Tag Archives: religion

Two Fun Things to Do in London

Program new autocorrects into all the iPhones at the Apple store:

Cover up the top hole in the saltshaker and shout ‘It’s a miracle!’

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Scientology is Good For You

There’s no point in arguing with stuff like this:

Some of the other students told [Anne Archer] that Katselas was a Scientologist, so she began the Life Repair program at the Celebrity Centre. “I went two or three times a week, probably for a couple of weeks,” she said. “I remember walking out of the building and walking down the street toward my car and I felt like my feet were not touching the ground. And I said to myself, ‘My God, this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’ve finally found something that works.’ ” She added, “Life didn’t seem so hard anymore. I was back in the driver’s seat.”

It’s easy to attack Scientology as bananas because of the aliens and the volcanoes and the shunning, but there’s no denying that it, like every other religion, has been a positive influence in a great number of lives.

The real problem, it seems to me, isn’t Scientology as such. It’s the wide range of purposes we expect religions to fulfill.

Pretty much every Western religion gives gives you four things at once:

  1. A moral worldview (In Christianity it’s stuff like the 10 commandments, the golden rule, etc)
  2. A narrative of how you got here (God created the world, Adam and Eve, the flood, etc)
  3. A program of self-improvement (strive to become a more kind and graceful husband, father, worker, etc)
  4. A community of like-minded believers (church potlucks, however you feel about Judeo-Christian religions, are off the chain)

We make fun of Scientology because of its historical narrative, but we forget that the bonkers-ness of its creation myth doesn’t disqualify it from delivering genuine benefits in the other categories. Reading this mammoth New Yorker piece, a lot of the self-helpy components of Scientology actually sound pretty Oprah: work hard, think positively, avoid negative influences, strive for self-defined objectives, etc. The whole ‘auditing’ thing, which sounds weird from far away, is pretty much the same as therapy or, for that matter, confession. Regardless of why you do it, you’re probably better off when you have someone to speak intimately and regularly with.

The problem with Scientology, of course, is that if you want the self-help and community stuff you have to sign up for the aliens and the OT levels and the culty ‘separate from your family’ stuff. You can’t pick out the useful parts and leave the counterproductive parts behind.

This  is what makes the atheist case against religion so difficult to make. In arguing against the bonkers stuff, you’re asking people to give up things that really do enrich their lives, give them meaning and make them better people. I’m not gangbusters about Born Again Christians at the societal level, but there’s a lot of people who managed to stop drinking or be better parents because they became one. Catholicism’s focus on helping out the most vulnerable in society  is a great principle and something more of us should strive for, and it’s really unfortunate that it comes bundled with the anti-evolution and misogynistic stuff from its other components.

It’s too bad that we haven’t managed to break off the components of religion into separate programs.  I would love to join a community of people trying to improve their lives and the broader society, for example, as long as I didn’t have to sign up for believing that the world hatched out of an egg or whatever. It’s my refusal to acquiesce to the moral and historical components that keeps me from getting the benefits of the others.

So we shouldn’t be arguing about whether Scientology is ludicrous. We should just encourage Scientologists to un-bundle the ludicrous stuff from the positive and community stuff. Christianity is still working on this after 2,000 years, so Scientology had better get started.

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I went to church for the first time in 10 years

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Aw cute, some people still think the church opposes gay marriage in good faith

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New York Times op-ed this morning:

We take very different positions on gay marriage. We have had heated debates on the subject. Nonetheless, we agree that the time is ripe for a deal that could give each side what it most needs in the short run. [...]

It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own.

So we gays are allowed to have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage. As long as they don't rub Evangelical Jack and Jesuit Jill the wrong way.

Most Americans who favor keeping marriage as it has customarily been would prefer no legal recognition of same-sex unions at either the federal or the state level, we believe that they can live with federal civil unions — provided that no religious groups are forced to accept them as marriages.

So, to recap: 'What do we want? Rights! When do we want em? Soon! Ish! Unless you don't want to!'   

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Look, Journa-Gay: Compromises like this, while vaguely interesting between bites of Corn Flakes, just cut a head off the bigot-hydra. As soon as you neutralize one of the justifications for Evangelical Yuck, they will just shit out another one.

First they hated you because you were going to molest their kids. Then they hated you because being gay was a choice and a sin. Then they hated you because you were promiscuous. Then they hated you because you wanted to settle down. Now they hate you because you're the bigot, potentially restricting their freedom to teach their kids that your nature makes you a cancer on the human race. Tomorrow they will hate you because you put mustard on your French fries, or because you pushed 'Avenue Q' into profitability.

There is no point in arguing logically or philosophically with bigots. The reasons behind gender and racial equality were just as good in 1810 as they were in 1920 or 1964. It just took a few generations for the bigotry-clouds to lift.

Lame compromises like this are like saying, in 1893: 'OK, you want to lynch us and we don't want to be lynched. Since both of us are intractable in our positions, how about we say that you only lynch us on Thursdays and Saturdays, and only if we really deserve it?'

That's riding hyperbole right to the Offensive County line, but when you believe you're right, and objectively are, it's insulting to read bullet-points laying out the dimensions of the appeasement of people who will always hate you. Fuck the Evangelitards. Gay marriage now. Geez.

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Atheism doesn’t really work as a movement

Or, How I Agree With This Guy I Guess But Does He Have To Be Such A Dick About It?

See?

[atheistbus.jpg]

Most political platforms aren't based on getting people to stop believing in something else. An ad campaign promoting atheism is like trying to convince people not to read their horoscopes in the morning paper. If religion is causing people to do things that are against their self interest (like giving their life savings to the church next to the Teriyaki Stop), or inspiring general retardation (like evolution denial, or Nickelback), then those should be the focus of the ad campaign, not the reason people are doing them.

In spite of the bible's thundering uselessness as a moral code, millions of people consider it some kind of 2,000-year-old Oprah, checking their behavior against psalms and parables to determine how to act on weekdays. You can't take the religion out of stupid people, but you can take the stupid out of religion.

Europe has achieved this rather handily: Most Europeans never go to church, snort Wall Street powder on weekends and appear to be inventing fresh deviant sex acts at the rate of one per music festival, all while considering themselves graceful and repentant. You don't get 'debates' on evolution or sex education here (sit down, Poland, you don't count) because people practice a Christianity that doesn't contradict the behaviors or beliefs we deem acceptable in a modern society.

So save your bus campaign money, Simon Cynic, and spend it on something more constructive. Like teaching the Queen of the Christians what Africa is.

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Evolution: 1, God: 0

I've never really understood the debate 'between' Evolution and Creationism. Just say that God invented evolution and let's be friends again.

As long as the fight continues, though, I might as well share this comic, which appears to be a response to a well-known YouTard explaining the reasons why the banana is irrefutable evidence that God created the heavens and the fruits.

 

Suck it, Genesis.

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“Rocks can’t evolve. Where did they come from, Mr. Darwin?”

If there's one upside to the rapidly metastasizing theocracy in my humble homeland, it's the sheer entertainment value. My brother in strident atheism, Brock, sent me a link the other day to the Creation Science Fair. This is an event which, as the triple-oxymoron name suggests, invites 'science' projects that prove God's existence. Here's the second-place winner in the middle school category:

"Women Were Designed For Homemaking": Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.

Do you reckon Jonathan's mom helped him put this blistering critique together? Or was her short ass too busy gathering dirty clothes and lactating?

I was also partial to other projects such as

"My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)" – Cassidy Turnbull (grade 5)

"God Made Kitty" – Sally Reister (grade 3)

"Pokemon Prove Evolutionism Is False" – Paul Sanborn (grade 4)

"Young Earth, Old Lies" – Melvin Knuth & Glenna Reher (grade 11)

"Thermodynamics Of Hell Fire" – Tom Williamson (grade 12)

You just have to respect any subculture that's based on denying things that are demonstrably true (Take a good look at your uncle, Cassidy. The link between him and a monkey might not be direct, but it's there). Just when you think that Scientologists have hogged all the Crazy Pie, the Christians come and cut off a reliably thick slice.

The best project, from my blasphemous perspective, is "Life Doesn't Come From Non-Life":

Patricia Lewis (grade 8) did an experiment to see if life can evolve from non-life. Patricia placed all the non-living ingredients of life – carbon (a charcoal briquet), purified water, and assorted minerals (a multi-vitamin) – into a sealed glass jar. The jar was left undisturbed, being exposed only to sunlight, for three weeks. (Patricia also prayed to God not to do anything miraculous during the course of the experiment, so as not to disqualify the findings.) No life evolved. This shows that life cannot come from non-life through natural processes.

Some would argue that three weeks isn't enough to give evolution a fair chance (and praying against it during the project is just harsh, Patricia), but remember, these people think the world was created in seven days. Three weeks for a lump of BBQ coal to grow into a velociraptor is positively generous.

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