Archive for the 'freethought' Category

Feb 28 2010

The Limp Teachings of Jesus

I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to state outright that religions tend to promote in-group thinking and behavior. Coupled with feelings of righteousness. A natural consequence of this is . . . a heightened perception of “outgroup” members. Those others who are less good.

So this article headline came as no surprise to me: Study Links Religion and Racism

As for the science behind the finding…not bad.

A meta-analysis of 55 independent studies carried out in the United States with more than 20,000 mostly Christian participants has found that members of religious congregations tend to harbor prejudiced views of other races.

Not earth-shaking, but interesting. Noteworthy, sure. As was this related finding:

Her analysis [team leader Wendy Wood] found significantly less racism among people without strong religious beliefs. [bold added]

Man, those secular values, they are so dangerous! Not.

But the point I want to make comes as a consequence of this tidbit found deep down in the article:

The effect is strongest in the seminary,” Wood said. Of the 55 studies, 14 dealt with highly religious populations such as frequent church attendees and seminarians. [bold added]

Seminarians are most racist of the groups studied. Hmm. There they are, spending their days with the supposedly heart-and-soul-altering teachings of their allegedly Good Book . . . and?

Exactly! There is religion AND there are all these other factors that influence morality.

Religion strikes me as a placebo treatment. When it works, it works because people think it is going to work. But does it have real value?

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Feb 22 2010

Christianity: A More Acceptable Superstition?

The author of atheistcartoons really nailed it on this one.

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Feb 21 2010

Sunday Sacrilege: So Much Finery, So Few Facts


The Holy Momma — as depicted in a humongous Sicilian house of worship.

Me, I prefer houses of pancakes.

Look at all that gold. And the crowns.

I am skeptical of skeptics who “are religious.” For it is a focus on facts, measurable, replicable, reliable facts, that does or at least should lead the skeptic. Not a superficially glittering argument, not a finery of worldview. Facts.

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Feb 18 2010

The Origin of Spirituality: The Void and the Vague

The above cartoon from nicely illustrates the point I made in my brief post Unscientific Science from two days ago. I ended with this:

Although it is a popular word, spirituality is a lousy variable. Strong science and strong science writing gets specific, and the term spirituality is not.

On a related note, when attending college a friend of mine joked about belonging to the “church of the blessed void.” A blessed void indeed. What’s a void but a gap in our understanding . . . by another name?

Hmm. Can we say ignorance is bliss and bliss is spiritual, ergo, ignorance is spiritual?

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Feb 18 2010

God Follows Morality

Many religious folk claim that without a god in your life, well, all hell will break loose. Why? Their god is the source of morality. For years I have found this claim to be patently absurd. First, examine the many social groups around the globe and you will find many lacking “the” god of the Bible, or any supreme being for that matter, and, guess what — no wanton immorality. People seem to get along just fine. Though certainly with some exceptions. Just as you find among believers in a most high god.

Second, I have extensively studied risk factors for crime, and non-belief isn’t one of them.

Now new research further refutes the “first God, then morality” claim. In fact, the research argues that the claim has things backwards. It states:

“It seems that in many cultures religious concepts and beliefs have become the standard way of conceptualizing moral intuitions.”

That from, Morality research sheds light on the origins of religion.

So yes, religion and morality are likely related. But that relationship may consist of religions “conceptualizing” pre-existing “moral intuitions.”

Here’s the old view of the relationship, favored by pro-religion naturalists:

“Some scholars claim that religion evolved as an adaptation to solve the problem of cooperation among genetically unrelated individuals…” [bold mine]

But the new scholarly research refutes:

Citing several studies in moral psychology, the authors highlight the finding that despite differences in, or even an absence of, religious backgrounds, individuals show no difference in moral judgments for unfamiliar moral dilemmas. The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments.

And so “Dr. Pyysiainen and co-author Dr. Marc Hauser, from the Departments of Psychology and Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University” were led to this conclusion -

“This supports the theory that religion did not originally emerge as a biological adaptation for cooperation, but evolved as a separate by-product of pre-existing cognitive functions that evolved from non-religious functions,” says Dr. Pyysiainen.

Those who claim that you need religion to love thy neighbor and whatnot likely have placed the cart before the horse. This new research reveals that without the horse, there would be no cart. And as for atheists, they have no need for the cart of religion. And can love their neighbor just fine.

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Feb 14 2010

Sunday Sacrilege: Astrological Mary


Seems like “Mother Mary” got punched in the head and is seeing stars. Guess how many there are? Twelve. No, not thirteen. How much do you want to bet that the number of stars in such halo depictions originates not in months but in astrological mythology?

In religions you can find not only supernatural beings, but super-mathematical numbers. Good numbers, bad numbers. As if a number could be good or bad. Of course, all the number stuff is evidence of ancient superstition. As are the deities themselves. It’s not a chaff and wheat situation; it’s chaff and chaff.

The above photo was taken in Montreal.

Oh, and for more freethought writings, check out the latest Carnival of the Godless over at Homologous Legs.

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Feb 12 2010

To Leaf or Not to Leaf: Is There a Question?


Leaves. From last growing season. Now there are twigs. Possibly dead twigs, due to all the frosts we’ve had this cold season.

Is it a miracle that every Spring leaves appear? A mystery? Or just something wonderful?

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Feb 10 2010

Science and Religion: Just Differing Presumptions?

Some religion-friendly thinkers claim that science and religion differ on their basic presumptions. Science has one set, and religion has another. And because we mention them in the same breath, they must be equal.

BS. That’s like claiming all cake recipes are equivalent, because they all contain ingredients. No way. The value of a recipe is in the taste-test.

Similarly, the value of a worldview can be tested. Does it really help us know anything? Or is it just a bunch of hot air?

The beauty of science is that it is ultimately pragmatic. It begins with no pre-conceived musts. What works, works.

Scientists tend to reject religion not because it conflicts with their cherished paradigm. They reject it for this simple reason: It doesn’t work.

[cartoon thanks to]

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Feb 09 2010

Those Crazy Muslims!

Many believe that Muslims are dangerously removed from reality. 72 virgins for blowing yourself up?!!!

But please. Let’s not play favorites. Religious delusion-LITE is still delusion.

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Jan 30 2010

Neither ‘Gay’ Nor ‘Atheist’ Are Bad Words

Published by under culture,freethought

Well, I don’t know about the words. As for actually being gay or atheist — I see nothing wrong with either. My stance isn’t an ideological one, by the way; I’ve searched for empirical evidence and, guess what? Morally speaking, gays and atheists are as good and as bad as heterosexuals and Christians, etc.

While I am not gay, I am an atheist.

As for my heterosexuality, it certainly wasn’t a lifestyle choice. The thought of getting closer to women excites deep regions of my brain. It’s simply not under the control of my conscious intellect. On the other hand, the thought of getting closer to, and say, kissing another dude — minus any learned homo-averse reactions — is about as appealing as the thought of eating a big spoonful of sand. My deep brain just “doesn’t get it.” Intellectually, however, I can understand how others have different deep brains than I do. So to speak.

But yes, I’m an atheist. If I must be classified. So I probably have a greater incentive to find nothing wrong with it. But again, I’ve done hours and days and weeks of research into the matter, and please, show me how being an atheist leads to “bad.” Atheist = bad is a bogus equation, unsupported by anything other than ignorant prejudice.

Okay, rant over. If you care to mingle with more non-theists and non-heterosexuals, I recommend clicking over to The Gaytheists. There you will find, Carnival of the Liberals #101: The Loopy Cough Medicine Edition.

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