Atheism Archives

Friday Link Wrap-up

No, the Bush tax cuts didn’t cause the recession. Yes, Obama’s "recovery" has been the worst in history. These and other economic realities can be summed up in this graph. (Click for a larger version.)

 

A sex scandal involving adults and children under their charge. No, not the Catholic church of the 60s; the public schools of today.

While he did get the number wrong, Romney was right in that those who pay the least in income taxes are the least likely to vote for him.

The number of scientific papers that had to be retracted last year was a 10x increase over the rate during the previous decade. And a study of those retractions finds that 3/4ths of those retractions were due to misconduct rather than honest mistakes.

Good news in the stem cell debate. "Two stem-cell researchers have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking work in cellular reprogramming, a technique that unleashed a wave of advances in biology, from cloning to the possible treatment of diseases using a patient’s own cells." That is, there is less of a reason to use embryonic stem cells, when adult ones will do just as well.

Hedging their bets? "A survey by the Pew Research Center discovered that 2.4 percent of Americans say they are atheists and 3.3 percent say they are agnostic. Among the atheists and agnostics, however, 6 percent said they pray daily."

Need more money for your school district, by proving how many students attend? Make them wear microchips. Privacy takes a back seat to cash.

And finally, some apt scripture for the VP debate last night. (Click for a larger version.)

Be Sociable, Share!

    National Atheist Party Convention

    Cancelled, due to lack of interest.

    Be Sociable, Share!

      Friday Link Wrap-up

      A federal government out of control. Without any evidence, Attorney General Eric Holder took a woman to court for obstructing the entrance to an abortion clinic. The judge threw out the case and ordered the government to pay $120,000 to the woman. Yes, it’s good that the woman was compensated, but this case should have never gone to court.

      I think Julian Assange has been irresponsible for dumping secret data that, in many cases, has put lives at risk or tipped our hand to enemies. Still, it’s nice to know that, in all that, George W. Bush has been vindicated in his handling of the Iraq/WMD situation.

      I agree with the sentiment that the teen’s shirt said, "Jesus Is Not A Homophobe". However, I also think that the folks he thinks need that message aren’t, for the most part, homophobes either, if, by "homophobe" you mean "someone who agrees with 2000 years of Christian teaching".

      Global Warming Update: "The number of [polar] bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt."

      James O’Keefe is at it again. He, a white guy, to prove that voter fraud really is simple, something that Attorney General Eric Holder denies, was able to (almost) vote in the primary as Eric Holder himself, a black guy. Extremely easy.

      An atheist who threatened to sue over a Nativity scene, was helped in his time of need by the very Christians he had threatened. Result: He’s now a Christian preparing to enter the  ministry.

      John Stossel, libertarian and (when he was at ABC News) a contrarian in the media, describes the liberal bias at his old network.

      Ever since Jimmy Carter got snookered by giving food to North Korea in exchange for an empty promise not to pursue nukes, we keep hoping that they’ll change their mind about belligerence if we bribe them well enough. It hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. A dictator that will spend who knows how many millions on a missile program while his country starves is patently not concerned about his people. Period. No amount of appealing to his better nature will change that. Now that N. Korea has test launched (what Rick Moore calls) a "three-stage artificial reef", now we’re serious. Now we mean business. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it.

      Civility Watch: "Moderate Caucus" chairman, a Democrat, tweets, "Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams."

      Be Sociable, Share!

        Links for Thursday, 1 March 2012

        The right to government subsidized sex
        Yes, believe it or not, an argument [sic] based on expense is offered for why women deserve to have government provided contraceptives. I wonder if there are studies which indicate the percentage of contraceptives prescribed for conditions such as endometriosis vs. mere desire.

        ###

        That thoroughly modern phenomenon known as the Youth Pastor
        From the Gospel Coalition,

        All too often, youth programs have turned to entertainment-driven models of ministry in order to bring in youth. Success has become the name of the church-growth game. The devastating effects, however, are not only seen in the number of youth leaving the church after high school, but also in a spiritually and theologically shallow worldview among many American teenagers. The irony is that these same teens actually want to grow and learn hard truths. They want to know how to think about suffering, how to pray, and why Jesus had to die.

        And here’s the book.

        ###

        A President who hears from God

        ###

        Have a mobile device? Malware has increased over 150%

        ###

        Another apology to President Karzai

        ###

        A First Century manuscript of the Gospel of Mark?
        Wallace will be on the Stand to Reason radio program, Sunday March 4th, 2 – 5 pm PST.

        Be Sociable, Share!

          Rusty Nails (SCO v. 43)

          He said what?
          Richard Dawkins said “Jesus would have been an atheist had he known what we know today.” Wow. I know that Christian apologists have been clamoring for a debate between William Lane Craig and Dawkins, but if he makes such an ignorantly absurd statement like this, then…?

          ###

          Only 1 in 4 want to ban handguns
          An all-time low (26%) and this spells bad news for liberal democrats. From Gallup,

          A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.

          N9ggmdee1k60atawqdbprq
          ###

          Evangelical Capitalism statement of the day:
          “I’ve never seen an empty seat make a decision for Christ.” – Andy Stanley

          While this notion is sincere, it usually degrades to nothing more than a “numbers game” approach, and the logical conclusion of this methodology is to do just about anything to entice people through the door (and onto a… seat) where they can then be swayed to “make a decision.” And I wonder just what priority is given, if any,, to that of making a disciple of Christ (what the Bible actually states).

          “Christians Need To Stop Making Converts” – Read it again, for the first time.

          ###

          Geek News # 1
          Checking out footprints of the Apollo moonwalkers.

          ###

          Geek News # 2
          Searching for Snoopy… Apollo 10′s Snoopy (aka the Lunar Module)

          ###

          A Homeschooling convert?
          So in the middle of realizing that school is really just a babysitting service, I became militant. I realized that public school is like Social Security. There is no money to do what we are pretending we are aiming to do. We should just grow up and admit that we cannot have effective public schools for everyone. Just like we cannot have Social Security for everyone.

          Be Sociable, Share!

            Friday, er, Monday Link Wrap-up

            There have been more casualties in Afghanistan under less than 3 years of Obama than we did under 8 years of Bush. Additionally, in the first 3 years of the Iraq war, we had fewer casualties than two and a half under Obama. This is not to criticize Obama for these deaths; that’s what happen in war. But Reason magazine notes that this raises 2 questions. "First, where are the antiwar protests? And second, where is the press?" The "anti-war" protestors are, as I’ve said before, more anti-Bush (or anti-Republican) than anything else. And the press are tied up trying to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin. It’s a full-time job, y’know.

            Unions hand-picked 6 of the most vulnerable Republican state senate districts to target for recall. They just needed 3 wins to take control. They could only manage 2. Granted, recall elections have been notoriously difficult to win over the years, but if Democrats and the unions that sponsor them can’t get their base energized over their own referendum on alleged "anti-worker" sentiment in hand-picked districts, that doesn’t say much about how the public views them.

            Atheists seem to believe that if humanity would just get rid of this archaic religion thing, violence would drop and peace would reign. Just ask Richard Dawkins, Chris Hitchens, or even John Lennon. Yeah, well, how did that work in the Soviet Union, where atheism was essentially the national religion? Or in Europe today, especially Britain, where religion is on the decline?

            And speaking of ideas not working, how’s that gun ban in Britain working out for those store owners in the middle of the riots?

            Remember the spontaneous "You lie!" outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson of S. Carolina during an address by President Obama about his health care bill? Joe said that after Obama said, "There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally." Well guess what? Turns out Joe was right.

            Why do we need voter ID laws? To keep this from happening; overenfranchised Democratic voters. And how about this bit of irony: "While NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lashed out at new state laws requiring photo ID for voting, an NAACP executive sits in prison, sentenced for carrying out a massive voter fraud scheme."

            Dale Franks of Questions & Observations has some great points about our economic situation. A couple of paragraphs, from one post talking about the hole we’re in:

            And don’t come back at me with some lame "Our GDP:Debt ratio was 120% at the end of WWII" silliness.  Yes it was. And you know how we fixed it? We cut Federal spending from $92 billion in 1945 to $38 billion in 1949. For 2011, 40% of the federal budget was financed with borrowed money: We’ll spend  $3.818 trillion, of which  $1.645 trillion is borrowed. If we funded only defense, Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security, and interest on the debt, we’d still have a deficit of $673 billion. Just to balance the budget this year—forget paying off any debt—we’d have to cut an additional ~25% from Health, Defense, and Pensions. Follow the link and download the CSV file, open it up in Excel, and run the numbers yourself. The magic number to balance the budget this year is the revenue of $2.174 trillion.

            That’s $2 trillion this year, not over 10 years.

            And from another post, noting that tax increases alone, even historic tax increases and an incredibly rosy set of other assumptions, aren’t going to do it. Spending cuts, substantial cuts, must happen.

            In order to pay off this year’s share of the $61.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the government will have to collect $4.261 trillion in revenues.  With an estimated 2011 GDP of $14.922 trillion, that comes to 28.6% of GDP. If we assume government revenues rise to the historical average, the we’ll need the government to take 31.6% of GDP in tax revenues. Happily, because we’re assuming a 3% rise in GDP and revenues for every year over the next 30 years, that percentage will decline slightly every year, until, in 2041, we’ll only need to collect 20.5% of GDP in tax revenues to pay off the last installment, assuming, again, 14.8% of GDP covers the operation of government.  If we go back to the 17.8% figure, then we’ll have to collect 23.5% of GDP in revenues.

            Either way, for the next 30 years, we need to collect substantially higher tax revenues than we have collected at any time in the nation’s history, and we have to do it every year for 30 years.

            The point being, this is probably not possible, economically or politically. This is how bad our situation is, and how much action we need to take now on spending.

            And yet, who gets blamed for trying to bring sanity back to the budget? (Click for a larger version.)

            Be Sociable, Share!

              u no wat im sayin?
              In We Don’t Need Know Education, Mike Adams laments the writing (and speaking) quality of today’s average university student.

              I’m getting to be a crabby old man and I’m not even fifty. But working at a liberal university for eighteen years has taught me never to accept responsibility for my actions or my disposition. Instead I blame my most recent bad mood (the one I’m in right now) on a student who just asked me a question about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case United States v. Leon, (1984). Wanting to know the holding, he asked if it meant “that the police can rely upon a search warrant they don’t reasonably no is invalid.” I almost told the student there was know way he was going to pass my course if he didn’t no the difference between “know” and “no.” But I just new I would get in trouble if I did.

              Maybe I’m getting to be a crabby old man, and I’m already over fifty, but I don’t recall there being such a disparity between college-age adults and post-college adults when I was in university.

              ###

              Experience without Reason results in empty pews
              It’s become hip for Christian leaders to toss around the “80% [or substitute some other large value] of the kids in our youth groups will leave Christianity by the time they finish college” warning. Regardless of the actual number, most will agree that we live in a time when more people claim to have no belief (or religious affiliation) than ever before.

              Brett Kunkle, at Stand to Reason, has a novel idea: Why not teach apologetics to our Christian youth before they leave for college? Yeah, I know, in an age of touchy-feely, Jesus-wants-to-have-a-personal-relationship-with-you Christianity, teaching hard-hitting material which causes one to exercise their brain is considered revolutionary.

              To drive the point home, Brett will sometimes role-play as an atheist college professor and present his case to unsuspecting Christian high school students (see video below). Take the time to see how the youth do in defending their faith. How would the youth group in your church do?

              ###

              I’m OK, You’re OK; but I can’t tie my shoes
              From Jerry Weinberger,

              I’ve been a professor of political philosophy in the political science department at Michigan State University for almost 40 years. I was chair of the department for four years. So I know a thing or two about the state of the student body…

              …more and more of my students, and not just freshmen, can’t tie their own shoes. They lose syllabi and can’t follow simple instructions; they don’t get the right books; they e-mail me to ask when and where the final exam will be held (as if they didn’t know when they signed up and don’t know how to find out); they forget to bring blue books to exams; they make appointments and don’t keep them; and many never come to office hours at all, except perhaps on the day before an exam.

              ###

              College is a waste of time
              Some college students are finding the whole idea of dropping a wad (or, their parent’s wad) to be caged in for four years, inculcated in the ways of the world, to not be their style. Dale Stephens writes,

              I left college two months ago because it rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning and theory rather than application. Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.

              Interesting. He also mentions Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, which predicts a “free agent economy” in this new world economic order we’ve found ourselves in.

              In a Michael Ellsberg article highlighting Stephens, we get a glimpse at the counter-cultural notion that young-adults (aka teenagers) are more than capable of entering the full-fledged “adult” world.

              Usually when we hear the words “disruption” together with “teenagers,” we think of loud talking in movie theaters, playing clown in class, and other discipline problems.

              But teenagers like Stephens are engaging forcefully in a very different—and more profitable—form of disruption: disruptive innovation, as first described in detail by Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.

              Instead of perpetuating the myth of adolescence, in which we train our young-adults to expect the years of 13 – 20+ to be years of unfettered FUN, why not task them with the responsibility of being productive members of society?

              Yeah… I know. Where’s the fun in that?

              Be Sociable, Share!

                Morality: it’s no different than burping

                In my recent New Covenant post Japan, and God, I made the point that within the worldview of atheism, along with a naturalistic mindset, one cannot escape the conclusion that objective morality is but a mere illusion – a category of behavior that must be reducible solely to physical properties. I referred to the resulting landscape of such a philosophy as a vacuous wasteland, and for good reason, namely – that of the resulting moral relativism.

                A commenter engaged me in a discussion on the post, yet he completely ignored the point I was making, choosing to take issue with the rationality of belief in God. He also assumed, incorrectly, that I was claiming atheists are incapable of acting morally.

                During our “discussion” a few issues seemed to arise regarding knowledge and morality. The commenter appeared to place a great deal of trust in the scientific method as a means of acquiring knowledge, especially with regards to how it can be used to substantiate (or negate) religious belief. Notice that the definition of knowledge, in the methodology of naturalism, can only refer to that which is natural, concrete, or material – that which can be measured and analyzed empirically. Yet, humans are well aware of the existence of the abstract, or the immaterial. Whether it be the thoughts you perceive in your mind (note, in your mind, not in your brain), or the love that you know you have for a “loved” one, you are aware of and confident in the existence of those abstract realities. Now, consider the fact that the scientific method is incapable of providing data on the abstract realities you know exist – for example, measuring the love you have for your children.

                Given the mandate of naturalism, that all which exists is comprised within the natural realm, one must conclude that even the notion we describe as morality is simply an outgrowth of evolutionary processes and, as such, must be guided by natural laws. Indeed, that is what the commenter posited, that moral behavior is simply behavior, and that it was derived from evolutionary processes. While this may sound quite proper on paper, the real-world impact of such a propostion is staggering. If, in fact, what many of us consider to be abstract notions, such as morality, are nothing more than the physical interaction of genes, then objective right and wrong moral values cannot be determined.

                Do you see where this leads? If a bear attacks a hiker on a trail, although we lament the tragedy of the event, we do not accuse the bear of moral indiscretion. No, we acknowledge that the bear just did what it does – because of the way its genes are sequenced. Regardless of whether or not the bear acts in manners that mimic human expressions of the abstract, naturalism mandates that such notions are the direct consequence of biology and, as a result, the bear has no objective moral code. Well guess what? If we want to be consistent with our application, then we need to do the same with the human genome. If we are nothing more than particles in motion, then the supposed moral notion “I ought” is reduced to a physical reaction and is no different than any other physical reaction, such as “I have indigestion” (HT: CS Lewis).

                Thus, morality, in the world of naturalism, is no different than burping.

                For further reference, check these articles by Greg Koukl, at Stand to Reason:
                How to know immaterial things exist

                What science can’t prove

                Did morals evolve

                Be Sociable, Share!

                  Freedom Requires Responsibility and Morality

                  Hat tip James Taranto, "Students protest slurs in N.C. State’s Free Expression Tunnel".  The opening paragraph:

                  Raleigh, N.C. — Students have vowed to protest or block North Carolina State University’s Free Expression Tunnel until the university’s chancellor gives guarantees that no hate speech will be allowed there.

                  The easy snark would be to laugh at students wanting free speech who then go out and protest free speech.  But this brings up the necessity of responsibility and morality in our daily lives in order to properly enjoy those freedoms we have.

                  There are limits on free speech, of course.  When said speech could present a danger to people (and moreso to particular people like the President), it does have limits, and those limits are given the force of law.  The quintessential example is yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater when there isn’t one, and causing a stampede that could hurt or kill people.  As a society, we’ve also decided that the psychological issues related to pornography are not something children are ready to deal with, so we have limits there as well.

                  What these students, and many liberal folks, want to do, then, is elevate hurt feelings to the same level as psychological or physical harm and death as reasons to legislate against certain speech.  This severely degrades the adjective "free".  People get hurt feelings all the time.  This doesn’t mean we should be legislating against all those free expressions.

                  But my main point is this; why would someone yell "Fire!" in a crowded, non-burning theater?  I think I can get pretty much unanimous agreement that this would come from a lack of ethics & morals and a general lack of responsibility towards one’s fellow man.  Irrespective of which moral code you live by, I would imagine that someone living up perfectly to those morals would not do such a thing, and if we all lived up to those morals perfectly, there would be, indeed, no need for such a law.

                  So the fact that some people don’t live up to these morals, even common ones most Americans share, means that we’ll have irresponsible and immoral speech out there.  And the more moral the people are, the less of it we’d have.  This is why morality is inseparably tied up with government.  Good laws are not just good policy; they are (or ought to be) good morals and ethics.  John Adams noted that the foundation of our laws was written with this in mind:

                  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

                  Freedom requires a measure of responsibility and morality to be exercised properly. 

                  And I would note, along with Adams, that morality and religion are essentially inseparable.  Where atheism is the state "religion" (e.g. communist countries, for example), freedom is scarce.  Those here in the Western world who push for a shared ethic based solely on human thoughts and understanding would do well to look at history for a list of bad examples.  Humanity, with no outside influence or acknowledgement of something higher than itself, tends to descend to the occasion rather than rise to it.

                  Keep the faith.

                  Be Sociable, Share!

                    Dawkins, Creationists, and books

                    I don’t think they [creationists] read books anyway, except for one book. It’s aimed at the intelligent layperson who does read books and who vaguely knows a little bit about evolution…

                    So says Richard Dawkins, author of The Greatest Show on Earth, in a Salon interview.

                    Hmmm. Let’s see.

                    I’m a creationist (of the Old Earth variety) and, while I don’t consider myself well read, I have read The Origin of Species, Finding Darwin’s God, Tower of Babel, Night Comes to the Cretaceous, Rare Earth, The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and A Brief History of Time, just to name a few books from the non-creationist book bin.

                    It can’t be this easy.

                    Be Sociable, Share!

                      Regarding Fundamentalism

                      This post by the pseudonymous Larry Niven at Rust Belt Philosophy, which is largely against a traditional morality, in part as defined by Scripture (especially the Old Testament). I think this attitude about traditional morality in part is the result of a common fundamentalist tendency common on the non-Christian left, the “new atheists” like Mr Niven follow that methodology. That same group of people would of course bristle at being termed fundamentalist, yet this is in fact a good term to describe them, their approach to traditional (mostly Biblical) traditions is fundamentalists which makes it in turn far easier to reject. Personally I consider myself a fundamentalist … but use the word ‘fundamentalist’ in a different meaning when I do so. Read the rest of this entry

                      Be Sociable, Share!

                        A Version of the Ontological Argument

                        I had thought to write a short post on Anselm’s ontological argument, but in looking for it, I ran across Kurt Gödel‘s ontological argument for the same, which looked interesting. That proof is as follows:

                        So, anybody seen this before? I’m not familiar symbolic logic, any commentary on this out there?

                        Be Sociable, Share!

                          Sign and Symbol … and Interpretation

                          Often you will find this image on car bumpers. The people presenting this image have a certain set of ideas which they would like to convey with this image. Recently I’ve been considering, taken on face value this image might mean something very different. Darwin Fish

                          Examine for a moment the history of the original Icthys symbol. This was historically used as a secret sign/symbol that Christians, during persecution, could secretly signal their faith to other Christians. The fish was chosen because in Greek the word fish could be an acronym for Jesus Christ. So here is the meaning I might interpret this symbol to mean. Wiki tells us:

                          The use of the Ichthys symbol by early Christians. Ichthus (?????, Greek for fish) can be read as an acrostic, a word formed from the first letters of several words. It compiles to “Jesus Christ, God’s son, savior,” in ancient Greek?????? ???????, ???? ????, ?????“, I?sous Khristos Theou Huios, S?t?r.

                          • Iota (i) is the first letter of I?sous (??????), Greek for Jesus.
                          • Chi (kh) is the first letter of Khristos (?????ó?), Greek for “Christ” or “anointed”.
                          • Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (????), that means “God’s”, genitive case of ??ó?, Theos, “God”.
                          • Upsilon (u) is the first letter of huios (????), Greek for Son.
                          • Sigma (s) is the first letter of s?t?r (?????), Greek for Savior.

                          Historians say the twentieth century use of the ichthys motif is an adaptation based on an Early Christian symbol which included a small cross for the eye or the Greek letters “????C“.

                          The above symbol signifies that Jesus Christ God’s son and Saviour surrounds and encompasses our our scientific understanding of nature, as signified by Darwin here as well as the cute little feet. The feet indicate that the evolution of creatures, from sea to land and so on is surrounded and included in God’s plan. While I myself am indifferent to the ID vs not-ID debate, perhaps the ID movementmight take this symbol as their own, seeing how it describes concisely how many of them view evolution.

                          Be Sociable, Share!

                            Atheist. Christian. Push and Pull

                            One of the arguments that atheists often bring forth is that the Christian notion of God is logically inconsistent. 1+1+1=1 they will point out doesn’t logically make sense. Well, on the other hand a fundamental particle being simultaneously a mathematical point and and extended object is logically inconsistent as well. Yet the latter is presently our best understanding of how nature presents itself, quantum objects, leptons and quarks that is to say matter is in fact point-like and extended at the same time. The atheists failing is that they, when confronted with the first logical inconsistency insist is it fundamental and when confronted with the second, insist that the human mind and our learning will encompass and explain the paradox more fully. I would suggest that the latter confidence can equally be applied to the former and that if they cannot yet understand it, that is because they are not engaging their imagination and optimism in the same way for reasons which have little to do with the problem posed.

                            Yet at the same time, there is an accusation of lack of imagination which might be returned to the court of the Christian believer. Modern physics has deepened our understanding concerning space and time. Applying the Minkowoski metrics to a four dimensional Riemann manifold describing space time as governed by a dynamical equation by Einstein in his proposal of General Relativity is a powerful way of envisioning our Universe. Similarly, Yang-Mills gauge theories, either classical or quantized provide a beautiful geometrically motivated understanding of the forces and small scale structure of space time. Ernst Mach a physicist and philosopher, prior to Einstein considered abstract ideas regarding motion and inertia, with the idea suggested that a single object in space (in the absence of any other “things”) has no inertia. In fact motion can only be described as a relation between two things. Christian conceptions place God, or at least his essence if not His energies following St. Gregory Palamas, outside of time. Certainly God prior to creation and the eschaton are placed by theologian to be outside of time. Christians have, as far as I know, not connected either large-scale or small scale (Minkowski-Riemann space-time or Yang-Mills quantization of U(1)xSU(2)xSU(3) gauge theory) to the notion of what “out of time” means. For myself, while I’ve thought a little about this and have nothing useful to report as yet, this book by John Pokinghorne might spur some ideas, The God of Hope and the End of the World. it should be noted that Mr Polkinghorne was an accomplished theoretical physicist before he became a Anglican priest and theologian.

                            Humans endow the world with meaning. Semantic content flows from our every thought and our conversation finds expression and meaning in semantic intercourse with others. Yet, in a purely material world semanatic content is meaningless. A pattern of electro-chemical discharges invoking vibrational patterns in the air is devoid of meaning. Yet humans call that speech and embue it with semantic import in a way which can be translated to word, text, and image. Michael Polanyi in Personal Knowledge recounts that when reading his morning correspondence which arrives from friends and peers the world over is unaware during the act of reading the language in which the text he reads is transmitted (obviously he is very fluent in a number of different languages). When he wishes to share something, for example, with his son, who only knows English, he has to check to see if the letter or passage of interest is in English or not. He is not, in the act of reading, consciously aware of the langauge which he is reading. On this matter theists and atheists point the “lack of imagination” finger at the other, the latter insisting that the semantic boostrap from the material to the semantic is lacking in the imagination of the former and the former insisting that the latter cannot imagine how the semantic boostrap itself might be the essence of the soul.

                            Be Sociable, Share!

                              Is Atheist Display "Tolerant"?

                              TChris on the lefty site Talk Left claims that the atheist display outside the Washington state capitol, considered "equal time" for the Christian and Jewish displays, is simply a matter of Constitutional protection.  The outrage that protestors and Bill O’Reilly are expressing somehow proves that they don’t really want freedom of religion.

                              Except this display of atheism is not simply a display.  It’s scorn and ridicule.  Here’s the text:

                              At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

                              Aside from the first sentence, the rest is a denigration of all the other displays.  Indeed the sponsors say so.

                              "It’s not a religious display; it is an attack on religion,” Freedom From Religion co-president Dan Barker said. His group was behind the atheist display.

                              How "tolerant".  And it points out the fact that this is decidedly not a case of equal time or freedom of/from religion, in spite of the cover that Washington state politicians are taking behind the Constitution.

                              Gregoire and the state’s attorney general responded to criticism by citing the First Amendment and releasing this joint statement:

                              “Once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of non-believers."

                              The nativity scene is a positive expression of belief, speaking no ill to those who don’t agree with it or believe in it.  The "Solstice Sign" is a protest specifically against those with different beliefs.  They are completely different things.  A nativity scene on government grounds does not guarantee the right to protest against it right next to it, any more than it would somehow guarantee the right for the KKK to put up its own display next to it.  They are completely different things, and those in Washington state who are sponsoring the sign and defending it seem to completely miss the concept.

                              But it does give us insight into what organized atheism considers "tolerance" towards religion.  They don’t just want equal time; they want additional rights to denigrate it.  That’s not equal.

                              Be Sociable, Share!
                                 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »