Questionable Motives

November 3, 2012

Why is it your civic duty to address faith-based beliefs in the public domain with public scorn and public ridicule?

Because reason doesn’t work.

How so?

Let me explain this way:

Question 13 (coincidence?) of the latest Public Policy Polling asks, Do you think it’s possible for people to become possessed by demons, or not?

What do you think the percentage of those Americans asked this question might be? Would you predict the percentage of Republicans would be higher or lower than average?

I’ll answer these in a moment, but first, I want you to consider the percentage of Americans who think global warming is a clear and present danger and then consider the percentage of Republicans who agree. Would that percentage be higher or lower than the average?

Well, the PEW Research Center provides us plenty of data about the increasing percentage of Americans who agree that global warming is on the rise, caused by human activity, and exacerbating climate change and altered weather patterns and more extreme weather. So let’s look at the numbers.

Regarding climate change, about two thirds of Americans accept that global warming is real, it’s here, and its human causes need to be addressed. That’s great. Better late than never. Among Republicans, about 43% agree that global warming is real but only about 16% think it’s due to human activity. And this is in the face of global scientific consensus.

Regarding demons, about 57% of Americans think they are real. The percentage of Republicans is about 68%. And this is in the face of no compelling scientific evidence.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Let’s compare, shall we?

More Republicans believe in demons than they do anthropogenic global warming at a ration over 4:1, not because of any rational or compelling scientific reasons but because of the strength of confidence they place only in their faith-based beliefs.

So out of about 55 million registered Republican voters,  about 37.5 million of them believe in demons but only about 9 million believe in anthropogenic global warming. Public policy aimed at addressing climate change has very little support among this cohort and only slightly above a majority on average. Why? Because far too many people are willing to elevate their faith-based beliefs not equivalent (because the stats would show these as Undecided) but SUPERIOR to scientific consensus.

The cost of this lunacy, this elevation of ignorance to be considered superior to knowledge, is going to be high and all of us get to pay for it with unnecessary and imposed costs, pain, and suffering. So next time someone suggests that faith-based beliefs should be respected in the public domain because of some charity work motivated and organized by some well-intentioned but misguided religious activists, please remind these not-so- quaint fools that this respect is the very stupidity that sets the stage for the next Sandy, the next extended drought, the next flash flood, the next inundated slide. And that little bit of weather, as they say Down East, costs real lives and causes real damage in the tens of billions of dollars so that we can continue to pretend that faith-based beliefs in the public domain are not a net harm, are not a direct threat to our collective well-being, are not a danger to our lives (How much soup could you make and distribute, I wonder, for 50 billion dollars these days?).

We need to stop deluding ourselves that faith-based beliefs are in any way, shape, or fashion respectable when they are equivalent to malicious ignorance , and hold those who seem powerless to exercise reasonable critical thinking (when it comes to public policy contrary to their beliefs) to public scorn and public ridicule for their willingness to allow their superstitious nonsense to put all of us at real risk in the service of maintaining a faux-respect for their ridiculous faith-based beliefs.

November 13, 2010

Just how gullible does the Roman Catholic Church want Americans to be?

This is the US we’re talking about, land of the free, home of the brave, the shining city on the hill, the Nobel prize capital of the world. So, naturally, I thought the roman catholic church was so busy vilifying secularists and the great evil they represent – including such theistic affronts as human rights, political freedoms, dignity of personhood, respect for scientific understanding, and all that mundane, temporal jazz – that I assumed this conference was a bunch of modern day catholics poking fun at one of their absurdities from almost-ancient history.

Isn’t that the way most enlightened and educated Americans think about demonic possession?

But when it comes to treating demonic possession, the rc church is all business. It remains steadfast in bringing to bear all the modern weaponry at its disposal for the modern American citizen: exorcisms! That’s right, folks. There is growing need for them and the church needs to step up and do its theological duty. Cast that demon out. Use force if you have to. That very difficult and demanding expertise includes the brute force of using conjugated Latin, too. Very scary stuff to any demon to be sure… and even scarier to young people everywhere who need to learn it. Nevertheless, let us press on and read about what the rc church is doing behind closed doors at a hush-hush Baltimore conference:

There are only a handful of priests in the country trained as exorcists (it IS a university degree after all), but they say they are overwhelmed with requests from people who fear they are possessed by the Devil.

Now, American bishops are holding a conference on Friday and Saturday to prepare more priests and bishops to respond to the demand. The purpose is not necessarily to revive the practice, the organizers say, but to help Catholic clergy members learn how to distinguish who really needs an exorcism from who really needs a psychiatrist, or perhaps some pastoral care.

“Not everyone who thinks they need an exorcism actually does need one,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., who organized the conference. “It’s only used in those cases where the Devil is involved in an extraordinary sort of way in terms of actually being in possession of the person.

Let’s ponder that last quote for a moment. Exorcism is needed when the devil is involved. Otherwise, one doesn’t really need that directed Latin. I see.

“But it’s rare, it’s extraordinary, so the use of exorcism is also rare and extraordinary,” he said. “But we have to be prepared.”

Yes, I strongly suspect that is rare. And extraordinary. And supernatural, it goes without saying. But the church is on the job. Take THAT, you evil secularist doubter who stands by while that misogynistic Satan has his way with small boys and helps protect the pedophiles in his employ. Oh, wait… I’m thinking of… umm… (diversion is needed)… Squirrel!

Where was I? Exorcism. Right.

So how does one diagnose demonic possession?

Some of the classic signs of possession by a demon, Bishop Paprocki said, include speaking in a language the person has never learned (excluding Latin, I presume); extraordinary shows of strength; a sudden aversion to spiritual things like holy water or the name of God; and severe sleeplessness, lack of appetite and cutting, scratching and biting the skin.

A person who claims to be possessed must be evaluated by doctors to rule out a mental or physical illness, according to Vatican guidelines issued in 1999, which superseded the previous guidelines, issued in 1614.

1999. Yup. New guidelines. 1999. The age of rare, extraordinary, supernatural demonic infestations are being re-defined by Vatican bureaucrats for their version of the disease in DSM IV (under Demonic Possession, no doubt) while atom colliders are being built deep underground, genomes are being catelogued, and missions to Mars are being carried out.

Now that leaves me wondering what kind of doctor rules out mental or physical illness for a bat shit crazy person babbling incoherently (sorry… speaking in ‘tongues’ is the correct lingo I think) and exhibiting violent behaviours including self harm? I would tend to think it must be a bat shit crazy doctor who is no longer able to maintain a living as a general practitioner… for somewhat obvious reasons of having lost his mind and turning to Oogity Boogity! for his professional opinion. I’m glad that such a person is not my family doctor and the church is welcome to him (I assume no women would fit the employment criteria… having the wrong gonads and all).

“People are talking about, are we taking two steps back?” Father Vega said. “My first reaction when I heard about the exorcism conference was, this is another of those trappings we’ve pulled out of the past.”

But he said that there could eventually be a rising demand for exorcism because of the influx of Hispanic and African Catholics to the United States. People from those cultures, he said, are more attuned to the experience of the supernatural.

That’s religious-speak for too damned ignorant to know any better, which is just the way the church likes ’em. Especially those with an MD after their names. Always room at the inn, dontcha know, if you have the right gonads, the right frequency tuned to bat shit crazy, and the right gullibility to think modern medicine and demonic possession are mutually accommodating.

And people think science and religion are incompatible. I know! Those militant, strident, and arrogant atheistic secularists say the most ridiculous things!

March 12, 2010

How can we tell if someone is possessed by Satan?

Filed under: Catholic Church,Demons,Exorcism,Satan,Vatican — tildeb @ 3:45 pm

Pretty easy, actually. Just look at their vomit.

Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s Chief  Exorcist, said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron.

How do we know Satan is active in the possession business these days? Why, silly, the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, is ample proof that the Anti-Christ is waging a war against the Holy See! Read more about this demonic onslaught here.

It’s all so… so… plausible.

Isn’t it?

February 17, 2010

No joke: Demonology classes for everyone?

They gather in Poland…

Congress participants argued that demonology lessons should be treated more seriously in seminaries and that ordinary people, too, would benefit from knowing more about exorcisms. During the congress, the priests discussed the main causes of possession by demons such as occult, esoteric beliefs like magic, eastern meditation and homeopathy.

I’ve just got to hear more about which branch of homeopathy causes demonic possession.

When someone asserts that one thing causes another, this is a scientific claim open to scientific scrutiny about causation. So please go ahead, graduates from the Vatican’s ‘university’ program that produces officially sanctioned exorcists, and prove the existence of demons, prove that demon possession is possible, and prove that exorcism contains the necessary efficacy to thwart and remove such possessions.

How can this nonsense still be believed in this day and age? These people should be ashamed of themselves for sacrificing their rational minds on the alter of some religious belief in oogity boogity. What’s that you say about scriptural evidence? Oh right. I nearly forgot: because the NT tells us that Jesus cast out demons, demons must be real. Sorry about that oversight: with such astounding evidence to back up the existence of demons, it’s no wonder these malignant magical critters hide in similar oogity boogity places like homeopathy.

It is beginning to make sense why demons hang out where they do… there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

January 6, 2010

Will the real god please stand up?

First there was this dog’s breath  article by Karen Armstrong (not that I’m the only biased one when it comes to abhorring Armstrong’s researching abilities… read this review here) where she makes all kinds of incoherent statements, like “when we treat religion as something to be derided, dismissed, or destroyed, we risk amplifying its worst faults.” You see, in Karen’s mind the real god is the god behind the god, and what most religious people believe isn’t about this ‘real’ god at all. I’m sure the billions of people who profess religious faith will be surprised to read of their error in her latest best-selling pablum-spewing book The Case for God. Just to cover her bases, Armstrong conveniently shifts all blame for any negative effect from religiously inspired behaviours and political expressions to people who have either been forced into extremism by how secular values have been implemented or who have misunderstood the ‘real’ religious message. She falls back on the standard apologetic canard that Homo sapiens is also Homo religiosus because people have long believed in various superstitions.

Good grief.

Sam Harris, one the authors I most highly admire for clarity and pointed linguistic accuracy about the very real dangers unquestioned religious belief presents to all of us today, has responded to Armstrong’s long-winded and serpentine article here. Once again, he scores a direct hit with his biting satire and we would be wise to listen to what he has to say.

For example, he responds to Armstrong’s depiction of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism (Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett) as people who have made the mistake of  categorizing religious “fundamentalism” for the totality of religion:

I can’t quite remember how we got it into our heads that jihad was linked to violence. (Might it have had something to do with the actual history and teachings of Islam?) And how could we have been so foolish as to connect the apparently inexhaustible supply of martyrs in the Muslim world to the Islamic doctrine of martyrdom? In my own defense, let me say that I do get spooked whenever Western Muslims advocate the murder of apostates (as 36 percent of Muslim young adults do in Britain). But I now know that these freedom-loving people just “want to see God reflected more clearly in public life.

Armstrong reveals that she still doesn’t get what Sam is talking about with a response to Harris’ criticism.

No surprise there.

December 9, 2009

Is there any difference between religion and superstition?

Witch hunter Helen Ukpabio, head of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria, has filed a lawsuit in Nigerian federal court against Leo Igwe, CFI’s (Center For Inquiry) representative in Nigeria.

The suit, scheduled for a hearing on Dec.17, is seeking an injunction preventing Igwe and other humanist groups from holding seminars or workshops aimed at raising consciousness about the dangers associated with the religious belief in witchcraft. The suit aims to erect a legal barrier against rationalist or humanist groups who might criticize, denounce or otherwise interfere with their practice of Christianity and their “deliverance” of people supposedly suffering from possession of an “evil or witchcraft spirit.” The suit also seeks to prevent law enforcement from arresting or detaining any member of the Liberty Gospel Church for performing or engaging in what they say are constitutionally protected religious activities. These activities include the burning of three children, ages 3 through 6, with fire and hot water, as reported by James Ibor of the Basic Rights Counsel in Nigeria on August 24, 2009. The parents believed their children were witches.

Ukpabio is seeking damages of 200 billion Nigerian Naira, more than $1.3 billion, for supposedly unlawful and unconstitutional infringement on her rights to belief in “God, Satan, witchcraft, Heaven and Hell fire” and for the alleged unlawful and unconstitutional detention of two members of her church.

Read the entire article here.

Ah yes, the old Let’s-pretend-to-be-reasonable-and-use-the-evil-secular-law-to-enforce-my-superstitious-nonsense ploy, and then, after you lose in court, you can then use that legal decision to support the insane notion that it is your right-to-practice-your-religion-over-and-above-respecting-the-human-rights-of-others or your freedom of religion is under attack by secularist forces that refuse to RESPECT RELIGIOUS BELIEFS!

In the meantime, more children will be killed and mutilated on the alter of practicing superstitious nonsense…err… I mean the ugly side of the face that is just as much religious belief in action as is the more attractive face of helping the poor.

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