Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
...in an excellent (and fairly tame, by his standards) piece today:
In other words, the Obama administration, in both of these decisions, is saying that it's time to stop fucking with the Constitution. Whether it's the individual rights of women or the habeas corpus rights of prisoners, the law professor in the President knows that "liberty and justice for all" is an actual pledge.
Check it out.
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What is it with the religious fixation on sex, anyway? Sheesh. And you gotta see some of the comments - here's a good one:
A little gem from the Russian news service Interfax:
Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Sourozh Diocese (Great Britain) Bishop Yelisey expressed his concerns with the London “No God” bus campaign.
“Atheistic propaganda in London is especially painful for us, members of the Russian Orthodox Church. We have a unique experience of life in atheistic state and we can prove that true atheism is not as joyful as they try to present it,” the Bishop told Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.
I love that he thinks he can "prove" how miserable atheism inherently is. I await the data on his report.
More to the point, this is a real overblowing of the atheism=Stalinism canard. He might begin to have a modicum of a case if the bus ads read something like:
"There's probably no God, so stop worrying and submit yourself and your labor to the State and our brave Party chairman."
But they don't.
[Cross-post at Bloc Raisonneur]
Our good friend Jake Jones the Evangelical Examiner, in a piece explaining what he calls the "Angry Atheist Syndrome" with his usual wit and depth of understanding, actually gives us a valuable insight into the bureaucratic workings of the next world:
Greedy prayers always go unanswered. If a greedy prayer is answered, then we must ask the tough question; "did the answered prayer come from God or Satan"? More than likely, Satan had something to do with it.
Holy crap! If Satan is answering a lot of prayers intended for God Himself, you know what that means, don't you?
Satan has wiretapping clearance.
So learn from Avon Barksdale's crew, folks, and use code next time you chat with the Almighty.
If I were feeling more creative, I'd whip up a filk of the traditional spiritual, but not today. Someone else feel free.
Anyway, I think this is progress:
ATLANTA - After a lifetime in the church, the Rev. William L. Rhines Jr. lately has started to question one of the Bible's fundamental teachings, that God created man.
It's an especially touchy topic in his Wilmington, Del., congregation, where generations of black worshippers have leaned on faith to endure the indignities of racism.
But as the world marked the 200th birthday of evolution theorist Charles Darwin on Thursday, Rhines figures its time for even the most conservative congregations to come to terms with science.
"We're becoming more middle class, upper middle class, so we have more free time ... to ponder these eternal issues," said Rhines, who will encourage a discussion at Ezion-Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church.
* * *
I'm not going to reference an article today. Today I'm going to give an example of where theists go wrong. We have a small discussion group at work. One of the topics given today was something in the news that I hadn't read and still haven't read. The topic discussed memories from being reincarnated. One of my coworkers brought up the topic after having read something online. The coworker gave the headline which was something along the lines of, "Study shows evidence of former life memories gives credence to past life experiences!" (w/ a reference to reincarnation which I can't recall at this point, sorry)
Keep in mind, I haven't read either the article or the study. My coworker brings up this article and immediately afterward another coworker exclaims, "And you say you don't believe in God."
My immediate reply afterward was, "What? Why would you bring God into this?"
The coworker was incredulous. He wondered why an atheist would reference an article which gave the idea that reincarnation was possible.
There has been a lot of interesting commentary on atheist activism from very disparate sources over the past couple days, and a theme is emerging: How atheists hurt the feelings of the religious.
First there has been a long series of entries on Andrew Sullivan's blog concerning the merits of faith mockery, mostly in the form of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This has directly seeded other discussions on the same topic at places like the League of Ordinary Gentlemen, where there are posts by various authors, and I have commented on a couple of them. Meanwhile, a book review by Jerry Coyne in the New Republic, which I can't recommend highly enough, has also spurred many a blog conversation at such places as the American Scene (home of Alan Jacobs, writer of one of my favorite--and now defunct--blogs, TextPatterns).
One of the more interesting pieces I've come across comes from the United Church Observer, a small church publication from Canada, which places one of its journalists reluctantly aboard a cruise for the Atheist Alliance International convention. There, Jocelyn Bell comes to some important realizations about hernonbelieving neighbors (sorry, it's Canada: neighbours).
I was reading about college football star Tim Tebow and the John 3:16 reference painted beneath his eyes.
[William Lobdell] But I have to wonder if his coaches or NCAA officials would allow him to have “There Is” “No God” written on his eye black below his right and left eyes. I imagine that these personal slogans will soon be banned. The Powers That Be in football were never much for personal expression.
I wondered the same thing, so let's give it a shot:
What do you think, Christians? Make your head want to explode? Do you think that the college football uniform rules would be changed? When? The same day? Two days?
And here's the bigge - why is it OK in your opinion for Tebow to write John 3:16 under his eyes (and usually back it up with "personal opinion" and "freedom of speech and religion"), but NOT OK for him to write "There is no God"?
What's good for the Christian goose, is certainly also good for the atheist gander, yes?
If not, why not?
If you had any doubt about Kathryn Jean Lopez, the editor of the National Review Online, then read her current column at the National Catholic Register. It's pure, unadulterated revisionism with a side order of theocracy thrown in for good measure:
We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will. Warren began his prayer as a gentle reminder to those privileged with seats and every Joe sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:
“Almighty God — our Father. Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.”
After a morning of “Obama!” chants, I would have loved to hear some of the crowd — or the president-to-be — join Warren in praying the Lord’s Prayer.
. . . I'd opt for the naked women, as well:
ROME (Reuters) – Italian atheists have lost a bid to run "no God" advertisements on city buses after strong opposition from conservative political parties, a member of the group said on Saturday.
The ads reading "The bad news is that God doesn't exist. The good news is that you don't need him" were to have been put on buses in the northern city of Genoa, home to the Catholic cardinal who is head of the Italian Bishops Conference.
* * *
"Right-wing politicians criticized us ferociously," Villella said by telephone from the group's base, adding that at least one bus driver in Genoa said he would refuse to drive a "no God" bus.
"It's strange that in a country where ads depicting near-naked women wearing skimpy lingerie is permitted on buses that we can't run ads about atheism," Villella said.
HT to ML - thanks!
Oh, this is good:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Zoo has received a complaint about Buddha statues in an Asian-themed area.
David Engle, of Overland Park, Kan., complained after visiting the zoo on Sunday. He said it's "phenomenal to me" that the zoo would put up two smiling statues of Buddha when "we can't have a cross or a nativity scene on public property."
Engle, who said he is Christian, called the statues idolatry and "infuriating to God."
Gradually, scepticism of the claims made by one religion was joined by scepticism of all such claims. Incredulity that anybody thought an archangel dictated a book to Mohammed produced a strange contradiction. I found myself still clinging to belief in Christianity. I was trying to believe — though rarely arguing — ‘Well, your guy didn’t hear voices: but I know a man who did.’ This last, shortest and sharpest, phase pulled down the whole thing. In the end Mohammed made me an atheist.
I just cannot believe that such a good and holy man, a spiritual leader for our times, who has . . .
*ugh* Sorry, even I can't keep up that level of snark.
Here's the story, in all of its Schadenfreude glory:
Neale Donald Walsch, author of the best-selling series “Conversations With God,” recently posted a personal Christmas essay on the spiritual Web site Beliefnet.com about his son’s kindergarten winter pageant.
During a dress rehearsal, he wrote, a group of children spelled out the title of a song, “Christmas Love,” with each child holding up a letter. One girl held the “m” upside down, so that it appeared as a “w,” and it looked as if the group was spelling “Christ Was Love.” It was a heartwarming Christmas story from a writer known for his spiritual teachings.
Except it never happened — to him.
The Concord Monitor comes out against Rick Warren at Barack Obama's inauguration. . .but not only does the Monitor oppose Warren because of his anti-gay views, the paper (once named by Time Magazine as one of America's best newspapers) comes to the conclusion that inaugural prayers ought to be done away with entirely:
Do we need an inaugural prayer? Somehow, in a country that has become more and more diverse, a country that includes not only Protestants, but also Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and nonbelievers, the tradition seems an anachronism that future presidents would do well to scrap.
Formal prayers by Christian ministers have been associated with presidential inaugurations from the get-go, but they're surely no requirement. And while you might assume such prayers would be of the tepid, generic, non-denominational variety, a quick look back at recent overtly religious invocations will surely give many Americans, regardless of their personal religious affiliations, pause.
So, I went to a funeral the other day.
It was a nice funeral, as funerals go, but it was a decidedly Catholic funeral. You see, Mrs. Inscrutable and I did the flowers for the funeral. My brother's wife's mother died way too young, and we were only happy to put together a wonderful flower arrangement for the family. We asked if they wanted us to stay for the service, and they said it was okay to leave after dropping off the flowers, but we thought that it would be nice if we stuck around and offered some moral support for my brother, his wife, and her family.
Can you say "uncomfortable"?
The priest - "Father Joe", had a high-pitched, whiny voice, which he acknowledged right up front, and had a tendency to repeat himself, to make his points. He insisted on calling the deceased "mom" and "grandma". Over and over. "Mom, and grandma, would have said...", would have wanted, would have been, etc. All I could think was, "didn't this guy have the decency to actually get to know the deceased and her family a bit before spouting off about her "wants" and "needs"? He also sang. In latin. Acapella.
A couple of weeks ago, the Pew Forum showed off its latest numbers concerning what Christians are saying about what it takes to get into heaven. I was surprised by one of the statistics: 42 percent of Christians said that atheists could find their way past the pearly gates if they lead a good life.
Now, I know a lot of open-minded Christians who really do believe that Heaven or the afterlife takes all kinds--the old "there are many paths to God" idea. But I have also known some, even very good friends, who despite their affection for me, have told me that my soul is as good as barbecued lest I straighten up and hang with the J.C. Being that the "many paths" philosophy is quite a progressive one, I assumed that a vast majority of Christian Americans fell in the "barbecue" category. Not so, apparently! 42 percent is not a majority, of course, but it's damned closer than I thought atheists could get in the minds of our Christian neighbors.
So what's going on here?
Law professor Paul Campos op-eds in the Rocky Mountain News on the subject of the very real dilemma for progressive atheists: reconciling support for Barack Obama's politics with his overt religiousness.
Campos has apparently come across some folks bandying about the possible insincerity of Obama's religious professions, and it seems to be bothering Campos:
Since it's obviously absurd to claim that people like Obama lack the necessary intelligence to grasp these truths that are so self-evident to the fundamentalist atheist, our fundamentalist friend is left with a couple of options.
First, he can claim that the otherwise intelligent person has been, as it were, brainwashed by his upbringing, his education, his psychological quirks (this latter explanation is especially popular among those who see religious belief as a form of unconscious wish-fulfillment) or some other ideological factor that remains impervious to what fundamentalist atheists likes to call "reason."
[. . .]
The alternative is to assume that obviously intelligent people who profess religious belief are lying. This belief is reflected in the assertion, repeated several times in the responses to my blog post, that surveys showing atheists to be a small minority of the population are inaccurate, because lots of people who are "really" atheists - like, apparently, Barack Obama - lie about it.
From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process.
Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States – and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.
Compare that to the mindset we've put up with from the Bush administration, the latest round of which was announced yesterday:
I will be really glad when the hubbub over the atheist placard in Washington State is over with, but it does keep generating insight on the state of atheists in the culture--but not just in terms of how they are perceived, but in how they are portraying themselves.
Take, for example, Dan Barker, head honcho at the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an important group that is responsible for the placard which states, in part, "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." (Emphasis mine.)
[Barker] said if anything, it's the Nativity scene that is the intrusion.
"Most people think December is for Christians and view our signs as an intrusion, when actually it's the other way around," he said. "People have been celebrating the winter solstice long before Christmas. We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the holiday from all of us humans."
In case you hadn’t heard, thanks to protesting e-mails and phone calls from the sane, the Cincinnati Zoo ended a cross-promotional deal with the Creation Museum of Petersburg, Ky. P.Z. Myers is getting a great deal of the credit/blame for encouraging his readers to make a stink. Well done, say I.
But I must also say, as happy as I am that this nonsense was dispensed with, I remain flabbergasted that the Cincinnati Zoo would enter into a deal like this in the first place.