In a column in The Raw Story, Melinda Barton argues that just as the right has a problem with “religious nutballs” on their extreme, so the left has a problem with “atheist whackjobs” on the extreme left. Sounds plausible to me, since every group and viewpoint has extremes. Plausible, that is, until I realize that her definition of “atheist whackjob” includes me. In fact, includes every atheist I ever met. The left needs to kick us out, she says. (All quotes of Barton are from her article, “The Left’s Own Religious Extremists”).
“Why face off with the atheist whackjobs? Because extremism is extremism is extremism. No rational movement dedicated to intellectual courage and honesty should maintain a relationship with those for whom intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and cowardice are a way of life. Doing what must be done to insure the integrity of the left will require identifying our extremists, countering their mythologies, and acknowledging the dangers they pose to a truly liberal society.”
“For whom intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and cowardice are a way of life” — ouch! Charitably, she goes on to explain that “not all atheists are atheist extremists,” though we will see presently that by her criteria it would appear that all atheists are.
Barton lists 5 “outrageous” claims made by atheist extremists. PZ Myers, a biologist who writes the blog Pharyngula, has already made an excellent point-by-point reply, however since my perspective is slightly different, I’m going to attempt to do the same. Continue reading
Intelligent Design advocates like to claim that evolution can’t explain the existence of “irreducible complexity” in humans and other species. But they would be much better served worrying about the far greater difficulty Intelligent Design faces: how to explain mistakes and flaws in the “design” of humans and their world — or to put it another way, how to explain “blunders” by the intelligent designer. (After all, the intelligent designer is God, and God is supposed to be infallible.)
The latest example of a design “oversight” in humans was reported yesterday by EurekAlert!. Researchers at the Univ. of Calif San Diego School of Medicine have discovered the existence of certain T-cell molecules called “Siglecs”, “immune-dampening proteins that bind to sialic acids” which Continue reading
Writing in Counterpunch, Rev.William Alberts says it’s time for people of faith — in particular the Methodist Church — to bring disciplinary action against the President, who happens to be a Methodist.
Rev. William Alberts: Time for People of Faith to Censure Bush
‘Resolving disputes peacefully was the first thing out of President Bush’s mouth and apparently the last thing on his mind. His pre-war public posture was that of a man of faith and peace. At his March 6, 2003 news conference, he said, “I pray daily. I pray for wisdom and guidance and strength. . . . I pray for peace. I pray for peace.” (The New York Times, Mar. 7, 2003) Two weeks later he ordered the bombing of the Iraqi people and the invasion of their country.’
Albert follows by impolitely bringing up the, ahem, public record as known so far. That records makes it clear that invading Iraq was on the agenda from day 1, and that the administration deliberately deceived the public in order to get their war. “I pray daily…for peace” indeed!
Alberts also pushes people of faith to call for Bush’s impeachment. But he overlooks one little detail. The one constant and dependable group these last 5 years, the segment of the American population that has steadfastly voted for, cheered on, and championed our current President, is none other than people of faith.
Perhaps what we should be asking is this: Why were people of faith so easily manipulated by the administration and shepherded along like, well, sheep?
Answer: that is what people of faith are good at — being sheep. And faith is the sheepdog that makes it possible.
It’s widely recognized that the greatest beneficiary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has been Iran. Just as clearly, the biggest beneficiary of a U. S. attack on Iran will be China.This is why the administration’s recent exhortation to China’s leader, Hue, to intervene in getting Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions is likely to be futile. Hue of course will want to create the appearance of trying to bring the Iranian leadership around, but it is not in China’s strategic interest for that to actually happen. Secretly, in fact, Hue must be hoping that the Bush administration will be foolish enough to attack Iran—preferably with tactical nukes—just as they were fooling enough to invade Iraq.
The consequences of a U. S. attack would be as positive for China as they would be negative for the United States. Continue reading
In the midst of all the controversy over allowing the state-owned Dubai Ports to manage seaports in the U.S., I never saw anyone mention that al-Qaida has infiltrated (and therefore compromised) the government of the United Arab Emirates.
Maybe I missed it. I heard all about money being funneled to terrorists through Dubai, about UAE bank secrecy rules making it difficult to trace that monetary flow, about terrorists traveling in and out of that country’s port.
But no where did I see it mentioned that al-Qaida has actually infiltrated various Dubai government agencies–and bragged about it. Yet documents taken from a captured computer which belonged to a high-ranking al-Qaida official confirm this. “You are well aware that we have infiltrated your security, censorship, and monetary agencies along with other agencies that should not be mentioned.” this official warned the emirates of Dubai and Abu-Dhabi.
What follows is the full text of the letter, which I found on a public government website. Continue reading
They even held a beauty contest to choose the Iraqi candidate for Miss Universe — shouldn’t that prove there’s no civil war going on? But here comes the big bad American media, focusing as usual on the bad news instead of the good. ABC News reports that the young woman who was proclaimed “Miss Iraq” had to give up her crown four days later because of death threats against her and her family. The family is now planning to flee Iraq. Undeterred, pageant officials offered her crown to the first runner-up, but she declined it. The 2nd runner-up withdrew from the beauty contest rather than risk accepting the crown. The 3rd runner up likewise withdrew. Pageant officials finally found a teenager — a Christian no less — brave enough or foolish enough to accept the crown.I’m sure the Administration will find a way to spin this positively while chiding the media for focusing on the negative, but it seems to me that a country where it is not safe to win even a beauty contest can only be described as in dire straits. At what point, if ever, will our President catch on that the God he relies on for guidance, the war-Jesus to whom he prays, exists only in his imagination?
The rebels killed her father when they raided her home in Liberia. She was held prisoner, beaten and raped, even forced to wash the clothing of the men who raped her. Fortunately she was able to escape after a few weeks and became a refugee. The UN determined that she is “particularly vulnerable to attack” in Liberia and recommended her for the US refugee resettlement program, which allows her to take refuge in the United States.
However, the Department of Homeland Security won’t let her in. Why? Because when she was forced to do the washing for rebels who had raped her and killed her father she was in effect providing “material support” to terrorists. By law, no one who has provided material support to terrorists can be allowed into the US. Under the Homeland Security’s interpretation of the law “it does not matter whether the support provided was given willingly or under duress”.*
Apparently this is not an isolated case. Continue reading
Touted as the largest scientific examination of prayer’s effect on hospital patients, the Templeton Foundation arranged for Christians to pray for 1800 heart patients and tracked the results. Prayer was not effective. According to CNN, “[t]he patients . . . were split into three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a possibility, and those who weren’t prayed for but were told it was a possibility.” Arrangements were made for 3 different Christian groups to pray “starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks”.
But the study was flawed. And it was flawed in a way which reveals the underlying absurdity of prayer itself. Continue reading
It’s not surprising that the issue of teaching evolution (or not — or countering it with intelligent design) keeps cropping up around the country.
For practical purposes, evolution is the dividing line between theism and atheism.
Evolution points the way to a naturalistic explanation for the design we see in the world around us. If evolution is false, a naturalistic explanation for design becomes extremely difficult to hold, so that for all practical purposes we can say that if evolution is false atheism is probably false. Conversely we can say that if evolution is true, then theism is probably false.
But that’s enough to make evolution into a continental divide. Continue reading
Two recent studies, one by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the other by the University of Minnesota, reveal a continuing lack of tolerance for atheists on the part of the American public. “American’s increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesn’t extend to those who don’t believe in a god,” the U of Minn. study authors conclude. Their survey found that atheists “are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public” and are “the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry”. Lead researcher Penny Edgell believes that “today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past”. The Pew Forum study, which focused primarily on American attitudes about Islam, reported that “Muslim-Americans are viewed much more favorably by the public than are atheists, about whom Americans express a particularly high level of discomfort.” Indeed, their study showed that while 25% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Muslims, a full 50% view atheists unfavorably.
Americans consider atheism a threat to their religious values and, according to the Minnesota study, respondents “associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.”