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A Letter to Frank Lucas: Vouchers, the educational apocalypse. May 27, 2011

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Dear Frank Lucas,

I would like for you to consider the negative ramifications of school vouchers. It is clear by all historian’s accounts that America was founded by many people of faith, most of which we can surely say were Christian, but it is also clear that our founders included specific language in our foundational documents to ensure that we would forever be a nation ruled without any religious preferences. I understand that it can be difficult for some politicians to set aside their religious convictions and that it becomes even more difficult when a people are so used to being in the majority and are told by their own books to spread their message, but I must request that this be done in the interest of America’s future as a united republic.

I believe that there are several possibly unforeseen outcomes that could arise from a decision to use tax payer money to pay for religious schooling; First, we must seriously consider that tax payer money may invariably go for children to be indoctrinated into other religions besides just moderate Christianity. These other religions will of course include radical Islam and possibly many other dangerous religions. I am sure moderate Christians and nonbelievers can both agree that this is not something we want taking place. We must also consider that Islam is a growing religion in America and it could stand to benefit from the vouchers in the future more so than any other religion. Would you rather have a newly arrived Muslim educated by America’s public school system or have them sent to an Islamic school that teaches that women should be submissive and shroud their entire body? Second, nonbelievers will have their freedom of religion, liberty, and pursuit of happiness violated by being forced to monetarily support the religious educations of others. I doubt that most Christians would want their hard earned money spent on teaching kids to not be Christians. This is really a matter of perspective. Those in the majority simply need to put the shoe on the other foot. Third, we must consider the unnecessary divisiveness that will grow by splitting our children into religious groups. Under our current system, children of all backgrounds are made to set aside their differences to come together for the common purpose of learning. Take this away and America could soon be faced with an increase of violent acts rooted in divisiveness. In final, our public education may be seriously flawed and in need of much more attention, but it is the public school system’s underlying principles of secular learning and equality that guarantees that we will continue to remain on the paths of enlightenment and unity. Because of all these concerns, I ask that you please do what you can to stop the implementation of school vouchers. Thank you for your time.

Douglas Adams and Me May 11, 2011

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A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. “But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?”
— Douglas Adams, paraphrase of a parable spoofing modern creationism that Adams often told, as retold by Richard Dawkins in “Lament for Douglas” (14 May 2001)

As a child, I spent a lot of time unknowingly reading books by a man that held a completely different and opposing worldview than nearly all of my friends and family. If it wasn’t for the humorous accessibility of Douglas Adams, I may have never managed to get a glimpse of true reality. I’m certain that if the Hitchhiker’s Guide had been titled the Radical Atheist’s Guide to Freethinking, I would have likely never been interested or allowed to read it. I was too young at the time to even realize it, but Adams planted the seeds for my escape from superstition and religion. In Adams’ ultimate wit and skepticism, I found a previously unknown ability and strength to look at things in a different light; A light that turned out to be perfectly clear and rationally illuminating. With nothing more than comedy and more than any scholarly “new” atheist, Adams cracked my near impenetrable and absurdly illogical religious indoctrination. I may mourn that Adams died far too young, but I find plenty of comfort in knowing that he got to live the only kind of life worth living; The enlightened life of a freethinker.

I know that he is gone, but for anyone listening; Thank you Mr. Adams. You did your part to make the world a much better place.

Combating Theocracy with Theocracy? May 11, 2011

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If the Religious Right really wants to turn America into a theocracy, I say we temporarily grant them that wish, but only if they are willing to take it to it’s logical ends. For a six month period, theocrats must sign into law every Biblical command, order, proclamation, and preference expressed by God in both the Old and New Testaments (God doesn’t change or make mistakes, so yes, even the Old Testament will count). Giving every American a six month taste of what a theocracy really looks like should beat some sense into people. It’s not like the majority of Americans really support theocracy, it’s more like the majority of Americans support apathy. The only real cure for apathy appears to be tyranny. Surely, even the most hardcore theocrat would come to their senses after spending six months in a nation overflowing with slavery, second class women, child brides, stonings on Sabbath, animal and human sacrifices, dashing babies against rocks, and capital punishment for adulterers.

Furthermore, based upon God’s actions in the Bible, we can ascertain what kind of place America would be with his holiness in charge. Take Las Vegas for instance, there would be a high probability that God would freak out at some point with all the evil sinners in the city and kill every man, woman, child, and fetus to display his disapproval. At some point and time, at least a few humans would be lucky enough to be chosen by God for some testing of faith, during which God would instruct the chosen humans to kill their children or chop off their genitals. I’m pretty sure that even theocrats would not be enjoying an America truly run by and for God, so maybe at this point we could collectively come together to shrug off our ancient propensities to rely upon and bow down to an invisible higher power.

So, come on theocrats. Get to it. How does six months to fully implement your theocratic nation sound? There’s only one caveat; Once you finally learn what it is you’ve done, we don’t want to ever hear about a Christian nation again. No more “One Nation Under God”. Deal?

Zombies need God too. April 28, 2011

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Isaiah 42:26 “I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.”

Considering all of the flesh eating, dead body raising, and nonsensical grunts and moans contained in the Bible, it’s a wonder that George Romero and Robert Kirkman aren’t having to pay royalties.

For many nonbelievers, it is impossible to escape the fact that zombies are a fairly accurate metaphor for people that willing shut off their thinking caps in the name of faith. It’s also an odd coincidence that many of these people also happen to symbolically feast on flesh and blood. I would argue though, that to truly be a lamb of God, one must first become a brain dead flesh eating zombie (God’s words, not mine). The Bible is rife with verses and commands supporting anti-intellectualism and if it is to be believed, God would appear to want zombies more than sheep.

Since most everyone knows about the traditions involving the Eucharist, I would like to briefly highlight God’s opinions regarding human zombification (aka anti-intellectualism). One must not look for long to find God’s first attempt at keeping man as a stupid pet animal, for instance; In Genesis, humanity’s very first mistake against God was the horrific act of simply seeking knowledge. Furthermore, the Old Testament also claims that people’s reasoning abilities are unreliable and deceptive. It goes as far to warn that: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Because the Old Testament commands that people should not rely upon their own intellect and understanding, Christianity has inherited a system by which few can escape. By teaching that we are incapable of truly understanding things, Christianity has given us a population of people that no longer see a need to even try. Not only can Christianity turn reasonable people into zombies, it can turn zombies into couch potatoes. At least zombies are motivated enough to seek out brrrrraaaiiiiiiiinnnsss!

What it all really comes down to though, is that the authors and editors of the Bible had very specific motives to their writings. There is one sure fire way to keep people in line and that is to get them to willingly shut down their reasoning powers. Can it be any wonder that governments all around the world have seized upon Christianity?

Religious Bullying: Vulnerability and Violence April 18, 2011

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Much can be learned by observing how a particular religion reacts to opposition. I wouldn’t dare guess what it is in particular that makes Religionists freak out and attack, but I can say with some certainty that it is their own vulnerability mixed with an extreme lack of empathy and a desperate need for attention that assists them in behaving in this manner.

When a Religionist lashes out or shoves their beliefs down your throat, there is really nothing taking place that differentiates it from bullying. Psychologists used to believe that bullying was caused by a person’s lack of self-esteem, but it is now widely agreed upon that most bullying is caused by narcissism and a lack of personal responsibility. What in this world gives a person less personal responsibility than a savior based religion? Surrounded by frustration, anger, and like minded people, it would not take a person much effort to read the Quran and come away with a worldview that not only takes away personal responsibility, but also rewards someone for giving it up; hence virgins for suicide bombers.

Our reality has been so twisted by religious superstitions that we may be incapable of collectively pushing our way forward, but at the very least, if the civilized world gets attacked again, we should really consider sending counselors instead of bombs.

Certainty: Set Us Free April 15, 2011

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For a group of people that are so convinced that they are correct, Religionists sure do seem to have a complex when it comes to allowing others to seriously consider what they believe. They seem to have an even greater complex in allowing others to freely determine whether they are convinced or not. If you are a person that has failed to be convinced, you can expect that there will be many attempts to you force into line. You can expect that there will be laws that say that you cannot hold office, money that says that you trust the Religionist’s god, a motto that says that you are living “Under God”, and many other attempts of making sure you don’t fall through the Religionist’s crack. Many Religionists like to say that we have free will, but they sure don’t seem to support that for nonbelievers. On closer examination, it appears more like we are being told that there is no escape from the appendages of religion. One must ask why Religionists need it to be this way. Could it be that someone is so unconvinced by their own beliefs that they feel a need for special exceptions to shore up their own doubts? Just a thought, but if Religionists ever expect to win over nonbelievers, they will only do so by first offering up an argument for the existence of god that is free of any and all coercion. Knowing the current arguments inside out, I highly doubt that they are even capable of it. Religionists would only have to compare their current Church and State violations with how oppressive regimes maintain power and they would see that their belief has become tyrannical and defeating of their own stated purposes.

Religion, Child Abuse, and Exposure to Adult Sexuality March 26, 2011

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Anyone that has ever read the Bible (I mean really read the Bible) knows that it contains some very explicit sexual content. In Genesis alone the Bible contains the following pieces of bad advice:

19:1-8 Rape virgins instead of male angels
24:2-3, 9 Place your hand “under the thigh” (sexual organs) of someone swearing sacred oaths
25:1-6 Keeping mistresses is not adultery

Since there are literally hundreds of sexually inappropriate Bible verses, should our children really be made to read them? Better yet, should children really be included in the debate regarding adult sexuality? Apparently, Westboro Baptist parents feel that they should. The Westboro Baptists regularly trot out their poor children to hold signs regarding what they view as sexual depravity. Surely, if they have instructed their children to hold up these signs, they have also explained to them what they mean. As a child welfare worker, I can say with certainty that when kids get exposed to adult sexuality, whether by accident or on purpose, they will have questions. Most kids simply do not have the context to understand things of a sexual nature. If Westboro parents are exposing their kids to the knowledge of adult sexuality, some at six or seven years old, and then using the Bible as a guidebook for explaining everything, their kids could be at serious risk. It’s not a stretch to say that a case could be made to show that Westboro parents are neglecting to protect their children’s welfare every time they parade them out with sexually explicit signs.

Isiah 36:12″…you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

Religion Must Go: Why Accomodationism Fails. March 22, 2011

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“The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” – Friederich Nietzsche

I won’t pretend that the following examples are fully representative of the current status between atheists and their religious opponents, though it could be argued that at one time or another these relationships have turned out pretty fucking bad for atheists. Religion, by it’s very nature, is an enemy to reason and thus an enemy to atheism. There are striking resemblances in the relationships of atheists and religionists to those of the Nazis and Jews, African Americans and the KKK, Islamic extremists and freedom, and Eminem and Vanilla Ice. I can say with reasonable certainty that none of the above named groups will ever be capable of buddying up for any extended period of time.

“I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out.” – Bertrand Russell

It is a matter of fact that certain groups of people are inherently in opposition to one another. Because the beliefs and values of these oppositional groups are so far divided, these groups will never be able to find a middle ground to work with. When I say that these groups will never be able to find middle ground, I’m speaking of the groups as a whole and not subsets or individuals in these groups. I know that it very common for individuals to set aside their differences, but I can’t imagine, under any circumstances, that the KKK is going to begin allowing African Americans in as members. I also can’t imagine that Christianity, or Islam for that matter, is capable of changing it’s stance on homosexuals, women’s rights, and atheists. Neither religion currently has the capability to edit out the hate filled verses aimed at these groups. I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable with accommodating a groups that feels that I should either be killed, shunned, or burning in Hell.

“Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration–courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth.”- H. L. Mencken

At this point, I’m not here to argue about who is right and who is wrong, I am simply trying to show that religion, as a whole, is incompatible with atheism. I say this, as I know that many people on both sides are wishing for a future where all sides are walking hand in hand. I fully admit that I often desire this outcome too, it’s just that it may never be possible. Even if I feel that it is highly unlikely, I can still hope right? Even though I admit that I don’t believe that there is chance for hand in hand cooperation, I am by no means calling for an end to the efforts and I am in no way saying our battle should ever resort to violence. What I do feel, much like Reagan’s stance on not negotiating with terrorists, is that atheists everywhere should be focusing more of their time on efforts that reduce religion’s power and sway. I’m not claiming to know what strategies work, but I can reason out that finding common ground is only going to take us so far. Even if atheism was able to mesh with religion, history has shown us that it will only be a matter of time before religion takes a new fanatical turn and we are again victimized by it’s violent dogmatic irrationality.

An unrelated, but awesome quote: “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find my self in – an interesting hole I find my self in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
– Douglass Adams

The twisting mind. March 16, 2011

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“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned” – Anonymous

Many claim that faith is a virtue. Many also claim that having faith is difficult to attain. If these statements were in fact true, why is it something that one month old can learn and why is it so difficult for man to live with such uncertainty? From a very early age, children learn to have faith in many things. Most children quickly learn to have faith in their parents, their enviornment, and their own body. It is through faith that children are able to comfort themselves in times of stress and need. Faith is so engrained into us that it becomes our default position. Faith is not in any way a skill. It is not considered a skill when we are good about trusting the sun to come up. It is however considered a skill when someone is able to figure out how and why the sun comes up.

Those of us that cannot seem to live without 100% faith, resort to religion when questions become too complex. If faith is easy, then religion is too. Religion is nothing more than the easy way out of complex questions. Religion is what happens when man desires answers, figures out that the some questions may be unanswerable, and decides to just give up on the quest for truth.

To not have faith and to be okay with not knowing is a skill far beyond that of faith. We are not, at any point in our infancy, taught to just be okay with things. For theists to propose that God must exist simply because they believe that nothing could ever come from nothing is the most extreme form of faith, for the theist also believes that there God came from nothing.

I have no idea about how we got here and I am certain that neither do theists. The biggest difference is that they cannot accept uncertainty. They would believe some of the most absurd things just to escape the uneasy feeling of the unknown. They would claim the existence of an always present invisible being before looking to the sky and proclaiming that maybe reality has always just been or at the very least proclaiming that maybe we will just never know. The thing that theists can never seem to get is that, just because atheists don’t have all the answers, they don’t get to fill in all of our gaps in knowledge with unfounded absurdities.

“To really be free, You need to be free in the mind” – Alexander Loutsis

Pope: The End December 24, 2010

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Why is it that all we hear any more from religious leaders are excuses for why they continue to behave so badly? A recent example of this is the Pope’s rationalization of child molestation. For those of you that may have missed it, his holiness implied that the reason for the molestation scandals had to do with child molestation not being seen as something that bad a few decades ago. This is known as the times were different argument, which is of course irrelevant in judging what is right and wrong in the present. I wonder if even the most devout Catholic will be able to buy into the Pope’s blatant attempt to excuse the actions of God’s army of pedophilliac priests. Even if someone has only a rudimentary understanding of healthy relationships, they can see that the relationships between the followers and leaders is becoming increasingly dysfunctional. When leaders start issuing excuses to get their followers to look the other way, it’s likely a good time to find a new leader. To follow the Pope’s line of logic, a white supremist could claim that they continue to discriminate against African Americans because racism and segregation were once the standard practices. Any sane individual, meaning those that are not blinded by religious indoctrination, can see that what the Pope is trying to do is really pretty fucking disturbing. The Pope is in no way special for having tried this tactic, as nearly all religionists try this at one time or another. With the Mormons, its always been to excuse their degrading doctrine towards people with black (brown) skin. With Muslims, it’s always been about Muhammed marrying and molesting very young children. With Scientologists, it’s always been about the fact that their religion sprang from an obvious work of science fiction. Between all of the gay bashing homosexual Meth addict preachers, the family values preaching cheaters, the completely honest tax evading creationist proponents, and all of the other men and women of faith that pretend to have superior morals while doing things that no humanist would ever consider doing, it is truly a MIRACLE that more followers haven’t asked themselves just what is going on here. If anything can be learned from all of the excuses as of late, it’s that religious leaders are desperately trying to maintain their stranglehold on humanity. To hear the Pope, on an almost weekly basis, throwing out absurd justifications for the horrific acts his organization has done to humanity, is like hearing the last breaths of someone the world could live without.