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Saturday, January 24, 2015

More On The Madness Of Muslims: The Butchers Of Boko Haram

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

Boko-HaramWe are now in the 21st century: all books, including the Koran, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal. - Sam Harris

Those mad dogs are at it again:

Boko Haram emerges as brutal Islamic State of Africa

(RNS) Boko Haram, with its chilling brutality, radical Islamic ideology and unstoppable seizure of Nigerian territory is quickly emerging as the Islamic State of Africa.

While much of the world has focused on the terror attacks in Paris and the Islamic militants’ capture of swaths of Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram has gone on a bloody rampage through northeastern Nigeria.

Human rights groups have sounded alarms about the al-Qaeda-linked organization’s recent brutality: the slaughter of up to 2,000 people in the Nigerian towns of Baga and Doron Baga on Jan. 3 and the subsequent strapping of explosives on girls as young as 10 to detonate in public places. The unchecked rampage is affecting the looming presidential elections now weeks away and propelling a 72-year-old iron-fisted general, Muhammadu Buhari, back into the race.

Boko Haram first gained international notoriety for its savagery in April 2014, when it abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok and threatened to sell them as wives and sex slaves. The “bring back our girls” movement began with Nigerian village women demanding government action and grew into a worldwide rallying cry, with participants that included first lady Michelle Obama. Some of the girls later escaped but the fate of remaining captives is unknown.

In addition to its ruthless tactics, Boko Haram, echoes the Islamic State in its aspiration to create a “caliphate” across national borders by crossing into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. On Jan. 12, its fighters seized the Cameroonian border town of Kolofata. Cameroon’s government said its forces killed 143 militants.

And like Iraq’s military setbacks against the Islamic State, Nigerian government troops seem weak and incapable of stopping Boko Haram from becoming a growing danger to Africa’s most populous country and the world’s 10th largest oil exporter.

“The United States needs to recognize we have a problem that’s second only to the problem we have with ISIS (Islamic State),” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. “We have a group holding territory and shooting down jet fighters. … If Nigeria collapses — it is the strong state in the region — there are no strong states to contain what would happen if Boko Haram succeeds in carving out an Islamic state in that area.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the Africa subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says Boko Haram is “as close to a carbon copy (of the Islamic State) as can be,” and the U.S. response to combat the two groups has also been similarly slow.

What’s needed, now, Smith said, is for President Obama to call Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and insist on the need for the U.S. military to train Nigerian troops to stop the movement.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN  that the U.S. is “actively working with the Nigerians,” but added that “they need to step up,” move forward with elections slated for Feb. 14, and not let terrorists “use elections as a wedge between the government and its people.”

A week after the massacre occurred in Baga, groups that included Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported it. On Jan. 3, the town was razed and its inhabitants killed as they hid in the surrounding scrubland. More than 3,700 structures were damaged or destroyed, according to satellite imagery before and after the attack, according to Amnesty International.

A week later, Boko Haram strapped explosives to three girls about 10 years old and detonated them in a market in Maiduguri and in a mobile phone store in Potiskum, killing about 22 people in total, the groups reported.

President Jonathan, who previously sent 20,000 troops armed with tanks and aircraft to the country’s northeast, has said little about the Baga attack. One of his aides, Doyin Okupe, questioned the reported death toll.

Gbara Awanen, the head political minister at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, told USA Today only the ambassador is authorized to speak to the media. And Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye was traveling and unavailable, Awanen said.

Boko Haram, who’s name means “Western education is forbidden,” seeks to replace the Nigerian state with its own radical interpretation of Islam and now controls up to 20 percent of Nigerian territory.

Nigeria’s government has yet to accept large-scale international assistance to deal with the problem, said John Campbell, a former U.S. ambassador to the country.

The parallel to the Islamic State is limited by the fact that Boko Haram has not expressed a desire to become a global caliphate, Campbell noted.

Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations at the rights group Amnesty International USA, said Boko Haram also lacks the governing skills demonstrated by the Islamic State in some of the territory it holds, although residents under its domination in parts of Iraq and Syria have complained about poor services and disorganized government.

Despite the international clamor over the kidnapped girls, the Nigerian government has had no success rescuing the 219 still missing, and local media have exposed weaknesses in the nation’s military that include soldiers refusing to fight and mutinies.

On Jan. 3, Nigeria canceled a U.S. counterinsurgency training mission, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.

Nigeria has generally rejected offers of assistance from Britain and the United States “because of the conditions that come with such assistance,” said Akwei.

U.S. law prohibits U.S. military assistance to countries that commit human rights abuses. The Nigerian military’s operations against Boko Haram have resulted in multiple allegations of illegal killings and detentions of suspected Boko Haram members reported by rights groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, according to the State Department. Nigerian officials have rejected those claims as “fabrications,” Akwei said.

National pride also seems to be a factor, he said.

“The Nigerians have always felt themselves more capable and big enough and strong enough to take care of their own crises,” Akwei said.

Yet the country still has no cohesive military strategy to turn the tide and protect the population, he said. “It’s not the way a state functions if it hopes to survive, unless it’s unaware of the gravity of the threat.”

A bunch of rabid, xenophobic extremists? Who strap bombs to little girls? Sell children into slavery? Slaughter and raze entire villages? Someone needs to track these monsters down, and put a bullet in each one of their heads. And don’t give me that liberal crap about ‘all life being sacred’ – that only works if both sides agree to it.

An old saying goes something like this: “Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them.” In this case, this particular band of savages are trying to build a glass caliphate by throwing stones.

Till the next post then.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Witless Witch Doctors Wiping Out The Wrong White Folk…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
bushscienceWell, it seems like a step in the right direction….

Tanzania bans witch doctors after scores of albino people are killed in ritual slaughter

The government of Tanzania has banned witch doctors due to ritual killings of albino people for their body parts.

The witch doctors reportedly fueled the killings by inducing local people to believe “magic potions” made from body parts brought good luck and wealth.

Some religious leaders have welcomed the move but warned that a blanket ban could affect access to traditional medicine offered by healers and herbalists.

Now the leaders are calling for a new approach, even as the government clarifies it was targeting cheats.

“I don’t think the ban will end the problem,” said the Rev. Leonard Mtaita, a retired general secretary of the Christian Council in Tanzania. “A lot of people, including senior politicians, visit these witch doctors. I think the best approach would be to educate the communities about these issues.”

Tanzanian Roman Catholic scholar Pius Rutechura said that although the move was welcomed, it needed to be accompanied by a series of other actions.
“We need to research and understand why witch doctors prefer albino body parts and why people believe them,” said Rutechura, vice chancellor at the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya.

In the last three years, more than 70 albino people have been slain. In the latest incident, on Dec. 27, an armed gang led by a witch doctor kidnapped a 4-year-old girl in the northern Mwanza district

Last year, the United Nations warned of increased attacks on albinos in Tanzania because of the upcoming 2015 general elections, when political campaigners visit influential witch doctors to seek help in winning the election.

Yeah, we have witch doctors in America too – we just call them Christian  Fundamentalists. And if we didn’t have a set of laws preventing it, those asshats would be murdering people for a variety of anachronistic nonsense as well. As for educating people…well, the best education will always be a secular one, not a religious one.

The only true supernatural horrors, are those perpetrated by belief in the supernatural. It is still horrifying – that anyone in the the 21st century would be hunted down and mangled in such a way…it’s stomach-wrenching. And for a bunch of superstitious bullshit to boot. And to compound this tragedy, it’s an election year, and witch doctors actually have political clout. Witch doctors. Man, someone needs to really re-think this fucked up government, like maybe bulldoze and start over.

It is to weep.

Till the next post then.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

More On The Madness Of Muslims: Serious Censorship

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

islam-religion-of-peace-cartoonTo speak specifically of our problem with the Muslim world, we are meandering into a genuine clash of civilizations, and we're deluding ourselves with euphemisms. We're talking about Islam being a religion of peace that's been hijacked by extremists. If ever there were a religion that's not a religion of peace, it is Islam. – Sam Harris

More death, pain, and madness at the hands of Islamic extremists – at this juncture, these sort of events are now to be expected at the hands of the proponents of their ‘peaceful religion’.

Charlie Hebdo hunt: Bloody end to sieges

Two sieges in France have been brought to a bloody end, with three gunmen and four hostages killed.

Two brothers who killed 12 in an attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday were shot dead as they fled a warehouse north of Paris, firing at police.

Shortly afterwards in eastern Paris, anti-terrorist forces stormed a kosher supermarket where hostages were being held by a gunman with reported links to the brothers.

The gunman and four hostages died.

French police believe the captives were killed before the assault on the Hypercasher supermarket near Porte de Vincennes, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters late on Friday.

Four hostages were seriously injured and 15 were rescued unhurt. Two police officers were injured.

The operation was launched after the end of the siege in Dammartin-en-Goele, 35km (22 miles) north of Paris.

The two brothers there, Cherif and Said Kouachi, came out of the building firing at police and were killed. Two police officers were injured.

One hostage there had earlier been released and a second employee, who was hiding in the building's cafeteria, was freed by police after the shooting ended.

Obama: "The US stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow"

French President Francois Hollande described the events as "a tragedy for the nation".

In a televised address, he thanked the security forces for their "bravery [and] efficiency", but added that France still faced threats. "We have to be vigilant. I also ask you to be united - it's our best weapon," he said.

"We must be implacable towards racism," he added, saying that the supermarket attack was an "appalling anti-Semitic act".

"Those who committed these acts, these fanatics, have nothing to do with the Muslim faith."

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said there had been a "clear failing" in French intelligence.

"If 17 people die, this means mistakes have been made," he said, including those killed in attacks on Wednesday and Thursday in the toll.

Sorry president Hollande, but the religion itself is composed mostly of fanatics. He should probably get up to speed finding out about all the human rights violations in Pakistan, extremist armpit of the world. Or that puckered starfish, the KSA.

A dozen people slaughtered. Over a cartoon. Un.fucking.believable. More mentally deficient mad dogs that need putting down.

This is the line where religion departs from all reason: where a belief, no matter how ridiculous, is more precious than a human life. Whether in the taking of one or fucking one up, these illusions are becoming increasingly difficult to rationalize (or they should be) even for the more moderate among the religious.

Till the next post then.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Life On Earth–Exactly What Are The REAL Odds?

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

petardedLook round this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organised, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind Nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children!

Philo to Cleanthes, Part XI – David Hume

This whole non-debate is so ubiquitous, that I picked it from Facebook of all places. Apparently the Wall Street Journal is having slow news days, and/or completely lacking in journalistic integrity. Doesn’t anyone fact-check anymore? I know Fox News sure as fuck doesn’t, and the Republicans consistently say enough stupid shit to lump them into that mess. I’m guessing that the WSJ can be tossed into that indigestible stew.

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researches have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.

Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.

Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.

Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” ( Dutton Adult, 2014).

There is just so much wrong with this nonsense. Let’s take a look at the ‘against all odds’ scenario.

Have you ever placed a bet in a casino? Sure you have. And the dealer, whether it be blackjack, roulette, or poker, can give you odds. Why can they give you odds? Here’s the secret: these games have been played trillions of times, catalogued, sorted, and the odds are laid out based on actual physical parameters. Poker has been played often enough, that (factoring in the amount of cards, amount of players, etc.) the odds can be placed at a near exact percentile. Do you see where I’m going with this? All of the parameters for card games are known – they’ve been known for centuries – based on easily replicated known factors.

A person can only measure odds when certain facts are present. How often does a full house appear, as opposed to say, a couple of pairs, or a straight flush. Even flipping a coin implies that there is an either/or choice.

The creationists have no cards. They have nothing to compare this planet against, except the other planets in our solar system. Is that enough? Sadly, no. Our species would have to collate a lot more worlds, catalogue them, and have some indication of life. They also need (for the teleological argument) an undesigned universe. At least one. Or provide some sample of undesigned fauna/flora. It’s simple sense, almost Taoist in approach: you have to know both opposites before choosing between the two.

As for scientists discovering ET life – folks, we have to get into space before we do this. Seriously. We haven’t had any manned flights beyond the moon. ET life could be existing at the bottom of a methane ocean, or deeply dug in under the surface. There’s only so much a telescope can tell anyone.

As for Fred Hoyle – I am sick of these jokers trotting this guy out. He was a panspermist, for Pete’s sake, and I get riled when someone cites that stupid shit about ‘the odds of a tornado going through a junkyard…” Talk about broken analogies.

So Sagan was off – how long ago was that? Science is in no way comparable to religion. Because scientists (the good ones) amend the facts when evidence rises. Apologists like to cite these things because they assume it’s all written in stone, when in fact there are rules of thumb in place. Even the Drake Equation is subject to permutation.

Sure, the teleological argument is tough for narcissists, it caters to the introversive (our species actually has enough of those people, that we can actually place bets! Yay!), but the fact remains: there is no divine babysitter keeping tabs and settling scores for us. Religion is our species’ attempt to superimpose our shadow on the universe.

But that metaphorical shadow will never eclipse reality, regardless of how often it is shouted to the skies.

The WSJ did print this response – pretty cool.

Till the next post, then.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Climate Change: The Non-Debate Rages On

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

propopeA casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. – Nietsche

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Winterval.

So the pointy-headed asshats in the Vatican are stirring up a whole lotta nothing:

Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches

He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.

The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope’s wish to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions.

“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.

According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.

In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

In Lima last month, bishops from every continent expressed their frustration with the stalled climate talks and, for the first time, urged rich countries to act.

Sorondo, a fellow Argentinian who is known to be close to Pope Francis, said: “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialisation, today we have changed the natural environment so much. If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”

According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”.

Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, said: “There will always be 5-10% of people who will take offence. They are very vocal and have political clout. This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality.

“A papal encyclical is rare. It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it’s a big deal. But there is a contingent of Catholics here who say he should not be getting involved in political issues, that he is outside his expertise.”

Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion.

Bad news, Calvin (helluva name for a religious fella though) – all religions are false. Your bible’s been reduced to a fairy tale at best and a laughingstock at worst. The entire epistemology is a bankrupt institution, an empty promise, a long-term con job that didn’t run outta steam.

As for any idiot who proclaims “Carbon Dioxide GOOD! Don’t WORRY!”, all those twips had to do, was do a simple search – but maybe I expect too much. I always do.

Faith doesn’t move mountains, nor does it impact the weather. In fact, all it seems do to is blind people, make them act against their own self interest, and waste their lives pursuing an afterlife that never was.

Till the next post, then.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Another Creationist Lawsuit? It Looks Like We ARE In Kansas After All, Toto…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

kansasboredOur creationist detractors charge that evolution is an unproved and unprovable charade-- a secular religion masquerading as science. They claim, above all, that evolution generates no predictions, never exposes itself to test, and therefore stands as dogma rather than disprovable science. This claim is nonsense. We make and test risky predictions all the time; our success is not dogma, but a highly probable indication of evolution's basic truth."[Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack

Yes, only in Kansas, people:

Judge: Kansas Science Standards Don’t Promote Atheism as a Religion

A federal judge from Kansas rejected a creationist lawsuit that alleged teaching evolution in public schools qualifies as propagating atheism as a religion. According to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, United States District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled against the lawsuit filed by creationist group Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) against the state of Kansas, saying it is without merit and worthy of dismissal.

School districts in as many as 26 states, including Kansas, have adopted a standardized science syllabus called Next Generation Science Standards, with the help of which, educators will try to close the gap between students in America and those in other developed countries, as far as their knowledge in mathematics and science is concerned. This particular science syllabus teaches students that the different species on earth developed through the process of evolution.

COPE claimed that mandating the teaching of evolution to public school students qualifies as an endorsement of atheism as a religion. As a result, they filed their lawsuit against Kansas, hoping that it would halt the implementation of the science syllabus in the state. The group called the new syllabus dangerous, claiming that it influences impressionable students to ask ultimate questions like what the nature of life is, what the cause of the universe is and where humans come from. COPE warned that this syllabus would make science teachers act as theologians, infringing upon believers’ ideological mindset and instilling a materialistic or atheistic point of view in children’s brains. The group also explained that science has not answered these religious questions and it never will.

Simon Brown at Wall of Separation wrote, “Everything about that argument is flawed. Contemplating the origin of life on this planet is not an inherently religious question that is unfit for children to ponder. And science has done a fine job of unlocking the mysteries of the universe — despite COPE’s claim to the contrary. Evolution may be a theory but no legitimate scientists question its validity. Thus learning the facts of that theory is not ‘indoctrination.’ It’s called education.”

According to Crabtree, COPE’s lawsuit failed to prove that sufficient harm was being caused to it or its well-being, for the allegations to qualify as a court case.

One of the more frustrating things that religious do (at least for me), is that they constantly use the old tu quoque – by assuming that the religious and the atheist both ‘believe’ but that the atheist is in angry denial. It is also based on the misperception that atheism is an emotional choice when it is in fact, the complete opposite. “I am religious, ergo so are you. Don’t deny it” kind of thing. It’s right about there that my voice goes up a few decibels.

And these COPE clowns (how ironic – obviously they can’t cope, and objective? Honky, please), these self-appointed deluded neurotics, they just keep on wasting everyone’s time, resources, and money with the quintessential non-debate of this century and the last.

It’d be comic relief, if it wasn’t so scary.

So, the best I could come up with for word substitution in their acronym is:

COPE = Clowns Operating Primitive Equations

Feel free to play with that in the comment section.

Till the next post then.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Because I AM An American, And I Don’t Have to Believe To Be A Good Citizen…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

Anti-Atheist-ChristianSign

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute - where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote - where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference - and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish - where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source - where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials - and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. – John F. Kennedy

 

There are so many negative (as well as idiotic) stereotypes that we as atheists are forced to suffer: we’re immoral, we’re not to be trusted, some asshole who ruled a country fifty years ago was a vicious tyrant and HE was an atheist, so you must be a human piece of shit to not believe in the supernatural, etc. You know the drill.

And then they wonder, after heaping metaphoric shovel after shovel of horse manure over the head of said atheist, they can’t seem to understand why we lose our shit, why we can’t be more patient while they are repeating their ignorant nonsense ad infinitum.

Yeah, it’s enough to piss me off too. The worse one, is this idea that not believing in some imaginary sky daddy renders the citizen a traitor. There’s a statement that makes me want to chin someone. Why? Because I’m American born and bred, and belief is simply NOT a requirement. In fact, being born on this country’s soil makes citizenship automatic. There are no ‘gotcha!’ clauses to this – it’s simple fact.

So it’s actually immensely satisfying when a magazine such as the L.A Times publishes an op-ed like this:

Patriotic Americans have the right not to believe in any God

Belief in God is obviously not a legal requirement for U.S. citizenship. Yet, as we observed in the first editorial in this series, citizenship has meanings that are deeper and more subtle than legal permission to live in this country. For many Americans, one important aspect of citizenship in this broader sense is loyalty to “one nation under God” — the God of the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, they believe that the institutions of government should acknowledge that fact. The result is that nonbelievers and adherents of minority faiths sometimes are made to feel like second-class citizens.

In Mississippi there is currently a campaign to amend the state constitution to acknowledge the state's “identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues; and, accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens.” (Bizarrely, the text says the amendment “shall not be construed to transgress either the national or the state constitution's Bill of Rights.”)

The commingling of citizenship and Christianity isn't confined to the Bible Belt. In May, the Supreme Court upheld a New York town's practice of opening its public meetings with invocations that overwhelmingly were offered by Christian clergy members who frequently prayed in Jesus' name. The notion that the U.S. is a Christian nation also underlies claims, fanned by talk show hosts and other non-serious hysterics, about a secularist “war on Christmas” and the continued complaints about Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s that ended the practice of beginning public school classes with prayers and Bible readings.

Even some Americans who reject the notion of America as a Christian nation identify this country with “Judeo-Christian principles” and applaud politicians who do the same. Many agree with the late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas that “we are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” — and not just any Supreme Being. There were protests when the Washington National Cathedral, recently hosted a Muslim prayer service. Those who attempt to delegitimize President Obama whisper that he is a secret Muslim, as if Islam were somehow un-American. And if being a Muslim is bad in some peoples' eyes, being an atheist is worse. In a 2012 Gallup poll, 40% of respondents said they wouldn't vote for a Muslim for president; 43% said they wouldn't support an atheist.
We believe that entanglement of religion and government runs the risk of risk of marginalizing citizens who don't share the religion of the majority. - 

It might seem paradoxical that so many Americans consider religious faith — and sometimes a particular faith — as a necessary component of American identity. After all, the Constitution says that there shall be “no religious test” for holding public office, and the 1st Amendment prohibits Congress from legislating an “establishment of religion,” a stricture that the Supreme Court has extended to state governments. Thomas Jefferson famously referred to a “wall of separation” between church and state, and the metaphor is among the most recognizable in American life.

That wall, it's true, has always been a porous one. Some breaches are less objectionable than others. Scholars have a term for the sort of pro forma religious language that is customary in presidential addresses and state funerals: “ceremonial deism.” But there are also attempts to equate Americanness with specific faiths, such as the campaign in Mississippi and the rash of bills in statehouses targeting the phantom menace of sharia law infiltrating the judicial system.

We believe that entanglement of religion and government runs the risk of marginalizing citizens who don't share the religion of the majority. That is especially a concern at a time of growing religious diversity and an increase in the number of Americans who tell pollsters they aren't affiliated with any religion. In a 2012 Pew Research Center poll, 19.6% of adults said they were “religiously unaffiliated.”

So what should be done to solidify Jefferson's wall — other than rejecting initiatives such as the one in Mississippi? At a minimum, officials should resist identifying patriotism with any particular religion. It's gratifying that official chaplains in the U.S. Congress, although they are Christian clergymen, in general have chosen not to offer distinctively Christian prayers. To his credit, Obama, like President George W. Bush before him, has reached out to Muslims as well as to Jews and Christians. The White House is now the scene of an annual Iftar dinner marking the end of Ramadan.

But equal treatment for organized religions, while it avoids the evil of “establishing” a single faith, can still carry the message that those with no religious beliefs at all are second-class citizens. That is why this page has opposed even nonsectarian prayers at meetings of local government bodies. Political leaders, especially those who frequently engage in religious language, should acknowledge that there is no religious test for being a good American. Obama did just that in his first inaugural address when he said that “we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers.” We'd like to see more public officials recognize that reality; one way of doing that is to include nonreligious speakers in solemn public events. (That wasn't done when public officials, including Obama, came together last year to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, despite a request that the speakers include a representative from the Secular Coalition for America.)

Organized religion undeniably plays an important and often constructive role in the lives of many Americans. Religious figures have been instrumental in political causes from abolitionism to the civil rights movement. No one should seek to banish them from political debate. But we reject the notion that religious faith in general or adherence to a particular creed is an essential attribute of being American. The only creed to which a citizen of this country should have to pay homage is the Constitution.

So my basic stance (in case nobody’s been listening) is that an oath to the Constitution should supersede a religious oath. And repeating myself for the Nth time, is that if someone would put their religious beliefs above the major impact to someone’s life (i.e., forcing a woman to give birth against her will, telling people who to marry, etc.), then that person can’t be trusted in a government office. Otherwise, you’re just forcing your religious beliefs on others.

And THAT, my friends, is un-American.

Till the next post, then.

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