Time Magazine – No Deity Will Save Us; We Must Save Ourselves

Joe Klein’s piece on Time Magazine that made their front page is about Service. In particular service to a cause that is good and how it heals those who are suffering with PTSD and how it can give purpose to “a life lost”.

In particular it discusses combat PTSD which has to be differentiated to other PTSD due to the training received by the individual in the armed services. The PTSD suffered by a doctor is different to that of a soldier. There are similarities but some manifestations are different particularly how they cope compared to a civilian.

The article goes into a wonderful charity that is getting veterans back on their feet by giving them something “bigger” than themselves again to “serve”. To help those who are less fortunate and to socialise and indeed get them moving and not sit around feeling sorry for themselves.

It’s a lofty ideal and if it is working for these veterans then good. Excellent. Well done. High Fives and Beers All Round. I have no problems with that bit.

But does Joe really have to shoot himself in the foot while writing this piece? [Read more...]

SSA Blogathon – And So It Begins!

Well! The Hangout is now properly online. People are there discussing things (Smoking Meat and Swamps…) but we have a variety of things to do including playing our version of Cards (well Hangouts) Against Humanity while I blog.

Update – We are now just $5 short of the Target, so anyone who wants to round up the amount they are welcome to do so! Then we can see how high we can get!

I am blogging as part of the Secular Student Alliance’s blogathon. I am trying to aim for a blog post every so often unlike the shambolic haphazard events of Tuesday. In addition? I am accepting “requests”.

The link to the hangout is here. But the blogathon proper should start in around 2 Hours and continue at a more sedate and sane pace.

If you wish to donate to the Secular Student Alliance then the link is here. And yes, you can suggest forfeits.

Food – Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

One of the biggest killers in the world is malnourishment. It’s a global issue and covers a variety of conditions affecting both the developed and the developing nations.

It’s a global phenomenon. Yes you did hear me right, we in the west have malnourishment issues just as much as we in the developing world face it but the faces of the two things are different. [Read more...]

Waahmbulance

I was supposed to write about Bal Thackeray but in light of the arrests of those who have spoke out against this odious man who has harmed countless lives in the name of Hindutva and whose antics have made Hindus look like a bunch of intolerant toss weasels… In light of the backlash against those who have questioned this alleged epitome of hinduism, I shall plan a larger post.

In the meantime a reader from Wisconsin (You know who you are…) told me about this.

Apparently a few christians are getting their knickers in a twist. What is it now? War on Christmas? Sharia Law? Secret Kenyan Muslim Presidents born to Subjects of the British Empire with a Jewish name?

Nope. It’s Free thought and Humanism. The University of Wisconsin has approved of their first Atheists, Humanists and Agnostic Society. With a total funding of a WHOPPING 70,000 dollars. Wait what? 70… Grand? Why is this a big deal? That doesn’t seem like a lot of money to operate what appears to be a large society wanting to set infrastructure that aids an entire university. It is apparently the largest amount set aside by any university for a AHA society.

Actually the total amount turns out to be less than 70,000 dollars and considering it’s the first year and they wish to set up services that would eat through half their budget? That’s not a bad sum. But there has been a fair few complaints about the money being given to “Those pesky Atheists”. Checking around I find out that it’s around 67,000 dollars.

So I did a little poking about.

There are 50 religious societies and organisations in the University of Wisconsin-Madison directory receiving money (I assume) from the University to run their stuff. There are multiple christian societies including evangelical ones. The only religion I have not seen represented in this list is Hinduism and Jainism. Even the Sikhs have a society here.

There is one atheist, humanist and agnostic one. Just one.

The people who are irritated are from the Faithful School of Wisconsin who are led by Jason Storms. They do routine evangelical tours to the University of Wisconsin, ostensibly to waste everyone’s time by trying to flog his version of Jesus to people who he thinks are confused by the liberal nature of education. Rather than people who question their fairy tales because they finally start learning away from the social norm that includes faith. A few choice quotes (Do not quote me for veracity, these were in the rant I got. I have looked around. IF anyone can confirm them, I shall give you a e-cookie or an i-cookie)…

“It’s an extremely liberal school. Very left-wing, any Christian that goes to that school, their faith is under heavy attack.”

I don’t think christians going there are under heavy attack. Not when the majority of religious groups are actually for christians.

“It’s going to morally confuse young people in understanding their place in the universe,”

Unlike the religion that claims that the entire universe with it’s billions of galaxies each with their billions of stars all exist solely for the sake of a bunch of mainly white christians who believe in a magic carpenter who died by his own art. (Am I the only person who see the irony of a carpenter dying by a piece of joinery?).

“We’ve seen the rise of the secular state in the last century, and I don’t think it’s helpful to contribute to a worldview that is based on humanism.”

Then clearly the last 100 years of History are lost. Perhaps a lesson in History is in order. If only there were some sort of institution that taught history to people. Like a place where a bunch of people can sit around and either listen to someone more educated tell them about history or give them access to books about history. Some sort of Universal Education City.

“How has believing that there is no God contributed to our society?”

Lightning Rods. Eradication of Smallpox. Syphilis? Leprosy? I mean of the top of my head the number of diseases alleged to be sent by god to kill humans but we have kerb stomped with science is a rather large one. I wonder where you could learn the things that humans have achieved without praying to any gods.

So I wanted to talk about funding. I asked my email buddy to do me a favour. I wanted to know what the funding for any of the other religious groups is.

So far? Badger Catholic are the only one whose funding he could get. $116,000.

So yes, Christians are not complaining that Atheists are getting more money than they are they are complaining that this is the largest atheist fund in the country. And it is still lower than the Christian groups. It is estimated (Again… ROUGH!) that the Christian groups are 16 in number and roughly get $1,600,000 between them. Roughly a $100,000 a piece.

So it’s not only a rather modest amount, but it’s also rather modest spending for an unrepresented group.

So all I can say to the Faithful School of Wisconsin and Jason Storms?

It is my honest medical opinion that you just got burned. I have to call you a Waahmbulance.

Thank you for hovering your mouse over the image. Your Satanic Hail has been sent. For more options, press the hash key and listen to Dio.

Hello Whine Whine Whine? I need a Waaahmbulance.

And all I can say to FTB and readers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is congrats on getting a society where you can hang out and summon satan… Remember, if you circle your mouse three times counterclockwise over the above image then leave it in place you can place your vote for our dark master. Go out there and show the Wisconsinites (Is that a thing?) some love.

Kids these Days

With their gangs and their baggy pants and their hophip music and their atheism.

So what’s the pope so mad about today? Is it the millions of people doomed to die in Africa if they don’t use condoms? Is it the treatment of homosexuals in Uganda where they are planning to execute gay people? Is it the death of Savitha and how the church needs to modernise? Nope! It’s about a group he hates more than atheists.

The practical atheism of those who say they are Christian but live as if God does not exist is a greater threat than actual atheism, Pope Benedict XVI said as he presented three ways for people to more fully discover God. While actual atheists often think deeply about God before rejecting belief, practical atheism “is even more destructive … because it leads to indifference towards faith and the question of God,” the Pope stated.

This basically means “the Roman Catholics who refuse to play nice” and who don’t listen to the pope. The catholics who basically don’t follow the stupidity and who actively criticise the way the RC church is run. AKA “the critics”.

It’s not the indifference he dislikes. It’s the fact that they are eroding at his power. That people realise that he is not the First Amongst Catholics but an old man flogging superstition.

Christian witness is always hard, he said, because people are prone to “being dazzled by the glitter of worldliness,” but in the Western world sharing the faith is even harder today. As he described it, the Christian faith was the everyday reality for most people in what used to be called Christendom. The burden was on non-believers to justify their disbelief.

Really Pope? Is that the best you can do?

You are finding it harder to “witness” (AKA prosletyse and convert) because people are more educated and don’t think they need to follow a 2000 year old book to be perceived as good. Especially when that 2000 year old book actually insists on a moral code that is a step backwards from our current morality.

And the pope doesn’t seem to understand (amongst other things such as fashion, sex, morality and women) how proof works. You cannot disprove unicorns, doesn’t mean unicorns exist. The person making the grandiose claim must provide proof. During “christendom” people didn’t fucking know any better. They either accepted the existence of god or they fucking died. The church was also the sole proprietor of all knowledge to the point that western society lost the ability to build domes and arches. Stuff we could build before the bible such as the Colosseum could not be built after Christendom was established. The sum total of knowledge regressed because western society believed that men who believe in imaginary things should control knowledge. And such men do not see the value of bridges and domes. When we discuss architecture, remember “Gothic” was an insult (It is the art of barbarians. Of primitive building techniques. The death of knowledge left us with that system. To the average Dark Age architect the stuff the Romans built would have seemed like freaking magic. Imagine being from a society that couldn’t build wide open spaces suddenly being confronted with a massive dome such as the one on the Hagia Sofia or the US capitol building? That would blow your mind. You have effectively using science made rocks FLY and to the man with no grasp of this style of architecture built things by defying gravity. This is second nature to us but it would be like walking on one of those glass floors if you didn’t know about domes and arches.

If you don’t care for these things then you haven’t grasped the value of reality.

It took centuries to regain the knowledge and only because of Islamic scholars who preserved it and expanded upon it. The enlightenment created western society. We all know that. The pope still thinks that lack of evidence is support for something existing because there is no evidence to suggest against it.

But today the tables have turned, following a long slide into atheism, skepticism and a secular worldview that was ushered in by the Enlightenment.

Only an idiot would consider the Enlightenment as a bad thing. This is a man who yearns for the days of papal decree, excommunications and inquisitions and good olde tithes and burning protestants.

This, in turn, has paved the way for moral and spiritual disaster in the Western world. People have become confused about ethics once commonly held, making room for relativism and fostering “an ambiguous conception of freedom, which instead of being liberating ends up binding man to idols,” the Pope said.

Like slavery, racism and sexism. And currently? Bashing  and killing gays and letting women have access to basic medicine. Letting people have sex without interfering in it? Worries about a penis macintosh? Such a disaster…

It is better to have an ambiguous concept of freedom than to be a definite slave. I need to have that on a t-shirt.

In response to the ensuing moral and spiritual chaos, Pope Benedict called on all people to discover God by following three paths.

Crime is at an all time low. We have (barring a certain country with a fascination for stars and horizontal stripes and a disrespect for tea) as a planet had a period of the greatest stability, peace and progress. We have taken our first tentative steps to functioning as a species rather than as a nation or a caste. Yes we have a long way to go but Rome wasn’t built in a day. But it certainly can burn in one. It’s why defending secularism and keeping religion from politics and education and from influencing public life is vital.

The first path involves contemplating creation. “The world is not a shapeless magma, but the more we know, the more we discover the amazing mechanisms; the more we see a pattern, we see that there is a creative intelligence,” the Holy Father remarked.

Really? I thought the more you learnt about how the world worked the more you realise that religion doesn’t know anything and that the pope is actually a scientifically illiterate man in a robe and silly hat rather than the chosen representative of mankind to a god.

The second way of finding God is through inner contemplation. Benedict quoted St. Augustine’s famous saying, “Do not go outside yourself, come back into yourself: Truth dwells in the heart of man.” He also observed that the modern world is full of distractions that make it hard “to stop and take a deep look within ourselves and read that thirst for the infinite that we carry within, pushing us to go further and towards that Someone who can satisfy it.”

If the pope thinks the world is full of distractions, then perhaps he can sell the Vatican. This is proper “Opiates of the Masses stuff”. You are distracted by jealousy of the rich, go pray and you will be richer than the man who has real fruit, healthcare and the obscene amount of money. Richer in spirit!

The third path, faith, is a dimly lit path for many people who view it as a limited aspect of life, if not a form of “illusion, escapism … or sentimentality. Faith … is an encounter with God, who speaks and acts in history and which converts our daily life, transforming our mentality, system of values, choices and actions,” he said. Faith is “not illusion, escapism, a comfortable shelter, sentimentality, but involvement in every aspect of life and proclamation of the Gospel, the Good News which can liberate all of man.”

I prefer the word delusion. Medically, a delusion is defined as a belief that is demonstrably wrong but is still held despite being repeatedly proven wrong. Any proof is twisted and turned to support the delusion. So if I believe that my socks are being stolen by the Sock Goblin and you tell me that it’s the dryer, then either you will be part of the Sock Goblin Propaganda Machine or the Dryer will become the nebulous gateway to the Sock Goblin home world of Umbro. Hence atheist conspiracies and such ridiculous notions that the entire natural mechanism of the function of the planet is proof of a specific personal deity.

Yet many people consider Christianity as a mere system of beliefs and morals instead of God’s self-revelation in history so that he could have a loving relationship with his creatures. “Christianity, before being a moral or ethical value, is the experience of love, of welcoming the person of Jesus,” Pope Benedict stated, calling on all Christians to learn better the faith they profess and purify their lives in conformity with Christ.

Unlike those Hindus and Muslims whose faiths are a mere system of beliefs and morals rather than God’s self revelation in history. Also? My god is sexier than yours? Yours is a bearded old man who cannot fight iron chariots. One of my old ones was a sexy youth who brains old men with chariot wheels. Clearly “impromptu weapon” murder and “sexy” is a better skill set than “Carpenter” and “Impromptu Caterer”.

Krishna Intervenes

Goddamnit Krishna! Put a shirt on before you kill the old man. The ladies will swoon! SWOON!!!!  (Mahabaratha)

Mrs. Vieland rejoiced in the unity of Catholicism on display in the hall, with so many people from around the world professing their common faith: “I believe that if more people came to Rome to see the unity of the Church, they’d become closer to Our Lord.”

I think most of us have seen what belief in Catholicism can do. In order to believe that you would have the rape and child abuse that was endemic to the catholic church. The church was so united that no one spoke out against paedophiles. Instead the offenders were moved around or in some cases took part of massive and horrendously systemic abuses such as the Christian Brothers who are estimated to have sexually and physically abused thousands of Irish Children. Papal Unity only grudgingly accepted that condoms helped save lives. After 20 years of fighting against it by actively spreading lies. Papal Unity still causes events like Savitha.

Papal unity can go fuck itself as far as I am concerned (Link is NSFW or Children. Contains Abortion and Recreations of Illicit Abortion). You cannot be a moral human being and be united behind the Roman Catholic Church. You can be a roman catholic and be moral but in order to do so you would have to be one of those “Catholics Who Are Practical Atheists”. You cannot side with an organisation responsible for millions of deaths across Africa, the restriction of women’s rights and access to basic contraception and which actually thinks the biggest issue of the day is “Lapsed Catholics” rather than “The fact that bullshit flogged by Catholicism has killed someone. We need to redress our beliefs”.

Merry Christmas

You know? You can celebrate holidays by doing your own thing right? I never really celebrated christmas becaus I was a Hindu (Duh! Why don’t you guys have a day where you get drunk and throw paint at each other? Why don’t you guys have a festival solely devoted to money? Why don’t you guys have a festival every other week?)

You can celebrate a holiday in way that means something to you. Infact that’s what people do for christmas. Mine goes and volunteers because we never really had a religious obligation. I used to work for the samaritans. Before that, my aunt and me would cook dinner and we would all spend time together. Because the time you spend with loved ones is more important than any god. You don’t need there to be a god to enjoy a holiday.

And that’s something Bill O’Reilley would never ever understand because he thinks that belief in a specific entity allows or prevents you to enjoy a specific day in the year.

To him the meaning of christmas is kowtowing to a mythical being. Not family, not friends, not the people you love. That somehow people are missing out from the spirit of christmas by staying at home with friends and family rather than going to a church. He probably assumes that there is something fundamentally wrong with anyone who doesn’t pray to his format of god on that day. And that is one thing I adore about Hindus in India. Holi is for everyone. Pongal is for everyone. Diwali is for everyone. The party doesn’t stop if you are a christian, or if you are a muslim. The prayer to Lakshmi is incidental to people lighting fireworks and spending time with family and friends which is far more important. My muslim neighbours know I am not very religious but still send around biriyani and sweets on Eid because that’s what being inclusive means.

Tim Tebow is mocked because he mixes faith and his sport a bit too much. While most players are fine with making the sign of the cross as they run onto the pitch or (there are fair few muslim players in football) reciting a short prayer in their heads. Tim Tebow disrupts the game with his worship and so draws ridicule. It also implies that God is more interested in Sport than say… feeding poor people (Then again since mankind made god in his image, Bill probably thinks god hates poor people).

And Jesus was not born into poverty. Jesus was born to a bloody carpenter. A job which at the time would have made Jesus middle class. The entire story boils down to “Mary had contractions while on holiday”.

I wouldn’t class Jesus as the most influential human being on earth. It’s rather insulting to real human beings whose influence changed the way we live our lives. Diamler Benz invented the Motor Car, more people rely on one than on Jesus. Fritz Haber invented artificial fertiliser, guess how many people across the world live due to his invention? The world is a sadder place with the loss of Steve Jobs but we have to remember the world works via Windows not OSX and thus Bill Gates would be more important than Jesus. I would also bring up Gandhi and Nehru whose work inspired billions across the world to freedom from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel. Others? Nicholas Tesla? Edison? Newton? Alexis Carrel? Alexander Fleming? Mary Curie? The Rolling Stones? The Beatles? Pele? Maradona? Zidane? Sachin Tendulkar? The man who first saw fire? The man who first saw the wheel? The man who brewed beer? And these are just the good examples! Not every influential person was good. Hitler? Stalin? Mao? George W Bush Jr? Ghenghis Khan?

So no, I can name people more influential than Jesus or Shiva or Allah or any god out there. Because that’s the difference between normal people and Bill. We can see the good in people and we can appreciate the good parts of humanity and revile the bad parts of humanity. We don’t ignore the achievements of real people. And that we as humans need to realise that there were countless people behind these names who worked to achieve their influence on the world. That the reason for for the season is not just axial tilt but also the things that humanity has to offer. 

Catholic Humanism is another term for evangelism

Austin Iverleigh’s Op-Ed piece deems humanism (which by nature is secular and universal) an inferior concept to something he calls Catholic Humanism, and quotes the pope on various challenges being made to the secular world.

See humanism is an approach to philosophy that espouses human centric ideology. Catholicism by it’s very nature requires faith in a completely magical entity. And the organised Catholic Church is under heavy attack across the western world from a combination of secular principles which simply don’t allow some of the things that the church took for granted just a few years ago and because of the very nature of the Church’s own problems. Basically, it has lost credibility, and has resorted to attacks on secularism rather than cleaning up it’s own problems.

“I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful,” he said, “to put the case for the promotion of faith’s wisdom and vision in the public forum”

The catholic vision involves everyone being a catholic. The entire point of secularism is that no religion gets a free ride. Not catholicism, not scientology and not the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Pope is “old school” and he probably is kind of puzzled why we don’t really want to listen to a bunch of celibate men in dresses hanging around in incredibly expensive houses telling us that the only god to follow is one who lived and died by carpentry and that this somehow pertains to real life decisions involving science, healthcare and economy.

It was not just that the myth of the British nation-state as Protestant had died: after all, here was the entire British political establishment sitting waiting patiently to be addressed by the Successor of St Peter.

The Pope however does not look like he could kill
a man with nothing more than a nod
and a syringe filled with polonium.

The greatest achievement of Great Britain is it’s secularism. It’s grown in strength from not being a religious state where faith is important. Just look at good olde catholic Ireland? You can blame England for a lot of it’s woes, but post independance the giant counterweight to progress and indeed freedom was not England but good old Roman Catholicism.. From contraception, to abortion to the simple right of two people who don’t love each other anymore to live separately.

And it’s called politeness. The pope is unfortunately a world leader with a lot of clout so he gets treated like one. Vladimir Putin get’s that kind of treatment too which doesn’t mean the UK suddenly wishes to replace steak and kidney pies with borscht.

The riots, coming in the wake of scandals in banking, journalism and politics, have led to call for a way of “re-moralising” society with values and virtues. What we are living through is, in essence, a crisis of the liberal project. Britain’s liberalism has long shown itself capable of managing and reconciling different interests. 

I am sure people weren’t rioting because the tabloid paper the News of the World were implicated in phone tapping which they had used in the past. They were basically torn a new one by actual proper solid journalism rather than hacking phones into private conversations. Someone basically asked around, gathered proof and dropped them into hot water while they were just publishing information gained from illegally tapping phones. They just happen to be owned by a giant news corporation. Political Scandals and Banking Problems were caused by people who for the most part routinely flaunt their christianity as if belief in magic somehow makes you a good person. Infact the current crisis has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the idea of conservatism which is linked to mainly christian people who assumed that no one would do anything this idiotically villainous (like artificially driving house prices up, like selling securities, like being really greedy) or worse were planning to do something this idiotically villainous to make a quick profit at the cost of others. It’s hard to tell, Americans do have a problem with belligerence, it’s easy to sum up. It’s no malicious, it’s just the incapability of understanding that our actions have effects beyond the immediate. We all are guilty of it, but americans due to their relatively privileged position are especially guilty of it because they often don’t realise what a simple action such as wanting cheap food can do to the world’s economy. Or indeed what a simple pleasure like water skiing can do in the wrong place…

I can’t get no satisfaction!

The morals people are sick off are the Church’s. Not only are Churches exempt from taxation but they also had enough political clout to cover up and protect paedophiles to protect their own image. The people who screwed the economy up were devout christians, the people who reduced banking oversight were people who proudly admitted that they go to church as if it means anythi
ng. The people who dragged us to war spoke lies to get us to go while claiming to be christians. How dissociated from reality do you have to be to think that the Riots are a failing of morals rather than people getting pissed off the lack of oversight in a system and how some people (including a certain Catholic Church) were getting a free ride when they didn’t really need it.

Catholic social teaching, and the attempts to produce an economics centred around the needs of humans, rather than of money, look like the only thought-through alternatives to unbridled market capitalism – and certainly the only ones which have a chance of widespread popular support.

Socialism right? The principle that the government provides a safety net and services considered essential and universal? The problem with catholic socialism is that you have to be a catholic to enjoy it. A lot of the complaints that the catholic church has regarding loss of religious freedom is the loss of religious freedom to evangelise.

It’s simple. The calls for frugality come from an organisation that is worth an estimated 400 billion dollars a year. We simply don’t know because the Church for the most part has tax exempt status and so no one polices earnings, but all those fancy cars and silly hats don’t come cheap and neither does the power to cover up paedophilia scandals. The church wants you to be good and obedient and not get angry and break things (I don’t like people breaking things but even I can see the point of sometimes doing it.) and most of all not question where all the rich people got their money from lest we realise that the church is itself quite rich.

It also wants a leg up in a world where it has been deemed irrelevant to humanity by humanism itself. It wants to be taken seriously when the scientists discuss stem cell research. It wants people to not give gay people rights and it wants people to not put up such a fuss when people ban abortions. And that’s what catholic humanism means.

It’s just Catholic Evangelism after someone hired a spin doctor.