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December 17, 2007

Respect This Reality!

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It is better to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain. – Mark Twain

Religion is at its best when removed from power.

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A good review of Romney’s speech when he claimed to be defending religious freedom but only as long as you are a Christian.

The Crisis of Faith – New York Times

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The Stillborn God

September 25, 2007

A Salon.com book review of The Stillborn God.  This books covers the history of the separation of church and state and why the west has had this separation and the Muslim world has not and may not have the same separation. 

The books apparently tries to remind us why separation is needed and how easily we could fall back into the dark ages.  It also reminds us how bloody the reformation that lead to the enlightenment was and how bloody a comparable Muslim enlightenment would be.


A good review in the New York Times* about the past, present, and future of the seperation of church and state.  I would only emphasize that it is foolish to think that we are in the clear.  We have enjoyed a prosperous, scientific society for the past 400 years only because we have largely abandoned the shackles of religion.  Even the “religious” are very selective of the passages of the Bible they read and all but the most zealous think that their religion is in a separate sphere and isolated from their daily experience. 

There has been a trend towards greater fundamentalism in the United States which will likely end US dominance of science and technology (and the world in general) as our children are raised in a confused state where religious dogma pretends to have as much likelihood as scientific fact.  The more our religions gets protective (and it must to survive the slimming gaps it has so far plugged) the more they will cloud the minds of our children.

Children (and most adults) have a tendency to believe what is convinient and doesn’t make them think.  They tend to fall into the “Argument from Personal Incredulity” which states that if they can’t understand it then it must be false.  Science is very specialized and can be very hard to understand.  Very few understand Natural Selection and even fewer the quantum physics that underline this world, I don’t understand the later.  The difference, they need to realize, is that with science they can actually acquire the skills to go out and perform the experiments or to learn to understand the mathematics and theory.  With religion and faith-based “knowledge” you just have to accept what is stated and then all the answers flow from there, “Magic man dun’it”.


* I don’t know how long the link will remain open to the public, the NYT tends to leave this stuff up only for a few days.

Minnesota Atheists

July 17, 2007

Just a link to the Minnesota Atheists.  A group representing your friendly neighborhood atheists.

An article in PR week that talks about he growing voice of the Atheist movement.  My belief is that the growing voice is in response to the loud voice Fundementalism has received and become evident in the Bush administration and the Republican War on Science.


As individuals who commonly extol the virtues of rationality, critical thinking, and the application of reason, it is tempting to assume that atheists are less prone to misunderstandings and a variety of cognitive errors. However, many of us (myself included) have been making a big error when it comes to our views on Christians. It is time to fix this error, and I hope that my atheist readers will join me in apologizing to the many Christians we have wronged.

Christians are a diverse bunch. While they share some central tenets of Christianity, one can find a full spectrum from right-wing biblical literalists to progressives who interpret the same bible metaphorically. Fundamentalism may be a fast-growing segment of Christianity, but it is certainly not synonymous with Christianity.

We atheists often find ourselves confused over who is a “real Christian” and who is not. Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy, and James Dobson certainly refer to themselves as Christians. In fact, it is not uncharacteristic of them to dismiss progressive to moderate Christians as not being “real Christians.” On the other hand, I have heard countless moderate to progressive Christians insist that these men are extremists who do not represent Christianity at all. Progressive Christians often express embarrassment that these men even associate themselves with Christianity.

I suppose some confusion is understandable on our part, but this cannot excuse our error. And what exactly is this error? We are constantly describing certain individuals as Christian when they are not even close to being “real Christians.” We then attack these false Christian straw men as if they represented Christianity when they most certainly do not.

Fear not – we can avoid this mistake rather easily. All we have to do is learn what Christians have long recognized: “Real Christians” do not behave in immoral ways. The second someone indulges in immoral behavior, the person ceases to be a “real Christian.” Just like magic! Remember Hitler? He might have been a Christian at one time, but the moment he started killing Jews, he was no longer a Christian. What about pastors who molest children? Once these were great Christians with large congregations. Now, not so much. Ted Haggard? Once a prominent Christian leader, but now…you get the idea.

Christians, we atheists have been too dimwitted to see what has been right in front of our eyes the entire time. For that, we are sorry. We will never again accuse a Christian of hypocrisy because we will now recognize that this is not possible for a Christian. Once they’ve done something bad, they are magically no longer a “real Christian.”

As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith, it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers. The alternative, one so transparent that is should need no urging, is to abandon the principle of automatic respect for religious faith.
There are many quotable passages in this book, but this has to be one of my favorites for its sheer simplicity.

Most recent book

June 28, 2007

I am listening to an audible book called “god is not Great”.  It is a great book and gives many examples of the “sins” of religion and makes a good argument for secular humanism.  By all means I am no unbiased reader so please read it and post your comments here.  But don’t post if you haven’t read it :).

I will undoubtedly take some quotes form the book and comment on them…  This is difficult to do from an audible book.