Tag Archive: faith


I found a link on Google+ to an article titled:

Chief Rabbi: atheism has failed. Only religion can defeat the new barbarians

I read a comment on the article before reading the article and my opinion is that the comment was perhaps more insightful than the article itself. The Spectator feature was written by Jonathan Sacks who is – I believe - Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Sounds important. And of course it goes without saying that I don’t believe that any kind religion is going to defeat anything, ‘the new barbarians’ especially.

The article itself is, while reasonably well written, definitely heavily coloured by religion tinted glasses. To be fair, some passages are pretty good but on the whole I feel it falls far short from reflecting reality. It did get me thinking though, since a couple of the points the (presumably) good Rabbi makes about atheism and secularism rings true to me. Some of his other points seem to indicate that he’s managed to form an opinion on ‘new atheism’ and ‘new atheists’ without actually having read any Harris or Dennett to name a couple. My intension was to write about atheism but I feel compelled to at least make an attempt to temper the Rabbi’s article with a little reality and reason.

The article can be found at: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8932301/atheism-has-failed-only-religion-can-fight-the-barbarians/

Early in Mr. Sacks’ piece he states, speaking of modern “serious atheists”:

Where is there the remotest sense that they have grappled with the real issues, which have nothing to do with science and the literal meaning of scripture and everything to do with the meaningfulness or otherwise of human life, the existence or non-existence of an objective moral order, the truth or falsity of the idea of human freedom, and the ability or inability of society to survive without the rituals, narratives and shared practices that create and sustain the social bond?

Clearly, that was not one of the better passages. Perhaps the fact that he doesn’t participate in atheist and secular discussion is the reason he’s unaware of the godawful amount of debate between atheists and Christians around objective morality. It might be the same reason he’s unaware about Harris’ writing and debates on free will. Maybe he just doesn’t know about Alain de Botton’s writing and lectures and proposals around secular rituals, narratives and shared practices…

…because religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact. That is what the greatest of all atheists, Nietzsche, understood with terrifying clarity and what his -latter-day successors fail to grasp at all.

Time and again in his later writings he tells us that losing Christian faith will mean abandoning Christian morality. No more ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’; instead the will to power.

I’m guessing I need not point out that it’s again not one of the good passages. Christian morality? I get the feeling the man’s head is located very close or indeed in the immediate vicinity of his rear end, to put it nicely. Christianity – and its cousin Islam – along with its lauded morality is responsible for a tragic amount of death, suffering and horror. I’d like to point out that ‘love your neighbour’ only goes as far as a Christian’s literal neighbour who more than likely is also a Christian. A generalisation perhaps but close enough I think. If Christians were to actually pay attention to the ‘morality’ they are taught and claim to follow – and this is just a guess – the divorce rate would be somewhat lower than it is now among other things. Contrary to the Rabbi’s statements and a majority of American’s opinions, Christian morality is not what holds Western civilisation together, it is secular laws and secular justice, hard-fought and won against non-secular opposition every step of the way.

 Lose the Judeo-Christian sanctity of life and there will be nothing to contain the evil men do when given the chance and the provocation.

Somehow the Jewish Rabbi manages to forget the Catholic church’s lack of opposition if not necessarily outright support of one Mr. Adolf Hitler. He seems to forget the soldiers in the SS, at the time of executing what is possibly the worst thing humanity has ever done, wore belt buckles claiming “Got mit uns”. Good Christians soldiers one might say.

But if asked where we get our morality from, if not from science or religion, the new atheists start to stammer

Unless one could call the following quote from Richard Dawkins stammering, that previous statement is probably also wrong:

I think I want a morality that is thought-out, reasoned, argued, discussed—based upon, almost say—intelligent design. Can we not design our society which has the sort of morality, the sort of society we want to live in?

The article goes on to make a vast number of unsubstantiated claims, factual errors and delivers some pretty biased opinion but I’ve digressed terribly.

The first point he makes that I find interesting is:

In one respect the new atheists are right. The threat to western freedom in the 21st century is not from fascism or communism but from a religious fundamentalism combining hatred of the other, the pursuit of power and contempt for human rights. But the idea that this can be defeated by individualism and relativism is naive almost beyond belief.

Another is:

Humanity has been here before.

These were two great civilisations on the brink of decline. Having lost their faith, they were no match for what Bertrand Russell calls ‘nations less civilised than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion’. The barbarians win. They always do.

A third is:

But Durant’s point is the challenge of our time. I have not yet found a secular ethic capable of sustaining in the long run a society of strong communities and families on the one hand, altruism, virtue, self-restraint, honour, obligation and trust on the other.

Keeping those three points in mind, the comment that I read and liked is:

Bertrand Russell is right, unfortunately.  Religion is tribalism and may the most cohesive tribe win.  Atheism is the way of the individual to escape the mental prison of the tribe.  But even if you live among idiots, you do not have to be one.  John 15:19.

The comment makes a startlingly good point in my opinion. Religion is tribalism. Atheism is… nothing except a lack of belief in a deity no matter how much some people want atheism to be more. I used to subscribe to that way of thinking but I’ve been painfully disabused of that notion by a particular conglomeration of so-called atheists and skeptics. No, atheism is not a uniting anything; it is nothing more than a lack of belief in a deity. Religion is tribalism. And the most cohesive tribe wins. Atheism is – besides for being an acceptance of reality – a way for the individual to escape the mental prison of the tribe. It has most definitely been my experience and that of a great many other atheists that atheists are highly individualistic. It has been said more than once that organising atheists is like herding cats. Atheism+ and the mixing of extreme and delusional feminism with atheism and the schism it has caused in the loose online community of atheists being a prime example of how the ‘atheist movement’ is far from cohesive and exhibits a number of the least productive aspects of a religion.

The biggest threat to Western freedom in the 21st century comes from religious fundamentalism. Not just from Islam but mostly from Islam in my opinion. Not the religion itself but the views it breeds in its adherents, particularly in the fundamentalists: contempt for human rights, contempt for freedom, a warped and barbaric sense of justice and xenophobia.

I don’t necessarily agree that a ‘loss of faith’ is what caused the demise of any nation let alone a great one but I use the word necessarily since I do believe that a loss of social cohesion might be a contributing – or more – factor. If in reality a ‘loss of faith’ translates to a loss of social cohesion – and I can’t say for sure either way – then that comment might not be far off the mark. What I do agree with is that a socially cohesive barbarian horde is more powerful and more likely to succeed than a civilised, highly individualistic society that lacks cohesion.

Atheism alone is not something that is ever going create social cohesion. I was once hopeful for that but reality has dispassionately proved otherwise. The third passage that I highlighted that reads “I have not yet found a secular ethic capable of sustaining in the long run a society of strong communities and families on the one hand, altruism, virtue, self-restraint, honour, obligation and trust on the other” is not entirely wrong either in my opinion. Make no mistake, I would love to be proved wrong. Nothing would make me happier but so far I haven’t seen any secular ethic that comes even close to inspiring and maintaining the kind of tribalistic social cohesion found in every religion. I find that both disturbing and disheartening.

Western culture will inevitably become more secular. The prevalence of science, our reliance on technology and the free access to knowledge that technology gives us ensures a path towards a secular society. The inherent qualities of fundamentalist Islam and Christianity that precludes integration, that in most cases actively fights against integration, modern scientific knowledge and modern morals and justice is secular society’s biggest threat.

We must find secular social cohesion or run the risk of being overrun by the barbarians.


Before anybody even tries to make the absolute horse shit claim of ‘Islamophobia’ let me be candid. I do not fear all Muslims most especially not irrationally. Let me help you out:

pho·bi·a: Noun: An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something

You do not get to claim my opinion of Islam is a ‘phobia’ while we know and have seen the actions and results of people who actually believe what they say they believe and those beliefs include lovely and peaceful things like: God promises to “cast terror into the hearts of those who are bent on denying the truth; strike, then, their necks!” (Koran 8.12). God instructs his Muslim followers to kill unbelievers, to capture them, to ambush them (Koran 9.5). Everything contributes to advancing the holy goal: “Strike terror into God’s enemies, and your enemies”

Who are you to say that fundamentalist Muslims do not actually believe these things? Their actions cannot be denied.

Sharia law is disturbing take on barbaric justice, the treatment of women in Islamic countries is detestable and Islamic abuse of basic human rights is unconscionable and unacceptable.

Any fear inspired by Islam is well founded. Something else I’d love to be proven wrong on but I’m not holding my breath.

I know a Christian. It’s weird. A while back he posted – outraged – about a Chinese woman who gave birth to a live baby at full term and somehow managed to flush – accidentally by her account – the full term baby which she gave natural birth to down the toilet thus getting it stuck in the sewer pipe and almost killing it. Captain Christian – I’ll just call him that – somehow, in his religion befuddled mind, managed to equate giving natural - albeit alone – birth to a full term baby with abortion. Because, like, flushing a full term and alive baby down the toilet is precisely the same thing as the abortion of a nervous-systemless  conglomeration of cells which couldn’t survive outside the womb. Totally.

A disturbing – yet altogether unsurprising – case of strawmannery. I’d call it dumbfuckery but I’ve decided to be nice. Ish.

So this evening, Captain Christian surfaced another spectacular post of doublethink and asshattery. You see, Captain Christian is… very Christian. Totally into the whole Christian scene and a strong believer. Completely and utterly immune to logic and reason when it comes to his dearly held beliefs. Especially immune to the irony of every damn Christian – all of whom have personal relationships with the good Lord – having a different opinion on how the Bible works, what God wants, what Jesus actually meant in… you get the picture.

The recent post of awesome was about how a faith healing churches are linked to a bunch of child deaths. Specifically, a couple lost their second child after failing to seek medical attention after their 2 year old child contracted exceedingly treatable pneumonia.

The outrage – it seems – is centered around how – from his perspective – some other Christians ‘twist the Bible’. That presumably means he doesn’t agree with those Christians’ interpretation of the Bible and that perhaps he takes a dim view on ‘faith healing’ for that reason.

The irony is thick.

Behold... Facebook Christianing and outrage at it's finest.

Behold… Facebook Christianing and outrage at it’s finest.

Alrighty. The fact that all the Christians get their instructions from the same book aside.  Also, the fact that they all interpret the instruction manual provided by the almighty creator of the universe differently, aside. Also, the fact that they all speak to this almighty creator of the universe all the time and he – for reasons that elude pretty much everybody – fails to clear up the misunderstanding aside… Jesus, so many asides…

“Twisting the Bible” – not sure how it’s twisting the Bible to believe:

Matthew 21

21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

or

Mark 11

11:22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
11:23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

or

Luke 11

11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Let me guess… wrong context? The faith healing people didn’t have enough faith maybe? Letting your kid die – horribly, twice – sort of shows you really believe the magic you were doing was going to work – that’s what it looks like to me anyway. So what is it then?

…the Bible does not condemn, forbid, or even discourage the use of medicines or other medical care.

Well, no, perhaps it doesn’t. But it does say ask – pray – and you’ll have it, whatever the fuck ‘it’ may be. Does it not? Right there in Matthew, Mark and Luke which happen to be in the New Testament which Christians sort of can’t ignore? I must be reading it wrong or maybe it’s that I’m not wearing my special Mind-fogging Christian Goggles…

James 5

5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

I could swear that says… How about:

Matthew 18

18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Sounds to me like praying for a sick person… anyway, moving along, let’s have a look at the long comment down.

If you don’t know how that’s “twisting the bible” then you have not read the bible.

Well, no, I’ve read it. Faith healing Christians have read it. A billion Christians have read it but somehow this person is the fucker who got it right. Who’d have thought.

There are no promises to Christians that if you obey the law you will have blessings and conversely if you disobey the law and have sin you will get sick and die.

Oh, nice sophistry Captain Christian’s sidekick.

In fact, if you have read the bible, and the rule exists that if you have sin you will get sick then we would all be sick all the time. Since the bible says that everyone sins, even christians. The bible says that anyone who says they have no sin is a liar.

And that has what to do with…

There is the promise that Jesus died and defeated sickness and death, but Christians who believe that is for right now, that all sickness is gone have what we call an over realised eschatology.

Well, no. What they have is “Ive read the words in the fucking Bible”itis. What you have is “oh my god the bible says prayer should heal but it doesn’t so now I have to make shit up to explain that”itis. Nice try though, your preachy tone totally had me con… no, its gone.

It’s placing too much emphasis on what we are promised will come on the other side of eternity as if it should be taking place right now. The kingdom of God is here, but not yet fully here.

Sophistry and preaching with self bestowed authority. Oh, and a bunch of made-up bullshit and making the assumption that basically nobody reads the Bible. Many Christians assume this – to their detriment. Just because most Christians couldn’t be bothered to read the Bible doesn’t mean most atheists haven’t read it. Cover to cover. More than once.

Doublethink. Sophistry. Believing your own sophistry. Christians. If stupidity didn’t irritate me so much it would be terribly amusing.

I’ve got a bit of a conundrum. Well, OK, maybe it isn’t. Whatever.

The issue is this: some time ago I linked to a Christian site (http://www.christian-faith.com) in one of my posts and specifically to a page on the site about Christian ‘testimonies’. The post is titled ‘Finding God‘ and the context for the linking is this paragraph:

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.

Now, the issue is that one Mr. Michael Fackerell – apparently the owner of http://www.christian-faith.com – has emailed me twice asking me to remove the links to his site (I’ve only linked to the testimonies part). I find this somewhat confusing for a number of reasons…

Christian ‘testimonies’ are, after all, for the purpose of showing that the Christian deity exists and ‘does things’. They are purportedly eye-witness account by Christians about how the creator of the universe personally intervened in their lives to make stuff happen. As far as I understand, eye-witness accounts of things are used to convince people of the truth of something… and for little else. In this context these ‘testimonies’ provide a feedback loop to Christians to reinforce their delusion and presumably to convince those people who doubt the existence or efficacy of the Christian deity… of the existence and efficacy of the aforementioned deity. I think it will be pretty difficult to make a case for Christian ‘testimonies’ existing for any other purpose than: to be used to convince people – Christian on not – that this deity exists and does stuff.

Why then, would one want to remove a potential audience from these accounts? I would think that – considering this command directly from the lips of the god-man Jesus himself:

28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

… that you’d want as many links as possible to the page with ‘testimonies’ about the greatness of the creator of the universe so that you can get as many people from as many places converted as possible. No? Strange.

I mean, I’d be the first to admit that this site and these posts are pretty unkind to Christians and their ridiculous delusions but still, why attempt to remove any opportunity to gather more sheeple? You’d think that gathering more sheeple would sort of be a priority… but then again the world is littered with examples of the specific disobedience of the explicit wishes and commandments of that particular almighty creator of the universe by its alleged believers.

Perhaps it’s my complete lack of religiosity that makes it so hard for me to understand. Perhaps it is my bullshit filter. Who can say.

The second reason of course is that I’m doing the site a page rank favour by linking to it. Contextually. Perhaps Mr. Fackerell just doesn’t understand how the internet works?

Which brings me to the conundrum. Should I acquiesce (to late for that perhaps?) to his request – I will be the first to admit that it’s a very polite request – and take the time to go edit an old post (and now this one) to remove links to the man’s site for reasons I fail to comprehend or do I just ignore the requests and hope he goes away and continue to provide him the fantastic benefit of page rank and free traffic?

It’s for his own good, really.

Faith: Just another word for “brand loyalty” to one of the oldest and most corrupt corporations on the planet.

Disagree?

Matthew 19:21
19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

So… what IS the net worth of the Catholic church? Could poverty be eliminated if every Christian church and all Christian property including the Vatican was sold and the money used to… well, eliminate poverty?

And they’re not doing it because…

Faith!

Faith! Just another word for “brand loyalty” to one of the oldest and most corrupt corporations on the planet.

It’s funny really – “brand loyal” and “Christian” – the things that come to mind.

Dear theists…

I plundered this picture from The Thinking Atheist and I have to admit I feel very little remorse. I find the picture both terribly amusing and pretty… unambiguous.

Dear theist...

Dear theist… let me unambiguously explain my position.

Another way to put it is: I find your willful ignorance is disgusting and offensive and considering the bullshit and horror that you claim to believe, you are not qualified to have an opinion on my life.

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.

Rainbows: they're caused by refraction in water droplets, not by the promises of sky fairies

Rainbows: they're caused by the refraction of light in water droplets, not by the promises of sky fairies.

A fundamental tenet of religion is faith. Faith is belief in something without evidence. In the Christian sense that would be a belief in Jesus Christ (among many other things). Christians in particular celebrate ‘faith’ since it’s the core of their religion: believe (without evidence) in Jesus Christ, accept him as your ‘Lord and Saviour’ and you’ll be ‘saved’ (go to heaven to live in paradise forever). Christians accept the ‘truth’ of the Bible, that their God exists and that He had a ‘son’ Jesus Christ on faith, without any empirical evidence.

Of course, every religion man has ever invented functions on exactly the same principle, including some ‘belief’ systems more appropriately called superstitions that sometimes pre-date Christianity by a fair amount. Some Christians believe the world is only 6,000 years old but we know, based on empirical evidence, that people have been around in Africa for significantly longer than that. Many African superstitions involve  worshipping ‘ancestors’ and a form of witchcraft that involves witch doctors and magic potions.

The following is an extract of an article posted on July 21 2011 at 09:26pm on the South African IOL website:

A witness watched as schoolgirl Masego Kgomo was mutilated, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Thursday.

Albert “Nono” Mathebula was testifying in the trial of Brian Mangwale, who has pleaded not guilty to of murdering and raping the 10-year-old Masego and selling her body parts for muti.

Mathebula was initially also arrested in connection with Kgomo’s murder.

He testified on Wednesday that he was smoking dagga with friends on the night of December 31 2009 when Mangwale arrived in a car with a man named Jan, a woman in sangoma’s clothing and a young child.

He and two of his friends accompanied them to a sangoma’s house in Soshanguve.

Mathebula went inside with the woman, who carried the child. His friends stayed in the car.

He told the court that he and Mangwale were given cooldrink which contained something that made him feel dizzy, out of control and hear voices in his head.

“On entering, we found initiates. They were dressed in sangoma clothing,” Mathebula testified.

“… The lady came in with a cloth. The child was not crying. It appeared she was also made to eat or drink something. When Jan cut her open, she did not scream.

“… I did not see the other parts. I only saw the internal organs. When she was cut open I looked so I could see what it is inside a woman’s body.

“Jan continued to cut open the child. When they were removing the organs I vomited,” he said.

Mathebula said the child’s body was later put into the car boot and he and his friends were dropped off at a party.

“My friends asked me what happened with the child. I did not tell them. I was afraid,” he said.

Mangwale’s trial was previously postponed for judgment, but Judge Billy Mothle called Mathebula and two other witnesses to shed more light on the killing.

The other witnesses, a magistrate and a senior policeman, testified that Mangwale made confessions and a pointing-out to them in March last year about the alleged murder and mutilation of another young girl.

They said Mangwale told them how the girl was lured into their car and taken to bushes near a river, where a sangoma called Jan Maleka cut out her tongue and cut off both her breasts before removing her womb.

The sangoma took the body parts with him when they left the child’s body behind in the bushes.

The full article can be found here: http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/when-he-cut-her-open-she-did-not-scream-1.1103672

Any sane person who reads that horrifying story should find it hard to believe that things like that happen; believe it, they happen, often. For clarification: a ‘sangoma’ is a witch doctor and ‘muti’ is what ingredients used in magic potions are called.

Now, it doesn’t take much for a civilised, educated westerner (and I am including all westerners, especially Christians – Catholics and Jehovah’s Witnesses in particular) to look at that article and write all of it off as the barbaric actions of primitive uneducated people driven by ludicrous superstitions. And they are terrible,  ludicrous superstitions.

Being religious (Christian, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness) and writing those superstitions off as ridiculous though is disingenuous at best but completely unsurprising. Several million Christians in South Africa will do exactly that today: read the article and write it off to stupid superstition while happily continuing to believe what they believe.

No doubt Christians would object to and be outraged at me comparing their ‘faith’ based beliefs to… the ‘faith’ based beliefs of African witch doctors. After all, nobody wants their cherished beliefs to be compared to something that sickening and horrifying.

There are several issues with that misplaced outrage.

First and foremost, there is ‘Holy Communion‘. As with everything else Christian, what is actually believed depends on how fervently one believes it. You see, Catholics at the very least, believe that during Communion the little cracker (or bread, Eucharist) they receive physically changes into the body of Jesus Christ and the wine they receive physically turns into the blood of Jesus Christ. Catholics genuinely believe they are eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a god-man. Normal people refer to this practice as cannibalism.

Of course, they believe this without evidence (actually, they believe this in spite of evidence to the contrary).

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that one shouldn’t accept blood transfusions because ‘blood represents life and it sacred to God’ as described in the Bible in Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:10, and Acts 15:29. Since the Bible is not proof of anything other than the existence of bronze age creation myths, this no-transfusion belief is accepted without evidence.

Clearly there are situations where refusing a blood transfusion is going to kill the person refusing the transfusion but some might argue that it’s their own choice and they should be allowed to choose that option. I tend to agree: if a cognisant  adult chooses to die, then who are we to say otherwise?

My problem lies with this ‘choice’ for suicide being forced on children. People are rightly outraged at the news story I posted earlier where adults butchered a child but in my opinion forcing a child to choose to die instead of live because of a ridiculous belief based on some obscure passages in an arbitrarily put together book chock full of contradictions, impossibilities, flat-out lies and horror is an order of magnitude worse.

Killing a child is one thing, forcing a child to choose to die is… possibly the worst thing I can imagine.

Christians outraged by that story may want to consider again how their Bible commands genocide, provides guidelines for slavery, commands the murder of children, commands the enslavement of virgin girls. They might want to consider how their entire religion is based on the torture and execution of an innocent to pay for the alleged crimes of the guilty.

Christians might also want to consider how for several thousand years they have been mutilating little babies by chopping off pieces of their penises.

Isn’t it interesting how people can be outraged at the superstition motivated actions of a foreign group of people while they are completely happy to carry on with their own, similar, superstition motivated actions?

So what is the argument for skepticism and empirical evidence?

People demand evidence for just about every other claim outside their religion. Religious people demand proof for the religious beliefs of other religions and refuse to accept the ‘truth’ of religions other than their own based on their lack of proof and evidence. This is the central point of John Loftus’ Outside Test For Faith: if a person had to examine their own faith with the same skepticism they reserve for other religions it will quickly become apparent that their own faith is exactly as unfounded as they perceive the faith of others to be.

When claims are made, evidence must be required and provided.

If evidence for efficacy were required before butchering a child for magic potion ingredients, the butchering wouldn’t happen since there isn’t any empirical evidence for magic potions working. If empirical evidence were required for refusing blood transfusions outright, no children would be forced to choose to die. If empirical evidence was required before slicing pieces off of a child’s penis, children wouldn’t have their penises mutilated. If empirical evidence was demanded to show that vaccinations caused autism, children wouldn’t be left unvaccinated, endangering the entire population and dying unnecessarily.

Faith without evidence makes parents choose to not get their children medical treatment but pray instead. Faith without evidence makes parents choose homoeopathy for treating serious diseases instead of actual medicine. Faith without evidence cause parents to not vaccinate their children.

Demanding evidence kills faith and saves people.

It’s long but totally worth it. It doesn’t even comment on the inherent stupidity of religious beliefs so it won’t offend the delicate sensibilities of the faithful (man I hate that word). It does pretty much call my favourite scam artists, Benny Hinn in particular, what they are. Filthy, lying, despicable scam artists.

Derren Brown is the most awesome. Scuba instructors are also pretty awesome.

Oh, and better watch quickly, I doubt the BBC is going to leave it up for long.

The long and the short is this: Derren Brown selects an average guy, a scuba diving instructor and trains him to be a faith healer, takes him to America and gets him to put on a faith healing show. Which he does and people believe him.

The point? Faith healing is an obvious scam and millions (Americans and Africans mostly, go figure) fall for it all the time. It’s evil.

That is all.

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