Thursday, May 16, 2013
One of the most common refrains of religious apologists is "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." In other words, the fact that we have no evidence of God's existence has absolutely no bearing on whether he exists. This is simply not true. The reverse can be demonstrated mathematically, as outlined in the following video:
What is true is that absence of evidence is not conclusive proof that something doesn't exist. However, any rational person knows that it is impossible to prove the negative. Religious apologists submit this as a straw man argument that no atheist to my knowledge has ever made.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
From the dramatic soundtrack to the youthful protagonists' militant rhetoric, this new video on the "problem" of anti-Christian bullying is arguably intense.
The clip, produced by Idaho-based group Reach America, features teens saying they will build "an army" commanded by Christ.
I can't imagine who I would rather have host the Cosmos sequel than Neil deGrasse Tyson! I met him at the Amazing Meeting a few years ago, and all I can say is that he is a class act! Neil was my atheist hero of the week last May, which reminds me that this blog is now over a year old! I let the anniversary pass with no fanfare.
Click here to read more about the Cosmos sequel
Monday, May 6, 2013
What this article doesn't emphasize is that the "conservative culture" in which Elizabeth Smart was raised (i.e., Mormon Utah) continues train girls to believe that they are the gatekeepers of the moral purity of men, and that failure to rebuff a man's advances will make her unacceptable as a future wife to a "good" Mormon man.
Elizabeth Smart became a household name after she was kidnapped from her home in Salt Lake City, UT at the age of 14 and held in captivity for nine months. She was forced into a polygamous marriage, tethered to a metal cable, and raped daily until she was rescued from her captors nine months later. Smart was recovered while she and her kidnappers were walking down a suburban street, leading many Americans who followed her story on the national news to wonder:Why didn’t she just run away as soon as she was brought outside?
Speaking to an audience at Johns Hopkins about issues of human trafficking and sexual violence, Smart recently offered an answer to that question. She explained that some human trafficking victims don’t run away because they feel worthless after being raped, particularly if they have been raised in conservative cultures that push abstinence-only education and emphasize sexual purity:
UPDATE: This article from Fox13 quotes Smart as follows:
“I remember in school one time I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence and she said, ‘Imagine you’re a stick of gum and when you engage in sex, that’s like being chewed. And then if you do that lots of times, you’re going to be become an old piece of gum and who’s going to want you after that'"She is being a little disingenuous, because I'm almost positive that she did not learn this lesson in school. The "chewed gum" and "licked cupcake" object lessons are staples of the LDS Young Women's program. My own daughter, who is only 10 years old, has already heard them more than once. The basic message is that a woman's chastity is her greatest asset, and once it is gone, no good LDS man will want to marry her. This is one of the most disgusting teachings of the LDS Church, and it can't hide behind local leaders and say that it isn't doctrine. It could easily send a letter to all LDS bishops and and stamp out the practice, but it doesn't. The Church is so hung up on the "immorality" of premarital sex that it does not want to give up any of the ammunition in its arsenal, be it public shaming or using pregnancy as a deterrent by opposing education about contraceptives.
Here is another interesting article on Elizabeth Smart and the psychology of the Christian purity culture.
Why is the Christian purity culture so toxic and shaming? Where does the feeling of "damaged goods" come from? Why do females carry the weight of this experience more than males?
And what might we do to change all this?
The answers have to do with the psychology of purity.
At root, purity is a food-attribution system, a suite of psychological processes that help us make judgments about whether or not it is safe or healthy to eat something.
One aspect of purity psychology is how we make contamination appraisals. The psychologist Paul Rozin has been a pioneer in naming and describing these appraisals. And one of these appraisals is the judgment of permanence.
The point is, we treat sexual sins and the loss of virginity very differently from other sins, as a class of sin unto itself. And how do we make that happen? We accomplish this by framing these sins almost exclusively with purity metaphors. And in doing so we recruit a psychological system built upon a food-aversion system, a system driven by disgust, revulsion, and nausea. But instead of directing these feelings toward food we are now directing the feelings of disgust, revulsion and nausea toward human beings. More, we teach our children to internalize and direct these feelings toward themselves.The answer is simple. The idea of sexual "sin" (and indeed sin in general) is useless and destructive. Stamping out the religious virus takes time, but many European countries are well on their way of doing just that. Perhaps it will take a century for the United States to catch up, but catch up it will. Eventually, a civilization will emerge that does not purport to use the ravings of bronze-age goat herders as a moral framework, any more than it relies on their long discarded ideas about astronomy or physics.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Scary news from the science front:
Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas really does not understand science. Not scientific method, not scientific theories or laws, none of it. Which is why he submitted a bill draft titled the “High Quality Research Act” which would in effect add a politician into scientific studies.
The bill says that any research done using federal funds (which is the majority of research done in the United States) must have its results and finding approved by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives. If the findings are not agreed to, the research is taken from the researchers and disposed of by Congress as it sees fit.
Congressman Smith has already landed himself in scientific hot water over his April 25th Letter to the National Science Foundation where he demanded that the NSF conduct an investigaton into five research programs which contradict policies his donors want passed. This is what was expected when the noted anti-science Texan was appointed to the Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Iowa's Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the state's health department must include the names of both same-sex spouses as parents on a child's birth certificate.
The ruling stems from a challenge brought by Heather and Melissa Gartner of Des Moines, following the Iowa Department of Public Health's refusal in 2009 to list Heather as a parent on their daughter's birth certificate.
The couple was married that same year, after Iowa legalized same-sex marriage.
Justice David Wiggins, who authored the opinion of the court, said the state had an interest in "the accuracy of birth certificates, the efficiency and effectiveness of government administration, and the determination of paternity."
Wiggins wrote that it was important "to recognize that married lesbian couples who have children enjoy the same benefits and burdens as married opposite-sex couples who have children."
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
From the Skeptical Libertarian Blog:
Let this serve as a warning to the libertarian and Christian homeschooling communities: Gary North, the man who is writing and publishing the “Ron Paul Curriculum,” is certifiably nuts. North subscribes to an ultra-ultra-fundamentalist religious ideology called “Christian Reconstructionism,” which aspires to establish a global Christian theocracy and reinstitute all of Old Testament law. I am not exaggerating.
After using homeschooling and Christian schools to indoctrinate an army of fundamentalists ready to abolish secular government, what sort of state does North advocate putting in its place? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Taliban have probably come closest to North’s ideal Christian government. Walter Olson summarized people who can expect to die under the Reconstructionist regime:
Frak! I won't be able to point to Zeus again as a god that nobody worships. I wonder if these people really believe in the Church of the 12 Gods, or if it is a publicity stunt like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Maybe they are simply fans of Battlestar Galactica. In any case, if the Greek government does allow them to resurrect their rituals, I wonder if they will include the Dionysian mysteries. That would be interesting to watch!
After successfully staging a landmark ceremony at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, their leader pledged to fight for the right to conduct baptisms, marriages, and funerals according to the rites of the ancient religion.
"We are a legitimate religion. But the authorities don't let us do this, but we shall claim this right through the European Union," said Doretta Peppa, the high priestess, who led the prayers next to the 15 remaining columns of the temple.
The move is bound to aggravate the highly conservative Greek Orthodox church, which strongly disapproves of what it regards as paganism.
"They are a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past," said Father Efstathios Kollas, the President of Greek Clergymen.
Hundreds of followers of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Artemis, Aphrodite and Hermes stood in a circle, a mile from the Acropolis, in what was the first official religious service allowed in the grounds of an Ancient Greek temple.
Previous rites have been performed covertly, but the culture ministry was obliged to grant permission for the event after a court last year legitimised the religion, which was eclipsed 1600 years ago by Christianity.
"I feel very emotional," said Ms Peppa, a writer. "We have been persecuted for 16-and-a-half centuries but now we are here. This is our human right. And we shall carry on worshipping at our temples. They have now been put to proper use.
"This is as important to us, as prayers are for Muslims, Christians or Hindus," said Apollonius, a former taverna owner from Melbourne, Australia.
He abandoned the Church for the 12 Gods, because 'they make me feel whole, they make me feel part of the universe."Link
I normally don't post news about crazy people, except when they band together and call themselves a religion, which is apparently the case here. What's sad is that the mother was a member of the cult and knew her child was going to be killed. While I initially questioned how a mother could do such a thing, I immediately recalled that this was the work of the religion virus and was surprised no longer.
Chilean police are searching for three people accused of burning a baby alive in a doomsday ritual.
Police began searching for the suspects on Friday in the southern region of Araucania.
Officials say the 3-day-old baby was thrown onto a bonfire in November because the leader of the sect believed that the child was the antichrist.
Police arrested four other members of the sect Thursday after a months-long investigation. Among them was the baby's mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra.
In her written court statement, she said that all sect members knew that her child "would be murdered" and that they had to obey the leader because he "was God."
The ringleader is 36-year-old Ramon Gustavo Castillo. Police say he escaped to Peru and authorities are working with Interpol to capture him.Link
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
For anyone who regularly uses Facebook you’ve probably seen a plethora of offensive content, maybe even reported some of it, which Facebook never removes.
That being said, could someone please explain to me what Facebook found so offensive about this image that they removed it?
As detailed in my post What would Jesus do with $5 billion, I'm appalled by the LDS Church's misplaced priorities.
As noted in my post titled Atheists - the most hated minority, we still have a long road before atheists and secular humanists are accepted in American society. This action by the Icelandic parliament is a good first step toward changing cultural attitudes.
The Icelandic Parliament (Althing) this week passed a law which gives secular life stance organisations the right to apply for equal legal status with religions. The new law amends the current law about registered religious organisations. Thus, for the first time in Icelandic history, the government recognizes and guarantees equality between secular and religious life stances!
Sidmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, has been lobbying for such a change for more than ten years and celebrates this historic turning point. As soon as the law takes effect, Sidmennt will apply to the Ministry of the Interior for registration which will guarantee equal rights and freedom of conscience to its 300 members. Sidmennt is grateful to the Minister of the Interior, Ogmundur Jonasson, who introduced and championed this human rights bill and to all those members of Parliament who voted in favor of it.
An additional improvement provided by this law is that newborn babies will no longer automatically be registered into the religion of the mother, but rather according to the religious or life stance registration of both parents, and only if the registrations match. Sidmennt members and many other people in Iceland including many legislators feel that this does not go far enough and that it is a human rights violation for government to be involved at all in registering people's religious affiliation and is especially abnormal to register newborn babies in a religion. The sponsors of the new law say they want to work towards abolishing this anachronism but think it can only be done in stages.
Although this law is an important step towards equality, the government is not changing the privileged status of the Evangelical Lutheran State Church, which enjoys both legal and financial privileges over all other life stance organisations.Link