liveonearth: (Default)
So when I say, as the subtitle of my book, that I think religion poisons everything, I'm not just doing what publishers like and coming up with a provocative subtitle, I mean to say it infects us in our most basic integrity. It says we can't be moral without Big Brother, without a totalitarian permission. It means we can't be good to one another, it means we can't think without this. We must be afraid, we must also be forced to love someone who we fear, the essence of sado-masochism and the essence of abjection, the essence of the master-slave relationship and that knows that death is coming and can't wait to bring it on. I say this is evil. And though I do, some nights, stay at home, I enjoy more the nights when I go out and fight against this ultimate wickedness and ultimate stupidity.
--Christopher HItchens
liveonearth: (pentacle 2)
This is the after-elementary-school program being offered by an organization called The Satanic Temple.   It was news to me, but the Satanists I met tonight at the FFRF meeting consider themselves to be atheists.  They do not believe in a metaphysical God or Satan.  Satan instead is a symbol of individual liberty, of the ability we each have to say "I'm out" when someone offers us a load of dogma.  Lucifer, of course, is the fallen angel in Christian mythology who refused to tow the line.  "...Our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton--a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism."

This take on Satan is all fine and good if you're inside that particular literary bubble.  If you, like me, grew up surrounded by Christian mythology, Satan is THE bad guy.  So I was a bit taken aback that they want to call their program this, and their club, and so on.  Why choose such a hot button for Christians?  Why not call it after school Humanism, or Atheism, or Evolution???  Well they do have a reason.  The concept is that Satanists can assert their rights as a religious organization and influence public affairs, reminding the dominant religious groups that in America such privileges are for all religions, not just the chosen ones.

I also learned that the legal definition of a religious organization is one that takes a stand about god.  Hence an atheist organization is a religious organization in the good old US of A.

The Oregon chapter of The Satanic Temple is brand new.  They've offered After School Satan Clubs at two elementary schools where Good News Clubs are already offered.  They plan to teach evolution, and how the world was formed.  The only problem is that when the local chaper offered an open house at a local school, the superintendent of the school (Karen Gray) let all the students and teachers go home an hour early, effectively eliminating the curious audience while also ticking off the parents who had to get out of work an hour early to pick up their babies.  Only two students signed up.  I wonder how many would have signed up if it was the After School Spaghettimonster Club?

The 2001 Supreme Court Decision called Good News Club vs Milford Central School resulted in a decision that the Milford school's restriction of the Good News Club violated the Club's free speech rights, and that no Establishment Clause concern justified that violation.  If you don't remember the Establishment Clause, it's the part of the First (free speech) Amendment that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress.  So after school programs are allowed access to school premises regardless of content.  Free speech is allowed by religious groups as well as boy scouts, debate and chess club...and Corporations, but that's a separate ball of wax.

The Good News Club is a private Christian organization for children.  Their goal is to Christianize the next generation.  They teach elementary school kids that they are sinners and that they are going to hell if they don't repent and do right by this one particular version of God.  The Child Evangelism Fellowship creates the curriculum and trains instructors.  They have over 40,000 volunteers in the US and in 2011 there were 3560 clubs in public schools in the US and over 42,000 clubs worldwide.  THIS is how they get off calling it a Christian Nation.  And they are effectively brainwashing children before they've developed the powers of discimination to know they've been hoodwinked.    A 5th grader is unlikely to really comprehend that the teachings after school are of a different nature from the teachings in school.

Because of the 2001 SCOTUS decision, Satanists have the same rights of access to public schools as Christians, so After School Satan is one answer to the Christianization.  The name is intended to provoke Christians, and it does.  There have been ample protests.  The goal is simple: to get the Christians to remove their programs from public schools, so that then the Satanists will go back into private and stop enticing their children with cool programs and rebelliousness.

One of the coolest things I heard from tonight's programs was the 7 Tenets of The Satanic Temple.  They are beautifully enlightened so I will share:

I. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.


II. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.


III. One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.


IV. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.


V. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.


VI. People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.


VII. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Wouldn't it be nice if THESE were American Values?

liveonearth: (moon)
I think this may be part of the reason that so many people have defaulted to supporting tRump.  At a gut level he gets it, that somehow the religion of Islam is motivating some people to kill bunches of hedonistic rich oblivious Americans.  We are The Great Satan, after all.  Our women roam around half naked.  We drink alcohol and eat so much that we can't get out of our chairs.  The Muslims who hate us find plenty to hate.  And the teachings of the religion are harsh.  Unforgiving.  Granted, most religions have some myths and stories that motivate hateful actions.  Most religions have a few fundamentalists whose simplistic interpretations lead them to extreme beliefs and behaviors.  Islam has a lot of people like that.  I am certain that the followers of ISIL think that American Muslims who don't help their cause are apostates, no better than the rest of us.  So given that there are quite a few Muslims who think we all deserve to die, and several at least who've been successful at violently killing Americans, being afraid of Muslims sounds kind of reasonable.  If the Dems don't admit to this, and begin teaching Americans about how they've been attempting to quell the fears of peaceable Muslims in order to prevent religious based warfare, they are missing the boat.  Blaming the Pulse shooting solely on easy access to guns is missing the very important point that currently there are a lot of people with this religious background who are motivated to kill.  We need to study them, to understand them.  They are not necessarily insane, they simply live in a different reality dictated by a different culture.  There are also a lot of Americans who are not Muslim who share their distaste for gays, their disrespect for loose women, and their instinctive hatred of other races.  Maybe you should be afraid.
liveonearth: (old books)
It's been decades since I read Siddhartha but it had a strong effect on me.  In my youth I was a philosophy major and a seeker, trying on different religious and spiritual approaches.  Eventually I arrived at myself, at the now, at the goals of non-attachment, awareness, compassion, adaptability.  I adopted bits and pieces of many philosophies, most notably Buddhism and Hinduism, without becoming a believer in reincarnation, heaven and hell, or any of the other dogmas.  New age religion in the US is very much a groovified hand-me-down from the culture behind these religions, and reincarnation is the most common belief system I encounter among people who pretend that they are enlightened.  More appealing to me is the stark realism of the German philosophers.  "To exist is to be in the way".

In Demian Herman Hesse suggests that the truth is not any of these religious structures, the truth is something far simpler, but harder to live.  It is not easy to go through this world stripped of comforting beliefs.  Hesse says we create gods and then we fight with them.  Many of his ideas are reminiscent of Nieztsche, for whom I've always had a soft spot.  He is the German philosopher who said "God is dead" and pissed off generations of religious people.

The protagonist of Demian is a young man named Sinclair, and his story begins when he is only 10 years old.  He is early at becoming aware.  Demian is a character who helps him, initially simply to avoid a predatorial character, and later to begin to think critically and to trust in himself.  When they are schoolmates Demian suggests alternate interpretations of Bible stories, especially the one about Cain and Able, and the mark of Cain.  By the end of the book I was thinking that I too must bear that mark, because I have never been a joiner, never been willing or able to submit to authority or dogma.

This book would make excellent reading for a teen who is beginning to sort out a path through all the competing authorities.  It does not provide a blueprint, but it does say that you must find your own path, and that it won't be easy or comfortable.  When Hesse first released this small book in 1919 it was in pieces in a magazine, and anonymously.  Why didn't he want his name attached?  Why didn't someone recognize his voice and thoughts, when they are so distinctly his?  Perhaps it is because Demian is also a commentary on the sadness of war, on the fruitlessness of giving lives for some shared ideal which might be bunk.  Some of the things he writes harken to the Jungian concept of collective consciousness, for example the shared premonitions of the onset of world war one.  Do we really share a consciousness, or do we simply share some of the same inputs, and arrive at some of the same intuitive conclusions?  Jung and Hesse did.

The most fruitful thing a person can do is to become themselves, I agree with Hesse on this point.  To be with people who are also themselves, this is a very satisfying thing.
liveonearth: (moon)

Reason Rally 2016: A Bloc Party that Counts

by Lyz Liddell

Executive Director

Reason Rally 2016

The latest polls show that the percentage of people who don’t care about a candidate's religion is increasing, and that “nones” are an ever-growing segment of the under-45 population — key voters! That’s great news for those who support separation of church and state, critical thinking, and just plain good sense. As the Pew Research report [http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/] states:

“Meanwhile, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has increased by roughly 19 million since 2007. There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S., and this group – sometimes called religious ‘nones’ – is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.”

We all have the opportunity to celebrate our increasing numbers — and build our power as a voting bloc — by attending Reason Rally 2016, June 4, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. You’ll hear great speakers and entertainers — Carolyn Porco, Bill Nye, Julia Sweeney and more — as well as comedians, lots of music, and a good time for all.

It’s a Voting Bloc Party for those who believe that public policy should be made based on scientific evidence, not religious beliefs. It’s also an opportunity to take the message of science-driven public policy directly to your own members of Congress on the lobbying days that precede Reason Rally 2016. The focus of the lobbying will be sex education and the wasted money devoted to abstinence-only curricula that have been shown to be counter-productive. IN fact, abstinence-only sex ed correlates with increased teen pregnancy!

So check out the speakers, hotel and travel deals, and sign up to lobby at our website, reasonrally.org. Bring your friends, then go home and vote in every election, from school board to president. Let’s Speak Up for Reason! Let’s make the media and politicians court us as much as they court the religious right.

liveonearth: (House religion psychosis)
There was a pretty good turnout at the usual CFI venue, a beer and pizza retreat called the Lucky Lab.  David is younger than I expected, pretty much right out of school having gotten a master's in Religious Studies.  He points out the difference between Religious Studies and Theology right up front: his education is more about comparative religion and history than about the dogma of any one ism.

He has written several books, including Disproving Christianity, which he wrote right out of undergrad school I believe. The Belief Book and the Book of God are intended for the education of children by parents who want to satisfy their natural curiousity with actual information instead of indoctrination.  And he announced last night for the first time in public that he has signed a contract for his next book, No Sacred Cows, which will be a manual for teaching critical thinking to children and adults.

I am very excited that this young man has taken to writing, and based on his public speaking, I suspect he is a clear and concise writer.  I look forward to reading some of his books, and I may start giving them as gifts too.  =-]

His main point in this talk is that the reason that there is so much dogmatic religion in the US is the lack of religious studies education.  People who do not know what religion is and what it has done in history are more likely to be religious, and more likely to be fundamentalist.  He says that to protect your children from falling prey to fundamentalism, teach them about all relgions, and satisfy their curiousity with real information.  Without this education there is in his words a "snowball effect" that leads to a widespread lack of critical thinking---which is exactly what we are seeing in today's political sphere.  If there were a strong component of religious studies integrated into primary school history and philosophy classes, there would be more critical thinking nationwide.

He mentioned an organization called the OASIS network, which is jokingly called "atheist church" but really it "an alternative to faith based community" that provides among other things programs for kids.  For freethinkers surrounded by religiousity, the name is really appropriate

Here's his blogpost on how to respond to door to door religion sellers:
https://davidgmcafee.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/how-to-respond-to-door-to-door-evangelists-and-hotel-room-bibles/

**Created tag: freethinker
liveonearth: (praying girl)
There are no gods, no devils,
no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition
that hardens hearts
and enslaves minds.


--Inscription planned for a monument
to be installed on Arkansas Capitol grounds,
if the state persists displaying
the 10 commandments.
liveonearth: (old books)

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.
--Oliver Sachs
(New York Times, Opinion, “Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer,” Feb. 19, 2015)


This from the FFRF blog: )

*Created tags for reason and humanism.

SOURCE
http://ffrf.org/news/blog/item/23735-remembering-oliver-sacks

liveonearth: (moon)
"Isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you
were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed,
eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part
of it?" ~Richard Dawkins

"A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe
as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves
of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."
~Carl Sagan

"Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger
than we can imagine."
~Sir Arthur Eddington (1882 - 1944)

"Not only are we in the universe, the universe is in us. I don't know of
any deeper spiritual feeling than what that brings upon me."
~Neil deGrasse Tyson
www.tinyurl.com/TysonSpirituality

“Spirituality is about being awake. It’s the attempt to transcend
the mundane, sleepwalking experience of life we all fall into, to
tap into the wonder of being a conscious and grateful thing in
the midst of an astonishing universe. It doesn’t require religion. ”
~Dale McGowan, author of "Atheism for Dummies"
liveonearth: (bamboo and moon)
An agnostic Buddhist eschews atheism as much as theism, and is as reluctant to regard the universe as devoid of meaning as endowed with meaning. For to deny either God or meaning is simply the antithesis of affirming them. Yet such an agnostic stance is not based on disinterest. It is founded on a passionate recognition that I do not know. It confronts the enormity of having been born instead of reaching for the consolation of a belief. It strips away, layer by layer, the views that conceal the mystery of being here--either by affirming it as something or denying it as nothing.
--Stephen Bachelor in Buddhism Without Beliefs page 19.
liveonearth: (hwy 666)
The take-home message
is that we should blame religion itself,
not religious extremism
- as though that were some kind of
terrible perversion of real, decent religion.

--Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion
liveonearth: (blue mountain painting)
Live a good life. If there are gods, and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
--Marcus Aurelius
liveonearth: (333 only half evil)
A teenage girl sued her school to get a prayer taken down from the gym wall, and won. Local Catholics then showed how classy they are when challenged.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/us/rhode-island-city-enraged-over-school-prayer-lawsuit.html?_r=2
liveonearth: (endless_knot)
Nobody expects him to win. Not even him. It would be quite a shock, after this many attempts. Ron Paul realizes that he's not really campaigning for himself to be president, but rather for an alternative view of how government works and what it should do. For a movement, and a revolution. For an alternative view of how society works, and what it means to be human. I am thrilled for him because he got the youth vote in Iowa today. The new voters came out for him. Probably because of that Big Dog ad, in combination with Dr Paul's willingness to legalize pot. Strange bedfellows indeed. Societies shift according to the ley lines of the culture.

It's pretty amusing to hear the rest of the candidates talk mainly about defeating Barack Obama. I would and will vote against all of them in favor of Barack Obama. Newt makes me wish desperately for a moral atheist candidate. The others I can't even remember. I wish for Palin. She'd at least make big enough gaffes to make me spit out my food.

Don't worry, I'll turn off the radio, soon. I have to say I really do enjoy hearing the candidates speaking to their own people at these events. I learn a lot more than I do from statements that have been honed for the mainstream news.

QUOTE OF THE DAY
We're all Austrians now.
--Ron Paul

(Austrians = opposite of Keynesians. This quote of course taken radically out of context, he is speaking of some time in the future when Keynesian economics is no longer broadly accepted and applied in America.)
liveonearth: (tree trunks)
As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it’s only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it’s gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each.
--J. Michael Straczynski
liveonearth: (Default)

Thank you Steve Martin.
liveonearth: (Default)
Personally, this is why I like Obama, even though I wish he'd shed the middle road position of supporting corporatocracy. He'll talk to anybody. Even the people who think that religion might well be the reason for much of the hate and violence that occurs between humans, instead of the solution to it. The right ring Xstians, with their vitriol, betray themselves. Who is more hateful?
link assortment )
liveonearth: (Default)
More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops
Kate Thornton for The New York Times
Published: April 26, 2009

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.

Loretta Haskell, a board member of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, is also a church musician. “I am not one of the humanists who feels that religion is a bad thing,” she said.

The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/us/27atheist.html?_r=2
liveonearth: (Default)
If Nostradamus were alive today, he'd have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente.
— New York Post

Gerald Celente sees a bleak future for America and for the world.
http://www.trendsresearch.com/

People don't want to look....but if you do look, and see past what you think you know, it is impossible not to see.

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