Been a while since I’ve done one of these! I have to get some tabs off my Firefox and I don’t really have a lot of time to blog them individually, so here you are.
In case you haven’t seen it, Stephanie has weighed in on the hilarious conflation of sex-positivity and pedophilia a theist has accused
Justin me of recently. As is her wont, Stephanie did not address the hilariousness of the religious apologist’s claims. Instead, she posted an essay, and a suicide note, that will cut you to the quick, no matter where you believe the source for morals might be. Hopefully the apologist will simply shrivel up and blow away at this. I mean, I doubt it, but I can’t help but hope so.
And is it any surprise that public opinion on homosexuality throughout history has been so damaged by prevailing modes of thought, especially those argued by theists since roughly 1400? In Canada, where gay marriage is legal coast to coast, psychiatric care professionals in Alberta can still reference the code for homosexuality in making claims for compensation. That’s right — Alberta still considers homosexuality a mental illness.
Meanwhile, the Baptist Press is ‘appalled’ that an iPhone app with the text of the Manhattan Declaration was rejected from the iPhone store. They are upset that the reason that was given was that the homophobic content is potentially damaging to gay people — upset because that, in effect, tells them that their faith is potentially damaging to gay people. If you ask me, they’re just upset because the truth hurts. Their faith, founded as it is in hatred for all things alien, has interpreted their holy texts in such a way that they believe gives them free license to be bigoted against people they already hate. Dovetails nicely with the recent attempt at calling atheists pedophile-friendly, considering how this app (and the declaration) claims that homosexuality is equivalent to incest.
PZ Myers posted an image flowchart on whether to engage certain people in discussion about a topic. If I were to follow it, I’d never get the delicious trolls that I do. Don’t get me wrong — most of my trolls are people I would have no problem with having their public input license revoked. But my tactic with trolls has been to use them as examples — to hold them up to those of their belief systems as “what not to be like”. If you disagree with me, but you follow this flowchart, you and I will almost certainly have a good discussion, even if we fail to convince one another of our respective points. If you follow this flowchart and land on “this is not a discussion” or “you cheated”, I intend to go on pointing this out, to put your head on a proverbial pike for the next troll to come along and fail to honestly discuss the points they have to make.
The inestimable Orac discusses the circling of the wagons going on in the antivax camp, as their hero Andrew Wakefield is demonstrably shown to have perpetrated elaborate fraud in creating the only study underpinning their entire belief system. Nobody’s abandoning Wakefield in the wake of his proven mendacity. They will go on believing what they want to believe, damn the evidence. Theirs is a faith-based movement, in other words. Sad.
In Pakistan, a governor who opposed blasphemy laws was assassinated by, you guessed it, a religious fundamentalist. Blasphemy laws are bad, but religious proscriptions against blasphemy and dogmatic adherence to fundamentalism are worse. If you’re not allowed to disagree with the prevailing opinion about a religion without risking being killed, you do not live in a free society. In fact, you live in the kind of society Jack Chick tracts generally describe as precursors to the End Times (only without the rampant secularism).
A scientific study discovered the “secret ingredient” that makes religious people happier: other people. Your sense of happiness is evidently directly correlated to how often you congregate with a large number of like-minded individuals — not to the reason you congregate, but rather to the act of congregating. This comes as absolutely no surprise to me. Humans are social animals, and most of our morality is directly related to our ability to empathize and interact with others, so being happier because you’re interacting with people often is totally expected to me.
And finally, here’s an interesting thought — what if Buddha’s ‘enlightenment’ was a stroke? The parallels are really strong between the stories about Buddha’s enlightenment and the description of a stroke survivor of how your brain interprets the storm as it’s happening. Given that we have no way of going back in time to diagnose properly as it’s happening, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure, but it’s certainly a neat postulate. Likewise, I suspect other religious figures (at least the ones who weren’t outright con-artists like Joseph Smith) may have been experiencing some form of medical condition when they experienced what they claim to have experienced.