How crazy is religion?

I’ve seen a number of posts and comments suggesting that religion should be treated as a mental illness. There certainly seems to be a strong correlation between religion and insanity. I’ve read a few papers comparing the logical and psychological aptitude of strong believers vs those with little or no faith at all, and the trends there all seem to be in our favor, but not to the point that religion causes the disorder.  I think certain mental disorders can prompt religious beliefs, but that’s a different claim.

I think religion provides a haven to conceal quite a lot of cognitive and psychiatric disorders as well as some social dysfunctions.  But that doesn’t mean religion is a mental illness, regardless how accurate analogies of the God virus might be. I think there are circumstances when religion can be treated as a psychological condition, especially when it is the result of detrimental conditioning, but I wouldn’t confuse that with a psychiatric malady, which (I think) would have to be physiological/chemical.

However someone attending one of the stops of the Unholy Trinity tour has apparently interpreted my presentation there differently than I had intended.

Just for clarification, I did not say that religion was a mental illness. I did say that creationism was a form of religious extremism, which it is; one which discourages rational cognitive functions whenever the subject comes anywhere near certain topic areas.  I also said that creationism is delusional, which it is, because the beliefs are persistent, false, and do not change when the facts contradict them.  I even said that thorough indoctrination of children into religion can permanently impair their ability to grasp and use logic, and that’s true too.

The colloquial definition of sanity is having sound reason, of being able to reason, and to be reasoned with, but creationism, (like many forms of religious extremism) employs apologetics which significantly impede that; it does so deliberately by design. In my speech, I explain a bit of how that is done. If you want to see more of how that is done, look up some of the religiously-motivated “faith-building” exercises promoted for use in homeschooling children of creationist parents. Show me what you find.

A Charitable Argument

Last weekend, I was in Salt Lake City (and Las Vegas). This week, I’ll be in Nacogdoches.  Next week, I’ll be in Albuquerque. I don’t have a lot of time at the moment, but I did want to pass on a blurb from David Smalley, host of Dogma Debate on iHeartRadio.
To all those screaming to get Aron Ra back on Dogma Debate to face off with a Christian: I’ll make this deal with you. With only 6 days left, we are $884 away from reaching our $5,000 goal for Camp Quest. If we reach that goal, we beat Seth Andrews in this fundraiser! My promise is, if we reach that goal by Wednesday morning, or beat Seth before then, I’ll bring you on Dogma Debate this week, and give you 2 full 20-minute segments to face off with our in-studio guest, Blake, who claims to have evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If your fans want you on Dogma Debate – let them prove it right here!
Well, doesn’t that sound like fun?  :-D

Better Commandments

On April 26th, I’ll be at Stephen F Austin State College in Nacogdoches Texas, where I will be talking about the Damn Commandments. Imagine you’re the supreme being, and you’re going to provide the top ten rules for all of mankind, and that’s the best you could come up with?!

It occurred to me that I should present a list of better commandments than were given in Exodus. At the same time, I would not be so arrogant as to compose such a list myself. I have a few ideas, but they all sound like hippy slogans; others might think of something better.  So if you could include one guideline to be handed over to Bronze age Israelites, and passed down for all generations thereafter, how would your commandment read?

Westboro in my neighborhood

I normally sleep in as late as I want on a Sunday, especially when it’s cold and raining.  But today I went to a church conference.  South Garland Baptist Church was going to confront Westboro Baptist Church, and I wanted to be there.The Westboro troup showed up, but they weren’t very interesting, and I couldn’t get any good video.

WBC was supposed to picket First Baptist Church too, and that one was a lot busier. There were quite a few atheists there carrying their own placards, and there were some reporters there too. But WBC didn’t show to that one.

That was another missed opportunity for me.  I’ve heard it said that Westboro Baptist Church are the only Christian denomination who interprets scripture as literally as we atheists do. So I wanted to know how the WBC interprets Exodus 22:29 & 34:19.  I mean, God clarifies what he means in Numbers 3:13, and I think I’m reading it right, but I don’t think any Christian group, not even WBC would admit that one of God’s ten commandments requires that we perform human sacrifice, slaughtering our first-born children in God’s name.  I’m kicking myself that I didn’t ask about that when I had the chance.

Madness Mayhem HIV charity

I’m doing another charity telethon this weekend, Saturday / Sunday

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I’m really no good at these. If I knew how to talk people out of their money, I wouldn’t always be in the red like I am.  So what I need is for people who have money to wait until 5:00pm Sunday, when it’s my hour to host the show, and then jump onto the donation links.  That way it’ll look like I did a good job.

The Unbelievers

Next week, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss will tour the US to personally host special screenings of ‘The Unbelievers’.

A few months ago, Krauss and I were having breakfast in Oklahoma City, and he was telling me about his new movie.  I remember remarking that when Dawkins and Krauss are in a movie, it’s produced in Hollywood, but almost every professional documentary film I’ve been in was released straight to YouTube. Of course that’s because he’s Professor Brilliant PhD, and I’m just some guy with a web cam.

But this is a unique idea, not just to show the film, but in a sense to premier it at different locations like a concert.  To have the world-famous physicist and the evolutionary zoologist presenting their own film -live in person in different venues; it’s a great idea.

There will be guest speakers at different points too. Depending on the site, it might be Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller. Filmmakers Gus Holwerda, and Luke Holwerda of Black Chalk Productions. These people will be available to take questions from the audience.

Scheduled appearance-screenings are:

– April 2, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.
The UC San Diego RIMAC
9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla CA

– April 3, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.
The Cox Pavilion at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154
Hosted by magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller

– April 7, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.
The Mershon Auditorium at The Ohio State University
1871 N. High Street, Columbus, OH

If you’re in range of any of these three venues, you can buy tickets here.  You can also get free the first chapter of Richard Dawkins’s autobiography, An Appetite for Wonder, by signing up for news from the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s fight for reason and science! See http://richarddawkins.net/.

This sort-of traveling show, as it were, promotes a movie which is itself about a road trip of sorts, with footage shot at various locations from Australia to New York.

Several celebrities appear in the film to support Dawkins and Krauss on their journey to promote reason and science, including Woody Allen, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Colbert, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Werner Herzog, and Bill Maher.

Personally, what I found most exciting about the footage in the trailer were the scenes I remember, like from the Reason Rally in Washington DC and the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, because I’m happy to say I was there.

22 questions for ‘evolutionists’ -answered

Ever since I saw that Buzzfeed article, ‘22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution‘, I wished I could talk to each of those poor, misguided people. I mean, many of them seem like nice genuine folks, but they’ve all been deceived by the charlatans of religion, and that is very sad.  What they think they know about science is usually completely backward.  They’ve been so misinformed that some of their questions and comments remind me of the famous quote from physicist Wolfgang Pauli, criticizing poorly composed research, “That’s not right, it’s not even wrong.”

Hopefully some of those people will see this video.

The Place with the New Covenant Group

theplace

I was recently on two episodes of ‘the Place’ with Dr & Mrs Jones of the New Covenant Group.

First they talked just with me.

That went pretty well, so I joined the panel for the evening show.

I very much enjoyed participating in the show, and I applaud the effort behind maintaining an interfaith dialogue. It’s especially necessary now because there are two trends which need to be considered separately, and then comparatively.  One is that religion is in general decline in all fifty states.  Those who reject religious classification, those who have no interest or need of religion, and those who are coming out atheists and antitheists make up overlapping demographics accounting for at least 20% of the American population so far, and all charts indicate that percentage is rising fast.  However the percentage of believers who are creationist, those who (perhaps unknowingly) reject not only the conclusions of science but also its methodology -is actually on the rise, They account for almost half the nation’s population, and they’re the majority among those who still cling to faith at all.

Now it used to be -several decades ago, that most people believed in some sort of faith-based mumbo-jumbo; but those same people usually knew better than to mix religion and politics, and every sensible person knew that you’d better understand science regardless whatever else you might believe. But now, those who accept and employ science are abandoning religion completely, and those who praise faith are rejecting epistemology entirely, becoming religious extremists. In short, the US population is becoming polarized, and that’s not a good way to be.

Happy B-day, Chuckie D.

ChuckieDI’m sorry to say I’m not doing any Darwin-Day presentations this year.  That’s too bad too.  I really enjoy those. For three years in a row, I had the honor of being keynote speaker in James Randi’s group in Fort Lauderdale Florida.  Here I am posing with the 205 year-old birthday boy.

There’s a very good Darwin Day event going on tonight (Wednesday Feb 12th) in London.  I so wish I could attend!  Dr. Alice Roberts is on my A-list of people to meet (along with Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson). I would love to have her on our show, Dogma Debate on iHeart Radio for just twenty minutes over a Skype call, but she’s always on the go, filming excellent science documentaries all around the world.

On this occasion, she’s giving an anthropological lecture, and sharing the stage with Prof. Richard Dawkins.

If tickets are still available, here is the link:

Darwin Day Lecture: How to Make a Human.

If you do get tickets, let me know, and tell her I sent you.

Speaking to San Diego Humanists

Every February when I’m starting to get tired of freezing temperatures every day, someone invites me to a warmer clime, and I welcome the escape.  (Yes I know, most of you live in lots colder places than Texas!) This weekend, my wife and I will participate in the Southern California Secular Humanist conference at the Mission Valley Resort Hotel in San Diego.  There will be many other speakers including, Margaret Downey, Dan Arel, James Croft, illusionist Jamy Ian Swiss, and comedian Steve Hill.  If you’re in that area (or want to be) please check the link to sdhumanists.org for other speakers you might want to meet, and please attend.