Darwin Bio Pic too Controversial for U.S.

14 09 2009

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The new film “Creation” has yet to find a distributor in the United States.

The Telegraph says:

However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.

Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as “a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder”. His “half-baked theory” directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to “atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering”, the site stated.

Wowzers.  Only 39% of Americans believe in evolution?  What is it about education that scares so many Americans?  Maybe it is just easier to believe whatever the book says – typical lazy American idiots.

I hope the movie gets released here because I want to see it.  I also hope it gets released here because that would show that at least one company isn’t too scared of the nut jobs to release a simple bio pic.





Dysfunction’s Role in Religion

28 08 2009

From Newsweek (believe it or not):

In brief, the number of American non-believers has doubled since 1990, a 2008 Pew survey found, and increased even more in some other advanced democracies. What’s curious is not so much the overall decline of belief (which has caused the Vatican to lament the de-Christianization of Europe) as the pattern. In a paper last month in the online journal Evolutionary Psychology, Gregory Paul finds that countries with the lowest rates of social dysfunction—based on 25 measures, including rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, unemployment, and poverty—have become the most secular. Those with the most dysfunction, such as Portugal and the U.S., are the most religious, as measured by self-professed belief, church attendance, habits of prayer, and the like.

What is also disturbing about this is that the US is considered a country with more dysfunction.





The Necessity of Cable News Quacks

18 08 2009

When one thinks of people like Glenn Beck, Keith Olberman, Bill O’Reily, and Rush Limbaugh, one often finds oneself wanting to stab ice picks in one’s ears. These people are commentators, not newsmen, but this distinction is not understood by a lot of people.

But let’s imagine a world in which these vitriolic opinionated ass-hats didn’t exist.  It would be a world of reporting only the facts.  “People gathered outside the capitol today and protested the legality of President Obama’s birth certificate.”  “Some republicans are upset about the death panels that would be created under the congress’ health care reform bill.”

The point is that there are some truly crazy people out there and perhaps it takes some crazy people to cover them.  I’ve seen the so called serious news cover these events and with only a few exceptions they are far more interested in not offending anyone that they don’t say anything at all.  They’re afraid that if they point out that there is no way that Obama isn’t a citizen they’ll be accused of being left wing and biased.  The right has embraced so many lies that it is impossible to report the truth without appearing to be leftist.

When we have actual US Congressmen (I’m looking at you, Michele Bachmann) who think that the census leads to internment camps, who receives huge amount of campaign donations from the insurance companies and proceeds to act as their puppet, who has consistently worked to incite violence against those who oppose her, who thinks CO2 is natural and therefore harmless to the environment, and who thinks  that we need to go through and purge the congress of all of those with what she has determined to be “anti-american” philosophies – why shouldn’t we have crazy people on tv talking about them?

Until we start electing serious people there will be no possibility of serious news.  This is not to say that there are not good news sources out there, and it is not to say that all cable news commentators were created equal.  But it is to say that the serious news should spend less time complaining about the so-called “fake” newsmen on cable news and start complaining more about the “fake” people who are deciding our fate.

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APA Can’t Treat the Gay Out of You!

6 08 2009

From the Huffington Post:

In a resolution adopted on a 125-to-4 vote by the APA’s governing council, and in a comprehensive report based on two years of research, the 150,000-member association put itself firmly on record in opposition of so-called “reparative therapy” which seeks to change sexual orientation.

No solid evidence exists that such change is likely, says the report, and some research suggests that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.

Some validation for something I could have told you years ago.  I heard a rumor that you can’t get the black out of people either.  What is this world coming to?





75% Believe Bible Literally True

4 08 2009

A recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters found that 75% of respondents in Arkansas and Alabama think the Bible is literally true.  West Virginia came in at 70% and Tennessee at 68%.

In Vermont and Massachusetts evidently only 22% are complete whack-jobs.

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I would like to think that these numbers only reflect the amount of people who regularly misuse (and therefore have forgotten the definition of) the word ‘literally’.  Maybe when asked if they think the Bible is literally true they thought it was being used in the same way as when I say I’m going to literally kill myself because so many Americans are sheep (and stupid sheep at that).

 





Stomp out Atheists in America

3 08 2009

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Alternative Medicine an Alternative to Effective

3 08 2009

Salon has a great piece about the somewhat more than sketchy health articles on the Huffington Post.

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I get a lot of news from the Huffington Post.  It is even my homepage on my computer.  But I’ve also learned never to venture into the “Living” section – as it is full of almost nothing but metaphysical homeopathic bullshit.

While I admit that the drug companies have too much pull over health-care in this country, I also know that they are not ones to turn down a profit.  The drug companies are not engaged in a conspiracy in which they convince the American people that only their drugs work for any given illness.  If drinking wormwood tea made cancer go away they wouldn’t try to cover it up, they would try to sell it.

I often hear people say we just need to give homeopathy a chance – that we are too biased to traditional western medicine.  What they don’t understand is that we did give alternative treatments a chance.  We gave all treatments a chance, and those that worked became medicine and those that didn’t became “alternative medicine”. 

The scientific method applies the same to western medicine as it applies to gravity or to the nature of matter.  Just because you want Aloe Vera Gel to cure your arthritis doesn’t mean it will.  Either accept everything that the scientific method gives us or accept none of it.  If you pick and choose than you undermine it’s very usefulness as a system.

The government is spending an increasing amount of money by investigating the legitimacy of so-called alternative medicine.  And so far all they’ve found is that they are simply an alternative to effective.  And yet they through more money down the well. 

Like the family that was recently held responsible for the death of their child (for not taking her to the hospital in lieu of prayer) people put themselves and others at risk when they turn away from western medicine.

Our culture’s growing appetite for natural and organic foods cannot be allowed to spread to far.  Soon there will be a movement against penicillin and the very plastic that makes the syringes that carry it.

Our intellects enable us to create things from other things – it is why we’re on the top of the food chain, it is what makes us human.  Homeopathy is a move away from progress, from evolution.  It is a move to simpler times, with simple remedies, simple sickness, and simple death.





Complex Theology of a Lutheran Minister

13 07 2009

I recently conducted an interview with an openly gay Lutheran minister. We discussed the philosophy of religion and specifically how he conceives of the divine. As part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, one would expect the pastor to stick to certain dogmatic truths – but what I found is that his conception of faith is much more fluid and malleable than I anticipated it to be.

The pastor began by saying that, “Lutherans, when we’re at our best self-understanding, say that Christianity isn’t a religion.” Here he is working off of the definition of religion being a means by which humanity phenomenologically manipulates the god or gods. God neither can be nor need be manipulated by humans to the Lutheran conception. While this is perhaps simply a semantic distinction, it does provide us with a hint as to how and why Lutheran faith works as it does.

God is “radical love, radical acceptance, radical good.” Like Demea in Hume’s Dialogues, the pastor does not think that God is something that we can know through empiricism. He believes that God exists because the story makes sense to him; belief in God is dependent on faith. He does not rely on Plato’s cosmological argument, Anselm’s ontological argument, or the argument from design (expressed so well by Hume). Beyond God’s existence our pastor doesn’t believe that one can even conceive of God’s nature through empiricism. God, and all that is God, is outside the realm of human understanding. The only way we can know God is through the person of Jesus Christ.

All of the pastor’s theology is based on the foundational belief that God is good. In epistemology there exists a notion of foundationalism which says that in order to know anything we must first accept a foundational belief – namely reason. But reason as a foundational belief is less problematic than ‘God is good’. One can, when pressed, express why it is acceptable and even preferable to use reason as a foundation. Reason, in a sense, finds itself reasonable – which while not the most perfect form of evidence does give us some understanding about the nature of reason. Blanket statements about God’s nature on the other hand require a leap of faith, so to speak. It simply does not have a basis in the same way in which rationalism has a basis. All we know is what we are capable of perceiving through our senses and so any statement that is not a product of our sensual stimuli is speculative at best. When asked where he gets his foundational beliefs the pastor replies, “Here’s where you end up going in a circle. I would say that that does come from the story. And where is the story in scripture? And so, one of the wonderful things to me about the whole Lutheran tradition is we say, ‘you know we do pick and choose’.” He continues to say that they “choose to give primacy to those things that are about the God who says, ‘I’d rather die than raise my hand in vengeance.’”

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Jesus personifies love and forgiveness – and those qualities then become the mold into which we pour the God of the Bible. All that is love and forgiveness becomes god and all that doesn’t fit in the mold we throw out. But which parts of the Bible do we accept and which do we reject? The pastor cites Luther and analogizes the Bible to the manger that held Christ. The Bible contains Christ in just that way. And like an actual manger the Bible contains, “shit and piss.” Morality is something that the pastor sees as distinct from faith. He says that the church’s business is forgiveness and that it is the state’s job to judge. The individual uses “informed conscience” to reason to a moral stance.

Morality is not a rigid, black and white system to the Lutherans. Mostly it is a business of picking the lesser of evils. The church, for instance, reasons that abortion is a bad thing. They also reason though that sometimes it is the lesser of evils – and therefore their position is one where they work to make abortions both rare and safe.

To say that judgment is not the place of a Christian church may seem antithetical to the modern conception of Christian belief. This Lutheran pastor however characterizes God’s attitude towards humanity this way: “Humanity is guilty as hell, but guess what, I’ve gone out of the judgment business . . . I’ve decided that everyone gets into My banquet.” This emphasizes the importance of natural morality because it essentially removes morality as motivation. If everyone is already forgiven than morality is not a prerequisite for entry into heaven.

On the question of evil the pastor gives a simple answer: “I don’t know”. He acknowledges that evil is present in the world (unlike Hume’s Demea), but does not blame God for said evil. He trusts that God is perfectly benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent. How that can be when there is evil in the world is something he chalks up to being beyond human understanding.

“Reason,” he says, “leads us to atheism.” He argues though that there are more ways of knowing than just through reason. Ultimately this is the point of divergence between the theist and the atheist. Epistemological foundationalism is a subject that is beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that it is a topic that is hotly debated.





Kiss-In

12 07 2009

Speaking of non-violent protests:  here’s the story of a kiss-in at a mormon church (after they detained a gay couple who had kissed on land owned by them).

check it out.





Christ gets Upstaged

27 06 2009

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Happy Pride 2009!





Christian Traditions

23 05 2009

My father died in 2007 and my brother has started going through some of the seemingly endless boxes that my father had had in storage.  Aside from showing me that he was not the straight A student he claimed to be, this report card from Valpo University sheds some light on other, darker subjects.  Perhaps the reason why I’m an atheist today is because my father evidently got a D in “Christian Traditions 3″.  Bravo old man, bravo.  This is the same man who signed off on my pledges to be a good christian in my cub scout book.

Despite this report card, I still love ya papa.





Pay-Day: Blackmail the Catholic Church

14 05 2009

The New York Timeshas an interesting article about former Archbishop Weakland of Milwaukee.  Evidently 20 years ago he had had an affair with a 30 year old man who then blackmailed the Catholic church for $450,000 – what they paid to keep him quiet.

He has a memoir coming out next month which promises to be a good insight into the corruption of the Church.

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The archbishop is also one of the first to actually come out of the closet.  He believes that the church’s teachings about women and homosexuals are misguided.  I hope he succeeds in his efforts to reform the church – for if there has to be a church, I’d rather it be a tolerant one.





National Day of Prayer

7 05 2009

Today is the National Day of Prayer- that glorious day where all pretenses of state keeping separate from religion are destroyed and we can all get together and do something we would all be doing anyway.

Unless of course you are non-religious – in which case this day is actually kind of offensive in the civil liberties violating kind of way.

Obama in a way is sweeping the day under the rug, but he is signing a proclamation.

I hope you will join me in celebrating this day by not praying.

 





Camping with Jesus

7 05 2009

So I’ll admit it – in 1990 I was a cub scout.  I recently stumbled upon my old ‘Wolf’ book and found something that I have no recolection of – the section about a cub scout’s duty to god:

Here is the Boy Scout of America website that details how and why they don’t let atheists be boyscouts.

More scans after the jump . . .

Read the rest of this entry »





21st Century Crusades

4 05 2009

American soldiers are distributing copies of the New Testament that they had printed in the native Afghan languages to the people of the country.  This is a direct violation of the US Constitution, Army rules, and the laws applying to troops in Afghanistan. 

And this footage was shot a year ago . . . so why hasn’t anything been done about it?  Sometimes it is easier and less controversial to just ignore a problem – that doesn’t mean that we should though.








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