Whereas many Muslim-majority nations in the world are hopelessly and dangerously backward
Whereas it is highly desirable to facilitate such places in joining the modern world of democracy, religious freedom, women’s rights and.. not stoning people to death
Whereas singling out Muslim Americans from practicing their faith openly and freely as others do in America would kind of push the Muslim world away from the liberal west…
Therefore making a huge dickish deal about where they can and cannot put their Mosques is not helping us or them
File this under obvious. It’s disgusting me how many Americans and American politicians want to prevent other Americans from building a place of worship wherever they want to (pursuant to local building ordinances, etc.) If Muslim-Americans want to occupy the old Burlington Coat Factory two blocks away from where the World Trade Center stood, good for them.
Of course I personally think Islam is ridiculous. I think that about all supernatural beliefs. But I vehemently defend a person’s right to believe whatever they want–even if it’s ridiculous. After all, it is this very same toleration that allows me to say what I believe.
The most repulsive cherry on the tippy top of this whole shit sundae has got to be Newt Gingrich. He’s going to run for president, I guess. So he’s on television saying abfuckingsurd things about the issue: It “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust museum.” And suggesting that we in America should take our cue on religious liberty from Saudi Arabia, which doesn’t allow synagogues or churches within it’s borders.
This is what Republicans want to run on? Loudly demonizing their fellow Americans while simultaneously taking a whiz on the religious freedom our country was founded upon? Good luck with that.
On second thought, remembering how many of my friends and neighbors think the mosque should be prevented, maybe it’s winning issue for them.
Which brings me back to being disgusted.
I haven’t written about this in years, so here goes.
Intelligent Design (ID) is not science. That being the case, it has no place in the science curriculum of our public schools. (Or the science curriculum of any school, but I suppose private schools can be dumb if they want to be.)
Am I trying to avoid the teaching of religion in public schools? Hardly. I would love to see religion taught to every kid in every public school across America. As long as it’s taught as the factual history of belief in America and around the world–not religious indoctrination–I’m more than fine with it. I advocate for it.
But I digress. ID is not science. Right? Right. For one thing, it’s hypotheses are not falsifiable. Bang, right there: not science. However, you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t be) at the amount of argument I get on this point. In a recent discussion on the subject, an ID proponent offered this quote:
Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists…
I googled it. It’s from here.
I offered this one from wikipedia:
Advocates of intelligent design seek to fundamentally redefine science to accept supernatural explanations, arguing that intelligent design is a scientific theory under this new definition of science. The unequivocal consensus in the scientific community is that intelligent design is not science. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has stated that “creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.” The U.S. National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have termed it pseudoscience. Others in the scientific community have concurred, and some have called it junk science.
I was immediately chastised for citing wikipedia–totally untrustworthy! Anyone can go there and write anything they want!
True, sort of. But the rejection is bullshit in this case. I’m sure you noticed all the little  and  notes in the quote. That’s because in the wikiepdia article they are links to footnotes. Footnotes which contain links directly to the sources cited. Like the National Academy of Sciences–who wrote exactly what the wikipedia article said they did.
Would this be good enough for the wikipedia-scoffer? Of course not.
I was watching the BBC documentary Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State on Netflix and I started wondering about the sheer numbers of Jews killed by the Nazis. Most people give a figure of about six million. But how can one even contextualize that number? For example, how many US military deaths were there in WWII? What about other wars?
To Google. It’s weird how hard it is to find agreed-upon numbers of US military deaths in all our wars. But one thing became clear. When you total up military deaths–combat and non-combat, both sides of the Civil War, both theaters of WWII–it all adds up to less than six million. A lot less. The combined military deaths in every single war in the history of this country add up to just a fraction of the Jewish deaths in Nazi-controlled Europe.
That’s not an accident. It’s not a few rogue Nazi leaders. It’s not “things were tough in wartime ghettos and camps.” It’s the astonishingly efficient, systematic murdering of an entire ethnic group.
And of course others were killed in Nazi concentration camps, too, not just European Jews. Counting the others, one can easily double that six million figure.
Somehow, it’s an easy thing to forget, to simply not think about. Even I, of Jewish heritage, find it hard to think about. As I look at the numbers in my own spreadsheet, double-checking figures from web sites, there is a voice in my head saying “this can’t be right. It just can’t be.”
Nor has this been the only genocide in history. It may not even be the largest.
The most difficult thing about it all is that it’s not about war. It isn’t armed conflict over land, resources, money or political ideology. It’s about an inescapable fact of human nature: Our ability to hate and dehumanize other people. And it isn’t about our ancient forbearers or “uncivilized” African peoples. It’s all of us. Even today. It’s you and it’s me. Democracy is no barrier. Nor is religious faith or living in a prosperous, cultured society.
When I was a boy I noticed men and women in my community who had strange tattoos on their arms. My father explained to me what they meant. I didn’t really understand it then. Even now that I understand it, I don’t want to understand it. But I think I do.
It isn’t nice to make fun of the stupid, but sometimes it’s just necessary. Listen up, people: Atheism is not a religion.
Right now some of you are thinking “duh!” But believe me, there are others who are ready to go to the mat in vehement disagreement. I think it’s because they find this mind-bending bit of self-delusion useful. They usually trot it out whenever I say I really like the concept of having a secular government. They do not want a secular government. They want a government which sides with them on religious matters. You see, if they can establish that atheism is a religion, then atheism and their own faith are on equal footing when it comes to demands that the government adhere to it.
There are of course several problems with this. One being that a secular government isn’t the same as an atheistic government; it needn’t advocate or in any way “agree with” atheism. It is simply a government which remains neutral on the subject of religion. And being neutral on a subject is, well, the exact opposite of taking sides.
But an even more head-exploding problem with it is this: Atheism is by definition not a religion. In fact, saying that atheism is a religion is like saying not playing baseball is a sport. Think about it.
I guess it shouldn’t shock me that religious people sometimes believe things which make no sense. That’s kind of their whole MO. And I wouldn’t give a rats ass if people believe stupid things except that stupid people vote and otherwise impact public policy, shaping the world which I am forced to share with them.
I believe in secular government. A government which is as neutral as it can possibly be with regard to religion. And I believe it’s fundamentally important that people be absolutely free to worship as they please–and if they please. No citizen should ever have to listen to representatives of his government contradict him on strict matters of conscience or belief. No citizen should ever have to abide by laws which serve no secular purpose. What you believe–and whether you believe–should remain a fundamental right of the individual. Good government is a government which empresses no opinion on the matter whatsoever. People may be religious if they wish. Governments should never be. (See Iran, Republic of.)
Ironically, a secular government is the only kind of government which can fully protect the religious freedom of its citizens. The fact that some American Christians do not see this is simply because right now they are “winning” this unfair game. If they lived in a place where the president concluded speeches with “akbar Allah” they’d be clamoring for secular government on every street corner and wondering why everyone doesn’t immediately understand the fairness and wisdom of it.
Their position is so transparently self-serving that it makes me itch uncontrollably.
Incidentally, did you know that taking a day off is just another kind of working? And that “no thanks” is just another item on the dessert menu?
Something about this really bugs me, but I’m having a hard time expressing exactly what it is. How does it strike you?
I just finished listening to Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation on youtube. If you like the intellectual challenge of theist/atheist discussions, there’s no better way to dig in than to read (or listen) to Sam’s Letter. (There’s multiple parts to the youtube version. I found it easy enough to navigate to the next piece by following the link provided at the top of each concluded piece. Alternately, you can just buy the book.)
Incidentally, happy Passover.
can’t tell you what it feels like to see videos on YouTube of David Ray Griffin addressing people about it — one of America’s leading theologians expressing with absolute certainty the existence of a conspiracy so ludicrous it takes your breath away.
Yes, I for one am shocked–shocked!–that a theologian would believe ludicrous things.
Enough snark. Interesting interview with a guy who wrote a book about people’s tendency to believe conspiracy theories. Check it out.
Is it preposterous for a man to say that he doesn’t believe in the supernatural?
Is it immoral for him to say that ethical decisions should be based on the observations of this material world and not on speculation about an immaterial one that we cannot see?
Is it disrespectful for him to champion his position in the marketplace of ideas?
Is it impolite for him to point out that, at its core, religious faith is believing in something without regard to its evidentiary support?