Archive for August, 2011


A link to a post by Sam Harris

Sam Harris wrote a response to a TEDx talk by the neuroscientist David Eagleman. It’s not a long post and well worth reading here: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/whither-eagleman/

While I freely admit that Sam Harris is perhaps not the most engaging speaker and his books aren’t the easiest or the most exciting the read, the man has clarity of thought second to none and his writing is exceedingly clear and concise and conveys his points masterfully.

What I’m really trying to say is that I wish, enviously, that I could think and write like him. Nigh on every sentence in his post is a gem like this one:

We simply observe, as you do, that the God of Abraham has the same empirical status as Poseidon and that the books attesting to His existence bear every sign of having been cobbled together by ignorant mortals. This is all one needs to judge Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to be incorrigible cults peddling ancient mythology.

Its true, one god has the same empirical status as another – all of them – and it doesn’t take much to see that. Which does lead one to wonder why so many can’t.

In fact, atheism (old and new) is entirely comfortable with the sentiment, famously expressed by the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane, that “the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

Anybody who has spent any amount of time looking into quantum mechanics or particle physics can tell you that the universe really is so strange it’s hard if not impossible to imagine. So strange that nobody could have imagined just how strange. And we keep finding even stranger things every day. God, just isn’t one of those things.

About the three Abrahamic religions he says:

Worse still, each rests on the premise that its holy book contains the transcribed thoughts of an omniscient Deity. A glance at the books reveals this claim to be manifestly insane, as each is barren of scientific insights and bursting with logical, factual, and moral errors

Indeed.

Now go read “Whither Eagleman” on Sam’s blog. (I do wish he would allow comments).

Now where could George Orwell have gotten his idea's for doublethink form...

Now where could George Orwell have gotten his idea's for doublethink form...

I have a Christian work friend with whom I avoid speaking about religion because I fear the conversation will not go well and since we work closely together, souring our work relationship by discussing religion just doesn’t seem worth it. He’s quite bright and he’s very good at what he does. I respect the work he does and he only very infrequently mentions his Christian delusion which makes it tolerable. I keep my rampant anti-theism in check and don’t comment on the religious inanities and so work carries on in a nice and productive manner.

Every now and then he does come up with quite a gem, this one in particular on Twitter recently:

Why does everyone think that if you are christian you are anti science? I LOVE science – science has bought us HEAPS of cool stuff …

Well. Where to start. I think I’ll stick to just science and Christian religion for now and leave the sheer number of issues with Christianity on its own aside.

If you’re definitely a Christian and you think you are not anti-science, then one of the following must be true:

  • You do not understand Christianity
  • You do not understand science
  • You cherry pick from both Christianity and from science

The word for what Christians do, who feel they are not anti-science, is “doublethink”.

Doublethink, a word coined by George Orwell in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, describes the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts

Why doublethink? Because to hold Christianity as unquestionably true and to hold fundamental scientific theories as true at the same time, you have to employ doublethink.

Let me give you an example of the first two points together, not understanding Christianity and/or not understanding science.

Biology... the King James version.

Biology... the King James version.

Take Evolution (the theory of evolution by natural selection) for example. Evolution is a scientific fact. There is no debate within the scientific community regarding it’s truth. In fact, the only ‘debate’ around Evolution exists in the minds of Intelligent Design proponents. If you accept the truth of the fact of Evolution, you have to employ doublethink to also be Christian because since Evolution is true, there was no Adam and Eve. There was no Garden of Eden. There was no ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’. There was no ‘original sin’. If there was no original sin there is no reason to for one Jesus Christ to have died for that non-existent ‘original sin’. All of that makes the following statement empty and worthless and even more pointless than it already is:

When Jesus died, He died for a reason. His death was not an accident. He came to this earth in order to forgive our sins. He had to die in order to do this. He came because Adam and Eve had disobeyed God.”

Since Evolution is true, there was no ‘original sin’ and no reason for Jesus to have been here or have been crucified. And it’s not only scientists that accept this fact. Christian fundamentalist and young earth creationist Ken Ham thinks too, that if Evolution were true it disproves Christianity; I wrote a post about the demolition of Christianity by Ken Ham a while ago (but obviously he doesn’t believe Evolution to be true…).

As another example, science has not managed to detect any supernatural influence in the world. One might (OK, not really might, Christians do think, for various… colourful reasons) think that god is undetectable but I showed in this post that clearly science is perfectly equipped for finding god or at least finding the influence of god in the real world. Science is “the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” and any effect perceivable by human beings occur in the “physical and natural” world.

Science has not found any effects on the world that are supernatural and require a god to explain them.

As to understanding Christianity (Baptist in this case): it doesn’t take much looking into published Baptist beliefs to see the incompatibilities of the beliefs with science. Here’s just two examples:

Soul freedom: the soul is competent before God, and capable of making decisions in matters of faith without coercion or compulsion by any larger religious or civil body

There is no soul. Now, one might (and again, the religious do) argue that science just can’t detect the soul. Fair enough, that may be, but as in my post about finding God, for your soul to be you or you to be your soul, there has to be a physical interface between your undetectable soul and your physical body and brain. Without this physical interface your soul can’t influence your body and your soul can’t know anything about you. Science has found no reason to even suspect there might be a soul and just like in detecting a god’s effects, detecting things that influence the ‘physical and natural’ world, like your brain, is exactly what science is good for.

You cannot have ‘soul freedom’ without a soul.

The second example:

Historically, Baptists have emphasized the sole authority of the Scriptures, or sola scriptura, and therefore believe that the Bible is the only authoritative source of God’s truth. Chapter one of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith states:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience…

Contradictions: The Bible has them.

Contradictions: The Bible has them.

It’s easy enough say that the Bible is “the only authoritative source of God’s truth” and that it is “infallible” but it cannot be true since the Bible contradicts it’s self (not to mention reality) in literally hundreds of places. Would you go to a brain surgeon who learnt his craft from a book that contradict its self hundreds of times? Do you really, honestly believe that a book contrived by the almighty creator of the universe could possibly be put together this badly? It’s incompatible with science (and reality) because science wouldn’t accept a theory that contradicts its self repeatedly. When science comes across some evidence that proves a theory wrong, science discards the incorrect theory and accepts the new one, it doesn’t hold both to be infallibly true.

You might not believe me about the contradictions in the Bible and you might refuse to look at the link that contains a nice graphical representation of those Biblical contradictions so, let’s do an experiment. The single most important event in all of Christianity was obviously the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen more cross like implements of torture and death around people’s necks  than I think is good for a person so this must be the case. Since the whole point of Christianity is ‘Jesus died for our sins’, his death then surely, is the most important thing about Christianity.

Without looking at references, what were Jesus’s last words? If I were a Christian, I would most certainly make myself remember these most important words ever spoken. I mean, they were literally uttered the moment all of my and everybody I know’s sins were forgiven and were given free passage to everlasting joy and happiness. It’s freaking important that Christians know this, right?

Do NOT take literally... and other bits of sound advice.

Do NOT take literally... and other bits of sound advice.

Let me help you out. The last words as spoken by Jesus Christ is recorded at least three times in the infallible, unchanging word of the almighty creator of the universe:

MATTHEW 27:46,50: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

LUKE 23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:” and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

JOHN 19:30: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished:” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

And those are just the contradictions of his last words. Another example from a different part of the Bible, and this one is pretty hard to mistake (emphasis mine, obviously):

II SAMUEL 24:13: So God came to David, and told him, and said unto him, shall SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE come unto thee in thy land? or will thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue. thee?

I CHRONICLES 21:11: SO God came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee. Either THREE YEARS OF FAMINE or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;

Science says no…

The Baptist denomination is much more progressive than some other Christian denominations, I’ll grant that, but is there a scientific basis with empirical evidence for the next line (again, emphasis mine):

While many Baptist congregations are open to woman in all positions, ” many Southern Baptist churches have women as deacons (or deaconnesses) and associate pastoral roles, but will not consider calling a woman to their senior pastorate; others restrict all those roles to men

There are two problems with that statement. The first one is that there is no scientific basis for women to be regarded as inferior to men and so no reason what so ever to stop women from performing any task a man performs. Now, I realise that some progressive Baptists allow a woman to hold any position a man holds (but obviously some don’t) unfortunately, this goes against what the Bible teaches:

I CORINTHIANS 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

See the doublethink there? The Bible in more than one place says women are to be subservient to men, and Christians profess to believe the Bible; however, since we know women and men really are equal, some Churches allow women to do what the Bible expressly forbids. How does this happen? By either applying some serious sophistry and backwards rationalisation or just simply ignoring the inconvenient passages. Doublethink.

This post could go on forever but I’ll give two more examples:

Science now estimates there to be around 8.74 million species of animal on the planet. Now, it’s blatantly obvious that no man ever built a boat big enough to contain 17.48 million animals and their food for a couple of years, yet this is what the Bible says. Now, fundamentalist Christians have rationalised this problem by saying that Noah only took a couple of every ‘kind’ (so two ants instead of two ants from every single species) and those two animals then ‘evolved’ into the sheer number that are present today.

Some issues with that would include:

  • the fact that 4500 years isn’t enough time for one ant to evolve into a million species of ant
  • 4500 years isn’t enough time for animals to re-populate the entire planet from the middle east
  • that there isn’t enough genetic diversity in just two animals to re-populate the planet
  • an ant from South America would need quite a bit of help to get to and from the middle east
  • there isn’t enough genetic diversity in 6 people to re-populate the planet
  • genetics show that we aren’t descended from just 6 people
  • genetics show we weren’t descended from just 2 people
  • we have archaeological evidence from the ancient Sumerians, Neanderthals and Africans that pre-date the flood; how could it have survived?
  • there isn’t enough water on the planet to flood the whole planet
  • where is mount Sinai, exactly?
  • who took all of the bacteria, viruses and other parasites in their bodies on the ark and why didn’t those hosts die or host’s immune systems kill the foreign organisms?

Crucially, there is no credible scientific evidence for a world-wide flood.

And while we’re on the subject of issues and evidence, accepting ‘micro evolution’ because you need it to explain a ridiculous story but refusing to accept ‘macro evolution’ (it’s in quotes because in reality there aren’t two types of evolution, just limits to what some people are willing to accept) is disingenuous. These two ‘types’ of evolution use the same mechanism and the same time frames and a) evolution doesn’t just magically stop just before speciation and b) it doesn’t happen to the extent that the flood story requires in only 4500 years.

So, back to the question: “why does everyone think that if you are christian you are anti science?”.

If a person says they are a Christian, I will believe that they believe they are but  if they believe they are both Christian and not anti-science I must question their understanding of what they profess to believe; they have to either not understand science, not understand Christianity or cherry pick and doublethink from both science and religion. None of those options are acceptable since none is the truth.

If you are religious and believe that the scientific method works, and clearly it does since you’re reading this on a global computer network, then why do you not apply it to your religion like you apply it to the religion of others?

The only logical conclusion.

The only logical conclusion.

The first picture in this post about “doublethink” is from PainfullyIrreverent.com who sell a bunch of awesomely irreverent things. Check them out here: http://www.cafepress.com/painfullyirreverent and buy all the things.

Don't take Jesus literally, well, maybe...

Don't take Jesus literally, well, maybe...

Sometimes I wonder if Christians ever take the time to consider this particular aspect of how they go about their beliefs. Actually, I know many, if not all of them, have considered this because I asked a while back and a Christian responded. Here’s what I asked:

2. If Jesus Christ, son of the almighty creator of the universe, your God, has said, to be perfect, you should sell everything you own and give the proceeds to the poor:
a) Why is every Christian in the world not doing this?
b) Eternity is a long time, presumably more important that a hundred years; if you truly, honestly believe 100% in Jesus Christ, why are you not following your God’s suggestions and selling everything you own right now?

And here’s what John (a Christian) responded:

Jesus was making a point and exposing the rich man, that he cared more about his fortune and wealth than he did about God. It is not an instruction to Christians to sell all their stuff.

That’s a reasonable answer I think. Provided you feel no obligation to try to imitate Jesus or follow what he preached. I am willing to accept that in that particular context Jesus wasn’t commanding Christians directly (I mean, obviously, since there weren’t any Christians yet…) to sell all their stuff.

What I do think is that it’s a bit convenient though, like the cartoon points out, that Christians accept (or allege to accept) all the profoundly ridiculous things in the Bible, as well as the other teachings of Jesus who were, quite frankly, also not aimed directly at Christians either. But the second something crops up that might inconvenience them, then that wasn’t directed at them, it was to teach a rich man a lesson and Christians can safely ignore that inconvenient bit of the Bible.

So what, can’t Christians learn from their deity’s lessons to other people? Apparently not. Not when it involves, you know, actual personal inconvenience.

Here’s what I think: if Christians really, truly, honestly believed what they profess to believe they would do as their god did and commanded 100%. They would follow every single thing in the Bible to the letter and they would spend everything they have, every waking moment doing exactly what they expect and look forward to do for eternity in heaven: worship their God. They would act more like Hasidic Jews or Muslims who pray five times a day. They would take their religion seriously.

That they don’t speaks volumes.

(Cartoon from Freethunk)

Nothing says "I have faith" like bullet resistant glass.

Nothing says "I have faith" like bullet resistant glass.

Those of us who have the sacred, and apparently rare, ability of “clear thinking” laugh (or cry a little in frustration) at the pope every time we see him in public. The man in the dress. The personal representative of the almighty creator of the universe on earth. The man with a direct line to god… allegedly.

It’s freaking ridiculous that people still believe this crap.

Nothing says “I have faith” like several inches of bullet resistant glass and armed body guards.  The man sitting behind the bullet proof glass is pragmatic; he stakes his life not on faith and his god but on science. The leader of the largest church of Jesus Christ who is allegedly the almighty god of the entire universe stakes his pathetic existence on science. In this case, the life preserving science of bullet resistant transparent materials.

Why science? Paraphrasing the immortal words of xkcd: because it works, bitches.

Prayer? What’s it good for? Making yourself feel a bit better. When it comes down to shit that will kill you, why, then science is obviously the way to go. Just about every religionut on this planet displays this tragic failure of logic… or faith, depending on which way you look at it.

Teh stoopid. It burns.

Oh, the picture is from the story posted here about a massive crowd of delusional children coming out to see the brave and fearless leader of the Catholic church himself. The article is titled “Father Raymond J. de Souza: Giving the young something to believe in”. The massive shame being that it’s not the truth that he’s giving them to believe in.

I say delusional, but it sounds like Spain’s having a bit of a hard time and the correlation between social security (or the lack thereof) and religiosity has been drawn many times, all the way back to Karl Marx’s critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right in 1843. Marx said:

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

It makes perfect sense. When people worry too much about tomorrow, about what’s going on about them, when they don’t have stability and security they get desperate and clutch at straws. Unfortunately human nature seems to push us to clutch at the straws from the straw men of religion.

Faith by any other name...

Faith by any other name...

PZ Myers just wrote a post decrying the use of the label “interfaith” to describe the cooperation between the religious and atheists and he refuses to operate under such a label because of the ‘faith’ part of the word.

I’m with him 100%. Faith is a dirty word, it goes against everything that atheism is; it eschews empirical evidence. It is obedience without question. I am not willing to operate under that label even, or especially, when cooperating with the religious for the greater human good.

Dressing up anything with the word ‘faith’ attached to it is a bit like decorating something with Amorphophallus titanum – it may seem more interesting, perhaps prettier but in reality is smells like a decomposing corpse.

Perhaps “inter-ideological cooperation” is a better way to describe it. I would be more comfortable with it myself, if put that way.

Just a thought.

We Are Atheism

We Are Atheism: Stand up and be counted!

The “We Are Atheism” campaign is a platform that enables atheists to be heard, to stand up and be counted. The campaign is to show atheists around the world that we are not alone, we are many, we are proud of it and we won’t be ignored.

The campaign website is here: http://www.weareatheism.com/

Atheists everywhere acknowledging that they are atheists makes it easier for those who haven’t been able to publicly acknowledge who they are to do so.

The only things we have in common is our lack of belief in god and our humanity. Well, perhaps those aren’t the only things, after all, a preference for reason, logic and truth are traits you’ll find in most atheists. At the very least though, that we see no credible evidence for any deity existing what so ever, is something we do share.

I haven’t uploaded a video but even though video is really not  my thing, I think I might do so.

A host of popular atheist speakers, like Hemant Mehta, Greta Christina and Jen McCreight  already support the campaign and tell their stories about their atheism and how it changed their lives for the better. And then there is Chris Redford (YouTube’s Evid3nc3, I think I might be his biggest fan) who’s video’s on his de-conversion and thought process are mind blowingly awesome and provide clear, logical progression from very Christian to atheist.

It’s ok to be an atheist

The “We Are Atheism” campaign will:

  • Provide an outlet for atheists to feel comfortable to come out o the closet.
  • Always let visitors know there are other people out there that are non-believers.
  • Help people find other atheists like them in their state, city, and even neighborhood.
  • Give access to local, national, and international organization to become involved in the secular community.
  • Empower people to start their own organization in areas that does not already have one.

You can read more about how the campaign came about here: http://www.weareatheism.com/about/

Always be awesome.

Finding God.

What? You worship water vapour?

What?! You worship water vapour and sunlight?

I’ve been considering the undetectability of god(s) for a while and after commenting on a couple of blog posts on the subject recently I thought I’d get around to finishing a draft that’s been sitting in the queue for far too long. So I took some time yesterday to have a good, hard look at what Christians and Muslims had to say on why their god in particular couldn’t be detected, didn’t show its self or was otherwise absent from general human interaction.

The god of Abraham, Yahweh, the one that Christians, Muslims and Jews worship is a theistic, personal god that believers claim interact with them and does so frequently. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the phrase ‘personal relationship with Jesus’… I’d probably still be writing this post (but I’d be rich. Wealthy even!). Anyway, from Wikipedia’s God page:

Theism generally holds that God exists realistically, objectively, and independently of human thought; that God created and sustains everything; that God is omnipotent and eternal; personal and interacting with the universe through for example religious experience and the prayers of humans.

So a personal god then, by definition, intervenes in the real world where humans exist and he might do so through miracles, by answering prayers and by communicating with people. I’ve been to Christian ‘revival’ meetings (Rhema specifically) where ‘the holy spirit’ was claimed to have ‘touched’ people, to the point where they fell over and lay on the floor twitching (there is a rather amusing post in that for another time). And there is the plethora of ‘testimonies‘ for various miracles and healing that a god is alleged to have caused.

I think it’s safe to say that intervening in the real world, where humans exist, is a property of the widely accepted Christian, Muslim and Jewish god.

There is, however, no scientific proof that this god, or any other god for that matter, exists which is why I spent the time researching why religious people think that we can’t detect their god and I found some… rather surprising answers from Christians and Muslims in particular. Here’s a list of reasons, provided by the self identified faithful, as to why their god doesn’t show himself to people or can’t be detected:

  1. It’s a test, or, your time on earth is a test or tribulation
  2. He shows himself all the time you just don’t realise you’re seeing him (as in nature, apparent order)
  3. He once did, people didn’t believe, people wouldn’t believe now so he doesn’t bother
  4. Only evil people ask for a sign or proof, so don’t ask, he won’t give it to you anyway
  5. He does manifests himself by answering prayers
  6. He doesn’t show himself because mere mortals couldn’t grasp his greatness
  7. He has no peers and opposites and us mere mortals can only understand things in context of peers and opposites
  8. God is closer than your jugular vein and if you stop refusing to feel god, you can feel god
  9. God isn’t man-like, he’s a force in the universe (this is deism but the answer was by a Christian…)
  10. Faith would be meaningless if he showed himself (a favourite among the faithful it seems)
  11. Free will – he doesn’t care if you believe in him or not
  12. He hides himself to expose people’s hearts (to trick them into showing their true nature…)
  13. If he had to be around he would immediately judge people for their sin, he can’t stand sin, and that would be bad for people.
  14. He lives on a different ‘brane’ to ours (see String Theory)
  15. His ‘matter’ doesn’t interact with photons and since we mostly use electromagnetic waves to detect things, we can’t, detect him

Safe to say that the time spent on the subject provided answers that were clear as mud (I do wonder why Christians can’t agree with each other, they do all read the same manual after all…). For the sake of argument we’ll accept that this personal god might exist and is, for whatever reason, outside our frame of reference and is not detectable by us or any of our scientific instruments.

While a personal god may not be directly detectable by us, by definition the effects that this god has on our world are such that we are able to perceive them. If we were unable to perceive these effects we couldn’t be aware of them. The things that people call miracles happen in the real world (statue’s crying blood for example) and communication that couldn’t be perceived would be pretty pointless and so must occur in the real world where humans exist.

Science can and does measure events in the real world. That is exactly what science is:

 The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Science is capable of addressing, inspecting, evaluating and studying effects in the natural world, which is the same place where miracles and divine or supernatural communication and physical healing occur; anything perceivable by humans is measurable and so subject to scientific study.

This means that science is perfectly equipped and may be the only method equipped to study any of the effects that a personal god has on the world, that humans are able to perceive. If the effect cannot be measured it cannot be perceived by humans, so humans would be unable to know of the effect, or, there was no effect at all.

If a god is undetectable through its effects in the real world, it is indistinguishable from a non-existent god which has the same property of causing no measurable effects in the real world where humans exist.

If a God is undetectable, it is impotent and indistinguishable from a non-existent god. That is why to those who evaluate all religions and gods with the same set of rules without favouritism or preconceptions, Yahweh, Zeus, Apollo, Vishnu and every other god are the same; they don’t exist.

Science has not ever found any effects in the real world where human beings exist that had to be attributed to a supernatural power and religion has failed miserably to provide proof that any deity exists. Most of them make the illogical claim, as can be seen in the list above, that their god doesn’t want us to be able to detect him… but he wants a relationship with us and does things in the real world. That is, after all, why they pray, not so?

Finding god? There is no god to be found.

The only reasonable conclusion.

The only reasonable conclusion.

Ron Williams: Awesome Australian father fighting government sponsored Christian evangelism.

Ron Williams: Awesome Australian father fighting government sponsored Christian evangelism.

It disturbs me immensely to see democratically elected governments play religious favourites like the Australian government is doing with their school chaplains program. Why do they feel they’re allowed to discriminate against some (I’d say all for all the good it actually does) of their citizens by propping up bronze age superstitions? At least some of their citizens are taking this tragic misuse of political power seriously and are putting up a fight.

According to this article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/row-over-creationists-class-lecture/story-fn59niix-1226114839237, Ron Williams is an Australian father from Toowoomba who’s mounted a High Court challenge on the constitutional validity of an Australian school chaplains program. This program has placed about 2500 chaplains in Australian public schools; presumably Christian chaplains.

These chaplains are allegedly not allowed to preach or convert students. Of course, it never works out the way it’s supposed to as liars for Jesus always seem to find a way to get their ‘finger’ into the metaphorical pie: a Queensland chaplain got John Mackay, a delusional creationists, to give a ‘scientific lecture’ to students. Mr. Mackay is so delusional he blames last month’s massacre in Norway on… Darwinism.   Parents are rightly outraged and at least one, Ron Williams, has the balls to try to do something about this travesty in the Australian school system.

It’s appalling that a democratic country like Australia is run by a government who supports indoctrinating children by a religious organisation and it’s even more appalling that it only supports one religion. Why only support Christian chaplains? Why are they not sending in Hindu guru’s, Muslim imams, Jewish rabbi’s, Haitian witch doctors, pagan Druids and Wiccan witches to deal with children? These people of non-Christian religions also have children in public schools, also voted for the present government and pay tax like the entitled Christians. And I say ‘deal’ because I have a sneaking suspicion that few of these 2500 chaplains are qualified therapists and councillors.

Can somebody please point out the passages in the Bible that prepare a person to be a councillor? I can point out the passages that prepare a person to abuse children. I can point to the passages in the Bible that prepares you to ignore reality. And to be perfectly honest, the biggest Christian organisation in the world hardly has a sterling track record when it comes to the care of children. How many of these government sponsored chaplains are Catholic?

This insistence on favouritism, stupidity and entitlement by otherwise seemingly rational people aggravate me to no end and I wish Ron Williams well in his righteous battle for justice and reason. It’s a crying shame that in these modern times it has to happen but somebody has to fight this idiocy and get the Australian government back to doing what it was elected to do: serve ALL the Australian people and support reason over superstition.

PZ Myers just received the International Humanist Award for 2011 at the conference in Oslo. Well done PZ! You not only win teh internets, you also win teh humanists. Or something.

PZ Myers - International Humanist of 2011

PZ Myers - International Humanist of 2011

Check out PZ’s post here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/13/its-sosniny/

Mahatma Gandhi: A great man who spent his life in search of the truth.

Mahatma Gandhi: A great man who spent his life striving for the truth.

I read an article on Stuff.co.nz about the furore over the saying of prayers in Wanganui District Council and it made me furious. It made me furious for a number of reasons, paramount being the ridiculous amount entitlement that a lot of Christians feel and the outright hypocrisy many of them display.

The drama began with a suggestion made by mayor Anette Main which was that the references to god should be removed from the prayer used to open each meeting . Apparently this sparked a furore about whether or not praying was an appropriate item of business for the council. The issue ended up as a complaint at the Human Rights Commission. It turns out that Councillor Clive Solomon laid the complaint with the commission to get a neutral voice to mediate the situation.

Apparently mediation failed  and now the Office of Human Rights Proceedings has been asked to consider taking the issue to a tribunal. Dr Solomon indicated that should the office decline, he would take the case there himself. If the tribunal heard the case and ruled that discrimination took place the judgement would be akin to that of a district court.

You can read the full sorry story here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5438985/Prayer-row-heads-to-tribunal

To illustrate the level of entitlement the rest of us non Christians have to deal with, here is a quote from a Christian on this very blog:

You choose to believe what you want, how can you possibly be afraid that I am “enforcing” my opinion on you?

And one  answer is, obviously, by doing things like trying to force people to pray as part of a governmental agenda. Christians feel so entitled to privilege that it seems they are physically unable to consider religion from another’s perspective. This is, I suppose unsurprising, since if they had to, briefly, consider the viewpoint of others and look at what they believe they probably wouldn’t be Christians for much longer after that. I know this to be true since that’s how most atheists become atheists after all.

The government has no place supporting one religion or indeed any religion over another or over no religion at all. It seems though, that Christians here in New Zealand and many other places feel that they have a right to espouse their ridiculous fairy tales and insist on the public uttering of their magical spells whenever and however they choose, even in the course of working for people who do not hold similar beliefs; those people’s opinion be damned.

I’m pretty sure the pious council members would take massive umbrage if they were instructed to take out their musallah, point it towards Mecca, get down on their hands and knees and open the council meeting by performing a nice decent and appropriately pious Salah. The way I see it is if somebody in a governmental capacity insists on including one religion in governmental business, they should include ALL religions in government business. Perhaps each meeting should be opened by praying to a different deity? Or perhaps we should just leave religion out of governmental business entirely.

Government and governmental bodies have no place in dictating to anybody what they should believe and has even less of a place supporting one belief system over another. Government should work for all people equally all the time.

Religion should be handled like a dirty family secret with the appropriate amount of embarrassment. It should only be talked about in hushed voices behind closed doors and should be kept as far away from the rest of us as possible.

This is the bit in the article that really annoy me:

Dr Solomon said his stance had come at a personal cost, with patients leaving his Whanganui surgery and his children being hassled at school.

I would like to remind these Christians who feel they can no longer support a man who is working for the greater good of everybody and who are hassling his children of what they allege to believe. I would like to quote their God Himself, Jesus Christ, from the New Testament (the bit without the horrors of slavery and genocide and child murder… hah, kidding, there’s still slavery) from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 22:

22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Hassling children? Nice one Christians, nice one. Hypocrisy much? Christian love? More like a petulant tantrum over their magic spells being taken away.

A great man once said these two things which sums everything up nicely:

” Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.”

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

The first one I would like to point out to the Christians who are ‘retaliating’ against Dr. Solomon’s quest, by leaving his medical practise and hassling his children, to rid his council meetings of prayer. Think about that quote for a second.

The second one, I think, sums up the vast majority of Christians. What you say and what you do should match. If you say you follow Jesus, why then do you not do as you believe he did?

Unlike Jesus of course, Mahatma Gandhi actually existed; we have empirical evidence for his existence and we have a pretty clear record of the good he did.

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