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

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cairo Police Shut Down 'Atheist Cafe' Due to 'Satanic Rituals'

The Egyptian government has been funny, what with them knowing precisely how many atheists there are in the country or attempting to ban televised belly dancing competitions. It's because recently the rhetoric has been ramping way up against atheists, who have been identified multiple times as the greatest challenge to Egyptian society which must be stamped out.

Well, the saber rattling seems to have given way to action this week. Cairo police raided and shut down an atheist cafe.
Egyptian security forces have stormed what they described as the "atheists' cafe" in downtown Cairo, raising fears of a renewed crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

The popular cafe, located in the capital's Abdeen neighbourhood, was a nest for "Satan worshippers", according to Gamal Mohie, chief of the local municipality.
None of the authorities responsible were able to explain why people who do not believe in supernatural deities would ever be worshiping the devil -- having rituals and wild dancing apparently!
"There was no sign reading 'atheists' cafe' outside, as nobody would put up such a public announcement. However, it was popularly known as a place for Satan worship, rituals and dances. There were also Satanic drawings at the entrance," Mohie said, adding that the owner was arrested during the raid.
Right. If these pictures are any indication, it looks like there were Nazi swastikas drawn by someone outside of the entrance. These police are either very confused or are just looking for any excuse to either oppress potential political opposition or to cause a diversion from their own performance.

A story over at Morocco World News describes the situation further.
Egypti’s Youm7 quoted the head of Hay Al Abidin Jamal Mohi as saying that the café was located on Avenue Al Falaki in downtown Cario, and “it was a resort for atheists and Satanists who were spreading wrong ideas about religion.”

Jamal Mohi went on to add that local authorities decided to destroy the café after they received many requests from residents who live the café.

“Residents said that each midnight, atheists and Satanists in the café would start performing sort of satanic rituals,” he explained.

Mohi also revealed that the local authorities destroyed the café amid local women’s ululations of joy.
Atheist activist Ayman Ramzy sees this all as a political ploy to divert Egyptians from meaningful questions of government policy.
Ramzy went on to add that local authorities should worry about the critical issues that Egypt is facing, such as the growing number of homeless children, rather than violating the individual freedoms of Egyptian citizens.
Just recently a French journalist and friends were detained and interrogated in a Cairo cafe for discussing politics after a woman overheard their conversation and contacted the police.

It seems to me that things are getting progressively worse for freedom of expression in Egypt for atheists and anyone who may have an opinion at odds with the official State sanctioned status quo.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Egyptian Government: There Are Precisely 866 Atheists In Egypt

'Now, how'd they figure that one out?'
The behaviour of the current Egyptian government has gone from goofy to downright erratic lately. It was all still sort of funny when the government attempted to block a belly dancing competition because it was dangerous like homosexuality and atheism. However, the government there seems to be completely overrun by mad clerics who keep repeatedly singling out atheism (and anything they'd like to call atheism) as the greatest threat to Egypt society (one, two, three, four, five, six). It really sounds like they are gearing up for a good Saudi Style purge in this country -- and remember what they did to Alber Saber.

Well, now here's a some ridiculous insanity to act as a bit of levity above the background of ominous government threats against atheists in the country. It turns out that the government knows there are precisely 866 atheists in Egypt!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Turkish Govt Committee: Compulsory Nursery-School 'Values Education' & Any Disagreement is 'Atheism'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - By Flagellvm·Dei (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Things seem to really be going downhill in Turkey, which is supposed to be one of the most reasonable, secular majority Muslim countries -- at least in the Middle Eastern region. This all seems to be pointing back to their increasingly spooky and highly religious president, Tayyip Erdoğan.

So far we're up to his government censoring genitalia and the proper names of genitalia from Biology textbooks; banning his military from watching nudie shows like Game of Thrones; rewritting history to make it more patriotic; taking issue with lip-o-suction kissing on daytime television; stating that feminists don't understand motherhood, which he believes he is primary meaning of a woman's life; and strongly pushing for a 'More Pious Youth' by replacing secular schools with religious schools and coercing parents to send their children to them. Doesn't he sound a little like some fundamentalist socially-conservative Christian groups?

Well, here's more information now on that last creepy education goal:

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Alberta Far Right Party Strikes Down Equality Statement: Atheist VP Communications Resigns

Terry Lo looking awesomely dapper in his outfit before attending Hullabaloo 2014. (source)
Terry Lo looks like a pretty fun guy, according to his Twitter feed. My cursory look at this, along with his blog, Calgary  Dreamer, really makes me wonder how he ever fit into the creepy, extremist and rather theocratic Alberta Wildrose Party. If I'm to understand Alberta politics, Progressives actually voted for the somewhat not crazy conservative party so these totally crazy social conservatives didn't get into power.

Well, just yesterday, Lo posted his resignation from the post of VP of Communications in a post on his blog.
Today, I made a small stand for what I believed in, leading to what probably was the shortest time I’ve ever held office as VP Communications for the Wild Rose Party in Calgary-Glenmore, and the end to my association with the party as well. Being the surrogate dad to a gay son, Asian, AND atheist, I was always an unusual member of the party. But a few events in the last year made me realize that I was in a place that was morally (to me) untenable. I resigned today with no reservations.
Uhm... yeah... not a great match. How does this sort of thing even happen? In his official resignation letter he points out the problems with this party.
As a member who is Asian, Atheist and parent of a LGBT son, I hoped to change the ill perception that resulted in the Lake of Fire debacle. When our leader, Danielle Smith, had championed the inclusion statement in the 2013 AGM, I had truly believed that I was a member of the right party, and it was in this spirit that I had made my decision to serve the party in the best way I saw fit.

But even despite what I saw as an appalling misstep in defeating the 2014 vote re: GSAs and the protection of LGBT youth against bullying, I still had hoped to help change the tone and give an inclusive message to the public at large. After all, if one such as me could be a member, then anyone can be a part.
But in the time between my election and now, several events at the Glenmore Rally and during the by- elections has led me to believe that I was mistaken, and as such, find myself at this decision. The final breaking point was the revocation of the inclusion statement at the AGM this past weekend DESPITE our leader’s own recommendation, and how it used to show that WR was truly an inclusive party.
Huffington Post explains how the party held a vote during the Glenmore Rally where they decided to remove a statement of inclusion that would essentially apply to all races, religions (or no religion), LGBT people etc. -- you know, human beings.
Party members on the weekend voted against adopting as policy a statement supported by Leader Danielle Smith that affirmed the rights of everyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and other differences.

The expanded definition had been held up by the party for a year as the shining example of a new moderate centrism palatable to Albertans across the political spectrum.

Instead, members voted Saturday to go with a broader policy to recognize that "all Albertans have equal rights, privileges and responsibilities."

In the 2012 election, the party appeared to be on the road to winning when it was derailed by controversies that included comments by one of its candidates who, in a blog, had urged gays to repent or face an eternity in hell's "lake of fire."
That's right... "Lake of fire!" You'll find Lo's reaction to universal inclusion being dropped at the  Glenmore Rally in this picture he posted on the blog post.

Lo identifies as many atheists I know do -- as a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. I don't consider myself a conservative, but we need more conservatives like Lo! Really, the right wing has gotten downright nutty.
I’ve always seen myself as a fiscal conservative, but socially liberal. I believe in a balanced budget, responsible use of the public purse and more. But I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a strong supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and a firm rejection of organized religion. I would suppose that would make me a moderate of sorts. I also try to emulate and follow a modern version of chivalry, whereas the highest aspirations of a person should be in service of others, and built a name in support of charity and goodwill in Calgary. I despise anyone who will not support the strength of their convictions, and I really do try to back my own acts come what may.
In actually, this breed of conservative -- the kind I can get along with -- is a rare breed these days in both Canada and the US... okay, especially in the US. Lately, conservative has come to mean Bible-thumpin', anti-choice, anti-LGBT, but this wasn't always the case. He felt out of place in the PC party for social agenda reasons and out of place from the NDP party for fiscal agenda reasons -- Wild Rose seemed to be an alternative at the time.
But being a member of a sports team with gay members, and looking around at random WR events, I knew this was far from the truth. What was sad was this was confirmed as I walked around. But in those several chats, what especially disturbed me was that LGBT people were described as “uppity” and “whiners”. This wasn’t a bad joke, or even a casual careless statement. Looking at each face, it was an honest belief. Needless to say, I was actually angry, no more like pissed and furious, on TV as I was positioned to stand right behind Danielle at the rally. I was close to storming off that day, but calmed down by the end of her speech.
Wild Rose also joined the Conservatives to vote down bill 31-19, which would have made it mandatory for schools to allow Gay Straight Alliances in schools (GSA). Lo's own son is gay -- preventing the formation of GSA groups is a blow against people like his son and rightly so. He thought there was some hope for the party even after this, but the removal of the equality statement was too much.
Ideologically, I believe now that the party is swinging far right again on social issues, and as such, totally in opposition to my own beliefs. And ANY party that visibly does not protect my son, is one that has lost my support, and in fact, earned my opposition.
Good on ya, Terry! I'm happy to see you dumped the party and you're unabashedly atheist as well!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

New Indonesian President Might Improve Situation for Atheists

By Credited to Indonesian State Secretariat [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Remember Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan, who got thrown into jail and nearly killed for posting stuff on his Facebook? -- perfectly reasonable stuff like "If God exists, why do bad things happen? ... There should only be good things if God is merciful."

He got released after serving his completely unjust sentence nearly a year ago and I'm uncertain how things are going, but I suspect he's trying to keep a low profile for his own safety.

Well, there's been news coming out of Indonesia lately that perhaps the Law, in theory at least, could be more on his side in future. This probably won't improve his overall safety, but it might keep other atheists from getting thrown into the slammer for expressing their disbelief in Islam. Well, maybe.
In this Sunni-majority country, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim has announced that a new law is to be introduced within six months to protect minorities from attack and to ensure that all citizens have the same rights. He also promised a change in regulations to make it easier for minority groups to obtain permits for building places of worship.

On Wednesday (5 November), Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo met with representatives of minority religions, something which they have long appealed for, but which had been rejected by his predecessor.  It is significant that this was the Minister’s first official meeting after being sworn in on 27 October. Christians, Shia Muslims, Ahmadis, Baha’is and followers of the native religion of the Sundanese people were amongst the minorities present at the meeting. The government also wants to give protection and equality to atheists, who have not previously been recognised under Indonesian law.  The 1945 constitution established a philosophy called Pancasila, according to which it was compulsory for every citizen to follow one of five named religions; atheism was not allowed.
The reforms would also involve removing religious identification from identification cards, which is something I've seen used in other Muslim countries to force public allegiance to Islam. Iran is one example of this.

Apparently, this is all coming because a more tolerant president was elected  in October, Joko Widodo.

Now, it seems like the only originator of this story is Barnabas Aid, which seems to be a nice enough organization concerned with helping persecuted Christians across the world. This story looks plausible enough, but I wouldn't take it at 100% until we see an actual news agency confirm the atheist angle. I have yet to find this. I see other stories referencing equality to minority groups, but nothing else actually coming right out and saying atheists are included. We all know that religious groups often forget atheists when they talk about freedom of religion. So, we'll need to wait and see.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Egypt's Muslim & Christian Leaders Uniting Against Atheism

By Daniel Mayer (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Religion has been the cause of so much conflict and harm in this world. Alas, if only they could find something to bring them together, to unite them! Well it turns out religious leaders in Egypt have found something to set aside their differences over and finally come together! Halleluja!
Christian churches in Egypt say they are joining forces with Egypt's Al-Azhar, a prominent center of Sunni Muslim learning, to fight the spread of atheism in the country.
Everyone gang up on the atheists, now.

I suppose this is a step up from arresting and brutalizing atheists, which is what they've done with bloggers, including Alber Saber, who managed to get away. As I've written before, they plan on using psychologists and stuff to persuade kids not to be atheists... and maybe throw them into jail later if that doesn't work.
For his part, Ahmed al-Tayeb, Egypt's Grand Imam and leader of the Al-Azhar, said on state television last month that atheism was a "fad" borrowed by Egyptian youth from the West.

"The atheism trend is new to the Arab world and Egypt," al-Tayeb said. "It is regretful… that some young people now openly brag about being atheists."

He went on to say that atheistic and "materialistic" ideas were "shallow by nature."
These 'apparently existential threats to society' fads that are so shallow! Don't worry though, freedom of thought is in the constitution! Based on their history so far, I'm totally confident there will be no problem at all.
Freedom of thought is enshrined in the Egyptian constitution. However, a handful of Egyptians have been prosecuted in recent years for "defaming religion" on social media platforms.
Oh right... just a handful -- the ones we actually hear about. It only takes a handful of people being brutally persecuted to keep the general population in line.
"The Church and the Al-Azhar are drafting a constructive mechanism to address atheism," Poules Halim, a spokesman for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, told Anadolu Agency.

His statements came following a two-day conference, organized jointly between the Al-Azhar and the church, aimed at forging a "scholarly response" to atheism, which, Halim said, had been "spreading increasingly" in Egypt over the past three years.

This article definitely lacks any sort of explanation of what they actually talked about and what this constructive mechanism is. I'm waiting to see what sort of nonsense they'll come up with. They've had hundreds of years and I'm still waiting.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Up For a Little Bingo?

By English: Cpl. Timothy T. Parish [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Feeling kind of bored or lethargic on this Friday? Why not drag your sad butt over to Guardian Liberty Voice and play a little Chestnut/Canard/Strawman Bingo!

In Atheists Fail to Understand Both God and Man, Graham Noble seems to hit pretty much every old canard and chestnut ever when it comes to arguing for God and against atheism. Get your Bingo cards ready.
Atheists have elevated their profile in the western world – particularly in the United States – to one of a, supposedly, persecuted minority and, in doing so, have exposed their failure to understand both man and the very concept of God.
I can only assume the supposedly must refer to the persecuted. Given that a majority of Americans seem more willing to vote in anyone but an atheist for president, I'm not sure if Noble has really looked into this at all. Does he think the strong stigma against coming out atheist is merely illusion?
Their bizarre and desperate need to stamp out Christianity...
Atheists by definition do not wish to stamp out Christianity. They just don't believe in God. Now, I'd love to see Christianity and all religions relegated to the same sort of dustbin as Greco-Roman religion in the West, but that's just me. There are plenty of atheists out there who are happy just not believing and going about their lives. Just look at Sweden.
An atheist is someone who professes a belief in two basic principles: First, the non-existence of a deity, or deities; second, the belief that man is the only master of his own destiny and that only through a true understanding of humanism will mankind reach its full potential. 
No. An atheist is someone who does not profess a belief in any gods. Please try to grasp this difference. Someone who is atheist may well believe those other things but this doesn't make an atheist.
A fair starting point in the argument over the existence of God – a Creator, a higher power, a supreme being or whatever label one chooses to apply – is the acknowledgement that the existence of such a being, or deity, has never been scientifically proven and, perhaps, never will be.
Thank you! Are we done now, then? No, apparently not. We need to state the obvious about something for which there is no proof it exists.
Such a statement, however, demands the caveat that the non-existence of God has also never been proven, nor could it ever possibly be proven. 
Yes. It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something like a god, unicorns, robot frogmen on the planet VeeedyVeedy 6 .. etc..

Now, prepare to be shocked, amazed and confused.
Herein, then, lies the utter rejection of that first tenet of atheism: One must take, for context, the idea that a ‘god’ is a being of all-encompassing power and possibility; a being that has created everything that exists and possesses all knowledge; a being that defies the very laws of physics, as they are understood by man. A simple – and very short – leap of logic, then, brings one to the realization that, in order to be certain that such an omnipotent being does not exist, one would have to be an omnipotent being. How else could one possibly know, with certainty, that an all-seeing, all-knowing deity – existing beyond the physical grasp and sight of man – does not exist unless one actually possesses all the known and unknown knowledge of the universe – and whatever is beyond? In short; only if one were God could one say that God does not exist – and then, of course, one would be denying one’s own existence.
That a single human mind can contain the above paragraph without imploding immediately is a testament to the power of millions of years of evolution. I'm sure some long lost humanoids may have thought of things like the above and their heads did implode or severe internal hemorrhaging or stroke could have occurred.

As a thought experiment, let's replace the not exist with exist from the above quoted:
A simple – and very short – leap of logic, then, brings one to the realization that, in order to be certain that such an omnipotent being does exist, one would have to be an omnipotent being. How else could one possibly know, with certainty, that an all-seeing, all-knowing deity – existing beyond the physical grasp and sight of man – does exist unless one actually possesses all the known and unknown knowledge of the universe – and whatever is beyond? In short; only if one were God could one say that God does exist – ...
Wow, it makes just as much sense as the original! This only demonstrates a parlour trick called shifting the burden of proof. Place your Bingo chip in the appropriate box, please.

Bonus marks if you noticed that only his God seems to require a solid disproving. 

All-powerful propellor-hat wearing rhinoceroses living deep inside the crust of Pluto do not seem to require such a vigorous disproving. Neither do less outrageous claims like Satan is actually in charge around here rather God -- that would explain a few things -- or that it's all actually space aliens after all.

This sort of business is called begging the question. It's putting your God into a special category -- because he's God -- that requires us to disprove it while other gods apparently do not require him to disprove them, the burden is completely on these other believers to make their case.

Now comes the classic argument that humans have always been religious and believed in god, which proves absolutely nothing.
Having established, therefore, that atheists do not understand the nature of God, it is worth examining the ways in which they also fail to understand the nature of man. The mere fact that belief in God – or in multiple gods – has been with mankind from its very beginning demonstrates a faith and a need which is beyond understanding and, certainly, beyond eradication.
Do we have Bingo yet? Get your chips ready because they come in fast and furious from this point forward.

Atheists want more than separation of church and state. They want total eradication of Christianity.
In the US, atheist groups have gone far beyond what they are claiming to be pushing for, which is the complete separation of church and state. Their goal appears to be nothing less than the complete eradication of Christianity from American society.
Although true for some atheists, I'm sure. This is not technically correct. Atheism means no belief in god. There are plenty of atheists who are perfectly happy with religion existing. And many just don't want it imposed on them via state mechanisms.

Next comes the all too common question: If you don't believe in God then how could you be offended by Christian symbols?
Their obsession with bringing lawsuits aimed at removing Christian symbols from public display begs the question: If one does not believe in God, how can one possibly be offended by the idea that other people do? Not believing in something implies a lack of feeling or emotion, regarding that something. It is simply not possible to be offended by a concept in which one claims not to believe.
Of course, he leaves out that it's Christian symbols on public land. Atheists are not offended that you believe in your God although they may find this bizarre and they may very well be offended by your concept of God.

I'm also pretty certain he doesn't understand what begs the question really means.

Now, here's one I've never, ever, heard before!
There can be only one possible explanation of why atheists become so agitated at the very idea that others put their faith in God; it comes down to politics. Atheist groups in the United States are merely Socialists in disguise and, like all Socialists, they insist that only loyalty a citizen should have is loyalty to the almighty State. religious faith stands in the way and that is precisely why Socialist governments always persecute those who believe in God.
Mr. Noble, I believe you need to be introduced to a rather large atheist Libertarian segment. I'm sure they would have a few things to clear up with you!

He tries to clear things up in the next paragraph by stating that not all atheists are Socialists making me wonder how many other assertions some atheists may be pardoned from.
That is not to say that all atheists are Socialists; those who simply choose not to believe should be distinguished from those who join groups which try to force others not to believe.
Do you have your chip ready? Did you catch the subtle choose not to believe? People don't choose to believe or disbelieve anything. If they are, then I can only guess they're trying to somehow brainwash themselves!

If you've not got a row yet, maybe this next section will help. He moves on to revisit the Constitution and the establishment clause.
Atheists have maintained, for some time, that separation of church and state is enshrined in the Constitution. This, however, is a myth. There is no part of the Constitution that demands such a separation; the First Amendment is very clear on the subject. The religion clause within the First Amendment prevents the government from interfering in religious matters. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is as clear as it could possibly be: The government is prohibited from forcing any one religion upon the people; nor can it write laws that promote any one religion over another; nor can it write any laws that restrict an individual’s right to worship in whatever way they choose.
A myth that the Supreme Court and countless judges have also apparently fallen for.  I guess they're all atheists too. Apparently, the amendment was written to protect the religious from imposing their religions onto other religious or having religions imposed upon them.
Atheism, in truth, is a religion in itself; it is the religion of Statism and its lifeblood is fear and intimidation.
Uhm... Oh well.

There is some fancy footwork having to do with the First Amendment only applying to Congress but not really, or sort of... therefore it's fine to preach Jesus in the public schools. It confuses my foreigner Canadian brain and I leave it up to you for your homework this weekend to figure out. It is after all, Friday.

Did you win?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Patheos Blogger Takes Friendly Atheist to Task for Finding Little Girl Adorable

Thomas L. McDonald is totally not impressed with his fellow Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta. It's because Hemant liked this video with a little girl heckling a street preacher.

Hemant acknowledged that yelling at obnoxious street preachers is an uncouth and obnoxious thing to do but that he has never seen a more adorable annoying child.

He's right. She is adorable and this video is, in fact, absolutely hilarious. I laughed, my friends laughed. The 'Jesus blah-blah-blah! Jesus Blah-blah-blah!' was the most amusing bit and, as one commenter pointed out, it would make an exquisite tshirt.

Yes, everybody laughed except for McDonald because he actually took it seriously, or something!
This video is very obviously staged (the girl keeps looking at someone off-camera), but why it was staged and what message the videographer hoped to convey was a mystery to me.
Maybe a little girl like this isn't allowed to wander the streets alone heckling street preachers without parental supervision? I can only hope it's her father holding the camera and she simply wanted to express her dislike of this guy blasting his voice over a loudspeaker. Not quite my style, personally, but I won't fault her for it.

(Edit 2014-11-07 00h07: The original source says the camera holder was not one of the girl's parents.)

McDonald continues:
But then I saw that the “Friendly” Atheist blogger thinks this horrid little child is the bees knees, and I realize: they actually think this is cool and funny and useful to their cause.
He thought the kid was adorable and the video was compelling and they are. He never said she was the bees knees. He never said this was cool and useful to their cause.
I’m usually not a fan of people out-obnoxious-ing street preachers in order to get them to stop… but somehow, when this little girl does it, I can’t stop watching
It's a funny video which pretty much mirrors what would be going through my head if I were forced to be near a street preacher like this. Their message of repent or burn in Hell is rather offensive to me and I can see where she's coming from. 
Christians should love this video. It proves once again that evangelical atheism is the ideology of rude, hateful little children. They don’t have anything to say but “shut up.”
Checkmate, atheists! This screaming little girl pretty much proves that atheism is nothing more than people saying 'shut up!'

Well, maybe if we got some sort of decent proof there is a God, we wouldn't get so tired of hearing the Jesus Blah-Blah-Blah Jesus Blah-Blah-Blah! In fact, the street preacher there wouldn't need to bust his butt yelling and screaming because we'd all believe.

He titles his post Future Patheos Blogger Engages in Debate. I can only surmise that he means she will grow up to be just like Hemant Mehta which makes me wonder if he's ever actually read Mehta's blog!

Okay, I get it, he really just didn't like the video and he doesn't appear to be all that friendly of a theist, does he?

Monday, 3 November 2014

Things Are Getting Absurd & Dangerous In Egypt

Religious Endowments Minister Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa (source)
It's fun and all writing about Egypt's whacky reactions to belly dancing on television, but things really do seem to be going from bad to worse there when it comes to human rights.

What's particularly concerning to me is how the government wishes to stamp out anything they think is atheism (which includes actual atheism) alongside throwing eight gay men into jail for getting married. I'm pretty sure both of those things are human rights violations. They're playing atheism up as being the largest threat to their very existence with homosexuality a close second.

Well back in September, as incoherently as ever, government minister of Religious Endowment Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa declared that he knew where the sudden wave of atheists and homosexuals are coming from. It's sort of predictable. Actually, I'll give you one guess.
Interviewer: How do you explain the spread of atheism in our society? Has it become a widespread phenomenon?

Gomaa: Yes, it has. There are two reasons for this atheism. One reason is the hijacking of religious discourse by extremists and terrorists. Some people have their own opinion about our religion. The other reason is the colonialist Zionist force, which sponsors and supports atheists and atheism, and finances homosexuals and homosexuality, in order to fragment this society. They want to undermine the stability of our region any way they can -- by means of terrorism, of atheism, of nihilism, and of deviance. So we must confront atheism, nihilism, homosexuality and moral depravity the same way we confront nihilism and terrorism. Our society cannot thrive unless we take a moderate approach.
Israel and the Jews, naturally. Only days ago, I wrote about a Malaysian politician who was blaming the Jews, New World Order, atheists, --- insert anyone who's not Malaysian and Muslim here -- for moral decay there.

Moderate approach? Like, arresting gay people and throwing them into jail for three years? Or do you mean throwing Alber Saber into jail for being an atheist -- atheists can get five years in jail just for being atheist.

This tone seems a bit more ominous and, frankly, fascist than the cuddly and misguided government initiative to deal with atheism.
The ministries of Waqfs (Religious Endowments) and Youth have said they will launch a nationwide campaign to tackle atheism in the predominantly Muslim country. The planned drive will recruit the efforts of moderate clergymen, psychologists, sociologists and political specialists to address the youth, according to local media.
With these statements by Gomma, we have a clear identification of threatening elements of the country's population.  Mere disbelief in god or one's sexuality is characterized as radical or terrorist or impure, the enemy to the stability of the region and a threat to society.

It's sounding very xenophobic and as if Egypt is really gearing up for a Saudi-style culling of 'undesirable elements' in their population. It sounds like something dreadful is about to happen. It looks to me like atheists and LGBT people are the most threatened minority in Egypt today.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Why I Love Ricky Gervais

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Rising Atheism Identified as 'a Key Challenge' facing Egypt

Egypt has had many challenges recently, like the Arab Spring or that whole military coup back in January.

For mercy sake, the country is still reeling over that televised belly dancing competition, which surely shook society to its very limit! With all these belly dancers on television, is there any hope? Does anyone have any time to consider the political situation in Egypt when pelvises continue to oscillate on national television?

Keep calm, though. Even with belly dancing not completely resolved, the Egyptian government and senior clerics have bravely identified the rise of atheists as truly the largest, most dire threat to their entire civilization.
 In a sign of unprecedented concern, Egypt’s top Islamic official recently warned against the spread of atheism in the traditionally religious country.

“Atheism is no longer a marginal issue,” Shaikh of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayeb, said on Egyptian state TV. “It has become one of the many challenges facing the country. There are agencies and institutions in the country concerned about this issue.”
And because education, employment, healthcare, poverty, secularism and democracy are 'just fine thanks', the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Ministry of Youth have teamed up to ensure young people are 'thinking right' and 'believing the right.'
The ministries of Waqfs (Religious Endowments) and Youth have said they will launch a nationwide campaign to tackle atheism in the predominantly Muslim country. The planned drive will recruit the efforts of moderate clergymen, psychologists, sociologists and political specialists to address the youth, according to local media.
I guess there are two positive  points here. It's obvious that atheism is making some progress in Egypt and it appears to be at least moving the discussion towards a more moderate point. They've even taken to banning fundamentalist Islamic clerics from giving sermons, which seems rather overbearing and unconstitutional to me, frankly.

Like lots of religious people who do not understand atheists, a Christian representative thinks this whole atheism business is some sort of rebellion against tradition.
“After revolting against the political regime, attention is turned to rebellion against the family’s authority and then the religious authorities represented by clergymen. Some people believe that as long as the ruler of the country is deposed, why not depose the chief of the world too.”
Also according to him, high unemployment and materialism is also a cause. Shouldn't the government be concentrating on the unemployment situation? Maybe a little materialism might help in coming up with concrete solutions to jobless rates rather than these pie in the sky witch hunts against belly dancers and atheists.

Apparently, there is an estimated 2 million atheists in the country out of nearly 90 million which is hardly a sizable minority.

If you're caught, you get up to five years in prison as well. That should be the real story here. Maybe Egypt should also concentrate a bit on their human rights and freedom of conscious problems as well.

Does The Pope 'Get' Atheists? / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
On October 29th, the Pope said this.
Causing scandal and being a bad example turn people off, making them think, "Hey, if that is being Christian, I'll be an atheist.' That's because our witness is what makes people see what it is to be a Christian," he said.
He really doesn't get it. I didn't become an atheist because I was turned off by Catholics. The scandals in the Church merely point out to me that it's a human construct and that there isn't anything particularly special or holy about it. On the contrary, it looks completely messed up. This gave me doubts about the Church, not God.

I could never choose to not believe in something. My non belief happened on its own after years of reflection.

I, like so many other people, scrambled into the light over a long arduous period of questioning and thinking. It took me years of reflection to finally realize that there was no good evidence for a God.

Atheism is not a rebellion against any church or a simple dislike of God or the church.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Malaysian Atheists Using Christian Holiday of Halloween to Make Muslims Godless?

Much like the situation here in Canada, it seems like Malaysians are understandably confused about what Halloween is all about.

The article starts out reporting that the Malaysian National Fatwa Council, which has been busy lately reminding people not to touch dogs,  just put out a fatwa prohibiting people from celebrating Halloween. They concluded this was a Christian celebration of the dead which was against Islamic teachings.

I found this curious. Perhaps they read that recent propaganda piece about Kirk Cameron and got confused? Well, the article got a bit more precise  when the Council conceded that people didn't seem to actually celebrate the holiday in even a teensy weensy bit Christian way.
Despite declaring Halloween to be a Christian festival, the council noted that it is now celebrated through costume parties, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted locations, pranks, and horror story-telling.

“Halloween is celebrated using a humorous theme mixed with horror to entertain and resist the spirit of death that influence humans,” it said.
Right. Interesting take on this.

Well, I think the Duggar family would agree with the Council and have Halloween banned in America because it's un-Christian, go figure.

It's towards the end where things take a curious turn.
Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has also waded into the issue, urging the state authorities, including the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Council (Mains), to monitor the event.

Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman also claimed on Saturday Halloween celebrations are organised by non-Muslims worldwide to shake the faith of Muslims and turn them godless.

Abdullah said it was likely that atheists were behind the events, claiming further that Halloween celebrations were also intended to spread atheism.
Hold on --- is this a Christian celebration or an atheist one? Are atheists using a Christian holiday to foist their lack of belief onto people using funny costumes, candy and jack-o-lanterns? How does the Rocky Horror Picture Show factor into this, anyway?

I had no idea us atheists were so damned organized. Think of all we could achieve to better the treatment of atheists in Western countries if we'd only stop wasting energy trying to convert all the Malay Muslims to atheism! People! Come on!

Feel free to read up more about the presidents interesting conspiracy ideas about existential threats to the Malay Muslim community from liberalism, pluralism, the New World Order, the Jews, Christians and Chinese.

Of course, he's absolutely correct about an all-pervasive atheist agenda to use Halloween to render the world godless. Sure... absolutely...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Russian Orthodox Bishop Concerned about Militant Atheists & Electronic Passports

According to Wikipedia, Hilarion Alfeyev is a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. At present he is the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow.  In addition, he's a noted theologian.

So you'd expect some really smart out of him, right? Well, he said this.
According to the church official, "militant atheism, often in the most monstrous and grotesque forms, has again reared its head and boldly made itself known on the expanses of Europe."

"And now we already see how buses with the signs 'There is no God - enjoy life!' or 'Your are gay - be proud of it!' are traveling around London. We hear of how in Paris proponents of traditional family values, who do not wish to have children to be adopted by same-sex couples, are dispersed with batons and tear gas. We have become witnesses of how on the ambo of Moscow's main church there appeared blasphemers who through their actions received the approval of a certain section of society, and how an analogous action took place in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris," he stated.
Well, except for that tear gas business -- nobody should be gassed -- this militant atheism sounds pretty good to me.

I think he's referring to Pussy Riot when he's talking about the blasphemers who exercised their 'right' to free speech and got jailed for it.

As for the Notre Dame Cathedral thing, I don't know for sure. Maybe he's referring to the celebration of the goddess "Reason" in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November 1793?

So on the one hand he moans about people blaspheming and LGBT having equal rights. In the same breath, he shares his concern about increasing state control in Russia.
"Is this not where we are heading for 'in the interests of security' in agreeing to the obligatory introduction of electronic passports, of universal fingerprinting and the ubiquitous presence of closed-circuit television cameras? After all, this can be used for other purposes which can also be ascribed to 'strengthening security measures,'" he said.
I'm not sure if I'm with him on the passport thing. However, I am actually with him when it comes to concern about increased police surveillance.

The strange thing is, I think this ship has already sailed in Putin's Russia. Just take Pussy Riot or gay men who are beaten in the streets while police look on. Take a look at the anti-Homosexuality laws in this country -- where you can't even mention the existence of non-heterosexual relationships.

Unless the bishop is only concerned about the rights of people like him, perhaps?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

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

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.