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Welcome to The Secular Gospel According to Jess! In this blog you’ll find everything from cartoons that make me laugh, to quotes that inspire me, to stories of my own personal experience when it comes to dealing with religion and pretty much everything in between. The title of my blog is intended to be ironic, as one doesn’t often hear the word, “gospel”, associated with secularism, but my intent is to preach, for lack of a better word, what I think gospel should really be about: love, rationalism, fairness, equality, human rights, science and truth. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Year, New Me.

It's kind of interesting that in the midst of sadness and hard times, the incessant longing for happier times can make the person suffering unable to see some of the positive things that are coming from the changes that caused the initial sadness. Anything that causes profound sadness is likely to also teach you invaluable life lessons. Since you cannot escape feeling sadness from time to time, it is best to just ride it out and rather than get stuck in abyss, try to focus on the lessons you are learning from whatever has caused the pain. In other words: make the best of it. Don't allow yourself to become a victim.

Someone dear to me once told me: "The moment you think your life is perfect means it's probably not."

I think the challenge there is to never get TOO comfortable or settled in any one point in your life, no matter how good it is, and to realize that happiness, like sadness, is transitory. The goal, I think, is to be happy in a moment but recognize it can change and make sure you know how to make yourself happy, separate of any one person or thing. While not easy or foolproof, knowing you have things that fulfill you as an individual will keep you on track when unwanted changes happen in your life.

Sometimes when you suffer it's because you weren't equipped to deal with the situation that has presented itself to you. If you do not let your pain teach you how better deal with such situations, history will repeat itself. If you do, you emerge from the pain, stronger, wiser, and less likely to be as affected by similar situations when they inevitably occur again.



Monday, December 5, 2011

Mother Teresa...an atheist?


Modern Christians have touted Mother Theresa as an inspiration for faith and religious compassion for decades. Turns out, she didn't believe in God when she died. She renounced her faith, and even though she desperately wanted to believe in God, she no longer could. Her work with children in Calcutta, India's slums made it difficult for the former woman of faith to remain a believer, though she began her work there citing "a calling", based on unquestioned faith.

This article spoke to me because if there is a sole reason for why I can't believe in a Biblical God it is because of the sheer amount of suffering I see in the world. Surely a rational person can agree that not all who suffer somehow deserve their suffering, as religion would have you believe.

"Where is my faith?" she wrote. "Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness...If there be God — please forgive me." "Such deep longing for God…Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal," she said. "What do I labor for?" she asked in one letter. "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/23/eveningnews/main3199062.shtml
(Found on Reddit: "What is the most interesting thing you know?")

Friday, December 2, 2011

Absolution does not exist.

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices." 
-Alfred A. Montapert

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Some things to contemplate...


I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion, I do not wish, as some sentimental materialists affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale; life would be miserable if what the faithful affirmed was actually the case.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, Letters to a Young Contrarian


It is not hardness of heart or evil passions that drive certain individuals to atheism, but rather a scrupulous intellectual honesty.
STEVE ALLEN, 2000 Years of Disbelief


If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral. Are they? Do members of atheist organizations in the United States commit more than their fair share of violent crimes? Do the members of the National Academy of Sciences, 93 percent of whom do not accept the idea of God, lie and cheat and steal with abandon? We can be reasonably confident that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population. And yet, athiests are the most reviled minority in the United States.
SAM HARRIS, Letter to a Christian Nation


If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him?
If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future?
If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers?
If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him?
If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses?
If grace does everything for them, what reason would he have for recompensing them?
If he is all-powerful, how offend him, how resist him?
If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable?
If he is immovable, by what right do we pretend to make him change his decrees?
If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him?
If he has spoken, why is the universe not convinced?
If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest?
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, The Necessity of Atheism

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The man's a genius.


This reminds me of people who are agnostic because they "don't want to get involved" in the fight between atheists and religious people. Too many people are content to "fence sit" because they just don't care to learn enough about either side to make a decision.

I have also seen this relevant too many times when it comes to falling outs between friends. Mutual friends who are not directly involved prefer to stay uninvolved and retain the friendship of both people involved in said altercation, regardless of whether one of them is clearly the victim and the other, the oppressor. But honestly, the truth is that nobody should strive to be "Switzerland." The country takes no side in matters of war and politics and therefore has no enemies, but it doesn't have many friends either. Standing up for what's right no matter who or what you might lose in the process is an ideal we should all strive for. What you gain in the end will be of much more value than what you lose.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Change is the only constant.

I've been contemplating some of the Anais Nin quotes I posted last week, particularly the one about people wanting to elect certain states and remain in them, and I've realized that at age 27 I would have been perfectly happen to remain in the state I was in, with few, if any changes, for the majority of my adult life.

I was settled. I had my life, I had my group of friends, a group that I thought was so tight-knit that I imagined us in 15-20 years, with or without children, fabulous as ever, brunching at the newest NYC hot spot like in Sex and The City. But, something dawned on me today. I'm 27. Most of the people who are currently important in my life I have met in the past 5 years. Others I've known for 10, and the oldest friends I have been in my life for almost 15 years (I chalk this partially up to moving around a lot during my childhood and early adolescence). Of everyone I knew from 15 years ago, I have kept 6 of them close. Of everyone I knew from 10 years ago, I have kept 2 close. Of everyone I met 5 years ago, I consider most of them to be aquaintances more than anything else, yet I'm quite certain that in another few years, some of them will have become obsolete in my life and others will play much more important roles.

What I came to realize is that in every stage of life, we have friends that speak to our wants and our needs at that given time. To find that you have graduated from a stage in your life and retained a friendship that was initially formed in the previous stage is a stroke of luck. This has been the case for me as I graduated high school and college, changed jobs, and when I moved from the suburbs to the city, and I know that it will continue to happen this way in the future.

From this day forward, I'm going to stop being so hung up on the fact that my life is changing in terms of the friendships I have with people. This is an inescapable part of life, and I am lucky to have even retained the number of friends I have.


"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person."
-W. Somerset Maugham

‎"It happens as you grow up; you find out who you are, and what you want, and then you find out that people you've known forever don't see things the way you do. And so you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Anais Nin

"If all of us acted in unison as I act individually there would be no wars and no poverty. I have made myself personally responsible for the fate of every human being who has come my way."

"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman."

"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death."

"There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person."

"When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. -Max Ehrmann

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I can't find any words for my thoughts.

There's so much going on in my head that I wish I could pour out on paper, but as soon as I try to make sense of any of my emotions, words just slip away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Pygmalion Effect.

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." -Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Gotta recognize...

My little sister is pretty smart for 22. http://normalonvenus.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-we-need-strong-sense-of-self.html You gotta know your own worth! When people's words or actions toward you reflect a lesser opinion of you than you feel about yourself -- recognize that these aren't friends. You are not going to be appreciated in the ways you know you should until you find the right people--those who are like minded and are light of heart like you are. Surround yourself with people who know their purpose, and are conscious of their goodness and pursuit of progress. These are the people that will love and appreciate you for doing the same.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Forgiveness is not something we leave up to God or Jesus.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." -Lewis B. Smedes

Monday, September 5, 2011

So long [bittersweet] summer...

This is the first blog entry I've posted that has nothing to do with religion, but I wanted to share it anyway. In light of one of the more eventful summers in recent history and its coming to a close, I felt compelled to reflect on these past 3 months. Breathing in the first scent of fall on the wind, I find myself looking back on summers past, trying to accept that the weather has changed...and so have I. I heard it once said that: "Love does not begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war, love is a growing up." For me, this summer was a lot like love is in that matter. A battle...a war...and a growing up. In one of the most emotional summers by far, I ended a year and two month long relationship that for nearly 10 months I thought would end in marriage. I rebounded from that relationship with a man I had known for years...a sensitive, intelligent and talented man....who ultimately had no idea what he wanted, and so I had to walk away. I got burned by someone who I had called a friend for 6 and a half years without even an explanation as to why she no longer wanted to be friends. These experiences left me filled with anxiety and self doubt. I spent much of the summer in alternating places of pain and numbness, questioning every action and decision I made. As as the summer continues to transition into fall, I find myself, too, in transition. I feel confident in my decision to end the relationship I thought would end in marriage, and I have no regrets about the relationship. I realized in retrospect that some things are born of necessity in any given moment, and we should embrace those things for what they can offer us in that time. Not everything is forever, and not everything needs to be. As for the rebound, I realized that ultimately, it was just that: a rebound. If anything, it taught me not to give away my heart so easily, and it taught me to be cautious with people who are reckless with the hearts of others, as he was reckless with mine. As for my friend, I've been trying to take this advice: "If you're worried about someone who dislikes you, first ask yourself whether they're an asshole. If you don't like them and they don't like you, that's not a problem, that's a mutual understanding." In the midst of my personal battles, I became aware of the loss of my own naivete. As much as I mourn the loss of the idea that most people are pure at heart, I have begun to embrace my newfound realism, as I look at the world as it really is and stop taking it so personally when people behave selfishly and cruelly. I still count myself lucky enough and honored to have some of the best people in my life I can ever imagine knowing. It took a lot of tears and conversations until 5 A.M. to get me there...but I'm well on my way. To everyone who helped me through this bittersweet summer: Thank you. I love you. I will never forget what you did for me. Xoxoxo.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Religion and Greed.

I got an e-mail recently from Money Magazine UK. One of their editors had come across my blog and suggested that I read an article the magazine had published regarding greed and organized religion. The editor said that based on the content on my blog, I would find it interesting. I did, and hope you all do, too.

"The link between money and religion is a grey area, fraught with conspiracy and scandal. Some of the wealthiest organisations on the planet are religions or religious movements - some ancient, some modern - yet the followers of religion and the countries in which they are practised are often the poorest."

http://www.money.co.uk/misc/the-business-of-religion.htm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Matrix.

"I'm trying to free your mind, but I can only show you the door. You're the one who has to walk through it."

-Morpheus

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No way, Jose.

Today I decided I'm not sending any hypothetical kids I may bear or adopt to public school until they take the "one Nation, under God" line out of the pledge of allegiance.

You know who I don't believe exists?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sexual harrassment.

http://diaryofadeskgirl.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/im-an-egyptian-woman-and-i-like-being-sexually-harrassed/

Friday, June 24, 2011

Need I say more?

More faith healing failures.

I am posting this as a follow up to my February post, "I came across this in the New York Times." According to the article, "faith healing" will no longer be an acceptable defense in court, which will change the charge for the crime from involuntary manslaughter to first degree manslaughter or homicide.

As it well should.

"An Oregon couple were found guilty Tuesday on felony charges of criminal mistreatment of their infant daughter for relying on faith healing instead of medical treatment.

Last year, we told you about Alayna May Wyland, an infant treated for hemangioma (uncontrolled growth of blood vessels) with prayer and anointing with oil. She was taken from her parents’ custody after this treatment, much to their surprise, was found ineffective. As a result of delaying medical treatment for six and a half months of chanting and oiling, little Alayna may have a permanently deformed face. Developmental delays in her left eye may require surgery.

Had medical treatment been sought at the onset of the condition, there would likely have been no long-term complications.

Her faith-healing parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, lost custody of their daughter briefly, and were charged with neglect.

On Tuesday, a jury in Oregon City found the pair guilty of felony criminal mistreatment for their failure to bring the child to a doctor. Their defense consisted of claiming themselves, via their attorney, to be the victims of religious persecution; the Wylands never took the stand in their own defense. Perhaps their attorneys felt that a recording made last year was evidence enough:

The Wylands testified during a July juvenile court custody hearing that they wouldn’t have willingly taken Alayna to a doctor because it would violate their religious beliefs. The Wylands said they put their trust — and Alayna’s fate — in God’s hands.

The jury heard a recording of the hearing.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 24. The Wylands face up to five years in prison. They are the first members of the Followers of Christ Church to be prosecuted before the death of their “faith-healed” child.

The Oregon House and Senate have both passed similar versions of a law which will remove the “faith healing” defense, leaving negligent parents open to charges of first-degree manslaughter or homicide."

http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/2011/06/08/faith-healing-timothy-and-rebecca-wyland-found-guilty/

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not Surprised.

http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/?q=16

I scored 14 out of 15, which is better than 97% of the public. Funny, considering I grew up secular.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Justification.

I was asked recently why it seemed that I preferred Judaism to Christianity. Fair question. I was raised in a secular household by a Jewish father and a Christian mother, neither of whom were religious. My mom stopped practicing Lutheranism at age 13, when she approached her parents and said, "I don't want to go to church anymore because I can't love a God that would send an unbaptized child to hell." Her parents, also not religious, were relieved, responding that they only took her and her siblings to church because they thought it was the right thing to do, but they had no desire to go themselves. When she met my dad she converted to Judaism, mostly to pacify my dad's moderately conservative family who preferred that he marry another Jew (as most Jews do), but also because she genuinely felt that Judaism spoke to her in a way that Christianity didn't. I tell this story because while I clearly think both religions are bullshit (excuser mon fran├žais), I DO indeed favor Jewish ideals IN GENERAL. Overall, I find it a rather more progressive and tolerant religion. While I won't go into the long-winded explanation, I did find this chart rather handy (and much more concise) to help me justify the reasons for why I feel that way.

http://www.acme.com/jef/religion_sex/

Sunday, June 5, 2011

All that is necessary...

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men (and women) do nothing."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thank you, Jordan!

Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.

Offensive teachings of Jesus.

On scapegoating:

Matthew 26:28: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Christopher Hitchens makes the point that this is the most immoral doctrine in all of Christianity:

“Is it moral to believe that your sins, yours and mine, can be forgiven by another person? Is it ethical to believe that? I would submit that the doctrine of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice is utterly immoral. The name for that in primitive Middle Eastern society was scapegoating. You pile all the sins of the tribe on the goat, you drive the goat into the desert to die of thirst and hunger, and you think you’ve taken away the sins of the tribe. The doctrine of the atonement abolishes the concept of personal responsibility on which all ethics and all morality must depend.”

On family:

Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Sorry, but there’s no way I’m going to love a 2,000-year-old Palestinian messiah figure more than my own family.

John 2:4: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”

Rude.

Luke 12:52: “For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.”

Matt. 10:35: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”

One of Jesus’ prophesies that has unfortunately come true.

On slavery: Jesus acknowledges slavery but does not denounce it.

Matt. 10:24: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Matt. 20:26-28: “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”

On honesty:

In John 7:2-14, Jesus is intentionally deceitful.

On self-mutilation: Jesus encourages self-mutilation.

Matt. 18:8: “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.”

Matt. 5:29-30: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

Mark 9:45: “And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:”

On saying “you fool”:

Jesus says that anyone who says “Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:22), but then in Matt. 7:26 he says that “every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man.” So Jesus may be in hell.

On world peace
Matt. 10:34: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

Luke 12:49: “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”

(Re-blogged from atheistdad.wordpress.com)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Why is raising children religion-free still taboo?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayanti-tamm/raising-children-religion_b_866274.html

The height of narcissism.

"...When something good happens to Christians, like feeling the spirit while praying or seeing some positive change in their life, we’re told that God is good. But when nine million children die every year before they reach the age of 5 (that’s 24,000 children a day, a thousand an hour, 17 every minute) in agony and through no fault of their own, we’re told that this is all part of God’s plan.

It’s not only tiresome when otherwise intelligent people speak this way, Harris says, it is morally reprehensible. This kind of faith is the height of narcissism. Given the misery that is being imposed on some helpless child at this moment, this kind of faith is obscene. To think in this way is to fail to care sufficiently about the welfare of other human beings.

To feel gratitude is psychologically healthy, but let’s give credit where credit is due. I often cringe when I hear people say how blessed they are, because the implication is that others who are less fortunate have somehow failed to find God’s favor."

(Re-blogged from atheistdad.wordpress.com)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Music to my ears?

The Human Rights Campaign released this story yesterday.

"We are excited to release new polling today that shows the nation’s Christians stand firmly on the side of LGBT equality. A new HRC poll released moments ago, in partnership with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, shows the majority of Christian Americans oppose the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, favor protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination, and support anti-bullying laws. Armed with this information, hundreds of clergy from across the country will lobby members of Congress tomorrow during HRC’s Clergy Call for Justice and Equality.

Key Findings:

Overall, 68 percent of Christians (compared to 70 percent of overall respondents) strongly favor or somewhat favor protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Seventy-four percent of Christians (76 percent overall) favor a law prohibiting bullying and harassment against LGBT students or the children of LGBT parents. Eighty-six percent of Christians (85 percent overall) believe their faith leads them to the conclusion that the law should treat LGBT people equally. Seventy percent of Christians (74 percent overall) agree that when religious leaders condemn LGBT people it does more harm than good.

View the polling results, as well as a detailed analysis of the cross-tabs at www.hrc.org/religionpoll2011."

As much as this is music to my ears, I have a feeling that the Christians polled were among the moderate ones and not the Bible huggers. Regardless, 68% is FAR too low of a percentage. I still can't honestly believe that it's 2011 and not even 3/4 of the population recognizes that LGBT people are just as human as the rest of us and therefore deserve the same rights.

"I Agree."

"To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it, they just scroll to the bottom and click "I Agree."

(Re-blogged from monumentstowhereihavebeen).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lunacy

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy."
-David Brooks

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture

"Gary Daniels, 27, said he planned to spend Saturday like other believers, “glued to our TV sets, waiting for the Resurrection and earthquake from nation to nation.” But he acknowledged that his family was not entirely behind him.

“At first there was a bit of anger and tension, not really listening to one another and just shouting out ideas,” Mr. Daniels said.

But his family has come around to respect — if not endorse — his views, and he drove from his home in Newark, Del., on Monday night in a van covered in Judgment Day messages to say goodbye to relatives in Brooklyn. “I know I’m not going to see them again, but they are very certain they are going to see me, and that’s where I feel so sad,” he said. “I weep to know that they don’t have any idea that this overwhelming thing is coming right at them, pummeling toward them like a meteor.”"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/us/20rapture.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=all

Thursday, May 19, 2011

UGH!!

I saw this on someone's Facebook profile, and this is exactly why atheism carries such negative stigma with it. People don't understand what it's all about and this is a perfect example!

"Atheism: the belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into replicating bits which then turned themselves into dinosaurs. Makes perfect sense."

How many things are wrong with this statement? Too many to list.

Atheism is not a belief system. You can't believe or not believe in something you don't think even exists. Atheism is a way of looking at the world that does not accept or need "God" to be the reason for why things are the way they are. That is not a belief. It requires no faith or mystery to accept. It is a simple fact.

And just to be clear, everyone is well aware that science does not have an answer to the question: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" We do not know where the matter came from that eventually exploded, forming the material that allows for life to exist. That does not mean that "God" is the answer to that question. THERE IS NO ANSWER AT THE PRESENT TIME. Perhaps one day we will find one. Until that day comes, some people will continue to happily make up stories to try and answer the question, and others will reconcile themselves to the FACT that there is no way to know.

I proudly count myself among the latter group.

Does it really matter?

Let's start by asking a question: Does it matter? It has been proven, conclusively, that God does not answer prayers, that God did not write the Bible and that Jesus is not God. In other words, the God of popular religion is imaginary. But does it really matter? What difference does it make if half of the people in the United States want to believe in an imaginary being? What does it hurt?

Let's ignore the danger that can be found in the ashes of 9/11/2001, and the subsequent events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Madrid and London. There are many zealous and misguided Muslims who believe that, through Jihad, they must kill non-Muslims -- Christians and Jews in particular. Let's ignore that.

Let's ignore the ill effects of religion around the world over the last several decades. We have Muslims killing Christians (and vice versa), Jews killing Muslims (and vice versa), Protestants killing Catholics (and vice versa), Shiites killing Sunnis (and vice versa), etc., etc. All of it is completely pointless, because all human gods are imaginary. But let's ignore all of that killing and destruction.

Let's also ignore all of the insanity that religion has brought us through the ages -- the crusades, the witch hunts and all the rest. Let's ignore it because it's all water under the bridge.

Even in the United States -- a modern, advanced nation -- religion creates problems. The delusion created by Christianity is so extreme and so pervasive at the moment that we have Supreme Court justices and politicians who publicly claim that God handed down the Ten Commandments to us in the Bible (see chapter 13). These justices and politicians are speaking about a book that openly advocates slavery and misogyny along with many other notions that are beyond absurd. Yet no one can question their claims in public because it is far too dangerous (see next section for details).

To have otherwise intelligent Americans babbling on about an imaginary God like this is dangerous, if for no other reason than this one: If so many people are this delusional in the area of religion, it makes you wonder where else they harbor equally significant delusions in their thinking. In addition, religion in America is now actively restraining scientific research and social progress. The problem that American scientists are having with stem cells is just one of the many manifestations of the problem today.

There is also growing evidence that the delusion of religion may cause significant social dysfunction. Statistical research is revealing the problems that go with religious delusion. For example, a recent article in the Journal of Religion and Society points out that religion is correlated to the significant social difficulties that we can see in America:

In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies (Figures 1-9). The most theistic prosperous democracy, the U.S., is exceptional, but not in the manner Franklin predicted. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health. [ref]

The prevailing view is that religion is harmless even if it is delusional. That turns out not to be the case. America is the most religious country of those studied in the developed world. America also has the biggest problems in terms of things like homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion.

Religion is delusion. A planet full of delusional people is not healthy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Accosted.

A week or two ago I was in the library at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I am currently finishing my degree in Fashion Merchandising. I was buried in my laptop, focused on what I was doing, and so I barely noticed the girl who had approached me.

"Are you busy right now?" she asked. "Yes, I am," I said. "Why?" She responded, "Well, I am a Christian and I just wanted to show you this book..."

She proceeded to take a pamphlet out of her bag that was titled something like, "The such and such number promises of Jesus."

I immediately told her that I was extremely busy and that I did not have time to see her book, and she thanked me and left, presumably to go accost some other innocent library-goer.

After she walked away, I wondered at first whether this girl sought me out because I appeared to have a "godless soul." Then I realized that it would be impossible to tell me apart from a believer merely from my outward appearance. Sure, I wasn't wearing a Star of David or a Cross around my neck, but not all religious people make their faith obvious to outsiders in this way. I wondered how people of other faiths would have reacted to this girl coming up to them and wanting to preach to them about the salvation of their souls. I imagine that even another believer would feel uncomfortable being approached like that, especially in a place like a library, where people do not, in general, especially during the week before finals, go to be educated about other faiths that they may or may not choose to practice.

What this really comes down to is proselytizing. As much as readers of my blog may have gathered that I believe a world without religion would be a much better place, I don't mind religion so much when it is practiced in a personal manner and does not infringe upon the rights of others. But when someone approaches me in a library and wants to tell me about her beliefs, and religious conservatives are fighting against human rights every day, in the forms of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," "The Defense of Marriage Act", the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act", and crusading against stem cell research (that, might I add, has already cured numerous diseases), among many others, because they believe it goes against their Bible, that's when it starts to bother me.

Live and let live (a.k.a. leave people the fuck alone).

Contemplating the crucifixion.

Have you ever thought about how bizarre the crucifixion story is? Imagine the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe sitting on his magnificent throne in heaven. He looks down onto earth and says to himself:

Those evil humans down on earth. I hate what they are doing. All this sin...

Since I am all-knowing I know exactly what the humans are doing and I understand exactly why they commit each sin. Since I created the humans in my own image and personally programmed human nature into their brains, I am the direct author of all of this sin. The instant I created them I knew exactly what would happen with every single human being right down to the nanosecond level for all eternity. If I didn't like how it was going to turn out, I could have simply changed them when I created them. And since I am perfect, I know exactly what I am doing. But ignore all that. I hate all these people doing exactly what I perfectly designed them to do and knew they would do from the moment I created them...

So here's what I am going to do. I will artificially inseminate a virgin. She will give birth to an incarnated version of me. The humans will eventually crucify and kill the incarnated me. That will, finally, make me happy. Yes, sending myself down and having the humans crucify me -- that will satisfy me. I feel much better now.

It makes no sense, does it? Why would an all-knowing being need to have humans kill himself (Jesus is God, after all) to make himself happy? Especially since it is a perfect God who set the whole thing in motion exactly the way he wanted it? The whole story of the crucifixion is absurd from top to bottom if you actually stop to think about it.

(Quoted from "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?")

See? The fashion industry does have a soul. Bravo Anna Wintour and Marc Jacobs for speaking out!

"As far as I'm concerned, having the right to say "I do" is as fundamental as the right to vote."

http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2011/05/see_anna_wintours_endorsement.html

http://ny.racked.com/archives/2011/05/04/marc_jacobs_celebrates_marriage_equality.php

Monday, May 16, 2011

He's the man.

“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

No establishment as persecution?

"I have to say, as someone who is not Christian, it’s hard for me to believe Christians are a persecuted people in America. God-willing, maybe one of you one day will even rise up and get to be president of this country - or maybe forty-four in a row. But, that’s my point, is they’ve taken this idea of no establishment as persecution, because they feel entitled, not to equal status, but to greater status."
-Jon Stewart

Why won't God heal amputees?

The most important question we should be asking about God?

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ignorance is bliss?

"They were satisfied with their lives, which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them."
-Lois Lowry (The Giver)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Orthodox Jewish newspaper photoshops Hillary Clinton out of Situation Room photo.

"Ultra Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung is telling its readers like it isn't- by editing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the now-iconic Bin Laden raid Situation Room photo. Oy vey.

The religious paper never publishes pictures of women, as they could be considered "sexually suggestive." Apparently the presence of a woman, any woman, being all womanly and sexy all over the United States' counterterrorism efforts was too much for the editors of Der Tzitung to handle.

While saving precious vulnerable men from being driven mad with desire over the image of a woman may be in line with Der Tzitung's editors' ideas of piety, Jewish Week's Rabbi Jason Miller points out that the altered image violates a central tenet of the faith:

Der Tzitung edited Hillary Clinton out of the photo, thereby changing history. To my mind, this act of censorship is actually a violation of the Jewish legal principle of g'neivat da'at (deceit)."

http://jezebel.com/5799724/hillary-clinton-photoshopped-out-of-situation-room-photo

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Me Atheist, Darwin great!

Atrocities in the Bible...just to name a few.

http://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/DarkBibleContents.htm

"Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go." (Judges 19:24-25)

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)

"And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son...." (II Kings 6:28-29)

"The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed." (Deuteronomy 28:27)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture?

I don't think I have ever met a really religious person who was not brought up, from infancy, to be religious.

I have, however, met many agnostics and atheists who were raised religious and broke away from it, realizing that they believed what they did because they were told to believe it, but that they could discover other ways of thinking on their own.

I have NEVER met anyone who was raised in a secular household whom, upon reaching adulthood, became a devout believer in God. (Though I make an exception for anyone who has struggled with drug abuse or alcoholism and has enrolled in a 12 step program where they are taught, at a very low, desperate point in their lives, that they cannot get better and let go of their addiction without the help of God.)

Doesn't this suggest that it is not that we are born with a need or desire for God, but that it is through indoctrination from an early, impressionable age, that we learn to need and desire Him?

It's just a theory...

My boyfriend was raised in a traditional Catholic household and his parents and one of his two sisters remain extremely religious (read: Creationists). I don't think my boyfriend realized just how religious they were until recently, when a conversation between he and his father involving their mutual love of nature and the great outdoors lead his mother to suggest that he and his father take a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Excitedly, my boyfriend added that another cool thing about the Galapagos Islands was that it was the place where Charles Darwin conducted his studies that resulted in the discovery of evolution by natural selection, and that he would love to hopefully observe some of the same species that lead Darwin to his amazing discovery.

"Yeah," remarked his sister sarcastically, "if you actually believe in that stuff."

Incredulous, my boyfriend pressed his family further, trying to understand why they refused to accept the ideas that Darwin proposed some 150 years ago and that are widely accepted among the scientific community.

"What I can't believe," said his father, "is that we're descended from a tadpole. Anyway, evolution...it's just a theory."

(Nevermind how much more difficult it is to believe even half of the things in the Bible.)

My boyfriend countered: "Well Dad, so is gravity."

His father proceeded to claim that the theory of gravity was something completely different and that we can accept a "theory" if gravity's what we're talking about, but if it's evolution, well then, the "theory's" no good.

Unsurprisingly, that conversation set my boyfriend off on one of the most fervent atheist kicks I've ever seen him go on. But who can really blame him?

Religious faith.

"As long as we accept the principle that religious faith must be respected simply because it is religious faith, it is hard to withhold respect from the faith of Osama bin Laden and the suicide bombers."

-Richard Dawkins

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Atheist Blogroll

My blog has been added to The Atheist Blogroll! You can see the link below. The Atheist Blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit the website below!

I highly recommend it, it's a great resource! The only bad news is now I have no life due to so much amazing reading material.

http://mojoey.blogspot.com/2006/09/join-mojoeys-atheist-blogroll.html

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why criticizing religion is not disrespectful.

Religion should not be exempt from criticism because it is very unlike things we typically refrain from criticizing (gender, sex, race, ethnicity, height, weight, looks, ability). Those things are innate to a person and are not a telling of a person’s character. You know the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Religion is not part of the cover, it’s part of the pages. Religious garments and jewelry aside, you cannot tell a person’s religion just by looking at the person. Religion is of the mind; it is alterable; it is a belief system, like an ideology or world view. We don’t hesitate to criticize or challenge someone’s political belief, especially if we find it unjust and can reason why. Debating political views is extremely common, but debating religion is “offensive”? Pointing out inconsistencies or errors in someone’s belief system is not insulting and it is not disrespectful any more than talking to them about their interpretation of “Fahrenheit 451” is. Criticizing the religion is not a personal attack on the person’s character or personality, it’s a criticism of the belief.

Re-blogged from http://atheistinspiration.tumblr.com

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thank you for not littering your mind.

A Jewish dilemma...

My wonderful and hilarious Jewish friend told me a joke tonight that perfectly described the peculiarities of considering oneself a Jew. For one, the inability to resist a good bargain, and two, the absolute refusal to eat pork.

"A Jewish dilemma: A ham...on sale."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear Red States...

Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware,that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the
Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a
bunch of single moms. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens
back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to
their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you
success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, CalTech and MIT. With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and theUniversity of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,

Blue States

Saturday, April 16, 2011

He must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear?

http://www.funnytimes.com/playground/img/123982844467895.png

Ricky Gervais on why he's an atheist.

Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.

Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence -­- evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe,” this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.

Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”

This, is of course a spirituality issue, religion is a different matter. As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a god. I don’t think there is a god, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a god. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different god, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder anyone, doesn’t get a mention till number 6.)

When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.”

But what are atheists really being accused of?

The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.

I used to believe in God. The Christian one that is.

I loved Jesus. He was my hero. More than pop stars. More than footballers. More than God. God was by definition omnipotent and perfect. Jesus was a man. He had to work at it. He had temptation but defeated sin. He had integrity and courage. But He was my hero because He was kind. And He was kind to everyone. He didn’t bow to peer pressure or tyranny or cruelty. He didn’t care who you were. He loved you. What a guy. I wanted to be just like Him.

One day when I was about 8 years old, I was drawing the crucifixion as part of my Bible studies homework. I loved art too. And nature. I loved how God made all the animals. They were also perfect. Unconditionally beautiful. It was an amazing world.

I lived in a very poor, working-class estate in an urban sprawl called Reading, about 40 miles west of London. My father was a laborer and my mother was a housewife. I was never ashamed of poverty. It was almost noble. Also, everyone I knew was in the same situation, and I had everything I needed. School was free. My clothes were cheap and always clean and ironed. And mum was always cooking. She was cooking the day I was drawing on the cross.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when my brother came home. He was 11 years older than me, so he would have been 19. He was as smart as anyone I knew, but he was too cheeky. He would answer back and get into trouble. I was a good boy. I went to church and believed in God -– what a relief for a working-class mother. You see, growing up where I did, mums didn’t hope as high as their kids growing up to be doctors; they just hoped their kids didn’t go to jail. So bring them up believing in God and they’ll be good and law abiding. It’s a perfect system. Well, nearly. 75 percent of Americans are God-­‐fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-­‐fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.

But anyway, there I was happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.

Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it and asking more questions, and within an hour, I was an atheist.

Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming. And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. I learned of evolution -– a theory so simple that only England’s greatest genius could have come up with it. Evolution of plants, animals and us –- with imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.

But living an honest life -– for that you need the truth. That’s the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation and dignity.

So what does the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking “what makes you so special? “How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?” “How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, f— you!” Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted. And why is it such a popular view? That’s obvious. It’s an attractive proposition. Believe in me and live forever. Again if it was just a case of spirituality this would be fine.

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Possible results of conservatives in power?

http://feministing.com/2011/03/31/indiana-lawmaker-women-will-fake-their-own-rape-or-incest-to-get-an-abortion/


http://feministing.com/2011/03/30/quick-hit-rick-santorum-blames-abortion-for-social-security-problems/


http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/gop-floats-new-version-no-taxpayer-funding-abortion-bill

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Only God Can Judge Me"

In December of 2007 I lost my younger brother, and in an effort to immortalize him, I had the Hebrew meaning of his first and middle names tattooed on my body in Sanskrit, as he was very interested in Buddhism. His first name across my lower back, below my bikini line so it is not visible, and his middle name down my spine, starting at the nape of my neck and going upwards towards my hairline. The one of my neck is visible if I happen to be wearing my hair up, but it is hidden otherwise, or if I am wearing a turtleneck or collared shirt.

The Hebrew meaning of his first and middle names, respectively, are "healer" and "God is my judge." In the past few years, I've had several people ask me what the Sanskrit letters mean, particularly the ones on my neck, as they are more visible.

When I tell them that it says "God is my judge," most people ask if I'm religious. Clearly, I'm not, but I can still appreciate the message.

Religious people often talk about "letting He without sin cast the first stone." This assumes that judgment should be left to God/Jesus, as He is the only one who is free from sin. Christians believe that God sent Jesus to die FOR our sins, to relieve us of them and to offer us salvation. If this is true, then Christians should leave the judgment to God/Jesus.

Unfortunately, the truth is that the religious do most of the judging themselves, and perhaps the worst part about it is that they judge what they cannot understand. I suppose we are all guilty of this to some degree, even the non-religious among us, but the major difference I see is that most agnostics and atheists that I've come into contact with at least TRY to understand that which they judge.

I wish that any religious group that preaches the ideas behind "only God can judge me" and "let He without sin cast the first stone", took its own advice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A prayer...

"We'd like to dedicate this song to those who lost their lives in London...and those who were maimed and injured...

We would like to turn this song into a prayer.

The prayer is that we don't become a monster in order to defeat a monster.

That's our prayer tonight."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euGFdZ5UUuI

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wise words

The Dalai Lama's Instructions for life:

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Follow the three R's:
- Respect for self.
- Respect for others.
- Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone everyday.
Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the earth.
Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
—Dalai Lama XIV

Awkward Family Photos



This could not be a more perfect example of a family who took the stories in the Bible a little TOO literally.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What is it you so despise?



A rant

I realized that the fact that we add the letters B.C. and A.D. before and after the year in order to separate one period of time from another is vexing to me, given that the letters stand for "before Christ" and "Anno Domini" (the year of our Lord).

I dislike this concept for two major reasons. First, it assumes that Christianity and the birth year of Jesus are relevant to everyone. Second, it assumes that Jesus is Lord.

In this country, it is unconstitutional to uphold the beliefs and values of one religion as superior to another, but doesn't the use of the year of Jesus' birth as the manner in which we split up a given period of time suggest that Christianity is the most important of all world religions?

I just don't agree with that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Protest the Pope and his crimes against humanity

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AASspr178ZY

Injustice?

Last week I was called a feminist, and it was meant as an insult. During an episode of the TV series "24", I commented that it was refreshing to watch a show that acknowledged women in positions that have historically been male-dominated. In "24", a woman is President of the United States, a woman excels in the IT field, and a woman is one of the best field agents the FBI has at its disposal.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that there are a lot of things men and women can do equally well. I also believe there are a lot of things men can do better than women and vice versa. What I DON'T believe is that thinking that a woman President and women excelling in technological and combat fields is good makes me a feminist.

I can't help but wonder sometimes if these distorted views about women in power and the belief that they are too "emotional" to successful wield it are rooted in the Bible, where subjugation of women and the confinement of women to a series of roles that made them anything BUT man's equal are the norm.

Some women accept these roles and don't resent being told they can't do the same things that men can do. I don't, and if that makes me a feminist, so be it. I've never thought of myself as one, but if the only alternative is to unquestioningly accept the role of women as indicated in the Bible, then I'm proud to call myself a feminist.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"The Great Mystery"

People often ask me what I, personally, believe in terms of God, life, death, the universe, and all kinds of other unanswerable questions. What I find myself telling them in reference to God is that it is not the CONCEPT of an unknowable force or "being" that may have played a role in the way things came to be, but solely the idea of God as the ANSWER to that unknowable thing that bothers me and drives me away.

My good friend Rohsler and I were talking about this very idea, and he told me that the Native Americans had a word for God, that translates as "The Great Mystery."

Now THAT is a definition I can work with.

I believe that the earth and its inhabitants have developed over billions of years by a process known as evolution by natural and sexual selection. As to how the earth came into existence in the first place...well, I confess I don't have an answer to that. Most people, especially the religious among us, like to call God that initial "cause" that brought the earth into existence. So far as I'm concerned, a better word (or phrase) for such an explanation is "The Great Mystery."

I like the phrase because while it does suggest that there is a reason for how and/or why the earth came into existence, it describes the process as it truly still remains: a mystery. It does not try to define unanswerable questions with words that only beckon the asking of more.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I stand with Egypt

During the youth protests in Egypt over Hosni Mubarak's corrupt, dictatorship-like rule I came across this message on the Facebook profiles of sadly, more than just one Jew.

Can one of you please get the following message to Egypt:

Please do not destroy the pyramids.

We will not rebuild them.

Signed,
The Jews

It makes me sad that I am descended from a people who, in the face of a tragedy in Egypt of such political magnitude, they felt that making snide remarks about historical events was appropriate. These protests had absolutely nothing to do with the Jews; they had to do with a people trying to liberate themselves from corruption, from a President who didn't even care whether the citizens of his country had access to food. The Egyptians made history when Mubarak stepped down, therefore upholding the right people have to a Democratic government. The Jews, of all people, should have recognized the plight of the Egyptians during this time as something akin to what the Jews have struggled with throughout their own history. It was a time for the Jews to stand WITH Egypt, not against it. Are we still not beyond ethnic and religious prejudice enough to recognize that?

That is not to say that Egypt's government is supportive of Israel's right to exist, nor that it is not anti-Semitic, and more likely than not, the ruler who comes to power now that Mubarak has stepped down will continue to preach hatred of Israel. I'm glad to hear that probably for as many Jews that were spewing hatred through messages such as the aforementioned one, there were Israelis standing WITH the Egyptians in support of what they've accomplished in the name of democracy, but this fight is far from over, and truthfully, it may never be. It may be too soon to count on Egypt for support of Israel, but snide comments do nothing to help the situation. The people of Egypt have shown what they can accomplish. Maybe if the Jews continue to stand along with the Egyptians they can show their government that supporting Israel, or at the very least, a neutral attitude towards Israel, is what it should strive for in the future.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I require no servant

My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.
-George Santayana

Enjoy it while you can

It must require an inordinate share of vanity and presumption after enjoying so much that is good and beautiful on earth, to ask the Lord for immortality in addition to it all.
-Heinrich Heine

Teaching Creationism in Public Schools

Here is a paper that I wrote for my Publicity Workshop class at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. We were instructed to pick an issue that has inspired a lot of debate and argue, as a Public Relations firm would, in defense of one side of the issue.

Topic: Should Creationism be taught in public schools?
Stance: No, it should not.

The men responsible for the establishment of the Constitution of the United States of America explicitly stated that The United States was not a Christian nation, and was in no way erected on Christian ideals. Moreover, nowhere does it say that America was founded on religious principles belonging to any particular religious faith. The First Amendment to the Constitution mandates the separation of Church and State, therefore requiring that public schools do not teach that one religion is superior to any other religion or that religion is superior to a secular lifestyle.

Creationism, creation science and intelligent design are ideas that are based on varying interpretations of the Bible. It was judged to be not a true science because it could never be falsified. This means that it was firmly held as a religious belief by its adherents and that no amount of contradictory physical evidence could change it. Consequently, any attempt to replace or even to supplement the teaching of evolution in public schools with Creationism would have the effect of advancing religious views. This, naturally, is unconstitutional. If our goal is to protect the right and ability of students to learn science that is not molded by religious doctrine, we must fulfill the promise and purpose of the First Amendment.

The theory of evolution is a fundamental concept of biology and it is supported by an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence. In fact, statistics show us that 95% of the general scientific community and 99% of scientists in the fields of biology and earth science accept the theory. Conversely, a 2008 Gallup Poll indicated that 44% of all American citizens believe that God “created life more or less in its present form less than 10,000 years ago” (Dawkins). This statistic alone shows us how far we have to go in terms of educating our youth about the theories that, after having undergone the scrutiny required for them to hold up under the scientific method, are still widely accepted. Simply eliminating evolution from the public school curriculum in order to ease community tensions would do a great disservice to all students. It would deny public school students an adequate science education, the need for which is becoming an absolute necessity for success in our high-tech world. According to the aforementioned statistics, the percentage of children who are receiving a scientific education of adequate caliber is only 56%. This earns the United States a failing grade, and to continue teaching Creationism as a viable alternative to evolution will prevent this percentage from increasing anytime soon.

It isn’t that “creation science” should not be taught at all. To be fair, the stories inherent to religion have a place when discussed in the proper context. Examining creation from a philosophical or allegorical perspective can certainly be positive for students, but there are churches and Sunday schools and Bible study classes where students can learn about it. The public school classroom is not the place. In fact, according to B.A. Robinson, “…this approach [to not teach creationism in public schools] makes sense and is ultimately good for religion because it leaves religious instruction to parents and to properly trained clergy. It also keeps government out of religious controversies, preserves quality science education, and ensures that public school classrooms remain hospitable to an ethnically diverse and religiously pluralistic society.” Children of all different religious faiths and belief systems attend public schools, and creation is not a story that is relevant to all of them. Evolution by natural and sexual selection, however, is indeed relevant. We are all products of it and it is the best method available to us in order to help us understand the world.

The Constitution refuses to acknowledge the United States as a government that upholds one religion over another because religion is not quantifiable. It is impossible to draw conclusions that would support one religion being better or truer than another. This is why we have freedom of religion in our country. A Dover School board member in Dover, Pennsylvania tried to make the same argument in relation to the theory of evolution. The board member said: “it’s a downright fraud to perpetrate on the students of this district to portray one theory over another [when it comes to the teaching of evolution as opposed to creation science].” Unfortunately, this is like comparing apples to oranges. While religion may not be quantifiable, the scientific method is, and evolution is a theory that holds up much better than Creation. The goal should not be to teach all ways of thinking about an issue; the goal should be to teach the best way of thinking about it, and right now, evolution is it.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_school.htm
www.adl.org
Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Anti-Defamation League

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." Now the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

A leader in the development of materials, programs and services, ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding and respect among diverse groups, carrying out its mission through a network of 30 Regional and Satellite Offices in the United States and abroad.

http://www.adl.org/

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

25 Creationists' Arguments, 25 Evolutionists' Answers

http://www.sullivan-county.com/nf0/fundienazis/25_answers.htm

Cartoon

Theory and fact

Evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.
—Stephen Jay Gould

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I came across this in the New York Times




This is exactly the type of story that confirms me in my belief that religion can be extremely dangerous. Thankfully the world isn't full of people who consider faith healing to be a viable solution to problems such as bacterial pneumonia in infants, but I think what disturbs me most about this article is the fact that the parents were sentenced to PROBATION and "ordered to ensure regular medical care for their seven surviving children", when a more appropriate charge would have been child abuse and neglect. These parents let their 2 year old son suffer for two full weeks, ignoring an obvious medical condition that was not improving on its own. I am deeply disturbed that bringing religion into the issue seems to have downgraded the crime and resulted in a punishment of probation because the parents had no "intent" of neglecting and killing their child, even though it was exactly what had happened.

This is a lesson in what brainwashing can do to people. It is sad mostly because the parents thought what they were doing was right.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I would just like to say...

"We must also be alert to "theological prejudices", not only in religious contexts, where they are overt, but in all metaphysics-even those that profess to be atheist. Like any modern philosopher, Jacques Derrida was deeply suspicious of the fixed, binary polarities that characterize modern thought, and the atheist/theist divide was, he believed, too simple. [Some] atheists have reduced the complex phenomena of religion to formulas that suit their own ideologies-as Marx did when he called religion an opiate of the oppressed or Freud when he saw it as oedipal terror. A fixed and final denial of God on metaphysical grounds was for Derrida as culpable as any dogmatic religious "theology". ...He was inclined to the view that, since no absolute certainty is within our grasp, we should for the sake of peace hesitate to make declarative statements of either belief or unbelief."

-Quoted from The Case for God, Karen Armstrong


I posted this because this blog is not about my own personal delusion that I have all the answers, and I want to maintain that it is solely an outpost for me to voice incompatibilities that I, myself, have recognized in organized religion, and my thoughts regarding better ways to think about the subject. I recognize that it is a complicated subject with a history that has spanned millennia. I am not trying to reduce it to a simple issue in its entirety.

Though I think you would be hard pressed to find an atheist who claims to KNOW that God does not exist with the same certainty that religious people KNOW that God exists, and this is the difference I would like to point out. Most of those people who would consider themselves atheists are actually agnostics leaning TOWARDS atheism, for to declare oneself as atheist when there is no proof that God does not exist, would make said atheist as bad as the religious person who chooses to believe in God on blind faith and on blind faith only.

That being said, that is not to say that such atheists don't exist (though I have yet to meet or read about one), but I am not including myself in the bunch.