left biblioblography: December 2014

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.


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.


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


“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.


Saturday, December 06, 2014

Need Free Therapy? Send Your Bill To…Bill!

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

bdfakeoutrage"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
-- H. L. Mencken

Y’know, you gotta love guys like Bill Donohue. He makes a better case against religion every time he opens his uninformed pie-hole. Sadly most religious folks have absolutely zero in the way of critical-thinking filters, absorbing the ontological metacrock like sponges.

Case in point:

Bill Donohue: Non-Religious People Are Probably Insane

Bill Donohue’s latest “Christian persecution” campaign took another bizarre twist yesterday when he told Newsmax host Steve Malzberg that he is willing to pay for therapy for non-religious people…since they are probably insane.

“They believe that freedom is license to do whatever they want,” the Catholic League president explained. “They don’t want to be told anything, which is why they die prematurely, they’re unhappy, that’s why we have a disproportionate number of agnostics and atheists in the asylum, all of this is true.”

Donohue said “secularists” have an inferior “mental health, physical health and degree of happiness,” adding: “They got to work it out, fine, I’ll help pay for their therapy, just take your hands, your mitts off the Catholics during Christmas.”

Ummm…okay, Bill. Can I call you Swill? ‘Cause that’s all you’re peddling, Donahue. Pure swill. The large percentile of people do define ‘freedom’ as the ability to do whatever one wants, but freedom is defined by boundaries. As to not ‘wanting to be told anything’, the Christlation for this is ‘if you don’t listen, you’re evil’. Unhappy? There’s a difference between unhappy and angry. As a rule, I’m one of the happiest people you’ll ever want to meet. But I’m angry about something: I’m angry about the gratuitous ubiquity of religion in our culture, I’m pissed off that I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 fucking decades studying comparative religion, and it all turned out to be shite, so there’s time ill spent. And gray matter resources that have now been diverted to folly, that I could’ve done better things. Awww…poor pitiful me (wah wah)…but life goes on, and keep on a-smilin’. Because we are all more than one thing at one time.

I’m sure many of my peers can relate to that anger, that trembling rage one has when the One Big Truth you’ve been pre-programmed to accept gratuitously is a lie, composed of thousands upon thousands of little lies, all spun together like a glorious fairy tale, but that some would die and/or kill to claim it truth.

The rest of his claims are equal amounts of trash: he’s a sociologist, likelihood is that he has zero scientific studies to back up his declamations; like most of his ilk, he’s all mouth and trousers.

But hey! If your life has hit some serious speedbumps, and you need expensive therapy, just tell your shrink to bill Bill. Or better yet, just send it via snail-mail. I’m tempted to mail him something, but it would be a lot less polite than that….

Till the next post, then.