Category Archives: religion

The Age of American Unreason

I could not resist the title! That’s one of the items on the ‘menu’ at the upcoming 2007 Conference of the Center for Inquiry. The conference in New York City will take place Nov 9-11 at the New York Academy of Sciences.

 Themes will include:

  • The Age of American Unreason
  • The Next Islamic Enlightenment
  • Science and the Public
  • Student Freethinkers Speak Out
  • Secularism through History: from Spinoza to JFK

“The world is finally waking up to the dangers of religious faith.  Books defending reason and religious skepticism top the bestseller lists. Secular Muslims are standing up for freedom of thought.  The secular perspective has finally gained currency in the media and in cross-cultural dialogue.  Young freethinkers and secularists are organizing and speaking out on campuses, ready to carry the torch of secularism into the new millennium.”

 Be a part of this historic event. Register today!It sounds interesting.

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Regress pressures Rowan

Ultimatum on Anglican church gays

“Conservative Christians will throw down the gauntlet to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week by demanding that he openly disowns the American church over gay bishops.”

I did not post this because I care whether or not the Church of England splits from the American Anglican Church. I noticed this because ultraconservative Wycliffe College at the University of Oxford has recently run afoul of university authorities. However, the entire petulant fiasco is much what one can expect from religionists who threaten boycotts and schisms when their bigotted, narrow, absolutist, hatreds are not honored. My advise: to Anglicans, gain rationality and embrace humanist tolerance; to Church officials, grow up, gain rationality, and embrace humanist tolerance.

At the time of the original furor over New Hampshire’s gay bishop, Gene Robinson, I saw him interviewed on television and was impressed by his genuine ‘goodness’.  This suitability by virtue of personal qualities should be the determinant of election to a post, and it really should not matter what life partner he has chosen.

Apparently, the bigoted fundamentalists of the CofE’s ‘Reform’ group are delivering the ultimatum because the ‘Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has said that homosexuality is not a “disease” on the eve of a crucial decision that could split the Anglican Church worldwide.’

One definition of reform is this: ‘make changes for improvement in order to remove abuse and injustices’. [source] Typically, fundamentalist reformers are not interested in moving forward to remove abuse and injustices, but instead wish to return to archaic abuse and injustices.

The bigotted CofE group would have been more honest if they had called themselves ‘Regress’.  I can only hope that Rowan Williams will stand up to their pressure.

C of E faces boycott over gay priests row

8 October 2007: Church of England gay clergy row intensifies

4 October 2007: Church leaders on the brink of schism

26 September 2007: For now, US Anglicans give in to Archbishop

25 September 2007: Anglican Church could split by end of year

23 September 2007: Homosexuality not a ‘disease’, says Archbishop

23 September 2007: Archbishop prays for miracle in gay rights row

16 September 2007: Archbishop fears split over gay clergy

  
 

Felling the Tree of Knowledge

Creationists are playing dirty . . . again.

No news in that, I guess. The latest creationist ploy was to run to YouTube demanding removal of videos posted by the Rational Response Squad that criticized the Creation Science Evangelism ministry*. (Not that there is really anything scientific about Christianity, but most fundamentalist creationists are too cognitively challenged to know that. Still, the site is hilarious in a Monty Python Parodies God modeif you enjoy the antics of the terminally deluded, that is.)

WIRED magazine reports that under pressure from Hovind’s Hounds, YouTube not only pulled the critical videos, but suspended the Rational Response Squad’s account.  Kent Hovind, the founder of the Creation Science Evangelism who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for tax evasion, had encouraged use of the content on the ministry’s web site.

The RRS wrote an open letter citing fair use under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was passed in 1998. The videos were eventually reposted, so they should be getting lots of traffic thanks to the publicity generated by the ‘Christian Anti-science Fundamentalist’ ministry. The Rational Response Squad’s account has also been reinstated.

Needless to say, the CSE website will now be using YouTube to air its own videos for its deluded followers :

“Exciting things are happening here at CSE as we further the creation message! We now have YouTube and GodTube accounts. There you can view our promos and other recommended resources. These will help equip you in introducing the world to Christ our Creator. Subscribe to us and be notified of new videos. We’ve also released a new promo . . .”

Kinda makes you wonder why God Himself didn’t get a YouTube account to post videos in support of his revelataions. Better yet, why doesn’t God perform a miracle and upload video footage of miracles from His archives?  After all, an Omnipotent Omniscient Being should find uploading archival videos, or better yet, footage of new miracles a synch.

Oh, I know why CSE has to go to all this troublethere really is no God, just deluded Earthlings.

 * why a link to googling rather than the site.

Creationist vs. Atheist YouTube War Marks New Breed of Copyright Claim .

Narrow Fundamentalist Colleges Judged Unsuitable

When searching for a blog topic, it’s always fruitful to drop in on a known b*g*t. I have no plans to comment there since the b*g*t merely entrenches, yet I did find some fodder. Continue reading

Crises of Faith and Vitriolic Reversals

Christopher Hitchens has been accused of earning atheism a bad name. Like believers, atheists come in all shapes and sizes. It would indeed be unfortunate if some with a penchant for publishing are making their attacks too personal. Conflict does sells books, newspapers and movies because people are drawn to conflict in all its forms: professional sports, soap operas, wars. 

Dinesh D’Souza, author of a book entitled The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, is not someone with whom I’d expect to agree on much. In Mother Theresa’s Dark Night of the Soul, D’Souza misses the point that so many Christians have a crisis of faith precisely because all the evidence points away from a God, rather than merely not providing evidence for belief. However, the emotional emptiness that Mother Theresa described cannot be taken as equivalent to knowing “that “religion is a human fabrication,”” It could be, it could not. It could simply be that the fact that there is not a loving God who actually touches lives and hearts leaves some who have relied on the promises feeling, as Mother Theresa describes, empty and lonely. Since there is no God, those who imagine there to be one are either deluding themselves over a personally generated sense of connection or, like Mother Theresa, are deluding us.

According to D’Souza, upon reading of her crisis in Time, Hitchens changed his line of attack on Mother Theresa from “self-satisfied dogmatist” to depicting her “as a secret unbeliever.” Not that “secret unbeliever” is a particularly inflammatory remark, particularly in view of the fact that, based on Mother Theresa’s diaries, she was at the very least a secret doubter.

I have not read Hitchens’ books, and as an atheist, I have no need to. I am already convinced that the supernatural does not exist, so why would I spend money to read what is widely touted as personal vitriol? I can find that in abundance on the Internet.  

However, I would agree with D’Souza that indiscriminate attack of iconic believers would give atheists a bad name. Expressed hatred attracts animosity toward those religiously motivated bigots and zealots who attack others. Indiscriminate attack on believers is as unconvincing to the fair-minded as accusing all atheists of virulent attitudes simply because some write as Hitchens reportedly writes. 

Has D’Souza merely taken a couple of words from Hitchens’ books and distorted Hitchens’ level of animosity? This certainly appears possible and would be in line with the thinking of someone who would blame an Islamic atrocity on the cultural left. Judging by Teresa, Bright and Dark, Hitchens actually takes a fairly soft line on Theresa.

However, Hitchens does point out that private doubt can drive individuals to even greater public protestations. The public anti-homosexual protestations of U.S. Senator Larry Craig, arrested for soliciting gay sex in a public washroom and subsequently pleading guilty, are a recent example of this phenomenon of protesting too much. I am not fooled, as some have been, by Craig’s accusations against the police that he only levelled after the story leaked into the media. In Craig’s case, I think that the root cause of problems such as his lie in American entrenched bigotry. In Canada, the gay marriages of elected politicians are mostly well received by the public.

Back to the original topic: So, Mother Theresa had a crisis of faith! So what! My sympathy is actually with the sense of loss that she endured. I think that the real point is that whatever her private religious anguish, she continued to be dedicated to humanitarian values. She is not the only person to have dedicated a life to alleviating suffering, and probably not the only person amongst those to have suffered a loss of faith. My only objection to Mother Theresa’s particular case of failed faith centers on her having crusaded crusade against divorce, abortion and contraception. I should have objected to such narrow moralism whether or not she imagined herself to be communing with some imaginary God or suffering a crisis of failed expectations. 

Hitchens is undoubtedly expressing some personal angst in his books and he and his publisher undoubtedly know that colorful language sells better than logic. Having read Hitchens’ quite moderate and intelligent remarks in the Newsweek article, I’m inclined to think that I should buy his books and see for myself.