Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Move to WordPress


This blog can now be found at WordPress. I moved after Blogspot deleted my blog (or at least removed it from view) and it took nearly a full two weeks to get it restored. Apparently they have software that automatically identifies "link spam" and automatically "removes" these blogs.

If you have a Blogger/Blogspot blog, I highly recommend the change to Wordpress. You can't use adsense there, but I honestly wasn't making anything off of that anyway. If I had thousands of visitors per day, it would be different, but this is just a hobby. If I should someday rise to the level of Pharyngula, I'll move to my own domain. Until then, the Adsense-free WordPress is fine with me and it is very, very flexible. What's more, the editor is far superior.

The new link to my blog is http://breakingspells.wordpress.com

If you have me linked or bookmarked, please update!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Religious Nuts in the News

Not all religious people are nuts. It can be argued that the religous are party to delusion on some scale, but we all become subjected to delusion from time to time.

The religious nuts, however, are not only deluded, but they're often sociopathic and, well... nuts!

J.K. Rowling was confronted by a religous nut

While shopping in a toy store with her children, an American religious nut approached her, put his face very close to his and said, “Aren't you that Potter woman?” and, “I pray for you every evening.”

Religious nuts have long held that her books promote "witchcraft" and "sorcery," so its not surprising that when you have someone writing fictional accounts about the supernatural that nuts who actually think the supernatural exists will be offended. Rowling was quoted as saying, "I should have said he'd better pray for himself but I was stunned. It was very frightening. I want nothing to do with fundamentalism of any sort. It scares me."

Religious Nuts in Russia are Waiting for Armageddon
This group of orthodox Christian religious nuts believes that everything in the world is "evil" and that globalization is "evil" and they've retreated to a man-made cave in a remote region of Russia called Penza, which is about 400 miles from Moscow. Not only are they waiting out the end of the world, they've also threatened to blow themselves up. It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that these religious nuts have their children with them.

Mitt Romney's Problem as a Religous Nut
I'll start with a quote from the article linke above:

If it were possible for a politician to sue voters for religious discrimination, Mitt Romney would have an open-and-shut case against the Republican electorate. Here is a man possessing all the known qualifications for the job of GOP presidential nominee - strong communications skills, a successful governorship, total agreement on every issue,...
... and he's completely batshit. This is a guy that wears magic underwear, that evolution is false, and that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri to name but a few nutty beliefs. So, yeah... Romney has all the qualifications of the typical conservative republican (what do conservatives really conserve anyway?). I think his fellow republicans who are crticial of Romney are just jelous that their cults don't have magic underwear.

Religious Nuts Who Call Themselves Government Officials Behead a Man for Sorcery
An Egyptian man was beheaded because he practiced witchcraft, committed adultery, and put a Koran in the bathroom. Apparently the guy had candles and herbs and liked to read while taking a dump (you'd think he'd find something more interesting, though). Oh, and he was alleged to have committed adultery.
The ministry said Ibrahim was exposed after a foreign resident sued him for practising sorcery aimed at causing him to split with his wife, and authorities found suspicious books and artifacts in his home.
So what else is punsishable by death in Saudi Arabia? Murder, drug trafficking, rape, apostasy, armed robbery and apparently sorcery. This is why we don't need religious nuts running my nation.

Religious Nuts Want it to be Legal to Carry Swords on Airplanes
... from the box-cutters-are-too-small dept
Sikhs in the U.K. want to be able to take their ceremonial swords called kirpans through secured areas where metal detectors alert to the presence of these weapons. The Sikhs argue that they are not allowed access to public places like Parliament, Immigration offices, courts, airports, etc.

Have they considered leaving the weapons at home?

On religious nut argued that, “[u]nder the Offensive Weapons Act, a kirpan is exempt because it is an article of faith but security personnel deny us entry to public places because we are carrying it."

I'm thinking of starting a new religioun in which my Glock is an article of faith.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Unscientific Poll Wars!

Every so often a Christian or creationist site runs a poll that gets hammered by atheists, rationalists and the like.

Via Pharyngula, here's the latest 'unscientific poll' from Baylor University's The Lariat Online, the online version of the school newspaper. How should Baylor Approach Intelligent Design.

Go and cast your vote! Skew the poll!

Sure, it's unscientific and doesn't mean that if a flood of atheists tip the results in favor of rationalism that Baylor will officially reject 'intelligent' design. But at least it'll let them know atheists are out there. Anything that gets us counted and noticed as a population that's big enough to affect polls is good.

In the mean time, the IDiots are encouraging their minions to vote and the poll, so far, shows 1039 votes for "encourage it" and 81 votes to "support it." The "discourage it" and "prohibit it" votes are climbing with 472 and 333 respectively. This as of 22:44 hrs on 17 November 2007.

Funniest quote from the IDiot blog comes from the very first post: "Baylor had a chance to be cutting edge in a field that holds tremendous promise: ID!"

"Cutting edge" and "tremendous promise" reminds me of the nutbars that go on and on about cold fusion, free energy, and thousands of crap herbal supplements.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

False Piety and Perceptions of Status

Lots of poll results get quoted on atheist blogs and during debates like the Gallup poll that reported 45% of Americans believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so; or the Harris poll that reports 90% of all Americans believe in God. Then there's the Pew Research poll that reports 20% of American Christians are sure that Jesus Christ will return in their lifetimes.

As startling as these figures are, one point of fact regarding them that is rarely discussed is this: the methodologies of the polls themselves do not allow for an accurate reflection of what those polled actually believe. At best, it can only be said that those polled claim to hold these particular beliefs. What percentage of those polled gave the answers they did because of how they want to be perceived rather than based on what they actually think? I remember once a speech many years ago in which the speaker quoted a Chinese philosopher, perhaps Lao Tzu (though I've been unable to find the source of this), who said that we each have Five Faces:

The face we see of ourselves;
The face we want to see of ourselves;
The face we want others to see of ourselves;
The face that others see;
And the face we actually wear.

I'm not a big fan of Chinese philosophy and I've never been able to find the actual source of that Lao Tzu quote (hell, I'm not even sure it was Lao Tzu), but I've always felt that there was something to this. It would be no intellectual leap or revelation to say that humans have a tendency to "present an image" of themselves that they deem favorable or desirable. Rappers and hip-hop artists have the "gansta" image. Politicians like to be seen as the common man. Living in the south, I've known many a smart man that pretended to be a dumb redneck. Truly stupid people seem to demand acknowledgement of their mental superiority. And so on.

Among these "images" that people present of themselves is also one of piety. What large workplace isn't littered with little religious symbols, bibles on desks, printouts of short scriptures, etc.? In my office, I walk past a half dozen or so bibles on desks just to go to the restroom. Several of the readers of these bibles can be seen taking notes and highlighting their bibles. Another desk has a blanket on the back of a chair with various names of the Judeo-Christian god embroidered on it. I can't count the number of scriptural sayings and quotes that are pinned to cubical walls. And their owners always seem eager to announce their church plans on Sunday; what church they attend; the goings on at this or that church; churches they once attended and why they no longer attend it. My own boss raves about the new Starbucks at his BFC (Big Frickin' Church). Each of these people works at a call center. Nearly every one ends their call with "have a blessed day." In fact, religious jargon litters their vernacular in a way that they may hope seems natural and genuine, but I can't help but think it is all contrived. Perhaps habitual, but contrived nonetheless.

In sports, this is very evident. How many times have you observed a boxer kneel in his corner and sign the cross? I've even watched fights on pay-per-view where both fighters kneel simultaneously and make the same pious gesture! How does that work? Does their god flip a divine coin to choose his winner? What about the baseball player that gives a post-game interview in which he attributes his team's recent win to divine favor? When that team doesn't make it through the playoffs, does that indicate his god has a favorite team; did his god suddenly find disfavor with his team; or did football season start and God changed his channel?

One conclusion that can be drawn from these public displays of piety among sports figures and co-workers is that they are mini-advertisements for their religion. For some or, possibly, many, this may be the case. In most cases, however, I think that these displays are appeals to popularity. Remember the percentages in the first paragraph? Americans are generally given to appealing to popularity anyway, which can be seen in the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, and the music we turn up loud. An appeal to popularity gives group acceptance and provides some status within the group.

It makes me conclude, then, that the percentages I mentioned above aren't what people actually believe, but what they want others to believe about them. If that's the case, then the number of people who actually believe the world to be 10,000 years old may be less. And the number of people who actually believe in God to the degree they claim could be fewer. If this is so, continuing to be vocal about the rational and reasoned point of view about religion and religious beliefs may prove to be effective in marginalizing religious dogma and bringing rational thought into the mainstream.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Magical Thinking: a Common Spell

One of the most prevalent spells that afflict humanity is that of magical thinking. Atheists are familiar with the spell of religion, which they reject, and magical thinking is very much a part of religion. But it goes beyond religious thought and belief. There are even atheists who are guilty of magical thinking!

Before going further, perhaps it would be helpful to define what magic is in order to understand what it means to think magically. Magic is the use of techniques whereby a person expects to exert supernatural power without any assistance from a supernatural being, often a perceived psychic emanation believed to affect or influence the natural world.

The obvious example of magic is the witch, who casts spells or “psychic emanations” to affect health or property of self or others either positively or negatively. In some societies there are those that believe themselves to be witches with abilities to produce magic and the book shelves of the local Barnes and Noble can attest to this fact with titles like Moon Magic and Summer Witchcraft, targeted to western adolescent girls.

Other societies believe that witchcraft exists in others and that being a witch is something to avoid being accused of at all costs. Those accused of being witches in African nations like Mali or Uganda stand a fair chance of being murdered by a frightened and superstitious public.

But neither the suburban, middle-class witches of the Starbucks culture in the west or the West African witches who are alleged to ride banana leaves and abduct people who wander away from the village at night are actually conducting “magic.” The only spell that can truly be at work in either case is that cast by brewing delusion in the cauldron of superstition.

The degree by which believers of either culture’s witches actually perceive witchcraft as real could be debatable, but at least no one in recent times has been publicly executed or lynched for practicing witchcraft in Woodland Heights –or any other suburb of the United States. The same cannot be said for Uganda, where there are actually laws restricting witchcraft practices.

To recognize the more subtle forms of magical thinking, it’s important to first examine some of the main types of magic:

Imitative Magic:
This type of magic is based on the principle that like produces like. IN other words, if you wish to achieve a certain result, you should do something which resembles it. Conversely, if you wish to avoid an undesirable result, you should avoid doing anything that resembles it. If you want rain, for instance, you imitate a thunderstorm by beating a drum; to avoid going into early or complicated labor, a pregnant woman should avoid standing in doorways or lying crossways on a bed.

Contagious Magic:
This type of magic is based on the principle of contact. After two things or a thing and a person have been in contact, whatever happens to one will have a similar effect on the other. AN example might be the use of a voodoo doll, created with an article of clothing or lock of hair from the intended victim –sticking pins into or burning the doll is expected to harm the victim. Another example is wrapping an arrow which wounded a man in damp leaves with an expectation that it will also care for the man.

Incantation Magic:
This is the belief that by reciting the proper words in the proper order will “give power” through chanting, praying, singing or simply saying.
Repetitive Magic: If something worked before, it’s simply repeated. An example might be the “good luck” rituals and talismans of sports figures who always eat the same foods before a game or wear the same underwear.

Written Letters and Words
: these include nonsense words like “abracadabra” and such magical beliefs are used with practitioners of Kabala. Ancient examples might also include the book of the Dead prayers and incantations inscribed into eh tombs of ancient Egyptians.

Magical thinking is most prevalent among ordinary people during situations involving chance and uncertainty. Studies of “baseball magic” revealed that magical thinking may help control anxiety since most use of rituals and “good luck charms” are found among the pitchers where there is the least control over the results of their own efforts and the most complexity, uncertainty and chance involved with their tasks. Outfielders, on the other hand, have the least instances of the use of rituals and chances. They also experience the least complexity in their assigned tasks and exert the most control in the results of their own efforts. Clearly there are several types of magic at work (or at least perceived) in sports like baseball. The repetitive magic of eating certain foods, wearing certain clothes, and tapping the home plate a certain number of times with a bat are prime examples.

There are even taboos within baseball that are silly when examined closely, such as mentioning a “no-hitter” is in progress or crossing base ball bats (on bat might “steal” hits from the other, implying that there exist a finite number of hits in a given bat!). Even the most skeptical and rationally-minded persons involved in a game won’t violate these taboos, perhaps for fear of having the eventual end of a pitching or hitting streak blamed on the violator. Statistically speaking, all streaks end just as surely as they are predicted to occur.

But lest we leave this post thinking that magical thinking is a spell of over-paid athletes and wannabe Sabrinas of Suburbia, consider the number of people who:

  • find Friday the thirteenth unlucky;
  • avoid walking under ladders;
  • believe bad things happen in threes;
  • that things happen “for a reason;”
  • believe that it always rains when they wash their car (my mother used to say when she hung out the laundry);
  • think that a bride must wear: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Even atheists cross their fingers, wish on stars and pennies tossed in mall fountains, and speak directly to traffic lights to make them change!

It is important as an atheist blogger for me to do my part in spreading rationalism while standing up for scientific naturalism and critical thought. But I find it helpful to remember that magical thinking is a human trait and, very likely, one that is evolutionary in its origin.

Related Posts

  • The Scientific Study of Religion

  • Five Stages of Religious Evolution

  • Friday, October 26, 2007

    BlogRush Bigotry: Freethinker, Humanist, and Atheist Blogs are "Hate Speech"

    So I arrive back in country yesterday and finally jump on the net to read some of my favorite blogs and start working on a couple of posts I've been considering. Checking my email, I discover that Blogrush has inactivated my account with them. Not a problem. I was planning on deleting their silly "widget" from my blog anyway since it 1) hasn't really brought me any traffic, and 2) Google Adsense doesn't like it.

    But the email I received from Blogrush said I was "inactivated" because of "[i]nappropriate Content Or Advertising: Hate Speech or Anti-Racial" content.

    What!? "Hate speech?" "Anti-racial?"

    Clearly, the dumb asses running Blogrush are clueless. If you're still hosting their "widget," you might do good to ditch it. Not only does it not work (and that's according to many, many blogs out there ... just google it), but if you use Adsense, you risk not getting a payout. I emailed Google Adsense just before leaving last week and their reply was in my inbox just under Blogrush's inactivation notice. According to Google Adsense:

    While we're unable to comment on any particular program or service, we do not recommend the use of any program that artificially drives traffic to your site. Use of these programs may lead to activity on your site that artificially inflates an advertiser's cost or a publisher's earnings, which would violate the AdSense program policies (https://www.google.com/adsense/policies) and Terms and Conditions (https://www.google.com/adsense/terms).
    I'm guessing what Blogrush didn't like about my blog is that it questioned superstition and challenges religious delusion. Since I've never made any racial comments or even discussed race or racial issues, it seems clear that this is their reason. This is supported by their failure to include channels for science or freethought, two HUGE blogospheric realms with significant numbers of interested bloggers and readers. This might lead one to believe that Blogrush is run by the superstitious who are offended at having their superstitions questioned or criticized.

    Not a problem. I'm not interested in any service that puts my Adsense pay-outs at risk. This blog doesn't contribute to a large degree to my Adsense account yet, but it doesn't need to. My other blog gets about 1200 hits/day and pays well. And the ads are not intrusive nor blatant. They're simple links like I use here.

    I advise anyone that is using the Blogrush pyramid scheme to drop them if they also use Adsense. If there's any doubt, email Adsense yourself if you don't trust the quote above. Not only is Blogrush a risk to your payouts, but their classification of atheist blogs as "hate speech" marks them as bigots as well.

    UPDATE: I've added the following filter to my AdBlock plugin for FireFox: http://widget.blogrush.com* If you use FireFox, you should truly get the AdBlock plugin. If you have it, just copy the url in above and paste it after clicking "New Filter." That way, you'll never have to look at another silly BlogRush Widget again.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Atheism for Kids -a warning by the Catholic League

    Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, an organization that bills itself as an "anti-defamation league" for the Catholic Church (as if one can truly defame fantasy and superstition), is protesting the new Nicole Kidman film, The Golden Compass, which is produced by New Line Cinema and Scholastic Entertainment.

    The League apparently finds it to be:

    “Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells," said Mr. Donohue.

    He continued: "The trilogy, His Dark Materials, was written to promote atheism and denigrate Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. The target audience is children and adolescents. Each book becomes progressively more aggressive in its denigration of Christianity and promotion of atheism."
    Donohue warns that "the movie is bait for the books." Hell, I didn't even know about the movie until I read the news item about the protest. Thanks, Catholic League! This is a don't miss movie for December for me! I might even get the books!

    Seriously, protests like this always seem to create interest rather than drive people away.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Christians Tired of Turning the Other Cheek to the New Atheists

    In a recent article on the Christian Post website, Christians are being urged to "not turn the other cheek" with regard to atheists who are entering the public square with books like The God Delusion.

    The author reviews What's So Great About Christianity by author Dinesh D'Souza, in which he calls for Christian apologists to "come to center stage" in defense of Christianity against the "new atheists."

    D'Souza's book and the article reviewing it are indicative of the effect that atheism is beginning to have on Christians. Authors like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens are starting to make them sweat, apparently:

    The atheistic arguments – that Christianity goes against reason and science and is based on blind faith – are resonating with people, D'Souza noticed, and hitting bestseller lists.

    "I do think that we are seeing a more self-confident and perhaps even militant atheism," he noted. "Atheists are kind of on the war path, out to attack religion, demean it, drive it out of the public square, and remove all religious symbolism from American society. So something odd is going on here."
    What's odd is that it's amazing that wide-spread delusion and superstition has to date received a free pass from criticism. And now that critics are emerging, the deluded and the superstitious don't like having their beliefs questioned or criticized.

    But D'Souza's call to arms will backfire if Christians take him up on it. The reason is that religion doesn't stand a chance against logic and reason. When faced with sound and cogent arguments, religious believers can only respond with fallacy. As I wrote earlier, circular reasoning, false cause, straw man arguments, arguments from ignorance, and weak analogies (among others) are the best most who argue for religious belief can muster.

    If Christians start firing back at skeptics and critics, no reasoned mind will accept their arguments as valid. Unless, of course, they've already been affected by the spell of belief to the point that they're able to hold contradictory beliefs in their heads at the same time. Take Zion Oil & Gas for instance. The entire board is made up of educated and smart people -engineers, mathematicians. The companies stock is up. They're drilling for petroleum and employee geologists and geophysicists using the latest geoprospecting tools like seismics, gravimetrics, and magnetics to locate petroleum reserves that were originally deposited millions of years ago. But they're also deluded by Judeo-Christian dogma and claim to use the Bible to locate oil. Ask anyone of these people, and I'm sure they'll concede that oil is made of deposits million of years old. Ask anyone of these people, particularly CEO John Brown, and I'm sure they'll agree that the Bible is inerrant and the world was created less than 10,000 years ago.

    Further evidence that Christians will be shooting themselves in the foot by taking critics and skeptics on in the "public square" is the fallacious bit of D'Souza's book that the articles author revealed in the form of so-called "myths" about the atheist position:
    Myth #1: Atheism is growing and more people are choosing it over church

    Pews might be empty in some urban parts of America, but the world is witnessing a huge explosion of Christianity, says D'Souza who notes Christianity as the fastest-growing religion in the world and that the number of unbelievers is actually shrinking.
    I'd almost be willing to bet that if one were to look in the endnotes of the chapter that includes this "myth," the source of info is a religious one and subject to confirmation bias. The Barna Group has found that adult evangelicals in 1994 was 7%. In 2004, that number was still 7%. The US population grew but the number of evangelicals did not. They also found that the Protestant population with drop below 50% of the national population if the trend toward a decline in Christianity continues.

    An ARIS (2001) study determined that the number of Christians in the US declined from 85% 1990 to 77% in 2001.

    Of course, if we look at data from church sources, the numbers are higher. Such data is skewed because of a host of factors -poor controls for cross-memberships, people who attend church for social reasons rather than religious, etc.

    Also, according to ARIS, the greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001.
    Myth #2: Religion has caused history's wars, murders, and violence

    The number of people killed in religious wars such as the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition is infinitesimal compared to those killed during modern atheist regimes, the author notes. "We have to keep a sense of proportion," he says.
    This is a fallacy of False Cause. D'Souza is implying the same tired argument used by those deluded with religious dogma that Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler et al committed their atrocities because they were atheists. The truth is that these people were dogmatic and it was dogma that informed their decisions to kill, go to war, commit genocide, etc. There's also an ad hominem tucked away in D'Souza's argument here, implying that atheism equates to immorality, when this simply isn't true. Indeed, there is absolutely no reason to believe that morality is informed by religion and not the other way around. Religious believers have the distinct ability to exclude morals that conflict with their dogma, humanists who live secular lives do not. If they choose to be immoral, they do so because they're greedy, inconsiderate, lack compassion, ignorant, lazy, etc. In other words, because they're human.
    Myth #3: There is no such thing as a human soul

    Atheists use science to argue that there is no soul, as there is no physical evidence of one. "If the atheist universe were true, there would be no free will in it," says D'Souza.
    This is a straw man fallacy since it miss-characterizes the general opinion of most atheists. At least those who rely on science to inform their position on the alleged human soul. The more appropriate argument that scientific naturalists who, perhaps, are atheists use with regard to a soul is that there is no reason to believe souls exist -particularly those of the Judeo-Christian description. Moreover, I find the "free-will" argument ironic since there is less chance of "free-will" existing in a universe created and maintained by an all-powerful, all-knowing god who "has a plan" than in a universe where "souls" do not exist. Indeed, one might say that there is second fallacy here, which is the slippery slope since D'Souza's conclusion that "free-will" can't exist if atheism is correct is quite the leap.

    The final "myth" revealed from D'Souza's book by the article's author is also a gem:
    Myth #4: Where is God when bad things happen?

    D'Souza turns this question around and asks where is atheism when bad things happen? At the tragic event of the Virginia Tech shooting in April, there were nonstop memorial services and everyone began to speak a very religious language of healing and spirituality, he noted. "Atheism has absolutely nothing to offer us at moments of life that matter the most – birth, marriage, death, suffering."
    Not only is this argument fallacious, but it is patently false. D'Souza is implying that only the religiously deluded offered assistance at Virginia Tech and other human tragedies. While its easy to concede that religious groups did offer help and comfort to their fellow persons and to each other, it is a false cause to assume that they did so because they were religious. We know this because of public displays of piety -the religious are very quick to speak of their delusions at times of crisis -indeed, some like to blame crises on the victims based on religious delusion (i.e. Pat Robertson). But there is no reason that we should know that the people caught on camera handing out water bottles, food, blankets, hugging victims, etc are atheists or non-religious. Whatever they are, whether they are secular or religious, at that moment they're humanists.

    In the last part of that quote, D'Souza said, "[a]theism has absolutely nothing to offer us at moments of life that matter the most – birth, marriage, death, suffering." I agree with that statement, but not for the same reason as D'Souza. Atheism doesn't inform morality. Atheism isn't a dogma. Atheism isn't an institution that is organized to provide humanitarian aid, deliver babies, marry couples, or bury the dead. Atheism is a lack of delusion in the gods of humanity.

    Being atheist doesn't automatically imply rationalism, humanism, morality, common sense, good judgment, intelligence, or an ability to accomplish world peace. It simply means that you don't subscribe to religious superstition.

    However, there are plenty of atheists that have given birth and have been fantastic parents. There are plenty of atheists that have successfully delivered babies. There are plenty of atheists who have joined couples in marriage and atheists who have long and healthy marriages to each other. There are atheists who have died well and without fear; helped their loved ones through the grieving process; and participated in very touching and moving but secular memorial services. And there are a multitude of atheists that are doing their very best to ease the suffering of their fellow humans as policemen, firemen, EMTs, doctors, soldiers, Peace Corps volunteers, etc.

    If these "myths" are an example of what we can expect when Christians begin to meet atheists in the "public square," I say, bring it on! They'll be their own worst enemies.

    Related Links and Sources

  • Christians Urged to Meet Atheists in the Public Square [Christian Post]

  • American Religious Identification Survey [.pdf] (ARIS 2001)

  • See also: Barna Group (2005) Annual Barna Group Survey Describes Changes in America’s Religious Beliefs and Practices. Found online at: http://www.barna.org

  • Baylor Update: "Expelled" after all

    A couple of posts back, I mentioned the Baylor University Professor that was supposed to have had his creationist webpage removed from the universities server. The professor is Robert Marks and I wrote that his webpage seemed to be still available. However, it seems that he had another page that *is* missing, so it seems that Baylor did, indeed, remove a faculty member's site (link at the top of the page)from their server based on its content.

    So it looks like Evolutionary Informatics Lab on the Baylor server was actually sacked. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, its nice to see even a Christian university recognize that there is no place for creationism in genuine academic discourse; on the other hand, its difficult to accept that they are willing to censor a member of faculty's personal views.

    See Pharyngula for a better analysis and opinion than I can provide -his insight is far greater than my own in this field and with the players involved.

    Related Posts and Links

  • Expelled or Exposed? [Breaking Spells]

  • Baylor Episode is Getting Wider Circulation [Pharyngula]

  • Baylor Has a Stalker [Pharyngula]

  • The Dumbest Argument Against Atheists

    This comes by way of John M. Lynch at Stranger Fruit, who sums up the argument found in this article on Answers in Genesis.

    1. Reasoning involves using the laws of logic.
    2. Laws of logic are God's standard for thinking.
    3. The atheist's view cannot be rational because he uses things (laws of logic) that cannot exist according to his profession.

    And if you think John was oversimplifying the Answers in Genesis argument, go read it for yourself. Found in this extra-special gem of delusion is this:

    he atheist might say, “Well, I can reason just fine, and I don’t believe in God.” But this is no different than the critic of air saying, “Well, I can breathe just fine, and I don’t believe in air.”
    No different? Their god, for which no evidence exists, compared to air, for which an abundance of evidence exists, is a very, very weak analogy. A stronger analogy would be to compare belief in the Christian god with belief in garden gnomes. With this analogy the quote would read more like:
    he atheist might say, “Well, I can reason just fine, and I don’t believe in God.” This is no different than the critic of garden gnomes saying, “Well, I can reason just fine, and I don’t believe in garden gnomes.”
    Such an analogy works just fine. Which is the reason why those deluded by religious beliefs refuse to actually use sound and cogent arguments. Weak analogies, circular reasoning, and false cause arguments are their stock and trade. Reason simply doesn't work when trying to justify delusion of any kind -including the religious.

    Thursday, October 4, 2007

    Suck it Jesus and God Damned Wars: the Clip

    I've gotta tip my hat to Ain't Christian where I noticed this YouTube clip of Kathy Griffin's appearance on Larry King:

    I've always been a fan of Kathy Griffin since I first noticed her on Suddenly Susan. On that show, Brooke Shields was the lead actor, but it was Griffin that stole the show in my opinion with her snarky and sarcastic wit. In the clip above, she pokes fun at both the entertainers that attribute their achievements to a mythical being and the entertainment establishment that panders to their superstitions by censoring comments that are deemed "offensive" to the superstitious.

    Featured on this segment is the uncensored clip of what Griffin actually said (it *was* funny, btw) as well as the comment by Sally Field that was censored where she said, "let's face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no god damned wars in the first place!"

    Funny stuff from Kathy Griffin:
    Griffin: "Bill O'Reilly called me a pinhead. That's a badge of honor."
    King: "Does Bill thank Jesus for his program?"
    Griffin: "He should.... you know what I'm saying?.... and a lot of other people...."

    Expelled or Exposed? ID’s Latest Martyr Might not Be

    WorldNut Daily is running a story about how a Baylor University Professor has been forced to remove his website that contains creationist and anti-evolutionist rhetoric. To quote the article:

    A professor whose research could be the foundation for a major challenge to Darwin's theory of evolution and his historically Christian employer are at odds over that work, with Baylor University ordering Professor Bob Marks' work taken off the Internet.

    The article then quotes Walt Ruloff, the executive producer of Premise Media, which produced "Expelled" with Ben Stein:

    As many of you have heard, Marks, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been conducting research that ultimately may challenge the foundation of Darwinian theory. In layman's terms, Marks is using highly sophisticated mathematical and computational techniques to determine if there are limits to what natural selection can do," he wrote. "At Baylor, a Christian institution, this should be pretty unremarkable stuff. I'm assuming most of the faculty, students and alumni believe in God, so wouldn't it also be safe to assume you have no problem with a professor trying to scientifically quantify the limits of a blind, undirected cause of the origin and subsequent history of life?

    Interesting so far. The article also mentions that WorldNut Daily spoke with a representative of Baylor University who said there are "ongoing legal discussions that we hope will be resolved to both party's mutual satisfaction."


    When you go to Bob Marks' webpage, it appears that all of his creationist
    nutbar nonsense is intact. It's all still there and doesn't appear as though it was ever changed. Even a review of the page's cache from July shows it to be the same page.

    So what's going on?

    Martin Hafner at molecular B(io)LOG(y) may have the answer. It seems that there was a poster at Uncommondescent.com that went by the handle "Botnik" (as in roBOT NIKname?) that posted an alleged email from Baylor's president which outlined the removal of his website from the Baylor server. The quoted email's was posted on UD with the word "Parody" preceding it. But apparently UD posters didn't get the joke according to Wm. Dembski himself:

    In retrospect, it's clear that this piece of tomfoolery went too far. I'm therefore removing the thread. I hope Baylor and President Lilley take its removal as a gesture of goodwill on the part of UD as they reconsider what to do about Robert Marks and his Evolutionary Informatics Lab.

    If Baylor never took down Marks' anti-evolution nonsense; and if it's all an admitted hoax gone too far, who did WorldNut Daily actually speak to at Baylor and why is WorldNut Daily reporting that Marks' anti-evolution pages are down (they're clearly still up) and that his job is in danger?

    Could it be that WorldNut Daily was suckered by another bunch of religious nutters? Or could it be that Baylor actually decided to take action after the "parody" was played out on uncommondescent.com?

    Should the article at WorldNut Daily (Darwin challenged, research censored) disappear; I think we'll have our answer.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    A Religious Test for Public Office

    This is clip from a recent Real Time Episode with Bill Maher and he makes some interesting (and funny) comments during his "New Rules" segment.

    Maher points out that the Constitution forbids any religious test to be passed in order to run for office and agrees that anyone, regardless of their religion, should have the right to run for public office.

    He then makes the very true statement that voters have the right, however, to use the religious beliefs of candidates into consideration when casting their votes. Here the gist of his "test" (paraphrased, of course):

    1) if you believe in judgment day, I have to seriously question your judgement.
    2) if you believe you're in a long-term relationship with an all-powerful space-daddy, who will, after you die, party with your ghost forever, you can't have my vote even for Miss Hawaiian Tropic. I can't trust you with the levers of government because there's an electrical fire going on in your head.
    3) maybe a president that didn't believe our soldiers were going to heaven might be a little less willing to get them killed.

    He goes on to poke fun at Mitt Romney's magical underwear and Mormonism, which he likens to "Scientology without the celebrities."

    His jokes and jibes aside, he made a very interesting point: non-believers are a minority (about 20% of the American public), but a bigger minority that blacks, jews, gays, NRA members, teachers, or seniors -all demographics that politicians are actively seeking approval of.

    I think its time that we non-believers and rationalists show creative methods of demonstrating to politicians that our vote is one that can have an effect. The question is when you are faced with a candidate pool in which all members are religious nutters or at least pander to the religious, how do you decide for whom to vote? Not voting can have an effect, but in an election where getting the right candidate may have long-term effects on Supreme Court nominations and subsequent decisions, not voting -even for a religious candidate- can have a detrimental effect on the cause of non-believers.

    Related Links

  • Stark's atheist views break political taboo [SF Gate.com]

  • Gallup Poll on voting choices [galluppoll.com]

  • Religion, voting and the campaign [Pew Research Center]

  • Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Atheist Soldier Threatened -a Veteran's Opinion

    VJack [Atheist Revolution] has a post up on the recent plight of Jeremy Hall, a Specialist in the U.S. Army stationed in Iraq, and a true hero. Not only is he serving his country in a combat zone, but he’s also standing up for the United States Constitution and the very Freedoms that he swore to uphold when he joined the military. SPC Hall, I salute you.

    Hall’s plight is one that involved his attempt to organize a group of atheists and non-Christians for a social meeting approved by an Army chaplain. One of the attendees turned out to be a Christian and an officer that had nothing good to offer to the group. Indeed, he ordered the group to discontinue the meeting and threatened his junior with non-judicial punishment. These are acts of cowardice such as this on the part of Major Welborne, the Christian who allowed his religious delusion to override his rationality and duty as an officer in the US Army. Duty, honor, country are buzzwords I’m sure this disgrace to the uniform I once wore likes to drop at cocktail parties at the Officer’s Club, but I doubt Welborne truly understands their meaning. It would appear, instead, that he fits them into his own religious delusion, preferring that Christianity be imposed upon all soldiers, regardless of their own beliefs. Ironically, this is the very nature of the enemy Welborne is tasked to combat: the Muslim extremists who think that anyone who chooses to leave Islam should be put to death and those that aren’t yet Muslims should be converted or killed.

    Does that make Welborne a terrorist? With the constantly moving goalposts of that definition in our current administration, who can really say? But there’s no doubt that, for his patriotism, Hall is being terrorized. After being named a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and after he refused to join hands in a cult prayer at an earlier time, Hall has had his life threatened on various blogs and directly threatened by members of his unit. When your faith requires that you threaten others who question it, is it really all that good of a faith?

    Its clear that religious nutters within the military have an opinion on how religion should be treated and presented, but what does the official word say?

    Army Regulation 165-1, Chaplain Activities in the United States Army, includes the following:

    Even though the chaplain is an ecclesiastically endorsed representative of his or her faith group, the chaplain has the responsibility to confront the command when the religious rights of any soldier are affected (AR 165-1, 1-4, b).
    “Religious rights” also includes the right not to have a particular religious cult imposed upon a soldier that doesn’t believe in the cult’s doctrines. Indeed, this regulation is contrary to the coerced participation in cult activities and prayers that Hall was subjected to. If anyone should be subjected to UCMJ action, it is the officers in charge of these events.
    The Army recognizes that religion is constitutionally protected and does not favor one form of religious expression over another (AR 165-1, 3-3, a).
    Expression of one’s lack of religion or one’s opinion of religion is also a form of religious expression.
    Distinctive faith group leaders may provide ministry on an exception to policy basis when military chaplains are not available to meet the faith group coverage requirements of soldiers and their families.
    Distinctive faith group leaders—
    (1) Are normally volunteers.
    (2) Do not function as military chaplains.
    (3) Must be sponsored and supervised by an assigned chaplain.
    (4) May receive offerings at services they conduct with the funds being handled IAW chapter 14 of this regulation.
    (5) Will receive no payment for their services, travel, or other expenses from APF (unless under contract). Military members will not be paid. However, if these leaders are nonmilitary full-time ordained clergy, they may be contracted. Pay rates will not exceed the contract prices for civilian clergy contracted with APF.
    (6) Will not perform collective Protestant services (AR 165-1, 5-5, a, b)
    Hall’s meeting adhered to these requirements.

    Army Regulation 1-211, Attendance of Military and Civilian Personnel at Private Organization Meetings, includes the following:
    Attendance at meetings at Government expense will be authorized only when information gained will substantially benefit the approving authority’s mission (AR 1-211, 4).
    Hall’s meeting of atheists and non-Christians did, indeed, benefit the unit, the approving authority of which the chaplain represented. Soldiers who find themselves in the midst of so many religious nutters, who are forcing their religious doctrines upon non-believers, and coercing non-believers to participate in cult activities like prayers, will likely feel alienated and alone. By allowing them to meet socially and discuss their worldviews, the non-believers in the unit would find support and human fellowship with likeminded individuals, having a positive increase in their esprit de corps as they continued with their daily mission for the unit. Any commander that wouldn’t allow these individuals to meet on their own time has another agenda that overrides his or her military mission.

    Department of Defense Directive 1300.17, Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services, includes:
    3.1. A basic principle of our nation is free exercise of religion. The Department of Defense places a high value on the rights of members of the Armed Forces to observe the tenets of their respective religions. It is DoD policy that requests for accommodation of religious practices should be approved by commanders when accommodation will not have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, standards, or discipline.
    While the language of both of this directive is geared toward individual religious cults like Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Hindis, etc., it doesn't take much effort to infer from it the intent, which is to allow soldiers who have a diversity of religious opinions and beliefs to feel comfortable and secure and to express these opinions and beliefs where appropriate as well as included to foster a sense of esprit de corps.

    As a 12-year veteran of the US Army (1984-1996), I understand the necessity of esprit de corps and having strong morale while taking part in extended combat operations.
    4.3. When requests for accommodation are not in the best interest of the unit and continued tension between the unit's requirements and the individual's religious beliefs is apparent, administrative actions should be considered. These actions may include, but are not limited to, assignment, reassignment, reclassification, or separation. Nothing in this Directive precludes action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (reference (d)) in appropriate circumstances.
    This part of the DoD directive is interesting. For the unit commander with a head on his or her shoulders, for a commander that has his or her unit’s mission as primary goal, recognizing that not all the soldiers in his or her command is a Christian and may actually have other, or even no, religious beliefs would be something that commander should be aware of and be willing to address. And the best way of addressing such an issue would be to allow alternatives for these soldiers to express themselves or to associate with each other without the influence of Christianity; and certainly without Christian believers coercing them. The result would be that these soldiers would feel included and a part of a team that has diversity. Such esprit de corps creates the sense that one belongs to something greater than a religion or a religious opinion; and as a former military leader, I know of nothing greater to belong to than a unit that respects its members and where its members respect each other –regardless of internal disagreement or shortcomings.

    Stand your ground, Jeremy Hall. You’re a hero.

    Related Links

  • Army Violates Religious Freedom [Atheist Revolution]

  • Urgent Issues [Military Religious Freedom]

  • God Fearing Christian Soldiers Threaten Atheist Soldier for Expecting Equality

  • Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Social Networking for the Secular Community?

    VJack at Atheist Revolution brings up a topic that I think we (meaning the atheist/secularist blogosphere) should be talking about.

    He notes that "We Need a Secular Community."

    A while back, I was browsing Deviant Art, where I have a page for some of my photography. Before my Minolta SLR broke, I was an amateur film photographer and it was a nice place to display my work and discuss topics of interest with like-minded people. Artists of all kinds are welcome at Deviant Art: writers, poets, photographers, digital artists, musicians, painters, sketch artists, etc.

    I hadn't been to Deviant Art in a while and I had just started this blog when I visited just to get a copy of a photo I no longer had on my computer. It occurred to me then that an atheist community like this would be fascinating and useful. Many of the artists at Deviant Art have their own, independent websites which they link to, using DA as a hub that links artists together. There are forums, galleries, message boards, journals, and stores to sell prints, etc.

    Here's the comment I left at Atheist Revolution:

    I thought some time ago about what it might be like to create a social networking site. Niche groups do very well with these types of internet based communities and they often branch out beyond the internet.

    Examples are, of course My Space and FaceBook, which each have their share of atheist, humanist, etc members -but something on par with Deviant Art, where all members share a commonality of being secularists would be interesting.

    The Richard Dawkins Foundation *almost* reaches this, but something with user pages, blogs, galleries to show personal artistic talents in audio/visual/literary talents, podcasts, etc. would be a fascinating venture. One that could feasibly pay for itself if the right advertising were utilized.

    The potential to act as a hub that would tie in all the atheist/humanist/secular/etc blogs and sites is the part that appeals to me.

    What if atheists had an online community that acted as a hub that socially linked each member to all other members great and small in a way similar to Deviant Art? Atheist writers and artists could sell their books, share their prose and poetry, display their artistic talents, and so on.

    But the hub would be a goldmine for activists and lobbyists for the atheist/secularist causes. We could aggregate and disseminate information and news that concerns us more efficiently. We could organize activities, meetings, conferences, etc. more effectively -both in the internet and outside of it.

    Such a site could generate its own revenue through advertising and perhaps even membership fees for premium content (i.e. feeds to conferences or ad-free user pages) and this revenue would be used to promote and maintain the site.

    These are just thoughts. I'm under no delusion that my blog is all that read or visited to generate sufficient discussion here, but VJack got me thinking about this again with his post. A Secular Social Networking Community would touch on the points that VJack bullets at his site such as: creative growth, shared wisdom, and setting the record straight. It would provide a platform to reinforce feelings of safety and protection by showing those who are secular-minded that there is a whole community and thousands who share their understanding of the world. It would provide a starting point for political power by creating a place where organizations like Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Center For Inquiry, American Atheists and others can mobilize grass-roots action and lobbying for secular causes. And of course the psychological sense of community and social support would be a given -something that the atheist/humanist blogosphere is already providing with blogs like the Friendly Atheist, Atheist Revolution, Daylight Atheism and so many others.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Free Speech: YouTube Deletes Videos of Religious Critics

    Convicted Felon, Kent Hovind, and his Creation Science Evangelism have been flagging videos that are critical of his cult and their beliefs as including copyrighted material of theirs even though CSE has openly stated on many occasions that there material is not copyrighted and others are free to distribute it.

    YouTube, with its general reluctance to stand up to claims of copyright abuse, even those that are completely unfounded, has removed videos from many users, including videos that were unrelated to CSE's claims. YouTube has, to date, seem uninterested in taking into consideration the validity of Fair Use when skeptics refute the nonsense of superstition and dogma. The Rational Response Squad has had their videos removed after complaints by CSE as well as Uri Geller, the charlatan spoon-bender exposed long ago by James Randi.

    Black Collar Criminal: Wacko from Waco

    Sixty-three year old Henry Edgington, was the pastor of Elm Mott Church of Christ until he stepped down this week.

    Why did he step down, you ask? He was found to have child pornography in his home and on the computer at the Czech Inn, a local hotel where Edgington worked part time. His future daughter-in-law apparently found a locked box at his home, which she turned over to police, that contained child porn. The police then found child porn on the computer at the Czech Inn (he didn't have a home computer) and arrested Edgington.

    Edgington's excuse is that he was "conducting research" on child porn in an effort to "get child porn off of the internet."

    Right. He was doing it one pornographic image at a time, all the while building a personal library of images depicting children in pornographic pose. Not surprisingly, the members of his church have rallied behind him, perhaps believing the claim that he was working on the side of good and not actually a perverted pastor of pedophilia.

    The give away to his true efforts is that he kept the padlocked box of porn, not in a study of office where most of us who do research work, but in his bathroom. The place where you go blind.

    If Christianity actually worked, and if it were truly the way to live a good life, wouldn't one expect that religious leaders would be paragons of virtue? The apologist has no hesitation, I'm sure, in pointing out that even pastor's are human; others will say "if he was a true Christian, ..." It's very interesting how these lame excuse are so easily and so frequently used. Sometimes I have to wonder if there is any such thing as a "true Christian" or a "true Muslim." It's also lucky for sports fans that the rules of football don't allow goal posts to move so readily during a game.

    Friday, September 7, 2007

    Militant Atheist? Is this a real label?

    Or is it just a pejorative label invented by some theists who wish to depict their atheist critics as just as irrational and non-critical as they are? Indeed, there are also atheists who use the term, also pejoratively, for much the same thing. "Neville Chamberlain atheists" like Chris at Mixing Memory love to get their digs in on atheists like Richard Dawkins or Samuel Harris since they seem to resent those that dare rock the boat. To them, pointing out that the emperor is in the buff doesn't help them coexist with theists; instead, atheism is a matter of "framing" so as to convince theists that the chill they feel isn't a lack of clothing but rather a result of high quality fabric with good ventilation.

    Some theists, however, seem to toss about the "militant atheist" term whenever an atheist has the gall to question their beliefs, suggest that they might be wrong, demand separation of church and state, or advocate that religion shouldn't have anything to say about things like gay marriage, sex education, stem cell research, etc. There is no hesitation to utter the pejorative label "militant atheist" with theists who are upset at rationalism being used to put their superstitions in check whenever an atheist questions the constitutionality of "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance or the public display of the 10 Commandments in government buildings.

    The counter argument I can already hear by these theists is "well, you call religion a delusion!" True. I do refer to religion as a delusion. I was making this comment about religion before Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. Most Christian and Islamic apologists seem to think that Dawkins was the first to recognize that religion is a delusion, but this has been argued countless times before –at least on the internet.

    A delusion is an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary. With regard to Christianity, there is a fair bit of evidence that suggests that the popular notion that the doctrine followed is completely fabricated by man. I won't go into it here, since an entire book could be written on the subject (and they have!), and nor would I expect any devout believer that might read my words to accept them even if I did elaborate. After all, it isn't called a delusion because it's an idea easy to change. Delusions are often impervious to evidence, self-inoculated with escape clauses in the core doctrine, justifications, and the inevitable "god works in mysterious ways" argument.

    A militant, on the other hand, is someone that uses a military strategy or military method of achieving one's goal. I'm not sure it can be successfully argued that there are many atheists who are militant because of their atheism. I do, however, know many atheists who are militant, but this is because, contrary to the popular theist myth, they are atheists in foxholes. In fact, I was once an atheist and a member of the U.S. Army. But my militant demeanor and position wasn't due to my atheism.

    Dawkins, Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have spoken out against religion. Indeed, their comments have, at times, been very blunt. However, I've yet to notice any military-like strategy used. They have used only truth and rationalism as far as I've seen, and if being truthful is a qualifier for applying the "militant" label then we should hope to soon have "militant teachers," "militant therapists," "militant congressmen," and so on.

    But these people would never have such labels applied with the expectation that they are being truthful, forthright, and honest –no matter how brutally. The "militant" adjective is intended to demean and diminish the honesty of the target and to impugn it rather than glorify it. In fact, when we here the term "militant theist" used on the 6:00 pm news, it's usually about a religious extremist who has just killed one or more people. Today's headlines included, Pakistan 'prostitutes' beheaded, and following the link to that story will take you to the very next paragraph which reads:

    Suspected Islamic militants in north-western Pakistan have beheaded two women they accused of being prostitutes, police say.

    I also might expect to see someone who is described as "militant" to be wearing military attire, even if they aren't killing someone. I've never seen Richard Dawkins in a set of combat fatigues, but I have noticed that many church organizations have taken on the "Christian soldier" theme (perhaps from the popular hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers") with organizations like the Koinonia Worship Center.

    Militant atheism? Militant atheists? When atheists start wearing fatigues and marching the streets in formation or when we start the first atheist militia perhaps. But until then, the term "militant atheist" is a pejorative term used by those that seek to use ad hominem responses where reason and rationalism are insufficient to counter superstition and delusion. While I'm sure there are those that would see my use of "superstition" and "delusion" as ad hominem as well, I can at least justify their definitions in application to those described.

    Thursday, September 6, 2007

    Watching Islam: Let the World “Be Warned.”

    What do you get when you take a handful of well-educated Muslim apostates that left Islam because they were tired of Islam's "bigotry, mindless rituals and its barbaric and draconian punitive measures;" add to that a sense of responsibility and love for the remaining 1.4 billion Muslims still living in fear or delusion within the Islamic faith; then provide an internet server and a domain name?

    Answer: islam-watch.org

    For the new reader and Muslim with the courage to question the doctrine of Islam or at least read about the experiences of those who did question their faith and arrive at some different conclusions, Islam-Watch.org offers some interesting reading material. Ali Sina discusses leaving Islam in Why I left Islam and Abul Kasem writes Making of an Unbeliever. Both writers share very personal thoughts, feelings, and conflicts that caused them to question the validity of Islam and ultimately reject it as a way of life.

    The writers, editors and contributors at Islam-Watch.org have concluded:

    "that Islam is not at all a religion of peace as touted by many smooth-talking, self-serving Islamists and the Islamic apologists. The core of Islam, that is, the Qur'an, Hadis and Sharia are filled with unbound hatred for the unbelievers, unbelievably intolerant and exceptionally cruel and merciless to those who dare to deviate an iota from its doctrine."

    Among the many articles and op-ed pieces listed at Islam-Watch.org, I found this one: Jihad against ham dust from backyard BBQ in Birmingham. The article is written tongue-in-cheek but discusses a very real issue for the residents of Cotton Park, Rugby, in Warwickshire, UK. Rugby is near Birmingham, so the reference in the title had me thinking about an Alabama BBQ, particularly with the accompanying photo of Jed and Granny Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies. The real issue, however, is in regard to the proposed pet food factory planned to be opened by Butcher's Pet Care, which would produce pet food. Local Muslims in the area are seeking to block the construction and subsequent operation of the factory because pet food is made with pork. This, they believe, will end up in their chimneys and become airborne as microscopic particles of pork only to "rain down" on their neighborhoods, thus making everything touched by rain impure.

    Apparently, Butcher's Pet Care has the go-ahead to build the factory and the article quotes at least one protestor as saying:

    "In this country we are allowed the right to follow our religion and religious beliefs," cried one protestor. "By allowing this plan to go ahead our religious rights are being swept to one side for what appears to be economic greed."

    Surely a single religious cult can't get its way and impose its beliefs on secular society, right? Wrong. The same article mentions another story in Great Britain that I'd heard elsewhere: "[i]n Scotland, Doctors and health care workers have been ordered not to eat lunch at their desks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan because it might offend Muslim workers."

    Following this line of reasoning, it should soon be problematic to drink coffee in the workplace since it would offend Mormons; school cafeterias will need to offer all kosher foods all the time; and I really don't even want to think about Lent. It's bad enough I can't buy a six-pack of beer on Sunday.

    Go visit Islam-Watch.org. If nothing else, you'll find some very interesting reading. I guarantee you bookmark the site for later returns if the subject of Islam at all interests you as an atheist-humanist (indeed, it probably has its share of regular Christian readers).

    Friendly Links Found on a ‘Friendly’ Blog

    The Friendly Atheist has a couple of posts worth spreading the news on:

    First, he links to the Friendly Christian, who has a brief interview with Hermant, the Friendly Atheist. The discussion touches on questioning beliefs and faith, praying for the Cubs who don't need it, and something about Hermant that I never knew. Hermant, as most atheist blog readers know wrote a book available on Amazon titled, I Sold My Soul on Ebay: Viewing Faith Through an Atheists Eyes.

    The next link Hermant gives us is to the Continuum of Humanist Education (COHE) website, which "is the Internet's first website offering interactive courses in humanist thought." They have a free demo course, Introduction to Humanism: A Primer on the History, Philosophy, and Goals of Humanism, which includes two lessons covering the history of humanist thought and contemporary humanist philosophy. I've already started reading this and will register for other courses. Some are free and some have tuition, but the site is definitely worth checking out. The courses include online quizzes and glossaries and the demo course allows you to familiarize yourself with the online learning modules should you take additional courses.

    During the last two sentences, I've already flipped back and forth to the site and registered for courses… I like what I see so far!

    Sunday, September 2, 2007


    … is being hosted this week at Bligbi. Go! Read!

    Three weeks from now, the Humanist Symposium will be hosted at Elliptica. Submit your entries here!

    Carnival of The Godless can be found at Atheist FAQ.

    I didn't get in a post at either this time around, but will submit next time for each... its been a busy summer.

    Christianity = Deception

    PZ Myers has recently blogged about his experiences with being a part of an upcoming movie with Ben Stein that highlights creationist agenda and religious superstition as being unfairly excluded from public schools and discourse. Apparently the whole thing began with a deception by the film's producer, Mark Mathis, who promised that he was making a documentary about the intersection of science and religion in America, called Crossroads: the Intersection of Science and Religion. It turns out that the film is actually titled Expelled which works on the premise that scientists aren't even allowed to think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. The producers, backed by religious funding and proceeding with religious motivations, deceived PZ Myers and others like Eugenie Scott and Richard Dawkins to appear in their "documentary."

    Such deceptions aren't alien to Christians.

    It would seem that some Christians think it is their god's will that they lie and deceive in order to spread or justify their delusions. The Dover, PA case in which a court ruled that the local school board's attempt to inject "intelligent design" into the district's science curriculum was complete deception designed to infiltrate public schools with religion.

    Another deception has shown up in the news recently with regard to a Colorado high school student, Erica Corder, who used her commencement speech to proselytize to the audience. This is what she had to say:

    "We are all capable of standing firm and expressing our own beliefs, which is why I need to tell you about some- one who loves you more than you could ever imagine. He died for you on the cross over 2,000 years ago, yet was resurrected and is living today in heaven. His name is Jesus Christ. If you don't already know him personally, I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice he made for you, so that you now have the opportunity to live in eternity with him."

    Fox News ran a 3-4 minute report on the issue where they reported that she thanked Jesus and had her diploma withheld until she agreed to apologize for thanking Jesus. Online news outlets and blogs are reporting the same thing. This quote pretty well sums up the position that Faux News had as well:

    So continues the fight for right in the United States. The first amendment guarantees freedom of religious expression; however, interestingly enough even in so-called educated quarters, this freedom is cut through

    As you can see, there's no hesitation in citing the First Amendment and a guarantee of "freedom of religious expression." And if the right-wingnut news outlets were reporting the whole story, I'd be in agreement: Corder should have been able to thank whomever she wished, regardless of whether the person really exists. She could want to thank the Tooth Fairy and it should be a protected expression of gratitude. And we should all be free to ridicule and criticize that expression.

    However, Faux News and News By Us didn't give the full story. They conveniently left out the fact that the commencement speeches were rehearsed well in advance and the speech Corder promised to give –the one she rehearsed – was different and didn't include an encouragement for others to join her in delusion and superstitious thought. She surprised school officials with a proselytizing that she had planned all along, according to a Colorado Springs newspaper. Apparently, she admitted to "praying about it for months" and was deluded into thinking that a god wanted her to do it.

    The deception in the Corder case was two-fold: first, Corder herself deceived the school officials and fellow valedictorians and sprung her preaching moment on them; second, religious nutters in media are deceiving the public by omitting her tacit promise to give a different speech. They attempted to make it seem that she was persecuted by the school for mentioning a mythical deity when, in reality, she was being held accountable for lying.

    Saturday, September 1, 2007

    Texas is an outright embarrassment to the educated world

    "House Bill 3678 is designed to force sectarian religion into public schools using the power of the state" is the title of the July 9, 2007 page at the Texas Citizens for Science website that describes a recent legislation by the State which passed into law and is effective this school year.

    Through this "legislation students will be allowed to substitute their own sectarian religious explanations for scientific, historical, and cultural events and phenomena without fear of contradiction or correction. The law permits students, for example, to give responses in classes--no exception is made for science classes--that allow religious creationist explanations for natural phenomena in classwork, homework, and exams without penalty."

    In a previous post (one post back) I described House Bill 1034, which inserted "one state under god" in the Texas pledge.

    Together, these bits of government legislation turn Texas into a theocratic state rather than one that is secular, likening it more to Taliban controlled Afghanistan than the United States of America. Moreover, Texas –a government with a state-sponsored execution rate exceeding that of most third-world dictatorships- becomes the laughing stock of the educated world.

    Amendments to this theocratic legislation that were rejected included provisions to provide training to teachers on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and to mandate that schools ensure that no student is coerced into participation of religious activity. The theocratic nutjobs that have found their way into government have effectively prevented thought and reason from being considered and have made it clear that their goals are not to have educators trained to recognize First Amendment violations but to indoctrinate by force whatever child they can.

    Amazingly enough, self-described "wacko Christian," David L. Thompson has the gall to criticize those that are critical of this absolutely astonishing violation of the United States Constitution. You'll find his post trolling PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog at the link in the previous sentence. Myers post begins here, and Thompson was apparently offended at Myers' use of pejorative comments and ridicule of the legislation and the nutjobs that introduced and voted for it. Thompson makes many references to Myers' position as an educator and takes offense that a credentialed person would be willing to ridicule nonsense, superstition or utter bullshit.

    But this is exactly what the theocratic state of Texas deserves: ridicule. They're an embarrassment to the rest of the nation. Kansans are probably relieved now that there's a state that looks more stupid than their own. After all, it was the Kansas education system that was showing their stupidity in the recent attempts to inject creationism in their science classes, not their state government!

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    Texas Pledge Challenged: “god” Should be Deleted

    An atheist couple in Dallas, Texas filed a suit to have the word "god" removed from the Texas state pledge, which reads:

    "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under god, one and indivisible."

    House Bill 1034 during the 80th Legislature added the phrase "one state under god" this year, requiring all school-age children beginning in kindergarten to be indoctrinated in Christian mythology regardless of the mythical beliefs or lack thereof of their families. Children whose families are Hindu, Muslim, Native American, agnostic and atheist must worship the Christian god every morning. The alternative is to be ostracized by the teacher leading the pledge and stand in the hall during this moment of state-sponsored superstition.

    If the suit filed by David and Shannon Croft is finally heard and the judge sitting on the bench uses the United States Constitution as a guide, the phrase may be deleted, but I suspect that fear of alienating a voting base may impact the judge's decision. It's likely the judge will cite the national pledge as precedent, putting the onus of adhering to the Constitution on the federal government first.

    The Crofts filed a request for injunction to prevent the pledge from being used until the case was heard, but this was denied.

    News links:

    Suit would delete' God' from Texas pledge

    Court denies injunction on state pledge

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    The Threat of Theocracy: Islam and World Domination

    Make no mistake. Muslims seek to dominate the world.

    I'm not simply using hyperbole in that statement or exaggerating the threat that Islam poses to freedom and secular choices. Various cults of Islam are devout in their intent to spread their cults to all of humanity and publically state these intents. Moreover, it is written in their mythology, which they accept as unquestioning truth, that Muslims should seek to share their delusion with the entire world.

    Mawlana Abul Alla Mawdudi, the founder of Pakistan's fundamentalist movement, has said:

    Islam is not a normal religion like the other religions in the world, and Muslim nations are not like normal nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn't look for a nation to be in better condition than another nation. Islam doesn't care about land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power in this world that tries to get in the way of that goal Islam will fight and destroy. In order for Islam to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.

    Of course, so-called moderate Muslims will object and say that "jihad" simply means "struggle" and that each Muslim "struggles" to bring peace, harmony, etc. Unfortunately, theirs is a voice, even if it is a majority, that isn't heard nor is it loud. It is, after all, the Koran itself that teaches what jihad is truly about in passages like those found in Surah 8:

    When you fight with disbelievers, do not retreat. Those who do will go to hell (8:15-16); those that the Muslims killed were not really killed by them. It was Allah who did the killing (8:17); Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah (8:39); and, don't let the disbelievers think they can escape. They are your enemy and the enemy of Allah (8:59-60).

    Passages like these are what inform the violent interpretations of "jihad" with Muslims; but what of global domination? What justifies this evangelism of terror in the eyes of the Muslim? Further looks at Koranic verses is revealing:

    Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits...And slay them wherever ye catch them.  And turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution is worse than slaughter; But fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they first fight you there; But if they fight you, slay them.  Such is the reward of those who reject faith.  But if they cease, Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.  And fight them on until there is no more persecution.  And the religion becomes Allah's.  But if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression (2:190-3)

    Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward (4:74).

    And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious, merciful (9:5)

    Nor is there any encouragement within the Koran to tolerate those that don't accept the delusion of Islam:

    Thou seest many of them making friends with those who disbelieve. Surely ill for them is that which they themselves send on before them (5:80).

    Jihad explains the few extremists that have "martyred" themselves by flying planes into skyscrapers, detonating themselves on trains, or those caught before they could detonate bombs in the United States and Europe. But the jihad that threatens to introduce Islam in staggering numbers across Europe is far more subtle than a suicide bomber. This jihad is playing on secular ideals and the cry for tolerance on the left in the wake of the more violent versions of jihad. The subtle version seeks to introduce Muslim practices and culture in the secular nations of Europe by changing laws and policies making it difficult for opposition to question, criticize or restrict Muslims. On the surface, it seems a good thing not to restrict someone based solely on their religious beliefs. But, looking a bit deeper, one sees more than a mere longing for religious equality. A recent outcry in the United States by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) complains of new TSA requirements at airports to search large head-coverings that include cowboy hats, straw hats, turbans and berets. In particular, TSA security personnel can now pat down these types of headgear even if the metal detectors didn't alert in order to check for non-metallic, dangerous items.

    Pressure against government agencies in the United States has less impact, however, than in Europe, where Muslims have made it difficult to be critical or restrictive on their religious superstitions without being "hateful" or "discriminatory." In Scotland, doctors and nurses at a hospital have been instructed not to eat in front of Muslim workers during Ramadan. Food trolleys are to be moved away from their sight and Muslim workers are to be given time to pray. This is an example of religious tolerance gone too far, but that isn't the furthest reaches of what is desired by Muslims in Britain. Muslims there wanted a law passed that would essentially make it a crime to criticize or blaspheme Islam. What passed was apparently a "watered down" version which restricts "threatening" comments designed to incite others against a religious group. I suppose referring to Islam as a delusion responsible for violence and terrorism would ostensibly qualify as an illegal comment if made in public.

    Islam is a presence in Europe that uses violence to influence both Muslims and non-Muslims. In France, radical Islam is being blamed for violence in hospitals –physicians have been assaulted by men for "touching" Muslim women during the course of examinations and Muslim men are demanding "virginity certificates" for young girls. Muslims are also attacking the police in Muslim neighborhoods with stones and Molotov cocktails. For his efforts in documenting the nature of Muslim violence against Muslim women, Theo Van Gogh paid with his life. Upon completion of the 10 minute film, Van Gogh received death threats. On Nov. 2, 2004, the threats were carried out by a Muslim, deluded by superstitions of jihad and his holy duty to his god. In 2006, riots broke out across the Muslim world in response to cartoons depicting Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper. People died. Over cartoons. In an effort to appease Muslims, much has been done by non-Muslims in the West to present an air of tolerance, which is just what Muslims want. Tolerance is a step towards acceptance. Once Islam becomes as accepted as any other religious superstition, there would be less opposition to conversion. And in the largely secular Europe, Islam might well fill a void and experience little real opposition compared to that in the United States.

    But it's interesting to note that the very non-Muslims (theists and atheists alike) who called for "respect" and "tolerance" for Islam in the wake of the cartoon riots had little to say about the riots that ensued. Didn't they notice that this "religion of peace" was both threatening and carrying out violence, primarily because some of the cartoons they objected to depicted Islam as violent? The irony is deep.

    Islam expects tolerance for their delusions. The Koran dictates that those unbelievers that accept them can live, particularly if they convert. Those that refuse to accept them must die.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    The Historicity of Jesus: the Making of a Myth

    So often I see it written on blogs or internet communities where the historicity of Jesus is being discussed where the Christian apologist will respond to those skeptical of a historical Jesus by reminding them that very little evidence exists to support the historicity of figures like Socrates, Alexander the Great, etc. While this may be true for the former, it is a bit less realistic a statement for the former. Nonetheless, the difference lies in the fact that neither of these figures has supernatural claims surrounding him to which millions of people are expected to behave in a certain manner in support of. Nor does my belief about life or the universe depend on either of these two actually existing in history. So the argument amounts to nothing more than a straw man, but it is a straw man that I see many atheists and non-believers get stuck on when they debate the historicity of Jesus with this would-be messiah’s apologists.

    Historians don’t use the “empirical evidences” of chemists and physicists, but they do make predictions based upon the evidence they actually obtain. Evidence for historical figures and events comes in the forms of primary and secondary evidence. The written artifacts of the subject constitute primary evidence: bills of laden, manifests, deeds to property, signed orders, correspondence, etc. Secondary evidence comes in the form of documents written in an era after the subject’s period, usually written about the subject, describing his deeds, actions, or ideas about the world.

    With regard to historical figures like George Washington, there exist many primary documents that conform to the period contemporary to the man. Occasionally, a forged document emerges (documents related to George Washington are valuable, after all) and is detected by some inconsistence when compared with other documents. Or, in the case of a document I recall being discussed once, the forger used the wrong ink, which when empirically analyzed, showed to be of a 20th century variety.

    What exists with the Jesus account amounts to only secondary evidence. The only sources we have to say that Jesus existed in history are the Synaptic Gospels and a few apocrypha. Each of which offer conflicting accounts in some cases or appear to be derived from a single source in others. None of Jesus’ personal correspondences exist; not a single account of his life exists that was written while he was alleged to exist; not a single artifact is produced that can be empirically linked to Jesus; etc.

    Apologists for the Jesus myth will often respond with, “what artifact would be good enough?” A blood-soaked piece of wood that tests to only have 23 chromosomes comes to mind, but, realistically, I’m reminded that many historical figures contemporary to Jesus or before are accompanied by artifacts that are in their name: effigies, murals, tapestries, sculptures, trinkets, jewelry, songs, poems, stories, cities and streets named after them, and so on. Jesus Christ has none of these things that were created during his life or even just after. It isn’t until about 50 – 70 years after he was alleged to have been executed that the newly emergent Christian cult created documents detailing the life of this person.

    If Jesus Christ did not exist, we would expect to see only post-mortem accounts of his life. We would expect to see the creators of this mythical character use existing mythology to flesh out the character they’re creating. We would expect to see a borrowing of text, as was common for the day, from existing religious texts to create the new myth. We would expect to see mistakes in things like geography and contradictions between authors of the new mythical character if they weren’t collaborating close enough –or if they were competing with one another! We would also expect the Jesus myth to conform to the hero archetype as well.
    And you know what, we see all these things.

    Existing Mythology and Borrowing of Text

    In Daniel 7:13, we find, “[a]s I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.” In Mark 13:26, we see, “[t]hen they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.”

    This direct word-for-word borrowing of Old Testament text by gospel author is something that was done throughout Near Eastern cultures. Anyone who’s read in Near Eastern texts ranging from Gilgamesh to the Egyptian stories from the earliest writings to well after the alleged time of Jesus will see examples of this literary “borrowing.” One of the only time this literary practice of ancient texts is ignored is with Judeo-Christian and Islamic myths.

    As another example of so many, the crucifixion scene in Mark is clearly based on Psalm 22. The first lines of Psalm 22 read “my god, my god, why have you forsaken me?,” which is a lamentation song supposedly written by David. In Mark, Jesus quotes this as he “dies” on the cross. Those deluded by the spell of Christianity will cite this as “prophecy fulfillment,” even though this isn’t a “prophecy” at all. It’s a song. A song of lament and there is no indication in Psalms that this is any sort of prophecy. We are left to accept that either the alleged “son of God” lacked imagination or originality in this and dozens of other sayings and speeches.

    Indeed, the obvious explanation of so-called “prophecy-fulfillments” is that they are all* written by authors who were writing with these prophecies and sayings in mind.

    Geographical Problems

    In this section, I’m directly quoting the work of a skeptic in an internet community, and I’ve linked the passage at the end of this post. I won’t say that he’s 100% accurate in the information, but I did a quick look at the biblical passages in question as well as a map of the region and it looks like this gentleman is spot on.

    1. The author of Mark states that Jesus cast out demons from a man and into a couple thousand pigs while in Gerasa. The pigs then ran down a steep place and into the Sea of Galilee. Galilee is about 30 miles from Gerasa.

    2. Matthew's author changed the earlier Mark to Gadara, which is still 5 miles from the shore of Galilee. The earliest manuscripts are Mark, which state Gerasa. But even if it were Gadara and Mark's author was wrong (leaving one to wonder why we should trust "as gospel" the word of either since they cannot agree -one is obviously deluded), did Mark's author run to keep up with the pigs for 5 miles just to watch their fate?

    3. The author of Mark also wrote that Jesus traveled from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee, about 30-50 miles (depending on the route) in order to reach Sidon, which was back on the Mediterranean coast, yet another 40-50 miles! The wisest of wise men took a 70 mile journey, on foot, to reach his destination. Talk about taking the scenic route. A more likely explanation is that the gospel was invented by an author that was simply ignorant of Palestinian geography (in other words, had never been there; in other words, wasn't an 'apostle') and thought Sidon was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. [1]

    Inter-Gospel Contradictions

    The contradictory genealogies of Matthew and Luke are probably the first that come to mind for most. Even the most deeply deluded of Christian apologists seem to have difficulty reconciling this difference. Though I have seen one or two lame attempts, the worst of these being the excuse that one of the genealogies is actually that of Mary. There shouldn’t even be a genealogy of Joseph going back to David since he isn’t Jesus’ father… yet Paul writes in Romans 1:3 that Jesus was born of the seed of David. This is evidence of a bit of editing and footwork done by the early Christians who were reconciling OT prophecy to create their “messiah.” This bit gets written in to the Jesus mythology to help create the character and flesh out his part.

    But, speaking of Jesus’ birth, only Luke and Matthew seem aware of the fact that it is supposed to be a “virgin” birth (complete and utter nonsense to begin with). Luke and Matthew also disagree on the date that he was born. Luke has him born during the first census of Israel during the period in which Quirinius was governor of Syria. Matthew says he was born during the reign of Herod. Herod died in 4 BCE and the census took place between 6 and 7 CE. The authors of Matthew and Luke both agree on the *place* of Jesus’ birth, however, putting it at Bethlehem. Incidently, the author of Matthew seems to be quoting Micah (5:2) when he writes of it, more “borrowing” from the OT. Luke, on the other hand, has Joseph and Mary leave their home in Nazareth to go to Bethlehem for the birth for census purposes (which doesn’t make any logical sense, since Romans were interested in taxing people where they actually lived). The contradiction between Matthew and Luke is regarding their home, apparently Luke’s author thinks they lived in Nazareth before Jesus’ birth, whereas Matthew’s author says it was only after JC’s birth that they moved there because they were afraid to return to Judea.

    There are many, many other contradictions between these alleged “synoptic” gospels (such as who bought the field of blood, how the field got its name, how Judas died, trials of Jesus, his death, the alleged “resurrection,” etc.), enough that it is apparent that “synoptic” is the last adjective that should be applied to these fables.

    The Hero archetype.

    The modern mythical archetype is as follows:

    1. The hero usually suffers a great loss, which makes him set off on a quest.
    2. The hero generally has a mentor or helper who helps him on his quest.
    3. The hero must face a set of trials, which allow him to overcome "evil".
    4. The hero narrowly escapes death, usually more than once.
    5. The hero escapes the "evil villain's" stronghold or destroys him.
    6. The hero is then reintegrated into society with a new status, wealth, or marriage to the princess.
    7. There has to be a happy ending.

    Such modern heroes include Luke Skywalker, Superman, Batman, etc. But the hero archetype is nothing new to storytellers. Joseph Campbell outlined the “hero’s journey” in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces [2] and noted that this journey is shared by mythical heroes throughout history:

    1. A call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline
    2. A road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails
      Achieving the goal or "boon," which often results in important self-knowledge
    3. A return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail
    4. Application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained, can be used to improve the world

    To quote Campbell, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

    So why “Jesus Christ?”

    The theology the group of believers that became Catholics held that a new covenant could only be made with a blood sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus had to exist and real, actual blood had to be spilled in order to form a new covenant. Catholics, the folks that voted on what texts were going to be “biblical” and which were not, voted in a new covenant along with the New Testament texts added to the earlier Judaic texts like the Torah. A new covenant exists. Therefore, Jesus existed. All very circular.

    But why the name “Jesus” and not “Yeshua: as it is written in Hebrew. And why “Christ?” Yeshua, meaning “god saves” already existed and was very prominent in the newly voted on Bible. He’s better known as Joshua, the mass-murderer who is alleged to have committed genocide on Canaanites and other innocent people of the land he and his band of terrorists wanted to take. Of course, biblical mythology paints his deeds as acts of heroism (one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist), but rest assured, this hero is quoted directly in biblical mythology as having “devoted the city [Jericho] to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys (Joshua 6:21).” That is, every living thing *except* his favorite prostitute.

    So the Catholic editors of their newly voted on biblical texts saw fit to change the name ever so slightly. Jesus, was also among the most common names of the time. And, since “christ” is from the Greek khristós, meaning “anointed one,” the functional equivalent of “messiah,” we are left with an “everyman name.” He might well have been named *Joe Messiah* if the story were to have unfolded in 20th century Ohio instead of the Iron Age.

    References and Related Posts

  • [1]
  • SkinWalker. Bible Contradictions. Post #2 [http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=1328853&postcount=2], 2007

  • [2]
  • Campbell, Joseph. The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949.

  • Related Post:
  • Scientific Study of Religion