Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

(Old News) I Stand With the Danish Cartoonists

May 13, 2007

The fact that anyone would possibly condemn the printing of an image more harshly than perpetrators of murder driven by the “offense” caused by said images is absurd. The reaction in some parts Islamic world to these images shows a poor understanding of what is meant by “freedom of speech.” Freedom of speech means freedom of speech for everyone for one very important reason: if speech is to be limited, the limitations of speech must be imposed by some human entity (they surely aren’t given from the heavens), and how do you suppose such entity would impose these limitations? And how would it find the authority to decide, conclusively, what can be said? There is no reason to believe anyone who claims to have such authority. In a free intellectual society good ideas and bad ideas are not simply dictated to the masses. Ideas compete with each other. Good ideas withstand scrutiny, and bad ideas crumble in light of reason – that is how we move forward.

In a totalitarian society – a society ruled by brute force – the persistence of an idea is removed from its merit, and becomes the function of who has the largest army or the most powerful weaponry or the most easily mobilized hoards. The aniconism of Mohammad, as anything more than a personal and private belief, is not a “good” idea. It would not survive the market place of ideas, because it is based on shoddy, non-existent evidence. Nobody has any obligation to give any credence to or respect to that “rule.” The violent reaction of some Islamic fundamentalists – while wholly reinforcing the danish artists’ point – was patently totalitarian or fascist or brutish or monarchial or tyrannical. Whichever term you like.

The charges against the Danish newspaper of cultural insensitivity or prejudice are false, and even if they weren’t, they would be entitled to their opinion – just as the Islamic community would be entitled to a non-violent rebuttal. Yes, making unsupported claims and sweeping generalizations about arbitrary classifications (like race) is wrong. But it is important not to confuse this with rampant moral relativism. The cartoonists are not stereotyping. They make no sweeping generalizations about Arabs or the Middle-East, because they don’t need too. Their targets are adherents to a specific religion which already has the platforms of its ideology in print. Islam, like the other monotheistic religions, is a violent religion. It calls for forced conversion, and promises a fleshly paradise for martyrs. It makes claims that are incompatible with well-reasoned secular society, and it isn’t content with only believing these claims in private.

I stand with the Danish newspaper’s decision to print those cartoons. If I did not agree with them, I would stand by their right to print those cartoons, and expect rational rebuttals and non-violent confrontation. Freedom of speech is essential to any free society, and to silence free speech through force, or fear of violence, is strictly totalitarian. The asymmetry of the “crimes” committed is so stark that the galvanizing act is no crime at all and the response – which shouldn’t have escalated past the point of an angry letter to the editor – was veritable atrocity. In this situation, the only party worthy of harsh condemnation is that which intends to violently force its views on others – in this case, Islamic extremists and the dangerous dogmas they follow.

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Religious Beliefs that Include Holocaust Denial Being Tip-Toed Around in UK Schools…

April 2, 2007

Cultural relativism reaches a new low. here is another article.

I don’t know what to say about this, except “oh no…”.

(Edit: it was pointed out that it is “expected” that the holocaust will required next year.)

Jesus Myth

March 12, 2007

Here is a short clip of Dan Barker from the recent event at UCLA where Dan talked about the Historicity of Jesus

And here is a photgraph from the event:

Jesus Myth

And the Antichrist is… Al Gore?

March 3, 2007

Pope Benedict (the Whatever) has been notified by the Archbishop of Bologna, who was was presumably talking to God (or Jesus? Or the Holy Spirit?), that the Anti-Christ will be a a pacifist, and ecologist, and an ecumenist. So some one who doesn’t like war, thinks it might be important to prevent the destruction of the environment, and would like to see the entire world live in peace and unity together! Well, it looks like you are in luck Bishop – you don’t have to worry because John Lennon is already dead. Because a psychopath conservative religious whack-job, like you, shot him in the head. And who is to fight this peace lovin’ hippy – er, evil beast? The Eastern Orthodox, the Catholic, and the Protestant. Way to mobilize the Christian right! I will be looking foreward to more bigotry, gas-guzzling SUVs, needless wars, and attacks on science and progress in the future. Ass.

(Edited for factual errors.)

Westboro Baptist Church

February 22, 2007

Westboro baptist church is run by an extreme Christian literalist named Fred Phelps. He thinks it is a good idea to “protest” at the funerals of dead homosexuals and dead soldiers.

Watch

Interestingly enough, Ms. Phelps position makes more sense than Hannity’s or Colmes, if they all believe the bible is the word of God. Hannity and Colmes both claim to be Christians but ignore the obvious hatred of homosexuals expressed in the bible. Moderate religion is a strange thing.

In God We Don’t Trust

February 17, 2007

Another article for the union:

In God We Don’t Trust

The United States of America is not, never has been, and hopefully never will be a Christian Nation. The US was not founded upon Christian ideals. The founding fathers were not Christians. Thomas Jefferson, the man who penned the declaration of independence, was respectful of the teachings of Jesus as a moral philosopher, but he was not a Christian. Likewise, the rest of the founding fathers, as was common amongst enlightenment thinkers, were not Christians. Most of them were deists. This meant that they did not believe in any sort of personal God who answered prayers or performed miracles. The God of the founding fathers was an apathetic god, designing the laws and constants of the universe and leaving it to its own devices. The list of deist forefathers is a long and prominent one, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.

At any rate, the personal belief systems of the framers of the constitution are irrelevant because the first amendment clearly shows that they intended to keep church and state separate. The first amendment reads: “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.” The language is quite clear. Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of any religion. That means you can’t legislate what is written in the Bible, or the Koran, or any other alleged divinely-inspired book. So is it ok to refuse homosexuals the right to marry, simply because the Bible views homosexuality as wrong? No, it isn’t. Nor is it legit to ban abortion simply because the good book says that “God knew you in the womb.” If any of this sort of thing is going to fly in the legal system, it better be backed by some good logical reasoning and while abortion might come close to having logical reasons against it, I can say with certainty that there are definitely no good secular reasons to bar homosexuals from marriage.

In the same vein, the inclusion of the words “under God” and “in God we trust” in the pledge of allegiance and on our money is absolutely unconstitutional. An ignorant person might say, “but doesn’t the first amendment support freedom of religion, but not freedom from religion?” Nope. But, even if it did not mean freedom from religion, the inclusion of the capital “G” God on the dollar bill is clearly the establishment of one type of religion over another. Ever hear of polytheism? Animism? Eastern spiritualism? Scientology?? There are many religions in the world that do not believe in the monotheistic sky-god of Judeo-Christian tradition, and there are countless more that I could just make up on the spot! Not to mention, “under God” and “in God we trust” weren’t even added to the pledge and to our currency until the 1950’s in the midst McCarthyism, which, in my opinion, is the closest we have ever come as a nation to theocracy and American fascism.

It is apparent that a wall between church and state is necessary for the success of any governing body that guarantees freedom to all of its citizens. For freedom to exist, every individual must be able to exercise his own freedom, until he or she is treading upon the freedom of another. It follows that minority groups are not impeding upon the “rights” and moral codes of Christians when they move to have “under God” removed from the pledge, ask for mandatory prayer to be removed from government run schools, or ask for the same marriage rights as the rest of the population. On the contrary, if any of the above are put into law by a Christian majority, then the line between exercising personal freedom and limiting the freedom of another has been crossed and we have ventured into the realm of coercion and tyranny. America is not a Christian nation because America is a free nation. It cannot be both.

Sean