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

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ray Comfort's Got Stephen Hawking Totally Beat When it Comes to God & Cosmology!

(source)
Making fun of Ray Comfort is this sort of crack cocaine that I simply cannot resist.

In a recent episode of The Nono Comfort Zone, Ray sits in front of a green screen and calls Stephen Hawking a big old fool!

It's because Hawking doesn't believe in God, and the Bible says anyone who doesn't believe in God is a fool: QED. Hawking wrote that there is no need for a god to bring the Universe into existence because we have scientific theories -- which he is very much in the know of, but is he really a match for Ray Comfort?

However, when it comes to cosmology, Ray's got the upper hand on Stephen Hawking -- how long has Hawking been studying this whole creation of the universe thing anyway, right?? Ray knows that his BIBLE tells us that God created everything, not whatever Hawking says. Scientific evidence -- shmevidence! Mathematical plausibility -- shmausibility!

Incidentally, Ray's co-host confuses Stephen Hawking with Stephen King. I suppose they both make up un-Christian horror stories anyway. Believe the Bible. DO NOT QUESTION.

Oh, and Ray knows that nobody can be an atheist anyway! Because his atheists, who are all made completely of straw, know there is no god. Ray's got the Bible while atheists got nothing to prove with, so they unproof poof right out of existence.

Ray ignores the very real position of being an agnostic atheist, of course. Because how can you be an agnostic non existing atheist? The non in that equation translates over to the beginning of that equation and cancels out the atheist:

agnostic( non ( existing ( atheist ) ) ) → non ( agnostic ( existing (atheist ) ) )

... and unproof POOF! See! Atheists do not exist!

Just watch it. Just give it a watch.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Why Do They Remain Religious?

Still from The Salesmen (1968) a documentary about door-to-door Bible salesmen.
Getting a little reading done while on Thanksgiving vacation. Here's yet another insightful snippet from Carolyn Hyppolite's Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist.
What seems striking to me now is that no one in the room who found the instances of Biblical violence disturbing and the interpretation presented to us problematic allowed themselves to come to the obvious conclusion that this book cannot possibly be a morally infallible guide from an omnibenevolent deity. The only person in the room who had rid himself of cognitive dissonance was the leader and he had done so by concluding that God ordering genocide is good, wholesome theology. His conclusions had the virtue of being intellectually consistent but morally repugnant as well as potentially dangerous. The majority seemed to have no good alternative reading on the matter but they did not like it; they seemed to be hoping and praying, as I was, that God and time would offer some resolution. As far as I know, no one decided to not be a Christian from that Bible study. It is highly probable that like me, they just pretended that the problem did not exist or put solving it into some indeterminate time in the future.
Sometimes, I think that (well meaning) atheists who were never raised within a religious household simply do not get this. Just demonstrating how cruel or illogical religion is will not usually dent years of indoctrination and emotional investment. That said, I do think it does corrode faith over time, I'll testify to that.

Oddly enough, I didn't run into this sort of thing until after I mostly left Catholicism. Talk to any Catholic and they'll likely tell you they almost never read the Bible. It wasn't until after I started my journey away from religion that I finally sat down and read.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Some Quick Responses to Atheist Claims


It's a long weekend here in Canada for Thanksgiving. So, get the hell away from your extended family, lock yourself into the bathroom and fire up your laptop to get a little sanity break before the turkey eating begins.

If you don't have anything worthwhile to read, then perhaps you could do one of those Cosmo sex quizzes while hiding out from your blood relatives. If you don't have an old copy of Cosmo lying around -- who doesn't? -- then maybe this will do to pass the time.

Ten quick responses to atheist claims
At the London Evangelists' Conference yesterday, Professor John Lennox offered some quick responses to some common claims from atheists.
Give it a read you'll very likely find yourself wondering how anyone could take them seriously and re-affirm your complete lack of belief in god. Or you could become a born again Christian, which would no doubt make for a memorable Thanksgiving dinner.

Number One is a response to Yahweh being yet one more god that atheists do not believe in, in addition to the multitude of pagan gods Christians don't take seriously. Lennox's response sounds like special pleading.
"There is a vast distinction between all of the Ancient near eastern gods and the God of the Bible," said Prof Lennox. "They are products of the primeval mass and energy of the universe. The God of the Bible created the heavens and the earth".
Does that not require one to believe in this god to begin with?

Number Two first posits a straw man atheist who proclaims that science explains everything and there is no need for god. No, science doesn't claim to explain everything but where's the proof that God did anything around here?
Science cannot answer certain kinds of questions, such as 'what is ethical?' and 'what is beautiful?' Even when it comes to questions about the natural world, which science does explore and can sometimes answer, there are different types of explanations for different things.
I'd like to see how religion can explain what is ethical or beautiful. Because it seems to me like there is a great deal of confusion within the Bible itself on these points.

Number Three ...
"If we're being offered a choice between science and god... it is not a biblical concept of god," said Prof Lennox. "The biblical God is not a god of the gaps, but a God of the whole show. The bits we do understand [through science] and the bits we don't.
How about the bits we do understand is science and the bits we don't are simply bits we don't?

There's more, including the statement that Christianity is evidence-based faith! None of them are particularly convincing, but perhaps they're just meant to put some questioning Christians' minds at ease.

They do make interesting reading while you get away from the in-laws.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Video of Carolyn Hyppolite's 'Still Small Voices' Book Launch

Carolyn Hyppolite speaking at CFI Toronto (source)
Back in July, I posted promoting a talk at CFI by author Carolyn Hyppolite in celebration of the launch of her new book Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist. She was nice enough to send me a copy of the book and I have so far produced one short review on the first half. Spoiler alert: It is a refreshing read about a compelling personal story.

Well, a video of the talk has now been released!  I haven't had a chance to watch the whole thing yet, but will definitely give it a watch this weekend!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Duck Dynasty GOP Candidate Exposes That Atheist 'YOLO' Saying


That Zach Dasher related-to-Duck-Dynasty-GOP-candidate guy has this podcast where he said things and keeps saying things. The podcast is a goldmine. Back in 2012, he said something a little like this over on his Facebook page.
YOLO right? About a year ago I started to notice all this YOLO business. YOLO on T-shirts, YOLO on wrist bands. YOLO stands for YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. Rap artist Drake made the phrase famous with his number one hit titled, guess what....YOLO. The lyrics are pornographic so I would not recommend you download it. But what about the message in the title? Do we only live once? If the atheist is correct then yes, you only live once. You have about 80 years if you are lucky. And then it's six feet under you go to push up daisies. If this is all there is I have a bit of advice for you. Go get after it. Consume as much as you can for tomorrow you die. The most dangerous part of YOLO is not the porn lyrics but the clearly atheistic message that has brainwashed a generation. But I have a message for the YOLO generation. A new T-shirt, a new wrist band, a new song, and a new way. IT's YCL2. YOU CAN LIVE TWICE! If the historical accounts of the resurrection are true, then we have proof that our 80 years here are just the first life. We have proof that there will be a 2nd life. It you only live once, live for the moment like an animal driven by instinct. But if you can live twice, use your rational ability to plan for that second life. Folks the bottom line is this, Drake and Little Wayne are wrong and Jesus was right. YOU CAN LIVE TWICE!
Ah yes, The Atheist(tm). That over-generalized guy made entirely of straw who's destroying our youth with vile messages like you'd better get the most of this life because it's the only one you've got.

I'll admit that I've likely only heard this song playing in grocery stores or perhaps in passing. So I don't really recall it. Apparently the saying has gotten flak for being too facile and a catch-all excuse people use for doing stupid and irresponsible things.

Anyway, according to Wikipedia, the phrase goes back much further than this rapper guy, Drake.
The phrase "you only live once" is commonly attributed to Mae West, but variations of the phrase have been in use for over 100 years, including as far back as (the German equivalent of) "one lives but once in the world" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his 1774 play Clavigo and as the title of a waltz, "Man lebt nur einmal!" ("You Only Live Once!") by Johann Strauss II in 1855.
Anyway, all this nuttiness fits into Dasher's religious worldview like peanuts in a Snickers bar. It's no surprise they are there, but it just wouldn't be as delicious if they were gone. The whole production makes for a fascinating and amusing treat. So, I think it's a stretch for Rawstory to refer to this as an atheist conspiracy. Dasher is merely pointing out an evil secular, atheist, secular humanist atheist culture which he sees as pervading the music industry. Nothing new here coming from The Fundamentalist Christian(tm).

Still, what's so wrong with seeing this life as the only one and not wasting it? I'm not talking about doing stupid stuff and then justifying it by yelling YOLO like an idiot -- although, hey, whatever you want -- I'm talking about making the very most out of every day. It's actually a pretty positive message. Even in the unlikely event you do make it up to the pearly gates, what do you think old St. Peter would think if you didn't make the most of this life you were given?

Kenyan Transgender Woman Wins High Court Battle For Her Own Identity

Audrey Mbugua (source)
There is this awesomely courageous woman in Kenya, Audrey Mbugua. A year ago, I wrote a post about how she was born 'male' -- a gender she was never comfortable with. She was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorders/Transsexualism by a psychiatrist in 2008 and dropped her birth name of 'Andrew' for a new name which matched her true gender identification: 'Audrey.' However, certain government agencies refused to change the name on critical documents.

One such agency was the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) which refused to change the name and sex on her high school certificate, jeopardizing her job prospects.
Kenya is a conservative country where transgender people find it virtually impossible to get work because of the discrepancy between the gender on their certificates and the one they present as.
Well, the good news is that the High Court has ruled in Audrey's favour! It could not find any valid reason for the KNEC to deny her request -- although I can guess it's likely wrapped up in some sort of irrational beliefs or prejudices: religious qualms.

Court orders KNEC to replace transgender Audrey Mbugua’s certificate recognising new name
In a landmark ruling, Audrey Mbugua, a transgender who stunned the country with her intentions of being recognised as a woman can now celebrate after the High Court ordered the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) to comply with her wishes.

Knec now has 45 days to replace Audrey's Kenya Certificate of secondary School Certificate (KCSE) from Andrew Mbugua Ithibu to Audrey Mbugua Ithibu.

High Court Judge Justice Weldon Korir ordered that the certificate be printed without a gender mark adding that Audrey meets any extra costs required.
I'm not sure why they decided to not simply force the agency to check female on the certificate, since this is the social construct which probably most resembles Audrey's gender identification, but this is definitely still a huge win for Audrey.
“We won,” Mbugua told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It’s a huge watershed moment.
Her work has not gone unnoticed internationally either.
Mbugua has been nominated for the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip Award for her innovative and courageous work.

“One cannot fail to be impressed while watching Audrey Mbugua, arguably Kenya’s most famous transsexual, hop from one interview to the next,” one commentator wrote last year in Africa Review.
Audrey is also an out atheist in a country that is very conservative religious. So she's one strong and brave human being.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Neal Larson Doesn't Care For 'Militant Atheists' At All

By Kyle Flood from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (Waaah!) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Neal Larson, over at Magic Valley, admits it. He doesn't like militant atheists and he would discriminate against them -- he would even use an epithet to refer to them as well. I guess sort of like epithets we hear against other minorities. You know, he's just laying it all out there.
I have a confession: I’m guilty of discrimination against militant, activist atheists. I simply don’t like them. If there were an epithet to describe them, I’d probably use it regularly. I would refuse to vote for a proud and vocal atheist for high office, regardless of any offsetting credentials.
Mr. Larson is sick and tired of people being proud and vocal about their atheism -- why can't they just shut up and go back into hiding?

It's okay, though. I have a confession. I wouldn't vote for a strident and militant anti-atheist like Larson either. Unlike him though, I have and will vote for qualified leaders who happen to be religious if their politics properly align with my own and I'm pretty certain that so do even the most militant atheists out there. I do vote based on credentials -- which must include a healthy respect for secularism and anti-science fundamentalism.

Of course, Larson is quick to bring out the tried and true 'Some of my best friends are atheists' -- well, agnostics -- because, he doesn't get along with anyone who's confident and vocal in their disbelief. If only their would all stop forming their groups and pointing out his Christian privilege all over the place.
Those are examples of unintrusive atheism. I have good friends who are agnostic, and I enjoy their friendship.
By agnostic he means those who simply remain mute about their lack of belief and do not call themselves atheist -- or whichever epithet he chooses. He's not talking about agnostic atheists like me who are confident in their disbelief but lack any definitive knowledge of the non-existence of a god. I'd try to explain this to him, but I doubt he'd be interested in listening.

He prefers his friends metaphysical positions to be as unintrusive as possible -- lest they create confusion and chaos  in his settled spirituality. At some point, the thinking and questioning must stop and the mind settles into unquestioning faith.
Everyone at some point in life should put all philosophical options on the table and fearlessly explore them, then choose in good faith and forge ahead. But to deliberately aim to create confusion and chaos in those who are spiritually settled is despicable.
Oh, and Larson also doesn't seem to get secularism -- or else he's being deliberately misleading. Much of the rest of this angry screed is nothing more than his proving that he has no respect for any sort of separation of state and church at all. We're not trying to forbid anyone from their public displays of faith -- just please stop expecting the government to endorse them or afford any special privileges.

He seems like an angry person. He's even got problems with groups like the Sunday Assembly.
In recent years, atheism has tried creating the equivalent of what believers build to express their faith. Churches, hymns, missionaries, even a sort of clergy have cropped up as either an effort to elevate atheism to a place of acceptance and moral equivalence, or toss a big dose of mockery at those who truly believe in God - a deliberate muddling of what it means to have faith.

Really now, does he really think that our disbelief is all about him and other believers?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Some 'Context' For Zach Dasher: Atheists, Post Modernists, Hitler, Free Orgasms.

Sean Hannity, Zach Dasher and the Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson (seated, middle) -- Video interview ‘My Platform Begins With God’: ‘Duck Dynasty’ Nephew Zach Dasher Running for Congress on Fox News (source).
Hold the presses! Zach Dasher is clarifying his rather controversial views about atheists that set off a bit of a furor last week when someone dug them off a 2012 episode of his podcast.

Here's a quote from his podcast the media tried to nail him on last week seemingly blaming atheists for the Sandy Hook massacre:
“He was made in the image of God,” Dasher said of the shooter. “But somewhere along the way he believed what the atheist says. He reduced humanity to nothing more than a collection of atoms, to be discarded like an old banana peel. I guarantee you, now this is my hypothesis, that even saw himself as nothing more than chemicals.”
Well, on the 28th, he set the record straight (italics mean sarcasm) and Glenn Beck's The Blaze has the important scoop.
“I thought it was dishonest … It was a soundbite put in a way to give the impression that I was blaming Sandy Hook on atheists,” he said of recent coverage. “I’m not suggesting that all atheists are evil or that all religious people are good. There’s good people in both groups.”
So, I went hunting for the entire podcast and gave it a listen. It sounded like something from a fundamentalist Christian sermon and it turns out Dasher is involved in the campus ministry for Church of Christ at the University Church of Christ at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

It's an entertaining listen and I'm not really sure how the media took his words out of context. The more of this podcast I listen to, the more I think he did blame Sandy Hook on atheism. I mean, he says it several times -- practically beats you over the head with it. You can probably skip ahead three minutes or so.


Willing to Think: "Why Did This Happen?"

Here's a little context. Skip to 21 minutes after his long pro-gun rant:

Why did the shooter murder children at Sandy Hook... and the Holocaust happened as well?
He has in some way, rejected reality. He has rejected the reality that man is made in the image of God and because of that he is infinitely precious. Why would a man kill six million Jews? Because he has rejected that those Jews he is killing are made in the image of God and that they are infinitely precious. They are valuable. They are not to be discarded and burned up in Auschwitz. ... ... You cannot take human life that way when you understand that man is made in the image of God.

These children that were killed in Connecticut were made for a purpose. To be honest with you, even the killer himself was made for a purpose, he was made in the image of God, but somewhere along the way, he believed what the atheist says. He reduced humanity to nothing more than a collection of atoms... 
You see, Dasher doesn't seem to believe in mental illness. Instead, he thinks that postmodernism and atheism have eroded morality such that people don't value human life whatsoever. So why aren't more atheists going around killing people? Are atheists like zombies and don't kill each other -- is this how zombies work?

After explaining that the gunman likely believed he was nothing more than a collection of atoms, and that his motivation wasn't mental illness but rather a strong need to matter.  He brings atheists back up with palpable contempt in his voice at 24 minutes:
The atheist agenda, that has permeated every corner of our society is reinforcing this message: you don't matter, you don't matter, all you are is chemical, all you are is material. And we send our kids, we send our beautiful little children to these state ran (sic) schools with their program with the Darwinian world-view that all they are is material.
He then goes into a long creepy rant about how pornography is materialism. He, of course, finds a way to rope in atheism -- cuz he apparently has a very very serious problem with atheism.
Porn at its core is materialism. Sex and porn is reduced to the material. Bodies. Bodies being used in the most superficial form. It's not even real. And this is where atheism and postmodernity join hands. This is where the atheist grabs hands with the postmodernist thinker and they join hands and they march together. Because atheism says all there is is material and the postmodern says all that matters is the material ... and they find that common ground and they indoctrinate our children with this bankrupt philosophy...
Atheism means no god -- that's it! Does he even know what postmodernism means?

I wonder what his plans are for dealing with this atheist problem. Does he fantasize about erecting Christian versions of theocratic countries like Saudi Arabia? I hear they are exceptionally socially conservative, very religiously pious and are very fiscally responsible too. And the beards in his family! Dasher told Sean Hannity he would grow out a beard, but he's got to be the professional one. He could grow a beard in Saudi Arabia and his views on a lot of things would be an absolute hit if he only accepted fundamentalist Islam instead of fundamentalist Christianity.

Anyway, at 26 minutes, he goes into this creepy medieval Christian courtship and sex at the wedding night story followed by an even more scary and absurd rant about how kids are masturbating to porn! They are getting their rocks off in a matter of minutes instead of years of waiting! I get the sense that he doesn't think this is at all fair.
Our kids can experience sexual climax with aided porn -- (finger snap) -- in a matter of seconds. What should take years to accomplish and what should cost everything can now be experienced in a matter of seconds with no risk, no work, no goodbye, it's a FREE ORGASM.
Weird... Was this man ever 13? I'm reasonably certain that masturbation existed before the Internet. Was this just some kind of story about him?

He goes on to attack secularism and the separation of church and state -- FFRF etc. You know the drill.

So here's another one just for fun:
If you freely choose, I want your mind to override physics, to override your biology and I want you to do this. I want your mind, right now, to tell tell your physical arm to raise itself up in the air ... ... Did it work? Did this little experiment work?! Did your mind freely choose to take control of your physics?! ... ... You told your arm to raise up in the air and it did exactly what you said and you took control of your own physics, of your own biology!
My own physics?

Oh my God! I never considered that. He's a philosopher! Put him in office right now!

As a Canadian, I'm both highly amused and greatly shocked that surreal characters like this can even get this close to high levels of power in the world's most powerful country. Doesn't anyone else find this terrifying?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Author: Christians Need to Embrace Theistic Atheism To Save The Church?

Still from Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil (source)
I've written about New York Times Bestselling author Frank Schaeffer before back when he was promoting his latest book about being an atheist who believes in God. At the time I wondered how the book could ever possibly work and it broke my mind organ. It makes no sense, but people apparently love it and spend their money on it.

Well, Schaeffer is back with an incomprehensible article in Huffington Post which makes me honestly wonder where the bar is for what will get published or not on their site. He is once again promoting his book -- citing its title twice within the very short piece, just so everyone is clear on where they can purchase it. The jarringly contradictory title is mind-numbingly Orwellian: To Save the Church: Embrace Atheism as the True Religion and Religion as The True Atheism. Oh, my head. I originally had a photo of the Ministry of Truth above, but I decided to just post a visual symbolizing how his article made me feel.

I have little to say in in the way of substantial commentary, as the word salads often approach Deepak Chopra levels of quantum incomprehensibility.
Science can't be addressed by opening another food pantry or thumping the Bible a little harder and screaming words like inerrancy. Science can only be addressed by all sides in the religion debate admitting that religion is a neurological disorder and that faith is the only cure.
Does this mean give up thinking?
Until more people leading churches describe themselves honestly as atheists who also believe in God, fewer and fewer younger people will take the church leaders' faith claims seriously.
What is he talking about?
Until more people leading churches describe themselves honestly as atheists who also sometimes believe in God, fewer and fewer younger people will take the church leaders' faith claims seriously. Young men and women being raised now know that the truth claims of both social/justice progressives and fundamentalists are bogus. They know this because we're entering the age of quantum uncertainty.
Does this have anything to do with the Age of Aquarius?
We are in the era of the multiverse (meta-universe) a hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes. If we're in a multiverse reality, then our laws of physics only apply in our particular bubble, not everywhere. This is bad news for physicists, not to mention for theologians. On the other hand, if we are in a multiverse, this is bad news for rationalists too. It means that in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, anything can happen, including God manifesting itself in Christ.
I think he might be saying that with infinite or near infinite universes it is statistically possible for God and Jesus to exist. To which I respond that it is just as likely that pink chainsaw wielding unicorns dressed like Liberace could fly giant toasters about. Can we have some sort of evidence, please -- related to this universe?

It gets less and less comprehensible as it progresses.

The really disturbing thing is that the book itself seems to have glowing reviews over at Amazon.  People -- mostly Christian, I believe -- seem to be eating this God-believing-atheist, white-is-black, day-is-night stuff all up.

Perhaps, in some twisted up way, this blog post might help sell more copies of his book. Because it seems that anyone who would enjoy it would be unlikely to agree with much of what I write anyway.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Americans Sure Are Talking About Those Atheists These Days!

This whole situation's gone to the Birds.
I usually shy away from commenting about all the really interesting things going on in the United States. Usually, I feel ill-equipped to make any sort of useful commentary and Hemant Mehta or Jerry Coyne usually cover it really well anyway. Sometimes, though, I cannot help but point stuff out -- sort of like your clueless Canadian uncle come down to the family reunion who, with the patience of a saint, must explain that our bacons are in fact identical. A man who refuses to pronounce house or boot incorrectly.

I'm working off less than four hours of sleep here, so I will not stumble to the point. It seems like people are talking a whole lot about atheists in the U.S of A. these days. I mean, I'm not able to even keep up with folks telling us all to stop behaving like Dawkins or Maher, or telling us we all should be Kirks instead of Spocks or that Sam Harris has turned us all Buddhist or that being atheist makes you an anti-Christ! Just look it all up on Google! Who can keep their food down these days? It's pretty wild.

We're surrounded on all sides! Troop morale is at an all time low as they peck at our eyeballs while simultaneously complaining they're the most persecuted group in the country! Barricade the doors! Stock up on canned beans! The irony meter has burst past Defcon 5 and we should all retreat soon cower in our bomb shelters or under staircases!

No doubt, the release of Nicholas Cage and Left Behind will spell the end of all of us. We'll all likely facepalm ourselves to death,but until then we have these two devastating occurrences -- prophesying much worse future calamity.

First off, there is this man in the United States who shares DNA with Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. We can remember Phil as being the guy who kept saying wild and irrational things about the gays and who very recently suggested that ISIS needs to be converted to Christianity under threat of death -- a point of view remarkably similar to the folks over at ISIS.  Well, his nephew, Republican House Candidate Zach Dasher, very obviously shares the bits of DNA that control brain-mouth functions with his uncle Phil.

GOP House Candidate: ‘Atheist Agenda’ Caused Sandy Hook Shooting
“He was made in the image of God,” Dasher said of the shooter. “But somewhere along the way he believed what the atheist says. He reduced humanity to nothing more than a collection of atoms, to be discarded like an old banana peel. I guarantee you, now this is my hypothesis, that even saw himself as nothing more than chemicals.”
Let this sink in for a moment. He's saying that an atheist cannot help but have a reduced view of humanity and that they must also see themselves as being depraved or sub human. This seems to be a common and highly concerning point of view among theists. I cannot help but think that it's dehumanization like this that can lead to some pretty gruesome actions. Oh, and did I mention this guy is running for the House? I thought I would repeat that to emphasize the absurdity of this situation.
He also said those who blamed the shooting on loose gun laws or mental illness were missing the point: “To blame the acts of a mass murderer on mental illness, for one, is a slap in the face, I think, to reason. It’s the equivalent of blaming lung cancer on coughing.”
No, instead he's implying that anyone who doesn't believe in his god becomes depraved and sub human enough to commit mass murder. I cringe to think what might happen if he should ever try to stop all this mass murder at its root. I wonder how that might go down.

The only thing I can agree with this guy on is his disdain for postmodernism! Well, that's a relief.

In second place here is Jessa Duggar, one of the 19 Duggar children whom Ken Ham recently praised for visiting his Creationism Museum. She had something to say about atheism too.

Jessa Duggar News 2014: ’19 Kids & Counting' Star Angers Fans With Atheism Rant On Instagram


(Nevermind the video on that page, it's just an advert for her new book.)
In her post, Duggar wrote, "Atheism - the belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs. Makes perfect sense."
Magically, eh? I'm not sure why she would have such a problem with that since the family apparently is all for the magic thing according to a new book she wrote along with 3 of her sisters.
"Magic, sorcery, witches, spell-casting and the like are all part of the demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from. One specific thing that our parents have always been careful about is magic, which often shows up in children's movies. As harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes," sisters Jill, Jessa, Jana and Jinger in their book, Growing Up Duggar.
Yeah, seems like anything goes in a belief system like that, while atheist types quite often rely on this thing called science. Did Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar not teach their kids science when they were home schooled? How am I to take her post about atheism seriously at all if she believes in witches and spell-casting and demons?

Jessa, why not pick up a copy of Why Evolution is True? Or any university level course might do.

Why does our culture put such value on those who have such a blatant and open disdain for science?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

OMG! Anti-Christs! OMG!


I just learned something tonight! Author and Certified Accountant, John Dillard (or Gary?), over at Christian Post blog just informed me that not only can a little horn and first beast be the anti-Christ. It turns out that anyone could be the anti-Christ! THEY COULD BE EVERYWHERE!

Who Is the Anti-Christ?
Have you ever thought that the anti-Christ may be one of your best friends? How about sitting next to you at a sporting event? Or how about he may be baby-sitting your children or teaching them at school? Did you know that any atheist is anti-Christ? Also any agnostic is also an anti-Christ! While we are at it let's see what the Bible defines as the anti-Christ.
Tiny little anti-Christlets all over the place -- multiplying like TRIBBLES! They could be anywhere -- taking care of your kids! Teaching your kids real good.

They also walk in GAY PRIDE PARADES! Just take a look at the picture on the article. Anti-Christs, indeed.

I guess I'm supposed to be an anti-Christ now? I just don't have enough time.

Listen, dude, I don't hate Jesus. He had some mostly decent things to say most of the time -- well, whoever wrote his lines.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Egyptian Government "Putting Youth On Right Path" By Stamping Out Atheism


So, the Egyptian government is doing its duty to stamp out the existential threat of poverty class inequality gender inequality homophobia disease poor public education ranking censorship religious intolerance human rights violations television belly dancing contests. No wait, belly dancing and atheism too. Yes atheism is a big threat to Egypt. Well, at least the government seems to have that one covered. Now you must all believe in the government!

The Guardian has some interesting news about how Egypt is implementing its hip new Just Say No To No God campaign. It's tucked away in this story about post Morsi Egypt -- which seems to be increasingly resembling during- and before-Morsi Egypt, or so I've been told.

Religion still leads the way in post-Morsi Egypt
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is not afraid to use faith to push the state's narrative – but the climate and the rhetoric have cooled

The article has a nice picture of a beach which could symbolize a cooler more refreshing -- less stuffy -- Egypt. They are apparently ramping up the offensive against atheists but other than that... chill. It talks about how interwoven (meddlesome) religion remains in Egyptian government: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Here's the first bit about atheism.
The work of Neamat Saty, a civil servant at Egypt's youth ministry, shows how. She is setting up a taskforce to combat atheism among the young. Under her plans, hundreds of lecturers, religious leaders and psychologists will go to the 27 provinces next year to discourage the young from turning to what she says are the two faces of extremism: jihadism and atheism.

"Atheists say there is no resurrection, no heaven or hell – so they think they're free to do whatever they want," said Saty. "If you don't believe in life after death, you won't have limits in your life – and that causes problems in society."
It's so neat to see the same tired canards about how us atheists just run about like madmen killing, raping, and pillaging with wanton abandon because we're free to do what we want. I mean, just look at Sweden and other Scandinavian countries! When they're not trying to sell us that furniture that comes in plain cardboard boxes that we need to put together with pictograph manuals and little L-keys -- which I have about 1,000 of now! Obviously Satanic! -- they're all out discretely running people down with their Saabs! Neamat Saty knows. She's a politician.

I wonder if she realizes how frightening I find statements like hers. Does she secretly wish to do these things herself? Is she craving to do some bigtime harm to herself and others deep down in her heart? It sounds that way to me. I must be a dysfunctional atheist as I have neglected to do such things. I don't like hurting people or being reckless. I don't even drink. I even have five year old I haven't cooked yet. Shame on me. What kind of atheist am I?
Weeks before Saty's scheme was announced, the police chief in Egypt's second city, Alexandria, promised to arrest a group of atheists who had publicised their beliefs on social media. In the past month, Dar el-Ifta, the wing of the justice ministry that issues religious edicts, may have condemned the extremism of Isis – but it has also condemned both belly-dancing and online communication between men and women. Elsewhere, convictions on blasphemy charges have continued, and the oppression of Egypt's gay community has intensified.
Sounds a tiny bit like zero regard for human rights whatsoever. In fact it's all sounding a little bit like a steady march to complete theocracy like what happened in Iran.
Decisions over the content of Friday sermons have been centralised, while Sisi has often used religious rhetoric to rally both soldiers and the public. "We are God-fearing people," he said in a televised speech just weeks after deposing Morsi. "If anyone thinks they can defeat those who fear God, they are delusional." 
The government comes right out and says this is a campaign of censorship and the use of religion to solidify government power -- straight up theocracy.
A project such as Neamat Saty's – which aims to tackle both jihadist and atheist thought – exemplifies the state's approach: a silencing of extremist rhetoric that nevertheless goes hand in hand with the use of religion to solidify government control. "It's not interfering in people's lives," she said. "It's correcting wrong concepts. We are just putting the youth on the right path."
Not interfering with people's lives... oh I meant most people's lives.

The government is also doing its citizenry a typically fascist/theocratic favour. They are very nicely telling them how they must think and what they must believe. How nice of them.

The article ends with a quote from Alber Saber, so kudos for that:
"The problem is not from the government – it's from society. The government is taking its lead from society. Society needs to be secularised first."
Although, a functioning judicial that honors basic human rights can go a long way to change hearts and minds. Oh well.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Study: In US Atheists Seen as Greatest Threat to Moral Values

It's Monday so today is not the day to be happy. Let us all now be depressed after reading this latest study which apparently shows that atheists are seen as the greatest threat to moral values to society.

Confirming and expanding upon previous research, a newly published paper reports that, in the minds of many, atheists are deeply threatening. Specifically, they are seen as posing a danger to the value systems that unite us.
The synopsis of the actual paper (which is behind a paywall), No Good Without God: Antiatheist Prejudice as a Function of Threats to Morals and Values spells out grim results.
A sociofunctional, threat-based approach to prejudice suggests that perceived outgroup threats lead people to act to minimize those threats. In 2 experiments the current research explores how perceived threats to values affect antiatheist prejudices. In Experiment 1 we found that atheists were perceived to pose significantly greater threats to values, and elicit greater moral disgust, than other groups also perceived to pose values-related threats (gay men, Muslims). In Experiment 2 we randomly assigned participants to read either a news story detailing moral decline—priming values threats—or a control story. Following the values-threat prime, participants reported increased negative affect and greater discriminatory intentions toward atheists, but not toward students or other groups (gay men or people with HIV). Together, these experiments suggest that perceptions of threats to values are associated with, and negatively affect, antiatheist prejudice. We discuss our findings’ theoretical implications for a sociofunctional, threat-based approach to prejudice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
Research team leader, Skidmore College psychologist Corey Cook, has a theory about why atheists are apparently so feared and despised -- and in my opinion television and film portrayal of atheists do nothing to counter this.
“Atheists are stereotyped to be (among other things) cynical, skeptical, and nonconformist,” they write. “Individuals perceived to endorse conflicting values, or who fail to openly endorse group values, could threaten to undermine performance and success of the group as a whole by failing to adhere to group norms.”

“Although acceptance and egalitarianism are endorsed as traditional American values,” they add, “perceptions of violations to personal and group values are often seen as justification for hostile attitudes and subsequent discrimination. Such justification is reflected in the unwillingness to accept atheists as an everyday part of American society.”
Bear in mind that last paragraph. This study only applies to the US and I would imagine things would play out a whole lot differently in places like northern Europe, Ireland and the UK. 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

"Still Small Voices" -- Religious Ecstacy Fades Leaving Uncomfortable Truth

By Frank Vincentz (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I have a confession to make, I have made a terrible mistake. Back in July, author Carolyn Hippolite sent me a final draft of her new book, Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born-Again Atheist after I agreed to review it here on my blog. I was at the time on my way to Chicago to attend the Humanism at Work conference so the plan was I would get a whole lot of time on the plane to read it and then write a review... sometime.

I found the premise of her book so compelling that I put aside several other book review requests I had lying on my desk, neglected and cursing me. Eagerly, I dove right in. That's the problem though, the mistake I always make. I read half the book and realized I had been too engrossed in her story to take any proper notes for a review! So there it sat, incomplete with everyday life banging on the doors and I had no words to put to paper.

All this to say: Sorry, Carolyn!

So I now give you an eagle's eye view from the book's middle. This is not a collection of dry axioms and philosophical arguments. It is truly a testimony -- a very human story about one woman's love, revulsion and eventual escape from religion. It shows how religion can taste so very different depending on the nature of its grip on the heart and mind of the taster.

These are the sort of hush private words you hear from friends and family in confidence around the kitchen table or in the cafe over a brew. Dissecting Pascal's wager may feed the mind, but there are aspects to Carolyn's experiences that might fix better to the ground where our feet are. It's every day and is more likely to resonate in both our skull and chest.

I reopened the book today to where I left off, chapter four, and found yet another gem. Carolyn had returned to religion -- to the strictest most fervent evangelical Catholicism -- and, unlike most Catholics, was reading the Bible regularly. It was her first time reading Judges 11:29-40, where Jephthah promised God the life of whomever should walk through his door first in return for military success. His daughter ran through the door first. So he gave her two months to run around the hills weeping with her friends before she got the chop. Naturally, like any moral human being, Carolyn was utterly shocked and repulsed that God could endorse such a thing.

(pp. 79-81) Emphasis my own.
It was the first time I had read that passage. I was stunned. I was disgusted. I felt numb. I did not even attempt to understand it. I did not try to rationalize or spiritualize it. I did not try to decipher whether it was history or mythology. I accepted it and allowed the horrendousness fact of it to penetrate every cell in my body. I sat in the church in silence. I read no more. I said no prayers. I waited for the mass to start and participated normally allowing the shock that I had experienced in what I had scheduled as a time of spiritual and moral uplift to dissipate. I did not make any plans to ask a member of the clergy to explain it. I did not seek to read anything about it. After all, what could anyone say? It could not be excised from Bible. It could not be made morally acceptable through creative hermeneutics. It was irredeemable.

For whatever reason, that this was sufficient reason to doubt the inspiration of the Bible and my religious commitment never occurred to me. By this time, not being a Christian had become unthinkable. I simply made an unconscious choice to live with it. I suppose this is how we come to live in the self-deluded hypocrisy where we claim to believe in the Bible while never actually using it for our morality except on the occasions when the Bible is actually offering real moral truths. It becomes obvious at some point that there are things in the Bible that are morally abhorrent. Yet, if you have become convinced that being a Christian is God’s will, not being a Christian becomes unthinkable. Perhaps, like me, you had religious experiences that you believe to be authentic and denying that Christianity is real would be tantamount to accepting the fact that at least at some point you were delusional. Plus, you’ve told everyone enthusiastically that being a Christian is the greatest of all good. You revolved your whole life around this conviction. To change your mind at this point is highly inconvenient as well as embarrassing and so you don’t even allow the possibility to arise in your conscious mind. But here you are faced with very good evidence, enough to admit that you had made a huge ideological mistake because you had not done sufficient thinking or research. But you’re not ready to admit that. It’s too shameful so you pretend nothing has happened.

In my case, the damning evidence had the same emotional impact on me that my religious conversion had. Just as I had experienced ecstasy during my conversion experience and a few times after, I experienced a revulsion of equal magnitude that morning. When I read that story, I felt like I was there. It was very real. I felt the horror of what I would feel if I saw a man sacrifice his daughter because he had made a vow to God. Nonetheless, I did not allow that negative emotion to transform my ideology in the way that that positive emotion had. I neither concluded that the Bible was not the holy word of God nor did I conclude that it was morally acceptable to sacrifice virgin daughters because one made a vow to God. In retrospect, it now seems to me that I just went on living as if Judges 11 did not exist. I knew it was real but I seem to have chosen not to process it. Perhaps, I feared the result of processing it, but I was wholly unconscious of this fear. 
In just three emotion-filled paragraphs, Carolyn has well encapsulated the core defense mechanism of the religion meme (if you believe in memes, that is). It explains why, after hours of rational argument and solid refutations of religious claims, the religious person can continue to believe. It explains how people can read the atrocities committed in the Bible and still believe that God is an all-caring Being. It's really an emotional attachment that leads to self-delusion -- like an all-forgiving parent but in reverse.

The writing can be as clear as day on the wall, but until someone is in the right headspace to change their philosophy, reality will be warped to fit familiar and comforting beliefs -- beliefs that might answer big important troubling questions which can be like gaping sucking pits demanding to be filled.

I hope I have learned my lesson and plan to blog a couple of more times about Still Small Voices as I finish it off; small manageable chunks. It's a thoughtful and compelling story about a struggle that millions are likely having. I recommend you give it a read and leave your comments.

Check out Carolyn's website or follow her on Twitter.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Irish Christian Evangelical Group Calls For Secular Education In Ireland

(source)

So, anyway.
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call Ireland.
Or so it would seem to me, a mere Canadian, living just an hour's drive from the United States of America, where they claim to have secular schools -- but we all know better, don't we? The thought of secularism sneaking its way into the schools of good American Christian children is the height of terror for a large portion of my neighbors to the south. Actually, the very word secular is sheer horror for people who call themselves conservatives and like to talk about family values and the sanctity of marriages.

I hope I've explained why this story sounds so bizarre to me. Maybe it sounds just totally banal and normal to anyone living in Ireland or the UK. Right? Maybe?

Evangelical Christians urge secular education in Ireland
Believers should fund own schools, not State, says Evangelical Alliance Ireland
Evangelical Alliance Ireland (EAI) has called for a secular educational system in Irish schools, as proposed by Atheist Ireland.
Right on! I suppose this is what happens when two large denominations -- Catholicism and a sprinkling of Church of Ireland -- basically control a more or less sectarian public school system? You know, like Ontario, I guess? Why can't this happen in Ontario? Will this happen in Ontario if smaller religious groups continue to gain numbers?
Responding to the calls by Dr Selim in his book Islam and Education in Ireland, launched in Trinity College last night, Atheist Ireland highlighted the lack of integration and inclusivity in State-funded Muslim schools and called for a secular education system with religion passed on through families, mosques and churches.

EAI executive director Nick Park said “evangelical Christians have often felt alienated by an educational system that they are expected to fund as taxpayers, but which has largely been run by branches of the Catholic Church. For example, the amount of time devoted to Catholic rites of passage such as First Communion creates a dilemma for evangelical parents.
Has Ireland become so non-religious that even the churches have started actually listening to the atheists? Well, looks like it's time to pack my bags.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Prominent African News Anchor Comes Out Atheist... And It's No Big Deal, Really

News anchor Rama Nyang. (source)
Things seem to be changing in Africa. Some popular figures in media have come out as atheist, like James Onen or Lindsay Kukunda from Uganda have come out recently. Well, Ramah Nyang, business anchor and reporter at CCT, has recently joined this group.

CCTV's Africa Business news anchor and reporter Ramah Nyang :I am an atheist

Ramah gives some reasoning about the inconsistencies of Christianity.
Christianity is not what it is cracked up to be. There is a lot of cherry-picking in religion. A lot of inconsistencies on values, and applications of the faith. Lots of pretence and double standards - saying love your neighbour as you love yourself but when the neighbour turns out to be gay then there is trouble. The same Bible has less kind words to this particular neighbour. [...]

[...] I’m an atheist. I was raised as a Christian in a Christian family, but as I grew older and studied it, in detail, I realised that Christianity adds no value to my life. As a way of life, it is untenable.
There is some negative reaction in the comments section, but otherwise, everyone seems pretty okay with it. So far, I've found just one negative response in the press by one Martin Oduor over at Ghafla!
One peculiar comparison that Ramah made left my mouth agape and wondering if it is the underlining reason for the news anchor to be an atheist. “Lots of pretence and double standards - saying love your neighbour as you love yourself but when the neighbour turns out to be gay then there is trouble” said Ramah when explaining why religion does not appeal to him.

The above sentiment is ambiguous and a lot of meaning can be derived from it; I do not want to insinuate anything so as for me I think Ramah has all the right and freedom to choose what to believe in and what not to. It is a free country anyway.

Ah yes, but Oduor is insinuating something and it's pretty obvious. Let me run it down like this: 1) Just because Ramah has problems with the anti-gay sentiments codified into many religions doesn't mean he's gay; 2) Even if Ramah were gay, there are plenty of gay theists out there; and 3) What's wrong with being gay, exactly?

Ramah makes it very clear that he is an atheist because he studied religion -- Christianity in particular -- in detail and that it adds no extra value to his life. Indeed, to many, life is more valuable without it.

Monday, 8 September 2014

13% Of Students At Egyptian University Are Atheists & Grand Mufti Knows Why

I've recently covered how the Egyptian government is grappling with the sheer world-collapsing horror that is atheism. They've even launched hip new programs to investigate why young people are finding Islam so uncool and turning away from religion in general. Furthermore, clerics are showing how serious they are about confronting this existential threat of atheism by demanding a belly dancing competition television programme be canceled. So maybe not that hip after all, right?

Well now the historic Al-Azhar University (I think) has conducted a survey of some 6,000 young people and have found that 12.3% of them are atheists. That's a pretty high number considering how the government is actively trying to combat atheism. I'd be rather timid to answer yes to such a survey so I imagine the number might really be a bit higher.

Former mufti blames al-Azhar negligence for youth atheism
At a meeting with university graduates at the Helwan Leadership Institute on Monday, former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said a survey conducted by Al-Azhar on a sample of 6,000 young people showed that 12.3 percent of them were atheists.

The study attributed this to 56 reasons, the most important of which was because they were angry with God.
Yeah, I don't think the survey writers quite understand what atheism means. I mean, I'm still angry about how unlikeable Colin Baker's Doctor Who was and really didn't much like his character, but he doesn't really exist. So they could be atheists who are disgusted by the fictional character of God -- and he's really not a very likeable character, now is he? Why don't they see this?

Well, Ali Gomaa thinks he knows the reason: They don't know that God is merciful.

Bingo! Well, that solves that then. These people who do not believe that God exists are just angry at him. OR they don't know that this non-existent being would actually be merciful (note: if it actually existed, which it doesn't.)

Curiously, much like a common evangelical trope in the United States, the evil secular university seems to be to blame. You know, education and free inquiry in a university setting may have something to do with it.
Gomma blamed the negligence of Al-Azhar for that phenomenon although he said it has succeeded in persuading 10 percent of them to go back to religion. “Still there is a long way to go,” he said.
Well, there you have it. It looks like Egypt is well on their way to understanding and fixing their atheism problem.

I'd love to see what the question actually was and what those 55 other reasons were for all these youth becoming atheist. I'm sure many are just as ridiculous as them being angry with god.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Egyptian Clerics: Belly Dancing Dangerous, Like Homosexuality And Atheism


(Scroll towards bottom for video.)

As we know, Egyptian religious police, the Ministry of Endowments and Culture , in an apparent competition with Saudi Arabia, has already declared war on atheists. Well now Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, an Egyptian educational institute that appears to exist just to tell people and governments what's right or wrong, is tackling the existential threat that is a belly dancing program on television.

Egypt religious body: Suspend belly-dancing show

Belly dancing is by no means a new thing in Egypt, but American-style belly dance competition programs are.
The call by Dar al-Ifta, the top body that advises Muslims on religious and life issues, follows others criticizing the show called "Dancer." But the debate over it isn't all about it being too racy for television — it's part of a concerted effort by Egypt's government to show its both challenging Islamists as a political forces while still respecting the country's more-conservative values.
This is a little confusing, but I think it means they want to throw their fundamentalist conservative types a little meat by banning some dancing shows or jailing some atheists while all the same fighting dangerous groups like ISIS. I get it, but I think it's really the wrong way to go about it. It's sort of like taking away people's freedoms to improve national security or something -- sort of like what happened in many Western countries just after 9/11.
In its statement, Dar al-Ifta said the show "serves extremists who take such matters as a justification to promote the idea that society is fighting religion."
It seems like this is a move to prove to extremists that Egypt is fighting immoral acts -- like belly dancing... which has been going on in Egypt for centuries, but oh well.

Truth be said, I find these dance competition programs mind-numbingly dull. It also has a RealityTV feel to it which sounds awful, but I still think that banning it for reasons like this is pretty silly.
In an advertisement, the network said the winner would receive the title "the best belly dancer in the world." The contestants also shouted at each other and fought in the advertisement in the tradition of Western-style reality shows.
Still, the competition is international. So it might bring aspects of other cultures to the forefront that conservative critics may not like. It might be a force for good, showing the humanity of those in all sorts of different cultures. It may unify where unity is not wanted.


Apparently critics of the show are clerics and they've even filed a lawsuit! One such cleric has compared belly dancing to homosexuality and atheism... yeah...
Anti-Muslim Brotherhood cleric Muzhir Shahine and a group of professors Al-Azhar, a Cairo university prestigious in the Muslim world, issued a statement criticizing the belly-dancing show as part of "attacks on society's values," while also trying to compare it to atheism and homosexuality — which a large number of conservative Egyptians perceive as taboos.
Right... sure... I totally see the connection... Belly dancing: An attack on society's values since at least the 18th or 19th century -- maybe longer.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Saudi Court Upholds Raif Badawi's Ten Year Sentence

Raif Badawi
Bad news again from Saudi Arabia. A court has upheld the ten year jail term, one million riyal and 1,000 lash sentence for Raif Badawi. His crime: creating a website insulting to Islam. 


Or more to the point: creating a website insulting to a bunch of religious clerics.
He had been convicted of “creating a website insulting Islam” and criticising the role of the notorious religious police “which we all do” in Saudi Arabia, the rights group’s co-founder, Souad Al Shamari, told AFP.
To add insult to injury, the initial sentence was for seven years and 600 lashes. After the retrial the court decided to increase it to 10 years and 1,000 lashes.
“Even the worst terrorists have not received such a harsh sentence,” Al Shamari said. 
Can somebody please tell me who in our current Canadian government I can petition? Because, the Office of Religious Freedom doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about people in Badawi's situation.

This angers me so much. I cannot imagine ever dealing with ten years in jail, painful lashes and very possibly crippling debt. All this for exercising his human rights of freedom of expression and freedom from religion. How is it that Saudi Arabia is still on the UN's Human Rights Council? That's absolutely sickening.

I also feel sorry for Badawi's wife and children who are, luckily, safe in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Office of Religious Freedom Trivializes Human Rights Violations Against Atheists Again

Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett (source)
You know, I really ought to give up on Andrew Bennett and the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom. They've not once stood up for a single persecuted atheist -- even when asked very nicely by CFI Canada. Although actually getting to the Office was apparently not unlike going to see the Wizard.

Bennett looks like a nice enough person to me -- the kind of person I'd likely enjoy conversing with. Really, he looks like a great guy and I really don't want to keep writing these posts. It's just that things like this recent interview with Bennett keep falling into my Google Alerts.
Q Should Canadians with no religious beliefs care about religious freedom?

A Absolutely. If we don’t have religious freedom in society, it’s very hard to also have freedom of expression, freedom of association. All these different human rights are linked together. When we look at freedom of religion, it’s the freedom to openly — publicly or privately — profess your faith. It’s the freedom to engage in public worship in peace and security. It’s the freedom to engage in missionary activity. And here’s the real acid test: does a country allow people to freely convert to another faith? Conversely, does it not force them to change their faith?

There must also be an understanding that people should be able to not have religious faith. But the vast majority of people in the world who are suffering as a result of the denial of religious freedom are people of faith. 
What am I supposed to make of this? Is there no time in Bennett's schedule to simply issue a single statement on the Office's website condemning the obvious human rights violations being made by places like Saudi Arabia against atheists there? The Media Room site seems to have roughly one release per month. Surely, someone there could find some time to fit a little something in.

And they're not very long either. Here's a sample.
Ambassador Bennett Concerned by the Shooting of an Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan
May 24, 2014 - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:

“I was sincerely shocked and appalled to learn of the death of Khalil Ahmad, who was shot while in police custody in the Sheikhupura district in Pakistan on May 16, at the age of 65. He was being held on charges of alleged blasphemy.

“In Pakistan, hundreds of Ahmadis have been murdered for their faith and beliefs, and thousands arrested for declaring Islam to be their faith.

“This is only the latest event in a long series of violent attacks on individuals who are accused, often falsely, under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.

“Canada strongly denounces such violence and we call for Pakistani authorities to ensure the personal safety of other Ahmadis associated with Mr. Ahmad who were also charged with alleged blasphemy.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada and Canadians, I extend my prayers and sincere condolences to the family and friends of the late Khalil Ahmad.”
This is tragic and I can understand why Bennett would release a statement like this. However, I don't see why he wasn't also be shocked and repelled by the brutal hacking to death of atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider last year in Bangladesh. Randy Tyson from Legion of Reason posted this long letter addressed to him over at their Facebook page, just in case they missed it -- but I'm pretty sure they have people to keep track of these things.

Could Bennett or perhaps a staffer -- or hell I'll write the thing and let him proofread it! -- have possibly spared a half hour to whip a little something up for any atheist in trouble anywhere?
But the vast majority of people in the world who are suffering as a result of the denial of religious freedom are people of faith. 
I wonder how Christian it is to prioritize like this? Oh, no I need to check myself -- as I am not aware of all the bureaucracy involved with issuing the equivalent of a two paragraph statement onto an HTML web page. Perhaps they should switch to Blogger or Wordpress? I guess within the Canadian Government this could be a major feat. Who knows.

Oh, and by the way, there was a report released last year by IHEU about widespread systematic human rights abuses, oppression and violence against atheists across the world. It demonstrates the dire consequences that await hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands... perhaps millions(?) of people who question religion across the planet publicly. People are not stupid. They understand their situation; that at the hands of oppressive cultures of dogmatic authority, people really do get beaten, slashed or murdered by those interested in silencing any questioning of religious dogma.

Really, how could Bennett know what's in the hearts and minds of atheists across the world if they cannot ever hope to freely express themselves without being persecuted or killed?