Archbishop defies president, society

Bit late, but I wanted to comment on this one. According to USATODAY.com, Archbishop Timothy Nolan (Grand Wizard head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) is putting pressure on President Obama to try and stop his senseless rush towards tolerance and civil rights for gays.

Dolan said the bishops are especially upset that the administration and opponents of DOMA are framing their argument as a civil rights issue, which he said equates “opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination.”

Right, because framing is something that only conservatives are allowed to do, for example by pretending to “defend marriage” and by refusing to address gay marriage as anything other than an attempt to “redefine” it.

Why can’t Catholic archbishops tell the truth about what they hate and what they’re doing to try and stop it? Simple: the Church is using sex to sustain Christianity, and they’re scared to death of losing control of it. That’s why they always refer to THEIR definition of marriage as THE definition of marriage. As soon as there’s any competition for the Catholic definition of marriage, the Church loses an important competitive advantage. They’ve spent literally thousands of years training people to assume that the Church controls their access to sexual fulfillment, and that only the church can provide them with a legitimate outlet for their sexual desires, through the “sacrament” of marriage. Break this monopoly, and disaster ensues, because without the threat of sexual frustration, what’s left to draw people into the faith? The Holy Spirit? Gimme a break!

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Shooting your own horse

There seems to be a new debating tactic among adversaries of the New Atheists, and one Colin Tudge gives us a good example.

Richard Dawkins has no sense of irony. He rails endlessly against fundamentalists yet he defends old-fashioned, Thomas Gradgrind-style materialism as zealously as the Mid-West Creationists defend the literal truth of Genesis. He accuses others of misrepresentation yet he seriously misrepresents religion. Also, which is irony writ large, he misrepresents science, in whose name he is assumed to speak. He condemns the Catholics for filling the heads of children with a particular view of life before they have had a chance to think for themselves – and now, in The Magic of Reality, written for readers as young as nine, he has done precisely that. As somebody said of Miss Jean Brodie, it’s time he was put a stop to.

Sounds like a pretty spirited opposition, right? Full frontal assault, reinforced by famous people (or famous names at least) like Spinoza and Schrödinger, and appeals to both modern science and modern theology. And then there’s this.

Religions do not depend upon their myths and miracles. They are there as illustrations.

Bam.  You’re coming around the first turn, the crowd is cheering, you’re ready to make your big move to overtake the leader, and you pull out a large revolver and shoot your own horse dead. True religion, you see, is religion without the supernatural. All those myths and miracles and such are merely illustrations, not meant to be taken literally. To understand why Dawkins is wrong, you have to understand Christmas without the Virgin Birth and the Nativity story, Easter without the Resurrection, Christianity without Christ. Then you’ll see why Dawkins’ criticisms are off base.

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Gospel Disproofs #4 & #5: Heaven and the Ascension

One of the oldest myths in the Bible is the idea of heaven, the abode of God, as a physical place up in the sky over Palestine. Genesis 1 kicks off the myth by describing the creation of the heavens along with the creation of the earth, with a “firmament” between the two. The fact that this heaven was intended as a physical place is seen in the fact that it holds water and has doors in it, which can be shut to stop any of the water from falling as rain, or opened to make it rain, or opened really wide to make it flood. And if He’s in a good mood, God can even open these doors and drop a little food down for his hungry followers. Not metaphorical food, either—real food you can gather and eat and live on for forty years (or so Exodus claims).

Numerous passages attest to heaven’s physical location as being up above the earth. From heaven, God looks down on men, and when men want to turn to God (usually to ask Him for something) they turn their attention up to heaven. Up there is where the angels are too, and when God sends one or more of them, He sends them down to the earth. In fact, Jacob (aka Israel) happened to stumble upon the very spot where the gateway to heaven was, and in a dream he saw the actual ladder between earth and heaven, with angels ascending and descending it. A very few lucky people even made the trip up to heaven.

The only trouble is, of course, that it’s not really up there.

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The truth will out (no pun intended)

Remember those video recordings of the lawsuit against gay marriage, the recordings that anti-gay activists didn’t want anyone to see? They’re coming out.

Video recordings of the trial over California’s gay marriage ban should be unsealed, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

District Judge James Ware in San Francisco said in a court order that there was “no compelling” reason to keep the digital files under seal.

This is a serious setback for those who believe in the right to harass and oppress others from the safety and privacy of court-protected anonymity. In this case, however, I think the interests of society as a whole outweigh the privileges of the oppressors.

This week at ER: Back to Square One

Over at the Evangelical Realism blog, we’re taking an in-depth look at premise 1 of Dr. William Lane Craig’s famous Kalam Cosmological argument, in the first of a series of posts on Chapter four of his book On Guard. The gist of it is that Dr. Craig is playing a bit of a word game: when we say that nothing created the universe, we’re not saying that “nothing” is a “something” that exists in a cause-and-effect relationship with the cosmos. We’re just saying the universe is uncaused, just like Christians are doing when they say “nothing created God.”

Click the link for the full post.

 

Oo, wicked

Here’s a headline that gives a bit of pause.

Atheist Group to Rip Up Bible Passages on Saturday

Mixed feelings, eh? I mean, I’ve got no compunctions about the Bible being a holy book or anything, but on the other hand, book ripping isn’t really all that different from book burning. But read the details.

An Orange County, Calif. atheist group plans to put on a demonstration Saturday afternoon in which they will rip up sections of the Bible that they deem “immoral.”

Though they won’t be tearing pages straight out of a book, members of Backyard Skeptics, OC’s largest atheist organization, plans to rip up photocopies of the Scriptures on the Huntington Beach pier.

Brilliant! They found a way to express their disapproval of significant Scriptural passages, without giving in to the temptations of censorship and oppression. They claim that they’re not out to offend anyone (yeah, right), but that they’re hoping to educate people. Don’t apologize, guys—outrageousness is what gets their attention. If Rush Limbaugh went out of his way to avoid offending people, we’d be referring to him as “Rush who??”

And it looks like this stunt is already producing some very educational results. See below the fold for the Christian response.

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And on the other hand…

…sometimes common sense does prevail. A federal appeals court has ruled that a San Diego County school district does have the right to tell Christian teachers not to use their classrooms for proselytizing. The case at hand concerns a math teacher who wanted to establish religion by hanging “testimonial” banners in his class.

The two banners, each about 7 feet by 2 feet, contained references to God from U.S. documents and patriotic songs. One quoted the Declaration of Independence passage that all men are “endowed by their CREATOR” with unalienable rights.

The banners also trumpeted phrases such as “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE,” but do not seem to have imparted any concepts with any particular relationship to mathematics, the subject of the class. Predictably, the teacher complained about discrimination against Christians, effectively confessing that he was indeed explicitly promoting Christianity in the classroom. At first, this was a winning argument, but when the appeals court looked at what he was specifically complaining about, it reversed the lower court ruling.

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In defense of marriage

Over at the Huffington Post, Alvin McEwen writes:

It’s time for this “we need to protect marriage” con to die. And it will. It could happen in North Carolina or Minnesota. Both states are facing anti-marriage-equality votes next year. Or it could happen before then. But rest assured, it will happen.

Amen. I’m all for defending marriage, provided we recognize that the biggest threat against marriage right now is excessive government intrusion into people’s private and personal business. Let’s defend marriage—gay or straight—from the legalistic machinations of bigoted busybodies who want to take it away. And when it comes to putting that kind of protection into the Constitution, I’m all for that too.

Multi-faith groups want religion out of public schools

Calling all Christians! Better hop on a bus and head for Toronto, or school prayer in Canada might end up like school prayer in the US.

With the Ontario election less than a month away, a number of multi-faith groups are calling on the provincial party leaders to take a public stance on religious teachings in secular schools.

(Psst! The rest of you guys, don’t tell them this part…)

Valley Park Middle School … has been permitting an afternoon Islamic prayer service in its cafeteria for its students for the past year.

An imam directs the voluntary 40-minute service every Friday, which was started after administrators realized that many students missed class because they had to leave the school to attend the service at a mosque.

That’s right, they’re all on their way to promote the spread of Islam. Maybe when they get back, they’ll have just a teensy bit more insight into why secular schools are a good idea?