Podcast Ep. 187: Jacindamania
5 hours ago
But we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.-- anthropologist and writer Robert Ardrey, in his book African Genesis (1961)
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His opponent is Republican Randy Forbes, who founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus [!!! - ZB]. Forbes has introduced such resolutions as H. R. 397 "America’s Spiritual Heritage Week" and H. R. 274 reaffirming the phrase "In God We Trust" in all public buildings and institutions.
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‘I do feel visceral revulsion at the burka because for me it is a symbol of the oppression of women.’-- Richard Dawkins, as quoted on separate occasions, for an article in The Daily Mail. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to be against the burka since its use is for the most part coerced, and be against legal remedies. Let us not forget that we have any number of extra-legal (not illegal!) means of resisting patriarchal, medievalist, and theocratic practices in our shared culture.
‘As a liberal I would hesitate to propose a blanket ban on any style of dress because of the implications for individual liberty and freedom of choice.’
That said, I think we’d be better off if all the world’s Bibles turned to vanilla milkshakes tomorrow. Over the centuries, humans have devised all sorts of diabolical institutions – genocide, slavery, misogyny, child abuse, homophobia, heretic hunts, witch cleansings, anti-Semitism – and you’ll find each and every one of them endorsed in Scripture, and almost no unequivocal denunciations of these evils.
Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini are no creationists, but 'outright, card-carrying, signed-up, dyed-in-the-wool, no-holds-barred atheists'. That, however, only makes worse the incoherence of their understanding of Darwinism. There is much that Darwin got wrong, from his views of racial struggle to his occasional espousal of Lamarckism. There is nothing in this book, however, to suggest a fundamental flaw in his central argument about evolution by natural selection.-- Kenan Malik, in "Pigs Won't Fly", his review of What Darwin Got Wrong by Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (Profile Books 262pp £20).
Most young adults today don't pray, don't worship and don't read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.Feel free to join a discussion of this latest development in the demystification of American youth, over at the Boston Atheists message board.
If the trends continue, "the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships," says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're "really more spiritual than religious."
Here's how it works at Christian Healthcare: Members send in a monthly fee, resembling an insurance premium, which can range from about $50 for a single person to $450 for a family of four. That money, along with the payments from thousands of other members, is then distributed to pay sick members' medical bills. [...]Emphasis mine. Judging from the people I've met in the non-god-believin' community, I'm glad to say that Mark McLeod would be happily surprised to see how much he can rely on people of evolved ethics who happen not to share his religion. I've got no problem citing Scripture on this one, Galatians 6:2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."
But they've been steadily growing in numbers and prominence — so much so that the recent federal health reform legislation has language exempting members from paying penalties most uninsured Americans will eventually have to pay. [...]
Said Chandler, the UH law professor: “People participating in this do need to have a little concern about solvency. You've sort of got to be relying on God here that this scheme will work out.”[...]
There are, however, a few catches. The ministries require members to be Christian, and they check with pastors for confirmation.[...]
There are also health care costs that can't be shared, most notably abortions or sexually transmitted diseases contracted out of marriage. Participants must also refrain from using tobacco and avoid sex outside of marriage, among other lifestyle requirements. [...]
Instead of paying more than $700 per month for premiums, Mark McLeod, a self-employed Houston geologist, currently pays Samaritan Ministries about $300 per month to cover himself, his wife and four of his children in a sharing plan.
“Who is going to take care of you — a company or people? I'd rather put my faith in people who believe in God.” McLeod explained.
It’s true, here are these young people in seminary, they have come with the purest of hearts and the noblest of intentions and they’re going to devote their lives to God. And one of the first things they learn is textual criticism. They’re looking at all the existing papyruses and scrolls and so forth and learning about the recension of the texts — the tortuous and often controversial historical path from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin versions of the books of the Bible — and all the Apocryphal books that got rejected — to the King James Version and all the later English translations. And that’s not what they taught you in Sunday school.The article cited in the interview, containing initial anecdotal results from Dennett's collaborative investigations, appears at the Washington Post website. An excerpt:
That’s the joke that we often provoke from people when we talk about this: Anybody who goes through seminary and comes out believing in God hasn’t been paying attention.
The interviews were all conducted by Linda LaScola, a clinical social worker with years of professional experience as a qualitative researcher and psychotherapist, and, until recently, a regular churchgoer. Like her co-author, philosopher Daniel Dennett, the author of Breaking the Spell, she is an atheist who is nevertheless a sympathetic and fascinated observer of religious practices and attitudes. For this pilot study we managed to identify five brave pastors, all still actively engaged with parishes, who were prepared to trust us with their stories. All five are Protestants, with master’s level seminary education. Three represented liberal denominations (the liberals) and two came from more conservative, evangelical traditions (the literals). (We decided to concentrate this first project on Christians, and we would have included a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox priest, for instance–if we had encountered any, but we didn’t.) We initially had six participants, but one, a woman in the Episcopal church, had a change of heart as we were about to go to press and, at her request, all further references to her and quotations from her interviews have been removed.
Needless to say, I did NOT say "I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI" or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.Also from the Times, an article surmising that the practice of sending abusive priests to therapy (rather than jail) contributed to high abuse rates.
What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope's proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my 'Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope' article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341
Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson's subsequent 'Put the Pope in the Dock' article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal.
The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.
Even if the Pope doesn't end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn't cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope's visit, let alone pay for it.
Thus the whole world in every member groans:This morning, Jackie Lavache -- an Assistant Organizer with the Boston Atheists-- asked me in her role as Boston Atheism Examiner asked me to put on my local organizer and State Director hat. She wanted to know what my response is to the news that a Christian ministry is spending time and money to send solar-powered talking Bibles to victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
All born for torment and for mutual death.
And o’er this ghastly chaos you would say
The ills of each make up the good of all!
-- Voltaire, from Poem on the Lisbon Disaster