Friday, October 29, 2010

Jewish Rabbi: Goyim are Here to Server Jews!

Here's an amazing piece of news reported on Secular Daily News. It's one of those post-without-comments features ... you can't add much to this! Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of Israel's leading experts on Biblical law, says:
"Goyim non-Jews were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel.

“Why are Gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an aristocrat and eat. That is why Gentiles were created.

“With Gentiles it will be like any person, they need to die but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die. They would lose profit. Their donkey is their servant. The Goyim is like a donkey to the Jews, they exist only to serve and are only allowed by God to live a long life because they are the beast of burden of the Jews. Were the Goyim to stop serving Jews, God would end their lives.”
What could I possibly add to these wise words? I finally understand my role in this strange world.

Update: I don't want anyone to think I'm serious about my comments about my "role." I was part of a Jewish family for almost ten years, and have great respect for most Jews, as I do for most Christians and Muslims. It's the radicals like Rabbi Yosef who we should all jointly ridicule. I hope that everyone, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Atheist, can agree that Rabbi Yosef deserves no respect.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sam Harris at UC San Diego

Sam Harris, author of The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values made a stop at UC San Diego last night, and it was great. If you have a chance to see Sam Harris on his speaking tour promoting his new book, DON'T MISS IT.

Harris makes an excellent case that science does have a right, and even an obligation, to participate in the debate about the origins of morality.

Religious leaders have argued for thousands of years that morality can only originate from God. Harris starts his lecture by thoroughly debunking this notion. He begins by showing that there is no plausible justification for the claim. Then he completely devastates the argument on practical grounds: religion's abysmal failure to show moral leadership in any important period of history makes their claim to moral leadership a joke.

Harris then goes on to build a very clever series of logical steps that ends with the

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Hypocrites Club Nomination: Republican Joe Miller, Alaskan Senate Candidate

Congratulations to Alaskan senatorial candidate Joe Miller on his nomination to the Hypocrites Club.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC managed to get a great interview. There's a lot of good stuff in the interview, but here's what jumped out at me:
  • Gay marriage is a states-rights issue that should be decided locally. "The fact of the matter is, it's a state issue."
  • But wait ... Miller also says, "There's the Defense of Marriage Act, which I support."
Got that? It's a states rights issue, but Miller will take away that right if he can.

Miller uses taxation, as his excuse. "As a consequence of the taxation structure [of] the federal government, there clearly is a role" for the federal government. This is quite amazing, double hypocrisy if you will, since taxes are like poison to Republicans and Tea Baggers.

So which is it Joe? Aren't Republicans all about limited government? Aren't states' rights part

Monday, October 25, 2010

Death Challenges Atheist Convictions

A remarkable woman passed away this weekend. Those of you who have read The Religion Virus will remember my personal story called "The Southern Baptists" about Ruth (not her real name).

Ruth was a strict member of the Church of Christ, born and raised in the heart of the "Bible Belt" of the southern states. She and her husband attended church every Sunday and often on Wednesday. For those of you not familiar with the minutia of America's evangelical churches, the Church of Christ is considered conservative by the mainstream Southern Baptists, who in turn are considered conservative by almost everyone else. The Church of Christ worships twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday, and they don't even allow musical instruments in church, just singing.

On several occasions I joined Ruth and her husband at their tiny rural church in the middle of the cotton, bean and wheat fields from which their people made their living. Although I didn't share their faith, I enjoyed the enthusiasm, honesty, and especially the gospel music. You haven't heard true gospel until you've sat in the pews at a tiny concrete-block church in the heart of the South and listened to a bunch of farmers and their wives, children and grandparents all sing their hearts out. Now that is honest gospel.

Ruth was remarkable to me because she kept her faith and she was accepting of others. Unlike so many people in the evangelical churches,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Law Forces Atheist to have Christian Roommate?

I'm usually opposed to everything the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) does, but here's an interesting case where I find myself 100% on the side of the Christians.

How would an atheist feel if he or she was forced by law to accept an evangelical Christian roommate?

The actual case is the reverse, a Christian woman who advertised for a Christian roommate. But the law cuts both ways, so if this woman loses it would apply to theists and nontheists alike.

The woman posted a notice on her church bulletin board saying, "I am looking for a Christian roommate." Next thing you know, she was the target of a lawsuit by a private group called the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan. They claimed the Christian woman was violating the US Fair Housing Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination based on race, gender and religion.

The most interesting cases in law are where two different rights collide. For example, you have a right to free speech and I have a right to privacy; what happens when you want to talk about my private life? The boundaries in these cases are always vague. There is no clear line, and it takes years of court decisions to clarify the balance of the conflicting rights.

Most people in America don't realize that discrimination is actually legal in most situations. I'm perfectly free to ban anyone from my home for any reason. I can be a racial, religious sexist bigot all at the same time and only allow white male atheists in my home, and that's my choice. The law has nothing to say about it. (My family might, though... in case there's any doubt, I am none of these things!)

Discrimination is only covered by the law in certain very specific activities: employment, government and business. If you are hiring, conducting business or running the government, you have to treat everyone equally. Beyond that, you can be a jerk.

But what happens when the two collide? When you rent out a room in your house,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Women Pay Huge Price for Iraqi War

The Iraqis are paying a huge price in lost lives for the war, but there's a hidden cost that has largely been unnoticed. Its the price young Iraqi women are paying: there are no men to marry.

If this happened in America, it would be sad, but women could find fulfilling lives. Women in America aren't judged just by who they can marry or even whether they marry. Women in America can choose to marry or not. Either way, they have opportunities. They can become artists, work in the trades, become corporate executives, work in the service industry and many more. They lead productive, meaningful, happy lives, married or not.

Not Iraqi women. If a woman isn't married by her early twenties, she's considered a poor choice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christianity Dying Faster Than Expected?

America's churches seem to be under siege and losing ground faster than anyone expected. This week was particularly bad: Christian news web sites are full of economic disaster stories right alongside stories about young people leaving churches in droves.

Here is just a sample of the top headlines at one Christian news site this morning:These seem to be reflecting a theme that's getting stronger.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Science Victory: Supreme Court Rules Against Christian School

Here's some great news – a victory for education! The United States Supreme Court ruled against an association of Christian schools that were trying to force the University of California to dilute its entrance requirements to accommodate creationist views and historical revisionism.

The University of California didn't think that creationism is science. Imagine that. UC also rejected the Christian "literature" program, which was apparently designed to shield the students from anything that might cause them to think. And I'm guessing that their "history" program was equally biased by the typical evangelical "Christian nation" theory.

The Ignorance-Is-Bliss meme, something I wrote about extensively in The Religion Virus, is one of the most dangerous memes of all. It's the idea that knowledge is dangerous, that the Bible is the source of all truth, and that by shielding yourself from learning you'll avoid temptation and sin. When combined with the Anti-Rationalism meme ("Faith, not reason, is the source of truth"), we end up with a society where rational thought is despised and knee-jerk obedience and ignorance are praised.

Many argue that other Christian memes such as the Monotheism meme ("Your god is fiction") and the Intolerance meme ("It's OK to kill nonbelievers") are the most dangerous. I disagree.

It's certainly true that the Monotheism and Intolerance memes are directly responsible for a lot of the wars and terrorist acts that we see in the world today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

School: Church of Body Modification Isn't a Real Religion, disciplines girl with nose piercing

Why is it that pierced ears are acceptable but a pierced nose gets you thrown out of school? Why is it OK for a 14-year-old Catholic girl to come to school with a streak of ashes on her forehead on Ash Wednesday, but if that same girl shows up with a tattoo the proverbial smelly stuff hits the fan?

And what if that girl happens to be a member of the Church of Body Modification (WARNING: Graphic images!), and the ACLU gets involved?

Well, it has churned up a big pile of religious mud that Christians would rather leave undisturbed. It shows just how much special treatment religions get in this country. We're OK when Christians get their holidays and rituals, but when some unconventional ("weirdo") religion come along with oddball beliefs and tries to claim the same privileges, everyone cries foul. The mainstream religions don't like it one bit.

"The purpose of my nose ring is, it makes me kind of feel whole," said Arianna Iacono, the girl at the center of the fuss. [Note: news articles spell her name "Ariana" and "Arianna."] The Church of Body Modification "represents a collection of members practicing ancient and modern body modification rites." And these aren't like the sailor tattoos on Uncle Joe's forearm. Their web site makes it clear they endorse some pretty strong stuff, including suspension, where people stick huge hooks into themselves and are hoisted into the air by their own skin.

But the principal of Arianna's school was having none of it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Churches Violate Tax Law, Then Yell Persecution!

I despise hypocrisy, and I really hate it when Christians shout "Persecution!" at the top of their lungs and stomp their feet like angry children, just because they don't get special treatment.

The latest circus act was orchestrated by the Alliance Defense Fund. They called it Pulpit Freedom Sunday, and their goal was to break the laws that prohibit non-profit organizations from engaging in politics.
"Pastors participating in the Alliance Defense Fund’s 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' will preach from their pulpits Sept. 28 about the moral qualifications of candidates seeking political office. The pastors will exercise their First Amendment right to preach on the subject, despite federal tax regulations that prohibit intervening or participating in a political campaign."
In other words, they want all the benefits of a tax-exempt organization, but they don't want to follow the rules.

This isn't persecution. Nobody is censoring these preachers. All they have to do is

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God Can't Exist: The Vastness Argument

I've heard a lot of arguments why the Abrahamic god Yahweh can't exist, but here's one I thought of the other day. I'll call it the Vastness Argument Refuting God. I'm sure this isn't original, so maybe my faithful readers can point me to some earlier discussions.

Here is the proof:
  • God made the universe, and then made humans to give it meaning.
  • The earth is one star in the Milky Way galaxy
  • Typical galaxies contain 1011 to 1012 stars
  • There are approximately 1011 to 1012 galaxies
  • There are thus about 1022 to 1024 stars in the universe.
  • Therefore, our sun represents 0.000000000000000000001% of the stars in the universe.
What an incredible waste! Imagine you hired an engineer and said, "Build me a bridge over this river," and you came back after a while and found that the engineer had built ten bridges. "You jerk, what the heck are you doing?" "I built a bridge, didn't I?" he'd reply. Well, yes, but you wouldn't say he was much of an engineer. But we're not talking about ten bridges ... if we found ten Earths around the universe that would only have reduced God's wastefulness down to 0.00000000000000000001%.

So if the Judeo-Christian-Muslim understanding of creation is correct, what are we to make of it? I can only find three possibilities:

Obama is a Communist Muslim Jewish Sympathizer Atheist!

A lot of my research for these blogs takes me into "enemy territory" – web sites of the ultra right, Tea Baggers, evangelical Christians, creationists and some stuff that just makes me say, "Huh?" Such was my day on Monday when I dug up this blog. The story was on CNSNews, "The Right News, Right Now," which is to say, "Right wing news".

Check out the ad on the right. This is their main sponsor.

That's right. These people are equating Obama not to socialism, but to communism. Hammer and sickel. Red. And this is the most prominent advertisement supporting this "news" organization. And "GTFO"? I thought these conservatives supported family values! (For those of you not acquainted with the term, it means "Get the f--- out!" Nice.) Notice that it's a striking white girl wearing the shirt.

Obama must be a pretty amazing guy. First he's a socialist. No, actually he's a communist! And obviously he's a Muslim. But wait, he's an atheist too. And a Jew sympathizer! A communist Muslim Jew sympathizer atheist. He's raising our taxes! Unemployment is his fault! The wars are his fault!

What's weird is that these ultra conservatives seem to be able to actually believe

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finally, a Kindle Edition of The Religion Virus!

Hey everyone, if you've been waiting for the Kindle edition of The Religion Virus it's finally here!

I'm excite – I sold a number of copies the very first day, before I even started serious advertising. If you've been thinking of buying, now is the time. Help me get my Amazon Kindle ranking up where it will start to cascade!

You can click here to go directly to the Kindle edition.

And if you're not a Kindle fan, here's a link to the good ol' paperback edition that feels nice in your hands as you turn the pages in the shade sipping your iced tea.

Thanks everyone, and enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

African Missionaries Exorcise Schizophrenic - Doing Satan's work in God's name

The Mission News Network has a serious article about an exorcism in Africa. This idiocy might be funny except for two things. First, these ignoramuses are allowed to vote and carry guns, which is kind of scary. And second, it's 100% obvious that this is a tragic case of schizophrenia.

From the "news" report:
"South Asia is riddled with cases of people who are possessed by demons. Visible spiritual warfare is very much alive, and the only way to end it is with prayer.

"A 17-year-old boy in South Asia was recently taken over by demons and subsequently became extremely violent. Much like the possessed man coming from the tombs in the Gospel of Mark, this young man had to be chained down to bind his unnatural strength.

"When a Gospel for Asia-supported missionary met the boy and his family, he explained to the frightened family what was wrong with their son. He then went on to share the Gospel with the family, helping them to understand that the only way their son would be freed was through faith in Jesus and prayer."
The article goes on to claim that the boy is cured,

South Carolina: Prison Bans All Books ... Except Bible

OK, folks, this is 2010. Don't they know how to read in South Carolina? Haven't they seen a newspaper or magazine in the last hundred or two years?

The ACLU has been forced to sue the Berkeley County jail in Moncks Corner to end the prison's blatantly illegal policy that bans all reading material ... except for the Bible. Inmates are allowed to have softback Bibles, but only if they are sent directly from the publisher. They can't have Qur'ans, or even Prison Legal News, which carries articles about prisoner rights and legal news. And I'm sure you can imagine what the prison warden would say if a prisoner wanted a copy of something atheist or secular like my book!

I can sort of understand that the sheriff in a rural South Carolina town might have out-of-date Christian bigotry. It's a surprising anachronism, but this is a big country. What I don't understand is why they'd ban all reading material. It seems to me that a good Sheriff would encourage inmates to read self-help books, or read just to entertain themselves and become more literate.

Hats off to the ACLU, which once again has to fight a battle in a war that should have been over fifty years ago.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Doing What's Right Even When it's Hard

It's really easy to be moral, ethical, kind and generous when everything is going well. When life is good, it's easy to be charitable. When you have plenty of money and you make a mistake, it's easy to make it right.

The real test of character isn't how you handle yourself when times are good. It's whether you can keep up your principles when life sucks. When you make a promise in times of plenty, do you keep it later on when times have turned tough? If you make a mistake when you're broke, do you make it right even though it's not easy?

It seems like every time I turn around these days, yet another pastor, bishop or pope is making the wrong choices, showing that when the chips are down, their morality was a mere facade. Rather than having the deep, solid morality that we expected from these pillars of the religious community, they've shown that their morals are shallow. Rather than deeply held principles, they have situational ethics.

The Pope's cover-up of the pedophilia scandal, which CNN has exposed even more last week, showed us that when the Roman Catholic Church was faced with protecting its children or itself, it abandoned the children. The truly honest response would have been full disclosure, the very day the first pedophile priest was caught.

It seems that every time Congressmen, Senators or Presidents are caught with their pants down, instead of honestly admitting his mistake, their first response is to deny it happened. Rather than being honest, they rationalize and lie.

When BP's oil well blew up, their first response was to pretend it wasn't all that serious, that the leak was something like ten percent of the actual flow. A truly honest response would have been to say, "We don't know, but we'll find out. It looks bad," and then get to work to fix the problem and let their scientists speak without censorship.

Where do these people learn their morals? In church? I only went to church a few times in my youth,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

America's Conservatives Making Us a Nation of Idiots?

I was feeling glum about my fellow Americans and how some seem so incredibly ignorant. And like most of us, where do you turn for comfort? Why, YouTube, of course! The place where you can forget your troubles and go on an endless stroll through a landscape of funny and amazing videos.

I found a Bill Maher monologue from about a year ago, in which he hits the nail on the head. America IS full of ignorant people.

It's funny, but frightening too...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Divorce: Why Christians don't care about YOU

There's a new Christian movement to "get tough on divorce," which sounds great. We all agree that divorce is bad. But when I read the details, I was surprised, almost horrified, at its anti-family tone. You'd think getting tough on divorce meant supporting families, but it turns out to be the opposite. As far as I can tell, it's a "Don't embarrass your Church" campaign.

Christians have a commendable respect for family, marriage and the importance of children. In fact, they often want to claim the high road, that those who embrace God and Jesus are inherently better parents and have happier, healthier families. Organizations like "Focus on Family" even make claims like this:
"The panel first suggested that newlyweds should establish and maintain a Christ-centered home. Everything rests on that foundation. If a young husband and wife are deeply committed to Jesus Christ, they enjoy enormous advantages over a family with no spiritual dimension."
Unfortunately, the facts don't bear this out. The most religious Christians are the most likely to get divorced! (For more information see Southern Baptist Convention's Resolution On The Scandal Of Southern Baptist Divorce, which lays it out in detail.)

Well, enough is enough. They've decided to Get Tough on Divorce.

On the surface this seems like a laudable mission. Divorce is a terrible time for a family. It's a time of broken dreams, a time when love turns to bitterness and often hate, and when children's idyllic vision of parental love and home stability is shattered.

But when you read Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Rev. Albert Mohler's key essay, none of that seems to matter. His writings, and all the others I could find, are strangely devoid of any concern for the actual families. Instead, you find stuff like this:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Sovereign Citizens" think they're above our laws

I just have time for a short blog this morning, so I'll point you to a disturbing new trend:
'Screw with Their Faith and They Will Kill You': The Strange, Obsessively Anti-Government Sovereign Citizen Movement Makes a Comeback
It seems there's been an underground movement called "sovereign citizens" who reject the authority of our government. With the election of a Black man who is also a Democrat, these people are gaining adherents.

They don't believe in taxes, social security numbers, or even that our laws apply to them. They're "sovereign" in their own eyes. Scary stuff.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Good News! Druids are Officially Recognized by Britain

Well, it's about time! Druidism (sometimes inaccurately called "tree worshipers") finally became an officially recognized religion in its own homeland. Britain's Charity Commission for England and Wales gave them charity status. Why did it take so long?

Or maybe the more sensible question we should be ask is whether any religion should be given charity status (here in the United States, we call it non-profit status). Why is religion given any special treatment at all?

Here in the USA our Constitution has a special rule

Friday, October 1, 2010

One Nation Under God Stays ... For Now

Our friends over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) have lost another small battle in their long war to free us from government intrusion into our religious beliefs.

The FFRF sued the Architect of the Capitol, the government architect responsible for designing the new Capitol Visitor Center in Washington D.C. because the Architect had put "In God We Trust" in the center along with an engraving of the Pledge of Allegiance which contains the words "under God." The case was thrown out on a technicality – FFRF failed to show that it had been financially injured as a taxpayer.

I think the real problem is that no judge wants to be the one to throw out the Pledge. Any judge who had the courage to enforce the plain language of our Constitution