Which religion is it?

The church bills itself as the one “true” Christian faith, and its theology promises families eternal relationships among those who remain faithful, sealing those gifts through special religious rites.

Among the reasons cited by those resigning are the church’s political activism against gay marriage and doctrinal teachings that conflict with scientific findings or are perceived as racist or sexist.

Answer here.

A really good pain in the ass

I’m reading an excellent book on critical thinking by Christopher DiCarlo called How to Be a Really Good Pain in the Ass. I heard an interview with him on Freethought Radio (I’m sensing a trend), and I thought I’d check it out. I didn’t find too much stuff online about the book, so I’m posting this talk. It’s pretty long, but it presents the main questions he raises in his book: How do humans go about investigating truth claims? What’s the difference between natural and supernatural worldviews? It’s top-notch skepticism and enjoyable reading. Check it out.

Shelley Segal – “Saved”

I just heard this song on a Freethought Radio podcast from a few weeks ago (I’m behind on my listening) and liked it immediately. I even like the lyrics, which remind me so much of the debates I have with theists.

Money quote:

You think it’s any of your business / what goes on between my thighs?

I look forward to hearing the rest of Shelley’s “An Atheist Album.”

The words of an angry militant atheist

If you’re like me, every time you post a link to Pharyngula someone chimes in that P.Z. Myers is loud, obnoxious, aggressive, childish and – if I share his immature attitude – the discussion may as well come to a close before it even begins. Ah, yes, that horrible old curmudgeon PZ – isn’t he just the angriest person you’ve ever read?

Well, he also wrote this:

Science also has the power to transform our sense of identity. Some of us are no longer People of the Word, members of a special tribe bound together by the narratives and rules in quaint old books. We are instead the People of Reality: we are united by common knowledge, by a sense of universality, by our commitment to evidence. Personally, I find no sense of myself in the Judeo-Christian fairy tales I was brought up with–they are too narrow, too bigoted, too false. The words of my people are written in the strands of DNA I find in every cell of my body, and the story they tell is clear and inspiring. We are all products of the natural world; stars died to create the elements we are made of, and 4 billion years of churning life struggled and was born and died to shape us. We are close kin to every single human being on the planet, without exception — there is no tribe that is outside our family. And even deeper, we are related to every living thing on earth. You simply cannot get any more universal than the scientific story of life.

Well golly gee willikers, folks – he’s a poet, too.

Assisi has atheists!

The light of reason breaking over Assisi

This is just a quick, informative post to let readers (and search engines) know that there is a new group on Facebook called Atei Assisi | Assisi Atheists. The idea behind it is to give atheists and other non-believers in the Assisi area – or Umbria, Italy and anywhere else they might live – some much-needed visibility.

Assisi, as most people know, is famous in all the world for one thing: St. Francis. A man who spoke to animals. A magician. And probably a charlatan (he was supposed to have stigmata - a red flag if ever there was one.)

It goes without saying that such a place probably has a bunch of frustrated atheists chomping at the bit. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything at all to “like” us. It’s free and always will be. So let’s show the theocrats we’re here to stay!

Justifiable anger

“Coming out is the single most effective political action a godless person can take.” - Greta Christina

I just bought Greta Christina’s new book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry: 99 Things That Piss Off the GodlessThe title sold me on it right away. The first chapter is called “Litany” and it’s just that: 99 reasons she’s angry (and why that anger is justified). The Kindle version is hyperlinked to all sorts of source material, making the book like an extended blog post – which is exactly how it began. (So, at least this time, I think maybe the Kindle version has an advantage over the paperback.)

Here’s the promo video she made. Now go read her book.

 

Religion (ain’t) for atheists

I’ve read a couple of favorable reviews of Alain de Botton’s new book, Religion for Atheists. The book sounds absolutely horrible. Seeing as many atheists have had a pretty hard time getting away from religion in the first place, why would they want to backpeddle and inject their lives with religious-type rituals?

…his descriptions of certain rituals, including communion, meditation, the Day of Atonement, and mourning rituals, evoke powerful nostalgia.

Seriously? The Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) evokes in me the taste of bile. This isn’t a joke; I’ve spent more than one joyous day atoning for my sins on the bathroom floor, hunched over a toilet, barfing. The central part of the ritual is fasting, which I find not only abhorrent but unnatural. When I do it, I get sick. So I’m not about to fawn over De Botton’s “descriptions of certain rituals.”

My wife has similarly negative memories of the Catholic rituals she was forced to grow up with. In fact, I think that’s one of the most liberating things about becoming a freethinker – the fact that we’re no longer bound to observe arbitrary traditions. Sure, we all love getting shikker (drunk) with our close friends and family once or twice a year, but I don’t think most non-religious people yearn for ritual in their lives. At least not the way De Botton seems to think.

Here’s another gem from the same review:

“Real freedom does not mean being wholly left to one’s own devices; it should be compatible with being harnessed and guided.”

The reviewer clarifies:

This sounds wonderfully similar to Rabbi Avraham HaKohen Kook’s explanation of the Torah as freedom.

But the Torah isn’t about freedom, not by a long shot. This is exactly the opposite of what the Torah is about, which is obedience to a tribal Jewish law concocted from traditional fairy tales. This sounds disturbingly similar to Catholic prelates pontificating about how Jesus is freedom, and without Him we are slaves.

If this is freedom, I’ll take the slavery of freethought any day.

Ask a question…

In a recent post, PZ Myers asks:

…do you see religion as a kind of social glue, or do you see it as a disastrously stupid collection of bad ideas? If you are in the latter camp, you’re a New Atheist.

I think any readers I have know I’m in the latter camp. Just wanted to make that clear for everyone, because it seems from his post that many believers actually believe what they say they do – and this has surprised at least one finger-wagging atheist. Well, go figger!