Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Survey: Americans don’t know much about religion

Posted in News by Skepdude on September 28, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE WASHINGTON POST

A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.

Respondents to the survey were asked 32 questions with a range of difficulty, including whether they could name the Islamic holy book and the first book of the Bible, or say what century the Mormon religion was founded. On average, participants in the survey answered correctly overall for half of the survey questions.

Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE WASHINGTON POST

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Welcome to this world

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 18, 2010

If Christianity was explained to a child honestly, as it is taught in the Bible, this is what it would sound like.

Judge tries to save little girl’s eye….from her parents

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 15, 2010

Yes, you read it right. The 7-month old daughter of  members of the Followers of Christ church, risks loosing eyesight in her left eye due to blatant medical neglect on the part of her parents.

The Wylands’ daughter, Alayna, had a small discoloration over her left eye when she was born.

The area started swelling and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to shut, pushed the eyeball down and outward, and affected the eye socket, said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University.

“This was medical neglect,” said Valvano, who testified at the hearing. Alayna could lose vision in her left eye and probably will need surgery, he said.

I’ve read versions of this sad story countless times, yet I still cannot get over them. How can a parent play dice with their child’s health because of their imaginary god? At what point do your parental instincts kick in and make you say “to hell with the church, I’m saving my child”? I guess never for these people; something’s wrong in their head!

The Wylands said they never considered getting medical attention for the growth and would not have if DHS had not intervened.

Attorneys for the Wylands said the couple weren’t given a chance to obtain medical care after DHS got involved in the case late last month and have been largely excluded from medical appointments.

So let me get it straight dear attorneys: the people who concede that they would not have taken their daughter to the doctor were impeded from doing what they weren’t thinking of doing by the DHS? That’s like saying : “The good Samaritan’s intervention prevented the rapist from stopping the raping of the victim”! Are you sure that’s the argument you want to make in defense of your client?

Gilmartin asked Rebecca Wyland why she didn’t take Alayna to a doctor.

“Because I believe in God and put my faith in him,” she replied.

And he let you down Rebecca; he let you down considerably. At what point will you consider dumping him?

Church doctrine in a nut shell

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 16, 2010

Don’t worry this won’t take long. Apparently Mexico gets it, their education officials that is, and as always the church completely misses it, the point that is.

MEXICO CITY – Mexican educators and officials defended the country’s public school sex education Friday from criticism by a Roman Catholic bishop who said such teachings make celibacy vows more difficult for priests to keep.

Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio told reporters that public-school sexual education texts “seek to make our boys and girls responsible, to take responsibility for their actions, and for that they need information.”

Lujambio said the programs are careful to avoid “hurting any social sensitivities.”

On Thursday, Bishop Felipe Arizmendi said that “when there is generalized sexual licentiousness, it is more common to have pederasty.”

“In the midst of the invasion of so much eroticism, it is not easy to remain faithful in celibacy, or in respecting children,” Arizmendi, the bishop of the San Cristobal de las Casas diocese in Chiapas state, said at a meeting of Mexican bishops.

Of course! Because teaching children to use protection and safe sex when engaging in consensual sex, obviously sends the message to grown up men that raping children, non-consensually, is acceptable.  That makes perfect sense: what better to reduce the priestly carnal desires for young flesh than keeping said kids ignorant about safe sex? Elementary!

Were we born to believe?

Posted in News by Skepdude on April 9, 2010

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE TELEGRAPH

Rationalists such as Philip Pullman underestimate mankind’s built-in hunger for the sacred, argues Matthew Taylor

Philip Pullman’s new novel The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is opening another chapter in the often acrimonious debate between religious believers and atheists. This is not, of course, a new argument, but it is one that was given new life by the religious justifications offered by the September 11 terrorists, and there is little sign of it abating.

Although Pullman’s attack is more on organised Christianity than faith, the aim of other strident atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or Daniel Dennett, is to use the hammer of science and rationality to break the chains of religious superstition. Indeed, since the Ancient World, intellectuals have predicted that faith would wither away in the face of expanding human knowledge. But the prediction was wrong. Demographic trends suggest that the proportion of the world’s population who follow a major religion will rise to about 80 per cent over the coming decades. Even in countries with low religious observance – such as Britain – there has been no decline in the number who say they believe in God.

The resilience of religion has been a spur to scientists interested in understanding the evolutionary, developmental and neurological basis of faith. Among evolutionists, the big debate is between those who argue that religious belief has helped human beings prosper as a species, and those who see faith merely as a by-product of other aspects of our development.

The evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson is perhaps the most prominent advocate of the adaptationist view, arguing that religious belief helped make groups of early humans comparatively more cohesive, more co-operative and more fraternal, and thus better able to fight off less organised foes. And as human needs changed, so did the content of religious belief. In close-knit tribal cultures, there are many gods residing in nature, but in modern mass societies, where it is harder to enforce social norms, a single all-seeing God helps keep us on the straight and narrow.

Adaptationist accounts are far from universally accepted. Richard Dawkins describes the group selection theory that underlies Sloan Wilson’s account as “sheer, wanton, head-in-bag perversity”. But whatever is happening at the group level, there is something about the way individual human beings develop that makes us susceptible to religious belief.

Clues to this lie in the study of child development. It appears, for example, that at a particular age – usually around 10 – children become fascinated by big questions about life, death and the origins of the universe. At earlier ages, as children begin to apply language to the world around them, they seem to ask questions for which religion has answers.

We appear, for example, to be natural creationists. A child’s account of nature relies on what developmental psychologists call “immature teleology”. This is the idea that something exists because of the function it provides for the child: the river is there so I can swim in it, the tree so I can climb it. If something has a purpose, it must have been created for that reason.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE TELEGRAPH

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Child Preachers

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 3, 2010

Your daily dose of religious morals

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 25, 2010

Of course without religion we’d have no morals. Who would show us, by example…over and over again, what immorality looks like? As reported in the NYTimes:

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal.

God “warns” rape victim

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on February 22, 2010

Unfortunately, the warning came a bit wee too late to do her any good, not that she minds that apparently.

The wife of gospel singer Louis Brittz, who was raped by a robber on Monday night, has told how the Lord had warned her that she was to be raped.

However, as it will become apparent, god’s “warning” was more of a you’re-screwed kinda statement rather than a proper warning, which name carries with it the implication that the victim-to-be has a chance to do something about it. The victim in this case never got a chance!

Later the robbers took him away. One stayed with Hettie where she lay with her hands tied, half under the bed.

She said while she was lying like this, she heard the Lord tell her: “Hettie, you are my bride”.

She answered: “Yes, Jesus, I know.”

She said the Lord then told her that the man would rape her but not hurt her. The rapist was also not violent.

Well, not violent except for the forcefully having his way with her that is! Now can someone explain the creepy “you are my bride” comment from god? I thought she was married already! I’m confused, but then so are many christians.

She said this didn’t mean the rape was unimportant. It was also not unimportant to the Lord. He said after all that he collected people’s tears and that the blood of believers was precious to him.

I am sorry but I’d much rather he made sure such tears and blood were never shed instead of collecting them. What’s that mean? Does he have little jars in shelves in some heavenly warehouse?

She said she knew people would say she was living in denial. She herself was a therapist, however, and knew what trauma involved.

And people would be right to say that. Any therapist worth her salt would probably say that a person undergoing a trauma probably shouldn’t be self treating her trauma, not anymore than a surgeon should be performing his own appendectomy at home, because, you know, he’s a surgeon; he knows what an appendectomy involves.

Did your house come down on your head? Here’s a Bible to help you

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on January 20, 2010

This is ludicrous by any standards.  An American shit-faced, I mean faith based, group is sending the people of Haiti solar-powered Bibles designed for “poor and illiterate people”. I’m sure the people of Haiti will be thrilled! I mean who wouldn’t love to be called illiterate right after having a few tons of concrete fall on their head? Sure they could have sent food, medicine, clothing, water, even useful electronics such as radios maybe, or pay for counselors for the survivors, but not these good christians;  they choose to use this tremendous tragedy to….proselytize! And then people ask me why I don’t like religion. Because of shit like this folks, because of shit like this.

Ye shall steal!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on December 22, 2009

Says Father Tim Jones, a clergyman at St. Lawrence Church in York, England, so long as you don’t take more than you need and only steal from the big chains, that is. I gotta say I find this amusing, what with the whole “thou shall not steal” deal and whatnot! But the thing is that besides food, water and clothing, not much else is “needed” and usually most places, especially big european countries like England have shelters and charities of all sorts. So why a priest would recommend stealing before going to the charities, or begging beats me, but that’s what he’s sticking with.

“My advice as a Christian priest is to shoplift,” Jones reportedly told churchgoers during his Sunday sermon. “I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.”

“I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses — knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices,” he continued.

“I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need … My advice does not contradict the Bible’s eighth commandment because God’s love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich.”

Yeah, why not? Sure he gave us 10 commandments he wants us to follow, but what the hell, apparently they’re not as rigid as we thought, dare I say, they’re not written in stone?

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