The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2004 February

Sacred Unions

February 28, 2004 | 17 Comments

As I noted here, the argument that marriage is a sacred institution established by God is has been only one that President Bush has offered in his crusade against gay marriage. John Darby of World Wide Rant offers a delightful refutation, noting, inter alia, that some of the heterosexual unions permitted by the Bible wouldn’t likely be defended by the President today.

The Real Reasons Why The Passion is an Immoral Movie

February 27, 2004 | 127 Comments

Virtually every review I’ve read of The Passion of the Christ tip-toes around the reasons why it is an unspeakably immoral movie, apparently out of a fear of offending Christians or appearing disrespectful to religion in general. So here are the real reasons the film is evil:

1. Suffering doesn’t prove that a person is moral or noble.
The primary goal of the film is to establish Christ’s greatness through his voluntary acceptance of horrible suffering and death. But a person’s moral worth cannot be gauged by the amount of suffering he has endured. Many Nazis, suicide bombers, and other evil people suffered horrible pain and died for their causes, but that did not make those causes great causes or their adherents great people. Similarly, the victims of the Nazis and suicide bombers were not made better people as a result of their suffering.

Furthermore, suffering does not add anything to the greatness of a person who is pursuing a good cause. Thus, even if Christ’s unoriginal message of love was a great one, the fact that he suffered for preaching it does not make the message any better. If anything, it demonstrates that the message has terrible consequences for anyone who advocates it.

2. An innocent person’s suffering doesn’t negate or mitigate the wrongdoing of others.
The notion that Christ died and suffered for the sins of others is a morally worthless one. If I whipped and then shot myself because Robert Blake killed his wife, my suffering and death would not make Robert Blake a better person, excuse his crime, or bring his victim back to life. Justice would be accomplished only if Blake himself was punished for his wrongdoing. Executing innocent people for the crimes of others is unjust, and the knowledge that someone else might be punished for one’s own crimes only encourages evil.

3. The Passion unjustly accuses innocent people of wrongdoing they never committed.
Another theme of the Passion is that Christ need to die because all of mankind is sinful. Even assuming (contrary to fact) that Christ’s death could erase sin, the notion that all people are bad is false. Little babies are innocent, and many people grow into adulthood without committing any serious wrongdoing. Whether a person is good or bad must be judged by their acts, not by a sweeping presumption that they are inherently bad due to their very nature.

4. The Passion promotes a theory of collective, hereditary liability for Christ’s death.
The Passion suggests that the Jews, the Romans, and ultimately all of humanity was responsible for Christ’s death. However, only the people directly involved in accusing and executing Christ were guilty. Most people born before and after Christ’s death had nothing to do with his death. They should not be made to share in the blame.

5. The Passion suggests that people will be cruelly tortured for harboring doubts about Christ’s divinity.
In the Passion, one of the thieves crucified with Christ has his eyes plucked out by a crow for suggesting to Christ that if he were really God he could spare them both from execution. Given the circumstances — that Christ was being executed and himself believed that he had been “forsaken”

Funny

February 27, 2004 | 67 Comments

Posed last night by Bill O’Reilly, in response to Andy Rooney’s statement to Don Imus that he wouldn’t pay $9 to see the Passion “just for a few laughs”:


What’s funny about the execution of Jesus?

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Be Discriminating

February 25, 2004 | 6 Comments

A demented, secularist, goat-fuckingly-liberal federal judge has today ruled that a state can actually discriminate against religion by refusing to grant scholarships for devotional religious studies. Okay, okay, it was actually Chief Justice Rehnquist. Nevertheless, the conservative judge’s decision has enraged a right-wing, theocratic commentator who believes that religion is entitled to unlimited government funding. Okay, okay, it was actually goatfuckingly- libertarian professor Eugene Volokh.

Rehnquist is right for the wrong reasons. His 7-2 majority ruling found that there wasn’t “anything that suggests animus towards religion” in a state constitutional provision that declared that “no public money . . . shall be . . . applied to any religious . . . instruction.” Plainly, withholding money from religious, but not secular instruction discriminates against religion. The decision quite nearly acknowledges this, noting that “the State’s disfavor of religion (if it can be called that) is of a far milder kind” [than the disfavor shown by a statute the court earlier ruled unconstitutional for forbidding ritual animal sacrifices].

Mild or not, it’s still disfavor — but as I noted here, “religion should be disfavored and discriminated against, for the very same reason that astrology and numerology and voodoo and every other form of superstition should be: they’re worthless, false, self-contradictory, meaningless junk.” Unfortunately, the decision still permits a state to fund theology degrees without violating the Establishment clause; all it holds is that a state can also constitutionally deny such funding if it so wishes without violating anybody’s “free exercise” rights.

Volokh, on the other hand, is wrong for the right reasons. He is, of course, correct in his analysis that the decision permits discrimination against religion. But he’s wrong that there’s anything wrong with such discrimination, since worthless, self-contradictory and incoherent programs do not deserve equal treatment. Note that he’s not merely arguing that the decision is legally wrong as a matter of Constitutional law (he views it as violating the Establishment Clause); he sees discrimination against religion to be morally wrong in a way that discrimination against any other ideology is not and proposes that a Constitutional amendment should be enacted to correct the error and protect religion (presumably the Religious Equality Amendment he previously suggested). I agree an amendment to correct the problem is in order — an amendment repealing the Free Exercise clause.

So once again, only The Raving Atheist is right for the right reasons. Why am I not a top-blogging Supreme Court Justice yet?

Note: In the course of his dissent, Justice Scalia offers some excellent ideas for future litigation:

Today’s holding is limited to training the clergy, but its logic is readily extendible, and there are plenty of directions to go. What next? Will we deny priests and nuns their prescription-drug benefits on the ground that taxpayers’ freedom of conscience forbids medicating the clergy at public expense? This may seem fanciful, but recall that France has proposed banning religious attire from schools, invoking interests in secularism no less benign than those the Court embraces today.

Christmas

February 25, 2004 | 9 Comments

Submitted by MadMan
:

If true secularism means indifference to religion, and if a country really has a separation of church and state, why should Christmas, a Christian religious day, be declared a national holiday?

“The Passion”: Educational, Entertaining Fun for the Whole Family

February 24, 2004 | 23 Comments

New York, New York, February 24, 2004
Movie Review — Special to The Raving Atheist

Known for his skillful and clever voice work in big-screen cartoons (Pocahontas, Chicken Run), Mel Gibson takes the director’s chair in The Passion of the Christ to create a winsome family classic that will delight all ages. Adding a magical crow to a familiar Bible story, the talented Australian actor delivers a delightful and uplifting moral tale about the importance of honesty, loyalty, trust and faith.

It’s 33 A.D. and the all-grown-up baby Jesus is traveling the countryside

God Squad Review LXXVII

February 23, 2004 | 14 Comments

Is God male or female? “C”, a Squad reader who has actually “talked to God all my life,” nevertheless still hasn’t a clue as to the almighty’s gender. “We know Jesus was a man, but does that make God a man . . . [d]o you think this emphasis on a male God arose because men wrote the Bible?” C asks. Ignoring the pointed question regarding the sex of Bible’s authors, the Squad claims it’s just a linguistic issue:

The problem is in the pronouns. Things we think about or write about or speak about need to be described in our language as he, she or it. But God is not a he or a she and definitely not an it.

* * *

When we write about God, we try not to use pronouns, to avoid the problem, although this can lead to awkward syntax. The important point is that our language is limited – but God is not. All people must realize that God is beyond all our language – but not beyond all our hearts.

However, the Squad notes the “additional issue” that Christ/God was a man and points out that “another part of the Trinity is ‘God the Father.'” Plus, “when Jews pray on Yom Kippur, they refer to God as ‘Our Father, Our King.'” On the other hand, they observe, “these same religious traditions have exalted Mary as the mother of God” and the “Jews speak of the feminine aspect of God, the Shekinah, as being constantly close to the Jewish people in the world.”

Given these latter concessions, the Squad’s original conclusion that “God is not a he or a she” completely crumbles. Plainly, the Christian God is All Man. It’s doesn’t matter that Mary was a woman, since there’s no claim that she is God. Nor is the claim that she’s God’s mother relevant, since having a mother, as all men do, doesn’t detract from one’s maleness. Moreover, God existed before Mary, and became “the Father” (if only his own) by impregnating her. Nothing about this is “beyond language”

O’Hair

February 23, 2004 | 2 Comments

Was Madalyn Murray O’Hair a man, a woman, both, or neither?

Mental Illness

February 20, 2004 | 11 Comments

From Able: (read linked essay)

Is religious fundamentalism indistinguishable from mental illness and can education and improved social conditions be used as a “vaccine”?

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Just in

February 19, 2004 | 140 Comments

This just in: Justin answers all your questions! And in closing, he settles that prickly debate over The Passion:

Jews deny that Jesus was the Messiah, this is their fualt and this to my understanding is the result for their damnation. THe Jews crucified Jesus. I hope that i have answered some of your questions, and i look forward to answering more logical open-minded questions.

So please be logical this time.

Hindu Scholar Blasts Gibson’s “Passion”

February 19, 2004 | 5 Comments

Calcutta, India, February 18, 2004
Special to The Raving Atheist

Writing for Newsweek, a Hindu scholar has criticized Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of The Christ” for being Biblically accurate, ahistorical, anti-semitic, non-Hindu and inconsistent with Vatican II.

“Though countless believers take it as the immutable word of God, Scripture is not always a faithful record of historical events; the Bible is the product of human authors who were writing in particular times and places with particular points to make and visions to advance,” writes Vishnu Narayanan in the February 16th issue of the popular news magazine. “So while the Gospel accounts of Christ’s resurrection from the dead to save all mankind are beyond doubt, their claim that the Jews were behind it was a mere fabrication born of their authors’ pathological Jew-hatred.”

Narayanan noted that all people, including Hindus, share the responsibility for Christ’s death and suggested that the entire population of the Earth should be persecuted through an unending cycle of pogroms and holocausts. Narayanan further declared that the Bible is actually a pack of fairy-tale lies and that the universe is fact ruled by 31 million gentle, peaceful, jealous and vindictive animal-headed Gods. Faulting Gibson for disregarding the Vedas, Narayanan observed that The Passion also ran afoul of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. “Gibson should embrace the recently-formulated doctrines of the mainstream Catholic Church that his ultra-traditionalist sect deliberately and explicitly rejects,” Narayanan said.

Open Mic

February 18, 2004 | 47 Comments

Why should I be the only one subjected to my reader mail? Time to inflict it upon you. Plus, this guy Justin has a massive intellect (see how quickly he disposes of evolution) and is begging for a soapbox. Post your questions for him in the comment section, or e-mail him at kajboyz@hotmail.com if you want God-talk in a more intimate setting. As a Christian, he’s bound to keep his promise to reply and give you all the information you need. Ask away!

Subj: God Does Exist!
Date: 2/17/2004 5:53:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: kajboyz@hotmail.com
To: ravingatheist@ravingatheist.com

I would like to point out that everyone who is visiting this site, and supports it, really needs some guidence and direction. There is more evidence then not to prove that there is a God. The Bible is comepletely accurate, and more scientist then ever before are moving to the notion of the presence of God and that God created this world, and humans. I think that everyone needs to realize this. There is no proof of evolution, so there goes that idea, so one can only assume that a higher power is out there. God does not want people to go to Hell. He loves everyone, and has a plan for your lives. I would like you to post a commentary which will allow people to ask questions, and i can reply and give people the information that they need to find a saving knowledge in Christ. Atheism is a cowardly way of not accepting resposibility for your actions. God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we may not be sentenced to eternal damnation but live eternally with Christ in Heaven. All we have to do is believe and accept Jesus as our saviour and invite him into our lives. I guarantee that it will change everyones life’s dramatically. Out of love and consideration for your souls, i bring information on the awsome gift that God has given to the world,! and that is the gift of Jesus Christ. Why deny the idea of a God who Loves the world so much that he gave his only begoteen son that who so ever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) And also when judgement day comes which it will, and it is coming soon, would you rather God say to you “Welcome Home My CHild” and eneter into the gates of Heaven and live eternally with THe Father and Creator, or would you rather “Depart from me you sinner for i never knew you” And spend an eternity burning in Hell. God does not want His creation to suffer, this is why you need to Find God. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life, and nobody comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6) Please don’t be close minded, and be accepting to this new found knowledge that God has provided for His people. The tears will flow when judgement day comes, when everyone realizes that they were wrong and that there is a God. HUmble yourselves to admiting what you already know is true, and accept the fact that there is a God, and accept Him as your personal saviour. Just Pray with me now “Dear God, Lord i come to you now, with a broken heart. Lord i am a sinner, and you sent your only Son to die on the Cross for my sins, to cleanse me oh God. Lord I humble mylsef before you now, and i ask that you forgive me of my sins, and enter into my life Lord, and be my saviour God. Lord I accpet you as my saviour, and i thank you for saving my Soul. In Jesus Name Amen. And hopefully you have prayed this prayer, and accepted God as your Saviour, and if you have i will see you in the Kingdom of God when He returns to take us Home. How awsome would it be if you changed your site to start sharing the word of God, and the love He has for all of us. Please feel free to email if you have any questions! God Loves us all (In Christ Jesus)

Justin

Pick and Choose

February 17, 2004 | 5 Comments

An argument based an appeal to authority is bad enough, but it’s made worse when the authority appealed to is the very one you’re trying to disprove. Citing the Bible to refute the Bible is the classic example. Responding to some black Boston clergy leaders who asserted that gay marriage wasn’t a civil rights issue because homosexuality “contradicts our understanding of Scripture,” Derrick Z. Jackson employs precisely this flawed tactic:

Funny, these ministers have conveniently forgotten the passage from Numbers, which says: “As for the assembly, there shall be for both you and the resident alien a single statute, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you and the alien who resides with you shall be alike before the Lord. You and the alien who reside with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance.” The Christian ministers have forgotten the words from Galatians that among the baptized, “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female.”

Funny, Jackson has conveniently forgotten the much clearer passages the Old and New Testaments which declare homosexuality an abomination punishable by death. There’s really no way around them, no way to parse the language in a manner that would make it permissible for gays to live, much less marry. Proponents of gay marriage who think it’s a wise strategy to play the game of Biblical interpretation in support of their cause are seriously deluded. Accusing the clergy of playing “a game of pick and choose,” as Jackson does, would be more convincing if he weren’t doing the exact same thing, except with a losing hand.

This is not to say that one can’t cite the Bible to undermine its authority or point out the hypocrisy of one’s opponents. As Jackson also notes, “it’s easy to find chapters of the Bible that are way out of step on the march toward equality,” and he alludes to the support for slavery and sexism in Ephesians. But having done so, it’s ridiculous to turn around and imply that divine will compels us to accept other, conflicting passages. And even those passages he picks define only the rights of the “baptized,” not the rights of the majority of unsaved heathen.

Married Hell

February 13, 2004 | 5 Comments

Should the state protect the sanctity of marriage by annulling unions in which the husband declares that his wife is probably going to Hell?

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Sneak Preview

February 13, 2004 | 11 Comments

Atheist blogger Austin Cline once accused me of opposing religious liberty, even though, as I explained, my objection is solely to the special privileges and exemptions afforded the religious under the Free Exercise clause. What the faithful say or do in the privacy of their houses of worship doesn’t concern me, unless they act upon it outside those doors in way that picks my pocket, interferes with my pleasure, or kills me. And while inside, they’re entitled to the same protections against intrusion as any other private organization. Thus, I’ve defended the Catholic Church’s right not to have its services disrupted by fornication in the pews.

I wonder what Cline’s own views are on this. He’s certainly offered a strange defense of the questionable tactics employed by the Anti-Defamation League’s in connection with its attacks on Mel Gibson’s upcoming crucifixion movie, The Passion. The ADL, which doesn’t approve of Gibson’s theology, stole a copy of the movie’s script last year so that it could assess its historical accuracy. And last week, ADL officials lied their way in to a private, invitation-only advance screening of the film, pretending to be affiliated with a fictitious Brooklyn “Church of Truth.” ADL President Abraham Foxman, who didn’t like Gibson’s policy of pre-screening the flick only to potential supporters, explained his conduct:

Foxman said he had no choice but to lie. “I am sorry we had to engage in stealth tactics, but only because he [Gibson] forced us to,” he told The Orlando Sentinel. Foxman told The New York Times he initially felt bad about sneaking in, but then changed his mind.

“I decided yesterday, ‘Why am I uncomfortable? Let him [Gibson] be uncomfortable.’ For him to say, ‘You can only see it if you love it’? I felt it was my moral duty to see it,” he said.

Amazingly, Cline labels this an “appropriate response,” calling Gibson’s privacy policy “ridiculous.” And this is Cline’s response to the screening’s sponsor, John Maxwell, who expressed “disappointment” at Foxman’s lying and deceit:

Well, maybe you should have allowed them to attend to allowed them to say whatever they want afterwards. Since you didn’t, you shouldn’t be surprised when people try to get around you and the draconian restrictions placed on the movie. What are you afraid of the public learning?

Gibson’s not afraid of the public learning anything; he’s releasing the movie in a couple of weeks. But it’s quite irrelevant whether he’s hiding anything or not. He has an absolute legal right to control the manner in which he spreads his nutty religious message, free from unlawful interference from equally nutty religious zealots like Foxman. And Gibson’s entitled to be “surprised” when people violate his property rights, regardless of their motivation. I’m curious to learn more about the ADL’s vendetta against the Jews for Jesus, but that doesn’t give me the right to pose as a temp secretary to get into their offices and rifle through their files.

Bigotry

February 11, 2004 | 62 Comments

“Does President Bush really want to be remembered as the guy who first used the Constitution to codify bigotry”? asks Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. Answers Professor Volokh:

No, I don’t think so; presumably Bush doesn’t see opposition to gay marriage as bigotry. “Bigotry” is generally the term we use for irrational or unfounded disapproval. Bush and other anti-gay-marriage forces presumably see their opposition to gay marriage as quite well-founded and morally proper, and thus not bigotry at all.

Because Bush’s sole objection to gay marriage is religious, his disapproval is “irrational” and “unfounded” and thus definitionally “bigotry.” If Bush thought that there were other rational and well-founded reasons for anti-gay discrimination, he would have articulated them by now instead of mumbling about the “sanctity” and “sacredness” of marriage. So it’s reasonable to ask, as Lithwick does, whether the President is proud to act irrationally. It’s a fairly common attitude among the religious — be guided by faith rather than fallible human reason, obeying only the commands of a God who is “beyond logic”.

But “bigotry” is not a nice word, so maybe Volokh’s point is that no one really wants to be branded with an unpleasant-sounding label even if it fits to a tee. But not wanting to be called a name which describes precisely what knows one is, is an entirely different matter than not believing the name to be an accurate description. Southern racists never presented rational arguments for their disapproval of integration or interracial marriage, and were appropriately called bigots. Maybe they didn’t like the word, but since they didn’t proffer arguments in support of their position it’s reasonable to assume that they knew that they were acting out of an irrational, unfounded animus.

Volokh also suggests that name-calling is self-righteous, an ineffective tactic which impresses only the already converted and “ignores the reality that lots of our fellow Americans . . . disagree on that point [on whether anti-gay laws are bigoted]. Again, I don’t know if it’s so much disagreement as dislike of the label, but in any event Volokh’s proposed solution is illogical. He proposes that there are “are actually arguments that deal with this reality of diverse attitudes” and that we “argue from a position that’s at least facially respectful of the other side’s views . . . and thus more likely to appeal to them.” However, the ultimate point of any argument is to prove convince the other side that their own position is irrational and unfounded, i.e., that they’re acting out of bigotry, so it’s not a significant change in strategy.

Moreover, when you’re dealing with a mindset which celebrates irrationality and blind faith, which declares that those who tolerate the abomination of homosexuality are hellbound, logical arguments carry very little weight (unless you’re arguing with a peculiar theist like Al Sharpton who believes the law should be used to pave the road to hell). And the one argument Volokh does cite — “an appeal[] to the rights of citizens of each state to decide what to do” — is procedural triviality which completely ignores the moral question at issue. The central issue is one of basic human rights, not some poly-sci squabble over whether the states or the federal government (or the legislature or the judiciary) is best suited to decide the question. No one today would argue that such abstract principles should govern whether racial minorities are to be accorded equality under the law, or that the “democratic process” or “majority rule” or federalism should dictate the grant of such rights. Moreover, those sorts of arguments would hardly persuade to the opponents of gay marriage; it would be impossible to convince them that the nature of the process is all that’s relevant in a discussion over the legalization of an abomination.

What, really lays that the heart of Volokh’s objection is that prejudice founded upon religion deserves a free pass, to be exempted from the usual moral opprobrium heaped upon people who hate and victimize others for no reason at all. They should be called exactly what they are — dirty fucking bigots

Sacred Institutions

February 10, 2004 | 29 Comments

Whenever someone starts out by talking about God and religion, and then proposes a law without providing any additional reasons in support of it, it’s reasonable to assume that religion is the sole motivating factor behind the legislation.

Why does President Bush’s want to ban gay marriage? This is what he said last week:

Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today’s decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.

Bush didn’t say was that homosexuals are responsible for the 50% heterosexual divorce rate, the explosion in the teenage birth rate, the general breakdown of the American family and the attendant increase in crime, drug use and welfare dependency. He didn’t say that homosexuals destroyed the 50-hour marriage of Britney Spears, or forced this married father of three to murder an eleven year old girl. Judging from what he has said

Superstition

February 10, 2004 | 8 Comments

Which religion comes closest to resembling pure superstition?

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Terror in the Skies

February 9, 2004 | 8 Comments

Personally, I would have just grabbed the barf bag, but . . .

Pilot urges passengers to discuss their religion

An American Airlines pilot asked Christians on his flight to identify themselves and suggested the non-Christians discuss the faith with them, the airline said.

American’s Flight 34 was headed from Los Angeles to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on Friday when the pilot asked Christians on board to raise their hands.

The pilot, whose name was not released, told the airline that he then suggested the other passengers use the flight time to talk to the Christians about their faith.

* * *

Passenger Amanda Nelligan told WCBS-TV of New York that the pilot called non-Christians “crazy” and that his comments “felt like a threat.” She said she and several others aboard were so worried they tried to call relatives on their cell phones before flight attendants assured them they were safe and that people on the ground had been notified about the pilot’s comments.

The pilot also told passengers he would be available for discussion at the end of the flight.

The pilot also said “Well, you have a choice: you can make this trip worthwhile, or you can sit back, read a book and watch the movie.” CNN interviewed a couple of other passengers here.

Interesting how the sort of innocuous Christian pablum that spews forth from the pulpit on a daily basis translates as a terroristic threat when broadcast over an airplane intercom system. I doubt the passengers would have feared for their lives, or the flight attendants would have much reassuring to do, if the pilot had merely suggested the passengers were crazy for selecting “Pirates of the Caribbean” over “Matrix Reloaded.”

And I can’t wait to see how Bill O’Reilly, with all his blabber about the scourge of “secularism” and the need to put religious voices back in the public square, spins this one.

God Squad Review LXXVI

February 9, 2004 | 6 Comments

Some atheist professor has obviously gotten his tentacles into this somewhat scatterbrained New York University student, who asks the Squad:

I feel confused and am wondering if there really is a God. What if this whole religion thing is a myth? What if there’s no proof of anything? When the terrorists kill in the name of God, it’s crazy.

I’m being told to believe this or that, and all I see is hypocrisy and control in organized religion.

In response, the Squad pulls a smart cop/dumb cop routine:

We’ve discussed your letter many times, and we have a difference of opinion to share with you. Tom believes you’ve raised important existential and theological issues. Marc believes that after freezing for the past several weeks in the deep freeze that is New York, all you need is a warm spring day and somebody to kiss you and tell you that you make the world shine, and you’ll forget every single question you just asked.

Marc’s approach points up an important difference between religion and science. A neurologist or physicist, faced with a difficult question about his discipline, would never suggest that the matter be forgotten with a kiss and a walk in the park. And Tom’s answer offers little more substance: he asserts that nature proves God’s existence, as set forth in the question-begging Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (They also again trot out Einstein’s alleged quote about a great symphony needing a conductor, a point I dealt with here)

But apparently terrorists are not a proper part of God’s creation, and as to the student’s query on that score the Squad cautions “that killing in God’s name is not the same as killing at God’s command.” How we’re to know the difference they don’t say, although I suppose when God actually commands it, it will involve killing other people’s innocent children out of vengeance, or one’s own child for no reason at all. The Squad later reminds us not to forget that “the same Christianity that produced the Inquisition and the Crusades also produced Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr.” — a point which I heartily agree should not be forgotten. The fact that it was the “same” Christianity in either case proves that it’s an unreliable guide to morality, and that the distinction between right and wrong must be sought outside of a mere appeal to Christian dogma.

Headscarves

February 9, 2004 | 8 Comments

Submitted by Ass Clown:

Is France right in banning displays of religious affiliation, and are symbols like headscarves too “religious”?

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Bright Idea

February 5, 2004 | 13 Comments

The proposed label of “Brights” for nonbelievers has been roundly criticized as smug and arrogant, the chief objection being that it insinuates that everyone else is dim. I agree, at minimum, that it’s bad P.R., and likely to be ineffective. But I think that part of the problem is that it merely insinuates, rather than simply laying all the cards out face up on the table.

That’s why I like the name coined for this new blog: Separation of State and Superstition. I’d love to see constitutional scholars and other legal commentators substitute that phrase for “church and state” at every opportunity. It would force the faithful to explain why religion isn’t superstition, and what precisely, the difference between the two is — a task, as I pointed out here, which is simply impossible. Even a believer who asserts that his own religion is the absolute truth (indeed, especially such a believer) has to concede that all other creeds are necessarily fairy tales. And then explain why, nonetheless, he opposes separation of state and superstition.

So let’s stop conducting the debate in the preferered language of the Godidiots. Strike the words “religion” and “faith” from your vocabulary and let the defenders of sky-god babytalk bear the burden of demonstrating why their ideas deserve more respect that the word “superstition” implies.

Restrictive Hiring

February 4, 2004 | 12 Comments

(See this story for background)


Should religious groups running community programs financed by federal grants be permitted to restrict employment to members of their own faith?

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Staten Island Ferry Accident Ruled “Unavoidable”

February 4, 2004 | 2 Comments

New York, New York, February 3, 2004
Special to The Raving Atheist

The Staten Island Ferry crash which killed 10 and injured 34 last October was “unavoidable,” according to a joint statement issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Coast Guard and the Department of Justice. In announcing an immediate halt to all investigations, the agencies noted that “all precautions were taken to prevent such an incident, but nothing could have been done . . . no amount of caution can prevent the inevitable.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed the decision to close inquiry into the accident. “Que ser

Wiccan Poetry Ruled Unconstitutional

February 3, 2004 | 15 Comments

Washington, D.C., February 3, 2004
Special to The Raving Atheist

Sentencing a convicted murderer to read Wiccan poetry at the Witchvox website violates the constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor held the psychological pain caused by the site’s cacophonous, ill-metered, pagan-themed verse is the “moral equivalent of torture.”

In a twenty-five page ruling, the high court noted that even requiring a prisoner to read the names of the poets raised serious Eighth Amendment concerns. “Subjecting an inmate to the knowledge that people have renamed themselves things like “Crystalline Spiritwalker,” “Hedgewytch” and “Draco Pendragon” could cause a form of emotional annoyance unacceptable in a civilized society,” wrote O’Connor. The court also directed officials to remove from the prison library any publication containing the poem “Black Ribbons and Bowls of Blood” by Cat Eyed Gypsy.

The inmate, Richard Kenton — who was convicted in 1998 of torturing, raping, and cannibalizing two six-year old girls — was reported to be “relieved” by the decision. Under the court’s ruling, Kenton’s sentence will be commuted to death by lethal injection .

Bush

February 3, 2004 | 25 Comments

From Eva:


Can an atheist vote for Bush in 2004 without betraying his/her atheism??

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The Right to Hell Party

February 2, 2004 | 11 Comments

The award for the least coherent theology of any presidential candidate goes, hands down, to The Reverend Al Sharpton:

My religion does not support homosexuality, but I do. I was asked why I was supporting and marching with the homosexuals in parades, when according to the church, homosexuality is a sin. I responded that God gave people free will. God gave people the right to choose — even to choose sin. That’s why there is a heaven and a hell. So I will fight for people to have the right to go to hell if that’s what they choose. I’m not here to judge. I was placed here to fight for justice for all people.

* * *

[I was] once asked . . . how I could support a woman’s right to choose abortion [Sharpton believes that life begins at conception]. I told him, “God didn’t say you have to go to heaven — he gave you the option of hell. I think you may go to hell, and I defend your right to get there.”

Presumably Sharpton, too, has the free will to choose whose rights he is going to support. How does he decide when he’s going to march with those pursuing their right to go to heaven, instead of hell?

Mecca

February 1, 2004 | 12 Comments

Nearly 250 Muslim worshippers died yesterday in a stampede at the annual devil-stoning ritual near Mecca. Another 14 died last year, 35 in 2001, and 180 in 1998. Do you care?

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