Man has always required an explanation for all of those things in the world he did not understand. If an explanation was not available, he created one.
- Jim Crawford
Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar- pronounced- Easter, the assyrian and babylonian GODDESS of fertility and sex. Her symbols were and still are fertility and sex symbols. Easter was changed to represent jesus by the christian church
The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas
- Carl Sagan
Science is a philosophy of discovery. Intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance. You cannot build a program of discovery on the assumption that nobody is smart enough to figure out the answer to a problem. Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes. We know when and where they start. We know what drives them. We know what mitigates their destructive power. And anyone who has studied global warming can tell you what makes them worse. The only people who still call hurricanes
acts of God are the people who write insurance forms.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
“This last chapter .. may have given the impression that somehow man is the ultimate triumph of evolution, that all these millions of years of development have had no purpose other than to put him on earth. There is no scientific evidence whatever to support such a view and no reason to suppose that our stay here will be any more permanent than that of the dinosaur.”
- David Attenborough
“Thousands of people have written to tell me that I am wrong not to believe in God. The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. While we may want to ascribe this to human nature, it is clear that such hatred draws considerable support from the Bible. How do I know this? The most disturbed of my correspondents always cite chapter and verse.”
- Sam Harris
Catholicism is big on symbols and Pope Francis has certainly been hammering home the message of humility in his brief pontificate with his (hitherto unheard of) habit of making his own phone calls, his rejection of much of the pomp and ceremony that surrounds his 2,000-year-old office, and now his decision to ditch the grand papal apartments in favour of more modest quarters. But can a pope really be humble? Faith moves mountains, as my Christian Brother teachers used to like to remark, but here are seven peaks that “Father Jorge” is going to have to conquer.
His full title is “bishop of Rome, vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of St Peter, prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, patriarch of the west, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the Roman province, sovereign of the state of Vatican City”. It’s quite a moniker to carry round when you are busy telling people you are at their service. Humility hitch: *
Humility and infallibility are not natural bedfellows, and since 1870 the Roman pontiff is infallible in some matters of faith and morals. It is often assumed that the successors of St Peter were infallible from the start (though the favoured apostle did make his own howlers, as we recall in Holy Week, denying Jesus three times before the cock crowed), but this particular trapping of office was a late addition. Subsequent popes have only pressed the infallible button on one occasion – in 1950 to declare the Virgin Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven something that all the faithful must believe. Humility hitch: **
The head of the Catholic church is virtually the world’s last absolute monarch – ruling over his flock of 1.2 billion without the slightest nod at democracy, and governing the 109 acres of the secretive Vatican City state as a dictator. Humility hitch: ***
Though some have tried unconvincingly in recent years to present a chastened face to the world, bankers don’t tend to be big on humility, and the pope is de facto chair and chief shareholder of the Vatican bank, which trades under the misleading brand of the Institute for Religious Works. It has been a embroiled in scandal in the past, and is said once again to be in an almighty financial muddle to rival its Cypriot equivalents. Humility hitch: ***
Only the pope can say mass at the high altar of St Peter’s basilica, a vast palace of marble, gold and priceless artworks. He even has his own canopy – or baldachin – to stand under, designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini. The “I’m down with the poor” message that Francis is so keen to promote may just ring a bit hollow if he preaches it from such an opulent platform, but he can hardly turn his back on the mother church of world Catholicism. Humility hitch: ****
A burst of selling off of the Vatican’s treasures may sound very tempting indeed to demonstrate in deeds as well as words that the papacy is now a humbler institution. But chipping the frescoes of the Sistine chapel off the wall in order to flog them to a private collector in Beijing, Dubai or Moscow may prove tricky technically as well as emotionally, and if the storehouse of the Vatican museums is emptied, the revenues generated by visitors will tail off too. Humility hitch: ****
Does a humble pope really need his own honour guard? His namesake, Francis of Assisi, made do with birds and beasts. But to disband the colourfully dressed Swiss Guards, who have watched over every holder of the papacy since Julius II (1503–13), would throw the incumbents on the unemployment scrapheap (there are not many vacancies requiring familiarity with medieval weapons).
Well, I say that homosexuality is not just a form of Sex, it is a form of Love. And it deserves our respect for that Reason
- Christopher Hitchens
If you feel confident about the truth of your religion, you wouldn’t feel the compulsion to indoctrinate your children – you would teach them to reason and evaluate evidence, then allow them to decide the truth about your religion.
- Hammer the Gods
Listing the stupid things about Jehovah’s Witnesses was so much fun, I think I’ll start going door-to-door to do it in person!
“The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”
― Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation
There are many references concerning Fornication in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments – here are 10 from the New Testament.
FORNICATION – CONDEMNED BY PAUL
Fornication must have been a common activity among those early Christians!
1 Corinthians 5:1
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
1 Corinthians 6:13
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
1 Corinthians 7:2
Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
1 Corinthians 10:8
Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
2 Corinthians 12:21
And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
1 Thessalonians 4:3
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
“The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive … but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.”
― Mark Twain
The most detailed map yet of the afterglow of the Big Bang has been revealed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The cosmological chart has shed further light on when exactly the universe began, what it is made of and where it is going.
The 50-million pixel image, which gives a glimpse of the universe soon after the Big Bang, was created with data captured by the ESA’s Plank space telescope.
“This is a giant leap in the understanding of the origins of the universe,” the agency’s director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain told a press conference in Paris.
“What we are seeing is a picture of the microwave sky, a picture of the universe as it was 380,000 years after the Big Bang,” George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, told reporters.
Don’t debate with atheists if you haven’t read the bible
“every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. and, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. it really is the most poetic thing i know about physics: you are all stardust.”
― Lawrence M. Krauss
Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
- Douglas Adams
If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.
- Richard Dawkins
Great scientific minds, from Claudius Ptolemy of the second century to Isaac Newton of the seventeenth, invested their formidable intellects in attempts to deduce the nature of the universe from the statements and philosophies contained in religious writings…. Had any of these efforts worked, science and religion today might be one and the same. But they are not.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
It is not an accident that St. Thomas Aquinas thought heretics should be killed and that St. Augustine thought they should be tortured. (Ask yourself, what are the chances that these good doctors of the Church hadn’t read the New Testament closely enough to discover the error of their ways?) As a source of objective morality, the Bible is one of the worst books we have. It might be the very worst, in fact—if we didn’t also happen to have the Qur’an.
It is important to point out that we decide what is good in the Good Book. We read the Golden Rule and judge it to be a brilliant distillation of many of our ethical impulses; we read that a woman found not to be a virgin on her wedding night should be stoned to death, and we (if we are civilized) decide that this is the most vile lunacy imaginable. Our own ethical intuitions are, therefore, primary. So the choice before us is simple: we can either have a twenty-first-century conversation about ethics—availing ourselves of all the arguments and scientific insights that have accumulated in the last two thousand years of human discourse—or we can confine ourselves to a first-century conversation as it is preserved in the Bible.
Published on Feb 3, 2013
Reputation of the German Catholic Church have resulted in more and more worshippers turning their backs on it. Child abuse, sexual harassment cases committed by priests that don’t even get to court are seen as the main reason for dramatically shrinking congregations. You may find some of the details in Peter Oliver’s report disturbing.
I repeat, the lack of understanding of something is not evidence for God. It’s evidence of a lack of understanding. And what we should do, if we’re scientists, or anyone, is try and say, “Let’s try and understand it before we go the intellectually lazy route of saying, ‘I don’t understand it, so let me assign it to an entity that I can’t understand, a divine entity beyond my comprehension.’” If I did that—If we did that we wouldn’t be in this room today, we wouldn’t be seeing these images because none of modern science would have happened. Instead we try and understand how things work, and the way science works is if there is a physical effect, we look for a physical cause. And so far, there’s not a single place in the history of science where we’ve been, we’ve gotten to a point where we can’t explain something and we know for certain there’s no explanation. Every time something was—every explanation that’s remarkable is remarkable for that fact: it explains something we didn’t think we’d ever understand. That’s the beauty of science.
We on Earth have just awakened to the great oceans of space and time from which we have emerged. We are the legacy of 15 billion years of cosmic evolution. We have a choice: We can enhance life and come to know the universe that made us, or we can squander our 15 billion-year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first second of the next cosmic year depends on what we do, here and now, with our intelligence and our knowledge of the cosmos.
- Carl Sagan
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, its former leaderCardinal Roger Mahony and an ex-priest have agreed to pay a total of nearly $10 million to settle four child sex abuse cases brought against them, lawyers for the victims said on Tuesday.
Mahony, who retired in 2011 as head of the largest U.S. archdiocese and is now in Rome taking part in choosing a new pope, was accused of helping a confessed pedophile priest evade law enforcement by sending him out of state to a Church-run treatment center, then placing the priest back in the Los Angeles ministry.
The defrocked priest named in all four cases is Michael Baker, who ultimately was convicted in 2007 and sent to prison on 12 criminal counts of felony oral copulation with a minor involving two boys who reached a previous settlement with the Church.
The latest agreement came four weeks before civil suits brought by two men, now in their 20s, who claimed they were molested as 12-year-olds in the late 1990s, were scheduled to go to trial, plaintiff’s attorney Vince Finaldi said.
The two other newly settled cases are less recent. One dates to the late 1970s, before Mahony was archbishop, and the other to 1986, not long after he assumed the post, Finaldi said.
As part of the settlement, approved by a Los Angeles judge earlier this month, none of the parties admitted wrongdoing.
Finaldi said the settlement, together with the recent release of internal Church records documenting the role of Mahony and others in covering up child sexual abuse by the clergy, comes “as close to an admission of guilt as you’re going to get from the archdiocese.”
A lawyer for the archdiocese, Michael Hennigan, confirmed a settlement in the amount of $9.99 million was reached. He added that the archdiocese “has always taken the position that we were responsible for the conduct of Michael Baker.”
Mahony has “admitted that he made serious mistakes in putting Michael Baker back in the ministry,” Hennigan said, but he denied that archdiocese officials were involved in a coverup.
Clergy were not legally required under California law to report suspected child abuse to authorities until 1997. Prior to that, Hennigan said, the policy of the archdiocese was to urge families of victims to go to law enforcement on their own.
‘NO REASONABLE EXCUSE’
Finaldi, however, disputed the notion that Mahony should be absolved of any obligation to alert authorities.
“You have a priest who is confessing that he sexually molested two kids, and you don’t pick up the phone and call police? There’s no reasonable excuse for not doing that,” he said.
Scandals over sex abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church, which erupted in 1992 with a series of molestation cases uncovered in Boston, have cost the Church billions of dollars in settlements and driven prominent dioceses into bankruptcy.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims of child molestation, marking the biggest such agreement of its kind in the nation. Mahony at that time called the abuse “a terrible sin and crime.”
The archdiocese has reached a handful of settlements in other cases since then, but the one announced on Tuesday was by far the biggest, Finaldi added.
In a rare Church rebuke of a cardinal, Mahony was censured in late January by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, and stripped of all public and administrative duties, as punishment for his role in the sex abuse scandal.
The censure followed the public release of over 12,000 pages of confidential files unsealed as part of previous civil suits, revealing how numerous known or suspected pedophiles in the clergy were shielded from law enforcement scrutiny by Mahony and other Church officials.
But Mahony retained his title as cardinal and his right to take part in the Vatican conclave that selects a new pontiff to replace retired Pope Benedict XVI, an authority he chose to exercise.
The resignation of one of Mahony’s former top advisers, Thomas Curry, from his post as bishop of Santa Barbara was announced by the archdiocese in conjunction with the censure.
The Church personnel files released earlier this year revealed that in addition to sending abusive priests to a Church-run pedophile treatment center in New Mexico, Mahony and Curry sought to keep priests from later revealing their misconduct to private therapists who would have been obligated to report molestation to police.
In one such memo about Baker’s return to Los Angeles, Curry wrote to Mahony suggesting Baker avoid any mention of “his past problem” to a therapist after release from the Church treatment program, to which Mahony responded with the handwritten note: “Sounds good — please proceed!!”
Baker confessed his molestation of two boys to Mahony in 1986, early in Mahony’s tenure as archbishop. After six months in treatment, he was placed back in the ministry in the Los Angeles area, supposedly in a job precluding any contact with children, Finaldi said.
But according to Finaldi, Baker was assigned to a residence attached to a church that also operated a school.
A group of atheists led by Michael Newdow is suing the U.S. Treasury for putting “In God We Trust” on our money. Newdow, of course, famously and unsuccessfully fought to remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance nearly a decade ago.
The complaint (PDF) was filed last month in a New York district court by Newdow, his mother, the New York City Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, several families (with children), and several others. Defendants include the U.S. Congress and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
It’s freakishly long, too. 116 pages in all. And the plaintiffs’ stories… well, let’s just say the general public is going to have a hard time taking them seriously
A newly deciphered Egyptian text, dating back almost 1,200 years, tells part of the crucifixion story of Jesus with apocryphal plot twists, some of which have never been seen before.
Written in the Coptic language, the ancient text tells of Pontius Pilate, the judge who authorized Jesus’ crucifixion, having dinner with Jesus before his crucifixion and offering to sacrifice his own son in the place of Jesus. It also explains why Judas used a kiss, specifically, to betray Jesus — because Jesus had the ability to change shape, according to the text — and it puts the day of the arrest of Jesus on Tuesday evening rather than Thursday evening, something that contravenes the Easter timeline.
The discovery of the text doesn’t mean these events happened, but rather that some people living at the time appear to have believed in them, said Roelof van den Broek, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who published the translation in the book “Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem on the Life and the Passion of Christ”(Brill, 2013).
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires, has been elected to be the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, taking the name Pope Francis.
Francis was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings with a total of five ballots cast. Voting in the conclave, which began Tuesday afternoon, is confidential and cardinals were sworn to secrecy, but Francis received at least 77 votes, which is the minimum two-thirds required to become pope. There were 115 cardinals eligible to vote in the conclave. All were under 80 before Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s retirement, as required by Vatican rules. In 2005, when Benedict was elected, it took two days and four votes to elect him.
Francis, whose papacy is effective immediately, will be formally installed in the coming days. It’s unclear when the installation Mass will happen, but Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi said earlier on Wednesday that Tuesday, March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, is a possible date. He spoke before white smoke signalled news of a new pope, and it was unclear if he expected a decision on Wednesday. Lombardi also said in the same interview that the new pope would likely celebrate Mass with cardinals the morning after his election.
The date of a papal installation typically begins visit with cardinals to the grottos of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the first pope, St. Peter, is said to be buried. There, the new pope is expected to say, “I leave from where the apostle arrived” before a procession to the square and an installation Mass (the Mass lasted two hours for Benedict’s installation in 2005).
At the installation Mass, Francis is expected to receive the Fisherman’s Ring made for his papacy (the one Benedict wore was given up when he retired on Feb. 28 and purposefully damaged by Vatican authorities per tradition) as well as the pallium, the woolen stole that’s a symbol of his authority.
When Benedict was elected, 12 church representatives knelt in front of him at the installation: three cardinals, one bishop, a priest, a deacon, a married couple, a nun and man from a religious order, and two young people who have had their confirmations — a key sacrament of the faith. A similar group is expected to kneel in front of Francis as a symbolic pledge of obedience.
After the Mass, the new pope customarily is driven around St. Peter’s Square to greet groups of priests and laypeople from around the world who have come to see him. In the days after, he is expected to visit the three main Roman basilicas aside from St. Peter’s: St. Paul’s, St. John Lateran’s and St. Mary Major’s. The first visit is usually to St. Paul — outside the Vatican City walls.
For his first few weeks as pope, Francis will live in a temporary apartment away from the official papal residence. Vatican spokesman Lombardi previously showed reporters a video of new pope’s short-term home, which has a study, a sitting area and a carving of Jesus Christ’s face on the headboard of the bed. Francis will stay there while the official papal apartment is renovated. The apartment was sealed after Benedict’s resignation and church rules say it can’t be reopened for any reason until there is a new pope.
Argentine Is 266th Pope Pope elected by Catholic cardinals locked in Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Argentina’s Cardinal Bergoglio Is The New Pope; He Will Be ‘Francis I’ Cardinal Bergoglio elected Pope Francis after two days of conclave
John Brennan’s swearing-in ceremony as director of the CIA has angered conservatives over Brennan’s decision to take the oath by placing his hand on the Constitution and not the Bible, as most most politicians do. During a private ceremony in the Roosevelt Room, Vice President Joe Biden swore Brennan in with his right hand raised and left hand placed “on an original draft of the Constitution that had George Washington’s personal handwriting and annotations on it, dating from 1787,” according to White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, as he told reporters at their daily briefing.
“Director Brennan told the president that he made the request to the archives because he wanted to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law as he took the oath of office as director of the CIA,” Earnest elaborated.
VATICAN CITY — With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday. The name of the new pope, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, by tradition would not be revealed until he appeared on a balcony on the front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Benedict abruptly ended his troubled eight-year papacy last month, announcing he was no longer up to the rigors of the job. He became the first pontiff in 598 years to resign. The 115 cardinals who are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote chose their new leader after two days of voting.
Before beginning the voting by secret ballot in the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday, in a cloistered meeting known as a conclave, the cardinals swore an oath of secrecy in Latin, a rite designed to protect deliberations from outside scrutiny — and to protect cardinals from earthly influence as they seek divine guidance.
The conclave followed more than a week of intense, broader discussions among the world’s cardinals where they discussed the problems facing the church and their criteria for its next leader.
“We spoke among ourselves in an exceptional and free way, with great truth, about the lights, but also about shadows in the current situation of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, a theologian known for his intellect and his pastoral touch, told reporters earlier this week.
“The pope’s election is something substantially different from a political election,” Cardinal Schönborn said, adding that the role was not “the chief executive of a multinational company, but the spiritual head of a community of believers.”
Indeed, Benedict was selected in 2005 as a caretaker after the momentous papacy of John Paul II, but the shy theologian appeared to show little inclination toward management. His papacy suffered from crises of communications — with Muslims, Jews and Anglicans — that, along with a sex abuse crisis that raged back to life in Europe in 2010, evolved into a crisis of governance.
Critics of Benedict’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said he had difficulties in running the Vatican and appeared more interested in the Vatican’s ties to Italy than to the rest of the world. The Vatican is deeply concerned about the fate of Christians in the war-torn Middle East.
The new pope will also inherit power struggles over the management of the Vatican bank, which must continue a process of meeting international transparency standards or risk being shut out of the mainstream international banking system. In one of his final acts as pope, Benedict appointed a German aristocrat, Ernst von Freyberg, as the bank’s new president.
He will have to help make the Vatican bureaucracy — often seen as a hornet’s nest of infighting Italians — work more efficiently for the good of the church. After years in which Benedict and John Paul helped consolidate more power at the top, many liberal Catholics also hope that the next pope will also give local bishops’ conferences more decision-making power to help respond to the needs of the faithful.
The reform of the Roman Curia, which runs the Vatican, “is not conceptually hard, it’s hard on a political front but it will take five minutes for someone who has the strength. You get rid of the spoil system and that’s it,” said Alberto Melloni, the author of numerous books on the Vatican and the Second Vatican Council. The hard things are “if you want a permanent consultation of bishops’ conferences,” he added.
For Mr. Melloni, foreign policy and the church’s vision of Asia would be crucial to the next pope. “If Roman Catholicism was capable of learning Greek while it was speaking Aramaic, of learning Celtic while it was speaking Latin, now it either has to learn Chinese or ‘ciao,’” he said, using the Italian world for “goodbye.”
Ahead of the election of a new pope, cardinals said they were looking for “a pope that understands the problems of the Church at present” and who is strong enough to tackle them, said Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the archbishop emeritus of Prague who participated in the general congregations but was not eligible to vote in a conclave.
He said those problems included reforming the Roman Curia, handling the pedophilia crisis and cleaning up the Vatican bank, which has been working to meet international transparency standards.
“He needs to be capable of solving these issues,” Cardinal Vlk said as he walked near the Vatican this week, adding that the next pope needs “to be open to the world, to the troubles of the world, to society, because evangeli ation is a primary task, to bring the Gospel to people.”
The sex abuse crisis remains a troubling issue for the church, especially in English-speaking countries where victims sued dioceses found to have moved around abusive priests.
On Wednesday, news reports in California showed that one cardinal elector, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, the diocese and an ex-priest had reach a settlement of almost $10 million in four child sexual abuse cases, according to the victims’ lawyers.
Becoming pope also has a human dimension. In one of his final speeches as pope before he retired on Feb. 18, Benedict said that his successor would need to be prepared to lose some of his privacy.
Reporting was contributed by Daniel J. Wakin, Laurie Goodstein, Stefania Rousselle and Gaia Pianigiani from Vatican City, and Alan Cowell from Paris.
I don’t have an issue with what you do in the church, but I’m going to be up in your face if you’re going to knock on my science classroom and tell me they’ve got to teach what you’re teaching in your Sunday school. Because that’s when we’re going to fight.
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
God wants to cure your cancer. But only if you pray lots and lots. Oh, and he’s very sorry he gave it to you in the first place.
- Richard Dawkins
“Your petitioners are atheists and they define their beliefs as follows. An atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.
An atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it, and enjoy it.
An atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.
He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man.
He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.
He believes that we are our brother’s keepers and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now.”
These myths do more than hurt atheists. They also harm the basic religious freedoms of all Americans, regardless of their beliefs. Religious freedom and tolerance don’t mean much if they can’t be expanded to include those without religion. With that in mind, here’s 10 of the ugliest myths about atheists, debunked:
Atheists are out to destroy Christmas. It’s September and so this myth is relatively quiet, but it tends to come out every year after Halloween, to accompany Christmas decorations going up. For Fox News, ratcheting fears about a “war on Christmas” has replaced caroling as the annual holiday ritual. It’s all very silly. Atheists don’t oppose ritual or holidays. Most atheists in America tend to see Christmas as a mostly secular holiday celebrating family that can be turned into a completely secular holiday with a few minor tweaks. Even the few atheists who don’t celebrate Christmas at all certainly have no plan to make war on the holiday, beyond simply requesting that the government obey the First Amendment by not promoting Christianity above other beliefs, no matter what time of year.
In my experience, non-believers have some of the best Christmas celebrations around. You can get a tree and decorate it in punk rock style, or put up a pro-atheist sign in your yard surrounded by festive Christmas decorations. My family tends to prefer all-night poker games for Christmas instead of going to Christmas mass–all the family togetherness, but with less boredom. Or you can choose to have “Christmas” in July and save yourself the expense and headaches of holiday travel.
Atheists are just angry with God. Atheists often point out the logical inconsistencies of many religious beliefs—such as the belief both that God is all-good and all-powerful, but he somehow also allows evil to exist—and believers use that to conclude that atheists are angry with God. We aren’t. You can’t be angry with a being that you don’t believe exists. I’m no angrier with God than I am angry with eus or the aliens that keep kidnapping drunks sleeping in their cars. Anger with religions for promoting false beliefs isn’t the same thing as being angry at the being that believers invented.
But I also have to quarrel with the very notion that a person’s arguments can be dismissed because of anger. Smugly accusing someone of anger doesn’t do anything to discount the content of the argument. I’d argue that people who see vile behavior in the name of religion and don’t get angry are the ones who have something wrong with them.
There are no atheists in foxholes. There are many variations on this myth, but the basic idea behind it is that atheism is a luxury of the problem-free, and as soon as they feel fear or weakness, atheists will run straight into the arms of religion. This myth irritates atheists, because it tries to make a virtue out of preying on people’s weaknesses in order to sell them a lie. If you heard a marketer brag that he targets people who’ve been diagnosed with terminal illnesses because they’re easier targets, or a guy say he likes to cruise funerals because grieving women are easier to pick up, you’d think that person had no morals at all. But targeting people in moments of weakness to sell them religion is regarded as a normal and even virtuous strategy for proselyti ing.
Beyond concerns about manipulation are the concerns about accuracy. Believers argue religion offers unique comforts to people in fear or pain, but what many atheists reali e is that religion often provokes more anxiety and fear than it soothes. If we accept that God is all-powerful, as many religions claim, then it’s like being in an abusive relationship that can’t be escaped for eternity; a relationship with a God who will throw us into hell for not fearing him and who allows horrors like the Holocaust to happen. Many religious teachings aren’t actually that soothing at all if you take a step back and look at them clearly. For atheists, believing that evil is more an accident of nature than something imposed on us by an inscrutable supernatural being is the far greater comfort than any prayer could be.
Atheists are aggressive and rude. This myth has been around in various forms for a long time, but it really took off after the rise of “New Atheism,” which focuses its energy on disproving religious claims instead of merely pleading for tolerance of atheists. This myth only persists because belief is unconsciously privileged over atheism, causing people to believe it’s somehow ruder for an atheist to say, “I don’t believe in God and here’s why” than for a believer to intrude in your personal space with pamphlets, attack people when they’re feeling low with religious claims, knock on your door to proselyti e, or force your children to recite religious language in school. Objectively speaking, believers commit transgressions against good manners far more than atheists. But atheist arguments tend to disturb believers more than arguments for God disturb atheists, so atheists get an unfair reputation for being rude, even when they are merely outspoken or unapologetic.
Atheism is a white dude thing. It’s easy if atheism makes you uncomfortable to write off atheism as the hobbyhorse of a tiny minority of men with overly high opinions of their own intelligence. That men such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins get most of the media attention devoted to atheism only reinforces this myth. If you scratch the surface, however, you’ll see that the ranks of outspoken atheists have far more women that the media would let on. Atheist blogger Jen McCreight grew so tired of this myth that she compiled an extensive list of prominent female atheists such as Susan Jacoby, Rebecca Watson and Lori Lipman Brown. Greta Christina followed up with a list of prominent atheists of color, such as Debbie Goddard, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Hemant Mehta. Women are specially targeted for religious oppression around the world, so of course, many of us will be open to arguments against the legitimacy of religion.
Atheists don’t have a moral code. Atheist are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it, especially a religion that backs up the orders with threats of hell. Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.
If anything, atheism correlates to better behavior on average. Atheists are under-represented in prison, for instance, and more religious nations have higher rates of violent crime, teen pregnancy, early adult mortality and even abortion. But setting the numbers aside, we can see that even religious people generally believe that morality exists outside of religion. After all, most religious people condemn people who commit acts of evil in the name of religion. If religiosity were the measure of morality, terrorists who murder in the name of God would be more moral than atheists who pay their taxes and give to charity. You’ll find few believers agreeing that a murderous terrorist for God is a better person than a nonviolent atheist, showing that believers grasp that morality doesn’t come from religion, but that we can measure religious claims against our pre-existing understanding of morality.
Atheism is just a faith like any other. You occasionally see agnostics trot this one out, as well. The idea is that arguments for and against the existence of any gods have equal value, but it’s simply not true. The logical position toward an extraordinary, supernatural claim is skepticism until proof is offered, and so far none of the thousands of gods that have been claimed to exist throughout history have lifted a finger to prove themselves. In fact, most believers grasp this for themselves; they automatically disbelieve all religious claims except their own, barring actual proof that never produces itself. Atheists just do religious people one better, and make no exceptions for a religion because it happens to be the one we were raised in or convinced by friends to convert to.
I always flinch in embarrassment for the believer who trots out, “Atheism is just another kind of faith,” because it’s a tacit admission that taking claims on faith is a silly thing to do. When you’ve succumbed to arguing that the opposition is just as misguided as you are, it’s time to take a step back and rethink your attitudes.
Atheist lives are bleak and lack meaning. Those in the atheist activist community find this one particularly insipid, because we so often deal with people who suffered religious abuse and were only able to find peace by abandoning religion. There’s really no reason to believe that happiness and fulfillment come from a supernatural place, or else believers would have no need for fulfilling work, loving families, friends, and hobbies, since their spiritual beliefs would suffice. Most atheists actually find our lack of belief in a supernatural being makes it easier to fill our lives with meaning and joy. Since we don’t believe in an afterlife, many of us find ourselves more motivated to make the most out of the time we do have instead of looking to the next life to make us happy.
Atheists are hedonists who don’t understand the true meaning of love. As an open reproductive rights supporter, I’ve certainly faced my share of believers accusing me of being an atheist so I can simply indulge my sexual appetites and avoid some abstract true meaning of love. It is true that one of the benefits of being an atheist is that you’re no longer crippled by religious phobias that assume that sexual fulfillment and real love are mutually exclusive, but that certainly doesn’t mean atheists don’t feel genuine love. I suspect some Christians enjoy making high-minded claims about feeling deeper love because they know there’s no way to measure their claims. But the higher divorce rates in more religious states don’t bode well for claims that sexual purity and Christianity make love deeper and truer.
Atheists have no way to cope after losing loved ones without the belief in an afterlife. The belief that religion has sole ownership over death is so ingrained that it often causes believers to behave in inappropriate ways toward grieving atheists, using the occasion of a loved one’s death to try to coax us into taking up religion. Some believers who do this are openly predatory, but some mean well, and simply can’t imagine how atheists cope without telling ourselves pretty stories about an afterlife. Atheists have every right to be skeptical of the argument that belief in the afterlife quiets the pain of grief. After all, many religions teach that the dead person could be burning forever in hell, which can cause far more anxiety than relief.
I imagine the nothingness of death is much like the nothingness that existed before birth. Believing in the afterlife seems to have more to do with the egos of the living than concerns about the dead, and by letting go of the need to make the end of someone else’s life about your own fears of death, many atheists can focus on working through the grief in a healthy way. So please, believers, don’t use the death of loved ones as an opportunity to proselyti e.
Debunking these myths about atheists in print can only do so much to quell believer fears about the supposed atheist menace. Even better would be for believers to find themselves an atheist, and instead of simply attacking them with these myths in an effort to frustrate them into submission, instead get to know them better. You might find they’re basically like everyone else, except more rested on Sundays and less afraid that invisible beings are judging them for masturbating.
A Finnish toilet paper maker has removed quotes from the Bible, including the words of Jesus, that it inadvertently placed on its rolls after protests from some Norwegian church leaders.
Metsa Tissue was trying to convey messages about love but accidentally included lines from the Gospel of Matthew and First Corinthians on toilet paper sold in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
The firm selected the quotes from Facebook submissions, including one from Jesus: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
It only realised its mistake when it received feedback.
“People like to read small, happy messages while sitting on the toilet,” Christina von Trampe, a spokeswoman for Metsa Tissue, which produces the Lambi brand, told Reuters.
“The vast majority of the feedback has been positive. Our intention was to spread love and joy, not religious messages.”
Laila Riksaasen Dahl, the Bishop of Tunsberg in protestant Norway, was not amused.
“This is bad taste and show lack of respect,” she told Vaart Land, a publication focusing on religion issues. “Bible verses do not belong on a roll of toilet paper.”
The company, whose toilet rolls in the Nordics regularly feature witty quotes, poetry or philosophical messages, said it would continue the product line but with more stringent vetting.
“Where there is evidence, no one speaks of ‘faith’. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”
- Bertrand Russell
What if there is no invisible man in the sky that hates Gays….
And we are all just intolerant assholes ?
“Suffering is not a punishment not a fruit of sin, it is a gift of God. He allows us to share in His suffering and to make up for the sins of the world”.
- Mother Teresa
We all know the name Mother Teresa. She won a noble peace pri e for her humanitarian work and founded the Missionaries of Charity. When She was on her world tour she gathered millions (rumored to be billions) of dollars from the rich because they believed that she would be able to help the poor and suffering in India. Many people would believe that India was and currently is eternally grateful to her. But what did she really do with all that money? It surely wasn’t used to improve the conditions of the suffering.
Mother Teresa’s money was mostly spent on religious activities and not on the poor. She built a hundred facilities all over the world with her name and organi ation ‘Missionaries of Charity’ on each one. Most of them were nunneries used to train uneducated and obedient young women of her ways of God worship. Making other women act like her, thus sprang her ‘cult of suffering’.
I can imagine her Home for the Dying in Calcutta India is the most depressing place to be. Even though Mother Teresa had billions she couldn’t even give these dying people proper beds. They’re all little hammocks and some have to share with others with different diseases. They weren’t allowed to go anywhere else but on the beds. They had to go in this unsanitary toilet in front of other people. They aren’t allowed visit from their friends or their relatives. Strange.
Your already dying but do you have to suffer like this? She didn’t believe that these people really need any antibiotics because they were going to die anyway. How much did she cared about her health? When she got sick, she took herself straight to the best heart specialist in New York. I think she really does believe in getting rid of suffering but also believes that other people need to suffer…except for her.
Electroshock therapy as punishment, women chained to beds and more…
It’s actually been one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen; it is electroshock treatment, and something that now I’ve noticed is far too common. Many of the women who first come in are given it for six weeks, especially those who are physically unruly, and to the point where they only stop the treatment in some of them until they completely stop talking.”
She wasn’t interested in curing any of these sick people even though she had a ton of money to do so. Why would Mother Teresa intentional want people to suffer? “The suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering,” a quote from Mother Teresa herself. Sounds like she had an obsession with the suffering of other people.
Sadism is the pleasure or gratification in the infliction of pain and suffering upon another person. Sounds so much like her doesn’t it?
People might argue that she wanted people to live in poor conditions so that she could identify with the people whom she was with and be closer to Jesus. It basically means she wanted to feel better about herself by watching people die. Which make her sound even more of a sadist really.
“The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”
― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s highest ranking Catholic cleric until he resigned last week, now admits he did in fact engage in inappropriate “sexual conduct” with priests, as the Vatican scandals rock on in the wake of Benedict XVI’s resignation. But O’Brien’s story appears to underscore a larger, more pervasive reality about the dangers of the closet in society, and how it can be a corrupting force when combined with power, as I pointed out in a post a few weeks ago about former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.
Powerful closeted gay men, driven by an almost pathological fear of being exposed, many times engage in two often destructive activities: 1) speaking out against gays and homosexuality, or courting those who are anti-gay, in a desperate attempt to show they are not gay themselves, and 2) seeking sex through risky channels, feeling they have no choice because they’re unable to freely have sexual encounters via public, every day social situations, like dating or going to bar or public places.
Catherine Deveney, the Observer reporter who broke this story, notes:
This is not about the exposure of one man’s alleged foibles. It is about the exposure of a church official who publicly issues a moral blueprint for others’ lives that he is not prepared to live out himself. Homosexuality is not the issue; hypocrisy is. The cardinal consistently condemned homosexuality during his reign, vociferously opposing gay adoption and same-sex marriage. The church cannot face in two directions like a grotesque two-headed monster: one face for public, the other for private.