Questionable Motives

March 23, 2010

Creeping religious accommodation: why should we enforce respect?

We shouldn’t.

Excerpts from John Hari’s article in The Independent:

In 2005, 12 men in a small secular European democracy decided to draw a quasi-mythical figure who has been dead for 1400 years. They were trying to make a point. They knew that in many Muslim cultures, it is considered offensive to draw Mohamed. But they have a culture too – a European culture that believes it is important to be allowed to mock and tease and ridicule religion. Some of the cartoons were witty. Some were stupid. One seemed to suggest Muslims are inherently violent – an obnoxious and false idea. If you disagree with the drawings, you should write a letter, or draw a better cartoon, this time mocking the cartoonists. But some people did not react this way. Instead, Islamist plots to hunt the artists down and slaughter them began. Earlier this year, a man with an axe smashed into one of their houses, and very nearly killed the cartoonist in front of his small grand-daughter.

This week, another plot to murder the cartoonists who drew caricatures of Mohammad seems to have been exposed, this time allegedly spanning Ireland and the United States, and many people who consider themselves humanitarians or liberals have rushed forward to offer condemnation – of the cartoonists. One otherwise liberal newspaper ran an article saying that since the cartoonists had engaged in an “aggressive act” and shown “prejudice… against religion per se”, so it stated menacingly that no doubt “someone else is out there waiting for an opportunity to strike again”.

Let’s state some principles that – if religion wasn’t involved – would be so obvious it would seem ludicrous to have to say them out loud. Drawing a cartoon is not an act of aggression. Trying to kill somebody with an axe is. There is no moral equivalence between peacefully expressing your disagreement with an idea – any idea – and trying to kill somebody for it. Yet we have to say this because we have allowed religious people to claim their ideas belong to a different, exalted category, and it is abusive or violent merely to verbally question them. Nobody says I should “respect” conservatism or communism and keep my opposition to them to myself – but that’s exactly what is routinely said about Islam or Christianity or Buddhism. What’s the difference?

This enforced “respect” is a creeping vine. It soon extends beyond religious ideas to religious institutions – even when they commit the worst crimes imaginable. It is now an indisputable fact that the Catholic Church systematically covered up the rape of children across the globe, and knowingly, consciously put paedophiles in charge of more kids. Joseph Ratzinger – who claims to be “infallible” – was at the heart of this policy for decades.

And the ever perceptive Jesus and Mo:

March 14, 2010

What are Mark Twain’s thoughts about god?

From Intelligent Design to the problem of suffering, Mark Twain cook up an answer to this question in this article with his usual humor and aplomb.

First the dash of humor:

How often we are moved to admit the intelligence exhibited in both the designing and the execution of some of His works. Take the fly, for instance. The planning of the fly was an application of pure intelligence, morals not being concerned. Not one of us could have planned the fly, not one of us could have constructed him; and no one would have considered it wise to try, except under an assumed name. It is believed by some that the fly was introduced to meet a long-felt want.

and then a bit of the aplomb:

We hear much about His patience and forbearance and long-suffering; we hear nothing about our own, which much exceeds it. We hear much about His mercy and kindness and goodness—in words—the words of His Book and of His pulpit—and the meek multitude is content with this evidence, such as it is, seeking no further; but whoso searcheth after a concreted sample of it will in time acquire fatigue. There being no instances of it.

Read the entire reproduced article here from Project Reason.

January 7, 2010

Do you cook?

Filed under: Culinary Arts,Entertainment,Humour — tildeb @ 3:20 pm

For those of you who understand the frustrations of cooking, feel free to read this very funny piece over at the new Yorker. But be warned; it’s penned by the (in)famous and aptly named Cursing Mommy.

December 29, 2009

The Rabbit is the unanswerable question, don’t you see?

Filed under: Argument,Atheism,belief,Criticism,Entertainment,Faith,Humour,Religion — tildeb @ 8:05 pm

There is a brilliant satire over at Exquisite With Love regarding a nonsensical religious article that really pissed off the blog’s author, Miranda Celeste Hale. She writes:

Saturday’s edition of The Guardian’s Comment is free ran a piece by Mark Vernon, called “God is the question: What does it mean to accept that God is not the answer to anything, but remains the unanswerable question?” I have zero patience for this kind of rambly, meaningless, intentional obscurantism, this “God is an unknowable mystery that cannot be touched by reason or intellect and that cannot be put into words” ridiculousness espoused by this author, among others. It’s completely nonsensical word salad. It’s a bunch of empty, vague rationalizations for belief in God disguised in language that is intended to seem deep and profound.

Ouch! She continues:

This type of theologicalbabble also displays these authors’ willful ignorance about the God that most religious individuals believe in and about the horrible actions some believers engage in because of their blind religious faith. The average believer does not perceive God in the way that these authors do, a fact that the authors conveniently avoid acknowledging. By refusing to acknowledge this, they are both protecting themselves from being seen as “just a common believer” and pretending to be blind to the negative consequences of unquestioned religious belief. This type of writing is vacuous, hollow, dishonest, and willfully misleading.

She’s getting up a head of steam here, and rightly so.

So what is a person with a blog to do?

Well, she decided to rewrite the piece using the same argument but rather than use the word God, she substituted The Rabbit as the unknowable mystery to see what kind of sense we can make of it. The results are amusing to say the least.

Because it just so happens that I am a militant and strident arabbitist as well as an atheist, I had to keep reading:

You see, true enlightenment will only come when all of humanity realizes that even though The Rabbit is sometimes the answer, if and only if, in being the answer, he remains completely unknowable, there really is no answer, or, in other words, the answer is the question: “what”? Life is full of mysteries and is revealed to us as a beautifully enigmatic and puzzling question, one that cannot and will not ever be solved. So, too, The Rabbit.

Finally, a sensible answer to the question… I mean, the right question to the wrong answer… I mean, well, something profound, I’m almost sure…

Tell me, is there anything as clear or as simple as that?

Other than quantum mechanics, I don’t think so.

My strongest hope is that humanity will start to try to understand The Rabbit, He who is something so deep and so profound that we cannot possibly even begin to understand Him. Truly, that will be a blessed day indeed.

Blessed indeed. I am so close to being converted.

Make up your own mind with the entire piece here.

December 15, 2009

Charting the effectiveness of homeopathy treatments

Filed under: Entertainment,Homeopathy,Humour — tildeb @ 4:16 pm

Couldn’t resist.

Thanks given to webcomic.

December 3, 2009

The scientific case against powered flight

Short but brilliant piece over at the Sensuous Curmudgeon. Enjoy.

November 26, 2009

Faciltated American Thanksgiving

Filed under: Entertainment,Humour — tildeb @ 5:34 pm











Thanks to MacLeod Cartoons

November 21, 2009

Christian Science therapies: the conspiracy behind paying for prayer revealed

Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

Senator Harkin, says

“It is time to end the discrimination against alternative health care practices.”

“This is about giving people the pragmatic alternatives they want, while ending discrimination against practitioners of scientifically based alternative health care. It is about improving health care outcomes. And, yes, it is about reducing health care costs. Generally speaking, alternative therapies are less expensive and less intrusive – and we need to take advantage of that.”

Why would the government want to make sure prayer could be reimbursed as form of medical intervention? Surely our elected representative would not pander to their constituents? That would be beyond the pale.  There must be a deeper, more sinister, reason.  And I remember: dead people cost no money.

The application of Christian Scientology, er, no, it must be Christian Scientist therapies has well documented effects upon the Christian Science population. And those effects are not beneficial to anyone who is not a mortician.

For example, in 1989 JAMA published a cohort study (Yes, I know from the last post that cohort studies prove nothing nothing nothing, but I am uncertain how one would apply Christian Science in a randomized, placebo controled, double blinded manner).

They looked at outcomes in 5,500 Christian Scientists and compared them to a group of almost 30,000 controls using conventional medicine.

For each age group from 1934 to 1983, there was a greater death rate in the Christian Scientists when compared to the control population, a difference made more remarkable as Christian Scientists neither smoke nor drink.

So the real conspiracy (how’s that for an oxymoron) is that the US government wants to save health care dollars by recognizing and legitimizing complimentary and alternative medical procedures and therapies. Why? To kill you! Now there’s a death panel!

The complete article can be read here.

October 19, 2009

Naked atheistic aggression and fundamentalist militancy!

Filed under: Atheism,Education,Humour,Media,Philosophy,Religion — tildeb @ 3:42 pm

Atheist AA bitter rift is apparently opening a schism in the land of atheists, according to an article by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who quotes Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues. He says that this divide between those who wish to wage a more aggressive, often belittling posture toward religions and their believers and those who think that religions and the people who support them should be shown respect even if we don’t agree with them on all issues is causing a schism in the ranks of atheists. She goes on to quote the Centre for Inquiry’s founder Paul Kurtz on this new approach, who says, “I consider them atheist fundamentalists. They’re anti-religious, and they’re mean-spirited, unfortunately. Now, they’re very good atheists and very dedicated people who do not believe in God. But you have this aggressive and militant phase of atheism, and that does more damage than good.”

The point would be a good one if the examples of such a worrisome aggressive and militant phase weren’t so pathetic: PZ Myers nailing a cracker, people drawing less than flattering pictures of Jesus, such as one that shows him painting the nails not on his fingers but in his hands, and a few quoatable quotes from the curmudgeonly Hitchens. Now compare that kind of ‘militant’ behaviour with religiously inspired acts of mass murder and brutality, and see just how ”fundamentalist’ the new atheists really are.

Come on.

The new head of the Center for Inquiry, Ronald Lindsay, says, “The new atheists counter that they believe in reason, science and freedom from religious myth. We take the high road, the low road, country roads, interstates, highways, byways, — whatever it takes to reach people.”

Wow. How shockingly aggressive is that?

I don’t know if atheists can ever fully recover from such a bitter rift.

October 14, 2009

Ancient Alien Theory

Filed under: Atheism,Culture,Education,Entertainment,Humour,Religion — tildeb @ 3:53 pm

Since resistance is futile, and we must teach the controversy, I’ll post this. But why, oh why, is the logic so familiar?

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