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Posts Tagged ‘secularism’

A Non-Trivial Problem

June 12, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

I’ve been trapped in an endless and ultimately pointless debate on this blog for over a week now.  It all began when a pseudo-theistic pseudo-apologist commented on one of my “Live Blogging the Bible” posts with something that amounted to

“Tee-hee, yeah, this is a pretty silly part of the bible.  I agree.  But still, man is that book incredible and divine.”

Of course, I haven’t read the whole book and have barely crested the “preface” stage, but I still have to take issue with this assertion.  The book cannot be more than the sum of its parts.  If there are any genuinely meritorious parts of the book, one would still have to weigh them against the unscrupulous horrors in other parts of the book.  And honestly, the rest of the book would have to pretty damn good to make up for the misguided anti-morality of the first three books.

The crux of the apologists argument was that my cursory reading of the bible was worthless as I wasn’t taking the time to understand it in context.  I was also focused only on the bible and not the rich theology that has evolved through the ages.  Christianity, he argued, is not the bible.  The bible is just a starting point and the theology of the faith had advanced so much since the days of Moses’ foreskin aided wrestling match.

I pointed out that it’s not really possible to say that theology “advanced”, as one can no more say that theology of today is in accordance with the divine than the theology of yesteryear.  It’s like talking about a breakthrough in homeopathy or phrenology.  If the endeavor has no measurable value, it can’t be said to advance.  Advance suggests a destination.

Instead of answering that charge, my esteemed opponent instead accused me of “religious intolerance” as though I did not boast of it.  He suggested that I’d simply divided the world into the good people who are against religion and the bad people who are in favor of it.  It was a thinly veiled charge of anti-theistic bigotry that rested on my continued insistence that without a goal one can draw no nearer to the goal.  How dare I be so intolerant of people making bold and demonstrably false truth claims while insisting that they’re point of view should be respected and accepted without the burden of evidence?

This is a common tack from the “liberal” theist (and by liberal I refer here to their theology, not their politics).  Atheists are bullies that are every bit as dogmatic as the believers.  We’re intolerant of religious people (which is true) which means we’re just like the Muslims who are intolerant of the Jews (which is bullshit).  They, on the other hand, are agnostics with a property-less god and the only honest position: self-imposed ignorance.  We should just live and let live and who cares if fundamentalists stand in the way of science or oppress gays or mistreat women?  That’s not religion’s fault.

It is an intellectually dishonest position and what’s more, anyone smart enough to take this position is also smart enough to see why it’s bullshit.  Religious extremism is (as the name would suggest) simply a point on the spectrum of religiosity.  Some people have benign tumors but that doesn’t mean tumors aren’t a problem.  Fundamentalism is a problem that (a) all religions share and (b) cannot be found outside of a religious context.  This would suggest that fundamentalism is a necessary byproduct of religion.  And it really doesn’t matter what a bunch of Muslim scholars say about peace and love if the true believers are hacking people to death in the streets.

This is not a “live and let live” situation.  This is a situation that demands intolerance.  Religion is a non-trivial problem.

No rational person would wish for the destruction of the world.  Such a proposition is as irrational as any you might propose.  What’s more, no person irrational enough to wish for the destruction of the world could possibly acquire the means and assistance he or she  would need to make it happen.  While technology does give us the means to global catastrophe, it is hard to imagine that anyone with the stated goal of world destruction could find anyone willing to lend a hand.  Sure, a clever statesmen could use nationalism and deceit to trick enough people into helping him, but the very nature of logic forbids any large scale attempt to bring about the end of one’s own species.

But, of course, if logic can be removed, there is no such safeguard.  If one can be convinced without evidence that a whole different universe exists after you die that is way better and way more important than this petty world, you could overcome your natural survival instinct and happily march the planet toward the apocalypse that your god has promised you.

No doubt the liberal defender of theism would roll their eyes at this nightmare scenario.  They would pretend it is ridiculous.  They would pretend that there aren’t large, organized, multi-national groups with exactly this goal.  They would pretend that somehow reason can prevail amid a group that has outlawed reason.

And of course they would.  They have to.  They can’t accept that the same thing that gives them their own personal love-Jesus might also have a dark side.  And they certainly can’t accept that the dark side eclipses the bright side.

Religious extremism is just religion without constraint.  No religion has ever voluntarily tempered itself.  No religion has ever neutered its own power.  It is the job of the secularist, the job of the scientist and the job of the atheist to castrate religion every time it thrusts its scrotum into the rest of the world.  As fond as religion is of mutilating it’s own genitals, they still leave that job to us.

Does FEMA Discriminate Against Churches?

February 15, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

The temerity of religious leaders never fails to amaze me. As I peruse the various Christian and religious news outlets in search of news items for the next show, I constantly come across the most brazenly illogical fury and anger. Christians stand within their echo chamber so often that they often lose track of just how full of shit they are.

The latest source for Christian Op-Ed ire is FEMA’s policy against giving federal grants to churches to rebuild after natural disasters. I’ve come across a couple of articles where these pulpit-pounders rail against the bigoted, heartless, merciless policy that refuses to give lump sums of tax payer money to organizations that refuse to pay taxes.

Seems simple to me. If you don’t pay into the pool, you don’t get to take from it. How simple is that? If I get sick, I can’t use my brother-in-laws insurance to pay for treatment, can I? If I didn’t throw in on the bag, I don’t get to smoke any of the weed. It’s some pretty simple shit when you apply logic to it.

But Christians and logic don’t get along and that much is obvious from their irate opinions on this matter. In 3 articles I read on the subject, not one single author bothers to even address the issue of churches not paying taxes. It’s as though it doesn’t even occur to them that the rest of us actually pay those taxes. It’s as though they don’t recognize that it is anti-American and anti-intelligence to give my tax dollars to a church to rebuild. It’s as though they don’t even realize that they don’t actually serve a function in the real world.

Take this article from the Christian Post. Author Paul de Vries couldn’t be more livid about how unfairly the churches are being treated. After all, he points out that the churches were the first to respond to victims of the storm and now, when they need help, FEMA is nowhere to be found.

The first problem with his point is that it’s complete bullshit. The first responders were police officers, fire fighters, utility workers and paramedics (that’s why we call those people “first responders”). Sure, many churches opened their doors to the suddenly homeless and distributed food and water and medicine in the aftermath of the disaster. But, of course, that is the only function they serve in the world and the only possible justification for making them tax exempt in the first place.

Many secular groups also pitched in and helped in the aftermath of the storm and many secular people volunteered for days and weeks after to assist in the cleanup (myself included). The secular groups were far more effective, of course, as they spent none of their time trying to evangelize and proselytize to the people who were coming to them for help.

But the preachers, pastors and priests would have you believe that if it weren’t for all those Christians, nobody would have been helping at all.

De Vries points out that religious organizations gave tens of millions of dollars to help the storm’s victims, but somehow it doesn’t occur to him that if FEMA started wasting its money rebuilding churches, they would be, in effect, taking back the money they just donated. What kind of slippery logic does one have to employ to argue that the fact that Christians gave money to the disaster somehow means that the disaster owes them money?

He calls the policy bigoted (despite the fact that it treats all houses of worship equally), he calls it “a severe penalty” (despite the fact that it isn’t a penalty no matter how broadly one defines penalty… it’s not like FEMA is billing them) and he even goes so far as to call it “a step down an insane and sinister slope”, arguing that before we know it they’ll be denying churches the use of police officers and firefighters.

I’m all for that, of course. If you don’t pay taxes you shouldn’t get any government services. That being said, I’m not in charge of anything but this blog and a podcast. I’m not making the law. The notion that the government is going to stop sending cops and firefighters to churches is almost too stupid to acknowledge, and it is too stupid to bother to refute. I only bring it up to point out that even when they name the logical fallacy within the logical fallacy, they still don’t see the logical fallacy.

But by far the worst collection of words in his whole self-aggrandizing treatise of nonsense is this one:

blocking FEMA grants to churches is to pretend to be ignorant of the continuing soul care needed by the many and various victims of Superstorm Sandy.

I should point out that those are his italics up there. I didn’t even need to highlight the clause that makes the statement such ravenous horse-shit. One of his arguments is that without these grants, churches can’t take care of the victim’s souls.

Now keep in mind that there’s not just some money-wizard down at FEMA who conjures up wads of cash or anything. They’re actually calling for money to be redirected to churches. They are actually asking that money that would otherwise go toward rebuilding homes and vital businesses go to churches instead. We should actually take money from the “make sure kids have roofs over their heads” fund and the “make sure employees have a place to go to earn a living fund” and give it to a useless vestigial cancer that needs it to take care of the imaginary man that lives in our brains and drives our body.

So go fuck yourself, Paul. If you want disaster relief, pay your fucking taxes.

Podcast Reboot

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

It worked for Batman, James Bond and Star Trek so we figured we’d give it a try ourselves.  The podcast has been revitalized and reissued with a brand new episode one.  It will be available on all the major platforms within a few days, but if you’d like to beat the crowds, you can subscribe by pointing your pod-catching software here.

The format is new, with 30 minute biweekly shows and, depending on the response, we’ll keep ourselves open to upping it to weekly shows.

Of course, if you just can’t wait, you can listen to the podcast here:

Autoplay (NSFW)

Harold Camping: 3rd Time’s the Charm!

by Noah Lugeons

This is why I’ll never understand the faithful.  Harold Camping predicted the rapture would happen on September 7th of 1994.  When that didn’t happen, he predicted it again in 2011.

So let’s try to get beyond that first. You fail in predicting something as grandiose as the fucking rapture, you shouldn’t be qualified to guess weight at a carnival from that point forward. If a scientist predicted the end of the world and then it failed to pass, nobody on this planet would listen to anything that scientist said again but to mock it.

But religion doesn’t work that way.  Harold Camping got a mulligan.

And it wasn’t even like his followers were slightly less credulous the second time around. It would be easy to say that after being burned once you’d at least accept the possibility that he was going to come up short again this time. But if you look at the results from this latest failure it seems that if anything, their faith in their leader increased. At the very least their financial support grew if the national advertising blitzkrieg is anything to judge by.

From my rational, atheistic point of view it seems like the idea of going out to witness the end of mankind again would be a red flag in itself. But not for these unquestioning Camp-ites. They are doubly sure this time because they were wrong the time before.

Different year, same result. No rapture. And Camping gets a mulligan.

That’s right. Camping has spoken. Turns out that the rapture did occur on Saturday. I figured as much… as though he might suggest that us linen-wearing, indiscriminate meat-eaters weren’t good enough to be spared, but he chose the more “loving Jesus” approach to the whole thing.

Camping’s explanation for why the rapture failed to happen is simple. Jesus reappeared and took a look at humanity and his big-old Jesusy heart just couldn’t bear to put us through all that torment. But have no fears, Camping isn’t backing off from his original October deadline for the actual end of the world. He’s just saying that Christ didn’t have the heart to rapture his loyal followers up to sky-candy land. Seems that this pang of conscience didn’t extend to not actually killing everyone and sending the vast majority to an eternity of suffering in Hell.

I’m sure Camping lost some of his flock, but if even one person is still clinging to the ramblings of this deranged old kook it is one too many. Come to think of it, I feel the same way about Jesus.