Fascinating and terrifying stuff: “Can Religion Justify Bullying Children?” (a talk by Sean Faircloth.) If you’ve got a spare half hour or so, I highly recommend giving this a watch. Never let it be said that fundamentalist Christianity isn’t a threat to nonbelievers or believers of other stripes.
On Slashdot today, a conversation about how people on the internet tend to dismiss news sources they don’t agree with and gravitate toward those they do somehow managed to transform into an argument about religion and morality. Someone actually tried to argue that even if there is no god, it’s best to promote organized religion, because without it we’d be a bunch of murderous, rapacious, thieving beasts and society would fall apart, since most people are too intellectually lazy (read: inept) to figure out morality for themselves.
I’ll lay it out for you…
John Shook, director of education and a senior research fellow for the Center for Inquiry – an organization that is typically friendly toward skepticism, critical thinking, and atheism – has written a scathing attack on … someone, I’m not entirely sure who, exactly … in the good ol’ HuffPo.
Happy Draw Muhammad Day, everybody.
What’s it about? I’ll let Wikipedia explain it.
The Schenectady Daily Gazette occasionally has a column by Carl Strock called “The View From Here.” It’s often inflammatory and a bit mixed-up on the various flavors of Christianity, but his column from today was pretty interesting. If you’re a Gazette subscriber, you can read it here, but everybody else who doesn’t want to shell out a few bucks to read it is out of luck. Fortunately, I have a physical copy of the Gazette on hand, so I’ll quote rather liberally from it…
Last night I went out with some friends to see this movie. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s essentially a vastly amusing thought experiment put together by Ricky Gervais. The premise: Imagine a world where humanity never evolved the ability to deceive. Not only are people incapable of telling a lie, but they can’t even lie by omission – they basically say whatever’s on their mind. There aren’t even white lies, told to save someone’s feelings. The truth is just brutal and honest. And everyone believes everything everyone else says, since they can’t even conceive of the idea of “false.”
Now, introduce Gervais’ character, Mark Bellison, a screenwriter for Lecture Films, a hit movie company that makes… lectures about history, since fiction doesn’t exist. Bellison is basically a loser on his way down to the bottom, when in a moment of desperation he suddenly develops the ability to lie. Astonished at his ability to say “things that aren’t…” – never finishing this phrase, since “true” is meaningless in this world – he attempts to demonstrate his ability to his friends, but they simply accept all the lies he says as true, no matter how ridiculous, because they can’t even begin to detect that they aren’t true.
Eventually, Bellison uses his newfound talent to get rich and famous, after making the first fictional screenplay in the history of mankind (which everyone believes without hesitation). But when his ailing mother is close to death, he rushes to the hospital, and out of the anguish of hearing his mother speak of the eternity of nothingness to come, he invents heaven. He forgets that he’s not alone with his mother, and the hospital staff overhears.
I thought of this while listening to The Atheist Experience at work today.
Many religious people love to promote the idea that religion and science are just two different ways of gaining knowledge about the world. They say that since science can’t give us all the answers we want right away, the only way we can find answers to the unanswered questions is to seek some sort of spiritual enlightenment.
Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern has proposed what she calls the “Oklahoma Citizen’s Proclamation for Morality.” The proposition, which can be read in its entirety here, is truly comedy gold. She claims that “our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis,” which (of course) can be blamed entirely on abortion, same-sex marriage, pornography, divorce, illegitimate births, and other favorite canards of the fanatically-religious right.
She whines and moans about how President Obama didn’t officially recognize the National Day of Prayer, but he did recognize a month of tolerance for the LGBT community.
But the real juicy idiocy is at the very end:
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we the undersigned elected officials of the people of Oklahoma, religious leaders and citizens of the State of Oklahoma, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, solemnly declare that the HOPE of the great State of Oklahoma and of these United States, rests upon the Principles of Religion and Morality as put forth in the HOLY BIBLE; and
BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, believers in the One True God and His only Son, call upon all to join with us in recognizing that “Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord,” and humbly implore all who love Truth and Virtue to live above reproach in the sight of God and man with a firm reliance on the leadership and protection of Almighty God; and
BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, humbly call upon Holy God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, to have mercy on this nation, to stay His hand of judgment, and grant a national awakening of righteousness and Christian renewal as we repent of our great sin.
Signed on the second day of July in the year of our Lord Christ Two Thousand and Nine.
Yowza. This from a woman who says she understands separation of church and state… and who has, in the past, said that homosexuals were a worse threat to America than terrorists. Does anything really need to be said here? She needs to be gone. Fast.
This kind of stuff needs to be shoved forcibly into the light of day. Thanks to the folks at Right Wing Watch for this one.
A few days ago at Starbucks I had a friendly discussion about atheism and skepticism with a barista. She noticed that I was reading Dan Barker’s Godless, which tells the story about how Barker, a former fundamentalist/evangelical Christian preacher, gradually lost his faith and became an atheist (and is now co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation). The book’s subject prompted her to ask if I was an atheist, and when I told her that I was, her reaction was reassuringly nonchalant.