No Climate Change Ever Again – God Promised in Genesis

Yep. You can stop worrying about scientists worrying about global warming. It’s not going to happen—that’s God’s promise to us.

So says Rep. John Shimkus, Republican from Illinois, reading from Genesis and the gospel of Matthew. Speaking to the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee, Shimkus (who is a global warming denier) explained “There is a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon.”

Rep. John Shimkus quoting Bible in Committee

Well, that settles it for me. I mean, who cares what climate scientists say on the subject?The real facts must be gleaned from Bible passages thousands of years old which pretend to put words into God’s mouth. Yes, we need more theologians explaining to Congress why global warming isn’t happening and has nothing to do with greenhouse gasses.

Smart Americans, to elect more of these conservative Republicans! Way to go.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At the Poisoned Heart of Religion: Sex & Death

Polly Toynbee, president of the British Humanist Association, has written an article I strongly recommend for its sanity. It’s important to be blunt about the faults of our popular religions—otherwise there’s little hope of remedy.

Sex and Death Lie at the Poisoned Heart of Religion

As Toynbee notes, “the secular world looks on in utter perplexity” at the various forms taken by the religion-engendered hangup over sex. And yet, “trying to deny the primal life force has led to centuries of persecution, suffering, secrecy and breathtaking hypocrisy.”

We’ve got to make a habit of pointing out the obvious to our religious friends, else they will never notice. We’ve got to help them see reality. Humans are biological beings, and to deny it leads to perversity.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Banning Burqas

France has officially banned the burqa, which is the Islamic garment designed to cover women from foot to head so only their eyes can be seen. To put things in contrast, in the United States the right to wear weird clothing is Constitutionally protected as if it were speech. Unless, that is, your weird clothing involves nudity—unlike clothing, the naked body apparently has nothing to say.

But France is a country where even the use of foreign words can be banned, so it is not much of a surprise that they are willing to ban unpopular clothing. A law like this would never fly in America, no matter how Islamophobic Americans get. Yet the French Senate passed the bill 246 to 1. (Though apparently 100 mostly leftist Senators abstained—ashamed, but too cowardly to defy the public mood).

Does this mean in France you can’t wear a burqa to a costume party, or on Halloween?

I’m glad legislatures can’t do this sort of thing on my side of the pond. I’m glad I’ve got a Bill of Rights that affords me at least some protection of my inherent rights.

Speaking of rights, let me assert that no woman should ever be forced to wear a burqa against her will. Not by her husband, not by her religion, not by her country. To do so should be considered an assault on her well-being as well as her rights. It’s an assault on her health too—after all, humans need direct sunlight on significant portions of bare skin in order to create vitamin D, an essential nutrient which you simply can’t get enough of through diet.

Because of the important role sunlight plays in human health, the right to go naked should be Constitutionally protected—if not protected as speech, then as part of an innate biological right all have to be naturally healthy. No government should be allowed to dictate what clothing animals (human or otherwise) shall or shall not wear.

We were all born naked; we did not exit the womb bedecked in suit and tie, or in a burqa. The modern aversion to nudity is nothing but a fetish instilled by our popular religions. Admittedly, the fetish is immensely stronger in Islamic than in Christian societies, but it is present in both. In healthy societies the fetish would disappear (along with the religions that foster it).

And so would the burqa, except at Halloween.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Burning the Qur’an

Unless talked out of it by fellow Evangelicals at the last minute, Pastor Terry Jones of the inaptly named Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, plans to burn the Qur’an this Saturday. That will show those Muslims, won’t it?

Well, I guess it will show them that some Christians—some American Christians, at least—really do want to engage Islam in a holy war.

As much as I dislike both Christianity and Islam, I would never burn one of their books. I own both the Qur’an and Bible, and to be honest I don’t think of them as “their” books but as mine. I bought these books to read, not to burn. Fold corners down—of course. Write in the margins—absolutely. I  buy book to make use of them, not to decorate a shelf.

Let me confess. I did burn a book once, back when I was a 19-year-old Christian. I burned The Concept of Mind by Gilbert Ryle. I’m not proud. One moment I was reading the book, agonizing over the materialist implications of Ryle’s arguments, getting a royal cerebral headache; the next moment into the fire it went. Headache gone. Agonizing gone.

In less than a year, I became an atheist.

And I had to buy the book again, to see what I had missed.

No, burning books does not get rid of them. Their ideas hang around in consciousness, raiding the edges of memory when you’re not looking. Good books are more than the paper they are printed on.

Terry Jones plans to burn a book, but what he’s really trying to burn is his fear. Sorry. It may be a good show of bravado, but you can’t get rid of fear—especially irrational fear—with a bonfire. Won’t work.

Burning The Concept of Mind did not get rid of my fear of Ryle’s worldview. And why was I afraid? I was afraid because I knew my own supernatural outlook was built on shifting sand. There were serious foundational problems I didn’t want to face.

What is Terry Jones afraid of? Perhaps he’s afraid that Islam will overtake his own religion in popularity. Perhaps he’s afraid of losing the sense that Christianity is special, fearful it’s just another religion once seen from the outside, the way he sees Islam from the outside.  Or perhaps it really is the irrational fear that all Muslims are terrorists.

Fear burns books. But only the pages burn. Fire can’t really end it; the fear remains, smoldering.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Torturous Christianity

When Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration figures say that waterboarding “saved lives,” it should be put in the category of statements by miscreants trying to preserve their own skins.

We are not brutes. Even if Cheney is a brute, we do not want the United States of America to become brutish. If that happened, there would be no country to honor, no nation worth preserving. Evil is wrong, even when it is our evil.

There is something ludicrous about Christians endorsing torture and pretending it’s consistent with their Christianity. Such Christians are brutes, and transform their religion into a mockery of the Sermon on the Mount. Because some Islamic terrorists have transformed that religion into something brutish, should Christians follow suit? WWJD?

Despite Neocon claims to the contrary, waterboarding did not save any lives. It was not effective. We can determine this simply by noting how many times the two prisoners who were waterboarded were subjected to that treatment. The answer is hundreds of times. This is a definitive indication that these two high-priority targets were uncooperative and/or kept providing unreliable information. Once you’ve stooped to torture and it fails, you’ve pretty much reduced yourself to one option: more torture.

Then there’s the declaration by Matthew Alexander, a military interrogator who oversaw over 1000 interrogations, including some 300 he personally conducted in Iraq, who states unequivocally that “torture does not save lives.” In fact, just the opposite. Alexander maintains that the “harsh interrogation techniques” used in Iraq and at Guantanomo Bay “literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives.” This is because around 90% of the combatants the U. S. Army captured in Iraq turned out to be motivated to join the fight against us because of our mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo Bay. Faced with obvious evil by the United States, they were motivated to join the radical Islamicists and terrorists claiming to fight for Allah.

See the interview with Matthew Alexander here:

Meanwhile at home, a Pew study reveals that Christians—particularly those Christians who are the most avid church-goers—are more supportive of torture (and yes, the wording of the question was “torture”, not “enhanced interrogation techniques” or even “waterboarding”) than unchurched or non-religious Americans. See the Pew study at:

Is it not curious to Christians that in the U. S., the non-religious are largely against torture while the majority of Christians support it? Religions–and particularly a religion like Christianity–are supposed to elevate the moral fabric of society. Yet in the United States, Christianity is doing the opposite today.

Christianity opposes nudity, premarital sex, use of birth control, lust—all in its continuing effort to stamp out bodily pleasure—yet torture is ok. Bodily pleasure is verbotten, but inflicting pain is no problem at all.

It is a warped and twisted morality these spiritual religions try to foist on us. And why? Ultimately the afterlife religions begin with a warped premise: they deny the primacy of the body. They are determined to pretend that “life” belongs outside of the body, isolated from anything “bodily.” Therefore the body is not important, its pleasures no good, and hurting the body is ok.

Nothing healthy or good can result from that.

When it comes to torture and sex, why don’t Christians ask WWJD? Jesus was pretty forgiving about sex, it would seem. He didn’t mind accepting a prostitute into his inner circle—openly, not stashed in a back alley hotel room out of sight like religious leaders today. And would Jesus—he of “turn the other cheek”—have winked at torture? I would guess not.

But WWJD doesn’t matter. Jesus is long dead. WWCD—What Would Christians do?–that’s the only question that matters today. And Christians in the United States have given their answer. They would torture. And they have. And they find it satisfying.

Torturing its enemies is not something new for Christianity. We saw it during the inquisition, just as we have seen it under the Bush administration. We must not forget that W. was our most visibly Christian President to date. His support came from the most active among the Christian population of voters, those who attend church regularly. On the other hand, intermitant and non-church-goers as a group voted against Bush in both 2000 and 2004. And what was the result of these most active church-attending Christians putting one of their own into office? Torture & preemptive war.

I don’t believe in God, but if I did I would never torture or endorse torture—if only out of fear of God’s immense disapproval. Besides, I know in my heart that torturing someone is wrong; that is enough to be against it. But if I also knew there was a God who opposes (and will eventually punish us for) our evil deeds, surely I would take pains to oppose the practice of torture rather than partake in it. Yet so-called believers—these ardent Christians who supported (and still support) Bush & Cheney—feel no such concern about torture.

Why? Do they not really believe in God? Are they closet atheists?

No, they are not atheists, closet or otherwise. The statistics indicate atheists were far more likely to oppose Bush and his regime of torture. So what is it about American Christians? What kind of God do they believe in? A Supreme Torturer?

Is Satan their God? Have they gone over to the dark side, as their embrace of torture indicates? Is this Christianity’s new face?

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment