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Archive for the ‘secular humanism’ Category

Sam Harris on the Importance of Breaking Religion’s Spell

Posted by honestpoet on November 18, 2008

Here’s an excellent bit from the question and answer period after a debate with Rabbi Wolpe. I’ve been watching a lot of Mr. Harris on YouTube, and I have to say that I like him even more than Richard Dawkins. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dawkins, but, as an American, Harris is more aware of the need to speak with the religious politely and without snarkiness. Dawkins can come off a bit smug, which is a mistake when dealing with the American religious, who already feel beset and belittled, and whose defense mechanisms thereby fly up as soon as the subject is broached with any sort of superior attitude.

Here’s another bit: Sam Harris at the TruthDig conference, talking about how beliefs have consequences, and why the taboo on not examining religious beliefs needs to be lifted.

Here he is talking about the relative morality of various books of the Bible and what would happen if as a society we actually followed it.

And one more, at the Idea Festival in Aspen, where he disputes a lot of common misconceptions about atheism:

If you’d like to hear more of what he has to say, here’s the link to his website, which includes links to a number of articles and videos (including the full debate with Rabbi Wolpe). His thinking is even more in line with my own than Richard Dawkins’s. Dawkins and the rest of the recent crop of atheistic authors turn their backs on mystical experience, whereas Sam Harris, while approaching it as a skeptic, acknowledges that there’s something there to examine that could prove worthwhile, perhaps yielding up that which religions seek but never truly find, tied up as they are in their supernatural superstitions and dogmatism. He’s experienced contemplative states and acknowledges that they can lead to an increase in the ability to experience empathy and compassion, which are clearly in short supply these days.

A neurobiologist, he was motivated to start writing by the events of 9/11, and his focus is on the affect of beliefs on behaviors. Some people have painted him as some sort of warmonger Islamophobe, but that’s hardly the case when you read the suspect passages in context. Does he say that people holding the beliefs indoctrinated by Islam can be led therewith to bad behavior? Absolutely, but that’s hardly the same thing.

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Posted in atheism, Building a Better World, catholicism, Christianity, Christianofascism, climate change, economic crisis, evolution, feminism, freedom, fundamentalism, gay rights, genocide, global warming, hegemony, history, homophobia, Iraq, Islam, Jesus, Jews, Koran, language, literature, marriage, mental illness, misogyny, monoculture, morality, Muslims, peace, psychiatry, religion, religion and science, Richard Dawkins, ridiculous beliefs, science, secular humanism, secularism, skepticism, terrorism, the Bible | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Non-locality, quantum teleportation and the EPR paradox

Posted by majutsu on January 20, 2008

Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen wrote a paper in 1935 to try to prove that quantum mechanics was not a complete theory.  In classical mechanics, reality consisted of billiard balls rolling around on the pool table of space-time.  If the position, weight and speed of every particle were known at once, it would be possible to predict the future with perfect accuracy.  But quantum mechanics had replaced this clockwork view of the universe with a gambling God.  In quantum mechanics, a measurement on the same exact state did not produce the same result, half the time one thing would happen, half the time another.  Instead of definite variables with definite values, quantum mechanics had a roulette wheel of random outcomes in a given situation.  Furthermore, that inaccuracy seemed not to be due to some incompleteness of the theorem, but rather this vagueness was a fact of reality itself, made necessary by some sort of barrier to the depth to which we can peer into reality.  This barrier appeared to be caused by some sort of interaction between the measuring mind and the objective world, and this interaction was not open to investigation through physical experimental means.  This barrier is known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.  As noted above, in the classical view, if the position and momentum (mass times speed) of every particle were known at once, then everything from then on would be known with no uncertainty.  But nature places limits on us so that we cannot have such certainty.  It turns out that if we know the position, we cannot know the momentum accurately.  Or, vice versa, if we know the momentum, we cannot know the position accurately.  This necessary uncertainty has something to do with the fact the we are trying to gather all this information for our mind’s use.  Without a mind trying to correlate the momentum and the position, both can be measured accurately with no problem, but it is the mind’s involvement in the process that makes the variables we are trying to measure entangled.  These seemingly unrelated physical properties become entangled with mind stuff and are no longer free events.  Reality and outcomes of its measurement have been molded somehow by interaction with the observing mind.  Absolute determinism of the future is avoided because of this interaction with our universe.  Or another way to see it, without the mind there would be no free will.

So Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen wrote a paper which set up an experimental situation known as the EPR paradox.  Certain types of radioactive particles will decay into mirror image twin particles going in opposite directions.  So the twin particles resulting from the decay will have the same mass but equal and opposite momentums.  So let us imagine Alice on the west coast and Bob on the east coast.  We will put a radioactive emitter in the Midwest halfway between them so that the particles reach Alice and Bob at the same time.  So if Alice measures mass, she knows Bob’s particle has the same mass, so we know the mass of Bob’s particle from Alice’s measurement.  If Bob measures the momentum of the particle he gets, then we know the mass and momentum of Bob’s particle, violating the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, right?  It turns out that Bob is unable measure his momentum correctly.  Somehow Alice’s measurement of a particle on the west coast has an instant non-local effect on Bob’s measurement of a different particle on the east coast.  If Alice doesn’t make any measurement, then Bob is able to measure the position or the momentum as he pleases.  This is called a paradox because it violates our simple ideas about reality.

The EPR paradox is not just a what-if, but has been verified several times experimentally in the laboratory using polarized photons.  The EPR paradox and non-locality are a fact.  Quantum reality exists in states.  In the example we gave above, there are two states: [Alice knows momentum, Bob can’t know position], [Alice knows position, Bob can’t know momentum].  Either one of these states is possible initially.  It is Alice’s intent to correlate these two measurements, to have forbidden knowledge of the future, that instantly affects physical reality on the east coast where Bob is, so as to prevent that trespass of Alice’s.  It is therefore Alice’s will and mind that glue together at once points across the country and around the globe.  If we instead put Bob on Alpha Centauri, we can see that Alice actually affects the reality of the whole universe at once.

The non-locality and entanglement illustrated by the EPR paradox also make teleportation possible.  Another set of entangled variables (besides position and momentum) is the quantum spin on the x axis and the quantum spin on the z axis.  If we know the quantum state occupied by a particle, we may make a copy of that particle.  Knowledge of the full quantum state of a particle includes knowledge of its spin states.  If we can teleport one particle, we can do it with many, then a mouse, a dog, a cat or a human!  Normally we cannot know x and z spin at the same time because of their entanglement.  But instead of seeing entanglement as a barrier to an outdated view of the universe, we can use entanglement to achieve teleportation.  Here is how we can use quantum entanglement to make a copy.  Alice performs a x-spin measurement on her particle.  She sends the result of the measurement to Bob by classical means like a laser pulse (this can only be done at the speed of light or less so as to not violate relativity).  After Bob receives the measurement information, he opens his particle box, and performs his z-axis measurement.  The measurement itself will make a perfect copy of Alice’s particle appear in Bob’s locality after the proper quantum transformation.  This is called quantum teleportation.  Two papers of theory were written on this subject in 2004, and successful teleportation of atoms has occurred in the lab already.

To understand the EPR paradox and quantum teleportation, it is necessary to abandon the view that reality is made of chunks of space-time with the four forces (gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear) acting between two local, touching points in space-time.  Instead, all of reality is a complex vibration that may condense locally into certain physical objects with discrete bands of measured variables.  Like acoustic frequencies, the quantum state waveforms of reality are separated into discrete bands of frequencies by this condensation into physical objects and measurement by the mind, much like the equalizer on a stereo separates an audio frequency into response bands.  This discrete banding of waveforms makes measure variables in quantum physics have certain jumps in value which has been confirmed experimentally and is the source of the term quantum (meaning chunk, not smooth).  From the EPR paradox and non-locality, we learn that the whole universe is vibrating in unison at once, and at any point where mind acts, the color and sound of this wave changes at once in the whole universe, and the objects and measured properties that condense from this song are also changed at once to some degree at every point in space from then on.

Posted in consciousness, hallucinogens, illuminati, mysticism, science, secular humanism, Uncategorized, war on drugs, witchcraft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Song of Anat

Posted by majutsu on January 15, 2008

Please abandon fear. Realize that everyone is divine. We all live in a world spun of language, imagery, and sheer vibration emanating from us that we embed in every vase, wall, plant or animal around us. These beings, the company we keep in our heads and in the world we choose to live in, are fabricated out of the music of our hearts. The song we sing from the center of our skulls, deep in the pituitary, pumping out serotonin, neuroepinephrine, dopamine like a giant umbrella of psychedelic eminence, radiating pastel skies, rage, sadness and joy in undulating protrusions. Not only does this song ring in our ears as sound, but sings in our eyes as light, and our nose as smell. Hormonal waves ripple emotion and physical throbbing through our bodies in cycles of minutes, hours and years. We do yoga all day, how we hold our spine, whether we look down in command, surveying our creation in confidence, or look up in awe, mothered by the great divine. Small to large we are a continuous pole of vibration living in a world of vibrating beings, some made by us, some made by others. We are also made by others, and our children spiritual and physical make others. We are one and we are many, carving each other with our song. Remember we are free to move. We are free to be crazy. We are free to smash myths. We are free to give sex to all beings, as many or as few as we desire, to sing of love as we please. We are also free to break morals, to lie, to cheat, to take without permission from those screaming in pain. Or instead, we are free to plant love, to raise all up to be the radiant stars of divinity they are but have forgotten. The cultural symbols of the past drift through us like seaweed along with our personal song waving through the waters of life we shroud ourselves in. Despite your habits and your wrappings, your bonds, remember your freedom. Sex is rhythm, work is rhythm, breathing is rhythm, let your song and your love be pure. Rise queen. Rise king. Take to your throne as lord of the universe. You are god. Sing into being a world of beauty. Your lover is waiting for you to remember who you are. Break through that wall, overcome that hurdle, abandon that fear, cut loose those chains. Remember who you are. You are god. Sing loudly. Sing strong. Sing peace. Sing so no one lies in any gutter, no one falls in any fear, no one trembles afraid, unloved. To let a soul go down unloved is the only sin I know, because you failed as the lord to not create beauty and peace. To let such wrong blacken your world is to throw down your crown and roll in the despair of amnesia. A divine being powerless to sing love deep into the four directions? I love you and I miss you so much, my great one. Arise and take your crown. Dispense your song and dance your dance. Beat the drum of your world loudly, for you are god.

Posted in beauty, Building a Better World, Earth Justice, ecology, evolution, freedom, gay rights, hallucinogens, illuminati, Islam, Jesus, Jews, kabbalah, Muslims, mysticism, poetry, power of love, prayer, religion, science, secular humanism, witchcraft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

True Doctrine of the Illuminati

Posted by majutsu on January 13, 2008

The True Doctrine of the Illuminati

The true doctrine of the Illuminati lies in the appreciation of the perpetual life-giving wisdom of the mythology and symbolism of the religion of the ancient Near East. The term “ancient Near East” encompasses the early civilizations in the region roughly corresponding to that described by the modern term Middle East (Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria), during the time roughly spanning the Bronze Age, from 6000-4000BC. The basis of these stories is the Baal cycle. The Baal stories were a Canaanite group of stories regarding Baal/Hadad, Lord of the Earth. The stories were found on clay tablets in the 1920s in the Tell of Ugarit, carved in Ugaritic, a cuneiform alphabet.

The stories as a whole have a central tale to tell involving three characters in particular: Baal Hadad, Yam/Mot, and Anat. Baal Hadad is the lord of the earth. He represents matter. Yam is the god of the waters and the god of death. In Mesopotamia, floods from the rivers were the source of famine, plague and death. Yam is therefore often seen as a great watery serpent, as Leviathan in the Bible, for example. Anat is the queen of heaven, the mother of fertility and source of life energy and sexuality. In mystical traditions, she represents the mystical mind, the guide, and the source of self-transformation.

Yam wished to rule over the gods. In order to do so, he would have to depose Baal from his throne. He changed his name to Mot, meaning drought or death, and attacked Baal. As this tale is a version of the spring cycle, Mot is also winter, or the absence of heat. Baal then seeks to subjugate Mot and invites him to dine. He tries to make Death (Mot) accept a meal of bread and wine, which Death, the eater of human flesh, finds offensive. In fact, when Christians eat bread and wine, they are celebrating that in the end, Baal’s (Christ’s) victory over Mot (Death) was permanent. Death demands flesh, even the flesh and life of Baal. Baal mates with a cow so as to produce a young bull, his only son, whom he dresses in his clothes to take his place. This is why the horns of a bull or ox represent Baal. This is the reason the Hebrew kabbalah begins with aleph, the ox, as does the Hebrew alphabet. This is also the reason the English alphabet begins with ‘A’, short for Aleph, the ox, and is an upside-down bull’s head. This is also why the Illuminati make a sign of a bull’s horns with the hand. This is the mis-named “devil’s sign” or the “rock ‘n roll sign” as well. Baal, after sending his bull-son, decides to hide in the land of the dead. This story resurfaces later in history as Jesus’s descent into hell.

Anat, the wife and consort of Baal, on finding the dead bull, prepares for the funeral of Baal. Afterwards, she descends upon Mot with vengeance. Anat finds Mot, cleaves him with a sword, burns him with fire, and throws his remains on the field for the birds to eat. This is why Anat is represented by the letter shin, the tooth or the cutting blades. This same letter remains as ‘W’, two teeth or blades, in the English language. Anat destroys death, but is saddened by the loss of her lord.

Then Baal comes back. The lovers are reunited in embrace and there is permanent victory over Death. Mot returns, but has been so weakened he is forced to agree to rule only part of the year and to always allow spring (Baal) to return. Furthermore, he is required to stay in the river banks and be controlled and confined to certain seasons and cycles that the ancients could count on. Mot is represented by Mem, water, in the Hebrew alphabet. This letter persists as the letter ‘M’ in English, which is a picture of two crests of waves on water.

Mot is also associated with reptilian imagery. It is not the worship of reptilian overlords that is going on, but the celebration of victory over death. The Canaanites were the originators of this religious symbolism. The Phoenicians were coastal-dwelling Canaanites who spread their alphabet (which was embedded religious symbolism) and their myths to the cultures they traded with. Canaanite mystical culture is therefore embedded in the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Greek mystery schools, and African religious traditions to this day. For example, the Minoan snake goddess is a representation of Anat’s victory over Mot, as the bare-breasted goddess clutches one or more dominated snakes. Christ is depicted as crushing the serpent under his heel [as are Mother Mary and St. Patrick].

The Illuminati accept this parable of human existence as taught by the reality of being on a rotating earth with the cycle of the seasons. The Illuminati are formed by no one. They are, as Timothy Leary suggested, self-appointed, self-taught, and self-motivated. The shared philosophy arises from mystical experience and understanding human history and mythology. It does appear that all useful scientific change and progress in human history was accomplished deliberately only by those with this holistic and humanistic view of self-divinity, self-achieved. But this transformation to greatness was most of time only impeded by others, certainly not encouraged or orchestrated by them. It was only those with fearlessness and confidence that all knowledge and contentment lay open to them with work who could possibly have the courage to make a difference.

The Freemasons have this knowledge. They acquired it from the Phoenicians on Malta when the Knight’s Templar’s were stationed there. They understand that you meet Anat in the inner temple which you have to prepare for her. This makes you, in their symbolism, like Hiram, the builder of the Temple of Jerusalem, and this is why building implements are their emblems. They also study the kabbalah and the Baal cycle using Christian replacement terms at times.

The Gnostic Christians have this knowledge too. They see Mary Magdalene as the Anat, and Christ as Baal. They make the knowledge of Baal’s (Jesus’s) son a secret knowledge gained from initiation. Baal on the throne in glyphs is represented as tau, the mark of the king, an ‘X’ or ‘T’ above a round head. This is why the cross, the letter ‘t’ in English, represents the risen Christ, or re-throned Baal, or the triumphant cycle of spring and hope. This is also why the illiterate still mark contracts with an ‘X’ or mark in many countries to this day.

There is a small cabal, or group, of Jews who have this knowledge, the cabala, or kabbalah. They inherited it from the Phoenicians in the form of proto-Sinaitic, then paleo-Hebrew letters and culture. The Hebrew alphabet is identical in number and shape to the proto-Sinaitic alphabet of the story of the Baal cycle. These stories and truths are retained in full in the Hebrew mystical tradition, the kabbalah.

This is the truth about the Illuminati. We believe that people are free, in divine intercourse with the universe. We believe you should approach the earth as a loving partner, with joy and passion. We believe that there is only this dance of mind and matter, and no ghosts or demons we can’t see have victory or dominion over us. Our choices, our actions and the moralities we live by are all completely free and self-determined. We look forward to a day when all people share in victory over fear, death, and powerlessness, and live in harmony with the earth, in joy.

There is talk that the Illuminati worships death and war. There is an association between this secret knowledge, the worship of Baal, and war, not because mystical knowledge glorifies murder, but because the alphabet was largely spread by the Phoenicians because it was so successful in conscripting foreign soldiers with unusual-sounding names or identifying goods for trade in ledgers when there was no word for these goods in your tongue. War, conquest, and financial assimilation are the main reasons why we have language and religion around the world. Baal is recognized as the father of war. But in this way, war is symbolic for all technology and scientific knowledge, much of which, like radar, came from war, but may be used for good or evil indiscriminately, like all tools.

However, anyone who plots death or destruction or erases the human spirit is not Illuminati. Those who spin anti-Semitic paranoid plots are the real servants of death, the real snake people. It is only by seeing the brotherhood of man, the commonality of human experience, that we can all be free of pain, hunger, poverty, death and fear one day.

Posted in conspiracy theory, hallucinogens, history, illuminati, Jesus, Jews, kabbalah, Muslims, mysticism, power of love, religion, ridiculous beliefs, secular humanism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Dominionism and the Religious Right: Somebody Save the Constitution!

Posted by honestpoet on December 13, 2007

Here’s an incredible article written by someone who managed to extricate herself from her fundamentalist upbringing. It’s published at The Dissident Voice, something new for the blogroll (and maybe a potential market!). This is the meaty part:

Today, as I witness the possibility of losing the last shreds of liberty to a fundamentalist theocracy, I am reminded once again of my college research paper and how “dangerous” research, critical thinking, and asking the right questions can be. All those years ago, I extricated myself from the fundamentalist Christian programming of my family and subculture, and now I am watching it threaten to engulf my entire country.

To even attempt to understand the religious right, which many are now naming “Dominionism”, one must grasp the mental duress it holds on its followers. I should know; I was one of them. Axiomatic in the worldview of the fundamentalist, born-again Christian is: “I have the truth, I’m right; you don’t have the truth, you’re wrong.” As a result, critical thinking, research, or intellectual freedom of exploration are not only unnecessary, they are dangerous and potentially heretical. Paul Krugman noted in a recent article that while the religious right bashes academia for its “liberal bias,” studies of the political persuasions of college and university professors indicate that persons who prefer academia as a lifelong career tend to be more liberal, just as those who prefer the military as a lifelong career tend to be more conservative. The halls of academia do not spawn the likes of Tim LaHaye or Pat Robertson. Remember, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

But simply shunning critical thinking does not make one a terrorist. What does, however, is the notion that because one “has the truth” and everyone else who believes differently is “wrong”, those individuals will be condemned to spend eternity in hell and must be incessantly reminded of their fate and their “inferior” status in the eyes of God. Moreover, because of one’s “superior” spiritual status, one has the so-called “divine authority” to subvert, by whatever means necessary, the very machinery of government in order to establish a theocracy in which one’s worldview is predominant.

When sufficiently pressed, Christian fundamentalists intractably argue that people are poor because they have not been born again. Like the Puritans of seventeenth-century America, wealth is a sign that one is following the will of God, and poverty indicates that one is not. People are poor because they are doing something to cause themselves to be poor, and whatever that may be, the underlying cause is that they do not have a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Increasingly, one sees many faces of color in fundamentalist congregations, but those individuals are almost without exception, born-again Christians who tow the dominionist line with other people of color.

Dominionism deplores the mental health system. Like those who are poor, the mentally ill would not be so if they were born again Christians. After all, mental illness is a label given by the Dr. Phils of the world to people whose minds have been devoured by Satan. What they really need is Christian conversion and of course, a great deal of medication from the pharmaceutical lobby. The only valid therapist is Jesus; down with Oprah, God bless Joyce Meyer. Obviously, according to Dominionism, government should not be financing mental health programs.

And what about addictions? In case you haven’t caught on to the drill yet, Jesus is the answer to that one as well. Who needs a Twelve-Step program? There’s only one step: Accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior as soon as possible, and your addictions will be erased faster than those eighteen minutes on the Richard Nixon tapes. (Remind me to write another article on the religious right AS an addiction.)

Christian fundamentalism in “cafeteria style” has chosen which parts of Jesus’ teachings it chooses to honor and which not. Preference is always given to the “I am” passages such as those in the Gospel of John in which Jesus says, “ I am the door; the bread of life; the way, the truth, and the life; the light of the world; the living water,” and so on, supposedly claiming to be God and commanding his listeners to accept him as the only way to live forever with God in heaven and escape eternity in hell. Little attention is given to the Sermon on the Mount and the many passages where Jesus condemns the wealthy and the religious leaders of his time for their callous, hypocritical, mean-spirited absence of compassion. In fact, theologians who pay much attention to Jesus’ teachings on compassion are viewed as bleeding hearts, unorthodox, and not really Christian. For this reason, Pat Robertson stated on his 700 Club program, January 14, 1991: “You say you’re supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don’ have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.”

Let us not overlook the obvious: Dominionism is about dominion — over women, children, the poor, people of color, alternative sexual orientations, and the earth. It fits so nicely with fascist tyranny.

Christian fundamentalism is fundamentally UN-American. Dominonists clearly desire a revised United States Constitution that will institute a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. As Katherine Yurica has so assiduously reported, the Dominionist agenda would shred the Constitution and end the democratic republic our Deist founding fathers hammered out for five grueling months in 1787 in Philadelphia.

In fact, Pat Robertson believes that only Christian people should interpret and benefit from the Constitution. Again, on his 700 Club, December 30, 1981, he stated that, “The Constitution of the United States, is a marvelous document for self-government by Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society.” Never mind that most of the founding fathers did not consider themselves Christian and clearly, adamantly, and unequivocally defended the right of everyone in America to believe — or not believe, as he/she chooses.

I hope Americans outside the Bible Belt become more aware that reasonable people down here are being suppressed. It’s an insidious threat. A lawyer I enjoy at another forum calls it the American Christian Taliban. I think that’s not a bad label, with all the appropriate connotations. Except that they are really quite unAmerican, which is why I prefer Christianofascists.

Posted in anti-establishment clause, blogging, Christianofascism, freedom, fundamentalism, politics, religion, secular humanism, separation of church and state, the Bible | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Creative Loafing: a Blog Worth Reading

Posted by honestpoet on December 10, 2007

Peter Meinke is the man who taught me how to write poetry, the craft of it. He also, as my mentor, helped me understand the need for poets to have something to say, as well as the need to hang on to our sense of humor. He taught me how to work with form (and even play with it), and how to free myself from it. To him I will be forever grateful.

Through correspondence I read a great rant from him about that bizarre world inside the Beltway which has such a disastrous effect on the world outside it. And then I went looking for the blog where it had been posted, Creative Loafing, out of Tampa, FL. I’m happy to introduce it to you and to add it to my blogroll. I think I’ll be checking back there often!

In that same correspondence, btw, I answered the question he asks at the end of this glorious expression of outrage by this good man, as to which Democrat might lead us out of this quagmire that is the war in Iraq, with: Dennis Kucinich.

Posted in blogging, Dennis Kucinich, freedom, history, military, monoculture, peace, peace activism, poetry, politics, religion, secular humanism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

God is Not Great: Excellent Excerpt at Slate

Posted by honestpoet on April 27, 2007

Here’s one of three excerpts from Christopher Hitchens’s book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. I haven’t read the other two yet, but this was so good I had to post it here.

A little bit to whet your appetite:

While some religious apology is magnificent in its limited way—one might cite Pascal—and some of it is dreary and absurd—here one cannot avoid naming C. S. Lewis—both styles have something in common, namely the appalling load of strain that they have to bear. How much effort it takes to affirm the incredible! The Aztecs had to tear open a human chest cavity every day just to make sure that the sun would rise. Monotheists are supposed to pester their deity more times than that, perhaps, lest he be deaf. How much vanity must be concealed—not too effectively at that—in order to pretend that one is the personal object of a divine plan? How much self-respect must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of one’s own sin? How many needless assumptions must be made, and how much contortion is required, to receive every new insight of science and manipulate it so as to “fit” with the revealed words of ancient man-made deities? How many saints and miracles and councils and conclaves are required in order first to be able to establish a dogma and then—after infinite pain and loss and absurdity and cruelty—to be forced to rescind one of those dogmas? God did not create man in his own image. Evidently, it was the other way about, which is the painless explanation for the profusion of gods and religions, and the fratricide both between and among faiths, that we see all about us and that has so retarded the development of civilization.

Posted in anti-establishment clause, atheism, Christianity, Christianofascism, fundamentalism, Islam, Jesus, Jews, misogyny, Muslims, politics, prayer, religion, Richard Dawkins, ridiculous beliefs, secular humanism, separation of church and state, skepticism, terrorism, witchcraft | 18 Comments »

Now This is More Like It! Secular Islam

Posted by honestpoet on March 26, 2007

Here’s a group of really sane folk. Thank goodness.

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to

reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;

eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;

protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;

reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;

and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;

to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;

and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must choose for themselves.

I hope this turns out to be contagious.

Posted in anti-establishment clause, atheism, fundamentalism, history, Islam, misogyny, Muslims, politics, prayer, privacy, religion, secular humanism, separation of church and state, sexism, skepticism, terrorism | Leave a Comment »

Introducing Majutsu, My Husband

Posted by honestpoet on March 6, 2007

He posted this in a comment to my last post, but I thought this deserved to be read on its own:

You know what’s really funny? That this show [“The Lost Tomb of Jesus”] was widely watched and has generated a lot of curiosity and interest in jesus and his teachings. This interest has been generated in precisely those far removed from christ, such as atheists, the very nihilistic, those least reached in the last twenty or so years. If a christian cared about lost souls, they would approach this like follows, “It’s good to see you so excited about jesus the man. Don’t you wonder now what he taught and why so many base their life on his teachings? Why don’t you come to our church and talk about jesus and his life?” Oddly enough though, at a time when a couple hundred thousand to a million people, formerly very closed to god and christ, were opened up all at once and thirsting for knowledge about the teachings of jesus, how were they rewarded? By being reminded in the press and blogs that christians could give two shits about saving people. They want to condemn, to damn to eternal fire, the producer, the archaeologist, the network. . . They were reminded that christians want only to micro-control thought and other people’s lives. The proof is the opportunity for dialog that was lost — ignored. We may conclude from this that there is apparently no christian joy or close relationship with the divine to share. There really is only perpetual hatred and a false sense of self built on enjoying, with fantastic embellished imagery, the control and torment of others. Christianity is after the religion of the Roman Empire, the worship of jesus and the holy roman emperor in rome as divine. And the Romans were the Nazis of the ancient world. True to their heritage as cruel tyrants, the faithful christians walled themselves up, covering their eyes and ears, shrieking that their sole possession, their tattered rags of borrowed thoughts, was being dragged into the street, leaking out of the control of their balled little fists. Unfortunately for the christian, if there is a god, she sends rain down to the good and the evil. To wish your neighbor to be parched and dying of thirst every time it rains means that with every single drop that falls you again fail the ultimate test of faith, to be willing to be part of this one life, this being. This is the sort of sin that really matters, not violating undecipherable precepts of rotting books.

Ain’t that the truth.

Posted in anti-establishment clause, atheism, Christianity, Christianofascism, fundamentalism, history, Jesus, mental illness, politics, prayer, ridiculous beliefs, Romans, science, secular humanism, separation of church and state, the Bible | 5 Comments »

More on the Lost Tomb of Jesus

Posted by honestpoet on March 6, 2007

Here’s what I found most compelling:

First of all, the names. They were pretty convincing, and in forms surprising enough that I don’t think a forger would have thought of them. (BTW, I love that Jesus named his son Judas. I always thought, even before learning of the Gospel of Judas, that he and Judas were actually pretty tight. I wrote a poem years ago called “Brother Judas” that paints the vilified disciple in a very sympathetic light.)

The symbol above the entrance of the tomb (a chevron with a circle inside it) which is repeated on Simon Peter’s ossuary at a separate site.

For me, there’s no question that this is the tomb of Jesus and his family. I think it’s a little crazy to pretend that it’s not. But then, religious people have always amazed me with their insane ability to deny reality.

Questions that remain for me:

How long is it going to take for people to accept this and allow it to change their minds?

What was Jesus really about? I’m planning on reading some of the gnostic gospels to see if Jesus’ teaching had any validity in terms of a useful world-view (I consider the Bible to be nothing but Roman propaganda, so it’s not a valid source). Or was he simply another con-man? Where’d he get the money for that tomb, anyway? “There will be poor always.” Yeah. So was he taking donations? And how much? Religion, it seems, has always been about making money for nothing. So as excited as my husband was about the idea of atheist Christianity, I’m not sure that would serve any purpose. I still think that science and ethics (secular humanism) are a better way to approach life than any thoughts of someone who lived back when they had no idea of what reality really is, no matter how nice that person may have been.

And when are we going to tear down the Vatican and return all that gold to the countries it rightfully belongs to?

Posted in atheism, Christianity, fundamentalism, history, Jesus, politics, Romans, science, secular humanism, separation of church and state, the Bible | 7 Comments »