Fudge the facts and declare victory

You may have heard about the recent church/state clash in Colorado, where the Delta County high schools and middle schools were distributing Gideon Bibles to the students, and thus were required to also distribute “atheistic and satanic literature” provided by the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers. And you may be wondering, how do you cope with such a clear violation of Christian privilege if you’re a die-hard believer and want only Christian literature distributed? Apparently, if you’re Charisma News, you respond like this:

Atheists Fuming Mad That School Won’t Allow Godless Campaign

And, as a little extra garnish, the article comes complete with a Flickr photo of “Atheists … upset at the school district’s censorship,” holding up signs that say atheist things—with the Washington Monument clearly visible in the background.

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Faith under pressure

I’ve been an atheist for a good while now, but for the first 40-some years of my life I was an old-fashioned American Christian. It’s where I developed my original sense of what kind of place the world was, and what the difference is between right and wrong. And I think that’s why part of me is continually astonished by the continual rabid lust Christians have for persecuting people who are different in harmless ways.

It’s as though all the civil rights advances of the past 80 years have been putting the Christian faith under more and more pressure by denying them an outlet for their desire to hurt people. And now, with a black guy in the White House, and gay couples being allowed the same privileges as heterosexual couples, believers have had enough.

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Allah Is Not Dead 2

CNSNews.com is reporting that a well-known actress is experience significant persecution ever since her latest film came out. Or at least, I think they’re reporting that. The headline very clearly states:

Melissa Joan Hart: ‘I’m Getting Grief for Playing the Good Christian Woman Who is Persecuted!’

Somehow, though, the article itself completely fails to mention any persecution actually being inflicted. In fact, it looks like carelessly dashed-off marketing material for the film. But I wonder how that ad copy would sound if we made just one small change in the premises?

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #9 and #10

This should about wrap up TodayChristian’s list of “unanswerable” questions, because we can do two questions in one post. Here’s question #9.

9.       What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?

That’s an easy one to answer: they’re all authors, they’ve written some interesting and controversial books, and they have their flaws as well as their strengths, same as anybody else. I like some of the things they’ve written, such as The God Delusion by Dawkins, and I’ve seen some of their ad hoc writings that suggest negative traits ranging from privileged sexism to outright irrational xenophobia and Islamophobia. But that’s about it.

I’m not sure why this is on the list of “10 Unanswerable Questions.” Does TodayChristian think these three modern writers invented atheism or something? Anyway, there’s not much more to say about #9, so let’s take the last question.

TodayChristian’s last “unanswerable” question is this:

10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

A question like that invites the counter question: If there is a God, why does ever society have more than one religion? But let’s answer the question that was asked, below the fold.

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #8

TodayChristian’s Question #8, on the list of “unanswerable” questions, is a three-fer.

8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

The answer for all three questions is the same, and unfortunately it’s a bit harsh. The explanation for all of the above questions is that people are gullible.

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #6

Today’s “unanswerable” question is another easy one.

6.       If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?

Easy: God has nothing to do with meaning. Meaning exists apart from God, and comes from the fundamentally-ordered nature of reality itself. But I’m getting ahead of myself. To really answer TodayChristian’s question, we should first examine what he or she is really asking.

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #5

Question #5, from TodayChristian’s list of 10 “unanswerable” questions, finally creates an interesting problem. Not because it’s particularly hard to answer, but because it’s essentially a re-phrasing of question #4.

5.       If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

This is the real problem with superstition-based moral systems like Christianity. Because TodayChristian’s faith wants to make God the only reason why people do anything, he or she has completely failed to understand what the real-world constraints are on our behavior. And in fact, TodayChristian has it completely backwards, in some ways. People who have a God are often more likely to feel free to do what they want, up to and including murder and rape. It’s the atheists, who understand that actions have material consequences, who have the best basis for consistent good behavior.

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10 “Unanswerable” questions #4

So far, TodayChristian’s 10 “unanswerable” questions have turned out to be pretty easy to answer. Question 4 is no harder.

4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?

All good morality comes from the same place: material reality. Even Christians take their morals from material reality, for the most part. Sure, they superstitiously attribute them to God, and tack on a number of arbitrary, harmful “moral” codes that aren’t really moral at all. But ultimately, morality is dictated by material reality, apart from anything any god could say or do.

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A friendly quibble

The Friendly Atheist just posted a good look at another instance of Ted Cruz’s hypocrisy on the subject of church/state separation, along with documentation showing just how big of a hypocrite Cruz is being. Towards the end, though, he says something that bothers me just a bit.

The question Dougherty asked was: “How and why does your religion play a part in your political decision making?”

Cruz never directly answered that because the truth is that faith plays a role in everything he does. That might be okay if he were a random citizen, but it’s downright illegal when he’s supposed to be the leader of all Americans.

Well, no. I know what he means, but that’s not quite right. It’s not illegal, even for someone in the government, to allow faith to play a role in everything they do. The dividing line comes when they have to choose between their faith and the law. The law must take precedence, including the law that requires the government to be neutral with respect to religion. As long as the believer abides by that constraint, in the execution of his or her governmental duties, there’s nothing forbidding faith from having a role in the person’s life. They just have to make sure they do nothing to impose their faith on anyone else.

In Cruz’s case, of course, the distinction is moot, because he puts his faith above the law, and so he violates the law, and advocates violation of the law, whenever doing so works to establish his religion as “superior” to all others. “Religious liberty” in Cruz’s mind is nothing more nor less than Christian supremacy, and he’s more than happy to force his religious principles on anyone and everyone he can. That’s what makes him a hypocrite when he talks about “defending religious freedom.” Not just the fact that he lives by his faith.

Ok, quibble satisfied. Carry on.