Thursday, August 30, 2007

Perpetual Fear and the Promise of Salvation

This is a powerful documentary by the BBC. I encourage you to watch both parts. In summary, it's an in-depth summary of the religious & political motivations that lead to Sept 11th & the current occupation of Iraq. The parallels between Radical Islam and Neo-Conservatives in the U.S., how each side uses religion as justification for their atrocities, and uses the religious beliefs of the masses to control them politically, are made obvious.

The Power of Nightmares Part 1: Baby it's Cold Outside

The Power of Nightmares Part 2: The Phantom Victory

Religious people are being used, many by virtue of their unwillingness to look outside their field of view for answers. The Bible/Koran has the answers for them, and by extension, those who teach the Bible/Koran have answers for them. A powerful few who think they know what's best for the masses use the religious as their warriors & voters. While the politicians promise us earthly salvation, the religious promise us eternal salvation. By using the religious beliefs of the masses to further their political means, and then blaming those that don't think like them for the downfall of society, those in power are attempting to turn their ideology into laws for the masses.

It's hard to avoid mixing thoughts on religion & politics, especially when they're so obviously mixed these days. And it's hard to see the good people do in the name of their religious beliefs when we're blinded with the truth of who really benefits from the group-think of the christian masses.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Religion is Propaganda

I was reading this article on "How Propaganda Works," which I somewhat assume is directed at how governments use propaganda to manipulate the masses, but this seems to apply just as much to organized religions.

The article states the key to good propaganda is to appeal to 3 key human characteristics; emotionalism, tribalism, and narcissism.

Religion appeals to people's emotional needs through the imaginary solution of prayer; just talk to god and he'll tell you what to do. People don't have enough faith in themselves so they turn to a leader to make decisions for them. That leader may be their imaginary god, their holy book, or their local shaman/priest/rabbi/sheik. This often eliminates one's need to think for one's self.

People are best unified by their dislike for a common enemy, whether that enemy is real or imagined doesn't so much matter. The enemy of religion is not really the devil, or evil in itself. The enemy of religion is people of a different religion whom the leaders classify as the devil or evil-incarnate. A tribe might fight amongst itself, but it finds a cohesive force in it's want to fight outsiders.

And the last appeal of religion to a person's narcissistic side is to tell them that god loves them, god thinks they are special, god has a plan for them. Heaven is waiting for you, because you are part of this group. And while you are part of the group, you are an individual & special in the eyes of god!

Heaven provides an emotional coution for the devastation that is death that we must all eventually face. Muslim tribes may be fighting eachother in the middle east, but they'll often get together to fight the Jews or Christians. Christianity fights evolution not just because of the fairy tales in the bible, but on the grounds that they believe humans are better than and different from all of the the other animals on this planet.

I would never venture to deny any person their individual spirituality, but organized religion is pure propaganda and I only wish more people could see it as such.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Atheism in the news

Atheism is more often coming to the forefront of mainstream news.

This week cbsnews had a piece on atheism that somewhat centered around the fact that Julia Sweeny is an atheist.

Honestly though, this article didn't bring up any new arguments, or ground-breaking atheist revelations. Julia Sweeny has been quite open with her beliefs in the past, and I hope she continues to be so. I'm sure there is much more to her life than her beliefs about religion; none of us should be defined by our beliefs, each of us must define our beliefs on our own.

Again though the comments at the bottom of the page make me cringe. The believers saying all we need is Jesus. The atheists calling all believers morons. And the people who are playing the odds by pointing out something like "if there is no god, no harm; but if there is a god, I win!" I actually respect the Jesus freaks a bit more because, at least they're just saying what they believe in their hearts. Anyone trying to make an argument that god is a better bet probably doesn't really believe in god, or they really just don't understand that believing in something that big isn't as much a decision as a conclusion.

I would much rather approach a religious person with logic & facts about the world. I really don't think, for many people, being uninformed about how the world really works is a choice. People don't know what they don't know.

There's also a recent article in Scientific American on Rational Atheism, and it has a good list of pitfalls & possibilities for atheists taking a stand. I think more atheists who are randomly commenting online about the whole debate should take a step back & read this article just so they themselves aren't accused of making science a religion, or being atheist evangelicals.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New day, new church bigotry exposed.

Seriously, how the fuck do some people get off calling themselves Christians?

This article, about a how a church took back their offer to hold funeral services for a veteran when they found out he was gay, just really pisses me off.

Now, if Jesus died for everyone's sins, doesn't that mean many Christians believe that just believing saves them, despite their sins on earth? And didn't Jesus himself hang out with the "sinners" of his time? While the church doesn't need to condone anything it considers a sin, if churches turned away all of those sinners, there'd be nobody at their service.

And if they believe all sin is equal in the eyes of god, then just admitting to living a gay lifestyle can't be any worse than the person who consistently lies about their age.

It's just complete nonsense in my eyes. Lets make up a club that celebrates love & diversity so that we can exclude people we don't like! Yayy!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Faith Continuum?

When I spot an interesting article that causes a bunch of people to reply with really stupid comments, I can't help but reply to them! So of course, when I spotted "Faith, Reason and Science, Part X: Some Humor and Serious Ponderings By A Thoughtful Atheist" on A Guy in the Pew, I knew there'd be trouble. You can check there for my ramblings.

I do find his thoughts on science and faith a bit interesting, it seems to me he is one of those people who works his faith around reality as best he can. But the main problem is; those who want to believe mostly seek out books/articles that affirm that faith. I'm not sure if he's ever seen The God Who Wasn't There, just as I haven't read Jesus of Nazareth as he has.

He is prepared to reshape his faith based on evidance, and I think it here that I ask "how then can you have faith at all if it is so easy to change?" If you call yourself a Christian and yet pick & choose what makes sense from the bible, what happened to the rest of it? I had to say it needs to be an all or nothing choice, for while I can take some intellectual & spiritual guidance from the bible, I don't believe any of it to be divine. But can faith in religious doctrine lie on such a continuum?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Various links...

While we aspire to be a tolerant society in the U.S., that also means we all have to tolerate people saying this we don't like, or that we disagree with. This is a good commentary by Rabbi Aryeh Spero on the subject of how fear of offense shouldn't lead us to criminally prosecute those expressing free speech.

Also, I wanted to link to a really good Q&A on the definition of Atheism & Agnosticism, as well as other common questions about atheism as a belief system.

And an interesting article on why evolution hasn't gotten rid of ugly people. It basically surmises that what makes men and women attractive are very different traits; yet we inherit our physical features from both our parents. I would also think that this would be a logical rebuttal to why homosexuality persists, despite it's obvious evolutionary flaw; gay animals aren't naturally reproducing. (I have heard religious people ask how homosexuality can be genetic if it wouldn't be passed on, or on the other side that evolution can't be real because homosexuality persists within the population.) While it's really great for men to be attracted to women, perhaps there is some factor to that attraction that can be passed from fathers to daughters, resulting in females with strong attraction to females. It'd be interesting to know if there are any studies in that area of sexuality & inheritance.