Posted: April 16th, 2012 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Opposing bigotry, religion I can accept | No Comments »
No time to really say much but I’ve been following the conversation on a Lutheran Church of Australia blog that I’ve mentioned a couple of times before. This site is really worth paying attention to. Imagine, a Christian site that posts these two pictures, and says that the second one is the more honest.
This is what the loving Christians of Focus on Family hand out in schools, when they can get away with it.
And this is what they mean. Many thanks to Neil at In My Opinion, the Lutheran Church of Australia blog, for bringing this to my attention. If there were more Christians like these in the world, I might not have such a low opinion of organized religion.
Posted: April 8th, 2012 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: freedom of speech and rule of law, How Weird is our Culture, The Conviction That God is a Fiction | No Comments »
A friend of mine, an elderly teacher and full time Mormon, sent me the following Easter greeting:
###############begin email from Mormon friend######################
I always taught my students about the western Christian holiday of “Easter” and while I very briefly explained the spiritual history and culture of this truly special day, I spent most of my time sharing with them the fun traditions of the Easter Bunny, Easter baskets, the Easter bonnet, Peter Cottontail and other secular activities. One year when I opened the classes up to questions, one of my students asked, “Can you celebrate this holiday if you weren’t Christian?”
I explained to him that just as Christmas is a Christian holiday, even non-Christians celebrate the worldly part of Santa Claus, Christmas trees and giving presents. I assured him that the same thing takes place with Easter. Though it is a Christian celebration, even nonreligious people have fun with the Easter bunny, Easter baskets and the dyeing and hiding of Easter eggs.
However, you and I know the true meaning of Easter and we recognize the gift of the atonement that was given to us at that time by the Savior who was willing to suffer, bleed and die that we are given the opportunity to return home to the God who loves us. We can never underestimate the pain and anguish of those hours in Gethsemane, the disgrace of that mockery of a trial, the cruelty of the beatings, that tragic walk along the Via Dolorosa and those horrific hours on the cross. We give profound gratitude for That One Solitary Life who has given our lives meaning and purpose.
May this be a joyful and meaningful Easter to all of you.
C. and B.
####################end email from Mormon friend#######################
The email had a PPT attachment, an emotional song about the crucification called “Via Dolorosa” sung by Sandi Patti with full orchestration, accompanied with Hollywood images. It arrived on the same morning I learned about Alexander Aan who faces five years in prison in Indonesia for declaring himself an atheist on Facebook. I simply had to respond.
The true meaning of Easter is not Christian. It is most decidedly pagan, and predates Christianity by a few years. It was originally a celebration of fertility, of spring and a returning of life to the earth, the day when parents would encourage their children to go out into woods and have sex. Hence the bunnies and eggs. The day itself is named after the goddess Ēostre of Anglo-Saxon paganism, the goddess of fertility.
So of course you can celebrate the holiday if you aren’t Christian. I celebrate it and I’m not a pagan either.
> However, you and I know the true meaning of Easter and we recognize the gift
> of the atonement that was given to us at that time by the Savior who was
> willing to suffer, bleed and die that we are given the opportunity to return
> home to the God who loves us. We can never underestimate the pain and
> anguish of those hours in Gethsemane, the disgrace of that mockery of a
> trial, the cruelty of the beatings, that tragic walk along the Via Dolorosa
> and those horrific hours on the cross. We give profound gratitude for That
> One Solitary Life who has given our lives meaning and purpose.
This line has been inserted because a glitch in the program won’t accept a line feed.
C____, that may be your “meaning of Easter” but claiming that it is the “true meaning” is a bit presumptuous. Yes, Christ had a bad weekend. Not quite as bad as my mother’s recent death from cancer, but pretty bad. I just don’t understand how you could think his time on the cross means anything to anybody else. The whole concept goes right back to the scapegoat, the absurd idea that one can put ones sins onto a goat and chase it out into the desert, ridding you of guilt. If that was the best plan God could come up with, to sacrifice his son to save humanity (in what wasn’t a sacrifice at all because the dude isn’t really dead) then I think the whole story needs some serious critical thought.
I apologize if you find me offensive. I’m a little angry this morning, and I’ve decided to react this way whenever a religious person tells me about their beliefs, because it’s time we atheists push back a bit. As I type this a man in Indonesia is facing five years in jail simply for saying that God doesn’t exist. “Atheism is a violation of Indonesian law under the founding principles of the country. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, recognizes the right to practice six religions in total: Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhism and Confucianism. Atheism is, however, illegal. According to Indonesian criminal law, anyone who tries to stop others believing in a faith could face up to five years in jail for blasphemy.”
I’m sure you feel that you have the absolute truth, that your beliefs are unassailable, and that nobody could fault you for spreading them around. That’s exactly how I feel. So when you tell me your story about why Jesus and God are so wonderful, I feel an absolute obligation to correct your misinformation and give you my point of view on the situation.
C____, I experience you and B____ as truly wonderful people. I know you both have very kind hearts, and only want the best for everybody. Please accept that I feel the same, and recognize that the push back you get from me is just the same as you dish out, just my point of view. I do not dislike you, or even dislike Christianity or Mormonism. I am not a hater. I have love in my heart for my fellow human beings. I just want the same right to spread my beliefs as you enjoy, and I’ve started to assert that right.
That said, have a happy Easter.
############end reply to Mormon friend##################
The PPT my Mormon friend attached ends with some rather extravagant claims for the achievements of Jesus Christ. “Twenty centuries have come and gone and today Jesus Christ is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.” Oh please. The leader of mankind’s progress? “All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned put together have not affected the life of mankind on this earth as much as that one solitary life.”
Give me a break. Give me a fucking break. You can only spread bullshit so thick before it starts to get up your nose.
Posted: April 6th, 2012 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: freedom of speech and rule of law, science and technology | No Comments »
So Arizona has a bill in the works to “protect people from one-on-one harassment”, according to Rep. Vic Williams, a Tucson Republican who helped sponsor the bill. He sees this as a “bona fide” need. And the solution to one-on-one harassment? Make it illegal to “annoy” or “offend” anybody on line. Sheesh. There goes this site, and most of the other sites I enjoy, plus ninety five percent of the posts on Facebook. This is obviously another example of control freaks looking for an issue to get their names in the news, while not having clue one about how the Internet works or what its values are.
I do see a problem with cyberbullying, stalking, and harassment. But the answer is not to make laws against it. The answer is to teach people how to deal with it. Just about all of our communications systems allow us to block messages we don’t want to read. Or we can just ignore the idiots who are harassing us, which is a fate worse than death for most of them. If you are of a more reactive temperament, you can engage in flame wars and insults back at the bully. On the Internet we can all be ten feet talk and talk like a drunken sailor on leave. And if somebody is really being bothered, we need Internet savvy support people who can administer a cyber spanking to the perpetrator. We don’t need a law making annoying somebody illegal.
For the past few months I’ve been harassed by an elderly troll. He’s been sending out emails in all caps to everybody on his mailing list, calling me a coward and a liar. I know they’ve gone to everybody on his mailing list because the idiot puts his entire list in the CC field instead of the BCC field. I was really enjoying ignoring him, but finally somebody on his mailing list , some friend in his MLM downline, took him to task for being a jerk. That seems to have stopped the harassment. That’s the way you deal with cyber harassment.
I watched a TED talk the other night by Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, on the subject of controlling the Internet. Falkvinge put the surveillance proposals in a different frame. What would the previous generation, the generation before the Internet, have said if the government made it illegal to send a letter anonymously, gave itself the right to open each and every letter and copy the contents, and put a microphone on every restaurant table. There would have been a huge outcry and protest. But because the Internet is new, and the older generation doesn’t really understand that it is just a communications medium, they think equivalent controls on the Internet communications are just totally okay. They aren’t. We need the right to be anonymous. We need the right to privacy. We need the right to offend and annoy anybody.
Here’s another article that really sums up the battles over control of the Internet. It’s long, but really worth reading. I obviously favor anarchy and chaos when it comes to controlling the Internet. But I do see the need for security. Heavy security, so that hackers can’t access my bank account, steal my identity, or discover my real name and come to kill me. Unfortunately it looks like the controls that various governments are pushing for are not going to protect me. They are going to protect the governments, the establishment, and prevent me from being a part of a global community that is just now starting to take shape.
I often fear that we may someday look back on these past few years as the golden age of the Internet, before it froze us all out. Of course if that happens, we’ll create dark nets and society will simply fracture. And I guess that could be okay too. But the fact is there is an old guard establishment that doesn’t understand the Internet and doesn’t use it very much, if at all. The whiteout on the screen people. But they do see that the Internet is changing the world, and this is making they very nervous. We need to sooth them, educate them, and make sure they don’t do anything stupid that destroys what we love about this new world.
Posted: April 2nd, 2012 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Once again Neil Hart has spoken on his blog about the same sex marriage issue in Australia. He’s in favour of it. Neil is a pastor. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I think it means a guy who is fairly entrenched in religion. His church, The Lutheran Church of Australia, has been petitioning the Australian government in opposition to a change in the legislation that would give same sex couples equal rights.
But here’s the thing. Neil Hart is making noises about how out to lunch the LCA (Lutheran Church of Australia) is on this issue. He’s been posting Jesus and Mo cartoons to support his position.
You know, if all Lutherans were like Neil Hart I might not have such contempt for organized religion. Go check out his blog entry and maybe applaud his position in the comments. I’m sure he’d like some support from the atheists.
Posted: April 1st, 2012 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Here’s a rant entitled An open letter to the New Athiests by a guy named Jason Miller, who describes himself thusly:
- Author, Teacher, Sorceror. My published works include “The Sorcerer’s Secrets, Strategies in Practical Magick” and “Protection and Reversal Magick”. To buy books, take my course, or check out my schedule go to WWW.INOMINANDUM.COM
In his open letter, Jason the sorcerer admonishes us atheists to be more polite and less offensive in our attacks on the ideas held by people of his ilk. He warns us that this alienates them, presumably because being told they are wrong hurts their feelings, and the result is that they won’t like us. If they don’t like us, he goes on to say, we won’t win any arguments.
My first reaction to this was to see his rant as reasonable. He sounds reasonable. But the example he gives us us being rude doesn’t sound all that rude to me. Not nearly as rude as his characterization of us.
##################begin quote from the sorcerer###############
Your message is that you don’t believe in God, but you DO believe in being an asshole about not believing in God.
Lets take a look at some of the slogans and images that you guys send around, and which you seem to be so tickled by:
“Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.”
Ooooooooh. Thats deep man. Here’s the thing though. Doing what you are told regardless of what is right has nothing to do with religion. It happens within religions and it happens outside of religions. It happens period. If anything, I would argue that religion has moved a lot more people to put themselves in harms way in the name of doing what is right despite what they have been told a lot more than most Athiests would be comfortable with. For every kiddie-diddling Priest, there is another one who is staying on in a hostile zone where even the UN and aid agencies have bailed out, so that he can do gods work and tend to the sick and poor. For every dipshit who thinks that evolution needs to be taken out of our schools, there is a nun or even just a regular pious individual going to offer aid to those in need. Sometimes they are even the same person.
############end quote from sorcerer###########
“Ooh. that’s deep man” ? Sneering sarcasm? So, let me get this straight. It’s rude of us to characterize religion as something other than what you call religion, but it isn’t rude of you to call me an “asshole”. Hmmn. Interesting argumentation style this guy has.
Most Western religions, certainly Christianity, have a lot to do with obeying authority, with doing what you are told whether you think it is moral or not. No doubt there are exceptions to this, and I mentioned one in a previous post, a minister chiding his church for bigotry and bias against the LBGT community. In fact, I put that minister’s blog in my links I was so impressed. (and you should run over there right now while he still has the comedian up on his site. Hannah Gadsby is worth a listen.) But the fact is, he is the exception. How can religious people tell me that their religion is the source of their morality, and then complain when I suggest that they can’t tell right from wrong without their religion.
Jason then goes on to tell us rude atheists to stop telling people that religion is anti-science. “Religion is not anti-science, most people that are religious are also pro-science and accept science as evidence over religious doctrine.” Okay. Now keep in mind that I’m being told this by a guy who scams people by claiming to be a sorcerer. Does he have a diploma from Hogwarts? How does he reconcile his chosen profession with the claim that he is not “anti-science”. I can’t imagine anything much more anti-science than a belief in sorcery.
His second point: “The argument of “I am in the right and everyone must do what I say” never works well, even when you are in fact right.” First of all, I hear very few atheists saying “everyone must do what I say.” In fact I’ve never heard an atheist say that. I have heard religious people say that. Lots of times. But this is beside the point. What Jason the Sorcerer is telling us is even when we are right, don’t tell people about it because that makes them dislike us and we won’t win any arguments. Duh? Keep my mouth shut while ignorant people spout nonsense? That’s how to win the argument?
So I’m in the middle of writing this post and I browse over to Pharyngula only to discover that PZ has already slapped this guy down. Damn it, PZ. I know you are more connected than I am, and get the news faster, but you don’t need to be so damn prolific. Give us lesser mortals a chance to blog about something before you make the definitive statement. In this case PZ’s whole response is short enough to quote in it’s entirety.
March 31, 2012 at 10:46 am
Oh, great. Now we’re being hectored by sorcerers. In An open letter to the New Athiests, some guy Who peddles a One Year Intensive Course in real magic wags his finger and lectures us on what’s wrong with “athiests” — we’re all a bunch of dicks.
In short, you have a lot of important things to say but as long as you continue to prenent yourselves like obnoxious zealots far keener to argue than discuss and talk at rather than with, you will actually only set yourselves further back and make the word “Athiest” into an even more misunderstood word than it already is. It wont be because you are wrong necessarily. It will just be because no one likes you.
Right. I’m going to take advice from a self-proclaimed sorcerer who makes a long tirade against atheists and misspells the term every single time.
Here’s the problem: I’ve noticed that people who deeply wrong, like sorcerers, Christians, and creationists, love to tell us that being right isn’t as important as being liked. I suspect they’re driven by self-interest rather than honesty.
All I can say is…you don’t understand me at all if you think I’m trying to persuade you to like me, dumbass.
################end quote from PZ Meyers#################
I make enough spelling mistakes and typos that I usually don’t pick on other people for doing the same, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Not only does Jason the Sorcerer not know how to spell “atheist”, he seems to think we are in the habit of “prenenting” ourselves. Nothing makes a person look like an illiterate moron more than typos and spelling mistakes, but in this case they were entirely unnecessary. The intellect on display accomplished this with no elaboration needed. Jason Miller, I’ve managed to live without your wise counsel for over half a century now, without losing all of my friends or all of my arguments. I think I can safely ignore your advice.