s look at these more closely, shall we?

Proclamations of Thanksgiving, Fasting, and Prayer
johninjc provides a several quotes from a linked images of single pages of a single Congressional proclamations in the year 1776-1779. The proclamations call for days of “solemn thanksgiving and praise” and prayer and use the religious language of the day.

What johninjc doesn’t bother with is the dissenting voices of the Founding Fathers to this type of proclamation. More than one of these proclamations were entered into Congressional record. And more than once they were opposed by names that carry far more Founding weight than E. Thompson and M. Weare.d

James Madison expressed several objections to such proclamations of thanksgivings and fasting in his Detached Memoranda [1][2]:

They seem to imply and certainly nourish the erronious [sic] idea of a national religion.

And Madison concluded with:

The idea also of a union of all to form one nation under one Govt in acts of devotion to the God of all is an imposing idea.

Indeed, Madison also questioned in that document the practice of including chaplains in the Congress:

Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

It’s also important to note that the proclamations as well as the chaplains were traditions that were started well before The United States became a nation, so johninjc was in error in using this as evidence for his “Christian nation.”

James Madison wasn’t the only Founding Father to object to proclamations of thanksgiving and fasting. Another, very notable, Founding Father, likewise, had his doubts about the wisdom of embracing any one religion or religion in general. That was none other than Thomas Jefferson.

In a letter written to Samuel Miller, Jefferson said:

Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. …But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U.S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from […] [my sense of reason] tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U.S. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

Another important detail is to note that even those Founding Fathers who were opposed to issuing these types of proclamations occasionally found themselves using religious beliefs for political purposes. Yet it doesn’t imply that they felt Christianity was either important or necessary in Founding the United States.

Quotes From Founding Fathers

George Washington

Next, johninjc proceeds to provide several quotes by Founding Fathers, leading off with George Washington and his inaugural address in 1789. In that address, Washington uses terms like “Almighty Being” and “invisible hand,” but he never once uses any Christian terminology. Indeed, he never says the word “God.” This should be painfully obvious to the Christian and, at the very least, concerning. Why wouldn’t Washington recognize their religious beliefs directly and specifically.

The reason, of course, is that he was a Deist not a Christian. Bishop White, Washington’s pastor, wrote in reply to Rev. B.C.C. Parker of Massachusetts when the good reverend was eager to learn of Washington’s “Christianity [3]:”

I do not believe that any degree of recollection will bring to my mind any fact which would prove General Washington to have been a believer in the Christian revelation further than as may be hoped from his constant attendance upon Christian worship, in connection with the general reserve of his character

I’ve no hyperlink to this book. Sorry. You may need to visit a library if you wish to verify the text. In such a trip to the library, one might probably encounter several of Washington’s contemporaries directly state that he “was a Deist.”

John Adams

Next, johninjc includes a quote by John Adams in a letter to Abigail regarding the manner in which the newly formed nation should celebrate its independence. In the letter, John writes to his beloved, “It [Independence Day] ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.” This is the most religious text of the document and johninjc, as well as a few desperate others, present this as some sort of evidence that Adams was a Christian.

What are we to make of this? Is Adams saying or implying that he is a Christian? Or is he acknowledging, as the agnostic and Deistic Founding Fathers frequently did, that religion is a good thing for the common people; that religion is present among the common people. If Adams is acknowledging that he is a Christian, then it will be a simple matter to find other quotes which more specifically and explicitly state as much. If, however, Adams is merely acknowledging that the common people hold religious beliefs and that it is expected that these religious language and superstition be included in significant events.

We don’t find explicit and direct admissions of religious belief among John or Abigail in their writings. We only see the vague and subjective use of religious language quoted above, which is used as the legal language of the day. Indeed, what we can readily find are quotes such as these [4][5]:

The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?

The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning…. And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.

Plenty of Adams’ letters and writings included religious language, enough, in fact, that that it might be logical to assume that, at least in his early years, he was a believer in the Christian God. It was clearer and clearer in his later years, however, that Adams’ religious views were more Deistic or perhaps even atheistic. Regardless, any scholar of Adams must admit that Adams opposed religious influences in government and was in favor of a distinct separation of Church and State. His signing the Treaty of Tripoli, more than any other document, demonstrates this [6]:

As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen … it is declared … that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. … The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation.

Thomas Jefferson

Finally, johninjc quotes two more Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson and . In each, he finds some spurious mentions of God and use of religious language, generally considered to be the legal language of the day. One is left to wonder if acknowledging only those quotes and speeches that confirm a conclusion already arrived at constitutes the sum of his learning. At the very least, it is the precise sort of “misquotes” johninjc pretended to have an objection to -snippets of writings and speech taken out of context or without consideration for opinions of the Founding Father that don’t match with his preconceived conclusions. Such Christians act and react without intellectual honesty, since information that doesn’t support their conclusions does not exist or is ignored.

Jefferson wrote this about Christianity [7]:

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited by a thousand millions of people. That these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but one of that thousand.

Indeed, as I noted previously on Yahoo! Answers, Jefferson was in favor of a “wall of seperation between church and state [8]:”

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties

The writings and opinions of the Founding Fathers are clear: there was to be a division of church and state; the United States of America was not to be a “Christian nation” any more than it was to be a Muslim nation or a Jewish nation.

Austin Cline at About.com writes:

The real problem is that traditionally, Christians and Christian groups occupied a position of privilege which was not accorded to any other religious tradition in America. Today, however, more and more of that privilege is being lost, and even if they are not able to consciously articulate it, many Christians are acutely aware of that loss and aren’t happy about it. Unfortunately for them, there also isn’t anything which they can do about it, at least so long as they remain committed a free nation.

I agree with Austin on this point. The goal of the religious right in the United States is to obtain,maintain, and/or sustain power and status, depending upon how they see their current situation. I would add that it is also unfortunate for these Christians that their position is un-American and not consistent with the patriotism and sense of unity that the Founding Fathers originally envisioned and ultimately laid out in their official and unofficial writings.

I chose the quotes and references above for the express purpose of demonstrating that the Founding Fathers were decidedly against the idea of religion being involved in government or state affairs. There is two ways one can view the title question of this post, is the United States a Christian nation?: 1) is it comprised of a majority that is Christian? 2) is it a nation that should be exclusively governed with Christian values, principles and doctrine in mind?

In the former, we can answer “yes” in much the same way that we could have answered “yes” to the question of whether the United States is a “white nation.” Yet, we shouldn’t be proud to do so. The real question is the latter, and to that the Founding Fathers have generously answered. The U.S. is not a “Christian nation,” but one where church and state affairs are held necessarily separate to the advantage of all believers and non-believers alike.

References
1. Madison, James (1823?). Detached Memoranda. Library of Congress. Found online at: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/madison/images/vc14p1.jpg [image]

2. Madison, James (1823?). Detached Memoranda. University of Chicago. Found online at: http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions64.html

3. Wilson, Byrd (1839). Memoir of Bishop White. Philadelphia, p.193

4. Braden, Bruce (2005). Ye Will Say I Am No Christian. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books

5. Carey, George W. (2001). The Political Writings of John Adams. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, p. 440

6. United States (1797). The Treaty of Tripoli. Library of Congress. Found online at: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsp&fileName=002/llsp002.db&Page=18

7. Jefferson, Thomas (1781-1782). Notes on the State of Virginia. Found online at: http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefVirg.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public∂=all

8. Jefferson, Thomas (1802, Jan 1). Jefferson’s Letter to the Danbury Baptists. Library of Congress, found online at: http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html

The Catholic League Would be a Joke if not so Wretched

The South Park parody of William Donohue

The South Park parody of William Donohue

“You don’t have a right to go into the street and mock my religion…”

That’s a direct quote of William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League. The CL and its loud, ridiculous leader, routinely attack the critics and the “blasphemers” of the catholic cult. Donohue attempts to portray the CL as an “anti-defamation” league, similar to the real Anti-Defamation League established to combat anti-Semitism (which has its own faults, but isn’t nearly as kooky as the CL). The problem is, his “league” mostly comes across as a kooky, wacko cult of Catholics who are just a shade less so than Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, who seek to bully and intimidate critics of Catholic superstitions and dogma. And Donohue exploits any opportunity to engage in loud, idiotic shouting matches on media outlets that are all-too-happy to point their cameras and microphones to any loud-mouthed asshole willing to pick a fight or start a controversy.

But it’s important to be clear on this point: Donohue is not championing the rights of catholics but, rather, he’s engaging in a campaign to suppress and bully those who criticize or ridicule the cults of Catholicism and to loudly bash anyone he disagrees with.

And you know what? That’s his right under free speech. That’s a right I spent over decade defending in military service and its one I’m willing to defend now. But that same right to Free Speech also exists for the people he so vehemently opposes. And that same right allows me to voice my opinion that he’s a blow-hard and an asshole.

Donohue’s irrational antics are recently demonstrated in the case of the catholic cracker, where the university student in Florida was bullied and threatened with death, both encouraged by Donohue, after he declined to eat a cracker given to him at a cult ritual held on public property in the commons area of a public university. Donohue’s superstition requires that the cracker be consumed and the superstition holds that said cracker, at some point, becomes the body of Jesus, a mythical deity in the catholic pantheon.

Donohue and his “league” sent letters, and encouraged cult followers to do likewise, which demanded the expulsion of the student that committed no crime and was, at worst, guilty of only blasphemy. According to the student, the intent wasn’t to offend, but to educate an inquiring peer on the nature of the cult rites they were observing in the commons area of their university. Since events held in such commons areas, particularly when funded in part or whole by fees collected with tuition payments (facilities fees), cannot exclude any member of the student body, the students, regardless of whether or not they were catholic, were free to attend. Interestingly enough, the student eventually returned the cracker to the cult leaders, who, along with Donohue, claimed that the student had “kidnapped” Jesus.

When noted atheist, biologist, and professor PZ Myers wrote of the crazies that were threatening the life of the student over such a trivial matter (an eye for an eye, a life for a cracker?) and calling for the student’s expulsion, Donohue and his cult followers then turned their radar on Myers, demanding his resignation and dismissal. Myers also received death threats, clearly encouraged by the tone and vehemence of Donohue’s very un-Christian actions.

But the lows to which Donohue is willing to stoop are best characterized and demonstrated by his previous rants and loud, irrational accusations of “defamation,” which are every bit as contrived, illogical and idiotic as the cracker nonsense.

During a winter holiday season in the recent past, Donohue bullied Walmart with threats of boycott by his “league” (which I’m not convinced isn’t just Donohue on his basement computer, sitting in his boxers, eating milk duds) when Walmart displayed on its website an all-encompassing “happy holidays” instead of the limiting and excluding “Merry Christmas,” claiming that Walmart had “banned xmas.” Donohue, the bigot that he is, cares not that a substantial portion of Walmart’s customers have faiths and beliefs that are different than his own and that marginalizing the minorities that work for and shop in Walmart is actually an unpatriotic and anti-American point of view.

But his creation of a non-issue regarding the non-existent “ban on xmas” notwithstanding, Donohue’s worst demonstration of idiocy and a disconnect with the very people he claims to be a champion for comes with his support of the pedophile priests. Rather than defend the families and victims who were truly being defamed if ever there was a case of defamation, Donohue chose to defend the pedophile, child-raping priests, stating and implying that the families were exaggerating and lying about the rapes.

If you come away from this article with only one opinion of Donohue, you should at least understand that he is a defender of pedophiles and the rapists of children.

Even his own cult leader, Pope Ratzinger, who also defended these pariahs of humanity, eventually acknowledged their behavior and apologized.

Anyway, have fun and watch a related YouTube video that made the rounds nearly a year ago.

On a closing note, I’ll end with a link to, and a brief excerpt, from a PDF that resides on a Catholic website that is critical of Donohue and his alleged league. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights: Neither Religious nor Civil.

Unable to explain away the Catholic church’s embarrassing pedophilia scandal, Donohue tried to turn it back on progressive Catholic activists, claiming that they were exaggerating the scandal to try and bring down the church

Creation on the Web and Morality

Codswallop on the Web has an article titled, “Can we be good without god?”

To the atheist, this question need not even be answered since we have no gods yet we’re “good.” Sure, there are “bad” atheists. Arguably fewer than there are “bad” theists, but then atheists don’t walk the Earth with an imagined “get out of jail free card” like those deluded by cults of Christianity do. We don’t assume that whatever we do, we can always just ask for forgiveness from an unseen and imaginary agent and all will be well.

For the atheist, this life is it. This is all there is and there’s no promised afterlife to strive for. And, for the atheist, any required forgiveness must be solicited from those whose lives were affected by our decisions. Therefore, we’re careful to live our lives as if though they were special and that we, alone, are responsible for who we are or what heights we can acheive.

Morality is the product of human experience and observation; ethics are not dependent upon religious superstition -though I will acknowledge that religious superstition can provide ethical and moral guidelines, but this is not because they were put there by any gods.

To demonstrate this, one need only note that the Judeo-Christian gods (there *are* more than one) are relatively new in human history. Cultures, both extant and extinct, exist that have gods that differ greatly from the Christian gods, yet these cultures have established moral and ethical guidelines. Indeed, there are universal commonalities between cultures of varied and often conflicting supernatural deities. In no culture, for instance, does it appear to be moral or ethical to murder one’s parents in order to assume their wealth.

Christians who make the argument Codswallop on the Web makes do so from an ignorant and undereducated perspective. From their ill-informed and irrational conclusion:

Morality is real precisely because God is real. As our Creator, He is the transcendent authority—the law-giver who gets to tell us what we ‘ought’ or ‘ought not’ to do.

The first sentence, of course, affirms the consequent, stating that morality is true because god is true. It also implies that without a god, there can be no morality, which is clearly hasn’t been shown to be the case. Such fallacious mistakes are common among those that seek to confirm only the conclusions they’ve already arrived at, remaining unwilling to open their minds to other alternatives. In addition, the ignorance of such arguments is further demonstrated by the second statement above since, if true, our society would embrace atrocities such as stoning adulteresses and victims of adultery, slavery, and the notion that it is better to offer up a daughter for rape than to permit a gang rape of a stranger. The god from whom ignorant and unquestioning Christians today believe their morality is derived has no problem with genocide (Joshua 6:20-21), yet few can be found in modern Western society that are willing to approve of the mass killings in Darfour. Then again, there’s little being done to stop these actions by Western society, dominated in the U.S. by Christian cults.

Moreover, I’ve little use for the morality of a god that approves of the pretty girls from the enemy for sex and forced marriage and, if she no longer “delights” me, I can simply let her free (
Deuteronomy 21:10-13). This after the pathetic and immoral god in question permitted me to slay all the males of my enemy and plunder not only the females (the young ones) but the livestock and whatever else I wanted. In the eyes of such a god I can be a thief, a murderer, a rapist, a slaver, and an asshole -but I can still have “everlasting life” as long as I “believe.” Codswallop.

So, when the poor, ignorant individual who wrote this article on Codswallop on the Web concludes that “atheists are in dire straits,” the rational mind is left to, therefore, conclude that apologists for Christian cults and their adherents are to be pittied. What a sad existence they have where they don’t see the glory and wonder in reality, chosing instead to bask in delusion and fantasy throughout their entire lives. Can such a person truly ever be free?

James Ross: My Stalker, My Friend

Okay, perhaps “stalker” is a little harsh, since it isn’t as though he’s followed me around from site to site on the internet. He’s stayed in the Employee of 1800Flowers.com thread, getting his attention fix there. His last comment was deleted, since it started off calling his host a “dunce” and a “cluck.” Sorry, pal, but you’re my guest and, as such, you don’t get to be an asshole. If you want to repost the comment like you have more sense, be my guest. Please.

But his prior comment, less obnoxious and “assholish” is worth posting. Perhaps others might like to respond to his questions about “what have atheists done for the world.”

Dear ylooshi, I suggested you google Vitz’s book, not read it. You can glean enough from that. As for your pretense to be scientific, why don’t you googel Stanly Jaki’s books. It’s just a click of the mouse. He is both a scientist and a priest. He demonstrates that the same guys who articulated Transubstantiation also invented western science.
Could you flesh out what you mean by “batshit crazy”. Is that a scientific term? Also, since atheists like you are parasites, holes in the donut, could you list some contributions your ilk have made to the world in the area of science, art, music, literature etc.? How many hospitals and orphanages they have built? I mean, what good are you anyway? What purpose do your icky little lives have? Why do you even bother to crawl out of bed in the morning? In 500 years, where will you be? Who even cares? What difference is it to you what we Catholics believe? C’mon son,vent. Get it all out. Let the healing begin. I am here for you. One more thing; did you say Myers is a “patriot”?!?! Like Jefferson and Franklin? Oh my goddess! you are wild

A look at Google reveals that Vitz was obsessed with demeaning atheism and never made an attempt to empirically test his assertion that atheists were the product of poor fathers. Indeed, Vitz appears to have thought that anyone that didn’t believe in the Judeo-Christian god was an atheist. Not only that, but just <i>believing</i> in this god wasn’t enough, one had to meet certain qualifications, such as regular church attendance or was to be considered an “atheist” in Vitz’s mind. He even went so far as to conclude that he was an atheist since he didn’t attend church, even though he believed in the Judeo-Christian god.

As for Stanley Jaki, I don’t think I need to Google his name, I’m somewhat familiar with the name. If memory serves correct he was (perhaps is) a physicist and argued that the metaphysics and superstitions of the catholic cult made science possible. This argument is easy to dismiss since so much about the Catholic versions of scientific understanding was wrong in medieval times. Moreover, other cultures such as the Vedic, Islamic, and Chinese had an edge up on things like mathematics and astronomy, and chemistry long before Europeans.

By “batshit crazy,” I mean the belief that the body and blood of a long-dead and alleged Messiah, that may or may not have even existed to begin with, replaces a cracker. Such an extraordinary claim has not even a modicum of evidence to support it, nor should one expect such magic and paranormal processes to exist since they don’t appear to anywhere in nature.

But it is this kind of ignorance that truly informs your bigotry: ” I mean, what good are you anyway? What purpose do your icky little lives have? Why do you even bother to crawl out of bed in the morning? In 500 years, where will you be? Who even cares?”

Such arguments by the superstitious have been refuted as fallacious time and time again, so I’ll defer to them. Suffice it to say that atheists have plenty to “crawl out of bed” for and if the only thing that inspires one crawl out of bed is the belief in gods and adhering to the superstitions that go with them, then one is pathetic indeed.

But you also ask of the contributions of atheists to society, which also shows your ignorance. Perhaps you should take your own advice with regard to “Google” and educate yourself as atheists have provided many, many contributions to society and not insignificantly either.

“Also, since atheists like you are parasites, holes in the donut, could you list some contributions your ilk have made to the world in the area of science, art, music, literature etc.?”

I hope you don’t mind the hyperlinks in your own quote. Don’t forget to click “etc.”

Those above are off the top of my head as are: Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov, Andrew Carnegie, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Frank Zappa, Frank Lloyd Wright, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Jackson Pollack, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ethan Allen, Albert Einstein, Ayn Rand, Bertrand Russell, Hellen Keller, George Bernard Shaw, Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinam, Gene Roddenberry, Kurt Vonegut, Frank Crick, James Watson, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, James Joyce, John Lennon, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Sir Richard Burton, Oscar Wilde, and the list goes on, and on, and on….

Are all Believers Bigots?

This was the question that was posed to me by James Ross, a visitor to my Employee of 1800Flowers.com thread, when I accused him of bigotry. It’s a fair question. I thought I’d repost my answer to the atheosphere, which is…

… I suppose that depends on what they believe in. If they believe blasphemy is a “sin” that deserves death, then yes. If they believe that atheists, non-believers, or those that believe in cults different than their own have not the right to be free of their spam/proselytizing, then yes. If they believe that people different than they don’t deserve equal rights (i.e. different races, genders, sexual preferences), then yes. If they believe that their superstitions should be unquestioned and respected even if done in public and forced upon the public (which is where the communion Cook attended took place), then yes.

If they believe that scientific knowledge must be suppressed and avoided in public schools because it threatens their superstitions, then yes.

If they accept only supernatural terms to explain the world and seek to impose these superstitions on the rest of society, then yes.

If they believe that those who don’t accept their superstitions or have superstitions different than their own are immoral or unjust because of this, then yes.

If they believe that criticizing religion, their’s or anyone else’s, should be a taboo; if they believe that non-believers should remain silent while their superstitions are codified in local, state, and federal governments; if they believe it’s okay to defend anyone who threatens bodily harm to a critic -be it in jest or not, then yes -they are bigots in the truest sense of the word.

(n) bigot (a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own)

And because I’m big enough to recognize some of my own intolerance (I can’t stand assholes, for instance), I’m also willing to admit, freely, that I’m open to change. I’m willing to enhance, improve, revise, or even completely turn around any opinion that I hold.

I only require a modicum of evidence.