Sacrifices Must Be Made

They told me their religion gave “a different way of knowing”,
In addition to experiments, I also learn through prayer;
The precious love of Jesus is what keeps my garden growing—
It’s the fertilizer used, along with water, sun, and air.

While science speaks of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus,
Religion speaks of Angels that can help my plants to grow;
Like Europe meeting Asia at the strait they call the Bosporus,
Both Science and Religion meet where I have weeds to hoe.

Generations of selection give varieties that thrive—
Horticulture, as a science, helps me constantly, I note;
But Religion also helps me! Why, to keep my plants alive,
I make sure, in planting season, that I sacrifice a goat!

There are artificial pesticides, or totally organic,
And the scientific knowledge can support me either way,
And Religion also tells me I have no real need to panic—
There are prayers and incantations that can keep the bugs away!

When the time has come to harvest, then technology and Science
Have combined to help me multiply the bounty of the fields.
And, of course, the Gods and Angels where I’m placing my reliance
Are (I’m certain) doing something to the quantity of yields.

The power of Religion, as I pray for intervention
While the atheistic farmers on their tractors point and smirk,
Is tremendous and insightful, though I think I ought to mention
I’m beginning to discover… that it really doesn’t work.

What I really want to talk about, after the jump: [Read more...]

What A Profound And Lifelong Friend We Have In Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus,
Almost more than we can bear!
If a couple wants to marry,
Same-sex folks don’t have a prayer!
Oh what rights we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because some magic fairy
Says we haven’t got a prayer.

Have we courts and propositions?
Is there justice anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Though the church is so unfair.
Can they still retain their power
With their bigotry laid bare?
Once we look behind their curtain
Will the church still have a prayer?

Such a history of problems;
Can they ever make amends?
Will there be a single mourner
When the church’s power ends?
Still, I offer them this solace
If it’s as the church contends
All the love they have for Jesus?
Seems they’re really only friends.

Context here, and here (Cuttlecap tip to PZ).

Ear Worms At NPR!

There’s a tune in my brain
Which will drive me insane
Cos I can’t seem to rein
in my thinking
And it’s solace I seek
Cos it’s been there all week
Like my head’s sprung a leak
and it’s sinking
It’s just musical fluff
Though it’s catchy enough,
And an ear-worm is tough
to dismember
But I’d love to take aim
Cos it isn’t a game
And it burns like a flame
or an ember
I’ve been thinking it through
And I know what I’ll do—
I’ll just share them with you
in my writing
And I hope you’re inclined
Not to think me unkind,
Cos I hope that you find
them exciting
So I tell you, my child,
Here’s a list I’ve compiled—
Though my thoughts have gone wild,
this will tame me
My relief is my goal—
If these songs hurt your soul
They’re not mine to control…
so don’t blame me!

More, after the jump!) [Read more...]

Update From Ireland

Via commenter Carigeen, a report of good news and progress from Ireland!

Atheist Ireland today met with Hibernia College to discuss the course notes that made untrue statements about atheism and atheists. The meeting was very productive. The relevant course notes have been removed. Michael Nugent is preparing an initial one-hour introductory lesson for Hibernia College on atheism and nonreligious ethics. After that, Atheist Ireland will discuss with Hibernia College how we can make a more comprehensive contribution towards developing a more pluralist religion and ethics curriculum. Hibernia College will reassure students about its existing commitment to encourage them to give feedback about any concerns they have about the course.

More detail at the link.

Two Books, Again

There was a man who had a book
Of Things Which He Believed;
He followed it religiously—
He would not be deceived.

The story in its pages was
The Truth that he adored—
The world outside its ancient script,
He faithfully ignored.

When someone found a falsehood
Or a small mistake inside it
(Or even some tremendous flaw)
He eagerly denied it.

The Truth was there inside his book
And never found outside
If something contradicted it
Why then, that something lied

And when he met another man
Who had another book,
He fell not to temptation—why,
He didn’t even look.

And, surely, there are other men
With other books in hand
Who walk, with views obstructed,
Here and there across the land

****

There was a man who had a book
(I find this quite exciting)
Who looked upon a tangled bank
And then… he started writing.

He wrote about the things he saw
And what he saw them do
And when he found mistakes he’d made
He wrote about them, too

He shared his book with other men
And women that he met—
They found the catch is bigger, when
You cast a wider net.

They shared their observations
So that everyone could read;
They worked as a community,
The better to succeed.

They found they saw much further,
And discovered so much more
When they stood upon the shoulders
Of the ones who’d gone before

It’s a book that keeps evolving,
Always growing, as we learn.
Many people help to write it:
Would you like to take a turn?

I had forgotten about this one, and was reminded while searching for a response to yet another claim that atheism leads to nihilism leads inexorably to suicide. The most passionate people I have known have been atheist scientists.

Charlie and Al

No verse on this one (I admit, I tried, but they all sounded stupid), but this story is both beautiful and terrible. Beautiful, in that two people who love each other, who have been committed to one another for some 20 years, are today married. Terrible, in that they had to travel to another state to wed, and in that the very announcement that they planned to do so resulted in a lost job.

Oh, yeah, they are two men. And one taught in a Catholic school.

They’ve been together 20 years. An awful lot of marriages can’t make that claim. And they were openly gay, openly a couple. Their church knew. Their employers knew.

But when the Catholic hierarchy found out, an announcement of marriage was viewed as a “public stand against the tenets of the church”. Same sex marriage is unforgivable. Unlike, say, raping a child, which would result in a job transfer to a new diocese, and a coverup.

What just tears at my heart, though, is that both men choose to stay with the church (perhaps a new location, that’s all). The Roman Catholic Church is a huge part of their identity. It’s not that I don’t understand; I do. It’s not unexpected, and it’s not unusual. This is the dance they know; this is the music they are accustomed to (see metaphor here). I’d call it Stockholm syndrome, but that would be an insult to these men. I don’t know why they still choose to be Catholics. I don’t know why their friends aren’t leaving the church in droves, in support of these good men. I mean, I do know, but not in my gut. I don’t blame them a bit. Not in the slightest. Leaving would mean splitting their world into pieces.

But I do wish they would leave. I want some friend of theirs to stand up in church, proclaim that the hierarchy is wrong, and walk out. And I want that example to be followed by dozens, scores, hundreds of others. Because these men are right, and the church is wrong. And, from the comments, the congregation knows it.

Read the story. Get angry at the church. Again.

But… (and as bright sides go, this is a pretty good one) celebrate their marriage with them! Congratulations, Charlie and Al!

Headline Muse, 3/9

Harold Camping is changing his song
And admitting (dear God!) he was wrong
He’s been telling us lies—
Which is no great surprise…
Seems the rest of us knew all along.

Headline: Doomsday Prophet Camping Says Predictions Were ‘Incorrect And Sinful”

Frankly, if you look at his site (kinda creepy, wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t)…

Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.

We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.

… I think you’ll agree, his apology is far more earnest than, say, Rush Limbaugh’s. (This, by the way, is my entry in the world championships of “setting a low bar”.)