Monday, February 28, 2011

The Jews were Pagans?

I had a weird dream ... I was transported back 4,000 years and got to meet Abraham, the patriarch of all Judaism and Christianity! It was so exiting ... I was about to find out the truth about the Judeao-Christian patriarch and God himself!

But ... it wasn't quite what I expected ... did you know he and his wife Sarah were pagans? Polytheists? What a shock...

It started like this...

"You must have been overwhelmed in the glow of God's love and kindness!"

"Actually, he was pretty harsh." said Abraham, stroking his beard. "You know, you have to be pretty careful what you say when He is around. He's got quite a temper."

"A temper? But He is a forgiving, loving God!"

Abraham gave a chuckle. "Who told you that, son? You should see what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah! And that business telling me I had to sacrifice my son? And only stopping me at the last second? That wasn't much fun."

"No, well ... I suppose not. But he was just testing you! And you were loyal! I'm so in awe. But he is God Almighty, and

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Report on Low Christian Divorce Rates: Deceptive Math

The Baptist news and blog world is abuzz with a new report that refutes the common "myth" that Christians get divorced a lot. It's been a great embarrassment to conservative Christians that for all their talk of family values and morality, they actually get divorced more than average. It was so bad that the Southern Baptist Convention even held a serious debate and adopted a resolution to try to address the problem.

But now this new study claims to refute the high-Christian-divorce-rate myth. The study purports to show that divorce rates actually go down as people become more and more devout Christians. The more they pray together, attend church together and are committed to God, the less likely they are to be divorced.

But hang on a minute there ... don't they have the cart before the horse?

The study's authors claim that they've taken into account all sorts of confounding factors, such as age, income and education. But what they failed to take into account is Christianity itself.

This study doesn't prove that Christians stay married. It's just as likely that Christianity drives people away who are having marital problems. The only ones left are the blissfully married Christians! And then along comes a statistician who starts counting noses, and lo and behold, devout Christians have a low divorce rate.

Big surprise.

Conservative Christian churches are very judgmental about divorce. They believe and teach that

Wrestler Christian Morals Prohibit Fight With Girl ... Or is he just afraid of her?

A high-school wrestler who forfeited a state-championship match against a female competitor claimed he was following his "Christian values."

Joel Northrum, the sophomore wrestler, said,
Wrestling is a combat sport, and at times it gets violent, and you get put in moves and holds that are comprising [sic]. I just don’t believe it's right that a boy and a girl should, in this manner, wrestle.
Joel's father Jamie Northrum added,
Even though there’s no specific Scripture that addresses wrestling with girls, there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity, and not looking at them as objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat to be, in some cases, groped or slammed.
This is nothing but a bunch of horse hooey if you ask me.

This is the worst sort of sexual discrimination. His opponent, Cassy Herkelman, had worked hard and competed fairly to get to the Iowa state championship. That's an impressive achievement for any student, male or female. And Ms. Herkelman had a right to be treated fairly by her opponents, to be given the a chance to win or to be defeated, just like any other competitor.

What Joel Northrum did wasn't respectful. He took away Ms. Herkelman's rights. He took away her right to be treated fairly and

Monday, February 21, 2011

Canadian Christians Just as Discriminatory as Americans?

I've always thought of Canada as a bit more progressive than the United States. Their health care is way ahead of ours, and they don't go around blowing up other countries for no reason.

But apparently the Canadian Christians (in this case, it's mostly Catholics) take their cues straight from the same playbook as Americans. When it comes to religious discrimination, they're in the big leagues.

The city council of Saguenay, Quebec refused to take a crucifix down from the City Council's chambers. It took a lawsuit from a local atheist and a court order to settle the issue. But is it settled? No. The mayor still refuses to take the crucifix down! Not only that, he's vowed to fight the court order and has started privately gathering funds for the battle.

But what's even more amazing is that he's claiming discrimination!
"Why is it us Christians that always have to bend?" [Mayor] Tremblay told the Globe and Mail newspaper. "Our values have no importance. I am the first mayor in the history of the world to be punished for reciting a prayer."
Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but Christians have been killing each other for 2,000 years for

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nice Sunday Story: Churches Welcome Gays

Here is a nice story for a beautiful Sunday morning, about Christian churches that accept gays and lesbians.

It's about a growing number of churches that welcome the LGBT community, especially young teens who are discovering their true sexuality. Rather than condemning LGBT Christians, they take the truly Christian path and welcome them without reservation.

It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of religion, but at the same time, I know it's very important to many of my friends and family. Our societal discrimination against gays and lesbians makes the self-discovery process for many gay and lesbian teens a very traumatic time. And that tragedy is doubled when their own churches reject them and tell them they're sinners just because they want love.

That's why it's so nice to read that things are changing.

Back in the mid-1900s homosexuality was almost 100% "in the closet" and churches

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scientology Under Attack: Hollywood Screenwriter Defects

My talk last night at Rational Thought at UCSD was a lot of fun – thanks again to Jonathan Whitmore and the whole group for inviting me!

Time is short today so I'll just leave you with this link:
The Apostate Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.
Paul Haggis was the screenwriter for two of my favorite movies, Crash and Million Dollar Baby. Like most Hollywood Scientologists, he fell for their bogus religion but never checked into their history. But when prominent Southern California Scientologists came out in support of the anti-gay Proposition 8 bill, Haggis hit the roof. One thing led to another, and now Haggis is really causing them some trouble.

It's a great story, and I hope Haggis (and other defectors like him) continue to expose the lies of this pseudo religion.

(I've written about Scientology several times previously.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Big Stink over Malawi Farting Ban ... a racist meme?

An amusing story has been making the rounds: Malawi is banning public farting!

I have to confess that I fell for this story when I first saw it. But then I thought, "Wait a second ... you're supposed to be the meme expert. Are you falling for this without even a little skepticism?" This Malawi farting-ban story has all the earmarks of a classic viral meme. I suspected there was more myth than truth in this amusing story.

And I was right: it's just an amusing myth that grew out of a twisted version of the truth. But the success of the "Malawi farting-ban meme" turns out to have some interesting racist overtones.

I don't know about you, but I didn't even know exactly where Malawi is. I had to look it up – it's in southeast Africa.

Just a couple mouse-clicks revealed the true story, which is far less interesting than the farting-ban meme. The real story (from the BBC) is that Malawi is trying to curb air pollution. The language of the bill reads:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Aaack! St. Valentine is a Fake!

I thought today would be great day to do a blog about St. Valentine. You know, my usual sarcastic stuff, maybe make a joke about how God wants you to be in love but not be lovers.

But to my dismay, I discovered that St. Valentine is a fake! He never existed!

Or more specifically, there were actually something like fourteen martyred saints in ancient Rome named Valentinus, which means worthy, strong or powerful (from valens). It was just a popular name, nothing more.

What's more, we know almost nothing about any of them. We don't know why the Romans

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Talking at UC San Diego Rational Thought on Wednesday

For all of my faithful Southern California readers, I've been invited to speak at Rational Thought at UCSD on Wednesday.
Title:Is Religion's Incredible Hold on Humanity Predictable?
Speaker:Craig A. James, author of The Religion Virus
Date:Wednesday, Feb 16th at 6:00 PM
Location:2nd floor of Price Center West
Eleanor Roosevelt Room
University of California, San Diego
(near intersection of Gilman Drive and Myers Drive)
It's a concept I've been developing for the last few months: the rise of religion isn't surprising at all. Once we understand the basic tenets of cultural evolution, how ideas form, evolve and spread, we discover that religion is an inevitable side-effect of human civilization. It would be surprising to find a society that wasn't religious.

What's more, religion, like all evolving entities, has a tendency to become better and better adapted to its environment – your brain – to the point where it's become very tenacious indeed. Most of the mysteries of the world that first inspired religion have long since been demystified by science and technology, and yet the religious beliefs persist.

I look forward to seeing you there. UCSD rules don't allow me to sell books on campus, but I'll be happy to autograph copies that you bring with you.

See you there!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Environmentalism: Bad for your Soul, God Will Fix Everything

I'm often asked, "Why do you care about religion so much? Why not live and let live?" Even my own sister asked me this once. The answer is simple: I care because religion fosters ignorance, and ignorance can destroy the world.

Today I stumbled on a perfect illustration: Resisting the Green Dragon.
"A Biblical Response to One of the Greatest Deceptions of our Day

Without a doubt one of the greatest threats to society and the church today is the multifaceted environmentalist movement. ... Environmentalism has become a new religion ... devastating to the world's poor ... threatens the sanctity of life ... Resisting the Green Dragon takes its cue from James 4:7 ... Learn how the Bible powerfully confronts environmental fears and how – in God's wise design – people and nature can thrive together.
The reality is that atmospheric scientists, the ones who actually do the science, have almost nothing to gain personally from their discoveries. They're just doing science because they love it and it's a living.

But's introductory video claims environmentalism is trying to put the entire world under its "destructive control." They believe global warming is a massive conspiracy of fear mongering designed to put scientists in charge of the world and to replace God with a new pagan Earth-worship. They seriously claim that there is no global warming, the environment is fine, and that overpopulation isn't a problem.

Worst of all, they believe God has a plan and won't let us destroy the Earth.

It's almost like they think we're little kids learning to ride a bike, with God running alongside to catch us if we lose our balance. We can use and abuse the Earth as we please, and God will take care of us.

This is why religion is dangerous. It teaches people to be irrational, to ignore scientific evidence, and to hope for miracles that will never come. If these people were in charge, we really would destroy the Earth's environment. Luckily they're not in charge.

But they aren't powerless. Their well-crafted propaganda is available on DVDs, and the influence of groups like is a serious impediment to solving the world's problems. These guys are the enemy of civilization.

"But wait," you say, "those guys are a bunch of nutjobs. You're painting all religions with a single brush! Most Christians, Jews and Muslims are more sensible. Don't lump us all in with these extremists!"

And it's true. I shouldn't paint all religious people with one brush. I know that some

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

God Made the Big Bang? Does Pope Understand Complexity Theory?

I know the Pope isn't a scientist, but he claims to support science. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church even sponsors evolution conferences! But does the Pope and his the Vatican bureaucrats listen to those scientists, or is it all just for show?

The Pope once again reminded us that even though scientists might be right about the Big Bang, it was God who caused the Big Bang in the first place.
"The universe is not the result of chance, as some would want to make us believe. Contemplating it (the universe) we are invited to read something profound into it: the wisdom of the creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God."
Sorry, your holiness. There's a fundamental principle in nature: Entropy. You can't make a perpetual-motion machine, and you can't create complexity from nothing. A machine that produces energy requires more energy to feed it, and a system that produces complexity also requires energy to feed it.

Here on Earth, the development of life, including our incredibly complex brains, was driven by a staggering influx of solar radation. The sun pours 1.2 gigawatts (that's a billion watts) of energy per square kilometer of Earth. When you consider

Monday, February 7, 2011

Australian Atheists: Stand Up and be Counted!

I spotted an article about a new atheist campaign in Australia calling on Australian citizens to "come out" with their non-belief. This is a fabulous idea, one that we Americans should emulate:
The Atheist Foundation of Australia has begun a campaign calling on those whose faith has lapsed to mark ''no religion'' on their census forms this year - with West Pennant Hills slated to host a billboard before August 9.

The 8.3 metre by 2.2 metre sign on Pennant Hills Road and another in Armidale will make a month-long appearance from June 20. Despite the location, the foundation's president, David Nicholls, said the campaign did not intend to attack religion, but to counter the extent to which Australia was unduly claimed as a Christian country in decision-making and funding.
One of my more popular blogs (I still get emails about it several years later) was my Atheists, Get Out of the Damned Closet!, in which I encouraged atheists, a large percentage of whom were blogging anonymously, to declare themselves publicly.

Well, it's time for the American public to do the same. I think a campaign here in America

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Religion Virus gets Cred: The First Real Attack!

The worst insult one can get is to be ignored. When they can't ignore you any more, it's time to celebrate!

A few weeks back, Dr. R. Joseph Hoffmann, who teaches at the New England Conservatory in Boston, published a scathing "review" of both my book and The God Virus by Darrell Ray. I was excited ... perhaps this would be a chance to face a real opponent, one with a doctoral degree in philosophy and several books to his name!

Sadly, I was disappointed. It was a complete hack job, unworthy of such a well-educated opponent.

Hoffmann starts out with a cutesy poem, followed by three or four wandering paragraphs that question Dr. Ray's education as well as mine. Nothing like an irrelevant ad hominem attack to set the tone. Throw mud on the messenger; maybe it will stick to the message. (Just to set the record straight, I'm not a systems engineer; that's some other guy with the same name, and

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dishonest Christian: Dr. William Lane Craig Swindles Audiences

R. Brad White challenged me the other day when I called William Lane Craig (the famous Christian apologist) "devious and dishonest," and I promised to respond.

Dr. Craig's most offensive tactic is that he relies on the ignorance of his audience. He knows they're not trained in philosophy or deductive logic. He knows they're not trained in mathematics. He knows most don't know the Bible's history all that well (they know its contents, but not who wrote it and why) ... and so forth. And Dr. Craig uses his audience's ignorance, knowingly and deliberately. He knows he can confuse his audience with arguments they can't understand.

Dr. Craig counts on the fact that when his opponents prove him wrong, the argument will be too complex for the audience to comprehend.

As Russell "Kazim" Glasser wrote on Atheist Experience:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is God Afraid of Banks? Church Foreclosures in the News

Does praying to God work ... except for when the bank is after you? Maybe the banks have gotten so powerful that even God is afraid to meddle with them!

There has been a rash of stories lately about church foreclosures. Today it's the First Family Church in Overland Park, Kansas that's facing a $14 million overdue mortgage. DeKalb County Georgia may lose their oldest African-American church. Churches everywhere are being foreclosed at record rates.

Even Faux News, always ready to distort the news and make churches look saintly, published a major story, Dramatic Rise In Church Foreclosures Nationwide.

I joke about prayer, but this isn't about prayer or faith. It's just economics.