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The Wisdom of the Crowd

Alternative Ideas About Religion From Letters and Forums




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Visions


Surgeon Hutan Ashrafian suggests "visions" during epileptic seizures may have inspired the birth of monotheism in ancient Egypt (8 September, p 10). I feel hard done by.

Having developed adult-onset temporal lobe epilepsy years ago, which went undiagnosed for a long time, I had a religious experience during what I now know was a simple partial seizure. Far from being inspiring, mine was prosaic. While in my local pub, but not drunk, I was suddenly overcome with an incredibly intense feeling that God was present, and very scary it was too. God spoke to me, saying: "Dave, why are you worrying, you know I don't exist."

I was somewhat freaked out - simple partial seizures in the temporal lobe tend to be scary - but in hindsight I can laugh about it. However, I now wonder if the way in which such seizures manifest themselves as religious experiences are dictated by pre-existing views on spirituality.

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Your mention of pharaoh Akhenaten's possible epilepsy and its suggested link to religious conversion (8 September, p 10) may have a parallel in the biblical story of the Damascene conversion of Saul, who gave up persecuting Christians and became one of their primary advocates after he saw a heavenly light and heard a divine voice.

In a 1987 paper in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry (vol 50, p 659), D. Landsborough suggested that Saul, later known as Paul the Apostle, may have suffered from an attack of temporal lobe epilepsy, perhaps ending in a convulsion. The idea that profound religious experiences may be the result of acute illness is one that should be looked at from the position of the calming study of rational science.

Word of God


Further to your commentary about textbooks used under the Accelerated Christian Education programme (25 August), you should also note that the Biology 1099 edition misinforms its readers about the scientific method, claiming the only truly reliable method of scientific discovery is the "Word of God".

Answers In Genesis


Thomas Shipp defends Answers in Genesis from the accusation that it is intellectually dishonest (16 June, p 26). Specifically, he claims that they can reasonably reject "dubious" science-based statements about history, while accepting the science of what we can observe directly.

As Shipp is doubtless aware, Answers in Genesis claims that the universe did not exist until about 6000 years ago. As he is also doubtless aware, we can directly observe galaxies tens of millions of light years distant.

That is to say, we can directly observe events which occurred tens of millions of years ago. Answers in Genesis accepts that we can make such direct observations, but argues that the obvious deduction must be wrong - not because it is "dubious", but because it conflicts with Genesis, chapter 1.

The simple fact of the matter is that Answers in Genesis does not base its acceptance of science on whether or not it relates to direct observation. Any science which conflicts with its chosen ancient religious oral tradition is rejected. Any science which can be misrepresented or otherwise coerced into supporting the absurd fantasy that the Genesis creation myths are literal truth is loudly trumpeted as objective evidence.

This is the acme of intellectual dishonesty.

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I visited the Answers in Genesis website over a year ago, and concluded that its philosophical premise and raison d'etre is as follows: humans are fallible, God is not. Therefore the "Word of God" is the sole criterion for determining the validity of humanly proposed scientific theories and hypotheses.

The website provides for the submission of questions, with the request that the questions be serious and respectful.

I submitted the following question. From the time of Pythagoras, 2500 years ago, to the present day, could they provide just one example of a scientific discovery that had arisen from studying the scriptures? Strangely, the organisation never replied.

Conservative Beliefs


Ullrich Fischer's letter (16 June, p 33) makes the standard liberal error of supposing that for liberals and conservatives alike "the most important moral precepts are to avoid harming fellow humans and render aid to those in trouble". The evidence says otherwise. A survey of 132,000 people reported by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind shows that liberals value avoiding harm and unfairness much more than conservatives do. Conservatives value loyalty, authority and sanctity more.

You may disagree with the conservatives, as I do, but we will not be able to properly understand morality, politics or religion unless we recognise the full range of moral thinking.

Miracles


Though acting from a non-religious motivation, Sanal Edamaruku's exposure of the dud miracle in a church in India (30 June, p 27) advances an important Roman Catholic agenda.

The 25th session of the Council of Trent, one of a series of ecumenical meetings in the 16th century, defended the legitimate use of sacred images in teaching the faithful and encouraging devotion, but laid down that the veneration of such images must be purged of superstition and lucre. So I say, God bless Sanal Edamaruku.

The Decline of Religion


Graham Lawton presents some fascinating facts and theories about the advance of secularism (3 May, p 30).

Although his proposed explanations may all be true, his numbers imply a loss of about one billion believers in a decade - far more than could be explained by such gradual processes. This collapse must be explained by specific circumstances, and two immediately come to mind.

The first is child abuse in the Catholic church and the church's many attempts at covering up these crimes. The second is reflection on the pernicious effects of religion, prompted by the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

These evil acts have therefore accelerated their own remedy.

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The economic boom in Ireland may have fuelled atheism, but two other forces were also at play.

First, child abuse revelations relating to the clergy came thick and fast during this period. Second, while Ireland was under British rule, the services provided by the state existed mainly for the small British-leaning part of the population. The Catholic church gave Irish people an institution they could belong to that was a realistic alternative to the state.

The church was very strongly involved in education, health and local politics. Catholicism became synonymous with patriotism, and this gave the Catholic church a stronger role in everyday life than it would have had in a self-ruled country. This promoted religious belief and observance.

Wherever a population moves away from the official institutions of that society, an unofficial institution takes over, and religions are well positioned to take on this role. Atheism is kept at bay longer in such a society. In Ireland's case, secularism grew as foreign rule faded from memory.

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There are two other major factors driving decline in religiosity that Lawton did not mention. The internet has allowed people, especially young people, to access and discuss ideas and customs that are outside their own society.

In addition, the worldwide publicity of the New Atheist movement has made it much more socially acceptable to be identified as an atheist. Prior to this it was a derogatory term in many countries.

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It would be interesting to extend Lawton's excellent piece to consider belief in the supernatural as well as belief in god. As he says, while there is a decline in conventional religious belief, many people hold tightly to magical thinking, without seeking rational justification.

There is every need to apply scientific empiricism to the study of belief. After more than 30 years of counselling the victims of religious cults, I can say with certainty that critical, scientific thinking is the best way to overcome the delusions of supernaturalism.

This in no way devalues the ethical teachings of religions, but we should all be free to question, experiment and debate.

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There is an argument for a fifth type of atheism in addition to those you listed: utilitarian. This is a system that stimulates useful behaviours in a community.

The non-religious Sunday Assembly seems to fall into this category, and I submit that nearly all religion does when sensible people are given a chance to admit their doubts about supernatural overseers. Unfortunately, religion instils a fear that god is watching everything we do, so it is hard to get a straight answer to how many people harbour these doubts.

It will be interesting to see how the data changes when people start to think, "why bother with god when we have the NSA watching us constantly?"

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Sir, Tim Montgomerie is right to conclude that “our moral priorities are messed up” (“Amazing grace should teach us tolerance”, Opinion, July 2). However, if we really are in a post-Christian vacuum, trying to restore British values through “true Christianity” in a multicultural society inhabited by non-believers, and believers in a variety of different faiths, will not work.

What connects the stories of John Newton and Amazing Grace with Oskar Schindler, Sir Nicholas Winton (obituary, July 2), Dame Janet Vaughan and Leonard Berney is not necessarily religion but their devotion to values on which we can all agree.

Their actions were undoubtedly “Christian”, but true freedom of speech and religion will allow all believers and non-believers to work with mutual respect towards the values of amazing grace. We must, however, agree to work together.

Sir, Tim Montgomerie was right to recognise the power of Barack Obama’s singing of Amazing Grace at Emmanuel church in Charleston and to pay tribute to the Christian faith of those who supported the abolition of the slave trade. He was wrong, though, to imply that Christianity had anything to be proud of in the history of slavery. William Wilberforce faced determined opposition from much of the established church in this country in his campaigns for the abolition of the slave trade. Further, white churches in the American South gave their support wholeheartedly to the maintenance of slavery during the first half of the 19th century. It is to the credit of the freed slaves after the Civil War that they sought no retribution against the slave-owners and their apologists.

Sir, The idea that the erosion of religious privilege is turning us into an “anti-Christian” society is simply false. The shift towards secularism creates a more equal, tolerant, vibrant and pluralistic society in which the state leaves matters of faith, religion and belief to individuals.

Montgomerie says our “moral priorities are messed up” and prescribes “true Christianity” to get us back on track. Fortunately, the days of Christians being able to impose Christian values on others appear to be numbered. Rejoicing in that doesn’t make you any more “anti-Christian” than not wanting Islamic values imposed on you makes you “antiMuslim”. It just makes you a secularist.

Intolerance


Arthur Krueger needs to clarify his definitions of tolerance (22 March, p 31). Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot may well have been atheist but their brutality was not committed in the name of intolerant atheism. Contrary to what Krueger is implying, atheism is not a belief system: to call it so is tantamount to calling "not stamp collecting" a hobby. Kruger accuses Richard Dawkins of lacking tolerance of religion. But Dawkins is morally and intellectually correct in this, given the irrational, violent and destructive influence of religion.

And if Dawkins is intolerant, I do not see evidence that he has called for the execution, suppression, torture and punishment of those who are not atheists. His intolerance clearly has much less severe consequences for those who disagree with him than the intolerance of the majority of those who have faith.

Unfortunately, those with faith often do have the political power to act upon their views.

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Matthew Stevens, a "non-religionist", adds to the now trendy practice of bashing atheist Richard Dawkins by saying that religion, "has evolved by natural selection because of the benefits it confers on its practitioners" (8 February, p 31).

In Dawkins's defence, I'd say that to many of us he is a breath of fresh air, in a world whose history is strewn with cruelty, violence and mass murder perpetrated by religious practitioners. Did violent behaviour also evolve to benefit members of our species willing to engage in wars? The long process of civilisation is - or should be - about controlling the evolved beast in all of us.

Security Blanket


In his review of Ara Norenzayan's Big Gods: How religion transformed cooperation and conflict (28 September, p 52), Michael Bond wonders why the US, one of the most economically developed countries, is still among the most religious. This contrasts with the fact that the world's most secure countries tend to be the least religious.

As a systematic theologian, I have been fascinated by that very phenomenon and have a working hypothesis. This Suchard contention is that, in comparison with much of Europe, the US has an underdeveloped healthcare network and social security safety net, which leaves millions of citizens facing catastrophic illness and abject poverty. Such insecurity, either experienced or feared, means active religiosity and membership in a religious organisation proclaiming that God takes care of his own becomes an attractive source of immaterial comfort and hope, as well as often providing real and tangible material support.

If health and social programmes were implemented in the US to the same level of effectiveness and outcome as in much of Europe, religious society in the US would more closely resemble the unchurched Europeans. Obamacare - which seeks to widen healthcare provision - may provide us with a means of testing this hypothesis.

I am willing to predict that, if implemented in full, it will contribute, probably within one child-bearing generation, to the decrease in church attendance and literalist religious beliefs. European levels would be seen within half a century.

Computers as Gods


There was an interesting correlation between two articles in your 7 September issue. Biologist Russell Gray wants to use his tools for analysing the spread and evolution of languages to uncover what gods our ancestors believed in (p 32). One theory mentioned says complex social structures couldn't have developed without a belief in a moralising god or gods to keep cheats in check. In the very next article, Katia Moskvitch describes our surveillance society and computers that can automatically issue fines for misdemeanours such as speeding or being drunk in public (p 36). She then says awareness of such surveillance may well modify our behaviour. It would seem that, these days, computers are taking the role of the gods of old!

What Atheists Believe


Most atheists, including myself, say there is no god not because of whim but because in thousands of years of philosophising there has never been proof otherwise. True scientists would not accept such a major axiom without proof.

Also, we don't want to conquer anyone, as Wilson claims. People can believe any crazy thing they want. The atheist organisations that I belong to just want to keep religion out of the realm of government and stop the US from turning into a theocracy. Also, it would be nice if they paid their fair share of taxes.

Agnosticism is an untenable position and just shows that one is afraid of the word "atheist" because religions have denigrated it for centuries.

Having observed for myself how humans treat each other and the environment, if some god were to present itself, I might accept its existence but I would not worship it.

When I say I am an atheist, those with any religious belief will imagine it is their god that I don't subscribe to. But to quote Freddy Mercury, "I don't believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman". I don't believe in Zeus or Hera either. A believer in the Christian god who doesn't believe in, say, Shiva, is an atheist to a Hindu. If you accept someone else's belief in another god (this is called religious tolerance) then you are doubting your own belief - which makes you an agnostic.


Atheists Are Nasty, Particularly Dawkins

Dawkins is mild and quite predictable, he merely argues that science is the truth, an easy argument to make to any rational thinker.

This is a fine position to take when religious people are not trying to pass religious based laws. Then who cares what they waste their time on. But when they are trying to put prayer in schools to indoctrinate your children or pass laws to force their cave-man morals on everyone then they need to be vocally opposed.

I'm terribly sorry he hurts your poor widdle feewings by telling the truth in a curt manner and being short with you when you respond with "because magic" as your only evidence of his supposed inaccuracy.

I think the difference is that atheists tend to be much more willing to call someone out as a dick while still acknowledging they're one of their own. You rarely see "no true atheist" arguments, or that someone was the "wrong kind' of atheist in order to absolve themselves of any relation. I know PZ Myers is frustrated at all the misogyny in the atheist movement, but he never claims that misogynist atheists aren't "real" atheists, they're just dicks.

Christians are hypocrites, atheists not so much. Just don't try to define my beliefs for me or affect my life because of yours. Leave the kids out of it too. If what you believe is so obviously true then they will believe it after they pass the age of consent and are told it then. If what you believe is stupid then they will not. Test your faith...

I really don't get the hate for Dawkins. He is strident and opinionated but he is also rational, can back up what he says and usually his words are taken out of context to generate controversy where none exists if they were read in context.

Dawkins is an intellectual sitting close to the apex of a class-ridden society. His field is biology with an emphasis on evolution and genetics. I would be most surprised if he didn't come off as a touch arrogant. He's probably bored to his tits by the hordes bleating "Because Jesus!" when he makes rational arguments. I would hesitate to call him correct about all his opinions, but I have no doubt he's put in the study and hard work required to construct his logical arguments. This is more than one can say about theologians, who by definition build castles in swamps.

All of us know a "that guy" atheist with the chip on their shoulder who goes looking to engage in a battle of wits with the hapless Christians so they can demonstrate their intellectual superiority and smugly declare victory in some battle only they give a crap about. I've been a spectator to a few of those and all it ultimately winds up being is an exchange of cherry picked BIble quotes and "gotchas" versus a defense of supernatural concepts bolstered by little more than an immovable belief in what cannot be proven true or false.

While neither side of the argument holds much appeal for me, what makes me side against the Christians most of the time is their incessant need to have their beliefs turned into legislation that effects everyone because they feel their cause is morally justified by a man made book and a deity that has never been proven to actually exist. In their own way, the atheists represent freedom by advocating that nothing really change, whereas the Christians want everything to change to their worldview and see any rejection of their efforts as "persecution". They are afraid that the permissiveness of others, and ultimately the government who won't bend to their pressure, as angering the sky guy and that will make him destroy everything. Read up on the current waves of Christian Dominianism sometime. It will scare the fark out of you.

I don't think that it's unreasonable to suggest that people come up with better reasons for stopping two people from marrying or a woman from undergoing a medical procedure than 'this really old book that I believe to be literal truth even though there is no evidence to support any of it says so.'

I am sure that most rational unbelievers don’t spend much time agonising over their lack of interest in religion. They have better things to do than ask why a blasphemer has to be shot by a mere human. Surely an offended omnipotent being could turn them into a wastepaper bin or a pillar of salt – an effective deterrent, I should think.

Creationism

"God did it, I'm content with that, magic, poof, done, end of story." is anti-science and anti-intellectual. The Jesuit approach (mind you the current Pope has a chemistry degree) more along the lines of "God made it all happen, but let's find out exactly how this all works." is why they have so many prominent universities.

"The Earth is 6000 years old" isn't a belief, that's a false statement, and demonstrably so. "There is a grand creator" is a belief, a faith that even some great scientific minds hold.

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Even young earth creationists don't see science and religion in conflict, they just silently add the caveat that True ScienceTM supports the story in Genesis, and most biologists only accept evolution because top scientists are atheists who just want to deny God and have gay sex, and universities are hotbeds of godless secularism that perpetuate lies.

I used to be a Pentecostal. I used to attend services where people spoke in tongues, cast out demons, and people were miraculously healed. In my Pentecostal group were biology majors, PhD theoretical physicists, and very intelligent medicinal chemists. Most of them denied evolution, most of them denied climate change, and nearly all of them believed that demons were frequently responsible for people's bad behavior. The fact that they loved "science," and frequently practiced actual science (in a specific field) did not prevent them from holding anti-scientific beliefs.

Read any creationist book, and they'll pretty much tell you outright that science is great, that its real purpose is to learn about God's creation, and that real science will always glorify God. The idea that science is the best way to find out about the natural world is so entrenched in our culture that people don't denigrate science, they try to co-opt its legitimacy.

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Creationism has advanced far beyond "God did it, the Bible says it, and that's good enough for me." There's a whole cottage industry which has been built up to produce the "science" which proves that creationism is true, evolution is false, the Flood happened, and the Earth is only 6000 years old. So, of course that "science" isn't in conflict with their faith. That it's complete horseshiat doesn't seem to bother them.

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There are an awful lot of people who who accept the natural, scientific explanation for every material aspect of the universe... while still believing in a supernatural specialness to humanity. Whether it's in the form of "God gave us souls 6000 years ago, before that we were just smart animals" or "we evolved over millions of years, but God guided our evolution at crucial moments" or some other variation, these people believe that we are different in kind, not merely degree, than other animals.

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I went to a Catholic school growing up and we were taught all aspects of science including evolution and the big bang. We were taught that science was the how, religion was the why and they should not be combined.

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Natural selection is not "why". It's "how". It's an observation.

Organisms better suited to current conditions are more likely to live and reproduce.

I'd go even further: Natural selection is so obvious an observation it's practically a tautology, as highlighted by the way you phrased it here. And if you have selection, variation, and propagation, evolution is basically an inevitable conclusion.

Of course, that's where the scientific hard work begins. There are lots of possible mechanisms for variation and for propagation. For example, Lamarckian inheritance is a reasonable scientific proposal for how propagation might work (although it turns out to be wrong).

Another key scientific question is: for a given proposed mechanism of variation and propagation, would natural selection act rapidly enough to get us where we are today? And the answer is yes (which incidentally is why disbelief in evolution often goes hand in glove with YEC, because it requires a very old earth.)

So I guess in a sense somebody might semi-reasonably hold that they believe in evolution but not in natural selection. And of course this implies, as somebody stated upthread, that this implies they believe in some other kind of selection. And all they need to do to disprove natural selection, and prove their alternative of "guided" selection, of course, is provide an example of a circumstance where natural selection predicts that the fitter organism should thrive, but didn't, in a way inexplicable by natural selection. (We won't hold our breath waiting.) It's not as completely wacky as YEC, which is easily disproven by the physical evidence, even though it also happens to be wrong.

A lot of people, as it happens, do believe in some version of this kind of evolution -- mostly natural selection, but with a little bit of guided evolution at critical points along the path, particularly for humans.

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The thing is, you really don't have a single observation that "causes you to believe" that there is any explanation required for selection other than the natural one. You may think you do, but if you did, it would disprove natural selection and you'd be world famous.

Now, if you choose to believe that there is more to selection than natural selection I guess that's your prerogative, but its an entirely unnecessary belief, and about as useful as me believing that there's a unicorn in my garage, but only when nobody is looking. It adds no explanatory power, it closes no gap, it adds no knowledge. It's purely metaphysical baggage.

And by the way, none of this should have any bearing on your belief in God or otherwise. There's a name for such things: it's called the God of the Gaps, and it's not just bad science, it's bad theology -- so much so that it was derided in the 19th century not by scientists, but by theologians.

When Was The Crucifixion

However, it's interesting to note that there was a full lunar eclipse "blood moon" that rose over Jerusalem the exact evening (Passover) when Christ was crucified (April 6, 33AD). In fact, it was the third blood moon in the first "blood moon tetrad" (which we are now in the middle of) since the birth of Christ.

Except for the real Messiah died in 31CE. and there was darkness from noon till 3pm. Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. A blood moon 2 years later is irrelevant.

The crucifixion was on Wed. April 21, 34 AD. Newton was correct, except he said Friday. I think he said Friday to make the church folks happy so they wouldn't burn him at the stake.

Was Jesus An Astrologer?

No, looking to the heavens and reading the positions as somehow directing life on Earth is astrology. Astronomy is the study of astronomical objects. This article is nothing but astrology.

That means that Jesus was an astrologer since He mentioned in Matt 24 numerous signs that would occur in the stars, the moon, and the sun. And I guess that the Father must also be into astrology since He gave signs to John in Rev 13 regarding the sun, moon, and stars.

The Bible and Jesus talk about celestial objects turning red (not by an eclipse as that is not what an eclipse of the moon is) and the sun going dark (not by an eclipse as that is not what an eclipse of the sun is)

"The moon will be turned to blood" - a full lunar eclipse
"The sun will be turned to sackcloth" - a full solar eclipse.
Don't complicate it.

You can't have both a lunar and solar eclipse take place at the same time. If these two events take place at the same time there has to be another object. Wormwood anyone?

The moon never turns, "blood red," during a lunar eclipse. At best it turns an orange color. The sun never goes black but instead has a bright ring of light surrounding it.

Exorcisms

Is it just the lunatic fringe of Christianity that believes some people are possessed by demons, or is this a mainstream assumption?

God must be a real slacker if he can't keep the evil pets of his evil pet from infesting his beloved children. The modern church expects that you will believe that you are responsible to exercise God willed, moral self determination, while at the same time being available for hijack by wicked little invisible thingies which make you do bad things. And of course, it's all the will of God...it all is...it all has to be...they said so. It's all God's fault.

77% of Americans believe in angels, and where there're angels, there have to be demons, right? I guess if angels watch over you, demons hide your shoes and make the lights red when you're late. How come angels never possess people and make them really nice?

My next-door-neighbor's mom, who seems sane in all other respects, told my wife that she didn't like her daughter going to yoga because it was a gateway to demonic possession.

A Loving God?

You acknowledge the genocide and then seem to correlate the action to love. God literally tried to wash his hands of all the evil in the world by drowning it. One would not revel in the glorious love of any father or mother who drown their children for misbehaving, so why should we tolerate it from our "heavenly father"?

"There is a big difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. And that is that the New Testament God is really kind of a great guy. He is. Especially when you compare him to the Old Testament God ... who is a prick.

"I don't know what happened to God, you know, over time and how if matured, if he went to an anger management class. Or maybe just the birth of his son calmed him down.

"But before his had the kid ... HOLY F*CK ... he was out of control."

So Many Gods, So Many Religions

This doesn't even address my question of how you can reconcile that so many people from such a wide variety of religions can all claim the exact same religious experience while believing that their religion is the only true religion.

Atheism Isn't Necessarily Anti-Christian

Atheism is descriptive, not prescriptive. It's not something you apply in order to live your life, it's a conclusion you reach as a result of living your life.

It's not a lifestyle, it doesn't inform any moral outlook. It's simply a stance on supernatural claims, and either you're educated and rational enough to come to that conclusion or you're not.

For a lot of people who grow up with religion, they never question the tenets of the religion and have to start with actively questioning it. I know a few atheists that started with "If we're so sure our church is right, why doesn't everyone believe it?" There was an article I read about a pastor who decided to try to live as an atheist to see what would happen, and he was surprised when he realized that he didn't need religion to appreciate the world or be a good person.

Remember, atheism is a trait, not a coherent worldview. What's being promoted is some kind of humanism, but even that doesn't really describe things beyond "human problems, human solutions". But that still doesn't nail down much. How do we solve problems like hunger, pollution, economic things? Well, we agree that prayer isn't going to get shiat done. We can move forward from that point, and the debate is just as full of whargarble when the beers are down and the fiscal liberal and fiscal conservatives argue how things should be handled.

Still, when you've lived your life surrounded by theists and their precautionary tales about what atheists REALLY are, you have to investigate it to find out they're lying to you and that atheists don't worship Satan and make baby blood-sacrifices on demonic altars.

Atheism isn't something you convert to. It's not something you explore or taste-test to see "if you like it". It is not a belief, not a preference, not an ideology or a code of moral behavior. There is no curiosity. The only curiosity you should have is whether your own religion is correct or not (hint: it's not). Atheism does not compel anyone to leave their religion. Rather, their own religion's faults and failings compels them to leave it.

How Christians Think They Can Convert Atheists

According to WikiHow link

Why Are Atheists Angry?

Actually they're not. They think of your religion the same way you think about the Roman or Greek Gods - made up by humans and ineffectual.

People getting angry when they believe they have been lied to and not just lied to; that they may have built a substantial part of their life around that lie only to have it torn away and then that realization that you were manipulated into doing some pretty goddamn shiatty things to your fellow man because part of that lie was you were actually being a good person by treating another human being as less than human... Well it is completely natural in my opinion.

Anyone who claims to "know" either way is an idiot.

I know there's no proof or evidence of a god.

I'm perfectly happy with people believing in whatever they want. I never argue with god-botherers, and if someone says that they're going to pray for me, I say thank you. If someone want to say a prayer before a meal, I politely bow my head, but I don't say "amen" at the end. How is that angry?

Just keep your religion out of the public schools that I help fund, and keep religious doctrine out of law-making, and we'll all be happy.

I am...I'm angry we continue to let superstition have a voice. Religion/cults remain a clear path to manipulate the weak and desperate, to accept lies, and prop up really awful ideas.

I encourage atheists/agnostics to get a little pissed off, to start speaking out about religion more, to mock it, to make it socially unacceptable to spread lies. Stop giving people one more reason to discriminate against one another. Religion inherently creates an us vs them mentality, they will always find conflict. Abandoning superstition and living in a world of reason is a big piece of the puzzle to finding peace and equanimity, and a path to living together without being manipulated into picking up weapons and killing strangers.

Maybe it's because atheists are tired of theists trying to make them follow a set of rules that that not only do atheists not believe in, but that theists don't follow themselves. You can believe whatever you choose to believe... the problem is when you insist that I believe what you believe.

Maybe it's because atheists are tired of the selective adherence of theists to their holy books, cherry-picking only the parts that with discriminate, segregate and hate other people.

Maybe it's because atheists are tired of theists who simply can't leave other people alone to live their lives in peace so long as they are hurting no one else.

It's not what they believe that makes them pests, it's what they do to conform the rest of us to their beliefs that's the issue.

I went to a meeting of atheists here in Sacramento and people stood up to give confessionals and many of them were angry because they had friends and family members constantly breaking their balls and treating them like they've made this horrific decision with their lives. Personally, what frustrates me is how little religious people know about their own holy books, history, and the other religions of the world, yet they swear loyalty and treat others with disrespect for not following suit.

Saying "there is no God" is a reasonable statement, given the utter lack of any evidence to support the opposite position. Science says that you can assume things that are reasonable until someone shows that there is good evidence for the unlikely or previously unreasonable thing. Otherwise, science would be full of garaged invisible pink unicorns and we would never get nice things. Why do you hate nice things?

How far into space would we be by now if we didn't have religious authority burning scientists and theorists and logical thinkers at the stake through the ages?

Religion 'does' lie. Constantly. Religion never presents itself as a 'belief' system. It presents itself as THE TRUTH. And those who say otherwise are doomed to Hell and/or agents of evil.

We need the academic study of religion in public schools. Because without it the nutballs with their unexamined assumptions and unreflective language games fill the empty space with tautological statements and think they're some kind of intellectuals.

If God was ever proven to exist, I'd badger him until I got his email, personal phone number and address so I can properly harass him for the shiatty job he's done with this universe. To say nothing of giving him a piece of my mind for the shiat he lets happen on a daily basis. Of course, I'd also send him praise for the good stuff he does and encouragement that he can do better with the world if he'd just put a bit more effort into it.

Atheism isn't a choice, it's a realization. At least it was for me.

Atheism is simply a lack of belief in God, which doesn't require you to try to change anyone's mind.

Think of it like this - pick a sport that you don't give a flying fark about. Does it really matter what someone else's favorite team is? Would you spend any effort at all disputing their opinion? No. Because it's meaningless babble, you don't care what they think, and it's just silly to try to convince someone to share your lack of an opinion.

I'm not an angry atheist. I just look at religion as a product of humans, despite hundreds of thousands of years of learning, still being basically dumb apes. Hopefully we'll evolve out of it before the religious nutcases get us all killed in a nuclear war.

The understanding that science hasn't given us all the answers yet is not the same thing as a belief in the supernatural. I don't even believe in the concept of "supernaturalism", because everything that exists leaves some observable trace of it's existence, even if science hasn't developed the means to observe it as of yet.

"Supernatural" is a nonsense word anyway. Absolutely everything that has ever happened (a comet for example) that was considered supernatural has always proven itself to not be. Every single thing. Not to mention, if something happens in the universe, it is by definition natural. The word has no meaning ...like "spiritual" ...nonsense.

I don't think I've heard many 'joe shmo committed [insert horrible crime] in the name of furthering atheism today bc of his steadfast beliefs' but the opposite , at least semi regularly. Also, atheists rarely spend much time pushing school agendas or spending tax money on public installations of their (non)beliefs until some theist nutter forces the issue.

Evangelists

About 10 years ago, I was a fundie college kid involved in a group trying to save the world for Jesus. Sure, I had some nagging doubts, and some disagreements with other Christians about what we should emphasize or about what tactics we should use, but for the most part I believed in what we did. However, one of the things that really, profoundly bugged me about the way that my group (and others like us) operated was the abject mendacity that we'd employ when we were trying to evangelize.

See, while evangelicals are supposedly all about making converts, the fact of the matter is that most of them actually hate evangelism. It's scary. You're trying to find a way to broach the subject of salvation to another person who doesn't feel like they need what you're selling, and deep down you know that you'll probably just wind up annoying them. You're exposing a very vulnerable part of yourself to strangers or casual acquaintances, and you know that they're probably going to reject you for it. Most of the time, you'd probably rather just live and let live, but your pastor, all your friends, and the bible all tell you that evangelism is the most important duty of a believer, and if you don't at least try to tell people about Jesus, you possess some culpability if they don't get saved and wind up in hell. As such, despite what Christians say about how great it is that they get to tell people about Jesus, a huge amount of "witnessing" is motivated by straight-up guilt, and an evangelical can't even let on that he really doesn't want to do it because he'll seem like a bad Christian.

So, to make the act of evangelism a bit less intimidating to the average socially-awkward fundamentalist college student, my campus group would look really hard for techniques to approach people without a cold open along the lines of " do you want to hear about Jesus?" Sometimes, they'd be individual techniques. One of the ones I remember most is when we'd approach people in the student center and ask if they'd like to do a "survey." We'd walk them down a questionnaire, and about halfway through, it became blatantly obvious that the line of questioning was less about collecting information than about getting them to admit that they are okay with things that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Other times, we'd put on events that had relatively mundane descriptions but were straight up preaching sessions. One was an event called the "Veritas Forum," which was billed as a "discussion of philosophy and ethics," but consisted almost entirely of speakers talking about how evolution denies the possibility of morality and how atheism leads inevitably to nazism. Another was a "presentation on evolution vs. creationism" which consisted of a professor of food science from our university lecturing on how "no transitional fossils had ever been found," and basically forcing actual paleontologists in the audience who objected to shut up because he had the microphone. Finally, I did a little bit of volunteer work at a "Crisis Pregnancy Center," where they get pregnant women to come in by promising to help discuss "options," when the only actual "option" you're allowed to discuss was getting right with Jesus so he will stop you from getting an abortion.

As I said before, I believed in what I did. Any individual instance of dishonesty would be easy to write off as a few earnest but misguided people making mistakes, but after a few years, the pattern was obvious, and it really, really bugged me. Sure, we were never actually "lying," but I couldn't deny that we were being deceitful. We never tabulated the results of our questionnaires, so it wasn't really a "survey." There was no "dialogue" on philosophy. Helping women was not the main goal of the Crisis Pregnancy Centers. And moreover, it wasn't just my group, it was basically every evangelical group that I had contact with.

As such, all of this bullshiat in Louisiana does not surprise me at all. By the time an evangelical leader gets to a position of power like that, a little deception to evangelize without tipping people off or technically violating the rules becomes the norm rather than the exception, and by that time the witnessing usually doesn't scare them as much as the church rank-and-file, either.

I'm decidedly not religious anymore, and very rarely discuss religion with people in real life. However, I always wonder what I'd do if some sincere, bright-eyed college kid came up to me on a bad day with one of those bullshiat surveys. Then again, making them squirm while they explain to me why they're not technically lying might do them a lot of good in the long run...

Same-Sex Marriage

(Fark thread in response to Brietbart article claiming that religious people weren't really hating on the gays)

I think the problem people have is the religious right acts as if their right to religious beliefs supersedes every other right of every citizen, even the religious rights of those who believe differently. Your rights end when they interfere with mine.

I think it's more that people are farking sick of being told "You can't have the same rights as everyone else because it bothers people."

Do conservatives support policies that would deny gays of their Constitutionally-protected right to equal protection of the laws? That's really all I need to know about their views on that issue.

Because when conservatives say "hate" they mean standing up for the rights of people conservatives hate. And by "express an opinion" they mean attempt attacking people by organizing economic sanctions against them.

The reason people get so worked up is that you guys tried the exact same tactics against blacks during desegregation, and used the same arguments to try to defend it. The same phony "victim" shtick.

"Geez, people, when you point out that I'm being a subhuman piece of bigoted shiat it really interferes with my being a subhuman piece of bigoted shiat. Can't you just look the other way and be quiet while I go about being a subhuman piece of bigoted shiat?"

These are the same people who wanted to actually amend the Constitution in order to officially make gay citizens second class citizens in perpetuity. They are doomed to fail in the long run because at the end of the day gay isn't a choice but being a bigoted assholes with antiquated and immoral religious beliefs is.

Republicans have fought every effort to recognize any sort of civil union for same sex couples. Now they are furiously trying to back pedal to not come off as complete bigots while hoping people forget what they said 5 or 6 years ago.

Conservative Christians went to great lengths to make 100% sure there would be no civil unions possible in literally dozens of states. They're belatedly finding out they're on the wrong side and now they're trying to sell a narrative where they offered compromise all along and unreasonable people on the LGBT side refused. It's the textbook definition of carrying false witness, but it's for Jayzus, which makes it all right.

The loudest can apparently conceive of two roles for themselves: Victor or Martyr. And if they don't get to make the rules, they're Martyrs.

Must be why all of those super-Christian red states have been at the forefront of voting to legalize gay marriage. They'd probably be ready to offer "civil unions" now. Like a chess player who's lost both rooks and the queen, then offers a draw.

Consider Minnesota. When the Republican-controlled legislature put a marriage ban on the ballot, it failed, and the Democrats took over the legislature. When the new legislature moved to recognize same-sex marriage, a Republican legislator took the floor and gave a speech about how much SSM hurt her, and how all these things the gays want - hospital visitation, inheritance, you name it - could all be provided via other individual bills, and thus there was no need to take this "drastic" step.

Another legislator took the floor in response, and pointed out that in the previous legislative session, said first legislator had taken it upon herself to personally block hospital visitation legislation in committee. He pointed out that a civil union bill was on the table, and Republicans rejected it. He pointed out that an inheritance bill had been on the table, and Republicns rejected it. Insurance, what have you. Democrats brought forth those bills and the anti-SSM side went nuts over EVERY SINGLE ONE, forcing them all to be rejected. Even that humanitarian hospital visitation was a BRIDGE TOO FAR for those people.

So, he said, it was a bit disingenuous for her to take the stage and declare that she was FINE with all those things as long as it wasn't marriage. She and her party had their chance to push for those things when they were in control and they rejected them. The only difference now was that they were about to lose and doing anything in their power to cling to what they could. And so, no, he said. It's time for marriage.

Likewise, Brietbart, I'll believe all these nationwide Christians that have always been for equal rights as soon as they start advocating for ENDA, or make a public stand in favor of equal rights. Even a public stance of "Civil unions are good policy!", while still separate but equal, would at least prove your point. Few of those people exist because they DON'T believe that, and many of the ones that do are doing it as a last gasp against gay rights, or doing so to try and twist and pretzel themselves so they can later say "See, I wasn't totally against gays!" now that they see the public is much more accepting of them.

Gay people can be fired specifically for being gay. Gay couples can be denied visitation and property rights for being gay (which you would cheer over). Gay couples can be denied the chance to adopt for being gay (which you would cheer for even louder). None of these you specifically have any problem with, but if it happened for being a christian you would be leading the lynch mobs.

Right...you don't hate gays at all, you just don't want to let them get married, adopt children, have equal rights as couples, teach, or be treated as actual people. That's totally different.

What people think about the morality of homosexuality is besides the question and the constant red herring in the arguments. It's NOT RELEVANT. People you don't like have the same protection of law as everyone else. Your religion doesn't give anyone special dispensation to take those rights away. This is what the shallow conservative mind doesn't get.

For the millions of mouth-breathing asstards who actually believe this is the end of "The Republic" and the beginning of the rule of the dark prince or whatever, I think it's finally time for them to do what they've been threatening to do this whole time - leave the damn country. Go ahead and found your own third-world theocracy governed by evangelical sharia law. Don't expect to go to any first-world country, though - if you think America is liberal then any first-world country is going to be communisocialism times 10,0000. I don't care where you go, just STFU AND GTFO.

Once again America can pat itself on the back for taking the bold revolutionary step of doing exactly what lots of the developed world already does while half of it's population declares that it's going to destroy their nation.

Someone isn't reading Genesis 9 very well.

12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and [Noah] and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

God loves the gheys.

Duh. That's why He made so many of them. The real sin in Sodom and Gomorrah wasn't the ghey sexxin' but the poor hospitality of demanding visitors be thrown out to be raped. Rape is the real crime from that lesson. Folks miss the lesson that Yahweh is less about your sex habits than being just plain rude...

Well there's also that part about it being okay to pimp out your daughters to avoid some guys you just met from getting raped. Really, it's okay for your daughters getting raped as long as it meant some strangers you just met don't get touched.

You know, I think that's the scene that I found most unsettling in the entirety of Genesis. That it was assumed God would rather have a father hand his daughters over to a mob than to actually intervene (I mean, He did intervene later, but I can't really take Lot seriously as a moral arbiter after that).

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess food and prospreous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:49

"No homo", God whispered as he put man's g-spot in his butt.

These morans think that because the U.S. was the,whatever it was 40th(?), country to approve SSM, that NOW god gives a shiat.

What makes me happy is all that money the Mormon church, Chick-fil-A, etc. invested to stop the evil gheys from getting married, eventually went in vain.

Condensed Noah's Ark

God: You're all born with sin!
Man: Yeah, I did that.
God: The only thing that matters is your own salvation! The only way out is to grovel and worship
Slaves are okay! Put menstruating women in the shed! Hate gays! I am love!
Lucifer: You know what? fark this. You're a dick. I'm out.
God: Satan will try to tempt you! His domain is endless suffering! Live a devout, judgmental life and you will be rewarded by an eternity of praising meeee!!
Lucifer: ...
Man: Yeahhhh... *points at the reasonable dude in the sunglasses with the scotch* I'm gonna go with that guy.
God: *tsunami*

Papal Infallibility

Either A) You're Catholic, he's infallible, suck it up, or B) You're protestant, what he says doesn't matter (aside from the fact he's right).

No Catholic has thought the pope infallible for a long time.

The essential tenet of Catholicism is papal infallibility in matters of faith and dogma. If you don't believe in papal infallibility in matters of faith and dogma, you are not a Catholic. To call yourself a Catholic while denying papal infallibility in matters of faith and dogma would be like calling calling yourself a Christian, except you don't believe Christ was the son of God and you don't think the Bible is the word of God.

As always comes up when the word infallible is thrown around: He is NOT infallible in everything he does and says. The number of times a pope has spoken ex cathedra is certainly most limited - and perhaps fewer than a dozen times in the last 1000 years.

Papal infallibility is a little more complicated than do what the pope tells you to do. In fact, it's not something arbitrary which the pope can wake up one day and claim Ex cathedra (From the Chair of St-Peter) doctrines. In fact, the Synod of Bishop is the ecumenical council in control of the Catholic doctrine; the Pope simply being the chief of them (remember, the Pope is, in fact, just a Bishop)

Catholics are Christian. They aren't however, strict believers of the Scriptures, the way fundamentalists are, as they Believe the Holy Spirit to be the guiding light of the Catholic Church.

Assholes like Mel Gibson refuse to believe in Papal Infallibility because they prefer the way the Church was at the First Vatican Council and reject Vatican II when it declared the Jews not guilty of the deicide of Jesus.

That's one thing I never understood, Jesus had to die and seemingly had to die in the way he did for the whole thing to be worthwhile. Why get mad at Judas, the Romans or the Jews for something that was ordained by God to happen anyway?

Fratricide

spat between 2 religious groups in Arizona - 'Progressive' Christianity vs 'Traditional' Christianity

FTA 'It shows a basic flaw in Christianity in the United States: the conservatives don't believe the liberals are actual Christians, and the liberals think the conservatives are flaming judgmental assholes.'

In faith as as in politics, the nation seems to be growing ever more polarized along ideological lines. The net effect is roughly analogous to when campaign ads go negative: the base is kept strong and in line, but the majority of people say 'to hell with the both of you, I'm staying home.'


The intolerance between Christian sects is what helped convince the founding fathers that churches should duke it out amongst themselves without the government's support, which had enough disagreements of its own with Congress and 13 wayward states to keep in check.

It also makes it easy to see why prayer in public schools is a no-go. Otherwise, they'd be fighting over which prayer, and what if it included 'those other Christians'? Likewise, we can drop any notions of the US as a Christian nation. Which Christians? Ditto the culture war issues.

I actually find this encouraging. They're attacking because they're afraid. If progressive Christianity wasn't having an impact, the fundamentalists wouldn't waste their time on it. It's not like they have a shortage of enemies.

If the fundamentalists are going to put so much effort into selling the claim that America is a "Christian nation" and getting control of the political sphere, they certainly can't let anyone believe that "Christian" really includes "progressives." It's a sign of how thoroughly our public discourse has already been distorted that not being rabidly anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist and anti-science is now "progressive." It used to just be "sane."

Non-fundamentalist churches see an opportunity created by the fundamentalist public emphasis on the threats of gay marriage, abortion, and evolution - which tends to give outsiders the impression that fundamentalists don't care about anything else, and identify themselves by what they oppose. An outsider looking for Christian fellowship and looking to help out at some church-organized charitable effort (food pantry or homeless shelter or..) might not bother looking at the fundamentalist churches because these have boxed themselves in as the "church of NO".

"Progressive Christianity, fact or fiction?"

"That lets people know there's a choice out there, they don't have to deny science, they don't have to hate their gay neighbor, they don't have to read and take the bible in a way that causes them to abandon their rational mind.

jewish priests and scribes took the stories about gods of the seas, gods of the earth, and re-wrote them about the monotheistic god you trust now in 600BC. From 75AD to 500AD catholic priests took the story of a minor preacher (one of many) and wove in the dying/savior god stories of the past and wrote into history the Jesus you think will come back and save you. Since men created the god and savior you pray to, it's up to men to "recreate a more palatable god" that suits our population now after years of scientific discovery has decimated yours. If you give younger ppl the choice between your biblical way or no way, they will have to pick the later.

Beliefs

In his article on belief, Graham Lawton writes: "One of the most interesting things about belief is that it varies enormously from person to person, especially on issues that really matter such as politics and religion" (4 April, p28). My default "credulous brain" believes the premise that the formation of belief is an intuitive rather than a rational process and that deeply held, inflexible beliefs drive much conflict in the world.

It also strikes me that the enormous diversity of belief is a source of strength for our species, giving us flexibility, adaptability and options in coping with new challenges. The harm wreaked by fundamentalists and extremists is that they try to remove this diversity and impose uniformity, through moral imperatives, group interest and threatening violence towards dissidents.

I like to believe that by doing so they sow the seeds of the eventual destruction of the systems and societies they are trying to create, as they become unable to deal with new challenges that conflict with their rigid beliefs.

The distinction between belief and faith is more telling. We can believe in something when we have evidence for it. But faith is a belief in something without evidence, indeed often in the face of evidence.

Quibbling Over Agnostic/Atheist

Comments from E. O. Wilson (24 January, p 28) and subsequent letters on atheism, agnosticism and god all assume these terms have a well-defined meaning agreed by all. But they do not.

To me agnosticism is the insistence that it's wrong to pretend to know what you don't know, but to Chris Ford it's "the assertion that the existence of god is unprovable" (28 February, p 54). If we can't even know whether god exists, we certainly can't know what she may want of us, so our lives, beliefs and ethics must remain godless. Thus agnosticism necessarily implies godlessness - also known as atheism.

Chris Ford says that agnosticism is a more scientific position than atheism or theism (28 February, p 54). However, if someone told me there were fairies at the bottom of their garden, I wouldn't say that I was agnostic about it, simply that I didn't believe it.

Bigotry Against Gay Marriage

Bigotry against Christians is also bigotry.

It's not bigotry to defend yourself against centuries of marginalization and abuse by the Christian faith. Not all denominations support anti-LGB rhetoric, but those that do deserve to be called out. They should be dragged kicking and screaming into the public square and shown for the hateful bigots that they are.

I am 100% on board with Christians believing whatever they want. Go to church, bemoan the loss of prayer in school, by all means come to my door at 7 in the morning to share the Good news. I'll invite you in for coffee. There are millions of awesome Christians and by their God I like them.

Then there are the assholes. The assholes don't get to claim the persecution card when society finally starts pushing back against them. Actions have consequences, and I sincerely hope one of those consequences is that their flock abandons them in droves for a church that isn't helmed by a dick on legs.

And that's the thing: I have extraordinarily Christian housemates. Every two weeks there are huge meeting house gatherings in our barn, that draw over a hundred folks. They play music, they testify, they organize to help bring produce from the farm to various shelters and folks in trouble. They know I'm Buddhist, and they still invite me, and I'll admit I go in sometimes for the singing, because I like the music, and I'm a decent baritone. They have Bible study three times a week, and we sometimes get into conversations about the passages that they're poring over. They are amazingly giving, decent, kind individuals. These are folks who live their faith every day. And that faith is beautiful to behold, because it comes from a wellspring of compassion and kindness. It's not about "who do we hate on today" but "how can we help those around us." These aren't folks who are being persecuted, these aren't folks who see backlashes, because they're not being dicks about their faith. They aren't using their faith to defend being dicks to people. I don't share their faith, but I respect the Hells out of it, and in return, they respect my beliefs, and ask questions and want to know more about mine. I'm not being witnessed to, I'm not being pressured, we have a back and forth, and often find that we share a lot of commonalities in our respective practices.

OK, I'm gonna play Devil's Advocate here and go along with the whole "Being gay is a choice" premise here to make one observation: There is absolutely ZERO dispute about whether you choose a religion, or are "religious" at birth. Religion is most definitely a "choice", so I shouldn't have to cater to your choice. At least not if I use your "logic".

The Amazing Criswell predicts: Any movement unpopular with hardcore social conservatives will bring out the loud and batshiat crazy claiming to speak for God.

These guys had better start realizing that their bigotry is the reason why the millennials are turning away from Christianity in droves.

It's often pointed out that nobody is more obsessed with homosexuality than "straight" right wing "conservatives." They sure spend a lot of time thinking about what other men are doing with their dicks.

Biblical Literalism

To frame all this a bit differently, if you believe that the Bible is written by God himself (even though, by definition, God cannot have sexual attributes) then you will believe anything. The tragedy of Christianity is Biblio-idolatry which ignores God's real Word, what the theologian Matthew Fox called the "Cosmic Christ" (read him to find out more), and thus attracts the most ignorant and un-spiritual people in society that Jesus called "the Pharisees." Anyone somewhat familiar with the Gospels would know that Jesus would be utterly bewildered by the teachings and bizarre notions of the Christian right (past and present) who directly contradict many verses of the Bible both in the letter and the spirit of Jesus' teaching.

I would like to add that, if you place any credence in the Gospels, it becomes blatantly obvious that these right-wingers who claim to be "Christians" are nothing but fraudulent, lying posers. They are the exact same class of people- the monied, politically powerful, establishment CONSERVATIVES- who, back in the day, tortured Jesus to death for having the temerity to call BS on their greed, megalomania, and gross hypocrisy. So called "conservative Christians" are the exact antithesis of everything Jesus taught. And if Jesus showed up on the scene again today, espousing the same spiritual ideals, these same people who claim to be his followers would no doubt crucify him all over again. Jus' say'n...

Just as they would any ostensibly gay, bearded, brown-skinned man of apparent middle eastern origin. Particularly one who espouses all those wacky socialist ideas.

Jesus says nothing about race or slavery or sexism or sex or gay people. As for the rest of the Bible, hell, everything is condemned at one time or another in that book of contradictions. You can make an "essential" Christianity centered on the Gospels and take the rest with many grains of salt since the OT, for example, pretty much mirrors tribal taboos and myths (with a lot of interesting exceptions) and Paul's letters are a bit cranky. The Gospels, particularly the most authentic part of them are in accord with all other spiritual traditions in many ways: Buddhism, Vedanta, Taoism, Sufi-ism and some native traditions.

Anybody who interprets myth as literal truth is close to a simpleton. There are numerous creation myths, and many of them possess uncanny similarities. Anybody with a couple of functioning brain cells will immediately understands they are allegories. Children notice their plot holes at a very young age. The opportunistic TV pastors who babble this nonsense are either intellectual pygmies, or pandering to the imbecilic condition of their flocks.

Which brings obvious question to ask them - why is your creation story superior to any of the multitude of others?

Radical Islam

(Responses to a LT leader calling for moderate Muslims to challenge the radicals' propaganda)

As Jonathan Sacks says 'We have little choice but to re-examine the theology that leads to violent conflict in the first place'. A first step would be to rewrite the holy texts of all religions in a form consistent with civilised society and moral humanity; then have the moderate majority we hear so much about sign-up to the new texts. In their present form there's too much scope in some holy texts for the pursuance of evil in the name of religion.

Is it any surprise that entities like ISIS have occurred and reoccurred in history? Islam began as a warring religion. It's perfectly understandable for a proportion of Muslims to believe that Islma should always be at war against the unbeliever, until victorious.

The fact of these Fairy Stories is. They are all at odds with humanity.

I could quote you just as many intolerant messages from the Bible. The issue isn't the text of such religious books, it's the extent to which believers of a particular faith consider them to be the undisputed word of God, Allah and so forth.

There are quite significant differences between Christianity and Islam though that should not be glossed over. The most significant being the role model at the centre of these religions and the way they lived their lives; on one hand you have Jesus, and the other.... well, he has much to answer for.

I think, and you know perfectly well, that OP is talking about all the ridiculous rules which this religion imposes upon its followers regarding when and with whom they can have intimate relations.

Premarital sex is out, as are girlfriends, though that is more broken than observed by Muslim males, as long as the girlfriends aren't Muslims. They are surrounded by non Muslim females whom they are encouraged to despise, behaving and dressing in what they regard as an 'immoral' way, and of course they avail themselves of this tempatation, as it 'doesn't count as a sin' on the male's part, if the female is not Muslim.

But how many Muslim girls, being 'saved' for marriage, where their virginity is a saleable commodity, and vital to their brother's respect, face, and honour and standing in the 'community', how many of their sisters go out with males to whom they're not married? Er.. almost none? So sex for Muslims = men do what they like, women stay indoors and 'decent' until safely married off, when they still stay indoors and undercover, and 'respectable', so nobody can gossip about their behaviour.

And all this sacrifice and rules when the white and non Muslim population seem to be having a much better time of it and enjoying this life, and not bothering about the purely theoretical (ie non existent) next life. No wonder so many Muslims seem sour and jealous of western culture - they live among it, purposely despise it and partake when it suits them and they can get away with it. Cognitive dissonance, and lots of frustrated young males, who are literally damned if they 'do it' with Muslim females they're not married to, and in Syria, there's a shortage of non Muslim females to assault.

The Islamic position seems to be that God made a terrible mistake when he created men and women, making the latter so devilishly attractive and the former so pathetically weak-willed that all hell is bound to break out if they are not kept well apart. I suppose, however, that they wouldn't put it quite like this.

Protect children from religion until they are mentally capable of deciding for themselves. No teaching until 16. Hard to police yes, but so is the minimum age of sex. Or would the religious run scared as they know their numbers would diminish rapidly without indoctrinating innocent minds.

I don't disagree with you at all. The problem is that most parents don't want their children having sex until they're 16 (more like 30, depending on your mindset!). Religion is very different. Those with a strong inclination toward religion are likely to more vehemently pursue exposure of their children to religious ideologies (most commonly their own).

"No teaching until 16." So what will you teach the under 16s? And how do you know an upbringing without religion is truthful and healthy? Who says you are right to impose on your child your practical atheism? That is indoctrination too.

It is arrogant to claim that all who teach their children to be religious must be dangerous to children while those that withhold such teaching are, of course, right.

If a religion is true, and I believe faith in Jesus is true, then who are you to prevent me from teaching my child what is good and true? I don't wait till they are sixteen to decide if they want to brush their teeth. By then they will have rotten teeth. Neither do I wait till they are sixteen to decide if they want to believe in Jesus. I teach them what I believe is healthy for them. As they grow, they can decide what they want to believe.

Rel Right Meltdown Over Supreme Court Ruling Allowing Same-Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage could lead to civil war.

The SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage is not about the issue itself - it is about individual religious freedom and the imposition of the State's will against faith.

If ever a time the phrase 'Now the end begins' meant something, it is now.

In a decision just as sinister, far-reaching and abominable as the 1973 Roe v Wade decision on abortion, the Supreme Court of the United States has just declared that reality and biology no longer exist, and we can now declare marriage to be whatever we want it to be.

Judicial activism at its worst has once again struck America. Instead of allowing the American people to decide, five judges have decided for them, and have declared war on marriage, on God, on morality, on family, and on our children.

This is a declaration of war by five judges who have spat in the face of their Creator, of marriage, of biology, and freedom. Now a major proper response for Christians and others is massive civil disobedience and defiance of this homo-fascist decision.

This is a spiritual 9/11.

A group of armed neo-Confederate soldiers will launch a new Civil War in response to the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision. 'Surely the Confederates and the South will win this time,' Manning said. 'You are not going to push this sodomy.' Manning, who said that he will join these fighters, reported that the neo-Confederates will storm the Supreme Court and the White House, proudly flying the Stars and Bars over the Capitol. 'Now the nation must be rescued from the liberal God-haters and Constitution-haters and those that are pushing this sodomy agenda,' he continued. 'America will be rescued and the rescuers will be the Confederates, the Southerners, those that have been the blood-washed, Bible-believing, locked-and-loaded.'

I've dealt with Obama supporters, Obama lovers, Obama worshipers, I have never in my life encountered anybody has routinely evil as the sodomite. These are vicious people.

Gays will cheer. As they start throwing pastors in prison, you'll see who'll cheer them. Next we'll get the arena and the lions.

gay rights advocates pose a greater threat to the U.S. than ISIS since they plan to impose a version of 'gay Sharia' where Christians will be forced to pay a discriminatory jizya tax.

The Supreme Court's decision and the ensuing rainbow-flag projection on the White House all just confirm the Bible's reports of what will happen before the return of Christ.

This means that opinions expressed in favor for homosexuality and other deviancies (such as cannibalism), are worthy of capital punishment.

Staver agreed, urging listeners to 'abandon the public schools' because 'this is gonna be a flood of homosexual indoctrination, gender abolition indoctrination, sexual practice experimentation, risky behavior. All this is gonna come on them like a flood.' If you don't shield your kids from the flood of equality, Staver concluded, 'you're gonna lose your children.'

According to Wiles, the death of America has ushered in a new era for the country: the era of Babylon. He criticized the 'Babylonian pagans' - which is what he now calls American citizens - for rejecting the Lord's presence. Wiles, who will no longer say the pledge of allegiance or the phrase 'God Bless America,' warned listeners that 'there is no end to the sexual perversion this country has now opened itself to, the floodgates to sexual perversion - lewdness, sorcery, witchcraft and rebellion - opened wide last Friday.' He also cited a Russian MP who claimed that the U.S. will 'use military might and intimidation' to force other countries to accept same-sex marriage and spread its 'gay delirium.'

Satanists Taking The Piss

The Satanic Temple Asks Protestors To Sign Over Their Souls To Enter Their Latest Stunt

Here’s the full contents of the pact the folks in attendance would have signed before getting their pass: I agree that by signing this document under any name, given or adopted, actual or pseudonymous, I am hereby avowing my soul to Satan (aka Abbadon, aka Lucifer, aka Beelzebub, aka The Antichrist). I do so knowing that He (aka The Fallen One, aka The Father of Lies) or any of His representatives may choose to collect my eternal soul at any time, with or without notice. I understand that my signature or mark representing any name, real or made up, upon these papers constitutes a lasting and eternal contract, and that there will be no further negotiations on the matter of my eternal soul.

I enjoy making fundamentalist wing nuts froth at the mouth. But these guys are on another level.

Do I also get a donut if I sign it?

Watching the god botherers lurch through their last farking gasp has been comical but I can't wait until its over.

Can the devil draw up a contract so binding that even God can't break it?

Where's the pen?

I, state your name, agree by signing this............

What about playing pool? I used to play pool for souls when I was in the Navy. I won every time so I have, like, three extras. Can I bundle them for an afterlife upgrade?

Actually, the way they're organized might make them well-suited to fighting those battles. They're organized as a church in an attempt to weaponize religious-freedom laws - they don't believe in a literal Satan, but they *do* believe that spreading misinformation is morally wrong.

So when some picklefarker declares their religious freedom requires creationism be taught, TST can counter that their own religious freedom is violated by teaching creationism. Checkmate, theocrats.

What a horrible deal. I am not going to risk my soul unless there is a chance that I get a fiddle made of Gold.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist ..

The greatest hustle con-men ever pulled off (and are still running) is convincing the sheep of the world that the devil does exist.

To buy into Satanism is to buy into the whole Abrihamic Judaeo / Christian / Muslim dog and pony show. So, I consider these guys to be fools along with the rest of the lot.

These guys are very open and clear about the fact that they do not believe in an actual being called Satan. They are a group that is structured like a religion with humanist beliefs. They fight against the unconstitutional violations of the separation of church and state by insisting on fair representation in situations that tend to drive fundies epileptic. Like putting satan statues up beside the religious displays on public property. They have been pretty effective at accomplishing this goal and they are entertaining. So I say "Go satanists!"

"God" very well might be the bad guy. He lied to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, while the serpent only told them the truth. For someone who loves his children he sure is an asshole, from destroying cities, hell he even destroyed all but one family, to the outright torture of Job to prove a point. The God of the Bible is kind of a dick.

Aside from the fact that this is a useful example of why church and state should be separate, everybody needs fun now and then. Fact is people are stupid and need lots of different examples and lessons on why we don't have a theocracy in this country and wrote a constitution against it. Just explaining "science is science, your creationism is religion" isn't enough since people are stupid enough to think "intelligent design" is science and that the "wall of separation" is morally wrong because "religion din't never harm nobody, derp!" And this actually got people to do something, forced a debate instead of silently letting the jesus-mold spread across the public.

Dude, they took that bait so hard the hook is lodged in their asses. Reasonably rational Christians either got the point or didn't care, but the "'Murica is a Chrsitian nation!" fundies jumped on that shiat. Their worldview doesn't allow any other response.

Never heard of the Black Panther Strategy, have you? It's a very effective way to effect social change. Here's how it works: 1: Martin Luther King Jr. asks if it's too much to as that blacks be treated fairly and allowed to fully participate in the great American society. 2: White folks flip their shiat about some scary black man wanting to change the status quo. 3: The Black Panthers show up and start screaming "Death to whitey!" and show white folks what scary black men really look like. 4: White people suddenly think that MLK is a pretty reasonable guy.

See? You sometimes need the ones willing to go too far to make the reasonable ones look reasonable to those on the other side.

Jokes on satan when the gingers die and he ends up with a bunch of iou's.

I for one love the Baphomet statue, because this nation needs to celebrate our fine Satanic traditions. We are ranked incredibly low on education, we routinely bomb and maim innocent civilians for the greater good of profiteering, we destroy our own environment for the sake of convenience, we frequently go to Christian Churches yet hoard money and cast judgement, we permeate our nation with easily purchased weapons and sacrifice children to our Dark savior in clockwork like mass killings, we have politicians that openly endorse racism and rape, we exploit our own people out of a living wage and use a powerful law enforcement presence to destroy any dissent, and we brutalize the helpless and unarmed, judging by the regular police shootings of unarmed minorities and mentally disabled people, and above all else, we have scores of Christian "Leaders" who do nothing with their pulpits than consolidate power and amass personal wealth in the name of Salvation.

So, we, as a country, should really embrace our Satanic values, since they seem to have far more influence on our daily lives than Christian values ever did, or ever will.

Religion NEEDS to be marginalized and ridiculed, and if it takes some people with a big ol' satan statue to do it, well, those guys are doing god's work (lol).

We just seem to be debating the degree that faith can hand-wave away logic.

It looks deeper than that to me. Not just how much logic can be ignored in the name of faith, but who should be said to win when it happens. The folks on my side of it say that once you start ignoring things like independently verifiable facts and logic, you lose. Folks on the other side of it often seem to see it as winning when they can completely baffle us by completely leaving the world of facts and logic and instead just saying things that don't have any rational explanation.

Was in a restaurant recently seated next to a group of about 8 people who were openly, and rather loudly discussing their faith, Christian. The thing that struck me is they all agreed that the Bible shouldn't be taken literally and that some of the things in it simply don't pertain to modern life. Then they went on to list some of their personal gripes. They were each different. However everyone agreed that it was important to read and follow the Bible as it's word is final.

The thing is. It's either an infallible, absolute document, or it isn't. If it isn't, even in small part, then we should stop pretending that it's readers anything other than a work of fiction in their hands and treat them accordingly. Either remove their tax exempt status or give it to Stephen King as well.

I don't know, you don't seem to understand that it's an integral part of human society

No it is not. social interaction is an integral part of human society. religion is bullshiat created at first to explain the shiat human beings didn't understand (because humans can think and therefore wonder why) and then later used to control the masses. It outlived its usefulness to mankind about 200 years or so ago. Probably even longer.

Prosperity Gospel Churches

People have died giving money to these con artists instead of getting medical help.

It's the ultimate religious freedom. You die but your final thoughts are "I've paid for my ticket upstairs" and if ever you want to have a happy moment in life your final moment is not a bad time to have it.

The funny thing is ALL churches are like this. Theses guys are just pushing the limits.

But when you start down that path of preying on the weak and promising salvation....

So these guys buy jets, the other churches are the same they just aren't as flashy with their money. Some even do charitable work but at the end of the day they are still scamming people

They should all be taxed like clubs.

I understand the psychology. I have been up since 3am, because I woke up from a nightmare and couldn't stop worrying about debt and finding a job and paying the bills. You know what there is a lot of on TV at 3am? These preachers. Why? Because troubled, desperate people tend to not sleep very well. I'm not about to start sending carnies who hide in "religious" tax shelters anything, but I can see how it works on people. They're not terribly careful with their language in terms of making absurd promises, but every word is nonetheless calculated and targeted.

I really, really would love to see something happen to these people. Simply taxing them would be enough since they'd be so destroyed by the notion that they couldn't keep every penny to buy houses, cars, and planes with cash as often as they can now.

Lot of situational irony in that, since plenary indulgences were explicitly one of if not the major reason that the parent organizations of these con artists' religions split off from the mother Church in the first place.

Any decent Christian would see these "churches" as an attack on Christianity, I'd hope, and not be against taxing them on all the millions and millions of dollars they scam desperate people out of.

Decent Christians? Absolutely... But, all you need to do is look at the money these scam-artists are making to see how many supporters they have... If the IRS went after them, every rube sending them money would be up in arms shouting about how the fascist government is infringing on their religious freedoms... It wouldn't take much to convince the real churches that they might be next and get them and their members rallying behind them as well...

I'd love to see these farkers put out of business, but I'm just too cynical to believe it could ever possibly happen in today's America...

Religion Dying Out Amongst The Young

"Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenX'ers were at the same age," Twenge continued. "We also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today's adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all."

Compared to the late 1970s, twice as many 12th graders and college students never attend religious services, and 75 percent more 12th graders say religion is "not important at all" in their lives. Compared to the early 1980s, twice as many high school seniors and three times as many college students in the 2010s answered "none" when asked their religion.

Compared to the 1990s, 20 percent fewer college students described themselves as above average in spirituality, suggesting that religion has not been replaced with spirituality.


My mother was raised Catholic, but growing up we went to a Methodist church every Sunday (because the local Catholic Church refused to baptize me - mom didn't get her first marriage annulled). I wonder how many people aren't necessarily religious because of something similar to my situation. What I mean is, early on I learned that the religion my mother was/is didn't end up following her personal beliefs (that any child should be baptized if the family wants), so we simply chose a different but similar one to follow. To me that meant religion was more of a thing you could change whenever...like your jeans or socks.

How many 'believers' are actually people who would automatically answer that they are 'Christian' but in truth don't hold any, or any significant, religious beliefs or participate in any religious practices?

Even then, I would argue that people living by the Bible's moral code are less and less common. Biblical morality is very different from the cultural morality of 18-29 year olds. We don't like discrimination against homosexuals, we don't have a negative opinion about tattoos and birth control, and we aren't particularly pious or comfortable with gratuitous forms of worship.

In my opinion, most people call themselves Christians because they were raised in a household that identified as Christian. To them, "Christian" is little more than a demographic category that they belong to. Most of the people who identify as Christian don't live the lifestyle (it's virtually impossible to truly live the Christian lifestyle in a capitalist society, but I digress), and don't apply the teachings to their daily lives. The few who do are often ostracized as being bigoted or weird.

Why people believe is still a really under-researched area but a possible explanation for this is that people are generally safer and more trusting of secular institutions to protect them. Putting aside all the individual gripes you have with the government, overall, this is the safest time to be alive in human history.

One major theory of how "big Gods" came to be so prevalent is the supernatural punishment hypothesis. The two sentence version is that believing in a God that would punish wrongdoers allowed us to grow societies past the point where you could know everyone around you. This became necessary as agrarian society took hold and we couldn't monitor everyone to see if they do the right thing. There's all sorts of evidence for this idea - Ara Norenzayan, the biggest researcher in this area, has a book on it. Note that it doesn't mean that belief in God necessarily protects against negative behaviours, although some research does support that idea - link.

So, now that we have police and courts etc., we no longer need to believe in a God that will protect us from wrongdoers because secular institutions have supplanted it. But, when there's naturally occurring instability, belief in God goes up. Whether or not you trust the police personally, we live in the safest time in human history. That's just one piece of the literature but thought some of you may find it interesting. It's obviously a product of a wide range of factors including education, mass-communication and others.

Edit 1: Please note that I am giving you some background on one theory about one factor that seems to relate to belief in moralizing Gods appearing as societies grew above tribal size. I mention this theory because it has, in built, some explanation of part of why religious belief seems to be declining in safer countries. Please do not read this as me explaining all of religious belief. There are dozens of other theories of how and why religions developed.

I would think that religious intermarriage would be another symptom of decreasing religiousness. People who put more importance in their religion are going to want to raise their children the same way, so they'll want to marry partners of their own religion. But a two-religion marriage means that at least one of them values their relationship more than they value passing their religion on to their children.

I think it might be both a cause and a symptom. It's probably true that people willing to intermarry are probably less religious than those who are not. But I think it's also true that children exposed to multiple belief systems within the same household, espoused by two authority figures that they are supposed to trust and rely on equally, are more likely to think critically about religion. Rather than just assume "my parents are right," they have to think, "is mom right or is dad right?", and this also leads them to consider the possibility that neither is right. It worked that way for me. My dad was Methodist, my mom was Catholic. As a teenager, I had to choose which church to be confirmed in. Just having that choice led me to think more critically about what the churches were teaching than any of my friends in either confirmation class.

Another factor is that it's becoming less socially costly to be nonreligious, whereas in the recent past it could have caused someone to be ostracized, etc.

I think my generation (gen X) really rejected the primacy or importance of religion in culture and it's led to a rejection of religion, itself.

This right here. With all kinds of information/debunks available a click away, millennials are prone to believe in what they research or see, as opposed to family traditions or what they're told and so on. I don't know, I think the lack of easy-to-access information for previous generations might've made traditional religion more comfortable for them.

Ideas spread much faster now. You don't have to just trust elders or teachers or your small town newspaper or outdated library books to fact check and determine what to believe. Everyone has the power to seek truth, to question and to challenge long held beliefs and find new ideas. Motives based on fear, unwavering trust, and ignorance do not hold up well in this environment.

I was in an argument with a group of 5 or 6 people in their 30s about whether there was water anywhere else in the universe besides earth. They grew up being told earth is "unique" and nowhere else in the universe had water, I remember being told that by religious people numerous times as well. But even after I told them that an entire moon of Jupiter was mostly frozen water they said "that isn't true, I would have heard about that by now if they actually discovered water outside of earth". It was so frustrating but it made sense of the big announcement of "water discovered on Mars" recently, because still huge segments of the population still believe water is only on earth and nowhere else.

As a teenager, I can tell you why nobody believes in a god or gods anymore; it's not cool. God says you can't have sex, and we'd rather have sex than go to church, so...

I agree, there's actually a Study that shows the relationship between a persons intelligence and the chances they believe in a God. I hate to spoil it but yeah pretty much the higher your schooling/intelligence the less likely you are too believe in a God.

We have more things to keep us occupied than ever before, so I think there is less of a need for religion in our lives...

Our generation is the "show me" generation and I don't feel that we are satisfied with just the idea of a higher being, we need evidence to support it.

Don't forget the impact the internet has on socialization. Church was a major part of the social structure before the internet. For the younger generations that aspect is no longer quite as necessary as it used to be.

I think here in the south it was, for a very long time, more of a social thing than a religious thing. And having social networking to fill the void, it makes sense. You don't need a church group to bring you a casserole anymore when you're sick when you can ask for help on FB.

Atheism is mainly a luxury concept. How many people would survive, strive to be happy in the face of 3rd world hellscapes that many of the most devout people have to live in, if not for the belief in something better when they die, a reward. It's infinitely less motivating to live a life of total struggle with no chance of anything better if there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Agnosticism and the entire spectrum of non belief is really propelled by the total comfort and safety people have in the most advanced and wealthy nations.

That may also explain why citizens of Scandinavian countries are less religious in general. They tend to have more robust cradle-to-grave care by gov't than most other places.

"Freud regarded God as an illusion, based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure; religion, necessary to help us restrain violent impulses earlier in the development of civilization, can now be set aside in favor of reason and science."

I think access to the internet has changed so much of how the world thinks in terms of religion. Many people, before the internet and such a large sharing of ideas, didn't even know many religions out there existed. Nowadays with the knowledge that there are many other beliefs, I think a lot of people realize that their religion might not be the correct one, and then it just makes a lot of people question what they actually believe. Which I think is a really good thing, I think we always need to be constantly evaluating our situation. There is no book out there in the world that has all the answers, and that's the truth. But that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a god either.

Pastor here! I think there has been a fundamental shift that began with millennials on the way in which we establish our belief system/system of morality. It seems to me that the general opinion was "if it's true, then it works." This meant the church had to focus on telling people why their religion is true. Then a shift happened and millennials began to say, "if it works, then it's true." Show me a life that make sense and seems to fit in with what I want my life to ultimately look like...THEN you have permission to tell me your beliefs. So far, the vast majority of churches have not figured that out. They keep trying to convince people of their truths, as if that's going to sway people. No, what COULD sway people is living a life worthy of imitation. Only then do you have permission to share your truth.

This is straight up wrong. Pretty much everyone I know who is an atheist is because of the simple reason that there isn't any real evidence for God, a.k.a its not true. In fact my life probably would've "worked" a lot better had I simply continued to follow Christianity. Whether or not it works as something to base your life around doesn't even come into the conversation, increased quality of life based on an inaccurate belief doesn't make that belief accurate. The "shift" you're talking about is in the demographic more likely to become religious. Scientific progress means that people who are more logically driven and skeptical in nature are far less likely to come to the conclusion that God exists. The church trying to tell people that their religion is true became far less effective as a result. Which leaves people who are more interested in the way it impacts their personal well being, or as you put it "a life that makes sense and seems to fit in with what i want my life to ultimately look like". What you're saying is only accurate in the sense of church's trying to figure out the most effective way to get more people through the door. Live a life that looks appealing to other people, and maybe they'll end up with a lower standard of proof before accepting what you believe. Which seems to me a rather manipulative way of looking at things.

I know growing up all of those adults in "charge" of me throughout my life always said ask more questions. May be why I'm a scientist myself. Either way, I didn't stop believing in religion because of atheism or w/e, I stopped because I genuinely couldn't understand, none of my questions were answered, and only more appeared.

I think the internet has a huge role to play in this equation. I find that kids especially (ages 11ish to around 16) with internet access are able to anonymously communicate their frustration with religion to their like minded peers much, much more easily. This, in turn reinforces their doubts and it just becomes a self fulfilling project. My roommate for example grew up a home-schooled Christian with no internet access until he was around 14. He was super into it until he gained internet access which happened simultaneously to his declining faith. In my experience with the internet, the more you browse, the more atheist you become. 90% of Reddit users in my experience absolutely hate religion. I think it's because a) They grew up in a religious household and bottled up resentment to said religion and b) hating religion is (for lack of a better term) basically a meme. People do it because others do it and so on.

I think education has something to do with this. More people than ever are getting an education, and learning to think critically and learning things like the scientific method makes you question religion.

The long and short of it is studying psychology in college and reading Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, especially the section on logical fallacies. Without getting too long-winded, I've found religious belief relies very heavily on emotional appeals, confirmation bias, and anecdotes. You can Google any of that if you're unfamiliar with it. I'm not hostile towards religion, and I don't believe it's realistic or satisfying to try to persuade people otherwise. I just find it illogical but acknowledge it can also deeply enrichen someone's life and fill it with meaning.

Breaking news: humanity is quickly rejecting superstitions and folklore/fairytales.

Of course we're not religious. We grew up playing JRPGs about killing god, and being able to decide our own destiny.

Fake Abortion Clinics

Anti-Abortion groups that pose as false abortion clinics are fighting a new law that forces them to disclose to every patient that they have no doctors or licensing. They would also be forced to tell every patient that the state itself provides reproductive care for them if they choose so

I work at a women's health clinic now that provides birth control/STD testing/abortion services, and we see many women that have first been to these "crisis pregnancy centers." They are not marketed as "Christian prolife pregnancy centers" but as general places for women to go to to get a free pregnancy test and ultrasound. I am a Christian, and yes I work at a reproductive health clinic that offers as one of its services abortions. I work at my clinic versus a crisis pregnancy center because these centers lie to the women they see, and I (as a Christian) could never do that.

I have seen women come in with a pregnancy of 7 or 8 weeks and say that the people they met at the crisis pregnancy centers showed them the arms and legs and head of the baby on the ultrasound and said, "Oh my gosh! I think it might be a little girl!". At 7 to 8 weeks, the pregnancy is considered an embryo, not a fetus, and you cannot identify limbs or a head or anything like that on an ultrasound at that gestation, you can barely identify the yolk sac etc. The people at the crisis pregnancy centers tell people that abortion is unsafe, that it causes a lot of problems with pregnancies later on, that it causes major depression, and that most women never get over "killing their child."

The thing that bothers me most is that these Christian agencies are overtly lying to these patients, and telling them information that is contradictory to the large body of research that is out there. It saddens me to see these vulnerable women going into these centers for a free pregnancy test and coming out with all of this information. I am so glad that this law has been passed, and I hope it goes much further!

God this shit always pisses me the fuck off! Like, stop pressing your ideas on people through lies. If you need to resort to lying to convince somebody what you believe then you have a flawed belief system and need to educate yourself on what your talking about. I am pro-choice and accept that their are people that are pro-life, you should be able to have an opinion just don't lie about facts. I just have a strong belief that people should have more rights than a persons belief system. I'm all for religious freedom as long as it does not stop a persons individual rights and freedoms. America is supposed to be a progressive nation, but here lately it does not seem to be the case.

I was raised catholic so I know all about the woes of anything related to sex. Fortunately I didn't go to a catholic school (just CCD on Wednesdays) but public schools are still pretty bad with sex education. I mean not to the point where they will tell us we'll go to hell or what have you like in church but bad enough that I'm almost 21 and I have to look up things as well. Not that this is specifically related to abortion but, I think all teenagers should get good sex education about more than just the consequences. Abstinence only education offers no real help to young people today and we are basically left blind to get help from other clueless teenagers/college aged people. I feel like girls have it worse too because we've always got that fear of "Oh my god I could get pregnant", hell that's been instilled in me so much that when I'm slightly late, even if I haven't had sex, I jump to pregnancy. It's ridiculous.

I went to a Catholic school outside the US and we got a full and comprehensive sex ed. Birth control, STDs, the works. I really don't understand how they can do stuff like that in the US. Surely by providing false information the school is failing in their duty of care to their students?

Separate from the religion, and abortion/anti-abortion stuff, they seem to be running fake medical clinics. Fake medical care/advice is potentially deadly serious whether you're talking about a pregnancy, aches and pains or cosmetic stuff. We should have a set of laws that crack down on all fake medical services/ clinics/ practitioners because they can kill people. If you open a business that could be mistaken for the office of a licensed doctor performing cosmetic procedures, but in fact, you have no doctor or even licensed nurses that's dangerous and should be cracked down on. If you open a facility where a normal person would think that pregnant women could get medical care, but again, there is no doctor there, then that's a similar problem, should be illegal, and we should be active in finding and closing any such operations before they harm/kill people. If, on top of that, they are providing false medical information, like running fake medical exams/tests, that's all the more reason to find them and shut them down. Whether it's a fake ultrasound or injecting industrial silicone into someone's face, faking the practice of medicine should be rooted out and those doing is should go to jail for years.

I just can't believe that federal and state grants are being allocated to these fake medical centers and there is nothing to stop it because the elected government officials are pro-life conservatives who believe they are doing the right thing by "saving" babies.

I imagine they employ both tactics. If the woman is close to the cut off time then they might convince her that she has more time than she actually does to trick her into waiting too long. But if she still has a lot of time left then they might try to convince her that she's already past the cut off and hope she doesn't look further into it after they guilt her with fake pictures.

If you believed there was a nation-wide conspiracy going on to lie to the women of America (telling them their precious babies are just little gobs of goo) and get them to kill their infants, wouldn't you feel compelled to stop it? This infant slaughter is on the level of the holocaust, at least by the way it's defined for them. They have a moral imperative to save the innocent, because no one else will. When you say "stop pushing your morals on us," they laugh, because of course they will try to stop you from killing your own child. Society condones that in every other way, they're just taking it one step further and applying it to a fetus. Set up a false clinic? Sure. If the law says killing infants is okay, then the law is wrong, and they feel no need to operate inside of the law.

And I know that they get a bad rap for being stupid, or illogical, or ignoring science, but it really isn't as simple as just a bunch of barbarians with Bibles. The vast majority of these people were born into it, in the same way you were born outside of it. The amount of indoctrination you can do to a child is massive. If it had been done to you, there's a very good chance you would also believe that fetuses are infants with souls, no matter how much of an independent thinker you are.

And they can't just decide to believe that fetuses don't have the same life value as a toddler or an adult. A lot of the time we see individual religious beliefs as stupid, and think "Why don't they change that?" But they are intertwined, deeply. If they stop believing that fetuses have souls, then they have to stop believing in the Bible's perfect accuracy (which cites the moment of conception), they might doubt the ideas of souls in general (which is crucial to their faith). Getting them to stop viewing abortions as "infant-murder" is just about as difficult as getting them to lose their entire faith, because the two are so closely tied together.

Finally, Christians can bullshit all day long about the Old Testament, but Jesus was very clear that not a jot or tittle of the old law is to be changed. The is NO ambiguity around Matthew 5:18. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

The Christian argument goes that the law that Jesus talks about in Matthew is the "fulfilled version" of the law, or something like that. I do agree that the Bible requires a lot of interpretation in order to fit it into a cohesive, modern-compatible worldview. It's just, saying "Christians can bullshit all day but this shit is obvious" isn't really quite true to a Christian. They have a lot of very intelligent people spending a lot of time putting mental effort into logical-sounding explanations for things, which makes your position on their scriptures not obvious to them. I understand that it can look like Christians are simply extremely stupid. It also doesn't help that the beliefs they follow can be damaging and intolerant, and I know many of us - myself included - have been deeply hurt by their religious culture.

But vast swathes of the entire world used to buy into even stupider things. Sun gods, human sacrifices on the reg, rocks with spirits, etc. And everybody believed it because everyone around them believed it, and they didn't know better. Do you honestly believe that you, if born long ago into those cultures, would be the lone "atheist" who sees the light out of all those savages?

Probably not. Probably 99% of all of us here on reddit would be happily debating the specific emotions of the Sun God, and it's arrogant to think that you'd be the special one who wouldn't buy into it.

Our beliefs are massively due to our environment. It is by immense fortune that we were born into the scientific era, with education that helps us learn to think for ourselves, and it is easy to feel that we did it alone, because we get to look at smaller sects around us and realize, from afar, how dumb their beliefs seem. But we didn't do it alone. We are a product of our culture, and right now our culture is science. Christians are a product of their culture, which is faith. Call them dumb all you want, but you would be agreeing with them right now if you had been born one of them and sufficiently isolated from the outside world.

It's not extreme stupidity, just extreme ignorance.

Serious question: Did this faction of Christian fundamentalists only protest abortion clinics? I'm wondering if their view of being pro-life extended to being against the death penalty, and/or against military intervention that results in massive loss of life. Were those even discussed, or was abortion pretty much the only means of pro-life behavior from that group?

No, we also protested other things, but we usually protested the Mormons, and we never protested anything like death penalties or military interventions. I am aware of the hypocrisy now, but if I were answering you when I was Christian, I would have said something like, "Babies don't deserve to die. In wartime, however, we're killing in self defense, and that is permissible. And when we execute people, it's because they've committed heinous crimes and deserve to die. Babies aren't trying to kill us, and they haven't committed crimes, so we shouldn't kill them!" The Christian worldview is kind of childish in a way, because it divides the world into a great epic tale of black and white. There is Good, and there is Evil, and we are the Good: the chosen people of God, who Know the Truth, fighting His holy war. And there is Evil, the forces of Satan and Demons (literal demons crawling the earth invisible to us), trying to overturn God's Truth because they hate Him. There's no room for moral greyness. A fetus does not gradually become human - it either Is or Is Not. And we are 'Obviously Justified' to kill Muslims who bomb us, and we are 'Obviously Justified' when we execute men who have done horrible, unspeakable things.

To be honest I "tried Christianity" before, through my religious friend in high school. I attended Sunday sermons and tried my best to understand what was being told to me, but it just did not compute. I enjoyed my 6 months, but after awhile it felt wrong to keep going feeling so dumb. I didn't get it.

Yes, it's factually incorrect. There have been studies done on the topic and the vast majority of women report no feelings of regret, only relief. As far as depression goes, there is no evidence for a causative effect between getting an abortion and being treated for depression. Pro-life groups like to misinterpret overlap between the two items of medical history and go "look at all these depressed women that had abortions!"

I'm "pro-life" in the sense that I disagree with abortion but I've always ruffled feathers when I told people that trying to make abortion illegal won't solve the problem. Things like better access to healthcare, quality education, adoption services that actually work, childcare, and other real assistance will bring down the number of abortions that get carried out because women don't feel like they have any other choice. As far as abortions that women get for other personal reasons, that will always happen but it will happen whether it is legal or not. You can't dictate people's lives.

Husbands Own Their Wives Bodies

Christian website recommends men don't look at their wives during sex, especially if she resists their advances

The actual statements are much worse than the headline makes it out to be. The guy is an advocate for rape. Like, literally advocating that husbands rape their wives because they "own" their bodies. That taking a break from sex and rape is a "gift" to be begged for by their wives because the bible instructs them to be their husband's vessel. Eech. I thought Christian Domestic Discipline was as creepy as it got. (It's not BDSM when we do it - except we do it regardless of consent because Bible damnit!)

How much sex is this guy not getting that he needs to invent a biblical doctrine to justify banging his own wife against her will?

It's not about sex. It's about making the woman know that she is his property, and he can do whatever he wants with her, regardless of what she wants or consents to.

The joke's on them. My wife and I don't have sex!

Nice to see that the Fundie Xians are so much more enlightened in their attitudes towards women than, say, the tirbalists in India or far-right Mulslims. Oh, wait.....they're not. What a surprise. The primary purpose of the existence of organized religion in the first place is establishing a hierarchy for the populace in general and women in particular. The notion that the institutions of religion were created for any other purpose is extremely naive.

Of course she's unwilling. He hasn't reached twoplay, let alone foreplay.

"I'm sorry honey, but Larry Solomon said you have to wear this bag over your head because you're Medusa. The picture of Scarlett Johansson on the front is for my own gratification."

Their god is a Sadist. In nearly every single instance, their god requires maximum suffering on the part of humanity. Even god's own "son" was required to suffer needlessly, slow and long, upon an archaic device of torture and death, simply to "ransom" everybody from the rules inflicted upon everybody by his alleged "father". This is every bit as bad as Vlad the Impaler. Worse, when taken in context of a supposed deity.

God is rape?

Just ask Mary.

Soooo doggy style?

I'd say yes, that way you can both watch TV, and the kids seem to get a kick out of it.

Pocket Ninja: Everybody's going to jump all over this because of the whole "rape" angle, but the fact of the matter is that avoiding eye contact during sex can actually be healthy for both people involved. That allows both people to more easily fantasize about their partner being someone else -- which, in fact, is a very healthy activity for established couples to engage in, as it fosters a richly imaginative sexuality that exists within the established boundaries of a traditional marriage. So, instead of looking up into the face of her husband of 30 years, she can imagine that she's being taken by Lance Blackrod, an African-American who's abducted her and taken her back to his village as a prize to be shared with the raiding party he led. And he can imagine that he's on top of Phillip, the gardener. who despite years of declaring that he was not at all into anything anal has finally relented and allowed this one experiment. It's beautiful, really, the rich complexities and depth that this sort of fantasy play can bring to mature relationships.

Pocket Ninja, for example, thinks of Janet Reno during sex.

To be fair, who doesn't?

"I said celebrate, not celibate!"

I think I kind of understand what you're saying here, but could you elaborate a bit more about Phillip's decision to experiment and in what precise direction and to what precise degree he's willing to push his boundaries? Also, what does Phillip look like and what sorts of noises does he make when said experimentation is occurring?

I always wondered who wrote those letters to Penthouse. The letters I had heard about... from people studying media in college...

He's got a screechy little girl voice and she can't stand it. It's especially creepy because he moans like a little girl during sex.

Why do you know how little girls moan during sex?

Old Testament - Cliff Notes version:

Abraham: "Qualifications?"
God: "Rape, murder, arson, and rape."
Abraham: "You said rape twice."
God: "I like rape."
Moses: "He'll do."
Abraham: "Charming. Sign here."

"Unfortunately as you know(I think I have shared that with my audience, maybe not) I am one of those men who experiences "star fish" sex on a pretty regular basis. I am one of those many men out there that faces the two bad options you speak of on a daily and weekly basis"

WTF is "star fish sex"?

Just when I thought FARK was a hive of villainy, I was able to learn a new term "Starfish Sex"... Thanks :)

Yet he didn't mind that his wife worked full time as a nurse.

Worked? Is she dead now? That would explain the whole "starfish" thing...

Christians Opposed To Freedom of Religion

A group of Texas Christians protesting the opening of a "Church of Lucifer" says that the Satanist church violates their freedom of religion

Freedom of religion ≠ Freedom to be the only religion on the block.

To a lot of right wing christians that is exactly what 'freedom of religion' means - the freedom to be christian and nothing else.

The strongest enemy of Christianity is the Christians.

Well, at least they are not pretending anymore. They want to get rid of one of this country's founding principles.

Both the Church of Lucifer and Satanic Temple do not worship a supernatural devil figure, but instead follow tenets that resemble those of humanism.

It's funny that only one of the two groups believe in Satan, and it isn't the Satanists.

You know you have a weak position when differing beliefs threaten your faith.

I always wondered how they could keep "This is a Christian Nation" and "Freedom of Religion" in the same head without it exploding. Now I understand. They simply assume Christianity to be mandatory while limiting the 'freedom' part to fit within its bounds.

Damn right, lady, that's what you get. If YOU get to have freedom of religion, so does everyone else. That's the way it works. Like it or lump it.

The conservative Christian view of freedom of religion seems to only be their freedom to impose their personal religious beliefs onto others through the government. Which, of course, is the opposite of freedom of religion. However, this woman in the article seems to understand freedom of religion and is open about wanting to end that freedom.

I like the Australian perspective: "Thank God we got the convicts and they got the Puritans."

It's good to see they know what God wants when he and Jesus have explicitly said they the only ones allowed to judge people because it's in the job description.

I know a religious type who believes that the existence of things that are against her religion violates her freedom of religion rights. It violates her right to be free of these things and her right to not have her children exposed to these things. One of these is birth control, another is gay people. She actually believes that birth control being available available violates her right to religious freedom. So does a gay couple holding hands. Society needs to conform to her religious beliefs in order to not violate her freedom of religion. People who don't share her religious beliefs can't object, because her religion is the right one and it would be good for all of us to live according to her religious beliefs, because her religion wants what's best for everyone.

Opening up a church of Satan down in the land of armed, southern religious nut-jobs is kinda like playing Russian roulette , isn't it? How long can it be before jeebuz tells Cletus to use the holy AR-15 to smite the unrighteous?

Trolling the religious for the lulz doesn't exactly pop to mind when I think, "humanism."

The religious need to be trolled non stop so that their idiocy is exposed. The satanic temple are doing god's work.

Why Religion Is Dying

"Let me just tell you one of the myths that's out there," Forbes said. "It's easy for us to somehow just think that all of this just evolved because people on the internet, they're reading more and they're getting more intellectual and somehow or the other, it's like they've discovered the world isn't flat anymore and therefore we don't believe in God and we don't believe in faith."

"If I had the time, which I don't have, I could put up on this screen or on this screen or on both of them the proof that would show you this isn't some natural evolution, this is artificially driven," Forbes said. "I can show you organization after organization after organization to a network that would frighten you because it would be vast that you couldn't get it on that screen, of organizations that are funded and paid with a systematic approach to killing and destroying faith in America today."

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) outlined the conspiracy during a sermon last month at Great Bridge Baptist Church in his hometown, but he told congregants that he didn't have enough time to offer any evidence.


The lie here is that there is a massive yet totally secret Atheist-Jewish-Muslin conspiracy to destroy Christianity in the USA.

The reality is that we have Republican politicians preaching sermons in a deliberate non secret attempt to tear down the wall seperating Church and State.

They have so wedded their religious beliefs with their political beliefs that they are one and the same now.

The cruel social Darwinism of Republican economic policies are in direct contradiction with teachings from the bible but they don't seem to know or care.

Their Christian belief in bashing LGTB Americans and intrusive laws like anti abortion laws and rape wand legislation are in direct contradiction with the principle of small government that leaves the citizenry alone.

By attempting to be both conservatives and Christians they have failed both ideologies.

They say they are Christians and conservative but they are neither and both.

Need a new word to describe what this unholy hybrid actually is.

If God really cares about us believing more in Him, then God could all help us out and give us something more to go on than, "the Lord works in mysterious ways."

Allowing children to be born without skin or with their hearts outside of the bodies is pretty goddamn mysterious all righty.

Helping millionaires succeed in catching footballs in the end zone and winning Oscars instead of getting millions of poor people fed is also pretty head-scratching.

Destroying some poor schlub's house with a tornado and killing his wife and kids while protecting the guy's house across the street from him...also a strange methodology.

What messages are we to glean from these kind of events? "That God doesn't even know we exist" is the message I take from it.

Religion is a scam. I'm not sorry more and more people aren't falling for it anymore.

The lawmaker urged congregants to open their wallets.

And so sayeth the Lord "Let no rube goeth unfleeced".

We just want the secular government designated in the Constitution, not this mishmash of power hungry wannabe theocrats trying to enforce their personal biases through their interpretation of their religion.

Even if they got their way, I suspect they would soon start to bicker among themselves.... ( eg. Southern Baptist vs. Pentecostals vs. Assembly of God vs..)

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well...are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious." I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian." I said, "Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" He said, "Baptist!" I said,"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" He said, "Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" He said,"Reformed Baptist Church of God!" I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off. (Emo Phillips)

Perhaps he found some kind of document written by a conclave of aged atheists outlining these very plans, or protocols you might call them.



Mixing politics and religion is like mixing ice cream and poop. Might improve your poop a little, but it ruins your ice cream.

FTFA "Most people don't even realize it, and let me tell you, the dollars going into that organization is nine times the dollars going into the organizations trying to defend and protect faith in America," Forbes said.
If that's the case they are getting a lousy return on their investment.

What organization could possibly be receiving 9x the donations received by every church in this country?

the DoD? Israel?



There is no conspiracy to take down Christianity...And if there is such a being, the writings of those whose understanding is limited even by our standards would be a poor reference, even if we had immaculate, original texts to go off of, which we don't.

I wish there was a vast conspiracy to take down religion and faith in this country and I wish it would hurry up.

Guess what? IT'S YOU.

People are getting so damned sick of YOUR Operation Let's Cram Jebus Down Everyone's Throats At Gunpoint SH*T that they are leaving churches and walking the hell away from a faith that YOU have co-opted and befouled with YOUR deliberate corruptions.

If your religion compels you to be a hateful bigot, perhaps your religion should be "taken down" by society...

There is no conspiracy to take down Christianity. Much like there is no conspiracyt to take down the Boogie Man. As one grows up and becomes more sophisticated, so long as one is open to information that challenges one's beliefs, one normally gravitated towards discarding fables.

Now, this is not to say that there cannot be a creator or unifying spirit or whatever, but the form of such a being, or presence, or ineffable force is not going to conform to the imagining of primitives subsequently modified and codified for political purposes. A true eternal, all encompassing force would by definition be beyond the imagining of our limited brains and senses, much less our being able to divine such a beings wants, desires and motivations. And if there is such a being, the writings of those whose understanding is limited even by our standards would be a poor reference, even if we had immaculate, original texts to go off of, which we don't.

No, if there were such a creator, the clues to its ways would be found I'm creation itself. The ever more complex makeup of reality itself and the rules by which it operates. And our best, though imperfect tool for that is the scientific method.

There's no conspiracy. There's nothing secret about it. It's called secularism, it's been growing since the baby boomers were old enough to vote, and it's just now reaching a point where the "nones" (Those who select no religious preference) will matter politically in about another one-two decades.

For white, Christian conservatives this is truly the end times. Good riddance.

I still have faith, I just don't like religious organizations. To me they are all cults. They all ask the same thing: Believe everything we say. Give us most/all of your money. Do as we tell you.

don't care what particular theology people choose to believe in. It's the hypocrisy, the sanctimoniousness and the tyranny that bother me.

"Because Jesus" is a synonym for selfishness right now because Jesus always seems to want EXACTLY what they want. They will say it's the other way around, but it isn't. Jesus always is amazing malleable enough to want EXACTLY what they want, whether it is an AK-47 or success on the stock exchange. And this is exactly why people with actual critical thinking skills are getting fed up.

First, empirical observation has ever been made of any god by any person anywhere in the world at any time in history. Alternately, we have thousands of data points where humans invented gods and supernatural powers, which shows that humans are very good at that sort of thing, likely due to our very creative imagination. So basically, everything you think you know about whatever god-belief you have came from someone's imagination.

Second, atheism is merely the acknowledgment of the above, nothing more.

A big part of the problem is that there's no scale of punishment. Masturbate? Eternal damnation. Steal a car? Eternal damnation. Rape, kill, and eat babies? Eternal damnation. If you're already damned for the little stuff, no real reason not to go in on the big stuff.

Nativity and Public Religion

Nebraska Christians fail to reserve space outside of the State Capitol, learning they'll have to remove their nativity scene on 18 December because atheists rented the space through Christmas to display their own Nativity of Tolerance

Here is a news flash Christianity is not the state religion.

Hey all I am the one that reserved the space. In order for Lincon Atheists to have a display we needed another group to co-sponsor. Upon asking for co-sponsor we found several groups wanting to join. Before we knew it we needed the entire rotunda to be able to hold everyone. It's not that we wanted to specifically block anyone else, we just wanted our chance to be represented. Thomas Moore had their opportunity last year and still is getting to put it up this year, just not at the time they want. So please stop trying to play the persecution card. We even have groups sharing tables due to lack of available space. Thank you all that understand, as an atheist in a area that feels overwhelmingly christian it is nice to see this outcry of support from so many. truly warms my heart. Good. Let the people know that not everyone believes in the ancient fables and superstitions.

The birth of Jesus is an ancient fable?

Technically, yes. It's both ancient and a fable. The Bible -- a majority of which is likely fiction and fables -- includes a fearful and scary amount of violence wrought by the Christian (or Jewish) god AND Jesus. The Bible includes a lot of stories recorded centuries after they happened -- if they even happened -- which is an incredible amount of hearsay. It has been rewritten countless times through the millenia to suit the (supposedly Christian) authors (and rulers) of the day. People assembled the Bible for POLITICAL reasons. And you are wrong about why or how atheists exist. Atheists exist, for the most part, because they adhere to reason and science and not the supernatural, unproven and beliefs in the unknown.

Seems to me that the Thomas Moore Society should have made reserving this spot a higher priority if it's so important to them. There are a million private locations to display their nativity scenes and I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't really care either way. It's great to see Athiests finally feeling comfortable proudly expressing their views in public like Christians have been doing forever.

Maybe they could find a Barn somewhere? It would be like Homecoming!

I think, based on a particular view of first amendment rights, they simply assumed they would be accomodated. Now they find out how really frustrating it is to be excluded from the public square.

For FOUR years now us atheists have tried to get our display at the Capitol. Every year we were denied. This year we made sure to book it as early as possible so that we could FINALLY get a slot.

As an Evangelical, the fact that the Nativity will not be displayed on property that essentially belongs to all Nebraskans regardless of religious beliefs.....does not bother me. In this country we have religious freedom; and I treasure the rights I have to openly claim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Many others in this world do not share this freedom; I defend the rights of each person to choose their beliefs freely. As a Christian, this story is not important to me. Now the story about the young man who works at a local fastfood joint and is using his meager income to do the work of Jesus Christ........that is newsworthy as Christian. Let us not worry about a display that would be visible for only a few weeks a year. Lets concentrate on doing the work of Jesus Christ year round!

Believers in Jesus, let's not gnash our teeth and behave in the vexed way atheists hope we will--as if our symbols are our god. As if they can take our relationship with God away if they play power games. We know Whose we are. We know Who is the Power. He told us there would be conflicts between dark and light in this world. It's no surprise to Him. The 25th of December is an arbitrarily chosen date anyway. We devote ourselves to Him DAILY. Stay smooth, gracious, loving, compassionate. You are children of the King and this action, though meant to target, insult, and disrupt, does not change your position in Christ. This is bait we don't have to take.

So when atheists book space at the Capitol, that's an activity meant to "target, insult, and disrupt", but when Christians have the Nativity scene up there, that's just Christians demonstrating their faith. That's a huge sense of entitlement and hypocrisy you're showing there!

"This is bait we don't have to take." That is true. But note that the bait wasn't set by atheists. It was set by Christians who want to appear as martyrs. No atheist objects to nativity scenes in your own home, on your own private property, or on church property. Freedom of religion, you know? But that's never enough for the Christian Taliban. The Christian Taliban wants to force their religion on other people, and when the courts insist that government property, if it's open to such displays at all, must be open to EVERYONE,... well, then the Christian Taliban gets to act victimized. They expect to win, either way. You're right, you shouldn't take the bait. But please remember that it wasn't atheists who attempted to bait you.

It's about time. And until they understand Religion of any kind has NO place in politics... We will be there to Remove it! You have every right to have your beliefs. You however have No right to attempt to Govern with them.

Is any group more obnoxious than the current, atheist activists? Like an immature, petulant child, they seem out to destroy shared culture and the rights of others ... so they can have their way. Then the one who cravenly reserved the whole rotunda before Christmas, heaps insult upon insult by claiming it's not his fault ... he just needed it.

Atheists are challenging the Christian conceit that they are entitled to special rights; in this case, access to public spaces. Christians need to be reminded that they can practice whatever inanities they like in private churches and homes, but not outside of that. This is the positive point of the display, not the negative one that your blinkered viewpoint has led you to.

Atheism is a mass of individuals with a common thought process. They think alot, state the same mantra, and as we read here have a very common for lack of a better word 'belief' their way is superior to organized traditional religion. And how is it that the common ideology carries over not just by individuals but a mass of individuals sometimes assembled in actual groups that all have a common thought process on the issue.

"Common thought process"? Heh, heh. You don't know many atheists, do you? Atheists have no dogma, no holy books, no pope, no official priests, and no required beliefs. "Atheist" is just a label given to people who don't believe in gods. That's all. It tells you nothing about what we DO believe. That's because atheists don't share a common belief system. Sure, we tend to support freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. Why wouldn't we support the U.S. Constitution? At least, those of us who are Americans? Most of us support science, too.

"Atheism is NOT a religion"

Yes it is by definition.
Definition 1: A mass belief system usually with a diety. In the case of Atheism the deity is self or 'State'. So by definition you meet the criteria of a religion.
Definition 2 of a religion: a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. Again Atheism checks the box.
Definition 3: the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: Atheism check the box

By definition Atheism is not a religion because atheism is defined as the disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods and by definition a deity is a god.

To call atheism a religion is like calling "bald" a hair color.

Atheism isn't really an "ism". It's just a simple non-belief, as in tooth-fairy, etc.

" ... just an agreed upon mass belief system." Except there is no belief "system." Atheism is simply a lack of belief in deities. There are no rituals, traditions, rules, procedures, sacrifices, or anything else that a belief "system" entails. Every infant is born without a belief in a god or gods. The notion that they all somehow adhere to a belief "system" is absurd.

"In the case of Atheism the deity is self or 'State'." That is not the definition of atheism. I don't know what religious propaganda site you pulled that precious gem from, but the actual definition is quite simple. "Lack of belief in a god or gods". This shoots down 1, 2 and 3 of your definitions. By your convoluted definitions, atheism is a religion just as not playing basketball is a sport.

NOT having a religion is not like having a religion. Lack of belief in gods is not itself a belief. And we don't want "special" treatment- we want EQUAL treatment which is apparently just too damn hard for you Christians to comprehend. The government promoting religion by using religious phrases or iconography is NOT equal treatment for all, and it's unconstitutional. You want a theocracy, move to Iran.

If atheists are the sad and lonely ones, then why aren't we the ones with the imaginary friend to keep us company?

fyi those shooters at abortion clinics are NOT true Christians regardless of what they may claim. You can know a christian by their fruit or actions. Murdering people in cold blood is NOT the action of a spirit-filled christian.

I see how this works. When one of your fellow christians kills you get to claim he is not acting as a christian? You christians always go around (falsly) claiming the Hitler, Pol pot, stalin, etc killed because they were atheists. It cuts both ways - hitler wasn't acting as atheist, either.

Ahhh...yes, the "No True Scotsman" argument again. Man that one gets a workout from you guys.

Christians are the ones with the privilege. You have your God on our money. You have your God in our pledge. You have your God in our government influencing laws we have to live by. YOU are the one demanding special treatment and then getting up in arms when we simply want to be treated equally.

Crazy Preachers

Seriously, WTF. What is with Christians???

All religious are like this. I believe it's become a sort of mental illness. Once you believe something without any substantiation and refuse to alter that belief, you have to go to increasing levels of crazy to justify that belief in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Rational thought processes don't need impassioned crazy speeches because there's a logic roadmap that can easily be put on display either in a lecture or debate format. Faith doesn't allow for debate much less argumentation because "tis not ours to question." which gives the whole concept of faith a backdoor out of the debate they know they can't win.

When you break any faith down to it's core elements it becomes nothing more the a cacophony of tall tails littered with regional/historic moral lessons embedded in them. This is why I read my child books on things instead of fairy tales, she questions the real and plays in fantasy. Too many of her 5 - 6 year old classmates question the fantasy and shun reality already, it's rather frightening listening to them damn each other to hell.

All though mine giving a display of energy ceasing to flow to a machine causing it to no longer function as a display of death got me a very happy trip to the principals office.

"Sir we don't support mocking religions any more than preaching them."
"Did she say anything biologically incorrect, does the body stop working when it can't make energy out of food anymore?"
"Well she was 100% correct."
"I don't see a problem."

Very stumped principal. I did tell my kid she had to ask the teachers permission before using the classroom equipment as a visual aid, she turned off the teachers computer "There, no electricity, no life: it didn't go anywhere, it's off. People are exactly the same."

It sometime seems that other people are just as preoccupied with BS spouting Christians as the Christians are with whatever misguided social polemic they choose. I've lived in the Bible belt all my life and for the most part the entirety of it has been very easy to ignore or casually dismiss (except when it becomes a law). You've just been feeding and empowering the trolls all this time. Just my HO and personal experiences may differ.

It is pure propaganda, by constantly publicizing the actions of the craziest of the religious people it helps to spread the idea that all religious people are equally as crazy.

While this is isn't exactly true because religious delusions have a spectrum of severity like any other mental illness or disorder, it is an effective tactic. Anything that makes people not want to be associated with religions because of the negative connotations it carries is a net positive for humanity.

Are all religious people stupid? No Are all religious people bigoted against gays? No

But spreading these ideas as if they were true helps drive young people away from religion.

Try this simple experiment. Whenever a Christian is telling you or someone else that "God says you should...." or "God says that you shouldn't..." just replace the "God" with "I". Their ideas will still be batshiat crazy, but you'll understand their motivations more correctly.

The New Testament overrides all that was written in the Old Testament that is contradicted, except for the bits in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that speak ill of homosexuality, because fark the queers.

And in the new testament it's stated that every word of the old testament is still in place. Justify good, bad, or whatever... Religion can be used to justify anything because it's all essentially based in nothing.

Religious Rights

John H. Evans presents a survey showing that religious believers, who see humans as qualitatively separate from animals, have a greater regard for the rights of other humans (6 August, p 32). He does add the caveat that it was only about what people think instead of what they do.

The evidence of what happens in practice is rather different. In my lifetime I have seen Catholics and Protestants fighting in Northern Ireland, Orthodox and Catholic Christians committing atrocities on each other in the former Yugoslavia, Sunni and Shiite Muslims fighting to the death in Arabia, Christians and Muslims fighting a dirty war in Sudan and Buddhists persecuting Muslims in Myanmar.

The religious view of human rights does not in fact apply to humankind. It applies only to those of the same religious belief. Those of different religions stand back and denounce rights abuses, but those involved (with notable exceptions) do not.

For the record, I am a practising Christian who believes that all the evidence shows that differences between humans and other mammals are quantitative, not qualitative.

Unfiltered Info

Witch-hunting and was more or less exactly why the medieval Church did not want to let the idiot peasants interpret the Bible for themselves. Self-taught protestant zealots immediately elevated folk superstitions to religious terrors, and with the old hierarchies discredited, the emotion of the mob was all that was left to define truth. Hence we got pamphlets and tracts and woodcuttings and songsheets and zealots and reformers and witch-burners and Roundheads and Dissenters and Pilgrims and Puritans and Wars of Religion bathing Europe in God's Fire.

There's some pretty good comparisons to be made, I think, between the impact the printing press had on 16th/17th-century politics and the impact Twitter and the truth-detached blooper are having on modern politics. In both situations the old information gatekeepers were discredited, and in both the democratization of information flow stimulated debate while enabling closed information loops that allow absurdities to go unchallenged and permit atrocities to become normalized.

Demons Walk The Earth

Alex Jones floated the notion this week that Hillary Clinton is actually a demon, and 40% of Trump voters say that they really do think Clinton is a demon to only 42% who dismiss that idea.

40%. 40%? How can that possibly be? Sure, there are wankers like me out there who will happily lie to pollsters just to fark their data for a laugh but there couldn't possibly be that many of them. That is utterly terrifying. And even with Trump trailing in the polls the simple fact is that these people will still be running around being mind-bogglingly stupid after the election as well.

Also remember that to a lot of Americans, the universe is only ~5000 years old and that they really do believe in the Old Testament narrative of Genesis as the literal history of the world.

They believe in strict young-Earth creationism with all the various species of the world just popping into existence because God said so about 5000 years ago or so, and think that dinosaurs were still around until the flood (or until around Jesus's time, or something, they get fuzzy on when dinosaurs disappeared since the Bible doesn't mention them but it's hard to dispute the skeletons).

Many of these people really do think that the Biblical narrative in Revelations is literal prophecy and are just waiting for Jesus to come back and smite their enemies and take them all up to heaven any day now.

I've heard devout Christians tell me that's why it's blasphemy to look out for the environment: it shows a lack of faith because they know that Jesus will come any day now, so planning for decades/centuries ahead with environmentalism would show they doubt Jesus's return.

For these people who are basically already living in an elaborate fantasy world, the idea that Hillary Clinton, a person they've been conditioned to hate by right-wing media for almost a quarter-century now, is literally a demon, isn't a big stretch.

40% of 42% of the population is 16.8% That means that roughly 17 out of 100 adults there really thinks that. . .and that's scary, but sadly not a surprise.

Rationality and Atheism

I can easily believe that I am not always rational, as Graham Lawton suggests while discussing innate superstition (10 December 2016, p 29). I could even justify it if I wanted: after all, it is hard work considering an action from all angles all the time.

I can believe that sometimes the rational thing to do is to take the shortcut, go with your gut instinct and spend the time you've saved lying in a hammock.

However, I am pretty sure that I, and many others I know, are atheist to the core. As such I disagree with Lawton's statement that atheism is hard work and only skin deep. It seems to me that belief in a god has to be taught, and regularly reinforced.

I suggest that atheism is the 'natural' state for which no effort or education is required.

Rationality probably isn't a 'natural' state, and it may be that we are not always as rational as we would like to think, but being rational is not the same as being an atheist. I can be a rational or an irrational atheist, but I don't see how you can be a rational theist.

Blasphemy and Stephen Fry

While being interviewed on The Meaning of Life TV programme, Fry was asked what he would say to God if he had a chance.

"How dare you create a world in which there is such misery," Fry replied. "It's not our fault? It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"

Fry said if he met the Greek gods he would accept them quicker because, they didn’t present themselves as being all seeing, all wise, all beneficent.

"Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?"


In Pakistan blasphemy is still a contact sport, where dancing crowds get to stomp people to death, but Western nations are over it - right?

It's laughable that a modern and (somewhat) progressive country would still have a blasphemy law. Unfortunately since the Irish constitution mandates a blasphemy law, a referendum is needed to remove it. Fortunately the Irish government has plans to hold one, hopefully the voting public will make the correct decision.

This won't ever come to trial. The police or government have not instigated this and have zero interest in pursuing it. It would appear that an advocate for the removal of this ridiculous law has made the complaint and shrewdly fed the story to an enthusiastic media in a clever and welcome effort to expose the absurdity of its continued existence and embarrass the government into taking action to remove it where past campaigns have failed to do so.



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