Monday, January 31, 2011

Rabbi shuns science, embraces superstition

In a lecture at Tannanbaum Chabad House last week, Rabbi Moshe Averick embraced superstition and wrapped himself in the God of the Gaps.

The lecture, called "Origin of Life and Scientific Evidence for a Creator," was presented to a small group where the Rabbi was able to promote his book:

He did not delve into the topic of creationism but instead strictly focused on the fact that no one — not even atheistic scientists — can satisfactorily explain the origin of life, making the idea of a creator seem more plausible.

"What I am trying to do — it's my way of waging an intellectual war on atheism," he said after the lecture.

Of course, the good Rabbi would never accept this line of thinking in any other area. If he heard a noise in his attic and didn't find evidence of mice or birds, he wouldn't conclude that the attic must be inhabited by ghosts. If his car was not performing correctly, and his mechanic couldn't identify the source of the problem, he wouldn't say that the notion that his car was infested with invisible gremlins was 'more plausible.'

Then again, maybe he would. Superstition has a way of spreading. If you don't know how something works, attribute it to the spirits.

Walter Hudson contradicts himself on atheist politicians

Walter Hudson, co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, is surprised at Teresa Scanlan, the 17-year-old young woman who won the 2011 Miss America title.  The beauty queen was asked during competition if she would vote for an atheist, and Scanlan replied, 'Yes.'

Hudson cites an online poll at the website God Discusssion, where a refreshing 93% of respondents agreed with Ms. Scanlan, and 5% replying they would not vote for an atheist.  But he takes pride in siding with the extreme minority:
I must admit, I am among the 5% who, in this hypothetical context, would not vote for an atheist. There is a very practical and wholly irreligious reason.

Hudson goes on to cite the old canard that atheists can't enforce law because they don't acknowledge the source of Natural Law--meaning Hudson's version of God--as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence. What Hudson doesn't appear to realize--or doesn't want his readers to know--is the the Declaration of Independence is not a legal document for the United States, and thus has no bearing on our laws or lawmakers. The Declaration was little more than a letter written to a king, establishing a moral argument why the American colonies should break free from English rule. It's an important historical document, to be sure, but no one should be citing it for legal arguments anymore than they should be perusing it for baked chicken recipes or how to construct a windmill.

So having set up a strawman for him to take a firm stand against, Hudson goes on to contradict himself by saying that despite one's religious views, a candidate's political views trumps all:

Again, we’re talking about a hypothetical situation where all else is equal. Surely, if my choice were between a professing believer who is also a socialist and an atheist Tea Party candidate, I would vote for the latter.

I suspect Hudson is confused. He'll vote for the Tea Party candidate, even if he believes they don't know right from wrong.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Episode 09 - CB4SM - Helen H. Gardener - My Creed

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Helen Hamilton Gardener, an American civil servant and suffragist in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The passage comes from her book titled, "Men, Women, and Gods," and is her answer to the question of what creed she would have to replace faith.

You can directly download the podcast here, or subscribe to Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind in iTunes.

I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Episode 08 - CB4SM - Robert G. Ingersoll - Religion of Humanity

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Robert G. Ingersoll. The passage comes from a series of remarks given by Robert Greeley, chair of the Robert G. Ingersoll Memorial Committee, at the opening of an Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. According to Greeley, Ingersoll was waiting for a train in Waco when a reporter asked him, “Colonel, the clergy say that you are nothing but a secularist, one who goes around promoting secularism. How do you answer that charge?” Ingersoll's extemporaneous reply is still relevant over a hundred years later.

You can subscribe directly in iTunes or download the podcast directly here.

I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LDS cult waterboards babies

What do you do when an infant becomes difficult to manage?  Submit it to water torture, of course:
“It’s quite common,” Carolyn Blackmore Jessop said. She was a witness for the B.C. government in the constitutional reference case to determine whether Canada’s polygamy law is valid.

“They spank the baby and when it cries, they hold the baby face up under the tap with running water. When they stop crying, they spank it again and the cycle is repeated until they are exhausted.”

It’s typically done by fathers and it’s called “breaking in...”

Her assertions about water torture were not challenged by FLDS lawyer Robert Wickett during cross-examination.

I simply haven't the words.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Erick Erickson: Government shouldn't accommodate atheists, or even mention them.

CNN contributor Erick Erickson can't stand that there are atheists in the United States, expecting to be treated equally by the federal government. 

Erickson criticizes President Obama for calling for a "Moment of Silence" rather than a "Moment of Prayer," the way God intended it (pay no attention to Jesus urging prayers to be done in secret.)  Never mind that previous Republican presidents have done the same thing.  When Obama does it, it's because Obama is "of the left."

But the offensive part is when Erickson argues that the President shouldn't "accommodate atheists" even by calling for "prayer or reflection."  Why, in Obama's inaugural speech, he had the audacity to "mention" atheists. Can you imagine such a thing?

(No word on when Erickson plans to contact his U.S. Representative and ask him or her to begin the paperwork on repealing the First Amendment.)

Shira Hirschman Weiss: Why do Atheists Even Care?

On Huffington Post, Shira Hirschman Weiss writes . . .well, an interesting article on atheists, wondering aloud why atheists pay so close attention to the goings-on of the religious.  She starts off well enough, saying that atheists are "some of the most interesting people I've met," and that "Atheists want to be well-informed."

However, she also gives voice to others who espouse common myths about atheists, like that some atheists may be secret agnostics who read the religious sections of news sites because they are struggling with internal doubts.

She quotes several atheists, many of them comedians, who joke about monitoring the religious for self-protection or for the humor aspect.  But then Weiss, for some reason, asks theologians why atheists pay attention to them.  Unsurprisingly, they get it all wrong.  A rabbi somehow knows that "deep down within every person is a yearning for belief in God."  No, Rabbi, it's called a yearning for the truth.  A pastor wonders why atheists responded so strongly to her religious assertions when she lets believers in astrology alone.  Perhaps that's because astrologers don't work to force their wacky beliefs on the rest of us via legislation and public education, that's why.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Superstition in the Supreme Court

Sadly, one can graduate from law school while still believing in Satan.  No word yet on whether the belief in the Tooth Fairy, Cthulu, or leprechauns is required to pass the bar exam.

"What do you think about Satan?" That's not a typical question at the Supreme Court, but those words were indeed uttered by Justice Scalia on January 10. The question drew a near belly laugh from the packed gallery, leaving one to wonder whether the Devil has become nothing more than a joke in modern America...

As I bowed my head to pray, I asked the Almighty (who now is publicly replaced by silence if not yet laughter) to bind a Devil who seems to be quite actively at work (as evidenced by the actions of a deranged young atheist in Tuscon) even while the real possibility of his evil existence is ignored in the hearts of men and the halls of earthly power.

If Satan was a real evil entity, the United States government would have sold him weapons long ago.

Cold Beer Podcast Featured in iTunes

Well, this is mildly exciting for me.  My podcast Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind is on the "New and Noteworthy" page in iTunes under the category of "Religion and Spirituality - Other."

Of course, it's probably more accurate for iTunes to call this group "New OR Noteworthy," and that my own effort falls under the former label rather than the latter.  But it's an honor just to be nominated.

Episode 07 - CB4SM - Rabbi Sherwin Wine - Two Visions

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Rabbi Sherwin Wine, 20th century American rabbi and a founding figure of Humanistic Judaism. The passage is called "Two Visions" and highlights two competing visions for the future of America.

You can subscribe in iTunes or get the podcast directly here.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 25 Living Atheists

A site I'm not familiar with ranks the 25 Most Influential Living Atheists.

Many of these are slam-dunks, but I personally would have included George H. Smith, who was instrumental to my deconversion, whereas some of the names on this list of 25 I've never heard of.

What do you think of the list?  Missing anyone? 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bill O'Reilly: God of the Gaps explains what I don't understand

Bill O'Reilly knows God exists.  Why?  Because there are tides. 

Mr. O'Reilly apparently worships a moon deity.

Episode 06 - CB4SM - Algernon Black - Call to the Living

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Algernon Black, American teacher and the leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, and his inspiration free verse called, "This is a Call to the Living."

You can subscribe in iTunes or get the podcast directly here*.

I hope you enjoy it.

* Apologies.  I originally linked to the wrong file, which has now been fixed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jack Chick tract: Uninvited

I never fail to be amused by the hateful self-righteousness of Jack Chick tracts.  A new one is up called Uninvited.

In summary: All homosexual men were molested as children.
All AIDS patients are gay.
God hates gays.

(Never mind that this would mean that all gays have AIDS.)

The Christian figure, a female nurse, having told the AIDS patients that their homosexuality is what put them into the hospital in the first place, retells her own conversion story.  At the age of six, she had been raped, and she staggered into a church for help.  She asks the pastor, "I want to die.  Can Jesus help me?"  To which the pastor answers, "Yes, child, yes!"  (Psst.  Don't ask the barber if you need a haircut.)

Then the nurse announces that if it hadn't been for Jesus allowing her to be raped and brutally beate--that is, for forgiving her of her dreadful sins . . . "I could have become a lesbian--or worse!"  Exactly what is worse than a lesbian is left to the imagination.

Jack Chick is an effective spokesperson for atheism.