Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts

Friday, 3 July 2015

Bangladeshi Politician Jailed For Hurting Religious Sentiment, Branded 'Atheist' & Life Threatened

Abdul Latif Siddiqui
Atheist bloggers aren't the only ones in Bangladesh who need to be very careful about what they say. Politicians also risk being murdered for expressing any opinion which could inflame the rage of Islamic terrorists.
“He will be killed wherever he is found. No atheist has been spared since the independence of Bangladesh,” the Dhaka Tribune quoted Maulana Junayed Al Habib as saying at an Iftar gathering at Jamia Madania Madrassa in Dhaka.
Apparently, Al Habib is a representative of an organization which represents some 70,000 religious schools - Islamic madrassas. The fact that he has the gall to speak this threat in public and that he's not immediately hauled off to jail for it, says a lot about the current state of human rights in Bangladesh.

In fact, Bangladesh is an excellent study case of what happens to a so-called secular nation in which religion has assumed such primacy that it has now effectively become a terrifying theocracy.
Slandering religion and “hurting religious sentiment” are illegal in Bangladesh. Vigilantes have also taken the law into their own hands. This year alone, suspected fundamentalists have killed three secular bloggers in separate machete attacks.
Murdering politicians who happened to say something impious is perfectly okay, though.

Siddiqui was fired by the Prime Minister while he was abroad in New York. He made the fatal mistake of pointing out that perhaps the Muslim Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, the Hajj, might be a bit of a waste of money.
“It is sheer waste of manpower. Some 20 lakh [two million] people have gone to Saudi Arabia. They have no work to do. It is deduction, rather than production. They are spending and consuming. They are taking the country’s money to Saudi Arabia,” he said in alleged footage of the event posted on YouTube. 
They are taking the money of a rather poor country and transferring it en masse to Saudi Arabia - a mind-numbingly rich human rights abuser.

For this comment, he got seven months in prison. He is now on bail. Apparently, he lives in a secular country. His lawyer had this to say.
“Atheism is not illegal in our country and we do not have Sharia Law to demand [the] death sentence [for] atheists. The government should take stern action against all irrespective of their political or other identities in such cases,” Barua told the Dhaka Tribune. 
Keep repeating this and perhaps someone might believe you. It's been clearly demonstrated that atheism will get you murdered in Bangladesh by mouth frothing, machete wielding religious lunatics. The government appears to be taking stern action by apparently being scared shitless of the terrorists and making mealy mouthed excuses.
They say “it is a sensitive matter” and that they plan to persuade the groups not to stage confrontations during the holy month.

“The government is monitoring the situation carefully and nobody would be allowed to create any law and order situation during Ramadan,” a minister told BenarNews, requesting anonymity.
Sounds like they're handling this situation like a boss! Laying down the law in Bangladesh!

Meanwhile, protesters appear to still be in need of some delicate persuasion not to slice this politician - who is not even necessarily an atheist - to ribbons.
Members of Islami Oikyo Jote – also a part of Hefazat – marched in Dhaka’s Lalbagh area on Tuesday to protest his release.

“The atrocious atheists and murtads (infidel) are being patronized by granting Latif Siddiqui bail. They will not be allowed to live in this country,” Mufti Faizullah, secretary general of the Jote, said, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
Why are the authorities not throwing this man into jail? I guess jail time might further offend his delicate religious sensitivities. 

Lawrence Krauss & Many More At Non-Conference 2015 In August!

Lawrence Krauss will be one of the speakers. (source)
Last year, I wrote about a brand spanking new conference for the nons - non believers which took place in Toronto. This was The Non Conference 2014.

Well, the conference is back this year!
Are you an atheist or care about ideas, policies and institutions that affect non-believers? Then The Non-Conference is for you!

The Non-Conference is Ontario's largest annual conference that is specifically geared for non-believers, non-theists, the “nones”, atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, materialists, rationalists, secularists, pantheists, skeptics, empiricists, naturalists, friendly theists...well, you get the idea.

The Non-Conference got its start in Toronto in November last year and now we are back with NonCon2015 in Kitchener, August 22nd, 2015.

Join notable speakers from across Canada and the US for a day of discussion and debate on topics relevant to secularism, human rights, and free-thought in Canada.

I've known about this for awhile now, but have done a magnificent job of totally procrastinating and not posting anything about it. So here's a first post on this conference -- just in time for all of you to buy very reasonably priced tickets and get your non-believing butts down to the Kitchener this year - a not Toronto part of Ontario.

Here are my pathetic excuses for not attending. I am addicted to the Internet and blogging and I saw no reference to WiFi, which makes me twitchy. I am also a car-less, nomadic hippie type here in bohemian Montreal. Although the location looks natural and idyllic, I couldn't see it working by train or bus. Alack alas, Toronto was better suited and I supposed I should have attended last year. I wonder if there are many others in my situation?

All done with the excuses! Now let me tell you about the guest speakers!

Lawrence Krauss - This already should sell it.

Faisal Al Mutar - For someone who's been covering the atheist/skeptic struggles in the Middle East, this is fascinating! Watch his INR5 talk.

Ensaf Haidar - If you follow this blog, you'll know who Ensaf is! She's the strong and courageous human rights activist working to free her husband Raif Badawi from Saudi imprisonment.

Armin Navabi - The founder of Atheist Republic. I recently covered the insane reaction of Twitter Muslims to AR's Rainbow Kaba picture.

Sandy Donaldson - I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about Donaldson. He is starting up the Atheist Community of Toronto, though. If you're an atheist and live in Toronto, you'll want to track him down.

Doug Thomas - Doug is by far the most uber black belt level Humanist for miles and miles around. He blogs over at Canadian Secular Humanist.

Eric Thomas - Eric is not only a great guy, he's also prez of Humanist Canada

Carolyn Hyppolite - Author of the compelling Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist. I've written about her here, here, and here.

Stephanie Guttormson - Member of the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Master student group organizer. Awesome cross-country educator on transgender issues and skepticism.

Christine Shellska - Christine is super awesome and the prez of Atheist Alliance International. She's also a regular on the Legion of Reason.

David Rand - If you're into intelligent conversation about secularism, Quebec/Canada politics and atheism, then you're going to want to speak with David. In addition to being a really fun guy to have dinner with, he's also prez of the Libres penseurs athées -- Atheist Freethinkers right here in Montreal!

There you have it! Go take advantage of the (still very cheap) regular cost tickets until August 7th -- then they will become sought after procrastinator tickets.

Although I won't be able to make the conference, I have secured an agreement with a fellow blogger who will be attending to make short guest posts on this blog about the talks. So stay tuned in August for updates!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

DW Story On Daily Threats to Bangladeshi Blogger

Still from video shows friend advising Azad to leave Bangladesh after death threat. (source)
Today, on Canada Day, I get to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a country where it's (still) possible to safely blog about atheism, the dangers of religion and state-church separation issues. This is patently not the case in Bangladesh, where atheist bloggers like me are being hacked to death with machetes in the streets.

Here's an excellent and disturbing look by DW television at the life of one such atheist blogger in Bangladesh, Ananya Azad. He's on an Islamic terrorist hit list with other bloggers and gets frequent death threats. So far, he has not found any way out of the country to safety abroad. With all of this, he continues to blog.

Cannot embed the video. So here's the link:

Monday, 29 June 2015

16 Year Old Singaporean Atheist Blogger May Be Sentenced to Reeducation Camps & 'Autism Treatment'

Amos Yee (source)
Remember that Singaporean sixteen year old blogger, Amos Yee? He was found guilty of wounding religious feeling and then sentenced to reformative training -- which I can only imagine is some sort of juvenile reeducation camp.

Straight Times lets us know that:
A stint at the Reformative Training Centre lasts between 18 and 30 months, and includes structured rehabilitation programmes, foot drills, and counselling. Offenders will not have contact with adult prison inmates.
Yee is in trouble for making this video:

He also posted this picture on his blog (now taken down):

Well, his conviction has been delayed already for three weeks for a psychiatric evaluation.  Most recently, his conviction has been delayed another two weeks due to suspicions that he's autistic!
Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Although there is no proven cure yet for autism, some medical care may help reduce their symptoms. For example, some medications are approved by US Food and Drug Administration to reduce irritability in children with autism. If the court decides that Yee must undergo MTO, it is not known what kind of ‘treatment’ the teen will receive.
Does this mean they're going to put him on mind altering drugs while he's in a government reeducation camp? All this for posting a video offending Christians and fans of the prior prime minister.

No word yet as to whether or not they diagnosed him with autism. Presumably, the suspicion is due to a misunderstanding that all autistic people lack empathy for... say... religious and patriotic sensibilities.

Al Jazeera Plus released this video summing up the situation:

Singapore Teen Makes Fun of Ex-Leader and Gets Arrested
A teenage blogger made fun of Singapore's late leader and was arrested. Now, he's being held for psychiatric review.
Posted by AJ+ on Thursday, 25 June 2015

Yee is due back in court July 6th.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Twitter Muslims Demand Tweet of Rainbow Kaba Be Taken Down

There's something fascinating going on Twitter right now. In celebration of Friday's Supreme Court ruling which made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 US states, @AtheistRepublic posted this picture of the Kaba in Mecca.
The reaction has been fascinating. Angry and offended Muslims have left comments demanding the tweet be deleted. To this, @AtheistRepublic has asked why precisely and has suggested that if they find this so offensive they ought not look at it.

There are many more like this. Whichever side you fall on with this one, it's fascinating to see the arguments.

Friday, 26 June 2015

'Atheism Must be More Than Non-Belief in Gods' - Article

Find meaning in life, not in an absence of belief in something. (source)
There's this curious article which just came out and is making the rounds. Perhaps you've seen it?: Atheism must be about more than just not believing in god.
Atheism is so often considered in the negative: as a lack of faith, or a disbelief in god; as an essential deprivation. Atheism is seen as being destitute of meaning, value, purpose; unfertile ground for growing the feelings of belonging needed to overcome the alienation that dogs modern life. In more extreme critiques, atheism is considered to be another name for nihilism; a fundamental negation of existence, a noxious blight on creation itself.

Yet atheists – rather than flippantly dismissing the insights of theologians – should take them seriously indeed. Humans, by dint of being human, are confronted with baffling questions about meaning, belonging, direction, our connection to other humans and the fate of our species as a whole. The human impulse is to seek answers, and to date, atheism has been unsatisfactory in its response.
As well as an odd call to action:
This is why atheism, if it is to be relevant, must shed its humanism. The future vitality and relevance of atheism depends on its ability to broaden its focus away from the validity of god’s existence and narrow concerns over individual freedom. Instead, it must turn to address questions about economic causality, belonging and alienation, poverty, collective action, geo-politics, the social causes of environmental problems, class and gender inequality, and human suffering.
Take a look at the comments at the bottom. You'll find a couple of mine there too. It really seems like atheism and humanism mean completely different things to the author, Patrick O'Connor, than to the vast majority of atheists I've read and heard. It's as if he's on a completely different planet.

The Twitter conversation around this also seems this way. At least one person suggested that atheists can gain meaning from the work of Carl Sagan or Neil DeGrass Tyson and it seems like he's never heard of him, nor Alain de Botton. Has he been stuck in a university philosophy department for too long?
Like several Christian atheism detractors, he seems hung up on people from a couple of centuries ago, like Nietzsche. He's really into Camus as well -- like some other Christian modern atheism critics out there.
Meanwhile, the Marxist tradition offers us the means to understand the material conditions of unsustainable capitalism. Existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus allow us to comprehend our shared mortality, and the humour and tragedy of life in a godless universe.
Others have responded very well to this. I haven't seen much hostility -- just kind helping hands. I tweeted this, which sums up my whole opinion of the article.
Atheism is just a position on the existence of gods. One must strive to make their own life meaningful, not atheism.

O'Connor's problem with atheism not being the answer to all things seems to be also featured in his book, Atheism Reclaimed.
A Lament for the Soul of Atheism. Real Atheism for Real Atheists. Rooted in continental philosophy, phenomenology and existential philosophy, Atheism Reclaimed is original in its attempt to create different existential concepts to give expressions to what an authentic atheism might look like for the 21st Century. Utilizing thinkers like Heidegger, Nietzsche, Bataille and Ranciere, Virno and Sartre, Patrick O,Connor opens up a new path for atheist thought based on questions of time, truth, objects and equality in opposition to more traditional scientific materialist accounts that underline conventional atheism. O'Connor engages with five key moments that, he argues, allow us to begin to build a new conceptual discourse for atheism: Nietzsche's response to nihilism; the role of objects; an atheistic interpretation of Heidegger's account of time; the strange relation between truth and violence; and a refiguring of notions of the common.
Astonishingly, I do not think this sort of thing actually provides much fulfillment or meaning either -- unless you happen to be the Senior Lecturer in Philosophy - English, Communications, Culture and Media at Nottingham Trent University. Then it could either generate a lot of interest in your particular field of study and your book. Or it could really be fulfilling -- to each their own, right?

In the end, arguments like this are similar to a theoretical a-capitalism. Let's say someone doesn't believe in western capitalism. Are you going to assign extra meaning to that or are you going to build other systems like Marxism or Anarcho-Capitalism instead and rally around those?

Let's keep atheism a-theism and then build other systems of thought and meaning around them.

Atheists cope with dark parts of life the same way theists do -- they merely do not believe in spooks. The birth of my child was deeply meaningful. My love for my wife is profound. The beauty of nature is awe inspiring. The ingenuity and destructiveness of man and animal alike are astounding. The size of the universe makes me giddy to contemplate. I don't need Sartre, Camus or Nietzsche for any of this.

Live your life, please -- why does it not suffice to feel joy or intense and and sorrow without someone's philosophical metaphysics?

The BBQ I had last weekend was also meaningful, delightful and delicious too. My son loves the sprinklers.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

5 Greatest Threats to Traditional Religions: According to Omani Mufti

Listen, the world's got big problems and Sheikh Dr Kahlan Nabhan Al Kharusi, Oman's assistant grand mufti addressed a meeting of world traditional religions in Kazakhstan.
Al Kharusi was speaking at the 5th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, last week when he voiced his concerns about five issues he sees as threats to religious societies and implored religious leaders to join him in combating them.
World hunger? Grotesque economic inequality? Preventable disease? Lack of education -- particularly for girls and women? Horrendous working conditions? Global climate change? Suppression of freedom of expression? Controlled and muzzled press? Actual persecution of religious minorities?

No, I hadn't read correctly. This is about threats to traditional religious societies. So atheism leads the list!
In an interview with Times of Oman he spoke in depth about these issues which include a rise in militant atheism, the erosion of traditional family structures as more countries allow same-sex marriage, youth who lack spiritual fulfillment, wars that are not religiously sanctioned, and bioethics, where some scientific developments harm human dignity.
By militant atheism he means books and speeches by Richard Dawkins and he says he's concerned that atheists are no longer peaceful (read: silent) and are now aggressive (read: vocal). Yes, these atheists are a real threat and so it's a relief that Kazakhstan, the very country in which the mufti was uttering these words, has dealt with one of their militant atheists by potentially throwing him into jail for seven years.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by journalist and human rights activist Alexander Kharlamov’s detention on trumped up charges for the past four months for writing articles critical of the local authorities and judicial system in his hometown, the eastern city of Ridder.

Aged in his 60s, he is facing a possible seven-year jail sentence on a charge of inciting hatred under article 164 of the criminal code. The prosecutor said he “spread atheist ideas” and “displayed a negative attitude towards religion.”
I suppose that's what happens when you live in a country rated 160 out of 179 on the Press Freedom Index -- yet still, according to the mufti, the atheists are the big threat.

Two experts failed to find any indication that Kharlmov's blog was inciting any sort of hatred at all but the judges in this country know better than experts because their religious sensitivities were offended by his atheist blog.
Two official expert evaluations of Kharlamov failed to find evidence of inciting hatred but judges nonetheless ruled that “these actions could provoke religious hatred and the formation of a negative attitude towards religion, which will contribute to conflicts between persons.”
Oh, they also threw him into a psychiatric ward for a month as well and he's just now gotten out. All this after spending six months behind bars previously. Seems to me like it's the entire judiciary that's a threat in this country. I wonder if the new External Advisory Committee to the Office of Religious Freedom will have anything to say in his defense?

Jailed atheist journalist and blogger Aleksandr Kharlamov and a cat.
Well, I suppose I'm a militant atheist. I also support same-sex marriage.

I'm also no fan of religiously sanctioned wars. I believe the Crusades were generally an awful idea, as were the Islamic wars of conquest. I also recall George W. Bush raving about how God told  him going to Iraq was a good idea. Nope, I'm not a fan of this at all.

When it comes to the youth, the problem appears to be consumer culture and gangster hip-hop lifestyles.
The third issue Al Kharusi raised was the culture of consumerism which is eroding traditional values and causing youth to be lacking spiritually and intellectually void. He was worried that people from poorer backgrounds, such as young Africans, may be influenced by African-American gangster and hip-hop lifestyles and try to imitate them, thinking they are well-cultured and fashionable. He said that when the youth realise how empty this consumer culture is, they may become susceptible to people with extremist agendas as they seek to fill their spiritual needs.
Gangster hip-hop extremist groups? Gangs perhaps. I can see some negative role models across all musical genres, across all time, forever.

When it comes to bioethics, I think it's generally a good thing. Just taking a look at stem cell research issues leads me to realize that I disagree with the good mufti here too.

So, on the whole, it would seem that I am part of the challenge to this group of traditional religious leaders. I'll remember this the next time I'm offered a free ticket to Kazakhstan or Oman.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Government Subcommittee Condemns Murder of Bangladeshi Atheist Bloggers

Eric Adriaans from Centre for Inquiry Canada sent me a link to a recent Canadian Government press release condemning human rights violations in Bangladesh. It's a statement from the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development -- most of the document seems to be taken up just by the name of the committee. I'm rather mystified about what this committee can actually do other than occasionally make statements which most people -- including Bangladeshi leadership -- are likely to ignore, but why not give it a look?
For a number of years, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) has paid close attention to the plight of religious minorities in different parts of the world. In February and March 2015, the Subcommittee received testimony about the human rights situation in Bangladesh, focusing specifically on the situation of religious minorities in that country. These meetings left the Subcommittee deeply concerned about ongoing violations and abuses of freedom of religion and other internationally protected human rights in Bangladesh.

The Subcommittee notes that the Constitution of Bangladesh recognizes the right of Bangladeshi citizens to profess, practice and propagate any religion and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. The Government of Bangladesh is also party to international human rights treaties guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief. Nevertheless, the Subcommittee has observed that the country’s religious minorities are unable to fully enjoy their human rights.

The Subcommittee was dismayed to receive reports that religious minority groups in Bangladesh continue to face discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of both state and non-state actors. Some minority religious communities have been victims of mob violence, such as the attacks against Hindu and Buddhist temples, shops and homes near Chittagong in 2012 and 2013. Witnesses testifying before the Subcommittee also spoke of violent attacks and land grabs perpetrated against indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, implicating both the Bangladeshi army and ethnic Bengali settlers in these acts.

The Subcommittee is also alarmed at the murder of three atheist bloggers known for speaking out against religious extremism in Bangladesh. The Subcommittee notes that Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, has condemned these murders. Moreover, the Subcommittee is troubled by reports that women and girls have been abducted, raped and subject to forced marriages, as well as indications that adherents of minority religions are at risk of forced conversion to Islam, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has training camps in Bangladesh.
The Subcommittee strongly believes that all Bangladeshis have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Members of religious minority communities, like all others in Bangladesh, also have the right to freedom of expression and the right to live free from discrimination. The Subcommittee also notes that a lack of respect for these rights negatively impacts the enjoyment of many other internationally protected human rights.

Therefore, the Subcommittee:

Condemns all discrimination, harassment and attacks against minority communities in Bangladesh, including indigenous groups and religious minorities.

Further condemns the brutal murder of atheist bloggers Avijit Roy, Ananta Bijoy Das and Oyashiqur Rahman and extends its condolences to their family members.
Calls upon the Government of Bangladesh to uphold the rights of all individuals to espouse their beliefs in peace and security, free from violent attack.

Insists that the Government of Bangladesh must effectively protect the places of worship, icons and religious property of minority religious communities, as well as the freedom of persons of all faiths to manifest their religion in public or private, individually or with other members of their community and without discrimination.

Urges the Bangladeshi authorities to conduct independent and effective investigations of violent incidents that undermine freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression in Bangladesh, and to bring those responsible to justice.
Condemns all forced religious conversions in Bangladesh.

Further condemns all forms of child, early and forced marriage in Bangladesh.

Supports the Government of Canada’s efforts to end child, early and forced early and childhood marriage in Bangladesh.

Encourages Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom to continue to monitor respect for religious freedom in Bangladesh.
This is all pretty good! I just have a couple of nits to pick.

Firstly, it wouldn't be such a stretch -- and I do see it as one -- for these sorts of statements to include atheists suffering at the hands of religious groups or governments, if the committee were concerned with human rights rather than the rather narrow scope of religious freedom.

Secondly, take another look at this portion about the killed atheist bloggers:
The Subcommittee is also alarmed at the murder of three atheist bloggers known for speaking out against religious extremism in Bangladesh. The Subcommittee notes that Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, has condemned these murders. Moreover, the Subcommittee is troubled by reports that women and girls have been abducted, raped and subject to forced marriages, as well as indications that adherents of minority religions are at risk of forced conversion to Islam, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has training camps in Bangladesh.
I wonder if they were only speaking out against only religious extremism in their blog or if they were simply questioning religion in general and discussing topics which upset religious people and compel lunatics (extremists) to violent action?

A recent story in the Glob and Mail, talks about the Mukto Mona's editor, who is in Toronto and concerned for his life and the life of bloggers in his home country of Bangladesh. This is the blog for which several of the murdered bloggers wrote.
Speaking at his Toronto home, Mr. Ahmed is pensive. He is getting messages from Mukto Mona writers in hiding. “Somebody will get killed within a short time,” he said with certainty.

The death threats extend to those beyond Mukto Mona, including intellectuals, academics and secular bloggers for other sites. Mr. Ahmed shared a message on his phone that someone sent to a contact inside Bangladesh: “We have already prepared your visa to hell,” it read.
The stated purpose of the blog:
The goal of Mukto Mona is not about “bashing” any one particular religion like Islam, but critiquing all religions, explained Mr. Ahmed.

“We don’t want people to become atheists all of a sudden. But we want people to think [in a] rational way,” he said. Another major theme is promoting scientific thought.
For Mr. Ahmed and his wife Afroja, any return to Bangladesh is virtually impossible. His own writings for Mukto Mona have focused on “safe” subjects like literature and history – and largely steered clear of science and religion, which are not his areas of expertise, he explained.

“But right now, everyone knows I’m running Mukto Mona,” said Mr. Ahmed. “That’s enough to kill me.”
For sure there must have been criticism of religious extremism, but it seems like even discussing controversial topics openly -- eg. freethought -- is enough to get one killed.

I just got the feeling reading this statement that they added the extremism as a means to somehow mask or distance the reader from the reality that merely being an atheist and questioning religion in Bangladesh will get you dead.

I don't know for sure. That's just how the language strikes me. Still, a release like this is better than no release.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

There's a Hula Girl on My Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind & Embraced Life

Portion of book cover. (source)
Earlier this month, I put up a guest post by author logospilgrim, Trapped No Longer: I Left Religion, Found Beauty in This Life & the Courage to Embrace it As Myself

There, her words spoke of mental shackles and bonds which blocked her self discovery and undermined her mission to find peace and meaning in this world. They are one picture from a thick album which recounts the long voyage of discovery she traveled from fundamentalist Christianity, to Orthodox Christianity and finally towards Secular Humanism. It wasn't easy --all the while, she was discovering her own identity as an androgyne, bi-romantic asexual person. She was questing for a home within religions hostile to anything which lay to either side of their dogma blinders.

You can find the whole album, the entire story -- or at least all which has been put down into ink and parchment -- within her beautifully written mini odyssey, There’s a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life. I recommend it. It's simple and honest. It's humble and empowering.

From Amazon:
"I didn't need to be redeemed from any unacceptable state. I didn't suffer from any metaphysical disease. I was a living, mortal, fragile, complex sentient being, and that was fine. I could make my own decisions. I could think for myself. I had my own voice." In There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life, writer, lecturer, and maverick Logospilgrim candidly shares the remarkable and passionate journey that took her from religious belief to secular humanism.
I also found a single typo in the entire document, which is astonishingly good for a self-published manuscript. Believe me, I've read a number of self published books lately and this is truly refreshing.

Rather than dwell on the quality of the work itself, I thought I'd share a few passages with you from the book which stuck out for me, personally.
Then, confronted by my persistent defiance of miraculous prayer and by my failure to serve up an inspiring, praise-the-Lord metamorphosis, the pastor and his wife told me the following words: “We’re not sure you’re saved.”

We were in the kitchen. I heard the words and felt my heart sink into the ground. I felt... How can I describe the despair that went through me like a barbed lance?

“We think you’re going to hell.” That’s what I was told.

“There’s no hope for you.”

And it’s not that I didn’t try... I tried. I tried and I tried. I wanted to make Jesus happy; I believed in love. But I could never measure up. I was a disappointment. Between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, I think I must have cried in every dark corner I could find in that cafeteria-like Baptist church, with its plain walls and wooden chairs and many Bibles.

I remember holding on to mine. I remember underlining passages, running my fingers across the precious, thin white pages.

But my pain was like rust, causing bits of me to flake away and cave in and fall off. I wasn’t a good Christian like all the other young people. I often felt afraid of them. My self-hatred and my anger increased. Which made me even less acceptable. I could sense the pastor’s disapproval. I could see the way he’d look at me.

I didn’t want to stay in his house anymore.

They had a baby while I was there. I remember one time, the pastor’s wife was babysitting someone else’s infant, I forget whose. It was small, a fragile-looking thing, unlike their larger child, and it would weep and weep unless it was being held. She let it cry, and then at one point she picked it up, saying she would give it “a little break,” but she was clearly unimpressed. And she said that this baby
was “selfish.” It wasn’t being raised correctly. That’s why it was small.

I never forgot that.

I once asked the pastor what he’d do if their child had problems like me when it was older. He said that he was sure their child would be “a blessing from God.”

Well, I was probably not saved, and all that. What candyou do.

I had to leave. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

What if it was okay, just being a Homo sapiens?

The more I thought about it, the freer and more at peace I felt. The “dreadful consequences” of living without the divine force were dropping from my consciousness like the insubstantial threats, manipulative tactics, and rampant ignorance they’d always been.

The relationship I’d had with Christianity and its deities was now looking like an abusive marriage. As long as I submitted to them, I was “okay.” They would care for me, love me, protect me; all I had to do was accept everything I was told, only have the few friends they approved of, not think about anything they didn’t want me to, not question their authority, be completely dependent on them, obey all their rules, look the way they wanted me to, cower before them, and be pleasing to them.

This was bullshit. I didn’t need that so-called love. I was a living, mortal, fragile, complex sentient being, and that was fine. I could make my own decisions. I could think for myself. I had my own voice.
There are many more rather kickass quotes in the book. I really enjoyed it and parts of it resonated with me and would likely resonate with others going through the tough voyage of de-conversion.

You can get it in pretty much any E-reader format worth its salt. You can also get good old paper as well. Visit logospilgrim's bookstore  for more information!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Good Interview With Jerry Coyne on TVO

Jerry Coyne on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin (source)
Jerry Coyne recently visited Toronto -- where he allegedly had some sort of non-Quebecois «poutine» -- c'est quoi ça? Anyway, that egregious act aside, it seems to have been a good visit where he promoted his new book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.

During the trip, he made a stop over at TVO for this great discussion with Steve Paikin.

Watch the interview and then swing on over to Coyne's blog, where he discusses it more in depth.

via Veronica Abbass

Friday, 12 June 2015

"Does God Exist?" - Response The Final

Awhile back, I was challenged to a blogging debate by a Christian blogger, Anthony Freeland, who writes over at Truth Interrupted (which is not anything like Girl Interrupted). This last response will conclude the debate and then we'll all have a vote to see who won -- no wait, it seems like no Christians showed up on any of the comments threads, so maybe a vote wouldn't be nice.

Theist: Debate – “Does God Exist?” Opening statements for theism

Atheist: "Does God Exist?" - Response One

Theist: Debate: Does God Exist? Response 1 For Theism

And now without further ado, my response, which will more or less address the convenient points Tony laid out in his response.

Sean’s First Problem

I've got problems, but this one isn't one at all.

My alleged issue has to do with the burden of proof. Tony is arguing that a god exists and so, naturally, it is up to him to offer evidence for this. I may then ask for clarification, advance inconsistencies or question how conclusions are reached. It's highly likely this is not how things work in debates, though -- which is sad.
I have made a claim, so I have no problem with that. The problem is that he seems to think that he has no responsibility in this regard. It’s true that I initiated this debate but once he accepted and we got under way that became irrelevant. The proposition is in the form of a question: “Does God Exist?” The proposition therefore places an equal burden of proof on both parties. Let me explain why this is important.
Why, precisely, is there an equal burden of proof on both sides? Is this the case for any other question? Must I prove the non-existence of unicorns or space aliens? Nonetheless, this God fellow seems special, so we could have a separate conversation about evidence for his non existence.
I have given two arguments for the existence of God. There are more, plenty more. If Sean were to tear down both of my arguments, does that mean that it’s more reasonable to believe that God does not exist? Of course not.
Yes, there are apparently many. Must I then sit and tear down every argument for the existence of a god ever to have been proposed before we can conclude there is insufficient evidence to believe in a god? Is there any other assertion like this? Must I go through every Illuminati or space alien conspiracy ever posited before being justified in my non-belief?

There really do seem to be a lot of arguments for the existence of a god. I wonder why so many seem to be necessary.
If he wants to make a case for atheism, which is necessary if we should deny that God exists, then he would have to not only tear down my arguments but also erect a case for thinking that atheism is more plausible than theism.
I need not make a case for atheism. It is the duty of the theist to make their case and if it is sound and convincing -- backed up by some evidence -- then the atheist will be convinced. It is like this for any assertion.

Sean’s Second Problem

The term begins to exist sounds a little odd. It's probably because while attempting to prove a God, the theist will often posit that all things have a cause. To which the atheist will often ask, what caused God?

To get around this, some theists seem to have separated all things into two classes; those which began to exist and those that have never began to exist. Something which never began to exist? It seems as if there is only one thing which the theist believes has never began to exist -- the prime mover ('pssst:  God'). It's a very convenient piece of begging the question.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

We don't know if everything either began to exist or was caused. This is certainly true with tables and chairs and planets and stars -- as far as we know...

2. The Universe began to exist.

... but we just don't know for sure about the universe -- by which Tony seems to mean everything. Apparently, quantum physics and cosmology has a rather wide variety of views on this, although I am not an expert. Although our universe does seem to have begun at one time, it's unclear what precisely started it into motion.

3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

Probably so. Even if it was a quantum fluctuation of something which was already there. I simply fail to see how this point to a god or the Christian god. If anything it points to something causing other things. Perhaps there was some initial cause, maybe it was another universe, maybe an infinite number of universes -- we don't know.

“We Don’t Know”

Philosophy is admiral. I've read some Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle -- upon which Christianity seems to be based to a great deal. It can be very poetic and nice, but the universe has demonstrated to us over and over again that it does not fit nicely into our philosophical plans.

Mr Craig and the other theologians are perfectly welcome to examine the evidence and come to the conclusion that it backs up their theology. Until the scientific consensus agrees, I'll stick with I don't know.

The Rebuttals

This has already gone on for awhile and I, unfortunately, am very pressed for time. I'll try to get some responses out in rapid fire, but welcome further discussion.

I. Could Tony please explain how something which is immaterial and non-physical be intelligent and have agency?

II. We know about integers. These are numbers which are, in themselves, finite but which extend out infinitely. Floating point (decimal) numbers are similar --- they are infinitely divisible. Fractals go on forever (as far as we know). I believe it is much more plausible to believe in an infinite collection of finite events than a single starter event which doesn't follow any of the rules of which we're aware.

Tony is attempting to answer a great mystery with an even bigger mystery. He's asking us to believe in something which is immaterial and intelligent, outside of time which has apparently done something before our time existed... forever, I guess. It tells us nothing at all.

Furthermore, if space can be infinite at least within our perceptible dimensions when why not space-time? I guess we just don't know.

III. As to power, I was being sincere. By what mechanism does this immaterial god affect change in our world. Is it magick?

IV. I would be interested to know what the attributes are, then, of this god and how we may test them. If Tony could enumerate them, it would be fantastic.
V. It is a very interesting article that he referenced but is irrelevant. Just because the Irish were wrong, it does not follow that nothing in the world, nothing in the Universe, or the Universe itself could possibly be designed. This is call the Composition Fallacy. That is, that what is true of a part must then be true of the whole itself.
Sort of reminds me of stating that everything which begin to exist had a cause and that the entire universe must behave in the precise same way.

VI. Finally:
Claiming agnosticism in a debate doesn’t work. Stating that “we don’t know” in a debate in which you are trying to show that one position is more plausible than another is nothing less than conceding, because if we don’t know that it’s true, then if follows necessarily that we don’t know that it’s not true.
I wasn't trying to show the atheist position is more plausible than the theist position because a-theism is a lack of a theistic belief. We don't know is shorthand for saying that there is simply insufficient evidence for a premise to be credible. There is insufficient evidence for a god and so, atheism is the more reasonable stance.

If I were trying to prove another god -- say the Allah of the Muslims -- this would be a different debate entirely.

VII. As for the Moral Argument, I would be happy to discuss it in future. It's just that by the time I get to this portion of the debate, I've already written too much.

Here's what I would like to challenge Tony to. I would like to have a discussion with him about any single point of contention in this debate. We could drill down into it.

I would be open to doing this over Skype or Google Hangouts for a set amount of time -- say no more than 60 minutes per topic.

I think that could be very interesting.

PS: I apologize that I wasn't able to go further into this. Truly, Tony has done an amazing job of exploring every point and I'm simply unable to respond to everything. I have been stuck looking after my five year old son and it's been rather difficult to concentrate. During discussion, I promise to go much deeper into any of the many topics.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Buh-Bye, James Lunney! Thanks For the Good Times & This Great Farewell Speech!

For the past year, we've been following the speeches, tweets and blog posts of creationist not-macro-evolutionist British Columbian MP James Lunney, who left the Conservative party because they just weren't religiously conservative nor creationist enough for him. We knew back then that Lunney was in his last year as an MP and would not be running again. So, alack alas, all things must come to an end.
As a Christian, I want give thanks to God for directing the life path that is before me and giving me the opportunity to serve my community. Lifelong service and learning is a commitment that has sustained me for more than half a lifetime, and I look forward to taking the life lessons from these amazing 15 years here into the next chapter of my life.
That was from a farewell address he did in Parliament yesterday, probably, you can watch the entire thing here.

I'll actually miss Lunney -- I'm not being sarcastic -- because he truly was never hesitant about saying what was on his mind and what he believed in, no matter out outlandish it was. He also spoke out about militant atheists and secularists and he really didn't hold back on his last speech either.

Here's the relevant portion from the transcription provided on Lunney's blog.
I recently raised alarms about those among us as Canadians who seek to rebrand our nation with a godless image. As I leave this place after fifteen years and five elections. I urge members to take note of this serious assault on the foundations of our nation.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges that Canada was founded on a belief in the supremacy of God. Our parliamentary precinct has scripture inscribed in the stones, on the Peace Tower and throughout the Memorial Chapel, the heart of the Peace Tower.

Famously in the wood over the doors in the fourth floor shadow cabinet room are carved the words, “Fear God” and “Honour the King”. Some of us served in opposition and saw that regularly.

Those who are determined to change that piece by piece and stone by stone to recreate Canada in a secular godless image propose to use their influence, their positions of authority, their money and our courts to this end. The recent Supreme Court ruling on prayer at city council in Saguenay has sent repercussions across the country and greatly advanced the godless rebranding exercise. This ruling basically redefines freedom of religion as freedom from religion. Big banks and corporate CEOs have used their money and influence to advocate against a Christian law school at Trinity Western University. Medical licensing authorities have unilaterally expunged doctors’ long-standing conscience provisions, forcing costly legal challenges.

The most published and read book in the history of the world is in fact a record of God’s dealing with man from the beginning of time. It has advice for those who despise God’s counsel and oppose his purposes:

“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

It also says: In fact, it says on the Peace Tower:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
“Remove not the ancient landmark…”
“Woe unto those that call good evil and evil good…”
“Be not many teachers…”
“Woe unto those who teach men to err.”
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

It is not the Christian Right, if such can be found in Canada, that they seek to overthrow. It is the God of heaven and earth, who has been building His kingdom throughout the ages and evermore in our turbulent times.The world the godless would build is a world without hope, a world of expanding darkness. It is our godly inheritance that has made Canada the great success it has been. Apart from Him, we have no remedy for sin; we have no moral code to build on except His precepts. Godlessness is and will be accompanied by increasing social disorder, violence, lawlessness and depravity; it is spreading around the world. Colleagues, let us keep the lights on in Canada.

If we reject His loving kindness and so great a salvation, we will surely meet Him as judge and those who set themselves against His purposes can expect to hasten the encounter. For those who would destroy the foundations of our great Nation, I say, fear God. He knows your thoughts, your address and your expiry date. He has invested heavily in Canada and He will defend His investments out of love and compassion for our nation.
Well, at least we know where he stands on that one.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Council of Churches to Hold Conference to "Counter Atheism in Egypt"

Clearly, this conference could shape up to be a laugh a minute. (source)
I've written it before, Egypt's clerics and government has declared war on atheism -- all 866 atheists. In fact, they're forming special awareness groups to run about the country informing people about atheism.

More news now on the effort of various religious groups within the country -- the newly formed Council of Churches --who began mobilizing last November. This council comprises of Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox and Anglican churches. Gee, I think they might be missing a prominent religion in Egypt.

Anyway, they're planning a conference on June 16th to “counter atheism in Egypt”. It will take place in a Jesuit school.
Representatives from the Orthodox and Catholic churches will deliver speeches at the conference, including a speech on atheism from a scientific perspective. Workshops for priests will be organized to conclude recommendations after the conference.
Interesting! I would love to hear this speech along with some speeches on their religious beliefs from a scientific perspective! We all know that won't happen though.

More news as this develops!

Charlie! Charlie! Freethinking Island Podcast Is Back!

Bathsheba, St Joseph, Barbados. (source)
Back in 2012, I wrote about my impression of the state of atheism in Barbados. Namely, I just didn't see any evidence of it at all.
A recent Google search brought me back zero Meetup groups, no Facebook organizations, zilch CFI or Humanist organizations.  Nothing.  I did find a few forum posts by ex-patriots like me living on the island who were feeling very isolated and alone.  These were given the advice to seek out Unitarian Universalist churches - that's the best advice.
There was some really scant evidence of some atheists on the island, but they were definitely not organized like they are here. If they existed, they were laying low.

Then I discovered fellow atheist blogger David Ince who blogs over at No Religion Know Reason. He contributed two guest posts (one, two) to this blog about the situation of atheism and religion on Barbados.

David was co-host on the only Caribbean freethinker podcast I'm aware of, Freethinking Island. This was a great show that truly outlined how matters of religion, atheism and critical thinking uniquely manifest themselves on the islands -- all of which are actually very different culturally. Things were good, but then the show went off the air last June.

Then that insanity about Charlie Charlie hit the island and they were shaken back into action!

Hosts David Ince and Joy Holloway-D'avilar are back! You can find episode notes on their Facebook page (subscribe).  You can listen on iTunes or on their page.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Things I Like: Jonathan Miller's 'Alice In Wonderland'

Still from Alice In Wonderland, 1966 television play on BBC directed by Jonathan Miller.
While searching for image for debate posts with fellow blogger Anthony Freeland over at Truth Interrupted, I was compelled to look at Alice In Wonderland movies. I've always been curiously drawn Lewis Carroll's work and the story itself has been reinterpreted dozens of times.

While looking, I found the most visually appealing to be from a BBC 1966 television play directed by Jonathan Miller.

You may recall that Miller is a prominent atheist in Britain, who recently produced the marvelous documentary series tracing the known history of declared atheism, Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief. There is a scene which takes place in an Anglican Church which is rather perfectly explained by that fact.

I watched it Friday evening and I think I'll watch it again. That's very rare for me.

The production is full of gloomy black and white photography which plays efficiently with strange camera angles with Alice in the extreme foreground -- usually looking downright weary. This goes along well with a story which appears to be a satirical view of upper class British society. It doesn't look like it was expensive to make, but it was very well done and really does convey a trippy opiate-induced wonderland not unlike what 1966 London must have been like.

The soundtrack is by Ravi Shankar!

If this isn't wild enough, the King of Hearts is played by Peter Sellers!

There are other somewhat unlikely additions to this psychedelic movie. Malcolm Muggeridge --whom is still absolutely not posthumously invited to my dinner party -- plays the Gryphon. Apparently, before converting to Christianity, becoming a Mother Teresa fanboy, and berating the Pythons for making the Life of Brian, Muggridge considered himself an agnostic. 

You'll also remember that Christopher Hitchens took issue with previously agnostic, sixties psychedelic play actor, Malcolm Muggeridge in his scathing exposé of Mother Teresa's human misery factory in India.

I mean, take a look at this cast:
The play featured a number of prominent British actors including Michael Redgrave (as the Caterpillar), John Gielgud (as the Mock Turtle),and Peter Sellers (as the King of Hearts), as well as two of Miller's fellow cast members from Beyond the Fringe, Peter Cook and Alan Bennett as the Mad Hatter and the Mouse, respectively. The title role was played by Anne-Marie Mallik, the 13-year-old daughter of a Surrey barrister, this being her only known acting performance. Wilfrid Brambell played the White Rabbit, Michael Gough (who later appeared in Tim Burton's 2010 film adaptation) and Wilfrid Lawson were the March Hare and the Dormouse, Alison Leggatt was the Queen of Hearts, and Leo McKern did a drag turn as the Ugly Duchess. The journalist and broadcasting personality Malcolm Muggeridge was The Gryphon. John Bird played the Fish Footman. The play also featured a young Eric Idle, several years before Monty Python brought him notice, uncredited as a member of the Caucus Race. David Battley appears briefly as the Executioner.
The only person who's not a famous actor was Anne-Marie Mallik -- Alice herself. Some have criticised her for being too rigid and shallow. Personally, I think she was absolutely perfect for this role. Her indifference, gloominess and dissatisfaction shone a sort of negative light on the absurdity around her.

Throughout the entire play, she kept repeating the question, who am I? Who am I now? I apologize for this spoiler, but I don't think she even found herself by the end of the play. She's probably still out there searching just like all of us.

Part I:

Alice In Wonderland (1966) BBC ~ Part 1 by seasonwitch

You can also watch Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

This is a beautiful movie.

I might just also be into odd movies from the sixties as a general rule.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Trapped No Longer: I Left Religion, Found Beauty in This Life & the Courage to Embrace it As Myself

This is a guest post by logospilgrim, who recently published the beautifully written book There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life. I'll be doing a review of the book hopefully in the next couple of months.

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 22:5
“You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.” ~ Leviticus 19:19
Ever since childhood, I’ve lacked the ability to squeeze myself into nice, neat, clearly delineated categories. To make myself fit in tidy little boxes. Sooner or later, I rebel, I fight against this unnatural confinement. It’s in great part due to this, I believe, that I’ve never been able to remain in any mainstream religion.

They tell you that it’ll be better in the box; outside the box, it’s dangerous. It’s harmful. It’s sinful. It’s dirty. That’s a message I heard when I was still small and vulnerable to falsehoods disguised as supreme wisdom. It’s a message that’s hard to erase. It’s etched into you.

Outside the box, you won’t be okay. The fact that you’re thinking of getting out of the box means you’re ill or lost—or worse. Of  course you’re tempted by what’s outside: you’re essentially wicked, or at the very least unable to make the best kind of decisions on your own, because you’re not entirely in your right mind. Curiosity is bad. It’ll get you into trouble. Read Genesis again.

Now, the more loving authorities will say that their god loves you even if you decide to leave the box. But the truth is that he doesn’t love you as much as he does if you stay inside, like a good boy or girl.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” ~ 1 John 2:1
That’s the type of message I was exposed to, again and again: an infantilizing message that causes you to question everything you do, every thought you have. Can you really trust yourself? No. You’re too proud, or flawed, or blind, or whatever else. Being human is never good enough. You have to listen to Jesus, to the priest, to the elder, to the teacher, to the guru, to the master. You have to be obedient, and surrender yourself. You’re helpless without the one who knows better than you do.

You have to be guided by perfect rules and commandments. And you have to have the correct understanding of these rules and commandments. There are wolves and demons everywhere, eager to deceive you and lead you astray, both outside the box and inside your ailing self. Do you see now why you need strict guidelines, and overseers, and gates all around you?

No garment of mixed linen and wool must come upon you. Sheep to the right, goats to the left.

I’m genderqueer. I’m coloring outside the lines. I like to mix things up. This has been a “problem” for me for a long time. I feel happier, more comfortable, more at home in my skin when I wear masculine clothing, when I cut my hair. I’m not statuesque and look like a delicate, feminine man—what could be more blasphemous? I can’t look like someone who might have a Holy Penis when I don’t have one, right? I should know my rightful place. I can’t cross the line.

But I cross the line. Every time I do, I can see that it’s an arbitrary, imaginary line at that, just as imaginary as the religious fictions I once believed were true.

I can see why there are so many bizarre-sounding prohibitions in “sacred” texts. Once you start questioning what you’re told, there’s a fine line indeed between slavery and freedom; but if you’re fine with being forbidden not to mix linen and wool, whatever the fuck that even means, there’s not much you’ll question.

When I was still a Christian, I embraced a very mystical way of understanding the texts, one that left nobody outside of divine love—not even the devil. Everything would eventually be restored by love, everyone would find their way back to the waiting, open arms of love. My experience was that this radically inclusive way of looking at the world has two consequences. First, you reject the box—you need to go outside the box to love everyone—and then, the box simply disappears. You realize that there was never any need for it. It only existed because you were willing to live in it and let it enclose you.

Slowly but surely, you see that the world is what it is. Messy, sure, but also beautiful. Stupendous.

The dire warnings of preachers fade away, the old books crumble to dust.

There’s nothing to be afraid of. Me, my ties, my growing collection of tattoos, my thirst for knowledge, the people I love, the world I'm in, we’re all completely fine. There’s always room for growth, but that’s not the same as saying there’s something inherently wrong with me and everything else, that we’re afflicted by an existential mark or spiritual disease. No pure system will make our troubles and pain disappear; no amount of religious winnowing will create some sort of enchanted world where humanity is safe from disaster and questions and death.

Death isn’t the proof that we’re somehow cursed; it’s just something that happens because we’re physical and mortal. That’s all.

When the box, the “refuge” I’d lived began to waver like a mirage, one of the first things I did was start wearing men’s clothes, and it felt wonderful. More and more, I reintegrated, in a manner of speaking, the material nature of what I am. I saw that being material isn’t inferior to being a “spirit.” I learned, finally, about evolution, which made so more sense than any of the woo and fairy tales I’d been taught, and I realized that my brain is a fantastic illusionist. It’s vital to be knowledgeable about the nature of things, otherwise we’ll be fooled not only by every peddler of hogwash out there, but by our own brain, because of the way it works.

I’m so glad I crossed the line. I’m so glad I spiced up my life and sowed mixed seeds in my field. That’s when a multitude of flowers came out of the ground, all different and colorful and wild. The universe is more wondrous to me now than it ever was, and no eternal perfection could make my human moment in our universe more joyful and precious than it already is, exactly like this, with its ups and downs, its tears and laughter, its beginning and end.

Logospilgrim ( is a writer, renegade, and cosmic love vagabond, a secular humanist and gonzo maverick. You can find her books on her website,, and Amazon. She recently published There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life

"In There's a Hula Girl on my Dashboard: How I Left Faith Behind and Embraced Life, writer, lecturer, and maverick Logospilgrim candidly shares the remarkable and passionate journey that took her from religious belief to secular humanism."

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Militant Islamic Group Promises Not to Kill Non-Muslims if Sharia Law is Imposed!

Militant group is totally down with freedom of expression unless it challenges their religion. (source)
What a relief! Militant Islamic group Ansar al-Islam -- which considers itself a brother with Al Qaeda -- made a press release in the wake of those Bangladesh coldblooded broad daylight barbaric slaughterings of atheist bloggers, just to remind us that atheists are A-Okay, with some caveats.

They're totally cool with atheists and bloggers. Hey! You can blog all you like! However, blogging and atheism at the same time is probably not so cool. Just don't question Islam or Allah, you know - shut the fuck up or die, okay?
"We have no problem with the atheists bloggers, atheism or with other religions or belief but we will not tolerate anyone insulting our Prophet Muhammad. We are targeting those who are insulting our Prophet Muhammad in the name of atheism, the Ansar says.
I'll be looking forward to reading a whole new generation of Bangladeshi atheist blogs where people don't critique religion, God or anything, just to see how they'll get around having no content whatsoever.

Take comfort though, atheists. Because even if you are a Muslim, if you present Islam in a wrong manner through your writings or preach Islam the wrong way, you're also probably going to get hacked to death.
Those who present Islam in a wrong manner through his or her writings will be targeted. We will also target those who try and preach Islam the wrong way. You may be a well known writer or a poet. You have the right to think what you want, but you have no right to preach against Islam, the warning states. 
I know my favourite kind of poetry is self-censored religious fundamentalist terrorist group approved poetry. Yes, that's so inspiring.

This might sound like double speak bordering on the ridiculous. Or like some sort of completely psychotic threat...
The Ansar says that the targets are not the non-Muslims. Every non-Muslim has a right to live and think the way he or she wants. Being a non-Muslim does not make you our target, the Ansar says.

However if anyone is trying to advocate against Islam or trying to change the mind of the people, they will be targeted for sure, the Ansar has further warned.
Hey, you can go right ahead and say whatever you like. Just be aware that if you express your beliefs in public, we'll have to kill you.

Well, that makes me feel much better. Thanks for the reassuring message!

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