Monthly Archives: September 2011

Alpha Course Redux: Week #2

I just got back from my second week of my second Alpha Course, and boy… was tonight ever different than last week. Another nice dinner with friendly chitchat; another cheerful singalong; a somewhat insipid video; and a much more lively conversation than before. We had a new member of the group, and we lost a member, so it balanced out. But I’ll get to that soon enough – first, the video.

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Dexter and Theology

If you haven’t seen the Showtime series Dexter… do. It’s about a forensic blood spatter expert working for Miami PD’s Homicide division who moonlights as a serial killer that tracks down other murderers. It’s a fantastic dramatic series, and it really makes you love a truly bad guy.

The new season has some seriously religious overtones to it. Dexter, who has never given a moment’s thought to religion, is trying to get his son into a good pre-school, which just happens to be a Catholic school, and has to deal with figuring out why people believe all this stuff. There’s also a ‘big bad’ serial killer going around using Biblical language and symbolism in his killings, apparently as a means of trying to bring about the Apocalypse in the book of Revelation.

Anyway… Eventually, at his high school reunion, Dexter tracks down a football player who killed his wife and made it look like a suicide, and plays with him in the usual Dexter style. Upon seeing that the killer has a tattoo of Jesus on his chest, the conversation turns to faith.

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Alpha Course Redux: Week #1

I was blogging about attending an Alpha Course. Then I upgraded my laptop’s hard drive, and lost a bunch of recordings in the process. Then I found a backup, but it’d already been months since I took the course… and it was a pain to try to remember everything we talked about.

So… I’m doing it again. But this time, I’ll be blogging each week immediately following the meeting.

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New debate to watch: “Atheists are wrong”

This should be fun!

In case you haven’t heard of it: Intelligence Squared (IQ2) is a multinational series of public debates held on often controversial subjects touching issues like race, religion, sexuality, and politics. They’ve got a great backlog of debates featuring prominent speakers from all across the spectrum.

On September 6, IQ2 Australia held a debate over the proposition “Atheists are wrong.” Here’s the summary:

Having been persecuted as a dangerous minority for centuries, in recent years the champions of atheism have achieved celebrity status around the world. Atheists have been quick to point to the evils done in the name of religion and to claim that their criticism of religion is grounded in the demands of reason. Their opponents have championed faith as a source of inspiration and as an essential aspect of the human condition. However, beyond rhetorical skirmishes, in the end, just one fundamental question must be answered: does God exist?

The video isn’t available yet, but when it is, it’ll be online here. I’ve never heard of any of the speakers, which should make it interesting to watch. In any case, judging from the pre- and post-debate audience poll results, it should be interesting to watch; the pro-proposition group decreased slightly, the undecideds almost vanished, and anti-proposition group jumped by 10%.

IQ2 has featured a few debates on the subject of atheism/religion in the past, three of which (on the propositions “We would be better off without religion”, “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”, and “Atheism is the new fundamentalism”) are available to watch online. I highly recommend them all.

We’re dangerous!

We can always count on Republican politicians to give us clarity! Today, the GOP presidential candidates (sans Rick Perry, who was apparently off fighting wildfires) met in South Carolina to hold a forum where they shared their views on various subjects. Newt Gingrich said something that has had remarkably little coverage in the mainstream press, save for this one story:

At a GOP candidates’ forum in South Carolina, Gingrich maintained that everyone, especially a president, needs God’s help in “a world where evil always lurks.” He added that someone who faces serious issues without praying “would be a person who totally misunderstood the nature of life and who would be dangerous holding a major office.”

Apparently, it’s still okay to say stuff like this about atheists. Well, then, I guess we can just ignore Article 6, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution!

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Good to know you can disregard the Constitution as much as you like and still be considered a serious candidate so long as you believe in a god.