Welcome to the Survival Of The Fittest Saloon:
An atheist's viewpoints on religion, government, culture, adding friction to the fray. Will be talking about books occasionally, hence the title. Blunt, mocking (gently & otherwise), shootin' straight from the hip (hopefully), a dash of humor w/liberal doses of cynicism. Enjoy.
Welcome to the Survival Of The Fittest Saloon:
Libya's interim government forces have made major progress in their attack on Sirte, one of the last strongholds of Muammar Gaddafi' loyalists.
Gunfire was heard and black smoke was seen rising as National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters moved to within 1km (0.5 miles) from the city centre.
The troops regrouped as night fell, preparing for a new assault in the morning, a BBC correspondent says.
Sirte is Col Gaddafi's birthplace, but it is not known if he is in the city.
The city has always been a hugely symbolic target for the NTC, and it seems close to being won, reports the BBC's Alastair Leithead, who is with anti-Gaddafi forces in Sirte.
Most of you are likely familiar with this maniac, but for those of you who have a cursory knowledge of this particular despot, Muammar Gaddaf is:
commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the autocratic ruler of Libya from 1969, when he seized power in a military coup, to August 2011, when his regime collapsed. In August 2011, as a result of the 2011 Libyan civil war and the creation of the National Transitional Council, his government lost most of Libya by a NATO-backed opposition force. By the end of August 2011 Gaddafi had lost almost all domestic and international political recognition as well as the majority of Libyan territory. His 42-year rule prior to the Civil War makes him the fourth longest-ruling non-royal leader since 1900, as well as the longest-ruling Arab leader. He variously styled himself as 'the Brother Leader', 'Guide of the Revolution' and the 'King of Kings'.
After seizing power in 1969, he abolished the Libyan Constitution of 1951 and imposed laws based on his political ideology. Gaddafi formulated an ideology, calling it the Third International Theory and publishing it in The Green Book. Gaddafi and his relatives took over much of the economy. Gaddafi started several wars, had a role in others, and acquired chemical weapons. The United Nations called Libya under Gaddafi a pariah state. In the 1980s, countries around the world imposed sanctions against Gaddafi. Six days after the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein by United States troops, Gaddafi renounced Tripoli’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcomed international inspections to verify that he would follow through on the commitment. A leading advocate for a United States of Africa, he served as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2 February 2009 to 31 January 2010.
Like most of history’s villains, he did a little good here and there:
During Gaddafi's period of rule many of Libya's human development indicators improved significantly. By 2010, Libya had the highest GDP per capita, Education Index, and Human Development Index in Africa as well as some of the best health indicators in the continent.
But like most ham-fisted tyrants, he over-estimated himself and overreached, bringing him down to his current situation:
In February 2011, early in the Arab Spring, a protest movement spread across Libya. Gaddafi responded by dispatching military and plainclothes paramilitary to the streets to attack demonstrators. The unrest quickly spiraled out of control and deteriorated into a civil war. On 23 August 2011, Gaddafi lost control of Tripoli, and effective control of Libya with the rebels' capture of the Bab al-Azizia compound.
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants on 27 June 2011 for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi, concerning crimes against humanity. Interpol has also issued an arrest warrant for him for crimes against humanity. The United Kingdom, United States, Germany and France have recently unfrozen total amount of US$6.6 billion of his assets and assigned them in humanitarian aid for Libya.
Oh, how the mighty asshole is fallen!
His resume is a house of horrors, enough to gag the strong of stomach. Name a human right, he’s violated it. From quelling dissent to modern day ethnic cleansing. His imposition of Sharia law is not for the faint of heart:
Libya's society became increasingly Islamic during Gaddafi's rule. His "purification laws" were put into effect in 1994, punishing theft by the amputation of limbs, and fornication and adultery by flogging. Under the Libyan constitution, homosexual relations are punishable by up to 5 years in jail. A Westerner was shocked in 2005 to see Libyan society, saying it was:
... a country without alcohol, where the population abides by strict codes of male-female conduct that require both sexes to stay virgins until marriage—there are no dance clubs, no bars, no young couples strolling down the street, holding hands...I go in search of the town hotspot and discover it to be the local internet café, where crowds of young men play video games, enter English-language chat rooms, and examine—however surreptitiously—Western porn sites. It takes me a few minutes to notice that there’s not a single woman in the place. Away from the progressive cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, women stay largely in the home, out of sight. A local man, Mahmud, tells me that women here aren’t allowed to see or interact with males outside of their immediate family, including any would-be husband."
And the usually milquetoast UN has actually issued a warrant for once:
The UN referred the massacres of unarmed civilians to the International Criminal Court. Among the crimes being investigated by the prosecution was whether Gaddafi purchased and authorized the use of Viagra-like drugs among soldiers for the purpose of raping women and instilling fear. His government's heavy-handed approach to quelling the protests was characterized by the International Federation for Human Rights as a strategy of scorched earth. The acts of "indiscriminate killings of civilians" was charged as crimes against humanity, as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
This guy was simply everyone’s nightmare except his own:
On the Muslim prophet Muhammad's birthday in 1973, Gaddafi delivered his famous "Five-Point Address" which officially implemented Sharia. Gaddafi's ideology was largely based on Nasserism, blending Arab nationalism,aspects of the welfare state, and what Gaddafi termed "popular democracy", or more commonly "direct, popular democracy". He called this system "Islamic socialism", as he disfavored the atheistic quality of communism. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones. Welfare, "liberation" (or "emancipation" depending on the translation), and education was emphasized. He also imposed a system of Islamic morals and outlawed alcohol and gambling. School vacations were canceled to allow the teaching of Gaddafi's ideology in the summer of 1973.
Would you be freaked out living there? I sure would. Here’s some more crazy shit:
Gaddafi is known for erratic statements, and commentators often express uncertainty about what is sarcasm and what is simply incoherent. Over the course of his four-decade rule, he accumulated a wide variety of eccentric and often contradictory statements. He once said that HIV was "a peace virus, not an aggressive virus" and assured attendees at the African Union that "if you are straight you have nothing to fear from AIDS". He also said that the H1N1 virus was a biological weapon manufactured by a foreign military, and assured Africans that the tsetse fly and mosquito were "God's armies which will protect us against colonialists". Should these 'enemies' come to Africa, "they will get malaria and sleeping sickness".
And just to emphasize how nuts this assclown is/was:
Gaddafi has been an unabashed supporter of Islam, often with blatant disregard for religious tolerance. He said that Islam is the one true faith and that those who do not follow Islam are "losers". On another instance, he said that the Christian Bible was a "forgery" and that Jesus Christ was a messenger for the sons of Israel only. In 2006, he predicted Europe would become a Muslim continent within a few decades as a result of its growing Arab population. He endorsed the concept of a peaceful Muslim nation-state. Gaddafi expressed violent hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people throughout his career. At first, he expelled Jews from Libya and sided with Arab states for the elimination of the state of Israel. He funded and supported governments and paramilitary organizations that fought Israel. He said Arab nations that negotiate with Israel are "cowardly", and on multiple occasions, he has encouraged Palestinians to rise up against Israel. He believes in conspiracy theories that Israeli agents had assassinated John F. Kennedy and that Barack Obama's foreign policy was influenced by fears of being assassinated by Israel. Since 2007, he has suggested a single-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, at first saying "This is the fundamental solution, or else the Jews will be annihilated in the future, because the Palestinians have [strategic] depth". In 2009, he moderated his proposal in a New York Times article, saying a single-state solution would "move beyond old conflicts and look to a unified future based on shared culture and respect."
I don’t normally advocate harsh measures, but the sooner this asswipe is in the ground, the better off the world will be. Or, as old Billy Shakespeare put it, “nothing became his life like the leaving of it.”
Till the next post, then.
I just saw this recently, and I thought the film was HI-larious.
My favorite part is (of course!) when Kristen Wiig (as the blinkered Ruth Buggs) gets into an argument with Paul (the alien, voiced by Seth Rogan) about Intelligent Design:
It’s an outstanding comedy, and everyone in the cast shines (though there is a continuity problem: see if you can spot it on your own).
Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
It’s irritating, to find these puff pieces that are completely devoid of anything other than the good old “there-are-places-science-can’t-go” – broad appeals to ignorance that seem thoughtful to the thoughtless.
Too many athiests miss the point of religion, it's about how we live and not what we believe, writes John Gray.
And right out the gate, they misspell atheists, which pretty much strips out much of what the author thought of as ‘deep and insightful’
When he recounts the story of his conversion to Catholicism in his autobiography A Sort of Life, Graham Greene writes that he went for instruction to Father Trollope, a very tall and very fat man who had once been an actor in the West End.
Trollope was a convert who became a priest and led a highly ascetic life, and Greene didn't warm to him very much, at least to begin with.
Yet the writer came to feel that in dealing with his instructor he was faced with "the challenge of an inexplicable goodness". It was this impression - rather than any of the arguments the devout Father presented to the writer for the existence of God - that eventually led to Greene's conversion.
The arguments that were patiently rehearsed by Father Trollope faded from his memory, and Greene had no interest in retrieving them. "I cannot be bothered to remember," he writes. "I accept."
It's clear that what Green accepted wasn't what he called "those unconvincing philosophical arguments". But what was it that he had accepted?
We tend to assume that religion is a question of what we believe or don't believe. It's an assumption with a long history in western philosophy, which has been reinforced in recent years by the dull debate on atheism.
This is just another ‘novel’ take on an approach to appeals to incredulity.
In this view belonging to a religion involves accepting a set of beliefs, which are held before the mind and assessed in terms of the evidence that exists for and against them. Religion is then not fundamentally different from science, both seem like attempts to frame true beliefs about the world. That way of thinking tends to see science and religion as rivals, and it then becomes tempting to conclude that there's no longer any need for religion.
This irritating trope is what angers most atheists: the effort to put religion and science on equal terms, when they are anything but equals. There IS a fundamental difference between religion and science – religion is strictly guesswork, science is based on reproducible evidence.
This was the view presented by the Victorian anthropologist JG Frazer in his book The Golden Bough, a study of the myths of primitive peoples that is still in print. According to Frazer, human thought advances through a series of stages that culminate in science. Starting with magic and religion, which view the world simply as an extension of the human mind, we eventually reach the age of science in which we view the world as being ruled by universal laws.
Frazer's account has been immensely influential. It lies behind the confident assertions of the new atheists, and for many people it's just commonsense. My own view is closer to that of the philosopher Wittgenstein, who commented that Frazer was much more savage than the savages he studied.
I’d really like a show of hands on this one. Frazier? Surprisingly enough, despite my knowledge of mythology and religion, I’ve never read any of his work. And of course, the ‘new atheist’chestnut makes me think of paraphrasing the Who: “Here’s new atheist, just like the old atheist”. It’s garbage. We’re ruder now because being polite makes the religionist think they have a point.
I don't belong to any religion, but the idea that religion is a relic of primitive thinking strikes me as itself incredibly primitive.
Because of course, belief in the supernatural is…what? Advanced, complex thought? Is this guy kidding?
In most religions - polytheism, Hinduism and Buddhism, Daoism and Shinto, many strands of Judaism and some Christian and Muslim traditions - belief has never been particularly important. Practice - ritual, meditation, a way of life - is what counts. What practitioners believe is secondary, if it matters at all.
Oh, I see – so all those pogroms and massacres and tortures and rapes were just a matter of difference of opinion about ritual, meditation, and how you live?
The idea that religions are essentially creeds, lists of propositions that you have to accept, doesn't come from religion. It's an inheritance from Greek philosophy, which shaped much of western Christianity and led to practitioners trying to defend their way of life as an expression of what they believe.
Newsflash – Judaism ran in asynchronous tandem with Greek philosophy – and while there were Hellenistic Jews, the Jews were severely insular. And yes, the root core is a list of accepted propositions. Nice try at re-framing, but no cigar.
This is where Frazer and the new atheists today come in. When they attack religion they are assuming that religion is what this western tradition says it is - a body of beliefs that needs to be given a rational justification.
Why, yes it is.
Obviously, there are areas of life where having good reasons for what we believe is very important. Courts of law and medicine are evidence-based practices, which need rigorous procedures to establish the facts. The decisions of governments rest on claims about how their policies will work, and it would be useful if these claims were regularly scrutinised - though you'd be well advised not to hold your breath.
That’s because ‘belief’ in its broadest possible generalization, needs to be proven sufficient to the cause.
But many areas of life aren't like this. Art and poetry aren't about establishing facts. Even science isn't the attempt to frame true beliefs that it's commonly supposed to be. Scientific inquiry is the best method we have for finding out how the world works, and we know a lot more today than we did in the past. That doesn't mean we have to believe the latest scientific consensus. If we know anything, it's that our current theories will turn out to be riddled with errors. Yet we go on using them until we can come up with something better.
Pointing out that science isn’t ‘perfect’ is a ridiculous talking point.
Science isn't actually about belief - any more than religion is about belief. If science produces theories that we can use without believing them, religion is a repository of myth.
Bullshit. 4 out of 5 standard definitions specifically stipulate it’s about belief:
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3.the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
I’m going to skip ahead to another lynchpin that blows this puff piece right outta the water:
If Darwin's theory of evolution is even roughly right, humans aren't built to understand how the universe works. The human brain evolved under the pressures of the struggle for life.
Evolution is more than ‘roughly right’ – it’s a proven set of facts, unassailable mountains of forensic evidence. There’s no ‘roughly’ involved, except how the author tries to play the diplomat and fails miserably.
Of course, the author marches out yet another idiocy:
Science hasn't enabled us to dispense with myths. Instead it has become a vehicle for myths - chief among them, the myth of salvation through science. Many of the people who scoff at religion are sublimely confident that, by using science, humanity can march onwards to a better world.
Why do people ‘believe’ science improves the world? It’s called track record. Res ipsa loquitor.
Because it's a human invention, science - just like religion - will always be used for all kinds of purposes, good and bad. Unbelievers in religion who think science can save the world are possessed by a fantasy that's far more childish than any myth. The idea that humans will rise from the dead may be incredible, but no more so than the notion that "humanity" can use science to remake the world.
Newsflash: it’s already happened. Several times, in fact. We’ve managed to remake the world on multiple occasions. As to whether it’s a better world, is another debate entirely.
Evangelical atheists who want to convert the world to unbelief are copying religion at its dogmatic worst. They think human life would be vastly improved if only everyone believed as they do, when a little history shows that trying to get everyone to believe the same thing is a recipe for unending conflict.
This is really too much. It’s a thinly veiled “why-can’t-they-just-put-a-sock-in-it” coupled with a thoroughly bald-faced lie. We criticize religion – sometimes relentlessly. But dropping superstitious belief would obviously benefit the world at large. But ethics forbid that we do it by force.
The only thing I agreed with is the summation:
What we believe doesn't in the end matter very much. What matters is how we live.
And religions tend to dictate how we live. They try to tell us who to marry, what to do with our bodies, how to raise our children, legislate to gain the means to do all of these things. But somewhichway, we’re supposed to give them cart blanche to do this?
I think not.
Till the next post, then.
Remember this? The nightmare that was Windows Vista:
Pretty funny South-Parkian parody including Linux:
Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
It is now been a decade since that fateful day that shattered the mirror of America straight across. When twin towers were brought down by two jets hijacked by madmen bent on wholesale destruction. We should never forget and never forgive this atrocity perpetrated, regardless of the rationale behind it. The bodies raining downwards, screaming.
The apologists are always a-flurry: the Christians, the Judaists, they will condemn Islam wholesale while giving themselves a free pass. But this is not so. It is the self-proclaimed fiat of all religions that theirs should prevail, no matter what the cost. Because after all, the reward for the poisoned fruits of their labor is in the next life, not this one. So what cost bliss? Any cost, it seems.
The afterlife: it poisons everything in this life, for the sake of an imaginary one. If any of the hijackers believed that this life was the only one we all have, would they have given theirs so freely?
Remember, remember, the 11th of September.
Till the next post, then.
Nice take-off on the famous Scarface scene:
And a funny yet eerily accurate satire of Republican spending:
Witness then, the vicious vicissitudes of faith:
Police in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have filed preliminary charges against two women accused of killing their daughters.
The women, who were neighbours and are both Muslim, were reportedly furious with their daughters for eloping with Hindu men, police told the BBC.
Zahida, 19, and Husna, 26, were strangled last week after they returned home to make peace with their families.
The two mothers are yet to make an official response to the accusations.
One of the accused is quoted by the Indian Express newspaper as saying after being arrested, "How could they elope with Hindus? They deserved to die. We have no remorse."
Police say they are still trying to ascertain if the women assisted each other.
Zahida and Husna fell in love with two Hindu construction workers and eloped and got married before returning home to the town of Baghpat last week. Their mothers were arrested by police on Friday.
Correspondents say that marriages between Hindus and Muslims are not common in India. In rural areas especially they are frowned upon by both communities.
Last week India's Supreme Court ruled that people convicted of so-called honour killings should face the death penalty.
"It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation," the court said.
According to one recent study, hundreds of people are killed each year in India for falling in love or marrying against their families' wishes.
Convictions for so-called honour killings usually carry life sentences.
These were two ordinary women – there was nothing special about them, just some more folks who were just ‘trying to get by’. Likelihood is strong that prior to these outrages, they were just faceless individuals blending in with the masses. Chances are also good that their neighbors would never have guessed that either would have committed such heinous crimes. So the next time anyone lifts up a finger, and gets ready to lecture you (or even if it is you yourself) on how most religious folk are benign, remember: this is another of the many prices paid for accommodationism – the watering of the sands with human blood, the psychotic need to control the womanhood of daughters; the bended knee to their deity is slick with crimson.
Till the next post, then.