Atheist Christmas

December 15, 2009

Today’s Toronto Star has an article about how atheists have to “grapple” with Christmas; that the religious aspects of Christmas are just too much for us to handle.

This is, I think, part of a larger idea that atheists are incapable of enjoying anything having to do with the notion of god or religion, which is nonsense; you can watch and enjoy Star Trek, all the while knowing that Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are not real. So too, I can enjoy ‘Silent Night’ as a nice piece of music, while still content with the knowledge (self-evident, I would think) that a virgin did not give birth to a holy infant.

Secondly, Christmas is not simply a religious holiday; indeed, did you ever stop to wonder why it falls on December 25th? Do you really believe this is the actual birthday of Jesus? Or is it, perhaps, simply that pagan religions had been celebrating the winter solstice for millenia , and early Christians wanted in on the action too?

But that, too, is irrelevant; I enjoy Christmas because it is a time of year to take a break from the craziness of the world; to step back, to enjoy time with friends and family, to simply relax.

No ‘grappling’ required.


In which I, inexplicably, defend Stephen Harper

July 8, 2009

Yes, it’s true. I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit, but I really am defending the actions of our Prime Minister.

It seems that while attending the funeral of former Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc, Stephen Harper was caught on video accepting a communion wafer and, gasp, putting it in his pocket instead of immediately consuming the body of Christ right then and there. Well, today must have been one heck of a slow news day because this made the front (web)page of most Canadian news outlets.

The argle-bargle (fooferaw?) results, of course, from the long-standing tradition of religious people getting all uppidy when other people don’t consider the same things sacred as they do. Roman Catholics are outraged because they believe the cracker, once “consecrated”, becomes the literal body of Christ (usually to be washed down with the blood of Christ, in the form of communion wine). By not consuming the cracker, Mr. Harper is offending the religious sensibilities of Catholics. The story goes something like this: Catholics think the cracker is sacred, and so, therefore, must everyone else. At the very least, those of us who are not afraid to call a cracker a cracker (ummm…) must treat the cracker with a certain amount of respect that would not ordinarily be afforded to other pieces of unleavened bread.

Nonsense.

Stephen Harper was under no obligation to do anything with that cracker. If he (or I) were actively preventing Catholics from eating their holy cracker, THAT would be grounds for anger. But he was not interfereing in anyone’s ability to practice their (ridiculous) religion as they deemed fit. If Mr. Harper had, say, taken the cracker home, driven a nail through it, and then tossed it in the garbage, that would be his right. Catholics might not like it, but I’m afraid that’s the price you pay to live in a liberal democracy.

Of course, in the end, Stephen Harper ate the cracker, which is a bit odd. He’s not Catholic, and as far as I know, Catholics have a very well-enforced “Catholics only!” policy on these things. Perhaps they shouldn’t have offered it to him in the first place, or perhaps he should have declined. I don’t really know. This is the most ridiculous non-news piece of news I’ve heard in a long time.

Bottom line of how this should all go: Catholics, go ahead and delude yourself into thinking cracker = Jesus, and we here in realityland wont get in your way, so long as you don’t get in our way of making merciless fun of your ridiculous superstitions.

K?


The most densely packed stupid in the universe

April 24, 2009

The Family Institute of Connecticut*** has posted the following ad in the Connecticut Post. Be prepared to feel the stupid:

gayad

I…just…whaaaaaaat??

Let’s go through this slowly:

“Same-Sex Marriage Bill 899 will deny citizens their religious rights.”

How, exactly? Religious groups are protected from all kinds of things that us bad atheists have to deal with; you know, things like taxes and hate laws. And I haven’t parsed the details of Connecticut’s Bill 899, but I would assume it doesn’t have a mandatory same-sex marriage clause. Does it really force people to marry within their own gender?

“Schools that wish not to teach gay marriage will have no choice in the matter.”

Ahhh, I have such fond memories of my high school man-on-woman marriage classes; those were the days. I sure am glad I learned how to opposite sex marry all those years ago!

“Church groups who won’t comply will be punished by the government.”

You mean, groups that pay absolutely no tax and distribute books that are filled with the most vile garbage (which would land the rest of us in jail for promoting hate) are upset that they might have to follow the law and marry people who are legally entitled to do so? Pshaw!

“Business will have to close their doors.”

Well, perhaps the wedding planners will have to close their doors for one day while they finally get to marry their long-term partners. But they’ll be back open the next day, ready to help grant others the same right.

I sure am glad that the FIC produced this ad. I finally “get” it; same-sex marriage isn’t about ending discrimination and providing everyone with the same rights. This Connecticut bill isn’t about bringing the state in line with a growing cohort of other western democracies that have seen fit to end this type of discrimination.

Nah! It’s about making sure that religious people don’t have to think about icky things like same-sex marriage, and get to keep on foisting their Bronze Age morality on the rest of us.

Thanks, FIC!

*** – Have you ever noticed that if a group has the word ‘family’ in its title, it is invariably evil? Just sayin’…

Thanks to Friendly Atheist for the original link


Pope Visits Africa; Unimaginable Slaughter Continues

March 17, 2009

The Pope is visiting Africa this week, where he continues to spread his message of hate, ignorance, and stupidity.

First up, the HIV/AIDS epidemic that currently kills over 2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa each year (see http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/HIVData/GlobalReport/2008/ for more details).

There is absolutely no question that sexual abstinence is the best mechanism through which an individual can avoid getting infected with HIV. Abstain from sex and avoid I.V. drug use, and you’re virtually guaranteed not to get infected.

The smack-me-in-the-face-because-it’s-so-fucking-obvious problem with this is that people don’t abstain from sex. Human beings are human beings, and the human sex drive is strong. So how do we get around this little problem? Simple; we teach people how to have sex safely; to avoid risky behaviour, and to use condoms. Condoms are not as effective as abstinence, naturally; but they’re one hell of a lot more effective than nothing at all.

So if the Pope cares about ending human suffering, he should be championing the use of condoms, right?

Of course not. The Pope believes that the invisible creator of the universe disapproves of condoms; the Pope believes that the alleviation of suffering that would surely come from increased condom use is less important than ensuring that Yahweh is kept happy. Actually, the Pope believes that condom use wouldn’t alleviate suffering at all:

“You can’t resolve [the HIV/AIDS epidemic] with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon, where he will begin a seven-day pilgrimage on the continent. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

Perhaps the Pope would like to expand on exactly how condoms “increase the problem”? If the problem is pissing off the god of Abraham, then I imagine he’s right. If the problem is the >2 million Africans dying needlessly each year, then the Pope is hopelessly, murderously wrong.

The accumulating evidence tells us that abstinence-only sex education does not lower incidence rates of HIV and STD infection or rates of sexual activity.

This whole episode once again demonstrates the fundamental problem with religion; religion places concern for the sensibilities of imaginary gods above those of real flesh-and-blood human beings. I should point out that I have no doubt that there are deeply religious people who support the distribution of condoms in sub-Saharan Africa; these people, while doing great work, did not arrive at this state by way of their faith, but by way of their secular concern for human suffering (I’ll take what I can get, while noting that religion gives bad reasons to do good things, when good reasons are available).

This episode also highlights the impossibility of practicing religion in a vacuum. The Pope is free to believe whatever nonsense he wants to. Other rank-and-file Catholics are free to believe whatever they want; they’re free to go to church on Sunday and eat and drink Jesus and listen to a bunch of hateful crap. They’re also free to donate money to the Catholic church, the official position of which (and the one that is acted upon by its high-ranking officers in the Vatican) is that the slaughter of millions of Africans is preferential to a solution with known efficacy. Have you given money to the Catholic church lately? If so, you are participating in this, no matter what your personal beliefs about condom use are.

When are we going to grow up? When are we going to start demanding evidence for our beliefs before we sacrifice millions of lives? When are we going to see these allegedly “moderate” Catholics rise up and stop supporting a murderous organization like the Vatican? If moderate religion is the answer (which I strongly believe it is not), then lets see it. If I’m painting religion with too broad a brush, let someone come forward and explain to me how they, as a believer, are fighting against not just the killing in Africa, but against the organizations that are committing the slaughter. Religious moderates: the world can no longer endure your silence.


Embryonic Stem Cell Research Back On; God Pissed

March 9, 2009

President Obama has announced that US federal funding will resume for embryonic stem cell research. Burn victims, suffers of Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, heart disease, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and any number of other horrific conditions have moved one small step closer to having their daily pain ameliorated.

Meanwhile, Kansas Senator and general all-around real-good-Christian-type Sam Brownback, says:

“If an embryo is a life, and I believe strongly that it is life, then no government has the right to sanction their destruction for research purposes.”

Nothing like moral equivocation between the demonstrable, quantifiable pain experienced by millions of sentient people around the world each and every day for the rest of their lives and the “destruction” of an otherwise-non-viable mass of cells. Nothing like comparing the agony that families have to go through watching their loved ones die a slow, excruciating death to the termination of a pregnancy.

A fine example of just how religion replaces real moral values (like trying to lift the suffering of your fellow humans) with imaginary ones (like trying to do the will of your particular version of the invisible creator of the universe).


No evidence for Santa? I disagree…

December 15, 2008

Reposted from Pharyngula:
santa_vs_god-1

I’ve seen Santa in at least four different malls this year. He’s been on TV, in the newspaper, and on the radio. And he got me that red shovel I wanted when I was four.

No evidence for Santa? Pshaw…

EDIT: I should give recognition to ureasonablefaith.com for the original graphic…


This is what 77 Canadian lives buys

January 23, 2008

This is digusting. Seriously.

An Afghan student and journalist has been sentenced to death .

And what did Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh do to deserve this punishment? He was, according to the BBC, “downloading material from the internet relating to the role of women in Islamic societies.”

This, according to the Afghan courts, is tantamount to blasphemy, which, naturally enough, is deserving of the death penalty.

77 Canadian lives*** (and thousands from other nations) have been lost during the war in Afghanistan, and for what? So that we could replace one batch of religious nutcases with another? ‘Enduring Freedom’, my ass. No party will get my vote in the next election unless it calls for a withdrawl from this mess.

Why must we keep humanity, which is capable of so much, captive in arms of religious myth? Wake up, folks. It’s the 21st century here. Religion is not harmless; it is a powerful weapon precisely because the vast, vast majority of the world’s inhabitants cannot see its inherent ridiculousness. People are dying today because of differing opinions about the invisible sky monster. As Sam Harris has put it, if people were killing over the relative superiority of Windows Vista vs. MacOS X, or Apples vs. Oranges, it would be no more ridiculous than the situation in which we find ourselves.

It’s all fun and games to laugh at the stupidity of creationists, or make light of the beliefs that keep certain people from eating certain meats, or from flicking a light switch on certain days of the week. While our collective intelligence may be insulted (and, in the case of the ridiculous notion of creationism/ID, collectively reduced) by these things, they, in and of themselves, do little harm.

But let us not forget that this sorry exhibition is what religion is really all about. When you believe, really truly believe, that the creator of the universe is insulted by certain web pages, and that the mere viewing of this material constitutes the highest form of insult to the diety, nothing can convince you otherwise. And until such time as we, as supposedly intelligent, secular countries are prepared to stop killing ourselves to defend this barbarism, we will never escape the claws of religion. Until we are able to say “religion is bunk, and here’s why”, we will never be truly free.

Religious moderates have no excuse. They facilitate this madness by asking; no, demanding that we give “respect” to their views on the creator of the universe. Enough is enough.

Religion. poisons. everything.

*** – As of yesterday, it’s now 78, and counting.