I was browsing my favorite art site, deviantart.com, a few days ago and came across this painting. A nicely done picture of Jesus titled, My Best Friend. My tollerence of bullshit was very low at that particular time (lower than it ususlly is!). In a fit of pique I left a simple, harsh, comment, “I’m sorry”.
Today, the artist who made that picture sent me a note. Here is the exchange:
i read your comment on my work.,my best friend,….and this has many interpretations…
may i ask your reason for being sorry…so that i may comment accordingly my friend…I’m sorry that your best friend is someone who doesn’t exist, or at least who you can’t see, touch, or hear. I believe that this life is precious and that it is all that we are sure that we have. For me, to put emotions into something that you can’t be sure is there is a waste. It does you and the people around you a disservice. By expending time, emotion, and even love on something that may or may not be real takes that time, emotion, and love away from the people around you who need it here, now.
I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t believe in Jesus, but you live in this world with people who love you and need you. Make the most of it and give yourself and those you love every minute you have, every bit of love that you can. If after doing this, you feel you still have time and energy left for Jesus, great. But to say that he is your best friend is an insult to your real friends, who are here now and who need you.
My last post, Hitler – The Last Refuge of a Theist, seems to have hit a nerve among skeptics and atheists. I’ve seem some excellent comments regarding the truth about Hitler and his supposed support of Darwin and evolution. Among them is the following outstanding comment from fribnit.
“The single “scholarly” work of which I am aware that promotes a Darwin-Hitler connection is a piece of propaganda funded by an “Intelligent Design” promoting group called Discovery. The book, called From Darwin to Hitler by an “Historian” named Richard Weikart, is widely discredited as nothing more than propaganda.
As stated above, the Nazi’s burned Origin of the Species. Evolution was among the areas of scientific study derided by Hitler as “Jew Science”. Interesting in that Darwin was not Jewish.
It offends me deeply when someone uses the Hitler card in such a patently false manner, intended to discredit with guilt by association.
As Jay points out, Hitler self identified as a Christian. He felt that “The Almighty” guided and approved of his actions. Certainly the Christian-Hitler connection is much stronger than any supposed Darwin-Hitler connection.
I do not blame “Christianity” for the actions of Hitler and the Nazi scum, nor do I blame “Christianity” for the atrocities of the KKK, who also consider themselves “God Fearing Christians”. I don’t even blame “Christianity” for the Spanish Inquisition (Hundreds of years before Darwin) or the Crusades. I hold as responsible the people that conceived and committed these atrocities.
Long before Darwin, The Greeks and Romans and many others, considered themselves separate races from, and superior to, other people on the planet. Long before Darwin people of a variety of races considered other races to be less than human and tried to eliminate or enslave them. Human history is littered with attempts at genocide.
Believing in Intelligent Design or Creationism in the face of all the SCIENTIFIC evidence to the contrary is a remarkable exercise in willful blindness.
Trying to discredit Evolution by claiming it inspired one of the greatest atrocities in the history of man is vile and despicable and a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible: “Intelligent Design”.”:
There are several very good points made here. Hitler did self-identify as a Christian and did, if we can believe his written and spoken words, that the “Almighty” was guiding him and supporting him.
The Nazis did burn copies of On Origin of Species and considered evolution a “Jewish” science. Burning copies of a book that describes a theory you supposedly support is incomprehensible.
Eugenics is not based on Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, but rather artificial selection, or breeding. Just as humans have bred animals for thousands of years, Hitler and his cohorts believed that they could breed better humans and even set up communities where Aryan men and women were paired, married and had children. A major goal of the Holocaust was not just to kill the Jews and other “undesirables”, but to remove them completely from the human gene pool by both exterminating those who existed and breeding the various percentages out of these genes out of the remaining population.
This type of evolutionary selection is anything but natural, which is what Darwin’s theory is all about. Those who wish to use the Nazi example of eugenics against evolution show a gross lack of understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and of history.
To compare Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection to Hitler and the Holocaust is intellectually dishonest and reprehensible. It is a desperate ploy by people who can find no reasonable and cogent arguments to support their religious beliefs. It shows the narrowness of their world view and the smallness of the intellect.
My childhood friend who was upset about my trashing of the bible as a source for moral authority has now commented on my Happy Darwin Day post:
|Kerry D. Fitts commented on your post.
Kerry wrote: “don’t forget to credit Darwin with the nazi’s and the Holocaust Hitler was a big fan of darwin and his eugenics”
Ah, bringing up Hitler and the Nazis, the last refuge of scoundrels. Oh, wait, that is patriotism, we are talking about religion and science. We could apply Goodwin’s law, but I’m not sure that really applies. Still, dragging the Nazis into it is always bad form, unless you are discussing history.
I say to you, Kerry, that what hitler believed or promoted from his understanding of evolution is immaterial to wether Darwin or evolution is correct or bad.
Hitler also used Christianity and his Christian beliefs to justify almost everything about his regime. Check out these quotes by Hitler to find out just how prominent a role Hitler gave Christianity in his words and deeds.
Based on these copious quotes should I then say that Jesus and Christianity should be given credit for the Nazis and the holocaust as well? If anything, the prevailing Christian belief that the Jews were Christ killers is and was at the core of the anti-semitism that produced the horrors of the holocaust.
The fact that you seem to feel so threatened by a scientist and a scientific theory that you would stoop so low as playing the Nazi card shows me that you are deeply affected by cognitive dissonance caused by your religious beliefs. It is obviously pointless to continue discussing these topics with you as you are too entrenched in your dogma to make them productive.
A dear friend of mine posted some disturbing videos from Indonesia of people being stoned to death for one religious offense or another on her Facebook profile to highlight the terrible violence that religion continues to inspire. She changed her profile photo to
I found what I consider to be a much more accurate version of the Coexist sign above,
*by http://dailyatheist.deviantart.com/. Used with permission.
I’m not a graphic artist, but I’m sure if I had the talent I could come up with other signs that contained more “truthiness” that the Coexist one.
Of course, the Coexist message represents something to strive for and as such it serves its purpose well. If religious coexistence was a fact, we wouldn’t need the logo in the first place.
While I fully support efforts for peoples of all faith to coexist, my feelings, as I said in my response to one of the videos, is that to coexist we must see each other as fellow humans, not as believers and unbelievers and until we can throw off all vestiges of religions, that can never happen. As long as people allow religion to guide how they live their lives, the violence and hatred will continue. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but we need to be realistic about just how insidious the influence of religion really is and how very difficult it will be to change that.
It is Darwin Day! This is a day to remember the huge effect that Darwin’s On Origin Of Species and the theory it describes has had on the biological sciences. Everything we know today about modern genetics, micro-biology, and medicine has evolution at their foundations. The high yield crops that feed billions, the powerful antibiotics and vaccines that save millions of lives every year, the cutting edge medical technologies that promise cures for diseases as diverse as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes rely on knowledge that has evolution at their foundation. Evolution is one of the most powerfully explanatory, predictive, and useful scientific theories since Newton devised his theory of gravity.
To celebrate, go and read the 1st (and best) edition of On Origin of Species for free.
I’ll leave you with this picture from Tree Lobsters which expresses the awesomeness of Darwin and his theory:
A childhood friend on FB responded to my post, The Bible is the Literal Word of God; Except When Its Not. Here is what he said:
“have you read the Bible? or are you simply regurgitating ignorance from others? I have offered answers, yet I have not been taken up on this. Again, it is very irresponsible to propagate unsubstantiated opinions. Why this venom towards Christians and the Bible? If you wish to be an athiest be one, that is your right. Why the all out war on the belief of others. What is freethinking? Oh just freedom to think apart from responsibility and accountablity? Freedom from any form of religious thinking? Maybe free thinking should be folks who examine an issue and think for themselves. Not simply robots who cannot originate a though for themselves. Freethinking is a misnomer”
Yes, I’ve read the bible, cover to cover, at least twice, and many parts of it, the New Testament especially, many, many times over the years. It was this almost continual reading of the bible that made me see more and more contradictions that I just couldn’t rationalize away. Then I studied the history of the writing of the New Testament, how there were originally hundreds of gospels and competing camps of bishops supporting one version of the theology against the others. I learned about the political machinations that took place to arrive at the New Testament we have now. It was, totally and completely, cover to cover, created to fulfill political agendas of the most powerful bishops and the rulers who backed them.
Why do I have such venom toward the bible and the people who misuse it (I refuse to lump all Christians into one group as this would be irresponsible)? Ask Madeline Neumann, a 12-year-old girl whose parents, based on their religion, allowed her to die of diabetic ketoacidosis rather than save her life by allowing physicians to administer insulin and fluids. They thought prayer would save her. It didn’t. Ask the thousands of people who have been killed over the last 2000 years for their refusal to follow the prevailing version of Christianity. Ask the irresponsible ministers and political leaders who wish to brand homosexuals as immoral, second-class citizens. Ask the 156,000,000 women who’s reproductive organs are held hostage by a religiously motivated white, male, privileged class of cretins.
I wage an all out war on anything that conspires to take rights away from people. That includes holier-than-thou Christians, militant, closed minded Muslims, Zionistic Jews willing to steal and kill to get their land, white supremacists who wish to overthrow the U.S Government, wide-eyed, white, privileged Greenpeace and PETA people who would rater see millions starve and die of disease than allow GM foods and medicines tested on animals be developed that could save countless lives.
Christianity is my main focus because, almost without exception, all of the people in this country right now who would seek to take rights away from others self-identify as Christians and claim that their sense of morality comes from their religion. If things change and the largest group of privileged people in power become Muslims or Hindus or Wiccans, I’ll fight them just as loudly and forcefully.
I don’t claim to be able to tell people how to live their lives. As long as no one is being harmed, taken advantage of, or being forced either by law or by custom to kowtow to some group’s beliefs, then I say let people believe whatever they like. You can believe in God and Jesus, you can believe that Homosexuals will go to hell, but keep that belief within your churches and homes, don’t force it on others.
I don’t go door to door trying to get people not to believe in God. I don’t support any law that would outlaw any kind of religion or religious belief. I don’t lobby for my personal beliefs to be the law of the land, but don’t try to tell me that Christians aren’t doing that every day, in every town and state in the country. When the Christian majority (and yes, you are well over a 70% majority) tries to tell the rest of us what we can do and say and believe and think, then yes, I will fight for my rights and the rights of everyone else who are forced to listen to people tell us we are less American and less patriotic than they are because we don’t believe in their god. This country was founded on religious freedom (freedom for and from religion) and freedom of conscience, not on Christianity or any other religion. Yes, I will fight for that kicking and screaming, every fucking step of the way.
Atheist Revolution has a nice entry about how the bible condemns public prayer. I’m waiting to see what kind of spin the Christian apologists will put on that one. I have talked about this whole, the-bible-is-literal-except-for-the-parts-I-don’t-like phenomenon before here. There is a technical name for this, coined by Penn & Teller; it’s called BULLSHIT.
I want to quote from that piece of mine that I mentioned above and elaborate a bit on it:
Jay Walker: So how do you decide what parts of the “Old Testament” to believe and which parts not to? I thought the whole bible was the word of god? I’m not asking to be sarcastic, I’m honestly curious.
Bob Santaniello: It isn’t a decision; I believe as you said, all of the Old and New Testaments is the true word of God as given to men by the Holy Spirit. The deciding part is to hermeneutically figure out to whom the different parts were written, why things were written, the cultural surroundings in which they were written, the style of writing – poetry, symbolism, narrative, prophetic – most all can be found in them. The more I study God’s word, the better I come to understanding Him and in building a relationship with Him – and how to live according to His word. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells how Bible truth is revealed to mankind.
So the bible is literally true, except when it is poetic, symbolic, or whatever else the apologist decides best fits his current bullshit explanation of the “word of God”. For some reason, the all-powerful, all-knowing god, although he writes quite persuasively, can’t seem to write very clearly. You would think that a deity the likes of which Christians describe would be able to get his message across clearly and succinctly. I’ve known 9th graders who were able to write much more lucidly and get their point across with infinitely more clarity that this all knowing, all add-your-grandiose-trait here, ne plus ultra deity (I used to teach high school English so I’ve seen plenty of 9th grade writings so I know that of which I speak.)
The bible is ragtag collection of manmade texts with no self-consistency of facts, theology or history, if anything, the contradictions within them are glaring and numerous. There are numerous sources that I could cite, two excellent ones are Biblical Nonsense: A Review Of The Bible For Doubting Christians, by Jason Long and Self-Contradictions of the Bible, by William Henry Burr. You can also google “bible contradictions” and that will turn up hundreds of sites with thousands of examples.
Christians would have you believe that the bible is akin to a sports or game rulebook for living life.
Here is an exercise that you yourself can do to approximate the clarity and explanatory power of the bible:
- Acquire rulebooks for baseball, basketball, polo, monopoly, chess, poker and horseshoes.
- Carefully tear each page out of each rulebook.
- Throw all the pages up in the air. (It would help if there was a fairly stiff breeze).
- Collect them all up and throw them into one big pile.
- Organize them into a stack so that all pages are orientated the same way.
- Staple, tape, or bind them all together in a binder.
- Now, on the outside of the binder write, “The Bible”.
Viola! Your very own rule book that makes just as much sense and was organized in much the same way the book Christians call their bible. You and your friends will have just as much trouble figuring your book out as Christians do theirs.
If you do decide to try this experiment, please, for the love of all that is good, burn your book as soon as you are done leafing through it so that some nut doesn’t find it and start preaching that he’s found the true way to play the game of life.
Here is an interview with Frank Zappa where he discusses the danger of the Religious right’s growing influence within the U.S. Government. It was relevant then during the Reagan era and it is just as relevant now.
This is hosted on my sister site, Freethinking4dummies.org. This a bit more personal than my blog here, so if you are interested about the guy behind Freethinking For Dummies, enjoy!
Here is an illuminating comment on my earlier post from a reader, Sas, and my reply:
- Thanks for this . I have been appalled by some men’s attitudes – I left Christianity hoping for an equal world and was horrified to see the same old crap in the atheist camp. ” girls are naturally less intelligent that’s why they go to church ” No you twat, church has free childcare and you don’t get touched up. Treat women right and they’ll join you. Also try to understand that liking men and sex doesn’t mean they will sleep with any man – ESP not the older ones who think we are gagging for a father figure… Comment by Sas | February 8, 2011 | Edit | Reply
- Ps lots of men don’t like sex and will make you feel bad for asking for it. Strangely they lie about that to their male friends. Comment by Sas | February 8, 2011 | Edit | Reply
- Sas, I agree with you completely. Men need to understand that just because a woman is sexually liberated doesn’t mean she will sleep with everyone, especially them. Yes, biology is powerful. Yes, males evolved to try to have sex with as many females as possible in order to pass on their genes. But to use this as an excuse to treat women solely as sexual objects is disingenuous and wrong. This only supports the theists’ contention that atheists are all amoral darwinists. We are moral creatures who have the benefit of intelligence and rational thought to rise above our evolutionary imperatives, especially when they interfere with our ability to responsibly interact with each other. Comment by Jay Walker | February 8, 2011 | Edit | Reply
I read a guest blog post at Blag Hag by Sharon Moss, President of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio with Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance, about their experience at the American Atheists’ Southeast Regional Atheist Meet in Huntsville, Alabama. In it, they explain the sexism they encounter while there.
What is ironic is that the sexist attitudes were most evident at a panel about how atheist organizations can attract more women. I’ll let them explain in their own words:
A panel of five guys and one woman discussed what an atheist group should do to attract more women. The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her. First, the panelists grabbed a theme that had been floating around all weekend: that men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable), making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.
Then the moderator asked the women in the audience, as if it were a rewording of the same question, whether they would feel harassed or flattered if they showed up to an event and a few guys started flirting with them. We women in the audience, pressured to respond to the question at hand but feeling duped because we knew it wasn’t the same thing, gave an honest response. Sure, a few guys flirting with us is sexy. BUT!!! (we all screamed in our heads, even though the panel never let us say it out loud) 20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.
It was extremely frustrating. So I wasn’t surprised when the young woman who finally stood up and started challenging the panel snapped. First, despite her having her hand raised for most of the discussion, the panel never even acknowledged her or invited her opinion (despite soliciting the opinion of several guys both on and off the panel. Finally, she just stood up and started shouting to make her voice heard. Her question focused on the language the panel had been using – “female” instead of “woman,” and pointed out that it made us sound like livestock rather than people.
But did the panel address the question, perhaps looking for the point at which the discussion took on the word “female” so universally? Did they take the opportunity to discuss how things like language can make a group uncomfortable for women, and what we could do to make it better? No! The woman asking the question was viciously torn apart and ridiculed for even bringing it up. First, a combination of panelists and audience members tried to defend themselves by saying that feminists won’t let men use the word “women” off-limits because it has “men” in it. Then a commotion of everyone talking at once, which was cut off by one panelist’s definitive comment: “What do you want us to say, ‘the weaker sex?”
She got upset (and who wouldn’t be?) and left the room. I – a member of the audience, not one of the event organizers – went after her. While there were a few odd calls from the audience for the panelist to apologize, the moderator sort of awkwardly pushed the discussion on to a new topic, with an embarrassed air of “Sorry for the disturbance.” No apology, no discussing a better way it could have been handled. Not even a joking “This is how *not* to be welcoming” comment. Just “nothing to see here, move along.”
…From there, the conversation wandered into a weird discussion about how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at, judge, or think less of men for any skirt-chasing they might engage in. (Because we never intellectually overcome our animal instincts in other areas of our biology, right?) The attitude in the room shifted: suddenly women were the bad guys for saying no to men’s propositions because it denies the men’s innate biology. Most of the guys in the room loved it, but as a woman in the audience – it was really uncomfortable. It was demeaning, frustrating, and not what you want to say to attract more women into this movement. And the attitude stuck around.
All these people got presented with a totally skewed perspective on our movement’s views on gender equality and sexuality. The message was loud and clear: it’s totally ok for guys to be assholes. Women should just STFU when men treat them like sex objects. The appropriate way to solve the problem of gender imbalance is to ask a bunch of guys about it (oh, and the entire problem is just because women won’t let men have sex with them whenever they want to). The way to handle women’s input is to ridicule them.
This whole experience would be laughable, like something from a bad Saturday Night Live skit, if it weren’t for the fact that it really happened, and happened in the context of a discussion of how to attract more women to the atheist movement.
This sort of thing makes me ashamed to be a man, not to mention a white, middle-aged, male atheist, and rightly so. The insufferable sense of male privilege permeates the description of the conference and I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a woman in attendance. I can tell you that had I been there I certainly would have, for one, apologized for my insensitive and idiotic fellow white males, and then I would have ripped them a new one for being to fatuously insensitive to 30% of the audience present.
I believe that if atheist organizations want to make their organizations more open and welcoming to women, they need to, first and foremost, actively seek out women to be, not just members, but organizers. I know, that is putting the cart before then horse, but they must at lease try to truly understand the discrimination and sexism that woman face in our society. They need to educate themselves on this subject and take what they learn to heart.
There is no excuse for these kinds of sexist attitudes or behavior at an atheist conference, unless these are some kind of male only atheist organizations, in which case, who needs them?