Not even a smidgen

You can’t make this stuff up. Ever since former US Vice President Candidate Sarah Palin wrote ‘Good Tidings and Great Joy’, the debate was if her IQ read-out was high enough to qualify as a decent earthquake; mixing her fundamental gun-toting beliefs with equally fundamental Christianity caused some unease among the faithful and gave rise to legitimate questions with regards to her skills of reason.

Two days ago, at the NRA’s national annual convention, Palin said

Enemies, who would utterly annihilate America, they who’d obviously have information on plots, to carry out jihad. [sorry, that’s the transcript – CF] Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable – not even a smidgen.

Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.

To their credit – and unlike the crowd at the convention – some Christians in the US weren’t too amused. After all, waterboarding is torture, and linking torture to the one ritual that defines Christianity does go against the grain of those who purport to believe in a religion of love.

Well, I guess the incident settles one issue: that of Palin’s intelligence. There is none.

Not even a smidgen

Of Swastikas and Burqas

Swiss fundamental Islamist Nora Illi says that there is nothing wrong with wearing a Burqa.

Technically, that is perhaps correct. Just like, technically, there is nothing wrong with wearing a Swastika, a more than 6000 years old symbol that represents a wide variety of meanings.

In the western world, however, the Swastika has become synonymous with Nazi Germany and the atrocities committed by Hitler and his henchmen.

Although I have never heard about them, the Burqa may have some real, practical advantages over other forms of clothing. Still, it is used for but one purpose: to convert women into property, to curtail their freedom, and to remove all individuality. The Burqa (and Niqab and – to a lesser extent – Hijab) are irrevocably linked to the institutionalized, systematic subjugation of women. It has come to represent misogyny as much as the Swastika has become a symbol for racism.

That is why it is not smart to openly defend women wearing that kind of garment. Supporting the Burqa as as viable clothing for women is about as smart as advocating wearing swastikas in Europe.

Context matters.

Come on, Cameron!

In a boneheaded speech to narrow-minded believers, UK Prime minister Cameron had the following to say:

“Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.”

Ah. Many people, eh? Well, many people tell me that it is perfectly normal to kill homosexuals. Assertions, even if made by the majority, do not make facts. The history of Christianity easily belies every word of what Cameron said. It’s secular (humanist-enforced) rules that coerced England to stop persecuting other beliefs. So it’s actually against Christian tradition to be tolerant of other beliefs. Just how shallow is Cameron’s historical education? Doesn’t ‘Edict of Expulsion’ or ‘William Tyndale’ ring a bell? You know, people who don’t know their history and all that…

“People who, instead, advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code. Of course, faith is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.”

It’s inconceivable that a thinking listener would let that direct contradiction slip by. Indeed, Morality has nothing to do with faith. If you are moral that’s good. If you also happen to have faith, that is coincidence. There is no role that faith has on morals except downgrading it. So it’s Cameron who doesn’t grasp the simple fact that secular neutrality makes it more likely to have a good moral code.

“Many atheists and agnostics live by a moral code – and there are Christians who don’t. But for people who do have a faith, that faith can be a guide or a helpful prod in the right direction – and, whether inspired by faith or not, that direction or moral code matters.”

It would be much better if people just were moral, regardless of their faith. Fact is, though, that more often than not, faith retards morals. All that Cameron is saying is that ‘people can be moral, and they can have faith’. There is no causality between faith and being morals, as Cameron said himself. Why is he still pretending that there is?

“THIRD, greater confidence in our Christianity can also inspire a stronger belief that we can get out there and actually change people’s lives, and improve both the spiritual, physical, and moral state of our country, and even the world.”

No. Goodness, no! Cameron obviously doesn’t realize that if he replaced ‘Christianity’ with ‘Islam’, he’d be saying exactly what the Taliban are saying. Doesn’t he get it that changing people’s lives based on faith is a terrible idea? Ask any woman in Pakistan. Not everyone shares your notion of what constitutes an improvement. And when we talk about ‘improvements’ based on religion, we almost always talk about restrictions: no gay marriages, no abortions, no women’s education, no blaspheming, no work on the holy day, etc. The more confidence you have in your religion, the more likely you are to impose your worldview on others.

It’s a bit frightening that the UK is currently led by a moral lightweight.

The importance of keeping a straight face

On Sunday, the Catholic church will make saints out of two former priests, one of them the late pope John Paul II.

As an atheist, I have nothing against this. It’s their club, their rules, and their show. But parts of their rules do look silly. To become a saint, you have to have worked two (not one, no, two) miracles. That’s about as reasonable as anything else when you believe in the supernatural. So now two miracles have been ‘confirmed’. I looked at all the recent miracles that were confirmed and then used to have someone accepted into the club of saints. They all have something in common: they’re not miracles. All – every one of them – are mere remissions of illnesses that are, gosh, known for their tendency to suddenly go into remission. If someone regrew a limb, that would be a miracle (at least until modern medicine can offer that as a therapy). Still, that’s OK. As I said: their club, their rules. But what’s with all the officious looking, important men staring intensely into TV cameras? I mean – come on! – you all know it’s a sham. Can’t you at least wink and have some fun?

As I said before – the true miracle here is that everyone manages to keep a straight face.

Pledge Perfect

Oh, dang. The AHA is at it again, going for the small fry. It really annoys me when an association that I’m a rabid fan of comes off as a bunch of pedantic, narrow-minded gits.

USA Today reports that the AHA has filed suit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District (N.J.) to have the phrase ‘under god’ stricken from the pledge.

For non-US citizens a few words of background information:

  • In the USA, many states mandate that every child in every school recite the ‘Pledge of Alliance’ on a school day. Yeah, exactly what I think.
  • The original text of this pledge read ‘… one nation indivisible…’ and did not contain the phase ‘under god’. During McCarthy time, to show those little commie bastards who where known to be no-good god-hating atheists, the text was altered to ‘… one nation under God, indivisible…’
  • This change was first deemed unconstitutional in 2002, and later in 2010 it was deemed constitutional.

So why am I blowing a gasket? Are they doing the right thing? Yes. But why don’t they get their priorities in order? The pledge and the dollar bill (‘In God we trust’) are not prime battlegrounds for humanists. They are small fry that resolve themselves over time. Let’s get the big ticket items first, can’t we?

Let’s get everyone’s right for same-sex marriages, women’s right to abort pregnancies, and rid ourselves of Guantanamo Bay Prison, Creationism and Abstinence-only sex ed first, OK?

Friggin Humanists. Always doing the right thing the wrong way.

Sometimes, I hate being a Humanist.

Talking to God

Some time ago, during the Brouhaha surrounding Dawkins’ comment on the professional integrity of a journalist who believes in the literal truth of an obviously allegorical event, the professor tweeted

A believes in fairies. B believes in winged horses. Criticize A and you’re rational. Criticize B and you’re a bigoted racist Islamophobe.

I’m still convinced that Dawkins was spot on. A few days ago, though, I noticed that reality is even stranger. I was walking down a street, encountering someone who was loudly arguing – with nobody. Belatedly, I noticed an earbud and a cable linking it to a phone. Somewhat relieved I walked past.

But the encounter got me thinking: At first I thought the guy was mad, talking to thin air. The phone altered by perception. That is rational. The reverse, though is completely irrational:

If you tell some one that you are talking to god, nobody bats an eye. Do the same while holding a phone, and they’ll put you in the looney bin.

A Muslima’s civil courage

The world’s only voluntary muslima is at it again. Not understanding anything about reality (dead give-away: she likes wearing, and defending, the Burqa), in an open letter posted on a swiss salafist web site, Nora Illi praises the act of two European teenage girls (aged 15 and 16) who have gone to Syria to become Jihadists as ‘an act of civil courage’.

Yet even Illi admits that the only way these women can join the jihad is by marrying a fighter. The west may deride this as ‘sex jihad’, but the fact is that the epithet fits: these women aren’t welcome as fighters, only as sex toys. That’s how Illi views female empowerment. Pathetic.

It gets worse. Let’s say you are a woman, and you are both courageous and stupid enough to give up your freedom, integrity and everything you are to become a freedom fighter’s entertainment. Illi states that these women are doing it as a testament to their faith. Bull. In Syria, both sides are Muslims, and have therefore equal right to claim that God is on their side.

There is nothing courageous nor morally sound in this tragic affair. These girls went to a different country to wage war. Ethically this is always wrong. Becoming a mercenary has no moral defense. That’s why they try to dress it up it as ‘Jihad’.

So why did these girls go? Because they are frigging stupid, and very young. Having no idea what they are getting themselves into, they probably have read too much of female teen drama Divergent, hoping to find a green-eyed rebel leader with whom they save the world before supper.

Unfortunately, the truth is that they have wasted their lives. Should they be lucky enough to survive, they’ll return as property (wives) of someone they don’t know. And if they return, they will be immediately seized and dragged before a court. They did break international law, after all, and stupidity never has been a good defense. The reason Illi doesn’t know this is because she never stood before a judge.

Civil courage my ass.

Christian Punch Line

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

A new documentary about Christian Mixed Martial Arts Fighting (a.k.a. Cage Fight) is making it’s round, aptly called ‘Fight Church’.
Lets see…

‘Turn the other cheek’ – Jesus
‘I want you to kick me as hard as you can!’ Jesus II – the Revenge?

Now, you may be a fan of MMA, dislike it, or ignore it. That’s not the point. It’s training fighters that makes proselytizing a religion of love a hard sell. Anyway, the trailer is a treasure trove of fun.

A self-righteous believer enthuses 

this is a battlefield. We need to charge them – not wait for them to come to us.

Hello? What battlefield? Who is ‘them’? Does he think that Atheists are after his blood? Or is he just spoiling for a fight with other religions? No. This pathetic Milquetoast is frustrated that his faith is being ridiculed, and hopes that someone else beats the crap out of smug Atheists – for Jesus! So now they are ‘toughening up their boys’ to ‘make these problems go away’. 

In other words: Praise the Lord, or I’ll melt your face.

While prepping a child for a fight, a priest pontificates

God said “don’t be afraid, don’t be discouraged, because I am your God, and I’ll be with you wherever you are.”

Perhaps. But he also said stuff like ‘Love thy neighbour’ and ‘turn the other cheek’. It seems that testosterone and the testaments make strange bedfellows; multiple blows to the head do the rest. How else can you explain the fact that these ‘christian fighters’ quote the bible as saying that homosexually is a sin – only to ignore what’s said just three verses further down, when god says the same about tattoos, and another couple of verses later proscribes the death penalty for wearing garments made from two kinds of thread?

Well, it’s brawn over brains. Why else would they be stupid enough to thank god for winning a fight?

Jesus the Wuss

On a recent occasion, I attended dinner with a (distant) relative. She’s a full-on believer, and unfortunately equipped with the desire to spread the happy news of Jesus the Savior. Knowing this, I studiously tried to avoid the subject of belief. But, apparently, there is no rest for the assumed wicked. I wasn’t quite done pouring her some water when she fired her first broadside:

You know, Jesus just wants to save you

At the time I ignored her; I started pouring wine for me.

But in retrospect I have to admit: I don’t get it. Let’s consider “Jesus wants to save you”. That’s indeed awfully nice of him. But seeing that he’s supposedly omnipotent, why doesn’t he just do it? God didn’t sit around and tell the universe at large: “you know, I’d really love to create mankind” – no. According to scripture he just bam! did it. Mucho macho style. So he can do it. If Jesus loves me so much, and wants to save me, why the hesitation? Why all the dicking around for millennia with just talk and no walk? If I see someone drowning I (hopefully) won’t be standing around yelling ‘I’d love to save you’ – I’d take action. It’s the moral thing to do.

So if Jesus really wants to save me he should stop talking and start chalking.

Intellectual submarines

Proving that ultra-nationalists are about as smart as they are ethical, a few members of italy’s right wing populist Lega Nord found themselves aboard a sinking ship – literally. Ignoring the sad fact that each year more than 1’700 refugees drown trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe, a group of seven ‘concerned patriots’ embarked on a trip to prove that taking this journey was still far too easy.

And so they checked out a Zodiac, and tried crossing the Mediterranean from Italy to Tunisia, only to have their outboard motor catch on fire close to Malta. Brave men as they were, they decided to call it quits and signal Malta’s coast guard. Unfortunately their collective brain trust wasn’t enough to even get this matter right – they managed to fire the flare directly into their boat, sinking it.

Luckily, the story ends well on not one, but two accounts:
The clowns were rescued by the Maltese coast guard. And the incident proved that Lega Nord’s beliefs really are as stupid as their members.