Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Highway in Texas: Mentioned in the Bible?

I mention this because fostering and promoting stupidity and ignorance is a grand evil in my mind. Apparently there is a small group of True Believers in the Midwest that thinks Interstate Highway I-35 is a highway mentioned in the Bible:
"A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness." -- Isaiah Chapter 35, Verse 8
Is it possible that this "highway" mentioned in Chapter 35 is actually Interstate 35 that runs through six U.S. states, from southern Texas to northern Minnesota?
Yeah, about as likely as a serial child molester and convicted fraud named Joseph Smith finding gold plates in upstate New York that recounted Christ's resurrection and ministry.
Some Christians have faith that is indeed the case. Some of the faithful believe that in order to fulfill the prophecy of I-35 being the "holy" highway, it needs some intensive prayer first.
Give me a break.

// Tuchman: Hitting the road (literally) with some faithful

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hitchens: Right to Reject Candidates for Religious Views

I only wish I could write as well as Christopher Hitchens. Check out this gem on why we have a right, as voters, to reject candidates for office based on their religious views:
What Article VI does not do, and was never intended to do, is deny me the right to say, as loudly as I may choose, that I will on no account vote for a smirking hick like Mike Huckabee, who is an unusually stupid primate but who does not have the elementary intelligence to recognize the fact that this is what he is. My right to say and believe that is already guaranteed to me by the First Amendment. And the right of Huckabee to win the election and fill the White House with morons like himself is unaffected by my expression of an opinion.
Isn't it amazing how self-pitying and self-aggrandizing the religious freaks in this country are? It's not enough that they can make straight-faced professions of "faith" at election times and impose their language on everything from the Pledge of Allegiance to the currency. It's not enough that they can claim tax exemption and even subsidy for anything "faith-based." It's that when they are even slightly criticized for their absurd opinions, they can squeal as if being martyred and act as if they are truly being persecuted.
// This is not a test (via Andrew Sullivan)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thoughts on Secularism from Andrew Sullivan

Although he's generally a bit too Catholic for my taste on matters religious, Andrew Sullivan wrote a nice piece today about the place of religion in public life:
"It may well be that support for a piece of social policy emerges from religious reasons. But in a secular society, it is vital that when making the argument for your position in public, you do not deploy arguments that depend on or invoke religiously-revealed truths. The essential civic discipline in a pluralist democracy is to translate your religious convictions into moral arguments - arguments that can persuade and engage people of all faiths or none. Only a few secularist extremists are saying that people's politics should not be informed in any way by religious faith (an impossibility in any case); most of us anti-Christianists are saying rather that political arguments should not be made on explicitly religious grounds, and political parties should not be allying themselves explicitly with one religion or another."
// The Right and Religion

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mormonism: Sex Among Gods

I discovered an amazing site today, the Mormonism Research Ministry, which serves to "challenge the claims of Mormonism". It reminds me of Operation Clambake, which serves to debunk that other loony cult Scientology.

Here's a great quote from a gem of an article from MRM that discusses the belief that Mormon Gods engage in endless celestial sex:
"Sex Among the Gods. Sex, which is indispensable on this earth for the perpetuation of the human race, is an eternal quality which has its equivalent everywhere. It is indestructible. The relationship between men and women is eternal and must continue eternally. In accordance with Gospel philosophy there are males and females in heaven. Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of Godhood. This simply carries onward the logic of things earthly, and conforms with the doctrine that whatever is on this earth is simply a representation of spiritual conditions of deeper meaning than we can here fathom." (John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology, 1915 1st ed., p.64)

// The Relationship Between Jesus and Lucifer in a Mormon Context (via Andrew Sullivan)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pope: "Gay Marriage an Obstacle to World Peace"

More insanity from the current bigot to hold the office of Pope.

In a statement released by the Vatican Tuesday (Dec. 11) Pope Benedict XVI said that, among other things, gay marriage is an "obstacle" to world peace.

// Pope Says Abortion, Gay Marriage Are 'Obstacles' to World Peace (via Andrew Sullivan)

Monday, December 10, 2007

New York Archdiocese: "Kids, don't be alone with your priest"

This is creepy on way too many levels. In a coloring book for altar boys titled "Being Friends, Being Safe, Being Catholic" published by the Archdiocese of New York, the Church addresses priest molestation by having an Angel tell a child not to be alone with his Priest!

Christopher Hitchens on Romney; Mormonism

Check out this great article discussing Romney's limp-on-substance speech on Mormonism by Christopher Hitchens, the author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, which I bought recently but unfortunately haven't yet gotten around to reading.
"According to the admittedly very contradictory scriptures of the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth warned his disciples and followers that they should expect to be ridiculed and mocked for their faith. After all, how likely was it that God had decided to reveal himself to only a few illiterate peasants in a barbarous backwater? Those who elected to believe this stuff were quite rightly told to expect a hard time, and the expression "fool for God" or "fool for Christ" has been with us ever since. That concept has some dignity and nobility. Entirely lacking in dignity or nobility (or average integrity) is the well-heeled son of a gold-plated church who wants to assume the pained look of martyrdom only when he is asked if he actually believes what he says. A long time ago, Romney took the decision to be a fool for Joseph Smith, a convicted fraud and serial practitioner of statutory rape who at times made war on the United States and whose cult has been made to amend itself several times in order to be considered American at all. We do not require pious lectures on the American founding from such a man, and we are still waiting for some straight answers from him."
// Read the article here on (via Andrew Sullivan)
// An earlier article with as much panache ("The Book of Mormon, when it is not "chloroform in print" as Mark Twain unkindly phrased it, is full of vicious ingenuity. From it you can learn of the ancient battle of Cumorah, which occurred at a site conveniently near Joseph Smith's home in upstate New York. In this legendary engagement, the Nephites, described as fair-skinned and "handsome," fought against the outcast Lamanites, whose punishment for turning away from God was to be afflicted with dark skin.")

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mormonism 'Demented, Ridiculous"; O'Donnell on The McLaughlin Group

I would highly recommend watching Larry O'Donnell's Mormonism rant on The McLaughlin Group this Sunday, December 9, 2007. He basically went nuts (rightly so, of course) on any of the panel's apologism for Mitt Romney's membership in such a completely insane recently-pro-slavery cult-cum-religion. Even though I usually find Larry's commentary on the uncomfortably doughy, emotional side of Eleanor Clift, this was a welcome refreshment to the ages of "any 'religion' is fine" appeasement in the mainstream media.


// See a summary of Larry's rant.
// See the actual video of his performance.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cartoon Explanation of Mormonism

Granted that it obviously has a slanted agenda and, well, it's a cartoon, there are a bunch of truths in this video about the secret teachings of the Mormon church. It's amazing the depths of delusion that people can go to when "inspired" by religion.

// via Andrew Sullivan

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Romney, Mormonism and the Absurdity of Religion

Matthew Yglesias wrote an excellent post that calls out Mitt Romney for his recent speech on his Mormon faith. He cited an poignant article from a 1959 issue of Time, which discussed Mormonism's explicit textual justification for racism:
Whatever they may do or leave undone about their Negro brethren, most U.S. churches hold that all men are equal before God. One notable exception: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Book of Mormon teaches that the colored races are descendants of the evil children of Laman and Lemuel, who impiously warred against the good children of Nephi and received their pigmented skin as punishment. Last week a Utah State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights drew on this Mormon scripture in a scathing report on the state of the tiny nonwhite minority in Utah.
Read the full post here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Soon on the Billboard Charts: "God Hates the World"

Nothing better than the ignorant among us casting judgment down upon us for our sins.

From "God Hates Fags" to "God Hates the World" (see the video below):

God Hates the World - Watch more free videos

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Update: Mohammad Teddy

Further to my note of a few days ago about the case of a woman in Sudan arrested for allowing her students to name a teddy bear Mohammad, she was convicted today and sentenced to 15 days in prison!

Sure, it's a great anecdotal example of the evil that religion hath wrought, but this is a sovereign nation jailing a foreign woman for a mistake in which she meant no malice whatsoever! It's disgusting and sad.

// Original Post
// 'Teddy' teacher jailed in Sudan

Monday, November 26, 2007

Idiocies of Islam - Arrested for Naming a Teddy Bear Muhammad

Add this to the Idiocies of Islam files. A woman was arrested in Sudan because her students named a Teddy Bear "Muhammad". It might actually be funny if a woman wasn't in jail in Sudan over this.
"A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Colleagues of Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, said she made an 'innocent mistake' by letting the six and seven-year-olds choose the name.

Ms Gibbons was arrested after several parents made complaints. The BBC has learned the charge could lead to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine."
Save us from the insanity.

// 'Muhammad' teddy teacher arrested -- The BBC (via Andrew Sullivan)

Quote of the Day

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."

-- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Embryonic Stem Cells

Few issues over the last few years have made me as upset as the religious right's incessant noisemaking campaign over embryonic stem cell research. Leaving aside a discussion of all of the suffering religion has caused in its attempts to stamp out abortion to another post, the various faith-based objections to stem cell research are even less convincing.

As to the political side of things, all of us are forced to live in a pluralistic secular society, which requires that certain moral judgments held by an overwhelming majority of the citizenry, such as with respect to murder and rape, are made into law. Unfortunately, this state of events all-too-often results in a variety of idiotic, antiquated moral judgments being made into repressive discriminatory laws (see, e.g. slavery, segregation and sodomy laws). There is, unfortunately, no way to avoid such mistakes in a system where power-hungry politicians are shielded from acting contrary to the Constitution by a majority vote of the unthinking masses. As Winston Churchill once said, "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

This failure of democracy, however, cannot be an excuse for the religiously inclined to constantly try to dominate our national dialogue with demands that their moral judgments du jour be enacted into law.

If my neighbor and a growing minority of people in my community believe that the most pressing threat to their children's religious purity is the presence of atheists teaching in elementary school, it is absolutely inappropriate for any sane person to give an attempt to pass a law in this regard anything more than a quiet laugh.

In the same vein, if a stout minority of zealots in our country decide that, based on their particular dogmatic religious ideology, the harvesting of cells from a fertilized embryo scheduled for routine destruction in order to do research into some of our most debilitating diseases is tantamount to murder, their attempt to ensconce their view into law should be equally laughworthy.

Our current Incompetent-in-Chief has set back the science of stem cell research and our growing preeminence in the world in the field of bioscience with his pathetic sop to the wide-eyed Christianists in our country who demanded that their particular view of stem cell research should be shoved down the throats of every other American who believes differently.

As to the moral side of things, it is hard to quantify the sum total of the suffering caused by religion's dogmatic intransigence on this issue. Here, I am including definite, indisputable instances of suffering rather than the suffering factor that certain zealots would ascribe to the killing of an embryo, which is only ultimately determinable if you give credence to their particular religious ideology. Once, and if, the future benefits of embryonic stem cell research are realized, this sum of suffering can be quantified by determining how much more quickly such benefits could have been realized by eliminating religious opposition; factored into the number of people suffering with or falling prey to the following example ailments during such time:
  • Paralysis
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Organ Failure
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Brain Injury

// Stem Cell Research: Religious Groups Weigh In
// Wikipedia: Stem Cell Controversy

Homosexuality: Are Christians On the Wrong Side of History?

In a word, YES.

Here's an interesting MP3 recording of an Albert Mohler radio program addressing the question of "America’s Debate over Homosexuality: Are Christians On the Wrong Side of History?" -- Read More

(In)Validity of Faith

Here's a good Nietzsche quote for the day:

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything."

-- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why the outspoken must remain so

"Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other's principles, nor experienced in each other's talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy...When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

–Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents 82-83 (1770) in: Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 1, p. 146 (Liberty Fund ed. 1999).

Enamored of Sam Harris

Although I read it over a year or two ago, I still consider The End of Faith by Sam Harris to be one of the most impressive books that I have read in the last ten or so years to address the evils of religion.

From his website:

"The End of Faith
provides a harrowing glimpse of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities. Harris argues that in the presence of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer expect to survive our religious differences indefinitely. Most controversially, he maintains that “moderation” in religion poses considerable dangers of its own: as the accommodation we have made to religious faith in our society now blinds us to the role that faith plays in perpetuating human conflict. While warning against the encroachment of organized religion into world politics, Harris draws on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and Eastern mysticism in an attempt to provide a truly modern foundation for our ethics and our search for spiritual experience."

"The End of Faith articulates the dangers and absurdities of organized religion so fiercely and so fearlessly that I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood… Harris writes what a sizable number of us think, but few are willing to say in contemporary America… This is an important book, on a topic that, for all its inherent difficulty and divisiveness, should not be shielded from the crucible of human reason."
Natalie Angier, The New York Times Book Review

You should also check out his more recent book, A Letter to a Christian Nation, which I bought a few weeks ago and I haven't yet had the time to read.

Another excellent example of Sam Harris' overwhelmingly powerful thesis appeared recently appeared in the form of an excellent web debate with political commentator Andrew Sullivan. I unfortunately am also a big fan of Andrew for a variety of his political commentary but, obviously, am seriously put off by his staunch, irrational defense of his particular pet religion, Catholicism.

Religion and Homosexuality

The true scope of religion's impact on the lives of homosexuals throughout history is difficult to measure. One needn't immediately jump to obvious examples of homosexuals dying at the hands of the religiously inspired in order to catalog their suffering. Look more closely and you will see a vast litany of subtle suffering foisted upon millions of homosexual lives throughout history.

Here is but a short list of the Subtle Evils that religion's general condemnation of homosexuality has inspired:
  • Suicide
  • Lifelong dissatisfaction with the life one is forced to lead
  • Loveless marriages and the pain they cause to opposite sex spouses and the children of such marriages
  • Brutality, both in the form of actual physical abuse and psychological torture
// Religious Views on Homosexuality: A Comparison Chart

Purposes for this endeavor

In a debate about the merits and demerits of religion, reasonable minds all too often resort to the same tired lines of argument. On the pro-religion side, we are regaled with stories of the feelings of caring, good works and fellowship that religion can inspire in people. On the anti-religion side, otherwise intelligent atheists are often left with the same tired repetition of examples such as the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, Islamic notions of jihad and other such readily identifiable evils that the pro-religion apologists can quickly discount as mere aberrations.

The thesis of this site is that the evils of religion as far more insidious than the large-scale, instantly newsworthy, easily discounted evils (my so-called "Grand Evils") with which we are all so familiar. In fact, the malevolent effects are far more widespread, insidious and damaging than the Grand Evils. It is through this site that I hope to catalog these myriad "Subtle Evils", which are responsible for such a large portion of humankind's suffering over the last several thousand years.