More on the cost of religion

Via Ed’s blog comes this report of volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center lying to women.

For several minutes, a CPC employee told horror stories about the dangers of being on birth control, saying she typically tries to talk women out of using it. She likened birth control to “tremendous dosages of steroids,” and belittled her patient for opting to flood her body with artificial hormones. “You really want that stuff inside of you? You have a brain, think and choose here,” she said. “Any of that stuff is just not good for you…”

The CPC employee falsely asserted that condoms and birth control pills are about equally effective at preventing pregnancy, and claimed that using condoms doesn’t actually prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. “They’re naturally porous — there’s always a chance of them breaking, a chance of spillage,” she said. “The only safe sex is no sex.”

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It’s better to believe

Some people will tell you that there’s a lot of good in religion, and even if it’s not really true, it’s a benign and harmless delusion.

Meet the evidence to the contrary.

A leap of faith that sent an Arizona family bound for the South Pacific in a sailboat has returned them in an airplane after a harrowing ordeal at sea that saw them adrift and nearly out of food in one of the remotest stretches of ocean on the planet.

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Pascal’s counter-wager

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The interesting thing about gambling on the supernatural is that the supernatural, by definition, has no objective, reality-based constraints. As soon as you can objectively measure and/or test something, and can determine whether or not it is likely to be true, it ceases to be properly supernatural, and becomes a question that can and should be answered through the use of the scientific method. Stick to the supernatural, and all bets are equally baseless.

For example, let’s suppose that there exists a supernatural predator who preys on the spirits of the gullible and incautious. Such a predator might groom his prey for the harvest, much as the American farmer fattens his turkey for Thanksgiving. He could manifest himself as a god, and attempt to lure believers to himself by various apparent (or genuine) miracles, and a pretense of spreading love, mercy and forgiveness. In the afterlife, anyone who sincerely believes in this god becomes god’s lunch for all eternity, or for at least as long as it takes the god to slowly gnaw away at your soul and devour it.

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Christianity and polytheism

I’ve been thinking about Christianity and polytheism. Not the more obvious polytheism you find in the Trinity, but rather the many different and incompatible beings that believers worship under the polymorphic title of “God.”

For example, one of the gods that believers worship is El Shaddai, the Almighty God. He’s a Biblical character, and he’s characterized by his omnipotent power. This sets him apart from, say, the lesser Jehovah, who gave Judah the land of Canaan but was unable to give him the plains “because they had chariots fitted with iron” (Judges 1). El Shaddai stands apart because he is truly almighty and his will is irresistible. Whatever he says, that’s what happens, just because he said so.

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Yeah, prostitutes

I was listening to Christian talk radio on my way home last night (ok, I admit it, I do that a lot), and the topic was gay marriage, or more generally homosexuality. It was kind of bizarre. They were trying to grapple with the fact that Jesus is losing the culture wars, especially in the arena of gay rights. It’s no longer cool to demonize gays, which means that believers at long last are beginning to realize that their attacks on gays do more damage to the church these days than to homosexuals. And they were groping, adrift, trying to find some way to reconcile their religious dogmas with the fact that homosexuals are not actually evil, immoral, or corrupt.

And they found it. Sorta. They decided that it was ok for Christians to tolerate homosexuals because Jesus used to hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors.

This, in Christian circles, is “progress.”

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