Private Sector Says ‘No’ To Indiana Bigotry

Joe Skipper / AP )

Gov. Mike Pence (R) of Indiana has risked sending his state into a fiscal downfall with a recent decision to sign into law a pro-discrimination bill dressed up as Christianity. This bill was put forward by the corrupt, immoral people of Advance America who want to protect hatred for others over the protection of ideals like freedom and liberty.

In response to this extremely stupid and anti-gay bill the State of Indiana has already begun to suffer. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, canceled all programs that required travel to the state. The Gen Con gaming conference and the NCAA also both expressed publicly that this may cause a change in future venues within the state.

If these radical bigots don’t start accepting that their religious beliefs do not amount to an excuse to commit acts of discrimination against others they are welcome to be free of the boycott.

Otherwise … #BoycottIndiana!

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Chapel Hill Shooting: Atheists / Anti-theists Are Responsible?

Craig Hicks, charged with shooting death of 3 Muslims in N.C.

Some less than spectacular people out there on the Inter-webs are calling for vocal atheists and anti-theists to own up to the Chapel Hill Shooting being our version of the Charlie Hebdo Massacre. No, we won’t be doing that. At least not at this time. Should the available facts on record change, such as a confirmed manifesto being released, any reasonable person would adjust their views to include this. But what we have here is a horrible tragedy with no clear motives, nothing more. Charlie Hebdo was killing in the name of religion being held higher in importance than freedom of speech and human life; no comparison.

Standards of acceptance of evidence is probably the core difference between atheists and theists. For instance: I don’t see any evidence that is at all compelling for a historical Jesus of Nazareth nor for a God of Abraham. The commonly used “personal experience” routine is crap on multiple levels but mainly because people lie to further their own goals all the time and religious labels don’t instantly cure a person of unethical behaviors.

I’ve studied the Bible at length, researched non-canonical texts, applied the standards of historical veracity to both the Old and New Testaments and none of it amounts to the claims of “divinity” and “divine truth” made by Bible-believers. At the most, and this is being very generous, there was a Jewish rebel priest put to death by the Romans that had a chain of hearsay turn him into a demigod in the eyes of certain men who were all born around a hundred years after his execution.

Islam and the Quran are different in the sense that the central figure is much, much more so a verified historical figure but shares in the same issues of the Torah and the Bible where none of the claims to divinity and ultimate truth are any more compelling than when the Greeks, Egyptians or the Pagans wrote of their mastery of the ethos of life and contemplation. The endless contradictions anyone can find with enough time spent with almost any “holy book” placed to the side, the issue with any form of religious extremism boils down to dehumanizing those who will not conform to the point where an act of torture or murder upon them is not only acceptable but mandated from on high.

Thing to remember here is some people believe in UFOs and anal probes but it’s rare to the point of being unheard of that one of them would go shoot up a skeptic conference in the name of being unhindered to spread the message of the coming alien overlords to the masses. But both radicalized Christians as well as Muslims, and even the heavily pacifist Buddhists, have done exactly these kinds of actions in both isolated and organized acts of violence. All this in recent decades and not even bothering to dredge out old history books citing violence over the centuries committed in the name of religious “purity.”

No respected atheist anywhere is advocating you solve your disputes with acts of murder or that the best way to silence an ideological opponent is to kill them in their home or place of business. But I could troll the right-wing radio Christian waves for awhile and bring back some moron who is doing exactly that and same with the nationalistic Islamic newsgroups and forums. This would not in turn implicate all Christians and all Muslims in those statements but only those who identify with the speaker’s views which is not an easy thing to assess unless someone declares it to be so.

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

 

As always when I cover tragic stories my deepest condolences go out to the family members and friends of the victims of this horrible event.  I do not speak merely for myself when I say that this man should face the full force of the legal justice system and hopefully this will bring you some measure of peace.

Richard Dawkins – The Virus of Faith

Some say that while religious fundamentalists betray reason, moderate believers betray faith and reason equally. The moderates position seems to me to be fence-sitting, they half-believe in the Bible. But how do they decide which parts to believe literally, and which parts are just allegorical?”

As a member of the religious moderate camp, I take issue with these statements. There is no question that fundamentalists betray reason, but a moderate does not betray faith nor reason and here is why: scientific facts are not rejected by a moderate as they are by a fundamentalist therefore that which accounts to the betrayal of reason for the fundamentalist is not true of the moderate; by drawing upon a more personal and perhaps more primal sense of faith and understanding the moderate is only leaving the confines of faith that are formed as preconceived misconceptions in the minds of others while never betraying the true nature of their own faith. By my logic, moderates are neither betraying faith nor reason. While there is nothing less than truth in the statement, “they half-believe the Bible” I believe the position is not “fence-sitting” in the least and here is why: The Bible is a flawed book, like trying to look at the truth through broken glass; if we draw a distinction between a precept or a series of moral teachings against certain stories that the vast majority of our number believe are purely allegorical in nature that is not failing to take a position but rather the act of taking the position that these pieces should be venerated while others diminished. The question posed by Dawkins is profound and requires a more lengthy response than I am willing to formulate at this moment. The short and witty answer is: arbitrarily. But that is mostly in jest and mainly meant to point out that there is no one definition of moderate religious belief so much as there is a loose grouping among many faiths and churches. It cannot to be answered to the satisfaction of Dawkins and others that would apply strict logical reasoning to the equation but the difference between allegory and literalist in the Bible comes from divine interpretation or, to use a less provocative term, personal spiritual guidance.

We are privileged to be alive, and we should make the most of our time in this world.”

I could not agree more with Dawkins on this point.

Life is precious and should not be given any less value to every waking moment of it.

Where I divide greatly from Dawkins is centered around this conflict between God and science.

Religion, expressly organized and established religion, are in direct conflict with science. There is no doubt of this whatsoever.

But I and many others do not see God and religion as one in the same.

God exists as a metaphor for the unknown, in one mode of thought, and the very practice and essence of science relies entirely upon an unknown in order to exist.

The day we know everything, we will have little more use for science.

This is much the same I feel about God or more loosely the concept of a “higher power”: the day we control life and death, the flow of time, and have attained all power the universe has to bestow is the day none alive would see a use for a “God”.

The unknown itself, defines both science and faith.

Faith is irrational, and taken to extremes it is always dangerous. While science has no such pitfalls.

But I still do not advocate the eradication of faith, though I do agree with Dawkins in regards to religious upbringing not being a healthy psychological practice to put a child through.

I believe, and I shall surely write more of this in days and months to come, that faith combined with reason is not a flawed stance or lacking any amount of logical context.

I would also argue from a more emotional standpoint that a purely scientific view of the world, as I once held myself, is “sterile” and “overtly plain”.

Former-Evangelical Frank Schaeffer Speaks Out

frank_schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer

“In my evangelical days I would have said: ‘Well if you are not in the church I belong to you’ll be lost, maybe burn in hell forever.’ I don’t think that way anymore.”

“A certain type of certainty that writes off other people based on the fact you may disagree with their interpretation of some theological or philosophical idea is just crazy. And it‘s crazy for this reason: It’s got nothing to do with peace and love. It‘s crazy practically. Look, we are like ants–our view of the universe is like ants on a roadside watching passing traffic. We live a few years, we read a few books, we draw a few conclusions, we try to love the people around us and we are gone. Anybody who can stand up in the middle of this process and say ‘I am absolutely know I’m right about something’ I think is hooked into a kind of deadly uncertainty that simply can‘t exist.”


I could not agree with Schaeffer more in regards to the true harm in fundamentalist belief structures.

This “deadly uncertainty” is my only issue with the religious right.

There has to be some room for doubt or else you can justify the worst of crimes as simple religious practice.

In my view absolutes are weakness, and allowing for consideration is an element of true strength.

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People Who Voted McCain Hate Obama, Big Surprise

I follow politics on both sides of the coin.

In my view the turning point for the McCain Campaign was the selection of Sara Palin.

The Thinking Conservatives removed their support in droves while the Limited Conservatives found a new poster-child for Partisan Logic.

Aside from the racism allowed to crop up in the Republican Campaign and the market crash under a Republican President, the Conservative Americans who actually think about their positions for longer than the span of a thirty second sound byte could not accept the ‘Say it so, Joe’ Logic and the overall presentation of John McCain’s pick for VP.

Many asked themselves and openly begged the question:

“If John McCain made this bad a decision for Vice President, then how can we trust him to make the right decisions on the war on terror.”

I am trying to draw a connection between the Obama-Hate Committee found on right wing radio and FOX Broadcasting with the vague demagogue figure of religious and moral authority found in the Governor of Alaska and her bid for the vice-presidency in 2008.

I think this group is just loud, and well-funded. Most, if not all, popularity of extremist presidential bashing from the Media Republicans comes from people who want theocracy and the destruction of American Liberty in the name of unfounded ideologies.

There are of course exceptions and a rare pack of conservatives can formulate a fair review of the Obama Presidency thus far, but they increasingly move into the minority as Media Hacks and Partisan Pundits rule the conservative-media.

Talking About God and Science

An anonymous man once impressed this image upon my mind:

I was doing one of these things awhile back and there was this guy in the room with a huge chip on his shoulder as soon as I said the word ‘God.’ This guy was huge, almost seven feet tall and arms like a gorilla. He told me there wasn’t no such thing as God and on top of that since nobody in the room could do a damn thing about him that he was God as far as it mattered. So I put a challenge to him. I emptied out a dresser, moved it out into the center of the room, and had everyone help me fill the bottom drawer with all the training weights we could. Then I told him to lift it up high. He struggled and moved it around more than I thought he would. But he couldn’t get it off the ground. Then we had everyone in the room, with him, try and lift the dresser. It came up from the floor so easily we almost hurt ourselves, surprised at our mutual strength. When we all sat down again after replacing the dresser and the weights he asked me what was the point. I told him that when he walked in that door today he thought he was God and now he can see that some things are outside his power. The God in everyone else with himself included was stronger than he could ever hope to be alone. So he was not God. But God was still present in the room, between all of us and stronger than any of us.

If you change the physical nature of this image of the huge man proclaiming himself “God” for a more intellectual design, one might evoke an image of a high-brow scholar scribbling out a formula that disproves the existence of God.

This is my impression of many atheists, and certain agonistics, I encounter. It seems to me that many have ‘thought God out of existence’ in the course of earnest and worthwhile studies. To my perception all science, and the nature of all knowledge itself, provides us with a constant ’unknown.’ Even in the absence of any religious background there is more than enough room for an understanding of the universe and life beyond simple reasoning’s of black-and-white logic.

While science shatters dogma and begs the eternal question simultaneously, it still does not negate the concept of a higher power.