Wait, I thought he was supposed to be a deep thinker and theologian November 30, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Atheism, Morality, Religion.
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Pope Benedict, in an encyclical released on Friday, said atheism was responsible for some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” in history.
Okay, first, let’s go over this again, since so few people seem to get that: even if the above is true, it does not support the existence or non-existence of a supreme being. Second, was it atheism that was responsible for it, or, say, Totalitarian ideology and personal lust for power? Thirdly, if you somehow refuse to see the above problems, you could easily replace “atheism” with “Catholicism” in the above sentence.
Furthermore, it is common for religious folks to say “if I’m wrong, there is no harm, but if you are wrong you will burn in hell forever” or something similar. The second half of this claim has been thoroughly refuted for a long time, but in reading the encyclical, I can’t help but note what it reveals about the first half:
Ambrose had said: “Death is, then, no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvation.”
11. Whatever precisely Saint Ambrose may have meant by these words, it is true that to eliminate death or to postpone it more or less indefinitely would place the earth and humanity in an impossible situation, and even for the individual would bring no benefit.
So we shouldn’t want to live forever because we’ll have more fun in the afterlife. The logical extension of that argument–that the afterlife is better than the current life–is that those who live shorter lives are blessed. No wonder the Pope is so keen on all those “humans” who are conceived but never emplanted–they’re the winners of life’s lottery.
In a sane world, people who held such a position would never be taken seriously. What a dangerous thing, to postulate that life is toil and death the reward. If Ratzi is wrong, then he is falsely supporting a worldview which steals the joy of living through false hope in the afterlife. How very sad.
I could go on, but all the stuff about atheism is built on the strawman that atheists believe “reason and freedom” will necessarily bring about paradise on earth. Maybe Marx, in the days before Stalin’s purges and two World Wars, believed that, but if there’s any political view that seems to unify present-day atheists it is that any hope for a happy future rests in struggling for it today. Without God to make sure everything works out, we’d better do so ourselves. In truth it is Ratzi who places his hope in an idealistic future that must come: projecting that onto atheists does not an argument make.
Sweet God, we’re only 10% of the population: how can we be responsible for all your problems? November 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Politics, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
Melanie Phillips is convinced that the real problems in the U.K. are all about atheism, and those mean atheists who dare to disagree with her. This is really embarrassing stuff:
Oh God! Tony Blair has confessed to religious faith being “hugely important” to him during his tenure as Prime Minister.
The full force of the secular inquisition will not hesitate in pronouncing its anathema upon him for committing this heresy of religious belief.
Oh! Us evil secularists will totally burn him at the stake. Or maybe, just maybe, we’re used to our leaders espousing religious belief and are fully capable of disagreeing with them without wanting to torture confessions out of them. If Melanie Phillips can find one example of a prominent atheist who wants to make Blair anathema for this, I’ll eat my proverbial hat. Now, atheists and religious folks alike are happy to attack Blair for his disastrous policies–and a Christian does exactly that in the comments–but, unlike many religions leaders, I don’t see prominent atheists demanding the heads of those who disagree.
For as Mr Blair also admitted, he was previously unable to be open about this key element of his character because “Frankly, people do think you’re a nutter”.
Too right they do. Especially these days when people turn themselves into human bombs and blow countless innocents to bits in the expectation that they will be rewarded with 72 virgins in paradise.
Islamic terrorism and the demented beliefs that fuel it have given all religion a bad name.
We’re just a few sentences in, and already we see the Christian bogeymen of atheists and Muslims. Like Bush repeatedly mentioning Iraq and 9/11 in the same sentence, it seems she’s eager to conflate two groups who could not be in greater disagreement: secular atheists and religious fundamentalists.
And it just gets worse:
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Focus on the
Fetus Family has a helpful guide about why women should be forced to give birth. You’ve heard their arguments before, so I won’t go into detail on the whole thing. But I couldn’t pass up this gem:
To be human is identifiable by species (homo sapiens) and genetic code. Life, biologically speaking, begins at fertilization. We all began with the same raw materials: an egg and a sperm. We are fully human when these gametes unite at fertilization, as nothing else is added to us—only nourishment and time to grow.
Understand what’s being said. This is a supposedly “Christian” group that says what makes us human is our genetic code and nothing else. That undifferentiated lump of cells that can’t think, can’t react, can’t observe, and can’t feel pleasure or pain*–that lump of cells is human, according to the Focus folks. Never mind the staggering number of souls that must be clogging heaven due to failure to implant, and never mind that those “souls” never had a body or a brain or any experience–never had any of the things we identify with humanness, in other words–that lump of cells is totally deserving of more rights than the woman who is carrying it.
Humans are social creatures. We’ve evolved to crave one another’s company. We need each other, and our long childhoods require us to need complex family structures. And we have those long childhoods in part because of the way our brains evolved. We learn far more than instinct teaches us. In other words, we are much, much more than a mere collection of DNA. And I would be honestly surprised–biologists in my readership, please correct me if I’m wrong–to find scientists who think that humanity begins and ends with homo sapien DNA.
Yet for Focus on the Fetus, all those things, all of our experience and development that make us who we are–that is unimportant. What’s important is that our DNA somehow tells the soul that it’s supposed to hook us up.
And I’m told atheists have a cold, unfeeling view of the value of human life.
*And, for evangelicals, we should note that this also means that “human” fetus can’t sin or choose not to sin, can’t follow Jesus or oppose him, or anything else. It can’t do anything but multiply cells and grow, and it needs the mother to do that!
Porn–and this discussion is just getting started November 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in bigotry, Morality, porn, sex.
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(Side note: as I was typing the title above, I didn’t hit the “s” hard enough and almost wrote “getting tarted.” Make of that what you will.)
Today’s must-read is Courtney’s response to Robert Jensen’s Getting Off. I’m going to discuss some details below the fold, but first read the excellent piece, and consider taking in a few of the thoughtful comments.
A Dover trap about to snare another school board, plus a definition of fundamentalism November 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
A majority of Polk County School Board members say they support teaching intelligent design in addition to evolution in public schools.
Board members Tim Harris, Margaret Lofton and Hazel Sellers said they oppose proposed science standards for Florida schools that lists evolution and biological diversity as one of the “big ideas” that students need to know for a well-grounded science education.
Board member Kay Fields said last week she wants intelligent design, which is promoted by some Christian groups, taught in science classes in addition to evolution.
“If it ever comes to the board for a vote, I will vote against the teaching of evolution as part of the science curriculum,” Lofton said. “If (evolution) is taught, I would want to balance it with the fact that we may live in a universe created by a supreme being as well.”
As Ed Brayton points out, you’re not supposed to talk about that “supreme being.” Merely mentioning that ID is really about religion makes it easy for a judge to apply the Lemon test and rule against the school board.
Which brings me to my favorite nugget of unintentionally revealing commentary:
“It crosses the line with people who are Christians,” [Margaret] Lofton said. “Evolution is offensive to a lot of people.”
That’s right, Ms Lofton, reality isoffensive to many people. After all, what does one do when evidence conflicts with one’s beliefs? Well, people like the Polk County School Board majority try to defame the evidence.
H. L. Mencken famously defined “puritanism” as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy.” I’d chop off important body parts for a fraction of Mencken’s talent with observation and language, so it is with full knowledge of my inferiority that I respectfully submit the following definition for fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism: the steadfast defense of dogma against the threat posed by offensive reality.
If abortion is murder, why not charge women who seek one? November 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Politics, reproductive rights, wingnuts.
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After all, those who attempt to hire an assassin are complicit in the murder that is carried out. But as Amanda notes,
Anti-choicers correctly perceive that their raging misogyny is a strike against them, that their quivering hatred of women who don’t apologize for being daughters of Eve with actual sexualities and carbon-based bodies will tend to draw people short, since half of us are women (with sexualities, due to that humanity thing and all) and the other half still have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and friends that they don’t want to see being treated like criminals for the high crime of living your life, even with the dreaded sex in it. And in order to get the stench of misogyny off them, they came across a, um, brilliant? P.R. move: Instead of saying that women are evil, let’s just say women are stupid, that they have sex (and use contraception and have abortions) not because they really want to, but because they’re badgered by men, feminists, and doctors who make so much money off performing a procedure that technically goes on the books as running in the red and is, at places like Planned Parenthood, subsidized largely by more profitable endeavors like supplying contraception. (Not that PP ever runs in the black, since they are a non-profit and subsist not only on fees, but donations and government funding.)
There’s no question that, if abortion truly was murder, one would have to charge the woman carrying the fetus. After all, Sideshow Bob ‘s argument (“Attempted murder, now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry?”) aside, if anti-choicers argument against abortion is legitimate, than seeking out an abortion must be a crime.
But to admit that would never do, so instead we get highlights like this from the Republican youTube debate:
Partial transcript below the fold:
The next time journalists attack bloggers, slap ‘em with this piece November 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in News and politics, wingnuts.
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Some Barack Obama critics have made up a bunch of lies about him being a secret Muslim. The stories are bogus, and have been debunked repeatedly.
But that didn’t stop the Washington Post from running an inexplicable front-page story.
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a “Muslim plant” in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
Despite his “denials”? What about “despite reality“? The words “lie” and “deception” were conveniently left out of the lengthy piece.
This is what passes as journalism in this country: reporting opposing claims without any effort to detirmine the facts. Obama is not a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and that madrasa the piece mentions? A secular school where girls and boys play together at recess: sounds like a hotbed of fundamentalism to me!
Where is the shame among the MSM? There are verifiable facts: repeating baseless lies as “one side of the issue” is inexcusable.
What happens with the “Fourth Estate” becomes nothing but a mouthpiece for spin and lies? Oh, right.
In the “lesser of two evils” category November 29, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in News and politics, wingnuts.
If, like me, you’re feeling down about the frontrunners among the Democratic Presidential contenders, allow me to offer some small comfort. They might not be champions of progressive values, but at least they’re not these clowns:
WTF? November 28, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Blogging, sex, wingnuts.
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A couple of oddities recently. First, someone was refered to my blog from soulmatters.com, a website I’ve never heard of before but which apparently caters to the credulous. It’s author, who claims to be a psychotherapist, offers such “services” as past life regression, “soul path readings,” and “PyschoSynergetics©,” whatever the fuck that means.
For the life of me I can’t figure out how I was refered to from that site, or why any woo-pitching charlatan would want to link to me: surely it’s clear I’m not on their side.
In unrelated news, someone recently found my blog via the search string “the population in 50 years if gays marry.” It seems like they’d have been happier on Conservapedia, where no doubt they could scare up some “proof” that gay marriage is going to doom
white supremacy Western Civilization. But in case that’s not their point of view, I guess I should mention that gay people are already in committed relationships and that extending them the basic civil rights straight people enjoy isn’t going to cause our population to collapse.
Doctor refuses to provide birth control, makes what should be hyperbole into reality November 28, 2007Posted by Evil Bender in Morality, reproductive rights, wingnuts.
When I wrote about how destructive it would be if doctors followed the lead of pharmacists who refuse to prescribe medication, what I wrote should have been hyperbole. Surely, in a sane world, doctors would not refuse to provide medicine or service to a patient due to their moral judgements about that patient. Unfortunately, in the real world, moralistic assholes too often run the show:
Dr. Scott Ross, a Catholic family physician in Virginia, believes contraception interferes with God’s plan to breathe life into us, so he doesn’t prescribe birth control.
God Damn it. Refusing to prescribe medicine for non-medical reasons should put a doctor at risk of losing his or her right to practice. Aside from his desperation to punish sex through childbirth, surely the good Dr Ross knows that there are lots of reasons to be on the pill, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with enjoying sex and wanting to control when one gets pregnant.
Furthermore, as Ann notes:
I’m sure he sleeps well at night, completely unperturbed that he’s contributing to the number of unplanned pregnancies, and therefore the number of abortions.
If anti-choicers really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they’d be the first to advocate birth control. It’s worth repeating over and over again: opposition to birth control makes no sense if one is “pro life” but makes perfect sense if one really wants to control women’s bodies.