Archive for the 'Christian fundamentalism' Category

An atheist argument for teaching religion in school

This video is of a short but fantastic lecture given at the famous TED lectures in California by Dan Dennett.   The lecture makes a compelling case why we atheists should support the teaching of religion in schools (with Dennett’s caveat, of course, that ALL religions are taught and that instruction be factually-based).

As a product of Ontario’s publicly-run Catholic education school system from kindergarten up until my first year of university, I do have to say that while I hated catechism class and found it terribly brainwashing, Dennett does make a very strong case.

Looking back, I can see that the one religion class of my entire pre-university schooling which I actually enjoyed was the one which was taught without bias and which was geared towards exactly what Dennett is talking about — all world religions.  This class helped lay the foundations for me to understand the ability of religion to manipulate society and opened my eyes to many issues and topics which still continue to influence my research.  And that was just one short class.

Maybe we athiests have been going about it all the wrong way?  Maybe we shouldn’t be trying to ban religion from the classroom, but should try instead merely to get away from the parochial cuius regio, eius religio by presenting a complete anthropological account of religion stripped of its dogma?

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For Dan Dennett’s TED lecture, click here.

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For the TED website with links to other very interesting lectures on Technology, Entertainment and/or Design, click here

Richard Dawkins answers a question

In keeping with the deliciously heathen & atheistic track I’ve been on as of late, I’ve been getting my daily dose of Richard Dawkins when I came across this video clip.

How much would it suck to be the student who asked this question?

For those interested, the other installments of heathens-‘r’-us, are:

Is organized religion still good for society?

Geology makes baby Jesus cry…

In defense of Atheism (with the complete, 2-part BBC documentary of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion)

Proof that organized religion stops critical thinking

Creationism is Bullshit! & The Bible is Bullshit! (with complete episodes of Penn & Teller’s television program Bullshit!)

Creationism is Bullshit! & The Bible is Bullshit!

For your viewing pleasure, here are two episodes of Penn & Teller’s TV show “Bullshit!”. The first episode is “Creationism is Bullshit!”. The second is “The Bible is Bullshit!”

Now, I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Penn & Teller’s brand of Libertarianism, however their irreligiousness and their magic shows, I can definitely get behind.

In terms of the first video on Creationism, I think the episode was great, but could have been so much better had they interviewed Elliott Sober.

If you want to read the absolutely definitive work on why Intelligent Design is neither a scientific theory nor a viable alternative to evolution, I strongly recommend you read his chapter in the book Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Religion (edited by William Edward Mann).

Sober’s piece uses pure logic and mathematics to prove that the arguments of Intelligent Design theorists like Michael Behe (who does a lot of work on so-called ‘irreducible complexity’) are exemplars of a poverty of thought.

If you don’t have time to read Sober’s article (lazy bastards! lol), I’ll relay my favourite part of the chapter.

Basically, he proves, using Beye’s Theorem, that the argument for God’s existence based on Irreducible Complexity (or arguments based on other observed phenomenon such as ‘cosmic design’) are tautological, circular and useless.

For you math people in the crowd, basically it goes like this:

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Now if you didn’t follow that, don’t worry, I probably wouldn’t have either. But read the chapter and then you can impress your friends by throwing that out there.

Anyway, without further adieu, I give you the glorious sacrilege:

Penn & Teller: Creationism is Bullshit!

Penn & Teller: The Bible is Bullshit!

 

Proof that organized religion stops critical thinking

Regardless of one’s opinion of Bill Maher — and most objective analyses would most likely agree that there’s plenty worthy of criticism — he did make a very interesting, yet admittedly highly contentious point in this appearance on Scarborough Country that is worthy of further consideration:

Now it’s a bit rich for Scarborough to gloss over the fact that Muslim nations beget Muslim children and Christian nations beget Christian children and that this isn’t merely a coincidence, but let’s ignore that fact for now. 

Nevertheless, there’s a very simple way of examining Maher’s point.  Indeed there is an even more simple way to achieve this end than by throwing around pesky ‘facts’ and ‘arguments’. 

We can test Maher’s hypothesis by examining the utterances of one of the intellectual founders of monotheistically-inspired philosophy:  namely, the Christian philosopher St. Augustine.

Simply put, “By their words, ye shall know them…”

Continue reading ‘Proof that organized religion stops critical thinking’

New political images & old school propaganda

The Paulitics Political Images resource has been updated.  I’ve included some good World War II propaganda (some of which at first glance appear to outrageous as to be fake, but, sadly, are not) as well as some just plain political images that aren’t propaganda and some early socialist ‘propaganda’ (however, due to my bias, on this latter subject I do not use the term pejoratively).

Enjoy (and I mean that facetiously).

world_october_revolution_poster.jpg   reason-is-the-enemy-of-religion.jpg   italian-wwii-fascist-propaganda.jpg   smash-the-old-world-establish-a-new-world.jpg

Click here for the Paulitics Political Images resource

In defense of Atheism

Richard Dawkins,  a man once voted the third most influential living public intellectual (Click here for the entire list), has been getting a lot of press lately over his new book The God Delusion

While the press reaction, as expected, has been largely negative, Channel 4 in the UK permitted the airing of two 45-minute long documentaries composed by Dawkins in defense of Atheism. 

It took me forever to track complete versions of these documentaries down (Youtube had them split up into I think 8 or 10 videos), but I was finally able to find complete videos of the documentaries on Google Video. 

There’s much in these documentaries that is worth discussing and, frankly, I don’t even know where to begin.  However, that said, I did find it interesting that Dawkins seems to take the stance, in the first part, that religion has always been undesirable whereas I’m on record (here) as noting that religion was once a social virtue, but that it has long since evolved to become a hindrance not only to the furthering of human knowledge and understanding, but also to our continued harmonious co-existence with one another. 

So, without further adieu, I present to you the complete, uninterrupted documentary: The God Delusion

Part I

Part II

Comments?  Statements?  Outbursts?

Geology makes baby Jesus cry…

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Bush administration comes up with this gem.

As a part of a series of pro-creationism edicts handed down by the Bush Administration’s appointees heading the National Parks Services, such as Mary Bomar, employees at the Grand Canyon National Park now must answer “we don’t know” if they’re asked how old the Grand Canyon is.  That’s right, due to the belief that the Grand Canyon was caused by Noah’s flood, if you go there and ask an intelligent question such as “was the Grand Canyon created in the Milocene geological epoch or the Pliocene epoch?”, despite all the scientific evidence, the employees have been directed to either answer “no comment” or “we don’t know”. 

But here’s the kicker… it gets better!  The Guardian Newspaper based out of the UK is has reported here that, in addition to this directive for employees to spew factually incorrect information (we DO know when the Grand Canyon was created and there’s ample evidence to prove it), the Grand Canyon book store is now selling a book which openly claims that “the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces.”

But wait…. it gets even better still

Continue reading ‘Geology makes baby Jesus cry…’

Is organized religion still good for society?

First, allow me to reiterate (if the title of this post wasn’t clear enough) to those in the organized religion crowd who may be reading this, that I am not speaking about whether religion is good for you personally.  I have plenty of friends who are devoutly religious (I grew up in a small town, so that’s to be expected) who never pass up an opportunity to explain to me that their religion is a ‘friendship with Jesus’ and that it has completely transformed their lives.  So if right now you’re drafting an e-mail/blog post to me that makes that argument or a variation of it, you’re missing the point. 

Here, I’m talking about the benefit of organized religion from a social or anthropological perspective.

Continue reading ‘Is organized religion still good for society?’


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