Today Is Religious Freedom Day

…and for those of you named Peter Palumbo, this post is an illustration of why Freedom of Religion must also necessarily be Freedom from Religion.

The cross on the hill was a beautiful sight
On the days when the sky was most bluish;
It stood for the soldiers who gave up their lives
Well, except when the soldiers were Jewish.

The cross on the hill, it looked rugged and old
Though the city maintained it as newish;
The congressman said that it stood for the dead
Well, unless they were atheist, Muslim, or Jewish.

The cross on the hill was a secular thing—
That’s a lie, but it kinda sounds truish—
The judge said it symbolized service and loss
Well, except for the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Pagans, the Jains, the Confucians, the Shinto, the Sikh, the Druids, the Wiccans, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Zoroastrian, Scientologists, atheists, Muslim or Jewish. Or the religions of the tribal nations who once owned the land the cross is on.

The cross on the hill is religious, of course
Said a Judge who rejected the woo-ish
And it can’t be a symbol for everyone there
If it doesn’t mean Buddhists, the Hindus, the Pagans, the Jains, the Confucians, the Shinto, the Sikh, the Druids, the Wiccans, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Zoroastrian, Scientologists, atheists, Muslim or Jewish. Or, you know, the indans. Or even Christians who don’t want a symbol, or use a different cross from the Latin Cross, or (fades)


Image by Will Fresch–wikipedia commons

Football, With God On Our Side

Yeah, technically it’s a Super Bowl song, but after last night’s game, I just couldn’t help it.

Oh, the workouts are nothin’
And the wind sprints are less
We don’t even practice
We think that it’s best
Cos practice means nothing
I’m forced to confide—
But we’ll win big on Sunday
With God on our side

Oh the networks will show it
They’ll show it so well
How the righteous team won
And the evil team fell
Oh the righteous team won
But it’s not cos we tried
It’s Super Bowl Sunday
With God on our side

Oh, when I cross the goal line
I’ll raise my arm high
With one upraised finger
I’ll point to the sky
I’m sending a message
That can’t be denied
I just scored a touchdown
With God on my side

When it’s fourth down and inches
We’ll go for it all
It’s a quarterback keeper
But where is the ball
They’ll bring out the chain gang
And the refs will decide
First and ten to the team
With God on their side

And the fans in the stadium
Will cheer on their teams
And eat without stopping
Or that’s how it seems
And most of it’s salty
And all of it’s fried
They’ll eat it on Sunday
With God on their side

Oh, it won’t even matter
What’s the final score
The points aren’t important
That’s not what it’s for
This game’s about Jesus
We can all say with pride
We won big on Sunday
With God on our side

We gather each Sunday
We won’t miss a week
It’s more than just victory
It’s salvation we seek
It’s more than religion
It’s the reason Christ died
So we could play football
With God on our side

For Greta (Happy Birthday!)

Now that I get to rub virtual elbows with her on a daily basis, it was nice to take a look back a few years to the time when a newbie cephalopod blogger was noticed by one of the movers and shakers. So now, on the occasion of half a century of moving and shaking (I hit that milestone earlier this year, so I know nothing moves or shakes like it used to), I give you (with minor alterations) a reprise of a post subtitled “Worshipping Greta Christina”… after the jump: [Read more…]

Undecided? Still?

Slate.com has a story analyzing 12 kinds of undecided voters. They miss one motivation, though…

There was a voter, undecided,
Though I cannot fathom why;
Perhaps a faulty compass guided
Him, as days and weeks flew by.
Friends would prod, and neighbors chided
“Such an indecisive guy!”
With rapt attention undivided
All would roll their eyes and sigh.
The networks parked where he resided
(Never was he camera-shy)
The interviews that he provided
Kept the ratings climbing high.

Today, as news-mobiles collided
In his yard, I caught his eye:
“If I decide”, the man confided,
“All these cameras say good-bye!”

It’s A Miracle (Officially)!

The medical team was in a race
Against some resistant bacteria;
A colony found a young boy’s face
To treat as their own cafeteria

The miracle team investigates
Against some religious criteria;
The “promoter of justice” tries their fates
As they battle with strep or listeria

The desperate parents said their prayers
As conditions grew frankly horrific
They pleaded for help from the man upstairs
Whose germs were a bit too prolific

Operations and antibiotics combined
Broad-spectrum, as well as specific
Saved young Jake’s life, although we’ll find
The church is more unscientific

The search for answers sometimes leads
To a cultural bit of division:
A difference that comes from their separate needs
May find science and church in collision

A team of priests has been working for years
As a bishop provides supervision
And if adequate evidence really appears
Well… they won’t let that stop their decision

Well… I was right. (More after the jump: ) [Read more…]

Proof Of God?

Over at Debunking Christianity, John Loftus answers a question. Specifically, the question of “what would it take for you, an atheist, to believe in god?”, and the objection that in reality, our answers are all lip service, that we are closed-minded and unwilling to budge. You can go take a look at his answer, but mine is a bit different. For me, this is one of those questions better answered with another question: What would it take for you, a christian, to believe in someone else’s god?

The same evidence that should be sufficient to convince an atheist, will necessarily disconfirm some religions, given that they disagree with one another, and positively proving one of them may well violate fundamental tenets of another (come to think of it, it might support none; there may be a very real deity that every single religion gets wrong). Gods are intentionally fuzzily-defined; if they were clearly defined, they would be easy to disconfirm. Absolute proof of a specific God would be a believer’s worst nightmare! With so many options, the odds that their own god is the right one are better in the absence of evidence. Besides (he said, cynically), old habits die hard, and the habit of denying empirical evidence has a long history.

Can you imagine what the various reactions of atheists and believers might be, to the sort of evidence that would make PZ check himself into a padded cell? My version, after the jump: [Read more…]