Gods Deconstructed

Beliefs and their objects, dismantled.

Benedict and the wrong date.

Did the observations of atheists influence Benedict XVI? For years, atheists, sceptics, humanists and historians have tried to tell Christians that if the date was correct, the Jesus story must collapse because Herod was already dead. Unfortunately for Benedict, placing Jesus’s birth earlier raises questions concerning later claims about the lives and deaths of the early saints. Historically, Christian history could be in a more perilous state now than it was before Benedict’s book was published. Interesting times ahead.

NewsFeed

Pope Benedict XVI has revealed in the third installment of his trilogy, dedicated to the life of Christ, that Jesus may have been born earlier than previously thought. The calendar we use today, which commences with the birth of Christ and was created by a Dionysius Exiguus, a 6th century monk, may be mistaken. According to the Telegraph, the Pope explains in his book that Exiguus, who is considered the inventor of the Christian calendar, “made a mistake in his calculations by several years. The actual date of Jesus’ birth was several years before.” The suggestion that Jesus wasn’t actually born on Dec. 25 has been tirelessly debated by theologians, historians and spiritual leaders, but what makes this case different is that now the leader of the Catholic Church is the one asking the questions.

Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, was published on Tuesday…

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Malala’s friend shows her bravery.

Incredible defiance of girl, 13, who was shot when Taliban opened fire on her friend Malala | Mail Online.

Here’s a question I’d love to know the answer to: Is Islam the problem or is it just that the religion attracts insane, homicidal maniacs? From reading the Koran, I’d say it is the religion but I can well understand it attracting nuts.

It would be the same, I guess, if Christians disregarded the Bible’s New Testament and only abided by The Old. Come to think of it, quite a few Christians seem to disregard the New Testament when it comes to gays. Those Christians hop and jump in rage while quoting Leviticus.

But if Christians can act as if they’re insane and about to riot over gay equality and a child can be shot by extremist Muslims because she asked for an education and, thinking back, Sikhs can riot because of a play, maybe the problem isn’t a particular religion. Maybe the problem is religion itself.

Anyway, good luck to Malala’s friends as they attempt to return to school. May their experiences lead them to question their beliefs and find the additional bravery and intelligence to reject religion altogether.

Secularist of the Year

National Secular Society – Secularist of the Year 2013 – tickets on sale now.

Sometimes brilliant, always controversial, I have nominated Taslima Nasrin for the award. Taslima works tirelessly to publicise the plight of women in the male-dominated world of religion, and Islam in particular. She often uses her own experiences to emphasise the way in which women are subliminally, and sometimes overtly, forced into second-class citizenship.

Women Bishops

So, the Church of England has voted against women bishops. The vote was lost by a few votes, not those of the bishops or clergy but of the laity. The laity is the untrained, unwashed riff-raff of the Church of England. Some members of the Laity are so incredibly stupid they still think the Bible is the inerrant word of their god. Yes, they really are THAT stupid.

The Church of England had one chance of surviving and that was to increase the numbers of women in the clergy. The all-male church is dying. Women have wanted to be members of the clergy for many, many years; in fact, they are so desperate to become clergy they ignore all rational arguments against religion. They have gained some measure of authority over the years but it is little more than a sop to their passion. To become proper authority figures within the Church they need the career progression within a diocese to the bishopric. It’s not as if it is something totally unknown to the Church of England; the churches in Australia and New Zealand have women bishops and it does not seem to have harmed them. Rather, it has staved off inexorable decline.

Isn’t the decline and extinction of the Church of England a good thing for an atheist to desire? In a word, no. In the United Kingdom the Church of England stood as a bastion, a buffer between two religions that hate each other with the same passion women have to become authority figures within the Church. One of those religions, let’s face it, is as similar to the Church of England as Scientology is to Buddhism. That religion is Catholicism – and its sibling in eastern climes, Christian Orthodoxy. Catholics believe in transmutation, the belief that when an adherent swallows the bread and wine at communion it turns into the real body and blood of their Christ. The other religion is Islam. At present, both Catholicism and Islam are minorities. Without the buffer of the Church of England they will grow and be at each other’s throats in no time.

The Koran states that Christianity is to be treated just like any other non-Muslim religion – and destroyed. When the Koran was dictated/written there were two Christian churches, the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church. With the advent of the Church of England there was a less strident voice, a less ardently-messianic version of Christianity than either Catholicism or Orthodoxy. With the Church of England there was always the possibility of peaceful negotiation. Without the Church of England there is no reason why Islam should respect Christianity at any level.

Oh, there may not be a war between Christianity and Islam – but don’t bet on it. After all, history has a nasty habit of repeating itself. There will certainly be extreme competition between the two. Misogyny will erupt anew and women will suffer appalling indignities and violence. Secrecy will increase. Unintelligent creationism is likely to increase. Hatred for anything other than the extremes of Catholicism and Islam will grow. The traditionalists who destroyed the Church of England will rush to join Catholicism and it will grow. Unchecked, released by the demise of a constitutional religion, Islam will grow. The daft ideas of Charles III will further set Christianity and Islam against one another. And what starts in England is likely to be exported all over the world.

Of course these are extreme possibilities and nothing like them may happen. Life may go on regardless. Reason and scepticism may save the world from religious extremism. One thing, however, is certain – the one chance of staving off the destruction and ruination of the Church of England is that it will see the error of its decision and attempt to reverse it as quickly as possible.

Indian Police Probe Hizb ut-Tahrir Support for Terrorism | Shariah Finance Watch

Indian Police Probe Hizb ut-Tahrir Support for Terrorism | Shariah Finance Watch.

Those of us in the west often think of Islamic terrorism as being directed towards us. Yet it is a worldwide phenomenon. India was targeted in the Mumbai massacre and now the the authorities have identified an organisation raising funds for further attacks.

The aim of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to replace capitalism with an Islamic economic system and the group does not care how it is accomplished. If innocent people are killed, so be it.

it is a terrible reminder of how dedication to an unproven and unprovable idea can be devastatingly destructive.

BBC News – Iain Duncan Smith targets ‘destructive’ welfare system

BBC News – Iain Duncan Smith targets ‘destructive’ welfare system.

Image

Government policies need to be considered not just in relation to short term cost-cutting but also the effect they have in the medium and long term.

Take, for instance, the proposed cutting of child benefit. The policy is designed to save money but it could also have the effect of reducing the size of families and ultimately reducing the size of the indigenous work force. This could have the effect of increasing the need for immigration if there is an upturn in economic fortunes.

If immigration results in greater numbers of those coming from Asia and the Indian subcontinent, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, etc. could further reduce the ratio of Christians to other religions, thus putting pressure on the indigenous population to revolt.

A policy of reducing spending on benefits could conceivably increase social unrest, and that could cost far more than the savings achieved by the reduction in child benefit payments.

Less Religious Are Less Likely to Vote, Finds New Poll

Less Religious Are Less Likely to Vote, Finds New Poll.

This is an example of why it is important to identify the business or organisation that paid for and conducted the research quoted if we are to know the truth. My immediate reaction was to dismiss the research as biased. But is it?

The research was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Immediately, my attention was grabbed by the name and in particular the word Religion. Does it indicate that the Institute studies religion or promotes religion. Anyone who reads the works of Dan Dennett will immediately know that very few institutions study religion

Reading down the page I found that the study was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. What are these organisations?

Wikipedia’s page makes the Ford Foundation sound an ideal partner for social awareness and social reformers. A 2005 study shows the Foundation’s attempts, some more successful than others, to integrate white and African-Americans. SourceWatch suggests that the Ford Foundation is viewed by conservatives as left wing. For me as a socially-aware atheist, this further added to the Foundation’s credentials.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation is a primarily Jewish organisation but, according to the Wikipedia page it also appears to be left-leaning and human rights oriented. The Foundation seems to primarily rely the Public Religion Research Institute. A study in April looked at the opinions of Jews in America and found the majority favoured Barak Obama. Using the research, the Huffington Post suggested that, as with Catholics, Jewish leaders are losing touch with the opinions of the population. The Foundation also seems environmentally aware. That sounds good to me.

Neither of these funders appear to want to influence the results of surveys. So what are we to make of this new survey?

As I intimated before, my immediate reaction on reading the results was acute scepticism. Most of the atheists I know are politically aware and more likely to vote than the general population, which seems to contradict the findings of the research. However, the atheists I know are activists who tend to see politics as a secular necessity, an alternative to being told what to do by religious leaders. Most see democracy as essential to society and their inalienable right as individuals to influence how society is run.

If the survey is correct, and it may well be, then many of those who are now rejecting religion tend towards apathy and not positive action to influence social evolution. To me, that has the potential to be really bad. It could allow religions back into the political arena.

Maybe those of us who are activists need to help those who have recently rejected religion to see that politics and social awareness are essential alternatives to religion but that they must be worked at and developed. Life may be a bitch and then you die but we need to ensure we make the most of our lives while we can. Our children and grandchildren depend in us to make the world a decent place for them. We must teach our children and grandchildren that they, in turn, need to be socially and environmentally aware for their children and grandchildren but doing so as intelligent human beings who base their knowledge on empirical evidence and not being mindless followers of daft ideas.

This survey could, perhaps should, be seen as a wake-up call.

How very timely! Rowan Atkinson: we must be allowed to insult each other – Telegraph

The hypocrisy of UK law

Live animal export suspension at Ramsgate overturned (opens in new tab/window)

A UK judge has lifted the suspension of exports of live animals from the port of Ramsgate in Kent, England.

Why should that be of interest to an atheist?

Because the animals being exported are destined for the Festival of Eid. Muslim slaughterers will murder the animals by slashing their throats without stunning or anaesthetic. Such barbaric behaviour is not allowed by UK law, yet this disgraceful decision by a High Court judge indicates that UK law has no qualms about exporting live animals knowing that the dispatch of the animals is in direct contravention of UK law.

The UK is said to be a Christian nation yet there is no morality or consistency in UK law.

Sorry for the delay!

I shall be uploading more posts as soon as I am used to typing with my new hand splints.

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis that has affected my hands and wrists. Short tweets and comments on Facebook are not affected but I have found longer posts to the Evolution of Belief series in particular more difficult to complete. I hope normal service will be resumed within the next few days.

I’d like to say that rheumatoid arthritis is a pain in the butt but that is one part of my body not affected by the disease. Incidentally, rheumatoid arthritis is a misnomer. Arthritis is just one symptom of Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease, which is probably a more accurate name/description as the disease can affect internal organs as well as joints, muscles and tendons.

During this enforced intermission, may I suggest http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/ for a jolly good online read.

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