Religious teachings promise us much — eternal life, spiritual salvation, moral direction, and a deeper understanding of reality. It all sounds good, but these teachings are also onerous in their demands. If they can’t deliver on what they promise, it would be well to clear that up. Put bluntly, are the teachings of any religion actually true or not? Do they have any rational support? It’s hard to see what questions could be more important. Surely the claims of religion — of all religions — merit scrutiny from every angle, whether historical, philosophical, scientific, or any other.
Contrary to many expectations in the 1970s, or even the 1990s, religion has not faded away, even in the Western democracies, and we still see intense activism from religious lobbies. Even now, one religion or another opposes abortion rights, most contraceptive technologies, and therapeutic cloning research. Various churches and sects condemn many harmless, pleasurable sexual activities that adults can reasonably enjoy. As a result, these are frowned upon, if not prohibited outright, in many parts of the world, indeed people lose their lives because of them. Most religious organisations reject dying patients’ requests to end their lives as they see fit. Even in relatively secular countries, such as the UK, Canada, and Australia, governments pander blatantly to Christian moral concerns as the protection of religiously motivated refusals to provide medical professional services demonstrates.
In a different world, the merits, or otherwise, of religious teachings might be discussed more dispassionately. In that world, some of us who criticise religion itself might be content to argue that the church (and the mosque, and all the other religious architecture that sprouts across the landscape) should be kept separate from the state. Unfortunately, however, we don’t live in that world.
I am Skepdude and I endorse this.
A North Carolina pastor says his church plans to burn Bibles and books by Christian authors on Halloween to light a fire under true believers.
Pastor Marc Grizzard told Asheville TV station WLOS that the King James version of the Bible is the only one his small western North Carolina church follows. He says all other versions, such as the Living Bible, are “satanic” and “perversions” of God’s word.
Don’t get me wrong, its the wrong reason for doing this, but it’s a start. Personally I would prefer that people simply stop taking these books, whatever the version, so seriously instead of burning them, but hey I’ll take it.
So William Dembski has a problem with Blasphemy Day, the holiest day of the year (that’s me being ironic in case a retarded person stumbles upon this entry. Sorry regular readers I have to make this idiot proof!) ! Wow. Now why an intelligent designer (it’s not creationism or religion remember?) would even get involved in this, in the official ID blog as well, beats me, but that’s not the only problem. The dumbness of the following statement is really mind boggling and, I think, at the very least refutes the argument of intelligent design in Dembski himself.
Since Darwin is their god, it would be interesting to submit to this contest true statements about Darwin’s less than divine attributes.
So Dembski thinks that atheists worship Darwin! Oh boy! Either he is purposefully engaging in a straw man or he really is that confused. I honestly can’t tell. Can you?
Skepdude would like to wish all a happy and joyous International Blasphemy Day. May you all go around proudly proclaiming your atheism, and more importantly your right to free speech. I would like to remind all that blasphemy does not mean insulting people, but criticizing ideas. I’ll leave you with these two gems.
Via DJGrothe: Ideas don’t need rights, people do!
Via Skepdude: Are the popular gods of today, equally as real or equally as fictitious as the gods of yesterday?
Feel free to add your own on the comments.
THE NEW blasphemy law will send Ireland back to the middle ages, and is wretched, backward and uncivilised, Prof Richard Dawkins has said.
The scientist and critic of religion has lent his support to a campaign to repeal the law, introduced by Atheist Ireland, a group set up last December, arising from an online discussion forum. The law, which makes the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine, passed through the Oireachtas last week.
In a message read out at Atheist Ireland’s first agm on Saturday, Prof Dawkins said: “One of the world’s most beautiful and best-loved countries, Ireland has recently become one of the most respected as well: dynamic, go-ahead, modern, civilised – a green and pleasant silicon valley. This preposterous blasphemy law puts all that respect at risk.” He said it would be too kind to call the law a ridiculous anachronism.
“It is a wretched, backward, uncivilised regression to the middle ages. Who was the bright spark who thought to besmirch the revered name of Ireland by proposing anything so stupid?”
Ireland passed the blasphemy law.
What does this mean for Irish citizens? It means you can be convicted for trashing someone’s beliefs if you cause “outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.” (Again, what is a “substantial number”? Who knows.)
Paliban Daily offers up some frightening consequences, given that “blasphemy” isn’t very well-defined:
- Atheists can be prosecuted for saying that God is imaginary. That causes outrage.
- Pagans can be prosecuted for saying they left Christianity because God is violent and bloodthirsty, promotes genocide, and permits slavery.
- Christians can be prosecuted for saying that Allah is a moon god, or for drawing a picture of Mohammed, or for saying that Islam is a violent religion which breeds terrorists.
- Jews can be prosecuted for saying Jesus isn’t the Messiah.
Those aren’t all accurate… for example, Jews can say Jesus isn’t the Messiah because their religious beliefs are protected under the law. But I suspect if they went around saying as much, holding posters that said he wasn’t the Messiah in a dickish sort of way, and made a “substantial number” of Christians angry, then we’d have problems.
We’re also told that academic and theological debate isn’t subject to the rules. But again, it’s tough to say what constitutes those kinds of debates. Can bloggers tear apart religious arguments and those who make them if they’re not professors? Can Irish people call certain Catholic priests rapists and attribute it to their faith and just say it’s part of theological debate? Can we call out certain adherents of a fundamentalist version of Islam as terrorists if that is warranted? Either everything in these categories is blasphemy or nothing is.
Remember how we all got up in arms when the spineless members of the UN passed that resolution against blasphemy. We were blasted left and right for being alarmist, fear-mongers, cry babies. This resolution has no teeth, they said. It is non binding, they said. You have nothing to fear, they said. Well apparently Ireland wasn’t reading those comments because it appears they are trying to pass their own anti blasphemy law.
Speaking after an Oireachtas committee meeting, Mr Ahern yesterday defended a fine of up to €100,000 that will be imposed on blasphemers.
Gardai will now have the power to seize blasphemous material from the home or any other premises used by a person convicted of blasphemy.
Imagine that! €100,000 fine for reading “God is not great” (from now on expect me to plug Christopher Hitchens at any opportunity. That guy is just superb and I have to shake hands with him at some point in the future. Anyone can help arrange that? I’m in NYC!) Now, was I right or was I right to be alarmed at the stupid UN resolution?
September 30 folks. Don’t you just love Facebook? Expect a few blasphemous entries on this blog on that day, you satan-loving devils!
What is this nonsense from the United Nations trying to pass a binding anti-blasphemy resolution that would make it illegal, in the US, to be blasphemous? I don’t care, no let me rephrase that, we as Americans should not care, if anyone is offended by anyone else expressing an opinion. We don’t care if you are Muslim or Christian, Jew or Hindu, believer or atheist, black or white. Who you are, and what you believe in or not, are of no consequence when matters of freedom of expression are concerned. We must not allow free speech to be curtailed to protect the fragile egos of those who want to trample all over other people’s rights without so much as a critique being thrown their way.
They want not to be criticized? They want not to be called out for their stupidity? Well fuck that I say, because you will be criticized, ridiculed and called idiots so long as you insist on engaging in idiotic behavior. And I for one am appalled that the UN in its wisdom (or in this case complete lack thereof) should bend to the pressure of the Islamic nations, the ones that are responsible for the most horrific trespasses against human rights being perpetrated today. These are the countries were honor killings and sexual mutilations are the order of the day, where bloggers get imprisoned for daring to write what’s on their mind, where people are killed over cartoons in a newspaper thousands of miles away! And they are the ones who are offended? We as humans should be offended by their actions! We should pass a resolution that forbids them from being such assholes in the name of their religion and their backwards traditions, not cut our own balls, hand them over to these fucktards so that they can stuff them back in our mouths! Because that is what in effect the UN is doing.
I am offended by their very existence. I am offended that people like them belong to the same species as we do. I am offended by their actions. I should not be forced to shut up or pay the consequences. Not in a democracy! Not in a civilized country! Not in the United States of America!
Pope Benedict XVI may not know art, but he knows what he likes. And he doesn’t like this frog. For obvious reasons.
A reasonable person might just look at it, chuckle and roll their eyes. A reasonable person might see the whimsy and the message the artist was trying to convey. No one has ever accused Pope Benedict XVI of being a reasonable person.