Framed!

A while back there was a bit of a brouhaha over how best to present science and/or atheism to the world. Atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens were said to be too “harsh” and “shrill” in their bold and confident assertions that religion was wrong. Advocates for atheism and/or science, it was said, needed to “frame” their arguments, to make them more appealing and less offensive for the average, religiously-minded layperson.

Well, some atheists took that advice to heart, and Dinesh D’Souza would like to give them the “thanks” they deserve.

The central argument of these scientific atheists is that modern science has refuted traditional religious conceptions of a divine creator.

But of late atheism seems to be losing its scientific confidence. One sign of this is the public advertisements that are appearing in billboards from London to Washington DC. Dawkins helped pay for a London campaign to put signs on city buses saying, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Humanist groups in America have launched a similar campaign in the nation’s capital. “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.” And in Colorado atheists are sporting billboards apparently inspired by John Lennon: “Imagine…no religion…”

There is no claim here that God fails to satisfy some criterion of scientific validation. We hear nothing about how evolution has undermined the traditional “argument from design.” There’s not even a whisper about how science is based on reason while Christianity is based on faith…

[A]theists seem to have given up the scientific card.

Congratulations, framers. You’ve made Christians much happier, now that they can claim you’ve conceded defeat in the scientific realm.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Science, Society, Unapologetics, Woodworking 101. 24 Comments »

3 excuses for homophobia

The Associated Press is reporting that Christians, and especially Christians in ethnic minority groups, are rushing to excuse their behavior with regards to the anti-gay Proposition 8 and similar measures.

“I do not consider (gays) to be a minority in legal and adjudicated terms, the same way people who only like to eat broccoli with butter aren’t a minority,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “We can’t categorize things according to behavior. It’s based on ethnicity, on who we are rather than what we do.”

Hmm, let’s try that again, shall we?

“I do not consider (Christians) to be a minority in legal and adjudicated terms, the same way people who only like to eat broccoli with butter aren’t a minority,” said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “We can’t categorize things according to behavior. It’s based on ethnicity, on who we are rather than what we do.”

Time for an amendment defining marriage as a union of two non-Christians?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Society. 5 Comments »

Praying for Obama

Chuck Colson believes that President-Elect Obama needs our prayers.

[T]he new President will surely need our prayers because he and his administration face huge, serious challenges to the health of our nation and to peace in the world—challenges that, in my opinion, neither he nor any government on earth will have the power to overcome without divine aid.

How has America come to this point? Why is our economy on the brink of disaster? Why is our culture so utterly depraved?

He forgot to add, “And why has it become this way after eight years of leadership by a conservative Christian administration and unprecedented Christian control over laws and constitutions at the state and local level?” But perhaps that question would have ended up being rhetorical.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Society, Unapologetics. 1 Comment »

Daylight Atheism: Advice to an Atheist

Ebonmuse recently posted a query from an atheist with a problem.

As part of my job, I am often expected to attend and participate in public meetings that are put on either by my employer or by community councils that are affiliated with it. My Canadian employer is considered to be a public organization and the council members are voted in by their respective communities. None are government bodies and none have any religious affiliation or mandate. However, most of these meetings begin and end with a Christian prayer for which all in attendance are asked to stand.

The atheist, not surprisingly, feels uncomfortable about being essentially coerced into assuming a prayer-like posture, as though he were also making superstitious appeals to an imaginary deity. At the same time, the social consequences of opposing the practice could be serious, especially in a small town. The writer asked for advice on what to do, and Ebonmuse turned it over to the commenters for suggestions. I’m a bit late in replying, but I’d like to toss in my tuppence worth.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Society. 5 Comments »

TIA Tuesday: Government is the root of all evil

Vox Day has an interesting strategy for dealing with hostile facts. Step one: make a pretense of agreeing with the truth, so as to give what follows an air of impartiality. Step two: introduce some kind of fallacious or erroneous quibble, so as to make it sound like you’re presenting the other side of the argument. And step three: pile on a huge stack of well-documented but irrelevant facts so as to make it sound like you’re proving your point. There’s no step four, because all that really matters is creating the impression that you’ve refuted step one, and if steps two and three  don’t do that for you, you’re probably dealing with someone who is unreasonably biased in favor of objective truth, and you shouldn’t waste your time trying to convince them.

We’re in the last section of Chapter 12 of TIA, in which Vox tries to deny the charge that Aztec human sacrifices is an example of religion leading to a needless loss of human life. Here he is giving us Step One of the three-step tactic.

If one looks at the history of the world, there are two facts which no reasonable man can deny: first, that people do bad things, and second, that religion has been central to people’s lives for as long as history has been recorded. The centrality of religion in past societies means that it has been a mechanism for an amount of these bad things people have done, which occasionally makes it appear that religion is the source of the evil behavior.

Despite the weasel-words (“occasionally makes it appear that religion is the source…”), this is a fair concession that religion and violence do go hand-in-hand at times, and that, far from being an irrelevant fantasy that has nothing to do with how people behave, religion is actually central to many people’s lives and how they live them. Halfway through the second sentence of this section, however, we’re already easing our way into Step Two.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Society, TIA. 6 Comments »

Should atheists build churches for atheism?

There’s an interesting discussion over at the NoGodBlog on the topic of “Nontheistic Churches.” Basically, the poster raises the question of whether or not atheists ought to build “churches” and hold weekly meetings, like the believers do. The goal would be to grant unbelievers the same social and legal benefits (e.g. tax exemptions) as theistic churches enjoy. Is this a compromise of atheistic principles, though?

The discussion in the comments is particularly interesting as different people weigh in with their perspectives.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Recommended Reading, Society. 8 Comments »

The greatest agnostics of all

Continuing to look at Chuck Colson’s reply to Russell Glasser, as we did yesterday, we find another contradiction in Colson’s article, this time about postmodernism and the existence of knowable truth.

You write that one of the main things motivating your atheism is the fact that you cannot see any compelling reason to believe in God, and you cannot regard faith as reliably as you can empirical evidence in discerning truth.  I suspect you’ve come under the influence of the fact-value distinction, which modernity introduced, largely influenced by the teachings of Immanuel Kant.  I would strongly recommend that you read Pope Benedict’s lecture at Regensburg…  In a relatively short speech, he summarized the great shift that has taken place in western thinking as a result of the Enlightenment and now postmodernism.  Benedict’s case is the same one I would make, and that is that reason always has to rest on faith.  That’s what gives it the objective standards to appeal to.  What happened in the Enlightenment and what we call modernity was the abandonment of the faith presuppositions, leaving reason naked, cold, and ultimately without a foundation.  It was this rejection of sterile reason that has led us to the postmodern era, which rejects both faith and reason.

But the fact-value distinction is false.  All thought begins with faith.  All intellectual inquiry begins with certain presuppositions.  These by necessity are made without evidence and have to be taken on faith.  The idea that evidence is superior to faith as a root to knowledge is one of those presuppositions: it is unproven and non-provable.  So it must be taken as a priori; that is, prior to experience, or in other words, on faith.

In his book, The Faith, Colson expands on this current evangelical fad of bashing postmodernism. Which is not, in itself, a bad thing. Postmodernism claims to have discovered the truth that there is no truth to discover. All that matters is what you believe about something. There is no right or wrong, there is only faith. But is Colson really saying that postmodernism is wrong, or is he advocating the postmodern idea that faith is all that matters?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Science, Society, Unapologetics. 33 Comments »

Leavitt’s Loophole

One of the problems with trying to mingle church and state is that religion often depends on emphasizing belief over real-world consistency, and that can lead to policies that not only fail to address real-world issues effectively, but ultimately conflict with religion itself. For example, the Bush-appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services wants to make it a law that medical professionals cannot be compelled to provide services that they find morally objectionable.

I have on two previous occasions written in my blog about the principle of health care provider conscience. Federal law is explicit and unwavering in protecting federally funded medical practitioners from being coerced into providing treatments they find morally objectionable…Today, HHS will file a rule in the Federal Register aimed at increasing compliance with existing federal laws protecting provider conscience. The proposed rule clarifies that non-discrimination rules apply to institutional health care providers as well as to individual employees working for recipients of certain funds from HHS. It requires recipients of certain HHS funds to certify their compliance with laws protecting provider conscience rights. The HHS Office for Civil Rights is designated as the entity to receive complaints of discrimination addressed by the statute or the proposed regulation.

Now, this sounds good to the Religious Right. All the code words are there: this is supposed to be a law designed to allow doctors to deny medical care to women seeking abortions, to gays and lesbians, and to whoever else might be contrary to conservative Christian approval. The problem is, this proposal opens the door to all kinds of abuses that might not be what the Christian supremacists want.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Politics, Society, TIA. 2 Comments »

The purpose of the court

This is actually a couple weeks old, but I wanted to comment on it. Chuck Colson is upset about a “problem” in our criminal justice system. And I might even agree that there are some serious problems with our court system, starting with the way Gitmo detainees are being denied habeus corpus. But that’s not the problem that has Colson all worked up. So what is the problem then? Well, you remember a while back when Janet Jackson suffered a “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl halftime show?

Jackson’s wardrobe is not the only thing that malfunctioned; so did the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Last Monday the court threw out a $550,000 fine the Federal Communications Commission assessed against CBS. The three-judge panel ruled that the FCC fine was “arbitrary” and “capricious.” Apparently, exposing oneself no longer qualifies as broadcast indecency.

That’s right: the proper function of our criminal justice system is to protect Americans from seeing other people nude. Or partially nude.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 3.86 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Current Events, Society. 5 Comments »

Why we’re not a Christian nation (and don’t want to be)

Via a blog named “Exposing Liberal Lies” comes this charming commentary on Tyson Foods and their decision to give their employees both Labor Day and a Muslim feast day as paid holidays:

This is America, a Judeo-Christian nation. Why should any employer accommodate the religious preferences of Muslims? Where is the call for separation of church and state in this situation? If these Muslims are not content with the American holidays that their employers offer, they are free to go back to whatever Muslim nation they came from. And you know what, we won’t miss them or their whining for Islamic religious rights or all their lawsuits.

If you were wondering why it’s important to stand up against Christian Supremacists and to fight for our First Amendment freedoms, this is why. All this nonsense about “respecting America’s historical heritage” and such, is just a smoke screen. The real, practical intent of making America a “Christian nation” is so that the power of government can be used to discriminate against those deemed to be non-Christians. Like Muslims, for instance. Or gays.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 3.50 out of 5)
Loading...Loading...
Posted in Current Events, Politics, Society. 16 Comments »