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Archive for July, 2009

Mediums Getting Shown Up

[Via Cynical-C] BBC3’s “Bullsh!t Detectors” shows up three Mediums. The one question I have is: why didn’t they immediately retract their permission to use the footage of them getting shown up as frauds?

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Good job, Ireland.

On Friday July 11th, 2009, Ireland passed the Defamation Bill by one vote. One of the aspects of this bill would make it illegal to criticize religion… any religion under penalty of fines up to 25,000 Euros. That is the equivalent to nearly $35,000.

Section 36

(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000. [Amended to €25,000]

(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

Ireland passes blasphemy law

I guess Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens might want to avoid Ireland for a while.

Maybe it’s time for the Pastafarians to get angry about some things. I’m sure they could use the anti-blasphamy laws to slap fines on just about anyone they want.

And, I can’t help but worry what Scientology will do with these laws.

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Republican Craziness

This astounds me:

Even though the governor of Alaska dropped the bombshell last week that she was leaving her post, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that her support among Republicans is still strong. In fact, her resignation seems to have even slightly boosted her among GOP constituents.

According to the nationwide poll, close to 67% of Republicans want Palin to be “a major national political figure” in the future. And 71% of them say they would likely vote for her if she ran for president in 2012.

I was really hoping that Republicans were backing Sarah Palin only because they were stuck with her and had to support the Republican party – even when they do something dumb. Apparently not. I worry for our country when so many people want to elect dumb presidents.

It’s almost as if Republicans are in a secret plot to destroy the country through bad leadership. Maybe the whole ‘flag waving’ thing is all part of the cover-up of their true motives.

I can’t help but wonder if Republican support for Sarah Palin is somehow fueled by the fact that so many of us dislike her. As in: “I don’t like Democrats. Those Democrats don’t like Palin. I think I really like Sarah Palin!”

Here’s another gem:

The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama Bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.

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Atheist Melon

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Crazies and Hypocrites

I guess every religion has their crazies and their hypocrites. Of course, it wouldn’t be quite fair to call this the actions of a few crazies – rather, the ultra-orthodox viewpoint is crazy.

Via Pharyngula:

Orthodox Jews are rioting in Jerusalem. The reason: because the city allows a parking lot to remain open on Saturday, which means people are able to drive on their holy day, which they consider sacred. Anne Barker was there to record the event as a journalist, and she switched on her recorder to document it all — when the protesters turned on her.

I found myself herded against a brick wall as they kept on spitting – on my face, my hair, my clothes, my arms.

I wasn’t even sure why the mob was angry with me. Was it because I was a journalist? Or a woman? Because I wasn’t Jewish in an Orthodox area? Was I not dressed conservatively enough?

In fact, I was later told, it was because using a tape-recorder is itself a desecration of the Shabbat even though I’m not Jewish and don’t observe the Sabbath.

And the perverted devout, via Myka Fox:

A few years ago I was walking down a crowded St. Marks and was approached by a Hasidic Jew (I assume, he was wearing the hat, had peyas – the long curly sideburns- down to his shoulders, and smelled a little homeless).

“Kosher food?” he asked me.

“What?”

“Kosher Food?” he asked again. “You are a Jew.”

“No. I’m not.” I said. I am, but only culturally.

“Yes, Jew.” the Hasid said, convinced. People were looking at us.

(read the rest here)

I liked the moral of her story –

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“I guess that’s what happens when you turn your back on god, he sends his most devout to molest you.”

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?

Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.

The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion — Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.
(Source)

This just seems like a horrible setup for a gameshow. Theological debates just don’t make very good gameshows, nor do they fit into a 30-minute time slot. It would be interesting if the atheists could raise counterarguments, but based on the format (10 atheists) I doubt that could work.

There’s also something insulting about the idea that a handful of religious people could convert atheists so easily. It’s almost like they’re saying, “just give me 20 minutes to convince an atheist, and he’ll come out a believer”. Could you imagine the outrage if the format were reversed? If the setup was a gameshow where four atheists and agnostics tried to convince 10 religious people to give-up their faith?

But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.

I’m not surprised at all. Afterall, the show will be in Turkey — where 99% of the population is Muslim. I can’t imagine that Muslim religious authorities would like the idea of a Muslim cleric being put on an even playing field with Christians, Jews, or Buddhists. Even worse, it would expose a lot of the Turkish population to other religions’ arguments. That can’t be a good thing because maybe Muslims would convert to one of the other three religions, or maybe it would convince Muslims that their religion isn’t self-evidently more true than others, leading to a kind of religious liberalism and tolerance.

In fact, another article says that the program’s creators are aiming to educate people about other religions:

The programme’s makers say they want to promote religious belief while educating Turkey’s overwhelmingly Muslim population about other faiths.
(Source)

I can certainly see why religious leaders would be opposed to this kind of thing.

“We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God,” Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.

“We don’t approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe,” Soylu said.

Sounds like the chief executive is very liberal in her religious belief. I can’t say that I quite understand the idea that ‘belief’ is, in itself, a virtue. She seems to believe in a generic god and must think that most of what’s written in religious books is inaccurate.

There’s also something bizarre about the statement that “God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in” alongside the fact that a Buddhist in the the group of four. Buddhists don’t worship God; they’re agnostic about the existence of God. I guess that means that ‘belief in a religion is important, whether or not you believe in God’.

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Sigh. Be sure to apply your religiously-based condemnation and forgiveness selectively.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

By the way, the story he’s talking about is the story of King David and Bathsheba. David wanted Bathsheba, so he drafted Bathsheba’s husband into the army, put him on the front line, had the troops abandon him, which resulted in his death. David then married and had a child with Bathsheba. God killed the child to punish David for his sin (because killing children for the sins of their fathers is a good idea). This is why, in the US legal system, we often kill the children of murderers as punishment.

I also have to wonder how the pro-life crowd could interpret God as being pro-life if He kills children.

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