Just a Little Common Sense

For a life based on reason, ethics, literature and art.

Posts Tagged ‘religion

God Done Diddit

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I want you to picture a guy, let’s call him Paul, walking into an urban police-station. Beaming, he proclaims that he knows what happened to the dead body that was found in the river five days ago; that he’s solved the mystery.
Let’s assume that by some random chance, or maybe out of desperation, the police actually take him seriously. So they ask him in, lead him into a room, sharpen their pencils, switch on the tape-recorder, and take a statement. This is how it goes:

PAUL: “You ready? Can I start?”
OFFICER: “Sure. Please tell us what you know.”
PAUL: “You see, he was murdered. Frank did it.”
OFFICER: “Frank… Frank who?”
PAUL: “Well, Frank of course. Frank Frank. Who else would I mean?”
OFFICER: “…”
PAUL: “…”
OFFICER (With disappointment at the realization that this won’t be the clue they’d been hoping for): “That’s it? That’s what you came to tell us?”
PAUL (Genuinely puzzled): “What do you mean? I told you what happened. What more could you want?”

We could imagine this going on indefinitely, but this little conversation is enough to convey my point. Merely tossing a name out there and proclaiming that a murder took place is not the same as truly solving the mystery of an unidentified body.
Yet, this is exactly how religious people tackle the question about the origin of our universe. They proclaim that it was “made”, and that it was “God” who made it. And then they lean back, satisfied with their accomplishment of having “solved” the mystery, gaze us a beaming smile, and react confused when we reject their “explanation” as preposterous and stupid.

To complete the analogy, let’s have Paul defend his thesis by proclaiming that it’s more likely Frank committed a murder than that the water of the river simply morphed into a dead body.
Theists frequently claim that, due to the apparent fine-tuning of our universe, it being made is more likely than it just coming into existence “by a giant explosion”. Of course, nobody ever said that a giant explosion was the origin of the universe, just like nobody at the police-department proposed that the body is actually magically transformed water of the river.
The Big Bang Theory is actually not about the origin of the universe: Like the police, we’re still pretty clueless regarding that mystery; like the police, it’s likely we’ll solve it eventually. What the Big Bang Theory actually is about is the early development of the universe: The theory states that the universe transformed from a very hot, very dense state to a less hot, less dense state, which is analogous to the police stating that it’s very likely the body they found was, at some point in the past, alive. It’s something we know beyond reasonable doubt. It’s something we can prove pretty much for sure.

What bothers me about all this is not that there actually are people like Paul out there, who really do not see the problem with the sort of oversimplified skyhook-explanation they give for complex problems.
What bothers me is that my analogy fails at one very important point: Paul the potential witness is regarded as a lunatic by society, and will probably find himself in a mental institution in the near future. Paul the theologean, on the other hand, is a highly respected member of society, gets invited by TV-stations to comment on enormously important political topics and has a huge influence on public opinion regarding an incredible variety of topics.

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Much Ado About Nothing

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My local catholics are playing dress-up again, walking the streets chanting and carrying candles. I left my window open for just a minute too long, and now my whole fucking room stinks of fucking incense. I am seething. Just what gives them the right to rub their silly rituals in my face like that?
If I’d run through public streets at this hour being as loud and producing as much smell, I’d be arrested within minutes. From noise pollution to disturbance of public peace, scandalization and what-not, I’d be charged with a variety of stuff and it’d end up being a very expensive prank. Plus, if I was wearing as silly a costume and a funny hat while annoying the shit out of people for no reason, I’d probably be put straight into the mental ward. And rightfully so, because that is where people who engage in this kind of activity belong. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

November 14, 2010 at 19:34

Your Own Personal Jesus… for only €95,00.

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As we all know, Google collects data. They do that to characterize your individual interests, in order to more effectively display advertisement which suits those interests. If you’re familiar with my blog, you may have noticed that some of my main interests are alternative medicine, mythology and religion – unfortunately, the Google-ad-machinery does not distinguish between those who are interested in mythology in order to practice it, and those who are interested in it in order to debunk it. As a result of this insufficiently discriminatory process, people who are as ferociously anti-religious as me get to see ads like “Holy Land Pilgrimage – explore the origins of your faith”, “ChristianDating – Find true happiness with a partner who shares your faith” and so on.

Today, I one of these ads actually managed to catch my attention. Behold “FreeJee – the snuggle cross”:


The product statement from the company’s homepage (My translation from the German original) is pure comedy gold:

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Written by Phil

September 25, 2010 at 02:04

Denver: Highway-Memorials Ruled Unconstitutional

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The Deseret News has an article on an interesting case this week: An Atheist group in Denver filed a lawsuit to remove memorial-crosses from the highway, and they won.

DENVER — The white, roadside crosses that currently memorialize the deaths of 14 Utah Highway Patrol troopers are unconstitutional, government endorsements of religion on public lands, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

“We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion,” the court wrote in siding with the Texas-based American Atheists, Inc.

In 2005, the atheist group sued the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Highway Patrol Association, a private entity aimed at supporting troopers and their families, to get the crosses taken off state lands.

On Wednesday, 10th Circuit judges David M. Ebel, Harris L. Hartz and Deanell Reece Tacha ruled the white crosses violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Phil

August 19, 2010 at 10:37

Are You Sure  You’re Not Catholic?

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The question sounds silly only as long as you don’t know about the weird policy the church has regarding whom they consider to be a member. Essentially, once you’ve been baptized they regard you as a member for life – it doesn’t matter whether you actually believe in any of their doctrine, attend service, or belong to any community. Once a member, always a member, like it or not.
There are only two ways to end your membership in the Roman Catholic Church (and, by the way, most other churches too): Through either excommunication or formal defection.

Why is this important?
So if you have ever been baptized, by default you should assume that you are a member. Now before I tell you how to put an end to that sorry state, let’s discuss what reasons there are for withdrawing your membership. It’s quite simple: As most of us live in democracies, the churches’ claim to power is the number of people it represents, or claims to represent. Large membership numbers give them a kind of we-are-the-people-authority. Ending your membership is the most direct and effective way of diminishing the churches political power.
You don’t need to be an atheist to withdraw your membership, either. I think even believers should consider quitting the church; it seems quite obvious to me that if there was a god, this corporation organization of child-molesting, genocidal, chauvinist virgins is probably the one organization furthest away from representing his views. The structural problems and the political agenda that organization has by far outweigh any possible benefits that being a member could possibly have – Read the bible if you must, follow Jesus if you like, but please maintain enough of a link to reality to understand that the “Holy See” is pretty much the definition of evil, that condoms are a good thing, that stem-cell research saves lives without harming anyone, and that a woman’s interest in determining the course of her own life exceeds the imaginary right of a small, unfeeling, unconscious clot of cells to survive. You are perfectly free to believe in a higher being, and worship it by whatever name, but you should be awake enough to realize that the church is a political organization that represents views that, throughout history, have clearly shown to be extremely damaging to society.
So now that established the reasons to end your membership, how do you go about it? As I’ve said before, there are two ways: Excommunication and formal defection. Let’s take a look at both.

Excommunication
It’s the unlikely option. Excommunication means that you do something so horrible that the church herself will take action to end your membership, or as they put it, “deprive you of the privileges of being a member”.
You may think that in an organization as conservative as the catholic church it should be pretty easy to shock them enough to kick you out, and you’d be wrong. As recent history has shown, being excommunicated turns out to be rather hard. Apparently, things like genocide or the molestation and rape of over 200 deaf boys just don’t seem to be enough. Covering up all those crimes doesn’t do the trick, either. Well, you might always try to do one of those really revolting, unforgivable things, like getting divorced. That worked pretty well back in the 16th century, but recently the church seems to be loosening up on that one.

Formal Defection
Formal defection definitely is the more workable solution. Write a letter to your local bishop or parish priest. Here is a beautiful example of what that might look like:

Cardinal Francis George
c/o Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611-2030

Declaration of Defection from the Roman Catholic Church

I, ——–, do hereby give formal notice of my defection from the Roman Catholic Church. I do not consider myself part of the church, and I have not attended or donated to any church since 2004. I do not believe in God, the divinity or resurrection of Jesus, the immaculate conception or assumption of Mary, or the Holy Ghost. I am an atheist and have been working to promote skepticism of religion since 2008.
I am especially repulsed by the church’s teachings regarding homosexuality. I reject the notion that homosexual desires or the expression of these desires are in any way sinful, disordered, or an “intrinsic moral evil.” On the contrary, the church’s continual mistreatment of gay people is the true moral evil at work here.

Make sure your defection gets noted in your baptismal register, though that should happen more or less automatically. Bureaucratic stuff like that is one area the church is actually good at. It might be of interest to you that defecting from the church does not actually undo your baptism. According to the laws of their weird twisted fantasy-land, the baptism is a mark that “is an ontological and permanent bond which is not lost by reason of any act or fact of defection”, meaning that although they recognize that you left the “earthly” organization of the RCC, they cannot change your underlying identity as a catholic, which results in your soul still being subject to all canon laws, whatever that means.
However, what the defection does  is stopping them to use you as a number in their statistic to justify their political power. And that makes it totally worth it.

PS: In some countries the process might be more complicated, namely when the state is involved in the administration of membership and church tax. I can’t tell you much about that, but I’m sure that in pretty much any country of this world there are secular organizations happy to provide you with all the information and help you might need. If you’re a German planning to leave the church, feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to help out or put you in touch with organizations that will.

Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate”: Uganda Made it Real

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Catholic Child Abuse: The Media are Understating the Situation

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There is a serious structural problem in the Roman Catholic Church, and I am tired of it being referred to as “the paedophilia problem” or “child rape”. Neither are the main problem here.
First, not many of the cases of sexual abuse do actually have anything to do with paedophilia. Children are often mere substitute-objects. The perpetrators aren’t necessarily paedophiles, they simply use children because they happen to be around, are easy to control and intimidate, and most importantly they don’t put up much of a fight.

  • Regressive Type: His primary sexual preference are adults, though he can be sexually aroused by children. Due to the easy availability of children, to nonsexual problems, and to problems with adult sex partners, he falls back on children to satisfy his sexual needs. One can speak of a substitute-object culprit [Ger.: Ersatzobjekttäter]
  • Fixated Type: His primary sexual preference are children. He can hardly or not at all be sexually aroused by adults. A classic paedophile.
  • Sociopathic Type: He is characterized by a lack of empathy for his victims and sometimes has sadistic tendencies. Sexuality is not used to satisfy sexual needs, but as a means of opression. This is also commonly called a sadistic type.

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