Well, all this is interesting to me, anyway, and that's what matters here. The Internet is a terrible thing for someone like me, who finds almost everything interesting.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
What a friend you have in Jesus!
If you're easily offended, I'd skip this one! I'm not a huge fan of Betty Bowers, myself, but this is pretty funny.
Of course, there are arguments that ridicule is counterproductive. I don't think I agree with that, but ridicule is impolite. That bothers me a little more.
But then I see things like this - ultra-orthodox Jews spitting on a little girl for dressing "immodestly." Suddenly, I feel like I did after the 9/11 attacks, that religion deserves all the ridicule it can get!
Oh, sure, that isn't your religion, right? Heck, your religion doesn't even burn women alive, not anymore. (That's generous of you, I'm sure.)
Yeah, that's sarcasm. So why am I ridiculing your religion? Don't atheists do bad things sometimes? Yes, of course we do. But as I see it, there are two issues here.
The first might not apply to you, but it applies to many Christians - those right-wing Christians trying to use the Republican Party to destroy the separation of church and state in America. These ultra-orthodox Jews are such a problem in Israel because they're favored by the government.
They don't work. They're exempt from military service (despite being rabid hawks, doing their best to foment war). They expect Israel to exist for them. But there's no separation of church and state in Israel, so this kind of thing can happen.
This is what right-wing Christians are trying to bring to America. It's our own Taliban. Of course, it's a different religion which will be calling the shots, but if you think that's going to matter much, you're naive.
OK, you might be a liberal Christian. You might support the separation of church and state. Many - perhaps most - Christians do, and I certainly appreciate that. But... I'm sorry to tell you that there's still a problem.
The problem is faith-based thinking in general. Your beliefs might be perfectly innocuous. But if you believe them because of faith, how can you criticize others for believing something different, also because of faith? After all, they believe for the same reason you do.
The 9/11 hijackers were people of perfect faith. They knew what their god wanted them to do, just like you know what your god wants you to do. And they knew it for the same reason you do, because they'd been raised to believe it and because they had faith.
These ultra-orthodox Jews spit on little girls because they have faith. It's not your faith, but it's still faith-based.
Now, atheists can do terrible things, too. I might argue that Stalin - who attended a church school, and then the seminary, for ten years - simply switched his faith to Communism, and wasn't actually evidence-based at all. Nevertheless, evidence-based people can be wrong. And being evidence-based won't necessarily keep all people from doing terrible things.
The difference is that evidence-based people come to a consensus on what's right and what isn't. We might not all agree, but by using evidence, we can come to a clear consensus. But faith-based people won't ever come to a consensus. That's why there are so many different religions in the world, but only one science.
Furthermore, evidence-based thinking - especially as formulated in the scientific method - is the best way we've ever discovered of determining the truth, the best way we've ever discovered of distinguishing the truth from wishful thinking. Faith is indistinguishable from wishful thinking. That's why there are so many crazy religions in the world (but, as I say, only one science).
And if your faith can't withstand a little ridicule, it's a pretty thin reed, don't you think? You can ridicule atheism all you want, I don't care. Feel free to ridicule evidence-based thinking. It's not going to bother me. I might even change my mind, if you have a good argument to go with it.
But I wouldn't count on that. I think I've heard all the arguments many times before.
PS. My thanks to Jeff for the link to the Israeli story. (Be sure to watch the video there, not at YouTube, in order to get the English subtitles.)
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It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
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The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
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A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
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