Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Finding God after losing a job"

From the T rider's daily scrapsheet, the Boston Metro: "The religious community is responding to those who ... are turning towards the church in their time of need. Across the greater Boston area, institutions of faith are providing support programs for the jobless, based mostly on professional help as well as spiritual guidance."

Spiritual guidance is of little help for secular problems. Whatever benefits there are for a religious person in seeking spiritual solutions to their problems, depend entirely on the degree to which they've framed their social and ethical worldview in religious terms. Everyone can use a little guidance, support, and aid from time to time. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if everyone could enjoy such help without having to believe in untrue things about the world?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Christopher Hitchens proposes new commandments

In Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens considers -- and finds fault in -- a version of the Biblical commandments. Not one to tear down without suggesting we prepare to rebuild soon thereafter, he concludes his column with an attractive alternative draft:
  • "Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or color.
  • "Do not ever use people as private property.
  • "Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations.
  • "Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child.
  • "Do not condemn people for their inborn [sexual] nature.
  • "Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent on the web of nature, and think and act accordingly.
  • "Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus rather than with a knife.
  • "Turn off that fucking cell phone—you have no idea how unimportant your call is to us.
  • "Denounce all jihadists and crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions.
  • "Be willing to renounce any god or any religion if any holy commandments should contradict any of the above.
"In short: Do not swallow your moral code in tablet form."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Smut for Smut Program

CBS News reports that an atheist group at the University of Texas, San Antonio is giving out pornography in exchange for Bibles, a campaign they call "Smut for Smut". This of course prompted complaints from the University's Christian group with complaints that it is offensive. However, University officials have decided to let students conduct the swap.

"As long as students are not violating laws or violating the Constitution, they have the freedom of speech and assembly," stated University spokesman, David Gabler.

Personally I think the Smut for Smut Campaign is pure brilliance and I think more groups should follow this example. Although, I must admit, the comparison isn't quite fair. With pornography, you at least get something out of it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

German Christian homeschoolers receive asylum

The NY Times is reporting on a German Christian family that sought and has won asylum status here in the United States. A Tennesse court agreed that the German state ban on home schooling is a form of unconscionable political oppression. The rationale behind the German policy is that home schooling enables different communities -- of faith, of national origin, etc. -- to diverge from the mainstream culture. By prohibiting homeschooling, the government seeks to avoid the creation of parallel or pocket cultures -- such as the Christian "quiverful" families in the US Bible Belt.

We've discussed the issue of homeschooling on the Boston Atheists podcast, and how it pertains to childrearing and cultural ownership. Opinions vary, but education is obviously a topic of central importance.