Archive for July, 2011

So the quotes are going to be directly quoted from an article on the AHA’s website with a bit of my commentary. I found them amusing enough to post.

  1. “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” – Michele Bachmann
    -Ummmm no. No there are not, nothing even remotely close. Seeing as how evolution forms the backbone of modern Biology, its hard to be a biologist and not understand evolution. Bachmann is just all around an uneducated, foolish person who should not be involved in politics.
  2. “You know what, evolution is a myth….Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”  – Christine O’Donnell
    – O’Donnell is on the same playing-field as Bachmann. Apparently they both have very little education and understanding of scientific concepts. In fact, I see no way to respond to this than to just utterly reject it and tell her to read a book. Natural Selection is observable today but obviously holds no conscious plan. Man didnt evolve from anything close to modern “monkeys”.
  3. ”I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination…It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ‘gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow.”’ – Ron Johnson
    -So this guy has a bit better understanding of the world, he at least understands the concept of trees breathing and growing. However, man-made climate change has been proven very well; data overwhelmingly supports this hypothesis. Please read and investigate before making wild claims.
  4. ‘They [Republicans] say, ‘You’re too conservative.’ Was Thomas Jefferson too conservative? I’m tired of some people calling me wacky.” – Sharron Angle
    -Jefferson… conservative? He was very liberal in by the standards of that time period and he would not be a republican (or democrat for that matter) today. Tea Partiers today are attempting to create a new history for the US, once again I have the same advice – pick up a book and read before you talk.
  5. “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.” – Christine O’Donnell
    -No, no they arent. Thats a biological impossibility; as cool as that would be. O’Donnell never ceases to horrify me with her ignorance.
  6. ”Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”- Sarah Palin
    -Oh my old favorite Palin. The “ground zero” mosque wasnt even at ground zero! It wasnt even visible from ground zero! This is utter lying in order to further vilify all Muslims in America.
  7. ”Do you know, where does this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ come from? It was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. … The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ask them why they’re Nazis.” – Glen Urquhart
    -Yes it was written by Jefferson and coined by him. I have never heard Hitler use it. In fact, Hitler was very adept at using god and religion in his rhetoric but no one usually  calls
    christians nazis just because they can.
  8. ”The greatest threat to America is not necessarily a recession or even another terrorist attack. The greatest threat to America is a liberal media bias.” – Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
    -No but a big issue in America is liberal AND conservative bias in the media. Americans have to be intelligent when watching TV.
  9. “People ask me, ‘What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. senator.” – Sharron Angle
    -Um yes it is? You are in the Senate to support your freakin state and get more jobs ofr it during a recession!
  10. ”I’m not a witch…I’m you.” – Christine O’Donnell
    -Who cares? I certainly dont, because guess what? Witches do not exist, nor does magic. I would vote for a guy claiming to be a wizard who owned his own planet if I liked his politics. Religious beliefs bear absolutely no importance in a political candidate.

Aaron from the SSA affiliate UNIFI just wrote a post on why atheists should not be involved in interfaith work. To start with I completely understand his issues, but I do not support his conclusion. There is absolutely no reason non-theists should not be involved with interfaith work, it does not make us sacrifice our ideals, it gives atheists a much-needed popularity boost in the media, and it get across that it is okay not to believe. We can disagree with the big names in the interfaith movement, I know I do not agree with Eboo Patel or Chris Stedman on most issues, but that does not preclude us from taking part.

I too agree with Aaron that I do not think religions can get along together nicely unless they are willing to change themselves to a more tolerant worldview. Competing claims on the identity of god and what should be done in his name do indeed cause many many global issues. However, who cares if interfaith is full of fluffy language and lovey-dovey words? I dont and neither should non-theists who want to be involved in the work. It is NONE OF OUR CONCERN if the religious organizations involved are sacrificing their worldviews to be involved; atheists DO NOT LOSE ANYTHING by being involved. There is nothing inherent in atheist or secularism or humanism that prevents us from working with religious groups; as long as we are not pursuing a goal that is harmful to other humans. An example would be Catholic opposition to birth control in Africa; an atheist would never take part in this as it allows and encourages the spread of AIDS throughout third-world nations… BUT this would not be a part of interfaith anyway! Look at previous examples of interfaith to see how the goals of the organization make sure to avoid such things and only focus on issues like community service or fundraising for disaster relief.

Aaron says “Working with the religious doesn’t have to entail enshrining their beliefs; and we don’t need to apologize for defending our values vigorously.” I agree completely  and we do not need to enshrine their beliefs or sacrifice our own to work with religious groups. My own student group, Students for Freethought @ OSU, for several years went on a New Orleans service trip over spring break with a christian group called the Thomas Society. Neither group had to sacrifice its identity to do such a thing and both groups grew and matured as a result. This is only one small example of why working with the religious doesnt force an atheist to give ideological ground.

I dont see how Aaron can go from condemning the large interfaith movement to praising ISSA’s great interfaith dialogues and events. The large national movement is much better for everyone involved than doing it on just a small campus-level scale, which my group has always done and which I find to be very valuable. If you support working with religious groups then continue to enjoy doing so; it is a great experience and brings a lot of benefits for you, your group, and the wider movement. If you want to do interfaith work on a local level, I only ask that you approach the national movement with an open mind.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24)

“Verily I say unto you: This generation shall not pass, until all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)

This is something Ive been wanting to write on for a while. Jesus, supposed literal son of a god, stated pretty explicitly that the world as we know it would come to an end. Along with this explicit claim, he also made statements on when it would occur and what it would look like. The second quote above is from the gospel of Matthew; where Jesus pretty clearly states that the end times would happen during the lives of his followers. He was giving a warning to his closest friends on what to beware of. The only problem with this is that about 2 thousand years have passed since his followers died and we apparently skipped armageddon.

The first quote above clearly describes an event that would happen around Jerusalem. However, once again he is wrong. These events he supposedly described prophetically actually did occur; about 40 years after his supposed death. This is when the Jews once again rebelled against Rome and Rome’s future emperors, Vespasian and Titus, moved in to crush the rebellion. As the Roman armies closed in, of course people fled from the city. Once Jerusalem was besieged, Rome’s armies did not allow anyone into or out of the city. Wars do in fact create distress and wrath did occur against the Jews; not that extraordinary. Romans did in fact use swords and would have killed people with the sword, and the Jews were in fact forced out of Jerusalem and some areas of Judea as punishment for their continual revolts. Jerusalem was even renames Aelia Capitolina as a result of Titus’ successful revolt-crushing. So in fact, it appears Jesus predicted the future, unless it was just the gospel’s author writing 70 years later fully knowing about Rome’s treatment of Judea.

What are we left to conclude about this? If the gospels do in fact precisely, or at least closely, relate what the real man Jesus said then the man was wrong; completely off the mark. Sure if he actually predicted the destruction of Jerusalem then he predicted the future, but this was supposed to herald the end time, which it obviously did not since we would not still be here. The end times did not occur in the apostles’ lifetimes as Jesus supposedly prophesied, nor has it occurred  in any other generation regardless of how many fear-mongering priests and preachers have predicted it based on evidence that was so clear to them.

So how does one trust that the words of the bible are in fact the words of a literal, physical man named Jesus of Nazareth? If we can show clearly that the words were wrong and that the gospel was written after the predicted events had taken place then I see no way that we can attribute any sort of trustworthiness to the gospels of the New Testament.